Browsing the archives for the elections category.

The Virginia 7th District Congressional Election

elections, Obama Administration, Republican Party

The Democratic nominee is Jack Trammell, who is a professor at Randolph-Macon College. Here is his Wikipedia page and his “faculty focus” page. He has written a bunch of books and has a particular interest in addressing education discrimination and disabilities.

It appears Trammell was caught a bit flat-footed by Cantor’s defeat; he doesn’t even have a proper “Trammell for Congress” web page, just a donation page. If you want to throw him some money to get a proper campaign going, here is his Act Blue page.

The Republican nominee, David Brat, also is a professor at Randolph-Macon. He does have a proper “Brat for Congress” site, and here is his “issues” page. You can see it’s pretty much a wingnut checklist.

Along with a Ph.D. in economics Brat, a Catholic, has a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. The new Rick Santorum? According to Brat’s Wikipedia page, his published papers include “God and Advanced Mammon: Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” and “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” I seriously hope those go online sometime. See Steve M for more on Brat’s connections to the Church of Ayn Rand.

David Weigel’s analysis of how Brat defeated Cantor is essential reading. A lot of people are focusing on the education reform issue, but Weigel shows there’s a lot more to it than that. In a nutshell, the baggers and the lunatic fringe — Allen West, Laura Ingraham, et al. — are interested only in total opposition to President Obama. They are no longer interested in enacting conservative policies if doing so means compromising so much as a hair. Cantor was caught trying to please the U.S.Chamber of Commerce / ALEC / American Enterprise Institute crowd — the GOP’s chief sponsors — and in doing so he ran afoul of the bagger agenda, which is that Washington must do NOTHING that requires Democratic votes to pass. And as long as Dems hold the Senate, that pretty much means Washington must do NOTHING.

But Cantor made the mistake of trying to do SOMETHING.

In 2013, Cantor and the counter-establishment flew apart. Less than a month after Obama’s second inauguration, Cantor debuted a vision for a new GOP that would “make life work.” What if the GOP incentivized people to buy better health care and seek more useful college degrees? What if it went a little easier on immigrants? “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” Cantor said at a February 2013 speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He pushed through school choice bills (The Student Success Act), and helped amend the farm bill to add more work requirements for food-stamp recipients.

None of this was “liberal,” per se. It just wasn’t what the conservative base had asked for, campaigned for, voted for. It was the agenda of the establishment, simpatico with the Chamber of Commerce. The business community had been there to elect Republicans in 2010 (and with less success in 2012), but in 2013 it was asking for Republicans to pass some sort of immigration reform and avoid a government shutdown. Cantor went with Democrats on a three-day tour to boost reform; he sought out a number of ways to avoid a shutdown, including a failed gambit to split the “defund Obamacare” vote from a separate appropriations vote.

My understanding is that Cantor was the one Republican leader in the House who could most skillfully thread the tactical needle, obstructing President Obama without allowing the GOP to shoot itself in the foot, Ted Cruz/government shutdown style. Without him, the freak flag is more likely to fly. Heh.

I don’t think anyone has any true sense of where this election might go, or if Trammell has even a remote hope of winning Cantor’s gerrymandered district. No matter who wins, though, I think losing Cantor in the House is going to b a huge handicap for the GOP.

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Eric Cantor Has Been Primaried!

elections, Republican Party

This just in

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated Tuesday by a little-known economics professor in Virginia’s Republican primary, a stunning upset and major victory for the tea party.

Cantor is the second-most powerful member of the U.S. House and was seen by some as a possible successor to the House speaker.

His loss to Dave Brat, a political novice with little money marks a huge victory for the tea party movement, which supported Cantor just a few years ago.

What can one say but …

I don’t know who the Democratic nominee may be. And of course if the baggers prefer this guy Brat to Cantor, Brat’s got to be downright frightening. Still …


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The Koch Brothers’ Labyrinthe


Someone at WaPo actually committed an act of journalism; see “Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012.”

Matea Gold writes,

The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents. …

…A labyrinth of tax-exempt groups and limited-liability companies helps mask the sources of the money, much of which went to voter mobilization and television ads attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats, according to tax filings and campaign finance reports.

The article goes on to describe the Koch’s several astroturf organizations are set up in a way that cloaks the donors, so there is no way to find out where money originates. The article doesn’t say this, but seems to me there could be all kinds of foreign money flooding into our election process through this labyrinth, and we’d never know about it.

For that matter, we don’t know how much of their own money the brothers Koch are pouring into this.

I liked this part:

Tracing the flow of the money is particularly challenging because many of the advocacy groups swapped funds back and forth. The tactic not only provides multiple layers of protection for the original donors but also allows the groups to claim they are spending the money on “social welfare” activities to qualify for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.

As sure as the night follows the day, some commenters got on WaPo and chalenged them to print an expose of George Soros and the Unions and what they are contributing. But that wouldn’t be an expose, because that appears to be public knowledge. According to Open Secrets, Soros Fund Management spent $2,775,000 during te 2012 election cycle. By comparison, Sheldon Adelson was snookered for paid out $92,796,625 during the same period. But I couldn’t find information on the Koch brothers’ donations at all. It’s like they don’t exist, or something. Very creepy.

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Is Virginia a Bellwether?


At the moment, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has a decent lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race. It’s way early to declare victory, of course, and I’m lukewarm about McAuliffe generally. But what’s interesting here is that McAuliffe is ahead mostly because he has a huge lead among women.

The shift in the race has come almost exclusively from female voters, who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin over Cuccinelli. The candidates were effectively tied among women in a Washington Post poll in May.

McAuliffe’s strength among women is probably due in part to an intense campaign to portray Cuccinelli as a threat to women and the issues they care about most deeply. A new McAuliffe ad, for instance, features a Norfolk OB-GYN speaking directly to the camera about how she is “offended” by Cuccinelli’s position on abortion.

We saw a lot of this during the 2012 elections, but it’s so good to find Dems unabashedly supporting abortion rights and learning this can win elections for them.

Dave Wiegel doesn’t mention McAuliffe’s support among women, but says the GOP is gobsmacked that McAuliffe is winning.

What mystifies Republicans is that McAuliffe, who they consider a homonoculus made of pure sleaze, trounces Cuccinelli on questions of “trustworthiness” and ethics. Voters simply know more, and worry more, about Cuccinelli’s financial scandals than about McAuliffe’s. And they narrowly prefer the Democrats in the downballot lieutenant governor and attorney general races, before Democrats have really gotten on the air to amplify the social conservative positions of the GOP candidates. (LG candidate E.W. Jackson is the guy who worries that Satan might fill the hearts of people who engage in meditation. For an example.)

It’s by no means clear that Republicans know how to combat this. The most effective ad I’ve seen (in D.C., we get a decent amount of Virginia TV) comes from Citizens United; it condenses their documentary about McAuliffe’s failing businesses and disappointed employees into a spot reminiscent of the anti-Romney spots that worked so well in 2012. More recently, I saw this spot from the new Super PAC Fight for Tomorrow. It started running on September 12.

[The ad is a hoot, btw]

The ad speaks to the conservative frustration with Virginia — how, how, how can voters not see that McAuliffe is a Democratic sleeper agent? In a fundraising pitch, FF asks for “$400,000-$600,000” to run the ad and promises that Virginia “can be a Gettysburg for the whole Obama-Clinton nightmare.”

I haven’t spent enough time in Virginia to have a feel for what works there and what doesn’t. If you ran that ad in New York City media, people might assume they were watching a rerun from Saturday Night Live. And if McAuliffe is a radical leftie, I’m a blowfish.

Republicans accuse McAuliffe of being obsessed with social issues. That’s rich, considering Cuccinelli’s war on oral sex.

This race could easily tighten up again before it’s over. But if McAuliffe wins because of women’s votes, it would make the GOP crazy. Heh.

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Thompson Concedes to de Blasio

elections, New York New York

More good news — the NY Times says that William Thompson will concede the NYC mayoral Democratic nomination to Bill de Blasio. So there will be no messy runoff.

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The New New Left


Joan Walsh rips apart a Politico column by Todd Purdum that disses Bill de Blasio. She adds,

I question Purdum’s lazy framing of de Blasio as the “tall” candidate who happens to be “small” – small as in having no national stature but also, I think he means, having no big ideas. In fact de Blasio wants to make New York, once the laboratory of the New Deal and the capital of liberalism, a leader in a new urban policy that addresses the corrosive effects of income inequality. That’s “big,” Todd. He may not do it, but he’s thinking big.

Also, too,

As we now know, de Blasio narrowly defeated the black candidate, Thompson, among African Americans; the LGBT candidate, Quinn, among LGBT voters, as well as the woman, Quinn again, among female voters, and the Jewish candidate, Anthony Weiner, among Jews.

Conservatives are certain that a Mayor de Blasio will turn New York City into the next Detroit. One commenter described de Blasio’s call for “safe streets” as “veering from the liberal left,” because we liberals cannot sleep at night if we think the streets are safe. My favorite de Blasio hell-in-a-handbasket prediction is this one:

To start, setting an arbitrary minimum wage is not only going to encourage low-skill employers in the small business sector to avoid the city, it could also increase rents and prices if employers pass on the addition costs to consumers making the city even less “affordable.” If de Blasio intends to increase rent controls, that does nothing but lead to rent increases in the long-run, which decreases the availability of affordable housing. Free lunches for children actually discourages parental responsibility for meeting the needs of their children. Lastly, the reason that child care is such a problem in New York city among low-income residents is a reflection of low marriage rates. Universal pre-K gives fathers yet another reason not to care for their children and fosters irresponsiblity.

That’s right, folks; universal pre-K leads to deadbeat dads. And de Blasio hasn’t called for free lunches in school, which low-income children already get, but that New York fully participate in an already existing federal program that subsidizes breakfasts in school.

The Republican nominee, Joseph Lhota, already is claiming that de Blasio is trying to divide the city with class warfare. That’s because de Blasio is big on reducing income inequality, which Republicans consider to be something that polite people don’t discuss in public.

“Calling it a tale of two cities, that level of invective has no place in any campaign, at all,” said Mr. Lhota, who was a deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration and later chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “It divides people. What we really need to do is to work together and provide a solution, not separating people and then saying that the ends justify the means.”

Unfortunately for Lhota, New Yorkers aren’t known for being polite. And I don’t see them falling for this.

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Today in New York


Today on another 9/11 anniversary we may be seeing a significant shift in New York City politics. You’ve probably heard that Democrat Bill de Blasio came in first in yesterday’s mayoral primary. We’re waiting for all the absentee ballots to be counted to see if he got 40 percent of the vote, which would relieve us all of the need for a runoff with the second-highest vote earner, William Thompson.

De Blasio has been called an “unapologetic tax-the-rich liberal” who has vowed to end the city’s racist “stop and frisk” policy. The establishment candidate, the one all the newspapers and Mayor Bloomberg endorsed and who had the backing of whatever Powers That Be run the city, was Christine Quinn. She came in a distant third.

For months I kept hearing that Quinn had the nomination sewed up, and the only rival who might give her a serious challenge was Anthony Weiner. You can see how that turned out. This is one reason why I keep tuning out people who have already conceded the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton. As an old saying goes, there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

Another interesting aspect of the race is that Quinn, who is openly gay, got a lot of early liberal support because she would have been the first woman, never mind lesbian, mayor of New York City. But Quinn turned out to be a squishy moderate, politically, and there was a late surge for de Blasio, who said all the right stuff for many people.

The financial elites of New York City are in a panic, because de Blasio has pledged to raise taxes by half a percent on incomes of over half a million dollars and use the money to fund universal pre-k. Oh, the horror!

I agree with Steve M

Of course, the rich aren’t really “terrified.” They’re insulted. They’ve been the kings and queens of the last decade or two. They’ve come out of the economic downturn smelling like a rose; we now have levels of inequality not seen since the 1920s. And they feel entitled to more of the same. They think they deserve an exemption from criticism.

I expect the Republican nominee, Joseph Lhota — a relic of the Guiliani administration — to get a big boost in campaign funds for the general election. The Powers That Be are going to throw everything at their disposal to knock down de Blasio.

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The Secret Buddhist Plot to Take Over America Continues

Congress, elections

A big shout-out to Mazie Hirono, the new senator-elect (and a Democrat) from Hawaii. Although I don’t know if she practices now, she was raised Jodo Shinshu, and has said she takes a lot of her values from Buddhism.

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The Narrative, the Bandwagon, and the Wave

elections, Obama Administration

Yesterday Alec MacGillis wrote about how news media love the narrative of a close election, and how for weeks reporting has been tilted to keep the narrative alive. And Michael Tomasky wrote about the way the Romney campaign is whipping up the impression that Mittens has the Big Mo and Obama is fading. The latter is, of course, an attempt to build a “bandwagon” effect that will cause wavering voters to fall in line behind Romney. See also Jonathan Chait:

Obama’s lead is narrow — narrow enough that the polling might well be wrong and Romney could win. But he is leading, his lead is not declining, and the widespread perception that Romney is pulling ahead is Romney’s campaign suckering the press corps with a confidence game.

As I mentioned yesterday, people analyzing all the polls together say that Mitt’s post-Denver surge sputtered to a halt early last week, and since then the President’s numbers have slightly improved. And it’s not unreasonable to think Monday’s debate probably helped the President a bit.

Further, Kos argues that many polls are making assumptions about “likely” voters that favor Romney, but there are reasons (which Kos provides) to believe the assumptions are wrong and the President will do better than the polling suggests. We’ll see. I’m personally trying very hard to be realistic and not comfort myself with wishful thinking. It’s way too close now.

But then there are righties. One rightie blogger after another today is writing about the coming Romney tidal wave. “Could this be a wave election?” asked Polipundit. He’s convinced himself that the liberal media is lying to him about the mood of the electorate, and that not only will Romney win in a landslide, the Senate will return to Republican hands as well. Robert Stacy McCain mocks Nate Silver as the director of the Democrat Graveyard Whistling Choir. You run into this on rightie blog after rightie blog; they believe that not only is Romney going to win (possible, but by no means certain) but win big (not possible; if he wins, it will be by a hair).

And of course, if Nate Silver’s projections turn out to be right, they’re going to scream “election fraud!” until they all turn blue and their lungs fall out.

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Reality and Its Detractors

elections, Mittens, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

There possibly is no clearer measure of the difference between the U.S. Right and Left than the way we react to bad news. Righties immediately scream that the whatever-they-don’t-like is a lie, because it doesn’t fit what they think reality is supposed to be. And they blame somebody else, usually news media, or Democrats, or anybody but them. The whatever-it-is is never their fault.

Lefties accept the reality, sometimes perceiving the reality as even worse than it is. Then we blame ourselves (or at least each other), and form circular firing squads.

(It really does resemble the dynamics of domestic abuse situations, in which the abuser is perpetually flying into rages because the world isn’t the way he (or she) wants it to be. And then he (or she) concocts some reason to blame the significant other, or the kids, and takes the rage out on them. The abusee, all too often, blames her/himself and accepts the abuse.)

This week a Gallup daily tracking poll showed a significant lead for Mitt Romney. Nate Silver calmly and rationally explains why there is reason to think the Gallup poll is wrong. In a nutshell, the Gallup daily tracking poll has a history of swinging wildly in ways that don’t show up in other polls, and whenever that happens Gallup usually is wrong. See Nate for the wonky details; Business Insider provides a simplified version of what Nate wrote for those of us who don’t speak wonk.

Predictable headlines from rightie blogs:

“Nate Silver Blows Gasket as Gallup Shows Romney Pulling Away in the Presidential Horse Race” (American Power)

“Nate Silver Asks: Whose Shark Is This, and Why Do I Feel a Need to Jump It?” (The Other McCain)

“Romney Surges In Polls, Nate Silver Hardest Hit” (The Lonely Conservative).

That last headline is especially off, because the other polls, as in plural, are mostly showing Obama making a small gain over Romney (see also Sam Wang’s latest figures). It’s just the Gallup poll that shows a “surge.” Oh, and a Pew poll taken before the Tuesday debate shows Romney looking better on foreign policy. But that’s about it.

Speaking of foreign policy, Mittens hasn’t been talking about Libya lately. I wonder why?

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