Tag Archive: 2014 Elelctions

Nov 18 2014

Fighting Big Money in Politics

This past election saw the lowest voter turn out in 70 years, This happened for a number of reasons, one of which was uninspiring candidates who offered little to no policy agenda, voter fatigue (boredom?) and new voter ID laws that suppressed voters. Another factor that may have effected turn out was the $4 billion that was spent on this campaign flooding the airways with uninspired advertising that turned people off and the lack of an unbiased, independent media. Many candidates couldn’t get their message to the voters because they didn’t have the money for campaign ads and the corporate owned media, with its own agenda, favored certain candidates.

This week Bill Moyers spoke with two academics who got involved this election attempting to spark public interest without the big money. They related their experiences and the lessons they learned about the state of the American democracy.

Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Harvard, is a well-known Internet activist and campaign finance reform advocate. This election cycle, he started a crowd-funded SuperPAC aimed at reducing the influence of money in politics. Lessig tells Bill: “Our democracy is flat lined. Because when you can show clearly there’s no relationship between what the average voter cares about, only if it happens to coincide with what the economic elite care about, you’ve shown that we don’t have a democracy anymore.”

Zephyr Teachout, a professor of constitutional and property law at Fordham Law School, ran against New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She received more than a third of the vote and carried 30 of the state’s 62 counties, surprising everyone – including Cuomo. “When you talk about the corruption in Congress, people are talking about the same thing that Madison was talking about. This sense that our public servants are just serving themselves,” Teachout tells Bill.

Nov 04 2014

Election Day is Here: Vote Your Fear

Finally, after today no more robo calls and no more political adds, at least for awhile. Voter turn out is expected to be low, as typical in mid-terms and as was seen in 2006, the party that is not in the White House is expected to take over the leadership of the Senate and further secure its majority in the House. Why voters will put the party that destroyed the US economy and got us into two unpaid for wars is pretty obvious, Americans are afraid and the Democratic party doesn’t exactly exude the confidence that they can lead. The GOP hung their hats on fear and won.

The Phantasmagoric World of Washington

By Tom Engelhardt, Huffington Post

Sometimes it seemed that only two issues mattered in the midterm election campaigns just ended.  No, I’m not talking about Obamacare, or the inequality gap, or the country’s sagging infrastructure, or education, or energy policy.  I mean two issues that truly threaten the well-being of citizens from Kansas, Colorado, and Iowa to New Hampshire and North Carolina.  In those states and others, both were debated heatedly by candidates for the Senate and House, sometimes almost to the exclusion of anything else.

You know what I’m talking about — two issues on the lips of politicians nationwide, at the top of the news 24/7, and constantly trending on social media: ISIS and Ebola.  Think of them as the two horsemen of the present American apocalypse.

And think of this otherwise drab midterm campaign as the escalation election.  Republican candidates will arrive in Washington having beaten the war and disease drums particularly energetically, and they’re not likely to stop. [..]

Keep this in mind as well: We’re talking about a country that has lived in a phantasmagoric landscape of danger for years now.  It has built the most extensive system of national security and global surveillance ever created to protect Americans from a single danger — terrorism — that, despite 9/11, is near the bottom of the list of actual dangers in American life.  As a country, we are now so invested in terrorism protection that every little blip on the terror screen causes further panic (and so sends yet more money into the coffers of the national security state and the military-industrial-homeland-security-intelligence complex).

Now, a terror disease has been added into the mix, one that — like a number of terror organizations in the Greater Middle East and Africa — is a grave danger in its “homeland,” just not in ours.

Sep 10 2014

The Primaries Aftermath

The primaries are over and the campaigning for November will now commence. There were no real surprises last night except perhaps for nine term Democratic Representative John Tierney who lost to political newcomer Seth Moulton in the state’s 6th Congressional District.

Tierney is the fourth House incumbent and first Democrat to lose a primary this year.

He joins Republican Reps. Kerry Bentivolio of Michican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the former majority leader, and Ralph Hall of Texas on the House casualty list.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, won but not as big as the Cuomo camp would have liked

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) won his primary and will very likely go on to win re-election as governor, but it was an ugly victory. With 98.3 percent of precincts reporting Cuomo took 62.1 percent of the primary vote compared to 34.2 percent for his main opponent Zephyr Teachout, who ran to his left. That may seem like a decent margin but it is actually a very weak performance by historical standards for an incumbent governor.

In Rhode Island, the voters chose a woman and an Asian man to run for the governorship, the time in RI history that there isn’t a white male running.

Democrats chose General Treasurer Gina Raimondo over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Obama administration official Clay Pell. On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung beat businessman Ken Block.

If elected, Raimondo would be the Ocean State’s first woman governor, while Fung would be its first Asian-American governor.

The Democratic race was especially contentious, as Raimondo was sometimes characterized as too sympathetic to Wall Street, due in part to a controversial pension reform plan she helped usher through the state legislature.

Fung, for his part, has had to explain his involvement in a car crash 25 years ago, when he was 18, that resulted in a man’s death. All charges against Fung, who claims he lost consciousness while driving, were eventually dropped.

In New Hampshire, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown secured his spot on the ballot to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan easily won her primary and will vie to keep her seat out of the hands of Republican businessman Walt Havenstein.

Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakely will face the Republican Charlies Baker in his second try to become governor. He lost to current Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010

The best summation of last night’s results come from Charlie Pierce who wants to talk about the Democrats we don’t like and why:

In Rhode Island, the Democratic nominee for governor is Gina Raimondo, and the national press loves her already because, as state treasurer, she knuckled the public employee unions, and there’s nothing the national press loves more than Democratic politicians who give their most faithful constituents a damn good public rogering.

  Analysts were already predicting that if she won in November, Ms. Raimondo could go on to become a national star in the party, showing fellow Democrats that responsible policy is not necessarily bad politics, although organized labor may choose to differ.

Lovely sentence, that. “Responsible policy” set up as the direct opposite of “organized labor.” In praise of a Democratic candidate. And a hint as to who these “analysts” were would be helpful.

Raimondo’s raid on public employee pensions began just about as soon as she was elected state treasurer. And, as Matt Taibbi pointed out in a lengthy Rolling Stone piece, Raimondo was not acting on her own. The “tough choices” she was making, she was making on behalf of people who haven’t made tough choices since they were in diapers. [..]

And then there’s Andrew Cuomo, who is as beholden to the thieves as Raimondo is, but he’s far more of an obvious dick about it. Cuomo won re-nomination last night, albeit not as overwhelmingly as he needed to in order to start booking rooms in Ottumwa for December of 2015. So, as is customary, defeated candidate Zephyr Teachout tried to call Cuomo to congratulate him on his victory.

   Apparently, Cuomo kept up the act straight through primary night. He did not hold a victory party (which would have suggested he participated in a primary), and Teachout was reportedly unable to concede to the governor with a phone call, as he wouldn’t give her his number.

What kind of an arrogant jackeen doesn’t give his opponent his phone number? As far as I know, that’s unprecedented in a major political campaign. But the success of Cuomo and Raimondo, and who their friends are, and who they’re beholden to, makes me exceedingly nervous over what may happen on the Wednesday after election day in November. If the Democrats lose disastrously, losing their Senate majority, a bloodbath in the House, I guarantee you that the conventional wisdom of how the party was “dragged too far left” by that liberal lion, Barack Obama, and how it must purge the remnants of the “Occupy” movement in order to court the votes of “independents” and “centrists,” will spring up all over the elite political media like mushrooms after a hard rain; “Analysts” will tell you that Elizabeth Warren’s time is done, and that Gina Raimondo is the future of the Democratic party. And the rich will get richer, which is how it’s supposed to be.

There aren’t any really good choices for New Yorkers or Rhode Islanders.

Sep 09 2014

The Last of the 2014 Primaries Today

Today is Primary Day in five states, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. As with all primaries voter turn out is expected to be low, if not, abysmal. But these elections are even more important than the general election since it gives the members of the individual parties to voice their opinions to the party heads who, for the most part, are out of touch with the general electorate or just willfully ignoring them. This is the vote that makes the bigger difference in the direction the country takes. So, if you are eligible to vote in any of today’s primaries, get your butt to the polls and make your opinion known.

Here is the who’s who for today:

New York: The race for the Democratic nomination for governor and lieutenant governor, a separate line on the ballot in NY, has attracted nationwide attention. It pits incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo and his choice for lieutenant governor, former Representative Kathy Hochul against Fordham law professor, Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, Columbia law professor Tim Wu.

Gov. Cuomo’s refusal to debate Prof. Teachout and his obvious public snubbing her at Saturday’s NYC Labor Day parade then denying he even saw her despite evidence to the contrary, has made this race a news media delight.

What’s one way for a powerful incumbent to deal with an unwelcome primary challenger?

Act like she doesn’t exist.

That’s the model Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has deployed in fending off Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, who has been running to the Democratic governor’s left.

The strategy was on its most vivid display Saturday when Teachout attempted to greet Cuomo at a New York City parade but was repeatedly boxed out by one of the governor’s aides as Cuomo appeared determined to ignore his opponent.

Teachout’s candidacy is built on the premise that the incumbent is too close to Wall Street and Republican lawmakers — a perhaps difficult tack given Cuomo’s progressive bona fides highlighted by the same-sex marriage law and tough new gun control legislation he pushed through in Albany.

Cuomo is expected to cruise to victory on Tuesday, but Teachout’s candidacy has been a nuisance to the first-term governor.

Cuomo began only this past weekend to campaign actively for re-election, and he suggested to the Washington Post that he could simultaneously be a “liberal Democrat” and a “moderate Democrat.”

Gov, Cuomo’s biggest problems are the federal investigation of his dissolution of his Moreland Commission that was investigating NY state election finance corruption and the fact that he isn’t a Democrat at all. He will likely win.

His running mate, Kathy Hochul, however, may not, which could have some interesting results for November if the governor doesn’t dump Hochul.

Such an action could be needed because a Wu victory would result in a Cuomo/Wu ticket on the Democratic line in the November election but potentially disastrous Cuomo/Hochul tickets on the Working Families, Independence, and Women’s Equality lines, where no primaries are slated.

Under the state Election Law, votes for a Cuomo/Hochul ticket in November would not be added to the tally for the Cuomo/Wu ticket, potentially costing Cuomo hundreds of thousands of votes.

Cuomo would have until Sept. 16 under the election law to swap Wu for Hochul, using a technique that would allow the former Buffalo-area congresswoman and lawyer to be nominated instead for a judgeship, according to an expert on legislative election law.

I love New York.

Massachusetts: Incumbent Governor Deval Patrick (D) decided not the run for a third term. Vying for the Democratic nod are:

Martha Coakley, current MA Attorney General who lost her bid in the 2010 special election for the senate seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy to Republican Scott Brown;

Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official;

Steve Grossman, the MA state treasurer, who was endorsed by the state party, as well as the Boston Globe.

On the Republican side:

Charlie Baker, who won the Republican nomination in 2010, is the former state Secretary of Finance and Administration and the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care;

Mark Fisher, a businessman aligned with the tea party.

The winners will face three independent candidates in November.

New Hampshire: The Republicans who hope to unseat Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen are:

Scott Brown, former MA senator who lost his bid for a full term to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and moved across the border to NH to try again;

Bob Smith, former US senator;

Jim Rubens, a former state senator.

Hoping to challenge Democratic incumbent Governor Maggie Hassan are:

Andrew Hemingway, a 32-year-old entrepreneur and presidential campaign veteran;

Walt Havenstein, businessman and the frontrunner on the GOP side.

Sep 07 2014

Keeping An Eye On Kansas

Kansas State Seal photo Seal_of-Kansas_zps747315a6.jpg
Kansas has always been a strange place for politics. Since joining the Union as a slave free state on January 29, 1861, Kansas has been one of the most socially conservative states of the union, driving its politics off the right wing cliff. Currently, Republican Senator Pat Roberts is in a tight fight to maintain his seat, barely winning his primary. His Democratic challenger, Chad Taylor, withdrew from the race at the last minute this week but Kansas Secretary of State says his name must remain on the ballot. Still, this gives the better funded Independent candidate, Greg Orman, a shot at unseating Roberts in what would be a real upset

Polling analysts, who usually sneer at the possibility of “game-changers” disrupting the fundamental trends of a race, are now all worked up about the game-changing possibilities on display here. Nate Silver declares that the Kansas Senate race “just got crazy,” adding that his “totally wild guess” early on is that the contest is now a “toss up.” (Studious Nate, as always, would like to think about this for a little while.) Princeton’s Sam Wang puts Orman’s “winGO probability at 85 percent,” meaning “the probability of Democratic control of the Senate is about to pop up by 20-30 percent.” Nathan Gonzalez, writing at the Rothenberg Political Report, dubs Roberts the “most vulnerable Republican Senator in the country.” [..]

The race will hinge on how Orman chooses to define himself and how Roberts and the Republicans choose to define Orman. If it breaks down into an effective Democrat vs. Republican race, you’d think, just given the fact that this is Kansas in a strong Republican year with an unpopular Democratic president, that Roberts would be able to pull it off. But if Orman can manage to maintain the “independent” image and marry a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans, then he could pull off this most unlikely of upsets.

However, the Democrats need to be careful about wishing for an Orman win. It may not change anything since Orman, a Republican who once ran as a Democrat, has parked himself in the middle

The problem for election forecasters is that Orman has given a novel answer to the question of which party he would caucus with should he win. “If one party is clearly in the majority,” Orman’s campaign website says, “he will seek to caucus with the party that was in the majority as that would be in the best interest for the state of Kansas.”

More importantly, Orman has been coy about what he might do in the event his caucus choice would determine which party held the majority. “If I get elected, there’s a reasonable chance that neither party will have a majority in Washington,” Orman told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. “If that is the case, I’m gonna caucus with whichever party is willing to actually go to Washington and start trying to solve problems as opposed to just pleasing the extremists in their own base.” [..]

If either party wins a majority with room to spare, Orman’s choice is irrelevant. If Democrats end up with 50 seats or Republicans win 51, Orman can give the majority party one extra vote, but his choice will not decide which party takes control. (Vice President Joe Biden votes with the Democrats to break ties, so Democrats would have a working majority with 50 votes in their caucus.) However, if the Democrats hold 49 seats and the Republicans win 50, Orman will be in a position to determine the majority.

Add to the fact that the very unpopular Republican governor, Sam Brownback, is in serious jeopardy of losing to a Democrat, Paul Davis, makes Kansas worth watching.

Kansas has been crazy for a long time, maybe now the voters are fed up with the crazies. As Doc Maddow would say: Keep watching this space.

Jun 11 2014

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Loses to Tea Party Challenger

The Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary in Virginia’s 7th District tonight to Tea Party Challenger Dave Brat.

The conservative challenger’s victory halts one of the most meteoric rises in national politics, and illustrates the strong anti-incumbent fever that has taken over Cantor’s Richmond-area district. Cantor is the second House incumbent to lose this primary season – Texas GOP incumbent Ralph Hall was defeated by a tea-party backed challenger at the end of May.

And the idiot Democrats didn’t field a challenger because they thought the seat was not winnable. Stupid.

Correction: According to David Nir at Daily Los, there is a Democratic challenger Democrat, Jack Trammel, who, like Brat, is a professor at Randolph-Macon College.

This also throws Republican leadership into question.

Up Date:

HuffPo has piece that there was a crazy plan by former congressman Ben Jones (D-Ga.), better known as “Cooter” from Dukes of Hazzard, who ran against Cantor in 200:

Crossing party lines to vote in an open primary has a long tradition in the solidly one-party South, Cooter argues in his letter. “[B]y voting for David Brat in the Seventh District Republican primary, we Democrats, independents, and Libertarians can make a big difference in American politics,” he argues. “It is your right to cast that vote. It is an ‘open’ primary and it doesn’t preclude anyone from voting anyway they wish in November. It may be the only way to empower those who want to make a statement about the dysfunctional Congress and ‘politics as usual.'”

Who knew this may have been the reason for Cantor’s loss.