Governor Paul LePage Must Exit “Stage Right”— It’s Congressman Mike Michaud’s Turn July 17, 2014
Campaign 2014 is not only about control of the U.S. Senate and House. Gubernatorial seats will also be up for grabs. Because many “Blue” voters stayed home in 2010, Democrats not only lost the House, but also the majority of U.S. governors. GOPers presently have 29 governorships, the Democrats 21. Holding the majority of governorships is not just about bragging rights. After the 2010 elections, GOP Governors worked in tandem with Republican majority-controlled state legislatures. As constitutionally required every 10 years, these governors/legislatures redrew state and federal seats. These seats were lopsidedly reconfigured/ gerrymandered, for Republican candidates, (See Barone 14 Political Almanac). Governors set the agenda for spending, budgeting, and social issues. Many GOP Governors have encouraged their legislatures to pass abortion restrictions and laws that suppress voting in poor and minority communities (Charlotte Observer, 5/30/14, Winston Salem Journal, 5/06/13, Charlotte Magazine, 11/2013). Twenty-four states, a majority of them with GOP Governors, have refused to accept Medicaid expansion as part of Obamacare, leaving 5.7 million people uninsured by 2016 (White House Council of Economic Advisers, 7/02/14 report, “Think Progress,” McCarter, Kos, 7/02/14).
Voters are now having “buyer’s remorse” against many of the GOP governors they elected in 2010. Meet Maine’s GOP Governor Paul LePage.
Maine’s GOP first-term Governor Paul LePage (65) had a rough start. A native of Lewiston, Maine’s “Little Canada,” LePage grew up speaking French. The oldest son of 18 children, he came from a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional family. When he was 11, LePage left home, after his father severely beat him. LePage spent two years living on Lewiston’s streets where he supported himself shining shoes and cleaning horse stables. He slept in cars, hallways, and a strip joint. At 13, two families jointly adopted him. He put himself through high school hauling boxes and washing dishes. State legislator Peter Snowe, who later married future GOP Maine U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, befriended LePage. Snowe helped LePage get into Bangor’s HussonUniversity. Le Page went on to obtain his B.S. in Business Administration. He received an M.B.A. from the University of Maine (Barone14, votesmart.org/bio). He worked in forestry and founded his own consulting firm. Since1996, he has been general manager of Marden’s Surplus and Salvage, Maine’s largest retail chain (Barone 14, Ballotpedia).
In 1998, LePage successfully ran for Waterville’s City Council. He served two terms. In 2003, he ran and won the race for Waterville Mayor. In the 2010 seven-person GOP gubernatorial primary, LePage proclaimed himself a solid fiscal and social conservative who agreed with the then influential Tea Party. LePage promised to cut every dollar of wasteful state spending. He used his “hard knocks life” story to show how he could succeed. He won a 37% primary victory (Barone 14).
In the general election, he faced Democratic candidate state Senate president Libby Mitchell and Independent Eliot Cutler, a former associate director of President Jimmy Carter’s Office of Management and Budget. LePage started out with a lead but his controversial statements and blunt “take-no-prisoners” manner nearly defeated him. He proposed a five-year limit on welfare benefits, adding: “At the end of five years, if you still need welfare, I will personally buy (you) a ticket to Massachusetts so (you) can start over.” LePage stormed out of the room when reporters questioned him about his wife claiming a Florida homestead exemption. He was rightly criticized when he told a 9/2010 forum that, “As your governor, you’re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page saying, ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.”’ Cutler picked up several newspaper endorsements and narrowed LePage’s lead. In the end, third-party Cutler and Democrat Mitchell split the vote, 36% and 19% respectively and LePage squeaked to a 38%. The 55% anti-LePage vote was fractured by third-party Cutler eating into Democratic Mitchell’s tally (Barone 14). In Tea Party/GOP tsunami year, 2010, the GOP also won majorities in both legislative houses (Barone, 14).
In 4/2013, NY Times analyst Nate Silver ranked LePage as the country’s 13th most conservative governor. With his GOP legislatures, LePage passed a two-year budget containing a record $150 million tax cut. He lowered the top Maine income tax rate from 8.5% to 7.95% (Barone 14, “Politico,”C.Woodard, 1/08/14). LePage rolled back state environmental laws. He made national headlines by stopping a state agency ban on bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor, in baby bottles. Le Page defended restoring BPA. He said the worst that could happen was that “some women may have little beards (Huffington Post, 2/23/11, Bangor Daily News, 2/22/11).”After nearly unanimous votes in then both Maine GOP houses to ban BPA in baby bottles, LePage let the bill become law without his signature (good-chemistry.org, Portland Press Herald). LePage imposed a five-year limit on welfare benefits, to keep Maine from being a “welfare destination state (“Politico,” Woodard).”Gov. LePage vetoed a record 182 bills. Most of those vetoes came after 2013 when Democrats retook both legislative chambers. Democrats overrode 20 of those vetoes, including his 2013-2014 state budget (Bangor Daily News, 1/11/14 & 5/01/14, Kennebec Journal, 1/21/13).
LePage successfully vetoed three times expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 60,000 low-income Mainers under Obamacare. The proposed expansion was backed by Maine hospitals that are expected to lose $730 million by 2022 because of his vetoes. By rejecting Medicaid expansion, Maine loses $1 million a day in federal money. LePage calls these Medicaid savings a “mirage (Mistler, Portland Press Herald, 4/09/14).” LePage is joining GOP Southern governors by refusing to take federal money to help poor and lower middle class residents.
In addition to his right wing record, LePage is a buffoonish embarrassment to a state that prides itself on consensus-minded civil lawmakers. Witness Republicans Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Democrats Ed Muskie and George Mitchell (“Politico,” Woodard). When criticized for not participating in Martin Luther King Day events, Le Page told the NAACP to “kiss my butt (Barone 14).” He likened the IRS to the “Gestapo.” When condemned for that remark, he claimed that agency’s enforcement of Obamacare would “cause a slaughter comparable to the Holocaust.” He told schoolchildren that Maine’s newspapers are full of lies and joked about “bombing the largest of them, the Portland Press Herald (“Politico,” Woodard, 1/08/14).” He threatened to move his office out of the statehouse. He refused for months to allow his commissioners to testify before state committees (Woodard). He again drew national attention by ordering a mural taken down from the State Labor Department because an anonymous letter likened it to N. Korean “brainwashing of the masses (Barone 14, Woodard).” In 6/2013, LePage was ranked 43 out of 50 by the Business Journals in job creation.
Mainers are tired of crude reactionary LePage. The Democratic takeover of both Maine legislative chambers in 2012 was aided by his antics (See Barone 14). In a recent poll, LePage had a 54% disapproval rating. In 2014, six-term Democratic Congressman, Mike Michaud (mee-SHOO), also a French-Canadian American, is running against LePage. Michaud (59) represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, CD. The PineTreeState 2nd includes the cities of Lewiston, Bangor, and Auburn. Logging, agriculture, fishing, and tourism dominate the 2nd‘s economy. Maine’s 16,000 square-mile North Woods lies in this CD. This CD leans Democratic, but has just a D+2 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI). The 2nd is not permanently tied to either party and was eccentric Ross Perot’s strongest CD in 1992 and 1996 (CQ 14 and Barone 14 Almanacs).
Born and raised in the North Woods’ Millinocket, Michaud came from a blue collar family. He is one of the few Congressmen who did not attend college. He was a mill worker and union member for 29 years, still pays his union dues, and holds his union card (Barone 14, msnbc.com, E. Margolin, 6/27/14). He was elected to the Me. House in 1980, the Me. Senate in 1994, and became Senate President. In 2002, Michaud won election to Congress. His union ties helped him in rural areas (Barone 14). In the House, although a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, he has voted with his party in the 92% range in the most recent 113th and 112th Congresses (Barone 14, Wash. Post U.S. Cong. Votes Database). The most senior (ranking) Democratic House member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, he passed a bill to increase reimbursement rates for veterans homes that treat the severely disabled and elderly. Michaud has been pushing for reform of benefits claims backlogs and technology upgrades even before the recent VA problems surfaced (CQ 14). He voted for Obamacare and tried to push LePage not to veto Medicaid expansion. Michaud was initially anti-choice. However, after hearing in Congress about the personal problems women have faced, he now believes government should not tell a woman “whether she can or can not have an abortion.” Planned Parenthood endorsed Michaud and NARAL Pro-Choice America gave him a 100% rating. Contrary to most Maine voters, Le Page opposes abortion. Michaud promised to veto any attempt to alter Maine’s Reproductive Privacy Act, which incorporates Roe v. Wade provisions into state law (msnbc.com, Margolin, Kos, 4/01/14, AP 6/16/14).
Michaud decided to run for Governor to make Maine “a better place to live.” He wants to improve the environment, including decreasing pollution (CQ 14). Michaud has a chance to become the first openly gay elected governor in the U.S. Gov. LePage opposes same-sex marriage, although Maine voters in 2012 became the first in the nation to approve it (msnbc.com, Bangor Daily News, 5/25/12). Equality Maine, the state’s leading gay rights group, endorsed Michaud (Margolin, msnbc.com).
Maine handily voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 (CQ 14). LePage’s high unpopularity has damaged the GOP brand. Republicans have the lowest registration in the state, 28%, as opposed to 32% Democrats and 37% Independents (“Politico,” Woodard). With his campaign abilities and endorsements, Michaud should have an easy time winning in 2014. However, the GOP has a “secret/not-so secret” weapon, Eliot Cutler. With “independent” Cutler in the race, GOPers are hoping he once more splits the Democratic vote so LePage wins. (“Politico,” Woodard). With Cutler in the race, a recent poll by the University of New Hampshire has Michaud leading by just 4 points, 40%-36%. Cutler siphons off 15%, far too close for comfort (msnbc.com, 6/27/14). Some Democratic donors who once supported Cutler are switching to Michaud. Vermont Dem. Gov. Peter Shumlin is rightly warning that “a vote for Cutler is a vote for LePage (Woodward, “Politico,” msnbc, Peoples, AP ).” Maine Democrats and Independents must not replay 2010. They must come out in droves behind Michaud. Like Ralph Nader in 2000, Cutler must not be allowed to play spoiler. It’s Mike Michaud’s turn.
July 13, 2014 Addendum—Virginia GOP “Nullifies” 2013 and 2014 Elections
The GOP will do anything to deny women protection from more anti-abortion legislation. Republicans will also keep fighting to exclude poor and middle class voters from getting Medicaid under Obamacare. Exhibit A-- Virginia. Old Dominion Republicans are “nullifying” their state’s 2013 and 2014 elections. After those contests, Democrats controlled the Governorship, the Lt. Governor’s post, and had a 20-20 split in the Va. State Senate. With this balance, Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam could cast tie-breaking votes to push Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s progressive economic and social agenda. Anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive laws would then be hard to pass (Loudon Times, 1/24/14, Washington Post). McAuliffe could also be able to push through Medicaid expansion for 400,000 low-income Virginians, one of his major campaign pledges. In 6/2014, the GOP convinced conservative Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett to resign his seat by engineering job offers for him and his daughter. Puckett was offered a job on the GOP-controlled Va. Tobacco Commission while his daughter won an appointment as a domestic court judge (Firestone, NY Times, 6/09/14, Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 7/02/14, AP). Puckett’s resignation gave the GOP a 20-19 majority in the State Senate in addition to “Team Red’s” lopsided 67R, 32D, 1 Independent State House count (CQ 14 Political Almanac, Bluefield Daily Telegraph). The FBI is investigating whether bribery occurred. The Tobacco Commission’s interim executive director has been ordered to appear before a federal grand jury (Bluefield Daily Telegraph, AP).
Governor McAuliffe, who already vetoed a budget provision barring him from expanding Medicaid, is considering bypassing the legislature by expanding Medicare on his own through executive action. McAuliffe is treading carefully in this area. Any executive action he issues expanding Medicaid will probably not cover all of the Va. residents in need of this program. Unilateral action by McAuliffe expanding Medicaid, similar to President Obama’s executive orders, will aggravate hostilities with an already hyper-partisan GOP (See Washington Post, McCartney, 6/28/14). IMHO, like Obama, McAuliffe, in the face of “do nothing/obstruct everything GOP legislators,” must take executive action. McAuliffe must enact the will of the Va. voters who stood with him on this crucial issue. For more on the political issues roiling Virginia, please scroll down and read my 3/07/14 blog post.
House Whip Steve Scalise—A Linchpin in the GOP’s “Southern Fried Strategy” July 3, 2014
The GOP yells from the political rooftops that it is not exclusively the party of Southern white males. Republicans claim they want to include African Americans, Hispanics, and women. Never mind that the candidates they recruit from these groups are just as reactionary as their Southern white counterparts. With W in the White House, then Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlmann “apologized” for the GOP’s Southern Strategy, employed since Nixon’s 1968 presidential run ( See “One Party Country,” Hamburger and Wallsten). The Southern Strategy was the successful GOP attempt to capture millions of Southern white Democratic voters, upset with the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills. The Southern Strategy ripped away a key part of the Democratic presidential and congressional coalition. To keep the South “Red,” the GOP increasingly catered to that region’s racial, evangelical Protestant, and anti-government views. The Southern Strategy used “code” terms, short of the “N”-word to communicate that Republicans felt Southern white “pain” at being “displaced” by African Americans. The GOP “apology” for its Southern Strategy was, as VP Joe Biden would say, “malarkey.”
The GOP’s “Southern Fried Strategy” remains alive, well, and entrenched. Witness the recent GOP elections to replace House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Seventh-term Cantor announced he would leave this post on 7/31/2014 after his 6/10/2014 surprising primary defeat. Cantor was #2 in the House leadership behind Speaker John Boehner. Tea Party economic ideologue, David Brat, clobbered Cantor 56%-44% (CNN, D. Walsh, 6/11/14, Kos, Lewison, 6/11/14). Brat attacked Cantor for talking about immigration reform, although Cantor was killing it. Brat went after Cantor for voting against “free market principles” by bailing out Wall Street in 2008 (Walsh, CNN). In “Brat World,” Cantor’s even speaking to a Democrat constituted “high treason.”
In a 6/19/2014 vote, House GOPers elected GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to become Majority Leader. Despite all the talk about McCarthy as an “establishment” fellow defeating hard line Raul Labrador (R-Id.), there is little difference in their ultra-conservative records (Barone 14 & CQ 14 Almanacs). In Wash. Post columnist Dana Milbank’s words, “talk of Tea Party vs. GOP establishment has become a false dichotomy. In ideological terms, the Tea Party has already won the battle. Republican lawmakers new and old have shifted so far to the right that the differences among them are minor (6/20/14).” McCarthy represents Bakersfield, California. McCarthy’s 23rd Cong. District is the “reddest,” in “Blue” California, with an R+16 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI). Many Bakersfield residents trace their roots to the 1930’s Oklahoma Dust Bowl migration. Southern accents are often heard and country music thrives (Barone & CQ 14). When picking the critical #3 post of House Whip, the person charged with “whipping up the votes,” Southerners, who dominate the House GOP membership, demanded a visible place in the leadership. Speaker Boehner’s rural/suburban Ohio and McCarthy’s southern-oriented Bakersfield do not equal “the real thing.” On the first ballot for House Majority Whip, Louisiana’s Cong. Steve Scalise (skuh-LEASE) defeated two mid-Westerners. He will become Whip on 8/01/2014.Who is Scalise?
Fourth-term Congressman Steve Scalise (48) represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District (CD). The newly redistricted LA 1st centers along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. The 1st stretches from suburban St. Tammany Parish to Houma in Terrebonne Parish, parishes being the equivalent of counties. The 1st takes in Jefferson Parish’s suburban Metairie and part of New Orleans, the mainly white neighborhoods of Lakeview, Tulane, and LoyolaUniversities. Most people in the 1st CD live in Jefferson and St. Tammany Parishes. The 1st includes the city of Slidell. Much of St. Tammany Parish escaped the worst effects of 2,005 Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, Jefferson Parish still owed FEMA $54.8 million in loans for Katrina, 10% of its operating budget. Jefferson Parish requested congressional relief. The 2010 BP oil spill hit this area hard. The oil industry, retailing, and agriculture are economic pillars. Fishing, shipbuilding, and a Naval Air Station in New Orleans bolster the LA 1st. The 1st is mostly upscale and affluent. This CD has the lowest percentage of African Americans of any Louisiana District (14%), and is “lobster Red,” with an R +26 Cook Partisan Voting Index, PVI (Barone & CQ14).
Scalise grew up in Metairie where his father sold real estate. As a child, Scalise rode on his bike decked with patriotic bunting. He spoke into a battery-powered microphone urging his neighbors to vote. Viewing Ronald Reagan as his “political idol,” Scalise registered as a Republican on his 18th birthday. Scalise received a computer science degree from LA State University. He settled in Jefferson Parish where he worked as a systems engineer. He won election to the LA House in 1995 and served for 12 years. In 2007, Scalise won election to LA’s Senate. In the state legislature, NRA member Scalise helped pass a bill that made LA the first state to bar cities from suing gun manufacturers for actions of criminals (CQ & Barone 14). Scalise was the original sponsor of LA’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which voters approved in 2004 (CQ14). When then 1st CD Rep. Bobby Jindal successfully ran for Governor, Scalise won the congressional primary. Scalise clobbered his Dem. opponent in both the 5/2008 special election and the 11/2008 general contest. Scalise has since coasted to victory (Barone & CQ 14).
Scalise is a “down- the- line” Republican and then some. His rhetoric is sharper than his predecessors (Barone 14). Scalise “thinks big” on the national scale, trying to facilitate the ascendancy of conservative policy and values. He puts a “pleasant face” on a combative agenda. The “Times Picayune” labeled Scalise “one of the GOP’s most full-throttled conservatives (Tilove, 4/29/09).”Scalise aptly noted that “after more than a decade of battling in the LA state government, I think I’ve been very active in doing that since I came to Washington (CQ14).” From 2008-2010, Scalise voted with his hard right party 98% of the time (CQ14). In the 112th and 113th Congresses, he had scores of 95% and 96% respectively (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database). He has four 0% ratings from labor’s AFL-CIO (CQ14). The American Conservative Union gave Scalise a lifetime rating of 98% and four 100% scores (Project Vote Smart, conservative.org, 2/27/14, CQ 14). Scalise backed Tex. GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid.
Though he is close to Speaker Boehner and supported his $85.4 billion sequestration budget cuts (Wash. Post, Wonkblog, 2/20/13), Scalise has been willing to cross GOP leadership. Scalise opposed the 2011 compromise on raising the debt ceiling. Failure to pass that deal would have triggered an economic freefall. Scalise refused to support aid to Eastern State Hurricane Sandy victims because that legislation did not have offsetting cuts in spending. Katrina aid was not held hostage to budget cutting threats (Barone 14). Scalise voted against the 2013 New Year’s Day fiscal cliff bill which Boehner favored. Failure to pass this legislation would have caused economic disaster. Unlike most GOPers, Scalise voted against the current farm bill and the recent budget agreement that softened some sequestration cuts (Cong. Votes Database). In 8/2013, Scalise was one of 80 House GOP hard-rightists who signed a letter urging the defunding of Obamacare. This letter helped spark a government shutdown (NY Times, Firestone, 6/19/14).
Scalise sits on the Energy & Commerce Committee. In 2010, anti-environmental Koch Industries gave Scalise $5,000 and $10,000 in 2012 (OpenSecrets.org). Scalise tows the Koch party line. He wants more offshore drilling. He is against cap-and-trade to reduce greenhouse emissions and has repeatedly voted against recognizing climate change and the human role in it. He does not believe “the scientific evidence is settled on global warming (Think Progress, B. Johnson, 3/15/11, House Energy Committee, 3/08/11, CQ 14).” Scalise is against health care reform, opposes abortion, and voted against repealing the anti-gay “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” military standard (Cong. Votes Database, CQ12). Scalise worked with Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to lay the foundation for demanding entitlement program changes in upcoming fiscal fights (CQ 14). Translation: holding future budgets hostage unless Social Security and Medicare get cut.
Scalise joined Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus. He served as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s chief candidate recruiter in 2012. He was on the GOP Policy and Steering Committees. Those groups set legislative strategies and committee assignments (Barone & CQ 14). In 2011, Scalise became the communications head of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). The 170-member RSC is the most conservative bloc and dominant force within the House Republican caucus (CQ 14, Barone 14, NY Times, D. Joachim, 6/19/14). The RSC played a central role in pushing the GOP caucus to the right on economic and social issues (Joachim). During the 2011-2012 period that Scalise ran communications, the RSC supported more radical spending cuts than the GOP leadership and panned many deals negotiated with Democrats (CQ 14). When the RSC chair stepped down in 2012, Scalise won a come-from –behind contest to head this group (Barone 14, Joachim, NY Times, 6/19/14).
Scalise, as he showed in his RSC win, was one “heck” of a campaigner/vote counter. Many pundits were unsure the Majority Whip race could be won on the first ballot. Scalise proved them wrong. Scalise rounded up votes early (Weisman, NY Times, 6/11/14, “Politico,” 6/19/14, Bresnahan, Sherman, & Palmer, 6/19/14). Scalise played the “let’s have a ‘RedState’ Southerner at the table” card. He pledged to bring the expertise of all GOP members into the leadership. He took more than 40 members of his whip team to dinner at D.C.’s Acadiana, an upscale LA fish house. He went to cheer some of his female colleagues in their annual charity softball game against the media. The day of the Whip vote, 6/19/2014, Scalise attended practice for the congressional baseball game. Scalise’s actions earned him chits. Before the vote, Scalise met with his 50 -deputy whip team in the Energy and Commerce Committee room and then marched with them to the LongworthHouseOfficeBuilding for the proceedings. During his campaign, Scalise handed out bats to his whip team with three slogans, “Bring the wood,” “Scalise Whip Team 2014,” and “Geaux!!!,” the Cajun expression for “Go (Weisman, NY Times, Bresnahan et al, “Politico”).”
Scalise’s organizing and vote counting abilities may make him a more effective Whip than McCarthy. McCarthy was blamed for losing House votes and not bringing up key proposals because Tea Party members believed his bills did not cut radically enough (Barone 14 &CQ14). IMHO, Scalise, because of his “Red” State/Tea Party ties, will appease this group even more. Scalise will do anything to keep his Whip post secure from future Tea Party challenges. Welcome to Whip Scalise’s world of “gridlock super plus.”
When Democrats stayed home in 2010, Scalise and Company took power. In 11/2014, our “Whip Team,” Democratic voters, must come out in droves. We must “bring our electoral wood,” or overwhelming voter clout. We must “Go,” take back a net 17 House seats or come close.
GOP Hog Farmer Joni Ernst—She Wants to Neuter Iowa in the United States Senate June 18, 2014
School may be out for summer, but the “math war” for control of the U.S. Senate is heating up. Minority Leader Mitch “obstructionist” McConnell (R-KY) becomes Senate Majority Leader if the GOP flips just 6 seats. Senate Democrats currently have a working majority of 55-45. However, in Campaign 2014, “Team Blue” must defend 21 seats. Six of them are toss ups, including North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska. The GOP is attempting to grab even more Senate seats, including Iowa. In Iowa, 5th term popular progressive Democrat Tom Harkin declined to run in 2014 (National Journal, Kraushaar, 1/26/13, Time Mag. Election Special, Daily Kos, dpinzow, 11/20/12). GOPers believe they have the “perfect” nominee. In the 6/03/2014 Hawkeye State Republican primary, Joni Ernst clobbered her opposition winning 56% of the vote. Ernst can now train her gun sights on Congressman Bruce Braley who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary (J. Jacobs, desmoinesregister.com, 6/04/14, “Politico,” Hohmann, 6/04/14). Let’s look at Ernst and this critical race.
Red Oak, Iowa native Joni Ernst (43) is the present GOP State Senator in that chamber’s 12th District, which serves Iowa’s southwestern area (legis.iowa.gov). A graduate of IowaState, she received a Master’s from Georgia’s ColumbusStateUniversity (ABOUT JONI, joniforiowa.com/bio). Ernst won a special election to the State Senate in 2011 and re-election in 2012 (ABOUT JONI, joniforiowa.com/bio). Ernst served in the U.S. Army Reserves and the Iowa National Guard. In the Iraq War, she did an overseas tour of Kuwait from 2003-2004. Her unit ran logistical convoys. Ernst is currently a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard (whotv.com, 4/07/14).
Ernst was an obscure state senator when she decided to enter the U.S. Senate race. She faced competition from stock broker executive and energy CEO Mark Jacobs who put $3.1 million of his own money into the race. On March 24, 2014, Ernst released her first ad on cable in the Des Moines media market and shook up the race. The ad had Ernst speaking along with pictures of pigs in pens. Ernst stated: “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.” A smiling Ernst promised to “make ‘em squeal in Washington (“Politico,” Hohmann, 6/04/14, “The Hill,”3/25/14).” Consultants praised this ad as a textbook case on getting free media. This provocative spot received “buzz,” on morning and late night shows and was heavily covered by local news. More than half a million people saw the spot on YouTube (Hohmann).
Ernst went on to grab the backing of both the GOP “establishment,” and the Tea Party Express. One of her top consultants ran Romney’s 2012 Iowa campaign. Her ad maker is a strategist for Fla. GOP Senator /Tea Party idol Marco Rubio. Rubio campaigned for Ernst. The Des Moines Register endorsed her. Mitt Romney backed her. The Senate Conservative Fund gave Ernst $112,000. The GOP-leaning Chamber of Commerce joined Ernst’s camp. Sarah Palin campaigned for Ernst in the days before the primary and stood with Ernst in a TV ad (“Politico,” Hohmann, 5/29/14, 6/04/14). After Ernst’s primary win, GOP pundits bragged about how Ernst received the endorsements and votes of both Tea Partiers and the “establishment,” avoiding a civil war. Get real! LA Times reporter Lisa Mascaro correctly noted, “establishment” is a “relative” term these days. The whole GOP, in Mascaro’s words, has been “pushed to the right (5/07/14).”
In the final 5/29/2014 pre-primary debate, Ernst could not have been clearer. In agricultural Iowa, farmer’s daughter/ hog castrator Ernst declared she would have voted against the farm bill, legislation even radical Iowa GOP Cong. Steve King voted for. She is for abolishing the Dept. of Education, which Steve King opposes. She came out against raising the federal minimum wage, which Iowans favor. Ernst recently voted against a minimum wage increase in the State Senate. Ernst embraced private accounts for young workers paying into Social Security which would gut this New Deal safety net. Ernst named the Clean Water Act as one of the most damaging laws for business. She’s on the side of big agricultural interests who pollute Iowa’s waterways with crop fertilizer and pig manure (“Politico,”Hohmann, 5/29/14 & 6/04/14, NY Times, Firestone, 6/04/14, PPP Poll on Iowans and Minimum Wage, Kos Elections, Nir, 5/30/14, Kos, 6/04/14). She volunteered she would vote for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and that she had co-sponsored a bill in the Iowa Senate to amend the state constitution to bar gay marriage. Ernst spoke out against “amnesty” in immigration reform. Ernst denied global warming is causing climate change. An abortion opponent, Ernst had previously endorsed an anti-abortion “personhood” amendment that failed in Mississippi. Ernst told the Des Moines Register that Saddam Hussein had WMD’s. In her debate, Ernst named the Senators she hoped to follow, Tea Party extremist Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Cruz disciples, Nebraska GOPer Deb Fischer and Utah’s Republican zealot Mike Lee (Erickson, “Red State,” 5/21/14).
Ernst is an Obamacare opponent. A month after her hog castration ad, Ernst was at it again. In a new TV ad, Ernst rolls up in a Harley, pulls her purse from a saddlebag, and loads up a handgun for some target practice, pointing the weapon straight at viewers. A male voice intones: “She’s not your typical candidate. Conservative Joni Ernst: mom, farm girl and a lieutenant colonel who carries more than just lipstick in her purse. Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful spending. And when she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s going to unload.” A “blam, blam, blam” of gunshot sounds follow (Des Moines Register, 5/15/14). The debate moderator asked Ernst if she would change this ad or its timing after the UC Santa Barbara shootings. Ernst declared the UCSB shootings an “unfortunate accident,” but defended the commercial by calling it an attempt to “highlight” her belief in “repealing and replacing Bruce Braley’s Obamacare.” Ernst stated that this ad shows she is a “strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That is a fundamental right (TPM, 5/30/14).” The NRA has given Ernst an “A” rating (Des Moines Register, 3/26/14). Cong. Braley’s campaign rightly took offense at Ernst calling the UCSB massacre “an accident.” The Braley campaign told the Des Moines Register,“this was a rampage against women with knives and guns.” The dead killer’s writings, videos, and actions clearly constituted premeditation.
Fourth-term Cong. Bruce Braley (55) is heir to Sen. Harkin’s progressivism. Braley represents the Iowa 1st Cong. District (CD) where agriculture and farm machinery constitute economic mainstays. The 1st contains Waterloo, Dubuque, and Cedar Rapids (CQ 14 & Barone 14 Almanacs). Braley was given “F” grades by the NRA because he wanted to pursue “reasonable common ground on gun regulation (See Des Moines Register, 12/19/12, Noble).” At Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, Braley gave his guest ticket to former Az. Cong. Gabby Giffords, a gunshot victim (whot.com 2/12/13). Braley is pro-choice and received perfect scores from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice America. He voted to reduce gas emissions and for the cap-and-trade bill to limit greenhouse gases that died in the Senate. Braley, like pro-environmental Harkin, will not fight for water polluters. Braley has pushed for more federal funding of “clean energy.” Braley voted for Obamacare. In GOP-tsunami year 2010, Braley stood by his health care votes and won a close re-election (Barone 14, CQ 14). Even before the VA hospital problems made headlines, Braley fought for veterans’ rights including better medical treatment and housing. Two of his veterans’ bills became law (CQ 14). Raising the federal minimum wage is a cornerstone of Braley’s Senate campaign (See “Politico,” 5/29/14, Hohmann).
Braley, who was initially considered the heavy favorite, had a rough primary season. In a 1/2014 fundraising event before trial lawyers, a video showed Braley criticizing fellow Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley. Braley stated that should the GOP take the Senate, Grassley, “a farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school,” would chair the Judiciary Committee. These remarks created a firestorm and Braley was accused of attacking farmers. Braley was deemed “out-of-touch” by many Iowans (Des Moines Register, Jacobs, 6/04/14). Attorney Braley apologized to Sen. Grassley and to all Iowans. Braley, although not a farmer, stressed his farming roots and his strong support for agricultural issues (votesmart.org, govtrack.us). Braley’s great-great-grandfather walked from Vermont and staked out an Iowa farm 150 years ago. Braley’s farmer father died of injuries sustained in a fall down a grain elevator. To support his family, Braley did farm work, including bailing hay, removing corn tassels, and working at a grain elevator (Barone 12 & 14 Almanacs, CQ 12 &14). At the time of the primary, Braley, despite this gaffe, seemed to have recovered and was leading Ernst (Kos, 6/04/14).
Braley knows that he can not “misunderestimate” Ernst. Some post-primary polls (Rasmussen, Loras, and Vox Populi), show Ernst in the lead. In the more reliable Quinnipiac (“Q”) Poll, taken between 6/12/-6/16/2014, Braley leads Ernst by just 4 points, 44%-40%. In the 3/13/2014 “Q” Poll, then unknown Ernst trailed Braley by 13 points (J. Jacobs, Des Moines Register, 6/18/14). Ernst keeps repeating that she is a “mother, soldier, and conservative,” to bring out the GOP base in an off- year election. Sarah Palin and fellow Republicans believe that Ernst’s sex will keep Democrats from effectively calling her anti-women. “There the GOP goes again,” using a woman to claim it is not reactionary, despite Ernst’s anti-choice/anti-middle class record. Braley has much more money than Ernst, but bet on Koch Industries, Karl Rove, Romney, and others to flood Ernst’s coffers.
Braley has already attacked Ernst with an ad showing a baby chicken making peeping sounds. The ad, “Peep,” criticized Ernst for not curbing state spending. It says: “We’ve heard the one about pigs squealing. But when Joni Ernst had the chance to do something in Iowa (about cutting pork and spending) we didn’t hear a peep.” The GOP reaction? Fake outrage that Braley was calling Ernst a “chick” (Wash. Post, Sullivan, 6/05/14). IMHO, pure Republican hog manure! And talk about sexism. Gail Ernst, Joni’s husband, has a Facebook page which rallies supporters to her campaign. In a 1/2013 Facebook posting, Mr. Ernst called Hillary Clinton a “Lying hag” on Benghazi. In a 5/2013 posting, Mr. Ernst called Hillary Clinton, “Truly more of a ‘hag’ now than when she was 1st Lady.” In a 4/19/2013 posting, Mr. Ernst called then Homeland Security Secretary Jane Napolitano a “Traitorous skank!” One year later, during a Senate campaign, Joni Ernst has “finally” decided to criticize her husband’s comments as “uncalled for and clearly inappropriate (Huffington Post, 6/10/14).”
Ernst’s record is way out of Iowa’s mainstream. Forty percent of Iowa voters are independents. Her record should not appeal to them (See Jacobs, Des Moines Register). Braley must hit Ernst hard, especially on her opposition to the farm bill, the minimum wage, and women’s issues. Ernst is the candidate truly out of touch, representing the 1% elite. This November, Iowa Democrats, independents, and women must come out in droves to elect Harkin heir Braley and keep the Senate “Blue.” Iowa’s concerns must not be neutered in the Senate.
GOP Congresswoman Susan Brooks—A Speaker Boehner Rubber Stamper on the Benghazi “Investigation” June 5, 2014
It’s GOP Politics 101, stupid! The key GOP Campaign 2014 issue/obsession, fighting Obamacare, is losing traction. Over 15.8 million have enrolled in health insurance plans and are seeing Obamacare’s benefits. Gallup reported that the 13.4 % average of uninsured Americans in the second quarter of 2014 is the lowest level it has recorded since 2008. The public overwhelmingly opposes repeal (CNN, Steinhauser, 5/11/14, HHS, 5/01/14, Kos McCarter, 5/01/14).What then are GOPers left with? Rile up the base with conspiracy talk by playing a “golden oldie,” the Obama Administration’s alleged “failure” to protect the four Americans killed during the 9/11/2012 rioting in Benghazi, Libya and some supposed “cover up” of these events. This issue is a “twofer.” Not only can Obama be smeared, but also then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. On 5/08/2014, the GOP House voted on partisan lines, 232-186, to establish a select House Committee to look at events surrounding Benghazi. In Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) words, the House wants to “get at the truth” about whether the Obama Administration misled Americans about this deadly attack. Never mind that this committee will be wasting money conducting the 8th investigation since the attack on this U.S. diplomatic outpost. Never mind that none of these investigations, from congressional and Senate ones or a State Department review board, found any evidence that the Obama Administration or Hillary engaged in a cover up (AP, Cassata & Klapper, Cohen, CNN, 5/23/14, Fox News, 5/08/14). Never mind that in April, 2014, former CIA Director Michael Morell stated that no changes were made in the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used five days after the attack to politically protect Obama and Hillary. Morell stated those talking points substituted the term “extremist” for “terrorist” because the CIA considers those words synonymous, and that references to al-Qaida in the talking points were avoided to protect classified sources (AP, Cassata & Klapper). Never mind that Robert Gates, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary under GOP Presidents and then Pres. Obama, stated that some critics of the government have a “cartoonish” view of our military capabilities. Gates added that he would have responded with “equal caution given the risks and the lack of intelligence on the ground, and that American forces require planning and preparation which the circumstances did not allow for (cbsnews.com).”
Nothing will ever convince the Tea Party/GOP that Obama and Hillary were not involved in a bizarre cover up. They claim the investigation by this new special committee, a group established by a resolution for a limited time and purpose, is not “political (AP, Cassata & Klapper, CQ Pocket Guide To The Language Of Congress, 1994).” LOL!! Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, called this new Benghazi panel, “a hunting mission for a lynch mob (Cohen, CNN).” The committee will be working during Campaign 2014 and has no deadline. This outfit’s “investigation” could go into the next Congress, beginning in 1/2015. More than half of the House Republicans vied to get on this committee. The House GOP sent out a letter using this committee to raise money (Kos, Lewison, 5/07/14, Groppe, Indianapolis (Indy) Star, 5/09/14). Democrats, after balking at serving on this farce of a panel, decided that in this era of repeated Fox News/talk radio lies, they must immediately rebut these wild charges. They selected 5 members (CNN Cohen, NY Times, Weisman & Steinhauer, 5/21/14). Many of the 7 GOPers on this “committee,” including Chair Trey Gowdy (R-S.Carolina), have already committed themselves to a “cover up” conspiracy. Committee member Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a “cover up” fan, serves as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group trying to fund raise using this attack. In 2008, Westmoreland called Obama and Michelle “uppity,” a racist term for blacks who fought segregation. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), a “cover up” disciple, is known as “the Congressman from Koch.” He represents Wichita, Koch Industries headquarters (AP, Cassata & Klapper, Barone 14 Political Almanac). And then meet panel member Congresswoman Susan Brooks. According to Brooks, “Until we have all the facts, we don’t believe that justice has really been served (AP).”
Rookie Congresswoman Susan Brooks (53) represents Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, CD. The current Hoosier 5th includes the northern Indianapolis suburbs. The 5th CD takes in HamiltonCounty, directly north of Indianapolis, as well as Grant, Tipton, and MadisonCounties. The cities of Carmel, Fishers, Anderson, and Nobel are part of the 5th. Fast-growingHamiltonCounty has the highest median household income in Indiana and is the nation’s 35th richest. Retail, financial services, and health care constitute the district’s economic mainstays. Hamilton is the 5th’s and Indiana’s most populous GOP stronghold. Hamilton is one of the “Reddest” counties in the nation. It gave McCain 61% and Romney 66% of its votes. HamiltonCounty has three Tea Party groups. Grant and TiptonCounties are GOP. The 5th has an R+9 Cook County Partisan Voting Index (PVI) (Barone & CQ 14 Almanacs).
Brooks grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A Miami of Ohio University graduate, Brooks earned a law degree from IndianaUniversity and practiced criminal defense. In 1998, she was named deputy mayor of Indianapolis and worked on a group to curb crime. In 2001, W appointed Brooks U.S. Attorney for Indiana’s Southern District. Brooks prosecuted drug kingpins, helped consolidate that district’s counter terrorism apparatus, and drew attention to human trafficking. In 2007, Brooks became senior vice president and general counsel for IvyTechCommunity College. In 2012, Brooks decided to run for Congress before 15-term GOPer Dan Burton announced his retirement. Burton had called Pres. Bill Clinton a “scumbag” and ran partisan investigations against him. He fired a gun at a pumpkin or watermelon trying to prove that White House deputy counsel Vince Foster had supposedly been murdered by the Clintons. All the investigations conducted determined that Foster had committed suicide (Barone 12 Almanac). After conspiracy-minded Burton decided not to run, Brooks won a close primary and cruised to a general election victory.
Political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg said GOP leaders would “be nuts if they didn’t take advantage of Brooks. She’s personable, articulate and has a good head on her shoulders—exactly what the Republican Party needs (Indy Star, Groppe, 5/09/14).” In the present 113th Congress, the GOP leadership is, indeed, “using” freshman Brooks in positions where she can “audition” for a bigger role. Cong. Brooks has been tapped by the GOP to sit on the Education and Workforce, Homeland Security, and Ethics Committee. Her Ethics Committee assignment is viewed as a way to “curry favor” with party leaders (CQ 14). “Use” is the operative term. Brooks’ sex is a big plus in GOP circles. Translation, “use” a woman to trumpet your agenda, therefore, catering to a group that usually votes against you. Having a woman up front may deceive voters of both sexes into believing that you are not reactionary.
Brooks’ selection by Speaker Boehner as the sole freshman on the Benghazi panel constitutes an even greater plum in “GOPLand.” Brooks is one of two GOPers on this “committee” who has prosecutorial experience (NY Times, Weisman & Steinhauer, 5/21/14). Brooks is one of the two GOP members who doesn’t serve on any of the four House committees that have already investigated the attack and found no “smoking gun (Groppe, Indy Star, 5/09/14).” Brooks stated, “I do think it’s a good thing to have some fresh perspectives. Maybe some different questions, or maybe a different manner in which we ask the questions will produce some answers. I am concerned, as are a lot of Americans, as to whether or not the administration has provided the full facts. We hope to be very thorough and very fair, and that is the reason that, when I was asked, I agreed to serve (Groppe, Indy Star).” Don’t believe this talk coming from “impartial” Cong. Brooks.
Indiana Democratic Chair John Zody noted, “Susan Brooks has voted in virtual lockstep with John Boehner—so it comes as no surprise that she has joined the panel (Indy, Star).” Rubber stamp Brooks has voted with her party 96.7% of the time (opencongress.org). She voted for GOP Cong. Paul Ryan’s “kill Medicare” budget plan and for a farm bill that cut nearly $800 million a year in food stamps and $8 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP (AP 1/29/14, Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database, susanwbrooks.house). Brooks has been a strong opponent of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, candidate Brooks called herself “disappointed.” She stated this legislation was “ill-conceived and rammed through Congress in a heavy-handed process by President Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress.” She promised to repeal and replace Obamacare (wthr.com, 6/28/12). Cong. Brooks voted to repeal Obamacare’s employer and individual mandates (susanwbrook.house). Brooks even voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy victims (Kos, 1/16/13).
Brooks calls herself a pro-life member of Congress who opposes any federal dollars spent to perform abortions (susanwbrook.house). She voted for the draconian proposal to ban abortion after 20 weeks (U.S. Cong. Votes Database). Planned Parenthood Action Fund gave her a 0% score on abortion and reproductive issues, while the National Right to Life Committee gave her 100% (votesmart.org). Along with three of her fellow GOP congressional “pit bull” Benghazi committee members, Cong. Brooks is a member of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). The RSC is the most conservative bloc and dominant force within the House GOP caucus (CQ 14). On the Benghazi committee, Brooks will be one of Speaker Boehner’s extra “eyes and ears.”
Democratic select committee appointee Elijah Cummings (D- Md.) has asked Chairman Gowdy for assurances that his proceedings will go forward without spectacle. Gowdy claims most of the work will be done through depositions, but that there will be some open committee hearings. GOP “fairness” is an oxymoron. Cong. Brook’s similar ideological predecessor, GOP Rep. Dan Burton, was a master of selected and distorted leaks. Gowdy stated he would like to hire a “non-partisan” woman as his select committee’s chief counsel, since many of the important witnesses will be women (NY Times, 5/21/14, Weisman & Steinhauer). There the GOP “goes again,” playing the female card. Gowdy’s committee was created for the chief purpose of revving up the GOP conspiracy base. Quiet/ fair hearings won’t do.
Democrats can not “misunderestimate” Brooks and her fellow GOPers. They must be ready to refute ASAP any lies or innuendosBrooks and Company hurl at Obama and Hillary. Elections count. We never would have had this select committee farce if more Democrats had voted in 2010. We must not repeat this error in 2014.
It’s Tar Heel State 2014 “November Madness”— Extremist GOPer Thom Tillis v. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan May 22, 2014
North Carolina is known for its college basketball teams including Duke, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and WakeForest. One or more of them often end up in the NCAA’s “March Madness” basketball tournaments and have frequently won it all. The Tar Heel State is currently heading toward a 2014 political “November Madness” match. The stakes remain more important than winning office betting pools. It’s control of the United States Senate. All the GOP needs to make obstructionist Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader are 6 seats. Currently, Democrats hold a 55-45 Senate working majority, but are defending 21 of 36 seats. Many of these races are not “slam dunks.” Six of those 2014 contests remain “toss ups” in states Romney carried in 2012. Many analysts consider Senate “toss up” North Carolina political “Ground Zero.” GOPer Thom Tillis and Democratic Senator Kay Hagan are facing off in what could become the most politically brutal and costly Senate race (LA Times, L. Mascaro, 5/07/14).
Although considered vulnerable by many GOPers and pundits, first-term Senator Kay Hagan (60) knows a “thing or two” about politics. As a child, Shelby, N. Carolina native Hagan moved to Lakeland, Florida. Hagan’s father, Joe Ruthven, became Lakeland’s mayor. Hagan’s uncle, Democrat Lawton Chiles, a 1960’s Lakeland State Senator, won election to the U.S. Senate in 1970 and became Fla.’s Governor in 1990. As a youngster, Hagan placed Chiles bumper stickers on cars and while growing up, continued to help with her uncle’s campaigns. After getting her 1975 degree from Fla. State, Hagan interned for her uncle while operating a Senators-only elevator (Barone 14 &CQ 14 Political Almanacs, U.S. News and World Report, 11/04/08). She returned to N. Carolina to attend WakeForestLawSchool, where she graduated in 1978 and met her husband Chip Hagan. Hagan settled in her husband’s hometown of Greensboro where she worked as a trust attorney at NationsBank, now Bank of America. After the birth of her third child, Hagan became involved in politics. Democratic Governor James Hunt selected Hagan to lead his GuilfordCounty organizations in his 1992 and 1996 campaigns. In 1998, Hunt persuaded her to run for the State Senate. Hagan defeated a GOP incumbent and went on to serve five State Senate terms (CQ & Barone 14).
In the State Senate, Hagan received important committee posts. She voted for a state lottery, for corporate financial incentives to create jobs, for funding a civil rights museum, and for a two-year moratorium on executions. In 2008, Hagan challenged GOP N. Carolina Senator Elizabeth (Liddy) Dole, wife of former Senator and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole. Liddy Dole heavily outraised Hagan. “Conventional wisdom” favored Dole. Hagan called Dole a D.C. insider often absent from N. Carolina. Dole attacked Hagan, a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher and elder, as an “atheist,” which backfired. Obama won the state by .3% and Hagan by over 8 points (Barone & CQ 14).
Hagan sits on the Senate Armed Services, Banking, Health, and Small Business Committees (CQ 14). North Carolina contains many military bases, including the 82nd Airborne’s FortBragg and the Marine Corps’ CampLejeune. Hagan’s father-in-law was a two-star Marine general, her brother and father Navy veterans, and her husband a Vietnam veteran. N. Carolina is home to the Research Triangle, between Durham and Raleigh that generates business innovations. Charlotte, the state’s largest city, is No. 2 in financial assets, behind New York (CQ & Barone 14). From 2009-2012, Hagan voted with her party 89% of the time. In the current 113th Congress and the previous 112th , she voted with Democrats 92% of the time. From 2009-2012, she had a 92% rating from labor’s AFL-CIO. Hagan joined a working group of fiscal conservative Senators in search of a middle political ground and has a 38% Chamber of Commerce score (2009-2012). Representing N. Carolina, Hagan does not support most gun control measures. However, she voted for the unsuccessful 4/2013 proposal to expand federal background checks. In a state having many social conservatives, Hagan stood firmly for gay rights. She voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” anti-gay military standard and supports same-sex marriage. She voted for health care reform and strongly supports it. At a Senate hearing, Hagan attacked the N. Carolina GOP Governor and the Republican State Legislature for barring expansion of health care reform for 500,000 Tar Heel residents through Medicaid (Barone & CQ 14, Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database, Kos, 5/08/14, talkingpointsmemo.com). Hagan votes as a pragmatic progressive-leaning Democrat within her state’s mainstream.
Meet Hagan’s GOP opponent, Thom Tillis. The GOP “establishment” hyped Tillis as a “mainstream” candidate. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce poured millions of dollars into the North Carolina 5/06/2014 GOP primary to make sure Tillis won more than 40% of the vote. Tillis, therefore, avoided a damaging July run off against the libertarian, Tea Party-backed candidate Greg Brannon (NY Times, J. Martin, 5/06/14). However, as the Los Angeles Times aptly stated, “establishment” is a “relative term these days (LA Times, L. Mascaro, 5/07/14).” LA Times reporter Lisa Mascaro correctly noted that the whole GOP has been “pushed to the right,” and Tillis is “hardly a bipartisan pragmatist in the old-school GOP style (5/07/14).”
Jacksonville, Florida native Thom Tillis (53) worked in the Price Waterhouse accounting firm in systems and operational management jobs. In 1996, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, the same year he became a Price Waterhouse partner. In 1998, Tillis moved to N. Carolina with his family. He joined IBM in 2002. Tillis, a resident in a GOP section of the Charlotte metro area, won election in 2006 to the North Carolina House. Tillis defeated the GOP incumbent in the primary and ran unopposed in the general election. Tillis was easily re-elected in 2008, 2010, and 2012. In 2010, the GOP won a majority of the N. Carolina House for the first time in 20 years. Tillis was instrumental in this “Red” takeover. He targeted districts and recruited candidates, and in 2011 was rewarded with election as House Speaker. After the 2012 elections, in which the GOP widened its legislative majorities and won the governorship, Tillis was unanimously re-elected Speaker (Lacour, Charlotte Magazine, 11/2013, Barone 14, WRAL/AP, 2012 General Election Results Summary, wral.com/news).
Tillis, acting as a business “moderate,” was always a reactionary extremist. He wants to “shrink” government, and calls Obamacare a “cancer” that needs to be repealed. (LA Times, Mascaro, 5/07/14). For his work as N. Carolina Speaker, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) named Tillis its 2011 Legislator of the Year (Lacour, Charlotte Magazine). Since 2013, Tillis has been a member of ALEC’s Board of Directors. He had previously been a member of ALEC for several years. He called ALEC “a great organization (N. Carolina Dem. Party).” ALEC is composed of conservative state legislators, think-tanks, and business representatives that collaborate on drafting state bills. About 200 of these bills become law each year. ALEC bills that have passed include reducing corporate regulation and taxes. ALEC helped pass strict voter identification rules, which suppress minority and elderly turnout, and the controversial “Stand Your Ground” legislation, involved in the Trayvon Martin, Fla. shooting case (alec.org, Greeley, “Businessweek,” TPMMuckraker, Barnes, Wash. Post, 6/25/12). Tillis is proud of the role he had in rejecting health care reform under Medicaid, passing a strict voter ID law, and private school vouchers, all ALEC priorities (Charlotte Observer, 5/30/14, Winston- Salem Journal, 5/06/13). Tillis led his legislature in cutting taxes by more than $2 billion without giving teachers a penny in raises (Kos, Clawson, 5/07/14). Most House Speakers rarely vote on legislation. Tillis went out of his way to vote on a bill that would close abortion clinics if they didn’t make expensive improvements. Anti-choice Tillis told reporters he voted on this bill that passed 74-41 because he “needed to demonstrate ‘courage (Lacour, Charlotte Magazine).’”
Tillis said that climate change “was not a fact” and that the Department of Education should be abolished (Charlotte Observer, 5/06/14). Tillis stated that raising the minimum wage is “a dangerous idea,” and that the minimum wage itself is an “artificial threshold (Huffington Post, Lachman, 2/27/14).” Mitt Romney backed Tillis in the 2014 primary (NY Times, Martin, 5/06/14) Mitt, “I don’t care about the 47%,” Romney has a kindred soul in Tillis. In a 2011 video circulated by the Hagan campaign, Tillis stated to a GOP group: “What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say, ‘At some point, you’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you (LA Times, Mascaro, 5/07/14).’”
Tillis, with his corporate systems operating background, does his homework. He focuses on the end game, always “three, four, steps ahead.” He is a great fund raiser, able to tap into a roster of N. Carolina’s prominent corporate executives (Lacour, Charlotte Magazine). Tillis has the Koch Brothers in his camp. The Koch Brothers saw N. Carolina as a “model state,” a place where they had an opportunity to work their economic changes, according to Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity (AFP) president Tim Phillips. In 2012, Romney barely carried N. Carolina. Koch, however, poured in money to help the GOP win the governor’s race and expand its state legislative numbers, catching Democrats by surprise (Kos, 5/17/13). Koch put 130,000 activists into N. Carolina to help Tillis defeat Medicaid expansion for half a million residents. Koch is singularly focused on defeating Hagan. Even before Tillis won the primary, Koch’s AFP poured $8.2 million into TV, radio, and digital ads attacking Hagan. If AFP keeps up this pace, it will spend more than $27 million by Election Day in the Tar Heel State alone (“Politico,” Raju & Palmer, 2/12/14, Mascaro, LA Times, 5/07/14).
Hagan has labeled Tillis’ stands “fringe positions” and says “special interests are dragging him across the finish line (LA Times, Mascaro).” Planned Parenthood plans a $3 million get-out-the vote effort. The “Moral Monday” movement, a group of progressives protesting Tillis and the GOP- controlled state legislature, must back her strongly. However, many in the Democratic base are not “enthused” about Hagan. They wrongly grouse about her making compromises in this “purplish” swing state. Too many Democratic voters know little about Hagan, while GOPers loathe her over Obamacare (Buzzfeed.com, 5/07/14). Hagan barely leads Tillis in the latest PPP Poll, 38%-36%. If a third-party candidate’s voters are re-allocated based on which party they lean towards, the race becomes a 41%-41% tie. The undecideds are Democrats who went 55%-37% for Obama (Kos Elections, 5/14/14, Nir). In 2012, unlike 2008, Romney was able to carry N. Carolina by 2 points because Obama’s percentage declined among the young, those with graduate degrees, and among people in the big metro areas (Barone, 14). Again, turnout is everything. In order to keep the Senate “Blue,” Democrats must come out in droves both in N. Carolina and nationally. On 11/04/2014, Hagan must win the “November Madness” political contest.
GOP Congressman Michael Grimm Gets “Thrown Off” the Legal Balcony – Domenic Recchia Must Politically “Break” Him This November May 8, 2014
Many people wrongly believe President Obama has failed in his relationships with House and Senate GOPers because he hasn’t gone “the extra mile” hearing them out. Where do they live? From the very beginning of his first term, Obama went out of his way to consult GOPers and ask for their ideas, as he had promised during his campaign. The result? Obama was met by a solid wall of obstruction, gridlock, and irrational hatred. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY.), boasted that his primary goal was to make Obama a “one-term President.” When McConnell failed, he pretended Romney had won. After the Tea Party/ Koch Brothers gang took control of the lower chamber in 2011, many House GOers became unhinged. Before Obama’s 1/28/2014 State of the Union, Texas freshman GOP Cong. Randy Weber called Obama “the Kommandant-In-Chef… the Socialist Dictator who’s been feeding US a line or is it ‘A-Lying (ABC News, 1/28/14, A. Wiersema)?”’ After Obama’s address, GOP Congressman Michael Grimm cursed NY1 reporter Michael Scotto. Grimm threatened to “hurl him from the (Capitol) balcony and break him in half like a boy (NY Times, 1/29/14, Wheaton & Santora).” Grimm was upset that Scotto had the “nerve” to ask him about an ongoing federal investigation involving his campaign finances (NY Times).
Congressman Grimm, not Scotto, suffered a serious fracture. On 4/28/2012, Grimm was hit with a 20-count federal indictment in a Brooklyn District Court and taken into custody. The indictment included charges of mail, wire, and tax fraud, perjury, obstruction, and health care fraud. The indictment alleged Grimm skimmed more than $1 million from Healthalicious, a restaurant he owned before going to Congress. At his arraignment, Grimm pleaded not guilty and was released on $400,000 bond. Grimm vowed to stay in office. He stated, “I will get right back to work as I always have—with honor and distinction, I will serve. I have an election to win (Politico, Bresnahan & Haberman, 4/28/14, WCBS TV New York/AP, 4/28/14, LA Times, Memoli & Serrano, 4/28/14).” Meet Cong. Grimm.
Second-term GOP Congressman Michael Grimm (44) currently represents New York’s 11th Congressional District (CD). The 11th CD includes all of the Staten Island borough plus the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, DykerHeights, and part of Bensonhurst. Retail and healthcare constitute economic mainstays. Staten Island contains most of the 11th’s constituents and has the country’s highest percentage of Italian Americans. The 11th’s Brooklyn neighborhoods have a similar ethnic makeup. Staten Island remains New York’s whitest borough. In 2011, only 12% of its population was black and 18% Hispanic (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs).
Politically, the 11th has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+2. The 11th is the only NY City House seat represented by a Republican and has been held by a GOPer in almost every Congress for a generation. Staten Islanders are culturally more conservative than the rest of New York City. In 1993, Staten Islanders, upset with high income taxes and social programs, voted to secede from New York City. Secession died in the state legislature. However, the Staten Islanders who turned out for secession provided GOPer Rudy Giuliani with his victory margin over Democratic Mayor David Dinkins. Staten Island was hit by the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, where many residents had jobs. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed 23 Staten Islanders and destroyed countless homes. Although the 11th tilts GOP because of Staten Island, that borough’s north shore is a Democratic stronghold with many African Americans and Hispanics. On the 11th CD’s Brooklyn’s side, there has been an influx of newcomers from West Africa, Mexico, South America, and Southeast Asia. In 2008, McCain won the 11th by 3 points, but in 2012, Obama beat Romney by 5 (Barone 14 Almanac).
Brooklyn native Michael Grimm grew up in Staten Island. He left college to join the Marines and served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He then joined the FBI as a clerk on the midnight shift while taking college courses during the day. He did a stint as a Wall Street analyst and trader before returning to the FBI. He became a U.S. marshal and uniformed FBI police officer. After getting his bachelor’s degree in accounting, he worked in the FBI as a special agent investigating organized crime and financial fraud. He went undercover for two years as a hedge fund manager investigating fraud and manipulation that resulted in the 2003 arrest of more than 30 traders and brokers. He received a law degree in 2002. Grimm left the FBI in 2006 to open a Manhattan health food restaurant. From 2006-2008, Grimm served as the director of a Texas-based biofuels company (Barone & CQ 14 Almanacs).
Political novice Grimm took on freshman Democratic Congressman Michael McMahon in 2010. Grimm was endorsed by Tea Party groups, Sarah Palin, and Giuliani. He handily beat his primary opponent. In the general election in this GOP tsunami year, Grimm beat McMahon 51%-48%. In the House, Grimm joined his fellow GOPers in voting to repeal health care reform and supported Republican Cong. Paul Ryan’s “kill Medicare as we know it” budget plans. Grimm was appointed to the Financial Services Committee (Barone &CQ 14).
In 1/2012, the NY Times detailed what it said were fundraising violations by Grimm’s 2010 campaign. These included skirting financial limits and accepting $5,000 cash in an envelope. The Times noted Grimm’s partnership with an ex-FBI agent who was indicted on racketeering and fraud charges. Grimm was asked by the press about backing a Queens natural gas pipeline. He subsequently took campaign donations from pipeline supporters. A federal grand jury started looking at Grimm. Staten Island GOPers, however, rallied around his 2012 re-election campaign. Grimm heavily outraised his Democratic rival and received much goodwill for his Hurricane Sandy response. He won 52%-47%. Three weeks after re-election, the House Ethics Committee announced that it had formally opened an investigation of Grimm, but would defer to the Justice Department’s ongoing probe (CQ & Barone 14).
Grimm, referring to his FBI and Marine background, promised “not to abandon my post.” He called himself a “moral man, a man of integrity.” He declared he was the “victim of a political witch hunt and would fight the charges ‘tooth and nail.’” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch stated Grimm “made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing, he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken.” FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said: “As a former FBI agent, Rep. Grimm should understand the motto fidelity, bravery, and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. In this 20-count indictment, Rep. Grimm honored a new motto: fraud, perjury, and obstruction (LA Times, Memoli & Serrano, 4/28/14, CNN Steinhauser, 4/28/14).”
Even before his indictment, Grimm was facing a tough re-election fight against Democrat Domenic Recchia (CNN, Steinhauser, 4/28/14). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, (DCCC), in a sign of confidence, recently named Recchia to its “Red to Blue” program. In 2013, GOPers put Grimm in their “Patriot Program” to shore him up (Wash. Post, Cillizza & Sullivan, 4/25/14).
Lifelong Brooklyn resident Domenic Recchia, Jr. (54) has undergraduate and law degrees. He served on the New York City School Community Board, becoming both vice-president and president (drecchia.com, 8/21/13). When the City Council member in NY City’s 47th District faced term limits, Recchia won that seat in 2001. He was re-elected in 2003, 2005, and 2009 (vote.nyc.ny.us). On the City Council, Recchia spent the last four years as Finance Chairman. He managed and negotiated the City’s $70 billion budget. He helped pass on time bipartisan budgets. These budgets emphasized job creation, seniors, education, and helping working families without raising taxes. He has endorsed better school infrastructure and led the fight to save 4,000 teachers’ jobs. Term-limited Recchia decided he wanted to push education, jobs, and energy efficiency in Congress for Staten Island and Brooklyn (Meet Domenic, Recchia for Congress, observer.com). Recchia was furious that GOP House Speaker Boehner delayed Hurricane Sandy aid to Brooklyn and Staten Island victims for nearly 80 days. Recchia worked hard to rebuild this area (About Recchia). Recchia joined with Staten Islanders to denounce the devastating transportation and infrastructure cuts that passed the House under Ryan’s budget plan that Grimm voted for. The Tea Party cuts in the “Ryan-Grimm” budget, Recchia stated, would abolish $172 billion in highway and public transportation funding over 10 years and would cause the loss of 186,000 heavy construction jobs in 2015. Recchia called Grimm “out of touch with the needs of Staten Islanders (Recchia, “Recent News,” 4/11/14).” Recchia attacked the “Ryan-Grimm” budget for raising taxes on the middle class, but cutting them for the rich, increasing prescription drug prices on middle class seniors, and calling spending on the Violence Against Women Act, “wasteful (“Recent News”).” Recchia declared Grimm’s attack on reporter Scotto “unbefitting a U.S. Congressman (“Recent News,” 1/29/14).”
U.S. Attorney Lynch stated that the Grimm probe is continuing. The various counts carry maximum sentences of 5-20 years. The filing deadline for another GOPer to step into this race has passed, so Grimm’s name will almost certainly be on the ballot in 11/2014. Lynch denied that she was “playing politics” by indicting Grimm after the filing deadline. Lynch noted that “when you investigate a case like this, we follow the evidence. It’s just as irresponsible to bring it before it’s ready (“Politico,”Breshnahan & Haberman, 4/28/14).”
Grimm wrote to GOP House Speaker Boehner saying he would give up his seat on the major House Financial Services Committee, a move which will not help his effectiveness in the 11th CD ( See LA Times, 4/28/14). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) did not tell Grimm to resign. Cantor stated Grimm is “going to have to make his case with his constituents and in court (Nir, Kos Elections, 4/29/14).”
Even before his indictment, Grimm had been targeted as one of the Democrats’ best 2014 pick-up chances. However, we heard similar analysis about the swing Fla. 13th CD that weak GOP candidate David Jolly won in 3/2014. Even if national GOPers, Karl Rove, or the Koch Brothers don’t fund Grimm, any number of GOP “sugar daddies” could infuse his campaign with big bucks. NY’s Conservative Party remains behind Grimm. Many Staten Island GOPers believe Grimm is the victim of a “vendetta,” and that Recchia is a “dangerous liberal (“Politico,” Isenstadt & Titus, 4/26/14, NY Daily News, D. Friedman, 4/09/14).” No election is ever “in the bag.” In order to gain a net 17 seats to re-take the House or decrease that chamber’s GOP numbers, Democrats in the NY 11th and throughout the nation must come out in droves this November. Midterm elections count.
Michigan Senate GOP Candidate Terri Lynn Land—Against Equal Pay or Anything Else for Women April 24, 2014
The GOP’s war on women is like the political Energizer Bunny. It just keeps on “going, and going, and going.” Witness failed 2012 Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock’s absurd comments about pregnancy-caused rapes. Add former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. “Huck,” looking at another Oval Office run in 2016, plunged into deep horse manure with his misogynistic comments. A few months ago, he said Democrats believe women can “not control their libido or reproductive system without Uncle Sugar (Sam) providing them with birth control prescriptions each month (Kos, DownstateDemocrat, 4/09/14).” “Huck” recently tweeted that “men like to go hunt/fish with other men. Women like to go to the restroom with other women (#iapolitics #iacaucus, Obradovich, Des Moines Register).” Then there’s Va.’s GOP State Senator Steve Martin. Martin likened pregnant women to mere “hosts” of children, who should be barred from ending unwanted pregnancies (Huffington Post, 2/24/14).
On GOP/FOX News, where “Huck” has a show, two other hosts stated that because a woman makes “a little less pay (than a man) she is better able to keep her job.” Senate GOPers successfully blocked ending a filibuster to prevent passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, or equal pay for women. These FOX hosts saw this action as “no big deal (See Kos Labor Clawson, 4/09/14, NY Times, Joachim, 4/09/14).” Since controlling the House after 2011, the GOP has spent more time trying to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood than helping women or men get jobs. The GOP has voted 50+ times to repeal Obamacare, legislation that enables women to get mammograms and contraceptives. The GOP budget plans authored by Paul Ryan, that Republicans overwhelmingly support, disproportionately cut funds benefiting women (See National Women’s Law Center, Wash. Post, D. Milbank, 4/13/14). Colorado’s GOP/Tea Party 2014 Senate candidate Cory Gardner can not untangle himself from his extreme anti-abortion record (Majority PAC ad, Kos Elections, Lewison, 3/25/14). GOP 2014 New Hampshire Senate candidate, defeated Mass. Senator Scott Brown, has a poor record on birth control, choice, and women’s rights (DSCC Blog, 1/13/10, Wash. Post, 1/10/10, “Politico,” 3/30/14, Hohmann). In Michigan, the leading Republican Senate candidate, Terri Lynn Land, is no friend of equal pay or other matters affecting women. As early as 2010, Land stated, “the reality is that women have a different lifestyle. They have kids, they have to take them to get, you know, dentist appointments, doctors appointments, all those kinds of things and they’re more interested in ‘flexibility in a job than pay (Kos Labor, Clawson, 4/08/10 & 4/09/10).’” Meet Terri Land.
Grand Rapids, Michigan native Terri Lynn Land (55) has been politically active since President Gerry Ford’s 1976 campaign. She received her undergraduate degree from HollandMichigan’s HopeCollege. During high school and after college, she worked in her family’s motel business (terrynnland.com/about-terri). From 1992-2000, Land served as Clerk of Kent County (Mich. Dept. of State, ourcampaigns.com). In 2002, Land successfully ran for Secretary of State. In 2006, she won re-election (ourcampaigns.com RaceID=1637, RaceID=247280).
As Secretary of State, Land touted expanding online options, creating shorter customer lines, and employing more reliable election equipment (terrynnland.com/about-terri). Land also purged thousands of voters from voting rolls. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took Michigan to court. A judge ruled this purge illegal and directed Land to reinstate the affected voters (11/13/08, “The Michigan Messenger,” Melzer, aclu.org/voting-rights). Term-limited under Michigan’s constitution, Land could not run for re-election in 2010. On 6/03/2013, Land announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Democrat Carl Levin (Benen, msnbc.com).
Land was a 2012 National Committeewoman for the Republican Party. Land, like Paul Ryan, advocated turning Medicare into a voucher program. She is for banning abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or saving a woman’s life. She supports privatizing Social Security, banning same sex marriage, and barring women from combat. She has no problems with the GOP trying to determine whether the U.S. dollar should go back to the pre-FDR gold standard, extremist ideology (“On the Issues,” DSCC press release). In 2/2014, Land called for the total repeal of Obamacare, while endorsing Medicaid’s expansion, part of Obamacare (Benen, The MaddowBlog, 3/26/14). Land and her staff seem confused about Obamacare. Land believes that “Obamacare does not work.” Obamacare has already enrolled over 8 million on the federal health exchanges and at least 20 million more, including people on their parents’ plans and on Medicaid (Kos, McCarter, 4/10/14, Cowley, MSNBC, 4/17/14). A Rand Corp. study has found a 4.7% decline in the uninsured from 20.5 % to 15.8%. A Gallup Poll found the rate of insured dropped from 18% in the fall of 2013 to 12.5% in the first half of 4/2014, the lowest since 2008. A Land staffer, speaking for her boss, wrongly stated that Obamacare “allowed people to wait until they’re very sick to purchase insurance.” “Earth to Land,” unless you get sick during an open enrollment period, you can’t just wait to become ill to enroll (Beutler, salon.com, 3/25/14, Benen,The MaddowBlog, 3/26/14). Either Land has very poor knowledge of this key legislation, or she is not telling the truth to deliberately mislead voters.
Land will be facing Michigan Congressman Gary Peters in the general election. Third-term Cong. Peters (55) currently represents the socially and economically diverse Michigan 14th Congressional District (CD). The 14th includes majority-African American Pontiac, Polish-American Hamtramck, and the wealthy white executive Grosse Pointe areas. The redistricted 14th includes southern OaklandCounty with Southfield, home of black professionals. This CD has LathrupVillage and Oak Park and parts of Detroit. The auto industry is the 14th‘s mainstay and GM plans to expand here. The 14th combines OaklandCounty, the richest in the state with blighted Wayne County Detroit neighborhoods. The 14th has a D+29 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), and in 2012 gave Obama his second highest statewide percentage (CQ 14 and Barone 14 Almanacs).
Congressman Peters was born and grew up in Pontiac. His father was a WWII veteran who taught public school, his mother a nurse’s aid. Peters has a political science degree as well as M.B.A. and law degrees. In college, Peters interned for a union organizer. He worked at Merrill Lynch and Paine Webber. At 34, Peters became a Naval Reserve lieutenant commander and spent a dozen years in the reserves (CQ & Barone14).
Peters won election to the Rochester Hills City Council where he served from 1991-1993, and helped save that city $400,000. In 1994, he won election to the Michigan State Senate where he served for eight years. Peters pushed legislation to cut taxes for the middle class, improve children’s health insurance, and led an effort to ban oil drilling in the Great Lakes. In 2003, Peters became Michigan’s lottery commissioner where he served till 2007. In 2008, Peters defeated the eight-term GOP 9th District congressman. In GOP tsunami year 2010, Peters beat another opponent. When re-districting abolished the old suburban 9th, Peters successfully ran in the new 14th (CQ & Barone 14).
Peters is a loyal House Democrat. He has voted for health care reform, the economic stimulus, energy reform, and equal pay for women. He helped write the Wall Street reform bill and sat on the conference committee that ironed out House and Senate differences before its final passage (Press Release, Democratic Leader, Barone14). He emphasizes housing and manufacturing, key Michigan concerns. He defends the auto industry and has fought to make union organizing easier. He displays a pen Obama used to sign a bill providing loan incentives and tax cuts for small businesses. Peters has high 90%-100% scores from labor and progressive groups (CQ14). Peters sits on the Financial Services Committee. In the current 113th Congress, the Democratic leadership made Peters a senior whip and appointed him as a recruiting vice chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, DCCC (Barone 14). Peters has a stellar pro-choice record, with 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Dem. Senator Carl Levin and fellow Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow endorsed Peters in his Senate race. Peters’ entrance cleared the Democratic primary field (Klug, F. 5/23/13, mlive.com/news).
Michigan voted strongly for Obama in 2008 and 2012. However, the GOP holds the governorship, the majority in both state chambers, and in the congressional delegation. There are strong “Red” areas in rural Michigan and the Grand Rapids area. Macomb and Oakland County Democrats swing between the parties over economic and cultural issues (Barone 14, “How Obama Won,” Todd & Gawiser). GOPerLand holds a state office, giving her greater name recognition than Cong. Peters. In a recent ad, she sips from a mug, checks her watch, and says “because she is a woman, she might know a little bit more about women than Gary Peters (LOL!).” Land ducks taking detailed positions on issues in this ad or elsewhere and is running a disciplined campaign attacking Obama and Obamacare (“Politico,”3/6/14, Bresnahan & Hohmann, Kos, Clawson, 4/22/14). The GOP wants voters to avoid looking at her strong right wing/ anti-women record.
Land, like Scott Brown and other GOP Senate candidates, is “addicted to Koch (COKE),” right wing Koch Brothers money. In the Michigan race, the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity (AFP) front has already poured millions of dollars into falsely attacking Peters for “hurting Michigan families under Obamacare (Huffington Post, 1/14/14).” Although Peters is known as a good fund-raiser and reported raising $1.3 million in the first three months of 2014 (Kos Elections, 4/17/14), Land raised $1.5 during that period, including a $100,000 personal contribution (Detroit News, Livengood, 4/08/14). GOP outside groups, among them Koch, have spent $3.6 million for the Michigan contest, about 3 times the Democrats’ spending. This outside spending has made Land a political threat (Huffington Post, 1/14/2014, Confessore, NY Times, 4/11/14).
Peters recently started to air his first statewide television ads (Livengood, 4/08/14).With photos of the Koch brothers, the SIEU union is running an ad referring to “billionaire special interests ganging up with Land” to charge women more for health care and to make it hard to get equal pay. Peters’ campaign manager, Paul Tencher, ran Indiana Dem. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s winning 2012 campaign against anti-choice Richard Mourdock (“Politico,” 3/16/14). A 4/03-06 PPP poll of registered voters had Peters ahead 41%-36%, with a plus or minus 3.4% margin of error. Land had previously led Peters in a PPP survey and in other polls. This race remains too close to call (timeshearld.com, Spangler, 4/08/14). Democratic donors must start giving Peters more money to level the playing field against the GOP’s “Kochtopus.” Peters must ceaselessly hammer Land for her stands against equal pay for women and against abortion rights. Cook Political Reporter Jennifer Duffy calls income equity, or equal pay for women, “a big umbrella, and you can talk about a lot of things under it. They (Democrats) need something to hang their turnout efforts on, and this is it (Weisman, NY Times, 4/08/14).”
When Democrats and women vote, we win. We must not repeat 2010, when only 46.2% of women voted, a 19.5 % decrease from 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, infoplease.com, LA Times, 11/09/10 Gold & Steffen). A similar poor 2014 showing will give Terri Land and fellow anti-equal pay/ anti-choice GOPers control of the Senate.
Koch Brothers Lackey Scott Brown—He Wants to Take His Failed Massachusetts Senate Act to New Hampshire April 2, 2014
The GOP shark gang smells blood in the 2014 midterm political waters. Democrats face an uphill climb to win a net 17 seats in the Republican House and make Nancy Pelosi Speaker. The next GOP move? Recapture the Democratically-controlled Senate to totally checkmate President Obama’s legislative program for his final two years. Currently, Democrats hold a 55-45 Senate majority, but are defending 21 of 36 seats this November. Half of those seats are in “Red” or purple states, with at least 6 of them toss ups. “Team Red” has to gain 6 states to make obstructionist GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Majority Leader (NY Times, Healey, 2/07/14, CNN Political Unit, Steinhauser & Davidsen, 3/18/14). Democrats are attempting to flip a Republican seat in Georgia and McConnell’s in Kentucky, tough fights. In addition to contesting 6 Senate toss up seats, the GOP is on offense in Iowa, Michigan, and Colorado. Add New Hampshire to this mix. After recruiting “affable” Tea Party Colorado Cong. Cory Gardner to challenge Senator Mark Udall, Republicans have landed a “heavyweight” to oppose Democratic Sen. Jean Shaheen, former Mass. Senator Scott Brown (McManus, LA Times, 3/16/14, NY Times, 3/14/14).
Remember Scott Brown? Brown (54) created a political earthquake by winning a special election in 1/2010. Brown captured the seat of the late Democrat Ted Kennedy, defeating inept Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley by a 5.4% margin. Brown played the usual GOP “lying and hiding” game. He labeled himself a “moderate/independent,” a “Scott Brown Republican,” an average “pickup truck guy.” He stressed his ties to Mass. where he grew up. Analysts ignored Brown’s statement that he was a “Reagan Republican (Boston Globe, 11/2009, Mooney, B. 11/20/09, Boston Globe).” Brown downplayed his Tea Party appearances. He didn’t emphasize that the Tea Party Express group endorsed him, broadcasted an ad for him, or that Tea Partiers from across the U.S. volunteered for him (Salon.com, M. Madden, Daily Kos, 1/13/10, Huffington Post, Stein1/14/10).
Scott Brown has been bought and paid for by Koch (Coke) Industries. Before Brown’s 2010 election, Koch gave him $5,000. Brown stated that Koch’s aid “made a ton, a difference, and I could certainly use it again (video).” Koch Industries is the country’s second-largest privately run company, a conglomerate of refining, pipeline, chemical, and paper businesses. It was founded by Fred Koch, a charter member of the extremist/conspiratorial John Birch Society. In 2010, Forbes Magazine listed Fred’s sons, Charles and David, who now run this company, as the nation’s fifth-richest people, each worth $21.5 billion (Hamburger et al, LA Times, 2/06/11, Source Watch). Politically, the Koch brothers follow “Dear Old Dad.” Reagan and W were not “conservative” enough for them. After Obama’s first election, the Kochs decided to get openly into politics. The Kochs used their Americans for Prosperity (AFP) group to disrupt Obama’s presidency. AFP was in the forefront of many of the violent Tea Party protests against health care reform. AFP opposed Obama’s stimulus bill and cap-and-trade legislation to make companies pay for the air pollution they create. Koch is a major oil and air polluter (Mayer, “The New Yorker, 8/30/10, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Frank, Source Watch, Media Matters, 8/05/09). In the 2010 midterm elections, in which the GOP took over the House and made Senate gains, Koch’s AFP spent $40 million to organize rallies and get out the vote in over 100 national races (LA Times, Hamburger, et al, 2/06/11).”
In the run up to the 2014 midterms, Koch has already spent 10 times as much as any major outside Democratic group, at least more than $30 million. Koch is running ads attacking Obamacare in the toss up Senate races. Koch’s AFP used the 3/2014 Fla. 13th district congressional special election as its laboratory. In Fla., Koch fine-tuned get-out-the-vote tools and messaging for the Nov. 2014 races. Koch volunteers ran phone banks, knocked on doors, and used social media to help GOPer Jolly win. Koch is the dominating force in the 2014 midterms. Koch is not merely campaigning against Obamacare, but trying to make the case for limited government and deregulation. Koch wants to eliminate clean air and water protection and stop funding to protect against unsafe products (Eggen, Wash. Post, 3/20/11). In 2013, Koch was involved in the Va.’s governor’s race, keeping the contest close for unsuccessful GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Koch uses actors to attack Obamacare and repeats lies the media has constantly debunked (NY Times, Hulse & Parker, Politifact).
Once in the Senate, Scott “Koch” Brown removed his “independent/moderate” mask. His record was more in tune with Southern and Western GOP voters (CQ12 Almanac). He voted with his hard right party 80% of the time (Wash. Post.com). Brown voted against the Clean Air Act. Koch then gave him the maximum amount allowed under campaign finance laws (M. Haigh, 7/21/11, 350.org). He voted against Obamacare, although he previously supported then Mass. Gov. Romney’s health plan on which Obama’s legislation was based (ABC News, 1/21/10). Brown campaigned as “pro-choice,” but stated he would vote for a Supreme Court Justice opposed to Roe v. Wade. Brown had low scores from the Mass. National Organization for Women (DSCC Blog, NEWS, 1/13/10, Parker, Wash. Post, 1/10/10). He voted for allowing employers to deny birth control coverage. After introducing her to the Senate and saying he was satisfied with her answers, “independent” Brown voted against former Harvard Law Dean/Solicitor General Elena Kagan to burnish his conservative credentials (Atlantic Wire, 8/05/10, “Politico,”3/30/14, Hohmann). Brown was dubbed by Forbes Magazine “Wall Street’s favorite Senator.” He was against raising taxes on the top 1% (B. Johnson, “Think Progress,” 8/09/11). Brown voted for Obama’s Wall Street financial reform bill, only after weakening it to help Mass. and out of state banking firms, who promptly gave him campaign cash (Slack, Boston Globe, 12/12/10). “Koch Boy” Brown had a 25% rating from labor’s AFL-CIO but high scores from business and anti-tax groups (CQ 12). Scott “Koch” Brown claimed oil companies “didn’t get subsidies,” but voted several times to continue to give oil over $7 billion in yearly subsidies. He was against closing this tax loophole (“Think Progress,” S. Benen, maddowblog.msnbc, 7/12/12).
Mass. voters soured on Scott Brown’s Koch agenda. Running for a full term in 11/2012, he lost to Democratic consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren by nearly 8 points (CQ 14). Brown decided against running for Dem. Sen. John Kerry’s seat when Kerry became Sec. of State. Brown declined to run for Mass. Governor in 2014. Brown then became a “commentator-in-exile” for GOP Fox News (MassLive, 2/06/13, nydailynews.com).
Soon after his Mass. Senate loss, Brown started “making noises” about a New Hampshire Senate run (4/2013). He talked about his “strong” GraniteState roots. Brown had falsely declared he was a “confidante of kings and queens as well as Hillary Clinton (Boston Globe, 7/13/12).” Brown now wrongly stated he was a New Hampshire native and that this state is “a second home to him.” Brown claimed he was “born in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.” Despite its name, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is in Kittery, Maine (Kos Elections, 4/13/14). “Truth” and Brown don’t mix. Brown owns a vacation house in New Hampshire, a weak tie. Late in 2013, Brown sold his Mass. home claiming it was for “personal” not political reasons. Super-size ego Brown had been toying with running for President in 2016. After a year of media flirting, Brown cancelled a visit to presidential caucus state Iowa. On 3/14/2014, Fox News cancelled his contract when he told them of his plans to run in New Hampshire. Brown cut $30,000 in checks to NH GOP committees, spent several weeks in that state with Republicans, and started putting together a campaign team (NY Times, Seeyle, 3/14/14, Nir, Kos Elections, 3/17/14, CNN 3/14/14 Steinhauser). He plans to challenge first-term Dem. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and to attack her for supporting Obamacare (3/14/14, Seeyle, NY Times).
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (67) is the first woman in U.S. history to be elected both governor and senator. Missouri native Shaheen moved to New Hampshire, her husband’s home state in 1973. Shaheen ran a small family jewelry business. Shaheen worked as a staffer in Jimmy Carter’s New Hampshire 1976 and 1980 presidential primary wins and managed Gary Hart’s upset 1984 NH primary victory. In 1990, she won a seat in the NH State Senate. In 1996, Shaheen won the governorship. She ran on a platform of affordable health care and access to education. In 2002, she lost a race for the U.S. Senate to Cong. John E. Sununu, the son of H.W.’s chief-of-staff (CQ 14, Barone 14 Almanac). In a 2008 rematch, Shaheen defeated Sununu (Barone and CQ 14).
In the Senate, Shaheen is considered a polished Democrat. She sits on the Armed Services, Appropriations, Foreign Relations, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committees. From 2009-2012, she voted with her party about 95% of the time and has high ratings from progressive groups (CQ 14). In the present 113th Congress, Shaheen voted with her party 97% of the time (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database). Despite representing a state with more GOP registered voters than Dems (CQ14), Shaheen co-sponsored a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to allow the federal government to provide benefits to same-sex married couples. Shaheen is a supporter of Planned Parenthood, a GOP bugbear. She voted for health care reform and has a personal interest in it. Her granddaughter has Type 1 diabetes (Barone 14).
Before Scott Brown entered this race, Shaheen was NH’s most popularly statewide elected official (Barone 14, WMUR Poll—2/13). Her 2014 GOP opposition was going nowhere. The best known of them was wacky former GOP Senator Bob Smith, who once went Independent. He sneered at Brown for not being conservative enough and an establishment “tool.” However, we do not know if Smith and the other candidates will remain in the Sept. GOP NH primary to challenge Brown (NY Times, Seelye 3/14/14). Brown, from neighboring Mass., is well known and can easily raise money. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which previously worked with Koch, is planning a $600,000 ad buy against Shaheen (Seelye). Bet on Koch to also dive into this race. Present polls have Shaheen leading Brown anywhere from 8 points (PPP) to double digits (Suffolk, ARG, WMUR—10%-17%), but that margin can plummet with a Koch/Rove barrage of false anti-Obamacare ads (CNN Steinhauser).
Some GOPers consider Brown nothing but an ambitious carpetbagger. Others, as they did in the Fla. special House election race, will vote for any candidate sporting the “R” label. In his Mass. contest with Warren, Brown pledged not to take outside money. When Shaheen similarly challenged Brown, he refused. Brown desperately needs his Koch, Rove, and other GOP “sugar daddy ‘fixes (Kos, 3/17/2014).’” Sen. Warren has jumped into this contest, urging Democrats to send money to fight Brown. Sen. Shaheen has pushed fundraisers to help her stop Brown. Sen. Majority Harry Reid and fellow Democrats have stated, “We can’t let the Koch Brothers buy the U.S. Senate.” In the end, the only way to stop the 1% reactionary Koch Brothers is for Democrats and moderates to come out in droves in 11/2014 to keep the Senate “Blue.” We must say “No” to Scott Brown and his GOP Koch Senate lackeys.
GOP Senate “Dream Candidate” Cory Gardner—Just Another Tea Party Nightmare March 21, 2014
For GOPers, the Campaign 2014 mantra boils down to one phrase, “It’s rebranding, stupid.” Translation: outwardly rebranding as a “kinder, gentler, mainstream” looking party, but still holding the same far out views of its unpopular Tea Party base. The GOP “establishment” wants to re-paint extremist candidates voting the Tea Party line as pragmatic “moderates,” deceiving voters in the 11/2014 congressional midterms. In order for the GOP to make obstructionist Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader, “Team Red,” has to win 6 seats. Democrats, with a current working majority of 55-45, are defending 21 seats. Six of those remain toss ups in states Romney won in 2012 (J. Healey, NY Times, 2/07/14, “Politico,” Raju & Sherman, Time Mag., Election Special). Democrats are attempting to go on the offensive in Georgia and Ky. to try to pick up “Red” Senate seats. GOPers, however, in addition to fighting for the 6 toss up seats, believe they can go on offense in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Iowa. Add Colorado to the GOP “offense” mix. In a coup paralleling the machinations practiced by Cong. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in NETFLIX’S “House of Cards” drama, the GOP recruited Cong. Cory Gardner to oppose freshman Democrat Mark Udall. Gardner had originally declined to run. When Gardner entered the Col. GOP Senate primary race at the end of 2/2014, District Attorney Ken Buck, the Tea Party zany who lost to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010, dropped out and endorsed Gardner. Buck decided to run for Gardner’s congressional seat. Another GOP candidate, also left the race (Wash. Post., Cillizza, 2/28/14, Peters, NY Times, 2/26/14). The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza described Udall as going from a safe incumbent into one of the “most endangered” Senators within 48 hours (Post Opinions, 2/28/14). Let’s look at Sen. Mark Udall, challenger Cory Gardner, and this RockyMountain brawl.
Colorado first-term Senator Mark Udall (53) comes from a political family dubbed the “Kennedys of the West.” Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Mark is the son of the late former Ariz. Congressman “Mo” Udall, who unsuccessfully sought the presidency in 1976. Mark’s uncle, the late former Ariz. Cong. Stewart Udall, served as Interior Secretary under JFK and LBJ. Mark is the first cousin of current freshman U.S. New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, Stewart’s son. Cousins Mark and Tom share progressive views. Mark’s mother, who served 5 years in Nepal in the Peace Corps in her late 50’s, also inspired him to go into public service (Barone and CQ Almanacs 14). After graduating WilliamsCollege in 1972, Mark moved to Boulder, Colorado where he worked 20 years for the ColoradoOutwardBoundSchool. He was that school’s executive director for 10 years. An accomplished mountaineer, Mark climbed the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere and scaled Mt.Everest’s north face (CQ and Barone 14).
Mark won election to the Col. House of Representatives in 1996. When the Dem. Congressman representing Boulder retired in 1998, Mark took that seat. He defeated the GOP Mayor of Boulder by 5,500 votes, going door to door while raising lots of money. He emphasized environmental protection, growth management, and education. Mark served in the U.S. House for 5 terms and won re-election by increasing margins (CQ & Barone 14). In the House, Mark had a mostly liberal voting record, going with his party over 90% of the time (CQ14). He opposed allowing states to designate roads in wilderness areas. He persuaded the U.S. House to pass renewable energy standards in 2007. Mark, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted against W’s 2002 Iraq War resolution. He spoke of his father’s regret over voting in 1964 for the Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin resolution which led to escalation. Mark called one of his “proudest moments” witnessing his father becoming the first prominent Democrat to vote against the 1967 Vietnam troop buildup (CQ 14, Barone 14). In 2008, when Colorado GOP’s Senator retired, Mark defeated his opponent by over 10 points, while Cousin Tom won a New Mexico Senate seat (Barone 14, CQ 14).
In the Senate, Mark serves on the Armed Services, Energy & Natural Resources, and Select Intelligence Committees (CQ14, Barone 14). He voted with his party 93% in the current 113th and previous 112th Congresses (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database). He voted for the budget and spending bills that removed many of the harsh automatic sequester cuts. He supports filibuster reform (CQ14, coloradoforethics.org, 11/21/13).He generally advocates environmental legislation, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mark gets high 90 plus marks from progressive groups. He voted for the failed background check proposal for gun buyers in 4/2013 (LA Times, 4/18/13).
Mark has always opposed the Patriot Act. He is very skeptical of expanded surveillance powers. He is against unchecked CIA power and cover ups, especially in the areas of detentions and interrogations. Mark wants to know just how many Americans have had emails and phone conversations monitored (Barone 14, NY Times, Mazzetti, 3/04/14). He was for repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and for same-sex marriage (Barone 14, Think Progress, 8/22/11, Volsky). He has a stellar pro-choice record and stands up for issues affecting women, including equal pay (Col. Independent, 3/05/15, Tomasic). He voted for and supports Obamacare. He advocates comprehensive immigration reform (markudall.senate.gov).
Meet GOP Senate wannabe Cory Gardner. Two-term Cong. Gardner (39) presently represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District (CD). The 4th looks more like the Kansas prairies than part of Rocky MountainColorado. The 4th, in Colorado’s eastern part, borders five states including Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Agriculture and food processing are economic mainstays. Most of the 4th’s population lives in the Denver suburbs of Weld and fast growing DouglasCounty. The 4th contains the cities of Greeley, Longmont, and Castle Rock. In 2011, DouglasCounty was the 9th wealthiest in the nation. The 4th Col. CD follows the voting patterns of its neighboring “Red” states. DouglasCounty voters are cultural conservatives and gave Romney 62% of their vote. The 4th CD has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+11 (Barone 14, CQ14).
While growing up, Gardner worked on his family’s farm implement dealership. At the University of Col. Law School, he joined the conservative Federalist Society. After receiving his law degree in 2001, Gardner became the communications director for the National Corn Growers Association. In 2002, he became an aide to conservative Col. GOP Senator Wayne Allard, whose seat Mark Udall later won. In 2005, Gardner was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Colorado House. He won a full term in 2006, and won re-election unopposed in 2008 (CQ 14, Barone 14, ourcampaigns.com). In 2010, Gardner ran against Dem. rookie Betsy Markey and handily defeated her (Barone 14).
In the House, Cong. Gardner has been one of the more faithful followers of the GOP leadership. He voted with his hard-right party 93% of the time in both the 112th and 113th Congresses (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database). Gardner was a close friend of House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and joined him on the 2012 vice-presidential campaign trail. Gardner repeatedly voted for repealing Obamacare. He added an amendment to the 2011 GOP House-passed spending bill that denied startup funds for Obama’s health care exchanges (Barone 14, Huffington Post Seay, 3/03/14). At a 2013 hearing, Gardner lost his cool when he badgered Health and Human Services Sec. Sibelius over Obamacare (Col. Independent, Tomasic, 2/27/14).
Fiscal conservative Gardner “deviated” a few times from the GOP leadership. He voted against supporting spending bills for 2011 and 2012. He voted against the budget agreement Ryan and Democrats later worked out to remove some sequester cuts. He joined most GOPers in opposing the successful fiscal cliff compromise that prevented economic disaster (U.S. Cong. Votes Database, CQ 14). Gardner was in favor of the GOP government 10/2013 shut down and against raising the debt ceiling. He even encouraged talk that Obama was not a U.S. born citizen, pandering to the loony “birther” fringe (Col. Indep. 2/27/14).
Despite these views, House GOP leadership trusted Gardner, rewarding him as a freshman with the Energy and Commerce Committee assignment. GOPers saw Gardner as “youthful and tactful,” a fellow they needed to “tweak their ‘branding (CQ14, See Col. Independent, Tomasic, 3/05/14).’”
Gardner is an heir to wacky Ken Buck, hard right beer baron Pete Coors, and anti-immigrant Tom Tancredo, people Coloradans have rejected at the ballot box (Tomasic, Col. Independent, 2/27/14). Gardner has a Tea Party voting record. In both the 2010 and 2012 cycle, extremist/anti-regulatory Koch Industries directly gave Gardner $10,000. By 2011, Koch, through additional committees and lobbyists it funded, gave Gardner about $300,000-$450,000 (OpenSecrets.org, DCCC, gardnerpath.com). Gardner repaid Koch. Environmentalists labeled Gardner, “the most anti-environmental Congressman in Colorado history (Barone 14).”
Gardner is a member of the GOP’s “war on women caucus.” While in the Col. Legislature, Gardner sponsored a bill to outlaw abortion, including in cases of rape and incest. In Congress, he gained notoriety for sponsoring a bill to redefine rape to include only “forcible” instances of the crime. Gardner supported numerous failed attempts to pass a so-called personhood constitutional amendment that would grant fertilized eggs legal recognition, outlaw abortion in all cases, and threaten fertility research and treatment. A YouTube video of Gardner campaigning in 2010 has him saying he supported this measure and passed around personhood petitions in his church. Pro-choice Colorado defeated the personhood amendments in 2008 and 2010. In 2012, personhood supporters failed to win enough signatures to get on the ballot. Ken Buck lost his 2010 Senate race to Michael Bennet because he supported similar positions, losing the women’s vote by 16 points (Tomasic, Col. Independent, Tomasic, 2/27 & 3/05/14). Gardner just endorsed Buck to take over Gardner’s congressional seat (Denver Post, Bartels, 3/201/4).
The Human Rights Campaign gave Cong. Gardner a Zero grade on gay rights. In the Colorado legislature, Gardner voted against allowing gays to become adoptive parents and giving them health care benefits. Gardner supports the hard right stance on immigration. He favored Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law (Col. Indep. 2/27/14).
After Gardner declared his Senate candidacy, Sen. Mark Udall and his fellow Democrats immediately started attacking him for his anti-women state and federal record to define him early as outside Colorado’s mainstream (Tomasic, Col. Indep. 3/05/14). Udall’s spokesman correctly argued that “We’ve swapped one Tea Partier (Buck) for another (Gardner).” He added that “unlike radical Cong. Tancredo, who never cracked the top 50, Gardner’s record made him the 10th most conservative House member (National Journal, KDVR, 3/04/14).” Udall’s camp has stated that the Koch Brothers have poured at least $970,000 of “tainted money” in ads into this Colorado contest (Scripps Media & AP 3/18/14).
The officially Tea Party-endorsed candidate, State Senator Owen Hill, initially refused to leave the race and called the Gardner-Buck switch “corruption.” On 3/17/2014, Hill dropped out and endorsed Gardner. He stated the GOP needed a “united front.” State Senator Randy Baumgartner remains in the GOP primary, but is not very popular. Who knows if he will stay. Koch and other GOP groups will keep on shoveling money to Gardner. Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups must answer ASAP. They are starting to bolster Udall and attack Koch, but must keep it up. (NY Times, Parker, 3/21/14). The latest PPP poll has Udall leading Gardner by just 2 points. One year ago, PPP had Udall leading Gardner by 10 (Nir, Kos Elections, 3/18/14). Democrats, women, gays, Hispanics, and moderates must come out in droves to re-elect Mark Udall, not “rebranded” Cory Gardner, Ken Buck’s political twin.
Florida 13th CD Post-Mortem March 12, 2014
As we all know by now, in the swing Florida 13th CD (Congressional District) special election held on 3/11/2014, GOP lobbyist and right winger David Jolly edged Democrat Alex Sink by about 1.8 % of the vote. Although Sink led in early voting and absentee ballots, she badly lost at the ballot box on Election Day itself. Although no exit polls were conducted, the Democratic base did its “suicidal thing,” once again, by failing to show up. There was only 30% turnout in Sink precincts, as opposed to 50% in Jolly’s (@ Alan Covington). When will we supposedly “smart” Democrats learn? Turnout is EVERYTHING! We have to stop grousing about our candidate’s lack of “purity” on ideological issues or a nominee’s low charisma and come out in droves for someone with a “D” after his/ her name. There are more of us than them. “When Democrats vote, we win,” to quote Bill Clinton. We must not allow a repeat of this behavior in the 11/2014 midterms or we will lose the Senate and have no chance whatsoever of recapturing the House. Heed the words of President Obama. He called Democrats at midterms, “sleepy and distracted,” and thinking midterms are not “sexy” enough (CNN J. Helman, 3/05/14). Every election counts and passing progressive laws, a “sexy” goal of progressives, requires a Democratic House and Senate as well as a President. And, finally, do not let the GOP claim this election a referendum on Obamacare. People appreciate strong candidates who stand up for what they believe. Do not run away from this signature Democratic issue. About 51% of Americans want to keep Obamacare or expand it, a majority (3/11/2014, CNN Poll). Millions continue to sign up. We must highlight the stories of the many helped by Obmacare.
For those who are interested, I am attaching my original blog on the Sink-Jolly contest.
It’s Swingy Florida Again— Democrat Alex Sink v. GOPer David Jolly to Face Off in March Special Congressional Election January 24, 2014
While the media discovered their latest GOP presidential “savior,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is a bully with Richard Nixon’s vindictive streak, the 2016 presidential contest remains eons away. Let’s not forget November 4, 2014, the date of the next congressional midterms. In the House, all 435 seats will be contested. After the 2012 elections, Democrats needed to capture a net 17 seats to retake the House. “Team Blue,” therefore, had to exceed its losses in House races by 17. Even before 11/2014, Democrats could lower this net number to 16 and get political momentum. On 3/11/2014, Florida voters will go to the polls in a special election to pick a congressional candidate to serve out the remainder of GOP Congressman Bill Young’s term. Elected in 1970, Young died on 10/18/2013, nine days after he had announced that he would not seek a 23rd term in 11/2014 (NY Times, AP, 10/18/13, Barone 14 Political Almanac). This SunshineState special election will pit Democrat Alex Sink against GOPer David Jolly.
Control of Florida’s 13th Congressional District (CD) will be determined in this 3/11/2014 special race. The Fla. 13th takes in most of the PinellasCountyPeninsula. The 13th includes about half of St. Petersburg’s population, excluding the heavily African American precincts in South St.Petersburg. This CD contains Largo, Pinellas Park, and Dunedin. The city of Clearwater was added to the redistricted 13th. Tourism, health care, retail, and technology bolster the economy (Barone 14 and CQ 14 Almanacs).
The 13th CD has three-fourths of PinellasCounty’s population and is a classical swing district. Almost 20% of Clearwater’s population is over 65, second in the nation. Seniors constitute 22.1% of the 13th . Residents are a mix of longtime locals, retired transplants, immigrants and “snowbirds,” northerners spending the winters (Barone 14, CQ 14). In the 1950’s, this area became the first part of modern Fla. to elect a GOP Congressman. The GOP tilt has faded with an influx of Democrats, young people, and gays. Independents hold the key. They make up 28% of the 13th’s voters, to the Democrats 35%, and the Republicans 37%. Obama carried this district by 3 points in 2008, 51%-48%, and by 1 point in 2012, 50%-49%. The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the 13th an R+1 score (Alvarez, NY Times, 12/23/13, Barone 14, CQ 14).
Alex Sink (65) is well known in Fla. politics. Sink is the widow of Bill McBride, who unsuccessfully ran for Governor in 2002. Of part Thai ancestry, Sink’s maternal great-grandfather was Chang Bunker, one of the famous conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker. A mathematics graduate of N. Carolina’s Wake Forest University, Sink taught for three years at girls’ schools in Sierra Leone and Liberia (Klas, Tampa Bay Times, 10/15/10, A. Smith 10/24/10, Ocala Star Banner, 10/22/02). Sink served on former Gov. Lawton Chiles’ Commission on Government Accountability and his Education Commission. She was vice-chair of Florida Tax Watch and Chair of Hillsborough County’s United Way. In 2006, Sink won election as Fla.’s Chief Financial Officer (Fla. Dept. of State 2006 Election Results). In 2010, Sink ran for Governor and lost by a 1.15% margin, 48.87%-47.72%, to Tea Party health care executive Rick Scott (Ft. Myers News, Fla. gubernatorial election, 2010). Turnout in 2010 was horrible in S. Fla. Democratic strongholds (Sun Sentinel.com, S. Wyman, 11/03/10).
Sink was a former President of Florida Operations at NationsBank, now Bank of America (NY Times, L. Alverez, 12/23/13). When Sink announced her candidacy for the 13th CD, national Democrats supported her. The other declared candidate dropped out of the race to clear the primary field (Blake, Wash. Post, 11/06/13).
Sink is viewed as a pragmatist with business sense. She is a consumer advocate. She supports a ban on oil drilling in Fla.’s waters. She is for educational improvements. She wants to stabilize small businesses and emphasize research and development. Sink is strongly pro-choice, supporting Roe v. Wade. She has been honored by Southwest and Central Fla.’s Planned Parenthood with its “Choice Award.” Sink was against Arizona’s anti-Hispanic draconian immigration law. Sink told a gay and lesbian audience that she is for adoption of children in a home “where it is in the best interest of children regardless of gender preference.” Sink supported and continues to back Obamacare (“CFO website,” Alex Sink official website,CBS 4, S. Fla. News, 8/17/10, Palm Beach Post, B. Reinhard, 11/16/09, Alvarez, NY Times).
Here’s Sink’s GOP opponent, David Jolly. Jolly (41), has not previously run for local office and lacks wide recognition (C. Krueger, Tampa Bay Times). A Baptist pastor’s son, Jolly has undergraduate and law degrees from Emory and GeorgeMasonUniversities (“David Jolly for Congress”). In 1995, Jolly landed a bottom-rung job with Cong. Young. From 2006-2007, Jolly was Young’s general counsel. Jolly, however, remains best known for his career as a D.C. lobbyist. Clearwater GOP State Senator Jack Latvala, who declined to run for this seat, stated what many Democrats and independents believe, “I really don’t think the timing is right for a Washington lobbyist to move to our district and run for Congress (Krueger, Tampa Bay Times, 11/04/13).
Jolly likes to “take liberties” with his lobbying record. On 1/06/2014 at a Tampa candidate forum, he denied lobbying for oil-drilling interests. In 2011, however, Jolly lobbied on behalf of an initiative for Free Enterprise Nation that would open the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. (“Political Animal,” M. Perry, 1/06/14, Bergstein, DCCC). Jolly claims he was against GOP Cong. Paul Ryan’s budget because of its changes to Social Security. In 2009, however, according to disclosure reports, Jolly lobbied on behalf of the same Free Enterprise Nation for Social Security “reform.” Free Enterprise’s Nation CEO, Jim MacDougald, a co-chair of Jolly’s campaign finance team, advocates allowing people to invest Social Security money in the stock market, a stand that would gut this key program and financially hurt retirees (Tampa Bay Times, 1/22/14, A. Leary).
Jolly opposes abortion. Jolly has won the endorsement of National Right to Life, an anti-choice group (NY Times, L. Alverez, 1/15/14). In a post-primary TV ad he recently released, Jolly took a hard line on immigration reform. He called for “stronger borders, not amnesty (Nir, Kos Election Digest, 1/6/14).” Addressing supporters after his primary victory, he stated the greatest threat to our national security is “not some young man who wants to blow up his shoe on an airplane. It’s irresponsible and reckless fiscal policies out of WashingtonD.C. that will cripple our economy and ensure that we are no longer the world’s lone super power (“Bay News 9,” Davis, Hopper & Glassford, 1/15/14).” The Tampa Bay Times said Jolly “offers no pragmatic solutions and promotes more rigid ideological positions (12/16/13).”Jolly has stated that politicians should “not set the minimum wage,” wrote that veterans should pay more for their government health care, and lobbied against women getting equal pay with men(St. Petersburg Tribune, 2/02/14, Tampa Bay Times, 1/31/14).
Like most 2014 GOP candidates, Jolly wants voters to ignore his extremist record. He intends to run the special election around one issue, “repeal, repeal, repeal Obamacare.” He called Obamacare “the number one issue in this race, not the candidates (“Bay News 9,” Davis, Hopper & Glassford, 1/15/14).”
As in 2000, 2008, and 2012, swingy Fla. has again become the nation’s political “ground zero.” National pundits are zeroing in on the Fla. 13th. On 1/06/2014, “Hotline” listed this race as “the 4th most likely seat in the country that could flip political parties in 2014, in this case, go Democratic after half a century of GOP control (M. Perry, 1/06/14, “Political Animal”).
In her campaign appearances and ads, Sink touts her record as a “problem solver,” and how she’s “always worked well across party lines (NY Times, 12/23/13).” Sink and fellow Democrats are attacking Jolly as an establishment “Washington Revolving Door” lobbyist who works for “special interests, not PinellasCounty families (DCCC).” In 2010, when Sink lost the governor’s race to GOPer Scott, she carried the 13th by 2 points (NY Times, Roll Call, Rothenberg 1/09/14). In 12/2013, Sink had a war chest of $1.43 million, with just more than $1million in the bank. Jolly then had $142,000 on hand some of which he spent in the primary (Rothenberg). More than a dozen operatives and officials from both parties see Sink as the “unambiguous” favorite in the 3/11/2014 race (“Politico,” 1/12/14).
Never “misunderestimate” GOPer Jolly. Defeated GOP primary candidates and their supporters are uniting behind him (Tampa Bay Times, Krueger, 1/20/14). Although Democratic groups, including the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), Emily’s List, and the House Majority PAC, have promised to fund Sink, they had better deliver oodles of cash ASAP. In the 2010 governor’s race, Scott financially buried Sink (“Politico,”Barone 14). The National Republican Congressional Committee has already hammered Sink in a $100,000 web ad and is preparing a $725,000 TV ad campaign. Count on Koch Industries and other GOP leaning groups to enter (“Politico,” “The Hill,” 1/16/14). The DCCC has reserved more than $820,000 of commercial time to boost Sink (Isenstadt, “Politico, 1/22/14). This spending must increase. Cong. Young’s name has been tarnished by reports that he deserted his first wife and kept a secret second family for decades. However, many voters still see him as a revered figure, and support former Young staffer Jolly as his heir (“Politico,”1/12/14, NY Times, 1/15/14). Sink has a reputation as a “charisma challenged” campaigner (“Politico”). Obamacare is unpopular with seniors. The botched roll out, though now fixed, did not help (Rothenberg, Roll Call).
Sink is not ducking Obamacare. Although she criticized Obamacare’s rocky start, she noted that we “can’t go back to where we were,” (NY Times, 1/23/14), read, the “bad old days,” where insurance companies cancelled too many policy holders for arbitrary reasons. Her Obamacare theme must be “fix it, not nix it.”
Sink and her fellow Democrats need to understand that this special election race is viewed by analysts as a Democratic “must win,” and a referendum on Obamacare. A loss will be seen as stalling any momentum Democrats have to recapture the House in 2014. A victory will show that attacking Obamacare is not the GOP’s Campaign 2014 “magic bullet (See Rothenberg, U.S. News, Fox, 1/15/14).”
Democrats must additionally use the money they receive from national groups to get out their 13th CD base in droves to counter the normally elderly white GOP special election pool (“Politico,” 1/12/14). Republicans must not be allowed to successfully trash health care reform in congressional races.
Virginia’s Steve Martin—He Plays a Real Life “Jerk” March 7, 2014
Remember the 1979 film “The Jerk?” Directed by Carl Reiner, this comedy put Steve Martin in his first starring feature portraying the adventures of a “terminally stupid man (L. Maltin’s 2003 Movie & Video Guide).” In the 2014 political world, the GOP continues to play the role of the “terminally stupid party” with its ongoing war on women. Witness Virginia State Senator Steve Martin (no relation), but a real “jerk” just the same. In a lengthy Facebook post, Martin responded to a Valentine’s Day card he received from a pro-choice coalition that called on politicians not to restrict legal abortion or access to contraception. This group wrote Martin and others “not to break our hearts” by continuing to vote for anti-abortion measures and against access to critical health care for women (Huffington Post, 2/24/14).
In Martin’s own words:
“If it’s your expectation that I should support such nonsense, I will be breaking your heart. You can count on me to never get in the way of you ‘preventing an unintentional pregnancy.’ I’m not actually sure what that means, because if it’s ‘unintentional,’ you must have been trying to prevent it. And, I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s ‘host’ (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it (Huffington Post, 2/24/14, Slate, A. Marcotte, 2/24/14).” Here’s Steve Martin.
For over 10 years, GOP Stephen Holliday “Steve” Martin (57) has been Virginia’s 11th District State Senator. The Va. 11th Senate District (SD) includes part of ChesterfieldCounty with the city of Colonial Heights and all of AmeliaCounty (Virginia.gov/sfb/SenateDistricts). Color the 11th SD “Red.” Chesterfield and AmeliaCounty are represented by two GOP stalwarts in the U.S. House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Cong. Randy Forbes (Barone & CQ 12 Almanacs).
ChesterfieldCounty native Martin is a high school graduate of LynchburgChristianAcademy. This school was founded in 1967 by the late Moral Majority preacher Jerry Falwell as a segregated private school and renamed in 2005 as LibertyChristianAcademy (Dowland, 2007, books.google.com, inspyred.com/ images/ 2012). Martin is a member of the SwiftCreekBaptistChurch and the South Richmond Rotary. In addition to his Senate job, Martin heads his own firm, Martin Financial Services. He is a licensed insurance consultant and securities dealer (Senate of Va., lis.virginia.gov).
Martin first won election to the Va. House of Delegates in 1987 and was easily re-elected three times (Candidate Data for 1987,1989,1991,1993, vavh.iath.virginia.edu). In 1994, Martin won a State Senate special election. Martin has since coasted to victory in five State Senate re-elections, running unopposed three times (Candidate Data for 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, vavh.iath.virginia.edu). Martin unsuccessfully sought the 2013 Va. GOP nomination for Lt. Governor (washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-politics).
Two of Martin’s committee assignments are Education and Health and Privileges and Elections (lis.virginia.gov). Martin serves as one of two Va. state chairmen for the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC (progressva.org, alec.org/about). ALEC is a group composed of conservative state legislators, think-tanks, and business representatives that collaborate on drafting state bills. ALEC pushes for “free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism.” About 200 of these state bills become law each year (alec.org, B. Greeley, “Businessweek,” 5/03/12, A. Greenblatt, “Governing,” 10/03). Some ALEC bills that have passed include reducing corporate regulation and taxes and promoting gun rights. ALEC helped pass strict voter identification rules, which suppress minority and elderly turn out, and the controversial “Stand Your Ground” legislation, involved in the Trayvon Martin Fla. shooting case. ALEC was instrumental in passage of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigration SB 1070 law (alec.org, Greeley, “Businessweek,” M. McIntire, 4/21/12, NY Times, R. Reilly, TPMMuckraker, “NationalCenter for Public Policy Research,” 4/18/12, R. Barnes, Wash. Post, 6/25/12).
After the outcry over Martin’s describing a pregnant woman as a “host,” Martin changed his post. He now refers to the woman as the “bearer of the child (Huffington Post, 2/24/14).”This “word play” fails to change the intent of Martin’s anti-legal abortion comments or his inference that contraception is a controversial/ “abnormal” part of women’s health care (See Slate, Marcotte, 2/24/14). And why should we be surprised by Martin’s comments? Martin voted for Va.’s mandatory fetal ultrasound bill. He supported a fetal personhood bill, which would ban all abortions and could affect the legality of some forms of contraception (Huffington Post, 2/24/14). Women, whether, “hosts,” or “bearers of the child,” are in Martin’s view, secondary objects. Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told the Huffington Post that Martin’s rant reveals the “contempt” that anti-abortion lawmakers have for women. In Keene’s words, “Sen. Steve Martin obviously has zero understanding of the reality of reproductive choice and what it means for women to have control over their bodies, families, and lives. His remarks demonstrate what exactly these extreme lawmakers mean when they talk about ‘personhood’- that pregnant women are no more than vessels. Even more outrageous, he also fails to understand how he as a lawmaker can help empower women to reduce unintended pregnancies—something that should be a common goal for all (Huffington Post, 2/24/14).” On 2/25/2014, the pro-choice Emily’s List political action committee put out an online petition attacking Martin. It stated, “Tell the GOP: Pregnant Women Are Not ‘Hosts’ (NY Times, A. Chozick, 2/27/14).”In this election cycle, Emily’s List, by blasting Martin and other anti-women’s rights GOP legislators, has raised a record $25 million (Chozick).
State Senator Martin is no GOP outlier. Former GOP Va. Atty. General/Tea Party idol Ken Cuccinelli, who lost the 2013 Va. governor’s race, held similar anti-abortion positions. Cuccinelli compared abortion to the “fight against slavery (Planned Parenthood Action Fund).” Martin’s views dovetail with those of Rick Santorum, failed Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, and Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn. They all spoke of life, even if created by rape, as “a gift that a woman should accept from God (Barone 12 Almanac, Santorum comments, 1/20/12, Mourdock 10/23/12 debate).” Under such “reasoning,” a woman should be honored to be called a “vessel.” We should be “thankful” that Martin didn’t play the anti-science card as did failed GOP Mo. Sen. candidate Todd Akin. Akin, remember, spoke of women’s bodies being able “to shut down conception when ‘legitimate rape’ occurs (8/19/2012 KVI-TV interview).”
All elections, whether presidential, congressional, or state have consequences. In the 2013 Va. elections, Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Cuccinelli for Governor. Democrats also won the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, all running on a pro-choice/pro-women’s rights platform. Women’s votes were essential in those victories. Even though the GOP still controls the Va. House, the State Senate now has a 20-20 split. Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam can break tie votes to push McAuliffe’s progressive economic and social agenda. Anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive laws will be hard to pass (See Loudoun Times, 1/24/14, Loudoun County Dem, Kos, 1/24/14, Washington Post). Gov. McAuliffe’s win, Attorney General Mark Herring’s victory, and the special state senate election to replace Lt. Gov. Northam were nail-bitingly close (“Politico,”Hohmann, 11/06/13, Kos, Loudoun County Dem, 1/24/14, Vozzella & Pershing, Wash. Post, 12/18/13). Women voters in those races powered the Democrats.
Although Steve Martin can probably keep getting re-elected in Va.’s 11th SD, his ability to push his extreme social platform will be checked as long as Democrats hold the governorship and Senate power in the Old Dominion. Democrats, especially women, heed the message Va. is sending for the 2014 midterms. In 2014, control of the Senate and the House are in play. Turnout is everything! Women, a linchpin of the Democratic coalition since 1980, had a poor 2010 midterm national turnout. Nearly 10 million unmarried women were no-shows. The GOP then took back the House, governorships, and state legislatures. And those women who did vote, went 51% GOP. In 2012, when more women showed up, they went for Obama over Romney 55%- 44% and helped Democrats gain Senate seats (LA Times, 11/09/10, M. Gold, J. Steffen, & D. McManus, 3/02/14, NY Times, Chozick, 2/27/14). In Campaign 2014, women, Democratic men, and moderates of both sexes must say “No” in droves at the ballot box to the war on women that state and national GOP Steve Martins are running.
Kentucky Political Derby— Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes v. GOP “Gridlock Guardian” Mitch McConnell February 21, 2014
In politics, the party that goes on offense, taking the fight to one’s opponents, has a better chance of victory. Playing defense often constitutes a losing strategy. In Campaign 2014, pundits and analysts view Senate Democrats as crouching defensively. Yes, in order to keep the Senate “Blue,” Democrats will have to defend 21 seats. Six of them remain toss ups in states that Romney carried in 2012. With Democrats currently holding a 55-45 working majority, 6 is also the “magic number” Republicans need to crown obstructionist Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader ( J.Healy, NY Times, 2/07/14, “Politico,” Raju & Sherman, Time Mag., Election Special, Daily Kos, dpinzow, 11/20/12). This calculus only works if Democrats hunker defensively. If Senate Democrats play offense, GOP Senate take-over odds diminish. In two “Red” Leaning/ Romney-voting states, Georgia and Kentucky, Senate Democrats have a shot at pick ups in 2014, if they engage offensively. GOP Senate Leader McConnell faces a strong threat from Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. Let’s focus on this 2014 Kentucky Political Derby.
Maysville, Kentucky native, Alison Lundergan Grimes (35), is currently Secretary of State. Her father was a former Ky. Democratic chairman and state representative (Maysvill-online.com, 5/05/10). As a youngster, Grimes knocked on doors and drove voters to the polls. An alumna of Lexington, Ky.’s CatholicHigh School, Grimes graduated from MemphisTenn.’s RhodesCollege in 2001. She received her law degree from D.C.’s AmericanUniversity. At AmericanUniversity, Grimes worked with the National Kidney Foundation (alumni.rhodes.edu, AlisonForKentucky.Com).
From 2004-2011, Grimes was in private practice. She helped open and expand businesses. After winning a domestic abuse case, Grimes decided to go into politics (AlisonForKentucky.Com, Horn, “Story”). Grimes worked with Ky. institutions including the local Salvation Army, CardinalHillRehabilitationHospital, and God’s Pantry Food Bank. Grimes was a precinct officer and a member of the 2008 Democratic National Committee rules committee (skofirm.com, 2/14/2011, AlisonFor Kentucky).
In the 11/2011 Secretary of State race, Grimes clobbered GOP businessman Bill Johnson with over 60% of the vote. A major issue was Grimes’ opposition to Johnson’s proposal to require photo IDs in order to vote. Grimes argued these IDs would take away voting rights from the homeless and other groups (Evansville Courier & Press, 11/08/11).
In office, Grimes ushered in new laws to protect the voting rights of domestic violence victims and absentee voters. After visiting the Middle East in 9/2012, Grimes helped pass a law that allowed military members and their families to register to vote and update their registration online, the first Ky. law of this kind. Grimes modernized government services and made sure that Ky. helped small businesses. She worked with industry leaders to promote jobs and embraced bipartisan cooperation (AlisonForKentucky).
In 7/2013, Grimes announced she would run for the U.S. Senate against Republican Mitch McConnell. She drew strong crowds and received positive reviews for her appearance at the Fancy Farm picnic, an important Ky. political event (Politico, Schultheis & Raju, 7/01/13, A. Cross, Courier Journal & L.D. Keeling, Lexington Herald- Leader,8/11/13). The Cook Political Report called this contest a “toss-up (emilyslist.org).”
Grimes stands for raising the minimum wage and closing the gender pay gap. She wants to make child care more affordable for Ky.’s 140,000 working mothers with on-site child care centers for employees. She supports early childhood education and preserving teachers’ jobs. In the Senate, Grimes will continue protecting the victims of domestic violence. Grimes stands for strengthening Social Security and Medicare, not privatizing and cutting them. About 600,000 Kentuckians rely on Social Security and nearly 800,000 need Medicare (AlisonForKentucky, 2012 Henry J. Kaiser Foundation Report). She is for giving Ky.’s 350,000 veterans better medical care, education, and job training (Dept. of Veterans Affairs, AlisonForKentucky). Pro-choice Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood back Grimes. In 9/2013, Grimes was the biggest recipient of campaign cash from Emily’s List, getting $16,000 (Sunlight Foundation, R. Sibley, 11/15/13). In “Red”-leaning Ky., NRA member Grimes is against gun control. In coal-heavy Ky., Grimes criticized Obama for attacking that industry (“The Hill,” 11/11/13 & 12/03/13).
Grimes stands for “keeping and fixing” healthcare reform, while McConnell and his fellow GOPers remain hell-bent on repeal. McConnell attacked healthcare recipients in Ky. as beneficiaries of “free stuff,” talk echoing Romney’s 47% “moochers/ takers.” Unlike some “Red” State Democrats, Grimes is not running away from Obamacare. She is pushing for expanding its coverage. Her state’s Democratic Governor, Steve Beshear, was praised by Obama during the State of the Union speech for his successful implementation of Kynect, Ky.’s health care exchange. Kynect has insured at least 640,000 residents. Grimes attacked McConnell for his repeal Obamacare stance, saying that such action would foreclose affordable coverage for over half a million Kentuckians (Wash. Post, Sargent, “The Plumb Line, Wash. Post, 12/13/13, 1/08/14).
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (72) is running for his 6th term. “Visions of the Majority Leadership sugar plum dance in his head.” Southern hard –right obstructionist McConnell epitomizes today’s GOP. McConnell first won election to the Senate in 1984 by .4 of a point. McConnell has won 3 re-elections with just 52%-55% of the vote (CQ 14 Almanac). McConnell was delighted when the Supreme Court Citizens’ United case overturned corporate spending restrictions. He called unrestricted campaign giving “as American as apple pie.” Had he not had a 2:1 spending advantage in 2008, he might have lost (Barone 14, CQ 14). From 1999-2008, McConnell voted with his hard right party 95%-99% of the time (CQ 10, Barone 10). In the 111th and 112th Congresses, McConnell voted with his party 98% and 92% of the time. In the current 113th Congress, he has a 90% score, including voting against the bipartisan budget compromise that ended some of the automatic harsh sequester cuts (U.S. Cong. Votes Database, Wash. Post).
McConnell is a tough, polarizing, thick-skinned leader who does not duck fights. He is a master parliamentarian (Barone 14, CQ 14). He puts party ahead of politics and keeps his GOP, including “moderates,” unified. His key priority in Obama’s first term was not jobs, but “making him (Obama) a one-term president (National Journal 2010 speech).”McConnell has a strong relationship with GOP House Speaker John Boehner (C. Hulse, NY Times, 7/01/11). McConnell did everything to delay passage of Obamacare and Wall Street reform (Center for Responsive Politics, 4/17/11).
In 2009, McConnell resorted to filibusters and parliamentary objections to block bills and conference negotiations. In 2009, McConnell forced a record 112 Senate cloture votes to end debate on Democratic legislation. In the first two months of 2010, McConnell forced 40 cloture votes. He encouraged numerous holds on Obama’s appointees and played the filibuster card against many judicial nominees (“Daily Beast,” NY Times).
Despite Obama’s convincing re-election win, McConnell has twice led successful filibuster votes to deny unemployment benefits to millions of Americans (Kos, Clawson, 2/06/14). Because of McConnell’s filibuster stunts, in 11/2013, the Democratic Senate invoked the “nuclear option” for most federal judges and other presidential nominees. Such appointments now require only a 51 majority vote to stop a filibuster threat. General legislation still needs a 60 vote majority to stop unlimited debate. McConnell, therefore, continues to obstruct (LA Times, Memoli, 11/22/13). Democratic consultant James Carville called McConnell, “Washington’s ‘Guardian of Gridlock (Huffington Post, 1/08/14).’”
In addition to wanting to repeal health care, McConnell voted to cut child care for 1,700 Ky. children and slash $31.8 million for Ky. schools. He stands for privatizing Social Security and ending Medicare as we know it. McConnell has called giving women equal pay for the jobs they do, “just another special interest vote.” He twice voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act (Grimes, “On the Issues,” AP, 5/8/12, harkin.senate.gov). McConnell voted against raising the minimum wage 16 times. Despite attempts to disguise his real record, McConnell repeatedly opposed the Violence Against Women Act and even blocked an effort to vote on the bill to protect women (MSNBC, 7/15/13, Roll Call, 7/31/12). Grimes attacked McConnell for these reactionary stands.
The latest non-partisan Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, finds Grimes leading McConnell 46%-42%. It’s the second survey in a week to show him locked in a tight race with Grimes. A poll from GOP-leaning Rasmussen, released on 2/03/2014, had the two candidates in a dead heat. Eleven previous polls showed this race tied or McConnell trailing slightly (Time, “Swampland, Altman & Newton-Small, Kos, Clawson, 2/07/14, Huffington Post, Edwards-Levy, 2/06/14). About 60% of the voters disapprove of McConnell’s Senate performance. Just 32% approve. McConnell’s approval ratings are worse than Obama’s, who lost Ky. in 2012 by 22 points. Grimes leads McConnell among women and voters under 35. Moderates give her a 20-point edge (Time, Huffington Post).
Grimes argues she can defeat McConnell despite Ky.’s “Red” tilt. She points to her family roots making her competitive in northern and eastern Ky. and her strong organization there. Grimes grew up in the key area of central Ky. where Lexington and the capital Frankfort are located. She took nearly 63% of that vote in her Sec. of State race. In Louisville, with 32% of the electorate and the state’s most Dem. region, Grimes won over 66% of the vote. McConnell’s 2008 opponent barely cracked the 50% mark in the Louisville area (Grimes Campaign Memo, J. Hurst, 11/06/2013).
Ky. Democrats often tear each other up in divisive and money- consuming primaries. GOPer McConnell is now facing self-funded Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin in the 5/20/2014 primary. McConnell has endorsements from major Tea Party groups. McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, came from Tea Party junior Sen. Rand Paul’s camp (Kos, Lewison, 2/11/14, Politico, 5/14/13). McConnell looks like he will win his primary. He currently leads Bevin 55%-29%. Still, GOPers remain furious that dollars are “being wasted in Ky. (Time, 2/07/14).” Bill Clinton, the last Dem. presidential candidate who carried Ky., will campaign for Grimes (J. Gerth, Louisville Courier Journal, 2/06/14).
Never ever “misunderestimate” Sen. McConnell. Despite these encouraging polls, Nov. 2014 remains light years away. Although money is pouring into Grimes’ campaign and national Democrats are pragmatically uniting behind her, McConnell has stockpiled $10.9-$15 million (USA Today, 1/21/14, Emily’s List). And he will get more cash from national GOP- leaning groups, including big spending Koch Industries. From 2008-2012, Koch gave McConnell $58,000 (OpenSecrets.org). Most Ky. voters don’t know Grimes. According to the Bluegrass Poll, 47% of the voters are either neutral or have no opinion about her. McConnell, a master of attack ads, has lots of time to make her an “elitist” aided by “outside liberals,” which he did to his 2008 opponent. Since over 600,000 Kentuckians are getting health insurance for the first time via Obamacare, McConnell is now running an ad saying he’s in “favor” of providing health care. As he did with women’s issues, McConnell is hiding his true record. The Chamber of Commerce has an ad up stating that McConnell’s “leading the fight to fix this Obamacare mess (Lewison, Kos, 2/19/14).”
Grimes stated she will require $26-$30 million to defeat McConnell (Kroll, Mother Jones, 7/15/13). Grimes needs this amount to showcase her biography, attack McConnell, and get out moderate and Democratic voters in droves. We must keep the Senate “Blue.” “Ditching Mitch” is the place to start.
Progressive Senator Jeff Merkley—He Needs Our Back in 2014 January 10, 2014
As the ball went down in NY Times Square to usher in New Year’s, the political calendar welcomed 2014 starting the countdown to the November 4 midterm elections. In the Senate, Democrats will have to defend 21 seats. Six of them remain toss ups, including races in “Red” leaning Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska. Democrats will have to keep the seats held by retiring “Team Blue” Senators in Iowa, Michigan, and Montana, as well as defending their 2013 special election victories in Mass. and New Jersey (“Politico,”Raju & Sherman, Time Mag. Election Special, Daily Kos, dpinzow, 11/20/12). With the Democrats currently holding a 55-45 working majority, 6 is the “magic number” the GOP needs to crown obstructionist Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader.
The GOP’s #1 weapon? Obamacare, stupid. Never mind that the federal website was fixed at the beginning of 12/2010. All the GOP can yell is “botched, botched, botched” rollout. Never mind that by New Year’s 2014, more than 6 million uninsured Americans have enrolled in Obamacare, or its related Medicaid expansion and Children’s Health Insurance Program. Never mind that many Americans who previously lost coverage now have insurance (LA Times, M. Reston, 1/02/14, account of breast cancer patient Mary -Therese). Never mind that the GOP has no Plan B to help the millions who would again become uninsured if it repealed Obamacare. The GOP is hunting for people who claim they have faced Obamacare glitches. Republicans are using their millions to cut anti-Obamacare campaign ads in swing and even “Blue” States to attack Democratic Senators. If Republicans make Democratic Senators in “Blue” States vulnerable, the better their political prospects. Exhibit “A,” Oregon. Cover Oregon, that state’s health care exchange, has had difficulties with its website and consumers have problems signing up online. GOP candidate Monica Wehby is taking advantage of this mess-up, and running anti-Obamacare ads attacking Dem. Senator Jeff Merkley (Reston, LA Times). Let’s discuss Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Freshman Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (57) is one of the new activist progressives trying to implement President Obama’s middle class agenda (Barone 14 Political Almanac, LA Times, Memoli, 11/22/13). Merkley’s birthplace was Myrtle Creek, where his father worked in a sawmill. When Merkley was two, the mill closed down. Merkley’s family moved to Portland, where his father became a mechanic. In high school, Merkley spent a summer in Ghana as part of the American Field Service Exchange Program. Attending Stanford, Merkley was the first in his family to enter college. He spent a trimester in Florence, Italy, and a summer in Israel. After graduating with a degree in international affairs, Merkley interned with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and traveled through war-torn Central America. He earned a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton. In 1982, he won a presidential fellowship at the Pentagon. From 1985-1989, Merkley was an analyst for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) where he wrote reports on weapons systems. In D.C., Merkley met his wife Mary Sorteberg, who was working at a homeless shelter for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (Barone 14 &CQ 14 Political Almanacs).
Returning to Portland in the 1990’s, Merkley took a job as director of the city’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. He pushed for affordable housing and skills training for at-risk youth and low-income families. In 1998, he won election to the Oregon House and became the Dem. Minority Leader in 2003. In 2006, Merkley campaigned for Democratic candidates, and the Democrats took back the Ore. House. Unanimously elected Speaker, Merkley helped enact several reforms including greater rights for same sex couples, interest rate caps on loans, and the establishment of a state rainy-day fund to protect schools from recessions. “The Oregonian” newspaper called the session “one of the most successful legislative sessions of recent years (Barone 14).”
Merkley’s record caught the attention of Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) who needed a 2008 challenger to Ore. GOP Sen. Gordon Smith. After winning his primary, Merkley allied himself with presidential candidate Barack Obama, another community organizer. Merkley argued for “real change” and defeated Smith 49%-46% (Barone 14).
In the Senate, Merkley fights for progressive priorities on banking, housing, the environment, and education. He believes that government should do its best to help the middle and lower classes by creating consumer protections and expanding assistance programs. He currently sits on the powerhouse Banking, Budget, Environment, and Appropriations Committees. Merkley is the first Oregonian to gain appointment to the key Appropriations Committee, since GOPer Mark Hatfield retired as its chair at the end of the 104th Congress (1995-1996). In the present 113th Congress, Merkley has voted with his party 93% of the time, similar to his 112th 94% score (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database).
Merkley is a polite, folksy Senator. He offers constituents who visit D.C. the opportunity to meet him for coffee. He uses YouTube to explain on a whiteboard the details of his economic policies (CQ14). Merkley helped write into the 2010 Wall Street reform bill the requirement that financial agencies adopt the “Volcker rule,” named after a former Federal Reserve Chairman. This rule separates the banking and investment arms of financial service companies (CQ14). Merkley voted in favor of health care reform. He championed legislation included in the health care bill that allowed nursing mothers to have flexible break times and provide private spaces to pump breast milk at work (Huffington Post, 12/24/09, USA Today, 7/28/10).
From the get go, Merkley was determined to reform the GOP obstructionist tactic of using the filibuster to stop Senate business. Even before his 2008 election, Merkley told a shocked Dem. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid that filibuster reform was one of his “top priorities.” On 11/21/2013, Merkley, Tom Udall (D-N. Mex.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), pushed Senate Democrats to pass the “nuclear option,” or confirm by a simple 51 majority vote most federal judges and presidential nominees. This move was a political “revolution” in the tradition-obsessed upper chamber that Reid ultimately backed (Memoli, LA Times, 11/22/13). Thanks to Merkley, Obama will now be able to fill the federal bench with progressive nominees and run the government more effectively. Merkley and his allies are continuing the battle to eliminate filibusters on legislation (Barone 14, CQ14).
GOPers are furious at Merkley’s progressive record, especially health care and filibuster reform. So far, 5 conservative GOPers have lined up to try to deny Merkley a second term. One of these primary contenders is Dr. Monica Wehby (“The Oregonian,” J. Mapes, 10/17/13). Wehby caught the media’s eye because she is a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon (Reston, LA Times, 1/02/14, C. Gaston, “The Oregonian,” 10/29/13). A mother of four, Wehby grew up in Tennessee. She studied at Notre Dame and Baylor and moved to Portland 15 years ago to work at Randall Children’s Hospital. Wehby stated her Catholicism and family experience makes her “pro-life” on abortion, but that the Supreme Court is not going to change Roe v. Wade. Wehby doesn’t want to use Roe as a “litmus test for people (Gaston, “The Oregonian”).” Translation, Wehby would not oppose an anti-choice judge nominated for the High Court by a future GOP President. Wehby is wrong. The Roe decision has hung by a mere 5-4 thread, since 1992. Wehby would have no problem defunding Planned Parenthood and denying contraceptives under health care plans.
In 12/2013, Wehby told a conservative talk show host that she agreed with his opposition to increasing the minimum wage. Wehby later criticized Obama and Senate Democrats, including Merkley, for trying to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Oregon Democrats jumped over Wehby. Oregon’s minimum wage is presently $9.10 an hour, the second highest in the nation. In 2010, Oregon’s GOP gubernatorial candidate lost, in part, because he attacked that state’s minimum wage (J. Mapes, “The Oregonian,” 12/13/13).
Wehby serves on the board of the American Medical Association. In 2004, Wehby was the main backer of Ore. Ballot Measure 35. That proposal would have limited non-economic damages in medical lawsuits. Oregon voters defeated it (“The Oregonian,” 10/29/13, Gaston). Wehby wants Oregonians to forget/ignore her reactionary abortion, minimum wage, and medical malpractice stances. Her campaign to unseat Merkley is based on one issue only, repealing Obamacare. She blames Merkeley for the botched Oregon exchange roll out. She also opposes the requirement that individuals buy health insurance, which the conservative Roberts Supreme Court upheld. Wehby has put out videos in which she has Merkley telling a 9/2009 town hall meeting that if you like your (health plan), “it will absolutely be there.” Wehby is running an ad with a “Donna of Portland.” Donna says she never received enrollment options from the state’s exchange after applying there, when her family’s insurance plan was cancelled (Reston, LA Times, 1/02/14, Mapes, “The Oregonian,”1/02/14).
Sen. Merkley has fought back. At recent town hall meetings, he rightly blamed private industry’s Oracle for “botching the roll out in a major way.” (And, GOPers, is private industry always 100% glitch free?) Merkley told constituents that he was sponsoring a bill to automatically extend cancelled policies. He noted that Ore.-based insurers have agreed to extensions to keep people from losing coverage. Merkley strongly defended Obamacare. He attacked the GOP for trying to repeal this bill instead of fixing snafus. Merkley aptly stated that Republicans want to go back to the old days when insurers could deny people coverage when they got sick or cancel plans for pre-existing conditions (“The Oregonian,” Mapes, 1/03/14).
Oregon Democrats have a 180,000 voter registration edge over GOPers Merkley has a $3million war chest, while the GOPers will waste money battling in the primary (Mapes, “The Oregonian,” 1/09/14). However, unless Democrats everywhere defend Obamacare, financial advantages and voter registration figures mean nothing. The GOP and their sympathetic allies, including Koch Industries, will buttress their nominees with anti-Obamacare propaganda. Wehby or another Republican nominee will tirelessly play the anti-Obamacare card. Oregon must fix its health care problems ASAP. It certainly has that ability. Oregon’s metro-Portland area is full of high tech companies and has been nicknamed “Silicon Forest (LA Times, Reston, 1/02/14, Barone 14, Gaston, “The Oregonian,” 10/29/13).” In 11/2014, Oregon Democrats must come out in droves, via mail or at the polls, for Sen. Merkley. We must keep the Senate “Blue” for Merkley and his progressive fighters.
The Old Dominion’s Message for 2014— The Democratic “Coalition of the Ascendant” Trumps All November 15, 2013
The GOP and their media allies are yammering about how Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia Governorship on 11/05/2013 by less than 3% of the vote, despite previous polling indicating he would coast to victory (“Politico,” J. Hohmann, 11/06/13). Ignore them. For the first time in 36 years, the party holding the White House won a governor’s race in the Old Dominion and Democrats scored a “Blue” pickup in this “Purplish” state (Kos, 11/06/13). Virginia Democrats handily won the race for Lt. Governor and, probably, a 164 vote nail-biter for Attorney General (USA Today, 11/13/11). To quote basketball wizard Phil Jackson, “A ‘W’ (a win) is a ‘W.’” Call GOP ace Karl Rove a Jackson disciple. He didn’t care whether client-in-chief George W. Bush won by 1 vote in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 or by 2.9% in 2004. Rove trumpeted these victories as “mandates” and had George W. govern accordingly. After W’s 2000 victory, Rove determined that to win in 2004 with a divided “Red/Blue” State nation, the presidential race must be a GOP “base” election. In 2004, the Rove/W team concentrated on bringing out all the conservatives who had voted in 2000, plus millions more with similar beliefs (See “One Party Country,” Hamburger & Wallsten).
In 2008, Obama ran as being above party lines and received many GOP and independent votes. Campaign 2012, however, required a Democratic base election. In 2012, few GOP voters were willing to aid Obama. Republicans had spent 2009-2012 blocking everything Obama did trying to make him, in GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell’s words, “a one-term President.” With changing national demographics favoring “Team Blue,” Obama handily defeated Romney with what columnist Ron Brownstein labeled the “coalition of the ascendant.” This group consists of African Americans, Hispanics, and women. Add young voters, Asian Americans, gays, and people with advanced degrees to this bloc (Alter, “The Center Holds”). When much of this Democratic base stayed home in the 2010 midterms, the GOP took back the House, gained Senate seats, and captured the majority of governorships. Let’s look at Governor- elect Terry McAuliffe, how he won Virginia, and the lessons of this race.
Terry McAuliffe (56) is no stranger to Democratic politics. McAuliffe’s father was treasurer of a NY Democratic organization (M. Dowd, NY Times, 7/07/87). A 1979 graduate of D.C.’s Catholic University, son Terry took a job in Pres. Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign and became the national finance director. In 1984, McAuliffe received a law degree from Georgetown University (“Leaders Magazine,” 7/03/07). McAuliffe made millions in banking and business (“What a Party!” Kettman & McAuliffe).
McAuliffe remains best known for his political and personal relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as his Democratic Party fundraising (“This Town,” Leibovich). With Bill Clinton in office, McAuliffe raised $275 million for him. McAuliffe stated his many business and political ties were “interrelated (Gerth, NY Times, 12/12/09).” He became Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2001, serving until 2005. During that period, the DNC raised $578 million and became debt-free for the first time (LA Times, 6/09/00, Wash. Post, 10/21/05). Before his DNC term ended, McAuliffe gave $5 million to Tim Kaine for his successful Va. gubernatorial race. Kaine became DNC Chair and was elected Senator from Va. in 2012 (Garver, 3/23/05, “American Prospect,” CQ 14 Almanac). McAuliffe served as one of Hillary’s campaign chairmen in her 2008 presidential race and was a 2008 Democratic Convention super-delegate (Baltimore Sun, 3/16/08).
In 2009, McAuliffe ran in the Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia. He came in second to Creigh Deeds, who was clobbered by Republican Bob McDonnell (Barone 14 Almanac). Deeds hesitated to adopt progressive economic and social stands that might turn off rural whites but bring out the Democratic base in a non-presidential election. In 2013, McAuliffe took the opposite tack (Barone 14, R. Brownstein, National Journal, 10/17/13). He gambled that in a non-presidential year, he could get out “the coalition of the ascendant” Democratic base by adopting national Democratic views. McAuliffe endorsed gay marriage, universal background checks for gun purchases, and Obamacare, including free contraceptive coverage. He stood for reversing tight restrictions on abortion clinics, a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, and limits on carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants (Brownstein, National Journal, 10/17/13).
McAuliffe was counting on Va.’s demographic trends, a state Obama carried twice. No Democrat presidential candidate had won Va. since 1964. Socially liberal Northern Virginia, part of the D.C. suburbs, now makes up 33% of that state’s population. It has many tech and government workers. Hampton Roads, a Democratic area, contains at least another 21% of the population, and metropolitan Richmond 16%. The GOP areas, rural Southside Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Southwest’s coal area, have shrunk (Brownstein, Barone 14). Blacks are 19% of the state, Hispanics 8%, and Asians 6%. Northern Va., which accounted for 55% of the 2000-2010 population increase, has large Hispanic and Asian populations. In 2010, Fairfax County was 17% Asian and 16% Hispanic. Fast-growing Loudoun County is 15% Asian and 12% Hispanic (Barone 14).
Under Virginia law, GOP Governor Bob McDonnell could not run for a second term. McAuliffe’s GOP opponent was Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. A third party Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was in the race. Cuccinelli, a former Va. State Senator (2002-2009), won election as Attorney General in the 2009. Cuccinelli is a true-believer social conservative. He has spent his career battling abortion and trying to limit divorce (Hohmann, “Politico,”11/06/13). Cuccinelli opposed abortion for rape, incest, and the mother’s health. His “ultimate goal” is “to make abortion disappear in America and make people want it that way.” He compares his opposition to abortion to the “fight against slavery (Planned Parenthood Action Fund).” Cuccinelli is a Tea Party favorite (LA Times, Halper, 11/05/13). He is anti- gay marriage, and has stated that “homosexuality is against natural law (“Cuccinelli.com,” Wash. Post, 6/29/03).” He opposes gun control and received the backing of the National Rifle Association. In the State Senate, Cuccinelli sponsored a 2009 resolution urging Congress to amend the Constitution to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. In a radio interview, he equated immigration policy with “rat control (NY Times, J. Preston, 11/06/13).” Cuccinelli is best known for his opposition to Obamacare. He was one of the key state attorneys general filing lawsuits to challenge Obamacare’s constitutionality. Cuccinelli unsuccessfully tried to leapfrog directly to the Supreme Court before all the federal appeals courts had ruled on Obamacare. Cuccinelli and Company ultimately lost in the High Court (M. Coyle, “The Roberts Court,” 2013).
Cuccinelli’s right wing record gave McAuliffe the opportunity to hammer him non-stop about his being out of Virginia’s mainstream. McAuliffe ran a disciplined campaign pushing job creation. His numerous ads pounded Cuccinelli with being anti-abortion, anti-contraception, and for being only one of three attorneys general in the nation to oppose the Violence Against Women Act (T. Gabriel, NY Times, 11/05/13). Sixty-three percent of Va. voters believe abortion should remain legal in at least some or all cases (Planned Parenthood Action Fund). McAuliffe raised more than $35 million, nearly double Cuccinelli (Wash. Post, B. Pershing, Wash. Post, 11/06/13). Although Cuccinelli was the early favorite, many business-oriented GOPers, including the mayor of Va. Beach, the state’s largest city, endorsed McAuliffe. Cuccinelli’s stances against abortion, gays, and climate science rattled them (Gabriel, NY Times, CQ 14).
Pundits were “shocked, shocked,” that McAuliffe only won by 2.5%. The final polling averages had him ahead by an average of 7 and the Wash. Post Poll had him up by 12 (Wash. Post, “The Fix,” Craighill & Clement, 11/06/2013). “Conventional wisdom” attributed his narrow win to the techno-botched roll-out of the Obamacare federal website. As the race ended, Cuccinelli emphasized his hostility to Obamacare (See Hohmann, “Politico,” 11/06/13). Most pollsters had been “carried away” by the temporary pro-McAuliffe “bump” that occurred during the GOP/Tea Party shutdown which ended in mid-October. Many GOPers backing third-party candidate Sarvis also “came home” after appearances by GOP/ Tea Party icons Ted Cruz and Ron Paul (See Gabriel, NY Times).
McAuliffe’s financial edge enabled him to hire the Blue Labs firm. Blue Labs was a group of about 20 people who were veterans of Obama’s 2012 analytics operation. They figured out, with mathematical accuracy and extensive data research, the percentages McAuliffe needed of women, Hispanics, African Americans, and others to win on 11/05/2013. They had McAuliffe advertise starting in the summer on shows such as “Judge Judy” and “Dr. Oz.” to get out women. They made sure Bill Clinton campaigned to pull a strong African American turnout (See Pershing, Wash. Post, Gabriel, NY Times). McAuliffe’s group achieved strong Hispanic turn out by running ads attacking Cuccinelli for his “rat control” immigration remarks(Preston, NY Times, 11/05/13). In 2013, as in 2012, 20% of Va. African Americans voted and 4% of Latinos did, just a 1% drop-off from 2012 (CNN & Fox Exit Polls).These numbers put McAuliffe over the top. And despite the GOP and general “spin,” Obmacare was not a chain around McAuliffe’s neck that nearly defeated him. After the election, McAuliffe’s Democratic pollster Geoff Garin told reporters that their final 10/31/2013 internal poll had McAuliffe up on Cuccinelli by 3% (45%-42% with 5% for Sarvis). The Blue Labs firm had modeled this contest as a 2-point race. This lead remained a stable 2%-4% from mid-summer on, except for a big McAuliffe bump during the shutdown. There was no last minute tightening of the race. Garin noted that Cuccinelli’s bragging about being the first attorney general to sue over Obamacare made voters polled less likely to support him. The structure of the Va. electorate would have always made this race close (Ward, Huffington Post, 11/06/13, @geoffgarin, G. Sargent, “The Plum Line,” Wash. Post, 11/06/13). In 2012, Obama won Va. by just 4% (CQ 14, Barone14).
What are Virginia’s lessons for the 2014 midterm and beyond? Obamacare techno glitches must be fixed ASAP. Millions must be enrolled to get better healthcare. However, Democratic turnout, especially its “coalition of the ascendant,” trumps all. McAuliffe’s Va. win was way too close because groups other than blacks and Hispanics, especially women, liberals, and the 18-29 set, decreased their turnout from 2012 by 4-6 points (See Fox & CNN Exit Polls, kos, 11/06/13). In order for Democrats to take back the House, keep the Senate, and gain governorships, the “coalition of the ascendant” must live up to its name. It can’t become the “coalition of the descending or the disappearing.”
Dan Benishek—A GOP Congressman Whose Time Has Come to Go April 11, 2013
If anyone believes that the effects of the GOP-triggered $85 billion job sequester cuts are unrelated to the anemic employment report for March, 2013, they are living on Newt Gingrich’s “moon colony.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in March, 2013, only 88,000 jobs were added, the lowest monthly gain since June, 2012. The January and February, 2013 BLS reports gave us a total of 416,000 jobs (148,000 in 1/2013 and 268,000 in 2/2/013). The Tea Party/GOP sequester began on 3/01/2013. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the sequester continues to the end of the fiscal year, 9/30/2013, Americans could lose 750,000 jobs. Other economists put sequester losses at 300,000. Split the difference and the economy loses the equivalent of two to three months in job growth. With the current sequester, employers will be reluctant to hire workers (CNN Money, 4/05/13, Kos Labor, Meteor Blades, 4/05/13, Spangler, Detroit Free Press, 2/28/13). The GOP could care less. If Obama does not have robust job growth, Republicans believe they can increase their midterm 2014 House gains and retake the Senate.
The GOP remains chock full of pro-sequester middle class job cutters. Look at Michigan’s GOP congressional delegation. Besides 3rd District Congressman, Justin “wacko bird” Amash, there is Dan Benishek. Who is Benishek?
Second-term GOP Congressman Dan Benishek (60) represents Michigan’s 1st Congressional District (CD). The 1st geographically takes in almost half of Michigan. The 1st CD includes Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula (U.P.), which borders Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, as well as the northern region of that state’s Lower Peninsula. The Wolverine 1st contains U.P. Marquette, Mackinac, and Chippewa Counties. Add Dickinson, Menominee, and Iron Counties to this list. The Lower Peninsula part of the 1st consists of counties bordering Lake Huron on the east and Lake Michigan on the west (Mich. Redistricting Map).
Nearly half the people in the 1st CD live in the U.P. and nickname themselves “Yoopers.” The 1st ‘s largest cities are “Yooper” Marquette (pop. 21,355) and “Soo,” or Sault Ste. Marie (pop. 14,144). Tourism and logging are economic mainstays in the 90% forested U.P. Because of its geographic isolation, “Yoopers,” are laptop junkies. The federal government’s 2010 decision to spend $100 million in stimulus funds to expand broadband access in the U.P. was local headline news. Starting in the 19th Century, the U.P.’s mineral veins produced over 14 billion tons of iron ore. Although the Mackinac Bridge connects the U.P. to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, many “Yoopers” culturally identify with Canada and Wisconsin. Auto manufacturing is big in the 1st CD. Tourism is strong in the 1st CD’s Lower Peninsula, especially on the Lake Michigan side. Affluent Chicagoans have long summered in resorts around the cities of Petoskey and Charlevoix (CQ 12 Almanac, Barone 12 Almanac).
Irish, Italians, Germans, Finns, and Slavs have come to the Wolverine 1st to work in the mines. Historically, the 1st ‘s U.P. area has been Democratic with a labor union heritage. However, many of these Catholic U.P. immigrants and their descendants are anti-abortion, fear environmental regulations, and are hostile to gun control. These are GOP issues. The Lake Michigan shore of the Lower Peninsula is fast- growing and becoming heavily GOP. The eastern part of the Lower Peninsula is expanding more slowly and is politically marginal. The 2012 updated Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index (PVI) gave the 1st CD an R+4 rating, a +1 GOP increase from its previous score (Barone 12). In 2008, Obama defeated McCain here 51%-49% (Cook Report, 113th Cong.) In 2012, Romney bested Obama 53%-45% (mlive.com/politiccs/index.ssf/2012/11/2012).
GOP “Yooper” Congressman Dan Benishek is an Iron River native and Crystal Falls resident. His grandparents were Czech and Polish immigrants. When Benishek was 5, his father was killed working in Iron County’s mines. Benishek was raised by his mother and extended family. Until he went to college, he worked in the family business, the Iron River Hotel (CQ 12, Barone 12, rootsweb.ancestry.com, L. Hoffman, 3/16/10, ironmountaindailynews.com). A 1974 University of Michigan graduate, Benishek obtained a medical degree in 1978 from Wayne State University. He practiced general surgery in the U.P. Dickinson County Healthcare System (CQ12, Hoffman, ironmountaindailynews.com).
Before his congressional win, Benishek never held elective office. He stated he decided to run for congress after the 2/2009 passage of Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill. Benishek “just couldn’t believe they would spend nearly a trillion dollars without reading the legislation. This just put me over the top (CQ12).” The 1st CD Dem. Cong. Bart Stupak voted for that legislation (CQ 10). Stupak also voted for Obama’s health care reform. Catholic Stupak voted for this bill only after he put language in it prohibiting federal money from being used for abortions (Politics, Wash. Post Gov., Bart Stupak). In the first 48 hours after Stupak’s “yea” vote, Benishek received over $50,000 in unsolicited donations. Benishek promised “to use this momentum to repeal the health care law and help the GOP take over the House.” After Stupak’s health vote, the right wing “American Spectator” called Benishek, “The Most Popular Republican in America.” On 4/09/2010, 9-term Stupak announced he would not run again. Benishek won the GOP primary. In the 11/2010 Tea Party “wave election” that gave the GOP control of the House, Benishek, handily defeated his Democratic opponent State Rep. Gary McDowell by 11 points, 51.9%-40.9% (CQ 12, CNN, 4/09/10, R. McCain, American Spectator, 3/21/10, uppermichiganssource.com).
Catholic Benishek and Stupak share a Slavic ethnic heritage. However, there the similarities end. Unlike Stupak, Benishek votes as if he represents a “lobster Red” southern district, not a northern swing area. He is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee (CQ12). As he promised, Benishek repeatedly voted to repeal the health care reform act. He voted three times for the “Kill Medicare”/anti- middle class Paul Ryan budget plan that died in the Democratic Senate. Benishek voted for the economically disastrous budget balancing amendment which failed to pass the House (Wash. Post, U.S. Congress Votes Database). While no friend of the struggling middle class or Medicare, Benishek goes all out for big oil companies. Benishek stated, “there are no government subsidies for oil.” He then went on to vote several times to protect oil subsidies and to keep their $4 billion tax breaks. Benishek believes “oil companies pay their fair share (Petoskey News, 8/24/11, CNN, 4/26/11, detroitnews.com, 4/12/12, Cong. Record, H1426, “The Hill,” 5/4/11).” While Benishek stood for saving oil breaks, he voted to cut funds for education (S 627, Vote #676, 7/29/11, Cong. Record, H5764, 7/29/11). Benishek took $59,100 from oil and gas contributions (OpenSecrets.org).
Benishek dismisses scientific opinion on climate change, calling it “all baloney (Wash. Post, 7/23/12, Eilperin).” In 2010, anti-environmental right wing Koch Industries funded him to the tune of $5,000 (OpenSecrets.org). From 2011-2012, Koch was one of Benishek’s Top 20 contributors, kicking in $10,000 (OpenSecrets.org).
Benishek considers himself fiscally and socially conservative. He is pro-life and pro-gun rights. Do not expect the 12/14/2012 Newtown, Ct. massacre to change his gun control views (thecypresstimes.com). Based on his conservative philosophy, Benishek is for low taxes and for slashing the federal budget (See CQ Roll Call, Guide to 112th Cong.). His health care “solution” consists of tort reform and allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines with no federal regulations (Benishek Official website-Issues). Translation, bar plaintiff’s lawyers from helping the injured and keep greedy insurance companies running health care.
Cong. Benishek was one of 67 GOPers who voted against aid for eastern state Hurricane Sandy victims unless more programs were axed from the federal budget. He was one of 37 hypocritical GOPers who had previously voted for disaster aid when their own constituents were affected. While ignoring Sandy victims, Benishek endorsed emergency crop relief assistance after spring freezes in his district (1/07/13, osh Israel, “Think Progress”). Before backing Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election, “Common sense guy” Benishek endorsed zany Herman Cain in the 2012 GOP primary (Mak, “Politico,”11/05/11, 1/20/12, mittromney.com/news/press, Roll Call, Guide to 112th Congress). Benishek has stood behind the GOP’s sequester plan because he will not raise taxes on the superrich to balance the budget, just push for middle class cuts. Democrats are targeting him with phone calls for triggering the sequester (Spangler, Detroit Free Press, 2/28/13).
In 2012, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aimed to defeat Benishek. The NY Times called the 1st a “Tossup.” Gary McDowell, with strong labor backing, faced Benishek in a rematch. The DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) gave the 1st, its only targeted Mich. district, extra financial resources. Its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, boosted Benishek (NY Times, “House Race Ratings,”freep.com, 1/18/12, NRCC “Patriot Program 2012,” OpenSecretsblog, M. Martinelli, 10/21/12). Although pre-election polls showed McDowell leading in the 2%-5% range (See PPP, 9/12 Poll, Detroit Free Press, 5/2012), Benishek defeated McDowell by .5 of a point, 48.1%-47.6% (Mich. Sec. of State 2012 “Official Election Results”).
Although anti-Tea Party sentiment and Benishek’s voting for Ryan’s anti-Medicare budget made this race close, Benishek, with a slight campaign fundraising edge (OpenSecretsblog, Martinelli, 10/21/12), still won. The third party libertarian took 3.1% of the votes that could have gone for Benishek. A Green Party candidate hurt McDowell by snagging 1.2% of the total (Mich. 2012 “Gen. Election Results”). McDowell has not announced whether he will run again. Many Democrats and pundits believe that after McDowell’s two losses, another candidate should run. Mich. Dem. Chair Mark Brewer and others are talking to several people who may be interested (A. Blake, “The Fix,” Wash. Post, J. Pepin,miningjournal.net, 2/03/13).
The Wolverine 1st remains on top of every Democrat’s “flip-to-Blue” list. This CD is one of the 17 seats Democrats hope to grab to recapture the House. In 2014, Obama will not be on the ballot. However, there will be a hot Mich. Senate race to replace Dem. Carl Levin. Unpopular GOP Gov. Rick Snyder will be running for re-election. In the swing 1st, Democrats and moderates must come out in droves to support the “Blue” nominee. Extremist Benishek must go.
Heavyweight Andrew Romanoff—He’s in the Race to Defeat Congressman Mike “Tea Party” Coffman February 8, 2013
In the reality-based political world, mathematics and candidate recruitment rule. Let’s do some 2nd grade arithmetic. In Campaign 2012, the Democrats needed a net gain of 25 seats to recapture the House. They gained 8. How many more seats are needed for Nancy Pelosi to get the gavel in 2014? If you answered, “17,” give yourself an “A.” According to DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) Chair Steve Israel, about 30-48 GOP seats remain in play (“The Hill,” Jaffe, 1/17/13). Candidate recruitment comes next. You can’t beat GOP incumbents with unknown Democrats. The strongest best -known Democratic candidates must step up. In 11/2012, extremist GOP Cong. Mike Coffman defeated Democrat Joe Miklosi by just 2 points, 47.8%-45.8% in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District (Col. Sec. of State, “Official 2012 Election Results,”DailyKos11/19/12). Besides having weak name recognition, Miklosi struggled with fund raising (NY Times, 2012 “House Race Ratings”). Miklosi was hurt by having Doran Kaye on his staff. Kaye had a history of arrests for drug-related offenses and was forced to resign (Colorado Peak Politics, 8/17/12). Democrat Andrew Romanoff, who many felt would be the strongest candidate, declined to run. In the 2014 midterm, Romanoff will oppose GOPer Coffman (Denver Post). Let’s take a close look at the Colorado 6th , Coffman, and Romanoff.
Third-term GOP Congressman Mike Coffman (57) currently represents Colorado’s 6th swing Congressional District (CD). After redistricting, the Colorado 6th CD went from safe GOP turf with a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+8 to just R+1. While Miklosi was narrowly losing, Obama was defeating Romney 52%-47% (Kos, 11/19/12). The 6th’s redrawn 2012 map includes nearly equal amounts of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The new 6th ‘s Latino population increased from around 9% to 20% (K. Lee, Denver Post, 12/06/11). The remapped 6th contains all of Aurora and some of the south Denver suburbs. Tens of thousands of residents from the GOP Douglas County stronghold went to a neighboring district (CQ 12 Almanac, K. Lee, Denver Post, 12/06/11).
Coffman won his first congressional election in 2008, taking the seat of anti-immigration zealot Tom Tancredo. Tancredo left Congress to launch an unsuccessful GOP presidential bid (Huffington Post, Bendry, 10/14/11, Barone 12, CQ 12). An Army doctor’s son, Coffman served in the Army and Marines. He received his undergraduate degree from the Univ. of Colorado and started some Denver area property firms. After winning several terms in the Colorado House and Senate, he was elected State Treasurer in 1998. In 2005, he resigned to go to Iraq for six months (CQ & Barone 12).
In 2006, Coffman won the office of Col. Sec. of State by touting his experience working on Iraqi elections. Shortly before the 11/2008 election, Coffman purged thousands of state voters from the rolls and was sued by a national voting rights group. A federal judge ordered Coffman to reinstate the purged voters before the 2008 contest and stop removing additional names (CQ & Barone 12). Despite these voter suppression stunts, Coffman clobbered his Democratic opponent in the then ultra-“Red” 6th (CQ 12).
Coffman was a quieter Tancredo. He looked “moderate” by not yelling as loudly before every microphone (M. Roberts, blogs.westword , 5/18/12). Coffman’s record is something else. He repeatedly called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” In 2010, he supported Col.’s “personhood” amendment, a radical anti-abortion policy that defines humans as people from the moment of conception. This amendment went down by a 3:1 margin in Col.’s 2008 and 2010 elections. Coffman voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Col.’s anti-abortion groups view him as “Pro-Life, with no exceptions.” Coffman believes the regressive flat tax has “tremendous value.” He supported Rick Perry for President and Cong. “kill Medicare Paul Ryan” for VP even before Romney picked him (Huffington Post, Saltzman, 5/8/12, Huffington Post, 11/08/11, Bassett, Col. Right to Life website). Coffman voted for Ryan’s anti-middle class budget (Wash. Post, U.S. Cong. Votes Database).
In the 111th Congress, headed by Dem. Pelosi, Coffman fell in line with the House GOP 95% of the time. In Republican Boehner’s 112th Congress, Coffman had a 91% GOP voting record. In the new 113th GOP House, Coffman has voted with his party 94% of the time. Ideologue Coffman voted against the fiscal cliff agreement and suspending the debt ceiling until May, contrary to most of his fellow GOPers (CQ & Barone 12, Cong. Votes Database). Coffman is a member of Michele Bachmann’s extremist Tea Party Caucus and the Republican Study Committee, the most conservative bloc and dominant force in the House GOP (CQ12). He voted against health care reform and for its repeal. He was against the 2009 stimulus. Coffman was a “Nay” for energy reform and Wall Street regulation. Like anti-immigrant Tancredo, Coffman opposed Obama’s Dream Act. Parts of this act were put into force by an Obama executive order. The Dream Act is included in the Senate’s present immigration deal. The Dream Act would give legal status to some children of illegal immigrants who lived here most of their lives and are law abiding. The House is presently considering immigration legislation (CQ & Barone 12, LA Times, B. Bennett, 2/06/13 ).
“Moderate” Coffman dabbled in “birtherism,” the loony notion that President Obama was not born in the U.S. At a private Elbert County 5/12/12 fundraiser that was recorded, Coffman declared, “he didn’t know whether Obama was born in the U.S.” He went on to say that “in his heart he’s (Obama ) just not an American (K. Lee, Denver Post, 5/18/12).” When these comments went viral, Coffman stated he “misspoke.” However, he still absurdly attacked Obama for not believing in “American Exceptionalism.” Despite these rantings, the national GOP financially aided Coffman in 2012 with its “Patriot Program,” to help retain and increase its majority.
Contrast Coffman with Progressive Democrat Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff (46), the son of a judge and social worker, had grandparents who brought medical supplies to Africa under Project Hope. Romanoff took an early interest in civil rights. He worked to combat the KKK and neo-Nazi hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Romanoff took his bachelor’s degree at Yale and taught English in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He earned a law degree from the University of Denver. Aurora resident Romanoff practiced and taught law. He worked for Dem. Gov. Roy Romer. He was a member of Colorado’s Common Cause and mentored at-risk students through Denver Kids. Romanoff was elected three times to the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000-2008. He was House Minority Leader and then became the first Democrat to hold the Speaker’s post since 1975 (L. Bartels, Wash. Post, 9/17/09, denverpost.com).
Romanoff was the main author of Referendum C, passed by Coloradans in 2005. This measure allowed Colorado to use rising tax revenues to restore state funding for elementary and higher education, health care, and transportation. Under the previously passed Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) such funding was prohibited (Bell Policy Center). Romanoff, working with State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, sponsored the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Act, the largest investment in Colorado school construction. The BEST Act emphasized rural school repair. Unlike Coffman, Romanoff has always been a supporter of creating energy renewable sources, reducing fossil fuel usage, and establishing more green jobs.
Romanoff is proud of his Jewish identity. He was a Wexner Fellow, a program designed to educate young Jewish leaders in their faith. He is a strong Israel supporter and wants to isolate nuclear-obsessed Iran (Kampeas, JTA, 7/27/10, Colson, Aspen Times, 8/08/08).
In 2010, Romanoff unsuccessfully challenged Michael Bennet in the Dem. Senate primary (Barone 12). After his loss, Romanoff took a position as senior advisor with International Development Enterprises (IDE). IDE is a Colorado-based non-profit organization that works in developing countries to create income opportunities and provide low cost water access for rural households (Booth, Denver Post, 10/06/10).
In entering the 2014 House race, Romanoff stated, “If we want to get anything done, we need a Congress that’s capable of constructive action and that’s not the Congress we have (Denver Post).” The Denver Post aptly described Romanoff as “one of Colorado’s most successful legislators.” State Rep. Rhonda Fields called Romanoff “exactly the leader we need to represent us in Congress.” Colorado Democratic Chair, Rick Palacio, called Romanoff “a great leader and great Speaker.” However, before he can take on Coffman, Romanoff may have to face former Dem. State Representative Karen Middleton, current State Senator Linda Newell, or others in a primary. Middleton and Newell would also be “wonderful” members of Congress, according to Palacio.
Unlike Romanoff, who has name recognition because of his 2010 Senate primary race and state Speakership, Newell and Middleton, like Miklosi, are fairly unknown. Romanoff, with a network of grass roots progressive supporters, would better be able to fundraise (CQ, Roll Call, 2/02/13). Romanoff or any Democratic nominee will need all the money they can get against Coffman. Coffman clobbered Miklosi financially with GOP help and with his own campaign finance outfit, the Starboard Group. Campaign & Elections, the nation’s leading trade journal for political consultants, recognized Starboard as one of four finalists for the Best Fundraising Program (Denver Post). Romanoff will not take any money from PACs, political action committees or special interest groups, just individuals. Coffman has no such inhibitions. PACs made up about 30% of Coffman’s contributions in the 2011-2012 election cycle (Open Secrets.org).
In 2014, Romanoff is also running without Obama on the ballot. Too many Democrats don’t come out in midterm elections, something we must change. In order to win, Romanoff must be well financed in the primary and general election. He must get Democrats to turn out in droves in 11/2014. Taking back the House will be won in the trenches in district by district contests. Colorado’s 6th CD will be one of Campaign 2014’s major battlegrounds.