A Commendation to Three Brave Republicans

Election season is coming up, and as if by magic little shoots of controversy are sprouting throughout the political landscape. One avenue of controversy has been with regards to the Fourteenth Amendment. Republican leaders, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, have incited a controversy over what they label “anchor babies.” They propose amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship – ironically, one of the Republican Party’s proudest achievements, and a crucial tool in assimilating American immigrants.

A depressingly high number of Republicans have toed to this party line. For this, those Republicans broken the line – voicing support for keeping the Constitution as it is – deserve commendations.

One such Republican is Congressman Charles Djou. Mr. Djou, who represents a Democratic-leaning district in Hawaii, constitutes one of the few Asian-Americans in Congress. In response to Republican calls to amend the Constitution, Mr. Djou wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed. It argued:

Critics of birthright citizenship cite poll numbers and recent laws passed by European countries limiting citizenship. America is not Europe. Nor should we want to be. Europe has struggled for centuries with assimilating ethnic groups. By contrast, America’s unique melting pot of cultures and ethnicities has successfully assimilated new groups in far less time. This assimilation has made the whole nation stronger.

The 14th Amendment is one of the crowning achievements of the Republican Party. Following the Civil War, the 14th Amendment guaranteed due process for every person under the law and helped to reunite a fractured nation. It pains me to think that we may start tinkering with this fundamental fabric of our union.

Another Republican deserving of some praise is Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Florida’s Senate seat. Like Mr. Djou, Mr. Rubio is the son of immigrants; his parents came from Cuba after Fidel Castro took power.

In many ways Mr. Rubio is a standard conservative Republican. The Florida politician, for instance, is opposed to almost every one of President Barack Obama’s initiatives. Nevertheless, when asked about denying citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, Mr. Rubio stated:

You’re taking energy and focus away from that fundamental debate and spending time on something that quite frankly is not the highest and best use of our political attention. I don’t think that’s where the problem is.

The final Republican politician is not somebody most people would imagine as a moderate: Mike Huckabee. Mr. Huckabee looks, talks, and feels like your typical firebreathing Southern conservative. Yet when asked about his stance on Mr. Graham’s proposal to end birthright citizenship, Mr. Huckabee answered:

…You do not punish a child for something the parent did.

The question is: Is [an undocumented child born outside of the U.S.] better off going to college and becoming a neurosurgeon or a banker or whatever he might become, and becoming a taxpayer, and in the process having to apply for and achieve citizenship, or should we make him pick tomatoes? I think it’s better if he goes to college and becomes a citizen.

All in all, the debate over birthright citizenship is a symbol of the choice facing the Republican Party. There are two roads it can take. One road is the path of Charles Djou, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee. It is a path in which the Republican Party embraces diversity and courts immigrants as a natural constituency due to their socially conservative views.

The other road is the path of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. This is the path of anger, in which Republicans say no – no to immigration, no to change, no to everything. It is a path in which Republicans focus their efforts on appealing to an ever-shrinking and ever-more out-of-touch constituency. It is the path that has led the Republican Party to where it is now: controlling neither part of Congress nor the executive branch.

Which path will the Republican Party choose?

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/



HI-01: Case ends campaign

Via James L. at Swing State Project, former Representative Ed Case has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination in Hawaii's first Congressional district. Republican Charles Djou just won a special election in this D+11 district, because Case and Colleen Hanabusa split the Democratic vote. Case had previously indicated that he would run against Hannabusa in the Democratic primary for this district on September 18. Today Case wrote in an e-mail blast,

"We've taken apart the results and analyzed our options every which way," Case wrote in an email to supporters. "If it all lined up it'd be an easy decision, but it doesn't." [...]

"My heart tells me to stay in this fight, but my head says this has become the wrong fight. So today I'm withdrawing my candidacy for the U. S. House of Representatives from Hawaii's great first district," he wrote.

Most local politicians and several labor unions have endorsed Hanabusa, who is now unlikely to face serious competition in the primary. Case had the covert backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the White House, yet still won fewer votes than Hannabusa in the special election. I doubt another Democrat would see an opportunity to beat her on September 18. I also consider Hanabusa the favorite in November given the partisan lean of this district, but Djou is trying to position himself as a moderate. Last Thursday, Djou was one of only five House Republicans to vote in favor of a Defense Authorization bill amendment that is a step toward repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. On Friday, Djou was one of nine House Republicans to vote for the Defense Authorization bill.

UPDATE: What Swing State said: "The @DCCC needs to add Colleen Hanabusa to Red to Blue immediately. HI-01 is one of our best pickup opportunities."

HI-01: Political malpractice leads to Republican victory

A few quick thoughts on the special election in Hawaii's first Congressional district. Voting ended Saturday evening, and Republican Charles Djou won this D+11 district with 39.4 percent of the vote, because Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case won 30.8 percent and 27.6 percent, respectively.

First, this outcome makes a strong case against the "jungle primary" system for a special election. If some process had been used to select just one Democrat to face Djou, that Democrat would almost certainly have held the seat.

Second, Neil Abercrombie should have declined to run for re-election in 2008 if he was already planning to run for governor this year. We could have elected a new Democrat at that time and avoided this debacle.

Third, the White House and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were wrong to (covertly) get behind Case and try to pressure Hanabusa into dropping out. I don't mind competitive primaries, but this wasn't a primary. Hanabusa got in first and locked up local support. Case, who is too conservative for a D+11 district anyway, got in late and split the vote. The DCCC supposedly had polling that showed Case doing better than Hannabusa against Djou, but she had support from most local activists, Hawaii's two senators, and labor unions.

Republicans are crowing about picking up a House seat in a district Barack Obama won with 70 percent of the vote, but Djou will face only one Democrat in November. Tim Sahd reported for Hotline On Call, "GOPers had hoped Djou would cross the 40% threshold tonight, thus proving he had a path to victory in the fall." It appears that Hanabusa's relatively strong performance in the special gives her the edge going into the September 18 Democratic primary, but that's a long way off.

Some Republicans are claiming that Djou will hold the seat because Hawaii loves to re-elect incumbents, but Djou is only the 12th federal office-holder Hawaii has ever had, and most federal elections have not been competitive.

Final thought: I didn't realize until I checked the Hawaii Office of Elections website on Saturday that ballots and other election materials are available in four languages there. Can you guess which ones before clicking over?

Share any thoughts about the Hawaii race or its implications in this thread.

UPDATE: Nate Silver's take on this special election is worth a read.

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Hawaii election day thread

Conventional wisdom says Senator Arlen Specter needs relatively high turnout today to prevail against his Democratic challenger Joe Sestak, who has gained a lot of support in the last month and has a narrow lead in the polling average. It's been rainy today in the Philadelphia area, which isn't good for turnout, but many people may vote after work if it clears up a little. I learned from Michael McAuliff that there's a large ethnic Slovak population in the Pittsburgh area, which could give an edge to Sestak if turnout is high. I hope Sestak will win, but I don't feel confident about that at all.

Swing State Project previews the other Pennsylvania races here. The special election to fill Jack Murtha's seat in PA-12 will attract the most attention. it's the only House district in the country that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. Jeffmd posted pretty district maps and analysis here.

In Kentucky's Senate race, it looks like the Republican primary will end with a humiliating defeat for the establishment candidate, Trey Grayson. Rand Paul is the very likely winner there. In the Democratic primary, the more progressive and probably more electable Jack Conway has been gaining on Dan Mongiardo in the polls, but it looks too close to call.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln had to fill out a provisional ballot at her polling station, because she had requested an absentee ballot and not returned it. Oops! Unfortunately, she seems to have a comfortable lead over Bill Halter. The main question today is whether she will be kept under 50 percent of the vote, forcing a runoff election. Also unfortunately, Congressman John Boozman, the strongest potential Republican candidate, looks set to win the GOP primary easily.

The special election in Hawaii's first district is just a disaster. Ed Case should not have jumped into this race when most of the locals had already backed Colleen Hannabusa. As a result, those two are going to split the Democratic vote, and Republican Charles Djou will win a plurality. DavidNYC is also right; Neil Abercrombie should not have resigned from this seat, which forced the special election. He should have either held the seat while running for governor or declined to seek re-election in 2008. Let's hope we can win this seat back in November with the Democratic vote united behind one candidate.

Post any comments, predictions or tips on election results sites in this thread.

CORRECTION: Ballots for the Hawaii special election will count if they arrive in the mail by Saturday, May 22.

UPDATE: Conway leads in Kentucky with more than two-thirds of the precincts in, but his strongest areas appear to have reported already. The number crunchers at Swing State Project predict he will win narrowly, but it's too early to know.

UPDATE: Politico is continually updating results here. Conway leads by about 20,000 votes (46 percent to 41 percent) with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting. Rand Paul easily won the Republican primary with nearly 60 percent of the votes that have been counted.

UPDATE: The Kentucky Democratic primary has been called for Jack Conway, who leads by about 5,500 votes. It's been a while since Democrats won a U.S. Senate election in Kentucky, but the Conway/Paul matchup is the most favorable one we could have hoped for.

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary has been called for Joe Sestak, who leads 53 percent to 47 percent (about 44,000 votes) with 74 percent of precincts reporting. Specker didn't get the turnout he needed in Philadelphia.

With about 21 percent of precincts reporting in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter 45 percent to 41 percent. If those numbers hold, the race is headed to a runoff. I have no idea what part of the state has already reported.

UPDATE: Conservative Democrat Mark Critz has beaten Tim Burns in the special election to serve out the remainder of Murtha's term in PA-12. The same two candidates won their parties' respective primaries, so will face off in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be very pleased to have won this one, especially given the likely outcome in HI-01.

MORNING UPDATE: With almost all the votes counted in Arkansas, Lincoln leads Halter by 44.5 percent to 42.5 percent, with D.C. Morrison taking in 13 percent. (Boozman avoided a runoff on the Republican side.) The next three weeks will be tricky for Lincoln to navigate. I also have to wonder whether the president will cut more ads for her or make a campaign visit. Toward the end of the Pennsylvania race Obama didn't do much for Arlen Specter despite earlier promises from the White House.

Critz's margin over Burns was 53 percent to 45 percent in an R+1 district where Obama's approval is only around 33 percent. I have to agree with Matt Lewis, who said last night, "Republicans should be very concerned about the margin of defeat in PA-12. NRCC has major questions to confront." I also think we'll see President Bill Clinton campaigning for Democratic candidates in a lot of rural and/or working-class districts this fall. Stumping for Critz on Sunday, Clinton told the crowd, "Maybe [Burns] should move to California, if he wants to run against Nancy Pelosi."


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