US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader

 

 

 

Florida Primary Preview
Polling last week showed Kendrick Meek overtaking Jeff Greene in the Democratic Senate primary and Bill McCollum overtaking Rick Scott in the GOP guberanatorial primary. However, a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows Attorney General Bill McCollum's lead narrowing to 39-35 percent against Rick Scott, a healthcare billionaire. In the Democratic primary for US Senate, Rep. Kendrick Meek appears to have a steady 39-29 percent lead over investment billionaire Jeff Greene, according to the poll of likely primary voters. The Miami Herald has more on these races.

Earlier this year, the New York Times wondered if Marco Rubio might be the first Senator from the Tea Party but now the nation's paper of record finds the right wing Tea Party darling veering off-script. Of course, Rubio has already pivoted towards the general election where he will face Governor Charlie Crist now running as a centrist independent and the winner of the Meek/Greene primary. The Florida Senate race is certainly the nation's most intriguing one.

I'm pretty adamant on this but I think Marco Rubio is the most dangerous candidate running in any race this cycle - one that must be defeated at all costs. That's quite a statement given the likes of Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey and Ken Buck. Why do I think that Rubio must be defeated? Well statements like this one where he is perceived as the next Ronald Reagan.

And frankly, I concur. He's the next Reagan, polished enough to hide his real agenda and articulate enough to sound sane at least say compared to Sarah Palin. Rubio has his feet in several conservative camps. First and foremost, he is Jeb Bush's designated heir giving him an in with the Bush wing and more importantly their money and organizing prowess. Second, he's close to the neocon presidential pardoned felon Elliot Abrams, who like Jeb Bush is a signatory in the Project for the Next American Century. Third, he's got Jim DeMint's backing and the support the red-meat conservative wing of the GOP. While he's a not a social conservative along the likes of Mike Huckabee, he's a good-looking somewhat charismatic Hispanic with the picture perfect family who seemingly lives his values. He's Florida's answer to Wisconsin's Paul Ryan. One of these two will be on GOP ticket before long. Giving Marco Rubio a Senate seat is giving him a launching pad to a presidential bid. I'd just assume beating him here and now. 

The Woes of Chet Culver
Stateline interviewed Iowa Governor who is fighting for his political life trailing Terry Branstad by 16 points in the latest poll. While Culver has Iowa sitting pretty with a balanced budget, cash reserves, low debt, and unemployment below the national average, it's not translating into votes. Here's part of the reason why, an unmotivated base.

Relations between Culver and labor hit a low in 2008, when the governor vetoed a bill that would have expanded collective bargaining rights for public employees. The move so infuriated labor unions that one union lobbyist, when asked what Culver’s biggest misstep as governor has been, asked, “Have you talked to anyone around here?”

Culver has governed as a political centrist in other ways. To balance the budget last year, he and lawmakers relied on an across-the-board spending cut of 10 percent that slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from key areas such as public education and health and human services. While deep budget-slashing has won New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plaudits from national Republicans, it is not typically the way to draw Democrats to the polls in droves, says Mack Shelley, a political science professor at Iowa State University.

Vermont's Democratic Gubernatorial Primary
Susan Bartlett, Matt Dunne, Deb Markowitz, Doug Racine and Peter Shumlin are down to the wire battling for votes ahead of Tuesday's primary in the Green Mountain State. After months of campaigning, no candidate has emerged as the clear favorite. The Burlington Free Press has more on what promises to be a cliffhanger election.

There's more...

Missouri Trending Red

The Show Me State is often hailed as a bellwether of national political trends. If so, the Democrats may be headed for a rough spell. More than 1.8 Republicans went to the polls Tuesday in Missouri for every Democrat. In the 2008 presidential primaries, and the 2002, 2004 and 2006 party primaries, the Democrats outnumbered Republicans at the polls.

Steve Kraske who writes the Prime Buzz column on Missouri politics at the Kansas City Star points to the above chart that tracks the party preference of voters in Missouri primaries from 1944-2010 to demonstrate how Missouri, once a Democratic bastion, has been slowly trending Republican.

The McCain-Palin ticket edged the Obama-Biden ticket by 3,632 votes out of more than 2.9 million cast in the 2008 Presidential election - a margin of 0.12 percentage points - to claim Missouri's eleven electoral votes. In presidential elections since 1956, as Missouri has gone, so has gone the nation. And the 2008 miss was only the second time the Show Me State voted for the loser since 1900. 

After the election, Kevin Smith, a forty year veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns, said “Missouri has lost its status as a bellwether, it has established itself as a red state when it comes to national politics.”

Tuesday's results seem to confirm Mr. Smith's analysis. 

Gay Tea Partiers

Frankly, it would take too long to debunk why a regressive flat structure is not in society's best interest but that is one of the points these two gay Tea Partiers are missing. It's rather disconcerting that so many Americans continue to buy into the creed of libertarian style individualism over the collective good as these two young men do. They do, on the other hand, argue quite eloquently why the government should not be in the business of regulating marriage. Still the suggestion that we should abolish the income tax is hard to phantom. That would lead to a most inegalitarian society that would threaten the very existence of American democracy. 

It is also amazing to me that conservatives think the world around them comes cheap. They love to complain about taxes but they don't seem to realize to that taxes also pay for things like electric lighting and roads.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

The moves have angered some residents because of the choking dust and windshield-cracking stones that gravel roads can kick up, not to mention the jarring "washboard" effect of driving on rutted gravel.

But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular. In June, Stutsman County residents rejected a measure that would have generated more money for roads by increasing property and sales taxes.

"I'd rather my kids drive on a gravel road than stick them with a big tax bill," said Bob Baumann, as he sipped a bottle of Coors Light at the Sportsman's Bar Café and Gas in Spiritwood.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

"A lot of these roads have just deteriorated to the point that they have no other choice than to turn them back to gravel," says Larry Galehouse, director of the National Center for Pavement Preservation at Michigan State University. Still, "we're leaving an awful legacy for future generations."

It was a progressive income tax - the highest tax bracket during the Eisenhower Administration was 91 percent - that built the Interstate Highway System, the largest and most extensive infrastructure ever built, but it is a Reaganite ideology that is undoing the progress we have built so much so that we are forced to turn our asphalt roads back to gravel.

Quick Hits

Some of the other stories and other interesting reads making the rounds today.

Lt. General (ret). James Clapper won Senate approval to become the Director of National Intelligence after Senator John McCain removed his hold on the nomination. Senator McCain placed a hold on the Clapper nomination in order to force the Obama Administration to release a report assessing a controversial spy satellite program. McCain released his hold Tuesday once he got the information he was seeking. The retired three-star Air Force general, whose intelligence career spans two score and six years, will be the fourth Director of National Intelligence in five years. More from the Wall Street Journal.

The Senate sent the nomination of Peter Diamond, one of President Barack Obama's three nominees for the Federal Reserve Board, back to the White House because of objections from at least one lawmaker. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee, said last week that Diamond, while a “skilled economist,” may not be qualified to make decisions on monetary policy.

The Senate took no action yesterday on the other two nominees, including San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen for Vice Chairman and Sarah Bloom Raskin for a Governor slot, leaving them to await confirmation after senators return September 13. That means that if Governor Donald Kohn, whose separate term as Vice Chairman ended in June, departs as planned on September 1, the Fed will work with only four of seven Governors for the indefinite future. More from Bloomberg News.

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic looks at the tightening margins for confirming Supreme Court Justices and wonders if Elena Kagan might be President Obama's last nominee to the Court.

The New York Times profiles US District Court Judge of Vaughan Walker who wrote the landmark decision that overturned Proposition 8 in California. The title Conservative Jurist, With Independent Streak pretty much says it all.

In a related story, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed briefs asking Chief U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker to lift his stay and allow gays and lesbians to marry while the Perry v Schwarzenegger winds its way through the appeal process. More from CNN.

Michael Cooper in the New York Times writes on the extremes to which state and local governments are going in order to balance budgets. Clayton County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders. Colorado Springs switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters while Hawaii closed its schools on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

The FDIC seized the assets of Ravenswood Bank, a bank in Illinois. Ravenswood Bank is the 109th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the thirteenth in Illinois. The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $68.1 million. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008 while 140 banks failed in 2009.

David Weigel, now working for Slate, writes in the Washington Post on the five myths of the Tea Party.

Mark Hurd, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was forced to resign today in the wake of a disclosure that he had allegedly falsified documents to conceal a relationship with a former contractor. The HP Board of Directors said in a statement that its standards of business conduct were violated. Hurd's "systematic pattern" of submitting falsified financial reports to hide the relationship convinced the board that "it would be impossible for him to be an effective leader moving forward and that he had to step down," HP general counsel Michael Holston said on a conference call Friday with analysts. Hurd will receive a $12.2 million severance payment.

Editorial of the Day
The editorial board of the New York Times castigates the GOP for their xenophobia and fear-mongering for American votes.

Leading Republicans have gotten chilly toward the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the United States. Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl have been suggesting that the country should take a look at it, re-examine it, think it over, hold hearings. They seem worried that maybe we got something wrong nearly 150 years ago, after fighting the Civil War, freeing enslaved Africans and declaring that they and their descendants were not property or partial persons, but free and full Americans.

As statements of core values go, the 14th Amendment is a keeper. It decreed, belatedly, that citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs, wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an American. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it says, “are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

 

Quick Hits

Some of the other stories and other interesting reads making the rounds today.

Lt. General (ret). James Clapper won Senate approval to become the Director of National Intelligence after Senator John McCain removed his hold on the nomination. Senator McCain placed a hold on the Clapper nomination in order to force the Obama Administration to release a report assessing a controversial spy satellite program. McCain released his hold Tuesday once he got the information he was seeking. The retired three-star Air Force general, whose intelligence career spans two score and six years, will be the fourth Director of National Intelligence in five years. More from the Wall Street Journal.

The Senate sent the nomination of Peter Diamond, one of President Barack Obama's three nominees for the Federal Reserve Board, back to the White House because of objections from at least one lawmaker. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee, said last week that Diamond, while a “skilled economist,” may not be qualified to make decisions on monetary policy.

The Senate took no action yesterday on the other two nominees, including San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen for Vice Chairman and Sarah Bloom Raskin for a Governor slot, leaving them to await confirmation after senators return September 13. That means that if Governor Donald Kohn, whose separate term as Vice Chairman ended in June, departs as planned on September 1, the Fed will work with only four of seven Governors for the indefinite future. More from Bloomberg News.

Jonathan Chait of the New Republic looks at the tightening margins for confirming Supreme Court Justices and wonders if Elena Kagan might be President Obama's last nominee to the Court.

The New York Times profiles US District Court Judge of Vaughan Walker who wrote the landmark decision that overturned Proposition 8 in California. The title Conservative Jurist, With Independent Streak pretty much says it all.

In a related story, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown filed briefs asking Chief U.S District Judge Vaughn Walker to lift his stay and allow gays and lesbians to marry while the Perry v Schwarzenegger winds its way through the appeal process. More from CNN.

Michael Cooper in the New York Times writes on the extremes to which state and local governments are going in order to balance budgets. Clayton County, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders. Colorado Springs switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters while Hawaii closed its schools on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

The FDIC seized the assets of Ravenswood Bank, a bank in Illinois. Ravenswood Bank is the 109th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the thirteenth in Illinois. The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $68.1 million. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008 while 140 banks failed in 2009.

David Weigel, now working for Slate, writes in the Washington Post on the five myths of the Tea Party.

Mark Hurd, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was forced to resign today in the wake of a disclosure that he had allegedly falsified documents to conceal a relationship with a former contractor. The HP Board of Directors said in a statement that its standards of business conduct were violated. Hurd's "systematic pattern" of submitting falsified financial reports to hide the relationship convinced the board that "it would be impossible for him to be an effective leader moving forward and that he had to step down," HP general counsel Michael Holston said on a conference call Friday with analysts. Hurd will receive a $12.2 million severance payment.

Editorial of the Day
The editorial board of the New York Times castigates the GOP for their xenophobia and fear-mongering for American votes.

Leading Republicans have gotten chilly toward the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the United States. Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl have been suggesting that the country should take a look at it, re-examine it, think it over, hold hearings. They seem worried that maybe we got something wrong nearly 150 years ago, after fighting the Civil War, freeing enslaved Africans and declaring that they and their descendants were not property or partial persons, but free and full Americans.

As statements of core values go, the 14th Amendment is a keeper. It decreed, belatedly, that citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs, wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an American. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it says, “are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads