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Don’t Let the Statehouse Door Hit You on the Way Out

October 27, 2010 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2010

English Gubernatorial Elections 2010 in the Un...
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Amidst the embarras de richesses of House and Senate seat pickups Republicans anticipate this midterm election cycle, one plum reward they shouldn’t forget is their likely aggressive gains in gubernatorial contests across the country.

A record-breaking 37 states are holding governor’s races this November—the same number of seats open in the Senate, which has twice the number of positions as the country has governorships.  Republicans hold 24 out of 50 governorships but will probably have at least 30 after November 2.  RealClearPolitics identifies 9 elections as “Safe GOP” and none as “Safe Dem.”  Republicans beat Democrats in the “Likely” category (5 to 4) and the “Leans” category (7 to 5).

Rasmussen Reports notes, “No states with a Republican governor are considered likely to elect a Democrat in November.  But eight states now headed by Democrats—Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming—are seen as likely GOP pickups.”

The allocation of governorships is important in and of itself, but also has implications for the U.S. House of Representatives, given the role of governors in reapportioning districts for House seats based on the 2010 Census.

GOP prospects aren’t universally rosy.  Forget loose cannon Carl Paladino, who was never going to win blue state New York; or Meg Whitman, a celebri-billionaire like Governor Schwarzenegger who doesn’t fit the profile of what voters are looking for in fickle, atypical California.  But in the rest of the country, the map of governorships is turning blood red.

Massachusetts incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick faces a shockingly close reelection race: the latest Boston Globe poll shows him ahead of Republican Charles Baker only within the statistical margin of error.  Patrick has yet to reach 50% support in the polls—typically the kiss of death for an incumbent.  And all of this is happening in the presence of a third-party candidate, Timothy Cahill, who is drawing more votes from Baker than Patrick.

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel reports that Republican and even Democratic candidates are pledging to emulate the modus operandi of recently elected New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who has stood up to powerful unions, slashed spending, and vetoed tax increases.

Rhode Island Democratic candidate Frank Caprio has tried to improve his chances by (1) rudely distancing himself from President Barack Obama, (2) being more conservative than former Republican/current Independent competitor Lincoln Chafee, and (3) meeting with Republican leaders in Washington over the objections of state Democratic groups.

In order to complete their gubernatorial coup d’état, the GOP will of course have to beat back the 30% of the populace who constitute the terminally, willfully, irredeemably ignorant—what Mark Levin calls the “drones.”

In the close Ohio governor’s race, voters who favor Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland demonstrated their firm grasp of the issues and fine deductive powers in a series of interviews with the Toledo Blade.  Resident Heather Elliott, who favors Strickland, babbled, “I kind of like everything that he stands for.  I think he’s going to do what we need, and I just have a good feeling about him…  A lot of the [Strickland] commercials I have seen, maybe fair or unfair, they have swayed me against him.”  Fair or unfair—it’s all the same when it comes to recruiting potential Democratic voters!  That’s in the Democratic National Committee bylaws.

In one breath, would-be voter Elliott displays: (1) vagueness about her reasons for supporting the Democrat, (2) a propensity to vote for the Democrat on the basis of emotion, and (3) an admission that the Democrat’s negative ads are unfair.  Remind me: why are we always encouraging people who have no idea what they’re doing to vote?

Fellow Ohio resident Gwen Frisby favors Strickland, despite Ohio’s miserable financial condition, because “It’s almost more that I don’t like how the Republicans are acting toward him.”  Yes, and Frisby probably supports Obama’s destructive policies because it’s almost more that she doesn’t like how the Republicans are acting toward him.

Genius independent voter Lillian Edmondson gushes that she will support Patrick in Taxachusettstan because “I think he tries hard.  He comes across as a very nice man…”  California voter Paula Bennett muses that she will favor Jerry Brown over Whitman because “I like the little guy; he didn’t have the money behind him like she did.”

Ideologically speaking, one has to wonder: are governorships a more natural fit for Republicans, and Congressional offices a more natural fit for Democrats?  In modern political times, Republicans have done relatively better capturing and retaining governorships, whereas Democrats have done better in Congress.  Is this because governors have more of what we shall call, oh, “actual responsibilities”?  Without diminishing Congress’s duties, it’s a fact that governors have to balance state budgets, can’t order the Federal Reserve to print more money while they run up infinite balance sheets, and must make tough and unpopular unilateral decisions without hiding in a crowd.

Though voter discontent this year seems focused mostly on Washington—thus Democratic Senators and Representatives’ perilous election prospects—Republican governors’ elevated chances around the country shouldn’t be surprising.  Christie and Bob McDonnell’s upset of their opponents in special elections in New Jersey and Virginia foreshadowed this pattern last November, when Obama had been in office only 10 months instead of 22.  And that was before Congress rammed through ObamaCare.

All across America it seems voters this year will be telling Democratic gubernatorial candidates to take their agenda and shove it.

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Obama Misquoted: “I Looked Fierce on the Cover of The Advocate!”

October 20, 2010 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Gay Rights

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President Barack Obama demonstrated his pro-gay credentials last week by having Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett renounce comments she had made that 15-year-old gay suicide victim Justin Aaberg had been bullied because of a “lifestyle choice” he had made.

Obama backed up Jarrett by announcing at an MTV townhall meeting that being gay is “not a choice,” thus discovering something Ronald Reagan figured out 32 years ago.

The remarks topped off a busy week of fierce advocacy from our Fierce Advocate for gay rights, coming as it did after Obama’s Justice Department filed a fierce brief appealing U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro’s overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and an advocatory brief appealing U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips’ injunction against Pentagon enforcement of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT).

The administration evidently hates DADT so much that it disobeyed Philips’ injunction and upheld the law by allowing a Texas recruiting station to refuse reenlistment to decorated veteran Omar Lopez, who had been ousted after five years of service in the Navy for “homosexual admission.”

Obama has been insisting that DADT “will end on my watch.”  Given his actions over the past year-and-a-half, perhaps what he really means is that when someone—anyone—other than him takes steps to repeal it, he’ll be “sure to watch.”

Meanwhile, evidence for the administration’s ludicrous claim that immediate lifting of the ban will have “enormous consequences” for the military has yet to materialize.

In the midst of all this fierce advocacy, the national gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) won an actual victory last Tuesday, in the form of Phillips’ injunction against DADT, the next step in the resolution of the case LCR had successfully filed opposing the policy.

LCR and fellow gay conservative group GOProud also called out New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino for his lunkheaded complaints to a group of conservative orthodox rabbis in the Bronx that homosexuality was not a “successful or valid” option and that schools shouldn’t “brainwash” students into accepting it.

The effect of denouncements by these and other Republican groups was that Paladino almost entirely walked back his comments within 24 hours of being criticized, concluding with this statement on Tuesday—“I am 100 percent unequivocally pro gay rights, except for one thing: gay marriage”—which, if true, technically puts him on the same place on the political spectrum on gay issues as Obama.  (A report late last week that Paladino had once been the landlord for two popular Buffalo gay clubs, Cobalt and Buddies II, arguably makes him even more fabulous than Obama.)

Paladino remarked, “I’ve been a high supporter of the gay community my entire career and I will continue to be.  The Log Cabin people know that.  The gay community in Buffalo knows that.  They know my nature and they know the way I’ve been.  The real message is getting out.”

As regressive as Paladino is in his personal beliefs, he is indisputably more susceptible to moderation on gay issues than his rival Andrew Cuomo is on taxes, government regulation, and state interference in economic matters.  Did I miss Cuomo’s public statement asserting, “I’ve been a high supporter of the Constitution and limited government my entire career and I will continue to be.  The Tea Party people know that.  The conservatives in Albany know that.  They know my nature and they know the way I’ve been.  The real message is getting out.”

Paladino’s reversal cost him the endorsement of Rabbi Yehuda Levin, leader of the Orthodox Jewish community to whom Paladino originally made his statements on homosexuality, thus negating the effect of his making the comments in the first place.

Anyway, what role will Paladino actually have in gay issues in his (self-declared) one term as governor, except for vetoing gay marriage should it pass (he has stated he will uphold it if decided in a referendum)?  In contrast, is Cuomo as susceptible to withdrawing his support for crippling taxes on high earners, ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, etc., in the 12 terms he’ll serve if voted into office?

Paladino’s lieutenant governor candidate Greg Edwards similarly demonstrated his loathing of gays by attending a Log Cabin political action committee fundraiser at the Soldiers’ Sailors’ Marines’ Coast Guard & Airmen’s Club in Manhattan last Tuesday, the day Paladino apologized for his comments.  The event’s speakers included New York Republican State Committee Chairman Ed Cox and two pro-gay marriage Republican New York State Assembly members, as well as Republican minority leader B. Dean Skelos, who promised to bring gay marriage back up for a vote if the GOP becomes the majority party next year and urged all Republicans to feel free to “vote their conscience.”

In other recent Republicans-are-doing-more-for-gays-than-Obama news, Republican-appointed Republican judge Vaughn Walker overturned the anti-gay marriage referendum Prop 8 in California two months ago.  The lawsuit was filed by the two lawyers who argued Bush v. Gore in 2000, and the effort was spearheaded by one of them (hint: it was the Republican).

The growing list of prominent Republicans who support same-sex marriage now includes: Dick Cheney, Ted Olson, Laura Bush, Glenn Beck, Cindy McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The list of Democrats who oppose gay marriage still includes: Barack Obama.

For 20 months, the Obama administration has been steadily doing everything it can to bolster the case that Democratic politicians are no better on gay issues than Republican politicians.  Last week was merely a banner week for Obama’s demonstration of this fact.

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O’Donnell vs. O’Donnell

September 22, 2010 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2010

O'Donnell Bewitches GOP
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Once upon a time, there was a fantastic Tea Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware who promised to reduce the size and scope of government and adhere to constitutional limits on its power—and, as a bonus, did not tell Bill Maher that when she was in high school some friends had experimented with “witchcraft,” did not express mixed feelings about masturbation 14 years ago on camera, did not default on her mortgage in the middle of the housing crisis, did not misstate the number of counties she won in her prior run for Senate, and did not take more than four years to graduate from college.

Unfortunately that candidate doesn’t exist.  A candidate who was the real Christine O’Donnell’s primary opponent, however, does exist: he voted for the Democrats’ cap-and-trade legislation, bank bailout, and stimulus bill, and has refused to support repeal of ObamaCare; his name is Mike Castle.  O’Donnell’s general election opponent Chris Coons supports all of the above and more, and is also Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s self-described “pet.”

Similarly there’s a candidate for governor of New York named Carl Paladino who has promised to cut state spending by 10% and taxes by 20%, reduce economically crippling state pension obligations, and cut 60,000 positions held by workers deemed incapable of executing their responsibilities.

You may consider Paladino unfit for office, because he had an extramarital affair and also forwarded some e-mails he had received with offensive jokes in them—until you consider his general election opponent Andrew Cuomo, who as President Bill Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary played a key role in the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the financial collapse of 2008.

Then there’s Sharron Angle, who’s running for the Senate in Nevada: she wants to abolish the bankrupt Social Security program, the meddlesome Federal Reserve, the intrusive Internal Revenue Service, the worthless National Department of Education, unconstitutional gun control restrictions, pointless offshore drilling bans, useless global warming regulations, and the U.S.’s embarrassing membership in the United Nations.  But—detractors have accused her of having ties to celebrity Scientologists Kelly Preston and Jenna Elfman!

Angle ran against primary opponent Bob Bennett, one of two cosponsors of the failed 2008 Healthy Americans Act—precursor to ObamaCare—which likewise would have required all Americans to purchase government-approved health care plans.  Angle’s general election opponent Harry Reid was instrumental in getting ObamaCare passed in the Senate.

Let’s not forget Rand Paul, Senate candidate from Kentucky and self-described constitutional conservative, who opposed the free-speech-limiting McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, the wasteful bank and car company bailouts, and ObamaCare.  His great flaw is that he was politically incorrect enough to state that, had he been in Congress 50 years ago, he would have supported only 9 of the 10 Civil Rights Act titles, and would have contested the one prohibiting discrimination in private hiring and lending.  Oh—and he was involved in a college prank 27 years ago!

Paul is running against general election opponent Jack Conway, who supported ObamaCare, favors the union “card check” bill, and is open to cap-and-trade legislation.

How about Joe Miller, who’s running for Senate in Alaska?  He favors reclaiming unspent Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to help cut the deficit, repealing ObamaCare, and enacting a balanced budget amendment.  His Achilles’ heel is that he’s never held elective office before.

On the other hand, Miller’s primary opponent Lisa Murkowski has been in office for nearly a decade, and she opposes repealing ObamaCare and bucked the majority of Republicans to vote for the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

And on and on it goes for the Tea Party candidates: South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley had unproven extramarital affairs, Florida House candidate Daniel Webster supports covenant marriage, Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck was rude to birthers at a Tea Party rally.

Regardless of whether these Tea Party candidates are electable—and most of them are—fair-minded independents who seek outsiders to rein in government but are concerned about some of these mavericks’ personal quirks should focus on the big picture.

As The Intellectual Activist’s Robert Tracinski noted, “If you think a Christine O’Donnell has a lot of personal ‘baggage’ and that her personality makes her unelectable, fine—then send us someone better who stands for the same principles.  But our principles are the one thing we’re not going to bend on.”

Here’s a request for the mainstream media: as soon as we’re allowed to focus on Tea Party candidates’ substantive merits and faults relative to their opponents’, rather than whether they played Dungeons & Dragons 30 years ago, please let us know.

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