Republican Illinois Governor Rauner to seek reelection

What is it with Republican governors seeking reelection and Harley’s?  First it’s Walker in Wisconsin and now Rauner in Illinois riding their hogs in campaign announcement ads. Manly men doing manly things.

As expected Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday that he will seek a second term.

His campaign released a two-minute-plus video in which a Harley-Davidson riding Rauner criticizes his chief political nemesis, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. Rauner positions his re-election bid to voters as a choice: Either “throw in the towel, walk away and leave our future to the same corrupt career politicians, or we can fight.”

Rauner looks hard at the camera and says “I choose to fight,” as he sports his super cool dad-inspired motorcycle riding stuff.

Reelection won’t be easy, though, as the Chicago Trib notes:

Rauner makes his formal re-election declaration amid contentious times for the GOP in Illinois. The former private equity investor used his personal wealth to rebuild the party into a formidable campaign extension. But a series of controversial bill signings, capped by last month’s approval of a bill to expand taxpayer-subsidized abortions to women covered by Medicaid and state employee health insurance, have left Rauner searching for a base of support as social conservatives look for someone to challenge him.

Cook Political Report, Governing, Larry Sabato, and Decision Desk call it a toss-up. Rothenberg says lean Democratic.

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Sen. Sanders to run for reelection to the Senate as an Independent

I go on about this a lot because it annoys me. The Hill reported today that “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has confirmed that he will run for reelection in the Senate as an independent in 2018, despite recent pressure from some Democrats to join the party.”

“I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do,” Sanders told Fox News.

[…]

“I’ve been an independent since the early 90s. I was a governor as an independent,” King told CNN. “That’s who I am.”

That’s great, Bernie. You gotta be you and all that, but how come you morph into a Democrat when it suits your needs? I guess you gotta be you unless you gotta be something other than you.

Political parties are important for a reason. You could look it up.

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Campaign News

New York Times: A Presidential bellwether is still waiting to start winning under Trump

Los Angeles Times: This is what Steve Bannon told the California Republican Party convention

Washington Post: Will Virginia be a national referendum?

The Hill: GOP Senate hopefuls reluctant to back McConnell

Roll Call: Paul Perry drops out of primary in Pennsylvania race

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Key House Republicans are being out-fundraised

Speaker Pelosi?

Josh Kraushaar at the National Journal writes today that House Republicans are worried their most vulnerable members aren’t doing enough to raise the money they will need to fend off Democratic challengers in the 2018 midterms – particular in those media markets like New York City, LA, and Houston that require a lot of cash.

Of the 53 House Republicans facing competitive races, according to Cook Political Report ratings, a whopping 21 have been outraised by at least one Democratic opponent in the just-completed fundraising quarter. That’s a stunningly high number this early in the cycle, one that illustrates just how favorable the political environment is for House Democrats.

One of the more interesting observations in the Kraushaar piece is that “weak fundraising totals in the year before an election often suggest that members are thinking about heading for the exits.”  As one senior GOP House strategist said, “if Congress can’t pass tax reform into law, a wave of retirements will soon follow.”

We can tiptoe around it, but many a sitting politician who thinks they are about to lose their bid for reelection frequently decide it’s time to announce they want to spend more time with their family and will be taking a lucrative lobbying job in D.C. in the near future.

Is it possible donors will get excited if some of Trump’s agenda begins to make its way through? Maybe. Is that likely to happen? Who knows? And with Trump’s approval rating still somewhere in the 30s, and with governing parties typically doing less well in the midterms, the calculation on the part of many GOP incumbents may be to avoid the grinding fundraising circuit if they are not certain they are up for another campaign with a more than dicey outcome.

I’m not yet sure we can smell a wave election for Democrats in 2018 just yet, but Republicans in the House seem to be smelling something.

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American Music: “Night Rider’s Lament” – Nanci Griffith

Not many songs have their own website, but this one does. Lyrics and music of this classic are by Michael Burton. This cover by Nanci Griffith is one of my favourites. And there’s yodelling too.

It’s been done by Garth Brooks, Jerry Jeff Walker, and many others. I believe it was written in the mid-70s.

You can find words and music in the key of D here.

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Campaign News

Washington Times: Club for Growth releases first ads in the tax reform debate

Los Angeles Times: Steve Bannon’s speech to the California GOP tonight has some Republicans nervous

Washington Post: Ex-CIA officers running for Congress as Democrats

NBC News: Trump offers support to three GOP Senators expected to be challenged

Politico: ‘Our democracy is at stake,’ Obama says on Virginia campaign trail

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Democrat Phil Murphy sailing to victory in New Jersey gubernatorial

Thanks in great part to the ever-unpopular current Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, Democratics are widely expected to win the upcoming gubernatorial election with candidate Phil Murphy.

If you’d like to see some polling to that effect, Fairleigh Dickenson University released a survey earlier in the week that should calm the nerves of the more empirically minded.

If the gubernatorial election were held today, Democrat Phil Murphy would beat Republican Kim Guadagno by 15 points, at least among those who have made up their minds in the race to replace Governor Chris Christie. The most recent statewide survey of likely voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds Murphy with the support of 47 percent of the voters. The two-term lieutenant governor has some distance to cover if she is to become New Jersey’s second female governor, as significantly fewer voters (32%) intend to vote for her. Five percent say they like someone else, and 13 percent remain undecided.

Virginia’s governor’s race may be somewhat less predictable, but this one isn’t. Election Day is November 7th.

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Impeach Trump: We would if we could

Gazillionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer has a new ad out, and petition, imploring someone, anyone, to impeach Trump. Does anyone doubt there is the will on the part of Democratic legislators, if only there was a way? On to the midterms, Mr. Steyer, where your money might do some good.

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This Day in America: October 19, 1781 – Cornwallis surrenders to Washington at Yorktown

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker likely running again

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is probably running for a third term, and he rides a Harley. He also likes to ride his Harley in political ads. Such a cool dad.

State Democratic Party spokeswoman Melanie Conklin said Walker, a famous tax-cutter, could have made his video motorcycle ride more realistic. “An accurate video would show him being jostled around on Wisconsin’s crumbling roads that are the fourth worst in the nation,” she said.

As for Walker’s chances for re-election, and why Walker should be considered the favourite, Jennifer E. Duffy at the Cook Political Report wrote this last June:

Walker is running for a third term, which is a difficult proposition for an incumbent of either party. That said, Walker has demonstrated tremendous staying power through two general elections and a recall, and is known for running very solid campaigns. Wisconsin is a swing state, but Democrats will need a very strong challenger to make this a Toss Up race.

That said, guessing election outcomes has made fools of a lot of us.

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This Day in America: October 18, 1867 – The U.S. takes possession of Alaska

The signing of the Alaska Treaty of Cessation on March 30, 1867. L-R: Robert S. Chew, William S. Seward, William Hunter, Mr. Bodisco, Eduard de Stoeki, Charles Sumner, and Frederick W. Seward

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Conservative populism and small-donor fundraising

For Democrats seeking encouraging news as we head towards the 2018 midterms, this is not it. According to McClatchy:

The Republican National Committee raised more than $100 million in the first nine months of 2017, marking the first time it has raised that much, that fast, in a non-presidential election year.

The record-breaking fundraising can be largely attributed to a flurry of small-dollar donors responding to fundraising appeals by the first Republican president in eight years, Donald Trump, according to a new report to be released later this week and obtained by McClatchy.

The numbers give Republicans a large cash advantage over Democrats as they look to retain control of both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections next year.

It’s hard to argue with the powerful democratic symbolism of individual Americans busting open their piggy banks to support the party and president of their choice. I dare you. Go ahead and try.

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National Character Counts Week

This is “National Character Counts Week” in the United States and that means a presidential proclamation. I give you, President Donald Trump:

“We celebrate National Character Counts Week because few things are more important than cultivating strong character in all our citizens, especially our young people. The grit and integrity of our people, visible throughout our history, defines the soul of our Nation. This week, we reflect on the character of determination, resolve, and honor that makes us proud to be American. […]

“Character is built slowly. Our actions — often done first out of duty — become habits ingrained in the way we treat others and ourselves. As parents, educators, and civic and church leaders, we must always work to cultivate strength of character in our Nation’s youth.”

So, young citizens of America, don’t grab anyone by the p%#&y, at least not this week. Your president has spoken.

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Campaign News

Kevin de Leon

Roll Call: De Leon to challenge Feinstein in California Senate

The Virginia Pilot: New poll finds Virginia governor’s race tightening

CNNTrump approval steady, but more say he’s leading in the wrong direction

Politico: Gore stumps for Murphy in New Jersey as Guadagno speaks to gun group

Huffington Post: New Orleans to have its first woman mayor

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This Day in Politics: August 2, 1923 – Vice President Calvin Coolidge become U.S. President upon the death of President Warren G. Harding

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Chris Christie – worst governor ever

On a day when a story appeared in papers throughout the country showing Gov. Christie bullying some guy who heckled him at a baseball game, it was sweet to read that a new poll by Marist shows his approval rating at a pathetic 16% among New Jersey residents.   Almost three in four adults in the state, 73 percent, have an an unfavorable opinion of the him with only 20% indicating a favorable impression.

“Following Bridgegate, a failed presidential bid, and the fallout from his holiday beach visit, New Jersey residents have had it with Governor Christie,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “It is unlikely that a sense of nostalgia will kick in during his final months as governor.  The overwhelming proportion of Garden Staters think New Jersey is headed in the wrong direction and think Christie will be remembered as either a below average governor or one of the worst. ”

Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno has the Republican nomination in the governor’s race later in the year and, not surprisingly, she is being dragged down by Christie’s terrible numbers.  A recent poll shows Democrat Phil Murphy at 54%, leading Guadagno who is at 33% among New Jersey registered voters.

I hope she’s grateful for the “help,” and I hope he goes away and soon.

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Campaign News

Marist Post: Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating scrapes bottom… perceived as one of NJ’s worst governors by a plurality

Washington Post: Rep. John Delaney is running for president in 2020

Politico: McConnell wages war down South

Charleston Gazette-Mail: Joe Manchin announces Senate re-election bid

The Hill: Trump drops to new low in Rasmussen poll

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Kid Rock for U.S. Senate – shoot me now

Yes, that Kid Rock for Senate crap is still out there, as the jackass himself has recently said he is “exploring” the idea and planning a press conference sometime in the next six weeks to address the issue.

“I was beyond overwhelmed with the response I received from community leaders, D.C. pundits, and blue-collar folks that are just simply tired of the extreme left and right bull—-,” he writes. “As part of the excitement surrounding this possible campaign, I decided to take a hard look to see if there was real support for me as a candidate and my message or if it was just because it was a fresh new news story.”

America, where any self-promoting douchebag can grow up to run the country. And every reality TV story line has to be taken seriously. Sad.

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Could Sessions reclaim his Senate seat?

I’ll bet a lot of people have been wondering if Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be able to claim his old Senate seat should Trump find a way to get rid of him.

Apparently it could happen if all nine candidates currently running for the GOP nomination for the seat Sessions vacated agree to drop out of the primary contest, which would then enable the Alabama GOP to appoint Sessions as their nominee for the special election.

The filing deadlines was May 17th, so Sessions couldn’t run straight up.

First Sessions has to find himself out of a job in Washington and then a bunch of very ambitious people have to agree to the scheme, a lot of hypotheticals.

As Politico writes, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, one of the Republican candidates apparently in danger of missing a GOP primary runoff, “has offered to drop out of the contest to make way for under-fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reclaim his old seat in Congress’ upper chamber.”

Maybe Brooks doesn’t think he has much of a chance and is trying to play the hero to distinguish himself, but it’s an interesting ploy in the state where Sessions remains very popular.

Recent public polling has placed Brooks, who has been the subject of millions of dollars in attack ads from a super PAC controlled by allies Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in third place heading towards the Aug. 15 runoff. The ads have portrayed him as insufficiently supportive of Trump.

It would seem the other candidates, including frontrunner  Sen. Luther Strange (currently appointed to the seat), are unlikely to go for it should circumstances present themselves, but it may be worth a try. Still, could there be a problem with siding with Sessions against Trump given that Alabamans also love the president?

“I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama,” Brooks writes at the close [of a] statement. “My closest friends and political advisers have told me to not side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so. My response is simple: I don’t care. If this costs me politically, that’s fine but I am going to the right thing for Alabama and America. I stand with Jeff Sessions.”

Oh, it’s not going to happen, but I wouldn’t want to be the Alabama politician who stood in the way of Jeff Sessions getting a consolation prize should Trump screw him over. Ain’t politics weird?

The primary is August 15th. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent, the runoff is September 16th. The general election is December 12th. It’s a safe Republican seat.

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Could VP Pence survive a Trump crash to fight another day?

I’ve been watching the Medici family saga on Netflix recently and have come to the conclusion that the Trump’s and their allies are like a really, really dim-witted version of the famous, and ruthless Italian family.

I had a good chuckle when I heard VP Mike Pence’s statement on Don Jr.’s increasingly provable efforts to collude with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Here is the official statement from Pence’s press secretary:

The vice president is working every day to advance the president’s agenda. He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign – especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign.

It seems we are never quite sure if Pence knew he was lying when he repeatedly said Trump and team had no problematic dealings with the Russians in 2016, or if he was so out of the loop he had no choice but to say what the man at the top expected.

Whatever the case, it may now be the case that he’s tired of explaining himself and has decided to simply say that whatever happened, it wasn’t him.

Steve Benen at MaddowBlog writes that this could be part of Pence’s efforts to “establish his own political identity distinct from that of the president who chose him.”

The New York Timesreported over the weekend, for example, that Pence “has been courting scores of the country’s most influential donors, corporate executives and conservative political leaders over the past several months in a series of private gatherings and one-on-one conversations.”

Isn’t that interesting?

If Trump does crash and burn can Pence survive? I guess it all depends on what he knew and when he knew it and what can be proved. What Benen asks is maybe more to the point in the short term: Are we approaching an every-person-for-themselves phase of the Trump presidency? And, I would add, if not now, when?

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