Category Archives: elections

Winners. Losers. 2020.

We’ve done it. We’ve survived Election 2018. And of course there are winners, losers, and implications for 2020. A few, in no particular order.

We the People. Tough call here. On the one hand, we won. We decided that an unconstrained government is not a good thing and we restored at least the potential for a check and balance for the next two years by putting the House of Representatives in the hands of a different party. We also turned out in record numbers for a midterm. Can we keep it up?

On the other hand, we proved once again that we are a deeply divided nation. Moderates lost to partisans. The future for bipartisanship seems as bleak as before. Race remains the greatest dividing issue. Even a geography based solution involving the dismemberment of the nation doesn’t seem practical as the divide is between urban and rural residents, not between states or regions. The election of 2018 was decided in the suburbs. 2020 may be decided there too.

Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. Winners. Pelosi said Democrats would take back the House and they did. She even said so a full week before the election and caused a lot of panic. Now she must show that House Democrats can pass meaningful, constructive, helpful legislation that fills the people’s needs, even if the bills die in the Senate. And to quell the noise from the younger, lefter, more diverse group of Democrats who will be arriving in Washington come January, Pelosi should announce that she plans to retire at the end of her term. She will be 80 years old in 2020 and her retirement, having won the Speakership twice, will both set the stage for the next generation and deprive Donald Trump of his favorite whipping girl as he fights to win reelection. P.S.,  Chuck Schumer, loser. The odds were against him but he still left the Republicans firmly in control of the Senate.

Mitch McConnell and the Republicans. Winners. Yeah, I know, Republicans lost the House. But they added to their control of the Senate and that means two more years of placing conservative right-wing judges on the federal bench. That McConnell-led most important of all goals for the GOP may begin paying dividends within the next few months as the Mueller investigation winds down and the final indictments are returned. Still the Democrats not only flipped 29 House seats, as of this writing, they also gained 7 governor’s mansions and flipped 6 state legislative chambers. These gains will make McConnell’s job in 2020 harder.

Donald Trump. It’s a mixed bag for the man who never wanted to be president. With the House lost to the Democrats, Trump is going to find the rough waters in which he sails even stormier in the next two years. But the election unquestionably solidified Trump’s hold on the Republican Party as moderate Republicans, who ran away from him and he did not endorse, lost their seats. It is the Trump Party now. And his strategy of divisiveness, demonization, racism, disinformation and news media bashing continued to be successful. It is very clear that a significant number of Americans comprise a solid base of voters he can count on, as long as he keeps feeding them the red meat on which they thrive.

Women. Winners. More than one hundred win House elections and women increase their numbers across the board.

Young people. Ditto. Young voters turned out in record numbers. Question? Was this a one time shot or will we see them again in 2020?

Voter Suppression. Winner. It works. The election for governor of Georgia is case in point. The Republican candidate Brian Kemp is the current secretary of state, which puts him in charge of elections. They are still counting but the number of questionable actions taken to allegedly reduce turnout in areas believed to favor his Democratic opponent, Stacy Abrams, would fill a book, and probably will. Republican Kevin Kramer won a Senate seat from North Dakota after the implementation of voter ID laws that dis-proportionally disenfranchised Democratic leaning Native American voters.

Civility. Give me a break. What do you think? Loser for us, winner for them. Every election seems to be nastier than the one before. Even Fox stopped running one particularly racist and misleading national Republican ad. In my state of New Jersey, Republican challenger Bob Hugin ran a thoroughly disgusting highly misleading TV ad targeting incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez. Hugin lost. But overall the nasty ads work. Florida is the poster child for that argument. And moderate Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri all lost Senate seats to Trump supporters who hammered them in their advertising.

Maxine Waters. Huge, giant winner. Frequent target of Trump (“Low-IQ”) Waters was reelected to the House (CA43). Walter is now in line to chair the House Financial Services Committee, with the power to investigate Trump’s personal bank transactions. Her committee is also empowered to oversee the entire financial sector. And issue subpoenas. Talk about karma.

Dennis Hof. Winner. Sorry. Couldn’t help it. Republican Hof won election in the race for Nevada’s 36th Assembly District with 68 percent of the vote. Hof, a brothel owner, it’s legal in Nevada, died in October.

And so it is on to 2020. We can expect more of the same as long as Donald Trump is a candidate. But there is a chance, if we work really hard to make it so, that 2020 could be an election where events and issues outweigh personality in voters’ decisions. And there will a lot of unpredictable events happening in the next two years.



Don’t be suppressed

Someone rings the doorbell right around Jeopardy time, not the best moment to interrupt, and I go downstairs to answer. There are two young men at the door. One carries a clipboard. The other a stack of papers. It is election season and I expect to get a pitch or two but instead am simply asked if I intend to vote. “Yes” I reply and the questioner proceeds to ask if I want to vote by mail. “No” is my answer and he launches into a fervent speech about how much easier it is and how they can help not only by supplying me with a “Vote by Mail” form but also with a ballot I can fill out to cast my vote right then and there. At that all my alarm bells go off and I ask them who they are and who they represent. They quickly cover by saying, “Well, if you’re not interested…” and heading off down the block.

I go back upstairs and rejoin Amy, knowing not to interrupt the sacrosanct Jeopardy-Wheel of Fortune hour until a commercial break, when I give my report. She agrees the encounter was strange but says it was not a big deal. The more I think about it, the more I think it is and hop in the car to see if I can find the young men.

vectorstock_331471They are just a few block down, and I watch them return to a parked car. In the backseat  I notice lawn posters promoting the candidacy of one Jay Webber. A light bulb appears over my head. Jay Webber, a state representative, is the Republican running for election in my congressional district, New Jersey’s 11th. Retiring Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen has represented the district since 1995.

Webber is being challenged by Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a Naval Academy graduate, Navy helicopter pilot, and an assistant US attorney. The race is close and this is clearly a “flippable” seat as the Democrats try to win control of the House of Representatives.

Most of the 11th district is Morris County, with a rather solid Republican voting history. But I live in Upper Montclair, a part of Essex County’s Montclair Township broken off and attached to the 11th in the 2010 dedistricting. Montclair is reliably Democratic. So what were Webber’s people up to? Well, if they could convince me that I had voted by handing a ballot to them, which they tossed, and I stayed home, my presumably Democratic vote for Sherrill would be suppressed.

Fat chance.

Voter suppression appears to be a major part of the playbook this year. At least, based on my observation, the playbook the Republicans are using.

In Georgia, at least 53,000 registrations were delayed due to the state’s unique “exact-match” law, requiring personal information on voter applications match what is on state databases, right down to the hyphens and middle names. Federal Courts blocked election officials from implementing that law.

The top election official in Georgia is, as it is in most states, the Georgia Secretary of State. For this election that is Republican Brian Kemp. Kemp also happens to be running for governor. The conflict of interest is undeniable. And just to drive home the point, Kemp’s Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, recently alerted experts to vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voting database.  Kemp immediately announced an investigation. Of Abrams and the Democrats! How do you spell conflict of interest again?

Up in North Dakota, first term Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp faces a tough reelection challenge from Republican congressman Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp won six years ago by fewer than 3,000 votes. She won handily in areas with large Native American populations. N.D.’s Republican controlled legislature passed a law requiring voters to have actual street addresses on their identification. Many Native Americans do not have U.S. mail service and use post office box numbers on their I.D.s. This voter suppression gambit could keep 70,000 Native Americans away from the polls. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to get involved.

In South Carolina, strict voter ID laws requiring department of motor vehicle (DMV) photo IDs will make it harder for people who don’t live near a DMV to get the document they need to vote.   And, one thinks not so coincidentally, S.D. cut the number of DMV offices, and polling places, by 20 percent. The cuts are mostly in minority neighborhoods where people tend to vote for Democrats.

In Dodge City, Kansas, a single polling location serves the city’s 27,000 (mostly Hispanic) residents, and a local official moved that location out of the center of town to a remote location a mile away from the nearest bus stop. Figures.

Thousands of online registrations have been rejected in Texas, which some people see as the leader in voter suppression nationwide. In Texas the trick has been to exploit the solid control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion to effect one of the most contorted gerrymanders I have ever seen.

Texas 35CD

This baby is my favorite. Texas’ 35th Congressional District. This is a gerrymander that actually looks like the salamander on which the pun is based. The Supreme Court, in one of its memorable 5-4 decisions, Abbott v. Perez, right along party lines, thinks this slithering little thing is just fine.

And last on my list, which was in no particular order, Nevada. In Nevada, 90,000 voters were “purged“, placed into “inactive status”, by Republicans following the Supreme Court decision Husted v. Randolph. Also 5-4. The same 5-4.

Bottom line, the Republicans are doing everything they can to stop people from voting. The more people vote, the more Republicans lose.