Moore, Strange head to Alabama Senate runoff
By Alex Pappas
Published August 15, 2017
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange are headed to a Sept. 26 runoff in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary after finishing atop the field in Tuesday’s election, according to a projection from The Associated Press.
The other major candidate, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, finished third in the race for the seat vacated earlier this year by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
State law calls for a runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Moore, the “Ten Commandments judge” beloved by his Christian conservative supporters, is famous for having been removed twice from his position on Alabama’s Supreme Court.
“This election, ladies and gentleman, is not over,” Moore told supporters Tuesday night. “There’s much left to do. I’m running to make a difference in Washington. And those in Washington are scared.”
Strange, the state’s former attorney general and a favorite of the establishment, was temporarily appointed to the seat in April after Sessions joined the Trump administration. He has benefited from an endorsement from President Trump -- and millions spent on his behalf by a super PAC linked to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.Expand / Collapse
Speaking to supporters after the election was called, Strange thanked Trump, telling the story of how the president let him know he would be endorsing him.
“The reason he did that is he cares about our state and he knows that I’m the person in this race who is going to help him make this country great again,” Strange said.
Brooks, a conservative House member who favors strict immigration policies, enjoyed the support of conservatives like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. He announced during his election night speech that he planned to run for re-election to his Huntsville congressional seat in 2018.
Other Republicans in the GOP race included state Sen. Trip Pittman and Christian Coalition leader Randy Brinson.
Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney under the Clinton administration who was endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden, won the Democratic nomination. Jones defeated Robert Kennedy, Jr., a Navy veteran.
Alabama hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in more than 20 years.
The rollicking GOP primary began with Strange's appointment by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who later resigned in the cloud of a scandal.
While Strange has said he did Bentley no favors, his challengers have taken repeated swipes at him for seeking an appointment from the governor when Strange, as attorney general, was in charge of an investigation.
During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Brooks supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, something his opponents have used against him. A super PAC with ties to McConnell, the Senate Leadership Fund, has been running television ads of Brooks’ past critical comments about Trump.
The Senate Leadership Fund has also run ads against Moore.
“We congratulate Big Luther Strange for closing the gap in the final week and positioning himself well for the runoff,” Steven Law of the Senate Leadership Fund said in a statement. “We are proud to have strongly supported President Trump’s number-one ally in this race, and we believe the president’s support will be decisive as we head into the next phase of this campaign, which Senator Strange will win in September.”
Meanwhile, Brooks worked to tie Strange to the Republican establishment and McConnell, whom he pledged not vote for as Republican majority leader.
After the September runoff, the general election will be held Dec. 12.
Fox News’ Joe Weber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Half the candidates in Detroit mayoral election are felons, analysis shows
Published August 04, 2017
Half the candidates in next week’s Detroit mayoral primary have been convicted of felony crimes, according to a local analysis.
The Detroit News found three of the eight mayoral hopefuls have faced gun charges -- two for assault with intent to commit murder -- and a fourth candidate pleaded guilty to a non-gun charge years ago. While some of these cases date back to the 1970s, some are more recent.
Under Michigan state election law, convicted felons can vote and run for office, so long as they are not incarcerated or guilty of crimes breaching public trust. The nonpartisan primary will narrow the field down to two candidates who will face off in November.
The candidates are apparently open about their histories. Greg Bowens, a political consultant and former press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, told The Detroit News that the rap sheets aren't unique to this election or Detroit.
“[The candidates] deserve the opportunity to be heard, but they also deserve to have the kind of scrutiny that comes along with trying to get an important person elected,” he said.
Three of the candidates told The Detroit News their criminal histories have served as motivation in running for office.
Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions, beginning in 1977, according to court records reviewed by the newspaper.
“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” Pitts told the paper. “I hope [voters] don’t look at it as negative but as my experience, and I can help. I want to fight for them.”
Other candidates with past charges include Danetta Simpson, who was convicted in 1996 for assault with intent to murder; Articia Bomer, who was charged in 2008 for carrying a concealed weapon; and Curtis Christopher Greene who was charged with fourth-degree fleeing and eluding police during an attempted traffic stop, and a marijuana-related count. The felony charge reportedly came when he violated probation in 2005 and was charged over a fraudulent check, according to the report.
Detroit’s mayoral primary election is set for Aug. 8.
Don Haggar Quits Legislature to Spread Koch Propaganda; Must Wait One Year to Lobby
Posted 2017-06-27 14:48 by Cory Allen Heidelberger
Don Haggar, Koch brothers’ new chief tool in South Dakota.The good news is that Don Haggar has quit the Legislature, meaning he won’t be able to use his Legislative post to attack initiative and referendum and the right of the people to make their own laws.
The bad news is he’s leaving public service to make much more money from the Koch Brothers to continue his fight against democracy in favor of wealthy elites. Americans for Prosperity recognized Haggar as a “rising star” last September; now they’ve hired him to direct their South Dakota branch. As the Koch Brothers’ new paid front man in South Dakota, Haggar will capitalize on his public service to lobby for private plutocrats:
“I developed really close relationships and friendships with the folks I work with in my chamber and, in fact, in both chambers, in the executive branch, and the thing is, that doesn’t really go away. My role just changes slightly. I fought for those things as a representative, as a legislator and I’ll continue to fight for those,” Haggar said [Dana Ferguson, “State Legislator Resigns, Accepts Job with Americans for Prosperity,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.27].
Note that under current law, SDCL 2-12-8.2, Haggar can’t come to Pierre and lobby for Americans for Prosperity next session the way Ben Lee has for the past few years. As currently written, the law says Haggar has to wait one year to register as a lobbyist. Had he waited until next week to resign, he’d have been subject to the new two-year sit-out period originally enacted by the voters in Initiated Measure 22, then repealed and replaced by the Legislature in this year’s Senate Bill 131, which Haggar did vote for in the House.
Why The 2018 Senate Elections Are Looking Bad For Both Parties
By Harry Enten
Filed under 2018 Senate Elections
The 2018 midterms are a story of two chambers. Democrats are in the best position they’ve been in since 2010 to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The Senate map, on the other hand, is so tilted toward the GOP that most political analysts have all but dismissed Democrats’ chancesof winning the chamber before 2020. It has even been suggested that Republicans could gain enough Senate seats (eight) in 2018 to amass a filibuster-proof majority (60 seats).
This is normally the part of the article where I push back on the conventional wisdom and argue something like, actually, the 2018 Senate map isn’t that bad for Democrats. But no, it’s pretty bad: Democrats are a long shot to take back the Senate.
What I will argue, however, is that it’ll also be difficult for the GOP to pick up a bunch of seats. Republicans would need to oust incumbent Democrats, and it’s extremely difficult to beat an incumbent senator in a midterm when his or her party doesn’t control the White House.
It may seem a little nuts to suggest that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can keep losses to a minimum in 2018. Democrats hold 23 of the 33 seats up for a vote. There are 10 Democratic senators running in statesthat President Trump won, five of whom (Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana) are from states that Trump won by about 20 percentage points or more. Meanwhile, there are only two Republican senators (Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Nevada’s Dean Heller) up for re-election in states Hillary Clinton came within 5 points of winning in 2016.
But while a lot of Democrats are up for re-election in red states, there’s also a Republican in the White House, and incumbent senators1 in the opposition party — for simplicity, let’s call them “opposition senators” — tend to survive in those situations.
Looking only at senators who ran in the general election. The average margin of victory does not include senators who were beaten in the primary and then ran as a third-party candidate in the general election.
There have been 114 opposition senators who have run in a midterm general election2 since 1982. Only four of the 114 (4 percent) lost. Most won by wide margins, with the average opposition senator beating the candidate of the president’s party3 by 28 percentage points. Even in the worst year for opposition senators (1998), 86 percent were re-elected. If 86 percent of incumbent Democrats win in 2018, the party would lose three seats.4 That would leave Republicans with 55 seats, a more comfortable majority but far short of filibuster-proof.
In contrast, senators in the same party as the president running in midterm years — this will be Republicans in 2018 — lose fairly often.
Looking only at senators who ran in the general election.
Of the 128 senators who fit this description, 25 (20 percent) lost re-election. In every midterm since 1982, at least one incumbent of the president’s party was defeated. If that trend held this year, it would probably mean that either Flake or Heller would go down. In some years, a third or more of incumbents of the president’s party lost in the general election. Overall, these senators’ average margin of victory has been 17 percentage points, 11 points worse than opposition senators.
Of course, these numbers don’t take into account how blue or red each seat is. Here are the re-election rates for the 42 opposition senators since 1982 who were up for re-election in states that leaned toward the other party.5 (A Democrat
Opposition party, state voted for presidentLooking only at senators who ran in the general election. The previous two presidential election results in a state are use to determine the “lean” of a state compared to the nation as a whole. The previous election is weighted 75 percent and
the one before that 25 percent.
Of those 42, 39 (93 percent) won re-election. Most of the time, the race wasn’t even close; the average senator won by 22 percentage points.
Now, look at the re-election rate for the senators in the same party as the president running for re-election in states that lean toward their party. (That is, the situation facing all Republican incumbents except for Dean Heller in 2018.)
President’s party, state voted for president Looking only at senators who ran in the general election. The previous two presidential election results in a state are used to determine the “lean” of a state compared to the nation as a whole. The previous election is weighted 75 percent and
the one before that 25 percent.
Their re-election rate (85 percent) in general elections is actually worse than opposition senators running in hostile territory. Their average margin of re-election was also slightly smaller.
So all that should cheer red-state Democrats contemplating their re-election bids in 2018.
If you’re a Republican senator running for re-election in 2018, you’re hoping that it resembles 1998 or 2002, the only midterms since 1982 when a higher share of presidential party incumbents won seats than opposition senators did in states that leaned toward the president’s party. Or, maybe 1990, when those two groups broke even.
Of course, at the moment, it seems unlikely that 2018 will look like those elections. In all those years, the president had an approval rating of 58 percent or better on Election Day, according to Gallup. In fact, three of the four opposition senators to lose since 1982 (Al D’Amato in 1998, Lauch Faircloth in 1998 and Max Cleland in 2002) ran in years when the president’s approval rating was at 63 percent or above.6 The current political environment looks nothing like 1990, 1998 or 2002. In fact, it’s terrible for Republicans right now. According to the FiveThirtyEight Trump approval tracker, the president’s approval rating right now is just 39 percent.
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So does this mean that all the vulnerable Democratic incumbents are going to win? Not really. There are a few reasons to be cautious when looking at the past midterm success of opposition senators in states that lean in favor of the president’s party.
First, the lean of a state at the presidential level has become increasingly predictive of Senate results. That’s especially the case for 2010 and 2014. Yet in those two elections, we only have had two opposition senators (Susan Collins in Maine in 2014 and Chuck Grassley in Iowa in 2010) who ran for re-election in hostile territory.7. In both cases, the states leaned less toward the president’s party than Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia do now. Although both Collins and Grassley easily won re-election, it could make the case that in our current political atmosphere the strong Republican lean in any of the five aforementioned states may be too much for one or more of these incumbents to overcome.
Second, we’re in even more uncharted territory when it comes to Heitkamp in North Dakota and Manchin in West Virginia. Dating back to 1982, there isn’t a single example of an incumbent in the opposition party even running for re-election (let alone winning) in states that leaned as much toward the president’s party as North Dakota and West Virginia (34 and 40 percentage points, respectively, did in the weighted average of the previous two presidential elections). Both states have also trended away from the Democrats, as Trump took them by 15 percentage points more in 2016 than Mitt Romney in 2012.
Third, we cannot be sure that all these red-state Democratic senators are going to run for re-election. Although most have said they will, they could change their minds or lose in a primary. If either of those scenarios happens, keep in mind that the default political lean in a state tends to be much more determinative in open elections in midterm years — red states vote Republican and blue states vote Democratic.
It’s far too early to know how 2018 will play out. It’s a bad map for Democrats, and Republicans are working against history with Trump in the White House. Maybe one of those forces will swamp the other. Or maybe the result will be a wash.
National Popular Vote, Fairfield Glade, TN