Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Opposition Research Against Nothing-Burger DCCC Recruits Is Going To Be Even Worse Than Usual


Hans-- a congenital liar

One of the problems with the DCCC pretending not to be a bunch of scummy politicians and recruiting "clean" non-politicians is that politicians who have been coming up in the ranks are usually well-vetted by the voters. The garbage candidates the DCCC digs up from under rocks invariably have a little something horrible they've been hiding-- perfect for GOP opposition research firms to find. The NationalJournal gave some juicy Orange County examples-- without even getting into the silliest DCCC recruits of all, Gil Cisneros and Sarah the Quaalcomm heiress, the two super-rich vanity candidates who are destined to provide the biggest laughs of the cycle.

The NationalJournal begins with the DCCC's biggest recruit of the cycle, Hans Keirstead, who looks excellent on paper, but who has turned out to be a really dismal failure on the stump. First off, in a season where the energy of the the voters has nothing to do with preserving the status quo, Hans is the epitome of a status quo candidate-- and immediately sought out and received an endorsement from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, the New Dems. The Journal immediately notes that Hans "has the kind of standout resume that national Democrats [meaning the corrupt slime dogs who run the DCCC and have a decade of serial failures for paying attention to people like Ian Russell; see below] have prized as they recruit fresh talent in a bid to take back the House.
He’s a pioneering stem-cell biologist specializing in spinal-cord injuries whose work has been profiled in the New York Times. And, according to his LinkedIn profile and a biography on his biomedical company’s website, he holds a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia.

But that Ph.D, as national Democratic consultants found, is technically in zoology-- a discrepancy, however innocent or not it may be, that could hinder a top challenger to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

This is just the latest example of what strategists predict will be a trove of opposition research dogging the glut of Democratic political neophytes hoping to benefit from a favorable national climate. And it will be dug up by Republicans and primary rivals alike.

“The Democratic nomination is worth having in 2018,” said Ian Russell, a former deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who now advises several House campaigns. “You’re going to see candidates and campaigns pull out more stops than they would otherwise to win the primaries."
At this point, the NationalJournal probably should have identified Russell as representing one of the Orange County candidates, the wealthy, but otherwise total nothing-burger of a candidate, Sarah the heiress. Maybe Russell didn't tell them. He's like that. He used to work at the DCCC, which he was instrumental in ruining.
Consultants working on House races said they expect a flurry of oppo dumps as primaries begin in earnest, describing rumors they’ve heard or files circulating that reveal potential candidate vulnerabilities. Several operatives described it as routine for campaigns to conduct cursory research into the background of an opponent, even if only to inform strategy.

The problem is particularly acute in California, where a jungle-primary system, swingy open seats, and the state Democratic Party’s endorsement process, which began last weekend, increase the urgency to stand out in crowded fields.

A Keirstead spokesman confirmed the candidate’s doctorate was in zoology, but clarified that it was with a specialty in neuroscience and added that he later became a professor of that discipline after further study at Cambridge University. Keirstead’s LinkedIn page was updated by Monday morning to note that his Ph.D. came from the university’s zoology department.

“Whomever tried to pitch this laughable attempt at mudslinging stands to benefit from Hans’ tireless efforts to boost STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum in our public-education system,” campaign spokesman Kyle Quinn-Quesada said.

Opponents on both sides of the aisle could use Keirstead’s academic characterization to craft a narrative that he has a tendency to exaggerate. He drew scrutiny this month when he said that Democratic leaders wanted to appoint him chairman of the House Science committee and give him a seat on Appropriations-- something that leadership quickly denied to Roll Call.
In other words, he's already a known liar, as we noted, in all its gory details, a month ago. The DCCC should have dumped him then but they didn't and now they may be stuck with a candidate who can't win (unless the nationalized blue wave is just too strong to not drag him along as well). And it isn't just Keirstead. The other New Dem in the CA-48 race, isn't as bad but... "Harley Rouda, sits on the board of a shoe company that did business with a supplier accused of using sweatshop labor. In response, Rouda’s campaign stressed that he had never been involved in the company’s day-to-day operations." One of his consultants, Mac Zilber, said that "This is the first Harley has heard of this allegation and bragged that Rouda had been endorsed by six major labor unions. Maybe they wouldn't have endorsed him if they knew about the sweat shops.

NationalJournal, which depends a little too much on the DCCC for "facts," then went on to claim that "Elsewhere in Orange County, three top Democratic contenders are running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce, including two self-funding multimillionaires. Researchers compiled a 27-page file on one of them, Andy Thorburn, a businessman who seeded his campaign with a $2 million loan." Which are the 3? Can you tell from this graphic below? The self-funding millionaires are Gil Cisneros and May-Khanh Tran (each of whom got one vote from the California Democratic Party pre-endorsement conference last weekend) and Andy Thorburn,who got two votes.

The report showed, among other things, that the IRS took out several tax liens against him [Thorburn] when he failed to pay an estimated $600,000 in back taxes, and that Thorburn’s company bases some of its operations in Guernsey, an island off the coast of France that has been blacklisted as a tax haven by some European countries.

Thorburn’s campaign said it doesn’t view the research as a liability, noting that Thorburn has never hidden his bankruptcy filing and that Guernsey is one of the few places with regulations that enabled the creation of Thorburn’s insurance company.

Meanwhile, Republican outside groups, which dug up much of the opposition research that dogged Democratic folk musician Rob Quist in last year’s Montana special election, plan to have a similar role ahead of November’s elections.

The Congressional Leadership Fund began conducting field research last year in 15 races as part of its $100 million campaign to protect the Republican House majority. Its team of researchers deploys in the districts to scour old court cases, dig up property records, and conduct interviews. CLF partners with America Rising, which plans to target 30 to 40 House districts this cycle in an effort to discredit Democratic challengers.

Corry Bliss, CLF’s executive director, said the effort has uncovered potentially damaging information on several Democrats, particularly those who are wealthy or first-time candidates. He highlighted as an example possibly harmful divorce records that his team found on one highly touted DCCC recruit.

“In a couple of the races, the research is so good we don’t want to use it too early because a candidate may drop out of the race or it may cause their lead in a primary to crater,” Bliss said. “Timing is everything.”

CLF plans to engage in some Democratic primaries and will use its research to guide its efforts, boosting the weakest general-election nominee.

With an unusually large battlefield this cycle, Democrats can dust off research collected on longtime incumbents who haven’t had a competitive race in years. American Bridge, a Democratic super PAC, has trackers on the ground in 25 states who have recorded more than 1,200 House GOP campaign events this cycle. Its video database has more than 25,000 hours of footage of Republicans.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Trump Refuses To Implement The Sanctions Congress Passed On His Pal Vlad


There have been whispers out of the White House that Trumpanzee wants to get rid of the oil guy he appointed Secretary of State and put Mike Pompeo, the CIA chief, in his place. He may have changed his mind yesterday if someone told him about Pompeo's BBC interview in which he warned that Russia will likely target the midterm elections and that he has "every expectation" that Russia will attempt to disrupt the U.S. midterms. "The Russians," said Pompeo, "have been at this a long time, and I fully expect they’ll continue to be at it." Congress thought the same thing, which is why they passed-- overwhelmingly, new sanctions on Russia. It passed in the House 419-3 and in the Senate 98-2. Despite those huge votes-- and at the same time Pompeo's warning was being broadcast, Señor Trumpanzee said he won't impose the sanctions on Russia. Far right radio host-- and Illinois ex-congressman, Joe Walsh tweeted "Putin is laughing right now. I mean, think about it: He screws with our election, he knows we won't come together to go after Russia, and he's got Trump & the Republicans going after our own intelligence agencies instead. Putin must just love this."

And Walsh wasn't the only Republican unhappy with Trump cuddling up with Putin Susan Collins on CNN: "The one thing we know for sure already is the Russians did attempt to meddle in our election. And not only should there be a price to pay in terms of sanctions, but also we need to put safeguards in place right now for the elections for this year... We know the Russians have not given up on their disinformation campaign and their attempt to sow discord in this country, and also to undermine faith in democratic institutions." Moving to stop Kremlin meddling is one thing Trump will never do. Just like 2016, he wants the interference.

Instead of obeying the law, Trump's Treasury Department released a list of names of Putin associates who were naughty. The list includes "every senior member of the political administration at the Kremlin, and every Russian oligarch with a net worth of $1 billion or more." The Trumpist regime, according to CNN, "stopped short of imposing any new punishments, saying the legislation was already doing its job. The report was 'not a sanctions list,' it said. Putin pretended to be vewy, vewy upset: "What's the point of this? I don't understand," he laughed. "But this is of course an unfriendly act. It complicates already complicated Russia-US relations and harms international relations in general. Those who engage in this are basically engaged in their own domestic politics. They are trying to attack their elected president." He added that "we have heard about some other secret list, containing other names, so we need to look and see what is going to happen." Is that so? How did he here about that and from whom? I hop Mueller adds that to what he's investigating.

Ironically, if you go to YouTube you find nothing but Russian troll garbage on the front pages of a search for "Trump, sanctions, Russia." It was just what they were doing during the election to bury videos unfriendly to Trump. YouTube,a subsidiary of Google, refuses to fix the problem, which is constant.

It's somewhat ironic that Marco Rubio (R-FL), now a dedicated Trump apologist and enabler, has joined with Non Menendez (D-NJ) in warning the country that Trump's Kremlin allies are meddling in Latin American elections, too. They wrote to Rex Tillerson: "We write to urge you to raise the importance of strong, independent electoral systems in Mexico and Latin America more broadly. We are increasingly concerned about growing efforts to undermine these hard-fought and widely supported advances, particularly those emanating from outside the region." Trump still denies that Russian inference swung the 2016 presidential election to himself. (Yes, Trump is an illegitimate president.)
The senators allege Russia is using "sophisticated technology" to influence Mexico's upcoming presidential election, and they're asking Tillerson to urge Mexico and other countries to rely on help from USAID to safeguard their elections. Violent protests of thousands recently erupted after the Honduras presidential election, a contested race that was marred by accusations of voter fraud. Tear gas had to be used to diffuse the angry streets when the winner was declared weeks after the vote took place. The senators point to those images in calling for the need to support strong electoral processes to sustain a democracy.

U.S. National Security Advisor HR McMaster noted Russian efforts to insert their influence in Mexico late last year.  "We've seen that this is really a sophisticated effort to polarize democratic societies and pit communities within those societies against each other," said McMaster "You've seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already."

Given the spate of upcoming presidential elections this year in the Western hemisphere-- there are six-- the senators are concerned about the potential for exploitation.

"Weak electoral systems can be easily exploited and manipulated by malicious actors like Russia," the senators write. "As such, we believe it is critical that USAID continue to play an active role in providing technical assistance, education and training to support countries' efforts to strengthen electoral systems."

...Tillerson has acknowledged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. When he traveled to Russia last year he deemed it a "serious issue" that has been "fairly well-established." The secretary also reiterated this point in Washington late last year.

"Russia continues aggressive behavior toward other regional neighbors by interfering in election processes and promoting non-democratic ideals," Tillerson said. "We, together with our friends in Europe, recognize the active threat of a recently resurgent Russia."

Still, the Trump administration did not follow through on congressional legislation that would in part, have sought to punish Russia for its U.S. election interference. Without adding new sanctions to target the Russian intelligence and defense sectors, the Trump administration said that the legislation itself was doing enough to deter Russia. The State Department said that in speaking with U.S. allies and partners, it was able to turn off "potential deals" that would have amounted to several billions dollars.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Morbidly Obese And Hypocritical Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) On The SOTU: "It Is Not A Venue To Score Cheap Political Points."


When I saw John Wagner's piece, "Names of campaign donors to be flashed during live stream of Trump's State of the Union speech," in the Washington Post Tuesday morning before dawn, I literally thought it was a parody. Señor Trumpanzee "is seeking to parlay his first State of the Union address on Tuesday into cash for his reelection campaign," wrote Wagner, "by offering supporters a chance to see their name flashed on the screen during a broadcast of the speech. In a fundraising solicitation on Monday, Trump offered those willing to pay at least $35 the opportunity to see their name displayed during a live streaming of the address on his campaign website.
"This is a movement," the solicitation says. "It's not about just one of us. It's about ALL of us. Which is why your name deserves to be displayed during Tuesday night's speech."

The web page to which the solicitation links offers donors the opportunity to contribute as much as $2,700-- the maximum amount allowed per election.
The part that wasn't true was the buzz on Capitol Hill that if you contributed $5,000 to his SuperPAC who could fuck Melania and if you gave $10,000 you could have a go at Ivanka. I checked Snopes and there was nothing about any of the Trumpanzee women but they did confirm that Trump was turning the SOTU address into a campaign fundraiser.

Also not confirmed was that Paul Ryan has had the tweet tattooed on his ass. So how does one analyze this stunt in light of the proposal put forward this week by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman this week? Writing for the Sacramento Bee, they asserted, accurately, that "There can be no denying the overwhelming power of the rich in current American politics. As political scientists have repeatedly shown, Congress is systematically unresponsive to the opinions of ordinary Americans, reacting only to the views of the richest 10 percent. The positions of the current Congress-- tax cuts to the 1 percent, repealing net neutrality, refusing a vote on DACA, and rejecting Medicare for All-- have led to a crisis of confidence about whether the body is capable of representing the democratic will of our nation. Nothing matters more than reforming Congress so it is not beholden to the donor class. That’s why we are calling for a statutory proposal to reverse this slide into plutocracy."
The Citizen Sovereignty Act grants each registered voter a special credit card account that can be spent for only one purpose: to support favored candidates in federal elections. Citizens could sign up on the internet for the right to spend fifty “democracy dollars” during every election cycle on the contest for the presidency, the Senate, and the House.

Nearly 140 million Americans went to the polls in 2016. If the same number had been able to spend democracy dollars, they would have contributed the equivalent of $7 billion in campaign financing-- compared to the $6.8 billion in green dollars provided by private interests. This is a small price to pay to restore real democracy in the United States.

The statute is designed to respect all Supreme Court decisions guaranteeing candidates the right to raise private money and would be constitutional even under the Roberts Court. While the holy grail remains to overturn Citizens United and the Supreme Court’s flawed doctrine that money is speech, this initiative will allow us to reform our democracy without waiting helplessly for the court to change.

Under the democracy dollars system, even plutocrats might pause before relying on their own money or donor money. They will have to make a choice: Either they opt into the democracy dollar system, or they rely on green dollars. If they choose the latter, that will allow their opponents to raise millions of democracy dollars that the plutocrats might have obtained if they had competed for the support of their fellow citizens.

The plutocrats would lose any significant financial advantage and would also incur a huge cost of bad publicity for refusing support from ordinary Americans.

The point of the initiative is to kick off a conversation among reformers so that we don’t waste the next few years backing half-hearted initiatives.

Among reforms, the current favorite is the “matching grant” system that prevails in New York City and other places. Under this alternative, “small” contributions of up to $1,050 are matched 6-to-1 with public funds. But in New York, these “small” donations overwhelmingly come from the top ten percent earning more than $180,000 a year.

The average family, with an income of $43,000, has a hard enough time providing a decent life for themselves and their kids. If they have anything left over, it is perfectly understandable when they give it to their church or little league instead of a candidate they admire. For a single mom at the 25th percentile earning $26,000, the smallest political contribution is a luxury she can’t afford.

In contrast, once voters gain control of democracy dollars, fundraising would become a community affair-- a box lunch for 50 neighbors could gross 2,500 democracy dollars. These grass-roots efforts would provoke tens of millions of dinner-table conversations: Who should get our democracy dollars? Who is really concerned about America?

In 2015, Seattle voters became the first community to endorse a democracy dollars initiative for city elections. South Dakota followed in 2016 with a referendum of its own.

Our initiative brings the debate to the national level, and aims to put the progressive coalition in a position to act decisively if Americans repudiate the Republicans’ plutocratic politics in “wave elections” in 2018 and 2020.

Pompous Blowhard by Nancy Ohanian

Labels: , ,

Scott Walker's War Against Democracy Itself


A couple of weeks ago, Wisconsin's far right governor, Scott Walker, warned that Patty Schachtner's upset win over state Rep. Adam Jarchow in a deep red state Senate district was a "wake up call" for the GOP. And he's now figured out how to answer that call. He's refusing to allow special elections to fill vacant seats in the state legislature. I kid you not! As John Nichols explained in The Nation last week, Scott Walker works for the Koch brothers, not Wisconsin working families. And if there's one thing the Koch brothers and the other plutocrats who dream of making Walker president really hate, it's democracy. Walker and his right-wing allies in the legislature "redrew legislative district lines to prevent competitive elections, enacted multiple measures that made it harder for Wisconsinites to vote, and dismantled the state Government Accountability Board that used to provide nonpartisan oversight of elections and ethics issues."
But it turns out that Walker and his cronies were just getting started on a project that in recent weeks has seen embattled Wisconsin Republicans upend new commissions that were supposed to promote fair elections and responsible governance, while the governor has refused to call elections to fill legislative vacancies in districts that might be won by Democrats.

As the onetime Republican star who crashed and burned as a contender for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination prepared to deliver his annual State of the State message, Republican state senators denied the confirmations of the directors of Wisconsin’s ethics and elections commissions and Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, a close ally of the governor, said he wanted to force out employees of the commissions who had participated in investigations of Republican wrongdoing.

After Walker’s Republicans effectively voted to oust Ethics Commission administrators Brian Bell and Michael Haas and began talking about reclassifying positions at the commissions as part of a partisan purge of nonpartisan oversight agencies, Democratic state Representative Jimmy Anderson blasted his Republican colleagues for undermining “the integrity of our electoral process as well as the vital role that these watchdogs play in regulating lobbying and campaign activity. Wisconsin has a long-standing tradition as a leader in nonpartisan election administration.”

Anderson is right. But nothing the legislature has done so undermines the integrity of the electoral process as what Walker is doing personally.

The governor is deliberately denying Wisconsinites representation in the legislature by refusing to call special elections to fill open seats in the State Assembly and the State Senate.

In doing so, he is rejecting the clear intent of Wisconsin’s statutes, which declare: “Any vacancy in the office of state senator or representative to the Assembly occurring before the 2nd Tuesday in May in the year in which a regular election is held to fill that seat shall be filled as promptly as possible by special election.”

So what’s up?

It may be that Walker is refusing to schedule the special elections because he is scared. The results of special elections held last Tuesday were disastrous for Walker and his Republican allies. The party lost a State Senate seat in western Wisconsin’s 10th District, as a 26-point Republican advantage in November 2016 shifted to an 11-point Democratic advantage in January 2018. And the GOP came closer than anyone expected to losing an Assembly seat in overwhelmingly Republican Washington County, where a Democrat won 43 percent of the vote. Even the governor admits the loss of the State Senate seat represents a “wake-up call.” And Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, argues that: “Governor Walker is running scared and is playing politics with people’s right to be represented in the State Capitol. He is clearly feeling the heat and scrambling to boost lack luster polls and the Republican brand, but voters are wide awake and aren’t buying it.”

It may be that Walker-- who has run his campaigns with massive infusions of money from outside Wisconsin, approved such extreme gerrymandering that the federal courts have intervened, and backed restrictive voter-ID laws, assaults on early voting, same-day registration, and a host of other assaults on voting rights-- really is as willing to sacrifice Wisconsin democracy on the altar of his many ambitions as his critics suggest.

Whatever his reason, the fact remains that Walker has refused to call special elections to fill the seats of former state senator Frank Lasee, of De Pere, and former state representative Keith Ripp, of Lodi, a pair of Republicans who quit the legislature in December to take posts with the governor’s administration. The governor wants to leave those seats open until January 2019-- denying tens of thousands of Wisconsinites representation for a full year.

When the governor initially refused to call the special elections, his aides claimed that it would be a waste of money to hold them because the legislature wouldn’t be all that busy in 2018-- but the state Senate has already been quite busy, as the assaults on the elections and ethics commissions confirm.
Goal ThermometerState Senator Chris Larson, the most progressive political leader in Wisconsin, and the guy who started the process of recruiting Randy Bryce to run against Ryan, told me that "Walker and Republicans know the voting public has lost patience with them. They cut education to historic lows while dealing up the largest corporate giveaway in the country’s history. Instead of changing course and actually serving the people, they are instead setting the table for a very shady election cycle. It starts with denying special elections from happening, add in their sabotage of the election and ethics commissions, and layer that all on top of their known past shenanigans of restrictive IDs for voting, gerrymandering, and coordinating with outside special interests. Democrats can and will win seats in Wisconsin this fall, including beating Speaker Ryan and electing a Democratic Governor. But these ardent Trump apologists aren’t going quietly into the night. More than ever, we need bold progressives to run for office who are willing to get out and fight for their neighbors."

Lasee's district, Senate District 1-- east and south of Green Bay-- is made up of Door and Kewaunee counties and bits of Brown and Calumet counties. What frightens Walker is that the heart of the district, the Door Peninsula, voted for Trump in 2016 but for Obama in 2012. Also in the 2016 primaries, Bernie beat Clinton in the district and got more votes that Trump to boot.

Keith Ripp's Assembly district 42 includes most of Columbia and Dodge counties and small bits of Dane, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, and Marquette counties and the cities of Columbus, Fox Lake, Lodi and Waupun. Columbia, the heart of the district, went for Trump in 2016 but strongly for Obama in 2012. During the primary, Bernie didn't just beat Hillary 6,455 (60.5%) to 4,183 (39.2%), but also got more votes than Trump (4,413). Bernie crushed Hillary in every part of Ripp's district. Voters wanted change, when the Democrats gave them an avatar of the status quo, they went for Trump and the GOP. That walkup call Walker heard ringing was Wisconsin voters swinging back towards the Democrats, very, very strongly.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Mingo County Was Desperate For Change-- Now They're Stuck With Trump And A Worsening Opioid Epidemic


An inflammatory tweet yesterday from Anthony Bordain alerted me to a shocking story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail by Eric Eyre, Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people. Think about that for a second. And then consider the newest polling from Gallup on the eve of Trump's State of the Union. Of the dozen states where a majority of voters like Trump, West Virginia has the highest percentage of people who think he's doing a good job. although the poll shows Trump's national approval at 38%, in West Virginia is 61%, the only state with a 6 as the first number, Other than DC, where his approval number is 6%. Almost all the states where Trump has high approval numbers are states where the opioid crisis is highest and most virulent.

Bordain's tweet, by the way, was "The execs at companies who did this should serve more jail time than any street level dope dealer." Did what? Before we turn to Eyre's report, the best candidate running for Congress in any of West Virginia's districts, Kendra Fershee told us that "Unfortunately, there is a pattern in our history of out-of-state business coming into WV, using our resources, turning them into profit, and leaving us to pick up the pieces. The pattern here is the same, and this time, the used up and spit out resources were our people. The drug companies, and doctors who did their bidding, used West Virginians to reach record profits and have done nothing to help solve the problems they helped create. It's time to hold them accountable. A lot of attention has been paid to the pill mills in Florida that fueled the start of the addiction crisis, but the small town pill mills were just as deadly and seemed to fly under the radar longer. It's easy to see the destruction in WV, and the numbers don't lie. People die here at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. The federal government can do two things to right the wrongs it helped create by failing to intervene with the pharmaceutical companies: 1) enforce regulations to stop this from happening again, and 2) legalize medical marijuana so the state can implement its law to help people manage pain safely and build revenue to help addicts get healthy."

Like Bordain, she had just read Eyre's story:
Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone-- two powerful painkillers-- to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel’s inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.

“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.

The panel recently sent letters to regional drug wholesalers Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, asking why the companies increased painkiller shipments and didn’t flag suspicious drug orders from pharmacies while overdose deaths were surging across West Virginia.

The letters outline high-volume shipments to pharmacies over consecutive days and huge spikes in pain pill numbers from year to year.

Between 2006 and 2016, drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in Williamson, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data obtained by the House Committee.

Springboro, Ohio-based Miami-Luken sold 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy from 2008 to 2015, the company disclosed to the panel. That’s more than half of all painkillers shipped to the pharmacy those years. In a single year (2008 to 2009), Miami-Luken’s shipments increased three-fold to the Mingo County town.

Miami-Luken also was a major supplier to the now-closed Save-Rite Pharmacy in the Mingo County town of Kermit, population 400.

The drug wholesaler shipped 5.7 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Save-Rite and a branch pharmacy called Sav-Rite #2 between 2005 and 2011, according records Miami-Luken gave the committee. In 2008, the company provided 5,624 prescription pain pills for every man, woman and child in Kermit.

In its letters, the panel also raised questions about Miami-Luken’s shipments to Westside Pharmacy in Oceana, Wyoming County. The committee cited documents that show a Miami-Luken employee reported a Virginia doctor, who operated a pain clinic located two hours from Oceana, was sending his patients to Westside Pharmacy, which filled the prescriptions.

In 2015, more than 40 percent of the oxycodone prescriptions filled by Westside Pharmacy in Oceana were coming from the Virginia doctor, according to the committee’s letter. The following year, the Virginia Board of Medicine suspended the doctor’s license, finding his practice posed a “substantial danger to public health and safety.”

The panel’s letter also mentions Miami-Luken’s suspicious shipments to Colony Drug in Beckley. In a five-day span in 2015, the drug wholesaler shipped 16,800 oxycodone pills to the pharmacy.

“In several instances, Colony Drug placed multiple orders for what appears to be excessive amounts of pills on consecutive days,” the committee wrote.

The House committee questioned H.D. Smith’s painkiller shipments to Family Discount Pharmacy in Logan County. The drug shipper distributed 3,000 hydrocodone tablets a day to the pharmacy in 2008, a 10-fold increase in sales from the previous year, according to the committee’s letter. The pharmacy, located in a town of 1,800 people, was shipped 1.1 million hydrocodone pills in 2008.

The House panel also cited Springfield, Illinois-based H.D. Smith for spikes in painkiller shipments to Sav-Rite, Westside Pharmacy, Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug.

Oxycodone is sold under brand names like OxyContin, while hydrocodone brands include Vicodin and Lortab.

“The committee’s bipartisan investigation continues to identify systemic issues with the inordinate number of opioids distributed to small town pharmacies,” Walden and Pallone said in the statement. “The volume appears to be far in excess of the number of opioids that a pharmacy in that local area would be expected to receive.”

In a statement, H.D. Smith said it was reviewing the committee’s letter Monday.

“H.D. Smith works with its upstream manufacturing and downstream pharmacy partners to guard the integrity of the supply chain, and to improve patient outcomes,” the company said.

Miami-Luken did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In February 2016, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ended a state lawsuit against Miami-Luken after the company agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that it flooded the state with painkillers. Morrisey, a former lobbyist for a trade group that represents Miami-Luken and other drug distributors, inherited the lawsuit in 2013 after ousting longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

H.D. Smith paid the state $3.5 million to settle the same pill-dumping allegations in January 2017.

The committee gave H.D. Smith and Miami-Luken until Feb. 9 to turn over documents and answer dozens of questions about what steps, if any, the companies took to stop the flood of pain pills into Southern West Virginia.

“We will continue to investigate these distributors’ shipments of large quantities of powerful opioids across West Virginia, including what seems to be a shocking lack of oversight over their distribution practices,” Walden and Pallone said.

The state has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. More than 880 people fatally overdosed in West Virginia in 2016.
People may point to Mingo County and snear that they voted heavily for Trump-- 7,876 (83.2%) to 1,365 (14.4%) for Clinton-- but these were desperate people who din't want another status quo establishment politician and decided to gamble on Trump. Their first choice, though was not Trump. During the primary Mingo voters didn't just give Bernie a massive 2,425 vote win over Hillary (1,074), they gave Bernie a huge victory over Trump (1,167). In fact, Bernie got more votes in the primary than Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie combined. So wipe that smear off your fucking face.

Labels: , ,

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

We used to think this sort of thing only happened in Russia or third world banana republics.

Now half of our leaders sit idly, doing nothing and thinking "It couldn't happen here," while the other half continue to busily act on the behalf of our enemies, having sold their country and what little honor they ever had to the highest bidder.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Dysfunctional California Democratic Party Moves To Endorse Candidates


The Republican lottery winner who already spent $243,798 and got 1 vote for his efforts (one)

This is too funny to pass up. Various factions at the the DCCC have been working against each other and recruiting sundry terrible candidates to run in Orange County congressional districts. In CA-48-- Rohrabacher's district-- one goof-ball (Kyle) recruited New Dem Harley Rounda while a more powerful goof-ball recruited the other New Dem, Hans Keirstead. Meanwhile the DCCC persuaded 2 other DCCC-type schlemiels from the district-- wealthy doctor Mai-Khanh Tran and even richer lottery winner Gil Cisneros-- to run in the 39th district instead. While that's happening, a rich right-wing lawyer from the 39th, Omar Siddiqui, declares he likes GOP incumbent Ed Royce too much to run against him so he's running in CA-48 instead) and while we're talking about Siddiqui's declarations, he also announced that he's a "Reagan Democrat." Now Royce has announced he's retiring from Congress and Siddiqui is stuck being a carpetbagger for no reason.

OK, for background, let's look at the festival of self-funding going on in the vulnerable Republican-held seats in Orange County. These are some mighty rich fellas who want to buy congressional seats (and prestigious business cards) for themselves, don't you think:
Andy Thorburn (CA-39)- $2,000,000
Gil Cisneros (CA-39)- $561,656
Omar Siddiqui (CA-48)- $458,498
Paul Kerr (CA-49)- $262,728
Ron Varasteh (CA-45)- $250,000
Harley Rouda (CA-48)- $230,500
Mai-Khanh Tran (CA-39)- $200,000
Michael Kotick (CA-48)- $130,452
Phil Janowicz (CA-39)- $112,518
Hans Keirstead (CA-48)- $55,400

Note: The Quaalcomm heiress, an utterly ridiculous candidate that EMILY's List parachuted into CA-49 from Brooklyn, hasn't posted how much of her daddy's fortune she's self-funding into the primary yet, but, knowing EMILY's List, expect a lot of Beltway consultants to get a lot richer off this poor (rich) sucker. Now look at the chart just above, of this past weekend's CA-39 Democratic Party pre-endorsement results. You'll notice that the two progressive non-self-funders, Jay Chen and Sam Jammal, scored just over 61% between them. Cisneros, the Republican lottery winner pretending to be a Democrat-- and pretending to be somehow qualified to be a congressional candidate-- has already spent $243,798 (mostly on consultants who are laughing their asses off on the way to the bank), for which he got one vote (1)-- or 1.8% of the votes. Mai-Khanh Tran, the other candidate the DCCC persuaded to run in CA-39 instead of in her home district, spent $115,389 for which she too got one vote. Andy Thorburn, whose campaign at least makes good videos, has spent $151,224 and he got two (2) votes, AKA, 3.5%. Is this sad or what?

You may be wondering what a pre-endorsement conference is. It's basically another opportunity for California Democrats to show the rest of the country how utterly dysfunctional they are as a party and how lucky they were that a Republican governor declared war on Hispanics, who now make up close to 40% of the state's population. These are the rules: The California Democratic Party (hereafter "CDP") Pre-Endorsement Conferences are held locally in each CDP Region in which the Assembly Districts, Senate Districts, and Congressional Districts are located to issue endorsement recommendations. Those who are eligible to vote in the CDP Pre-Endorsement Conferences include: 

Democratic State Central Committee Members (CDP Convention Delegates) including
Winners of ADEM elections
Representatives of County Democratic Parties

Democratic Elected Officials or the Highest Vote-Getting Democrat (HVGD)
Appointments by Elected Officials or HVGDs (if registered to vote in the appointer’s district)
Appointments by Legislative/Congressional Leaders or CDP Statewide Officers
Ex-Officios including Members of the DNC and Representatives from CDC and CYD
[Notice all the opportunities for rigging in favor of the corrupt establishment candidates and, especially, incumbents.]

Regular Members of the County Democratic Parties
Representatives of the Democratic Clubs
Another rigged rule: "Incumbent Members of Congress (as well as incumbent state legislators) are automatically placed on Convention consent calendar unless 20% of the delegates in the legislative district file an objection 10 days prior to the CDP Pre-Endorsement Conference. The only congressional candidate who was not endorsed this weekend was conservative crook Ami Bera, an embarrassment to American politics and the Democratic Party and the state of California. Next step on the way to a convoluted state party endorsement will be at the end of February for candidates who received between 50% and 70% of the pre-endorsement votes. There are 3 more pages of rules governing all this crapand reading it often gets normal people to quit the Democratic Party and become a Decline to State Voter.

So this is what happened in the Republican-held districts this weekend:
CD-01 (Doug LaMalfa)- no consensus
CD-04 (Tom McClintock)- moves to endorsing caucus
CD-08 (Paul Cook)- moves to endorsing caucus
CD-10 (Jeff Denham)- no consensus
CA-21 (David Valadao)- Emilio Huerta endorsed
CD-22 (Devin Nunes)- Andrew Janz, the guy who said his 2 main motivations for running are to make sure the death penalty is used more often and that the 2nd Amendment is protected, endorsed
CD-23 (Kevin McCarthy)- boycotted by leading candidate, Wendy Reed, on principle, so a silly vanity candidate, Tatiana Matta, was endorsed
CD-25 (Steve Knight)- After a poll came out showing Dave Caforio would lose to Knight again but Katie Hill would beat him, Caforio was endorsed (of course)
CD-39 (Ed Royce)- see graphic above-- but... no consensus
CD-42 (Ken Calvert)- Julia Peacock endorsed
CD-45 (Mimi Walters)- moves to endorsing caucus
CD-48 (Dana Rohrabacher)- moves to endorsing caucus
CD-49 (Darrell Issa)- moves to endorsing caucus
CD-50 (Duncan Hunter)- Ammar Campa-Najar endorsed
Goal ThermometerJust confirmed: Ian Masters will be hosting a special UCLA/Hammer forum on Monday evening, February 5, at the Hammer Museum.  The topic for the evening is flipping red seats in California and the discussion will feature 3 candidates who are working on doing just that: Doug Applegate, northern San Diego County and southern coastal Orange County, Katie Porter, southern and central Orange County and Katie Hill, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley. The forum begins at 7:30 PM and goes until 9. Note that this is not a fundraiser, although... if you want to contribute to Doug or either of both of the two Katies-- or any of the other California progressive congressional candidates-- you can do it by tapping on the Blue America "Bluer California" thermometer on the right.

Labels: , , ,

Can The Democrats Win Back Ohio?


Ohio is the ultimate swing state and its 18 electoral votes are highly prized. After 1960-- when Ohio got it wrong and backed Nixon over Kennedy-- Ohio has been part of the winning coalition in every presidential race. In the 5 most recent Ohio results, George Bush beat Gore 49.97% to 46.46% and then beat Kerry 50.81% to 48.71%. Then Obama beat McCain 51.50% to 46.91% and beat Romney 50.67% to 47.69%. In 2016 they swung over to Trump, who beat Hillary 52.05% to 43.51%. She barely contested the state and her status quo message was all wrong anyway.

But looking at the state legislature, you'd never guess Ohio was so evenly divided. The super-gerrymandered state Senate has 24 Republicans and just 9 Democrats and the state House has 66 Republicans and just 33 Democrats. The congressional districts were carefully designed to send a disproportionate number of Republicans to Congress. Right now, Ohio's House delegation includes 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats. One senator is a Republican, Rob Portman (who was reelected in 2016 with 3,118,567 votes (58%) against Ted Strickland, an incredibly weak establishment Democrat, with 1,996,908 (37.2%). The other senator is a Democrat, Sherrod Brown, who was reelected in 2012 with 2,762,690 (50.7%) against Josh Mandel with 2,435,712 (44.7%). Brown is up for reelection in November. But the governor is termed out sp his seat is up for grabs on the same day. Can the Democrats take it back?

It's likely that Attorney General Mike DeWine will be the Republican nominee with Secretary of State Jon Husted as his running mate. The most recent poll shows that the Democrats will likely nominate Richard Cordray with former Congresswoman Betty Sutton as his running mate. All the Beltway prognosticators predict a Republican win but the most recent poll is too close to call-- DeWine 45% and Cordray 44%. The political climate in Ohio is turning blue because of Señor Trumpanzee's gigantic unpopularity. The newest pollsters point out that Trumpanzee "is wildly unpopular with Democrats at 13 percent approval and 84 percent disapproval. His approval with independents is also abysmal, with 39 percent supporting and 53 percent opposing. In Ohio independents determine election results and no one expects any of the Republican candidates to distance themselves from Trump at any point during the 2018 cycle, largely because of his 75 percent approval rating among Republicans. "Instead, despite his overall popularity, the Republican primary candidates have shunned Kasich, trying to distance themselves from the governor. At a forum in October, the then-four candidates couldn't muster any support for Kasich." Kasich's Lt. Governor, Mary Taylor, who has been endorsed by Kasich, "has actively tried to shed herself of any connection to the governor, claiming that he actually endorsed DeWine."

On the congressional field-- in spite of a wave election coming and in spite of competitive races at the top of the ticket-- the moribund Ohio Democratic Party has failed to recruit a single top tier candidate for any of the dozen red congressional seats. In fact Bill Johnson (OH-06-- PVI R+16) doesn't have any opponent at all. Other than Betsy Rader (OH-14), Rick Neal (OH-15)  and Ken Harbarbaugh (OH-07), none of the Democratic congressional candidates have raised enough money to run even the most bare-bones competitive races.
OH-01- Steve Chabot raised $328,219 to the top Democrat's $9,810
OH-02- Brad Wenstrump raised $490,378 to $7,543
OH-04- Jim Jordan raised $251,507 to $1,983
OH-05- Bob Latta raised $489,529 to $48,187
OH-06- Bill Johnson-- no opponent
OH-07- Bob Gibbs raised $369,236 to Ken Harbaugh's $418,694
OH-08- Warren Davidson [incomplete information]
OH-10- Michael Turner raised $419,678 to $0
OH-12 (Open) no one from either party is reporting much money yet
OH-14- David Joyce raised $871,810 to Betsy Rader's $258,178
OH-15- Steve Stivers raised $1,634,248 to Rick Neal's $122,183
OH-16 (Open)- Top raising Republicans Antony Gonzalez raised $626,770 and Tom Patton ($278,351) to Democrat Aaron Godfrey's $2,164

Labels: , ,

Special Election Alert: Tennessee


Tennessee's 14th senatorial district includes all or part of 5 cities: Ardmore, Fayetteville, Lewisburg, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville and all or part of Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore and Rutherford counties. The median household income is $45,900, somewhat higher than the state's median ($42,500). It's part of Scott DesJarlais' congressional district, which has a PVI of R+20. Trump won that congressional district 68.6% to 27.4%. This is a really red district-- and it's 82.5% white. The incumbent, Jim Tracy, resigned at the end of 2017 when Trump appointed him state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office. There's a special election coming up on March 13 pitting primary winners Gayle Jordan, a progressive Democrat, against right-wing extremist Shane Reeves. We asked Gayle to give us some idea of the kind of campaign she's running in a deep red area. Spoiler alert: it sure isn't the kind of Republican-lite campaign the Democratic establishment is always urging red-state Democrats to run. Below is her guest post.

Running Blue in a Red State
by Gayle Jordan

I’m a farmer, lawyer, mother, Ironman, and I’m running for state senate in District 14, composed of 5 counties from south of Nashville to the Alabama state line.

As the banners in the yards screamed in the 2016 election cycle: THIS IS TRUMP COUNTRY. Trump won in this district by 50 points.

Our Republican supermajority legislature has refused to expand Medicaid, not even bringing it to the floor for a vote. We have had 10 rural hospitals close in the 8 years the Republicans have held the supermajority.

We have no comprehensive infrastructure plan in a boom period, and a large number of our folks in the rural areas have no broadband.

Our schools face threats from vouchers and charter schools, our students are overtested, and our teachers are undervalued. Their union was busted in the 8 years the Republicans have been in power.

We have an opioid addiction epidemic that killed more Tennesseans than died by car accidents in 2014.

I’m a progressive, liberal, atheist, Democrat.

I believe our hospital closures will not cease until we provide healthcare for the 300,000 uninsured working folks in our district.

I believe public money belongs in public schools. Period.

I’m an advocate of cannabis legalization for treatment of our opioid problem, business and tax benefits, and criminal justice reform, as well as pain management and disease treatment.

I am a supporter of, and have been endorsed by, unions in my area.

We have serious issues facing us here in Tennessee. Democrats in my district are motivated and are phonebanking, canvassing, texting, emailing, and post carding daily, in every corner of our district.

Our primary was last Thursday. My opponent is a wealthy pharmacist, who has spent over $260,000 dollars on his campaign through a primary where both men attempted to out-Trump one another on TV, newspaper, and radio.

Goal ThermometerWe’ve seen Virginia, Alabama, and Oklahoma flip seats no one would have predicted. In Tennessee in December, in a district which shares a border with ours, our outstanding Democratic candidate closed the Trump gap to within 2 points, losing an 11,000 vote election by 300 votes.

We are outnumbered in our district 4 to 1. We had the worst voting statistics in the nation in 2016, ranking 50th in voter turnout. We recognize the steepness of the hill we must climb. We welcome help from every direction, and have been humbled and grateful for the support we’ve received from every corner of the country.

Labels: , , ,

Will Michigan Democrats Allow Themselves To Be Rescued By A Progressive In A District Bernie Won Decisively?


Michigan's 7th district is the southeast corner of the state, carefully gerrymandered by the Republicans to keep Lansing and Ann Arbor residents out of it. Most of the voters live in Jackson, Monroe, Eaton, Washtenaw and Lenawee counties. The district was definitely not Hillary country. The folks there wanted change and Bernie decisively won the primary. Trump then beat Hillary just as decisively. The PVI went from R+3 to R+7. The Democrats ran an especially bad candidate against weak incumbent Tim Walberg in 2016. Despite Bernie crushng Hillary in the primary, the brain surgeons at the DCCC decided they should run an utterly worthless establishment Blue Dog, Gretchen Driskell, virtually the opposite of Bernie. So she lost badly. Walberg beat her 183,549 (55.0%) to 133,697 (40.1%). Walberg raised $2,403,861 and Driskell raised $2,554,488. Pelosi's House Majority PAC wasted another $559,314 on the race and the DCCC thew in $96,200 before abandoning her as hopeless.

She was a dreadful candidate in every way, so, of course, EMILY's List and the Blue Dogs have endorsed her again. So far this cycle Walberg has raised $654,797 and Driskoll has brought in $233,218 and the DCCC hasn't decided what to do.

An exciting new candidate just jumped into the race, Steve Friday. Sam Pernick, chairman of the Michigan Young Democrats, Liano Sharon and Sue Vasquez wrote a post for Michigan Progressive and offered DWT the opportunity to publish it. We gladly accepted.
Steve Friday, a progressive organizer from Dexter, recently launched his campaign for US Congress in Michigan’s 7th district, seeking to unseat Republican Tim Walberg. Friday is a social worker, a US Air Force veteran, and an activist with many progressive organizations, including Indivisible, Ann Arbor for Revolution, and Michigan for Revolution. Friday is the second Democrat to enter the race for the 7th. He will face off in the August primary against Gretchen Driskell, who tried to unseat Walberg in 2016. Her campaign spent over $2.5 million dollars in the 2016 race and lost by 15 points.

At his campaign kickoff event,. Friday spoke about the economic challenges many are facing in Michigan. He said, “I think everyone here at some point in their lives has struggled to make ends meet. Worried about their car breaking down. Worried about paying medical bills. How many people have used a credit card to pay a medical bill, because if you don’t pay that bill, they’re going to report you to the credit card companies and your credit score will go down?“

Friday is running on a unique slogan: “Human First.” Friday said this means setting aside partisan blinders, and letting go of the personal attacks and baggage that comes with politics. Just treating one another with respect.

“I think that no matter who you are, and no matter what you bring to the table, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we all need to band together and work together to solve problems,” Friday said. “That’s what people are looking for.”

Friday’s first hurdle is the August primary against Gretchen Driskell. The primary pits the party’s rising progressive wing against its establishment wing.

Two years ago, Driskell’s campaign was considered one of the most promising by party insiders. She drew significant behind-the-scenes help from the Democratic Party in Michigan and nationally. A look at her recent donors this cycle shows significant establishment-democratic backing, with contributions from Loreen Powell Jobs (wife of the late Steve Jobs) and Democratic mega-donor Don Sussman. But it remains to be seen if the party establishment coalesces around her as they did in 2016. Instead, they may choose to focus on other races, like Michigan’s 8th and 11th congressional house seats.

That might be because despite strong backing in 2016, Driskell struggled to connect with voters. Walberg’s support of bad trade deals led her to attack him with the nickname “Trade Deal Tim” and urged voters to “Trade Him In.” The attacks fell flat.

Friday said that he and other progressive activists spoke to Driskell in early 2017 as part an organizing effort prior to the Democratic Party convention. They told her they would support her if she ran on a progressive platform and refused to take corporate money. She said “we’ll talk about it,” but the conversation never happened. When asked about her stance on taking corporate money at the 7th congressional district meeting in Adrian last October she replied, “We’ll deal with that after I get elected.”

Labels: , , , , , ,

Can Establishment Dems Lose 2 Senate Seats Not Even Republicans Were Hoping For?


Greg Giroux penned an essay for Bloomberg News, All Signs Point to Big Democratic Wins in 2018, which is a hell of a lot more reality-based than the tepid Beltway prognosticators who "think" the Democrats "may" win the 24 seats they need to take over the House again. That was last year's discussion. 12 months on, it's about how many Republicans will be left after the tsunami washes the party away. And is Beto's O'Rourke's second consecutive quarter of outraising Ted Cruz an indication that the Democrats are going to win the Senate as well? "History, demographics and the national mood," wrote Giroux, "are pointing to one conclusion about the 2018 congressional races: Democrats are well-positioned to bring one-party government in Washington under Donald Trump’s presidency to a screeching halt... Even if only one chamber flips to the Democrats, Trump’s ability to impose his agenda would be thwarted, and his administration almost certainly would find itself pinned down by investigations and subpoenas from congressional committees. An analysis by Bloomberg Government of historical data, election maps and public polling points to sweeping Democratic gains in the November election, when all 435 House seats and one-third of the Senate are on the ballot."
Republican pollster Lance Tarrance wrote in a Jan. 5 analysis for Gallup. “Trump’s 20-point approval deficit in recent Gallup polling does not bode well for him, in part because none of the past five presidents saw an increase in their approval rating in the year before their first midterm.”

...The off-year and special elections conducted since Trump took office underscore the Republican challenges.

Democrats won governors’ offices by wide margins in New Jersey and Virginia while also capturing Republican seats in both states’ legislatures, as suburban voters shifted to Democratic candidates. In Alabama, Doug Jones became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state in 25 years in a race that featured a scandal-tarred and controversial Republican who divided his own party, even though he had Trump’s endorsement.

“That’s three pretty big canaries in the coal mine that ought to warn you that you’re headed into a turbulent period in the next election,” Cole said.

...Democrats improved their showing in well-educated, historically Republican areas in the 2016 and 2017 elections, so some hard-fought races in the fall will be in the suburbs. Among the House districts that may be in play are those of Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance in New Jersey, John Culberson in the Houston area, Barbara Comstock in the Virginia suburbs near Washington, and Peter Roskam in the Chicago area.
Goal ThermometerFor various reasons-- primarily the GOP-oriented 2018 map-- Giroux is less sanguine about Democratic chances for a Senate takeover. All the Democratic red-state incumbents would have to win and the Democrats would have to pull off wins from two of the worst Senate candidates in recent history-- both handpicked by Chuck Schumer who pretty much always picks losers-- putrid Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and tepid, pointless Nevada nothing-burger Jacky Rosen. Or one of them plus someone the DSCC and the Democratic DC establishment has been ignoring, Beto O'Rourke. You can contribute to Beto's campaign-- and the other Senate candidates endorsed by Blue America-- by tapping on the ActBlue "Senate 2018" thermometer on the right.

But that doesn't include unexpected stumbles from Senate Democrats that could give the Republicans opportunities they shouldn't even have. Here are two: Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Trump won-- barely, and possibly with actual Russian vote tampering in 3 counties, Luzerne, Erie and Northampton-- Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes 2,970,733 to 2,926,441. That's 44,292 votes (0.72%). Casey is anti-Choice. He always votes that way-- as he did yesterday when he supported the Republicans' very extremist and probably unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban. (Also crossing the aisle on that one were Joe Manchin or West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.) How turned off will parts of the Democratic base in Pennsylvania be by Casey's little reminder that he's as anti-Choice as any hateful Republican patriarchal goon who wants to interfere with women's ability to make their own health choices? How can Democrats denounce the GOP for voting that way when Casey and 2 other Democrats also did? Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowsky voted with the Democrats against the bill. Last time Casey faced the voters (2012) he beat Republican Tom Smith 3,021,364 (53.7%) to 2,509,132 (44.6%) and took all 3 counties the Kremlin tampered with for Trump, Erie, Luzerne and Northampton.

If the measure passes and is signed-- Ryan already got it passed by the House-- anyone performing an abortion on a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant would face a fine, up to five years’ jail time, or both. According to Planned Parenthood something like 99% of abortions occur before 21 weeks of pregnancy and those later on often involve severe fetal abnormalities or serious health risks to the woman.

New Jersey has a completely different nightmare brewing for the Democrats. It is not a swing state; it's a pretty safely blue state with a PVI of D+7. Hillary beat Trumpanzee there, winning their 16 electoral votes 2,148,278 (55.45%) to 1,601,933 (41.45%). So in 2012 Menendez, always a shady character but before the most recent scandals that rocked the politics of New Jersey, beat Republican Joe Kyrillos 1,987,680 (58.9%) to 1,329,534 (39.4%). Should be a safe seat, right? And it would be-- except for Menendez, who is adamantly refusing to resign.

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Tom Moran asked his readers to "try to envision Sen. Robert Menendez trying to manage his daily calendar when he's juggling his second trial on corruption charges with his campaign for re-election. Will he march in parades? Or will he attend the trial every day to save his neck?" He points out how dangerous-- actually he said "ridiculous"-- it is "in the Trump era, when a single Senate seat can tip the balance of power."
New Jersey voters haven't sent a Republican senator to Washington for half a century, and with Trump soiling the brand so badly, Democrats could win by picking a name out of the phone book.

Their only chance to lose this seat is to do exactly what they are doing-- rallying around Menendez with a unanimity that virtually ensures he will win the primary race on June 5, provided he's not sent to prison first.

Could Menendez win in November if he escapes conviction? Probably. The Cook Political Report rates him as the favorite today, even with the baggage. But that could change.

...Republicans have not chosen a candidate yet, but they are giddy about the prospects of Bob Hugin, a self-made millionaire and former Marine who told county chairmen recently that he would start the bidding by spending $20 million of his own money, and hopes to raise $40 million more, according to reliable sources in the GOP.

Imagine the flood of 30-second TV spots that money will buy. Menendez on a private jet to a luxury resort in the Caribbean, no charge. Menendez at a luxury hotel in Paris with a young woman, also gratis. Menendez hiding these gifts, despite the rules. Menendez doing favors for the man who paid for it all, his best pal, Salomon Melgen, a rich old man with a fondness for stray models, and now a convicted felon.

"Right now, a sitting Senator is vulnerable, and that creates an opportunity for us," says the state GOP chairman, Doug Steinhardt.

Think about the stakes. The repeal of Obamacare failed by one vote in the Senate, and the horrific tax bill passed by just three. Are Democratic leaders really that reckless?

Maybe not. Because there is a Plan B floating out there.

It goes like this: If Menendez is convicted, or so damaged that he's likely to lose, they will replace him, just as they replaced Sen. Bob Torricelli when he was under federal investigation during his 2002 re-election campaign.

Who would replace Menendez? Here's the leading theory among a long list of Democrats I asked over several weeks:

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st) would replace Menendez, answering a top priority of his brother George Norcross, who controls the biggest Democratic faction [faction?? The Star-Ledger isn't allowed to say "Machine," let alone "corrupt Machine?"] in the state Legislature.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) would leave the Statehouse to fill that vacant seat in Congress.

That would open Sweeney's top spot in the state Senate, which would go to someone loyal to Murphy, probably from northern New Jersey, for regional balance.
Can't get any worse? How about this stinky little scenario?
New Jersey politics are a mess. Chris Christie left the governor’s office stinking of corruption. Sen. Bob Menendez will seek re-election in November, less than a year after a hung jury declined to acquit him of bribery charges; a repeat trial is in the offing.

Menendez is among the least popular senators in the country, with an approval rating of 29 percent. He’s likely to be re-elected anyway, because New Jersey’s Republican Party is in shambles. Christie left office as the least popular governor in the country, with an approval rating of 19 percent. He won re-election in 2013 with 60 percent of the vote. His lieutenant governor and two-time running mate, Kim Guadagno, lost her race to replace him with just 42 percent of the vote.

...The Libertarian Party ought to take a stab at Menendez’s seat. And their candidate ought to be Alan Dershowitz... he isn’t a run-of-the-mill Democrat. He’s a member of a rare breed of originalist Democrats who oppose judicial activism and defend the inalienability of even the least trendy constitutional rights. He voted for Hillary Clinton in ’16 and prefers Joe Biden in 2020, but has on several occasions come to Trump’s philosophical aid. He defended the legality of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Jim Comey. He defended the legality of Trump’s travel ban. He’s defended Trump’s allegations of bias in the FBI’s Russia investigation, and he’s attacked the left for trying to delegitimize Trump’s presidency through innuendo and tele-psychiatry.

Dershowitz told Politico that he’s lost seven pounds since finding himself forced to defend Trump. He says his liberal friends don’t invite him to dinner anymore. No doubt John Adams had a similar experience when he agreed to defend the British soldiers who killed five Americans at the Boston Massacre. (That sounds hyperbolic-- and it is-- but really, does the half of the country that hates Trump hate him less than Colonial Boston hated those soldiers?)

All that said, the tsunami keeps on building. Another powerful close Ryan ally House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) made it clear yesterday that he's another rat deserting the sinking ship. He's the 9th House committee chairman to be resigning rather than face defeat in November. I've never seen anything like that before. And it's likely Ryan himself will soon announce he wants to spend more time with his own family. The Democratic establishment, by the way, have a conservative piece of crap they're running, someone sure to disappoint the base and lose the seat in the nest midterm, New Dem/EMILY's List garbage candidate Mikie Sherrill, a Wall Street criminal the DCCC is trying to pass off as a great and valiant military heroine. The only nice thing I've ever heard about her from New Jersey activists is that she probably won't turn out as bad as Josh Gottheimer... probably.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,