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As usual, Salena Zito’s latest column provides the best insight into another election that’s caught the public’s attention. This time, Ms. Zito is writing about Tuesday’s special election in Ohio’s 12th district. The special election pits Democrat Danny O’Connor against Republican Troy Balderson.

In her article, Ms. Zito wrote that Vice President Mike Pence hosted a rally for Troy Balderson on July 30 before writing that “Pence left no doubt in the packed event hall in the center of picturesque Newark. He repeated the Aug. 7 date no less than a dozen times. He even made the attendees repeat it back to him.”

The question now remaining unanswered is whether Trump’s voters will turn out in sufficient numbers to propel Balderson to victory. This provides some insight into that question:

Outside the Pence event, Democratic activists, with signs covering every issue imaginable, chant slogans and attempt to engage with GOP supporters. One gentleman with a bull-horn chants, “Balderson hates puppies,” at the folks trying to enter.

“The Trump hysteria kind of gets old,” Wade Rogers says. “Especially when you walk up here to come in line, the first time you’ve ever been this political — where we’ve come to a rally of any sort — and when you hear the opposition over there screaming, ‘Troy Balderson hates puppies.’ I mean, to me, that’s people that’s out of sync with normalcy.”

This provides more insight into the outcome of Tuesday’s race:

Wade Rogers, who had never been very political, says he knows what is at stake, not just for this special election, but also to show up in November. He addresses the question on many reporters’ minds: Is he satisfied enough with the results of the Trump presidency to take the time to vote for a member of Congress, not once, but twice this year?

Absolutely,” he says with a broad grin. “We need to keep showing up. It’s important that the president has a Republican Congress to help pass his agenda for the next two years. You don’t take these things for granted,” he said.

Statements like that tell me that the Trump Brigade won’t let Troy Balderson down. Let’s hear from Mr. Balderson himself:

These rallies don’t guarantee a Balderson victory Tuesday night. That being said, the fact that Trump’s supporters understand the importance of this special election is a positive sign for Balderson and the White House. According to Jai Chabria, this is an affluent district:

This is the type of district that isn’t filled with tons of Trump voters. If Balderson wins this race by 5+ points Tuesday nights, that will be quite the positive sign for Republicans.

When he’s campaigning, Conor Lamb attempts to sound like a Lindsey Graham Republican. One trip to his campaign website priorities page, though, exposes him as a hardline progressive.

On the subject of health care, Lamb says “I believe that every American has a right to go see a doctor when they’re sick, and that means every American has a right to health insurance they can afford. The Affordable Care Act has flaws, but it has provided affordable coverage to more than a million Pennsylvanians who were previously uninsured. Our representatives in Congress should be working together to build on that progress, fix what isn’t working, and make the law better. Instead, Republicans in Congress spent the past year trying to take health insurance away from people with no plan to replace it. Now, costs are likely to go up for many of us, especially those with preexisting conditions. That is unacceptable, and it’s a failure of leadership.”

The ACA isn’t “flawed.” It’s a disaster that, until tax reform was passed, forced people to buy a product or pay a hefty fine if they didn’t buy health insurance. Further, Republicans didn’t spend “the past year trying to take health insurance away from people.” They gave people the option to not buy insurance if they didn’t like their options. Hopefully, sometime soon, we’ll get rid of QHPs, aka Qualified Health Plans, which is how Democrats forced people to buy insurance policies they didn’t like.

On energy, Lamb is wishy-washy at best:

In short, Lamb isn’t as hardline progressive as Bernie Sanders but he isn’t who he’s pretending to be, either.

While my constitutional position on Lt. Gov. Fischbach hasn’t changed, Don Davis’ article reminded me why I despise Sen. Bakk’s political tactics. It’s why Gov. Dayton didn’t trust Bakk. According to Davis’ article, Bakk said “he wants to time a lawsuit so the court can remove Fischbach as senator when Democrats can best elect a replacement for her in the central Minnesota district. If that happened, Democrats would take control. Fischbach said she is confident she can win her district again, if a court orders he removed from the Senate. But Bakk said Democrats have a candidate waiting who is ‘a good fit for the district.'”

That good fit must be Larry Hosch. He’s the only candidate who’d have a prayer in that district. If Hosch isn’t the candidate, then Sen. Bakk is just blowing smoke. The DFL’s bench in that district is virtually nonexistent. From what I’ve been told, Hosch’s wife is from Paynesville, which would be important to winning a special election.

That being said, Hosch announce his retirement from the House the minute that Rockville was added to his House district in 2012. Rockville consistently gives the GOP House candidate 80% of their votes. The minute the redistricting map was announced, Hosch essentially admitted that he’d get his butt kicked if he ran for re-election. What part of that sounds like Rep. Hosch is “a good fit for the district”? What part of this looks competitive?

FYI- HD-13A used to be Hosch’s district. He would’ve been lucky to lose by only 15 points if he’d chosen to run. Sen. Bakk can yap all he wants about good fits for the district but the numbers tell a different story. Whoever the DFL would run would get annihilated.

The point is that Sen. Bakk is either incredibly stupid or he’s playing a game. I don’t think he’s that stupid but I might be wrong.

In the special election to replace State Sen. Dan Schoen, Karla Bigham leads Denny McNamara by 607 votes with 33 of 34 precincts reporting.

In the other special election, Jeremy Munson trounced Melissa Wagner by 1,285 votes. The margin was almost 20 percentage points.

Republican friends in SD-54, today’s the day we can elect Denny McNamara. Today’s the day Republicans can solidify their Senate majority. In fact, a McNamara victory gives Republicans a chance to hand Gov. Dayton and the DFL a major defeat.

First, McNamara is excellent on environmental issues. He isn’t a squish on these issues. He’d bring lots of grit to those issues, which is a big deal considering how many jobs-related issues are tied by the DFL to the issue. In Minnesota, the biggest jobs fights are tied directly to the environment. Electing McNamara will give Republicans a better chance of winning those fights.

Next, Jason Lewis supports McNamara. Jason even campaigned with him:


Sen. Dan Hall wants Denny McNamara as a colleague:


Finally, a McNamara victory gives Republicans at least 34 senators regardless of the outcome of the Fischbach fiasco. Think about this possibility: The court rules that Sen. Fischbach can’t keep her Senate seat. Gov. Dayton sets the date for the Fischbach special election. Fischbach resigns as Lt. Gov. With McNamara in place, Republicans elect a DFL senator from a swing district, perhaps from David Hann’s or Dave Thompson’s former districts. That gives Republicans a great shot at recapturing another seat in the Senate. After Fischbach wins her special election, combined with a McNamara victory and another victory from Hann’s or Thompson’s district, Republicans would have a 36-31 majority instead of the 34-33 majority they had last year.

That’s a long way of saying it’s important (imperative?) to get out and vote for Denny McNamara today.

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It’s difficult to defend Michelle Fischbach’s decision to attempt to serve as both Gov. Dayton’s Lieutenant Governor and the state senator representing SD-13. How can a supposedly educated woman think that the DFL operatives on the Minnesota Supreme Court will side with her, not with the man who appointed them?

Republicans point to a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from 1898. At that time, the lieutenant governor was elected apart from the governor. Further, why would anyone think that it’s possible to serve simultaneously in the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch? In March, 2016, I wrote a post titled Is the IRRRB unconstitutional? In that post, I cited an audit report from Jim Nobles, who wrote that “State statutes on IRRRB’s governance structure are vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.”

That’s because the IRRRB’s board is composed of Iron Range legislators who have the authority to appropriate money to specific projects. The IRRRB also is an executive branch agency whose commissioner is appointed by the governor. Simply put, you can’t serve in 2 different branches of government.

Sen. Fischbach should know this. She’s fighting a fight she can’t win. Apparently, she hasn’t figured that out yet. Here’s what she said:

I was elected by the constituents of Senate District 13, and I have a commitment to represent them in the senate.

She ran for and got elected to be the Senate President. Anyone with a bit of understanding of Minnesota’s constitution knows that the Senate President is part of the line of succession to the governorship. If Sen. Fischbach wanted to guarantee that she represent the citizens of SD-13 for the full 4-year term, then she shouldn’t have run for Senate President.

If Lt. Gov. Fischbach cares about the Constitution, she should resign from the Senate this afternoon. The minute Gov. Dayton announces the date for the special election for filling her empty Senate seat in SD-13, she should then resign as Lt. Gov., then immediately start campaigning to regain her Senate seat.

By attempting to wear both hats, she’s causing a constitutional crisis that might hurt Republicans this session and that will cost taxpayers tons of money to pay for the lawsuit that she’ll lose. Apparently, Sen. Fischbach thinks that the Constitution doesn’t apply to her. She’s wrong. She should resign before she hurts her constituents.

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Thanks to a little research help from some loyal readers of LFR and thanks to some clever thinking of my own, I’ve figured out a way to turn the tables on Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk. First, Sen. Fischbach needs to get sworn in as lieutenant governor the minute Tina Smith is sworn in as Minnesota’s U.S. senator. Next, Fischbach needs to resign as lieutenant governor by the end of this week.

Thanks to some research from a loyal reader of LFR, I’m able to publish as fact that state statute 204D.19 subd. 2 says “The special election shall be held as soon as possible, consistent with the notice requirements of section 204D.22, subdivision 3(The county auditor of a county in which a special election is to be held shall direct the clerk of each municipality in which the election is to be held to post a notice of the special primary and special election at least seven days before the special primary and at least 14 days before the special election in the manner provided in sections 204B.33 and 204B.34.), but in no event more than 35 days after the issuance of the writ. A special election must not be held during the four days before or the four days after a holiday as defined in section 645.44, subdivision 5 (Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday(2/19/18), the third Monday in February).”

Notice that the statute says the special election shall be held as soon as possible. It doesn’t say that it should be held as soon as possible. The instant that Fischbach resigns as senator, Gov. Dayton is obligated to call a special election “as soon as possible.”

At that point, the Senate will have 33 Republicans and 32 Democrats. It will stay that way until the special election is held to replace Sen. Schoen in the Senate. If Karla Bigham wins, the Senate is tied with 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. It’s worth noting that this is the best the DFL can hope for. Things would get much worse for the DFL if Denny McNamara wins. That would give Republicans a 34-32 majority. When the special election is held to replace Sen. Fischbach, Republicans will win that seat handily. At that point, Republicans would either have a 35-32 majority or a 34-33 majority.

Either way, Republicans would have a majority going into the start of the 2018 session. At that point, Republicans could elect any DFL senator to be the President of the Senate. Presumably, Republicans could elect the most vulnerable DFL senator as the President of the Senate. At that point, the DFL wouldn’t have a say in the matter. There’s nothing to prevent Republicans from naming someone like Matt Little to be the President of the Senate. That means Little would assume the responsibility of being Gov. Dayton’s lieutenant governor. Remember that this used to be Dave Thompson’s seat. I’d think that’d give Republicans a fantastic opportunity of flipping that seat.

The DFL is intent on flipping the Senate from a Republican majority to a DFL majority. They’ve made that perfectly clear. Why shouldn’t Republicans use this opportunity to their political advantage? That was the DFL’s intent. If Republicans beat the DFL at their own game, that’s the DFL’s fault.

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The DFL has made it clear that they hope to retake the majority in the Minnesota Senate by ‘capitalizing’ on Sen. Franken’s impending resignation. The bad news for them is that their too-clever-by-half strategy is destined for failure.

The Minnesota Constitution states quite clearly that the president of the Senate will replace the lieutenant governor if there’s a vacancy. In this instance, Sen. Fischbach would replace Tina Smith as lieutenant governor. Here’s where things start getting complicated. The minute Sen. Fischbach becomes Lt. Gov. Fischbach, Gov. Dayton has to call a special election to fill Fischbach’s seat. The minute that special election is announced, Fischbach has announced that she’ll resign as Lt. Gov., then file to run for the seat she still holds.

Thanks to Sen. Franken’s disgusting behavior, the next step potentially gets messy. With a 33-33 tie in the Senate, the DFL has made clear that they wouldn’t vote for a DFL politician to become the Senate President. Their goal is to become the majority party. Period. They won’t achieve that goal. Period. That’s my prediction and I’d bet the proverbial ranch on it. The DFL doesn’t stand a snowball’s prayer in hell of flipping Sen. Fischbach’s seat:

But their hopes for a majority would then depend on winning a special election for Fischbach’s seat — something Republicans scoff at. She won the conservative district by more than 37 percentage points in 2016. And Fischbach told KSTP-TV she’ll run for her seat in another special election if she’s forced out of office.

This would become moot, however, if Republicans flip Sen. Schoen’s seat in a Feb. 12 special election:

The Feb. 12 special election in Cottage Grove is to replace Democratic Sen. Dan Schoen, who resigned last month after sexual harassment allegations. The district has been in Democratic hands for more than a decade, but Republicans have made inroads in the area and recruited a longtime former House member to run.

That longtime House member is Denny McNamara and he’s a great fit for the district. Republicans should get behind McNamara for a couple reasons. First, flipping that seat guarantees that Republicans maintain their majority in the Senate at least until 2020. Further, while McNamara isn’t a hardline conservative, he’s a reliable vote on the important issues. I’ll take a reliable majority over a purist minority 100% of the time. In fact, that isn’t a difficult decision. But I digress.

If Republicans suddenly gain a 34-32 majority, Gov. Dayton’s and Sen. Bakk’s plans immediately get thwarted. There’s nothing I’d enjoy better than seeing their too-clever-by-half strategy fail miserably. Any Republican that doesn’t appreciate that needs to rethink their priorities and motivations.

In November, let’s topple the DFL’s sick plans by defeating Tina Smith, flipping Tim Walz’s seat, replacing Gov. Dayton with a Republican, re-electing Jason Lewis and maintaining a Republican majority in the Minnesota House.

Before getting into this post, let me state without hesitation or equivocation that I won’t defend Roy Moore’s disgusting behavior. Further, I find these women’s stories credible. Finally, I find Judge Moore’s replies to the reporters’ questions to be shifting, defensive and filled with platitudes.

John Kass’s column starts by saying “There is a cost to defending Moore. Don’t kid yourselves that there is no cost to it.” Kass continues, saying “But as long as he fights this, even as more women come out with their accounts of what happened years ago and reports surface about how Moore, in his 30s, trolled shopping malls for teen-age girls, there is the temptation for some in the GOP to defend him.”

Don’t count me as one of Moore’s defenders. I won’t defend the indefensible. Based on the steady stream of credible reports of Moore’s behavior, it isn’t difficult to believe that he’s a pervert attempting to hide behind his faith. It’s a disgusting sight for me, especially as a person of faith.

To his credit, Sean Hannity has issued an ultimatum to Judge Moore. I join with Sean Hannity in this ultimatum:

It’s being charitable to say that Judge Moore’s answers have been inconsistent. Frankly, I think he’s been outright dishonest. Meanwhile, Steve Bannon has defended Judge Moore, hinting that the MSM is trying to destroy a conservative. First, let’s admit that Judge Moore isn’t the first conservative that the MSM has attempted to destroy. Let’s also admit that it’s possible that they have a natural anti-conservative bias and still be honest.

When Judge Moore denied ever knowing the then-16-year-old who accused him of rape, I was skeptical, mostly because she was represented by Gloria Allred. That skepticism was erased, though, when the woman produced a yearbook with Judge Moore’s signature attached to it.

He calls all this a lie, threatens to sue The Washington Post and says he’s the victim of the Democrats and the establishment Republicans. His answers seem incomplete and remarkably thin. He signed his name in a girl’s yearbook? He can’t remember the name of the restaurant where he met one of them, where an alleged assault took place?

If Steve Bannon continues defending the indefensible, that’s his right. It’s also stupid. By defending the indefensible, he’s destroying his credibility and the candidates he’s supporting. In the end, that might be Mr. Bannon’s only gift to Republicans during the 2018 campaign cycle.

Republicans have done the right thing in distancing themselves from Moore. Even if they lose that seat to a Democrat, they’ve still done the right thing. This is one of those times when political considerations just aren’t the most important considerations in a person’s life.

It’s time for Moore and Bannon to exit the stage. That’s because they’re both disgusting people who are indefensible.

I just received an email from Joe Davis, the executive director of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, thanking me for helping persuade Inge Thulin, the CEO of 3M, to resign from President Trump’s Manufacturing Council. Davis insists that this is a major victory. It isn’t. The average person couldn’t care less about these councils. They’re most interested in whether the economic future looks bright and whether their kids will have jobs when they get out of school. Nonetheless, Thulin tried spinning it in a statement. Thulin said “I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values…After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals.”

Why should I care if Thulin, or any other CEO for that matter, is offended? Truthfully, it’s painfully obvious that Mr. Thulin is playing a political game to avoid the wrath of liberal activists protesting his company’s products. It’s probably the right thing to do from a financial standpoint but it’s still caving to unprincipled activists. Here’s Thulin’s statement:

If Davis wants to think this is a big victory, that’s fine with me. It isn’t like ABM has had a great election victory in Minnesota recently. In 2014, Republicans got outspent decisively but still flipped the Minnesota House of Representatives. In 2016, Republicans widened their margin in the House and flipped the State Senate. Rumor has it that ABM is thinking about changing their logo to this:

The other logo under consideration is this:

Here’s my statement to Mr. Davis: Pop the cork on that champagne. Celebrate those moral victories. Savor them. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep telling yourself that it’s just a matter of time before people come to their senses.

In the meantime, Republicans will keep winning elections, not just moral victories.