Wednesday, September 23, 2020

NFL Week 3

 41 Days Until Election Day

Overall Results: 17-15 (53%)


1. Dolphins (0-2) at Jaguars (1-1)

2. Texans (0-2) at Steelers (2-0)

3. Bengals (0-2) at Eagles (0-2)

4. 49ers (1-1) at Giants (0-2)

5. Raiders (2-0) at Patriots (1-1)

6. Titans (2-0) at Vikings (0-2)

7. Washington (1-1) at Browns (1-1)

8. Rams (2-0) at Bills (2-0)

9. Bears (2-0) at Falcons (0-2)

10. Panthers (0-2) at Chargers (1-1)

11. Jets (0-2) at Colts (1-1)

12. Cowboys (1-1) at Seahawks (2-0)

13. Buccaneers (1-1) at Broncos (0-2)

14. Lions (0-2) at Cardinals (2-0)

15. Packers (2-0) at Saints (1-1)

16. Chiefs (2-0) at Ravens (2-0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

NFL Week 2 Results

 42 Days Until Election Day


1. Bengals (0-1) at Browns (0-1) L 1

2. Jaguars (1-0) at Titans (1-0) W 1
3. Panthers (0-1) at Buccaneers (0-1) L 2
4. Broncos (0-1) at Steelers (1-0) W 2
5. Rams (1-0) at Eagles (0-1) L 3
6. 49ers (0-1) at Jets (0-1) L 4
7. Bills (1-0) at Dolphins (0-1) W 3
8. Vikings (0-1) at Colts (0-1) W 4
9. Lions (0-1) at Packers (1-0) L 5
10. Falcons (0-1) at Cowboys (0-1) L 6
11. Giants (0-1) at Bears (1-0) W 5
12. Washington (1-0) at Cardinals (1-0) W 6
13. Chiefs (1-0) at Chargers (1-0) W 7
14. Ravens (1-0) at Texans (0-1) L 7
15. Patriots (1-0) at Seahawks (1-0) L 8

16. Saints (1-0) at Raiders (1-0) W 8

Week 2 Results: 8-8 (50%)

Overall Results: 17-15 (53%)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Governor Races Roundup

 43 Days Until Election Day

Delaware- Safe D (change from Likely D)

Indiana- Likely R

Missouri- Likely R

Montana- Leans R

New Hampshire- Likely R

North Carolina- Leans D (change from Likely D)

North Dakota- Safe R

Utah- Safe R

Vermont- Likely R

Washington- Safe D

West Virginia- Likely R

Governor races predicted:
3 D (2 Safe, 1 Lean)
8 R (2 Safe, 4 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total predictions:

23 Democrats (20 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Lean)
27 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 4 Likely, 2 Lean)

Republican net gain of 1

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Race of the Day- Wyoming U.S. Senate

Wyoming U.S. Senate

44 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

The final race of the cycle brings us to Wyoming, which in 2016 was the state that gave the highest percentage of the vote to Donald Trump. When four term Republican Senator Mike Enzi announced he would not seek another term, there was no doubt the seat would go to a Republican. The only matter of suspense would be whom would run.

In 2014, some thought Enzi would retire and Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former Vice President, whom herself had worked in the State Department, geared up to run for the seat. However, Enzi decided he was still running and the Republican Party was faced with the prospect of a major primary battle. Enzi said he had been told by Cheney that she would run run against him. She countered by saying that he must have confused her with Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, a fellow blonde.

In any event, the primary did not turn out to be what Cheney expected. Most of the political establishment in her state said they would stick by the incumbent, even despite their long friendships with her parents. Cheney and her sister got into a public tiff about same sex marriage. There was a perception that Cheney was acting like an overly entitled candidate and eventually she dropped out of the race, citing health issues with her young children.

Two years later, Cheney would run statewide and replace Congresswoman Lummis. The former two term state Treasurer was first elected to Congress in 2008 and regularly cruised to reelection. In 2014 however, her husband passed away and after a final term in the House, she announced her retirement. It seemed to make sense that Cheney would make another attempt for the lower Congressional office, once held by her father, and after facing serious primary opposition, won the seat and was off to Capitol Hill.

When Enzi did announce his retirement in this cycle, people immediately started to think of Cheney. She had however risen in the House to the position of Conference Chair, even as the number of Republican women in the body had shrunk to a sad number. Congresswoman Cheney was stuck with a choice to run for the Senate, where she could put more focus on foreign policy issues, or stay in the House leadership and perhaps be in line to one day become Speaker. Other Republicans were looking at the Senate race as well though, including former Congresswoman Lummis, who seemed prepared to run whether Cheney did or not. The current Congresswoman decided to not run for the Senate in favor of staying in the House, the same decision her father had made a few times. Most recently, she has had some run-ins with fellow House Republicans and the near future could see anything from her booted from the leadership to taking on those above her.

Lummis would become the frontrunner for the Senate seat now as she sought to become the first female U.S. Senator from the Equality State. Although she had considerable conservative backing, over 40 percent of Wyoming Republicans did vote for someone else in the June primary. The second place finisher, with just 13 percent was Converse County Commissioner Robert Short, who openly embraced the label of "centrist Republican" as Lummis ran as a staunch Trump ally. For her part, Cheney has at times been critical and at times supportive of Trump,whom definitely espouses views on some matters that would have been anathema to the Cheney Family.

Democrats also had a multi-candidate field for the right to finish second in November. The winner would be college professor and zoologist Merav Ben-David, whom I am pretty sure would be the first ever Israeli-American elected to the Senate. She took 41 percent in the primary, about 21 points ahead of community organizer Yana Ludwig, who ran as a democratic socialist. Businessman Nathan Wendt took 18 percent. 

Wyoming is solidly Republican and former Congresswoman Lummis can look forward to a promotion to the Senate after a four year hiatus.

U.S. Senate races predicted:

16 D (7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
19 R (8 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

51 Democrats (35 holdovers, 7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
49 Republicans (30 holdovers, 8 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Democrat net gain of 4

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Race for the White House # 90

45 Days Until Election Day

Campaign 2020 has taken on a sudden and severe new dimension.

Before yesterday, I might have used this space to talk about the politics regarding a potential Covid-19 vaccine or about  how recent Middle East peace accords between Israel and other nations are being misrepresented by partisans on both sides. I could have talked about two very different "Town Hall Meetings" last week involving Donald Trump and Joe Biden, both in terms of the behavior and attitudes of the candidates and how two different television networks approached the events. I might have also mentioned the contrast behind Joe Biden holding events generally without anyone from the public and the increasing amounts of "old fashioned" rallies featuring long and seemingly tireless remarks from Trump as the virus death toll in America reached over 200,000.

That changed yesterday though very early in the evening. We all knew that judicial politics and the probability of Supreme Court nominations were important in this election, but it became an immediate concern and pretty much the first thought that crossed my mind when I heard the news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away at age 87. I disagreed with her judicial philosophy but could not help but admire her, both for her story in how she came into her career, and in the amazing and valiant way she fought different forms of cancer for over 20 years. It has become somewhat of a "thing" on right-wing blogs to speculate about her death or to jokingly announce it. This time it was real though, and in many ways it is a shame that the end of her life itself is overlooked, by those on both the left and right, by what we all all know is coming politically. Her passing came just as Jews around America were beginning the observation of Rosh Hashanah. There is no doubt that Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer for women and for Jewish-Americans. We can certainly also remember back four years ago when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly. He had many differences with Ginsburg, but the two were colleagues and good friends personally. May both Justices Scalia and Ginsburg rest in peace.

Just as it was clear that Scalia would not wanted to have been replaced by Barack Obama, we know that Ginsburg remained on the Court, through health problems, because she did not want to be replaced by Trump. We heard almost immediately that she said in her final days that it was her "fervent wish" to not be replaced until a new President is installed. We can assume that means until the President is decided in the upcoming election. Let us be clear about one point. If Donald Trump is reelected in November, all of this fighting is academic. 

Supreme Court politics has been ugly and vicious for a while now and the fact is that Democrats have been mostly to blame from the unfairness and double standards leveled against Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, and others.. Now, Republicans, whom for most of this time have largely agreed to overlook differences with Democrat nominees like Ginsburg and vote to confirm them in the Senate, look poised to attempt something that would overshadow all in that regard that came before it. This all could could lead to an unprecedented political game of oneupmanship and the equivalent of "mutually assured destruction" all of which will be bad for the country. So, it has been an uneasy 24 hours, because I feel sadness for Justice Ginsburg's family and because I think we are headed towards even more division and tribalism that will last past Election Day and well into the term of whomever wins. Also, I am someone who would want to see the Court move to the right, and am disappointed that the party I was once proud to belong to is married to such an unprincipled and dangerous individual who seems highly likely to lose and take the entire "movement" down with him.

Hypocrisy is the theme of the season. The American people are cynical about politics and politicians for good reason. We saw the same kind of hypocrisy surrounding the Impeachments of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump but what will be happening now will take it to an even new level. In 2016, after the death of Scalia, some politicians flip flopped a bit, but now it's going to be a complete 180. For Senators and other politicians on both sides of the aisle, what was wrong four years ago will be right now and what was right four years ago will be wrong now and anyone who wants to complain about this shift will be told to sit down and shut up.

Not me though. I am just an "ordinary person", but I am entirely consistent on all of this. For that, I will never get any credit from partisans, but it is a matter of conscience for me. Way back in 1991, when George H.W. Bush was President, Senator Joe Biden, who played a big part in successfully defeating the nomination of Bork and having failed in stopping Thomas said that any theoretical Supreme Court vacancy which occurred in a Presidential election year should remain open until the Presidential vote was decided.

This would not come into play though until 2016, when in February, Justice Scalia died. Republicans quickly named it  the "Biden Rule" and said that Obama should not get to appoint the next Justice, but that the next President, either a Democrat or Republican should. That would wind up being Donald Trump, whom was helped in the general election by the votes of conservatives who voted for him, many solely for this reason. Democrats from Obama on down all basically screamed "bloody murder" though and claimed a seat was "stolen" when the GOP Senate majority refused to act on the nomination (whether genuine or not which is speculative and another story entirely) of Merrick Garland. Privately, Democrats admitted that if the roles were reversed at the time, they would have done exactly as Mitch McConnell and Republicans did.

I said on this blog on the day Scalia died that it would be wrong to fill his seat until we knew whom the next President would be. I was right then and am right now. Donald Trump should not get to fill the current vacancy until and unless he is reelected as President in just 45 days. Not many will join me in this consistency, even as score of Republican Senators said they would back then if the shoe was ever on the other foot. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, now Judiciary Committee Chairman, which cause him to play a big role in this, once said "hold the tape" and "use it against me" if he went back on his word. Now, he is locked in a tight race for reelection and the tapes are out there and will be used against him. I think he might very well lose his campaign because of it, yet he is almost surely going to go along with whatever Trump wants (at least publicly before the election.)

Again, if Trump wins (which I have long ago concluded I could never want, for reasons that go well beyond being complicit because of "good judicial picks"), this is all irrelevant. He should make the pick then and the Senate, either controlled by Democrats or Republicans should make sure the person is qualified, not corrupt, and not a total extremist, and if they pass, they should be confirmed. The fact though that so many on the right are calling for a rush on this means that despite what they will say publicly, they do not believe Trump can be reelected in November and beyond that also think it is likely that the Senate will flip from Republican to Democrat control. Any Republican who is acting frantic about this and calling for rapid action is giving away their tell.

As Americans learned of Ginsburg's death, Trump was speaking at a rally in Minnesota, in which he talked about Supreme Court vacancies and many other matters. Presumably he had no idea (and had reasonably gracious remarks about her when later informed by reporters)  I am somewhat surprised the audience which had cell phones did not yell this news out to him. Had Trump announced her death, many in the audience would have cheered  and it would have been an ugly disgraceful moment. Let us also not kid ourselves about the fact that plenty of Democrat partisans were openly giddy online and otherwise when Scalia died.

Trump and McConnell now state that they are moving forward quickly on a replacement. As Biden has said he would pick an African-American woman for the Court, Trump is now confirming it will be a woman, likely announced next week. Speculation is on Judge Amy Coney Barret, a conservative favorite or Barbara Lagoa, a Latina judge from Florida, whom many think could be used to help Trump in that must-win state. In any event, Trump supporters hope that such an important matter will be enough to energize turnout for him. However, I think those who are so concerned about the Court and willing to overlook all else are already with Trump. Instead, I think the energy over this vacancy is going to benefit Biden, in regards to those who were not enthusiastic about him as well as Senate Democrat candidates in marginal states. Of course, judicial politics in this day and age is about abortion above anything else. It is also true that Republicans are preparing to call Democrat opposition to Trump's nominee sexist or even racist if the nominee is not white. That is stealing a page from the Democrats' playbook to an extent, but it is not right in any regard.

I do not think there is anyway that a Trump appointee can be confirmed by the Senate before Election Day, although many want this as fast-tracked as possible. Instead, this is likely to be a massive political brouhaha in the time after the election but before the new Congress is sworn in on January 3. We thought this time would just be about Trump screaming fraud and perhaps threatening to not leave the White House, but now it is about something else as well.

Some on the left are feeling dread that there is nothing they can do to stop Trump from putting this Justice in for life, even if he loses, and even if the Senate goes Democrat, and even if it takes the votes of several Republican Senators who look poised to lose in November and who may indeed now be even more likely to lose because of this controversy (and there is also a Democrat Senator in Alabama who may now be even more likely to lose.) I do not think this is anywhere close to a fait accompli though. Growing up, I admired Mitch McConnell  for his convictions and political skill, but now I could never look past such a naked act of hypocrisy. The fact that Republicans held the Senate in 2016 when Obama was President and also still hold the Senate now when Trump is President is completely irrelevant to the merits of the discussion. Everyone on the right said "the American people should have a role" in how the next Justice gets picked. They did then and they should now. McConnell will probably hang on to his seat in Kentucky despite the outcry, but he seems prepared to all but cut loose other vulnerable Republican Senators up this year, just to get this person on the Bench. He will state what was a major problem in February of an election year is a necessary thing in September of an election year. Complete and utter insanity.

Of course, McConnell has not committed to a time frame so this is likely a "lame duck session" matter and a race against the clock. Again, the assumption has to be that Trump loses and another assumption is that Democrats take over the Senate. That puts Republicans in a very hard position as I am convinced public opinion will be sharply against what they will be trying to do. That can have political ramifications for Senators up in 2022. There is also another interesting angle. Appointed GOP Senator Martha McSally, a 2018 election favorite in Arizona turned loser, is now trailing her Democrat opponent in a special election. She has said she supports Trump on this, but if she loses, her Democrat replacement can be sworn in as early as November 30, and the "lame duck" balance of power immediately shifts to 52-48 as the clock races to January 3.

As long as Mike Pence remains Vice President and Lap Dog, the party cannot afford to lose more than 2 other Senators. Already, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski (who wrongly refused to confirm Kavanaugh) has said "fair is fair" and that she would not go along with anything before the election or seemingly if Trump loses. Kudos to her for having character in that regard. Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who already looks to be in big trouble this year, has said she will wait until the election results are in as well. Saying otherwise right now in her state would seal her doom. I think she will keep her promise, win or lose.

That sort of means that there would just be one more Republican Senator to vote no and which would cause the nominee to be rejected on the floor 49-51. I sort of think that will happen, at the minimum. My thoughts turn to the junior Senator from Utah, the Honorable Mitt Romney, whom despite  many on the left swearing he could never do it, became early this year the first Senator to ever vote to convict a President of his own party. The pressure on Romney, a genuine conservative from a staunchly conservative state, will be immense. I think he needs to be publicly non-committal and keep his cards close to his proverbial vest at least until the election. Despite the fact he has made it clear he cannot vote for Trump, many have been confused why he has said publicly that he expects Trump to win and Republicans to hold the Senate. Might he have been giving himself cover for precisely a moment like this? If Romney is the swing vote on a SCOTUS nominee, he will have immense power. He might have to use it to cut a deal with incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President-Elect Joe Biden. In doing so, he could earn the enmity and hatred of conservatives in the short-term, while at the same time perhaps saving conservatism in the long-run. What a legacy that would be.

This next speculative part is so important. Conservatives really need to be smart. Do they care about a "win" for Donald Trump, even as he may be headed out the door in political disgrace, or do they care about conservatism itself? Neil Gorsuch replacing Antonin Scalia did not change the ideological balance of the Court. Neither would a younger liberal replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Other things would though, such as Biden or any Democrat replacing the current conservative Justices. My fellow right-wingers should pray that those Justices stay healthy and on the Court until a Republican can be elected President one day, if such a thing is still possible.

Partisans on the right (and I realize they will claim this publicly as a reason for Americans to reelect Trump) should state that the winner of the election will make this selection. The alternative response from Democrats could be disproportionate, bad for America, and devastating to conservatives for generations...

They might "pack the Court."  We have already seen all sorts of games played with the filibuster in the Senate with more possible. If Republicans play dirty, Democrats are going to play even dirtier. They will probably be able to get away with it politically to because the American people will either be tired of all this fighting or just of the mindset that anything is now fair game. All it would take is a Democrat President and a Democrat Senate. If a conservative Justice joins the Court, they will simply increase the number of Justices from 9 to 11 or 13 or..... In theory Joe Biden would name them all and a Democrat Senate would confirm them all and this will have all backfired on conservatives spectacularly. 

Some on the right scoff at this and say that Democrats will do it anyway and thus it is best to just put the fifth or sixth (depending on what they think about Chief Justice John Roberts) on the SCOTUS. I do not think they can get away with doing it unless Republicans, fresh off a rejection from the voters, go nuclear first. The emphasis should be on cutting a deal and announcing it publicly .The winner of the 2020 election replaces Ginsburg and there is no effort made to expand the Court. Maybe Democrats do not even want such a deal. Maybe despite all their cries to the contrary, they will actually want Trump to get away with this so they can "pack the Court." In any event, it would be bad for our institutional democracy.

The people will decide in 45 days and eventually we will know (legitimately via the Electoral College) what their decision and it is completely fair for people to consider in their votes, for both President and Senate, whom they want to pick judges. Republicans need to be careful though. There is always another election around the corner. Do not burn down the entire house and in regards to "court packing" do not be complicit in your own destruction by basically handing your opponents the tools to do you in.

As for the rest, I do not know if we will ever see a day when there is consistency in politics beyond a few brave souls who stand for principles larger than their own self-preservation or their next election. It is why I have soured on politics so much in the past few years. I just know that what was right ethically and morally thirty years ago, was still right four years ago, and is still right today, and will be right for however long as America is able to exist "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Friday, September 18, 2020

Race of the Day- West Virginia U.S. Senate

West Virginia U.S. Senate

46 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

 Outlook: Safe Republican

 If there was not an intense interest in the Senate elections this year before today, there certainly are now. As far as the Mountaineer State is concerned though, this will not be much of a contest.

The daughter of a rare Republican Governor and a one time West Virginia state legislator, Shelley Moore Capito was first elected to Congress in 2000, at a time when GOP victories in major races in the state were still uncommon, as were offices won by women. For the most part, Capito was considered a moderate in her state on issues like abortion and faced the possibility of primary opposition to her right when he tried to move up to the Senate in 2014, after having been touted for higher office in previous cycles. That never materialized though. What had happened though was that her candidacy, along with an expected wave for Republicans were enough to cause longtime Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller to retire. In an open race, Capito defeated the female West Virginia Secretary of State by a massive 62-34 margin.

Six years later, Capito is facing another female opponent, though one not nearly as credible statewide. In June, the incumbent too 83 percent against two opponents who argued she was not sufficiently conservative. The three way primary for Democrats was far more competitive and yielded a more surprising result. 

The most conventional candidate was former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb who finished in third place with 29 percent. In second place with Richard Ojeda, whom many had expected to take the nomination. The former State Senator is a retired Major in the U.S. Army and looks the part complete with a buzzcut and tattoos. In 2016, he joined a large number of West Virginia Democrats in supporting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. By 2018, Ojeda had turned on Trump as he attempted to move from the State Senate to Congress. (I have just learned that his last name is not pronounced the Latino sounding way but more phonetically.) Running for an open seat, Ojeda was thought of as someone who could carry enough conservative votes to flip a district but he still lost by nearly 13 points, proving how tough it is for a Democrat non-incumbent to win a federal race in West Virginia. On the campaign trail, Trump mispronounced Ojeda's last name, perhaps trying to deliberately make him sound Hispanic. As mentioned, I did not know it was pronounced the way it is either.

Shortly thereafter, Ojeda launched a quixotic bid for his party's Presidential nomination, resigning from the legislature to do so, but was also the first to leave the mega-crowded field. While recognizing the difficulty of a Senate challenge to Capito, some in the party were likely quite pleased when he announced he would run against her. However, the former Trump supporter would not get past the primary as Paula Jean Swearengin won with 38 percent. Unlike her two primary opponents, Swearengin had never held political office, but the environmental activist had run in the 2018 Senate primary against conservative leaning Democrat incumbent Joe Manchin and took a notable 30 percent. The victory by the staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders shows that those in West Virginia who remain committed Democrats have likely shifted to the left.

Capito is the daughter of a Congressman and later Governor who grew up comfortably while residing largely in the Washington D.C. area. Swearengin comes from a family of coal miners, many of whom died young from working in that industry. The reality is that West Virginia of 2020 has people far more attuned to Capito's voting record and national political affiliation. It is unlikely that any Democrat would pose a serious threat this year, but the liberalness of Swearengin will make this an even easier race for the incumbent and thus she will be the one who gets to take part in an official "swearing-in."

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

16 D (7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
18 R (7 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

51 Democrats (35 holdovers, 7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
48 Republicans (30 holdovers, 7 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Race of the Day- West Virginia Governor

West Virginia Governor

47 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

In 2016, only one state voted more heavily for Donald Trump than West Virginia. On that same day though, a Democrat, who happened to share much in common with Trump, won the Governorship in what some called at the time, "America's weirdest election." Now, though, as they both seek reelection, Donald Trump and Jim Justice are on the same side, officially. Both men are heavy favorites in the state, in more ways than one. Still, there is probably a good deal more excitement among those who will vote for Trump than those who will choose to reelect Justice.

Governor Justice is very tall and very wide and very rich. He has in fact been the wealthiest man in his state for quite some time. Like Trump, he inherited a business from his father and also owns a well-known resort. While Trump was registered for  many years as a Democrat before finally running for office as a Republican, Justice was a long-time registered Republican before running for Governor as a Democrat. After all, despite being overwhelmingly GOP now at the federal level, Democrats once had a lock on state government.

In 2016, Justice refused to support Hillary Clinton as his party's Presidential nominee, while his conservative Republican opponent did everything he could to embrace Trump. However, enough voters thought that Justice and Trump were kindred spirits to vote for both wealthy populist outsiders. Justice won 49-42, while a genuine liberal took six percent. 

Upon taking, Justice had to work with a Republican majority in the legislature and there were frequent conflicts between them as the Governor was quick to say insulting things about them. Things might have gotten awkward for Democrats and Republicans in the state alike as in the summer of 2017, with Donald Trump at his side at a rally, Justice switched parties and "rejoined" the Republicans. The Democrats who had supported him or were working for him felt betrayed. GOP members of the legislature suddenly had to change what they were saying about him publicly and Justice himself had to retract his support for Democrats seeking election and instead back Republicans. Trump and Justice though were thick as thieves at this point though. At a rally the next year, Trump would call the Governor, "the largest most beautiful man." Justice may actually be twice as rich as Trump and he looks like he could be twice his size too.

Betrayed Democrats hoped that Senator Joe Manchin would return home in 2020 and try to reclaim the job he had once held. Perhaps the most conservative Democrat on Capitol Hill had to scratch and claw to win reelection as Senator in 2018, but polls showed he would run ahead of Justice in a race for Governor. As seen here in 2016, party labels do not mean as much in statewide races in many states and Justice was a polarizing figure. However, Manchin announced he would stay in the Senate, which was disappointing to many Democrats at home but a relief to most around the country, as his Senate seat would have likely gone to Republicans in short order.

Five Democrats competed in this June's primary and the winner was the candidate backed by Manchin, and the state AFL-CIO over a more liberal candidate backed by Elizabeth Warren and Planned Parenthood. At 46, Ben Salango is 23 years younger than Justice and presents quite a visual contrast. The Kanawha County Commissioner took 39 percent in the primary while his closest competitor, Stephen Smith, a community activist who had run a health care advocacy group took 34 percent. The party nominated the candidate best equipped to win votes in the center, but it may not even matter than much in West Virginia.

Justice was not without his own primary opposition, even though his incumbency and closeness to Trump worked in his favor. Woody Thrasher resigned as state Secretary of Commerce upon his boss Justice's request. Even though he initially said he still considered him a friend, he ran against him in the Republican primary for Governor and basically promised less chaos in the Governorship. Former State Delegate Michael Folk also ran as a more traditional conservative, even though he once called for Hillary Clinton to be publicly executed. For that remark, he was suspended from his job as an airline pilot and he tried to walk back what he said. Justice took 63 percent of the primary vote, even as polls showed the incumbent favored, but at lower margins. Thrasher was held to 18 percent and Folk took about 13 percent.

With the general election set, there has not been much in the way of polling. Both major party nominees do not seem to be without detractors on their ideological side. The left-wing Mountain Party is part of this race and whatever support they receive will hurt Salango's underdog chances. At the same time, a sitting state Delegate, who left the Republicans to become an Independent is running as a write-in.

At the end of the day, the Democrat is likely too liberal for the state, and Justice has plenty of money to portray him as a liberal trial attorney. Many in the state may be anxious to vote against Justice (who some think brazenly cursed when describing Covid guidelines, but I think was likely an audio glitch) and others may not really like him, but it looks like another victory for the party switcher is at hand.

Governor races predicted:
3 D (1 Safe, 2 Likely)
8 R (2 Safe, 4 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

23 Democrats (20 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Likely)
27 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 4 Likely, 2 Lean)

Republican net gain of 1

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

NFL Week 2

48 Days Until Election Day

Overall Results: 9-7 (56%)

1. Bengals (0-1) at Browns (0-1)

2. Jaguars (1-0) at Titans (1-0)
3. Panthers (0-1) at Buccaneers (0-1)
4. Broncos (0-1) at Steelers (1-0)
5. Rams (1-0) at Eagles (0-1)
6. 49ers (0-1) at Jets (0-1)
7. Bills (1-0) at Dolphins (0-1)
8. Vikings (0-1) at Colts (0-1)
9. Lions (0-1) at Packers (1-0)
10. Falcons (0-1) at Cowboys (0-1)
11. Giants (0-1) at Bears (1-0)
12. Washington (1-0) at Cardinals (1-0)
13. Chiefs (1-0) at Chargers (1-0)
14. Ravens (1-0) at Texans (0-1)
15. Patriots (1-0) at Seahawks (1-0)

16. Saints (1-0) at Raiders (1-0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

NFL Week 1 Results

49(er?) Days Until Election Day

Week 1

1.  Texans (0-0) at Chiefs (0-0) W 1

2.  Eagles (0-0) at Washington (0-0) W 2
3.  Dolphins (0-0) at Patriots (0-0) L 1
4.  Packers (0-0) at Vikings (0-0) L 2
5.  Colts (0-0) at Jaguars (0-0) L 3
6.  Bears (0-0) at Lions (0-0) W 3
7.  Raiders (0-0) at Panthers (0-0) W 4
8.  Jets (0-0) at Bills (0-0) W 5
9.  Browns (0-0) at Ravens (0-0) L 4
10. Seahawks (0-0) at Falcons (0-0) L 5
11. Chargers (0-0) at Bengals (0-0) L 6
12. Cardinals (0-0) at 49ers (0-0) W 6
13. Buccaneers (0-0) at Saints (0-0) W 7
14. Cowboys (0-0) at Rams (0-0) L 7

15. Steelers (0-0) at Giants (0-0) W 8
16. Titans (0-0) at Broncos (0-0) W 9

Week 1 and Overall Results: 9-7 (56%)

Monday, September 14, 2020

Race of the Day- Washington Governor

Washington Governor

50 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

The record books will show that it has been 40 years since a Republican last won the Governorship of Washington. Over the past four election cycles however, Republicans have tried very hard to break through. They have nominated credible candidates who were accomplished in politics or government and who appeared to be moderate enough to win swing voters from the Seattle area to go along with the conservative voters who populate the eastern part of the state. Still, it has not worked. The year of 2004 saw a probable GOP victory disappear after a recount by a margin of just 129 votes. Since then, the percentages of 47, 48, and 46 were as high as the party could muster. This cycle, there seems to be not even a pretext of trying as anyone who fit that model sat the race out. The attempt seems to be to get the voters who identify with Donald Trump and who may not be traditional Republicans and not moderate suburbanites.

Like California, Washington has a jungle primary system. All candidates of all parties appeared on the ballot together in August and the top two, regardless of party advanced. That means that there are no third party choices on the general election ballot. If this were an open seat contest instead of one where an incumbent was seeking reelection, the result could have been that Republicans were shut out of November all together. That happened this year in the primary for the open position of Lt. Governor, although a failed GOP Gubernatorial candidate this cycle is attempting a write-in effort.

If the current Governor had his way, this would be an open seat, although Democrat Jay Inslee seemed prepared to run for a third term even as he mounted a long-shot bid for his party's Presidential nomination. No other major Democrat appeared to take any steps to succeed him. They seemed to realize that Inslee, running on an environmentalist campaign theme in a crowded field would not get very far and decide instead to seek another term. That is what happened and Inslee finished first among 36 candidates on the jungle ballot with just over a majority of the vote. In theory, that sounds like a weak showing for an incumbent, but that does not take into account the votes for little known Democrats and the Greens and the Socialists and all the rest who received small vote shares but who had supporters who are unlikely to support a Republican.

The top Republican finished in second place, above some better known candidates who were active politically statewide previously or those who held offices such as a suburban Mayor or State Senator. As the only other candidate in double digits, at just 17 percent was Loren Culp, an Army veteran and businessman who serves as the Police Chief of the small town of Republic.

This year, Republicans are quick to stress that "blue lives matter" and of course they are correct in that, so Culp might have a positive narrative, especially in the wake of ugly riots and civil unrest in Seattle. Still, he is a niche candidate who is not a good fit statewide. Culp was known for his opposition to gun control measures and his opposition to newly passed state laws. He said he would not enforce these measures in his city and said it would be a "gun sanctuary." It is not hard to see how devoted single issue voters helped catapult him to a spot in the general election.

Of course Culp will get the lion's share of the votes of those who went for the other GOP primary contenders, but even with some breaks, he is unlikely to even get into the mid 40s. Other Republican candidates in the field probably would have fared better against Inslee in November, not that it would have mattered.

Next year, the Governor will have presumably put his Presidential ambitions aside to focus on a third term, and all that comes with it, including the pandemic, wildfires, and crazy anarchists.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
3 D (1 Safe, 2 Likely)
7 R (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

23 Democrats (20 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Likely)
26 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Race of the Day- Virginia U.S. Senate

Virginia U.S. Senate

51 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (South)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

At the least, Virginia Republicans can be assured that they have selected a candidate that will not embarrass the party nearly as much as the 2018 nominee, a controversial former local official whom could also be accurately pegged as a proud Neo-Confederate. Nonetheless, this year, they may be defeated by an incumbent Democrat Senator by an even larger margin than the 18 point defeat two years ago. This has most to do with what is anticipated to be a larger turnout during a Presidential year. Also, every year, the Commonwealth seems to get more Democrat. It used to be a very competitive state with a lean towards Republicans but the increase of upscale suburbanites, many of whom work for for the federal government have shifted the state to the left. Not long ago, all three state government elected Democrat officials became engulfed in controversy, and Republicans suddenly became giddy about Old Dominion opportunity, but all three men are still in office, and it is doubtful that their issues will be on the minds of many swing voters this November.

As a young man, active in Democrat politics, Mark Warner became very rich at the early days of the cellphone technology business. In 1996, he ran for office against Republican Senator John Warner, to whom he was not related, and put up a far bigger fight than anyone had foretasted in defeat. The Democrat stayed active in politics and impressively won a solid victory for Governor in 2001, very soon after the 9/11 attacks and supposed advantage for Republicans.

Towards the end of his four years, Warner was a very popular Governor, but not eligible to seek a second consecutive term. Many were looking for him to prepare to fun for President in 2008 where he was thought of as the kind of candidate who could win large number of crossover votes. This caused a good deal of surprise when he said he would not be among the candidates citing unspecified family reasons. Months later though, he entered an open U.S. Senate race and easily defeated a former Republican Governor. Warner's reelection effort in 2014 was supposed to be a cakewalk, but there was a strong midterm tide, nationally and in Virginia, and he took the race for granted to some extent. Nonetheless, after trailing in the returns virtually all night, he hung on to win 49-48.

Then, Donald Trump took over the Republican Party and the fortune of Virginia Republicans took a hit. The same candidate who nearly beat the Senator in 2015 lost by nine points in a race for Governor, after being tied to Trump. Warner has gotten more national attention of late as the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee dealing with all sorts of allegations related to the Trump Administration.

As Warner seeks a third term, few Republicans think they have a any sort of chance. For a time, it looked like Scott Taylor, a freshman Congressman, who was unseated in 2018 would run statewide, but he decided instead to attempt to take his House seat back. The June primary would see three basically unknown Republicans compete and the winner with 67 percent was the person considered the most "mainstream" of the contenders. This was quite a difference from the 2018 primary. Daniel Gade, a college professor, and former Army officer, who lost his leg in the Iraq War was chosen with teacher Alissa Baldwin, the runner up with just 18 percent. After his war injury, Gade has been very involved in Iron Man type competitions.

As the GOP nominee, Gade is severely underfunded compared to his opponent and likely still struggling with name recognition. The West Point graduate had served in the Bush Administration and is also a Ph.D. In 2017 had been nominated by Trump to a government position but withdrew under some blowback. Back in 2011, Gade had commented online that it was a bad idea for women to serve in military combat. He said he has since changed his mind.

In looking at Gade's Senate campaign website, he is running as a mainstream conservative and trying to contrast himself with Warner. I see absolutely no mention of Donald Trump though anywhere I looked on the pages. Much of that might have to do with the political situation on the ground in Virginia, but even in more liberal states, Republican candidates have tried to cozy up to Trump. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be the case here. It does appear that Gade has a more libertarian approach to foreign policy matters than many conservative "hawks" traditionally avow.

Perhaps it should be kept in mind that as an amputee from a war Donald Trump says he opposed, he would think of a hero like Lt. Col. Gade as a "loser" or "sucker." Trump says that nobody wants to see people with one leg but I hope someone like Gade will at least have a chance to have a voice moving forward in the Republican Party.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

16 D (7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
17 R (6 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

51 Democrats (35 holdovers, 7 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
47 Republicans (30 holdovers, 6 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Race for the White House # 89

52 Days Until Election Day

The end of this campaign feels in site but one gets the sense there is still some heavy and frustrating traffic ahead.

While the polls show a clear frontrunner in the Presidential race, America still feels more divided than at any time in memory. Whether it is Trump vs. or merely Trump vs. Not Trump, relationships between co-workers, friends, and families are suffering. I am glad I am not on Facebook because I would probably want to de-friend everyone (except for maybe David French and those among my fellow NeverTrump conservatives who understand why I cannot vote for Joe Biden either.)

America was not always this divided. The anniversary of 9/11 is always an emotional one. I imagine next year, a full generation later, will feel even more so. The events of that day and those that followed are etched in my memory. I am grateful we had the President we did. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect human in the Oval Office or a President who makes zero mistakes, but George W. Bush understood the significance and seriousness of what had happened and what we would have to overcome. He also had the ability to both honestly inform and reassure the country about what would be required.

In many ways, the battle against Covid-19, while having a more direct impact in our lives, is far less severe and far less permanent. We have been asked to socially distance and make some sacrifices. Of course none of these were wanted or easy, and most of us as Americans have done our part, but the stubbornness of others have cost us time and cost us lives and history will not be kind towards that aspect.

We still face a far greater long-term threat from violent jihadism. We have thankfully captured or killed many terrorists since 9/11/01, but far from them all or far from enough. Those who want to wage war on us intend on an "endless war" and we need to be committed to defeating them, through all factions and methods of modern warfare for however long it takes. The two Presidents that followed George W. Bush just do not get this. It is amazing that in spite of that, Barack Obama and Donald Trump are such different men and have followers who despise each other so much.

Let me be clear. While I think Barack Obama was a horrible President, he was and is a better person by far than Trump. His intellectual coolness or aloofness when it came to people suffering an economic downturn or how he said we should be able to "absorb" terrorist attacks were unfortunate but not on the level of the callous disregard, selfishness, and unprecedented meglomania of the current President. I could also write volumes regarding the horrible things Trump himself said on or about 9/11. These things were known in 2016 though and he still won, so perhaps it is better to focus on what has actually happened on his watch as President.

A new book is coming out, as people are beginning to vote. Donald Trump spent many hours speaking candidly and on the record to Bob Woodward. The name and biography of Woodward impresses Trump and Trump thought he could charm Woodward into writing a "good book" for him. For Trump, it is always about Trump. Woodward though, who of course is a liberal, has written "bad books" about every President in recent time. Did Trump really think he could get away with this unscathed? If so, he is dumber than we even thought.

There are many jaw dropping assertions in this book, such as the quotes attributed to people like James Mattis and Dan Coats. There was also an instance, recorded and all, in which Trump all but laughed at the fact that African-Americans feel they are still experiencing racism in America. These thing would be a story themselves but instead the focus is on the candor that Trump spoke to Woodward about Covid-19 back in February.

For one thing, he actually was listening to the experts back then and understood how serious this virus was and how deadly it could and how easy it could spread. However, his public words were almost completely the opposite, as he set up a false set of security, especially among those who had the misfortune of actually believing in Donald Trump. He says he wanted to project a "calm" image. Him? Who is he kidding. Donald Trump has never been calm about anything. That is a big reason why the people that like him do.

No, he should have told the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth, and if he were any sort of leader at all, he could have also rallied the public to fight a common enemy. He is not that kind of leader though and never will be. He is about himself and any "bad news" about the virus was simply going to take away from his narrative as "the best President ever who never stops winning, winning, winning."

He did not want to create panic he says. Unless the panic is about a caravan or black men coming after the white women in the suburbs or about mail in voting or about Rosie O'Donnell or anything else he chooses to focus his dishonest rage on. Panic? What about the panic of the people who learned they had caught the virus and might die. What about the panic of those who knew their loved ones would die alone in a hospital or nursing home and they could not be there to comfort them or say goodbye. The Trump years are a tragedy in so many ways and one that needs to be rectified.

There is not a President from Washington to Obama nor anyone in either party who ran the same year Trump did who could get away with we we see on a nearly daily basis from him.  There are plenty of bad ideas in politics on both sides, but democracy and federalism and the separation of powers have served us well before and hopefully will again. We all should do more to remember what 9/11/01 meant to us as Americans and how dangerous it has been for us to forget it. 
No, Trump did not cause the virus to start in China and yes, early on, his opponents on the left were too quick to play politics, but Trump has only himself to blame for not being honest about this all. Not every death is his fault, but because of him, far more people died than needed to, and far more people will continue, as long as he delivers mixed messages about masks and fills his personal need to hold as large of rallies as possible so people can cheer his name and hiss at his opponents, whether a virus is spread or not. A large crowd was lined up outdoors in Nevada tonight. Very few were wearing masks as they waited for Air Force One to land. The music being played was Guns N Roses' version of "Knocking On Heaven's Door."

He has the nerve to ask for four more years? He should not be President for four more minutes.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Race of the Day- Vermont Governor

Vermont Governor

53 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Status: Likely Republican

There is a lot to think about when one realizes that the state that overwhelmingly supports its Senator Bernie Sanders also has a popular Republican Governor. How is that even possible in these polarized times? Well, for one thing, state elections often have different dynamics than federal elections and the issues involved in those. Also, there are different kinds of Republicans. Not long ago, Phil Scott was considered a conservative even by Vermont GOP standards. Now, he is perhaps the highest ranking official on any Republican ballot this year to say he will not vote for Donald Trump. At this point, the former champion stock car racer has said he is "considering" a vote for Joe Biden. If he truly felt threatened in this race, he might have already made it official, but that does not seem to be the situation in the Green Mountain State.

There are some quirks to Vermont politics. Like it's neighbor New Hampshire, it is one of two states to elect Governors (and other statewide officials) to mere two-year terms. Scott became Governor in 2016 and is now seeking his third term. Before that, he was elected and then reelected every two years since 2010 as Lt. Governor. Clearly, he has been quite successful statewide in Vermont, despite the party label in this very liberal state. I believe there is also still a law in the state which holds that any Gubernatorial contest in which somebody does not win a majority of the vote then has to be selected by the state legislature. This has happened a couple of times in recent history, when a Democrat won a plurality and then the Democrat legislature had to make it official. That is unlikely to be the case this cycle, although in theory that would be bad news for Scott. Nonetheless, there is a thought that the legislature would feel obligated to always select the popular vote winner. Maybe they should just get rid of the law then? Perhaps they already did without me knowing about it.

Scott is favored to win despite the fact that he not even running an active campaign. While he wants people to vote for him, he has said he is so focused on handling the Covid-19 problem in the state that he is not fundraising or employing a staff, let alone be out campaigning. In August, he took 73 percent of the GOP vote against four opponents. His main opponent, a pastor, who finished some 51 points behind ran as a "rural populist" and said he had been a supporter of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders. I imagine people on the right voted for this candidate as a protest against Scott for being a "RINO."

Due to the fact that Vermont is Vermont, I cannot call this race "safe" for any Republican, despite the history of popular moderate GOP Governors and the most recent Democrat to hold the office leaving amid some unpopularity. Democrats typically win everything else there and they have a loose affiliation with the even more left-wing Progressive Party. The two parties need to consolidate when the latter is not running a mere gadfly in order to win statewide as a matter of common sense. (This is completely distinct from Bernie Sanders running as an Independent and technically rejecting the nominations given to him by Vermont Democrats for his Senate runs.)

On the day that Scott won the Governorship in 2016, his old job as Lt. Governor went to a candidate who mainly identified with the Progressives, but also ran under the Democrat banner, while most other statewide candidates were officially Democrats. Now, four years later, the two men are running against each other for Governor, as David Zuckerman is the candidate of both Progressives and Democrats. The pony-tailed Lt. Governor and former farmer certainly looks the part of a Vermont leftist. There was a complicated and confusing matter regarding the Progressive Party primary and how it only allowed write-ins, but the most important thing is that Zuckerman won a four way Democrat primary with 51 percent, having received the endorsements of Ben and Jerry and...Bernie. Finishing 11 points behind was Rebecca Holcombe, a former state Education Secretary.

This margin of victory for Zuckerman was closer perhaps than many expected. An important factor as to why might be that the Lt. Governor is sort of an anti-vaxxer. This was used by his opponent against him in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. For his part, Zuckerman has denied being opposed to vaccinations but has expressed concerns about them and has supported loopholes for parents to keep their kids from being vaccinated

Right now, polls are showing that Scott should easily win the general election. I think that is very likely to happen, but again, Vermont is Vermont, and people will be turning out to vote against Donald Trump and everyone who shares a party label with him, even as Scott, quite a different style Republican, has publicly rejected Trump and supported initial efforts to impeach him.

The kind of socialism advocated by Zuckerman continues to grow in popularity, especially in a place like Vermont, but for now, the voters will decide that when it comes to state government, they appreciate the moderate approach and competence of the current Republican Governor.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
2 D (2 Likely)
7 R (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 Democrats (20 holdovers, 2 Likely)
26 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Race of the Day- Utah Governor

Utah Governor

54 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Utah is fairly unique politically. It's largest city has become strongly liberal, but Salt Lake City is surrounded by a sea of conservatism and Mormonism everywhere else in the state in both suburban and rural areas. This makes the Utah one of the strongest Republican states in the nation. Nonetheless, Donald Trump, for all his public and private behavior is likely less popular here than among Republicans anywhere else in the country. Recently, Utah Republicans have been fighting among themselves over Trump. This may not persist after the current election, although Trump is still expected to carry the state, albeit by margins that do not come close to that of Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney of course is now the state's junior Senator and early this year became the first Senator in United States history to vote to convict a President of their own party in an impeachment trial.

Republican Gary Herbert became Governor over 11 years ago when his predecessor Jon Huntsman Jr., a scion of one of the richest and most influential families in the state resigned to become Barack Obama's Ambassador to China. Herbert has had no problem holding on to the job, often facing more serious competition for the nomination than against Democrats. In 2013, the Lt. Governor resigned and to replace him, Herbert selected Spencer Cox, then a 38 year old State Representative from a small rural county. Four years ago, the ticket was elected together. Heading into 2020, Herbert was eligible to run again and went back and forth publicly a bit before deciding to step aside and making it clear he supported Cox succeeding him. Despite this, plenty of ambitious Utah Republicans also took a look at running as it had been several cycles without an incumbent running for reelection.

Spencer Cox has been an interesting political character and has been very active on his personal Twitter account for several years talking frequently about his family, sports, and other matters.. A devout Mormon and staunch conservative, he has called for the Republican Party to be more inclusive. In 2016, he made headlines, after the Orlando nightclub terrorist attack for apologizing for mistreating classmates growing up and vowing to be a better ally of the LGBT community. Cox was also in 2016 very, very anti-Trump, in terms of the Republican nomination and then saying he could not vote for him in a general election. The Lt. Governor had clearly taken his stance with the Romney wing of the party nationally (and in Utah.)

Utah holds a nominating convention, typically dominated by the most conservative elements of the state party, in which some candidates either qualify or fail to make the ballot for the June primary. Other hopefuls play it safe by qualifying via petition signatures. The candidates for Governor pick their Lt. Governor running-mate ahead of the convention and run as a team. In a seven way field, Cox and his pick for Lt. Governor, State Senator Deidre Henderson finished in the top spot in the first round with 30 percent. The endorsement contest would go all the way to the sixth ballot though as the other candidates were eliminated and Cox finally prevailed 55-45 over State House Speaker Greg Hughes. Both men would advance to the primary where they would also be joined by businessman Thomas Wright, a former State Republican Party Chair. Interestingly enough, Wright was running with Rob Bishop, a longtime Congressman who had announced his retirement from that body, and who was likely a good deal better known than the candidate for Governor he was running with.

There would also be a fourth Republican on the ballot. Jon Huntsman Jr. had decided he wanted his job back. After his time in Beijing, he made an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Republican nomination as the most moderate candidate, even as his distant cousin Mitt Romney was the front-runner. After leaving the race, Huntsman quickly endorsed Romney, but some had expected that there was enough bad blood existing that could have had Huntsman support Barack Obama instead. In the next election, Huntsman endorsed and then pulled his support of Donald Trump. After Trump won though, the politician started to speak highly of him and he was named by Trump to be Ambassador to Russia.. of all places.

Once again Huntsman would leave a foreign capital to make a run for office, and polls showed he stood a very good chance of being elected Governor again, despite the fact that his former running-mate and current Governor Herbert, was still going to be backing the current Lt. Governor. Cox was considered more conservative than Huntsman, and certainly grew up under much more humble circumstances which in many ways made him preferable to party activists, while Huntsman's overall name recognition were expected to be a boon for him and his Lt. Governor running-mate Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi in the primary. Everyone running for both offices were members of the LDS Church, although some years previously, Huntsman was not able to definitively state that he still considered himself a Mormon.

Hughes and Wright would run to the right of both Cox and Huntsman though and in particular, Hughes ran as a Trump supporter and called out Cox for his litany of NeverTrump Tweets from 2016 and into the early months of the Trump Administration. Cox attempted to say that while he was very different than Donald Trump, he could work with him as Governor and was focused on state issues. At a debate, all the candidates were asked if they supported Trump's reelection and all indicated they did. Speaking personally, as someone who had become an admirer of Lt. Governor Cox, this was quite disappointing to me. I simply do not believe he actually intends to vote for Trump.

Ambition causes politicians to take positions though that they feel they have no other choice. How would Cox had done in a four way primary had he run as an unyielding Romneysque Trump critic in the GOP? The positioning of the candidates was already unusual. Many Democrats had conceded that the winner of the primary would go on to be Governor and some said they intended to cross over to vote for either Cox or Huntsman, rather than see the spot go to one of the more pro-Trump candidates. Had Cox stood by his guns on Trump it is likely he would have gotten a bunch more Democrats to cross over and support him in the primary. He also would have won votes from those who ultimately went to Huntsman, because of the belief that Huntsman was the most moderate candidate or that the differences between him and Cox were very minor.

Heading into the primary, polls showed that Cox had a very slight lead over Huntsman, but there was also a belief that the results could be unpredictable and that a Hughes win was also a possibility (although apparently the presence of Wright and Bishop together on the ballot was hurting that cause.) Towards the end of the campaign, Huntsman, his wife, and other family members, including daughter Abby, who left her job as a panelist on the "The View" to support her father's campaign were diagnosed with Covid 19. Not long before, the candidate had been spotted shaking hands with voters, but was forced to quarantine during this crucial period.

The results were tight on Primary Night and took a few days until a winner was assured. Cox won the contest with 36 percent of the vote to Huntsman's 35 percent. Hughes took 21 percent and Wright eight percent. Nationally, the result was a bit more of a surprise than those who had followed the race more closely in Utah. The bottom line is that a former popular twice elected multi-millionaire Governor who had Presidential ambitions at once point lost a bid for his old job in a primary to a younger and balder opponent who grew up on a farm. I think Cox would have won by more had he not "endorsed" Trump, but that's neither here or there.

Of course, there is a Democrat running for Governor as well who had easily prevailed at that party's convention and faced no primary opposition. Law professor and former CFPB official Chris Peterson is running alongside Karina Brown, a health care organizer, who had run unsuccessfully for State Representative in 2018. Both major party nominees were born in 1975.

Shortly after Huntsman conceded the race, without a formal endorsement of Cox, there was some sudden chatter, apparently coming from the pro-Trump faction that had backed Greg Hughes, that Huntsman might run as a write-in for Governor in the general election. How that would have affected the final result is unknown but Huntsman eventually said he had no interest in pursuing such a thing.

The truth is that Utah Republicans are probably not all that united in this race. A large faction of voters say they are undecided, but it is hard to imagine they will actually vote for a Democrat. Cox The polls show Cox has a huge advantage nonetheless, and likely will have some Democrats that support him. Utah is so Republican though it really does not matter. Cox will almost certainly still win in a landslide.

Once the general election is over, and Trump is either a lame duck in the Oval Office or a disgraced ex outside of it, I hope that Spencer Cox, in addition to focusing on his specific duties as Governor of Utah, will also feel the need to be the kind of Republican voice he likely wants to be. The party will need it.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
2 D (2 Likely)
6 R (2 Safe, 2 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 Democrats (20 holdovers, 2 Likely)
25 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 2 Likely, 2 Lean)

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

NFL Week 1

55 Days Until Election Day

There was no preseason, no big loss there from my perspective, but the NFL regular season is actually about to kick off, as scheduled. Over the past six months, nothing has really gone according to schedule, so this is perhaps a good thing. It will be weird though to see games played in empty stadiums as well as the legitimate questions about what might happen if virus outbreaks among teams occur.

Think about it though, back in March and pretty much all the way through most of July, there were no sports at all. People were at home doing puzzles and whatnot as our horrific President, complicit in the manslaughter of tens of thousands of his citizens, deliberately lied about and downplayed what we were going through. The last Super Bowl sure was exciting. Had we had a non sociopath in the Oval Office, we might be having this season begin, with crowds and all, as if things were basically back to normal, because we would have defeated the virus. At least, there will be a lot of sports to watch on tv, even as the Presidential election heads for the stretch. The National Football League, Stanley Cup Championship, the NBA Championship, and Major League Baseball postseason are all on the cusp of happening. There will also be College Football, though not for some states and conferences. Let us be glad for what we can appreciate sportswise and hope that as soon as possible all these leagues can return to the schedules and circumstances under which we became accustomed.

As always, and as I have done for 16 seasons now on here, these list of games are not "predictions", but whom I want to win. In games involving NFC teams, I just want what is best for the Chicago Bears and in purely AFC matchups, I pretty much just go with a personal preference.

Finally, just a note that this season the team referred to as "Washington" is the one formerly known as the "Redskins" before America became woke. I just hope that we do not wind up having to get rid of the name "Washington."

Week 1

Starting off at 0-0 (0% or 100%.. take your pick)

1.  Texans (0-0) at Chiefs (0-0)

2.  Eagles (0-0) at Washington (0-0)
3.  Dolphins (0-0) at Patriots (0-0)
4.  Packers (0-0) at Vikings (0-0)
5.  Colts (0-0) at Jaguars (0-0)
6.  Bears (0-0) at Lions (0-0)
7.  Raiders (0-0) at Panthers (0-0)
8.  Jets (0-0) at Bills (0-0)
9.  Browns (0-0) at Ravens (0-0)
10. Seahawks (0-0) at Falcons (0-0)
11. Chargers (0-0) at Bengals (0-0)
12. Cardinals (0-0) at 49ers (0-0)
13. Buccaneers (0-0) at Saints (0-0)
14. Cowboys (0-0) at Rams (0-0)

15. Steelers (0-0) at Giants (0-0)
16. Titans (0-0) at Broncos (0-0)

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Race of the Day- Texas U.S. Senate

Texas U.S. Senate

56 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

As political junkies know, Texas has not voted for a Democrat at the Presidential level since 1976. Even more eye-opening than that is that the state has not voted for a Democrat in any state since 1994, and have not won a truly competitive race statewide since 1990. Many expect this will change... eventually, as Texas grows in its share of population of African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and also now upscale suburbanites. In 2016, Donald Trump's winning margin in the state, while still nine points, was down seven points from the winning margin of Mitt Romney in 2012. Two years later, Democrat Beto O'Rourke held first term GOP Senator Ted Cruz to a mere three point victory while down the ballot, Democrats picked up a handful of suburban Congressional districts from Republicans.

Statewide though, it is well to remember that "moral victories" in politics do not translate into much more than that. Will 2020 be the year that a Democrat wins the state's Electoral Votes and with it a near certainty of victory for the party? Will it be the year that a Democrat knocks off a once unassailable GOP Senate incumbent? Neither is out of the question at the moment, but the former seems a bit more possible than the latter. Democrats across the country and in Texas would take that deal. Of course, the party needs not to carry Texas to win either the White House or Senate. It just would make this political year look like a tremendous repudiation of Trumpism.

John Cornyn was elected statewide to the Texas Supreme Court and then as the state's Attorney General before his initial election to the Senate in 2002. In that Senate victory and his two reelections, he has never received less than 55 percent of the vote or anything other than a double digit victory. In the Senate, Cornyn has risen to be the number two Republican and has amassed a solidly conservative voting record. Still, he has managed to avoid too much in the way of negative headlines or controversy by being fairly low-key and civil in his dealings on Capitol Hill. For that reason, a good deal of movement conservatives in the state have taken issue with him and far prefer the hard charging style of the state's junior Senator, Ted Cruz.

The respect that Cornyn had in the Senate led to discussion of him being named as FBI Director after Donald Trump fired James Comey. At the time, even many Republicans agreed that as much as they respected Cornyn, it would be a bad idea to have someone so associated with politics in that position. Times have changed since then, as Trump nominees in the Executive Branch have been expected to show loyalty and Legislative Branch Republicans have become far less likely to complain. The controversies that engulf Trump on a consistent basis are pretty much the main reason why Cornyn might be remotely vulnerable in this cycle.  The Senate Majority Whip has tried to carefully sidestep Trump on some matters but for the most part has been expected to demonstrate loyalty to the incumbent President's agenda and defend him personally. A serious primary challenge against Cornyn did not emerge this cycle (he had to defeat a gadfly former Congressman six years earlier), but still 24 percent of Texas Republicans voted for someone else in March.

After coming fairly close in 2018, Democrats looked for a chance to take out Cornyn, although they conceded he would be a tougher target than Ted Cruz. Beto O'Rourke, now a former Congressman, decided he would rather mount what would be a disappointing campaign for President than run for the Senate, and when that attempt came to an end, he would not be persuaded to jump in against Cornyn. The same can be said of former HUD Secretary Julian Castro who took the same routes, as well as his twin brother Congressman Joaquin Castro, who probably figured that there would be enough confusion this cycle between him and his brother.

Instead, Texas Democrats did what their brethren in Kentucky did and sought to gather backing behind a female war veteran and pilot who ran but ultimately lost competitive Congressional races in 2018. In the Lone Star State, that is Air Force veteran and Afghan War veteran MJ Hegar. A nominal Republican until the nomination of Trump, Hegar ran for political office for the first time in 2018 and was a serious competitor to GOP Congressman John Carter, who had never had a difficult race, and in what had been a solidly Republican district. In some districts, Democrats won suburban areas, but here, Carter hung on to defeat Hegar 51-48, a margin nearly identical to Cruz's statewide win over O'Rourke.

Having been convinced to take her political identity statewide, Hegar would not have the Democrats' primary field to herself. A slew of candidates was also on the March ballot, which most claiming to be a more progressive Democrat. Hegar would place first with 22 percent, nearly eight points ahead of Royce West, one of the top ranking State Senators in his party, and an African-American, 24 years her senior. A young Latina labor organizer came in third with 13 percent.

The runoff would not be until July and in theory it seemed possible that supporters of the more left-wing candidates would gravitate to West, as he went about trying to portray himself as a more loyal Democrat. There were ethical concerns though about the State Senator during his long time in politics and the DSCC was all in on Hegar, liking her biography and appeal to suburban Republican women. Those type of voters, many of whom had joined Hegar in becoming Democrats likely made the difference as she won the runoff 52-48.

Every poll in this race has continued to show Cornyn ahead of Hegar, but by underwhelming margins and with many undecided voters. The most recent poll, just released today, shows the incumbent's lead at 44-40. That same survey shows the Trump-Biden contest statewide is even closer. There are definitely going to be some Biden/Cornyn voters but virtually none for Trump/Hegar. If she is to pull off what would be a major upset, Hegar will need to hope for every strong turnout and enthusiasm for Democrats across the board in Texas. She will also need to win a large amount of the undecided vote, which may be disaffected Republicans (putting aside the folks on the right who distrust Cornyn), who may come home to vote for the Senator at the end, especially if the thinking is that Democrats will win the Presidency and a Republican Senate would be needed for balance.

The fundamentals of this race favor Cornyn and the Republicans but it will be a more difficult challenge than he faced before. While Republicans made gains in the Rust Belt in 2016 under Trump, a hugely underreported story is how the party has decreased in strength in a one time Sunbelt monolith like Texas due to Trump and what that might mean for future elections. Latinos are a big part of the picture and some are even starting to speculate that Florida. a state with many Latinos as well, may be more Republican than Texas in the near future. When George W. Bush was Governor of Texas and President, he won very strong support for a Republican among Texas Hispanics, but those days seem to be gone. For now, the GOP will probably hold on and continue it's winning streak, at least at the Senate level.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

15 D (6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
17 R (6 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

50 Democrats (35 holdovers, 6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
47 Republicans (30 holdovers, 6 Safe, 4 Likely, 5 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Monday, September 07, 2020

Race of the Day- Tennessee U.S. Senate

Tennessee U.S. Senate

57 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Very few open U.S. Senate seats have contained as many storylines leading up to the nominations via an August primary, only to have the general election be all but an afterthought.

Republicans have dominated in the Volunteer State for much of the last generation and it has been thirty years since a Democrat last won a Senate election. After that last victory, Al Gore would go on to become Vice President and both Senate seats have been Republican since the 1994 elections. Lamar Alexander came to the Senate relatively late in his political life, having been a Governor, Cabinet Secretary, and two time Presidential candidate. The term limit advocate would go on to serve three terms in Washington D.C., much of it in the GOP Leadership. While his voting record was reliably conservative, he was never a favorite of the Tea Party or movement types. "Lamar!" had to endure a difficult primary challenge in his last run.

It did not come as huge surprise when Alexander announced at the end of 2018 that he would not seek another term. That year had seen his fellow Senator, Bob Corker, also a relatively moderate southern Republican, pass up running again, after having had differences with Donald Trump, only to see the seat go to a candidate more beloved on the party's right flank. With Alexander retiring, just about every prominent Republican in the state was mentioned as a possible successor. Establishment types were disappointed when the popular former Governor Bill Haslam declined a run. Others were hoping that retired NFL Quarterback great Peyton Manning would run.

Eventually, no fewer than 15 Republicans filed to run in the primary, although the contest came down to one between an establishment backed candidate (which included an early endorsement from Donald Trump) and an insurgent who claimed to be the true conservative.

Bill Hagerty had long been involved in finance and in Republican politics. His most recent job had been as U.S. Ambassador to Japan under Donald Trump, but he resigned that post to run for the Senate, with Trump's public encouragement. Before his association with Trump though, Hagerty had been one of the establishment types that Trumpists rail against. For example, he was an early supporter and fundraiser for Jeb Bush's 2016 Presidential effort, and four years earlier had been a staunch backer of Mitt Romney. With support and money behind him for this Senate race, Hagerty was considered a strong front-runner.

He would be challenged though by Manny Sethi, a 42 year old orthopedic trauma surgeon and the son of Indian immigrants. His standing as a young surgical field outsider was in some ways reminiscent of how former Senator Bill Frist first came to office in Tennessee. The two men would actually work together on a health policy book and Sethi became more active politically, especially as it related to health care matters.

Needing an opening against Hagerty, Sethi attacked him for his past donations, including to Bush and Romney. He seemed to focus heavily on his opponent's past support of Romney in 2012, as if he somehow thought it would have been better if Hagerty had support Barack Obama's reelection. The efforts to portray Hagerty as a "RINO" started to pay off though, even as he had Trump's open support. Sethi would roll out endorsements from various prominent conservatives himself.  Hagerty insisted he was a Trump supporter through and through and all but rejected his past support of Romney. Interestingly enough, the candidate did not reject support from Jeb Bush. Perhaps that is because Romney voted to convict Trump in an impeachment trial and Bush did not take a public stance. Ultimately Hagerty won, and by a somewhat larger than expected margin of 51-39.

In the meantime, Democrats, always an underdog for this seat, had their own less visible primary process would would wind up yielding one of the larger surprises of the cycle. With all well known party members taking a pass, the nod seemed to go to James Mackler, an attorney who played up his time in the U.S. Army. He had wanted to run for the Senate in 2018, but withdrew in favor of a former Democrat Governor. In making this bid, Mackler was successful in raising a considerable amount of money and was considered all but a shoo-in for the nomination. He would be a hefty underdog against any Republican, but was considered someone who could win crossover votes and be credible for his party.

Without much attention to this fie way primary and without any apparent polling, Mackler was upset. He not only lost, but finished in third place with just 24 percent of the primary vote. In the wake of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement this past summer, and with African-Americans now making up the most significant portion of those left in Tennessee who identify as Democrats, the top two finishers in the primary were both African-American women, a group that had never previously been nominated for statewide office in Tennessee.

Even more so, the winner of the primary was less well-known and less funded than the second place finisher. Victorious with about 36 percent of the vote was Marquita Bradshaw an insurance agent from Memphis who had been an environmental activist. She had barely spent any money on this Senate campaign. In second place, nearly nine points behind was Robin Kimbrough Hayes, an attorney and clergymember from Nashville. The winner Bradshaw seems to be a good deal younger than Hayes. I think it should be recognized, without controversy, that in this very low-key primary, Marquita Bradshaw had a very advantageous first name for the ballot.

The big picture is that any Republican was going to win this seat. After all, Democrats had lost by double digits for the open seat in 2018, when they seemingly had more to their favor in terms of candidates. It is also true that Mackler and for that matter Hayes would also probably be more competitive than Bradshaw is likely to be in a general election. Nonetheless, her impressive primary victory, while being outraised (by the bronze medalist) $2.1 million to less than $10,000 speaks to the political environment and energy among Democrats this year in down-ballot races.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

15 D (6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
16 R (6 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

50 Democrats (35 holdovers, 6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
46 Republicans (30 holdovers, 6 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Race of the Day- South Dakota U.S. Senate

South Dakota U.S. Senate

58 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Safe Republican

In the early part of this century, Democrats held both of the South Dakota Senate seats and there were some epic electoral battles in attempts to flip them. The turn to an all Republican delegation was complete in 2014 as former Governor Mike Rounds won an open seat, although with just 50 percent of the vote in a three way race against the Democrats' nominee and a former GOP U.S. Senator running as an Independent.

As he seeks a second term, Rounds should not have much trouble at all. Some on the right in this conservative state continue to have issues with Rounds from back when he was a two term Governor between 2003 and 2011. State Representative Scyller Borglum challenged the incumbent in the June primary. She took just 25 percent of the vote though after a campaign promising to bring an outsider's perspective and also more vigorously defend the Presidency of Donald Trump.

The only Democrat to file for this race was Daniel Ahlers who went from the State House to the State Senate, and then a few years later back to the State House, before ultimately losing a close race for reelection in 2018. This will not be a competitive race, but Democrats are likely happy to just to have a candidate. In the somewhat recent past, they have gone without a U.S. Senate nominee, and indeed this year are not challenging the reelection of the state's freshman U.S. House member.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

15 D (6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
15 R (5 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

50 Democrats (35 holdovers, 6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
45 Republicans (30 holdovers, 5 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Race for the White House # 88

59 Days Until Election Day

Labor Day Weekend symbolizes the homestretch of a campaign. Today, the homestretch of the Kentucky Derby, previously always held in May, was run, without anyone in the stands. The homestretch of the Presidential race will feel similar, although one campaign is doing far more in regards to in person rallies than the other. All of this is happening in the wake of at least two incidents in which Americans have killed other Americans in the streets of our country over harshly set political dividing lines. While both incidents were declared acts of self defense, one shooter from the right tribe is behind bars and the other from the left tribe is now dead himself. Will it wind up getting even worse than this?

For many reasons, I want this campaign to be over with. First and foremost, I really want to see Donald Trump lose. I always knew he was basically a scumbag but sometimes the point is just reinforced and the last few days have done that. I still cannot bring myself to vote for Joe Biden but I am more tempted to than before. The fact that I do not live in a swing state makes it easier for me to not have to think about it a lot.

Voting is now underway in America. People are able to fill out and send in their mail in ballots in a small number of states with more coming. While the minds of most American voters are made up. I do think this is all too early. The Trump campaign makes a valid point about voting taking place weeks before any of the debates. In theory, something could happen that could make one regret a vote that they already cast. I think some early and absentee voting is absolutely necessary, especially during a pandemic, but two months worth feels like way too much. Nonetheless, this election is basically and ultimatum on Trump and in that regard his opponent or the actions of his opponent do not matter, nor will anything Trump ever says or does matter to most of his supporters.

A week ago, Trump supporters were heartened by Republican National Convention thinking that real momentum in the race was back on the side of the incumbent. I was skeptical then and all sorts of polls from the past week show that the fundamentals of the race remain strongly towards Biden. Those who back Trump point to him having a good week in the Rasmussen tracking poll in terms of his job approval, but they also had him going up the week of the Democrat Convention, only to have him going down the week of the Republican Convention. Does that make much sense? They just have his job approval numbers on a perpetual ferris wheel. The supporters of the Republican nominee believe though (or state so when asked) that the polls are "fake" and that they are not concerned. They think the polls are greatly understating Trump supporters as was the case in 2016 (though apparently not in the elections of' '17, '18, and '19.) While a couple of states turned out to be surprise victories for Trump last time, the overall polling was fairly decent from a scientific perspective. People just did not want to believe that Trump was as close to Hillary Clinton as he was then. Four years later, Biden's lead is larger, so those who want Trump to be reelected have to really hope that there is tremendous systemic errors in polling methodology.

Those who want Trump to win have to overlook a lot. I have always said that there are many great, patriotic Americans who are voting for Trump for what they view as legitimate reasons. That does not mean though that they are not choosing to turn a blind eye to pretty blatant appeals to white nationalist sentiment or grievances against immigrants. It does not mean they believe or even like all that themselves, but they choose to push it aside in their minds for other reasons, mainly because they fear what might happen to the country if the other side wins. To them, disgrace is preferable than danger.

That is a dangerous mindset. As the saying goes, "any nation that can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one." Donald Trump would love to be that master if he could and there is literally no telling what he would try to do if he could get away with it. That is the greatest danger of all. Some of us knew early on, especially from his attack on John McCain in 2015, just what little regard Trump held the military. The revelations in the anonymously sourced but heavily corroborated piece in "The Atlantic" from late this week do not offer too much in the way of actual surprises but does paint a very bleak picture on the soul of Donald J. Trump.

I believe every word of the article and have little doubt that former top ranking Trump Administration officials just as General John Kelly or General James Mattis may be the very people who who are quoted in it but chose to keep their names out. I wish they would go public but they are choosing not to. Trump denies any of it is true, but we have heard him say these things about McCain, such as calling him a "loser" with our own ears. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, odds are it is a traitor as President of the United States. Trump used the occasion yesterday to viciously attack General Kelly, his former Chief of Staff, from the White House podium, signifying he believes that Kelly is the source of much of the article and quoted him accurately. You would think that disrespecting the service of Kelly's 29 year old son, killed in Afghanistan, while standing next to his father at the gravesite would have been insult enough.

If the article is accurate, and I think even his supporters know in their heart of hearts that it is, as they excuse it away in their minds, how is Trump anything less than a traitor? He does not care about anyone other than himself or what people can do for him. Just look at the way he attacked Joe Biden this week for wearing a mask. How many of his supporters will put their lives at risk or the lives of others just to prove a "political point?"

We have an article which talks of Trump calling soldiers killed in wars "losers and suckers." He does not understand why we got involved in World War I or who the "good guys" were in that war. I always knew he did not want to go to that cemetery in 2018 because he was worried about his hair, but his disregard for the military apparently goes far beyond that. He can believe anything he wants about McCain or George H.W. Bush and their service, but just imagine what it feels like for the families of those lost or wounded in more recent wars to hear these attitudes. We are told that Trump does not understand why anyone would fight for their country. "I don't get it. What was in it for them?" They were not going to make any money fighting for America. No, he must really not get it. He is a man who if he would have been President at an earlier time, would have rushed to appease Hitler and would have cowered in the face of Communism. Than G-d he was not. Now, in 2020, America has a different "rendezvous with destiny" and that is rejecting him and what he stands for in a way that such a mistake is never made again.

Those who will still vote for Trump, for whatever reason, need to ask themselves if this is really want they want to see in a President. Those who claim to be conservatives need to especially ask of if themselves. Trump is a foreign policy isolationist. That is not a huge secret and while it is bad policy, it is a legitimate viewpoint, albeit one completely at odds with post-war conservatism. He actually views the military though and those who make up its ranks in a way that is an extreme example of how many on the right believe the far left view military service and the institution of the Armed Forces. This is somehow less dangerous than liberal judges?

Perhaps the one biggest surprise in the article was that in the military parade he wanted thrown in his honor, he did not want any amputees from the war visible. "Nobody wants to see that", he is alleged to have said. That is literally something out of "Veep" the satirical HBO series in which an irredeemable Democrat who would become President, had the same attitude about amputees. Suddenly it is real though and sickening.

Those who have fought for our country, whether they were drafted or volunteered, at any point in our history were not "losers" or "suckers." Those especially alive among us who left their arms or legs on the battlefield or suffered traumatic spinal or brain injuries do not deserve to be derided but honored. At least we know Joe Biden, for all his flaws, will do that. I hope they are front and center at the next Inauguration, whether Trump shows up or not. They perhaps make him uncomfortable to look at because he knows they represent the honor that he will never have.

At the age of 74, Donald Trump will always see the world in terms of his version of "winners and losers." There is nobody more deserving of the title "loser" now and for history than he. If America is to be what America has always been, that needs to happen in 59 days.

In the words of Joe Biden, "may G-d protect our troops."

Friday, September 04, 2020

Race of the Day- South Carolina U.S. Senate

South Carolina U.S. Senate

60 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

If you watch CNN or MSNBC, you have probably seen a campaign ad or two for the Democrat nominee for the U.S. Senate, whether you live in South Carolina or not. This is an interesting strategy that has seemingly helped a challenger raise a lot of money around the country but may not necessarily translate to votes. Clearly though, this race is a cause celebre on the Left and if an upset occurs, it will send them into delirium.

Early in 2020, as a highly anticipated Presidential primary approached, Democrats in South Carolina decided to unite around the candidacy of Jamie Harrison. A lobbyist and political operative, Harrison became the Chairman of the near dormant South Carolina political party in 2013, the first African-American to hold that post. After 2016, he decided he wanted to be the DNC Chairman but fell short in that venture but became more involved at the national level. During his time as Chair in South Carolina, not a single Democrat has come close to winning a statewide office or a Congressional seat beyond the heavily African-American district represented by James Clyburn.

Of course this race is mostly about the Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham, whom throughout his career has stood out for bold proclamations and unusual shifts in loyalty that some find hard to explain. A young Air Force veteran, who had raised his younger sister after their parents died, Graham was elected to Congress as part of the large GOP Freshman Class of 1994, just as his state was completing a transition from one dominated by Democrats to one much more friendly to conservative Republicans.

Early in his Congressional career, Graham, a hard charging conservative took part in a failed effort to overthrow Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House and a couple years later would be an impeachment manager in the trial of Bill Clinton. At that time, he stated that personal behavior and honesty mattered in the Presidency and demanded that Clinton be removed. In 2002, the party turned to him to succeed the legendary Strom Thurmond in the Senate with the expectation that he would be around for a long time.

Graham's stint as a Senator confounded many on the right, even after he had previously supported John McCain for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2000. As Senate colleagues, Graham and McCain became very close and along with Democrat colleague Joe Lieberman, were known as the "Three Amigos." Talk radio figures and others took issue with Graham calling for a welcoming immigration policy and some other things that made him look like a relative moderate, all while being quite hawkish on foreign policy and national defense issues. Had McCain won the Presidency in 2008, it is likely Graham would have had a large role in the Administration. Instead, the Senator won a second term against a Democrat, who oddly ran mostly to Graham's right.

By 2014 and the rise of the Tea Party Movement, many in the heavily Republican state were focused on knocking Graham off in a primary. He made some moves though to appeal to conservatives back at home and avoided a runoff by topping a crowded and divided field of primary opponents with 56 percent of the vote. The general election was fairly easy, even with a former statewide Republican official turned federal convict (and eventual sleazy reality show participant) attempting to run as an Independent.

After this victory, Graham attempted to launch a long-shot bid for the Republican Presidential nomination. Even many in the party who were sympathetic to him on the issues were aligned with other candidates and Graham struggled to gain any traction. One of the things he had to deal with is his status as a lifelong bachelor. He promised that he would have a "rotation of First Ladies" if elected President. Throughout his years in politics, Graham has had to endure quips about his masculinity and rumors of a secretive personal life from critics on both the left and right.

What Graham's Presidential campaign may be best known for though is the way that Donald Trump attacked him after Graham justifiably criticized him. The men would go after each other in personal terms using colorful language and on one occasion Trump revealed Graham's personal cell phone number to a campaign audience. Upon exiting the primary field, Graham endorsed Jeb Bush. When Trump emerged as the nominee, the Senator said his party had gone "batshit crazy" and that he could never vote for Trump, whom he predicted would lose easily.

Lo and behold though Trump won. and even as Trump continued the attacks on Graham's dear friend John McCain, including while he was dying of cancer and even after, the South Carolinian has taken steps to cozy up to Trump. Some saw this as an attempt to try to exert influence over Trump on policy matters while others just assumed Graham had the 2020 Republican Senate primary on his mind. The two men would play golf and were said to talk a lot behind the scenes and Graham has gone to great lengths on most occasions to defend or excuse the record or rhetoric of Trump. Sometimes though, he has expressed some level of disagreement with Trump and Trump then fires back on Twitter and Graham seems to clam up.

Republicans were very impressed by the impassioned way that Graham stood up for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during salacious confirmation  hearings and Graham now is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and has been responsible for helping confirm Trump's judicial nominations. Presently, after not voting for him in 2016, Graham is a staunch supporter of Trump's reelection efforts in a state where Republicans have dominated at the Presidential level. It is also true that the things Graham said in very harsh personal terms about Trump before make him look extremely hypocritical as does his stance on impeaching Clinton while excusing Trump on all impeachment related matters. (And of course, the Democrats who fought back against all the Graham rhetoric and standards against Clinton 20 years ago now fully embraced it against Trump.) In addition to all the things said about Trump, in which he basically said "go to hell", Graham once effusively and with apparent tears in his eyes praised Joe Biden on a personal level.

Right before the June primary this year, Trump officially endorsed Graham for renomination. Still 32 percent of the state's GOP primary voters chose one of his little known opponents. While it would not have made a difference in this cycle, it is true that Graham has benefited by so many opponents running against him and dividing up the opposition. Moving on to the general election, Graham is pretty much tied to Trump and has to come to terms with the fact that he will have both lost supporters because of the shift in his approach to Trump and that there are some die-hard Trumpists who will never support Lindsey "Grahmnesty" (a Rush Limbaugh nickname.)

In the summer of 2015, Graham said that Trump's disrespect towards the military was a "disqualifying characteristic to be President." The news today is about an article in which senior Administration officials confirmed the disrespect that Trump has for the military including the war dead and leaves no doubt about his lingering hatred towards John McCain. One has to wonder what Lindsey Graham must be privately thinking and what he intends to say publicly

Throughout this campaign, polls have shown that the Democrat Harrison is hot on Graham's heels in South Carolina. Some recent ones even show a dead heat. Clearly, Graham wants to keep his job in the Senate because he believes he has the most to offer his state and nation. That is understandable for any politician, but the inner conflict has to be substantial. The last few years I have sort of had the hunch that Graham had perhaps gotten close to Trump and earned his trust only to ultimately betray him in the end in the name of personal vengeance for himself, the McCain family, or just the country itself. After impeachment though, I do not really think that anymore though. Graham just wants to hang on to power and will hop on any vehicle he thinks he has to. In the near future, he may go back to being very critical of the Trump era. I like his voting record in many regards but is hard to see him as anything other than an unprincipled sell-out.

Graham made the consideration that opposing Trump would mean defeat in a Republican primary and perhaps he was right about that. The irony now is that by supporting Trump, he may lose his seat to a Democrat and a far more liberal opponent. While it would still be a tremendous upset for Biden to beat Trump in South Carolina, the polls in that race show a closer contest than should exist for any Republican and there is said to be great motivation in the African-American community to vote. Clearly that will benefit Harrison, even as South Carolina's other U.S. Senator is a highly regarded and politically promising black Republican.

I will still give the edge to Graham in this race. South Carolina is still a conservative state and like some other races this cycle, I think conservatives, now likely counted in polls as "undecided" will "come home" to him at the end, even as they dislike him to this day for once daring to oppose Trump or occasionally criticizing him on relatively minor matters now. If this turns out to be wrong though and Graham is actually beaten, that will be one of the biggest stories of the political year and the last chapter of a Shakespearean like drama.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

15 D (6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup) 
14 R (4 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

50 Democrats (35 holdovers, 6 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Lean, 3 Tossup)
44 Republicans (30 holdovers, 4 Safe, 4 Likely, 4 Lean, 2 Tossup)