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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

West Virginia Democrat, Managing Election Laws, Violates Own Rules



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Of course:

The state’s chief election officer may have violated state election laws when she brought a group of supporters to the Kanawha County Voters Registration Office today.

On Wednesday, the first day for early voting in West Virginia, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for U.S. Senate, led a group of supporters down Court Street to cast their ballots and proceeded to stump on the building’s front steps, an activity her office’s voting guide describes as “prohibited.”

Laws are for the little people.

In the photo above from the Charleston Daily Mail, Tennant campaigns on the front steps of a voter registration office.

 

Tags: West Virginia , Natalie Tennant

Updated Early Vote Numbers for Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Louisiana



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The Colorado secretary of state announced today that 332,050 Coloradans have cast ballots already, and out of that total, 145,824 are registered Republicans, and 105,401 are registered Democrats. That translates to a 43.9 percent to 31.7 percent advantage for the GOP.

In 2012, as Barack Obama was winning the state 51 percent to 46 percent, Republicans led the 1.7 million mail ballots cast in 2012 by 37 percent to 35 percent. So Republicans should be expected to lead, but a 12-point lead is better news than a 2-point lead.

In Florida, the news is also good for Republicans, but the figures could change quickly: 559,133 registered Republicans have voted early or absentee, 421,425 registered Democrats, and 198,423 independent or other. That translates to a 47 percent to 36 percent advantage. The Miami Herald summarizes:

History aside, the advantage is with Gov. Rick Scott right now for a simple reason: More of his people are voting. And the fact is, Democrats pride themselves on doing well in early voting. And they’re losing it at the moment. The big test comes Saturday and Sunday, the first full weekend for early voting, when Democrats tend to flock to the polls.

In Iowa, the GOP and Democrats are nearly tied in the number of returned absentee ballots — a mere 170-vote difference in favor of registered Democrats, with 238,147 ballots returned.

If Democrats want good cheer, they can point to Louisiana, where 20,760 of the first 38,620 ballots were cast by registered Democrats, and only 12,883 by Republicans. But this partially reflects the heavy partisan divide in the state’s registration; Louisiana has an electorate consisting of 47.1 percent registered Democrats and 27.5 percent registered Republicans, while having a GOP governor, one GOP U.S. senator and one Democratic one, and five Republican members out of six in the state’s congressional delegation.

Also note that those 38,000 ballots represent a small fraction of the expected total vote; back in 2010, with a less competitive U.S. Senate race, more than 1.2 million ballots were cast.

Tags: Early Voting

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What Does the GOP’s Big Lead in Nevada’s Early Vote Mean?



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The early-vote figures in Nevada look phenomenally good for Republicans and phenomenally bad for Democrats. While Republicans may hope it’s an early indicator of a wide-ranging national wave in favor of the GOP, there are some factors there that are unique to Nevada.

For starters, this year Nevada doesn’t have a big statewide race with the high stakes and drama of 2010’s Harry Reid–Sharron Angle showdown. And the Democrats effectively conceded the governor’s race against Republican Brian Sandoval, as little-known Bob Goodman, a former Nevada state economic developer, will be the token opposition in this race.

But Jon Ralston, the foremost journalist covering Nevada politics, thinks this is something bigger that merely a state Democratic party feeling the blahs.

“Yes, the Democrats conceded the governor’s race,” Ralston said. “Yes, they always knew it was a tough year with no [big race at the] top of the ticket. But I don’t think anyone expected how tilted it has been so far. The GOP is 10 points over registration; Democrats barely holding theirs. If that keeps up, it will be a disaster for the Democrats on Nov. 4.”

And while the gubernatorial race wasn’t expected to be competitive, Nevada Democrats had high hopes for the lieutenant governor’s race — as Sandoval is believed to be a potential Senate candidate in 2016 against Harry Reid. A Democratic lieutenant governor would make that decision much harder for Sandoval. The current lieutenant governor, Brian K. Krolicki, is term-limited; GOP state senator Mark Hutchison is competing against Democratic assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

Democrats currently hold most of the other statewide offices — secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and controller.

Ralston warns that the Democrats “could lose every statewide race and sure things such as Rep. Steven Horsford in the fourth Congressional District could be in jeopardy — that’s why Crossroads just dumped a million bucks on TV here to hit Horsford.” State assemblyman Crescent Hardy is running for the Republicans in that district.

Ralston cautions that Democrats could still turn it around, with 10 days of early voting left, and Election Day. But in Nevada more than half, maybe 60 percent, will vote early; in 2012, 60.9 percent of votes were cast early at polling places and another 8.4 percent were absentee.

“The problem is Dems running statewide will not be able to bank the firewall of votes in Clark County to hold off losses in rural and Northern Nevada,” Ralston says. “For example, they had a 25,000-vote lead after early voting in Clark four years ago. Right now, GOP has a slight lead. I have never seen that.”

Nevada Democrats are experiencing what a lot of Democrats across the country are finding — that without President Obama on the ballot, or a Republican figure to turn into a convenient bogeyman to their base, a lot of rank-and-file Democrats just aren’t that motivated to vote.

Ralston concludes with one other thought: Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s turnout machine in 2010 dispelled the forecast of the late polls showing Angle ahead. This year, he, his top staff, and his allied Super-PAC are way more focused on preserving his Democratic Senate majority than on helping Democrats in his home state.

The NRSC’s headache is an opportunity for Nevada Republicans.

Tags: Nevada , Harry Reid

Multiple Shooting Attacks in Ottawa, Canada?



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This morning, the world watched with anxiety about reports of a shooting at a war memorial and then at the Parliament building in Ottawa, Canada. Now there is word of three separate shootings at three sites in the city — which appears to dispel the notion that this is the work of one disturbed individual.

According to the CBC, authorities say “two or three suspects are still at large.” While initial reports can be erroneous, multiple shootings at government targets suggest a coordinated terror attack.

Americans are feeling great anxiety these days; a terrorist attack on the capital of our northern neighbor would only worsen that anxiety.

Tags: Terrorism

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six



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In today’s Morning Jolt:

The Easy Way for Republicans to Count to Six

The Republicans need to pick up six Senate seats to control the chamber. Let’s count to six.

The GOP wins Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. One, two, three. I know there are some folks spinning the chances of Republican Mike Rounds losing in South Dakota, but he has yet to trail a poll.

Four: In Arkansas, the latest poll puts Republican Tom Cotton up by 8 points. Pryor has not led a poll this month.

Five: In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan has not trailed in any poll since early August.

Six: In Colorado, Cory Gardner led nine of the last ten polls. Tuesday the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling released a survey putting Gardner up by 3 points, Udall only leading women by 4 points, and “Udall continues to struggle with his approval numbers, as only 37% of voters think he’s doing a good job to 52% who disapprove.”

Let’s add another. Seven: In Iowa, Joni Ernst led five of the last six polls, and the sixth is a tie.

We’ll get to some of the other Republican pickup opportunities in a moment, but let’s take a look at the big three seats they’re defending.

Kentucky: Democrats are excited by a Survey USA poll — conducted over a weekend — putting McConnell up by just one point. But the last time Survey USA polled Kentucky, at the beginning of the month, Alison Lundergan Grimes led by 2, so this survey represents movement in the GOP direction. That poll was the only one in the past 15 surveys to show Grimes ahead.

Kansas: Democrats were so, so, so excited about this race, and admittedly, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts is not out of the woods yet. But he’s led three of the last four polls, and the one that had him trailing was PPP. That survey noted, “By a 52/35 margin, voters in the state would rather Republicans had control of the Senate than Democrats. And among those who are undecided there’s a 48/25 preference for a GOP controlled Senate.”

Georgia: Keep in mind, if no one gets 50 percent, this one goes to a runoff. You know how many times a poll has shown Democrat Michelle Nunn with 50 percent? Try none. (For what it’s worth, Purdue hit that level of support in a few polls.) In 2008, Democrats cheered that their Senate candidate, Jim Martin, kept Saxby Chambliss from hitting 50 percent and forced a runoff. But then, in the December 2 election, without Obama on the ticket, Chambliss won big — 57 percent to 42 percent. This year’s runoff election in Georgia would be held January 6, 2015! How confident should Democrats be that they could sustain enthusiasm for several months?

None of the Democrats’ pickup opportunities look like sure things right now. Could Republicans lose one of those seats? Yes. Could they lose two? Conceivably, but unlikely.

So let’s imagine the bad scenario, where Republicans lose Kansas, and Georgia, and subtract two. We’ve gone from seven to five.

Back to the Republicans’ pickup opportunities.

Louisiana: This one is almost certain to go to a runoff. Mary Landrieu is polling exceptionally badly for an incumbent in the first round — 36 percent, 41 percent, 36 percent – and Republican Bill Cassidy is winning all the runoff polling.

Add a Louisiana win, and Republicans go from five to six — controlling the Senate again.

Then there’s North Carolina, where Kay Hagan keeps leading by a small margin. Maybe that $6 million in television ads from the NRSC does the trick and Tillis wins.

Then there’s New Hampshire, where Jeanne Shaheen’s hanging on, leading by three here and there, trailing by one over there. Scott Brown traditionally outhustles his opponents, and maybe he gets a bit of momentum in these final weeks.

So in the worst-case scenario, losing Georgia and Kansas, and not winning North Carolina or New Hampshire, the GOP still picks up Senate control by winning the runoff in Louisiana.

Somebody’s in a good mood this morning.

Tags: Senate Elections , Senate Republicans

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‘A Vote for [Democratic Candidate Here] Is a Vote for Obama’s Failed Agenda.’



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More ads unveiled today:

Freedom Partners Action Fund, a free-market Super PAC, is launching a $6.5 million ad campaign designed to deliver a clear closing argument that a vote for the Democratic candidate in several states is a vote for President Obama’s failed agenda. The ads will air in Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, and online in New Hampshire . . . 

The ads all involve the general theme that the incumbent hasn’t earned the vote of the state, and tie the Democratic candidate to Obama, but they tailor their criticism to the particular flaws of each Democratic candidate. Here’s the one hitting Bruce Braley in Iowa:

The one hitting Mark Begich in Alaska:

The one hitting Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire:

The one hitting Kay Hagan in North Carolina:

Tags: Barack Obama , Kay Hagan , Bruce Braley , Jeanne Shaheen , Mark Begich

The Brutal Ads of 2014 Appear



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Lots of new campaign ads unveiled this morning.

That nutty liberal group that ran an ad blaming Republicans for the Ebola outbreak is now running an ad claiming Joni Ernst is responsible. The group’s release boasts, with perverse pride, “In launching this effort, we are the first major progressive group to directly blame GOP budget cuts for the nearly 4,500 deaths caused by the Ebola crisis.”

Meanwhile, Conservative War Chest is unveiling a hard-hitting ad comparing the foreign-policy crises of today to the crises of the 1970s and other dark chapters of recent American history, complete with an image of Ground Zero after 9/11 — “Here’s what every American needs to know about why liberals can’t protect them or their children . . . ” The group is running versions of the ad in North Carolina . . . 

. . . and, curiously, Minnesota . . . ​

Tags: Campaign Ads , Ebola , National Security , Al Franken , Kay Hagan

Kay Hagan, With Tiny Lead, Chooses to Skip Debate



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Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, chose to not appear at tonight’s debate against Republican Thom Tillis.

“Senator Hagan declined our invitation.”

For this decision, she was ripped by . . . Rachel Maddow, who describes the race as “basically tied” — Hagan has enjoyed a shrinking lead in recent weeks.

Maybe she had a cocktail hour to attend; that’s what kept her from an Armed Services Committee classified hearing on ISIS.

Tags: Kay Hagan , North Carolina , Thom Tillis

Latest AP National Poll Is a Nightmare for Democrats



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This new poll from the Associated Press is about as dire a poll as Democrats could imagine two weeks before Election Day.

Democrats are more trusted than the GOP on just two of nine top issues, the poll showed. 

The economy remains the top issue for likely voters — 91 percent call it “extremely” or “very” important. And the GOP has increased its advantage as the party more trusted to handle the issue to a margin of 39 percent to 31 percent.

With control of the Senate at stake, both parties say they are relying on robust voter-turnout operations — and monster campaign spending — to lift their candidates in the final days. But the poll suggests any appeals they’ve made so far haven’t done much to boost turnout among those already registered. The share who report that they are certain to vote in this year’s contests has risen just slightly since September, and interest in news about the campaign has held steady.

Now brace yourself:

The GOP holds a significant lead among those most likely to cast ballots: 47 percent of these voters favor a Republican controlled-Congress, 39 percent a Democratic one. That’s a shift in the GOP’s favor since an AP-GfK poll in late September, when the two parties ran about evenly among likely voters.

Women have moved in the GOP’s direction since September. In last month’s AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent prefer the Republicans, 42 percent the Democrats.

The gender gap disappearing almost entirely would be a shocking development; at this point, it’s just one poll, but it’s something to look for in future polls. Democrats can console themselves that this is a national poll, and the biggest fights of the midterm — the Senate races — are occurring in about a dozen states. Having said that, almost all of those states are Republican-leaning ones that Romney won. If the national electorate is sour on Democrats, it’s extremely difficult to envision a scenario where Arkansas’s Mark Pryor hangs on despite the pro-GOP atmosphere, and Alaska’s Mark Begich, and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, and so on for the other endangered red-state Democratic senators. One or two might survive, but the rest . . . 

The polls are grim, Mr. President.

Tags: Democrats , Associated Press , Polling

What’s Wrong With Oregon Republicans?



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Another Un-charismatic, Underachieving Partisan Democrat Coasts to Reelection

I know what you want to hear. You want to hear that Republican Monica Wehby has a shot at winning Oregon’s Senate race.

She’s trailing most polls by 10 to 20 points, so . . . sorry, no good news here.

You may ask, “What’s wrong with Oregonians?” Maybe a fair question is, “What’s wrong with Oregon Republicans?”

A pediatric neurosurgeon and mother of four, she appealed to moderate Republicans fed up with Obamacare and big government.

But polls now put Wehby behind by 10 to 15 percentage points.

A poll released last week showed only 52 percent of Republicans plan to vote for Wehby, while 22 percent said they’re still undecided.

The talk of a potential GOP upset here in Oregon earlier in the year wasn’t just hype; incumbent Democratic senator Jeff Merkley has genuinely “blah” numbers for a guy asking for another term. The percentage of Oregon voters who approve of the job he’s doing is usually in the low 40s, and the percentage who disapprove is in the mid-30s. He has mind-bogglingly low name ID for an incumbent U.S. senator; as noted yesterday, “Senator Merkley was recognized by 46 percent as his party’s candidate.” It’s as if he’s been in the Witness Protection Program.

Merkley is not a whirling dervish of raw political charisma, nor an unstoppable vote-accumulating machine. In 2008, Barack Obama received 1,037,291 votes in Oregon — 56.7 percent of the vote. That year, in his first statewide bid, Merkley won 864,392 votes, or 48.9 percent of the vote — 3.4 percent more than the incumbent Republican senator he beat, Gordon Smith. He underperformed the margin projected in most of the final polls.

Back in July, George Will wrote a column that made Republicans’ hearts skip a beat, declaring, “Senator Tom Coburn is retiring, but another doctor may be coming, straight from the operating room to her first elected office.”

The editorial board of the Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper, chose to not endorse a candidate this year. They concluded Merkley was a shameless partisan hack, and then detailed the personal scandals in Wehby’s past years that made them deem her unworthy of support:

The collapse of Wehby’s campaign has been almost painful to watch. First was the late-breaking revelation this spring of a 911 call made in 2013 by estranged boyfriend Andrew Miller, who reached for the phone as Wehby entered his house without permission. He accused her of stalking him. Shortly thereafter, Oregonians learned that Wehby’s ex-husband had called the cops on her in 2009. According to a police report filed two years earlier, her ex accused her of “ongoing harassment.”

The incidents raise obvious questions about judgment and self-control, but just as significant are questions about anticipation. Did Wehby and her campaign really think these episodes wouldn’t come to light? If so, they were shockingly naïve.

Oregonians don’t expect such shocking and unnerving revelations from a potential senator. They expect it from their state’s first lady.

A lesson: In the lazy Democrat media’s template, every Republican is either dumb, evil, or old. Because they can’t portray a pediatric neurosurgeon as dumb, they’ll paint her as evil or a variant of it, crazy. Because we all know how ruthless and black-hearted those pediatric neurosurgeons are, right?

So what should we expect in November? Recent history suggests flawed Democratic candidates can coast along, relying on the Oregonians’ voting habits’ being set on autopilot — particularly in the state’s most populous counties.

Yesterday we discussed how it’s difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a Republican to win statewide in Oregon when they’re getting blown out in the state’s largest city, Portland. It’s not that Republicans need to win the land of microbrews, mustaches, fig-and-gorgonzola pastries, and a general hipster culture that’s convinced it’s still the counterculture no matter how widespread and popular it gets. But a winning GOP candidate would need to keep the margin manageable so the Republican margins in the rest of the heavily rural state could put him or her over the top.

Four years ago, in the previous midterm of the Obama era, longtime incumbent Ron Wyden ran for reelection. He was challenged by Jim Huffman, law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. While his fellow Republican Chris Dudley came within 1.5 percent in the governor’s race, Huffman lost by 18 percentage points.

In 2010, Democrat John Kitzhaber won 198,157 votes here to Dudley’s 76,915 in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. That year, Wyden won 212,371 votes to Huffman’s 56,513 — an even more lopsided 76 percent to 20 percent margin. (And Huffman lived and worked in Portland!)

Tags: Oregon , Monica Wehby , Jeff Merkeley

Can This Really Be Wendy Davis’s True Goal?



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Every once in a while, when a celebrity within the conservative movement hints at a presidential campaign, cynics will chuckle, “He’s really running for a Fox News gig.” In late 2011, four names mentioned as potential GOP presidential candidates were under contract with Fox News: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Santorum and Gingrich ran, and won several primaries.

Down in Texas, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is concluding her doomed campaign with increasingly embarrassing over-the-top attacks on Republican Greg Abbott — as NRO Cruise guest Guy Benson summarizes her argument, “He’s confined to a wheelchair, but cares not about people with disabilities. He’s married to a Latina, but may oppose interracial marriage.” Why the last minute, ultra-low mudslinging?

And now the Democrats begin to live with candidates who appear to want to win a cable-news contract more than they want to win actual votes. If this is true . . . how do all of her donors feel? How do Texas Democrats feel about her using their gubernatorial nomination as an $11 million audition tape for MSNBC?

We hear a lot of voices lamenting our nasty political environment, and uglier, harsher public discourse. If this campaign, with this tone, gets Wendy Davis an MSNBC gig, who is really responsible for the tone of our debate?

Was she playing a different game all along?

Tags: Wendy Davis , Texas , Greg Abbott

NRSC to Democrats: Just Try to Defend Picking Klain for Ebola Czar!



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The Tuesday Morning Jolt features my last update from Oregon, a surprise about who’s paying the minimum wage in Kentucky, and then this news from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, seen here first:

NRSC to Senate Democrats: Just Try to Defend Picking Klain for Ebola Czar!

This morning the National Republican Senatorial Committee is hitting this year’s crop of vulnerable Democrat incumbents for meekly acquiescing to President Obama’s naming Ron Klain — as Andy McCarthy summarizes, a “sharp-elbowed Democratic political operative with no medical expertise” — as the “Ebola czar.”

Here’s the Mark Begich version:

Unfortunately, Mark Begich (D-AK) not only refuses to hold the Obama Administration accountable for the slow response to Ebola entering our borders, but it appears that he has taken his marching orders from the White House on a serious matter of public health. Instead, Begich’s Washington allies have resorted to spreading false and debunked claims, blaming others for the Administration’s failures. President Obama’s choice of Ron Klain as Ebola Czar is indefensible, yet Mark Begich once again refuses to hold the White House accountable.

“It is absurd that President Obama believes that a partisan lobbyist with zero medical experience should lead the national response to the Ebola epidemic, but Mark Begich is nowhere to be found,” said NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen. “Mark Begich apparently believes that a partisan Washington lobbyist like Ron Klain is an appropriate choice for this position, which speaks to his lack of judgment and his refusal to stand up to President Obama’s poor decisions — even on matters of public health and safety.”

Will this make a big difference in the coming midterm elections? If nothing else, we may get some amusing moments of watching these Democratic senators trying to explain why Ron Klain is such a terrific guy for this job.

We know Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas greets questions about Ebola with a lengthy “uhhhhhhhhh,” and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado is having a tough enough time with any questions as is these days.

Tags: Ebola , NRSC

Michelle Obama, Proud to Support What’s-His-Name



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Iowa’s Republican party welcomes Michelle Obama back to Iowa. The last time she was there, she spent a lot of time encouraging voters to support “Bruce Bailey” for Senate — a less than ideal endorsement for candidate Bruce Braley.

“It’s not often that we agree with Michelle Obama, but per her advice everyone should visit votebrucebailey.com,” said Republican Party of Iowa spokesman Jahan Wilcox. “Votebrucebailey.com is the perfect site to learn about the congressman’s support for Obamacare, cap-and-trade, and the rest of his job-killing policies that are hurting Iowans.”

Should have moved quicker on that URL, Congressman!

Tags: Michelle Obama , Bruce Braley

After Wheelchair Ad, Wendy Davis Polls at 32 Percent



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Wendy Davis, defending her infamous “wheelchair” ad, a week ago:

The important thing about this ad is that voters now see Greg Abbott for who he is and of course in an election that’s entirely the point.

She was right! A new poll out this morning:

As early voters head to the polls for a landmark election in Texas, a new survey conducted for KHOU-TV and Houston Public Media shows Republican Greg Abbott with a commanding lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for governor.

Abbott’s supported by 47 percent of likely voters surveyed for the poll, compared to Davis’ 32 percent. Another 15 percent were undecided.

The 32 percent in that poll is tied for her lowest total in a poll in 2014. Good work, ma’am.

Tags: Greg Abbott , Wendy Davis , Texas

Maybe All Those Obama Supporters Left the Iron On



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Says it all, doesn’t it?

This is Maryland. Maryland. Obama won this state 62 percent to 36 percent. And even here, the magic is gone; the report says the crowd started leaving while he was still speaking.

Think about it — these are people who drove out to attend the event who chose to leave early.

Tags: Barack Obama , Maryland

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?



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From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:

How Do You Turn a Blue State Like Oregon Purple?

If you want to talk about an overlooked all-time woulda-coulda-shoulda race that haunts the Republicans, let’s take a look at Oregon’s gubernatorial election in 2010.

The Democratic nominee was former governor John Kitzhaber, making a comeback bid after serving as in the office from 1995 to 2003. During those terms he fought with a Republican-held state legislature and famously declared, six days before the end of his second term, that the state was “ungovernable.”

The Republican nominee was former NBA star Chris Dudley, who spent a good portion of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers. He founded a charity, had charisma, and seemed like about as a good a candidate as Oregon Republicans had any right to expect.

The good news is Dudley won 694,287 votes, more than 100,000 votes than the last Republican gubernatorial candidate. That got him . . . 47.7 percent to Kitzhaber’s 49.2 percent — the closest any Republican had come in the last seven gubernatorial elections.

But there are no silver medals for coming in second in a governor’s race. Dudley moved to San Diego. In his third term, Kitzhaber went on to set up the abominably wasteful Cover Oregon system, which paid $305 million to Oracle for a web site that didn’t work.

Cover Oregon is, arguably, the single most expensive and most embarrassing failure of any state in recent memory. As HBO’s John Oliver mocked, “That has got to be a bitter pill to swallow for the people of Oregon — or it would be, if they could get the pill, which they can’t, because their [stinky] web site is broken.” In midsummer, a poll of the state found 20 percent thought Kitzhaber deserved “all” of the blame for Cover Oregon, 19 percent said “most,” and 37 percent said “some.”

But not a single big-name Oregon Democrat dared challenge Kitzhaber this year. Okay, correction — a guy with a big name, “Ifeanyichukwu Diru” challenged him, but he had no experience and almost no money. Even then, he won 9 percent against Kitzhaber in the primary.

This year, aiming to derail Kitzhaber’s ambitions for a fourth term — Republicans are running a candidate with no glamorous NBA career, 65-year-old state representative Dennis Richardson — a veteran and successful lawyer.

One poll had Richardson within 7 percentage points, but another one shows him trailing mightily — 50 percent for Kitzhaber, just 29 percent for Richardson. Note this depressing statistic:

The poll found that voters in general aren’t paying much attention to this election.

66 percent of respondents couldn’t name the Republican candidate for Governor, Dennis Richardson. And 59 percent couldn’t name the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Monica Wehby.

Governor John Kitzhaber did a little better; 62 percent could name him as the Democratic candidate for governor, but 38 percent couldn’t. Senator Merkley was recognized by 46 percent as his party’s candidate.

As I mentioned Friday, this is an example of “Set It and Forget It Leftism.” Dear Oregonians, I get it. Your state is gorgeous. If I had one of the world’s biggest bookstores, huge farmers’ markets, endless chefs experimenting with all kinds of local produce and seafood, an exploding menagerie of breweries, wineries, distilleries, and seemingly limitless mountains and rivers to explore, I might not be that interested in politics, either. But come on. Check in every once in a while.

The last time a Republican won a statewide race in Oregon was 2002 — Senator Gordon Smith. It is a depressing possibility that the GOP either cannot win, or faces enormous obstacles to win in the higher-turnout circumstances that occur when a state allows citizens to vote by mail. Oregon went to a complete vote-by-mail system in 1998, after growing use throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

 

A ballot box in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Square.

Like most other states, Oregon consists of heavily Democratic cities and heavily Republican rural areas. Check out how the Kitzhaber-Dudley vote split by county:

 

The northwestern corner is Astoria, the three blue ones in a line are Portland, its suburbs, and Hood River; along the coast is Lincoln County, which has Newport; and Lane County, which includes Eugene and Springfield. The little wedge sticking down from the north is Hood River County, which is not heavily populated and not quite heavily Democratic; in 2010, Kitzhaber won, 4,778 to 3,414. Once you drive out of Portland, on U.S. Route 30, it takes you up into the mountains overlooking the Columbia River, and RICHARDSON FOR GOVERNOR signs aren’t hard to find on the front lawns along the road. Signs for Kitzhaber are rare.

There are 3.8 million people in Oregon; 2.3 million live in the Portland metro area. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to win Oregon if you’re going to get blown out in Multnomah County, which includes Portland. In 2010, Kitzhaber won 198,157 votes here to Dudley’s 76,915 — 70 percent to 27 percent — rolling up a 121,242 vote margin. Kitzhaber’s final statewide margin of victory was 22,238.

Back in September, Richardson got a bit of help in advertising downtown:

The eye-catching, building-sized campaign ads have popped up across the Portland over the past few weeks.

They’re black and white and get right to the point — at least for those in the know:

“The bridge?
The website?
Rudy Crew?
The Elliott?
Bhutan
4 more years???”

The minimalistic message cost $200,000 and was a gift to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Dennis Richardson from Seneca Sustainable Energy, one of the companies owned by the Eugene-based timber family led by Aaron Jones. His three daughters, co-owners of Seneca, recently contributed a combined $100,000 to Richardson’s campaign against Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber.

That ad referred to a quintet of scandals and missteps by Kitzhaber. A new sign is more direct:

That sign is posted at the extremely busy intersection of Burnside and 4th Avenue, right around the corner from the wildly overhyped and overrated Voodoo Doughnut, perhaps the Mecca of Portland hipsters. Will it do any good? Or will enough progressive-minded Portland residents simply feel sufficiently unenthusiastic about Kitzhaber to not vote for him this year?

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Chris Dudley , Dennis Richardson

Blue Oregon . . . Strongly Opposed to Driver’s Permits for Illegal Immigrants



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Something to keep in mind for future immigration debates: Oregon — deep-blue, heavily Democratic, crunchy, progressive, let-me-pour-you-another-organic-quinoa-microbrew Oregon — appears set to decisively reject a proposal to provide driver’s permits to individuals who cannot prove legal residence in the state.

The driver cards would be issued by the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division. As with a driver’s license, the recipient would have to pass the state’s written driver knowledge test and behind-the-wheel driver test, provide proof of residence in Oregon for more than one year, proof of identity and date of birth.
Unlike a license, the recipient would not have to prove legal U.S. residency.

The pro-measure Yes on Oregon Safe Roads political action committee has raised about $421,000, a relatively small amount for a statewide campaign. Meanwhile, the main opposition group has raised just over $37,000.

Despite the lop-sided fundraising, recent polling suggests the ballot measure will lose, heavily. Sixty percent of likely voters polled by Oregon Public Broadcasting earlier this month said they firmly or tentatively opposed a driver card. Only 31 percent firmly or tentatively supported the measure, OPB said. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.

It appears a wide swath of the population does not like the idea of giving driver’s licenses to people in the country illegally. Even if someone doesn’t necessarily approve of mass deportation, they may be wary — or downright staunchly opposed to the idea of changing existing laws to make life easier for illegal immigrants.

You may recall that journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is not in the U.S. legally, recieved his first driver’s license in Oregon, applying there because the requirements for proof of residency were least strict in that state at the time. The state changed its laws in 2008.

Tags: Oregon , Illegal Immigration , Driver's Licenses

A Partisan Staffer With No Medical Background Is the New ‘Ebola Czar’



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Meet the Obama administration’s new “Ebola czar”:

A former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to then-Vice President Al Gore, Klain is currently President of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore’s effort during the 2000 Florida recount.

The man has no medical background. His Twitter feed suggests that his preeminent skill is rooting for Democrats.

ARE YOU NOT REASSURED, AMERICA?

Tags: Ron Klain , Ebola

Oregon and Our Future of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Leftism



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Oregon: Our Progressive Future of Corrupt Government and Oblivious Voters

Greetings from Portland, Oregon — the state with the most egregiously failing Obamacare exchange in the country, now set to reelect the governor whose administration oversaw that disaster and wasted all that money.

Okay, the CBS News/New York Times poll, conducted from September 20 to October 1, has Governor John Kitzhaber only up by 7 points against Republican Dennis Richardson. So it’s not a rout, and it’s not a slam-dunk. But Kitzhaber’s heavily favored.

Richardson is now focusing heavily on the scandals surrounding Oregon’s “First Lady”, the governor’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.

The Oregon Republican Party filed a state ethics complaint on Wednesday naming Gov. John Kitzhaber, his fiancée Cylvia Hayes and his political consultant Patricia McCaig.

It’s the second complaint filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission this week naming Kitzhaber and Hayes.

The governor made his own request on Monday, asking the commission for advice on whether the first lady is considered a “public official” and subject to state ethics laws. He also asked for guidance on whether Hayes’ private consulting work conflicted with her role as the first lady and self-described advisor to the governor.

In addition, Hayes admitted in recent days that she married an immigrant as part of a visa-fraud scheme in 1997 and had a role in an illegal marijuana-growing operation around that same time.

Richardson probably has to try to make the most of the stories surrounding Hayes, as it’s undoubtedly the biggest news to come out of the Oregon governor’s mansion in years. But the more salacious aspects probably generate some sympathy for Governor Kitzhaber; his fiancée hid a criminal past from him.

But it seems like relatively small potatoes compared to a state-exchange site that never worked properly, never enrolled a single citizen online (everything had to be done with pen and paper), and cost, oh, $305 million.

And the bad news for Oregon’s attempt at health insurance just keeps piling up.

A Klamath Falls woman who applied for health coverage through Cover Oregon says the insurance exchange mailed her the personal information of other applicants.

Ann Migliaccio told The Associated Press that she received documents last week containing the names and birth dates of two applicants from Hillsboro. She says the documents did not include Social Security numbers.

This is the 18th low-level security breach in the past six months, Cover Oregon officials said. They say the information inadvertently shared in these breaches included addresses, names, dates of birth and internal Cover Oregon IDs, but no Social Security numbers.

And piling up:

More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe money at tax time because of errors in tax credits issued by the health exchange.

The figure is updated from an estimate of about 800 people that exchange officials shared with the Legislature last month, only to realize they’d got it wrong.

A more recent internal staff estimate released under Oregon Public Records Law found errors in 12,772 policies, or 38 percent of those who received tax credits.

Portland intrigues me. If you are one of those despairing conservatives who think that the United States of America is caught in an inescapable whirlpool of progressive-driven decline, our future is probably going to look something like Portland.

And at first glance — or at least a visit — the progressive utopia of Portland has its upsides. The ludicrously restrictive zoning laws kept farmland close to the city, so there’s always plenty of locally grown food, produce, and so on for the run-amok foodie culture. There’s plenty of green space and parks. (Our old friend Mark Hemingway wrote one of the definitive takedowns of modern Portland.)

But the upshot of Oregon’s failed insurance exchange, and the seeming lack of any lasting public outrage, is the confirmation that a key element of modern progressivism is never, ever, ever getting upset about government spending if it’s done with the right intentions.

What’s revealing is how “progressive” does not necessarily mean “follows politics or news coverage of government at any level.” There’s a lot of “set it and forget it” Leftism going around. Because you would figure that any self-designated True Believer in the Power of Government to Improve People’s Lives would be breathing fire over something like this. Because all Cover Oregon’s debacle did was make a lot of money for Oracle, and whoever got the contract for those silly singing television commercials. Think about it — big, incompetent government, paying a fortune to a big, incompetent or insufficiently-competent corporate contractor, and most of the lefties in Oregon yawn or just shake their head in mild disapproval.

The formula here — a governing class, cozy with certain big, corporate contractors, coupled with a tuned-out electorate that reflexively elects and reelects the proper names from the progressive class — turns representative government into a giant con. The funny thing is that the stereotypical leftist from, say, the 1960s was extremely suspicious of the government, but that suspicion focused upon the military, the “military-industrial complex”, the intelligence agencies, the police . . . the spiritual and ideological children of those 1960s liberals walk around with enormous faith that the government knows what it is doing and it can be trusted with ever-more amounts of tax money.

Isn’t there any suspicion left over for state health and human services and insurance administrators? Any anger to spare for governors remaining oblivious at best to serious problems within their administration?

Some of these folks can summon skepticism about childhood vaccines, but not the Obamacare insurance mandate.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson , Obamacare

Ed Gillespie Will Run Plenty of Ads in the Next Two and a Half Weeks



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We’re at the time of year where every little decision is interpreted as a significant indicator of what will happen on Election Night. But Politico should have known better than to run a story with the screaming headline, GILLESPIE OFF THE AIR THIS WEEK, only to note . . . 

Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie has gone dark on Virginia television, three sources tracking the airwaves told POLITICO. An adviser to his campaign says they plan to go back up on Saturday.

Eric Wilson of the Gillespie campaign stated, “Since we went up on TV, we always switch off TV for a day or two between rotating new messages in.” You can argue whether that’s wise or not, but it’s not exactly unheard of — and how likely is it that the deciding factor in this race will be whether Gillespie is running ads on a Thursday night and a Friday night in mid-October? Tomorrow night the hipsters are out, and the families are at high-school football games.

And Gillespie’s campaign manager Tweets:

For a long stretch, Ed Gillespie trailed by a lot (20 points or so) and this race wasn’t competitive. Now the Republican is down only about 10 points, and now we learn Warner may have offered a job to a lawmaker’s child in an effort to influence a state legislator:

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said Monday that while he “brainstormed” with a son of former state senator Phillip P. Puckett about “possibilities that his sister might want to pursue,” he did not and would not offer a job to the daughter of a state lawmaker. 

As the Post reported Friday, Puckett’s son told federal investigators that Warner discussed the possibility of several jobs, including a federal judgeship, for Martha Puckett Ketron in an effort to dissuade her father from quitting the evenly divided state Senate.

Those allegations don’t mesh well with his “I’m a good guy who puts Virginia first” messaging. Also remember that Republicans can overperform their final polls here — last year, Ken Cuccinelli finished five percentage points ahead of his final RCP average.

Ed Gillespie is still an underdog, but this is a race to keep an eye on in the final weeks.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

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