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Tags: Tea Party

Bennie Thompson Explains How Thad Cochran Can Reward Black Voters



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Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) needs to reward the black voters who crossed party lines to support him in his runoff against tea party challenger Chris McDaniel by backing some concrete policy initiatives, according the the state’s only member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“We have historically black colleges in our state who do the best job they can trying to educate our citizens,” Representative Bennie G. Thompson told National Review Online during a Wednesday interview at the Capitol. ”I’d like to see efforts that they receive full funding. I’d like to see the health care of our citizens improved; our children die too young. I’d like to see an increased effort to make sure that the minority unemployment rate inn our state is reduced. So, there are a lot of opportunities for us to start with.”

Thompson said that it wasn’t difficult for Cochran to rally black voters against McDaniel. “I don’t know anybody black who likes the Tea Party. So, if a tea-party person is running against another Republican and you ask a black person, they’re going to support the regular Republican,” he said. “Their platform is counter to a lot of the beliefs of many African Americans. We think there is a place in government to make the lives of its citizens better; that there is a place in government to make sure that education, health care, and other things are available to all citizens. So, that’s a reasonable expectation of government. But this ‘limited government’ and other things that you hear from a lot of tea-party candidates does not resonate well with the black community.”

Tags: Thad Cochran , Chris McDaniel , Tea Party

Pelosi: ‘They Need a New Technology System at the IRS’



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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) regards the loss of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails only demonstrates that the agency needs to upgrade its technology, rather than a cause to suspect a cover-up related to the targeting of Tea Party groups.

“What it convinces me [of] is that they need a new technology system at the IRS,” Pelosi told reporters. “They need to upgrade their technology, get it right, so that there’s no suspicion about what agenda anyone may have on that.”

The IRS says that two years’ of Lerner’s emails were lost due to a hard drive crash. “Who could possibly believe that they have lost two critical years worth of emails for the central figure in this investigation?” House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) countered during his press briefing.

“If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said in response. ”Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.”

An IRS official told National Review Online’s Eliana Johnson that two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails have been lost and can’t be retrieved because a hard drive crashed. “You’re not supposed to keep them around,” the source told Eliana when explaining why the damaged hard drive would be destroyed. “You destroy the data.”

Tags: IRS , Tea Party

Local Tea Party Activists Helped Topple Eric Cantor



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Tea Party activists helped Dave Brat defeat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), but they aren’t getting much credit because national groups didn’t spend money in support of their candidate.

“The fact that Brat took off without the help of those organizations now makes it harder for them to claim his victory as their own,” the Washington Post’s Matea Gold suggested, referring to national Tea Party organizations such as the Madison Project and FreedomWorks. Gold may be correct as far as the national groups go, but the local Tea Party groups have opposed Cantor for years, and backed Brat from the beginning.

“Brat represents a serious challenge to House Majority Leader Cantor, who has helped sink Congress to a mere 6 percent approval rating. Already, some are framing this campaign as a ‘true conservative’ taking on the ‘Establishment GOP,’” Lawrence Nordvig wrote at the Richmond Tea Party website when Brat announced his candidacy. “Richmond Tea Party does not officially endorse candidates, but we feel this is an historic opportunity to take part in the launch of what promises to be a ‘watershed’ moment in national politics!”

The Henrico County Tea Party website features a string of posts touting Brat against the “weasel” Cantor, culminating in a May 29 item dubbing Brat’s race (original emphasis) “probably one of the most important ones in VA history!

The Richmond Tea Party has been agitating against Cantor since at least 2012.  ”We can do better….and we need to DEMAND better,” an Oct. 2, 2012 blog post (original emphasis) says in reference to Cantor. (FreedomWorks would probably point out that the author of the post based his critique on their scorecard, which rated Cantor a 73). In September of 2013, the group scheduled a “Cantor Encounter” street demonstration outside his office.

Two months ago, the Richmond group invited Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian, an NRO contributor, to talk about immigration. They also shared their views with Krikorian. “[S]ome people, including Mr. Cantor are sitting up there, [and] it’s more important for their reelection and they’re serving the Republican Party and the Chamber of Commerce than it is [to serve] the people in the district,” one man off-camera said. “We elected him to serve us.” 

The Bull Elephant reported on Cantor’s appearance at the 7th District Republican Party Convention in May. “Eric Cantor and Dave Brat speaking,” Steve Albertson wrote. “Cantor getting booed, criticizing how it’s easy to throw stones from ivory towers…he’s really, really hitting back at Brat. I’ve never seen Cantor this forceful. Angry even.”

When Linwood Cobb, “one of Eric Cantor’s top lieutenants in his home district,” lost a bid to remain district party chairman to Tea Party challenger Fred Gruber, Albertson blamed Cantor. “A friend remarked to me after Cobb’s defeat that what made this possible was the unique vitality of various Tea Party groups within the 7th District. I responded, “Do you think that’s a coincidence?” In fact, it is not, but is instead a direct consequence of the way Rep. Cantor and his supporters have consistently circled the wagons around the Congressman to ensure as much control of the local politics surrounding him as possible,” Albertson suggested. “Where in other districts, like the 1st District where I live, Tea Party and libertarian newcomers have been welcomed into the GOP tent, in the 7th they have consistently been made to feel unwelcome inside the GOP.”

The Richmond Tea Party, for its part, hailed Gruber’s victory. “You’ve proved that hard work and dedication CAN win the day,” one activist wrote when the results came in. “Does this portend of weakness in Eric Cantor’s bid to retain his 7th district seat in the House? We’ll see in about a month.”

Tags: Eric Cantor , Tea Party , Dave Brat

The Sun Is Out, and So Is Eric Cantor



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Even by Virginia standards, this May and June have been particularly glorious, and to top it off, Eric Cantor lost! He’s classy enough to have announced he won’t try to run a write-in campaign in response, and however regrettable his becoming the scapegoat for a broader pattern might be, I am incredibly grateful for this unexpected blessing. My peaceful easy feeling today is based on the assumption that Jonah Goldberg is probably right that, at long last, amnesty-grounded comprehensive-immigration reform is finally dead. 

Today a very sensible moderate yet conservative-leaning Facebook friend of mine today was worrying about the influence of the Tea Party and their bad “crusading” approach to politics, prodded, I’m suspecting, by some standard media story on the subject in the wake of Cantor’s loss. 

My response was basically as follows:

It’s an odd day to be voicing this sentiment, since IMO, the defeat of Eric Cantor by voters who, whether organized by tea-party groups or not were in broad sympathy with them, likely kills a Republican buy-in to amnesty-grounded immigration reform. That was a major albatross around the party’s neck, and if it really is killed by this, GOP prospects in 2014 and 2016 go up substantially. Don’t buy MSM auto-pilot “analysis” about tea-party “extremism” hurting the GOP.

As to your broader points, against the Tea Party and despairing of the possibility of “deliberation” occurring in our politics anymore, National Affairs will be publishing an essay of mine this summer (“The Five Conceptions of American Liberty,” which I outlined here) that will recommend a conservatism less tied to a dogmatic and economistic conception of liberty, and which shows how Americans can deliberate about their more fundamental disagreements about politics. There is hope for deliberation about first principles, as my essay can show you; and hope for such about specific policy issues, as the work of Joseph Bessette can show you. Just remember, in a family fight, which is what we’ve been having, it can be the case one side is more at fault. Unless and until a critical mass of Democrat activists and leaders become more demanding of fair play and of genuine respect for the other side, a la William Galston, the basic polarization will continue and will be necessary. 

I’m sharing all this not simply as an act of self-promotion, but to explain why moderates-in-spirit, such as myself, might welcome Cantor’s loss.

Now as to immigration, I’m willing to debate particular policy points about reform packages, and whether a partial amnesty, enacted well after a pattern of interior and border enforcement of the freakin’ law has been demonstrated, should be part of such a package. I’m willing to debate where guys like Cantor and Ryan actually stand in that debate, so long as it’s admitted that complex policy wonkery, especially when combined with secret negotiations with today’s Dems, lends itself to the breeding of mistrust in the conservative base. Acknowledging that as a general fact, even if it may be a non-decisive one for many issues, is crucial for those of us friendly to the larger project of reform-conservatism to recognize. But what is not debatable is that this immigration-reform threat that moderate Republicans, particularly of the donor class and through the machinations of the D.C. Republican establishment, would stealthily come to a compromise with the Dems, has deeply and repeatedly demoralized the conservative base. It has been the key fact used by those who want to establish a narrative of rampant RINO-ism that excuses their abstaining from voting, or voting libertarian.  So, a sober nod of respect towards Eric Cantor, best wishes and prayers for the victor Dave Brat, and despite Rush Limbaugh’s worries to the contrary, a rousing chorus of Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead! to celebrate amnesty’s passing.

Tags: Eric Cantor , Dave Brat , Immigration , Tea Party

It’s the Morning After. Firing Squad, Assume Circular Formation!



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Woke up this morning with a headache and a blue moon in my eyes. From the Morning Jolt:

Ken Cuccinelli, Finishing Better Than Anyone Expected . . . for Whatever That’s Worth.

Boy, it’s too bad elections don’t have point spreads, huh?

Late last night, Kristina Ribali of FreedomWorks asked, “Cuccinelli did better than Romney, right?”

It depends upon your measuring stick. Cuccinelli finished closer than Romney, but won a smaller share of the vote. Obama won, 51.1 percent to 47.28 percent. At this hour, McAuliffe won, 48 percent to 45.5 percent.

At some point, accounting for all the variables gets maddening. Cuccinelli was drastically outspent . . . but he had a worse opponent. It’s an off-year election, with lower turnout that traditionally is an advantage for Republicans . . . but he had to run away from the incumbent because of Governor Bob McDonnell’s gift scandal.

Then again, maybe he shouldn’t have, judging from CNN’s exit poll: “Virginia voters actually approve of McDonnell’s job performance by 12 points (53%-41%).”

Cuccinelli indisputably was hurt by the government shutdown . . . but then he indisputably was helped by running against Obamacare in the closing days.

As Tuesday night wore on, the Republican firing squad assumed its traditional circular formation. Here’s a scorecard of the scapegoats:

It was the RNC’s fault! On Twitter, a lot of folks were calling for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus’s blood, noting that the RNC spent $3 million helping Cuccinelli this year after spending $9 million to help Bob McDonnell in 2009. The RNC’s had a better year than its Democratic counterpart, raising about $60.9 million this year, compared to $47 million for the DNC (and the DNC still has $17 million in unpaid debt from last year).

Here’s the short version of the RNC’s summary of what they did to help Cuccinelli:

In Virginia, the RNC has nearly 50 offices, significantly more than we had in the state during the 2012 presidential cycle and a comparable number of staff…

In Virginia, we already have gathered more than twice the amount of voter data.

We have also served as a resource to the campaigns up and down the ballot. For example, we have conducted both mainstream and ethnic media training efforts with Cuccinelli, Obenshain, Dels. Rust, Comstock, and Hugo as well as Freddy Burgos, who is a challenger in the 41st District.

The RNC has a total of seven paid staffers dedicated to engaging minority communities and have attended numerous events on behalf of the Republican Party. The RNC has also done significant paid print, radio, and TV advertising in ethnic media outlets on behalf of candidates.

Was that enough?

Keep in mind, this race has looked pretty tough for Cuccinelli since at least midsummer. How much money do Republicans want the RNC throwing in to help a candidate trailing by 7 or 8 or 9 points?

I’ll tell you this: if Cuccinelli had been within two or three points consistently this fall, the RNC would have spent a heck of a lot more money than it did. The problem is that from about mid-summer until, oh, one hour after the polls closed, Ken Cuccinelli looked like a dead man walking in this race. Bad polls, quiet debate performances, brutal coverage, an inability to capitalize on tough coverage of McAuliffe’s scandals . . . 

It’s Cuccinelli’s fault! Earlier this week, I said you can’t get outspent by $15 million and win a statewide race. Apparently I should have added an asterisk and said you can keep it close. Cuccinelli got a lot of help from right-leaning groups; a fair question is whether he raised enough himself to keep himself in the ballpark with McAuliffe: the Republican Governors Association spent $8 million to help Cuccinelli. The NRA Political Victory Fund kicked in $600,000. Focus on the Family, $238,000.

As an attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli rarely ducked a fight and in fact picked fights that some Republicans might have avoided. The problem was that he didn’t want to run for reelection as that guy. Of course, Terry McAuliffe’s ad team was determined to turn Cuccinelli into a horrific funhouse mirror-version of that guy.

From Ben Domenech, a.k.a., that guy who writes that other newsletter:

Cuccinelli had the baggage of his past fights which the left used very well. This is true of Cuccinelli’s fights on marriage, abortion, climate, but particularly true of the issue of his defense of a sodomy statute on the books in Virginia. I doubt Cuccinelli ever realized how big of a liability this would be, but again, he’d have been better off defending himself vocally than shying away from it. Gay Republicans openly compared Cuccinelli to David Duke, and the indication that Cuccinelli wants to go around rounding up people for engaging in consensual sex was ubiquitous to any conversation about him on social media. Of course, in my county, there are nine convicted child abusers and sex offenders who were convicted under the statute, and I’d like to know which ones of them deserve to go off the books . . . but that defense was never offered.

It was the Libertarians’ fault! Let’s get one thing straight: A big chunk of Robert Sarvis’s voters aren’t really libertarians, or they don’t fit a definition you and I would offer for that philosophy. As Biased Girl and I have observed, some sub-segment of standard-issue liberals are self-identifying as libertarians, sort of a political hipsterism. They get to keep all of their usual liberal views on social issues, support smaller government in theory but never in practice, complain about taxes, and act like they’re so much more sophisticated than everyone else.

Jonah Goldberg’s self-proclaimed “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” friend “Bob” fits this description.

Sarvis’ voters are young – he got 15 percent of voters between 18 and 29. He took 15 percent of those who self-identified as “independents,” 8 percent of those who identified as moderate or liberal Republicans, and 4 percent of those who self-identify as liberal Democrats. Among those who said they “somewhat oppose” Obamacare, he took 17 percent; among those who said they “somewhat support” Obamacare, he took 10 percent.

One glitch in the theory from the exit polling:

Libertarian Robert Sarvis, may have made it closer for McAuliffe than it would have been otherwise. Had he not been on the ballot, a third of his voters said they’d have supported McAuliffe – slightly more than twice as many as said they’d have gone for Cuccinelli.

It’s the Tea Party’s fault! Under this narrative, Chris Christie won because he’s a moderate, Cuccinelli lost because he’s a scary Tea Partier, and New York is now run by the Sandinistas because the country is rejecting conservatism in all its forms.

There’s a molecule of truth to those arguments; perhaps more significant to Tea Partiers is the result in that special U.S. House election in Alabama:

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bradley Byrne, a staid former state senator, led Dean Young, a conservative real estate developer who likened himself to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

But then you look down ticket, and you see the candidate on the Right beating the candidate on the Left over and over again. You see it in the Virginia House of Delegates elections . . . where Republicans won 67 out of 100 seats.

You see it in Colorado’s referenda on tax hikes for education . . . 

Voters emphatically rejected a $950 million tax increase and the school funding revamp that came with it, handing Amendment 66 a resounding defeat Tuesday night.

. . . and you see it in New York outside of the city

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gave his victory speech a few minutes before 11 p.m. Tuesday night, according to the Journal News. At midnight, the incumbent had 55 percent of the vote with more than half of precincts reporting. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano also declared victory, claiming 60 percent of the vote, Newsday reported.

Astorino has been floated as a possible challenger for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and although he’ll face a significant fundraising challenge and the governor’s relatively high popularity, his win in the affluent suburb where Democrats have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage shows he has cross-party appeal.

And we’ll be playing woulda-coulda-shoulda for a few weeks. High among them: Would Cuccinelli have reversed these results with another couple of weeks of brutal coverage of Obamacare’s rollout?

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , RNC , Chris Christie , Libertarians , Tea Party

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