In a district where 74 percent of voters told pollsters that they believe the country’s on the wrong track, voters wanted no more of the status quo. By an 8-point margin, the voters who turned out in the special Congressional election in Queens and Brooklyn opted for Republican newcomer Bob Turner over Democratic Party Assemblyman David Weprin.
Turner was quick to declare himself a harbinger of things to come. “I am telling you. I am the messenger. Heed us,” he declared in a victory speech early Wednesday morning. “This message will resound for a full year. It will resound into 2012.”
Special elections in Nevada and New York, but voters can only vote early in one of them. What The Godfather might teach us about redistricting. And Paypal campaign donations come under fire in a local Massachusetts race.
Two special elections for Congressional seats scheduled for today could end in losses for Democrats. In New York City, Rep. Anthony Weiner's old seat is up for grabs. Republican Bob Turner, a 70 year old businessman without any government experience, is facing off against State Assemblyman David Weprin. If Turner is elected, he will be the first Republican to represent this part of Queens in the House since 1920. Acorss the country in Nevada, Republican Mark Amodei is comfortable leading Democrat Kate Marshall in the Second Congressional District.
Independent groups and campaigns aren't supposed to coordinate, but Obama fundraisers cheer on president at campaign headquarters, then are invited to SuperPAC fundraiser that immediately followed. Redistricting is fraying nerves of anxious lawmakers in Washington, causing some intraparty friction. In Wisconsin, a state agency memo is fueling the argument that a new voter ID law is designed to suppress turnout.
South Carolina is one of five states that passed new photo ID requirements for voting since the start of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (Governors vetoed similar bills in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Minnesota.). Advocates for the bill in South Carolina, including Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, say the law is to protect the integrity of state elections. Critics, however, say that there has not been a single documented case of voter impersonation at the polls, the kind of fraud photo identification requirements will address.
Now, the Obama administration's Justice Department has weighed in, questioning whether the new law creates undue burdens minority voters. That sets up a legal confrontation about voting access and states rights that will unfold in the shadow of the 2012 presidential campaign, and directly impact who can cast a vote in South Carolina's decisive early primary elections.
Ahead of the 2012 presidential election, a fight is brewing on voter identification laws. At stake is the question of whether the problem is serious enough to threaten the results of the elections. South Carolina took an extra step to combat voter fraud in May, when Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law which requires voters to show government-issued photo identification. Supporters of the move say that this will curb the potential for voter impersonation. But critics say that this would disenfranchise the thousands of registered South Carolinian voters who do not have a driver’s license or other photo identification, and that voter fraud is not a major problem. Six other states have now adopted similar measures.
Anna Sale, political reporter for It's A Free Country, talks about the response to President Obama's job speech last night and what it will mean for the 2012 elections, and WNYC business and economics editor Charlie Herman discusses the economics of the proposal and how the business world might respond.
Audio recordings of Chris Christie's keynote at a private Koch Brothers fundraising session is causing political troubles for him back home, Wisconsin continues to wade through recall questions, and in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Virginia and Maryland keep partisan powerbases intact as they redraw Congressional districts. All this and more in our daily look at the details that can change everything.
The public will know more about how unions, corporations, and other groups spend money independently to influence elections in New York City. The Campaign Finance Board voted out proposed rules today to implement disclosure for the first time of independent expenditures, a requirement approved by voters last November.
Latino voting rights groups and Congressional reps worried about losing their seats have sued Gov. Rick Perry and the state of Texas, challenging new district maps drawn up by the legislature. GOP contenders are coming to California to debate, and raise wads of cash, and NYC is trying to regulate 'independent spending.' All this and more in our daily look at the details that can change everything.
Political Junkie Calendar: Wednesday with GOP contenders, Thursday with Obama, Tuesday with Starbucks CEO?: The centrist political group No Labels has joined forces with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who's trying to organize corporate executives to withhold campaign contributions "until Washington reaches a fair, bipartisan deal on our country's long-term economic future." This call to join a conference call was helped by full-page ads in the The New York Times on Sunday and in USA Today on Tuesday. This pitch for bipartisanship, of course, will be followed by Republicans and Democrats making their own pitches. Given all the confusion last week, I'll make those details super-clear. The latest GOP debate at the Reagan library on Wednesday at 8pm and televised on NBC. Obama's jobs speech to Congress on Thursday starts at 7pm and will be over by the NFL season kickoff, the White House promises. (No Labels)
The 2012 campaign is well under way, and while most politicians in Washington haven't decided which candidate to support, some have joined droves of state legislators, entertainers and activists in endorsing a candidate.
Wisconsin Recalls 'the Most Negative Ever': It was clear the Wisconsin recall elections were a politically nasty affair, but now there are numbers to back it up. "Out of an estimated $12 million in campaign ads in these four markets, roughly 95% was spent on negative ads, 5% on positive ads," writes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert, citing a study by an ad-tracking firm. The findings prompted the paper to call for the state Supreme Court to uphold a rule requiring the groups funding all those ads to disclose where they're money is coming from. "If negative campaigning is the rule of the campaign trail, don't the citizens of the state have a right to know who is shoveling all that horse patooie? Of course they do," the paper editorialized. Oral arguments in that case are scheduled for next week. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Obama Campaign Joins Effort Against Ohio Election Changes: Obama's campaign staff is bolstering a petition effort in Ohio to block enforcement of a law that shortens Ohio's early voting period, moves Ohio's primary up from May to March, and eliminates "the so-called "golden week" during which people could register to vote and cast ballots on the same day," reports and moved next year's presidential primary to May from March," reports Ohio political reporter Marc Kovac. Republicans backed the bill and Governor John Kasich signed it, arguing that it was needed to make rules more uniform across counties.
Banks Abandon Obama: America’s six largest banks have dramatically changed allegiances since the 2008 presidential money race, and GOP candidate Mitt Romney is reaping the spoils. Recent campaign finance reports “offer a vivid illustration of how the president's first 30 months in office have fractured what was once a warm relationship with the largest American banks,” reports American Banker, a daily financial industry newspaper. "You could sum it all up in a hyphenated word: Dodd-Frank," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato tells the paper.
Through the 2012 election cycle, It’s A Free Country will keep a focus on the mechanics of elections, from voting rules, political party rules to redistricting to, of course, the money that fuels campaigns.
As part of that, we'll be keeping a regular eye on top-line news, undercovered stories, and opinion on our changing political process in a weekly roundup. As with most things around here, we welcome tips, thoughts, and fierce debate about whether any or all of this is good for our democracy.
Hurricane Irene pounded North Carolina early Saturday morning and continued north wrecking havoc all the way up to New England, where floods are reportedly occurring in Vermont. Tomorrow, as residents of cities along the eastern coast of the U.S. attempt clean up Irene's wreckage, the southern U.S. will be reminded of their own recent natural disasters: it's the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to Katrina, and American outrage over certain politicians' reactions to the storm and its aftermath, the northeast's politicians learned to take every precaution necessary as they deal with Irene.
As Hurricane Irene stormed up through the East Coast, it interrupted political debates about Libya and the 2012 election and focused attention on the most basic services of government: public safety and public infrastructure. That cuts right at the heart of the debate about the proper role and scope of government that has raged in Washington since the 2010 midterms.
But Hurricane Irene is fundamentally about local politics, because as FEMA director Craig Fugate pointed out, the hurricane did not leave a single “place of damage that tells everybody the story about what's happened." Instead, the weekend ended with multiple storylines ranging from devastation to inconveniences to relief. So as Irene's winds weakened up the coast, so did her ability to shape the national debate about the role of government one way or the other.
Here, a look at the political winners and losers in Irene's wake.
Remember “Heckuva job, Brownie?”
A botched response to a devastating storm can catapult a anonymous midlevel Washington administrator to household name status. And despite a series of crippling storms during his tenure — including the tornado in Joplin, the Midwest’s massive flooding, and 65 major disaster declarations in all this year — Craig Fugate has avoided getting much attention since he was confirmed as FEMA administrator in May 2009. For example, his Wikipedia entry as of Friday afternoon was just three sentences long.