Tag Archives: Democratic primary

Welcome back, Beto!

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but Beto O’Rourke is making himself quite at home in what might be considered “enemy territory.”

O’Rourke is the Democratic member of Congress who wants to succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at the end of next year.

He keeps coming back to the Texas Panhandle. He’ll be here Tuesday, conducting a town hall meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Austin Middle School in Amarillo.

What’s the deal? O’Rourke represents an El Paso district in Congress. He’s got a Democratic Party primary yet to win. He has returned back home to Texas during the August recess to resume his full-time campaign for the Senate seat occupied by Cruz.

O’Rourke has developed quite a fan following among local Democrats — yes, there are actually living, breathing Democrats in the Panhandle. They can’t get enough of this young man.

I’m curious about a couple of things regarding Rep. O’Rourke.

First, how much time is he going to spend mining a limited number of Democratic primary votes when there exist so many more in larger urban regions in, say, Dallas and Tarrant counties, in Bexar County, in Travis County, Harris County and, oh yes, El Paso County? Hey, it’s a big state and he’s got to get from place to place in a big hurry.

Second, if the young congressman gets nominated by Democrats next spring, will he come back to the Panhandle when the general election campaign kicks into high gear?

You and I know the rule of thumb regarding partisan Texas politics: Democrats generally have given up on the Panhandle, while Republicans take this region for granted. Just as national politicians campaigning for president focus on “battleground states” and ignore the trusty Red and Blue states, the same can be said for the intrastate campaign in Texas.

Do candidates for statewide office spend as much time in regions where the outcome is preordained? If I would run a Texas-wide campaign, I would focus my attention on those “swing regions” and seek to gin up turnout among my own partisans, be they Democrats in Austin and the Hill Country or Republicans in Amarillo and throughout West Texas.

I hope I’m wrong about Beto O’Rourke. Just maybe the young man will possess the energy and pizzazz to spend more general-election time far from his base of support.

You know, too, that I am no fan of the Cruz Missile.

Enough said.

As Dandy Don would say: Turn out the lights, Bernie

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont,, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The late Don Meredith had a couple of careers.

The first one was as a football player; he was a pretty good quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

The second one was as a football announcer, where he became the folksy voice of “Monday Night Football.” Dandy Don — the pride of Mount Vernon, Texas — was fond of telling audiences during a blowout contest that it was time to “turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

So it is, apparently, with the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The party’s over, Bern.


Sanders got thumped Tuesday in the New York Democratic presidential primary by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She took a giant step toward securing enough pledged and super delegates to become her party’s next presidential nominee.

Sanders and his team vow to fight on.

The question, though, is this: to what end?

The Democratic campaign has gotten testy in recent weeks. Clinton and Sanders have exchanged angry accusations. Sanders’ exit from the contest might not be graceful.

Then again, perhaps he could stay the course if only to keep Clinton sharp as she hones her strategy for the upcoming fall campaign against whoever the Republican Party nominates to run against her.

After the thrashing he took from Clinton, though, Sen. Sanders must be realizing his path to the nomination now has more obstacles than he can possibly remove in time for the convention.

It’s lights out, Bernie.


Bernie turns mean against Hillary


What in the world has gotten into U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders?

The kind old gentleman has turned into a grouchy curmudgeon as he seeks to forestall Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Sanders lit into Clinton at a Brooklyn, N.Y., rally over the weekend, firing up an already-raucous crowd.

Isn’t this the fellow who said he was “tired of hearing about your damn e-mails” during an earlier Democratic debate with Clinton? Isn’t this the man who pledged to keep his campaign positive?

It ain’t happening these days, I’ll tell you.

He’s teeing off on Clinton’s acceptance of big money from “corporate special interests” which, he says, have corrupted the electoral system. He’s questioning her “judgment” in voting to approve funds for the Iraq War. He’s labeling her a tool of the super PACs that have lined up behind her candidacy.


I’m sure it gives Sanders a rush to hear all the cheering, whoopin’ and hollerin’ from the crowds that come to hear his message.

It also seems to smack a bit of desperation from someone who needs to win Tuesday’s New York primary if he is going to remain a serious challenger to the Clinton juggernaut.

If he doesn’t win the primary, they might start blinking the “last call” lights on Sanders’ campaign.

I’ll say this about Sanders: He’s managed to dictate the terms of the Democratic primary debate. To that end, he’s scored a sufficient victory already.

This extreme negativity, though, is unbecoming from someone who once sought to stay on the high road.


Game changer in Wisconsin?

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt,  and his wave Jane acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 2, 2016.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Bernie Sanders has scored the victory he was expected to get in Wisconsin.

Does that change the Democratic Party presidential primary game? Not just yet. The U.S. senator from Vermont has another big test ahead of him: New York. More on that in a bit.

The game now does appear to have changed in the other primary, the Republican one, where U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz drubbed Donald J. Trump in the GOP primary.

Cruz has cruised — pun intended — to a 20-point-plus victory in Wisconsin.

This sets up a longer-range battle as the GOP field slogs its way to the national convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Trump’s insults, his inattention to detail, his innuendo and his inability to articulate a detailed policy platform on any issue under the sun finally — finally! — seems to have caught up with him.

Is the Texan, Cruz, any better? To my way of thinking, well, no. He’s not.

There well might be a situation setting up whereby Trump arrives in Cleveland a good bit short of the delegates he’ll need to win the nomination on the first ballot. After that? All bets are off. Let the chaos reign!

As for Sanders’ victory in Wisconsin, he’s now heading into the belly of the beast. New York ain’t Wisconsin.

My concern about Sanders is that he is singing a one-note aria. Income inequality? The shrinking middle-class? Big banks? Wall Street hedge fund manager? What in the heck does Sanders intend to do about any of it?

The more I think about it, Sanders is sounding almost as demagogic on his pet issues as Trump is sounding on his.

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton the perfect candidate? Far from it. She’s flawed, too. But she’s been pounded and pilloried by her enemies for more than two decades. She’s still standing, still fighting back.

The way I see it, that speaks to this woman’s political courage.

Moreover, she did represent New York in the Senate for eight years and by all accounts — even from her Republican colleagues — became an effective senator for the Empire State.

I will await the next primary round to commence in New York. We’ll see if the game has changed for the Democrats as much as it appears to have changed for the Republicans.


Another Bush vs. Clinton? Not any longer

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts as she is introduced to speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

It seems like eons ago.

Pundits on the left and the right not so long ago were talking — some of them bemoaning — about the idea of another race involving presidential candidates named “Bush and Clinton.”

Well, as of Saturday night that dream/nightmare went out the window.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out of the Republican primary race after getting battered in South Carolina.

The “Clinton” in this scenario? Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Democratic caucus by a comfortable — if not overwhelming — margin and has returned as the prohibitive favorite for her party’s presidential nomination.

I was not one of those who dreaded another Bush-Clinton matchup. I thought then, and I still do, that Jeb Bush could have made a strong case for his own candidacy. He has executive experience and did a good job as governor of a growing state. He’s not the squishy lefty that hard-right conservatives say he is.

Donald J. Trump drew a bead on Bush early on and beat his brains in.

Then we have Hillary Clinton. I refuse to refer to her as “Hillary,” as so many others have done.

She’s got some baggage. Her own legislative and foreign policy experience will be a plus as she plows her way to the expected nomination.

Clinton has that authenticity and likability matter she’ll need to resolve.

You know what they say about any span of time being a “lifetime in politics.” It could be a day, a week, a month — perhaps even an hour, or so it seems.

A year clearly is a lifetime.

What once was seen as quite probable is now gone. Vanished. Jeb Bush could’ve been a contendah.

It didn’t happen. Now, it’s on to the next round of unpredictable finishes.


Hey, Hillary . . . it’s time for a message


Chris Hayes is a smart young analyst who works for MSNBC.

Last night he offered a most interesting assessment of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

It’s that she lacks a message.

Hayes noted that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ big win in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday came because of his clear mantra: He intends to break up the big banks and drive relentlessly for income equality.

I’m not endorsing or condemning Sanders’ overarching theme. It’s clear as a bell, however.

Hayes’ assessment of Clinton’s message? It’s that she’ll do a good job and that she’s well-prepared to be president of the United States of America.

“That’s not a message,” Hayes said.

Bingo, young man!

She now finds herself playing catch-up with Sanders, who walloped Clinton among young voters who — I should add — appeared to actually turn out Tuesday to vote for their candidates.

It wasn’t Clinton.

Should Clinton be in panic mode? I’m thinking she has time to pull it together.

South Carolina is the next stop on the presidential primary parade route. The former senator/secretary of state can harvest plenty of votes there from a huge African-American base. Here is where she needs to enlist some serious help from her husband, the 42nd and unofficial “first black president” of the United States.

Clinton can paper over all she wants about the expected outcome in New Hampshire. The truth is she got walloped.

Chris Hayes had it right. She lacks a coherent message that resonates with voters who have a serious gripe about what they perceive is wrong with the political system.

Oh, I know too that she’s got those other issues hanging over her. Those e-mails, Benghazi, a perceived lack of authenticity . . . blah, blah, blah.

This once-invincible candidate is now looking, well, a lot less formidable.

Are you standing by, Vice President Joe Biden?


Both major parties seeing huge transformation?


I spent most of my day in airports and on airplanes today, so I was a bit out of the political loop.

Until I got home.

Then I found out that Donald J. Trump won the Republican primary in New Hampshire in a yuuuuge way. I also found out that Bernie Sanders buried Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

What does it mean?

Beats the devil out of me.

I’m not going to suggest just yet that both major political parties are in the midst of a major makeover.

Sanders’ win was expected, given that he is a virtual favorite son, as he represents next-door Vermont in the U.S. Senate. Clinton admitted as much earlier this evening when she conceded the New Hampshire primary to Sanders.

On she and Sanders will march to South Carolina, where a hefty African-American voter base is expected to give Clinton a built-in advantage.

Now, what about them Republicans?

Trump won by a lot. Perhaps the bigger tempest will occur among those who finished behind Trump. John Kasich finished in second place. Now the Ohio governor becomes the latest favorite of the GOP “establishment wing” to challenge Trump. What happened to Marco Rubio? Or Ted Cruz? Or Chris Christie?

As I finish up this post, I am hearing reports on cable TV news that Christie’s bid might be over. He savaged Rubio at the latest GOP debate, which appears to have inflicted near-mortal wounds on the young senator from Florida. Christie, though, didn’t get the bounce he expected. He’s heading for New Jersey, the TV talking heads report, to consider his options.

Look, I’ve noted already that some serious balloting is yet to occur. We’ve got the Super Tuesday event in early March, which includes big, bad Texas taking part in that primary donnybrook.

Will these results determine the future of both major political parties? Perhaps.

However, so help me, this election is impossible to chart with semblance of certainty.


What if . . . Clinton loses first two contests?


All right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for a little game of “What If?”

The Iowa caucuses are coming up. They’ll be followed immediately by the New Hampshire primary.

Forget about the Republicans for a moment. Let’s ponder the Democratic contest.

What if Hillary Rodham Clinton gets thumped in Iowa? She’s leading in that state — supposedly — but the margin is diminishing. Bernie Sanders might be within the statistical margin of error.

If she loses Iowa, then what if she gets pummeled in New Hampshire? Polls in the Granite State show Sanders with a huge — and growing — lead.

OK, then comes South Carolina. What if by some chance Clinton loses there, too? Momentum has a way of dictating how these things go. The e-mail controversy is beginning to swirl once again.

Clinton once was seen as the probable next president. Now? Well, she’s less probable by a good bit than before.

Are the Democrats going to nominate a “democratic socialist” who’ll turn 75 by the time of the next inaugural? Do they really want to fritter away a chance at keeping the White House in an election when the GOP is likely to nominate either a bombastic real estate mogul/reality TV star or a junior U.S. senator from Texas who no one who works with him seems to respect, let alone like?

Oh, yes. There’s another guy. The vice president of the United States, took himself out of the running. Joe Biden said he had “run out of time,” only to declare just a few days ago that he “regrets” not running, even though he said the decision was the “right one.”

Regret making the right decision?

Hmmm. Sounds to me as though regret might override right, if the once-presumed frontrunner keeps stumbling.

This election season has been full of craziness. Who’s the say there isn’t room for a little more of it?


Should the VP run … or call it a career?


My trick knee is throbbing again.

It’s telling me that Vice President Joe Biden is going to run a third time for president of the United States. It’s also telling me he likely should forgo the 2016 and call it a career.

Truth is, I don’t have an actual trick knee. But if I did it would suggest that the vice president needs to think as deeply about this possible campaign as he has thought about any key political decision he’s ever had to make.

One analysis suggests a Biden candidacy depends on an implosion by Hillary Rodham Clinton. The e-mail controversy keeps nipping at her. Will it forestall her expected nomination? Is the vice president the person to carry a similar message — whatever it is — forward onto the campaign trail?

I happen to like and admire the vice president. I believe he and the president have formed a true friendship; I also believe President Obama’s relationship with Hillary Clinton is, well, not nearly as warm.

But warm-and-fuzzy relationships with an incumbent president aren’t enough.

Clinton is going to remain a formidable opponent for anyone — be they Democrat or Republican. As someone noted last night on MSNBC, which political demographic group does Biden take away from Clinton?

The vice president has run twice already for the White House. His 1988 campaign cratered over reports that he was lifting statements from a British pol and using them in his own stump speeches. His 2008 campaign ran into a buzzsaw operated by a young U.S. senator from Illinois, Barack H. Obama.

That ol’ trick knee is telling me he doesn’t want to lose a third time.

As much as many of us out here would like to see him run, my hunch is that the vice president is going to call it career.


And … what about Jim Webb?


I almost forgot about Jim Webb. He’s a Democrat who’s also running for president of the United States. Or at least he’s thinking about it.

A recent blog I posted noted the entry of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley into the 2016 Democratic presidential primary race. I mentioned that O’Malley joins Sen. Bernie Sanders as declared “anti-Hillary Clinton” Democrats and that former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee is likely to join the race.

I didn’t even mention Jim Webb, the former U.S. senator from Virginia.

It might be that I keep forgetting that Webb is even a Democrat. He served the Reagan administration, for crying out loud, back in the 1980s.

Webb, though, has a nice following of supporters around the country who admire him — as I do — for his service in Vietnam as a Marine and his no-nonsense approach to governing.

Future blog posts will have to mention this fine man.

My bad.