Tag Archives: midterm election

Do elections have consquences? Yep, they sure do!

You’ve heard it said that “elections have consequences.”

Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States demonstrates it; he has appointed two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, swinging the court balance to the right. Yes, the 2016 election has consequences.

So does the 2018 midterm congressional election. We saw the consequence of that election today. Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm election.

And today, the Democrats convened a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and received the testimony of Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who then proceeded to tell the world that the president might have broken the law. How? By writing a reimbursement check for what might have constituted an illegal campaign expenditure relating to the payment to an adult film actress who allegedly had a fling with the future president.

We would have heard none of this today had Republicans maintained control of the House in the midterm election. They didn’t. The Democrats took control. They have the chairman’s gavels now.

Let there be no doubt that elections have consequences.

At times those consequences can be profound. I believe we witnessed one of those profound events today.

Once solidly GOP county portends a sea change?

This is a map of a southern California county that President Reagan once said was the place where “good Republicans go to die.”

The image on the left shows the county with all but one congressional district represented by Republicans; the image on the right shows the county after the 2018 midterm election. It’s all blue. Every single CD in Orange County now is represented by Democrats.

Is this a bellwether of what is happening to the national political landscape? I am not smart enough to answer that one directly. Although I would venture to suggest that President Reagan, wherever he is, would be mighty displeased at how this map demonstrates the chameleon-like nature of a once-faithful Republican stronghold.

I strongly doubt the Democrats who seized control of Orange County, Calif., are of the pinko/socialist variety of, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young woman elected to represent a New York City district in the next Congress.

Still, the new congressmen and women coming from Orange County are going to align with the party that opposes Donald John Trump’s agenda — whatever it entails. You see, I have difficulty wrapping my arms around the president’s agenda, because it changes daily, if not hourly. Which is what happens when a party is led by a man without a semblance of a political philosophy or moral grounding. But … that’s another story for another day.

Pundits nationally are wondering if Orange County portends a sea change for the 2020 election cycle, the campaign for which began the moment the results came in on the 2018 midterm election.

The U.S. House has flipped from GOP to Democratic control. As more races are settled in districts around the country, the Democratic grip on the House keeps tightening just a little more. The U.S. Senate is nominally more Republican than before the election; Democrats, though, made a fight of it in places where they weren’t supposed to do well … such as in Texas!

I believe the map shown on this blog post just might signal a result that illustrates a rejection of Donald Trump’s leadership, no matter what the president might say to the contrary.

That, I also believe, is a good thing.

Ga. governor candidate ends bid, but doesn’t ‘concede’

Stacey Abrams’s decision to end her bid to become Georgia’s next governor concluded with one of the more, um, interesting non-concession speeches in modern political history.

The Democratic candidate said this week she is ending her campaign to defeat Republican Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, but that she will continue to fight his election in the courts.

I have to agree with the defeated candidate. She deserves the right to have he court system determine whether there was sufficient voter suppression hanky-panky to affect the outcome of the bitterly fought campaign for Georgia governor.

Kemp had served as Georgia’s secretary of state until he resigned the office after the midterm election. I found the timing of his resignation to be, shall we say, a bit dubious.

There were questions raised about the manner in which Kemp managed the voter registration process leading up to the election, such as his decision to essentially disqualify thousands of voters, most of whom happened to be African-American — the same ethnicity as his Democratic opponent, Abrams.

Kemp, quite naturally, denied any wrongdoing, saying he was following the law.

However, the idea that the secretary of state who administers a state election system running for governor of that state does raise conflict of interest questions.

So, Abrams is done running for governor this time around. I suspect we might see her again in the future, given that she lost this race by the narrowest of margins. Her hope was that the final ballots being counted would bring Kemp’s total to below the 50-percent plus one vote margin needed for outright victory, forcing a runoff election between them.

It wasn’t to be.

So now she is seeking legal recourse, which is her right.

Let’s allow the court system to decide this matter once and for all.

 

Good riddance, straight-ticket voting

My hatred of straight-ticket voting has been chronicled numerous times on this blog and even during the time I worked for a living.

It is one of the curses that have infected Texas government. It’ll be gone before the 2020 presidential election, thanks to a repeal enacted by the Texas Legislature.

According to the Texas Tribune, the demise of straight-ticket voting didn’t happen soon enough to save the careers of dedicated public servants.

The Tribune singled out what happened to Harris County Judge Ed Emmitt, whose leadership helped Harris County recover from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Emmitt, a moderate Republican, drew bipartisan praise for his post-Harvey work. He lost re-election this past week, though, to a political novice, 27-year-old Democratic challenger Lina Hidalgo, who the Tribune reports had never attended a Commissioners Court meeting before defeating the incumbent judge.

She benefited from straight-ticket voting, along with other Democrats appearing on down-ballot races in the midterm election.

This is precisely why I detest the practice of allowing voters to punch the straight-party slot on the ballot. Too many politicians who should be elected or re-elected are bounced out simply because of party loyalty.

The major beneficiary of this travesty in Texas in recent years have been GOP politicians, with worthy Democrats falling victim to voters’ polling place laziness.

That’s going to change in 2020. The demise of straight-ticket voting at the very least will force voters to look at each race on the ballot and make their choices individually. My hope, but not necessarily my expectation, would be that voters would consider their choice before making it.

Most states disallow straight-ticket voting. Texas, therefore, is joining a long list of states that have thought better about allowing voters to go just with the party without considering the merits of an individual candidate — whose performance or philosophy might not adhere strictly to a political party’s platform.

The end of straight-ticket voting, in my view, is a win for the cause of good government.

Finally!

POTUS undermines, denigrates our electoral system

They’re still counting ballots in Florida, where election controversy seems endemic in a system that needs fixing.

But sitting on the sidelines is a guy named Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, who is heckling state and local officials, accusing Democrats of trying to “steal” an election, suggesting widespread “fraud” where none exists and in general exacerbating an already-tense and contentious election.

Trump is doing a supreme disservice to the cause of free and fair elections, which are a hallmark of the nation he was elected to lead.

How about comparing this president’s conduct with another president who, as he was preparing to leave office, stood by silently while officials in the same state of Florida grappled with another — even more significant — electoral controversy.

Vice President Al Gore wanted to succeed President Clinton in 2000. He and Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush fought hammer-and-tong for the presidency. It came down to Florida. The race was razor thin. Whoever won the state’s electoral votes would be elected president.

They launched a recount. Bush’s margin of victory narrowed to 537 votes out of more than 5 million ballots cast. Then the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. It ordered the count stopped. Bush won the state’s electoral votes. He took the oath of office in January 2001.

President Clinton stayed quiet through it all. When he was asked about the controversy, the president said he preferred not to get involved. The U.S. Constitution did its job without presidential hectoring, haranguing and harassment.

Yep, there’s a lesson to be learned about a previous president’s conduct during a seriously contentious time. The lesson will be lost on Donald John Trump.

Sad.

How do you ‘unify’ a nation while going to war with political foes?

Donald Trump’s stated pledge to seek “peace and harmony” has run straight into a virtual declaration of war.

The president is blathering out of both sides of his loud mouth. Imagine that … if you can.

The day after the midterm election, Trump held a combative press conference in which he issued a warning to House Democrats — who in January will take over control of the House — launch an investigation into Trump’s finances.

The administration, he said, would assume a “war-like posture.”

War-like posture? What’s he going to do? Mobilize the military, send our soldiers into battle … against whom? Democrats? Rogue Republicans?

Trump has said he wouldn’t cooperate with Democrats if they insist on investigating his administration regarding any of the myriad scandals, controversies and tempests that are roiling our government. Thus, he inserted the “war-like posture” assertion.

This is not how you unify the country. There will be no “peace and harmony” to be found in that context.

Donald Trump continues to exhibit a lust for combat. He looks for all the world like someone who cannot possibly accept tranquility. It might make him nervous, believing that too tranquil an environment somehow hides an unwelcome surprise.

Praise for Pelosi, then a threat

Hell, I don’t know what makes this guy tick. I offer these views only after watching him from afar.

It’s just that when he pledges a quest for “peace and harmony” and then declares his intention to assume a “war-like posture,” I am led to believe only the worst.

The man wants a fight. I fear that congressional Democrats are going to give him one.

‘Florida’ becomes new synonym for election incompetence

Move over, Texas. You — I mean “we” — are being replaced as the butt of jokes related to election incompetence and possible corruption.

There once was a time when Texas was known for dead people casting ballots in, say, tiny Duval County in the southern part of the state. It was thought that the cadaver vote vaulted Lyndon Baines Johnson into Congress.

As a transplant who moved to Texas more than three decades ago, I am not proud of the state’s former reputation as a cesspool for political corruption. In that regard, I feel sorry for the conscientious Floridians who now are living with the same level of skepticism.

Broward County, Fla., is in the news again. It isn’t good.

Trouble looms for 2020

They’re trying to determine the winner of two red-hot races in Florida: the campaign for governor and for U.S. Senate. The attention focuses on Broward County, home to around 2 million residents. Thus, they cast a lot of votes in that south Florida county.

They can’t seem to get ’em counted. There might be an automatic recount. Or maybe it’ll be a manual recount.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott holds a narrow lead over U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — at the moment! GOP U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is barely ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Scott and DeSantis have (more or less) declared victory. Nelson and Gillum aren’t conceding. They’re waiting … and waiting … and waiting for all the ballots to be counted.

Of course, this is far from the first time Florida has been at the epicenter of questionable electoral issues. You remember the 2000 presidential election, yes? It came down to an aborted recount of the contest between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Albert Gore Jr. The winner would rake in the state’s Electoral College votes and win the presidency. The U.S. Supreme Court ended up ordering the vote count stopped and when it did, Gov. Bush had 537 more votes — out of more than 5.8 million ballots cast — than Vice President Gore. The court ruling came on a 5-4 vote; the five GOP appointed justices voted to stop the count, with the four Democratic appointed justices dissenting.

Well, the rest — as they say — is history.

This resident of Texas is glad to have my state kicked off the (alleged) voter fraud pedestal.

As a patriotic American, though, I do hope that our fellow Americans in Florida can cure what ails that state’s electoral process. Our political process needs to be free of this kind of turmoil.

I just pray the Russians aren’t involved.

Turnout spikes dramatically; democracy wins!

The official totals have yet to be tabulated, but the turnout in this week’s midterm election suggests that democracy has emerged as the big winner.

I won’t discuss the Democrats’ net gain to grab control of the U.S. House of Representatives, or the Republicans’ maintaining their control of the U.S. Senate, or the results of the various governors’ races around the country.

More than 100 million Americans cast ballots for all 435 House races and for one-third of the 100-member Senate. The number is increasing as ballots continue to be counted in places like Arizona, Florida and Georgia.

This is a good deal, man! It’s so good that my faith in our representative democratic form of government is being restored a little at a time.

Texas, where I live, long has been considered an abysmal example of voter apathy. Our turnouts for presidential and off-year elections generally has been among the worst in the nation. This year we had more than 8 million votes cast for races up and down the political food chain. The number of ballots counted for the midterm rivaled the number cast in the 2016 presidential election.

I long have argued that our system of government works better when more of us — not fewer of us — get involved. The most basic, the simplest form of political involvement starts at the polling place.

Arguably the height of political frustration occurs when we let our neighbors make critical decisions for us. Our neighbors might agree with us, or they might disagree with us. That’s a gamble I am unwilling to take.

I am glad to presume that in this election cycle, more Americans have reached the same conclusion, that they aren’t willing to leave these decisions to someone else.

Texas Democrats find the spring in their step

The just-concluded 2018 midterm election has produced a fascinating result in Texas.

The long-downtrodden Texas Democratic Party has rediscovered its mojo. Its members have a renewed spring in their step. They fell short in their goal of electing one of their own to a statewide office, but the fellow at the top of the ballot — Beto O’Rourke — came within 3 percentage points of defeating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

That’s not supposed to happen in blood-red Texas, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office since 1994; the last Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate was Lloyd Bentsen, in 1988.

Now comes word out of Austin that the selection of the next Texas speaker of the House of Representatives will involve more Democratic votes among the 150 legislators.

Democrats carved into the GOP legislative majority. They’ll fill 67 seats in the 2019 Legislature; Republicans will occupy 83 of them.

That means Democrats will get to speak with a louder voice in determining who takes the gavel from Joe Straus, who didn’t seek re-election this year.

Democrats to join speaker fight

A Republican is a shoo-in to become the next speaker. That’s a given. My favorite for the speakership is my good friend Four Price, the Amarillo Republican who, in my view, would do a smashing job as the Man of the House. He is an ally of Speaker Straus, for whom I have high regard, given his torpedoing of the Bathroom Bill in 2017.

However, it’s good to see a semblance of two-party rule returning somewhat to the Texas House. The GOP remains the pre-eminent political party in a state that once was dominated by Democrats.

As for O’Rourke, I’m quite sure that Democratic Party loyalists and activists are getting way ahead of themselves by suggesting Beto should consider running for president in 2020. A better option might be to challenge John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate two years from now.

However, O’Rourke’s legacy for the state well might be that his presence on the ballot and his near-victory over the Cruz Missile has energized a political party that’s been in a hang-dog mood for as long as anyone can remember.

Beto loses, but in a way he wins

I cannot recall a time — before now — when a candidate has lost a campaign for public office and then is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in just two years.

Beto O’Rourke came within 3 percentage points of defeating Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas. O’Rourke is a Democrat; Cruz is the Republican incumbent senator.

That’s a big deal worth mentioning, given that Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to any statewide office since 1994. The last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race was the late Lloyd Bentsen, who was re-elected to the Senate in 1988 while he was losing his race to become vice president on a national ticket headed by Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

O’Rourke gave Cruz all he could handle. He gathered more than 4 million votes out of 8.2 million ballots cast. O’Rourke ran as a progressive Democrat. He didn’t tack to the middle. He carried his progressive message to every one of Texas’s 254 counties. He told the folks in the Texas Panhandle the same thing he was telling them in Dallas County, Travis County or Harris County.

O’Rourke led a Democratic Party slate of candidates and perhaps helped down-ballot candidates make their races more competitive. Mike Collier lost the lieutenant governor’s race by about 4 percent; Justin Nelson came up short in the race for attorney general by the same margin. Virtually all the Democrats on the statewide ballot were competitive in their races against Republicans; the exception was Lupe Valdez, who got hammered by Gov. Greg Abbott.

So, what does the future hold for Beto O’Rourke? Hmm. Let’s see. Oh, John Cornyn’s seat is up in 2020. Might there be another Beto candidacy for the Senate in the offing? He isn’t being cast aside as a has-been, having lost his bid to defeat Sen. Cruz.

Indeed, he is continuing to be hailed in many corners in Texas and around the nation as a potential political superstar.

And to think that Beto is basking in this standing as a losing candidate. Go … figure.