An emerging trend that could mean big trouble for the GOP in 2018

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by SueEllenRules!, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. SueEllenRules!

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    Democrats In Illinois Just Unseated A Whole Bunch Of Republicans
    They're local races, but they fit with an emerging trend that could mean big trouble for the GOP in 2018.
    • WASHINGTON ― In a spate of local elections last week in Illinois, Democrats picked up seats in places they’ve never won before.
    • The city of Kankakee elected its first African-American, Democratic mayor. West Deerfield Township will be led entirely by Democrats for the first time. Elgin Township voted for “a complete changeover,” flipping to an all-Democratic board. Normal Township elected Democratic supervisors and trustees to run its board ― the first time in more than 100 years that a single Democrat has held a seat.
    • “We had a pretty good day,” said Dan Kovats, executive director of the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association. “We won in areas we normally would win, but we also won in areas Republicans never expected us to be competitive in. They were caught flat-footed.”
    • These may seem like relatively small victories ― we’re talking about municipal races in towns with tens of thousands of people ― but they fit with a broader pattern that should have Republicans on edge ahead of the 2018 elections: Progressive grassroots activism, exploding with energy since President Donald Trump’s win in November, is fueling Democratic gains in GOP strongholds.
    • This week, a Democratic congressional candidate in Kansas nearly pulled off a shocking win in a heavily Republican district. In Georgia, 30-year-old Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff is outpacing his GOP rivals in a race to replace former Rep. Tom Price. The seat has long been Republican and was once held by former Speaker Newt Gingrich. These races come after a Democratic state Senate candidate in Delaware, buoyed by anti-Trump activism, annihilated her GOP challenger in an election that’s traditionally been close.
    • In the case of Illinois, a number of Democrats who just won got a boost from a program launched by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) called Build The Bench. It’s an all-day boot camp that offers nuts-and-bolts details for running a successful campaign. Bustos came up with the idea last year when she noticed a dearth of new Democratic candidates for Congress, and decided the best way to help build up her party’s ranks was at the local level.
    • She’s held two boot camps in her district so far ― The Huffington Post attended one of them in March ― and she’s already seeing tremendous payoff. Twelve Build The Bench alumni ran for local seats in this election cycle, and eight of them won. A ninth alum, Rita Ali, is currently down by one votein her race for Peoria City Council.
    • “I am incredibly proud that the majority of our graduates who were on the ballot in April municipal elections won their races,” said Bustos. “If we want to be successful in the heartland, we need to connect Democratic candidates for office at all levels with the best practices, skills and expertise needed to run winning campaigns.”
    • Chemberly Cummings and Arlene Hosea are among the Build The Bench alumni who recently won races. They both made history by becoming the first black members of Normal Town Council and Normal Township Trustee, respectively. That is no small feat in a predominately white, Republican region of the state.
    • “There’s this concept in Bloomington-Normal that everybody is conservative,” said Cummings, a 34-year-old State Farm employee. “But we are a group of people who are actually concerned about the issues in our community. I also think ... when you have the representative of a party who is negative, I think you’ll start to see some things change. Nobody wants to be associated with something negative. They want to be associated with the positive.”
    • Hosea, a 57-year-old former Illinois State University employee, came out of retirement to run for her seat. She hadn’t planned on going into politics, but was deeply affected by Trump’s divisive tone all last year.
    • “I am a descendent of slavery,” she said. “I saw and heard on the campaign trail so much awful rhetoric. My mom is still alive, she’s 90, and she faced racism through all of her childhood. I thought, ‘Arlene, you have to do more. You have to be the change that you want to see.’”
    • As someone born and raised in the area, Hosea said she takes pride in being able to give back to her town’s next generation. She got choked up thinking about how far she and her family have come, recalling how her mom lived through Jim Crow in the South and once watched the Ku Klux Klan drag her uncle out of the house and “almost beat him to death” in front of her when she was a child.
    • “Even if it’s just my seat at the table, they get to see me at that table. I have a voice,” Hosea said, her voice cracking. “In this community, no one has done it. So, it’s time.”
    • Of course, not everyone can win their first campaign. Jodie Slothower, a Build The Bench attendee who HuffPost met in March, lost her race for Normal Township clerk. She is disappointed, of course, but she’s already onto her next project: fueling the progressive momentum to oust more Republicans, like Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill.). She started a grassroots mobilization group in November, Voices of Reason, and it’s up to 2,000 members.
    • “We have events planned all the way through August,” Slothower said. “We’re going to keep up the pressure on the congressman. We’re figuring out how to take what we’ve learned here and bring it to other communities. We have a lot of work to do.”
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  2. BD Calhoun

    BD Calhoun Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    The Kansas Democrat who nearly pulled off the impossible has some advice for his party
    James Thompson says Democrats can’t ignore red states.

    James Thompson may not be heading to Congress, but not everyone is calling his loss in Kansas’ special congressional election a defeat.

    On Tuesday, Republican Ron Estes beat Thompson in the solidly Republican district by a margin of roughly five points. Just a few months ago, President Trump carried the district with a wide margin of 27 points.

    The Democratic Party never expected to win the seat. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) didn’t conduct polling or invest money in the race until the final days, when Republicans appeared to be worried and made a last minute push. In recent days, the GOP spent close to $100,000 on ads and dispatched party leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to campaign and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to raise money for Estes.

    Speaking to ThinkProgress Wednesday morning, Thompson said that he is disappointed, but proud of his campaign. And while he was unable to swing the district to Democrats, he said a win was not impossible and that the party should not ignore red states.

    We saw last night with Ron Estes’ relatively small margin of victory that President Trump is already hurting Republicans trying to win congressional elections. Did you expect such a small margin? What do you think it means for Republicans running in other upcoming elections?

    I think ultraconservative Republicans anywhere in the United States need to be scared right now because we have shown that a motivated base and a well-run campaign can win. We did not lose to Estes so much as we lost to a president, a vice president, a speaker of the house, and multiple senators coming in and helping out. So in 2018 when there’s 435 races going on, he’s not going to be able to do that for everybody. I think that those congressmen and senators need to be looking at their positions on things, because there’s going to be backlash and there’s going to be people who lose their seats in 2018 as a result of it.

    How much do you think Trump’s incredibly high disapproval ratings played into this race? When you spoke to Kansas voters, did they talk about their dissatisfaction with the president?

    Here in Wichita, it played much greater. Getting out into more rural areas where people are more conservative, it played less. A lot of people here are still wanting to give President Trump a chance. There are a lot of people who are nervous. This was partially a referendum on him but mostly a referendum on [Gov. Sam] Brownback (R).

    Brownback was, until recently, the least popular governor in the country. Were voters more vocal about their dissatisfaction for him?

    Oh yes, very much so. Most of the state despises Sam Brownback for his failure to expand Medicaid, his refusal to reform the tax code, the education system that’s consistently held to be underfunded by our state supreme court, his attempt to grab power from our supreme court and to stack it himself. There’s a multitude of reasons. The economy here has gone in the tank under his watch and his failed policies.

    What about some of Trump’s signature policies, like his promises to repeal Obamacare and build a border wall? How did those play out among voters in the district? Did they hurt Estes?

    A lot of people here want good health care and affordable health care, so [Trump’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act] definitely did not help him.

    The selection of Betsy DeVos actually was a huge thing here. There was a ten to one split against her and people told both our senators, ‘do not put that woman in as Secretary of Education, do not confirm her,’ and they did not listen. Education is very important here because of what we have going on at the state level. We’re constantly seeing cuts to education and a struggle to properly fund it, and when you’ve got somebody that’s being appointed Secretary of Education that wants to go to a voucher system that will destroy public education, there’s a lot of pushback.

    Do you think it ultimately helped or hurt you that Trump made a push this week to elect Estes?

    I think in the end, it was his desperation coming out to win that seat. It drove Republicans out to the polls. Between the president, vice president, and speaker doing things and the national Republican Party coming in and running these negative campaign ads that were blatantly false and attacked me on abortion, saying I support sex-selection abortion and late-term abortion and all of these things that I’ve never said, that riled up a lot of [anti-abortion] activists here and they were able to pull out a victory.

    Estes himself couldn’t defeat me. It took literally the president, vice president, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), and the national party to come in.

    You’re a civil rights lawyer. Did the Trump administration’s disdain for civil rights come up during your campaign?

    There was a lot of support for having a civil rights attorney go up there to help stand up when unconstitutional things are done. The [Muslim ban] came up quite a bit, and people wanted to have a civil rights lawyer who could stand up to those types of things.

    People are now turning their attention to Georgia’s sixth district, which will hold a special election for Tom Price’s seat next week. Do you think your race is indicative of what could happen there?

    I do. I think [Democrat Jon] Ossoff will take it and rightfully so. We need to be out fighting every single race. With Ossoff coming up, we need to be focused on that. We need to be focused on Montana [Editor’s Note: Montana will hold a special election for Ryan Zinke’s seat in May].

    Whether it’s likely we win or unlikely we win, we need to be fighting each and every race. As I’ve shown here, just because something is designated safe [by Republicans] doesn’t mean it is. DCCC should be doing polls in every single race on a semi-regular basis to make sure that if they see chances like we had, they can react to it. That’s what the Republicans did and that’s why they were able to come in and save the race for Estes. The Republicans have shown that they give full effort in every race and that’s what DCCC needs to be doing as well.

    Are you disappointed that DCCC didn’t make more of an investment in your race?

    It’s impossible to say at this point whether or not it would have helped. It would have been nice to have seen more involvement and seen them reacting as quickly as the Republicans did. I just don’t want them to write off red states just because they looked at some poll from last year’s race where somebody won by 30 points. They need to be looking at the candidates and they need to be looking at the issues.

    Do you expect that more congressional races will be referendums on Trump’s presidency?

    I definitely think that they’re turning that way. Every race is going to be a combination of local and national issues and I think on the national stage, these races are going to be indicative. I think we sent a clear message yesterday that no race is safe.

    What’s next for you?

    It looks like we’re going to be running [for the same seat in] 2018 again, so we’re looking at all of the numbers today and we’re going to see where we’re at. We’ll make a formal filing once we make that final decision.

    Everybody’s got to remember, we did all of this in 60 days. Having 18 months to do it, I think that we’ll flip the seat.

    Source: https://thinkprogress.org/thompson-kansas-election-b57a97493db6
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
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  3. BD Calhoun

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  4. SueEllenRules!

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    Republicans: Montana special election 'closer than it should be'
    It's the latest example of a tight race in a traditional GOP stronghold.
    • GREAT FALLS, Mont. — Republican Greg Gianforte’s closing motivational speech to voters ahead of Thursday’s special House election in Montana is the same thing GOP strategists are whispering in private: “This race is closer than it should be.”
    • It’s a recurring nightmare of a pattern for Republicans around the country, as traditional GOP strongholds prove more difficult and expensive for the party to hold than it ever anticipated when President Donald Trump plucked House members like Ryan Zinke, the former Montana Republican now running the Interior Department, for his Cabinet. Gianforte is still favored to keep the seat red, but a state Trump carried by 20 percentage points last year became a battleground in the past few months.
    • Democrat Rob Quist, a folk singer and first-time candidate, has raised more than $6 million for his campaign, including $1 million in the past week alone as energized Democratic donors pour online cash into political causes this year. Quist hopes that enthusiasm also contributes to an outsize turnout — as it did in special elections in Kansas and Georgia earlier this year — for the oddly scheduled Thursday election, happening just before a holiday weekend.
    • "I remember talking to people when it first started who said this was a slam dunk, Gianforte’s it. And it’s not there anymore,” said Jim Larson, the Montana Democratic Party chairman. “It is a lot closer than people ever thought it would be.”
    • Gianforte, a technology executive, has led consistently in polls for the special election, but Quist has narrowed that lead to single digits in recent weeks, according to private surveys. “Gianforte has an edge, but it’s not going to be a slam dunk,” said one national GOP strategist.
    • Republicans have called on Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. to calm their nerves about turnout and prevent Democrats from having the only energized voting bloc in the special election. Both have rallied voters with Gianforte, and Pence recorded a get-out-the-vote robocall. Gianforte, who said little about Donald Trump when Gianforte ran for governor and lost in 2016, has cast himself as a willing and eager partner of the president this time around.
    • On Tuesday, surrounded by Trump stickers — and some Trump hat-wearing supporters — Gianforte said he was eager "to work with Donald Trump to drain the swamp and make America great again," invoking two of the president's campaign slogans. Pence's robocall may give another boost to Republican turnout efforts.
    • But the environment has changed since Trump’s presidential win last fall. One senior Republican strategist warned that, based on the party’s performance in special elections so far, if Republicans “cannot come up with better candidates and better campaigns, this cycle is going to be even worse than anybody ever thought it could be.”
    • “The fact that we're talking about Montana — a super red seat — is amazing,” said John Lapp, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2006 cycle. “It's also amazing how much money Republicans have to pour into these seats to defend them. It's still a steep climb in Montana, but we know that the reaction there means that there's a tremendous amount of Democratic energy across the country, a tremendous amount of fundraising that will then feed into races that are much fairer fights."
    • Democrats hope the passage of House Republicans’ health care bill just three weeks before the election will put the wind at Quist’s back. It has been the subject of Quist’s closing TV ads, and he has called the plan “devastating” to Montana.
    • GOP outside groups have ensured that Republicans have a spending advantage, though, airing more than $7 million worth of TV ads, versus about $3 million from Democrats. House Majority PAC, Democrats’ main House outside group, on Tuesday added a last-minute $125,000 TV ad buy to the race, on top of $25,000 announced last week.
    • But those ads may have reached a point of diminishing returns in a state that prefers retail politics, said Matt Rosendale, the Republican state auditor.
    • "The airwaves are saturated, and when people see political commercials come on, they completely block it out. I think there’s a lot of money wasted on it," Rosendale said. "It’s a necessity in Montana to meet people. You have to be able to go out and meet with them, look them in the eye and answer difficult questions face-to-face."
    • Operatives in both parties privately grumble about the quality of their candidates, with each arguing their paths to victory might be clearer with a standard-bearer carrying a little less baggage.
    • Republicans acknowledge that Gianforte has flaws Democrats exploited mercilessly in last year’s gubernatorial race, likely cementing negative feelings about him from some voters. Gianforte is dogged by reports that he sued Montana to block access to a stream in front of his ranch, kicking up a public lands dispute that hits home with Montana voters and has “probably followed him into this House race,” said Jeff Essman, the state’s GOP party chairman.
    • Democrats, too, acknowledge that Quist isn’t without his problems. Republican TV ads repeatedly attack Quist’s various personal financial problems, including "a defaulted loan, tax liens, collections, foreclosure notices.” Republican groups dug into Quist’s medical records and questioned his musical performance at a nudist colony.
    • "I haven’t seen this kind of opposition research on both sides on a House race in a long time,” said one Democratic strategist who’s worked in the state. “This is what you get when candidates are chosen in a nominating process and there's no vetting. Some people would say Quist is authentic, an outsider, a la Donald Trump, but Quist has a problematic record because he hasn’t spent his career in politics being careful."
    • Quist called in his own big-name reinforcements to activate the Democratic base and cater to the populist streak in the state, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders headlined a handful of rallies alongside Quist last weekend.
    • It’s a gamble, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said, that could alienate some in the state, where Trump remains popular.
    • "Rob Quist is too liberal for Montana — he is very liberal. Democrats who have won statewide in Montana tend to be moderate, and Quist is no moderate,” said Daines, who campaigned alongside Gianforte in the final stretch of the race. “Who did he parade across Montana this weekend? Bernie Sanders.”
    Republicans: Montana special election 'closer than it should be' - POLITICO
    https://apple.news/AHfd_7C1kSRC62Y1C-0VL0g
     

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