The conservative provocateur allegedly posed as a mustachioed “civics professor.”
James O’Keefe, the conservative provocateur, has been on the prowl in Colorado, the setting of a close Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, as well as a nip-and-tuck governor’s contest. Last week, O’Keefe and two of his collaborators tried to bait Democratic field staffers into approving voter fraud involving Colorado’s universal vote-by-mail program, according to three Democratic staffers who interacted with O’Keefe or his colleagues.
More stories from the MoJo archive on James O’Keefe:
Democratic staffers in Colorado recently came to believe they were the subject of an O’Keefe operation after campaign workers became suspicious about would-be volunteers who had asked about filling out and submitting mail-in ballots for others. Recently, the 30-year-old O’Keefe has targeted the Senate campaigns of Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by filming undercover videos of staffers or the candidate.
Last Tuesday, a man who appeared to be in his 20s showed up at a Democratic field office in Boulder wanting to volunteer to help elect Udall and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), according to a Democratic staffer who met with him and asked not to be identified. The man introduced himself as “Nick Davis,” and he said he was a University of Colorado-Boulder student and LGBT activist involved with a student group called Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis mentioned polls showing the race between Udall and Gardner was tight, and he asked the staffer if he should fill out and mail in ballots for other college students who had moved away but still received mail on campus. The Democratic staffer says he told Davis that doing this would be voter fraud and that he should not do it.
On Friday, Udall campaigned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus. After the event, a woman calling herself “Bonnie” approached a different staffer and, according to this staffer’s boss, asked whether she could fill out and submit blank ballots found in a garbage can. The staffer, according to her boss, said that she told her no.
That same day, the guy identifying himself as “Nick Davis” returned to the Democratic office in Boulder. He was accompanied by a man wearing heavy makeup and a mustache, according to the Democratic staffer who had met Davis three days earlier. Davis introduced his friend as a “civics professor” at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the faculty adviser to Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis and the professor, who said his name was “John Miller,” picked up Udall campaign literature and canvassing information.
On Monday, O’Keefe tweeted a photo of himself with a mustache and said he’d recently posed as a “45yo” for one of his “election investigations.”
Only time for 2-3 more election investigations. I went in Disguised as 45yo, this time people may lose their jobs pic.twitter.com/ihuTjpierm— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII)October 20, 2014
The repeated questions about submitting other people’s ballots led Democratic staffers to suspect they were being targeted. Later, the staffers viewed photos of O’Keefe—including one taken in Colorado showing O’Keefe sans mustache and sporting a Udall campaign sticker and a Women for Udall button—and they concluded that O’Keefe and the college professor were the same person. They also said the image O’Keefe tweeted of himself with a mustache matched the man who visited the Boulder office on Friday.
O’Keefe and two male colleagues also targeted a progressive nonprofit named New Era Colorado, according to New Era executive director Steve Fenberg. On Saturday, Fenberg says, O’Keefe and his friends contacted New Era’s Fort Collins office to set up an in-person meeting and identified themselves as activists affiliated with Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. The three men arrived carrying Udall campaign literature, Fenberg notes, but a New Era organizer met them outside the office’s front door and refused to let them enter with the Udall materials. Outside groups such as New Era cannot coordinate with political campaigns, and Fenberg says he believes O’Keefe and his collaborators “were trying to establish evidence we were working together.”James O’Keefe and one of his collaborators
When New Era’s staffers began taking pictures of O’Keefe (including the photo embedded at left), Fenberg says, O’Keefe and a colleague went to their car and returned with a large video camera and a microphone. “If you want to take photos of us, we’ll take photos of you,” O’Keefe said, according to Fenberg, and the New Era staffers closed the door while O’Keefe and his friend tried to push it open and stick their microphone inside. Fenberg says New Era filed a police report about the incident.
Rocky Mountain Vote Pride doesn’t seem to have much of a footprint. There is a website andFacebook page for the organization, both created in July, but they provide no information about who’s behind the group. Searches for Rocky Mountain Vote Pride in the University of Colorado-Boulder student newspaper, the Denver Post, and the Boulder Daily Camera turned up no results. A search of Nexis archives for the past two years yielded zero mentions.
Chris Harris, the communications director for the Udall campaign, accused O’Keefe of “using sleazy, deceptive tactics to undermine the public’s trust in democracy.”
O’Keefe is best known for his undercover videos attacking the community organizing group ACORN. Those videos, hyped by Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, led the GOP-led House of Representatives to hold more than a dozen votes to defund ACORN, and the group disbanded soon after. In 2010, the FBI arrested O’Keefe and three others for phone tampering at a New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and three years of probation and fined $1,500.
This fall, O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, launched a political offshoot with its sights set on high-profile campaigns and organizations. Project Veritas went undercover to try to get campaign staffers for Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes to contradict the candidate’s pro-coal message. In Arkansas, O’Keefe’s group secretly filmed Sen. Mark Pryor speaking to a local LGBT group in an attempt to expose him as privately supporting marriage equality, which he has publicly opposed. Project Veritas also sought to bait workers for Battleground Texas, the group formed by Obama campaign alums to register and organize Democratic voters, into taking improper actions, but a Texas special prosecutor dismissed the group’s video as “little more than a canard and political disinformation.”
Neither New Era nor the Udall campaign was aware of any other contacts by staff with O’Keefe or his colleagues, and it was not clear whether other organizations in Colorado might have been contacted. Stephen Gordon, a spokesman for Project Veritas, declined to comment. “We’re not making any comment on potential operations in Colorado at this moment,” he said. “But watch for our upcoming videos.”
Source: Andy Kroll for Mother Jones
The conventional wisdom is that so-called establishment Republican candidates by and large triumphed over Tea Party radicals this election cycle. But the truth is that those victories were the result of a party establishment that itself has moved far to the right. Even where Tea Party candidates have failed, the Tea Party movement has increasingly remade the “establishment” GOP in its own image.
It is now core doctrine in the GOP to deny the science behind climate change, endorse sweeping abortion bans and engage in anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of the John Birch Society.
As Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann put it last week, while she may be retiring from Congress, she leaves with the knowledge that “even the establishment moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging.”
Here, we look at five Republican congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled “establishment,” some “Tea Party,” but all are emblematic of the party’s strong turn to the right.
1. Joni Ernst
One Iowa conservative pundit has described state Sen. Joni Ernst, now the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, as “the choice of the Republican establishment” who has “been backed by national Republican establishment figures like Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Marco Rubio.”
But in today’s Republican Party, even an “establishment” candidate like Ernst can be just as extreme as a Tea Party insurgent.
Ernst subscribes to the radical, neo-Confederate idea that states can “nullify” federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional — and even went so far as to suggest that local law enforcement officers can arrest government officials for simply administering federal laws.
In response to a 2012 candidate survey for a group affiliated with former congressman Ron Paul, Ernst pledged to “support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare.” In a speech to a Religious Right group the next year, she criticized Congress for passing “laws that the states are considering nullifying.”
As a state senator, Ernst backed resolutions calling on Iowa to defy federal environmental regulations and gun laws. Ernst’s campaign denies that she has ever supported nullification, despite her own statements and positions in favor of the radical ideology.
Not only does Ernst think states should simply be able to void laws they don’t like, but she also wants to abolish the federal minimum wage and eliminate federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the EPA and the IRS. She also came out in favor of a plan, known as the “Fair Tax,” that would scrap the income tax and replace it with a federal sales tax of 23 percent on nearly all goods.
Her anti-government paranoia even extends to taking on a non-binding United Nations sustainable development agreement, Agenda 21, which she warned will pave the way for the UN to remove Americans from rural lands and force them into cities. She has even disagreed with the official investigations finding that Iraq did not have WMDs at the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion.
But Ernst does support government intervention when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, sponsoring the Iowa personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in all cases along with common forms of birth control. “I think the provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment,” Ernst said, but has since insisted that she thinks the amendment would be purely symbolic.
As Ernst’s candidacy shows, the line dividing “establishment Republicans” from fringe right-wing zealots has become so blurred that it has effectively vanished.
2. Thom Tillis
Like Ernst, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis is widely considered the choice of the “establishment” and “mainstream” wing of the GOP, while his extremist record shows just how far to the right even the party’s “mainstream” has moved.
In 2007, Tillis blasted government policies that “have redistributed trillions of dollars of wealth,” calling them “reparations” for slavery. The same year, he opposed a resolution apologizing for an 1898 massacre of African Americans in a North Carolina city, explaining that the amendment didn’t sufficiently honor white Republicans.
Tillis supported the repeal of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act — which allowed death-row inmates to appeal their sentences based on evidence of racial bias — and backed heavily restrictive voting laws designed to weaken the black vote. In a 2012 interview, he lamented that Democrats were gaining ground in North Carolina thanks to growing Latino and African American populations while the “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.”
Tillis has said he would support a Personhood Amendment banning abortion in all cases and prohibiting common forms of birth control, and believes that states have the right to ban contraceptives. In his role as state House speaker, Tillis led attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and to add abortion rights restrictions to a motorcycle safety bill. A Tillis-backed “targeted regulations of abortion providers” (TRAP) bill last year threatened to close all but one of the state’s 16 abortion clinics.
Following a federal court ruling striking down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, Tillis attempted to preserve the ban by teaming up with the founder of one of the country’s leading anti-gay groups. At a 2011 town hall meeting, he suggested that marriage equalitywould lead to “Big Government.” Tillis is also a climate change denialist and suggested that liberals plotted to use climate science “as a Trojan horse for their energy policy.”
Tillis wants to abolish the federal minimum wage, supported the GOP-led federal government shutdown (before reversing himself) and cut jobless benefits so severely that it made North Carolina ineligible to receive federal compensation.
While cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from education spending and blocking the expansion of Medicaid under the guise of fiscal stewardship, Tillis shepherded through a massive tax break to benefit top earners and corporations while effectively raising taxes on the lower 80 percent of taxpayers.
At an event in 2011, he suggested that the government cut public spending by finding “a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance” — specifically by setting disabled people against “these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.”
He has now pivoted his campaign to focus on addressing the menacing specter of people infected with Ebola coming to Mexico to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S.
3. Jody Hice
Jody Hice entered politics as a Religious Right activist and a conservative talk radio show host, making him part of two worlds that are at the core of the conservative movement. Now, as the frontrunner in an open Georgia House seat, currently held by outgoing far-right Rep. Paul Broun, Hice is set to bring his right-wing agenda to Congress.
Hice made his first foray into politics by trying to convince local governments to erect monuments of the Ten Commandments in public places, which were deemed unconstitutional by, in Hice’s words, “judicial terrorists .” A Christian Nationalist, Hice thinks the founding fathers would support his congressional campaign and has posted on his Facebook page numerous fake quotes from our nation’s founders about the dangers of “Big Government” and the need to mix religion and government.
Hice outlines his political beliefs and fears in his book, “It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America,” in which he claims that abortion rights make the U.S. worse than Nazi Germany; endorses the fringe “nullification” theory; argues that Islam “does not deserve First Amendment protection”; and spells out his worries about gay people trying to “sodomize” children and persecute Christians, fearing that children will be “preyed upon” by gay “recruitment” efforts until they embrace “destructive,” “militant homosexuality.”
In one episode of his radio program, Hice suggested that gay people seek therapy, lamenting that “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not.” During another radio commentary, Hice denied that legal discrimination towards gays and lesbains exists, before comparing homosexuality to incest. If anything, according to Hice, it is the Christian community that faces government discrimination as a result of a Satanic plot to “chip away” at “our Christian rights.”
When armed militia groups gathered at the Bundy ranch in Nevada to back a rancher and race-theorist who refused to pay grazing fees for using federal property, Hice praised the groups that were threatening violence against law enforcement officers. He has argued that individuals have the right to have “any, any, any, any weapon that our government and law enforcement possesses,” including “bazookas and missiles,” in order to give citizens a fighting chance in a potential war against the government.
This summer, as thousands of Central American children fleeing violence in their home countries reached the U.S., causing a humanitarian crisis, Hice suggested armed militia groups organize at the southern border.
The GOP nominee blamed mass shootings such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, Colorado, on abortion rights, the separation of church and state, and the teaching of evolution, and said that the Sandy Hook school shooting was the result of “kicking God out of the public square” with the end of school-organized prayer.
Hice also believes that we are now living in the End Times, worrying that “we have little time” left on earth and citing the appearance of blood moons as proof of imminent cataclysmic, “world-changing events.”
While Hice is worried about the destructive consequences of blood moons, he dismissed climate change as a “propaganda” tool of the “Radical Environmental Movement” to make people of believe in an “impending environmental disaster due to ‘Global Warming.’”
His theological views also make him skeptical of women running for public office, saying a woman should only do so if she remains “within the authority of her husband.”
4. Glenn Grothman
Not one to hold back, Grothman has lambasted union activists protesting a law targeting labor rights as “slobs” and proposed doing away with the weekend and paid sick leave. So fearful of “Big Government” is Grothman that he also tried to put an end to municipal water disinfection programs.
Grothman opposes abortion rights without exceptions in cases of rape, incest and a woman’s health, even working to make it a felony offense for a doctor to perform an abortion that could save a woman’s life. Grothman successfully passed laws requiring doctors to read scripts meant to discourage women from terminating their pregnancies, which he said was necessary because oftentimes “women are looking for someone to talk them out of it.” He also sponsored a 24-hour waiting period for abortions that only exempts survivors of “forcible rape” who file a police report.
The Republican lawmaker worries that “gals” are running — and ruining — America by leading a “war on men.” He has said the U.S. “is in the process of committing suicide today” as a result of single mothers collecting public benefits and pushed a bill to declare single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” calling single parenthood a “choice” and the result of a culture that “encourages a single motherhood lifestyle.”
“I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred,” he said in a 2012 interview with Alan Colmes, adding that he believes women aren’t telling the truth about having unintended pregnancies: “I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.”
In a similar vein, he defended Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to rescind a pay equity law because, according to Grothman, pay disparities are due to the fact that “money is more important for men.”
Grothman is a sponsor of the Wisconsin Personhood resolution [PDF], which would ban abortion in all cases and many forms of birth control, and his campaign has touted the support of personhood activists.
He once described Planned Parenthood as “probably the most racist organization” in the country, adding that he believes the group targets Asian Americans for abortion. In 2007, he voted against a bill that made sure hospitals provide information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors.
He opposes laws protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and once tried to strip a sex education bill of a nondiscrimination provision that he suspected was part of a plot to make kids gay. Grothman also demanded that his state refuse to follow a court order to recognize same-sex marriages, which he feared would “legitimiz[e] illegal and immoral marriages.”
Not content with just opposing gay rights in the U.S., Grothman also defended a Ugandan law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by sentences including life in prison. He even suggested that “unbelievable” American criticism of Uganda’s law would prompt God to punish the United States.
Although Grothman fears that America might incur God’s wrath for standing up to state-sanctioned violence against gays and lesbians, he is less concerned about climate change, which he says “doesn’t exist.” Grothman told one interviewer: “This environmental stuff, this is the idea that is driven by this global warming thing. Global warming is not man-made and there is barely any global warming at all, there’s been no global warming for the last twelve or thirteen years. I see a shortage of Republicans stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘look, this global warming stuff is not going on.”
5. Zach Dasher
Taking advantage of his family’s new-found reality TV fame, “Duck Dynasty” cousin Zach Dasher is running for U.S. Congress in Louisiana in an election where the top two candidates advance to a runoff vote if no candidate takes over 50 percent of the vote.
Dasher cited the success of “Duck Dynasty” as one of the reasons he entered the race: “Five years ago, I didn’t see an opportunity or window of opportunity to get into this type of venture. But here recently, obviously with the family name and being able to get my message out there, I saw an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Of his uncle Phil Robertson, who came under fire for making statements in a magazine interview defending Jim Crow and demonizing gays and lesbians, Dasher gushed: “The support of the family means a lot to me. We share a very similar background and philosophy, and our spiritual beliefs are the same as well. They’re going to be a big part of the campaign. I’m going to have Phil as my PR director, since he’s so good with the media.”
Robertson also appears in commercials promoting Dasher’s candidacy, and Dasher has said he agreed with Robertson’s remarks about the gay community. Dasher’s wife wrote in a blog post that just as people should break out of addictions to alcohol and heroin, gay people can “overcome” and “come out of” homosexuality and find “healing.”
One of Dasher’s opponents, Rep. Vince McAllister, is a freshman Republican congressman who said he would retire after he was caught on video kissing a staffer who was not his wife, then changed his mind. Dasher says he is running as an even more conservative candidate than the GOP incumbent, and has received backing from Tea Party and pro-corporate groups such as the Club for Growth and Citizens United.
“My platform begins with God. That’s really what this whole thing is about. In Washington, when we look at what’s going on, we see an erosion away from that platform,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We see the ruling classes kick God out and in His place they place themselves. That scares me because we didn’t send these folks to Washington, D.C. to determine our rights, we sent them there to defend our rights.”
Dasher fears that the federal government “believes that they’re God” and is intent on “gain[ing] control over every aspect of our lives” as part of a plan to create a “culture of dependency.” In a personal podcast, Dasher said the “swift drift away from God will usher in tyranny and death,” warning: “Tyranny will get its foothold — if it already doesn’t have it — and in the end, there will be mass carnage and mass death. It’s inevitable.”
Dasher blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on atheists, whom he also accused of “brainwashing a generation ” through rap music and ushering in “moral decay” and the erosion of liberty. He said that schools should “arm the teachers,” arguing that laws targeting gun violence actually leave people as “unarmed sitting ducks, waiting for someone to come in and shoot their schools up.” Dasher recently claimed that the Second Amendment was established to allow people to defend themselves against “a tyrannical government,” warning that government officials intend to repeal the amendment in order to eliminate all other freedoms.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
#IASen: GOPer Joni Ernst dodges question on abortion for rape victims
Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst evaded a question during a Thursday night debate on whether she supports exceptions to an absolute abortion ban in cases of rape or incest, saying she “supports life” with a possible exception being when a mother’s life is at risk.
Early in the debate, the moderators asked Ernst — who supported the personhood amendment in 2013 to change the state constitution to define life as beginning at conception, thus giving legal rights to fetuses — to answer a series of questions on her support of the amendment. But when asked for specific exceptions she would support to an abortion ban, she didn’t mention cases of rape or incest.
“I support life so, going back to perhaps the life of the mother, I think that would be important,” she said.
Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst evaded a question during a Thursday night debate on whether she supports exceptions to an absolute abortion ban in cases of rape or incest, saying she “supports life” with a possible exception being when a mother’s life is at risk.
#GASen, #AKSen, #KSSen, #LASen: 5 Scenarios That Could Push The Fight For Senate Control Into Overtime
Sen. Mary Landrieu, right, D-La., greets Senate candidate, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., before their debate in Shreveport, La., Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
1. Likely runoff in Louisiana
Bill Cassidy (R) holds a steady lead over Sen. Mary Laudrieu (D), but neither candidate is expected to cross the 50 percent threshold required by Louisiana’s “jungle primary” rules to claim victory on election night. Tea party candidate Rob Maness and two other candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot are collectively pulling 18 percent, according to the TPM PollTracker average.
If neither candidate wins an outright majority on the main ballot, a runoff election between the top two will take place on Dec. 6.
Georgia Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Michelle Nunn, right, passes Republican candidate David Perdue following a debate, Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, in Perry, Ga. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
2. Possible Georgia runoff
The rules in Georgia also require one Senate candidate to break 50 percent to win the race to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).
David Perdue (R) and Michelle Nunn (D) are in a statistical dead heat, and the presence of libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford on the main ballot — who is pulling between 3 and 4 percentage points — could force a runoff.
A potential runoff would occur on Jan. 6, three days after the new Congress is sworn in.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska speaks to reporters after a joint session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
3. Alaska’s vote count delay
The large and sparsely populated Alaska is notorious for failing to count votes in a timely manner. A close Senate election in 2008 wasn’t called for more than two weeks, and the 2010 race also took several weeks to conclude, in part due to a quirk involving Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) running as a write-in candidate.
Dan Sullivan (R) holds an edge against Sen. Mark Begich (D), but the race is close. That means the Alaska Senate contest could hang for days or weeks in the Last Frontier State.
Independent Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
4. Greg Orman’s decision
Greg Orman, the independent candidate in Kansas, is neck-and-neck with Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. He has not announced which party he’d caucus with if he wins. Many have presumed that Orman, a former Democrat himself, would caucus with Democrats.
But Orman take can his time to decide. And if Republicans end up with a 50-49 edge in the remaining races, his decision would determine whether or not the GOP can break Vice President Joe Biden’s tie-breaking vote.
President Bush, right, poses for a photo with former Vice President Al Gore and other 2007 Nobel Prize recipients, in Nov. 26, 2007. In 2000, the two faced off in the most high-profile recount in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert/FILE)
5. Potential recounts
There are hotly contested races in numerous states, each with their own set of recount laws, as tracked by the Minnesota-based Citizens For Election Integrity.
North Carolina lets a candidate for statewide office demand a recount if the difference in the election is 0.5 percent of the votes cast, or fewer than 10,000 votes — whichever is smaller.
Iowa offers options for candidates and voters to request recounts, but it is up to three-person boards in individual counties to decide whether and how votes ought to be recounted, based on factors like knowledge of error and misconduct.
Colorado lets candidates seek a recount if the difference between the apparent winner and runner-up divided by the total votes cast for the apparent winner is 0.5 percent or less. That’s an unusual way to tabulate the margin, and requires a very close election to trigger a recount.
Kentucky allows candidates to seek a recount if they received 25 percent of the votes cast for the candidate with the most votes. They must file within 10 days of a general election.
Kansas permits any candidate to file for a recount by the Monday after the election. It’s free for candidates who lose by 0.5 percent or less of the total votes cast, but those who lose by more than that are required to post a bond and pay the costs — which are refunded if the candidate is later declared the victor.
South Dakota triggers an automatic recount in the event of an absolute tie vote. Candidates may also ask for one if they lose by a margin of 2 percent or less of the overall vote cast for all candidates seeking the office.
Arkansas has a free-flowing recount law, permitting any candidate for office to ask for a recount in a precinct if he or she is “dissatisfied with the returns from any precinct.” The request has to be filed within two days of Election Day.
#LASen: Runoff likely between Landrieu (D) v. Cassidy (R), also Landrieu (D) v. Maness (R).
#GASen: Runoff appears more and more likely between Nunn (D) v. Perdue (R).
#AKSen: May not be decided until December between Begich (D) v. Sullivan (R).
#KSSen: Greg Orman (I) is favored to win, but deciding which party to caucus with is uncertain. I’d bet he’d caucus with the Democrats.
H/T: Sahil Kapur at TPM
National Review Editor Equates Akin's "Legitimate Rape" Stance With Grimes' Defense Of Secret Ballots
National Review editor Rich Lowry equated Kentucky senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes’ refusal to disclose which presidential candidate she voted for in 2012 with former Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s (MO) stunning claim that it is “really rare” for a woman to become pregnant as a result of “a legitimate rape.” Lowry suggested the two positions were politically equivalent “gaffes,” whitewashing the fact that Akin’s statement was not only absurdly disconnected from scientific reality — it also happened to reflect actual policy priorities of the Republican Party.
During an October 10 interview with the editorial board of The Louisville Courier-Journal, Grimes said she “respect[ed] the sanctity of the ballot box” when asked if she voted for President Obama in past elections. During an October 13 candidate debate, Grimes reiterated her stance on voter privacy:
GRIMES: This is a matter of principle. Our constitution grants, here in Kentucky, the constitutional right to privacy at the ballot box, for a secret ballot. You have that right, Senator McConnell has that right, every Kentuckian has that right.
GRIMES: I am not going to compromise a constitutional right provided here in Kentucky in order to curry favor on one or other side or for members of the media.
In an October 15 column published by Politico Magazine, Lowry exclaimed that “Alison Lundergan Grimes is the Todd Akin of 2014,” and argued that Grimes’ stated position defending the secret ballot was “a defining political gaffe” for this election. He likened her comments to then-Rep. Todd Akin’s infamous statements about rape and pregnancy, in which Akin stated that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare because, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Lowry argued that the two candidates represented similar levels of political ineptitude, writing that each was “telegenic, mockable and universally condemned.”
Grimes’ decision to stand on principle with regard to voter privacy has been labeled a “gaffe” by some, but, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen pointed out, it is “an issue the media has deemed extremely important, but which actually affects no one.”
By comparison, Akin’s alarming comments on rape and pregnancy were reflected to varying degrees in actual policy decisions favored by Republican elected officials and candidates. Akin would later attempt to clarify his remarks amid a “firestorm” of controversy, but maintained his opposition to legal abortion access for women — a constitutional right codified by the Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In 2012, many prominent Republican candidates and conservative media figures supported banning safe and legal abortion, making the issue a central part of campaign rhetoric.
In October 2012, Indiana Republican senate candidate Richard Mourdock voiced his opposition to abortion"even when life begins in that terrible situation of rape," stating that "it is something that God intended to happen." Around the same time, Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois supported a ban on all abortion, including cases that would threaten the life of the mother. Walsh falsley claimed that “modern technology and science” had solved the problem of potentially life-threatening pregnancies. During a 2007 Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney said “we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period.” He went on to state that it would be “terrific” if Congress passed a bill outlawing abortion, which he would be “delighted” to sign. Romney dodged abortion questions throughout his 2012 campaign, but promised to eliminate federal funding for women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood and vowed to be “a pro-life president.”
Outlawing access to abortion remains a lightning rod for conservative media, with some right-wing outlets going so far as to tie debates about legal abortion to the crimes of convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. Right-wing media figures like Karl Rove have pushed the myth that some forms of contraception are actually forms of abortion, while others such as Bill O’Reilly advanced extremist views on fetal “personhood” that would criminalize most abortions.
There is no appropriate comparison between Akin’s extreme rhetoric and false scientific claims, and Grimes’ personal defense of privacy at the ballot box.
If anything, the Todd Akin of 2014 is Joni Ernst, NOT ALG.
h/t: Craig Harrington at MMFA
I think it’s going widely overlooked that, despite all the drama in advance ofNovember 4, it’s doubtful that we’ll learn who has control of the Senate on that date: in Louisiana and Georgia, if no candidate wins 50% of the vote, as seems likely according to, among others, the TPM PollTracker averages (the app is great, by the way), there will be runoffs on December 6 andJanuary 6, respectively. This means that unless the Democrats hold 50 seats or the Republicans hold 51 without either of those two states, control of the upper chamber will depend on new, one-on-one contests that will be the focus of enormous national attention and spending.It seems to me that, by nationalizing the races, this will probably benefit the GOP, but that remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it makes it quite possible, if not likely, that we won’t know which party has come out ahead for another month, and conceivably until after the new Congress has been sworn in.All this is, of course, ignoring a scenario in which control is also thrown up in the air by the question of where any independent candidates decide to caucus, whether that’s Greg Orman in Kansas, Larry Pressler in South Dakota, if they’re elected, or Angus King, who has threatened to caucus with the Republicans if they win the majority.Outside groups are already shelling out money to prepare for the first eventuality, and I’m sure Reid and McConnell are thinking about the second as well.
h/t: Josh Marshall at TPM
Jeff Bell told the Asbury Park Press that it’s that government-dependent female demographic, not his socially conservative views on issues like abortion and access to contraception, that is weighing him down.
"I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and looked at a lot of different polls, I think it has more to do with the rise in single women," he explained. “Single mothers particularly are automatically Democratic because of the benefits. They need benefits to survive, and so that kind of weds them to the Democratic Party.”
"But single women who have never married and don’t have children are also that way," he added. "If you take married women, they aren’t that different from married men. So it’s really a problem with the decline in marriage rates. The Democrats do benefit from that."
The GOP as a whole seems to have warmed recently to the idea of courting single women, whom a Fox News panelist once tellingly dubbed "Beyonce voters" who “depend on government because they’re not depending on their husbands.” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show this week that the GOP “would be well-advised to set up a dating service and to embark on a policy of arranging dates for as many single women as possible.”
The College Republican National Committee also recently released a series of ads aimed at young women that were modeled after the TLC show “Say Yes To The Dress.” Those ads cast a number of Republican gubernatorial candidates as the “perfect” wedding dress, in contrast to their Democratic opponents, who were described as “expensive” and “outdated.”
But Bell doesn’t seem to be preoccupied about how to win over single women and mothers. The candidate told the Asbury Park Press that he’s not worried about the gender gap in the polls as long as he can maintain an edge among male voters.
"Even before the gender gap appeared, men were more willing to vote for change," Bell told the newspaper. "They’re more bomb-throwers. Women are more cautious. If you’re doing well among men, that is something that an insurgent candidate needs."
My Senate/Gubernatorial Ratings (10.08.2014)
Safe D: IL, MN, others that are currently Dem-held
Likely D: NC, NH
Lean D: CO
Tilt D: IA, KS* (Orman-I, gain)
Tossup: AK, AR, KY, LA (Runoff Likely)
Tilt R: GA (Runoff Possible)
Lean R: SD (gain)
Likely R: none
Safe R: MT (gain), VW (gain), others that are currently GOP-held
* Orman is listed as Tossup/Tilt D, due to the fact that he is the quasi-Dem in the race.
Safe D > Likely D: NH
Lean D > Likely D: NC
Likely D > Lean D: CO
Likely D > Tilt D: IA
Tilt R > Tossup: KY
Likely R > Lean R: SD
Lean R > Tilt R: GA
Safe D: HI, MN, PA (gain), RI (gain), others that are currently Dem-held
Likely D: MA
Lean D: CO, IL, ME (gain),
Tilt D: AK (gain),CT, KS (gain)
Tossup: AR, FL, MI, WI
Tilt R: NONE
Lean R: AZ, GA (Runoff Possible)
Likely R: ID, NE, OK, SC
Safe R: IA, NM, OH, others that are currently GOP-held
Tilt D > Lean D: IL
Likely D > Lean D: ME
Likely D > Safe D: MN
Lean D > Tilt D: CT
Tilt R > Tossup: AR
Tossup > Tossup/Tilt D: AK
Likely R > Lean R: GA
Likely R > Safe R: NM
Safe R > Likely R: ID, OK
As the 2014 Senate midterm elections were heating up, pundit predictions were all over the map, but on this much they agreed: Democratic seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota were sure to go to Republicans, and Kentucky and Kansas, without question, would remain with the GOP.
Headed into the homestretch now, a bizarre series of events has upended that calculation. A corruption scandal and a third party candidate in South Dakota have thrown that race wide open, while Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) finds himself badly behind an independent challenger after the Democratic nominee dropped out.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) finds himself trailing in a recent survey and Republican Georgia candidate David Perdue, the former head of Dollar General, is under fire for declaring how proud he is of his record of outsourcing. HuffPost’s Pollster model still has McConnell and Perdue ahead.
But Kansas, South Dakota, Georgia, Kentucky — these are not the states Republicans were most worried about.
Seizing the opportunity in South Dakota, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is putting a million dollars into the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D), despite comments from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggesting that the seat had already been lost.
Bloomberg Politics first reported Wednesday that the DSCC would commit money to television ads bashing the Republican nominee, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds.
Recent polling has shown Rounds stuck in the mid-30s with both Democratic nominee Rick Weiland and former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler, who is now running as an independent, trailing just a few points behind. There is also one more independent in the race, Gordon Howie, who may also draw conservative votes away from Rounds.
Though Pressler has not said which party he would caucus with were he to be elected, he endorsed President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. The DSCC presumably hopes that the cash would damage Rounds enough that Weiland, or at least Pressler, would come out on top Nov. 4.
The latest development proves Weiland’s predictions right. The Democrat, who completed a tour of every one of the state’s 311 incorporated towns, told The Huffington Post in March that national Democrats would start to notice his strategy, despite Reid’s comment that Weiland “wasn’t my choice" and that Democrats would likely lose the seat.
"I think there’s a possibility that they’ll get engaged here," Weiland said. "I’m feeling that this race is just starting to get on the national radar screen. The national party has been pretty focused on some of the more vulnerable incumbents, some of the higher-profile open seats, but I hold out that at some point South Dakota will be on there. I’m absolutely convinced I need to continue doing what I’m doing, working as hard as I can, to get this race in a place where it is viewed as a competitive race."
Weiland senior adviser Steve Jarding told HuffPost Wednesday that the DSCC’s new involvement showed that Weiland’s campaign has picked up momentum.
"We’ve been hoping for a long time that’d we’d get attention, certainly from the committee, and so we think the race is where we hoped it would get," he said. "We want the spotlight on all the candidates. For a long time there wasn’t really a spotlight, it was kind of just ‘Mike Rounds is going to win,’ and now clearly there are folks who say it’s not automatic that he’s going to win. The Democrats might actually have a shot."
The DSCC’s cash infusion follows the lead of Mayday PAC, founded by Harvard professor Larry Lessig. The group committed $1 million to Weiland earlier this week, in an acknowledgement that the Democrat has made campaign finance reform a central tenet of his bid.
Who would’ve thought that SD-Sen may save the day for the Dems?
David Perdue is using a page out of Saxby Chambliss’ 2002 playbook.
Georgia senate candidate David Perdue told a local radio station on Friday that his Democratic opponent Michelle Nunn may be associated with terrorist organizations though he later admitted that his campaign did not investigate the charge.
Using tactics that resemble outgoing Sen. Sexby Chambliss’ (R) successful 2002 campaign to portray Vietnam veteran Max Cleland as a sympathizer of Osama Bin Laden, Perdue has been airing a television ad that accuses Nunn of funding “organizations linked to terrorists” during her tenure at Points of Light, a volunteer organization founded by former President George H. W. Bush.
“I mean this ad that we had is straight out of Michelle Nunn’s own campaign plan,” Perduesaid during an interview on WGAU (1360 AM) Friday. Asked directly “Do you believe Michelle Nunn is in any way associated with terrorist organizations?” Perdue responded, “Well, that’s what it says in their plan.”
The charge does come from Nunn’s own campaign strategy, which was leaked to the press in July. But in that memo, strategists for Nunn tried to anticipate the attacks her Republican opponents might use against her and prepared pushback messages for the candidate. The document does not claim that the terrorist connection is legitimate.
In 2003, MissionFish, an arm of Points of Light, signed an agreement with Ebay that would allow users to donate to charities through MissionFish on a tax-exempt basis. One of the thousands of charities verified by MissionFish is Islamic Relief USA, a group that is not listed on any terrorist watch lists and “remains an eBay Giving Works-approved charity.” Earlier this year, Israel accused a separate organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, of funding Hamas, though Islamic Relief USA was in no way implicated in the order. Islamic Relief USA says it’s an independent organization that “delivers aid both through its own independent grants and partnerships and through the funding of programs run by Islamic Relief Worldwide field offices in developing countries.”
Neil Bush, son of President George H.W. Bush and chairman of Points of Light, has called on Perdue to renounce the spot. “To attack an organization founded by my father, whose integrity is unimpeachable, to smear our organization for political gain, is in my opinion shameful,” Bush said. Nunn has also produced an advertisement that tries to shame Perude for the attack.
But the businessman isn’t backing down. During an interview with a local NBC affiliate, Perdue dismissed the findings of fact checkers who have called the charge bogus, saying, “the people who debunked it, I’m not sure they’ve investigated.” Asked if his campaign has looked into the charge before producing the ad, Perdue admitted that it had not. “No, that came out of her plan,” he reiterated.
Source: Igor Volsky for ThinkProgress
Georgia Republican David Perdue has spent his Senate campaign defining himself as a businessman and a job creator. But if any Georgia voters were duped into thinking Perdue’s business experience might help create jobs in Georgia, they should check out what he had to say about his career in outsourcing in a 2005 legal deposition:attribution: American BridgePerdue was asked about his “experience with outsourcing,” and his response was blunt.Perdue’s campaign now claims he was not causing the companies he worked for to send any more jobs overseas than they otherwise would have. But it’s really hard to spin “some of my experience there was helping footwear companies develop the ability to import shoes from Asia.” Or “Sara Lee did not have a centralized sourcing operation in Asia, and we built that from the ground up.”
“Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that,” Perdue said, according to the 186-page transcript of his sworn testimony. […]
“[At] Kurt Salmon Associates, some of my experience there was helping footwear companies develop the ability to import shoes from Asia, specifically Taiwan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Malaysia,” Perdue noted, referring to his 12 years working for that management consulting company that specialized in outsourcing manufacturing for apparel companies. Perdue eventually became a partner with the firm.
“Later with Haggar Corporation — sorry, with Gitano and Sara Lee, having lived there, I lived in Singapore with Gitano and in Hong Kong with Sara Lee — sourcing was my primary responsibility in both of those locations.”
Do you think that’s what voters in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country want to hear? Talk to me about outsourcing, Mr. Perdue. “Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that.” What Georgia voters need to hear is how a career spent outsourcing makes you well-suited to promote job creation in the United States of America. Or maybe why voters would believe that a candidate who spent his career outsourcing cares about creating jobs in the U.S. If Perdue only discovered a passion for American jobs when he was getting ready to run for office, should voters believe him?
Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would “nullify” Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul’s libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. It can be viewed here.
The question was: “Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?” Ernst answered that question as “yes.”
Campaign for Liberty Communications Director Megan Stiles told TPM on Friday that the “yes” answer is what the group is looking for in candidates. Stiles, however, cautioned that the group does not endorse candidates.
"States nullifying federal laws is one way of a check on the balance of federal power," Stiles said. "So that’s an additional way to fight Obamacare. That’s what we’re looking for."
Ideally though, Campaign for Liberty is looking for candidates that sponsor legislation (hence the +/- option on the survey).
Stiles, who wasn’t with the the Campaign for Liberty in 2012, said she would have to get back to TPM on how arrests would be made. She said it would depend on whether what’s being implemented is a state run or federal run healthcare exchange.
"The general idea is that if leaders in the state don’t want to participate in Obamacare then they would nullify the law —as another check on federal power," Stiles said.
Democrats said the survey was just an another example of Ernst being a tea party radical.
"Apparently arresting health officials for giving Iowans access to quality, affordable healthcare is something Joni Ernst believes in. This is just another example of how her radical Tea Party ideas are wrong for Iowa," Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in a statement.
In July TPM highlighted that Ernst had previously said that Congress shouldn’t pass laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Ernst made those comments at a 2013 Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum. States can’t nullify federal laws, as The Daily Beast, which first reported the story, noted.
See the survey below:
The TPM Polltracker average gives Ernst a 4.7 point lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa.
(via TPM: Senate Democrats Release New Ad Torching GOPer Ernst On Personhood)
Joni Ernst: BAD FOR IOWA!!!
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a new TV ad on Thursday hitting state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) over Personhood, a favorite line of attack for Democrats over the last few months.
"Joni Ernst pushed the Personhood amendment. What would that mean? It would ban many forms of birth control and would make all abortions illegal. Ernst would outlaw abortion even for victims of rape or incest. And would actually impose criminal penalties on doctors," the voiceover in the ad said.
The ad then uses a clip of Ernst saying “I think the provider should be punished, if there were a Personhood amendment.”
Democrats said the ad is a multi-million dollar buy and will be running statewide.
It’s the latest example of Democrats bashing Republican Senate opponents over the hard anti-abortion Personhood measures. On Monday, the Iowa Democratic Party released an ad also attacking Ernst over her support for adding a Personhood amendment to the state Constitution.
The Shawnee County district court said it could dismiss the case both because the plaintiff, a registered Democratic voter, David Orel, failed to show for the oral hearing and on the merits.
Orel had sued to force his party to pick a new nominee after the Kansas Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who attempted to join him in the lawsuit, to remove former Democratic nominee Chad Taylor from the ballot.
"The legal history for the proper context to be placed on this statute and what we believe is its commonsense meaning reflects a discretionary judgment is left to be made by the political party of the withdrawn candidate as to whether a vacancy is to be filled or not," the court wrote. "Therefore, mandamus, as a remedy, is simply not appropriate given the discretion, the intrusiveness and the impracticality that giving jurisdictional recognition to the Plaintiff or the relief sought would otherwise demand."
Kobach sided with Orel and attempted to be made a party to the lawsuit. Since Taylor announced he would withdraw from the race, Kobach has been working to keep a Democratic nominee on the ballot, first by ruling that Taylor must stay on the ballot then by backing Orel’s lawsuit after the state’s high court overruled him.
"I believe this is the end of the road for this case," election law expert Rick Hasen of the University of California-Irvine wrote on his blog, though he acknowledged that Kobach could try to appeal to the state’s supreme court.
"If there were more time, a possible appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court could be a possibility," he wrote. "But to bring it now would be a fool’s errand, and if Kobach brings it he’ll look even more partisan than he has looked in this whole mess."
Without a Democratic nominee, the Senate race is down to Orman and Roberts, which was the goal of the Democratic maneuvering all along. Early polling since Taylor’s withdrawal has shown Orman with a clear lead on Roberts. He holds a 1-point edge, according to TPM’s PollTracker average.
h/t: Dylan Scott at TPM