Sunday, July 24, 2016

Clinton Makes Solid VEEP Pick with Kaine

Tim Kaine
I had such a busy Friday on the blog that I just am now getting around to commenting on the selection of Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton's running mate.

I can sum it up in one word: solid.

Kaine has long been the frontrunner in the VEEP nominee derby, and, if you watched his introduction to the ticket on Saturday, you can see why.  He's smart, surprisingly interesting and completely qualified to serve in the office.

There were more progressive choices that Clinton could have made, and it's impossible to know what exactly her thought process was or what advice she was getting.  Kaine, however, makes a lot of sense and "checks a lot of boxes".  He does have some negatives, but I think they are far outweighed by his positives.  I do believe he adds value to the campaign team.

He's got a great resume in politics spanning over the last 22 years.  He has spent time as a city councillor and a mayor.  Kaine was elected Lieutenant Governor and then Governor in tight races. In 2012, he was elected to the U.S. Senate replacing Jim Webb.  Kaine was on the shortlist to be Barack Obama's VEEP nominee in 2008.

Kaine's record is middle-of-the-road when it comes to many issues.  He's no liberal, but he has shown an evolution to more progressive positions since leaving the Governor's Mansion.  In a time where the Latino vote means so much, Kaine spent time in Central America as a missionary and is fluent in Spanish.  Kaine also comes from the important swing state of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  It goes without saying that Clinton needs that state in her column on November 8.

By all accounts, he's well-liked on both sides of the aisle and is a hard working member of the Senate.  Hopefully, he will bring that attitude with him on the campaign trail.  Kaine seems to be the kind of VEEP.  He will be loyal and will not overshadow the nominee, but he will be ready to step in at a moment's notice if necessary.

So it's Trump/Pence, Johnson/Weld and Clinton/Kaine.  Time will tell if Kaine is able to push Clinton over the top.

Wasserman Schultz Must Resign Now

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
For Democrats across the country, it's supposed to be a time of celebration of our party's candidates, values and vision as we head into the Democratic National Convention this week.

Instead, we head into Philadelphia on defense and combating a number of problems brought on by inept, corrupt and unethical leadership by those in charge of the Democratic National Committee.

Never in my life have both major political parties been led at the national level by such poor leaders as Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  I can handle Priebus because he's not our problem as Democrats.  DWS is our problem, and she should have stepped down months ago.

In 2008, Howard Dean set the standard for what a national party head should be, in my opinion.  Dean managed to successfully navigate the minefield between two big dog candidates in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Then, in the end, he helped mend the fences and gave the Obama campaign all the backing and support it needed to wipe the floor with John McCain.

In 2012, Debbie Wasserman Schultz had an easier task.  She needed to simply reelect a President.  The nominee was clear from the start, and she successfully provided the necessary support to get that done.

Somewhere after that point, things began to unravel.  It has degenerated to the point that hackers were able to hack the DNC's email servers and pass along that information to Wikileaks.  That information is now being used to torpedo Hillary Clinton's chances and elect Donald Trump.  Wasserman Schultz's leadership has allowed all of this to happen.

That is only part of the problem.  The contents of these emails is simply shocking to me.  It's clear that the DNC did not play the part of fair arbiter trying to find the best nominee for the party.  Instead, they favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

The race to the bottom was swift even going to the low of questioning Sanders's faith.  These sorts of tactics are not in bounds for any campaign to select a party's nominee.

First of all, in 2016, it should not matter what someone's faith is or is not.  We should be able to support, as a party, candidates from any faith background all he way across the spectrum to atheist.  We are the Democratic Party, and the fact that our shared values differ from he Republicans on this particular issue is one of the many reasons why I am a Democrat.  When the DNC gets personal like this, it should make all Democrats sick and mad.

I believe that the DNC could have played this all right down the middle and Hillary Clinton would have come out the other end of this process as the nominee.  Because of the clear behind-the-scenes machinations by the leadership of the DNC and its chairwoman, the Clinton campaign is now having to answer questions it never should have been forced to answer.  It's an unforced error by the Democrats that could help the RNC elect the most dangerous man ever to be nominated by a major party.

Bernie Sanders should get whatever he wants now from the Democrats.  I've heard him in interviews, and, instead of being bitter, Sanders sounds energized and committed to electing Hillary Clinton President of the United States.  With that said, it's time to flush the DNC out at the leadership level and allow Senator Sanders and his fresh perspective to lead the party.  That's different from the way we Democrats have done business in the past, but I think the ineptitude of Wasserman Schultz's leadership has led us to this point.  Thankfully, we won't hear her speak at the convention.

Usually Hillary Clinton would get to pick the next Chair of the party, and I have some thoughts about who might make a great successor, but, with everything that's happened, I think it should be Senator Sanders selecting the next Chair.  Yes, I understand that he's a "new Democrat" and perhaps a risky choice, but I think that a strong signal needs to be sent that this is the way Democrats do business.  When we see injustice, we do everything we can to make it right.

As for me, I'd love to see someone like Donna Brazile be named the next Chair of the party.  I think she has a good head on her shoulders, has class and common sense and is tough-as-nails.  Though she has ties to Clinton, I think she is impartial enough to know that we have to do business differently as a party going forward.

The reforms need to start immediately.  The house should be cleaned from top to bottom at the leadership level, and it's time to get to rebuilding our party's process of nomination.

First thing's first...Debbie Wasserman Schultz must resign immediately.  Then, the DNC needs to issue a full and complete apology for the treatment of Senator Sanders and for the way its leadership has conducted itself in this process.

Let's mend fences and move forward united.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Future Remains Bright for Bayh with November Win

Evan Bayh
No surprise, but Evan Bayh was chosen by the Indiana Democratic Party Central Committee to fill the ballot vacancy created when Baron Hill pulled out of the U.S. Senate race on July 11.

Bayh, the son of former U.S. Senator and Hoosier legend, Birch Bayh, will now appear on the ballot on November 8.  Republican Todd Young and Libertarian Lucy Brenton will be Bayh's two opponents.

It's the latest move in Bayh's Hoosier political journey.

At the age of 30, Bayh was elected Secretary of State in 1986. Two years later at just 32, he was elected Governor of Indiana defeating popular Lieutenant Governor, John Mutz. Bayh was reelected in a landslide in 1992 defeating Attorney General Linley Pearson.  After he served two terms, he handed off the reins of state government to one-time rival turned good friend, Frank O'Bannon in 1996.

After keynoting the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Bayh became a national name.  At the age of just 42, he was elected to the U.S. Senate by a wide margin over Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke.  By building a carefully crafted moderate record in the Senate, Bayh became a common name on the Vice Presidential vetting list in 2000 and 2004 and was nearly selected by President Barack Obama in 2008 to be his running mate.  He even toyed with running for President on his own in 2008.

Bayh was to stand for reelection in 2010, and the early polls showed that he was going to be in a tough fight.  Citing family concerns and frustration over the climate of Washington politics, Bayh withdrew from the Senate race.  For the first time in a long time, Bayh was a private citizen.

In moves that enraged some Democrats, Bayh took a job with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and worked as a lobbyist.  He also became a contributor on Fox News Channel.  Just last year, purchased a new house in Georgetown, D.C. while reportedly keeping a home in Indiana as well.

Bayh passed on runs for Governor in 2012 and 2016, and he seemed to be on the road to elder statesmanship until, at the age of 60, he decided to reenter politics and run for his old Senate seat again in a move that shocked the Hoosier political world.

He released his first ad just last week, and the early returns are encouraging. A poll released this week by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee showed Bayh with a 21-point lead on Young.  That brings us to today's news.

It's a new chapter in Bayh's storied career.

In writing this new chapter, Bayh now has a chance to prove to Hoosiers and perhaps even the nation at large that he still has much to offer in his political life.  After all, he could conceivably still run for President or find himself a major player in politics for the next 20 years by Richard Lugar's clock.

If Bayh is elected in November, it will be interesting to see where he places himself politically this time.  It will also be interesting to see if he begins angling for 2024 when, at the age of 68, he could still run for President.

Yes, there's still an abundance of political life left in this Indiana legend.

Central Committee To Choose Between Bayh or Kern Today

Bob Kern
Evan Bayh's big day is today as the Democratic Central Committee gathers to nominate Baron Hill's ballot replacement for U.S. Senate, but it's not a clear path to the ballot even though it would be a shock if Bayh's candidacy is not unanimously approved.

So, who else is running?

If you said Bob Kern, you are correct.

The perennial candidate of all perennial candidates, last seen running for U.S. Congress in House District 9, threw his hat into the ring for U.S. Senate by filing the appropriate paperwork with Secretary of State Connie Lawson 10 days ago.

It's definitely Kern's right to run, but his chances of beating Bayh are frankly smaller than Donald Trump's hands.

Kern, who in 1998 won the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in then-District 6, has run for Congress in a variety of different districts and ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 when Bayh removed himself from the race.  Brad Ellsworth won that spot on the ballot.

The Central Committee meets at 5:00 pm at Indiana Democratic Party Headquarters.

Thoughts on the Republican National Convention

I was going to try to go back and try to make some sense out of this week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, but I really find it difficult to seriously go about doing so.

The Republican Party is on fire.  It truly is, and there's part of me that finds it sad.

When I was in high school and began to become aware of politics, I was coming out of the Reagan Administration and into the 1990's.  My parents were Republicans, and I was raised in that kind of traditional fiscal conservative and socially libertarian household.

I went to college and it coincided with the rise of the Clintons and the rise of Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America Republicans.  The party was moving further and further to the right, and I figured out that I wasn't really a Republican.  In 1996, I voted for the first time, and I voted for Bill Clinton.

I say all of this because I think I've seen a complete collapse of what used to be the Republican Party under Ronald Reagan.  While he's often cited as someone that is the father of the modern conservative movement, Reagan would never recognize this version of conservatism pushed by Donald Trump.

To a certain part of our country, this Trump conservatism resonates.  That's why the Republican brand as it is now still can definitely propel him into the White House and why it's more important than ever to stop it.

Overall, the convention was a disaster.  It started gloomy on Monday night, and it ended gloomy with Trump's awful speech.  Along the way, the lies flew about Hillary Clinton, and the repeated attacks that have been rebuffed by facts were repeated again.  Ted Cruz refused to endorse him, and, perhaps the highlight of the convention, was Mike Pence's speech on Wednesday.

All-in-all, this race was where it was a week ago. Those loving Trump love him more.  Those hating Clinton still hate Clinton.  Those hating Trump probably dislike him even more.  I don't think Trump's speech played at all well to those in swing states.  In fact, in that regard, it might have hurt Trump.

The polls will shake all this out in a couple of weeks.  For now, it's off to Philadelphia where there ain't no party like a DEMOCRATIC party!

One winner in all of this was the City of Cleveland.  Congratulations to Cleveland for an excellent job hosting the RNC mess.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taking Stock of Indiana's Gubernatorial Race

Indiana Governor's Office
The Indy Star's Matt Tully is in Cleveland, and he says he's been talking to some of the 22 people that will make the decision as to who will receive the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana.

Those 22 folks are the Indiana GOP Central Committee, and they have four candidates to choose from when they meet back here in Indy on Tuesday.  The vote will be by secret ballot.

Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb, U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, and State Senator Jim Tomes are the four names in the hat.

According to Tully's reading of the situation, Brooks is the frontrunner followed very closely by Holcomb.  Rokita and Tomes are the also-rans.

His reading is very close to mine.  I flip Brooks and Holcomb, but I think one of those top two will be the nominee, and I think it will be close.

I've heard that Holcomb enters that meeting with nine solid votes.  One of those votes is Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel.  The Times of Northwest Indiana's Dan Carden noticed this tweet by Noel.

So, that's one solid vote for Holcomb if you're counting votes.  We'll see how this one breaks down over the next few days.

Tully cautioned...

As far as John Gregg's campaign goes, he's still up on the air with ads and is moving forward.  He rolled out his education plan in this spot.

By the way, I'll post my final thoughts about the Republican National Convention on Friday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Laws Make It Way Too Easy for Rokita, Brooks to Pursue Gubernatorial Nod

I have a beef.

It's way too easy for Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita to get back on the ballot if their runs for the Republican nomination for Governor are unsuccessful.

The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that Brooks and Rokita simply need the vote of precinct committee persons in their districts to rejoin the ballot.  Both have expressed their willingness to return to the ballot if they lose the GOP State Central Committee vote on July 26 for the gubernatorial nomination replacing Mike Pence.

There are candidates interested in the seat, but the Star reports that most are only interested if Rokita and Brooks stay out.  

Brooks has a Democratic opponent that could make some headway out of this decision.  Dr. Angela Demaree can take some heart in this situation because it gives her a line of attack against Brooks in a district that was won by Senator Joe Donnelly in 2012.  Still, the district is drawn to be heavily Republican as it rates a +11 on the Cook Political Report's ratings in favor of Brooks and the GOP.

While John Dale is giving it his all in the 4th Congressional District, the Cook Political Report rating on the 4th is a +13 for the Republican.  Rokita is likely safe in his seat even if he would, let's say, reduce the eligibility for kids to get free school lunch.  Wait...he did that?

My beef is with the laws that allow these candidates to simply drop out of their races and jump back in if they lose.  They should have to sit out this time around if they drop out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

News Bad for Young in First Snapshot of Senate Race with Bayh

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a poll on Monday, and, if you believe it, the news is not good for Todd Young.

The Indiana Congressman trails Bayh by 21 points in the poll, and Bayh is over 50 percent.

It is early, and you can take the poll for what it's worth seeing as the DSCC put it out, but it's definitely a moment for Todd Young.