Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wrapping Night #2 of the DNC

The 42nd President of the United States took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, and he was in the mood to talk.

Bill Clinton, certainly one of the top 10 orators ever to serve as POTUS, skillfully reintroduced the world to his wife, Hillary Clinton.

The speech was brilliant starting from the moment they met to the closing argument that laid out why the world needs Hillary and why the United States needs to elect her.  In many ways, it personalized Hillary in a way, many have said, never has been done before.  It definitely painted the portrait of a devoted mother and wife who was really the driving force in the Clinton family.  It talked about Hillary's sacrifice of her own career.  Now, she's in the prime of it.

The night was also highlighted by the Mothers of the Movement.  The mothers in the organization had lost children to gun violence or in police action/incarceration.  Survivors and first responders talked about Hillary and how she fought for them in the aftermath of 9/11.

Day three of the convention is tonight with POTUS and VPOTUS on the schedule.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Holcomb To Fill Ballot Slot Vacated By Pence

Lt. .Governor Eric Holcomb
It was dramatic.

All four gubernatorial candidates running to replace Mike Pence on the ballot stood behind Indiana’s Republican Party Chairman, Jeff Cardwell. Three of the four knew their candidacy was over, but, for the fourth, it’s just about to really begin.

It took multiple ballots, but the Indiana Republican Party Central Committee nominated Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb as their nominee for Governor of Indiana. The former GOP Party Chair, Mitch Daniels staffer and behind-the-scenes political operative outlasted the other three candidates on the ballot: Susan Brooks, Todd Rokita and Jim Tomes. We’ll find out August 1 who will replace Holcomb as the GOP’s candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

What a whirlwind 2016 it’s been for Holcomb. In February, he exited the race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat after disappointing fundraising and a general lack of support dogged his run. A month later, he was being sworn in as Indiana’s 51st Lieutenant Governor when Sue Ellspermann moved on to become President of Ivy Tech after rumored disagreements with the Pence Administration. When Donald Trump plucked Mike Pence to be his Vice Presidential nominee, a slot opened up on the ballot for Governor.

Holcomb worked quickly to shore up support. He sent a letter to the Central Committee promising Pence would back him financially and with an endorsement. Pence delivered on his promise…at least with the endorsement, and we will see if he puts the check in the mail.

A long time ago, a former Indiana Democratic Party Chair told me that being a party chair is typically a disqualifier to run for public office.  We'll see if the deals and machinations cooked up back under Holcomb comes back to hurt him.

John Gregg arrives on the other end fairly in the same place he was before.  There are tons of places he can attack Holcomb.  If I were him, I would try to quickly define Holcomb as Mike Pence's best friend before Holcomb has a chance to get his organization underneath him.  I'd go right after him with no honeymoon period.  We're already hearing Gregg pivot.

Today, Gregg was on TV saying he wanted to "serve" as Governor and that Holcomb wanted to only "be" Governor.

Rocky Start Makes Fantastic Finish to Democratic Convention Day One

After the first day of the Democratic National Convention got off to a rocky start, I had written one blog post talking about what job Hillary Clinton had to unite her party and pull this all together in the face of scandal.

Thankfully, my script changed about the time Al Franken and Sarah Silverman stepped on the stage.

Silverman, the always provocative comedian who has been outspoken in her support of Bernie Sanders, exchanged some scripted humor with Franken, the Minnesota Senator that used to be a comedian in his past life.  The point was to make a symbolic rhetorical bridge between Sanders and Clinton supporters and then introduce Paul Simon to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

When Simon wasn't quite ready to begin, Franken and Silverman had to stretch and the "Bernie or Bust" folks began to chant.  Silverman directed her comments right at them and lowered the boom, "To the 'Bernie or Bust' people, you are being ridiculous."

At that moment, the night changed.  The loud boos and jeers over every speaker diminished, and, despite a few interruptions, the night continued.

Four speeches really stood out on his first night with one perhaps ascending to the pantheon of great convention speeches, and I'm not the only one saying it.

First Lady Michelle Obama's speech was clear, concise, emotional and perhaps the best endorsement of Hillary Clinton I've heard.  Drawing on her experiences in the White House, Obama was able to show how transformational moments like the election of her husband signify this country's greatness.  Along the way, she subtly at times and directly at times launched attacks at Donald Trump and the GOP rhetoric about our country.  She also gave a new narrative for Hillary.  One that no one will deny.  That's that Hillary Clinton has been the crucible of politics since she stepped into public life, and she's tough, tested and will not back down.  It was a truly brilliant speech.

Senator Cory Booker's speech also made its rhetorical marks.  The New Jersey Senator got in some good uppercuts on Trump and the GOP, but his speech was about unity and rising together.  He also emphasized the idea of love.  "Patriotism is the love of country," Booker said.  "But you can't love your country without loving your countrymen and countrywomen."

Following those two speeches and following directly after the First Lady, Elizabeth Warren had a tough task.  The Massachusetts Senator experienced a few shouts and catcalls from the audience about her endorsement of Clinton, but she mostly just continued on a brilliant and focused political attack on the Republicans and Trump.

The last speech of the night was Sanders himself.  After spending most of the first half of his speech on some of his greatest hits from the campaign, Sanders floated some new stuff too.  While he gave little ground, Sanders made the case that the only way to continue the revolution begun by his supporters was to make sure to go out and work to elect Hillary Clinton in November.

I have a feeling this convention will continue to be rowdy, but the first night ended on a high note for the presumptive nominee.  We'll see if the unity note continues on Tuesday with the 42nd President, Bill Clinton taking the dais in primetime.  We all know that Bill can spin a yarn.  It's a very unique and historic moment for a former President to make the case for his wife to be the future President.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dems Rally in Philly to Officially Nominate Clinton

It's the big week for the Democrats to make their big impression on America about our party's vision for America.

I trust that it will be a different version than the one put forth by the Republicans last week in Cleveland.

Things get kicked off early this week with Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders due to speak on Monday.  Bill Clinton headlines Tuesday night.  Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Tim Kaine speak on Wednesday, and that clears the stage for Hillary Clinton on Thursday.

I have to admit, I'm a little nervous.  I think many of Bernie Sanders's supporters have gone rogue and are no longer listening to even their candidate.  We'll see how and if that presence is felt in the arena.  I hope that the party doesn't come apart at the seams as the Republicans did on Wednesday night when Ted Cruz spoke.

The email scandal that has taken down Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a tremendous distraction that Hillary Clinton really didn't need, and it also puts the DNC in a very bad light.  Good to see that interim Chair of the party, Donna Brazile is encouraging the party to own up and move on differently.  I hope that she is given a chance to lead the party on a permanent basis.

Still, this week is about celebrating the diverse organization that is the Democratic Party.  It's a party that includes everyone from Joe Donnelly to Bernie Sanders and everyone in between.  To the delegates, let's make sure there's no party like a Democratic Party!

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.