Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

McConnell v Grimes: forgive our cynicism, but the look of both candidates isn't exactly going to hurt the Democrats either.

McConnell v Grimes: forgive our cynicism, but the look of both candidates isn’t exactly going to hurt the Democrats either. Hey, Kennedy beat Nixon because he was taller, right?

A round of new polls conducted by The New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation have some good (and surprising, to some) news for a handful of Southern Senate Democrats in key seats. This news may hose down excitement in some GOP and fellow-traveller ranks that the Republicans could win control of the Senate: that now looks less likely, not that we ever thought it was.

The polls, released Wednesday, found Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) leading Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) by a comfortable 46 percent to 36 percent.

In Kentucky, controversial Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – long tipped as a very possible loser in the mid-terms by this blog – just barely leads Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) 44 percent to 43 percent, the poll found.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is also neck-and-neck with House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC) in a hypothetical matchup with Hagan getting 42 percent while Tillis gets 40 percent.

Lastly, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has a commanding lead over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and the rest of the field in the Louisiana Senate race.

(That finding deserves a caveat: Louisiana’s primary system is something called a “jungle primary” where there is no Republican or Democratic primary. Instead all candidates run together and if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates face each other in a runoff election. The poll found Landrieu with 42 percent followed by Cassidy with 18 percent. No other candidate managed to get double digits.)

The polls were conducted April 8 to the 15. The margin of error for each poll was plus or minus 4 percentage points for registered voters. In other words, despite “weeks of attacks ads” quoted by one source, Mark Pryor in Arkansas has pulled out to a winning lead (his biggest lead since polling started) and looks comfortable in what should still be a relatively tight race. The other races are all within the margin of error.

We believe incumbency will be a negative for all candidates in November, and even more than usual. On that basis we think McConnell looks doubly vulnerable. We shall see.

Alison Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes – she’s taking on the big one.

One of the more interesting Senate races in 2014 will be that for the seat of Mitch McConnell.

McConnell is now a staggeringly unpopular man for someone with his standing.

As leader of the Republicans in the Senate, he epitomises Washington gridlock, and frequently appears grumpy, curmudgeonly, and stubbornly pleased to be in that position.

That doesn’t mean he can’t get re-elected, of course. He’s a thirty year veteran in his position, and has a strong track record of winning in his Kentucky seat with a mixture of attack ads and connections to a strong grassroots street-corner campaign machine.

But in any two horse race, upsets can and do occur. And the anti-incumbent swing in 2014 is going to be savage.

All that remains is for the Democrats to come up with a candidate who is photogenic, connected, talented and clean. And they have.

As she demonstrated at the traditional campaign starter for Kentucky, the Fancy Farm Picnic, Alison Grimes has got what it takes to upset McConnell in spades.

She’s also a darling of Democrat activists, having used her time when campaigning for Secretary of State to argue against voter Photo ID, believing that it discriminates against poorer voters and people from racial minorities.

As these stories indicate, Grimes is galvanising the Democrat base – including with an hilarious and pointed performance at the Picnic – perhaps her funniest line was “If doctors told Senator McConnell he had a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it.” – and generally doing an excellent job of making McConnell look tired and out of ideas. She can expect an influx of workers and cash now she’s looking competitive.

http://www.politicususa.com/2013/08/03/alison-grimes-storms-fancy-farm-turns-mitch-mcconnell-paranoid-man.html

And opinion polls showing her neck and neck or hitting the front have excited much attention.

http://democracyforamerica.com/blog/728-this-probably-isn-t-the-week-mitch-mcconnell-wanted?t=C_fb_080213b

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/02/1228419/-Two-Dem-polls-show-Grimes-leading-McConnell-Cook-moves-Kentucky-Senate-race-to-toss-up

The last one includes video of an appalling poor McConnell attack ad which clearly didn’t resonate with voters. If that’s the best he’s got then he’s in even deeper trouble than it looks on the surface.

Well, of course, part of the fun of following politics is picking winners.

And picking them a long way out is more fun than we can resist. We think Grimes is in with a real shout.

"Things happen in American politics in the political center. If the President will meet us in the center, there are things we can accomplish." How's that going for you, Mitch?

“Things happen in American politics in the political center. If the President will meet us in the center, there are things we can accomplish.” How’s that going for you, Mitch?

But of course, if a week is a long time in politics, then between now and the 2014 elections is a positive aeon. Nevertheless what is certain is that McConnell now has a real fight on his hands.

And top guys can and do lose their seats.

Remember, Australian Prime Minister John Howard was turfed out in 2007 as part of his party’s overall loss.

It’s also worth recalling that Grimes beat a sitting Democrat to get into the Secretary of State race which she went on to win with a huge lead.

The number of attractive photographs of the candidate on the internet show that her camnpaign managers know full well that her looks are an asset.

The number of attractive photographs of the candidate on the internet show that her campaign managers know full well that her looks are an asset.

She’s got form as an anti-incumbent candidate.

Did I mention she’s cute?

And if you don’t know how that can help when up against a somewhat … less cute? … an older man, then sorry, but you just don’t get modern politics.

So we she’s one to watch.

If she beats McConnell, or even wounds him badly, then the sky is the limit for this woman.

Relatively inexperienced Junior Senators can go far, remember.

PS Meanwhile, in breaking news, it has been confirmed a few minutes ago that Australia will have a General Election on September 7th. Given that 80% of the readers of Wellthisiswhatithink are Americans, I apologise in advance that we will be mentioning it from time to time, and especially to those of you who couldn’t give a monkey’s bum what happens down here in God’s own country. Or as we like to call it at WTISIT, the Land of the Long White Lunchtime.” 

The First Vote

1867 drawing of newly-freed black men voting. Women would not get the vote until 1920. Near-total resistance to blacks voting went on in some areas well into the 1960s. In some states, it appears to persist to this day.

A clutch of vital swing states (run by Republicans) are under the microscope for the efforts they are making to ensure it is so hard as to almost be impossible for hundreds of thousands of EX prisoners to vote in the Presidential election.

Needless to say, the vast majority of these ex inmates are black. They’re likely to favour a black President. You do the math …

Just another example why “the greatest democracy in the world” is actually a democracy basket case.

As UPI report from Washington, civil rights activists stepped up efforts this week to allow more than 1.5 million voting-eligible felons in Florida — and millions more nationwide — access to elections, urging that laws they see as discriminatory need to be changed.

“Keep in mind that two-thirds are not in a prison cell right now,” said Hilary O. Shelton, senior vice president for advocacy at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Nearly 6 million – 6 million, overwhelmingly poor, overwhelmingly black – American felons have no voting rights, says the Sentencing Project, a non-profit group that works on criminal justice reform issues. Florida leads the nation with the highest rate per capita of disenfranchised felons.

In swing states like Florida and Virginia, another state with a large number of disenfranchised felons, those votes could well make the difference in close elections. The deadline to register for the November election is Tuesday in Florida and Oct. 15 in Virginia.

Advocates say they worry the laws are part of larger voter suppression efforts, some designed to keep minorities from casting ballots this fall.

The NAACP launched a national campaign against felon disenfranchisement Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla. The group is seeking changes in laws that keep felons from voting.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who sits on the state’s executive clemency board, calls the practice fair to law-abiding citizens and victims of crime.

“It is reasonable to ask felons to apply to have their rights restored and to demonstrate rehabilitation by living crime-free during a waiting period after the completion of their sentences,” said an official in Bondi’s office.

But laws governing the restoration of voting rights vary by state, making this an uneven playing field at best. Most U.S. states restore felons’ voting rights automatically after completion of their prison term, parole or probation. Several states allow prisoners with misdemeanor convictions to cast absentee ballots.

But some states with right-wing governors have been rolling back voting rights for felons.

Florida, under Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and Virginia, under Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, are among 12 states — including Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming — where felon voting rights may be permanently withheld.

“The problem is the Florida Constitution,” said Randy Berg, the executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, a public interest law firm in Miami. He cited a provision added in 1865 that hasn’t been repealed.

“Legislators refuse to change the rules on clemency,” Berg said.

Scott’s administration rescinded a more liberal policy for felons in March 2011. Florida now requires felons to wait 5-7 years before they can apply for restoration of civil rights. So much for paying your debt to society.

In a statement from Scott’s office, ex-felons must demonstrate “willingness to request to have their rights restored.”

In 2011, 13,000 ex-felons applied for civil rights restoration.

But since Scott’s administration amended the law, fewer than 300 ex-felons have voting rights restored.

Under the earlier policy introduced in 2007 by Gov. Charlie Crist, who was then also a Republican, 155,000 ex-felons had their voting rights restored.

In Iowa, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad rescinded a law in 2011 to automatically restore voter rights, which was instituted in 2005 by former Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat who is now the U.S. secretary of Agriculture.

The danger with executive clemency law is reflected in changes depending on administration.

In Virginia, Shelton said, “If the governor wasn’t so moved, (the) people’s rights could not be restored.”

Restore the right to vote

Natural justice surely demands that EX felons should have their civil rights restored.

Thirty-one percent of all voting-age African-American men in Virginia are disenfranchised because of felony records, Shelton said.

Let’s just run that fact again. Thirty-one per cent of all black men in Virginia cannot vote.

Nearly one in three. So much for the land of the free.

Disenfranchisement after criminal conviction remains the most significant barrier to voting rights.  Nationally, 5.3 million American citizens are not allowed to vote because of a criminal conviction – 4 million of whom live, work, and raise families in their communities.

Two states — Vermont and Maine — don’t disenfranchise felons. Prisoners registered to vote in Vermont, regardless of where they are incarcerated, may submit absentee ballots.

An official in the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office called voting part of the restorative process. Community educators conduct voter registration drives in prisons to ensure that prisoners can participate in elections.

Neither Vermont nor Maine maintain records on how many prisoners register to vote because many use addresses from prior to incarceration.

The NAACP, in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, provides former felons with information upon release on how to regain voting rights. Additionally, the organization maintains prison units in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri for providing absentee ballots.

One can only hope at least some of those disenfranchised by these outrageous tactics can have their rights restored promptly, but time is probably against them. They will stand by and watch the process take place without them.

Rehabilitation? Don’t make me laugh. We are creating a permanent black underclass in parts of America. Don’t be surprised when they bite back. It won’t be pretty.