It has taken a while, but Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has “quit” as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. This comes two days after Wikileaks released emails show the top echelon of the DNC was is in the tank for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Schultz has been a Clinton crony for many years and like many Clinton cronies before her, she has been disposed like a disposable diaper once she has been soiled and no longer serves their interest.
Act 3 of primary season kicks off this Tuesday with a runoff in Georgia. There is one congressional race to watch and a handful of legislative contests on tap; polls close at 7p ET and we will be liveblogging on Tuesday evening. As a programming note, since we are starting PM Roundups, from now on the primary previews will be published on Saturdays at noon.
GA-3 (R): This open R+19 seat stretching from Columbus to Atlanta’s southwest exurbs is home to the only major race this week. Two candidates emerged from a crowded field, each taking 27% and separated by only 93 votes. State Sen. Mike Crane (R) was considered the front-runner for this race at the start; Crane quickly secured support from several fellow legislators and GOP antiestablishment conservative interests, including the Club for Growth and Ted Cruz. However, his fundraising throughout the primary has been poor and many more mainstream conservative figures have actively opposed him, leading him to turn in a first-round performance that was generally thought weaker than expected. In the runoff, Crane faces West Point (pop. 4K) Mayor Drew Ferguson (R). Ferguson, a dentist, has fundraised surprisingly well in this campaign, outraising and outspending Crane by a large margin. He also has a profile that is greater than the population of his town would suggest due to his work in bringing a large Kia plant to the area. Ferguson has taken up the establishment mantle in this race and has support from the Chamber of Commerce, retiring incumbent Lynn Westmoreland (R), and the third-place finisher in the primary. Westmoreland also cut an ad for Ferguson paid for by the CoC. Due to his establishment support, fundraising advantages, and Crane’s underperformance in the first round, Ferguson is thought to be a slight favorite this week; independent and internal polls give him a slight lead. However, with ultra-low turnout expected, Crane’s antiestablishment conservative base may be even more powerful than usual and could give him the upset. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.
We’ll also put the Legislative Previews in this post since there are a manageable number of races. Flip over for those…
Hello everyone. Sorry I didn’t have a final dispatch for you yesterday. Leaving Ohio was a little hectic and I didn’t have a chance to write anything. I’m now back in Denver and wanted to offer some concluding thoughts.
Music: Did anyone notice that the band was playing sexually charged songs all night? Shook Me All Night Long, Stay With Me by Rod Stewart, and All Right Now by Free. And the closing song–Rolling Stone’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want–was a perfect troll for the #NeverTrumpers.
Thiel: The fact that Peter Thiel could say he was proud to be gay without getting booed is a major step forward for the party. I realize there’s a long way left to go, but I hope this is a sign that the reactionary anti-gay sentiment in the party is dissipating. Of course, liberals on Twitter were grasping for straws, criticizing Thiel for not blinking enough, and not having enough inflection in his voice. Pretty shameful.
Ivanka: This was the best speech of the night, and showed the audience what a compassionate conservative can look like. Ivanka hit all the right notes about her father, and then veered way left on affordable child care and women’s issues. It was an interesting tactic, given that Donald Trump probably won’t be discussing affordable childcare much between now and November. It played very well though, and even my most liberal friends acknowledge that she’s likable and charming.
Trump: I give Trump a B-. It was a passable speech, if a little long. But he didn’t do what I considered absolutely essential: give the people watching–and who Hillary has turned off–the confidence that Trump can be level-headed and presidential. The knock on Trump so far has been that the speech was too “dark” or too “gloomy.” I think this is absolutely the wrong criticism. We live in dark and gloomy times. It’s only wrong to give a “midnight in America” speech if it isn’t actually midnight in America. And maybe it is.
Trump’s best two moments were on LGBT issues and responding to the crowd’s chant of “Lock Her Up” with “Let’s defeat her in November.” These were unmistakable plays to appeal to the center, and they were done well. If only Trump could have kept that going the whole speech. And an honorable mention goes to Trump’s solid comparison of “I’m with Her” for Hillary supporters, as opposed to Trump saying “I’m with you.”
Also, contrary to my prediction, Trump didn’t mention Cruz.
For some of my real time reactions to the speeches on Thursday night, you can see the RRH Twitter feed here.
PFlag/Log Cabin: I neglected to mention this event previously, and thought I would note one thing. Across the events I attended, there seemed to be some fresh hope that the GOP is opening up on LGBT issues. While the platform may not be friendly, the candidates themselves are moving on. Of course, the Thiel and Trump speeches only reinforce that message.
Family Research Council: With respect to my earlier dispatch, I also forgot to mention one humorous moment at this event. A guy rushed up onto the stage and said he was running for Congress in Florida so that “women no longer …” we’ll never know because he was escorted away. I assume he was pro-life, but couldn’t get a speaking slot. And yet, I have no idea what party he’s from or where he’s running. He kept yelling that his name was John Nelson, but I don’t see that name on this list of Florida congressional candidates.
Powerhouse/AT&T: Despite the Third Eye Blind kerfuffle earlier in the week, AT&T threw an excellent closing night party near the waterfront in downtown Cleveland. I got to enjoy the West Virginia farewell party, the party for RNC staff and volunteers, and even a tour of the Cleveland Aquarium. I missed the Kid Rock concert, unfortunately.
At the party, I got a little more backstory on the Convention and the Cruz drama. First, the Convention was really put together in the last 3 weeks. The program was non-existent, down to the pledge of allegiance, until organizers realized it was crunch time and they needed to get their game together. Staff and volunteers had to work around the clock to pull off what was still a mess of a convention.
Second, I heard confirmation of the high-level game theory that Trump *wanted* Cruz to bomb, and fully understood that Cruz would turn off the audience by not endorsing him. Trump came up with the plan to show up in the VIP box during the speech to give a thumbs up and get the crowd on his side. If this is true, this is some pretty hardcore strategy by Trump personally.
Security: The police presence in Cleveland was excellent. I didn’t witness a single arrest or physical skirmish outside of the Quicken Loans Arena. The closest I got to conflict were (1) seeing two Republicans fighting inside the Arena over something; and (2) having someone yell “Hey Cracker” at me twice leaving the dodgy McDonald’s. I made it home without a scratch. Just a giant blister on my toe.
Bounce: It’s too early to tell, but I could see Trump getting a minor bounce out of the Convention. Of course, it’s difficult to establish any causality given how much the polls will be bouncing around with Hillary’s VP pick and the DNC coming up next week.
NeverTrumpers: There will certainly be some holdouts, but I think the convention had the effect of unifying the most active members of the party. That may not mean much in terms of reaching independent voters, but I think the GOP has begun the process of coming home to Trump. (The readers of this blog excluded!).
That’s a wrap folks. Thanks for indulging these posts and actively commenting on them. I hope they’ve been informative and entertaining.
In a move that surprised no one, Hillary Clinton has selected Junior VA Senator Tim Kaine as her Vice President. Kaine, who has a decent resume as a former VA governor and head of the DNC, is probably the safest and most boring choice for Clinton, as he is essentially a Generic Democrat from a Swing State. Kaine was also an early endorser of Obama in 2008, meaning that Clinton is making an oddly reconciliatory pick considering the Clinton’s reputation for always remembering who their friends and enemies were, but it fits her current role of running as Obama’s successor. The biggest risk of this pick however is that Kaine was recently revealed to have received the same sort of “gifts” that got former governor McDonnell a (later overturned) corruption conviction, which means it feeds nicely into the Trump narrative of Clinton and her allies being unapologetically above the law.
As we settle into the weekend between the RNC and the DNC, we eagerly await Hillary Clinton’s announcement of her vice president nominee choice and it is time for the weekend open thread:
Please check back this weekend for a final convention dispatch from Right Reformer tomorrow and a preview of next week’s Georgia primary runoff on Sunday.
(1) Are Republicans more united or more divided after the RNC?
(2) What will the Bernie Bros. do at the DNC next week?
(3) Who will be the most prominent Republican to endorse Gary Johnson?
And since it is the weekend, here is Rep. Robert Kilmson’s speech from the RNC in its entirety.
Clinton-VP selection: As Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her running mate choice today, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine seems to be the favorite. One confidant of Clinton said “I would bet all my chips on Kaine.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is the other most likely candidate and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Labor Secretary Tom Perez are also seen as possible choices. Clinton is said to have been intrigued by the idea of choosing someone who would generate more buzz, but she feels that Donald Trump’s choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence frees her to go with a more centrist candidate who she is comfortable with.
Cruz fallout: Sarah Palin is calling Sen. Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Donald Trump “career-ending”. Of course, if there is anybody who knows how to destroy a promising career and alienate previous supporters, it’s Sarah Palin.
Trump-foreign policy: Trump is getting a lot of criticism from Republicans for his comments about not coming to the aid of fellow NATO members if attacked. One person who is trying to walk the difficult line of supporting Trump while still keeping his reputation as a person who is serious about foreign policy is Sen. Tom Cotton (R). Cotton seems to dodge most questions about Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements by focusing on Hillary Clinton, and suggests that Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin will change once he starts receiving classified intelligence briefings.
Johnson-polling: Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has one group in which he appears to have strong support-active military. In fact, Johnson beats both Trump and Clinton among them according to a new survey-although it was not a scientific poll. Johnson received about 39% among active-duty military in the survey taken by social media site Doctrine Man, while Trump received 31% and Clinton 14%. Family members of active duty military however actually slightly prefer Clinton by 29% to 27% over Trump with Johnson at 25%.
LA-Sen: 16 candidates have filed so far for the open Senate seat with filing beginning Wednesday morning and ending today this afternoon. The candidates include 6 Democrats, 7 Republicans and 3 independents. The major candidates include Reps. John Fleming (R) and Charles Boustany (R), State Treasurer John Kennedy (R), former Rep. Joseph Cao (R), Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D) and New Orleans attorney Caroline Fayard (D). 2014 Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) has been in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention raising money and is expected to file today
VT-Sen: Scott Milne (R), the businessman who nearly upset Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) in 2014 gave Republicans their best possible candidate in an essentially impossible race this year against Sen. Patrick Leahy (D). But his gargantuan task ahead of him may be even more difficult than imagined-Leahy has one of the biggest COH advantages you will ever see with $3.1 million compared to just $83 for Milne. Milne says he is taking donations, but is not launching a fundraising campaign.
TX-Sen. 2018: In the wake of Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Donald Trump, Trump ally Roger Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones are actively looking for candidates to primary Cruz in 2018. Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, who lost a primary challenge to Rep. Pete Sessions (R) in 2014 was mentioned as one possibility, but Stone says he would like to see LG Dan Patrick (R) challenge Cruz. Patrick however said he is not interested in running, saying he enjoys being Lieutenant Governor and living in Texas.
IN-5: If Rep. Susan Brooks (R) does not win the Republican Party’s nod to replace Mike Pence as the party’s gubernatorial nominee, she can still try to be chosen to go back on the ballot for Congress. But she may not get a free ride in that case as some potential candidates say they will not necessarily step aside for her. Fred Glynn (R), a Hamilton County councilman has expressed his interest in running for the seat. But if Brooks decides to run again, he says he would have to reasess things, but still might decide to challenge her. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard (R) has also expressed interest in running, but says he wouldn’t run against Brooks.
KS-Gov. 2018: Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) is seen as likely to run for governor in 2018 when Gov. Sam Brownback (R) will be term-limited. Kobach has been steadily raising his profile around the country-speaking on voting rights issues and immigration and has spoken to other state delegations on the issues at the Republican convention this week. However, he was an early supporter of Donald Trump-a position which it’s unclear whether it will help or hurt him in the future. Other possible Republican candidates include Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo.
OH-Gov. 2018: Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) is not openly campaigning for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018 yet, but he is acknowledging that likely candidate Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) would be a tough opponent. Husted however has raised slightly more money than DeWine for a potential run. He is also trying to walk the balance between Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich (R), who hasn’t endorsed Trump-saying that there is room for both of their visions in the Republican Party.
Hello everyone. I’m writing from a McDonalds in a dodgy part of Cleveland, so I’ll offer some apologies if this post ends up being a little shorter than the first two dispatches. Obviously the big story coming out of last night was Ted Cruz’s too-clever-by-half attempt to thread the needle between his own #NeverTrump supporters, his reasonable grudges about Trump for insulting his wife and father, and yet the need to show some kind of support for the GOP nominee and the only realistic Hillary alternative.
In short, Cruz failed miserably. The audience quickly turned on him, and realized he was trying to play it both ways. “Vote your conscience” was quickly tweeted by Hillary, and Cruz has been in a series of shouting matches since last night.
I’m sure Cruz will have some spin in the future, especially if Trump loses in November. But this is a speech that will go in his permanent record.
Scheduling and Organization: The speeches have been hit and miss, and unfortunately several strong speakers have jazzed up the crowd, only to be followed by droning meandering speakers. Last night, the crowd was increasingly pumped up by two great back-to-back speakers, Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado and Darrell Scott, Senior Pastor at the New Spirit Revival Center Ministries. The crowd gave them both thunderous applause. Which was swiftly gone when Harold Hamm, an elderly oil executive, went on stage. Followed by Scott Walker’s best effort to be exciting, which failed. A momentum killer for sure.
Technical Issues: One major gaffe was the constant technical problems on the Jumbotrons and the scrolling banners. The banners flickered uncontrollably before going completely black, and the big screens were mostly test patterns. Eventually the staff was able to resuscitate some (but not all) of the big monitors. Sort of poor optics for a nominating convention whose theme just a day before was “Make America Work Again.”
Michelle Van Etten: Apparently Van Etten has a mixed history of pushing a questionable multi-level marketing scheme, and it’s not clear why they would give her a national platform at all, much less for the rambling speech she offered to the crowd. They also titled her head of “Women in business for Trump.” But shouldn’t that just be “Businesswomen for Trump”? Let’s not make things complicated here guys.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Cruz started off strong, mentioning Trump by name and congratulating him on winning the nomination. He then said that he wanted to see our principles prevail in November. I thought at the time we were headed for a very subtle Trump endorsement.
Cruz then played it safe for a while, building up applause lines with red meat. Then took a couple of implied digs, mentioning, in the context of federalism, how different states do things differently, such as Colorado versus Texas, or Iowa versus New York. I assume this was a reference to the places Cruz won vs. where Trump won.
For an observer, the most striking thing was how he squandered tremendous audience goodwill. The crowd was on their feet as he entered, and loudly cheered him through his critiques of Hillary, only to break out in pockets of shouts and jeers when he started leaning into Trump. What was unmistakably, however, was the torches-and-pitchforks anger of the crowd once Cruz began his “God Bless…” closer without endorsing his party’s standard bearer. It’s a head scratcher why one would want to broadcast a giant, national spectacle of one’s inability to play well with others, but Ted Cruz has always been playing his own game of Solitaire.
Eric Trump: No big problems with Eric Trump’s speech, but it was clear to me that Donald Trump Jr. is the son with the brighter future in politics, if he chooses that path. Izengabe thinks Donald Jr. should go for something in Virginia or Florida.
Pence: Extremely vanilla speech with no major errors. He didn’t blow me away, and was obviously overshadowed by Cruz, but I gave him a solid B grade. In many ways, Pence is the anti-Cruz; he’s the Christian who makes it ok for evangelicals to like Trump. He played that role well last night.
Family Research Council: This was a (very) pro-life event put on by the Susan B. Anthony List and the Family Research Council. Speakers included Gov. Rick Perry, with Marcus Luttrell (of Navy SEAL and Lone Survivor fame) in tow, Gov. Sam Brownback, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford. The speeches were largely what one would expect from this crowd and for this audience, with the notable exception of Perry, who put a novel (putting that gently) spin on the “Life” portion of “Life and Values” by making what seemed to be a wheelhouse speech on national defense and veteran’s issues.
American Sustainable Business Council: Former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth and former Colorado GOP Chair Ryan Call showed up here, but there wasn’t much to say about this event. The event–focused on pragmatic public development projects that can partner with private enterprises–seemed out of place at the Republican National Convention.
Vengeance: Here’s more evidence of the fallout from the anti-Kasich sentiment coming from Trump and his campaign staff, particularly Paul Manafort. Apparently Tim Biggam, the former Western Region Director for Kasich, was set to join the Trump campaign and has decided not to do so. A few other Kasich staffers haven’t given up hope, but it looks like a significant part of Trump’s Ohio operation is going to have to be built from the ground-up, without Kasich’s help.
If you want to see my live-tweeting from the event last night, you can check out the RRH Elections Twitter Feed here. I’ll be tweeting again tonight. And thanks to HudsonCountyRepublican for meeting up with me last night and chatting about the Convention and politics!
PS – For my Greek Orthodox peeps out there, here is Archbishop Demetrios delivering the slowest closing prayer ever last night, and somehow mispronouncing “Pence” at the 3:25 mark.
And separately, a major coup for Trump last night was securing the critical endorsement of the Gambino crime family.
Cruz: Senator Ted Cruz (R) went full blown Taylor Swift on Donald Trump (Himself) last night during his prime time speech when he refused to expressly endorse Trump. There is definitely some bad blood there that Trump is going to have to shake it off.
More Cruz: Beyond Cruz’s speech, Politico has some instances of Cruz supporter defiance leading to conflict at the RNC. While many in the establishment might not like Trump, they do enjoy going full blown Vichy if it means attaching Cruz supporters.
Walker: Governor Scott Walker (R) endorsed Trump in his speech last night, but the speech was spent laying out all of Walker’s accomplishments. Definitely an improvement over Cruz’s speech, but not that great for Trump.
Trump: The Trump campaign reports $20 million cash on hand as of the end of June while Trump taking a $45 million writedown on a loan he made to the campaign.
Johnson-Bush: Former Governor Gary Johnson (R running as L) alludes to having the support of former Governor Jeb Bush (R-Rubio Destroyer). You have to wonder how many Republicans Johnson has the support of in secret at the moment and will be revealed in the future.
HI-1: Representative Mark Takai (D) died yesterday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Rest in peace Congressman.
Trump-Congress: 538 looks at the 7 levels of support for Donald Trump in Congress.
Texas Voter ID: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Texas voter identification law as being discriminatory.
UK – Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn launched his bid to remain as leader of the Labour Party this morning!
Congressman Mark Takai (D), who dropped his bid for a second term earlier this year, has tragically passed away of Pancreatic Cancer at age 49. Ex-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) is the prohibitive favorite to succeed him, but there may now be a special election (probably concurrent with the November general) to fill the last five months of Takai’s term. Hawaii special elections use an unusual all-party winner-take-all format, which might have caused some problems had another serious candidate besides Hanabusa been running, but that is likely to be irrelevant in this case.
Hello again from Cleveland! As I mentioned yesterday, the Monday proceedings made it so that yesterday had nowhere to go but up. And the Convention did seem to run a little more smoothly, despite a few hiccups. In fact, for the delegates, yesterday was more about the parties than about actual attendance at the Quicken Loans Arena. Several Colorado delegates took off in the evening, and one Colorado delegate even missed voting so he could attend a party. (He later voted for Cruz in an amended tally).
Here is the full roundup of yesterday’s events.
Donald Trump Jr.: Trump Jr. got generally good reviews for a well-delivered speech. Already there’s significant buzz–as there was with the Romney children–of a future career in politics. But I’m a little skeptical that anything will come of it, just as the Romney children haven’t run for office since 2012. Also, the left’s attempt to slander Donald Trump Jr. with additional plagiarism charges quickly went awry.
Tiffany Trump: A decent speech from a figure I wasn’t sure was full-throatedly backing her father. I was worried we might have an Andrew Giuliani type situation here, but she did well.
Harmeet Dhillon: I have nothing but good things to say about my friend Harmeet, who delivered a touching Sikh prayer to the Convention last night. Good for the RNC for bravely taking on the backlash they knew would happen from the sordid elements of the alt right.
Carson: Carson gave a rambling speech that we all know by now invoked the dedication page in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals book. That page refers to Lucifer as the original rebel in praiseworthy terms, and Carson attempted to associate Hillary with Lucifer. A weak effort to be sure.
Chris Christie: An awesome speech and one that I saw as shifting the tide of the base *toward* Christie in a way he’s never seen before. Frankly, I think we can expect him to try run for President in 4 years carrying the Trump mantle if Trump doesn’t win this cycle.
Donald Trump: Here is your GOP nominee. It’s finally over.
Muslims For Trump: I was also happy that the audience (what was left of it) gave a warm reception to the Muslims for Trump speaker. I noticed he didn’t use any Arabic though. Was the speaker on network TV? The last two speakers at the event were certainly not headliners, and it looks like the plan is to go with a “bell curve” approach. Low key names, then prime time, then more low key names.
Kasich: Ohio Governor John Kasich held an event yesterday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a venue that doesn’t exactly accommodate big crowds of people. After forcing the audience to wait in the hot sun an extra 20 minutes to get into the building, the small venue meant that attendees were split up onto multiple floors of the building.
After that, the microphones failed and no one could hear a word Kasich said anywhere other than next to the stage. It was basically the Kasich campaign defined – a lot of big talk with no execution. And it appears that Kasich is already doing the prep work to lose the 2020 GOP primary.
Also, my comment yesterday about Manafort’s decision to attack Kasich was spot on. The Kasich folks cancelled a nascent effort to connect Trump and the RNC to Ohio donors once they heard about his statements at a private breakfast.
Dentons: A very fancy party hosted by the international law firm was a well-attended affair. Former Speaker Gingrich, Haley Barbour, and Bill McCollum were in attendance. Gingrich was in perfect form at this event, explaining the Trump phenomenon and the importance for conservatives of voting for Trump this cycle. Trump, he noted, was just the vehicle for public anger in the U.S. that we’re seeing across the globe in places like England, Austria, and Iceland. The GOP, Gingrich argued, has to embrace Trumpism, if not Trump himself, going forward.
UT Senator Mike Lee: The only thing I’ll note here is that Senator Mike Lee made two interesting comments at a luncheon. First, that he doesn’t support an Article V Constitutional Convention and that his experience with the RNC Convention roll call vote on Monday confirmed that belief; and second, that he doesn’t see it as politically viable to hold a Supreme Court vacancy open for another four years. It’s either Trump or Hillary who will be replacing Justice Scalia.
The WAKE UP Party with Milo Yiannapolous: A sort of sordid suaree, filled with very angry people. Milo’s speech was best characterized as forcefully underscoring the incompatibility of Muslim fundamentalism and the homosexual lifestyle, with a secondary message that the Left has taken the gay vote for granted for far too long. The venue itself was in a dimly lit ballroom in the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State. There wasn’t a stage, which didn’t really lend itself to the rather large crowd that had assembled. The audio also was fairly weak, which led Milo supporters to loudly admonish chatting supporters in the back to “shut the F up!”
Overall, I rated the second night of the convention as a solid B-, a dramatic improvement from the D I would give it on Monday night. We’ll see how things go today.