Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Time to check in with Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball team of election prognosticators as the 2018 midterm elections are now under two weeks away, and while Sabato sees Sen. Heitkamp's seat in North Dakota as vulnerable, the rest of the Senate map remains in play with Florida, Missouri and Indiana as true toss-ups that Dems must defend, and two GOP tossups that are vulnerable in Nevada and Arizona.  Texas and Tennessee remain in play for the Dems to pick up, as do Montana and WV for the GOP to go after.

On the House side, Sabato sees 20 pickups for the Dems and 2 for the GOP, 18 of the 23 pickups the Democrats would need, still leaving 20 GOP seats as tossups and 1 Dem tossup, and a staggering 33 more GOP leaners that could be picked off compared to just 2 for the Dems.  Longer shot races still find 29 more likely House Republican seats in play, with only 10 Dem likely seats in the same condition.  The Dems are in excellent position to retake the House.

Having said all that, it's the gubernatorial races that could be the most surprising.

The highlights of this week’s ratings changes come in the gubernatorial races, where we’re moving three additional races into the Toss-up column, giving us a whopping 10 races where we don’t see a favorite with less than two weeks to go. Red states Kansas and South Dakota go from Leans Republican to Toss-up, while Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) moves from Leans Democratic to Toss-up.

Notice that these are all states with decided federal political leans where, nonetheless, the federal minority party may have a chance to steal a governorship. In the case of the minority parties in Oregon and South Dakota, gubernatorial wins would break very long losing streaks: A Republican has not won a governor’s race in the Beaver State since 1982, and a Democrat has not won such a contest in the Mount Rushmore State since 1974. A key ingredient in the potential upset bids of both state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton (D-SD) and state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-OR) is that they both can point to mainstream (for their respective states) positions on abortion: Sutton does not support abortion rights, Buehler does. Our sense is that both races are very close. Buehler is running against Brown’s management of the state; Sutton is running against Rep. Kristi Noem (R, SD-AL) as a Washington insider.

When it comes time to pick these races, as we will, it may be hard to go against the ingrained federal partisanship of each state. But they are very much in play.

The same goes for Kansas, where Democrats have won the governorship recently — for instance, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) won in 2002 and 2006 before becoming President Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services. If this race was just a head-to-head contest between Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and state Sen. Laura Kelly (D), Kelly probably would have an edge. But the presence of independent former 2014 Senate candidate Greg Orman has pushed this race into something of a tie, although some Republicans believe Kobach is a little bit ahead. Kelly has to hope Orman, who attracts something around 10% support, performs worse than that on Election Day, as often happens to third-party candidates. Kelly has the support of several prominent Kansas Republicans against Kobach, who is from the more conservative wing of the party. One challenge for Kelly: In a socially conservative state, she’s pro-choice on abortion.

One other change this week: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) has seemed very much in trouble throughout the cycle, but polling has shown her taking a stronger lead against her 2014 opponent, Allan Fung (R), as well as former state Rep. Joe Trillo, an ex-Republican who is running as a pro-Trump independent and splitting the vote in a way helpful to the incumbent. A group backed by the Republican Governors Association recently stopped running ads in the Ocean State, signaling that Raimondo’s path to a second term is clearer. We’re moving Rhode Island from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic.

So now we’re left with 10 gubernatorial Toss-ups, a situation similar to four years ago, where many gubernatorial races (although fewer) were up in the air at the same point of the cycle.

A quick word on all the current Toss-ups:

Of the three races we just moved to Toss-up, Kansas seems like it might be the likeliest to flip, but we also remember how embattled Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) was left for dead in 2014 but won anyway. However, that year featured a GOP-leaning national environment, whereas this one does not. If one goes by the polls, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers (D) may be a tiny favorite over Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). The same is true of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) in his open-seat Florida race against former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R, FL-6), as well as state Attorney General Janet Mills (D) in Maine, where she faces businessman Shawn Moody (R) and a couple of independent candidates who may hurt her more than Moody. We don’t have even a slight lean at this point in Iowa, Nevada, and Ohio. In Georgia, we think a runoff is likelier than not.

One final note: Late last Friday, Gov. Bill Walker (I-AK) dropped out of the Alaska governor’s race. He remains on the ballot but his exit makes former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) position a little less secure against ex-Sen. Mark Begich (D). We moved that race from Likely Republican to Leans Republican, but it remains the GOP’s best opportunity to win a governorship the party currently does not hold.

Overall, Democrats are going to net governorships, and perhaps many, but a lot of the individual races remain up in the air.

Oregon is always unpredictable, as is Alaska, and it's a shame that Ben Jealous isn't getting more help in Maryland against Larry Hogan.  But for Kansas, Iowa, and South Dakota to be in play right now really feels good.  Dems are already poised to pick up Michigan, New Mexico, and Illinois, and it's entirely possible that Dems could pick up eight more seats, vitally important going into 2020 and the Census.

We'll see.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

It's starting to look more and more like right-wing operative Roger Stone is the link between Russian intelligence actions to influence the 2016 contest and the Trump campaign, and that he's most likely going to prison for the rest of his life.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has obtained communications suggesting that a right-wing conspiracy theorist might have had advance knowledge that the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

Mueller's team has spent months investigating whether the conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, learned before the public did that WikiLeaks had obtained emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers — and whether he passed information about the stolen emails to Donald Trump associate Roger Stone, multiple sources said.

Mueller's investigators have reviewed messages to members of the Trump team in which Stone and Corsi seem to take credit for the release of Democratic emails, said a person with direct knowledge of the emails.

The source and other people familiar with the matter say they have seen no evidence suggesting either man played any role in the hacking or release of the emails. Stone adamantly denies doing anything but passing on information already in the public domain.

Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, said the office had no comment. Corsi and his lawyer, David Gray, declined to comment.

There is zero doubt at this point that WikiLeaks was used by Putin's merry band of saboteurs as a clearing house for Russian intelligence operations and information.  There is zero doubt at this point that the Russians stole DNC emails through phishing.  There is zero doubt at this point that WikiLeaks was given those emails to distribute in order to cost Hillary Clinton the election.

If Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone knew these stolen DNC emails were coming from WikiLeaks beforehand, then they are the connection between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign.

We also now know that Stone wanted to reward WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with a Trump pardon, and that Stone was pushing Trump to give Assange one in direct exchange for WikiLeaks' help in winning the election.

In early January, Roger Stone, the longtime Republican operative and adviser to Donald Trump, sent a text message to an associate stating that he was actively seeking a presidential pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange—and felt optimistic about his chances. “I am working with others to get JA a blanket pardon,” Stone wrote, in a January 6 exchange of text messages obtained by Mother Jones. “It’s very real and very possible. Don’t fuck it up.” Thirty-five minutes later Stone added: “Something very big about to go down.”

The recipient of the messages was Randy Credico, a New York-based comedian and left-leaning political activist who Stone has identified as his backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign—a claim Credico strongly denies. During the election, Stone, a political provocateur who got his start working for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, made statements that suggested he had knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to publish emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and other Democrats, and his interactions with WikiLeaks have become an intense focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference. As Mueller’s team zeroes in on Stone, they have examined his push for an Assange pardon—which could be seen as an attempt to interfere with the Russia probe—and have questioned at least one of Stone’s associates about the effort.

Assange has not been publicly charged with a crime in the United States, though the Justice Department has investigated WikiLeaks over its publication of classified material and and role in releasing emails pilfered from Democratic targets by hackers working for Russian intelligence. Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described arresting Assange, who for the last six years has taken refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to evade criminal charges in Sweden stemming from a rape allegation, as a “priority.” Justice Department prosecutors have considered charges against Assange since 2010, when WikiLeaks released more than a quarter million diplomatic cables.

Credico says that Stone repeatedly discussed his effort to win a pardon for Assange. At one point, he notes, Stone claimed that he was working with Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News personality and former New Jersey Superior Court judge, on a plan in which Napolitano would float the idea on his show or directly to President Donald Trump. Napolitano said in a statement that he “categorically denies” working with Stone to secure a pardon for Assange.

Stone confirmed the pardon effort, though declined to answer specific questions. “I most definitely advocated a pardon for Assange,” he said in an email. He also said that he had “most certainly urged my friend Andrew Napolitano” to support an Assange pardon.

This is about as obvious as a conspiracy gets:  Russia steals DNC (and RNC!) emails, they give the emails to WikiLeaks, they inform Stone what's coming, Stone tells Trump.  When the Access Hollywood tapes drop, within hours the counterattack is the DNC email leak that wipes the story of Trump's massive history of criminal sexual assault off the front page.  Trump goes on to win the election, and in return Stone works to get WikiLeaks founder Assange a pardon.

That's just part of the huge mess, but a big part.  And Mueller has all this evidence on Stone, Corsi, and WikiLeaks.  Obstruction of justice abounds, Stone is in the middle of it all.

Stay tuned.

Deportation Nation, Con't

The party of separating refugee kids from their parents and keeping them in cages in detention camps seems to think that martial law on the southern border is going to be a political winner for them in a couple weeks.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) suggested that President Donald Trump might have to declare martial law along the southern border of the United States to prevent a large group of Central American refugees and migrants from entering the country.

Gohmert appeared Tuesday on the “Todd Starnes Radio Show,” a Fox News program, to discuss the so-called migrant caravan, a group of thousands of migrants currently en route to the United States to seek asylum or residence.

Starnes called the group of mostly Honduran nationals a “mob.”

“If, in fact, this mob heads towards California, what’s gonna happen then?” Starnes asked Gohmert. “Because [Democratic governor] Jerry Brown will welcome them. You know it’s a sanctuary state. Do you think the president will allow that to happen?”

“I don’t think the president will allow that to happen,” Gohmert replied, suggesting that Trump could send troops to the borders over Brown’s objections and that the California governor would be committing treason by aiding the migrants.

This has got to be so massive, I mean, you might have to declare martial law along the border,” Gohmert said. “And the Democrats have been to stupid to realize that encouraging this caravan they may actually empower the president to do things they never wanted.”

When Starnes asked Gohmert what “martial law” would look like, the congressman responded that it would mean “federal troops coming in and being at the border, and if anyone tried to stop them, they could be dealt with.”

You would probably need federal law enforcement to be there to arrest any Americans who might try to stop it,” he elaborated. “The military needs to have their weapons pointed towards Mexico and not toward the American people, but it may be that we have to have enough federal law enforcement, and maybe we have to have the National Guard if Jerry Brown is going to force the issue ― but I hope and pray he won’t be so stupid as to try to stop the U.S. government from enforcing our border because then we’re talking treasonous-type acts.”

I know picking on Louie Gohmert, arguably the most ignorant and brutish oaf in Congress (and that's really saying something in 2018) is the definition of low-hanging fruit, but Gohmert seems to be in the midst of an ecstasy of going the full Kent State on The Scary Brown Horde™ and that's, you know, crimes against humanity and what not.

But note the Gohmert makes no distinction between the fate of the convoy and that of the need for "weapons pointed towards the American people" because they're traitors in his eyes, and especially note that Gohmert considers this an excuse to use the full coercive power of violence reserved for the state against its political internal enemies to remove them from the earth.

As I keep saying, right now America is at hard six headed towards seven on the Ten Stages of Genocide, but Gohmert is ambitiously thinking we need to skip the whole "internment, removal and property theft" mass deportation phase of seven and go straight to the trial massacre part of eight where a whole lot of people end up dead.  I mean, China's moved quickly down this chart into seven with ethnic Uighur Muslims and Beijing is definitely in the concentration camp phase of that particular operation currently, eight is probably already underway.

Gohmert's just letting us know that the Trump regime plan is to blame Democrats when something similar becomes "necessary" here very, very soon.  They want that shooting war, they want that crackdown, and they want to finally purge America of those people so badly they can taste it.

Will anyone take a sitting Congressman to task for his call for martial law, mass roundups and even deadly force to be used on US citizens? Not Gohmert's Texas constituents.  Five Thirty Eight figures he'll get 70% of the vote anyway, at he does pretty much every two years.

Like I keep telling you guys, this is America.  This is who we are and always have been.


Related Posts with Thumbnails