Thursday, November 8, 2018

Last Call For The Recount Account

Recounts in Georgia and Florida are underway as evidence piles up of massive voter suppression in both those states by Republicans in order to steal both gubernatorial races and the Florida senate race. Georgia's Brian Kemp should go to prison for this.

Republican Brian Kemp’s campaign declared victory in the race for Georgia governor on Wednesday, even as election officials continued counting thousands of absentee and provisional ballots, narrowing his lead and prompting Democrat Stacey Abrams to insist she could have the votes to force a runoff election.

As the vote-counting continued, voting rights advocates accused Kemp — who as secretary of state is Georgia’s top election officer — and local officials of disenfranchising thousands of voters on Election Day. Hundreds of complaints flooded in about hours-long lines brought on by broken equipment, a shortage of voting machines and insufficient quantities of printed provisional ballots.

On Wednesday evening, Kemp was ahead with 50.3 percent of the vote to Abrams’s 48.7 percent. Abrams and the Libertarian candidate would need to gain at least 25,000 votes more than Kemp to bring his share of the vote below 50 percent and trigger a runoff.

Today the state is counting absentee, and provisional ballots and Abrams is suing to make sure those ballots are counted.  Kemp has stepped aside as Secretary of State, something he has to do under state law.  There are a lot of ballots -- maybe hundreds of thousands -- that still need to be counted.  But it gets worse:

Another problem was the limited number of voting machines in some locations. More than 1,800 machines sat idle in storage in three of the state’s largest and most heavily Democratic counties. In Fulton County, according to figures provided by elections director Rick Barron, the ratio of machines to registered voters was lower than it had been in 2014, despite predictions that turnout was likely to break records for a midterm election.

While some voters waited in hours-long lines in Fulton County, 700 of those machines sat in stacks in a warehouse in downtown Atlanta, Barron said. The machines were sidelined because they are evidence in a lawsuit alleging the equipment had been exposed to the threat of hacking in 2016.

The federal judge in the case had ordered state and local election officials — including Kemp — and the plaintiffs to weigh the demands of upcoming elections in deciding how many machines to set aside.

Kemp dragged his feet to make sure those machines couldn't be used.  It's purposeful voter suppression of black Democratic votes, period.  The legal struggle continues in Georgia, but the odds of a recount in Florida for not one but three races seems guaranteed now by state law.

Two of the highest profile races in the country -- both in Florida -- are likely headed to a recount soon. 
Sen. Bill Nelson's re-election bid is likely headed to a hand recount given that the incumbent Democrat now trails Florida Gov. Rick Scott by 17,000 votes, within the .25% margin required for a hand recount. Nelson's campaign aides believe he will emerge victorious once all the ballots are counted. 
And on the governor's side, Democrat Andrew Gillum -- after conceding the race on Tuesday evening -- has grown more supportive of a recount of late, in part because his deficit to Republican Ron DeSantis is down to 38,000 votes, within the .5% needed for a machine recount. Campaign aides, though, remain clear eyed about the the long odds that Gillum can make up that deficit. 
Recounts, which have not officially been authorized in either race, put the outcome of two of the most closely watched races of 2018 on hold, with Democrats hoping for a miracle that could get both Gillum, a candidate who garnered considerable attention in his campaign against DeSantis, and Nelson, an incumbent who Democrats had thought would win his seat going into Tuesday night, over the finish line with a win. 
"On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count. Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported," Gillum's communications director Johanna Cervone said in a statement. "Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted." 
At no point in the statement, though, did Gillum's campaign withdraw the concession and sources close to the mayor highlight that his outlook hasn't changed since his Tuesday night speech. It it is important to Gillum, these sources said, that his supporters know they are fighting for every vote. 
"We want every vote counted, we believe that there are still votes out there for Mayor Gillum and we want to make sure his supporters know we are fighting for every vote," one source said.

The third race is where Democrat Nikki Fried is a few hundred votes ahead of Republican Matt Caldwell for the state's Agriculture Commissioner, a powerful office in the state of Florida because it handles the state's gun licenses and enforces firearms legislation.

We'll know more in the days ahead, but Democrats could win all four of these races and need to fight for every single vote to be counted.

Stay tuned.

The Blue Wave Vs. The Red Wall

One state where the Blue wave faltered badly was North Carolina, which kept its illegal, unconstitutional partisan gerrymander through the 2018 election thanks to some help in foot-dragging from the Trump regime.  It paid off, too.  Republicans kept their 10-3 seat edge despite Democrats winning the popular vote in the state yet again.

“The blue tide did not breach the gerrymandered sea wall that exists because of the broken redistricting process we have in North Carolina,” said Bob Phillips, the executive director of Common Cause NC. “That was what we were watching for. We were waiting to see, does anything change? Gerrymandering does provide a protective sea wall for those districts.”

Across the state, Republican candidates for Congress won 50.3 percent of the vote and Democrats won 48.4 percent of the vote, according to a News & Observer analysis of vote totals. Democrats did not have a candidate in Eastern North Carolina’s 3rd district, won by Republican incumbent Rep. Walter Jones.

But Republicans kept their 10-3 edge in the state’s House delegation.

Republican Rep. George Holding defeated Democratic challenger Linda Coleman 51.2 percent to 45.8 percent in the 2nd district, which includes suburban Wake County.

Republican Rep. Ted Budd defeated Democratic challenger Kathy Manning 51.5 percent to 45.5 percent in the 13th district, which includes part of suburban Greensboro.

And Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready 49.4 percent to 48.7 percent in the 9th district, which includes parts of suburban Charlotte. All results are unofficial until certified by the state.

A three-judge panel has twice ruled the congressional districts are unconstitutional because of excessive partisan gerrymandering, with the latest ruling coming in August. The judges, which allowed Tuesday’s elections to proceed under the maps, said no future elections could use the districts as drawn. The ruling has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the authors of the maps had a different view of the results.

“The fact that the Democrats competed so heavily in the seats means that they were very confident they could win those seats,” said state Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican who helped draw the districts.

“If they are very confident they could win those seats, it proves the seats were not drawn to keep them out of the process ... Any person who has looked through their mailbox or watched TV or gone on the internet or opened a newspaper knows these seats are in fact competitive.”

Don't count on the 2020 map being any better.  Yes, Democrats shorted out the supermajority that the GOP had in the state legislature and now governor Roy Cooper can actually veto things.  The worst abuses are on the way out.  But the ruling on NC's districts is now going before the Roberts court, and the only issue is whether Chief Justice Roberts will be the fifth vote to overrule the lower court.  Considering Roberts was more than happy to gut the Voting Rights Act, I fully expect SCOTUS to block the order despite the screaming racism involved in the gerrymander in the first place.

Cooper will have a tough re-election battle ahead to keep his governor's seat in 2020 too.  Like it or not, the Red Wall is here to stay in North Carolina, and in several other states in the South and Midwest.

But one of those states where Democrats are having the same problem is Ohio, and unlike North Carolina, Ohio is only getting older and whiter.  ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis has been covering Ohio politics for a while now, and this thread on Ohio Dems in 2018 is pretty sobering.

Outside of Sherrod Brown, the Buckeye State is basically a lost cause for Dems in the Trump era.  Unless they want to permanently cede it to the GOP along with Indiana and Kentucky, Ohio Dems need to figure out how to win in a state that is tailor-made for the politics of white resentment.

I don't know if they can. The Red Wall is definitely protecting Ohio, and unlike NC, I don't see a way over, around or through it.

Meat The Press, Con't

If the Trump regime wanted to get the headlines off of yesterday's firing of Jeff Sessions in an effort to interfere with the Mueller probe and tie the media up in knots, the White House definitely accomplished that last night by revoking the press credentials of CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta after falsely accusing him of assaulting a White House aide at a Trump post-election press conference Wednesday.

In a stunning break with protocol, the White House said Wednesday night that it's suspending the press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta "until further notice." 
The move came just hours after Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, drew the ire of President Donald Trump and his allies by asking multiple questions at a post-midterms news conference. Trump insulted Acosta and called him a "terrible" person. 
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement that Acosta would be stripped of what's known as a "hard pass," which gives him access to the White House grounds. 
CNN said in a statement that Acosta has the network's full support. 
The revocation of his pass "was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today's press conference," the statement said. "In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support." 
In the 7 p.m. hour on Wednesday, Acosta was stopped at the White House's Pennsylvania Avenue gate where reporters usually enter. He was heading back to the White House for a live shot on "Anderson Cooper 360." 

The real reason of course was that Acosta asked one question too many about the Racist-in-Chief, and Trump finally lost his temper as the walls of the Mueller probe are closing in.  I don't expect Acosta to get his press pass back either, if he does, I will be very surprised.   Trump is fully committed to the media as "enemies of the people" narrative after this week's loss of the House to Democrats, and Acosta is only the first of what I expect to be many casualties.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on a Twitter tirade, posting a long string of garbage about Acosta's unacceptable behavior with a doctored video that conveniently popped up on right-wing sites a couple of hours after the news conference and that he owed the White House aide a formal apology after "putting his hands on her" as she was taking the mic out of his hand while asking a question of Dear Leader Trump.

Trump needs a distraction right now to give his new Acting AG Matthew Whitaker time to torpedo the Mueller probe, and crucifying Jim Acosta definitely has the media on the defensive, and his base is baying for blood.  I don't expect any of Acosta's colleagues will do more than whine, either, because they know they will be next.

What they should do is as a whole refuse to cover Trump until Acosta gets his credentials back, but the press only cares about access, so it will never happen.  Acosta will be disappeared and replaced by another CNN reporter, which is what Trump wants. And Actually, Acosta's egregiously unfair punishment is exactly what Trump needs to get his failures off the front page.  Judging from the headlines this morning, it's working.

Until the press walks out on Trump, nothing will change.


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