Monday, February 17, 2020

Last Call For Elephant Wrenches In The Works

Republican dark money is trying to wreck NC Democrats and their chances of beating GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in November by backing a long-shot Dem in order to hurt primary frontrunner Cal Cunningham.

Democrats are growing alarmed about Republican attempts to prop up an insurgent liberal candidate in North Carolina — fearful that GOP meddling will undercut the party’s prospects in a key Senate contest.

What seems like a generic campaign ad pitching Erica Smith, a North Carolina state senator, as “the only proven progressive” in the state’s high-profile Senate race is actually part of a multimillion dollar investment from a mysterious super PAC — the innocuously named "Faith and Power PAC" — with apparent ties to Republicans.
The ad campaign, which began last week ahead of the March 3 primary, immediately disrupted the bid from frontrunner and Democratic leadership favorite Cal Cunningham to emerge from his primary and face incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis in November.

The North Carolina race is critical: Without beating Tillis, Democrats' path back to the Senate majority is nearly impossible. Cunningham, a former state lawmaker and military veteran, lost a Senate primary in 2010, and Democrats are eager to avoid the same result this year. But things are getting messy — and expensive.

Smith, whose low-budget campaign has otherwise posed little threat to Cunningham, has denounced the intervention. But the episode threatens Democrats’ hopes of getting the better-funded, more moderate Cunningham through the primary unscathed.

“It’s so brazen and obvious. … They recognize that Cunningham is a strong candidate, and they’re worried about holding onto that seat,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “When Republicans are weighing in for somebody, they’ve made the judgment that they’re worried about Cal, and they’re not worried about her.”

Privately, Senate Democrats have been discussing the matter internally, with one fretting that Smith is “unelectable” in a general election and will be painted as a Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) acolyte. Few in the party want to criticize Smith publicly since no matter who emerges as Democrats’ nominee, North Carolina is a must-win to take back the Senate.

But the GOP infusion of money is increasing worries about disarray.

“You want your strongest candidate. And if she’s not the strongest candidate, yes, it makes it much tougher,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who supports Cunningham. “There’s just too much money in politics, and they spend it on trying to get the weakest candidate to run against” Tillis.

Sorry folks, NC is nearly as conservative as Kentucky.  I grew up there and lived in the state for 25 years.  I'd love to see Erica Smith beat Tillis and be the first black woman in the US Senate from my home state, just to see everyone's head explode.

But it's not going to happen.  Smith herself is the first to point out this is Republican douchebaggery.  This is still the state where Jesse Helms beat Harvey Gantt with one of the most racist campaign ads in history and not much has changed in 30 years since.

Cunningham is the best shot we have, and we have to beat Tillis to get the Senate away from Mitch McConnell, period.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

Armed white supremacist terrorists showing up at state capitols is a tactic that apparently works well, because Virginia lawmakers are now balking at new firearms legislation.

A Virginia Senate committee killed a bill on Monday that would have banned the sale of assault-style weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines, handing gun rights activists a rare win in a Capitol that Democrats won last year on the promise of sweeping gun control.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) backed the legislation, part of a package of eight gun-control measures he advanced after a shooter killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. Republicans’ refusal to act on those bills last summer, in a special session that they gaveled out in 90 minutes, became a rallying cry for Democrats in November elections. They flipped the state House and Senate blue for the first time in a generation.

The House has passed all eight of Northam's bills. But four Democrats — Sens. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), John S. Edwards (Roanoke), Chap Petersen (Fairfax) and Scott A. Surovell (Fairfax) — sided with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the assault weapons bill for the year. On a 10-to-5 vote, the committee sent the measure to the state's Crime Commission for study.

“Bunch of wimps,” Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said from the dais, referring to the four.

Philip Van Cleave, the Virginia Citizens Defense League president who organized a huge gun rights rally in Richmond last month and encouraged “Second Amendment sanctuary” declarations across the state, celebrated on Twitter.

"VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Van Cleave tweeted. "Everybody's hard work, Lobby Day, and sanctuary movement paid off!"

Northam was "disappointed" with the vote but "fully expects the Crime Commission to give this measure the detailed review that Senators called for. We will be back next year," spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in an email.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) — who had challenged the Senate to pass all eight bills in a speech over the weekend — reacted more sharply.

"The Democratic platform last fall was very clear," she said in a statement. "Limiting access to weapons of war used in mass murder was a key part of that platform. The House of Delegates delivered on our promise to take action to keep those weapons off our streets. To call today's vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee a disappointment would be an understatement."

It's not all bad news though.  Of the other seven gun safety bills that passed Virginia's general assembly, five passed in the state Senate, including universal background checks, a "red flag" law, allowing the government to ban weapons in public buildings and events, limiting handgun purchases to one per month (something that actually was in effect until Republicans overturned it in 2012), and a law to strengthen prohibiting firearms access to a person under a protective order.

In addition to the assault weapon and magazine ban, a measure requiring a gun owner to report a missing firearm to police within 24 hours and a felony measure that would raise the age of "child access prevention" when leaving a gun unattended with a minor being able to access it from 14 to 18 both failed.  Those three bills were easily the most controversial, and they all were blocked by state Senate Democrats who wimped out.

And if the name Creigh Deeds sounds familiar, he's the Democratic candidate for Governor who lost to Bob McDonnell in 2009 in a landslide, who went on to become a precursor to Trump corruption.

The Dems' Big Gamble On Nevada

I'm not sure how bad things are actually going to be on Saturday in Nevada for the Democratic caucuses, but all the information points towards an Iowa-level disaster. Again.

Anxiety is rising over the possibility of another tech-induced meltdown at the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday.

In interviews, three caucus volunteers described serious concerns about rushed preparations for the Feb. 22 election, including insufficient training for a newly-adopted electronic vote-tally system and confusing instructions on how to administer the caucuses. There are also unanswered questions about the security of Internet connections at some 2,000 precinct sites that will transmit results to a central “war room” set up by the Nevada Democratic Party.
Some volunteers who will help run caucuses at precinct locations said they have not been trained on iPads that the party purchased to enter and transmit vote counts. Party officials scrambled to streamline their vote reporting system — settling on Google forms accessible through a saved link on the iPads — after scrapping a pair of apps they’d been planning to use until a similar app caused the fiasco in Iowa two weeks ago.

The volunteers also said the party has not provided sufficient training on how to use the Google form that will compile vote totals, a complicated process in a caucus.

The concerns, which were described on condition of anonymity because the volunteers are not authorized to speak to reporters, come at a perilous moment for the Democratic Party. As the third state on the primary calendar and the first with a significant minority population, Nevada holds huge importance in the nomination contest. The debacle in Iowa cost one state party chairman his job and threatened the standing of the national party chairman, while casting doubts about whether the results from party-run caucuses can be trusted.

Nevada Democratic officials insist they have everything under control. But a repeat of Iowa — or any kind of breakdown — would be disastrous.

One volunteer who has worked on past caucuses in Nevada said the Google form that will be used to input vote totals wasn’t even mentioned during a training session for precinct chairs late last week.

“We weren’t told at all about it,” the person said.

The iPads weren’t discussed until more than halfway through the presentation, the volunteer said, when someone asked how early vote totals would be added to the totals compiled live at each precinct. The person leading the training said not to worry because the iPads would do the math for them.

“There were old ladies looking at me like, ‘Oh, we’re going to have iPads,’” the volunteer told POLITICO.

After sitting through the two-hour training session, the person predicted the caucus would be a “complete disaster.”

Another volunteer, who will be in a senior position at a caucus site, said that as of Feb. 11 the party had failed to provide updated training sessions for caucus day to many people who’d been preparing to use the now-scrapped apps. Recently, the volunteer did take a refresher course for early voting, but it “diverged significantly” from the initial training. “We were practically starting from scratch,” the volunteer said.

The volunteer received no hands-on training with the iPads before handling one physically for the first time at an early-voting site on Saturday. As a result, the first two hours of early voting were “disastrous,” the person said, as volunteers struggled to get iPads to function properly and connect to the Internet.

Moreover, “There are [Democratic voters] that don't even know that early voting is happening,” the volunteer said, blaming the party for failing to spread the word adequately. Early voting in Nevada started on Saturday and will continue through the end of the day Tuesday.

The combination of states being starved of election funds by the Trump regime and in turn the states choosing to go cheap with technology replacing rigorous paper ballot matching, plus technophobia from older voters and volunteers doesn't bode well.

Caucuses are bad anyway.  Nevada needs to be forced to ditch theirs too, and if it does go belly-up as I think it will, it'll be the best evidence yet that caucuses need to be abandoned.

We'll see.


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