The notorious RBG replacement process

I’m going to step away from the Delaware election for an evening and let you know what I think about all this.

We knew it had to happen someday – after all, during the spring there were the rumors floating around that she had already died – but last Friday Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set off to meet her Maker at the age of 87. There’s no question she lived a long life full of accomplishment, but the one thing she apparently failed at was her gamble that she would outlive the term of a Republican president. Thus, the sky fell in on the Left just in time for a glorious late-summer weekend.

I’m not even sure the body had assumed room temperature before the “Biden Rule” caterwauling began. “You can’t select a nominee before the election!” they sputtered. “It would violate Justice Ginsburg’s final wish!” Obviously this hearsay superseded her previous on-the-record statement that a president’s term is four years, not three years and nine months.

Even if not, however, the Constitution dictates that the President in office select a nominee, a person who is appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. And this is where the comparisons to the 2016 replacement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia fall apart. For the Senate did give advice that year to President Obama – you can send anyone you want who shares your judicial temperament, but we will not consent. To turn a phrase, “we won.” Merrick Garland may have been a moderately left-wing judge compared to others nominated by Obama, but the Senate was not looking for moderate and they held the cards.

So now we have all sorts of vows from the Left should Trump nominate a conservative on his way out the door – they’ll be stacking the Supreme Court, adding the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as states, ending the filibuster and the Electoral College – and that’s just for starters. (And this doesn’t count the implied threat of more civil unrest Democrats have made.)

It’s that threat I want to address. Let’s say Kamala Harris wins the election. (And yes, I know Joe Biden is on the ballot but the over/under for his time in office with me is six months.) Knowing that President Trump and Mitch McConnell worked exceptionally hard over the last four years trying to overcome eight years of highly political Obama judicial appointees – with enough success that they got to select 1/3 of the Supreme Court and enough appellate judges to tip the balance in some districts to the conservative side – is it outside the realm of possibility that the organizers of the rioting may become leaders of assassination teams bent on picking off Trump appointees to open judicial seats that they believe our impeached but not convicted 45th President “stole?”

I don’t come to this conclusion lightly. In his column today, The Patriot Post‘s Mark Alexander quoted AOC, who said, “We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized. And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire.” To me, those “unprecedented ways” sound like a serious violent intent.

I am certain these judges already have extra protection, but an attack over the summer on the family of a federal judge pointed out the risks. And while the story writer bent over backwards to blame President Trump and “right-wing news” for these threats, it’s not right-wingers who are rioting, disrupting restaurant goers at dinner, or murdering Trump supporters. It’s not a long step to go from “defund the police” to “overturn the judicial system.”

And even if all elements of the RBG story remained the same except for the date being January 21, 2021 I believe the Left would have reacted the same way, screaming that RBG’s legacy was such that no conservative judge could follow her despite the fact Trump was re-elected with a GOP Senate majority still in place. The TDS is strong with these people and like spoiled children they don’t react well when they are told “no.” Add to that the lack of respect for life and you have the ingredients for what I’m describing.

You know, I really hate to think the worst of people but in my 56 years on this planet those suspicions have come to pass more than I would have liked. So I fervently pray I’m wrong but figure it’s an eventuality for which we may need to prepare.

Bringing it into focus

Tonight I finally finished my political widget for 2020 with the races I intend to highlight. Nationally I have the Presidential race, of course, with those who will be on the ballot in Delaware. [I have spotted the Green Party this one; however, I may have to change Howie Hawkins to a write-in if they indeed don’t make the ballot – they were right on the bubble last I saw.)

The biggest amount of work I had was the Senate race, although the Governor’s race was a surprisingly close second. In both instances, not everyone has a website as some simply get by with a social media page – and are lucky to get 1% of the vote.

Indeed, we will have the largest GOP primary field for governor in the state’s relatively brief history of primaries – the most I found in my limited research was three, and this time we have a half-dozen thanks to Scott Walker’s late entry. He is one of two of those perennial candidates, the type I’m familiar with from Maryland thanks to their comparatively lax threshold for getting on a party ballot. It’s not quite “alive and breathing” but it’s not that far off, either. Walker and David Graham are serial candidates, although neither has always run as a Republican.

With businessman Neil Shea formally withdrawing on Thursday, the two outsiders are attorney Julianne Murray and business owner David Bosco, who was actually the first one of the remaining six to formally file after Shea got the ball rolling in late May. Add in the two sitting State Senators able to run from cover this time around (Colin Bonini and Bryant Richardson) and it’s a race where any of them would kill for 40% because that is likely sufficient. (In six-way Democrat primaries four years ago, Lisa Blunt Rochester won with 43% to 25% for her nearest competitor and Bethany Hall-Long prevailed with 29% to 22% for second place. So first to 40 almost definitely wins and 35 may be enough.) Right now Bonini would probably be the favorite simply based on name ID but he’s also lost statewide twice so one of the new faces may be a surprise winner.

By the same token, the Democrat primary is also worth watching because John Carney has a primary challenger from his left (just like U.S. Senator Chris Coons does.) There’s little doubt Carney will win, but a showing of 25-30% from the challenger would mean Carney’s support would be soft among progressives or could be construed as a protest vote against his draconian rule during the pandemic. I think the latter would be more true if the Democrat turnout was much lighter than the GOP’s or Carney’s race was significantly undervoted compared to the other statewide races. (This also applies to the Coons race.)

The U.S. Senate and House races are rather “meh” compared to the battle for governor. There are only two contenders on the Republican side for both House and Senate, and they both pit multi-time losers against fresh faces which have their own baggage. It’s actually possible that both members of Delaware’s Congressional delegation would have jail time on their resumes, although both claim to have been humbled by the experience. Both these races are older men against younger candidates roughly half their age – one a photogenic woman and the other a Log Cabin Republican.

Aside from that, the statewide ballot will be rather light in September. Primary voters will see a race for Insurance Commissioner on the Democrat side, but that’s it. On a local level, there is only one race for a Delaware General Assembly seat from Sussex County and that’s not decided until November. Out of ten possible contests, only one will be elected by other than acclamation.

Now that my field is pretty much locked in, my weekend project is to put the final bow on this session’s monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition and begin working on a dossier series similar to those I’ve done in previous years. For those new to the website, the idea for the dossiers is to take topics of my choosing that I deem most important and take a deep dive into the candidate’s stance on them. (This includes asking them directly.) Each topic is assigned a point value and each candidate is given points based on how closely they fit my ideal, with the winner getting my endorsement. (They don’t get my primary vote because I’m still in the Constitution Party.)

To begin the series, I’m going to lay out one ground rule: the first round through the topics will focus solely on the GOP candidates. I don’t have to worry about the IPOD or Libertarians until after the primary and the Democrats won’t score well with me anyway, so there’s no need for me to score Carney vs. Williams or Coons vs. Scarane. Doesn’t matter which of them win because they’re Lenin to me.

Here are the proposed topics for the 2020 races. If you were here in 2016, these will sound familiar for the federal races:

Federal races: Education, Second Amendment, Energy, Social Issues, Trade and Job Creation, Taxation, Immigration, Foreign Policy, Entitlements, Role of Government, and Intangibles. (Intangibles is sort of a catch-all of other stuff.)

Governor: Agriculture/Environment, Transportation, Social Issues, Law Enforcement/Judicial, Education, Second Amendment, Job Creation, Taxation, Role of Government, Intangibles. Notice the order shifts around somewhat at the state level.

Once I get the mAP up next week, I’ll begin posting my dossier series. It’s going to be a busy couple months here at monoblogue.

Troubling news

As many of you know, when I moved to Delaware and registered to vote I decided to register with the party I felt was closest to my beliefs. Given the choices, I opted to register with the Constitution Party (CP) – so the upcoming primary that’s mainly for the duopoly wouldn’t be all that interesting to me. You may remember I selected the CP’s Darrell Castle as my Presidential choice in 2016, eschewing the Republican for the first time since 1992.

I was a little bit put off when I learned that the CP nominated Don Blankenship to be their Presidential standard-bearer this time around. You may not know the name, but he’s a former coal company executive who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018 then, after losing in the primary, tried (but failed) to get on the general election ballot as a member of the Constitution Party. So it appears more like a vanity campaign than a real run for office.

But I wasn’t alone. In a scathing critique of the national CP, its Indiana state branch voted to disassociate with the national group, and I think they have some valid criticism. This will be a call-and-response post, beginning with what they had to say about the party’s history:

Lot of news to report. In May, the national committee of the national Constitution Party voted to elect new officers for the next four years. As the party has been on a downward trajectory for several years, this election was a watershed moment in the history of the party. The election for chairman was an opportunity for the party to vote for someone who wished to enact the necessary changes to its marketing and communications. Shockingly, the national committee voted decisively to maintain the current trajectory. After 28 years, many people thought that the party was ready to change course based on past results. Sadly those people were mistaken.

Indiana Constitution Party letter, June 17, 2020

Let’s talk about that “current trajectory.” The two current primary “third” parties in this nation are the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Respectively they came into being in 1971 and 1991, although the Green Party began laying their groundwork seven years earlier. In either case, projecting their party’s fortunes ahead 28 years or so found that the Libertarians had ballot access in all but one state for the 2000 election and gathered 384,431 votes (or 0.36%); meanwhile that 2000 election was a high-water mark for the Greens, who nominated Ralph Nader for president and picked up 2.74% of the vote, mainly based on Nader’s name recognition. In the 2016 election, which was closest to the 28 year mark for the Greens, they picked up 1,457,218 votes and were on the ballot in 45 states.

So compare that to the CP’s high water mark set in 2016 with just over 200,000 votes and ballot placement in less than half the states and it’s obvious trajectory is an issue. In looking up the 2016 election I also noticed the CP spent a whopping $50,000 on that race. You can’t even win a contested Delegate seat with that.

Current leadership was responsible for vetting the presidential candidates, but they failed to properly vet the candidates. Seeing how the national party’s main goal is to run a standard bearer for the party as a Presidential candidate, the national executive committee failed in its main task. In addition, we see that one of the main reasons why the party has failed for 28 years is because it does not have the right vision for success. It concerns itself with running a viable presidential candidate and getting ballot access instead of building a sustainable party.

Indiana Constitution Party letter, June 17, 2020

This is one of those chicken-and-egg questions. Ballot access is important because it’s exceptionally rare for a write-in to win a major race. (The most recent example I can think of is Lisa Murkowski in Alaska in 2010; however, she had the advantages of name recognition and incumbency, something a CP nominee would almost certainly not have.)

It’s perhaps best to try and build up the party in states where ballot access is easiest and begin with populating the ballot with local and state candidates. To use Delaware as an example, here in Sussex County – which is plurality Republican, the only county in Delaware where the GOP has an advantage – the CP has just 43 registered voters out of its 282 statewide. Honestly, this county should be a hotbed for the CP but apparently no one has really tried to solicit people from the other conservative parties and independents. Getting ballot access is a start, although finding motivated and articulate spokespeople for the CP is also a challenge. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

In this election cycle, the Constitution Party has nominated a presidential candidate for whom there are serious questions about his fidelity to the party platform and his personal conduct. Many of us came to the Constitution Party to get away from the two major parties who refuse to hold their candidates accountable to ethical standards as well as adhering to the principles of the party. We are now disappointed to see the Constitution Party at the national level do the same thing.

Indiana Constitution Party letter, June 17, 2020

As I said, I think Don Blankenship is running a vanity campaign, even after spending time in a federal prison on a misdemeanor charge (admittedly, that is highly unusual) about which he dubs himself a “political prisoner.” We’re not talking about wearing a boot on his head like Vermin Supreme (not to mention why would you want that to be your name?) but I have to wonder whether this opportunist was really the best the CP could get? Maybe the Indiana folks have a point here.

Furthermore, it was brought to our attention that for the second time in three years the national executive committee was planning on interfering with the affairs of a state affiliate. This interfering is strictly forbidden by the party constitution and the party bylaws. Seeing how the three pillars of the national party are “Integrity, Liberty, and Prosperity”, we cannot ignore that the national executive committee is not holding one another accountable. If the national party officers cannot hold themselves accountable, and if they cannot uphold their own party constitution, how can they hold legislators accountable and how can they uphold the U.S Constitution?

Indiana Constitution Party letter, June 17, 2020

Good question.

As a result of these events and others, the officers of the Constitution Party of Indiana have decided that they have no confidence in the present and incoming leadership at the national level and therefore have voted to disaffiliate and disassociate from the national party. With the current chaos occurring in our nation, it appears that we are in our darkest days in quite a long time. However, there are too many patriots among us who will not sit quietly as our nation reels back and forth. It is dark now, but a new day will soon be dawning. Updates will be posted as warranted.

Indiana Constitution Party letter, June 17, 2020

I appreciate the hopeful tone, but this also begs some serious questioning of my own.

In studying the TEA Party as much as I have, I learned early on there was a debate among its many leaders, who were in reality scattered among very localized groups. While there were some who tried to nationalize the TEA Party (often in order to bolster or create their own political fortunes) oftentimes these local people wanted to stay neutral and avoid entangling alliances with political parties.

After the high-profile Doug Hoffman race in the fall of 2009, where a Democrat won a long-standing GOP seat because Republicans selected a moderate who withdrew last-minute and endorsed the Democrat over the conservative TEA Party favorite Hoffman, and as a result of the beginnings of a consolidation of power by nascent national groups and long-established backers who had political experience, the TEA Party began to adopt the philosophy of eschewing a third party for their needs and instead tried to take over the Republican Party from within. (I was one who was already there.) Given that the Constitution Party has much in common with the goals of the TEA Party, would the TEA Party have been better off trying to build up a third party using the CP’s resources? (A similar argument could be made about the Libertarian Party, but they don’t appeal nearly as much to the social conservatives in the TEA Party.)

Maybe the better question is, particularly with the populist direction Donald Trump has taken the GOP, are we seeing the dawn of a new split in the GOP? Perhaps the new party is going to be founded in the center between moderate #NeverTrump Republicans who are willing to cross the aisle and centrist Democrats who aren’t down with the AOC/Bernie Sanders/Antifa wing of the Democrat Party. I know they have tried and failed multiple times to create a moderate, centrist third party, and it’s because the electoral rules are stacked against them in most cases.

If the Constitution Party (or some like-minded equivalent) is going to succeed, they need a national organization which is willing to build from the bottom by gaining ballot access where it’s easiest to obtain and working with the grassroots elsewhere to amend restrictive laws that protect the duopoly. Maybe there’s no CP presidential candidate for 2024 or they de-emphasize his or her success. For the near term the goal is simply to build name recognition for the CP by being principled, not to make a name for yourself.

Maybe it’s time for other CP state groups to follow Indiana’s lead. As it stands now I don’t have a lot of confidence in what the CP wants to do.

Odds and ends number 96

It’s been nearly a year since I did one of these, but let me assure you that I’m not digging up a lot of chestnuts from my e-mail bag. There are just a few things which have piqued my interest lately and deserve a mention, whether it be a few sentences to a handful of paragraphs. It’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget how to do it after enough times.

Miss #FliptheFirst almost flips the race

I thought for a bit that, after the winding down of Red Maryland, I might have to step into the breach temporarily with popcorn in hand to witness the glory of having the candidate who won the First District Congressional primary despite withdrawing try to convince the twelve Democrat Central Committees involved to pick the only other candidate who lives in the district – but who finished a distant third – over the second-place finisher.

Alas, the late-arriving mail-in votes vaulted Mia Mason to a narrow victory over Allison Galbraith in the First District Democrat primary. Early on, it appeared the Allison may have won the race despite announcing her withdrawal six weeks ago for personal reasons. Had she not dropped out, it’s clear Allison may have won her primary on a scale comparing with Andy Harris’s 82-18 win in the GOP primary against challenger Jorge Delgado.

(By the way, have you ever noticed that Republicans who say how tired they are of Andy Harris don’t turn out in droves to the primary? Andy has never received less than 75% of the GOP vote since taking office in 2010, although he’s had at least one challenger in each primary election since 2014. I guess you can call it a silent majority.)

Mia is going to have a very reluctant supporter in Allison. On her campaign social media page Galbraith charged that, “Mia, she’s just playing pick a district and hasn’t been filing any of her FEC reports properly. She also called the state party and told blatant lies about me saying I had somehow ‘intimidated’ or ‘pressured’ her by offering her a job because she happens to be good at field. Her ethics, less commendable.”

If it were a more fairly-drawn district I would keep out the popcorn, but to know that Mason could have ran in her own district and has few ties to the Eastern Shore means the local Democrats will have a harder time backing her.

Good reads on energy

I’m going back to the B.C. era (before coronavirus) on this, but over the last few months the folks who write the Energy Tomorrow blog have also linked to some other good pieces which found their way to media.

For example, the good news about natural gas gets very little play as we try and force-feed solar and wind power on the energy market. “It would be hard to find anything NOT to like about this great American success story,” writes Stephen Moore, “(Now we have) energy independence, reliable and inexhaustible supply, low prices, reduced power of the Middle East, Russia, and other OPEC nations, and cleaner air than at any time in at least a century.” But the environmentalists whine because natural gas is “a hurdle” in their zero-carbon goal, which is unattainable until that day we figure out how to make the wind blow constantly at just the right speed and sun shine 24 hours a day – in other words, the twelfth of never.

Yet they talk about a fracking ban on the Left, and despite the fact Joe Biden hasn’t publicly stated he’s for a ban that will change if he wins the election. He’s already promised a de facto ban by pledging he would be, “Requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.” By making compliance expensive and cumbersome it would create the same effect as a ban: imagine you liked ice cream enough to produce it, but the government told you that you had to make sure the cow farts didn’t reach the atmosphere with expensive equipment attached to their behinds to collect their “residue.” That cost has to come from somewhere and reducing profit makes for a lot less incentive to stay in business. (And it’s not like the energy industry doesn’t want to improve its record since methane sent into the atmosphere is methane we can’t use for profitable purposes.) So, yeah, it would cripple our economy and this study documents how much. (Bear in mind it, too, was conducted B.C.)

A voice of reason on Biden

Last summer I did a radio interview with Kansas-based host Andy Hooser, who bills himself as the “Voice of Reason.” Since he has an Ohio connection and is a pretty good self-promoter, I’ve kept following his efforts as he went from terrestrial show to podcast to a bid for a syndicated national show.

But the reason I bring him up now is his long summary of the Joe Biden campaign as it begins in this brave “new normal” world. It’s a rather in-depth opinion from a different kind of pundit and he made a number of good points.

Denied access

In the past I have often voted for Libertarian Party candidates when their views meshed with mine moreso than the ones of the RINO on the ballot. Yet thanks to the reigning D vs. R duopoly, oftentimes the Libertarians and other minor parties – including the Constitution Party, which I’ll get to in a minute – have to waste valuable resources maintaining a ballot position whereas the majors don’t.

Back in March, the two leading minor parties in Maryland realized they would have an issue with petitioning their way onto the ballot thanks to the Wuhan flu; despite being allowed to collect electronic signatures they sued the state last month.

Maryland’s petition law is daunting, and it shouldn’t really be necessary: as of the last report which listed the Greens and Libertarians (january 2019), the LP had over 22,000 registered voters with their party and the Greens 9,262. One would think those should be automatic signatures with their registration, meaning that only the Greens would have to collect 738 signatures from non-party members to qualify. Delaware has a much simpler and fairer system of ballot access based on voter registration numbers, requiring just 1/10 of 1 percent of voters to be listed. (At present there are six ballot-eligible parties in Delaware, the largest besides the two major parties being the Independent Party of Delaware, or IPOD.) Here the Libertarians are in like flint; however, the Green Party is actually about 20 short at the moment. (Besides Rs, Ds, Ls, and IPOD, the other two eligible are the American Delta Party and Nonpartisan.)

Blankenship is their man

Since I voted for and registered with the Constitution Party, I should let you know they selected Don Blankenship as their Presidential nominee. Unfortunately, the problem with smaller parties is that they often pick out self-serving people as their nominee and I get that impression with him. Rather than the issue-based platforms of most political candidates, I see a lot of filler on Blankenship’s website. I don’t know if he really believes the Constitution Party platform or just sees the party as a way to serve his vanity run. But then I wasn’t a delegate to their convention last month and that’s where he was selected.

So, since I’m looking for the best person regardless of party, later this summer I will have to resurrect my issue-based search for the best candidate. I’m not sure this Don is my guy, either. This is especially true when compared to the common sense the CP’s last nominee espoused in response to the coronavirus.

Advice worth taking

Speaking of Presidential candidates and advice, my last Republican choice has written a smart op-ed about the pitfalls of businesses becoming too “woke” and alienating millions of consumers. It’s a shame this Bobby Jindal piece ran before the whole George Floyd episode because we’re seeing that on steroids right now.

Now I know conservative groups have wanted to boycott this or that for the last generation, but that really doesn’t work as a focused campaign. It’s the business side that Jindal appeals to, concluding, “businesses threaten to undermine the very conservative coalition that stands between them and ruinous policies on the Left.” I really don’t want those “ruinous policies,” thank you.

Programming notes

It’s taken a long time and quite a few turns, but I’m going to make an effort to finally finish my Indivisible series as my next or second-to-next post. I need to put it to bed.

In the meantime, I’m adding a personal page to this website. I’ve often referred to my faith in these posts and on social media, but never really detailed how I got there. This new page will serve as my testimony and if it brings even just one reader to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it’s worth placing.

Delaware, the Charlie Brown of states

John Carney is stunning in that blue dress, is he not?

Originally, the current state of emergency the First State is laboring under was supposed to expire on April 15, but days before that deadline was to occur Delaware Governor John Carney extended its provisions to May 15.

Yet despite the fact our state is “flattening the curve” and exhibits a trend of declining cases, this state of emergency and its onerous job-killing restrictions have yet again been extended through May 31. Lucy is yet again pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, meaning businesses that depend on a Memorial Day weekend surge to kick off their profitable summer season are now being starved yet again of their revenue source; meanwhile neighboring Maryland is cautiously reopening its beach areas. (This despite unseasonably cool weather in the region this weekend; something for which the extended forecast promises a makeup next weekend with highs here on the interior of slower lower Delaware passing the 80 degree mark.)

One extreme example of short-sightedness comes from the idea that farmer’s markets are “non-essential” in Delaware, so they can’t open until the state of emergency is lifted. Unfortunately, farmers need an outlet for some of their crops – perennials like asparagus and strawberries are early-season staples but they will rot in the field without outlets to sell them. Since the restaurant business is way down, farmers now face the question of whether to plant at all. If they don’t, then expect shortages and higher prices later this fall.

And while it’s more of a formality since the presumptive nominees have already been decided, the second postponement of the Delaware presidential primary until July 7 was completely unnecessary. Because the results are a fait accompli, voting could have been done safely with the addition of social distancing and personal protection on their initially rescheduled June 2 date. Instead, this push toward mail-in balloting seems to be the excuse to try to adopt it for November when much more is at stake: while Delaware is most likely a shoo-in for Joe Biden thanks to his longtime connection to the state, the governor’s chair, office of lieutenant governor, and control of the state legislature still hang in the balance. (The delay also affects a slew of local elections, including school boards which were pushed back to July 21.)

The next month or two is going to tell a tale in this country. We have states where personal responsibility is paramount, such as the otherwise generally ignored state of South Dakota where restrictions were very light, and we have states like Michigan and New York where governors seem to be drunk with power and, in the case of Michigan, ignore their legislative branch. Sadly, here in Delaware we have a governor run amok but no real opposition party to call him out on it. In fact, at this point in time there is no announced Republican candidate to oppose John Carney this November. (At the moment, the only contender is Libertarian John Machurek.)

That might be fine with the sheeple and Karens who continually complain about the out-of-state license plates on cars heading to the beach and want to keep the state closed, but there are those of us who echo Samuel Adams: “It does not take a majority to prevail . . . but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” We are definitely irate given the current state of affairs, but my question is just how tired the TEA Party movement has become. Maybe it needs a second wind.

So I’m going to close with a throwback Sunday. For the course of a few years I did a series of posts called Friday Night Videos. It began as a way of sharing political videos but eventually evolved into an outlet for local music, including some of the video I took for doing photos and posts for another longstanding series of mine called Weekend of Local Rock. (I still have a Youtube channel.)

But aside from the items I uploaded, one of my all-time favorite Friday Night videos on the music side came from a talented and patriotic New York-based singer named Ava Aston. If you have read this blog for awhile, you’ve seen this video before but I thought over the last week or so it was time to bring it back.

It was time to bring this song back…for the people.

(This is the original 2009 version – a few years later Ava did a remix but I like the original a little better.)

I realize we are in a pandemic, but shutting down should have been the last resort, not the first option. Let’s get things back to normal prudently, but quickly. And don’t believe Lucy when she puts down that football.

Lowered expectations

Subtitled, kicking the can down the road.

I’ve been blogging now for a decade and a half, with most of that time being spent creating and curating content for this website. In that time I have found my way onto many mailing lists and searches, but few have been as bizarre as something I received the other day.

I had to look up who Sara Croom was, but her story seems legit: She is the Managing Director of a PR firm called Ainsley Shea, which is somewhat unusual because they are headquartered in Minnesota yet keep a branch in the D.C. area where Sara works.

It was a nice enough ask:

As you continue your political coverage, please find the attached memo outlining national popular vote – as well as offering a few of National Popular Vote (NPV) key spokespeople, who are available for interviews. 

If you have any questions, or need anything further, do let me know and I would be happy to help. 

Be well and stay safe. 

E-mail from Sara Croom, April 30, 2020

Even though I am a definite skeptic, I looked up the memo, entitled “National Popular Vote: Media Guidelines” to see if they had any different talking points. There were none, but the one thing I noticed was the end goal: having NPV in effect in time for the 2024 election. (Another thing: a key spokesperson for NPV is former Maryland LG and failed Senate candidate Michael Steele. That tells me a lot.)

This is in contrast to the Democrat Party’s seemingly overt goal for 2020, which is to conduct strictly mail-in balloting so they can more easily manipulate the results in states they control. (Bear in mind that there are four key states which Trump won in 2016 which now have a Democrat governor: Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)

The method of enacting NPV has been the same since Maryland was the first state to join the proposed compact in 2007: once states representing 270 or more electoral votes sign on, those states will give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of the results within their state. Given the fact that every state currently in NPV is a reliably Democrat state I’m going to assume this will work only until the time some “racist” Republican carries the overall popular vote, in which case these states will certainly renege on the deal.

Their key argument, however, continues to be that elections are decided in just a few swing states and they get all the attention despite being a small subset of the overall electorate. (Remember, prior to 2016, states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin weren’t considered swing states because they had been solidly Democrat for several cycles in a row.) The election focused on states like Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio – states outside the bicoastal focus of news networks and full of icky “deplorable” voters. If you lived in one of those coastal blue states or the deep red states in the Bible Belt, the campaigns basically ignored you.

Where that argument falls apart is that, under NPV, rural and sparsely-populated states will be ignored even more by campaigns as they would cater to the desires of densely populated urban areas – of course, to pander to those areas the campaigns would have to steer themselves to the left of center. Had 2016 been an NPV election, Hillary would have won in a larger popular vote landslide because Trump’s secret weapon of Rust Belt lunch-pail voters would have been less likely to come out, skipping yet another election thanks to their discouragement at a rigged system. As it turned out, just enough of them turned out to tip the scales in the aforementioned key states heretofore presumed Democrat blue to swing an election decided by less than 80,000 votes in three large states. All because Hillary took them for granted.

Since the founding of our country, the electoral system has functioned as anywhere from 13 to 51 separate state elections leading to one balloting that as of 2020 will feature just 538 voters selected by individual states. Has the will of the people always held sway? No, but it’s not like a tiny majority dictated the tune for the rest of the nation – or is it? Not only did neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump garner a majority of votes cast, but based on voter registration and turnout, the real winner in 2016 was none of the above since only about 55% of eligible voters showed up.

NPV is one of several voting initiatives championed by the Democrat Party, all of which are calculated to bolster “turnout.” Unfortunately, vote-by-mail, automatic registration, compulsory voting, and ballot harvesting create vastly increased potential for mischief that just somehow almost always seems to accrue in the favor of Democrats. (Just ask Norm Coleman, right?)

If we really want to do electoral reform, how about culling the voter rolls to keep those who are serious about voting on them and eliminating duplicates and dead voters, and requiring a photo ID for voting in person on Election Day? I take the time to learn the candidates and issues and show up, so why can’t everyone else?

Patriots Day version 2.0?

This has become the season of discontent.

Weary of restrictions spawned by a virus we imported from a nation which has generally meant us harm – one which has continually underperformed extreme expectations insofar as hospitalizations and deaths are concerned – Americans are beginning to bristle at their restrictions as a federally-imposed April 30 restoration date approaches.

While it’s the proper method Constitutionally, states which have clamped down on their populace based on the Wuhan flu’s effect on certain urban areas now exist cheek-by-jowl with states using a more laissez-faire approach. Yet as the pressure mounts to restore liberty, governors in several states have adopted a more regional approach: the three West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington are planning a more concerted (and more restrictive) reopening, as are governors in seven northeastern states including mine in Delaware – the other states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Of that group, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was the last to join and is the first Republican.

Chances are these ten states will exhibit a slothful, “go-slow” approach designed (at least to the public) to enhance safety. In political terms, some cynics would counter that the slow movement is designed to tank the economy further, extending any possible recovery beyond the November elections. (It’s interesting to note that, of the ten governors involved, only two are on the ballot this year – Jay Inslee in Washington state and John Carney here in Delaware. But both are considered safe Democrat seats nonetheless. I’m not even aware if the GOP has a contender here in Delaware.) On the other side, a handful of non-allied states have never provided more than just limited restrictions and Texas is leading an effort to quickly start things back up from a restrictive state.

At noon today in Annapolis, Marylanders were scheduled to hold a protest imploring Governor Larry Hogan (aka “Lockdown Larry”) to move quickly in bringing Maryland back. The morning’s rain should have cleared out in time, so we will see what develops out of this protest – I expect maybe a couple hundred people will show up. (There are two separate protests planned thus far in Delaware – one on Wednesday and one on May 1.)

But what concerns me are the people I see on social media who have traded their liberty for a security the government can’t assure regardless of whether we have masks on, close all the so-called non-essential businesses, or practice social distancing. (If I never hear that phrase again after this is over, it will be too soon.) When the governor puts cops on the side of the road to pull over cars with out-of-state license plates, they’re the ones who say “go for it, we want more!” I wouldn’t be surprised if those who advocate for this are secure in their jobs – after all, those who aren’t working have the most time to protest.

The other day my friend Bob Densic asked me if this could be the resurrection of the TEA Party movement. After I pondered it a moment, this is what I said:

“You know, that thought DID cross my mind. There are two big differences though. First off, you’re going to have a more “purist” group, although we will see just how well they know the Constitution when it comes to federalism and rule of law. One key thing to watch is the reaction to these compacts between (mostly Democrat) governors, one of which involves us here in Delaware.

The other aspect that I would like to see is the absence of hypocrisy. You would have TP people complain about the stimulus but then turn around and warn, ‘don’t touch my Social Security (and/or Medicare),’ not realizing it was a large component of the problem! This one isn’t so much financial – an argument can be made that the stimulus is, in part, repayment per the Takings Clause since the government shut down – but is more rights-based, sort of like the civil rights movement.”

If it takes a virus to remind us of our rights, so be it. (I’m also heartened by the uptick in Bible reading since this all began.) But it’s time to turn talk into action as we commemorate the first Patriots Day on Sunday.

The clash of the titans

I saw an interesting e-mail and release cross my desk the other day, reminding me of my halcyon days in the Maryland Republican Party. But before I get to that, allow me to explain my extended absence.

Back about two weeks ago, the company which handles my website as part of a shared server had a major problem with said server, which knocked me offline by itself for a couple days. Once the server was restored, however, there was an issue with the database – which is why you may have seen a lot of oddball text where my header photo would go and all of my links and posts were no longer categorized – the links were in an alphabetical jumble. It was really bad on the back end where I do my handiwork.

So finally I got tech support to fix that issue, only to find out I had yet another database error which occurred after I added a plugin which allowed me to back up this website to a remote place. That was what you may have seen yesterday evening when I noticed I couldn’t access my site. I finally repaired the database on my own – I found the instructions on a WordPress help side and lo and behold, it actually worked! So I also took the moment to upgrade to the latest version (now we are up to WordPress 5.4) and update the other plugins and themes. Hopefully I can keep this thing afloat for awhile longer.

Now that I have begged your indulgence and you (hopefully) stuck with me, allow me to speak my little piece.

I know I’m trying to focus on Delaware, but I have a lot of Maryland friends and a few days ago I received word that Nicolee Ambrose, who has been Maryland’s RNC National Committeewoman for the past eight years (elected in a convention that may have been one of my all-time favorites for the drama and successes, but one which – alas! – the post’s photos haven’t yet been restored which destroys my narrative) is trying for term number three. That’s not a surprise, as she seems to enjoy the job.

In fact, the surprise came from a blog for which I’m an “erstwhile” contributor, Red Maryland. This deeply slanted piece came from Brian Griffiths, who has no love lost for Ambrose, and announced that former party Chair Diana Waterman has decided to seek the position. It’s rather funny to me because politics makes strange bedfellows – Griffiths’ dislike of Ambrose led him to support “party over everything” matron Audrey Scott during that fateful 2012 convention. He may have one more vote than I do on the matter, though.

Truth be told, I think Nicolee has done a reasonably good job, but the argument that eight years is long enough in office is a compelling one, too. Unfortunately, I think the idea is that of getting new blood into the office, not using the position to be a cushy golden parachute because life gets boring when you’re not the leader. (I think that was Audrey Scott’s intent.) I’m not going to lose any sleep over it should Diana prevail, but I don’t see it as a vast improvement.

At the time she was elected, Nicolee was exciting and new while Audrey Scott represented the old guard that seemed to be happy with the Republicans being a perpetual (and not very principled) minority party in Maryland, save for the more rural parts of the state. (In that respect it reminds me of the current Delaware GOP.) I’m not going to paint Diana Waterman with that same brush I used for Audrey Scott, but what I will say is that she’s not exactly going to take things in a new direction, either. Diana reminds me a lot of Larry Hogan, and not just in the fact both of them took on cancer and won.

Speaking of the governor: as I see it, the Ambrose-Waterman race is interesting enough for me to write about as a horserace, but what I want to know is what they would do about the real problem with the Maryland GOP: its titular head, Governor Larry Hogan.

What we saw in the 2018 elections was embarrassing: Larry Hogan lost what mojo he had as the opposition leader to Martin O’Malley with Change Maryland because he decided not to change the state that much from how it was the several terms before him. First he sold out the Eastern Shore farmers, then he sold out the people of Western Maryland, and finally he sold out two good conservative Republicans with the singular focus of a “drive for five” that fizzled badly. Given Larry’s distaste for Trump, I’m sure that Maryland has already been written off by the national GOP for 2020 so the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives isn’t going to be addressed in this state.

To be quite honest, if John Delaney had opted out of his quixotic bid for President and opted in to the 2018 governor’s race, we would be talking about Governor Delaney’s prospects for re-election two years hence. Despite Hogan’s poll-based popularity, I’m sure 30 percent of Democrats would not have crossed party lines to vote for Hogan because they were repelled by the far-left Ben Jealous if the more moderate Delaney were the 2018 standardbearer. (The Democrats may learn their lesson as the 2022 frontrunner seems to be Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is a progressive wolf in moderates’ clothing. He talks a good centrist game.)

Maryland as a state, though, faces a unique problem. Notwithstanding the recent Wuhan virus and government-caused economic meltdown, a Donald Trump who is more successful in draining the swamp leads to economic pain to certain regions of the state – regions which contain about 40 percent of the state’s voters. It’s become a statewide company town, and that company is the federal government. I’d love it, sitting here in Delaware as I do, if the federal government cut its budget in half, but those who toil for Uncle Sam would be staring at a financial pit not unlike the one workers at suddenly-shuttered businesses face at this very moment. It’s a case where the 60 percent in Maryland need to feel a little less empathy for their brethren at the ballot box but a little more at the collection box to help those who would be in need.

So it really doesn’t matter which Titanic deck chairs go where, because in my humble opinion the problem is more than either Ambrose or Waterman can address by themselves. They’re just there to pick up the pieces when the Maryland GOP game is up in 2022.

The state of the TEA Party: spring 2020

Subtitled, the Wuhan coronavirus edition.

I originally intended for this piece to have a completely different look and feel than it will have, not to mention it was moved up in time about two to three weeks from its original intention of coinciding with the anniversary of my book release last year. (Yes, it’s been 12 months since I wrapped up that labor of love.) But the question of just how the TEA Party is reacting to a government stimulus that is over twice again the one it was initially formed in response to was on my heart, so this post is brooming the original concept of answers to a rhetorical question that, frankly, was never asked anyway. Life gets in the way.

This is going to sound completely hypocritical to many, but I sort of expected the one response I found in a local Florida newspaper – the Sunshine State being one of the remaining hotbeds for the movement. One I didn’t expect but am not surprised by is the reaction to a New Mexico businessman apparently best known as a TEA Party leader suing his state government, claiming the disease “is not serious enough for emergency orders, enforcement of restrictions on socializing is impossible, and the orders deny him the right to free assembly and worship.” Aside from the lack of certainty that a mix of commonly available drugs presents a cure (the research on that is promising but ongoing) the complaint is very truthful. Yet it’s going to go nowhere.

(It’s sort of like the Rick Santelli approach that was blown way out of proportion by the Left and media – but I repeat myself.)

On the other hand, while I have been critical at times of the personally opportunistic leadership of Jenny Beth Martin and the Tea Party Patriots, I have to commend both her and the organization for the tone they have struck in their response to this ordeal. Citing Scripture (in this case, 2 Timothy 1:7). Martin writes in part:

(T)he best advice I can give is to take this virus seriously, but don’t panic. Don’t let the bloodthirsty media panic you. But, at the same time, please take appropriate precautions. Follow the recommended guidelines about washing your hands, don’t touch your face, sanitize surfaces, and stay home more. And, if possible, support your local businesses and restaurants – you can order food to go so you aren’t eating in, but still helping them keep their doors open.

Also, please if you are not in an at-risk category and you are able, help your friends, acquaintances or neighbors that are over 60 or already ill. Call them up and find out if they need anything from the store that you could pick up for them, so that they don’t need to risk going out. You can even drop it off on their doorstep so that they can avoid human contact.

“My thoughts regarding the Coronavirus,” Jenny Beth Martin, March 19, 2020.

The TPP also has a nice coronavirus portal on their website, with an editable form letter that’s honestly full of good advice for individual initiative.

But there are a couple questions going forward that those interested in fiscal conservatism and limited government should point out, particularly since those on the Left had their own wishlist that could come in yet another Wuhan virus relief bill. Aside from the non-virus related pork in the bill, another thing to watch for is whether this new, vastly increased amount of spending becomes a new artificial baseline from which the Left will scream about “cuts” if we even level-fund in the next budget year.

And when they are not wailing in their best shrill girly scream about how Donald Trump is “a president who will bear responsibility for the death of many of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and for an economic nightmare… an outcome of the right-wing project to undermine and vilify government,” they’re certainly scheming on how to not let this crisis go to waste:

At the end of this pandemic, more Americans will view the government as capable of solving big societal problems, progressives argue. New emergency-aid legislation dramatically expands paid sick and family leave for millions of workers and suspends work requirements for food assistance, two agenda items progressives have long supported. And the $2 trillion stimulus package that the president just signed into law would provide a $1,200 direct payment to most American adults—similar to the Freedom Dividend championed by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang—and another $250 billion in unemployment-insurance benefits. “There’s going to be an amazing shift where we recognize the impact government can have on our lives for the better,” says Charles Chamberlain, the executive director at Democracy for America, a progressive political-action committee.

“What Do Progressives Do Now?”, Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, March 28, 2020.

Unfortunately, that “amazing shift” isn’t going to come with the economic activity required to create the value to come anywhere close to repaying the debt or preventing a return to rampant Carter-era inflation.

Finally, it’s interesting to me that both of these stimulus programs come in response to government actions perhaps the opposite of what would be expected from the party in charge. The Obama stimulus came after the months of uncertainty that spanned from the tail end of the George W. Bush administration (when he had to destroy the free market to save it, and which briefly took GOP candidate John McCain off the campaign trail) whereas this stimulus came from the unprecedented government action of ordering certain businesses to close to prevent the spread of a virus unknown just six months ago. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the decentralization of the federal response is more or less in line with the philosophy of the Trump administration (hence the whining from the Left.)

Whether I’ll come back to my originally scheduled summer TEA Party update or change up again may depend on circumstances both national and personal. I’m definitely hoping we return to something approaching normal by then, but there’s always the prospect that we are in a new normal – and that’s what’s scary.

I’d love some thoughts from my TEA Party friends on this theory, either here or the places I’ll share.

A business state of emergency

It’s amazing in a way to think that we’ve only gone a week and change since the NBA suspended its season in an effort to stifle the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Since then we have endured a week of drastic bad news the likes of which we haven’t seen since 9/11 and perhaps longer. What was shaping up to be a pleasant spring routine has now been destroyed, along with the hopes and dreams of anyone who wanted to participate in the NCAA basketball tournament, their senior proms, and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2020, among countless other annual and special events.

On Tuesday night we resumed our bowling season under different rules, splitting the league squads into two shifts to keep the number in the bowling alley below 50. Unfortunately, that change was short-lived as Governor Carney expanded his previous State of Emergency order the next day to demand the closing of bowling alleys, among other businesses.

While I get the necessity of the closings to “flatten the curve” my problem is the open-endedness of such an order. While there is CDC guidance suggesting this will last about eight weeks, the reality is that many people and businesses can’t survive an eight-week shutdown, at least not without some sort of mitigation. I love how the private sector has moved into action in a lot of cases.

Now let me make a confession: I was sort of stuck as to how to continue this post, at least until I got a comment to Wednesday’s Patriot Post commentary that I shared by Mark Alexander. This response is from a person I’ve known for awhile who is well over on the other side of the political fence, and is quoted verbatim:

Jesus christ ppl are losing jobs, dying, mass hysteria, and hoarding of vital medical supplies. I am working as so many other low paid workers in constant contact with people of high and low risk of severe illness. This is not political. The facts are this we are not prepared and a clown is running the circus. I dont want people to lose their homes, jobs, lives. Or leader need to put their big girl panties on and do what’s right for the millions of Americans and not ask first what party or income bracket they belong in.

Reaction to social media post

This whole situation has been a balancing act I wouldn’t wish on anyone because you have two bad choices: go about normal life, leave the disease essentially unchecked, and overwhelm our health system, OR, shut down everything and place people out of work. President Trump has advised for the latter course but has left enforcement up to state and local officials. To me that’s the proper way to address this because they are more familiar with conditions on the ground, and besides: you can’t completely shut everything down because people have to eat.

And I have to ask: how do you prepare for something like this, a once-in-a-century disease? If we had somehow stocked up on respirators, medicine, and so forth ten years ago, say, as part of the stimulus, wouldn’t someone have complained that we were spending money to store supplies that might have deteriorated to the point of being useless by now anyway? It’s one thing to fill an oil reserve but quite another to stock up on testing kits for a disease that doesn’t exist at the time. Leaders can be prescient but I don’t think they’re often psychic.

So I will grant that we weren’t prepared, but then again that’s the nature of a crisis. We can only prepare ourselves so much for any particular risk so we go with what we know about risks we have experienced at the expense of other ones. (Cases in point: terrorist attacks begat the PATRIOT Act and Department of Homeland Security, both of which have survived nearly two decades now, and school shootings have necessitated upgrades to school buildings which do not necessarily improve the educational process.) After this Chinese virus has run its course we will probably go overboard with products and procedures that will be infringements on our wallets and liberty. (If it brings pharmaceutical manufacturing back from China, though, that would be a benefit.)

On the other hand, I don’t think we have a clown running the circus. A President Hillary Clinton would have dictated a more bureaucratic and more politically correct solution – in my opinion it would have paralleled Italy’s and sadly, that’s been a disaster for the Italian people who are sharing their misery with a huge Chinese national contingent within their nation. The experts have agreed that clamping down on travel from China when President Trump did may have saved thousands from getting the virus and overwhelming the American health care system. And, unfortunately, I don’t think slow Joe Biden would have fared any better than Hillary had this crisis occurred next year after his election. To a greater extent than we are already saddled with, the folks in a Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden administration would have seen this as a crisis they could have used to permanently secure more federal government power.

(That’s not to say those under Trump are immune – I’m somewhat leery of how we will address the financial end by setting a precedent of government payments. One can argue, however, that this direct payment would be compensation for the taking of one’s livelihood since many places of business were forced to close. Perhaps a complementary way to address this, though, would be to bolster state unemployment accounts.)

So thanks to my friend for giving me the inspiration to revise and extend these remarks – I started this on Wednesday but hadn’t felt the need to return to it until that response.

The surprising developments

Two weeks ago I thought we would have four candidates after Super Tuesday, and it turns out I may have gotten that part correct. After that, though…

Had I known Mike Bloomberg was such a terrible debater, perhaps I would have discounted his chances to be the anti-Sanders. Instead, Joe Biden picked himself up off the mat and delivered a knockout blow to two of the four contenders I thought would survive beyond the 14-state extravaganza, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. (Not that I expected a whole lot out of them beyond tomorrow, but regardless…)

So, on this eve of Super Tuesday as I write this, we are down to five of the original 25. (I think after tomorrow I’ll be consolidating that sidebar so I can begin adding local races.) We have Tulsi Gabbard as the one person under 70 years of age remaining in the race, but she’s honestly running to be a protest candidate because she’s never cracked the top 5 in any of the initial contests. (It wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t tomorrow either despite the withdrawals of many of her opponents, who probably outpoll her with the early voting done before they split the scene.)

If you are an establishment Democrat, you are probably grateful Elizabeth Warren hasn’t gotten the hint yet. (Perhaps she will figure it out when she loses her home state to Bernie Sanders, but by then some of the damage will be done.) Since she inhabits the progressive lane along with Bernie, her supporters are siphoning votes away from him and that could knock Sanders down in a few places, costing him maybe 20 to 30 delegates out of the hundreds at stake tomorrow.

On the other hand, the establishment probably wishes Mike Bloomberg would just create a SuperPAC for his millions rather than take votes away from Joe Biden. Tomorrow will be the first time he’s on the ballot, and there are some places where he may well win a significant share of delegates, particularly if they aren’t attuned to what happened in a poorly-watched debate and only see the 30-second ads with which Bloomberg has carpet-bombed the airwaves. Having the other candidates drop out – despite their Biden endorsements – buries Bloomberg’s gaffes farther down the memory hole.

Speaking of gaffes, the obvious wild-card as we enter Super Tuesday tomorrow is what comes out of the mouth of Joe Biden. Yes, he strung together two passable debate performances, but he was also bailed out by how badly Bloomberg was twisting in the wind. You know, every time President Trump mis-speaks, it’s treated as a sure sign of dementia. but the same doesn’t hold true for Creepy Joe. Odd, isn’t it?

And then you have Bernie Sanders, who will probably win most of the Super Tuesday states. However, with the withdrawal of two main opposition candidates – a pair who may not have reached the 15% viability threshold but would have split the vote enough to create a plethora of results like Nevada’s – it becomes less likely that Sanders will get 50 percent of the delegates plus 1 out of everything. As long as this remains a three- or four-way race we could have a situation where everyone gets a share in each remaining state.

But to be honest, I think someone will get just enough delegates to win on the first ballot. Sooner or later the race gets down to two and one of the contenders will begin getting a majority of delegates in each state. It’s going to depend on who establishes the winning streak because once that happens the inevitability factor will kick in – no one wants to vote for a loser. I figure this happens about the end of March, which makes for interesting timing.

Once we get past the big three primaries on March 17 (Florida, Illinois, Ohio) there’s a slate that would seem to be Biden-friendly (Georgia, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Louisiana) but then the tide turns to a more Sanders-style docket in Wisconsin April 7 and the Acela primaries on April 28 (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island.) Aside from Biden’s probable decisive win in Delaware, that could be the point where Bernie takes control, because he has to: the remaining slate has a lot of rural states in flyover country which would likely go for Biden (as well as Washington, DC.)

The arrangement of primaries and the factor of who remains in the race make for an interesting spring. Of course, President Trump has only the token opposition of William Weld to deal with so he’s free to make his comments about his prospective opponent. In two weeks when my birth state prepares to vote, the race may be changed once again, so maybe my speculation is worth what you paid for it. (There is still a tip jar up there, though.)

I’ll stay up a bit tomorrow, but I’m not waiting up for California results – for that, you’re on your own.

A not-so-elite eight

We’re a few weeks away from basketball’s March Madness, but I’m returning one final time to the occasional series I began in the midst of that phenomenon last year on the then-swelling Democrat presidential field to reflect on how it all shook out – and what may well be yet to happen. If you go back to last March, here’s where I ranked the eight who remain in the field now, with updates as they occurred:

  • Joe Biden was #1, holding that spot in May and September.
  • Bernie Sanders was #2, holding that spot in May but slipping to #3 in September.
  • Elizabeth Warren was #4. She fell to #6 in May but jumped to #2 in September.
  • Amy Klobuchar was #6. She fell to #7 in May and stayed there in September.
  • Pete Buttigieg was #13. He jumped to #3 in May, but fell to #5 in September.
  • Tulsi Gabbard was #14. She fell to #21 in May but surged to #9 in September.
  • Tom Steyer was first ranked #8 in September.
  • Mike Bloomberg got into the race after my rankings.

So it’s interesting that most of my top choices have remained in the fray, with the only early surprises being Buttigieg and, to a much lesser extent, Gabbard.

(Numbers 3 and 5 early on were Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke, respectively. Harris was my highest-rated casualty, while Beto faded pretty quickly. Buttigieg initially pushed Amy Klobuchar out of the top 6, then Cory Booker kept her out as he reached the top 6 in September before he, too, exited the race.)

There’s also something to be said about Tulsi Gabbard hanging in there, as she has outlasted the initial turmoil in her campaign. She’s sort of like the Ron Paul of the 2020 Democrat race, but considering I had her initially in the bottom tier with a lot of folks who have long since departed the scene, it’s admirable that she’s found a support niche and said some things which needed to be said. She sure took care of Kamala Harris.

It’s also worth reviewing just how these candidates did in the first two races of the year: the Iowa caucus (assuming they are done counting) and the New Hampshire primary.

For the Iowa caucus I am using the initial alignment votes, as it’s their closest equivalent to a primary.

  • Bernie Sanders: 1st with 43,699 votes (24.7%)
  • Pete Buttigieg: 2nd with 37,596 votes (21.3%)
  • Elizabeth Warren: 3rd with 32,611 votes (18.5%)
  • Joe Biden: 4th with 26,322 votes (14.9%)
  • Amy Klobuchar: 5th with 22,474 votes (12.7%)
  • Tom Steyer: 7th with 3,054 votes (1.7%)
  • Tulsi Gabbard: 9th with 342 votes (0.2%)
  • Mike Bloomberg: 10th with 215 votes (0.1%)

Between the first and second rounds Buttigieg gained the most votes (although not enough to pass Sanders, who gained the fewest) while Warren was a distant second in that category. In terms of absolute numbers among these contenders, Biden dropped the most votes in districts where he fell short of 15% viability but Steyer lost a far greater proportion of his vote and nearly as many in raw numbers. In terms of delegates from Iowa, Buttigieg gets 13, Sanders gets 12, Warren 8, Biden 6, and Klobuchar 1, with one uncommitted.

Moving on to New Hampshire:

  • Bernie Sanders: 1st with 76,355 votes (25.6%)
  • Pete Buttigieg: 2nd with 72,445 votes (24.3%)
  • Amy Klobuchar: 3rd with 58,774 votes (19.7%)
  • Elizabeth Warren: 4th with 27,428 votes (9.2%)
  • Joe Biden: 5th with 24,911 votes (8.3%)
  • Tom Steyer: 6th with 10,694 votes (3.6%)
  • Tulsi Gabbard: 7th with 9,745 votes (3.3%)
  • Mike Bloomberg: 9th with 4,777 votes (1.6%)

For his part, Bloomberg was a write-in candidate in New Hampshire so it’s actually sort of astounding he did that well. Sanders and Buttigieg picked up 9 delegates apiece, while Klobuchar got the other 6 to move into fourth place ahead of Biden overall: Buttigieg has 22, Sanders 21, Warren 8, Klobuchar 7, Biden 6, and uncommitted 1.

The next state up is Nevada, which isn’t a treasure trove of delegates (just 36) but establishes the narrative for the week leading up to the South Carolina primary at month’s end and Super Tuesday on March 3 – which will probably eliminate half or more of this field. Because all of the initial focus was on Iowa and New Hampshire, there’s little polling to go on for Nevada but what polls there are suggest this may be a real fight for spots 2 through 6 and that four or five candidates could share in that delegate pool. This is particularly true as the race is a hybrid caucus with early voting, unlike Iowa.

Bernie Sanders is considered more or less a lock to make the 15% threshold; however the key question is whether Joe Biden – who led in Nevada through the polling done in early January – will crater enough to miss out on getting delegates. All others except Bloomberg – who is not participating – and Gabbard are flirting with that 15% viability number, as all except Warren have trended upward polling-wise in the last few weeks. That 2 through 6 order of finish is going to be the thing to watch as there could be five candidates in the 8-18% range.

As for South Carolina, that is considered to be the last stand for both Joe Biden and Tom Steyer. Biden once had a lead approaching 30 points in the state, but that has dwindled down to single-digits. If he continues to sink and gets passed by Bernie Sanders and even Steyer (who are currently 2 and 3) in late, post-Nevada polling I can’t see Joe surviving to Super Tuesday.

At some point, the field has to consolidate. It’s just my wild guess that among the eight contenders the one to go after Nevada will be Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden will finally figure out his time is past once he fades to third or fourth in South Carolina, perhaps not even getting delegates there. Gabbard won’t spend much money, but I think she will stay in the race on principle for a little while – at least long enough to outlast a couple others who are in. (But she’s not sniffing double digits in any caucus or primary this year unless she’s the last protest vote candidate left.) By the same token, many thought Tom Steyer would cash in his chips after New Hampshire but I don’t think he gets enough of a bounce after Nevada or South Carolina to be present in the race beyond Super Tuesday.

Once the smoke clears after March 3, I think the field is down to 4. Seeded from worst to first, we will have:

  • Pete Buttigieg. When you look at the field, he’s trying to straddle the moderate lane. But Pete’s support is lacking among black voters, and while he’s a fresh face, he’s struggled to handle the scrutiny as the field has dwindled. America tried the inexperienced guy with the funny name and distinction of first ____ president route once already this century, so I’m not sure they’re quite ready for another, especially with his particular first.
  • Amy Klobuchar. She has hung around in this race quite nicely, lurking just outside the top tier and watching as various flavors of the month (Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, etc.) have had their fifteen minutes of fame before fading away once Americans got to know them. By default she’s moving into the top tier but the question is whether she can consolidate any sort of base, female or otherwise, in time to establish her presence before the primaries are too far gone to get enough delegates; thus, she might now be running for vice-president. Would a Sanders-Klobuchar ticket be the unity ticket the Democrats need as their best hope to oust Donald Trump? More importantly, would you like to be a fly on the wall for those interactions?
  • Bernie Sanders. He has plenty of money and a passionate support base. But some guy just as smart as me pointed out that the ceiling for a Socialist vote seems to be 45%, and that’s before you know who the candidates are. Yet the two initial factors, combined with a desire to keep Milwaukee from feeling the burn – literally – could well be good enough to push Bernie over the top. If so, and if the aforementioned Sanders-Klobuchar package doesn’t sound good enough, look for an effort by the #NeverTrumpers and mainline Democrats to find a stalking horse candidate who can snatch away just enough support from Trump to steal the election, or even win outright. Maybe it will be…
  • Mike Bloomberg. This man is doing more to advance the narrative that politics is a commodity than anyone in our nation’s history. Donald Trump parlayed years of television fame into $5 billion in free media to win the White House, but Mike Bloomberg is eschewing even that step (unless you count his news service.) By nationalizing his campaign with an unprecedented advertising blitz in the opening months and just skipping ahead to campaigning for Super Tuesday, he made spending a whole summer, fall, and holidays trying to gain name recognition in some backwater Iowa county or New Hampshire hamlet absolutely unnecessary. (The same goes for a ground game – why beg and cajole when you can just buy oodles of staffers?) Of course, only billionaires or extremely adept fundraisers could afford to run that way.

By this time three weeks hence, we should pretty well have an idea whether the Democrats will have a nominee in hand before their convention or will have to endure multiple ballots for the first time in decades. If the latter comes into play, I don’t think there will be a white knight entering the race (so have a seat, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry) but they may try and figure out who can best fool us into believing they’ll have a pro-American agenda.

All of their top-tier candidates have flaws, and there’s no guarantee that the disparate elements of the Democrat party are going to come together for a particular candidate, let alone nominate one who appeals to independents or can bring older, more traditional Democrat voters back home – you know, the ones who voted for Trump because they couldn’t stand Hillary. This is especially true when your top two contenders are northeastern liberals (like Hillary), your third-place one is female (like Hillary), and the fourth-place contender is openly gay, with his own “first husband.” (Sort of like what was often rumored about Hillary.) There’s a generation of voters who won’t flinch at that last aspect, but I believe there’s a larger generation who is better at turning out on Election Day and isn’t down with having a gay man in the Oval Office, okay Boomer? Maybe next time he runs in 2024 Pete has a better shot.

Assuming the Trump train has enough momentum to make it to a second term in the 2020 election, look out. If you thought this cycle was bad, wait until the Democrats begin their 2024 campaign this November 4.