A Tale of Two Countries

A Tale of Two Countries

  If you follow the national news media, there is no doubt that Roy Moore is likely to withdraw from the Alabama Senate race any day now. After the Washington Post stories reporting allegations from at least eight women who said that Moore behaved improperly toward them when they were teenagers – one only 14.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee have all withdrawn their support and fundraising power from Moore. S.E. (for Sara Elizabeth) Cupp, the bright, witty and pretty host of a Headline News program and a conservative writer, opined that if Fox News commentator Sean Hannity came out against Moore, it would probably force Moore out of the race. (Hannity waffled and it had no effect.) But that’s not how it is in Alabama. “I have not picked up anything about Moore stepping aside,’ says Glenn Browder, Emeritus Professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama and a former congressman (D). “Roy Moore has never backed down on anything.” Browder adds,” The mood in Washington is nowhere kin to the mood in Alabama… It’s Trump redux in Alabama. Moore is Alabama’s version of Trump. Trump has everybody after him. Democrats want to beat him, Republicans don’t want him, and the media is against him, but still Trump wins.” As for stepping aside, as McConnell urged, Moore tweeted, “The person who should step aside is Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced.” Moore does have some support on the national level. President Trump has stayed out of the contest, saying it’s for...
Virginia: A harbinger of things to come?

Virginia: A harbinger of things to come?

By Hastings Wyman – Democrat Ralph Northam won an unexpected landslide victory – 54% to 45% – over Republican Ed Gillespie in last Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Virginia. In addition, Northam’s running mates, Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor and incumbent Mark Herring for attorney general, also won, each by 53% to 47%. And Democrats won major gains in the House of Delegates that could end the GOP’s control of that body. The details of those victories contain valuable lessons for both parties, but are especially worrisome for Republicans. Virginia’s outgoing governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, has already said his state’s results should be replicated across the nation. Among the details: First, the suburbs are moving toward the Democrats in a big way. Northam’s margin in Northern Virginia increased sharply over McAuliffe’s margin in the 2013 gubernatorial race. McAuliffe came out of Northern Virginia with a margin of 127,430 votes; Northam’s margin was more than twice that, 271,411 votes. Four years ago McAuliffe carried suburban Loudoun County by four points; this year, Northam carried it by 20 points. Moreover, turnout was up sharply in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Fairfax County saw a 23% increase in turnout over 2013, Alexandria and Arlington County increased 26% and Loudoun County by 31%. In rural areas, friendly to Gillespie, turnout was either down or level. Turnout was also up sharply in university areas. The turnout in precincts around Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University more than doubled over the 2013 governor’s race. Although Northern Virginia’s suburbs aren’t typical, given their proximity to Washington, the suburbs of Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa and Tallahassee, etc., etc., aren’t that different; most...
Democrats sweep Virginia

Democrats sweep Virginia

By Hastings Wyman – Ralph Northam (D), Virginia’s mild-mannered lieutenant governor, scored a surprisingly strong victory over Ed Gillespie, former chair of the Republican National Committee, in yesterday’s gubernatorial election. Less than two hours after the polls closed, Gillespie conceded. With 90% of precincts reporting, Northam led by 53% to 45%. The margin may tighten as many rural counties, which usually vote Republican, continue to report their returns, but the final result was not in doubt. The Democrats also won two important down-ballot races. In the race for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax (D) became the first African American to win a statewide office since Doug Wilder won the governor’s race in 1989. Fairfax had 52% to state Sen. Jill Vogel’s (R) 48%. In the race for attorney general, incumbent Mark Herring (D) received 53% of the vote to 47% for John Adams (R), once a law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas. Northam, a pediatrician, was elected lieutenant governor in 2013 on a ticket headed by Terry McAuliffe. He has a moderate record; indeed, he has acknowledged that he voted for George W. Bush for president twice. But he stuck to Democratic positions on most issues, especially social issues such as abortion rights. His most notable variance was a refusal to oppose Dominion Power’s proposed pipeline’s route across Virginia. Gillespie, who had a close race under his belt from 2014 when he opposed US Sen. Mark Warner (D), also had a centrist record, and as late as this year’s GOP primary, he maintained his reputation as a moderate Republican. Moreover, he continued to keep his distance from President Trump as...
Mississippi: Will Wicker win again?

Mississippi: Will Wicker win again?

By Hastings Wyman – Mississippi could be the site of a knock-down-drag-out Republican Primary in 2018 if state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) decides to challenge ten year- incumbent US Sen. Roger Wicker next June. Wicker is an influential lawmaker. In the 2014 election cycle, he chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He is also on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Seapower, a position of major significance to Mississippi, site of a number shipbuilding facilities and suppliers. But Wicker’s role as a prominent member of the Senate’s Republican establishment is a mixed blessing. In a time when many voters, especially those who are part of President Donald Trump’s rebellious right wing base, are suspicious or outright rejecting of “establishment” anything, a primary challenge can be daunting, if not successful. Look no further than Mississippi’s next door neighbor, Alabama, where hard-right social conservative Roy Moore defeated incumbent (by appointment) US Sen. Luther Strange (R) earlier this year, despite the President’s endorsement of Strange. Enter McDaniel (R), a staunch conservative who challenged six-term US Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in 2014, won the first primary, but lost the runoff after Cochran’s campaign encouraged Democrats, including many African-Americans, to vote in the GOP contest, a move that enraged both McDaniel, who challenged the result in court to no avail, and his supporters, whose rallying cry is “Remember Mississippi.” McDaniel “would be very strong against Wicker,” says a Magnolia State Republican operative, noting his enthusiastic base of support, anxious to avenge McDaniel’s loss in the 2014 election, an election many feel was stolen from McDaniel. But it would not...
Is the Alabama Senate race competitive?

Is the Alabama Senate race competitive?

By Hastings Wyman – When a Fox News poll – yes, Fox News – reported that Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones were tied, with 42% each, in Alabama’s special US Senate election, the hearts of liberals all over the country began to beat a little faster. Not only was there a chance of defeating the far-right Moore, but also of making GOP legislation one vote harder to pass in the closely divided US Senate. But the liberal joy was short lived. The Fox News poll “was registered voters, not likely voters, a crucial difference,” says Marty Connors, a former Alabama State Republican Chairman. Indeed, the “likely voters” polls favored Moore. The Real Clear Politics average of surveys taken from Sept. 27 to Oct. 16 showed Moore with 47.8% to 41.8% for Jones, a six point advantage for Moore. Of the four polls in the Real Clear Politics average, Moore led in three, all of which were taken of likely voters. His best poll, taken by WBRC-TV/Strategy Research on Oct. 16, showed Moore ahead by 51% to 40%, an eleven point margin. The Fox News poll that resulted in a tie was taken of registered voters, generally considered to be less accurate than a survey in which only likely voters are polled. “Doug Jones is making the classic liberal mistake, reminding people how ‘moderate’ he is, like visiting Planned Parenthood,” says Connors. He adds, “The numbers are there, but Doug Jones is not going to places where you have to go to get cross-over votes.” Connors concludes, “A Democrat could win, but it would have to be a...