Wednesday, August 31, 2016

5 Thoughts on Last Night's Primaries

I'm just going to start out by saying I am exhausted, and running a little late today.  I had my first case of insomnia in like a month last night, and with me insomnia is more of a can't sleep from 1 AM to roughly 5 AM, so I do actually get sleep, but it's the sort of sleep where you get just little enough that it makes you feel more tired.  But it's a Wednesday, perhaps the last really important day-after-an-election until November (depending on what happens in New Hampshire in a couple of weeks), and so you know I need to get out my five thoughts.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
1. John McCain and Marco Rubio Pass the First Test

One of the major stories of this cycle, and it's nearly completely true (Kelly Ayotte is the last person at bat) is that Republicans have done a remarkable job of getting their incumbents through the primary. Despite the predominance of people like Donald Trump in the primaries, thus seeming like a harbinger of major candidates losing in primaries, no Senate incumbent has yet to lose in a primary, and all of them are taking down opponents in landslides, including last night with John McCain and Marco Rubio.  This cycle has given the Republicans no Richard Lugars or Bob Bennetts, and really nothing even close to Pat Roberts where it was a tight race but the incumbent won.  McCain and Rubio both won decisive victories, and now are pushed into races where they have the edge, but strong challengers (in the form of House incumbents) could cause issues for the former presidential candidates.

2. The Republicans Get Their Men

Despite the Republican Party's proclaimed outreach toward women this cycle, they continued to have an issue with, well, actually electing women to seats.  The House GOP caucus is 87% male, and that number doesn't look to be changing much after Florida, where every competitive seat, as well as every open seat that leans toward the Republicans went to a male competitor.  People like Mary Thomas in FL-2, who would have been the first Indian-American woman in Congress and was endorsed by the Club for Growth, continued the strange counter-Trump movement of the establishment candidate winning, but in doing so it's within the realm of possibility that by the end of this election cycle the House GOP could actually have LESS women in it that it started with, with Renee Ellmers already out and competitive races in Utah and Arizona.

Dena and Alan Grayson (D-FL)
3. The Graysons are Gone

Alan and Dena Grayson have been, in my opinion, a bit of a regional disgrace for the Democratic Party.  Grayson's marital troubles have crossed the line from none-of-my-business to torrid, and his past incendiary comments have earned him the title of the "Democrats' Michele Bachmann" (which, for those ultra-right readers, is not intended as a compliment).  As a result, last night was a bit of a joyous situation for my end, as both Graysons went down in a massive defeat.  Alan Grayson was trying for a promotion, and figured (incorrectly) that the Democrats would want to emulate the campaign of Bernie Sanders and elect a hard-left standard-bearer over a more moderate alternative, but was completely wrong and saw his Senate dreams dashed in a landslide to Patrick Murphy, while Dena Grayson lost by a large margin in a multi-candidate primary to State Sen. Darren Soto.  As a result, the Democratic Party has to be pleased, as they both got the two guys they wanted and the Graysons no longer have a platform in Congress that Democrats need to run away from.

4. A Tale of Two Different Congresswoman

Headed into last night, no two congressional incumbents had more on the line than Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Corrine Brown.  Both women had been involved in major scandals leading up to their House primaries, with DWS involved in the DNC leak which caused her to resign as Chair, while Brown was indicted on 24 counts of conspiracy and fraud.  The voters in these districts had strong options in a Bernie Sanders-backed challenger and a former state senator, but in the end only Wasserman Schultz won, with Brown being clobbered by Al Lawson, who on his third try will finally make it to the House from his very safe district.  I hadn't talked about it a lot because I am not a huge fan of hers, but I was supportive of Wasserman Schultz's primary bid, for a couple of reasons. One, I think that it would be wrong to completely destroy this woman's career over a leak that she had nothing to do with, and was in fact a crime against her organization by a foreign crime syndicate. Secondly, I am not a huge fan of throwing out the baby with the bath water, so to speak, as Wasserman Schultz on most issues (not all-see marijuana, for example) has been a strong advocate for liberal causes, and in particular when it comes to women's rights, gay rights, and cancer research, has led the way.  To see her go down in such a massive fit of bad luck, particularly when she is a strong fundraiser and someone that is a leader on these issues, would have been unfortunate.  I want to see more liberals in Congress, but I also don't like how reckless the Sanders campaign has been about attacking incumbent Democrats when we don't have majorities in either house-lets win back both sides of Congress before we start throwing out our own incumbents, particularly when they're wildly popular in their home districts.  DWS will almost surely never rise higher than a committee chair, but could still be in Congress for decades to come now, albeit from a much less grand perch than before. 

Considering the 24 counts and the imminent scandal, I was fine with Brown getting out of Congress, quite frankly.

Sheriff Paul Babeu (R-AZ)
5. Apparently it was also "Shoot Yourself in the Foot" Night

I texted a friend of mine early in the evening with the message "sometimes I think Democrats WANT to lose elections" and it was hard not to think that when the results of Florida's 26th district came in.  After all, the Democrats had a strong candidate in Annette Taddeo, someone who could have made a major dent in a district that is vitally important if the Democrats have any hope of winning back the majority.  However, the Democrats in that district decided to go with former Rep. Joe Garcia, whose former chief of staff was arrested for ballot fraud after the 2012 elections and who funded a shill candidate in 2010 to run, which bordered on the illegal in my opinion (and badly backfired as Garcia lost that election anyway).  This pushes a seat that should have been a true Tossup into Leans Republican territory, a big disappointment considering the amount of Hispanic voters that could turn out here for Hillary Clinton probably would have elected Taddeo.

However, the Democrats weren't exclusively failing this year, as Arizona Republicans also decided it was time to give up on a seat last night.  Controversial Sheriff Paul Babeu (yes, the guy who was railing until immigration until it was found that his lover was an undocumented immigrant, and yes, he still rails against immigration because the GOP doesn't know the meaning of hypocrisy this year), won the election over more palatable candidates like Greg Kehne and former Secretary of State Ken Bennett.  Babeu has to be the closest the Republicans have come this year to throwing away a House seat, as he lost in 2012, and it's hard to imagine conservative Republicans voting for a man most famous for having a same-sex affair with an undocumented immigrant all the while denouncing US immigration policy.  The seat is currently held by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), so this would be a hold, but it was one of the toughest holds for the Democrats on the map so former State Sen. Tom O'Halleran (and the DCCC) has to be in a good mood this morning.

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