Friday, June 29, 2018

Housekeeping and Reconciliation

First, for those of you who tried to post comments on my website recently, apparently the Blogger platform I use “no longer supports OpenID” which may be the reason as to why I have not received any notifications that comments were awaiting approval.  So, my apologies if you attempted to leave one.  I switched the moderation requirement off for a while, when it was pointed out that comments were not appearing.  I am considering optimal setting options now.

Anyway, let’s get back to business.

This post is aimed at no one in particular. I am increasingly viewing anyone who still kicks at the fading embers of the 2016 Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton competition, most notably those who blame Sanders for Clinton’s defeat in November of that year, as paid Russian shills or uncompensated dupes.   Continuing this quarrel benefits precisely zero Democrats, yet I still see, in June 2018, this particular blame-game narrative being echoed (primarily but not exclusively on social media).

Just to clear, I am no “Bernie Bro.”  I cast my ballot for the Vermont Senator in the primary based on where he stood on various policy matters.  Unlike the Republicans and Trump, this is not a cult of personality scenario.  The Movement was, is, and will always be larger than any single person. And when he lost, I dutifully voted for Hillary Clinton in November.

Yes, had a higher percentage of Sanders voters “come home” in the general election (which assumes that all were good Democrats to begin with), Hillary would be President and we wouldn’t be caught up in this rolling nightmare.   Just bear in mind the following:

According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a 2016 post-election survey of 50,000 individuals, 12% of those who voted for Senator Sanders in the primary ended up casting their ballots for Trump in the general.  Meanwhile, according to the 2008 American National Election study, 83% of Hillary Clinton primary voters voted for then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, with 10% opting for John McCain and the balance either voting for another candidate or sitting out the presidential general election. Another study (one I am far more skeptical of) had the Clinton-to-McCain flip as high as 25%.  In any event, remember the Clinton die-harders who adopted for themselves the colorful nom de guerre, “Party Unity My Ass” (aka PUMA)?  I certainly do.  Meanwhile, looking at the 2016 American National Election study, 13% of 2016 Trump voters were 2012 Obama voters.

In short, “defections” happen. 

The best case is to actually learn from the “lessons learned” and not engage in another acrimonious round of Recriminations: The Board Game.  Yes, nominating someone from the Corporatist wing of the Democratic Party was not going to go over well with every Sanders voter.  Yes, Hillary Clinton (established on the national scene since at least early ’92) wasn’t everyone’s version of Bold, Exciting Change (not the way Obama was in 2007/2008).  And yes, to be honest, some Sanders voters are not great on race…some get focused on economic justice but they ignore or downplay the critical importance of racial justice.   Sanders didn’t get that, which is one reason why he didn’t win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez learned from this, which is why she is the Democratic nominee in New York’s 14th Congressional District.   More about her in future posts.

To summarize: let us learn from the past so we can be smarter now and in the future.  Embracing constructive wisdom may not feel as cathartic as calling a fellow Democrat (or at least a potential Democratic voter) an idiot, but we need to be more sagacious as we play the long game and work to achieve realigning elections in 2018 and 2020.  It is our only hope.

In solidarity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Main Primary Election Wrap-Up

From a macro perspective, yesterday was a very good day for serious progressives. 

Ø  In the State Senate District 12 Democratic primary race, Clarence Lam (supported by this blog) rather handily defeated Mary Kay Sigaty (72.7% - 27.3%). 
Ø  Although the present author is disappointed that Dr. James Howard will not be one of the three Democratic nominees for State Delegate in the 12th, the team of Dr. Terri Hill (29.9%), Eric Ebersole (28.2%), and Jessica Feldmark (21.5%) is a strong one.  They, along with Dr. Lam, all deserve election in November.
Ø  Team 13, with Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary the top vote-getter (32.7%), followed by incumbent Shane Pendergrass (30.3%) and Council Member Jen Terrasa (27.6%) easily obtained the three Democratic nominations for State Delegate in the 13th.  Incumbent Guy Guzzone was unopposed in the State Senate Democratic primary.  They are all well-positioned to win in the General Election.
Ø  In the 9th, Katie Fry Hester (D) will square off against incumbent Gail Bates (who won her Republic primary against Reid Novotny by a 54% - 46% margin). Best of luck to Ms. Hester in a still tough State Senate district for Democrats. Meanwhile, in the related State Delegate seats, Courtney Watson demonstrated her electoral strength in 9B with a larger-than-expected primary victory over a formidable opponent, Daniel Medinger (65.8% - 34.2%).  Ms. Watson (preferred by this blog in the primary) will face off against Bob Flanagan, and she will give him a hell of a run in this swing district. In 9A, Natalie Ziegler (51.7%) and Steven Bolen (30.2%) will run against GOP incumbents Trent Kittleman and Warren Miller in the fall.
Ø  Calvin Ball, as anticipated, won the Democratic nomination for County Executive by an overwhelming margin over Harry Dunbar (83.5% - 16.5%). Mr. Dunbar’s slow growth message couldn’t push him past the 20% mark against the Ball juggernaut.
Ø  Turning to the County Council races, Liz Walsh is giving Jon Weinstein a serious challenge from the left in the First District, with Walsh trailing Weinstein by only 41 votes (50.3% - 49.7%).  This blog recently made the case for Mr. Weinstein’s re-election. This race will come down to absentee and provisional ballots.   
Ø  Opel Jones, running unopposed, will be the Democratic standard-bearer in District 2.
Ø  Again, this blog supported Steven Hunt in the District 3 Democratic primary, given his knowledge and experience at the County-level.  That said, back in February of 2018, we identified Christiana Rigby as one to watch (“perhaps a future County Executive”) and she proved it yesterday with a legitimately impressive 55% showing in a field bereft of slouches. 
Ø  In the 4th, Democrat Deb Jung captured 63.6% of the vote in a primary win against Dr. Janet Siddiqui (33.1%) and Ian Bradley Moller-Knudsen (3.3%).  No further comment is necessary.
Ø  China Williams will be the Democratic nominee against David Yungmann, the latter having defeated Jim Walsh in the Republican primary by a solid 59.8% - 40.2% margin.
Ø  Rich Gibson (State’s Attorney) and Wayne Robey (Clerk of the Circuit Court) were unopposed in their Democratic primaries.  Meanwhile, the incumbent Register of Wills, Byron Macfarlane secured his re-nomination by a comfortable margin against Terrence McAndrews (67.2% - 32.8%).  In other good news, Marcus Harris won the Democratic primary race for Sheriff against John Francis McMahon (59.2% - 40.8%).    Two of the three Orphans’ Court incumbents were re-nominated in the Democratic primary:  Anne Dodd and Leslie Smith Turner.  As of this writing, Elizabeth Ann Fitch is the apparent winner of the third Democratic nomination, with a 304 vote lead over the remaining incumbent, Nicole Bormel Miller.  It is unlikely that the provisional and absentee ballots will change that order of finish.
Ø  Shifting to the Governor’s race.  Although Krish Vignarajah did not win the Democratic primary, she demonstrated that she has a golden future in Maryland politics and public affairs.  Lacking the resources and institutional support of the Jealous and Baker campaigns, she was still the best communicator in the field and had a message that resonated strongly enough to finish a respectable fourth, only a few hundred votes out of third place.  Statewide, she garnered 8.2% of the vote, ahead of Rich Madaleno (5.7%) and Alec Ross (2.3%) and just behind the Shea-Scott ticket (8.3%).  In Howard County, she placed third with 12.4% of the vote. This blog is proud to have supported her candidacy and we look forward to seeing how Ms. Vignarajah will use her considerable skills in a public service capacity in the years to come.

In solidarity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Primary Election Results: BoE & Dem. Central Comm.

These are initial top-line thoughts with a bit of hastily assembled historical data to provide some context.  Don't worry, I will get to the other races soon enough.

Let’s start with the Howard County Board of Education.  And yes, the precinct counts are still coming in...and the numbers don't include the absentee or provisional ballots yet.

Vicky Cutroneo placed first, as was anticipated in certain circles (with 19,914 votes as of this writing) … not a bad haul for a non-presidential election year primary.  By means of comparison, Cynthia L. Vaillancourt, if I may be so formal, was the top BoE vote-getter in the 2014 primary with 15,851 votes.  Cutroneo goes into the General Election as the candidate most likely to win a seat on the Board of Education.  So, enjoy that front-runner status!   

Bob Glascock grabbed the second spot (16,951 votes), which was a mild surprise.  Clearly his years of experience and deep connections in the HoCo education scene combined with his presence on the Apple Ballot helped vault him ahead of all but Cutroneo.

Robert Wayne Miller finished third (15,903 votes) which is about right.  Chao Wu’s fourth place showing (15,001 votes) was an eye-brow raiser.  Yes, he had some resources and yes, I heard that he had a decent ground operation.  That said, I considered him a “total wild card” and assumed he would finish anywhere between 6th and 10th place, with 8th as the most likely position.  The question remains:  can he hold onto the 4th spot in the smaller field of 8 in a higher turnout General Election? This author is skeptical.

Finishing in fifth and sixth places were Jen Mallo (13,026 votes) and Sabina Taj (12,799 votes).
Recent BoE election history indicates that candidates who finish out of the top 3 or 4 in the primary can still move on to win in November.  In 2014, Christine O’Connor finished 6th in the primary but went on to secure a strong fourth in the general. In 2010, Vaillancourt was 6th in the primary and also placed a solid fourth in November.  In short, both Taj and Mallo have cause for optimism.

Rounding out the field of 8…Anita Pandey in seventh place (9,636 votes) and Danny Mackey (9,633 votes).    

The other big winners of the night?  The HoCo Forward slate.  As of this writing, it looks like they crushed it.  The eight HoCo Forward men were the top 8 vote-getters (with Gabriel Moreno and Josh Friedman apparently rounding out the top 10, but again, votes are still rolling in).  Meanwhile, the eight HoCo Forward women also secured the top 8 spots…followed by Margaret Weinstein and Alicia Altamirano (a Spartan Tendency sweep).  Congratulations one and all.  To those who did not secure election to the Central Committee this time around, you ran strong campaigns and you should be proud of your accomplishments and service to the Democratic Party.   

In solidarity.