Republican “Establishment” out to get Allen West?

January 29, 2012

Seriously? One of the rising stars in the Party and the Tea Party movement, and yet the Florida legislature tries to harm his reelection chances via redistricting?

After last night’s Republican Presidential debate, the candidates’ respective spinmeisters made their cases to the media as to why their guy won the debate. One of Governor Mitt Romney’s spokesmen was Florida Representative Will Weatherford, and during the course of his remarks in the “Spin Room”, he shed a very dim light on the ongoing redistricting process in the Florida Legislature. Over the past several weeks, many Republicans have voiced their disappointment towards the Republican legislature after the release of the preliminary redistricting maps. Much of the ire concerns the proposed boundaries of Congressman Allen West’s 22nd Congressional District that would be redrawn to include far more registered Democrats.

West’s congressional district inexplicably sheds the most out support as compared to all other incumbent Republican and Democrat Congressman. A few weeks back we quoted an unnamed legislator saying that, “Allen West was screwed”, a statement which was originally made about made five months before the proposed maps were made public, leading insiders to believe that the fix was in against Allen West. But in light of Weatherford’s comment, it is increasingly clear that this is a fait accompli.

According to State Rep. Weatherford, this is due to compliance with federal and state law. Color me unconvinced; after the way the Republican “elite” treated Sarah Palin (1) and with what now looks like a concerted effort to suppress the Gingrich campaign (2), it’s hard not to imagine that something… “funny” is going on here. Anyone who becomes a threat to the “established order” gets the political equivalent of a Mob hit.

But this shot at Representative West could easily backfire; he was already in a tough district, so does the Party elite really want to encourage him to instead run for the Senate in 2012, when Florida’s statewide demographics are much more favorable to him?

May they get what they want and then live to regret it.

via Legal Insurrection

Footnotes:
(1) Remember how she was left to twist in the wind after being all-but-accused of inciting murder after the Tucson shootings?
(2) No, I’m not saying Newt is an “outsider” or a Tea Partier, nor that he hasn’t engaged in mudslinging, himself. (That’s an old tradition in US politics.) But he successfully linked himself to those groups in the eyes of many voters and has made himself a threat to the established order. Thus the double-barrel smear job against him, one that assumes we’re idiots.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: the legislators’ whines are like music to my ears

June 9, 2011

Fixing the many things broken about the state of California will be a long, hard struggle, often a battle over inches than a vast breakthrough to victory. But those little gains can be meaningful, making subtle changes that have substantial effects, long-term.

One such was the passage by the voters of Proposition 11 in 2008, which took away the legislature’s power to draw its own district boundaries and gave it to a non-partisan citizen’s commission. This reform was extended in 2010 by the passage of Proposition 20, which took away the power to draw congressional districts from the legislature and gave it to that same commission. And we defended those reforms that same year by defeating Proposition 27, a blatant, cynical attempt by  Democratic oligarchs in Sacramento and Washington to trick the people into giving those powers back.

The commission is scheduled to release a draft map for congressional districts tomorrow; from the howls of pain and outrage coming from entrenched progressive legislators oligarchs, the commissioners did their job well:

Pols who have become fixtures in the state and on Capitol Hill and who have skated to reelection are preparing to face a political Armageddon. Decades-old seats will vanish. Some members will retire. Others will be forced to run against fellow incumbents from the same party.

“To say every politician in California is holding their breath would be an understatement,” said Jim Ross, a Bay Area-based Democratic consultant, who pointed out that a rough blueprint the commission released last week “sent some people into a fit.”

This day of reckoning has long been on the horizon. The independent citizen-led commission, initially proposed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and approved by voters in a referendum last year, has been meeting for the past two months with an eye toward demolishing each of the state’s 53 incumbent-coddling districts.

“I can almost guarantee you no one will be happy with the maps that will be drawn,” said former Democratic state Sen. Don Perata, who chaired the panel that oversaw redistricting a decade ago and who has been consulting with a handful of Democrats in the state delegation. “There’s a lot of concern.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, an outspoken Marin County liberal who in the preliminary plan loses much of her Sonoma County base, released a scorching statement hammering the commission for performing “invasive surgery” on her seat. A Facebook group called “Uniquely North Bay — Save the Sixth” has already popped up, backing Woolsey in her crusade against the proposal.

The apprehension extends into the southern portion of the state, where Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez approached California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton at a dinner party last week and complained about the preliminary blueprint, which pushed her into a GOP-leaning district with veteran Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

“It didn’t seem to make sense to me,” Burton, a longtime party boss, said of the draft. “Some of the districts seem kind of bizarre.”

You have to have been a resident of California for a while to catch the black humor in that quote. John Burton, who had been a powerful state senator at the last redistricting, and Perata both played a major role in drawing the current boundaries. For them to feign concern over “bizarre boundaries” is to make a crocodile’s tears seem sincere by comparison. These are the same two who had a hand in creating the gerrymandered farce that is congressional district 23, just one of many examples. And they’re worried about odd-shaped districts?

And you can bet I smiled when I read of Loretta Sanchez’s fears. Readers of this blog know of my contempt for her: she is a race-baiter, a bigot, and a woman willing to kick a Democratic colleagues not just when she’s down, but when she’s in the hospital recovering from being shot in the head. Watching her face off against a powerful Republican congressman like Rohrabacher will be a pleasure.

To come back to why this is a good and important reform for California, however, one has to understand the “safe seat deal” that was struck during the 2000 reapportionment: the Democratic and Republican leadership at the time agreed to a permanent “majority/minority” arrangement that practically guaranteed both unbeatable incumbents and a Democratic majority at the state and federal levels. This was done by drawing boundaries in such a way as to create districts with strong majorities for one party or the other. It also meant that the state legislators and congresscritters could afford to be less responsive to their voters, particularly those not of their party, because they were almost guaranteed reelection.

I believe you can see the problem with that.

What these reforms promise to do (and apparently do, given the squawking) is to end that corrupt deal and make almost all congressional seats more competitive, forcing candidates to pay attention to their voters — as it should be.  And I trust the same thing will be happening to the state legislature, too.

And it’s a bipartisan Good Thing; the Politico article notes Republican concerns, too, to which I say “good!” The Republicans made themselves junior partners in this corrupt bargain back in 2000, something they should never have done. Let them compete for seats, too; our ideas are the good ones, and I’ll bet we gain seats.

Meanwhile, I’m going to sit back and savor the tantrums going on in Sacramento and Washington.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Red States Rising

November 4, 2010

The news has been full of talk about the smashing Republican victories at the federal level Tuesday, taking control of the House with the largest gain since 1948 and capturing at least six Senate seats. But I think one of the great under-reported stories of the election is the absolutely massive gains made by Republicans in both state legislatures and governorships. Just look at this map:

Follow the link for a larger, interactive version courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Like I said yesterday with regard to the House races, this is nothing short of a bloodbath for the Democrats, with Republicans winning an all-time high in state legislative seats. An article at Stateline describes the statehouse carnage:

Republicans won smashing victories in state legislatures yesterday, capturing an outright majority of the nation’s legislative seats and the largest majority for the party since 1928.

As of noon Eastern Time (11/3/10 -PF), Republicans had taken about 18 legislative chambers from Democrats, with more statehouses hanging in the balance. Democrats hadn’t picked up a single chamber from Republicans. So Republicans will have the upper hand when it comes to shaping state policy in the coming years. They’ll also be in charge in most states as policymakers redraw legislative and congressional district lines next year.

In historical terms, the most dramatic wins for the Republicans were in the South. As recently as 20 years ago, long after the region had begun voting Republican in presidential elections, Democrats held every Southern legislative chamber. After last night, Republicans will control a majority of the region’s legislative chambers for the first time since Reconstruction.

The GOP took both the North Carolina Senate and North Carolina House from the Democrats, winning the Senate for the first time since 1870. The party won both houses of the Alabama Legislature from the Democrats, which will also give the Republicans control there for the first time since Reconstruction. In Oklahoma, Republicans retained their control of the Legislature, which, coupled with their win in the governor’s race, will give the GOP complete control of state government for the first time ever. In Tennessee the story was similar: Republicans won the governorship and solidified their control of the Legislature, putting them fully in charge of the state for the first time since Reconstruction.

Check out the article behind the link for a region by region description.

Gubernatorial races were a similar story:

The fortunes of Republicans in state government improved dramatically Tuesday night, as the Grand Old Party’s nominees for governor reclaimed vast swaths of territory that Democrats staked out for the last decade. The most striking gains came in the West and the industrial Midwest. In several contests, Republican women and minorities made history by winning in their states.

With 29 governorships under their control and several more still up for grabs, Republicans appeared close to their goal of winning the top office in 30 states. The Republican dominance came even as they lost small states such as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Hawaii, along with population-rich California.

(…)

Republican victories included ousting the governors in Ohio and Iowa; wresting away open seats currently held by Democrats in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming; and successfully defending Republican seats in Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.

One obvious impact this will have is on redistricting, as touched on in the first article quoted,  and one can expect the legislatures controlled by the Republicans -especially when the governor is also a Republican- to draw lines favorable to their own party. Yes, I’ve said before that I’m opposed to gerrymandering, but also that we might as well take advantage of the rules while they’re in place.

Aside from redistricting, though, this sea change in state control may have several other significant effects:

First, there’s the likelihood of better governance. While I don’t have hard data, I suspect many of these new legislators and governors arose from the Tea Party or won with Tea Party support, which means a committment to limited government, low taxes, and sound fiscal practices as a foundation for prosperity. I expect we’ll see several states with bloated governments start to seriously pare them back. Justice Brandeis once said that the states are the laboratories of democracy; if, as I expect, state economies fare well as a result of this pruning, that will put pressure on other bloated states (Hi, California and New York!) and the federal government to do the same.

Also, control of legislatures and governorships will act as a training ground for promising politicians to move up to the federal level, much like a farm league in baseball. Particularly for legislators, being in the majority will provide experience in bearing the real responsibilities of governance, instead of just sitting in the minority and hectoring the other side. This will be invaluable in training the next generation of federal leaders.

Finally, it’s possible that, with a majority of states under the control of a conservative party wary of federal intrusion, we may see more demands for Washington to respect the 10th amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I’m not expecting a revolutionary change, of course, but more likely incremental efforts that slow federal expansion and start to roll it back; we can expect that the federal bureaucracy, the Democrats, and their progressive allies to resist this, devoted as they are to one-size-fits-all statism. I do believe we’ll see more states join the anti-Obamacare lawsuits that, at last count, had 18-20 states joined in one suit, with Virginia pursuing its own. As someone who firmly believes that a decentralized federalism is the best way to govern a nation as vast and diverse as the United States, I’d call this a good thing.

So, while I’m sorry (so sorry) that California bucked the national trend, I’m more than ever convinced that November 2nd, 2010, was not just a good day, but a great day for Republicans, conservatives, and the nation.

LINKS: More from Moe Lane.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California’s arrogant legislature

July 11, 2010

I’ve often said in recent years that California isn’t a democracy; it’s instead an oligarchy ruled by a corrupt and distant elite in the legislature who only appear before the people when they need our votes for reelection, but otherwise ignore us and treat us as bothersome children at best.

Next November’s election will see a glaring example of that oligarchy at its arrogant best. On the list of ballot propositions sits number 27, which will eliminate the citizen’s commission created to draw legislative district boundaries and give the power to the legislature.

What’s wrong with that, you ask?

Proposition 27 is a ballot initiative that effectively repeals Proposition 11, which the voters passed in 2008 for the express purpose taking the redistricting power away from the legislature. California has long had a problem with “safe seats,” assembly and state senate seats in which the incumbent is almost guaranteed reelection because the district has been gerrymandered to give the legislator a majority of favorable voters. The result was a group of lawmakers who really had no need to listen to the voters and could rule almost as they wished – in other words, as an oligarchy.

Allowing legislators to draw their own districts is like letting corporations create territories in which they agree not to compete with each other: for customers and voters, the lack of genuine competition and choice can only work to their detriment. Proposition 11 was meant to break this corrupt arrangement, and the citizen’s commission being formed now will get its first chance to draw genuinely competitive districts next year.

Yes, that’s right. The oligarchs behind this measure are trying to gut the commission before its been tried even once. So desperate are they to protect their incumbencies (and six-figure salaries, plus hefty perks) that they are going to try to slip this sham through, hoping the public isn’t paying attention. That’s how little they think of us, even as they claim it’s for the good of the state.

And this measure is not only intended to take back for the legislature the power to draw its own districts, but also gut the intent of Proposition 20, a follow-on measure to add the drawing of congressional districts to the duties of the citizen’s commission. Democrats in the California congressional delegation fought earlier combined redistricting reform attempts tooth and nail. But now that Prop 20 looks like it has a good chance to succeed, Pelosi, Berman, and others have joined with their Sacramento colleagues to protect their own safe seats with Proposition 27 serving as a Trojan Horse.

Make no mistake: the arguments in favor of Proposition 27 are bunk. It isn’t about democracy, saving the state money, or making those who draw the districts “accountable to the voters.” (PDF. That last is one of their sick jokes, I’d guess.) It is nothing more than an attempt by the oligarchy to thwart the will of the people and  preserve their legislative fiefdoms. Don’t let them fool you. Vote no on Proposition 27 and yes on Proposition 20.

And tell the oligarchs to go to Hell.

(via FlashReport)