Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

By John Ruberry

Okay, Republicans, you have an easy lay-up shot at the basket. But of course, sure things, such as Red Wave midterm blowouts, can end up as air balls. 

America’s worst big city mayor, Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, is running for reelection. She has eight opponents, a couple of whom, such as Ja’Mal Green and the Chicago Teachers Union-endorsed Brandon Johnson, are extreme leftists who provide answers to the question, “Can Chicago have a worse mayor than Lori Lightfoot?

Chicago’s elections are non-partisan. In the likely scenario that no candidate achieves 50 percent of the vote in the first round of voting, which is February 28, the top two candidates face off in an April 4 runoff. As with the congressional midterms, polling has been all over the place in the mayoral race, but the top four candidates in terms of popularity appear to be Lightfoot, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, businessman and vote-buyer Willie Wilson, and US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. 

The Chicago mayoral race is the first major election, unless you count December’s Georgia Senate runoff race, since the collapse of cryptocurrency firm FTX.

By most accounts Garcia, who endorsed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, was the early frontrunner in the contest. But then Lightfoot went on the attack. 

You see, Garcia’s congressional campaign fund accepted $2,900 from former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who was indicted last year for charges surrounding the collapse of the crypto currency firm. Worse, SBF’s PAC, Protect our Futures, spent over $150,000 on glossy mailers sent to Chuy’s remapped and gerrymandered 4th congressional district to introduce him to new voters for the 2022 Democratic primary. Only Garcia was running unopposed in that race. Chuy is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees cryptocurrency. The $2,900 Bankman-Fried contribution to Garcia has since been donated to charity.

And Lighfoot’s attack appears to be a solid blow against Garcia in a TV spot where she connects Garcia not only to SBF, but also to former Illinois Democratic Party chairman and state House speaker, Boss Michael Madigan, who was indicted last year, as well as Chicago’s deservedly unpopular red-light cameras. 

Most of the Lightfoot attack ad against Garcia begins at the 1:22 mark in this Fox Chicago video.

The upshot? In the two most recent polls, one that you should look at with suspicion comes from an internal survey from the Lightfoot campaign, and the other one from a suburban Republican pollster, Garcia has dropped to third place. Lighfoot’s poll has her on in the lead, the other poll has Vallas in the lead with Lighfoot close behind–but both surveys have the top two in a statistical tie. 

Garcia, although he did force Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in the 2015 mayoral race, is accustomed to comfortable elections, so it might be a struggle for Chuy to fight back.

Back to the GOP.  

Republicans, you know, or should know, what to do. Target every Democrat who has taken Sam Bankman-Fried cash so hard that voters will believe that these Dems have SBF as a running mate.

Even if it means following Lori Lightfoot’s lead.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just north off Chicago at Marathon Pundit.

Feinstein official Senate photo, retrieved from her website on January 29, 2023

By John Ruberry

Nearly overlooked earlier this month because of the drawn-out vote for speaker of the House was the breaking of seven decades of precedent in the upper chamber of Congress in the election for largely ceremonial post of president pro tempore of the Senate. Largely ceremonial only up to a point, that is. The holder of that position is third-in-line in presidential succession. Every president pro tempore elected since 1949 had been the longest-serving senator from the majority party. The dean of the Senate is 89-year-old Dianne Feinstein, she has been representing California since 1992. But Patty Murray of Washington, who is a relatively spry 72, was elected president pro tempore, which ups her salary a bit and earns her a security detail.

Feinstein reportedly declined to run for president pro tempore.

Concerns about Feinstein’s mental acuity go back to 2020, when she praised then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsay Graham (R-SC) when the confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett concluded. “This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” she told Graham before hugging him, “I want to thank you for your fairness.” 

Personally, I think Graham did a decent job during those hearings, but Feinstein overlooked–or should I say she couldn’t remember–that during the Donald Trump presidency it was the duty, in the eyes of the Democrats’ hard-left base, for every Democratic member of Congress to RESIST Trump and the Republicans.

Shortly afterwards, Feinstein stepped down as the ranking Democrat of the Judiciary Committee.

Last spring, her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, spoke to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as ex-Feinstein staffers, about her mental state. And all of them, anonymously, told the Chronicle that because of memory issues, Feinstein appears unable to serve as senator.

More bluntly, in my words, it looks like Feinstein can’t do her job.

“I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone,” a California House Dem admitted to the Chronicle about Feinstein. “She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that.” 

The same article offered up this damning quote, “There’s a joke on the Hill, we’ve got a great junior senator in Alex Padilla and an experienced staff in Feinstein’s office,” a former staffer said.

Last year the New York Times described an experience that will be familiar to anyone who has witnessed a friend or relative suffering from cognitive decline.

One Democratic lawmaker who had an extended encounter with Ms. Feinstein in February said in an interview that the experience was akin to acting as a caregiver for a person in need of constant assistance. The lawmaker recalled having to reintroduce themself to the senator multiple times, helping her locate her purse repeatedly and answering the same set of basic, small-talk questions over and over again.

Tellingly, a visit to Feinstein’s Senate website offers up a photo of her that appears to be a couple of decades old. That’s the pic you see in this entry. Click here for a more recent photograph.

This month, two Democratic southern California members of the House, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, announced they are running for Feinstein’s seat–her term expires in 2025. Schiff, who repeatedly lied about having evidence proving Trump-Russia collusion, claims he informed Feinstein of his intentions. Believe that if you want to. 

Other candidates are expected to declare their candidacy. Feinstein hasn’t said anything yet, but she’s expected to announce that she will not be running for reelection. 

Clearly, Feinstein should have resigned for health reasons at least three years ago. 

One way to minimize the chances of having senators–and House members–suffering from cognitive decline is to enact congressional term limits, even though that may mean amending the Constitution. Besides, serving in Congress should be a highlight of someone’s career–not the entire career.

Feinstein’s sad situation is not unique in Washington. Two Republicans who served with Feinstein, Strom Thurmond, who ended his 48 years in the Senate at 100, and Thad Cochran, who resigned after 39 years in the Senate, suffered cognitive challenges late in their careers, as well as one Democrat, Robert Byrd–he died in office when he was 92.

For five months in 2001, at the age of 98, Thurmond was president pro tempore. And when Byrd died, he was president pro tempore of the Senate. Hey, hats off to the Democrats for bucking tradition by electing Murray over Feinstein for that post.

Besides congressional term limits, America also needs smarter voters. Although by all accounts Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is a healthy 89-year-old man. Last year he was just elected to his eighth term. Grassley is a former president pro-tempore.

Having wiser and less selfish members of Congress is probably too much to hope for.

Mental issues can burden younger persons too.

In Pennsylvania, 53-year-old Democrat John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke last year, successfully ran out the clock in his successful Senate election, despite speaking struggles in his few public appearances and a disastrous debate performance

Joe Biden turned 80 last year and he’s expected to run for reelection. Biden has had many mental miscues in his two years at president. But that’s a problem well worth another discussion.

Please don’t call me ageist. If heart ailments, cancer, accidents, or infectious diseases don’t conquer me first, I am certain that one day I will suffer from cognitive issues. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

America’s worst big city mayor, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, finds herself in trouble again. 

Last week, Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, reported that Lightfoot’s deputy campaign manager, Megan Crane, sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers and City Colleges of Chicago instructors, telling them the campaign was seeking students to volunteer as “externs” for Lightfoot’s reelection effort. “Lightfoot for Chicago is seeking resumes from any volunteer interested in campaign politics and eager to gain experience in the field,” the email read. Later in that message comes a quasi-bribe, “Externs are expected to devote 12hrs/wk to the campaign. Students are eligible to earn class credit through our volunteer program.”

When the email became public, the campaign quickly defended its call for volunteers, avowing in a statement that the request was done “to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with our campaign, learn more about the importance of civic engagement and participate in the most American of processes.”

But in a second statement, the campaign said it would “cease contact with CPS employees” citing an “abundance of caution.”

Finally, a couple of hours later, in a third statement, they finally surrendered. “All campaign staff have been reminded about the solid wall that must exist between campaign and official activities and that contacts with any city of Chicago, or other sister agency employees, including CPS employees,” the campaign said, “even through publicly available sources is off limits. Period.”

Last summer, after Willie Wilson, a gadfly candidate who is running for mayor, gathered a lot of attention for gasoline and grocery giveaways, Lightfoot followed suit with her giveaways. But unlike Wilson’s generosity, the mayor’s handouts were paid for by taxpayers.

Laura Washington, a liberal Chicago Tribune columnist, had this to say back in August in a behind-the-paywall op-ed:

Thanks to an “avalanche” of federal stimulus funds, Lightfoot is “running for reelection armed with a seemingly bottomless gift bag of giveaways that includes everything from gas cards, Ventra cards, bicycles, locks and helmets to more than $1,000-per-household in rebates to defray the cost of security cameras, outdoor motion sensor lighting, cloud storage and GPS trackers to hunt down vehicles in the event of an auto theft or carjacking,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported in June. 

Lightfoot’s “Chicago Moves,” is the city’s $12 million transit response to skyrocketing fuel costs and inflation. It will distribute up to 50,000 prepaid $150 gas cards and 100,000 prepaid $50 transit cards to Chicago residents. 

Earlier this year, Lightfoot pushed through a controversial guaranteed income program for low-income families. The pilot program will provide no-strings-attached $500 payments to 5,000 Chicago families per month for a year. The recipients were chosen through a lottery system.

“By coincidence,” Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery sarcastically opined this morning on his Flannery Fired Up program, “each [gas and public transit] card had Mayor Lighfoot’s name emblazoned right on it.”

The ACLU of Illinois forcefully condemned the campaign’s call for student volunteers. “It is striking that Mayor Lightfoot presented herself four years ago as a candidate who would eschew the old corrupt patronage ways of Chicago politics,” the ACLU of Illinois said in a statement, “Now her campaign employs practices that harken back to the worst days of the Chicago political machine.”

And the ACLU of Illinois says the call-for-volunteers email may have violated federal law.

Crime has skyrocketed since Lightfoot took office. And it shouldn’t surprise you that Chicago’s population is declining. “The city is dying,” former Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass has said at least a couple of times in his Chicago Way podcast.

Lightfoot faces eight opponents in next month’s first round of voting for mayor. In the likely scenario that no candidate achieves a majority in the initial round, the top two candidates face the voters again in April.

In the only opinion poll so far on this race, Lightfoot finished third.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By Christopher Harper

Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, where I live, launched one of the few recounts of the 2020 presidential election this week.

The recount won’t change the election results, but the inquiry should provide at least one significant example of what happened.

I don’t think the election was stolen on November 3, 2020. I think the election was stolen by various questionable laws that made it easier to vote via mail and without adequate oversight for the identification of voters.

In 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature voted to allow voters to mail in ballots for 50 days before the election and extended the time to register.

In Lycoming County, which has about 75,000 eligible voters, registered Democrats dropped by 1.3% between 2016 and 2020. But Joe Biden received nearly 30% more votes than Hillary Clinton, and Biden received 8,814 votes on Election Day and 7,911 in mail ballots.

All told, Donald Trump got 41,462 votes, or 69.8%, to 16,971 for Biden, or 28.57%.

Keep in mind Biden won the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania, a critical state in the presidential election, by 80,000 votes, 3.458 million to 3.377 million.

In a small snapshot of the Lycoming County vote in 2020, investigators found the following:

–2,590 registrations were removed from voter rolls

–268 duplicate registrations

–526 inactive voters

–55 mail-in ballots were recorded without voter identifications

–108 mail-in ballots were received after Election Day

–74 mail-in ballots were recorded from out of state

For more information, see Audit the Vote at www.auditthevotepa.com.

Jeff Stroehman, the chair of Lycoming County for Trump 2020, said it was not the group’s intention to “tear down an institution called voting, but to restore public confidence in the election process.”

The recount is expected to conclude by Friday at the cost of $55,000.

I know the recount won’t affect any election, but the inquiry should answer questions that still puzzle many people here in central Pennsylvania.