Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Blogger Candidate Forum: What Happened; August 15, 2018

Hello Everyone:

It is a very lovely Wednesday afternoon and time for Blogger Candidate Forum. Before we get going on yesterday's set of primary election, quick question, who is sick and tired of the very public, very news cycle sucking reality show shouting match between Mr. Donald Trump and former aide Omarossa Manigault-Newman?  Yours Truly is thoroughly sick and tired of these two eight-year-olds, disguised as adults, taunting each other online and in the media.  Grow up and try to act your ages not your shoe sizes.  Okay, what happened last night?

What happened last night was history. The state's of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont held their state's primaries and congratulations to all the winners.  Vermont Democrats selected Christine Hallquist, to carry the party banner in November's gubernatorial contest.  If she wins, Ms. Hallquist will be the first openly transgender governor.  Minnesota's First Congressional District Democrats chose Ilhan Omar to be their candidate in November.  If victorious, Ms. Omar would be the first Muslim and Somali-American woman to serve in the House of Representatives.  So what else happened?  Let us take a look at the highlights.

We start in bucolic Wisconsin and the governor's race.  Republican incumbent Governor Scott Walker is up for re-election and state Democrats are hoping to finally send him packing this year.  Tony Evers, the state's chief of public education, will challenge Gov. Walker in the fall.  Mr. Evers out distanced an impressive field that featured candidates endorsed by some of the Democratic party's brightest stars and indie band Bon Iver.  Defeating Gov. Walker will be a formidable challenge, having won three previous elections in eight years.  However, his failed 2016 presidential bid killed his popularity in Wisconsin, something that he has been struggling to remedy.  Co-writers Elia Nilsen, Tara Golshan, Li Zhou, et al report, "Polls show him in a tighter race this year with his Democratic challengers than in any of his past races."

Meanwhile, incumbent Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WS) is facing her first re-election and the Republicans want her seat.  However, a bruising primary has left the Republicans has put the party at risk.  Once the dust settled, Sen. Baldwin will face state senator Leah Vukmir.  The other big news from Wisconsin is the race to fill retiring Speaker of House Paul Ryan's seat.  The Democrats really, really truly madly want this seat.  Democrat union organizer and iron worker Randy Bryce bested school board member and former teacher Cathy Myers by 19-percent-points in a pitched primary battle.  He will face Republican Bryan Steil, endorsed by Speaker Ryan.  Mr. Bryce has had his share of media missteps and faced questions about previous arrests for marijuana and a DUI, and failure to pay child support.  This should be an interesting race.  Moving on to Minnesota. 

Incumbent Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is retiring and there is long list of people ready to replace him. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz beat out a field that included state Rep. Erin Murphy and Attorney General Lori Swanson. Mr. Walz represents the more conservative part of the state and is being forced to defend his previous position on guns, which earned an "A" rating from the National Rifle Assocation--a rarer for a Democrat.  He will face Republican former state Rep. Jeff Johnson, who was unsuccessful in his prior gubenatorial campaign. Mr. Johnson defeated former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has the name recognition but his disavowal of the president could hurt him with Minnesota's Trump voters.

Gov. Mark Dayton's former lieutenant governor Tina Smith (D-MN) is facing her first re-election.  Ms. Smith was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Al Franken, following allegations of sexual misconduct. Sen. Smith handily routed the competition and it was ugly.  She will face State Sen. Karin Housely, who also ran away with the victory.  Cooks Political Report; Aug. 15, 2018) rates this race as Likely Democratic.  Sen. Smith has been steadily working, caucusing with Democrats. Already popular before her appointment, Sen. Smith has a nine point lead in a hypothetical matchup with Ms. Housely (; date accessed Aug. 15, 2018).

The big news from Minnesota is the primary victory of Ilhan Omar in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District.  The seat is being vacated by Representative Keith Ellison, who is running for state attorney general.  Although Mr. Ellison was victorious in his primary, he still faces a challenge from state Rep. Doug Wardlow and questions about domestic abuse.  Ms. Omar is all but assured of her seat in November and Republicans vying for his seat.  Gov. Malloy's dwindling approval ratings, as the state deals with a stalling economy is not helping Democratic candidate, business executive, Ned Lamont.  Mr. Lamont has some name recognition from his successful progressive challenge in 2006 to then-incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman.  Senator Lieberman ran as an independent in the general election and won.  Ned Lamont will face Republican business executive Bob Stefanowski, who barely squeaked by, winning by eight-percentage points.  Cooks Political Report calls this race a toss-up (; Aug. 15, 2018).

Finally in the verdant state of Vermont Christine Hallquist will face incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott.  Despite his popularity, Gov. Scott is facing backlash over his efforts to strengthen gun control (; July 25, 2018; date accessed Aug. 15, 2018) over bills he signed in April, after police arrested a teenager planning a school shooting in Fair Haven.  The bill raised the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, enhanced background checks, banned bump stocks, and limited gun magazines.  Ms. Hallquist beat her nearest challenger by 26-percent-points.  Despite the backlash, Cooks rates this race, for now, Solid Republican (; Aug. 15, 2018). 

Last night's primary victories were definitely history making but how will translate in the fall campaigns?  Voters seem to be an a rancorous mood.  The establishment is no longer working and Democratic Socialism is not always the right answer.  Then there is the specter of impeachment.  There is no more denying the president has been tainted by the actions of his cronies during the 2016 campaign. The possibility of Democratic control of one or both houses of Congress makes impeachment proceedings a likely agenda item.  It is all speculation right now and it is a long way to November.  We will just have to wait and see. 

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