Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Economic Inequality-- Not Just Public Policy... It Starts On A Personal Level

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A lot of voters-- voters who don't know rich people, I always thought-- were impressed with Trump's claims that because he was so rich he wouldn't be susceptible to taking bribes and being a crook. Personally, I know lots of rich people so I recognized Trump was lying-- lying egregiously, tricking voters by design.

At the end of 2013, Paul Piff, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine gave the TED talk above, which I urge you to watch. Piff describes his primary academic interest as "how social hierarchy, economic inequality and social class, and social emotion shape relations between individuals and groups." Conclusion seems to be that rich people have a great tendency towards greed, avarice, entitlement, delusion about their own abilities and general sociopathic behavior. I guess it's why the French and Russian revolutions killed so many of them. It's why the year after Piff's TED Talk, billionaire Nick Hanauer warned fellow plutocrats that the pitchforks are coming. "I have," he admitted, "been rewarded obscenely for that with a life that most of you all can't even imagine: multiple homes, a yacht, my own plane, etc., etc., etc." He went on:
But let's be honest: I am not the smartest person you've ever met. I am certainly not the hardest working. I was a mediocre student. I'm not technical at all. I can't write a word of code. Truly, my success is the consequence of spectacular luck, of birth, of circumstance and of timing. But I am actually pretty good at a couple of things. One, I have an unusually high tolerance for risk, and the other is I have a good sense, a good intuition about what will happen in the future, and I think that that intuition about the future is the essence of good entrepreneurship.

So what do I see in our future today, you ask? I see pitchforks, as in angry mobs with pitchforks, because while people like us plutocrats are living beyond the dreams of avarice, the other 99 percent of our fellow citizens are falling farther and farther behind. In 1980, the top one percent of Americans shared about eight percent of national [income], while the bottom 50 percent of Americans shared 18 percent. Thirty years later, today, the top one percent shares over 20 percent of national [income], while the bottom 50 percent of Americans share 12 or 13. If the trend continues, the top one percent will share over 30 percent of national [income] in another 30 years, while the bottom 50 percent of Americans will share just six.

You see, the problem isn't that we have some inequality. Some inequality is necessary for a high-functioning capitalist democracy. The problem is that inequality is at historic highs today and it's getting worse every day. And if wealth, power, and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top, our society will change from a capitalist democracy to a neo-feudalist rentier society like 18th-century France. That was France before the revolution and the mobs with the pitchforks.

So I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It's not a matter of if, it's when. And it will be terrible when they come for everyone, but particularly for people like us plutocrats."
Piff found in his studies the same thing that Hanauer found in his own social observations: "We're at unprecedented levels of economic inequality. What that means is that wealth is not only becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a select group of individuals, but the American dream is becoming increasingly unattainable for an increasing majority of us. And if it's the case, as we've been finding, that the wealthier you are, the more entitled you feel to that wealth, and the more likely you are to prioritize your own interests above the interests of other people, and be willing to do things to serve that self-interest, well, then, there's no reason to think that those patterns will change. In fact, there's every reason to think that they'll only get worse, and that's what it would look like if things just stayed the same, at the same linear rate, over the next 20 years." Why is that important? He doesn't talk about pitchforks or guillotines or firing squads.
[I]nequality-- economic inequality-- is something we should all be concerned about, and not just because of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy, but because individuals and groups with lots of economic inequality do worse ... not just the people at the bottom, everyone. There's a lot of really compelling research coming out from top labs all over the world, showcasing the range of things that are undermined as economic inequality gets worse. Social mobility, things we really care about, physical health, social trust, all go down as inequality goes up. Similarly, negative things in social collectives and societies, things like obesity, and violence, imprisonment, and punishment, are exacerbated as economic inequality increases. Again, these are outcomes not just experienced by a few, but that resound across all strata of society. Even people at the top experience these outcomes.

So what do we do? This cascade of self-perpetuating, pernicious, negative effects could seem like something that's spun out of control, and there's nothing we can do about it, certainly nothing we as individuals could do. But in fact, we've been finding in our own laboratory research that small psychological interventions, small changes to people's values, small nudges in certain directions, can restore levels of egalitarianism and empathy. For instance, reminding people of the benefits of cooperation or the advantages of community, cause wealthier individuals to be just as egalitarian as poor people.
This is the kind of solidarity Randy "IronStache" Bryce's campaign-- in fact his whole brand-- is all about. The DCCC is desperate to figure out how to duplicate Bryce's brand. Ben Ray Lujan himself showed up in Racine to see what he could discern. He couldn't discern anything, of course. Bryce has a more powerful brand than any DCCC candidate. He's raising more campaign funds-- from more people-- than any DCCC candidate. Why? Bryce, a union activist, is all about solidarity. The DCCC New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party don't know what solidarity is. They've never felt it, not for a moment in their lives. They won't ever represent us. Randy and candidates like him will represent real people DCCC-New Dem garbage careerist candidates are the enemy of regular people. They stink. Are they better than Republicans? Sure-- more or less. Are they worth a bucket of spit? No? A bucket of piss? No. Should you vote for them? Certainly not in a primary. Against a Republican in November? Make up your own mind about that. I wouldn't. I've never voted for my Blue Dog-New Dem congressman, Adam Schiff, since he was first elected. And I never will. I've never voted for California Senator Dianne Feinstein, not when she ran for the Board of Supervisors, for mayor of San Francisco, for governor or for senator. She represents wealthy special interests, not me and not the issues or values I care about.

Goal ThermometerThere's a reason I asked Kansas Democrat James Thompson to put an exclamation point on the end of this post. This is heavy... and if you find it as compelling as I do, please consider contributing to his campaign at the ActBlue 2018 congressional thermometer on the right.
As someone who was once homeless, I understand better than most the pain and struggle of being truly poor. As I have climbed the ladder of success, I witnessed firsthand that the ladders are not equal; they are not the same for every person. Some are shorter, some are longer, and some don't have a ladder at all, but rather an elevator that only stops at the penthouse. I do not hate the rich. I want to be rich myself. What I find offensive is not the wealth but the greed. The type of greed that pushes people down rather than pulling everyone up. Income inequality is the greatest injustice of our time because it creates so much other injustice in its wake in areas such as criminal justice reform, healthcare, sex trafficking, racism, sexism, employment, campaign finances etc. When our children are sick, should we not be able to get them care? When men and women give of themselves a full days labor for the betterment of our society, should they not enjoy a full days wages that allows them the basic dignity of taking care of themselves and their family. Shouldn't a poor man's vote count just as much as the rich man's?

The true battle for our country's future is not between the left and the right, but between the top and the bottom. Charles Koch is credited with saying "I only want my fair share. ALL OF IT!", which highlights the greed of the privileged princes of Wall Street. Through corporate socialism over the past 40 years, a/k/a "trickle down economics," the billionaire boys club redistributed the wealth of this country to themselves and now use that wealth to pay for the oppression of working people by sewing division and keeping the masses in disarray. The shadow oligarchy controlling this country knows that a populace divided by racism, sexism and xenophobia cannot unite sufficiently to wrest power from them or their puppets in Congress. However, while much of our country's wealth is concentrated in a relative few individuals such as the KOCH brothers, the real power of this country is located in the people, working class people, but only if we unite, for with unity comes great strength and power to demand change.

Consequently, campaign finance reform is probably the most pressing issue confronting Americans in 2018 and 2020. We must fix the system, before we can fix the problems in the system. We must remove the ability of corporations to control our political arenas and representatives by reversing Citizen's United.  We must than ensure that working people are paid a fair days pay for a fair days labor and moving our minimum wages to $15 and adjusting it annually based on inflation.  Next, we must make sure that the product of our labor is no longer amassed by the rich but instead remains with us through a fair and progressive tax policy. Passing a Medicare-for-all policy that at minimum contains a public option, will guarantee working Americans are no longer slaves to the grind simply working for their healthcare and instead are free to move from job to job and maximize the fruit of their labor. Finally, we must guarantee education for all citizens at public universities to remove the anchor of student loans from around the neck of our populace. To "make America great again" we must restore our democracy to one that again enables social mobilization instead of the veiled caste system that we have become. United we stand, divided we fall.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

To those who marched, we salute you!

I'm happy to see marches like the ones we saw this past weekend and I'd like to see more of them with even more people. It's a measure of how evil Trump and his party and their policies are that more people, true patriots, march in protest of Trump-style institutionalized misogyny and more than attended his sad little inauguration. But, although the gesture is excellent, we need more. Step it up. We need maximum voter turnout in November and I happen to think that, between now and November, a series of national strikes would make a continuing statement. So would accelerated derision aimed directly at an insecure mess like Trump. Personally, I've been enjoying the wave of snarky negative Shithole reviews Señor Trumpanzee's hotels have been getting on Yelp. Release the hounds!

I'd like to see lots of things, like Democrats growing some balls and giving as good as they get from psychopaths like Señor Trumpanzee, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, instead of behaving like cowed little wimps. Too many of them go along to get along, if only because they are really just Republicans with a D next to their name, owned by the same people.

Unfortunately, some of the things I see in my mind's eye may not be exactly legal, even if they are moral. How else do you fight an amoral enemy who lives on your tax dollars, inflicts human misery on you, and smiles? At least some marchers realize that politicians will do nothing, unless we grab them by whatever hurts and hurts bad.

Meanwhile, I do like some signs that protesters brought to the marches. Here's a few:

From New York City:



From Los Angeles:



From Philadelphia:



Trump, of course, didn't get it at all, issuing a mocking tweet:


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Monday, January 22, 2018

Marianne Williamson And Bernie Sanders-- Taking To The Road To Help Save America

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A little over a month ago we looked at Marianne Williamson's plans for a national tour-- the Love America Your. It's not a plan anymore. She's right in the middle of it, having completed events in Richmond, Winston-Salem (with Jenny Marshall), Houston, Austin (with Derrick Crowe) and Las Vegas. She's taking a break now and then picking up again in Florida in March.

But her event in Houston was very special-- even mind-blowing-- and it was covered by two Houston Chronicle reporters, one black (Joy Sewing) and one white (Erica Grieder). "Marianne Williamson walked to the middle of the stage," wrote Sewing, "paused for a second, then she asked all the black people to stand." There were nearly a thousand people in the room and 200, including Sewing, stood up.
The New York Times best-selling author, internationally known spiritual teacher and native Houstonian was in town recently for her "Love America Tour" at Unity of Houston. She urged the 200 of us from our seats. She then instructed a white person to hold the hand of a black person standing.

A white woman and a teenage girl who looked to be mother and daughter in the row behind me took my hand and arm.

Williamson then told the white people to repeat after her. She began with, "I apologize..."

I was at Williamson's event to celebrate my birthday, January 15, the same as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Each year, I try to attend a talk, lecture or event for my birthday that inspires and uplifts as he did. This year, it was Williamson's sell-out talk at Unity Church with some 700 people in attendance.

Her focus was on racism and politics, saying that until the United States addresses slavery honestly, gets deep about its enduring impact on African Americans and makes amends, we will continue a cycle of hate and racism in this country.

She cited Germany's effort to apologize to Jewish people for the Holocaust and pay out billions in reparations.

According to the New York Times, many Germans are not even aware that their country, after paying $89 billion in compensation mostly to Jewish victims of Nazi crimes over six decades, still meets regularly to revise and expand the guidelines for reparations. The mission is to reach as many of the tens of thousands of elderly survivors who have never received any form of support.

The U.S. State Department also has paid or approved 90 claims for $11 million in reparations from France to former World War II prisoners who were carried to Nazi death camps in French trains — the first French reparations paid to Holocaust survivors living in the U.S.

Reparations, even the "forty acres and a mule" promised in part by General William Tecumseh Sherman on Jan. 16, 1865, to former slaves, has been an ongoing debate in this country, but that's not really what Williamson focused on.

A black woman stood up and told Williamson, who is Jewish, she was struggling to deal with the hurt and hate in her heart for white people because of racism. Williamson said one of the problems is that many white people are in denial about racism, don't want to talk about it and want black people to "get over it."

Black people are angry, and it's understandable, she said.

Unfortunately, anger is our Achilles' heel.

A colleague, whom I have tremendous respect for, once asked me why many black people are so angry today. I responded with, "Why aren't you angry?"

She looked at me with a puzzled stare.

I explained that ending racism is just as much a responsibility for her white community to "get it" as it is for my black community to "explain it." Frankly, I said many of us are tired of explaining racist actions and racially insensitive and dismissive messages that permeate our world.

It's time for white people to get it and speak up, too. That's why Williamson's apology to African Americans at Unity was so powerful.

In 2016, she penned, Prayer of Apology to African Americans, and shared it on Twitter.

"With this prayer I acknowledge the depth of evils that have been perpetrated against black people in America... I apologize, please forgive us."

Before she even started, I felt on edge as I often feel when white people say things, like "You don't talk black." Honestly, I was waiting to be offended.

With nearly 200 black people in the audience on their feet, Williamson apologized for slavery, lynching, murders, rapes of black women, destruction of the black family, mass incarceration of black men, being called the N-word and systemic and institutionalized racism and more.

As she continued for what seemed like forever, I felt a rage boiling inside of me that was followed by a Viola Davis ugly cry. (Fans of Davis in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder know what I'm talking about.)

I never thought I needed an apology from white people, but it felt like I was crying for my grandmother, my great-grandmother and all my people who endured and died because of hate in this country.

I cried for all of the times I've felt marginalized, discriminated against and invisible because of the color of my skin, even in my own industry.

I cried for all of the times I've watched black children, especially girls, had their esteem beaten down to nothing because they didn't fit the standard of white beauty.

I cried because I didn't know how deep the hurt was.

I could not stop crying.

I opened my eyes to see everyone around me-- white, black, Asian like my friend, Sydney Dao, who is Vietnamese-- crying, too. I nearly collapsed to floor from the emotional weight I was feeling.

But the harder I cried, the tighter the white woman and girl held on to me.

There was a white man in the front pew who had turned around to face the entire audience. He had no one black to hold onto, but he seemed to be shouting Williamson's words for me to hear.

It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever had.

On my way out, I whispered "thank you" to the white woman and girl who held onto me so tightly. They had kind eyes and thanked me back.

Marianne Williamson is right. We need healing. We need real talk about racism in this country. It's time for white people to get it.

An apology is a start.
Chronicle columnist Erica Grieder hadn't planned on attending; she didn't really know who Marianne is and hadn't read any of her books. "I really had no idea what to expect," she wrote. "On Williamson's website, the tour is billed as an effort to promote political renewal via 'a revolution in consciousness.' Fear and hatred, the site explains, have become powerful forces in politics. In Williamson's view, we can harness the powers of love and decency in response-- and, if our democracy is to survive, we must." Grieder noted that just hours before Marianne took the stage, Trump blurted out his ugly bigoted statement about people from "shithole countries."

She began by emphasizing how important it is for Americans to know the history of our nation, and to be clear-eyed about both its virtues and its flaws, and the contradictions that they reflect. We're the only country founded on small-d democratic principles, for example, but many of the men who signed the Constitution, which enshrines those principles, nonetheless owned slaves.

Since then, in Williamson's telling, the Americans who want to realize those ideals have been in a constant struggle against those who would rather not, for various reasons. Perhaps they're beneficiaries of an unjust status quo, or are subconsciously seeking to re-create a regime in which the people are subordinate to an entitled aristocracy.



The latter, Williamson continued, currently have the upper hand. And so it's incumbent on spiritual and religious communities to lead the change-- as, historically, they always have.

"People just being anti-slavery was not going to end slavery," she noted. They had to actually do something, as the Quakers did in the abolitionist movement, or as Martin Luther King Jr. did in the fight for civil rights.

But what struck me most in Williamson's talk was her explanation for why spiritual and religious communities step up to the plate.

"We don't believe in a God out there, and a devil out there, that is stalking the planet, trying to grab men's souls. We believe in something in here," she said, pointing at her head.

That being the case, spiritual and religious Americans agree that there is a world beyond the world in which we live-- a "truer reality," according to our beliefs. A world in which people are equal, and truly free.

Like all Americans, we also believe that's how things should be in this world, or at least in this country. But religious communities have, historically, been leaders in so many fights for change.

Beliefs can't be quantified, measured, or documented; as Williamson put it, the truth sometimes "becomes out-pictured" by the proximate reality. But when political leaders are flouting basic American principles, spiritual and religious Americans often object, because our civic beliefs are often reinforced by our beliefs about the truer reality.

Williamson is right, I think, about the powers of love and decency: They can harnessed, for political purposes, and should be channeled into actions accordingly. Voting is one example. Another would be pointing out that Trump's comments on Thursday should be offensive to all Americans, regardless of their political beliefs. As Americans, we believe that all people are created equal, even if they come from suboptimal countries; that is a foundational premise of this one, which Trump supposedly leads.
They have different ways of going about it but Marianne and Bernie-- who are admirers of each other-- have similar goals. Earlier today, Bernie sent his supporters about how can push back against the toxic and devastating Republican agenda. "This government shutdown and budget fight in Washington," he wrote, "is also about our priorities as a nation. Republicans want massive increases in military spending while refusing to address the crises we face in health care, education, college affordability, infrastructure and more... From coast to coast Americans want a government that represents all of us, not the 1 percent. They don't want congressional leadership that has tried repeatedly to throw tens of millions of people off their health insurance and then looted the U.S. Treasury to give massive tax breaks to their fat cat donors. This right-wing Republican leadership has got to go! And we are the ones who have to send them packing." And, like Marianne, he's getting on the road, to help foster change.
How we win is straightforward. We have all witnessed the power of grassroots politics. Whether it was the 2016 primary campaign, the millions of women who took to the streets, the people from all walks of life who showed up at airports to protest the bigoted Trump Muslim ban, or the overwhelming majority standing with our Dreamer brothers and sisters, the message is clear. When we stand together we can build the America we all want to see.

Grassroots efforts have been successful in electing new progressive voices from all walks of life in places like Virginia, New York, Alabama, Mississippi and elsewhere. Grassroots efforts can transform this country. But we have to redouble our efforts if we are going to wrest our country back from those whose greed and dishonesty is destroying it.

That is why I want to announce to you a major new three-part initiative for this year and how you can be part of the fight to take our country back.

First, I am committing to travel the country in support of progressives running up and down the ballot. Like I did when together we rallied millions against the Republicans' failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I intend to go to every corner of this country to help build the electoral wave that will sweep Republicans out of the Congress, out of governors' mansions, out of state houses and out of city and town halls.

I hope in my travels that I will see you at these events. Your attendance is critically important to showing the strength of our movement and our resolve.

Second, as we work to create Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, I will be giving special focus to a core group of up-and-coming progressive candidates at the national and state level. We need progressive Democrats who are going to vigorously stand up against Republicans and fight for our values. But the only way they win is if we help them.

These are the type of candidates who do not draw big dollar contributions but they can prevail if we provide them the small dollar, grassroots support they need. As we introduce this growing list of candidates to you over the next couple of months I hope you will give them the support they need to carry our fight forward in their primaries and in the general election.

Finally, I am excited to announce that we will be reactivating the distributed organizing network that was at the heart of our grassroots success in 2015/2016. This will give us the capacity to reach out to millions of households by phone, by email, on social media and by text message.

This will give each of you the power to help elect progressives and defeat Republicans all across the country.

What we have seen over the last depressing year is a full out assault on working people of all races, an assault on marginalized communities and an assault on people based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.

Goal ThermometerTrump and the Republicans want to divide and conquer while the billionaire class laughs all the way to the bank and the rest of America falls further and further behind. We cannot let them do it.

The late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan summed it up so well when she described the aspiration of everyone in this country-- "What the people want is very simple-- they want an America as good as its promise."

Creating that America has been the motivation of my entire political life. I have always believed that together we could make it a reality. Even in these dire times, I feel it more strongly than ever.
See that thermometer on just above, on the right? If you donate on the page that leads to, the contributions go to Bernie's federal campaign account-- either his Senate campaign or... Well, as you know, 2020 is just around the corner. You can probably guess who we're supporting (again).



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Trump’s Psychopathology and the Government Shutdown

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-by Helen Klein

What is becoming increasingly clear is that despite Dr. Ronny Jackson’s gushing superlatives about Trump’s clean bill of health that extend beyond the physical, Trump’s personality make up and his mental/cognitive functioning are dead center in this shutdown mess. All arrows point to Trump. Now that the Republicans have hit a wall with Trump during the negotiations, even they are being forced to recognize his impairments in judgment and decision making, although of course they won’t do anything about it. They cannot help but realize with increasing disgust that they cannot control him, nobody can control him and he is one sick and crazy dude. Hello!

Is Graham going to make another about turn in his view of Trump? Compare his quote from February 2016, “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office,” to his quote in November 2017, “What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label [Trump] some kind of kook not fit to be president.” He may soon need to eat those words.

Dr. Jackson’s findings and conclusions regarding Trump’s recent physical were discussed in a DWT post a few days ago, The Physical, by this author.


Kurtz, who worked at The Post from 1981 to 2010, writes that Trump’s aides even privately coined a term for Trump’s behavior-- “Defiance Disorder.” The phrase refers to Trump’s seeming compulsion to do whatever it is his advisers are most strongly urging against, leaving his team to handle the fallout.

Dana Milbank, in his January 17 editorial in the Washington Post, “Is Trump’s Doctor Okay?” was “alarmed, not about the President’s health but the doctor’s.”
And not just his heart! The doctor rhapsodized about Trump’s vision, his stamina (“more energy than just about anybody”) and above all his mental acuity, which, Jackson made sure to note, he examined only “because the president asked me to.” Trump is “very sharp, and he’s very articulate... Very, very sharp, very intact... Absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever... The president did exceedingly well.”
From "The Physical:"
In conclusion, while Trump’s basic general health appears satisfactory, Jackson’s presentation of the findings leaves much to be desired and is alarming to many. His use of over the top superlatives was unwarranted and uncalled for. His conclusions about Trump’s mental, cognitive and language skills are well beyond that indicated from a routine physical and appear misleading, unethical, unprofessional and even untrustworthy. Unfortunately, Jackson gives the impression of being a political lackey rather than a professional doctor of medicine. This is worrisome. One wonders if there were any findings he is hiding.
On Twitter, Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone and Matt Damon humorously questioned even the factual aspects of the findings.





Here are some excerpts from Gail Collins’ January 17 editorial in the New York Times, Donald Trump Gets His Sanity Grades:
Donald Trump has passed his mental test. This may come as either a relief or a shock.

But the big news was the mental test. Trump took something called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and got a perfect score. Not perhaps the highest bar possible, unless you were concerned about whether he can identify pictures of animals and draw hands on a clock. But the test can be useful if there is, for some reason, concern that the subject is suffering from... um, dementia.

But about the president’s mental report. It didn’t measure judgment, and there was no score to indicate whether the test-taker would, if faced with a question of what to do about immigration policy, change his position 12 times in 24 hours. Whether he would confide to several million Twitter followers that the country “needs a good shutdown”? Whether he thinks of himself as a “very stable genius.”

Maybe Jackson could have given him a passing grade without going so far over the deep end. Something like: “Identified the camel picture, and no problems you could lock him up for.”

So here we are. Our current president is in O.K. physical condition and has “absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever.” The doctor says so. And really, he’s doing better than Woodrow Wilson, his jaw is intact and everything’s fine, unless you count a terrible attention deficit disorder and rampaging narcissism as mental issues. If so, they don’t come up on that test with the camel.
Up top you can watch Saturday Night Live's lovely skit about Dr. Jackson. Hopefully heron't be a recurring character.

Mental and cognitive issues and jokes aside, the bottom line in this shutdown mess is Trump’s psychiatric issues. These have been described in the media by a variety of professionals and were also reviewed in a previous DWT post. Concern in this realm is really nothing new, but it keeps getting buried in importance. Now it is raising its ugly head and is an unavoidable aspect of the mess we are in.

Trump has a mental disorder, Dr. Jackson. While an assessment along these lines is not part of a routine physical, you had no professional basis for any statement ruling this out.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a key player here, which Howard Dean noted last week on Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word on MSNBC. Even a superficial glance at the designated features listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- Fifth Edition, the bible for mental health professionals, reflects a slam dunk for Trump – he meets all 9 features, well beyond the required 5 for the diagnosis.

Here is a refresher to remind everyone what we are dealing with:
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The definition of NPD states that it comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):
A grandiose logic of self-importance
A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
A desire for unwarranted admiration
A sense of entitlement
Interpersonally oppressive behavior
No form of empathy
Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes
A summary of the features is helpful:
The most important characteristics of NPD are grandiosity, seeking excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy. These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, these patients act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.
Malignant Narsissism, while not an official DSM-5 category, zeros in on other factors affecting Trump’s recalcitrant stance and blatant unconcern about the shutdown. Trump has no conscience. He thrives on causing disorder, mayhem and destruction. He gets a kick out of others’ misery. Now he has the power of the Office of the President to create chaos on a YUGE scale. Sad to say, he may be finding this reinforcing. The only downside for him is that he had to miss the one-year celebration party in Florida. Naturally, this was held anyway to rake in lots of bucks.
Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism. Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.
All Aboard! by Nancy Ohanian

This description is particulary noteworthy regarding Trump. He is certainly raising hostility levels, undermining our institutions and demeaning those around him.

To distinguish between narcissist and malignant narcissist:
A narcissist will deliberately damage other people in pursuit of their own selfish desires, but may regret and will in some circumstances show remorse for doing so, while a malignant narcissist will harm others and enjoy doing so, showing little empathy or regret for the damage they have caused.
Unfortunately, Trump appears to fit the latter description.

Furthermore, Eric Fromm, the social psychologist who coined the term Malignant Narcissism in 1964, described it as a “severe mental illness” representing “the quintessence of evil” and “the most severe pathology and the root of the most vixious destructiveness and inhumanity.” The British psychoanalysist, Herbert Rosenfield, decribed this condition as “a disturbing form of narcissistic personality where grandiosity is built around aggression and the destructive aspects of the self become idealized.”

Trump has never been held accountable for his behavior so why should he be now? Frankly, HE DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT. He has demonstrated over and over that he does not care about our country, our democracy, our institutions, the American people or the planet for that matter. He only cares about himself. He seems to enjoy denigrating others and take pleasure in their suffering. He is clearly a RACIST who has no compassion whatsoever for the Dreamers-- as far as he is concerned, they could be shipped back to whereever (aka their “shithole” countries). And he has Miller and Cotton, two evil anti-immigrant racists, whispering in his ear to keep him on track lest he be influenced in another direction. He has extremist minders keeping him in their clutches. They will likely hover at any future meetings.



A brief look at his behavioral history stemming from childhood is notable. He punched his second grade teacher in the face! His father sent him to military school because of his unruly uncontrollable behavior. He appears to have had Conduct Disorder, another DSM-5 category. Trump has always has been a bully who has bulldozed his way into adulthood using threats and intimidation. He has never kept his promises-- he has cheated a long trail of contractors and workers without the slightest guilt. He has shown no morality or ethics and a complete disregard for the law. And he has always gotten away with it! To him, scoffing at rules has been highly effective and this has become his M.O. He has NEVER been held accountable for his criminal shenanigans. What are a few fines here and there (e.g., $25 million for Trump University)? (One question that arises is - how has he managed to snub the justice system and the IRS for his extensive money laundering, which has apparently been going on for decades? This does not say much for our justice system).

Trump has a low bar for whom he associates with-- he is loyal to no one. All he cares about is how he will personally benefit from relationships. “He sucks up and shits down.” He was in bed with the Italian mafia for many years-- this is covered in a documentary film by the Dutch, for one-- and later with the Russian mafia for more than a decade. As Simpson from Fusion testified to the House Intelligence Committee, the Russian mafia, the Russian security services and the Russian government are all entwined and headed by Putin. Many Russians danced at Trump’s Inaugural balls. The extensive list of the folks surrounding Trump in the White House as well as many of his appointees SCREAM of Russia. Does he care one whit about being a traitor? He has shown over and over that he does not. He carries on about The Wall but not about Russian interference in our democracy, the greatest threat to our security in history. Trump admires Putin and loves Russia!



Trump is likely running around the White House rubbing his hands with glee about the shutdown. Too bad Wolff is no longer there to supply us with some juicy quotes. Trump has stated that what our country needs is “a good shutdown.” He loves confrontations. He loves blowing things up. He never backs down. He loves sticking it to others in the face. Malignant narcissism is written all over this. Putin must be laughing his head off. Trump has brought us down. He is destroying our government one tantrum at a time.

Trump does not even care about his positions on much of anything, which shift back and forth with the wind. This weekend Schumer said that negotiating with Trump is like negotiating with “Jell-O.” Even McConnell said he has no clue what Trump wants. Trump enjoys keeping everyone guessing and on tenderhooks. He is the all powerful, the master of the universe. His ego is on steroids.

His ignorance is YUGE. He does not read, he does not listen, he does not attend, he does not process. His speech is off topic and incoherent, a “word salad.” He makes Sarah Palin look like an orator. Trump may well have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a Language Disorder (some indications of a language disorder are reduced vocabulary (word knowledge and use), limited sentence structure (e.g., ability to put words and endings together to form sentences based on the rules of grammar) and impairments of discourse (e.g., ability to use vocabulary and connect sentences to explain or describe a topic or series of events).

Thus Trump appears to be a man with many clinical diagnoses. He thrives on chaos and consults only himself in the mirror, as he knows better than everyone. He has no idea of the costs, human or financial, of a shutdown that may continue for weeks. And as long as he does not personally have to pay for it out of his own pocket, he does not care. He continues to enrich himself on our dime. He is thrilled that there is a domestic crisis. He loves being the center of attention, and that he surely is. His delusions of grandeur are our reality.

It seems doubtful that Trump will back down or that the right wingers in the House will either.

In a January 17 piece, Trump’s Enablers Destroy Their Reputations for Nothing, Brian Buetler writes:
In this world, they (McConnell and Ryan) are too ineffectual and paralyzed by fear of Trump’s outbursts to negotiate with Democrats in good faith, even when they know they need Democratic votes to keep the government from shutting down.

After a year of abdicating their constitutional obligations on Trump’s behalf, he returns the favor by making routine governance impossible.

The precise mechanisms are different, but in one respect, they’re suffering the same fate as Graham. Like him, they put a career’s worth of political cache on the line for Trump without condition, and in both cases he flushed it unblinkingly down the shithole.
It seems we will be in shutdown mode for a long haul. I hope I am wrong.


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Orange County Sleazebag Mike Levin Makes His Move To Poison The Well Against Doug Applegate

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Blue Dog/New Dem Adam Schiff, like Levin, is a client of crooked operative, Parke Skelton who has  made all his easily corrupted clients endorse ultra WEAK, WEAK, WEAK candidate Mike Levin

Last week, establishment political commentator Matt Bai wrote in regard to the Democratic Party that "last time out, the party’s governing apparatus rallied fiercely to the side of the establishment favorite and actively sought to marginalize resistance. Look where it got them. Democrats have concluded, reasonably, that there’s a lesson to be learned from the last war, which is that the establishment can no longer dictate choices to the electorate and expect to win." As we tried pointing out yesterday, much of the California Democratic establishment has not learned that lesson and is busy attempting to clear the field of progressives in order to advantage corrupt New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. In disgusted, Bai mentioned how "untested politicians and zillionaires" are jockeying to be contenders in the 2020 presidential race.

Look at the California congressional races where the DCCC is just drooling over super-rich joke candidates in district after district, including clowns like "ex"-Republican lottery winner and carpet-bagger Gil Cisneros (who has been buying endorsements with his lottery winnings from grotesquely corrupt politicians), an absurd Qualcomm heiress, Sarah Jacobs, who seems to think politics is about buying elections (encouraged in this by political grifter Achim Bergmann), stem cell Canadian entrepreneur Hans Keirstead and half a dozen others, each one more absurd than the other, and each one eager to squeeze out legitimate policy and public service-oriented candidates like Katie Porter, Laura Oatman, Katie Hill... Oh year, I forgot to mention that the right-wing imbecile the DCCC sent to California to take over, Kyle Layman, doesn't think women should be in politics above the PTA level and tells women candidates who approach him to go talk to EMILY's List.

In his post Bai was fretting about the Democrats "overlearning" the lesson of shoving Hillary up the asses of Democratic voters.
Start with this: Why did Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, and why did all of his adversaries look so small and feckless in comparison?

...Trump won the war of attrition because the rest of the more conventional field was so impossibly fractured and muddled that having an unshakable 25 or 30 percent of the vote behind him was enough to get him through. And there are structural reasons it happened this way.

In years past, if you were a governor or senator who wanted to become president, you generally wouldn’t just declare yourself a candidate and dive in. The limited base of supporters in your own state, where people knew you, wasn’t enough to bankroll an entire campaign.

If you were serious about winning, you needed to convince a bunch of other governors or senators to swing their support behind you, thus tapping into their supporters, too. Which is why we never saw more than a couple of governors running for president at the same time; the rules had a way of naturally winnowing the field.

But then came the advent of the so-called super-PAC, with unlimited contributions. Now, if you had even one wealthy supporter who was willing to write you a series of checks, or if you had that kind of fortune yourself, you could afford to run for president whether anyone other than your spouse thought it was a good idea or not.

...The lesson is this: When a field is divided 20 different ways among a bunch of candidates who cancel each other out, the candidate who makes a loud, emotional or even outrageous appeal can incite enough of a disenchanted plurality to win.

Now, I know what Democrats are going to say to this, which is that their electorate believes in governing experience, and they don’t have a candidate who is as odious as Trump. No one’s going to solidify a quarter of the Democratic vote by preaching bigotry and failing to demonstrate even a passing knowledge of policy.
True enough, but in the congressional races what you have are a lot of conservative-leaning establishment candidates from the Republican wing of the party preaching a GOP-lite message that flies in the face of the zeitgeist and the energy that stokes the all-important enthusiasm gap between the Democrats and the Republicans. (Democrats have been winning special elections because of this gap.)

Probably the dirtiest campaign in California is the one transplanted DC slime-bucket Ira Lechner is conducting for his worthless candidate Mike Levin for the San Diego/Orange County seat Darrell Issa is fleeing from. Issa is fleeing because he doesn't want to face Marine Col. Doug Applegate again. Applegate's out of the blue campaign last cycle was the last congressional race to be decided. That's because it was so close. Despite being outspent $6,275,754 to $2,041,091, Applegate nearly beat Issa:
Issa- 155,888 (50.3%)
Applegate- 154,267 (49.7%)
During that race Levin sat on his hands, raising money for Hillary Clinton but pointedly never saying a word about Darrell Issa or doing anything to help Applegate, perhaps angry that Applegate was a Bernie Sanders supporter while he backed the status quo candidate of the Democratic establishment. Below is the poisonous memo the Levin campaign sent out to pre-endorsement delegates and members of Congress last week, something that flies right in the face of a poll that shows Applegate with almost 4 times the support from CA-49 votes than the 9% that goes to Levin, who is trying to get the establishment forces to clear the field (of front-runner Doug Applegate by dragging up Issa's discredited talking points from 2016):
Issa not seeking re-election has made the 49th a lot harder, not easier, for Dems. Two strong Reps (Assemblymember Rocky Chavez and BOE member Diane Harkey) will take almost all of the GOP vote and split it fairly evenly. With 4 Democratic candidates in the race, there is almost no way to keep the general from becoming a Rep/Rep runoff. Under the top two law, no one can run as a write in in the general. The seat would be lost. The Dem Party must unite behind the strongest candidate-- and there can be no more than 2 strong Democrats on the ballot.

• Mike Levin is the strongest candidate.
• Mike has raised over $1.225 million. 11,000 donors averaging just over $100.
• Strong field campaign, already called and walked through entire district
• Outstanding endorsements: a dozen local Democratic Mayors and City Councilmembers, National Organization for Women, DFA, PCCC, Congressional Hispanic Caucus
• Already has good support in CA delegation (Barragan, Cardenas, Gomez, Schiff)
• Best candidate profile.

• Mike is the ONLY candidate who can get a CA Democratic Party endorsement. No one else is close. A united Party is the best way to limit the field and consolidate Democratic votes. He is only 3 votes short of the number needed with 7 undecideds. A strong signal from the CA delegation could secure this.

• Applegate is very weak.
• Not raising money. His COH increased by just $500 last period. Not working hard.
• Campaign in chaos, CM and Field Director resigned
• Negatives against him are devastating: Domestic violence restraining order, went to court to try to cut his child support payments by 75%, tried to get out of paying for health care for his kids; unethical practices as lawyer, shady mortgage lending business during the housing melt down, multiple FEC violations since 2016 election.
• Applegate as nominee will put the seat in jeopardy.

• Jacobs is weak.
• 28, has not lived in district since high school.
• Just 2 years of work actual experience.
• Claims to be a former State Department official when, in reality, she worked for just over a year for a company that had a contract with the State Department
• No significant endorsements in district or campaign structure
• Solely dependent on wealthy family
• Just got into race. Last in, first out makes sense.

• Negatives on Mike are weak and easily answered.

• Countrywide: As a young lawyer at a big law firm, ML was assigned some cases involving Countrywide foreclosures. All were suits brought by an unethical lawyer who was defrauding desperate homeowners (he was later disbarred) and all suits were thrown out. (State Sen. Ben Allen was also a lawyer at the same firm and handled a few of the cases as well) Mike’s father was foreclosed on by Countrywide.
• Exxon. Mike’s clean energy firm installed carbon recapture technology on an Exxon plant to help reduce carbon emissions. Mike never “worked for Exxon.”
Levin spent his career as a lobbyist and has sorely tried to hide that, calling himself, when someone asks, "a Director of Government Affairs," a polite way of saying a lobbyist, in his case lobbying for "clean coal" and a Russian energy company. But what Levin is most freaked out about-- as he should be-- is his role in the Countrywide scandal, which he downplays and poo-poos.



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This Year's Gubernatorial Races-- How Republicans, Steeped In Denial About A Blue Wave, See Them

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Blue America is primarily a PAC that vets and supports candidates running for the House. That's our bailiwick. We get involved with a few Senate races and a handful of state legislative races and in 2016, for the first time, a presidential race, now a 2020 presidential race. This year we're also involved in trying to help a few gubernatorial races... just a few.

Will the blue wave which looks like it will wipe out Ryan and his congressional caucus, spill over into the gubernatorial races. I think so; others don't. Yesterday Reid Wilson, writing for The Hill tried answering the question why Democrats keep winning special elections, noting that "Republicans across the country were shaken this week when Democrat Patty Schachtner won a special election in a rural Wisconsin district that President Trump won by 17 points. In a tweet after the polls closed, Gov. Scott Walker (R) called the results "a wake up call for Republicans in Wisconsin." Scott Walker is running for reelection himself this year. And Wisconsin looks like a big target for the blue wave.
The race, and others like it since Trump’s inauguration, should sound alarm bells for Republicans across the country. Schachtner’s victory was just the latest special election where Democratic voters showed up to the polls up at higher rates than Republicans.

Schachtner took 12,139 votes in Tuesday’s election, about a third of the total vote that the last Democratic candidate in the district won. But her Republican opponent, state Rep. Adam Jarchow, took 9,865 votes-- just 11 percent of the total the last Republican incumbent won.

That difference in drop-off, pollsters and voter targeting experts say, is the result of the advantage that Democrats now have when it comes to voter enthusiasm-- a gap that might be a harbinger of major Democratic gains in this fall’s midterm elections.

...The dozens of special elections that have occurred since Trump took office indicate the enthusiasm gap is real: Compared with prior elections, Democratic voters have shown up at higher rates in ordinarily low-turnout special elections than Republicans have.

...[I]n special elections during the Trump era, a clear pattern has emerged. Of the 98 special legislative elections over the last year, 37 were held in districts that were contested by both parties both in the specials and in the last regularly scheduled election. In 27 of those 37 seats, Democrats have seen their vote shares increase.

...A Pew Research Center survey released this week shows 69 percent of Democrats and lean Democratic voters say they are “looking forward” to the midterm elections. In contrast, just 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters say they are eager to vote in November.
Goal ThermometerThere's no reason to think that the blue wavier going to sweep away members of the House and Senate and state legislators and ignore Scott Walker and other GOP governors and GOP gubernatorial candidates. RRH Elections did a thorough-- and very right wing look at this years gubernatorial races around the country. It's a best case scenario for the Republicans. Lets; look at a few key races they've analyzed in depth. The Blue America gubernatorial thermometer on the right is for contributing to proven progressives in a few races.Take a look.

Now remember as you're reading, this is strictly an admitted analysis from the right, not a non-partisan view:
Illinois

The second half of 2017 was far from kind to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). After spending the first two years fighting all-powerful State House speaker Mike Madigan (D) to a Ypres-worthy stalemate in the battle to right the state’s consistently abysmal finances, the dam seemed to break in the second half of last year-- and not in Rauner’s favor. Some background: unlike his fellow deep-blue state Republicans in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont, Gov. Bruce Rauner has eschewed playing nice with his liberal state legislature and instead launched into a head-on war with Madigan. Madigan has dominated Illinois politics since the 1980s and has successfully implemented a large number of budget-busting fiscal liberal policies. Furthermore, he has a reputation for being both a hard-nosed political brawler and ruthless machine boss that few anywhere can match. Rauner saw a major loss in the summer as several Republicans voted with Madigan to override his veto on a reform-free budget. Then Madigan put the Governor in a very tough position in the fall by sending him a bill that instituted public financing for abortion. Mindful of his general election prospects in the blue state (and his own social liberalism), Rauner signed the bill-- which unleashed the fury of the state’s GOP grassroots, who had tolerated the Governor’s moderate to liberal social instincts in hopes of having someone to go toe-to-toe with Madigan. Rauner now faces a serious primary challenge from State Rep. Jeannie Ives (R), a little-known conservative who has nowhere near the Governor’s fundraising prowess and would likely be DOA in a general election in the blue state… but who could be the beneficiary of a motivated and high-turnout social conservative base in the GOP primary. Assuming Ives doesn’t obviate the general election with a primary win, Rauner will face a tough general election fight with businessman and Madigan lackey JB Prtizker (D). Both Rauner and Pritzker have unlimited personal wealth and have already started freely spending to knock the stuffing out of each other. Pritzker is looking like a very strong favorite in the primary because of his institutional support, though he does face some significant rivals in businessman and Heir Force Maj. Chris Kennedy (D), State Sen. Daniel Biss (D), and local superintendent Bob Daiber (D). Pritzker’s rivals are hitting him from both sides, on anti-Madigan and left-wing themes, but because they can’t match Pritzker’s cash, an upset seems unlikely. Assuming Pritzker and Rauner make it to the general, it will be a high-dollar and hard-fought contest. Illinois is a blue state and a liberal one, and Rauner is far from popular. Rauner’s best bet is to drag the race even deeper into the mud to convince the state that as bad as the war of attrition has been, turning over the keys to the state solely to Madigan and his lackeys would be worse. That’s a hard sell to make, and as a result we are marking him as the most vulnerable Governor and an outright underdog for re-election.

New Mexico

Rep. Michele Lujan-Grisham (D) continues to look like the front-runner to pick this seat up for Democrats. Lujan-Grisham has successfully (and somewhat surprisingly) avoided attracting “A” list opponents for this race such as AG Hector Balderas (D), and she benefits from having the lean of the state on her side and high name recognition from her three terms representing the Albuquerque area. Two lesser-known Democrats are also in the race and could have the ability to upset Lujan-Grisham in the primary: State Sen. Joe Cervantes (D) and media exec Jeff Apodaca (D), son of 70s-era Gov. Jerry (D). Republicans have received their own strong entry into the race in the form of Rep. Steve Pearce (R). Pearce has run statewide multiple times before with somewhat poor results, losing disastrously in his 2008 Senate bid. But he has essentially cleared the GOP primary field, and his experience locking down a light-red House district should not be understated.  Due to Pearce’s poor prior statewide performance, along with the light-blue lean of the state and year, we are pushing this race back over the line into the Lean D category, though it might be best to think of this race as teetering on the Lean D/Tossup line. Overall Lujan-Grisham looks like a mild but significant favorite to flip the seat.

Nevada

The silver state has been somewhat enigmatic in recent years. Though it is diversifying dramatically, Republicans have remained more competitive than the state’s demographics might suggest, and the state remains bright purple. As a result, this open seat race looks set to be fiercely contested. The GOP primary front-runner is AG Adam Laxalt (R), grandson of former Sen. and Gov. Paul (R) (and until-recently-unacknowledged son of NM Sen. Pete Dominici (R)). Laxalt was a surprise winner in 2014 on the long coattails of Gov. Brian Sandoval (R); he has been something of a polarizing conservative in office but is popular with the state’s GOP establishment. Laxalt has fundraised very well, but will not have a cleared primary, as State Treasurer Dan Schwartz (R) is also in the race. Schwartz is known as mavericky and somewhat more moderate than Laxalt, and could have the chance to pull the upset. For Democrats, Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak (D) looks like the primary front-runner and has fundraised well, but he is facing a serious challenge from fellow Clark County commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D). With the support of the still-strong Reid machine and the lean of the year, either Sisolak or Giunchigliani could have a strong chance to flip this seat. Overall this race belongs well within the Tossup category, though perhaps a hair more likely than not to flip.

Maine

This race is probably a solid bet for the most chaotic race of all. First off, both major parties look set to have crowded primary fields. Three Republicans have entered the race. LePage administration official Mary Mayhew (R) is casting herself as a conservative defender of the LePage legacy, while three members of legislative GOP leadership, State Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R), State Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (R), and State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R), seem to be more establishment-friendly. And there is also 2010 Indie candidate Shawn Moody (R), who is somewhat centrist but also has ties to LePage personally. Democrats’ picture is even more complicated, with (deep breath!) ex-State House Speaker Mark Eves (D), appointed AG Janet Mills (D), State Sen. Mark Dion (D), ex-State Sen. James Boyle (D), ex-State Rep. Diane Russell (D), ex-Biddeford mayor Donna Dion (D), former congressional candidate Adam Cote (D), lobbyist Betsy Sweet (D), and veteran Patrick Eisenhart (D) in the race-- and multiple others considering. And this being Maine, there are also three credible centrist independent candidates: appointed State Treasurer Terry Hayes (I), a former moderate Dem legislator, ex-State Sen. Jon Jenkins (I), who also served as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn, and well-known comedian Karmo Sanders (I). Oh, and one more wrinkle: the state’s Instant-Runoff Voting proposal, thought dead after a court decision, might actually be revived, making this race run under a totally different set of rules. All in all there’s far too much uncertainty here to label this race as anything other than a pure Tossup.

Michigan

Both sides have crowded primaries for this open seat. On the Dem side, ex-State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was heavily recruited in 2014, but demurred and has now pulled the trigger on a run this cycle. Whitmer has strong establishment support, but she is facing three other Democrats. One of them, businessman Shri Thanedar (D), has self-funded his way into a considerable cash advantage over Whitmer, while businessman Bill Cobbs (D) and Detroit city official Abul El-Sayed (D) also seem credible. One other candidate who is considering, Macomb CE Mark Hackel (D), could be a strong contender from his history of wins in the large suburban county, though time is getting very late for him to actually pull the trigger and CW is that he will not run. For Republicans, moderate LG Brian Calley (R) and the more conservative AG Bill Schuette (R) have been shadow-boxing for years for this race and are the front-runners in the race; Schuette is generally thought to have a slight but significant advantage. Two others, antiestablishment conservative State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R) and physician Jim Hines (R), are also serious and could surprise. All four could be credible general election candidates. In newly-purple Michigan, any of the pairings seem likely to be competitive, especially the most likely pairing of well-known “A” listers Schuette and Whitmer. For now it’s hard to do better than simply holding this race at a pure Tossup.

Connecticut

Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is retiring after two terms, leaving behind a legacy of major achievements in the liberal policy department and very low approval ratings from a series of tax hikes and high-profile corporate exoduses. (Gee, you think the two might be related?) As a result, while the toxic Malloy not trying to run again has helped Democrats’ odds here, this is still a top-tier GOP pickup opportunity. Republicans’ problem is that too many of them may be smelling opportunity in the water. Without a field-clearing front-runner, that has led to an absurdly crowded primary field of “B” and “C” listers. Rattling off the candidates, there are (deep breath): Danbury mayor and 2014 candidate Mark Boughton (R), State Sen. Toni Boucher (R), State Rep. Pradad Srinivasan (R), Shelton mayor Mark Lauretti (R), Trumbull mayor Tim Herbst (R), ex-US Comptroller General and 2014 LG candidate David Walker (R), 2014 SoS nominee Peter Lumaj (R), and local official Mike Handler (R), with a couple more Republicans exploring. There is no clear favorite for the GOP nomination, meaning the possibility of a weaker general election nominee should not be discounted. However, Democrats’ field is not looking terribly impressive either, as the entire “A” list Dem bench of the state has declined to run. They also have a crowded field of “B” and “C” listers, including businessman and 2006 US Senate nominee Ned Lamont (D), Hartford mayor Luke Bronin (D), Bridgeport mayor and convicted felon Joe Ganim (D), Malloy admin officials Jonathan Harris (D) and Sean Connolly (D), and Dem official Dita Bhargava (D). A credible centrist indie, businessman Oz Griebel (I), is also in the race. It’s too early to know how much of a factor he will be, but Griebel’s campaign seems centrist enough to pull from both sides. Overall, the surprising lack of strong Democrats and Malloy’s unpopularity leads us to mark this as the GOP’s best pickup opportunity, but Connecticut is still a blue state and the year is likely to be Dem-friendly. Thus it’s hard to see this race as anything other than a pure Tossup.

Florida


Democrats have a slight primary front-runner for this race in ex-Rep. Gwen Graham (D), who benefits from inherited statewide name recognition from her father, ex-Gov. and Sen. Bob (D), as well as her impressive 2014 win for a conservative Tallahassee-area House seat. [Alarm bells: the seat was quite blue when she won it and has been since gerrymandered to be a safe red seat, causing her to run for the hills.] Graham however, faces a crowded primary field of wealthy Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine (D), Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum (D), whose campaign has been in a slow-motion implosion as corruption allegations swirl around him, and businessman Chris King (D). Across the aisle, Republicans’ primary was thrown for a loop over the last few months. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) still looks like a strong contender, as he has been transparently prepping his bid here since leaving Congress for his row office in 2010. Putnam is a mainstream conservative and considered a strong candidate due to his statewide name recognition, but he will face a tough primary. His prior main rival, moderate State Sen. Jack Latvala (R), imploded in the #pervnado, but the void was filled by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis is a more antiestablishment conservative who notably got a tweet of praise from Trump before he even entered the race. The primary clash between Putnam and DeSantis is likely to be a hard-fought contest over both style and ideology between two strong candidates. A third Republican, State House Speaker Rich Corcoran (R), is still considering, but seems a longer shot. Overall, due to low Dem base turnout, Florida has had a small but durable light-red tilt in midterms, and that combined with the two “A” list contenders in the GOP field in Putnam and DeSantis leads us to place this race toward the R-leaning side of the Tossup category. But this race is sure to be among the most hotly-contested and expensive races of the cycle. [Another comment from your editor: a big part of the case for Gillum is that he is the only Democrat running who can inspire the Democratic base-- and in a wave election cycle, that's what matters.]

Colorado

Colorado’s open seat has what are likely to be crowded primaries on both sides. Democrats’ front runner looks likely to be Rep. Jared Polis (D). Polis is a progressive with libertarianish tendencies who benefits from high name recognition from his decade representing a heavily Democratic Boulder-area seat, as well as extensive personal wealth. Polis’s entry was enough to push out his most prominent rival, establishment-friendly fellow Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D). However, he does face several somewhat lesser-known candidates in the Dem primary, including LG Donna Lynne (D), ex-State Treasurer Cary Kennedy (D), ex-State Sen. Mike Johnston (D), and businessman Noel Ginsburg (D), all of whom have a chance to pull the upset. The GOP field is far more muddled, with three obvious headliners. From the establishment side of the party, two statewide Row Officers, AG Cynthia Coffman (R) and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R), start out as front-runners due to their high name recognition and establishment connections. Conversely, from the antiestablishment side, ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) is making a third run after losses as an Indie in 2010 and a GOP primary candidate in 2014. Tancredo has a strong grassroots following for his hard-line immigration-restriction stance, though he would likely be a weak and polarizing general election candidate. Beyond those three, a pair of wealthy businessmen are also already in the race, ex-State Rep. Victor Mitchell (R) and Romney relative Doug Robinson (R), and could surprise. Two others, Larimer County commissioner Lew Gaiter (R) and ex-Parker mayor Greg Lopez (R) are also in the race but seem less serious. Due to Polis’s stronger position in his primary than any of the Republicans, as well as the potential for a Tancredo nomination that would send Republicans’ general election odds cratering, we are placing this race toward the Dem-leaning side of the Tossup category. However, Colorado is still a bright purple state and it’s still too early to say much more than the fact that this race belongs well within the Tossup column.

Alaska

Gov. Bill Walker (I), a former Republican, declared his candidacy for re-election and announced he would once again run with his Democratic running mate, LG Byron Mallott (D). Most establishment Democrats seem to be on board with Walker as their best chance to maintain influence in the red state. However, Walker is an awkward fit for Democrats as a genuine centrist who has made friends and enemies in both parties. Many more liberal Democrats appear to be looking for an alternative, and Sen. Mark Begich (D) has indicated interest in a bid. State Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D) has also said he would consider running if another more liberal candidate does not emerge. A Democrat entering the race against Walker would likely mean mutually assured destruction, as Walker likely cannot afford a split in the center and center-left vote against the state’s large conservative Republican base. For Republicans, State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) once again looks like a strong contender after suspending and then re-starting his campaign due to a since-resolved health issue, but he faces serious primary opposition from State Rep. Mike Chenault (R) and businessman Scott Hawkins (R). All seem credible “B” list candidates, but Republicans’ odds here likely depend on whether a credible Democrat emerges. For now if Walker is able to keep his coalition together he seems likely to be favored, but with many questions about the race still unanswered, overall it’s hard to mark him more than the slightest favorite for another term.

Kansas

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is set to depart the state early for a low-level Trump administration job (whenever his interminable confirmation proceedings finally end), a move that looks less like a promotion and more like an escape hatch from his disastrous gubernatorial tenure. Brownback has succeeded in implementing a conservative agenda, but he has done so in an inept manner, and dragged his own popularity down to toxic levels in the process. The situation has become so bad for Brownback and his faction of the state’s GOP that conservative Republicans lost de facto control of both houses of the legislature last cycle to a coalition of RINOs and Democrats. LG Jeff Colyer (R) is now set to take control of the governor’s mansion when Brownback vacates it, but as a relatively unknown foot soldier of Brownback’s agenda seems unlikely to be an imposing candidate even as an incumbent. Indeed, the most prominent conservative in this race is SoS Kris Kobach (R), who has become nationally known for his staunch support of immigration enforcement and restrictions. Though Kobach’s polarizing nature could prove problematic, it could also give him a point of personal brand differentiation from Brownback, potentially paradoxically making him a stronger general election candidate. The Republican primary looks set to be crowded with candidates from both sides of the moderate and conservative chasm in the state’s GOP. While Kobach and Colyer are squarely on the conservative side, several moderates, such as ex-State Sen. and 2006 nominee Jim Barnett (R) and ex-State Reps. Mark Hutton (R) and Ed O’Malley (R), are in the race. Two others, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer (R) and businessman and 2010 KS-4 candidate Wink Hartman (R), somewhat straddle the moderate-conservative divide. The primary is chaotic and other than pegging the well-known Kobach as the slight overall front-runner, it’s hard to handicap. Democrats have a seriously-contested primary in the state for the first time in memory, with four credible candidates in State Sen. Laura Kelly (D), ex-Wichita mayor Carl Brewer (D), State Rep. Jim Ward (D), and ex-State Rep. and Sebelius admin official Josh Svaty (D). It’s too early to tell if any of them will emerge as the front-runner. Given the problematic Brownback legacy, this race is a top-tier target for Democrats, but Kansas is a deep red state and Brownback will no longer be there to serve as a bogeyman. And Democrats’ odds may have gone down for another reason: center-left Indie and 2014 US Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) is in the race as an Independent, which could potentially split the center-left vote and hand an easy win to the GOP nominee on the state’s large conservative base (assuming Orman and Democrats don’t find a way to combine tickets as they did in 2014). As a result, we are marking Republicans as slight but noticeable favorites to hold the seat-- but Democrats’ very decent odds here should not be undersold. As an aside, one weird sideshow of this race is that the ballot will be crowded with high school students seeking to pad their college applications-- Kansas has no age or other qualifications necessary to run for Governor, so a half-dozen teenagers will be making vanity runs and crowding the primary ballots.

Wisconsin

Gov. Scott Walker (R) has been tested perhaps harder than any other governor over the last seven years, winning three tough races. Walker, who is not term-limited, is running for a third term and continues to post mediocre approval ratings. However, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he has strong support from the GOP base and the ability to garner just enough crossover support to gain consistent small majorities in his purple state. After spending much of 2017 coming up near-empty on recruitment for the race against Walker, Democrats’ floodgates have opened and they now have an absurdly crowded primary. State Superintendent Tony Evers (D), who is moderate in tone, and Madison mayor Paul Soglin (D), an aging hipster who strikes staunch leftist notes, are the best-known candidates for the Dem nomination, but the field is beyond crowded. Also in the race are (deep breath!) State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D), State Rep. Dana Wachs (D), ex-State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D), ex-WIDP chair Matt Flynn (D), 2012 LG nominee and labor official Mahlon Mitchell (D), businessman Andy Gronik (D), and nonprofit exec Mike McCabe (D). Any of them could have the opportunity to upset the front-runners. As for the general, there seems to be a sense in the CW that Wisconsin could be getting Walker fatigue, especially with the state’s large moonbat base likely to be highly energized this year. Democrats’ wide field means they are probably likely to nominate a strong contender, though they do risk putting out someone beloved by the grassroots but too liberal to be successful statewide in the purple state. Overall, Walker has been consistent enough at getting a majority of the state on his side that we feel comfortable continuing to mark him as a slight but significant favorite for a third term.

Minnesota

The conventions on both sides for this open seat seem sure to be crowded affairs. For Republicans, 2014 nominee and Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson (R), Woodbury mayor Mary Guiliani-Stevens (R), State Rep. Matt Dean (R), and ex-State Rep. and MNGOP chair Keith Downey (R) are in the race. State House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) is still considering a run and could be the GOP front-runner if he enters; if Daudt stays out, all four others could have a chance to emerge with the nomination. Democrats have an even more crowded field. Rep. Tim Walz (D), State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D), ex-St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman (D), and State Reps. Erin Murphy (D), Tina Liebling (D), and Paul Thissen (D) are in the race. For now it looks like Walz is the front-runner for the nomination, but there is a long way to the convention and primary, and much could change. Additionally, one prominent candidate, AG Lori Swanson (D), is still considering the race. If the popular Swanson enters the race she could become the overall primary and general election front-runner, and could chase some other candidates out of the field, though she has dawdled so long that Walz in particular has been poaching some establishment support that could have gone to her. Overall, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Democrats have a stronger field here, with several “A” listers as opposed to the GOP’s “B” list dominated field. Minnesota is also a purple state, but also one where the inelastic Dem base is consistently just a bit larger than the GOP base. As a result of those two factors, we continue to peg Democrats as very slight but noticeable favorites to hold the seat.

Ohio

Both sides’ previously-crowded primary fields seem to be on the way to sorting themselves out here. On the GOP side, the prior field of four strong contenders has collapsed to two. SoS Jon Husted (R) shook up the race when he dropped his primary run to become LG on the ticket of front-running AG Mike DeWine (R). A third rival, Rep. Jim Renacci (R), has decamped for the Senate race after State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) dropped out. That leaves DeWine facing a one-on-one race with LG Mary Taylor (R), who is running as a moderate in the Kasich vein and has an interesting story of both of her sons battling opioid use. DeWine’s name recognition and establishment support leave him as the clear front-runner for the nomination over Taylor. Democrats’ primary front-runner is ex-AG and CFPB director Richard Cordray (D), who has coalesced establishment support and convinced a rival, ex-Rep. Betty Sutton (D), to drop out and serve as his LG candidate. Cordray still faces the perennially-interesting ex-Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D), and ex-State Rep. and 2014 Treasurer nominee Connie Pillich (D) in the primary, and any could have the chance to upset him. Overall, Ohio has been looking more and more like a light-red state rather than a purple one in recent years. DeWine and Cordray are both considered strong candidates with long political histories in the state, though Cordray’s absence from the state for the last 8 years and DeWine’s greater visibility probably leave the Republican with a slight advantage in candidate quality. Additionally, if Kucinich were to upset Cordray that would not bode well for Dems’ general election odds. Overall, these factors lead us to mark Republicans as very slight but noticeable favorites to hold this seat.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has had middling approval ratings throughout his term, but the purple nature of his state and incumbency probably leaves him as a moderate favorite for a second. Four Republicans are in the race; State Sen. Scott Wagner (R) is generally regarded as the primary front-runner so far. Wagner, who is personally wealthy, is an antiestablishment conservative. He has proven a strong candidate, as he won his State Senate seat as a write-in against the establishment GOP choice. However, Wagner has had some minor missteps regarding losing his temper, and his antiestablishment positioning is not necessarily a plus in the machine-dominated state. His major establishment rival is State House Speaker Mike Turzai (R), who obviously has strong establishment connections and could win the nomination on more moderate votes. Two other Republicans, businessman Paul Mango (R) and attorney and law firm executive Laura Ellsworth (R), could also have a chance to surprise. As for the general, any of Turzai, Wagner, Ellsworth, or Mango will likely face a tough race against Wolf, who has not made major missteps. However, Wolf does have vulnerabilities and the Republicans in the race are credible enough to take advantage of the state’s purple nature. That leads us to place this race near the middle of the Lean D category.

Maryland

Despite Maryland’s deep-blue and inelastic nature, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) continues to post very high approval ratings. Hogan has stayed incredibly popular by generally playing small-ball and not antagonizing the legislature or wading into controversial national issues, while showcasing his personal charisma and administrative competence. For their part, Democrats have spent much of the past year attempting to bait Hogan into taking up controversial conservative priorities with the intent of tying him to Trump, which seems to have only made his popularity stronger as he has skillfully deflected the shots. Democrats have a very crowded primary field, but its massive depth belies the fact that none of the contenders could truly be considered more than “B” list. Three candidates are looking like the top contenders. Prince George’s CE Rushern Baker (D) has a solid resume from two terms leading the large suburban county and is starting to look like the slight establishment favorite. Baltimore CE Kevin Kamenetz (D) similarly has a base in his large suburban county and a resume as an establishment liberal, but so far hasn’t generated a lot of excitement. And ex-NAACP chair Benjamin Todd Jealous (D) seems to be getting support from the far-left of the party, but his brew of leftism is strong even for Maryland and he would be just about the weakest imaginable general election candidate. A story line to watch is that both Baker and Kamenetz have interesting liabilities in that both their counties’ school systems are facing mismanagement scandals. Beyond those three, there are multiple long-shots in the race. State Sen. Rich Maladeno (D) has some far-left support, but is not well-known outside of his Montgomery County base. There is also wealthy attorney Jim Shea (D), businessman and Hillary aide Alec Ross (D), and Michelle Obama aide Krish Vignarajah (D). Overall this primary field doesn’t look too imposing, as all are little-known and have had mediocre fundraising. Boosted by his own strong brand distinct from Trump’s, Hogan has been leading in polls by low double-digits, though he is still below 50%. But in a state as blue as Maryland, no Democrat can be counted out, and thus we are keeping this race in the Lean R category.

Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) has been controversial in her first term for some fiscally moderate initiatives in an attempt to get the state’s chaotic financial situation in order. That has left her unpopular and vulnerable to a primary challenge from the left, though surprisingly no credible Democrat has yet emerged to take her on. Several Dems have been mentioned as interested, but none have pulled the trigger, and it is possible that Raimondo ultimately emerges without a serious primary challenger. However, it’s important to note Rhode Island’s filing deadline and primary are among the nation’s absolute latest, so there is still time for someone to emerge. On the GOP side, two candidates are facing off: 2014 nominee and Cranston mayor Alan Fung (R) looks like a moderate favorite over State Rep. Patricia Mogan (R). Fung has released internals showing him up in the primary and even with Raimondo. Overall Republicans do have a decent opportunity here, particularly if Raimondo is defeated or battered in the primary. But one possible wrinkle could be the spoiler candidacy of R-turned-I ex-State Rep. Joe Trillo (I), who is running as a hardcore Trumpist and will take votes straight out of the GOP nominee’s pocket. Raimondo certainly looks far weaker than the deep-blue lean of her state and the favorable year would indicate, but the fundamentals (and the current lack of a strong primary challenger) are still in her favor. Thus, we mark Democrats as moderately strong favorites to hold the seat.

Iowa

Since ascending to the top job earlier this year, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has had mediocre approval ratings and drawn a plethora of challengers on both sides. In the GOP primary, Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett (R) has pulled the trigger on a run against Reynolds; while most insiders generally believe that toppling Reynolds is a long-shot, Corbett is a credible enough challenger that his odds are not zero. A third Republican, Boone councilman Steven Ray (R), seems unlikely to be a major factor. Democrats have an even more crowded primary of “B” and “C” listers; State Sen. Nate Boulton (D), ex-IADP chair Andy McGuire (D), Vilsack admin official John Norris (D), Iowa City mayor Ross Willburn (D), 2014 State Auditor nominee Jon Neiderbach (D), labor official Cathy Glasson (D), and businessman Fred Hubbell (D) are in the race. Democrats may find themselves in the position of the nominee being decided by convention, as with a field this crowded it seems very possible for all to be held below the 35% minimum needed to win the primary. Reynolds has a mixture of strengths and vulnerabilities, credible if not rockstar opposition, and a light-red state; overall, that adds up to making her a moderate but far from prohibitive favorite for a full term.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has been having some hard times in its state finances in recent years, as the collapse in oil prices has decimated the budget and caused deep cuts to education. As a result, termed-out Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is quite unpopular and Democrats have been winning a string of upsets in legislative special elections as of late. Democrats, who have seen their prior dominance at the state level collapse in the last decade, are thus enthusiastic about their odds here. They have a strong contender for this seat in ex-AG Drew Edmondson (D). Edmondson’s major primary rival dropped out as he coalesced establishment support, though the weaker liberal ex-State Sen. Connie Johnson (D) is still in the race. However, Oklahoma is still a conservative state, and Republicans have a strong field of candidates for this race as well, with six candidates: LG Todd Lamb (R), OKC mayor Mick Cornett (R), Auditor Gary Jones (R), ex-State Rep. Dan Fisher (R), former federal prosecutor and 2002 Indie candidate Gary Richardson (R), and businessman Kevin Stitt (R). So far Lamb and Cornett look like the front-runners, but the others could have a chance to surprise; Fisher in particular seems to be generating some buzz with social conservatives. The long and consistent string of Democratic overperformances in special elections in the state, along with the clearing of the primary field for Edmondson, has led us to make a significant upgrade to Dem chances here. While Democrats do have much a greater chance to flip this seat than Oklahoma’s deep-red nature would indicate, Republicans remain relatively significant favorites based on the lean of the state. Until we get some polling, it’s thus hard to mark this race higher than the less-competitive end of the Lean R category.

Vermont

Gov. Phil Scott (R) has posted sky-high approval ratings in his first year in office, and despite Vermont’s deep-blue nature and a possible Dem wave, looks to be in very strong position.  Vermont is well-known for a strong affinity for moderate Republicans and Scott fits that bill perfectly. As a result, no serious Democrats have declared for this race as of yet, though the lateness of the filing deadline in the Green Mountain state means there is still time for one to emerge. 2016 nominee Sue Minter (D) has been speculated as a potential contender, but has not made any concrete moves. It’s hard to mark Scott as terribly strong a favorite due to the deep-blue nature of his state, but Scott seems to be in just about as good a position as a Vermont Republican can be in as he seeks a second term.

Georgia

Democrats have continually targeted Georgia as a state they believe demographic change will help them flip, but the state’s large inelastic conservative base, as well as its general election runoff provision in which 50% is required to win, make that a tough lift. This year, Democrats have a pair of candidates running for this open seat in State Reps. Stacey Abrams (D) and Stacey Evans (D) (in a sign of the changing nature of the state, both are women and not members of the Southern Men with Female Names Caucus!) While both are from suburban Atlanta, Abrams is black and quite liberal, while Evans is white and more moderate. Needless to say, Evans would likely be a stronger general election contender, but demographic destiny(!!!111!!) obsessed Dem primary voters have so far been more enthusiastic about Abrams. On the GOP side, four Republicans are facing off. LG Casey Cagle (R) and SoS Brian Kemp (R) are considered the front-runners; both are establishment conservatives with high name recognition and strong institutional connections. A pair of State Senators, Hunter Hill (R) and Michael Williams (R), are also in the race and attempting to run insurgent campaigns by flanking the front-runners, Hill as an upscale establishment conservative and Williams as a hardcore Trumpist. Overall there is no clear favorite between Cagle and Kemp, with Hill and Williams also having chances. Due to the lean of the state and the strong GOP field, we consider Republicans moderately strong favorites to hold the seat.

Arizona

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has been moderately popular in his first term. Though Democrats are enthusiastic about targeting Arizona this cycle after the state trended strongly left in 2016, the general consensus is that there are better opportunities on the statewide ballot for them than the Governor’s race, particularly in taking on the open Senate seat and a pair of unpopular and incompetent Row Officer incumbents, SoS Michele Reagan (R) and Superintendent Diane Douglas (R). As a result, most top-tier candidates have shunned taking on Ducey, and Democrats appear to be left with some “B” and “C” list options. State Sen. Steve Farley (D), who has held down a light-blue district in Tucson, looks like the front-runner for the Dem nomination, while 2014 Superintendent nominee David Garcia (D) is also in the race. Though an upset is possible if Ducey makes a mistake or a Dem wave intensifies, either Dem looks likely to be a decided underdog to the incumbent, who has solid if not overwhelming popularity, personal cash, and the lean of the state on his side.

Massachusetts

Much like Hogan in Maryland, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has succeeded in maintaining high popularity despite his deep-blue state by staying out of controversial national issues and fights with the legislature while building a brand as a competent bipartisan administrator. The dance is a bit easier for Baker in some ways though; while Hogan is better thought of as a conservative who knows where to pick battles, Baker is a genuine moderate that even liberal Democrats find easy to work with. Additionally, unlike Hogan, Baker has the benefit of a relatively elastic state that has elected Republicans to the Governorship in 5 of the last 7 elections. As a result, enthusiasm for giving Baker a tough challenge has been downright muted. For now Democrats’ most likely nominee is Newton mayor Setti Warren (D), a former Sen. John Kerry staffer who has been considered a rising star in some circles but looks decidedly “B” list relative to the huge Democratic bench in the state. Warren faces Gov. Patrick admin official Jay Gonzalez (D) and 1994 LG nominee Bob Massie (D) in the primary, with several other equally little-known candidates considering. Baker has precious little margin for error and a misstep could place him in a seriously competitive race, but for now we feel his chances for re-election are solid enough to merit calling him a fairly strong favorite for a second term.

New Hampshire

Newly-elected Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is off to a good start if you believe the first poll of the state, posting high approval ratings across the board. New Hampshire is a deep purple state and Sununu is still somewhat unproven, so he is still likely to net at least a somewhat serious challenger. One credible Democrat, Portsmouth mayor and 2016 candidate Steve Marchand (D), is in the race, though his 2016 primary run was unimpressive. Some other NH Dems are still considering. But overall the recent polling of the race leads us to suggest that Sununu will be in a good position approval-wise barring a new stumble, and we thus mark him as a fairly strong favorite.

California

The race takes the cake as the safest of all, because the odds of an all-Democratic race here are only going up. LG Gavin Newsom (D) is looking like the clear front-runner, with ex-LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) in second. The divide between the two showcases northern vs. southern and upscale vs. downscale Democratic fissures. Two other Dems, State Treasurer John Chiang (D) and ex-State Superintendent Delaine Eastin (D), look like longer shots but could still have a chance to surprise. For now it looks like the most consequential issue in the race is if Newsom will face a Republican and get a free ride in the general, or Villaraigosa (or less likely, Chiang) can sneak into second. Republicans’ hopes for a statewide win in California remain all but nonexistent, not only due to its deep-blue nature and continued Democratic trend, but also because the state’s immense size makes gaining the name recognition to mount a credible bid incredibly costly. This year, three “B” to “C” list Republicans are running for Governor. Ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R) represented suburban Sacramento for three terms a decade and a half ago and is looking like a slight establishment favorite. State Rep. Travis Allen (R) could have some grassroots support, but he has little cash and a staunch conservative profile that is a tough statewide sell. And businessman and vanity presidential candidate John Cox (R) has enough money to be somewhat credible but is mostly known as a gadfly. The CAGOP’s task in this race is likely to unite behind one of them in the primary so that a Republican can advance to (and lose) the general and avert a D-on-D runoff that could be disastrous for GOP turnout and downballot Republicans-- though with three Republicans that task becomes even harder. With Republicans facing the serious threat of being boxed out of the general election entirely, this race now slips into the safest-of-all slot for Dems.
What's wrong with the analysis is that there is exactly ZERO consideration of an anti-Trump/anti-Republican wave. States most susceptible to red to blue flips because of a wave are Illinois, Nevada, Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio Florida, Iowa and Vermont-- and, depending on the independent situation Maine. More than just a little factor... but one that the right-wing would prefer to deny. It could even impact Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire and Arizona.


Randy "IronStache" Bryce with Texas progressive gubernatorial candidate Tom Wakely


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