Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Can Trump Really Defeat Paul Ryan? And Turn American Politics Topsy Turvey?


Will Trump's refusal to back Ryan hurt the Speaker in his primary next Tuesday? Trump didn't do especially well in Ryan's district during the presidential election, losing to Ted Cruz everywhere with the exception of close calls in Kenosha and Rock counties. If the Trumpist running against Ryan, Paul Nehlen, were running a strong contest, Trump's refusal could be meaningful, but Nehlen isn't making much headway, not even with fellow Trumpists Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter backing him. Nehlen's only chance of actually beating Ryan would be if the DCCC alerted Democrats that it's an open primary and Democratic voters can ask for a Republican ballot and vote against Ryan. But, of course, the DCCC refuses to do that. It would throw the House Republicans into complete turmoil and, more important, kill the TPP... dead as a doornail.

But that weirdness in southeast Wisconsin wasn't the only Age-of-Trump crack-up yesterday. Ronald Siegel and Christopher Castillo were the two Republicans running for the open CA-44 congressional seat, the seat Janice Hahn is giving up. There were 10 candidates in all competing in the open primary and the two top vote getters-- environmental champion Nanette Barragan and corruption champion Isadore Hall-- will proceed to the November 8 general election, a Dem vs Dem race. (This year there are 7 Dem v Dem congressional races in California plus a Dem v Dem U.S. Senate race.) Yesterday Siegel, an environmental-friendly Republican unhappy with Hall's close and crooked ties to Big Oil endorsed Nanette and so did Castillo-- both Republicans joining Berniecrats Armando Sotomayor and Marcus Musante as well as Morris Griffin in asking their supporters to vote for her. In a press statement Castillo said that "During these past few months I spoke with people from this district who have serious concerns they would like to see addressed in Washington, like immigration reform and job creation. Nanette is the only candidate in this race who is going to make these changes a reality. I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes in Congress."

When I spoke with Castillo on the phone he emphasized that he's a small government/low taxes Republican who is pro-amnesty and very anti-Trump. And anti-corruption. He's well aware of Hall's reputation for taking money from "everyone and anyone" and voting for what they want. He said he feels he has more in common with Bernie than with Trump but wasn't high on Hillary either. But he is high on Nanette and expects to help persuade Republicans in CA-44 for vote for her in November. Fascinating, huh?

Even stranger is an update on a story we've been covering about feuding Republicans-- establishment crook Bill Shuster and right-wing teabagger Art Halvorson in Pennsylvania. The ninth district-- kind of a sprawling wasteland time left behind, between Pittsburgh's southern exurbs east to Chambersburg and Waynesboro and north to Altoona and Indiana-- has no rhyme or reason and nothing holding it together. But ever one of the 12 counties in the district went for Trump in the primary. And his voters came close to defeating Shuster. The final vote was 48,686 (50.5%) for the powerful incumbent who spent $1,655,437 to 47,677 (49.5%) for Halvorson, who only spent $264,357 and it was the closest race in the state. I called Halvorson when he announced he would continue his race against Shuster on the empty Democratic Party line. Halvorson, who went out of his way to tell me he thinks Hillary should be in prison-- weeks and weeks before the Trumpist convention made that a popular thing for Republican crackpots to say-- isn't joining the Democratic Party by any stretch of anyone's imagination. But over a thousand Democrats wrote him in on the Democratic line and he's using that as the excuse for claiming the line in the general. So, no, this isn't going to be another case like Charlie Crist, Patrick Murphy, Monica Vernon, Filemon Vela, Mike Parrish or any of the dozens of Republicans the DCCC has recruited to run as Democrats. This is just an extreme right-wing Republican poaching away a Democratic ballot line the DCCC was too lame to protect.

So when I talked with him on the phone he wasn't sure if he'd do it or not but yesterday he finally announced he's decided to run on the Democratic Party line but, obviously, not as a Democrat.
Despite the fact he’ll be on the Democratic side of the ballot, Halvorson maintains he is still a Republican.

“But make no mistake about it, our current struggle isn’t Democrat vs. Republican, it’s Insiders vs. We the People,” he asserted.

Unsurprisingly, Congressman Shuster did not welcome this news.

“By running for Congress as a Democrat, Art Halvorson has proved that he cares about one thing and one thing only-- himself,” Rep. Shuster’s campaign stated. “Not only is he betraying Democrats by calling their party Godless while forcing them to accept him as their nominee, but he is also betraying the will of the Republican primary voters that have twice rejected his attempt to get a job in Congress.”

“Whether its selfish Art Halvorson saying offensive things about Democrats or calling the Republican nominee Donald Trump childish and reprehensible two things are clear-- Art Halvorson’s Arlen Specter impression is out of touch with our region and he is a soon be a three-time loser to Congressman Bill Shuster, who unlike Art, will always be fighting for the people of the 9th Congressional District.”
There's also a write-in Democrat, who is being supported by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. As of the June 30 FEC filing deadline Shuster had $892,427 cash on hand and Halvorson had just $61,026. There are no Tea Party groups spending any money for Halvorson so far this year, although last cycle the crackpot Madison Project spent money against Shuster on his behalf.

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At 5:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on Howie, I know you love to bash the DCCC, but let's get real here. If the Democrats in Ryan's district need the DCCC to tell them to cross over in a primary, take a GOP ballot, and vote Ryan out, then they are all too fucking dumb to breathe, and will deserve whatever they get.


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