Thursday, February 01, 2018

Problems In Colorado, Tennessee, Maine And Michigan Gubernatorial Races


Tuesday, the Denver Post reported that far right extremist, xenophobe and front-runner for the Republican nomination for Colorado governor, Tom Tancredo was dropping out of the race-- after just three months-- because he can't raise any money. As of Dec. 31 he had collected less than $75,000 in campaign contributions. Because of his nasty racism while he was in Congress, he was the best-known Republican in the race, His departure leaves a large field of relieved contestants, including state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell and state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who won't have to compete with each other quite as far to the right. He was widely viewed as the "Bannon candidate" in the race and was expecting to be financed by Long Island Nazi family, the Mercers, who have since broken with Bannon and given nothing to Tancredo.
“I think it is a very good development for the Republican Party’s chances in the gubernatorial election” said Ryan Call, a former GOP state chairman.

Not only would Tancredo’s exit would help winnow the field, Call said, but it also would reduce the focus on Tancredo’s past rhetoric, which Call described as “out of the mainstream with the way most Republicans feel.”

For years, Tancredo has been a controversial national voice on issues of immigration and he entered the race last fall in part because he was upset that fellow Republicans didn’t do more to protest the decision by a Colorado Springs resort to cancel a conference for the white nationalist VDARE Foundation.
But Tancredo isn't the only Republican gubernatorial candidate who has run into trouble this week. In Tennessee another far right fanatic, former state Senator Mae Beavers, who was considered a top tier candidate, also dropped out of the race on Tuesday, also citing an inability to raise money. She had resigned her Senate seat to run full-time. The top contenders are Congresswoman Diane Black, state House Speaker Beth Harwell, and two wealthy businessmen, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee. All of them are from the far right end of the party but Beavers was the real Nazi in the race. Several of the others had raised nearly 10 times what she had raised.

In Maine, there was a whole other kind of Republican screw-up, courtesy of out-going GOP extremist Governor Paul LePage. One of the right-wing nuts running, businessman Shawn Moody, hired LePage's daughter (plus LePage advisor Brent Littlefield) but when LePage was asked if he'd endorse Moody, he said he isn't endorsing any of the 5 GOP candidates but that he is really opposing the Republican state Senate President Mike Thibodeau. He's been actively feuding with Thibodeau since 2015 and has campaigned against his reelection to the state Senate. After LePage called a Democratic legislator a "socialist cocksucker," Thibodeau said he was open to the legislature censuring LePage.

In the Michigan gubernatorial race there's a different kind of problem. A leading candidate in the race, progressive Abdul El-Sayed, may be disqualified. It's important to remember that the Shelby Township resident was born and raised in Michigan. BUT, he registered to vote in New York while attending graduate school and working as a professor between 2012 and 2015 and the state constitution requires any candidate for governor to be a registered elector in the state at least four years prior to the election, right in the middler of his time in New York.
His campaign says El-Sayed maintained “continuous residence” in Michigan by keeping an apartment here even when he worked out of state, and Secretary of State records show El-Sayed has been “continuously registered to vote in Michigan since 2003,” said spokesman Fred Woodhams.

But El-Sayed’s Michigan registration was on a “cancellation countdown status” between 2013 and 2016 because he had surrendered his driver’s license to get one in New York, Woodhams said. El-Sayed, a doctor, earned a medical degree at Columbia University and worked there as an assistant professor.

If El-Sayed had tried to vote in Michigan during that period-- which he did not-- he would have had to verify his address and affirm he was eligible to vote here, Woodhams said. His registration would have been been canceled after the November 2016 election had he not updated his registration and voted in Michigan.

“Under federal law, the department may not cancel a voter’s registration due to the person moving away until two federal election cycles have passed,” Woodhams said.

Campaign spokesman Adam Joseph quickly dismissed questions over El-Sayed’s eligibility, as first reported by Bridge.

“Abdul is 100% eligible to be governor of Michigan,” Joseph said in a statement. “He has been continuously registered to vote in Michigan since he was 18 years old, and he has maintained continuous residence in Michigan since his childhood. He is a son of Michigan-- born and raised in this state, went to public schools in this state, and had a daughter in this state.”

El-Sayed is running an aggressive campaign as he prepares to compete in the Democratic primary against former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Ann Arbor businessman Shri Thanedar and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.

He will have to file an affidavit of identity by April 24 to qualify for the primary ballot. The affidavit will require him to say how long he has been a resident of Michigan and attest that he is registered and qualified to vote here. It will not require him to attest that he meets constitutional qualifications to be governor, according to a blank form reviewed by the Detroit News.

His eligibly may only become an issue if an opponent files a formal complaint with the state, but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, said Democratic strategist and pollster Ed Sarpolous.

Whitmer, who is leading early polls of the Democratic race, has little incentive to challenge El-Sayed’s eligibility because it would alienate his supporters that she may need in the general election, Sarpolous said. Republicans have no incentive to challenge his eligibility unless he wins the Democratic primary he said.

“The bottom line is a court’s going to end up ruling on this,” Sarpolous predicted.

El-Sayed returned to Michigan full-time after Mayor Mike Duggan tapped him to serve as Detroit health department director in August 2015.

A self-described progressive who has been courting voters who backed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, El-Sayed did not vote in Michigan’s March 8, 2016, Democratic primary that saw Sanders narrowly top eventual party nominee Hillary Clinton.

In an April interview, the Detroit News asked El-Sayed for whom he voted. He responded by saying he “was a Bernie guy,” but his campaign later clarified that “crowding at the polling place prevented him from voting for Bernie, but he was an avid supporter.”

El-Sayed told a similar story that month on WKAR-TV’s “Off The Record,” saying he tried to vote “several times” that day but was met by long lines he could not wait in on a work day.

But state voter registration records show El-Sayed was not registered to vote in Detroit at the time of the March 8 primary.

He had been registered to vote in Ann Arbor since 2008 but changed his registration to Detroit on March 29, 2016, according to the state. He reapplied for a Michigan driver’s license at that time and voted in the November general election.

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