Sunday, February 12, 2017

Alienating The Base-- A Tale Of Two Primaries... Arizona And New Jersey


Many Arizona Republicans see Jeff Flake through this Alt-Fact lens

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has a long history-- mostly in the House-- as a right-of-center conservative. His record is very conservative but, unlike so many of his colleagues, not unhinged or deranged. He's a Mormon and his very vocal opposition to Trump seems to have been based on the same sense of decency and deep-seated beliefs that most Mormon leaders expressed during the election. Trump did significantly worse in Mormon communities than other Republicans did. In 2004, George W Bush took 80% of the Mormon vote. In 2012 Romney took 78%. Trump won 61% of the Mormon vote nationally.

We have written before than Trump's political operatives are hoping to defeat Flake in his 2018 reelection bid, preferably with neo-fascist Trumpist Jeff DeWit, Arizona state Treasurer. Another extremist who would likely be fine with the Trump Regime is extremist former state Senator Kelli Ward, another neo-fascist crackpot. When she challenged John McCain last year, McCain pulverized her 302,532 (51.2%) to 235,988 (39.9%).

A Republican mid-November poll looked sketchy for Flake. Trump's favorable rating among Republicans then was 82% and Flake's was just 30%. Wade scored 19% and DeWit came in at 35%. Head-to-head match-ups showed Ward tying Flake 35-35% and DeWit beating him 42-33%. DeWit would have also won a 3-ways primary:
DeWit- 38%
Ward- 15%
Flake- 30%
Over the weekend Ward released a new poll of likely Republican primary voters from Political Marketing International. It shows Ward pulling ahead of Flake in a head-to-head match-up, 30% to 23%. Ward didn't released any polling that included DeWit, but she did boast that she was the "most conservative member of the Arizona State Senate in 2015" and reminded whomever reads her stuff that Flake is "one of President Trump's biggest foes."

[Note: Political Marketing Strategies is not a well-regarded firm and is pretty much considered one of those companies that delivers whatever results they're paid to deliver. Ward paid them $5,000 for this poll. She is touting it in a press release claiming Flake is "in freefall."]

That said, Flake, a freshman, could be in trouble with Arizona Republican primary voters. He's been a tad too independent-minded for most knee-jerk Republicans and if Trump really decides to make an example of him, he could be toast, even though Trump doesn't have an impressive track record interfering in GOP primaries. A North Carolina incumbent he strongly backed, Renee Ellmers, was eviscerated, barely coming in third in a 3-way race (George Holding- 53.4%, Renee Ellmers- 23.6%, Greg Brannon- 23.0%, just 207 votes separating the latter two). And Thursday, Trump's candidate to replace Mike Pompeo in KS-04, Alan Cobb, was badly beaten by run-of-the-mill establishment Republican Ron Estes.

Across the country, if not quite across the political spectrum, one of the very worst and most corrupt far-right Democrats elected in November, worthless Blue Dog, Josh Gottheimer (NJ) is well aware he's going to attract major Republican opposition in 2018. NJ-05 sits on the entire northern border of New Jersey with New York, from the Hudson River in the east to just outside of Port Jervis in the west, and the entire northwestern border with Pennsylvania from Milford to beyond the Delaware Water Gap. It's an affluent R+4 district in blue New Jersey. Over 70% of the population is in northern Bergen County's suburbs and towns like Paramus, Hackensack, Teaneck, Mahwah and Lodi (the Soprano's Bada Bing club town). In 2012 Romney beat Obama there by 3 points and this year Hillary managed to have beaten Trump 48.8% to 47.7%.

Gottheimer beat the incumbent Republican, bizarre extremist Scott Garrett, 156,863 (50.5%) to 146,643 (47.2%). Garrett managed to win in Sussex, Warren and Passaic counties but Bergen County voters were sick and tired of him and gave Gottheimer the 18,000-plus vote cushion he needed. Gottheimer immediately joined the Blue Dogs and started voting with the Republicans. Gottheimer-- who got more money from the banksters than any other non-incumbent running for the House this year ($889,419), outraised Garrett $4,288,192 to 2,055,513. Ryan and the NRCC were happy to see Garrett lose and they shut off the party spigots. Pelosi and the DCCC wasted over $3.8 million boosting a corrupt reactionary will will almost never vote for any progressive legislation. His ProgressivePunch crucial vote score is one of the worst of any Democrat's in the House-- 20% which basically means he's voting with Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy on virtually every one of their agenda items, giving them the opportunity to call their destructive proposals "bipartisan." Gottheimer is already damaging the Democratic brand and alienating Democratic voters. Obviously, he hasn't been involved with any resistance to Trump at all. Bergen County activists already hate him and are unlikely to support his reelection bid-- one that the Observer speculates could be a huge national circus, featuring xenophobe and racist asshole 72 year old Lou Dobbs, a longtime New Jersey resident lives in Sussex County, on a 300-acre horse farm in Wantage. The Observer analysis of the 2018 race is interesting, except that it's based on entirely incorrect numbers. For example they claim Garrett won 125,861 to 101,859 but that was before absentee and mail in ballots were counted and he actually won 156,863 to 146,643. So I'm going to throw out their faulty numbers are just use the bits of the sloppy journalism they got right.
In 2016... more voters fell off from Trump to Garrett than Clinton to Gottheimer. One can reasonably conclude that Gottheimer will be hurt more by running without a presidential candidate atop the ticket than the Republican challenger will be.

Voter registration (as of 11/30/2016): Republicans 144,959; Democrats 142,717; Unaffiliated 222,193. So it’s a slight GOP edge, but off-year elections tend to favor Republicans, though not necessarily in the first off-year election of a Republican presidency, when voters may be looking to apply a “check” on the president’s power.

...Prior to Gottheimer, the last time a Democrat won the GOP-leaning 5th was in 1974, when Andy Maguire upset 11-term incumbent Bill Widnall in the Watergate year. Maguire held on until 1980, when Roukema washed him out in the Reagan tidal wave.

The biggest question here, of course, is whether the GOP can lure a marquee candidate like Dobbs to run. With a huge national profile and over a million Twitter followers, he’d start with a strong base of support. But a Congressional seat might not seem like an attractive prize to a guy who’s been hosting his own show on national television for decades and has a closet full of Emmy and Peabody Awards.

Republicans will then have to see if Garrett runs again. He’s never been popular among establishment Republicans-- he ran close primaries against Roukema in 1998 and 2000. Garrett lost because of his own quirks and oddities, not because of his party affiliation. His odd refusal to pay dues to the Party unless it disavowed support for gay candidates sent buckets of national money into the coffers of Gottheimer, which hurt all Republicans in the district, especially the more moderate Bergen GOPers.

Two conservative northwest NJ Senators live in the district: Mike Doherty, 53 (R-Oxford) and Steve Oroho, 58 (R-Franklin). Doherty was the first NJ GOP pol to endorse Donald Trump. He’s encouraged speculation of runs of his own for statewide office since 2008, but he never pulls the trigger. Others include Assemblyman Parker Space, 48 (R-Wantage) and former state Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths, 51 (R-Wantage).

Of strong interest will be whether Bergen can come up with a high-quality, consensus candidate-- with or without Garrett. The bench is a bit depleted up there, but strong choices might include Assemblywoman Holly Shepisi (R-River Vale), 45, seeking fourth term in the Assembly; Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Old Tappan), 60, seeking third term in the Assembly; Republican State Chairman Samuel Raia, also the Mayor of Saddle River. Of these, Shepisi probably holds the strongest crossover appeal, while Raia has personal wealth.

Bergen lining up behind a consensus candidate might just be enough to ensure that person is the nominee. But at this writing, the BCRO might be in denial. Its website still shows Garrett as the Congressman.
Gottheimer deserves a primary opponent but I doubt if he has one it will be serious enough to deny him the renomination. There are local activists working to recruit someone to run against him. He deserves to be weakened enough so that he loses. He is inexorably dragging the congressional Democrats further right and further into Wall Street corruption. He could solve the Republicans' problem in NJ-05 by switching parties; it would make the most sense... and he wouldn't even have to change his voting habits.

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At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

The Republicans all stink to high hell. One is worse than the next. So with Flake, we should be thrilled he is not crazy? What a low bar.

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, forget about AZ. It's a lost cause. I spent a lot of time there in the past 2 decades... and just don't bother with it. The voters are delusional morons. The politics is toxic. And there isn't enough water to keep Phoenix slaked... much less anywhere else. Don't waste your time and effort.

NJ, otoh, is a beautiful state with a lot of potential... except the people, again, are delusional morons (electing a shitstain like cristco is proof). Hard to care about that lot of dumbfucktards... except it's such a beautiful state, outside of Hoboken area which is a shithole. The NYC influence. Head inland. Gorgeous landscapes, flora and fauna spoiled by towns and cities of the most deluded, regressive dumbfucktards found outside of TX, LA, MS, WV, GA, SC, NC, OK, AZ, UT...


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