Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Crawling Through The Wreckage Of This Year's Republican Party Primaries


Although Dana Rohrabacher is a special case we can look at below, basically there are no Republicans in Congress who are being primaried because they are too Trumped-up. The most Trumpified lunatics in the House-- take Matt Gaetz (FL) or Devin Nunes (CA) as perfect examples-- have no mainstream Republicans trying to take them out. Mainstream Republicans are either a figment of our imaginations or being mighty quiet this year. Instead, Trumpists are savaging GOP incumbents who they claim aren’t sufficiently servile to Señor Trumpanzee. Even without Bannon running a purity jihad from the White House, right-wing extremists and on the attack.

NC-09 stretches along the southern border of the state, from the eastern and southern Charlotte metro, through Monroe, Wadesboro, Laurinburg, and Lumberton into eastern Fayetteville. The PVI is R+8. Obama lost it both times and the district went for Trump last year 54.4% to 42.8%. The incumbent is Republican Robert Pittenger, who has a solidly conservative voting record but been a target of Tea Party extremists since 2014 when he said he wouldn't support shutting down the government over an attempt to destroy Obamacare. They ran crackpot Michael Steinberg, who wasn’t able to get much traction. Pittenger won with 67%. Last cycle he had two GOP primary challengers from the right, Mark Harris and Todd Johnson, which proved to be a very tough primary for him:

Now that’s a close call for an incumbent-- 134 votes! This year the DCCC is running a Republican-lite Blue Dog, Dan McCready and as of the December 31 FEC reporting deadline, McCready had outraged Pittenger $1,221,979 to $780,250. Making matters worse for Pittenger, Mark Harris is primarying him again-- and raised some decent money-- $406,222-- forcing Pittenger to spend all his dough on the primary. A couple of weeks ago the biggest newspaper in the district covered the May 8th primary by running a PolitiFact smackdown with this provocative headline: GOP rival says Pittenger is among the 'most liberal' Republicans in Congress. False.
To close the voting gap before the May 8 primary, Harris is questioning Pittenger’s conservative credentials.

Pittenger has represented North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District since 2013, when he succeeded retiring Republican Sue Myrick. A Charlotte resident, Pittenger previously served in the state Senate and in 2008 ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.

In a recent newsletter, Harris criticized Pittenger for supporting a spending bill that raised the debt ceiling.

“Robert Pittenger showed us yet again why he is constantly rated as one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress,” the newsletter says.

There are 535 voting members of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate). Republicans control Congress with nearly 300 seats: 238 in the House and 51 seats in the Senate.

The term "most liberal" is somewhat subjective. But we at PolitiFact North Carolina wondered whether conservative watchdog groups have consistently singled out Pittenger as liberal.

We contacted the Harris campaign to see what ratings systems he’s referencing in the newsletter.

The primary source for the statement is a rating by Conservative Review, according to Harris campaign spokesman Andy Yates. Conservative Review is a website edited by Mark Levin, a talk radio host who has referred to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell as a "dummy" and "failure."

"Pittenger has a 55% F grade with them. It is the second worst grade of any NC Republican House member (McHenry is the worst)," Yates said in an email, referring to Rep. Patrick McHenry, who represents Western North Carolina. "Pittenger has consistently graded out as an F with this group which marks him as one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress."

Yates is right about Pittenger's standing among the 10 North Carolina Republicans in the House. Whether that puts him among the most liberal Republicans in these rankings depends on how one defines "most liberal."

According to Conservative Review’s scorecard, there are about 90 House Republicans-- about 36 percent-- who have lower "Liberty Scores" than Pittenger. Among those with lower scores than Pittenger: House Speaker Paul Ryan and majority whip Steve Scalise.

Yates also cited Pittenger’s 2018 rating with FreedomWorks, which is zero. FreedomWorks is a libertarian-leaning advocacy group. The scorecard mostly covers fiscal policy, civil liberties and regulatory issues, said Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks.

Pye referred to Pittenger as "unreliable" when it comes to reining in spending. Pittenger "generally votes with leadership, and they like to bust spending caps and bust the budget-- things we’re opposed to," Pye said. 
Pittenger has a "Lifetime Score" of 70 with the FreedomWorks. There are about 114 House members with lower lifetime scores than Pittenger. Pittenger's score places him slightly to the right of California Republican Devin Nunes and slightly to the left of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, also of North Carolina.

Pittenger's Conservative Review rating and his lifetime rating on FreedomWorks aren’t extremely liberal (or conservative) compared to other congressional Republicans… Pittenger votes out-of-step with the majority of Republicans 5.5 percent of the time, according to ProPublica. The group says that’s close to the average for Republicans in Congress.

He has a score of 90 percent with Heritage Action for America, a watchdog group and think tank that says it “turns conservative ideas into reality on Capitol Hill.” The average score for House Republicans is 68 percent.

According to a vote tracker on, Pittenger’s votes are aligned with Trump 96.9 percent of the time. And there are dozens of Republican House members who vote in-step with Trump less than Pittenger.

…PolitiFact ruling

Harris said Pittenger is "constantly rated as one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress." We can’t find the results to back that up. So we rate this claim False.

Pittenger has been handing out a campaign document to media: “Rep. Robert Pittenger: Unapologetically Pro Trump,” which detailed the “over 200” media appearances, six rallies, nine town halls and other instances in which Pittenger has offered robust defenses” of Señor Trumpanzee. Club for Growth, always looking to elect extremists and neo-fascists, is backing Harris. As in GOOP primaries around the country, the one in NC-09 has support for Señor T big factor for the dumbed-down Republican electorate, with both sides accusing the opponent of disloyalty to the fascist regime. The latest poll shows Pittenger absolutely crushing Harris so far, up 32 points over him.

Another mainstream conservative in the South, Alabama’s Martha Roby, is under attack for not being pro-Trump enough. Her district, AL-02-- the southeast corner of the state, including part of Montgomery, all of Greenville and Dothan-- has an R+16 PVI that has given Democrats about a third of its vote. Trump beat Hillary 65% to 33%. There are 5 Republicans primarying Roby, one being former Blue Dog Democrat Bobby Bright, who she beat in 2012, and is now a born-again Trumpist. Noe-fascist state Rep. State Rep. Barry Moore is even further right. Everyone is claiming to be Trumpier than Roby, who denounced Trump after the Access Hollywood tape. Another candidate attacking Roby from the (far) right is Rich Hobson, Roy Moore’s campaign manager.

Bright was exactly the kind of Blue Dog the DCCC is recruiting now. He describes himself to Alabama Republicans as having been more Republican in Congress “than several dozen Republican counterparts” and says he was “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and does not believe in same-sex marriage.” Thank God, he’s admitting he’s a Republican now or Lujan and Pelosi would be trying to lure him back to Congress as a Democrat. “Everything that you might think a Democrat believes, I wasn’t there,” he told the local media recently. The primary is June 5 and Bright can’t repeat often enough that he will help “President” Donald Trump any way he could in pushing the “president’s” America-first agenda.

The Staten Island/Brooklyn district (NY-11) that elected former D.A. Dan Donovan (R) after Mafia thug Michael “Mikey Suits” Grimm was sent to federal prison, may be ready to send Grimm, now out of prison, back to Congress. The district’s PVI is R+3. It was the only district in NYC Trump won, beating Hillary 53.6% to 43.8%, a district Obama won in 2012 by over 4 points. The DCCC recruited a very conservative Blue Dog, Max Rose, who would be a complete long shot except for this wave. But Donovan has a bigger problem now-- winning the primary, especially after he was exposed over the weekend in a shockingly sordid affair, perhaps typical for Staten Island but… well, not something voters are likely to forget. The NY Post scooped everyone about how Donovan used his official position to get his baby mama’s son out of a heroin arrest on Staten Island.
Donovan, a former district attorney who now represents Staten Island and part of South Brooklyn, stepped in after his domestic partner’s son was arrested with a friend for “criminal sale and possession of a controlled substance (heroin),” according to an allegation filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics last week.

Timothy O’Connell, son of Serena Stonick, was detained with the female friend after the bust, the allegation states. The friend’s name is being withheld by The Post.

“Later that evening, Donovan, while serving in Congress and as a former District Attorney, visited the 122 Precinct and used his position to illegally request that officers issue O’Connell and [the friend] a ‘desk appearance ticket’ instead of proceeding with normal arrest protocols,” the allegation says. “This intervention allowed the detained to be immediately released from custody, as well as the records to be sealed.”

A desk appearance ticket lets an arrested person show up in court at a later date to answer a summons and avoid being sent to central booking, jailed or arraigned.

…[Donovan spokesman Pat] Ryan noted that when Donovan first began dating Stonick in 2011, she told him that her daughter also struggled with addiction and was in drug-treatment court. As the DA at the time, Donovan requested and was granted a special prosecutor in that case.

Donovan and Stonick now have a young daughter together.

“This is a disgusting, vicious and false attack on a young man’s struggle with addiction to score political points two months before an election,” Ryan said, referring to June’s GOP congressional primary in which Donovan will face ex-con former Rep. Michael Grimm.

Ryan pointed to O’Connell’s arrest report, which shows the young man did not make a phone call after being collared.

O’Connell’s attorney, Joe Mure, said his client was charged with seventh-degree criminal drug possession, not sale. The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail. The charge was dismissed in March 2016.

Mure claimed four glassine bags of heroin were found in the woman’s wallet when police pulled her and O’Connell over and that marijuana was later found in her shoe at the station house. But the arrest report indicates O’Connell was seen buying heroin.

Ryan said, “We’re not saying [O’Connell] was charged without any cause.”

O’Connell denied doing drugs.

“No marijuana, no heroin. I don’t even drink . . . I go to church every Sunday,” he said.

He denied Donovan helped him get out of trouble. His friend would not comment on the case.

The tipster who made the allegation to the Office of Congressional Ethics said “multiple sources” contributed to the account, including a retired cop and an active detective on Staten Island, elected officials and someone close to the female friend.

The source close to the friend said the woman was driving O’Connell when he asked to go to a house in Great Kills. The source was told that “he went in, he came out. They continued driving. They were pulled over. They were found with drugs.”

The source said that if Donovan did quash the arrests, he made the wrong decision.

“I thought if these kids went through the system and you get a taste of prison... That’s going to scare you some, and maybe it was a chance to keep these kids off drugs,” the person said.
Ironically, when Grimm was in Congress he had the same kind of mainstream conservative record as Donovan does. But now Grimm is attacking Donovan for it and running as an extreme, off-the-cliff Trumpist. Democrats generally feel they can flip the seat more easily if Grimm wins the primary. No one seriously though he could until this weekend.

Todd Rokita is an unaccomplished Indiana member of Congress currently embroiled in a tough primary against Luke Messer, another unaccomplished Indiana Rep. They’re both running for a Senate nomination. Rokita’s new ad doesn’t mention anything remotely connected to issues or policy-- just that he’s the Trumpiest Republican in the race. Writing for the Washington Post today, Aaron Blake noted that the ad encapsulates the all-consuming tribalism of Trump’s Republican Party. “The ad,” he wrote, “titled ‘MAGA,’ is a remarkable little window into how at least one candidate thinks you win in today's GOP, and Rokita hopes it's his ticket to the Republican nomination to face Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) next month… [Trump] has turned a Republican Party that was all about conservative purity earlier this decade into one that is more about Trump purity. It's a party built on personality whose base has stood by Trump, even as he has shrugged off an antagonistic foreign power's incursion into U.S. elections. It's a party that almost instantly and universally dismisses every Trump-inspired controversy as unimportant and a media creation-- even ‘fake news.’… The problem with being the most ‘with Trump,’ though, is that what it requires can change depending on the day. Trump isn't just a political novice-- he's a chameleon. That may sound harsh and negative, but it's objectively true and even a testament to Trump's ability to hold his base almost by sheer force of personality. The prevailing ethos of Trump's presidency isn't conservative policies so much as ‘Trump will take care of it, and don't worry about the details. There's no question as to why candidates such as Rokita want to be associated with Trump. But just at its core, Rokita isn't subscribing to any specific policies; he's subscribing to supporting a president who might do all kinds of things he never expected. Yet Rokita has wagered that the most important thing is that he assures people he'll be along for the ride.

And that brings us to Dana Rohrabacher in the coastal Orange County district (CA-48). Hillary narrowly beat Trump there and Rohrabacher has been successful exposed as a Putin puppet. California has open primaries and there’s aq slight chance Rohrabacher won’t even make it into the general election. New Dem Harley Rouda is favored to win among Democrats-- and he would for sure except for the support the DCCC is surrepticuousl funneling to another New Dem, Hans Keirstead, a candidate who looks good on paper but who has been a complete bust in the flesh. Rohabacher’s other problem in the primary, though, is former Assemblyman and former Orange County GOP chairman Scott Baugh. Now Baugh, a former Rohrabacher ally, is attacking him as a Putin puppet, likely to help Rouda if Rohrabacher makes the general. Trump’s unpopular in the district and he’s not really as much of a factor as he is in GOP primaries in the rest of the country-- unless Putin = Trump in the minds of Republican primary voters in South Brooklyn which is lousy with pro-Putin (and pro-Trump) Russian immigrants who are extremely disloyal to the U.S. and ought to be all deported as dangerous aliens.

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At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprising, is it. Boilerplate republicans know the trump stink is thick and they would need to swim very briskly upstream against the anti-red wave.
However, the true Nazis, the devoted doctrinaires are seeing an opportunity to purge the last of the boilerplate republicans and totally remake the party in their own image.

Anyone remember Germany in the late '20s to mid '30s? Or I should ask does anyone in this shithole know any history?

Sure the trump stink/anti-red wave might flush a lot of democraps into the pool... for a cycle or two. But everyone should know that the democraps have no intention to "earn" any windfall. So their "success" shall be short-lived.

After the democraps fail/betray and are anti-blue-waved out of power again by 2020 or so, the Nazis want to be sure that all those that are flushed back into the pool are THEIR kind of Nazis and NOT the boilerplate sort... like Collins, Murkowski and rand paul.

Wherever an R electorate can be sufficiently poisoned or defrauded, they will seed their party with trumpist Nazis and cull all other modes of thought.

2020 may be our last election and it may be the one that either creates the vacuum that gives us the next, last trump or it may be the one that gives us our final fuhrer. Pence would seem to be the logical candidate. Someone much worse can always emerge. Trump came out of nowhere. Someone worse can do the same.

Don't count on the democraps intervening. They're bent on only ca$hing in on the anti-red wave. They're not going to return anything back to pre-Reagan.

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amidst the detritus of the calamity one will find the DxCC scavenging for crumbs and looking for tools to use against the growing encroachment of progressives amidst the membership.


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