Quick observations of 2016 election returns

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Outsiders win (mostly). The upset wins by President-elect Donald Trump, Governor-elect Eric Greitens and Attorney General-elect Josh Hawley demonstrated that the attraction of political outsiders did not end with the primaries. Voters wanted change, and they’ll get it, although both Trump and Greitens will be tested by their legislatures, including those from their own party.

Things were different in congressional races. In spite of Congress’ historically low approval ratings, only seven incumbent U.S. House members and two senators lost their seats last month. In Missouri, Sen. Roy Blunt won re-election in a race he was expected to lose, and all eight congressmen won re-election easily, albeit against underfunded challengers. All but one of the Missouri congressional contests produced a greater share for the Republican candidate (whether incumbent or challenger) than in the last presidential election in 2012 (including Jason Smith, whose 2012 total was earned by his popular predecessor, Jo Ann Emerson). The exception was Republican Ann Wagner, who trailed her 2012 share even though she didn’t have the benefit of incumbency back then, when she was first elected. Wagner generated resentment from Trump loyalists when she unendorsed Trump after the release of the Billy Bush video, but her congressional district was also the one Missouri district where Trump ran behind Mitt Romney’s 2012 pace.

Robin Smith’s candidacy was a dud. Well-known former television news anchor Robin Smith, a Democrat, was expected to run a decent campaign for Missouri Secretary of State. Democratic party leaders, paying homage to identity politics, had discouraging all but token primary opposition so she could be in a position to become the first African American elected to statewide office. While her general election opponent, Republican Jay Ashcroft, enjoyed the good will attached to his namesake father, popular former Gov. and Sen. John Ashcroft, the younger Ashcroft’s own electoral record was not good. His only prior stab at elective office was in 2014, a very Republican year, when he lost an open St. Louis County state senate seat then held by a Republican. Smith’s candidacy was actively publicized by the St. Louis American, St. Louis’ leading weekly newspaper primarily serving the African American community. While 2016 turned out to be a difficult year for Missouri Democrats, that fails to explain how poorly she fared compared to other Democrats on the ticket. Among the seven statewide Democratic candidates, Smith’s vote percentage was next to last, not only statewide but also in both St. Louis City and County, where Smith was best known.

A possible lesson here is that St. Louis voters have not reacted well to former news personalities seeking public office. Former KSDK reporter Mike Owens won less than 33% in a 2012 Democratic primary for state representative in a contest in which he was the only white, with two black candidates splitting the rest of the vote, and running with the support of his wife, influential Alderman (and possible future mayor) Lyda Krewson and her effective ward organization. Also, back around 1980, former KSDK anchor Bob Chase, a Republican, lost twice running for Congress in St. Louis County.

Paying the price for guessing wrong on Trump. Before Trump’s surge following the announced reopening of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, establishment Republicans tried to distance themselves from a nominee they regarded as a sure loser. They portrayed their decisions not to endorse their party’s standard bearer as a matter of principle, but everyone knew they thought that’s what they needed to do to save their own hides. Well, they guessed wrong about Trump, and many of them paid the price they were trying to avoid. Both incumbent Republican U.S. Senators and four of the six incumbent Republican congressmen to lose re-election, as well as the losing Republican who had the best chance to win a Democrat-held senate seat, were candidates who at some point (after the primaries) publicly rejected Trump. Rep. Ann Wagner of St. Louis County, who, as noted above, retracted her endorsement of Trump (though later announced she would vote for him), easily won re-election to her safe Republican seat, but was Missouri’s only Republican congressional candidate to get a lower share of the vote this year than in 2012.

Vote NO on Judge Calea Stovall-Reid

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The Unablogger

Voters in the City of St. Louis should vote NO on the retention of Associate Circuit Judge Calea Stovall-Reid.

We constantly hear police, from Chief Sam Dotson on down, complain how frustrating and demoralizing it is to see their untiring work to capture and put together cases against violent criminals go largely to waste when a judge lets them off with minimal bonds. Poof! Back on the street. These include criminals who are charged with brutally assaulting police officers. The judge they complain about the most is Stovall-Reid.

When police in my neighborhood organized neighbors to appear in court for a bond hearing to make the court aware of the impact release would have on the neighborhood, Stovall-Reid got wind of it and moved the bond hearing up so that it was over before the neighbors arrived. She has no respect for victims and law abiding citizens.

Don’t be fooled by the Your Missouri Judges reviews by a so-called independent panel. It is really just a smokescreen whose purpose is to promote the judges. The 21 panel members rate each judge basically on a pass/fail basis, and the judge’s score is the percentage of the 21 who graded “Pass.”  Their legalese term for “pass” is “substantially meets overall judicial performance standards.” The judge doesn’t even have to meet all performance standards or meet them all the time, just “substantially.” Well, big surprise, Stovall-Reid’s rating for this low-bar test was 100%. In fact, every judge on the City ballot from the supreme court down to Stovall-Reid scored 100%. (One judge in St. Louis County failed this test, and I’d love to know the back story.)

Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan is broken. Since it was adopted in the 1940s, the number of St. Louis area judges rejected by voters is zero. Not one! Too many people vote yes automatically because they wouldn’t want to fire anybody.

St. Louis can and should make history this year by making Stovall-Reid the first to be rejected.

The Libertarian felon is no alternative to Roy Blunt

The Unablogger

This post is a bit of a throwback to a post about Missouri’s U.S. Senate race in 2012. There’s good reason for the similarity: the Libertarian candidate who drew votes away from the Republican nominee then and the Libertarian candidate likely drawing votes away from Republican Sen. Roy Blunt now are the same guy, Jonathan Dine.

So, who is Jonathan Dine? For starters, he’s a convicted felon whom Missouri law would bar from the ballot in any state or local contest. (State law may not add additional qualifications (like not being a felon) for candidates for federal office over and above the bare requirements provided in the U.S. Constitution.) In addition to convictions for possession of marijuana (kind of a badge of honor for a Libertarian) and driving while intoxicated, Dine also has a 2005 conviction for identity theft. He supports gay marriage and drug decriminalization, while opposing U.S. “interventionist” foreign policy.

I am guessing that most Dine backers don’t know about his criminal past or his controversial issue positions (except for pro-pot). As was the case in 2012, the Voters Guide of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes no mention of Dine’s convictions.

This year’s senate contest virtually tied, so every vote counts. The Real Clear Politics polling average for the contest shows Blunt ahead by less than a point, with trend lines favoring Democrat Jason Kander. The only poll that specifically included Dine, the Monmouth University poll, showed Dine polling at 2%. Dine has a history of performing better, winning 6% in the 2012 contest. In a dead heat contest, he could tilt the balance.

There are two more third-party candidates in the race this year than in 2012, and one of them, Green Party candidate Johnathan McFarland, might be expected to even the playing field by doing to Kander what Dine may do to Blunt. But as indicated in an earlier post, the lamestream media are greasing the skids for Kander by actively concealing both McFarland’s candidacy and Dine’s criminal past.

Conservatives who are disappointed in Blunt’s record (Heritage Action score for support of conservative values = 49%) should realize that not voting for Blunt could easily result in victory for Kander, who would be at least as liberal as McCaskill (Heritage Action score = 5%). But more important, a Kander win could flip control of the U.S. Senate (and confirmation of Supreme Court justices) to Democrats.

We absolutely need a Republican Senate, regardless of who occupies the White House. We need Roy Blunt to be there for us.

Robin Smith is no political outsider

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Democrat Robin Smith is portraying herself as a political outsider in her campaign for Missouri Secretary of State. She isn’t.

Both Ms. Smith and Republican challenger Jay Ashcroft are second-generation candidates of political families. While the Ashcroft patriarch, former Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is better known with greater accomplishments, Smith’s political pedigree is actually larger. She is preceded in politics by both her father, the late Wayman Smith, Sr., and brother, Wayman Smith, Jr. Both were St. Louis aldermen serving in the rigidly controlled political machine of the late legendary state senator J. B. “Jet” Banks. With the Banks machine’s reputation for shady election practices, it is no coincidence that Ms. Smith’s choice of offices to seek is the one that supervises Missouri elections. The office also certifies and disciplines notaries public, who certify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots, the abuse of which was the election fraud that overturned the results of a contest in this year’s Missouri Democratic primary.

Recent Ashcroft ads disclosed that Ms. Smith has been delinquent in paying taxes. Ironically, the political career of Sen. Banks ended shortly after his conviction on felony charges of filing false state income tax returns.

Ms. Smith has also been involved in local politics. She was reputedly a close personal friend of notorious former St. Louis school superintendent Jerome Jones, whose administration was tarnished in 1987 by a scathing state audit called resulting from a citizen petition. Criticized for extravagant poorly documented spending of taxpayer funds, he may be best known for his comment that it was hard to find lunch in St. Louis for under $100. (Remember, those were 1987 dollars he was talking about.)

Ms. Smith’s claim to independence is her tenure as a reporter and anchor for three national television network affiliates in St. Louis. Toiling for local mainstream media outlets is anything but politically independent.

In addition to supervising elections and notaries public, the secretary of state also supervises business formation and disclosure, securities regulation and investor protection and publishes state administrative rules and regulations. While Ashcroft’s training and experience as an attorney well prepares him for these duties, there is nothing in Ms. Smith’s background that qualifies her for the job.

Media manipulation in MOSEN contest

The mainstream media in St. Louis, notably the daily newspaper monopoly of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, are used to controlling the flow of news by deciding unilaterally what is or isn’t news to disclose to the public. The rise of alternate internet and cable television news sources has jeopardized that monopoly, but it hasn’t prevented mainstream media from trying to restrict the flow of news.

A current example is coverage of the contest for the Missouri U. S. Senate seat now held by Republican Roy Blunt, the outcome of which could determine which party controls the Senate. There are five candidates for this office on the Missouri ballot, but most media only mention Blunt and his Democratic challenger Jason Kander. But the candidates who aren’t being covered are newsworthy. They aren’t being covered because the media are trying to help Kander and prevent votes that would hinder Kander’s chances if voters were better informed about their alternatives.

johnathan-mcfarland

Johnathan McFarland

One newsworthy senate candidate is Johnathan McFarland of the Green Party. He was quite newsworthy (for example, here and here) before he became a candidate. McFarland has been a leader and sometime spokesman of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson. Prior to that he was a leader and sometime spokesman of the Occupy movement. He is an articulate young African American with leadership skills. He is exactly the kind of candidate who would be more attractive than Kander to black and liberal white voters who would otherwise vote Democratic. The media suppress McFarland’s story to prevent him from receiving erstwhile Democrat votes.

jonathan-dine

Jonathan Dine

Another newsworthy senate candidate is Jonathan Dine of the Libertarian Party. He is newsworthy because he is a convicted felon, an identity thief no less. Candidates of the Libertarian Party ordinarily attract more support from Republicans and conservative independents than Democrats. But those voters would be less attracted to a Libertarian if they knew he was a convicted felon. As the Libertarian senate candidate in 2012, Dine drew a significant 6% of the vote, a higher percentage than Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is currently polling. The media conceal Dine’s important background information so that conservatives disappointed in Blunt will continue to consider Dine.

Since August, when Dine won the Libertarian primary for senate and the Green Party candidates were certified to appear on the Missouri ballot, the only mentions of either McFarland or Dine in the Post were the “The Senate forum also will include” sentence in an article before a debate with Blunt and Kander (with no mention of the participating third-party candidates in the followup coverage of what happened at the debate), their routine appearance in the Voters Guide, and passing mention in the “Also running” sentence in the editorial predictably endorsing Kander. Nowhere has the Post made any mention at all of McFarland’s activism or Dine’s felony past.  No Post coverage, not even the print edition of the Voters Guide, has included photographs (other than Blunt and Kander), so readers wouldn’t even know McFarland is black. The left-leaning faux-nonpartisan League of Women Voters was complicit in compiling the low-information Voters Guide.

Update: The morning after this post was published, The Post printed front-page candidate profiles about both Blunt and Kander. The stories were at the top of the front page and jumped to a center-fold page, where the two stories filled the page. Neither story mentioned either McFarland or Dine. Not. One. Word.

In contrast, On October 3 the Post ran a front-page feature about the three minor candidates running for Governor. Why different treatment? In this contest, the minor candidates are less newsworthy than those running for the Senate. But two of the three gubernatorial candidates, if known to voters, would be more likely to draw votes away from Republican Eric Greitens, as both Libertarian Cisse Spragins and independent Lester Turilli, Jr. are fairly conservative with respectable backgrounds. While a Green candidate could concievably draw votes from Democrat Chris Koster, Green gubernatorial nominee Don Fitz, a 68-year-old socialist who combines a farther-left version of the policies of Bernie Sanders with the charisma of Gary Johnson, is not regarded as much of a threat. Similarly, the Post‘s coverage of the State Treasurer’s race included two paragraphs about the Libertarian candidate and one paragraph about the Green. In both the gubernatorial and treasurer contests, where all candidates are white, the Post provided candidate photographs.

St. Louis Public Radio (KOMU), which has emerged as the primary St. Louis news alternative to the Post‘s stltoday since its merger with the former St. Louis Beacon, is following the Post‘s lead in (not) covering the senate race. A search of its web site shows no mention of either McFarland or Dine since 2012. This kind of news manipulation is especially abusive when done by a publicly funded agency, an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR).

The St. Louis media are concealing newsworthy information about McFarland that might cause some voters to vote for him instead of Kander, and newsworthy information about Dine that might cause other voters not to vote for him and vote instead for Blunt. It’s a small part of the “rigging” of elections by dishonest media that Donald Trump mentions frequently. It sounds crazy, but he’s actually right.

This behavior is consistent with the national mainstream media’s concealment of the Access Hollywood bus tape until a month before the general election, instead of during the primary season when Republicans still had a chance to nominate someone else. It is also consistent with the Post‘s concealment in 2002 of felony convictions of Al Hanson, Republican candidate for state auditor, until the day after he had upset the party’s recruit in the primary. That paved the way for Democrat Claire McCaskill’s first statewide win, which in turn gave her the political credibility to unseat Republican Sen. Jim Talent four years later.

St. Louis gets its own Marilyn Mosby

Kim Gardner

Kim Gardner

Marilyn Mosby

Marilyn Mosby

Out of this past week’s politically correct celebration of the sweep of all three citywide offices by African American candidates in the Democratic primary in the City of St. Louis, there is a note of concern for adherents of law and order. Kim Gardner, the state representative who won the Democratic nomination for Circuit Attorney, appears to be a protege of Marilyn Mosby, the controversial cop-hating Baltimore state’s attorney.

Retiring Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has worked closely with St. Louis police to get criminals off the streets, a chore made more challenging since the social unrest following nationally publicized incidents in Ferguson. Joyce supported Chief Sam Dotson’s program of “broken windows” law enforcement, an efficient practice that was called into question after Ferguson.

Joyce’s policies are about to change. After being declared the winner of her primary, Gardner said her election was “about building trust. This is about doing things differently.” What would she do differently? In her campaign brochure Gardner had promised “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” She blamed the city’s crime problems on “decades of public mistrust in the criminal justice system (law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges alike).” She also said one of her goals would be to increase diversity in the office, in which African Americans currently comprise a little over 10% of the lawyers.

I see a huge problem with the lead prosecutor announcing her intention “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” Most burglaries are non-violent. So are car thefts, defrauding seniors and other victims with Ponzi schemes, election fraud,  identity theft and heroine sales. What about robberies where a weapon is claimed but not actually displayed, or where a gun is brandished but no shots are fired? Gardner just announced to criminals in our area that they probably won’t have to go to prison for those sorts of crimes. Sounds to me like open season on crime victims.

Gardner won her contest over the opposition of both police unions, the predominantly white St. Louis Police Officers Association and the predominantly black Ethical Society of Police. She owes her victory instead to the near unanimous backing of African American political leaders (including Congressman Lacy Clay), black newspapers, and certain prominent Black Lives Matter activists. Her campaign’s largest financial benefactor was a committee funded by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros, who has also funded militant protests by Black Lives Matter activists. Gardner piled up huge margins in predominantly black wards, topping 70% in seven of them. Her closest competitor, Joyce’s lead homicide prosecutor Mary Pat Carl, won most white wards by mere pluralities, topping 50% only in her home ward. Gardner owes her new office to the black community, and owes law enforcement nothing but payback.

How did this happen? Primarily, voters were kept in the dark about the danger of what a Gardner win would mean. I attended a neighborhood meeting where the only candidates who appeared were the two white candidates. They referred to each other as “my opponent,” in the singular, as though no other candidates had filed. They had to have seen Gardner’s campaign flyer containing the statements mentioned above. Did political correctness prevent them from criticizing, or even mentioning, these dangerous policies propounded by an African American candidate?

Gardner’s win cannot realistically be reversed in the November general election. No Republican or third party candidate filed for the office, and the deadline for filing an independent candidate has passed. Gardner will be the only candidate on the ballot. Write-in votes are still possible, but such campaigns are rarely successful.

When speaking in St. Louis after having been elected governor of California, Ronald Reagan reportedly took note Ramsey Clark, the civil libertarian who headed the Justice Department under President Lyndon Johnson. Reagan asked, “How do you win a war against crime when the attorney general is a dove?” That may turn out to be an apt description of the St. Louis crime scene with Gardner as Circuit Attorney.

Peter Kinder is most electable choice for MO governor

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

You wouldn’t know it from all the negative ads, but the Republican primary for Missouri governor offers four excellent, conservative choices to succeed lame duck Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon. Early on, I settled on Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder as my likely first choice, followed closely by former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Former Navy Seal (and former Democrat) Eric Greitens has the support of many conservatives whose opinions I respect. Businessman John Brunner rubs me the wrong way, but I would still happily support him in the general election if he wins the primary. All of them would be better than likely Democrat nominee, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, an insincere and opportunistic former Republican and Nixon protege.

I had leaned to Kinder because he was both a proven conservative and a proven winner. He repeatedly earned his conservative chops by having the Tea Party’s back when others shied away. That’s why St. Louis Tea Party Coalition co-founder Dana Loesch (now a television personality for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze) has endorsed Kinder and recorded radio ads for him. Rush Limbaugh’s endorsement is also a plus, but partially explained by his and Kinder’s childhood friendship in Cape Girardeau. Kinder (like Hanaway and Brunner but not Greitens) is endorsed by Missouri Right to Life. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (click “Statewide” tab) endorsed no gubernatorial candidate, but rated Kinder highest at A+. (Hanaway’s record earned her an A (not the D rating claimed by one false negative ad), while Brunner and Greitens, who have no elective record, got the AQ rating based on their questionnaires.)

Some question Kinder’s character because of a well publicized photograph of him with an exotic dancer with whom he had a brief relationship, but Kinder was not married or otherwise in a committed relationship, so that shouldn’t matter. There were also some questionable hotel expenditures billed to the state early in his tenure as lieutenant governor, but he reimbursed the state completely and has not repeated the practice since. In 2012, both Republican primary challenger, State Sen. Brad Lager, and Democrat general election foe, former State Auditor Susan Montee, pounded Kinder with negative ads on both matters, but Kinder defeated both challengers. The general election win was especially impressive, because Kinder overcame not just the formidable Montee but also a third-party challenge on the right from former Missouri House Minority Whip Cynthia Davis. Kinder’s win was also notable because he won while every other statewide Republican candidate (except Presidential nominee Mitt Romney) lost. Kinder is a proven general election winner.

Today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch published the details of a professional Mason-Dixon poll taken July 23-24, which confirm my expectations of Kinder’s general election strength. The headline shows that Kinder, while running fourth, is nevertheless within the margin of error for the win, with 17% still undecided. Buried on the inside page, though, were important trial heats against Koster.While Koster led all four Republicans in a poll skewed Democratic (see below), he led Kinder by just a single point, while Brunner lost by 6, Hanaway by 16 and Greitens by an astounding 22 points. This has to be sobering for Greitens supporters like my friend Bill Hennessy, who have touted Greitens as the only Republican likely to beat Koster. It must also be sobering for Democrats who, in coordination with the Koster campaign, have just spent around a million dollars trashing Greitens with ads that mostly ran after the poll was taken.

The poll also sampled favorability ratings, with Kinder on top with net favorability (favorable minus unfavorable) of +20, followed by Brunner (+10), Hanaway (+5) and Greitens (-3). Kinder was the only one to top Koster (+17).

It should be noted that both the trial heats and favorability ratings were skewed against all Republicans, because the sample was evenly divided between likely Republican and Democrat primary voters, apparently with no true independents. Since 2000, the actual November electorate has been much more Republican.

The past four years have demonstrated the importance of electability. Republican majorities in both houses of the General Assembly have passed landmark conservative reforms which Democrat Nixon vetoed. While Republicans were able to override some vetoes, vetoes of other key legislation, like right-to-work, stood. Maintaining two-thirds majorities is difficult and unreliable; getting a like-minded governor to sign legislation passed with just a simple majority is easier and more reliable. But you don’t get a principled Republican governor unless he defeats Koster.

I endorse Peter Kinder for Missouri Governor.