The following were, to me, by far the most … satisfying results of Election 2014. There’s one more … but it hasn’t been called yet and I’ll add it when that happens. See update*.
*AK – Senate
The satisfaction I feel at the return of this seat to the Republican column (confirmed today) doesn’t have much to do with any feelings I have toward Dan Sullivan or even [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001265′ ]. Of course, I’d have a strong preference for a Sullivan victory in any case, but the seat held a special significance for me for the fact that [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001265′ ] won it due to the corruption of the Justice system for clearly partisan ends.
The late Ted Stevens was a pork fiend, but what happened to him in 2008 was a travesty.
Not only did Democratic partisan prosecutors at the Department of Justice seek and issue indictments against him just a few short months before Election Day (which violated DoJ rules), not only did they engage in the strategic leaking of what amounted to no more than innuendo and outright libel/slander against the Senator for friendly reporters to plaster on the front pages of Alaska’s newspapers and in the headlines outside Alaska’s borders, they also “forgot” to share documents with the defense, prevented exculpatory witness testimony from being heard in open court, and when it came to the documents they did share with the defense they actually redacted exculpatory passages from witness interview transcripts.
The Ted Stevens case was a political operation masquerading as a criminal prosecution. [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001265′ ] may have just happened to be the beneficiary of it … or maybe there was some nudging and winking and a few strategically timed phone calls here and there.
Either way, Dan Sullivan’s ouster of [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001265′ ] is worth celebrating simply for going some way to negate the Democratic tactic of using the justice system as a political weapon. The icing on the cake would have been Ted Stevens – reputation restored – celebrating along with Dan Sullivan – but he died in a plane crash in 2010, thankfully after having the corruption of his prosecutors discovered and his conviction vacated.
MD – Governor
The Hogan – Brown race makes the list simply for being so completely unexpected. Polling had the Illinois and Massachusetts Gubernatorial races being close and I was tangentially aware of who Charlie Baker and Bruce Rauner were. The Maryland Governor’s race was entirely off my radar.
I actually had no idea who was running on either side up until it was announced in mid-October that Obama was heading to Prince George’s County to rally the troops for one Anthony Brown. Well, I thought; there’s at least one Democrat who doesn’t mind being seen with Obama. My second thought; there’s the next Governor of Maryland. My next thought; the media that pretends that there’s nothing interesting about the racial/ethnic backgrounds of [mc_name name=’Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001184′ ], Brian Sandoval, Bobby Jindal, Mia Love, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez are going to go crazy over Anthony Brown.
I honestly never felt the slightest curiosity about who the Republican sacrificial lamb was. Then I read a story a week later about Chris Christie heading to Maryland to stump for a guy named Larry Hogan. Okay, I thought, so that’s the guy who’s going to lose to Anthony Brown – awfully nice gesture on Christie’s part. Still no curiosity about who he was, what his positions were, what the polling figures were saying, etc.
So seeing the tick mark appear next to Hogan’s picture was very much a “WTF” moment. What the heck just happened?That’s when I finally got curious about Larry Hogan.
What makes this all the sweeter – quite apart from the fact that he is also a social conservative and strong on the Second Amendment – is that the last Republican Governor of Maryland (Bob Ehrlich) enjoyed a 55% approval rating heading into Election Day in 2006. And he lost. Days later, as he recounts, Ehrlich started receiving phone calls and letters from voters apologizing for voting against him; they just wanted to send a message to George W. Bush in Washington.
Maybe a large part of Hogan’s five point win were due to some large number of Marylanders similarly wanting to send a message to Obama in Washington, or maybe it’s because he ran an excellent campaign – even if it was under the radar.
Either way, seeing that tick mark by his picture was a great moment, and he makes my list.
ME – Governor
Paul LePage got unto my radar in 2011. From Wikipedia; “He … declined a request by the NAACP to meet with Black inmates at the Maine State Prison, stating he would only meet with all inmates regardless of race if he visited the prison. When questioned, LePage said he would not be “held hostage” by special interest groups including the NAACP, and laughingly told a local news reporter, “Tell them they can kiss my butt.” When the NAACP tried to make a racial issue out of it, “… if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they’d like about it.”
Seriously, what’s not to love about the guy?
Quite apart from being very very open about how much he despises the Left-leaning press corps in Maine – going as far as telling a newspaper editorial board that he didn’t want their endorsement, he has made an artform of calling out the Democratic Leadership in the Maine State Legislature in language that would send the majority of the cocktail set in Washington – especially the Republicans – swooning to their fainting couches.
He seems to love nothing better than taking a dump on liberals’ most treasured nostrums and pieties. From removing murals celebrating striking workers from the lobby of the supposed-to-be impartial Maine Department of Labor, to demanding that welfare recipients actually do something productive in return for any form of public assistance, to questioning the sanity of people who think transgender issues should be introduced into K-12 education, LePage is like a honey badger in human form.
Which isn’t so far from the truth; his story should at least qualify for a made-for-TV movie on the Hallmark channel – and if he were a Democrat, it would have. He ran away from home at age eleven to get away from an abusive father, lived on the streets homeless for two years and was able to work his way up doing every sort of odd job until he could get into college, graduate and become a successful businessman and be elected Mayor and then Governor – twice. All this while speaking English as a second language. Much to their frustration, when Democrats accuse him of – of course – waging a “war on the poor”, his sharp retort that he knows more about being poor than any of them bears the unmistakable ring of truth.
So, seeing him beat Mike Michaud, his fellow Republicans recapture the Maine State Senate, narrow a 30 seat gap in the State House down to 10 and elect a strong Republican ally in Bruce Poliquin in Michaud’s place … now that had me grinning from ear to ear.
PS: Enjoy …
CO – Senate
[mc_name name=’Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000562′ ]’s cheerful, yet brutal termination of the obnoxious “War on Women” meme as he stomped Mark ‘Uterus’ Udall to the ground makes the list. Anyone who has watched Michael Jordan play will tell you that its a pleasure all its own to watch a move being executed with such grace and precision. Watching a near perfectly executed campaign get the result it deserves is just as sweet – more so, actually.
A lot has been said by better writers than me about this race. But I have to take a moment to remember the hilarious few days when Gawker’s sports offshoot carefully took aim at [mc_name name=’Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000562′ ] vis-a-vis his “unheralded sports career”, shot and blew off both feet. What was even more hilarious was watching the very same excited progressive media figures and bloggers who called Deadspin’s Dave McKenna’s “big scoop” the end of [mc_name name=’Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000562′ ]’s campaign flailing about, with all sorts of conspiracy theories.
A few years ago, the conventional wisdom of the Republican consultant class would have had Gardner being advised to “ignore” the whole thing and not bother responding. Gardner made a bigger fan of me by simply posting a picture of his high school self – in his football uniform.
That he won, and so early in the night … now that was cool.
NC – Senate
Personally, I think Thom Tillis stumbled quite a bit in his campaign, and to be honest, he seemed far from the most exciting candidate. Furthermore, it annoys me when people shorten Thomas to “Thom” – they usually turn out to be pretentious latte-sipping twits.
But there are a few reasons this race was one I watched closely. One was that I clearly remember the seat being lost by Liddy Dole – who was fresh off leading the most disastrous term (2004 – 2006) as Chairman of the NRSC in recent memory. Another was that this was another race where the Democrats were definitely going to deploy their “War on Women” and “Far Right Extremist!” shtick. For all the complaints about Thom Tillis not being conservative enough, any look at his record as Speaker of the North Carolina House would have to acknowledge that the agenda he and his caucus have pursued and the policies they’ve enacted have been anything but timid. North Carolina Republicans have passed open-carry laws on guns, enacted Voter ID laws, cut regulations, taxes and entitlement programs, eliminated teacher tenure, introduced school vouchers, and made abortion clinics in North Carolina have to meet the same hygiene and facility standards that any other out-patient surgical facility must meet to operate.
Which leads me to the most important reason for this race getting my attention; “Moral Mondays”. 2010 saw the voters of North Carolina send strong Republican majorities to both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. In 2012, the people of North Carolina saw fit to elect their first GOP Governor in 20 years and send even stronger Republican majorities to the General Assembly.
Since then – for nearly two years – the Left in North Carolina has been engaged in an ongoing temper tantrum spearheaded by the head of the state chapter of the NAACP. The media – both national and state – have showered the protests and protest leaders with nothing but praise and uncritical sympathy, and have generally transmitted the charges levelled against the Republican Governor and the GOP legislative majority as the gospel truth to the citizens of North Carolina, and of course very excitedly reported the resulting fall in approval ratings as if it had nothing to do with their own coverage.
The consensus – also echoed by the GOP consultant class – was that Republicans in North Carolina had taken the Purple Tar Heel state “Too Far Right, Far Too Fast”, and that the good “moderate” people of North Carolina were going to punish the GOP, starting with Thom Tillis, for it.
So what happened? After two years of protests, hysterical apocalyptic headlines, outspending the GOP by many millions of dollars, and tons of utterly shameless race-baiting, Republicans lost a grand total of … three seats in the State House (thereby keeping their veto-proof majority) and actually flipped one state Senate seat.
Oh … and Tillis won.
KS – Senate
For myself, and, I suspect, a lot of Republicans in and out of Kansas, the reason why [mc_name name=’Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000307′ ]’ 11 point victory was so … nice, had a lot less to do with Roberts himself, than it had to do with the insult to the intelligence of Kansas’ voters that was Greg Orman’s “Independent” campaign and the suddenly super-credulous media coverage of it.
His campaign clearly coordinates with the national Democratic Party to convince the Democratic Party’s Senate nominee to drop out. Then Democratic operatives are sent to helm and staff his campaign. Then Democrats start pouring money into his campaign coffers, including holding New York fundraisers sponsored by folks with Soros as a last name. All the while pretending – despite running against Roberts six years ago as a Democrat, and a history making numerous donations to the most liberal of Democrats – that he had absolutely no idea, not an inkling, of who he’d caucus with if he did get elected to the Senate.
As Jay Cost noted, Orman and the Democrats were playing “a variant of the game Democrats have been playing for years now, with an extra layer of deception: Find a candidate who can win over Republican voters in red states by talking about his independent-mindedness, and when he gets to Washington he’ll be there when you really need him.” Orman just intensified it by dropping the party label.
Even more irritating was watching journalists (both in-state and nationwide) – a profession made of people who loudly pride themselves on their skepticism – fail to notice his dodging of basic questions, his associations, his political history, his contributors, the openly Democratic bent of his campaign staff, etc. essentially play along with him, and the rest of the Democratic Party, that he was an “Independent.”
Cost labelled this tactic “sneak[ing] it past the rubes.”
So it was very gratifying, to say the least, to see the “rubes” (Kansas voters) emphatically let everyone know that are not quite the idiots Greg Orman, the Democratic Party and their media adjuncts obviously think they are.
FL – Governor
I have no strong feelings for or against Governor Rick Scott, except for my strong generic preference for Republicans to beat Democrats. However, I do harbor some strong feelings when it came to his opponent – the (very) Dishonorable Charles Joseph Crist Jnr. – the poster child for principle-free politics everywhere, whose campaign was yet another Democratic insult to the intelligence of a state’s voters.
No clued-in observer of Charlie Crist believed for one second that his loud political career-ending support for the newly elected President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan had anything to do with the belief that it was good for the nation or Florida – rather than the belief that it was good Charlie Crist. If vulgar opportunism were to be made flesh, it would behave, look, sound, stink and tan like Charlie Crist.
The people of Florida decided to punish him for it – proving that Lincoln was right; “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Having now lost as a Republican, Independent and Democrat, the only thing left is for Charlie Crist to go under the knife and lose as a woman – or to be more accurate, an orange facsimile of one.
The only fly in the ointment of Crist losing was that he lost by such a narrow margin. Given his massive ego, he’d think he still has a future in politics. May the good people of Florida continue to disabuse him of that notion.
KS – Governor
Let’s start with the fact that I have always been a fan of Sam Brownback. But until numerous stories started popping up that he was in danger of losing his bid for reelection, I simply paid his race no mind. It’s Kansas, isn’t it? Where Obama lost 2:1?
Oh, I realized … it’s Kansas.
The Kansas State Republican Party is unique in that it has long harbored – I’d go as far as say nurtured – what can only be described as a proudly open and active Fifth Column in its ranks. Alternately labelling themselves “moderates” or “‘Traditional’ Republicans”, and disingenuously holding up Dwight Eisenhower as some sort of talisman, these “Republicans” have long been closely allied with organizations and interest groups that in any other state would raise eyebrows among the Republican rank-and-file; including public employee unions and trial lawyers’ associations.
The end result was that despite heavy Republican majorities in both the State House and State Senate, a de facto fiscally and socially liberal coalition had long been in charge of the Kansas State Legislature, with a large subset of so-called “moderate” Republicans effectively caucusing with a few liberal Democrats to enact liberal legislation and drastically water down or thwart conservative policies.
Quite apart from compiling quite liberal records by any state’s standards, a large number of Republican elected and party officials in Kansas had also developed a habit of endorsing and contributing to Democrats in competitive races. In fact, for a long while, given the large number of Kansas Democratic candidates describing themselves as former Republicans (Greg Orman included), one would have been forgiven for thinking that the Kansas GOP had a side business as a finishing school for Kansas’ next generation of Democratic politicians – Kansas Republicans have the distinction of being the first to have a State Party Chairman defect to join the Democratic Gubernatorial ticket and eventually serve as a Democratic Governor.
Then Sam Brownback was elected Governor of Kansas.
And, as to be expected, the so-called “moderates” lined up to oppose his agenda, up to and including obstensibly Republican Committee Chairmen in the State Senate refusing to hold hearings on legislation passed by the more conservative House. At the forefront of it all, leading the campaign against a Governor of his own party with denunciations of Brownback’s “extreme agenda” was the supposedly “Republican” State Senate President, Stephen Morris.
What was not expected was what happened next. In 2012, Brownback, along with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, found conservative challengers for every single one of the so-called “moderates” and, overcoming a 3-to-1 spending disadvantage and a thoroughly hostile media environment, successfully turfed eight of them out of the State Senate, including the aforementioned Stephen Morris. At least three of the so-called “moderates” went on to endorse the Democrat for the general election.
The Republican challengers won anyway.
The so-called “purge of the moderates” garnered an unprecedented (especially for state legislative primaries) amount of national attention. And so it went for the next two years – Kansas newspapers continuously inundated Kansas voters with tales of impending catastrophe under apocalyptic headlines, liberal magazine writers and newspaper columnists (including Thomas Frank himself) wrote numerous warmed over “What’s the matter with Kansas?” style articles about Kansas being taken to the “Far Right” by its “extremist” Governor and his “extremist” allies in the State Legislature.
Meanwhile, true to form, Stephen Morris and over 500 other Kansas Republican “moderates” – including former State Party Chairmen, former Lt. Governors, Attorneys General, etc. – organized themselves into groups with names like “Kansas Republicans for Common Sense” and “Republicans for Kansas Values” to endorse Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for Governor – and Greg Orman for Senate – much to the delight of the state and national news media.
By the time October rolled around, the conventional wisdom was settled – this was the year of Brownback’s comeuppance. There were many more polls where he was down than polls in which he was up. Thomas Frank, Joe Klein and a host of other commentators had written his political obituary – Brownback was destined to provide the Democrats with one of the few bright spots of what looked to be a horrible Election Night. November 3rd saw a National Review(!) Corner posting report that the Republican Governor’s Association had thrown in the towel – subtitle: “Brownback is Finished.”
And then Sam Brownback … won. Kansas Democrats lost even more State House seats. And the icing on the cake? Kris Kobach – America’s worst Republican – crushed his liberal Democrat (formerly a “moderate” Republican) opponent by 19 points.
But I’m betting that what must be keeping Democratic National Committee staff up at night is that Brownback got 47% of the Hispanic vote.
Me? I’m grinning from ear to ear …
WI – Governor
Just before Election Day, Reince Priebus was asked how he’d feel if the GOP won the Senate but Scott Walker lost his re-election bid. He said; “That’s not a good night.” I couldn’t possibly have agreed more. This was the race of 2014 for me – this was the race that had me biting my nails as the results came down. And I am reasonably certain his was one election every single Republican in the country celebrated.
Scott Walker first popped up on my political radar in 2002 – soon after he won his first election as Milwaukee County Executive, running as a Conservative and winning 55% – 45% in a county that went 61% for Al Gore. What struck me was this passage about his campaign in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which had, of course, endorsed Jim Ryan, his Democratic opponent;
Walker didn’t concede any sector of the community to his opponents in the primary or the final election, including the city of Milwaukee and African-American neighborhoods where others presumed he would be weak … An anecdote that shows how effective his campaign was: Ryan appeared on a Saturday afternoon program on WNOV-AM (860) several weeks ago, hosted by Lenard Wells, a retired Milwaukee police lieutenant. After Ryan left, Wells criticized Walker strongly and said he didn’t want to have Walker on his program. But within minutes, Walker was at the studio in person, where he went on the air and, as usual, handled himself well. Moments like that show why he did far better than many expected among African-American voters.
Despite the heavy Democratic bent of Milwaukee County, Walker proved his victory was no fluke as he went on to win re-election in 2004 by 14%, and in 2008 by 18%, even as the County was giving Barack Obama 68% of its votes.
I’m not going to go into a long recounting of the entire saga that is the story of Governor Scott Kevin Walker of Wisconsin.
All I am just going to point out is that despite everything; the protests, the recall, mountains of outside union money, false stories on the front pages of national newspapers, SWAT team raids, gag orders, riots, lawsuits, race baiting … the smoke clears, and they didn’t even leave a mark. In fact, given that the GOP substantially increased its majorities in both the State Assembly and State Senate, they seem to have actually only made him stronger.
This was the was most satisfying race of 2014.
Governor Scott Kevin Walker – Official Portrait