Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

GOP is shackled to Trump

November 13, 2017

By Juan Williams
The Hill
November 13, 2017

Well, there goes the fake news.

It is real news that Republicans got shellacked last Tuesday in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.

And it is real news that President Trump’s grip as the party’s leader loosened for the first time since he claimed the White House.

Republican running in 2018 saw the reality of an anti-Trump wave among white suburban voters. House Republicans rely on votes from suburban areas to keep their majorities in states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida.

.

Republicans currently hold 23 seats in congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 11 in districts she lost by fewer than five percentage points.

The anger at Trump was evident in exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research.

In Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie won 91 percent of voters who “approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president.” Democrat Ralph Northam won 87 percent of those who disapprove.

In essence, Gillespie had all the Trump voters. But there just weren’t enough of them and Northam won easily, by nine points.

People upset with Trump turned out in big numbers. In fact, exit polls showed one-third of the electorate wanted to send a message of opposition to Trump with their vote for governor.

Now the urgent fear among Republicans on Capitol Hill is a 2018 landslide for Democrats as voters turn on Trump.

The vote in Virginia comes on the heels of Trump’s disapproval hitting 57 percent in the latest Fox News poll.

The president’s support among white men without a college degree is down to 56 percent from the 71 percent who voted for him a year ago. He has lost support among white evangelicals, with 66 percent supporting him now instead of the 80 percent that voted for him. He has also seen his support among independents slide from 46 percent in 2016 to 30 percent today.

Trump’s support among self-identified Republicans remains high at 83 percent in the Fox poll, but fewer people overall are identifying themselves as Republicans.

That sets the stage for the battle to claim the future of the party going into the 2018 races.

On one side, you have Trump and Steve Bannon, his former top political aide. On the other side are the Presidents Bush, both 41 and 43, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) trapped in the ring and ducking punches from both sides.

The fight comes down to a contest between Trump’s anti-immigrant, isolationist, white grievance politics and the Bush policies favoring immigration, free trade and growing the party through outreach to racial minorities.

After last week’s defeat in Virginia, Trump and Bannon quickly threw dirt on Gillespie. Trump said Gillespie did “not embrace me or what I stand for.” Bannon piled on by saying the “lesson” of the loss was that future Republican candidates must avoid campaigning with President George W. Bush and “embrace the entire Trump agenda,” to the point of taking Trump on the campaign trail.

But Gillespie, the former party chairman, did use Trump-like advertising that focused on stirring fear of immigrants by tying them to MS-13 gangs; he did defend Confederate statues; and he did attack athletes kneeling to protest police brutality.

Gillespie lost because Virginia voters rejected Trump’s politics.

The Bush team also punched back.

“This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president,” the younger President Bush said of Trump in an interview for a new book.

“I don’t like him,” the elder President Bush told author Mark Updegrove. “I don’t know much about [Trump] but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being our leader.”

The Bush’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Trump’s White House

“If one presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had,” an unnamed White House official told CNN. “And that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”

The split between Bush-style establishment conservatism and Trump populism has already hurt the party with about two dozen House Republicans announcing this is a good time for them to leave.

That rush for the door comes as polls show “voters say they prefer Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives over Republicans by the widest margin in over a decade,” the Washington Post reported before Tuesday’s GOP collapse.

Ryan said last week that despite the intraparty fight, it is too late for his House caucus to do anything but side with Trump on the future of the party.

“We already made that choice,” Ryan said on Fox News Radio. “We’re with Trump. We already made that choice… That’s a choice we made during the campaign, which is we merged our agendas.”

What must Republican congressional candidates be thinking today when their Speaker tells them they are handcuffed to a president who has the lowest approval rating in 70 years? At what point do they ignore the Speaker’s directive, cut ties with the president and strike out on their own?

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that just 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job, while 59 percent disapprove. In the history of the poll, no American president has had a net negative rating so high in his ninth month in office since Harry Truman in 1945.

But Ryan has the real news: Every Republican on the ballot in 2018 will have Donald Trump as a running mate.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

.
http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/359945-juan-williams-gop-is-shackled-to-trump
Advertisements

Republicans Take Stock After Election Losses

November 9, 2017

Both parties re-examine plans for 2018 House and Senate campaigns following Democratic victories

Virginia Gov.-elect, Ralph Northam at a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond Wednesday. Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press

Republicans scrambled Wednesday to prevent a potential Democratic wave in next year’s midterm elections after a political shellacking Tuesday fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump.

The results of elections from Virginia to Washington state produced Democratic victories up and down the ballot, prompting both parties to take fresh looks at their plans for House and Senate campaigns next year.

For Republicans in swing districts, the failed campaign of GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in Virginia was a reminder of the complex landscape ahead of them. Mr. Gillespie tried to walk a line by embracing Mr. Trump’s agenda but not campaigning alongside the GOP president.

He lost to Ralph Northam by 9 percentage points, the largest victory margin for a Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate since 1985. Mr. Northam notched even wider margins among women and suburban voters who will be central to key House battleground districts.

“It was a referendum on the president for many of them,” said Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican who heard that message even in local races in his swing district in suburban Philadelphia. “You had a lot more people, a lot more people vote Democrat than they ever had before.”

Bryan Lanza, who worked for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, said in an interview that the vote should be a wake-up call for Republicans who have not delivered on policy.

“Last night showed the voters are frustrated with the status quo and inaction,” Mr. Lanza said. “Republicans were punished at the polls, and it’s painful.”

House Republicans have long said that passing a tax overhaul was necessary for them to retain their House majority, but after Tuesday’s loss in Virginia some said that even that might not be sufficient.

“This really is a sort of do-or-die moment, in my view, in terms of holding the majority,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), referring to the tax legislation. “It doesn’t guarantee you success, but it’s a precondition for success.”

Democrats were surprised by the magnitude of their electoral wins, which overshadowed for now intraparty disagreements over how to recover from their bitter loss to Mr. Trump last year. Their wins came in both marquee races and more-obscure corners of the U.S. political map, which underscored for them the importance of fielding candidates even in long-shot districts to catch whatever political wave may form next year, strategists said.

In Virginia, Democrats not only swept the governor’s mansion and two other statewide offices, they are tantalizingly close to winning control of the House of Delegates. Democrats flipped at least 15 seats; if they pick up one more of the yet-to-be-settled races, Republicans would lose their majority. The last time Democrats ran the chamber was 1999.

In New Jersey, a Democratic victory in the gubernatorial race means the party will control both chambers of the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion, beginning in January.

The election of one new Democratic state senator in Washington state flipped party control of the chamber from Republican to Democratic.

 

 

In Georgia, Democrats won three state legislative special elections, including two in districts that were considered safely GOP. That cost Republicans their supermajority in the state Senate.

Political analysts and operatives from both parties caution against over reading the implications of one election for another especially when the next one is a year away.

Mr. Trump sought on Tuesday to pre-empt suggestions that the Virginia loss was a reflection on him, tweeting that Mr. Gillespie “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” The president’s associates continued the damage control Wednesday, with one calling reporters in for a briefing to say the result was “not about the president.”

But the impact of the president’s unpopularity was clear in the bitterly fought Virginia race. According to exit polls, 57% of Virginia voters said they disapproved of the job Mr. Trump was doing. Of those voters, 87% voted for Mr. Northam.

Asked what message they were sending with their vote, 34% said they were voting to express disapproval of the president—twice as many as said they were voting to express support for him.

“The level of intensity, the level of antipathy to Trump is so palpable,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.). “The desire of our base and independents troubled by Trump is just red-hot to do something. So when you offer them something, like an election, they came out in droves.”

There is historical precedent for the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races serving as a bellwether for the first midterm election of a new presidency. In 1994, 2006 and 2010—the last three times control of the House changed parties—the midterm result was foretold by the party that won the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races the year before.

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. Key targets are the 23 Republican-held districts where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Mr. Trump in 2016. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it aims to put 80 districts in play and has managed to recruit candidates in 75 of them so far.

“That strategy of building a huge battlefield with great candidates, even in really tough districts, is going to be crucial,” said Tyler Law, the committee’s spokesman.

In Virginia, Democrats made a concerted effort to field challengers for Republicans in the House of Delegates who had gone unopposed in the past. The candidate field was notably diverse, including the first openly transgender person to win state legislative office. They ended up winning at least 15 seats —far more than even the most optimistic partisans expected.

“It was beyond imaginable,” said Ben Wikler, Washington director of the liberal group Moveon.org. As returns rolled in, he said, “it felt like the Fourth of July, with fireworks going off every few minutes.”

Some activists believe the grass-roots campaigns behind the state legislative candidates helped drive turnout statewide, perhaps compensating for the tepid support some progressives felt for Mr. Northam, a soft-spoken former army doctor. Stephanie Taylor, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, called it a “reverse coattail” effect.

“We saw statewide candidates boosted by the energy of inspiring down-ballot candidates,” she said.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the GOP couldn’t afford to run away from a president so popular with the party base. “I will always say to any candidate in our party, the greatest enthusiasm in our party right now is for President Trump,” she said in an interview on Fox.

Many Republicans in swing districts will face the same conundrum that Mr. Gillespie confronted in Virginia. Can they run with Mr. Trump without risking alienating swing voters and can they run without him if they want to hold on to his supporters?

Some vulnerable Republicans said Wednesday that they would seek to brand themselves as independent operators not bound to Mr. Trump’s confrontational style and populism.

“People understand that I’m very much an independent and I’m going to continue being an independent and a moderate,” said Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican whose district Mrs. Clinton won last year.

Mr. Katko noted that one day earlier, he had been elected co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a coalition of more than 50 centrist Republicans. “My brand, if you will, is well known to my local constituents,” he said.

Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that GOP leaders will do their best to arm incumbents for battle in the face of political winds they already knew were blowing hard against them.

“I don’t think we needed last night’s results to tell us next year was going to be extremely competitive,” Mr. Hunt said. He added that the best way to counter the energy among anti-Trump Democratic voters is to invoke the person who energizes the GOP base: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader who often figures in Republican campaign ads.

“We are going to make this election about Nancy Pelosi,” Mr. Hunt said.

—Peter Nicholas
and Joshua Jamerson contributed to this article.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-take-stock-after-election-losses-1510190550

Related:

In Virginia, Democrats Learn the Shape of an Anti-Trump Coalition

November 8, 2017

Northam won by nearly double Clinton’s margin, riding wave of energy that carried down ballot

It is hard to interpret Ralph Northam’s decisive victory as anything other than a reaction to President Donald Trump.
It is hard to interpret Ralph Northam’s decisive victory as anything other than a reaction to President Donald Trump. PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

In their rousing election victories in Virginia on Tuesday, Democrats learned two important things: They found out what an anti-Trump coalition looks like, and they discovered it can be a winning one.

That coalition combines upper-scale white voters, millennials, minorities, suburban women and single women. Exit polling indicates that those groups not only went heavily for Democratic victor Ralph Northam in the governor’s race, but performed better for him than they did for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

That tide produced a stunning nine-point victory for Mr. Northam—almost twice as large as the margin by which Mrs. Clinton carried the state—and it’s hard to interpret it as anything other than a reaction to President Donald Trump. He is the biggest actor on every political stage right now; almost everything happens in the Trump context.

In fact, the best news for Democrats may have been the signs that their wave of energy carried beyond the top race and down the ballot to elections for the state House of Delegates. Many thought Mr. Northam could win at the top of the ballot (though most concluded only barely), but nobody thought Democrats would be on the verge of turning the state legislature blue.

Still, there also are multiple, less-obvious cautionary notes for Democrats in Virginia, starting with the tendency to over-interpret such an off-off-year election.

Beyond that, this winning coalition brought decisive margins in blue parts of the state—the Washington suburbs, college towns and upper-scale coastal areas—but it wasn’t enough to break into the swath of red territory in central and southern Virginia. That part of the state continues to look and act a lot like Trump country in the interior of America.

Mrs. Clinton learned what happens in a presidential race when you run up victories, even big ones, in areas Democrats are strong but don’t crack through in areas where the party is weaker.

Moreover, Democratic success in Virginia probably will do more to paper over than resolve the Democrats’ split between establishment groups and the party’s progressive wing. Liberals had backed former Rep. Tom Perriello in the primary, were under-enthused by Mr. Northam, and thought he should have stressed economic issues more. They were particularly unhappy when he hedged his position supporting sanctuary cities that provide a haven for undocumented aliens. In short, the residual problem for Democrats is that progressives wanted a different kind of candidate and a different kind of campaign.

The good news for them, of course, is that all signs suggest that liberal activists largely swallowed those misgivings and went to work, and to the polls, anyway. We’ll see which side of the coin—tensions at the beginning or unity at the end—proves to be the most important dynamic elsewhere.

The underlying proposition of the campaign of losing Republican Ed Gillespie, meanwhile, was that he could win by having, in the words of populist political crusader Stephen Bannon, “Trumpism without Trump.” That is, that Mr. Gillespie could embrace Trump-like themes—the dangers from violent immigrants, the virtues of Confederate monuments—without embracing Mr. Trump himself personally.

It didn’t work as hoped, obviously. Why? For an answer, look at how two particularly energized Democratic groups performed Tuesday in Virginia.

Single women, inspired by Hillary Clinton and the chance to elect the nation’s first female president, were a big part of the Clinton coalition in 2016. But, one year after Mr. Trump became president, they turned out to be an even more-potent part of the Ralph Northam coalition.

Exit polling by Edison Media Research for the Washington Post and other news organizations shows that unmarried women went for the Democrat by a stunning 77% to 22% margin. That is to say, they went Democratic by more than three to one. The Democratic vote among single women this time was 16 percentage points higher than the vote they produced for Mrs. Clinton in 2016.

There is little except the arrival of a President Trump to explain the difference. In short, single women look an awful lot like a constituency that is newly energized.

Second, consider the performance of millennials, a core Democratic constituency, on Tuesday. NextGen America, a liberal activist group, chose nine precincts across Virginia where millennials make up a majority and monitored them to determine enthusiasm among young voters.

In each precinct—most around college campuses—residents aged 18 to 40 made up at least 60% of voters. In all of them, voter turnout was up over the totals seen in the governor’s election four years ago. In the area around Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, turnout more than doubled.

Energy matters in politics. And on Tuesday in Virginia, at least, Democrats seemed to capture it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-virginia-democrats-learn-the-shape-of-an-anti-trump-coalition-1510153557

A Tale of Two Republicans

November 3, 2017

Ed Gillespie takes a far more constructive approach to Trump than Jeff Flake does.

Ed Gillespie during a campaign event in Tysons, Va., Oct. 26.
Ed Gillespie during a campaign event in Tysons, Va., Oct. 26. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Jeff Flake last week took to the Senate floor to proclaim that since he would not be “complicit or silent” in the Trump presidency, he will not seek re-election. The first-term Arizona senator bemoaned that as a “traditional Republican,” he had a “narrower and narrow path” to office in this Trump world.

The speech earned Mr. Flake all the plaudits you’d expect, from all the usual suspects. Conservative Never Trumpers and the media “resistance” believe the president is destroying the Republican Party, the country, democracy and the universe—in that order. Those who join in their daily denouncements of Mr. Trump receive standing ovations. Those who don’t are falsely accused, to quote Mr. Flake in his speech, of “complete and unquestioning loyalty” and duly excommunicated from “moral” conservative society.

Yes, Mr. Trump is a wrecking ball; and yes, conservatives have a right and a duty to worry about the damage he may do to the Republican Party and its principles. Where the Never Trumpers err is in insisting that the only response is full-on resistance, shaming and utter denunciation. Not only is that approach simplistic, it is a proven loser.

Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake on Capitol Hill, Oct. 31.
Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake on Capitol Hill, Oct. 31.PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG

Mr. Flake is a case in point. Among elected officials, he is rivaled perhaps only by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as loudest Never Trumper. The senator doesn’t like the president’s views on trade or immigration (join the club). But like Mr. Kasich, he has rarely bothered to spell out specific areas where he disagreed with Mr. Trump, or to note the significant points of agreement (deregulation, judges, etc.). His is a blanket condemnation. In Mr. Flake’s new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” he compares Mr. Trump’s politics to a “late-night infomercial.”

This sweeping reproof was a sign to Trump supporters in Arizona that Mr. Flake either didn’t know or didn’t care why they support this president. So they wrote him off—much as he wrote off Mr. Trump. Mr. Flake was never going to get Democratic support, and once he alienated half of his state’s Republican voters, of course his path to re-election was narrow. Mr. Flake blew himself out of office, and he is now in a much poorer position to make any difference in the shape of Washington policies or the future of his party.

Contrast this approach to that of Ed Gillespie, whom the Never Trumpers are branding a sellout. The longtime (traditional) Republican nearly won a Senate seat in Virginia three years ago and now is running for governor in the only Southern state Hillary Clinton carried last year. Virginia is a swing state for Republicans—much tougher than Arizona. Its voters are down on Mr. Trump, and Mr. Gillespie faces a well-funded Democratic candidate in Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Yet the latest polls suggest Mr. Gillespie could pull this off. He’s broadened his path to office by employing the very different strategy of attempting to navigate—and where possible, unite—the GOP’s Trump and non-Trump factions.

Consider his dual approach to immigration and crime. Mr. Gillespie’s Senate campaign was a model in 2014 for its outreach to immigrants, and he is building on that now with a heavy pitch of inclusivity to minority communities. He’s released ads in Spanish and Korean and is stressing his pro-jobs agenda to the state’s growing Asian-American community. All this is crucial to the GOP’s future, reassuring to moderate voters, and utterly un-Trumpian.

On the flip side, Mr. Gillespie has taken a strong line against illegal and criminal aliens. His ads accusing Mr. Northam of being soft on the international MS-13 crime gang prompted Never Trumpers to accuse him of catering to a nativist Trump base. But MS-13 has engaged in brutal murders, and is of concern to Trump voters and Northern Virginia suburbanites alike. And it is true that Mr. Northam cast a tie-breaking Virginia Senate vote in favor of sanctuary cities.

On both policy and political grounds, this is a smart and reasonable way to straddle the party’s different factions. And the recognition of Trump voter concerns about illegal-alien crime is likely the best means by which (traditional) Republicans give themselves the running room to push for more compassionate immigration reform for folks like the Dreamers. Which is what Mr. Flake claims he wants.

The Never Trumpers are also accusing Mr. Gillespie of cowardice for failing to disown the president. Why should he? Mr. Gillespie has diligently focused his campaign on the local jobs-and-economy issues that matter most to Virginians. Beyond that, he has offered criticism of specific Trump actions and praise of others. Call them as you see them. That’s a fair approach in the age of Trump.

The important part: It gives Mr. Gillespie a fighting chance—and, should he win, a powerful perch from which he can help navigate his party through the Trumpian gales. It all might not be as cathartic as an emotional Senate speech. But it will go a lot further to help conservatism survive this presidency.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

Appeared in the November 3, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-tale-of-two-republicans-1509660782

Virginia gubernatorial election campaign features an attack ad about a convited child porn criminal voting for the Democrat — Convicted felons retain their right to vote in Virginia

October 26, 2017

A new TV spot in the Virginia gubernatorial election captures an unusual political moment for criminal-justice reform.

By MATT FORD
OCT 24, 2017

.

Image may contain: 2 people

Ed Gillespie (right) with opponent Ralph Northam . Credit Steve Helber – AP

.
Virginians aren’t enjoying a one-year pause in campaign ads like most other Americans in 2017. The commonwealth’s airwaves are saturated by TV spots from Ralph Northam, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, and Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman. Whichever candidate takes the governor’s mansion will also hand their party a morale boost ahead of next year’s midterms.
Into this high-stakes contest Gillespie has dropped one of the most unusual campaign ads of the year, which melds tough-on-crime fear-mongering—long a staple of political persuasion—with establishment-Republican nods to compassionate criminal-justice reform. In doing so, the spot highlights reform’s unpredictable future in the age of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions.

The ad takes aim at current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s program restoring convicted felons’ right to vote. Virginia is one of four states where a person loses the franchise entirely after they are convicted of a felony-level offense. McAuliffe first tried to use his pardon power to restore the rights of 200,000 Virginians in one blow. Republican lawmakers successfully challenged the en masse order in court, so the governor began signing the orders individually, totaling more than 168,000 to date. McAuliffe’s move stands out as perhaps the boldest concrete step to reverse mass incarceration’s effects on individuals’ agency that the country has seen so far.
At the same time, the policy’s breadth left it open to narrow attacks like the one made by Gillespie. Here’s the first half of the ad’s narration:

Last year, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam instituted the automatic restoration of rights for violent felons and sex offenders, making it easier for them to obtain firearms and allowing them to serve on juries. One of these felons, John Bowen, had his rights restored two months after being found with one of the largest child-pornography collections in Virginia’s history. Forty-three prosecutors—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—opposed Ralph Northam’s reckless policy. Now, Virginia law enforcement has endorsed Ed Gillespie for governor.

This part of the ad somewhat obscures Bowen’s timeline: The Times-Dispatch says McAuliffe restored the rights he lost from a previous conviction, and that Bowen had only been arrested and not yet convicted of the new offenses when the restoration happened. But the overall aesthetic evokes the tough-on-crime ads that dominated campaigning in the 1980s and 1990s: If you vote for my opponent, your family will be less safe.

In that sense, Gillespie’s new ad isn’t surprising, echoing its predecessors from all levels of American elections, with the infamous Willie Horton ad standing out in that dismal field. While the antagonist in this spot is white—unlike Horton, a black man George H.W. Bush’s campaign spotlighted in 1988—Gillespie’s campaign hasn’t shied away from appeals to racial animus, especially in the context of public safety. He maintained his support for Confederate statues after the white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. And he’s run multiple ads portraying Northam as too soft on MS-13, a Latin American gang and a political specter frequently invoked by the Trump administration.
But what’s truly unusual about the ad is how the message changes in its second half. From the transcript:

Virginians who have paid their debt to society and are living an honest life should have their rights restored. But Ralph Northam’s policy of automatic restoration of rights for unrepentant, unreformed, violent criminals is wrong. As governor, I’ll be both compassionate and protecting of Virginia families. I’m Ed Gillespie, candidate for governor, and I sponsored this ad.

The tonal shift is accompanied by an even more jarring visual one, as the ad cuts away from dark juxtapositions of Northam and an alleged child-pornography collector to a smiling, well-lit Gillespie at home. This is not a traditional closing pitch for tough-on-crime ads, to say the least, with Gillespie modifying the tried-and-true formula and conveying actual nuance in his policy prescription.

RELATED STORY

The Federal Prosecutors Backing Jeff Sessions on Mandatory Minimums

First, he endorses the general aim of McAuliffe’s policy, even if he says he wouldn’t apply it as universally as the current governor does. Second, he emphasizes that his interest in the issue goes beyond punishing criminals. Gillespie isn’t promising to drop the hammer; he wants to be “compassionate and protecting of Virginia families.”

It’s a cliché that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. But Gillespie appears to be campaigning in Trumpism while aiming to govern in criminal-justice reform. His website has a lengthy page devoted to the subject with testimonials to his “thoughtful and detailed approach” from state lawmakers and law-enforcement officials. Some positions are relatively modest, like reduced enforcement for marijuana laws and a toe-dip into legalizing medical marijuana. Others are more arcane but more substantive, like raising the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500 and reducing driver’s-license suspensions. With some notable exceptions, many of his criminal-justice proposals match those on Northam’s website.

If he wins and enacts this agenda, Gillespie could be a signal to congressional Republicans north of the Potomac, where reform is slowly returning to the federal agenda after its election-year pause. Conservative proponents say they’re optimistic that Congress will take up the matter next year after dispatching with tax reform (though that’s easier said than done). A bipartisan group of legislators even proposed a new bill last month that aims to reduce mandatory sentences for drug crimes and reform harsher aspects of the current system.

At the same time, would-be reformers could wrestle with the potential opposition of President Trump, who rose to power by anointing himself as a “law and order” candidate, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a criminal-justice hardliner who helped torpedo the reform bill last year. A Gillespie victory could prove that Trump’s presidency isn’t necessarily fatal to modest efforts to rein in mass incarceration. Indeed, the candidate appears to be betting it’ll take a little Trumpism to get there.

This article is part of our project “The Presence of Justice,” which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.
.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/10/gillespie-criminal-justice-ad/543762/

Former US President George W. Bush takes aim at tone of political discourse, denounces ‘bullying and prejudice’

October 20, 2017

Since leaving office in 2009, he has kept a relatively low profile. But on Thursday, the former president took to the stage to heavily criticize the current trajectory of US politics.

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

Former US President George W. Bush on Thursday condemned bigotry and isolationism in a rare speech that many have interpreted as an implicit rebuke of the politics and policies of President Donald Trump.

“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them,” Bush said at the George W. Bush Institute in New York City.

US President Donald Trump

President Trump has been a divisive figure in US politics

Without naming names

Bush, who was president between 2001 and 2009, did not mention Trump by name. But Bush’s comments appeared to be aimed at the current president who faces frequent criticismfor his perceived denigration of minority groups and coarse presidential style.

“Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” Bush said. “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty.”

The 71-year-old Bush had refused to endorse Trump after he beat Bush’s brother, Jeb, to be elected the Republish party’s candidate during the 2016 presidential election.

The former president also implicitly criticized Trump’s aversion to traditional US policies on free trade and global leadership.

“We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism,” he said, adding that globalization could not be wished away “any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution.”

Former US presidents tend to shy away from criticizing their successors directly.

Russia turning Americans against each other

Bush also used the speech to denounce Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, an accusation Trump had brushed off as a “hoax.”

“According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy,” Bush said.

Despite the clear undertones targeting Trump, Bush spokesman Freddy Ford did not say it was intended to target the current president.

“The themes President Bush spoke about today are really the same themes he has spoken about for the last two decades,” he said.

Obama denounces ‘politics of division’

Former President Barack Obama also criticized politics under Trump’s presidency at a campaign rally in the US state of New Jersey on Thursday.

Ehemaliger US-Präsident Barack Obama bei Wahlkampfauftritt in New Jersey (Reuters/M. Makela)Barack Obama, former US President, speaking at a rally in New Jersey

“What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before, that dates back centuries,” Obama said at an event for Phil Murphy, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the upcoming election for the state’s governor.

The speech also marked a departure for Obama, who was president between 2009 and 2017, after months of remaining relatively silent on political debates in the US.

“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back,” Obama said. “It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century.”

amp/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

Related:

Barack Obama, George W. Bush denounce bigotry in Trump-era American politics

October 20, 2017

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama called on fellow Democrats to reject politics of “division” and “fear” while rallying on Thursday with party’s candidates for governors in Virginia and New Jersey.

“Why are we deliberately trying to misunderstand each other, and be cruel to each other and put each other down? That’s not who we are,” Obama said at the Virginia rally in front of several thousand supporters.

Stepping back into the political spotlight for the first time since leaving the White House in January, Obama did not mention President Donald Trump in his speeches at Richmond’s convention center or at a Newark hotel. But he did tell crowds at both events that they could send a message to the rest of the country in the upcoming elections.

“Our democracy’s at stake and it’s at stake right here in Virginia,” Obama said.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam (R) in Richmond, Virginia October 19, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states electing new governors this year and those Nov. 7 races will be considered a bellwether of Democrats’ strength in the face of Trump’s victory last year.

New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy, Obama’s former ambassador to Germany, is facing Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is running against Republican Ed Gillespie.

Former President Barack Obama on Thursday rallied at the side of his former ambassador to Germany, who is running for governor in New Jersey, and called on the crowd of Democrats to reject politics of “division” and “fear.” (October 19)

Obama’s remarks came on the same day Former President George W. Bush denounced bigotry in Trump-era American politics, warning that the rise of “nativism,” isolationism and conspiracy theories have clouded the nation’s true identity.

George W. Bush

Obama bemoaned the rise of racial politics.

“Some of the politics we see now we thought we put that to bed,” Obama said. “That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century.”

The first black president offered himself as proof that the country could move forward, telling the crowd in Richmond, the former Capitol of the Confederacy, that he is a distant relative to Confederate President Jefferson Davis on his mother’s side.

“Think about that,” Obama said. “I’ll bet he’s spinning in his grave.”

Obama praised Northam, a pediatric neurologist, as a candidate who would represent Virginia well and accused Gillespie of running a fear-based campaign.

Gillespie spokesman Dave Abrams said Obama’s comments were not a “surprise.”

Guadagno’s spokesman, Ricky Diaz, suggested it’s Murphy and not Republicans who are divisive.

“Phil Murphy is the one who will divide New Jersey by raising taxes so high that only the über rich like him will be able to afford to live here,” he said.

Obama’s popularity is still undeniable. In an August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 51 percent of Americans said they have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 35 percent had a negative opinion. In the same poll, 36 percent said they had a positive opinion of Trump and 52 percent had a negative opinion.

Obama never completely disappeared from public life, in part because of Trump’s constant criticism and efforts to undo much of Obama’s legacy after eight years in office. He has publicly defended his policies that Trump and the GOP-led Congress have set out to dismantle: the Affordable Care Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be temporarily shielded from deportation.

Obama was forced to return “pretty quickly,” presidential historian Julian Zelizer of Princeton University said.

“The current president has changed all the conventional assumptions about what to do,” Zelizer said. “There is a sense of urgency that makes this moment different than others and former President Obama has continued to be directly in Trump’s line of fire — both his policies and his legacy.”

Les Kenney, of Richmond, said Obama’s speech was inspiring.

“It was great to see him again, he’s an energizer,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Jesse J. Holland and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

Includes videos:

https://apnews.com/2a7c91cf27d24413bfcf3d28e0047591/Obama-tells-Democrats-to-reject-politics-of-division,-fear

See also: George W. Bush joins John McCain in dressing down Donald Trump

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sd-george-w-bush-speech-divisiveness-20171019-htmlstory.html

******************************

Obama back on campaign trail to rally for Ralph Northam in Richmond

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/obama-back-on-campaign-trail-to-rally-for-ralph-northam-in-richmond/2017/10/19/9a0fa0f4-b379-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?utm_term=.20f00fd24e0d

See also:

Without Saying ‘Trump,’ Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes

Related:

Facebook will invest $1 billion in Virginia — Gov. Terry McAuliffe: “I am proud to welcome Facebook.”

October 6, 2017

.

Image result for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, photos

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Facebook will invest $1 billion in Virginia as part of its plans to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center at White Oak Technology Park in eastern Henrico. The data center will cost $750 million to build and more than $250 million will be invested for the construction of new renewable energy projects.

Facebook is expected to have 100 full-time employees when the data center comes online — probably in 2019 — and construction is expected to create thousands of jobs.

In his remarks, County Manager John Vithoulkas called the occasion one of Henrico’s most exciting.

“You’ve got one of the most recognized companies in the world that’s chosen to locate in Henrico,” Vithoulkas said in an interview.

The data center will include two buildings and a so-called admin area. Additional buildings may be developed later and Facebook has enough land for five buildings, said Facebook spokeswoman Lindsay Amos.

Facebook’s Henrico Data Center will be the company’s eighth in the United States. Rachel Peterson, Facebook’s director of data center strategy, said the Henrico facilities will be some of the most advanced, energy-efficient in the world.

“Henrico County is a great fit for our newest data center, and we look forward to being part of the community,” Peterson said in her remarks.

Vithoulkas said the county gave Facebook an $850,000 sewer connection credit on a total fee that would be upward of $2 million. Facebook will become one of the top taxpayers in the county and one of its top water users, Vithoulkas said.

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

Facebook’s planned data center in Henrico county, Virginia

Facebook plans to use both water and air to keep the Henrico Data Center’s hardware cool. According to Facebook, its data centers use less water than typical data centers.

Vithoulkas said work at the data center will mostly consist of maintaining computers.

“It’s not the factory of yesterday,” Vithoulkas said. “It’s really about the building itself, which is massive, and the equipment in the building.”

In addition to the tax revenue and job impact, local leaders are banking on Facebook to play a role in the region’s schools, though what form that will take hasn’t been finalized.

Tyrone Nelson, the Henrico supervisor for the Varina District, which is home to Facebook’s site, said he was looking forward to seeing the impact Facebook would have on the community.

“The thing that excites me about Facebook is the constant care about investing in the community,” Nelson said.

Henrico has been laying the groundwork to lure Facebook.

Earlier this year, Henrico’s Board of Supervisors lowered the county’s tax rate on computers and equipment related to data centers.

In September, Henrico’s Planning Commission approved a development plan for a data center at White Oak of up to 2.5 million square feet code-named Project Echo.

As part of a new renewable energy tariff designed by Facebook and Dominion Energy Virginia, hundreds of millions will go toward the construction of solar facilities to help make the data center powered with 100 percent renewable energy.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the project is three years in the making and included a meeting on Monday in San Francisco to tie things up.

“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership,” McAuliffe said.

 http://www.richmond.com/news/local/henrico/more-details-on-facebook-s-billion-data-center-in-henrico/article_51cd7630-ee3d-590b-97ff-1f321e32e8bc.html

Charlottesville reschedules ‘community recovery’ town hall

August 24, 2017

None

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Charlottesville residents will get a chance this weekend to talk with city officials about a white nationalist rally earlier this month that devolved into deadly violence.

The city had planned Thursday evening to host what it calls a “community recovery town hall,” in collaboration with the Community Relations Services of the Department of Justice. But Charlottesville officials said the event has been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon due to conflicts with a local high school’s student activities.

Officials will provide an update on “recovery efforts” and offer opportunities for public comment, according to a news release.

“Our community has been shaken to its core,” City Manager Maurice Jones said in a statement. “We see this partnership with CRS as the beginning of a process of recovery and renewal.”

It’s been nearly two weeks since the event, which attracted what’s believed to be the largest gathering of white nationalists in at least a decade.

Rally attendees and counter-protesters fought in the streets. Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into demonstrators during a march, and two state troopers died in a helicopter crash that day.

City workers covered two Confederate statues in black on Wednesday to mourn Heyer’s death.

Workers in Charlottesville shrouded a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in black on Wednesday in a move intended to symbolize the city’s mourning for a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally earlier this month. (August 23)

Some residents have criticized city officials for granting a permit for the rally, and others have said police didn’t do enough to keep the two sides apart or stop the fighting.

City officials already got some feedback at a council meeting earlier this week when scores of people packed the chamber, shouting and cursing at members. The angry crowd forced the council to abandon its agenda. Instead, the panel heard hours of public comment.

In other developments on Wednesday, Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist from Keene, New Hampshire, turned himself in to face three felony charges in Virginia, authorities said. Cantwell was wanted by University of Virginia police on two counts of the illegal use of tear gas or other gases and one count of malicious bodily injury with a “caustic substance,” explosive or fire.

University police issued a brief statement late Wednesday saying Cantwell turned himself in to police in nearby Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was being held at a regional jail pending transport to Charlottesville.

It wasn’t immediately known if Cantwell has a lawyer.

Contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Cantwell acknowledged he had pepper-sprayed a counter-demonstrator during an Aug. 11 protest on the campus of the University of Virginia the day before the rally. But he insisted he was defending himself, saying he did it “because my only other option was knocking out his teeth.” He also said he was looking forward to his day in court.

Lynchburg police, contacted by AP late Wednesday, declined to release further information about Cantwell.

https://apnews.com/e9f4bdd445d3440c8684fe4ff21c8c13/Charlottesville-reschedules-‘community-recovery’-town-hall

Deadly rally accelerates removal of Confederate statues

August 15, 2017

By JESSE J. HOLLAND

The Associated Press

In Gainesville, Florida, workers hired by the Daughters of the Confederacy chipped away at a Confederate soldier’s statue, loaded it quietly on a truck and drove away with little fanfare.

In Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh said she’s ready to tear down all of her city’s Confederate statues, and the city council voted to have them destroyed. San Antonio lawmakers are looking ahead to removing a statue that many people wrongly assumed represented a famed Texas leader who died at the Alamo.

The deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is fueling another re-evaluation of Confederate statues in cities across the nation, accelerating their removal in much the same way that a 2015 mass shooting by a white supremacist renewed pressure to take down the Confederate flag from public property.

“We should not glorify a part of our history in front of our buildings that really is a testament to America’s original sin,” Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said Monday after the statue known as “Old Joe” was returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected it in 1904.

A county spokesman said he did not know if the statue was removed because of the events that killed one person and injured dozens more Saturday in Charlottesville. But many officials who were horrified by the confrontation soon began publicizing plans to take down statues.

Lexington, Kentucky Mayor Jim Gray announced on Twitter that he would work to remove the confederate monument at his county’s courthouse. (Aug. 14)

The Southern Poverty Law Center last year counted more than 1,500 things around the country named after Confederate figures or dedicated to the Confederacy, including holidays, statues, flags and the names of cities, counties, schools and parks. Nearly half are monuments, which are in 24 states. Most of the dedications are in the South, but 24 are in the North and 21 in states that did not exist at the time of the Civil War.

In Jacksonville, Florida, City Council President Anna Brosche ordered an immediate inventory of all of the Confederate statues in her city in preparation for their removal.

“These monuments, memorials and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many,” she said Monday.

Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray moved up his announcement by a day in reaction to the weekend bloodshed. Memorials to John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan are perched outside a former courthouse that was the site of slave auctions before the Civil War.

San Antonio Councilman Robert Travino is promoting a measure that would remove the Confederate statue at the center of Travis Park, where for years people have mistakenly identified the figure as being that of Col. William Travis, a Texas hero who died at the Alamo.

“This is not an important art piece, but a monument to power. It was put in to remind people of that power. It is an unfortunate message of hate, and we think it’s important to relocate it.” Travino said Monday. “We do think that history is important so we’re looking for an appropriate location for it.”

St. Louis dismantled its Confederate Monument in Forest Park in June, giving it to the Missouri Civil War Museum after years of debate.

In Baltimore, Pugh announced Monday that she would move forward with the removal of Baltimore’s statues of Roger B. Taney, a Marylander who wrote the 1856 Dred Scott supreme court ruling that denied citizenship to African-Americans, and a statue of two Virginians, Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Pugh said she was making plans to send the statues to cemeteries with Confederate dead outside the city. But hours later, the city council voted unanimously to have the statues destroyed instead of moved. It was unclear whether anything would happen to the statues immediately.

Back in May, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu moved his city’s four main Confederate statues, including a statue of Lee, at night after threats of violence from Confederate sympathizers and white supremacists. Pugh said she is consulting with Landrieu, now head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, about the removal of Baltimore’s statues and the cost.

The violence in Charlottesville will probably speed up efforts to do away with the monuments, experts said.

The convergence of white nationalists and neo-Nazis with Confederate imagery in Charlottesville will make it difficult for government agencies to defend having Confederate statues on their property, Boston University history professor Heather Cox Richardson said.

“The idea that this somehow is about Southern heritage, I think that ship sailed,” said Richardson, who teaches and writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction and Southern politics.

Violence and death changes things, agreed University of Georgia political science professor M.V. “Trey” Hood III.

Photos of gunman Dylan Roof, who fatally shot nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, showed him with a Confederate flag and triggered a swift “sea change” in perception of the banner, Hood said.

Then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley successfully led calls to bring down a Confederate flag that had flown on Statehouse grounds for 54 years. Other cities and organizations began accelerating their removal of Confederate imagery following Roof’s arrest.

Now local officials will find it harder to ignore or shelve questions about Confederate statues, Richardson said.

“It was always possible for people to look the other way,” she said. “After Charlottesville, I do not see how Americans can look the other way. You have to make a choice at this moment.”

___

Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press in Washington. Contact him at jholland@ap.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland .