Local Voting Open Thread: Good for Taylor Swift

I was told Swift’s real profit base is pre-teen and young-teen girls (and their parents), and it’s my impression that those girls are a lot more LGBGTQ-friendly than their Tennessee elders… Per the Tennessean:

The 28-year-old superstar took to Instagram on Sunday night to weigh in on Tennessee’s closely contested U.S. Senate race, endorsing Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen as she offered a harsh rebuke of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican nominee.

Her endorsement of Bredesen marks the first time Swift has spoken publicly about politics.

“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” Swift wrote, elaborating that “her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

Swift specifically noted Blackburn’s vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, versions of which Blackburn has opposed in recent years. She also condemned Blackburn’s stance against marriage equality

“These are not MY Tennessee values,” Swift wrote…

In her Instagram post, Swift said she has been “reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.”

“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country,” she wrote. “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”…

And if she’s just broken a few Nazi hearts, well…

Open Thread: Andrew Gillum, Looking Better and Better

From the Washington Post, “‘The Obama excitement’”:

ORLANDO — Salandra Benton used to campaign so hard for Barack Obama that her feet would swell as she walked through nightclubs, hair salons, apartment buildings and church parking lots telling people they had to vote.

After Obama won Florida in 2008 and 2012, Benton hoped to step back from door-to-door campaigning. But then Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum shocked Florida last month by winning the Democratic nomination for governor, with the potential of becoming the state’s first African American chief executive.

Now, Benton has been drawn back into Florida’s political street fight on behalf of Gillum, who faces former congressman Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee, in the Nov. 6 election.

“I think this is even bigger than Obama, because this is even closer to home,” said Benton, 54, a union organizer who is African American. “The Obama excitement was, ‘We are finally going to get a black president.’ But now this is Florida’s son, in a state we feel black men have been attacked and not protected, so we are waking back up.”…

Gillum also is hoping he can do better among white voters than Obama did in 2012, when he carried 37 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls. The school shooting last year in Parkland, Fla., and concern about the ongoing “red tide” fish kill on the state’s western beaches may be loosening Florida Republicans’ hold on white voters, Democrats say.

“There is a swing-vote population, largely suburban white women in Tampa and Orlando, and I absolutely believe Gillum can do well with those voters,” said Steve Schale, a Florida political strategist who ran Obama’s state effort here in 2012…

Even before Gillum’s primary win, Florida activists said the state’s black community was more energized than in previous midterm elections, because of a host of local and national issues, including Trump’s battle with National Football League players as well as the state’s controversial “stand your ground” gun law.

“I think people are more aware of how much these races have consequences, and they are not going to deal with those consequences,” said Lydia Hudson, a Tampa resident and head of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, which claims it helped to double black turnout for Gillum during the primary compared with past off-year primary elections.

In the general election, activists say, African American turnout could be further boosted by a measure on the Florida ballot that would restore voting rights for some felons, something activists and church leaders have been aggressively campaigning for since the start of the year…

I think we can be sure the GOP will give these voters every possible reminder of how much is at stake.

Don’t think we have a dedicated ActBlue widget for Gillum yet, but here’s his campaign website.

Long Read: “Beto O’Rourke Could Be The Democrat Texas Has Been Waiting For”

When O’Rourke speaks on the stump, he punctuates his points by moving his left hand up and down, like he’s directing traffic. His voice isn’t particularly melodic; he’s Lincoln-lanky; he lacks the preacher’s cadence that marked former president Obama’s speeches. But O’Rourke’s energy is palpable, infectious; his sweat is the physical evidence of that energy leaving his body. And it seems to be working. Even as he struggles with a continued lack of name recognition, in a state that has consistently voted Republican for the past three decades, recent polling places O’Rourke just two to six points behind Cruz. Among volunteers, there’s cautious yet barely contained glee: Could O’Rourke pull off an upset that, just six months before, seemed impossible?

By the time O’Rourke reaches the peaks of his stump speech in Kerrville — advocating for better treatment of Texas’s teachers, arguing for universal health care, and decrying family separation at the border — his shirt is full-on stuck to his back, and the crowd feels ready to ignite. When he announces that he hasn’t taken any money from PACs, instead raising $10.4 million (with an average donation of $33) to Cruz’s $4.6 million over the last quarter, the audience explodes.
Read more

Open Thread: Repubs Running… for Cover

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)

Don’t lose hope just yet, we’re scaring the bastids. From Jonathan Swan at Axios, “A blue wave is obscuring a red exodus”:

Dave Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s House analyst, says the most under-covered aspect of 2018 is that “a blue wave is obscuring a red exodus.” Republican House members are retiring at a startling clip — a trend that senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told me earlier this year was worrying her more than any other trend affecting the midterms.

What’s happening: There are 43 Republican seats now without an incumbent on the ballot. That’s more than one out of every six Republicans in the House — a record in at least a century, Wasserman says.

Why this matters: Just in the past eight months, the number of vulnerable Republican seats has almost doubled, according to Wasserman. Democrats need to win 23 seats to claim control of the House. Today, the Cook Political Report rates 37 Republican-held seats as toss-ups or worse. At the beginning of the year, it was only 20.

The big picture: Wasserman says the most important sign that 2018 will be a “wave” year — with Democrats winning control of the House — is the intensity gap between the two parties. In polls, Democrats consistently rate their interest in voting as significantly higher than Republicans. And Democrats have voted in extraordinary numbers in the special elections held the past year, despite Republicans holding on to win almost all of these races…

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Sail On, Sail On, O Mighty Ship of State!

Longfellow published the poem quoted in Cohen’s song in 1849, another bad divided era of American history. We survived the inevitable conflict that was brewing then, and if we have the same courage and dedication, we’ll survive this one as well. (Hopefully with less bloodshed, since we’ve got that earlier example to remind us.)

From the Washington Post, “Sharice Davids, who sees past discrimination as her asset, could become the first gay Native American in Congress”:

If elected in November, she would be the first gay Native American to claim a seat in the Capitol’s chambers. She would also become the first openly gay person to represent Kansas in federal office and possibly one of the first two Native American women to enter Congress. Deb Haaland, a Democratic nominee in New Mexico, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe; Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.

The history-making potential of Davids’s candidacy is not the focal point of her pitch to voters. After all, this is Kansas, where only a slim majority of people said they supported same-sex marriage in polling conducted last year.

“I definitely think there are quite a few people who are excited about that, but the thing I hear more often is that people are excited about electing someone who just has a shared experience,” Davids, 38, said, still basking in her victory in last week’s six-way primary…

Enumerating the experiences she shares with Kansans, Davids described being raised by a single mother, being first in her family to attend university, starting out at community college and having to work while in school, whether as a carhop at a Sonic Drive-In or as a bartender at a Marriott.

At first, she didn’t even note her sexual orientation — the reason, said Brett Hoedl, chairman of the Kansas City Metro chapter of Equality Kansas, that so many gay voters placed their trust in her.

“It’s one thing to fight for someone else’s rights versus having someone who has experienced discrimination or experienced the issues that the LGBT community has faced,” Hoedl said. This desire, to have someone of your identity representing you, is driving a surge of gay candidates seeking office this year, just as it’s driving a surge of female and Muslim candidates, he said. “When you look at the rhetoric coming out of this administration, and some of the policies getting rolled back,” he said, “there’s a need to actually have these folks in office.”…

At the beginning of the year, when Davids looked at the slate of candidates vying to take on Yoder — a fellow attorney who was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 2002, the same year he earned his law degree — she wasn’t satisfied, she said. There was no woman in the race, for one. “I remember looking around and thinking, ‘who is a strong woman who could get into this race?’ I felt like since I was asking the question, I should be part of the solution.”…

Goal Thermometer