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.
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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

Friday Morning Open Thread: Readership Capture

In before the Friday News Dump, assuming we get another one here in mid-August…


In support of Marcia Blackburn’s opponent:


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Late Night Open Thread: Personal Politics

Saw my political idol Sen. Elizabeth Warren in person for the first time this evening, since she was holding a town hall (her thirty-second, she said) at a time and place which made it impossible for me not to succumb to vulgar curiosity. And I’m very glad we went — even the Spousal Unit, who is far less of a political animal than I am, was impressed and heartened by her performance. She must be a wonderful teacher; she kept her audience of 500-600 continually engaged, responded to every question asked with relevant information, and never lost sight of the larger arc. Pretty good turnout for a Wednesday evening in August, too!

First Sen. Warren spoke for about 40 minutes; then there were half a dozen questioners, chosen by lottery ticket. The questions covered a fair sample of the current Big Topics; student debt (she’s *very* invested in taking the profit sector out of student loans, of course), the rapidly increasing cost of prescription drugs (she explicitly used the word corruption several times in that response).

Another older lady asked how she could ‘not despair about Roe v. Wade’; Sen. Warren led us through the fight to save the ACA right after Trump’s inauguration (‘I have that image seared on the back of my eyeballs — whenever I think about giving up, I remember seeing him there, and that re-energizes me’), pointing out how collective action by individuals made *just* enough of a difference to peal away three Repubs and save “our” healthcare, and stressing that the only way to keep Brent Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court is to commit the same level of sustained effort before the GOP can gavel him through.

Then came the inevitable True Progressive (I was kinda surprised we only got the one TP, but this is not a chic hipster town, yet). He spent rather more time than any of the previous questioners took in total to explain his impeccable credentials (‘Early supporter — wrote you so many checks!’) before sharing his laundry list of complaints. She congratulated Scott Brown when he was appointed ambassador to New Zealand! She called Mitch McConnell ‘my colleague’! Worst of all, she wasn’t On The Front Lines, calling for IMPEACHMENT NOW!…. How could “we” ever trust her again, after such behavior!?!

And Warren handled him impeccably. She said she was happier to have Scotty in New Zealand than in New England, and then she led us through the steps necessary for impeachment: It’s the House that has to take a vote in favor; only then can the Senate proceed. But, she stressed, the first step is to allow Robert Mueller to complete a full, thorough, and fair investigation; calling for impeachment before investigation is not a wise path for either Democrats *or* Republicans just yet!

(That got the second-biggest round of applause for the evening.)

The final question was from a middle-school teacher, who said that ‘even her students’ wanted to know what they could do, right now. Senator Warren handled this wisely, too — she reiterated that we all need to be registering voters, holding signs, knocking on doors, sharing information & listening ‘even with people who might not agree with us on everything.’ That mini-speech drew a standing ovation.

Afterwards, it had been arranged for anyone who wanted to take a selfie with the Senator… but I’d estimate there were almost a hundred people lining up for their chance by the time we left the auditorium, and I’m actually quite shy in person, so you’ll have to take my word.