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Democratic stategy for seating Franken clarifies, as does their dilemma

Everything in Congress hangs on 60 votes in the Senate. Right now, the Democrats have 57 Senators plus Joe Lieberman. They could get one more if the Minnesota recount in the contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is decided in their favor. It is beginning to appear that the Democrats are settling on a strategy of attempting to seat Franken after the state courts decide, regardless of where the underlying issues stand.

For example, check out this quote from Chuck Schumer in The Hill:

“We believe the law of Minnesota requires a candidate to be certified after all the state appeals are through, whether someone applies to the federal court or not,” said Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

While Republicans are talking about this going to the Supreme Court, Democrats are playing that down. On Friday, Richard Hasen, who normally writes the excellent and critical Election Law Blog, argued at the blog of the American Constitution Society that SCOTUS wouldn’t be likely to take the case. At dinner on Saturday night with a bunch of Democratic staffers and operatives, they all sang from this playbook.

This strategy seems calculated to avoid the hard question in this case.

Ben Ginsburg, Coleman’s attorney, asks this question at Redstate:

Does the law allow not counting one vote when others just like it were counted by other counties and cities? Should a person’s vote count depending solely on where he or she lives? Should a contest court disallow votes based on counting rules it adopts but which no Minnesota county or city used on Election Day? Is it right to disallow a vote because the Minnesota Secretary of State’s database wasn’t up-to-date about whether the absentee voter or their witness were really registered?

If the Democrats move forward on trying to seat Franken before the whole process winds down, they will be, in essence, short-circuiting the judgement of the court with “yes” answers to all these questions. Ultimately, the fundamental question that Democratic Senators will be voting that votes don’t have to be treated the same everywhere.

They will be asserting that these kinds of facts should have no impact:

These voters remain disenfranchised because the Court changed the rules of the game on Friday, February 13th – long after the Election Day votes had been counted. Two and a half weeks into the trial and again yesterday, the court announced it would apply a “strict compliance” standard to judging the 11,000 unopened absentee ballots. That stands in contrast to the evidence at trial which showed that on Election Day, Minnesota’s counties and cities permitted ballots that “substantially complied” with the state’s laws to be counted. Altering the Election Day standard meant that thousands of ballots that would have been allowed on Election Day in most counties are now disallowed by the contest court

By Soren Dayton, ago
Syndicated

Could the Iowa court decision mark the end of the Iowa caucus?

Chris Cillizza has argued that the Iowa Supreme Court decision that established gay marriage might disadvantage moderate candidates in the 2012 GOP primary. Cillizza notes that Heartland Iowa, a lefty Iowa blog, lays out a timeframe that would include a November 2011 ballot initiative that Nate Silver seems to think would be close, but the pro-traditional-marriage forces would prevail. (I have to say, I wonder what the presence of married gay couples does to his model)

UPDATE: This even happening would require getting it on the ballot, which would require the cooperation of the Democratic legislature. I kinda doubt that'll happen, don't you?

Anyways, back to Cillizza:

Assuming that time line is right, the fight over the constitutionality of banning same sex marriages would fall right in the heart of the run-up to the 2012 presidential caucus.

And, with the Republican caucus typically dominated by social conservatives, you can imagine the long-term impact today's ruling could have on the presidential jockeying.

At first glance, the decision should help candidates -- like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- who are closely aligned with the social conservative wing of the Republican party.

He then argues that this could really hurt Jon Huntsman:

One person who could potentially be hurt by today's ruling is Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) who has staked out a moderate position on the issue -- expressing his support for civil unions earlier this year despite the fact that large numbers of Utah voters oppose the idea. "I'm a firm believer in the traditional construct of marriage, a man and a woman," the governor told the Deseret News. "But I also think that we can go a greater distance in enhancing equal rights for others in nontraditional relationships."

Let me offer another thought. This could lead to a further minimization of the Iowa Caucus. My understanding is that Mitt Romney, who must be considered the front-runner, is already trying to figure out how to avoid Iowa or somehow reshuffle the deck. A number of candidates could reasonably try to skip it.

Iowa Republican Party politics will be very, very interesting over the next couple of years. I expect this to be ask much solved by the rules guys and party officials as by actual voters. But that's really the point of caucuses, isn't it?

 

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By Soren Dayton, ago
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Romney starts tacking back to the center

Many know that I was never a big fan of Mitt Romney. After running for years as a liberal Republican in Massachusetts, with private assurances well beyond his public statement.

That said, I have long thought that he was poorly served by advisors that recommended he run to the right as a candidate of the conservative movement rather than as a pragmatist. He didn't have to call himself a 10 out of 10 like Reagan.

Anyways, Mitt is tacking back to the center on a number of issues in an interview with The Hill's Reid Wilson. On regulation, the stimulus, TARP, and immigration, he says things that I mostly agree with but are out of touch with the "conservative base".

It would not surprise me to see more of this, with both Romney and other candidates. If Romney runs to the center in some form, while trying to keep his connection with the conservative movement represented by CPAC and other groups (although the reach of their power is unclear). Furthermore Mike Huckabee is another kind of tack to the center. And John Huntsman has another.

Anyways, after the jump, some of the things he says.

Regulation:

In an interview with The Hill, Romney said, “We as Republicans misspeak when we say we don’t like regulation. We like modern, up-to-date dynamic regulation that is regularly reviewed, streamlined, modernized and effective.”

Mitt is right. But the voicing of this is ... odd. Similarly on stimulus:

Similarly, Romney is among the many Republicans who support a stimulus plan, but not in the form Congress passed in February.

“The best stimulus with the highest multiplier effect is one which gives money back to people rather than having government spend more, and so I think they got it wrong. It’s too much weighted toward spending, too little weighted toward tax reductions,” Romney said.

And immigration:

Romney believes that one way to attract more minorities to the GOP is to pass immigration reform before the next election, saying the issue becomes demagogued by both parties on the campaign trail.

“We have a natural affinity with Hispanic-American voters, Asian-American voters,” he said.

Speaking in his Ritz-Carlton room with a pair of blue jeans on the dresser, Romney declined to criticize immigration hard-liners like former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who backed Romney after he dropped his own presidential bid. Romney argued that all 2008 GOP candidates — including Tancredo — strongly favor legal immigration.

This is the one that blows my mind. Jeb Bush, who seemed to support Romney, accused him of "pounding his chest" on the issue. And one has to ask how the GOP would get any credit for immigration reform now.

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By Soren Dayton, ago
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NY-20: Don’t forget the military. The state board of election did

It looks like Jim Tedisco may have pulled off the victory in NY-20 after all. And there is good reason to think that the remaining absentee ballots should favor Tedisco. That said, there was a serious problem.

The state Board of Elections seesm to have deliberately disinfranchised military voters. Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky describes how the Democrats on the Board of Election actually voted to reject a Department of Justice recommendation to send out ballots.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing the federal statute that guarantees the right of overseas citizens and military personnel to vote by absentee ballot, contacted the New York State Board of Elections and requested that they issue their ballots sooner for this race. The two Republican members of the board voted to support this request. Yet the two Democratic members of the board, shamefully enough, voted against doing so. Were they trying to disenfranchise military voters?

So the DoJ actually had to file suit against the NY State board of Election. Hans explains why that suit was still inadequate because, ultimately, the Civil Rights Division at DoJ doesn’t take the issue of voting rights seriously for the military.

In the end though, there are about 1,000 military absentee votes outstanding. In spite of Democratic attempts to disenfranchise our soldiers, some of our troops will get to vote. And it looks like we will win the race.

But we need to stop this kiniving next time.

Cross-posted from The Next Right.

By Soren Dayton, ago
Syndicated

NY-20: Don’t forget the military. The state board of election did

It looks like Jim Tedisco may have pulled off the victory in NY-20 after all. And there is good reason to think that the remaining absentee ballots should favor Tedisco. That said, there was a serious problem.

The state Board of Elections seesm to have deliberately disinfranchised military voters. Heritage's Hans von Spakovsky describes how the Democrats on the Board of Election actually voted to reject a Department of Justice recommendation to send out ballots.

The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing the federal statute that guarantees the right of overseas citizens and military personnel to vote by absentee ballot, contacted the New York State Board of Elections and requested that they issue their ballots sooner for this race. The two Republican members of the board voted to support this request. Yet the two Democratic members of the board, shamefully enough, voted against doing so. Were they trying to disenfranchise military voters?

So the DoJ actually had to file suit against the NY State board of Election. Hans explains why that suit was still inadequate because, ultimately, the Civil Rights Division at DoJ doesn't take the issue of voting rights seriously for the military.

In the end though, there are about 1,000 military absentee votes outstanding. In spite of Democratic attempts to disenfranchise our soldiers, some of our troops will get to vote. And it looks like we will win the race.

But we need to stop this kiniving next time.

 

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By Soren Dayton, ago