Republican primary

What They Vote For (Yellowhammer Special)

#supremacism | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Lebanon's memories: Pictures of Lebanon's family, in happier days. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, "Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows...")

This is the sort of thing only voters can achieve:

Rep. Mo Brooks is moving on after a distant third-place finish in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Alabama Senate special election.

And Brooks is doing that without endorsing either of the two men, Judge Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who beat him to enter a runoff on Sept. 26 to decide the GOP nominee.

(Connolly)

More precisely: After rejecting Rep. Mo Brooks to replace Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, voters find themselves presented with a choice between the disgraceful Luther Strange and the disgraced Roy Moore, and history reminds that state voters have already re-elected the twice-disgraced former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after his first tumble from grace for abuse of authority. What chance does Luther Strange have? All he ever did was take his dispute against human rights, on behalf of religious supremacism, to the Supreme Court and lose.

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More Missouri Madness

New York City, 30 March 2015: Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star during an episode of The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc in New York City, 30 March 2015, discussing the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, communications director to former State Auditor Tom Schweich, who took his own life last month after accusing Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock of a whisper campaign accusing Schweich, a 2016 gubernatorial hopeful, of being Jewish.

It … it happened … again.

For the second time in a month, Missourians struggled Monday to understand the unfathomable — why a leading political figure in the state would take his own life.

Robert “Spence” Jackson, a prominent Republican spokesman and media liaison for more than a decade, was found dead Sunday night in the bedroom of his Jefferson City apartment.

He died from a single gunshot from a .357 Magnum revolver, police said. He left a note. Authorities consider the death a suicide.

They were unwilling Monday to officially tie Jackson’s death to that of his boss, former Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who shot himself Feb. 26. But politicians and consultants easily connected the two events.

(Helling and Hancock)

Rachel Maddow hosted Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling on Monday, in hopes of trying to put at least some of the pieces together.Robert "Spence" Jackson died 27 March 2015 of an apparent suicide. Mr. Jackson's death is the second suicide in Missouri's 2016 Republican gubernatorial primary, after his boss and friend, State Auditor Tom Schweich, took his own life a month ago after alleging a whisper campaign against him by state Republican Party Chairman John Hancock, accusing that he was Jewish. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

The Missouri GOP verges on coming apart; Mr. Helling describes in his interview with Maddow calls for the proximal players in this awful chapter to simply step away in order for the party to save itself. One might also wonder if that would have any real effect; will a handful of closely associated Republicans choosing to depart change enough about the Grand Old Party in the Show-Me State? After all, the looming question here is what, exactly, is going on with Missouri Republicans?

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Image note: Top―Rachel Maddow interviews Dave Helling regarding the apparent suicide of Robert “Spence” Jackson, 30 March 2015, on The Rachel Maddow Show for msnbc. Right―Robert “Spence” Jackson. (Photo via Kansas City Star)

Helling, Dave and Jason Hancock. “Tom Schweich spokesman Spence Jackson found dead of apparent suicide”. The Kansas City Star. 30 March 2015.

Maddow, Rachel. “Second suicide shocks Missouri Republicans”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 30 March 2015.

A Disaster in Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, candidate for Republican gubernatorial nomination in August, 2016, committed suicide 26 February 2015, amid swirling rumors of a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy against him despite the fact that he was an Episcopalian.

That elections should not have death tolls is itself a grim enough statement insofar as there exist circumstances in the human endeavor requiring such reminders; but these are the United States of America, and, really, elections should not have death tolls.

Rachel Maddow tries to summarize the circumstances surrounding the apparent suicide of Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich.

Tony Messenger, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Had I not ignored his phone call to me at 9:41 Thursday morning — I was doing a thing at my kids’ school district — I might have been the last person to talk to the man who wanted to be governor. It made for a chilling day in which I decided to do something I’ve never done before as a reporter: reveal the contents of off-the-record conversations with a source. That source is now dead. I believe it’s what he would have wanted.

Mr. Messenger again, in an official statement released via the Post-Dispatch.

The story itself is unbelievable, not for any implication that this is something other than a suicide. Rather, the question of how and why things got so far out of hand.

Steve Kraske and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star bring us a statement from Missouri Republican Party Chairman John Hancock that pretty much makes the point:

I would like to set the record straight, once and for all: Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish, but it was simply a part of what I believed to be his biography—no different than the fact that he was from St. Louis and had graduated from Harvard Law School. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom’s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainty was not attempting to “inject religion” into the governor’s race, as some have suggested (in fact, I have never met with donors or raised money on behalf of the Hanaway campaign).

If words seem to fail, there is a reason.

This is apparently the scandal at the heart of it all. This is apparently the reason Tom Schweich has killed himself.

Elections should not have death tolls. What is happening in our society that we are seeing these outcomes? How does having Jewish ancestry even come into play in the first place? And how is it that this is the second year in a row we have seen a suicide in a primary election?

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Maddow, Rachel. “A shocking death in a harsh Republican primary in Missouri”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 27 February 2015.

Messenger, Tony. “From voicemail to voicemail: The short political life and times of Tom Schweich”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 27 February 2015.

—————. “Statement of Tony Messenger, Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor, on Schweich Death”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 February 2015.

Kraske, Steve and Dave Helling. “Missouri GOP chairman denies spreading rumors about Tom Schweich’s religion”. The Kansas City Star. 27 February 2015.

That Republican Unity You’ve Been Hearing About

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Speaking of unity and the Republican Party ....

Tea party favorite Mike Lee roiled the GOP establishment four years ago when he knocked off a sitting senator on his way to the Republican Senate nomination in Utah.

Now, the establishment might strike back.

As the 43-year-old Lee plots his 2016 reelection bid, he is courting business leaders under the radar, hoping to head off a primary challenge backed by business leaders and other establishment figures in his home state, like billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., an influential bank CEO and a former Utah GOP party chairman.

Some powerful establishment Republicans in Utah are tired of Lee’s hard-line positions. He stood with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas last year when the federal government closed and again this month when they tried to take on President Barack Obama on immigration but ended up giving Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada leverage to confirm controversial nominations.

So as Lee fights to make sure he doesn’t become the first tea party senator ousted by the party establishment, he’s effectively turned the Republican intraparty war that has defined Senate primary politics for the past four years on its head.

(Raju)

Is there a way we can blame this on Ben Carson?

It’s hard to say what voters will do if given the choice again, but we must also recall that between whatever passed for the Republican version of sanity and responsible decency and, well, Sen. Mike Lee, voters in Utah went with the latter. Well, okay, let us be clear: His predecessor, Sen. Bob Bennett, was a conservative stalwart who just wasn’t conservative enough to not be drummed out by his own state’s Republican Party.

We’ll have to see what comes of any attempt to inject sanity in to Utah politics; all previous efforts seem to have failed, so it is fair if one holds low expectations.

Still, though, we can pretend it’s unity if we want to blame Ben Carson for wrecking it, right?

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Raju, Manu. “Tea partier braces for primary challenge from the establishment”. Politico. 22 December 2014.

A Disaster in Mississippi

Those with an ear to murmurings political could not help but hear the ruckus that stirred in recent months over in Mississippi. In a right-wing primary pitting a secessionist Tea Partier against an incumbent conservative Republican, the outcome was decided by black Democrats who turned out at incumbent Sen. That Cochran’s plea in order to reject the secessionist upstart Chris McDaniel.

But that is hardly the strangest historical nugget from the fierce contest that pushed into a runoff after neither candidate achieved the state’s fifty percent threshold. Nor would it be the part where the longtime Beltway figure Cochran tried to play up his folksy charm by recalling indecent liberties taken with farm animals when he was a child.

Mark Mayfield (l.) with Chris McDanielThe most bizarre aspect of the 2014 Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate Primary, far and away, was the break-in scandal. The short form is that somebody broke into a nursing home in order to photograph Cochran’s invalid wife, which pictures turned up in an outside interest’s anti-Cochran television spot.

Four were arrested in that caper, and questions still remain about what degree McDaniel’s campaign was aware of what was going on; their initial comments on the budding scandal at the time proved, well, inaccurate. Nobody has quite figured out what happened there.

But what has happened to the scandal since is that one of the arrested and accused, Mark Mayfield—an attorney and leader of a state Tea Party ogranization—ended his own life.

The family of Mississippi tea party leader Mark Mayfield, who committed suicide last week after facing charges for his alleged connection to the photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss) wife, plans legal action against “anyone responsible” for his death, according to The Clarion Ledger.

Authorities arrested Mayfield and two other supporters of Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) on conspiracy charges earlier this year after a blogger allegedly took photographs of Cochran’s bedridden wife, Rose, at a nursing home where she suffers from progressive dementia. The photos were allegedly used for an anti-Cochran political video that was later taken down.

Mayfield’s relatives argue that Madison Police Department officers trespassed when they went to his Ridgeland home after he shot himself on Friday. They say Mayfield’s arrest was politically motivated by supporters of Cochran, who defeated McDaniel in a contentious primary runoff that the state senator has yet to concede.

“It’s the highest degree of abuse of power,” said Ridgeland Alderman Wesley Hamlin, Mayfield’s nephew.

(Bobic)

John Reeves, brother-in-law to the deceased, noted that the arrest cost Mayfield his career as a transactional lawyer: “On the day his picture was in the paper, all three banks called him and said, ‘Mark, you’re fired.’ That devastated him. He lost his business. He had to let his secretaries go.” While one can certainly empathize, there is also something of cynicism that rises in the context of an appeal to emotion; the family is also upset that Mayfield was accused at all, and also at the manner in which he was arrested: “They treated him like a criminal.”

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A Thought or Three About Thad

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Before the conventional wisdom gets too confused—which, of course, requires presupposing that it has not already shown itself befuddled beyond function—it would behoove us to recall that there is nothing new, here insofar as some, when presented with bad choices, play chess instead of checkers. And in considering Mississippi, well, what, really, does anyone expect?

Last week, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran survived a Republican primary runoff in Mississippi, thanks in large part to an unexpected group of supporters: African-American voters. Though many are Democrats, many in Mississippi’s black community saw Cochran’s right-wing rival as far more offensive.

Soon after the dust settled, many of those responsible for rescuing Cochran’s career, preventing him from suffering a humiliating defeat, had an idea on how the senator can return the favor: it was time for Cochran to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act, a bill to repair the civil-rights law gutted last year by conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court.

By some measures, the request seemed fairly modest. After all, Cochran had supported the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act quite recently. All his new-found African-American allies were seeking is support for a law the senator has already backed in the recent past.

It looks like Cochran’s rescuers may need to think of some other way for him to pay his debt.

(Benen)

It would seem the problem is that the Republican senator’s spokesman has shown himself insufficiently enthusiastic, which, in many cases, does not actually signify anything. The problem is that if Cochran is to deliver on any obligations to the Democratic voters who helped quash the McDaniel campaign, he will have to negotiate treacherous, shallow waters under stormy skies; regardless of whether the long arc of history bends toward Justice, the politics of a Southern white Republican bucking the Party in order to support minority voting rights would seem complicated insofar as having pulled off a spectacular feat of politics the Cochran staff must now try to plot a course to there from here. At the very least, we can expect this will take a little while, so perhaps it is unfair to expect the senator’s spokesman to know exactly what to say. These treacherous waters are also exceptionally unfamiliar to conservatives in the South.

Perhaps, then, Benen’s concerns are stated in too immediate a context. That is to say, it is not so much that he overstates a problem, but, rather, that in focusing on points like, “as of this morning, the Voting Rights Amendment Act still has zero co-sponsors”, we might accidentally undertake a myopic endeavor. The challenge would seem to be to keep pressure on Sen. Cochran to step up and make the policy change. And it might well be useful if that pressure is constructive. Cochran has dug himself something of a hole; refusing to pay this modest moral obligation has potential including the agitation and augmentation of the apparent racial divide in Southern politics. To the other, if the seventy-six year-old Mississippian son of educators can navigate the hazards and swing his policy argument in favor of the VRAA, he might well also open a route for dialogue toward reconciliation between the GOP establishment and black voters.

It is hardly the steepest of prices, but the need is immediate. Cochran just spent a lot of political capital on credit, and the lenders really, really need him to pay this back. And quickly.

And the professional hands know what to do, how to keep the heat up. Not only is the VRAA a big deal for those in need of its help, but this could lead to something even bigger for Republicans, minorities, and the nation in general. That potential return on investment simply reiterates the need for Sen. Cochran to put his hand to the helm, lash his courage to the mast, and find a way through the proverbial storm a-brewin’.

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Jamelle Bouie dissects the obvious: “Black voters had to choose between the man they knew—a relative moderate who deals in earmarks and largess—and a new man. If you know anything about Chris McDaniel, this wasn’t a hard choice.”

Benen, Steve. “Cochran already rebuffing those who rescued him”. msnbc. 30 June 2014.

Bouie, Jamelle. “Why Mississippi’s Black Democrats Saved an Elderly White Republican”. Slate. 25 June 2014.

A Benchmark … Maybe?

The Mississippi Loser

Given the unpredictability of politics, such suggestions might seem somewhat naïve; yet one might legitimately wonder if, on the Republican side of things, you know some abstract limit has been violated when Jennifer Rubin comes out swinging:

As I’ve written previously, the far right’s reaction to Sen. Thad Cochran’s defeat of their pet tea party candidate Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Mississippi has been unhinged and at times downright racist. Even the less hysterical voices are up in arms that Cochran’s tactics were unseemly or that the “establishment” betrayed them again.

Among the “sins” Cochran is accused of is finding African American leaders to help turn out the African American vote. (The nerve!) Unearthing egregiously offensive comments McDaniel made on his radio show (no!) and skewering McDaniel for campaign gaffes on everything from Katrina relief to support for the inane shutdown (mercy me!). The attitude that the “establishment” doesn’t have to crush the poor tea party folk every time, suggests, I guess, that there needs to be a mercy rule of the inept tea party (if they lose 10 races they get a freebie?).

I mean, really. Damn.

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Kansas

There is nothing about Niels Lesniewski’s report for Roll Call that isn’t sad. While we already know American politics is a strange country, but consider the state of the Republican primary for the Kansas U.S. Senate race:

The Kansas DebacleAlexandria, Va., and Alexandria, Kan., are nothing alike.

One is a suburb of the national’s capital. The other is just a few miles from Leavenworth. But a tea party group based in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., wants to host a Kansas Senate primary debate, and the long-shot challenger has already accepted the invitation.

A group known as the Northern Virginia Tea Party is offering to host a debate between veteran Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and challenger Milton Wolf. Wolf may be best known to HOH readers as a distant relative of President Barack Obama.

Wolf, a radiologist, has fire for, among other things, posting patient x-ray images on Facebook ….

…. Of course, the invite’s an attempt to get some publicity for residency questions for Roberts that gained attention from a New York Times report back in February.

It is almost enough to feel sorry for Kansans. To the one, they have a distant cousin of President Obama trying to use that association to give credibility to his opposition to the White House. But he’s also an unethical radiologist, which could easily be exploited for an attack about what kind of person so pointedly opposes President Obama. To the other, a career politician who is so ensconced in the Beltway culture that it is hard for Kansans to figure out if he even lives in the state.

Like I said, though, almost.

There comes a point, after all, where we must accept the fact that the people of Kansas did this to themselves.

Your (sigh) 2016 GOP Presidential Prognistication, v.1

There is, of course, the idea of epistemic closure, what others might refer to as the Bubble, or the Right Wing Echo Chamber. After all, one might wonder at the idea that presidential-caliber political operatives were shellshocked on election night. To the other, the effect is easy enough to see, but in truth it really was hard to believe. And yet amid the right-wing media circus that included arbitrarily adjusted statistics to tell us all the real, “unskewed” poll results, Jennifer Rubin stood alone amid the wrong-minded noise, head and shoulders above her deluded colleagues, and managed the sort of electoral season that the Washington Post really ought to be embarrassed about, except that she’s not as bad as the two people who held the job of WaPo right-wing blogger before her.

But the newspaper’s cruel joke against conservatives remains unbowed. In recent days the Maven of Mistakes has announced her field of candidates for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. No, really.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Former GOP vice presidential nominee, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Bonus coverage of the field that just shouldn’t bother, namely Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, as well as former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it?

No?

Well … er … right.

One Marianne Doherty lamented, as Romney supporters countenanced defeat, “It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are. I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”

And, well, yeah. If Republicans want to keep feeling that way, they should keep their heads firmly sealed inside the Bubble.

I mean, really. Look at that list. The only real question is how much of his soul Gov. Christie is going to have to sell in order to seal up the nomination.

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Apparently, Romney’s campaign, from top to bottom, had no idea what was about to happen. How does one get to the premiere league of American politics, yet be so blind?