Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Brandon Rittiman Leaves 9NEWS

Brandon Rittiman, 9NEWS ace political reporter, has decamped for a Sacramento station, ABC10, his home state.

He gave politics a dose of truth in his Truth Test; hosted the Sunday morning Balance of Power; and with Kyle Clark, moderated some of Colorado’s most informative debates.

Good luck in California. Lots of political news there.

Can the Democrats Win the House?

The Democrats need to win 23 seats to take the U.S. House of Representatives. The midterm elections should be a good year for Democrats, but 23 seats is a substantial number, given the small number of swing districts and the fierce battle that is expected. Professor Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball suggests it’s a 50-50 toss-up that the Democrats can get the 23 seats they need.

Sabato claims Democrats have 199 seats safe or leaning toward them, and Republicans similarly have 208. Hence, out of the 28 identified toss-up seats, they need, 68 percent, or 19, to get to 218 – a high percentage, but possible.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Some Observations on the Mexican Presidential Transition

In an interesting presentation at the University of Denver sponsored by WorldDenver and the Latino Leadership Institute and moderated by former Senator Tom Daschle, it was observed that President Trump has divided America and united Mexico. They believed, due to Trump, America has lost its moral authority to call governments or others to account for corruption, conflict of interest or human rights violations.

The discussants speculated Trump and the new Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) would likely end up in a confrontation, although they have started off on a positive note. I disagree. Although each president may criticize the other, mostly for domestic consumption, they are, in fact, similar in a variety of ways.

They are both nationalists and primarily interested in domestic issues, especially their respective economies. Trump and AMLO share a desire to raise Mexican worker wages. Trump’s interest is to create a disincentive for jobs to move to Mexico.

AMLO is likely to intervene in the economy as vigorously as Trump. AMLO’s super majority makes him a strong man with an authoritarian attitude. Trump’s favorite leader.

They both salute sovereignty and are unlikely to have a great deal of interest in other countries (e.g., Venezuela) or each other concerning “internal matters,” such as human rights.

My prediction is Mexico will ignore much of the bluster from D.C. and will instead work hard to maintain the positive economic aspects of the relationship. However, security issues, especially related to drugs, human trafficking and immigration, will likely remain the hot spots.

One note: The election devastated the PRI, the old historic governing party. It may not revive. MORENA, AMLO’s party, inherited many of the PRI voters and interest groups. The PRI is the heart of Mexican clientelism and government corruption. How does AMLO stop the corruption when he and his party have become the boss?

Read The Buzz: López Obrador will win and Mexico will lose

Pelosi is Out – Maybe

I have been predicting that Nancy Pelosi would retire from the leadership of the House Democrats since 2010 when they lost their majority. She doesn’t listen to me. But finally, it appears her time has run out. After serving the national Democrats since the 1970s and as the Democratic House leader since 2003, RealClearPolitics reports she doesn’t have the votes to win the Speakership or even Minority Leader again. The most telling statistic was that 24 new Democratic candidates were refusing to back her if they win, which reinforces a NBC/WSJ poll that reported the two highest priorities of Democratic voters for a candidate were restraining President Trump and not supporting Pelosi.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi | Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Pelosi has fought back opposition before and as recently as 2016, but this challenge is deeper and broader and appears politically fatal.

See The Buzz:
California a winner – Pelosi retires, McCarthy Majority leader
Pelosi retires?
Happy birthday Nancy

Friday, July 13, 2018

Another Educational Tax Proposal – Better Chance Than 2013?

In ChalkBeat, the highly rated online education news source, Erica Meltzer reported on the fast signature collection efforts of the state’s public education establishment for their $1.6 billion tax increase initiative.

The teachers union and its allies turned in 170,000 signatures July 11, following the new rules governing constitutional amendments requiring signatures from voters in each of the 35 state senate districts. They need 98,472 valid signatures. They claim to have collected 65 percent with volunteers. They paid circulators for the remaining 70,000. The initiative will have to get 55 percent support from the voters to pass under the new rules.

With a poorly designed and positioned initiative, a $1 billion tax lost 2-to-1 in 2013, even after an $11 million campaign. Does this effort have a better chance?

My view was yes, but it is still an uphill battle.

Supporters of the measure will be campaigning in a complicated political environment, possibly sharing the ballot with a major tax increase for transportation, as well as a governor’s race and legislative contests that will determine control of the state Senate, where Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority.

Candidates up and down the ballot likely will be asked to take a position on the ballot measure, layering partisan politics over a measure that supporters hope will have broad appeal.

“You start this analysis with the assumption that it’s an uphill battle because we don’t really pass statewide tax increases, while schools pass lots of local taxes and bond measures,” said political consultant and pollster Floyd Ciruli. “The difference is trust. At the statewide level, people don’t trust that the money will go to benefit their local schools.”

Ciruli sees advantages, though, to asking voters in a mid-term election. Turnout will be higher than in an off-year, when older, more conservative voters tend to dominate, and even-year voters are more likely to have Democratic tendencies and be more open to taxes.

The contentious Democratic primary, which focused on education, also “primed” voters to see low funding as a key problem for schools, he said.

“The environment is pro-education,” Ciruli said. That places the tax measure “in the ballpark, but it’s still a challenge to do a statewide tax increase.”

Democratic candidates will have to take a position on a very complex and expensive ballot initiative. Sign up and be accused of tax and spend or don't and anger the union and its friends.

Abortion Rights Still Political – Peter Roper in the Pueblo Chieftain

Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the correctness of the decision is still being argued and its fate endangered by President Trump’s latest Supreme Court pick.

As Peter Roper points out in his Pueblo Chieftain article (7-11-18), Colorado voters have rejected a “personhood” amendment three times. It was interpreted as a ban and an effort to get a case before the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Although the vote against the amendment dropped to 65 percent in 2014 from 70 percent in 2010, I argue that a solid majority of Colorado and U.S. voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade by 2-to-1.

Although voters are more on the liberal side of abortion limits than the conservative, the issue still has a passionate minority that would overturn Roe and a majority of the public supports various restrictions, such as a waiting period and bans on late term abortions.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Frank and Matthews Leave Post

The Denver Post has just lost two of its best political reporters as the political season ramps up.

John Frank heads over to the latest online Colorado website, The Colorado Sun. Mark Matthews just took a job at an environmental and politics news site.