John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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More on the elections

More election commentary:

  • Looks like CNN is calling Montana for Tester, which means control of the Senate comes down to Virginia. As of 4:11 PM, the Virginia Board of Elections shows Jim Webb leading George Allen by 7,307 votes, or about 0.31%. That's close enough to trigger an automatic recount, which means we probably won't have an answer before December, if last year's recount of the Lieutenant Governor's race is indicative of anything. I remain cautiously optimistic, if only because it takes some of the sting away from knowing that...
     
  • Virginia's ridiculous anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment passed. Boo! The problem is not so much that it bans same-sex marriage — which is already illegal in Virginia — but that it bans any legal arrangement between "unmarried individuals" that confer the "rights, obligations, privileges and immunities of marriage." Such rights, obligations, privileges and immunities might reasonably be interpreted to include wills, adoptions, child custody agreements, medical directives, powers of attorney, and so on. This Slate article gives a good overview of the problems with the amendment.
     
  • Most intriguing What If? question of the day: what if the Democrats had fielded a candidate against Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana? Three incumbent Republicans lost their House seats, but the GOP narrowly retained control of the three statewide offices that were on the ballot, so I have to wonder how Lugar would have fared with more than token opposition. I think he still would have won, but it's still interesting to think about.
     
  • During Sen. Mike DeWine's first term in office, the Senate decided to upgrade the subway that ran between the Capitol and the Dirksen and Hart Senate Office Buildings. DeWine decided that upgrading the subway was a frivolous expense and argued passionately against the project, even going so far as to vote against the legislative appropriations bill that funded it. His efforts were for naught, and he vowed to never ride the new subway. (And as far as I know, he never has.) I was working for the Senate at the time, and DeWine's fulminations against the subway ticked me off at the time, though now I can't quite remember why, other than that it struck me as a rather stupid thing to fixate upon. Anyway, it sort of pleases me to know that despite his ten-year crusade against the Dirksen/Hart subway, DeWine's on his way out and the subway is still there.
     
  • Yesterday was a good day for Cornell College. As previously noted, Cornell Prof. Dave Loebsack won election to the House of Representatives from Iowa's 2nd District. And in the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, Cornell alum Chris Carney defeated incumbent Republican Don Sherwood. Woot!
     
  • Nice to see radical anti-environmentalist Richard Pombo defeated for re-election yesterday. I'm not sure who's in line to become the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee now that he's out of the picture, but whoever it is is bound to be an improvement.
     
  • I was sorry to see Tammy Duckworth fail in her attempt to win the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Hyde. My dad thought she shouldn't have been nominated in the first place; he thought her primary opponent, Christine Cegelis, who had run a surprisingly strong race against Hyde in 2004, should have been nominated, but the state party backed Duckworth because she is a disabled Iraq War vet.
     
  • At last, Jim Nussle is out of office. I hate that guy, and I couldn't be happier that he lost his bid to become Governor of Iowa. And his Congressional seat was picked up by a Democrat. I call that a thorough repudiation!
     
  • Not a good year overall for athletes-turned-politicians. Rep. Tom Osborne, the former head coach of the University of Nebraska football team, gave up his House seat to run for governor (and lost in the primary, incidentally), and track great Jim Ryun was outrun by Democrat Nancy Boyda in the 2nd District of Kansas. (Incidentally, Boyda serves as an example of why my dad thinks Cegelis should have been nominated instead of Duckworth; Boyda ran against Ryun in 2004 and lost, but tried again this year and won handily.) But over in the 11th District of North Carolina, former Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler sent incumbent Republican Charles Taylor to the sidelines, resulting in a net loss of one House seat held by a former sports star. Meanwhile, former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann's run at the Pennsylvania statehouse was blocked by incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell.
     
  • Democrats ran pretty well nationwide, but nowhere did they do better than in New Hampshire, where they beat both incumbent House members, retained the governor's office by a huge margin, and gained control of the state legislature for the first time in 84 years. It helps that the N.H. Republican party is almost literally bankrupt, thanks to ongoing litigation related to an illegal phone-jamming scheme in 2002, but even so, it's a stunning string of victories in a state that has been viewed as a Republican stronghold.
     
  • Good Lord, has New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson signed a deal with the Devil? She's never been elected with more than 55% of the vote, and this year she had the strongest opponent she's ever faced, N.M. Attorney General Patricia Madrid... and yet in this year of all years, she's still holding on to a slight lead (101,305 votes to Madrid's 100,257). The race hasn't been called yet, but that she's even in contention is surely a sign of infernal interference.
     
  • Winner of this year's Best Name award: newly elected Democratic Rep. Zach Space, from Ohio's 18th Congressional District. I'm undecided as to whether his name is better than that of the other member of the Congressional Zach Caucus, Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp. Of course, neither one can hold a candle to former N.H. Congressman Dick Swett, but whad'ya gonna do?
     
  • Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs may have accomplished something unique in Congressional history: winning and losing the same House seat in the same election. What happened was that when Tom DeLay resigned from the House, an special election was held to determine who would take his place on the November ballot. Sekula-Gibbs won, but because of a peculiarity of Texas election law, DeLay's name could not be removed from the ballot, so she had to run as a write-in candidate. Texas Republicans were concerned that her name might present a challenge to voters, so Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided to grease the skids by calling a special election to fill the remainder of DeLay's term. Sekula-Gibbs was chosen as the Republican nominee for the special election, in hopes that having her name appear somewhere on the ballot might help voters remember to write in her name for the regular election. Reasonably clever, but ultimately futile: Sekula-Gibbs won the special election, but Democrat Nick Lampson won the regular. Sekula-Gibbs can be sworn in immediately, but will serve only until the start of the next term.
     
  • How is it that on the same day, voters in Vermont elected a Republican Governor, a Democratic Congressman, and a Socialist Senator? That's almost too bizarre to be believed.
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