Monday, September 28, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Post-Weekend Update 4

Local elections in Spanish autonomous region of Catalunya
just gave two pro-secessionist parties enough votes to have a
majority in the Catalonian parliament, but the record turnout
failed to give these parties a majority of the popular vote. The
leader of the largest pro-secessionist party had declared the
vote an unofficial plebiscite on the northeastern part of Spain
to become an independent nation. The Catalans speak their own
language and have a long history of hostility to the national
government in Madrid. The regional capital of Barcelona contain
much of the nation’s industrial and commercial resources, and a
long-standing Catalan complaint is that the area does not receive a
fair share of federal financial resources. Spanish President Rajoy
has declared the vote invalid for secession, and a true separation
of the Barcelona region from the rest of Spain remains
problematic and distant at best.


Businessman Stewart Mills, 43, who as the Republican nominee
for Congress in Minnesota’s Iron Range 8th district came close to
defeating incumbent Democrat (DFLer) Rick Nolan in 2014, has
indicated he will challenge Mr. Nolan again. One of the freshest
faces in state politics, and an energetic campaigner, Mr. Mills
received national attention for his 2014 effort. He contends that,
with no statewide races in 2016, he will have a better chance this
cycle, and cites private polls showing him in a strong position.
Mr. Nolan, 71, has announced for re-election, but some national
Democratic strategists have recently indicated he might be
vulnerable next year. This should be one of the most hotly
contested races in the nation.


Until now, few observers gave Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders a
credible chance to become the Democratic nominee for president
in 2016, despite his early success in his challenge to the party’s
frontrunner Hillary Clinton. In recent days, however, Mr. Sanders
has taken double digit leads in polls in early primary and caucus
states, and his support continues to grow while Mrs. Clinton’s
continues to decline. The big question in this contest now is
whether or not Vice President Joe Biden gets into the race. If he
does, there is an expectation that the race would become wide
open, and a serious possibility that the vice president could win.
If he does not enter, however, and Mrs. Clinton’s legal problems
and controversies continue to mount, Mr. Sanders’ delegate total
could rise quickly and his nomination inevitable. This would be
likely because the deadlines for entering primaries and caucuses
are rapidly approaching, and a major Democratic candidate’s
entry late into the race thus becomes technically impossible.

After Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his retirement
at the end of October, some activists in his party have turned
their attention to the GOP leader in the U.S. senate, Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, with some calls that he be replaced. Mr. Boehner,
who had considered retiring in 2014, had constantly been the target
of mavericks in his house caucus, and after a quarter century in
Congress decided the controversy surrounding him was hurting his
party. Mr. McConnell, on the other hand, had just acceded to leading
a new GOP senate majority, and shows no signs of plans to leave.
The problem for both Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell has been that
a small group in their caucuses have demanded symbolic votes
against President Obama’s policies in spite of the fact that
Republicans lack the votes to override the president’s vetoes.
Calls to shut down the government as a tactic to force Mr. Obama’s
hand have not been successful previously, and with a month
remaining in office, Mr. Boehner is not expected to allow it to
happen. The structure of the U.S. senate is also quite different from
that of the U.S. house, and Mr. McConnell’s job seems safe for now
at least.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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