Monday, June 20, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Latest Political Update 17

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald
Trump has fired his campaign manger Corey
Lewandowski four weeks before the GOP national
convention in Cleveland. Mr. Lewandowski was the
successful but often controversial manager of the Mr.
Trump’s unorthodox campaign that defeated 16 major
rivals. Since clinching the nomination several weeks ago,
Mr. Trump’s campaign against presumptive Democratic
nominee Hillary Clinton has faltered, primarily because
of Mr. Trump’s own inflammatory remarks, but also
because of deteriorating relations with the Republican
National Committee (whose cooperation he will need to
raise funds and solidify his position as GOP nominee).
Mr. Lewandowski’s departure is expected to improve the

The historic British referendum on whether to leave or
remain in the European Union (EU) is now in its last
campaign hours, and polls indicate the final result will
be close. These same polls have indicated a pattern of
alternate “Leave” and “Remain” leads in the vote. The
referendum does not pit left vs right or Tory vs. Labour,
but instead pits large cities and Scotland against rural and
smaller urban areas. Conservative Prime Minister David
Cameron’s job is up for grabs (he favors ”Remain’), and
fellow Tory Boris Johnson (and potential successor) heads
up the “Leave” campaign. “Leave” supporters assert that
British sovereignty is at stake, and the whole world is
watching and waiting for the outcome.

In what might be an omen for the national general
November election ahead, first-time candidate and
businessman Doug Burgum shocked heavy favorite and
current Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to win the
Republican nomination for governor of North Dakota.
Mr. Stenehjem had won his last two races with 75% of
the vote, and had the backing of almost all of the state’s
GOP establishment. Mr. Burgum was a very early
endorser of Donald Trump, self-funded his campaign,
and explicitly ran against the GOP-controlled legislature
and the GOP party leadership. He also had the critically
important endorsement of enormously popular former
North Dakota Governor Ed Schaeffer. Heavily favored to
win in November, Mr. Burgum will now have work
together with both the GOP legislature and Mr. Stenehjem
in Bismarck next January.

Democrats nationally are expected to make net gains in
U.S house races in 2016, and the party (known as the DFL)
is expected to pick up a seat in Minnesota’s 2nd district
now occupied by retiring GOP Congressman John Kline.
If GOP-endorsed candidate Jason Lewis wins the
conservative party’s primary over party favorite Darlene
Miller, he will receive very little support from GOP donors
and activists. Lewis, a libertarian and radio show host, is
likely to join the anti-GOP leadership faction if elected. The
DFL nominee is businesswoman Angie Craig who has no
primary opposition and has self-funded her effort so far.
Ms. Craig is also strong campaigner, and would be heavily
favored against Mr. Lewis in November in this district
carried by President Obama in 2012.

But the liberal party might not make a net gain in the
Gopher state because Republican Stewart Mills could
upset DFL Congressman Rick Nolan in the state’s 8th
district. Nolan barely won in 2014 against Mills, and then
only because there was a statewide U.S. senate race at the
top of the ballot. In 2016, there are no statewide races.
Normally the presidential race would more than
compensate for this, but Hillary Clinton, the presumptive
Democratic nominee is not popular in the state, particularly
in areas outside the Twin Cities. In fact, Mr. Nolan pointedly
endorsed Bernie Sanders in the state’s caucus. With serious
races in MN-2 and MN-3, liberal campaign funds will not be
concentrated in MN-8, as they were in 2014, and Mr. Mills
(whose family business was just sold) has virtually unlimited
cash resources at his disposal. Mr. Mills, a political neophyte
in 2014, is now an experienced and spirited campaigner in the
district that was formerly DFL plus-3, but which polls now
indicate is GOP plus-1.

A third potentially competitive race is MN-3 for a seat now
held by popular GOP Congressman Erik Paulsen. The DFL
has nominated a state legislator Terri Bonoff, and GOP
presidential nominee Donald Trump is not popular in this
upscale suburban Minneapolis district. But Paulsen, a
member of the powerful U.S. house ways and means
committee, is well-liked, and Bonoff (who ran
unsuccessfully in another congressional district several
years before) might be an over-rated campaigner. Mr.
Paulsen and the local GOP, moreover, are taking the race
seriously while the state DFL must divide its resources in 
competitive races in two other congressional districts.

A 37 year-old member of the Rome city council has been
elected mayor of the Italian capital. She is the first woman
to head the city which is almost 2800 years old, and the
youngest person to win in modern times. A lawyer, she is a
member of an anti-establishment protest party that was
founded only 7 years ago by a popular Italian comedian.
Most mayors of large cities in Europe and the U.S. are
leftists, and Rome was no exception, but Virginia Raggi
defeated her leftist opponent in a landslide. Her party, the
Five Star Movement (M5S) also has just won 19 out of the
20 municipal elections in which it put up candidates.
Mayor-elect Raggi has promised sweeping reform of the
moribund Roman city government, and Italian observers
now expect M5S to be a significant factor in upcoming
federal Italian elections.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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