Thursday, May 31, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Political News Catch-Up

After months of controversy, sensational headlines and a
criminal investigation, Missouri Republican Governor Eric
Greitens has announced his resignation. Although a court
case was dismissed by the trial judge, and the governor
claimed vindication, he still faced possible impeachment in
the state legislature. Major GOP leaders had called for him
to resign. His political problems were considered a serious
handicap to Republican chances to unseat a vulnerable
incumbent Democratic senator in 2018.

The victory of anti-establishment and anti-European Union
(EU) parties in Italy has created a major crisis in this major
EU partner nation. The Italian president, a member of his
country’s political establishment, is refusing to name
someone from one of the winning parties as the new
prime minster in spite of the fact that they now control
a majority of seats in the new Italian parliament. This has
set off a new crisis in the EU currency, the euro, as well as an
obvious constitutional crisis in a country already beset with
economic and banking woes. A coalition between the two
largest parties has been suspended, but new efforts to
revive it are underway.
[UPDATE: The Italian president has invited  a university
professor, Giuseppe Conte, the choice of the coalition parties, 
to be the new prime minister. He was sworn in on Friday, but 
faces a confidence vote in the parliament next week.]

Another major EU partner, Spain, is facing a new crisis as a
hardline Catalan separatist has been elected the new
president of the autonomous state in Barcelona while a vote
of confidence has been called for Spanish prime minister
Mariano Rajoy’s center-right government, now under fire in
Madrid. If he loses this vote, socialist leader Pedro Sanchez
would likely replace Rajoy, and call for new elections in
[UPDATE: Mr. Rajoy lost his confidence vote in parliament,
and has been ousted after 7 years in office. Socialist Party
leader Pedro Sanchez automatically became the new prime
minister, but his party holds only about 25% of the seats in 
the Cortes (parliament), and he almost certainly will have t
o call new elections soon.]

A nationwide truckers strike has virtually paralyzed Brazil.
President Michel Terner is attempting to halt this threat to
South America’s biggest economy, but so far faces an impasse.
Protesters seek to oust Terner in this latest Brazilian crisis.

Recently, the number of U.S. house seats considered competitive
in 2018 has been expanded on several political obsrverss by
about 15-20 district races. All of the new vulnerable seats are
now held by Republicans. In previous lists, the overwhelming
majority of incumbent seats considered vulnerable were also
Republican. The Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to regain
control. The reclassification of the additional Republican
incumbents in danger of losing presumably is based on recent
polling.  At the same time, these same observers, and virtually
all others, are reporting that the generic U.S. house poll has
fallen in less than two months from 13 points favoring the
Democrats to 1-4 points. Historically, a party had to have a lead
of 5 points or more to make even significant gains in a mid-term
election. How such a dramatic increase in GOP vulnerabilty can
occur while the generic Democratic advantage has fallen
dramatically at the same time is a curious contradiction in
political analysis.

New Jersey is  one of the most Democratic (blue) states in the
country, and normally the re-election of its Democratic incumbent
senator is no contest. Senator Bob Menendez faced a criminal
trial, but when the jury could not make a verdict, prosecutors
decided not to retry the case. His 2018 re-election was initially
considered a safe Democratic seat, but a respected state poll
shows his lead against a mostly unknown GOP opponent has
dropped from double digits to only 4 points. Menendez’s’
favorable numbers are also very low. His Republican
opponent, a former U.S. marine, and currently a CEO of a
major international company, can presumable partly self-fund.
This race now has to be added to 2018 senate seats in play.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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