Thursday, July 15, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: 2022 Senate Races Taking Shape

With filing dates still months away, and the 2022 national
mid-term elections more than a year distant, next cycle’s
U.S. senate battleground races are not yet fully formed, but
fundraising and political necessity are bringing many of
them into some shape earlier than usual.

Although 34 senate seats are up in 2022 --- 14 Democrats and
20 Republicans --- only 8-12 seats are now considered likely
battleground or competitive contests..

Most vulnerable are four Democratic incumbent seats
(Nevada, Georgia, New Hampshire and Arizona) and four
Republican incumbent seats (Wisconsin, Florida, North
Carolina and Pennsylvania). Colorado, Vermont, Missouri,
Ohio and Alaska additionally could become close contests,
depending on future decisions by incumbents and
potential challengers.

Unexpected vacancies, local and national issues, and a blue
or red election “wave” could also change currently-rated
“safe” races into battlegrounds.

Two of the four most vulnerable GOP seats are the result of
already announced retirements --- North Carolina Senator
Richard Burr and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.

Three major GOP candidates, including former Governor
Pat McCrory, and four major Democratic candidates,
including former state supreme court  chief justice Cheri
Beasley, are in the race so far in North Carolina. Slight
lean Republican.

In Pennsylvania, the Democratic early field has five major
candidates, including Lt. Governor Fetterman, the early GOP
field has two major candidates announced, businessman
Jeff Bartos and military veteran Sean Parnell, but more are
expected. Toss-up.

If Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson decides to run again, he
will be he slight favorite, but it would likely be close.  If he
does not run, the Democrat would be favored in this “purple”
state.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio faces a formidable
challenge from Democratic Rep, Val Demings, but the state
narrowly leans Republican.

Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto won in
2016 with 47% of the vote, and if Adam Laxalt, son of a former
New Mexico senator and grandson of a popular former
Nevada senator runs, she might not be the favorite in the race.

New Hampshire Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan also
faces a possible challenge from a Republican with a legendary
political family name --- in this case, popular GOP Governor
Chris Sununu., son of a former senator. If Sununu gets in
the race, he would be the favorite to win.

Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock narrowly
won a post-election run-off victory over a GOP incumbent.
Many blame then-outgoing President Trump for the loss.
Warnock must run again in 2022, and might have to face
Georgia football legend Herschel Walker as his GOP
opponent. Such a race would be a toss-up.

With former President Trump standing in the way of GOP
Governor Patrick Ducey running for the seat now held  by
Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. the former
astronaut remains the favorite to win re-election in the
purple southwestern state where the GOP is divided.

Races for the GOP senate nomination in Ohio, Missouri,
Colorado and Alaska could also change the battleground
map, as would the retirement of Vermont Senator Leahy.

The U.S. senate is now tied 50-50 --- but Democrats control
because of the vice president’s tie-breaking vote. A net gain
of one seat would return control to the Republicans --- so
there is extra attention this cycle to the relatively few seats
where the outcome is perceived to be in doubt.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: What If Biden Doesn't Run In 2024?

Most speculation about 2024 so far has been about whether
Donald Trump will run or which Republicans would run if he
doesn’t. Normally, it is a given assumption that a first-term
incumbent, in this case Democrat Joe Biden, would be his
party’s nominee again.

But what if Biden, who would be 82 in 2024, decides not to run?

The answer to that question depends on the political and
economic conditions of late 2023 and early 2024 --- something
we can only guess at now.

If the economy is strong, and Biden is popular, his retirement
would be genuinely voluntary, and assuming Vice President
Kamala Harris is well-regarded, she would be heavily favored
to be the Democratic nominee --- and win the election, She
might be challenged, but especially if she had Biden’s support.
she would be unbeatable. That is the Democrat’s best-case
scenario.

If relations between Biden and Harris are not good, or Harris
fails to shine in her role as  vice president, there would be a
major battle for the nomination reminiscent of 2020 when more
than 20 credible candidates ran in the primaries. Bernie Sanders
and Elizabeth Warren would not run, but their younger lefitist
surrogates would. More moderate figures such as Pete Buttigieg
(now Secretary of Transportation), Senator Amy Klobuchar,
Governor Steve Bullock, and businessman Andrew Yang are
likely to give it another try.

Other possible contestants might be Senators Cory Booker,
Bill Casey or Sherrod Brown. Former First Lady Michelle
Obama might run.

The 2022 national mid-term elections could bring new faces to
the Democratic field of candidates. In any event, the 2022
elections will be a test of voter attitudes about current
Democratic policies and those who voice them.

Should  Biden retire in 2024, and Harris does not immediately
become the party’s consensus nominee, there will almost
certainly be a large number of announced presidential
candidates, including a number of aspirants who have no
chance to win. That is because if one can raise a relatively
minimal amount of money (no problem for most elected
officials or self-funding businesspersons), a presidential
campaign prior to the primaries is a bonanza for publicity,
self-promotion and trial runs.

Since age would be stated as or perceived as the reason for a
2024 Biden retirement, youth and vigor would be advantages
for his successor should he not run.

Not surprisingly, they could also be advantages for
whomever the Republicans nominate.

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

Saturday, July 3, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: New York City Debacle

Many persons I know who support ranked choice voting (RCV)
are thoughtful, well-meaning and sincere, and want to improve
the voting system. Most RCV supporters, with some exceptions,
are Democrats or independents.

I have been an agnostic about RCV because although it has
strengths, it also has weaknesses, including delays in reporting
results and a very complicated ballot process.

A few days ago, voters in New York City went to the polls to
choose a new mayor (the incumbent is term-limited) using
RCV for the first time, and the results so far have been chaotic.
First results were almost immediately withdrawn when it was
realized that test votes had been mistakenly counted with actual
votes. A total counting initial second-choices of candidates who
have already conceded or been dropped has now been published,
but since no candidate has exceeded 50%, more will have to be
dropped and their second or third choices counted.

This delay has been exacerbated by an extended deadline for
absentee ballots which reportedly number 125,000, and which
have not yet been counted. It might be some time before final
results are known. Already, at least one major candidate has
gone to court challenging the results, and there are many calls
to abandon the system in future New York City elections.

At a time when many voters of all parties are questioning the
integrity of voting systems and procedures, the New York
debacle could not have occurred at a worse time.

Years ago, some states modified their nomination process
with a precinct caucus system, but it proved to be elitist and
undemocratic, and has been largely abandoned.

The jury is still out on RCV, but the kind of problems which
have arisen in New York City will have to be solved, especially
those which result in delays of vote reporting, if it is to
survive as a credible electoral option.

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Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.