Election rules designed to benefit conservatives have played an unheralded role in pushing the party rightward, while also costing them at the ballot box. The most notable: The party’s practice, in several states, of holding conventions instead of primaries to choose nominees. Those conventions typically draw an unrepresentative cross-section of single-issue activists.
— In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli‘s allies bypassed the primary process to blunt intraparty opposition, a move that’s contributed to his problems unifying the party. Ironically, the outspoken conservative is belatedly trying to rally the base, something that would have been much easier had he engaged the broader GOP electorate in a primary campaign. The convention also nominated scandal-plagued pastor E.W. Jackson as their LG nominee, thanks to his red-meat convention speech. Assuming he loses, the party lost out on grooming a future GOP gubernatorial candidate for 2017.
— Republicans are facing their next looming crisis in Iowa, for the state’s very-winnable open seat Senate race. A crowded cast of candidates is vying for the GOP nomination, but party rules guarantee a convention if no one hits 35% of the vote. That possibility is growing, with party leaders doing nothing to avert the outcome. A convention would start the process over, raising the likelihood of a weak candidate emerging.
— Republicans won’t have trouble holding a Senate seat in Utah, but Sen. Mike Lee‘s political challenges back home also showcase the party’s concerns over conventions. He benefited from the state’s unique system, where Republicans hold a convention to winnow down candidates before a potential primary. Utah Republican leaders (led by former Gov. Leavitt) are already rallying to shift to an open primary nominating process.
The convention problem only impacts Republicans in a few states, but it’s endemic of the party’s problems nominating electable candidates. And the consequences of election rules benefiting grassroots activists will play a much greater role in the run-up to 2016.
What We're Following See More »
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.
UPDATED: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will not be playing the role of Ralph Nader in this year’s election. Speaking in Dallas today, Webb said, “We looked at the possibility of an independent candidacy. Theoretically, it could be done, but it is enormously costly and time sensitive, and I don’t see the fundraising trajectory where we could make a realistic run.”