22

Good day, Happy Monday. It’s October 15th. We’re halfway through the tenth month of 2018. That’s amazing. We’re also 22 days from the mid-term election of the Donald Trump Presidency. Yes, we’re like halfway through his term. This is about the point where I tell you to stop wishing the Obamas would come back, and start considering who should be next.

And with that, on to today…

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Today’s candidate is a close friend of mine, and a great incumbent Democrat facing a serious challenge in Monroe County, PA, Maureen Madden. Rep. Madden has spent her first term fighting to lower property taxes, protect the rights of workers to organize, and make sure we all have access to affordable health care.

Maureen has an opponent who she defeated in 2016, and lost to in 2014. He’s well funded, and he’s almost certainly getting outside dark money from groups like the NRA that hate Maureen’s advocacy on the behalf of gun violence prevention. This race will be very difficult.

Maureen needs your help. Donate to her here!

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Fantasy football has changed the way I watch pro football. For instance, I couldn’t give a damn less about tonight’s MNF game, but I’m very interested in how the Packers defense plays for me, and how my opponent’s two player play in the game against me. But do I care who wins a Green Bay-San Francisco game?

Not really.

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So now the Saudi Arabian Kingdom is basically admitting they did lure in a dissident reporter, who was living in suburban DC, to their embassy in Turkey, where they killed him, because the “interrogation went wrong.” This seems like a totally sane, normal action for an ally of ours to take, right?

Mohammed Bin Salman, better known as MBS, is going to be the king of Saudi Arabia in short order. I don’t know what that means for the good of the world order, but he may very well be one of the most disruptive leaders in the world. A stupid, reckless stunt like this against his enemies shouldn’t make anyone feel good.

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After the 2016 election, I wrote a lot about the direction Democrats needed to go to get back to winning. Democrats seem to have embraced parts of that, but not others. I said Democrats needed to embrace the “Hillary coalition”- non-white voters and educated white voters in the suburbs- if they wanted to win future elections. I also said they needed to embrace more “meat and potato” style issues- things that effect quality of life. I warned at that time that embracing socialism or pure identity politics could backfire. So now the question is being asked- as early vote begins around the country, did Democrats succeed?

If you read direct mail and watch campaign ads, Democratic candidates on the ballot went to great lengths to keep on message- talking health care, wages, infrastructure, public education, and other things that broadly effect society. That’s what the campaigns said. The party’s activists and potential 2020 candidates were not as on message. But will it matter?

I think Democrats are going to win the House, and a nice load of state legislative seats, largely in suburban, highly educated districts. The question is, did the lack of discipline on message cost us Senate seats? Did some of the increasingly “pure” message hurt us in the Missouris and Tennessees of the world? We’re going to find out in three weeks…

23

Happy Sunday, October 14th, 2018. There are 23 days until the midterm elections. As the time ticks off towards zero, I am reminded that I felt great yet at this point in 2016, so let’s not worry too much about how I *feel.* As for what I see…

Let’s dive into today’s stuff…

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What if I told you a bloodbath might not be coming in the 2018 midterms? I think Democrats are going to win the House, like most people, but we may not get much beyond that. Would you believe me? How big do you think the “Blue Wave” is?

Right now, the Cook Political report says that 16 Republican seats are either likely Democratic or lean Republican. Democrats need just 23 seats to take the House and elect a Speaker. There are 29 Republican seats considered total toss-ups, and 24 that lean Republican, meaning at least 69 Republican seats are in peril right now. If the political winds tip just a bit towards the Democrats, they could have a great, great night and win 250 seats. That’s not necessarily likely though.

What is more likely is a Democratic victory much like 2006- in the 30 seat neighborhood. That would give Democrats a majority, but only with about 225 seats. That’s not a massive majority in the House (like 225-210), and that’s just one chamber. What will happen beyond the House?

The Real Clear Politics projection for the U.S. Senate is R+2 seats. RCP bases it’s projection on an average of the polls. In other words, they have Democrats losing Senate seats. They have Democrats picking up 7 or 8 Governorships, which is valuable, but it’s telling which ones they don’t have Democrats picking up- blue states like Massachusetts and Maryland, or “popular” ones among the Democratic base like Georgia, or worse yet, ones that really should have been ripe for the picking like Nevada. It’s worth noting that the places Democrats lead for pick-ups, like Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and even Michigan, are states where establishment, mainstream candidates won the primaries.

I expect Democrats to pick up several state legislatures and Governor’s mansions on election night, and to win the House. I’m less confident that Democrats will be celebrating massive majorities, and wins by candidates like Beto O’Rourke. When this is done, we will need to take stock of how much money and energy we wasted to appease our “Resistance.”

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I’ve been telling anyone who will listen for a few weeks that the Astros are going to repeat, whether any of us like that or not. Last night they handled the Red Sox, 7-2 at Fenway. Houston is just a next level team, and expecting anyone to stop their repeat seems futile to me.

The other thing that seems futile to me is expecting the National League/JV League champ to compete either. If Oakland or Cleveland, two teams sent home early in the AL, were in the NL, they would have won. The fact is that Houston, Boston, and even the Yankees, would crush the NL Champion. All three won 100 games this season, and sport elite offenses that no NL team can keep up with. The real World Series is Houston and Boston.

That’s even more true when you have Craig Counsell pulling guys throwing a shutout through 5.2 innings and Clayton Kershaw being October Kershaw. I get that the game is changing, but going straight to the bullpen in the third when Gio Gonzalez is pitching just fine will never sit right with me. Perhaps baseball is over-relying on the algorithms.

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How’s ‘Ye doin’? No, really, how is Kanye doing? The man who wrote lyrics like, “Little is known of Sierra-Leone, and how it connects to the diamonds we own,” and accused George W. Bush of not caring about black people is now spending time at the White House, hanging out with Donald Trump. It’s as though the man isn’t ok…

Kanye is one of my favorite rappers ever, present tense. The man is an artistic genius. Songs he made, songs he produced, are parts of my soul at this point, because they weren’t just very good, but they carried personal meaning in their moments in time. That’s why watching this man disintegrate into a steaming pile of trash isn’t as funny to me as it is to many others. Three years ago, Kanye and Kim were taking selfies with Hillary and Kanye was being attacked as a “reverse racist” by conservatives. Now he’s a MAGAt? Huh?!?

Part of this is clearly just about selling records, I guess. Part of it could be Kanye being changed by the fame. It’s also entirely possible, and not at all funny, that maybe this man is mentally ill, a drug addict, or both. I don’t know how to explain it though.

It’s important that we don’t treat Kanye’s outrageous behavior as legitimate though. This isn’t the same as his old buddy Taylor Swift telling people to vote, and to vote for a specific candidate. This was the screeching of a changed man, a not well man, who is completely ostracizing himself from his own fan base, while talking about how time is a construct. He’s not well.

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I’m going to throw today’s candidate to watch in here, instead of last today. Today I want you to help my home candidate for the Pennsylvania State House, Amy Cozze, who is running for the 137th district in the PA House.

Amy is a mother, cancer survivor, small business owner, and activist. She believes Harrisburg doesn’t work right now, like most Pennsylvanians. Funding our schools, fixing our infrastructure, creating good paying jobs, and insuring access to affordable health care are some of her priorities. Her opponent, Rep. Joe Emrick has actively cut education funding, pushed against access to affordable health care, and opposed giving workers a living wage. We need a change.

Donate to Amy here. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Volunteer if you can, here.

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College football is a lot like the NBA, in that you get caught up in the storyline as a fan, even though you know Alabama/Golden State is going to win in the end. Teams fall in and out of contention throughout the season, which makes it fun to watch.

I grew up a Notre Dame fan, adopted Penn State too when I started knowing players and going up there to party, and also now like Temple, since my sister went there. My, what different paths these teams are taking.

My Fighting Irish remained unbeaten and in the top five after surviving Pitt yesterday. The biggest problem Notre Dame has is that they don’t play all ranked teams in prime time. Their worst performances this year have come against teams like Vanderbilt and Pitt- unranked power five teams that are just talented enough to be threatening, but not enough to be impressive. Even so, the Irish are still in position to get to the playoff and *maybe* break the curse of Touchdown Jesus.

Penn State’s season is finished. Losing a two score lead to Ohio State with eight minutes left at home was bad, but letting Michigan State come back and win at the end yesterday is a death blow. There will be no Big Ten title, no playoffs, nothing. They have to get it together now and win some games to get to a New Year’s Day Bowl.

Temple- yes, Temple. They were 0-2 to start, and lost to one-double-a (yes, I call it that) Villanova to open the year. Now they’re 4-3, and back in the AAC picture. Their remaining schedule is brutal- games against ranked teams like UCF and Cincinnati, to name some- but they look alright. They basically need a tough win somewhere to probably be bowl eligible.

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I’m going to close by complaining about one of my new, favorite apps from this campaign, Slack. I probably over lean on Slack to communicate with my team, but I’m not apologizing. I love Slack, except for one thing- you can’t send memes. In 2018, it should be illegal to have an app with no memes.

Someone fix this- pronto.

24

Good day, today is Saturday, October 13th, 2018, just 24 days before the 2018 midterm elections. The picture I put with this post is a mural along Central Avenue in Charlotte, NC, on the side of the Skylark Social Club. More about Elvis in a moment.

My day started bright and early. I really should stop doing this on 5.5 hours and a coffee. Or if I don’t want to sleep, I should have two tequilas instead of one.

But hey, at least I didn’t give up a home run to a relief pitcher last night, so my day is better than Clayton Kershaw’s.

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About a week ago, I was Instagram-chatting with a really old friend of mine about our lives. Now I will tell you, she’s one of the cooler people I know. She went to Lehigh University, and that should tell you she’s smart, but she’s really conversationally smart too, beyond the books. She also might have partied her 20’s away harder than I did, and to more success. She’s a CPA, working and living in Manhattan since she graduated college.

I describe her in such detail, but purposely leaving her looks out of it for a moment. Why? Probably because they shouldn’t really matter in a discussion of her career. She’s smart and does her job. She has been recently job hunting, and she got a really good offer to leave. When she let her boss know (who she doesn’t describe as a very “enlightened” white guy), he counter-offered her a front office job, for less money, because “She’s too pretty to waste her life in accounting.” Say what? Her degree is in accounting. She’s been working in accounting for almost a decade. Why would you ever say this?

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize the difference in what women face professionally, compared to me as a man. I try to shy away from whether or not I label myself as a “feminist” or not for many reasons that I’ll write about in another post (but they basically come down to my issues with being any -ism or -ist, as a person), but I think most men (yes, most) need to open their eyes towards the completely separate set of standards that women live under in the workplace. If you hire someone to do a job, their gender and looks should really not have any role in it. What does it matter if they are pretty or not, if they can do the job? This is just something a woman should never have to deal with.

I said above that she’s smart, and capable. She is. That should be more than enough to make clear in this post.

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If you are into politics and are on Twitter, but don’t follow @Nate_Cohn, you’re missing out. He does much deeper dive, fundamental breakdowns of politics than many of the horse-race political reporters. His stuff is interesting.

He has been tweeting a lot about the New York Times live polls they have been releasing across the country. You can read the thread here. Here’s the striking thing to me- the solid leads Republicans have in red states, and the way they’ve opened up single-digit leads in areas that have been reliably red in the past, but seemed to be on the board. Real Trumpish Republican districts seem to have shifted slightly back there way since the Kavanaugh fight, while Trumpish states seem to have slid considerably backwards for Democrats. I never believed Beto would beat Ted Cruz, but I feel more sure now.

What we see here again is an example of how satisfying the Democratic base can make winning swing districts very difficult. The Democratic base doesn’t live in swing-districts the way the Republican base does. Look at the average margin of victory for the median Democratic member of Congress, as opposed to Republicans- some of that is gerrymandering, some of it is political sorting, or where voting blocks live. The Democratic base was passionate about stopping Kavanaugh, but they live in blue seats- so they’re not necessarily helpful here. I’m a bit surprised how this fight moved statewide races, particularly a small, but significant bump for Kemp in Georgia, and a significant one for Blackburn in Tennessee. Clearly though, the Democrats stand on Kavanaugh at least temporarily helped the GOP in places they hold now (which are where Democrats need to win to flip anything).

This isn’t to say I think the Democrats were wrong to fight on Kavanaugh, and the evidence isn’t yet unanimous (see the Indiana Senate race). I think there’s a time to stand on principle, and be willing to lose a fight- and Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court for life is probably it. I’m just saying we might be feeling it bite back now.

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The South is a complicated place, particularly when it comes to it’s history. One part I don’t find much to feel negative about is it’s musical history. As I said above, I would get back to Elvis, and here is where I do that.

The most unfortunate thing I have found in my time here is how far away Nashville actually is from Charlotte. If I got in the car right now, the 411 mile ride would take me over six hours. For me, that’s just not going to happen during election season.

That’s a shame, because I consider Nashville (along with Charlotte, Atlanta, and New Orleans) to be one of the four “must-see” spots of the South. I’m not a huge country fan, but I really do want to see the studios where Elvis and Johnny Cash made history. I’m a fan of both of them, and I find the industry and historic side of Nashville to be fascinating. While I’m not getting there right now, I need to. Elvis is the one part of Southern heritage I’d like to learn more about.

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Today’s candidate of the day for you all is Fred Hubbell, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Iowa. Over the last several election cycles, Iowa has become a political hellscape, a place where the legislature has become hyper-partisan. The state government is pretty much entirely Republican now, and they’ve decided to run a privatized Medicaid expansion that has basically failed. If I wasn’t working on the things I’m working on, I almost ended up going to Iowa to work, because I’m so alarmed at what’s been done.

Electing Fred Hubbell means funding education. Electing Fred Hubbell means real Medicaid expansion, which helps both real uninsured people, and hospitals that won’t have to worry about payment. Electing Fred Hubbell means a champion for family farms, sustainable agriculture, and a cleaner environment. Iowa needs Fred Hubbell. Follow him on twitter here. Donate to him here. Volunteer for the Iowa Democrats here.

25

Today is October 12th, 2018, 25 days before the midterm election. It’s a beautiful, Southern Fall day- sunny and in the 70’s during the day, down into the 50’s and 60’s at night. Beautiful weather isn’t a rule though. Yesterday Hurricane Matthew rolled through Charlotte yesterday and knocked out power, dropped buckets of rain, and generally left debris everywhere. It was not really scary, but it definitely made me a bit anxious- what if a tree falls on my new car?

Fortunately, the storm came and went, and my car is in one piece. Small victories.

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Data runs the world. “Moneyball” has taken over baseball, despite the fact that Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s have not played a World Series game during his tenure. The value of moving runners and bunting has been replaced by launch angles, exit velocities, and WAR. Advanced metrics, and formerly obscure stats, now tell us who has the most value in baseball.

Politics, and particularly the campaigns, are going the same way. Data is driving everything from GOTV targets to what precincts get walked each day. An algorithm in Brooklyn picked where Hillary Clinton scheduled visits. The Russian troll farms picked targets and bought Facebook ads based on data they got by hacking (and stealing from) the DNC. Big data runs everything now, and to be fair, it does give us a way better view of where to go and what to do in order to get votes. Data definitely belongs at the table.

Political campaigns cannot run on an algorithm though, especially coalition driven, Democratic campaigns. There is a certain level of human driven, political savvy, common sense decision making that needs to be made on a well run campaign. Much as “moneyball” has failed in baseball, algorithm driven politics produced Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump. An algorithm said visit Philadelphia a 23rd time, instead of visiting Bethlehem or Wilkes-Barre a first. An algorithm said that it was more important to do the extra visits in Miami and Chapel Hill, while not going out to Elizabeth City or some of the exurbs of Tampa. Published reports say that Bill Clinton was laughed at and brushed off as old-fashioned inside the campaign for saying the campaign needed to spend some time in Pennsylvania’s smaller cities, or in rural, Eastern North Carolina. I’d say the record says Bill was right.

Inside campaigns, data has dramatically changed how field operations run. Organizers are now there to produce the highest numbers possible, more so than to community organize. Regional field directors are more so managers for the organizers, and less so there to deal with regional political issues. GOTV Directors are largely logistical captains, and less involved as far as putting together or managing the operation. Basically, big data is increasingly driving the bus, and human capital is less crucial.

I’m not sure if that’s got a lot of positive value.

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With the NLCS and ALCS starting, I figured I’d make some predictions.

I’ve got the Astros over the Red Sox in six. Both teams will steam roll the NL Champion, but the Astros are looking to me like a next level, dynasty team.

I’m struggling with the NL. While the Dodgers don’t impress me, my head says they win. My gut says the Brewers feel like the team of destiny to me though. I’ll go Brewers in seven, stocking with instinct.

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My Eagles won big last night, and they needed it. Write this down- they will get it together and win the division in the end. They’re next level.

Saquon Barkley scored my fantasy team over 30 points last night. Saquon didn’t beat my Eagles though. I’m really happy with that outcome. Let’s see that for a while.

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Today’s candidate of the day is my Governor, Tom Wolf. Governor Wolf was elected four years ago, against the worst Governor human-being in the Commonwealth’s history, Tom Corbett. That would be the same former Governor who cut education funding, taxed natural gas producers at a lower rate than Texas or Alaska, and completely botched the Sandusky/Penn State scandal every which way imaginable.

The problem Governor Wolf has faced though is that Corbett’s 2010 legislature has remained in place for the last four years, making life difficult for the Governor. Even so, he’s managed to restore funding to education, better fund our human services, and protect our natural resources. He’s signed legislation to expand expungement for reformed offenders and protected women’s health care services. He’s done this in spite of the Republican legislature. He’s done a good job.

One of the big road blocks in Harrisburg, one of the least productive members of the State Senate, up to his resignation earlier this Summer, was Scott Wagner. That would be Scott Wagner who said today that he will “stomp all over” Governor Wolf’s “face, with golf spikes.” You can’t make this up. Does this guy seem like he has the temperament to lead, to you?

Governor Wolf needs your help. Donate to him here. Volunteer with the PA Dems coordinated campaign here.

The Day After Kavanaugh

The Republican Party is essentially made up of two groups- Evangelicals and traditionalists. The organizing principle that guides them is pretty simple too- the government has forced social change on society that they don’t want. To the Republican Party, they’ve done that through two vehicles- taxation and spending policy, and the courts. This has guided Republican Party policy and politics from Richard Nixon to today, and it is the way to understand the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and even the Trump Presidency.

To the core conservative in America, there is no bad tax cut, nor is there a good spending program that doesn’t benefit *them.* Courts shouldn’t extend new rights to *other* people, or force societal change. Progress should be limited, and it shouldn’t infringe on their lives. You can live here, but on their terms. The traditional societal order should be maintained.

Many of us on the left seem shocked that conservatives have accepted Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. We seemed caught off guard when Mitch McConnell blew up every norm in the Senate to stop Merrick Garland. I even hear the phrase thrown around, “the Republicans will do this to America just for their tax cuts and judges?” Of course they will. That is the point. Stop government activism. Stop the courts from ordering change. Stop the Congress from giving away *their* tax dollars. If that means getting into bed with imperfect people, conservatives can accept that.

That is the backdrop with which one should view American politics moving forward. Brett Kavanaugh will either be confirmed or not, but we will move forward somehow, and *that* is what will motivate Republicans to move heaven and earth to pass tax cuts and confirm judges. If there is some deep, terrible flaw in a candidate for office, but they will do the things this base wants, they’re going to vote for them. It is fair to assume the treatment that Garland received, and the support that Kavanaugh is getting, are the new norm.

Sometime this week, the Kavanaugh situation will be resolved. Don’t think the politics behind it will be too.

So What Were the Phillies?

Just under a month ago, the Phillies were down around two games out of first. Just over a week ago, the Braves lost five in a row, and seemed to let the Phillies back in for one more shot at the NL East. The Phillies lead the NL East for the bulk of the Summer, and were once fifteen games over .500. The Phillies left for their final road trip of the season eight days ago at 78-73. It feels like that was long ago.

The Phillies are 78-81 now, going into the final series of 2018. They were among baseball’s worst teams in the final two months of the season. They just went 0-8 on a road trip. Worse yet, the Phillies looked uncompetitive on the trip, losing the first three games in Colorado while giving up over ten runs a game. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Phillies were throwing the games on this trip.

The Phillies achieved something amazing this year: their first 155 games were all played with a chance to make the post-season, and yet they can’t win more than half of their games. They managed to improve by at least twelve games over last season and yet finish so badly that they left a bad taste in your mouth. They managed to improve by 12 games while being much worse offensively and defensively. They have a line-up where nearly every position hit double digits in homers, yet they fell way off offensively from 2017. The bullpen was very good, even though everyone they tried at closer stunk. The team made no sense.

The Phillies spent almost the entire season contending for the playoffs, and yet they’re going to finish more than any one player’s worth out of the playoffs. After Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, name me another player you want to definitely keep. Tell me you wouldn’t even entertain firing the manager and GM, even though the team is 12 games improved over 2017. Tell me what part of this team couldn’t use improving.

The Phillies have some major advantages going into the off-season- a low payroll, lots of money, excess of starting pitching, and a good minor league system. They’ll need to use those advantages actively this Winter. They have some raw ingredients of a good team, but clearly in hindsight, they weren’t close to good. Maybe the positive season we thought happened, in fact did not.

The Carolina Blues: Reprising 2016 in 2018

November 8th, 2016 might have left many other people triggered, but the shock it left me with was something completely different. I worked for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and Ohio in 2008, and had spent eight years essentially waiting for her political return (in bliss, I’m a fan of President Obama). Election Day of 2016 was going to be my last day as a campaign operative- she was going to be elected, I knew who I wanted to follow into the administration, and I knew I was done with this- until it all just wasn’t. I remember almost every detail about the hotel room in Elizabeth City that I watched Trump’s victory speech in. I remember where we had the cases of beer that we were all going to celebrate with. I remember what spots on the floor which organizers were laying in, either sobbing or in total disbelief, as Trump was declared the winner.

I could sit here and wax poetic about my time in North Carolina in 2016. The Outer Banks are paradise. I could also complain about the difficult politics of the northeastern portion of the state, the crazy things I saw there, or even the problems the Clinton Campaign had. On the whole, I probably had 30 or 35 good days out of the 42 days I worked there. I got to see my cousins, my aunt and uncle, and towns and places I never would have seen. It was overall a great moment in my life. The ending just sticks with me.

It’s always the ending that you remember most in anything. Trump’s victory speech has stuck with me for almost two years. Him walking onto the stage to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” one of my favorite songs of all time, was just a double f**k you, frankly (You know it’s a f**k you to the Stones for this.). Watching that unqualified ignoramus ramble, sounding as shocked as the rest of us, was appalling. I still remember the sobbing sounds in the hotel room, the honest fear I felt, and the moment I just burst out laughing as I watched. It enrages me yet.

Alas, I’m back in the Tar Heel State. In the wreckage of Hillary losing so close, Roy Cooper won for Governor that night, and the Republican lead legislature has been trying to strip him of his power ever since. I’m back in North Carolina, this time leading the charge in Charlotte, trying to help him get a more friendly legislature, and maybe help flip a major Congressional race here too. I’ve set a goal on this trip of getting across the border to South Carolina’s Gaffney while I’m down here too, to see the mythical home of “House of Cards” President Frank Underwood. It’s the little things, right?

One thing I will assure you of is that this is not going to be my last rodeo this time. If I think back on the times I turned down taking a job “inside the government,” or the times I planned to and came up agonizingly close (like 200 votes close, or losing because of the electoral college close), I’d go crazy now. That’s not happening this time. I’m here to do winning. Then I’m ready for one more bigly, huge rodeo in 2020 where we elect a real, truly great President. Once again, my career has purpose.

But for now, I’ll enjoy this great city, some Bojangles, and the opportunity for some sweet affirmation.

The Real Fight Over Kavanaugh

Donald Trump has past baggage with women that is objectionable. Of course, I think if you dig through most straight men’s pasts, you could find something to not like. Donald Trump isn’t like most other guys though- he’s unrepentant to the core. We heard it on the Access Hollywood tapes. We hear it in the language he uses about women, in the present tense. We see it in his NDA’s and payouts to mistresses. Donald Trump was, is, and will be a misogynist old man. He’s 70, he’s not going to change. The man talks (present tense) about wanting to sleep with his daughter. He is who he is, he’s not evolving, he’s just bad.

Of course, what makes this worse is that he was elected President over the first female nominee of a major party in U.S. history, with less votes than her. What compounds that is that he’s putting pro-life judges on the bench at a break-neck pace. It’s pretty hard for some women to take that an avowed misogynist, who won over a qualified woman on a technicality, is putting judges on the bench to restrict their rights. It makes some folks blood boil.

Enter Brett Kavanaugh, maybe the worst nominee to the high court that I’ve seen in my life. With all due respect to Doug Ginsburg, Robert Bork, and Harriet Miers, all of them needed 60 votes, and all of them either showed some intellect, or likability in their confirmation. Kavanaugh is a wet blanket in an air conditioned room, he’s not even a sympathetic figure.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been a display of America’s worst politics. Chairman Chuck Grassley made a mockery of the process from the start, marking tens of thousands of pages of documents “committee confidential,” denying Americans the right to see emails where he said the government had “no compelling interest” in combatting racism, or that Roe v. Wade really isn’t settled law. Couple this with Kavanaugh doing the normal, new age nominee routine of stonewalling the answers on questions about executive power, the environment, labor, guns, Roe v. Wade, and more. He appears to be hiding something from us.

Of course, Kavanaugh is. Like most conservative nominees, he hides his answer on Roe behind calling it “settled law”- while nominees like RBG, Sotomayor, and Kagan clearly stated their support. Kavanaugh’s history of honesty (or lack thereof) makes this answer look good though. During his nomination hearing to the DC Circuit Court, Kavanaugh seems to have perjured himself in saying he did not work on the nomination of Justice Pryor to the DC Circuit while working in the White House, when he in fact did. Is it any wonder Grassley tried to argue that Kavanaugh’s time as White House Staff Secretary wasn’t all that important to this nomination? Is it any wonder that no one believes Kavanaugh saying he didn’t recall discussing the Mueller probe with Trump’s lawyers?

All of this leads to why questions persist over Kavanaugh’s personal finances. From his appointment to the bench, through 2016, Kavanaugh listed $60-200,000 in personal debt on his disclosure forms. Kavanaugh said he ran up this debt on Nationals tickets and home improvements. That’s a lot for baseball tickets. The White House said he floated the money for some friends, but Kavanaugh said he gave “no loans.” In 2017, Kavanaugh suddenly had no debt on his forms. For a man with an expensive country club membership, two kids in an elite private school, and lots of expensive baseball tickets, living on a (albeit good, but not great) government salary, you wonder how? It doesn’t add up. Nor does his explanation of his debt. Could he be a gambling addict? Could he have a wealthy “sugar daddy” helping his finances and pulling his strings? How do we know either way- the man isn’t transparent and honest.

Now that we have established the lies and evasiveness of Brett Kavanaugh, let’s address the elephant in the room here- the accusation that he attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford while he was a 17 year old high school student. We could debate the importance of this matter to the nomination, or that it happened years ago, or that he’s a changed man, or that this is an attempt to destroy his life, if in fact Kavanaugh admitted that some form of the events alleged ever happened. Kavanaugh says categorically that nothing like the accusations ever happened at all, leaving little wiggle room for any forgiveness or discussion of the germane nature of the allegation. Ford isn’t asking for forgiveness, context, or review of his life- he says it didn’t happen. Now if it is in any way, shape, or form shown to be true, it’s all true. If Kavanaugh did a tenth of what she alleges, he’s a liar. He will not only have harmed this woman, he will have denied her the dignity and benefit of the doubt with his lies. The hypocrisy shown by some of his defenders, that he deserves the benefit of the doubt that they would deny to Ford and others will be even more stinging.

I actually believe Kavanaugh deserves a fair and thorough investigation. I believe that with every accusation. If he’s innocent, we should know that. If he’s guilty, we should know exactly what he’s guilty of, and to what degree. Context, intent, and outcomes do matter, whether in a criminal case, or the nomination of a judge. The problem Kavanaugh has is that no one believes that’s happening here. No one believes *his defenders* want an investigation. They want to attack the accuser, shame her story, and approve him. Once again, Grassley’s Committee is hiding the full truth from the public.

So here we have a nominee that is shrouded in secrecy and doubt, put forward for a lifetime appointment by Donald Trump. He could change the rights of women forever, and there are real questions about who he is, now and then. He’s being put forward by someone who makes it clear how he feels about women. This nomination fight isn’t just about Kavanaugh, but really whether we’re going to treat women as equal citizens- in the future.

Decisions…

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Ain’t that the truth. You know, after the 2012 Election, I turned all of my attention towards electing Hillary Clinton as the 45th, and first female President. I worked for a Clinton White House veteran on a 2013 County Executive race, partially because he’s a great person and ally, and also because it enhanced my brand. I went to Iowa in 2014, partially for a great friend and candidate, and also for a good career move. I raised money for Ready for Hillary, and later HFA. I was a 2008 alum of the first Hillary Presidential run. But my call didn’t come. I got a call or two about jobs I was never going to take, but was mostly left disappointed through the primary process.

But my phone did eventually ring, and my services were needed in North Carolina, the new mother of swing states. I went down there and gave it my all to help pull back together the situation on the ground in my region. I worked with great people, I gave it a great effort, and I thought we would win. I was over confident. I contacted a friend that was going to be in the administration about a week before the election, just to let him know I wanted to go in. He told me he’d get me in touch with the transition right after the election, and that everything would be just fine. Of course, as we all know, it wasn’t.

And so my 2017 happened. Two County Executives in my hometown, and two statewide appellate judges elected later, I was on a professional high, putting together a transition team. When the Congressional race came up, I decided to support and work for my good friend, a 27 year elected District Attorney who was the front-runner. It was admittedly a difficult assignment. My candidate was more moderate than the voters. He strongly preferred not running the standard, modern Congressional campaign. He wanted to be a maverick on some hot-button issues. There are plenty of areas on which he and I didn’t agree. It was a tough assignment, but I don’t regret it a bit. I believe in him, and think he would have generally represented the Lehigh Valley as we actually are. I also had decided that going to Capitol Hill was something that interested me at this point in my career. The outside money came in though, and the baggage came out. Friends and enemies alike in the local political scene took their shots at me, as though I could have possibly done much with all the outside money trashing my candidate. When election night came though, the results weren’t good. We lost the Congressional race, and I was swept off the state committee (the two aren’t really related, that race was geography mostly, but it was simultaneous). I guess we’re going to see how this new group of Democratic “leaders” can do leading the party now. Some are good people, some aren’t. I firmly believe some people are going to fall flat on their faces, and I am going to be amused. Some of these folks, new and old, with their pure ideological politics, are not representative or in touch with the regular voters of the Lehigh Valley, and they will eventually either be pushed aside as irrelevant by the elected officials (already happening at this time) or will simply fail to elect people themselves. Either way, they’ll have their clubhouses and meetings, but they’ll make the party further irrelevant here.

I thought about quitting politics for a bit this Summer. I don’t need it. I’ve long had thoughts of other things. Going back for a grad degree, teaching some college courses, becoming a teacher, coaching, writing professionally, maybe even law school. I pretty much did everything I set out to do in politics when I entered it in 2002. I’m not in love with the current Democratic Party, and it would have been a logical time to walk away. I couldn’t do it though. For one thing, I think the republic is in real danger right now, thanks to the current Republican Party and Donald Trump. Equally as important, while I think some loons have gotten loose in the Democratic Party, we’re also running some outstanding candidates for office. I want to be a part of that. I have 16 years of experience, at every level from intern to manager, and I need to do my part. We all do, if we want to preserve our country. There are fundamental changes in the Democratic Party happening, but they’re changes I always supported. I worked for President Obama, Secretary Clinton, the first African-American Congresswoman in New Jersey history, a Bosnian, Muslim war refugee, Latino and African-American Senators, people of the Jewish faith, and all of the rich diversity of the Democratic Party. I needed to be a part of this election. My adult life’s work is at stake.

As I have in recent election cycles, I do some work for a pair of Pennsylvania State Representative incumbents, so if you live in Northeastern PA and want to get involved, let me know. I’m going to be heading to Charlotte also this week, to help flip North Carolina blue. The unfinished business of 2016, the chance to work with a young, hungry, exciting team, and the chance to work on the cutting edge of the future of progressive politics is too much to pass up. I’m excited about all the work I’m doing this Fall, and looking forward to the future.

I’m done making plans. In a business where incompetence isn’t a vice, where self-promoters do well, where unserious carnival barkers excite the mildly informed, and so much that happens is beyond your control, you can’t make plans. All you can do is put in the work where you want to do it. I had three of the best offers I’ve ever had to work this Fall, in three major swing states. The races I’ve chosen to put my time into things that I think are worth my time. I’ll make the same kinds of choices about who to donate to this Fall too.

Decisions, decisions.

What the Primaries Taught Us

Primary season is over. The next big election night will be November 6th, when we have partisan, not primary, elections. When we next are glued to the television on an election night, it will be to figure out if the “Blue Wave” happened.

For full disclosure, I think the Democrats will pick up the House. I still think the most likely outcome in the Senate is a narrow GOP majority, but Kavanaugh might kill that. I think Democrats will see their greatest gains in state elections.

So what did we learn in primary season? What did we gain in knowledge? What truths were told?

  • Trump owns the GOP. Let’s be honest, who did the winning? Ron DeSantis, Henry McMaster, Lou Barletta, and people associated with Donald Trump. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker didn’t bother running, and Mark Sanford won’t have the option of running this Fall, thanks to South Carolina Republicans. Trump has 90% approval among Republicans, and therefore he’s the big dog.
  • White “Bernie Progressives” are dead. Who are the Bernie Sanders’ wing’s big wins of the 2018 primaries? AOC, Jealous, Gillum, and other non-white, non-male progressives. Where they took losses were races where they ran white guys. There’s no market for uber liberal white dudes that spout ideology. They have no party now.
  • Being a “moderate” can only be a matter of rhetoric, not action. Note something from the Democratic Primaries: do not offer any aid or comfort to the other side. Here in the Lehigh Valley, my “Blue Dog” Congressional candidate was pulled down 20% basically for tweeting positive tweets at Donald Trump. The IDC State Senators in New York lost 75% of their members. The Democratic Party is not welcoming back the Blue Dog Caucus to win a majority, unlike 2006. That may blunt their victories, but they do not care. Neither side is looking for compromise.
  • Non-white progressives win urban primaries, every time. There are white guys in Congress that represent urban districts. Some of them are going to be unemployed in January. The rest are on borrowed time. Joe Crowley’s overall progressive record didn’t save him against Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Ayanna Pressley crushed the very liberal Mike Capuano. Non-white, urban voters don’t feel any requirement to vote for white dudes for “electability” anymore, and they honestly don’t need to. What will be more interesting in the years ahead is to see if the younger white crowd continues to vote with the minority population in these primaries. If so, urban politics are transformed forever.
  • Neither party cares to play to the middle. Can we be serious for a moment? The GOP gave up on playing to the middle year’s ago, and consummated that in picking Trump. The Democrats? Hillary essentially gave up on the middle by aiming her campaign towards the large cities and ignoring the Rust Belt. The 2018 primaries don’t mark a change from that. Sharice Davids, a historic candidate by any measure and a progressive, is “moderate” on the 2018 Democratic ticket. Abortion rights and supporting the LGBTQ community are not “liberal” positions in 2018. Some of this is good, we should progress on these issues. The flip side of course is the vast swath of non-ideological, potentially swing voters who are either being forced into a political party they’re not comfortable in, or left to dangle in the 2020 winds. Democrats should have had these people in 2016, but weren’t able to because they didn’t contest them. What happens next to them?
  • Cash rules everything around me. The 2018 Democratic Primaries saw massive infusions of outside money, from groups like Emily‚Äôs List, No Labels, and Our Revolution. The outside spending often exceeded the campaign’s spending. The simple truth moving forward is that if you’re not somebody’s candidate, you’re not winning. Buying TV time, paying for a ground game, mail, and even digital ads cost money. You have to have some money behind you to win.
  • Identity politics are the only politics in 2018. Lets be clear, the two parties have gone tribal. Republicans increasingly prefer white men as candidates. Democrats increasingly prefer the opposite. If you’re going to break that mold, you both must be a prolific fundraiser and have something compelling to say. The two parties don’t want the same things anymore, and have diverging views of America. Views on diversity and multiculturalism have moved so far apart that there’s a mistrust of candidates that don’t fit the mold.

On a personal level, I’m feeling like a unicorn right now. I’m a white, straight, Catholic, suburban raised, moderate to liberal Democrat. These primaries were not about people like me.