Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | Podcasts | Videos | History | Culture | Science | Translate

 Previous Home Up Next


Vocapedia > USA > Politics > Midterm Elections / Midterms


House of Representatives,  Senate


State and Local Positions


Governorships, State legislatures, Judges, City mayors...





NYT web frontpage

November 17, 2022



















NYT web frontpage

November 13, 2022


















NYT mao

November 13, 2022

















What ‘We the People’ Want

NYT    13 October 2014





What ‘We the People’ Want

Video        The New York Times        13 October 2014


With less than a month until the midterm elections,

polls show that Americans are deeply dissatisfied

with their elected officials.


The Times drove from Washington to St. Louis to ask why.


Produced by: A.J. Chavar

Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1ti91pw

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video




















Rob Rogers

political cartoon

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



9 November 2010


L: U.S. president Barack Obama

















Rob Rogers

political cartoon

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania


21 October 2010


















Rob Rogers

political cartoon

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania


9 September 2010


L: U.S. President Barack Obama



midterm election season        2010





















Voters cast ballots in New York City,

where crime rates have become a prominent topic

in the race for governor.


Photograph: Timothy Mulcare

for The New York Times


Stoked by Republicans, Fears of Crime Loom Large for Midterm Voters

Republican candidates are focusing on crime and public safety,

but their message is rooted not so much in data or policy

as in voters’ feelings of unease.


Nov. 3, 2022    12:53 p.m. ET



























ballot measure










voters cast ballots









cast one's ballot









electronic voting machines
























disenchanted voters










swing voters










undecided voter        2014










sway undecided voters










early voting










mail voting




















voting equipment issues










go to the polls






















ballots > be tabulated










process and count ballots






















enshrine right to abortion and contraception

in state constitution










ballot measure

to provide free meals

for all public school students




























results > 2022 > House of Representatives > map










results > 2022 > Senate > map











too close to call



















in the midterm election










election officials



























































































USA > midterm elections    2022        UK / USA























podcast - Guardian podcast


podcast - Guardian podcast










Churches Are Breaking the Law

by Endorsing in Elections


federal law barring churches and nonprofits

from directly or indirectly participating

in political campaigns


Although the provision

was mostly uncontroversial for decades

after it passed in 1954,

it has become a target

for both evangelical churches

and former President Donald Trump,

who vowed to eliminate it.


irs-church-nonprofit-endorsements-johnson-amendment - October 30, 2022
















Barack Obama

Fired Up in Wisconsin

29 September 2010





Fired Up in Wisconsin        Video        29 September 2010


With five weeks left before the November elections,

President Obama speaks to a crowd of more than 26,000 supporters

in Madison, Wisconsin.



YouTube > BarackObama.com










































midterm elections        2018





















midterm elections        2014
















































USA > midterm election season        2010        UK / USA






















































Midterms Q&A:

what's at stake and who might win        UK        2010


A guide to the most crucial midterms since at least 1994


all 435 seats in the House of Representatives

will be up for grabs,

along with 37 seats in the Senate,

37 governorships,

and the usual multitude of state and local positions,

including everything from state legislatures

to judges to city mayors.










seat > U.S. Senate > Election 2010 > 19 seats in play






Illinois House seat






Red > Republicans  / Blue > Democrats








midterm election season > elections map > House > 111 seats In play        2010






midterm election season > pictures > House        2010






midterm election season > elections map > Senate        2010






midterm election season > pictures > Senate        2010






primary season of the midterm election campaign        2010


















campaign manifesto



















Ed Stein

political cartoon

Denver, Colorado


20 October 2010
















campaign finance / cash




















a bitterly divided Supreme Court rules

in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

that the government may not ban

political spending by corporations

in candidate elections        January 2010






A Banner Year for Political Spending        2010


With $188 million spent by and for Democrats

and $178 million by and for Republicans,

this election cycle will be one

of the most expensive

in Congressional history.














dark money


















Tim Eagan

political cartoon

Deep Cover


8 November 2010


















Rob Rogers

political cartoon

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania


5 November 2010















special interests










special-interest money




















































Senate primary        2010






Kentucky's Republican Primary        2010






Arkansas's Democratic Primary        2010






Pennsylvania's Democratic Primary 2010






USA > Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity    October 2010        UK






USA > midterm elections        2006        UK






runoff election / runoff










recall election





judicial elections        2010






political races






Colorado Senate race






close races






neck-and-neck race






Arizona race






a three-term Republican






- a sitting congressman seeking reelection







incumbent victory



























television commercial / advertisement / advert / ad














ad wars






negative advertisements






negative campaign ads





attack ads





try to discredit






advertising themes and images












Americans for Prosperity    AFP        2010


advocacy group

financed in large part by David Koch,

who invests millions of dollars

on behalf of conservative causes.



















polls ≠ poll






polls > pollsters






have an 11-point edge,

44 percent to 33 percent


















Andy Singer

political cartoon



10 November 2010

Orwell Party = Tea Party















congressional elections





control of Congress





the U.S. Congress





reapportionment of Congress






have a relatively small caucus

in the House and the Senate











lame duck Congress






be elected governor






Maura Healey

- first woman governor in Massachusetts














win reelection as N's governor






win the House






retake control of the House






win Senate seat






 win the North Carolina Senate race






be reelected to the U.S. Senate






keep Senate control





































defeat N by 19 percentage points






USA > lose        UK






election rout






deal a sharp rebuke to N






political gridlock



























Pennsylvania > win the commonwealth's governorship










governors' race / gubernatorial races
















(be) elected governor










Black governor


















the first out trans man

elected to a U.S. state legislature

















Cartoons > Cagle > Big Winner Boehner        November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Post election        November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Obama loses        November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Republican takeover        November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Vote!        November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Democrat doubt       November 2010





Cartoons > Cagle > Crazy campain ads        October 2010











Corpus of news articles


Politics > Midterm Elections / Midterms


House of Representatives, Senate, governorships


State and Local Positions >


State legislatures, Judges, City mayors...




The Worst Voter Turnout

in 72 Years


NOV. 11, 2014

The New York Times

The Opinion Pages | Editorial



The abysmally low turnout in last week’s midterm elections — the lowest in more than seven decades — was bad for Democrats, but it was even worse for democracy. In 43 states, less than half the eligible population bothered to vote, and no state broke 60 percent.

In the three largest states — California, Texas and New York — less than a third of the eligible population voted. New York’s turnout was a shameful 28.8 percent, the fourth-lowest in the country, despite three statewide races (including the governor) and 27 House races.

Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are apathy, anger and frustration at the relentlessly negative tone of the campaigns.

Republicans ran a single-theme campaign of pure opposition to President Obama, and Democrats were too afraid of the backlash to put forward plans to revive the economy or to point out significant achievements of the last six years. Neither party gave voters an affirmative reason to show up at the polls.

The states with the biggest turnouts tended to have well-publicized and competitive races, but even competition was no guarantee that voters would show up. Georgia and North Carolina, which had two highly contested Senate races, did only slightly better than the national average for turnout. Some of that is because of regional differences; northern states generally have higher turnout than southern states, as they did this year, because voting tends to correlate with education and income levels.

In northern states, there was a lack of interest, too. The overall vote total dropped by 42 percent compared with 2012, and the decline was particularly acute among younger voters, who made up 13 percent of this year’s electorate compared with 19 percent two years ago. The turnout among young and minority voters was slightly higher than it was in the 2010 midterms, perhaps reflecting new organizing efforts, but the number remained far too low. (Republicans have continued their effort to suppress the turnout of young, poor and minority voters, although it was hard to make a definitive link between those laws and Democratic losses this year.)

There was one useful lesson: When voting is made easier, more people vote. Colorado switched to a mail ballot system this year, and it had the fourth-highest turnout in the nation, substantially larger than in 2010. (It had a highly competitive Senate race, but did much better than many states with equally hot races.) Oregon, which also votes by mail, had the fifth-highest turnout, and Washington State, with a similar system, did better than the national average, though it had no major statewide races.

Early voting — which tends to be more popular among Democratic voters than mail balloting — also did well this year, despite Republican efforts to curb it. In North Carolina, early voting increased by 35 percent from 2010, even though Republican legislators cut the number of early-voting days to 10 from 17.

Showing up at the polls is the best way to counter the oversized influence of wealthy special interests, who dominate politics as never before. But to encourage participation, politicians need to stop suppressing the vote, make the process of voting as easy as possible, and run campaigns that stand for something.

A version of this editorial appears in print

on November 12, 2014, on page A26

of the New York edition with the headline:

The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years.

The Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years,






Cancel the Midterms


NOV. 2, 2014

The New York Times

 The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributors



DURHAM, N.C. — By Tuesday night about 90 million Americans will have cast ballots in an election that’s almost certain to create greater partisan divisions, increase gridlock and render governance of our complex nation even more difficult. Ninety million sounds like a lot, but that means that less than 40 percent of the electorate will bother to vote, even though candidates, advocacy groups and shadowy “super PACs” will have spent more than $1 billion to air more than two million ads to influence the election.

There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.

There are few offices, at any level of government, with two-year terms. Here in Durham, we elect members of the school board and the county sheriff to terms that are double that length. Moreover, Twitter, ubiquitous video cameras, 24-hour cable news and a host of other technologies provide a level of hyper-accountability the framers could not possibly have imagined. In the modern age, we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.

But the two-year cycle isn’t just unnecessary; it’s harmful to American politics.

The main impact of the midterm election in the modern era has been to weaken the president, the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation. Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has on average lost 25 seats in the House and about 4 in the Senate as a result of the midterms. This is a bipartisan phenomenon — Democratic presidents have lost an average of 31 House seats and between 4 to 5 Senate seats in midterms; Republican presidents have lost 20 and 3 seats, respectively.

The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.

These effects are compounded by our grotesque campaign finance system. House members in competitive races have raised, on average, $2.6 million for the 2014 midterm. That amounts to $3,600 raised a day — seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Surveys show that members spend up to 70 percent of their time fund-raising during an election year. Two years later, they’ll have to do it all again.

Much of this money is sought from either highly partisan wealthy individuals or entities with vested interests before Congress. Eliminating midterms would double the amount of time House members could focus on governing and make them less dependent on their donor base.

Another quirk is that, during midterm elections, the electorate has been whiter, wealthier, older and more educated than during presidential elections. Biennial elections require our representatives to take this into account, appealing to one set of voters for two years, then a very different electorate two years later.

There’s an obvious, simple fix, though. The government should, through a constitutional amendment, extend the term of House members to four years and adjust the term of senators to either four or eight years, so that all elected federal officials would be chosen during presidential election years. Doing so would relieve some (though, of course, not all) of the systemic gridlock afflicting the federal government and provide members of Congress with the ability to focus more time and energy on governance instead of electioneering.

This adjustment would also give Congress the breathing space to consider longer-term challenges facing the nation — such as entitlement spending, immigration and climate change — that are either too complex or politically toxic to tackle within a two-year election cycle.

To offset the impact of longer congressional terms, this reform might be coupled with term limits that would cap an individual’s total congressional service at, say, 24 years, about the average for a member of Congress today. This would provide members enough time to build experience in the job, but also limit the effects of incumbency and ensure the circulation of new blood in the system.

The framers included an amendment process in the Constitution so our nation could adjust the system to meet the demands of a changing world. Surely they would not be pleased with the dysfunction, partisan acrimony and public dissatisfaction that plague modern politics. Eliminating the midterm elections would be one small step to fixing our broken system.

David Schanzer is a professor of public policy and Jay Sullivan is a junior at Duke.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 3, 2014, on page A31 of the New York edition with the headline: Cancel the Midterms.

    Cancel the Midterms, NYT, 2.11.2014,






A Bigger Midterm Election Turnout


SEPT. 14, 2014

The New York Times


The Opinion Pages | Editorial


Staying home on Election Day carries a heavy cost.

In Ferguson, Mo., where only 12 percent of voters showed up in the last city election, the cost of nonparticipation was a City Council wholly unrepresentative of the town’s population. On the national level, Democrats and independents — most of whom did not vote in the 2010 midterm Congressional elections — were swamped by Republicans who voted in much larger proportions. The result was a Republican House dominated by the hard right, which over four years became the largest impediment to economic growth and equality. The same thing has happened in many statewide elections.

It’s now seven weeks from the midterms. Will voters realize that decisions made on Nov. 4 will reverberate in laws not passed, roads not built and jobs not created?

The biggest prize at stake in November is the Senate, where Democrats are in serious danger of losing control to a Republican Party determined to roll back much of the social progress of the last six years, and to block as many of President Obama’s judicial appointments as possible. There is little chance that Democrats will win back the House this year, in part because of Republican redistricting, but many statehouses and governorships that control districting and voting regulations are also in the balance.

All of that makes it imperative that the demographic groups that turned out in relatively large numbers during the last two presidential elections show up at the polls this year. According to Catalist, a data analysis company, the groups with the biggest declines in turnout between 2008 and 2010 were voters younger than 30, down nearly 35 percentage points; black and Hispanic voters, down 27 points each; and single women, down 26 points. Those groups have historically been the most resistant to the right’s message of lower taxes, sharply reduced spending on social programs and job creation, and tighter restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.

No one expects a midterm turnout to approach that of a presidential year, which generates more excitement and interest. For decades, turnout rates in midterms have been 10 or more percentage points below those of presidential elections. Democrats say their focus group interviews show that two-thirds of those not planning to vote this year don’t even know that an election is being held. And voters historically turn against the party of the president elected two years before.

But there are ways to increase voter participation this year, and some are being tested on a broad scale:

BETTER USE OF DATA Both parties are using sophisticated techniques to identify new voters or those who participated in 2008 and 2012 but are unlikely to vote this year. They are focusing not only on ethnic and socioeconomic groups but also on smaller subgroups like new students at politically active colleges or people from blue-collar neighborhoods who have lost their homes.

MORE PAID WORKERS AND VOLUNTEERS Research has found that broadcast ads and robocalls are far less effective at motivating people to vote than the personal touch: face-to-face, door-to-door reminders that there is an election coming up, in a direct conversation that discusses the high stakes. The Democrats’ turnout effort, known as the Bannock Street Project, is spending $60 million on both technology and carefully trained workers to mobilize individual voters. One technique — based on findings that social pressure is one of the best motivators — asks voters to fill out a reminder card about the election, which the party or a campaign mails back to them shortly before the vote.

Single women (who have a poor midterm track record) are a particular target, and Democratic groups are making a special effort to remind them about Republican opposition to pay equity, abortion rights, education spending and a higher minimum wage.

BIG REGISTRATION DRIVES Georgia, where a highly competitive Senate race is taking place, has about 900,000 black, Hispanic and Asian residents who are eligible to vote but are unregistered. Getting even a fifth of them to the polls could make a major difference. (Mr. Obama lost the state by 205,000 votes in 2008.) The New Georgia Project, an effort to register hundreds of thousands of minorities, young people and single women, has already put 85,000 new names on the registration lists. This has infuriated Republicans, including the highly partisan secretary of state, Brian Kemp, who has accused the group of fraud and begun a trumped-up investigation.

REDUCING VOTING BARRIERS In state after state with competitive races, Republicans have scrambled to reduce turnout with voter ID requirements, cutbacks on early voting, insufficient polling places in dense urban areas and restrictions on registration. Many legal advocates, often joined by the Justice Department, have fought these measures in court and should continue to do so on every front. Voters who don’t participate in state legislative elections need constant reminders that cynical politicians want them to stay home.

Over time, the best way to build a stronger democracy is to make voting a habit instead of a difficult chore. This year could be the one when that habit begins.

A version of this editorial appears in print on September 15, 2014, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: A Bigger Midterm Election Turnout.

    A Bigger Midterm Election Turnout, NYT, 14.9.2014,






In Governor’s Races,

Republicans Make Gains


November 3, 2010
The New York Times


On an Election Day with one of the largest number of governors races in memory, Republicans gained governorships across the country, including those in the political battlegrounds of the industrial Midwest where Democrats have dominated in recent years.

In Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Republicans seized seats that had been held by Democrats. They also took seats now held by Democrats in other parts of the country, including Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming.

In Wisconsin, a beaming Scott Walker, a Republican, took to a stage and praised all the voters who, he said, had emerged from the woodwork to “take our state back.”

As in so many states, much of the campaign there had focused around job losses, financial woes and state budget troubles, and Mr. Walker, like several of his Republican colleagues, had pledged to cut government waste, reshape government and upend a system that he said had failed. Minutes after his victory became clear, Mr. Walker issued a release that declared: “Wisconsin is open for business!”

But around the nation, the outcomes are expected to have effects that reach beyond local economic policies or legislation drawn up in statehouses.

States are preparing to carry out their once-a-decade redrawing of political districts — for the House and state legislatures — based on United States census counts collected this year, and many of these new governors will have important roles in deciding what those maps look like.

Going into Election Day, Democrats held 26 governorships, while Republicans had 24. Following most midterm elections after the arrival of a new president, the party in power in the White House typically loses some governorships, but the changes on Tuesday appeared to go deeper.

With votes in many states still being counted on Tuesday night, Republicans were already holding on to many of the seats they currently hold — in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah — as well anticipating significant gains.

“People are not happy with the direction of this country,” said Terry Branstad, a Republican and former governor who defeated Gov. Chet Culver of Iowa, another state where the economy seemed to overwhelm most other issues. “The status quo is not acceptable.”

Democrats were hoping that voters might turnout in high numbers and that efforts in the final weeks by President Obama and other Democratic leaders might lessen the damage.

There were certainly some indications of relief for Democrats, in states that included Arkansas, Colorado and California, where Jerry Brown, who has already been Governor, will return to the job having beaten Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay who invested millions in the race.

In New York, too, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo easily defeated the Republican, Carl P. Paladino, even though Republicans were expected to pick up seats in the state legislature and the Congressional delegation. In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, beat Charles Baker Jr., a Republican and a former chief executive of one of the state’s largest health insurers. And in Maryland, Martin O’Malley, the Democratic governor, fought off a challenge from Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican who had once been governor. But the Republicans’ gains in the Midwest were daunting for Democrats, in part because of the size and scope of the shift.

In Wisconsin, Mr. Walker, the county executive of Milwaukee who has promised to shrink government, beat Tom Barrett, the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee. Mr. Walker equated electing Mr. Barrett with giving one more term to James E. Doyle, the current governor whose popularity ratings had become anemic.

In Michigan, where Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, was barred from seeking re-election by term limits, Rick Snyder, a Republican who stunned the party establishment by beating better-known, more established candidates in a primary, defeated Virg Bernero, the Democratic mayor of Lansing. The issue in the state, which had suffered devastating economic losses even before the recession, was the same as everywhere: jobs and money.

Among the group of new Republican political leaders emerging on Tuesday: Nikki Haley, the nation’s first Indian-American female governor, a victor in South Carolina; Susana Martinez, a Republican district attorney who promised to end a pattern of corruption and to block illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses in New Mexico; and Mr. Snyder, the former head of Gateway Inc., who was elected governor of Michigan with a catch phrase, “one tough nerd.”

Of the 37 states voting for governor, 24 races were open seats from both parties, thanks to terms limits and to a climate that seemed to discourage some incumbents from seeking re-election.

From Maine to Hawaii, the governors’ races had been hard fought, with clear indications, leaders from both parties said, of the same broad national climate that was testing the survival of Democrats — and incumbents — for the House and Senate.

In another indication of how voters seemed in search of something, anything, entirely different from the status quo, third-party candidates had a particularly pronounced effect on governors races in at least five states. And in Rhode Island, Lincoln D. Chafee, a former Republican senator who ran for governor as an independent, won on Tuesday.

While much of the attention this season has focused on who will control Washington, the outcomes in these governors’ races were drawing particular notice because of redistricting.

The shapes of the political maps can carry lasting effects for partisan victories and losses in all sorts of offices. Governors in at least 36 states get a say in shaping Congressional maps, and governors in 39 states have a place in redrawing state legislative districts.

“This is the most important governors’ election in 20 years,” said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, which devoted $50 million to races this year, three times the amount the group spent four years ago, in the last comparable election. The Republican Governors Association spent $102 million on this year’s races.


Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting

from Middleton, Wis., A. G. Sulzberger from Des Moines

and Emma Graves Fitzsimmons from Chicago.

    In Governor’s Races, Republicans Make Gains, NYT, 3.11.2010,






In Iowa, Voters Oust Judges

Over Marriage Issue


November 3, 2010
The New York Times


DES MOINES — In a rebuke of the state supreme court with implications for judicial elections across the country, voters here removed three justices who participated in a ruling last year that made the state the first in the Midwest to permit same-sex marriage.

The close vote concluded an unusually aggressive ouster campaign in the typically sleepy state judicial retention elections that pitted concerns about judicial overreaching against concerns about judicial independence. Years of grumbling about “robed masters,” conservatives demonstrated their ability to target and remove judges who issue opinions they disagree with.

Each of the three judges received about 45-46 percent support with 91 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press, marking the first time members of Iowa’s high court had been rejected by voters. Under the system used here, judges face no opponents and simply need to win more yes votes than no votes to win another eight-year term.

Financed largely by out-of-state organizations opposed to gay marriage, those pushing against the judges were successful in turning the vote into a referendum on the divisive issue.

“I think it will send a message across the country that the power resides with the people,” Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican who led the campaign after losing the republican nomination for governor, told a crowd of cheering supporters at an election night party peppered with red signs declaring “No Activist Judges.” “It’s we the people, not we the courts.”

Though the Iowa election was the most prominent, similar ouster campaigns were launched in other states against state supreme court justices running unopposed in retention elections whose rulings on matters involving abortion, taxes, tort reform and health care had upset conservatives.

Together they marked the rapid politicization of judicial races that had been specifically designed to be free of intrigue. Over the last decade, just $2 million was spent on advertising in retention elections, less than 1 percent of total campaign spending on judicial elections in that period, according to data compiled in a recent report released in part by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. More than $3 million was spent on retention election races this year, easily eclipsing the figure for the previous decade, according to the Brennan Center.

The defeat was a bitter disappointment to much of the legal community here, which rallied behind the three justices arguing that judicial standards require judges to follow their interpretation of the law and not their reading of public opinion. They had urged voters to consider issues like competence and temperament rather than a single issue when casting ballots.

The three justices — Marsha K. Ternus, the chief justice; Michael J. Streit; and David L. Baker — did not raise money to campaign and only toward the end of the election did they make public appearances to defend themselves.

“We wish to thank all of the Iowans who voted to retain us for another term,” the judges said in a statement. “Your support shows that many Iowans value fair and impartial courts. We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Iowans, from across the political spectrum and from different walks of life, who worked tirelessly over the past few months to defend Iowa’s high-caliber court system against an unprecedented attack by out-of-state special interest groups.

“Finally, we hope Iowans will continue to support Iowa’s merit selection system for appointing judges. This system helps ensure that judges base their decisions on the law and the Constitution and nothing else. Ultimately, however, the preservation of our state’s fair and impartial courts will require more than the integrity and fortitude of individual judges, it will require the steadfast support of the people.”

Though several groups formed to support their retention, they were significantly outspent by the organizations that bankrolled the ouster effort, including the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association.

“We’re concerned about the precedent this has set tonight and what it means for the influence of money and politics on the judicial system,” said Dan Moore, co-chair of Fair Courts for Us, which supported the judges.

The judicial races were perhaps the most hotly anticipated item on the ballot this year, a dramatic contrast from years past in which the election were so low profile that more than a third of those who cast ballots left the section blank. “That’s the main reason I came out,” said Michelle Kramer, 36, a college student from Des Moines. “People can do what they want to do, they can love who they want to love.”

Her friend and neighbor Cathy Hackett, 38, took the opposite view. “I voted no for every single one of them,” said Ms. Hackett, a customer sales representative who described herself as a conservative Christian. “I’m not anti-gay. I love everybody. But I believe that if two people are going to marry they should be a man and a woman.”

The outcome will have no affect on the ruling that triggered the campaign, a 7-to-0 decision that found that a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman represented unlawful discrimination under the state constitution.

But those who led the ouster campaign said they were more focused on highlighting to judges elsewhere, including those on the U.S. Supreme Court, the risks associated with leapfrogging public opinion on the issue of same-sex marriage. They noted same-sex marriage has been initially approved by supreme courts in four states and by legislators in only three.

Jeff Mullen, lead pastor at the Point of Grace Church, who helped organize religious leaders in opposition to the judges, said the vote should send a message to judges nationwide. “They weren’t supposed to legislate from the bench,” he said. “They did. They’re out of a job.”

Depending on the speed with which new candidates are nominated the replacement justices could be appointed either by Gov. Chet Culver, a democrat who lost reelection on Tuesday, or Terry Branstad, a republican who previously served as governor. Each appointed one of the departing justices to the Supreme Court and Mr. Branstad appointed Ms. Ternus to a lower court. Mr. Branstad has called for changing the selection system.

    In Iowa, Voters Oust Judges Over Marriage Issue, NYT, 3.11.2010,






G.O.P. Captures House, but Not Senate


November 2, 2010
The New York Times


Republicans captured control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Obama just two years after his triumphal victory.

A Republican resurgence, propelled by deep economic worries and a forceful opposition to the Democratic agenda of health care and government spending, delivered defeats to House Democrats from the Northeast to the South and across the Midwest. The tide swept aside dozens of lawmakers, regardless of their seniority or their voting records, upending the balance of power for the second half of Mr. Obama’s term.

But Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, narrowly prevailed and his party hung onto control by winning hard-fought contests in California, Delaware, Connecticut and West Virginia. Republicans picked up at least six Democratic seats, including the one formerly held by Mr. Obama, and the party will welcome Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky to their ranks, two candidates who were initially shunned by the establishment but beloved by the Tea Party movement.

“The American people’s voice was heard at the ballot box,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, who is positioned to become the next speaker of the House. “We have real work to do, and this is not the time for celebration.”

The president, who watched the election returns with a small set of advisers at the White House, called Mr. Boehner shortly after midnight to offer his congratulations and to talk about the way forward as Washington prepares for divided government. Republicans won at least 56 seats, not including those from some Western states where ballots were still being counted, surpassing the 52 seats the party won in the sweep of 1994.

The most expensive midterm election campaign in the nation’s history, fueled by a raft of contributions from outside interest groups and millions in donations to candidates in both parties, played out across a wide battleground that stretched from Alaska to Maine. The Republican tide swept into statehouse races, too, with Democrats poised to lose the majority of governorships, particularly those in key presidential swing states, like Ohio, where Gov. Ted Strickland was defeated.

One after another, once-unassailable Democrats like Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Representatives Ike Skelton of Missouri, John Spratt of South Carolina, Rick Boucher of Virginia and Chet Edwards of Texas fell to little-known Republican challengers.

“Voters sent a message that change has not happened fast enough,” said Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Republicans did not achieve a perfect evening, losing races in several states they had once hoped to win, including the Senate contests in Delaware and Connecticut, because some candidates supported by the Tea Party movement knocked out establishment candidates to win their nominations. But they did score notable victories in some tight races, like Pat Toomey’s Senate run in Pennsylvania.

Senator Reid said in a speech that he was “more determined than ever” after his victory. “I know what it’s like to get back on your feet.”

The outcome on Tuesday was nothing short of a remarkable comeback for Republicans two years after they suffered a crushing defeat in the White House and four years after Democrats swept control of the House and Senate. It places the party back in the driver’s seat in terms of policy, posing new challenges to Mr. Obama as he faces a tough two years in his term, but also for Republicans — led by Mr. Boehner — as he suddenly finds himself in a position of responsibility, rather than being simply the outsider.

In the House, Republicans found victories in most corners of the country, including five seats in Pennsylvania, five in Ohio, at least three in Florida, Illinois and Virginia and two in Georgia. Democrats braced for the prospect of historic defeats, more than the 39 seats the Republicans needed to win control. Republicans reached their majority by taking seats east of the Mississippi even before late results flowed in from farther West.

Throughout the evening, in race after race, Republican challengers defeated Democratic incumbents, despite being at significant fund-raising disadvantages. Republican-oriented independent groups invariably came to the rescue, helping level of the playing field, including in Florida’s 24th Congressional District, in which Sandy Adams defeated Representative Suzanne Kosmas; Virginia’s 9th Congressional District, where Mr. Boucher, a 14-term incumbent, lost to Morgan Griffith; and Texas’s 17th Congressional District, in which Mr. Edwards, who was seeking his 11th term, succumbed to Bill Flores.

Democrats argued that the Republican triumph was far from complete, particularly in the Senate, pointing to the preservation of Mr. Reid and other races. In Delaware, Chris Coons defeated Christine O’Donnell, whose candidacy became a symbol of the unorthodox political candidates swept onto the ballot in Republican primary contests. In West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, triumphed over an insurgent Republican rival to fill the seat held for a half-century by Senator Robert C. Byrd. And in California, Senator Barbara Boxer overcame a vigorous challenge from Carly Fiorina, a Republican.

But Democrats conceded that their plans to increase voter turnout did not meet expectations, party strategists said, and extraordinary efforts that Mr. Obama made in the final days of the campaign appeared to have borne little fruit.

The president flew to Charlottesville, Va., on Friday evening, for instance, in hopes of rallying Democrats to support Representative Tom Perriello, a freshman who supported every piece of the administration’s agenda, but he was defeated despite the president’s appeals to Democrats in a state that he carried two years ago.

In governors’ races, Republicans won several contests in the nation’s middle. They held onto governorships in Texas, Nebraska and South Dakota, and had seized seats now occupied by Democrats in Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas. Sam Brownback, a United States Senator and Republican, easily took the Kansas post that Mark Parkinson, a former Republican turned Democrat, is leaving behind.

Though Democrats, who before the election held 26 governors’ seats compared to 24 for the Republicans, were expected to face losses, there were also bright spots. In New York, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo easily defeated the Republican, Carl P. Paladino, even as Republicans were expected to pick up seats in the state legislature and the congressional delegation. In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick won a second term.

As the election results rolled in, with Republicans picking up victories shortly after polls closed in states across the South, East and the Midwest, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other party leaders made urgent appeals through television interviews that there was still time for voters in other states to cast their ballots.

But the mood in Democratic quarters was glum, with few early signs of optimism in House or Senate races that were called early in the evening. Surveys that were conducted with voters across the country also provided little sense of hope for Democrats, with Republicans gaining a majority of independents, college-educated people and suburbanites — all groups that were part of the coalition of voters who supported Mr. Obama two years ago.

“We’ve come to take our government back,” Mr. Paul told cheering supporters who gathered in Bowling Green, Ky. “They say that the U.S. Senate is the world’s most deliberative body. I’m going to ask them to deliberate on this: The American people are unhappy with what’s going on in Washington.”

The election was a referendum on President Obama and the Democratic agenda, according to interviews with voters that were conducted for the National Election Pool, a consortium of television networks and The Associated Press, with a wide majority of the electorate saying that the country was seriously off track. Nearly nine in 10 voters said they were worried about the economy and about 4 in 10 said their family’s situation had worsened in the last two years.

The surveys found that voters were even more dissatisfied with Congress now than they were in 2006, when Democrats reclaimed control from the Republicans. Preliminary results also indicated an electorate far more conservative than four years ago, a sign of stronger turnout by people leaning toward Republicans.

Most voters said they believed Mr. Obama’s policies would hurt the country in the long run, rather than help it, and a large share of voters said they supported the Tea Party movement, which has backed insurgent candidates all across the country.

The Republican winds began blowing back in January when Democrats lost the seat long held by Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, with the victory of Scott P. Brown serving as a motivating force for the budding Tea Party movement and a burst of inspiration for Republican candidates across the country to step forward and challenge Democrats everywhere.

On Tuesday, the president did not leave the grounds of the White House, taking a respite from days of campaigning across the country, so he could meet with a circle of top advisers to plot a way forward for his administration and his own looming re-election campaign. The White House said Mr. Obama would hold a news conference on Wednesday to address the governing challenges that await the new Congress.

“My hope is that I can cooperate with Republicans,” Mr. Obama said in a radio interview on Tuesday. “But obviously, the kinds of compromises that will be made depends on what Capitol Hill looks like — who’s in charge.”

But even as the president was poised to offer a fresh commitment to bipartisanship, he spent the final hours of the midterm campaign trying to persuade Democrats in key states to take time to vote. From the Oval Office, Mr. Obama conducted one radio interview after another, urging black voters in particular to help preserve the party’s majority and his agenda.

“How well I’m able to move my agenda forward over the next couple of years is going to depend on folks back home having my back,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with the Chicago radio station WGCI, in which he made an unsuccessful appeal for voters to keep his former Senate seat in Democratic hands.

There was little Democratic terrain across the country that seemed immune to Republican encroachment, with many of the most competitive races being waged in states that Mr. Obama carried strongly only two years ago. From the president’s home state of Illinois to neighboring Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio — all places that were kind to the Democratic ticket in 2008 — Republicans worked aggressively to find new opportunities.

For all the drama surrounding the final day of the midterm campaign, more than 19 million Americans had voted before Tuesday, a trend that has grown with each election cycle over the last decade, as 32 states now offer a way for voters to practice democracy in far more convenient ways than simply waiting in line on Election Day.


Megan Thee-Brenan, David M. Herszenhorn and Michael Luo contributed reporting.

    G.O.P. Captures House, but Not Senate, NYT, 2.11.2010,








November 1, 2010
The New York Times


Times are tough, and Americans are understandably worried and angry. This year’s campaign has only made things worse. Billions of dollars have been spent to destroy character rather than debate serious ideas. Still, there is no excuse for staying home on Election Day.

There are critically important decisions to be made about whether the country moves ahead with confidence or moves backward and becomes even more polarized.

Voting in Republican primaries and special elections showed what happens when moderate Americans stay home or react to the barrages of fear and intolerance. We end up with fringe candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada. Establishment candidates then spout the same disturbing ideas. (Witness Representative John Boehner, the House minority leader, trying to act like an outsider after 18 years in the Washington power elite.)

Democrats have been far too timid to argue the case, but they, and President Obama, have done many important things in the last two years.

Most important, the stimulus — which Republicans made sure was smaller than it should have been — saved the country from a deeper, more destructive recession. That is not a lot of comfort for the millions of unemployed Americans, but it would have been far worse if the Republicans had had their way. They have even opposed extending federal unemployment benefits.

American troops are coming home from Iraq. For the first time, troops in Afghanistan have the full backing of the White House and Pentagon. The United States is regaining the respect of allies around the world.

The Republicans have been rewriting history. They claim Mr. Obama’s economic policies are a failure and hope Americans will forget that it was President George W. Bush who turned big budget surpluses into huge deficits and whose contempt for regulation ultimately brought us to the brink of financial collapse. The Republicans want to go back to more tax cuts for the rich and more free passes for Wall Street and big corporations.

Tea Party candidates are particularly worrisome. Some want to privatize Social Security. Others want to eliminate Medicare. Betting on the Republican establishment to temper these excesses is a bad bet.

Here are some things to bear in mind on Tuesday:

• Since Mr. Obama was elected, millions of poor children who did not have health insurance got it. A reform law was passed that already allows young people to be on their parents’ plan until they are 26, bars insurers from dropping coverage after a beneficiary becomes sick, and removes lifetime caps on coverage. In 2014, many more benefits will kick in.

Republicans are determined to undo that progress. It would be a disaster. The law is the best chance in years to provide health insurance to the rapidly rising numbers of uninsured and to begin trying to slow cost growth in medical care and insurance.

• The country needs tax reform that is fair and doesn’t get us even deeper in the red. Republicans are interested only in one thing: permanently extending tax cuts for the rich, adding $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

• The country needs jobs and to be globally competitive. Republicans are determined to block Mr. Obama’s sensible proposals to create good jobs by rebuilding fraying infrastructure or creating new energy industries.

• The country needs sound regulation. If there is any doubt about that look at the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or the bank bailout that — despite what the Republicans are saying — happened on Mr. Bush’s watch. The Republicans want more heedless deregulation.

• With very few exceptions, Republican candidates are hostile to the administration’s efforts to address climate change and reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. There has already been talk on Capitol Hill of stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

We urge all Americans to think carefully and then vote, especially young voters who voted for the first time in 2008. Sitting on their hands is voting for Republicans, none of whom will protect these voters’ interests. There are clear choices to be made.

    Vote, NYT, 1.11.2010,






Drowning in Campaign Cash


October 30, 2010
The New York Times


Shrill political attacks have saturated the airwaves for months, but behind them is the real problem of this demoralizing election: the dark flow of dollars, often secretly provided by donors with very special interests.

The amount is staggering: Nearly $4 billion is likely to be spent once the final figures are in, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, far more than in the 2006 midterms, which cost $2.85 billion. It could even eclipse the $4.14 billion spent in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Much of this is a direct creation of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., which has cut away nearly all campaign finance restrictions.

The court’s 2007 decision in Wisconsin Right-to-Life gave corporations and unions the right to run advocacy ads in the last 60 days of a campaign — as long as they did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a specific candidate. This year’s Citizens United decision effectively ended even that last restriction, and pulled away all limits on corporate spending in campaigns.

Building on those decisions, political operatives — mainly Republicans — decided they could collect unlimited amounts of money through independent, tax- exempt organizations known as 501(c) groups, without revealing the source of the donations.

By offering anonymity and no limits, these groups (with gauzily apolitical names, like American Future Fund and American Action Network) have been able to raise and spend extraordinary sums. In the 2006 midterms, outside groups not affiliated with political parties spent $51.6 million; so far this year, such groups have spent $280 million. About 60 percent of that spending is from undisclosed donors, most of which has benefited Republicans. Democratic candidates raised huge amounts, but the sources for most of it were disclosed.

Combining both traditional and outside money, Republicans have slightly outraised Democrats, $1.64 billion to $1.59 billion, but there is more to be tallied.

While large secret donations have been legalized, it is not clear that the 501(c) groups spending the money on barrages of attack ads are playing by the last, threadbare rules. The tax code requires that these groups not be “primarily engaged” in political advocacy, but neither the Internal Revenue Service nor the Federal Election Commission has made any apparent effort to investigate what other purpose they might have. Some groups have suggested they would begin nonpolitical activities — after the election.

What is clear is that the new world of unlimited spending, both open and secret, confers huge benefits on wealthy individuals, corporations and unions. In a striking example, reported by ABC News last week, Terry Forcht, a prominent Kentucky banker and nursing home executive, helped pay for a series of attack ads against Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic Senate candidate. Mr. Conway is prosecuting one of Mr. Forcht’s nursing homes for allegedly covering up sexual abuse.

Mr. Forcht has directly raised at least $21,000 for Mr. Conway’s Republican opponent, Rand Paul. He serves as the banker for American Crossroads, the shadowy group of nonprofits organized by Karl Rove that has spent nearly $30 million to defeat Democrats and more than $1 million to defeat Mr. Conway.

This year, of course, is just batting practice for 2012. Congress still has time to act. The first step is to pass the Disclose Act, which would require the identification of large campaign donors. The second is to create a public financing system for Congressional candidates that provides extra money to those who rely on small donations.

Voters say — again and again — that they want to break the hold of special interests and end pay-to-play politics. And politicians promise — again and again — that they will. Four billion dollars and one particularly ugly campaign later, there can be no more excuses.

    Drowning in Campaign Cash, NYT, 30.10.2010,






Judges and Money


October 29, 2010
The New York Times


This fall’s round of state judicial elections is setting records of the wrong kind. Extravagant spending by interest groups out to influence judicial decisions and snarling television and radio attack ads have long become routine. This year, the virus has spread to retention elections, in which states ask for a yes-or-no vote on whether to grant sitting justices another term.

This is especially troubling because retention ballots were supposed to limit politicization by sparing sitting judges from having to compete in regular multicandidate contests.

The retention campaign of Justice Thomas Kilbride of the Illinois Supreme Court (the chief justice as of this week) is a depressing standout. More than $3.1 million has been raised — $2.5 million by the judge’s supporters, and $650,000 by his opponents.

The bulk of the pro-Kilbride war chest comes from plaintiffs’ lawyers, unions and other interests channeling money through the Illinois Democratic Party, which has an obvious stake in how the state’s top court comes down in future legal battles over redistricting.

Chief Justice Kilbride drew the ire of big business and insurance interests this year after he voted, with the majority, to overturn a state law that capped damage awards in medical malpractice cases. A political action committee trying to oust him has gotten $150,000 from the United States Chamber of Commerce, $180,000 from a group closely aligned with the National Association of Manufacturers and nearly $90,000 from the American Tort Reform Association.

His opponents’ ads are particularly noxious. Rather than focusing on the comparatively dry issue of whether the Legislature or juries and judges should decide negligence awards, they use his procedural rulings in other cases to portray him — unfairly — as soft on crime. In the ads, actors playing violent felons describe their atrocious crimes in detail and then say the justice “sided with us over law enforcement or victims.”

Chief Justice Kilbride is an able jurist, and Illinois voters should retain him. But the huge amounts of money in this campaign and others around the country are doing huge damage to the courts’ reputation for impartiality — and underscores the urgent need for basic reforms. States that hold judicial elections must adopt public financing as well as strict rules that bar judges from sitting on cases involving major financial supporters.

    Judges and Money, NYT, 29.10.2010,






Lobbyists Court

Potential Stars of House Panels


October 26, 2010
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — Ernst & Young, the global accounting firm, hosted a fund-raising breakfast late last month for Representative Dave Camp that drew so many donors the firm’s lobbyists had to pull extra chairs into their largest conference room.

The day before, Mr. Camp was at a Capitol Hill town house owned by a founder of the Online Lenders Alliance, raising thousands of dollars more. And then there was the dinner reception and fund-raiser at Carmine’s, a downtown Italian restaurant, for Mr. Camp that same week.

To an outsider, it might be confounding why Mr. Camp, a relatively unknown Michigan Republican who has no viable challenger in his re-election bid this year, would be seeing such a flood of cash, including contributions from names like Bob Dole, the former United States senator turned lobbyist, and Joseph E. Gallo, the chief executive of E. & J. Gallo Winery in California.

But there is nothing mysterious for the lobbyists and corporate executives writing most of these checks. Mr. Camp is slated to take over the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win the majority next week, transforming this low-key conservative Republican almost overnight into one of the most powerful men in town.

Across Washington, lobbyists have been working behind the scenes now for months to prepare for this possible power shift. Former aides to Mr. Camp, who now work as lobbyists, are checking in with their onetime boss, chatting with him and his aides about staff appointments he might make when he takes over the Ways and Means Committee, and what tax or health care issues will be at the top of his agenda. Other lobbyists have gone to his staff to try to get to the head of the line in presenting proposed tax changes that will benefit their clients.

“You don’t wait until Nov. 3 and say, ‘What is the plan,’ ” said Jennifer Bell, a former aide to Mr. Camp who is now a health care lobbyist. She flew to Michigan last month in part to catch up with Mr. Camp while he was in his district. “Obviously, it is the majority that sets the agenda.”

The chairman’s spot on the Ways and Means Committee has long been a magnet for big dollars; Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, saw his campaign war accounts surge after he took over the committee in 2007.

The full list of likely Republican chairmen is not yet known. The choices are based on a mix of seniority and popularity, and some positions are still up for grabs. And, of course, voters still have to decide, regardless of what the polls are predicting, which party will control Congress. Still, the jockeying to influence the class of likely new leaders started months ago.

Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California, who is slated to take over the Armed Services Committee, has been a particular focus of attention, as military contractors fret over spending cuts proposed by the Obama administration.

For his 2008 campaign, Mr. McKeon collected $86,000 from the military industry for his political action committee and re-election bid. This time, even before the two-year election cycle is over, he has pulled in nearly $400,000, and has emerged as the top recipient of money in both the House and the Senate from military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Two of his former aides — who now work as military industry lobbyists — cornered him last month at a Capitol Hill reception held to unveil a portrait of Mr. McKeon, painted to honor his former service as chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee. (He held that spot for only several months, just before Republicans last lost control of Congress, but he still had a portrait commissioned.)

Recognizing the enormous power Mr. McKeon could soon have in helping shape Defense Department policy and spending, military contractors are teaming up with his office to form a new association of military suppliers they are calling the Aerospace Defense Coalition of Santa Clarita Valley, to make sure he can deliver as much money as possible to his district in California, where several of the big contractors already have large operations.

Mr. McKeon, who is known as Buck, has already hinted to industry lobbyists that he wants to push for more spending on unmanned aerial vehicles, which could benefit contractors in his district.

“Buck is a great advocate for our war fighters and for the industrial capabilities that support their mission,” said Hanz C. Heinrichs, a former aide to Mr. McKeon who now represents military contractors like L3 Communications..

One lobbyist who knows Mr. McKeon well and has contributed the maximum allowed by law to his re-election campaign has met with several military contractors in recent weeks as he seeks a way to profit from the rise of Mr. McKeon to chairman.

“I don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch,” said the lobbyist, referring not to the possible Republican takeover but to his possible surge in new clients. “But I would be surprised if it didn’t help me in one way or another. Business should be very good.”

Mr. McKeon, in a statement, said that if named chairman, he would continue a tradition of bipartisan leadership at the Armed Services Committee, “providing our warfighters and their families with the resources and support they need — and that commitment will continue regardless of the outcome in November.”

Mr. Camp declined a request for comment, but an aide to Mr. Camp, Sage Eastman, said his agenda would be dictated by voters not lobbyists.

“You are hired or fired based on your ability to reflect the will of the American people,” Mr. Eastman said.

The possible shift in power has also generated excitement among energy-sector lobbyists, who welcome the likely rise of Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of Washington, as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. Even while oil was still spilling into the Gulf of Mexico this summer, Mr. Hastings was condemning the moratorium on new drilling, and tried to block a Democrat-backed bill that would impose new safety standards on off-shore drilling operations, while also increasing taxes that oil drilling companies must pay.

Mr. Hastings has long been popular with the oil and gas interests. He got $10,000 from the industries in the last election cycle. But this time around, he has collected $70,000, making him one of the top recipients of money from those industries. That contrasts with Representative Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia, the current committee chairman, who has been an outspoken critic of the oil industry, but is a major recipient of donations from railroad and coal mining executives.

Industry lobbyists said they were hopeful that the Natural Resources Committee under Mr. Hastings would take a more aggressive stand in challenging the many costly environmental and safety regulations the Obama administration has tried to impose on the industry.

“Clearly, he is pro-energy development,” said Michael D. Olsen, a former Natural Resources Committee staff member and Bush administration Interior Department official, who now is a lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani, a firm that specializes in energy.

In some cases, the lobbyists must wait for outcomes, like the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, which controls all federal spending. Representative Jerry Lewis of California is the senior Republican on the panel, but he may be blocked from the post because of party-imposed term limits.

Besides the jobs that affect certain industries, other names are emerging for leadership positions in the new Congress.

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who would lead the Budget Committee, has been a point person for Republican leaders on fiscal issues in recent years. Mr. Ryan is one of the “Young Guns,” a moniker that Republicans have used to brand a new generation of leadership, along with a recently released book of the same name.

Representative Darrell Issa of California is poised to become the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which puts him in position to investigate the Obama administration and issue subpoenas.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida is expected to become chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Born in Havana, she is a strong opponent of the Communist government in Cuba and at one point called publicly for the assassination of Fidel Castro.

Fund-raising for all of these members is likely to become easier. Ed Kutler, a Republican lobbyist close to Mr. Camp, found that out when he organized a fund-raising event for him this year.

“I was calling around inviting clients to the event, asking if they would be willing to help out,” said Mr. Kutler, a onetime Republican aide in the House. “With one client, at first he said, ‘Probably not.’ Then there was a pause and he said, ‘If Republicans take over, could he be chairman?’ And then he said, ‘O.K., put me down.’ ”


Kitty Bennett and Barclay Walsh contributed research.

    Lobbyists Court Potential Stars of House Panels, NYT, 26.10.2010,






Democrats Retain Edge

in Spending on Campaigns


October 26, 2010
The New York Times


Lost in all of the attention paid to the heavy spending by Republican-oriented independent groups in this year’s midterm elections is that Democratic candidates have generally wielded a significant head-to-head financial advantage over their Republican opponents in individual competitive races.

Even with a recent surge in fund-raising for Republican candidates, Democratic candidates have outraised their opponents over all by more than 30 percent in the 109 House races The New York Times has identified as in play. And Democratic candidates have significantly outspent their Republican counterparts over the last few months in those contests, $119 million to $79 million.

Republican-leaning third-party groups, however, many of them financed by large, unrestricted donations that are not publicly disclosed, have swarmed into the breach, pouring more than $60 million into competitive races since July, about 80 percent more than the Democratic-leaning groups have reported spending.

As a result, the battle for control of the House has been increasingly shaping up as a test of whether a Democratic fund-raising edge, powered by the advantages of incumbency but accumulated in the smaller increments allowed by campaign finance law, can withstand the continuing deluge of spending by groups able to operate outside those limits, according to an analysis of political spending by The Times.

It is difficult to provide an accurate, up-to-the-moment comparison that includes all three streams of campaign money — money spent by candidates, money spent by party committees and money spent by outside groups — because candidates have had to file financial reports that cover only up until mid-October. Moreover, certain types of so-called issue advertisements, which do not explicitly urge voters to cast their ballots one way or another but still attack or praise candidates ahead of the general election, had to be filed with the Federal Election Commission only beginning in September, or 60 days before voters go to the polls.

While activities like television and radio advertisements and mass mailings are reported to the commission soon after they are purchased, other kinds of spending, like get-out-the-vote efforts, are not.

In mid-October, however, based upon the campaign finance data available, Democrats actually had the spending advantage in about 60 percent of the 109 competitive House races and had invested, collectively, about 10 percent more money into the contests than Republican candidates and their aligned groups had over the previous few months.

Those outside groups have proven crucial, though. Expenditures by Republican-oriented independent groups in carefully selected races have been financial difference-makers in dozens of cases, more than enough to help put the Republicans within striking distance of recapturing the majority, especially considering the political headwinds faced by Democrats.

With the Democratic and Republican Congressional campaign committees essentially battling each other to a draw, Republican-leaning groups have used their financial heft to broaden the political map. Since July, they have put $100,000 or more into more than 80 percent of the races in play, many more than Democratic-leaning groups, who have invested $100,000 or more in about half of the competitive races.

Only in the last two weeks or so have Democratic-oriented groups finally begun to come close to matching the spending of their counterparts on the right. But in many cases they appear to be playing defense, rushing to bolster Democratic candidates in races in which Republican outside groups had been swamping them.

America’s Families First Action Fund, for instance, a new Democratic-aligned group that is able to accept contributions of unlimited size from individuals and corporations but regularly reports its donors to the election commission, has emerged in the last few weeks as a major player. But in almost all of the races it has been involved in, it is mostly laboring to keep up with Republican outside group spending.

Last week, for example, the group spent $362,000 on a television ad attacking Steve Southerland, the Republican challenger to Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida. But the 60 Plus Association, a nonprofit advocacy group that bills itself as a conservative alternative to AARP, began attacking the Democratic incumbent on television as early as late August.

In the closing stretch of the campaign, Democratic candidates in competitive races generally have had more money in the bank to spend than their Republican counterparts. As of Oct. 13, Democrats in House races in play collectively had about $45 million in cash on hand, compared with about $32. million for Republicans.

In contest after contest, however, Democratic candidates with huge financial advantages over underfinanced Republican opponents have found themselves under siege.

Outside group spending has already far exceeded the total for the last midterm election cycle, in 2006, and is on track to surpass even what was spent by independent groups in 2008, a presidential election year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The hand-to-hand political combat between candidates, who must inch along in their own fund-raising in relatively modest bites, and these groups, which are able to leapfrog ahead with the help of a single giant donation, casts in bold relief the kind of outsized influence corporate and individual megadonors to such organizations can exert on specific races.

Take, for example, the tight race in New York’s 20th Congressional District. Representative Scott Murphy, a Democrat who was elected in 2009 to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, after she ascended to the Senate, has spent $1.5 million since late August, compared with less than $400,000 by his Republican challenger, Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel.

But Mr. Gibson has been helped by more than $700,000 in spending by Republican-leaning outside groups, while Democratic-leaning groups have spent less than $200,000 supporting Mr. Murphy.

American Crossroads, one of a pair of independent groups tied to Karl Rove, spent about $200,000 in mid-October on a television commercial attacking Mr. Murphy for his support of the health care overhaul.

The group’s most recent filings with the election commission revealed $14.7 million in donations since September, two-thirds of which essentially came from two people, Bob Perry, a Houston home builder, and Robert B. Rowling, a billionaire from Dallas.

Leading the way in independent group spending on House races has been the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has reported spending more than $12 million on “issue ads” in House races dating back to September, mostly attacking Democratic candidates.

Other top-spending Republican-oriented groups in House races include: American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group created this year by Republican operatives, which has reported spending about $10 million; the 60 Plus Association has disclosed expenditures of roughly $8 million; and American Future Fund, an Iowa-based nonprofit, has reported investing about $7 million in House races.

At over $5 million, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a labor union, has been the biggest outside group spender on the Democratic side, followed closely by America’s Families First Action Fund, with about $4.8 million.

    Democrats Retain Edge in Spending on Campaigns, NYT, 26.10.2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/27/us/politics/27money.html






Secret Money in Iowa


October 26, 2010
The New York Times


Bruce Braley, a Democrat from northeastern Iowa, has been a popular two-term congressman and seemed likely to have an easy re-election until the huge cash mudslide of 2010. The Republican Party had largely left him alone, but then a secretive group called the American Future Fund began spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on distortion-heavy attack ads.

Mr. Braley is now struggling to maintain his lead against a Republican challenger, Benjamin Lange, who is running on a familiar program of smaller government and opposition to the health care law, the stimulus and growing federal spending. Mr. Braley has disclosed all of the donors behind his ads and his campaign; Mr. Lange generally will not discuss his independent support.

Mr. Braley has shown admirable political courage throughout the race, staunchly defending his support for health care reform, the stimulus and the Bush-era bank bailout. Each will benefit the country over time, he said. “I’m going to stand my ground and won’t be intimidated,” he told a local radio station a few weeks ago.

That position stood him well in the relatively liberal 1st District of Iowa until he became a target of the American Future Fund, one of several conservative groups spending millions of dollars to defeat Democrats while promising their donors anonymity.

As The Times reported recently, the American Future Fund was started with money from Bruce Rastetter, an ethanol company executive. Mr. Braley supports ethanol tax credits — a favorite in Iowa. Mr. Rastetter, who is pushing to defeat several Democrats on the House energy and agriculture committees, has not explained his political goals.

The fund, based in Iowa, has spent at least $574,000 to run a series of anti-Braley ads. One that is particularly pernicious shows images of the ruined World Trade Center and then intones, “Incredibly, Bruce Braley supports building a mosque at ground zero.” Actually, Mr. Braley has never said that, stating only that the matter should be left to New Yorkers.

Another implies that Mr. Braley supports a middle-class tax increase because he voted to adjourn the House at a time when some Republicans had proposed cutting income taxes on everyone. In fact, Mr. Braley supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, while letting them expire for families making $250,000 or more to avoid adding $700 billion to the deficit.

Mr. Braley has also been the subject of $250,000 worth of attack ads by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also has not disclosed its contributors.

He is only one of many candidates being pummeled this year by secret money and shamefully false advertising. The American Action Network, another conservative group that does not disclose its donors, is targeting Representative Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, in his race against Sam Caligiuri, a Republican.

The group is running an ad claiming that the health reform law, which Mr. Murphy supported and Mr. Caligiuri wants to repeal, requires jail time for people who do not buy health insurance. The law does no such thing. At least one Connecticut television station has stopped running the ad.

The voters, who are the real victims of these distortions, haven’t the slightest idea who is paying for the ads. But rest assured that the big corporations and donors will make their identities known to the winners they push into office. The price for their support will be high.

    Secret Money in Iowa, NYT, 26.10.2010,






Pro-Republican Groups

Prepare Big Push

at End of Races


October 24, 2010

The New York Times



OVIEDO, Fla. — The anonymously financed conservative groups that have played such a crucial role this campaign year are starting a carefully coordinated final push to deliver control of Congress to Republicans, shifting money among some 80 House races they are monitoring day by day.

Officials involved in the effort over the midterm elections’ final week say it is being spearheaded by a core subset of the largest outside conservative groups, which have millions of dollars left to spend on television advertisements, mailings and phone calls for five potentially decisive Senate races, as well as the scores of House races.

Bolstered by a surge in last-minute donations and other financial support, outside liberal groups and unions say they are stepping up their response in advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, but remain largely outgunned by the scale and sophistication of the operation supporting Republican candidates.

A vivid picture of how outside groups are helping Republicans across the country can be found here in central Florida. The incumbent Democrat, Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas, had a nearly four-to-one fund-raising advantage over her Republican challenger, State Representative Sandy Adams, at the end of September.

Ms. Adams, low on cash, has not run a single campaign commercial. But a host of outside groups have swept in to swamp Ms. Kosmas with attack ads, helping establish Ms. Adams as the favorite without her having to spend on television.

Many of the conservative groups say they have been trading information through weekly strategy sessions and regular conference calls. They have divided up races to avoid duplication, the groups say, and to ensure that their money is spread around to put Democrats on the defensive in as many districts and states as possible — and, more important, lock in whatever gains they have delivered for the Republicans so far.

“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which is one of the leading Republican groups this campaign season and whose chief executive is Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota. “You’re looking at the battle field and saying, ‘Where can we marginally push — where can we close a few places out?’ ”

Democrats said the conservative groups were upending some of their best-laid plans in several important races, like here in Florida, especially those in which they had been counting on the financial advantages their candidates had over lesser-financed Republicans at the beginning of the general election.

Filings with the Federal Election Commission over the weekend show that one Republican group, American Future Fund, has purchased more television advertisements attacking Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, who was expecting an easier path to re-election. Another group, the 60 Plus Association, reported spending more than $150,000 against Representative Solomon P. Ortiz, Democrat of Texas, who has been considered a likely victor in November against his cash-short challenger, Blake Farenthold.

“As you know, they have been dumping tens of millions of dollars of secret money into these campaigns,” Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview. “I would say the outside groups have shuffled the deck in a number of these races.”

The coordinating effort is led out of a nondescript office suite just blocks from the White House, where two groups formed with help from Karl Rove — American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — share space with American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group. Together those strategists had already committed nearly $45 million for advertisements among them, according to Democratic advertising monitors’ best estimates. That does not include millions more being spent to get voters to polls through mailings, phone calls and text messages.

Their office suite — which has been deluged with incoming messages from nervous donors asking for progress reports or offering advice — is also the site of the weekly strategy sessions, which have up to roughly 25 representatives from other Republican groups active this campaign season, participants say.

A secondary hub is in Alexandria, Va., at the office of the Crossroads groups’ political director, Carl Forti, a protégé of Mr. Rove’s whose company does communications consulting for Americans for Jobs Security and the 60 Plus Association, which have spent more than $12 million between them this election cycle.

Working from color-coded master spreadsheets — one of which was obtained by The New York Times — the conservative groups are now closely monitoring polling in 80 House races that they judge crucial to ensuring a Republican majority. Based on those results, the groups have started to place their final advertising bets in ways carefully coordinated to fill openings left by the more financially limited official party and candidate committees.

In several cases, officials with the outside groups said, they intend to force Democrats to spend money in districts they presumed safe; in others, they said they would wipe out financial advantages Democratic incumbents were counting on to stave off strong challenges from underfinanced opponents.

“We’re going to continue to have a very strong presence on the Senate and in each of the key House races where we’ve played a big role,” said Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

The groups, he said, are planning “an expansion of that effort, where we see holes and gaps.”

Over all, they said, their moves are most acutely focused on those races determined to be the most critical in securing Republican Congressional control, rather than on tantalizing but long-shot attempts to defeat Democratic nemeses like Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

Both sides reported seeing an influx of new spending by liberal outside groups that had generally been subdued until now — a late-stage cavalry effect that Mr. Law called “alarming from my vantage point,” though he wondered if it was coming a bit late.

A group called Women’s Voices Women Vote recently began a significant advertising campaign against Ken Buck in Colorado, the Republican challenger to Senator Michael Bennet; Commonsense Ten, a liberal group that had been mostly focused on Senate races, has started a new advertising campaign to help Mr. Braley of Iowa.

“It’s clear that both institutional donors and individual donors dug deep over the last two or three weeks, and it will make a difference for sure,” said Jim Jordan, a strategist with Commonsense Ten. “But when we look back at the totality of it all we will still be outspent on electronic media six- or seven-to-one.”

In Florida, a review of records at the local NBC affiliate, WESH, shows that a succession of outside groups bought time for waves of anti-Kosmas advertisements, an anonymous, attack-ad relay race.

“They are not required to disclose who they are,” Ms. Kosmas said. “Therefore it’s impossible to connect them to their real agenda.”

Mr. Van Hollen sought to attach any Republican success on Election Day to the corporate benefactors backing the groups. “They are going to be very much indebted to these special interest groups that have come into these races,” he said.

In an e-mail, Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, accused Mr. Van Hollen of focusing on the anonymous donors as a way to “distract voters with scare tactics and side topics” rather than issues like jobs.

He added, “We appreciate the lawful work of any organization that is committed to working towards our goal of retiring Nancy Pelosi,” the House speaker.

Pro-Republican Groups Prepare Big Push at End of Races,










Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


presidential and congressional elections >




politics / legislation > U.S. Congress > Midterms >

Senate elections > Runoffs



presidential / congressional / mayoral elections >

donors, campaign finance



presidential and congressional elections >

voting, vote, turnout, election day



democracy, politics, power > USA



democracy, politics, power >

activism, protests, riots, looting > UK, USA



politics > world > oligarchy, autocracy, despotism,

dictatorship, totalitarianism, fascism



democracy, human rights, migration, politics,

society, religion, health, climate >

international, world > regions, countries



democracy, politics > world > foreign policy,

Arab Spring (2011-2014),

Middle East,

United Nations (U.N.), diplomacy






British monarchy



democracy, politics, power > UK




home Up