Division of Labour: November 2012 Archives
November 30, 2012
Virginia Postrel on Copyright Law
Another fine offering from Virginia--read it here.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:59 AM
November 29, 2012
Law of Demand: College Tuition Edition
Nice to know that at least one college understands the law of demand, and how it can be used to increase enrollment:
Belmont Abbey College announced on Nov. 28 that it is reducing its annual tuition cost to $18,500 beginning in Fall 2013. This represents an almost $10,000 per year reduction in the College’s published tuition price for incoming freshmen and transfer students...
November 28, 2012
The Welfare Trap
I saw this chart over on Instapundit, though it seems to leave out the Obamaphone subsidy. It reminds me of my first published paper.
People with high incomes respond to incentives too: Two-thirds of millionaires left Britain to avoid 50p tax rate
UPDATE (11/30): A reader points out that the diagram does not seem to account for non-cash compensation such as employer-provided medical insurance. Such compensation would not change the substance of the chart or of this post but it would change the figures a bit. Thanks for the feedback.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:11 AM
November 26, 2012
Incentives Matter: Unemployment Insurance Edition
The abstract of a new paper in the Journal of Monetary Economics:
Extensions of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits have been implemented in response to the Great Recession. This paper measures the effect of these extensions on the unemployment rate using a calibrated structural model featuring job search and consumption-saving decisions, skill depreciation, and UI eligibility. The ongoing UI benefit extensions are found to have raised the unemployment rate by 1.4 percentage points, which is about 30% of the observed increase since 2007. Moreover, the contribution of the UI benefit extensions to the elevated unemployment rate increased during 2009–2011; while the number of vacancies recovered, the successive extensions kept search intensity down.
This is a timely bit of research because the current UI extension lapses at the end of this year. Choosing not to renew it should help bring down joblessness.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:12 AM
Demand Curves Are Downward Sloping: Rolling Stones Edition
Of course if demand is inelastic and there's no good way to price discriminate then having some unsold tickets may be revenue enhancing.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 11:08 AM
More on Sandy as Stimulus
From some folks at Bloomberg--I wonder if they're spinning the disaster in a CYA effort for hizzoner or if they're just foolish enough to believe that disasters are welfare enhancing.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:59 AM
New Dorian Electra Vid
From the maker of the "I'm in Love with Friedrich Hayek" video comes this offering on the Fed:
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 10:21 AM
New Heights in Polling Absurdity: The "Fiscal Cliff"
Here's an absurd poll: Pew asked respondents who they will blame if Congress and the President fail to reach an accord to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" come January. You've got to love how we now attach blame before we've seen the behavior of the participants that would allow us to attach blame.
Lots of possibilities here:
Oh, by the way: 53 percent of respondents say they will blame Republicans; 29 percent say they will blame President Obama. Gee, that means up to 18 percent are actually withholding judgment until they see who is actually to blame.
November 13, 2012
Mike Lester on Free Stuff
Mike Lester's cartoon from Sunday's Rome News-Tribune:
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:37 PM
November 07, 2012
Libertarian views score well on ballot issues
In addition to candidate races up and down the ballot, there were many ballot issues in the states. Here, libertarian and generally limited government views did well. A big night for same-sex marriage and medical marijuana, and a bad one for Obamacare. A recap, below the fold:
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Hail to thee, Massachusetts: Voters in the Bay State made their typical hash of things, electing another Kennedy to Congress and putting Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, among other transgressions, but they did narrowly defeat a measure allowing doctors to help patients commit suicide. I know some libertarians who favor the notion, but as a practical matter it's a horrible idea to start authorizing people to kill others.
Same sex marriage and abortion rights: It was a big night for proponents of same sex marriage. For a decade or more, same sex marriage has lost every time it's been placed before voters - more than 25 times across the country. That string came to a stunning halt on Tuesday.
In Maine, 52.8% approved a measure allowing the state to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. In Maryland, a similar measure passed with 52.1%. In Minnesota the vote was 52.1% against a measure banning same sex marriage. And Washington state ended the day by voting 52-48% to allow same sex marriage. Coupled with the survival of Iowa Supreme Court Justice Wiggins, targeted for his vote on gay marriage in the state, it was a big day for same-sex marriage supporters.
Florida defeated an amendment to prohibit state government from paying for abortions. In Montana, 70% voted for a parental notification law.
Obamacare trounced: Some exit polls showed that the electorate actually approved of Obamacare. But several states passed state constitutional amendments to bar participation in the system's "exchanges," or to express their desire to opt out generally.
In Missouri, 62% voted to prevent the establishment of the state health exchanges required by Obamacare.
Alabama amended its state constitution to prohibit any person, employer, or insurer from being forced to participate in an insurance system. The measure passed 59% to 41%. In Montana, it was an even more resounding 67% percent vote against Obamacare. And in Wyoming, it was an even more resounding 77%.
Florida, however, was a party pooper, defeating an Alabama-type measure, 51.5% to 48.5%.
Ouch for Big Labor: In one of the most important but overlooked measures of the night, Michigan voters defeated, by a solid 58-42% margin, a union measure that sought to enshrine public sector collective bargaining in the state constitution, using broad language that would have brought every privatization effort into question. This was a big loss for Big Labor in one of its home states. Voters also defeated a measure that would have unionized home care workers, affirming the repeal of a failed union power grab from the Governor Granholm era.
In Alabama, the state constitution was amended to require secret ballots in union elections, by an overwhelming 67.1 to 32.9%. Since federal law will preempt state law in most union elections, this anti-card check vote is more symbolic than substantive.
The Choom Gang - Medical Marijuana & such: Colorado voted to make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal, with 54.8% voting aye. Washington state voted to legalize and regulate the production, distribution, and use of marijuana.
However, MM went down to defeat in Arkansas (51.4% to 48.6%) and Oregon (54.3% to 45.7%).
Taxes & Spending: Tax increases generally fared poorly, but not everywhere. California passed Gov. Jerry Brown's Prop 30, raising sales and income taxes to fund public education, by which is meant the teachers unions. The measure passed with 53.9% voting yes. But an even bigger proposed tax increase, Prop 38, lost with less than 30% support. It's a good lesson in how to make a huge tax increase look "moderate" - put a bigger one on the table. "Sugary drink" taxes lost in the cities of Richmond and El Monte.
New Hampshire has never had an income tax, and they finally decided - what with all the Massachusetts folks moving to the state - maybe they'd better it in the sate Constitution. So they did, prohibiting an income tax by an substantial margin.
Arizonans by nearly two to one defeated a measure to add one percent to the state sales tax, even though it was earmarked for "education." So did South Dakota. Arizona also passed, 57-43%, a constitutional amendment to limit property tax assessed values to a 5% increase per year.
In Oklahoma, a nearly identical measure to Arizona's, limiting property value assessments, passed by a two to one margin. Okies also exempting intangible personal property from property taxes.
Arkansans approved a temporary hike in the state sales tax for transportation projects, but defeated a measure allowing the creation of special sales tax districts for local development.
Missourians defeated a cigarette tax increase earmarked to support education. Tobacco over kids. Good for them. Oregon voters approved a measure eliminating real estate transfer taxes, but defeated an elimination of the state inheritance tax, 53.7-46.3%.
Maine passed what were probably sensible bond issues for conservation easements, transportation projects, and wastewater systems, and defeated what was probably an unnecessary bond measure for more higher education spending. Rhode Island and New Jersey also approved bond issues.
Florida was again a party pooper, defeating proposals to reduce property tax assessments and cap state revenue increases. The voters did approve tax relief for seniors and veterans.
Michigan voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure requiring a two-thirds legislative vote on all tax increases, but in Washington State, such a measure passed with 65% of the vote.
Government Reform: Californians said no to Prop 32, which would have banned contributions by unions, corporations, and government contractors. A coalition of unions and free-speech advocates opposed the measure.
Colorado instructed its congressional delegation to seek a U.S. constitutional amendment to allow more campaign finance restrictions. Good luck with that. Montana citizens declared that corporations aren't people and so have no constitutional rights. Fortunately, of course, the vote has no legal effect. If it did, I would try to get my state to seize all the assets of any Montana corporation operating in the state, without a hearing or any compensation.
Apparently term limits still have some bite, as Nebraska voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure to extend the terms allowed for it state assembly members.
Ohio voters defeated an ill-conceived (or perhaps carefully conceived - it was intended as a partisan Democratic measure) plan to change how redistricting is done in the state. I wrote a number of op-eds for the anti-side, and we won with about 65%. This is the second time in 7 years state Democrats have pulled this stunt.
Education: Georgia amended its constitution to allow charter schools. Washington State voted to allow up to 40 charter schools. In conservative Idaho, however, education reform took it on the chin, as voters defeated three measures to limit teachers' collective bargaining, performance based teacher pay, and other reform measures. South Dakota voted down a proposal to abolish teacher tenure and allow for merit pay.
Other Issues: In California, Los Angeles County voted to require porn actors to wear condoms, presumably only while working. Californians defeated a measure to require special labels on genetically modified foods. Sixty-three percent of Michiganders voted against a measure requiring 25% of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. Arbitrary numbers, going down to a non-arbitrary defeat.
In Oklahoma, voters voted to prohibit affirmative action by a 59-41 margin.
Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska amended their constitutions to guarantee the right to hunt, fish and trap. In Wyoming, the vote in favor was over 89%. Hey, get these things in the Constitution while they're not threatened, don't wait until they're in danger. Also using that philosophy, Louisiana strengthened its state constitution protection of the right to bear arms, with a 74% majority. Oregon soundly rejected a ban on salmon fishing by all save tribal members.
Maryland passed a measure expanding legal gambling. Oregon, however, voted 70% against allowing private casinos (the state already has several tribal casinos). North Dakota voters passed a broad smoking ban. They also defeated a measure making it a felony to harm a dog, cat, or horse.
Overall, then, same sex marriage did great. Marijuana legalization/decriminalization made some serious headway, and several votes will make it harder for the feds to rely on the states to implement Obamacare next year. Tax relief fared relatively well, winning more than losing. Oh, and hunters, trappers, and fishermen had a perfect night.
For the libertarian leaning voter, the ballot issues offered some choice nuggets.
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Why are liberals so angry this morning?
I've been surprised today by how nasty, mean, angry, bitter, and vindictive so many liberals are this Wednesday, the day after a surprisingly easy and triumphant win at the polls. Below are just a few comments from the very first page of my Facebook feed early this morning:
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"The Rep party needs to clean house, starting with their pathetic pundits and their "fair and balanced" media. Delusional!!"
"Their inability to be remotely based in reality is truly nuts."
"Every Conservative pundit who predicted a landslide - landslide! - for Romney should be fired. Get lost Dick Morris, Charles Krauthammer, Peggy Noonan, Michael Barone and even George Will. What an embarrassment to your cause and to the country."
"let them [Tea Party] be a powerless emabarrassment like the neo-facist parties of Europe, exactly where they belong."
"Too many people willing to believe lies and remain willfully ignorant. Im putting my bet on containing the remaining dinosuars until they die out." [on republicans]
"the American people reject your party's regressive, destructive ideology."
"I have zero interest in being a gracious winner, because your party and your ideology made the last 4 years so horribly ungracious."
"God hates ugly. Maybe the good Lord questioned Mr. Romneys credentials yesterday."
"Haters gonna hate. Country has moved on. Obamanation!"
"Get the f*ck out of this country." [to conservatives]
"a military dictatorship. Hell I'm beginning to see that some on the Right might like that."
Why so angry? They just won. Is there no magnanimity? For example, why would a liberal or a Democrat be so upset, the day after the election with conservative pundits whose predictions had been wrong?
Perhaps this is the result of the tone set at the top. Over the last 4 years liberals have been told to "get in their faces;" and "make them uncomfortable." In the second presidential debate, President Obama made a shocking attack, not on Romney's policies, but on Romney as a person, of the kind simply rarely, if ever seen in a presidential race before:
"Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan," Obama said. "And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That's been his philosophy in the private sector; that's been his philosophy as governor; that's been his philosophy as a presidential candidate. You can make a lot of money and pay lower tax rates than somebody who makes a lot less. You can ship jobs overseas and get tax breaks for it. You can invest in a company, bankrupt it, lay off the workers, strip away their pensions, and you still make money."
The President told his supporters that voting was a form of "revenge." Again and again he chose mockery and ridicule over grace and magnanimity - rarely moreso than in the speech he gave the morning after passing his historic health care measure, when he mocked and ridiculed opponents rather than congratulating them on a good fight. Countless other episodes come to mind, even just during the last few weeks on the campaign trail.
In any case, it just seems strange, and frankly, disturbing, to me. Makes one want to do a little snark oneself: Hey, you won. Get over it!
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Tuesday's Results: Executive Offices Down the Ballot
I presume you've heard something about the Presidential results. Here we'll spend a couple sentences on U.S. House and Senate, and then move down the ballot to see what happened in the states.
Here I'll focus on state executive offices and courts; I'll do state legislatures, and then review the fates of ballot issues, later as more info becomes available.
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In the U.S. Senate, against an awful playing field and what once looked like a sure thing for Republicans, the Democrats had an amazing night. The self-inflicted wounds of Republicans hurt as Richard Mourdock lost a Republican seat in Indiana and Todd Akin lost a probable Republican gain in Missouri, both due to ill-advised comments on rape and abortion (well, Akin's were not only ill-advised, but ignorant and ridiculous, too). Both are losses for freedom - while neither man would have much impact on abortion policy at all, Akin was better on tax and spending issues than his incumbent opponent Claire McCaskill, and while the winner in Indiana, Joe Donnelly, won't be bad, Mourdock was a serious budget cutter. Akin, who refused to drop out of the race when he had time, ran 30 points behind Mitt Romney in Missouri.
Elsewhere, the "too close to call" races fell one by one to the Democrats. The atrociously bad Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown in Massachusetts, a not unexpected but disappointing result nonetheless; colorless congressman Chris Murphy beat entrepreneur Linda McMahon in Connecticut; Bob Casey, said by many to be the least intelligent Senator, defeated Tom Smith in Pennsylvania; Tim Kaine finished George Allen's career in Virginia, and Tammy Baldwin did the same to Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, becoming the first openly gay senator. (Note: Republicans, in particular, have had many closeted gay senators. Ah, the days of my youth, when most gays were Republican). Thompson had been a creative governor for school choice and entitlement reform, but his days were past. Kaine is pretty sensible, but Allen was one of the Senate's more libertarian members on policy. It's hard to see any of these results as good for freedom, broadly speaking.
But the parade kept going. In Ohio, Sherrod Brown, a big spending, big labor partisan, defeated Josh Mandel, a young tea party candidate who ran a horrible campaign. Debbie Stabenow, another cookie cutter union Democrat, defeated Pete Hoekstra in Michigan, Hoekstra also running a horrible campaign. Heather Wilson gave it the old college try but lost to Martin Heinrich in New Mexico. Moderate Republican Rick Berg lost a nailbiter to Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, probably the only Democrat who could have held the seat. Jon Tester won by 4 points in Montana over Denny Rehberg, a race in which Libertarian Dan Cox picked up 6.5%. Tester is one of the more libertarian friendly senators on the Democratic side.
Republicans and libertarians got a tiny bit of good news moving west, as libertarian-Republican congressman Jeff Flake held off a surprisingly tough challenge from Dennis Carmona to hold Arizona's open seat. Flake will probably become the most libertarian member of the Senate after Rand Paul. The R's picked up a seat, as expected, in Nebraska, and Dean Heller hung on to his seat in Nevada, defeating a big-labor hack, Shelley Berkeley. Add in a win for independent Angus King in Maine, who will probably caucus with the Democrats, and the you've got a net Democratic pick up of two seats in a year in which, by rights, they should have lost ground. The 8 seats won by Republicans is the fewest either major party has won since 1964.
We're looking at a Democratic pick up of about 5-7 seats here. It's currently at 5, with 12 seats undecided. If the current margin in those seats hold (most have all the returns in, and are awaiting possible recounts; a couple have a few absentees yet to count), Democrats would finish with a pick up of 7. This will have almost no ideological change on the House, and there were few close races of much interest to libertarian-oriented voters.
It does look like Mary Bono Mack, one of the more libertarian Republicans in the House, will lose her seat. There's been no concession, but she's down 51.4% to 48.6% with all votes counted. In Utah, libertarian-Republican hope Mia Love, seeking to become the first female African-American congressman, trails incumbent Jim Matheson 49.3% to 48.1% with all votes in. Libertarian Party nominee Jon Vein won 2.6% and probably cost Love the seat.
In Michigan, two Republicans, Paulite freshman Justin Amash and Club for Growth favorite Tim Walberg, also held their seats against strong challenges. In another race in Michigan's 11th District, Kent Bentivolio, a libertarian supporter of Ron Paul, stumbled into the GOP nomination when Thad McCotter failed to submit enough signatures for the primary ballot. Bentivolio won Tuesday with just over 50% of the vote, and will head to Congress as one of the more colorful members of the freshman class.
No major leaders went down, although controversial Florida freshman Alan West trails 50.4 to 49.6% with all votes in, waiting on a recount.
Again, the bottom line is that House has changed in any significant way.
Republicans gain 1 seat, lead nationally 30-19, with 1 Independent.
Republicans had expected to gain at least one, and possibly as many as four, governorships. It looks like they'll settle at the low end, with one. Pat McCrory won in North Carolina. Democrat Marjorie Hassan held the governorship for Democrats in New Hampshire. Two close races are still counting ballots, but it looks like Steve Bullock will defeat Rick Hill in Montana, and Jay Inslee will beat Rob McKenna in Washington state. Both are defeats for freedom, not because the losers are so good but because the winners are so bad. In Montana, Bullock won 49-47, with 4% for Libertarian Ron Vandevender.
Republicans gain 1 seat, lead nationally 31-13. (Six states have no Lt. Governor).
A few states still elect the Lieutenant Governor separately from the Governor. There were 5 such elections this year.
Republicans gained the seat in North Carolina as Dan Forest, son of Congresswoman Sue Myrick, scored a razor thin win. Incumbent Brad Owen narrowly defeated Bill Finkbeiner in Washington, in what was a disappointing night for Republicans, who had hoped to re-establish a strong presence in the state. In Missouri, embattled GOP incumbent Peter Kinder held on, with less than 50% of the vote. LP and Constitution Party nominees combined for over 5% in the race. Incumbents Phil Scott (R) in Vermont and Matthew Denn (D) in Delaware won easily.
STATE SUPREME COURTS
There were a number of state Supreme Court races up, some retention elections, some pitting candidates against each other. Many of the most interesting races down ballot were for Supreme Court seats. A quick round-up:
IOWA: In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the state on a 7-0 vote. In 2010, three of those justices were not retained by Iowa voters (Justices need to get a 50% vote in periodic retention elections). This year, Chief Justice David Wiggins became the 4th Justice to face a retention election, but Wiggins held on, getting 54% for retention. This was part of a very good night for proponents of same-sex marriage, as we will see in a later post on state ballot issues.
FLORIDA: Three Florida judges faced retention elections. Usually these are routine, but for the first time ever, the state Republican Party took sides, urging that all three not be retained, for a variety of decisions but generally just being too liberal. Non-retention would have allowed Republican Governor Rick Scott to name replacements. But all three won easily.
MICHIGAN: Michigan's Supreme Court has had a number of ideological battles in recent years. The Court will retain it's 4-3 conservative split after an expensive campaign. Republican Steve Markman, the majority's intellectual leader, was re-elected, and Brian Zahra, appointed last year, won election to fill out the term of the Justice he replaced. The other full term was won by Democrat Bridget McCormick, a liberal law professor at the University of Michigan. The cast of the West Wing, the old liberal political-fantasy show, cut an ad on her behalf, as her sister was connected with the show.
OHIO: Ohio's conservative-Republican Supreme Court majority stayed intact, but in an unexpected fashion. Republican David Cupp lost a tough re-election battle to Democrat William O'Neil, a former appellate judge with good name recognition in Cleveland. Not a big surprise, but Cupp had been a modest favorite. Republicans offset that loss, however, with a surprise win. Yvette McGee Brown, an African American Democrat appointed to a vacancy in 2010, had carefully fashioned a moderate image, had a popular Ohio political name, and was running against a Republican, Sharon Kennedy, rated "not qualified" by the Ohio Bar Association. Most GOP groups put little into Kennedy's campaign, ceding it to Brown while working to save Cupp. But Kennedy won an easy 14 point victory. In a third race, Republican Terrance O'Donnell was easily re-elected.
WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia's contentious races have often drawn national attention and led to the Supreme Court case of Caperton v. Massey Coal, re judicial recusal. This year's races were relatively quiet, with incumbent Democrat Robin Davis winning easy re-election, while Republican Allen Loughry captured an open seat formerly held by Democrat Thomas McHugh. That win cuts the Democratic margin to 3-2.
ALABAMA: Judge Roy Moore of 10 Commandments fame won his old seat back, defeating Democrat Bob Vance. Moore is the kind of Republican who makes most libertarians' skin crawl.
NORTH CAROLINA: Republicans kept a 4-3 majority on the state's high court as incumbent Paul Newby defeated Sam Ervin IV, grandson of the old segregationist Senator Sam Ervin of Watergate fame. Democrats complained relentlessly about "outside spending" in the race, which was a blow to the state's system of tax-funded judicial campaigns.
LOUISIANA: Louisiana will have a runoff election between liberal Democrat Michael Guidry and Jeff Hughes, a Republican backed by the trial lawyers. Hughes is favored. A Hughes win would give the GOP a 4-3 majority on the Court, but either way it probably moves a bit to the left as Hughes replaces conservative Democrat Kitty Kimball.
MINNESOTA: Three Republican incumbents - all appointed - swept Minnesota's Supreme Court races. The best of the bunch, from a libertarian perspective, is Barry Anderson, who defeated Dean Barkley. If Barkley's name rings a faint bell, he was guy Jesse Ventura appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the last few months of the late Paul Wellstone's term. The races are technically non-partisan.
WASHINGTON: One of the saddest defeats for libertarians on Tuesday came in the race for Washington State Supreme Court. There, Sheryl McCloud defeated Richard Sanders for an open seat. Sanders, who lost a close re-election bid in 2010, was probably the most libertarian state Supreme Court Justice in the country - a paragon for the defense of free speech, civil liberties, and property rights. It's a shame he won't be returning to the Court.
Elsewhere around the country, incumbent justices either ran unopposed or won handily.
No change in partisan composition. Each major party holds 25 seats. Republicans lead 22-21 in elected seats.
Democrats picked up the seat held by McKenna in Washington State, and won the Pennsylvania office for the first time since it became an elected office in 1978. Republicans countered by taking AG seats from Democrats in Montana and West Virginia. A lot more people in the seats gained by Democrats. None of the changes involve AGs particularly famous for abusing their power, although Tim Fox is an improvement over Bullock in Montana, and Patrick Morrissey is a marked improvement over Darrell McGraw in West Virginia, who would have been a dangerous man over the year had he been in a state such as New York.
SECRETARIES OF STATE
There were no changes in the partisan composition of Secretary of State on Tuesday. However, in Maine, where the position is appointed by the legislature, the Democratic takeover of both chambers probably means that Republican Chuck Sumner will be replaced in January. That would give the Democrats a pick up of 1, leaving Republicans with a national edge of 27-20 (3 states have no such office).
Despite a disappointing night in the state, Republicans did keep one statewide office in Washington, as Kim Wyman defeated Kathleen Drew 50.4 to 49.6%. As the only Republican in statewide executive office, Wyman is a likely nominee for Governor or Senator in the future.
Democrats narrowly held the office in Missouri, where Jason Kandler defeated Shane Schoeller, 49-48, to replace retiring Robin Carnahan. Libertarian and Constitution Party nominees took nearly 4 percent, probably depriving Republicans of a win.
Incumbents Jim Condos (D. Vt) and Natalie Tennant (D. W.Va.) won easily. Incumbent Democrats in Oregon, Montana, and North Carolina fought off energetic challenges.
No change. Republicans lead nationally 28-22 overall, 22-16 among elected Treasurers.
All incumbents won on Tuesday. One of note, libertarian-Republican Cole McNary lost a close race in Missouri. As a state representative, McNary had been a major force for reducing taxes and spending, and was first chairman of the House Committee on Downsizing Government.
No partisan change: Republicans lead nationally 15-11.
In Pennsylvania, Democrat Eugene DePasquale won a close win over John Maher. This is probably the most powerful Auditor's office in the country. The winner says his first order of business will be to audit the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure that it has sufficiently tough on oil-drilling and fracking in the state. Libertarian Betsy Summers won 3.9% in a race DePasquale won by 3.4%.
It appears that no state office will change hands, although in Washington State they are still counting ballots with Democrat Troy Kelly holding a narrow lead over Tea Party backed James Watkins. If Watkins were to you could add one to the Republican side of the numbers above.
No partisan change. Still 19-17, Republican.
There are 12 elected Agriculture Commissioners, and Democrats, in something of a surprise, held their only such seat, in West Virginia.
School reform took a pair of hits on Tuesday. Glenda Ritz, a teacher and teacher's union candidate, defeated Indiana's reforming Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett. Bennett had fought to reduce the power of teachers' unions, increase charter schools, and introduce school choice within the traditional public school system. Another school reformer, John Tedesco, was trounced by incumbent June Atkinson in North Carolina.
Another unfortunate result for libertarians came in California, where Bob Filner, a run-of-the-mill Democratic Congressman, defeated a gay, libertarian-Republican, Carl DeMaio, for Mayor, 51.5% to 48.5%.
Republicans appear to have picked up two seats on Montana's Public Services Commission, giving them a 5-0 majority, although two races could still swing back to Democratic incumbents. Once such race involves GOP property rights advocate Roger Koopman.
One's faith in voters got a boost when Republican Anthony Silva won the Mayor's office in Stockton, California, a city of over 300,000. In something of an upset, Silva defeated Democrat Ann Johnston with 58% of the vote. Johnston is the incumbent Mayor who has driven Stockton to become the largest U.S. City to go bankrupt.
Democrat Ben McAdams kept the mayor's office of Salt Lake City in Democratic hands. Another winning Democrat in a big city (or at least mid-sized city) mayoral race was Kip Holden, easily re-elected in Baton Rouge against a well-funded challenge. Liberal Democrat Charlie Hales defeated Liberal Democrat Jefferson Smith in a non-partisan race to replace Liberal Democrat Sam Adams as Mayor of Portland, Oregon.
In Alabama, the last Democrat in statewide office, Public Service Commissioner Lucy Baxley, lost to Republican Twinkle Cavanaugh.
A lot of action for little change.
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November 06, 2012
T. Boone Rentseeker Is Alive and Well
BTW, what the #$%@ is Ron Paul doing supporting this sort of legislation?
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:46 PM
Broken Windows--They're Not Just For Hurricanes!
A headline in the Denver (must be dumb as a) Post: Waldo Canyon fire could bring economic benefits
And a snip:
The Waldo Canyon fire, as bad as it was, could give the Colorado Springs economy a significant boost over the next five years as homes are restored, rebuilt and refurnished.
Emotional trauma, people displaced, businesses shuttered ... other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?
Of course, if the folks in Colorado really do think fires are economic bonanzas I'm sure Don Boudreaux will gladly extend the generous offer he made to our favorite Chinese photocopier pitchman.
Thanks to SR for the pointer.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:21 PM
Election Day Ironies
1) We have a supposed separation of church and state, and the location where many people will vote today will be in a church.
2) We are voting to determine who will run our government, and the process of voting is run by government. On our local news last night, they said that an estimated 90 million people will vote today. I imagine that, on a given workday, at least 90 million people buy their lunch from somewhere, and they will not have to wait anywhere near as long in line as people will have to wait today to vote. Perhaps there is a lesson there in the efficiency of the private vs. public sector upon which people could reflect as they decide for whom to vote. They'll have plenty of time to do the reflecting.
November 05, 2012
I'll be voting for Gary Johnson. However, if I were the decisive voter (the premise of a recent film, "Swing Vote," that has several good econ/public choice clips) or even had the faintest probability of being the decisive voter, I'd pick Romney. Brad's recent post makes a good case for Romney over Obama as do others such as Richard Epstein. Beyond parts of the record such as job creation (not that presidents really create jobs) or Obamacare, I think Obama's low down campaign (the war on women baloney, the accusation that Bain/Romney caused a woman to die from cancer, etc.) displays a fundamental lack of decency. Politics isn't bean bag, as the saying goes, but the Obama campaign strikes me as particularly sleazy.
Although I prefer Romney over Obama, I predict a narrow Obama win, perhaps somewhere between 270 and 285 electoral votes. I'm playing a hunch more than applying any sort of analysis. Romney seems to have pulled close but just can't seem to get over the hump in certain key states (Ohio, maybe VA and PA too).
Beyond elective offices, I'm interested in how a few ballot measures fare. Michigan has an important vote on collective bargaining rights, California has a tax increase referendum, and here in Georgia we're voting a measure that would allow the state to create charter schools in counties where the local school boards are blocking charters.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 02:30 PM
November 04, 2012
Down Ballot: State Legislatures
This post reviews state legislature makeups and possible changes in 2012. Scroll down the page for prior posts governors and lieutenant governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state, and other mayors and other state offices.
Entering election day 2012, Republicans control 59 state legislative chambers, Democrats 36. Three are tied, and one state, Nebraska has a non-partisan, unicameral legislature (although in fact, it is heavily Republican). Radical changes this year are unlikely, but here is the basic rundown:
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Republican Chambers that could go Democratic:
Currently Tied Chambers:
If you're wondering, the other tied chamber is the Virginia Senate, which is not up for election this year.
My best guess is that, in the end, Republicans may net a chamber or two, even as Democrats gain slightly in the total number of state legislators.
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Way down the ballot: Treasurers, Auditors, and other people and offices you never heard of
Earlier entries - scroll down the page- have reviewed Governors, Lt. Governors, Aspiring Governors (aka Attorney Generals) and Secretary of State races for 2012. This post includes a review of miscellaneous state offices up for election in 2012, including Treasurer, Auditor, and similar positions.
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For the elected Treasurers, there are a few close races.
The most hotly contested may in Pennsylvania, where 1st term Democrat Rob McCord battles Republican Irey Vaughn, a Country Commissioner. Three public polls have shown McCord with leads of from 1 to 4 points. McCord, who is widely expected to challenge Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014, has spent over $2 million on the race, far more than Vaughn, but the latter hopes to benefit from Mitt Romney's late rise in the state. Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates are bleeding a few votes off of Vaughn's right flank.
In Missouri, Democratic incumbent Clint Zwiefel, is favored over Republican Cole McNary, a state representative. Libertarians could fall for McNary, who as a state rep lobbied to create a House Committee on Downsizing Government, which he now chairs. Of course, in today's typical fashion of blurring the responsibilities of various offices, McNary's web page contains "issue positions" on abortion and Second Amendment rights. A Libertarian Party nominee, Sean O'Toole, previously garnered 33% of the vote in a two way race for the state legislature in 2010. His wife, Cisse Spragins, is the LP nominee for Secretary of State, so in the even of an LP wave, state government could become a family affair. Back to reality, the only public poll in the race, in August, showed Zwiefel with a 7 point lead.
North Carolina is another state with a competitive race, as first term Democratic Jane Cowell led tea party Republican Steve Royal by 5 points in a pair of October polls.
There's been no public polling in West Virginia, where Democrat John Perdue seeks a 5th term against Republican Mike Hall, Minority Leader in the State Senate. Perdue is probably the favorite, but West Virginia's Republican trend is slowly seeping down the ballot, and Hall was endorsed by the state's largest paper, the generally Democratic Charleston Daily Mail, which called him the "best qualified person ever to run for state treasurer."
Expect easy re-election for Democrats James McIntire in Washington, and Republican Kelly Schmidt in North Dakota and Richard Ellis in Utah. The odds would suggest that the Republicans could pick up a seat or two (not including the two seats that could switch by virtue of gubernatorial appointment); the Democrats hope to simply hold all their incumbents and break even. By next January, Republicans will hold somewhere between their current 28 and 34 state treasurer offices.
Again, the hottest race may in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Eugene DePasquale and Republican John Maher are in a dead heat for the office being vacated by term-limited Democrat Jack Wagner. Pennsylvania's Auditor is relatively powerful, and DePasquale promises his first order of business will be to audit the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure that it has sufficiently tough on oil-drilling and fracking in the state. Wagner used the office to block privatization of liquor stores and other state enterprises. Maher is endorsed by most of the state's newspapers. He's no libertarian, but almost certainly preferable to DePasquale. There is an LP candidate in the race, Betsy Summers, a sales rep from Wilkes-Barre.
In Washington, Democratic State Rep Troy Kelley held a 5 point lead in a mid-October Elway poll over Republican James Watkins, in a race to replace Democrat Brian Sonntag, who did not seek re-election. Watkins is a manager at Microsoft and has the endorsements of Tea Party groups. Watkins won Washington's "top-two" primary (the top two finishers, regardless of party, face each other in the general election) with 46% of the vote, but has been unable to add the few percentage points he needs for victory.
In North Carolina, PPP has conducted six polls. The first, in June, had Democratic incumbent Beth Wood and GOP challenger Debra Goldman tied at 36%. In each poll since, Wood has increased her lead, until a poll taken last week had her up 50-38%. This comes in the midst of rumors of an extra-marital affair on Goldman's part. Goldman, a volunteer fire-fighter, entered politics in 2009 through tea party events, and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Wake County Board of Education.
In Utah, Auston Johnson, first elected in 1996, was defeated in the GOP primary by state representative John Dougall in the midst of a mini-scandal involving public school financing. Dougall is a heavy favorite over Democrat Mark Sage and Constitution nominee Richard Proctor.
In West Virginia, Democratic incumbent Glen Gainer III first won the office in 1992, seceding Glen Gainer II, who had held it since 1977. He's favored to keep it in the family. Republicans have their own dynasty in North Dakota, where Robert Peterson took over from his father (first elected in 1972) in 1996. Peterson is favored against state rep Robert Kelsh, son of the state's House Minority Leader. Montana's incumbent Democrat, Monica Lindeen, is favored over Republican state rep Derek Skees.
As with Treasurer's offices, Republicans are highly unlikely to lose any offices they now hold, and could pick up as many as two or three more.
In North Carolina incumbent Wayne Goodwin has held a steady high single digit lead over Republican Mike Causey, a former insurance company executive and small business owner. Goodwin has the usual endorsements you'd expect for a Democrat - Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, etc., and one interesting endorsement: former congressman and 2008 Ron Paul supporter Barry Goldwater, Jr. In Delaware, first term incumbent Karen Stewart faces a challenge from Republican Brian Mobley, a financial planner. The LP candidate, David Eisenhour, suspended his campaign in mid-October and endorsed Mobley. In Washington state, incumbent Mike Kreidler is a solid favorite over Republican John Adams. All three incumbents have raised considerably more money than their challengers.
The lone Republican up for re-election is North Dakota's Adam Hamm, a heavy favorite over Democrat Tom Potter.
It's unlikely, then, that the elections will result in any changes.
The race to replace Douglas is between Republican Kent Leonhardt, a retired Marine Lt. Colonel and farmer, and Democrat Walt Helmick, a state senator and bottled water distributor. Leonhardt has the endorsements of the Charleston, Wheeling, and Huntington newspapers, and the Farm Bureau. Texas Governor Rick Perry recently stumped the state for him. Douglas has so far not endorsed Helmick. No polling, but this looks like Leonhardt's race.
In Indiana, Democrats got a pleasant surprise when a recent Howey/DePauw poll showed challenger Glenda Ritz, a teacher, trailing GOP incumbent Tony Bennett by just 4 points. And the teacher's union would love to take out Bennett, who has promoted merit pay, vouchers, and a rapid expansion of charter schools since winning the office with just 51% in 2008. But the Howey poll was very favorable to Democrats across the Board in the Hoosier state. Unless they're on to something other pollsters have missed, Bennett is probably fine.
The only other seat up for election this year is in North Carolina, where Republican Incumbent Steve Troxler has maintained a steady 10 point lead in polling against Democrat Walter Smith.
Of the 38 states that make this an appointed positions, 21 are Democrats and 17 Republicans, giving the GOP an 28-22 edge. That edge is likely to grow by one to three offices as a result of the two elections above, and gubernatorial elections this year.
OTHER RACES OF NOTE:
Although Filner's labor support gives him an overall financial edge, DeMaio has raised nearly $3.5 million to Filner's $1 million for his actual campaign committee, and is also getting support from some Super PACs. The business establishment has rallied behind him, including Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, a major Obama supporter. A win for DeMaio could be the highlight of the night for hardcore libertarians, and it would be an important marker for an inclusive, national GOP.
Another California Mayoral race is interesting only for demonstrating the shamelessness of politicians and cravenness of voters: Democrat Ann Johnston is favored to win re-election as Mayor of Stockton, the largest city in U.S. history to go bankrupt, which it did on her watch. Her opponent is Republican Anthony Silva.
In Louisiana, Republicans hope City Councilman Mike Walker can take the Mayor's office from two-term incumbent Kip Holden. Holden has the lead but Walker is spending a lot of money. Holden has hosted Louis Farrakhan, which is a bit of a campaign issue. Otherwise lots of mayor's seats are up, but few are likely to change party control or offer much drama.
North Carolina has an interesting race for Superintendent of Education, where Republican John Tedesco trails incumber June Atkinson by 2 points in a late October poll. Atkinson is a career teacher endorsed, of course, by the NCEA as well as Emily's List, the AFL-CIO, and something called the Durham People's Alliance. Tedesco is a member of the Wake County School Board (the 16th largest school district in the country) and the President of the North Carolina Center for Education Reform. Tedesco, formerly a manager at Big Brothers/Big Sisters, defeated a prominent liberal teacher to win his seat on the County Board. The far left hates Tedesco, and calls him John "Tea Party" Tedesco, so he must be doing something right. This looks like a stark alternative for voters in the Tarheel State.
North Carolina also has a hot race for Labor Commissioner, where the wonderfully named Republican Incumbent, Cherie Berry, has a single digit lead in polls against Democrat John Brooks. The 75 year old Brooks, currently a staff attorney with state Industrial Commission, held the office from 1977 to 1992. Berry has a lot more cash and should hold on in a race that has focused on workplace safety.
In Alabama, Republicans hope to take out the last statewide Democratic officeholder, Public Service Commissioner Lucy Baxley. Baxley barely beat Twinkle Cavanaugh in 2008, and Cavanaugh is back for a rematch. The PSC regulates utilities in the state. Deregulation through the legislature has made this a relatively powerless position, so this is a symbolic target for both parties. Cavanaugh has sought to tie Baxley to President Obama, who is very unpopular in the state.
In Montana, the Republicans 3-2 edge on the state Public Service Commission is up for grabs as three seats are up for election. Republican Kirk Bushman takes on Democrat Chuck Tooley to replace term-limited GOP Commissioner Brad Molnar. But even if Bushman loses, Republicans can keep control by knocking either Democratic incumbents Gail Gutsche or Bob Vincent. What all this might mean isn't entirely clear. In a reversal from the usual roles, liberals have criticized Gutsche for being too soft on utility companies, while her Republican opponent, state senator Bob Lake, is lauded as "an advocate who will crack down on utilities." The contrast is more traditional is the final race, where Republican Roger Koopman says he is running to "protect property rights" while Democratic incumbent John Vincent seeks more power for the PSC to "protect utility ratepayers."
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November 03, 2012
Price Gouging Laws in Action
Reason.tv chronicles the consequences of laws against so-called price gouging--aka price controls--in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It's a shame so many folks have to be victimized first by the storm and then by economically illiterate politicians.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:58 PM
November 02, 2012
Downticket: Secretaries of State
This is a third posting on down ticket races this year, for hard-core junkies who want to know what's going on around the country beyond the presidential and U.S. House and Senate races. Today we're focused on Secretaries of State.
Secretary of State is traditionally a boring position dealing with corporate filings and the like, but in the last decade it has become a highly fought over office because, in most states, the Secretary is the state's highest election official.
47 states have such an office: 28 are held by Republicans, 19 by Democrats.
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Thirty-five of these seats are elected independently, and they are held 20 for Republicans, and 15 for Democrats. Only one of the appointed seats might change hands as a result of the elections this year. In Maine, the legislature chooses the Secretary of State, and Democrats hope to recapture the legislature this year. If so, they'll probably oust incumbent Chuck Sumner, who tried to abolish same day voter registration in the state, a pet Democratic cause.
Seven states have elections for the office in 2012. Four of these races appear competitive.
In Missouri, Democrat Robin Carnahan is stepping down. The race to succeed her is between two state reps, Democrat Jason Kander, an Afghan War vet, and Republican Shane Schoeller. Kander promises to use the office to press for campaign finance reform; Schoeller promotes voter ID laws. Kander says he wants to make it easier to start small businesses in Missouri; Schoeller, a former lobbyist for the Home Builders Association, promises to reduce business regulation. Both have raised and spent over $1 million in a hotly contested race. The LP has nominated Cisse Spragins, a chemist who owns a business manufacturing sanitation and pest control products. The Constitution Party also has a candidate on the ballot. Polls have shown Schoeller with a small but consistent lead in a state that has been trending Republican, and this is definitely a possible GOP pick-up.
Republicans also hope for a pick-up in Montana, which is a rematch of the 2008 race between Democrat Linda McCulloch, and the Republican she ousted from the office, Brad Johnson. McCulloch won that race 49-48% of the vote, with a Constitution Party candidate peeling off votes from Johnson's right flank. In that race, McCulloch got major financial support from the Secretary of State Project, a Soros-funded left-wing effort to place "progressives" into Secretary of State offices around the country in an effort to be in control of state election procedures. Before entering politics, she was a teacher for over 20 years. Johnson, a small business owner, is campaigning on voter ID laws, and ending Montana's same day registration as an anti-fraud measure. A pair of October polls showed McCulloch ahed by 1 and 2 points, respectively. Libertarian Roger Roots has done almost no campaigning and doesn't even have a website, but polled 8 percent in one poll and could be a wild card.
In North Carolina, Democrat Elaine Marshall is seeking a fifth 4-year term. Republican Ed Goodwin is a farmer, county commissioner, and former international weapons inspector for the Air Force. Marshall has a lot more money and has had a consistent 5 to 10 point lead in the polls. She ought to win on Tuesday but it's not a given.
Finally, in Washington state Republican Sam Reed is stepping down after 3 terms. Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman is the GOP candidate, against former state rep Kathleen Drew. As usual, the candidates are fighting it out over voter ID. Wyman has the endorsement not only of Reed and former GOP Secretary of State Bruce Chapman, but also longtime Democratic SecState Ralph Munro, and the Washington Education Association. An October poll by Elway had this race a dead heat, with almost a third of voters undecided.
In Vermont, Democrat Jim Condos faces only token third party opposition from the left-wing Liberty Union party. In Oregon, incumbent Democrat Kate Brown leads Republican Knute Buehler, a physcian and Rhodes Scholar, by 15 points in a pair of October polls. Buehler has raised a lot more money but seems unlikely to win. There are also Green and Progressive Party candidates in the race. In West Virginia, incumbent Democrat Natalie Tenant faces a low key race against Republican Brian Savilla, a state rep. There is no polling in the race, and neither candidate has raised or spent much money. Tenant should win but Savilla could surprise as the state trends more and more Republican.
Overall, there should be little change in the partisan make up of Secretaries of State.
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May the Low Marginal Tax Rate Be With You
From the WSJ's marketwatch blog:
That Lucas struck a deal in 2012 may be no accident either, advisers say. Long-term capital gains tax from the sale of assets held more than one year are taxed at a rate of 15% for investors in the 25% income tax bracket or above (Lucas’s level), and zero for investors in the 10% or 15% bracket. Those rates are set to jump to 20% and 10%, respectively in January. “He probably wanted to take advantage of the lower rate on long-term capital gain while it’s certain,” says Bill Smith, managing director at CBIZ MHM, a national accounting and professional services provider.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:18 AM
November 01, 2012
Down Ticket: State Attorney General Races
In this post, I review 2012 races for state Attorney General positions.
State races for Attorney General have gained increased attention in recent years, not only because of the power that state attorneys general wield, but because these high profile positions are excellent stepping stones to higher office (the political joke, of course, is that "AG" is short for "Aspiring Governor.") Unfortunately, AG is increasingly a position where demogogues and abusers of power congregate to build reputations as "crime fighters" and "protectors of consumers."
Currently, each major party holds 25 AG's offices. Republicans lead 22-21 among AGs in elected office - 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans are in states which fill the position through appointment by governors, state legislatures, or the state supreme court. Ten seats are up for election, 6 held by Democrats and 4 by Republicans.
Here's the rundown on these 10 seats, in alphabetical order:
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1. In Indiana, Republican incumbent Greg Zoeller faces attorney Kay Fleming. Through Oct. 15, Zoeller had outraised Fleming $367,000 to $17,000, and had $423,000 cash on hand to Fleming's $2000. That pretty much tells us who's going to win. Zoeller has been a mixed bag for liberty. He has successfully defended a school choice law and defunding Planned Parenthood, but has been ferociously anti-free speech.
2. In Missouri, Democratic incumbent Chris Koster is being challenged by Republican Ed Martin, Chief of Staff to former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. Martin has launched a vigorous challenge. However, after a couple of August polls showed Koster's lead within the margin of error, Koster was able to use his superior fundraising, and some poor displays of temper by Martin, to open a sizeable lead in late October polls taken by PPP (48-38) and Mason-Dixon (51-37). With Martin down to $23,000 cash on hand at the end of October, he won't have anything for a late blitz, and Koster is likely to hold the seat.
Substantively, Koster got the NRA's endorsement. But his website brags that he holds the Missouri record for prevailing wage prosecutions, and, like too many AGs, seems to have little concern civil rights. Martin has gained campaign support from both Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, but his campaign has been more based on charges of ethics violations than substantive social conservative or libertarian issues. There is a Libertarian in this race, David Browning, who picked up 4% of the vote in a 3 way congressional race in 2008. Browning has a website up but has spent less than $500 on the race.
3. In Montana, incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock is running for Governor, leaving an open seat to be contested between Democrat Pam Bucy, a Department of Labor attorney, and Republican Tim Fox, who lost a close race to Bullock in 2008.
This looks like a probable GOP pick-up, with Fox holding a steady lead of about 10 points in admittedly limited polling. Fox has benefited from over $500,000 in spending by SpeechNow groups (aka "Super PACs") and has a big edge in name recognition from his 2008 campaign. Bucy, who benefits from police union support, seems like a sensible enough person, with periodic time off to bash corporate personhood and "gender inequity" in insurance, and to argue for "fair" wages, and "cultural awareness training." Fox has the NRA endorsement - no small thing in Montana - and that of the Chamber of Commerce. He has pledged to battle against Obamacare.
4. In North Carolina, Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper is unopposed.
5. In 2012, no Republican filed for the primary in Oregon's AG race. Oregon's Democratic AG John Kroger then won the GOP primary as a write in candidate. Kroger announced early he would step down this year, but again no Republican filed for the primary. Ellen Rosenblum easily won the Democratic primary, but this time a Republican, property rights lawyer James Buchal, won the GOP nomination as a write-in.
Rosenblum's primary win came over Dwight Holton, a union-supported hack whom Kroger had endorsed. Rosenblum, in contrast, is a classic progressive good-government type: "my reason for [running] was to be the People’s Attorney General. That means advocating for and protecting Oregon’s most vulnerable citizens — seniors, families, and kids." Gag. But Rosenblum will appeal to many libertarians on social issues, being pro-same sex marriage, pro-abortion rights, and supportive of Oregon's medical marijuana law, which got her major financial support from the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug law reform group. Before running, Rosenblum spent nearly two decades as a judge in the state courts, the last 7 on the Court of Appeals. After the primary, Kroger resigned early to take the presidency of Reed College, and the state's Democratic governor appointed Rosenblum to fill in the last months of his term. Since then, Rosenblum has been running an incumbent's campaign, basically ignoring her challenger and trying to suggest that the race is a fait accompli, refusing to debate Buchal.
Nevertheless, Buchal, a graduate of Harvard and Yale, has run a scrappy, if underfunded campaign, stressing government downsizing and reform, fighting federal encroachments on state power, and protecting property rights. And he's criticized Rosenblum for not being strongly enough in favor of liberalizing drug laws. "I believe that people are not cows owned by the State farm, who can only eat what the State gives them, or take the pills the State wants them to take. My opponent claims that she will protect the rights of medical marijuana patients, but as a Court of Appeals judge wasted our tax dollars promoting the prosecution of a patient who simply shared her marijuana with her boyfriend."
Limited polling from early-summer showed Rosenblum with a double digit, but not insurmountable lead. There's been nothing since. Buchal would be great for libertarians, Rosenblum is already an improvement over her predecessor. There is a Progressive, Chris Henry, and a cross-endorsed Libertarian/Constitution Party nominee, James Luenberger, a former Deputy AG in Idaho. Given the positions of Rosenblum and Buchal, however, it's hard to see why voters would feel the need to vote for the third party competitors. Democrats should hold this seat, but its not inevitable that they will.
6. Pennsylvania changed it's AG office from appointed to elected in 1978, and no Democrat has ever won the office since. This could be the year. Incumbent Linda Kelly is not running. That leaves Cumberland County DA David Freed to try to hold the seat for Republicans against former Lackawanna County Assistant DA Kathleen Kane, who upset former Congressman Pat Murphy in the primary.
Although Freed had no primary opponent and Republican Governor Tom Corbett made Freed's election his top political priority in 2012, Freed has been a lackluster fundraiser, raising a little over $700,000 through September, to Kane's $1,800,000. He's also been a lackluster campaigner, trailing Kane by an average of about 10 points in the polls. Kane ran Hillary Clinton's campaign in the state in 2008 and Bill Clinton has been in to campaign for her. On the issues, there is relatively little difference between the two. Marakay Rogers is the LP candidate, arguing for decriminalizing marijuana and abolishing the death penalty.
It looks like Democrats will finally break through and claim the Pennsylvania AG's office.
7. Utah. John Swallow is heavily favored to keep this open seat in the Republican column. His opponents are Democrat Dee Smith and Libertarian Andrew McCullough.
8. In Vermont, long-time AG Bill Sorrell, first appointed to the position by then-Gov. Howard Dean, should hold his seat against Republican challenger Jack McMullen. But McMullen, a Harvard Law grad and former Board member of Vermont's libertarian state think tank, the Ethan Allen Institute, has run a well-financed campaign. He has some name recognition from being the sacrificial lamb in the 2004 Senate race against Pat Leahy. He also ran in 1998, losing the GOP primary after being unable to identify the correct number of teats on a cow during a debate - an event that could probably only happen in Vermont. McMullen's big issues have been tort reform and drugs (he wants to decriminalize marijuana, and crack down on harder drugs). Sorrell is pretty terrible on every issue. There has been no polling in the race. The fact that Sorrell barely survived a bruising primary gives some Republicans hope, but realistically, this is Vermont. a Progressive candidate, Ed Stanek, could take votes from Sorrell.
9. The Democrats will try for another pick-up in Washington state, where GOP incumbent Rob McKenna is running for governor. Their candidate is Bob Ferguson, a member of the King County Council, where he sits next to his Republican opponent, Reagan Dunn, also a Council member. Ferguson has run a issueless campaign, while Dunn is a "tough on crime" candidate, and there's not much for a libertarian leaning voter to differentiate the two. Dunn, who has more legal experience, has picked up most newspaper endorsements, including the very liberal Seattle Times. Ferguson has the cops union behind him.
Polling has swung wildly in this race, with Dunn up 9 in a September 9 poll from Survey USA, and Ferguson up 13 in a September 12 poll by Elway Research. The latest poll, taken last week by Elway, had Ferguson up 2. Ferguson got a lot more votes in Washington's "top 2 primary," and that and the state's Democratic lean suggest a Ferguson victory. But Dunn had a big cash advantage heading into the home stretch and was also benefiting from some $2.5 million in spending by Karl Rove's Crossroads. My best guess is a Democratic pick-up, but if McKenna does well, or the presidential race is called for Romney early in the evening, Ferguson could be in trouble.
10. First elected in 1992, West Virginia's Darrell McGraw is the second longest serving AG in the nation. McGraw, who turns 76 two days after the election, was re-elected by less than 1 percent in both 2004 and 2008. The Competitive Enterprise Institute rated him the 5th worst AG in the nation in a 2010 report, giving him failing grades for "fabricating law," "usurping legislative power," and "predatory practices," and Ds for "ethical breaches" and "selective application of the law."
But McGraw has drawn a relatively weak opponent, Patrick Morrissey, a D.C. lawyer with King & Spalding who only moved to West Virginia in 2006 and gained admittance to the West Virginia bar 4 days before declaring his candidacy. Morrissey says if elected he will reallocate resources to create an "Office of Federalism and Freedom" within the AG's office. He is attacking McGraw on ethics and using his office to foster excessive regulation. McGraw had a big lead in an early summer poll - the only public poll - but Morrissey has raised more money and claims his internal polling shows the race is nearly even. With Romney expected to roll President Obama at the top of the ticket, Morrissey has a chance, and would definitely be preferable from a libertarian perspective.
Overall, look for little change in the partisan composition of the nation's AGs. Republicans and Democrats should swap the Montana and Pennsylvania seats, and Democratic odds of picking up Washington are pretty good.
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2012 Elections: Governors
Political focus this time of year is heavily on the presidential race, and less so on U.S. Senate and House, with virtually no attention given to lower races and ballot issues. For political junkies, in the next few days I'll review of a few of those lower profile races. Nothing fancy, just the basics.
We'll start today with governors and lieutenant governors.
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Most governors are elected in non-presidential years, but eleven seats are up this year. Currently, there are 29 Republican governors, 20 Democrats, and 1 Independent (former liberal Republican Linc Chafee of Rhode Island). Republicans look likely to add to their majority.
The GOP’s near sure pickup is in North Carolina, where Pat McCrory, the popular former Mayor of Charlotte (9 terms!) has held a double digit lead over Lt. Governor Walter Dalton in every poll since late August. McCrory is highly regarded for leading Charlotte into the ranks of America’s first tier cities, while Dalton is tarred by his association with outgoing Governor Bev Purdue, who decided not to seek re-election in the face of declining approval and poll ratings. Purdue narrowly beat McCrory in 2008, but it looks like the second time's a charm for the former Mayor. The Libertarian candidate is Barbara Howe, Chair of the state party.
Republicans also hope to pick up a seat in Montana, where former congressman Rick Hill faces the state’s demagogic Attorney General, Steve Bullock. Born in a one-room apartment over the family’s tire repair shop, Hill is a true American success story. His congressional career marked him as a fairly typical western GOP congressman, mildly libertarian on economic issues, land use, school choice and the like, a “traditional values” guy on social issues. Bullock, a graduate of Columbia Law, is a populist in the Montana tradition of Burton Wheeler and Mike Mansfield, and comes down on the statist side of pretty every issue one can think of. Bullock is outspending Hill and a state court recently froze $500,000 in funds that Hill had received from the state party, but Super PACs have kept spending competitive. There has been surprising little polling for such a competitive race: a Mason-Dixon poll in mid-September had Bullock up 1; a PPP poll in mid-October had Hill up by 1. Romney is expected to take Montana by 10-12 points and that could pull Hill over the finish line. Pawn shop owner John Vandevender is the Libertarian Party candidate, running on a very un-libertarian platform calling for “protecting Montana’s businesses” and keeping business chains out of the state.
Republicans are also bullish about New Hampshire, where conservative favorite Ovide Lamontagne is locked in a see-saw battle with Maggie Hassan. Since the beginning of October, the various polls in the state have gone, in chronological order: Lamontagne +4; Hassan +2; Lamontagne +2; Hassan +2; Hassan +8; Lamontagne +2; Tie; Hassan +4; Hassan +5. Neither candidate has hit 50 percent, although Hassan is getting close in the last two polls – but those polls, by Marist and PPP, have had more Democratic tilts than most pollsters this year. Lamontagne was Americans for Prosperity “Conservative of the Year” in 2011, and his issue page barely mentions the so-called social issues. He would probably be one of the nation’s more libertarian governors. Hassan has promised to veto any sales or income tax (New Hampshire still has neither), and was instrumental in passing same-sex marriage through the state senate. Unfortunately, she is a big supporter of state regulation in the name of controlling greenhouse gases. But whoever wins, New Hampshire will probably continue to do better than most states. Businessman John Babiarz is on the ballot for the fourth time as the LP candidate, for those who don’t find Hassan or Lamontagne libertarian enough.
One other seat that could change hands is Washington, where Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna is in a tight fight with liberal Democratic congressman Jay Inslee. No libertarians in this race, but Inslee is totally statist, and McKenna only somewhat so. Although the lead has swung back and forth, neither candidate has led by more than 3 points in October polling.
Other states are unlikely to change party control. Missouri and West Virginia are states in which Republicans should be competitive, but aren’t. Incumbent Earl Ray Tomblin is favored over Republican Bill Maloney in the latter, while incumbent Jay Nixon is favored over Republican Dave Spence in Missouri. Both challengers are close enough to be election night surprises if there is a huge Republican wave, but don’t count on it.
In Delaware, Democratic incumbent Jack Markell should have no trouble with Republican Jeff Craig and three minor party candidates, including Libertarian Jesse McVay. Another small state with liberal leanings, Vermont, should easily return incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin. Shumlin is polling 30 or so points up on Republican State Senator Randy Brock, in a race that includes 3 minor party candiates, including Cris Ericson of the U.S. Marijuana Party, which I didn't even know existed.
In Indiana, libertarian-friendly Republican Mike Pence is heavily favored to hold Mitch Daniels’ seat against former state House speaker John Gregg. Utah will almost certainly retain Republican Governor Gary Herbert over Democrat Peter Cooke, Libertarian Ken Larsen, and Constitution Party nominee Kirk Pierson. And in North Dakota, incumbent Republican Jack Darymple is 20 points up in the polls against Democrat Ryan Taylor. Roland Reimers, a Libertarian running as an independent, is also on the ballot.
Look for Republicans to emerge from next week’s elections with a slightly expanded majority of governors, somewhere between 30 and 32.
As for lieutenant governors, 44 states have them (6 manage to make do without, and one wonders if more shouldn't follow their lead). 30 of 44 are currently Republicans.
Five states (Delaware, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont and Washington) will elect Lieutenant governors this year separately from their governor's race.
The most likely of those 5 seats to change partisan control is probably North Carolina, where Republican Dan Forest holds a very narrow polling lead over Democrat Linda Coleman for the seat being vacated by Democrat Walter Dalton. Forest is the son of congresswoman Sue Myrick, and shares her general conservative Republican positions. Coleman is an African-American named state personnel director by Governor Perdue. She was previously a state representative. Both candidates are being groomed for bigger things, and whoever wins will be well positioned to pursue higher office in the state, so this race matters.
Another seat which might change hands is Missouri, where incumbent Republican Peter Kinder is having all kinds of trouble. Kinder was considering a run for governor when a sex scandal derailed that ambition this spring. Deciding to run for re-election, he had a contentious primary in which he beat Brad Lager 43.8% to 41.2%. He drew as an opponent former State Auditor Susan Montee, who has good name recognition. Then the Constitution party nominated Cynthia Davis, a Republican state representative from 2002-2010, who is capable of stealing votes from Kinder's right flank. Nevertheless, an October 25 poll from Mason-Dixon showed Kinder up 46-41%. Matt Copple, a software engineer, represents the LP.
Vermont's Lt. Guv is - surprise - a Republican, Phil Scott, who owns a construction company and is a sometimes stock car driver. Scott's not exactly a Tea Party Republican. As his web site says in all earnestness: "Have you heard the expression, 'I’m from the government, and I’m here to help?' Usually, this is meant sarcastically – but Lt. Governor Scott takes it seriously." He is endorsed by the Vermont Education Association. There's no reason he should lose to Cassandra Gekas, a former women's studies major at Penn State and lobbyist for Public Interest Research Group, and he's got a lot more money, but anything can happen. I suppose if I were a Vermonter, I'd want a sane person next in line for the governorship, and Scott seems closer to that profile. Ben Mitchell of the Liberty Union party (his top issue is "socialized energy") is in the race if the others aren't liberal enough for you.
In Delaware, incumbent Democrat Matthew Denn should win, although Repbulican nominee Sher Valenzuela was given a relatively prominent speaking slot at the GOP convention in Tampa. Valenzuela and her husband own a small manufacturing company. Libertarian Marjie Waite McKeown is also on the ballot. And in Washington, Democratic incumbent Brad Owen has a steady double digit lead over Republican challenger Bill Finkbeiner, a former State Senator who is now "an entrepreneur specializing in sustainable development."
The most likely outcome is no change or a Republican pickup of one (North Carolina). But the Democrats could net a couple seats if things break right in Vermont, Missouri, and North Carolina.
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Incentives Matter: Looming Tax Hike Edition
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 01:16 PM
Should Voting Be Mandatory?
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:47 PM
Shifting the Median Voter
And the votes have been bought in advance:
Fernandez has courted young voters since being elected in 2007, naming members of the government-aligned “La Campora” youth group to top positions and tapping funds from the social security agency to provide students with free laptops.
Of course the way Argentina is being misgoverned, the age will probably need to drop to 14 in time for the subsequent election.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 12:45 PM
Crazy Barry's Car Lot
Funny vid but sad reality.
Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 08:35 AM
The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith
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