William Dudley Pelley: America’s Wannabe Hitler

The Nazis in Germany inspired certain organizations to form in the Americas inspired by them during Hitler’s rule. These included Adrien Arcand’s Christian National Socialist Party in Canada which wanted all Jews deported to the Hudson Bay region, former brigadier general under Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa Nicolás Rodriguez Carrasco’s Revolutionary Mexicanist Action (known as the “Gold Shirts”), which wanted to deport Jews and Chinese. The American version was the Silver Legion (known as the “Sliver Shirts”) headed up by William Dudley Pelley (1890-1965).


Pelley from an early age had a talent for writing and at the age of 19 he started his first publication, called The Philosopher, which focused on Christianity. He eventually found work with the Saturday Evening Post and covered the Russian Civil War. His experiences caused him to develop a strong sense of anti-Communism and anti-Semitism.

Off to Hollywood

After his experiences in Russia, Pelley went to work in Hollywood as a screenwriter, writing two dozen scripts, which included two Lon Chaney films, The Light in the Dark (1922) and The Shock (1923). Two of his short stories, The Face in the Window (1920) and The Continental Angle (1930), won O. Henry Awards. In 1927, Pelley left Hollywood, disillusioned with what he saw as Jews making changes to his writing and cited the casting couch as another reason for leaving, writing, “Do you think me unduly incensed about them? I’ve seen too many Gentile Women ravished and been unable to do anything about it. They have a concupiscent slogan in screendom. Don’t hire till you see the whites of their thighs!” (Zillis) The following year, Pelley wrote “Seven Minutes in Eternity”, in which he detailed a near-death out-of-body experience.


Establishing the Silver Legion


The day after Hitler was named Germany’s chancellor, January 21, 1933, Pelley established the Silver Legion of America. As he recounted on learning that Hitler had been elected chancellor in the newspapers, “I looked at the lines. I read them again. I sought to comprehend them. Something clicked in my brain!” (Elliston) Its members wore silver outfits with blue ties, blue corduroy pants, and a red “L” embroidered on the top left of their shirts, the L standing for love, loyalty, and liberation (Beekman, 82). They used the Battle Hymn of the Republic as their anthem. Pelley proposed a system, that he called the Christian Commonwealth in his book No More Hunger! (1933). As Scott Beekman (2006) writes, “Pelley claimed that the Commonwealth was “a social system that is neither Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, or Communism.” In fact, the Commonwealth blended elements of all these ideas into a composite not unlike the ideas expressed by his adolescent hero Edward Bellamy and the iconoclastic Populist-Social Gospeler Richard T. Ely. The system meshed a theocratic, corporate state; centralized production control of government-owned industry; civil service-style employment protection with private ownership of personal property; and an all-encompassing social welfare program” (83). He was, in other words, a sort of utopian whose philosophy could probably best fit with the Populists of the 1890s, who themselves were inspired by Bellamy’s utopian novel, Looking Backward, 2000-1887. Pelley wished for a society with “no competition, no taxes, no rents, no interest, no currency, no foreclosures, no crime, no banks and no Jews” (Rasmussen). Pelley’s utopia was far from for all. He held that the property government held should be given to white citizens, the portions being based on loyalty, with Jews allowed only to live in one city in every state and blacks put back into slavery (Daley). Pelley was also rather contradictory, as although he did not claim his system was fascist, he personally embraced the labels of “fascist” and “Nazi”. For a time his publication Weekly Liberation’s masthead read, “Washington was a Fascist because he led an insurrection against tyranny, and Lincoln was a Nazi because his issue of greenbacks smashed the control of Jewish financiers” (Beekman, 95). Actual connections between him, his group, and Nazi Germany were minor, as the Nazis were not keen on having that group any closer than arm’s length.

Pelley was also a mystic who claimed to have been visited by Jesus, and of course he gave Pelley his blessing. The organization’s pledge was to “respect and sustain the sanctity of the Christian Ideal, to nurture the moral tradition in Civic, Domestic and Spiritual life and the culture of the wholesome, natural and inspirational in Art, Literature, Music and Drama; to adulate and revere an aristocracy of Intellect, Talent and Characterful Purpose in the Body Politic; to sponsor and acclaim aggressive ideals and pride of Craftsmanship rather than the golden serpent of profit, that the lowliest individual may aspire to a life of fullest flower; to exalt Patriotism and Pride of Race, and in the interest of progress and evolution, to recognize the integrity of every nation and seek to perceive his place in the Fellowship of Peoples” (Beekman, 82). The most prominent member he got into his organization for a short time was Gerald L.K. Smith, an anti-Semitic rabblerousing minister who ran Huey Long’s Share The Wealth Organization.
Although the organization was centered in Asheville, North Carolina as he got funding from a wealthy backer in the city, the bulk of its members lived on the west coast, he was an outcast in Asheville, and membership hit its peak in 1935, with the organization only being 15,000 strong (Beekman). This was a far cry from Pelley’s claim of having 100,000 followers.

He described his views on Jews as akin to the Nazis and regarded Christianity and anti-Semitism as 100% compatible. His ultimate goals were to have all Jews live in only one city in each state and force Roosevelt out of power, as he thought that he was a tool of Jews. The San Diego branch wanted to go a bit further than Pelley was planning at the time, actually planning a putsch on City Hall without Pelley’s knowledge (Hall, 3). He ran for president on a third-party ticket known as The Christian Party, but it was a flop as he only appeared on the ballot in Washington State, where got 1,598 votes. Pelley attributed this poor performance and his exclusion from all but one state ballot to Jewish influence. He and his Silver Shirts were by and large not taken seriously in the 1930s, with an Asheville Times editorial holding, “We have seen the Silver Shirt movement for what it is. In laughing at it, we laugh at others who find it a menace to the Republic” (Elliston). Pelley proved unable to get along with other extremists of his stripe due to personality conflicts as well as those people just tiring of his bizarre mysticism. The group’s membership fell to 5,000 in 1938. As James Zillis (2020) writes, “The most the Silver Shirts amounted to was the ability to secure a cache of weapons and ammunition and be mildly intimidating”.


Legal Problems

Pelley’s activities attracted a lot of negative attention, including from Congress through the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the law. In 1934, Pelley was indicted with two others for advertising the sale of stock not registered with the state of North Carolina among other legal breaches. Although he was acquitted of the main charge the following year, he was sentenced on two lesser charges to 1-2 years of hard labor suspended if good behavior was maintained for five years (Beekman, 109). The former heard testimony from witnesses that the Silver Legion of America intended to overthrow the United States government and in 1940 Pelley himself appeared before the committee, now under the chairmanship of Martin Dies (D-Tex.), after previously refusing to testify and said that he wished to be “America’s Hitler” (Schultz). As might be expected, he opposed U.S. intervention in World War II on the side of the Allies.


The End of Pelley in Public Life

In 1941, Pelley disbanded the Silver Legion, claiming that he was doing so because the Dies Committee was doing such a good job in its anti-communist efforts (Daley). The following year, he was indicted and convicted for sedition and treason for promoting insubordination among American troops through his writings and imprisoned until 1950, serving half of his original sentence. Another legal effort against him in the form of the Great Sedition Trial of 1944, fell flat as the prosecution was unable to prove coordination between Nazi Germany and the defendants after the declaration of war. After his release, Pelley became a major believer in UFOs and formed a new religious ideology he called “Soulcraft” but steered clear of politics until his death.

Influence Extended and Conclusion

Pelley’s influence extended to certain other radical groups later on, including the Posse Comitatus, a survivalist anti-Semitic militia movement that was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1969 by Henry Lamont Beach, a former Silver Shirt. Their heterodox legal theories morphed into the broader sovereign citizen movement, an annoying and hazardous bane of law enforcement across the United States. Pelley was ultimately a flashy but minor figure even among extremist elements. Father Charles Coughlin with his radio program was a much greater influence in pushing public thought in a pro-Nazi direction than Pelley, but the latter created a movement that in America most resembled the Nazi storm troopers in style and organization.

References

Beekman, S. (2006, October 31). Pelley, William Dudley. American national biography. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Daley, J. (2018, October 3). The Screenwriting Mystic Who Wanted to Be the American Führer. Smithsonian Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/meet-screenwriting-mystic-who-wanted-be-american-fuhrer-180970449/

Elliston, J. (2018, January/February). Asheville’s Fascist: William Dudley Pelley’s Obscure But Infamous Silver Shirt Movement Lives on in his Paper Trail. WNC Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://wncmagazine.com/feature/asheville%E2%80%99s_fascist

Hall, A.C. (2019). Swastikas and Silver Shirts: The Dawn of American Nazism. Miami University.

Retrieved from

https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send?accession=miami1564692534498581&disposition=inline

Rasmussen, C. (1999, July 4). Self-Styled Prophet Hoped to Be Another Hitler. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-jul-04-me-52892-story.html

Schultz, W. William Dudley Pelley. North Carolina History Project.

Retrieved from

https://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/william-dudley-pelley-1885-1965/

Zillis, J. (2020, November 25). Fascism in 1930s America: The Silver Shirts. History is Now Magazine.

Retrieved from

http://www.historyisnowmagazine.com/blog/tag/William+Dudley+Pelley#.Y4BejxTMJO8

Frank J. Lausche: The Buckeye State Maverick

Ohio today is a state that leans Republican, no longer purple. This seemed the way of the state in 1944, and Thomas Dewey won the state that year. However, one figure defied the trend, and this was Democrat Frank J. Lausche (1895-1990) of Ohio. State Democrats of this era were not uniformly liberal, with officeholders in the 1930s and 1940s like Senators A. Vic Donahey and Robert Bulkley and Congressmen William Fiesinger, Arthur Lamneck, James G. Polk, and Robert Secrest sometimes to often defying the wishes of President Roosevelt. Lausche was not a change from this and gained fans among both Republicans and Democrats.


In 1941, he was elected mayor of Cleveland and in this post he was known for fiscal conservatism and promoting racial tolerance. Lausche was of Slovenian descent and managed to form an ethnic coalition that loyally supported him election after election. One of his earliest acts of independence was rebuffing Democrats who wanted him to fire Public Safety Director Eliot Ness, a Republican, for a Democrat. He served two terms and won his first statewide election in 1944, when he was the first Catholic to be elected Governor of Ohio. Although the 1946 GOP wave lost him reelection to Thomas J. Herbert by less than two points. However, Lausche triumphantly returned in the 1948 election by over seven points and won reelection in 1950, 1952, and 1954. Lausche maintained as governor his reputation for fiscal conservatism and honesty, much like Grover Cleveland. His reputation was so good by 1952 that both Dwight Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman (before he dropped out) considered him as a running mate. In 1955, Lausche stated his unequivocal endorsement of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) before the Ohio State Legislature, “We simply cannot live as a free people if we…chip away from any member of our society the guarantees given to him by the Lord…and then reaffirmed…in our Constitution” (Weil). In 1956, instead of running again for governor, he challenged Republican Senator George Bender and triumphed.

In the Senate, Lausche caused some trouble for Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, as he proved an independent vote and was one of the few Democrats outside of the South to be counted among the conservatives. His liberal critics called him “Frank the Fence” for frequently crossing party lines and arguably from a conservative perspective he was indeed preferable to his predecessor. This is backed by both his lifetime ADA score (without counting absences) of 30 as opposed to Bender’s 34 and his higher DW-Nominate score of 0.213, higher than Bender’s 0.179. In 1962, Lausche won reelection by over twenty points.
Lausche voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Medicare but against the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. He also voted against organized labor in his opposition to the bill repealing the “right to work” section of the Taft-Hartley Act. Lausche supported two Constitutional amendments in 1966, both sponsored by Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) to counter Supreme Court decisions, one of which permitted factors other than population to determine legislative representation in state legislatures, and the other which allowed school prayer. That year, he denounced rioting on Cleveland’s East Side, implying that it was “communist-inspired” and connected to the civil rights movement (UPI).

By 1968, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party was done with Lausche, a man who as a Democrat had crossed organized labor too many times. This resulted in his loss of renomination to former Congressman John J. Gilligan, a liberal who campaigned against him saying that he was “talking like a Republican and voting like a Dixiecrat” (UPI). Lausche subsequently refused to endorse Gilligan, who went on to narrowly lose to Republican State Attorney General William B. Saxbe. He also admitted to voting for Nixon in 1968 and often supported Republican candidates for office after his time in the Senate. By the time of his departure from office he was seventy-three years old and opted to retire from politics. Pope John Paul II gave him the highest civilian honor by naming him a Knight of St. John of Malta. Lausche was proud of his career, stating to a reporter in 1985, “I am thoroughly comfortable in the realization that I gave to the people of Ohio the best that was in me. My deepest contentment lies in the fact that, while I was governor and senator and mayor, government was managed, not by any separate and selfish clique, but always by the will of the people as a whole” (UPI).


In early 1990, Lausche contracted pneumonia and on April 21st, he died of heart failure. He was reportedly until the end of his days mentally sharp. Lausche’s memory is commemorated in Ohio as the State of Ohio’s office building in Cleveland is named after him and the Lausche Building at the Ohio Expo Center.

P.S.: I will be removing my 2019 posts shortly so they can be moved gradually to my other blog for updates and improvements. I am also going to be on vacation for about ten days starting Monday, so I will be posting multiple entries before then.

References

Frank J. Lausche. Ohio History Connection.

Retrieved from

https://ndnpohio.ohiohistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FrankLausche.pdf

Frank Lausche, former governor and senator, dies. (1990, April 21). UPI.

Retrieved from

https://www.upi.com/Archives/1990/04/21/Frank-Lausche-former-governor-and-senator-dies/5030640670400/

Weil, M. (1990, April 22). Frank Lausche, Ohio Senator and Governor, Dies at 94. The Washington Post.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1990/04/22/frank-lausche-ohio-senator-5-term-governor-dies-at-94/78a18220-f6df-4e5f-a747-474792d8adc8/

George H. Bender: The “Clown Prince” of Ohio Politics

Behind great men are great helpers, and example of one of these helpers was George H. Bender (1896-1961), who was the protege and aid to Senator Robert A. Taft. Bender got his start in politics quite early, and in 1912 at the age of 15 he was an early supporter of the idea of Theodore Roosevelt running on a third-party ticket and gathered 10,000 signatures for a petition to encourage him to run, which he gave Roosevelt personally (Hill). He along with most other Bull Moose Progressives returned to the Republican Party in 1916. Bender’s first major election win was to the Ohio Senate in 1920. During this time, he was something of a reformer and initially staunchly supported Prohibition, up until his house was raided on an anonymous tip. Then, he staunchly opposed Prohibition. In 1930, Bender decided to try his hand at Congress, and lost four times before finally being elected in 1938 to one of two At-Large Ohio districts, the same year Robert A. Taft was elected to the Senate.

Bender was a non-interventionist, voting against the repeal of the arms embargo, Lend-Lease, and arming merchant ships. He opposed most of the New Deal and became a consistent supporter of Senator Taft’s runs for the presidency. However, Bender proved more willing than many Republicans to maintain certain price controls. Although he supported the Taft-Hartley Act, he was also friendlier to organized labor than many Republicans. Bender voted against overriding President Roosevelt’s veto of the Smith-Connally Act for injunctions against strikes impacting war industries and he voted against the Case Labor Bill in 1946 only to vote to override President Truman’s veto later in the year.

In 1948 and 1952, Bender was the organizer of Taft’s campaigns for president, and he was the man to arrange the fun activities for supporters of the serious Taft. He arranged for singing, entertainment, and rang cow bells at every mention of Taft’s name at his events, which led some to mockingly label him the “clown prince”, despite him being a prominent figure in his own right.

Bender in the 80th Congress

In 1946, Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time since 1928, and Bender played a central role in two debates: the Greek-Turkish Aid Act and the poll tax ban. He ripped on the former, regarding it as a bailout of the British Empire. Bender proposed amendments to strike all aid to Turkey, to eliminate all military assistance, to require that Greece and Turkey hold fair and free elections permitting all adults to vote, and to explicitly affirm that the United States does not commit to intervention or unilateral action disregarding the UN, all being defeated by voice vote (CQ Almanac, Aid to Greece and Turkey). He voted against the bill while Senator Taft voted for. Bender would join Taft in voting for the Marshall Plan in 1948. However, Bender sponsored the poll tax ban, which would if enacted would “make it unlawful for any State, municipality, or other governmental subdivision to require payment of a poll tax as a prerequisite for registering or voting in any election for President, Vice President, Senator, or Member of the House of Representatives” (CQ Almanac, Anti-Poll Tax Bill). His bill passed the House 290-112, winning the support of all but fourteen House Republicans for passage. The legislation had previously met with a little additional opposition due to its sponsor being Vito Marcantonio (ALP-N.Y.), who was openly pro-communist, giving more room for Southerners to launch attacks connecting the legislation to communism. Bender was, of course, no communist and generally backed the conservative agenda of the 80th Congress, supporting the major measures such as income tax reduction, the Mundt-Nixon Bill, budget cuts to Agriculture, Interior, and Labor appropriations, and the Reed-Bulwinkle Bill. In the 1948 election, Bender had a temporary setback in losing reelection to Democrat Stephen Young, but he quickly made a comeback, winning back his seat in 1950.

During his next four years in Congress, Bender voted to grant states the title to offshore resources, voted against establishing the Cox Committee and for the Reece Committee, voted to maintain price controls but not rent controls. In 1952, it was Bender who asked the crowd before an Eisenhower speech after Nixon’s “Checkers” speech, “Are you in favor of Nixon?” and in response the crowd “went wild, screaming, whistling, and leaping from their seats.” (Olshaker).

Bender and the Eisenhower Years

In 1953, Senate Majority Leader Taft was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died on July 31st, leaving the seat open in a special election. Governor Frank Lausche appointed Democrat Thomas A. Burke as an interim replacement, but a special election was to be held in 1954 to serve the remainder of the term. Bender ran for the nomination and faced in the primary Ohio’s Speaker of the House of Representatives William B. Saxbe, a formidable moderate who called him an “old-style ward-heeler type of politician” and “the song-singing, bell-ringing voice of doom of the last two Republican national conventions” (Hill). Bender won the nomination with 57.4% of the vote to Saxbe’s 42.6%, but Saxbe would be elected to the Senate in 1968 and later briefly serve as President Nixon’s attorney general.

Bender faced stiff competition in the general election, as Democrat Thomas A. Burke, the interim replacement for the late Taft, was running to finish the term. Burke benefited from the support of popular Governor Frank Lausche as well as the usual midterm winds against the president’s party. However, Bender campaigned hard and was able to win a switch in endorsement from Burke from the powerful Teamsters Union. On Election Day, Bender won by less than 3,000 votes.

As a senator, he was a bit of a departure from Taft in the moderate direction. He voted against foreign aid cuts, for Davis-Bacon wages for the Interstate Highway project, for increased income allowances for old age benefits, and against eliminating authority from the Federal Power Commission to regulate the price of natural gas. He also opposed popular election of the president and vice president, US participation in the International Labor Organization if any communist nations were part of it, the civilian atomic power program, and the Hells Canyon Dam. Bender was also one of six senators to dissent on the Senate’s decision to postpone consideration of civil rights legislation until after the 1956 election.

In December 1955, Democratic Governor Frank Lausche announced he would challenge Bender. Lausche was a formidable foe as he had a reputation as a conservative Democrat and was popular with many Republicans. Although Bender campaigned as hard as he could and attached himself to the popular Eisenhower as much as possible, he lost by over five points with a significant number of Republicans splitting their tickets. Bender’s ADA score, when not counting absences against him, was a 34, and his DW-Nominate score a 0.179. He would afterward campaign heavily for Alaska statehood, which helped its statehood become a reality (Hill).

An End of Ignominy: The Teamsters and the McClellan Committee

In 1957, Senator John McClellan (D-Ark.) persuaded the Senate to form a committee investigating connections between organized labor and organized crime, which him as chairman and Robert F. Kennedy as counsel. In the course of the committee’s investigations, it was alleged that Bender had been investigating the Teamsters and dropped it upon winning their endorsement. In 1958, Jimmy Hoffa hired Bender to head up a three-man committee to conduct an “independent” investigation of racketeering in the Teamsters. The manner in which he conducted the investigation was described by TIME Magazine (1959) thusly, “Breaking an understanding with the other two commission members—a Detroit judge and a Washington lawyer—Bender went ahead on his own, using an investigative method roughly comparable to trying to solve a murder case by going to an open window and yelling, “Is anybody out there guilty?” To Teamster officials around the country—Hoffa’s own men—Bender sent a form letter asking for information about racketeering, if any. Back came brief, negative replies. That was that. Without even bothering to draft a written report, Bender informed Hoffa that everything seemed to be O.K. Hoffa announced Bender’s finding to the press”. This produced zero ousters of mob-connected figures in the Teamsters Union. He was thus called up to the McClellan Committee and his testimony proved damaging…to himself. Bender testified that he had named “a prostitute as Republican precinct captain in her red light district” and went on to state, “You don’t have to become a prostitute yourself, you have to get their votes” (Hill).

Bender’s role working for Hoffa and producing a whitewash outcome ended his political career. In 1960 he was denied a post as a delegate to the Republican National Convention and in 1961, he even lost an election to be a Republican Precinct Committeeman. Bender didn’t live long afterwards; his wife found him dead from a heart attack at home on June 18, 1961.

References

Aid to Greece and Turkey. CQ Almanac.

Retrieved from

https://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/document.php?id=cqal47-893-29543-1397927

Bender, George Harrison. Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Retrieved from

https://case.edu/ech/articles/b/bender-george-harrison


Hill, R. George H. Bender of Ohio. The Knoxville Focus.

Retrieved from

https://www.knoxfocus.com/archives/this-weeks-focus/george-h-bender-of-ohio/

Labor: Confessions, Anyone? (1959, January 5). TIME Magazine.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,810788,00.html

Mollenhoff, C. (1958, November). The Teamsters Defy the Government. The Atlantic.

Retrieved from

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1958/11/the-teamsters-defy-the-government/642644/

Motion to Adjourn for Five Minutes. Parliamentary Move to Bring Civil Rights Legislation to the Floor. (1956, July 24). Govtrack.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/84-1956/s213

Olshaker, E. The Speech That Made Nixon’s Dog Famous. History News Network.

Retrieved from

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/989

Republican Primary: May 4, 1954. Ohio Secretary of State Office.

Retrieved from

https://www.ohiosos.gov/elections/election-results-and-data/1950-1959-official-election-results/republican-primary-may-4-1954/

Send Out the Clowns! Analyzing the Underperformance of the GOP and My Own Predictions

Today’s post will also show up in mikeholme.substack.com, as had my prediction post. This election was a bit surprising, to say the least. I made a fundamental assumption about the nature of polling in this election that was wrong…that Democrats would for the fifth time in a row be overrepresented in polls. The opposite was true for the first time since 2012. My worst predictions were on gubernatorial races, in which I thought the wave might carry some of the Trumpy gubernatorial candidates to office in close races. No dice there. The 2022 midterms overall did not match the hype that was behind them by numerous Republican media sources. So far, Republicans in the Senate at best have an opportunity to keep their numbers at 50. The Democrat who took an open Republican seat, John Fetterman, was disabled from a stroke of which his campaign had covered up the true impact up until the Fetterman-Oz debate. The House is a rosier picture, as the GOP won a small majority. The Republicans are ahead in the remaining four races that have yet to be called, resulting, if no leads change, in a 222-213 Republican House. Republicans also lost a net of two governor races, with open seats being lost in Arizona, Maryland, and Massachusetts while they picked up one in Nevada. Very few incumbents lost in this election, and some of those were due to unfavorable redistricting (Tom O’Halleran in AZ-2, Steve Chabot in OH-1 for instance). I am going to go over the sources of blame, what I think are the foremost sources of blame and what are secondary. Only one governor and eight representatives lost reelection this year (so far, David Valadao of California is ahead but could still possibly lose).


Before I go through my blame list, a few observations about this election:

. How governors reacted to COVID has made almost no difference as to the outcome of elections. The only race in which it seemed to have impact was in Nevada.

. Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents pushed by former President Trump crashed and burned in state races.

. This was an amazingly good year to be an incumbent. So far, none have lost in the Senate, only Steve Sisolak of Nevada lost among governors, and in the House only eight incumbents so far have lost, with at least half being a great deal attributable to unfavorable redistricting.

Sources of Blame:

Donald Trump

I know there are some Republicans who will protest that Trump wasn’t on the ballot and that this is the MSM narrative. To those objections I say for the first that he didn’t need to be, and second, this time the narrative is backed by a load of evidence. He made himself an issue of the election as he cannot stand to be out of the limelight. Majorities of Republican primary voters across the nation made his word the deciding factor on their primary vote, and he used his influence to defeat primary campaigns of anyone who wouldn’t repeat his claim that the election was stolen from him and made this a litmus test for his endorsement. This is inexcusable and political malpractice. As Doug Heye, a GOP strategist said on the matter, “Candidates want the Trump endorsement. But if they can’t get that, they just want to have Trump not set their sights on them. The best way to do that is to be beholden to Trump. And the best way to do that is to say that he never lost” (Guest). Indeed, Trump was able to put the fear of God into many given that of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach him over 1/6, only one has been reelected and another, as of 11/19, may have been reelected. Primaried were Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois opted not to run again due to both unpopularity among the base and a partisan redistricting. Beutler’s district, WA-3, had reelected her by 13 points and the hyper-MAGA Republican who defeated her in the primary, Joe Kent, lost in 2022 by 1 point. This is a 14-point swing to Democrats in a Republican leaning district.

This Trumpian approach left opportunities open for Democrats to engage in a practice that was pioneered by Nixon’s dirty tricks people, a practice artfully called “ratfucking”, in which one party through messaging and funds promotes the candidate in the other party’s primary who is least likely to win a general election. The following Republican candidates who won their primaries because of this practice all claimed that Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election and then went on to defeat in the general were:

Don Bolduc, New Hampshire Senate
Karoline Leavitt, NH-1
Robert Burns, NH-2
Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania Governor
Tudor Dixon, Michigan Governor
Dan Cox, Maryland Governor
Darrell Bailey, Illinois Governor
John Gibbs, MI-3

The lesson for GOP primary voters? Don’t take the Democratic bait! Trump also promoted the candidacies of the following people in key races who repeated his stolen election claims and then went down to defeat:

Governor

Kari Lake, Arizona – No, Arizona is not conservative enough to elect another Evan Mecham. She has continued to contest the election after the race was called for Democrat Katie Hobbs. Maybe given Trump’s announcement for a 2024 run, he can pick her as his running mate. I can see it now: “Trump/Lake ’24: We can’t lose cos we never lose!”

Dan Cox, Maryland

Tudor Dixon, Michigan

Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania

Tim Michels, Wisconsin

Secretary of State

Mark Finchem, Arizona

Kristina Karamo, Michigan

Kim Crockett, Minnesota

Jim Marchant, Nevada

Audrey Trujillo, New Mexico

Senate

Blake Masters, Arizona – Someone else deserves more blame for him than Trump, who I will bring up later, but he did endorse him.

Don Bolduc, New Hampshire – Bolduc made a show of claiming that Trump was the rightful winner of the election, only to immediately drop it after winning the primary. This strategy didn’t work.

Adam Laxalt, Nevada (to be fair, other Republicans supported him in equal measure and has run for office since before Trump)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, Pennsylvania – Trump stepped in to endorse him, and this narrowly put him over Dave McCormick. Although Oz had a terrible start, perhaps he could have made up the difference had it not been for Mastriano at the head of the ticket. McCormick though was a normal Republican and up against a compromised Fetterman, he had a much better chance of victory.

It is also not lost on me that the only Republican to defeat a Democratic governor was Joe Lombardo in Nevada, who dodged when asked about Trump’s claims and was even threatened with a loss of endorsement for not calling him a “great President” in a debate (Dorman). Adam Laxalt, on the other hand, narrowly lost his Senate race and had strongly backed Trump on his claims right up to 1/6. In Arizona, Lake and Masters lost, but in all Arizona swing Congressional districts Republicans won. Another thing I’ve noticed, incidentally, is that most candidates who went along with Trump’s claims had no problems conceding their own losses, with Kari Lake being a notable exception. This tells me that this phenomenon mostly goes away when Trump does.

Another source of blame on Trump is that he went around delivering campaign speeches for others in which he mostly talked about himself. He also contributed far less money to his candidates through the MAGA super PAC to the tune of $14.8 million when he raised a total of $161 million than McConnell’s super PACs, which contributed $238 million into Senate races. J.D. Vance received $32 million from McConnell’s committees while Trump gave only $2.3 million, while Vance himself raised $7 million (Skinner).

Some wish to blame Mitch McConnell for the result (the usual suspects who wish to blame McConnell for things) and will point to spending in the Alaska Senate race as well as his pulling funds for Blake Masters in Arizona. For the Alaska race, McConnell contributed $6 million to Lisa Murkowski, a mere pittance compared to his levels of spending for Republican candidates including ones majorly pushed by Trump, but I suppose for his critics it’s a lot given that it is over 40% of what Trump’s PAC spent altogether for Republican candidates. For some candidates, there is no amount of money to be spent that can put them over the top if they have a popularity deficit. If this were true, Jeb Bush would have won the 2016 Republican primary and the elected president would have been him or Hillary Clinton.

Rick Scott

As head of the National Republican Senate Committee, Rick Scott badly mismanaged the organization’s efforts. There are several problems with Scott’s approach this to this election. The first was having the NRSC not endorse anyone in Republican primaries. This is not a customary practice and had the effect of making Trump the kingmaker in primary races across the country. It is my educated guess that the rationale for this approach was that polls among Republicans showed that Trump was more popular among them than the Republican organization and that if Trump were to endorse someone else than the NRSC, there would be a fight that the NRSC would probably be on the losing end. Looking at the results of the Senate races, in retrospect, it was worth the risk. Kevin McCarthy, by contrast, explicitly advised Trump not to involve himself in two key House races: Jen Kiggans in VA-2 and Juan Ciscomani in AZ-6 and got him to heed this advice; both candidates won their races (Weingart).

Rick Scott also trotted out an agenda for Republicans in the next Congress without first securing the agreement of other Republicans. To be fair, I really liked the idea of sunsetting all federal legislation every five years as a good way to check the power of the de facto fourth branch of government (the federal bureaucracy) and to provide more budget flexibility, but this was the wrong time to bring it up. And Scott had the gall to make a run for leadership afterwards. His approach in more than one way put the cart before the horse.

The second problem was that he blew funds on long-shot races in Colorado and Washington when he could have allocated more to closer races. He was overconfident and ran the campaign arm as a way to try and secure some senators who would support him in challenging Mitch McConnell for Senate leader (like Bolduc and Masters) and thereby pleasing Trump. Although Rick Scott’s actions as NRSC chair are certainly on him, Trump once again figures in the conversation. Rick Scott has tried to shift blame by pointing the finger at McConnell, but I’m not convinced. He should either be satisfied serving the people of Florida or go back to the private sector in 2024. You might be a McConnell critic, but this election has rendered Scott a most unconvincing replacement for him.

The Dobbs Decision and Lindsey Graham

This one pains me a bit to put on here as I agree with the Dobbs decision as I never thought Roe v. Wade (1973) was a Constitutionally sound decision, rather a decision justified by no more than good-looking politics. I don’t think that rationale is good enough to keep a precedent, no matter how popular. I must admit, however, that it contributed to the cross-wave for Democrats, especially with single women, and a lot of pro-life positions didn’t fare well in state elections. I don’t think this alone would have cost the GOP the Senate, but it contributed.

I suppose most Republicans share blame in this one and can assess for themselves how worth it Dobbs was, but Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made the situation worse by proposing a national abortion restriction bill in September, running contrary to the whole idea that abortion should have been reverted to the states. The man, like Donald Trump and Rick Scott, self-promoted to the detriment of the party.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel should stay out of Republican primaries as he was a pusher of J.D. Vance and Blake Masters. Wait, you say! Vance won, right? Yes, and he may even turn out to be a good senator if he doesn’t keep kissing Trump’s backside in office, but he had to get a bailout from McConnell’s PACs over his campaign going broke and won with help from Governor DeWine…in what is now a red state. That money could have gone elsewhere, to Laxalt in Nevada, Walker in Georgia, or Oz in Pennsylvania. For those who blame McConnell for Blake Masters’ loss I say this: there’s no amount of money that will cure the fact that when he was put before a focus group he, per McConnell to Thiel, “scored the worst focus group results of any candidate he had ever seen” (Faria).
McConnell realized this and pulled funds from a candidate who was foisted upon the Republicans by Peter Thiel. Thiel himself was reluctant to fund the race as well.

Some will want to blame Trump for backing Masters, but he’s more Thiel’s fault. If money was the cure-all for unpopular candidates, Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton would right now be serving a second term as president. And for those continue to point the finger at McConnell: why should more funds be put for terrible candidates? Candidates like Republican candidate for Ohio’s 9th district, J.R. Majewski in Ohio, who misrepresented his military service and then has the gall to publicly complain about his campaign being abandoned? Why should more funds be put for candidates like Blake Masters, whose test focus group results were garbage? Sorry, voters are not going to go for someone who gets caught misrepresenting their military service, not in a competitive race. Why the voters of Connecticut vote for Richard Blumenthal other than him being a Democrat I must admit remains a mystery for the ages.

The GOP Base

No politician wants to blame the voters for anything, but I’m not a politician and honestly…the politicians took your lead this year. They decided to take your lead in Senate races this year due to RNSC chair Rick Scott’s decision not to endorse anyone, which translated to majorities taking Trump’s lead. They followed his endorsements of subpar and terrible candidates. They let themselves in multiple races fall for a practice the Nixon people pioneered in 1972 artfully called “ratfucking” by the Democrats because of their wish to take things to extremes and “send a message to Washington”. For the base, I say this: it would serve you to pay attention to more than just what you want to hear next time and not only heeding what Tucker Carlson, Mark Levin, and other conservative infotainment tells you. Failure to learn means you lose. If the litmus test for your vote is candidates saying the 2020 election was stolen, then take off the tin foil hat before you vote. Seriously. You are a liability to the conservative cause and helping the left.

Mail-In Voting: Republicans Must Curb It or Adapt to It

Democrats like to make changes to how elections are run that they think will benefit them. This isn’t news to anyone, but what it seems to do is only grant them a benefit for the next election rather than subsequent elections as Republicans adapt to changes. Republicans have reasons to object to mail-in balloting beyond that the numbers tend to favor Democrats, and one is that it increases opportunities for voter fraud. This isn’t a position, by the way, only expressed by conservatives. ProPublica, hardly a conservative investigative journalistic organization, in 2020 wrote that among the issues with mail-in balloting was that it increased risks for fraud (Huseman). This isn’t me saying that widespread voter fraud happened, but that more opportunities exist for voting fraud.

Republicans could restrict mail-in balloting to those who have certain distinct reasons for doing so (mobility disability for instance) and in exchange open more polling locations to avoid super long lines at the polls. If they cannot do this, then they simply need to adapt to the situation and get more of their voters to vote by mail.

In summation…send out the clowns! The American people are sick of the antics, sick of the performance art, sick of crazy from the Republican side. If the Democrats are being crazy…let them! The Squad’s politics are not popular and if the Democrats are identified with that brand they’ll pay for it outside of strongholds (which every member of that group represents). No need to reciprocate! A significant contributing factor to Democrats losing their House majority was, incidentally, because of their cashless bail policy in New York, a policy I would certainly think of as radical, and which has many voters seeing people just going in and out of custody to commit more crimes.

Self-Accountability

I have taken a lot of time holding others accountable for the election outcome. I must now take a little time to hold myself accountable for my predictions, accurate and mistaken.

It turns out my observation about RCP Senate upsets was a good one and I should have stuck to it. I failed to call the defeats of Laxalt in Nevada and Oz in Pennsylvania and I may prove to have failed to call Georgia as well. At least I did not go bullish with guessing that Bolduc or any of the other long-shot Republicans would win. I properly predicted Kelly in Arizona, Bennet in Colorado, Rubio in Florida, Hassan in New Hampshire, Budd in North Carolina, Vance in Ohio, Murray in Washington, and Johnson in Wisconsin. I blew it in predicting that Lake in Arizona, Schmidt in Kansas, Dixon in Michigan, and Michels in Wisconsin would win their gubernatorial races. I called properly DeSantis in Florida, Kemp in Georgia, Mills in Maine, Walz in Minnesota, Lombardo in Nevada, Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Hochul in New York, Stitt in Oklahoma, Kotek in Oregon, Shapiro in Pennsylvania, and Abbott in Texas.

I think that to a certain extent I failed in preventing my biases from getting in the way, but I think I did better than numerous Republican boosters who were hyping Bolduc and a few others. I could have done better in not falling for the Republican hype myself.

References

Dorman, J.L. (2022, November 13). Trump threatened to withdraw his endorsement of Nevada Republican Joe Lombardo after the then-candidate chose not to call him a ‘great’ president at an October debate: NYT. Yahoo! News.

Retrieved from

https://news.yahoo.com/trump-threatened-withdraw-endorsement-nevada-190855029.html

Guest, C. (2022, May 22). Republican candidates feel the pressure of ‘the Big Lie’ in the 2022 midterm elections. USC Annenberg
Media
.

Retrieved from

https://www.uscannenbergmedia.com/2022/05/19/republican-candidates-feel-the-pressure-of-the-big-lie-in-the-2022-midterm-elections/

Huseman, J. (2020, March 24). Voting by Mail Would Reduce Coronavirus Transmission but It Has Other Risks. ProPublica.

Retrieved from

https://www.propublica.org/article/voting-by-mail-would-reduce-coronavirus-transmission-but-it-has-other-risks

Republicans won in Arizona while Masters flopped and Lake flounders. (2022, November 14). Washington Examiner.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/republicans-won-in-arizona-while-masters-flopped-and-lake-flounders

Skinner, A. (2022, November 4). McConnell Spending More Than Trump on MAGA Candidates. Newsweek.

Retrieved from

https://www.newsweek.com/mcconnell-spending-more-trump-maga-candidates-1757128

Sullivan, A. (2022, November 9). Democrats’ risky midterm strategy to elevate election deniers appears to pay off. Reuters.

Retrieved from

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/democrats-risky-midterm-strategy-elevate-election-deniers-appears-pay-off-2022-11-09/

“All in One Lifetime”: The Story of FDR’s Assistant President, Jimmy Byrnes

I am not quite ready to deliver my full analysis of the election and who and what is responsible for the GOP’s underperformance, as the House hasn’t been officially called for the Republicans and it’s not confirmed whether Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a staunch Trumpist, has been reelected. This will, however, be the subject of my next post as well as self-evaluation on my election calls.

The 20th century produced numerous political titans in American history, some well-known, others not so much. Everyone recognizes FDR, but not everyone recognizes the man who was second to him on domestic policy during World War II. No, not Vice President Henry Wallace, rather James F. “Jimmy” Byrnes (1882-1972).


Byrnes’ rise to national prominence was rather unexpected given the state from which he was from: South Carolina. Although Southerners had managed to play their cards considerably beyond their numbers on policy in Congress, they still paid a cost of not being able to win presidential elections (at least not if officially from a Southern state, anyway). John Nance Garner as FDR’s first VP was a major win in itself for the South. Jimmy Byrnes, as the public called him, would start in politics quite young, winning his first election to Congress at the age of 28 in 1910. He was a staunch foe of President William Howard Taft and would become a staunch ally in equal measure to President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson quickly recognized the young Byrnes’ legislative skill, and he became one of his favorites. He would give Byrnes tasks normally allocated to men considerably more senior than him given his high competence.


The 1924 Election: A Temporary Stumbling Block

In 1924, Byrnes ran for the Senate, with his foremost competition being former Governor Coleman Blease. Although white supremacy was the rule in South Carolina, politicians had discretion over whether they could race-bait in their campaigns or not. Blease was a race-baiter without equal in this time in South Carolina while Byrnes was not. The latter was personally friendly with individual blacks and would even invite his employees into his home on Christmas Eve for singing songs while his wife played the piano. Not every Southern white would host black people in their home for a social occasion. Byrnes also was born and raised a Catholic, but he had converted to Episcopalian as an adult. Despite this, the Ku Klux Klan, which supported Blease, engaged in a whisper campaign that he was still secretly a Catholic. Blease won the nomination by two points. However, this was but a temporary setback to Byrnes’ rise, and six years later he won a rematch against the demagogue.

Byrnes and FDR

One of the reasons President Roosevelt was rather muted on the subject of civil rights was that he needed the support of capable legislators from the South including Majority Leader Joe Robinson of Arkansas, Pat Harrison of Mississippi, and Byrnes to enact his New Deal agenda. Byrnes was almost entirely loyal to Roosevelt’s agenda in his first term, but in his second term he took exception to sit-down strikes and opposed the Fair Labor Standards Act as harming South Carolina’s competitiveness. Although he initially supported Roosevelt’s “court packing plan”, he had evidently changed his mind by the time he voted to shelve the plan indefinitely after the death of Majority Leader Joe Robinson (D-Ark.). Byrnes may have been one of the people who had given Robinson his word that he would vote for it, and with Robinson dead, many senators no longer felt bound to it. In 1938, he backed Senator Ed Smith for reelection despite FDR backing Governor Olin Johnston on account of Smith’s opposition to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Smith had never been that popular in South Carolina and FDR’s meddling, in addition to Byrnes’ support, got him another term.

The Supreme Court

In 1941, the irascible Justice James Clark McReynolds assumed senior status, thus Roosevelt decided to reward one of his leading supporters with a spot on the Supreme Court. However, unlike Hugo Black, Byrnes would not make an impact on the Supreme Court or stay long. The Supreme Court was simply not the right environment for him, and he was quickly dissatisfied. He needed to be in the action, and Roosevelt had a good role for him. Upon his deciding to leave the court in 1942, Byrnes was made the director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, followed by being head of the Office of War Mobilization. This made him essentially the assistant president on domestic affairs. In 1944, he was considered for the VP slot, but the reality was that picking a political figure from South Carolina for VP was a good way for the black vote to move back to the Republicans. Thus, Roosevelt instead selected Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman, who had voted for civil rights measures. Truman would find use for Byrnes as his Secretary of State, and it was a conflict over Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace over his speech calling for the end of the Cold War that resulted in Byrnes and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal to successfully push President Truman to fire Wallace in September 1946 (Simkin). This resulted in Wallace’s 1948 bid for the presidency.


Byrnes and Post-War Planning

In February 1945, Byrnes accompanied FDR to the Yalta Conference and would later accompany Truman to the Potsdam Conference in which the US, Britain, and the USSR determined the postwar setup for Germany. At Potsdam, Byrnes learned that the USSR was planning on to make Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary Soviet-controlled. He would subsequently get the better of Soviet negotiator I.M. Maisky over whether the USSR or the West would have control over the industrialized western sector of Germany (Horton). That same year, he informed President Truman of the Manhattan Project and advised him to use atomic weapons against Japan on two grounds. First, that the war would end sooner, and second, that the United States would be able to fully dictate post-war terms. On September 6, 1946, Byrnes delivered the Restatement of Policy on Germany, commonly known as “The Speech of Hope”, which repudiated the punitive Morgenthau Plan and directed policy towards rebuilding Germany. This speech would result in Time Magazine making him its “Man of the Year”. The two would later sour on each other as President Truman noticed that Byrnes was trying to direct foreign policy himself by making decisions and only telling him after, and they would part ways in 1947. The following year, he endorsed Governor Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat bid for the White House.

Governor Byrnes

In 1950, Byrnes successfully ran for South Carolina’s governor. He read the writing on the wall and attempted to make “separate, but equal” a reality in the sense that he wished to make the schools blacks and whites attended to actually be equal. This approach, which he hoped would stave off calls for desegregation, he attempted with his 1951 law imposing a sales tax to fund new facilities, school buses, and districts to improve the education of the state’s black population. That year, Byrnes would also have a law passed banning the wearing of masks in public unless it was Halloween to curb the KKK. However, he was completely hostile to desegregation, and threatened to take the path that the Byrd Machine in Virginia would take for years…an end to public education altogether (Graham). Byrnes, in other words, was trying to make the Jim Crow system sustainable by alleviating some of its negative effects on blacks.

Moving to the GOP and the End

If you were to have told Byrnes in 1910 that he would support Republicans at any point in his life, he probably would have looked at you as if you were in a straightjacket, but he began to move away from the Democrats given conflicts with President Truman but also, he had already started to trend away from progressive politics in his second term in the Senate. While he was not a Republican in any of his offices and never officially switched parties, he would begin favoring them for president in 1952 with his support for Dwight Eisenhower. He would retire in 1955 and the following year would support a quixotic movement to vote for Senator Harry F. Byrd (D-Va.). However, Byrnes would then support Republican candidates for president for the rest of his life and regarded Senator Barry Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as his finest moment. He had come to believe that the Democrats had moved too far left and was disturbed by their turn to civil rights causes, another thing that was unthinkable for the Democratic Party of 1910. He published his autobiography, All in One Lifetime, in 1958, the title being a recognition of the scope of his career as well as the fact that he is one of the few people to have served in all three branches of government. Byrnes died on April 9, 1972, only weeks short of his 90th birthday. When it comes to South Carolinians and their influence on national politics, he was second only to John C. Calhoun and is thus one of the most influential Southerners in American history.


References

Graham, C.B. (2016, May 17). Byrnes, James Francis. South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Retrieved from

https://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/byrnes-james-francis/

Hill, R. All in One Lifetime: James F. Byrnes of South Carolina. The Knoxville Focus.

Retrieved from

https://www.knoxfocus.com/archives/one-lifetime-james-f-byrnes-south-carolina/

Horton, T. (202, August 20). James F. Byrnes: FDR’s ‘Indispensable Man’. Post and Courier.

Retrieved from

https://www.postandcourier.com/moultrie-news/opinion/james-f-byrnes-fdrs-indispensable-man/article_613c53d6-99c6-57a7-81e4-c99ab9512a50.html

James F. Byrnes. Atomic Heritage Foundation.

Retrieved from

https://www.atomicheritage.org/profile/james-f-byrnes

Simkin, J. James F. Byrnes. Spartacus Educational.

Retrieved from

https://spartacus-educational.com/USAbyrnesJ.htm

The Big Cheese of the Badger State GOP

In this year’s midterms, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin narrowly won reelection. What this makes him, interestingly enough, is the greatest Republican vote-getter statewide for federal office from Wisconsin in this generation. The last Republican senator, Bob Kasten, served two terms before his defeat by Russ Feingold, and Joseph McCarthy’s second term was cut short by his death. The last Republican who pulled off more than two terms was McCarthy’s colleague, Alexander Wiley (1884-1967).


Wiley and the Republican Resurgence

The worst days for Republicans in terms of political power were the first six years of FDR’s presidency. However, by 1938 there was backlash to President Roosevelt’s “court packing plan” as well as to the “Roosevelt Recession”. There was a general sense that the New Deal hadn’t recovered the economy much, and that Roosevelt was getting too powerful. One of the victories the GOP had was attorney Alexander Wiley’s defeat of Democratic incumbent Senator F. Ryan Duffy in a three-way race. Wiley had previously run for governor in 1936 but lost to Progressive Philip La Follette, and his election along with those of other Republicans in Congress began the decline of the second incarnation of the Progressive Party. Wiley quickly won over his colleagues with his pleasant demeanor as well as hosting “Cheese Day” on April 28th, 1939 at the Senate restaurant and wheeled in what was called the world’s largest cheese and a bust of Vice President John Nance Garner…made of cheese (Wisconsin Alumni Association). Wiley was a foe of the New Deal who backed proposals to curb the power of organized labor, but not an absolutist. On foreign policy, he was a staunch non-interventionist, opposing ending the arms embargo in 1939, the peacetime draft in 1940, and Lend-Lease and arming merchant ships in 1941. In 1943, Wiley would vote to require that membership in any international organization be by treaty only.

In 1944, Wiley was challenged for renomination by U.S. Marine Captain Joseph R. McCarthy. However, he turned back this challenge and McCarthy would join Wiley in the Senate in 1947. That year, Wiley faced Congressmen Howard J. McMurray and Harry Sauthoff, a Democrat and Progressive respectively. Both men ran to his left, with McMurray being one of the most left-wing members of Congress. Wiley won with 50.5% of the vote.

The Vandenberg Switch

The most famous figure in the Senate to “switch” from non-interventionism to internationalism was Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, who famously argued in March 1947 that we must “stop partisan politics at the water’s edge” (Curl). Many senators followed him, and one of them was Wiley. During the Truman Administration, he would be strongly supportive of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and would even go further in his support of Part IV foreign aid (assisting poor countries rather than just war-torn countries) as well as his opposition to the Bricker Amendment. As Foreign Relations Committee chairman during the 83rd Congress, he was a crucial opponent of the Bricker Amendment, and this enraged Wisconsin Republicans, who voted to censure him for his opposition in 1953. Wiley held that the amendment was “the most dangerous thing that has ever been brought before Congress” (TIME, 1953). He voted against both the original Bricker Amendment and the compromise version sponsored by Senator Walter George (D-Ga.). Senator Wiley’s turn to such internationalism was not popular among fellow Republicans, but he believed that foreign aid would in the long run be to the nation’s, and by extension, Wisconsin’s benefit. Although an internationalist, Wiley as Judiciary Committee chairman in 1948 sponsored with Senator W. Chapman Revercomb (R-W.V.) a Displaced Persons Act designed to alleviate the European war refugee problem. This measure was accused of being overly restrictive and designed to limit the number of Jews. Wiley would, however, vote for a revision on April 5, 1950 that considerably expanded the number of displaced persons that could be taken in, including many Jews.

Wiley on the Issues

In 1947, Wiley’s ADA score had been a 20, but in 1957 it was an 83. While the issue of civil rights, a subject Wiley was strongly supportive of, took up three of the twelve votes counted for 1957 and took up zero for 1947, other subjects counted as liberal in 1957 included his votes against limiting foreign aid, his vote to authorize self-financing for the TVA, and his vote for the Hells Canyon Dam. His overall ADA score, which covered 1947 to 1962 and modified to exclude counting absences, was a 40, indicating a moderate record.

Senator Wiley was a consistent supporter of civil rights legislation throughout his career, and in 1957 he voted against striking the 14th Amendment implementation and against requiring jury trials for criminal contempt cases under the law in the Civil Rights Act of 1957. However, the weaker version prevailed. Wiley would also support the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and the 24th Amendment.

Wiley and the St. Lawrence Seaway

The greatest legislative achievement of Alexander Wiley is something that continues to benefit the United States and Canada today, the St. Lawrence Seaway. He sponsored the legislation authorizing its construction with Congressman George Dondero (R-Mich.). President Eisenhower signing the bill into law was the culmination of a twenty-year campaign to make the project a reality and received overwhelming support in the Great Lakes states. The Wiley-Dondero Canal is named in the legislators’ honor.

Ducking Joseph McCarthy and Maintaining Popularity

Although Wiley was of course an anti-communist, he kept his distance from his colleague Joseph McCarthy and successfully dodged controversy surrounding him. On the issue of censure, he scheduled attending a conference in South America to avoid the vote. His maneuvering was similar to that of Senator John F. Kennedy, who scheduled his back surgery on the day of the censure vote to avoid having to vote to censure a friend of the Kennedy family. The relationship between McCarthy and Wiley was best described by Wiley himself: “Joe and I have never had an altercation. He goes his way and I go mine” (TIME). In 1956, Wiley won reelection by over 17 points, a contrast to 1950, when he prevailed by over 7 points against the same candidate.

The 1962 Election – Temper, Temper

Senator Wiley maintained a moderate record during the Kennedy Administration, voting against Kennedy’s standby public works proposal and Medicare in 1962 while supporting his foreign policy positions and supporting federal aid to education. However, Senator Wiley was getting on in years; by 1962 he was 78 years old and faced a formidable challenger in Governor Gaylord Nelson (yes, that was his name).

Nelson had been elected in the Democratic wave of 1958 and proved popular enough to challenge the old senator. 1962 was a deeply unimpressive midterm for the GOP, as they lost four seats in the Senate. Nelson pursued a cheeky strategy against Wiley by campaigning across the state blasting him for when he voted conservative, such as on his opposition to Medicare. He counted on Wiley to lose his temper so Nelson could dismiss him as senile, and it worked like a charm. Wiley publicly called Nelson a “nitwit” and responded with hostility to questions from reporters; to one who asked about his stance on Medicare, he snapped, “You keep your damn nose out of my business and I’ll keep mine out of yours”, and to another’s question he shouted, “Shut up!” (TIME, 1962) Wiley was one of the four losses on Election Day. Nelson would remark after defeating him, “He performed on schedule” (TIME, 1962). He would go on to found Earth Day and serve three terms in the Senate before being defeated in the Reagan landslide by Bob Kasten. Wiley died of a stroke in a nursing home on October 26, 1967.

P.S.: I am waiting for the results to be in before I go over the midterms and what they mean.

References

Curl, J. (2018, July 18). Petty Partisan Politics No Longer Stops At The Water’s Edge. The Daily Wire.

Retrieved from

https://www.dailywire.com/news/petty-partisan-politics-no-longer-stops-waters-joseph-curl

Nation: Wisconsin: Right on Schedule. (1962, November 16). TIME.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,829384,00.html

National Affairs: The Bricker Amendment: A Cure Worse Than The Disease? (1953, July 13). TIME.

Retrieved from

http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,806676-1,00.html

National Affairs: Wiley’s Wile. (1955, March 14). TIME.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,807079,00.html

The Big Cheese: Chippewa County. (2017, August 4). Wisconsin Alumni Association.

Retrieved from

https://www.uwalumni.com/news/the-big-cheese-chippewa-county/


Wiley is Censured By Wisconsin G.O.P.; Senator Asked to Reconsider Opposition to Curbing of President on Treaties. (1953, June 14). The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1953/06/14/archives/wiley-is-censured-by-wisconsin-g-o-p-senator-asked-to-reconsider.html

2022 Predictions – By Looking at Past and Present Polling

When trying to make predictions I have to keep some facts in mind surrounding election polling and prognostication:

  1. It has not happened that one party has won all races that were in the Toss-Up category in RCP poll averages.
  2. Since 2014, polling has had an overall Democratic bias. 2010 and 2012 by contrast had Republican bias.
  3. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball predictions have consistently underestimated Republican Senate performance since 2014, albeit slightly. He has never been more than two Senate seats wrong against Republicans.
  4. Sabato has not been wrong on more than two Senate races.
  5. Biden’s polling is underwater in most states with competitive races, in most of these cases in double-digits.
  6. Nevada has a history of Republican bias in polling.
  7. Ohio and Wisconsin have major history of Democratic bias in polling since 2014.
  8. There have, since 2010, been at least two upsets in every election cycle in the Senate. An upset here being defined as the result goes a different way than RCP polling averages.

This election regarding governors may be a major backlash election for the length and severity of COVID restrictions imposed by certain Democratic governors. This may be felt strongest in Nevada for a reason I will bring up later. Although I have stuck with the two Senator upset, trends can change. I, for instance, believed that Trump would win in Florida and Ohio but I just had the hardest time conceiving that he would lose despite winning those states, even though national polling made me suspect that he would lose. I have tried my best here to control for biases in my analysis and differentiate between who I want to win and who I think will win. I have compiled a lot of past data that reflects polling biases in major races for these states. D + means that polls were biased in favor of Democrats compared to the actual result, and R + means polls were biased in favor of Republicans compared to the actual result. This year the polling makes me feel justified in predicting one less upset than usual and in continuing to believe that overall polling has a Democratic bias, but maybe there’s a change in the polling winds like there was in 2014 and maybe conventional wisdom here on the Senate will kick me in the teeth. I will consider my efforts against personal bias to be victorious if I get it right, if my errors do not consistently overestimate by party, and if I do consistently overestimate it is on the other side. We’ll see by the end of the day what happens, now won’t we? This will also be posted to my Substack: mikeholme.substack.com.

ARIZONA

Gubernatorial Poll Bias (2014): D +4.4
Presidential Poll Bias (2016): R +0.5
Senatorial Poll Bias (2016): D +2.9
Gubernatorial Poll Bias (2018): R +1.4
Senatorial Poll Bias (2018): R +3.3
Presidential Poll Bias (2020): D +0.6
Senatorial Poll Bias (2020): D +3.3
Biden Approval Rating Average: -15
RCP Average (Governor): Lake (R) +3.5
RCP Average (Senator): Masters (R) +0.3

Winners: Lake, Kelly

Arizona is a mixed bag on polling bias, with it being difficult to establish consistent bias one way or another. If I had to pick one competitive Senate race in which the Republican challenger falls short alongside New Hampshire, it would be Arizona. Kari Lake, however, I think will be the next governor of Arizona on account of a charisma chasm between her and Katie Hobbs. Mark Kelly may be in a strong enough position to hold on as perhaps his record IS independent enough for Arizonans and understandable personal sympathies remain for what happened to his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, for him to pull through.

COLORADO

Senatorial Election (2014): 0
Gubernatorial Election (2014): R +1.4
Presidential Election (2016): R +1.9
Senatorial Election (2016): D +2.2
Gubernatorial Election (2018): No Average
Presidential Election (2020): No Average
Senatorial Election (2020): No Average

Biden Approval: -8

RCP Average: Bennet (D) +5.7

Winner: Bennet

Colorado is a state that has moved from purple to light blue in recent years, and this election probably is going to reflect that. Frankly, I like Republican Joe O’Dea, and he will probably perform considerably better than Ron Hankins would have, but the state’s current political environment seems too great for him to overcome. O’Dea only came within the margin of error in a Trafalgar poll, but others have shown Bennet up around 7 to 8 points. The incumbent Democrat is not sufficiently offensive for Colorado voters for even someone like O’Dea to take him down. If O’Dea wins this one, this midterm is catastrophic for Democrats.

FLORIDA

Presidential Poll Bias (2016): D +0.8
Senatorial Poll Bias (2016): D +4
Senatorial Poll Bias (2018): D +2.6
Presidential Poll Bias (2020): D +4.2
Biden Approval: -15.8
RCP Average (Governor): DeSantis (R) +12.2
RCP Average (Senator): Rubio (R) +8.8

Winners: DeSantis, Rubio

Governor DeSantis and Senator Rubio currently have poll margins that are insurmountable. In none of the latest polls for either have their Democratic opponents come within five points. This plus Biden’s unpopularity in the state, rampant speculation that DeSantis will win Miami-Dade County, and the state’s increasing Republican bend make this an easy prediction.

GEORGIA

Gubernatorial (2014): D +3.4
Senatorial (2014): D +5.1
Presidential (2016): D +0.3
Gubernatorial (2018): R +1.6
Presidential (2020): R +1.3
Senatorial Runoff (Loeffler vs. Warnock): R +1.1
Senatorial Runoff (Perdue vs. Ossoff): R +0.5
Biden Approval: -15
RCP Average (Governor): Kemp +8.3
RCP Average (Senate): Walker +1.4

Winners: Kemp, Walker

The reelection of Brian Kemp to me seems a good repudiation of baseless cries of both widespread voter fraud and voter suppression and a victory for those who lack crybaby mindsets about elections. He is too far ahead in polling to lose right now. Stacey Abrams will retain her status as a “Superstar Loser”, a concept expounded on in an Atlantic article I will link below. Herschel Walker, I think, will be propelled forward by the momentum of the midterm and his charisma despite him having some flaws as a candidate and an alleged past that does not speak well for him.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/11/beto-orourke-stacey-abrams-superstar-loser/671959/

KANSAS

2014 (Governor): D +5.9
2014 (Senate): I +11
Biden Approval: -29
RCP Average (Governor): No RCP average due to lack of polls, but last two showed Democrat Laura Kelly up.

Winner: Schmidt

Kansas has a bit of a history of underpolling Republicans, but an exception to this was the 2018 race that Kelly won against Kris Kobach, a highly controversial and flawed nominee in a difficult year for Republicans. There isn’t much in RCP poll averages I can put up here since Kansas is not often heavily polled in national races, but the last Senate race had two polls with Marshall up ahead by only 4 and 2, but he ended up winning by 11.4. One of the worst polling errors occurred here in the underestimating of Kansan Pat Roberts’ ability to win reelection in 2014 against Independent Greg Orman. Orman was averaged 0.8 ahead, but Roberts won by 10.8. I would not be surprised at all if Republican Derek Schmidt won the election, in fact I’m counting on it.


MAINE

2014 (Governor): D +3.5
2014 (Senate): D +7.8
2016 (President): D +1.6
RCP Average (Governor): None provided, but all polls have Mills in the lead, most by over 5.
Biden Approval: -10.7

Winner: Mills

Although Maine is perhaps less of a Democratic state than it used to be, Democrat Janet Mills will win reelection as LePage is a bit overly Trumpy for them and no poll I have seen points to the possibility of a LePage comeback. BUT…the last Senate election also showed no polls that Susan Collins would win reelection. This perhaps leaves the slightest sliver of a chance that LePage gets back in, but I think Maine voters know that Paul LePage is no Susan Collins. Mills will win, but perhaps by less than what polls are indicating.

MICHIGAN

2014 (Governor): D +2.2
2014 (Senate): R +0.4
2016 (President): D +3.9
2018 (Governor): D +1.5
2018 (Senate): D +1.9
2020 (President): D +1.4
2020 (Senate): D +3.7
RCP Average (Governor): Whitmer (D) +1
Biden Approval: -16

Winner: Dixon

Given the history of poll bias favoring Democrats in Michigan as well as residing resentments over the state’s COVID-19 lockdown policies, I think Tudor Dixon, despite some significant campaign missteps earlier in the race, can overcome and win. The polling momentum is with her.

MINNESOTA

2014 (Governor): D +1.4
2014 (Senate): R +0.3
2016 (President): No RCP average, but Clinton won by only 1.5 when most polls had her over five points ahead.
2018 (Governor): No RCP average, but Walz pretty much performed as expected.
2020 (President): R +2.9
2020 (Senate): No RCP average, but polls underestimated Democrat Tina Smith overall.
RCP Average (Governor): Walz (D) +4.3
Biden Approval: -7.3

Winner: Walz

Minnesota is a state teeming with potential for Republicans, but they just can’t quite clinch major statewide offices lately, and a recent history of polling isn’t exactly encouraging for their prospects on this one.

NEVADA

2014 (Governor): D +18
2016 (President): R +3.2
2016 (Senate): R +0.6
2018 (Governor): R +4.7
2018 (Senate): R +5
2020 (President): R +0.3
Biden Approval: -15.6
RCP Average (Governor): Lombardo (R) +2.8
RCP Average (Senator): Laxalt (R) +3.4

Winners: Lombardo, Laxalt

While it is true that Nevada has a history of overpolling Republicans, the bulk of major overpolling happened in 2018, a year in which Republicans were on defense and their fundamentals were not great in a state that had voted against Trump in the last election. I expect the polls to again have a Republican bias in this race, but not to enough of a degree to which Lombardo and Laxalt will lose. Laxalt has led in five of six of the last polls, including one by a Democratic firm, and the only poll for Cortez Masto showed her up by one. Lombardo has been up in every recent poll except one in which he was tied with Governor Sisolak. What’s more, a recent poll of Nevada’s four House seats shows the Democrats behind in three of them. Nevada was also one of the states in which Trump did better (slightly) in 2020 than in 2016. This one’s, however, still a real tossup given the state’s polling history as well as the late Harry Reid’s machine possibly still being effective, but a recent influx of Latino voters for Republicans may put them over the top. Sisolak also has issues as the Northshore Clinical Labs scandal hit his administration and his lockdown policies are remembered bitterly by many Nevadans. Laxalt and Lombardo I narrowly call winning here, with actual results showing less of a lead for them than current polling indicates.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gubernatorial (2014): R +1.7
Senatorial (2014): R +2.4
Gubernatorial (2016): D +1
Senatorial (2016): R +1.7
Gubernatorial (2018): D +3
Senatorial (2020): R +0.9
Presidential (2020): D +0.8
Biden Approval: -10
RCP Average (Senator): Hassan (D) +1.4

Winner: Hassan

There is only one precedent in polling error in New Hampshire that could point to a Bolduc win, and that is the gubernatorial contest in which Chris Sununu won reelection in 2018, and Sununu was then, and remains, popular in New Hampshire. Despite a tightening in the race, Bolduc may just be too extreme for New Hampshire. However, there is an outside chance that inflation, particularly the rising cost of fuel oil, will motivate New Hampshire voters at the polls this year to turn out Hassan. However, I fail to see a scenario in which Bolduc wins without both Masters in Arizona and Laxalt in Nevada winning, and RCP history indicates that neither Republicans nor Democrats win all tossups in an election year. This race is a bit of a bellwether for this election: if Bolduc loses or the race remains too close to call throughout the night, it is a normal midterm. If the race is called for Bolduc early in the night, this is a disastrous midterm for the Dems and even Colorado and Washington become possible losses.

NEW MEXICO

Governor (2014): D +1.3
President (2016): R +3.3
Governor (2018): R +6.2
Senator (2018): R +6.4
RCP Average (Governor): Lujan Grisham (D) +4

Winner: Lujan Grisham

New Mexico is a light blue state, and the only poll having Republican Mark Ronchetti up recently is a Trafalgar poll and he’s up by one…in a state that has a history of overpolling Republicans.

NEW YORK

Governor (2014): D +9.9
Governor (2018): R +4.2
Biden Approval: +1.8
RCP Average (Governor): Hochul (D) +7


Winner: Hochul

Although Democrats have been panicking over Kathy Hochul possibly losing the election with campaign appearances from major Democratic figures, I do not think this comes to pass. I think she holds on by single digits as the Empire State still has strong Democratic fundamentals even if they are being tested right now with crime and an unusually strong Republican candidate in Congressman Lee Zeldin. That Democrats are getting a scare out of this race may either be a great sign for Republicans across the board or reflective of a major fear of the symbolism that will come out of a Democrat losing reelection in a major Democratic stronghold. If Lee Zeldin wins, Democrats will have to reevaluate how they are going about politics…in New York.

NORTH CAROLINA


Senatorial (2014): D +2.9
Senatorial (2016): D +3.7
Presidential (2016): D +2.8
Gubernatorial (2016): D +2
Presidential (2020): D +1.1
Senatorial (2020): D +4.4
Gubernatorial (2020): D +6.6
Biden Approval: -16
RCP Average (Senator): Budd (R) +6.2

Winner: Budd


All the fundamentals are here for Budd. We have an election year that’s getting worse by the day for Democrats, a history of repeated overpolling of Democrats in the state with not one counterexample over the past three election cycles, North Carolina having twice voted for Trump, and Budd is up by over five on the RCP average. He has not gotten below five in the lead in the last five polls. Media stories trying to focus on this race as a possible sleeper are simply trying to save Beasley’s campaign.

OHIO

Presidential (2016): D +5.9
Senatorial (2016): D +2.5
Gubernatorial (2018): No RCP average, but the last three polls had Democrat Richard Cordray leading by three or more points.
Senatorial (2018): D +4.6
Presidential (2020): D +7.2
Biden Approval: -18
RCP Average (Senator): Vance (R) +8

Winner: Vance


Like with Budd, all the fundamentals are here for J.D. Vance as well. A state that twice voted for Trump and has a history of overpolling Democrats. The media stories about an upsurge for Tim Ryan, if history is a guide, are merely stories. J.D. Vance will be Ohio’s next senator.

OKLAHOMA

2014 (Senate): D +5.5
2014 (Senate Special): D +7.6
2018 (Governor): D +6.8
Biden Approval: -41.5
RCP Average (Governor): None provided, but last two polls have Stitt in the lead.


Winner: Stitt

Despite some major trouble for Kevin Stitt surrounding ethics and an unusually strong challenger in Democrat Joy Hofmeister, the fundamentals of the midterm will probably save his keister. The most recent polls suggest a momentum back in his direction.


OREGON

2014 (Governor): D +2.6
2014 (Senator): R +1.2
2016 (Presidential): R +2.6
2016 (Senator): No RCP Average
2018 (Governor): R +1.8
2020 (Presidential): No RCP Average
Biden Approval: -6
RCP Average (Governor): None provided, but last two polls have Democrat Tina Kotek in the lead.

Winner: Kotek

Betsy Johnson’s Independent campaign seemed to really threaten Democratic prospects for continuing to govern Oregon, with Republican Christine Drazan possibly winning because of a split of liberal voters and some disenchantment over the issue of crime in Portland. However, the latest two polls are showing that voters are moving away from Johnson and towards Democrat Tina Kotek. The prospect of a Republican winning the race seems to have spooked enough of them to back off Johnson and continue the long reign of the Democrats over the state.

PENNSYLVANIA


Gubernatorial Poll Bias (2014): D +1.2
Presidential Poll Bias (2016): D +2.8
Senatorial Poll Bias (2016): D +3.6
Gubernatorial Poll Bias (2018): D +2.5
Senatorial Poll Bias (2018): D +1.4
Presidential Poll Bias (2020): 0
Biden Approval: -11.3
RCP Average (Governor): Shapiro (D) +8.3
RCP Average (Senate): Oz (R) +0.4

Winners: Shapiro, Oz

Doug Mastriano has consistently been behind Attorney General Josh Shapiro in polling as he has a lot of baggage, including being present at the January 6th rally. Shapiro wins this one. For the Senate, it is hard to imagine after the disastrous debate performance from Fetterman, which revealed how much his condition was being covered up by his campaign and by his supporters in the media, that Oz does not pull through. The scandal, as they say, is in the cover-up. The only conceivable one is if he rides on the coattails of Josh Shapiro. There have, however, been two polls after the debate performance that still gave Fetterman an edge, including a Marist poll that had him up 6. The majority of polls, however, have Oz at a slight advantage. Given how many people appear to be planning to split their tickets or even not mark the Senate race combined with a history of mildly overpolling Democrats, I think Oz clinches it.

TEXAS

2014 (Governor): D +3.4
2014 (Senator): D +5.5
2016 (President): R +2.7
2018 (Governor): R +3.4
2018 (Senate): R +4.2
2020 (President): D +4.5
2020 (Senate): D +3.3
RCP Average (Governor): Abbott (R) +10.4
Biden Approval: -13.7

Winner: Abbott

What is there to say about this one? Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, is part of a Democratic class of “Superstar Losers” whose biggest claims to fame are that they came within five points of winning statewide elections in states that are widely thought of as Republican. What’s more, Democrats are appearing to have problems in Latino areas of Texas that before would be easy wins for them.


WASHINGTON

President (2020): D +1.2
RCP Average (Senate): Murray (D) +3
Biden Approval: +1


Winner: Murray

Although Republicans have fielded perhaps their strongest Senate candidate in this election since Republican Slade Gorton lost reelection in 2000, there appear to be too many fundamentals helping Patty Murray stay for another term. The state’s Democratic bent and Biden’s approval rating being ABOVE water in addition to there not being a single poll placing Smiley with a lead makes me conclude that despite a seemingly tightening race that Murray remains, even if the election ends up too close for comfort for Democrats. Seattle and Tacoma will, I think, save her bacon. Washington also is rather lightly polled on races as it is seldom competitive on gubernatorial or senatorial races. I write this as someone who as a resident of this beautiful state really wants Smiley to win and voted for her.

WISCONSIN

2014 (Governor): D +3.5
2016 (President): D +7.2
2016 (Senate): D +6.1
2018 (Governor): No RCP Average, but most polls had Democrat Tony Evers up by a larger margin than his victory of 1.2.
2018 (Senate): R +0.2
2020 (President): D +6
Biden Approval: -15.5
RCP Average (Governor): Michels (R) +0.6
RCP Average (Senate): Johnson (R) +3.6

Winners: Michels, Johnson

Ron Johnson is an enigma for the MSM. They regularly rip on him, yet he beats expectations and he’s doing so again this year. Although Wisconsin voted for Biden in 2020, the state has a history of DRAMATICALLY overpolling Democrats with the sole exception being a light overpolling of Republicans for Tammy Baldwin’s reelection in 2018. Johnson is in the lead, and the fundamentals for the Democrats this year, to put it bluntly, suck. Ron Johnson is either the luckiest senator in politics, or he knows a thing or two that his critics don’t. Wisconsin’s history of poll bias for Democrats combined with the fundamentals for the midterm make me think that Tim Michels will be elected governor as well.

T. James Tumulty: The First Fat Activist in Congress?

The journey of Thomas James Tumulty (1913-1981) through politics was, well, a tumultuous one. He was the nephew of Joseph Tumulty, Woodrow Wilson’s secretary (now known as chief of staff) and a key advisor. However, the younger Tumulty was more independent-minded. Although he started in the party of his uncle, he in the early 1940s was a Republican attorney who would attend City Council meetings and vocally oppose Mayor Frank Hague’s budget. Hague was essentially the dictator of Jersey City from 1917 to 1949, and one of its city commissioners. The four other city commissioners technically had equal power but would always vote with what Hague wanted. As Tumulty called them, “The Four Horsemen of the Affirmative” (Sullivan).

Hague attempts to shut him up in numerous ways, including getting a woman to claim that she had been Tumulty’s nursemaid and that he had been dropped on his head his child (Sullivan). Finally, Mayor Hague calls him into his office and wants to know what was wrong with his budget. Tumulty is said to have replied, “Just one thing, Your Honor. I’m not in it” (Sullivan). Hague got him a position in Jersey City’s Law Department, and he became a Democrat again and a Hague ally.

From 1943 to 1944, Tumulty served his country and in the process gained a lot of weight. He would continue to do so throughout his career and his obesity became the subject of humor from himself and others. As Tumulty himself said, the T in his name stood for Thomas, “or, as my friends suggest, for Tummy” (Time, 1955). Republican Jim Fulton of Pennsylvania once in a rather humorous debate said to him that “The gap between the front and the back of this Democratic Party is just big enough for you to fill” (Time, 1956).

In 1944, Tumulty was elected to the New Jersey state legislature and would serve until 1952. He was known as jolly orator who was talented at turning a phrase. In 1951, Tumulty was selected by his fellow Democrats to be the legislature’s minority leader and like with Hague, he formed an alliance with Jersey City Mayor John V. Kenny, who was corrupt like Hague. Tumulty through his advice and testimony saved him from probable jailtime.

In 1954, he was elected to Congress representing the northern wards of Jersey City and Hoboken with a healthy 62.4% to Republican Vincent J. Dellay’s 34.9%. He proved a bit of an independent-minded figure, as he had been in state politics. While favoring the internationalism of his party, he supported higher tariffs. While he favored public housing, strong water pollution legislation, and oil deregulation, Tumulty opposed public power. While Tumulty favored the admission of the states of Hawaii and Alaska, he opposed civil rights legislation.

Fat Activist?

His stance on civil rights likely caused him problems as New Jersey’s Democrats were solidly otherwise for civil rights legislation. During debate on the measure, Tumulty, who was of a build of between 320 and 350 lbs., proposed an amendment adding to the list of protected classes against voting discrimination “size”. This amendment was quickly shouted down by Congress. Did this make Tumulty a “fat” activist? Not really, given his sense of humor about his weight and he would be the only representative from New Jersey to vote against the proposed Civil Rights Act of 1956. He did, however, vote for the Powell Amendment to block funds to schools that disobeyed Brown v. Board of Education.

Overall Ideology and Defeat

On overall ideology, Tumulty’s ADA scores were 80% and 57% in 1955 and 1956 respectively, and he didn’t have much use for doctrinaire liberals, stating that they “love man in the abstract and hate him in the particular” (Sullivan). That election year, President Eisenhower won the normally Democratic Hudson County, and there he had coattails. Democrat Al Sieminski, the representative for the southern wards of Jersey City, had only won reelection by 57 votes. This time, Dellay won 52.3% to Tumulty’s 45.6%, with his vote against civil rights legislation perhaps being the clincher to his defeat. The last Republican to have won the district was Archibald Olpp in the 1920 GOP landslide. However, the level of Democratic power in the area remained and has remained…by 1958 Dellay was a Democrat and he tried to run for reelection as an Independent after the local Democrats didn’t want him. Tumulty himself went on to be deputy mayor of Jersey City from 1958 to 1960, and then served as a judge on the Superior Court from 1967 to 1972.


References

Lone Critic Fights Jersey City Budget; Record Figure Adopted After a Noisy Public Hearing. (1942, February 28). The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1942/02/28/archives/lone-critic-fights-jersey-city-budget-record-figure-is-adopted.html

National Affairs: Spitballs in the House. (1956, July 30). Time.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,867014,00.html

Saxon, W. (1981, November 26). T. James Tumulty, Ex-Official. The New York Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/26/obituaries/t-james-tumulty-ex-official.html

Sullivan, J.F. (1981, December 6). Politics; When ‘T. James’ Died, An Era Died With Him. The New York Times.

Retrieved from


The Congress: Tails of Jersey City. (1955, January 24). Time.

Retrieved from

https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,861132,00.html

Taking a Look at Tulsi: Past and Present

One of the new “converts” apparently to the right has been former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. On October 11, 2022, she announced her departure from the Democratic Party, switching affiliation to Independent and calling them “an elitist cabal of warmongers” (Bickerton). As ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp tweeted on October 12th, “We traded Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for @TulsiGabbard? *thumb up emoji*”. Gabbard has filled in on Tucker Carlson Tonight as well. This former DNC vice chairman even in the immediate aftermath was given higher odds on BetFair to win the Republican nomination than Mike Pence and was in fact given the third highest odds! (Palmer) There are some factors in her favor. For one, she can be, as Matt Lewis (2022) notes, viewed as “an ironic right-wing star, a martyr who fled the evil Democrats”. While I frankly think Gabbard is personally likeable to a much greater degree than many of the public faces the Democratic Party puts forth and has put forth, this doesn’t mean she should move straight to the front of the line for the Republican Party. On this I think of what former Senator James Watson (R-Ind.), a staunch conservative, once said to Wendell Willkie’s face on his presidential ambitions, “I don’t mind the church converting a whore, but I don’t like her to lead the choir the first night!” (Bernstein, 716) History tells us we didn’t have a president named Willkie.


Ideological

On her record, I will use a modified ADA score that does not count absences against legislators and a modified ACU score that counts votes only once and does not include any non-votes (namely signing the amicus curiae brief in Texas v. Pennsylvania). ACU also doesn’t count 2019 because she didn’t vote on enough issues. More than half is enough in my estimation, so it is counted. This is what I found:

Modified ADA: 86%
Modified ACU: 7%

Gabbard has voted for numerous liberal proposals and against numerous conservative policies, including laws signed by Trump, such as the partial rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act. She repeatedly voted pro-choice and in favor of measures pushed by LGBT advocates such as the Equality Act, and has with strikingly few exceptions voted for measures expanding domestic government and against reducing it. Some of the votes she’s cast that are counted as “conservative” by ACU are highly debatable as to whether those are good ones by which to judge conservatism. These include the FISA reauthorization bill in 2020, in which ADA took the same position as ACU, and the First Step Act (which received the vote of every voting Democrat).

On The Trump Impeachment

Democrats were unified on impeaching Donald Trump…well…almost. Representatives Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) voted against both counts. The latter would switch parties over the matter and the former lost reelection anyway. Gabbard neither voted “yea” or “nay”, rather “present”. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney voted against the first time around, as did every Republican except Mitt Romney. Despite her “present” vote and not a “nay” vote, this is easily forgiven because she is a turncoat.


Gabbard is an example of how high of a premium is put on talk as opposed to votes. The primary source of her appeal as I see it is an “anti-establishment” faction of the current right which places high value on the Ron Paul “no foreign wars” foreign policy. The truth is, that like with Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney on the other side of the aisle, Gabbard has no hopes of a future with the Democratic Party. Just as Cheney and Kinzinger are lending their presence to criticizing the GOP and endorsing several Democrats for office, she is lending her presence to criticizing the Democrats and endorsing several Republicans for office. I see Gabbard as an opportunist with certain consistencies, namely her foreign policy stances. She is NOT a conservative, but she IS anti-establishment. In looking at her past record and this rather quick turnaround, GOP base voters have a question before them in how they want to proceed: are they more of a conservative party or more of an anti-establishment party? Elevating Gabbard to any sort of high position in the party should she switch from Independent to Republican or even before that would indicate a decision in the latter direction. In this writer’s opinion, it would be an unfortunate one to make.

References

Bernstein, I. (1969). The turbulent years: A history of the American worker, 1933-1941. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books.

Bickerton, J. (2022, October 11). Tulsi Gabbard Leaves Democratic Party: ‘Elitist Cabal of Warmongers’. Newsweek.

Retrieved from

https://www.newsweek.com/tulsi-gabbard-leaves-democratic-party-elitist-cabal-warmongers-1750717

Lewis, M. (2022, October 20). Tulsi Gabbard Doesn’t Really Stand for Anything. The Daily Beast.

Retrieved from

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/tulsi-gabbard-doesnt-really-stand-for-anything/ar-AA13aV8N

Matt Schlapp Tweet. (2022, October 12). Twitter.

Retrieved from

https://twitter.com/mschlapp/status/1580157505656991744

Palmer, E. (2022, October 13). Tulsi Gabbard Favored Over Mike Pence To Win 2024 GOP Nomination – Bookmakers. Newsweek.

Retrieved from

https://www.newsweek.com/tulsi-gabbard-president-gop-mike-pence-2024-odds-1751423

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. American Conservative Union.

Retrieved from


http://ratings.conservative.org/people/G000571

The Enigmatic Joe Lieberman




Joe Lieberman left politics about ten years ago, and he was a figure of controversy especially among Democrats, as he went from Democratic standard-bearer in 2000 as vice presidential candidate to foreign policy ally for Republicans by 2004. But there’s a bit more about him than that, and truth be told, he is much like his late friend John McCain of Arizona, in that he was regarded as a “maverick” in his own party and the extent of his dissents were played up by both him and those within his party who took umbrage to these dissents.

Political Beginnings


In 1970, Lieberman, an attorney by profession, was first elected to the Connecticut Senate as a “reform Democrat”, serving for ten years. This was a springboard for higher office, and in 1980 he ran for Congress for the 3rd district. However, this was a good year for Republicans and he was defeated by Republican Lawrence DeNardis. However, this proved but a temporary setback. In 1982, Lieberman was elected attorney general, and in this position, he stressed the environment and fought for consumer protection laws.


The 1988 Election

If there was a figure in the Republican Party during the Reagan years who was a bête noire for them, it was Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut. Weicker had never been a conservative and had become increasingly liberal and combative over the years. He frequently opposed President Reagan’s positions on legislation, and by the end of his presidency he was more liberal than ever. In 1987, his ADA score was an 85% and in 1988 it was a 90%. This resulted in National Review endorsing Lieberman, finding him better than Weicker. William F. Buckley Jr., the publisher of the conservative magazine, was a personal friend of Lieberman’s and had first met him when the latter was a student at Yale. At the start of the campaign, Weicker had been polling ahead of Lieberman. This crossover conservative vote brought Lieberman over the top, with him prevailing by 0.7% and the state hasn’t had a Republican senator since. He proved a quick improvement from a conservative standpoint, albeit minor, scoring a 75% in 1989 and an 83% in 1990. In 1994, Lieberman won reelection with the highest margin in the state’s history for a Senate election with 67% of the vote and winning all counties.

Joe Lieberman vs. Violent Video Games

Many politicians in the 1990s, Democrat and Republican, were expressing concern over violent video games, and it got a bit to the point of moral panic. In 1993, he with Senators Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) conducted hearings on the matter of video game violence with the games Night Trap and Mortal Kombat figuring most prominently as examples of alarming content. Lieberman believed then and believes now that violent video games play a role in violent acts. The result of this hearing and Lieberman’s introduction of a law providing for a government panel to rate video games, was the establishment of the Interactive Digital Software Association to lobby for the industry. They also formed the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for content ratings. This was a far less dramatic response than the film industry forming the Hays Code in the 1930s to prevent federal regulation and the comic book industry forming the Comics Code in response to the 1950s moral panic on the subject.

The Postal Backfire

Although Lieberman’s efforts were successful in getting the video game industry to adopt a ratings system, his push could backfire. In 1997, the developer Running With Scissors released a game called Postal, in which you play a mass shooter. Although you don’t get rewarded for or are required to kill unarmed people, they inevitably get in the crossfire. Lieberman denounced the game on the floor of the Senate as one of the three worst things in American society, with the two others being Marilyn Manson and Calvin Klein underwear ads (Powell). Disclosure about myself here, I am a gamer who has played many violent games and I have played through and own a copy of Postal. I do not believe that a game has caused anyone to commit an act of horrible violence. People like that have the capacity within them and I believe there is a myriad of things that could trigger them.

Further Effort at Regulation

In 2005, Lieberman sponsored with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) The Family Entertainment Protection Act, which had it been enacted would have fined retailers for selling games to minors contrary to the ESRB rating system. A law similar to this proposal was passed in several states including California. In 2011, these were struck down 7-2 on First Amendment grounds by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011), which conclusively ruled that video games were a form of art.

Lieberman and Clinton

Senator Lieberman was largely supportive of President Clinton and his policies, but he was also the first Democrat to criticize him over the Lewinsky Affair. Seconded by Democrats Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Dan Moynihan of New York, Lieberman condemned Clinton’s actions as “immoral”, “disgraceful”, and “deserving of public rebuke and accountability” (Balz). Despite his criticisms, Lieberman ultimately voted against impeachment, holding that a censure would have sufficed. His criticism of Clinton’s conduct combined with his opposition to impeachment lent credibility to opposing the impeachment, thus his speech ironically helped save Clinton’s presidency. He also was a supporter of higher defense spending than many other Democrats and supported school vouchers, which went directly against the Democratic support base of teacher unions.

The 2000 Election

The pick of Joe Lieberman, the first Democratic senator to criticize President Clinton over the Lewinsky affair, seems like another way for Al Gore to distance himself from the scandal. Indeed, this was a motivation along with Lieberman being a potential first: the first Jewish vice president. The reaction from liberals to this pick was neither hostile nor enthusiastic. As Amy Isaacs of Americans for Democratic Action said on the choice of him, “I wouldn’t say dancing in the streets, but we’re not gnashing our teeth either” (Chen & Barabak). Gore did this despite Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) requesting him not to pick a nominee from a state with a Republican governor. Connecticut’s Governor at the time was Republican John Rowland. American Jews were jubilant at this first, but their first president or vice president as of 2022 still has to wait. The presidential election of 2000 was one of the most contentious in the nation’s history and ultimately Gore-Lieberman would lose to Bush-Cheney by an electoral college vote and a controversial vote count in Florida.

A Critical Break

Senator Lieberman attracted a lot of criticism for his break from the Democratic position on the Iraq War come 2004, and this has led his reputation as a maverick to be greater among Democrats and Republicans alike than it actually was. On many fundamental political issues, Lieberman remained a liberal Democrat. He was still pro-choice, pro-labor, and against the Bush tax cuts. Indeed, his average ADA score, if one does not count absences against, is an 87%. However, this issue dampened any enthusiasm that might have been had for his run for the Democratic nomination for president and harmed his prospects for renomination. In 2006, despite numerous Democrats including former President Clinton campaigning for him, he was defeated for renomination by future Governor Ned Lamont. However, Lieberman figured that he had enough support in the state to run for reelection as an Independent Democrat. He did so, and won, as many Republicans abandoned their own nominee to vote for him. Indeed, 33% of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans voted for him (CNN). Lieberman achieved an uncommon feat among senators, the ability to come back even when their own party disavows them, as did both Virginia’s Harry F. Byrd Jr. in 1970 and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski in 2010.

2008 Election

One of Lieberman’s good friends in the Senate was John McCain of Arizona, and after he was nominated, he actually endorsed him for the presidency given their agreements on foreign policy. This cemented in the minds of Democrats the idea that Lieberman had gone full Republican, even though in truth most of Lieberman’s dissents with Democrat surrounded the Iraq War. McCain had even asked him to run as his vice president, but he declined. The McCain-Lieberman ticket would have been an interesting one, an effort at a “unity” ticket. My guess though is that it still wouldn’t have won. Lieberman’s endorsement did have a number of Democrats furious with him, but newly elected President Obama felt like he needed all the support he could get for his legislation, so he didn’t push retaliation. Indeed, Lieberman would vote for most of President Obama’s legislation and he in fact voted for all of his positions on votes Americans for Democratic Action counted in their 2009 scores.

Lieberman on Obama’s Policies

Although Joe Lieberman voted for Obamacare as did all Democratic senators, he was among the Democratic senators who opposed the “public option” in the original legislation, and since passage of this measure was already going to be difficult given staunch Republican opposition, so the provision was removed. The real negotiations that occurred on the bill were not Democrats with Republicans, but rather Democrats with other Democrats. Lieberman also sponsored the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and voted for “cash for clunkers”, the stimulus plan, and SCHIP.

Retirement

Senator Lieberman opted not to run for reelection in 2012. His favorability among Democrats was probably not great given memories of his stances on the Iraq War and his endorsement of McCain in 2008. Although looking back on matters for Democrats, Lieberman’s endorsement of McCain probably doesn’t seem that bad anymore. The American Conservative Union gave him a lifetime score of 15% but DW-Nominate saw him as having a -0.205, making him a moderate liberal by that standard. In the year of his retirement, he opted not to endorse either the Democratic or Republican candidate, but in 2016 and 2020 he endorsed the Democratic candidate. In 2018, Lieberman spoke at Senator McCain’s funeral, and it was there that he revealed that he had asked him to be his VP.

References

America Votes 2006. CNN.

Retrieved from

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/CT/S/01/epolls.0.html

Balz, D. (1998, September 4). Leading Senate Democrat Blasts Clinton’s Behavior. The Washington Post.

Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/dems090498.htm

Chen, E. & Barabak, M.Z. (2000, August 8). Gore Chooses Sen. Lieberman as Running Mate. Los Angeles Times.

Retrieved from

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-aug-08-mn-635-story.html

Powell, J. (2011, June 23). Postal And The Pinnacle of Gaming Controversy. We Got This Covered.

Retrieved from

https://wegotthiscovered.com/gaming/playing-school-postal-pinnacle-gaming-controversy/

Segarra, L.M. & Newcomb, A. (2019, August 10). Joe Lieberman Famously Blamed Video Games for Violence. Now Guns and the Internet Worry Him Even More. Fortune.

Retrieved from

https://fortune.com/2019/08/10/trump-video-game-violence-joe-lieberman/