California Democrats Have Supermajorities in Both Houses of State Legislature

Nearly three weeks after Election Day, the Associated Press finally called the race for California’s 29th Senate District in favor of Democrat Josh Newman, giving state Democrats a 2/3 supermajority in both houses of the state legislature in Sacramento.

Why does this matter? According to the Los Angeles Times:

With a supermajority, a political party can raise taxes, place measures on the statewide ballot, enact laws immediately with an “urgency” clause and override a governor’s veto. In theory, it’s an enormous amount of power.

In short, one of the bluest and the most populated states in the country got even bluer for the final two years of Governor Jerry Brown’s term.

President-Elect Questions Integrity of Election He Won, State Officials Say Allegations Are Unfounded

The subject of losing the popular vote is a touchy issue for President-elect Donald Trump. Yesterday, he tweeted (among other things) this:

Not stated in the second tweet: Trump lost all three states, which also happen to have Democratic governors. In other words, the implicit subtext is that Hillary Clinton didn’t win those states fairly.  Officials from all three states have weighed in (including the Republican governor-elect of New Hampshire) on the accusation:

UPDATE: CNN’s Don Lemon made an interesting observation tonight, asking if there isn’t some sense of irony or payback for Obama supporters in all of this because President Obama had to endure years of questions about the legitimacy of his presidency at the hands of people like Donald Trump because of the birther lie.  [Note: This is a paraphrase, I will add an update to this post with transcript or video clip when it becomes available.]

UPDATE II: Here’s the transcript

MCENANY: He would have won it because he would have campaigned differently. But you have people out there calling for recounts that are unsubstantiated based on no evidence. You have Jill Stein coming on our network an hour or so ago suggesting that there were hacks or potentially hacks and we won’t know until we count the votes. There are people trying to delegitimize the president-elect of the United States?

LEMON: Why would he care? And here’s the other thing. Here’s the other thing, though. I mean, don’t you think that people are going on maybe even the current president is sitting there going, now you know how it feels to have people try to delegitimize you as a president?

MCENANY: I think you do. And in some ways the president of the United States is sticking up for Donald Trump on this and saying —

LEMON: But he did it for years with the whole birther thing.

MCENANY: He asked the question and he got his answer.

LEMON: This is karma.

MCENANY: And he moved on. But no, the president of the United States —

SELLERS: No, he never moved on.

MCENANY: I have to praise President Obama because he has actually slapped this down, and said, hey, you know what, the people spoke, let’s give him a chance. And that’s commendable.

LEMON: I don’t know — I don’t know – wait a minute. I don’t have — I have no idea what you’re saying.

MCENANY: I’m saying President Obama has been really great in all of this, and I want to commend him for really standing up for the people’s vote and saying let’s give this guy a chance. I think it’s fantastic.

LEMON: OK. But my question was, now he knows how it feels to have people say, you know, or at least insinuate that you’re not a legitimate president. Because he did it for so many years. What does that have to do with the president saying, you know —

MCENANY: Well, I think —

LEMON: Because he was being gracious and class in saying —

MCENANY: Sure.

LEMON: We must accept the outcome of the election.

Democrats Looking Ahead to Governors’ Races in 2017 and 2018

Politico has a good look at the governors’ races coming up in the next two years, and how they offer the Democratic Party’s best immediate chances as a path to rebuilding in the wake of the recent election.

Coming up first are the New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races and statewide legislative races scheduled for late 2017. Candidates in both parties are already moving in these races. I will write a preview/outlook of these states and races in December as a look for what’s ahead in the new year.

Even further down the line are the 2018 midterms. The Senate calendar that year is particularly difficult, and the likelihood of retaking the House of Representatives is slim. However, 26 out of 36 governor’s mansions up for election (or re-election) are held by Republicans. This means that if Democrats can retake some of those states, their party will be in place and in control for the 2020 census and redistricting.

The great unknown right now will be the dynamics of the country and individual states going into those election cycles. Looking at it one or two years ahead, the two obvious factors that will have an impact will be the state of the economy, as well as the popularity of the Republican-controlled Washington DC (President Trump and the McConnell/Ryan Congress).

Lots more on this subject to come in the future.

North Carolina Governor’s Race Update

According to the most recent numbers released today by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Democratic attorney general Roy Cooper leads incumbent Republican governor Pat McCrory by 7,742 votes.

UPDATE: According to a Cooper campaign press release put out on Monday morning, Cooper’s lead has grown to 9,133.

UPDATE II: From Raleigh News & Observer political reporter Colin Campbell

Fidel Castro Dead at 90

I was at the David Gray concert in Los Angeles last night thinking it would be a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend when Raul Castro dropped a bombshell and announced to the world that his brother, Fidel Castro, had died. Though this has nothing to do with the Democratic Party’s rebuilding efforts or the results of the election, it is still a momentous event that must be acknowledged.

Fidel Castro was one of the last remaining icons of the Cold War. (As Blogs of War put it, “Last member of the original Cold War cast bows out.”) Only a handful of people of that stature from both sides of the conflict are still alive, most of them from the latter years of the Cold War which ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Stansfield Turner, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, William Webster, Robert Gates, John Major, Helmut Kohl, Helmut Schmidt, Lech Walesa and Daniel Ortega.  (Feel free to contact/correct me if I forgot anyone else who should be on that list.) Castro was – for better and for worse – one of the most influential people of the 20th Century.   Read the Miami Herald obituary for more information and context.

Here is a sampling of responses and official statements from political figures in the United States and around the world:

 

Kirsten Gillibrand Reaching Out to Clinton Donors

The New York Post is reporting that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Hillary Clinton’s successor in the Senate) has been reaching out to Clinton’s donors with an implicit eye toward the 2020 presidential election.

The story also points out, “However, while Gillibrand has close ties to Clinton’s political network, the move hasn’t gone down well with some Clinton supporters. ‘Many of us are still grieving. It’s like going after the widow at a funeral.'”

In addition this could also potentially set up a battle between two New Yorkers in the 2020 Democratic primaries (the other being Governor Andrew Cuomo) to take on New Yorker Donald Trump in the general election.

Happy Thanksgiving

Not a whole lot to report today. Check out this Wall Street Journal article about the Democrats trying to figure out what to do next in the aftermath of the election. My goal is to cover a lot of the issues and subjects mentioned on this blog in the weeks, months and years ahead.

In the meantime, I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  Barring any extraordinary circumstances, regular blogging/writing/reporting will resume on Monday.

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UPDATE: CNN’s Jake Tapper makes a good observation.

Howard Dean’s Iowa Scream Revisited

Howard Dean hasn’t said or tweeted much recently since announcing his candidacy for the DNC job, but this Esquire article from earlier in the year just came to my attention, which is well worth the read: an oral history of Howard Dean’s infamous speech and scream after the 2004 Iowa caucuses.

Full disclosure: I was working at CNN during Howard Dean’s presidential run, and one of my assignments at the time was working with then-CNN producer Kate Albright-Hanna, who is interviewed in the Esquire story. Every few days, she would send a package to her office at the Washington bureau (where she and I both worked) with raw tapes that she had filmed while traveling with the Dean campaign. I would have to log the material so she could review it and could start putting together a script for what would become the CNN Presents documentary “True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign.” I think the final count was something like more than 150 tapes of raw footage that was shot for this project. (According to Kate’s producer’s notebook, it was more than 400 hours of footage shot over a course of six months.) I didn’t log them all, but as I recall I easily did close to 40 or 50 tapes by myself. As I recall, the final cut of the documentary was a very fast turnaround which had to be written, edited and approved for air between the New Hampshire primary on January 27 and Super Tuesday, which was on March 2.

Until I researched and wrote my own book years later, this was the biggest project I’d ever worked on in terms of length and quantity of source material. It was an exhausting and exhilarating experience for me very early on in my career, getting to see a presidential campaign from a perspective that was that close and that unvarnished. It wasn’t fun logging all those tapes, but the experience definitely helped to validate my career choice.

Keith Ellison Calls for End to the Electoral College

From his Twitter feed earlier today:

Ellison also put out two press releases today, one touting endorsements for DNC chairman from Lee Sanders (President of AFSCME) and Randi Weingerten (President of AFT), the other a personal statement reaffirming his support for Israel and a proposed two-state solution with the Palestinians. The second statement is likely in the aftermath of yesterday’s New York Times article which noted his previous comments praising Louis Farrakhan, as well as the likely review of those comments by opposition researchers and journalists now that he is running for DNC chairman.

DNC Candidate Jaime Harrison Expresses “Concern” Over Nikki Haley’s Lack of Foreign Policy Experience

The big news early this morning is that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to be his ambassador to the United Nations. This in spite of some jabs between the two of them during the primaries:

South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison – who is running for the DNC chairman job – released this statement:

UPDATE: For fairness and context, read this Associated Press story on the background and credentials of the last four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations.

UPDATE II: Some more context on the background of another U.N. ambassador, from Bush 41 biographer Jon Meacham: