Sunday, November 17, 2013

A House Divided: Concluding Primary Season

Justice Kennedy announces retirement, cites health issues
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
7 April 2016, updated 9:51 AM EST

Longtime Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he will be retiring after 28 years of serivce on the Court. He stated that he has been honored to hold his position for so long, but that he feels that he must reitre now because his wavering health is preventing him from carrying out his position to the best of his ability. Justice Kennedy was appointed by Reagan in 1988, and although he has been generally identified as conservative, he is a frequent swing voter in court cases, making the critical decisions in cases like striking down Proposition 8 and DOMA.

The decisions now turn to President Obama to make an appointment to fill the spot, and his appointment will very likely give the Supreme Court a liberal majority of 5, something that the court has not had in decades. This will also be President Obama's fourth nomination to the Supreme Court, which is far more than most presidents tend to be able to make. Republicans in the Senate are likely to block a number of possible choices that the president might make, and some of the leadership has already stated that they will block a replacement that is "less moderate and more stiff and uncompromisingly liberal." President Obama has not yet given an indication as to what direction he is going to take beyond thanking Justice Kennedy for his service on the court.

Murkowski becomes projected Republican presidential nominee
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
15 April 2016, updated 9:51 AM EST

The Republican contest was hard fought, but as of today, we can officially project that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has clinched the Republican nomination for president. The 29 delegates from the primary in Oregon put her comfortably over the top of the required number of 1144 delegates, effectively rendering the primary season over for the Republican Party. Campaign headquarters in Anchorage popped open a bottle of champagne and confetti when she was projected winner in Oregon, and Murkowkski made what can be considered her first general election campaign speech to supporters in Portland. She thanked all of her supporters for making her able to go "from the bottom of the pack to the nominee in a few short months." She emphasized that she will bring the true Republican Party to the table in the election, and the American voters have been disillusioned with the Republican Party because of "insensible extremists that have been running the show" as opposed to more moderate and common sense ideals.

Christie nor Cruz have conceded the race or provided an endorsement of Murkowski, but the endorsements for Murkowski from most major figures in the Republican Party have started to file in, notably President Bush and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Cruz has responded by stating that he thinks the Republican Party chose the wrong candidate, and that "by picking the weak candidate, they show that they do not want to win another election."

O'Malley wins Democratic nomination with united party support
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
18 April 2016, updated 9:51 AM EST

A big win in Washington and Oregon, followed by an endorsement from Senator Klobuchar, has effectively made Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland the Democratic nominee for president. Klobuchar stated that "it was obvious I was not going to win the nomination, and the sooner we are a united front the better." O'Malley spoke to a crowd in Tampa Bay today, speaking that "America needs a renewed push for the betterment of American society, getting people out of poverty and creating a stronger middle class." He also pushed for a strong pursuit of civil liberties, such as nationwide legalization of gay marriage and a significant stripping of the Patriot Act and its capabilities to maneuver around specific rights. The Democratic Party is absolutely united around their nominee headed into convention, which could spell a tremendous advantage for them.

ANN is prepared to give America a first look in what will very likely be our general election matchup: O'Malley and Murkowski. In preliminary polling, O'Malley holds a lead in the popular vote by 1% and a 10 point lead in the electoral vote. Murkowski is clearly more competitive in the Midwest and Northeast than Romney was, as Maine's 2nd as well as at-large, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota all states that are legitimately in play for her that were not for Romney. However, O'Malley appears to be polling well in states along the eastern seaboard, such as critical swing states Virginia and North Carolina. What might critically affect the race are the VP choices that each candidate makes.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) - She is probably one of the more obvious choices, seeing that she was his main competitor in the primaries and she gracefully bowed out to allow him to clinch the nomination earlier than expected. She also has a lot of appeals O’Malley does not have, being slightly more moderate, connecting to rural voters and also to women, plus the fact that she could likely make the state of Minnesota more in the Democratic column.
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) - This is another widely thought of choice, since he was also an early endorsing primary competitor. He has little political baggage, and has a wide variety of appeals across the west. He could also very likely put Colorado, a critical swing state, in O’Malley’s collum.
Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) - He is a very strong and popular governor in the state of Massachusetts, and he would reinforce what O’Malley stands for rather well, but he does not necessarily provide any balance or any extra appeal O’Malley does not already have, aside from support of the African-American vote, which is already high.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) - Many were disappointed when she decided not to run for the presidency this year, but there is no signs that she has any slowing ambition. She is a very outspoken proponent of progressive ideas, and especially things that affect women, shown through her enormous role behind reducing the number of sexual assault cases in the military. She would likely give him a commanding percent of the female vote, but there are concerns that she could be a Ferraro 2.0, and completely overshadow O’Malley on the campaign trail.
Senator Allison Grimes (D-KY) - She is young, and a rising star in the Senate that shows much ambition. In 2014, she handily defeated the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the solid red state of Kentucky, and proceeded to become very popular in her home state. She would reinforce O’Malley’s ideas well, but many people are concerned that she does not have enough experience to handle tough issues if push comes to shove.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) - He is one of the biggest options for VP in the field because of his national presence and his ability to flip the critical swing state of Florida. Murkowski could also mend some broken links with the more conservative elements of her party, but his senate seat is up for election this year, and it would vacate a senate seat that could easily fall to the Democrats, which is something that the Republicans want to avoid.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) - The junior senator from Arizona is relatively unknown, but he carries little political baggage and could make a very solid choice. Murkowski worked with him on a number of occasions in the Senate, and he has a very moderate voting record. He is also one of the best at Hispanic outreach in the Republican Party, which could be a tremendous asset for Murkowski.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) - Another moderate Senator, this time located in the critical swing state of Ohio. He was notable for being one of the first Republicans in Congress to come out in support for gay marriage, and he enjoys a lot of support in his home state. He could flip Ohio, but his presence could cause social conservatives to stay home, or worse, try to prop up an independent Tea Party ticket.
Fmr. Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) - The former Utah governor has declined to run again this year, but he is far from being out of politics. He was an early endorser of Murkowski and he has appeared on the trail with her. His compassionate conservative image could help shore up the more conservative elements of her party without isolating moderates, and that could be critical to the election.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-UT) - She is yet another senator from another swing state, but she has become more of an outspoken voice in the Senate over the past few years and has become popular in her party. She has a lot of “compassionate conservative” elements as well that do not cater to the Tea Party and do not isolate moderates, which is a bonus. A double female ticket for the GOP could do tremendous things for their election chances.

Christie endorses Murkowski, but Cruz still holds back
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
21 April 2016, updated 9:51 AM EST

Senator Ted Cruz made his feelings about Murkowski’s nomination well known in an interview today, stating that “she leads the Republican Party in the wrong direction.” After Murkowski clinched a majority of delegates on April 15, Cruz or Christie reserved their endorsements. Christie gave out his endorsement only yesterday, stating that “he will hold no grudges” and that “the party needs to unite behind the kind of ideas that should lead us. It has been speculated that he threw his support merely to prevent a Cruz challenge, as the governor has made it well known that he prefers Murkowski to Cruz. He also stated that he is not willing to accept the vice presidential nomination.

On the other hand, Cruz has still refused to endorse his party’s supposed nominee. He stated that he has many reservations about her electability, and that she represents a very muddled idea of conservatism. He has called on her to “choose somebody who can display true conservative values” as her vice presidential choice if she wants his support and by extension that of the Tea Party caucus. He did not provide a solid answer when questioned about whether or not an independent Tea Party ticket is a possibility, stating that “the ticket does not represent what we stand for right now.” Murkowski has not made any further comments on her VP choice since this interview.

Obama nominates Paul Watford to be Kennedy’s successor
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
29 April 2016, updated 9:51 AM EST

President Obama announced that he will be nominating Ninth Circuit judge Paul Watford to fill the seat of the retiring Justice Kennedy. The president announced this at a press conference earlier today at the White House, where he introduced Watford as his nominee. The president stated that he chose him because of  “vigor, yet experience that will allow him to continue Justice Kennedy’s legacy.”  Minority Leader John Cornyn has already stated that Senate Republicans will be blocking his nomination because he did not fit the bill of moderate that they wanted to fill his seat. The Senate will hold an initial vote on confirming Watford’s nomination in a week.

O’Malley picks Klobuchar as vice presidential nominee
Chris Bradford, ANN Contributor
3 May 2016, updated1:46 PM EST

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Martin O’Malley announced today that he would be nominating former competitor and Senator Amy Klobuchar as his vice presidential nominee. In a rally in Minneapolis, he stated that “there was no better choice than the stronghearted Senator from Minnesota who could connect with Americans better than the rest of us.” She stated that she was “honored to receive the vice presidential nomination, and that she hopes to help take the Democratic Party to victory in November. O’Malley, has received a small boost from this announcement of 1% and Minnesota has flipped from toss up to Democratic lean.

On the other side of the field, Murkowski has been keeping busy trying to repair the image of the Republican Party as a united one, while trying to find a vice presidential nominee that will help to actually unite the party. Some people who have publicly expressed interest in being the VP are Congressman Tim Huelskamp and Governor Bobby Jindal. The only thing that Murkowski has stated is that she will have a short list within two weeks time. The GOP is at a significant disadvantage at the moment due to lack of unity, which the Democratic Party is displaying a significant amount of.

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