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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) scored a major, albeit unintuitive endorsement on Monday morning, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that it is supporting her campaign.

The endorsement is somewhat surprising, given that Ernst — a second-term state senator and a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard — is facing former Reliant Energy CEO Mark Jacobs in the Republican primary. Although Jacobs has used his extensive business experience as the basis for his campaign, the Chamber believes that Ernst is the better candidate for business.

“Joni understands that big government is an impediment to job creation, and that the best way to turn the economy around and create jobs is through pro-growth economic policies,” Chamber political director Rob Engstrom said in a statement. “The U.S Chamber is proud to stand with Joni and highlight her work removing regulatory barriers and encouraging competition in Iowa. In today’s economy, that’s the type of leadership we need in Washington.”

The endorsement also appears to be inconsistent with the group’s outspoken support for comprehensive immigration reform efforts. The Chamber has made it clear that reform is among its top legislative priorities — on Monday, Chamber president Tom Donahoe went as far as to claim that “if Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016” — but if Ernst joins Congress, she would be an impediment to such efforts. Ernst has declared that she is against all “amnesty” efforts, and suggests enforcing existing immigration laws instead of pursuing new legislation.

“We’ve talked a lot about the ‘Gang of Eight’ with immigration, and I don’t support that. I think that’s going in the wrong direction,” Ernst said at an Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition event in September 2013. “So first, secure the border. Second, start enforcing the laws that are on the books now.”

Ernst is not the only Republican who opposes immigration reform, but has still received a Chamber of Commerce endorsement. As Salon’s Jim Newell points out, Chamber-backed candidates Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), and North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) are all outspoken opponents of reform efforts.

The Chamber is one of two major groups to endorse Ernst on Tuesday; the National Rifle Association also announced its support her for campaign. The two groups join former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Ernst’s suddenly crowded corner.

The high-profile support could give Ernst a much-needed fundraising boost. She is currently being greatly outraised and outspent by Jacobs and the Democratic frontrunner in the race, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley.

Despite her financial disadvantage, Ernst has been steadily rising in the polls, and now leads Jacobs by 10 percent in The Huffington Post’s polling average.

The endorsements also provide Ernst with a welcome opportunity to change the subject; for the past several days, Ernst’s campaign had been managing questions about the senator’s disastrous interview with the Des Moines Register, in which she falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

Screenshot: YouTube

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Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]