The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

By David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Presidential announcement mania is coming. Look fast or you’ll miss it.

Five more candidates — four Republicans and one Democrat — are expected to formally announce their presidential intentions between now and June 4.

The twitterverse will hum, a poll may spike a notch or two and for an instant, cable channels will feature warm, fuzzy pictures of someone’s humble hometown.

And the public will shrug. Already, six Republicans and two Democrats have announced and found any momentum was fleeting.

The upcoming batch of Republican announcements includes: Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 Iowa caucus winner, on Wednesday; former New York Gov. George Pataki on Thursday; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on June 1; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on June 4.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to announce on Saturday his bid for the Democratic nomination.

Here are the pitfalls they face:

  • Their poll positions may not change.”They may see a blip, but voters aren’t paying attention yet,” said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Former business executive Carly Fiorina had less than 1 percent in an April Fox News poll, declared her candidacy May 4, and is now at 1 percent.
  • The hometown glow may not last.”Most of us are still drawn to the real or imagined stability and solid values,” wrote Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Santorum plans to announce near his boyhood home in Cabot, Pa., and Perry’s due to speak in Dallas. Chances are people will quickly forget — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced in Hope, Ark., on May 5, and went from 9 percent in the April Fox poll to 10 percent after his speech.
  • You shouldn’t go home again.Graham plans an announcement in his home state, but a lot of South Carolina Republicans are cool to his conciliatory ways. Graham didn’t even attend the party’s candidate forum in his state on May 9. O’Malley, who plans a rally in downtown Baltimore, has faced questions about his 1999-2007 tenure as mayor, when his tough-on-crime policies often alienated black voters.
  • Don’t get boxed in.Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced his candidacy at Liberty University in Virginia in March, stressing his devotion to Christian principles. While that could help him among influential Christian right voters in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus, it also could brand him as overly beholden to that constituency, not a traditional recipe for nationwide success.
  • Will you still remember me tomorrow?The five hopefuls are barely known outside their home states and could engage in a media demolition derby. As soon as one’s done, another steps in. Santorum’s announcement is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, but the next day, bam, Pataki’s up. Forty-eight hours later, O’Malley. And so on.

More ominously, lurking just behind this group are bigger names who have signaled they’ll have something to say in June, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Not to mention former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Donald Trump, a man who knows how to get attention.

Get ready in June, he told an Iowa Republican dinner May 16, for an announcement that’s “going to surprise a lot of people.”

Photo: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is slated to announce his campaign for the presidency June 4. Ed Schipul via Flickr


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

Keep reading... Show less

Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}