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

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The two main Republicans hoping to take on California Governor Jerry Brown in the fall have failed to vote in many elections, according to documents and interviews.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has cast a ballot in about half of the elections held since 1995, while former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari has voted in roughly 60 percent of elections since he turned 18.

Spotty voting records have dogged previous unsuccessful gubernatorial candidates, including 2010 Republican nominee Meg Whitman and 1998 Democratic candidate Al Checchi. Analysts said that although such revelations do not typically sink a candidacy, they offer Brown an obvious line of attack.

“It isn’t a fatal problem, but it’s a problem,” said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College and a former national GOP official.

“It might be more of a problem for Kashkari, because he’s parachuting into politics,” never having run for elected office, Pitney said. “Donnelly at least can say that he has participated in California government and California issues.”

Voters will take note but are more concerned with issues such as unemployment and the economy, Pitney said.

Dan Newman, a political spokesman for Brown, said Tuesday that voting is a “basic civic duty” and the “simplest possible way to affect public policy and show that you care.”

“For candidates to not vote suggests that their candidacies are more about their personal ambition rather than actually wanting to have an impact on public policy,” Newman said.

Donnelly, a 47-year-old staunch conservative from the Inland Empire town of Twin Peaks and the founder of a Minuteman border-patrol chapter, voted in 19 of 37 elections from 1995 to 2013, according to records provided by the San Bernardino County Elections Office.

The agency does not have voting records before 1995 because it switched record-keeping systems that year, spokeswoman Audilia Lozado said.

Jennifer Kerns, Donnelly’s campaign manager, noted that the lawmaker has voted in every presidential election since 2000, in every gubernatorial contest since 2006 and at other times when there were major ballot measures, such as the 2008 same-sex marriage ban.

“He voted in the elections in which there were pressing issues facing our state,” Kerns said. “It appears he may have missed a few of the local elections … but that may have simply been due to his travel schedule, raising five children and running a small business at the time.”

Kashkari’s campaign said the 40-year-old Laguna Beach millionaire voted in eight of 10 presidential and gubernatorial general elections, and about half of the primaries and local elections for which he was eligible.

A spokesman said his voting became more consistent once he learned, in 2006, that he could cast absentee ballots. Kashkari’s voting record was first reported in The San Francisco Chronicle.

The day after he announced he was running for governor, Kashkari acknowledged that he had not consistently gone to the polls. He cited his decision to leave a lucrative investment banking career at Goldman Sachs to work for the U.S. Treasury Department as proof that he values public engagement.

“I believe voting is critical, and civic participation is critical,” Kashkari told reporters last week. “That’s why I left a very attractive career in the private sector to go serve in the government for three years under two different presidents.”

Photo: Steve Rhodes via Flickr

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.]