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Leading Off:

SD Mayor: A huge upset in San Diego on Tuesday night, as City Councilman David Alvarez snuck past former Assemblyman (and fellow Democrat) Nathan Fletcher to secure the second spot in the special runoff for mayor. With Fletcher conceding and offering his endorsement, Alvarez will now face Republican Kevin Faulconer, also a city councilman, in the second round of voting, likely to be held on Feb. 11. Since this is California, there are still ballots to count—some 34,500, according to election officials—but at the moment, Alvarez has a 2,600-vote lead over Fletcher, good for a 26 to 24 percent edge; Faulconer, the only prominent Republican in this officially non-partisan race, is out front with 44 percent.

Fletcher came into the contest with strong name recognition, thanks to his third-place finish in last year's mayoral election, and early polls showed him as a lock to make the runoff. But as we noted earlier this week, both Faulconer and Alvarez (and their allies) spent a lot of time and money attacking Fletcher—who was a Republican less than two years ago—from both the left and the right. Late polling from SurveyUSA showed Fletcher sliding and Alvarez, the choice of labor unions, surging; their final numbers pegged Tuesday's results quite closely.

Faulconer went after Fletcher because he prefers to face the more liberal Alvarez one-on-one. But SUSA found only a small difference between the two, with Faulconer leading Fletcher 47-38 and Alvarez 51-38. After Alvarez's big victory, I wouldn't be surprised to see that spread tighten up a bunch. Still, SurveyUSA was right about the first round. If they're right about the second, then Democrats start out in a deep hole to retain a mayoralty they finally picked up after a long drought just a year ago. On the other hand, the top three Dems combined for 54 percent of the vote, so if Alvarez can win over Fletcher's supporters, he'll have a shot, though it won't be easy.


CO-Sen: Quinnipiac continues its string of Colorado polls showing shaky numbers for Democrats, with their first-ever tests of next year's Senate race. Here's how freshman Sen. Mark Udall fares against half a dozen different Republicans:

45-42 vs. 2010 nominee Ken Buck

43-40 vs. businessman Jaime McMillan

44-39 vs. state Sen. Randy Baumgardner

45-39 vs. state Sen. Owen Hill

45-38 vs. state Rep. Amy Stephens

45-36 vs. businessman Mark Aspiri

It's certainly strange to see Quinnipiac showing Udall doing no better than Gov. John Hickenlooper, since Hickenlooper's taken some personal hits that have no bearing on Udall's situation. And the school has had some inexplicable Colorado results at times, like their Aug. 2012 poll showing Mitt Romney leading by 5 (something that almost certainly wasn't the case). They also have Hillary Clinton faring very poorly against a variety of opponents in hypothetical presidential matchups in this latest dataset.

But there's only been one other public poll of the state all year, from PPP, back in April. That survey had both Hick and Udall at around the 50 percent mark, but if Democratic fortunes in Colorado have indeed suffered since then, it'd be nice to get some confirmation. For now, all we have to go on is Quinnipiac, but it's always preferable to be able to compare multiple polls from multiple pollsters.


MI-Gov: Denno Research is one of those oddball Michigan pollsters whose results are often hard to explain. Case in point: Their new poll of the governor's race has Republican Gov. Rick Snyder up 45-31 over Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer. But back in late July, they had Snyder leading 43-37. So did Schauer really drop 6 points all on his own over the last few months? Elections don't usually work that way—candidates don't become less well-known as time goes on.

OH-Gov: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee, has selected state Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney as his running-mate. (Dolph and Jimbo are reported to be very disappointed.) Kearney hails from Cincinnati at the opposite end of the state, and he's also African American. FitzGerald has had difficulty wooing black pols to his side, and some (like Rep. Marcia Fudge) have even refused to endorse him despite the fact that he's the only Democrat running. It sounds like Fitz, an independent-minded former prosecutor, is suffering because he doesn't play the old ward-heeler game, and some of these Democrats have shamelessly cozied up to GOP Gov. John Kasich. Would they really prefer Kasich to FitzGerald?


AZ-02: A couple of days after telling a reporter that he hadn't yet decided whether to seek re-election, Dem Rep. Ron Barber pretty much walked that back in a new statement. Said Barber: "I am focused on doing my job, serving southern Arizona—not reelection. There will be plenty of time next year to talk about the campaign—but let me be clear—I will be running and am putting everything in place to win." That "I will be running" line seems rather definitive, so it's a mystery as to why Barber publicly discussed his hesitancy earlier this week.

FL-19: So GOP Rep. Trey Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Wednesday, earning a year of probation, proving once again that rich people don't get jail time, they get therapy. Radel, it turns out, was busted trying to purchase cocaine from an undercover officer, apparently as part of a broader investigation into drug trafficking in the District of Columbia. He says he'll enter an in-patient treatment facility in Florida but didn't mention anything about resigning. Rather, at a press conference at 10:30 PM on Wednesday night, Radel said he'd take a leave of absence and donate his congressional salary to charity.

Meanwhile, several Republicans are considering a challenge to Radel in the primary. Most amusingly, ex-Rep. Connie Mack, who held this seat before Radel, punted on the question; Mack is a notorious waster who was memorably dubbed the "Charlie Sheen of Florida politics" by ex-Sen. George LeMieux in last year's Senate race, so he'd match up pretty poorly again Radel on the moral character front.

More actively, Chauncey Goss, the son of ex-Rep. Porter Goss who was runner-up to Radel in 2012, says he's thinking about it, as is ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel, who finished third. Another name mentioned is state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto. So if Radel tries to seek another term, he'll definitely have to watch his back.

NJ-05: Confirming an unsourced earlier report, state Sen. Bob Gordon says he is in fact considering a run for Congress against GOP Rep. Scott Garrett. Gordon just won a bruising re-election campaign to the legislature, though, and he acknowledges that taking on Garrett "would be extraordinarily difficult," so it doesn't sound like he's leaning toward a bid. Gordon also thought about it last cycle but declined.

NY-23: This wouldn't be that interesting, except for the fact that it keeps happening: GOP Rep. Tom Reed's law office was late in paying its property taxes this year, which the Buffalo News notes is the 39th occasion that either Reed or one of his businesses has failed to pay such bills in a timely fashion since 2005. Reed points out that he's no longer involved with the law firm (he can't be, as a member of Congress), but really, that's a lot of delinquent tax payments, and his Democratic opponent, Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson, is trying to make an issue of them. We'll see if she succeeds.

Grab Bag:

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso recaps Tuesday's four legislative specials:

California AD-45: This turned out to be a close one. Democrat Matt Dababneh currently leads Republican Susan Shelley by 173 votes.

Iowa SD-13: Republican Julian Garrett easily held this seat for his party, defeating Democrat Mark Davitt by a 60-40 margin.

Wisconsin AD-21: Republican Jessie Rodriguez defeated Democrat Elizabeth Coppola by a 56-44 margin, keeping the seat in Republican hands.

Wisconsin AD-69: Republican Bob Kulp had no trouble winning here; he got 67 percent of the vote to Democrat Ken Slezak's 24 percent, while independent Tim Swiggum pulled in 9 percent.

Democrats badly underperformed the district lean in all four of these races, but the most disturbing is California's. It's a 63 percent Obama seat, and in the first round of voting, Democratic candidates combined for a similar 62 percent. But with Dababneh barely above 50, that represents a huge falloff for Team Blue, though he's likely to hang on as Democrats always improve in late-counted votes in Cali. By the same token, IA SD-13 and WI AD-21 were both 51 percent Romney, and WI AD-69 was 55 percent Romney.

Grab Bag:

House: These figures are much higher than I'd have thought: According to a new study from the University of Minnesota, fully 14 percent of the entire House was first elected via special elections. Interestingly, the rate is much higher for Democrats (almost 19 percent) than Republicans (under 10 percent). I'm not sure why that might be, and I'd be curious to hear ideas, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that a large fraction of the GOP caucus was recently elected in the regularly scheduled Nov. 2010 general election.

Maps: Here's a very cool map of the United States that almost represents a sort of alternate history, from John Lavey of the Sonoran Institute, a conservationist group:

A map of the United States with state borders redrawn according to watersheds
(click for larger)
Lavey was inspired to redraw the continental United States along the lines of its watersheds by 19th century geologist John Wesley Powell, who proposed that new states created in the arid west be formed around watersheds to minimize conflicts over scarce water resources. Powell's vision, detailed in a gorgeous, full-color map, never came even close to realization, though. Lavey explains that rail companies lobbied against Powell's plan because they preferred existing state lines, which he says allowed them to maximize revenues from the agricultural industry.

Had we instead followed Powell's ideas, we might see far fewer fights over water between states today. But Lavey also explores at length many other changes that Powell's map might have wrought—and then takes things one step further by asking "what if?" and applying Powell's approach to the entire country. It's a fascinating notion of an alternate United States, one that would likely be very different from the nation we know.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  maybe botched ACA rollout and Obama you-can-keep- (4+ / 0-)

    your-health-plan-if-you-like-it misstatement are dampening Democrats' enthusiasm in these various polls and the 4 special elections Tuesday.

    We had a real head of steam after the Republican government shutdown and near default on US debts, but that has been largely forgotten and overtaken by the daily stories of how badly the Administration BUNGLED its 3 1/2 year preparation and roll out of the ACA web site.  [They had from March 23, 2010 enactment to October 1, 2013 web site launch to get it right - and failed.]

    Coupled with Obama's you-can-keep-your-health-plan-if-you-like-it reassurance that turns out not to be true, a lot of people I know, including many Democrats who have been defending the ACA, are in a funk.

    It's a good thing the 2014 elections are a year off.

    •  The shutdown bump was always going to be temporary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac, a2nite, Aquarius40

      Anybody who thought that anger over the shutdown would last more than a few weeks was delusional. A month is an eternity in politics. There are voters who won't even remember the government was shut down if you asked them today.

      •  Yes, the bump was going to fade, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541, wdrath, R30A

        but the ACA screw up meant it didn't FADE, it dropped like a ROCK!

        "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

        by SouthernLeveller on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:44:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nice marmot

      And clearly the media has pulled out all the stops to try to make it worse.

      I however campaigned strongly for Obama in both elections.  I certainly support the Left and I am in a funk.  This was an EASY roll out.  Start wtih 600,000,000.00 ... WHAT?  Its a f*** website.  You don't need nor should you EVER use bid contractors on something like this.  With a 3.5 year lead and full knowledge that a large section of the electorate was dedicated to making this fail, you hire educators who are specialists in programming to train government programmers who you have vetted for loyalty as best you can.  You put in political appointees who are also technologists (how about some people from Google or Facebook, for example) to oversee and you DIRECTLY CHECK on at least a weekly basis.  You walk among the programmers.  You talk to them.  You listen to their complaints, their hopes and their fears.  This website should have rolled out flawlessly.

      Since it didn't, since errors were made, right now two things should be publicly addressed or handled.  The first -- an investigation should quietly be performed by extremely well educated technologists who are loyal to the Left to determine if it was deliberately and overtly sabotaged, which can actually be determined, particularly if you bring in hacker quality programmers.  The findings of that investigation should be trumpeted, because I'll tell you something, and I've programmed for 22 years at various levels  -- there WAS sabotage.  This is a simple site, its failure, no matter how large a volume it has to handle -- presages deliberate action on the part of some of the programmers or even the contractors themselves.  It should be investigated, discovered, and revealed.  Those responsible should be arrested. If this was done to a private business, its criminal.  It's no less so to government.  Any thinking person realizes that if the California site, programmed by Cali itself, is fine, and the Kentucky site, and the New York site and so forth... then the fault lies with the programming, and that leads straight to the contractors.  The second -- Much of the canceled insurance is being canceled fraudulently to get people to buy more expensive insurance, with the illegal actions of companies being blamed falsely on Obamacare.  SEVERAL states have now fined or sanctioned pretty major insurers for fraud and legal violations regarding this.  This needs to be addressed directly by the president.

      All of that though is damage control.  Legitimate damage control, but damage control.  What bothers me is that it happened at all.  My faith in the president has taken a HUGE hit from this.  HUGE.  There was no reason for it,  and it is entirely his fault.  He should have been sitting on this and have assumed that every single person he dealt with or his admin dealt with on this might (30% at least) want it to fail even if it was the best thing since sliced bread -- and take appropriate precautions.  He is our leader, he should trust no one with something this large without his direct oversight.

    •  We need to get (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, mikejay611

      the ACA off the air for awhile. Obama and Dems need to change the story until the story is better and get points on the board.  My suggestion: Obama should publicly suspend all deportations and threaten the House to pass immigration reform before the end of the year or O will issue an executive order of amnesty (REAL amnesty like Reagan gave twice) to all undocumented aliens who report in before December '14.

      "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

      by SouthernLeveller on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:43:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the administration's defense... (5+ / 0-)

      The law never made provisions for the feds to handle the program for 36 states.  There was never the requisite funding in the bill to do so.  This is really an important point that seems to get glossed over a lot.


      by LordMike on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:16:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No No No No (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541, mikejay611

      That is not how special elections work.

      Less people vote in special elections. Especially poor people, minorities, young people -- people that overwhelmingly lean Democratic.

      And two of the special elections were in Republican districts.

      The problems with Obamacare had nothing to do with the results in any of the special elections.

      Nothing to see here. Move along.

      (plus progressives just won huge wins only two weeks ago)

    •  this gives me the jitters about 2014... (0+ / 0-)

      ...not only are we facing an historical trend where the party of the incumbent president usually faces losses during mid-terms (especiallly during second term mid-terms), but we also have the president with low approval numbers and 24/7 media use of Republican talking points about Obamacare.

      If things don't change, it makes me wonder if Democrats will take a drubbing, losing the Senate and more House seats. If so, we haven't seen anything yet when it comes to what Republicans will feel emboldened to do (not a single nominee approved for anything over the president's last two years, for instance, not to mention even more austere budgets than we've already had).

  •  The rate of being initially elected via special (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    election also increases with seniority - a quarter of the longest-serving members entered in not-January.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Ponder Stibbons on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:18:26 AM PST

  •  Interesting map of the US. Having been born (0+ / 0-)

    and raised in New York City, I have to point out that New Jersey is definitely west of the Hudson. That's why New Yorkers sometimes say, "West of the Hudson it's all New Jersey," as a general comment about the hinterlands.

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:28:17 AM PST

    •  CT Hudson? (0+ / 0-)

      I don't understand what that map is showing in the Hudson watershed. Its upper 2/3 is labeled "CT" and its lower 1/3 "NJ", while "NY" has no Hudson (or any river) at all. While the Connecticut River flows through what's labeled "VT" down through "RI", not through "CT".

      If these cartographers are saying that the Hudson watershed is entirely in NJ/CT, not NY, and the Connecticut River doesn't flow through Connecticut, they're living in a much weirder US than the way that map looks.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:05:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Get It (0+ / 0-)

        After actually reading the explanation I se that the cartographers indeed do live in a much weirder US than the way that map looks. Alternate state boundaries defined by rivers rather than by incremental conquests.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:09:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Local Perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, TrueBlueDem

    San Diego is a moderately conservative town and Faulconer is a moderate conservative. His district represents a wide and disparate swath of the city, from wealthy suburbs to gentrified sections of downtown to hang-loose beach towns, and he's no Tea Party maniac. He's a nice, safe, boring choice for a city that somewhat prides itself on being all three.

    It's tough for a Democratic candidate to win here. Democrats won the San Diego mayor and Congressional election in 2012 because the Republicans put up Tea Party zealot-types, and that doesn't fly here. But Faulconer is much more in line with the polite, low-key kind of Republican the town prefers.

    Fletcher would've been a much better bet to beat him 1-on-1. Alvarez -- the only native San Diegan of the four significant candidates in the first round -- represents the lower-income Latino and other minority areas, and has been much more the voice of "the people." Like in all big cities, the ruling elite -- i.e., developers -- don't really like "the people" at all, and I think even a lot of white Democrats are going to vote for Faulconer, who is a former PR guy and comes across as measured and reasonable.

    Alvarez is at least a decade younger than Faulconer, has a baby face, and not much gravitas. He's the better man and I voted for him in the first round, but now I'm wondering if I made a mistake because it's going to be a tough haul for him to beat Faulconer. That said, Fletcher is the worst kind of empty suit without any core beliefs you can identify, and Faulconer is unlikely to do anything significantly horrible.

    "The Weight is a Gift." - Nada Surf

    by AdHack on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:35:41 AM PST

    •  I wouldn't count him out (0+ / 0-)

      I had at least 7 phone contacts from his GOTV machine, even after I made it clear I was a solid vote.  He closed a 11  point spread in just a week and a half.

      Faulkner has the edge just as you say, and has the media backing him (the UT is owned by a local developer),  but if he underestimates Alvarez he could be in trouble.

      "Searches with nonspecific warrants were ‘the single immediate cause of the American Revolution.’” Justice Wm. Brennan, referring to the 4th Amendment

      by Nailbanger on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:51:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He has the Filner factor working for him (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        - Lots - of the general public smell something stinky regarding how Filner got booted.  My wife ran into a republican leaning woman who made the comment about how could Filner be in Congress for that long and not have the problems he was accused of take him out?  

        The backdrop of the coup is making more voters than are being registered in polls looking to keep the candidate favored most by the Pete Wilson gang (Fletcher was their guy and Faulconer is their backup) from getting into the mayor's seat.  In San Diego politics, anybody who has been here for a while knows the system has been rigged against the public for a very long time.  Expect that block that swelled in numbers after the Filner execution to vote for Alvarez as the protest vote.

        •  Local Perspective, II (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I would hesitate to call what happened with Bob Filner a "coup."  I've only been in the city a few years, but I'd heard MUCH gossip about Filner the, shall we say, overly aggressive pursuer of women, even before he ran for mayor.

          It's possible, I suppose, that the allegations that arose once he became mayor were trumped up, but his predatory activity against women during his years prior to being elected mayor were well known in town. Why it didn't sink him previously, I don't know. He certainly was well-liked by the military for his actions in Congress, that might have had something to do with it.

          "The Weight is a Gift." - Nada Surf

          by AdHack on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 08:21:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Socialist City (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      San Diego is dominated by the Navy and the industry that supports it. That means its electorate is dominated by people dependent on government incomes. Of course the Republican Party is the truly socialist one (central planning of a military economy, state/corporate power merger, handouts instead of competition, actual atheism, etc), but making the military sacred keeps its image.

      But Democrats should be able to do that. Republicans screw over the military as much (or more) as they screw over the rest of the 99%. If Democrats didn't join Republicans in their misadventures (Iraq AUMF) they could tell even San Diego how they lead better. Lite Republican Lite isn't going to beat Lite Republican in San Diego.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:15:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't really research (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      any of the mayoral candidates (I'm very embarrassed to admit this).  However, I did decide to vote against Faulconer the day I saw a tea party bumper sticker and a Faulconer bumper sticker on the same car.  I wouldn't vote for Fletcher, because I feel he is a symbol of all that was wrong with Sacramento for so long.  He's wants us to believe that he was a moderate voice, when the truth is he followed the party line and blocked lots of legislation.  For me, forgive and forget doesn't apply to politicians

      Based on all the signs I've seen on my bike rides around the city I think Faulconer will be hard to stop and knowing he is a moderate makes feel better about that.  However, if Alvarez (who I voted for mainly because the Dems endorsed him) can inspire the Hispanics to vote, I think he can put up a good fight.

  •  Instant Runoff Voting for NYC (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NYC is considering running elections as "instant runoff voting", which measures consensus rather than factional dominance. It eliminates the threat of "spoiler candidate", while also giving less established candidates a shot at victory if they're everyone's #2.

    The new for 2014 NYC government all currently serve together on the City Council, where the top players have long been allies. Deblasio (mayor), Brewer (Manhattan boro president), James (Public Advocate) worked as a team (that New Yorkers foolishly picked Bloomberg/Quinn over), and will have more cooperation from the legislative Council than the City has had for decades.

    NYC can probably switch all its elections to IRV without state approval, but it will probably do so. That would pave the way for state elections to go IRV. Which could finally give New Yorkers a way out of the corrupt incumbency racket that keeps our representation and executives always an insider's game. And from there, maybe the nation.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 06:56:50 AM PST

  •  here's a map by precinct for San Diego race ... (0+ / 0-)
  •  I really thought we had a chance in (0+ / 0-)

    Wis AD 21 because GOTV was so massive.  Yeah, it was uphill because it's GOP-land, but turnout ended up being awful.

    Keeping the seat in Republican hands doesn't change much, though.  The Assembly is so chock-full of Republicans that Dems don't even need to show up to achieve quorum.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 12:10:35 PM PST

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