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2010 February

Election Watch 2010: Kentucky Senate Race

On February 25, 2010, in 2010 Elections, by administrator

Hello fellow snowed-in Dems,

Welcome back to the 2010 Election Watch with your brilliant, exquisite, and utterly incomparable board members Matt and Bridgit! Today, we look at the complex Senate race currently underway in the great state of Kentucky, home of amazing basketball, Mitch McConnell, and fried chicken. Now you might be asking, why are you two blogging about Kentucky? That’s a Republican state, it went for John McCain, Mitch McConnell is from there, and its a terrible time for Democrats! It’s not going to be close, right? Wrong! Kentucky is actually a Democratic leaning state, with 57% of registered voters aligning with the Democrats, compared to only 36.5% who align with the Republicans. In addition, both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are Democrats, as is the Speaker of the House. To even further this point, Kentucky voted for Democratic Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton (twice). In fact, Kentucky voted for the winner of every Presidential race from 1964 through 2004, only losing that streak in the 2008 election when it went for McCain.

Kentucky has become one of those states, such as West Virginia, that is full of conservative Democrats and likes to elect Dems to state offices, but then vote for Republicans in national elections. Luckily for us, the Democrats have a very strong field in the election, and are looking to turn this seat blue. The seat is being vacated by two-term Republican Senator Jim Bunning, a baseball Hall of Famer and a man prone to horrific political gaffes, who was essentially forced into retirement by the Republican party, which saw him as a weak candidate (he barely survived reelection in 2004, winning 51% of the vote compared to Democrat Daniel Mongiardo’s 49%). Currently, the Democratic primary has two real candidates, one of them being Lt. Governor Mongiardo. The other is current Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Conway is young and emphatically defeated his Republican counterpart in the race for Attorney General, leading many Democrats to believe that he too would be a very strong candidate.

The Republicans, unfortunately, also field a strong primary, with many candidates who will surely do better than the incumbent would have done. Two strong candidates have come forward, the first being current Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who actually used to be a Democrat and actively campaigned for Bill Clinton in the state, which has worried some conservatives. The other major candidate is Rand Paul, son of infamous Libertarian congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Paul has never been in government, but did found the Kentucky Taxpayers United, a “nonpartisan” but ideologically conservative organization that ranks Kentucky’s representatives on how the raise or lower taxes. Both candidates have pledged to keep conservative values in the Senate, which is hugely important to the voters of the state.

Kentucky’s primary election is on May 18, and thus far no candidate has been able to gain a substantial lead over his rival. A late December poll has Conway up by 4 points over Mongiardo in the Democratic race, and on the Republican side a recent poll has Paul up by 19 points, but only 3 months before that Grayson was up by 15, so we’ll just to have to wait and see how that race turns out. In putting the four candidates against each other, the Republicans are winning every time, with the biggest spread being Grayson versus Mongiardo (Grayson is up 9 on average) and the smallest being Paul versus Conway (Paul is up 3 on average). In any case, this race is much closer than many Democrats expected, and we believe that the Dems have a fighting chance to win this seat, which would be huge considering the losses we may be taking in other places (North Dakota, so sad). This is a race where TV time, money, and volunteers are going to be hugely important, so expect the Obama machine to come out in full force to try to take this seat. Hopefully we can do it! We believe!

Next Week: Colorado (Will this new liberal-leaning state stay with the Dems?)

I don’t always get political, but when I do, I prefer the Democrats. Stay liberal my friends.


Last Thursday, February 11th, Activist Council hosted its first event to kick off the full-fledged campaign for marriage equality in New York state. From 9 A.M. to 3 P.M., students and activists gathered on Low Plaza to sign Valentine’s Day cards to Queens Senator Joe Addabbo shaming him for his vote against marriage equality and proclaiming their support of equal marriage rights for all couples regardless of sexual orientation. (Click images to see in full-view.)

Low Plaza

Students signing Valentine’s Day cards to Senator Addabbo.

Valentine’s Day cards pledging support for marriage equality.

From noon to 1 P.M., New York state Assemblyman O’Donnell, leader of CQA Sean Udell, President of CUCD Kate O’Gorman, and CUCD member Jonathan Backer gave impassioned speachers adovcating for marriage equality.

Assemblyman O’Donnell

CQA leader Sean Udell

CU College Democrats President Kate O’Gorman

CUCD member/Progressive Caucus leader Jonathan Backer with Joe

Activist Council Lead Helen Kilian MCing the event.

CUCD President Kate O’Gorman, Outreach Coordinator Ganiatu Afolabi, and Lead Activist Helen Kilian sporting the campaign logo t-shirts.

Throughout the day, students wrote personal letters to Joe Addabbo expressing their disappointment in his vote and voicing their belief in equal marriage rights for all couples.

“I pledge to support marriage equality in New York by:
1) Raising awareness of the issue among my friends and family
2) Attending events on campus, sit-ins, and other rallies
3) Volunteering in support of pro-equality candidates”

With love,


Still Hurdles for Student Lending

On February 19, 2010, in Activism, by administrator

By James Downie

Five months ago, in passing the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the House finally passed a key piece of legislation in the fight for better access to higher education, cutting a huge subsidy to the student loan industry, and redirecting the spending into Pell Grants and lower loan interest rates. The proposal put all funds under the Federal Direct Lending Program, removed the private middle man and shielding students from the numerous corruption scandals that have plagued private lenders. So far, so good, right?

The Senate, however, appears determined to uphold its reputation as the killer of good legislation: in the “upper chamber,” progress towards that magical sixty votes remains stalled. Facing sweeping changes, powerful, corrupt lenders like Sallie Mae have been lobbying their favorite targets on Capitol Hill for a “compromise” version of the legislation. Sallie Mae’s proposal would put the loans in a “participation trust,” and lenders would sell these loans back to the Department of Education after 120 days. While technically reducing the role of private sector (in that lenders must sell back to the DOE), the “compromise” would effectively extend the current lending program indefinitely, pay lenders the same amount as they currently are paid per loan, and give Sallie Mae and its large lending partners a near-monopoly on student loans. In short, a great deal for large lenders, and a lousy one for students.

Departing “Democratic” Indiana senator Evan Bayh is the latest senator to pipe up with support for Sallie Mae. In a letter yesterday to Education Committee chair Tom Harkin, Bayh cited “concerns about the short-term impact reform efforts could have on employment in Indiana,” parroting the Sallie Mae line that “hundreds” of jobs would be lost in Indiana if the House legislation passed. These concerns, even if true, are simply excuses for moderate Democrats to appease their corporate friends. Simply put, hundreds of jobs simply do not compare to the thousands upon thousands of students (including, Mr. Bayh, thousands of Indianans) who each year have their educational futures affected by the student loan industry’s corrupt policies. The White House has made its position clear: President Obama has called the House legislation “a no-brainer,” while yesterday Education Secretary Arne Duncan held a conference call with reporters to bolster support for the bill.  Rhetoric, though, is not enough; the stakes for higher education are too great. If sixty votes cannot be had, the Democrats should stand up for students, and for the young people that put them in power, and pass the House bill through reconciliation.


Push The Hypocrisy

On February 19, 2010, in Uncategorized, by administrator

By James Downie

Late last month, Obama’s well-crafted State of the Union, and his successful appearance at the House GOP’s conference in Baltimore went a long way to reversing the momentum Republicans gained from Scott Brown’s special election success and health care’s near failure. Of all of Obama’s counterattacks, few were better received than when Obama pounced on Republican hypocrisy on the stimulus: after admonishing the GOP in the State of the Union that “the responsibility to govern is now yours as well,” he reminded them in Baltimore that  “a lot of you have gone to appear at ribbon cuttings for the same projects that you voted against.”

Three weeks later, it’s more clear than ever that this line of attack, even more than the White House’s (welcome) return to populism, is the secret to combating the Republican Party this fall. For awhile now, liberal outlets, especially ThinkProgress and Rachel Maddow, have been covering the GOP’s game of bashing the stimulus while in Washington and then trumpeting its benefits in their home districts; ThinkProgress’s latest report counts over 110 different representatives and senators who’ve pulled this stunt, including “leaders” like Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell. That’s more than half of the GOP representation in Washington; it is now literally easier to make a list of Republicans in Washington who aren’t hypocrites. Even conservative outlets are starting to take notice: recently, both the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal have written articles highlighting GOP hypocrisy. In addition, if this weekend’s Sunday talk shows were any guide, it will be difficult for Republicans to criticize the stimulus in public without being pushed on their private requests for funding.

Building on this argument is key to Democratic victory in the fall not just because it demonstrates the Republican Party’s disinterest in sticking to their own principles, but because it clearly demonstrates the positive job-building effects of the stimulus. Despite the stimulus having created over 1.5 million jobs, only six percent of Americans currently believe the stimulus created any jobs at all. Reversing this perception requires redoubling efforts to put evidence of the recovery in front of the voters, and, for that issue, there’s no better weapon to use against the GOP than their own words.


Election Watch 2010: Nevada Senate Race

On February 18, 2010, in 2010 Elections, by administrator

Hey Columbia Dems,

Before your utterly brilliant board members Bridgit and Matt start discussing the Nevada Senate race today, we would like to air one grievance we have noticed lately. Does anyone else think that it is utterly ridiculous that pundits are saying that it is possible for Republicans to regain the Senate? After looking briefly at RealClearPolitics, it appears that in order for the Republicans to do the unthinkable, they would have to win every single toss up race, every lean Democrat race, and then take California away from Barbara Boxer. Would that ever happen? Of course not! The media is overreacting to a big load of nothing, and it is very frustrating for your bloggers to listen to.

Moving on to our topic of the day, Harry Reid’s fight to keep his seat representing Nevada. Reid is currently the Senate Majority leader, stepping into that role in January 2007, when the Democrats swept back into the majority following a huge victory in the 2006 elections. Previous to that, he had been the Minority Leader since 2005, taking Tom Daschle position when he lost. Reid is currently running for a fifth term, having represented Nevada since 1987. Reid has only had one close election, that being in 1998 when he faced a stiff challenge from John Ensign, now the junior Senator from Nevada. Reid also has a history of gaining Republicans’ support in the state, having garnered several key endorsements from the opposition party during his reelection bid in 2004.

This election, however, appears to be moving in a different direction. Anger over the current direction of Congress, shaped by President Obama’s ideas, have generated anger in Nevada and led to a very anti-liberal feeling in the state. Reid, being the head of the Democrats in the Senate, is therefore seen as representative of all of it, and is an easy target for attacks. The Republican primary is chock full of characters, with 12 people having filed for the June 8th primary. However, two candidates, Danny Tarkanian and Sue Lowden, appear to be the only legitimate candidates, with just a couple percentage points  separating the two. Tarkanian is a real estate owner and former UNLV basketball player, who has run for public office twice in the state of Nevada (both races ended in defeat for him). Lowden is the current Nevada state Republican Chairwoman and a former state senator, representing Democratic-leaning Clark County.

There has not been a recent poll showing voters’ opinions regarding the Republican primary. As such, we can only wait until the primary, which figures to be hotly contested, to see who Senator Reid needs to fight. Current polls have Reid losing to Tarkanian by an average of 8.7%, and losing to Lowden by 8.8%. However, the most recent poll regarding both possible opponents has Reid closing the gap on both. In addition, Reid has an incredible amount of money, with $8.7 million in his war chest, destroying the next closest GOP candidate John Chachas (who isn’t even a legitmate candidate)  by $7 million. In addition, the DSSC has obliterated the NRSC in campaign fundraising over the last few election cycles, though the Republicans matched the Democrats in monetary donations for the first time in over two years last month. With their leader on the line, we expect the DSSC to have a fundraising blitz in Nevada, no doubt aided by President Obama, who as we all know, had the most successful grassroots fundraising campaign of all time. In any case, it is likely that Reid will be able to outspend his opponent, whoever that might be in November.

Many political websites, as of today, have the Nevada Senate election billed as either a toss up or a leaning Republican race. However, these polls are very preliminary, and without the potential effects of heavy Democratic spending in the state, we would hesitate to write off Majority Leader Reid. It is these two bloggers sincere hope and belief that Senator Reid will be reelected, and continue to guide the Senate.

Next Week: Kentucky (Can we win in a traditionally Republican state?)

I don’t always get political, but when I do, I prefer the Democrats. Stay liberal my friends.