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On the roster: As goes Maine, so goes the nation? - Dem dogfight in Nevada gubernatorial primary - Can Virginia Democrats match the spirit of ‘17? - House leaders scurry to block immigration vote - Follow up file: Well, irritable anyway
AS GOES MAINE, SO GOES THE NATION?
Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he might refuse to certify the results of today’s Pine Tree State primary because Maine has moved to what political scientists call “ranked choice voting.”
It’s understandable that LePage would be down on the concept since he almost certainly would have never been governor had the rule been in place when he first ran in 2010.
Ranked choice voting asks citizens not just to pick their preference but also their second or third or fourth favorite option. If no candidate has a majority of first-choice votes in the initial count, the candidate with the fewest first-choice ballots is taken out of the running and his or her voters’ ballots are distributed among their second choice candidates.
This process will go on until there is an outright winner.
LePage, who won his first term with a plurality of just 38 percent, would likely have been eliminated in the second round since the independent candidate and the Democrat were jousting over the same votes.
We don’t know if LePage, who has a history of making wild pronouncements and other intemperate comments, will actually follow through on his threat, and Maine secretary of state says that it probably doesn’t matter even if LePage does refuse. But it is worth exploring the questions raised: Is ranked choice voting constitutional? And does it offer a possible path out of our broken political system?
We will leave it to constitutional scholars to sort out the fine details of whether such a policy passes muster. But we do know that states are given broad latitude to run elections as they see fit. Provided justices are satisfied that individual voters are not being disenfranchised, it’s easy to imagine that this new system could endure.
But would that be a good thing?
Maine’s experiment is the other side of the coin to California’s jungle primary system. One of the goals in both is to make independent candidates more viable. And as long time readers will know, we have our doubts about whether state government working against the two party system is a good idea.
What makes Maine different, though, is that it forces voters to consider alternatives. This creates enormous incentives for independent candidates to run as issue-averse pragmatists. Maine already has a strong independent streak. Its junior senator, Angus King, won his seat as an independent, even though he caucuses with and is a reliable vote for Senate Democrats.
Ranked choice voting would theoretically produce more Angus Kings since the goal of every independent candidate would automatically be to remain palatable to the number of voters in both parties.
It is reasonable to assume that placing a premium on bipartisan centrism will produce more of it, and that may be a good thing in a country where the two parties have substantially stopped reaching out to the middle instead preferring to maximize intensity among base voters. We wonder, though, whether it is better to offer an incentive for splitting the difference between the two parties or rather to work to make the two parties strong again.
As we’ve often discussed, one of the reasons why partisanship is so bad these days is that the parties themselves are weak. Rather than offering structure or rewarding seniority in service, national parties are too weak to impose any kind of rigor. That lays open the path to demagoguery and populism on both sides.
Maine is offering a potential solution with the problem of multiple parties, ranked choice voting would at least eliminate the problem California will sooner or later face of having fringy election winners with narrow pluralities.
We are content for now to remain agnostic about Maine’s experiment, and admit that we would be a little disappointed if voters there approve a referendum to undo the new system.
We’d like to know whether or not it works.
[Watch Fox: “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” will have all the latest from races across the country starting at 11 pm ET.]
DEM DOGFIGHT IN NEVADA GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
NYT: The Democratic race for governor has been bitterly fought, and a recent poll showed the top two candidates —Christina Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak, both Clark County commissioners — separated by only three points. Their contest has been vicious at times: Mr. Sisolak claimed in a recent ad that Ms. Giunchigliani had “single-handedly protected perverts” by weakening a sex offender bill years ago, to which Ms. Giunchigliani responded by revealing that she was sexually abused as a child. Each hopes to be Nevada’s first Democratic governor since 1999. Attorney General Adam Laxalt is widely expected to win the Republican nomination for governor. A son and grandson of former senators, Mr. Laxalt is a supporter of President Trump and has the backing of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.”
GOP has rare chance to play offense in two Nevada House districts - AP: “Rep. Jacky Rosen's departure from the 3rd District race to challenge Sen. Dean Heller in the Senate, and Rep. Ruben Kihuen's decision to forgo re-election in the 4th District amid allegations of sexual misconduct puts both seats in play in the swing state. Former Reps. Cresent Hardy, a Republican, and Steven Horsford, a Democrat, were favored to win their primaries Tuesday in the 4th District. Horsford, an ex-state lawmaker from Las Vegas, became the first African-American to represent Nevada in Congress when he won the 4th District seat in 2012. Hardy, another former legislator from Mesquite, defeated him in 2014 then lost in 2016 to Kihuen. The swing district stretches from north of Las Vegas through four rural counties. Las Vegas Democrat Susie Lee and Republican Danny Tarkanian were expected to cruise to victory in the 3rd District after the son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian abandoned his primary bid to unseat Heller…”
CAN VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS MATCH THE SPIRIT OF ‘17?
NYT: “Virginia Democrats insist that enthusiasm remains as high today as last year, when the party swept statewide offices and nearly flipped control of the House of Delegates. … Republicans make the case that in the three targeted House districts, their incumbents won in 2016 even though Mr. Trump lost Virginia, and that Democratic gains in 2017 came almost entirely in parts of the state that Hillary Clinton had won. ‘I have a hard time believing the Democratic spin, if their high-water mark was 2017,’ said Matt Gorman, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Besides Mr. [Dave Brat (R) VA-07], Democrats believe they can unseat Representatives Scott Taylor and Barbara Comstock. Mr. Taylor’s district — the Second, centered on Virginia Beach — was carried last year by Gov. Ralph Northam. … Ms. Comstock is viewed as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country. Her district, the 10th, covers a swath of wealthy Washington suburbs…”
Likely winner in Virginia GOP Senate primary trumpier than Trump - NY Mag: “One state where all sorts of ancient bedrock Republican traditions have been washed away by GOP Trump-o-mania has been the Commonwealth of Virginia, where county commissioner Corey Stewart, who was once too Trump-y for Trump’s own presidential campaign, is the odds-on favorite to win the U.S. Senate nomination to take on Crooked Hillary’s running mate, Tim Kaine. Stewart, who was fired as Trump’s Virginia campaign manager late in the 2016 campaign for involvement in an unauthorized pro-Trump protest at the RNC HQ in Washington, ran for governor last year on a defiant platform of defending the Commonwealth’s Confederate heritage, and very nearly upset the overwhelming favorite Ed Gillespie. He became the instant Senate front-runner practically the next day.”
CRAMER GETS CRANKY OVER TRUMP’S LOVE FOR HEITKAMP
WaPo: “President Trump is aggressively campaigning for Republican Senate candidates around the country and belittling their Democratic rivals, with one notable exception — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Trump’s affinity for Heitkamp, who got a shout-out and a handshake at a recent White House bill signing, has frustrated top Republicans who see winning her Democratic seat as crucial to holding onto their fragile 51-to-49 majority. No one has felt it more acutely than GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer, whom Trump personally recruited to run against Heitkamp. Upset, Cramer contacted White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to appeal for political help and traded warning shots with Trump’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short. Cramer says he believes Trump is giving Heitkamp preferential treatment because she is a woman. He accused the first-term senator of being insecure and going out of her way to stand near Trump at last month’s signing of the banking bill, which Cramer also attended.”
MAINERS TRY OUT NEW VOTING SYSTEM, BUT WILL IT SURVIVE?
FiveThirtyEight: “So not only are there races in Maine we’ll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don’t pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short. Most elections in the U.S. are what we call “first past the post” — that is, you vote for one person, and the candidate with the most votes wins, even if it’s not with a majority. Not so with ranked-choice voting, also called instant-runoff or preferential voting. In races with more than two candidates, Maine’s new ballots ask voters to rank candidates from their first to last choice. If no candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and his or her supporters are redistributed among the remaining candidates based on whom they ranked second. If still no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the next-fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and so on until someone wins 50 percent plus one vote.”
A REFERENDUM ON TRUMPINESS IN S.C.
AP: “Though on the other side of the globe, President Donald Trump figures to be a factor in Republican elections in South Carolina, one of five states holding primaries. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, an early Trump supporter in 2016 when he was lieutenant governor, has the president’s backing but faces challenges from four other candidates. McMaster endorsed the New York businessman in the state’s early presidential primary, which gave Trump a much-needed victory in the race for the nomination. … Trump reiterated his support for McMaster on Twitter over the weekend, saying he ‘is doing a fantastic job as your Governor, and has my full endorsement, a special guy. Vote on Tuesday!’ Although Trump remains very popular in South Carolina, McMaster has been shadowed by a corruption probe involving a longtime political consultant. McMaster assumed the governorship last year after Nikki Haley resigned to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. … Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, a frequent Trump critic, faces a challenge from GOP state Rep. Katie Arrington in the state’s southeastern coastal 1st District around Charleston.”
THE RULEBOOK: BE REAL, PEOPLE
“To argue upon abstract principles that this co-ordinate authority cannot exist, is to set up supposition and theory against fact and reality.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34
TIME OUT: VANISHING ACT
New Yorker: “Seen from the sky, Tangier Island [Va.] has the shape of a broken heart. The town, which is set on three ridges separated by marshland and brackish creeks, occupies roughly a square mile. A quick tour by golf cart or motorbike will take you past a school, a baseball field, a health center, a water tower, an airstrip, a post office, a grocery store, two churches, four restaurants (only one in winter), and eleven cemeteries. Residents famously speak with an accent heard nowhere else in the world...In 1998, the town council voted unanimously to keep ‘Message in a Bottle,’ a film starring Kevin Costner
and Paul Newman, from being shot on Tangier, out of concern that all those outsiders—‘come-heres,’ in local parlance—would have a corrupting influence. In the past year, the news of the land-loss crisis has brought waves of ‘come-heres’ to Tangier, including reporters and tourists hoping to see the island before it’s gone.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 41.4 percent
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent
Net Score: -11.4 points
Change from one week ago: up 1.8 points
[Average includes: Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 51% disapprove; IBD: 36% approve - 55% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40 percent
Democratic average: 48.4 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8.4 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 1.8
[Average includes: Fox News: 48% Dems - 39% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; IBD: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; CBS News: 50% Dems - 41% GOP.]
HOUSE LEADERS SCURRY TO BLOCK IMMIGRATION VOTE
Politico: “House Republican leaders, eager to stop an immigration showdown in their chamber, have begun cutting deals with lawmakers who might help moderate Republicans trigger bipartisan votes to protect Dreamers. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy phoned Rep. Dennis Ross on Monday and offered the Florida Republican what he wanted in hopes of keeping him from joining the moderates' discharge petition: the promise of a vote on a guest worker program before August recess. Ross, who's retiring at the end of the year, had been threatening for weeks to join Democrats along with two dozen Republicans to force a series of immigration votes addressing the Obama-era Deferred for Childhood Arrival program. The group needs only three more signatures to reach 218 threshold. Ross appeared to be satisfied after the call from McCarthy. And it‘s unclear now whether GOP moderates will be able to garner enough support for the so-called discharge petition by the close of business Tuesday, as they originally intended.”
Senate looks to bind Trump on shady China phone firm - WaPo: “The Senate plans to challenge President Trump’s pledge to lift certain restrictions against Chinese telecom giant ZTE by including a measure in the annual defense bill that would effectively block the deal from being implemented. The bipartisan amendment would reimpose penalties on ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions against exporting to Iran and North Korea that the Trump administration sought to lift in exchange for the company paying a $1 billion fine and funding an in-house compliance team of U.S. officials. It would also ban U.S. government agencies from purchasing any devices or services from ZTE or Huawei, another major Chinese telecom firm, or using government loans to subsidize any subsidiaries or affiliates of the two companies. ‘It’s only prudent that no one in the federal government use their equipment or services and that they receive no taxpayer dollars,’ said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the chief authors of the amendment.”
Larry Kudlow, National Economic Council director, hospitalized after suffering heart attack - Fox News
How Nikki Haley brought Trump's maximum pressure campaign down on North Korea at UN Security Council - Fox News
Pence heads to Dallas to attend Southern Baptist Convention meeting - WaPo
Trump goes to Minnesota for June 20 rally - [Minneapolis] Star Tribune
AUDIBLE: DO IT FOR THE INSTA
“Getting a good picture everybody, so we look nice and handsome and thin and perfect?” – President Trump asked pool photographers ahead of a working lunch with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, With all of the talk of the IG’s report and whether the investigators will be charged with crimes no one seems to be asking if Hillary will be charged and prosecuted for the crimes she committed? I’m asking. What’s the answer? If not, why not?” – Jay Pyne, Duluth, Ga.
[Ed. note: I assume here you are talking about her mishandling of classified materials as secretary of state as well as payola allegations related to her family foundation. And I suppose that if the Justice Department’s inspector general finds serious misconduct in the investigation, it’s possible. If it’s found that it came down to a judgement call on the part of James Comey, I think it highly unlikely. And if that were to happen, you can guarantee that President Trump and his family will most assuredly be prosecuted when he leaves office, and so on and so on and so on…]
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FOLLOW UP FILE: WELL, IRRITABLE ANYWAY
[For those of you who saw yesterday’s item about a Pennsylvania road range incident that took a scatological turn, the defendant would like to explain.]
NBC10: “A man accused of defecating during a road rage incident in Pennsylvania is speaking out, claiming the ordeal was a ‘misunderstanding’ triggered by his Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Henry George Weaver, a retired farmer from New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, told NBC10 he was driving to a doctor's appointment Friday morning in Heidelberg Township on Route 309 at its intersection with Route 100 when another driver suddenly pulled in front of him. ‘So close it scared the dickens out of me,’ Weaver said. Weaver told NBC10 he and the driver then both got out of their vehicles and began arguing. As he was arguing, Weaver said his IBS kicked in and he had to go right then and there. ‘There wasn't any choice in the matter,’ Weaver said. While Weaver claimed he had a medical reason for defecating, he said the other driver never gave him a chance to explain.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[The Nationals] might soon be, gasp, a contender. In the race deep into September. Good enough to give you hope. And break your heart. Where does one then go for respite?” – Charles Krauthammer discussing his beloved Nationals in his WaPo column entitled “The Joy of Losing,” April 23, 2010.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.