Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romney gets his groove back

Just the mental image of R-money getting his groove on is enough to make a person shudder, isn't it?

"We didn't win by a lot, but we won by enough, and that's all that counts," Romney told a crowd gathered at his victory party in Novi, Mich.

In Michigan, Romney held a 3 percent lead -- 41 percent to 38 percent over Rick Santorum -- with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Ron Paul received 12 percent of the vote and Newt Gingrich received 7 percent. In Arizona, with 90 percent of precincts reporting, Romney led with 47 percent, Santorum was in second with 27 percent, Gingrich third with 16 percent and Paul fourth with 8 percent.

Someone else also declared victory.

In an optimistic speech during which several news networks declared Romney the winner of Michigan, Santorum said, "A month ago they didn't know who we are, but they do now."

Oh, we've all known what you are for quite a long time now.

Though Arizona and Michigan have almost the same number of delegates, AZ was winner-take-all while MI awards proportionately. Thus R-money was going to have a good night even if he had lost the Wolverines. But the media spin has been all about him not surging, so last night's results are gold-star worthy.

Santorum, for his part, seems to recognize now where he went off the rails.

"We came to the backyard of one of my opponents, in a race where people said, 'You know, just ignore it, you're going to have no chance here.' And the people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates, and all I have to say is, 'I love you back.'"

The crowd was enthusiastic, with one man shouting, "I love you," but there was a sad tone in the air that began even before they took the stage, as the theme song to the "The Natural" played.

Santorum mentioned his 93-year-old mother, something he hasn't in previous speeches, and he told the audience in what seemed to be a pitch to female voters who might feel put off by some of his previous comments about women in the workplace, that his mother made more money than his father.

So... his parents both went to "indoctrination mills". And then they went to work for the gubmint. Damned liberals. It gets worse, though; so did his wife, that horrible woman who had a partial birth abortion.

The former Pennsylvania senator also touted his wife's work experience, saying she was a "professional" as well, and thanked his daughter, Elizabeth, who has been on the campaign trail with him since the early days in Iowa.

"[Karen] worked as a nurse, but after we got married, she decided to walk away, yet didn't quit working. She was a mother, and also wrote two books," Santorum said, in what also seemed to be an appeal to female voters.

He spent most of his speech repeating the themes he does on the stump, including his mention of the Declaration of Independence, but this evening there was a twist on that, too.

"The men and women who signed that declaration wrote the final phrase, 'We pledge to each other our lives, our fortune, and our sacred honor," Santorum said.

There were no women who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Note to Santorum: work in some praise of Martha Washington and Abigail Adams. Try to avoid talking about Sally Hemings or Benjamin Franklin's various indiscretions.

By the way, Ron Paul isn't giving up either. Newt Gingrich just has Georgia on his mind at this point. All this, as you can imagine, is a bit tiring for some people.

"Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief and Romney gets a little momentum heading into next week, but it doesn't change much," Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. "This is going to be a long, drawn-out marathon. It feels like a political death march."

That's not a sad trombone, that's a dirge.

Update: More "experts" -- in this case unemployed Republican political consultants -- rain on R-money's parade.

“A loss to Rick Santorum [in Michigan] would have been a shock to his heart, but he’s going into Super Tuesday with some blood on him,” said GOP strategist Dan Schnur, who is not aligned with any of the candidates.

“In order for Romney to get some kudos, he needs to win a state where there aren’t a lot of Mormons [Arizona] or Romneys [Michigan],” Schnur added.

That prize is Ohio, the key blue-collar battleground on the 10-state Super Tuesday slate — but it’s a state where Romney’s corporate raider background and elitist-sounding verbal stumbles will undoubtedly be used against him by his rivals.

“Has he regained that aura of inevitability? That’s an open question,” said GOP strategist Keith Appell of the bipartisan firm CRC Public Relations.

“He spent $4 million on attack ads in Michigan against a guy who didn't have the money to fight back,” added Appell, who is also not working for any of the candidates.

“This was supposed to be over after Romney won New Hampshire, then Nevada and Florida. But it isn't over. Maybe Super Tuesday voters won't be impressed by Romney winning his home state.”

That reads like hideously sour grapes considering the sources. Look at the total delegate counts after last night, and the number of delegates at stake next Tuesday, and note that all the Not-Romneys put together add up several delegates shy of Romney's current total. Even with many states selecting proportionately through the end of March (as well as several non-binding caucuses), at this point the Not-Romneys are contending for ego status, prime time speaking slots at the convention, and 2016.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Said in my best Steve Martin "The Jerk" imitation.

After a months-long set of legal battles spanning three courtrooms in two cities, Texas may finally have a set of interim redistricting maps that could keep the primary election on May 29.

The new maps, released by the San Antonio federal court today, appear to be nearly identical to the compromise maps negotiated between Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Latino Redistricting Task Force, which were rejected by other minority and Democratic groups.

Like that compromise, the court's congressional map would create two new minority congressional seats and preserves the Republican-dominated Legislature's decision to split Austin into five districts, likely forcing U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to run in a new, heavily Hispanic district that stretches from San Antonio to Austin.

Harvey K has links to the maps viewer and this "first blush":

(T)he blobs on the map would seem to show that the AG's compromise maps held up pretty well. On the Congressional plans, the fracturing of Travis County from the state's enacted map has been restored. That means for the interim map at least Lloyd Doggett is being forced to run against a San Antonio Democrat in the new CD 35. Also, the CD 33 in the DFW Metroplex that was drawn into the Abbott compromise map to favor a minority candidate remains in place.

On the House map, Ken Legler's HD 144 (Pasadena area) remains unchanged from Abbott's compromise map but the court made some changes to HD 137 (inc. Scott Hocheberg, retiring) and HD 149 (inc. Hubert Vo) in Harris County. Judges had warned in the status conference that Abbott's treatment of HD 137 had minority retrogression issues. Finally, it looks like the court made some adjustment to John Garza's HD 117 in Bexar County, another flashpoint from the status conference.

I'm back in Culberson's 7th Congressional, but still in Borris Miles' HD 146 and Rodney Ellis' Senate District 13. The Startlegram's Aman Batheja, on Twitter:

Joe Barton won't represent Cowboys Stadium under court-drawn cong. map. Ends up in new Dem-leaning Dist. 33.

Batheja also notes that Tarrant County remains as the Legislature drew it, with a minority district in which two Democratic statehouse incumbents are forced to contend.

With the exception of the hosing of Smokey Joe, these maps are the suck -- unless you're Greg Abbott. They were pushed out early by the judges in order to save a May election day, but as Nolan Hicks at the SAEN observes...

The May 29 primary could still be in jeopardy if any of the groups that sued appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the new maps.

More updates as they roll in.

Update I: Burnt Orange laments Travis County's 5-way split.

The 10th remains largely unchanged, the 21st narrows to a skinny swath of Central Austin, and the 17th (the green area on the map) reaches down from Burleson County to stick a finger into north Austin and Pflugerville, just below the Williamson County border. The bad news is that CD-25 now runs from East Austin to Western Travis County, and then all the way up to Tarrant, while the 35th encompasses eastern Travis County and skips alongside I-35 down to San Antonio.

Sorry, y'all, we Austinites are apparently incapable of handling the rigors of selecting a Congressman whose constituents are primarily in Austin. We need the rest of the surrounding region to do it for us. But good news, Austinites and Pflugervillans, because some of you are about to be represented by Republican Bill Flores! He will care a lot about your concerns. Not really. #sadtrombone

Update II: Matt Angle, Lone Star Project.

Most of the plaintiff groups who challenged the Republican congressional plan hoped for a better interim map. These hopes were undermined, however, when Congressman Henry Cuellar and one of the Latino plaintiff groups – the Latino Task Force – agreed to a compromise proposal that gave up at least three, and perhaps all four, of the additional Texas seats to the Republicans.

Next month, the Federal District Court in Washington, DC is expected to release its decision detailing all of the violations in the State’s originally enacted redistricting plan. Ultimately, the DC Court’s decision will guide the redrawing of new maps when the Legislature meets again in 2013.

Update III: Michael Li.

Buzz that the proposed reopened filing period will be Friday, March 2, through Tuesday, March 6 (which would be somewhat fitting since then the filing period would end on Super Tuesday - the date of the original Texas primary).

For now, everything appears to be on track for a May 29 primary and July 31 (or early August) runoff.

Last update: This DK diary has "full analysis", some of which is even accurate. BOR asks and then answers: "Who likes the way redistricting went? Almost no one, apparently."

Michigan today

A day of reckoning for the so-called front-runner.

On the eve of the unlikeliest showdown of a dumbfounding campaign year, the bitter Republican primary battle in Michigan has turned into an all-out class war.

Rick Santorum, flaunting the fieriest populism in years by a Republican presidential contender, is waging a determined challenge against Mitt Romney, heir to a Michigan political dynasty. Romney had once been expected to cruise to victory in the state his father governed, and that he won four years ago.

But Santorum was aiming for an upset that, as he says, would “shock” the Republican world. In the first industrial-state primary of 2012, he has cast himself as a fighter for working men and women against the “elites in society who think that they can manage your life better than you can.”

Ah, fiery is a good word to describe how things might end for Rmoney.

The class competition played out visibly Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, which was to have opened NASCAR’s season until rain forced a postponement.

Romney flew to Florida from Michigan and put on a public display of affinity, strolling the NASCAR pits in a bright red Daytona 500 jacket and blue jeans. At one point, he walked past a car emblazoned with Santorum’s campaign logo. (Out of public view, Romney also had a private breakfast with the billionaire founders of the auto racing operation and was introduced at a meeting of racing teams, corporate sponsors and celebrities.)

Yeah, the NASCAR thing turned out well.

And with Operation Hilarity adopted by the Frothy Mixture campaign and put into full effect, tonight's results will make for lively discussion among the talking heads.

As the GOP primary race comes down to the wire in Michigan, Rick Santorum’s campaign has a last trick up its sleeve.

The campaign has launched telephone robocalls throughout the state slamming rival Mitt Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout in late 2008 and early 2009, and urging Democrats to show up for Tuesday’s Republican primary and cast ballots for Santorum.

“Michigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Why is it so important?” the voice on the call says. “Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street, billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we’re not going to let Romney get away with it.”

The call urges listeners to “send a loud message” to Romney by voting for Santorum, even though Santorum, too, opposed the auto industry bailout. It ends with the line: “This call is supported by hard-working Democratic men and women and paid for by Rick Santorum for president.”

Tune in to your favorite news channel this evening for all the fiery details.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance dressed in its finest evening attire, strolled down the red carpet as flashes blinked, and carried home the golden statue with this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff conducted interviews with Democratic Senate hopefuls Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is appalled at the disinformation and outright lies that the oil and gas industry pays advertisers and politicians to say in order to mislead voters. While some voters depend on mainstream media to be objective when reporting about drilling and injection consequences, others rely on their religious leaders to put a theological spin on their vote. So the result is The Earth is Flat and Fracking is Safe. BossKitty is also really alarmed at the infiltration of the US military by religious extremists: US Military Infiltrated By Christian Crusaders Desecrate Toward Apocalypse.

BlueBloggin is disgusted that Newt Gingrich has gotten away with condemning the president for not making excuses for the childish vandalism of Holy Books. Gingrich and other GOP candidates are pandering to the most extreme Dominionist element of people who call themselves Christian. Read more in GOP Presidential Candidate nut case, encourages Holy War.

As we wait for the Texas primary to be set, WCNews at Eye On Williamson reminds us that there's still time for candidates to enter races.

The long delay in determining the new redistricted parameters affects not only Democrats and Republicans but also the other political parties, who can't begin to collect petition signatures until after the primary elections. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has that and more third-party news in this update.

Bay Area Houston updates the saga of Michael Berry, the right wing talk show hypocrite caught in a gay bar.

Neil at Texas Liberal took a look at some homemade fliers for shows from back in his punk rock days, and was reminded yet again that taking action is up to each of us.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw warns us that if you are upset about rising gasoline prices, "whatever you do, don't ask a Republican politician to tell you the truth about why prices are increasing. For the party of right wing mullahs has socio-pathological issues with women's rights. The pre-historic neanderthal cave dwellers will just lie to you and blame the rising prices on Obama." Read the rest: GOP Scamming People on High Gas Prices.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme joins the chorus pf people pointing out that Texas Republicans really, really hate women.