Help Take Back Scott Brown’s State Senate Seat- 10 days to go!

This is Dr. Peter Smulowitz, the Democratic nominee for Scott Brown’s former MA State Senate seat in the Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex District.

In ten days, if we win, the “Scott Brown” Republican momentum that’s been sweeping the country since January comes to a screeching halt, right where it began, in Massachusetts.

Peter Smulowitz is an outstanding candidate- smart, charismatic, and possessing an incredible work ethic, so much so that he defeated a 21-year statehouse veteran and former Majority Leader in the Democratic primary.

He did this by knocking on doors of voters, day after day after day, until he reached enough of them personally to ensure victory.

Now Peter is facing off against Scott Brown’s protege in Mass politics, State Representative Richard Ross of Wrentham. Ross is a moderate Republican who has followed in Brown’s footsteps with every office he’s held for the past 15 years. Ross is by far Peter’s toughest opponent yet.

Peter Smulowitz can win this race and change the national political narrative. All the signs point to it. But this is going to be an exceptionally close race on election day, May 11th.

If you’re in the New England area, PLEASE PLEASE come help out on election day! We cannot win this race unless we turn out our vote!

If you’re not in the area, please consider making a contribution to Peter’s campaign. You can do so through ActBlue here:…

Working together we can take back this seat and hit the emergency break on the Republican party’s “Scott Brown” momentum for 2010. Please consider joining us!

Gerrymandering Movie: A Review

If you post or lurk here, you must be the political junkiest of the junkiest. That’s why you’ve probably been looking forward to Gerrymandering, a documentary about redistricting directed by filmmaker Jeff Reichert.

I don’t pretend to be a movie aficionado. Not at all. Hopefully this review will be somewhat coherent 🙂

I’ve seen a lot of users here posting that they were looking forward to seeing the film. I, as an avid user of the time-draining DRA, couldn’t wait to see it. Fortunately, I got a chance to witness the film at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend. My thoughts about the documentary are below the jump.

I came into the movie with high expectations because I’ve done too much research on the issue of gerrymandering and redistricting over the past few months. I also was expecting many issues to be touched upon that one would expect, like partisan motivations for gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act.

I discuss specifically the movie in the block quote, so please skip if you want to go into the movie without knowing anything about Reichert’s style.

At the beginning of his documentary, Reichert employed animation of lines carving up states while explaining the definition of gerrymandering succinctly, a definition that anyone could easily understand. I would be content if all people took away from this movie was the definition he gave–everyone should know what gerrymandering is!!

Obviously, he went beyond it. The movie contained many interviews from activists, lawmakers, and pundits that gave their own anecdote about the issue. Personally, I felt that one of the most effective parts was the (brief) interview he got with Fmr. Rep. Martin Frost; Frost detailed exactly how he was affected by the DeLaymander, and the graphics that showed it firsthand were extremely effective.

Reichert covered pretty much everything that is pertinent to the redistricting process today: partisan motivations; racial motivations and the VRA; independent commissions; prison counting; Texas’ mid-decade redistricting; incumbent homes, etc.

I feel that people who constantly review and create maps here at SSP and know a lot about the process will know almost all of the information provided in the film. However, I thought it was cool to see personal stories behind the data we analyze here. There was one story from a non-establishment Brooklyn Democrat who had his house removed from a district so that he couldn’t re-challenge an entrenched incumbent in the ensuing election. The lawmaker, who called the process “gangsta,” now is an assemblyman.

The documentary spent a lot of time with background from the campaign on Prop 11, which you may know as the thing that will create independent commissions to deal with California redistricting. I felt as though the film didn’t do enough to explain how that would affect the state, and I also felt that it was kind of boring at times to keep hearing about the campaign behind it. Not that this was that much of a bother; in fact, it was still interesting, but the time could have been better spent explaining the background behind the VRA or other history.

I’m not going to talk more about the film, as I don’t want to give anything more away. The movie was extremely successful in teaching an important, yet under appreciated topic. It was easy to understand and follow, while it explored the ways that gerrymandering can hurt our democracy. Undoubtedly, the movie was extremely biased against legislators drawing districts, but the movie is still an extremely important teaching tool. Reichert is knowledgeable about the issues–he took questions from the audience after the movie and I was extremely impressed that he knew all of the factual answers. The only problems I had were that the VRA wasn’t explained enough, the Prop 11 campaign part was too long, and the prison-counting part was way too short.

All in all, though, the movie is extremely important for any citizen of this country. I highly recommend it for anybody in the SSP community. Also, it was nice to hear Ed Rollins call us–the people into reconfiguring districts–“nerds.” Rollins also said our work was important though.

Thanks and I hope that was coherent…

Primary Preview

  • IN-03 (R): Republican incumbent Mark Souder, a notorious under-performer in this deeply Republican district, may finally be running out of rope. A recent SUSA poll only gave Souder a 35-29 edge over auto dealer Bob Thomas, with attorney and former Dan Coats staffer Phil Troyer gobbling up nearly 20%. One way or the other, though, Souder’s time in Congress is rapidly coming to a close — he recently told Brian Howey that he’s strongly inclined to retire in 2012 if he survives this dogfight.
  • IN-04  (R): With incumbent Republican Steve Buyer making this term his last in this deeply Republican suburban donut district, the GOP primary is where it’s at. Secretary of State Todd Rokita may think he has control of the two turntables and the microphone in this race, but state Sen. Brandt Hershman has been raising a respectable sum of cash, and has Buyer’s endorsement. State Sen. Mike Young is also in the mix, but his fundraising is barely existent.
  • IN-05 (R): If there was ever a year to give GOP Rep. Dan Burton’s ass the boot, it’s this one. After winning a surprisingly close primary contest against former Marion County Coroner John McGoff, four viable Republicans have stepped up to challenge Burton this year — including McGoff again, himself. Joining McGoff are state Rep. Mike Murphy, ex-state Rep. Luke Messer, and former Dan Quayle/Dan Coats staffer Brose McVey. With a field chopped up in so many ways, Burton just may survive.
  • IN-08 (R): Republicans were caught off guard in this district after Democrats managed to beam up incumbent Rep. Brad Ellsworth to the Senate race, and lack a well-known name to take advantage of this open seat. However, NRCC-types like surgeon Larry Buschon, who has managed to bank a decent amount of coin for his bid, but he’ll have to fight through a field crowded with seven other candidates, including teabagger fave Kristi Risk. The theory swirling around the tubes is that, since this district is ground zero for John Hostettler nut-wing Republicans, Hostettler’s Senate campaign may excite enough ‘baggers to threaten Buschon. I’d be surprised if that’s how this one plays out, though.
  • IN-09 (R): Douchebag ex-Rep. Mike Sodrel is making his fifth crack at this seat, but he’s facing somewhat stiff competition in the primary from attorney Todd Young. Also waiting in the wings is teabagger Travis Hankins, who has raised enough scrilla to keep himself in the game.
  • NC-Sen (D): North Carolina Democrats will head to the polls to pick between Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham, and attorney Ken Lewis for the right to take on frosh GOP Sen. Richard Burr in November. One of these candidates will need to break the 40% barrier in order to avoid a June runoff. While no one has polled close to that marker yet, local boy Tom Jensen is betting that one of Cunningham (the man with the money) or Marshall (the name you know) will cross that barrier.
  • NC-08 (R): Republicans have been licking their chops over the chance to dethrone Larry Kissell after just one term in the House, but their field of candidates is decidedly second-tier. Businessman Tim d’Annunzio has spent nearly $1 million, making him something of a favorite — but he’s also racked up a long list of unflattering incidents on the campaign trail that suggest that while his campaign may be well-funded, it’s completely unhinged. D’Annuzio will face ex-sportscaster Harold Johnson, retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston, and engineer Hal Jordan in the primary. It wouldn’t be a shock to see this one go to a runoff.
  • NC-11 (R): This one may not rank very highly on the GOP’s target list, but Republicans have a number of warm bodies in the race against sophomore Dem Rep. Heath Shuler, in case things get interesting. Businessman Jeff Miller and ophthalmologist Dan Eichenbaum have both spent over $100K on their campaigns as of mid-April, while Hendersonville Mayor Greg Newman is running on spare change and a pocketful of dreams.
  • Nevada County Baselines: Reid vs. “the Chicken Lady”

    This diary has the baselines for the Nevada Senate race this time. Reid is currently unpopular because the Senate is unpopular and Reid is the Senate Majority Leader. Also, the economy in Nevada is bad after the foreclosure crisis and the decrease in tourists so Nevadans will be blaming the incumbent. About 20 candidates are running against Reid in the Republican primary. Since the primary does not occur until June 8th, I do not know who the Republican nominee will be. Most polls suggest Sue Lowden (R), a former State Senator from  Clark County will be the nominee. Recently, she damaged her chances by talking about bartering healthcare for chickens. Still, a recent poll showed her with a lead of 17 points in the primary. Another recent poll showed her lead by 10 points drop to 4. She has not even faced Reid’s 25 million dollars in a state where 1 million is enough to run a credible campaign. This race should turn around faster as soon as every voter knows about Lowden’s chicken comment and anything else Reid can find. Lowden benefits however from the fact that Clark County will not see a high African American turnout or Hispanic turnout (which definitely will change if the immigration bill gets the Hispanic community active.)

    A bit about Reid’s past elections: in 2004, he won 61%-35% against Richard Ziser, a real estate investor from Las Vegas. Reid even won the majority of voters outside of Clark County (Las Vegas.) Being a Mormon may have helped in rural areas but now that the rural areas are prime teabagger territory, Reid may face very large Republicans margins there. In 1998, it was not as easy. John Ensign (R), the now disgraced Republican Junior Senator of Nevada ran against Harry Reid. Ensign lost by only 100 votes while losing Clark County by nine but barely winning Washoe County (Reno).

    About the baselines: the baselines show the candidates’ percentages for each county if the race were a tie. I found them by adding percentages from Reid’s 2004 Senatorial election and the 2008 presidential election by county. Then I divided the result by two, giving me the baselines. I am sorry that the baselines are not in a straight line. After some links, you will see them.

    Link for 2004 Senatorial election:…

    Link for 2008 Presidential election:…

    County Name Reid Republican Other

    Carson City  45% 54% 1%

    Churchill   29% 70% 1%

    Clark   54% 45% 1%

    Douglas  35% 64% 1%

    Elko   27% 72% 1%

    Esmerelda 23% 76% 1%

    Eureka 21% 78% 1%

    Humboldt 34% 65% 1%

    Lander 29% 70% 1%

    Lincoln 24% 75% 1%

    Lyon 35% 64% 1%

    Mineral 52% 47% 1%

    Nye 41% 58% 1%

    Pershing 37% 62% 1%

    Storey 42% 57% 1%

    Washoe 49% 50% 1%

    White Pine 38% 61% 1%

    For those of us who like visual aides like myself, here is a map:

    Nevada Baseline Map

    Dark Red: Republican 70%+

    Red: Republican 60%-69%

    Light Red: Republican 50%-59%

    Light Blue: Reid 50%-54%

    The baselines do not show too many surprises for me. It shows Reid winning Clark County in the high single digits which he needs to do to win. Also, the only other county he wins is Mineral County which McCain won by six points in 2008. Reid also loses Washoe County by one point which makes sense because Washoe County recently votes in line with the candidates’ statewide percentages. A difference with the baselines is that I expect Reid to win Washoe County by a few hundred votes if the race ties because Washoe County is trending Democratic quickly.

    Just in case you were wondering, I will do Florida’s Gubernatorial race next. Do you have any suggestions for statewide races after that?

    By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

    View Results

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    MN-Gov: Emmer Clinches GOP Nomination

    The GOP endorsing convention seemed to wrap things up pretty quickly: state Rep. Tom Emmer will be their gubernatorial nominee.

    To chants of “Marty! Marty!”, Rep. Marty Seifert bows out of the Republican gubernatorial race, and endorsed Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, for the party’s gubernatorial endorsement.

    “Put your Emmer stickers on!” Seifert told the roaring crowd.

    After Emmer had gotten to 56% on the second ballot (60% was needed to endorse), apparently that was enough for Seifert to pull the plug, in the face of Emmer’s last-minute momentum. Emmer, considerably more conservative than the moderate Republicans who are usually the only type who can win statewide, can expect a tough go of it in the general — especially if Independence Party candidate Tom Horner soaks up a big share of moderate votes. (Seifert would have faced the same problem, but Emmer, who just got a Sarah Palin endorsement, seems especially out-of-whack with his state’s preferences.)