By Robert A. Vella
A funny thing happened to Republicans’ nationwide effort to reelect a right-wing state supreme court judge last week. The Wisconsin election results announced yesterday surprised everyone when Justice Daniel Kelly, who was supported by President Trump and who was expected to be the deciding vote to purge many thousands of voters off the rolls before the November general election, was soundly defeated by liberal challenger Jill Karofsky. Let that news sink-in for a moment, folks. The GOP, aided by conservative control over the Wisconsin and U.S. supreme courts, had forced this election to be held amidst the deadly coronavirus pandemic in which residents were under orders to stay in their homes. Furthermore, most of the in-person voting sites in the largest cities (which are Democratic strongholds) had been closed due to a shortage of poll workers, and about 200,000 requested absentee ballots were either never delivered to voters or delivered too late to be used. Additionally, primary elections and especially judicial elections are notoriously low-turnout contests in which Republican candidates typically enjoy a huge advantage. Yet, Kelly still lost. If Trump and his sycophantic political party couldn’t win in this highly favorable scenario, then their chances in November must be even worse. As I have detailed in recent posts, electoral analysis and the bulk of opinion polls both consistently show a strong lead for Democrats in the 2020 elections. In fact, these political dynamics have been present since shortly after Trump became president. Unless it changes dramatically and unexpectedly over the next few months, it will be the environment in which Trump must run.
And, the bad news for Trump doesn’t end there. Governors on the east and west coasts are coordinating their pandemic response efforts to both fill the void created by the negligent Trump administration and to circumvent his irresponsible and self-serving behavior as president. First, COVID-19 defied Trump. Now, America is too. Donald Trump, the megalomaniacal would-be dictator, is facing his worst emotional fear – being marginalized by those he wants to rule.
Here’s today’s news:
Democrats scored a significant victory in Wisconsin on Monday night when a liberal challenger upset a Trump-backed incumbent to win a State Supreme Court seat, a down-ballot race that illustrated strong turnout and vote-by-mail efforts in a presidential battleground state.
The victory, by upward of 120,000 votes as of Monday night, came as a shock to Republicans and Democrats alike in Wisconsin, where contests for president, governor and the state’s high court in the last four years have all been decided by about 30,000 votes or less. It followed weeks of Democratic anger over Republicans’ insistence on holding elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Wisconsin’s map on Monday night looked like a dream general election result for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee — stronger than typical for Democrats in the suburbs and a respectable showing among the state’s blue-collar white voters in rural counties. But officials from both parties cautioned against overinterpreting the Supreme Court results, given the bizarre circumstances surrounding the high court race.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s claim that he has total authority over governors to “reopen” states drew pushback Monday, including from some fellow conservatives.
Federal law allows the federal government to impose quarantines in some circumstances and limit travel between states, but the Trump administration has not invoked those powers. The Supreme Court has struck down attempts by the federal government to intervene within states and Trump would not offer specifics about the source of this power when pressed by members of the press.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY., third-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House, quoted the 10th Amendment in a tweet, seemingly responding to the president’s comments:
“The federal government does not have absolute power,” she wrote.
Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who was the sole witness called by Republicans before the Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, refuted Trump’s claim in a tweet: “The Constitution was written precisely [to] deny that particular claim. It also reserved to the states (& individuals) rights not expressly given to the federal government.”
Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator who worked for Vice President Dan Quayle but is a consistent critic of Trump, tweeted a portion of the oath president’s take when inaugurated. ” ‘I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ I don’t see “the authority is total” in this oath, or in the Constitution.” he wrote.
Rep. Justin Amash, I-MI, who left the Republican party last year and supported Trump’s impeachment, tweeted that “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option,” while quoting Trump’s tweet about authority.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, also responded to Trump’s remarks in an interview with CNN on Monday night, saying, “The President doesn’t have total authority. We have a Constitution. We don’t have a king.”
States on the country’s East and West coasts are forming their own regional pacts to work together on how to reopen from the stay-at-home orders each has issued to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The first such group to be announced came Monday on the East Coast. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts each plan to name a public health and economic official to a regional working group. The chief of staff of the governor of each state also will be a part of the group, which will begin work immediately to design a reopening plan.
Later on Monday, the West Coast states of California, Washington and Oregon also announced they are joining forces in a plan to begin incremental release of stay-at-home orders. Governors of the three states will collaborate on their approach to getting back to business in “in a safe, strategic, responsible way,” as announced by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Asked whether the collaboration among the states was a rebuke to the President Trump, who has said the decision about businesses reopening was his to make, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said only that he was focused on making decisions based on facts and science, and he reiterated that an economic recovery was inextricable from a public health recovery.
Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania echoed Mr. Murphy’s comments in responding to a similar question.
“The sequence,” Mr. Wolf said, “is you’ve got to get people healthy first, and then you can reopen the economy.”
Mr. Cuomo — interviewed on CNN before and after Mr. Trump said again at a White House briefing that the decision on restarting the economy was his — was more pointed in discussing who was responsible for pausing the rhythms of normal life and who would restore them.
The governor flatly rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that as president, his authority was “total.” Mr. Cuomo called the assertion “aggressive” and “hostile.” He also said that if Mr. Trump wished to be the one to restart the economy, he had to outline, in detail, how he planned to do it.
And even as the industry rushes to get distribution problems smoothed out, other red flags are emerging. JBS SA, the world’s top meat company, shuttered its beef facility in Greeley, Colo., this week because of a coronavirus outbreak. In South Dakota, more than 300 workers at a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant tested positive for the virus, shutting the plant down.
The closure of the latter plant, which accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s pork production, is “pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” said Kenneth Sullivan, president and chief executive of Smithfield.
Experts agree there is no aggregate shortage of food or other retail items offered at the supermarket. But many factors are causing product deficits in particular regions and in particular stores.
The biggest is that while about half of American expenditures for food used to be at restaurants and other such establishments, now almost all meals are being made in the home kitchen, so a distribution system that was built to supply restaurants with bulk items is struggling to adapt to far smaller packaging for home use.
In addition, while supermarkets and food companies have based their business model in the past on offering a wide variety (grocery stores often have 40,000 items), now most consumers focus on a smaller sliver of products, so supply chains are overwhelmed.
As the coronavirus upends economic life around the world, small towns like Bristol are particularly vulnerable. Freudenberg is its lone large employer. There are just a few national chains — a Dunkin’, a Rite Aid and a Dollar General. And many of the small locally owned businesses depend on seasonal residents, who flock to Newfound Lake during the summer, doubling the town’s population for a few months.
The community has tried to come together in recent weeks, with residents extending help to one another and trying to support local establishments. But with unemployment ballooning and the threat of worse financial pain to come, neighborly good will is worth only so much over the long term.