An electoral blind spot for conservatives.Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By MICHAEL WARREN
It looks like Florida legislators are heading back to the drawing board—literally. On July 10, Tallahassee circuit court judge Terry Lewis ruled that the GOP-run legislature violated the state constitution by redrawing two congressional districts “with the intention of obtaining enacted maps . . . that would favor the Republican party.” The state won’t be appealing the decision, and, following the 2014 midterm elections, the legislature will have to approve a new map. But what at first glance looks like a good government victory against the scourge of gerrymandering is actually the result of a years-long coordinated liberal campaign to set the rules for elections.
First, it must be stated: Florida is one of the worst gerrymandering offenders in the country, and because Republicans have controlled the legislature since 1997, the bias has been toward the GOP. One of the districts invalidated by the court ruling, the serpentine Fifth, is a federally mandated “majority-minority” district that winds its way from the west side of Jacksonville southward in a narrow band along the St. Johns River, jutting westward to take in Gainesville. It then shoots back east through a big chunk of the sparsely populated Ocala National Forest before slipping down to take in half of Orlando, some 150 miles south of Jacksonville.
The Fifth was designed to be a safe seat for Corrine Brown, a black Democrat. Republicans tried to pack in as many of north and central Florida’s black Democratic voters as possible, meeting the requirements for minority representation under the Voting Rights Act while allowing for the creation of many more reliably Republican districts, like suburban Orlando’s Tenth, the other district invalidated by the ruling. The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index gives Brown’s Fifth District a 21-point Democratic advantage, but there are also six safe Republican seats surrounding hers. This 6-for-1 arrangement keeps both Republicans and Corrine Brown elected and happy, though it doesn’t do much for electoral competition.
It certainly didn’t do much for Judge Lewis. Reading the beginning of his 41-page decision, you can practically hear Lewis tsk-tsk as he cites George Washington’s denunciation of political parties as groups of “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” who try to “subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” That, Lewis implies, describes Republican legislators who drew Florida’s current congressional district map. Under Florida’s “fair districts” constitutional amendment, he concluded, the GOP legislature would need to draw a new map—a fair map.
But it depends on who’s defining “fair,” and currently, it’s all liberals. In 2005, the League of Women Voters of Florida began pushing for a constitutional amendment to govern the state’s redistricting rules. Two years later, the league joined with Common Cause, National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, Democracia U.S.A., and other liberal organizations connected to progressive mega-donor George Soros’s Open Society Institute to form a redistricting coalition called Fair Districts Florida. Later rechristened Fair Districts Now, the group’s directors include Peter Butzin, the Florida state director of Common Cause; Jorge Mursuli, the president of Democracia U.S.A. and a liberal immigration activist; and Leon Russell of the NAACP. Its president is the League of Women Voters of Florida’s own Pamela Goodman.
Fair Districts Now succeeded in putting two amendments on the ballot in 2010, one for state legislative districts and the other for congressional districts. Both amendments had vague and unobjectionable language requiring that districts not be drawn “to favor or to disfavor a political party or incumbent,” and where feasible to be “contiguous,” “compact,” and “make use of existing city, county, and geographical boundaries.” Then-governor Charlie Crist lent his support, and opposition was limited and late to the game. Both amendments were approved with an astounding 63 percent
of the vote.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:55 PM, May 16, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with editor William Kristol on why the GOP shouldn't rest on its laurels when it comes to poll numbers and why they should continue the offensive through to November.
Republicans will run on it. Democrats will run away from it.Dec 2, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 12 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman and chair of the Democratic National Committee, is nothing if not dedicated to the cause. “You’re darn right our candidates are going to run on the advantage that Obamacare will be going into the 2014 election,” she recently told CNN.
Will the GOP be ready?Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JAY COST
The governorship of Virginia has been held by some of the most eminent men in American history: Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, Henry Lee, James Monroe. And now, Terry McAuliffe will sit in their chair. Depressing?
12:40 PM, Nov 3, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Could the focus on Obamacare in the last couple of weeks before Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election enable the Republican nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, to come from behind in the homestretch? He's run a pretty awful campaign so far, and has been trailing badly for months, but ...
September 15, 2008.11:58 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Sunday was September 15. It's an important anniversary, because it's the day that gave us President Barack Obama.
A presidential succession fraught with peril.Aug 19, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 46 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika returned to Algiers on July 16 after three months in a hospital in Paris. His health will prevent him from running for reelection in April, and it’s unclear whether he can run the country until then. As a result, the contest over his succession is already gearing up, and the Islamists are first out of the starting blocks. The United States and the European Union—along with China, a major presence in energy-rich Algeria—are closely monitoring this latest round in the continuing struggle over the Islamists’ role in government and society.
8:15 AM, Jul 3, 2013 • By JAMES C. CAPRETTA
The Obama administration must have been hearing some awfully threatening noises from the business community lately, because its unilateral delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate, from 2014 to 2015, is otherwise very difficult to explain. The delay is an embarrassing move for the White House and will create some serious new headaches for Obamacare’s defenders.
12:36 PM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
An article about the Iranian presidential election, published online earlier today, included this quotation from the father of Noushin Sobhani, a 31-year-old Iranian gynecologist:
“We hate America,” her father said, smiling. “I hope The New York Times building burns down.”
It's been changed. It now reads:
“We hate America,” her father said, smiling.
“We want this [election] to be free and fair. There’s a lot of ways to, of course, define that.”2:01 PM, May 20, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
9:47 AM, May 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the Democratic nominee for the South Carolina First Congressional District special election, is listed twice on today's ballot. Colbert-Busch is also the nominee of the Working Families party.
The special election is today. Here's a screen shot of the ballot those South Carolina voters will see today, courtesy of the South Carolina State Election Commission:
7:21 AM, Mar 15, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
An odd exchange at the State Department press briefing, via the official transcript: