Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Time for Newt to Strike the Colors

Though I am a Rick Santorum supporter, I’ve always had a good deal of sympathy for Newt Gingrich.

He was the leading conservative rabble-rouser of this generation. A brilliant political strategist with the boldness to make things happen, Gingrich dared to dream and think on a level that caused the permanent GOP minority caucus managers to hyperventilate.

Two years after then-registered independent Mitt Romney cast a ballot in the 1992 Democratic Presidential Primary, Gingrich played the lead role in the Republican capture of the US House of Representatives, ending an exile that extended back to the Eisenhower Administration.

The historian had written himself into the history books.

When the LSU political science department offered his class on videotape during intersession, I took it.

To see Gingrich’s GOP cred savaged by a Romney-aligned Super PAC is the apogee of hypocrisy and while the former speaker has certainly stepped in plenty of political dog doo-doo through recklessness over the years, he did not deserve the treatment he suffered in Iowa and Florida from Romney partisans.

Gingrich missed a golden opportunity to face off against Romney sans Santorum in Virginia but did not make the ballot. A win in Virginia on Super Tuesday would have helped him make a stronger case in Alabama and Mississippi, states where Gingrich was competitive.

It would have been Gingrich’s best chance to rewrite the narrative of GOP delegate scramble. Instead, the pair of Deep South states proved to be the last gasp of the Gingrich campaign.

Perhaps Team Gingrich spent too much time dwelling on the debate circuit and not the pesky minutiae of a national campaign. Attention to details is how Barack Obama outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

The effect of Santorum’s surprise wins in Mississippi and Alabama doomed whatever chance he had at winning Louisiana, where his daughter Jackie was born and where he attended grad school (Tulane).

And with Santorum running up the score in Louisiana (48%), Gingrich’s path to the nomination isn’t murky; it’s non-existent.

Gingrich has nowhere else to go until May and a late rally isn’t in the cards.

Right now the race for the Republican nomination is at a crossroads: Romney has an overwhelming financial, establishment and organizational advantage though he has not been able to seal the deal in a convincing way while Santorum is trying to stand athwart of the Romney inevitability argument yelling “stop!”.

Santorum’s challenge is that much tougher since beyond Romney’s operational superiority the Pennsylvanian also has to compete against the “conservative spread”, that being the satchel of conservative votes that has represented a margin of victory denied to Santorum in several key states.

At this point, Gingrich can either choose to exit from the primaries and caucuses on his own volition or endure the embarrassment of being marginalized into insignificance, a path he is already well down judging by his crash in Louisiana and his single-digit poll numbers in Wisconsin.

Newt the historian ought (who not long ago compared Romney to 1920 GOP early frontrunner Leonard Wood) to know that 2012 is the polar opposite of 1980.

That year the conservative vote had largely coalesced around Ronald Reagan’s candidacy (who had quickly disposed of his challengers for the mantle of the Right) while the moderate establishment vote was cut four ways (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and John Anderson).

It was because of the divided moderate vote that Reagan pulled an upset in the not-so conservative state of Vermont.

It might be too late for a Gingrich withdrawal and endorsement to stop Romney’s slog to Tampa Bay though the former speaker’s continued presence in the race practically guarantees the Massachusetts moderate’s nomination.

It’s time for Newt to recognize reality and come to terms that this election is not about him.

Back in January this Santorum supporter argued that a vote cast in the Florida primary for Santorum was in effect a vote for Romney. Rick had practically pulled out of the Sunshine State and had no chance to succeed there while Gingrich was investing heavily in Florida.

Now that we are on the winner-take-all section of the primary calendar, a conservative vote for anyone but Santorum is in effect a vote for Romney.

If Gingrich will not take himself out of the race, then it is up to Gingrich supporters to do the job for him abandoning his sinking ship by backing Santorum.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Presidential Primary That Almost Didn’t Happen (or The Terrible Embarrassment That Almost Did)

Republican presidential candidates will take an unprecedented interest in Louisiana’s presidential primary.

Already the state has been saturated with political mail, phone calls and television advertisements from the contenders aiming to replace Barack Obama and Super PACs “independently” advancing their cause.

More often than not, the Louisiana GOP contest is a rubber stamp ratifying a de facto nominee determined a few weeks prior.

In an attempt to bring a semblance of order to a frontloaded primary/caucus calendar, both national parties agreed to a set of general delegate allocation principles that 1) protected the “favored” status of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, 2) designated a proportional period of delegate allocation and 3) a winner-take all period of delegate allocation.

All three tenets of the presidential nomination system reform were disregarded and continue to be disregarded by several states, most infamously Florida which moved its presidential primary ahead of Nevada and refused to conform to a proportional delegate allocation system. Whether they actually pay a penalty or are compelled to follow the national rules remains to be seen.

Because Louisiana’s presidential primary had just moved to February (the exclusive reservation of the “favored four”) for 2008, it was necessary to move the date of the statewide election back to March in order to comply with the rules. The alternatives were to either lose half of the state’s delegates to the respective national conventions or hold a so-called “beauty contest” primary that would be meaningless in terms of awarding delegates with a caucus to be held later.

With the leadership of the Louisiana Republican Party unwilling to give up any of its delegates and a multi-million dollar “beauty contest” an exercise in fiscal insanity, the state GOP advocated for enactment of legislation returning the Louisiana presidential primary to March.

Except this time, the Louisiana Republican Party’s dance partner from 2008 stood them up.

For reasons that initially seemed perplexing, the Louisiana Democratic Party remained mute on moving the state’s presidential contest. With Obama drawing no credible opposition, it was somewhat understandable that state Democrats took no interest in a bill moving the Louisiana presidential primary back to March.

However as the clock ticked down on the 2011 regular legislative session, the face of the national Democrats reared its head in a mischievous manner.

After the bill sailed through House of Representatives, the legislative ringleader of the Democratic caucus quietly acted to have the bill killed in Senate committee with the assistance of a few Republican senators.

Democrats later argued, hypocritically, that the primary is a waste of money (they didn’t think so when Obama was fighting Hillary Clinton four years before) though at no time did any member of the state Democratic caucus introduce legislation to cancel the primary and thus actually save the taxpayers the expense of a statewide election.

In other words, they tried to orchestrate a multi-million dollar embarrassment for the Louisiana Republican Party, just as the Missouri GOP was mocked for their own beauty contest in February when their government didn’t move early enough to bring their primary into compliance with national rules.

The Louisiana Democratic Party’s antics were immature, irresponsible and churlish, though their tracks covered with the assistance of their fellow Republican senators.

Fortunately another committee meeting was conducted late into the session to reconsider the legislation that had been bottled up and the Republican legislators who assisted with the Louisiana Democratic Party’s national committeewoman’s chicanery suddenly found religion.

The bill left committee on a party line vote (a testament to why Democrats should never be allowed a fair shake on a committee that handles election matters) and passed the senate by a comfortable margin, with the legislative black caucus voting in the negative.

Thus Louisiana’s voice in the presidential election process was saved by a load of angry calls and e-mails from Republican activists to Republican legislators, a bare Republican majority on a critical senate committee and a sliver of a window in the legislative process.

Instead of being ignored at best or mocked at worst in what would have been a public relations debacle, Republican presidential candidates are spending time and money in our state, talking with voters (something generally reserved for the denizens of New Hampshire and Iowa) and learning about the federal issues that affect Louisiana.

And unlike four years ago, the consequences of the state’s Republican primary will not be lost in a political vacuum.

A win by ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would finally demonstrate strength in the Deep South, the bedrock of the national GOP, and perhaps end talk of an unresolved nomination going into Tampa.

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is fighting for survival. A victory by the Tulane grad would revive his flagging candidacy after coming in close seconds in Mississippi and Alabama. A second place or worse showing would end Gingrich’s candidacy through withdrawal or being marginalized to irrelevance.

Texas US Representative Ron Paul has yet to win a state. Ever.

That said, a Louisiana win would do less for him than winning the Powerball would do for me. The latter is far more likely.

For ex-Pennsylvania US Senator Rick Santorum, a big win in Louisiana would be meaningful in three ways- 1) further dampening Romney’s hopes of ending the fight for the party nomination ASAP, 2) potentially firing the kill-shot on Gingrich’s candidacy prior to the legal start of the winner take all period and 3) providing his campaign a major boost going into to the Wisconsin primary, the next major contest on the political calendar.

So when Republicans go to their precincts to let their voice be heard on Saturday, March 24th, I hope they remember two things- 1) your vote matters and 2) the Louisiana Democrats, who find disenfranchisement conspiracies lurking in every close Republican election victory, tried to rob you of your vote for president.

Do your homework and then go vote.


Disclaimer- The author is actively involved in Rick Santorum's campaign for president. If you are a registered Republican in Louisiana and would like to become involved in the Santorum campaign, please e-mail your information to

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Election 2012: Reality Check Tuesday

Note: The author has been supporting former US Senator Rick Santorum since August 2011 and is actively involved in his campaign. Weigh the opinions expressed and arguments presented as you see fit.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and ex-US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania both had good nights while it seems to be “goodnight” for ex-US House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich.

For Texas Congressman Ron Paul it was more of the same. ‘

Super Tuesday revealed glaring weaknesses even for the victors.

The most startling number of the night wasn’t the sliver separating Romney from Santorum in Ohio but the 40% Ron Paul “protest vote” in Virginia. Though only the two were on the Old Dominion GOP ballot, that so many people who disagree with Paul would cast ballots for him is a measure of the disgust much of the party base has with Romney.

And while Romney won Ohio with 38%, it could be argued that 52% of Buckeye voters cast ballots for conservatives. Not since Goldwater has there been such an open rebellion by the party base against the party establishment.

Though the Bain Capital executive very much remains in the driver’s seat on the road to Tampa Bay, site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, Romney’s continuing performance struggles despite the substantial financial and organizational advantages over his rivals is noteworthy and should be disconcerting.

While there is no threat of Santorum or Gingrich voters supporting President Barack Obama in November, a lack of enthusiasm by the party base could be fatal.

Santorum racked up some badly needed wins on Super Tuesday yet missed another opportunity to “close the deal” in a large state. And once again fell short of a plurality after previously enjoying a big lead over Romney.

Santorum desperately needs to score a big win somewhere before his candidacy devolves into that of a social conservative protest vote.

The upshot for Santorum is that he achieved an important secondary objective: burying Gingrich in two southern states the week before Republicans in two Deep South states hit the polls.

Gingrich experienced his first actual victory party since his South Carolina win back in January.

Granted his landslide win came in his home state of Georgia and though he avoided the indignity of losing the place where he launched his political career.

However there were no shortage of electoral indignities for Gingrich across the Super Tuesday map, particularly with third place finishes in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Ohio.
Gingrich needed more than just a strong showing in Georgia to resuscitate his floundering candidacy. Winning Oklahoma and Tennessee would have better positioned him in next Tuesday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries.

Instead, Santorum enhanced his status as the conservative alternative to Romney while Gingrich is increasingly being viewed as a “conservative bleeder” enabling Romney’s nomination by remaining in the race.

Expect Gingrich to flail mightily in Alabama and Mississippi, and barring a shocking turnaround, with the kill shot to his candidacy coming in Louisiana on March 24th.

Since Paul’s candidacy steered towards collecting delegates for a purpose unrelated to actually winning the party’s presidential nomination, his effort remains immune to his failure to win a state. Ever.

Overall Romney achieved what he wanted, bagging a big state while Santorum has recovered from two rough weeks and goes into friendly territory against a frontrunner distrusted by conservatives and an increasingly marginalized Gingrich.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Election 2012: Muffed Memo or Pro-Romney Election Mischief?

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney led ex-Pennsylvania US Senator Rick Santorum by little over 3% in the presidential primary held this past Tuesday in Romney’s native state of Michigan.

Only thirty delegates were at stake in the Wolverine State contest because it held its primary prior to the first Tuesday in March date laid out in the RNC primary/caucus rules.

Of the state’s thirty delegates, twenty-eight were to be decided in Michigan’s fourteen congressional districts and the two remaining delegates would be proportionally assigned according to the statewide results.

The media widely reported this system for awarding delegates. Nobody from the Michigan Republican Party murmured anything differently. In fact, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said as much in an interview with NBC on February 8th.

Granted it’s hard to slice “two big ones”, but as Romney garnered 41% and Santorum received 38%, it was obviously they would each receive one of the two at-large delegates.

And as both carried seven congressional districts, Romney and Santorum would leave Michigan with the same number of delegates.

Though he fell short against Romney in the statewide popular vote, the even-delegate split allowed Santorum to boast he got a win in Michigan.

But alas, there was a fine print clause worthy of Gene Wilder’s infamous contract from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Print so fine that none of the candidates even saw it. Because it wasn’t there.

On a conference call conducted after the primary, the Michigan GOP executive committee voted 4-2 to award Romney both of the state’s two at-large delegates.

On his blog, Michigan Republican National Committeeman/Romney shill Saul Anuzis defended the state party executive committee’s action, citing e-mail traffic, as reflecting the will of the state GOP.

Unfortunately such will was not reflected on the state primary memo sent to the presidential candidates.

Or to quote Wilder/Wonka, “fax mentis incendium Gloria cultum et cetera et cetera memo bis punitor delicatum!”

It’s patently clear why this came about- Santorum’s claims of a strategic victory in Michigan on the eve of Super Tuesday has grated the Romney camp and in a brazen attempt to end such talk they yanked away a Santorum delegate and gave it to Romney to ensure he had a “free and clear” Michigan victory.

To rub salt on Santorum’s wound via a pathetic compensatory move, the Michigan GOP voted to give the aggrieved party 14 non-voting delegates to Romney’s 12 non-voting delegates.

Makes one wonder if Saul Alinsky isn’t pulling the levers at the Michigan GOP, though not all Michigan Republican leaders were pleased with the move including a former attorney general who supported Romney in the primary but voted for abiding by the system as was explained to the candidates and promulgated by the media.

While Romney’s cronies in the Michigan Republican Party might be pleased that their shenanigans has deprived Santorum of a minor talking point, let me share with Anuzis and Company a few other talking points that will be born from this abortion:

1) The Republican Party will stop at nothing to stop an authentic conservative from winning the presidential primary, including manipulating the rules before hand to aid Romney and now after the fact. Florida and Arizona’s illegal “winner take all” systems flout the national party rules yet the RNC has done next to nothing to correct the illegitimate over-allocation of delegates to Romney.

The Republican Party is incapable of conducting a proper election. It’s bad enough the Democrats are already going back to screaming how the 2000 presidential election was stolen (the Pennsylvania Democrats have been running web ads that say as much) but to provide them with fresh evidence of chicanery by Republicans that will only be served right back at us in the general election is political suicide. There have been vote-counting controversies in Iowa and Nevada already. Now you can add the Michigan GOP’s fuzzy rules to the indictment sheet. It’s the equivalent of running political ammo to the Left even if those aligned with Romney are trying to employ the same tactics Hillary Clinton’s machine used in a desperate attempt to deny Barack Obama the Democratic nomination.

And if this is how the Republican Party in Michigan operates, then we should be grateful Anuzis, who also supports the concept of a national popular vote for the presidency, was not elected chairman of the Republican National Committee when he ran for the post in 2008.

God willing neither Anuzis’s ambition for national party leadership or his desire to see the Electoral College abolished will be attained.