US House rivals in Ohio deadlocked, but regrouping for fall
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
Wednesday, August 15
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It’s rare that two candidates for a coveted open congressional seat get a do-over.
But for campaigns, party strategists and outside groups, that’s what back-to-back contests for central Ohio’s sprawling 12th District seem to make possible.
The race for former Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi’s unexpired term ended in a deadlock — a frustration Republicans hope to learn from and a thrill out-of-power Democrats hope to exploit.
Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson, of Zanesville, leads Democrat Danny O’Connor, the Franklin County recorder, in unofficial results from the Aug. 7 special election. Given they’re separated by less than a percentage point and thousands of votes are outstanding, The Associated Press has not called the race.
“People are coming up to Danny and saying congratulations,” said O’Connor campaign manager Annie Ellison. “People are really excited that a small scrappy team and dedicated volunteers with a good message did so well against everything the Republicans could throw at us, including the president and vice president of the United States and millions and millions of dollars.”
O’Connor pledged to preserve affordable health care and protect Social Security and Medicare. Balderson touted benefits of Republican tax cuts to Ohio businesses and was joined by President Donald Trump at a rally touting the president’s agenda.
Based on historical trends, Ohio election observers predict a Balderson victory in the special election. That would allow the two-term state lawmaker to run as an incumbent when he and O’Connor face off again for a full, two-year House term this fall.
“The most important takeaway is that a win is a win,” said Mandi Merritt, the Republican National Committee’s spokesperson for Ohio. “Despite all of the hype about a ‘blue wave,’ Republicans have won nearly every high-profile special election this cycle.”
She said the “moral victories” Democrats have sought to claim in Ohio 12 and seven special elections they’ve lost this cycle “don’t win back House majorities.”
Republicans say turnout in a quirky mid-summer special election — held amid summer pool, vacation and back-to-school season — shouldn’t be viewed as a predictor of how voters will act in this fall’s high-stakes midterm elections.
But they certainly will be looking hard at the August results, given Democrats closed a nearly 11-point victory by Trump in 2016 to a margin of less than 2,000 votes.
This spring, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Ohio’s 12th District as one of six held by Republicans in Ohio that the party believes are winnable amid popular disaffection with the president.
The others are held by GOP U.S. Reps. Bob Gibbs, Dave Joyce, Steve Chabot, Mike Turner and Steve Stivers.
Joyce, of Geauga County in northeast Ohio, is airing ads aimed at distancing himself from Trump — even as the state Republican Party announced Wednesday that the president will headline its state dinner later this month. Joyce tells viewers in the spots that he’ll “do what’s right” for constituents “even if it means standing up to my own party.”
Stivers, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, also began running ads in his re-election campaign this week.
Merritt said Republicans have outraised Democrats and plan a rigorous campaign to elect Balderson and to remind loyal Republicans to “defy history” by not allowing the out-of-power party to regain control at mid-term.
Trump to headline Republican state dinner in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Donald Trump will return to Ohio later this month to headline the Ohio Republican Party’s state dinner.
The president’s appearance at the Aug. 24 event in Columbus was announced Wednesday by Chairman Jane Timken.
The visit is a coup for Timken, a Trump loyalist who ousted the state GOP’s previous chairman in January after the president personally intervened on her behalf.
Trump also will attend a fundraiser while he’s in town for U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who’s seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall.
The president last visited central Ohio on Aug. 4 to rally for U.S. House candidate Troy Balderson, a Republican state senator. The race between Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor is still too close to call.
Trump Snubbed McCain. The Media Snubbed the Rest of Us.
The media treated Trump’s petty snub of John McCain as a bigger controversy than the $717 billion Pentagon bill named for the Arizona senator.
By Peter Certo |August 15, 2018
On an otherwise sleepy August day, President Trump signed the John McCain National Defense Authorization Act. Named for the dying Arizona senator who’s championed military budgets for his entire career, the bill increases U.S. military spending to an astonishing $717 billion.
According to my Institute for Policy Studies colleague Lindsay Koshgarian, that’s about double what American taxpayers were spending at the end of the Cold War, and upwards of $300 billion more than what we spent before the War on Terror.
The bill also contains language encouraging a confrontation with Iran, while also making it possible for the administration to continue offering weapons and support to the Saudi-led coalition that’s bombing Yemen. (Where, the very week the bill was signed, they bombed a school bus, killing 51 people — 40 of them children.)
You’d expect a bill of this magnitude to generate lots of critical coverage — and you’d be right! But only kind of.
The most controversial thing about this bill, to hear most of the media tell it, is that the president refused to thank John McCain when he signed it.
Countless outlets, from Newsweek to TIME to the Washington Post, reported the omission as a “snub” against the bill’s namesake senator, an occasional Trump critic. CNN’s Jake Tapper used an entire segment on his show to scold the president about it — and even sanctimoniously thanked McCain himself.
The New York Times ran the numbers: Trump spoke for 28 minutes about the bill, with 0 mentions of McCain.
I ran some numbers of my own: A Google news search on the story turned up nearly 150,000 pieces like this. That’s almost 3 times the number of results I got when I searched the same story, but replaced “John McCain” with the actual price tag of the bill: $717 billion.
To put it kindly, this is garbage.
If the media deems a petty snub more controversial than a massive, war-mongering spending bill, you can be sure Congress will follow. The bill passed by huge bipartisan margins in both the House and Senate.
I can assure you, Trump’s not going to speak more kindly of John McCain as a result of this coverage. But more school buses are probably going to get blown up — and so are more pressing human needs in our own communities.
For instance, my home state of Ohio has, by some measures, the most student debt of any state. According to Koshgarian, taxpayers there spent $15.5 billion on the Pentagon base budget alone this past year. For that money, we could’ve funded nearly 700,000 four-year Pell grants.
For Texas, the most uninsured state in the union, their $45 billion in Pentagon dollars could’ve covered 15 million adults and 16 million kids. That’s the entire state — and then some.
Flint, Michigan taxpayers, Koshgarian calculates, spent some $38 million. That could’ve paid for nearly 700 infrastructure jobs to fix things like, say, lead in their water pipes.
Nationally, that money could’ve provided solar power to the entire country. Or funded universal health care. Or debt-free higher education. Instead, we’ll be shelling out more money on fruitless, destructive wars and boondoggle weapons systems like the F-35 (which McCain himself has called “a scandal and a tragedy”).
The real scandal is that such expenditures aren’t deemed controversial — not by our lawmakers, and not by many of the outlets that cover them. Next time they say McCain’s name, they should report what his bill costs the rest of us.
Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of OtherWords.org.
If Ireland Can Get Out of Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Almost 900 cities, universities, and governments have divested over $6 trillion from the fossil fuel industry. Why not yours?
By Celia Bottger |August 14, 2018
On Thursday, July 12th, a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic proved it was on the right side of history.
The Republic of Ireland passed a bill to divest its $370 million worth of investments in around 150 fossil fuel companies within five years. Should the bill pass the Irish Senate in September, which it is expected to do, Ireland will become the first country to fully divest from fossil fuels.
This action marks a huge step forward.
For years now, neighborhood climate activists have pressured cities, universities, and governments to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies. The idea is to defund and denounce the industry that contributes the most to climate change, funds climate denial, and prevents climate action.
With its divestment bill, Ireland will join a group of almost 900 cities, universities, and governments that have collectively divested over $6 trillion from the extractive fossil fuel economy.
As a leader of a fossil fuel divestment campaign on my college campus in Massachusetts, Ireland’s leadership offers a fun bit of leverage: If an entire country can fully divest from fossil fuels and not crumble into financial despair (in fact, fossil fuels have been a losing investment for years), my university can surely divest its endowment from this destructive industry without harming its revenues.
Ireland’s leadership can also inspire local governments to divest their pension funds from fossil fuels. While it’s quite unlikely that our current federal government will follow in Ireland’s footsteps, American cities and towns can take a stand against the fossil fuel industry one pension fund at a time.
New York City’s pledge to divest its $189 billion pension fund from fossil fuels is perhaps the most ambitious of these commitments. Not only is the city divesting — it’s also suing five fossil fuel firms for their contributions to climate change.
Equally compelling, however, are the numerous smaller American cities that have committed to full divestment from fossil fuels.
The city of Richmond, California, one of the poorest communities in the Bay Area, similarly pledged to divest and to sue fossil fuel companies. Surrounded on all three sides by water, and populated by many low-income people of color, the city and its population are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Richmond’s main employer is a Chevron refinery, which for decades has employed residents while simultaneously polluting their environment, jeopardizing their health, and contributing to sea level rise, which threatens to displace the very population that it employs.
Other local governments that have taken the plunged include Amherst, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Dane County, Wisconsin; and Multnomah County, Oregon, which have all committed to full divestment from oil, gas, and coal companies.
Whether you’re a student, worker, or resident, you can pressure your school, company, or local government to stand for the planet by divesting from fossil fuels. If Ireland, a country known for its religious and political conservatism, can make this commitment to climate justice, anyone can.
Celia Bottger is a Next Leader on the Climate Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.