Historic race in VT

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In this Oct. 16, 2018 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist speaks during campaign news conference in Vergennes, Vt. Hallquist faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the November general election. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

In this Oct. 16, 2018 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist speaks during campaign news conference in Vergennes, Vt. Hallquist faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the November general election. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2018, file photo, Vermont Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, right, talks with a fair-goer following a debate with Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist, at the Tunbridge World's Fair in Tunbridge, Vt. Hallquist is challenging Scott in the November general election (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

A GOP favorite faces a Democratic groundbreaker in Vermont


Associated Pres

Tuesday, October 23

VERGENNES, Vt. (AP) — In front of a small group of supporters on a chilly fall morning, Christine Hallquist laid out her economic development plan for a state that she feels is being left behind by prosperity in larger states and urban areas.

She reiterates her Bernie Sanders-esque call for a $15 per hour minimum wage, universal health care and paid family leave while adding that high speed internet access is critical for everyone in Vermont, even those who live in the state’s most rural areas.

Hallquist, Vermont’s Democratic candidate for governor, argues that Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a series of legislative calls to address those economic issues and that he doesn’t understand just how critical high-speed broadband is for the state.

“Vermont is a microcosm of what’s happening in rural America,” Hallquist said. “We’re seeing flights to the city, aging demographics and increasing rates of poverty.”

What Hallquist, who until she announced her candidacy for governor this year led a rural electric cooperative, doesn’t mention is her status as the nation’s first major-party transgender gubernatorial candidate. Within the state, her campaign is focused on the issues facing Vermonters, but looking at her race from outside, she proudly carries the mantle as a way to reduce stigma.

“I think balancing has been pretty easy because locally, reporters talk about local issues,” Hallquist said before the rally in the Vergennes city park. “Nationally, people talk about the identity. It’s pretty straightforward. I don’t find it a problem at all.”

After winning the Democratic nomination in August, Hallquist, 62, received death threats from across the country. Since then, she is unaware of any others and she says the people of Vermont are focusing on her ideas.

The day after the primary, Scott said in a statement that he wouldn’t tolerate “hateful, discriminatory and disrespectful speech of any type.”

“A person’s gender doesn’t dictate whether they’re fit for public office,” he said. “What does is their commitment to serve, their ideas to improve peoples’ lives, and their ability to listen.”

Prior to the Vergennes rally, Greg Burdick, 68, a Republican and part-time city employee who also works in real estate, said as he was walking by the park that he was backing Scott because, among other reasons, he liked the governor’s position of no increased taxes.

When asked whether Hallquist’s transgender status affected his thinking, he answered, “No.”

“I’m pretty open to that,” Burdick said. “It’s not my place to make the call.”

Before the primary, The Victory Fund, a Washington-based political action committee that backs LGBTQ candidates across the country, rated Hallquist a “game changer.” The organization says Hallquist is one of at least 244 openly LGBTQ candidates who will appear on the ballot across the country.

“For Christine Hallquist to be running a competitive race for governor of a U.S. state is a tremendous leap forward for the trans community,” said Victory Fund spokesman Elliot Imse. “There are hundreds of thousands of trans young people all across the nation who are scared, unsure about their futures, but can look to Christine as someone who is proving to them that anything is possible regardless of their gender identity or expression.”

By historical standards, Hallquist’s quest to defeat a first-term incumbent is quixotic. No sitting Vermont governor has been defeated since 1962, and Scott, whose first political ad calls for a return to civility in politics, remains liked.

A poll released Monday by Vermont Public Radio and Vermont Public Television, gave Scott a 14 point lead.

Scott, the former owner of a construction company and a part-time race car driver, spent his first two years saying the best way to help Vermont’s struggling families is to keep taxes and fees low for everyone, while minimizing what he feels are governmental burdens on job-creating business owners.

“We want Vermonters to keep more money in their pockets,” Scott said during a debate hosted by the news organization VtDigger. “What we’ve been doing over the last decade or two is just raising taxes, raising taxes, increasing the burden on Vermonters.”

But as a popular Republican in liberal Vermont, Scott is also a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, is liberal on many social issues, and last winter, after what police described as a near-miss school shooting, he urged the Legislature to pass what turned out to be the state’s first significant gun ownership restrictions.

While the move angered many of Vermont’s fervent gun owners, it won him praise from others who favored the restrictions — mild by the standards of other states.

The election isn’t drawing the money of the 2016 race, when Scott was competing for an open seat.

As of the Oct. 15 campaign finance filing deadline, Scott had raised just over $560,000, while Hallquist had raised just under $440,000. At the same point in the 2016 campaign, Scott had raised just over $1.3 million, while his Democratic opponent, Sue Minter, had raised $1.7 million.

During a series of debates Scott and Hallquist have gone back on forth on their political philosophies and vision for the future of Vermont.

“Vermonters have a real choice,” Hallquist said during one debate.

People are listening to the debate.

“I loved what I heard,” said Jeremy Holm, 50, an actor who plays agent Nathan Green on “House of Cards,” lives in Vergennes and attended Hallquist’s rally. “It’s really refreshing to hear a candidate who understands the nuts and bolts of what’s going on and can articulate how to solve the problems we have, and is also realistic about the solutions. We don’t see that very often.”

The Conversation

Georgia’s gubernatorial race could be a bellwether for Democrats nationally

October 23, 2018

Author: Jeffrey Lazarus, Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

Disclosure statement: Jeffrey Lazarus does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Georgia State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Democrats haven’t won a major statewide office in Georgia since 2000, but this year’s gubernatorial race in the state is a tossup.

As a political scientist who studies elections and lives in Georgia, I’ve been watching this race closely.

Polls have the Republican candidate, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and the Democratic candidate, former State House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, in a virtual dead heat. Political forecasters at FiveThirtyEight estimate this is the closest statewide race in the nation.

The 2018 gubernatorial election is Democrats’ best chance in decades to pick up a Georgia win.

Running uphill

From the outside, Georgia appears to be a solidly red state, but underneath the surface it’s pretty closely divided. There have been 10 races in Georgia for major statewide offices – that includes senator and governor – since 2000. Democrats have lost all of those races, but based on data I’ve compiled the Democratic candidate has won 45 percent of the vote five times, and 47 percent of the vote three times. Republicans have won an average of 52.9 percent of the vote. This is a very low average margin of victory for a state in which one party wins so consistently.

Each candidate in this year’s gubernatorial race has a significant electoral weakness.

Kemp is a far-right conservative who won the primary election with a campaign grounded in anti-immigrant and pro-gun messages, and Donald Trump’s endorsement. He’s facing a strong national Democratic tide brought on by President Trump’s lagging popularity and high levels of enthusiasm among Democratic voters.

Abrams is an African-American woman running for office, and even in 2018, minority and women candidates have a harder time winning elections.

In both cases, these qualities may hurt the candidate in the general election by dampening voter enthusiasm.

Kemp the ideologue

Kemp made national headlines in April and May during the Republican primary with a campaign designed to win over the most conservative voters in Georgia.

Kemp released an ad in which he had a conversation with a teenage boy while pointing a gun at him as an illustration of how committed he is to upholding the Second Amendment. In another ad he boasted about “round[ing] up criminal illegal aliens” in his own pickup truck.

This conservative rhetoric is well-designed to win a Republican primary, because the people who vote in primary elections tend to prefer strongly ideological candidates. Kemp easily defeated his more moderate opponent, Casey Cagel, who lamented that the primary had devolved into a contest over “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck, and who could be the craziest.”

A significant body of research suggests that the conservative image Kemp built up in the primary will not serve him well in the general election. People who vote in general elections tend to be more ideologically moderate than primary voters.

And even though voters have grown more polarized over recent years, they remain more centrist than party activists or elected officials. General election swing voters – true partisan “independents” – aren’t looking for strong ideologues. They tend to prefer moderate candidates who appear bipartisan.

All of this means that in general elections, moderates have an advantage. In those contests, ideologically extreme party nominees win a significantly smaller share of the vote than moderate nominees.

Candidates who win a primary with a strong ideological campaign might try to moderate their stances for the general election, but that usually doesn’t work very well. Voters may not believe the switch in tone is genuine, or the candidate may have already alienated core voters in the primary.

Abrams, race and gender

In contrast to Kemp’s efforts to position himself as a strong conservative, Stacey Abrams tends to focus on traditional Democratic issues such as education and health care. However, she faces a different set of challenges in the race.

Abrams is trying to become the first female African-American governor of any state. Unfortunately, both Abrams’ race and her gender will play a role in how voters perceive her, even in 2018. And neither of those factors will play to her favor.

African-American candidates have a harder time winning elections than white candidates. Research shows that voters – in particular white voters – assume that black candidates are predisposed to favor minority groups in society. Voters also tend to view black candidates and officeholders as being more liberal than white candidates, which can hurt black candidates in a general election.

More directly, some white voters are influenced by negative stereotypes about African-Americans. As a result, white voters evaluate black candidates and officeholders less favorably, and are less likely to vote for African-Americans.

Abrams is counting to make up some of these electoral losses by focusing her efforts on stimulating turnout among Georgia’s nearly 2 million black voters in November, but there is little evidence that minority candidates, in and of themselves, stimulate minority turnout. Nonetheless, some call Abrams’ efforts, along with those of other African-American candidates pursuing a similar strategy in other states, a model for the democratic party to follow nationally.

Female candidates are subject to similar types of scrutiny on the campaign trail. When voters evaluate candidates for office, their opinions are strongly influenced by gender stereotypes. Women are perceived as being more warm and compassionate, while men are perceived as being more assertive and competent. In general, the traits many people tend to associate with good leaders are traits voters also associate with men and masculinity.

As a result, many voters – both male and female – implicitly assume men in general are more competent than women are. These stereotypes can directly influence who voters vote for, as voters tend to prefer candidates who display male traits.

Despite these disadvantages, female candidates tend to win elections at about the same rate as male candidates for office. But that’s only true because, on average, female candidates for office tend to have more political experience than men do on average, are more strategic about running in districts where they have a good chance of winning, and work harder than men at winning elections. If these disparities existed in an even playing field, we’d expect to see women win more often.

Black women have to deal with both sets of stereotypes, which creates an even higher bar to clear for women of color who run for office.

Who will win?

This fall, the Georgia election is likely to come down to which candidate can best overcome these significant electoral disadvantages.

Will Kemp be able – or even try – to expand his appeal beyond the most conservative elements of the Republican Party? Will Abrams be able to appeal to moderate whites who might never have voted for an African-American before? Whichever candidate can better address their specific challenge is likely to be the next governor of Georgia.

The election may have national consequences as well. Right now Georgia isn’t a true swing state – Republicans have a small but very reliable edge here. If Abrams can break through and win the state, it might signal a strong showing for Democrats nationally on Election Day. It might also be a bad sign for Republicans in future elections, as one of their more reliable states could be put into play.

Opinion: Keeping North America Great … Again

By Fernando Leon-Garcia


Even before the ink on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was dry, the debate around which countries won and which countries lost was in full swing.

U.S. President Donald Trump, President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have been busy framing the new deal for their constituents, but what has largely been overlooked is the promise that comes from each country reaffirming a shared belief that we are all better when our North American economy is integrated.

Our continent has been a global economic powerhouse for decades and the USMCA — while not perfect for any one country — encourages the kind of collaborative give and take that’s needed to create jobs, foster innovation and improve quality of life for more of our fellow countrymen and women. Nowhere is that spirit of collaboration and connectivity more evident than in the border economies that dot our hemisphere.

North America is home to a handful of rapidly growing border regions that punch above their weight — and overcome occasional tendencies toward protectionism in each of our countries — to build hubs of economic activity that can drive opportunity and prosperity across North America. These border regions have long been sources of human capital and innovation. Under the USMCA, there’s opportunity to accelerate their growth even more for the greater good.

Here are three lessons for policymakers across North America to consider as we strive to recognize the full promise of the USMCA:

—Recognize that these regions are already massive hubs of economic activity that benefit both sides of their borders.

This sentiment is already driving officials in Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, to launch a high-speed rail connecting both cities. The effort will generate more than 150,000 jobs per year and more than $600 billion in business output.

A similar phenomenon is taking place along the southern U.S. border connecting California and Baja California. This border region has grown significantly over the last decade and now represents more than $255 billion in combined gross domestic product. Companies are increasingly locating and growing in this region, and talent from both sides of the border is driving innovation and helping meet much-needed demand for human capital.

This rapid growth is one of the reasons the San Diego-Tijuana border is the busiest land crossing in the Western Hemisphere with more than 125,000 vehicles and 63,000 pedestrians crossing the border every day for work, education and more. A great example of the dynamic of these two border cities is the Cross Border Xpress, the first ever skywalk to connect a facility in the United States directly into a foreign airport terminal (Tijuana).

—Embrace the increasing global significance of these regions.

Border communities certainly hold regional power, but the cross-border collaboration inherent to these regions give them out-size economic influence on the global stage.

Take Baja California. This state on the Mexico-U.S. border is now home to 900 manufacturing companies from around the globe in growing sectors including aerospace, automotive, technology, medical device manufacturing and more. This includes companies from the Europe, Japan, China and, of course, the United States. Industrial activity in Baja California increased 5.6 percent in the past year, well above Mexico’s national average, placing it as the No. 1 border state and seventh nationally in terms of growth. Increasingly so, many of these companies have incorporated higher value-added processes, evolving from mere cost centers to strategic business assets.

—Engage universities to feed long-term economic success.

As is the case in Silicon Valley, Research Triangle in North Carolina, or the biotech hubs of Massachusetts — universities along borders are also nurturing talent and creating the next generation of innovative professionals.

Border regions can serve as innovation clusters when academic institutions are collaborating closely with business leaders. These alliances have helped make the San Diego, Tijuana and Mexicali cross-border economy an example of what’s possible elsewhere in North America.

My institution — CETYS University — is becoming a brain magnet for the entire region, and that makes us as important to the United States and the world as we are to Latin America. Our faculty members and students are at the forefront of entrepreneurship and innovation and many of them travel between the United States and Mexico every day.

Success has come in part through innovative partnerships for strategic human resource development that include local governments, corporate leaders and universities on both sides of the border.

Examples range from medical technology graduate programs developed by our faculty in collaboration with St. Cloud State University and Medtronics, to a joint project with UC San Diego to support the semiconductors industry or other collaborations that develop talent for a growing aerospace sector. These partnerships demonstrate what’s possible through intentional transnational collaboration.

So, let’s stop debating which countries won and which countries lost under USMCA. All our countries are better when we’re integrated and innovating for a brighter North American economy, acknowledging the promise of collaborative effort to drive continued growth.


Fernando Leon-Garcia is president of CETYS University, a leading private university system in Mexico. He previously served as chancellor of City University of Seattle’s International Division. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

HackOHI/O is a 24-hour marathon of coding creativity and collaboration

COLUMBUS, Ohio – HackOHI/O 2018, The Ohio State University’s sixth annual 24-hour hackathon, is the reason more than 800 students will code, build and innovate around the clock in the Ohio Union Oct. 27–28.

Hackathons are technical project marathons where student teams go from idea to prototype in a single weekend, solving a problem or meeting a need in the marketplace. HackOHI/O is the largest in the state.

Students from Ohio State and other Midwest schools will converge on Columbus to spend the weekend building novel technology apps, devices and projects. After 24 hours of “hacking,” the teams at HackOHI/O will present their ideas to fellow students, faculty, and tech company representatives. Teams will be judged on categories including technical difficulty, creativity, usefulness and presentation.

Nearly one hundred industry professionals interested in the talent and technology on display also are expected to attend the final showcase on Sunday, Oct. 28, when more than $10,000 in donated prizes will be awarded to the most innovative projects. The showcase is open to the public.

“This year we’re emphasizing to the students how this short-term event can be a launching pad for long-term entrepreneurial ambitions,” said program director Julia Armstrong. “And we’re encouraging projects that have real-world impact.” She added that more freshmen and majors outside of computer science have signed up this year, which she attributes partly to partnership with the Ohio State Digital Flagship initiatives.

HackOHI/O 2018 is sponsored by Microsoft, Honda, JPMorgan Chase, AEP and Columbus startup Root Insurance, among others. Sponsors have the opportunity to pitch problem statements as challenges to student teams, such as:

  • Engie, Ohio State’s energy partner, is issuing a Smart Campus challenge addressing the gamification of energy awareness and usage reduction for students and staff on campus.
  • JP Morgan Chase, long-time supporter, is sponsoring the Best Hack for Disaster Relief and Recovery, focusing on communication to population, resource allocation and safety.

In this Oct. 16, 2018 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist speaks during campaign news conference in Vergennes, Vt. Hallquist faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the November general election. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121625281-964c443884ee42e3935ffac52b4dc5b1.jpgIn this Oct. 16, 2018 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist speaks during campaign news conference in Vergennes, Vt. Hallquist faces Republican Gov. Phil Scott in the November general election. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

FILE – In this Sept. 14, 2018, file photo, Vermont Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, right, talks with a fair-goer following a debate with Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist, at the Tunbridge World’s Fair in Tunbridge, Vt. Hallquist is challenging Scott in the November general election (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/10/web1_121625281-0e6230bd5b254fda9382ec3aa64bca0e.jpgFILE – In this Sept. 14, 2018, file photo, Vermont Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott, right, talks with a fair-goer following a debate with Democratic challenger Christine Hallquist, at the Tunbridge World’s Fair in Tunbridge, Vt. Hallquist is challenging Scott in the November general election (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
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