As Virginia goes – so goes 2022 | ticker VIEWS
Since the Civil War, Virginia has elected its governors in the year after the presidential election.
Like by-elections here in Australia, it is a big off-year electoral “test” of how the President’s party is doing after winning office.
What makes Virginia especially interesting is that it has become increasingly Democratic – and it has the capability of sending a sharp rebuke to the president’s party.
Barack Obama easily carried Virginia is 2008
- In 2009, one year into Barack Obama’s historic presidency, Virginia’s governor election went Republican – signaling trouble for Obama with a sluggish economic recovery from the Great Recession, and his signature health care reform – Obamacare – still months away from enactment. In 2010, Obama lost control the House of Representatives in a Republican wave that swept 63 Democrats from Congress.
Obama won Virginia again in 2012, and Hillary Clinton carried Virginia in 2016
- In 2017, one year into Donald Trump’s shock presidency, the Democratic candidate kept the governorship in that party’s hands. Ralph Northam succeeded the Democrat who won in 2013, Terry McAuliffe, a businessman and longtime associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton. This lit a fuse that would ultimately lead to war between Democrats, who won 41 Republican seats to take control of the House in 2018, and Trump, who would be impeached twice for abuse of power and violations of his Constitutional oath of office.
Biden overwhelmed Trump in Virginia last year. The booming suburbs outside Washington, and strong Black and immigration communities through the state, have diversified the electorate and made Virginia less a conservative bastion.
Will Virginia’s election on Tuesday signal something as momentous as the messages sent to Obama in 2009 and Trump in 2017? Will Biden lose control of the House next year – ending his ability to pass any more major legislation?
Terry McAuliffe is back again, running to reclaim the governorship. His opponent is Glenn Youngkin, a multimillionaire venture capital titan, who has welcomed support from Donald Trump. Trump will call into a Youngkin rally later tonight, election eve.
Biden had these political stakes clearly in his sights in July, when he campaigned with McAuliffe:
I mean this, not just for Virginia, but for the country. The country is looking. These off-year elections, the country is looking. This is a big deal…
Look, in this election and in 2022, the question the American people are going to be asking is whether or not we’re helping them and their families — not giving them anything. Are we giving them a shot — just giving them an even shot? Do we understand what they’re going through? Can we deliver for them?
As Democrats, we have to show we do understand, and we’re delivering for them, and we’re keeping our promises. We just have to keep making the case — just as the Republican Party today offers nothing but fear, lies, and broken promises.
But everyone is watching Virginia’s election on Tuesday to see if instead this message will be sent to President Biden: You are not delivering. Your big social and climate and infrastructure bills have not passed.
After a promising start in the first 6 months of this year, the inability to get fully on top of the Delta surge and the economic uncertainty has triggered – slower growth, higher inflation, supply chain shortages, higher gas prices – may well mean Virginia voters are out of patience and do not trust Biden.
In the closing days of the campaign, McAuliffe has tried to wrap Trump around Youngkin – that Virginia is not Trump territory.
McAuliffe has also been begging Biden and the Democrats in Congress to break their deadlock, find consensus and pass the legislation – so that he can show Virginia that billions will come to the state and its households.
But votes to pass the bills will now come too late for McAuliffe.
One other issue has emerged to steal attention: education. Are Virginia’s schools being taken over by a radical Democratic ideology through the teaching of “critical race theory” and curricula infused with provocative novels like Toni Morrisons’s “Beloved”? Youngkin has made this political culture issue a hot button for suburban voters and independents whose swings can determine the outcome.
McAuliffe enjoyed a big lead over Youngkin until the Biden slump in August. Biden’s approval is now in the low 40s and his disapproval is at 50% or higher. The Democrats in Congress have also not passed anything on voting rights or police reform or gun control – and enthusiasm especially among Blacks appears to be waning.
McAuliffe has called in all the Democratic big guns to join him onstage: both Obamas, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Stacey Abrams and Keisha Lance Bottoms of Georgia – and Joe Biden again last week.
But McAuliffe’s polls are at best tied; several show him trailing.
Will the Virginia curse of 2009 and 2017 come back to bite Biden?
Try these post-election messages out:
- If McAuliffe loses: “Democrats! You damn fools! If you cannot govern you cannot win elections! How many times do we have to learn this lesson? You didn’t pass Obamacare early and lost the House in 2010. So let’s pass these bills! And nothing on voting rights! If you have any hope of holding the House, what the hell are you waiting for?”
- If McAuliffe wins: “My god, a miracle that we could win under such adversity – amazing and shows underlying Democratic strength. People want Biden to succeed – not Trump!”
- And if Republican Youngkin wins: “We nailed McAuliffe on the radical extremism that runs rife through the Democrats! And Biden is pathetic. His out-of-control socialist agenda is not what America wants. But it was Trump and his support for me who sealed the deal. Republicans: you want to take back Congress next hear and the presidency in 2024? Stick with Trump. In Trump We Trust.
Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and the war of the Republicans
A fortnight ago, Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Donald Trump, was the first to jump into Trump’s pool for the presidency
This week, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is making waves in the pool. Several others, including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and former Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, and another South Carolinian of color, Sen. Tim Scott, are dipping their toes in the water.
Someone had to go first, and Haley is it.
The others know that Trump wants to tear them to pieces — he has already given DeSantis an ugly nickname, “Ron DeSanctimonius” — and they did not want to be first in the firing line.
Haley may be crazy brave. She is already taking incoming from the Make America Great Again (MAGA) crowd for shying away from highlighting her courageous stand as governor on taking the Confederate flag down from the state capitol.
But Haley has done something very important as the 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination gets underway: She has opened the door to take Trump down.
Haley’s announcements — first on Twitter with her launch video, and then at the rally itself — were loaded with unmistakable criticisms of Trump and his viability to lead the Republican Party back into the White House.
There was this:
“We’re ready, ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past. And we are more than ready for a new generation to lead us into the future.”
“We won’t win the fight for the 21st century if we keep trusting politicians from the 20th century.”
“Mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
And then the Trump-killing argument that Trump is a loser:
“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. That has to change.”
Yes, Haley is also targeting Joe Biden on the age issue and the baggage of politicians from the 20th century.
But these are direct hits on Trump.
DeSantis is staking out his vision – of himself as the true grandmaster of culture war politics. What he has done in Florida he wants to nationalize in the 2024 presidential campaign: DeSantis pushes the anti-woke buttons on immigration, on abortion, on gay and transgender people, on parental control of schools, of radical left racial books that are in libraries. He punishes bureaucrats who stand in the way of his agenda, and uses state power to wreak economic harm on companies, like Disney, who speak out against the DeSantis program.
DeSantis has shown moxie and cunning in these first steps of his long march to the White House. First, to gather 100 heavy Republican players and funders in a strategy meeting just 5 miles from Trump’s lair at Mar-a-Lago. Then, to launch his new book on the DeSantis story and vison – an instant best-seller. Then to be featured at a gathering of the Club for Growth, conservative corporates and investors who believe in limited government and economic opportunity – and they have refused to support Trump. Haley, Scott and Sununu will also address the Club.
While they meet, Trump will be just outside Washington, addressing CPAC, the largest group of conservative activists in the country. For the past seven years, Trump has been their king and has given the clarion call to his movement.
As of today, in the latest Fox News poll, Trump leads DeSantis 43%-27%.
What will be closely watched is how much DeSantis and the others attack Trump, and how much Trump directly attacks those who are circling.
What must be understood is this:
Those seeking the Republican presidential nomination have to take it from Trump.
He is not going to cede it or walk away from it. The only way to beat Trump is for another Republican to take him down — to defeat him in the upcoming Republican primaries next year. And the Republican who does take him down will be using Nikki Haley’s arguments that Trump should not, must not, be the Republican presidential candidate in 2024.
There is no way around it. Nikki Haley has opened the door for the war of the Republicans.
Trump’s campaign debut was panned – but don’t underestimate his chances
Last weekend, Donald Trump held two events in New Hampshire and South Carolina, his first official forays onto the 2024 presidential battlefield.
The experts panned it.
A lot of the political class is talking about Trump in the past tense, and not the future, briefing out to the media that his rambling, Fidel Castro-like monologues bore his audiences silly, that his obsessions and battles with his political enemies do not have the reach they did in 2016 and during his term in office, that he is immersing himself more deeply in extremist QAnon cult waters, that he faces indictments and trials that will derail his campaign and might even put him in jail.
And more: that Trump wallows in the “stolen” 2020 election, knowing that there was no way he could have lost since he got 12 million more votes than in 2016. Trump never concedes. Six years later, he does not acknowledge that Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes than Trump in 2016 – and that he won only because she lost in the Electoral College.
The telling critique – the one driving Republicans in private to say that Trump is done (or should be done, or will be done) is that Trump is a loser.
That Trump lost Republican control of the House of Representatives in 2018, bringing back Nancy Pelosi who secured not one, but two impeachments of the president; that he lost the White House in 2020; that he lost control of the Senate in January 2021 when Democrats swept both Georgia Senate seats, giving them control of that chamber; and that Trump-backed candidates in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Arizona again cost Republicans control of the Senate in the 2022 midterms. As Vince Lombardi, legendary gridiron coach of Green Bay and Washington, said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi would say Trump was a loser.
Trump is having none of it, and his iron resolve was on full display for those listening more closely when he gave his orations last weekend.
“Maybe he’s lost his step,” Trump said in evoking the musings of some Republicans. But, “I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed than I ever was.”
The anger is palpable. The Trump 2023 brand joins his anger with the hottest culture war buttons he can press. Immigration, the open wound that is the southern border, the wall he will finish, the rapists and criminals who are flooding in and that he will keep out tomorrow. Immigration is his lead-off weapon.
Then promises of energy independence and oil forever. Utter hostility to electric vehicles and wind energy – especially if the windmills are offshore. No transgender women in sports. No way they are tolerated. A purge of woke content from school curricula, schoolbooks, school libraries, and school boards. Parents empowered to fire the principal of the schools their children attend; Trump says the parents can vote them out of their jobs.
Trump never goes far into the culture wars without conjuring up Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Trump cannot get enough of Hunter’s laptop and the criminality of the Bidens, their business dealings and their money. We can barely follow all the Trump twists and turns in this tale, but there is no mistake that Trump wants Hunter nailed and his father to bear the consequences.
Reprising his role as Commander-in-Chief, Trump said, in case we have not been paying attention, that we are on the brink on World War III. That Ukraine would not have happened if he had been president. That we could have a peace deal “in 24 hours.” Trump wants to call Putin and knows Putin will be waiting for that call.
Trump’s great loyalist, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, was on the podium with Trump and put it this way after the event. “How many times have you heard we like Trump’s policies but we want somebody new? There are no Trump policies without Donald Trump.”
That’s the message Trump delivered to his base last weekend. And that’s how Trump intends to win.
Buried in Trump’s massive monologue was the core of what could be a winning message. “My mission is to secure a middle-class lifestyle for everyone. I did it before and I will do it again. And we will be respected in the world once again.”
Three powerful sentences which, coupled with the red meat of his anger and rage, mean that Trump is very much alive and kicking.
Leading athletes and medical experts push for medicinal cannabis in sport
Leading lawmakers, medical experts and athletes are pushing for therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain and injury
Basketball star Brittney Griner is one of the leading players of her generation. She jumped into the spotlight for serving a sentence for possession of cannabis oil in Russia.
It begs the question whether medicinal cannabis and athletes are a good mix. Well, many lawmakers, health experts and athletes around the world want to break down the stigmas associated with its use.
Many want to use Griner’s ordeal as motivation to change cannabis laws and therapeutic use exemptions in sports.
Mark Brayshaw, Managing Director of Levin Health has spoken closely with Dr. Peter Brukner who is a world-renowned Australian sports medicine clinician and researcher.
Brukner believes athletes should be able to compete in their field with medicinal cannabis because it doesn’t enhance their performance.
Brayshaw believes there are higher risks for athletes becoming addicted to anti-inflammatory and opioids. As opposed to any risks associated with taking medicinal cannabis.
He explains it enables athletes to function in a healthy way, pain free.
Overall, there is hope Griner’s case will break down stigma surrounding natural medicines and athletes.
In Australia, there are tens of thousands of new applications for medicinal cannabis every month.
There are also growing calls for countries to adopt therapeutic use exemptions in sport, including in the Australian Football League.
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