‘It’s going to be an army’: Tapes reveal GOP plan to contest elections

“Video recordings of Republican Party operatives meeting with grassroots activists provide an inside look at a multi-pronged strategy to target and potentially overturn votes in Democratic precincts: Install trained recruits as regular poll workers and put them in direct contact with party attorneys.

The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.”

“election watchdog groups and legal experts say many of these recruits are answering the RNC’s call because they falsely believe fraud was committed in the 2020 election, so installing them as the supposedly unbiased officials who oversee voting at the precinct level could create chaos in such heavily Democratic precincts.

“This is completely unprecedented in the history of American elections that a political party would be working at this granular level to put a network together,” said Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, an election watchdog group. “It looks like now the Trump forces are going directly after the legal system itself and that should concern everyone.”

Penniman also expressed concern about the quick-strike networks of lawyers and DAs being created, suggesting that politically motivated poll workers could simply initiate a legal conflict at the polling place that disrupts voting and then use it as a vehicle for rejecting vote counts from that precinct.”

“On the tapes, some of the would-be poll workers lamented that fraud was committed in 2020 and that the election was “corrupt.” Installing party loyalists on the Board of Canvassers, which is responsible for certifying the election, also appears to be part of the GOP strategy. In Wayne County, which includes Detroit, Republicans nominated to their board a man who said he would not have certified the 2020 election.

Both Penniman and Rick Hasen, a law and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, said they see a domino effect that could sow doubts about the election even when there was no original infraction: A politically motivated poll worker connecting with a zealous local lawyer to disrupt voting, followed by a challenge to the Board of Canvassers that may have nothing to do with the underlying dispute but merely the level of disruption at the polling place.

“You shouldn’t have poll workers who are reporting to political organizations what they see,” Hasen said. “It creates the potential for mucking things up at polling places and potentially leading to delays or disenfranchisement of voters,” especially “if [the poll workers] come in with the attitude that something is crooked with how elections are run.””

“Penniman, the election watchdog, believes the strategy is designed to create enough disputes to justify intervention by GOP-controlled state legislatures, who declined to take such steps in 2020.”

Why Do GOP Lawmakers Still Oppose Legalizing Weed?

“a majority of registered voters in all 50 states now favor making cannabis legal, according to state-level polling data from Civiqs. Support ranges from a low of 52 percent in North Dakota to a high of 81 percent in Vermont and Washington.”

“the U.S. House passed legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
Not everyone is on board with those policy changes, though. Over 200 House Republicans voted against the legislation, while only three voted for it. (By comparison, over 200 House Democrats voted for the legislation, while only two voted against it.) That partisan opposition means the bill will almost certainly die in the U.S. Senate.”

Criminal justice reform faces political buzzsaw as GOP hones its midterm message

“The Senate delivered former President Donald Trump a bipartisan criminal justice reform deal shortly after the last midterm election. Staging a sequel for President Joe Biden this year won’t be so easy.
Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, are still in talks over finalizing a package that would serve as a more narrow follow-up to the 2018 prison and sentencing reform bill known as the First Step Act. But both senior senators acknowledge it’s not a glide path forward, particularly given the GOP messaging on rising crime ahead of the 2022 midterms — a focus that was on full display during Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court hearings last month.”

“While both Durbin and Grassley say the sequel legislation is necessary to fully implement and expand on the sentencing updates in the First Step law, the campaign-season politics surrounding criminal justice reform threaten broader GOP support. Though 38 Republican senators backed the 2018 bill, it took Trump’s personal appeals to get many on board. And with Democrats in full control of Washington, Republicans’ emerging midterm message — that liberals are to blame for rising violent crime — could make sentencing changes that much harder.”

The Republican Party is still fractured on criminal justice reform

“Recent progress on criminal justice reform indicates that there’s still bipartisan interest in narrower policies.
Republicans’ backing for the Equal Act — a pretty limited bill — is still significant. It’s not yet clear if the legislation will move forward in the Senate, though it now has sufficient Republican support.

In the past, Republicans have similarly been open to very targeted policies.
The First Step Act, for example, enables just a subset of federal inmates to shorten their sentences. Other more ambitious reforms, meanwhile, have floundered.”

Republicans eye new front in education wars: Making school board races partisan

“Republicans across America are pressing local jurisdictions and state lawmakers to make typically sleepy school board races into politicized, partisan elections in an attempt to gain more statewide control and swing them to victory in the 2022 midterms.

Tennessee lawmakers in October approved a measure that allows school board candidates to list their party affiliation on the ballot. Arizona and Missouri legislators are weighing similar proposals. And GOP lawmakers in Florida will push a measure in an upcoming legislative session that would pave the way for partisan school board races statewide, potentially creating new primary elections that could further inflame the debate about how to teach kids.

The issue is about to spread to other states: The center-right American Enterprise Institute is urging conservatives to “strongly consider” allowing partisan affiliations to appear on ballots next to school board candidates’ names, as part of broader efforts to boost voter turnout for the contests. A coalition of conservative leaders — including representatives of Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute and Kenneth Marcus, the Education Department civil rights chief under former Secretary Betsy DeVos — have separately called for on-cycle school board elections as part of sweeping efforts to “end critical race theory in schools.”

In Florida, school boards are among the last elected officials who blocked policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis. If Republicans succeed in pushing the state to strip school board elections of their nonpartisan status and gain more representation on school boards, they could break the last holdouts who regularly defy the governor.”

“Making school board races partisan could make an already heated political landscape even more contentious”

““I do think party labels would produce more informed voters,” West said. “But, at the same time, it would likely accelerate emerging trend of nationalization of local education politics.””

Trump’s 2022 Endorsements Are Earlier, Bolder And More Dangerous Than When He Was President

“First, Trump is endorsing more candidates earlier. So far in the 2022 midterm cycle (as of Dec. 7), he has endorsed 32 candidates in Republican primaries to fill roles in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state governorships. That’s more than double the number of candidates Trump had endorsed by the end of December 2019.”

“Trump has actively tried to unseat eight incumbent members of his own party: He has endorsed primary challengers to Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Fred Upton, and he also endorsed challengers to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez — before bothannounced they would not seek reelection (decisions that may have been influenced by Trump’s opposition). Opposing the reelection of an incumbent from your own party is quite rare, even for Trump. In 2018 and 2020 combined, Trump endorsed only two candidates who were challenging incumbents”

“not only is Trump endorsing earlier in national races, but he’s also backing candidates in state-level elections, particularly for secretary of state.
Trump has endorsed candidates for secretary of state — a state’s top election official — in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan. This is an unusually niche endorsement for a president to make; Trump didn’t endorse in any secretary of state primaries in 2018, for instance. But the logic here is clear: These three secretaries of state in question refused to overturn the 2020 presidential result in their states, and Trump is now attempting to fill these positions with officials who baselessly think the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.”

GOP lobbyists say corporate America is coming back into the tent

“Campaign money flows to those holding power or those positioned to do so, and those in the lobbying business are incentivized to play up their role in facilitating it. But corporate America’s potential embrace of the congressional GOP is notable for what preceded it. Following the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, many top corporations vowed to withhold their political donations to the Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, which includes members in the House GOP leadership ranks. Comcast, Mastercard, American Express and others announced they would not give to those lawmakers; others suspended political contributions entirely.”

““Where we are today from where we were six to eight months ago is a fundamentally different political environment,” said David Tamasi, managing director of Chartwell Strategy Group and a lobbyist with ties to former President Donald Trump. “I think people are realizing that you know it’s likely that the House is gonna flip, and that you’re gonna have to engage with some of the folks that are going to have greater political profiles than they did previously.”
For those on K Street, corporate PAC donations serve as a key tool for access and favors. And the decision to withhold donations vexed GOP lawmakers, two Republican lobbyists said. Additionally, GOP lobbyists at major companies have grown frustrated with expectations that they are supposed to deliver results for their businesses while unable to give to those members who objected to the results of the election, according to one K Street insider. The same lobbyist speculated that the GOP’s frustration with the business community over the lack of donations could cause the party to be less amenable to corporate interests.”

““I think they’ll want to figure out how to repair relationships with people that hold gavels and hold chairmanships that are important,” Geduldig said.”

Why The Two-Party System Is Effing Up U.S. Democracy

“in the U.S., one party has become a major illiberal outlier: The Republican Party. Scholars at the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have been monitoring and evaluating political parties around the world. And one big area of study for them is liberalism and illiberalism, or a party’s commitment (or lack thereof) to democratic norms prior to elections. And as the chart below shows, of conservative, right-leaning parties across the globe, the Republican Party has more in common with the dangerously authoritarian parties in Hungary and Turkey than it does with conservative parties in the U.K. or Germany.”

“People in countries with majoritarian(ish) democracies, or two very dominant parties dominating its politics like in the U.S. — think Canada, Britain, Australia — have displayed more unfavorable feelings toward the political opposition.”

“another team of scholars, Noam Gidron, James Adams and Will Horne, shows that citizens in majoritarian democracies with less proportional representation dislike both their own parties and opposing parties more than citizens in multiparty democracies with more proportional representation.1”

“This pattern may have something to do with the shifting politics of coalition formation in proportional democracies, where few political enemies are ever permanent (e.g., the unlikely new governing coalition in Israel). This also echoes something social psychologists have found in running experiments on group behavior: Breaking people into three groups instead of two leads to less animosity. Something, in other words, appears to be unique about the binary condition, or in this case, the two-party system, that triggers the kind of good-vs-evil, dark-vs-light, us-against-them thinking that is particularly pronounced in the U.S.”