Weekend Open Thread: Tulsi wins CA with GOP Votes?




Hillary Clinton suggested last month that the Russians were grooming Tulsi Gabbard (without mentioning her name) to run as a third party candidate in the upcoming general election, thus handing the election to Trump.  She denies it vehemently; people who would stand to gain from her denunciation, like Bernie Sanders, defended her honor.  (And to be fair, she probably wouldn’t do it to Bernie or even Elizabeth Warren, even if she might be tempted if the Democratic nominee is Joe Biden or maybe even her fellow ’80s child Pete Buttigieg.

Hillary is, as much as her 2016 (and 2008) supporters hate to hear it, a terrible spokesperson for this sort of attack.  (It should be clear to everyone by now that the widespread negative reaction to her last cycle was not because she is a woman, but because of the various things that they rules out of bounds for criticism: her lack of authenticity, her style of speaking, etc.  We’ve had almost half a dozen female candidates this year who do not seem to set voters’ teeth on edge the way that she did.)  But it strikes me that whoever fed this theory to Hillary either garbled in themselves or that she garbled it in translation.  Gabbard does not plausibly a catspaw for Putin, even though she favors a lot of policies, including profound isolationism, that surely make Putin happy.

What she actually is is a catspaw for the Trump faction of the Republican Party.

I don’t say that she’s a knowing agent of theirs, or that there has been any arrangement, etc.  Instead, she just happens to hold a set of beliefs and opinions that lead her to exonerate Trump for any wrongdoing.  So far as I can tell, she comes by her beliefs honestly: that Democrats should campaign solely on policy, that they should not attack Trump over the Ukraine Call scandal, that they should not condemn him for back-stabbing the Kurds, that we should not respond to Turkey’s incursion into what might have been proto-Kurdistan (Syrian, rather than Iraqi or Iranian decision) by belatedly labeling the Armenian genocide as a genocide.  And Trump, who loves exoneration more than anything, eats that up.

So what?  Well, the problem arises when we talk about open primaries.  Republicans who registered as independents (by a certain time that has passed) will be able to vote in California’s March 3 primary.  (It’s a “modified” primary, which allows anyone who isn’t registered with another party to vote.)  If these Republicans vote as a bloc — and why not if Trump has no real competition — they will be able to swing the election towards whomever they want.  And it seems plausible that, for their own purposes, they will want Gabbard.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you should be aware of the “Green Papers” site, which offers some of the best “just the facts” coverage around. If you look at their chronological listing of nomination contests — primaries, caucuses, and on the Republican side an unusual number of conventions, to shield Don Trump from a primary challenge — you’ll see that the following contests are “modified” or “open“:

2/11 New Hampshire;
2/29 South Carolina; 3/3 AlabamaArkansas, California, ColoradoMassachusetts,  Tennessee, VirginiaVermont
3/10 MichiganMissouriMississippi
3/17 Illinois; Ohio
3/24 Georgia
3/29 Puerto Rico
4/4 Louisiana
4/7 Wisconsin
4/28 Rhode Island
5/5 Indiana
5/12 Nebraska, West Virginia
6/2 MontanaNew JerseySouth Dakota

For the most part, these 26 contests fall into a few geographical groups:

(A) nine in the former Confederacy
(B) six in the Industrial Midwest with strong and centralized urban Black population
(C) four in New England
(D) three in Upper Plains states

(California is an exception, but its system was foisted on it by an initiative rather than a legislative enactment.)

Those are the states (and one territory) where Republicans could play a large role in choosing the Democratic candidate, though in some cases they’d have had to re-register.  (This puts the growth of Democratic registration in Orange County and the rest of California in a different light, doesn’t it?)

The effect of non-closed primaries in each state is to make it easier to prevent the nomination of progressive candidates.  (This was especially clear in 2016, when Sanders was declared the loser to Hillary early on based on the largely culturally conservative vote in the “churchified” South.  That these open Southern contests come about so early helps determine the momentum in the race — and is one reason that California has moved its primary to precede them.)

California is looking like it will have a muffled voice due to delegate selection rules.  At this point, we can expect about five or six candidates to make it to our primary: Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Steyer — and Gabbard.  It takes 15% of the vote in a congressional district to receive at least one delegate.  We know what it looks like among Democratic voters and Democratic-leaning independents.  We know less about what it will look like if the order comes from on high to participate in the Democratic race.  In other words, poll results are based on voter models, and the voter models just aren’t built for this.

What could change things, of course, is if any of the Republican challengers — William Weld, Joe Walsh, and Mark Sanford — were to make the Republican nomination contest interesting.  Then, Trump will demand that Republicans vote for him, to ward off any sign of weakness, and Democrats will choose their own nominee — even if it’s someone progressive.  So Republicans who are reading this can decide how things go.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about that or whatever else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of decency and discretion.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)