Entries in Elections (15)


Americans Elect Aims to Bypass Parties With Online Presidential Nomination -- For the 68 percent of Americans who said in an ABC/Washington Post poll released Wednesday that they had a negative view of government, the possibility of having a presidential candidate free of the currently gridlocked political parties could be just a few clicks away.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Americans Elect movement has collected petition signatures -- millions of them -- in all 50 states to put a “candidate of the people” on the ballot in November 2012. This candidate would be selected through an online draft and nomination process instead of through the traditional Republican and Democratic parties primary and caucus schedule.

“We are creating competition for all these folks who are politically homeless,” said Elliot Ackerman, Americans Elect’s chief operating officer. “A lot of the folks that engage with us are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and those people don’t really have a voice in our political system right now. What we’re doing is really creating an incentive structure so that those individuals will be competed for.”

So far, the group has secured a spot on the ballot in six states, has collected the required number of signatures in four states and has about half the necessary signatures in four others. Americans Elect spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel said the group would  begin the petition process in seven more states within the week.

In California, organizers collected and submitted 1.6 million signatures last week, more than have been collected for any one initiative in the state’s history. California has until Nov. 2 to verify those signatures and grant or deny Americans Elect a third-party spot on the ballot.

Ackerman insisted his group is not a “third party” but a ”second way” to nominate a president. Any registered voter can sign up online to be a delegate. Delegates will then draft candidates and vote for their nominee in May and June.

The eventual nominee can be a member of either party or an independent but must chose a vice presidential running mate who is from a different party. Ackerman said he expected many of the losing GOP presidential candidates to move into the Americans Elect primary process after Republicans chose their nominee.

But Jonathan Ladd, an assistant government professor at Georgetown University, said he was “a bit skeptical” that ”high-quality” candidates would chose to buck their party and run under Americans Elect.

“The problem is there are a lot of benefits to being in a party,” Ladd said. “If you run as an independent it will make it harder to run for any office in your party.”

 Because the Americans Elect route carries “a lot of cost” and a “pretty low” probability of actually winning, the group will probably have a hard time getting qualified candidates to accept their nomination, Ladd said.

“High-quality candidates who are ambitious see the incentive to channel their ambitions through the party structure,” he said.

 Perhaps for this reason, the Republican Party, at least, is not too worried that an Americans Elect candidate will pose a threat to the eventual Republican nominee.

“After 32 months of unemployment exceeding 8 percent, Americans are tired of President Obama’s failed policies, and we welcome anyone interested in making Obama a one-term president,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.

The Democratic National Committee did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Ackerman said “a number” of potential candidates had “expressed interest” in the Americans Elect online nominating convention, but he would not disclose who or how many.

Ackerman stressed that there was plenty of time for an additional candidate to jump into the race, because with an online primary, potential candidates would not have to do time-intensive early-primary state campaigning.

This online nominating convention gives each state an equal say in choosing the eventual nominee.

Votes cast in a state such as California, which comes so late in the Republican primary schedule that the nominee is often already chosen, will carry the same weight as votes cast in Iowa, which as the first-in-the-nation state sets the momentum for the entire primary season.

“[Americans Elect] creates this open nominating process, so it takes the power away from the parties and gives it back to the people so the people are driving the process,” Wachtel said.

The way the calendar is currently set up, presidential hopefuls have to edge toward the extremes of their party in order to capture these vital early states, where voters tend to be more socially conservative.

“In the primaries you have to go far to the right or far to the left and tickets are having a hard time tacking back to the center,” he said. “Americans Elect allows a ticket to run authentically without having to go to extremes in the primary.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Calendar Chaos? Florida Threatens to Move Primary Date Up -- With reports on Wednesday that Republicans in Florida are eyeing Jan. 31 as the date for their 2012 presidential primary, other early states are already making plans to leapfrog the leap-frogger.

The primary standoff has the potential to move the first primaries of the election year up a full month -- from February to January.

Fiercely protective of their own place in the presidential nominating process, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- known as the “carve out states” -- would almost certainly push their dates into January in response to Florida’s move.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly plans to hold a press conference on Thursday and he told ABC News he is likely to tentatively set the date of his state’s primary in February.  However, he said that he reserves the right to hold earlier “if forced,” and it appears he will be.

“I get that other states would like to bump up,” Connelly said.  “But, in an effort to be more relevant, it’s just going to make everyone less relevant because a compressed calendar doesn’t benefit everyone.”

Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon told CNN that a nine-member commission in Florida vested with the power to pick the state’s primary was leaning toward Jan. 31.  The commission meets on Friday to set the date.

“The Republican Party of Florida is prepared to live with the decision of the committee,” Florida GOP spokesman Brian Hughes told ABC.  “We’ve always stated that Florida deserves a prominent date to reflect its importance in the national landscape.”

Responding to the reports that the commission was likely to settle on Jan. 31, Hughes said, “Speaker Cannon is in a position to know the direction the committee’s headed.  I would expect his comments to reflect that direction pretty well.”

States are required to tell the Republican National Committee by Saturday when they will hold their primaries, and any non-carve-out state that chooses to hold its nominating contest before Mar. 6 faces the possibility that the RNC will strip them of half their delegates at the party’s national convention next summer.

The current calendar, which could change drastically depending on Florida’s decision, puts the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 6, the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 14, the Nevada Caucuses on Feb. 18 and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 28.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Rep. Baldwin on Recall Results: ‘Work to Do’ Still

ABC News(MADISON, Wis.) -- Tuesday’s recall election results in Wisconsin were something of a disappointment to Democrats, who’d hoped to snag control of the state Senate by defeating at least four Republican incumbents but wound up settling for only two victories.

On ABC’s Top Line Wednesday, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., -- a strong supporter of the recall push -- said the results are “certainly an accomplishment” for Democrats.  But she acknowledged disappointment that Democrats weren’t able to do more to demonstrate voters’ dissatisfaction with Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., and his agenda.

“There's room for encouragement as well as looking at what went right and what went wrong,” Baldwin told Top Line.  “Certainly a true victory would have seen the Senate flip from Republican hands to Democratic hands.  So I think we certainly recognize we have work to do, but there's still encouragement about the progress made.  This was a message and a very strong message in deeply red districts in Wisconsin.”

Six incumbent state Senators were on the ballot Tuesday.  Baldwin pointed out that because only those elected in 2008 -- a heavily Democratic year -- could be subjected to recall votes this year, those incumbents tended to be in solidly Republican districts.

“We're talking about the deepest red districts in the state,” she said.  “I think that a very strong message was sent statewide, and if some of these battles had been fought out in slightly less red districts, we would have seen a different thing.  But this wasn't a statewide election. … This was just one more phase in what is a much longer movement.”

Baldwin rejected the notion that Walker and his agenda should be emboldened by the results.

“If all six Republican Senate seats had stayed in Republican hands, that might have been an interpretation,” she said.  “If this had been something that was happening throughout the state of Wisconsin, I think you would have seen the midterm elections turned on their head.  But it wasn't.  The recall law only allows us to go in certain Senate districts.  This is part of a much longer movement, and I think you'll see that Wisconsinites who would like a responsive legislature and governor are not going to stop here.”

Baldwin also stopped short of saying that recall elections should be available to voters to hold members of Congress accountable, though she said that’s something worth considering because of the recent series of “very embarrassing” scandals involving members.

She went on to suggest that recalls may be a useful tool now, in the wake of what she said was a “manufactured crisis” over the debt ceiling.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin GOP Retain Control of State Senate

Mark Hirsch/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- The GOP retained majority control of the Wisconsin Senate after four Republican State Senators fended off recall votes Tuesday and held on to their seats.

Democrats picked up two seats in the elections fueled by widespread backlash against GOP support for Gov. Scott Walker's cutting of state employee bargaining rights.

The final seat race ended close to midnight when State Sen. Alberta Darling retained her seat, defeating Democratic challenger Sandy Pasch.  Unofficial numbers have Darling with 54 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent going to Pasch.

Sen. Rob Cowles of Allouez, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, and Luther Olsen of Ripon defeated their Democratic challengers based on unofficial results on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

WISN-TV reports that Cowles captured 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Nancy Nusbaum; Harsdorf had 58 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Democrat Shelly Moore; and Olsen had 54 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent of the vote for state Rep. Fred Clark.

Democrats were able to successfully recall Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke, with Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse taking the seat.  Early results have Shilling taking 55 percent of the vote compared with 45 percent for Kapanke.

Jessica King, 34, another Democrat, defeated Republican State Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac, according to WISN-TV.  With all precincts reporting, King led Hopper 51 percent to 49 percent.

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature left the state to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capital to protest or support Walker's move.  After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific senators who were eligible.

Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty.  Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.

There are two more recall elections next week.  Two Democratic Senators are facing recall on Aug. 16.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Recall Vote Could Embolden Dems, Limit GOP Cost-Cutting

ABC News Radio(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin voters head to the polls Tuesday in six recall elections that both political parties stress have implications not just for the Badger State but the entire country.

Outside groups on both sides have poured in millions of dollars for television advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.  Democrats hope to take three of the seats to flip the state Senate from Republican to Democratic control, and also set the stage for similar collective bargaining and budget fights in other states.

Six Republican state Senators are facing recall votes Tuesday in mostly tight races that will depend on voter turnout in an unusual summer election, when much of the electorate are thinking more about vacations than going to the polls.

Joe Heim, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, said Democrats appear to have more enthusiasm but it's a tossup at this point.

"It looks right now like two seats are leaning Democratic and two are in the tossup category," he said.  "Two of the races were leaning Republican up until this week, which seems to be picking up a trend that the Democrats may do better than expected."

The recall effort began in January when Republican Gov. Scott Walker assumed office and Republicans gained control of the state legislature, putting forward a budget aimed at austerity and limiting the rising costs of public employee benefits by ending collective bargaining for all public workers except police and firefighters.

Democrats in the state legislature fled the state and went into hiding to avoid voting on the measure, while thousands of protesters on both sides of the issue flooded the state capitol to protest or support Walker's move.  After Walker signed the legislation, Democrats began gathering signatures on petitions to recall specific Senators who were eligible.  Republicans responded in kind, saying Democrats abandoned their duty.

Enough signatures were gathered to target six Republicans and two Democrats.  If the Senate does change hands, Democrats could overturn Walker's legislation.

The level of campaign spending has been unprecedented, especially considering it is a recall effort, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.  Spending through Monday was estimated at about $28 million from outside groups on both sides of the aisle and about $5 million spent by the candidates themselves.

That number was expected to increase by Tuesday.  Wisconsin Democracy Campaign officials "estimate at this point it's about even," research director Mike Buelow said of spending on both sides.

The group will do a full accounting of spending after the election and will have a clearer picture of whether the spending totals are even.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Revisits Campaign Finance

Comstock/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court returned to the controversial issue of campaign finance Monday, hearing a constitutional challenge to Arizona's public financing system for political campaigns. Several of the conservative justices on the bench seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the Arizona Citizen's Clean Elections Act. The law allows a candidate who qualifies for public financing to receive a lump-sum grant from the government if he or she refuses to accept private contributions.

But the law goes a step further than other public financing laws. It also says that participating candidates can qualify for additional matching funds from the government if their opponents who have chosen not to participate in public funding spend more than the initial grant. The matching funds provided by the government are capped at three times the initial grant.

Arizona voters passed the law in 1998 in the wake of political scandals in order to restore the public faith and diminish the influence of special interest money in campaign races. Supporters of the law say it encourages candidates to take public financing, promotes competition in races and also prevents corruption. But opponents of the law say that it forces non-participating candidates to limit their spending so they won't trigger the matching-fund provision.

Those opposed to the law say that by limiting spending, the law suppresses the free speech rights of the non-participating candidates. In court Monday, William R. Maurer, representing Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a political action committee that opposes the law, said that in an attempt to "level the playing field," the law actually worked as a disincentive for candidates to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Maurer has no objection to the public financing aspect of the law but rather to the government's giving additional funds to publicly financed candidates as a direct result of a privately financed candidate exceeding a spending limit.

The conservative justices on the bench were sympathetic to Maurer's argument.

"Just as a common-sense matter," Justice Anthony Kennedy asked, "if I'm someone with the capacity and the will to make an independent expenditure, why don't I think twice if this is going to generate an equal amount on the other side which might be better spent?"

Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute, who represents three state legislative candidates challenging the law, said Kennedy's comments went to the heart of the case. "Kennedy's inquiry highlights the fundamental way that Arizona's system chills free speech," he said.

But Bradley S. Phillips, who defended the law in court, said the matching funds system actually promotes speech by encouraging candidates to run.

Monday's hearing comes nearly a year after the court released the controversial and closely divided Citizen's United case that struck down laws banning corporate and union expenditures in federal campaigns.

The court is likely to rule on the issue by early summer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wisconsin Protesters to Take Fight to the Polls

ABC News Radio(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has won the battle with unions in his state by stripping most of their collective bargaining rights in what he claimed was an effort to reduce the budget deficit.

But state and local workers maintain that the war with Walker and the Republicans who voted for his measure is far from over.

Critics say the real goal of the GOP is to weaken Democrats in 2012, who traditionally receive backing from unions.  If that's true, the strategy may have backfired.

Democrats in Wisconsin now say they'll turn every local election into a referendum on Walker's governing and those who support him.

With other Republican governors taking the lead from Walker, hoping to dismantle unions and in turn leaving Democrats without a major backer, the Democratic Party is now determined to fight the battle to preserve the rights of government workers in every red state.

The test of union anger in Wisconsin will come as early as April 5, when voters go the polls to elect a new Supreme Court justice who may hear challenges to the new law.  On the same day, voters will also pick a new Milwaukee County executive, which was Walker's job before he became governor.

Next summer, as many as 16 senators could face recall and they're split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.  The GOP would have to lose three seats to lose control of the state Senate chamber.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rahm Emanuel Clears Another Hurdle in Bid for Chicago Mayor

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) – A judge has ruled that Rahm Emanuel’s name will be allowed to appear on the ballot for Chicago mayor.

Cook County Judge Mark Ballard on Tuesday upheld a unanimous decision by the Board of Election Commissioners to allow Emanuel to appear on the February 22 ticket.
Opponents, however, say they plan to appeal the ruling despite the decision that Emanuel met the one-year residency requirement to run for mayor. Some argue that he was not a resident of Chicago during his time spent in Washington as President Obama’s chief of staff.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vote 2010: Official ABC News Election Projections

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Illustration(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest projections from the ABC News Decision Desk in New York:

1:50am ET Update:
- Governor - (D) Neil Abercrombie over (R) Duke Aiona.

1:40am ET Update:
- Governor - (D) Jerry Brown over (R) Meg Whitman.

1:25am ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Sean Parnell over (D) Ethan Berkowitz.

12:40am ET Update:
- Senate - (D) Harry Reid over (R) Sharron Angle.

12:20am ET Update:
- Senate - (R) Mark Kirk over (D) Alexi Giannoulias.

12:10am ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Brian Sandoval over (D) Rory Reid.

12:00am ET Update:
Georgia - Governor - (R) Nathan Deal over (D) Roy Barnes.
Hawaii - Senate - (D) Daniel Inouye over (R) Cam Cavasso.
Ohio - Governor - (R) John Kasich over (D) Ted Strickland.

11:55pm ET Update:
Rhode Island
- Governor - (I) Lincoln Chafee over (D) Frank Caprio and (R) John Robitaille.

11:50pm ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Jan Brewer over (D) Terry Goddard.
California - Senate - (D) Barbara Boxer over (R) Carly Fiorina.
Pennsylvania - Senate - (R) Pat Toomey over (D) Joe Sestak.

11:30pm ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Terry Branstad over (D) Chet Culver.
New Mexico - Governor - (R) Susana Martinez over (D) Diane Denish.

11:05pm ET Update:
- Senate - (R) Ron Johnson over (D) Russ Feingold.

11:00pm ET Update:
- Senate - (R) Mike Crapo over (D) Tom Sullivan.
Idaho - Governor - (R) Butch Otter over (D) Keith Allred.
Oregon - Senate - (D) Ron Wyden over (R) Jim Huffman.

10:45pm ET Update:
South Carolina
- Governor - (R) Nikki Haley over (D) Vincent Sheheen.

10:40pm ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Scott Walker over (D) Tom Barrett.

10:20pm ET Update:
- Governor - (D) John Hickenlooper over (R) Dan Maes.
- Senator - (R) Mike Lee over (D) Sam Granato.
- Governor - (R) Gary Herbert over (D) Peter Corroon.

10:00pm ET Update:

Arizona - Senate - (R) John McCain over (D) Rodney Glassman.
Iowa - Senate - (R) Chuck Grassley over (D) Roxanne Conlin.
Massachusetts - Governor - (D) Deval Patrick over (R) Charlie Baker.

9:40pm ET Update:
- Senate - (R) David Vitter over (D) Charlie Melancon.

9:30pm ET Update:
Missouri - Senate - (R) Roy Blunt over (D) Robin Carnahan.
Nebraska - Governor - (R) Dave Heineman over (D) Mike Meister.
Wyoming - Governor - (R) Matt Mead over (D) Leslie Peterson.

9:15pm ET Update:
Maryland - Governor - (D) Martin O'Malley (R) Robert Ehrlich.
Oklahoma - Governor - (R) Mary Fallin over (D) Jari Askins.
Texas - Governor - (R) Rick Perry over (D) Bill White.

9:00pm ET Update:
- Governor - (R) Robert Bentley over (D) Ron Sparks.
- Senate - (R) Jerry Moran over (D) Lisa Johnston.
- Governor - (R) Sam Brownbeck over (D) Tom Holland.
New York
- Senate - (D) Charles Schumer over (R) Jay Townsend.
New York
- Senate - (D) Kirsten Gillibrand over (R) Joseph DioGuardi.
New York
- Governor - (D) Andrew Cuomo over (R) Carl Paladino.
North Dakota
- Senate - (R) John Hoeven over (D) Tracy Potter.
- Governor - (R) Tom Corbett over (D) Dan Oronato.
South Dakota
- Senate - (R) John Thune unopposed.
South Dakota
- Governor - (R) Dennis Daugaard over (D) Scott Heidepriem.

8:45pm ET Update:
Georgia - Senate - (R) Johnny Isakson over (D) Michael Thurmond.
Oklahoma - Senate - (R) Tom Coburn over (D) Jim Rogers and (I) Steve Wallace.
West Virginia - Senate - (D) Joe Manchin over (R) John Raese.

8:30pm ET Update:

Arkansas - Senate - (R) John Boozman over (D) Blanche Lincoln.
Arkansas - Governor - (D) Mike Beebe over (R) Jim Keet.
Connecticut - Senate - (D) Richard Blumenthal over (R) Linda McMahon.
Tennessee - Governor - (R) Bill Haslam over (D) Mike McWherter.

8:20pm ET Update:
North Carolina - Senate - (R) Richard Burr over (D) Elaine Marshall.

8:00pm ET Update:
Alabama - Senate - (R) Richard Shelby over (D) William Barnes.
Delaware - Senate - (D) Christopher Coons over (R) Christine O'Donnell.
Florida - Senate - (R) Marco Rubio over (D) Kendrick Meek and (I) Charlie Crist.
Maryland - Senate - (D) Barbara Mikulski over (R) Eric Wargotz.
New Hampshire - Senate - (R) Kelly Ayotte over (D) Paul Hodes.
New Hampshire - Governor - (D) John Lynch over (R) John Stephen.

7:30pm ET Update:
Ohio - Senate - (R) Rob Portman over (D) Lee Fisher.

7:00pm ET Update:
Indiana - Senate - (R) Dan Coats over (D) Brad Ellsworth.
Kentucky - Senate - (R) Rand Paul over (D) Jack Conway.
South Carolina - Senate - (R) Jim DeMint over (D) Alvin Green.
Vermont - Senate - (D) Patrick Leahy over (R) Len Britton.

Stay tuned to this page for the latest projections from ABC News.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


California Governor Candidate Meg Whitman Says 'We're Going to Win'

Photo Courtesy - Eric Draper | Meg Whitman for Governor 2010(LOS ANGELES) -- With eight days left until Californians head to voting booths, the Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, says she's confident of victory even though she trails Democrat Jerry Brown in the most recent polling.

"We're going to win this," said Meg Whitman in an interview Monday with ABC News.

Whitman has spent some $141 million of her own money for a fighting chance at the governor's mansion, but the former eBay CEO is still 13 points behind Brown in the latest Los Angeles Times poll.

"Is that a hit in the chest?"  ABC News asked Whitman. "No, because the L.A. Times poll is biased and it's bunk," Whitman replied.  "Every year, the L.A. Times comes out with a poll about a week before the election that's very heavily skewed to the candidate they choose.  Who did the L.A. Times endorse?  Jerry Brown."

Whitman said that her own campaign's polling puts the race much closer. "Maybe I'm a point or two behind," Whitman said.  "What's happening in California, and you can see it in the rest of the country, these polls are bouncing because people are unsure about what to do."

California voters have certainly had no shortage of people telling them what to do.  With record spending on advertising, the airwaves have been filled with political messages for months, and even for billionaire Whitman, $141 million is a lot to spend on the race.

"Well, I think that people need to understand the unions...pour money into politics in this state.  They run Sacramento," Whitman told ABC News. "Because I have invested my own money, I don't owe anyone anything. I only owe the voters of California."

Whitman has also dealt with accusations that she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper.  Her former employee, Nicky Diaz, came forward in September, saying Whitman had fired her just before the campaign after nine years of service when she asked for help with immigration problems. "I felt like she was throwing me away like a piece of garbage," Diaz said at a press conference organized by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.

Polling among California's Hispanic voters has shown that they disapprove of Whitman's handling of the housekeeper, but today Whitman said there was nothing she could have done differently.  She says she fired Diaz when she learned of her illegal status.

"We had to follow the law.  We had to let her go," Whitman said.  "It broke my heart that she was undocumented.  I chose not to turn her in.  And Jerry Brown and his union friends made an example of her.  They pulled a political stunt with her."

It's certainly been a long race. Whitman launched her campaign at the beginning of 2009.  With just days to go before a final result, she says she's happy with her choices.

"I would do it all over again in a minute because you know why?  California really matters.  And we can lead the nation out of this recession."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio