Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: The man who almost beat Mike Pence is back for round two

Jeff Singer, Daily Kos

Leading Off:

  • IN-Gov: On Thursday, former state House Speaker and 2012 Democratic nominee John Gregg announced that he would seek a rematch with Republican Gov. Mike Pence. Pence prevailed by a surprisingly narrow 50-47 margin last time, and the governor’s popularity at home took a major hit after he started a national firestorm when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which could have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay people. A few months ago, Pence looked safe in conservative Indiana, but two recent polls show him struggling in head-to-head matchups with Gregg. And while voters’ anger over Pence’s handling of the RFRA may fade in the next year-and-a-half, business groups may be less forgiving. Gregg himself says that he was encouraged to run by business people who knew that the RFRA could harm Indiana longterm: If they come to his aid, Pence will be in real trouble next year. Still, not all Democrats are sold on Gregg. While they acknowledge he is personally very appealing, they were disappointed with his weak fundraising last time. And while Gregg opposed the RFRA, he’s still quite socially conservative. A few other Democrats have been mentioned as potential primary challengers, and one of them seems to be moving towards a gubernatorial bid. Despite earlier announcing that she would run for a second term next year, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz now says that a gubernatorial campaign is “on the table,” and that she’ll decide by June. A recent poll gave Pence only a 42-39 lead against Ritz, while Gregg trailed 43-37. Ritz has also won statewide once, unseating GOP incumbent Tony Bennett 53-47 in 2012. Pence and the Republican legislature have been working to strip Ritz of her duties in revenge for her opposition to their policies, claiming she badly handled a statewide test. But if Ritz runs, Team Red will definitely continue to portray her as incompetent. It’s not going to be easy to unseat even a wounded Pence in a state as red as Indiana. Still, Hoosiers have proven that they’re willing to split their ballots, and if business groups take up arms against the governor, he’ll be in real trouble. A few months ago this contest looked like a snoozer, but now it’s become of one of 2016’s must-watch races.


  • FL-Sen, 16: Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan has announced that he will stay out of the Senate race, and will instead seek re-election to his conservative Sarasota-area seat. Buchanan seemed pretty lukewarm about a statewide bid so this doesn’t exactly come as a shock, though it’s going to disappoint a number of Republicans who were thinking of running to succeed him in the House. So far, Team Red doesn’t have a viable candidate to face Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, but plenty of politicians are considering, with Rep. Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera looking like the most likely takers.
  • IL-Sen: On Thursday, EMILY’s List endorsed Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is currently the only Democrat running against Republican incumbent Mark Kirk. The move is a bit of a surprise considering that Rep. Robin Kelly and Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp are both mulling bids. Then again, given that EMILY is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast,” (it helps raise the dough) it kind of makes sense that they’d reward a candidate for making her intentions clear long before anyone else.


  • KY-Gov: Ex-Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner has looked like the favorite against state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and tea partying businessman Matt Bevin in the GOP primary, but this may complicate things. A blogger named Michael Adams has been accusing Comer of assaulting a woman he was dating back in college, but has provided no evidence to support his claims. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Adams has been meeting with Scott Crosbie, the husband of Heiner’s running mate. Adams says he wasn’t coordinating with the Heiner campaign, but emails show that he gave the Crosbies a “heads up” that a reporter was writing about the assault story. Heiner has apologized for any role his campaign played in spreading the rumors. But Comer is not letting him off easy, saying the Heiner campaign “should be ashamed,” and that he would “explore every option” with his legal team. The May 19 GOP primary is coming up quickly, and this story could very well make the difference as voters start to tune in.


  • FL-18: The race to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is finally beginning to take shape. In the blue corner, state Sen. Jeff Clemens has announced that he won’t run for Congress (he gets some points for his headline: “Senator Jeff Clemens says no to huge pay raise”). Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor currently has the primary to herself, but her colleague Melissa McKinlay, a Clemens’ ally, is mulling a bid. On the GOP side, state Rep. Pat Rooney is still considering a bid, describing the odds that he runs as “50-50.” Rooney, the president of his family’s Kennel Club dog track, says next week’s board meeting will help him decide if a campaign is feasible. Conservative pundit Noelle Nikpour is also talking about running, though she doesn’t sound inclined to challenge Rooney. Nikpour is only moving to Florida now: Even in a state full of transplants, that may smell too much like carpetbagging. Martin County School Board Member Rebecca Negron is still the only announced GOP candidate, but a few other politicians could get in. 2014 nominee Carl Domino sounds very interested (though he’s not going to intimidate anyone given his devastating loss last time), and a few other Republicans have been mentioned. Romney won this seat 52-48, so the GOP probably starts out with an edge.
  • IL-13: There hasn’t been a lot of Democratic optimism about unseating Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in this swing seat, and this certainly wouldn’t help things. David Gill, who came close to beating Davis in 2012, says he’s mulling another run… as an independent. Gill has filed with the FEC and says that he now considers the Democratic Party “a subsidiary of the Wall Street banks and large multinational corporations.” Gill is also blaming his 2012 loss on a left-leaning independent: Let us not say irony is dead. Gill was a perennial candidate who beat a disappointing DCCC recruit in the 2012 primary, but he was reluctantly embraced by national Democrats. Gill has never been a great fundraiser, but his name recognition can definitely cause problems for Democrats in a seat where they need everything to go right to win. Right now, only state Sen. Andy Manar has expressed any real interest in challenging Davis for Team Blue, though even he didn’t seem to be jumping for joy at the prospect.
  • MD-04: Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is hoping that he can resurrect his political career after his disappointing performance in last year’s gubernatorial contest. However, while there’s no telling what will happen in the crowded Democratic primary in this safely blue seat, insiders are skeptical of Brown’s chances. Perhaps the most convincing argument against a Brown comeback that they give the National Journal‘s Kimberly Railey is his fundraising. While Brown and ex-Prince George’s State Attorney Glenn Ivey were in the race for roughly the same amount of time, Ivey outraised him $116,000 to $52,000. For someone as well-connected as Brown, this is a pretty weak haul, though it’s still early. Dels. Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Dereck Davis and former Prince George’s County Councilor Ingrid Turner are also running, but they haven’t been in the contest long enough to report any fundraising.
  • NY-11: Another profile in courage from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: With less than a week to go before Tuesday’s special election on Staten Island, he finally endorsed the Democratic nominee, New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile. Amusingly, Cuomo’s statement was not issued by his own campaign but by the state Democratic Party, which couldn’t even be bothered to tweet it out.

Other Races:

  • Jacksonville Mayor: Despite earlier announcing that he wouldn’t support Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown or GOP challenger Lenny Curry, third-place non-partisan primary finisher Bill Bishop is throwing his backing behind Brown. While Bishop is a Republican, he did well with unaffiliated voters in March, and his supporters might still be up for grabs. However, it’s been over a month since the primary so his people may have already made up their minds, and early voting has started. What little polling we have says the May 19 contest in Florida’s largest city will be close.
  • NV State Assembly: Back in February, we noted that anti-tax conservative activists were seeking to recall three GOP assemblymembers. The campaigns against Chris Edwards and Stephen Silberkraus never went anywhere, but Speaker John Hambrick’s higher profile earned him more attention. Still, as Joshua Spivak has written, it’s very difficult to force a recall vote in Nevada. And sure enough, Jon Ralston tells us that recall organizers turned in only 270 signatures, when they needed 4,100.

Grab Bag:

  • Demographics: Here’s an important post-script from the Urban Institute to the New York Times‘ important data-journalism piece from last week about America’s 1.5 million “missing” black men. The ratio between black men and black women gets much smaller when you account for the Census’s self-admitted problem with “undercounts” (i.e. simply not being able to find people in order to count them), and the fact that the undercount problem, like so many other things, hits black men disproportionately. They point out that it’s a particularly strange omission for the Times given that its op-ed section has written about how Census undercounting diminishes government aid for poor communities, and that one of the most notorious alleged undercounts anywhere in the 2010 Census was right in their backyard, in Queens.
  • Demographics: Pew Research’s report several weeks ago about the relationship between political preferences and generational change was so data-rich that it’s no surprise that they’ve gone back and rolled out more graphs on that subject. The first chart is especially interesting: it compares how the various generations stacked up in 1994 vs. 2014, and it shows how fluid political identity can be as you move through life. Those cynical members of Generation X were the most conservative generation in 1994, but now they’re the second-most liberal in 2014 (after the millennials, who weren’t counted in 1994 because they hadn’t aged into the electorate). On the other hand, the Silent Generation are now the most conservative but were the second-most liberal in 1994 (after the Greatest Generation, who aren’t counted in 2014 because they’ve, euphemistically-speaking, aged out of the electorate). In other words, while the Silent Generation followed the nostrum incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill and became more conservative as they got older, Generation Xers have done the exact opposite!

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In the Newsroom with Gov.Inslee ~ May ~


Soccer coach: Could artificial turf be causing cancer?

By Gaard Swanson Published: May 19, 2014 at 10:54 PM PDT Last Updated: May 20, 2014 at 6:30 AM PDT

a repost


Soccer coach: Could artificial turf be causing cancer?

SEATTLE — A local soccer coach is raising serious questions about the material used tomakeartificialathleticfieldsCrumbrubberis made fromshreddedtiresandis used in soccer fields all over the country. The turf is especially popular in Seattle because the tires get recycled and the reliable surface can stand up to soggy weather.But one local coach sees a troubling connection between the turf and cancer among soccer players.Soccer runs in the blood of University of Washington assistant coach Amy Griffin. She started playing goalie as a child, and now helps UW goalies stay fit and improve their skills.Griffin’s always searching for new talent and keeps a list of top players. But one list of names isn’t about recruiting. On it are 13 players from Washington who have all been diagnosed with rare types of cancer.Of those 13, 11 come from an even smaller pool of players: Goal keepers.

“Everyone says it’s just a coincidence and kind of walks away, but the ratio of goal keepers to field players is 15 to 1, 16 to 2, and I know plenty of goal keepers that have cancers and I don’t know many field players,” Griffin said.

Griffin said she can’t walk away from what she’s discovered, and she’s not alone. Former professional goalie and reality TV star Ethan Zohn, who has twice beaten non-Hodgkins lymphoma, had been keeping his own list, which he has now handed over to Griffin.

Combined, the lists name 27 players with cancer, and 22 of them are goal keepers.

Griffin can’t say why goalies are getting cancer, but she wonders if it’s the field turf and the crumb rubber used to make it. She said goalies spend a lot of time on the ground diving for balls, blocking shots and sometimes ingesting the small rubber pellets.

“I lived in the stuff,” former UW goal keeper Jorden Alerding said of the turf. “Four to five times a week I was on it for hours — bleeding sweating, everything. Looking back now I wonder could that have been the cause.”

Griffin’s first brush with the unproven connection between cancer and the pellets came when she visited Alerding, who was being treated for cancer.

“She said, ‘I just think it’s something with the field turf. I don’t know what it is, but I think there’s something in those black dots,'” Griffin said.

The former Husky was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma during her freshman year of college when doctors discovered a large, deadly tumor.

“It was about the size, a little bigger than a softball, right in the center of my chest,” Alerding said.

Alerding is now cancer free, but she still questions the health effects of crumb rubber and the lack of further research.

“If this can be prevented, I don’t know why there isn’t more effort being made to do the research and find out,” she said.

The pain is still fresh for June Leahy. Her daughter, Austen Everett, a star goalie for Seattle’s Blanchet High School and later the University of Miami, died a year and a half ago.

By the time Everett lost her second battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Leahy was raising questions about the use of crumb rubber on soccer fields.

“I feel like there is a strong correlation with the turf,” she said.

This isn’t the first time people have raised concerns about the turf, either. In 2008, a goal keeper at Tacoma’s Stadium High School battled Hodgkins lymphoma. Back then, Luke Beardemphl and his family wondered if crumb rubber had played a part in his cancer.

“I’ll catch it. It’ll stop the ball but not the pellets. They’ll go into my face, go into my eyes, my mouth,” Beardemphl said in 2008.

Earlier that year, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission tested some blades of grass used in synthetic turf for lead. The commission found they did not contain enough of it to put children at risk.

The agency later stated that its “exposure assessment did not include chemical or other toxic metals, beyond lead.”

Tires do contain metals and chemicals that have been ruled too toxic to burn in Washington state. The average athletic field uses 27,000 of them.

So, can prolonged exposure to the fields make people sick? The Synthetic Turf Council says no.

The president of the trade organization was unavailable to talk about this story, but the group directed us to a statement on its website.

“For 40 years, under EPA oversight and OSHA- regulated manufacturing, not one person has ever reported ill effects related to any materials associated with synthetic turf,” the statement reads.

Those statements and tests cannot shake loose the feeling Griffin gets every time she learns the name of another goal keeper with cancer.

She also knows that feelings and suspicion do not equal evidence.

The team’s head physician, Dr. John O’Kane, says the concern is valid and has talked with Griffin about the need for scientific and medical research on the effects of crumb rubber.

He said Griffin’s list is only a starting point.

“The question you would need to ask is over that same time period, how many goalies are there that haven’t gotten cancer?” O’Kane said. “And until you understand that number, you really can’t interpret that there’s anything particularly dangerous about being a goalie when it comes to cancer.”

O’Kane said that kind of research could take years. Griffin hopes someone is willing to take on the work to provide her with an answer. She said any answer will do.

“I would love for it to be disproven or for someone to grab me by the throat and say,’These are the facts. This is why it could never be this. This is just happenstance.’ That would be great,” she said.

One former Husky — Alerding — is on Griffin’s list.