Puerto Rico voters back statehood, but opposition boycott results in low turnou

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Puerto Rico: On June 11, residents of Puerto Rico voted on the future political status of their island commonwealth, which is currently an unincorporated territory—meaning the Constitution does not fully apply there—whose residents have been U.S. citizens for the last 100 years. Voters faced three non-binding choices: the status quo, statehood, or independence/free association with the U.S. Statehood won a near unanimous majority after opponents boycotted the vote, but preliminary turnout was accordingly just one-fourth of registered voters.

This referendum marks the fifth time that Puerto Rico citizens have had the option to vote for statehood. The most recent opportunity came in 2012, when two questions were on the ballot: The first asked whether voters wanted to change the island’s status, and the second asked what that status should look like if it changed. Most voted in favor of some form of change on the first question, and a larger majority supported statehood on the second question, but statehood failed to attain a majority among all ballots cast thanks to abstentions. With their struggle to beat statehood in recent head-on votes, opponents hope their boycott will deprive 2017’s referendum of political legitimacy.

Given Puerto Rico’s long-running deep financial crisis and economic struggles, statehood is likely to remain an appealing option for many. Congress has the power to admit Puerto Rico to the union with just a simple majority vote. Surprisingly, the national Republican Party platform has long favored honoring the wishes of Puerto Rico voters on this issue, and the territorial GOP strongly supports statehood. However, since Puerto Ricans living on the mainland have long voted overwhelmingly Democratic, it is unlikely that congressional Republicans would admit a new state that could very well elect two new Democratic senators and five Democratic representatives at the federal level.

But even if the GOP remains obstinate following a pro-statehood vote, congressional Democrats could admit Puerto Rico as the 51st state if they regain control of both chambers of Congress in 2018 or 2020. And as a matter of principle, Democrats should embrace statehood if Puerto Ricans themselves do. The island’s 3.4 million people are American citizens who are currently deprived of full voting rights and representation, and its admission as a state would mark a small step toward correcting Congress’ steep structural bias that over-represents white voters and under-represents Latinos compared to their proportions of the national electorate.


IN-Sen: State Rep. Mike Braun is the latest Republican to express interest in challenging vulnerable first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly next year, saying that he expects to decide by Aug. 1 whether to run. Braun is reportedly capable of doing some self-funding. Meanwhile, state Attorney General Curtis Hill refused to rule out running when local political newsletter Howey Politics asked him about it on Tuesday, which is the first we’ve heard from him directly. Republicans currently only have a few relatively unknown candidates running, but Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer have both previously said they’re considering it, and both are widely expected to take the plunge.


VA-Gov: With next Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary almost here, Democrat Tom Perriello’s closing ad is a minute long spot that features nothing but Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders praising Perriello in their own words (with Obama’s endorsement coming from Perriello’s 2010 campaign). As Obama and Sanders speak at rallies and Warren talks to the camera, three of the party’s most popular national figures argue that Perriello will stand up for working families and do what’s right, even when it isn’t easy.

You may also have heard about a last-minute poll from Hampton University showing Perriello with a lead in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, but the survey’s methodology is so flawed that the only right approach is to dismiss it altogether. Hampton asked 741 likely primary voters who they’d back in the Democratic primary … then asked those same 741 likely primary voters who they’d back in the GOP primary. Since it’s illegal to vote in both gubernatorial primaries at once, this poll tells us absolutely nothing about what will happen on Tuesday.


FL-26: Hillary Clinton won Florida’s 27th Congressional District south of Miami by 57-41, making it her second-best seat that Republicans hold, but there has astonishingly been practically no public interest from Democratic candidates about challenging two-term GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo in 2018 … until now. In a recent interview with the Miami Herald, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell says that she is considering it and has met with party leaders in D.C. She is the president of a consulting firm that aids nonprofits with fundraising, which could mean she’ll have the chops to fundraise for what will be an expensive contest.

Mucarsel-Powell previously lost a state Senate race last year against Republican incumbent Anitere Flores by 54-46 in a district that Florida political data expert Matthew Isbell calculates favored Clinton 53-43. However, Republicans have long performed much better than Trump did downballot in this heavily Cuban-American region, Flores is relatively moderate and entrenched, and Mucarsel-Powell only entered that race a few months before Election Day. Consequently, Mucarsel-Powell’s 2016 campaign reportedly impressed Democratic operatives, and she might find greater success in 2018 running with more time to fundraise in a congressional seat that’s also bluer.

Curbelo won’t be a pushover after he easily dispatched flawed Democratic ex-Rep. Joe Garcia by 53-41 in an expensive 2016 race. However, his vote for Trumpcare provides Democrats with a major opening next year in a district where Trump is assuredly despised.

GA-06: On Friday, two new polls came out that have good news for Democrat Jon Ossoff in the swiftly approaching June 20 special election in suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District. From GOP firm Landmark Communications on behalf of WSB-TV, the first poll finds Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel 50-47. Landmark is one of the very few pollsters to release multiple surveys here, giving us a proper trendline. Their prior survey from the very end of May had found Ossoff ahead by 49-48, meaning this latest poll is a very slight improvement for Ossoff.

The other new poll is from Abt Associates for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which says Ossoff is ahead by an eye-popping 51-44 spread. However, when a poll looks too good to be true, it just might be, which is why we should interpret this survey with caution. Ossoff has led in the vast majority of recent polls, but almost all of them have found a much closer race. Furthermore, both parties are spending ungodly sums here, which is a sign that they potentially see the race as closer than a 7-point margin. It’s too soon to say whether Ossoff has indeed opened up a clear lead, but we’ll know soon enough when Election Day comes.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pulling out all the stops for Handel, with Mike Pence heading down to campaign with her on Friday. Judging by the latest fundraising reports, Handel can use all the help she can get. While Handel raised $3.8 million over the last two months—a huge sum for a more typical House race—that number pales in comparison to Ossoff’s $15 million over the same time period.

Republican outside groups have tried to back up Handel by spending heavily on TV ads, but federal law requires vendors give much cheaper ad rates to candidates themselves, meaning super PACs have to spent a lot more to reach the same number of viewers compared to Handel’s campaign itself. A recent Echelon Insights analysis found that, while Democrats have had just a 53-47 ad spending advantage, Team Blue has had a huge 64-36 advantage in “share of voice”—meaning the proportion of ads that actually reach voters.

Speaking of GOP super PACs, the Congressional Leadership Fund has another new ad out on Handel’s behalf. The first half tries to link Ossoff to Nancy Pelosi and wasteful big government spending, while the second half then praises Handel as someone who will protect taxpayers and create jobs.

Grab Bag

Daily Kos Elections: The Kosening: Daily Kos political director David Nir will talk about the upcoming Georgia special election and how Democrats can take back the House next year at a happy hour hosted by the Four Freedoms Democratic Club in New York City on Tuesday evening. The event will be held at Ryan’s Daughter on the Upper East Side and starts at 7 PM. RSVP here today!

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on this day … 6/12 1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS.

1099 – Crusade leaders visited the Mount of Olives where they met a hermit who urged them to assault Jerusalem.

1442 – Alfonso V of Aragon was crowned King of Naples.

1665 – England installed a municipal government in New York. It was the former Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

1812 – Napoleon’s invasion of Russia began.

1838 – The Iowa Territory was organized.

1839 – Abner Doubleday created the game of baseball, according to the legend.

1849 – Lewis Haslett patented a gas mask. (Patent US6529 A)

1897 – Carl Elsener patented his penknife. The object later became known as the Swiss army knife.

1898 – Philippine nationalists declared their independence from Spain.

1900 – The Reichstag approved a second law that would allow the expansion of the German navy.

1901 – Cuba agreed to become an American protectorate by accepting the Platt Amendment.

1912 – Lillian Russel retired from the stage and was married for the fourth time.

1918 – The first airplane bombing raid by an American unit occurred on World War I’s Western Front in France.

1921 – U.S. President Warren Harding urged every young man to attend military training camp.

1923 – Harry Houdini, while suspended upside down 40 feet above the ground, escaped from a strait jacket.

1926 – Brazil quit the League of Nations in protest over plans to admit Germany.

1935 – U.S. Senator Huey Long of Louisiana made the longest speech on Senate record. The speech took 15 1/2 hours and was filled by 150,000 words.

1935 – The Chaco War was ended with a truce. Bolivia and Paraguay had been fighting since 1932.

1937 – The Soviet Union executed eight army leaders under Joseph Stalin.

1939 – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was dedicated in Cooperstown, New York.

1941 – In London, the Inter-Allied Declaration was signed. It was the first step towards the establishment of the United Nations.

1944 – Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung announced that he would support Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in the war against Japan.

1948 – Ben Hogan won his first U.S. Open golf classic.

1963 – “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, and Richard Burton premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City.

1963 – Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was fatally shot in front of his home in Jackson, MS.

1967 – State laws which prohibited interracial marriages were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1971 – Tricia Nixon and Edward F. Cox were married in the White House Rose Garden.

1975 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of corrupt election practices in 1971.

1979 – Bryan Allen flew the Gossamer Albatross, man powered, across the English Channel.

1981 – Major league baseball players began a 49 day strike. The issue was free-agent compensation.

1981 – “Raiders of the Lost Ark” opened in the U.S.

1982 – 75,000 people rallied against nuclear weapons in New York City’s Central Park. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and Linda Ronstadt were in attendance.

1985 – Wayne “The Great One” Gretsky was named winner of the NHL’s Hart Trophy. The award is given to the the league Most Valuable Player.

1985 – The U.S. House of Representatives approved $27 million in aid to the Nicaraguan contras.

1986 – South Africa declared a national state of emergency. Virtually unlimited power was given to security forces and restrictions were put on news coverage of the unrest.

1987 – U.S. President Reagan publicly challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.

1990 – The parliament of the Russian Federation formally declared its sovereignty.

1991 – Russians went to the election polls and elected Boris N. Yeltsin as the president of their republic.

1991 – The Chicago Bulls won their first NBA championship. The Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one.

1992 – In a letter to the U.S. Senate, Russian Boris Yeltsin stated that in the early 1950’s the Soviet Union had shot down nine U.S. planes and held 12 American survivors.

1996 – In Philadelphia a panel of federal judges blocked a law against indecency on the internet. The panel said that the 1996 Communications Decency Act would infringe upon the free speech rights of adults.

1997 – Interleague play began in baseball, ending a 126-year tradition of separating the major leagues until the World Series.

1997 – The U.S. Treasury Department unveiled a new $50 bill meant to be more counterfeit-resistant.

1998 – Compaq Computer paid $9 billion for Digital Equipment Corp. in largest high-tech acquisition.

1999 – NATO peacekeeping forces entered the province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia.

2003 – In Arkansas, Terry Wallis spoke for the first time in nearly 19 years. Wallis had been in a coma since July 13, 1984, after being injured in a car accident.

2009 – In the U.S., The switch from analog TV transmission to digital was completed.

Ban Horse Drawn Carriages in Nashville

Petitioning Mayor Megan Barry, Vice Mayor David Briley, John Cooper, Erica Gilmore, Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Jim Shulman, Nick Leonardo, DeCosta Hastings, Brenda Haywood, Robert Swope, Scott Davis, Brett Withe…

Ban Horse Drawn Carriages in Nashville

Petition by Nashville Animal Advocacy
Horse drawn carriages used to be one of the few forms of transportation. Now, they’re a nostalgic commodity, a novelty often placed in high-traffic tourist spots—such as the ones we all see in our own downtown Nashville. You’ve seen them, the horses with hanging heads and foaming mouths; maybe you’ve even wondered when the last time was they drank water during a sweltering summer day. That may have been your concern, but it wasn’t the concern of those filling their pockets from exploiting these sensitive animals.

The horses pulling these money-making carriages are exposed to a variety of harmful conditions. Think about all the traffic we see downtown, all the exhaust spewing from these cars and into the horse’s air. Many carriage horses develop respiratory ailments from persistent exposure to manmade pollutants, such as the car exhaust. These horses are made to walk for hours and hours on hard pavement; this often leads to leg and hooves problems. And that horse who you thought might be thirsty? He/she may have died from heatstroke or dehydration—there are many documented cases of horses falling dead from weather conditions or a lack of attending to their most basic needs.

It isn’t just the horses who suffer either. The safety of both Nashville residents and tourists is at risk every time a horse is used in this exploitative manner. Several people have seen the carriages blatantly run through red lights, often narrowly avoiding an accident. An accident involving a horse-drawn carriage and any type of vehicle—be it your own car, a sightseeing bus, or any other form of public transit—would be both devastating in terms of loss and damage, but would also be a gruesome tragedy drawing all the wrong attention to our city known for music and honkey tonks. Don’t let it be recognized for animal abuse.

Let’s face it, Nashville. This is cruelty, not entertainment. Our city has multiple transportation methods that are fun for everyone—and still feed our city’s commerce and growth. Tell our city officials you want this abuse to end now.