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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
August 30, 2020

NC-SEN: GOP Senator Now Sorry For Not Wearing A Face Mask At Trump's RNC White House Speech

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said Friday that he “fell short” of his own standards by not wearing a mask at President Donald Trump’s White House speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention.

Ditching the mask was particularly awkward for Tillis, who has repeatedly urged his constituents to wear face masks to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Tillis was photographed without a mask in the middle of the packed crowd and had a bad case of morning-after regrets.

“I’ve stressed the importance of mask-wearing throughout this pandemic and have tried to lead by example on this issue, but last night I fell short of my own standard,” said Tillis, who’s battling for reelection this year, in a statement.

Some 1,500 spectators — almost all of them without masks — sat shoulder-to-shoulder on the White House South Lawn to hear Trump Thursday night. MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough blasted the event as a reckless “super spreader” scenario and the “Woodstock of germs.” “It’s all very cool if you like coronavirus,” he added. (Check out the video above.)

Four people who attended the first night of the GOP convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, have aleady tested positive for COVID-19.


August 30, 2020

Melania didn't want to use same shower and toilet as Michelle.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff writes in her new book, Melania and Me, that Melania Trump didn’t want to move to the White House right away in part because she didn’t want to have to use the same shower and toilet as former First Lady Michelle Obama and was waiting for the bathroom to be renovated, Politico reports.

Another reason previously reported was that Melania delayed her move to the White House to gain leverage for renegotiating her prenuptial agreement with her husband.


August 29, 2020

ME-SEN: Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid

The U.S. banking industry’s largest lobbying group will run television advertisements supporting the reelection of Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of the most vulnerable incumbent Senate Republicans.

The American Bankers Association (ABA) on Thursday released an ad praising Collins as “America’s most bipartisan senator,” lauding her for her role in creating the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the emergency loan program for small businesses passed through the March CARES Act.

The ABA will spend at least $100,000 to run the ads on Maine television stations in support of Collins’s bid for a fifth Senate term.

“Senator Collins has worked with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to provide Mainers with the support they need during this difficult time,” said ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols. “Her efforts helped pass bipartisan legislation to create the critically important Paycheck Protection Program to help struggling small businesses weather the pandemic.”

Collins, one of the Senate’s most moderate Republicans, is facing a daunting bid for reelection against Democratic challenger and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. Collins’s support among Mainers in both parties has steadily declined since President Trump’s election, and a poll conducted by the Bangor Daily News earlier this month found Gideon with an 8-point lead over the incumbent.


August 29, 2020

TN: FedExForum won't become polling place after NBA's request,

Will FedExForum become a polling place this fall?

That was the question after the NBA and National Basketball Players Association released a statement Friday. The NBA said the league will partner with the players on three commitments toward social justice.

One of them was that teams that own and control their arena property would work with local elections officials to turn their arenas into polling places in this fall's general election.

However, the Grizzlies said that FedExForum would not be converted into a voting center after speaking with the Shelby County Election Commission.

"After careful consideration, the Election Commission determined the best course of action would be to continue their focus of driving voters to their local precincts in order to create the best opportunity for high voter turnout on Election Day," the team said in a statement Friday.

According to an NBA spokesperson, at least 13 NBA teams have begun turning their facilities into voting centers. The Atlanta Hawks were the first to do so in June when they and Fulton County announced State Farm Arena would be Georgia's largest voting precinct.


August 29, 2020

FL-26: Kamala Harris, Rep. Mucarsel Powell pitch to Miami Hispanics

The Joe Biden campaign played to Miami Latinos Saturday, delegating Kamala Harris and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to helm a roundtable and launch a new Hispanic small business outreach program.

The Florida-centric launch of “Nuestros Negocios, Nuestro Futuro” is no coincidence, given Florida’s diverse Hispanic communities and strong Republican inroads into a number of them,

Harris offered a Florida-specific piece of messaging, saying President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis “have failed to manage the coronavirus.”

Beyond that blast, however, most of the messaging was big picture, alternating statistics about how Hispanic businesses, “the lifeblood of the communities,” are suffering with road-tested lines contrasting the Biden and Trump tickets.

Harris said these roundtables would happen elsewhere in the country, combating “suppression and misinformation campaigns” that are designed to make “our communities confused and fearful” about voting.


August 29, 2020

Texas officials want to cut funding for women's health services while preserving an anti-abortion pr

Texas is proposing to cut nearly $3.8 million in funding from programs that offer low-income residents access to contraceptives and breast and cervical cancer screenings, while leaving intact a robustly funded program that discourages women from having abortions.

Texas health officials proposed the cuts while taking great pains to avoid belt-tightening in most other programs that offer direct services in health care. As the coronavirus pandemic ravages parts of the economy, leaving the state with a projected $4.6 billion deficit, Gov. Greg Abbott asked state agencies to cut their spending by 5% — but largely exempted programs deemed crucial to public health.

Among those spared: a rapidly growing Alternatives to Abortion program, which promotes childbirth and offers new parents financial counseling and social service referrals. Lawmakers doubled the program’s budget last year.

hile the cuts are not finalized, an August budget document obtained by The Texas Tribune shows funding would be maintained for the anti-abortion program, but reduced for doctors and clinics that provide reduced-cost contraception and health screenings. The document acknowledges fewer people would receive those services as a result.

Advocates say the cuts are penny-wise, pound-foolish, pointing to a health commission finding that the programs saved Texas an estimated $19.6 million in a year by averting births with contraception and family planning. (The programs don’t cover abortions.)


August 29, 2020

The NC House is a better flip opportunity than the Senate.

Next, Wachspress explained, they modeled the uncertainty around those margins "to find the chance that both parties will have a say in the redistricting process." There were three sources of uncertainty: the individual district race level, statewide shifts between parties and density-specific shifts. For example, "there's significantly more uncertainty in the ratings based on whether districts are in rural, suburban or urban areas," he noted. That model produced, for example, this "heat map" for North Carolina, a state where the governor plays no role in redistricting.

The most likely outcome is Republican control of both chambers (lower left quadrant), and thus another egregious partisan gerrymander. (It was the previous North Carolina GOP gerrymander that the Supreme Court refused to consider.) The most likely remedy is Democratic control of the House (lower right quadrant). So that's where the project's attention is focused for North Carolina. Here, raw voter power is the amount that adding one more Democratic vote in a given House race would impact the probability of bipartisan control — and thereby a more balanced redistricting process.

In addition to all the other variables, Wang told me that voter power "depends most of all on how close a chamber is to the edge of control." In that respect, he sees state legislatures in Texas, Minnesota and Kansas as being "right on the edge."


August 29, 2020

Brandy Chambers (TX) may be the most important state legislative candidate in the country.

What shows up in the voter power scores themselves. Texas has the most congressional districts, so it's not surprising that it's got the highest voter power ratings. It has 11 State House districts with voting power of 70 or more, compared with just two that are 50-plus in Minnesota, and three in Kansas. There's a lot more at stake in Texas, simply because of how much more mischief can be done in redistricting the Lone Star State to favor Republicans at a time when its electorate is clearly shifting. The most valuable legislative seat in the country, in terms of voter power is the 112th Texas House district, just northeast of Dallas, with a voter power rating of 100, followed by two more suburban districts, the 26th (outside Houston) and the 66th (north of Dallas) with ratings of 93 and 91.

The Democratic candidate for the 112th district, Brandy Chambers, was a participant in the PGP town hall. So, naturally I was interested in her district and her race. She came within two points of winning in 2018, and is running again to unseat five-term incumbent Angie Chen Button. Chambers' website accused the GOP legislature of being "focused on fringe issues," and I asked her to elaborate.

"When Texas was suffering a CPS [Child Protective Services] crisis and public school funding was drowning, the leadership in Austin prioritized bathroom bills and laws intimidating immigrants," she replied. "I've talked to people all over our district and not one person said, 'Please more tax breaks for yacht owners and no to lifesaving and billion dollar saving Medicaid expansion.' No voters asked for more than a dozen pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation."

My opponent votes against local control, neighborhood schools, property tax reform, public safety, wage-theft prevention, and private family planning," Chambers said. "She works for special interest donors. I will work for the people."

While some specifics may vary ("wage theft prevention" is important, but probably made Chambers' list because she's an employment law attorney), those broad themes surely echo in thousands of other races nationwide, along with other issues her website highlights, including climate change and criminal justice reform. She also includes fair redistricting maps ("Politicians shouldn't pick their voters&quot , which as an issue remains more muddled.


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About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.
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