Saturday, August 31, 2013

Being Rob Portman

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) from Ohio has gone from potential vice-president nominee for presidential nominee Mitt Romney to one of the more unfavorable Senators in the country.  What might explain this drop?

In October of 2012, prior to the presidential election between Mitt Romney vs. President Barack Obama, Public Policy Polling found that Senator Portman's favorability was 35/25.  Most of Portman's favorability came from Republicans.  His favorability among Republicans was 62/11.  He was not well known among independent voters, owning a 28/23 rating.  Democrats did not support Portman, giving him a 15/39 favorability rating.

Fast forward to last week.  His overall favorability rating was 29/32.  Overall this is not a giant swing.  We're talking about an overall swing of about 16 points in net favorability.  But since this is the only state that matters in presidential election, we'll take a closer look at it.  Among Republicans, his main supporter, his favorability became 45/22.  With independents, we're looking at a huge decline, all the way to 28/44.  With Democrats, who never supported Portman, it fell to 16/50.  What we're trying to do is make up for a 26 point slide with Republicans, 21 point slide with independents and 10 point slide with Democrats.  Overall, it will make up for 16 point swing in net favorability.

Component #1: The Vice-Presidential Bump

I think, in terms of why people knew who he was, we can place some blame on the potential vice-presidential bump.  I had not really heard of him until his name was being floated out there as a potential vice-president nominee.  I am not a voter in Ohio, but I imagine that other people had not heard of him either.  Even with a month of publicity, in May of 2012, Public Policy Polling found that Portman's favorability was 31/33, with 36% of people not having a favorable opinion.  Public Policy Polling found that he had the lowest name recognition of the 87 sitting Senators that they polled in their home state.  The name recognition has actually gone down since then but it has affected his overall favorability.

So, let's look at a table.

Date Overall Favorability Total Name Recognition
05/08/12 31/33 64
06/26/12 32/31 63
08/15/12 38/31 69
09/11/12 36/28 64
10/02/12 32/24 56
10/13/12 35/25 60
04/29/13 26/34 60
08/22/13 29/32 61

So, maybe the vice-presidential bump isn't as large as I thought.  But before we conclude that, let's look at some cross-tabs.  For this, we'll just look at the cross-tabs for political party.  So three more tables.  Wooooo!

First, Republicans.


Date Republican Favorability Republican Name Recognition
05/08/12 50/17 67
06/26/12 50/19 69
08/15/12 59/14 73
09/11/12 56/15 71
10/02/12 58/7 65
10/13/12 62/11 73
04/29/13 46/19 65
08/22/13 45/22 67


Democrats.


Date Democratic Favorability Democratic Name Recognition
05/08/12 13/49 62
06/26/12 15/47 62
08/15/12 15/48 63
09/11/12 15/44 59
10/02/12 12/40 52
10/13/12 15/39 54
04/29/13 8/50 58
08/22/13 16/50 66

Independents:


Date Independent Favorability Independent Name Recognition
05/08/12 29/31 60
06/26/12 35/25 60
08/15/12 49/27 76
09/11/12 41/23 64
10/02/12 27/21 48
10/13/12 28/23 51
04/29/13 24/32 56
08/22/13 28/44 62

Portman had his highest favorability when the majority of Republicans had a favorable or unfavorable opinion about him.  Part of the reason why he had such high name recognition among Republicans during this time was partially due to him campaigning for Mitt Romney throughout the 2012 presidential election.  Portman was an early supporter of Romney and a main person in Romney's campaign throughout Ohio.  Surprisingly, despite this campaign for Romney, Democrats actually supported Portman, comparatively.

So from the potential vice-president bump, this is where we're at in terms of name recognition:
Republicans: -6
Democrats: +12
Independents: +11

In terms of net favorability, this is where we stand:
Republicans: -23
Democrats: -10
Independents: -21

We can give a little credit to the vice-presidential bump.  But obviously, we can't account for all of those swings with this.

Component #2: Background checks

Portman voted against the Manchin-Toomey Amendment.  The Manchin-Toomey Amendment would have expanded background checks by closing the gun show loophole and expanding background checks to private gun sales.  Public Policy Polling commissioned a poll to see how voting against the Manchin-Toomey Amendment affected the favorability from various Senators.

72% of Ohioans support background checks on all gun sales including gun shows and the internet, meanwhile only 21% say that they oppose background checks on all gun sales.  19% of Ohioans say that they are more likely to vote for Portman because of his vote against the Manchin-Toomey Amendment  and 36% say that they are less likely to vote for Portman because of his vote on the Manchin-Toomey Amendment.

87% of Democrats in Ohio support background checks on all gun sales and only 7% say that they do not support background checks.  56% Republicans support background checks and 36% do not support background checks.  73% of independents support background checks and 19% do not support background checks.

7% of Democrats are more likely to vote for Rob Portman because of his vote on background checks.  51% stated that they were less likely to vote for Portman because of background checks.  36% stated that it would make no difference.

32% said that they are more likely to vote for Portman because of the vote on background checks and only 22% say they were less likely to vote for Portman because of his vote on Manchin-Toomey.  40% say that the vote makes no difference.

18% of Independents said that they are more likely to vote for Portman because of his lack of support for background checks.  34% said that they are less likely to vote for Portman because of that vote.  42% of independents say that it makes no difference.

How has that impacted his favorability? Well, it's partially biased because it was immediately after the vote on Manchin-Toomey and may have been impacted by question order.  His favorability fell in the following ways:

Republicans: -24
Democrats: -18
Independents: -13

The biggest fall from Portman was with Republicans.  This is understandable because that is the area where he could have fallen the most.  That's not where it ended, though.

Component #3: Same sex marriage

Semi-recently, Rob Portman announced that not only was his son gay, that he was actually in favor of same-sex marriage.  This may not sit well with certain people.  So, let's take a look at how it affected his favorability.

48% of Ohioans support same-sex marriage and 42% oppose same sex marriage.  This is mainly driven by Democrats in Ohio, as 66% of Democrats support same sex marriage.  Only 20% of Republicans in Ohio support same sex marriage.  Meanwhile, 51% of Independent voters support same sex marriage and 36% oppose.

This combination netted him the following favorability since the background check polls:

Republicans: -4
Democrats: +8
Independents: -8

We can attribute the falling with Republicans and the rise with Democrats could be associated with the support for same sex marriage.

Component #4: Immigration Reform

This is just speculation on my part.  But based on the results of the polls that show that independents are in favor of same sex marriage, for the most part.  We also saw a precipitous drop in the months after the background check poll.  So, what has been the other big issue that has come before Congress?  Immigration reform.  Rob Portman was one of the Republicans in the Senate who was approached by the Gang of Eight to vote in favor of S. 744.  This was slightly publicized in such news sources as Politico and other.  I imagine that this was more politicized in Ohio than other places.  I believe that his non-support of S. 744 cost him some popularity from Independents.

If you take these components together, you'll see why Portman's favorability has fallen.  Portman is not up for re-election until 2016.  He does have a lot of friends in the Senate and in high places.  I wouldn't be surprised if this trend reverses.  
 



Friday, August 30, 2013

Same sex marriage and the will of the people

 “I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves.” 

The above quote is from Wyoming Senate hopeful, Liz Cheney.  It's actually a thought that a lot of social conservatives like to throw out there.  They are all about the federal government not getting involved in the idea of marriage and they prefer each state to decide on their own about whether or not same sex marriage should be legalized.  Beyond the very obvious thought that, this is not how we actually decide how laws or civil rights issues are passed, there may be another flaw in this line of thinking.

This idea has become even more popular after the Supreme Court's decision in the Proposition 8 case that allowed the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court to be upheld.  Basically, this decision invalidated the "will of the people" in which California voters made same sex marriage illegal based on the votes on the ballot initiative that was Proposition 8.

Proposition 8

Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative for California's state constitution.  It was also known as the California Marriage Protection Act and stated that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  Proposition 8's campaign both for and against raised over $80 million, which eclipsed every race in 2008 except the Presidential election.  Further, this campaign nearly tripled the costs of the 22 other similar ballot initiatives combined from 2004-2006.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Presidential candidate John McCain both supported the passage of Proposition 8, stating that it was "the will of the people."  This was said despite almost every public poll that showed that more people were against Proposition 8 than were for it.  The Roman Catholic Church came out in favor of Proposition 8, as did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Most notable religious organizations favored the Proposition being passed, including noted pastor Rick Warren.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice-President nominee Joe Biden both rallied against Proposition 8.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also campaigned against Proposition 8.  So did former governor Arnold Schwarzeneggeer and attorney general Jerry Brown.  All 10 of the state's largest papers wrote editorials condemning Proposition 8.

But San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom released an advertisement that stated that "whether you like [same sex marriage] or not, it's going to happen."  Public opinion polls showed that after seeing that advertisement, people were more likely to support Proposition 8.

Because of all of the attention and money spent and partially due to Gavin Newsom, Proposition 8 passed 52-47%.  This was a huge upset for those who worked on "protecting" marriage.  The line that it was the "will of the people" has been repeated ad nauseum.

The "will of the people"

On November 6, 2012, the people of Maine voted to legalize same sex marriage 53-47 and same sex marriage officially became legal on December 29, 2012.  Public Policy Polling has found that 62% of people in Maine say that same sex marriage has not had an impact in their life, at all.  18% say it has had a positive impact on their life.  Only 20% say it has had a negative impact on their life.  Because of that, the number of people who think same sex marriage should be illegal have fallen to 38%.

In the only state that matters for presidential elections, Ohio, 48% of voters believe same sex marriage should be legal while 42% oppose.  10% are not sure.  But in Louisiana, 63% of respondents do not want same sex marriage legalized.  60% of Georgians do not support same sex marriage being legalized. Meanwhile, in Alaska, it is pretty split, as 45% support same sex marriage and 48% do not.  32% of Wyomingites support same-sex marriage and 57% do not support it. 

Judges in Iowa declared that same sex marriage should be legal.  Since it has been legal, 11% have said it has made a positive impact and 26% have said it has made a negative impact.  The majority of people. 63% have said that it has not impacted their life at all.  The smallest of margins shows that Iowans support same sex marriage.  47% of Iowans support same sex marriage while 44% say it should be illegal.

Sure, only 34% of Texans think same sex marriage should be allowed in Texas while 57% say they should not.  In Montana, it's more or less a coin flip whether or not people support same sex marriage.  42% of people in Montana support same sex marriage and 48% do not support it.  The state legislature in Minnesota recently legalized same sex marriage.  During the 2012 election, there was a vote to determine whether they should ban same sex marriages or not.  The initiative was rejected by the voters.  49% of Minnesotans support the legalization of same sex marriage and 45% do not support it.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to legalize same sex marriage.  25% of people in Massachusetts say that same sex marriage has had a positive impact on their life and 15% say it has had a negative impact.  Meanwhile, 58% of people in Massachusetts should continue to be legalized and 32% oppose it. New Hampshire's legalization of same sex marriage has had a negative impact on 16% of people in New Hampshire and 17% say they have been positively impacted.  56% of people in New Hampshire say it should be legal and 34% say it should not.

In another swing state, Colorado, 51% of people there think same sex marriage should be legalized while 43% say it should be illegal.  Perhaps this is why sections of Colorado want to secede from the rest of the state.  But in Kentucky, 27% think same sex marriage should be legal and 65% think it should be illegal.  In the swing state of Pennsylvania, 45% think it should be allowed and 47% think it should not be allowed.   Even in Wisconsin, it might be too close to call.  44% of voters think same sex marriage should be legal and 46% think it should be illegal.  Despite Congressman Tim Huelskamp's attempt to define marriage nationally, only 51% of Kansans think same sex marriage should be illegal and 39% think it should be legal.  I bet Rep. Huelskamp doesn't say things like the states should decide on their own about marriage.

North Carolina spent part of their presidential primary day banning same sex marriage and any unions that were not one man married to one woman.  It turns out even if they have the vote now, 38% think same sex marriage should be allowed and 54% think it should not be allowed. In Rhode Island, 57% of people believe same sex marriage should be legalized and 36% think it should not.

These states are not cherry picked they are the only states that are polled by Public Policy Polling about the legalization of same sex marriage.  The questions are the same each time.  According to Public Policy Polling the states that have the "will of the people" to ban same sex marriage are Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, and Kansas.  There can be an argument to be made for Montana, as well.  The will of the people in the other states are either not decided or in favor of same sex marriage.

Is this the right way to look at it?

Support for same sex marriage has been on the rise for the last few years.  If you don't believe me, scroll through Public Policy Polling's reports on the question.  You'll see support growing every month, really, for same sex marriage.  So any bans on same sex marriage might reflect the "will of the people" at this moment in time but it may not be the will of the people in the future.  In the near future, there will be near universal support for same sex marriage.  Do we really need to wait around for that pendulum to swing to legalize same sex marriage?

Consider California.  For all of the talk that the United States Supreme Court took away the "will of the people" or ruined democracy in California, maybe we should look at how Californians feel about same sex marriage now.  According to a poll put out by USC, 58% of Californians now support same sex marriage.   In 2010, when that question was asked 52% of Californians favored same sex marriage.  So, what's the real will of the people?  The ballot box in 2008 or every poll that is brought out now.  What is the more accurate way of measuring public support at this moment, a poll from a month ago or an election 5 years ago?

If we take the argument to the logical conclusion, we should vote to legalize same sex marriage every time a new public opinion poll is out.  This just isn't right.  You either believe that it's right or not to allow same sex marriage, it should not hinge on whether or not 50.1% of the people support it or not.  Once we reach 50.1% of a vote for a civil rights issue, it becomes right?  That's the statement being made.

I don't think we should rely on public support for issues of civil rights.  It's not as if we voted on whether or not to allow interracial marriage, to end segregation in schools, freeing slaves, etc.  It's a bullshit excuse to say that you have to have the states decide whether or not they have the will of the people in a state to legalize something, that you personally think is yucky.





Friday's Fillibusters

Preparing for a long weekend? Here's what we're reading....

John Logan writes for The Hill why there should be some optimism for labor unions over Labor Day weekend. Including this, "most Americans hold favorable views of unions. According to a June 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans hold favorable views of labor unions, a 10 percent increase from the number in the same poll conducted two years earlier. This is first time since January 2007 that a majority of the public has viewed unions favorably."

George Zimmerman visited the factory where the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin was made. No word if Zimmerman stalked the factory for awhile before getting in a fight with it and decided to pull a gun to win the fight.

A judge called a 14 year old who had sex with her teacher, "older than her chronological age" while sentencing the teacher for 30 days. 

Val Kilmer was decided to be the worst Batman in the Batman series. This is why we can't have nice things, America.  In related news, Kilmer was the only non-brunette to be Batman.

Bob Filner FINALLY had his last day in office of San Diego. It's sad that it's news that Filner did not put a woman in a headlock and asked her not to wear panties on his last day. 

Liz Cheney in her campaign to be Senator for Wyoming came out....against gay marriage.  Oh, isn't her sister ruining America by being gay married?  Liz Cheney's father, Dick, was an early supporter of gay mariage, even if he, like seemingly most Republicans, only supports it because it affects him personally.  Congratulations Liz Cheney, you made Dick Cheney look liberal.

Book recommendation of the day: Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss

Movie recommendation of the weekend: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (in honor of Val Kilmer)



Friday, August 23, 2013

Better know a politician: Steven Palazzo

Name: Steven Palazzo

Position: Member of Congress

District: Mississippi's 4th Congressional (MS-4)

Political Party: Republican (R)

Tenure: 2011-present

Previous position: Mississippi House of Representatives, 116th district (2006-2011)

Future position: With both Senate seats in Mississippi up for election in 2014, he might be able to primary or run for either of the seats should one of them retire.  Out of the two Senators, I think it is more likely Thad Cochran would retire or be primaried.  While he has not announced whether or not he will retire, he did vote for expanding background checks.  That vote might open him up to a primary challenger.  Palazzo could potentially do that.  If Palazzo has political aspirations for a Senator it would be in 2014 otherwise he would have to wait either for a death (read: special election) or 2020.  I am not familiar if Palazzo has political aspirations beyond the House.

Previous election: 2012, House Steve Palazzo: 64% Matthew Moore 29%.

Next election: House, 2014

Leadership: Committee on Armed Services
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, source: OpenSecrets:

Raised: $230,876
Spent: $64,966
Cash on hand: $435,706
Debts: $19,501

Top contributors:
1. Northrop Grumman: $15,000
2. Lockheed Martin: $6,500
3. Chevron Corp: $6,000

Recent elections:
2012: Steve Palazzo (R): 64% Matthew Moore (D): 29%
2010: Steve Palazzo (R): 52% Gene Taylor (D): 47%

Taylor, who was a conservative Democrat, even by Mississippi standards breaking with his party multiple times.  Palazzo criticized Taylor for supporting Nancy Pelosi for the position of Speaker of the House.  By making it a national race, Palazzo was able to ride the Tea Party wave and unseat a ten-term incumbent.

Notable endorsement: Sarah Palin (2010)

Positions

Abortion.  Palazzo considers himself pro-life.  He has advocated for cutting federal funds to family service organizations such as Planned Parenthood that offer abortion services.  He has been endorsed by the Mississippi Right to Life at every level that he has been elected.  He has voted to ban federal health coverage that includes abortions.

Animal rights/welfare.  He has received a 0% rating from the Humane Society indicating an anti-animal rights record.

Budget/Economy.  Palazzo voted for the Ryan budget in his rejection of Obama's budget plan.  He does not believe in cutting defense spending in order to balance the budget.

Rep. Palazzo has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge which indicates that he is not in favor of raising the taxes on any income bracket.  He believes taxing the wealthy will, in fact, destroy jobs.

He has supported a balanced budget Amendment to the Constitution and would like to see the balanced budget by only cutting federal spending.

He was a critic of the bailout and the economic recovery stimulus funds.  He thinks that the spending does not create jobs but it actually destroys jobs.

Civil Rights.  Palazzo does not believe in same sex marriage.  He adamantly opposes same sex marriae and he believes that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.  He thinks that the federal government should not be able to change what individual states have decided on marriage.  Unless, of course, the state government believes that same sex marriage should be legal.  In those cases, he believes the Defense of Marriage Act should be kept around.

He voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Corporations.  Palazzo wants there to be lower taxes and less regulations.

Energy/environment.  Palazzo does not think that the EPA should be regulating greenhouse gases.  He also believes that we should start drilling offshore for more oil.

Foreign Policy.  He has a -4 rating from the American Arab Institute which indicates that he has an anti-Arab, anti-Palestine voting record.  He would like to withhold funding for the United Nations.  He would like a continued presence in Afghanistan.  He does not support a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.  He voted to bar any troops in Libya without congressional approval.

He has been critical of the Iranian nuclear program and wants to focus on prevention instead of containment.  He would like to enforce sanctions on Iran until the end of the nuclear program.

Gun control.  Palazzo does not believe that there should be restrictions on gun purchases and ammunition.  He has an A rating from the NRA and has endorsed him in various campaigns.

Health care.  He has decided to fight to repeal Obamacare voting to repeal it multiple times.  He has voted to repeal any federal health care takeover.  Voting for the Ryan budget was another way of repealing Obamacare.

Immigration.  He wants to enforce all of the immigration laws currently on the books.  He said he would welcome a similar law of SB 1070 to the state of Mississippi.  He has also stated that he does not support any amnesty bills.

Technology.  He has voted for termination of federal funding for National Public Radio. 



Better know a politician: John Delaney

Name: John Delaney

Position: Congressman

District: Maryland's 6th Congressional District (MD-6)

Political Party: Democratic

Previous Position: Co-founder of Health Care Financial Partners and CapitalSource

Tenure: 2013-present

Future position: Delaney could potentially run for Senate as one of the younger and less experienced members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation.  If you combine his political career and his business experience, Delaney could be a nice potential choice for the Democratic party in Maryland if that's the route they want to go.  The earliest election for the Senate seat in Maryland would be 2016.

Previous election: John Delaney: 59% Roscoe Bartlett: 38%

Next election: House, November 2014

Leadership: Committee on Financial Services
Joint Economic Committee

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, source: OpenSecrets:

Raised: $325,279
Spent: $157,092
Cash on hand: $171,317
Debts: $618,675

Top contributors:
1. Exelon Corp: $9,000
2. American Bankers Association: $7,000
3. Constellation: $6,500

Positions

Abortion.  Delaney considers himself pro-choice.  He supports pro-choice legislation and believes that the Republican war on women is infringing on women's constitutional rights to choose.  He supports public funding for abortion services and actually supports churches giving out birth control

Budget/Economy.  Delaney believes that we need to have targeted spending cuts in our defense spending as long as they do not affect our national security.

Delaney believes that the Bush tax cuts should expire for the wealthy and that we should limit the deductions and benefits for the wealthiest Americans.  Delaney is one of the most wealthy members of Congress.  His net worth is in between $45 million and nearly $250 million.  He believes that we should extend payroll tax cuts for working families.

He supported the federal stimulus spending and believes that the government can help out with the building of the economy.

Civil Rights.

Delaney supports same sex marriage.  After the Proposition 8 ruling by the Supreme Court, he stated that he agreed that laws against same sex marriage are a violation of our equal protection laws.  He stated that he would be an ally for the LGBT community.  He is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1755, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 which would prohibit employer discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.

He voted in favor reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and has worked to help enforce agianst wage discrimination based on gender.  He was also endorsed as preferred by the Feminist Majority.

Education

Delaney may be a supporter of charter schools as he believes that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship would provide more choices for parents.  Usually, when people use the words like choice with regards to education, they mean charter schools.  But the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship provides scholarships to low-income children to attend a private school.  He actually opposes school vouchers.

Energy/Environment

He was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters in the 2012 general election.  He has stated his support for a revenue-neutral national carbon tax.  He is also in favor of the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Gun Control

Delaney supports increased background checks, tough enforcement procedures, and common-sense limitations to help reduce gun violence.  He does not support infringing on 2nd Amendment rights.

Health Care

Delaney is an avid supporter of Obamacare.  He has stated that it ensures that all Americans will have adequate access to health care.  He has stated multiple times that he opposes Obamacare and would fight any attempt to repeal Obamacare.

Immigration

He is a supporter of the DREAM Act and would like to see those who have had education in the United States to be able to have a conditional path to citizenship.  He is in favor of some paths to citizenship including that is in the DREAM Act.



Better know a politician: Tulsi Gabbard

Name: Tulsi Gabbard

Position: Member of Congress

District: Hawai'i 2nd Congressional District (HI-2)

Political Party: Democratic

Tenure: 2013-present

Previous position: Hawai'i House of Representatives (2002-2004)
Military service (2004-present)
Honolulu City Council (2011-2012)

Future position: Gabbard applied to be considered for the position of the appointment to the Senate seat that was vacated by the death of Senator Daniel Inouye. Despite her young age, she should be considered a favorite for running for a higher office in the near future. She will likely run for a Senate seat at some point or maybe governor. She is also, by far, the most attractive member of Congress. I have seen her in person and she is even more attractive in person than she looks in pictures. She is my Congressional crush.

Previous election: Tulsi Gabbard: 81% Kawika Crowley: 19%

Next election: House, November of 2014

Leadership: House Committee on Foreign Affairs
House Committee on Homeland Security

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, Source: OpenSecrets

Raised: $234,592
Spent: $111,481
Cash on hand: $410,495
Debts: $19,000

Top contributors, source: OpenSecrets:

  1. Mosaic: $5,200
  2. Air Line Pilots Association: $5,000
  3. Carpenters & Joiners Union: $5,000
  4. Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union: $5,000
  5. Union Food & Commercial Workers Union: $5,000

Recent election:
2012, House: Tulsi Gabbard: 81% Kawika Crowley: 19%

Positions

Abortion. Gabbard considers herself pro-choice. She was endorsed by EMILY's List. She used to be pro-life but later decided to be pro-choice.

Budget. She thinks we should end the war in Afghanistan and spend the money the money that we are using in Afghanistan, specifically to spend on infrastructure and rebuilding our economy in America. She believes that huge corporations and ultra-wealthy should pay their fair share and stop the free rides that they are currently enjoying. She does not think that we are on a sustainable path but does not think we should cut the necessary spending we need for Medicare and Social Security.

Civil Rights. While Gabbard once supported a state amendment to ban same-sex marriage, she is now against the Defense of Marriage Act and supports same-sex marriage. She does believe that the government should stay out of the business of regulating marriage. Gabbard is a co-sponsor of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act which would prohibit discrimination by employers.

She voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. She also has been an advocate to enforce against wage discrimination based on gender. She was endorsed by the Feminist Majority indicating a pro-woman's rights stance.

Energy/Environment. She supports alternative energy sources by saying that she looks forward to the day that she no longer has to refer to alternative energy sources as alternative. She supports the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions. She also supports tax incentives for wind, solar, biomass, and wave energy.

Foreign Policy. Despite, or perhaps because of, her military service, she supports the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. She wants to invest the money spent on Afghanistan into our economy. She has openly opposed the combat operations in Afghanistan and would like the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Health care. She supports universal health care and the Affordable Care Act that was initially proposed by Barack Obama. She understands that the health care policy laid out in Obamacare is perfect and would like to see more done to control the cost of health care. She opposes the repeal of Obamacare.


Like most members of Congress who have not been in Congress very long, her positions have not yet been carefully defined.    

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Better know a politician: Don Young

Name: Don Young

Position: Member of Congress

District: Alaska's At-Large District

Political Advisor: Republican

Previous position: Alaska House of Representatives (1967-1971)
Alaska Senate (1971-1973)

Tenure: 1973-present

Future position: Due to Young's age and consistent re-election, he is quite unlikely to run for Senate or for any other position. Young is 80 years old. It's not even for certain that Young will run for re-election in 2014.

Previous election: Don Young: 64% Sharon Cissna (D): 29%

Next election: House, November 2014

Polling numbers:
Public Policy Polling 07/25-07/28

47% approve, 43% disapprove

Don Young 56% Matt Moore 28%

Leadership: Committee on Natural Resources
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, source: OpenSecrets

Raised: $125,018
Spent: $116,352
Cash on hand: $516,966

Top Contributors, source: OpenSecrets:

  1. Edison Chouest Offshore: $20,000
  2. Carpenters & Joiners Union: $5,000
  3. Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union: $5,000
  4. Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians: $5,000

Recent elections:
2012: Don Young: 64% Sharon Cissna (D): 29%
2010: Don Young: 69% Harry Crawford: 31%
2008: Don Young: 50% Ethan Berkowitz: 45%
2006: Don Young: 57% Diane Benson: 40%
2004: Don Young: 71% Thomas Higgins: 22%
2002: Don Young: 75% Clifford Greene: 17%

Scandal?: Young was investigated in 2007 for taking bribes from VECO Corporation.  This happened after VECO executives pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators.  In August of 2010, the FBI closed its investigation and the findings were forwarded to the Ethics Committee.  They reported no findings.

The House Ethics Committee announced, in 2013, that they created a special committee to investigate allegations that Young had improperly received gifts.  The investigation is ongoing.

On March 28, 2013 Young used the racial slur "wetback" when referring to Latinos.  He later apologized saying that it was insensitive. 



Positions

Abortion. Rep. Young is adamantly pro-life. He voted to ban federal health coverage that would cover abortion. He has voted against stem cell research. He has also been critical of service providers, such as, Planned Parenthood, and has asked to stop federally funding Planned Parenthood. He would like no federal funding to go to family assistance that includes abortion. He received an 80% rating from the NRLC, indicating a pro-life stance.

Animal Rights/Welfare. He received a 13% rating from the Humane Society, which indicates an anti-animal welfare voting record.

Budget/Economy. Young does not think that we should cut defense spending in order to balance the budget. He has stated that a well-funded and well-equipped military is the best deterrent against those who are opposed to freedom. In the 112th Congress, he voted to support H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2012 which would authorize a pay raise for soldiers and service members.

He signed on to a questionnaire that stated he would support making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent. He is an official signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, he did support Americans for Tax Reform 90% of the time. He has staed that he would oppose any and all tax increases on any tax bracket.

While Young did support the bailout of the car companies, he did not support the $825 billion for the economic recovery. He did support a $60 billion stimulus package and a $192 billion anti-recession stimulus spending.

He has also been supportive of the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. He has been a vocal supporter of the balanced budget amendment and will likely continue to support the amendnment whenever it comes up.

Civil rights. Young received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which indicates an anti-gay rights record. In order to receive this rating, it seems deserved, he voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity. He has not been a supporter of H.R. 1755, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. He has voted for a Constitutional Amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman and has voted for a Constitutional Amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Despite this, he has not, as of yet, been a co-sponsor of H.J. Res. 51. In 1999, he voted to ban adoptions of gay couples in Washington, D.C. He has also voted against enforcing anti-gay hate crimes.

Young voted no on ending preferential treatment by race in college admissions. He has received a 31% rating by the NAACP which indicates an anti-affirmative action stance.

He was given an 8% rating by the American Civil Liberties Union, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record.

He has voted against making the PATRIOT Act permanent. He also voted against allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. He has voted against PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, which would have extended certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

He has voted to protect the Pledge of Allegiance and has voted to support the Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit flag burning.

Corporations. He has voted multiple times against letting shareholders vote for the compensation of executives. He received a 93% rating from the United States Chamber of Commerce indicating a pro-business voting record.

Drugs. He did vote against subjecting federal employees to random drug tests. He has since been rated -25 by NORML indicating a hard-on-drugs stance.

Education. He has shown support for federal funding for universal pre-K programs which is of particular interest, since Barack Obama announced that in his State of the Union address. He has stated that he would increase federal funding for education. He also introduced H.R. 4837, the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act, which would try to address the unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind.

He does support a Constitutional amendment that would protect school prayer. He did vote against giving $84 million in grants for black and hispanic colleges. He has voted to allow for school vouchers and has voted to require states to test students and teachers.

Energy/Environment. Young has not been an ally of the environment or for clean energy. He has boted for opening up the continental shelf for oil drilling. He was in favor of the Bush-Cheney energy policy. Despite voting against tax incentives for renewable energy, tax credits for renewable electricity, and tax incentives for energy production and conservation he does support extending through 2016 the renewable energy tax credit. He has also voted against investing in homegrown biofuel. He has also voted to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

He has consistently voted against allowing the EPA regulating greenhouse gases. He also voted to block the implementation of the Kyoto protocol. Despite being a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, he received a 0% rating of the League of Conservation Voters.

Foreign Policy. He has a strong commitment to an unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. He has tried to withhold funding for the United Nations unless he receives specific plans. He voted against allowing travel to Cuba until political prisoners are released. He has received a -1 rating from the American Arab Institute which indicates that he has a mixed Arab-Palestine record.

He believes in strong sanctions on Iran to end their nuclear program. He wants to continue a boycott and sanctions against Iran until the nuclear program has ended.

He voted for the deployment of troops to Iraq and voted to include Iraq on the war on terror, to invade Iraq with no exit date. He voted against investigating George W. Bush for lying about Iraq.

Free Trade

Young has supported most free trade agreements, but he does not support the free trade agreement with Chile and Singapore. He has voted for withdrawing from the World Trade Organization.

Gun control

The NRA gave Young an A+ grade indicating a pro-gun rights record. He did vote for the concealed-carry reciprocity act. He would like to loosen restrictions on interstate gun purchases. He has been a supporter of allowing firearms in national parks. He also believes that we should recognize the individual rights to self-defense at home.

Health care

Young did vote for extending the Children's Health Insurance Program so that more children could be covered. He voted yes on the Paul Ryan budget which would affect how Medicare and Social Security would be paid for. Young has not been supportive of the Affordable Care Act. He does not believe that the government should administer a national health insurance plan. He has voted multiple times to repeal Obamacare.

Immigration

Young holds contradictory views on immigration. He does not support amnesty for undocumentd immigrants. He believes that the pathway to citizenship for legal immigrants should be shorter and more efficient but he does not believe in providing incentives for undocumented immigrants. He believes we need to enforce our immigration laws but he voted no on building a fence along the Mexican border.

Labor

He voted on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25. He also voted to restrict employer interference in union organizing. Despite this, he received a 21% rating from the AFL-CIO which indicates that he has an anti-union voting record.

Welfare

He has voted to maintain the work requirement for welfare recipients.


Better know a politician: Tom Cotton

Name: Tom Cotton

Position: Member of Congress

District: Arkansas's 4th Congressional District (AR-4)

Political Party: Republican

Previous position: Consultant at McKinsey and Company

Future position: Cotton has announced his intention to run for the United States Senate seat in Arkansas to face Democratic Senator Mark Pryor. Pryor is a Democratic Senator from a largely Conservative state. Because of this, most people assume that Pryor is quite vulnerable. Pryor's Senate seat is of special interest to the Republican party because they see this as a relatively easy opportunity to pick up a crucial Senate seat.

Previous election: Tom Cotton 59% Gene Jeffress 37%

Next election: Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas. If he wins, it'll trigger an election against Pryor in November of 2014.

Leadership: House Committee on Financial Services
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Fundraising (2014 cycle): Source: OpenSecrets:
Raised: $1,137,856
Spent: $210,835
Cash on hand: $1,045,372

Top contributors:
  1. Club for Growth $74,800
  2. Arkwest Communications $20,800
  3. Dillard's $13,000
  4. Stephens Group $12,150
  5. Bank of the Ozarks $10,400

Recent elections:
2012 House: Tom Cotton: 59% Gene Jeffress: 37%



Positions

Abortion. Cotton is a pro-life Republican. He has stated that he wants to re-establish a culture of life. He has announced his opposition to stem-cell research and human cloning. He also has announced that he would not support any family planning assistance that includes abortion services.

Budget/Economy. He does not support defense spending cuts. He is, in fact, very critical of the cuts that have already been made to the military citing that they were made to accommodate the President's radical liberal agenda.

He has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in his zeal to show how Conservative he can be. He has been a vocal critic of the current taxation system. He has stated that he would support lowering taxes and will not support any tax increase on any tax bracket.

Cotton has not been a supporter of the stimulus packages. His Facebook page has indicated his displeasure for the stimulus packages, stopping just short of calling it a waste of money.He has demanded a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. He has also stated that he would like to limit federal spending growth to per-capita inflation rate.

Civil Rights. He has been a supporter of the “traditional” definition of marriage. He has vocalized his support for the Defense of Marriage Act. He also has stated that to have a strong family, you must have a strong marriage, which depends on the traditional understanding of marriage. Despite this, he is not a current sponsor of H.J. Res. 51 which is the latest attempt to propose an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage. He is not a co-sponsor of H.R. 1755, the Employee Non-discriminaton Act of 2013

He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Education. He believes in the ideals of charter schools which would hold that school choice is a key component of education reform. He also believes in competition between schools. Somewhat not surprising, is that he does not believe in federal grants for education reforms.

Just a few weeks ago, he voted against the student loan legislation in Congress. Cotton, himself, was a recipient of Stafford loans while attending Harvard Law School. Cotton stated that his vote was based on his opposition to the nationalization of the student-loan business, which he claimed was a part of Obamacare.

Energy/Environment. He has supported offshore energy production and believes we need more oil and gas exploration and production. He does not believe that cap and trade would have any effect on global temperatures. He also believes that we should explore proven energy reserves to keep energy prices low. He does not believe in a cap and trade system because he thinks it would make America less effective in the world's economy. Based on that, it sounds like he does not support the EPA regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Foreign policy. Cotton, who is a former member of the military, believes that the Iraq and Afghanistan War were justified and necessary. He also supports combat operations in Afghanistan.

Gun control. He has been supportive of the 2nd Amendment. Part of the reason that Pryor is in trouble in Arkansas is because of a perceived weakness on gun control. He also received an endorsement from the Gun Owners of America. He opposes any restrictions on gun purchases. Those restrictions would include closing the gun show loophole.

Health care. Cotton does not support the Affordable Care Act, which may apparently include student loan legislation. He disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision in the case for the Affordable Care Act and believes that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. He has voted to defund, repeal, and replace federal care with free market healthcare.

Immigration. He does not support any earned path to citizenship. Because of this, he does not support the Gang of Eight's immigration reform bill. He, also, supports exiting the United States in order for immigrants to gain citizenship.

Welfare. He has voted for maintaining the work requirement for welfare recipients.

Better know a politician: Raul Grijalva

Name: Raul Grijalva

Current position: Congressman

District: Arizona's 3rd Congressional District (AZ-3)

Political Party: Democratic (D)

Previous position: Member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors (1989-2002)

Tenure: 2003-present

Future position: Due to his age and ethnicity in the usual conservatism of Arizona, as a whole, it is unlikely for Grijalva to run for Senate or for the Governor's mansion. Grijalva could potentially be nominated as a Secretary of Education in a liberal presidency but if there is a Republican president, it is unlikely Grijalva could muster the nomination.

Previous election: Raul Grijalva (D): 58% Gabriela Saucedo Mercer 37%

Next election: Grijalva will run for the House of Representatives in November of 2014.

Leadership: House Committee on Education and the Workforce

House Committee on Natural Resources

Fundraising, 2014 cycle, source: OpenSecrets:
Raised: $140,580
Spent: $90,534
Cash on hand: $57,912
Debts: $8,399

Top contributors, source: OpenSecrets:

  1. American Federation of Teachers: $10,000
  2. United Food and Commercial Workers Union: $10,000
  3. Carpenters Union: $5,000
  4. Communications Workers of America: $5,000
  5. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: $5,000

Positions

Abortion. Grijalva has been given a 100% rating from the NARAL, indicating his pro-choice record. He has also received a 0% rating by the NRLC, which indicates that he is almost an opponent of the pro-life way of life. He voted against the partial-birth abortion act. He has also voted to do more research with stem cells. He has also worked on legislation that let the military perform abortions in the case of rape or incest. He has also been an advocate for ensuring access and funding for contraception. During the Affordable Care Act debate, he was critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which would have placed limits on taxpayer-funded abortions in the final law. He has also worked on legislation that requires pharmacies to refill and stock contraception. Finally, he worked on providing easier access to rape kits and to use more rape kit analysis.

Animal Rights/Welfare. Grijalva has been given a 100% rating from the Humane Society, indicating his pro-animal welfare stances. He has earned that by trying to regulate that all dog breeders' kennels are brought down to a maximum of 50 dogs. He wants to prohibit the invasive research on great apes. He is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1998, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act which would prohibit the breeding and possession of big cats. He also signed onto the letter I wrote to the Thai Prime Minister which urges the Prime Minister of Thailand to change animal welfare laws to help end the illicit dog trade across Thailand's borders.

Budget and the economy. Grijalva is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). As such, he has taken a role in producing the CPC's alternative budgets which are budget bills that are not officially offered by the majority or minority parties. In 2011, they introduced the People's Budget, which would reach a balanced budget within 10 years, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This budget was approved by Paul Krugman. In 2012, he helped to introduce the Budget for All, which is similar to the People's Budget but also includes a small personal wealth tax above $10 million that would be phased in a period of five years. He was also a vocal critic of the Paul Ryan budget.

Grijalva voted for all of the bailouts, indicating that he does believe that government spending can effectively stimulate the economy. He favors cutting defense spending in order to balance the budget, although he does not believe that balancing the budget should be a legislative priority. He does not believe that cutting spending on social programs such as Medicare will just hurt more.

He believes that the richest two percent should start paying its fair share of taxes and end the subsidies/tax cuts that the wealthiest in the country have enjoyed. While some will characterize his stance as socialist or even socialist-communist. He has received a 100% rating from the Citizens for Tax Justice showing that he is for progressive taxation.

He does support targeted tax cuts for small businesses if/when they make sense and increase employment.

Civil Rights. Grijalva has received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, indicating that he has a pro-gay-rights stance. The reason he has received this rating. He has voted on ending discrimination based on sexual orientation; he has also co-sponsored H.R. 1755, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013. He has co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity or sexual orientation in public schools. He has, additionally, voted against the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. He also helped to introduce a House Resolution that would commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall riots. He also supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and supported the reinstatement of gays who were kicked out of the military. He worked on enforcing against anti-gay hate crimes.

He was endorsed as preferred by the Feminist Majority indicating his pro-women rights stance. He voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. He has introduced a Constitutional Amendment for women's equal rights. He voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and has worked on legislation to enforce against wage discrimination based on gender. He also has worked to reinforce and strengthen equal pay and anti-discrimination requirements.

He helped to issue a commemorative stamp celebrating Rosa Parks. He received a 100% rating from the NAACP indicating that he has a pro-affirmative action stance. He has also worked on a resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

He voted against the Constitutional amendment which would have prohibited flag burning. He voted “no” on “saving” the Pledge of Allegiance.

For those concerned about civil liberties, he did vote against making the PATRIOT Act permanent. He voted against extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps. He did vote for requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in the United States and voted against allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant.

Corporations
Grijalva does not support the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United. He was critical of Governor Mitt Romney's statement that corporations are people. He doesn't think corporations are people nor does he believe that money equals speech.

Drugs
NORML gave Grijalva a +10 rating, indicating that he has a pro-drug reform stance. He has worked to end harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine. He would like to expunge records for first time drug offenders after probation. He would like to introduce a clean needle program by distributing sterile syringes. He would also like to legalize industrial hemp.

Education
Grijalva has worked to increase the federal funding for public schools and has received a 92% rating from the National Educators Association which indicates his support for public education and educators. He believes that basic equity and fair resource allocation should be left to the federal government, such as Title 9 for students with disabilities, Title 1 support for children from low income families, and support for English as a Second Language programs.

Energy/Environment
Grijalva has been an environmental ally. He has worked to stop drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, permanently. He has worked to prevent offshore drilling by voting against any legislation that requires drilling on the Continental Shelf. He has voted to keeping the offshore drilling moratorium and voted against the Bush Cheney energy policy. He has voted to remove the oil and gas subsidies.

Grijalva has supported the cap and trade proposal that was brought up in the House. He has also voted for tax credits for green energy and to fund investment in homegrown biofuels. He believes that climate change is man-made. He believes that EPA should regulate greenhouse gases. He would like to see that environmental regulations were strengthened and enforced. He has tried to set a goal of 25% of our energy being renewable energy by 2025. He also believes that states should be able to define their own tougher than federal gas emission standards.

Foreign Policy. He has voted against restricting the United States' contribution to the United Nations. He has advocated for creating a new Department of the Government which would be called the Department of Peace and Nonviolence. He has tried to establish the acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide in the early 1900s as official policy. He wants to establish a Afghanistan-Pakistan study group to determine an exit strategy. He would like to ease the Israeli border on Gaza. He would like to allow travel between the United States and Cuba.

He was critical of the Iraqi War, where he called for an impeachment of both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. He also worked to defund the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. He has been supportive of troop removal from Afghanistan. He also voted no to banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval.

Free Trade. Grijalva has voted against free trade agreements that have been brought up since he was elected to Congress. He has also voted to help assist workers who lose jobs due to globalization. He opposes the most favored nation status for China based on a condition of human rights.

Gun Control. He was one of the 67 co-sponsors of H.R. 1022, the 2007 Assault Weapons Ban and laregly because of that he has an F rating from the NRA. He would like to close the gun show loophole and to restrict show sales. He would like to ban the common practice of firearms dealers who lose their license to hold a large sale where they sell all of their firearms. He would also like to ban large capacity ammunition.

Health care. Grijalva is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He also voted to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, multiple times. He worked on trying to make health care a right, not a privilege.

Immigration. He voted no on building a fence along the Mexican border. He was one of the most vocal critics of SB 1070, the Arizona immigration law that allowed police officers to check immigration papers for suspicious individuals. Grijalva has also been critical of the armed volunteers who are armed along the Mexican border. He accused them of being racist and they did shout racial epithets in their defense. Grijalva called for political, business, legal, and activist groups not to hold their conferences in Arizona afer the signing of SB 1070. Republican groups responded with bumper stickers calling for a boycott of Grijalva. He was also critical of 1,200 National Guard troops who were deployed along the Mexican border, of whom, Grijalva called was merely political symbolism.

He has been a supporter of the DREAM Act and has proposed his own border security bill. He proposed the Border Security and Responsibility Act of 2009, which prioritizes remote cameras and other border monitoring techniques with a small environmental impact.

Labor. Grijalva is a supporter of labor unions. I've been to a committee hearing where Grijalva was openly critical of witnesses who were anti-union. He has received a 100% rating from the AFL-CIO, which shows his pro-union record. He voted to allow a Air Traffic Controllers Union. He has also advocated to form unions by card-check instead of secret ballot.

Technology. He voted against terminating funding for National Public Radio. He has worked to permanently ban on state and local taxation of internet access.


Welfare. He voted against the work requirement for welfare recipient. He does support school breakfast for low-income children and would like to extend unemployment compensation during the recession. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An update on the 2013 races

In the latest poll released by Quinnipiac University, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Ken Cuccinelli by 6 points.  McAuliffe is up 48-42.  The election, which will take place on November 5, 2013, is a contest between two fairly unpopular candidates.  McAuliffe's favorability is 34/33 while Cuccinelli is 35/41.

The newest poll in the New Jersey gubernatorial race has Chris Christie leading challenger Barbara Buono 56-36, according to Monmouth University.  These results are actually the closest they have ever been.  Buono has been trailing anywhere between 30-40 points prior to these results.  Maybe Christie's popularity is fading.  Unfortunately, there are still some on the progressive side who believe Christie is one of their allies.

In the battle of two mayors of New Jersey, Newark mayor Cory Booker leads Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan 54-38.  Booker, who coasted through the Democratic primary, looks to easily become a United States Senator.  Booker has his supporters on the right and left for his unwavering commitment to find the middle ground.  He has also been criticized for his constant need for attention and media "whoring".  But I don't think Booker will fail in his chance to win this election.

Better know a politician: Steve Pearce

Name: Steve Pearce

Position: Congressman

District: New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District (NM-2)

Political Party: Republican (R)

Tenure: 2011-present (previously served 2003-2008)

Previous position(s): New Mexico House of Representatives (1996-2000), U.S. House of Representatives (2003-2008)

Future position: Pearce ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and in 2008.  There is an outside possibility that he would run again in 2014.  Although his age may prevent him from making a serious run.

Next election: 2014, U.S. House of Representatives

Leadership: House Committee on Financial Services

Fundraising (2014 cycle) Source: OpenSecrets:

Raised: $298,516
Spent: $139,412
Cash on hand: $758,031

Top contributors:
1. Strata Production $6,200
2. Glenn's Water Well $5,200
3. Winn Investments $5,200

Recent elections:
2012: Steve Pearce (R) 59% Evelyn Madrid Erhard 41%
2010: Steve Pearce (R) 55% Harry Teague 45%
2008 Senate: Tom Udall (D): 61% Steve Pearce (R): 39%
2006: Steve Pearce (R): 59% Al Kissling (D): 40%
2004: Steve Pearce (R): 60% Gary King (D): 40%
2002: Steve Pearce (R): 56% John Arthur Smith (D): 44%

Positions

Abortion.  Pearce is 100% pro-life.  He has voted on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion.  He has voted against stem cell research, multiple times.  He received a 100% rating from the NRLC and a 0% from the NARAL which indicates his pro-life stance.  He has worked to try to pass laws that establish that human life and rights begin at fertilization or cloning.  He has also tried to grant the pre-born under the 14th Amendment.

Animal Rights/Welfare.  Pearce received a 0% rating from the Humane Society which indicates that he has a anti-animal welfare record.

Budget.  He voted against all of the bailouts as he believes that government spending cannot stimulate the economy.  He has been a vocal critic of the stimulus programs calling the recovery program anemic and weak.  He believes the best way to create jobs would be to cut spending as much as they possibly can.  He has demanded a balanced budget amendment.  He has also been supportive of the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  He voted for the Paul Ryan Budget/

He does not support cutting defense spending in his quest to balance the budget.  He believes the rise of radical Islam and combating it is the generation's greatest struggle, as such, we need to equip our troops as best we can.  He stated that he made a promise to protect our troops, no matter what.

He does not support a tax increase on any tax bracket to help balance the budget.  He believes, currently, that we are taxing too much and he has voted against any tax increases.  He has stated that he would consistently vote against any tax increase as long as he is in Congress.

Civil Rights.  He has stated that he would stand up for traditional marriage.  He has supported an amendment to prevent same-sex marriage and has voted for establishing a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage between one man and one woman.  He has also signed on as a co-sponsor to H.J. Res. 51, the newest attempt to create a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage.  He has also voted against prohibiting employee discrimination of sexual orientation and identity.  He has been given a 0% rating by the Human Rights Campaign, indicating that he is anti-gay-rights.

He voted for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  He has been given a 28% rating from the NAACP indicating that he has a anti-affirmative action stance.

He has voted to protect the Pledge of Allegiance and voted against making the courts decide whether or not the word "God" should be in the Pledge of Allegiance.  He also voted to have a Constitutional Amendment that would ban flag burning.

Corporations

Pearce has worked hard to reduce regulations on businesses in his attempt to appease corporations.  He has also voted against allowing shareholders to vote for executive compensation.

Drugs

Pearce has been rated at -20 by NORML which indicates that he is a hard-on-drugs politician.

Education

Pearce believes that the standards for schools should be raised.  He believes that raising the standards and increasing choices for parents and children will help reform the education movement.  Because of these statements, it looks as if he is a supporter of charter schools and their ideals.

Energy/Environment

Pearce is a fierce advocate for nuclear power.  He believes that we need to have more nuclear production because it is cheap, clean, and ready now.  He has also worked to set aside 6.4 million acres i New Mexico for solar panels.

He wants to open up the continental shelf for oil drilling and believes that there should be more drilling offshore.  He has voted to end the oil drilling moratorium.  He has voted to schedule the construction of more oil refineries.  He also voted ys on the Bush-Cheney national energy policy.

He has not supported renewable energy.  He has voted against providing tax incentives for renewable electricity and has not supported investing in biofuels.  He has also voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas.  Because of his policies and stances he has been named as one of the Dirty Dozen, targeting him for his anti-environmental record.

Foreign Policy

He has voted to reduce funding for the United Nations from the United States.  Doing so, would fundamentally change the structure of the United Nations.

He voted in favor of including Iraq in the War on Terror, meaning that we could deploy troops without an exit date.  He has voted against removing troops from Afghanistan.  He voted against investigating George W. Bush for the deployment of troops into Iraq.  He has also voted to bar armed forces in Libya without Congress.

Free Trade

He voted against assisting workers who lost their jobs due to globalization.  While he does support some of the free trade agreements, such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Singapore free trade agreement, and Chile free trade agreement.  He did not support the free trade agreement with Australia.

Gun Control

Pearce has an A rating from the NRA, indicating his pro-2nd Amendment stance.  He opposes restrictions to bearing firearms.  He voted to ban gun registration and trigger locks in Washington, DC.  He praised the Supreme Court after their decision in D.C. v. Heller.

Health care

Pearce voted against the Affordable Care Act.  He has voted multiple times to repealing Obamacare and will continue to vote in favor of repealing a law that he thinks takes away people's freedoms.  He has also voted against expanding Children's Health Insurance Program to cover millions more children.  He has actually stated that he would oppose any government-run healthcare system.

Immigration

Pearce is against the Senate led, Gang of Eight Immigration Reform bill.  He opposes any bill that would grant amnesty to any undocumented immigrants.  He believes that amnesty would just create more illegal immigrants.  He does believe that guest workers should be allowed a path to citizenship.  He believes that we should enforce our current immigration laws and instruct undocumented immigrants who are here to go back to their country of origin.

Labor

Pearce has received a 0% rating from the AFL-CIO indicating his anti-union stance.  He voted against raising the minimum wage in the past and voted not to restrict employer interference in union organizing.

Technology

He has voted to stop federal funding of National Public Radio.  He has also voted to ban internet gambling by credit card.

Welfare

He has voted to maintain the work requirements for welfare recipients.  He also voted to extend unemployment benefits from 39 benefits to 59 benefits.




Better know a politician: Charles Boustany

Name: Charles Boustany

Position: Member of Congress

District: Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District (LA-3)

Political Party: Republican (R)

Tenure: 2003-present

Previous positions: Retired cardiovascular surgeon

Future position: Boustany has not been thrown out there as a potential Senate candidate or for the position of Governor.  Boustany's district that he currently represents is a very Republican district.  It is a safe district for Boustany.  He could win the district for a long period of time, as it is a safe district for him.  The real challenge for Boustany would be from the inside either in an actual primary or the blanket primary for Congress.

Next election: November 2014, House of Representatives.

Leadership: House Committee on Ways and Means (one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives)

Fundraising (2014 cycle): Raised: $488,026
Spent: $347,129
Cash on hand: $331,264
Source: OpenSecrets

Top contributors: 1. Schilling Distributing: $10,400
2. American Bankers Association: $5,000
3. American Senior Housing Association: $5,000
Source: OpenSecrets

Recent elections:
2004: Charles Boustany (R): 55% Willie Mount (D): 45%
2006: Charles Boustany (R): 71%  Mike Stagg (D): 29%
2008: Charles Boustany (R): 62% Don Cravins (D): 34%
2010: Charles Boustany ran unopposed
2012: Charles Boustany (R): 61% Jeff Landry (R): 39%

Notable endorsements:
Dick Cheney (2004), Michael G. Strain (Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry) (2012)

Positions

Abortion. Boustany sees himself as pro-life.  He has received a 100% rating from the NRLC and a 0% from the NRLA.  Both of these indicate that he has a pro-life stance.  He voted for the abortion pain bill and has voted to prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  He has also voted to prohibit federally funding abortions.

Animal Rights/Welfare.  The Humane Society gave Boustany a 0% rating for his voting record.  This indicates a anti-animal welfare voting record.

Budget/Economy.  Boustany signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that has been circulated by Grover Norquist.  He has opposed the raising of taxes on any tax bracket. His votes have been inconsistent on whether or not he would support defense spending cuts in order to balance the budget.  He voted against all of the bailouts.  He has also supported the Balanced Budget Amendment.  He also voted to ban the roadway signs that stated that the construction was being paid for by funds authorized by the bailout funds.  He has consistently voted against raising/increasing the debt limit.  Furthermore, he has voted yes on the Paul Ryan Budget, the cornerstone of the Republican budget plan.

Civil Rights.  He has voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation.  He is not a supporter of the Employee Non-discrimination Act of 2013 that was proposed by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado.  He has voted to make a Constitutional amendment to the United States defining marriage as one man and one woman.  He is a co-sponsor of the newest resolution proposed that would define marriage as one man-one woman.  He has also voted against enforcing anti-gay hate crimes.  Because of these stances, he has received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. This indicates an anti-gay rights stance.

He did vote to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act.  During the 111th Congress, he voted against H.R. 11, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  The Act clarified that each time someone was paid a wrong compensation because of discrimination, is a violation of the law.

Rep. Boustany is not well-regarded by the NAACP, he received a 33% rating indicating that he has an anti-affirmative action stance.

He voted to make it a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning.

He also voted to make the PATRIOT Act permanent and has voted to extend the PATRIOT Act.  He voted to allow electronic surveillance without a wiretap and for removing the need for FISA warrants for wiretapping.

Corporations

He voted against allowing shareholders a vote to determine executive compensation.  He has actually voted against this type of legislation twice, in 2007 and 2009.  He is rated by 14%, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, indicating that he has a pro-management voting record.

Drugs

NORML has given a -10 score, which indicates that he has a hard-on-drugs stance and voting record.

Education

Boustany has been supportive of charter schools and their goals.  He believes that part of education reform is to give more choices to parents and children to make sure they choose the right to school.

Energy/Environment

Boustany has been an advocate for offshore drilling and ending the moratorium on offshore drilling.  He has voted for opening the Outer Continental Shelf for offshore drilling.  He has voted against removing oil and gas subsidies.  He has also boted for constructing new oil refineries and authorizing new oil refineries.  He has also voted for the Offshore Leasing Act.

He has consistently voted against clean energy production.  He has voted against investing biofuels.  He has also voted against tax incentives for clean energy.  He has also voted against tax incentives for energy production and conservation.

He has been a vocal critic of the EPA trying to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  He voted against the House's bill H.R. 2454, which proposed a cap and trade system.

Foreign Policy

He has a strong commitment to making an unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel.  He has voted to restructure the United Nations by reducing funding to the United Nations from the United States.  He has a -1 rating from the American Arab Institute which indicates he has a mixed Palestine/Arab record.

He has worked to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons instead of containing the nuclear weapons.  He has voted to have no contact with Iran until the nuclear threat is gone.

He voted for declaring Iraq as part of the War on Terror with no exit date.  He voted against the timetable for troops being brought out of Afghanistan.  He did vote against investigating George W. Bush.  He did vote to bar armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval.

Free Trade

He voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement.  He also voted no on assisting workers who lost jobs due to globalization.

Gun Control

He voted to allow concealed-carry permits issued in other states to other states where legal.  He voted to ban gun registration and trigger lock laws in Washington, D.C.  He would like to loosen restrictions on interstate gun purchases.

Health Care

He voted against the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.  He has also voted consistently to repeal Obamacare.  He has voted against expanding Children's Health Insurance Program, multiple times.  While there is a Children's Health Insurance Program, there have been multiple votes to extend the coverage of the program to millions of children, he has not voted for expanding the program.

Immigration

He has voted for building the fence along the Mexican border.  He has also stated support for declaring English as the national language.  Because of these stances, he has received a 92% grade from the U.S. Border Control which indicates that he has a sealed border stance.  He also voted against the DREAM Act ad seems to indicate that he would not support the Senate's immigration bill.

Labor

He voted against restricting employer interference in union organizing.  He has also voted against raising the minimum wage to $7.25.  But he did vote to allow a air traffic controller's union.

Technology

He did vote against the federal funding for National Public Radio.  He has supported a permanent ban on state and local taxation of internet access.

Welfare

He has voted to maintaining the work requirement for welfare recipients.  He has claimed that he is committed to the preservation of Medicare and Social Security but did vote for the Paul Ryan budget.