Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to watch for in 2013 and 2014: Arizona

So, for my election center tab, I'm going to start a series of posts to look at all of the 50 states for their 2014 elections.  I may throw in Washington, DC, too. I can't decide.  I'll update them throughout the year, ultimately offering projections and predictions.  If I get the time, I'd like to have a better know a politician section for all of them, or at least the majority of them.  But I doubt I'll get the time.  But you can check back throughout the year as I update them and the state by state posts.

Governor
Declared candidates:
Fred DuVal, Former President of the Arizona Board of Regents: Democratic
Ron Cavanaugh, Marine Corps Veteran: Democratic
Ken Bennett, Arizona Secretary of State: Republican
Andrew Thomas, former Maricopa County Attorney: Republican
Al Melvin, State Senator Arizona District 11: Republican
Doug Ducey, Arizona Treasurer: Republican
Christine Jones, former executive: Republican
John Molina, former CEO of Phoenix Medical Indian Center: Republican

Potential candidates:
Scott Smith, Mayor of Mesa: Republican
Jan Brewer (incumbent), thinking about legal challenge to challenge the term limit law: Republican

Attorney General
Declared candidates:
Felecia Rotellini, 2010 candidate for Attorney General and Former State Banking Superintendent: Democratic

Potential candidates:
Tom Home (incumbent): Republican
Mark Brnovich, former Director of Arizona Department of Gaming: Republican

Secretary of State
Declared candidates:
Will Cardon, Investment Fund Manager, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate: Republican
Michele Reagan, State Senator: Republican
Justin Pierce, State Representative: Republican

Treasurer
Potential candidates:
Jeff DeWit, Businessman and activist: Republican
Martin Sepulveda, Former Chandler City Councilman: Republican
Hugh Hallman, Former Mayor of Tempe: Republican

Ballot measures
SCR 1016: Passage of the ballot measure would create a mechanism by which the use of state personnel and financial resources are guaranteed to be used with purposes that are congruent with the Constitution

Arizona Election Law Referendum: Passage of the ballot measure would require all candidates running for office to collect the same amount of signatures to get their names on the ballot, make the picking up of another person's early ballot illegal, and set stricter qualifications for those wanting to circulate initiative, referendum, and recall petitions.

U.S. House of Representatives: 

1st Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Ann Kirkpatrick (incumbent): Democratic
Adam Kwasman, State Representative: Republican
Gary Keihne, Businessman: Republican
Andy Tobin, State Representative: Republican

2nd Congressional District:
Ron Barber (incumbent): Democratic
Martha McSally, 2012 candidate: Republican

3rd Congressional District:
Raul Grijalva (incumbent): Democratic
Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, 2012 Candidate: Republican

4th Congressional District:
Paul Gosar (incumbent): Republican

5th Congressional District:
Matt Salmon (incumbent): Republican

6th Congressional District:
David Schweikert (incumbent): Republican

7th Congressional District:
Ed Pastor (incumbent): Democratic

8th Congressional District:
Trent Franks (incumbent): Republican

9th Congressional District:
Kyrsten Sinema (incumbent): Democratic
Wendy Rogers, businesswoman, veteran, and 2012 Republican primary challenger: Republican
Andrew Walter, Former Quarterback: Republican


Monday, November 25, 2013

What to watch for in 2013 and 2014: Alaska

So, for my election center tab, I'm going to start a series of posts to look at all of the 50 states for their 2014 elections.  I may throw in Washington, DC, too. I can't decide.  I'll update them throughout the year, ultimately offering projections and predictions.  If I get the time, I'd like to have a better know a politician section for all of them, or at least the majority of them.  But I doubt I'll get the time.  But you can check back throughout the year as I update them and the state by state posts.

Governor:
Declared candidates:
Sean Parnell (incumbent): Republican
Gerald "Tap" Heikes, Minister: Republican

Bryon Mallot, Former Mayor of Juneau and Yakutat, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation: Democratic
Phil Stoddard, businessman: Democratic

Potential candidates:
Ethan Berkowitz, State Representative 1996-2006: Democratic

Primary: August 19, 2014

Lieutenant Governor:
Declared candidates:
Lesli McGuire, State Senator: Republican
Dan Sullivan, Mayor of Anchorage, former city assemblyman: Republican

Bob Williams, Teacher: Democratic
Hollis French, State Senator: Democratic

Ballot measure:
Alaska Oil Tax Cuts Veto Referendum: Passage of the ballot measure would repeal a bill that grants tax breaks to oil companies

U.S. Senate:
Declared candidates:
Mark Begich (Incumbent): Democratic
Mead Treadwell, Lieutenant Governor of Alaska: Republican
Daniel Sullivan, Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner: Republican
Joe Miller, Former U.S. Magistrate Judge: Republican

Primary: August 19, 2014

U.S. Congress:
Declared candidates:
Don Young (incumbent): Republican
Matt Moore, Businessman: Democratic

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Better know a politician: Martha Roby

Name: Martha Roby

Political party: Republican

State: Alabama

District: Alabama's 2nd Congressional District (AL-2)

Current position: Member of Congress

Tenure: 2011-present

Previous position: Member, Montgomery City Council 2003-2011

Future position: Roby is running for re-election in 2014 in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Because of her age and general conservativeness of Alabama, Roby should be considered as a potential candidate to run for Senate in the future, as well.

Previous election:
2012 Alabama 2nd Congressional District:
Martha Roby (R): 63.6%
Therese Ford (D): 36.3%

Future election: The next election for this district will be November 4, 2014.  As of now, Roby does not have an announced challenger.

Leadership: Member, House Committee on Armed Services
Member, House Committee on Agriculture
Member, House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Fundraising, 2014 cycle:
Raised: $502,600
Spent: $209,341
Cash on hand: $484,686

Top 5 contributors, 2014 cycle:
1. Smith's Inc: $11,000
2. Every Republican is Crucial PAC: $10,000
3. Lba Properties: $7,700
4. United Technologies: $7,500
5. Home Depot: $7,500

Issues/Positions

Abortions

  • Pro-life
  • Introduced a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, saying that the more money Planned Parenthood received, the more abortions they would perform
  • Believes life begins at fertilization
  • Voted in favor of H.R. 3 in the 112th Congress to prohibit any taxpayer funding used for abortions
  • Voted in favor of prohibiting federal health coverage from providing abortions
  • Voted in favor of prohibiting family assistance that covers abortions
  • Voted to ban abortions based on race or gender selection
Animal rights/welfare
  • Rated 0% by the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) indicating an anti-animal rights/welfare record
  • Voted against an amendment that would have ended limited funding for the Endangered Species Act
Budget/economy/taxes
  • Is in favor of a constitutional amendment that requires a balanced budget
  • Supports the taxpayer protection pledge
  • Believes Americans are overtaxed and that we should abolish the IRS
  • While on city council, she supported a sales tax holiday
  • Supported a 10 cent cigarette tax increase
  • Does not believe we should cut defense spending, in order to balance the budget
  • Supported the Paul Ryan budget
  • Supports cutting spending to pre-2008 levels, except defense spending
  • Does not support tax increase on any tax bracket to help balance the budget
  • Supports the repeal of the estate tax
  • Does not think that government spending can stimulate the economy
  • Supported making the Bush tax cuts permanent
  • Taxes on the high income tax brackets are taxes on the job creators
Civil Rights
  • Voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act
  • Thinks that DOMA should be the law of the land
  • Rated 0% by the Human Rights Campaign, indicating an anti-LGBT voting record
  • Voted against an amendment which would repeal indefinite military detention
  • Did not support the Amash Amendment to curtail metadata gathering
  • Rated 0% by the American Civil Liberties Union, indicating an anti-civil liberties voting record
  • Voted to extend the USA PATRIOT Act for roving wiretaps
Corporations
  • Rated 0% by UFCW indicating a pro-management voting record
  • Rated 97% by U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicating a pro-business voting record
  • Rated 100% by National Federation of Independent Businesses, indicating a pro-business voting record
  • Wants to repeal a number of regulations, believing that many businesses are being over regulated
Education
  • Believes that the Department of Education has overreach into colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning
  • Believes that voluntary school prayer should be allowed
  • Believes (maybe) that we should abolish the Department of Education
Energy/Environment
  • Does not think the federal government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions
  • Opposes cap and trade
  • Voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions
  • Signed a pledge to oppose any climate tax
  • Voted in favor of expanding offshore drilling
  • Voted in favor of H.R. 3, the Northern Route Act, which would approve the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Voted in favor of the No More Solyndras Act
  • Voted against the amendment that required oil and fuel transported by the Keystone Pipeline to stay in America.  
  • Made a floor speech saying that the oil from the tar sands of Alberta would be shipped to China
Foreign Policy
  • Has a -2 rating from AAI, indicating an anti-Arab, anti-Palestine voting record
  • Voted against removing troops from Afghanistan
  • Thinks there should be more sanctions on Iran
  • Did not support military action in Syria because wanted to know an end game in Syria
Health care
  • Has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act
  • Believes the individual mandate is unconstitutional
  • Believes the Affordable Care Act is government run program
Immigration
  • Will not support any immigration reform that calls for amnesty
  • Believes we should secure the border
Welfare
  • Wants to reinstitute the work for welfare requirements
  • Voted for the Farm Bill in the House that cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)

Better know a politician: Bradley Byrne

Name: Bradley Byrne

Political Party: Republican

Current position: N/A

State: Alabama

District: Alabama's 3rd Congressional District (AL-1)

Previous position: Member, Alabama State Senate, 2003-2007
Candidate, Governor of Alabama, 2010

Future position: Byrne is the Republican nominee for AL-1 in the special election for U.S. House of Representatives

Future election: The special election for AL-1 is to be held on December 17, 2013.  He will be facing Burton LeFlore (D)

Previous election: 2013, Special Election (AL-1), Republican primary
Bradley Byrne: 52.5%
Dean Young: 47.5%

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

  • Fiscal conservative
  • Believes in a balanced budget for the U.S. Federal Government
  • Believes in cutting spending; not raising taxes
  • Believes in a simpler tax code 
  • Believes in the elimination of the IRS (calls it corrupt)
  • Believes in lowering the wind insurance premiums
  • Wants to secure funding for a new I-10 bridge
  • Wants to secure funding for deepening and widening the Mobile ship channel
  • Wants to secure the borders
  • Wants an investigation into Benghazi
  • Wants an investigation on intrusions into our First Amendment Rights
  • Wants to increase penalties to hold murderers and other people who use guns for slaughters accountable


Better know a politician: Luther Strange

Name: Luther Strange

Political party: Republican

Current position: Attorney General

State: Alabama

Tenure: 2011-present

Previous position: Founder, Strange, LLC
Attorney, Sonat, Inc., 1979-2008
Candidate, Lieutenant Governor, 2006
Chair, Committee to Elect Bill Pryor

Future position: Strange is running for re-election in 2014.  Being the incumbent, he is the likely favorite in the 2014 election for Attorney General.  Strange should be considered a potential candidate for running for Governor of Alabama in 2018 or later.

Previous election: Luther Strange (R): 58.8%
James Anderson (D): 41.1%

Future election: Strange is running for re-election in 2014.

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

  • Formed the Special Prosecutors Alliance to help fight public corruption in Alabama
  • Is fighting the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act 
  • Participated in the legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act 
  • Believes the Affordable Care Act is an intrusion into the lives of average Americans

Better know a politician: Stacy Lee George

Name: Stacy Lee George

Political party: Republican (R)

Current position: State correctional officer, 2009-present

State: Alabama

Previous position: Morgan County Commissioner, 2001-2009

Future position: George is running for the Republican nomination in 2014 in the primary against incumbent Governor Robert Bentley.

Previous election: The last election George was involved in was 2008, where he lost in an election to the Morgan County Commission.

Positions/Issues/Accomplishments

  • Worked on Governor Guy Hunt's failed third term in 1998
  • First Republican elected to the Morgan County Commission
  • Opposes the tax credits to parents sending their children to private schools over public schools
  • Wants to propose a state lottery to fund public education
  • Wants to support legislation to make it a felony to violate Alabama's open meetings law
  • Strong advocate for gun rights; wants to be known as the "gun-toting governor"

Better know a politician: Robert J. Bentley

Name: Robert J. Bentley

Political Party: Republican (R)

Current position: Governor

State: Alabama

Tenure: 2011-present

Previous position: Member, Alabama House of Representatives 2003-2011

Future position: Bentley is running for re-election for Governor in 2014.

Previous election:
Robert Bentley (R): 57.9%
Ron Sparks (D): 42.1%

Future election: Bentley will likely be primaried by Stacy Lee George and others for the Republican nomination in Alabama.  If Bentley wins the primary, he will be the Republican nominee for Governor in Alabama for the 2014 election.

Issues/Positions/Accomplishments

Abortion

  • Only believes in abortion if the mother's life is in danger
  • Signed a bill into law that would make it a felony to perform an abortion in Alabama after 20 weeks except in the case where the mother's life is in danger
  • Signed a bill into law that would require physicians to report each abortion to a state database to compile an annual report on abortions
Budget/Economy/Taxes
  • Goal was to create a balanced, "conservative" budget without federal help. Alabama receives 38.2% of its revenue from the federal government 
  • Asked for $9.4 million from the federal government to deal with Hurricane Isaac
  • Would like to cut spending by 15-45%, except for essential services
  • Supports flat tax structure for state income taxes
  • Stated that job creation was his number one priority; The Business Journal ranked him as 36 (tied) with the 45 governors, they ranked in terms of job creation
Civil Rights
  • Does not support same sex marriage or civil unions
  • Would like to end affirmative action for colleges and state contracts
Crime
  • Wanted to expand the budget for police, including teaching them Spanish
  • Would like to expand the use of the death penalty
  • Would like to end parole for violent offenders
Drugs
  • Strengthen penalties for drug related offenses
  • Changed mind on that to help rehabilitate non-violent offenders and to not "throw away the key"
Education
  • Supports charter schools
  • Supports education cuts but stresses that teachers will not lose jobs
  • Wants a federal-state-private partnership with schools
  • Wants to give school boards more power to make decisions
  • Supports teacher spanking law
Energy/Environment
  • Stated that forests primary benefit was economic benefit
  • Supports offshore drilling
Government reform
  • Supports the idea of NO campaign spending limits
Gun Control
  • Thinks we should respond to active shooters but respect the 2nd Amendment
  • Wants to protect the right to carry, own, purchase, and use firearms
Health Care
  • Rejected the Affordable Care Act, stating that it would cost jobs
  • Thinks the 10th Amendment allows Alabama to reject Obamacare
  • Rejected expanding Medicaid as part of Obamacare
  • Rejected setting up a state-run health insurance exchange; despite stating that state regulators should ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act
  • Stated that Alabama would be one of six states that would not help enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act
  • About 1/3 of people in Alabama reported not having health insurance at some point in the last two years
Immigration
  • Signed HB 56 which is an anti-illegal immigration bill stricter than SB 1070 in Arizona
  • Wants to fine companies that employ undocumented immigrants and deny benefits to undocumented immigrants



Saturday, November 23, 2013

What to watch for in 2013 and 2014: Alabama

So, for my election center tab, I'm going to start a series of posts to look at all of the 50 states for their 2014 elections.  I may throw in Washington, DC, too. I can't decide.  I'll update them throughout the year, ultimately offering projections and predictions.  If I get the time, I'd like to have a better know a politician section for all of them, or at least the majority of them.  But I doubt I'll get the time.  But you can check back throughout the year as I update them and the state by state posts.

Governor
Declared candidates:
Robert J. Bentley (incumbent): Republican

Stacy Lee George, former Morgan County Commissioner: Republican

Potential candidates:
Billy Beasley, State Senator: Democratic

Regina Benjamin, former Surgeon General of the United States: Democratic

Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court: Democratic

Craig Ford, Minority Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives: Democratic

John Rogers, State Representative: Democratic

Lieutenant Governor
Declared candidates:
Kay Ivey (incumbent): Republican

Stan Cooke, pastor: Republican

Scott Ninesling: Fire chief, Emergency Response Supervisor-Angola: Democratic

Attorney General
Declared candidates:
Luther Strange (incumbent): Republican

Secretary of State
Declared candidates:
Reese McKinney, Former probate judge of Montgomery County: Republican

John Merrill, State House of Representative, District 62: Republican

Jim Perdue, Crenshaw County Probate Judge: Republican

U.S. Senate
Declared candidates:
Jeff Sessions, Current U.S. Senator from Alabama: Republican

Ballot measures
American and Alabama laws for Alabama courts: Passage of this ballot measure would prohibit the state from recognizing foreign or any laws that violate the state's public policy or rights of the state or its citizens

U.S. Congress

1st Congressional District: Special election held: December 17, 2013
Bradley Byrne, former State Senator: Republican

Burton LeFlore, realtor: Democratic

Projection:
Bradley Byrne (R): 62%
Burton LeFlore (D): 30%
Other: 8%

2nd Congressional District: 
Declared candidates:
Martha Roby (incumbent): Republican

3rd Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Mike Rogers (incumbent): Republican

4th Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Robert Aderholt (incumbent): Republican
Phil Norris, nuclear contractor: Republican

5th Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Mo Brooks (incumbent): Republican
Jerry Hill, former Athens City Councilman: Republican
Parker Griffith, former Congressman and State Senator: Independent

6th Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Chad Mathis, Surgeon and TEA Party Activist: Republican
Paul DeMarco, State Representative: Republican

7th Congressional District:
Declared candidates:
Terri Sewell (incumbent): Democratic
Stanley Mack, nursing student and veteran: Republican







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ending discrimination of the LGBT community at work

In 1996, eventual failed Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum stated his opposition to the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.  He said, “the bill would extend special privileges, not based on a person’s status in our society, but rather based on their lifestyle choice.” 

Every Congress, since 1994, a piece of legislation known as the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been considered.  Similar legislation has been proposed, dating back to 1974.  But on November 4, 2013, the Senate held a cloture vote to consider the bill.  Three days later, the Senate, for the first time, passed ENDA 64-32, as ten Republicans joined Senate Democrats in the passage of the bill.  ENDA might not pass the House or likely even be brought to vote, despite a majority of support from every Congressional district; President Barack Obama supports the passage of the bill. 

ENDA extends federal employment discrimination protections currently provided to those based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability to sexual orientation and gender identity.  ENDA prohibits employers, employment agencies, and labor unions from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis for employment decisions.  This includes hirings, firings, promotions, and compensation.  Meanwhile, small businesses with less than 15 employees are exempt.  All religious organizations from Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination will also be exempt.  The businesses that are not exempt are not allowed to have preferential treatment, like quotas, based on sexual orientation or identity.  The law does not allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Comission (EEOC) to compel employers to collect statistics sexual orientation and identity.  Finally, the law does not apply retroactively.  My relative straightforward explanation, notwithstanding, some see this as a controversial bill.

Santorum’s views, that homosexuality, are held by a multitude of those on the right of the political spectrum. The American Psychological Association (APA) has stated that there is no consensus in the scientific community of what causes homosexuality.  The APA also concludes that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”  A study in Sweden in 2008, the largest twin study conducted, concluded that homosexuality is “largely shaped by genetics and environmental factors.”  Homosexuality is, by and large, accepted by the scientific community as not a choice.

The one who ultimately holds the fate of ENDA in his hands in the House of Representatives is Speaker of the House John Boehner.  Boehner criticized the law, claiming that ENDA will “increase frivolous legislation and cost American jobs.”  The vast majority of Fortune 500 companies (88%) have already implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and 57% implemented policies that include gender identity.  I’ll note that the Human Rights Campaign has a lower estimate than what was concluded by the Fortune 500 Non-Discrimination Project which found that 96.6% of Fortune 500 companies have implemented similar policies.  One of the more notable supporters of this type of policy is Apple CEO Tim Cook.  The largest business coalitions, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the National Association of Manufacturers have remained neutral on the law.   In these cases, the coalition groups were brought to neutrality by including language that explicitly prohibits lawsuits brought under the disparate impact theory.  While it’s far from outright support, neutrality from these large coalitions ensure that the businesses that they represent are not in opposition to this law.  If that was not enough, the Human Rights Campaign has made a list of the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, leading employers who support the passage of this legislation.  Businesses are generally supportive of this legislation, it seems unlikely that it will cost many Americans jobs.

For some reason, Speaker Boehner does not seem concerned about those who are not getting jobs because of their sexual orientation or identity.  Despite a growing number of businesses who support the legislation or have similar rules in place, discrimination in the private sector continues.  A law in place will help curtail this behavior.  A paper published by the Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law found that the harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees continues to exist and is pervasive.  They found that 16 to 68% of LGBT people experienced employment discrimination.  Another study published by the University of California at Los Angeles found that 38% of LGBT employees have faced some type of employment discrimination.  Other studies suggest that LGBT employees are paid less than their heterosexual colleagues.  LGBT employees also find that they have less access to health insurance.  Not surprisingly, they feel, more often, that they were fired or denied promotions based on their sexual orientation or identity. In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union found real life examples of what workplace discrimination looks like.  LGBT employees currently without protections have to hide their sexual identity.  They have to police every conversation, including casual conversations, because they fear for the harassment or possible job loss if other employees find out about their sexual identity.  Discriminating against the LGBT community is costly to businesses, currently. The National Commission on Employment Policies found that discriminating against LGBT people cost $47 million in training costs and unemployment benefits, alone.  Excluding terminations, it is estimated that this type of discrimination cost $1.4 billion in lost output because of a hostile work environment and a reduction in gay and lesbians’ work productivity.  The worry for many Republicans is the impact on litigation on these businesses.

During the Senate committee’s hearing on ENDA, Senate Republicans modified the legislation to make it less favorable to a key Democratic fundraising group of trial lawyers.  The Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles law school found that states that had similar legislation did not see an increase in litigation.  In fact, claims made by LGBT are less per capita than those based on race or gender.  Another study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in the 22 states that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and the 18 that also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity there were “relatively few employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity filed in these states.”   These studies suggest that the idea of frivolous lawsuits is overblown.

The last refuge of those against the bill seem to be that it infringes on people’s religious beliefs.  As currently written, ENDA exempts religious organizations from having to participate in the legislation.  Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has been a critical ally of ENDA, especially for religious freedom.  A Republican Senator met with the Log Cabin Republicans stated that Hatch’s knowledge on religious freedoms and the protections for churches, religious schools, and non-profits was reassuring, when he considered his vote for ENDA.  Unfortunately to many, the religious exemption does not apply to businesses that are partly religious in nature or other private businesses.  Returning to the quote from Rick Santorum, “the bill would extend special privileges, not based on a person’s status in our society, but rather based on their lifestyle choice.”  But let’s turn this, slightly.  The choice to discriminate based on sexual identity or sexual orientation is not based on a person’s status in our society, but it is, in fact a lifestyle choice.  Santorum and others who do not support ENDA based on religious freedoms believe that we should grant special privileges to those who choose to discriminate not because of status, but because of a choice they made, to discriminate against employees.


ENDA is a rational piece of legislation that extends protection that was found in the Civil Rights Act to the LGBT community.  Despite the ideals of business leaders, the LGBT is routinely discriminated against and a law prohibiting it can help end this discrimination.  While we prohibit discrimination based on gender, race, age, and disability, we have chosen to not protect some people based on the assumption of choice.  We can choose to correct this. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Better know a politician: Julianne Ortman

Name: Julianne Ortman

Political party: Republican

Current position: State Senator, 47th District

State: Minnesota

Future position: Ortman is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Minnesota against current Senator Al Franken

Polling numbers:

Public Policy Polling, 10/31/13

Republican primary:
Jim Abeler: 12%
Julianne Ortman: 12%
Mike McFadden: 11%
Chris Dahlberg: 10%
Monti Moreno: 2%
Undecided: 53%

General election:

Al Franken: 49%
Julianne Ortman: 38%
Not sure: 13%

On the issues

  • Ortman does not support marriage equality
  • Wants to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder for "Fast and Furious"
  • Wants to lead an investigation on the deaths in Benghazi
  • Wants to lead an investigation into the IRS "political motivation" to target Tea Party groups
  • Wants to overturn the PATRIOT Act and FISA Court's warrants to wiretap phones with regards to the Edward Snowden leaks
  • Does not support the Gang of Eight's Comprehensive Immigration Reform because it does not enough to secure the border
  • Did not support the Minnesota Senate's tax plans to raise taxes on the wealthiest 7% of Minnesotans
  • Thinks we should greatly increase transportation and highway infrastructure
  • Wants to rework the federal tax code to lower capital gains tax, lower corporate taxes, and lower income taxes on people of all incomes
  • Wanted to increase state funds used for state built prisons and hiring of additional prison staff
  • Stated that she would support programs for prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement when released
  • Wants to implement penalties other than prison time for some non-violent offenders
  • Wants to strengthen sex-offender penalties
  • Supports teacher testing and reward with them with pay based on merit
  • Supports voluntary school prayer
  • Wanted to provide state funding for tax incentives and financial aid to help college make more affordable
  • Reduce government regulations
  • Supports low interest tax loans to help create, build, or relocate small businesses
  • Supports providing tax credits for businesses that provide child care for children in low-income working families
  • Does not support ENDA
  • Wants to promote an increased use of alternative energy technology
  • Supports increased production of traditional domestic energy
  • Supports citizens to carry concealed weapons

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baseball Awards: AL edition

Unlike the NFL and NBA, Major League Baseball does not have an end of seasons all-star team, or the All-MLB team.  Partly because of this, we rely on end of season awards when judging Hall of Fame careers.  But we should stop.  So, I'm unleashing the all-AL 2013 team.  At the end, I'll say who I would have voted for MVP and Cy Young.  So, this should be fun.

The roster breakdown will be as follows:
C: 2
1B: 2
2B: 2
3B: 2
SS: 2
OF: 6
SP: 6
RP: 3

Catchers: Pretty clearly, the starter for the team should be Joe Mauer of the Twins.  He leads all of the catchers in the AL in fWAR, wRC+, wOBA, OBP, and AVG.  The real intrigue is who will be the second catcher on the roster.  The three players I'm focusing on are Jason Castro, Salvador Perez, and Carlos Santana.  Perez leads the other candidates in defense and was just slightly better than average at hitting.  Meanwhile, Castro was 30% better than average at hitting and better than Santana at fielding.  Albeit, he is slightly worse than Perez at defense.  Most of Santana's value comes from his bat.  He is second among AL catchers in OBP, wOBA, and wRC+.  But he's not much of a fielder, according to the numbers or by the eye test.  Ultimately, my choice for the second catcher is Jason Castro from the Houston Astros.
Starter: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Reserve: Jason Castro, Houston Astros

First Basemen: Much like the catcher position, it's pretty obvious who the starter should be.  This time it is Chris Davis.  He led his position in most major offensive categories, including a quadruple slash of .286/.370/.634/.421.  He had a monster offensive season.  If it wasn't for a couple of other players in the league, Davis would have been a clear choice for the MVP.  The choice for the reserves are between Edwin Encarnarcion, Mike Napoli, and Eric Hosmer.  Encarnarcion had the best offensive season of the three, creating 45% more runs than average compared to Napoli at 29%, and Hosmer at 19%.  Napoli had a better defensive season, according to UZR, but according to the eye test, Hosmer is a much better defender.  It's tough to quantify defense.  But Hosmer's value at the plate was fueled by a BABIP of .335.  His batting average was .302.  His OBP is 17 points lower than Encarnarcion's and his wOBA is 38 points lower.  Even accounting for Encarnarcion's bad defense, it's hard to say that Hosmer had a better season than Encarnarcion.  For the reserve position, I'll take Encarnarcion's offense over the eye test of Hosmer at first base.
Starter: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Reserve: Edwin Encarnarcion, Toronto Blue Jays

Second Basemen: Finally, we can have a little more room for discussion about who the best player is, at the position.  We have four players to decide between: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, and Jason Kipnis.  In terms of offensive production, Robinson Cano outperformed the other three.  He created 42% more runs than average compared to Kipnis at 30%, and Pedroia and Zobrist both at 15%.  But Zobrist and Pedroia provided considerable value on defense.  Zobrist, a former shortstop, has always done well at 2B according to the numbers, but just with the eyes, Pedroia looks like the better defender.  Even according to UZR, Pedroia was the slightly better defender.  Pedroia also got on base at a .372 clip, which was second in second basemen, only behind Robinson Cano (.383).  Cano was not a terrible defender, posting a positive UZR, combined with his offensive prowess, makes him the choice as the starter.  As for the reserve, it's a tough one between Kipnis, Zobrist, and Pedroia.  Pedroia's overall contributions as a hitter and defender make him the choice.
Starter: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Reserve: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

Third Basemen: This is the toughest choice in the American League, I believe.  Miguel Cabrera followed his Triple Crown season in 2012 with one of the greatest offensive seasons, ever.  But he is a trainwreck at 3B.  Well, that's not true. He's not quite that bad.  But he's just terrible at playing defense, especially compared to Manny Machado, Evan Longoria, Josh Donaldson, or Adrian Beltre.  Cabrera's skillset just doesn't include good defense or good baserunning.  The other candidates are obviously better defenders and baserunners than Cabrera.  But Cabrera's offensive season is just too good to ignore.  The choice for the reserve is the real tricky one.  Donaldson had the better offensive season even ignoring the ballpark effects of playing in the blackhole of the Oakland A's stadium.  But the eye test tells me the following: Evan Longoria is the slightly better defender, Machado is one of the best defenders at 3B, and Beltre has consistently been a fantastic defender.  None of them had nearly as great as offensive seasons that Donaldson did, except Beltre.  But Beltre's ballpark has to be taken into effect.  Once you do that, you see that Longoria and Beltre had equivalent offensive seasons.  Donaldson, clearly, still had the better season.  Beltre is aging and perhaps his defense is sliding, as well.  Machado was just an average hitter, but his defense was phenomenal.  I place Beltre at the bottom of this list because his defense is starting to slide.  Machado is next.  While his defense was great, his offense was just not even close to the offensive seasons of Longoria or Donaldson.  I think Longoria is the superior defender to Donaldson but according to the numbers Longoria was not significantly better than Donaldson at defense.  Donaldson's all-around game is good enough to make him the reserve choice for the AL end of season all-stars.
Starter: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Reserve: Josh Donaldson, Oakland A's

Shortstops: It gets ugly quick for AL shortstops.  According to fWAR, the second best shortstop was Jhonny Peralta, who missed 50 games due to a suspension related to Biogenesis.  That's not enough to eliminate him in this running.  But, Peralta has not been a great defensive shortstop for years, yet somehow his UZR was fairly high.  Even despite how I feel about his defense, Peralta had the best offensive season for shortstops in the AL.  The second best offensive season from shortstops was performed by Jed Lowrie.  His defense was sub-par compared to the others.  Yunel Escobar combined league average offense with extraordinary defense to lead shortstops in fWAR.  Stephen Drew created runs at a 9% better than league average clip combined with fairly good defense.  J.J. Hardy was slightly below average offensively but played great defense.  Alexei Ramirez has not been a good hitter since he came into the league but plays a great defensive shortstop.  I would choose Stephen Drew as the starter for having a good all-around season.  For the reserve spot, I am partial to choosing Jed Lowrie for his superior offense.
Starter: Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox
Reserve: Jed Lowrie, Oakland A's

Outfield: Mike Trout is an obvious choice for one of the Outfield starting spots.  Trout led the American league in fWAR.  He was second in the league in creating runs for any position.  He got on base at a .432 clip, second highest in the league, behind Miguel Cabrera.  He was a great base runner, stealing 33 bases an his overall speed contributing to wins.  All of that combined with his defense and his offensive contributions coming in a pitcher's park, makes him an obvious choice as a starter at this spot and MVP candidate.  The other two starting spots are a little more complicated.  The choices are not nearly as obvious.  You can choose between Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista, Adam Jones, Coco Crisp, Brett Gardner, Desmond Jennings, Austin Jackson, and Alex Rios.  I'll take a look at them in a table highlighting what I look at.

Name
OBP
SLG
wOBA
wRC+
BsR
Def
fWAR
ISO
Jacoby Ellsubry
.355
.426
.343
113
11.4
12.0
5.8
.128
Shane Victorino
.351
.451
.353
119
3.0
19.5
5.6
.156
Colby Rasmus
.338
.501
.365
130
1.2
12.9
4.8
.225
Jose Bautista
.358
.498
.372
134
1.8
-0.5
4.2
.239
Adam Jones
.318
.493
.350
118
6.2
-4.9
4.2
.208
Coco Crisp
.335
.444
.339
117
6.1
-0.5
3.9
.183
Alex Gordon
.327
.422
.326
103
4.8
1.6
3.4
.156
Brett Gardner
.344
.416
.335
108
2.6
1.3
3.2
.143
Desmond Jennings
.334
.414
.330
112
5.1
-3.7
3.1
.161
Austin Jackson
.337
.417
.332
107
5.6
-1.8
3.1
.145
Alex Rios
.324
.432
.330
103
7.8
-3.3
3.1
.154

My second choice for the starter's role is Colby Rasmus because of having the fourth best offensive season according to wRC+ and the third best defensive season. of an outfielder.  This is mainly due to his slugging.  The final starter is Shane Victorino.  Victorino had the second best defensive season by an American League outfielder and the 7th best offensive season, according to wRC+, in his first year in Boston.  

For the reserves, I'm choosing the all-around talent of Jacoby Ellsbury.  He combined an above-average offensive season with great defense and great baserunning.  Ellsbury had the 4th best OBP, 13th best offensive season, according to wRC+, and the 4th best defensive season.  Jose Bautista is my second reserve.  His offensive season was one of the best in the league for outfielders.  His fWAR was hurt by the fact that he only played 118 games.  The final spot is for Adam Jones.  While Adam Jones's defensive numbers are pretty bad, he looks like a better defender than his numbers suggest.  His OBP is low for my liking but basically I'm choosing between a number of flawed outfielders and I'd choose Adam Jones as the final reserve because of his overall offensive numbers and the defensive numbers might deserve to be higher.

Starters: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays
Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox

Reserves: Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

Starting Pitchers: Let's go to a table to see.

Name IP K/9 ERA FIP xFIP fWAR RA9 WAR fWAR/IP RA9/IP
Max Scherzer 214.33 10.08 2.9 2.74 3.16 6.4 6.2 0.0298605 0.028927
Anibal Sanchez 182 9.99 2.57 2.39 2.91 6.2 6 0.03406593 0.032967
Felix Hernandez 204.33 9.51 3.04 2.61 2.66 6 5.1 0.02936426 0.02496
Justin Verlander 218.33 8.95 3.46 3.28 3.67 5.2 4 0.02381716 0.018321
Chris Sale 214.33 9.49 3.07 3.17 2.95 5.1 5.4 0.02379508 0.025195
Yu Darvish 209.67 11.89 2.83 3.28 2.84 5 6.7 0.023847 0.031955
Derek Holland 213 7.99 3.42 3.44 3.68 4.8 4.5 0.02253521 0.021127
James Shields 228.67 7.71 3.15 3.47 3.72 4.5 6 0.01967901 0.026239
Doug Fister 207.67 6.85 3.68 3.27 3.42 4.5 3.6 0.02166899 0.017335
David Price 186.67 7.28 3.33 3.03 3.27 4.4 3.1 0.02357101 0.016607
Jon Lester 213.33 7.47 3.75 3.59 3.9 4.3 3.9 0.02015656 0.018282
Hisashi Iwakuma 219.67 7.58 2.66 3.44 3.28 4.2 6.8 0.01911959 0.030956
Bartolo Colon 190.33 5.53 2.65 3.23 3.95 3.9 5.7 0.02049073 0.029948
Hiroki Kuroda 201.33 6.71 3.31 3.56 3.6 3.8 4.6 0.01887448 0.022848
Jose Quintana 200 7.31 3.51 3.82 3.86 3.7 4.1 0.0185 0.0205
Andy Pettitte 185.33 6.22 3.74 3.7 3.88 3.2 2.9 0.0172665 0.015648
Ubaldo Jimenez 182.67 9.56 3.3 3.43 3.62 3.2 3.2 0.01751793 0.017518
John Lackey 189.33 7.65 3.52 3.86 3.49 3.2 3.8 0.01690171 0.020071
C.J. Wilson 212.33 7.97 3.39 3.51 3.93 3.3 3.1 0.01554185 0.0146
Ervin Santana 211 6.87 3.24 3.93 3.69 3 4.5 0.01421801 0.021327
If you believe in DIPS theory, you might believe that Anibal Sanchez is the best pitcher in the American League.  But I don't believe fully in DIPS theory.  I believe that a pitcher has some control over the contact that hitters make.  But even with that, I think that Sanchez has a much better argument to be the best pitcher in the league, then people give him credit for.  He had the lowest ERA and lowest FIP.  In terms of actual value, he led in fWAR per IP and RA9 WAR per IP.  With that in mind, here are my 6 starters selected:

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers
Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

Relievers:

Koji Uehera 74.33 12.23 1.09 1.61 2.08 3.3 3.8 0.04439661 0.051123 0.04776 35 6
Greg Holland 67 13.84 1.21 1.31 1.68 3.2 3.5 0.04776119 0.052239 0.05 41 4
Joe Nathan 64.67 10.16 1.39 2.26 3.27 2.5 3.5 0.0386578 0.054121 0.046389 39 4
Nate Jones 78 10.27 4.15 2.64 2.77 2 0.1 0.02564103 0.001282 0.013462 23 17
Danny Farquhar 55.67 12.77 4.2 1.86 2.4 1.9 -0.1 0.03412969 -0.0018 0.016167 18 5
Drew Smyly 76 9.59 2.37 2.31 2.99 1.9 2.2 0.025 0.028947 0.026974 17 9
Neal Cotts 57 10.26 1.11 2.17 2.82 1.8 2.6 0.03157895 0.045614 0.038596 21 7
Glen Perkins 62.67 11.06 2.3 2.49 2.61 1.7 2.2 0.02712622 0.035105 0.031115 26 5
Addison Reed 71.33 9.08 3.79 3.17 3.77 1.7 0.8 0.02383289 0.011215 0.017524 33 10
Sean Doolittle 69 7.83 3.13 2.71 3.68 1.6 1.3 0.02318841 0.018841 0.021014 29 10
David Robertson 66.33 10.45 2.04 2.61 2.6 1.6 2.5 0.02412182 0.03769 0.030906 38 5
Ryan Cook 67.33 8.96 2.54 2.74 3.71 1.6 1.5 0.02376355 0.022278 0.023021 28 15
Joaquin Benoit 67 9.81 2.01 2.87 3.16 1.6 2.6 0.0238806 0.038806 0.031343 29 4
Mariano Rivera 64 7.59 2.11 3.05 3.09 1.5 2.5 0.0234375 0.039063 0.03125 37 8
The categories at the end are shutdowns and meltdowns.  The third decimal number is the average WAR/IP.

The three relievers I'm choosing are at the top of the chart above.  The 4th reliever I would have chosen was Neal Cotts. 

Koji Uehera, Boston Red Sox
Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

Cy Young Vote:
1. Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers
2. Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
4. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
5. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

MVP:

The MVP vote essentially boils down to how much you value all-around skill over offensive skills.  I don't believe in the general idea that an MVP has to come from a playoff team.  So, I tend to focus on the players who I thought had the best (or most valuable seasons).  My MVP vote would boil down to the below:

10. Colby Rasmus, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
9. Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
8. Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers
7. Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
6. Anibal Sanchez, SP, Detroit Tigers
5. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
4. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
3. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland A's
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim