If Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer steps down at the end of this term—as many are speculating she will—it would be the first major shakeup in California congressional politics in years. With that in mind, Golden State political hopefuls are already jockeying for position to succeed her. To be sure, many of the names being floated will never rise much further than this list, but here are some of the people who may try to succeed her.
(JERUSALEM) — Israel’s prime minister has fired two senior Cabinet ministers, setting the stage for an expected announcement of early elections.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Tuesday he had ordered the dismissals of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
The coalition government has been divided over key issues in recent weeks, and Lapid and Livni have emerged as fierce critics of the prime minister.
Netanyahu planned a nationwide address later Tuesday.
With his coalition in tatters, Netanyahu is expected to order new elections, more than two years ahead of schedule.
By Catherine Ruckelshaus and Sarah Leberstein at the National Employment Law Project
By Krithika Krishnamurthy in Economic Times
By Lieutenant Colonel Kevin G. Collins in Marine Corps Gazette
By Michael Bell in Politico
By Sam Kimball and Nicholas Linn in Quartz
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.
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The last time voter turnout was this low, the U.S. was fighting WWII
The last time voter turnout for a national election was as low as it was on Nov.4, Hitler was still in power, and Mitch McConnell was only nine months old.
Only 36.4% of eligible voters voted in this year’s midterm elections, down from 40.9% who voted in 2010, according to preliminary analysis by Michael McDonald at the University of Florida. The last time voter turnout was that low was 1942, when only 33.9% of voters cast ballots, according to the United States Elections Project.
That was also a year that the U.S. established the European Theater of Operations in WWII, so a large share of the voting population was a little busy doing other things.
Voter turnout in presidential elections is historically much higher than in midterms– 58.2% of eligible voters voted in 2012, and 61.6% voted in 2008, the highest turnout since 1968. In other words, turnout for Obama’s first presidential election was almost double the 2014 midterm turnout.
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The GOP takes a victory lap
There was a lot of talk about a crisis in the Republican Party after it failed to dislodge Barack Obama in 2012. The GOP might win hand-drawn districts and bright red states, but as a national force, it was unpopular among young people and nonwhite voters and riven by warfare between Tea Party and Establishment.
But a funny thing happened on the road to ruin. On Nov. 4, Republicans turned a favorable political season into a wave of victories that not only gave them control of the Senate and fortified their hold on the House but also padded their substantial edge among governors and tightened their grip on state legislatures. From the red state of Kansas, where a ballyhooed Republican …
Half of the state's counties are dry, and they're staying that way for now
Arkansas voted Tuesday against allowing alcohol sales statewide, preserving the status quo of “patchwork prohibition” that exists in half of the state’s counties.
With 96% of precincts reporting, 57% of voters said no to the Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Amendment, which would’ve changed the constitution to allow for the manufacture, sale and distribution of liquor, beer and wine across the state. Arkansas has one of the highest concentrations of dry counties left in the U.S. Thirty-seven are currently dry while 38 are wet.
The issue largely pitted churches, existing liquor stores in wet counties and rural, conservative residents against more liberal, populous counties and out-of-state retailers looking to get a foothold in previously dry regions. The ballot initiative appeared to have significant support as recently as last month. But support for the amendment eroded as its main opponents, led by Citizens for Local Rights, vastly outspent the initiative’s backers.
“We started late and didn’t have the resources to get our message out,” says David Couch, a lawyer and chair of Let Arkansas Decide, which led the campaign to legalize alcohol statewide.
Couch’s organization raised about $200,000 and was supported mainly by out-of-state convenience stores. Citizens for Local Rights raised $1.8 million from roughly 900 contributors, many of which were existing Arkansas liquor megastores, often near the border of a dry county.
Polling had shown growing opposition to the amendment in the weeks leading up to the vote. Citizens for Local Rights’ primary message was simple: Don’t let the liberal-leaning urban counties dictate to the smaller, conservative ones. Add in some help from local pastors and churches warning of legalizing a vice in heavily Christian areas, and it appears that message resonated with voters.
But Couch of Let Arkansas Decide says he’s not giving up. His next move is to try to get state legislators to reduce the threshold required to get the issue, known as the “local option,” on the ballot county by county. Signatures of 38% of registered voters within a county must be collected to trigger a vote.
“If that doesn’t work, we will refile the measure and start earlier,” Couch says. “And hopefully be better funded.”
Voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to turn the state's dry counties wet
Drop a pin on a map of Arkansas and your chances of finding a stiff drink there are about 50-50. But that could soon change if enough residents vote for a constitutional amendment on Tuesday’s ballot that would open the entire state to beer, wine and liquor sales for the first time since the 1930s.
Arkansas is one of dozens of states that allow local municipalities to make their own decisions about selling booze, but only about 10 states actually have dry counties, most of which are in the South. The result is what’s known as “patchwork prohibition,” where the state is divided into wet, dry and even moist (beer and wine only) counties.
The divisions can be confusing, with wet cities occasionally in dry counties and highly-profitable liquor stores almost always parked just across the border from booze-less regions. In Texas, for example, 49 of the state’s 254 counties are wet, 11 are dry and the rest are a combination of wet and dry. Alabama has 25 dry counties, but many cities within them are wet. And in Kentucky’s 120 counties, 39 are dry, 32 are wet and 49 are some combination of the two. No state comes closer to an equal division than Arkansas, where 37 counties are dry and 38 counties are wet.
Opening these dry counties to alcohol sales has become an increasingly popular economic development tool. Several counties in Kentucky have used their “local option” to expand liquor sales in the last couple years, while voters in Alabama’s largest remaining dry city are considering a similar ballot initiative Tuesday as well (the 2012 push failed by close to 400 votes).
Unlike most other votes on the wet/dry issue, the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Initiative—which would allow the “manufacture, sale, distribution and transportation of intoxicating liquors” throughout the state beginning on July 1, 2015—is subject to a statewide vote. That’s because attorney David Couch, the chair of pro-wet group Let Arkansas Decide, found that the number of signatures required for getting the measure on the state ballot was not much more than what it would’ve taken in just the three counties he had initially targeted.
Couch’s main rationale is economic. He cites a University of Arkansas study showing that if Faulkner, Craighead and Saline counties were wet—three of the state’s biggest counties, and ones where Walmart has expressed interest in selling booze —they would each generate an additional $12 million to $15 million in annual economic activity. And he estimates the total statewide benefit of going wet at an additional $100 million a year. But Couch has other motives, too.
“These dry counties make my state look kind of backward, and I don’t like that,” he says. “This is a much more modern approach to alcohol regulation.”
The amendment seemed to have signs of support in September. But the opposition appears to have grown in recent weeks. Part of that may be a huge cash infusion from Citizens for Local Rights, a group opposed to the amendment. The organization has raised $1.8 million compared to $200,000 for Couch’s Let Arkansas Decide.
Citizens for Local Rights is backed largely by liquor retailers in wet counties that want to keep out new competition. The Conway County Liquor Association, for example, has given the group $540,000. All six counties surrounding Conway are dry. The amendment has also been criticized by religious leaders wary of making alcohol more available.
Brian Richardson, chairman of Citizens for Local Rights, casts the issue as a matter of regional autonomy—no small claim in a vote that will come down partly to rural turnout. “It’s a badly written, overreaching amendment that guts local communities from being able to make decisions on a local level,” he says. “It’s letting people in the more populous counties determine this.”
Couch says his only poll found majority support for passage, but it was conducted last month. Richardson says his group’s final survey points to partial prohibition remaining in place, with 58% of respondents opposed to the amendment.
“I hate to jinx ourselves,” Richardson says. “But I think we’ll have a decisive victory.”
Because it's our civic duty to laugh
If Election Day were a comedy, this is how it would play out: One candidate would be unequivocally good, the other ruthlessly evil. Political operatives would control the play-by-play from a corner office far from the action. An unexpected candidate would emerge from nowhere in the eleventh hour, throwing the race into a tizzy. The deserving candidate would lose by a tight margin, but when the evil candidate’s fraud is revealed, the rightful victor would take the throne. Bad guys out, good guys in.
But Election Day is not a comedy, and good and evil aren’t two poles separated by an impossible distance. Good isn’t always as good as it purports to be. Good, alas, often loses. It’s refreshing, though, to visit a world as simple as the one these movies imagine. Perhaps you’re a jaded would-be voter in need of convincing that some good might come from pulling that ancient lever, or maybe you long to escape the disappointment of your candidate’s certain defeat, and find yourself instead enveloped in the warmth of Chris Farley’s glow.
Either way, here are five election comedies to motivate you, console you, and get you ready for the polls on Election Day.
Black Sheep (1996)
Black Sheep belongs to a class of movies that strikes you as pure comedic genius when you’re 12 and senseless drivel once your tastes have matured. But if you can tap into whatever lingering appreciation you have for scatological humor, it’s worth watching if only to spend 87 minutes with Chris Farley. Largely a vehicle for Farley’s brutishly brilliant physical comedy, Black Sheep has many of the elements of a typical election flick. Revolving around Farley’s Mike Donnelly, hapless kid brother to Washington gubernatorial candidate Al Donnelly, the movie pits familial love against political ambitions. Mike’s efforts to help the campaign unfailingly result in public embarrassment, threatening Al’s chances of success.
Like many in the genre, the movie focuses more on the campaign than the election itself. Donnelly is pure goodness, his dedication to his brother matched only by his concern for his would-be constituents. Incumbent Governor Evelyn Tracy is pure evil, sporting a win-at-all-costs mentality that counts fraud and slander among its tactics. It’s an absurd comedy of errors in which the younger Donnelly can’t seem to catch a break, but nestled between the pratfalls and the gags is one ingredient that often runs in short supply at the polls: just a little bit of heart.
Wag the Dog (1997)
The media is as crucial to the outcome of an election as its candidates’ campaigns, and Wag the Dog shows just how powerful the news can be — even when it’s fake. Like many good election movies, and a fair share of actual elections, this one revolves around a sex scandal. The sitting president is accused, less than two weeks before the election, of sexually assaulting a young girl. To distract from the scandal and inspire patriotism among voters, the White House hires spin-doctor Conrad Brean (Robert de Niro), who enlists Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to stage a fake war with Albania.
Wag the Dog is intelligent satire in contrast to Black Sheep’s inane Looney Toon-esque shenanigans. Released one month before the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the movie had Roger Ebert perceptively noting, “It is getting harder and harder for satire to stay ahead of reality.” Rather than dishing up an inspiring good-guys-win narrative, it reminds the audience — American voters — how gullible we can be in the face of an effective media campaign. “Why does a dog wag its tail?” the opening credits ask. “Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.” In Wag the Dog, we are the brainless tail, ever at the whim of the scheming dog.
“Winning isn’t everything,” says Tracy Flick. “Win or lose, ethical conduct is the most important thing.” Reese Witherspoon’s Flick is desperate for political glory in this portrayal of a viciously contested race for student council president. For a story about student government, it has all the trappings of a full-grown adult election: sex scandals and personal vendettas, witch hunts and sabotage. Blaming Tracy for her part in an affair that got his best friend fired, popular teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) will do anything to take her down. His meddling leads to a contest that stands in stark contrast to the ideals he espouses in his social studies class.
Rotating between narrators, director Alexander Payne explores Tracy’s statement: Is ethical conduct more important than victory? And does it guarantee victory, or all but rule it out? Witherspoon delivers one of her most memorable roles as the type-A Flick, who sees victory as her destiny, and destiny as inescapable.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Napoleon Dynamite may be a geek movie before it is an election movie, but the election between Pedro Sánchez (Efren Ramirez) and Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff) plays a central role in the nerdy protagonists’ victory over their high school’s popular posse. Pedro is a transfer student whom Napoleon befriends and supports in his campaign for school president. He has the charisma of a sloth in a coma, always donning a blank stare above his bolo tie. His opponent, Summer, is equally uninspiring, banking on her social status to deliver her to victory.
Pedro’s election speech leaves much to be desired. When he promises the students, “If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true,” his tone is like that of a doctor delivering bad news. But a vote for Pedro is less a vote for change than it is a symbol of the underdog getting his due, a nerd with no ideas defeating a cheerleader with no ideas. Many a voter will sigh, waiting in line to cast her ballot, that she’s choosing the lesser of two evils, the better option between two mediocre choices. Napoleon Dynamite asks us to make this choice — and to compensate for its candidates’ lack of imagination, it gave us the dance scene of the decade.
The Campaign (2012)
The Campaign opens with a quote from Ross Perot, a presidential candidate perhaps best remembered for the size of his ears. “War has rules. Mud wrestling has rules. Politics has no rules.” And so the tone is set for opponents Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), an incumbent and an underdog vying for one seat in Congress. The Campaign offers a parody of modern elections that rings true for all its hyperbole. Gains in the polls are driven by strong hair and the frequency with which a candidate invokes America, Jesus and Freedom. Pandering is the rule, as Brady tells every group he meets — troops, farmers, audio installation specialists, and Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators — that they are the backbone of America.
In its best moments — when it’s not resorting to fat jokes and bathroom humor — The Campaign is funny because it’s so familiar. Big money decides who runs and what they stand for. Campaign managers shape candidates’ images, from their wives’ hairstyles to the eagle-inspired artwork adorning their living rooms. And a significant focus on attack ads, amplifying a particle of dirt into a full-blown dust storm, distracts from the time candidates spend discussing what they actually stand for. It would be farfetched to call The Campaign a cinematic feat. But it does make us consider the just-discernable line between reality and farce.
Fears are also raised that the Kremlin is again sending men and equipment into rebel areas
The Obama Administration has condemned Russia-backed separatists in southeastern Ukraine for holding unauthorized elections and warned that the polls violated the fragile cease-fire deal signed by Kiev and Moscow during a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, last September.
Organizers of the elections in Donetsk and Luhansk say that insurgent leaders from both cities scored landslide wins — providing a bold challenge to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s embattled administration.
“The United States condemns the illegitimate, so-called elections held on Sunday by Russia-backed separatists in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk,” said Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokesperson, on Monday.
Meehan also voiced concerns that the Kremlin had begun sending Russian troops and equipment back across the border into rebel-held Ukrainian territory.
“Moscow’s continued failure to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements calls into question its commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine,” said Meehan.
On Monday, Russian authorities applauded the vote and commended the election’s high turnout.
“We respect the will of the inhabitants of the southeast,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry in a statement. “The elected representatives have obtained a mandate to solve practical problems to restore normal life in the regions.”
In Kiev, the Ukrainian President called the polls a “gross violation” of the Minsk agreement and, during an address to the nation, said the elections would push Kiev to “re-examine” its cease-fire deal with the rebels, according to Agence France-Presse.
Poroshenko is set to sit down with his security team on Tuesday during an emergency meeting in the Ukrainian capital to discuss the implications of the separatist elections.
They'll spend some $700 million throughout this election season+ READ ARTICLE
The momentum headed into the midterm elections on Tuesday appears to be in the GOP’s favor, with a Senate majority thought to be within reach. That means Democrats could lose seats, despite boosts from Super PACS, which overall will spend some $700 million on campaigns this election season.
Here’s all you need to know about the midterm elections.