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November 2013

Nov 11, 2012

All Ballots Counted, Allen West Solidly Defeated By Patrick Murphy

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) may be vowing that his race against Patrick Murphy is far from over, but as of early Saturday morning, all ballots were counted and legally the result is clear: West lost.
Murphy won a total of 166,799 votes to West's 164,370, the Palm Beach Post reported. That puts Murphy ahead by 2,429 votes and gives him a 0.7 percent advantage. Florida law only requires a recount when the margin is 0.5 percent or less.
Palm Beach County officials were up until 4:45 a.m. Saturday counting all remaining ballots cast during early voting, on Election Day, absentee ballots and other problematic ballots, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The race in Florida's 18th Congressional District still hasn't been officially called. Palm Beach officials must submit their results to state officials for them to become official, but Saturday's final vote tally all but ensures the race is over.
Murphy already declared victory on election night and NBC called the race for him that night, but West still hasn't conceded. In addition to declaring on his Facebook page that the race is "far from decided," West filed lawsuits to have ballots and voting machines impounded in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. The judge in Palm Beach threw the case out on Friday, though, telling West's lawyers that their arguments fell "woefully short" of what was required for an injunction. A St. Lucie judge is slated to hear West's case on Tuesday.
A West campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Murphy's campaign is ready to move on.
"As expected, the election night results have been confirmed, and it is time to put the campaign behind us," Murphy campaign spokesman Anthony Kusich said in a statement. "Patrick looks forward to representing the treasure coast and palm beaches in Washington and working with both parties to get Florida back to work."
UPDATE: 6:14 p.m. -- The state of Florida certified Murphy as the winner of the race later Saturday.
"As expected, the Election Night results have been confirmed,” Murphy said in a statement. “It is now time to put the campaign behind us. I am honored that the voters of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches have chosen me to be their voice in Congress. Regardless of whether they voted for me or my opponent, I am committed to representing the interests of all residents of Florida’s 18th Congressional district in Washington.”
UPDATE: 2:50 p.m. -- West campaign spokesman Tim Edson said the race still isn't over.
"Race remains undecided. Before moving forward, the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections must make public the poll book counts from Election Day and early voting. Given the dramatic late night swing in votes in St. Lucie County, we want to ensure that early votes were not double counted. The only way to know that is to compare the poll books to the actual number of votes cast. We are hopeful the Supervisor of Elections will cooperate and make that data available for inspection," Edson said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

Karl Rove under fire

Karl Rove is shown. | AP Photo
Karl Rove is scrambling to protect his status in the GOP. | AP Photo
Karl Rove is feeling the heat.
The face of the historic $1 billion plan to unseat President Barack Obama and turn the Senate Republican, Rove now finds himself the leading scapegoat for its failure. And he’s scrambling to protect his status as a top GOP money man by convincing disappointed donors to his Crossroads groups that he did the best he could with their $300 million.
Sources tell POLITICO that some donors have called Crossroads officials to ask how their polling could have been so far off, while others are openly grumbling that the groups should have spent more on the ground game. Rival operatives — long frustrated by Rove’s dominance of big GOP money — are seizing on the discontent, questioning whether he’s hurting the cause and privately urging donors to shut him out.
During a secret Thursday afternoon conference call with his benefactors, Rove laid out the analytics behind his assertions to donors that a massive late-game advertising push would expand the electoral map into Pennsylvania and deliver the White House and the Senate.
(PHOTOS: 2012 mega-donors)
The call was civil, focusing on questions like, “‘where was my strategy, was it right, was it wrong? What did we find out that we didn’t know before?’ That kind of thing — nothing negative, no recriminations or blame,” said Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard.
Donors “weren’t saying anything like, ‘Hey, you dumb son of a b——,’” added Hubbard, who has donated to both the Rove-conceived American Crossroads super PAC and its secret-money nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS. “It was all very businesslike. It was as if you were in a business conference and you were a retailer and ‘why didn’t this product sell better?’”
(Also on POLITICO: Top Republican mega-donors)
On the call, some donors even told Rove, “’I’m glad I gave to you. I feel we made progress,’” recalled Hubbard. “Every quarterback, every coach doesn’t call every play 100 percent right,” he added. “I don’t know how you’re going to blame him. What are you going to blame Karl for?”
Others in conservative politics have been less forgiving.
(Also on POLITICO: Secret cash for GOP door-knockers)
Richard Viguerie, a pioneering direct-mail consultant, called for Republicans to purge from their ranks Rove and Ed Gillespie — who helped found Crossroads and later moved over to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign — as well as Romney advisers Stuart Stevens and Neil Newhouse. “In any logical universe,” he argued, “no one would give a dime to their ineffective super PACs, such as American Crossroads.”
Rick Tyler, a former strategist for the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC and a top adviser to Todd Akin’s Missouri Senate campaign, called Crossroads’ efforts “a colossal failure,” and asserted, “Rove has too much control over the purse strings.”
(Also on POLITICO: The Billion-Dollar Buy series)
Rove “has a lot of explaining to do, mostly to his donors. I don’t think donors are ever going to invest in that level again because it turns out that the architect didn’t know what he was talking about,” Tyler told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Rove didn’t comment for this story, but Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio attributed the mounting conservative grumbling to jealousy, and said the political world hasn’t heard the last of Rove or Crossroads.
“A lot of folks with very old axes to grind have hidden behind blind quotes to take cheap shots against Karl in the last few days,” Collegio told POLITICO in an email laying out main argument made by Rove and Crossroads — that things would have been a lot worse for Republicans without its ads.
“We’re dusting ourselves off, analyzing the data to figure out what went wrong and charting a path forward,” he added. “As we’ve always said, Crossroads is a permanent entity and will be back in 2014 and beyond — with Karl Rove continuing in his role as adviser, providing invaluable strategic vision and fundraising capability.”

Read more:

After a Crushing Defeat, the Religious Right Still Won’t Get it Righ


Christian conservatives admit Tuesday’s election was a stunning blow to their agenda, and they’re blaming it on the GOP’s narrow appeal. Did they learned their lesson, or are they signing up for four more years of partisan codependency?

March for Life
The annual March for Life travels down Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court in Washington DC. (Tom Williams / Getty Images)
If there’s one thing the religious right agrees on after Tuesday’s election, it’s that they lost—big time. Not only did Obama win re-election, but gay marriage won in all four states where it was on the ballot, and the two most outspoken senatorial candidates—one of whom was heavily funded by religious right groups—were defeated.
“Last night really is a big loss, no way to spin it,” gay marriage opponent Maggie Gallagher wrote the morning after. “Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns,” wrote Rev. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “It’s not that our message didn’t get out,” he added. “It did … “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”
It’s when the conversation turns to why a majority of voters rejected those positions—and what to do about it—that things get messier. In the wake of Tuesday’s liberal landslide, there has been plenty of overwrought analysis that has little connection to reality. Gary Bauer, for instance, blamed the Republican Party for downplaying gay marriage, which he insisted could have been the “winning issue” that motivated more social conservatives to turn out. (Actually, as many white evangelicals turned out as ever, and overwhelmingly voted for Romney.) American Family Association rabble-rouser Bryan Fischer chalked it up to Romney’s Mormonism, and the fact that he isn’t a “genuine conservative.” In the wake of the four ballot victories for gay marriage, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, predicted a violent revolution by America’s conservative majority if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage the law of the land.
But the emerging conventional wisdom in social conservative circles is less dramatic: their message failed because the Republican Party failed to appeal to a broad enough base of voters. “We did our job,” top organizer Ralph Reed said at a debriefing the day after the election. “But we can’t do the Republican Party’s job for them, and we can’t do the candidate’s job for him or her.” Like hundreds of mainstream conservative pundits, the focus was suddenly on minority voters. “The map just does not add up for Republicans in terms of the present reality, much less the shape of the future,” Mohler wrote. “Put simply, the Republican Party cannot win unless it becomes the party of aspiration for younger Americans and Hispanic Americans.” Gallagher added, “Either we figure out how to win a much larger share of the Latino vote or the conservative movement could be over.”
It is striking how, despite blaming the party for ignoring their pleas against Romney, many leaders and activists on the Christian right fundamentally identify themselves with the GOP. The social conservative project now, as much as ever, lives and dies on the fate of Republicans at the polls. Just as much of the conservative commentariat has begun calling for the party to put on a PR campaign for Latino voters, often referring to them as “natural Republicans,” conservative Christians have begun speaking of Hispanic Americans as social conservatives who just don’t know it yet. Social conservatives believe the GOP will need them to reach out to socially conservative minority voters, a project that will both shore up the Christian right’s place in the party and bring in new bodies to vote for its agenda.
If the religious right has not reconsidered its symbiotic relationship with Republicans, it also remains convinced that its message maintains a broad appeal to the American electorate. There is a blatant contradiction here: they acknowledge a seismic cultural shift is shaking the ground beneath their coalition, but seem to believe this deep structural change can be addressed with little more than a recalibrated message. What happened Tuesday was a mostly a branding problem. The GOP establishment’s squeamishness on social issues, Gallagher explained, led to an election that failed to energize the base. (Despite the fact that the base turned out as faithfully as ever.) The victories for gay marriage, the National Organization for Marriage insisted, were the result of “political and funding advantages,” not real support for gay marriage. Reed characterized Obama’s win as a “personal victory,” and argued that the majority that has now elected Obama twice must have done so despite deep disagreement with his policies. Again, the answer is a new look for the losers: “We need to do a better job of not looking like your daddy’s religious right. We have to be younger, we have to be more diverse ethnically.”
Despite fresh approaches on the margins, the religious right remains much more committed to partisan politics than theological principle.

In his New York Times column Sunday, Ross Douthat calls this sort of thinking the “demographic excuse,” a silver-bullet “fantasy.” America’s shift away from the GOP, on both social and economic issues, goes far deeper than a simple pandering campaign can reach. Both religious conservatives and mainstream Republicans who think they can rebuild a majority by enlisting young candidates and throwing Hispanics a bone on immigration are still unprepared to confront their electoral dilemma. Latino Protestants, not to mention Catholics, are a long way from becoming Republicans. The only way that the GOP will significantly expand its appeal is to rework its economic agenda—something that remains unlikely for the foreseeable future. Because the religious right has made party politics the entire infrastructure of its movement, it will likely be dragged along, mostly ignored, as the party continues to struggle under the stranglehold of wealthy financiers who don’t want the current One Percent economic orthodoxy to change.
Religious conservatives outside the bubble of party politics think there are more realistic means of guarding their values than simply hoping the GOP will bring in more voters to support the party’s status quo. American Conservative blogger Rod Dreher has argued since 2008 that his side has lost the argument on gay marriage, and that the Republican Party cannot be expected to make opposition to marriage equality an issue. “Same-sex marriage opponents would do well to abandon the fight against same-sex marriage, and instead focus on the threat [it] poses to religious liberty,” he wrote. First Things columnist Peter Leithart welcomed the death of a religious right that was “parasitic on Reaganism” as an opportunity to build a more holistically Christian political approach. “Christians won’t have a fully Christian public philosophy until we have reckoned with the inner tensions between advocacy of the market and, say, support for traditional families.”
But despite fresh approaches on the margins, the religious right remains a movement much more committed to partisan politics than to theological principle. Like the party on whose coattails it rides, change is likely torturous and glacially paced. And just like the 2012 election, by the time electoral realities force conservatives to adapt, it may already be too l