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Delaware Political Weekly, Or An Approximation Thereof: August 16-22, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on August 22, 2014 35 Comments
Delaware Political Weekly, Or An Approximation Thereof: August 16-22, 2014

This article got lost in the Chip Flowers Implosion, Version 4.0, but it shouldn’t have.  House D’s facing primary challenges sending out thinly-veiled campaign lit on the public’s dime. A practice that was discontinued under Speaker Gilligan (Terry Spence was the Godfather of this practice), but reinstated by Speaker Schwartzkopf just in time for the primaries. Now here’s the rest of the story. Complaints regarding this practice were filed with Elaine Manlove of the State Department of Elections. She determined that she had no legal jurisdiction over the complaints, that they did not technically violate state law, and referred them to…The House Ethics Committee. Did I mention that the House Ethics Committee is chaired by Valerie Longhurst, one of the two legislators who it’s been confirmed have sent out these mailers on the taxpayers’ dime? Now, that’s the Delaware Way.

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House Incumbents Spending Taxpayer $$’s To Fend Off Primary Challengers?

Filed in Delaware by on August 13, 2014 26 Comments
House Incumbents Spending Taxpayer $$’s To Fend Off Primary Challengers?

It sure looks that way. Both Valerie Longhurst and Dennis E. Williams have sent out official House correspondence to their districts that are little more than taxpayer-funded campaign pieces. There may well be others who have done the same.

The supposed deniability comes in that these are allegedly legislative updates to constituents. They are sent on their personal House letterhead, in House envelopes, and likely through state mail. And they are prepared in-house by state employees on state time. They tout the alleged accomplishments of the legislators, and, as campaign pieces are prone to do, try to mislead voters on issues where the incumbents are vulnerable. Oh, and so far, they’ve only been sent out by incumbent House members facing primaries.

When I worked in the Senate, we were forbidden from doing this. During the brief time that I worked for the House, then-Speaker Terry Spence allowed us to send such mailings. Of course, it’s likely not coincidence that this policy was set during the election season that the Rethugs were desperately trying to hold onto their majority, and if they did it, he had to let us do it. Truth be told, most of July and August were spent on preparing and sending these mailings.

Only one person can authorize such mailings: The Speaker of the House. It’s likely legal, as the General Assembly routinely exempts itself from laws that apply to everyone else. In fact, apparently it’s technically legal to send out these sorts of mailings up to 35 days prior to an election. But I submit that it’s a wasteful misuse of taxpayer funds.

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‘Bulo’s Fave New Tunes: July, 2014

Filed in Arts and Entertainment by on August 5, 2014 4 Comments
‘Bulo’s Fave New Tunes: July, 2014

Reigning Sound: Falling Rain

Chuck Prophet: Wish Me Luck

Plus much more inside….

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Brenda Mayrack Lures ‘Bulo Out of the Shadows

Filed in Delaware by on July 31, 2014 8 Comments
Brenda Mayrack Lures ‘Bulo Out of the Shadows

Other than doing door-to-door with Bryan Townsend and hosting Mitch Crane at the Arden Fair, I’ve not been out front in actively campaigning for political candidates since I took my leave of the Delaware General Assembly.

Brenda Mayrack has changed that. To the extent that I’ll be on her Host Committee for this upcoming event:

Darley House Meet & Greet

Thursday, August 7, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Darley House (Corner of Philadelphia Pike & Darley Road)
3701 Philadelphia Pike | Claymont, DE 19703

Additional parking available next door at the Church of the Ascension.
Buy your tickets now.

Friend: $30 | Supporter: $75 | Host: $100

That’s right. As a host, I’m ponying up $100. Why?

Because, for all intents and purposes, we haven’t had an auditor, let alone a competent auditor, for however long Tom “Suspendered Disbelief” Wagner has been in office. I’ve argued on this blog for years that we really need a competent auditor. A competent auditor can and will save the state lots of dollars. It’s not even mostly about waste, fraud, and abuse, it’s about working with agencies to save the state money while not cutting services.

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“Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?”: Chapter, Oh, 1,000,000 and Something.

Filed in Arts and Entertainment, Delaware by on July 30, 2014 14 Comments
“Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?”: Chapter, Oh, 1,000,000 and Something.

Wilmington City Council pays $1000 so that Councilman Mike Brown can fly back from Florida on the city’s dime to cast the deciding vote to override the Mayor’s veto of cuts to the Fire Department budget only to come up…TWO  VOTES SHORT.

Oh, and for reasons that not even Mike Brown can explain, he lied about where he was vacationing. Why? I have no idea. Apparently, neither does he. From Amy Cherry’s WDEL story (watch and listen)…

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Carney Sides With Pesticide Polluters

Filed in Delaware by on July 28, 2014 9 Comments

To be fair, he hadn’t cast any real egregious votes for a few weeks now. That has changed. Carney sided with pesticide polluters who don’t even want to get a permit to spray in waterways. This despite the fact that there had not been a single complaint from a single state or provider urging a […]

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Far Right Rethuglican Organization Endorses…Dave Tackett!!??

Filed in Delaware by on July 24, 2014 18 Comments
Far Right Rethuglican Organization Endorses…Dave Tackett!!??

This is truth, not fiction. The Delaware Chapter of the Faith & Freedom Coalition has endorsed putative Democrat Dave Tackett in the Democratic Primary against State Sen. Bryan Townsend.  Tackett was endorsed along with a bunch of R’s. The Faith & Freedom Coalition is the home for the usual suspect right-wing nut jobs. Ralph Reed is the founder and chairman. Their endorsers include Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, Marco Rubio, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Ted Cruz, among many others. This group, this group, has decided to endorse Dave Tackett.   For those who doubt me, here is the press release….

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Sen. Colin Bonini Diverts State Bond Funds to Private Religious Institution

Filed in Delaware by on July 24, 2014 6 Comments

We all know Colin Bonini.  The Senator who votes against the Budget pretty much every year and publicly scolds the General Assembly for failing to make the ‘tough choices’.  Meaning failing to shred the social safety net while cutting taxes and screwing unions. This self-same Colin Bonini sits on the Bond Bill Committee. A superb […]

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Delaware Political Weekly: July 12-18, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on July 18, 2014 66 Comments
Delaware Political Weekly: July 12-18, 2014

The Democratic Party endorses neither candidate for the State Treasurer primary. Kremlinologists no doubt will enjoy parsing the following sentence:

Given the Committee’s perception of quality both Democratic Treasurer candidates possess, the committee failed to reach consensus on the endorsement of either candidate.

Might I suggest that this is one endorsement that neither candidate really wanted? How could Chip run as the anti-establishment candidate if the establishment endorsed him, and how could Barney run as someone not beholden to the Carpers and Carneys of this world if he got the endorsement? My vote will ultimately come down to this: What can we least afford? A self-delusional narcissist who has had his hands effectively tied, or the next Carper or Carney?

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RIP: Johnny Winter & Elaine Stritch

Filed in Arts and Entertainment by on July 17, 2014 2 Comments
RIP: Johnny Winter & Elaine Stritch

Two serious soulful performers gone. A guitar god who sometimes placed speed (in both ways) ahead of pitch or accuracy, and one of the most galvanizing stage performers (for whom pitch was thankfully never the point) I’ve ever seen with a particular penchant for the music of Stephen Sondheim….

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Markell to Children: Drop Dead

Filed in Delaware by on July 15, 2014 94 Comments
Markell to Children: Drop Dead

Don’t look for gimlet-eyed Jack Markell to lift a finger to assist in the humanitarian crisis at the nation’s borders.  Delaware Gov. Markell turned down a request from The US Department of Health & Social Services to even consider making any state resources available to stem the humanitarian crisis. He blames congressional ‘dithering’. As if the kids placed in the middle of this crisis can do anything to overcome congressional dithering.

From today’s News-Journal story:

Markell, who is among a number of the nation’s governors who fielded federal requests for help, said there are no state facilities available that could properly accommodate the children while they await immigration hearings. But he said some Delaware faith-based organizations might be in a position to offer assistance.

“I don’t really see the possibility of any state facilities housing these kids,” Markell said Monday. “I don’t think that exists. If private organizations choose to do so, that’ll be up to them.”

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Delaware Political Weekly: July 5-11, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on July 11, 2014 3 Comments

There’s no sense recapping what we’ve already recapped, so I won’t. However, there is at least a possibility that Rebecca Walker will not be the only person to withdraw from the ballot. 1. Today marks another election deadline: July 11, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. DEADLINE for filed candidates to withdraw or file for a different […]

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Breaking: State Rep. Rebecca Walker Will Not Seek Reelection

Filed in Delaware by on July 10, 2014 25 Comments

I first got a heads-up on this from a reader, and then I went to the Delaware Elections website and discovered that she is no longer listed among the ballot-qualified candidates. In other words, Rebecca Walker has withdrawn for reelection in the 9th RD. And, by waiting until after the filing deadline to remove her […]

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Election Filing Deadline Preview & Open Thread

Filed in Delaware by on July 7, 2014 38 Comments
Election Filing Deadline Preview & Open Thread

The deadline for candidates to file is 12 noon Tuesday. Parties can fill slots on the ballot moving forward, and candidates can withdraw, but anyone who does not file by the deadline cannot get on the ballot w/o party support.

Questions answered:

1. Yes, the fearsome duo of Carl Smink and Rose Izzo will lead the mighty Republican ticket into battle this fall. Izzo filed on Thursday, July 3.

2. Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf will run for reelection. Not that it was ever in doubt, but he has now filed.

Unanswered Questions:

1. Will State Auditor Tom Wagner file for reelection?

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‘Bulo’s Fave New Tunes: June, 2014

Filed in Arts and Entertainment by on July 3, 2014 1 Comment
‘Bulo’s Fave New Tunes: June, 2014

Great stuff last month. If you’re not at least sampling some of this, you’re missing out. Trust me, if you don’t like one, you just might like the next. No way they ALL suck, even for the narrow-minded (*cough, Jason 330, cough*)….

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How The GA Passed Energy Efficiency w/o Passing HB 179

Filed in Delaware by on July 1, 2014 17 Comments
How The GA Passed Energy Efficiency w/o Passing HB 179

This is awesome, just the kind of stuff I love. You will no doubt recall, through the writings of Cassandra and others, that Delaware utilities currently cannot offer their customers consumer conservation programs that would save the consumer money and reduce energy usage.

You also know that a bill designed to permit utilities to offer these programs was buried in the Senate Energy Committee, where it had languished for over a year under the watchful eye of SEU founder and Senator Harris McDowell. Which brings us to last night, and, for that matter, this morning. At 3:21:05 am, to be  precise.

No, Sen. McDowell did not relent, nor did he release HB 179 from committee. So, how did this get done?

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Mon., June 30, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 30, 2014 4 Comments

The Longest Day. Here’s what a final day is usually like. Legislators drift in, and sessions generally begin around 4 pm or so. Dinner break a couple hours later. Because of, um, unfortunate instances of overindulgence in the past, members and staff generally dine in Leg Hall. In the past, lobbyists have paid for dinner. […]

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Delaware Political Weekly: June 21-27, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 27, 2014 9 Comments
Delaware Political Weekly: June 21-27, 2014

Yes, Chris Coons has a Republican challenger. His name is Carl Smink. Here’s what I know. He’s filed, but hasn’t announced.  He’s from Milton. His website is under construction.  He has written a few op-eds, or maybe letters to the editor, for the Cape Gazette, none of which are readily available unless you’re a subscriber. He IS, however,  a “Drill, Baby, Drill” kinda guy who hates socialism. Ok.

Two Kent County state reps may not even make it to November, and I must say I’m surprised. Both Harold Peterman (33rd RD) and Don Blakey (34th RD) are being challenged. Peterman’s opponent is Charles Postles, who appears to be the chair of…the 33rd Republican RD Committee.

Blakey’s challenger is Lyndon Yearick,  who doesn’t fit a Tea Party profile, at least not on the surface. Active in the United Way, mentoring programs,  and also the Chair of the 34th RD, Yearick looks like the kind of candidate R’s looking to restore credibility to their Party would seek out. He’s currently the Maryland/Delaware Campus Director for Kaplan Test Prep. He has an MBA from Penn State (OK, now that’s a cult).  By far, one of the more  interesting candidate profiles I’ve come across.

My question is this: Why would two RD chairs primary sitting state legslators? Usually, the legislators themselves have a huge say in who the RD chair is. Is it possible that Peterman and/or Blakey are retiring even though they’ve filed? One would think so. C’mon Kent County, help me out here.

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 26, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 26, 2014 34 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 26, 2014

The Senate approved a new Supreme Court Justice, Karen Valihura, and David Small as DNREC Secretary. I can’t let this go without a comment about Justice Carolyn Berger‘s resignation from the Delaware Supreme Court and her seemingly ‘injudicious’ comments. I don’t know it she’s right on the specifics of Markell not taking her seriously, but she’s right on point when it comes to, well, I guess the operative word is ‘paternalism’, when it comes to women appointees to judgeships.

When I first started working in Dover, the operative word was ‘chauvinism’. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether paternalism is a step up from chauvinism. To me, it’s ‘same old wine in a brand new bottle’. From Philadelphia Business Journal:

Berger’s situation outlines a concern in some quarters in Delaware that women do not have enough of a role on the judicial branch. Berger said women have advanced on the state’s family court, superior court and court of common pleas. She is also the only female to serve on the Court of Chancery, which deals with business litigation.

“Family court is the only court ever to have a woman chief judge,” Berger said. “The court of chancery has had no women judges for the past 20 years, despite the fact that several well-qualified women have applied in the past. And I’ve been the only woman on the supreme court. Many other states have more than one woman justice, and in several jurisdictions, women justices outnumber male justices.”

Maybe it’s the same menfolk arguing that Delaware’s courts are the nation’s most prestigious who, in their own paternalistic minds, don’t want the wimmenfolk messing with that reputation. Perhaps the wimmenfolk who are assuming the leadership role in the State Senate just might have something to say about this moving forward. I hope so. But, I digress. You can as well. In the comments section.

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 25, 2014

Filed in National by on June 25, 2014 12 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 25, 2014

We also know that the General Assembly will find some way to waste money on the casinos. Casinos that are in the shape they’re in due to disastrous business decisions by its oligarch owners. Didja see the latest?   Read the article carefully and see if I come to the same conclusion you do.  Those supporting the latest casino bailout, including Jack Markell, are now proposing to use ‘one-time’ funds that were not used for their original purpose:

The casino aid proposal now offers $9.9 million to casinos by using $5 million left over from an $8 million bailout approved by the General Assembly last year (?). The proposal also uses $3.2 million set aside for the Kent County Sports Complex in the the Delaware Economic Development Office’s job infrastructure fund and the remainder would come from other money available from that fund.

Got that? The “Delaware Economic Development Office’s job infrastructure fund“. And just what are these funds supposed to, um, fund?:

The infrastructure fund for economic development, established in 2012, provides assistance for renovation, construction, or other improvements to roads, utilities and infrastructure to attract new businesses to the state. It also can be used for the expansion of existing state businesses to create jobs, according to the fund’s guidelines.

In other words, that Fund could (and I think should) help fund road and infrastructure improvements. Instead it’s going to bail out the casinos. As to the ‘expansion of existing state businesses to create jobs’, we’re not getting job expansion at the casinos.  In fact, I think Cassandra’s right. The ink won’t be dry on the Governor’s signature before the alarm bells are once again sounded by the casinos. They are now essentially extorting money from the State. Our public officials are paying.

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 24, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 24, 2014 18 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 24, 2014

I really didn’t think this would happen, and, I must admit, I’m almost stunned that the General Assembly would choose political expediency over our deteriorating infrastructure. The Governor is not exempt from criticism. Far from it. Jack Markell (a) waited until an election year to play a game of chicken on infrastructure spending; (b) likened the need to continue our ongoing periodic road maintenance program to swallowing bitter medicine rather than pointing out the benefits to our state’s economy from having those great construction jobs; and (c) decided to (pardon the expression) muddy the waters by making this a two-fer with a proposed clean water initiative. Horrible messaging, horrible staff work.

Still, I never expected the Delaware General Assembly, by dint of deliberate inaction, to blow (at least) a $70 million hole in the annual transportation capital budget. $70 million less spent on keeping our roads and bridges drivable in FY 15 than was spent in FY 14. (Well, maybe $60 mill, should the Honorables hike weekend tolls on Rt. 1.) This is blatant dereliction of duty. From the ridiculous (Valerie Longhurst proclaiming that she simply won’t allow a gas tax increase) to the equally-ridiculous (Greengrocer Hocker claiming that, since the D’s can’t pass this by themselves, he’s not going to ‘help’ them). Never mind everybody who drives in this state who will suffer the consequences. I’ve been around a long time. This Profile in Cowardice ranks near the top of the most cynical gestures ever to emerge from Dover. When the roads become pockmarked, you know who to blame. Call them on it. And if you live in one of these idiots’ districts, and you have the chance, vote against them.

While ignoring public safety, the Honorables appear poised to provide another $10 million to help bail out the bad business decisions made by greedy racino millionaires who were literally given licenses to steal by the State. Who could possibly argue that our legislative luminaries have their priorities in order? Looks like we’re headed towards a horrible conclusion to what has generally been a good legislative session.

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Delaware Political Weekly: June 14-20, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 20, 2014 20 Comments
Delaware Political Weekly: June 14-20, 2014

Ted Kittila, a Seaford native and a Wilmington corporate attorney, announced that he would run as an R for Attorney General. He has not yet filed. Here is a background piece on Kittila from the News Journal.  It also looks like Kittila will need to bring something a little stronger than his trying to contrast himself with Denn by essentially claiming that he is a lawyer while Denn is a politician. Denn’s response:

“I have practiced law in every court in the State of Delaware, representing both businesses and people with few resources or who couldn’t afford an attorney,” Denn said. “I have worked to improve the public safety system as chair of the Criminal Justice Council. I have experience protecting consumers as Insurance Commissioner, protecting children as Chair of the Child Protection Accountability Commission and getting laws passed as Insurance Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor to help families, businesses, schools and kids. I look forward to talking about my experience and ideas.”

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 19, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 19, 2014 8 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thurs., June 19, 2014

Last day of the DIY reports, I promise. Got next week’s work schedule, and it’s ‘green across the screen’. In the limited remaining time allotted to me today, I’ll now proceed to scour my resources for stuff that interests me…

Very happy to see the Senate pass SB 253(McBride), which ultimately conveys a parcel of property to Faithful Friends. Anyone who knows anything about Faithful Friends knows that they perform an invaluable public service in providing care and adoption services for stray and abandoned pets. A humane no-kill shelter with some of the finest staff and volunteers you’ll ever meet. I find it ironic that the three senators who voted no reside in an area known for housing Delaware’s worst (only?) puppy mills.

The FY ’15 Budget Bill was introduced and laid on the table in the Senate.  If you have time, read the Epilog Language. That’s where all the sneaky stuff usually is.

Yay! HB 331(Kowalko) unanimously passed the House yesterday!  The bill requires that both the University of Delaware and Del State comply with FOIA. And, unless I misread it, the House Amendment voted onto the bill strengthens the bill. The University must really have pissed off some important people.

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 18, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 18, 2014 5 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Weds., June 18, 2014

The most DIY Edition ever. I almost never have to go to work this early. But, today I do. It’s up to you, dear readers to provide content, snark, context, and that je ne sais quoi that I bring. Here are the raw materials I work with on a daily basis….

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General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 17, 2014

Filed in Delaware by on June 17, 2014 9 Comments
General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Tues., June 17, 2014

Roads Held Hostage: Day…um, I Lost Count. Seven legislative days remain, still no word of any sort of fix to the $70 (or $90) million hole in the State’s transportation/infrastructure budget. Looks like we’re getting in ‘patch, then kick the can down the road’ territory. The very idea that D’s can’t or won’t tout a needed $70 (or $90) mill road repair/jobs program pretty much defines what’s wrong with Delaware’s brand of ‘Democrat’. BTW, since it looks like the 495 repair will cost somewhere around $20 mill, I’m hedging my bets as to whether the hole in our transportation funding is $70 mill or $90 mill.

OK, there are only a few ways that I can write the same story day after day. Whether I’ll run out of ways to write it before a fix is arrived at remains to be seen. Check back tomorrow.

Oopsies. Did I say tomorrow? Breaking news, and it ain’t good.  A real bleak fiscal picture, must-reading for anyone interested in what’s gonna get funded and what will not. Here’s the takeaway quote:

“The problem is that no one wants to raise taxes for anything. You don’t want to raise the gas tax. You don’t want to raise income taxes. You don’t want a sales tax. You don’t want any of these taxes, but you still want the infrastructure,” Bhatt told lawmakers.

Speaking of infrastructure, DELDOT’s capital proposal is $128 mill, $70 mill less than last year’s. Revenue-shifting and the General Assembly’s refusal to even consider a gas tax will mean deteriorating roads, bridges and infrastructure. Hey, hopefully they’ll be out of office when stuff actually falls down. Then they can blame it on someone else. Cowardice. Proof that these election-obsessives don’t live in a reality-based world.

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