Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gone Blue

Just a few comments on the races in Wisconsin, where I live now, and Iowa, where I lived for most of the 80s and 90s:

Republican J.B. Van Hollen pulled out the attorney general's race up here by 9,000 votes out of 2.1 million cast, beating Dane County executive Kathleen Falk in a race that wasn't called officially until 6:15 this morning. Van Hollen, a 2002 Bush appointee to the U.S. attorney's office for western Wisconsin, paints himself as a tough prosecutor--which, coming from a Republican, means lock 'em all up and throw away the key, even it if mean we have to build prisons on every street corner to do it, with money borrowed from the Chinese because the state doesn't have enough. From Van Hollen, it also means extra vigilance against terrorists, who want to contaminate the precious bodily fluids of Wisconsin's children, or something. What it means most of all is that every decision Van Hollen makes as AG, every press conference he holds, will be with an eye toward the 2010 governor's race.

The advisory referendum on the death penalty passed here also, by something like 59-41 percent. Because newly reelected Governor Doyle would have to sign the law, and he won't, capital punishment will not be reinstated here until at least 2011--but there will be plenty of demagoguery about "the will of the people" before then, and how Doyle is subverting it. The referendum stipulates that conclusive DNA evidence would be required in order for a death sentence to be passed. That probably made many yes voters feel more comfortable with capital punishment--because using DNA means the punishment will be backed by science--yet I wonder how many of the same yes voters share the general Republican anti-science attitude. How come evolution is a crock but DNA evidence isn't?

Iowa's gone blue again. Not only did Democrats hold the governor's mansion, but they picked up two seats in the House. Dave Loebsack beat Jim Leach, who had served something like 15 terms. Leach's district was redrawn in 2000, removing the more conservative Quad-Cities area and adding the more liberal Iowa City area, and as a result, Leach has been on the bubble for the last three elections. The bubble burst last night. Congressman Jim Nussle left Congress to run for governor--and his seat went Democratic also.

As I write this, news has come down that Donald Rumsfeld is quitting as Secretary of Defense. This is probably at least in part an attempt to shift the news cycle, as Karl Rove likes to do--but you can bet it's also got something to do with the Democratic sweep of the House last night.

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