Sunday, July 26, 2015

2014 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

The American Conservative Union has long been the premier organization rating members of Congress on how conservative their voting records are.  Recently, ACU began rating state legislators on their voting records, and it just released its third ratings of the Michigan state legislature.  I will summarize the relevant information here.

ACU State Ratings 2014--MI

ACU rated 12 house votes and 13 senate votes from 2013 and 2014.  Ten of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (3 votes), spending (3), and regulation (3).  The most common topic for the state senate votes were taxes (4 votes) and spending (4).

ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2013/2014:

100%: Pavlov, Emmons, Moolenaar
92%: Colbeck, Brandenberg, Rocca, Robertson, Proos, Jones, Schuitmaker, Green, Booher
85%: Marleau, Hune, Jansen, Hildenbrand, Meekhof
77%: Pappageorge, Kowall, Caswell, Richardville, Nofs, Kahn, Hansen, Walker, Casperson
62%: Hunter
31-33%: Hopgood, Andersen, Ananich
23%: Bieda
15-17%: Young, Johnson, Gregory, Warren, Whitmer
8-9%: Hood, Smith

The average for the Republicans was 86%, up from 78%.  The average for the democrats was 23%, up from 9%.  The overall average was 66%, up from 59%.

The biggest changes from 2012/13 were Hunter (+49), Hopgood (+25), and Casperson (+21).

The improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.  Tupak Hunter does seem to have genuinely swung to the right.

The previous years' scores are available at the links at the bottom.

ACU Michigan state house ratings 2013/2014 (rounded to nearest 8%):

100%: Lund, Nesbitt
92%: Howrylak, Zorn, O'Brien, MacGregor, Hooker, Pscholka, Genetski, Kelly, Johnson, Franz, Rendon, Foster
83%: Forlini, Farrington, Lafontaine, Goike, Kesto, McCready, Kurtz, Shirkey, Outman, Yonker, Pagel, Lauwers, Daley, Callton, Victory, Leonard, Bumstead, MacMaster, McBroom
75%: Walsh, Heise, Somerville, Crawford, Rogers, Haines, Kowall, McMillin, Jacobsen, Denby, Graves, Jenkins, Lori, Bolger, Poleski, Verhuelen, Brown, Glardon, Lyons, Price, Haveman, Stamas, Cotter, Potvin, Schmidt, Dianda
67%: Clemente, Haugh, Muxlow, Lamonte, Brunner, Pettalia, Kivela
58%: Kosowski, Lavoy, Greimel, Smiley, Driskell, Cochran, Oakes
50%: Nathan, Darany, Slavens, Phelps, McCann, Abed, Brinks
42%: Knezek, Kandrevas, Lane, Rutledge, Segal, Dillon
33%: Olumba, Cavanaugh, Yanez, Stanley,
25%: Robinson, Durhal, Stallworth, Geiss, Townsend, Lipton, Irwin, Zemke, Schor
17%: Tlaib, Santana, Hobbs, Barnett, Faris, Singh, Hovey-Wright
8%: Roberts, Switalski
0%: Banks, Talabi

The house average was 62%, up from 53%.  The average for (current) house Republicans was 82%, up from 75%. The average for current house democrats was 39%, up from 29%.  Both caucuses were closer to the center that their senate counterparts, particularly the democrats.

The members who scored 100% are (term-limited) Pete Lund and Aric Nesbitt.  The lowest-scoring Republicans were Paul Muxlow and Peter Pettalia at 67%.  The top-scoring democrats were Terry Brown (term-limited, lost a state senate race) and Scott Dianda at 75%.

The largest positive changes were Clemente (+47), Haugh (+46), Brown (+45), Darany (+40), Kosowski (+33), McCready (+33), Zorn (+32), Lori (+30), Kivela (+29), Kandrevas (+27), Howrylak (+27), Rutledge (+27), Foster (+27), Slavens (+25), Nesbitt (+25), Forlini (+23), McBroom (+23), O'Brien (+22), Pscholka (+22), Brunner (+22), Johnson (+22).  Several of them faced competitive primary or general elections.

The largest negative change was Faris (-21).

As with the senate scores, the improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.

Of course, the usual caveats apply to any legislative ratings system. Legislators' scores will vary from year to year, so it will be interesting to compare these scores to future years' scores. Also, ratings only cover issues that were actually voted upon, so controversial issues that never made it to a vote can't be scored.

Nonetheless, ratings such as this are a valuable tool for voters in future elections.

Previous:
2012-2013 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated July 22, 2015.

Michigan will see several elections in 2015. This is a preview of elections in Kalamazoo County.   The November election will have Kalamazoo and Portage city elections.

February 24: Kalamazoo Township passed a road millage.

May 5: Proposal 1 would have raised Michigan taxes by 2 billion per year to pay for road improvements and many other things.  It was defeated 20%-80%.  There was a KRESA millage that narrowly passed.

August 4: There will be a bus tax millage on the ballot in much of Kalamazoo County.
Pay for Your Own Buses!

November 3: This is the day for local city elections.

Kalamazoo City Commission

All seven seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor Bobby Hopewell (on since 2003), Don Cooney (1997), David Anderson (2005), Barb Miller (2005), Robert Cinabro (2010), Jack Urban (2013), and Eric Cunningham (2015). Cunningham was appointed to replace Stephanie Moore, who was elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission.

In 2014, Kalamazoo voters passed a charter amendment changing the charter by electing the mayor separately and implementing staggered four-year terms for the other seats (similar to the system Portage uses).  This year, all six commissioners will be elected together, with the top three winning four-year terms, and the next three winning two-year terms.

Hopewell, who has been mayor since 2007, is running again.  He is being challenged by Kris Mbah.  Both are black liberal democrats.

Cooney, Anderson, Urban, and Cunningham are seeking reelection as commissioners, while Miller and Cinabro are not.  Twelve other candidates are running:

Leona Carter: travel trainer/outreach specialist for Disability Network of Southwest Michigan
Cody Dekker: community organizer
Grant Fletcher: director food and nutrition and retail services for Bronson Methodist Hospital
Timothy Graham: politics unknown
Sonjalita Hulbert: supervisor with Coventry Cares health services, mainstream Republican
Erin Knott: Obamacare enrollment organizer
Jason Milan: small business owner
Matthew Milcarek: construction manager and frequent Mlive commenter
Kevin Staten: politics unknown
Shannon Sykes: social justice consultant
Daniel VanSweden: politics unknown
Reid Youngs: politics unknown

16 candidates file Kalamazoo City Commission, 2 for mayor

Portage City Council

The mayor of Portage, Peter Strazdas (mayor since 2005), is running unopposed for reelection. Three of the six seats on the commission were also up for election. Those seats are held by Patricia Randall (2009), Jim Pearson (2011), and Richard Ford (2013), who are all running for reelection.  Ford was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Elizabeth Campbell.

In recent years, a divide has developed on the council between two factions.  One faction consists of Strazdas and councilmembers Claudette Reid and Terry Urban.  The other consists of councilmembers Randall, Pearson, Ford, and Nasim Ansari. Strazdas is a moderate Republican, while the others do not strongly identify with a party.

There are two other candidates for council:
Jeff Bright: financial advisor
Tim Earl: fire safety consultant

Five file for three four-year terms on Portage City Council; Strazdas unopposed for mayor

There will be a proposal on the ballot to decriminalize marijuana in Portage.

Marijuana decriminalization will be on November ballot in Portage

Homeless Tax

There will be a tax increase on the ballot countywide to support homeless families.

Tax to assist homeless Kalamazoo County families headed to Nov. 3 ballot

Upton 56% Conservative in 2014

Congressman Fred Upton scored a 56% rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) in 2014.  These are the votes rated by ACU where he voted the wrong way.

--------------------------------------

1. HR 3547 (Roll Call 21) Omnibus Appropriations. This $1.1 trillion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014 increased spending by $45 billion over the Budget Control Act of 2011 with a massive increase of 25-29% for Obama Administration programs in the Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education and State Department sections. It also included bills that have nothing to do with appropriations, such as an extension of flood insurance subsidies. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret and passed with no amendments allowed. The House passed the bill on January 15, 2014 by a vote of 359-67.

3. HR 2642 (Roll Call 31) Farm Bill. This bill is the final version of the farm bill that replaces direct payments to farmers with a more expensive increase in crop insurance subsidies with no caps on subsidies for wealthy farm corporations. ACU has long opposed these Depressionera programs and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on January 29, 2014 by a vote of 251-166.

6. H Con Res 96 (Roll Call 175) Conservative Budget. The Woodall amendment to the budget bill presented a conservative alternative that would have balanced the budget in four years by freezing domestic spending at $60 billion below current levels, reformed entitlement programs, and eliminated wasteful programs that ACU has long opposed. ACU supported this alternative as a reasonable attempt to stop increases in our national debt which reached $18 trillion in 2014.The House defeated the amendment on April 10, 2014 by a vote of 133-291.

11. HR 4660 (Roll Call 243) Wasteful Spending. The Pompeo amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated the Economic Development Administration and used the funds to reduce the deficit. ACU has long opposed this agency that uses taxpayer money for pork barrel projects that serve as monuments to politicians, such as the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in Las Vegas, and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 129-280.

13. HR 4660 (Roll Call 253) Legal Services Corporation. The Austin Scott amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated funding for the Legal Services Corporation. ACU has long opposed funding for this agency that has not been authorized by Congress for the last 34 years and is filled with waste and fraud and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 116-290.

15. HR 4745 (Roll Call 274) Government Housing Programs. The Chabot amendment to the Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill would have reduced the Section 8 housing voucher program by 10 percent and apply the funds to deficit reduction. ACU opposes welfare programs that have no time limits or work requirements and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 9, 2014 by a vote of 127-279.

20. HR 4870 Roll Call 334) Biofuel Mandates. The Gosar amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill would prohibit the Defense Department from using biofuels instead of far less expensive petroleum based fuels. ACU opposes diverting funds that should go for national security purposes to politically-motivated global warming programs and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 20, 2014 by a vote of 205-208.

21. HR 4923 (Roll Call 377) Energy Subsidies. The McClintock amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill eliminates $3 billion in energy subsidies. ACU opposes these programs that pick winners and losers in the marketplace and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 9, 2014 by a vote of 97-321.

22. HR 4923 (Roll Call 388) Labor Law. The Steve King amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill would have barred the use of funds to enforce the DavisBacon Act. ACU has long opposed this act’s requirement to pay “prevailing wages” on federal projects, thus driving up their cost, and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 10, 2014 by a vote of 181-239.

24. HR 5272 (Roll Call 479) Immigration. This bill reverses President Obama’s Executive order deferring action on some illegal immigrants but not others. ACU opposes this type of executive action that allows the president to change existing law without legislation and supported this bill. The House passed the bill on August 1, 2014 by a vote of 216-192.

25. HR 83 (Roll Call 563) Omnibus Appropriations. This 1,600 page bill uses $19 billion in budget gimmicks to comply with spending caps, increases funding for pork barrel programs such as Community Development Block Grants and includes hundreds of pages of bills that have nothing to do with appropriations and that have not been voted on by either the House or Senate. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret with no amendments allowed and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on December 11, 2014 by a vote of 219-206.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Schuitmaker Repeats 'One in Five' Myth

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is co-hosting "Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder's inaugural sexual assault prevention summit".
Schuitmaker said one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus, and out of those women, only 12 percent actually report a sexual assault. She said the culture has to improve so that victims feel they are taken seriously and feel comfortable reporting sexual assaults, in order to improve the accuracy of reporting statistics.
One way to improve the accuracy of statistics is to stop repeating debunked ones.  The claim that "one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus" is false. The actual number is 6.1 per 1000, or about 1 in 164, according to a Justice Department study.
The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).
This myth originated with a fake feminist 'study' that intentionally misclassified non-rape as rape. This myth has been used to create hysteria on campuses and support false rape accusations, such as at University of Virginia. Hopefully, Senator Schuitmaker will avoid repeating this false statistic in the future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is Fred Upton More Conservative?

One of the arguments used by conservative supporters of Congressman Fred Upton is that Upton is more conservative now than he used to be.  Is there any merit to this argument?

To analyze this claim, we consider ratings issued by conservative groups over the years.  This will make it easy to spot any trend.

Of course, the usual caveats apply.  These ratings are calculated based on a selection of votes.  The votes rated each year are different, but these groups use fairly consistent standards that allow comparison over time.

First up is American Conservative Union (ACU), which has been rating Congress since the 1970s.  Their ratings for Upton's entire tenure are graphed below.


A linear regression line is graphed along with the data.  As you can see, the line is virtually flat, indicating no substantial change.  There is actually a very slight decrease over time.

Upton's two best ratings occurred in 2002 and 2010, both of which were years when Upton received serious primary challenges from the right.

Many conservatives consider ACU's ratings too generous.  More recently, several other organizations have begun their own ratings of Congress.  FreedomWorks is a libertarian-leaning organization that has rated Congress since 2005.


Once again, the regression line is essentially flat.  Upton's best year is also 2010.

Club for Growth is a free market organization that has also rated Congress since 2005.


Here we do see an upward trend, but Upton 2014 rating ties for his worst, so there isn't much reason to expect the trend to continue.

Some supporters of Upton will cite his endorsements by Right to Life in 2012 and 2014, after not having been endorsed in any previous years, as evidence of improvement.  But this blog has documented Upton's long pro-abortion voting record in the past.  He has not publicly renounced these votes, which leads to the suspicion that Right to Life's endorsement was based on political considerations.

In fairness, there is one major issue on which Upton's record actually has gotten better.  Upton once had a very weak record on gun rights, with a 42% rating from the NRA in 2000.  Since then, his ratings have improved.  Upton usually votes the party line, but is not a leader on the issue.

Overall, though, Upton has not gotten any more conservative over the years.  The claim to the contrary is false.

Upton Votes for Illegal Aliens in the Military

Congressman Fred Upton was one of just twenty Republicans to vote for letting illegal aliens join the military.  The vote would have actually put illegals ahead of Americans.  Upton was the only Republican from Michigan to vote this way.

20 TRAITORS: REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED TO GUT AMERICA’S MILITARY USING AMNESTIED ILLEGAL ALIENS
More Memorial Day Meditations: Electing a New, Illegal Alien Military—With RINO Support

------------------------------

Despite 20 Republicans defecting to join Democrats, Republicans and conservatives won big on Thursday evening: An amendment from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) passed onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stripping amnesty for illegal aliens from the defense bill.

Brooks’ amendment, which stripped from the NDAA language that was inserted during the Armed Services Committee markup by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) —a freshman liberal Democrat who wants to amnesty all the illegal aliens in America—passed the House of Representatives 221-202 on Thursday evening.

“Today is a great victory for Americans and lawful immigrants who wish to serve America in our Armed Forces,” Brooks said in a statement after the vote. “I asked my colleagues to consider how much American families are struggling in an anemic job and wage market and how much the Gallego amendment makes job and income prospects for Americans even worse. It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who seek to help illegal aliens deprive American citizens and lawful immigrants of military service opportunities. I’m pleased the House chose to stand up for American citizens and protect the Constitutional duty of Congress to set immigration law. Today’s vote was the fourth rejection of the President’s unconstitutional DACA program, with Republicans overwhelming standing up for the will of the American people and the citizens and lawful immigrants who want to serve our country.”

Gallego’s amendment would have allowed illegal aliens who have received President Obama’s first executive amnesty—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which some 800,000 or so illegal aliens have received—to enlist in the United States military. It would have come with an NDAA that reduces America’s force size—meaning the NDAA would have, if it weren’t for the Brooks amendment bolstered by conservatives like Reps. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Dave Brat (R-VA) among others, put illegal aliens ahead of Americans. What’s more, it would have used a defense bill—rather than an immigration bill—to do it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Senate Passes Prevailing Wage Repeal

The state senate passed a repeal of the prevailing wage law, which forces the government to overpay for construction projects.  The bill passed 22-15, with five Republicans voting no.
Five Republicans - Sens. Mike Kowall of White Lake, Tom Casperson of Escanaba, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights and Dale Zorn of Ida - joined all the Democrats in opposing the three bills.
Many of them previously opposed Right to Work.

Kowall - supported Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Casperson - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Nofs - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Rocca - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Zorn - opposed Right to Work (in the state house) - up for re-election in 2018

Notably, Mike Green and Ken Horn, who voted against Right to Work, voted for this bill.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Vote NO on Proposal 1!

Proposal 1 is on the ballot statewide on May 5. It would increase sales taxes from 6% to 7%, and also increase gas taxes and other fees. This would total two billion dollars each year. Of that, 40% goes to non-transportation spending, and some of the transportation spending does not go to roads. The proposal would also activate ten laws that were passed by the legislature. You can find more information at
https://michigantaxpayers.com/
http://saynotohighertaxes.org/

There will also be a KRESA tax increase on the ballot in school districts based in Kalamazoo County. It would be passed through to the districts to increase their budgets.

Please vote NO on both of these tax increases.

UPDATE:  Proposal 1 was destroyed with 80% voting against.  It lost every county and every major city except Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and Kalamazoo (which all contain major universities).  Now the dems are telling us that this was a rejection of Republicans (so why did dem legislators vote for it?)  Meanwhile, the major media (which endorsed it) says that this was not a rejection of tax increases.  Conservatives need to watch the legislature carefully and push for spending cuts, not tax increases, to provide additional money for road repair.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

What's going on at Kalamazoo College?  K College is a far left elite private college just west of downtown Kalamazoo.  It was originally founded as a Baptist college, but that influence is long gone, replaces by progressivism, social justice, gay rights, anti-racism, and all the trendy cultural Marxism common on campus.

Kalamazoo College students start #UnsafeAtK social media campaign, say they feel threatened
Meeting about minority student safety at Kalamazoo College draws more than 100 students
Kalamazoo College officials address #UnsafeAtK social media campaign in campus-wide email
Security increased at Kalamazoo College after online threat to 'start systematically executing faculty'
'Don't let them win': Solidarity sought at Kalamazoo College in aftermath of online shooting threat
Kalamazoo College threats: Investigators hope Internet trail will lead them to suspect
Despite threat, Kalamazoo College students who have experienced racism push for intercultural center
Kalamazoo College students rally over concerns about racism and marginalization, push for intercultural center

The current controversy involves a student who is a gun rights activist.  He has advocated for open carry on K's campus, a noble but hopeless cause at an extremely left-wing private college.  In late February, he asked the student government for support for this cause.  They predictably declined, and launched a flurry of insults, as reported by Campus Reform.



What the student said was
If you have a problem with me, please come talk to me.  This is disgraceful.
Or, as student government official Rian Brown recalled it,
When the student government declined to support the group, the student "basically flashed his empty holster at the entire commission and directly threatened all the people of color in the room," Brown said.
As recorded in the audio, Brown then launched a flurry of insults at the gun rights advocate, calling him racist, sexist, and homophobic, despite the fact that he never mentioned any of those issues.  She even accused him of wanting to murder her.

It doesn't seem a stretch to call her insane.

Brown resigned her position in the student government soon after, claiming that "black and brown bodies" didn't feel safe on campus.  She then started the hashtag #unsafeatK on twitter, which attracted the attention of the Kalamazoo Gazette (Mlive).  They reported her allegations without much skepticism.

This resulted in an emotional meeting between students and administration, and a campus-wide email from the administration.

There are certainly real concerns about security around Kalamazoo College, as these articles indicate.  None of the articles indicate the race of the attackers, though several commenters indicate that they are black.

The controversy seemed to be dying down, until an anonymous threat was posted on the student commission Google doc on March 4:
K-College officials learned early Wednesday that a "highly inflammatory entry" had been posted in the Student Commission Google Doc, an online collaboration tool that allows for group sharing and anonymous editing, according to an email to the campus community.

"The entry is racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic" and included a direct threat to K-College faculty, the email stated. 
 The post, which included "vitriol aimed at a wide range of campus members," included the following line, according to another email, this one from the president's staff to K-College faculty and staff: "At 900AM 3/5/15 I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry." Neither email repeated the entire posting.
Police are investigating the threat, but have not yet identified a suspect.

At this point, we should note that virtually every racial 'hate crime' on a college campus has been proven to be a hoax.  As noted by National Review, The College FixMichelle Malkin and Ann Coulter:
Instead, all the hair-on-fire college rape stories have been scams: the Duke lacrosse team’s gang-rape of a stripper; Lena Dunham’s rape by Oberlin College’s “resident Republican,” Barry; and Rolling Stone‘s fraternity gang-rape at UVA. Two of the three were foisted on the publicand disproved in publiconly in the last few weeks.

The only epidemic sweeping the nation seems to be Munchausen rape syndrome. What’s next, college noose hoaxes?
The portions of the message quoted in the Gazette article sound like they were written to implicate gun rights supporters.  Who would be most likely to know about the student commission Google doc?  Also, who benefits from the attention and sympathy the threat provokes?

Leftists on Kalamazoo College's campus are campaigning for an "intercultual center".  It's hard to determine what exactly that means.  Brown describes it as
a safe place for students of color to go to on campus
So would white people be banned from the center?  Or just discouraged?  Will the students be demanding separate bathrooms and drinking fountains next?
The group's list of demands include having an interim intercultural center by the start of the 2015-16 school year, increased transparency from the college regarding intercultural and diversity research and planning, and that the college require all faculty, staff administrators and student leaders to participate in anti-racism training.
One student recounts her horrifying experience with racism:
"I've had professors ask what am I, as opposed to where am I from," Solis said. "Replying to them 'student' or 'a woman' is not sufficient for them. When they ask me, 'Where are you from' and I say 'Chicago,' I receive, 'Where are you really from?'"
So basically, they were racist for caring too much about diversity.

So far, the administration hasn't given in to the students' demands, but I wouldn't bet that they won't.  Do parents know what education their children are getting for over $40,000 per year?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where Did Lorence Wenke’s Votes Come From?

The closest state legislative race in Michigan in 2014 was in state senate district 20, which is coterminous with Kalamazoo County. The district was vacated by Republican senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who ran for reelection in a neighboring district due to redistricting.

The Republican candidate was 61st district state rep Margaret O’Brien of Portage. The democrat candidate was 60th district state rep Sean McCann of Kalamazoo. Both are fairly typical representatives of their parties.

Aside from the closeness of the race, there was another complicating factor. Former state rep Lorence Wenke ran as a Libertarian after having originally filed to run in the Republican primary. Wenke was a moderate Republican state rep 2002-2008. He had an eclectic platform emphasizing support for gay rights and support for cutting government employee benefits. In the course of the campaign, he announced support for several tax increases and other un-libertarian policies.

The election results, after a recount, were

O’Brien 36645 (45.6%)
McCann 36584 (45.5%)
Wenke 7171 (8.9%)

The following map shows the average Republican performance by precinct for five 2014 election (Governor, SOS, AG, US Senate, US House). Each darker shade of red represents a 5% PVI range. (For example, the darkest shade of red represents precincts 15-20% more Republican than the county as a whole.) Each darker shade of blue represents a 5% PVI range, except that black represents 35-50% more democrat than the county as a whole.


The city of Kalamazoo is heavily democrat, with minority areas particularly so. The most Republican areas are rural townships and some upscale lake areas. Among closer suburbs, Portage leans Republican and Oshtemo and Comstock are close to even.

Here is a map of the results in the state senate race by precinct.

Superficially, the results appear very similar to the other countywide elections.

We can measure candidates’ performance in precincts relative to the GOP average and their overall performance. Break down the precincts into four categories relative to the partisan average:

less than 95% (orange)
95-100% (yellow)
100-105% (light green)
more than 105% (green)

Here is O’Brien’s relative performance.


O’Brien overperfomed in Alamo, Brady, Charleston, Climax, Prairie Ronde, Texas, Wakeshma, and Portage

Here is McCann’s relative performance.

McCann overperfomed in the city of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township.

Where did Wenke do best? His top precinct was the city of Galesburg (18.8%). Most of Wenke’s top precincts are in his old district (the eastern half of the county).

Wenke got 11.6% in the 63rd state house district.
Wenke got 8.4% in the 61st district.
Wenke got 7.6% in the 60th district.
Wenke got 9.1% in the 66th district.

Break his precincts in four categories:
less than 7% (orange)
7-9% (yellow)
9-11% (light green)
more than 11% (dark green)


The narrow result naturally raises the question of what effect Wenke had on the election. Short of asking all of Wenke’s voters, we can’t know for sure who they would have supported in a two-way race.

The conventional wisdom is that Wenke took votes from O’Brien. This is because Wenke used to be a Republican, he represented a mostly Republican area, and libertarians are usually closer to Republicans on the issues.

I examined the results precinct-by-precinct to see what could be learned. I calculated a GOP average by precinct based on the other five countywide races. Scaling this by the total votes O’Brien and McCann received, I projected how their votes should have been distributed. I compared this with Wenke’s performance in each precinct.

Consider Galesburg, Wenke’s top precinct (18.8%). O’Brien got 99.7% of her projected total. McCann got 85.9% of his projected total. This strongly implies that Wenke’s voters would have supported McCann.

There were 20 precincts where Wenke got more than 11%. O’Brien overperformed in 6 of them and underperformed in 12 of them (2 with less than 95% of her projected total.) McCann overperformed in 1 of them and underperformed in 19 of them (12 with less than 95% of his projected total.)

There were 20 precincts where Wenke got less than 7%. O’Brien overperformed in 7 of them and underperformed in 13 of them (9 with less than 95% of her projected total.) McCann overperformed in 18 of them (8 with more than 105% of his projected total.) and underperformed in 2 of them.

McCann underperformed in most precincts where Wenke got more than 11%, and overperformed in most precincts where Wenke got less than 7%. The same is not true for O’Brien. This strongly implies that Wenke took significantly more votes from McCann. Since O’Brien won by only 61 votes, Wenke cost McCann the election. Wenke appears to have done best with democrats in his former state house district.

Wenke absolute performance versus McCann relative performance

An analysis by Gongwer reached the same conclusion using poor reasoning. They correctly noted that McCann did worse than democrat state house candidates. But this does not prove that Wenke’s votes came from McCann, since he could just have been a weaker candidate (or O’Brien stronger). Using different races in different parts of the county is bad methodology, especially when two (60, 63) were uncompetitive and one (61) had a substantial Libertarian vote.

In the 61st state house district, the results were 48.4% Iden, 42.7% Fisher, 8.9% Stampfler. Notably, the correlation between Wenke and Stampfler in the 61st was only r=.032, implying that their supporters voted for them as individuals, not libertarians.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Upton Votes for Amnesty

While the majority of Americans, much less the majority of Republicans, are opposed to amnesty, the elites remain in favor of importing a new people.  Despite repeated attempts, amnesty has never made it through Congress due to public opposition.

Obama has been sabotaging immigration enforcement for years, and has more recently issued unconstitutional orders claiming to give legal status to millions of illegal aliens.  This is an attack on the Constitution and the rule of law.  So far, the response from congressional Republicans has been weak at best.  Some seem more sympathetic to their rich donors than their constituents struggling to find good jobs.

Recently the House GOP pushed a bill to defund Obama's executive amnesty.  Incredibly, 26 house Republicans voted to support Obama's unconstitutional attack on their own power.  The only one from Michigan is Fred Upton.

26 REPUBLICANS VOTE AGAINST BLACKBURN AMENDMENT TO DEFUND OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS

Upton has been promising various leftist groups that he will support amnesty for several years now.  Too bad he won't stick up for the people who voted for him.

Previous:
Upton for Amnesty
Upton on Immigration
Upton on Invasion

Political Bites

A few short items:

Sentences we never thought we'd read:
Prior to the motion to elect Heppler, commissioner Stephanie Moore, D-Kalamazoo, made a motion to elect commissioner Dale Shugars, R-Portage, to the post.
Stephanie Moore's candidates for county administrator:
"I'm looking for wide enough reach to create a diversified pool of people of color and a hippy here or there, or something," Moore said.
Eric Cunningham selected for appointment to Kalamazoo City Commission

He was picked over several better-known contenders.  It isn't known yet whether he will run for a full term.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pay for Your Own Buses!

Once again, the local transportation authority is trying to raise taxes for bus service in Kalamazoo County.

Major Kalamazoo-area bus routes could be eliminated as townships balk on millage request

Previous attempts to establish a countywide authority were shot down by taxpayers, with rural townships voting heavily against the system.  So the county commission authorized a district that excludes many of the more rural parts of the county.  The new district more closely matches the areas serviced by buses, but still includes some rural and suburban areas that wouldn't benefit from the service.  They would still have the pay, though.

This latest scheme has run into trouble, as several townships have opted out of the district.  Texas and Pavillion have opted out the one precinct that was included, and Oshtemo opted out the majority of the township, which is not serviced by buses.

The authority was planning to ask for a tax increase in May, but this has been pushed back to August to avoid competing with the sales tax hike on the ballot in May.

The main beneficiaries of the West Main route in Oshtemo are Meijer and WalMart (and their customers). Why can't these big corporations pay for their own bus service? This bus route is essentially a government subsidy to business. Would they really let this route disappear if it meant a substantial loss of business?

It isn't fair to the taxpayers to make them pay to support these businesses. It's particularly unfair to make people in precincts 3 and 9 pay for a route they won't use. (I suspect most people using this route are coming from Kalamazoo.)

WMU pays Metro Transit for its bus service. Why can't other businesses, KVCC, and large apartment complexes do the same?

Previous:
Bus Tax Plan
Bus Tax Never Dies
Bus Tax Zone
More Bus Taxes
Taxes on the Ballot
Tax Hike Plans
Future Tax Hikes?
They Won't Take NO for an Answer
Tax Eaters Are Never Full
The bus routes have been saved
Ax the bus tax
Tax increase for busing?

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Conservative of the Year: Dave Brat

2014 was a great year for Republicans, as the GOP won control of the US Senate, and picked up governorships and seats in the US House.  The results for conservatives, however, were more mixed.  The GOP establishment pushed aggressively against conservatives in primaries and won many of them.

The biggest conservative primary victory was Dave Brat's defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  Brat was an obscure economics professor at a small college who took on one of the most powerful men in Washington.  Cantor had become a creature of Washington and grown distant from his constituents.

But Brat didn't just run against Cantor.  He ran on a platform of conservative populism.  He opposed amnesty and mass immigration, pointing out the harmful impact on American workers.  He also opposed corporate welfare and bailouts as a tool that the rich use to steal from average taxpayers.

Dave Brat created a successful template for conservatives to win primaries and general elections, while defeating one of the most powerful men in Washington.  He is 2014's conservative of the year.

Previous winners (including retroactive):
2013: Jeff Sessions
2012: Ted Cruz
2011: Scott Walker
2010: Jim DeMint
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Ron Paul
2006: Jerome Corsi
2005: Tom Tancredo
2004: John O'Neill
2003: Roy Moore
2002: John Ashcroft
2001: George W. Bush
2000: William Rehnquist

The Best of the Western Right: 2014

In 2014, this blog had 55 posts, which primarily focused on the 2014 election. Here are some of the best of 2014.

2014 Post-election Analysis
Conservatives Win in November
Michigan 2014 Election Results
Lessons from the Primary Election
2014 August Primary Election Results

2014 Fundraising Analysis
Michigan Pre-General Fundraising Reports
Michigan Post-primary Fundraising Reports
Michigan State House Fundraising
Michigan State Senate Fundraising

2014 Pre-election Analysis
2014 Michigan General Election Preview
2014 Michigan Primary Election Preview
2014 Michigan Congressional Races
2014 Michigan State Senate Elections
2014 Michigan State House Elections (general)
2014 Michigan State House Elections (primary)
2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Elections

Lorence Wenke: Not Libertarian
Lorence Wenke: DLTDHYOTWO
Terrorist Bill Ayers to Speak at WMU
Stephanie Moore's Rap Sheet

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Conservatives Win in November

Republicans won a big victory in November in Michigan. They held all their statewide offices and Congressional seats. They also held all their current state legislative seats, gaining one in the Senate and four in the House. They now have at 27-11 supermajority in the Senate and a 63-47 majority in the House. More importantly, conservatives gained seats within the Republican caucus. All eight candidates endorsed by Madison Project Michigan won in November. Congratulations to Pat Colbeck, Lana Theis, Jim Runestad, Jason Sheppard, Tom Barrett, Cindy Gamrat, Gary Glenn, and Triston Cole.

One key test of how conservative the new Republican caucuses are is the leadership elections held two days after the election. The new Senate majority leader will be Arlan Meekhof, who is more conservative than previous leader Randy Richardville. The new Speaker of the House will be Kevin Cotter, the more conservative of the two candidates, who opposed Medicaid expansion and Common Core. This victory was made possible thanks to conservatives winning key primaries.

Of course, we can't rest easy. The legislature may still try to raise gas taxes or discriminate against Christian businesses. Candidates who ran as conservatives may be tempted to 'grow in office' or compromise for the sake of political expediency. We will do our best to hold them accountable if they do.

Thanks to everyone who supported the Madison Project Michigan! We hope that you will support our efforts again in 2016.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Michigan 2014 Election Results

Governor: 51-47 for Rick Snyder.  Much closer than his blowout in 2010, but good enough for a second term.

Senate: 41-55 for Gary Peters.  Peters ran a good campaign.  Land was a disaster.  Maybe someday the Michigan GOP will find a good Senate candidate.

AG: 52-44 for Bill Schuette.  Schuette for Governor in 2018!

SOS: 54-43 for Ruth Johnson over a token opponent.  Perhaps Ruth will challenge Stabenow in 2018.

The two referenda on wolf hunting both failed, 55-45 and 64-36.  Only the opponents of wolf hunting spent money here.

Supreme Court was 32-29-21-14 for Zahra (R,I) and Bernstein (D), who spent 2 million of his own money to win this seat.  David Viviano won the partial term 62-29.

Education Boards.  Republicans appear to have picked a seat on the MSU board with Melanie Foster, but lost all the other ed board seats.  This is very disappointing considering the circumstances.  Third party candidates probably cost us several seats here.

Congress.  As I long predicted, only district 1 was even somewhat close.

1. 52-45 for Benishek.  OK, but not great.  If Benishek keeps his term limits pledge, this seat will be open in 2016.
2. 64-33 for Huizinga
3. 58-39 for Amash.  He’s secure here.
4. 56-39 for Moolenaar.  Secure.
5. 31-67 Kildee
6. 56-40 Upton.  He no longer overperforms like he used to, but Upton is still secure.
7. 53-41 Walberg. He will never win big margins, but he has settled in here.
8. 55-42 Bishop.  Secure.
9. 36-60 for Sander Levin.
10. 69-29 for Candace Miller.  I wish she’d run for Senate.
11. 56-41 Trott.  No word on write-in votes.
12. 31-65 for Debbie Dingell
13. 16-80 for Conyers
14. 20-78 for Lawrence

State Senate.  The GOP actually picked up one seat, winning a 27-11 supermajority (pending a recount in 20).  Looks like the dems two-cycle strategy will need to pick two different cycles.  In competitive districts:

7. 52-48 Colbeck.  Huge hold for conservatives.
13. 58-42 Knollenberg.  Not close after Fishman lost the dem primary.  Good win for conservatives.
17. 51-46 for Dale Zorn.  Close win in a tossup district.
20. 45.52-45.45-9.0 for Margaret O’Brien over Sean McCann and Lorence Wenke.  The 60-vote margin likely means a recount.  A very close win in a district that may be trending away from the GOP.  It isn’t immediately clear who Lorence took from.
24. 56-44 for Rick Jones.  Tom Leonard may run in four years when this is open.
25. 56-44 for Phil Pavlov.  Terry Brown preformed respectably under the circumstances.
31. 56-44 for Mike Green.  Somewhat close.  This will be a tough defense in four years.
32. 54-46 for Ken Horn in another hotly contested tossup.  Republicans have won the last five state senate elections in Saginaw.
34. 56-44 for Geoff Hansen.  Not that close.

There will be a bunch of competitive open seats four years from now, but Senate Republicans look good right now.

State house.  Republicans picked up four seats, expanding their majority to 63-47, same as after 2010.  There will be many tough open seats in 2016 due to term limits of members elected in 2010.

1. 33-67 We’ll have Brian Banks to kick around for another two years.
3-9. Dems won 94-98% in the all-Detroit districts.
21. 45-55 for Kristi Pagan.  This seat was badly drawn; why didn’t the GOP make it all of Canton?
23. 52-48 for Pat Somerville.  This will be a tough open seat in 2016.
25. 47-53 Nick Hawatmeh comes up short in another terribly drawn seat.
30. 55-45 for Jeff Farrington.  This will be another tough open seat in 2016.
39. 52-48 for Klint Kesto
41. 56-44 for Martin Howrylak
43. 58-42 for Jim Tedder.  Dems thought they could win this.
52. 44-56 This could have been close if it was seriously contested.
56. 50-47 for Jason Sheppard in this close open Republican seat.
59. 62-38 for Aaron Miller
60. 30-70 for Jon Hoadley
61. 48-43-9 for Brandt Iden, who was damaged by scandal.
62. 51-49 for John Bizon in a very tough Battle Creek/Albion district.  PICKUP.
63. 56-44 for David Maturen
66. 57-43 for Aric Nesbitt.  This will be a tough open seat in 2016.
67. 46-54 This district is close, but not winnable.
71. 50.4-49.6 for Tom Barrett over Theresa Abed.  Tom is a strong conservative and an exceptional candidate. PICKUP
76. 46-52 Donijoe DeJonge falls short to Winnie Brinks.  This district is probably gone.
80. 63-34 for Cindy Gamrat
82. 55-45 for Todd Courser
84. 59-41 for Edward Canfield.  PICKUP
85. 53-43 for Ben Glardon.  This will be another tough open seat in 2016.
91. 46.5-46.3 for Holly Hughes over Colleen LaMonte. PICKUP
98. 55-45 for Gary Glenn
99. 52-48 for Kevin Cotter, potentially the next Speaker of the Michigan House.  This will be a tough open seat in 2016.
101. 50.4-49.6 for Ray Franz.  A very tough open seat in 2016.
104. 53-47 for Larry Inman.  Surprisingly close.
106. 55-45 for Peter Pettalia.  A tough open seat in 2016.
107. 61-39 for Lee Chatfield

My ratings turned out to be quite accurate.  Every race I had at lean, likely, or safe for a party was won by that party except one (house 62).  I always thought Snyder, Schuette, and Johnson would win, and that no congressional races except MI-1 would be close.  I was initially too optimistic about Land, however.  My state senate tossups had margins of 8, 5, and 0.  My state house tossups had margins of 5, 1, 1, and 0.  The closest margin in a race I had at safe was 6 (house 104).  The closest margin in a race I had at lean (excluding house 62) was 3 (house 56).

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Why Vote for Grant Taylor?

There is a special election for Oshtemo Township Trustee.  The Republican nominee is longtime trustee Dave Bushouse.  The democrat nominee is Grant Taylor.  Who's he?

Grant Taylor is the 30-year-old brother of Kalamazoo democrat chairman John Taylor and son of David Taylor, who was a county commissioner is Cass County.

Four years ago, he announced a run for state representative in the 61st district after moving into the district one day before the filing deadline.  Unfortunately, he forgot the thirty day residency rule.  So he ran as a write-in candidate, and spent $100,000 of his own money to get 737 votes in the democrat primary.

07/27/10 - Hour 2: Democratic State House candidate Grant Taylor
Write-in candidate for Michigan House contributes nearly $106,000 to own campaign
Democrat Grant Taylor drops out of race for state House's 61st District after learning of residency rule
Democrat Grant Taylor to run for Michigan House's 61st District after dropping bid for Kalamazoo County Board

Two years later, he was back, running for Oshtemo Township Treasurer.  He lost the general election by a narrow 1.8% margin.

Now he is running for trustee.  So what are his qualifications?

There is no evidence that he has ever had a paying job.  Four years ago,
He states that he is treasurer of "MAC House charities", an organization that doesn't seem to have any presence online. When asked (see 20:45) about it, he admitted that this is a volunteer position
In his Gazette survey, he does not list a paying job, and he has no website to provide more information about him, either.
When asked about his education, he states that he "went to college in Chicago". He doesn't say what college he went to. He doesn't say that he graduated college, only that he 'went to' college. He doesn't say what he studied. He has stated that he has "experience in finance and accounting ".
How did an unemployed kid get the money to finance his political campaigns?
Grant Taylor, 26, liquidated as well as borrowed against some of his shares in Clarke Power Services Inc. to pay for the donations, said Jeff Parsons, his campaign manager.

Taylor’s father helped found the Cincinnati-based company.
So basically the money came from his father.

Grant Taylor wasted $100,000 on a write-in campaign that was certain to fail.  If he can't even spend his own money wisely, how can he be trusted with Oshtemo taxpayers' money?

Grant is just a spoiled rich kid trying to but himself a political office.

Previous: Who is Grant Taylor?

Lorence Wenke: Not Libertarian

Back in May, Lorence Wenke switched from Republican to Libertarian.  He claims that this move was based in principle, not political convenience.  So how well do his views line up with libertarianism?

Citing GOP opposition to gay rights, state Senate candidate Lorence Wenke leaves Republican Party State Senate hopeful Lorence Wenke says he plans to help build Libertarian Party
Libertarian Lorence Wenke talks split from GOP, minimum wage during Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial Board interview
Election 2014: Libertarian Party looks to make waves in Kalamazoo County after long dormancy
Wenke said he would support expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBT citizens, adding that if no one else introduced the bill, he would do so.
Anti-discrimination laws violate freedom of association, and there is a long libertarian tradition opposing them.

How about the basic free market position of opposing the minimum wage?
Wenke, the owner of Wenke Greenhouses in Comstock Township, said he would have voted yes on the minimum wage increase.
He said the increase will have a significant impact on the payroll businesses, but added that he believes the working poor of the community deserve the raise.
Based on what theory of value?
However, Wenke said he would support indexing minimum wage to half the rate of inflation instead of the full-rate.

"If everything in the country is indexed to inflation, we will have a lot of inflation," Wenke said.
It's safe to say Wenke doesn't understand the causes of inflation, monetary theory, or the federal reserve.
Asked if he believes the argument that raising the minimum wage could lead to businesses being forced to lay off employees, Wenke said he does not.

"I've never seen that in the world I've lived in," Wenke said. "It seems to me that employers need someone to work, the difference between a $1/hour is not going to make the difference in the decision."
Apparently he doesn't understand supply and demand or marginal change either.

How about that classic libertarian issue of legalizing marijuana?
Wenke said if he had to vote today, he would vote against legalizing marijuana. However, he said there is still a significant amount of research to be done on the issue and he is glad that Colorado and Washington – states that have already legalized marijuana -- are taking up that experiment.
At least he opposes raising taxes, right?
Wenke said to improve the roads, the state will have to raise the gas tax up from the current tax of 19 cents per gallon. He said a gradual increase of 6 cents over three years would likely solve most of the funding problems.
Any more?
Wenke said he would support instituting a sales or use tax on all internet transactions in the state of Michigan that would equal the 6 percent sales tax citizens pay in physical stores. Wenke said he introduced a bill while he was a state Rep. that would have made Michigan one of a handful of states urging the federal government to change a law that currently bans such taxes on internet purchases. 
"Those of us who have brick and mortar business that are local, we collect that tax when we sell a product and we're the people that local people go to for employment, for property taxes, for school taxes for charitable donations," Wenke said. "We should not have to charge more than somebody outside of our state has to charge for the same product.
People who don't live in Michigan also don't receive those services.

Wenke has made as issue out of government debt.  How does he propose to address it?
"But now that they're in it, they should choose reducing benefits, they should choose reducing spending in other areas," Wenke said. "If they have to raise taxes on their citizens to provide these benefits, they should choose that. Borrowing money to service debt is what gets businesses in trouble ... We do not want Kalamazoo to go the way of several cities in Michigan which are essentially bankrupt and can't pay their bills.
Does Wenke want to control spending?  How about getting government out of education?
"I think a good argument can be made for more money for K-12 education," Wenke said. "But I think we need some changes made to it before we provide any more money to K-12 education."
How about college spending?
Wenke said one way to make higher education more affordable would be for everyone to pay taxes for community colleges, instead of just those who live near those institutions.
That's four different tax increases, in case you're counting.

How about opposing government control of the economy through environmental regulations?
Wenke said a large part of this issue is getting the rest of the world, such as China, on board with the fighting climate change.
At least he wants to limit the welfare state, right?
As an alternative, Wenke proposed offering free birth control at all pharmacies that fill prescriptions.
These positions don't seem all that libertarian.  What does the Libertarian Party have to say?
Buzuma also said Wenke's ideological deviations are a non-issue. 
"We try to be a large tent," Buzuma said. "We understand that not everyone is going to agree 100 percent with the platform and we accept that as long as they're basically for individual freedom and the human rights and constitutional rights."
Ka-ching!

A commenter is not so generous.
With all due respect, Mr. Wenke is a phony Libertarian candidate. Libertarians support liberty, which means voluntary transactions between consenting, free adults; not government-mandated coercion such as telling employers how much they must pay their employees. The government can intervene when employers force people to work for them no matter what the wage, if any. Slavery is illegal, and it should be, but freedom is a two-way street. Nobody is allowed to force somebody to work for them; nor should anybody be forced to hire somebody based on coercive criteria mandated by a dictatorial government. Never mind that such coercion limits employment opportunities and discourages small businesses in favor of the the too-big-to-jail, too-big-to-fail businesses that make huge campaign contributions in order to protect their government-aided competitive advantages, aka crony capitalism. Wenke's support of a government-mandated wage, as reported in the Oct. 12 Kalamazoo Gazette, disqualifies him as a legitimate Libertarian candidate; rather, it establishes him as a pretender who will say anything and wear any disguise to gain the power of elected office.
Let's get real.  Lorence Wenke was always a moderate Republican.  He never helped or associated with the libertarian or Tea Party wings of the Republican party.  He never fought for limited government in the legislature.  His obsession with two issues that most voters don't care about and his creepy, off-putting personality finally rubbed so many voters the wrong way that he couldn't win any more elections.  He lost his previous bid for state senate and two bids for school board by landslide margins.  He was running for state senate as a Republican until he dropped out on the last possible day.  He finally realized he couldn't win, so he is running a vanity campaign to spite Republicans for not supporting him and buy some attention from a party desperate for money.

Before you vote for a third party candidate, check where he actually stands.

Previous:
Wenke Running for Senate
Lorence Wenke: DLTDHYOTWO