Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2021 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated October 26, 2021.

This is a preview of the November 2 elections in Kalamazoo County.

Kalamazoo City Commission

The mayor and three seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor David Anderson (on since 2005, mayor since 2019), Patrese Griffin (2019), Erin Knott (2015), Jack Urban (2013), Eric Cunningham (2017), Jeanne Hess (2019), and Chris Praedel (2019).

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).  In 2019, Griffin, Hess, and Praedel got four-year terms.  The other three seats were up in 2017.

Mayor Anderson, a center-left democrat, will run for reelection.  He defeated David Benac, a Bernie Sanders fan, in 2019.  Commissioner/Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin announced for mayor, and resigned to run.  However, due to a campaign finance error, she could appear on the ballot and dropped out.  Benjamin Stanley is also running for mayor.

Cunningham, Knott, and Urban will not run again.  Former commissioner Don Cooney (1997-2019), a Bernie-style leftist, is seeking to return to the commission.  Other candidates include community organizer Marshall Kilgore, Alphonso Harris, Qianna Decker, Steven Chandler, Stephanie Hoffman, activist Esteven Juarez (who ran for mayor in 2019), and James Mitchell.

Portage City Council

The mayor and three seats on the Portage City Council are up for election.  Patricia Randall was elected mayor in 2017 after serving on the council since 2009.  She is unopposed this year, as she was in 2019.

The other councilmembers are Terry Urban (1997), Claudette Reid (2005), Jim Pearson (2011), Lori Knapp (2017), Chris Burns (2017), and Vic Ledbetter (2020).  Vic Ledbetter filled a seat vacated by the resignation of Richard Ford.

The three seats up for 4-year terms are held by Urban, Reid, and Knapp.  Reid is retiring.  Urban and Ledbetter are running for these seats.  Also running is Lisa Brayton, a Republican who lost a close race for county commission in 2020.

There will be an election for a 2-year term for the seat held by Vic Ledbetter.  The candidates are Lori Knapp and Tara Gish.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Is Third Party Vote Dropoff Evidence of Voter Fraud?

Stu Cvrk at RedState has yet another article promoting voter fraud conspiracy theories.  He claims that the drop in third party and write-in votes between 2016 and 2020 is evidence of voter fraud.  In particular, he claims that voting machines were programmed to declare third party votes needed adjudication, and then election officials declared these votes to be for Biden.

There is nothing unusual about the third party vote declining when an incumbent is running for reelection.  Consider recent pairs of elections when an incumbent sought first an second terms.

5.7% 2016 -> 2.8% 2020
1.4% 2008 -> 1.7% 2012
3.7% 2000 -> 1.0% 2004
19.5% 1992 -> 10.1% 1996
1.0% 1988 -> 19.5% 1992
8.3% 1980 -> 0.6% 1984

Thus in the last 40 years, third party total declined four times and increased twice (once by a trivial amount).  This shouldn't be surprising.  When an incumbent runs for reelection, the election tends to become a referendum on the incumbent.  In 2016, many voters disliked both candidates, so they voted for third party candidates or write-ins as a protest.  In 2020, Trump won back some disgruntled conservatives, while many leftists and centrist rallied to Biden to defeat Trump.

Another relevant factor is the strength of the third party candidates.  In 2016, the Libertarian candidate was Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico.  In 2020, they ran an obscure adjunct professor who didn't make any impact.  Of course, the huge jump in 1992 is largely explained by Ross Perot, a billionaire who spent a fortune to run a credible national campaign.

Also arguing strongly against this theory is that the decline in third party votes happened in every state (and probably every county as well) between 2016 and 2020.  Were the vote counting machines corrupted everywhere, regardless of location and manufacturer?  Note that vote adjudication is a manual process, so rigging this would require crooked operatives in tens of thousands of vote counting locations all across the country.  And if they missed any of them, the third party vote totals would be wildly out of sync with the rest of the country.

These theories keep getting dumber and dumber.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

May 2021 Judiciary News

Mayday! Mayday!

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Diversity:  In President Biden's initial slate of judicial nominees, "nine of the eleven nominees are female, five are African American, three are Asian American—I’m including one who is Arab American (as well as Muslim)—and one is Latina".  Naturally, Latino groups are attacking the administration for not caring about them.

Diversity:  "A Biden Judge Would Be the First-Ever Muslim on the Federal Bench. Some Muslims Are Furious" due to his work for ICE and the US military during the Iraq War.

WD-WA: David Estudillo--Grant County Superior Court judge
WD-WA: Tana Lin--trial lawyer
D-NJ: Christine O’Hearn--trial lawyer

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings:

The Federal Judiciary:

Court packing:  Several progressive Ds in Congress introduced legislation to pack the Supreme Court, adding four seats.  There is essentially no nonpartisan argument for the change, as explained by Thomas Jipping.

Commission:  President Biden has appointed a commission on the Supreme Court.  Josh Blackman notes that about 2/3 of the members are on the left, and 1/3 are on the center or right.  The commission is tasked with surveying arguments on the issue but not to make recommendations, which suggests that Biden is not planning to pack the Supreme Court.

Breyer:  Justice Breyer came out against packing the Supreme Court in a speech at Harvard Law School.  He argued that it would undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.  Get ready for progressives to declare Breyer a white supremacist.

Breyer:  Justice Breyer hired a full slate of four clerks for next year, leading observers such as David Lat to believe that it is likely he will not retire.  Retiring justices often, but not always, hire fewer than four clerks when they are planning to retire.

Chief Judges:  Jacob Finkel claims Trump appointees to circuit courts were picked so that several Trump appointees will become chief judge in the future.  Of course, it could just be that somewhat older candidates had the inside track on the first appointments.  He also speculates without evidence that Trump-appointed chief judges will manipulate 3-judge panels to help their preferred policy outcomes.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 106 current and future judicial vacancies.  The 13 appeals court vacancies are on the 1st (1), 2nd (3), 4th (1), 7th (1), 9th (2), 10th (2), DC (2), and Federal (1).  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
SD-NY: Colleen McMahon (Clinton) 4/10 (senior)
9th Circuit: Marsha Berzon (Clinton) TBD (senior)
D-UT: David Nuffer (Obama) 4/2/22 (senior)
ED-PA: Petrese Tucker (Clinton) 6/1 (senior)
D-DC: Ketanji Brown Jackson (Obama) TBD (elevated)
Claims: Lydia Griggsby (Obama) TBD (elevated)
ED-CA: John Mendez (W) 4/17/22 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Idaho:  The Idaho Judicial Council selected 3 applicants for seat on the Idaho Supreme Court being vacated by Justice Roger Burdick.  They are Idaho Court of Appeals judge Jessica Lorello, 
magistrate judge Diane Walker, and Idaho deputy attorney general Colleen Zahn.

Louisiana:  The Louisiana state senate passed a bill to increase the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven to nine seats, and to force redrawing of the Supreme Court districts each decade to reflect population shifts.  The bill passed by a bipartisan 36-2 vote.

Michigan:  Justice Richard Bernstein (D) has been working from Dubai for the past three months.  He is up for re-election next year.  State rep. Beau LaFave (R) commented, "Having enough privilege to leave Michigan, where you voted to let the Governor become a dictator, move to a proper dictatorship, continue ruling on cases, and keep getting paid, is the real Bernstein Advantage."

Missouri:  There are 25 applicants for the Missouri Supreme Court seat vacated by Laura Denvir Stith.  The Appellate Judicial Commission will begin interviewing candidates on May 19.

Montana:  Montana's new law eliminating the judicial nominating commission is being challenged in court.  Chief Justice Mike McGrath recused himself.  There was an organized effort to get lower court judges to take positions on the bill, including the judge who would have replaced McGrath.  The legislature issued a subpoena for the communications of the organizer of the effort.  The Supreme Court tried to quash the subpoena, but the attorney general refused to respect the ruling.

Ohio:  The state senate passed a bill to list the partisan affiliations of Supreme Court candidates in the general election.  Currently candidates run in partisan primaries but the general election is nonpartisan.  The Ohio Supreme Court has a 4 R 3 D breakdown.

Pennsylvania:  Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson has been endorsed by the NRA and GOA.  The other GOP candidates for an open Supreme Court seat, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick, and Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, are also courting pro-gun voters.  The primary is May 18, and the winner will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin (D) in the November 2 general election.

Wisconsin:  R candidates picked up two seats on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in the April 6 election.  In district 2, Shelley Grogan won 56-44 over incumbent Jeffrey Davis, who was appointed to replace Brian Hagedorn.  In district 3, Gregory Gill defeated Rick Cveykus 55-45 for the seat of retiring judge Mark Seidl.

Numbers and Trivia:

As of May 23, Jeffrey Sutton will be the Chief Judge of the 6th Circuit, taking over from R. Guy Cole. Cole was appointed by Clinton.  Sutton clerked for Scalia.  He was appointed by W in 2003, and is a feeder judge.

As of May 24, Kimberly Ann Moore will be the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, taking over from Sharon Proust. Moore was appointed by W in 2001 and Proust by W in 2006. 

The Presidents who appointed chief judges of the 13 appeals courts will be Clinton (4, 9), W (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, Fed), and Obama (DC).

Here are the numbers of senior status declarations/retirements for the past few months.
1 December
20 January
19 February
8 March
7 April


Court Packing:  Carrie Severino surveys statements by Senate Ds opposing court packing.  We shall see whether these statements have expiration dates.

Retirements:  Joan Biskupic reviews the history of presidents encouraging Supreme Court justices to retire.