Saturday, August 12, 2023

Michigan GOP Disaster Continues

After the last election, I explained the sorry state of the Michigan GOP.

The Michigan GOP is a Disaster

In conclusion, I wrote

The Michigan GOP has a choice.  It could continue to embrace conspiracy nonsense and use MAGA messaging that only speaks to the activist base.  Or it can face reality and appeal to winnable voters with a conservative platform that speaks to their concerns.  A test of which direction the party will choose will come at the next Michigan GOP convention in February, which will elect the new party leadership.
There were 11 candidates for chair, though only three attracted significant support.  Scott Greenlee is a political consultant with a long history of working on campaigns in Michigan.  Matt DePerno is a trail lawyer who had almost no history in the party prior to the Stop the Steal movement.  He was the GOP nominee for attorney general, and lost by 9%.  Kristina Karamo was a low-level GOP activist with no relevant experience who was the GOP nominee for Secretary of State.  She lost by 14% and refused to concede the election.

Former president Trump endorsed DePerno for Michigan GOP chair.  At the convention, Greenlee was eliminated on the second ballot with 23%.  Karamo won 58% to DePerno's 42% on the final ballot.  The state party and many local parties have been taken over by what I will call the MAGA faction.  They are characterized by belief in Stop the Steal and other conspiracies, Trump-style rhetoric, and hatred of the old party establishment and donor base.  Notably, the majority of them are not blindly loyal to Trump, as they rejected his endorsee for Karamo, who is even more fanatical than DePerno.

Karamo had run on a platform of scorning the traditional Michigan GOP donor base, including the DeVos family.  Thus fundraising was going to be a major concern.  During her chair campaign, Karamo offered a plan to change the party's fundraising base.

As a candidate for party chair, Karamo vowed to “expand the donor pool by creating a decentralized fundraising system that obtains funding from approximately 500,000 likely-Republican business owners, rather than a handful of millionaire/billionaire class political operatives,” according to a Dec. 18 “vision” document she released.
However, this plan appears to be deeply flawed at the outset.  A quick search reveals the following.
Of those 765,487 small businesses in Michigan, 209,751 have employees. The remaining 555,736 are Michigan small businesses that have no employees.
Businesses without employees are either self-employed people or businesses that only exist on paper.  Thus the number of businesses that Karamo is counting on simply don't exist.  Further, some businesses are owned by democrats or independents who would not donate to Republicans.  Many others are owned by the sort of county club types that Karamo and her supporters hate.  Thus her plan simply could not work, even aside from the difficulty of getting like-minded people to donate.

Not surprisingly, the Michigan GOP has been essentially broke since Karamo took charge.  After the chair of the budget committee expressed concern about the party's financial state, Karamo removed him and faced criticism from her own co-chair.  Later, it came out that the party has only $93,000 in the bank.  Karamo's fundraising efforts have been a tremendous failure.  It is likely that a significant proportion of what has been raised is going to Karamo's salary.

Not only has Karamo not raised money to help elect Republicans, she has also attacked those who have.  The last bastion of sanity in the Michigan GOP are the Republican caucuses in the state house and senate.  In June, the state house GOP announced that former Governor Rick Snyder would be aiding their fundraising efforts.  The was a major boost for the house GOP, as Snyder is a wealthy businessman and has ties to many others like him who can donate big bucks.

Karamo responded to this announcement by attacking Snyder.  To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Snyder's performance as governor, many of which appeared on this blog.  But Snyder is not seeking office himself.  He is raising money for other Republicans, virtually all of whom are more conservative than him.  Any rational conservative should consider that a good thing.

Karamo's attack on Snyder is indicative of the other major feature of her administration: infighting.  Any successful political party is a coalition of people who disagree on some issues.  When there are disputes, they should be dealt with internally, not in the media.

But over the past year, there has been an increase in public infighting, not limited to the budgetary dispute and attacks on Rick Snyder.  In June, Matt DePerno subpoenaed Karamo as part of lawsuit disputing control of the Kalamazoo GOP.  Also in June, there was a fight between GOP officials from Kalamazoo and Macomb Counties.  In July, one activist assaulted a GOP official at the MIGOP state committee meeting.  Charges have been issued related to the two incidents.  Obviously, none of this makes the Michigan GOP look good.

There is also a rise in "censure" and "no confidence" resolutions.  These resolutions have no practical effect, except to "diss" the target of the resolution.  It appears that many of the activists currently involved in the Michigan GOP are engaged in a right-wing form of virtue-signaling.  They seem to be motivated more by affirming a sense of their own moral superiority by attacking less pure Republicans than actually doing the hard work needed to win elections.

Political parties do need some common values, and it is reasonable to exclude those who are opposed to those basic values.  But purity tests and endless infighting between people who agree on most issues is obviously counterproductive.  Winning doesn't seem to be a priority for the MAGA faction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

August 2023 Judiciary News

Nominations, Hearings, Confirmations:

Overall:  Harsh Voruganti of The Vetting Room assesses the the state of judicial vacancies and nominations at the middle of 2023.

7th Circuit:  Joshua Kolar-clerk for Wayne Andersen (ND-IL), Magistrate Judge (ND-IN)
10th Circuit:  Rich Federico-Senior Litigator, Public Defender (D-KS)
D-MN:  Jeffrey Bryan-clerk for Paul Magnuson (D-MN), Minnesota Court of Appeals judge
ND-CA:  Eumi Lee-clerk for Warren Ferguson (9th Circuit), Jerome Turner (WD-TN), Superior Court of California judge

The Federal Judiciary:

Supreme Court:  Carrie Severino summarizes the originalist victories over the past Supreme Court term.

Affirmative Action:  The court's ruling against affirmative action is broadly popular, with one poll showing 59% approve and 27% disapprove.  Also, "significant pluralities of black and Hispanic Americans support the decision".

Affirmative Action:  Ed Whelan argues that the Supreme Court ruling against affirmative action will not be difficult to enforce.

Affirmative Action:  Christopher Mills shows that Justice Jackson's opinion is infused with the discredited ideology of critical race theory.

Thomas:  Critics often stigmatize Justice Thomas by accusing him of benefitting from affirmative action, thereby proving his point about the harm it causes to qualified minority students.

Jackson:  Josh Blackman argues that Justice Jackson did not really recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, though he says that is not a problem.

303 Creative:  Various leftists have claimed that the Supreme Court should not have taken the 303 Creative case on freedom of expression.  The argument in part depends on a sham request to the website that was never critical to the case.  However, the case was heard by the district and appeals courts, and the other side never argued against standing.

Thomas:  The Guardian tried to insinuate a scandal in the fact that Justice Thomas received payments from his former clerks.  However, the payments were obviously reimbursements for a Christmas party.

Alito:  Justice Alito criticized members of Congress (including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)) who believe they can regulate the Supreme Court.  He observes that it was created by the Constitution, not by congress.

Vacancy Declarations:  There are now 91 current and future judicial vacancies.  New vacancies over the past month are listed below.
WD-VA: Michael Urbanski (Obama) 7/4/24 (senior)

State Supreme Courts:

Overall:  The "Center for Public Integrity" is very upset that Republicans have filled more state supreme court seats.  Several red states have disempowered nominating commissions run by leftist bar associations.

Arkansas:  Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) appointed Cody Hiland to the Arkansas Supreme Court.  He replaces Robin Wynne, who died on June 21.  Hiland was US Attorney for ED-AR 2017-2020 and was elected Arkansas GOP chairman in 2022.  According to Sanders, the court now has a conservative majority.

Missouri:  Justices George Draper III and Justice Patricia Breckenridge will be age-limited on August 5 and October 14, respectively.  Draper was appointed by Jay Nixon (D) in 2011 and Breckenridge was appointed by Matt Blunt (R) in 2007.  There are 23 lawyers applying to fill Draper's seat.  Governor Mike Parson (R) will appoint one of the finalists selected by the nominating commission.


On Ed Whelan's Substack, "Confirmation Tales", recent posts deal with Bill Clinton's nomination of federal judges.