Friday, November 07, 2014
GOP does well at State level
After a day of double-checking partisan composition numbers in the more than 6,000 legislative races this year, the extent of Republican success in legislative and governor’s elections is mostly clear. Suffice it to say, it was a banner election for the GOP.
There are two pieces still undecided. Control of the Colorado House remains up in the air pending tallies in several very close races. The Alaska governor is still undecided and will not be settled until absentee ballots are collected and tabulated. And ,of course, all of the results are preliminary pending certification and recounts. It does appear, though, that all is settled at the state level except for the Colorado House and Alaska governor.
Republicans ran the table, taking the majority in 10 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats. Those chambers were:
Colorado Senate (conceivable that Dems could still hold on after recounts)
New Hampshire House
New York Senate
New Mexico House
West Virginia House.
The West Virginia Senate is currently tied at 17 D-17 R.
For governors, Republicans netted three after switching seats in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. Democrat Tom Wolf won a governorship in Pennsylvania.
Factoring in all of those changes, here are the bottom line numbers (the Nebraska unicameral Legislature is nonpartisan):
Legislatures: 29 R, 11 D, 8 split and 1 undecided (CO)
Chambers: 67 R, 29 D, 1 tied and 1 undecided (CO House)
Governors: 33 R, 16 D and 1 undecided (AK)
State governments: 23 R, 7 D, 18 divided and 1 undecided (AK)
It appears that Republicans will have a net gain of between 350 and 375 seats and control over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. Republicans gained seats in every region of the country and in all but about a dozen legislative chambers that were up this year.
Remarkably, given the Republican wave that swept across the nation, Republicans emerged from the election controlling exactly the same number of state governments as they controlled before the election. Democrats lost many chambers and governors, but most of those states now have divided state government.
Alaska could still stay Republican if incumbent governor Sean Parnell pulls out a victory. He currently trails his challenger by more than 3,000 votes.
The sharp increase in divided state governments could lead to gridlock. Legislators and governors, however, are more likely to seek compromise especially when it involves the budget since all states but one must pass balanced budgets every year.
A Republican wave swept over the states, leaving Democrats at their lowest point in state legislatures in nearly a century.
Everything went in the direction of the GOP as Republicans seized new majorities in the West Virginia House, Nevada Assembly and Senate, New Hampshire House, Minnesota House and New York Senate, The West Virginia Senate is now tied. All results are unofficial pending recounts.
Control of several legislative chambers was still up in the air early Wednesday as counting continued in several tight races that will determine control of the Colorado Senate, New Mexico House and Maine Senate.
The lone bright spot for Democrats was holding majorities in the Iowa Senate and Kentucky House.
The overall number of divided state governments will increase with changes in governor in places such as Massachussets, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maryland along with the legislatures in West Virginia, Minnesota and New York.
The Vermont legislature will have to choose the state's governor because incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin did not pass the 50 percent threshold. The Democratic General Assembly will almost certainly install Shumlin as governor.
Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late U.S. senator and a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, was elected to the Connecticut Senate on his first try for policial office. Democrats held onto their majority despite a furious push from Republicans.
Teenager Saira Blair was part of the Republican surge in West Virginia, so she will become the nation’s youngest legislator at the age of 18 when she takes her oath of office.
Update 10:21 a.m. ET: Republicans pad their wins by taking control of Washington Senate, Colorado Senate and New Mexico House. State legislative chambers now stand at 66 Republican, 28 Democrat, one tie and two undecided.
The Most Important Gains Might Be GOP Governor Wins
Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 presidential contender, is arguably the most admired Republican governor among party members of all stripes for his exemplary governing of a blue state while simultaneously successfully fighting off multiple assaults by the entire Wisconsin Democrat party.
After inheriting a massive deficit from his Democrat predecessor, Walker now has the state nearly $1 billion in black. He cut taxes by more than $2 billion, spurring an economic revival that reduced unemployment from 7.7% to 5.5% and raised per capita income by 9%. Confidence in the state’s economy among employers skyrocketed.
Perhaps more than anything else though, he won the respect and admiration of decent Americans for his stalwart stand against the massive barrage of every dirty trick in the Democrat playbook, including false charges of campaign financing violations by Democrat district attorneys, all of which were summarily tossed out of court. Walker’s third win in four years only solidifies his 2016 presidential résumé.
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas likewise governed as a fiscal conservative, although his opponents were often those in his own party. He wants to reform Kansas' economy and winnow down its unfunded liabilities. His most controversial act involved cutting the state’s personal income tax by nearly half, one of the largest tax cuts in the state’s history. He also rejected the feds' money meant for setting up an exchange under ObamaCare. His efforts angered a number of “moderate” Republican lawmakers, and as payback, they stymied several of his other agenda items.
In fact, a number of “moderate Republicans” were so angry with Brownback that they formed a group named “Republicans for Davis,” his far-left Democrat challenger in yesterday’s election. The group grew to 104 members, 53 of whom are former legislators, including 37 who’ve long been out of office, but all are still politically active in the party. That 104 “Republicans” would do their best to replace a Republican with a far-left governor might indicate that Brownback lacks some negotiating skills, but it speaks volumes more about those Republicans.
Brownback’s win undermines the Leftmedia narrative of a repudiation of his conservative fiscal policies. In fact, a large percentage of conservatives and their allies see his work as a giant step in the right direction, and Kansas voters gave him a second term.
Judge Rejects the 'Disparate Impact' Fraud
Attorney General hopeful Tom Perez’s race-based justice scheme surfers a major setback
On Monday, one of the Obama administration’s foremost racial arsonists was given his comeuppance by a federal judge. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who is on the American left’s short list for replacing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, was informed by Judge Richard J. Leon that his effort to find housing discrimination where none existed amounted to “wishful thinking on steroids.”
Perez sought to apply the policy of “disparate impact” to housing. Judicial Watch explains this contemptible concept. “Under the theory of ‘disparate impact,’ a defendant can be held liable for discrimination for a race-neutral policy that statistically disadvantages a specific minority group even if that negative ‘impact’ was neither foreseen nor intended,” they write. “In such cases, defendants can be forced to pay for harm caused not by their own actions, but by economic and statistical realities, even if beyond their control.” (italics original)
Leon wasn’t buying it. He characterized the attempt to legitimize disparate impact as a vehicle to expand the possibility of filing discrimination cases as “hutzpah (sic) (bordering on desperation).” “This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction,” he wrote, adding that the arguments made by Obama administration attorneys were “nothing less than an artful misinterpretation” of the law.
The law to which Leon referred is the Fair Housing Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In February 2013, HUD made disparate impact a policy tool, one the administration employed to build discriminatory cases against mortgage lending institutions that garnered them hundreds of millions of dollars.
In July of that year, Wells Fargo paid a $175 million settlement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused the bank of discriminating against thousands black and Hispanic borrowers – based on loan analyses made by the bank and its independent brokers from the years 2004 and 2009. Wells Fargo admitted no wrongdoing, claiming it was settling to avoid even costlier litigation expenses. That windfall was topped by a record-setting $335 million settlement made by Bank of America in 2011, following allegations of discrimination by Countrywide Lending, purchased by Bank of America in 2008. Once again the feds used disparate impact to allege that minority borrowers had received less favorable borrowing terms than whites.
Perez is an old hand at this shakedown racket. In 2011, the DOJ created the Fair Lending Unit staffed with more than 20 lawyers, economists and statisticians, determined to ferret out discriminatory lending practices at the more than 60 banks that were targeted at the time. The man in charge of that division was Special Counsel for Fair Lending Eric Halperin. Halperin ultimately answered to none other than Tom Perez, who headed the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
That would be the same Tom Perez who compared bankers to KKK Klansmen, insisting the only difference between the two groups was that bankers discriminate “with a smile” and “fine print,” but were nonetheless “every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood.”
That would also be the same Tom Perez who in 2010 railed against the housing meltdown “fueled in large part by risky and irresponsible lending practices that allowed too many Americans to get unsustainable or unaffordable home loans.” It was then he promised that once the Fair Housing Unit was up and running, it “will use every tool in our arsenal, including, but not limited to, disparate impact theory.”
Perez is determined to protect disparate impact theory from being adjudicated by the Supreme Court. On Nov. 7, 2011 the Court agreed to hear Magner v. Gallagher, a case about racial discrimination in housing. As the Weekly Standard reveals, a Supreme Court decision on the theory was utterly anathema to Perez, whose effort to make the case “go away” became his self-admitted “top priority.” The case was about several property owners who alleged that St. Paul, Minnesota’s ramped up enforcement of the city’s housing code for rental units reduced the availability of low-income rentals, creating a disparate impact affecting black Americans. The district court tossed the suit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reinstated it, complete with the concept of disparate impact. The city appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which was poised to decide for the first time whether disparate impact cases pursued under the auspices of the Fair Housing Act can be brought before the courts.
Perez, who has referred to disparate impact as the “lynchpin” of his civil rights agenda, didn’t want to take that chance. He managed to get the city to drop its case from the Supreme Court docket. Judicial Watch provided some of the sordid details, noting they had obtained documents “under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, showing that St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing arranged a meeting between the then-chief of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, current Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Mayor Chris Coleman a week before the city’s withdrawal from the case, captioned Magner v. Gallagher. Following Perez’s visit, the city withdrew its case and thanked DOJ and officials at HUD for their involvement.”
In June of 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear another case revolving around disparate impact. Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens concerned the town’s efforts to redevelop a blighted neighborhood. A group of renters filed suit alleging the move violated the FHA because the majority of the renters were non-white and they were unable to afford the new mid-priced, single-family dwellings. The district court dismissed the argument ruling all the renters were equally affected. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed that ruling, basing their decision on disparate impact.
Once again Perez prevailed, getting Mt. Holly to drop the case, and once again preventing the Supreme Court from issuing a ruling on disparate impact. Judge Leon noticed. In a stunning rebuke of Perez himself, Leon accused the Labor Secretary of gaming the system, timing cases and arranging the aforementioned settlements he found “particularly troubling.”
It ought to trouble every American that the Obama administration remains determined to codify racial discrimination based on the idea that statistics can be a viable substitute for actual intent. To image how absurd this theory truly is, one need only apply it to the National Basketball Association where a “disproportionate” number of black American athletes, relative to the percentage of the nations’s overall population, earn a living. Should white college basketball players who weren’t drafted by the NBA be able to file a lawsuit alleging discrimination, based on nothing more than that statistical discrepancy? Absent the necessity of proving intent to discriminate, the power of the government to file discrimination charges become virtually unlimited.
Leon noted there was nothing in the wording of the FHA or anything he read regarding Congress’s intent when it passed the FHA that supported HUD’s interpretation of the law. He further noted that complying with disparate impact theories would force various entities to compile information on a number of factors, including race, religion, gender, etc., that those entities are often banned from obtaining under state law.
Perez may be forced to work overtime yet again. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. State officials have been sued by the Inclusive Communities Project, a Dallas-based group advocating integrated housing. The ICP alleges the state allocated a disproportionate number of federal low-income housing tax credits to minority neighborhoods, a practice that “makes dwellings unavailable in particular areas, thereby perpetuating residential segregation in the Dallas area,” the group said in court papers.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act used to hammer Wells Fargo and Bank of America may also be affected by the ruling. Miami attorney Paul Hancock, who filed a brief backing the Lone Star state on behalf of business groups led by the American Bankers Association, illuminated the implications if the Court decides to leave the theory of disparate impact intact. “It really pushes more toward advancement of racial quotas as the only way to avoid legal claims,” he said in a phone interview.
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Posted by JR at 1:34 AM