The home version of the Three Martini Lunch is now up and running but there is always a stool for you! After Jim revels in the news that Tom Brady’s 20-year run with the New England Patriots is over, he and Greg tackle the good, bad, and crazy martinis of the day. First, they welcome the news from Dr. Anthony Fauci that a possible coronavirus vaccine is already in the first stages of testing. They also wonder just how restrictive government officials are going to get as they down society in an effort to confront coronavirus now that San Francisco is ordering residents to shelter in place, groups larger than 10 people are discouraged, and New Jersey is dabbling with curfews. Finally, they weight both sides of the furious political and legal fight in Ohio after Gov. Mike DeWine ordered Tuesday’s primary to be postponed.
Threats of resignation, controversial pardons, libs wanting the elite to have more power in choosing presidents – we’ve got a full menu for you on Wednesday’s Three Martini Lunch. Join Jim and Greg as they welcome Attorney General Bill Barr’s latest plea for President Trump to stop making his job so difficult. They also bang their heads against the table as Trump commutes the sentence of a thoroughly unrepentant Rod Blagojevich. And they hammer away at a Washington Post opinion piece arguing that the Democratic primary process is not working well so the proper answer is to give more power to elites to reach a consensus on a nominee.
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas is racing to the finish line ahead of the commonwealth’s June 12th U.S. Senate primary and says his message of individual liberty, smaller government, and thriving markets is resonating with voters.
Freitas got a major political boost in March when his passionate defense of the second amendment on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates went viral.
“When 40 million people see something, that helps with your name ID,” said Freitas.
While recent polling is scarce in the GOP primary, the viral video is helping Freitas raise his profile against primary rivals Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson, both of whom have run statewide before. Freitas has dwarfed his rivals in fundraising in recent months and he recently secured the National Rifle Association endorsement.
Stewart, who currently serves as chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is known for his aggressive, confrontational style of politics. He says that approach will be necessary to defeat incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine in November. He also claims that his ability to win in a blue part of Virginia makes him the natural choice for a nominee.
Freitas strongly disputes that.
“Donald Trump does not need a cheap imitation of himself in order to win in Virginia. There’s only one Donald Trump. Let Trump be Trump. What the Republican Party needs in Virginia is someone who can go around and explain and advocate for the positive, substantive policies that have made people’s lives better,” said Freitas.
“He thinks it’s a divide and conquer campaign. I think it’s more of a divide and lose campaign. It’s unfortunate because there are good things about Corey Stewart and there are good things he’s done in Prince William County.
“But there’s other things he’s done there that have really given people pause. He’s voted to raise taxes several times in Prince William County, and there’s other things that people are just skeptical of,” said Freitas.
Freitas believes he has the ability to bring people together to get things done.
“We need to be able to unify Virginians around a central message and that message is we’re going to empower you, not government programs,” said Freitas.
Freitas also believes he separates himself from Stewart and Jackson in three critical ways, starting with his service as a Green Beret in Iraq.
“I’m the only combat veteran in the race, which means I understand a key component of the federal government, which is providing for national defense. I fought counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and unconventional warfare. President Trump needs more people in the Senate that share his view that we are not the police force in the world but we need a strong military and I can provide that kind of advice,” said Freitas, who believes the U.S. does need to be a leader on the world stage but does not need to deploy the military unless absolutely necessary.
He also says his time in the Virginia House of Delegates sets him apart from Stewart and Jackson.
“I’m also the only candidate that’s served in the legislature. So I understand what it’s like to take an idea from concept all the way through the legislative process. I know how to effectively engage constituents in the process when there’s that critical vote in the subcommittee or full committee,” said Freitas.
Third, Freitas says his message distinguishes him from the rest of the field. He says his goal is not to gain power to reward friends and punish political foes but to return power to where it belongs.
“My goal is to get in a position where we can disperse power back where it belongs and that’s to the people, that’s to states, and that’s to localities. And then if we keep the federal government within its proper boundaries so it can do its intended jobs well instead of doing a hundred other jobs poorly,” said Freitas.
But what does that look like for a candidate who embraces major strains of both conservative and libertarian thought? Where does he come down those beliefs conflict?
On the role of the military, Freitas believes in having a strong military and using overwhelming force whenever force is absolutely necessary. He also wants to see Congress return to its constitutional role of authorizing war.
On cultural issues, Freitas says his deeply-held Christian beliefs inform him on the definition of marriage but he believes much of the political debate over it misses a key point.
“You’ve got some people wanting the government to define marriage one way. You’ve got other people who want that government to define marriage another way. And I’m sitting here going, ‘Why is the government defining marriage?’
“I understand why government has to handle civil contracts, but I certainly don’t understand why the government needs to be in the process of coercing people to accept a particular definition that they may not want to,” said Freitas.
Freitas did introduce religious freedom legislation that would protect conscience rights for Virginians.
“(Former Virginia Gov.) Terry McAuliffe had signed an executive order which essentially prevented any religious organizations that happened to hold the viewpoint that marriage is between one man and one woman from being able to team with the government to help hungry, sick, and addicted people. I said that was ridiculous,” said Freitas.
On abortion, Freitas says science and the law make it clear that unborn life deserves protection.
“At the moment of conception, we’re talking about life. If we use science to determine between human life and other forms of life, we find at the moment of conception we’re talking about human life.
From a legal perspective, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re also talking about innocent human life. So the question for me is does the government have an obligation to protect innocent human life? I think it clearly does,” said Freitas, who was born out of a crisis pregnancy.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be that young woman who finds herself pregnant and completely unprepared for it, but I do know what it’s like to be her son,” he said.
On fiscal matters, Freitas is appalled by the $1.3 trillion omnibus shepherded through Congress and signed into law – all by Republicans. He says Congress desperately needs transparency and open debate on what is worthy of taxpayer money. He also says Congress, like the Virginia government, fails to use common sense on spending issues.
“On the things that we agree on – that are legitimate functions of government – the military, law enforcement, public safety, certain things with transportation and others – great, let’s fund them. But let’s not hold those things hostage because certain congresspeople have different goodies that they’ve got to hand out to various constituents to help their re-election chances,” said Freitas.
Freitas says he’s also ready to tackle health care policy, especially after fighting against Gov. Ralph Northam’s efforts to enact Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Virginia. In addition to stating that medical care for Medicaid patients is not much different than it is for the uninsured, he says government intervening in health care is a guaranteed failure.
“What’s so frustrating to me is that what wee clearly need in health care is more competition and more market forces, which always have a tendency to increase quality and drive down prices,”said Freitas, noting that the cost of vision correction surgery, such as Lasik, has dropped from $2,500 per eye to $500 per eye while the reliability of the procedure has improved drastically.
“Unfortunately, there are many, especially on the left, (for whom) the only solution they will accept is a government solution. The problem is government does the opposite of what we need. Government almost always causes prices to go up and quality to go down,” he said.
Three states hold U.S. Senate primaries Tuesday, all of them are in states won handily by President Trump in 2016 but are represented by Democrats in the Senate, and the biggest drama is playing out in West Virginia, with Trump begging GOP voters there not to nominate the candidate that both conservatives and moderates believe has no chance of winning in November.
Conservatives are trying to rally the base to get West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey into the general election, but polls show him locked in a tight primary with Rep. Evan Jenkins and former Massey Energy chairman Don Blankenship.
The winner faces Sen. Joe Manchin in November.
Blankenship, who spent time in prison after being convicted in connection with the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, had been fading in the polls. But he is getting a great deal of free media attention for referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” and accusing McConnell of helping “China people” through his in-laws. McConnell is married to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, whose father is a prominent businessman in the Far East.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is backing Morrisey in the race. The group’s president, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, says all the attention on Blankenship’s comments means this race is completely up in the air.
“The spike in talk about Blankenship has really confused things substantially,” said Cuccinelli.
He also says the Democrats see a chance to lock up this seat and are meddling intensely in the primary.
“(Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer has funded a PAC that has been taking shots at Morrisey first and foremost, and some at Jenkins, because they want Blankenship as the Republican nominee,” said Cuccinelli.
Stung by the lost opportunity in the special Senate race in Alabama in December, President Trump is urging West Virginia voters to stay away from Blankenship.
“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!” Trump tweeted.
Cuccinelli welcome the first part of the tweet but not the closing line.
“He said vote either for Morrisey or Jenkins. It’s not like he’s endorsing the conservative in the race. In fact, the president has never endorsed a conservative when there were others in a race,” said Cuccinelli.
So what’s wrong with Jenkins? Cuccinelli says the congressman’s very recent past presents a very big problem, since Jenkins switched from being a Democrat to a Republican just a few years ago.
“Jenkins has just what you’d expect from a 20-year Democrat in terms of his public record. It creates all sorts of problems for him, nothing less than supporting Hillary in 2008 and voting for Obama in ’08 and ’12,” said Cuccinelli, noting both Clinton and Obama were drubbed in West Virginia due to their anti-coal policies.
In contrast, Cuccinelli points out Morrisey sued the Obama administration over efforts to target the coal industry. He also fought back against the Obama administration’s transgender initiatives.
In addition, Morrisey is joining with five other states to force the Trump administration to end the DACA program, as Trump had ordered to happen by early March. He is part of a 20-state effort to have the remainder of the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional as a result of the recent tax bill removing the individual mandate penalty and thus allegedly ending the ability of the government to consider the individual mandate a tax,
Cuccinelli says the conservative grassroots in West Virginia are squarely behind Morrisey.
“West Virginians for Life is behind Morrisey. The West Virginia gun groups are for Morrisey. There’s virtually no West Virginia grassroots group supporting either Jenkins or Blankenship. They are all supporting Patrick Morrisey,” he said.
Cuccinelli says Morrisey is also the one best suited to defeat Manchin.
“Manchin is a family name. He goes back a long way. He’s not just a first-term senator. He is part of a long and strong political family in West Virginia. This is no easy task but he is beatable and Morrisey is the best guy to beat him.
“It’s why the Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed him, that in addition to his conservative track record,” said Cuccinelli.
He is confident the conservative base is with Morrisey. Now it’s just a matter of getting them to the polls.
“He’s got a track record of beating Democrats, but he isn’t going to get a chance to beat Manchin if he doesn’t get enough votes from conservatives tomorrow in West Virginia,” said Cuccinelli.
Calling incumbent Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a “failed governor,” conservative State Rep. Jeanne Ives says she cannot leave the GOP field to a man who broke countless promises and ended up doing the bidding of the Chiacgo Democrats.
Ives, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, was first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2012. The GOP primary in Illinois is March 20.
Rauner was elected in 2014 on a platform of reforming government in Illinois and seriously addressing the state’s looming fiscal crisis. Instead, he is branded now by National Review as the worst Republican governor in America, after raising taxes instead of cutting them, signing a bill that forbids law enforcement from checking the immigration status of people they stop, and enacting taxpayer-funded abortion in the state.
“Let’s be clear. Gov. Rauner is a failed governor. He’s specifically a failed Republican governor, which is why I’m challenging him,” said Ives.
She says one issue in particular triggered her primary challenge.
“The tipping point really became when he signed taxpayer funding of abortion, because that’s the point at which I started to get calls from colleagues and other Republicans around the state saying, ‘We do not want him to run unopposed. We need someone else to stand up for us,'” said Ives.
Rauner tries to downplay the abortion bill by saying he’s pro-choice but the party is a big tent and he has supported pro-life candidates in the past. Ives says all Republicans in Springfield, regardless of their position on abortion, were appalled by Rauner’s actions.
“No Republican, even Republicans who consider themselves pro-choice in our legislature, none of us signed on for taxpayer funding of abortion. None of us did. He told us he was going to veto that bill and then did not and decided to sign it anyway, based on his wife being very pro-choice and based on his own propensity of being pro-choice,” said Ives.
“He enacted with that bill the economic agenda and the social agenda of the Chicago Democrats, rather than a Republican conservative reform agenda,” added Ives.
In addition to the moral revulsion of Rauner’s support for the abortion legislation, Ives says the governor saddled Illinois taxpayers with another massive tax bill.
“He lied to us. He betrayed who we are as Republicans and he put in a brand new entitlement program in a state that it literally bankrupt. Nobody does that,” said Ives.
Rauner also took a lot of heat from the right for failing to stop Democrats from pushing new tax increases into law when the state’s budget hung in limbo last year. The governor said people need to realize he does not run Illinois and that Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan is actually more powerful than he is.
Ives finds that excuse revolting.
“He needs to resign over that comment, quite frankly. The idea that the governor says, ‘I’m not in charge.’ Are you kidding me? It just tells you where he is in terms of his fight and his stance. That’s just nonsense,” said Ives.
Democrats do enjoy large majorities in the state legislature, including a 67-51 margin in the state house and a 37-22 edge in the state senate. However, Ives says Rauner needed to do more to get Democrats to join him in doing the things he promised in 2014.
“There’s much you can do in terms of turning the state around and getting the buy-in from the legislators to do that, and Gov. Rauner just didn’t do that. He picked a personal fight with our longtime serving Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, who does wield a lot of control. However, he didn’t build the coalitions that would make the bills possible for a turnaround,” said Ives.
So how would Ives be different?
“We’re just the worst-run state in the nation. We need to reverse course on nearly every policy. We need policy revolution and I’m ready to lead that revolt,” said Ives, who says she knows where she would start.
“We’ll go after public corruption. Corruption is an everyday event in the state of Illinois and it is something that the executive is charged to deal with, which is enforce our laws.
“We’re all about spending reform. Look, Illinois pensions are the worst in the nation and it’s crowding out all the other services we need to spend money on,” said Ives.
Ives says the pension bubble is a major problem at both the state and local levels, and old methods of kicking the can down the road won’t work anymore.
“Chicago’s got a huge, massive balloon payment due that’s going to nearly double its pension costs by 2023. That’s an extra billion dollars that they don’t have and can’t find because they’ve already raised taxes and fees to the hilt,” said Ives, who says Chicago pensions are only 20 percent funded.
Unlike Rauner, Ives says she’s ready to engage in talks with Democrats to fend off the crisis.
“We have a very powerful governorship, we just have a weak man in it. He didn’t want to take on the fights that needed to be taken on after a while and he just got beaten down. Time for new leadership. Time for someone who’s willing to win the conversation and actually do the work to lead this state,” said Ives.
She says that approach is the only hope for Illinois to stay solvent.
“We’ve had the worst job growth in the nation. We’ve had the worst income growth in the nation. We lead in out migration because our taxes are too high. I got involved in politics for economic reasons, so we’re going to focus in on the economic stuff,” she said.
If she can win the nomination, Ives would then run statewide in a deep blue state come November – most likely against billionaire J.B. Pritzker. So how would Ives convince voters with Democratic instincts to give her a chance.
“Most people think that J.B. Pritzker will be the Democratic nominee because he’s supported by Mike Madigan. I think that’s a losing ticket for Illinois. I think you’re going to have a lot of disaffected Democrats not vote for that ticket and instead look for a reformer, look for somebody who’s actually got a record of leading a revolt and speaking out on behalf of taxpayers and working across the aisle when the legislation is good,” said Ives.
First, however, Ives needs to knock off another another billionaire in Rauner. The battle is even more uphill with the state Republicans squarely in Rauner’s corner.
“They want to stick with Rauner because he’s got so much money that he can feed the rest of the legislative races. I think that’s all just a bunch of junk. It’s Gov. Rauner who cannot win in 2018. Nobody is going to re-elect him in 2018 and that’s a bipartisan feel,” said Ives.
Ives says the energy behind her campaign is palpable, as she acquired 16,000 petition signatures without spending any money. There are no recent polls of the race. One from several weeks ago shows Rauner up double figures but below 50 percent among Republicans. Ives believes the race is now neck-and-neck and thinks the trust issue will determine the nominee.
“He may have a lot of name ID but it’s negative and you cannot buy back trust after betrayal. Rauner has betrayed our party. His base is no longer with him. He can’t win in 2018, which is why Republicans deserve an alternative, and an alternative to hiring a plutocrat like Pritzker for the job too,” said Ives.