BROWARD COUNTY ELECTION MACHINE RECOUNT RESULTS LATE BY TWO MINUTES

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

All eyes have been on Broward County, Florida for the past week. The extremely close election totals in the Senate race between Republican Rick Scott (currently Florida’s governor) and Democrat Bill Nelson (the incumbent) necessitated a statewide recount.  The results of all three races—Senate, Governor, and State Agricultural Commissioner—were ordered to be recounted via the voting machines.

While nearly all of Florida’s counties completed their machine recounts in a timely manner and uploaded their revised results to the state website by the deadline of 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Broward County was fashionably late—by two minutes. The Republicans who were declared the victors on Election Night appear to still be the victors after today’s recount. However, the late reporting voids the machine recount totals and necessitates a manual recount. Could this have been prevented? Was the late submitting intentional? Sore losers, perhaps? (Broward County is heavily Democrat).

During this machine recount period, allegations of corruption and protests have erupted, mostly aimed at Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. Known for some sketchy handling of election results in the past (for instance, a judge found that she destroyed ballots in the 2016 election), Snipes’s oversight of the recount was disorganized from the start. Absentee and vote-by-mail ballots that were damaged or unclear had to be deciphered by election staff, and on several occasions ballots appeared out of nowhere (such as a box that somehow was discovered at Fort Lauderdale airport). Issues with the machines prevented the Broward County staff from starting the recount immediately after it was ordered. Protestors have remained outside the Broward recount headquarters for nearly a week, bearing signs with messages such as “Lock Her Up” and “Count Every Vote.” Given the apparent mismanagement of the machine recount, many believe that Broward County’s late reporting was due to either complete incompetence or as an intentional act to void the updated results.

Now, a manual recount is necessary, with a deadline of Sunday, November 18. If the manually recounted totals are submitted on time, these results will prevail. If not, the results will default to the what was reported on Election Night, according to Florida law.

It should be noted that Palm Beach County and Hillsborough County failed to upload results at all for the November 15 deadline. And there are several lawsuits in progress, so rulings could come at any time and affect the process as it is underway. The wild ride of Florida elections continues…

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles.

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The Art of the Veto

By Robert Romano

By last count, Republicans lost at least 32 seats in the House in the midterm elections, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is once again poised to be elected House Speaker. This means all legislation will now have to be worked out between a Democratic House and a Republican Senate led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

To navigate these new waters in 2019, President Donald Trump has signaled a willingness to negotiate but he must remember that his greatest leverage could come in the House minority if he wishes to plot a more conservative path.

Certainly there will be last-minute attempts in the lame duck session to get things done with Republican majorities, which may or may not work. Time is not a luxury. Democrats will believe they can get a better deal in January and will block legislation in the Senate. It’s up to Trump to convince them otherwise.

Looking forward, then, with at least 199 members in the House, Trump and the GOP should have enough votes to sustain any presidential vetoes if they play their cards right. All Trump needs are 145 members who are willing to stand with the President.

It’s how Reagan got tax cuts and defense spending done with a Democratic House in the 1980s, and it’s how Trump can still get things done in 2019.

In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump wrote, “The worst thing you can do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” He was right. It was the major reason why Republicans, besides increasing defense spending, were not able to accomplish much in enacting the President’s agenda — including fully funding and building the southern border wall — despite having majorities in both houses of Congress.

So terrified were Republicans in Congress were of a partial government shutdown, they never even tried to deliver full funding for the wall. It would cost them control of the House, the sage advisors in the D.C. establishment warned.

And therefore the wall was never funded. The government was not shut down. And the House GOP lost the election for the House and their majority anyway. Go figure.

This time, Trump does not have to make that mistake. Instead of relying on a Republican House majority to deliver the wall, he can instead use the art of the veto. He can veto the spending bills until he gets what he wants — as long as one-third of the House is willing to stand with the President and sustain the veto.

As Trump wrote in his book, “The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Trump added, “Leverage: don’t make deals without it.” Well, a presidential signature is needed to pass legislation in Congress.

But to get the legislation he wants, the President must be willing to say no deal. Veto the spending bills in 2019. To ratchet up the pressure, Trump and House Republicans could threaten not to provide back pay for federal workers deemed non-essential in a government shutdown situation, but this will require spines of steel by members.

The President should therefore consult with Republican leaders in both chambers on any potential negotiating strategy with Democrats in 2019, but in the end, Trump must be willing to go to bat legislatively for his agenda if he want to see it through.

The first two years of Trump’s term, he relied on outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to deliver key parts of his agenda. That failed, and Republicans arguably lost their House majority because of it. They didn’t fully repeal and replace Obamacare. The wall was not built. Non-defense spending was not cut as in Trump’s proposed budget. And so forth.

It wasn’t all the House’s fault. Obamacare repeal and replace actually passed the House, but it ran into a stone wall in the Senate. Once the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted against the bill, it was done. Still, it was House Republicans who paid the price on Nov. 6. Since then, they certainly did not do much to advance their cause. Where’s the wall?

Trump should be able to leverage that failure now to galvanize House Republicans behind the proposition of sustaining his vetoes. He may have to retool his legislative team at the White House to adjust to the new reality — and to exploit Pelosi’s weak position. If Congress cannot override the veto, Pelosi will have to come to the table to deal on the spending bills. She cannot impose her will on the Senate and the White House, something House Republicans had to painfully learn in 2011 and 2013. Now it’s Democrats’ turn to learn the same lesson.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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APPLE AND AMAZON TOGETHER AT LAST

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

Want a new iPhone? Check out Amazon. Thanks to a recent agreement between the two tech giants, new Apple products such as the iPhone XR and XS, the newest iPad, Apple Watch, and Beats headphones can now be ordered from Amazon. Apple products have long been exclusive to Apple stores and Apple certified resellers, but now availability on Amazon is expected bolster sales. Amazon sites in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India will be offering Apple products within the next few weeks – just in time for holiday shopping.

This move will help those who are looking to buy new Apple products at current Apple prices. Those consumers who are looking to find deals by buying used Apple products on Amazon will see their options drastically decrease, and those sketchy third-party resellers who buy and immediately sell Apple products on Amazon will be removed by January 4, 2019.

Of course, Amazon has taken some measures to maintain its dominance in selling certain products. Amazon will not sell Apple’s HomePod device, which directly competes with Amazon’s Echo devices. (Amazon similarly does not sell Google Home devices, which are also rivals to the Echo).

Why are these tech giants holding hands and making nice? Perhaps to boost both companies’ revenue. Apple’s shares recently dipped after it disclosed weaker projections than expected for holiday sales and also reported that it will no longer make public how many iPhones are sold each quarter. Amazon recently reported growth at a rate that was lower than expected by Wall Street.

It’s likely that the largest retailer in the universe and the biggest smartphone seller in the universe will benefit from their partnership. And with such popular products becoming easier to buy, consumers will likely do exactly what the giants hope they will do: buy more Apple and buy more from Amazon.

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles.

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ELECTION MESS IN FLORIDA (AGAIN), RECOUNT SEEMS LIKELY

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Once again, election activities in Florida have come under scrutiny, and once again, a recount is likely. At issue this time around are Broward County and Palm Beach County, where it appears that early voting ballots remain uncounted, election staff is not allowing monitoring of their vote-counting processes, and election workers may have altered unclear ballots; all of these violate election law.

At the center of the controversy is Florida’s Senate race, with Republican Governor Rick Scott facing Democrat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson. On election night, Scott had been reported as the winner by a razor-thin margin, although all of the votes had not yet been counted. As more votes have been counted, Scott has seen his lead shrink. He stated, “Late Tuesday night, our win was projected to be around 57,000 votes. By Wednesday morning, that lead dropped to 38,000. By Wednesday evening, it was around 30,000. This morning, it was around 21,000. Now, it is 15,000.”

Not only has his lead shrank, but new ballots are coming from seemingly out of nowhere. He further stated, “On election night, Broward County said there were 634,000 votes cast. At 1 a.m. today, there were 695,700 ballots cast on election day. At 2:30 p.m. today, the number was up to 707,223 ballots cast on Election Day. And we just learned, that the number has increased to 712,840 ballots cast on Election Day. In Palm Beach County, there are 15,000 new votes found since election night.”

Two days after election day, Scott and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) filed lawsuits against Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. The suit against Snipes alleges that she has been “unwilling to disclose records revealing how many electors voted, how many ballots have been canvassed, and how many ballots remain to be canvassed.” The suit against Bucher alleges that she and her staff have not allowed either Republicans or impartial witnesses to monitor them as they review damaged and/or unreadable absentee ballots.  In the suit, Scott and the NRSC allege that Bucher and her staff are handling damaged/unreadable ballots by simply making their own decisions about how the voters intended to vote. Clearly, that leaves the door open for subjectivity and the staff members’ own political motivations to interfere with the election.

Scott noted Snipes’s past issues with election law violations. “In 2016, Brenda Snipes’ office posted election results half an hour before polls closed – a violation of election law. That same year, her office was sued for leaving amendments off of ballots. In 2014, Brenda Snipes’ fellow Democrats accused her of individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots. All Floridians should be concerned about that.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has launched a barrage of Twitter attacks on the election officials. In one tweet, he noted that Florida election law dictates that early votes must be reported within 30 minutes of the polls closing. He tweeted a picture containing bins of votes, allegedly waiting to be counted nearly two days after Election Day. He wrote, “Bay County was hit by a Cat 4 Hurricane just 4 weeks ago, yet managed to count votes & submit timely results. Yet over 41 hours after polls closed #Broward elections office is still counting votes?” In another Tweet, Rubio wrote: “Every other county, including neighboring Miami-Dade (which had 100k more votes cast) was able to canvass, tabulate & report to state by deadline. But #Broward still hasn’t finished & won’t disclose how many ballots are left.” He also retweeted a video allegedly showing ballots being transported in private vehicles and being transferred to a tractor trailer, presumably to be brought to Broward County Elections Department to be counted. This obviously violates chain of custody laws for maintaining validity and integrity in elections.

A recount seems likely, and this would not only affect the Senator race, but the gubernatorial race as well. Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum. Gillum  had conceded on election night, but is now considering rescinding that (in any case, it is symbolic and nonbinding). Additionally, the vote for state’s agricultural commissioner would be impacted by the recount.

Scott expressed his determination to uncover and eliminate all illicit acts that may have occurred during this election. In a press conference on Thursday, he stated, “I will not stand idly by while unethical liberals try to steal an election.”

As new information is revealed and more unethical actions come to light, it seems that this Florida election will be as wild and volatile as any hurricane that hits the state.

Candy Stallworth, an Empire State News staff writer, whipped her way through a doctoral education at the finest of American higher ed institutions, noting how unoriginal, inept, and annoying many of the schools’ professors were in their robotic attempts to maintain a politically correct narrative. BTW: she hates words like “narrative”, “optics”, and “gaffe.” Other than that, her turn-offs include non-masculine men, women who hate men, men who hate men, phonies, disloyal people, and overflowing garbage cans. She likes New England clam chowder better than Manhattan clam chowder, but prefers Manhattan to New England.

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MIDTERMS ARE OVER, ON TO 2020: UK BOOKMAKER PLACING ODDS ON DEM PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

The midterm elections are over; the Democrats have won the House majority; the GOP retains the Senate majority…While the post-election analysis is simmering down, the new topic to ponder (probably on a daily basis) is…the 2020 presidential election, of course. Specifically, who will be the Democratic nominee?

Coral, a top British online betting site, has placed odds on potential challengers to Donald Trump. All the liberal favorites are on the list, with varying odds. Currently (and the odds are changing all the time), Sen. Kamala Harris (D – California) leads the pack, with odds of  5-1. Tied for second most likely are Native American wannabe Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D – Massachusetts) and new Dem hero/liberal celebrity favorite Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D – Texas). Their odds are 6-1. Following behind are Former Vice President Joe Biden, with 8-1 odds, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I – Vermont) with 10-1 odds, and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg with 16-1 odds.

There are many long shots on the list, but one never knows what will happen in politics. According to Coral, Oprah Winfrey’s odds are 20-1, which are better the most recent Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, with odds of 50-1. And some celebrities with pretty low chances, but made the list nonetheless, are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kanye West, and George Clooney; their odds are all at 100-1.

With the 2020 presidential election two years away, we cannot be sure which Democrat face and voice will be dominating our TV screens and social media feeds, but we can be sure that, in the meantime, the speculation, analysis, and guessing game will be nothing short of endless.

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles.

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THERE WAS NO SUBURBAN FEMALE GOP PROBLEM IN THE 2018 MIDTERMS

By Robert Romano

One conventional wisdom headed into the 2018 midterms was that Republicans would have a very poor night and lose races they might otherwise win because females, specifically, suburban Republican females, were abandoning President Donald Trump and down ballot candidates.

There was only one problem. On election night, it didn’t actually happen. In states that are evenly divided, like Florida or Iowa, Republicans did about as well as Trump did in 2016.

According to 2016 CNN exit poll in Florida, Trump garnered 52 percent of men and 46 percent of women.

In a Nov. 2 St. Pete Polls survey that correctly predicted the outcome, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), running for Senate against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), did comparably well along gender lines. Scott got 53 percent of men and 46 percent of women. Almost exactly the same.

In the same poll, DeSantis — who overperformed the poll’s result when voting actually happened — garnered 49 percent of men and 44 percent of women.

If there was some exodus of suburban Republican women from the GOP, it should have proven fatal to Scott and DeSantis in Florida, a state that could not be more closely divided politically.

In similar, statewide outcomes, Republicans held governorships in Iowa, New Hampshire and Ohio, all closely divided states. Surely, a flight of Republican women or just women generally from the GOP would have killed Republicans in those races, too.

In an Emerson poll that correctly predicted Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) would be reelected by about 4 points, Reynolds garnered 57 percent of men and 43 percent of women. In the 2016 CNN exit poll in Iowa, Trump garnered 61 percent of men and 44 percent of women, practically the same.

In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H) garnered 56 percent of men and 45 percent of women in the last Emerson poll before the election. Sununu won. In the 2016 CNN exit poll, Trump got 53 percent of men and 41 percent of women. If anything, there, Republicans improved among both men and women since Trump got elected.

The Emerson poll in Ohio incorrectly predicted Richard Cordray would beat Mike DeWine, 49 percent to 46 percent. It was a bad sample that was too heavy-Democrat. It did show a drop off in support for Trump among men and women. There was just one problem. On election night, DeWine won handily, 50.7 percent to 46 percent. Trump won Ohio 51 percent to 43 percent in 2016. Pretty similar outcomes.

The same trend played out nationally, too, Manzanita Miller, an associate analyst with the Market Research Foundation, told me in an emailed statement, pointing to CNN’s 2018 exit poll.

“Of female voters who were already registered Republican, 93 percent of them voted GOP, and 6 percent broke for Dems. This is nearly equal to registered Republican men, where 94 percent voted GOP, and 6 percent broke for Dems,” Miller said, saying that she was “not seeing an indication of suburban females shifting to Dems at all.”

Which, it turns out, was better than Trump did nationally two years ago, where he garnered 89 percent of Republican men and 88 percent of Republican women in 2016, according to the CNN exit poll. No slippage there.

“The GOP won an equal share of suburban voters, and a greater share of rural households,” Miller added.

To be fair, there was some slippage overall, but it affected men and women equally. Whereas Trump got 52 percent of men and 41 percent of women nationally, Republican House candidates got 51 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The shift, if there was one, occurred among independents, where Democrats got 51 percent of independents who are men, and 56 of independents who are women.  Republicans got 44 percent of independent males, and 39 percent of independent females, compared to Trump’s 50 percent of independent men and 42 percent of independent women.

So, perhaps, there is some flight of suburban Republican women from the GOP that is hurting Republican candidates down ballot somewhere in America, it’s just that when you look for them in a poll or at the ballot box in 2016 and 2018, they’re nowhere to be found.

If the predictors are supposed to be party affiliation and gender, so far the phenomenon of Republican women leaving the GOP remains hypothetical.

They are certainly not appearing in some of the most closely divided and contested states with huge suburban presences that Republicans depend on to win where you would expect to see an impact.

Which makes it unicorns. A fantasy, more or less. Or, a goal or hypothesis of Democrats of how to flip Republican women to vote Democrat because they’re supposed to be just so disgusted with the President.

Here’s an idea, maybe if Democratic leaders and pundits stop calling their husbands racists and sexists — just maybe — Republican women will consider voting for the Democratic candidate. Just a thought.

Narratives don’t vote. People do. Something to keep in mind as we head into 2020.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

TRUMP ENERGIZES BATTLEGROUND STATES WITH RALLIES DOWN THE MIDTERM STRETCH

By Natalia Castro

President Trump is leaving no stone unturned in the battle for Congressional control.  The President is spending the last days leading up to the midterms visiting key battleground states in an attempt to persuade voters to come to the polls and vote Republican. As he rallies voter enthusiasm, he could push the closest races over the finishing line.

Between Thursday, Nov. 1 and Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Trump will visitMissouri, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio, with double appearances in Missouri and Indiana.

These are all critical states for Republicans hoping to maintain control of the House and the Senate in the 116th Congress.

Real Clear Politics, a group which aggregates non-partisan polling data, identifies Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and Montana as “toss up” states for control of the Senate. West Virginia is considered a left leaning toss up and Tennessee a right leaning toss up. If all of these states went red, Republicans could garner at least 58 seats in the Senate — an historic achievement.

If anyone is interested in making history, it is President Trump.

Harris Poll conducted by Harvard University last month found that 46 percent of registered Republicans associate with Trump, while 25 percent associate with the GOP itself. The Republican Party is now the party of Donald Trump, and his advocacy is necessary for pushing candidates to victories.

Senior Policy Director with America First Policies, Curtis Ellis told ALG President Rick Manning in an interview, “[President Trump] is doing what he did in the final days of the 2016 election cycle. He is flying nonstop, racking up frequent flyer miles, visiting every battle ground possible and mobilizing voters… It is the Trump voters that will be decisive in this election in the next few days… Trump understands that and that is why he is going out and hitting the voters that need to be hit.”

By visiting these critical states just days before the election, President Trump is reminding voters that voting Republican is voting for the America First agenda.

It might be working, too. NBC News now reports that Republicans hold a 2-point lead in early voting nationwide, 43 percent to 41 percent against Democrats, in what can only be described as potentially ominous sign for Democrats, who had been banking on a Blue Wave on Nov. 6.

In Florida, Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott appears to be trailing Democrat Bill Nelson by a mere two points. And Republican Governor candidate Ron DeSantis is trailing Democrat Andrew Gillum by three. Voter turnout on Election Day itself could determine the election.

Particularly in the panhandle, a right leaning area where Hurricane Matthew continues to displace residents and possibly prevent them from voting. To energize voters to still make it out to the polls, the President will be visiting Pensacola this weekend.

Indiana, a state which Trump won by 20 points in 2016, now leans toward Democrat Tim Donnelly by less than a point. Trump also won Missouri by over 20 points, but Democrat Josh Hawley leads Republican Claire McCaskill by two points. But President Trump’s decision to visit these states twice just days before voters head to the polls can energize the base enough to propel a Republican victory.

While Georgia does not have a key Senate race in the midterms, the Governor’s race has caught national attention and pulled in the President to visit. President Trump won the state by a slimmer margin than other victories, and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp only leads the polls by just over 1 point — making it one of the tightest races.

This race has also become a symbol of ideological division as Kemp — an NRA and Trump endorsed candidate battles against Stacey Abrams — who has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, former President Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

These races are simply too close to ignore and while previously candidates have cooled off campaigning in the days leading up to the election, President Trump has only ramped up his efforts, laying it all on the line. President Trump attracted many new members to the Republican Party in 2016 and it is clear he must continue to sway people to the right in order for a “red wave” to take place.

Over the next few days, Trump’s rallies will liven the Republican base and continue to give them a reason to vote on November 6.

Natalia Castro is the multimedia director at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of her articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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NEW NJ LAW ALLOWS CORY BOOKER AKA SPARTACUS TO RUN FOR BOTH SENATE AND PRESIDENT

By DANIEL SONNINSHINE

Thanks to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Spartacus, er—Cory Booker, is now legally able to run for both Senate and President in the 2020 election.

The new state law, dubbed “Cory’s Law” for its likely first taker, allows any sitting U.S. Senator or House of Representatives member to pursue both re-election to Congress and a presidential (or vice presidential) nomination in the same election year. Murphy signed this bill into law on Thursday, November 1. While dual office-seeking had not been specifically prohibited by law prior to this, state statute was unclear on the issue. The new legislation, in part, reads “No provision of [state election law], or of any other law, rule, or regulation shall be interpreted as to prevent a person from accepting a nomination by petition” to run for President and Congress simultaneously. The legal language was crafted to prevent court battles that could get in the way of Booker’s race to both Capitol Hill and the White House.

To that end, Spartacus has already visited Iowa and New Hampshire in attempts to gather support for a potential 2020 run. A longtime liberal media darling, he has been touted as one of the frontrunners for the Democrat nomination in 2020. Should he fail to gain the presidential nomination, he can always fall back on being a senator or even the vice presidential nominee.

Republicans who opposed the law pointed out that in 2015 the Democrats attempted to pass legislation that would forbid a current office holder to seek the presidential nomination. Those were different times, of course, as Republican Chris Christie was governor and pursuing the presidential nomination. Had the bill passed, which it did not, and Christie had won the nomination, which he did not, he would have had to resign as governor. But now, with Booker charging toward the presidency, the Democrats have changed their position. Republican state Chairman Doug Steinhardt noted that the Democrats’ rush to pass this legislation in an effort to help Booker shows “the depths of their duplicity.”

And Republican State Senator Gerald Cardinale (R – Bergen) criticized Booker’s inability to decide which office he wants to hold. “Spartacus had the courage to make decisions,” Cardinale stated. “He ain’t no Spartacus.”

Daniel Sonninshine is an Empire State News staff writer, who is in search of greatness. A 20-something smart fellow, he is now lifting weights in an effort to obtain more power. If that doesn’t work, he will ask to write more editorials for Empire State News and less fact articles.

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LAME DUCK OPPORTUNITY FOR GOP TO CUT SPENDING, PASS MERIT ACT, BUILD WALL AND ATLANTIC PIPELINE

By Robert Romano

Come what may in the November midterms, whether Republicans hold Congress or not, afterward there are a number of spending measures that remain to be enacted by Congress for Fiscal Year 2019.

So far, all Congress has finished and had signed into law by President Donald Trump are Defense, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Energy, Military Construction and Legislative Affairs.

That leaves Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Commerce, Justice, Science, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, State, Foreign Operations and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said the unfinished business gives Republicans an opportunity in November and December to enact the Trump agenda, including the wall and the President’s call for non-defense discretionary spending to be cut by 5 percent.

“Regardless of the outcome of the midterms, the lame duck session will present the GOP with a rare opportunity to pass legislation that limits the size and scope of government and hopefully implement President Trump’s call to cut spending by 5 percent,” Manning said.

That would amount to about $28 billion in savings, right there, if implemented, which, after the $779 billion deficit for FY 2018, would be welcomed by taxpayers.

Other agenda items that are definitely coming up is full funding for the southern border wall, which would need to be included in the Homeland Security funding bill, a key Trump and Republican campaign promise, and with the migrant caravan still headed for the border, one with some urgency.

Policy riders could also be tied to funding that limit government, for example, the MERIT Act by U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), that would expedite the firing of federal employees. Similar reform was passed for the Department of Veterans Affairs after too many veterans died waiting for medical attention. Now, the same reforms need to be enacted across the board to all departments and agencies.

For the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will transport natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, Congress could include a simple rider that allows the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, avoiding costly and time-consuming lawsuits.

Also of interest, the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Plans is expected to complete its work on a report to make recommendations for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Congress to follow in addressing 114 out of the nation’s 1,400 multiemployer pension plans covering 1.3 million workers being underfunded by $36.4 billion.

This could be addressed now, or later. But chances are, Congress will address it.

In fact, these are all things likely to come up, and depending on how the midterms go, Republicans can address them in the lame duck, or take their chances in 2019 when, who knows, Nancy Pelosi might be Speaker. Midterms are usually not kind to the President’s party, and while the GOP holding onto the Senate seems likely, the fate of the House still hangs in the balance.

Depending on how things go in November, clearing the decks on the Trump and Republican agenda in Congress after the election might be the last full opportunity until 2021 the earliest. Something to keep in mind.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.  You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

NJ SENATE RACE NOW BECOMING A CLOSE ONE

By CANDY STALLWORTH

Election Day is quickly approaching, and with it comes endless political analysis, predicting, modeling, and polling. For those who have been following the polls for weeks and months, it seemed like New Jersey’s Senate race would not be much of a contest. Now, the polls are putting Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and his opponent, Republican pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, closer than ever.

Inside Elections, one political analysis publication, has characterized New Jersey as “Likely Democratic” for this year’s Senate race; this has remained so throughout the election cycle. But most recently, the Cook Political Report has put New Jersey’s election into the “Toss Up” category. This report, and many other news reports, attribute Hugin’s surge to political advertising. According to the most recent FEC report, Hugin has spent $27.7 million, while Menendez spent $11.8 million. SuperPACs are pouring in millions for both candidates.

Hugin’s millions are largely being spent on political ads that focus on Menendez’s corruption charges and ethics issues. Although his trial ended in a mistrial and thus he was not convicted, the negative perception remains. Perhaps the frequency with which voters are seeing these ads is having an effect. Pundits point out that the recent shift in the polls is not so much voter desire to see Hugin elected but rather a wish to not have Menendez remain in office. These analysts point to the June Democratic primary, where an unknown challenger garnered 38% of the vote. While Menendez’s victory was decisive, the margin was actually smaller than expected.

RealClear Politics, which analyzes results of different polls, puts Menendez up 7.7 points. In the varied polls, Menendez’s lead ranges from 5 to 10 points. More polls are coming soon, so this may change—in either direction, of course. With a little over a week to the midterm elections, it should be an interesting ride.