The Political Legacy of O’Malley’s Gerrymandered Maryland

‘Governor Gerrymander’ could have made a bad map better; instead he made it worse.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, speaks before the National Urban League, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A fter the 2010 Tea-Party-fueled Republican takeover of the House, the Democratic Party was desperate to regain the congressional seats they’d lost in 2012. Democrats in the deep-blue state of Maryland had a rare opportunity. If they got creative with the upcoming redistricting of the state, they could likely flip a congressional seat from red to blue. They succeeded. But the result was what many have called the most blatantly gerrymandered congressional district map in the entire country. Operating in a deep blue state, Maryland’s Democratic Party has long utilized the redistricting process as a thinly veiled political maneuver to entrench its power. In 2011, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is now vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, led that partisan gerrymandering...

2016: The Coming Train Wreck

The Republican demolition derby is worrying. But even more worrying is where that leaves the Democrats. 

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File In this June 25, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama walks with Vice President Joe Biden back to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington after the president spoke speaking in the Rose Garden. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . S ix months ago, the 2016 election looked to be predictable and boring: Clinton II vs. Bush III. Advantage: Clinton. Well, forget about that. The Republican demolition derby has been getting most of the publicity lately, but one should worry more about the Democrats. Consider: Hillary Clinton is sinking like a stone. She's falling in the polls. Conversations with her longtime friends and admirers indicate grave worry. She is not generating the excitement that the first prospective woman president should; the email mess is not going away; even the money advantage is not what was anticipated. And a self-declared socialist could defeat her in Iowa and New Hampshire. Even as she tacks left...

Where's Bernie's Platform on Reproductive Rights?

With reproductive freedom under attack at the state and federal level, what's Sanders's plan?

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom Friday, August 14, 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. B ernie Sanders has entered the presidential race with a bang. Virtually everything that Sanders espouses—tackling economic inequality, raising the minimum wage, breaking up the big banks, instituting single-payer health care—resonates strongly with progressive liberals. But, at a time when Republicans are doing everything in their power to restrict women’s rights, Sanders’s lack of policy proposals on the issue is curious. It’s not as if Sanders’s positions on women’s issues are problematic or not progressive. NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Senator Bernie Sanders a 100 percent rating in 2003, indicating that he holds pro-choice views. And in a 2012 Huffington Post op-ed, the Vermont senator blasted Republican efforts to roll back women's rights. “Not only are we not going to retreat on women's rights,” he wrote, “we are going to...

The Clinton Candidacy: What the Republican War on Planned Parenthood Is Really About

Abortion opponents know a pro-choice woman is likely to be the Democratic nominee. War on.

(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, in Des Moines. I n the Republican war on Planned Parenthood , there are many casualties, most notably, poor women and the truth . But the real target is the Democratic Party and its frontrunner for the 2016 presidential nomination. It should not surprise us that in a campaign in which the Democrats are expected to select Hillary Clinton as their nominee, government funding of Planned Parenthood’s health-care services is again a big issue. In the right-wing mind, there is no woman more uppity than a liberal woman who would deign to run for president. The second-most uppity woman is the one in somebody else’s family (or your own) who claims control of her own fertility. When the first is emblematic of the second, a season of hate against both is a no-brainer. Poor women rely on the Planned Parenthood clinics for the most fundamental health care a woman of childbearing age...

Rick Perry's Broke Campaign and Our Broken System

Running out of money isn't a problem for campaigns anymore, as long as they have billionaire-backed super PACs to do the work.

(Photo: AP/Rainier Ehrhardt)
(Photo: AP/Rainier Ehrhardt) Former Texas Governor Rick Perry during a campaign stop in South Carolina on August 13 T he newly bespectacled Rick Perry is facing an existential crisis in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. His foundering campaign committee has already gone broke and his super PAC supporters have taken the reins, essentially subsidizing his presidential bid until he can gain some much-needed momentum. After his failed primary run in 2012, Perry went back to the drawing board and was rumored to be running again in 2016, long before most other candidates emerged. He hired prominent political consultants and went through rigorous policy-training in an attempt to distance himself from his perception as a bumbling George W. Bush part deux. Pundits commended him and as the Republican primary landscape began to take shape, andmany saw him as a first-tier candidate. But as more and more candidates jumped into the ring, Perry struggled to distinguish himself, his...

The GOP Primary Is a Mess. Can Anyone Unite This Party?

(Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)
(Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik) The Republican presidential candidates stand on stage before the first GOP primary debate in Cleveland on August 6. J eb Bush is starting to remind me of someone. Tall guy, former governor, worshipped his politician dad? That's right, I'm talking about Mitt Romney. It isn't just the part about their fathers, or the fact that like Romney, Bush is the representative of the "establishment" and doesn't get a lot of love from the Tea Party base, or even that he seems to share Romney's propensity for reinforcing his most glaring electoral weaknesses. (Jeb spent much of the last week explaining how the Iraq War was actually a tremendous success and we just need to bring back the Bush Doctrine, which is a great way to win over the many voters pining for a rerun of George W.'s term in office.) It's also that Bush's only path to his party's nomination may be to duplicate what Romney did successfully in 2012: use his money (and dogged persistence) to hang around while...

Republicans Slut-Shame Megyn Kelly, Reward Trump

(Photo: AP/John Minchillo)
(Photo: AP/John Minchillo) Fox News host and moderator Megyn Kelly, listens during the first Republican presidential debate on August 6. D onald Trump cherishes women. I know that because he told me so . (Well, not me specifically; rather, the media who followed him to Michigan where he gave a press conference ahead of a big speech yesterday.) The speech came in the wake of Trump’s apparent reference to the menstrual cycle of Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who dared to ask the real-estate magnate and reality-show actor, during last week’s Republican presidential debate, to defend the many disparaging remarks he has made about women, particularly about the appearance of women with whom he takes issue. “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” Kelly said to Trump as part of a question about whether his temperament was appropriate for the role of presidential nominee. “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump replied. A day later, when Trump accused Kelly of...

Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, and the Power of Disruption

Trump, like BLM, is upsetting business as usual for party leaders. BLM's intervention just happens to be much more constructive. 

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Marissa Johnson, left, speaks as Mara Jacqueline Willaford stands with her and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders stands nearby as the two women take over the microphone at a rally Saturday, August 8, 2015, in downtown Seattle. An earlier version of this article appeared at The Huffington Post . I t was a good week for disruptive innovation. Three protestors very loosely affiliated with Black Lives Matter shut down Bernie Sanders yet again , this time at a Seattle rally Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, Donald Trump escalated his disruptive impact on the Republican presidential field, with a post-debate remark implying that Fox reporter Megyn Kelly was menstruating when she asked him provocative questions, fittingly, about his coarse put-downs of women. The two forms of disruption invite comparison. Protestors invoking BLM are disrupting the most progressive candidate in the Democratic field. Why? Because in the year since the murder of...

The Party Strikes Back—Or Tries to, Anyway

(Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik)
(Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik) Donald Trump speaks during the Fox News Republican presidential debate in Cleveland on August 6, as Jeb Bush watches. " It amazes me that other networks seem to treat me so much better than @FoxNews," Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday. "I brought them the biggest ratings in history, & I get zip!" Trump may not quite understand why Fox might be tough on him, but it's for the same reason that the Republican Party's leaders, conservative activists, and his primary opponents are trying to find ways to undermine him. The idea of him winning the presidential nomination—or even just staying in the race for an extended period of time—is horrifying for them. And every couple of weeks, Trump does or says something outrageous and they say to themselves, "OK, now this time we've really got him." So when Trump mixed it up a little with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly at the first debate last Thursday, then followed it up by seeming to imply that Kelly asked him tough...

The Growing Movement to Restore Voting Rights to Former Felons

On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, ex-felons in Baltimore demand the right to vote. 

Rachel M. Cohen
Rachel M. Cohen O n August 6, the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, dozens of Baltimore ex-felons rallied and marched alongside community members to protest their disenfranchisement. In May, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill which would have granted ex-felons the right to vote when they return home from prison, rather than making them wait until after their probation and parole sentences have been completed (some sentences can last for decades). Holding up signs that read, “We Want Taxation with Representation!” and “End the New Jim Crow!” protesters made clear that they understand the racial implications of the status quo. Had Hogan signed the bill into law, 40,000 more Maryland residents —a majority of them black Baltimoreans—would have been able to cast a ballot in the next election. “Override! Override! The veto! The veto!” protestors shouted together as they marched down the street. The crowd, well over 100 people, eventually gathered around a statue of...

No Time for Tone

AP Photo/John Minchillo
AP Photo/John Minchillo Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, August 6, 2015, in Cleveland. W ell, now at least we know where the Republican candidates stand on the minimum wage, paid sick days, student debt, climate change, CEO pay, and four decades of American wage stagnation. Just kidding. Somehow, the Fox News questioners never quite got around to asking the candidates what they planned to do to help actual existing Americans cope with a profoundly rigged economy and a climate growing annoyingly inhospitable to living things. Then again, the candidates were asked what God would want them to do on their first day in office, other than repeal Obamacare and invade Iran, and they could have used the occasion to talk about minimum wages and heat waves,...

Why Jeb Bush's Pitch to the Koch Brothers Should Scare You

(Photo: AP/John Raoux)
(Photo: AP/John Raoux) Jeb Bush speaks at a small business town hall meeting in Longwood, Florida, on July 27. A t the Koch brothers’ big California confabulation last weekend, each of the invited candidates who submitted to questioning on the main stage by Politico ’s Mike Allen made pointed pitches to ideological proclivities of both the multi-billionaire brothers and their deep-pocketed fellow travelers. But the winner of the pitching contest may turn out to be the one least expected to win himself some Koch-love. When she wasn’t offering to “throw a punch” at Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina applauded the “patriotism” of Charles and David Koch, implying that their neo-libertarian ideology of self-enrichment was a boon to the nation. Marco Rubio, in a smooth performance that likely persuaded some of his electability, took aim at the Obama administration’s new EPA “clean energy” regulations, suggesting they would benefit “some billionaire somewhere who is a pro-environmental cap-and-...

Bernie Learns His Lesson -- But Have the Rest of Us?

(Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP)
(Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP) Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders waits to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill on Wedneday, July 22. “ We want a nation where a young black man or woman can walk down the street without worrying about being falsely arrested, beaten, or killed,” Bernie Sanders told some 8,000 supporters in Dallas on July 19, the day after his contentious encounter with protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation. While Sanders, the socialist U.S. senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to have learned his lesson quickly, the same cannot necessarily be said for some of his most ardent followers, or for the progressive movement more broadly, where power rests primarily in the hands of white men. When Sanders announced his candidacy, I welcomed it—and I still do. Standing far to the left of likely nominee Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s presence in the race, coupled with...

Zephyr Teachout on Getting Big Money Out of Politics

Zephyr Teachout talks Citizens United, public financing, and her new role heading Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC. 

AP Photo/Mike Groll
AP Photo/Mike Groll Activist Zephyr Teachout speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in Albany, New York. I n 2014, the campaign finance reform activist and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig launched Mayday PAC —the super PAC to end super PACs. The group raised about $11 million and targeted support for candidates who were committed to reforming the role of money in politics. While its efforts in the 2014 election were largely unsuccessful, Lessig did succeed in jumpstarting a conversation about how to combat the private campaign financing of our elected officials, and more recently, the scourge of unlimited outside spending a la Citizens United . On Monday, it was announced that law professor and progressive firebrand Zephyr Teachout will be taking over the reins as Mayday plots its strategy for a 2016 election that will likely unleash an unprecedented amount of money. Most recently, Teachout challenged Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo for the New York State...

Why Donald Trump Matters

(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) In Oskaloosa, Iowa, on Saturday, Trump said to his supporters, "I'm very good with contracts. Don't you want that?" T he political press is struggling over how exactly to report on Donald Trump. On one hand, we absolutely love covering him—Trump's intoxicating combination of boorishness, ignorance, tactlessness, and overconfidence, all wrapped up in a gold-plated package, is utterly irresistible as copy. On the other hand, we feel a little guilty about it, as though we know it's bad for us and bad for the public. Which is what produces the endless assurances that, despite his rather remarkable strength in the polls, you should rest assured that he is not going to be his party's nominee. You see that judgment made about other candidates all the time, but seldom repeated so often and almost never for someone who is leading in all the primary polls. And while it might be true, we've now moved beyond the point where we don't have to take Trump seriously. It'...