Each Monday we feature several important stories in US politics — ones that just occurred, are defining moments, or are key markers on the horizon. We call these Monday Eye Openers.
Obama Hit Swing States Hard
With most polls showing the candidates running neck and neck, President Obama has a two-day campaign blitz planned next week.
Starting with Iowa on Wednesday, the President will spend two days visiting six swing states, ending with fiercely-contested Ohio. Rather than spending nights in hotels, Mr. Obama will camp on Airforce One and make use of travel time to call undecided voters.
Most news stories regale us with breathless updates on the cliffhanger race between Mitt Romney and President Obama, but perhaps we should be keeping an eye on those “other” candidates.
Two-time New Mexico Governor and former Republican Gary Johnson, now the Libertarian candidate for president, may attract fiscally conservative but socially progressive voters and is thought to have the most potential for disruption in Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Although grudging Romney voters may find him an attractive option, historically third party candidates do not live up to polling expectations.
He’s not the only alternative for voters not seeing their dream candidate in the Obama/Romney contest.
The Green Party is sponsoring Dr. Jill Stein, a physician and former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate. The Justice Party is represented by Rocky Anderson, a two-term former mayor of Salt Lake City, and the Constitution Party is standing Virgil Goode, former member of the House of Representatives and a politician who has pursued office as an independent, a Democrat, and a Republican.
Intrigued – or perhaps just ready for a change from the intense back and forth of the Obama/Romney race? The third-party debate sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation and moderated by Larry King this Tuesday may prove diversionary.
Debate viewers can relay questions to King via Twitter by using the #AskEmThisLarry hashtag.
Loss of another Political Icon: George McGovern
Former Senator George McGovern passed away in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Sunday morning. Known for his dedication to social justice and anti-poverty legislation, Mr. McGovern famously lost his bid in the 1972 presidential election to Richard Nixon. The rest, as they say, is history.
McGovern remained a staunch defender of the anti-war, anti-discrimination platform and a defender of the environment and the middle class.
“We are the party that believes we can’t let the strong kick aside the weak,” Mr. McGovern once wrote. “Our party believes that poor children should be as well educated as those from wealthy families. We believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes and that everyone should have access to health care.”
Here in Washington State We Have Our Own Cliffhanger
The Washington State gubernatorial race between Democrat and former congressman Jay Inslee and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna has been touted on of “four governor races to watch.” Inslee’s slender 2-point lead puts him in a statistical dead heat with McKenna. At $12 million in campaign funds raised to date, McKenna has a financial advantage over Inslee, whose campaign fund tops off at $10.5 million.
While far apart on some issues, our state gubernatorial candidates have both painted themselves as pro-education and in favor of business tax cuts. On the issue of same-sex marriage, the candidates fall along party lines, with Inslee supporting Referendum 74 and McKenna opposing. Likewise, Inslee voted for the Affordable Care Act as a congressman, while McKenna participated in a multi-state attorneys general lawsuit to overturn it.
It promises to be an interesting week.