When does independence in a politician become inconsistency? Does it matter? An election held near my town this week says it does – and that inconsistency sometimes just doesn’t pay.

The race was for a state senate seat. The candidates were two experienced politicians – one an alderman in the state’s largest city, the other a former state senator trying to reclaim his old seat. The district sprawls over a Democrat-leaning large city and several GOP-leaning towns. In the previous two elections, the district alternated between Republican and Democratic winners. In short, the usual indicators showed no hard advantage for either of this week’s candidates.

The Democrat won, and it wasn’t close. “A stunning repudiation of the Trump-[state governor] agenda,” crowed the state Democratic director, in a statement that was probably drafted on election night 2016 and kept in a drawer for a day like yesterday.

Nice try at grabbing the credit, but neither the President nor the Governor had a thing to do with it. Consistency, and neighbors who respected it, made the difference.

The Democrat is a down-the-line party man. Local voters who agreed with him on issues had every reason to come out and vote.  Apparently, some voters who disagreed with him didn’t find a compelling alternative on the one-race ballot.

The Republican, a nice enough guy with a positive voting record in many respects, was nevertheless inconsistent. Sometimes he voted along party lines, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he see-sawed on a topic.

  • The state party is pro-right-to-work and anti-casino (the latter, mostly because of the effect a casino would have on local small businesses in the hospitality and lodging industries). This week’s candidate was the opposite.
  • The candidate supported Medicaid expansion when it came up for a vote a couple of years ago, despite uncertainty in how to fund it – effectively making a promise to indigent residents without having the resources to back it up.
  • The party, on paper anyway, is pro-life; the candidate had been on the prevailing side five years ago when the state senate rejected an informed-consent-for-abortion measure on a 12-11 vote. Even so, he had pro-life votes as well over the years, including a splendid series of votes against anti-First-Amendment zones outside abortion facilities.

Call it independence or call it inconsistency, but it didn’t work out for him this week, even though he may be a nice guy and an experienced public servant. In a special election, with nothing else on the ballot, too many people couldn’t get excited enough over his mixed record to get to the polls.

I overheard a conversation this morning between a state GOP official and a GOP state representative. The party official detailed the things the party had done in the state senate race: door knocking, phone calls, ads, poll standers, the whole routine. The state rep then gently broke the news to her: it wasn’t the party that lost the election. It was the candidate. “That Medicaid expansion vote killed him.” And that was a friend of the candidate talking.

Independence of mind and spirit and conscience – that’s one thing. Throwing on a party’s mantle and expecting it to cover a multitude of inconsistencies – that’s another. When there’s only one race on the ballot, a candidate’s record looms large.

Here I’ll quote Skip Murphy of Granite Grok, a friend of DTG, who has been known to preach this particular message with a revivalist’s fervor: consistency breeds trust yields votes. 

Inconsistency breeds special election result like yesterday’s.

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com

by baldilocks

Filling in for the illustrious Fausta, who will return next week.

Today, President Trump announced that the US military will revert to its former policy of barring transsexuals from entering the military. As we recall, it was Former President Obama who changed the long-standing ban on transsexual military service.

As I posted this morning, there are hundreds of medical conditions – physical and mental – which prevent service in the US military.

One of my civilian friends asked whether this means that transsexuals who are already serving honorably will be involuntarily separated from the service. Good question. Most of us who have served know that entry standards and service standards are similar but separate.

So let’s find out what’s what.

Fox News featured the president’s tweets on the topic and it is here where the ambiguity lies…no pun intended.

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Okay, his statements are not that ambiguous. I fully understand the entry policy, but does this mean that the transsexuals already serving will be mandatorily retired? Sounds like a precarious policy. Notice that I don’t call it “unfair.” My service taught me two overarching lessons: that life is inherently unfair and that feces happens. But I do think that those who are serving without incident — medical or otherwise — have earned the privilege of continuing to serve. But it isn’t my call.

If the DOD speculates that the service by transsexuals brings with it too much potential readiness- and money-costing drama and not enough benefit to war-fighting capability, then trans persons will likely be medically-retired.

Let the crying continue.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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Many things about the presidency of Donald Trump defy the normal conventional wisdom concerning elected officials and politics. His relationship with the media, his public tweets, his extensive business dealings all over the world and of course his dynamic personality are all things that can and have thrown professional prognosticator for a loop when deciding exactly where he stands or what direction he will go on an issue.

A great practical example of this dynamic is the issue of online gambling.

To both the causal gambler who occasionally enjoys the occasional casino visit or likes a hand of online blackjack or the serious player who hopes to hone his poker skills online to become the next Scott Blumstein, the administration’s decision on online gambling might be of casual interest.

But for a professional pundit, congress watcher or lobbyist knowing where an administration is going directly affects their livelihood.

This would be an easier call in the old days with a regular pol.  In a normal situation one would expect that a pol who had heavy backing from supporters like Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate would reflexively oppose online gambling in deference to such a big donor who has made restricting it his cause with some success. Likewise as the winds of opinion begin to shift on sports betting you would expect to see a politician’s ear very close to the shifting ground to keep the various sports leagues, a large potential source of campaign revenue happy.

In such a situation the professional pundit, congress watcher, much like an experienced gambler, could confidently predict the chances of any such legislation passing and a lobbyist for either side of these issues would be able to inform their clients where an if their efforts should be concentrated to make their goals.

In a Trump administration it’s a little more tricky.

First of all there is President Trump’s own vast wealth and name recognition. The combination of millions of his own dollars available to invest in his campaign with a name and a persona that was already well known to the public not only is his dependency on individual big donors considerably smaller, but his relationships with such men, as they previously existed, means he approaches them as an equal rather than a supplicant. Furthermore he won his first election despite being outspent both in the primaries and in the general election

Second of all there is his own history and experience with the gaming industry. Starting with no experience but understanding that a casino with a hotel can produce more profit than even the grandest lodgings without one, he studied the industry when he was ready dived in making a name for himself in the industry even being named to the World Gaming Congress Hall of Fame. This gives him a perspective on the issue that most pols would not have.

Finally added to this is the politics of the matter, according to a recent Washington Post report two allies that President Trump has clashed with in his first six months have made contrary moves. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to reexamine the rulings authorizing online gaming while Governor Christie on behalf of his state which has benefited from such gaming publicly urging the president to avoid such a ban. (It certainly doesn’t hurt the timing of Christie’s argument that Poker’s newest champion World Champion Scott Blumstein credits his experience in online casinos for his victory.)

For us amateurs this uncertainly of the President’s position is a source of mild amusement no different than playing a few dollars on the slots of an online casino, a bit of fun, maybe some profit but not life and death.

But for the political class seeking power and lobbyists with millions at stake for themselves and their clients, the inability to predict with certainty where President Trump stands on online gambling or any issue is a spin of the wheel that they wish they could avoid and is one of the reasons why they long for the days of business as usual.