A New Group for the Rogues Gallery of Candidates

The Washington Post just published a story about 30 members of the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party who have urged Biden to bypass Ukraine and negotiate directly with Putin to end the war against Ukraine. This plays directly into Putin’s narrative about the war and has no chance of accomplishing a lasting peace.

Anyone who does not realize that lasting peace in Ukraine, and Eastern Europe generally, requires Russia’s defeat and Ukraine’s admission to NATO has not been paying attention.

Russia’s word on any peace agreement is meaningless. They previously agreed to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, in return for Ukraine handing over Soviet era nuclear weapons to Russia. The U.S. and the U.K. were co-signatories to that agreement. If America fails to support Ukraine, our word will also be meaningless.

If Russia is able to carve up Ukraine because it has nuclear weapons and Ukraine does not, we can expect all independent countries to acquire nuclear weapons in short order.

It is common for the far left and the far right to both be wrong. It is ironic that they are both wrong on this issue and are both taking, more or less, the same position. In this case both the extreme left and the extreme right have decided to play the role of “useful idiots” for the Kremlin.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, along with many other members of the Progressive Caucus, did have the wisdom to part company with the group of 30 on this issue. For that reason we are not including the entire Progressive Caucus in the Rogues Gallery. For a list of those who did sign, they can be found at the end of the letter they sent to Biden (link in Washington Post article). Or you can go to our Rogues Gallery for the the complete list of Rogues.

What Outcome Should Centrists Hope for in the 2022 Mid-Term Elections?

Definition of Success for Centrist in 2022 Mid Terms.

What Outcome Should Centrists Hope for in 2022?

Here is what I’d like to see happen at the end of the 2022 mid-terms. The Senate would remain split 50-50. The Democrats would remain in control of the House by just 1 vote.

If this happens it will probably be because Trump-endorsed Republicans will have lost in contests that a more moderate Republican could easily have won. This outcome will also make it clear to Democrats that they have no mandate. Their success was the result of the other side’s foolishness (or their own hypocrisy in promoting Trump-endorsed candidates in the primaries), not because America hungers for a progressive agenda.

This outcome should make it clear to both sides that success in 2024 requires moving toward the center. Republicans should abandon Trump, as political poison. Democrats should find and promote centrist candidates within their ranks and do their best to hush up the far left. Both parties should accept that rallying your base at the expense of alienating the center is bad campaign strategy.

If you have a different vision of centrist success, please comment below.

Guidelines for Centrists Voting in the 2022 Mid-Term Elections.

Vote to Move the Politics to the Center

What Should Centrists Do in the 2022 General Election?

The Centrist Independent Voter is a new organization. We have a very small, all volunteer staff. With the limited time and resources available to us this year, we have tried to identify some high profile, mostly U.S. Senate, races and endorsed candidates in the primaries and the general election in those races.

Beyond those specific endorsements, I have some general advice about how to promote a more sane and centrist approach to politics during the general election in 2022.

First, vote against any candidate that owes their position on the ballot to Donald Trump. This does not mean voting for every Democrat. It does not even mean voting against every Republican that Donald Trump endorses. Trump has endorsed many candidates who would have won easily without his support and did not go out of their way to ask for it. It does mean voting against any candidate that would not be on the ballot in the general election were it not for Donald Trump’s endorsement. Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio, and Herschal Walker in Georgia come to mind. Many of these candidates show up in our Rogues Gallery of Candidates.

Second, where the first rule does not dominate, vote against Democratic candidates that are endorsed by the “Working Families Party.” This far-left organization includes Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren along with the so-called Squad in the House of Representatives. Many of these candidates, also, show up in our Rogues Gallery of Candidates.

Third, vote for those Republicans who crossed party lines to support bi-partisan infrastructure, gun control, and aid to Ukraine legislation or to vote for Trump’s impeachment/conviction. This rule is rarely in conflict with the first rule, as far as I know.

Fourth, vote for fiscally conservative Democrats who broke party ranks to oppose excessive government spending and who oppose packing the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster rule in the Senate. This rule is never in conflict with the second rule, as far as I know.

Unfortunately, there may be races where these rules conflict with each other. In those cases, I would recommend that you start with the first and work your way down.

Utah U.S. Senate Race

Vote in the U.S. Senate Race in Utah.

There is nothing normal about the 2022 race for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah.

Mike Lee (R) is the incumbent and was initially a heavy favorite. The race is now too close to call. Mike Lee is a full throated Trump supporter. Lee’s opponent, Evan McMullen is a conservative who has been endorsed by the Democratic Party in Utah.

While there is no true centrist running in Utah, you would not expect to see one in what is certainly among the most conservative states.

McMullen has promised not to caucus with either party in the Senate. That may be a mistake since it would limit his access to committee appointments. In our view, if he wins, he should caucus with the majority party. This is especially valuable if he gives that party a majority, in which case he should demand key committee assignments as a quid pro quo. He should then feel free to break party ranks and vote truly independently on legislation.

For the Centrist Independent Voter this is not a difficult call. The Centrist Independent Voter enthusiastically endorses Evan McMullen for the U.S. Senate seat from Utah.

Florida U.S. Senate Race

Our Board of Governors is still wrestling with whether to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio (R), the incumbent, or Rep. Val Demings (D) in the Florida U.S. Senate race.

Some oppose Rubio because he has Trump’s endorsement and because he co-sponsored Lindsay Graham’s national ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Some are also put off by Rubio’s dismissal of a bi-partisan effort to protect same sex marriage rights, legislatively, at the federal level as a “waste of time.”

Some oppose Val Demings because she consistently voted along party lines in the House and was therefore likely to be a rubber stamp for Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D) in the U.S. Senate. This later fear is made all the more important by the fact that President Biden recently announced that if he gets two more votes in the Senate and keeps control of the House, he will support overturning the filibuster rule. Rep. Demings has referred to the filibuster rule as a “procedural game,” so we know where she stands.

Faced with the inability to find a majority in support of either of the two major party candidates, I decided to examine the issue positions of the other candidates in the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

The Libertarian candidate was far too isolationist for us. Many of the others were either too right wing or too vague to be worth considering.

One candidate had a surprisingly thoughtful, albeit short, set of policy positions that struck me as remarkably centrist and reasonable: Tuan Nguyen. To see his platform, click here: Platform.

I realize that Nguyen has little to no chance to win the election. However, if a centrist candidate were able to capture enough votes to prevent either major party candidate from having a majority, that could be important. If the votes for a centrist, non-affiliated candidate would have provided the margin of victory to the major party candidate that loses, we will have made an important point.

If either of the major party candidates were notably more centrist than the other, the opportunity cost of casting a vote for Nguyen might be considered too high. That does not appear to be the case.

If you were considering not voting because you cannot abide either of the major party candidates, please consider voting for Tuan Nguyen. There is no downside.

It is very easy to imagine that a centrist candidate could win if Florida adopts Ranked Choice Voting. Until then, it is important to do everything possible to demonstrate that extremism of the right and the left are not good campaign strategies.

At this point our Board of Governors is still trying to decided who, if anyone, to endorse in this race. I suspect that the fact that Nguyen’s platform does not address the issues of abortion, the filibuster, and court packing may make it difficult for the Board to endorse him. Nevertheless , Tuan Nguyen has my personal endorsement in the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

North Carolina General Election for U.S. Senate

North Carolina U.S. Senate Election

As Donald Trump’s problems mount, many Republican Senate candidates are now trying to distance themselves from him. Ted Budd, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate for North Carolina, is an exception to that trend. He has doubled down on his association to Trump while also emphasizing his support for national legislation to restrict abortion after 15 weeks.

To see Budd’s positions on a number of issues, visit his website.

His Democratic opponent Cheri Beasley is the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She is no centrist but counts as a moderate among Democrats, although her willingness to consider expanding the U.S. Supreme Court seems less than moderate.

To see Beasley’s positions on a number of issues, visit her website.

Those familiar with the Centrist Independent Voter’s Policy Positions will know that we don’t align well with either of these candidates.

Nevertheless, the Centrist Independent Voter endorses Cheri Beasley for the U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina. We do so because of Budd’s close association with Trump and because Beasley is more moderate than most of the Democratic Party.

Alaska General Election for the U.S. Senate

The Alaska U.S. Senate Election.

Alaska is Using Ranked Choice Voting

Alaska now uses a non-partisan, primary voting system in which the top four candidates advance to the general election regardless of party. The general election is then decided by ranked choice voting. In ranked choice voting the candidate with the lowest number of first place votes will be eliminated. For example, if you voted for the eliminated candidate in first place, your second place candidate will receive a first place vote and your third place candidate will receive a second place vote and so on. The votes are then recalculated until someone receives an outright majority of first place votes. The Centrist Independent Voter fully supports this approach to elections as the best way to move American politics toward the center and away from extremism of both the right and the left.

The Results of the Alaskan Non-Partisan Primary

The top four candidates in the Alaskan non-partisan U.S. Senate primary are in order of the number of votes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the incumbent; Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-backed Republican challenger; Patricia Chesbro, a progressive Democrat; and Buzz Kelly (R). Kelley, the fourth place finisher in the Alaskan primary, has chosen not to run in the general election, so the election should only require a maximum of two rounds of calculations.

If you favor the Democrat you can safely vote for her and make Murkowski your second choice without risking the possibility that your vote will help the Trump-backed candidate win. If you despise the Democrats, you can vote for Murkowski and let the other Republican be your second choice and there is no chance that your vote will help the Democrat win.

The beauty of the system is that you can vote how you feel without fearing that you will be wasting your vote on a losing candidate or enabling the success of your least liked candidate.

Our Endorsement

Sen. Murkowski is not a centrist, but she is among the most moderate Republican senators. We therefore endorse her over her Republican, Trump-backed, opponent and over the progressive Democrat.

Endorsement In the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race

New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race

The New Hampshire Senate Race Should be Closer than It Is

Normally, the New Hampshire Senate race would be in play since the the incumbent Democrat, Maggie Hassan, only defeated her Republican opponent by 0.1% when she took office six years ago. But despite the fact that mid-term elections generally turn against the party in power and the fact that President Biden still suffers from low approval ratings, Hassan appears to be about 11% ahead of her Republican opponent, Don Bolduc, a Trump endorsed extremist.

The reason Bolduc won in the primary is two-fold. The first is poor judgment on the part of Republicans in nominating him. The second is cynical hypocrisy on the part of some Democrats in promoting the election of Bolduc during the Republican primary.

It is difficult to understand how Democrats can think that their claims that MAGA Republicans are a threat to the nation will be taken seriously when they promote the election of MAGA Republicans in the primaries. All it leaves one with is the feeling that these Democrats are every bit as power hungry and indifferent to the fate of the nation as the Republicans they decry for sticking with Donald Trump.

The Centrist Independent Endorsement (with a caveat)

Sen. Maggie Hassan is a moderate Democrat. We might well have endorsed her even if the Trump endorsed candidate had not won the Republican primary. At this point, we have to move forward and endorse the more moderate candidate, while noting our disgust at the craven cynicism of Democrats who promote the election of the very candidates they believe constitute an existential threat to the nation.

With that caveat noted, the Centrist Independent Voter endorses Sen. Maggie Hassan for the U.S. Senate seat from New Hampshire.

Wisconsin U.S. Senate Race

U.S. Senate Race in Wisconsin.

A Far Right Incumbent

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) is running to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, he is far to the right on issues like abortion and climate change and he supports Trump’s outrageous claims about the 2020 election. He is also endorsed by Donald Trump.

A Far Left Challenger

Given all of the above, the Centrist Independent Voter would probably endorse Johnson’s opponent. Sadly, Mandela Barnes (D) is a self-described Progressive and a member of the Working Families Party. His positions on most issues are on the far left of the political spectrum.

Wisconsin is an excellent example of what happens when the base of both parties get to choose who we can vote for in the general election. I cannot in good conscience recommend endorsing either of them.

The Alternative

There is a third party, write-in candidate, Scott Aubart, from the American Independent Party. Aubart does not have a serious chance of winning, so voting for him is really a protest vote. I do not normally recommend protest votes, feeling that it is better to choose the lesser of two evils. I will, therefore, stop short of endorsing Aubart. You should check out his website. He is hard to pin down in terms of political philosophy. He claims to be centrist. He appears to be pro-abortion rights and pro-gun rights (with some interesting reservations in both areas). He is no libertarian, he recommends larger government in the areas of health care and education. He is interesting.

The Best Outcome

If the margin of victory for the winner in this race is far less than the vote for the third party candidate, it might make it clear to both parties that they need to turn toward the center. That would be a good thing.

Endorsement In Arizona U.S. Senate Election.

Vote In Arizona Election for U.S. Senate.

Mitch McConnell is Right Again

Arizona provides another example of poor candidate selection on the part of Republicans handing over the Senate seat to a Democrat. The cause of that poor candidate selection was the same one we have seen in other battleground states: Donald Trump.

Mark Kelly is Not an Ideal Choice for Centrists

On policy issues Mark Kelly sits between the Progressive camp and the left-of-center Democrats. For a review of positions he has taken visit: OntheIssues.org. He is no centrist, though he needs to appeal to centrists to win in Arizona. Luckily, for Mark Kelly, Trump weighed in and endorsed Blake Masters, a far-right election denier. Masters has been trying to walk back positions he took during the primaries, but in the internet age that is easier said than done.

Centrist Independent Voter Endorsement

The Centrist Independent Voter endorses Mark Kelly for the U.S. Senate seat from Arizona. While no centrist, Kelly is closer to the center than Masters.

Why does the Centrist Independent Voter support so many Democrats in key Senate races?

You may have noticed that, so far, our endorsements in the general election races for U.S. Senate have all been for Democrats. It didn’t have to be that way. Had Republicans rejected the Trump endorsed far-right candidates during the primaries, I suspect we would have endorsed a roughly equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

I suspect we might be less willing to weigh in against these Trump-backed candidates if we thought the Democrats were in a position to seize a majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. That is unlikely. We are very likely to see a Republican majority in the House and, in my opinion, a modest Democratic majority in the Senate. That means divided government for the next two years. Things could be worse.

Perhaps Republicans will come to their senses and abandon loyalty to Trump and Trumpism and move to the center in 2024. If that happens, I suspect the Centrist Independent Voter will be endorsing a more equally balanced slate of candidates. If Democrats view success in the U.S. Senate races as endorsement of the Progressive agenda and tilt left during the 2024 primaries, you can probably expect a reversal of this years pattern of endorsements in 2024.