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Georgia’s Senate Runoff Results Mark a Sea Change in American Politics

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Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia, and Jon Ossoff’s apparent win, would break Mitch McConnell’s grip on the Senate and the country.Photograph by Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Click Senate Special Runoff below to see results from the race between Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock, or General Election Runoff for results from the race between David Perdue and Jon Ossoff.



The pandemic makes all celebrations hushed and a little strange, including political-victory speeches. A little after 12:30 A.M. on Wednesday, the Reverend Raphael Warnock, the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and presumptive senator from Georgia, flickered onto a live stream, sitting alone in a small office. Over his left shoulder was a cross; over his right shoulder was a copy of Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.” Jon Ossoff, the other Democrat in Georgia’s twin runoffs for the Senate, appeared likely to unseat Senator David Perdue, but on Wednesday morning the race remained too close to call. If both Democrats win, they will give the Party, improbably, control of the U.S. Senate in January and President-elect Joe Biden a much better shot at passing meaningful legislation.

Warnock was reading from a prepared speech, at times a little jerkily, but he had a conversational tone and an easy grin. He barely mentioned the stakes of this election for Democratic policy goals, focussing instead on his own biography. Warnock is the eleventh of twelve children, was raised in a Savannah housing project, and now is the pastor of the church in Atlanta where Martin Luther King, Jr., served as pastor and John Lewis prayed. Warnock spoke of his mother. “The other day, because this is America, the eighty-two-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator.”

All kinds of historical loops were closing in Georgia on Tuesday night. There were long ones, like those that Warnock mentioned. He will be only the eleventh Black senator in American history, and the first Black Democrat to be elected to the Senate from the South. His victory, and Ossoff’s apparent one, was powered by very high turnout among African-American voters and comparatively low turnout among the rural white voters on whom the Republicans have increasingly come to rely. But there were shorter loops, too. Almost exactly six years ago, Mitch McConnell became the Majority Leader of the Senate, and, ever since, politics in Washington have been in what was starting to seem like a permanent state of stagnation. McConnell operated as a hand brake on Washington, and Washington as a hand brake on the country, until it was hard to separate the political condition from the national one. Problems festered. Scant legislation passed. Nothing ever seemed to change. Republicans fought eternally to manage their own extremists, never successfully, while deepening their institutional control, of the judiciary most of all. The progressive certainty that the arc of history was bending only strengthened, but Democrats continued narrowly losing all of the most important votes. Everything kept coming down to a coin flip, but the coin always flipped the same way.

The story has been similar in Georgia. Before this week, there had been eight statewide runoffs since 1992, and Republicans had won all eight. The Atlanta region kept growing, and becoming more progressive, but the state never quite turned. Even as Biden beat Donald Trump by eleven thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine votes in the state on November 3rd, there were heartening signs for McConnell: in both Senate races, the Republicans got more votes than the Democrats (though neither Perdue nor Loeffler reached the majority that would have averted Tuesday’s runoff). What happened between November 3rd and January 5th?

Just about everything. President Trump relentlessly, but ineffectively, tried to bully Republican state officials into finding some grounds to overturn Georgia’s results in the Presidential election, and some of his supporters issued death threats against those state Republican officials. Both Perdue and Loeffler were investigated for insider trading: they had sold off millions of dollars in stock after having received early briefings about the likely extent of the coronavirus pandemic. Loeffler’s campaign was accused of artificially darkening Warnock’s skin in some of the ads it ran. The very same tactics and compromises that have defined McConnell’s Republican Party—the cynical relationship with Trump, the comfort with defending the prerogatives of the rich, the weaponization of race—all backfired in Georgia. The margins were narrow again, but the conditions were different. This time, the coin flipped the other way.

If the Senate elections in Georgia constituted the first political event after Biden’s election, then they still seemed to belong very much to the Trump era: the lame-duck President’s efforts to overturn his own loss dominated the news throughout the runoff campaigns. Despite having so much at stake in the runoffs, Biden himself was a curiously intermittent presence in Georgia. He did arrive in Atlanta on Monday to hold an outdoor rally, where he sounded upbeat, promised healing, and seemed to belong to an entirely different time in American life than the one playing on the cable networks, in which Republican senators were promising to contest the certification of the election on Wednesday, despite having no evidence of fraud, and extremists were gathering in Washington for a pro-Trump rally. As votes were being counted in Georgia, some of those protesters were filmed fighting in D.C. with a line of riot police. Biden’s light presence was just as well; it let the focus drift elsewhere, to the long effort of activists to organize the progressive vote in Georgia. “The 10-year Stacey Abrams project to flip Georgia has nearly come to fruition,” ran a headline in the Times, just after midnight. At about 1:30 A.M. (with both races still uncalled, and Atlanta’s vote belatedly coming in) Ossoff took a very narrow lead over Perdue. Warnock’s race was called around 2 A.M. The hand brakes were off. The McConnell era seemed to be ending. Twice in Georgia—first in the Presidential race, and now in the Senate runoffs—the country’s politics had changed.

Just two weeks from Biden’s Inauguration, with his party likely to hold the slimmest of majorities in both houses of Congress, it’s hard to say what comes next. The wins by Democrats in 2020 were too narrow to banish Trumpism, as many in the Party had hoped they would. The challenges to election certification coming on Wednesday, led by the ambitious conservative Senators Josh Hawley, of Missouri, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, suggest that Trumpism may flourish; the QAnon-influenced paranoia among conservative media and the street demonstrations today to “Stop the Steal” suggest it may further darken. The Democratic Party’s path, too, is defined by tensions that are at least as generational as they are ideological, and which were present in Georgia. If Warnock represents the Party as it sees itself, then Ossoff—thirty-three years old, hyperactive on social media, with more family money than professional achievement behind him—embodies the Democratic Party as the Republicans see it. Neither Ossoff nor Warnock has ever held elected office; politically each remains, like Biden’s party, a little undefined. Ossoff didn’t speak in the early hours of Wednesday—his margins were smaller, so his campaign manager issued a press release expressing confidence that the vote would go the candidate’s way—leaving the stage to Warnock. Even the rough edges of Warnock’s speech, as he looked down to remember his text and then grinned up to recite it, contained some glimmer of hope. Politics has been stuck in the same place for so long. Here, at last, were two new faces.

Source: – The New Yorker

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Crosbie vows to clean up ‘Liberal corruption’ in Newfoundland and Labrador politics – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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While campaigning in Marystown on Thursday, Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie berated the Liberals over their governance of the province, saying he would put an end to “Liberal corruption.”

Though technical issues interrupted the livestream of Crosbie’s speech, a transcript was sent to reporters, and Crosbie took questions by phone.

Crosbie again said the most critical issue in the province is jobs, “but Liberal corruption, scandal and cronyism are barriers to job growth.”

Crosbie says after filing a freedom-of-information request for the draft of a report commissioned by the Liberal government and done by consulting firm Goss Gilroy, a discrepancy between the final report and the draft was discovered.

The $22,000 report asked people who had left the province why they left and what it would take for them to return.

“They tried to bury the finding that … a leading reason for not working in Newfoundland and Labrador is the perception that it was who you know that would get you a job,” Crosbie said.

Crosbie said the PCs would hire people based on merit, and the government has a role in setting an example for everyone, including the private sector.

When asked why Newfoundland and Labrador voters should trust this wouldn’t happen if he is elected, Crosbie said voters can look to his decades-long career as a lawyer.

“My practice has consistently been all about holding corporations and governments to account,” he said.

Crosbie said, “(Industry, Energy and Technology Minister Andrew) Parsons is still in cabinet … despite being investigated by police. This is banana republic stuff. You can quote me on that.”

RNC officer Joe Smyth alleges political interference by Parsons, who was formally the justice minister, regarding a previous charge of obstruction of justice against Smyth that was dropped. The allegations are currently being investigated by the Nova Scotia RCMP.


Industry, Energy and Technology Minister Andrew Parsons. - Telegram File Photo
Industry, Energy and Technology Minister Andrew Parsons. – Telegram File Photo

Parsons responded to Crosbie’s corruption comments on behalf of the Liberals Thursday.

“Well, It’s the same old song and dance from Ches and the same Conservative line. Normally, I don’t care too much about what he says, but I do get frustrated when he impugns my character wrongly and he knows this,” Parsons said in a phone interview from his district on the west coast.

“If he wants to talk about ethics, I don’t need a lecture from him. Let’s me and him have a little contest and go back and talk about personal ethics. … If he wants to talk about the PCs, the biggest corruption job on the people of this province ever committed was the billion-dollar

Muskrat debacle that was committed on the backs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that he supports.”

Parsons said the PCs have former cabinet minister Nick McGrath running in Labrador, despite the Humber Valley Paving controversy.

And he slammed Crosbie for slinging mud when politicians should be moving away from personal attacks to policy discussions.

“Ches talks a big game and it’s too bad — he’s not putting forward any semblance of a plan why people should trust him,” Parsons said.

“His goal is to smear everybody and hope it makes him looks good in comparison.”

Meanwhile, Crosbie said people have the right to know who’s donating money to political parties and how much.

“Right now, we have a system where there’s no limit on donations and there’s nothing to prevent corporations, or unions for that matter, making donations,” he said. “There’s no better disinfectant than sunlight.”

He says they will look into the code of conduct for MHAs and introduce recall legislation so, “voters have recourse when their elected representatives are not doing their jobs.”

On Wednesday, Crosbie called for the immediate release of the interim report of the Dame Moya Greene-led Economic Recovery Team.

Premier Andrew Furey said there is no report, but a group of individuals tasked with coming up with ideas.

Crosbie said he laughed when he heard Furey’s comments.

“Either it’s not a report yet, because it hasn’t been written yet, or he’s appointed a bunch of people to sit around and shoot the breeze and have good ideas and none of us are ever going to know what those ideas are because they’re not going to be written down,” Crosbie said. “That last explanation would be absurd.”

At a media event Thursday morning, Furey said he doesn’t want to rush Greene and her team, as that’s how the government has made mistakes and economic flops in the past. An interim report is due later in February, and a final report at the end of April.

“I’m trying to shift decision-making more to a more rational, logical approach, and this is one I think will work,” Furey said.

“I think this is a solid decision-making process. We’re going to gather evidence, and broadly consult with all stakeholders. Every person in Newfoundland and Labrador will have an opportunity to have a say should they choose. Then we are going to table that to the House of Assembly as a very open and transparent process.”

Fixing the province’s financial troubles will require short-, medium- and long-term solutions and lots of collaboration, Furey said.

“There is no simple solution to this. There’s not going to be like an incredibly blunt and frightful budget that shocks everybody into their basements,” he said.

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Should Politics Play A Role In Our Investments? – Forbes

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With yesterday’s inauguration of Joe Biden, it seems the perfect time to consider the role that politics may play in our investments. Over the past weeks and months, politics has been a hot topic. Undoubtedly, we can expect the economy to change and the markets to react as policies and priorities shift. Many are worried about the outcome of the election—and many others are excited. So, with all of the different emotions at play, how do we think about politics as we make our investment decisions?

The Choice Facing Financial Advisors

As Commonwealth’s chief investment officer, I serve a wide range of advisors and clients. They all have political opinions, and I may fundamentally disagree with many of them (half?) on very important issues. How can I handle this disconnect?

As I see it, I have a choice. I can take public positions that might feel good but will both alienate and ill serve a substantial portion of my community, while convincing no one. Or, I can focus on communicating what I both know about and have been tasked to do, in order to help people, as investors, navigate the current turmoil.

All financial advisors face the same decision. For all of us, no matter what our opinions, stating them can make us less effective for a substantial portion of our clients. And we can’t sidestep the issue by saying we have no opinions, because of course we do. What to do?

The way I have tried to deal with it is by explicitly separating the two roles I have: as a citizen (where I have very strong opinions) and as an economist and investment advisor (where all that matters is the data). By decoupling the two, I acknowledge I have my own opinions, but I try to make them less relevant to the discussions we are having.

I might say something like this. “As a citizen, I certainly have my own opinions, which may (or may not) be the same as yours. As your advisor, however, they don’t matter. My job here is to help you navigate the uncertainty around these events in your investments, not in the rest of your life. Because of that, we can look at the economic and market facts, which is what I am here to do, and make a decision that is best for you. My only concern, sitting in this chair, is your financial future.” I have used something like this with multiple client groups, on both sides, and it has been effective.

A Focus on Long-Term Outcomes

Another way to approach this is to demonstrate how it works in practice. In the last two elections, for example, I had people—on different sides—who wanted to sell out when Obama was elected and when Trump was elected. In both cases, it would have been a mistake. This example is a good follow-up, as you can directly look at emotional decisions, tie them back to the factual results, and make the point that as an investor, data is what is needed most. And that is the job of an advisor. However good or bad things are now, investors need to be focused on the long-term outcomes, not the short-term headlines. Taking the politics out can and does yield better long-term results.

Bumps in the Middle of the Road

This approach doesn’t always work, of course. I typically get feedback, some of it ferocious, whenever I write a piece that touches on politics, with my recent blog post on Washington turning a light shade of blue a good example. Several people felt very strongly, based on that post, that I must be a hard-core Republican. Others thought that the piece showed a clear Democratic basis and needed to be rewritten.

What I tried to do, though, was write something straight down the middle, presenting the facts and reasonable conclusions in a nonpartisan way. With this one, more than some of the others, I clearly failed in the eyes of some readers. That is inevitable, and the feedback helps me get better, so I appreciate it. I will try to do better. But I also draw comfort from the fact that I got fire from both sides. The middle of the road can be an uncomfortable place as well.

Recognize the Disconnect

What if you are not an advisor but just concerned about your own investments? The advice is the same. Look at the data. Don’t make emotional decisions. Realize the U.S. economy and markets are largely disconnected from politics. And keep an eye on the long term. No matter how you feel about either administration, investing is a game of decades during which we will have a wide range of politics.

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Nova Scotia finance minister says she will leave politics when next election called – Toronto Star

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HALIFAX – A key member of outgoing Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil’s cabinet says she too will leave politics once the next provincial election is called.

Finance Minister Karen Casey, who is also deputy premier, made the announcement following a cabinet meeting Thursday, saying that after 15 years representing the riding of Colchester North, she is ready to retire and wants to spend more time with her four grandchildren.

Casey said while she had been pondering her future for some time, she only made a final decision over the last week.

“Fifteen years, I think, is a good amount of public service to give to my constituents,” Casey told reporters. “I’m happy with the work that we (government) have achieved, and it’s time to let somebody else represent Colchester North.”

Casey, a former teacher, also served in the education and health portfolios and was named deputy premier in 2017.

Over her time in the education portfolio, she was instrumental in the Liberal government’s move to rein in contract demands by the province’s teachers — a battle that ultimately saw the imposition of a contract that ended a two-month work-to-rule campaign by public school teachers in February 2017.

As finance minister, Casey also played a part in helping the government table five consecutive balanced budgets.

“I learned a lot personally in the finance portfolio, but there were challenges there, and I quite like a challenge,” she said.

McNeil, who is leaving politics next month, said he counts Casey as a personal friend and believes she played an “integral role” in helping return the province to fiscal health.

“We have really run a duo operation here in lots of ways,” McNeil said. “She is one person that I have always sought counsel of in my most difficult days.”

Casey was a former interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives and defected to the Liberals in January, 2011 at McNeil’s invitation.

“That allowed me to join a caucus and a leader … whose values I thought I shared,” said Casey. “What motivated me? It would be knowing that my ideas and those of my constituents and me as a person would be respected.”

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Casey confirmed she would stay on until the next election, which must be called by the spring of 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

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