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Elections Briefing, March 1, 2021: GOP and Trump, Cuomo, Western Australia

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Elections Briefing 3-1-21 Trump Cuomo Boston

What does the future of the Republican Party look like, and where did a candidate concede an election weeks before it happened? The Monday Briefing is all over it.

US Election News

Trump Still Has Republican Party Wrapped Around His Finger

Donald Trump addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Sunday, after a weekend of the conference building up to it with pro-Trump speakers. He even won the 2024 presidential straw poll there1, as if that sort of thing is needed over three and a half years before the next election. One thing is clear: the Republican party has not moved on from Donald Trump since he exited the White House. Another thing is also clear: they have no desire to do so, at least not in the case of a majority of Republicans today. Trump will not start a new party, but truth be told, he does not need to, because it is his party.

However, there are still voices of dissent. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, warned his fellow Republicans that the GOP has to be about more than just Donald Trump and his personal vision2. Granted, that vision did win a presidential election in 2016 off of sweeping the Blue Wall states by narrow margins, but by 2020, it was all gone. The Republican Party will not be the Trump Party forever, but it could be for a while, despite Cassidy’s plea.

Andrew Cuomo Harassment Allegations Double

Two former aides have now accused the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo (D), of sexual harassment3. Cuomo initially denied the allegations being leveled against him, however he called for an independent investigation to be convened. For what it is worth, the attorney general, Letitia James, said no to Cuomo and said it’s her prerogative to investigate as she sees fit.

These events mark a sharp turn for Cuomo, who is in his third term leading the Empire State and who was expected to cruise to re-election to a fourth term if he chose. As these allegations are investigated, the governor will have a cloud of investigation over him. This comes as controversy continues to rise from how the governor handled the COVID-19 outbreak in the state’s nursing homes in the early stages of the pandemic. His future as governor is less than clear, especially given that there are a number of prominent New York Democrats in line waiting for their turn who may feel emboldened.

No Special Election for Boston Mayor

When Marty Walsh (D), the two-term mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, becomes Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor, it will create a vacancy at the brutalist City Hall. We know that Kim Janey (D), the City Council’s president, will become acting mayor in the event Walsh must soon resign. Boston would have to then hold a special mayoral election to fill the remainder of Walsh’s term, but here’s the kicker: it expires in November, anyway.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) approved an act to waive the need for a special election this year, called a home rule petition4. Janey will serve as acting mayor until the new mayor is sworn into office in 2022, and there will be no special election between now and the November election. There are plenty of things to do in Boston in the summer – we should know because we’ve done a lot of them – but this year, electing a mayor twice over will not be one of them.


International Election News

Canadian Polling Suggest Trudeau in Front, But…

The CBC tracks Canadian federal polling numbers, and with a possible Canadian election in 2021 or 2022, we keep tabs on it as well. Despite Justin Trudeau being front and center 24/7 getting air time thanks to the pandemic, the Liberals lead by just five points nationally over the Conservatives. The left-wing NDP, however, is making moves up to 19 percent.

In fact, it may in fact be Trudeau himself holding the numbers for the Liberals down. Canada’s vaccine rollout has not been up to expectations5, so despite the Conservative opposition not appearing to be in any position to win an election, the Liberals have struggled as well. As for those numbers the CBC are tracking? If played out in an election, they would get the Liberals to the doorstep of a majority, so perhaps not all news for them is grim.

Western Australia Opposition Concedes Defeat Two Weeks Before Election

The headline for this blurb may as well be “politician admits the obvious,” but it is admittedly rare to see anyone in a position of power admit they will lose an election before it has happened. This is what took place in Western Australia over the weekend when Zak Kirkup, leader of the center-right WA Liberal Party, conceded that his party will not win the state election in two weeks6. He is correct, as opinion polling indicates the Liberals are heading for a disastrous result, and governing Labor will ride a wave of approval of COVID-19 handling to perhaps the largest election victory in Western Australia history.

His pivot is a calculated risk to try to save as many Liberal seats as he can. One modern example of this maneuver comes to mind in the 2001 British Columbia election. Ujjal Dosanjh, the incumbent NDP premier, knew that his party was certain to lose the upcoming election to the BC Liberals. Further, polling showed a possible wipeout was in store. Dosanjh admitted that the NDP were going to lose but called on the voters to toss some votes his way to make sure the province had an effective opposition. The result: the NDP DID almost get wiped out, reduced to only two of 79 seats. Kirkup may be going down the same road.

While there is something to be said for the honesty Kirkup is showing, it will also be perceived as a sign of weakness and what few Liberal MPs are left after the rout will come for his job.


Election Results in Brief

El Salvador election: Counting is ongoing. Opinion polls suggested that the party of President Nayib Bukele could win a sweeping majority.

Election Calendar

11 days until the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election.
12 days until the Western Australia state election.
16 days until the 2021 Dutch election.
22 days until the 2021 Israeli election.

Today’s Further Reading

  1. Justine Coleman, “Trump wins CPAC straw poll with 55 percent,” The Hill, 28 February 2021.
  2. Quint Forgey, “Bill Cassidy warns it’s dangerous for GOP to ‘idolize’ Trump,” Politico, 28 February 2021.
  3. Wynne Davis, “N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo Faces Sexual Harassment Allegations From 2nd Former Aide,” NPR, 28 February 2021.
  4. The Associated Press, “Boston will avoid holding multiple mayoral elections,” Fox 25 Boston, 26 February 2021.
  5. Éric Grenier, “Trudeau’s poll numbers took a hit over vaccine delays — but the Liberals escaped the worst,” CBC News, 27 February 2021.
  6. Rhiannon Shine, “WA election upset as Liberal leader Zak Kirkup concedes he can’t win on March 13,” ABC News, 26 February 2021.

Now For Your Commentary

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