It Is a Beautiful Day: The 2016 Election Ends

by Jim Geraghty

It Is a Beautiful Day: The 2016 Election Ends.

We’re all settled then, right? In all future elections, when the winning candidate is a Democratic candidate that Republicans intensely dislike and believe is unqualified, GOP voters can launch a public pressure campaign against members of the Electoral College not to vote for that candidate, right?

When a Republican loses in the Electoral College, we can write threatening letters to Democratic electors demanding they vote for the GOP candidate, right?

“Dear Electors, There will be no peace on earth unless you refuse the one accused of treason and vote for Hillary Clinton instead,” said a holiday letter sent to Oklahoma Republican elector Charles Potts, which he posted on his Facebook page over the weekend.

But Potts and most other electors have said for weeks that they plan to cast votes reflecting the will of their home states…

(Hey, pal, I don’t know if you noticed, but there wouldn’t be peace on earth if Hillary Clinton was elected either.)

Robert Asher, a Republican elector from Pennsylvania, said that Trump’s most ardent detractors will continue seeking ways to undermine him.

“If it’s not his business interests it’ll be whether he has his dog groomed on Fridays or Saturdays,” he said in a recent interview.

The election, Asher added, “is over. Donald Trump is president. The same as when President Obama was elected, he was elected and whether we liked it or not; it was over.”

Asher said he had received just a handful of messages from concerned voters.

“Ninety percent of it is anti-Trump and ‘Vote for Clinton,’” he said. “But look, she didn’t win Pennsylvania. If she had, I wouldn’t be going to Harrisburg on the 19th of December. And I would honor what the people in this commonwealth want. They wanted Donald Trump, so that’s who I will support with my vote.”

Now all of a sudden, this traditional ceremony requires more security.

When Pennsylvania’s 58th Electoral College meets Monday to cast votes for president, it will do so at a time when many more people are paying attention to the obscure process. In a normal presidential election year, the ceremonies take place with little fanfare or public attention. But this year, state officials are providing extra security and bracing for larger crowds and demonstrations after Republican Donald Trump won Pennsylvania, a key statewide victory in an election that saw him behind in the national popular vote but winning the projected electoral vote.

Are definitions of words supposed to be this malleable?

If an elector chooses someone besides Hillary Clinton, they face the possibility of fines and the label of a faithless elector. “I don’t care for the term faithless electors because I think how they decide is faith in itself, so there is no faithlessness to it,” Deirdra Hahn explained.

An even larger gathering is planned on the Capitol steps for Monday. Organizers are hoping for a large turnout at state capitols across the country.

No, see, when you pledge, ‘I will do X,” and then turn around and say, ‘on second thought, now that it’s too late to replace me, I have decided I will not do X,’ then most people define that as being faithless, or a betrayal of other’s faith placed in you.

The seriously under-covered aspect of today is how many foolhardy Democratic electors may decide to not vote for Hillary Clinton in a long-shot hope that lots of Republicans will prefer some other GOP candidate.

Bret Chiafalo is one of Washington’s 12 electors, and the nation’s 538 members of the Electoral College, who on Monday will be choosing the next United States president. The 38-year-old Democrat pledged months ago to cast his vote for his party’s nominee should they win in this state, which means he should vote for Hillary Clinton.

Chiafalo says he is not planning to keep his pledge when electors gather at noon, an act of defiance that could cost him money but he hopes contributes to keeping Republican president-elect Donald Trump out of the White House.

He and at least one other Washington elector, Levi Guerra of Eastern Washington, may vote for a Republican who they consider a consensus alternative to Trump. Under state law, such a political jaywalking violation would subject each of them to a potential $1,000 fine as a “faithless elector”, though they could possibly be let off with a warning.

I notice that in New Jersey, the Electoral College meeting and voting ceremony will feature Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. Chris Christie has no public schedule today.

Brace Yourselves: More Elections Are Coming

It’s always election year. As Trump fills up his cabinet, he creates openings in Congress and governor’s mansions across the country.

Already there will be at least five, maybe six special elections for the U.S. House, probably within the next six months.

In California’s 34th congressional district, Xavier Becerra will resign to become the Attorney General of California.

In Georgia’s 6th congressional district, Tom Price will resign to become the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In Kansas’s 4th congressional district, Mike Pompeo will resign to become the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In Montana’s at-large district: Ryan Zinke will resign to become the United States Secretary of the Interior.

In South Carolina’s 5th congressional district, Mick Mulvaney will resign to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget. (I hear at least one more South Carolina lawmaker may resign in the near future to accept an appointed position.)

When governors resign their office, the lieutenant governor usually becomes governor.

In Iowa, Governor Terry Branstad will resign to become U.S. Ambassador to China, but there will not be a special election; his lieutenant governor of the past six years, Kim Reynolds, becomes governor. She is expected to run for a full term in 2018.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley will become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Henry McMaster will become governor.

If Alabama senator Jeff Sessions resigns to become attorney general, then-governor Robert Bentley selects his replacement until 2018. This may get complicated, as Alabama attorney general Luther Strange publicly announced he intends to run for the seat in 2018.

Strange is also investigating the governor.

Bentley is under investigation by the Alabama House Judiciary Committee over impeachment articles approved by the House. The articles accuse the governor of neglect of duty and corruption in office. The charges appear to stem from allegations that Bentley used his office and state resources to further an extramarital relationship with his former top political adviser Rebekah Mason.

The judiciary committee halted its probe of Bentley – at least for now – after it received a letter from Strange in early November. The attorney general’s letter said it would be “prudent and beneficial” for the House committee to delay its work.

Strange asked the committee to cease interviews and the active investigation, “until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed.”

In Oklahoma, if state attorney general Scott Pruitt resigns, Governor Mary Fallin would appoint a replacement:

Pollard told KOCO that four people are emerging as possible replacements for Attorney General Scott Pruitt – Secretary of State Mike Hunter, former state senator Clark Jolley, former candidate for attorney general Ryan Leonard, and Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, Aj Ferate.

ADDENDA: It’s the holidays, and there are people in need, so if you have a generous heart, head to the nearest Salvation Army kettle and donate your best running back.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty