NEWS AND OPINION:
A recent Gallup poll revealed that self-described “independents” are the nation’s largest political demographic. Indeed a record-breaking 43 percent of Americans now say they are independents, compared to 30 percent who are Democrats and 26 percent who are Republican. Now comes some promising news for the tenacious Libertarian Party, which plans multiple state conventions in the coming months and offered its own response to President Obama‘s State of the Union address last week. The party “enjoyed its best cycle ever in races for the nation’s upper legislative chamber,” reports Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor and founder of Smart Politics, a research group on the campus.
Their analysis found that the Libertarian Party set records for the best showings in U.S. Senate races in 10 of the 20 states in which it fielded a candidate in 2014. “These 20 candidates averaged 2.5 percent of the vote, with a high water mark of 4.3 percent by Randall Batson in Kansas in the high profile race between Republican incumbent Pat Roberts and independent Greg Orman,” Mr. Ostermeier says.
His study also found that libertarians “made history” in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Libertarian candidates won from 1.3 percent to almost 4 percent of the vote, with “particularly impressive” performances in North Carolina, Colorado and Alaska.
“Although these states hosted three of the four most competitive U.S. Senate races in the country — decided by 1.6, 1.9, and 2.1 percentage points respectively — Libertarian nominees were still able to draw support from the electorate in record numbers,” says Mr. Ostermeier. “The Libertarian Party has good reason to be optimistic about its trajectory on the national political landscape.”
Gary Johnson, who ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in 2012, is also mighty vocal these days, labeling the aforementioned address as “wrong in too many ways too list,” and serving as chairman of Our American Initiative, a national push to include third-party candidates in the 2016 presidential debates.
FURY IN ALASKA
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Interior Secretary Sally Jewell‘s intent to designate 12.2 million acres of Alaska’s public land as pristine wilderness sounds nice, but the vast parcel also happens to contain the state’s richest oil and natural gas prospects on the Arctic coastal plain.
Environmentalists are celebrating. Ms. Jewell calls the gorgeous land “one of the nation’s crown jewels,” and notes this will also be the largest protective designation in five decades. The state’s Republican lawmakers and governor, meanwhile, are not disguising their disgust about the decision, which they say will have long lasting impact on Alaska’s economy and energy security.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski calls the plan “a stunning attack on our sovereignty,” adding, “I cannot understand why this administration is willing to negotiate with Iran, but not Alaska. But we will not be run over like this. We will fight back with every resource at our disposal.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan calls it all “outrageous,” later observing, “It is just one more example of President Obama thumbing his nose at the citizens of a sovereign state — and will put Alaska and America’s energy security in serious jeopardy.
And from Rep. Don Young comes this comment: “This callously planned and politically motivated attack on Alaska by the Obama administration is akin to spitting in our faces and telling us it’s raining outside. As if on command from the most extreme environmentalist elements, this president and his team of D.C. bureaucrats believe they alone know what’s best for Alaska, but this brazen assault on our state and our people will do the complete opposite.”
Gov. Bill Walker has his say as well. “Having just given to Alaskans the State of the State and State of the Budget addresses, it’s clear that our fiscal challenges in both the short and long term would benefit significantly from increased oil production,” Mr. Walker observes. “This action by the federal government is a major setback toward reaching that goal. Therefore, I will consider accelerating the options available to us to increase oil exploration and production on state-owned lands.”
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Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is quickly switching into national gear, touting his prowess and business and leadership to an appreciative crowd at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday despite noisy protests from pro-immigration activist. And Mr. Perry is not done with the Hawkeye State, remaining there through Monday for some grass-roots meet-and-greets with voters.
And then? He’ll address the Republican Party of Virginia Commonwealth Dinner in Richmond next month, then it’s on to CPAC, of course. The four-day event — formally titled the Conservative Action Political Conference — begins Feb. 25 at the glittering National Harbor on the banks of the Potomac River a few miles south of the nation’s capital. Mr. Perry joins such luminaries as Sens. Rand Paul and Tim Scott, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin on the extensive list of confirmed speakers.
“If 2014 taught us anything, it’s that Americans are looking for a positive vision for this country, and 2016 will be no different. Republicans have the chance to be the party of ideas and opportunity, and it’s clear that principled conservative leadership is the change we need to get America back on the right track. I look forward to sharing my vision for a prosperous America for our children and grandchildren at CPAC,” Mr. Perry says.
“Gov. Perry is no stranger to CPAC or conservative politics. As governor of Texas, he stood for the Second Amendment, fiscal responsibility and better education for all. He fought for conservative principles, enacted landmark government reforms, and the results should speak for themselves,” says American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL
Debuting Monday on the Fox Business Network, it’s “Strange Inheritance,” a prime-time, story-driven reality series of interest to everyone who has experienced the family dynamics when the someone’s will is at hand.
Hosted by Jamie Colby, the program parses authentic experiences of unconventional inheritances and the drama therein — families confronted with a 900-acre bug museum, a collection of 150 tractors, a century-old movie theater the startling discovery of a rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel among the family treasures. “Spare change, or change of fortune?” the program asks of the coin.
Airtime is 9 p.m. Eastern from Monday to Thursday, with companion programming offering a behind-the-scenes look at 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday and Thursday. And yes, the network is seeking tales of will-full ways; share your own strange inheritances here: StrangeInheritance.com
POLL DU JOUR
• 67 percent of Americans say “big government” is more of a threat than “big business”; 92 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 42 percent of Democrats agree.
• 33 percent overall say big business is the large threat; 8 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats agree.
• 51 percent overall say the financial problems of 2008 have “not been fixed”; 50 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 48 percent of Democrats agree.
• 43 percent overall say there is too much regulation imposed on businesses by the government; 70 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.
• 22 percent overall say there is too little regulation of businesses; 11 percent of Republicans, 18 percent of independents and 37 percent of Democrats agree.
• 20 percent say there is the “right amount of regulation”; 10 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 15-16.
• Churlish remarks, reasonable chitchat to firstname.lastname@example.org.