The Free Press WV

                    California Governor Jerry Brown said that he doesn’t want to comment about potential ballot propositions.

                    Guns and marijuana are two topics likely to be considered by initiative this November.

“All I would say is, ‘Don’t smoke marijuana when you’re using your gun,’”

                    Brown said.

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  How Trump can still lose nomination

Some of us keep explaining why Donald Trump’s poll results so far don’t make him a likely Republican nominee, yet others keep saying they do. So here we go again.

True, turnout for primaries is better than in caucuses, but it’s still not high. New Hampshire has higher turnout figures for its primary than most states. Yet in 2008, the total primary tally (about 527,000) was still lower than the general election vote (about 708,000).

Trump is reportedly relying on first-time voters and others who don’t regularly vote in Republican primaries. We don’t know yet if they’ll show up, but habitual voters are disproportionately the ones who usually take part in primaries.

Next issue: Early polling leads, defined as surveys taken before the first voting event, the Iowa caucuses. Princeton’s polling prognosticator, Sam Wang, dismisses recent arguments that polls, especially national polls, have limited predictive value at this point. He contends that those candidates who are far ahead by now usually win the nomination.

That is true, but it means less than he believes.

In some presidential cycles, the contest is basically over by now – as it is on the Democratic side this year. When a candidate locks up leads in every indicator at this point, from endorsements to money to organization strength to polling, then, yes, her polling lead is likely to hold up. But when there’s no obvious front-runner and the party is slow to decide, early polling leads tend to be ephemeral – as Howard Dean’s was in the 2004 cycle and Rudolph Giuliani’s was in 2008.

Conclusion? It’s party support, not polling, that predicts winners.

Ezra Klein has an excellent column saying Trump won’t win, but Klein is unsure how he will be stopped: “It’s the Underpants Gnomes theory of Trump’s loss. Step 1: Trump leads the polls for month after month. Step 2: ??? Step 3: He loses! Even if you think that’s likely, it sounds a bit ridiculous when you say it aloud.“

To fill in that “???“ I’ll review a few possibilities:

Perhaps something will still rapidly deflate his support. Maybe it will be losing in Iowa. Trump’s message is that he’s a winner; if he falls short, does that make him a loser?

Or perhaps he’ll just fade a bit. Trump has dominated the information most Republicans have heard about the contest. When the race gets to their states, other candidates will be running ads and gaining notice. It’s suggestive that Trump is running about 10 percentage points worse in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states with full-on campaigns right now, than he is nationally.

What if he keeps his vote share as high as his polling numbers? He still might not win the nomination. He has moved up from about a quarter of the vote in August to a bit over a third in polls right now, but that’s not enough to win once the field winnows down to two candidates. This will happen quickly: If Trump wins close to 40 percent of the vote in early contests, the pressure on losers to drop out will be enormous.

So, even if we’re just looking at polling, Trump still needs to gain considerable new support. Of course, that’s true for the other candidates as well. But they all have the opportunity to introduce themselves to voters who don’t know them yet. And they all seem better positioned to gain when similar candidates drop out than Trump does, because there is no one like him in the race at all.

This isn’t just a hunch. Polling supports it, including a new PPP survey in New Hampshire released Wednesday. It has Trump leading by 15 percentage points, but also finds he would lose to either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz in head-to-head matchups. That won’t happen in New Hampshire, but it could soon after.  ~~  Jonathan Bernstein - A Bloomberg View columnist covering U.S. politics ~~

►  Tomblin predicts tobacco tax increase will be “on the table” for discussion with legislature

CHARLESTON, WV — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin stopped short of saying he’ll propose an increase in the state’s tobacco tax during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” Thursday. Tomblin did say the proposal is on the table.

“Because of the budget conditions I think those discussions will be discussed a lot more than what they have been in the last four or five years,” Tomblin predicted.

Tomblin will present what state Revenue Secretary Bob Kiss described as a “courageous and responsible plan” when lawmakers begin their 60-day regular session next Wednesday. The state is $158 million short on projected revenue collections with a prediction of a $353 million shortfall by June.

When pressed by “Talkline” Host Hoppy Kercheval on whether he would propose a tobacco tax increase to raise revenue Tomblin said a final decision hadn’t yet been made.

“I’ll tell you what I will do, I’m presenting a balanced budget to the legislature and Wednesday night I’ll be sure what I’ll propose,” Tomblin said.

Supporters of a $1.00 increase to the tobacco tax have said it would bring in $130 million a year. The tax is currently 50-cents.

Times are tough. Tomblin has overseen two straight 7.5 percent state budget cuts and ordered a 4 percent cut to the current budget, but things have been worse, he said.

“I think we’re still in better shape than we were in the 80s,” Tomblin said. “State employee insurance cards weren’t being accepted by providers and we had room after room of invoices that we couldn’t pay.”

Tomblin said the state is paying all of its bills now and has a stable Rainy Day Fund.

The President Previews His Last State of the Union Address

President Obama shares some insight into what he’ll say at the Capitol on January 12, 2016 when he delivers his last State of the Union Address.

Resolution to Censure President Barack Obama

Late Night’s Democratic Presidential Debate

In Politics….

The Free Press WV

►  Manchin makes his opinion known again on WVU-Marshall games

CHARLESTON, WV — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Friday on MetroNews “Talkline” when he heard WVU and Marshall may no longer play every season in basketball he decided to make a few phone calls.

Manchin wants the game to continue.

“Only thing I can do is give you my opinion as a citizen, an alumni…I’m not using my position at all, I’m using my support of athletics, my support of academics and my support of both major universities in the state I love,” he said.

Manchin actually spoke with WVU President Gordon Gee and left a message for Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins.

There’s currently no game set for next season. The two schools have met every year since 1978 and played the game in Charleston every year since 1992. Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick told MetroNews Thursday he can’t get a date from WVU about any future games.

“All indications I’m getting is they do not want to play. We do. I just don’t understand why we wouldn’t play,” Hamrick said.

When he was governor, Manchin got WVU and Marshall to agree to a 7-year contract in football.

“I think it’s something we should do on an annual basis, football and basketball, all major sports,” he said. “Both schools go out their way to have to fill schedules to play other teams.”

Cabell County Senator Mike Woelfel plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to mandate the two schools play annually in basketball. Manchin said Friday he would favor those efforts.

“If it takes legislation because this is where we end up then it needs to be done. I would support that,” Manchin said.

The senator knows not everyone agrees with his opinion.

“There are a lot of dedicated, committed fans that might feel differently and I respect that. I’ve given my opinion and I feel strongly. I feel that needs to be played, should be played and if takes legislation to do it–so be it,” Manchin said.

►  WV Democratic chair asks high court for Senate vacancy guidance

CHARLESTON, WV — Democrats are asking the state Supreme Court which political party should replace a senator who was elected a Democrat and resigned Republican.

A petition Friday by state Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore argues Senator Daniel Hall should be replaced by a Democrat because it upholds the will of the voters.

The Wyoming County Republican resigned effective Sunday to take a job with the National Rifle Association.

He was elected senator as a Democrat in 2012 and flipped Republican after the 2014 elections, breaking a tie and giving the GOP an 18-16 majority.

Two state law provisions create confusion about which party should suggest replacements to Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

A favorable decision for Democrats could deadlock the Senate. The Legislature returns to session Wednesday.

►  Maine Governor: Drug Dealers Impregnating ‘White Girls’

Maine Governor Paul LePage is known for being outspoken, and equally outspoken critics are calling him a racist after remarks he made at a town hall meeting on Wednesday. When asked about the state’s drug problem, the Republican started talking about out-of-state drug dealers, saying “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” come to Maine from New York and Connecticut, sell heroin, and leave, the Portland Press Herald reports. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road,“ he told the crowd.

Critics from both parties denounced LePage’s remarks. “This is one of the most blatantly racist statements he’s ever made,“ moderate Maine Republican Lance Dutson tells the AP. “One of the things that’s offensive about it is that it’s reminiscent of this fearmongering in American history that people would like to think is long gone.“ On Thursday night, LePage’s communications director said LePage’s remarks had nothing to do with race. “His heart goes out to these kids because he had a difficult childhood, too,“ he said in a statement. “We need to stop the drug traffickers from coming into our state.“

►  Obama: I’m Not Out to ‘Grab Your Guns’

President Obama says he will not vote for any candidate, even a Democrat, who does not support what he calls “commonsense gun reform.“ Obama made the demand in an op-ed published Thursday on the New York Times website. The president says 90% of Americans support such reform and that if they join him, the US “will elect the leadership we deserve.“ A new CNN poll shows 67% of Americans support the executive actions on gun control announced by Obama this week. The Times published the essay just before Obama took questions at a televised town hall meeting on gun violence, during which he tore into the National Rifle Association for peddling an “imaginary fiction” that he said has distorted the national debate about gun violence.

In the CNN forum, Obama dismissed what he called a “conspiracy” alleging that the federal government—and Obama in particular— wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law. He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns.“ Yes, “that is a conspiracy,“ Obama said. “I’m only going to be here for another year. When would I have started on this enterprise?“ Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb mass shootings. He said the NRA refused to acknowledge the government’s responsibility to make legal products safer, citing seat belts and child-proof medicine bottles as examples. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said beforehand that the group saw “no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House.“

►  McCain Says He’s Not Sure Cruz Is Eligible to Be President

There’s a surprising new skeptic on the eligibility of the Canadian-born Ted Cruz to be president: John McCain. “It came up in my race because I was born in Panama, but I was born in the Canal Zone, which is a territory,“ McCain said Wednesday on 550 KFYI. “Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona when it was a territory when he ran in 1964.” McCain and Goldwater were two of the examples Cruz used to justify his eligibility when he addressed the issue this week. Cruz was born in Canada, but his mother was a US citizen, which gave him US citizenship at birth, BuzzFeed reports. “It was a US military base,” McCain clarified to KFYI about his own birth. “That’s different from being born on foreign soil, so I think there is a question. I am not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it’s worth looking into.“

According to Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, it’s really not all that surprising McCain would join Donald Trump and Rand Paul in questioning the eligibility of Cruz, who Cillizza describes as McCain’s “longtime nemesis.“ In the past, McCain has accused Cruz of “grandstanding” and lumped him in with Tea Party “wacko birds.“ Cillizza characterizes McCain’s statements on Cruz’s eligibility as an act of revenge. “By McCain giving a ‘you know, that’s a good question’ response to the question of whether Cruz is eligible to be president, he keeps the story—not a good one for the Texas senator—very much alive,“ Cillizza writes.

►  Joe Biden on 2016 Decision: Regrets, He Has a Few

First there was Joe Biden’s indecision about running for president, an uncertainty that CNN says “consumed Democrats for months.“ Now it’s time to deal with his misgivings over the decision he finally did make. “I regret it every day, but it was the right decision for my family and for me,“ he told NBC Connecticut in an interview Wednesday in which he mainly talked about President Obama’s executive action on guns. “And I plan on staying deeply involved.“

Biden added during the interview that “we’ve got two good candidates” in Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, noting there’s been “real robust debate between Hillary and Bernie, as there would have been if I had gotten in the race” and “no personal attacks that I’m aware of.“ As for the GOP side? “The kinds of things that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are saying are so inconsistent with—well, we’ll see what the election says, but it’s not been a very illuminating campaign so far.“

►  Big-Name Pundit Sings Trump’s Praises

Conservative pundit Peggy Noonan is drawing attention for a Friday column that Mike Allen at Politico calls “jaw-trumpingly Trump-friendly (or at least Trump-respectful).“ In her Wall Street Journal piece, Noonan writes that she cannot “understand the inability or refusal of Republican leaders to take Mr. Trump seriously.“ In trying to dismiss him as a candidate of “anger, angst and theatrics,“ the party establishment is missing a huge part of the picture—Trump’s role in driving the conversation on policy issues such as immigration. “Trump has functioned this year not as a great communicator or great compromiser but as the great disruptor,“ writes Noonan.

“He brags that he has brought up great questions and forced other candidates to face them and sometimes change their stands—and he has.“ He’s also “touched an important nerve” with his proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration. “In the age of terror, that looked suspiciously like common sense. Americans do not want America to become what Europe is becoming.“ It doesn’t speak well of the GOP that Trump has emerged as"the party’s 2016 thought leader,“ writes Noonan, but that’s clearly the case. None other than Bernie Sanders seems to have recognized this with this recent push to woo Trump backers. Click for her full column.

Donald Trump’s First TV Ad

Watch Conan O’Brien spoof Trump’s first TV ad (Mexico features prominently):

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