On 7 November 2006, US voters will be asked to take part in federal, state and local elections



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Democrats look forward
to victory in urban USA

By Andrew Stevens, Political Editor

17 October 2006: Campaigning for the 2006 US mid-term elections on 7 November has been overshadowed by the stream of revelations concerning Republican Representative Mark Foley’s inappropriate online liaisons with a Congressional boy page. In local races however, the national swing against the Republicans is unlikely to have any impact in the mayoralties that look likely to re-elect the Democrats in their urban heartlands. But in some cities a close finish may be likely among candidates of the same party.

As Jay Leno remarked, the Foley scandal is the worst to hit the Republicans since the last one. And for those turned off by Foleygate or disinterested in whether the Democrats can return to their pre-1994 Congressional majority, there are the state races. Bill Clinton’s favourite novelist Kinky Friedman is livening up the Texas gubernatorial election, surprisingly polling in second place against incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry. In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has expounded on his green credentials with a visit to New York to sign a Kyoto Protocol observant carbon-reduction deal with seven North-eastern states and tour green initiatives with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell looks a dead cert for another term in the Pennsylvania Governor’s mansion in spite of voter outrage at state politicians’ pay that saw off a number of party colleagues in earlier primaries.

In spite of earlier predictions of a tighter than usual race in the newly-created single-tier mayoralty of Louisville Metro, incumbent Jerry Abramson has managed to raise $1.5m for his campaign coffers, suggesting his Republican opponent Kelly Downard has more than incumbency to take on. Downard, a city council member, has managed to raise just one third of that total and is polling 45 per cent behind Abramson, who also served three terms as mayor of the former Louisville city government.

As Democratic candidate for Washington DC mayor, Adrian Fenty can be forgiven for being presumptuous in announcing his likely cabinet before the 7 November poll, given no Republican has ever been elected mayor in the city where the Democrats out-poll them 10-1. Fenty romped home in the September primary against rival and fellow council member Linda Cropp, thus guaranteeing election in November short of a major scandal or catastrophe befalling him.

Republican mayoral candidate David Kranich is making zero impact in his campaign, where his fellow activists are concentrating on increasing their council tally from two at-large seats to possibly gaining a ward in an affluent quarter of the capital. The DC Statehood party is also fielding its own candidate, though this could be largely redundant given that both main parties have come around to the idea of DC statehood in recent years and are actively campaigning on the proposal. While the next mayor’s in-tray will include the legally vexatious issue of recognising gay marriages in the capital, the DC Democrats might also ponder the diminishing pool of talent on which to draw representatives for the city. As might the Republicans, for that matter.

In the charged San Jose, California contest triggered by the departure of indicted mayor Ron Gonzales, the environment has emerged as a sparring issue between serving Deputy Mayor Cindy Chavez and her city council opponent Chuck Reed. Chavez has received the endorsement of California Senator Barbara Boxer for her clean energy strategy, while Reed has focused on his planning commissioner experience and professional credentials as a real estate lawyer. While Chavez and Reed are both registered Democrats, Reed has been labelled a ‘DINO’ (Democrat in Name Only) by some observers. Reed has however accused the Chavez campaign of acceptance of donations from gambling interests and sought to personally associate Chavez with the scandal surrounding outgoing mayor Gonzales. The San Jose poll currently offers one of the best prospects of a dead heat until polling day of the big city races.

Among the minor city races is a recall election in the Texan city of Lockhart, where supporters of incumbent Mayor James Bertram have been accused of vandalising pro-recall posters across the city, in a poll demanded by those opposed to the mayor’s budget cuts in the city police department. Mayor George Bukowski of Marine City, Michigan, also faces a possible recall attempt, as does Mount Olive, New Jersey Mayor Richard De La Roche, depending on the outcome of court hearings.

Regardless of the tally in Congress, the 7 November national polls will have significance for America’s cities as candidates assess their own political future. Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr is already said to be contemplating running for the Democratic ticket in Chicago against current Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Democrat city titan and scion.


Representative Mark Foley's inappropriate communications with Congress interns has become an election issue


By Tony Favro
Black and white are
the true colours of
US elections

Election Day in the United States this year is 7 November. The big question at the national level is whether the Republican Party will retain its ruling majority in the US Congress. As the candidates begin campaigning in earnest, the media have begun analyzing the mood of the electorate. The nation’s electorate is divided, pundits claim, based on values.

On television screens and in magazines, maps of the US show the 50 states painted either red or blue. Red, the traditional colour of the Republican Party, denotes states in which a majority of the electorate voted for George Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Blue, the colour of the Democratic Party, marks states in which a majority of the electorate voted for Senator John Kerry. Voters in red states are labelled by the media as conservatives on social and economic issues; those in blue states as progressives. Issues are then analyzed based on their appeal to voters in red or blue states.

The media fixation on red and blue states unfortunately masks the reality that racism is largely the reason for differences in values. President Bush won the popular vote in the 2004 presidential elections by 3.5 million votes. However, his margin among white voters nationwide was 14 million votes. Conversely, Senator John Kerry’s margin among non-white voters was 11 million votes. Could anything but racism explain this contrast?

Moreover, Bush’s entire margin of victory was compiled in 10 southern states that comprised the old Confederacy of slave-holding states. In many of these states, Bush’s margin among white voters was comparable to Kerry’s 9 to 1 margin among African-American voters.

Over the past 40 years, Republicans in the US have used racial fears to build an almost insurmountable white majority, especially in the South. In his 1968 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon used promises to be tough on crime as code words to inflame white stereotypes of blacks as dangerous and immoral. More