Parker Richards

Parker Richards is an editorial intern at The American Prospect

Recent Articles

The 53rd Republican Senator?

New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez’s legal troubles could give Chris Christie the chance to appoint a Republican to the Senate—quite possibly himself.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
AP Photo/Seth Wenig New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during a news conference in Trenton. I f Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democratic senator who is set to go on trial for bribery and conspiracy next month, resigns or is expelled from office after August 31, the state’s governor, Republican Chris Christie, could appoint his successor. Assuming Christie would appoint a Republican (possibly himself), that would give the GOP an additional seat in a closely divided U.S. Senate where nearly every vote has been a cliff-hanger. Should Menendez leave office by August 30, the vacancy would instead be filled in the state’s November 7 general election, since New Jersey law requires a special election to take place at the next possible general election unless that election is less than 70 days away. If Menendez leaves office after noon on January 16, the next governor—set to be elected on November 7—would be able to appoint his successor. That governor is likely to be Democrat Phil...

West Virginia’s One Progressive Party

By the standards of other states’ Green Parties, West Virginia’s Mountain Party has had surprising success in establishing a foothold—chiefly because the Democrats there are the nation’s most conservative. 

(AP Photo/Vicki Smith)
(AP Photo/Vicki) Protesters hold signs in front of the Monongalia County Courthouse in Morgantown, West Virginia, on May 18, 2011, as then-Mountain Party gubernatorial candidate Bob Henry Baber speaks. “ I’m the daughter of a coal miner. My father died of black lung. It’s a horrible way to suffocate to death,” Charlotte Pritt says. She got her start in Democratic politics as a hard-charging state senator in the early 1990s, fighting nursing home closures and arguing against Governor Gaston Caperton’s gas tax. “I’m opposed to the taxes on the poor. That’s the only thing these yo-yos can come up with.” But in 2012, Pritt jumped ship and joined the Mountain Party, a motley environmentalist outfit that has affiliated with the national Green Party. The Mountain Party is a tiny outfit: It has just 1,922 registered voters and three elected officials, all in nonpartisan offices. Still, the party has punched above its weight, frequently garnering respectable vote totals as it laps up left-wing...

Heresy! Jeff Flake Attacks the President

Arizona’s senators are having a moment. Shortly after John McCain made headlines by joining with Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to cast a Republican health-care bill into the legislative charnel house, Jeff Flake, a first-term Republican from the suburbs east of Phoenix, has put out a new book lambasting President Donald Trump.

Flake’s book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, was largely written in secret, its release something of a surprise in political circles. The title, an homage to Barry Goldwater’s 1960 manifesto, does not mention Trump directly, but Flake pulls no punches in the book’s text, citing the president as a progenitor of the country’s current political situation. Politico published an excerpt yesterday under the headline “My Party Is In Denial About Donald Trump.”

Flake acknowledges his own former complacency. Although he called for Trump to quit the presidential race after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced in October, Flake would later make a habit of saying he lacked the time to read the president’s tweets. Now, he admits his position was a cop-out. For the Republicans, Flake writes, Trump’s candidacy amounted to a “Faustian bargain”—one, he now believes, was “not worth it.”

“In this era of dysfunction and collapsed principle, our only accomplishment is painstakingly constructing the argument that we’re not to blame and hoping that we’ve gerrymandered ourselves well enough to be safe in the next election,” Flake wrote of his Republican colleagues. His main pitch is one of bipartisan cooperation and allegiance to congressional norms, coupled with his desire to return to old-school small government conservatism. That—and his folksy charm—has prompted a slew of admiring profiles and interviews in recent weeks.

The GOP has not reacted happily to Flake’s criticisms. Kelli Ward, a far-right former state senator challenging him in the Republican primary next year, called Flake a “globalist,” tweeting that America is “strong [and] unapologetic” under Trump. (“Globalist” is a term frequently used by alt-right commentators to imply that their targets are Jewish or influenced by Jews. Flake is Mormon.) Trump has pledged $10 million of his own money to beat Flake in the Republican primary, an unprecedented move by a president against an incumbent of his own party. The conservative Washington Times published an op-ed calling Flake an “elitist” and a “defector […] to the Democratic side” before blasting him for his pro-amnesty position on illegal immigration.

Although considered the second-most vulnerable Republican up for re-election in 2018 after Nevada’s Dean Heller, Flake has not yet drawn a serious Democratic challenger. Thus far, the only Democrats who have announced campaigns are two little-known attorneys and a retired judge who once served in Iowa’s state legislature. Several prominent Democrats—including astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of former Representative Gabrielle Giffords; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; and Representative Krysten Sinema—have not fully ruled out campaigns. Flake’s approval rating in his home state lags his disapproval rating by 8 percentage points, and in 2012 he defeated Democrat Richard Carmona by just 3 points.

For the Democrats to regain the Senate in 2018—a tall order, given that they are defending 23 seats while Republicans defend just eight—the most likely path goes through Arizona. Flake may well be vulnerable to Democratic attacks by virtue of his support for repealing Obamacare. But it seems unlikely that a Democratic candidate could simply run an anti-Trump campaign against Flake—after all, his 160-page tirade against the president is as strongly worded as most Democratic senators’ anti-Trump jeremiads. 

Why Is There a Budget Crisis in Connecticut?

It’s one of the wealthiest states, but it’s shrinking—and the governing Democrats are divided over what to do.

(AP Photo/Jessica Hall)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill) The Connecticut Senate Chamber in Hartford. C onnecticut is bleeding red, and no end is in sight. Like Illinois and Kansas, the state has a massive budget shortfall, with a projected deficit of $5 billion over the next two years. Unlike Illinois and Kansas, though, Connecticut has yet to close its deficit. And quite unlike Illinois and Kansas, Connecticut’s problem isn’t just the handiwork of tax-slashing Republicans. The Kansas crisis was brought about by a Republican governor whose deep tax cuts in 2012 decimated health-care services and schools to the point that Republican legislators were compelled this year to reinstate, over the governor’s veto, the taxes many of them had voted to cut. The Illinois debacle was the result of a multi-year impasse between a Republican governor, who demanded a rollback of union rights, and a Democratic legislature that was unwilling to incorporate the governor’s demands in its budget. Only this year were Democrats able to...

Colorado Voters Flee Electoral Rolls Ahead of Advancing Trump Commission

In one of a handful of states vowing to comply with President Trump’s “voter fraud” commission, voters have begun preemptively withdrawing their registration en masse.

In cities across Colorado, hundreds of individuals have asked to be withdrawn from voter rolls following the administration’s June 28 request for personal voter data from each state. In Denver, where almost 200 people took themselves out of the franchise on July 6 alone, Director of Elections Amber McReynolds told The Colorado Independent that “confusion [and] hysteria” are rampant.

While more than a dozen states have refused to work with the administration, Colorado has welcomed the investigation. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, has promised to share publicly available data, including voters’ full names, addresses, and voting history since 2006. Although Williams will not comply with the administration’s request for confidential information, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, full dates of birth, or email addresses, many Colorado voters are worried and have already begun removing themselves from voter rolls.

Exact registration tallies are handled at the local level, but numerous counties—notably, heavily Democratic Boulder, Denver, and Arapahoe—have all seen voters canceling their registrations, though some plan to re-register after the state hands over data to Trump’s commission on July 14. Colorado’s 2017 statistics show 3,305,245 voters registered. Roughly 1,000 are known to have deregistered so far, while many others have opted for confidential voter status, which carries a fee and removes most of a voter’s information from publicly available records.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was formed by Trump to investigate what the president believes was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. His claims of voter fraud—which he says handed his opponent a popular vote victory—have not been supported by independent analysis. The commission is also seeking voters’ dates of birth, political party registration, felony convictions, registration information from other states, military status, and information on overseas residence. Some of this information is publicly available, but much of it is not, though individual states’ laws vary.

Williams’s actions are not as unique as they may seem. Although 44 states have expressed opposition to the electoral commission’s work, some will still hand over their public records, as Williams plans to, while registering their distaste at so doing. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, for instance, has said he is “bound by law” to turn over public records, though he has stated he will seek advice from the state’s attorney general on whether he can deny Trump’s request outright.

Williams’s relative enthusiasm may be the sticking point for some Coloradans. While many secretaries of state emphasized that they would not be turning over confidential data, Williams’s office put out a press release that praised the commission’s work and expressed its cooperation. “We are very glad they are asking for information before making decisions,” Williams said.

Although many news outlets have reported that 44 states—not including Colorado—oppose the request, fully 17 have announced they will hand over publicly available information, although Wisconsin has requested payment for doing so. Colorado’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post, editorialized in favor of providing public records to the commission but only advocated doing so for an appropriate fee. 

Pages