This week: The Briefing, Vol. IX, Issue 28
- GOP states clear winners in job recovery
- McAuliffe clings to razor-thin lead
- Drama in Josh Mandel’s campaign
Job situation: The Republican Party is eager to make sure everyone sees July’s state-level employment report from the Labor Department. Why? because Republican governors preside over 17 out of the top 20 states to regain jobs versus pre-COVID totals.
In fact, the party’s press office mildly understates the case. The top-performing “Democratic” state, North Carolina, actually has a veto-proof Republican legislative majority for most purposes. Democrats haven’t been able to do anything to prevent a recovery there.
There is a lot to be said here about partisan control, but there is also a lot more. Even now, six months into a vaccination drive and 16 months beyond the original coronavirus-inspired lockdowns, the data indicate that only two states have completely recovered their pre-COVID job levels — both of them western Republican strongholds. In fact, Idaho and Utah have not only recovered pre-COVID job levels, but have actually exceeded them by 20 percent, far outpacing any other states in America.
The next-best state is Republican-controlled Arizona at 86% of pre-COVID jobs — it just reduced its income tax to a dual 2.5% and 4.5% rate. The best-performing states with Democratic governing trifectas are #16 Colorado and #17 Maine — each just 74% recovered.
What makes Utah and Idaho so desirable as fast-growing job markets? And Arizona as third place? It is worth noting that those top two are currently experiencing way-overheated real estate markets and brutally unpleasant 100-degree summers at the moment. They don’t necessarily recommend themselves as the most attractive places in any superficial sense.
Also, all three have income taxes, which tend to be one of the biggest deterrents for those fleeing bad government and seeking places to retire.
States of tranquility: So what gives? Is there something special about Idaho and Utah?
First, unlike the coastal states and the largest Midwestern cities, there is no appreciable political violence or instability in Utah or Idaho. There is also no appreciable amount of violent crime in either of these two states. No one has rioted or burnt down buildings in either. Life is surprisingly peaceful and quiet in both.
Also, to put it bluntly, in contrast to liberal states such as California and Oregon, and to Democrat-controlled states such as New Mexico and even no-income-tax Nevada, businesses in Idaho and Utah are not at all worried about being bullied or extorted by revenue-hungry Democrats.
As the Democratic Party lurches leftward, it is making many of the states it controls less and less liveable. Crime is skyrocketing amid the Left’s “defund the police” push. Taxes are out of control, and yet the residents who have been paying them find little reason to believe they are getting their money’s worth.
This is how a midterm wave begins. Most states are still doing badly, and states with Democratic governors and legislatures are doing far worse than average in terms of their economies. With some jurisdictions locking down again due to coronavirus, the damage could be extended a bit further.
In the various states facing 2022 gubernatorial and legislative contests, Democrats in positions of power have about 16 months to right the ship, before the economic and safety situation that their states’ voters are suffering washes them away.
Virginia: A new poll from the Trafalgar Group finds that former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leads Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin by only two points. That’s a pretty lousy number for the former governor, who as a better-known figure and a successful Democrat in an ever-bluer state started out as the expected favorite in the race. McAuliffe is spending his rhetorical ammunition attacking Youngkin for his support of Trump.
Kentucky: Failed but close 2020 Senate Democratic primary candidate Charles Booker has entered the race to challenge Sen. Rand Paul, as was widely expected. He performed tremendously above expectations, nearly toppling the anointed and well-funded Democratic candidate, Amy McGrath. This time, so far, he faces only education Ph.D. Ruth Gao.
Missouri: Rep. Billy Long, a Republican representing the southwest part of the state, is jamming himself into the already-ridiculously-crowded GOP primary for the Senate seat being vacated by Roy Blunt. The sheer number of prominent Republican candidates makes it easier for scandal-scarred former Gov. Eric Greitens to win the primary.
So far, Democrats lack a credible candidate.
Ohio: Already facing a crowded primary for Senate, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel faces the additional problem of drama within his own campaign. This has all been documented quite closely by USA Today’s Ohio bureau.
A divorcee since 2020, Mandel put his girlfriend as finance director and she has since been pointed out as someone who has been shouting at staff and at the candidate in front of many witnesses. Three fundraisers have quit the campaign as a consequence.
Mandel is running against former State Party Chair Jane Timkin, who along with Mandel and author J.D. Vance will be striving to win over the Trump wing of the party.