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Friday, September 28, 2007

Grand Old Pratfall

posted by on September 28 at 15:09 PM

A much-discussed GOP plan to swipe up to 20 electoral votes in California in ‘08—and potentially the White House (again)—collapsed today. Rudy is involved somehow.

But what caused the initiative’s creator, Tom Hiltachk, and its spokesman, Kevin Eckery, to resign, was their dispute with the effort’s largest donor, an organization called “Take Initiative America.” The group was created by Charles A. Hurth III, a Missouri lawyer and a Giuliani donor, just one day before Mr. Hiltachk received a $175,000 check from the group to help finance the cause.

But when Mr. Hiltachk could not learn the names of the individual donors to the organization, he declared the effort more or less undermined, and quit.

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Hiltachk hasn't granted interviews since he started this whole CA electoral vote business, so it isn't like he isn't very mysterious, himself.

Whatever this little conspiracy was, or is, it's sure some pretty creepy weird shit.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | September 28, 2007 3:19 PM

They were trying a little Tom DeLay action in CA.

Posted by monkey | September 28, 2007 3:28 PM

how was this effort supposed to be legal or constitutional in the first place? i don't like the electoral vote system, but i don't think one state can just arbitrarily decide they're not going to abide by it anymore, can they?

Posted by chris | September 28, 2007 3:43 PM

Now, if they wanted to do this to R.I. or N.H. or Idaho or some other small state, that might make sense ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 28, 2007 3:57 PM

There are currently two states that operate outside the normal workings of the electoral college: Maine and Nebraska. One - I believe it's Nebraska - divvies up its electoral votes based on the percentage each candidate took in that state. In Maine, the winner of the popular vote takes 2 of the votes (those corresponding to the states' 2 senators) and the rest are apportioned out to the winners of each legislative district.

They also tried to pass legislation to put this into motion in Colorado, back in '04, but the initiative failed. Basically, it's impossible to shake the public perception that partisan politics are the driving force for the proposed change...and very nearly impossible to actually avoid extreme partisanship. Sometimes it's more blatant than others (see the recent California example).

Posted by John | September 28, 2007 4:18 PM

One of the people involved in defeating the measure is real estate developer/film producer Stephen Bing, whose credits include Polar Express, Kangaroo Jack and the Sylvester Stallone remake of Get Carter.

It's nice to know we have at least one thing to thank him for.

Posted by E. Steven | September 28, 2007 4:19 PM

To Chris @3:

They would not be opting out of the electoral college, just changing how the electors are selected. This is completely within the right of the states. However, the constitution says that the electors will be chosen in a manner to be decided by the "state legislature." Since the CA effort was a ballot initiative, not an action of the legislature, its constitutionality is in question. The constitutional experts I've heard are split on the matter.

Interestingly, there is an effort by some states to bypass the electoral college completely. Maryland has passed a law that it's electors will be allocated to whomever wins the nation-wide popular vote. However, this law won't take effect unless states totaling more than 1/2 needed to elect the President pass similar laws. This would give us defacto direct popular election of the President with no need for a constitutional amendment.

Posted by Charles | September 28, 2007 5:09 PM

I would be more worried about the voter machines and the Bush appointees to the Justice Department (the people that investigate alleged voting fraud).

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 28, 2007 6:57 PM

Thank fucking god. But let's all keep our eyes open for the next insidious right-wing plot to steal the election. Maybe they used this one to make a bunch of noise while they secretly think of new ways to disenfranchise minority voters. Be on full alert!

Posted by Alphonse | October 1, 2007 8:47 AM

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