BY KAREN OCAMB | Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton swept the five primary contests on Super Tuesday 2, winning overwhelmingly in Florida and North Carolina and chalking up victories in Illinois and Ohio, though her Missouri win was by only two points over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s rebound after last week’s Michigan victory for the democratic socialist was made even stronger by her significant lead in the delegate count, with nearly 300 pledged delegates and her overwhelming lock among Democratic Party super delegates.
Losing Ohio was a particularly difficult blow to Sanders who expected to win the state based on his appeal to blue collar voters on free trade issues. Clinton, however, apparently convinced voters that her trade positions had been misrepresented and that she was tough on trade and strong on jobs and the economy.
Though the delegate path may have narrowed for his campaign, Sanders is marshaling on, hoping to win Arizona, Idaho and Utah next Tuesday. Additionally, he has been arguing lately that if he wins a state by popular vote, those state’s delegates siding with Clinton should reconsider their pledges to accurately represent the wishes of their constituencies. Clinton now has a total of 1,132 delegates to Sanders’ 818 delegates, with 2,383 delegates needed to win.
Sanders says he remains confident about his chances of winning the Democratic nomination but he may have another unexpected problem as a result of his Super Tuesday2 loss: thousands showed up at his rally last night, but none of the cable news shows covered his concession speech. He has significant campaign funds to buy ads going forward, but he may no longer easily get free media.
On the Republican side, real estate developer Donald Trump won four of five primaries, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich winning his home state. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio lost his home state and dropped out of the race, leaving Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the strongest challenger to the apparently unstoppable controversial frontrunner. In delegate math, Trump now has 666 delegates out of the 1237 delegates needed to win, according to the latest tally by MSNBC. The talk now among the #NeverTrump forces is about how to stop him at a contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Cruz was neck-and-neck with Trump in Missouri but with Kasich staying in the race, his chances of consolidating the anti-Trump vote before the June 7 contest in California are slim.
From an LGBT perspective, there is no contest, according to Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. http://www.hrc.org/blog/hrc-responds-to-results-from-todays-presidential-primary-contests HRC endorsed Clinton early to preserve the LGBT gains made during the Obama presidency.
“[Clinton] has proven time and again that she will fight for the LGBT community — and we are proud to continue to fight alongside her to make sure no opponent of LGBT equality ever sets foot in the Oval Office,” Griffin said in a statement. “John Kasich may have won the state of Ohio tonight, but with an anti-LGBT record, he won’t win the hearts and minds of millions of pro-equality voters should he somehow manage to find a path to his party’s nomination. As Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz threaten to overturn, undo, and undermine the progress we have made under President Obama, we are ready to double down and fight like hell to elect Hillary Clinton in November.”
HRC also noted: “GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz sank to new lows earlier this year when they doubled down on their support for bills that would allow business to deny service to LGBT people for religious reasons. Cruz even suggested that a state should be allowed to ban adoption by same-sex couples — a position that is at odds with thenation’s leading child welfare organization. They both, along with Rubio and Kasich, remain opposed to nationwide marriage equality, with Trump even telling Christian Broadcasting News that voters can “trust him” to reverse the Obergefell decision.”
Both Clinton and Trump have already started running against each other with jibes in their victory speeches and new ads. But on Wednesday morning, President Obama drew an underscored bright line on how important this election is to the fate of the country by nominating moderate Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately appeared on the Senate floor to announce that the Senate would not take up the nomination, citing former Judiciary Chair, now Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks during a similar situation many years ago. McConnell, while acknowledging Obama’s constitutional right and duty to appoint a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, cited the “Biden Rule” to wait until after the election is over to “give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.”
Lambda Legal’s Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair Jon W. Davidson is calling for the Senate to do its job http://www.lambdalegal.org/petition/do-your-job and review Obama’s nominee at a fair and non-partisan hearing. The process is especially important for the LGBT community. Davidson says:
“Despite the recent Supreme Court victory that made marriage equally available to same-sex couples throughout the United States, numerous issues that are critically important to the LGBT community are likely to come before the Court again soon. These include the constitutionality of sweeping, ardently anti-LGBT laws masquerading as religious freedom protections; the legality of anti-transgender policies designed to bar equal access to public spaces; the protection federal employment discrimination laws provide to LGBT workers; and the constitutionality of harsh and discriminatory HIV criminalization laws. Lambda Legal often appears before the Supreme Court and we are acutely aware of how important it is that its justices be committed to our Constitution’s guarantees of equality, justice and fairness for all and that the Court not face tie votes that fail to resolve open issues nationally.
“We hope that the progress we have spent decades fighting for will continue once the vacancy is filled. We again demand that the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee meet their constitutional obligation and promptly move forward with the confirmation process. Recent polling shows that two-thirds of all Americans believe hearings should occur. All Americans, not just a select few, need justices who will uphold the Constitution and ensure that its guiding principles are applied equally to protect everyone in our nation.”
As Hillary Clinton noted in her victory speech Tuesday night, the direction of the country is at stake in the election this November, with the presidency, the Supreme Court and majority seats in Congress up for a vote. The question is: will enthusiastic supporters of defeated candidates show up at the polls to vote for the winner of the Democratic and Republican nominations?