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Paul Ryan's efforts to save incumbent Republicans fell short twice more this week.
In Maine 2, Jared Golden defeated Bruce Poliquin. Golden makes history as the first person elected to Congress by ranked voting. Maine instituted ranked voting in 2016, and this was the first election in which it was implemented. Golden and Poliquin were in a four-way race with Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar. After the first round of voting, neither of the leaders had over 50 percent, so the choices of those who finished third and fourth came into play.
Golden won with 50.5 percent of the vote. In the first round, Bond and Hoar received just over 23,000 votes. Of those votes, 14,927 were redistributed using voter rankings. Once those were calculated, Golden was ahead with a margin of 2,900 votes.
Poliquin has filed a federal lawsuit against the ranked voting system, claiming it is unconstitutional. Republicans in Maine opposed ranked voting, but voters approved it twice at the ballot box. Even if Poliquin manages to convince a federal judge to overrule the expressed wishes of the voters of Maine, a prospect legal scholars see as unlikely, he runs into the small problem of Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, which states that, “Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members.” Since Democrats will be in charge of the House next January, it is unlikely they would seat a Republican who a majority of voters rejected.
If Golden is seated, Poliquin will be the first incumbent unseated in Maine 2 since 1916. Poliquin was also the lone Republican House member in New England; a win by Golden makes the region completely blue. Senator Susan Collins is the lone congressional Republican left in New England, and she will be a major target for Democrats in 2020.
The Congressional Leadership Fund spent over $2.5 million on attacks ads on Golden. One of the more notable attacks focused on the fact that Golden has tattoos. Golden spent four years in the Marine Corps, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. (What a shock, a Marine with tattoos.) The CLF also used their go-to “liberal” attack on Golden.
Ryan spent even more attempting to save Rep. Mimi Walters, an amazing $4.8 million against challenger Katie Porter. Walters was ahead on election night, but as the ballots were counted, Porter moved ahead and looks to be winning by about 1 percent. The win is a major rebuke to Trump and Ryan, as Porter ran as an unapologetic liberal in conservative Orange County.
Ryan used the classic “liberal” attacks on Porter, which ironically, were accurate in this case. Ryan accused Porter of supporting sanctuary cities and being against ICE, supporting high gas taxes, and for supporting national health care that would “raise taxes on middle-class families.” Ryan neglected to mention that their health insurance premiums would be zero, therefore saving most families a great deal of money. Ryan also linked Porter with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The CLF even set up a field office in Orange County to campaign against Porter, and for Walters.
With the $7.4 million spent on Golden and Porter, the total of money wasted by Ryan on attack ads rises to just over $48.6 million. And it is possible that a majority of money spent by the CLF was wasted during the 2017-2018 cycle.
In California 39, Democrat Gil Cisneros had a narrow lead over Republican Young Kim on November 15. If that lead holds up, it will be the fifth congressional seat Republicans lost in California in 2018. The CLF spent $4.4 million against Cisneros. Incredibly, the party of Donald Trump decided to jump on the #MeToo band wagon in Cisneros's race, rehashing a sexual misconduct against Cisneros by a candidate for the state legislature. Cisneros has denied the allegations. A female narrator in one ad states “It's wrong. It's disgusting. Gil Cisneros, have you no shame?” Yes, the most shameless Speaker in House history is attempting to shame other people.
Last, but hardly least, in the Salt Lake City Race between Mia Love and Ben McAdams, the CLF spent $836,000. The race is yet to be determined, with results still outstanding, but the fact that Ryan had to spend over 800 grand in Utah is in and of itself remarkable.