The Big Story in Yesterday’s Election Wasn’t GOP Victories-It was Low Voter Turn Out?

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DaveyD-leather-225Everyone is talking about yesterday’s elections and how the gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey are key indicators that the Republican Party is back and on the attack.  I’m also hearing a lot of talk about the ‘impressive’ finish New York’s mayoral candidate Bill Thompson did up against the massive money (100 million dollars) spent by current Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Thompson came within 4% of winning after it was predicted that Bloomberg would ether him by as much 10-15%.

Because President Obama was backing Thompson and had his top aids along with himself stomping hard for NJ Governor Jon Corzine against Chris Christie, many are looking at those losses  as a sign that support for President Obama is weakening.

We’re hearing a lot of talk about how the economy was a key issue and not enough has been done, hence people voted to oust the Dems. We’re also hearing pundits talk about  how independent voters  need to be courted better because they appeared to have gone for the Republicans.

While all these things are factors we can ponder over and endlessly debate, what I’m not hearing are conversations around what I think is this election season’s most glaring story-Low Voter turnout. From here in Houston where they estimate a record low, 20% came out  to New York where less than 30 % turned out, and everywhere in between the story was the same. The question on my mind is where were all the young voters who came out in record numbers that put Obama into the White House? More importantly where was the outstanding community organizing that became the hallmark of the 08  election? Where was all the new technology and other slick tools of political engagement being put to use?

I ask these questions, not to simply find fault with President Obama and relentlessly criticize him, but what took place in 08 was touted to be a new beginning. It was touted as being something that would sustain itself and that the folks who came out in 08 were part of a new majority that would be a formidable force for years to come.  What made the 08 campaigns so exciting and fascinating was the independent nature of it. Many of the campaign organizers relished at how they had the freedom to really put their skill sets to the test and do some groundbreaking things to engage voters. This was important because what was noted over and over, was what was taking place was bigger than Obama. In fact President Obama said it himself, that the people organizing was bigger than him.. So where were those people? What happened that those stellar ground teams were not in place to hold it down in jersey, Virginia and in New York.  Was 08 really about a charismatic personality or was it about being part of the political process? Was it about uninspiring candidates who policies and politics were rejected by the people? To me that’s the big story?

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NY mayoral candidate Bill Thompson

I can understand how people were excited around Bill Thompson coming so close in the NY mayor’s race, but obviously they weren’t that excited to come out and vote.  Forget about Michael Bloomberg and his millions for a minute. We already know that he wasn’t real popular at least this time around. He basically was out there buying votes.  There was a lot of anger out there toward Bloomberg because of the way he went about flipping the law to get term limits extended. That anger was coupled with widespread dissatisfaction with everything from an increase in police brutality ala Sean Bell to lack of affordable housing etc. People in NY were ready for change…So the question is was Bill Thompson that change? Was he inspiring to people?   Was it really a money thing or did people see or not see the relevancy in his campaign?

Former Vice Presidential green party candidate Rosa Clemente chimed in on a Facebook discussion last night and noted;

” less than 1.2 million people voted out of an electorate of over 5 million, the problem is no one voted, people are disgusted and disengaged at this point, the youth turnout was almost nonexistent, people see that voting does nothing and changes nothing at this point”

If young voters feel disengaged and we can discern this from the lack of turnout all over the country then we have some major problems coming down the pipe. We also have some important soul searching questions to answer.  On one hand, we may have to deal with a betrayal of sorts. During 08, there were many who were skeptical about elections being worth their while. There were many who timidly set aside their deep seeded doubts and allowed themselves to believe in ‘Hope and Change’.  Many young voters looked at the fiasco of the 2000 election and concluded that their votes didn’t count and all this was one big scam.  The 08 campaign help ease those doubts, but it was extremely important that people stay political engaged. One could not take these voters for granted. They could not be seen  just a ‘key demographic to be marketed to.. It was  important to remember that for many, promises that were made or implied would be taken seriously. Hence if they were no longer being engaged and they watched and saw promises no longer kept, many would feel betrayed and not bother to jump into the arena.

We know that was the case in places like Houston where more than a million people who were eligible to vote were un-registered.  When we went around prior to the 08 election, we saw that way too many people had been convinced that voting was not only a waste of time, but it could be misleading if one allowed themselves to get caught up in the hype.  We saw and heard similar sentiments expressed by young voters in places like Los Angeles.  It took a lot of hard work to get people on board and in the end the democrats benefitted.

With that in mind, everyone from Bill Thompson to Jon Corzine and anyone else running for office with left leaning politics had a responsibility to ask themselves how was their campaign engaging all those voters who help put their party in office?  In what ways were they continuing the process?  In a place like NY where almost half the voting population is within 18-40 age range the fact that so little came out is shameful.  Not just for Bill Thompson but for the Democratic Party that he belongs to..  This is important.  Thompson was not an independent guy who came out of no where nor is the Democratic Party without money and resources. He was a skilled politician who was comptroller for the one of the largest cities in the world. His election would be center stage. Where was the investment and does the lack of indicate what we should expect in the future? And yes, the same critique could be applied to Michael Bloomberg as well who actually had the nerve to stand on stage and give a victory speech with a sign behind him that said ‘Progress. What sort of progress did  his 100 million dollars do to inspire young and first and second time voters?

When you see this pattern repeat itself all over the country one has to ask, f this was intentional? Prior to 08, many of the young voters I encountered expressed that they felt like the people running these big parties didn’t really belive in them and weren’t all that welcoming. Obama changed that with his campaign, so people came out in droves, but did the rest of the party ever get the memo? Do many of these folks running for office see young voters as viable or do they have consultants in their ear saying don’t bother they are too risky and inconsistent?

jelanicobbred-225“There are many people who would be happy to not see young people and for that matter progressives further involved with electoral politics”, said  Jelani Cobb, former Obama delegate and current History department chairman for Spelman College.  He noted that in many local races where major party machinery can decide an election , there are many who don’t want to change the way they do business.

“You didn’t see a lot of courting of young people or progressive ” Cobb stated when contrasting 08 election to yesterday’s contest.  “In a day that had beautiful weather we had 24% voter turnout, this was far less than previous elections”.

He noted that in Atlanta less than 100 thousand people (24%) showed up to an election that got nationwide coverage because a white woman  was mounting a strong campaign to be mayor. It would be the first time in 4 decades that a white person became Mayor. What Cobb found even more interesting was the fact that even  though there were attempts to overstate the race an issue and there was a call to ‘save Black mayoralship’ of Atlanta,there was low turnout in districts that were heavily populated with African Americans.

Cobb concluded by noting the lack of money that was raised by the major candidates in yesterdays election. He pointed out that current Mayor Shirley Franklin had raised more money than all three in the last election.

YouthvoteWhen we went to one of the Houston mayoral debate that was billed as one where issues and concerns of the grassroots would be addressed.  Afterwards we spoke with a number of people including local activists, Tarsha Jackson and  Busi Peters-Maujhan who noted that there was a lot lacking both in the answers given at the debate as well as the how the candidates were campaigning. Jackson noted that she didn’t see a lot of activity in many of the precincts where she did work and at the time it concerned her. She felt like the mayoral candidates were giving lip service and people might not come out.  Her predictions proved to be correct.

Peters-Maujhan noted that these candidates were not engaging many of the people who had brushes with the law. Noting that Harris county which is the third largest in the country had an extremely high rate of people who have gone to jail, she stated that it was important that community not only be engaged, but also informed that they are eligible to vote if they were ‘off paper’ (no longer on probation or parole). She expressed one of the things we found during the 08 campaign that there was widespread belief that one could not vote if they behind in child support payments, had parking tickets or had been arrested.  Peters Maujhan wanted more politicians to be aggressive in courting those voters.

firsttimevotersWith all this in mind,  one has to ask what should community activists, organizers, elders and concerned people do to keep folks in their respective communities politically engaged especially if it appears that important sections of the population are being overlooked?  Do we run for office? Do we  have plans of action to keep folks excited and involved in electoral politics?   What has become apparent its going to take more than a few ‘Get Out To Vote” slogans uttered on the radio, MTV or BET  around election time. I am starting to hear more and more conversations of setting up leadership training classes that explain the ins and outs of civic engagement. I am  also hearing more and more people talk about trying to push to have civic classes in schools.

I think such ideas are great, I would personally like to see popular media outlets offer more discussions about politics all year round. I was disappointed to see that as soon as Obama took office urban outlets all over rthe country stopped having daily conversations about elections. many went back to meaningless chatter and gossip.

Maybe things will change in 2010, where the stakes will be even higher. All the congressional seats will be up for grabs. Many of the senatorial seats will also be up. Whoever wins in 210 will have some serious say so on how redistricting will work. That will have apolitical impact for the next 10 years. Until then all of us who have a concern about yesterdays’ election results need to ask ourselves that hard honest question. Where were the voters who stood to benefit by not having them come out?

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10 Races to Watch Across the Nation-What does it mean?

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 What does Today’s Election Ultimately Mean? 

by Davey D

ObamaNAACP-400

Will the outcome of today's election reflect what's in store for President Obama and his policies?

Today’s election is shaping up to be a referendum on President Obama and his theme of Change which propelled him into the White House. Many of the races, in particular the NJ governor’s race, The NY congressional race in NY’s 23rd district & the Virginia Governor’s race may be political bell weathers.

In NY’s 23rd district, it’s the battle of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh tea party crowd versus more traditional, moderate republicans. As of now the Republican candidate was bounced out of the race, by the crazies. Sarah Palin came through and endorsed a more conservative candidate, Douglas Hoffman who isn’t even in the GOP. The Republican who dropped out Dede Scozzafava went and endorsed the Democratic challenger Bill Owens. If Hoffman wins, the Tea party folks will see this as sea change of sorts and become even more emboldened. In other words look for them to wratch it up.

In Virgina and NJ, record number of people came out, in particular young people and folks of color. People are predicting low voter turn out and both states and Obama’s young enthusiastic crowd is nowhere to be seen. Thats speaking volumes. In Virginia the Democratic candidate, Creigh Deeds refused to work with the Obama administration for his election. He is now getting smashed and may set the state that the Dems worked so hard to win backwards.  It’s a bad look..

In NJ, the race is highly contentious between  Republican challenger Chris Christie and current Governor  Jon Corzine.  Christie has been running a campaign that speaks to the discontent of an ineffective Obama backed Goldman Sach’s candidate. He’s tapped into the tea party crowd. Corzine who was endorsed by Obama has run a campaign that is anything but Obama like. he’s been doing all the negative ads etc… He’s not staying above the fray. One may be disappointed in the approach but it’s moved him from behind in the polls to a dead even heat.   Again the big question maybe why didn’t Corzine or the Obama machine tap into those millions of young voters who came out to put him in office. How is this administration keeping all those new voters politically engaged?  

Stay tuned folks cause after today 2010 will be a doozie.

-Davey D

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  Races to Watch Across the Nation

By Kate Phillips

It may be an off-year, election-wise, but a few key races have certainly caught the buzz of Republicans and Democrats alike. Whether they augur for a lesser staying power of President Obama’s influence and electoral pull heading into the 2010 midterm elections, or offer Republican conservatives a map for consolidating their base against a more moderate wing of the party, all remain to be seen.

The Times’s Adam Nagourney provides an overview of the top races, counseling caution against taking stock in overly broad interpretations of results in these contests as harbingers for the midterm elections.

And several of our national correspondents offer their takes below on mayoral races in the nation’s larger cities, and on a few referenda from Maine to Washington State.

Gubernatorial Contests

VIRGINIA: Robert McDonnell, the Republican candidate, has pulled ahead of Creigh Deeds, the Democrat, in recent weeks, in a race that’s been closely watched. President Obama carried the state last year, in an effort that demonstrated the purplish swing regions, especially in northern Virginia. But voters have been focused on much more local issues, especially transportation and roads in areas where gridlock and tolls prevail. Both made high-profile appeals for the women’s vote. Polls close at 7 p.m.

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Jon Corzine’s bid for reelection has been bumpy and his race against Chris Christie, the Republican, has been close for weeks. A third-party candidate, Christopher Daggett, had also had some influence in earlier polls. The Times’s David Halbfinger notes that this statewide race may come down again to the suburbs, as many Jersey elections usually do. In perhaps a sign of what’s at stake for the White House and national Democrats, President Obama campaigned for Mr. Corzine just last Sunday. Polls close at 8 p.m.

Congressional Races

New York’s 23rd District: The twists and turns in this race to replace John McHugh, the Republican selected to become secretary of the Army, have conservatives salivating for a victory that they hope will keep energizing the G.O.P. base into the 2010 cycle.

Their opposition to Dede Scozzafava, the moderate Republican who dropped out over the weekend and threw her support to Democrat Bill Owens, has been clamorous, with high-profile Republicans like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and others backing Douglas Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate.

On Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden stumped for Mr. Owens, highlighting the extraordinary pitch of this race. Jeremy Peters offers up the final glimpses in a district brimming with ideological influences.

California’s 22nd District: The special election to replace former Representative Ellen Tauscher, who became an undersecretary in the State Department, seems destined to remain Democratic. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, the Democratic candidate, is considered the frontrunner against David Harmer, the Republican.

Same-Sex Issues

MAINE: Voters will decide whether to repeal a law allowing same-sex marriage, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. John Baldacci in May. With the two sides in an apparent dead heat, both have intensified get-out-the-vote efforts in recent days, bombarding voters with phone calls, e-mails and ads.

Still, state officials are predicting that only about 35 percent of voters will turn out because there are no elections, only referenda, on the ballot.

The campaign has been closely watched around the nation: gay-rights advocates, still reeling from last year’s passage of a ballot measure banning gay marriage in California, say that losing in Maine would further a perception that only judges and politicians embrace it. Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire all permit same-sex marriage, through either legislation or court decisions. But voters in about 30 states have rejected same-sex marriage in constitutional amendments placed on the their ballots.

Opponents of gay marriage have taken a page from the California playbook, warning that if same-sex marriage survives in Maine, it will be taught in public schools. Supporters, who have raised more money, have stressed that all people, including gay men and lesbians, should be treated equally under the law. Here’s the latest on the battle. –Abby Goodnough

WASHINGTON: Voters here will decide today whether to expand legal protections for couples registered as domestic partners under a state ballot measure nicknamed “everything but marriage.”

The measure, Referendum 71, asks voters to approve or reject a bill passed by the Democratically controlled Legislature in April and signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, in May.

Under Washington State law, a law passed by the Legislature can be put to a state referendum if enough petition signatures are gathered. A group called Protect Marriage Washington gathered just more than the necessary 120,000 valid signatures to force the referendum.

Although the campaign has not received as much attention as the fight in Maine over gay marriage, Protect Marriage Washington has tried to generate opposition to Referendum 71 by casting it as a last stand against same-sex marriage.

The election in Washington is largely vote-by-mail, with ballots required to be postmarked by Tuesday. Results may not be clear until later in the week. — William Yardley

Mayoral Races

ATLANTA: In the mayor’s race, poll watchers are focused on the chance that the frontrunner, Mary Norwood, may win without a runoff, making her the first white mayor of Atlanta since 1974, when Maynard Jackson became the first in a long line of black mayors.

Ms. Norwood, who has served as an at-large member of city council for eight years, is squaring off against Lisa Borders, a black business executive who has served as council president, another citywide position, for seven years, and Kasim Reed, a black lawyer who served in the state Legislature for 11 years before stepping down to run for mayor. Mr. Reed has raised $1.6 million, Ms. Norwood $1.5 million and Ms. Borders $1.3 million.

But the race has heated up in the last few days as the state Democratic Party and Mr. Reed have attacked Ms. Norwood for being a Republican, putting her on the defensive. Ms. Norwood, who lives in the largely white, conservative community of Buckhead and has voted more often in Republican than Democratic primaries, has risked alienating her base with a new ad in which she ticks off a list of Democratic presidential candidates that she voted for. “I believe in President Obama’s call for change and accountability,” she says in the ad. Georgians do not register by party.

The ad may dampen voter enthusiasm for Ms. Norwood, who had successfully tapped into anger at the current administration over crime, poor financial accounting and a recent tax increase, leading some analysts to predict that she would have the edge in a race expected to have very low turnout.

“The voter intensity on the white side was  pre=”was “>much stronger” than among blacks before the new ad came out, said Matt Towery, who has been polling the race. “It doesn’t mean that she’s not going to still capture the lion’s share of the white vote,” he said, “but 1,500 to 2,000 diehard Republicans who get offended and don’t show up it could put you in a runoff.”

Ms. Borders, the favored candidate of the downtown business establishment because she was seen as a “bridge” candidate who could pull white voters away from Ms. Norwood, has gotten significant support from Republicans herself. She was once in second place but has lost considerable ground in the last two weeks to Mr. Reed, who has been tailoring his message to black voters, announcing endorsements such as that of Mr. Jackson’s daughter, Brooke Jackson-Edmond. Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, and Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, have campaigned for Mr. Reed.

For her part, Ms. Borders has focused on female voters – her advisers say the largest group of undecided voters are black women – by running her ads on cable channels like Hallmark and Lifetime. — Shaila Dewan

BOSTON: Mayor Thomas Menino is seeking an unprecedented fifth term for office, in a wild race with a popular candidate, Michael H. Flaherty, a councilor at large. The Boston Globe indicates today that voter turnout and the outcome may largely depend on who has the biggest boots on the ground.

annise-parker

Houston may make history and elect its first openly gay mayor Anisse Parker. Does her run for office reflect the change that Obama campaigned on?

HOUSTON: Voters go to the polls to decide a mayor’s race between a former gay activist, a prominent black lawyer and a wealthy city councilman who has pumped more than $2.4 million of his family fortune into the race.

A fourth candidate, a Hispanic Republican with a conservative message, is trailing so badly in the polls, he is considered a longshot, at best. Most voters have found the race incredibly tedious, since the current mayor, Bill White, is popular and there is little anger at City Hall. Plus, the three major Democratic candidates are so close to one another on the issues they have almost nothing to argue about.

Mayor White cannot stand for re-election because of term limits; he is running for the United States Senate.

Despite its ho-hum rhetoric, the contest might give the nation’s fourth-largest city the chance to make history. Houston would become the largest city in the country to elect an openly gay candidate to the mayor’s office if it gives the nod to the City Controller, Annise Parker. Ms. Parker has been elected citywide twice before and tends to play down her sexual orientation on the campaign trail, focusing instead on bread and butter issues. She is running second in most polls with about 20 percent of the vote.

The front runner has been Peter Brown, a city councilman and an architect who wants to establish a master plan in a city adverse to planning. Mr. Brown says he is the independent candidate in the race since he has financed his campaign largely with his own fortune and the money of his wife, a heiress to the Schlumberger oil services fortune. The only black candidate in the race is Gene Locke, a former student radical-turned-establishment lawyer who has the support of business leaders and many black politicians.

In the last week, the candidates have been lobbing some negative attacks at one another in a desperate attempt to break the deadlock. Mr. Locke, for instance, has accused Mr. Brown of trying to buy the election.

Most pundits and political strategists believe the race is headed for a run-off in December, as most Houston mayoral contests do. The calculus of who eventually wins depends heavily on which two candidates face off in the final round. One wild card in the calculations is where will Republicans, who are about a third of the vote, go if their candidate is knocked out, as is likely. And if Mr. Locke is knocked out of the race, then the black vote will be up for grabs, some strategists say. — James McKinley

DETROIT: Dave Bing, a former basketball star, is widely favored to be re-elected as mayor of Detroit on Tuesday night. It’s the fourth mayoral election in this city, which has been stricken financially, since February – a result of the departure last year of Kwame M. Kilpatrick, the former mayor who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a scandal over his romantic relationship with his chief of staff.

In a poll last month, Mr. Bing, a longtime businessman in the Detroit area, led Tom Barrow, his opponent in the nonpartisan election, by more than 20 percentage points. Mr. Bing had beaten Mr. Barrow 74 percent to 11 percent in an August primary election, but Mr. Bing had tangled with city unions in the months since then and had offered a painful – realistic, he would say – assessment of all that needs to be cut to make the city’s government financially stable again.

Far more change is anticipated Tuesday night on Detroit’s city council, an entity often criticized for its bickering, battling with mayors and other woes. Earlier this year, Monica Conyers, a city council member (and the wife of John Conyers, the United States Representative), pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery and awaits sentencing. Another city council member, Martha Reeves, the former Motown singer, lost her chance to return to the council during the August primary, when she was vastly outpaced by a wide array of challengers.

Five incumbents and 13 challengers – including former police officers and a former local television newscaster – are seeking the nine council seats, all of which are open this election. Some observers, including Mr. Bing, have predicted significant change to the council.

Among other issues facing Detroiters on Tuesday’s ballot: Whether to support a $500 million bond for construction and renovations in the Detroit Public Schools, an institution whose troubles led Michigan’s governor to send in an emergency financial manager. — Monica Davey

MIAMI: This mayoral election is occurring after a relatively drab campaign between two city commissioners who stand on opposite sides of one important issue: whether current Mayor Manny Diaz did a good job.

Tomás Regalado, known to many here as the “just say no” commissioner, has regularly attacked the Diaz administration for over-building at the behest of developers. At 62, with a slight stoop, he has pitched his campaign to voters as a “back to basics” effort that will let Miami “take a breather” after the go-go years of construction.

Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez has also tried to mine frustration with Mr. Diaz, who is leaving because of term limits. Mr. Sanchez recently voted against a new, more pedestrian-friendly zoning plan that that the mayor views as his legacy. Yet after years of supporting Mr. Diaz’s ambitious plans – for a port tunnel and a new baseball stadium downtown – Mr. Sanchez, 44, is still largely seen as pro-business, and in favor of big plans.

Is this city up for that, when downtown remains marked by conflicting signs of the Diaz reign – a new restaurant here, a condo tower in bankruptcy there? This is one of the questions that Tuesday’s nonpartisan election may begin to answer. — Damien Cave

NEW YORK: Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sail into his third-term, with his challenger, William Thompson, unable to gain enough traction in recent weeks. But as Michael Barbaro reports in this morning’s paper, the mayor’s outsized spending on the race — expected to reach $100 million — has turned off some voters. In addition, the contest has exposed deep class and borough divisions between supporters of either candidate.

PITTSBURGH: Ian Urbina wrote this weekend that Luke Ravenstahl, the young mayor of the municipality formerly known as the “Steel City” is favored for reelection.

SEATTLE: >Mayor Greg Nickels, a two-term Democrat, came in third in an August primary in which only the top two finishers moved on to the general election.

Mr. Nickels was defeated by two relative unknowns, Mike McGinn, a lawyer and former head of the local Sierra Club chapter, and Joe Mallahan, a vice president with T-Mobile. Mr. McGinn, who initially built his campaign around opposition to a multibillion plan to build a highway tunnel beneath the Seattle waterfront, but has since said he would not stop the project, fared best among the city’s most liberal voters during the primary. Mr. Mallahan, who has said from the beginning that the tunnel project should go forward, did better with more moderate and affluent voters; he has won endorsements from many business leaders and top elected officials. — William Yardley

Other Notable Issues

OHIO: For the fifth time, Buckeye State voters get a chance to determine whether they should allow casino gambling, with a referendum labeled Issue 3 on the ballot. If approved, the measure would permit casinos in four cities; Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus and Cleveland.

This time around, the vote is being viewed through the prism of the recession, with proponents arguing that it could create hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue in a state where the unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent or more in some pockets. Proponents alone had spent more than $30 million through mid-October to campaign for the measure’s passage.

PHILADELPHIA: Talk about going deeply local. Karl Rove, the former top Bush adviser, sent out an appeal on Monday to voters seeking support for Joan Orie Melvin, the Republican candidate for a state Supreme Court seat in Philadelphia. She and Democrat Jack Panella have been vying for a vacancy that has pitted big money and major interests like the trial lawyers against major G.O.P. players like Mr. Rove. Both candidates are already judges, both received the highest ratings.

ELDERPOLITICS: We found one of the most amusing pieces in this off-year — and perhaps telling in terms of an aging electorate — emanating out of Pennsylvania. The Wall Street Journal took a deeper look at smalltown races in the Keystone State, which has a very high number of little governments and has a whole lot of elderly politicians seeking reelection to oh, like their 15th terms.

original source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/races-to-watch-across-the-nation/

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