Monday, November 26, 2012

2012 ELECTION RESULTS: Americans speak with one voice on term limits

Is it fair to call a 97% victory a mandate for term limits?

For all the talk of bitterness, polarization and division in what turned out to be an electoral muddle, voters in red and blue states across the nation united on Nov. 6 in their decisive support of term limits in both small-town and statewide referenda.

We’ve uncovered 91 jurisdictions so far where term limits appeared on the ballot – either calling for new limits or defending existing ones from politicians’ attacks – and term limits won in 88, or 97%, of them.

As lopsided as it is, even this figure obscures the magnitude of the victory for term limits nationwide. After all, victories included voters establishing 8-year term limits in Florida’s mammoth Miami-Dade County, Nebraska voters statewide fending off a legislative attack on their popular 8-year term limits law, and school board term limits being established in 67 Louisiana parishes in 67 separate referenda. Losses were limited to term limits being lifted on the coroner and sheriff in Delta County, Colorado, and weakening existing city council term limits in Hammond, Louisiana.

The election results conform with election results in 2010 and 2008 as well as recent national polling suggesting that some 70-83 percent of Americans support term limits on their elected officials.

These are the referenda we were following this year. If you know of any others please let us know and we’ll update the list.

BROOKSVILLE, FL -- Weaken 8-year term city council limits
28% YES

BUELLTON, CA -- Place term limits on city council
NO 23%

CANFIELD CITY, OH -- Place term limits on city council
NO 39%

CANFIELD CITY, OH -- Places term limits on mayor
NO 42%

WEST VIRGINIA (STATEWIDE) -- Repeal sheriff term limits
YES 47%

COLUMBIA COUNTY, GA -- Places 8-year term limits on county commission
NO 14%

DELTA COUNTY, CO -- Repeal sheriff term limits
NO 27%

DELTA COUNTY, CO -- Repeal coronor term limits
NO 19%

DUNEDIN, FL -- Places 8-year term limits on mayor and city council
NO 30%

EL PASO COUNTY, CO -- Restoring 8-year county commission term limits, reverses deceptive 2010 referenda
NO 42%

HAMMOND, LA -- Adds an additional term for city council
NO 42%

HERMOSA CLIFF, CO -- Repeal term limits for board of directors
YES 47%

JOHNSTOWN, RI -- Places 8-year term limits on mayor
NO 28%

KETTERING, OH -- Places 8-year term limits on city council, mayor
NO 38%

KNOX COUNTY, TN -- Conforms commission district and commission at large seats under
term limits law
NO 14%

LOMBARD, IL -- Places term limits on all village officers
NO 19%

LOUSIANA (67 individual districts) -- Places term limits on local school boards
NO 15-30%

MANSFIELD, OH -- Abolishes term limits for elected officials
YES 72%

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL -- Establish 8-year county commission term limits
NO 23%

NEBRASKA (STATEWIDE) -- Add extra term for state senators
YES 35%

OAKRIDGE, OR -- Places 8-year term limits on city council
NO 29%

SAN JOAQUIN, CA -- Allow for a third term for Board of Supervisors
YES 41%

SANTA ANA, CA -- Place 8-year term limits on city mayor
NO 23%

THOUSAND OAKS, CA -- Places term limits on the city council
NO 22%

TINLEY PARK, IL -- Advisory Measure to term limit village board
NO 28%

Eleven more USTL Pledge signers headed to Congress!

Eleven candidates for Congress who pledged, if elected, to cosponsor and vote for congressional term limits of three two-year terms for U.S. House members, two six-year terms for U.S. Senate members, won their contests on Nov. 6. Here are the 11 victorious signatories of the U.S. Term Limits Pledge:

Matt Salmon. The former three-term congressmen, who stepped down in 2000 to honor his term limit pledge, now returns to the House as representative of Arizona's fifth district. Taxpayer watchdog groups gave him high marks during his first stint in Congress.

Thomas Massie. The former judge-executive of Lewis County, Massie will serve Kentucky's fourth congressional district. "Our founding fathers never envisioned the out of-touch career politicians of today," he says, "or the extent to which incumbents would use the influence of their positions to remain in office."

Kerry Bentvolio. A design engineer, teacher, farmer and military veteran, Bentvolio offers himself, in the words of one campaign ad, as "a citizen statesman with a soldier's honor who, like most Americans, is tired of what we've been getting from Washington and is determined to rein in the deficit spending, balance the budget, and get America back to work." He will represent Michigan's eleventh congressional district.

Ann Wagner. Wagner will represent Missouri's second congressional district. She is a former chairwoman of the Missouri GOP and has served as ambassador to Luxembourg.

Richard Lane Hudson. Hudson, a speaker at the 2012 Republican convention, is a marketer who has served as a congressional chief of staff. He will represent North Carolina's eighth congressional district. He won a five-way nomination contest in which three of the five GOP aspirants were signers of the USTL Term Limit Amendment Pledge.

Robert Pittenger. A real estate investor and former state senator, Pittenger will represent North Carolina's ninth congressional district.

Debra Fischer. Cattle rancher and state legislator Fischer defeated former governor, former U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Bob Kerry to win the Nebraska U.S. Senate race. In its endorsement, the Omaha World-Herald declared that she had had no trouble getting up to speed as a state lawmaker. "In this era of term limits, she arrived in Lincoln with a solid understanding of the Legislature and its ways...." (Unlike politicians who insist that they need several years to get up to speed.)

Markwayne Mullin. Mullin earned the endorsement of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, who once served in the second-district congressional seat in Oklahoma that Mullin will be taking over. "Markwayne is committed to being a citizen legislator, not a career politician," Coburn said. The bio page at Mullin's campaign web site declares that he is "A rancher. A businessman. Not a politician!"

Beto O'Rourke. O'Rourke believes that most congressmen "are career politicians who are more concerned with the next election cycle than in making these tough decisions. They put personal considerations, party loyalty and payback to lobbyists and big donors before principle." He will represent Texas's 16th congressional district.

Ted Cruz. Tea-Party-backed Ted Cruz cruised to victory in Texas's U.S. Senate race, winning 57% to 41% after having beaten establishment favorite Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the GOP primary. On Fox News, Cruz declared that he had "no interest in being in office for decades. I strongly support term limits. And in fact I have committed to cosponsor a constitutional amendment to limit every member of the U.S. Senate to two terms, every member of the House to three terms.

Mick Mulvaney. A freshman in the House, Mulvaney will return to Congress for a second term representing South Carolina's fifth district. In a page about term limits at his campaign site, the congressman says he has changed his mind about term limits while in office. Now, "having seen government up close, I have learned my lesson. I support term limits."

Their victories follow twelve USTL Pledge signers who won in 2010, including Dave Schweikert (AZ-5), David Rivera (FL-25), Michael Pompeo (KS-4), John Sullivan (OK-1), Frank Lucas (OK-3), Tom Coburn (OK-SEN), Tim Scott (SC-1), Jeff Duncan (SC-3), Mick Mulvaney (SC-5) and Ralph Hall (TX-4), Joe Walsh (IL-8) and Rocky Raczkowski (MI-9).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey DC!

I am still working on my Election 2012 roundup. In the meantime, enjoy this from U.S. Term Limits friend and supporter Leigh Coburn:

"If you start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage, hang a banana on a string from the top and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray all the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while another monkey makes an attempt with same result ... all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put the cold water away.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, all of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment -- with enthusiasm, because he is now part of the "team."

Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by the fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.

Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

Finally, having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.

Why, you ask? Because in their minds...that is the way it has always been!

This, my friends, is how Congress operates... and this is why, from time to time: ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Incumbents Ribble, Mulvaney join term limits team

Over the past year, the mailbox at the U.S. Term Limits offices in Fairfax, Va., has been filling up with signed pledges (over 188 so far) from Congressional candidates that promise to cosponsor and vote for 3/2 term limits bills like those introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Rep. David Schweichert of Arizona.

But over the last week or so we've been pleased -- maybe a bit surprised -- to find written commitments from a couple of incumbents.

The first arrived from Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina's 5th Congressional District, a signed U.S. Term Limits pledge. Interestingly, Rep. Mulvaney didn't support term limits until he was elected, an unusual phenomenon. As the second-term Congressman notes on his website, "Before I got into government I opposed term limits ... Having seen government up close, I have learned my lesson. I support term limits."

Welcome aboard!

Then we received a letter from Wisconsin's Rep. Reid Ribble, 8th District, in which he pledges support for 3/2 term limits legislation and offers an idea for getting it done.

"As you are aware, I am a firm believer in term limits for Congress. I believe many of the systemic problems that our government faces would be reduced or eliminated if politicians did not make their time in Congress a career."

Rep. Ribble notes that the big hurdle is getting Congress members to term limit themselves, so he suggests that a grandfather clause be added to get it through Congress. If this is enacted, he writes, "Over time, serving in Congress will again be a privilege, not  a career, similar to the way the Founding Fathers originally intended."

Mulvaney and Ribble join a growing minority of incumbents on the Hill taking action on this issue. After November, as our stack of pledges indicate, there will be a lot more.

 (Top left, Rep. Reid Ribble's term limits letter; Right, Rep. Mick Mulvaney)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Term limits ad propels veterinarian past veteran Florida Congressman

Yet another political newcomer has left a professional politician in the dust -- and he used a hilarious term limits ad to do it.

Rep. Cliff Stearns of North Central Florida's 3rd District, which includes Gainesville, was a big spending Republican with a social conservative bent. His 24-year spending record proved to be his weak spot after large animal doctor Ted Yoho highlighted it in the best TV ad so far in the 2012 election season.

The ad features WWE wrestler Dustin (Rhodes) Runnels and shows professional politicians in suits eating from a pigs' trough and throwing mud at one another. At the end, Yoho pledges to serve eight years and come home.

Stearns had been endorsed by Republican bigwigs including Rep. Paul Ryan. Yet Yoho, who raised very little money, unexpectedly won the election by about 800 votes.

Yoho will face Democrat J.R. Gaillot in the general election, but the seat is considered safely Republican. It looks like another term limits supporter is going to Washington.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cruz win in Texas another leap ahead for Congressional term limits

By the end of the campaign, it appeared Congressional term limits would be the winner regardless of whether Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst or Ted Cruz won the GOP nomination for Texas' U.S. Senate seat last night.

After all, after Ted Cruz signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge to cosponsor and vote for 3/2 term limits legislation if elected, Dewhurst did the same. They are two of the 187 Congressional candidates to do so in the 2012 election cycle.

But since then, Cruz has been broadcasting his support for term limits and even mentioning the U.S. Term Limits pledge on national television. Dewhurst, on the other hand, started distancing himself from his pledge -- and victory. Less than three weeks later Dewhurst was proposing a package of election reforms that directly contradicted the pledge he had signed.

It is easy to support term limits as a challenger and difficult as an incumbent, with both party leadership and your own personal self-interest pressuring you to chuck your promise. Under these circumstances, the enthusiasm for Congressional term limits demonstrated by Cruz suggests that Sens. Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Tom Coburn and the other term limits stalwarts in the U.S. Senate have won another important new ally and cosponsor.

Sen. DeMint's term limits amendment bill, SJR 11, would require a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate, and ratification by 38 states in order to become part of the Constitution. For more information on the pledge, including a list of signers, see here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Michigan House veteran losing ground to term limits crusader Jack Hoogendyk

Wow. Yet another term limits supporter is closing in on a establishment veteran in a GOP primary. In Michigan's 6th House district, Jack Hoogendyk is seen as a contender against 25-year incumbent Fred Upton.

As in the other matchups -- Massie in Kentucky, Mourdock in Indiana -- the challenger comes armed with a signed U.S. Term Limits Congressional pledge and the incumbent awkwardly tries to defend his long tenure during which government spending and debt ballooned.

Upton is a classic foil. As illustrated in a famous Cato Institute study, Republicans tend to arrive in Washington and more or less live up to their fiscal conservative rhetoric -- for a while. But after 6, 7, 8 years their spending ramps up and soon they are no longer distinguishable from the veteran spenders.

Indeed, Upton received all As and Bs from the National Taxpayers Union during his first decade in Washington. But over his second decade he received mostly Cs, even a C-.  Like so many Republican candidates before him Fred came to Washington to cut government and eventually decided that the federal government should be in charge of everything from the weather, to Iraqi road maintenance, to kids video games. He has become part of the problem.

Like all longtime incumbents, he announces his reelection campaign and his coffers fill up automatically, as nearly all PAC contributions go to incumbents who have proven themselves as reliable spenders. In the first quarter, Upton raised nearly $1 million with big checks from the very firms he oversees as chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Entergy, Southern Company, Murray Energy, Duke Energy, Nuclear Energy Institute, etc. Of course, what would you expect? That's how the system works.

In the other corner we have Jack Hoogendyk. A tea partier and a member of the Campaign for Liberty, Hoogendyk focuses on spending and debt and has pointed to Rand Paul's proposed budget as an outline to follow to get spending under control. As a USTL pledge signer, he has committed himself to, if elected, cosponsor and vote for a 3/2 Congressional term limits amendment such as that introduced by Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona.

The Schweikert bill -- the house companion of Jim Demint's Senate bill -- is the first serious bill since the 1990s with co-sponsorship in both houses of the Congress. So far, there are about 10 cosponsors each in both the House and the Senate.

Rep. Fred Upton is not one of them. But Indiana Republicans have the opportunity to nominate someone who will be.

(Pictures: At top left , Rep. Fred Upton and challenger Jack Hoogendyk debate; At bottom right, GOP leadership enforcers keep Upton on track: Spend, spend, spend...)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Texas U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz on the U.S. Term Limits Pledge

"I have no interest in being in office for decades. I strongly support term limits. And in fact I have committed to cosponsor a constitutional amendment to limit every member of the U.S. Senate to two terms, every member of the House to three terms. That fight being led right now by Jim Demint ... Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey and Tom Coburn ... they need reinforcements." -- Texas U.S. Senate Candidate Ted Cruz on the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge during a Fox News interview on May 31. Cruz is one of 176 Congressional candidates to sign the pledge so far.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Kentucky, another primary win for term limits

Don't look now, but term limits have scored another win in this primary cycle. Following the historic upset in Indiana, Kentucky also has nominated a term limits warrior for a Congressional seat. On Tuesday, political newcomer Thomas Massie beat out a group of establishment Republicans to win his party's nomination for the open 4th District House seat.

Massie is a signatory of the U.S. Term Limits Congressional Pledge, in which he has committed to cosponsor and vote for a Congressional term limits amendment along the lines of that proposed in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the House by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ).

Massie ran as a libertarian reformer in the mold of Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul, who endorsed him. The party establishment, still unable to fathom Sen. Paul's success, is missing the ascent of Massie as well. Massie's chief opponent, Alecia Webb-Edgington, told a Kentucky Lincoln Day Dinner in 2010 that "We don't need any more socialists, communists or libertarians in the Republican Party." The party hacks at that meeting clapped, but Republican voters ignored them and nominated Massie anyway.

Massie is one of 173 Congressional candidates -- so far -- who have signed the USTL pledge. The media hasn't picked up on this story yet, but term limits are back on the national stage.

(Pictured: Congressional candidate Thomas Massie with Sen. Rand Paul)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Indiana Senate upset a big victory for term limits

USTL President Philip Blumel with Richard Mourdock in IN
The May 8 victory of Richard Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary for U.S. Senate is being cast as a victory of the tea party over the establishment. Indeed it was.

But it was something else too: another step down the path to achieving Congressional term limits.

Mourdock, it turns out, is one of the 167 Congressional candidates -- so far -- who have signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge to, if elected, cosponsor and vote for a Congressional term limits amendment. He is an explicit supporter of Sen. Jim DeMint's Congressional term limits amendment bill, SJR 11, which Mourdock said he plans to cosponsor.
Sen. Richard Lugar

For this reason, I spent a couple of days on the road with Mourdock in the final week of the primary campaign. In joint appearances across the state, I told the term limits story and announced the endorsement Mourdock received from the Term Limits America PAC.

In dissecting Mourdock's victory, pundits are pointing to a gaggle of issues directly related to term limits as the decisive factor in the last minute surge of support for Mourdock.

Mourdock's opponent, the 36-year incumbent Senator Richard Lugar, is 80 years old, has not lived in Indiana for years and has not faced an opponent in 12 years -- or a meaningful one for much longer. He was a respected figure in the bipartisan spending and foreign policy consensus of the last generation and was seen as out of touch with the new energetic breed of activist-candidates fueled by what they see as a looming debt crisis. In a February "Sense of the Senate" vote on Congressional term limits, Sen. Lugar voted 'no.'

Mourdock, on the other hand, is 60 years old and as Indiana's state treasurer had sued the Obama administration over its bailout and extra-legal reorganization of Chrysler. He had self-limited his terms as a county commissioner earlier in his career and has done so again for the U.S. Senate, promising to serve just two terms. Mourdock also had a 30-year career as a geologist and businessman and can claim to offer some real world experience to the Senate.

There is a changing of the guard in the U.S. Senate. The newcomers -- Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, JimDemint, Tom Coburn and others -- are on board with term limits, while the dinosaurs they are replacing are the ones who stood in term limits way.

Hopefully after November we can add Richard Mourdock to that list.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chuck Woolery exposes California Prop 28 scam

Game show host Chuck Woolery has posted a new video taking on California's Proposition 28, the June 5 referendum to weaken legislative term limits in that state.

The ballot language of the referendum actually implies the measure would strengthen or "reduce" legislative terms but, as Woolery points out, this is a lie. The measure in fact would increase the time a legislator can serve in the Assembly by 100% and in the Senate by 50%. Some reduction!

Having tried twice to convince voters to kill the term limits, getting more tricky with their presentation each time, the politicians believe they have finally found the secret language to sneak this past California voters. Let's prove them wrong on June 5.

Please forward this link to every California voter you know!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Florida officially calls for term limits on U.S. Congress!

The Florida legislature today officially called on the U.S. Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment limiting Congressional terms in office.

The resolution, passed by acclamation in both houses of the Florida legislature, will be sent to the president of the United States, Speaker of the U.S. House, president of the U.S. Senate and each member of the Florida Congressional delegation.

Florida is the first state to take this step, but it will not be the last. With term limits polling at all-time highs and the Congress at record lows, pressure is building around the nation for Congress to take action.

Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. David Schweikert have introduced a constitutional amendment (SJR 11 and HJR 71, respectively) limiting congressional terms in the Senate and House. While the Florida action does not specifically mention any specific legislative proposal, they are the first state to go on record in the past decade supporting a congressional term limitation constitutional amendment. Voters overwhelmingly supported Florida’s state constitutional limits on state legislators in 1992 with 77 percent support. Polling from Quinnipiac University in 2009 suggests 82 percent of Floridians continue to support term limits on public officials.

Nationally, the support for term limits remains strong with 78 percent of Americans supporting congressional term limits according to a September 2010 poll conducted for FoxNews by Public Opinion Dynamics. Support is strong across partisan lines with 84 percent of Republicans favoring the idea while 74 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents also support limiting congressional terms.

Passage of the term limits constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and ratification by three-quarters (38) of the states in order to become part of the Constitution. The states are the easy part. The trick is getting through the U.S. Congress and this official call from a important state like Florida is a big help.

The Florida resolution was introduced by State Rep. Matt Caldwell (HM83) in the Florida House and Sen. Joe Negron (SM672) in the Senate.

"The evidence is in. Term limits work,” said Rep. Matt Caldwell of Lehigh Acres. "New York, Illinois and Florida have all been faced with tough decisions on how to balance their state budgets over the last few years. Only one of these states has term limits and only one of these states has cut their budgets to match their revenues and refused to raise taxes."

"Congress is on a collision course with federal bankruptcy and our last, best hope is to bring serious and permanent change to Washington, D.C.," he said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vote NO on Prop. 28, California's anti-term limits SCAM

In 1990, California voters passed term limits on their legislators. As in other states, California politicians have been trying to get rid of them ever since.

But in California, their attempts are grander because the prize is bigger: California has the highest-paid legislature and being a legislator is a full-time, year-round job. Plus, it is a large, wealthy state with out-sized special interests that spend freely to achieve their goals and share their largess with the politicians that serve them. The system is tailor-made for ambitious political careerists, except for those pesky term limits!

In the first attempt to kill term limits in 2002, the ballot measure was pretty straight-forward and the voters squashed it. The politicians and lobbyists learned their lesson – voters love term limits! -- and in 2008 came up with a deceptive ballot measure and spent $18 million to promote it. But the voters saw through the ruse and squashed it again.

Now, on the June 2012 ballot, politicians are back with an initiative so deceptive that many – I fear most – Californians will vote YES, believing that the initiative actually strengthens California term limits. It doesn’t.

The scam lies in the ballot title:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Reduces total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Allows 12 years' service in one house. Applies only to legislators first elected after measure is passed. Fiscal Impact: No direct fiscal effect on state or local governments.

Clearly, Proposition 28 is designed to trick voters into thinking it strengthens terms limits when it does the exact opposite. We have to get the word out quick!

Here’s what you need to know about this scam initiative:

1) Proposition 28 allows politicians to be in the California State Assembly for 12 years -- not the 6-year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the state assembly will actually have THEIR TIME IN OFFICE DOUBLED -- NOT REDUCED!

2) Proposition 28 also allows politicians to be in the California State Senate for 12 years - not the 8-year maximum permitted under current law. That means members of the State Senate will actually have THEIR TIME IN OFFICE INCREASED BY 50% -- NOT REDUCED.

3) Sure, the overall service in the legislature might be, ahem, ‘reduced’ for a handful of house-jumping politicians by two years, about 8% historically by our count. But so what? Jumping from one house to the other is not automatic like running for one’s own seat. The politician has to win a competitive open seat election in a differently configured district, often against another term-limited politician. This is exactly what the politicians are desperately trying to avoid. With this amendment, over 80% of politicians will have their terms lengthened, not shortened. That is exactly what the politicians are after.

4) Proposition 28's top backer is corrupt developer Ed Roski Jr. who sought a special exemption from environmental regulations by the legislature -- at the exact same time he was paying to qualify this initiative -- so that he could make millions by building a sports stadium. See the full story here.

5) In 2008, one reason the anti-term limits initiative failed because the terms limits were weakened for current incumbents, which voters correctly saw as a egregious conflict of interest. In this scam initiative, politicians claim the new, weaker limits apply only to newly elected legislators. This is perhaps the most insidious aspect of the scam. It would create two classes of legislators with different term limits. They know this will not stand up in court. We can expect an immediate challenge by incumbents and the incumbent politicians expect to win in the court what they can't win honestly at the ballot box, weaker term limits.

Friends, this is an elaborate and insidious scam. Please send a link to this article as well as the official anti-Prop28 site to every Californian you know. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, everywhere.

The politicians can’t win if the people get the truth in time. It is up to us to see they do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Time to hit RESTART on the Congressional political machine!

With term limits polling at all-time highs and Congress at its all-time lows, the environment appeared ripe for another push at Congressional term limits. Then, in floating new amendment bills real leadership appeared in Congress, with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) introducing his 'Term Limits for All' constitutional amendment bill in the U.S. Senate and Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introducing its companion in the House. A handful of cosponsors jumped on board and more are on the way due to U.S. Term Limits Congressional term limits pledge, which over 121 Congressional candidates have signed so far.

Friends, this is working!

But it is also not enough. Today a major national project is being launched to engage the public and push more Congress members into sponsoring the term limits bills.

It is called Restart Congress. Click here and press the Restart button to take the first step in rebooting the corrupted political machine in Washington. Sign up and send the link around to everyone you know.

You'll be surprised to see who the public face on this project is. And he is not a just a face, this gentleman has had a successful career in television and this is a labor of love, not a new job.

Go on, hit Restart right now.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Miami citizens take matters in their own hands

The voters of Miami had had enough. In March 2011, they threw out a rapacious and incompetent mayor via a lopsided recall election and called for real reform of the county commission including 8-year term limits.

The commissioners trembled in light of the 88 percent vote to fire Mayor Carlos Alvarez. We hear you loud and clear, they said. Real reform is indeed needed. And then they put a 12-year term limits proposal on a special May 24, 2011, ballot.

It didn't work. The reformers opposed the proposal and the voters shot it down. When the politicians initially tried to claim the voters had rejected term limits, the clamor grew louder. No one believed it. Like everywhere else, 12-year term limits are just a ploy by politicians to avoid the shorter limits that the people demand.

OK, OK, they said. We hear you now, 8-year term limits it is. No problem. And the commission put genuine 8-year term limits on the ballot for voter approval, but this time it was linked to a huge pay raise from $6,000 to over $92,000 a year. The term limits would go into effect in eight years; the salary increase was immediate.

Again the voters scorned them, rejecting the scam initiative 46 to 56 percent on Jan. 31.

Now the reformers are taking matters in their own hands, starting a citizens initiative to put genuine 8-year term limits on the ballot themselves under the auspices of the Miami Voice political committee. It won't be easy, as access to the ballot will require 120,000 valid signatures.

Maybe commissioners will step up and put the standalone 8-year language on the ballot. Two are saying they aim to do just that. I'll believe it when I see it.

U.S. Senate votes down DeMint term limits resolution 24-75

It was a clear defeat, and a predictable one, but the fact the vote was held at all was a clear victory in bringing this issue back to the fore.

Recent uproar about insider trading by Congress members and their staffs led to a vote on the so-called STOCK Act to explicitly prohibit such activity. The STOCK Act easily passed the Senate and a House version passed soon after. But the attention given to Congressional soft corruption invited amendments to deal with more fundamental issues such as earmarking and, yes, Congressional term limits.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), chief sponsor of the Congressional term limits amendment bill, used this opportunity to add a "Sense of the Senate" amendment calling for a vote on whether Congressional terms should be limited. The amendment failed 24-75 on Feb. 2.

Check to see how your Senator voted here.

The breakdown of the votes is interesting. Note that three-quarters of the Senate opposes term limits. This is a near mirror image of the public, three-quarters (or more) of which support term limits in polls and at ballot boxes. This clearly shows how opposite the interests of incumbent politicians as a class are from the electorate. It is this class interest that makes institutional protections of voters such as term limits so important.

Currently, U.S. Term Limits is approaching all the YEA voters and urging them to walk the talk. Only about a third of those who voted for DeMint's Sense of the Senate resolution are cosponsors of his Term Limits for All amendment bill.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. But with polling on term limits at all-time highs, term limits bills in both Houses of Congress, 99 signatories on the USTL Congressional term limits pledge, a vote on the Senate Floor and even a rival bill being floated to sabotage term limits in the House, you can see things are moving on this issue.

If you haven't yet, be sure to sign the USTL online petition calling for Congressional term limits here. Let Congress know how you would have voted on that Senate resolution!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How will term limits fare in the upcoming presidential election?

While term limits have to be by the Congress, such is a difficult task and presidential sponsorship
-- or opposition – could be a decisive factor. The current president is a foe of the reform, but what of his potential successors?

Newt Gingrich – While Gingrich famously used the popular reform to win a House Republican majority in 1994, he played the central role in derailing them once in power. Today, he openly opposes them. See my full blog post on Newt here.

Mitt Romney – The former Massachusetts governor of Congressional term limits. To date, he has not taken any specific action on their behalf, but if the issue came to a vote during his presidency, one would expect he would at least aid the effort rhetorically.

“I would love to see term limits for congressmen and senators,” the former Massachusetts governor said earlier this month. “We have one for the president. It’s a good idea.”

Ron Paul – Ron Paul has always spoke positively about term limits and, as he points out, has voted for them at every opportunity. In fact, he was a pioneer on the issue, submitting a Congressional term limits bill in the 1980s prior to the rise of the modern term limits movement in the early 1990s. Today, however, the issue has taken a back seat. Rep. Paul is not a cosponsor of Rep. David Schweikert’s term limits amendment currently bill in the House. See my full blog post on Ron Paul here.

Rick Santorum – I had the opportunity to ask Rick Santorum about Congressional term limits at the Florida Republican Party straw poll and debate in Orlando last September. His face lit up. He said, paraphrasing, that “I was the only person on that stage tonight that can say he has actually imposed term limits,” referring to his efforts in his first term to impose 6-year term limits on Senate committee chairs.

He continues to boast about this. In January, he told CNN that “I was a big reformer in the House and the Senate… what we did in the Senate with just reforming the Senate itself and putting term limits in place. I mean, term limits is a big reform."

Gary Johnson – It is worth mentioning former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Although he has dropped out of the Republican primary race, he is likely to be the nominee of the Libertarian Party and hence may appear on most or all the state ballots in the general election. Johnson is a vocal proponent of Congressional term limits and the only candidate to sign (when he was still running as a Republican) the U.S. Term Limits Presidential Pledge. This pledge commits the signer to actively pursue the issue as president.

While a position on term limits is certainly not the sole criterion in choosing a president, it nonetheless should be part of the mix. With amendment bills in both houses and a pledge and other projects under way to advance them, the issue is likely to hit big during the next administration. Keep that in mind at the ballot box.