Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Here's How Unprecedented Carly Fiorina's Nomination Would Be

| Wed Apr. 27, 2016 4:48 PM EDT

Ted Cruz may be mathematically eliminated from clinching the Republican presidential nomination before the convention, but that didn't stop the Texas senator from announcing a running mate on Wednesday: Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race after the New Hampshire primary and previously lost a US Senate race in California, is a notable pick not just because she is a woman, or because she previously criticized Cruz for saying "whatever he needs to say to get elected," but because of her past experience—she would be the first vice president in 76 years to have ascended to the post without previously holding elected office.

The last time a major party picked a vice presidential nominee without legislative or gubernatorial experience was in 1972, when Democrat George McGovern chose Sargent Shriver, who had previously run the Peace Corps and worked on President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty." But you have to put an asterisk next to that, since Shriver was chosen only after McGovern's original running mate, Sen. Thomas Eagleton, resigned amid reports about his previous mental health treatments. Four years earlier, Alabama Gov. George Wallace selected as his running mate Air Force General Curtis LeMay, but Wallace, a longtime Democrat, had chosen to run (and lose) under the American Independent Party.

To find a running mate with no experience in elected office who actually won, you have to go back to 1940, when Franklin D. Roosevelt named Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace as his second vice president, following eight years of John Nance Garner. Prior to that, Calvin Coolidge tapped Charles Dawes, President Warren Harding's budget director, to be on his victorious ticket in 1924. Dawes had lost a Senate race 23 years earlier and written a hit song in the interim, before being dragged into the executive branch. Dawes himself seemed to recognize his lack of qualifications. "I don't know anything about politics," he said after being selected as Coolidge's running mate. "I thought I knew something about politics once. I was taken up on the top of a 20-story building and showed the promised land—and then I was kicked off."

But okay, both of those vice presidents had some experience in the executive branch. The last true outsider to win was in the 19th century. Prior to becoming James A. Garfield's running mate in 1880, Chester A. Arthur had no political experience other than stints as port collector of New York City and chairman of the state Republican Party. In a nice bit of symmetry with Cruz's campaign, Arthur's future presidential campaign was marred by allegations that he was ineligible because he was born in Canada.

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This Guy Had the Worst Idea for How to Spend $13 Million

| Wed Apr. 27, 2016 9:26 AM EDT

State Sen. Jamie Raskin won Tuesday's Democratic primary in Maryland's eighth congressional district. But the bigger story is who lost—that would be David Trone, a wine retailer who spent $12.7 million of his own money in the hopes of winning the seat.

Trone, running in a district that includes the affluent Washington, DC, suburbs in Montgomery County, set a record for most money spent by a self-funding congressional candidate to win a House seat. (The previous record was $7.8 million, and that included both a primary and a general election; as of early April, Raskin's campaign had spent a little more than $1 million.)

The irony is that Trone was running as a campaign finance crusader. Much like Donald Trump, who cites his $35 million investment in his campaign as proof he can't be bought, Trone believed his enormous personal wealth would insulate him from charges of corruption. "I certainly could have raised enough money to fund a competitive campaign," he said in a full-page Washington Post ad two weeks ago, when he had only spent a pedestrian $9.1 million. "But the PACs, lobbyists and big dollar donors who give money would expect special attention. No matter how well-intentioned, those contributions and the candidates who take them are part of the reason Washington is broken."

That message carried him to the brink of success—or maybe it was just the deluge ads—but in the end, money alone didn't cut it. Trone won by large margins in the two counties that comprise a smaller portion of the district, but Raskin held a sizable edge in his home county, Montgomery. Trone's final receipt: a little more than $400 per vote.

The John Kasich-Ted Cruz Alliance Is Already Unraveling

| Mon Apr. 25, 2016 11:51 AM EDT

On Sunday night, it finally happened. Just before 11 p.m., the campaigns of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz released matching statements promising to work together to stop Donald Trump from clinching the Republican nomination before the convention. The agreement they struck was that Kasich would stop campaigning in his neighboring state of Indiana, to give Cruz a chance to catch Trump there, and Cruz would stop campaigning in his neighboring state of New Mexico, as well as Oregon, in the hopes of boosting Kasich there. Anti-Trump voices had been calling for candidates to work together for months (Cruz trampled over Marco Rubio's frantic appeal for help in Florida); the alliance was a sign that reality had set in.

But one thing missing from the agreement was any indication that Kasich and Cruz would actually tell their voters in Indiana, New Mexico, or Oregon, to support the other guy. And sure enough, while eating at a diner in Philadelphia on Monday morning, Kasich decided to pour water on the whole plan. Would the governor, a reporter asked, tell his supporters in Indiana to vote for Cruz? No, Kasich said. "I've never told them not to vote for me; they ought to vote for me." He explained that the deal had nothing to do with strategic voting—it was only about whether to campaign or not campaign. Sounds like a strong alliance!

This is the most passive-aggressive thing Kasich has done since the last time someone tried to make a deal with him:

A Frame-by-Frame Analysis of the Worst Campaign Ad of 2016

| Fri Apr. 22, 2016 1:38 PM EDT
Sad!

Mike Pape is a Republican running for Congress in Kentucky's first district. On Wednesday, he released the worst ad of the 2016 campaign. For similar reasons, it might also be the best ad of the 2016 campaign.

Pape's prospective district gave a combined 75 percent of the vote to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and Pape seems to have taken that message to heart. The ad features three men and one very bad mustache cutting through the US border fence in order to get to America, so they can stop Trump, Cruz, and Pape from building the wall and repealing Obamacare. Because you can't cut down a wall with a wire-cutter, my friend.

Let's break it down:

0:00

This is not what the border looks like. Speaking of borders! Kentucky's first district includes the famous Kentucky Bend, which was separated from the rest of the state by a surveying error and is accessible only by driving through Tennessee. This is what happens when you neglect your borders, folks.

0:03

The guy on the right has a flashlight. Smart. But why does the guy in the middle have a lantern? Did they rob a stagecoach?

0:03

These guys have been talking about Republican politics for hours, maybe days, and no one thought to ask the guy on the left why his shirt said "Stop Pape" until now.

0:12

You never know when you'll need duct tape. For instance, if the adhesive on your mustache starts to wear off.

0:20

Let's not overstate the quality of the acting in this production, but this moment represents a rare bright moment. We see a look of genuine surprise when this man is told that Pape will help Cruz repeal Obamacare. (We've previously been told he'll help Trump build the wall, which is confusing; are Cruz and Trump going to share the presidency?) Perhaps, in the hopes of eliciting a more authentic expression during filming, the director told the actor beforehand that Pape was for single-payer. This calls to mind the story about why Alan Rickman looked so surprised at the end of Die Hard.

The ad has subtitles throughout, but "vámonos" is the only Spanish word that is ever translated to English.

0:24

So at the end of the ad, the camera pulls back to reveal that Mike Pape, candidate for Congress, has been right there all along, and continues to talk to the camera even as the ostensible Mexicans sneak into the country. It's tough to figure out who is worse at their jobs here. The tough-talking Pape turns his back on the border fence and lets people cut a hole in it. But the three migrants have explicitly come to the United States to stop Pape, only to walk right past him. You're all fired.

Trump's Delusional Plan to Win in November Isn't Even Original

| Fri Apr. 22, 2016 11:23 AM EDT

Donald Trump's political director told a room full of Republican bigwigs on Thursday that if the tower-dwelling steak magnate is the party's nominee for president, he will redraw the electoral map in November. Per the New York Times:

As the Republicans ate oysters in a dim, stuffy conference room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. [Rick] Wiley walked them through a slide show that predicted victory for Mr. Trump not just in swing states with large Hispanic populations like Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but in states that Republicans have not captured since the 1980s: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

This sounds crazy because it is, but it's not a kind of crazy that's unique to Trump. Republican nominees (or prospective nominees) always say this.

In a video for Republican donors in June 2008, John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, showed off a map highlighting states McCain had in the bag and states that might be in play. The list of states that were Republican locks included three that Barack Obama ultimately won: Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia. The list of states that McCain's campaign considered battlegrounds included California and Connecticut. Oh, and Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Okay, that was 2008. It was a long time ago. We didn't have self-driving cars or even face-swap back then. But in 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney again proposed to redraw the electoral map by flipping Midwestern states the party hadn't won since the Ronald Reagan era. His campaign spent much of the final week of the race in Pennsylvania. It considered Wisconsin the new Ohio. In October, Romney and his backers went on the air in Michigan and Minnesota.

Trump is out of step with his party's previous standard-bearers on many things, but when it comes to overstating his electoral chances in blue states, he talks a lot like the establishment.

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