The Smoke Eater For Feb. 7, 2020

Iowa be damned, Bloomberg's billions, and settle in for Super Tuesday.

Good day, this is The Smoke Eater for Friday, February 7, 2020, and it's not "fired," it's "laid off".

Quick Hit

* AP says, "Fuck It" * Bernie and Butters play games * New Hampshire wants ponies * Bloomberg's billions * Up in the down ballot * Hillary gonna Hillary * A personal note *

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Look At Me, I'm A Winner!

With 97 percent of the vote in Iowa, AP can't declare a winner in Iowa's Democratic caucuses due to a "tight margin between former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders and the irregularities in this year’s caucus process," according to Sally Buzbe, AP's senior VP an executive editor. DNC Chair Tom Perez has now called for a recanvasing of the vote to verify results, but it's unclear if one will happen. The decision rests with the state party apparatus, not the DNC.

Former South Bend Mayor, Indiana Pete Buggigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have both declared victory with 26.2 and 26.1 percent of the vote, respectively. They'll both get 11 delegates in what is effectively a tie. Last night Sanders blamed the state party, and said he wanted to "move on" from Iowa during a CNN town hall. Sanders also claimed he won the "popular vote" due to the overall number of first alignment voters (which literally means nothing; that's now how a proportional election system works, but whatever), thus following through on his campaign's January threat to game results in Iowa.

Last night Perez went on Rachel Maddow to explain the screw up(s), clarify his recanvasing call, and blame everything on Iowa and its ridiculous cattle call. The New York Times notes Perez has faced criticism by Bernie bros that this is all part of a baseless conspiracy to rob Sanders of his socialist utopia (again).

2020 News That Doesn't Involve Iowa

A new poll of New Hampshire voters shows Sanders and Buttigieg gaining more ground and running almost dead even at 24 and 23 percent, respectively. Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden fell, with Warren now at 13 percent, and Biden dramatically cratering to 11 percent. Dave Weigel writes that New Hampshire's Live Free And Fuck Off mentality could pose a problem for Buttigieg and Sanders now that voters perceive them as mainstream candidates. [Full Poll]

Andrew Yang's campaign fired a bunch of staffers after his (predictably) abysmal finish in Iowa on Monday. "How abysmal was it," you ask? He got 1 percent of the delegates, and threw a tantrum during a CNN town hall. I have photos of the three people who turned out at a satellite caucus in Des Moines for Patreon subscribers, including the moment Warren and Sanders supporters tried to court them after the first alignment.

Six women of color bailed on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Nevada team saying they felt marginalized, and were treated as tokens, Politico reports. The staffers claim that the campaign failed to reach out to the larger Latino community early and often. One of the women says she still plans to caucus for Warren on Feb. 22, but complains these issues aren't unique to Warren's Nevada campaign, saying, "Organizing culture needs to change because the fact is our well-being is more important than any election. I hope this starts a conversation that helps facilitate personal reflection about ways we can change campaign culture."

Last night Warren apologized and claimed responsibility, saying, "I also understand the long legacy of racism in this country and what it means and how it creates power dynamics and inequities that are toxic and dangerous." The story creates more clouds of uncertainty for Warren after her third place finish in Iowa. This morning Joan Walsh lamented how this may further obscure the fact that Warren crushed Joe Biden on Monday despite political wizards forecasting his first place finish.

OK, Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg is sinking shitloads of cash into California, assembling the biggest ground operation in the state's history (and spending as much too), according to the Sacramento Bee. The New York Times reports Bloomberg has been courting the super rich; encouraging them endorse his campaign and donate to the DNC, thus choking off donations to his opponents -- an influence peddling work around perfected during his 2005 mayoral run.

Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's endorsement of Bloomberg is likely to cause some head turning. A lifelong Republican, Spencer becomes the first former Trump official to endorse a Democrat in 2020. Spencer says, "This is not about a party. This is not about left and right. It’s about where can we find a solution to get the country working together and be unified, with an operable political system." Oh, Lord, Koom-bye-ya.

However, Bloomberg's billion dollar shine is rubbing off under the light. The Daily Beast reports Bloomberg is paying social media influencers to "Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better" for $150. Over at The Intercept, they're absolutely aghast at Bloomberg running social media ads asking how he should spend his money, and reporting that Bloomberg's campaign plagiarized parts of his plans on infrastructure, economic growth, LGBQT issues, women's health issues, affordable housing, and gun safety. The Bloomberg campaign defended itself against the allegations by saying the ripped-off literature was a result of their newsletter service's inability to include footnotes.

Down The Ballot Hole

Texas Democratic Party officials have warned the secretary of state that Super Tuesday election results won't be coming fast enough to satisfy news junkies because of the way state Senate districts have been arranged, the Texas Tribune reports. This is likely to cause talking heads to wring their undies and chug coffee late into the night as everyone waits to declare a winner in the Democratic primary.

Democratic aren't just dropping the ball at the state level, the national convention is already suffering from turmoil. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports staff shake ups, infighting, dirty dealing between top officials, and cash problems that are raising serious questions about this years nominating convention.

Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock had a private dinner with former President Barack Obama last night. The rumor mill is that Obama is asking the 2020 failure to reconsider a possible Senate run, though a spox says Bullock won't run.

Conservative groups appear to be behind a new PAC backing a Democratic senate candidate challenging Republican Sen. Thom Tillis. The running theory posits Erica Smith would be easier for Tillis to beat in a general election than Democratic state Sen. Cal Cunningham. Smith responded in a statement by saying, "When was the last time Thom Tillis was right about anything?"

South Carolina voter registration is up to almost 3.3 million ahead of the state's Feb. 29 primary. Political nerds expect this is because of an increase in polarization, population, and Democratic voters.

Remember Me?

Hillary Clinton went on Ellen to stoke simmering fires between her and Bernie Sanders. Thanks.

Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh ended his primary challenge to Donald Trump after finishing with 1.1 percent of the vote in Iowa. Walsh went on CNN and said, "this is one of those rare moments ... where and liberals Republicans and Democrats independents and moderates got to come together to stop [Trump]," adding that he would rather have, "a socialist in the White House than a dictator."

An audit shows Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley improperly used state resources immediately after being sworn in as attorney general in 2017 to inflate his political profile and challenge then-Sen. Claire McCaskill for the US Senate. Hawley denied any wrong doing and claimed the audit vindicates him, surprising nobody who's ever spent more than five minutes in Missouri.

One More Thing...

This entire week has been almost entirely devoted to 2020 stuff. This is partially a result of Iowa's caucus calamity, and my inability to sit still. I've been trying to be fair to all the candidates by calling out their bullshit. I will not peddle in rumors or conspiracies for expediency.

I'm always trying focus on the bigger picture with The Smoke Eater. I have no interest in the minutiae of distractions caused by an aimless and vindictive man-child or his minions like other outlets. No disrespect to them, but today's free market of ideas has shown shit rises to the top where it waits to be stirred.

There are more important stories that are getting lost as a result of the obsession with a political reality show. Some of the really important stories I've missed this week are the foreign policy/tech crises involving Huwaei, the corona virus, and escalating clashes between Russia, Syria and Turkey. These stories aren't lost to me, I intend to cover them more closely.

The Smoke Eater being a simple one-person operation: It's me with an old laptop, a cellphone, and a camera ...  and lots of cheap coffee. When I'm not getting up at 3 AM to start working on this, I'm working a bar gig for extra cash, seven days a week. I have maybe two months of runway left to keep this newsletter going and could really use your support and feedback.

OK, now here's a warm and fuzzy critter video! BUNNY & PUPPY!

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