Democrats Work to Defy History in Georgia Runoffs That Have Favored G.O.P.

first_imgBut those intimately involved in the two previous Senate showdowns say what happened before is not necessarily predictive of the future. Demographic and cultural change has led to rapid shifts in the state, and Democrats have made concerted efforts to energize and turn out their voters, work that paved the way for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s strong showing in the state.“Both times before, Republicans really turned out and the Democrats didn’t,” said Saxby Chambliss, the former Republican senator of Georgia who won a second term in a 2008 runoff weeks after Barack Obama won the presidency. “This time around, I’m not so sure that is going to be the case. I have told my Republican colleagues that Democrats are fired up going into the race, and with Biden winning Georgia, I assume that gives them momentum.” – Advertisement – In the runoff, held two days before Thanksgiving, almost one million fewer votes were cast than three weeks earlier and Mr. Fowler saw his initial lead vanish, losing to Mr. Coverdell by 16,000 votes — 50.6 percent to 49.6. It was a stinging defeat for Mr. Fowler but a welcome consolation prize for Republicans.“We were more successful in getting our people back than the other side was in getting their people back without a presidential race at the top of the ticket,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who was a consultant to Mr. Coverdell. But he cautioned that the dynamic could be vastly different this time around, given that Mr. Warnock, an African-American, is on the ballot.“Democrats have never had an African-American candidate to vote for at a time when control of the Senate is hanging in the balance,” he said. “The circumstances are clearly different. I don’t know if the outcome will be different.”Mr. Fowler agreed, noting that Black voters now make up a significantly larger share of Georgia’s electorate than they did when he ran.“Whether or not the Democrats can win this thing in the runoff, the demographics are much, much better now they were in 1992,” he said. “The numbers make it more likely than it would have been even six years ago. Either way, it is going to be whisper close.”Mr. Fowler said he shook off the loss fairly quickly, and in 1996, he became ambassador to Saudi Arabia, serving for five years until the election of George W. Bush. Both parties and their allied outside groups are already making huge investments in advertising and grass-roots efforts and a panoply of voter-stirring surrogates — perhaps including Mr. Biden and President Trump — will visit the state over the next two months in an intense effort to win. Vice President Mike Pence is making the trip next week. If Republicans can hold only one of the two seats, they will retain the Senate majority and control much of Mr. Biden’s agenda. If Democrats win both, they will gain a working majority in a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris empowered to break ties. The difference between a Republican-controlled Senate or a Democratic-run chamber is immense when it comes to what legislation would be considered and how nominations would be handled.“I can’t ever recall a time when the difference between a 50-50 Senate and a 51-49 Senate was so stark,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat.Mr. Perdue, like Mr. Fowler, finished first in his re-election bid, with a narrow lead over his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff. Ms. Loeffler, appointed last year to fill a vacancy, trailed her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Black minister.The twin runoffs amount to an extraordinary accident of timing that came about because Mr. Perdue’s regularly scheduled re-election race coincided with a special election to finish the term of former Senator Johnny Isakson, who retired in 2019 for health reasons, creating the opening Ms. Loeffler was tapped to temporarily fill.But the unusual runoff rules in Georgia — which require a candidate to gain a majority of the vote to win, and automatically prompt a second contest between the top two vote-getters if no one does — are very much by design. They grew out of efforts by some white Georgians in the 1960s to keep control of the state’s political apparatus after the Supreme Court struck down a system that gave sparsely populated, heavily white rural counties more voting weight than dense urban areas that had large numbers of Black voters.A federal study published in 2007 on the fight for voting rights described how segregationist state legislators then turned to runoffs, which many believed would reduce the likelihood that Black voters would unite behind one candidate to deliver a plurality victory while other candidates split the white vote. By requiring the winner to square off in a head-to-head race, backers of the plan were confident they could better control the outcomes. “Yes, I was disappointed, running six points ahead of the president and being the only state in the country that had this kind of crazy system,” said Mr. Fowler, now 80, looking back on a storied runoff election 28 years ago after Bill Clinton won the presidency.Now that same “crazy system” that overturned Mr. Fowler’s lead, defeating a popular member of Congress known for his folksy stories, has once again seized the attention of both parties. This time, the scenario is playing out in double: Not one but two incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, are facing runoffs to keep their seats. This time, the ramifications are even more consequential. The racist origins of the runoff have faded into the background over the years, and defenders argue that it is only fair to require a candidate to win at least half the state’s voters to be elected. “It was just another form of gerrymandering,” Mr. Fowler said.The special election offers a textbook example of why Republicans have wanted to retain the system. Mr. Warnock drew just under 33 percent of the vote, while Ms. Loeffler received just under 26 percent, and another Republican, Representative Doug Collins, captured just under 20 percent. With Mr. Collins now out of the picture, Ms. Loeffler has the potential to consolidate the Republican vote in a one-on-one contest.center_img Georgia’s runoffs, the vestige of segregationist efforts to dilute Black voting power, will determine control of the Senate in races to be decided on Jan. 5. In the past, such contests have heavily favored Republicans because of a drop-off among Democratic voters, particularly African-Americans, after the general election.- Advertisement – In 1992, Mr. Fowler, a former city councilman for Atlanta and congressman considered an up-and-coming force in the Senate, was seeking his second term. He had won in 1986 by surprising a Republican, Mack Mattingly, who had been swept in on Ronald Reagan’s coattails in 1980. Mr. Fowler’s opponent this time was Paul Coverdell, a Republican and a low-key Atlanta businessman, state legislator and ally of the elder George Bush, who had named him head of the Peace Corps.Mr. Clinton’s Southern roots helped him carry Georgia with 43 percent of the vote — the last Democrat to win Georgia before this year — while Mr. Fowler surpassed Mr. Coverdell with 49.2 percent, besting him by 35,000 votes. But under Georgia’s unique law, it was not enough.The runoff rapidly escalated into a bitter clash. As Mr. Clinton prepared to move into the White House, Republicans saw an opportunity to deliver him a quick blow by defeating Mr. Fowler. They pulled out the stops, pouring in money and sending Republican luminaries into Georgia by the planeload, including Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, who promised to turn over his Agriculture Committee seat to Mr. Coverdell if he won.Mr. Fowler drew his own big-name visitor when the president-elect popped over from Little Rock, Ark., for joint appearances in Albany and Macon, where he played the saxophone with a high school band. He and Mr. Fowler raised clasped hands to celebrate what they anticipated as a coming victory.But Mr. Fowler had problems. It was going to be hard to re-create the enthusiasm of the presidential election with the voting finished and Mr. Clinton victorious. Mr. Fowler was also facing backlash for his vote the year before to place Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Mr. Fowler remembered Justice Thomas, a Georgia native, had strong support from the state’s Black community, but was opposed by leading women’s groups because of his anti-abortion stance and accusations of sexual harassment. He said he believed that opposition cost him. “I’ve had a good, adventurous life,” he said.He said he had steered clear of politics over the years but was changing course in this election, relaying knowledge and ideas to Mr. Warnock and his campaign.“I have dusted off my campaign shoes,” Mr. Fowler said. “I think it is that important.” Updated Nov. 12, 2020, 7:30 p.m. ET WASHINGTON — A first-term senator in Georgia narrowly bested his opponent, outrunning his party’s standard-bearer only to face voters again a few weeks later under a quirky system that briefly made the state the center of the political universe after a hard-fought presidential election.The year was 1992, and Senator Wyche Fowler Jr., a Democrat, had amassed more votes than his Republican opponent on Election Day. But he lost his seat three weeks later.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

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Colorado illnesses may be linked to Texas peanut plant

first_imgFeb 16, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A news report over the weekend linked six Salmonella cases in Colorado to peanut butter made from peanuts produced by Peanut Corp. of America’s (PCA’s) plant in Plainview, Tex., but the natural-foods retail chain that made the peanut butter says tests have found no contamination in samples.The Associated Press (AP) reported Feb 14 that Colorado health officials linked the cases to the Plainview Peanut Co. in Texas, owned by PCA, which also owns the Blakely, Ga., peanut plant blamed for the current nationwide Salmonella outbreak.The AP said the six Colorado cases were traced to peanut butter from Vitamin Cottage Natural Foods, based in Lakewood, Colo. Vitamin Cottage recalled its fresh-ground peanut butter on Feb 2 because of a potential connection to Salmonella cases.But Kemper Isely, co-president of Vitamin Cottage, said today that testing by the company and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed no contamination in peanut butter samples.”No Salmonella has been found in any peanut butter tested so far,” Isely told CIDRAP News. “Both our company and the FDA tested numerous batches. The implication that our peanut butter caused the Salmonella [cases] is a bit premature.”Isely said that 6 of the 16 Coloradoans who have had Salmonella Typhimurium in the current outbreak had Vitamin Cottage peanut butter in their pantries. “We don’t know whether it would’ve been our peanuts” that caused the cases, he said. “There’s lots of places you can get Salmonella.”Vitamin Cottage made peanut butter by grinding roasted peanuts bought from the Texas plant, Isely said. He said the peanuts were roasted in that facility at 350 degrees and so should have been free of pathogens unless they became contaminated after the roasting process.The company voluntarily recalled its peanut butter as a precaution, Isely said. The firm’s recall notice said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) had reported three people who were infected with the national outbreak strain of Salmonella and who reported eating Vitamin Cottage peanut butter. The CDPHE noted the recall in a Feb 2 news release.The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) ordered PCA on Feb 12 to recall all products ever shipped from the Plainview plant. “The order was issued after dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers were found in a crawl space above a production area during an in-depth DSHS inspection,” the department said in a news release.State inspectors also found that the plant’s air-handling system was not completely sealed and was pulling debris from the infested crawl space into production areas of the plant, leading to adulteration of food products, the DSHS said.Last week, the president of a private laboratory told a congressional committee that his firm had found Salmonella in a product sample from the Plainview plant on Feb 8. Earlier, it was revealed that the Plainview facility had operated without a license or government inspections from 2005 until the current outbreak put PCA in the spotlight.Colorado, Texas, and FDA officials could not be reached for comment on the situation today. Most government offices were closed for the Presidents Day holiday.The Salmonella outbreak involves 636 cases in 44 states and one in Canada, according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The FDA’s recall database page says the outbreak has triggered 2,226 product recalls, though no national brands of peanut butter have been recalled.In other developments, PCA applied for bankruptcy protection on Feb 13, according to a Reuters report. Citing the devastating effects of the outbreak and recalls, the company filed for Chapter 7 protection, under which firms liquidate their assets to repay creditors rather than reorganize, the story said.Meanwhile, a survey by the Harvard School of Public Health found some gaps in the public’s understanding of the peanut product recalls.More than 90% of respondents were aware of the recalls, and 61% said they had taken one or more steps to reduce their risk of getting sick from contaminated peanut products, according to a Harvard news release. But among those aware of the recall, 25% mistakenly believed that major brands of peanut butter were involved.Also, while 70% knew that peanut butter crackers were recalled, fewer than half knew that several other peanut butter products, such as snack bars, cakes, and cookies, were recalled, the release states. The survey of a national random sample of 1,283 adults was conducted between Feb 4 and 8.See also: Feb 12 Texas news release about recall order to Plainview planthttp://www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/releases/20090212-sp.shtmCDC Salmonella outbreak pagehttp://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/update.htmlFDA product recall databasehttp://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfmFeb 13 Harvard news release on survey of outbreak awarenesslast_img read more

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IPE Views: Sometimes you can’t risk not re-risking

first_imgA significant interest rate fall. This may adversely increase the liabilities of schemes insufficiently hedged against interest rate risk.A substantial fall in equity markets. Likely to increase deficits of schemes with large equity exposures and minimal downside protection.Increase in market expectation of future inflation. A sharp increase may materially increase the value of scheme liabilities.Reaching a consensus to re-risk is a difficult journey, one beset with many awkward decisions. For instance, the trustee board may feel uncomfortable about buying in to a falling equity market and metaphorically ‘catching a falling knife’. Furthermore, the adverse market conditions that triggered re-risking may negatively impact the financial position of the sponsor and possibly the strength of the sponsor covenant.However, once an agreement to re-risk has been reached, trustees need to consider the practicalities of implementation carefully. This includes determining an appropriate level to which the scheme should be re-risked. For example, should the scheme be re-risked back to the allocation at the start of the journey plan, beyond this level or just back to the previous point of de-risking?Trustees also need to consider whether re-risking should be an automatic process delegated to their chosen adviser, or if they would prefer trustees, company representatives and advisers to review the position when a re-risking trigger is breached.With de-risking, there is usually a pre-defined agreement that, once funding level triggers have been breached, the asset allocation will be adjusted with a view to lowering the inherent level of risk being undertaken in the portfolio. By contrast, when a re-risking trigger has been breached, the process requires far more discussion and engagement from a wider range of stakeholders, not least the company sponsor. SEI’s Cyprian Njamma highlights some of the pitfalls for trustees during the re-risking process.Journey planning for a pension scheme involves balancing the risk taken in the pension scheme in accordance with the need to take risk. As a result, higher funding-level positions are usually accompanied by de-risking of the scheme’s portfolio to bank gains and protect the future funding level.In practice, this involves regular monitoring of the funding level, and where significant outperformance occurs relative to its expected path, the portfolio is ‘de-risked’ by reallocating a portion of growth assets such as equities to liability-matching assets – i.e. bonds and other liability-sensitive instruments. Funding-level outperformance usually leads to a lower deficit position and typically lower repair contributions required from the sponsor. For these reasons, de-risking has a feel-good factor to it.In contrast, re-risking naturally has anything but a feel-good factor to it. Why? Because it is only necessary to consider re-risking after an adverse market event has already hurt the funding level position of the scheme. Re-risking may be required where the funding level performs below journey plan expectations, and other options such as higher contributions and/or lengthening the journey plan have already been considered. Quite simply, to get back onto the ‘journey path’, higher returns would be required, which invariably entails assuming higher risk. As pension schemes have been made all too aware over the past decade, scenarios can arise that necessitate re-risking, and these include: Execution is keyBoth re-risking and de-risking are amongst the practical techniques trustees can employ to help manage funding volatility in line with the need to take risk along a recovery plan. And although re-risking may conceptually sit uncomfortably with trustees, occasions may arise that warrant its use. As such, it is advisable to incorporate re-risking along with the full range of de-risking and insurance-based de-risking options into a fully bespoke journey plan for pension schemes.Naturally, both re-risking and de-risking require regular monitoring of the funding level together with an ability to react to fast moving market changes. This is hugely challenging for many trustees who are constrained by a lack of resources, be that of their own time or expertise. Market conditions can change rapidly, requiring strategic changes in a far timelier manner than is possible through a quarterly decision-making process.Outsourced solutions such as fiduciary management –otherwise known as ‘implemented consulting’ or ‘delegated consulting’ – can help address these problems by effectively acting as an in-house manager and plugging any resource and knowledge gaps. This includes taking responsibility for continuously monitoring the funding level and de-risking or re-risking along the journey plan as opportunities arise. The beauty of this arrangement is that trustees retain strategic control of the scheme but have the comfort of knowing that day-to-day investment responsibilities are being undertaken on their behalf within clearly defined parameters.Cyprian Njamma is an asset and liability analyst at SEIThis article reflects the views of the individual author and not necessarily those of SEIlast_img read more

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Link with China expanding at USC

first_imgEvents focused on the relationship between the United States and China this week highlight the increasingly strong ties USC has forged with China.Clayton Dube, associate director of the USC U.S.-China Institute said he encourages students to be aware of the United States-China relationship because it will likely affect their personal and professional futures.“There are a lot of opportunities for students that choose to focus on China because there are more job prospects,” Dube said. “Student’s can’t escape being affected by the U.S.-China relationship. It is only going to become increasingly close, complex and important.”On Wednesday, the USC U.S.-China Institute hosted Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, an event that showcased Ezra Vogel, author and scholar of East Asia, as part of USC’s increased emphasis on China.Vogel summarized his 10-year study and book on Xiaoping’s leadership. Xiaoping held various political positions, primarily in the Communist Party of China, between 1929 and 1989. Xiaoping modernized the country by focusing his efforts on the improvement of education, science and technology, Vogel said.Though Xiaoping died in 1997, “he had more impact on the 21st century than any other leader,” Vogel said.Phillip Wilcox, a graduate student studying politics and international relations, said he appreciates all of the connections USC has with China and that he intends to take advantage of them.“There are so many resources at USC, especially the U.S.-China Institute that has events where they bring great people to speak,” Wilcox said. “It’s important to have a nuanced knowledge of China’s culture and history so we can understand their global outlook.”Dube said China is growing as an economic power and is becoming an integral part of American life. Through policies, such as free trade, citizens of both countries are being positively and negatively affected.“On one hand, [free trade] made it easier for consumers because we all benefit from low priced goods,” Dube said. “On the other hand the amount of U.S. manufacturers have decreased and energy is created less efficiently leading to more pollution.”The existing cultural exchange between the two countries can be seen on campus. Several schools within the university give students the opportunity to study in China and there are 2,515 students from China attending USC, according to Dube.In the 1970’s, interaction between the United States and China was preoccupied with geopolitical issues rather than economics and culture, Dube said.“Today’s relationship is multidimensional and much deeper than it was in the past,” Dube said. “When it was first formed, very few people were involved but now everyone is somehow touched by the connection.”Sarah Francis, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention, said China offers vast opportunities for USC students.“Any major can be applicable by going to China,” Francis said. “There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, but there is an invaluable experience in going there and learning firsthand.”Catherine Uong, a sophomore majoring in business administration and East Asian language and cultures, spent spring break 2011 in Shanghai as part of the Global Leadership Program, an organization in the USC Marshall School of Business that allows students to visit foreign countries.“China is becoming a superpower, so people are looking into that direction more and more and want to study or intern there,” Uong said. “It pushes students to have a more of an open mind and become global citizens rather than just American citizens.”last_img read more

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