NEWS FLASH: MSNBC engulfed in flames… fire marshal attributes inferno to dozens of leftist heads exploding simultaneously.
Norbert Hofer, the candidate for Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ), won 36.4 per cent of the vote, and will face an independent candidate in the final vote next month.
It was the Freedom Party’s best result in a national election and comes after a campaign that focused on the impact of the migrant crisis…
Exclusive Data Analysis: GOP Primary Turnout Up 8.7 Million Votes, More Than 60 Percent In 2016 Versus 2012 – Breitbart
Newly compiled data after the New York Republican primary shows that among the states that have voted so far in 2016, GOP primary and caucus turnout is up well more than 8 million votes and well more than 60 percent over 2012’s process.
Top GOP officials say that the intense interest in the GOP primary throughout the year so far only serves to benefit the Republican nominee in November, whoever it ends up being.
In total, so far, nationwide the GOP has seen an increase of 8,719,041 votes in 2016’s primaries, caucuses and conventions over 2012’s primaries, caucuses and conventions….
The Increasing Instability of Obamacare – National Review
United Healthcare’s announcement that it is pulling out of most of the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a.k.a. Obamacare – is one of many indications of the law’s continuing instability.
United made this decision for obvious reasons: It was losing too much money, with no prospect of a quick turnaround. The company reported that it lost $475 million on plans sold in the ACA’s exchanges in 2015 and expects to lose another $650 million in 2016…
Rape Trees, Dead Migrants And The Consequences Of An Open Border – Breitbart
Many of the most caring people in the U.S. think they are helping the poor from Latin America by leaving our Southwest border wide open between ports-of-entry, but they are not. Several of the transnational criminal organizations (cartels) operating in Central America and Mexico make an estimated one-third or more of their profits from illegal immigration. Specifically, two groups below Texas, the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels, are largely fueled by the trafficking and smuggling of human beings.
The brutality of these criminal groups, from incinerating innocents in a network of ovens to their near complete control of state and local governments, is largely paid for by funds generated from illegal immigration – a shadowy economic engine that is only possible because we refuse to properly secure our border with Mexico….
Former Senator Announces Upcoming Marriage To Man 50 Years His Junior Nearly 20 Years After His Wife Died – The Blaze
Former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford announced that he will be marrying a man 50 years younger than himself almost 20 years after his wife passed away from leukemia, according to an op-ed that was published in the New York Times Sunday…
Nebraska Abolishes Civil Forfeiture – Daily Signal
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, has signed a major state forfeiture bill into law. Like New Mexico before it, the Cornhusker State now requires a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited.
Civil forfeiture is the law enforcement tool, which allows property suspected of being involved in, or derived from, criminal activity to be seized by police, sheriffs, and federal agents. It was ramped up in the 1980’s as a means of combatting the drug trade and organized crime, with the goal of stripping kingpins of their assets and ill-gotten gains.
Thirty years later, though, forfeiture has morphed into a system that is far more often used to seize relatively small amounts of cash, that stacks the deck against property owners fighting to get it back, and that encourages profiteering by law enforcement authorities….
Obama Infuriates The Brits As He Threatens To Send UK ‘To The Back Of The Queue’ If They Vote To Leave The European Union – Daily Mail
President Barack Obama told Britain today that it would have to ‘go to the back of the queue’ if it leaves the European Union, then tries to negotiate its own trade deal with the United States.
A US-UK trade agreement is not going to happen ‘any time soon,’ Obama said during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron….
Solar Developer SunEdison In Bankruptcy As Aggressive Growth Plan Unravels – Reuters
SunEdison Inc SUNE.N, once the fastest-growing U.S. renewable energy company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday after a short-lived but aggressive binge of debt-fueled acquisitions proved unsustainable.
In its bankruptcy filing, the company said it had assets of $20.7 billion and liabilities of $16.1 billion as of Sept. 30.
SunEdison’s two publicly traded subsidiaries, TerraForm Power Inc (TERP.O) and TerraForm Global Inc (GLBL.O), are not part of the bankruptcy. In a statement, the companies, known as yieldcos, said they had sufficient liquidity to operate and that their assets are not available to satisfy the claims of SunEdison creditors…
Governor Enables 200,000 Felons To Vote In November – WorldNetDaily
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised Friday to use an executive order to restore voting rights to felons, an announcement that leaves the Republican-dominated legislature – some of whom have opposed an overturn to the Civil War-era prohibition – in the cold…
Hillary Clinton has won the South Carolina Democratic primary, notching a decisive win in a state where she suffered a devastating loss just eight years ago.
The Associated Press called the race for the former secretary of state over rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders just seconds after the polls closed at 7 p.m. ET. With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton was leading Sanders by a nearly 50 point margin, 74 percent to 26 percent.
“Today you sent a message in America that when we stand together, there is no barrier too big to break,” Clinton declared in her victory speech in Columbia, S.C. “Tomorrow this campaign goes national. We are going to compete for every vote in every state. We are not taking anything for granted.”
Clinton struck a populist tone as she spoke too, backed by younger voters behind her on stage – a demographic she’s struggled to capture over Sanders.
“Together we can break down all the barriers holding our families and our country back. We can build ladders of opportunity and empowerment so every single American can have that chance to live up to his or her God-given potential,” Clinton thundered. “Then and only then can America live up to its full potential, too.”
“We’re going to work together to give people – particularly young people – the tools you need,” she added.
A Clinton victory in the first Southern primary had long been expected, and even the Vermont senator’s campaign seemed resigned to a loss as voting began. Instead of remaining in the Palmetto State to wait for results, Sanders opted instead to turn his eye toward Super Tuesday states voting March 1. He was campaigning in Minnesota on Saturday night.
Sanders congratulated Clinton in a statement but cast attention toward the other contests in just three days.
“Let me be clear on one thing tonight. This campaign is just beginning. We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it’s on to Super Tuesday,” Sanders said.
“In just three days, Democrats in 11 states will pick 10 times more pledged delegates on one day than were selected in the four early states so far in this campaign,” he continued. “Our grassroots political revolution is growing state by state, and we won’t stop now.”
Still, the South Carolina victory is an important one for Clinton and gives her a boost of momentum heading into Super Tuesday, when voters in more than a dozen states will go to the polls and 865 delegates are up for grabs.
South Carolina was the first contest in which a majority of the electorate had been made up of minority voters, and Clinton won black voters handily.
According to early exit polls, a record 62 percent share of Democratic voters were African-American, an increase from even the previous 55 percent benchmark eight years ago. Clinton was on track to capture 84 percent of those votes.
Clinton won all women voters by 58 points and carried black women (37 percent of the electorate) by 78 points. Clinton carried white women 18 points, while Sanders won white men by 14 points.
Younger voters – a key part of the Sanders base – were a much smaller share of the electorate than in previous contests this year. In Iowa and New Hampshire, voters under 30 made up just under 20 percent of the primary vote.
The South Carolina electorate was heavily supportive of President Obama, who beat Clinton in the state in the 2008 contest. Seventy-four percent of the Democratic electorate said the next president should generally continue Obama’s policies, and Clinton won those voters 81 to 19 percent, per exit polls. Sanders carried the 17 percent of voters who wanted the next president to implement more liberal policies.
When police in Southhampton, New York, approached Nancy Genovese in 2009, they wanted information.
“You’re a real right-winter, aren’t you?” the officer said. “I’ll bet you’re one of those Tea Party people.” When Genovese, a Long-Island mother of three said she had attended a Tea Party rally, the officer said “You’re a Teabagger,” and said she would be arrested for terrorism to make an example to other “right wingers.”
So what exactly was Genovese doing that got Suffolk County deputies all upset? She was taking pictures of a tourist attraction – a decorative helicopter – in front of the Gabreski Air National Guard Base. She had just returned from the firing range and had two guns and ammunition in her car.
They arrested her and threw her in jail – despite her having committed no crime.
She filed a lawsuit against Suffolk County and just won $1.1 million for false prosecution.
“Ms. Genovese was subjected to a level of abuse because [authorities] did not share the same political views as she did and saw this as an excuse to deny her even the most basic civil rights,” her lawyer Frederick Brewington said.
Genovese said in a statement said she was “relieved” by the jury’s verdict. She added, “if this can happen to me, and officers can abuse their power like this, I can only imagine how other people who are not as fortunate as me have been treated.”
Score one for the good guys.
Progressive Privilege in Action –
Towson University won the 2014 Cross Examination Debate Association’s national championship on March 24, of this year. The team members inexplicably used the n-word repeatedly and babbled nonsense.
Pundit Press posted part of the debate transcript:
They say the n*****s always already qu***, that’s exactly the point! It means the impact is that the that the is the impact term, uh, to the afraid, uh, the, that it is a case term to the affirmative because, we, uh, we’re saying that qu*** bodies are not able to survive the necessarily means of the body. Uh, uh, the n***** is not able to survive…
…Uh, man’s sole “jabringing” object disfigure religion trauma and nubs, uh, the, inside the trauma of representation that turns into the black child devouring and identifying with the stories and into the white culture brought up, uh, de de de de de, dink, and add subjectively like a white man, the black man!
The topic this year was the War Powers Resolution.
Here’s the Towson Team in action:
This video is GOLD –
It looks like Rush Limbaugh can add the title of award winning children’s book author to his vast resume. He has become “Author of the Year” as the result of winning the 2014 Children’s and Teen Choice Book contest.
To be sure Limbaugh likely won because the award is given out as the result of voting by actual child and teen readers and not some panel of academics and/or journalists. The fact that he has a popular radio show and might have mentioned the fact that he was a contestant once or twice likely entered into it as well.
Limbaugh won the award as the result of his book “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims” which is an account of how a time traveling middle school teacher, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the radio talker, and a talking horse visit the original Plymouth colony in the 1600s. The New York Times best-selling book was followed up by “Rush Revere and the First Patriots” which had his doppelganger visiting the outbreak of the American Revolution.
When the news had been released that Limbaugh was up for the award, the left let loose a hue and cry and tried to have him removed from the list. Fortunately this campaign was to no avail, as it was pointed out that the award was not subject to outside pressure but rather to the desires of young readers.
Besides writing entertaining stories and adding to his vast fortune as a result, Limbaugh’s motive for the books is to expose American children to a more positive view of American history. Sad to say that in too many schools, the United States is not depicted as a great country any longer as education has been replaced by political indoctrination. Limbaugh is trying to rectify that, which must be as bitter gall and wormwood to the left as well.
Republican Scott Wagner pulled off a stunning victory in Tuesday’s special election and made history in the process by becoming the first person ever to win a state Senate seat as a write-in candidate.
Taking advantage of a low voter turnout and a well-financed campaign that got his name in front of voters along highways, at major intersections, on TV and in mailboxes, Wagner waltzed past his party-endorsed opponents – Republican Ron Miller and Democrat Linda Small – to clinch a victory.
He will serve as the state senator representing the 28th District through Nov. 30, allowing Republicans to maintain their 27 to 23 majority in the chamber. The seat is up for election for a four-year term later this year.
York County’s unofficial vote totals show Wagner capturing 48 percent of the vote. Democrat Linda Small received 26 percent and GOP-endorsed candidate Ron Miller got 27 percent.
Turnout for this special election was dismal. Only 14 percent of the 163,617 registered voters in the senatorial district showed up at the polls to cast a ballot in the special election to identify a successor for longtime senator Mike Waugh, who resigned in January to become executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex.
York County Director of Elections Nikki Suchanic ventured a guess that part of the reason for the low turnout was the change in the senatorial district boundaries that occurred since the last time that seat was up for election.
That left some people unaware they were eligible to vote, and others who turned out to vote but couldn’t because they no longer lived in the 28th District.
Regardless, the votes that were cast gave Wagner, 58, of Spring Garden Twp., a resounding victory in a race that got exceedingly nasty toward the end.
Ads that were run cast Wagner as a bully and his trash hauling company, York-based Penn Waste, an environmental violator. Wagner responded with his own negative attack ad against on Miller and in recent days, Small too.
The attacks against him angered Wagner. He was astonished that his business-friendly Republican Party would go after a job creator like himself.
Those ads were funded by the Senate Republicans, the ranks of whom Wagner will now join.
On Tuesday evening, Wagner shrugged off those barbs at his victory party in a room inside in an empty Santander Stadium. He said he plans to try to work with his Senate colleagues.
“You sit down at the table. You drink a cup of coffee or you have lunch in somebody’s office and you have to learn a little bit of their story, and they have to learn a little bit of my story,” Wagner said.
“But what I’m all about is more representative of what’s reality on the street,” he added. “I didn’t get where I am today by not sitting down” with people.
State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason issued a statement Tuesday evening congratulating Wagner on his victory and commending Miller for running a great race.
“Scott Wagner won a hard-fought race, and I am sure he will serve as a strong advocate for the people of the 28th District in the Senate,” Gleason said. As for Miller, he said, “I look forward to watching him continue to stand up for the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility in the state House.”
Wagner, who also owns a KBS Trucking in Thomasville, comes to the Senate planning to be a maverick by not accepting a taxpayer-funded pension or health insurance, limiting himself to two terms, limiting his contacts with special interests, and working to downsize state government.
He supports eliminating school property taxes and replacing that lost revenue by imposing sales tax on food and clothing. He supports job training for welfare recipients. He also supports legalizing medical marijuana.
Throughout his campaign, Wagner was critical of the Senate Republican leadership and state Republican Party for orchestrating the special election in such a way to hand the seat, vacated by Mike Waugh in January, to Miller, which GOP leaders denied.
Miller, 62, of Jacobus, called Wagner shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday to congratulate him on becoming his next senator.
At a gathering at York County GOP headquarters, Miller said he respected the will of the voters and planned on returning to Harrisburg on Wednesday to carry out his duties as the 93rd state House district representative for the remainder of this year. He is not seeking re-election to his House seat that he has held for 16 years.
Meanwhile, Small, 53, of New Freedom, won kudos from state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burns for running a spirited campaign that made her party proud. “The people of this commonwealth would have been well served with her leadership in Harrisburg,” Burns said.
Wagner said during a campaign stop last week that he plans to move right into campaign mode immediately after the special election to gear up for the May 20 primary when he will stand for election again against Miller and political newcomer Zachary Hearn, 37, of Windsor Twp., for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat. Small is unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination in the spring primary.
The Dems will try and dismiss this but the fact is Jolly was severely outspent by the Democrats and Obama won the district in 2012.
Via NBC News:
Republican David Jolly was declared the winner Tuesday of a closely watched Florida Congressional race both parties viewed as testing grounds to hone strategies for the 2014 midterm elections.
Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a tight race to fill the Tampa Bay-area seat of the late GOP Rep. Bill Young, according to the Associated Press.
The pricey campaign was waged heavily on President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul. Sink, who ran for governor of the Sunshine State in 2010, fought back a litany of attacks for her support of Obamacare in the first Congressional election since the law’s troubled rollout last fall. Jolly was portrayed as a former lobbyist beholden to special interests and whose calls for repeal of the health care law would move the country backward.
The implications of the race resulted in involvement from political heavyweights on both sides. Former President Bill Clinton recorded a phone call for Sink down the final stretch of the campaign, and former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan appeared on a conference call for Jolly.
Republicans have said a Jolly victory in the swing district would be a sign of good things to come in November midterms.
Obama narrowly won the district during his 2012 campaign and Sink carried it during her 2010 run in the state. But Young kept the seat in GOP hands during his more than four decades in Congress.
The Romike family doesn’t have the values the Administration wants for legal immigration.
Via Fox News
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.
They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote in a legal brief last year. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s appeal – paving the way for the Christian family of eight to be deported.
“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.
Christians in an east Tennessee community are vowing to engage in civil disobedience if the Obama administration initiates deportation proceedings against a Southern Baptist family from Germany who sought asylum in the United States so that they could home school their children.
“It may require civil disobedience with this bunch,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who represents the congressional district where the Romeike family lives.
“I am furious about this,” the congressman told me. “You’ve got law-abiding people who did everything right who simply want to home school their kids. We used to be that great shining city on a hill. There’s some rust on that city if we are doing free people this way.”
Roe was among many Tennesseans outraged over the Supreme Court decision not to hear the Romeike’s appeal to stay in the United States. The Christian couple sought asylum in 2008 after they fled Germany so they could home school their children.
The family was initially granted asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” The Justice Department wrote in a 2013 legal brief. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
Rep. Roe told me the Justice Department needs to “butt out.”
“I don’t know what the Germans are thinking, but we’re not Germany,” he said. “I don’t want to be Germany. I don’t want to be Europe. I want to be America. And right now we’re not acting very much like the America I know with the administration we have.”
Roe called Attorney General Eric Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country” and called his department’s assault on the Romeike family “appalling and worrisome.”
“I don’t see this as a Democrat or Republican issue,” he said. “It’s an issue of religious freedom. By golly, if we don’t stand for what, what do we stand for?”
Michael Farris, the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, is representing the family. He said their future in the United States rests with the Obama administration.
“President Obama has the ability to say they can stay,” Farris said. “He can take that pen and piece of paper and make this right today.”
But since that hasn’t happened there are two possible outcomes for the Romeikes and their six children.
Farris said the administration could just ignore the family and let them live in peace. But the government could also file an order of deportation. If that happens, Farris promised a vigorous fight.
“If they come after this family and seek deportation orders, we will be there with our litigation team fighting every step of the way,” he said. “It sounds like their friends and neighbors will be there in a show of solidarity and stand in the gate and prohibit the government from acting.”
And Farris isn’t speaking figuratively. A number of the Romeike’s neighbors in Morristown, Tenn. told me they are prepared to engage in civil disobedience should government agents try to deport the family.
“The Romeikes have become a part of our family,” said Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, where the family attends. “I don’t think there’s any question that there will be some people who will be willing to stand with them to the very end – even if it means our imprisonment.”
The Southern Baptist pastor said should that day come, he would be counted among the local residents willing to go to jail to save the family from deportation.
“If that’s what it took, yes,” the pastor said. “This is an assault in the face of Christianity in America.”
“This is one of those situations where we are just outraged,” he said. “We are angered.”
He said the Romeikes are beloved in the east Tennessee town – where Uwe is the church pianist as well as an ordained deacon.
“They are not on welfare,” he said. ‘They are not trying to live off our system. They are very productive, godly, Christian people.”
Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told me he was deep distressed by the Obama administration’s actions.
“I’m not sure what’s more chilling – that this administration views their presence in rural east Tennessee as a threat to our nation’s economic and political well being or that this administration lobbied to deport this family to a nation determined to coercively indoctrinate the children in government sanctioned ‘tolerance’ training,” Oldham said.
Oldham said the case is simply perplexing.
“This family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children,” he said. “For whatever reason, our government does not want them in our nation.”
State Rep. Tillman Goins told me the community is “up in arms.”
“Everybody in Morristown knows the Romeike family,” he said. “You have a family who is doing it the legal way, taking every legal step they can to ask to come to this country and to participate as citizens in this country – only to be persecuted by the United States.”
Goins introduced a resolution calling on Tennessee’s congressional delegation to defend the family.
“I don’t know if all religious liberty is under attack in this country,” he said. “It seems like Christian values are under attack more than any other religion.”
Should the day come when the immigration agents show up to take the family away, Goins said he would meet them at the front door.
“Let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that point,” he said. “(But) should it come down to it – absolutely.”
And Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas would be standing alongside the state lawmaker.
“I can tell you this – I would stand with them,” he said. “There has to be a way to work this out before it ever comes to that.”
The mayor said there are no finer folks in his town than the Romeikes.
“They are good citizens without a doubt,” he said. ‘I don’t think you’ll find anyone with a better work ethic – kind, gentle people. I know that he has deep religious beliefs and he wants to stay and so does his family. I would hope our country would be able to accommodate them. They are an asset to our country.”
Farris predicted that if the Romeikes are deported, it would spark a movement among religious liberty supporters.
“If they come for this family, it’s going to ignite a movement that’s going to be the same as when they told courageous Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus and she wouldn’t go,” Farris said.
“I think we may be approaching a similar moment in our country.”
Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, has officially won Venezuela’s presidential election by a stunningly narrow margin that highlights rising discontent over problems ranging from crime to power blackouts. His rival demanded a recount, portending more headaches for a country shaken by the death of its dominating leader.
One key Chavista leader expressed dismay over the outcome of Sunday’s election, which was supposed to cement the self-styled “Bolivarian Revolution” of their beloved president as Venezuela’s destiny. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, who many consider Maduro’s main rival within their movement, tweeted: “The results oblige us to make a profound self-criticism.”
Maduro’s victory followed an often ugly, mudslinging campaign in which the winner promised to carry on Chavez’s legacy, while challenger Henrique Capriles’ main message was that Chavez put this country with the world’s largest oil reserves on the road to ruin.
Despite the ill feelings, both men sent their supporters home and urged them to refrain from violence. Capriles insisted on a recount and Maduro said he was open to one, though it was not immediately clear if election officials might permit it.
“We are not going to recognize a result until each vote of Venezuelans is counted,” Capriles said. “This struggle has not ended.”
Maduro, meanwhile, said, “Let 100 percent of the ballot boxes be opened. … We’re going to do it; we have no fear.”
Maduro, acting president since Chavez’s March 5 death, held a double-digit advantage in opinion polls just two weeks ago, but electoral officials said he got just 50.7 percent of the votes compared to 49.1 percent for Capriles, with nearly all ballots counted.
The margin was about 234,935 votes out of 14.8 million cast. Turnout was 78 percent, down from just over 80 percent in the October election that Chavez won by a nearly 11-point margin over Capriles.
Chavistas set off fireworks and raced through downtown Caracas blasting horns in jubilation. In a victory speech, Maduro told a crowd outside the presidential palace that his victory was further proof that Chavez “continues to be invincible.”
But analysts called the slim margin a disaster for Maduro, a former union leader and bus driver in the radical wing of Chavismo who is believed to have close ties to Cuba.
At Capriles’ campaign headquarters, people hung their heads quietly as the results were announced by an electoral council stacked with government loyalists. Many started crying; others just stared at TV screens in disbelief.
Later, Capriles emerged to angrily reject the official totals: “It is the government that has been defeated.”
He said his campaign reported “a result that is different from the results announced today.”
“The biggest loser today is you,” Capriles said, directly addressing Maduro through the camera. “The people don’t love you.”
Venezuela’s electronic voting system is completely digital, but also generates a paper receipt for each vote, making a vote-by-vote recount possible.
Capriles, an athletic 40-year-old state governor, had mocked and belittled Maduro as a poor, bland imitation of Chavez.
Maduro said during his victory speech that Capriles had called him before the results were announced to suggest a “pact” and that Maduro refused. Capriles’ camp did not comment on Maduro’s claim, though Capriles began his speech by declaring he doesn’t “make pacts with lies or corruption.”
Maduro, a longtime foreign minister to Chavez, rode a wave of sympathy for the charismatic leader to victory, pinning his hopes on the immense loyalty for his boss among millions of poor beneficiaries of government largesse and the powerful state apparatus that Chavez skillfully consolidated.
Capriles’ main campaign weapon was to simply emphasize “the incompetence of the state.” At rallies, Capriles would read out a list of unfinished road, bridge and rail projects. Then he asked people what goods were scarce on store shelves.
Millions of Venezuelans were lifted out of poverty under Chavez, but many also believe his government not only squandered, but plundered, much of the $1 trillion in oil revenues during his 14-year rule.
Venezuelans are afflicted by chronic power outages, crumbling infrastructure, unfinished public works projects, double-digit inflation, food and medicine shortages, and rampant crime – one of the world’s highest homicide and kidnapping rates – that the opposition said worsened after Chavez disappeared to Cuba in December for what would be his final surgery.
Analyst David Smilde at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank predicted the victory would prove pyrrhic and make Maduro extremely vulnerable.
“It will make people in his coalition think that perhaps he is not the one to lead the revolution forward,” Smilde said.
“This is a result in which the `official winner’ appears as the biggest loser,” said Amherst College political scientist Javier Corrales. “The `official loser’ – the opposition – emerges even stronger than it did six months ago. These are very delicate situations in any political system, especially when there is so much mistrust of institutions.”
Many across the nation put little stock in Maduro’s claims that sabotage by the far right was to blame for worsening power outages and food shortages in the weeks before the vote.
“We can’t continue to believe in messiahs,” said Jose Romero, a 48-year-old industrial engineer who voted for Capriles in the central city of Valencia. “This country has learned a lot and today we know that one person can’t fix everything.”
In a Chavista stronghold in Petare outside Caracas, Maria Velasquez, 48, who works in a government soup kitchen that feeds 200 people, said she voted for Chavez’s man “because that is what my comandante ordered.”
Reynaldo Ramos, a 60-year-old construction worker, said he “voted for Chavez” before correcting himself and saying he chose Maduro.
“We must always vote for Chavez because he always does what’s best for the people and we’re going to continue on this path,” Ramos said.
The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela deployed a well-worn, get-out-the-vote machine spearheaded by loyal state employees. It also enjoyed the backing of state media as part of its near-monopoly on institutional power.
Capriles’ camp also complained that Chavista loyalists in the judiciary put them at glaring disadvantage by slapping the campaign and broadcast media with fines and prosecutions that they called unwarranted. Only one opposition TV station remains and it was being sold to a new owner Monday.
Maduro will face no end of hard choices for which Corrales, of Amherst, said he has shown no skills for tackling.
Maduro has “a penchant for blaming everything on his `adversaries’ – capitalism, imperialism, the bourgeoisie, the oligarchs – so it is hard to figure how exactly he would address any policy challenge other than taking a tough line against his adversaries.”
Venezuela’s $30 billion fiscal deficit is equal to about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Many factories operate at half capacity because strict currency controls make it hard for them to pay for imported parts and materials. Business leaders say some companies verge on bankruptcy because they cannot extend lines of credit with foreign suppliers.
Chavez imposed currency controls a decade ago trying to stem capital flight as his government expropriated large land parcels and dozens of businesses.
Now, dollars sell on the black market at three times the official exchange rate and Maduro has had to devalue Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, twice this year.