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Harrop: Some Democrats have learned how to win elections

We hear that Democrat Ralph Northam’s decisive win in the race for Virginia governor was extra extraordinary in that he was a weak candidate. Voters, the story goes, seriously rejected Trumpian politics, an especially nasty brew that Republican Ed Gillespie had channeled in end-of-race desperation.

Has anyone considered the possibility that Northam ran a smart campaign? A 9-point win is not a squeak-through. Furthermore, the notion that Trumpism without Trump is not a powerful strategy greatly overestimates Trumpism with Trump.

Do recall that Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in Virginia by over 5 points. And that was 12 long months ago, before Trump proved how ineffectual and unpresidential he could be.

Northam clearly understood the first commandment of winning elections: Thou shalt not repel the voters.

Democrats prevailing in purple or even red areas of the country have found a formula for bringing more moderate voters over to their side. (Trumpism does get credit for turning many nonparticipants into voters.)

These savvy politicians are creating safe spaces for parts of the electorate that dislike what Republicans are doing but have felt culturally abandoned by Democrats. That’s why Northam denounced the ad by the Latino Victory Fund showing a pickup truck with a Confederate flag running over children of color.

Many white Virginians who are not particularly racist and were distressed by the recent right-wing spectacle in Charlottesville nonetheless feel tarred by such imagery. Those dynamics went completely over the head of the progressive Democracy for America. It abruptly rescinded its Northam endorsement. Meanwhile, Our Revolution, allied with Bernie Sanders, took its own whack at him.

Northam also said he is against sanctuary cities, which A) Virginia doesn’t have anyway and B) 80 percent of voters, including most Democrats, are against. Opposition to sanctuary cities mirrors opposition to illegal immigration, not necessarily to immigrants.

In a statement taking back its support for Northam, Democracy for America declared, “We refuse to be silent any longer and even remotely complicit in the disastrous, racist, and even voter-turnout-depressing campaign Ralph Northam appears intent on running.”

Some turnout depression. African-American turnout swelled Tuesday. And Northam took the black vote by 75 percentage points. Women gave him a 22-point lead.

Certain “progressive” groups, it appears, were willing to throw the election to Trumpism rather than back a Democrat who objected to messaging that, actually, was quite objectionable.

One recalls Larry David’s only funny line as recent host of “Saturday Night Live.” Impersonating Sanders as a contestant on a game show, he declared, “We’re gonna win this thing the Bernie way, which means if I lose, I’ll bring everyone else down with me.”

The audience laughed nervously. Many were no doubt aware that after his burnt-earth campaign against Clinton, one in five Sanders supporters didn’t vote for her.

Tom Perriello, by contrast, rose to the occasion. A Bernie-backed progressive who lost the primary to Northam, Perriello enthusiastically campaigned for the centrist Democrat. This show of unity may have contributed to the Democrats’ swamping victories in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Every activist group—on the Democratic and Republican sides—wants the party to be a reflection of itself. Northam understood that a party has to be a reflection of those voters open to its message. To win seats held by Republicans, Democrats obviously have to make room for people who formerly voted Republican, as well as get their natural constituencies to the polls.

Trumpism is losing big-time nationally, especially in the suburbs. Northam showed how a Democrat can prevail in a purple state. Suffice it to say, he didn’t do it by being a poor candidate. On the contrary.

Froma Harrop writes for Creators Syndicate. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at

Your Views: Democrats wish they could claim credit for tax cuts

House Republicans released their Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lowering individual and corporate taxes on Americans. A politician said that cutting the corporate tax rate was necessary for “putting the United States in line with major competitor countries and encouraging greater investment here at home.” Others said: “I’m game to do it because I think it’s really important for American competitiveness.” “It would be a permanent lower rate, not a holiday rate.” “It is long past time for tax reform that would lower the corporate rate.”

Which politicians said this? The first quote was Barack Obama, the second and third were Chuck Schumer and the fourth was Nancy Pelosi. Of course they weren’t talking about the current plan. They said these things in 2016 when they were sure Hillary Clinton would win the White House and Democrats would regain control of the Senate. It was important to lower corporate taxes then because they knew it would stimulate the moribund economy, and they wanted the credit for the rebound.

Nothing has changed in the last year, except that Schumer, Pelosi and other Democrats realize this good policy will now be credited to Trump instead of Clinton.

If the tax cut gets signed into law, the average American household income could increase between $4,000 and $9,000 a year in wages and salary, according to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers.

Democrats are using class warfare, pretending that tax cuts hurt the lower and middle classes, even when they know that’s not true.



Our Views: Beware the stranger-danger narrative

Another Halloween has passed, and we haven’t heard about any child eating a poisoned piece of candy.

We also received no reports of a registered sex offender molesting a Superman or princess who knocked on the wrong front door.

While these types of incidents are extremely rare, that fact hasn’t stopped parents from worrying about the safety of their children on Halloween night.

Trick-or-treating has turned into a family affair with parents monitoring their children’s approaches to every house. The Janesville Police Department and state Department of Corrections help give parents peace of mind by visiting on Halloween night the homes of registered sex offenders to ensure they’re not misbehaving.

Many other communities conduct similar checks, and some departments even give these checks military-sounding monikers, such as Operation Blackout and Operation Unmask.

Janesville police have been conducting the Halloween checks for about a decade. Police sometimes discover probation or parole violations, but they haven’t stumbled on anything like sex offenders using treats to lure kids into their homes.

While police efforts to protect children are obviously appreciated, these operations can reinforce the myth that sex offenders mainly target strangers. In fact, in 86 percent of the cases reported to law enforcement, the victims of sexual assault know the perpetrators, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Scarier still, nearly half of all sexual assaults are committed by a family or extended family member.

People’s fears of offenders randomly targeting victims is partly the media’s fault. When a stranger is victimized, these crimes make headlines and capture both the public’s attention and imagination. Fear rises because attacks on strangers imply everyone has an equal chance of becoming a victim. “It could be my child” is the thought that crosses many parents’ minds.

But parents should worry less about a boogeyman lurking outside the window and more about someone their child already knows, including people the child trusts.

While parents shouldn’t become paranoid, they should ask their children open-ended questions about their interactions with other adults—what they enjoyed doing during their time with that adult and what they didn’t enjoy. Parents must listen closely to the responses for any hint of inappropriate or maybe criminal behavior.

Parents should make clear—repeating often—to children (as soon as they’re able to understand) the differences between “good touching” and “bad touching.” Children must know where the boundaries are and to speak up if those boundaries are ever crossed.

Protecting children from sexual predators requires vigilance, but it also demands perspective. Parents who spend too much time looking for boogeymen risk failing to see the real villain that may be already part of their lives.

Web Views for Friday, Nov. 10

From online story comments and Facebook

On failed Milton schools referendum: Many Milton families I know who have children in the district are very disappointed with the results. Not only because the overcrowding issues will continue, but because the message has been received that folks in this town are not thinking big picture and long term.

—Dana Petersen Murphy

The issues are real. They will only get worse and the solutions will get more expensive. So what is the solution? The no voters need to step up and help the district figure it out.

—Toni Kraiss Richmond

Just add a grade onto the middle school. There is plenty of land behind the school, and the structure was built in 1979, which makes it a newer structure. That would relieve the “crowding” at the lower grades. Wow, was that hard? And, it costs MUCH less.


Well, there is always open enrollment. If you don’t like the school, then go to a different district with the big fancy sports facility and new schools. Then that will take care of the overcrowded classrooms.

—Kim Crape Clark

District Administrator Tim Schigur is viewed as dishonest, condescending and untrustworthy by many in the community, along with some of the district staff or teachers. Unfortunately, short of school board and personnel replacements, I don’t know how they will ever recover from these referendum failures and the events leading up to them.


It appears that they are doing the Three Little Pigs fable in reverse. They started with the brick school last year and then tried the cinder-block school this year. I suppose next year’s referendum will be to reduce costs by using bales of straw as the building material.

—Kevin Goebel

On Gov. Scott Walker’s Janesville visit Tuesday: Thank you to Rock County Sheriff Department. Did an outstanding job of keeping protesters off the private property and at the driveway only. We didn’t even see (or hear) them from the building the event was held in.


I’d sooner vote for a paper bag.

—Jessica Cates

On Janesville’s new leaf vacuum truck: Does it suck them off the trees?

—Lynn Zuber Godding

I’m sure this will be much more effective and efficient than the old way. It’s nice to see little innovations that the city is using. Could this have been used years ago to save money?

—Phil Junior

Looks like many people are going to have a lot of spring yard work to do. My soft maple is just barely turning, let alone dropping leaves. My street has hardly any leaves to pick up.

—Jason Vielhuber

On legislation to eliminate age restrictions for hunting: Thank God I don’t hunt on public land anymore. Putting a gun (other than a .22 in a controlled environment) in the hands of a child under the age of 10 is just asking for problems. They are too young to understand the rules or the consequences of their actions. I am all for gun rights, but this is an irresponsible law.

—Brady Burk

You sure don’t want a 9-year-old trudging through a woods when there could be a fellow hunter filled to the gills with beer.

—Joe From Wisconsin

I just took my 6-year-old’s crayons away and tossed her a .22. Told her to go get squirrels.

—Joe Brown

Love it. Bonding time in the woods for kids and loved ones. I don’t know why some are so upset over this. Being taught safety first is a must, of course. But really, folks, think about it: The young ones can’t purchase a gun and do you really think that avid hunters didn’t have little ones out already? I was shooting at 5.

—Ruth Jackson Yacyszyn