Philip Blumel: A Lump of Coal for Congress? Hardly!
Philip Blumel: Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the Term Limits movement for the week of December 28th, 2020.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: The COVID relief bill passed last week was a bipartisan monstrosity. At 5585 pages in length, this $2.3 trillion package says a whole lot more than to send $600 checks to Americans earning less than $75K last year. Congress members took this opportunity to also pay off a long list of their favorite lobbyists, special interest, and cronies all over the globe. It is truly a monument to congressional corruption, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in taking credit for the package, was bitter that he personally did not get a big enough check, [chuckle] even though he didn’t miss any paychecks in 2020. Here he is speaking before the US House last Monday.
Steny Hoyer: Members are gonna be underpaid in this bill, too. We beat our chest and we have money in there says we don’t get a call one more time. Aren’t we so courageous? I’m disgusted by that, Mr. Speaker and I want all of America to know, I want all my constituents to know.
Philip Blumel: Ah, such a motion and conviction about his most cherished cause: Himself. Well, we hope you are navigating this highly unusual Christmas season more successfully than Mr. Hoyer, and enjoying yourself with your family along the way. The team at US Term Limits is, and as a result, we did not produce a full podcast episode for this week. So instead, we’ll reprise one of the most important episodes of the year. This was Number 114, dated November 9th, where we discussed the November 2020 election results and what it means for the Term Limits movement in 2021. Roll it, Duke. Some Democrats won here, Republicans won there, but Term Limits won everywhere. Can we back up that statement?
Nick Tomboulides: Absolutely, yes. We’re still waiting on a lot of races to be called, including as of this recording, the presidential race hasn’t been called, but it was not a Red wave, and it was not a Blue wave, it was a term limits wave. Let me tell you why. There are now, as a result of all the hard work of our grassroots activists, our employees and our volunteers, 642 term limits convention pledge signers elected to state legislatures throughout the country.
Philip Blumel: That is incredible. Hey, we started out this session with about 250, and now how many do we have?
Nick Tomboulides: You have 642 now, so you have a net gain of about 400 term limits pledge signers across the state legislatures, that’s just phenomenal. In Congress, there are now 93 elected to Congress, which is I think a net gain of about 30 from where we were. These are record highs. It’s something to be excited about. Term limits is immune to partisanship. You know, we call this the show the sanctuary from partisan politics, maybe it should be called the vaccination from partisan politics, ’cause term limits is immune to all that, no matter who wins… You’ve got divided government right now, you’ve got a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, no matter who wins, term limits are constantly moving forward, and we see that again and again.
Philip Blumel: Wow. So almost a fifth of Congress is now pledged to support the US Term Limits amendment for congressional term limits. Let’s talk about some of the races that mattered in the Congress that we’re counting in these numbers, ’cause I know there’s a couple that jumped out to me. The one in Alabama is one with the college football coach.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, Coach Tommy Tuberville from Auburn. He defeated a pledge refuser. He defeated a term limits hater, incumbent Doug Jones, which is great, ’cause you’re actually flipping… We’re talking about flipping a seat from Democrat to Republican or vice versa. It’s more important sometimes that you flip a seat from anti-term limits to pro-term limits. And that’s what happened in Alabama. So now we’ve got an additional co-sponsor for the Ted Cruz amendment in the Senate. Another legislator, another leader who can help drive it forward. So term limits supporters, they’re filling open seats, they’re beating incumbents, as you see in Alabama, they’re doing it all. As of this recording, presidential race hasn’t been called, but Congress has been called and term limits have got a victory.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, it’s a victory that the Republicans kept the Senate in a lot of respects, because Ted Cruz carried our term limits amendment bill in the Senate, and more importantly, he’s actually the chairman of a judiciary sub-committee in which would be the origin of a term limits amendment bill. In fact, of course, he’s the one that held hearings on it where you appeared in Washington DC, and now because the Republicans are keeping the majority there, Senator Ted Cruz as a Republican gets to maintain his chairmanship of that sub-committee. That’s a big deal.
Nick Tomboulides: It is. We’re in a good position in the sense that we’ve got nearly a fifth of the Senate behind congressional term limits, but there’s a difference between being a supporter and being a champion.
Philip Blumel: Of course.
Nick Tomboulides: Because while there are a lot of people who support term limits, there are very few people who have the balls of Ted Cruz to say, “Let’s hold a hearing on it. Let’s defy Mitch McConnell and let’s try to move term limits forward, because that’s what the American people want.” So the fact that Ted Cruz was able to hang on to that chairmanship is huge, because the joint resolution right now, it’s SJR1. You don’t know what the number’s gonna be in the new Congress. It would have to originate in his committee before it can get to the Senate floor, before it can be voted on, it would have to originate in his committee. So the fact that Ted Cruz held onto that gavel is very crucial.
Philip Blumel: Right. And you know, when you talk about guts and being a term limits hero, think about this. His boss, more or less, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell in the Senate, he flat out said there was gonna be no vote on this amendment while he’s running the show. Now, here’s Ted Cruz on the sub-committee, who is the sponsor of the bill, and he’s calling hearings on it in defiance of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so it definitely takes some guts.
Nick Tomboulides: Let me put a scenario out there. There are two senate races in Georgia. The Republicans have not locked up control of the Senate yet. They are likely to hold on to it, but they haven’t locked it up yet. There’s gonna be two Senate run-offs in Georgia. In both of those Senate run-offs in Georgia, the incumbents are term limits pledge signers, the Republican incumbents. Their opponents are pledge refusers, they’re anti-term limits. If term limits become a critical issue in those races and Republicans are able to hang on to their Senate majority because they stuck up for term limits, then how then would Mitch McConnell be able to continue thumbing his nose at the American people and refusing to hold a vote? Because if you think about it at that point, if it plays out that way, you’d have a scenario where Mitch McConnell owes his Senate majority to the issue of term limits. And I would love to see how he responds to that.
Philip Blumel: Oh, I think we have a couple of phone calls to make. [chuckle]
Speaker 5: Corruption.
Philip Blumel: The subject to this week’s profile on Corruption just got re-elected to the Ohio legislature last week. Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested in July 2020, just a few months ago on racketeering charges. According to the Dayton Daily News, “Federal prosecutors say, Republican Speaker Larry Householder and four others, including a former State GOP Chairman, perpetrated a $60 million Federal bribery scheme connected to a taxpayer-funded bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants.” Specifically, Householder received $60 million into his PAC, and then he steered about 1.3 billion to the power company First Energy Solutions. He did it by keeping a citizens initiative off the ballot that would have required voter approval for that bailout. Federal prosecutors detailed the machinations of this gang to disqualify the initiative. The Ohio House stripped Householder of his speakership, yes, but representative Householder refused to resign. Instead, he started campaigning for re-election to Ohio’s 72nd State House seat. The incumbent Householder did not even have a challenger, such is the power of incumbency.
Philip Blumel: Just a few months before the election, it was too late for an opposing candidate to appear on the ballot. Although four candidates tried to run as a write-in, apparently they failed. Although no one knows how many votes they actually got, the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office does not give votes for write-in candidates. Householder came to our attention back at March when he called Ohio’s eight-year term limits pretty oppressive. Before his arrest, he was pushing a ballot measure designed to weaken Ohio’s term limits law from eight years to 16 years, so that he could serve until 2036. We certainly know why. Representative Householder has also been quoted saying that term limits aren’t a good bargain for the State of Ohio. Well he should know, his bargain with the devil netted him about $60 million briefly, and re-election to the Ohio legislature. The power of incumbency is so great that only term limits can temper it. Which is why corrupt politicians always oppose them.
Philip Blumel: Another term limits hero got elected to the US Congress, Representative Byron Donalds, congratulations. He’s really shown what he’s made of down in Florida at the state level, and now he’s being bumped up to Washington DC, so that’s really exciting. And it’s also super important because he is replacing a retiring representative that was our chief sponsor in the House, and so we traditionally didn’t wanna lose that seat and we didn’t.
Nick Tomboulides: Right. Look, politicians make a lot of promises. We know that. A politician’s promise is worth about as much as Enron stock these days. But Byron Donalds, he didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk when he was a state rep here in Florida. He stood up for term limits throughout his entire tenure in the Florida House. Without his help, we would not have gotten School Board term limits, eight-year term limits through the Florida House.
Philip Blumel: That’s right.
Nick Tomboulides: And he signed the pledge without hesitation, I think the day he announced he was running for Congress. He is a rising star in the term limits movement, and I think he’s gonna be pivotal for us in not just bringing the Florida delegation around on this, but bringing lots of co-sponsors on board.
Philip Blumel: Any other standouts in the US Congress?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, there are standouts across the board among these new Congress members. Nancy Mace, for example, she defeated an incumbent in South Carolina’s first district, an incumbent who claimed he was for term limits, but he would never sign the pledge, Joe Cunningham. Nancy Mace beat him. And she used to work with US Term Limits many years ago before she was even elected to anything. When she was in the South Carolina House, she was a strong supporter of the Term Limits Convention, and now she’s gonna be a fighter on this issue in Congress.
Philip Blumel: Great.
Nick Tomboulides: So it’s really tremendous.
Philip Blumel: Now, we won at other levels. Greg Gianforte in Montana, won the gubernatorial race. Why is it helpful that a governor supports us on this issue?
Nick Tomboulides: It’s helpful because a governor has a very important pulpit within a State. What the scholars, experts and lawyers have told us is that you don’t actually need a governor to sign a resolution for the Term Limits Convention when a state legislature passes it. You don’t need it, and if a governor vetoed it, that wouldn’t apply. However, having a governor who is sympathetic to the cause can be instrumental because he can use that office as a platform from which he can advocate. Perfect example I’ll give you is Ron DeSantis here in Florida. Ron DeSantis is a term limits stalwart. He was for it in Congress. And Ron DeSantis is the reason why Florida is such a prominent term limits state and why the issue gets so much traction here. So I could see Gianforte filling that role in Montana. And by the way, his predecessor, Steve Bullock, I met that guy in Washington DC last year, he told me straight to my face that he hates term limits. So, I am not going to cry for him now that he’s out of office and he lost his Senate race too.
Philip Blumel: Right. And as the most important politician in a State, you absolutely do have that pulpit. When you take somebody like Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania, when he came out in support of the Term Limits Convention a couple of weeks ago, you bet that that turned heads, especially heads in the state legislature.
Nick Tomboulides: Absolutely, yeah, and the Governor gets to give the State of the State speech, the Governor gets to spell out an agenda for what he likes to happen or what he wants to happen. I would not be surprised to see term limits convention make its way into Greg Gianforte’s agenda. Just a quick note on ballot measures including what we talked about last week, the results are a little bit preliminary but as of now, it looks like 80% of pro-term limits ballot measures passed in 2020 which is great. Obviously it shows tremendous levels of enthusiasm and I would say where term limits measures don’t pass, you can be sure that the sketch ball politicians were probably messing around with the ballot language to fool people into thinking they were supporting term limits when that wasn’t actually the case. All three of the ballot measures we talked about last week which would have gutted the citizen initiative process, Amendment 4 in Florida, Issue 3 in Arkansas and Measure 2 in North Dakota, all three of them went down in flames.
Philip Blumel: That was exciting.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, so we defended the initiative, we held back the night there. In Florida, it’s really rare for any constitutional amendment in Florida to get under 50% of the vote, that’s why we require they pass with 60% here but this one was so egregious, so repugnant that it got under 50% of the vote. That is despite the special interests out spending us on that amendment, $10 million to zero, we still won. Cheers to that.
Philip Blumel: Yep.
Speaker 6: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: And now, WXYZ in Detroit reports on last week’s ballot measure in Warren, Michigan, that reduced that city’s mayoral term limits from 20 years much to the dismay of Mayor Jim Fouts.
Speaker 7: Well Warren Mayor Jim Fouts is serving what will likely be his final term after an overwhelming majority of voters have proved a change in term limits for the office and I talked exclusively with the mayor today to get his reaction.
Jim Fouts: Well number one, I’m not surprised by it. It was a very confusing ballot question.
Speaker 7: Nearly 68% of voters approved of that question to shrink the term limit for Warren’s mayoral office, effectively squashing any re-election bid for longtime mayor Jim Fouts. Instead of the current five four-year terms or 20 years, it will now be three four-year terms or 12 years the same as other elected Warren officials. On Facebook, Mayor Fouts showed his opposition to the proposal that received a 22,000 vote margin. Do you take it personally at all?
Jim Fouts: No, not at all. It deals with confusion and term limits, basically confusion. The voters had such a crowded controversial ballot, focusing on this wasn’t at their top of their radar. I don’t think there’s any city in Macomb County that has term limits. So it’s not very common but it was a device by the City Council to try to eliminate the competition.
Speaker 7: Fouts signaling he may look for some sort of work around and he’ll have three years to figure that out.
Jim Fouts: So I’m exploring all options, legal and other things and we’ll see what the future will hold. But I accept the voters decision yesterday and I believe that we’ll move forward.
Speaker 7: He did decline to extrapolate on what avenues he’s looking at to stay on the job Beyond 2023.
Philip Blumel: Some of our biggest news is actually at the state level ’cause we mentioned… What did you say? 642 members of the state legislatures now have signed a pledge committing themselves to vote for and co-sponsor term limits convention resolutions. Now, that is gonna change our landscape going forward when we’re bringing this bill into different states. To me, that’s one of the most exciting things that came out of last week.
Nick Tomboulides: It was. And we’re gonna go into more depth about that next week on the podcast, we’re gonna talk about which states remained in term limits control and whether we lost any states or not. There’s a lot of votes still getting counted in some of these places like Arizona, so we don’t have a full read out yet but I’m sure we will by next week. And you think about it, 642 pledge signers elected to state legislatures throughout the country. How did we get that many pledges, Phil?
Philip Blumel: Hard work, calling people up, having our activists and our staffers calling up these candidates asking them to sign, activists coming up to ’em at events, asking them to sign. It took a lot of hard work.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, those pledges don’t just come out of thin air. Someone’s gotta…
Philip Blumel: No, they’re not calling us. They’re not calling us asking to sign a term limits pledge, that’s for sure.
Nick Tomboulides: Never, never. Someone’s gotta do the arm twisting, it’s you, the listeners of this podcast, the volunteers for US term limits, who make this happen like Jim Olivi out in Arizona. I’ve personally been in a room and watch Jim Olivi button hole members of the Arizona State House and twist their arm and get ’em to sign the term limits pledge. I’ve seen how this is done and so I just wanna give a wholehearted thank you to everyone who’s helped us get this huge victory in 2020. We’re gonna have a really big year in 2021 and you guys were the ones who set the table for that.
Philip Blumel: One last thing Nick, are there any states where we did not pick up pledges at the state level?
Nick Tomboulides: Ooh. Is that a rhetorical question?
Philip Blumel: I don’t know. I don’t know the answer.
Nick Tomboulides: I think the answer… It’s possible we didn’t pick up any pledges at the state level in Hawaii, it’s possible. But there’s a silver lining to that because term limits for prosecutors in Honolulu were on the ballot and it passed with 80% of the vote. So Hawaii did not come up empty on election day for term limits, we still got something done there but if there’s one state it might have been Hawaii. And by the way if you need more to be done on the term limits front in Hawaii, I would be happy to fly out there for a few months and just take care of business.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another weekly episode of No Uncertain Terms. After an election year which saw voters send more term limits pledge signers to Congress and the state legislatures than ever before, US term limits is gearing up for the 2021 legislative sessions. As a No Uncertain Terms listener, you are a member of the inner circle of the term limits movement, what can you do to help in 2021? Let us know at termlimits.com/volunteer21. Sign up as a volunteer and answer some simple questions about what kind of work you’d feel comfortable doing to help advance the congressional term limits amendment. That’s termlimits.com/volunteer21. Hey and don’t forget to mark your calendars for Term Limits Day, February 27. Thank you. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 2: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Speaker 9: U-S-T-L.