Philip Blumel: Andrew Yang is at it again. Hi, I’m Philip Blumel. Welcome to No Uncertain Terms, the official podcast of the term limits movement for the week of May 10th, 2021.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from partisan politics.
Philip Blumel: Yang caught the attention of term limits supporters when he was running for president in 2020, regularly calling for term limits on the US Congress. Now he’s back on the campaign trail, running for mayor of New York City and hitting the same theme, even better he’s not the only one. US term limits executive director Nick Tomboulides is with us once again to discuss. Hey Nick. Now, you and I are trying to get term limits, convention resolutions passed through the state legislatures, and that’s what we mostly talk about in this podcast, and that’s really the nitty-gritty work of what we’re doing at US term limits right now, but I have to tell you, I get really excited when I hear about term limits making a big splash in an important election across the country, and we’re hearing that in a couple right now and I think the most interesting is New York City, where we have a couple of candidates running to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio who is vacating his seat due to term limits, and these candidates are explicitly pro-term limits on the mayor and on the council.
Nick Tomboulides: Yes, well, local term limits have always been sort of the foundation of the term limits movement, this is not a top-down thing, it’s always been bottom-up, it’s always been people at the most local level pounding the pavement, getting stuff on the ballot, voting for it, and then watching that germinate upwards to the state level and beyond, and not to mention the fact that New York City is larger than many states, but it’s weird to think it’s only been 12 years since Michael Bloomberg, the grinch who stole term limits, pulled off one of the biggest scams in the history of politics, he repealed the voter-approved 8-year limit in New York City and replaced it with his own custom-made Emperor Bloomberg limit of 12 years, and the carrot he dangled for the City Council was, Give me 12 years, the rest of you will get 12 too.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, that was such a scam.
Nick Tomboulides: It was and they got away with it, but just one year after that, the voters restored the original eight-year limit by a landslide.
Philip Blumel: And that’s why this is so important with these candidates coming out explicitly for term limits, because the voters said in 1993, when they originally established term limits on the mayor and council, that they wanted term limits, then the politicians tried to overturn it. 1996, voters said again, nope. They reaffirmed it in another vote, that’s when Bloomberg and company pulled the scam in 2008, and so that could happen again because the courts let it happen, and even after the voters over and over said they want it, the Council and Mayor got together and pulled the plug on the term limits anyway. That’s why this is so important.
Nick Tomboulides: The only three certainties in life are death, taxes and politicians trying to repeal their own term limits, so the people of New York can’t rest on their laurels, despite the fact that just three years ago, the city voted again, 80% of the city voted for term limits on community boards of eight years, the people of New York love term limits, but that’s never gonna stop the greedy politicians. In fact, just three years ago, there was a councilman, this guy, Robert Cornegy of Brooklyn, he’s still on the Council, he was saying that term limits needed to be revisited and lengthened again because get this… This was his reason, council members were missing out on fully vested pensions when they were only allowed to stay for eight years.
Philip Blumel: Oh yeah, look who’s interests he’s looking out for.
Nick Tomboulides: Exactly, it’s great to see these candidates stepping out, supporting term limits, Andrew Yang, Shaun Donovan, Maya Wiley, they’ve made this commitment to protect the eight years. Yang is a political outsider, he’s the front runner here, he ran for president in 2020. Did better than anyone could have imagined. I met with him in New York City two years ago, and I found him to be genuinely a pro-term limits person, he told me he thought the article five convention idea of going around Congress was genius, he’s the front runner in this race, and so this is exciting news.
Philip Blumel: It is, and they aren’t just talking because we’re always throwing… Trying to get politicians to put their commitment in writing, and all three of these have signed a pledge that says, As mayor, I pledge to veto any legislation to repeal or lengthen the eight-year term limits to which elected officials in New York City are subject. So this is real deal, if one of these guys is elected, then I think that we feel pretty secure with term limits in New York City.
Nick Tomboulides: Yep. That was the hallmark of Bloomberg’s scam, going around the voters and doing it inside City Hall, getting rid of term limits, just using the city council with a good mayor on board who’s pro-term limits. That’ll never happen again.
Philip Blumel: Now, all three of these candidates are democrats. Is there any republican in the race? [chuckle]
Nick Tomboulides: Republican in the race? What are you talking about?
Philip Blumel: In New York city?
Nick Tomboulides: This is New York city we’re talking about here.
Philip Blumel: Bloomberg was a Republican. Bloomberg was a Republican and he won.
Nick Tomboulides: I think they made it illegal to run as a republican in New York city. These candidates are Democrats and there’s gonna be a snowball in hell before a Republican gets elected mayor of New York again.
Speaker 4: This is a public service announcement.
Philip Blumel: Texas state representative James White joined Kayla Lyons of East Texas Now to explain why he supports the term limits convention resolution that has been introduced in his state. The term limits convention bill is HJR 95 in Texas as language is identical to the resolutions that have already passed in Florida, Alabama, Missouri and West Virginia. Will Texas be next?
Stacey Selleck: And now we have a resolution concerning the US Congress term limits now, this is interesting considering that you’re a state lawmaker and this resolution impacts National lawmakers. Now, term limits are something that people on both sides of the aisle agree on, so what inspired you to try and make this official?
James White: The people. The people are crying out for this legislation. It was the state legislatures that created the federal government, and so the idea is that whether it’s state government or federal government, people believe that there is a little bit too much career-ism in the elected class in politics, and the idea is… Look, we’ve had a lot of great people to lead this country, okay? And some of those people are no longer with us. They have went on to the by and by, and folks like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and FDR and Ronald Reagan. Look, we’ve done well, we’re continuing to do well without them as they’ve gone to the by and by, and I think many people believe that there are some people that can also move along as well. Alright. It’s the idea that maybe after 12 or 14 years, you’ve done all of what you can do, there are other positions in government that you can hold and serve then, you can go back to your private life, to your business, to your family, and we can always make sure that we are invigorated in government with new blood.
Philip Blumel: There’s another race where term limits has reared its head down in South Carolina. We have a former democratic representative Joe Cunningham, spent one term in the Congress, and he’s turning around now and running for governor of South Carolina. Now he’s running against an incumbent, but as part of his campaign, he came out with a video, and one of his top issues is term limits, term limits on the state legislature, he actually said in the video, “And how about this? Let’s pass term limits to kick out the politicians in Colombia who have let us down for way too long.” I like it.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, and he’s certainly pointing at the right target here, as a country we’ve kind of entered the era of younger, more exciting governors, but there’s still some who are like these older prehistoric politicians and Henry McMaster, the incumbent in South Carolina is one of those. He has been holding different state-wide offices continuously since 2003, with one small break, he was Attorney General, lieutenant Governor, and unsurprisingly he is no fan of term limits, but Joe Cunningham, this democratic challenger certainly is. When he was in Congress until 2020, he co-sponsored the US term limits amendment. Now he’s calling for term limits on the South Carolina Legislature.
Philip Blumel: That’s great. Now, of course, he can do a lot for the effort to term limit Congress from the governor’s chair.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, I think the governor has a very powerful pulpit when it comes to the term limits convention, if the governor is a strong advocate for it, despite the fact that he doesn’t need to sign the bill, he can twist some arms in the legislature to make it happen. I do think though there’s a little bit of a misstep here in that Cunningham’s focus should be on getting the South Carolina legislature to pass the term limits convention, to term limit congress rather than term limiting themselves, because the odds are dismal that politicians will ever vote to term limit themselves. We learned that in Congress, it’s the whole reason to push…
Philip Blumel: And there’s no initiative in South Carolina. There’s no initiative process.
Nick Tomboulides: There’s no initiative, so as much as I love term limits for everyone and their mama, I love term limits for every office from president on down to dog catcher as a practical matter, he would be a lot better served pushing to get South Carolina to term limit Congress rather than itself.
Philip Blumel: Yeah, you’re right about that. Do we have the term limits convention bill introduced in South Carolina currently?
Nick Tomboulides: Yes, yes, it has been introduced and… Gosh, I don’t have the bill number on me right now, but we’ve been introduced and you can get that at termlimits.com/takeaction.
Philip Blumel: Okay, well, if you’re listening, representative Joe Cunningham, you can tweak your message a little bit, thank you very much for bringing up the issue of term limits in this campaign. Let’s make the governor answer.
Nick Tomboulides: By the way, in addition to Cunningham, there are a few potential Republican challengers to McMaster in the Primary. State Senator Shane Massey is rumored to be jumping in as well as businessman, John Warren, and both of them support congressional term limits, so it’s very likely that in the near future, this career politician McMaster will be quite outnumbered.
Scott Tillman: Hello, this is Scott Tillman, the national field director with US Term Limits. We ask candidates for Congress to sign a pledge that will help us get a term limits amendment into the US Constitution. That pledge reads, I pledge that as a member of Congress, I will co-sponsor and vote for the US term limits amendment of three house terms and two senate terms and no longer limit. Every two years when a new session of Congress starts, the term limits amendment is re-introduced. The current resolution is Ralph Norman’s HJR 12, in the House and Senate cruises SJR 3 in the US Senate. And we have 66 co-sponsors in the House, and 15 sponsors and co-sponsors in the Senate. At the same point last cycle, we only had 37 co-sponsors in the House and 14 co-sponsors in the Senate, so we’re definitely making progress. You can help by contacting your senators and your representative and asking them if they would sign the pledge and asking them to co-sponsor HJR 12 or SJR 3. For more ways to help, search US Term Limits on Facebook, then like and follow our national page and then search out the page for your state, and like and follow that page also. Thank you.
Philip Blumel: Where is Izzy Phil?
Nick Tomboulides: Izzy. Tim “Izzy” Israel, the man walking across the country for term limits. He made his way into Tennessee this last week, and I think that’s where he is right now.
Philip Blumel: Izzy-mania is running wild.
Nick Tomboulides: It is. It’s fun, it’s fun. We’ve been tracking him on whereisizzy.com.
Philip Blumel: I absolutely love this guy. He is… He’s the term limits tracker, he’s the principal pedestrian, he’s the symbol of truth, justice and the American way. And remember he started in Key West, Florida, 100 miles north of Havana, southern most point of the United States, and he is now in Nashville, Tennessee getting recognized by the Tennessee legislature for his efforts. He was recognized in a floor session of the Tennessee house this week, he got an ovation from the legislators, from everyone in the gallery. It was incredible.
Mike Sparks: Thank you, Mr speaker. I wanna recognize a gentlemen, Tim “Izzy” Israel. He’s been walking across the nation, if he’ll stand up, he’s up in the gallery, after becoming fed up with Congress, Washington is where he’s heading, to raise awareness for the need on term limits on Congress. He’s been drawing all kinds of media attention throughout this walk, so y’all give it up for Izzy Israel, thank you for your work sir.
Philip Blumel: Just think about it, when he started on this term limits trek, do you think he had any idea he’d soon be getting recognized by the Tennessee legislature for his efforts. That’s like a movie. That’s like the ending to a movie, you don’t see stuff like that happen in real life, but it’s just a testament to this man, Izzy, Tim “Izzy” Israel and his determination, I just love it.
Nick Tomboulides: He’s quite a character. He got up and started making this walk, we didn’t know about it, we didn’t put him up to it. We found out about it when he was already all the way up the peninsula, Florida and that, by the way, that’s a long walk. It’s a long drive. And then we found him, and we’re not the only people finding him, we have lots of media reports pretty much every other day on his progress and of course, there is the website where people are tracking him across the country, he’s a hero. He was recognized in Tennessee in the legislature by State Representative Mike Sparks, who’s a big term limit proponent there, and I thought it was great. We have video on YouTube of him accepting this recognition.
Philip Blumel: That’s awesome.
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s obviously proud and also he looks a little bit surprised. [chuckle] Izzy is great.
Philip Blumel: Not just a great term limits story, but a great American story. Thank you, Jeff Tillman also for being Izzy’s body man, and thank you Izzy for all you do. I just love this story. I wanna actually show up somewhere and walk with Izzy, I’ll probably make it like a quarter a mile or so before my knees give out, but…
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah, I know, I do too. Actually, it’s great, I hope he makes it all the way, it’s a long… I guess once you’re this far, you’re committed, especially now that he’s getting this recognition.
Philip Blumel: I would join them if they could hook me up with one of those electric Walmart scooters, the entire time.
Philip Blumel: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. The term limits convention bills are moving through the state legislatures, this could be a break through year for the term limits movement. To check on the status of the term limit’s convention resolution in your state, go to termlimits.com/takeaction. There you will see if it has been introduced and where it stands in the committee process on its way to the floor vote. If there’s action to take, you’ll see a Take Action button by your state, click it. This will give you the opportunity to send a message to the most relevant legislators, urging them to support the legislation. They have to know you’re watching. That’s termlimits.com/takeaction. If your state has already passed the term limits convention resolution or the bill has not been introduced in your state, you can still help. Please consider making a contribution to US Term Limits. It is our aim to hit the reset button on the US Congress and you can help. Go to termlimits.com/donate. Termlimits.com/donate. Thanks, we’ll be back next week.
Stacey Selleck: Contact your State lawmakers before they vote on term limits for Congress. Go to termlimits.com/takeaction.
Speaker 10: U-S-T-L.