Nick Tomboulides: We are fresh off the vote. Last week, local elections were held in a majority of big cities as well as several states which elected governors and state legislators. I take a look at some races where term limits were a factor. This is the week of November 11th, 2019 and you’re listening to the No Uncertain Terms podcast.
Stacey Selleck: Your sanctuary from Partisan Politics.
Nick Tomboulides: So Phil Blumel el president de term limits is on the road not able to join us today. So assuming host duties in his place, it is I the Art Garfunkel of term limits, Nick Tomboulides. Let’s just dig in right now, hot and heavy, and look at these election results. So a majority of large cities, a lot of small cities, as well as three states voted this Tuesday, November 5th. A lot of these were lower turnout elections. In a presidential election, around 55% of registered voters show up. In these off year elections, turnout can be very low. I know locally here where I live, my County in Florida I think had a 15% voter turnout rate on Tuesday. Single digits in some smaller cities/ around 30% turnout usually for these local elections in an odd numbered year. So very low turnout. A lot of people aren’t watching.
Nick Tomboulides: But the biggest story was Kentucky where incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear, by six tenths of one percentage point. They were separated by only about 5000 votes in a race where 1.5 million people cast ballots. Democrats are psyched about this, republicans are shocked if. You’re worried about term limits as a single issue, the world will keep on turning. And if you’re looking at this race through the lens of term limits though the governor elect Beshear is a promising guy. Take off for a minute the blinders of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in the early 1990s.
Nick Tomboulides: Remember, term limits is not a Republican issue. Term limits filed for divorce from Republicans in the mid 1990s after the party made a bunch of promises to us and broke them all. So we’re single now, we’re ready to mingle. We are a single issue and we’re nonpartisan. And what that means is you’re going to run into Republicans who suck on term limits because they’re career politicians like Mitch McConnell. And then you’ll run into Democrats who are great on it. And I would call Andy Beshear a Democrat who happens to be great on term limits. Since this is a nonpartisan podcast, I’m not going to get into the rest of his platform or what is rival Matt Bevin has to say about other issues. On term limits though Beshear is solid. During the campaign he released a comprehensive ethics plan that includes eight year term limits for all state legislators and Kentucky upon approval from the voters.
Nick Tomboulides: If you go on the website for Beshear, he even quotes US term limits in his plan. He quotes our organization saying 84% of Kentucky Ian’s want federal term limits. That is from a poll we did through McLaughlin and associates. So he says, this is a quote from Beshear, “By expanding term limits to cover legislators, we can start to end the cycle of corruption in Frankfort, the state Capitol. Implementing term limits will open up the legislature to a whole new generation of Kentucky leaders and ideas.” Well, I’m impressed by that. I think it’s obviously very savvy for a guy running for governor in a relatively conservative state to find issues that cut across party lines. And yet remember Beshear is 41 years old. He’s the second youngest governor in America, only older than Ron DeSantis, our governor here in Florida who’s also a major champion for term limits.
Nick Tomboulides: Imagine the potential impact if the young Democrat and the young Republican teamed up to help us get this done, you better believe that as a conversation we’re going to be having with both of them because at a time when this country is more divided than it’s ever been before and we’ve got hearings starting on impeachment very soon, we do need issues to bring us together. And there’s no better thing for a Republican governor and a democratic governor to do and stand on the front lines and say, we agree that Congress no longer functions. We agree that it’s time for a change and we agree that it’s time for term limits.
Jack Crumley: We are at Politicon 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee for iHeartRadio. I’m Jack Crumley. We have been talking with a variety of guests. Right now on with me is Nick Tomboulides who is with US term limits. Is this an organization that is in favor of term limits or is against term limits?
Nick Tomboulides: Well we are obviously in favor of term limits, we work on term limits at all levels of government, from Congress all the way down to dog catcher. We want to make elections more fair in this country. We want to put a check on the advantages of incumbency and we want to get a lot more fresh faces in ideas in public office.
Jack Crumley: So I would imagine that the biggest challenge for you and your organization is the idea of needing lawmakers to somehow be involved in setting limits on themselves?
Nick Tomboulides: Correct. Yes. We call this the chickens voting for Colonel Sanders problem in DC. But there’s an actual great work around. Article five of the constitution says that there are two ways to propose constitutional amendment. You can get a two thirds vote in Congress, which you’ve got the self interest problem inherent in that. But you could also get two thirds of States to do an end run around Congress by calling a convention. States can actually bypass Washington DC if two thirds of state legislatures say we want term limits on Congress. They can come together, they can write the amendment and nobody in Washington DC can do anything to stop it. So that is something that we are pioneering right now. We have already done this in three States. We’ve got Florida, Missouri and Alabama to call for it. There had been another 12 States that have called for a convention that would include term limits but would not exclusively be limited to that. And what we want is a convention that is limited to proposing term limits on Congress.
Jack Crumley: Are you guys in favor of term limits at the state level also?
Nick Tomboulides: Absolutely we are, we played an instrumental role in the 1990s and running a ballot drives in 23 States. For not just term limits on those states’ Congressman but also on their state legislatures. Unfortunately what happened was the Supreme court in 1995 decision, US term limits versus Thornton, struck down all of those term limits for Congress that are in state constitutions and state statutes. But what was upheld at least in 15 States is term limits on legislature. So we actually have an example. The states have been a laboratory of democracy on this issue where you’ve seen how term limits work. You’ve seen the way it creates competitive elections, you’ve seen the way it creates more fiscal health, more responsible budgeting.
Nick Tomboulides: All things that we should be hoping to see at the federal level if we can get this done. I think all of us know off the top of our heads. People we know experts, in different professions, people with real subject matter knowledge who could really go in and tackle a lot of the problems of the day, but they don’t really have the opportunity to serve because again, they’re blocked by the power of incumbency. They’re blocked by career politicians. We have a Congress today that’s not really diverse. 72% of members of Congress before they got to Congress were either professional politicians, professional attorneys, or both. That doesn’t really reflect the American people.
Jack Crumley: You want to give a website or any sort of social media or anything like that out there?
Nick Tomboulides: Yeah. The podcast is No Uncertain Terms and our website is termlimits.com, so if you go to termlimits.com you can sign our grassroots petition and you’ll be opted in to all of our updates about what’s going on around the country on this issue.
Nick Tomboulides: Moving on to other election news. Supporters of term limits are about to take the Mississippi legislature by storm. If you recall back in late August, we saw a historic victory for term limit supporters in the primary. We called it the Mississippi sweep to make the politicians weep. And what happened was in one day, 10 pro term limit candidates won their primary in Mississippi, including three who knocked out entrenched incumbents. It was a huge paradigm shift.
Nick Tomboulides: Well, we have an update now on that because Mississippi had a general election yesterday and the power of term limits there doubled. 20 yes, 20 US term limits pledge signers have officially been elected to the state legislature there. 13 house members, seven state senators, and one more could be coming, because there’s a recount underway in one of the house races. House district 40 where I think they’re only separated by a dozen votes.
Nick Tomboulides: What this means is the cavalry have arrived and these 20 people entering the Mississippi state house or possibly getting reelected to the Mississippi state house now with the term limits platform, that represents a powerful block which can propel forward the term limits convention bill in Mississippi. If you think back the history of Mississippi, the Mississippi legislature has already called for a convention to write amendments. And in the first draft of that bill, term limits was supposed to be included. It was supposed to be a convention on three topics, one of them was supposed to be term limits. But in an act of extreme shiftiness and shading this, the leadership in Mississippi pulled the term limits portion out of the bill. They omitted it to make sure that they could protect their buddies in Congress because there’s always this relationship between the state politicians and the federal ones, which is way too close for comfort.
Nick Tomboulides: The states don’t just have a way of taking power back from Washington DC. They have a duty to do it. The states are supposed to be the fourth branch of government. It says right in the constitution, right in article five that states can propose amendments through a convention. And there were supposed to be a healthy tension between the states and the federal government in Washington. But at least in Mississippi the lines have been blurred and the Mississippi politicians were carrying water for the folks in Washington.
Nick Tomboulides: The takeaway from what just happened is that will no longer be the case. There is now a small army of fighters in the Mississippi legislature to push for that term limits convention. We’re going to be monitoring that situation, Mississippi has the opening of its legislative session on January 7th and we are very excited to see what happens when the session opens. We have staff who are going to be on the ground there ensuring that the right thing gets done, that this bill for term limits on Congress not only gets filed but gets pushed forward through the process.
Nick Tomboulides: In local news, we have a good Florida man story. Florida men and women in three major cities voted overwhelmingly for term limits on Tuesday. In Miami beach, voters rejected a self-serving attempt by politicians to lengthen term limits so they could keep power longer. In Lakeland, Florida, home to the corporate headquarters of Publix, which I absolutely adore. Voters shortened term limits from 16 to 12 years, so that’s very good development. I think 12 years is still too long for term limit, but going from 16 to 12 is definitely a push in the right direction. And then finally in Clermont, Florida, the largest city in Lake County, voters approved brand new eight year term limits for the city council. And they did it with, get ready for this, a whopping 89% of the vote. 89% of Claremont residents approving term limits. Find someone who loves you, like voters in Claremont love term limits and you will be happy for the rest of your life.
Nick Tomboulides: These results surprise me a little bit because local elections with low turnout are usually ground zero for political scams. Local officials know they can fleece voters when few people are paying attention, so they work very hard to conceal what they’re trying to do. But in this case, as in most cases, the voters were a lot smarter than the politicians. The voters saw through the scams, the voters set things right and in the city of Claremont, the voters set term limits for the first time. Let’s hope this really becomes a model for the nation.
Nick Tomboulides: And by the way, good folks in podcast land, depending on where you live, if you want to put term limits on your local officials, your state might grant you the power to do that directly. You can get signatures on a petition. I believe 30 States have some form of initiative and referendum where you can circulate a petition locally to make changes to the law. If you’ve got a crooked mayor or a council getting in the pockets of lobbyists and developers, you have options. You might need a few thousand signatures, or in some cases only several hundred signatures, if your area is small enough. Sometimes you just need about five or 10% of the total number of registered voters in your area.
Nick Tomboulides: We have a lot of experience with this. We’ve got folks on our board here at US term limits who’ve worked with it for many years, such as Paul Jacob. Hit us up, termlimits.com. Contact us if you’ve got some volunteers willing to help. Change always starts from the bottom up, especially in politics. It’s never been truer than it is for term limits. If you’re looking to get something cooking at the local level, let us know.
Speaker 4: Paul Jacob is a board member of U S journalists and president of the Liberty initiative fund.
Paul Jacob: Breakthrough coalition working on expanding term limits, hollers the Lansing City post headline. Michigan’s legislative leaders, the Capitol-based paper informs, are working on a term limits expansion deal for state lawmakers. The conceptual plan, which won’t be finalized until December, would be that lawmakers could serve a combined 20 years in both the house and Senate before they would be broomed from office. Yes, you heard that correctly. The legislative bosses want a new term limits law, allowing politicians to serve 20 years in a single seat. 20 years is no term limit, it’s a cushy retirement plan. In unsurprising bypartisanship, Michigan’s NPR affiliate reports that Senate democratic leader, Jim Ananich, says lawmakers from his party could get on board. The Democrat added, “We’re not big supporters of term limits in the first place.”
Paul Jacob: The other big news is that the scheming is no longer confined to politicians and their cronies over at the Michigan chamber of commerce. The business lobby, that for three decades has curried favor with lawmakers by conspiring to undo the state’s voter enacted term limits. Now also plotting behind closed doors with Republican Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey and Republican house speaker Lee Chatfield, is the progressive union funded Voters Not Politicians group. He and the speaker who found a willing partner in VNP. A spokesperson for Shirkey acknowledged, “Unlike the unpopular chamber and politicians Voters Not Politicians, sports, a shred of grassroots credibility having led a successful 2018 ballot initiative on redistricting.” But that shred will only last until Michiganders find out that Voters Not Politicians has sadly morphed into politicians, not voters.
Paul Jacob: This is common sense. I’m Paul Jacob. For more common sense. Go to thisiscommonsense.com.
Speaker 6: This is a public service announcement.
Nick Tomboulides: Don’t be shy about asking your favorite congressional candidate to sign the US term limits pledge. You might feel like you’re asking him or her to do a favor, but the truth is the candidate, if he or she is a term limit supporter, will benefit from committing to support the popular US term limits amendment bill. Many candidates love to be photographed with pen in hand or even willing to sign on video. Candidate Beth Palato is a family law attorney and former judge who has announced her run for new York’s 27th congressional district. She aims to replace representative Chris Collins who has pled guilty to insider trading and other federal crimes.
Beth Parlato: Hi, if you’re watching this video, I know that you’re going to agree with me that it is time that we have congressional term limits. I’m happy to tell you that I’m going to sign today, right now, the U S Term Limits congressional pledge. Unlike the career politicians, I am not afraid to put into writing what I believe in.
Nick Tomboulides: Thanks for joining us for another episode of No Uncertain Terms. We cannot let the politicians, not voters coalition succeed in overturning the citizens will in Michigan. If you live in Michigan, please go to the save Michigan’s term limits action page at termlimits.com/michigan and send a message to your legislators right now. Tell them to keep their hands off Michigan’s term limits. Also, please forward this link to other Michiganders you know. You can also find the Michigan action page under the current actions tab at termlimits.com. We have to get ahead of this. Thanks for your help. We’ll be back next week.
Speaker 8: The revolution isn’t being televised. Fortunately, you have the No Uncertain Terms podcast.