Posts tagged with "Alabama"

NBC: Mitch McConnell’s U.S. ancestors owned 14 slaves, bringing reparations issue close to home

July 10, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)—who said recently that he opposes paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves—has a family history that is deeply entwined with that controversial issue: Two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, U.S. census records show, according to an exclusive report by NBC News.

The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county “Slave Schedules” in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

The details about McConnell’s ancestors, discovered by NBC News through a search of ancestry and census records, came in the wake of recent hearings on reparations before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,”McConnell said June 18, a day before the House reparations hearing. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African-American president.”

NBC News, in several phone calls and emails to McConnell’s office, asked if the senator was aware that his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners. The office did not respond to those requests.

Slavery experts have stressed that descendants of slave owners should not be held personally responsible for the deeds of their forebears. But they have also argued that the families that descended from slave owners, like McConnell’s, are likely to have benefited from the labor of slaves that propped up farm families in earlier generations — a point made by many reparations supporters, who have said that descendants of slaves were never compensated for the economic benefit their forebears made to white families.

“Smaller farms and plantations still benefited enormously from the unpaid labor of enslaved people, which likely helped them build multigenerational wealth,” Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington. DC, told NBC News.

Collins’ assertion is supported by research done by two American professors and one Danish college professor, who found that the Southern slave owners were able to rebound more rapidly economically than non-slave owners after the Civil War.

“We see recovery for the sons of both small and large slaveholders, as well as in the counties that specialized in non-plantation crops,” wrote the authors of  The Intergenerational Effects Of A Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners After The Civil War,” a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization.

McConnell has not mentioned—either personally, or in his 2016 autobiography, The Long Game—that his family owned slaves.

As a legislator, he generally has been supportive of civil rights measures—and he has said that his parents, whom he has described as “very enlightened Southerners,” opposed the rampant segregation that surrounded his family in northern Alabama

However, like most Republicans, he supported the narrowing of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in 2013, and has also been an advocate for strong voter ID laws. Both positions have been criticized by current civil rights leaders for making it more difficult for minorities to vote.

A strong supporter of President Donald Trump, McConnell has repeatedly refused to take up bills in the Senate that have been passed by the Democratic-majority House—earning him the nickname, Grim Reaper, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).

The slavery issue, as well as his reluctance to discussion reparations, will not aid his cause, as he stands for re-election in 2020 against Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and combat pilot who says that McConnell is to blame for the dysfunction in Washington. Indeed, in her announcement video, McGrath said that the majority leader had turned the capital into “something we despise.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Blue wave or bust? Today’s primaries may provide some perspective

June 5, 2018

California is not the only state holding primaries today although it has gotten the lion’s share of newsprint and posts on the subject. In fact, nationwide, June 5 will be the closest thing we get to a Super Tuesday in a non-presidential-election year, the news site FiveThirtyEight points out this week.

The following three states will hold primaries—and FiveThirtyEight has given us a heads-up on which races to watch:·

  • Alabama (2nd Congressional District): Republican Representative Martha Roby could become the next congressional incumbent to lose a primary this cycle. She put a target on her back, FiveThirtyEight believes, when she announced she would not support Donald Trump in the aftermath of the “Access Hollywood” tape scandal in 2016. Furious Trump supporters waged a write-in campaign against her that dramatically cut down her margin of victory—and they still view her as a turncoat. While her two Democratic opponents may not beat her in the primary, all they need to do is keep her from winning more than 50% of the vote, which would force a one-on-one runoff in July. This race could tell us a lot about the importance of absolute loyalty to Trump in today’s GOP.
  • Mississippi (3rd Congressional District): No matter who wins this  six-way Republican primary, the open seat is unlikely to figure in November’s battle for House control. The 3rd District is 26 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole, FiveThirtyEight says, so there will be no drama.
  • New Jersey (S. Senate; 2nd, 5th, 7th and 11th Congressional Districts): With five of its 12 congressional districts expected to be competitive in November, New Jersey is one of a handful of blue states that, alone, have enough vulnerable Republican seats that they could decide which party controls the House next year, FiveThirtyEight says. We all should be watching these results closely.

What’s more, the Senate race will be a cliffhanger: Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez was “severely admonished” in April by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting gifts from a wealthy friend, after a multiyear corruption scandal that ultimately ended with a mistrial and the government’s decision not to retry him. Although state Democrats have stuck by Menendez as he faces re-election, his legal trouble has left him unpopular with New Jersey voters. Menendez faces one challenger in the Democratic primary, Lisa McCormick, and her performance on Tuesday indicate whether New Jerseyans want to move on from Menendez’s scandal—or from Menendez, himself. Given New Jersey’s D+12 partisan lean, the Democratic winner will be heavily favored over the Republican nominee, who is likely to be wealthy former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin. Hugin has been campaigning on the platform that he will not bow to the whims of the current president, if he wins the job—but will concentrate on serving his constituency.

Research contact: @baseballot

American voters say Moore should be expelled, if elected to Senate

November 24, 2017

Most American voters think that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) should be expelled by U.S. legislators if he wins next month, according to findings of a poll released on November 21 in The Hill. .

Sixty percent of 1,416 of U.S. voters who responded to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday said the Senate should vote to remove Moore, should the GOP candidate win the December special election; while 28% said it should not.

Republicans were the only voter group in the survey to say Moore should not be expelled from the Senate, (49% to 33%), while the majority of voters in every other category of political party, gender, and education level said the Senate should remove him from office.

Moore is the target of accusations by seven women, who have come forward in recent weeks to allege that the former judge and prosecutor harassed and assaulted them—including one woman who said he had initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old and he was 32.

Moore has denied the allegations and remained in the Alabama Senate race, despite the urging of Republicans in Washington—except President Trump—for him to step aside ahead of the December 12 special election against Democrat Doug Jones.

On the issue of sexual harassment generally, a slight preponderance of GOP voters (43% to 41%) said they still would consider voting for Moore over his Democratic opponent.

Meanwhile, 62% of Americans overall said they would not vote for such a candidate and only 27% would consider it.

The survey was conducted by telephone between November 15 and November 20.

Research contact:  timothy.malloy@quinnipiac.edu