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Tim Kaine: Policy Overview


Support for both a well-balanced economy which is environmentally stable. Is in opposition to the Keystone pipeline. Supports the Clean Power Plan and has attempted to raise awareness concerning rising sea levels on coastal communities. However, Kaine has supported offshore drilling in the Atlantic. Additionally, he supported to fast track the construction of natural gas terminals.  



Kaine seeks a defined path to earn citizenship. He is a supporter of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Also, he sees education as an important factor concerning immigration. Hence he wants to make it easier for international students to receive their green cards. Has spoken about ‘talent’ being a factor of immigration and that the US immigration system should attract and retain the most talented of immigrants. Also, support efforts to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)      



Kaine has taken the stance the higher education should be more affordable. He, however, has not advocated for any form of free tuition at a public college for everyone. He co-chairs the Senate’s Career and Technical Education Caucus and supports greater access to community colleges for career pathways. A Strong critic of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and advocate for ‘record’ investment in Virginia education.    


Budget and Economy:

Kaine supports the notion of a striving for a balanced budget. Believes in a negotiating a solution to budget challenges through both spending cuts, revenues, and entitlement reforms. He views education and national defense as key economic priorities. As Governor of Virginia, he claimed to save 5$ billion dollars in government spending. Spending cuts were made through switching financing, reallocating accounts and withdrawing money out of the states ‘rainy day’ fund. He serves on the Senate Budget Committee and supports biennial budgeting.  Voted for the FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act that set government funding levels for the current fiscal year and extended numerous tax breaks without fully offsetting the cost.  



Kaine is personally against abortion however he sees no need for it to be illegal. He aligns with the primary holdings of Roe V. Wade and supports public abortion funding. Furthermore, he backs a parental consent law which has a judicial bypass in Virginia. He is against partial birth abortions with the exception that if it endangers the life and health of the mother. Additionally, the “informed consent provision” in Virginia is favored upon by Kaine; it involves the requirement of abortion providers to give women specified information concerning alternative options and health consequences. Has a faith-based opposition to abortion that reflects his policy stances.


Gay Rights:      

Kaine fall follows a very similar line to Clinton when it comes to gay marriage. So similar that he did not support it in 2001 however is now an advocate for LGBT rights by the turn of the decade. As Governor of Virginia Kaine has opposed traditional marriage bills and supported legislation that reduces workplace discrimination. He has also spoken for letting gay couples adopt children.


Foreign Policy:

Introduced bipartisan legislation to revise the War Powers Resolution of 1973 as well as to authorize the current U.S. military mission against ISIL. Advocated for Congress to have a formal role in approving the Iran Nuclear Agreement and was proud to co-author the terms under which the House and Senate considered the Iran deal in 2015. Open-ended nature of the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Supports legislation that would repeal the Iraq AUMF approved by Congress in 2003.


Gun Rights:

A supporter of the second amendment and a gun owner Kaine believes in the right to bare arms with certain restrictions. In Congress, he voted ‘yes’ on banning high-capacity magazines of over ten bullets. During his time as Governor of Virginia, Kaine proposed a guarantee of strict enforcement of existing criminal laws. He also expanded the use of enforcement strategies such as Project Exile that target criminals who use guns rather than law-abiding gun owners.




Has had alternating views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Recently rejects the deal in its current form. Advocate for the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Kaine co-sponsored the Sugar Reform Act the created quotas and import tariffs to stabilize prices of sugar. 



Evolution of Superdelegates’ Influence in Presidential Primaries


At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week Bernie Sanders supporters have been rallying in an attempt to change the party’s rules on Superdelegates. This blog post outlines how Superdelegates emerged, the rules that govern them, and the arguments for and against their role in selecting the Democrat nominees for President and Vice President.

A quick history of Superdelegates

After a fractious 1968 Democratic Convention when the party elite nominated the pro-Vietnam War candidate, Hubert Humphrey, over anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy – supported by many grassroots members – in 1970 the Democratic Party introduced an open caucus process, giving all members of the party an equal vote on the nominee.

However, over the course of the next three elections the Democratic Party suffered two Presidential landslide losses. First, in 1972, anti-war Senator George McGovern (S.D.) suffered an unprecedented 49-state defeat to Richard Nixon. Then, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan by 10 percent of the popular vote. The Democratic Party used the two failed candidates as scapegoats – arguing that the nominating process of Presidential candidates should be back in the hands of the party leaders.

Superdelegates were installed within the party to act as a guiding hand that ensured candidates be ‘electorally robust.' They were originally intended to represent 30% of delegates at the national convention, however, during the 1982 convention only represented 14% of delegates. From this point in time, the number of Superdelegates have since undergone incremental growth—reaching 20% of total delegates in 2008. However, it should be noted that the percentage decreased to 15% in 2016.


Current Rules behind Superdelegates

The DNC’s 2016 regulations for Superdelegates are contained within Rule 9.A of the Delegate Selection Material document. Superdelegates include:


  • “The Democratic President and the Democratic Vice President of the United States, if applicable; and


  • All Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives and all Democratic members of the United States Senate; and


  • The Democratic Governor, if applicable; and


  • All former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.”

Each of these individual Superdelegates represents only themselves when it comes to deciding the nominee. Superdelegates have the same voting power of a single delegate. However, Superdelegates are not required to vote by caucus or primary election results. This selection process makes Superdelegates autonomous over whom they choose to nominate.


Arguments for and against changing the Superdelegate rules

The case for moving away from the current Superdelegate rules has historical context – see the previous section on 1968 Democratic Convention – and contends that the influence of Superdelegates in the nomination process continues to be undemocratic. This argument prioritizes the collective will of the party over the established elite members.

However, the argument for supporting Superdelegates centers on electability and need to make the nomination process pragmatic for the future success of the party. Without Superdelegates, it is argued, the party would be open to hostile takeover that could undermine its core values. Superdelegates function to maintain the status quo and are required to ensure a ‘fair’ fight between candidates.


Get involved

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Vote Spotter convention coverage blog -- it's all Trump

Our plucky new cub reporter was in Cleveland and whipped up this for VS:

Michigan delegates converged on Cleveland to support their respective candidates and the Republican National Committee's platform. Several Michigan delegates talked to Vote Spotter about what issues matter to them and why they're supporting Donald Trump, who accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday night.

Tamara Carlone, who was elected by the 11th congressional district as a Kasich delegate, supports the New York businessman and said the RNC's platform is more conservative than previous conventions.

“The RNC platform that’s been passed is very strong. It’s even more conservative than before, which I love," she said Tuesday. "I especially love the part on education and marriage."

"My candidate is Donald Trump. He wants to make America great again," Carlone added. "He wants to go back to founding principles and he wants to keep our nation safe."

Other issues important to Carlone are national security and supporting law enforcement officers.

"I have kids, I want them to be safe and I don’t want to have to worry about our cops getting shot and this type of thing, and I do believe once it’s said and done that [Trump] will unite us."

Don Evan, a delegate from Novi, said liberty-related issues, the Fourth Amendment, and immigration are most important to him.

"My biggest issues that are important to me are the liberty agenda and bringing us back to the constitution -- Fourth Amendment issues are really big for me, cell phone spying, things like that."

"I support Donald Trump because I really do think he's going to make America great again, policy wise," he said. "Immigration is obviously what he hit on hard and I think he's going to actually do it. No one else is talking immigration. Also, to them its just rhetoric."

Lauren Burress is a delegate from West Bloomfield who also pledged support to Trump prior to his official nomination, citing border issues.

"My candidate is Trump and it's because of the border issues. I'd like to see a wall. But also the northern border is very important," she said. "Nothing has changed, it's gotten worse."

Wes Nakagiri of Hartland cited trade and immigration as reasons for supporting Trump.

"I like [Trump's] position on immigration; I'm a fan of the wall," he said. "I like his position on trade. I don't think we really have free trade, I think we have managed trade. I think America is getting the short end of the stick on managed trade."

Marian Sheridan, alternate delegate for Donald Trump from West Bloomfield, said the RNC platform's section on simplifying the IRS and repealing the Johnson Amendment are important to her.

"What I like about the platform is the section on the IRS," she said. "I think it's very important that the code be simplified. I think that helps to de-weaponize the IRS."

"I like the repeal of the Johnson Amendment that's recommended in [the RNC platform] because I think it limits free speech of non profits. I think that's really important for non-profit organizations to have that freedom," Sheridan added.

Derek Draplin
CapCon Reporter

Who is Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Governor Mike Pence?


Mr. Pence is opposed to granting amnesty for people who have come to the United States without authorization. He has supported increased border security measures, strict enforcement of laws prohibiting unauthorized residents from working in the United States and a government-run guest worker program that would place prospective immigrants with employers who cannot find American workers to fill open jobs. Earlier this year, he sought to bar the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state.

Gay Rights

Mr. Pence, who has supported numerous legislative efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana, was at the center of the national debate over so-called religious freedom laws that critics said could make it easier for businesses to refuse service to gay couples. As a congressman, Mr. Pence opposed federal funding that would support treatment for people suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS, unless the government simultaneously invested in programs to discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships. He also resisted changes to hate-crime laws that that would have included acts against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and he opposed the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a Clinton administration policy that allowed closeted L.G.B.T. people to serve in the military.


As governor, Mr. Pence signed into law several regulations that add broad limits to women’s access to abortions. He approved a bill in March that outlawed abortions based on a fetus’s “race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” The bill led to backlash on social media from opponents of the regulation. Mr. Pence also called for an investigation of Planned Parenthood after footage leaked by abortion rights opponents that outraged many abortion rights advocates. The videos turned out to have been altered by the people who released them and the videographers were later indicted on a charge of tampering with a government record.

Foreign Policy

Mr. Pence’s foreign policy views mesh well with Mr. Trump’s “America First” framework, which is built around the idea of a robust American military. The Indiana governor called for big increases in military spending during a speech in 2015 and he has criticized Democrats who do not use the phrase “Islamic extremism” when discussing jihadists. As a member of Congress, where he was on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Pence was a strong supporter of Israel and a proponent of tough interrogation measures for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Mr. Pence voted to authorize military action in Iraq in 2002 and opposed proposals to set a date to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Gun Rights

Mr. Pence has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, which has financially supported his campaigns for the House and for governor. He supports a national right to carry a firearm in public and in 2004, as a member of the House, he voted to repeal gun control laws in Washington, D.C. He wrote on Twitter in June that he “will always be a strong proponent of the Second Amendment.”


Mr. Pence has said he supports free trade, but he has also raised concern over the enforcement of trade agreements with China. Specifically, he asked the federal government to investigate allegations that Chinese steel companies were dodging tariffs in deals with American businesses. As governor, Mr. Pence visited nations like Japan and Germany on trade missions meant to stoke Indiana’s trade relationships with international businesses.

Economy and Budget

The Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning group, called Mr. Pence a “champion tax cutter” and lauded his “frugal” spending record. As governor, he repealed Indiana’s inheritance tax and lowered taxes on corporate income and business property. In 2010, Mr. Pence proposed a bill in the House that would have instituted a limit on federal spending, but the idea did not have enough support to pass.


In 2015, Governor Pence threatened to disobey the Obama administration’s orders to lower carbon emissions unless the regulations underwent extensive changes. Mr. Pence said the regulations would “raise electricity costs on Hoosiers, result in less reliable electricity and impede economic growth and prosperity in Indiana and the rest of the country.” He said the Clean Power Plan was “ill conceived and poorly constructed,” and he accused the Environmental Protection Agency of going beyond its legal authority in enacting the rules under the plan. Under Governor Pence, Indiana joined several other states that have tried to block the Clean Power Plan in court.


Mr. Pence was one of only 25 Republican congressmen who voted against President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy. As governor, he challenged conservative Republicans in the State Senate to support legislation to establish a preschool program that would primarily serve children in poor families. He vocally supported school choice, locally set learning standards, and pushed to direct state support toward technical and vocational education programs.

Pat Toomey's sanctuary city bill fails to advance

The Senate failed to pass Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s legislation to bar some federal funds from cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws. Do you think that cities, which are under no obligation to enforce federal law, should be denied funds if they do not cooperate with deportation requests from the federal government?

Legislature grants special license plate fundraising privileges to select nonprofits

One of the methods lawmakers use to associate their names with certain interests or causes: granting select nonprofits the privilege of using specialty license plate sales to raise money. Here is a list of the bills from the current legislative session authorizing this for certain groups or causes:


House Bill 5586: Authorize autism specialty license plate; give profits to advocacy group

Introduced by Rep. Tom Barrett (R), to authorize a specialty license plate promoting autism awareness, and give the profits to a private advocacy organization. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 808: Authorize new specialty license plate; give profits to MADD

Introduced by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R), to authorize a new specialty license plate, with the profits given to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5349: Authorize a no-kill animal shelters license plate; give profits to advocacy group

Introduced by Rep. Charles Brunner (D), to authorize a specialty license plate promoting animal shelters that don’t use euthanasia, and give the profits to a private organization campaigning for this. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5224: Authorize a prostate awareness license plate; give profits to advocacy group

Introduced by Rep. Paul Muxlow (R), to authorize a prostrate cancer awareness specialty license plate, and give the profits to a particular foundation named in the bill (PCUPS Foundation). Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5204: Authorize new specialty license plate; give profits to libraries

Introduced by Rep. Edward McBroom (R), to authorize a new libraries specialty license plate, with the profits delivered public libraries. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5108: Authorize a snowsports industry license plate; give profits to industry group

Introduced by Rep. Lee Chatfield (R), to authorize a snowsports industry specialty license plate, and give the profits to a trade and lobbyist organization called the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5083: Authorize new specialty license plate; give profits to Knights of Columbus

Introduced by Rep. Peter Lucido (R), to authorize a new Knights of Columbus specialty license plate, with the profits delivered to that organization. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5082: Authorize new specialty license plate; give profits to Lions Club

Introduced by Rep. Peter Lucido (R), to authorize a Lions Club specialty license plate, with the net revenue going to the Lions Club. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 4932: Authorize a Kiwanis specialty license plate; give profits to Kiwanis Club

Introduced by Rep. Peter Lucido (R), to authorize a Kiwanis Club specialty license plate, with the net revenue going to the Kiwanis Club. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 367: Authorize a Thin Blue Line specialty license plate; give profits to advocacy group

Introduced by Sen. Mike Nofs (R), to authorize a Thin Blue Line specialty license plate, with the net revenue going to the “Thin Blue Line” organization, to be used solely to assist and support the families of injured or deceased law enforcement officers within the state. Reported from committee, pending before full Senate.

Senate Bill 308: Authorize black Greek letter organizations specialty license plate; give profits to United Negro College Fund

Introduced by Sen. Coleman Young, II (D), to authorize a specialty license plate honoring several African American fraternities and sororities specified in the bill, with the premium revenue going to the United Negro College Fund. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 264: Authorize wild turkey specialty license plate; give profits to advocacy group

Introduced by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R), to authorize a specialty license plate honoring the National Wild Turkey Federation, with the premium revenue going to that organization. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 223 and House Bill 4360: Authorize Women’s Health license plate; use profits for government programs

Introduced by Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D) and Rep. Pam Faris (D), respectively, to require the Secretary of State to develop a Women’s Health license plate, with fees collected from its sale added to amounts spent for government programs to reduce unintended pregnancies, reduce child obesity, reduce sexually transmitted diseases and more. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 4348: Authorize Girl Scouts specialty license plate; give profits to Scouts

Introduced by Rep. Pam Faris (D), to authorize a specialty license plate honoring the Girl Scouts of America, with the premium revenue going to that organization. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

Senate Bill 186: Authorize professional sports teams specialty license plates; give profits to team charities

Introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas (R), to authorize a specialty license plate for professional sports teams, including the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Tigers and the Michigan International Speedway. Proceeds from the sale of the license plates would go to charitable organizations created by these entities. Passed 35 to 1 in the Senate on May 26, 2015, referred to House committee.

Senate Bill 76: Authorize new specialty license plate; give profits to private organization

Introduced by Sen. Vincent Gregory (D), to authorize a new women veterans specialty license plate, and turn over the profits to the American Cancer Society. Referred to committee, no further action at this time.

House Bill 5447: Cap the number of fundraising specialty license plates

Introduced by Rep. Peter Pettalia (R), to cap the number of specialty fundraising license plates at 10, and revise details of this program including the amount an interest must pay to get this privilege, and how many of their plates must sell each year to keep it. Passed 90 to 18 in the House, referred to committee in the Senate.

House returns to resume a bitter fight over gun control

Congress will be taking up gun control this week. Do you support banning people placed on certain government lists, but who have not been arrested or even charged with a crime, from being able to purchase firearms?

Gov. Scott Walker at odds with Assembly Republicans over how to fix road funding shortfall

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is standing firm against raising the gas tax without cutting taxes elsewhere. Some legislators are pushing to increase the gas tax to fund already-scheduled projects. Do you support a higher gas tax if there are no offsetting cuts in other taxes?

The Supreme Court’s Conservative Run Is Over

With recent decisions upholding affirmative action and striking down abortion restrictions, some say the Supreme Court’s conservative era is over. Do you think it is proper to look at the court as having a “conservative” or “liberal” tendency? Is the court too politicized, or are political considerations inevitable on controversial questions?


Sen. Bob Casey does an 'about-face' on gun-control, report

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, once an opponent of gun control, says his views on this issue are changing. He is now willing to support some gun control measures, such as banning rifles with military-style features. Do you think Sen. Casey is on the right track? Or is he simply bowing to public pressure?

Sen. Mark Warner: How Brexit Threatens American Trade

According to Virginia Senator Mark Warner, “Regardless of the Brexit vote, global trade remains essential to America’s economic durability and leadership in the world.” But he also says that the government should do more to assist those negatively affected by trade. What do you think? Is global trade a net win for the U.S.?


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