2018 Presidential Election

So in what year do the states hold their elections for governor? I know the abbreviation of Reagan's second term led to some states shifting their election years (some, like Illinois, having *just* done it prior to 1986).
If you look at the current Governors list I posted last month, you will see the years for the next elections.
So in what year do the states hold their elections for governor? I know the abbreviation of Reagan's second term led to some states shifting their election years (some, like Illinois, having *just* done it prior to 1986).
Here's the schedule using years from a presidential election (PE):

+0 (22 states): Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin
+1 (5 states): Kentucky, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont
+2 (21 states): Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
+3 (2 states): New Jersey, Virginia

Wednesday, February 3rd 2020

Former presidential advisor Albie Duncan dead at 100

Decatur, GA — Albert "Albie" Duncan, who worked in the State Department for over 50 years and who advised presidents from Richard Nixon to Matthew Santos, died today at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Duncan had been admitted to the facility on Monday after having trouble breathing. Doctors have not released his cause of death at this time.

Duncan, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor upon his retirement from the Department of State in 2008 by President Santos, had a long and distinguished public career. Born in Cleveland on February 17, 1921 to a department store manager and his wife, Duncan excelled academically as a young man, earning a scholarship to Ohio State University upon his high school graduation in 1939. Seeing American entrance into World War II as all but certain, Duncan left college to join the United States Army in June 1941. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant only a weeks before Pearl Harbor, and worked as a staff officer in both the United States and later France during World War II.

After leaving the military as a captain in 1946, Duncan, with the recommendation of his former commanding officers in tow, enrolled at Yale University. He completed his degree in international affairs in 1949. A year later, Duncan joined the Department of State as part of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (now the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs) during the administration of Harry S. Truman.

Duncan gradually rose through the ranks of the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs. In 1972, Duncan advised Richard Nixon on the effects of his famous trip to the People's Republic of China had on Japan, the first of eight presidents who he would offer counsel to. After a clash with Carter administration officials, Duncan was reassigned to the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs in 1978, but moved to the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs (now the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs) in 1983 under Ronald Reagan.

In 1991, Duncan was named Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs by Owen Lassiter and in 1997 was promoted to the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Despite Duncan being a vocal Republican, he was retained in this role by both Josiah Bartlet and Matthew Santos until he finally retired in 2008 after 58 years at the State Department. Santos, presenting Duncan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, said that Duncan exhibited "an outstanding dedication to this country and its ideals" and "offered clear, thoughtful and frank advice to the commander-in-chief when asked."

After retirement, Duncan served as a foreign policy advisor on Santos' 2010 reelection campaign. He and his wife Carol (who died of breast cancer in 2014) relocated to her home town of Atlanta. The couple had no children. Duncan is survived by five nieces and nephews and nearly two dozen grand-nieces and grand-nephews.


Duncan in 2011 (photo credit: Hal Holbrook)
Is Sam going to be delivering the State of the Union on February 23rd? I only ask because that's when the actual President is making an address to Congress.
nbs.com, Friday February 5th

Norton-Stewart: "I'm in to win"

Confirming rumors that have been rife for the past few weeks and months, Ohio Senator Ruth Norton-Stewart, this morning confirmed that she will seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. The 61 year old made her announcement outside Grove City High School, the school she graduated from in 1977.

"After three years of drift under President Seaborn, it's become clear to me that we need to get this country back on the path to prosperity laid out by President Walken. The current administration has allowed the economy to stagnate and spent most of his time trying to pile taxes onto hard working Americans and small business. It's time to make a stand."

Norton-Stewart was joined at her announcement by her husband Jeff and three of her five children. Both of Norton-Stewart's sons Jeff Jr. and Colt are currently deployed overseas; Jeff with the US Army and Cole with the Marines. Her sons service was a central point of the Senator's announcement as she said "I'm inspired by my wonderful children everyday. I spoke to Cole and Jeff last night and told them that I was running - I make the American people the same promise I made them - 'I won't let you down'."

After an announcement that lasted around 15 minutes, Mrs Norton-Stewart took questions for over an hour from locals and was joined by fellow Ohio Senator Dylan Garrison who offered a full throated endorsement. "I can't think of anyone better to be the standard bearer of the Republican Party, Ruth will be a great nominee and a wonderful President of the United States."

The entry of Senator Norton-Stewart into the race is likely to fire things into high gear, she is expected to soak up significant amounts of the party's donor base - she has already received significant backing from prominent backers - and is expected to roll out a number of high profile endorsements in the next few days from across the party spectrum. With Texas Governor Adam De Haan most likely to pass, candidates hoping to stop Norton-Stewart will have to move fast to stop an unstoppable momentum from building.


Senator Norton-Stewart answering questions after her announcement.

Monday February 8th 2021

Senator Irving meets with fellow Senators to discuss "Stop RNS" Campaign

Illinois Senator Jasper Irving is understood to have had several of his fellow "moderate Republican" Senators over to his Springfield home over the weekend to discuss the upcoming Republican Presidential nomination battle.

After Senator Ruth Norton-Stewart's well received announcement on Friday, many on the "Vinick/moderate" wing of the party are worried that the Ohio Senator may build up unstoppable momentum even this early out especially with endorsements and more importantly money. This prompted Senator Jasper Irving to invite several of his Senate colleagues from the moderate wing of the party, to his Springfield home.

"Irving is worried that Norton-Stewart could run away with the nomination, with most of the big names not getting in, like Hunter, Ritchie and Butler" a Republican insider told NBS "He and others such as Senators Rojas, Buchanan, Stacy, Cabrera and Ryan think in a general election match-up with the President, she would get handily beaten in both the popular vote and the electoral college". With only two other candidates currently declared former Oklahoma Senator Alan Duke and former Michigan Congressman Gus Edwards "it leaves the field wide open for Norton-Stewart, but she needs a strong challenge from the moderate wing, she is to the right of Peter Gault on many issues, she could play well with the base, but in a national election she would lose, although it would be a massive gamble from Irving to run for the nomination, on paper it does like look like a mission impossible, but no-one should write off Senator Irving, he has the looks, he is a strong campaigner, but has shown he can work with Democrats (he gets on well with his fellow Illinois Senator Mitch Bryce), if he gets in, he might be the only chance to stop a Norton-Stewart coronation".

Virginia Senator Rob Buchanan had seemed very likely to run a few weeks ago after his intervention over the removal of the Robert E. Lee Statue from the Capitol, but his interest seems to have cooled and wants to get ready to fight for re-election in 2024, which would look to be a very close election. This has focused Irving on the possibility of running for the Presidency instead of seeking re-election to his Senate seat next year, he only won the seat in 2016 by less than 3,000 votes and as Illinois state law forbids a person's name to appear more than once on a ballot, meaning that Irving can not run for both the presidency and the Senate simultaneously he seems to heading towards the calculation that he may be better off running for the Presidential nomination rather than seeking Senate re-election.
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Peter Lien

Peter Van Lien (born Liên Văn Phêrô, March 13, 1968) is an eleven-term Congressman for the 22nd District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives, representing the outer area of Houston and formerly extending to Galveston Bay (although it has been redistricted farther inland following the 2010 Census).

Early Life
Phêrô Văn Liên was born in Saigon, South Vietnam in 1968. His father, My Văn Liên (1930–1975), was a lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Army. His mother, Claudine Thi Tran, born in San Diego in 1935, was the daughter of a French-American businessman, and retained her American citizenship during the Vietnam War and used it to successfully escape the nation and live with distant relatives in Houston, Texas. The Liêns left behind two of their five children, who grew up in Communist Vietnam with other relatives where they still reside today. In 1974 Phêrô Liên was six years old when his parents and two of his siblings arrived as refugees in the United States. Lien's father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and diabetes and committed suicide not long after arriving. Lien and his family were raised as Roman Catholics. He studied for several years after college to become a priest. He attended public schools and graduated from Jersey Village High School in Houston. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He studied as a Jesuit seminarian for six years, but withdrew when he concluded that the ministry was not his calling. He earned a Master of Arts in philosophy from Fordham University in New York City, and in 1996 his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans. While in law school, Lien also taught undergraduate courses in philosophy at Loyola.

Law Career
Lien used his legal training and experience in immigration issues. For a period he taught at a parochial school in Virginia. He volunteered at Boat People SOS (BPSOS) to assist Vietnamese refugees and immigrants and help organize Vietnamese-American communities in the state toward self-sufficiency. He served as a board member of BPSOS from September 1996 to March 1998. After working with Walker & Associates, Lien opened his own law practice in Galveston specializing in immigration law.

Dismayed by the military engagements in the Philippines, Lien became more involved in politics. He soon became involved in legalities surrounding the Filipino refugee crisis.

Lien ran unopposed in the Republican primary for the 22nd District of Texas, which was expected to be an easy sweep for former House Speaker Jim Cor in his 19th term in office. However, Cor unexpectedly announced his retirement late in the primary season, leaving a vacancy in the Democratic primary and leading Lien to win the election uncontested. Although he has faced nominal competition almost every year since, he has won with a larger margin every time. He faced no opposition in 2018 or 2020.

Lien is often considered the most moderate Republican in the Texas delegation. Raised Roman Catholic, Lien is strongly pro-life, but is otherwise considered socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and is an outspoken critic of global warming and proponent of shrinking the size of the American military and disengaging from involvement in outside conflicts. Crossing party lines, Lien maintained friendships with President Josiah Bartlet and powerful former Ways and Means Chairman Charles Howard and has served for many years on the Ways and Means Committee.

Lien held a favorable position with the Bartlet administration, and often feuded with his own Speaker, Jeff Haffley, in defense of many of Bartlet's proposals. He split with the administration over Gaza and Kazakhstan, but was a strong proponent of the Camp David Accord. He held a contentious position on many of President Santos's proposals, stemming, some say, from a personal disagreement when they were both Houston-area freshman Congressman in 2001, but he publicly denied any grievance with Santos on anything other than policy. Lien became one of the most surprising outspoken critics of the Santos administration, and its continued involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Lien's relationship with President Walken traces back to when newly elected Speaker swore in Lien on January 6, 2001, a well-documented event, with the Speaker, a Vietnam veteran, taking the time to personally get to know Lien, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the US Congress. The Walken-Lien friendship continued for many years, and Lien was reportedly on a shortlist to serve in key areas of the Walken administration, but declined to resign from Congress and his position within Ways and Means.

Personal Life
Lien is married to Ara Belt of Galveston, Texas and has four children, ranging in ages from 25 to 14, and one granddaughter. He maintains three residences in Galveston, Fort Bend, and Arlington, Virginia.


Freshman Congressman Peter Lien meeting with President Josiah Bartlet and his then-Chief of Staff Leo McGarry for a photo op. In the foreground is future President Sam Seaborn. (September 2002, AP/Getty Images)

Much of his early information is taken from Joseph Cao, OTL's first Vietnamese-American Congressman. Cao and Lien are close to the same age (Lien being explicitly a 34-year-old in his one scene, making him about a year younger than Cao), and both are Republicans.

The show would seem to imply that Lien is a Democrat, given his photo op with Bartlet, but that isn't necessarily the case. The 22nd District is later said to be heavily Republican and the Republican candidate favored to win three episodes after Peter Lien (identified as the 22nd District Congressman) appears, almost guaranteeing that Lien is the Congressman discussed in that scene. It's a potential continuity error, but easy to get around.

The show does not say where Lien emigrated from. It was my understanding (when I first mentioned it in 2010) that Lien was Vietnamese, and this was stated on the Wikipedia list once-upon-a-time. The current West Wing Wiki list (based off the old Wikipedia list) states he's alluded to being from China, although I don't see where that's the case. His emigration in 1974, from wherever, would most likely be a Vietnamese thing (for similarities, Joseph Cao emigrated with his family in 1975). Lien is a popular name in both China and Vietnam, although my personal belief is that Peter has Chinese ancestry.

The first name Peter fits well with a background in Vietnam's Roman Catholic community, where naming conventions often include Catholic saint's names. Peter (or Phêrô, from the French Pierre) is a very popular in the Vietnamese Roman Catholic circles. His Catholicism may also help explain his reverence to Catholic President Bartlet, across party lines, especially if we assume a certain reverence towards the American Presidency.

Information on Jim Cor has been previously established (by me), with the addition of the late retirement announcement. It is my belief that this was a shrewd political maneuver by Cor, who knew that anyone else running to succeed him would lose to a highly conservative Republican, and perhaps he knew (and helped) Lien get the Republican nomination knowing full well he would win the election.

In OTL, Texas's 22nd has been represented by eight people, including everyone's favorite lovable money launderer, Tom DeLay, since it's formation in 1959. In TTL, the district has been represented by three people, OTL's Robert R. Casey (1959-1965, he must've resigned early for some reason), then James P. Cor, Jr. (1965-2001)

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Long-time congressman Thomas Evers dies

The office of Congressman Thomas Evers (R-LA) announced that the congressman passed away this afternoon at his Arlington, Virginia townhouse. A spokeswoman for the congressman's office said that the 84 year-old congressman had been battling pneumonia for the past two weeks, but had seemed to be on the mend before passing away abruptly today.

Evers, who had been the dean of Louisiana's congressional delegation, was elected to his 20th term in November. He had represented Louisiana's third congressional district, based in the southwestern portion of the state, since 1983.

Speaker Mitchell Harris (R-IN) called it a "sad day for the people of Louisiana's third district" and called Evers a "dedicated public servant and patriot".

Governor Kevin Haynes (R) is likely to announce the date of a special election to fill Evers' seat in the coming days.



Monday, 8 February 2021

International community pans Haitian referendum results amidst violence

Officials from the international community have almost uniformly criticised the conduct of this weekend's referendum in Haiti and reports of violence in the country's capital of Port-au-Prince.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) released preliminary results showing that Haitian voters supported giving Michel Philippe, who took power in a 2018 coup that killed president Jean Daniel Innocent, a four-year term as president by a margin of nearly eighty percent. Both domestic opposition as well as international observers from the European Union and Organization of American States labelled the results as fraudulent.

"There are several arrondissements where CEP has reported more votes than the total population [of the arrondissement]," Willem Voorhoeve, the head of the EU's election observers. "That is just the most glaring violation of proper election procedures we have observed."

Scattered violence was reported in Port-au-Prince, with army units being activated to respond to demonstrations, fires and attacks on police officers. Journalists in Port-au-Prince and Haitian social media report the same things: anger at a repressive government that has done little to help the citizens of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, preferring instead to allow its members to line their own pockets via bribes and kick-backs.

Haiti has a long history of government instability; since becoming independent in 1804, it has had 24 different constitutions and suffered 35 coup d'états. It has not had an election that the international community has regarded as "free and fair" since 2001, when the winning candidate was forced to flee to the United States after a military coup overturned the election results and put a provisional president in place instead.
Retrieved from the Josiah Bartlet Presidential Library and Museum...


The text for the letters were drawn from the unsigned letters drafted in the midst of the Reagan assassination attempt. Considering that this event still took place in TTL (and would have been either the first invocation of Sections 3 and/or 4 of the 25th amendment), it would be safe to assume that the Bartlet staff simply looked at the same drafts I did for precedent.

Bartlet's signature (seen in Toby's pardon) is so similar to his ancestor's that it appears it was a deliberate move to have Martin Sheen copy it. His infobox from this thread carries the same signature as well.
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nbs.com, Tuesday February 9th

Clark Backs Norton-Stewart; "I think it's time that we put a woman in the White House"

Former Vice -President Elizabeth Clark broke cover with this morning and confirmed that she is endorsing Ruth Norton-Stewart's bid for the Republican nomination for President. Clark released a statement yesterday evening and appeared on a virtual town hall alongside Norton-Stewart to talk to Republican voters and donors in Texas.

"I've known Ruth for sometime and am delighted she has thrown her hate into the ring. I think it's time that we put a woman in the White House." Clark told over three hundred invited attendees. She added that "I know from experience how brutal this race will be but I know how strong the Senator is and think she is really well placed to win the nomination and to take the fight to President Seaborn."

Senator Norton-Stewart heaped praise on the former Vice-President, calling her a "pioneer" and saying that she had "beamed with pride when the Republican Party smashed the glass ceiling by making her Vice-President." The backing of Clark is thought to be the start of the roll-out of a number of significant endorsements designed to create significant momentum behind the Ohio Senator, who is starting to look a formidable candidate at the top of the Republican field.

Norton-Stewart was further boosted over the weekend with the indication that New Mexico Senator Michael Rojas is likely to pass on the race, increasingly thinning the ranks of viable contenders to face her. Campaign HQ in Columbus believe that a field of "low energy, long shots" like Alan Duke, "base repelling moderates" such as Jasper Irving and "nobodies" like Michigan's Gus Edwards are setting a table that Senator Norton-Stewart could very well run.

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

International elections to watch in 2021

With the 2020 midterms in the rearview mirror and candidates already throwing their hats into the ring for the 2022 election, it's easy to forget that there are important elections going on this year. Although, not in the United States, with the exception of gubernatorial and legislative elections in Virginia and New Jersey.

Here are the top ten countries with elections that you should pay attention to in 2021:


French voters will go to the polls on April 25th to elect the successor to Michelle Trenier, who has been president for the past decade. Trenier's low approval ratings have been dragging down her designated successor, former PM Bernard Trondeau of the conservative UMP, who is struggling to keep pace with other major candidates. Current premier Benoît Martin of the Socialist Party holds a slim lead in the polls over centrist Bruno Servien, a former minister in Trondeau's government, and far-right leader Christine Leveque of the National Front.

In the likely event that no candidate will win a majority of the vote, the top-two candidates will compete in a runoff scheduled for May 9th.


United Kingdom
Voters across the United Kingdom will vote in local elections on May 6th. The most anticipated and consequential election will be for the Scottish Parliament--the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) is leading polls against the hapless Labour government of First Minister Stuart Rossi. If the SNP obtain a majority of seats by themselves (incredibly difficult under Scotland's electoral system), then the UK could face the possibility of a Scottish government demanding a referendum on Scottish independence.

Separate from local elections, Prime Minister Richard Samuels, who has pledged to step down before the next general election is due in 2023, has reportedly been weighing resigning this summer. If he does, then his successor as prime minister will be whomever the members of his Conservative Party pick to be the party's new leader.


Unlike other countries on this list, Australia might not have an election in 2021: the current House of Representatives can theoretically last until January 2022. But it's almost certain that an election will be called before then.

Prime Minister Dominic Rodgers' Labor Party is polling in a dead heat with the conservative Liberal party after a tough term in office. Rodgers led the country through the so-called "Black Summer" saw fires burn 46 million acres in 2019-2020, and was left holding the bag when a long-awaited government report exposed several war crimes committed by Australian soldiers during the country's involvement in Qumar.


President Manuel Vargas' message of left-wing populism resonated with Mexican voters three years ago, even with concerns about his MORENA party's connections to the cartel leaders he vocally opposed on the stump. His government's controversial policy of removing the police and military from front-line fighting with the cartels in favor of negotiation has led to an uptick in violence, exacerbated by an economic slowdown. Now, voters will be asked to endorse his party during the midterm elections scheduled for June 6th.

All three major opposition parties are planning to run in an electoral alliance called Va por México ("Go For Mexico"), a step they say is necessary owing to Vargas' threatening of the democratic system as the concerns about MORENA's ties to cartels have seemingly been validated by several leaked papers showing a clear financial link between drug cartels and prominent MORENA fundraisers.


Iranians will have the opportunity on June 18th to elect the successor to president Azim Mirshahi, who is ineligible to run for a third straight term. Mirshahi, a faithful conservative supporter of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Afkham, leaves office a controversial figure. He helped implement the nuclear deal with the West to end the country's nuclear research program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, but enraged his conservative and nationalist base by becoming the public face for Iran's retreat from Qumar, a nation it claims as a "stolen province".

The Islamic Republic's political organization is unique, and a Guardian Council made up of Islamic clerics must approve candidates in order to run for the presidency. This has in the past excluded candidates who are too moderate or reform-oriented for the regime's liking and is almost certain to do so this year. If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff will be held one week later to determine the winner.


America's northern neighbor will also be headed to the polls this year for a federal election tentatively scheduled for October 18th.

Prime Minister Leslie Van Merhalls took over from popular prime minister Tim Gardner in 2018, and is looking to lead the Conservatives to a fourth straight election victory. But he is much less popular than his main rival, Liberal leader Kate Sansellfort (daughter of former prime minister Oliver Sansellfort), and the Conservatives' poll numbers have been sagging after a decade in power.


Holy City of Jerusalem
There will be change in the Holy City of Jerusalem as President Ben Sawahili, the first elected leader of the city-state, leaves office due to term limits.

On November 7th, Jerusalem residents will get to vote for his successor, and in a simultaneous referendum Sawahili championed. If passed, the referendum would create the position of "deputy president" to balance power between Jews and Muslims, who make up an overwhelming majority of the city's population.


Russia will have its seventh presidential election since the fall of the Soviet Union on November 14th. President Natalya Romanova will try to match all three of her predecessors by winning a second term in office.

Since the mid-2000s, it has become clear that Russia has drifted away from the other democracies in the G8 in both foreign policy and in its adherence to democratic norms. Romanova is all-but-guaranteed to win a second consecutive term that will keep her in office until 2027, and the question then will be if she has enough support among Kremlin powerbrokers to change the country's constitution to allow her to run for a third straight term.


In spite of concerns about his health, President Sergei Eliches announced that he will run for a fourth term in November 20th's presidential election. Eliches, who came to power after a democratic revolution, has turned on his former democratic allies and blatantly rigged his last election. There seems to be little doubt that this election will also be rigged.

Eliches is Russia's greatest ally in Europe and the diplomatic tension between Russia and Ukraine has in turn led to fraught relations between Belarus and its southern neighbor.


December 1st is the last date new elections can be held for Japan's House of Representatives, which will determine who will run the Land of the Rising Sun.

Ayeka Juchiro left office after an unprecedented seven and a half years in office and was replaced by Kanzuki Kamei. The question will not be whether Kamei's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has governed Japan for most of its post-occupation history, will win the most seats. Instead, it will be whether the party secures another two-thirds majority that would allow them to amend the Constitution without support from the opposition.
Out of random curiosity whose currently occupying Toby and Sam/Wills old offices
The office space is the same for the roles Toby & his deputies had in the Bartlet White House (i.e.- it's the same set layout).

So Toby's old office is currently Mark Sterns', and John Edwards has Sam & Will's old office.

Tuesday, February 16th 2020

Seaborn announces US and Cuba will resume diplomatic relations

Washington, D.C.—President Sam Seaborn today ordered the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in six decades. The surprise announcement, which the president characterized as "throwing off the shackles of the past", came as the result of nearly two years of negotiations with the Cuban government, facilitated by the Vatican, with meetings hosted in the Dominican Republic and Canada.

The negotiations, which included a prisoner swap negotiated by Pope Clement XV, concluded with a phone call between Seaborn and Cuban President Miguel Cueto-Díaz.

"We will end this outdated approach that has done nothing to advance our national interests," Seaborn said in a statement from the White House, "Instead, we will begin a new chapter between our two countries, no longer handcuffed by policies rooted in events that occurred before most of us were born."

The agreement will see the United States relax restrictions on remittances, travel, and banking, while the Cuban government has agreed to ease Internet restrictions and release nearly 60 Cubans identified by the United States as political prisoners. The president has said the country should "have a long and serious debate" about removing the trade embargo on Cuba that has been in place since 1960.

President Cueto-Díaz spoke simultaneously on Cuban television, announcing that he had spoken with Seaborn by phone.

"We have been able to make headway on finding solutions to the mutual issues that involve our nations," Cueto-Díaz said. Speaking of the return of three Cubans convicted of espionage in 1990, Cueto-Díaz said that "President Seaborn's actions deserve the respect and acknowledgement of our people."

Republicans in Congress were quick to decry the change, and announce their opposition to ending the embargo.

"This step by the president is based on an illusion and a lie," Speaker Mitchell Harris (R-IN) said in a press conference. "The illusion is that this new generation of Cuban leadership is less hardline than the Castros they replaced. The lie is that increased trade will bring about a change in the abysmal human rights policies of the anti-democratic regime in Havana."

Senator Kent Harris (R-WY), chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the move was "wrongheaded." "All this is going to do is ensure that the communist regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban lives, more means to manipulate and to tighten their grip on power."

On the Democratic side, only a few members of Congress openly expressed criticism of the new change in policy. Notably, Senator Alicia DeSantos (D-FL), herself the daughter of Cuban immigrants, said that the deal is "too lenient" on the Cuban government. "The United States should not have even thought of negotiating with the Cuban government without guarantees that the civil and human rights of the Cuban people will be respected." DeSantos said when asked.

More typical was the response of House Minority Leader Daniel Maddox (D-IL), who praised the agreement as "an end to a failed policy that has not served a purpose for decades."

Nearly three in five Americans support ending the embargo, according to an NBS poll published in May. A separate 2019 poll showed support among Cuban Americans is more evenly split, with 44 percent supporting ending the embargo compared to 48 percent that oppose ending it. Support for a change in Cuba policy is more popular among Cuban-Americans who immigrated after 1995 and the children of immigrants, while older Cuban-Americans and immigrants who arrived before 1995 prefer keeping the embargo.

Thursday February 18th 2021

A special Series: The 2022 Presidential Contenders

Number Three: Ruth Norton-Stewart

Ruth Norton-Stewart
Born Ruth Norton, February 17th, 1959, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

A member of the Republican Party, she served as a City Councillor in Columbus, Ohio, Mayor of Columbus, before serving as a member of the United States House of Representatives, and from 2017, a United States Senator. She is also a former TV presenter and businesswomen.

She is regarded as a strong conservative on social issues but is more liberal on issues such as public infrastructure and transportation. She regards herself as a “Walken Republican”. She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. As a conservative Protestant, she is pro-life. She opposes all abortions, unless the mother's life is in serious danger, and she opposes all embryonic stem cell research.

As Mayor of Columbus although she cut property taxes and reduced spending overall, she raised the city sales tax by a half a percent to build a sports complex and put more money into public safety projects such as improved street lighting and increased use of CCTV. She also supported the City Council’s efforts to allow the Central Ohio Transit Authority to open more bus routes in the City. She has supported the teaching of creationism, in public schools, alongside evolution, but she also said creationism “doesn't have to be part of the curriculum”. She is opposed to same sex marriage but has supported civil partnership’s and tax breaks for same sex couples. She has been an outspoken critic of what she has termed “old boys' network” and political corruption. In both the House and the Senate, she has intensely pursued drilling in ANWR and has twice sought to pass a bill with an energy plan including this.

At the age of three months, she moved to Ohio when her parents came to practice medicine in Franklin County. Her father Ken (1922-2008), was a pediatrician. Her mother, Hilda (Jones) (1929-2018), was a school nurse. After graduating from Grove City High in 1977, she became a television news reporter in Columbus, where she was commended for her coverage of the 1980 Presidential Election. She joined the new NBS Network in 1982, becoming a junior Washington correspondent. In 1986 she returned back to Columbus, becoming a freelance reporter and media consultant.

She entered politics in 1987, winning a seat on the Columbus City Council. In November 1991, she was elected Mayor of Columbus and was sworn into office on January 1st, 1992. Within four days of entering office as Mayor she announced that she would seek the Republican nomination for Governor, despite heavy criticism from many within the party for her decision to stand, just after being elected Mayor she came within 7,000 votes of beating State Senator Tom Halley who went onto lose against Josie Bail in the general election. She easily won re-election as Mayor in 1995 but she declined to seek re-election in 1999 and became the Chief Operating Officer of her husband’s commercial helicopter business.

Although out of office she remained an active member of the Republican party in the state and rejected offers to return to frontline politics over what she perceived to be the "lack of ethics" of many of her fellow Ohioan Republican’s including State Party Chair John Beritz, who was forced to resign over her allegations about his conduct. In 2004 she won the Republican primary for Ohio's 15th Congressional District, defeating State Senator Mike Ogonowski who had been a key supporter of Beritz, in a bitter campaign. She went on to win the general election in November 2004 by defeating incumbent Democratic Congressman Ron Paxman 54% to 41%. She was re-elected five terms, and in 2010 she was vetted by Glen Walken to be his running mate in the Presidential election. She was on the final short-list and was regarded as his number two choice after Texas Senator Liz Clark. In 20016 she was elected to the United States Senate to the seat vacated by Senator Haydn Straus defeating the Democratic candidate, former State Senator Justin Willis 54% to 46%.

Long regarded as protentional Presidential candidate she announced that she would be seeking the 2022 Republican nomination on February 5th, 2021. Her announcement speech was very well received, with many political commentators making her the clear front-runner for the nomination.

She married her high school sweetheart, Jeffery Stewart in 1983. They have five children: Jenna (born 1984), Linda (born 1986), Nora (born 1988), Jeff jnr (born 1990) and Cole (born 1994). Both Jeff jnr and Cole are serving members of the US Military, Jeff with the Army and Cole with the Marine Corps. The couple have seven grandchildren all born to their daughters.
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