All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
May 20, 2014
Guest: John Yarmuth, Jess McIntosh, Stacey Adams, Ben Domenech, Thomas
Frank, Rebecca Traister, McKay Coppins
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
The Bluegrass State is in the spotlight because it is election night
in America. With big races in six states and polls have already closed now
in Georgia and Kentucky where there are two big marquee races. Voters`
decisions this evening will have huge consequences for whether Republicans
take the Senate this fall, and we have it all covered for you tonight.
Plus, we have another installment in our weeklong series "All in
America". We`re going back to the heartland to look at education. And the
great author Thomas Frank is here to talk about what continues to be the
matter with Kansas.
But, first, in Georgia the polls have closed in the crowded Republican
primary with seven contenders battling to get into the run-off against a
Democrat, Michelle Nunn, who is actually one of the Democratic Party`s best
two shots at taking away a Republican Senate seat.
And in Kentucky, the other state where a Democrat has a shot at taking
out the incumbent Republican senator, polls have closed. And Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has prevailed against his primary
challenger Matt Bevin, as has McConnell`s Democratic challenger, Kentucky
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in her primary.
We`ll have much more on that tough McConnell/Grimes face-off, which
will be the one so many of people are watching in this election.
We`ll be covering all the results of the six key primaries as they
roll in throughout the evening. In Pennsylvania, a hotly contested primary
to be the Democratic nominee to take on a man who may very well be the
worst governor in America, Tom Corbett, who after pushing through a right-
wing agenda is under water in the eyes of Pennsylvania voters, who
disapprove of his job performance by a whopping 25 percent -- 25-point
In Arkansas, another vitally important senate face-off, voters are
expected to nominate Republican Congressman Tom Cotton to face off against
the expected Democratic nominee, the incumbent Senator Mark Pryor.
Meanwhile, the Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson who
supports voter ID forgot his own and had to dispatch a staffer to retrieve
In Oregon, where polls close later this evening, the Republican battle
to take on Senator Jeff Merkley has been a bizarre, ugly contest on the GOP
side with 911 tapes being released and accusations of stalking.
And, of course, the most entertaining primary in all of America in
Idaho, where this man is on the ballot as we speak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLEY BROWN, IDAHO GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: As it says on my
motorcycle club, hey diddle, diddle, right up the middle. That`s my style.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The marquee race of this evening centers on this man, Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who, in his fifth term as senator, is in
peril. McConnell is the man who represents the state that just four years
ago gave us the Tea Party senator, par excellence, Rand Paul, a man in
Mitch McConnell who has presided over scores of minority led filibuster who
even once filibustered his own bill -- the man who famously and infamously
said this about President Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Our top political
priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That man, the obstructer in chief, Senator Mitch McConnell, is
fighting to avoid making an ugly kind of history. He is trying to avoid
becoming the first minority leader in the long history of this great
republic to lose his race while the opposition party is occupying the White
That ugly precedent is what Senator Mitch McConnell finds himself
desperately trying to avoid. And tonight, he survived the very first test
against his primary challenger Matt Bevin. But McConnell will go on to
endure the most difficult election he`s ever faced in a state that
President Barack Obama lost by 23 points and that elected Rand Paul by 12
points, a state that Mitch McConnell knows every inch of and should win
walking away, a state that has also expanded medicate implementing
Obamacare more than any conservative state in the country.
And so, Mitch McConnell now faces the fight of his political life
against the young, charismatic, very well-funded Democratic challenger,
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. We hope to be hearing
from her in just a bit.
The politics right now of Kentucky are more fascinating than almost
anywhere else in the country. They seem to be completely upside-down and
turn around. And the Senate race between Mitch McConnell and Lundergan
Grimes will prove to be a fascinating one down the stretch.
Joining me now, Congressman John Yarmuth, Democrat from Kentucky, and
Jess McIntosh, communications director of progressive PAC, Emily`s List.
And, Congressman Yarmuth, I`ll start with you. There was a lot of
talk early on about the Senate Conservative Fund and big Tea Party money
flowing into Matt Bevin who was going to take on Mitch McConnell who was a
symbol of the establishment the Tea Party hated and not much came of that
REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), KENTUCKY: No, I think you`re right, Chris.
But, you know, Matt Bevin made some mistakes early on. He appeared at a
cockfighting rally and apparently appeared to endorse cockfighting. Made
some very tactical mistakes and turned out not to be the great candidate
that a lot of people thought he would be.
But, you know, in a major poll released over the weekend, 39 percent
of Matt Bevin`s voters said they would not vote for Mitch McConnell in
November, 25 percent said they would vote for Alison Grimes. And I think
the critical factor is Mitch McConnell spent $12 million of his money, has
not budged his poll numbers at all. He`s still in the low 40s against
Alison Grimes and hasn`t been able to do anything to enhance his standings.
So, it`s going to be a very, very competitive race with 56 percent job
disapproval that he has. I think he will have a very tough sledding in the
HAYES: Just so folks know that was Matt Bevin there. He was offering
his concession. He was the Tea Party challenger who has come up short this
evening in his challenge of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the
state of Kentucky.
Jess, do you buy that polling that says that folks -- a certain
significant percentage of the Bevin voters are so disgusted with Mitch
McConnell they will not vote for him in the general, particularly when you
look at the kind of falling in line you`re seeing very early on from some
of the big Tea Party voices in the right-wing media tonight?
JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Look, Mitch McConnell is one of the
least liked senators in the country. You don`t get to just a 29 percent
approval rating if only the members of the opposite party dislike you, you
have to have some real discontent within your own party in order to reach
numbers that low.
So, I think he has a lot of work to do to pull Republicans together
and I think that 12 million number is really important. That is three
times the average a Republican senator spends before the general. The last
senator to spend more than $10 million before his general race was Senator
Scott Brown who lost in Massachusetts.
I mean, Mitch McConnell is not going into the general in a strong
position, and he`s against someone who is going to be the strongest
candidate he`s ever been up against.
HAYES: Why is that the case? I mean, I`ve been looking at Lundergan
grimes. I know that she has deep roots in the state. She`s got good
family connections. She`s been raising money. She`s won statewide.
That is her right there that you`re seeing. This is just file footage
we`re showing. This is not live.
But why is she going to be such a strong candidate, aside from the
fact she can raise a lot of money and she`s won statewide?
MCINTOSH: She is running one of the best campaigns in the country
right now. I mean, she is working as hard as anybody out there, and she is
just Kentucky through and through. Like the contrast that she provides
with Mitch McConnell who is such a creature of Washington. He actually
resembles the capitol dome. It`s something that I think really appeals to
She`s a new face, and she cares with about Kentucky. She is speaking
about Kentucky jobs. Mitch McConnell has actually said that it is not his
job to create jobs.
So, contrast couldn`t be any clearer and I think that`s why people are
responding to her.
HAYES: Congressman, it was striking to me that McConnell actually
didn`t seem to make much of the Bevin challenge because if you look at his
ads even in the primary season, they have been very targeted at a kind of
general election audience and very much about how much Mitch McConnell
cares about the voters of Kentucky, very kitchen table, almost, to be
honest, if you looked at them you would think it was a Democratic Senate
candidate, frankly, talking about how he`s helped the people of Kentucky.
That makes -- leads me to believe Mitch McConnell understands that the
people of Kentucky, however they vote in the presidential election, are
hurting and are looking for some help.
YARMUTH: I think from basically a year ago, everything that Mitch
McConnell has done has shown that he understands very well where he is
vulnerable, whether it`s bringing his wife, Elaine Chow, with him to
events. He understands he`s very vulnerable with women. All of these
pandering ads talking about his sensitivities even though he`s voted
against policies, voted against raising the minimum wage, voted against the
Violence Against Women Act, voting against extending unemployment benefits,
talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act, root and branch, which he
somewhat moderated now.
But, you know, he understands where he`s vulnerable. He`s a very
smart guy. I`ve known him a long time. The problem is those
vulnerabilities are real. Alison Lundergan Grimes represents a vivid
contrast to him.
And the most important thing about Alison as a candidate is she is
tough. She will not be bullied by Mitch McConnell which has been his M.O.
for his entire career. It`s going to be a very, very fascinating campaign.
I look forward to the debate. If Mitch McConnell agrees to debate
her, which I have questions about, she will destroy him because he cannot
defend his record.
HAYES: Well, what will be really interesting is Kynect, which is the
name for Obamacare in the state of Kentucky, which is popular there, will
also be on the ballot in a way.
Congressman John Yarmuth and Jesse McIntosh from Emily`s List -- thank
you so much for joining me tonight. Really appreciate it.
YARMUTH: Thanks, Chris.
MADDOW: All right. Coming up, the Tea Party has come a long way in
the past five years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There`s not that big
a difference between what you all call the Tea Party and your average
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One of the definitions we have for Tea Party candidate has it
all wrong. That`s next.
HAYES: You are looking at live coverage of the headquarters for
Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state who win wins the
nomination for the Democrats tonight to take on Mitch McConnell who won his
primary in the Republican Party in the state of Kentucky in what is set up
as one of the biggest, most ferocious battles of this entire election
Coming up, we expect to hear from both of them hopefully. Our primary
night coverage will continue.
Plus, the second installment of our special series "All in America" on
the road in the conservative heartland. Tonight, we`re taking you to a
small town in Kansas called Marquette. Well, thanks in part to Republican
Governor Sam Brownback`s education cuts, today was the last day of school
Stay with us.
HAYES: Polls closed in Georgia a little over an hour ago. We`re
awaiting results in a freewheeling, hotly contested, very expensive,
crowded primary field on the Republican side, with seven candidates
fighting to become their party`s nominee to replace retiring U.S. senator,
Republican Saxby Chambliss.
On the Democratic side, the race is less crowded and less competitive
with Michelle Nunn, the daughter of four-term Senator Sam Nunn, the clear
Georgia, along with Kentucky, is one of two states where Democrats
have a pretty good shot at taking back a Senate seat. And what happens
tonight is going to greatly determine just how good of a shot they have.
A poll conducted earlier this month by "The Atlanta Journal
Constitution" stated Michelle Nunn leads all of the five main Republican
U.S. Senate hopefuls in a general election ballot test, though the
strongest Republican battles Nunn to a near tie.
In other words, all goes according to plan for Democrats if Nunn gets
the right opponent.
Now, let`s keep in mind who will be selecting the right opponent
tonight. This is what the math looks like. Around 10 million people in
the peach state. There are nearly 6 million registered voters. "The
Atlanta Journal Constitution" predicts about one-fifth of them or 1.2
million, will vote in tonight`s contest. With none of the GOP candidates
likely to reach the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run-off, the
top two vote getters could finish with around 25 percent of the vote each,
which means, back in the envelope, around 600,000 people will decide who
will be in the run-off come July to face Michelle Nunn. That`s called
Joining me now, Georgia Democratic state representative and house
minority leader, Stacey Abrams.
And, Representative Abrams if you or Michelle Nunn, and I guess we
haven`t declared her the victor yet, as far as I can tell from "A.P.", but
if you were Michelle Nunn, who is the prohibitive favorite to be the
nominee, who would you want to see in this run-off among her possible
STATE REP. STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA: Thank you for having me
I actually don`t think it matters what Paul Broun, the Tea Party
favorite, has managed to do is drag every single one of those candidates so
hard to the right, they all come out of the primary looking very extreme.
And it`s only going to get worse during the two-month run-off.
HAYES: You know, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, who are two
conservative Republican members of Congress who are in that primary, they
have not -- according to the latest polling -- fared particularly well.
How do you make sense of that? How do you make sense of the fact these,
quote, so-called "establishment candidates", Jack Kingston, a longtime
member of Congress, David Perdue, who is a businessman and brother, I
believe, of the former governor, and Karen Handel, the three of them have
emerged at the front of the pack.
ABRAMS: I think the fact is they`ve spent the most money. This is a
primary that`s going to spend a lot per voter and I think your numbers say
about 600,000 Republicans will vote and roughly $5 million to $7 million
spent to buy each one of those votes.
And so, I think that the reality is Paul Broun, while having a
grassroots appeal, didn`t have the cash. David Perdue could self-fund.
Jack Kingston was supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karen
Handel was able to capitalize on very strong support from Sarah Palin and
other Tea Party groups.
HAYES: When you look at this math there`s a contested primary in the
Republican side. But you`ve got to be thinking to yourself, OK, what does
turnout look like? I imagine you`re up in the fall as your fellow members
in the legislature, who is going to be coming out, what Democrats are going
to be coming out to Georgia? What number of them, what percentage do you
need to come out for someone like Michelle Nunn or perhaps Jason Carter or
anyone else, to have a shot statewide or even in contested races in the
ABRAMS: I think what we need is the highest turnout we can generate,
which is certainly 52 percent of the electorate is Democratic, that`s
fantastic. I don`t think we need a plurality of Democrats to win. I think
the Republican extremism will convert a number of moderate leaning
Republicans in Michelle`s favor.
I think on top of that, you have excitement at the top of the ticket
with Michelle Nunn, with Jason Carter, with contested races where we`re
going to run really strong candidates. What you`re going to find is
renewed optimism among Democrats. What it takes to win is a belief it`s
possible. And I think 2014 has turned into one of those years for
HAYES: Michelle Nunn has been asked a number of times by one of the
colleagues Kasie Hunt about whether she would have voted for the Affordable
Care Act. She hasn`t given a straightforward yes or no answer. It is a
counter factual question.
But is she being too cute by half where she stands with respect to
Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act?
ABRAMS: Absolutely not. Michelle has been very clear that she
believes we have to solve our health care crisis. She believes we need to
expand Medicaid. But like every reasonable Democrat the, she understands
that no law is perfect when it`s passed, and what she would do as U.S.
senator is fix the pieces that aren`t working but keep pursuing the pieces
that are sharp.
And I think what she has demonstrated is a willingness to be
thoughtful, to not give a pandering answer on one side or the other, but to
really say that she is wanting -- she is going there to fix the problems
for Georgia, and I think that`s the kind of senator that we want.
HAYES: Jack Kingston, David Perdue, Karen Handel, and the rest of the
field, is there anyone in that primary that might emerge tonight that
favors Medicaid expansion for the hundreds of thousands of Georgians that
would benefit from it?
ABRAMS: I think it`s a sad day but absolutely not. Although I think
David Perdue has said on -- he said prior to becoming a candidate he
believed there was a federal solution to health care. I think Jack
Kingston despite representing most of the military bases in Georgia and
knowing better and despite having Karen Handel who served one of the
poorest communities in the state when she was the head of Fulton County,
they each understand the working poor, the veterans, that Georgia requires
health care expansion, that rural hospitals are going to fail without this
But I think none of them will have the political courage to say that
the truth is we need to accept the money that Georgians have already paid
into the system and get that money back so we can grow Georgia and put
Georgia back to work.
HAYES: This is a state in which the issue of Medicaid expansion was
sort of treated by political football by Republican Nathan Deal who
voluntarily gave up the power to do it himself giving it to the
legislature, so in some ways he wouldn`t have to take a position ultimately
on whether he wanted to or not, which suggests to me there`s an opportunity
to make political ground, running on precisely that in a statewide race.
ABRAMS: Absolutely. What I favor about both Michelle and Jason is
that they have stood foursquare in favor of Medicaid expansion. They
understand that we`ve got 25,000 veterans in Georgia that will lose access
to health care, they understand that we have 15 hospitals that could
possibly shut down. And those hospitals represent up to 30 percent of the
workforce in the county.
HAYES: Georgia State Representative --
ABRAMS: And so, I believe what we will know at the end of the day,
and on July 22nd, is that Democrats are going to win 2014, and that we`re
going to win no matter who comes out of the primary.
HAYES: Georgia State Representative Stacey Abrams, always a pleasure.
More primary news ahead. But, first, the second night of our special
series "All in America." We`re on the road in Kansas, where tonight, we
tell the story of the final day of school in a small town and how the
state`s Republican governor and legislators brought that final day about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (voice-over): All across America, battles are waged in the
states. Laws are passed and the impact of these policy decisions affects
us all. Many of these stories go untold until now. Join us as we take ALL
IN on the road, capturing the small-town stories that make up our bigger
picture. First up, Kansas.
GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: You don`t change America by changing
Washington. You change America by changing the states.
HAYES: "All in America" on the road in the conservative heartland,
all this week at 8:00 on MSNBC.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Mitch McConnell is trying to bully and intimidate
conservatives, just like the IRS is. Mitch McConnell tried to silence
conservatives, all but calling them traitors who he wants to punch in the
nose for criticizing his liberal vote. Don`t try to fool conservatives by
pretending you`re one of us, Senator McConnell. You are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You are not. Senate Conservatives Fund was meant to be the
big scourge of Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican establishment, this
election year, so much so that a private lunch, McConnell and several other
Senate Republicans berated Texas Senator Ted Cruz after he refused to
disavow the group`s efforts.
At this hour, however, the group`s efforts against Senate minority
leader have fizzled. We`re going to hear his victory speech any moment now
as "The Associated Press" called the race for Mitch McConnell just minutes
after polls close this evening, raising the question, what does the
scoreboard look like this year for this year`s round of Tea Party
challengers? And has the Tea Party won so much it doesn`t matter if they
actually win anymore?
Joining me now, Ben Domenech, publisher of "The Federalist" and senior
fellow of the Conservative Heartland Institute.
Why did the Matt Bevin primary challenge never take flight?
BEN DOMENECH, FEDERALIST: I think one of the things we know about
politics, and this is true even before the Tea Party existed, Chris, is
that if you`re going to beat somebody who has the power of incumbency, or
the power of money on their side, you have to be a really good candidate.
You have to run a campaign that doesn`t have a lot of mistakes, and you
have to be able to tap into, I think, a lot of grassroots support.
HAYES: Let me stop you there. That was not true in 2010. I mean,
Christine O`Donnell exists.
DOMENECH: Christine O`Donnell didn`t have to go up against the kind
of establishment incumbency on the other side to beat somebody within the
primary system that way. I think what you really find when you look at
these candidates is that typically the more talented candidate wins, unless
the other guy in the race has a lot more money or a lot more backing in
terms of the power side of things. You see the real talent sort of emerge
within these situations and that`s true whether you`re looking at Nebraska
or you`re looking at Georgia in the current showdown that you see there.
I think within the context of McConnell, though, it`s really
interesting to me the way it this race played out, because going forward
from here, and you were talking earlier about the role Grimes is going to
play, within this cycle, Mitch McConnell always made the calculation this
was going to be a wave election year and he wanted to make sure that his
own re-election was prioritized within that context.
DOMENECH: He`s going to be spending a heck of a lot of money within
Kentucky, a state that really ought to be sending a Republican, if you look
at all the other demographics, money that`s going to come away from other
potential Senate races. It`s going to be really interesting how much money
ends up spent in Kentucky that might have been spent elsewhere if they had
a candidate who didn`t have the kind of approval ratings that Mitch
HAYES: That`s a really good point because you`ve got to look at this.
You`ve got to zoom out and look at this as a kind of chess match, right,
and there`s a limited amount of moves you can make. And so, every time,
you`re deciding whether to deploy national funds particularly, some of the
resources get sucked into the Kentucky race.
I was saying something last night, we have our eyes on the Alison
Lundergan Grimes headquarters there, that in some ways the primary
challenge strategy from the Tea Party in these three successive elections,
2010, 2012, and 2014 is a success even if the challenger is not successful.
And I thought this number coming out of Brookings is interesting. It`s the
percentage of incumbents facing challengers, 26 percent of Democrats, 41
percent of Republicans.
Even if the challenger loses, the kind of accountability and from an
ideological perspective stays, right?
DOMENECH: It really does. What you see in the end of political
movements often is that their priorities, their policy priorities and their
language becomes a part of that existing party. That`s the way that they
So, they end up at the table as part of the number of other Republican
factions. On Thursday, Mitch McConnell is going to talk at AEI with a Tea
Party challenger originally, Mike Lee, at the same event talking about
policy priorities. Mitch McConnell wants to sound like a Tea Partier,
someone who has prioritized their issues because he knows that it plays.
And so, to a certain extent I think you`re right. The Tea Party`s
impact has been to pull the Republican Party in their direction, whether
they actually get their guys elected or not.
HAYES: Yes, and I think we`re seeing that born out if this race in
which we`re not seeing them, quote, "get their guys elected", but it
becomes a moot point at a certain point although in Mississippi, which is a
race I am very curious about -- we`ll see whether that happens.
Ben Domenech -- please?
DOMENECH: I just wanted to say I think it`s really just a question
whether it`s lip service or whether they actually will try to pass this
agenda if they get the Senate.
HAYES: Ben Domenech from the Heartland Institute -- thank you so
DOMENECH: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, our primary night coverage continues. But, first,
our special series "All in the States" continues with our trip to Kansas
and a story that shows what happens when education funding is decimated.
That`s up ahead.
HAYES: We`re watching primary contests across the country right now.
Polls have already closed in Arkansas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and
Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell handily beating his
opponent there. We will continue to bring you results all night.
But, first, because they advocate for things like more education
spending and their own collective bargaining rights, you will find often
teachers unions at the top of a newly elected or running candidate
Republican enemies list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The largest
contributors to the Democratic Party are the teachers unions, the federal
teachers unions. It`s an extraordinary conflict of interest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There`s a problem though for Republicans. While the teachers
unions may well be a political enemy, teachers themselves do not make very
In fact, most people like teachers. And having your state capitol
packed full of angry public schoolteachers, like what happened in
Wisconsin, is not the best way to win over the hearts and minds of the
So, in Kansas, when the opportunity arose for conservative lawmakers
backed by groups like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity to take away
a teacher`s right to due process, the right for a dismissed teacher to know
why they were fired, well, the bill was passed overnight on a weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were brought up as floor amendments literally
in the dead of night.
MARK DESETTI, KNEA: The due process repeal was never in a bill form.
It was never heard in committee. It came up as a floor amendment jammed in
there and then rushed through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Poof, like that. That happened in early April.
For the next few week, teachers and their advocates trailed Kansas
Governor Sam Brownback from event to event, calling on him to veto the
bill. But he signed the bill into law in late April and teachers are
vowing to make him pay for that in November`s election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESETTI: Now we have our members really engaged in this effort.
They`re going around. They`re picketing the governor`s appearances. What
they`re hearing is making them understand they need to be politically
involved. They need to get involved in this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s not just issues of due process that have teachers and
other voters upset with Governor Brownback and the Republican-led
It`s what happened to funding for public education in Kansas. In
March, the Supreme Court of Kansas ruled that the level of public funding
was so low, it violated the state`s own constitution. And that lack of
funding, combined with the general population decline of rural communities,
is threatening an entire way of life in small towns like Marquette, Kansas.
Today was the last day of school ever in Marquette. The elementary
school, the last school open in town, just closed. The school`s district
and superintendent tells ALL IN they no longer have the budget to keep the
school open, thanks in large part to Governor Brownback`s public education
Now the town is trying to come to terms with what that loss means for
the kids and for everyone else that lives there.
MARY KAY LINDH, TEACHER, MARQUETTE ELEMENTARY: When a town loses its
school, you lose the town. It`s just like you`re losing a part of your
family, like a part of your family is being torn away from you.
HAYES (voice-over): The heart of the community is its school and for
many communities across America, from neighborhoods in Detroit and Chicago,
to small towns in West Virginia and Kansas, that school is not only its
heart, but its life force.
When funding for education gets cut, schools end up on the chopping
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty-four public schools in Chicago are slated
to close at the end of this school year.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-four Detroit schools will close at the end
of the year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Philadelphia is closing 23 schools, Washington,
HAYES: And when a school shuts down, it doesn`t just affect the
students. It can devastate the community.
Marquette, Kansas, is a town of around 650 people in the central part
of the state. It has a post office, a library, and an elementary school.
Today, that school shut its doors for the last time.
DARRYL TALBOTT, PRINCIPAL, MARQUETTE ELEMENTARY: We`re kind of the
heart of the community. We`re one of the larger employers in town.
Everyone participates at school, but also participates in activities and
groups in town, so it`s just part of what makes a small town tick.
HAYES: Darryl Talbott has worked in the area school district for 30
years. He`s been the principal of Marquette Elementary for the last seven.
He`s also the school`s phys-ed Teacher.
TALBOTT: Everybody, start over. New game.
HAYES: Now that the school is closed, he`s retiring from public
TALBOTT: A lot of our families have been here for four or five
generations. It really hurts that the school they went to and loved and
one of the reasons they have moved back here, their children won`t be able
to experience the same thing.
HAYES: The decision by the Smoky Valley School Board to shutter
Marquette Elementary was made to close a budget gap. Closing the school
will save the district over $400,000 and cut 12 jobs.
The superintendent blames Marquette`s closure on Governor Sam
Brownback and the Republican-led legislature. Together, they cut budgets
for schools so much, the Kansas Supreme Court declared school funding
levels unconstitutional earlier this year.
TALBOTT: Of course, teachers aren`t being paid as well. We`re
cutting programs. I fear for a lot of small town schools in Kansas.
HAYES: But raising children in a small community was what brought
many children back to their hometown of Marquette.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very heartbreaking, and so many emotions
trying to deal with all of it, because it is so close to your heart to have
your kids go to school at the same school you went to. So it`s very
HAYES: The move is equally heart-wrenching for Marquette students,
who will now be attending different schools in the area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s like my life. My school is my second
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you drive just a few miles west of here, you
will see town after town that lost their school and the towns deteriorate.
I mean, that`s the way it is. It`s such a huge heart of the community, the
schools are. And it attracts young kids and young families. And it`s a
tough thing to lose.
HAYES: Drive three hours southwest to the town of Bloom, Kansas, and
you can see firsthand what the closing of a school does to a community.
Bloom was once small yet vibrant.
Its school closed in the 1960s. This is all that is left. What
happens to Marquette after its elementary school closes weighs heavily on
ALLAN LINDFORS, MAYOR OF MARQUETTE, KANSAS: It`s so much a part of us
that it`s even hard to talk about.
TALBOTT: Somebody compared it the other day to having a tornado come
through and take your home away, and you can`t do anything about it.
CYNTHIA HULSE, TEACHER: It takes a little bit of time to recover.
It`s like a child being lost, and so you have to grieve a little bit. I
think we will do whatever we can to try and keep this community going.
HAYES: In this country, we talk about the value of education for our
children, but little by little, through legislation, through budget cuts in
cities and towns across America, that value is being chipped away. And
communities lose not only their center, but everything that comes with it.
LINDFORS: We have had a tremendous blow, but Marquette has always
been a survivor, and we`re going to survive this, not because we want to,
but because we have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Thomas Frank, politics and culture columnist
for Salon.com, author of "What`s the Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives
Won the Heart of America."
We are also awaiting Mitch McConnell`s possible victory speech this
Tom, what is it with about -- and Mitch McConnell is a good example of
someone who if he`s animated by one thing in America in politics, it`s
going after unions. What is it about teachers and teachers unions -- there
is Mitch McConnell.
Hold on one second. There is Mitch McConnell With his wife, who was
secretary of labor.
THOMAS FRANK, SALON.COM: I was going to point that out.
HAYES: Yes, exactly, and not particularly an awesome one, from the
standpoint of actual labor.
What is it about unions and teachers unions in particular that so
draws the ire of Republican candidates?
FRANK: Well, come on now. We know -- you know why unions. Unions
make -- you have to pay people more. It`s expensive.
FRANK: It`s money out of their rich benefactors` pockets. So...
HAYES: Here is Mitch McConnell, victorious in his -- in standing up
to the Tea Party challenge from Matt Bevin. He is about to address his
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you very much.
MCCONNELL: Something must have happened today. I`m not sure what it
MCCONNELL: My friends, tonight, we begin the process of putting
Kentucky first again.
MCCONNELL: For five-and-a-half years, the powers that be in
Washington have treated the people of this state with contempt. And,
tonight, I have a simple message for all of them. Those days are numbered.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCCONNELL: A little while ago, I spoke with Matt Bevin and
congratulated him on a hard-fought campaign. Matt brought a lot of passion
and tenacity to this race, and he made me a stronger candidate.
A tough race is behind us. It`s time to unite.
To my opponent`s supporters, I hope you will join me in the months
ahead and know that your fight is my fight.
Let`s have a big hand for Matt Bevin.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MCCONNELL: But the reason we need to be together, of course, is
because this race has always been much bigger than one candidate. It`s
about the kind of state we want. It`s about the kind of country we want.
It`s about restoring America, and it starts tonight.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES: Mitch McConnell telling the supporters it`s time to put
Kentucky first again, despite the fact that he`s been in the Senate for, I
believe, 30 years.
So, if Kentucky is not being put first, there`s a reason.
So, McConnell -- McConnell has been animated in his political life by,
I would say, two things, and one is going after unions, the other, kind of
free speech for billionaires and getting rid of campaign finance
And it strikes me that McConnell and the relationship he has to Bevin
is kind of a perfect little microcosm of precisely the thesis of "What`s
the Matter With Kansas?" precisely what we have seen play out in your home
state, and playing out there, which is the way that the Republican sort of
plutocratic establishment channels the energy of an enraged grassroots.
FRANK: Yes, that`s exactly right. It`s populism.
Mitch McConnell doesn`t seem like the most wonderful populist in the
world, but did you hear what he said? He`s going to stop the contempt, the
contempt coming from Washington, D.C. He just said it. It`s like...
HAYES: He is the least likely possible populist, and yet his first
line was those pointy-headed know-it-alls in Washington, where I live.
FRANK: It always comes back to this. This is the only card -- the
only ace they have got, and they play it again and again and again until
the day that Democrats stop them.
HAYES: And why is it effective even now?
When I think about what`s going on in the -- sort of the post-2010
political landscape with Tea Party challenges, what`s happened in Kansas
which 10 years ago you were saying had gone to the right and is now even
more right-wing, how do you understand -- how do you understand the Tea
Party in the framework of that analysis that was so famous, that you made
so famous in 2004?
So, I want to -- The Tea Party is also a populist movement. It`s a
different kind of populism. It`s not your straight-up culture war
populism. In fact, when I started researching the Tea Party movement, they
were determined to never talk about the culture wars. All they wanted to
talk about was economics or what they could -- economics. Their
understanding of economics is a little curious.
But what it is, is market populism. It`s the same -- exact same stuff
as the culture wars, only transposed. So, the market, right, is supposed
to be this perfect expression of the will of the people.
But, really, did I ever tell you that I went to the very first Tea
HAYES: You did tell me that.
And it looked completely fake. It was like, here is Grover Norquist`s
group, here`s Newt Gingrich`s group, here`s a bunch lobbyists from K
Street, and they`re all waving signs and pretending to be protesters. It
was a complete hoax. But it caught on.
HAYES: Right, because it successfully channeled the kind of populism.
FRANK: This is what you have to remember.
When you talk about, what`s the Tea Party going to do, what it`s not,
I don`t really care anymore. The Tea Party has served its historical
purpose, which was to prevent some kind of real populism from taking root
in this very dire economic moment.
HAYES: That`s right.
FRANK: And they did it.
HAYES: In the wake of catastrophe.
HAYES: The problem, though, of course, is that these kind of
policies, when you go after teachers, like Brownback has in Kansas, you can
end up on the wrong side of that populism, because people like teachers.
And they think they look a lot like them.
FRANK: Teachers is another -- this is the culture war thing.
So when it`s teachers unions and you have got -- you`re firing on all
cylinders, but the sort of hate for teachers, this is -- well, this is how
I got interested in this stuff in the first place.
Do you remember when Kansas declared war on the theory of evolution
back in the `90s?
HAYES: That`s right. Yes.
FRANK: I was like -- I`m from Kansas. I couldn`t believe it. I was
like, what are they doing? It`s not Tennessee. It`s not Arkansas. It`s
FRANK: And we had good schools there, you know? I went to them. We
were proud of our schools there. How could this be happening?
And so that`s where -- that`s how I started my research on this. And
it`s a fascinating thing. It`s where everything comes together in the
hatred of schools, education. Those are symbols of class for these guys.
HAYES: Thomas Frank from Salon, author of "What`s the Matter With
Kansas" 10th anniversary of that book this year, thank you for coming up.
FRANK: Sure thing.
HAYES: Coming up, our primary night coverage continues.
We`re waiting to hear from the person who will be taking on Mitch
McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes, who will face off with McConnell in
November. Stay with us.
HAYES: Welcome back to primary night in America.
We have some results. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who
would become the first majority leader if Republicans take the Senate in
the fall, has beaten his Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin. McConnell will
face the Democratic Senate -- the secretary of state, Alison Lundergan
Grimes. We are awaiting word from her, from her headquarters. That
challenge will be the political fight of McConnell`s life.
We await and we will bring you results in Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon and
Pennsylvania in what will be telling preludes to the razor-thin battle in
the months to come.
HAYES: The polls are still open in two states on this election night,
Idaho and Oregon, where the polls close at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. And that
means that if you right now are in Idaho, it is not too late to vote for
one of these guys to be your Republican gubernatorial nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLEY BROWN, IDAHO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: And you have your
choice, folks, a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy. Take your
WALT BAYES, IDAHO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We`re wasting all kinds of
wood out there and they`re burning it and smogging this place up.
BROWN: I don`t like political correctness. Can I say this? It
sucks. As it says in my motorcycle club, hey diddle, diddle, right up the
middle, that`s my style.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Harley Brown and Walt Bayes, who we will be playing
forever, the two political candidates that Governor Butch Otter made sure
were on stage in the only debate in that race, to the great consternation
of his legitimate Tea Party challenger, Russ Fulcher.
That`s not the only fascinating race in Idaho. The battle between
longtime Congressman Mike Simpson and his Tea Party challenger, Bryan
Smith, has attracted an absolutely unbelievable amount of outside spending.
Outside groups have dumped more than $3 million into this one, little
Idaho congressional race, in what has tuned into a proxy battle between the
business groups that threw millions behind Simpson and the Tea Party groups
that bet big on Bryan Smith.
Over in Oregon, national Republicans thought that they had the perfect
candidate in Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon who was an early
Obamacare critic and who is believed to have a real shot at defeating
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. But Wehby`s campaign went off the trails
in the most spectacular fashion just in the last few weeks, with
revelations that two different men, an ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend, had
accused her of stalking and harassment.
Wehby is facing off against state Representative Jason Conger, who I
will be speaking with later tonight.
Joining me now, Rebecca Traister, senior editor at "The New Republic"
and author of "Big Girls Don`t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything
for American Women," and McKay Coppins, senior political writer for
Let`s start with Oregon.
I have not known what to do. The Wehby stuff is crazy. There is a
911 call that was released by oppo researchers of her boyfriend saying,
she`s stalking me. Then there are documents come out of a police report of
an ex-husband saying that she attacked him.
REBECCA TRAISTER, "NEW REPUBLIC": Yes, physically attacked. Yes.
HAYES: It seems at one level like ugly, ugly stuff. At another
level, if it were -- if these allegations were against a man, then we would
clearly be reporting them. I don`t know what make of this.
TRAISTER: Right. Well, we make a lot of things of it, right?
On the one hand, the frame, which is currently being used against her,
the way it`s being cast is crazy Glenn Close from "Fatal Attraction"
stalking nutty lady, like very much in the way, and it`s all like she`s
unstable. Her boyfriend broke up with her and she`s a crazy stalking lady.
It actually reminds me a little bit of the Brianna Keilar sort of
framing of how she was nutty after the breakup.
HAYES: Right. Exactly.
TRAISTER: Right. And that`s a very gendered frame.
And it is sort of not just. However, the revelations themselves, 911
calls, police reports, those would come out. A, they would come out
against a man. This is politics.
HAYES: Yes, right. Exactly.
TRAISTER: OK? And when you have women in politics, it is a fiction
that women are somehow naturally cleaner than men, right?
HAYES: That`s right, that they don`t have sex scandals. Right? You
hear this Mars/Venus nonsense all the time.
TRAISTER: Right. Right. Right. And that`s just -- I don`t buy it.
It`s both gendered and politics.
HAYES: You also got the wrinkle in Oregon, of course, which is
because it`s a vote-by-mail state, that late-breaking revelations might not
end up having that big of an impact, although they have had to -- Wehby has
basically like gone underground in the last few days. This has been like
an absolute train wreck.
It`s also interesting in terms of gender that it`s coming -- this is
coming from Democrats. And one of the reasons is because she is moderate
especially on issues of abortion. And she is somebody who said she
personally doesn`t believe in abortion, but that she doesn`t believe the
government should make laws about it.
HAYES: Right, which is why she was seen by the NRSC as a great
candidate for Oregon.
TRAISTER: Yes. And what makes her threatening to Democrats, which is
why this damaging stuff is coming from Democrats and not her Republican
HAYES: This Idaho primary, this one congressional race, there`s --
people talk about the establishment of the Tea Party. And a lot of times,
I think it`s just rhetorical nonsense. This is one place where it is not
rhetorical nonsense. It is straight up.
MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: Right. This is the actual distillation of
the dynamic pundits have been talking about all year, right?
You have the Chamber of Commerce, which has spent a ton of money
backing Simpson and has actually placed his reelection as one of their top
priorities for this midterm election. And then you have Smith, his
opponent, who is a Tea Partier, right?
Club for Growth came in, spent a lot of money on trying to get him
elected. But in recent weeks, the polls they have shown haven`t shown him
getting close enough and they have kind of pulled back, which we think that
that probably means Simpson is going to pull off a victory here. But it`s
been interesting that it has been such a tight race.
HAYES: Why do you think the Chamber came in so big for Simpson? He
voted for the bailout, if I`m not mistaken, which is one of the big
articles of impeachment against him by the Tea Party. But why do you think
it was so important for the Chamber to send this message in this race?
COPPINS: Well, he is the embodiment of a corporate Republican.
It`s kind of this old guard Mitt Romney Republican. Actually, Mitt
Romney came in early and endorsed him, Idaho being one of the states where
there was never any question about whether a Mitt Romney endorsement would
COPPINS: Lots of Mormons there. And so he came in and endorsed him.
And it`s very much this kind of corporate, pro-business, "do anything
at any cost to help big companies and businesses succeed" Republican.
That`s his ideology. And the Chamber said, this is one guy we want to keep
in Congress and make that statement.
HAYES: Is Wehby wins the nomination tonight in Oregon, are we going
to see this stuff be a dominant part of a general?
TRAISTER: I`m sure it will be.
People love this stuff. They love to talk about it. It is a sex
scandal, and it confirms to a lot of very sexist tropes about crazy...
HAYES: There is also the related fact that one of the ex-
boyfriends/possibly current boyfriends is a huge timber magnate who ran a
super PAC on her behalf, without violating the law, because they didn`t
talk about it.
TRAISTER: Right, and that there was an earlier investigation into
This guy, the guy, he`s a huge supporter and pouring, pouring money
into her campaign. So, but on the other hand, Merkley is really, really
popular. It`s going to be a hard race for any Republican to win.
HAYES: We got our eyes on Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia. We will get
results from Georgia some time probably in the next hour.
Rebecca Traister from "The New Republic," McKay Coppins from BuzzFeed,
thank you both.
That is ALL IN for now. We will be back at 11:00 p.m., a special live
edition, just two hours from now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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