While some of the TBAF team was taking unpaid leave to generate midterm election successes, President John Pudner’s monthly Fox News interviews last week connected topics from the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, to grocery store zoning battles, to a better method for running elections.
The interviews aired on Fox News affiliates from Orlando to Dallas and Champaign (IL) to Indiana (PA), with this link publicly posted on the latter’s site. Listen or read the transcript below to hear John reminisce about working with Pennsylvania-based Giant Eagle grocery stores (at that time, an $11 billion family-run business) to orchestrate grassroots input to zoning decisions by local governments, then move on to an analysis of the recent DOJ raid on Mar-a-Lago. The interview wraps up with John making the case for a Final Five system similar to the one used in Alaska’s midterm election. Topics are highlighted in the transcript for easy reference.
Note: Edited for clarity and shortened from the transcription by GoogleDoc tab tool, “voice typing.”
Todd Marino, Fox News Radio Host: My interview this morning is with John Pudner, and John has his bona fides - he certainly does. As the President of Take Back Action Fund … he was a (an advisor to Presidential campaigns). If you want to talk a little bit about what's going on with Mar-a-Lago, but believe it or not, he knows Indiana, Pennsylvania.
John Pudner, President of www.takebackaction.org: Yes, I had real fun doing zoning work for Giant Eagle for years, and the Indiana store was the one of the stores, so I have been there multiple times.
Marino: I want to talk about this news yesterday by the Judge in the Mar-a-Lago case regarding the Justice Department and ask you, John, because people have serious questions.
Pudner: Many on the left argue that President Trump is a threat to democracy. The optics of raiding the home of a potential political opponent sounds like the kind of language hurled at Trump in 2016, charging that he would punish political enemies.
Marino: The pressure to release the affidavit has not just been a goal of the right but also of the left.
Pudner: That's the most amazing thing about this case.The actual court case that is forcing the release was filed by CNN, The Washington Post and the New York Times - hardly common bedfellows with President Trump.
Marino: Is there any merit to the argument by the Department of Justice that it should not be released to protect people?
Pudner: Well, obviously, prosecutors never like to release anything. I guess if you thought you could make your mark by turning on Trump you are kind of nervous right now with talk of a possible unredacted release.
Marino: The Judge made his ruling yesterday that basically gave the Department of Justice a week to redact what needs to be redacted; he'll take a look at it and decide whether the affidavit can be released. Could that be because the Judge felt he was bamboozled in the initial affidavit?
Pudner: It sounds like he went even further and told DOJ to give him a redacted version, then he would look at it, and if they redact too much he will start over and decide what needs to be redacted before it's released. It's really bad news for DOJ. It's like baseball arbitration where you've got to make a respectable offer…in hopes the Judge will take what you redact or he may release a much less redacted version.
Marino: Are you concerned about the long-term ramifications for the FBI?
Pudner: Support for the FBI has now dropped to 50%. I think that's a real concern if the people don't believe in the ultimate law enforcement in the country even while they do support their local police officers. Whichever person at the Justice Department thought that there would not be much news coverage if they came when President Trump was out of town had not watched any news the last six years.
Marino: Tell us about Take Back Action Fund and your goals.
Pudner: Take Back Action is a group of people who have run conservative campaigns for years.
We support moving to a Final Five election system.
Marino: Like the Alaska system where Sarah Palin advanced by finishing second.
Pudner: Yes, and the big race is the Senate race. President Trump has been kind of critical of that system, but in that system the top two finalists are both Republicans, and one of them is going to win. The top two candidates are Trump’s endorsed candidate Kelly Tshibaka, who finished 2nd, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has been very anti-Trump within the Republican Party. The Republican Party is now putting out material asking voters to “Rank the Red,” meaning they are going to get a Republican Senator, and it’s just a matter of who you rank first and who you rank second.
I believe it would lower the temperature in that process, instead of partisan primaries which tend to reward anger. (Note, this fact was stated despite a lifetime of winning partisan primaries. We just believe the system can be adjusted and strategies tweaked to keep winning.)
The mechanics cause concern for some, thinking that everyone goes into an open primary and then you rank them. I thought New York’s ranked-choice system was a disaster because they had 13 people on the ballot, but this system reduces the field to four or five before you rank them.
Post-interview note: One misconception about Final Five is the false charge that it is possible that a candidate with a MAJORITY of the vote does not always win. Like Alice in Wonderland, this ironically is exactly the opposite of the truth. Final Five insists on a majority to win. In Wisconsin, Joe Biden cannot beat Donald Trump with 49% of the vote - rather the 3% who voted for the Libertarian, pro-life or Constitution Party candidate go to their second choice to determine if Trump or Biden gets to 50% to win.
Using Tuesday’s example as an election, if this had been a Final Five final vote in both Wyoming and Alaska, Harriet Hageman (who is a friend from a 2008 winning campaign I ran in Wyoming) would have already won easily against Liz Cheney, two other Republicans and the highest Democratic vote getters with two-thirds of the vote. However in Alaska, even though Lisa Murkowski finished 1st against Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, she would have fallen 4,000 votes short of a majority, so the 2nd choices of the 3rd, 4th and 5th candidates would decide which of the two Republicans won, so Tshibaka would still have a chance.