House Election 2014

Republicans win a special election — and complete control of the 2014 narrative

Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid

While we should be cautious to read too much into a special election, there’s no denying that the Republican victory last night in Florida’s Thirteenth Congressional District (FL-13) is bad news for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term election, regardless of how they try to deflect it.

The spin from Democrats is that FL-13 had long-been held by Republicans and the district has a Republican tilt, albeit very slight, at R+2. This is true. But talking points miss some very important points.

First, this is a district twice won by President Barack Obama, so it’s more friendly to Democrats than they want to admit. Secondly, Democrats had the money advantage. Alex Sink, who lost last night, overwhelmingly outraised and outspent her Republican opponent, former lobbyist David Jolly, and outside groups backing the Democrat slightly outspent those backing the Republican candidate.

Third, Jolly was a lobbyist, and that point was frequently brought up by Sink and outside groups backing her campaign. Despite being pegged in populist rhetoric as a Washington insider, Jolly managed to win.

“Fiscally conservative” Blue Dog Democrats fail to protect taxpayers

Blue Dog Democrats

Much ink has been spilled in the last few years over the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House of Representatives. Just this week, the Washington Post ran a story noting that this group of purportedly centrist Democrats will has seen its numbers fall from 50 members four years ago.

“[T]he Blue Dog Coalition is a shell of its former self, shrunken to just 15 members because of political defeat, retirements after redrawn districts left them in enemy territory and just plain exhaustion from the constant battle to stay in office,” wrote Paul Kane at the Washington Post. “Several are not running for reelection in November, and a few others are top targets of Republicans.”

There actually 19 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, though three members aren’t running for reelection in 2014. Reps. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC), whose districts were targeted by Republicans, decided to retire. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) is running for governor in Maine. Other members of the Blue Dog Coalition face tough bids for reelection, which could further dwindle its numbers at the beginning of the next Congress.

Blue Dog Democrats claim to “represent the center of the House of Representatives” and purport to be “dedicated to the financial stability and national security of the United States.” In news stories, reporters will frequently refer to Blue Dogs as “fiscally conservative” or “deficit hawks.”

Nancy Pelosi won’t be Speaker next year: Republicans are poised to keep control of the House, and probably pick up seats

Nancy Pelosi

Forget the annoying fundraising emails from House Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the talk from left-leaning pundits about the House being in play this fall. It just ain’t going to happen, folks. Because math, as USA Today notes:

In 2012, congressional district lines were redrawn, as is constitutionally required every 10 years, based on population shifts. Republicans had the upper hand in many states after the GOP won control of governorships and state legislatures following the 2010 Tea Party wave. The end result has been a precipitous drop in the number of competitive seats and a rise in the number of seats considered so safely Republican or Democratic that they are unlikely to ever switch party control.

Today, roughly 50 districts in the 435-member House make up the entirety of the 2014 battleground.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report ranks just 16 of those districts, 13 held by Democrats and three by Republicans, as competitive enough that neither party has a clear advantage with fewer than 100 days to go before Election Day.

The current House makeup includes 234 Republicans and 199 Democrats, and there are two vacant seats that are safely Democratic. That means Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats for a takeover. They’d have to pick up 17 Republican seats and lose none of their own, or make even greater gains in GOP territory to make up for any losses.

Basically, Democrats have virtually no shot of taking control of the House this year. The numbers just aren’t there. Obviously, there are some other factors in the mid-term equation as well.

Eric Cantor just lost his seat in the House to a Tea Party challenger

Dave Brat has defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Brat holds a nearly 7,100-vote lead over Cantor, in what will almost certainly be considered a referendum on immigration reform as well as a huge upset for the Republican establishment.

There have been rumors that Republicans would bring immigration reform to the floor for a vote, likely this summer. Though Cantor said he opposed the Senate version of the bill, Brat hammered him on the issue throughout the campaign.

Tonight’s results are a shock. No one expected that Brat, an economics professor, would pose a serious threat to Cantor. But the Majority Leader’s campaign had taken as an unusually negative tone in recent weeks for a race that wasn’t supposed to be on anybody’s radar.

Brat’s primary victory is truly a testament to the grassroots. He raised only $206,663 since he began his campaign in January and reported $83,870 in cash-on-hand at the end of the first quarter. Cantor, however, boasted $5.4 million in campaign contributions and had $1.5 million on-hand.

Brian Ellis: A case study in cronyism

Brian Ellis

Conservatives are working to change the narrative about the Republican Party. For too long, they say, the GOP has been viewed as the “party of big business,” one that often gives taxpayer-funded handouts to corporations.

Among those working to change the perceptions about the Republican Party is Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI). The two-term constitutional conservative frequently votes against measures that give bailouts and handouts corporations that he feels should stand on their on own merits, not on the backs of taxpayers.

Amash’s opposition to corporate welfare and cronyism has made him a target of the establishment. His political opponents drafted a primary challenger to run against him this cycle, Brian Ellis, and heavily funded his campaign.

To put it in simple terms, the establishment wants a “yes man,” someone who will represent their interests in Washington, not those of the residents of Michigan’s Third Congressional District.

Ellis has taken aimed at Amash’s voting record, telling The Weekly Standard in December that “[Amash has] got his explanations for why he’s voted, but I don’t really care. I’m a businessman, I look at the bottom line.”

He must mean the “bottom line” for his crony friends.

A look at Ellis’ record from his time on the Michigan Strategic Fund reveals that he voted to give away tens of millions of taxpayers dollars to corporations, according to an audit conducted by Amash’s campaign. In fact, in 2006, Ellis voted 100 percent of the time with then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI).

Mia Love wins Republican nod in UT-04

Mia Love

Less than two years ago, Mia Love lost an incredibly close, contentious race against Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District, one of the big disappointments of the 2012 election.

Love, former mayor of Saratoga Springs, became a rockstar because of her speech at the RNC that year, in which she talked her upbringing and early sense of personal responsibility. She is one of those rare candidates who can bring together conservatives and the Republican establishment.

Undeterred by the results, Love declared in May 2013 that she wanted a rematch against Matheson. The two traded shots at each other until the fall of last year, when Matheson suddenly announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

The first step of Love’s bid to take the seat is now out of the way. She won the Republican nomination in UT-04 at the state party’s convention last weekend, easily defeating her closest competition:

Rising GOP star Mia Love handily secured the Republican nominee Saturday to replace retiring Rep. Jim Matheson’s (D-Utah).

House Democrat speaks candidly about “unpalatable” parts of Obamacare, predicts losses for his party

Stephen Lynch

In an interview law week with the Boston Herald, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) admitted that parts of Obamacare were “postponed” by the administration “because they are unpalatable,” pointing to the individual mandate and tax penalties for noncompliance.

The Massachusetts Democrat, however, hinted the backlash over the law may not be limited to the more unsavory aspects that the administration has managed to shrug off through unilateral delays. He warns that other provisions of the law could create a political firestorm.

“It’s going to hit the fan, because any individual with an individual healthcare plan that exceeds $10,200 is in a Cadillac plan situation,” said Lynch. “[T]hat employer, if they provide that, and many do today, nevermind in 2018, will have to pay a 40 percent tax on the amount over the maximum established under the Affordable Care Act.”

OH-08: John Boehner’s “electile disfunction”

Winteregg ad

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has an “electile dysfunction” problem, according to his conservative primary opponent, J.D. Winteregg, who has rolled out a humorous new ad spoofing Cialis commercials.

“You make a great team. It’s been that day since the day you met. But your electile dysfunction, it could be a question of blood flow,” says the narrator. “Sometimes, when a politician has been in D.C. too long, it goes to his head, and they just can’t seem to get the job done.”

The ad features video of Boehner and President Barack Obama laughing with each other and shaking hands mixed in with couples hanging out and flirting. The narrator highlights a list of Winteregg’s more conservative positions, including pledges to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.

“Other signs of electile dysfunction include skin discoloration, the inability to punch one’s self out of a wet paper bag, or maintain a spine in the fact of liberal opposition,” the narrator continues. “If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”

Larry Sabato gives Nancy Pelosi a reality check on Obamacare

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi isn’t living in reality if she believes that Obamacare is a winning issue for House Democrats running in swing districts.

“Look, Nancy Pelosi is from a deeply blue district. I have no doubt in her district, the San Francisco area, you can be for Obamacare and not have any electoral problems,” said Sabato during a Thursday appearance on Your World w/ Neil Cavuto. “The difficultly for Pelosi and the Democrats is, in every single reliable survey for more than a year a plurality or majority of Americans have been opposed to Obamacare, for a variety of reasons.”

The seven most recent survey show that an average of nearly 54% of Americans oppose Obamacare, while 39% support the law, according to Real Clear Politics. To find a survey in which support for Obamacare was above water, one has to go back to January 2013. Just eight polls taken since March 2011 found a net-positive support for Obamacare. That’s a stunning figure.

“She’s arguing the best defense is a good offense,” said Sabato. “The problem with that is when you’re on offense, using your time in the public arena to discuss a subject that people have more or less already made up their minds about, and they don’t like it, you’re wasting your time in the arena.”

Expect more House Democrats to announce retirements

It was a mostly foregone conclusion that Republicans would keep control of the House of Representatives even before the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Now that there’s talk of a wave election, in which Republicans could build upon their majority in the House and take control of the Senate, there may be more Democrats who decide to retire rather than face voters this fall.

“We’ve seen a number of senior House Democrats announce their retirements,” noted John King yesterday on CNN’s Inside Politics. “I’m told in the next week to 10 days look for two, perhaps three, more as Democrats decide we’re not going to win the majority back, might as well get out of Dodge.”

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