MI-03: Amash holds 48-point lead over establishment primary challenger

A poll conducted by the Club for Growth finds Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) holding a huge lead over his establishment-backed primary challenger, Brian Ellis, in Michigan’s Third Congressional District (MI-03):

Amash has a 60 percent to 12 percent lead over Brian Ellis (R), according to the poll, and his approval rating is 61 percent with Republicans in the district.

Partisan polls, especially ones conducted just on one day, should always be viewed with some skepticism. But a 48-point lead is a huge gap for Ellis to overcome between now and the August 5 primary.

The Club endorsed the libertarian-minded congressman shortly after Ellis entered the race, and has been running ads attacking Ellis in the district. The poll shows they’ve had an impact: Ellis’s favorable rating is just 8 percent and his unfavorable rating sits at 21 percent.

MT Senate: Walsh appointed to serve out Baucus’ term

John Walsh

Rather than appointing a placeholder to serve the remainder of Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) term, Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) made a move on Friday that Democrats hope will Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D-MT) an edge in November.

Baucus had already declared that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014, creating an opportunity for Republicans to gain a seat in the Senate. But when the President Obama appointed Baucus to serve as serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China, it was quickly hinted that Bullock would choose Walsh, who was already running for the Senate seat, to give him a boost against likely Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT).

Sure enough, on Friday, a day after the Senate confirmed Baucus’ nomination, that’s exactly what Bullock did. Walsh is the next senator from Montana and he wants you to know how independent he is:

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) will be Max Baucus’s replacement in the Senate, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced Friday.
Bullock said when making his decision, he was looking for many of the same qualities he looked for in picking Walsh as his running mate in 2012.

“Today, My friend and my colleague embarks on a new mission. I introduce to you United States Sen. John Walsh,” said Bullock.

Walsh promised to work across the aisle as senator, emphasizing many of his campaign’s themes in his remarks.

AR Senate: Pryor trails Republican challenger by 5, Obama disapproval at 63%

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), the most vulnerable Senate Democrat up for reelection this year, trails his Republican opponent (R-AR), by 5 points, according to the latest poll out of the Razorback State.

The poll, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, found that 45% of likely Arkansas voters would cast their ballot for Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), while 40% would vote for Pryor. Five percent (5%) would back another candidate and 10% are undecided.

While the poll didn’t ask voters about Pryor’s job performance, it did show that his favorables are above water, at 48/43. Cotton, however, is viewed more favorably, at 51/37.

The drag on Pryor is, as expected, President Obama. Just 35% of Arkansans approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 63% disapprove.

Obamacare is also hurting Pryor. The poll found that 66% have an unfavorable view of the law. Just 30% view it favorably. Sixty-eight percent (68%) oppose the individual mandate and 73% believe that problems with the law will be fixed within the next year.

Pryor voted for Obamacare and opposed attempts to repeal or defund the law despite the overwhelming sentiment against it in his home state. Like many vulnerable Democrats, Pryor has been trying to distance himself from President Obama and his agenda.

The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports between February 4-5. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.5%. The Rothenberg Political Report gives Republicans a slight edge in the race, which would be a pick-up and one seat closer to a majority.

Today in Liberty: January jobs report disappoints, Biden can’t think of a reason not to run in 2016

“The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.” — Daniel Webster

— January jobs report lower than expectations: The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 113,000 jobs were created in January. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. Economists predicted a net-gain of 180,000 jobs and the unemployment rate to remain at 6.7%. ADP estimated this week that 175,000 jobs were created last month. The labor participation rate rose slight to 63%, up from 62.8% in January, a 35-year low. The December report was revised upward, though marginally, from 74,000 to 75,000 jobs.

— McConnell trails in Kentucky: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) trails his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by 4 points, according to a new Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll. Just 32% of Kentuckians approve of McConnell’s job performance, while 60% disapprove, which is actually worse than President Obama’s approval rating (34/60) in the state. Grimes also holds a 5-point lead over Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the GOP primary. The only bright spot for McConnell is that he holds a 26-point lead over Bevin among primary voters.

NC Senate: Brannon gains FreedomWorks’ endorsement

FreedomWorks PAC has endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary, confirming an earlier report of a pending announcement.

In a statement released yesterday, FreedomWorks PAC called Brannon the “clear choice for North Carolinians looking to preserve individual freedom and rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending.” The organization also pointed the candidate’s experience as a physician as evidence that he knows the impact of Obamacare on families and doctors.

“Greg Brannon is a solutions-oriented leader with a stellar understanding of the constitutional role of government,” said Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks PAC, according to the statement. “He knows that North Carolinians - not some faceless bureaucrats in Washington - know what’s best for themselves and their families.”

“Greg Brannon will be a critical part of the Republican Senate takeover in 2014, and a welcome member of the Freedom Caucus within the new majority,” he added.

The endorsement could be key in the race. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis is thought to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The most recent numbers from Public Policy Polling found Brannon trailing Tillis by 8 points among primary voters. Both candidates held small leads over Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), according to the poll.

Brannon called the FreedomWorks’ endorsement “an honor.”

Today in Liberty: Amash wants to avoid debt ceiling theater, anti-NSA bill moves in Arizona

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.” — Thomas Sowell

— Conservatives urge Boehner forego “theater” on debt ceiling: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), two of the most conservative members of the House, are urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) avoid political theater and pass a clean debt ceiling rather than delay the inevitable. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it,” said Labrador. Amash was more resigned to the ends of a showdown, saying, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway.”

— Oh, Chris Matthews, you are such a pitiful person: The MSNBC host says that complaining about President Obama’s use of executive power and lawlessness is “second-term birtherism.” Make fun of birthers all you want, we don’t mind. But the constitutional limits on the executive and separation of powers is not something that should be so easily tossed aside. No word on whether Matthews still gets a thrill up his leg when he hears Obama speak.

NC Senate: Hagan avoids question Obama’s impact on reelection bid

Rather than answer a very direct question in a local news interview this weekend, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) wouldn’t say whether President Barack Obama will help or hurt her quest to convince North Carolina voters that deserves reelection.

“Senator, I’ve got to ask you,” said Bill O’Neil of Greensboro-based WXII, “do you think the President, at the end of this campaign, will he help or hurt your chances of reelection?”

“You know, I think this issue on my race is about who is going to speak for North Carolinians,” replied Hagan, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year. “This seat is not for sale.”

O’Neil noted that Hagan “went on for another 45-seconds, talking about constituent services, job creation, and the need for both parties to work together,” adding that “she never once answered the question, will the president help or hurt her campaign.”

Today in Liberty: Americans believe Obama will fail, final stage set for $1 trillion farm bill

“I have a question, a question for the president: Do you hate all rich people, or just rich people who don’t contribute to your campaign? Do you hate poor people or do you just hate poor people with jobs?” — Ron Paul

— Most Americans believe Obama’s policies will fail: Just 37% of Americans believe that President Obama’s polices will be a success, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll via the Washington Examiner, while 56% say that they will fail. The Examiner notes that those figures “were almost reversed” from last year.

— FreedomWorks to endorse in North Carolina Senate race: The Hill reports that FreedomWorks PAC will endorse Dr. Greg Brannon, a Republican looking to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), today at a rally in Raleigh. Brannon has already been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). A Rasmussen poll released last week found Brannon holding a 4-point lead over the vulnerable Democrat. NC House Speaker Thom Tillis leads Hagan by 7 points.

— C’mon and take a free ride: Members of Congress and staffers took some 1,900 privately-sponsored trips in 2013, according to a report from Legistorm. In all, the trips cost $6 million, the most since 2007.

LA Senate: Poll shows Landrieu down by 4 points

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) trails her likely Republican challenger for the first time, according to the latest poll out of the Pelican State.

In a poll released on Thursday, Rasmussen Reports found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) takes 44% of the vote to Landrieu’s 40%, while 5% of Louisianans would back some other candidate. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Now, Louisiana does elections differently. It’s basically a “top-two” system where voters have everyone on the ballot in the general election, even multiple candidates from the same party. If no one takes a majority of the vote, there is a runoff weeks later, usually at the beginning of December.

This could complicate efforts to unseat Landrieu, who has managed to survive politically, winning close reelection bids in 2002 and 2008, despite being a Democrat from an overwhelmingly red state. The biggest problem for the GOP is Cassidy isn’t the only Republican running.

Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, is also looking to unseat Landrieu. The insurgent conservative candidate has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project. Rasmussen didn’t include Maness in the poll, at least not in its public release.

If Cassidy doesn’t receive a majority on November 4, he’ll face Landrieu in a runoff. Assuming this scenario comes to pass, Republicans will have to overcome Landrieu’s New Orleans-based political machine, which proved essential to her previous successful reelection bids.

Today in Liberty: Worst fears about TSA confirmed, Uninsured not keen on Obamacare, minimum wage hike hits young workers

“I think a lot of people are afraid of freedom. They want their lives to be controlled, to be put into a box… People like that cradle-to-grave concept because it says you don’t have to think too much, you don’t have to worry too much, because someone else is looking out for you. But that also means you can’t do as much as you want. Why should someone else put a limit on how much fun I can have; how much I can accomplish?” — Drew Carey

— Ex-TSA agent confirms your worst fears: Jason Edward Harrington, an ex-TSA agent, has piece up this morning at Politico Magazine in which he offers some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at airports across the country. The title of the article, “Dear American, I Saw You Laughing,” pretty much says it all. “We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed,” writes Harrington. He goes onto note that TSA agents would make fun of passengers and look at “nude images” of them from the scanners, because that’s not at all creepy or anything.

Harrington also offers some of the codewords, part of the TSA lexicon, for certain types of passengers. For example, “Fanny Pack, Lane 2” stands for an “attractive female passenger.” Unsurprisingly, he also acknowledges that TSA agents would target passengers who were rude, making up an excuse to keep them at the screening area.

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