Senate Election 2014
Nearly an hour after the House of Representatives passed a measure to ostensibly delay enforcement of the individual mandate, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would extend the “administrative fix” for canceled health plans through 2016 as well as extended the open enrollment period for 2015:
The Obama administration announced Wednesday it will let people with health insurance plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act standard to keep them into 2017 if their states permit.
The administration also extended Obamacare’s open enrollment for next year by one month—it now will run from Nov. 15, 2014, until Feb. 15, 2015—and gave insurers more financial help in dealing with costs from new ACA enrollees.
The announced rule changes also simplified the paperwork that larger employers will have to file when the rule obliging them to offer affordable health insurance to workers begins in 2015.
Under the new rule, people who maintain those plans, and who renew them as late as Oct. 1, 2016, will be able to keep them until as late as 2017. The administration said the rule will apply to anyone currently in a non-compliant small-group plan, as well as an individual plan, and said it would be up to individual states to allow the extension, and to what extent.
TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.
The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.
Tom Knighton already touched on the new Washington Post/Pew Research poll showing that not even a majority of Americans express disappointment or anger for the Senate failing to enact the Manchin-Toomey amendment. In fact, the only group that is disappointed in failing to expand background checks is Democrats. A plurality of independents — 48%, to be exact — and 51% of Republicans describe themselves as “very happy” or “relieved” that the measure failed to pass.
As Chris Cillizza concludes, President Barack Obama “wound up losing the message fight over the gun legislation.” Of course, this is what happens when you waste political capital, as President Obama and the White House did, on an issue that only 4% of Americans really care about.
“Rather than a conversation centered on widely-popular measures supported by members of both parties,” he explained, “the debate — at least as people perceived it — became a wider referendum on the proper place for guns in society.”
We’re barely through with the 2012 elections, but the 2014 Senate races are heating up quite nicely. This is fun, right? You can see a map here of the 2014 and which way each state leans. I’m keeping a close eye on two of those races specifically: Georgia and South Carolina.
Georgia interests me because it’s my home state but also because it’s the reelection campaign of the man whose liberal idiocy prompted my entrance into political activism. Saxby Chambliss is certain to face a primary opponent, and I’m certain to support that opponent. The only question to be answered is who will decide to run against him. I wrote about this race and Chambliss’ potential opponents recently.
South Carolina also has my eye for two reasons. First, I grew up there, and the vast majority of my family lives there. Second, it’s an opportunity for the state to rid themselves of the biggest imbecile in the Senate. Lindsey Graham is also nearly certain to find a primary opponent, and that opponent is also likely to win my favor (especially if that opponent is Tom Davis).
The problem with these races – and really a lot of the races in the coming Senate election – is that the incumbent has had (at least) six years to build up campaign funds and become part of a system designed to keep him elected. Lindsey Graham has a war chest of over $4 million. That’s enough money to scare off a lot of quality candidates that would give him a run for his job.
With the dust finally clearing from the 2012 election, FreedomWorks, an organization that organizes and trains the grassroots, hosted over 100 activists from 19 states for a debrief on this year’s campaigns — finding out what tactics and strategies did and didn’t work.
This weekend also provided these Freedom Movement activists, all of which were flown into Washington, DC for the meeting at FreedomWorks’ headquarters, an opportunity to plan for 2014, as well as to receive some training in new techniques to help get their message out to new voters and to get an idea of what is going on in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the status of ObamaCare’s state healthcare exchanges.
This morning, FreedomWorks hosted a press conference that give activists an opportunity to be heard by the media. Before turning over the press conference to activists, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, explained that “[t]here’s more energy in this movement today than there was on November 6th,” adding that the the activists that showed up this weekend are focused on 2014 and ideas.
Kibbe also noted that the debate and negotiations on the “fiscal cliff” were somewhat peculiar. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like we went over the fiscal cliff a long time ago,” explained Kibbe.
Over the last six years, I’ve been watching Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) very closely. Back in 2008, Chambliss faced a tough challenge in a three-way, finding himself in a runoff against Jim Martin, a liberal Democrat.
Part of the problem was campaign organization. Insider Advantage quoted an unidentified Republican who said that Chambliss and company had the organization of a “bad state House race,” calling it a “embarrassing campaign.” There was also the perception of Chambliss among Georgia Republicans. Insider Advantage again quoted a unidentified Republican who said, “Saxby’s reputation is that he’s spent six years in Washington playing golf. He’s gone on lots of trips. He hasn’t done the down-and-dirty constituent work.”
“Saxby bragged about it his first four years – how much golf he was getting in. It was a real problem and it irked a lot of people,” said the unnamed Republican source. Many Republicans in the state were less than thrilled with Chambliss, who hadn’t been able to endear himself to the state party the way Sen. Johnny Isakson had.
Another issue that hurt Chambliss was that he had lost the support of many fiscal conservatives in Georgia because of his votes that put taxpayers at risk.
Does anyone else remember when Democrats were going to run and win on Obamacare in the 2014 mid-term election? Those bold statements were made by DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) not long after the infamous rollout of the law.
But with the Obama administration’s most recent Obamacare delays — we’re now at 37, if you’re keeping score at home — Democrats are trying to shift the public’s attention from Obamacare to, well, anything else. Consider two recent stories, one from The New York Times and another from the National Journal.
The New York Times story focuses on Democrats’ “strategy” of targeting Charles and David Koch, which had been telegraphed in two recent, disgusting floor speeches by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). There’s nothing really new in the story that we didn’t already know. It just speaks to attempt to change the subject.
The National Journal piece covers Democrats’ attempts to pivot on Social Security by accusing Republican candidates of wanting to privatize a program that is fiscally insolvent over the long-term. The is the more interesting angle because entitlement programs are, typically, Democrats “go to” when they’re out of ammunition.
Energy issues will play a role in four key states that could decide control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election, according to a new poll. Specifically, President Barack Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will weigh on voters’ minds.
The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, found that more than three-quarters of likely voters in four states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — “said they will consider a candidate’s position on energy issues, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, before deciding whom they will support.”
More than two-thirds of likely voters in these four states support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) support construction of the oil pipeline. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), however, does not.
Whether or not these Senate Democrats support Keystone XL may prove irrelevant depending on what action President Obama takes. The poll found that voters in these four states would be less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if the White House rejects the proposed oil pipeline:
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the North Carolina Republican Senate primary and plans to campaign for the conservative candidate in the Tar Heel state later this month.
In a statement released this morning by Brannon’s campaign, Lee called 2014 a “critical year for conservatives,” noting that North Carolina will play an important role in this year’s mid-term election. He stressed the importance of electing candidates that will “work to restor[e] the proper role of government” and “forward positive, specific policy proposals to get America back on track.”
“Greg Brannon is dedicated to enacting a conservative reform agenda in Congress. He is willing to challenge the status quo and entrenched special interests,” said Lee in the statement. “And he has pledged to work alongside myself, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others in the Senate to change the way Washington works.”
Lee, a Tea Party favorite, has put forward a number of reform proposals in recent months, including pro-family tax reform and policies that would strengthen the middle class as well as create opportunity for the poor.
“Greg Brannon will be a strong voice for the people in the Senate and I am proud to endorse him,” Lee added.
Already facing a difficult path to reelection in a red state, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) handed his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a soundbite that is likely to be played on the airwaves from now until voters head to the polls in November.
In an interview with NBC News, Pryor criticized Cotton for a “sense of entitlement” because of his military service.
“There’s a lot of people in the Senate that didn’t serve in the military,” Pryor told NBC News. ”I think it’s part of this sense of entitlement that he gives off is that almost as like ‘I served my country, therefore elect me to the Senate.’ That’s not how it works in Arkansas.”
Speaking of a “sense of entitlement,” Pryor, who never served in the military, currently holds the Senate seat that his father, David Pryor, held from 1979 to 1997. The younger Pryor was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1990 at the age of 27. He ran for and won the state’s Attorney General office in 1998 at 34. He’s served in the Senate seat his father once held since 2003.