Senate Election 2014
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.
The elimination of the filibuster for most federal court nominees has made its way into the Louisiana Senate race via a new ad released yesterday by the Judicial Crisis Network which slams Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for backing President Obama’s court appointments.
“Mary Landrieu voted for every one of Obama’s liberal activist judges. Every single one. Even the liberal justices who rubber-stamped Obamacare and voted against your Second Amendment right of armed self-defense,” says the narrator in the ad, listing names of court nominees for whom she has voted to confirm.
“Landrieu even helped change the rules to pack a key court with new liberal judges who will review Obamacare, the EPA, the IRS, and agencies is using to push his unconstitutional, job-killing agenda,” the ad continues. Tell Mary Landrieu to go to work for Louisiana, not Obama.”
Landrieu was one of 52 Democrats who voted for the filibuster rule change so that the Senate would confirm three of President Obama’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most influential court in the country.
The court’s influence is due to the fact that it has broad authority to review executive-level rules and regulations. This would include regulations written by the EPA, IRS, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
It’s no secret that House and Senate Democrats, particularly those facing tough re-election bids next year, have been nervously waiting for the Obama Administration to fix the disastrous federal Obamacare exchange website, Healthcare.gov, and scrambling for political cover to save their own hides amid a health plan cancellations in their home states.
But David Plouffe, a former adviser to President Obama, made comments over on Sunday during an appearance on ABC’s This Week that may not sit well with these nervous Democrats. In the discussion with host George Stephanopoulos, Plouffe said that Obamacare may not work until 2017.
“This program was designed to be implemented by the states. And in most of the states (inaudible) is going quite well,” Plouffe said with a smirk on his face. “You talked about Medicaid expansion. I think it’s just a fact, and it may take until 2017 when this president leaves office, you’re going to see almost every state in this country running their own exchanges eventually and expanding Medicaid.”
“And I think it’ll work really well, then,” he added.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who is seeking the GOP nomination for Georgia’s open Senate seat, told a local talk radio host that the current mood of his Republican colleagues about Obamacare, which is to let the law fail, may not be responsible:
Speaking to local conservative radio station Z Politics, Kingston mentioned the “Small Business Fairness in ObamaCare Act” that he introduced, which would exempt some small businesses from the mandate to provide insurance to their employees under ObamaCare.
“And there’s some criticism, ‘Well, are you helping improve this law when you make that change? And should we be doing that?’” Kingston said of pushback to his bill.
“A lot of conservatives say, ‘Nah, let’s just step back and let this thing fall to pieces on its own.’ But I don’t think that’s always the responsible thing to do,” he added.
“I think we need to be looking for things that improve healthcare overall for all of us. And if there is something in ObamaCare, we need to know about it.”
A Kingston spokesman, Chris Crawford, said in an email to The Hill that Kingston was advocating for a replacement for the law in his interview.
“He essentially said that we don’t just need to wait for Obamacare to die under its own weight, we need to be looking for solutions that would replace it,” he said.
There hasn’t been much polling in competitive Senate races since the Obamacare meltdown began. But what has come out has been generally bad news from Democratic incumbents running for re-election in states won by Mitt Romney in 2012.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is learning this the hard way. Her unwavering support of Obamacare has driven her approval rating downward, according to a poll released last week by Southern Media and Opinion Research, a Louisiana-based polling firm.
Though Landrieu insists that she’s “not concerned about anything” in regard to her re-election, the poll found that 46% of Louisiana voters approve of her’s job performance, a 10-point drop from six months ago, while 51% disapprove.
There isn’t much good in terms of prospects for re-election. Obamacare is clearly her biggest hurdle to overcome, as the poll found that just 34% support the law, while 59% are against it.
An astonishing 70% of undecided voters — and 54% of all voters surveyed — said that they would less likely to vote for Landrieu because she backs Obamacare.
Landrieu does hold a lead against her two Republican opponents, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Rob Maness. In the three-way race, Landrieu takes 41% to Cassidy’s 34%. Maness attracts 10% of voters.
Cassidy has received support from most Republicans in the state and around the country. Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, is an insurgent candidate who has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
During an appearance on CNN’s Crossfire, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) declined to endorse his home state colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for reelection next year.
The comments came during a discussion on internal strife in the Republican Party, including primary challenges to incumbents who don’t always vote in a manner with the fiscally conservative views they espouse on the campaign trail. Van Jones, a former Obama Administration official turned pundit, asked Scott if he was supporting Graham.
“You know, as you three have heard recently, I am up for reelection myself. I’m going to make sure that Tim Scott gets out and knocks on as many doors as possible,” the junior South Carolina senator demurred.
“No endorsement for Lindsey tonight?” asked Jones, to which Scott replied, “I’m certainly going to work really hard for Tim Scott reelection.”
It’s not uncommon for a politician who is up for reelection not to endorse in other races during primary season for fear of upsetting supporters. Scott, who was appointed to the seat in December, may truly just want to ensure his own reelection rather than getting involved in another race. That’s one take.
In a video from his campaign, Ben Sasse, a Republican running for Nebraska’s open Senate seat, blasted President Barack Obama’s so-called “administrative fix” that could mitigate some of the insurance cancellations that Americans have experienced because of Obamacare. The fix, however, is emblematic of a larger problem, as Sasse explained.
“The President did not actually fix anything. But he did provide a constitutional crisis,” said Sasse. “Understand, President Obama cannot legally do what he proposed to do [last week] and them media let him get away with claiming.”
“He can’t fix part of a law by fiat. Our President is not a king. He doesn’t get to make decrees. He doesn’t even have a line-item veto under our current system of government,” he continued. “The only branch of government under our Constitution that has any power to change this law is the Congress.”