Senate Election 2014
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.
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.
FreedomWorks PAC became the latest conservative group to back T.W. Shannon in the U.S. Senate race to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) term.
The grassroots organization announced its endorsement yesterday, calling the former state House Speaker the “clear choice for Oklahomans looking to preserve individual freedom and rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending.”
“T.W. Shannon is a principled leader who doesn’t simply talk about small-government reforms, he works to make them a reality,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC, in a statement. “He has blocked ObamaCare implementation in Oklahoma, signed a pledge to fight Common Core, founded the first States’ Rights Committee to protect Oklahomans from overreaching federal regulation, and consistently voted for lower taxes and more individual freedom.”
FreedomWorks PAC cited Shannon’s consistent votes to reduce taxes and debt. The organization, which endorses free market candidates, also noted that the former Oklahoma House Speaker sponsored legislation “to impose work requirements for able-bodied recipients of food stamps.”
“We have enough talkers in Washington,” said Kibbe, it’s time to send more leaders like T.W. Shannon who will get things done.”
Shannon is facing Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) in the June 24 Republican Senate primary. An early February poll conducted by Harper Polling, found Lankford with a 27-point lead over Shannon.
House Democrat speaks candidly about “unpalatable” parts of Obamacare, predicts losses for his party
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.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) dismissed a constituent’s complaints about the cost of his new health insurance plan, according to audio obtained by America Rising, a conservative opposition research group.
The unidentified constituent called in on Friday during a segment on Keene-based WKBK’s Good Morning with Dan Mitchell. The caller told Shaheen that “President Obama’s health care is not affordable.”
“It’s cost me more, my deductible has more than tripled and my monthly premium has doubled, so it’s not affordable,” he said. “And so, I’d rather have my old healthcare, my old system back.”
Shaheen dismissed his concerns out of hand, telling him to leave his name with the host so her office could call him back “because that doesn’t sound right to me.” She chalked the caller’s complaints up to “misinformation.”
“It sounds, and there’s a lot of misinformation about what’s happening with the health care law,” Shaheen told the caller, “so we’ll get back in touch with you, we’ll find out what’s going on with your plan, and we’ll help you sort that out because you shouldn’t be paying that much more.”