Senate

Could Mark Sanford make a comeback?

Mark Sanford

With Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) under fire from conservatives for his desire to raise taxes as part of a “fiscal cliff” deal, there is speculation that former Gov. Mark Sanford, who made news in 2009 due to an affair, could try to make a political comeback:

For starters he’s done the one thing political observers insisted was absolutely necessary in the event he wanted to attempt a political comeback – legitimize his love affair with Argentinean hottie Maria Belen Chapur.  Sanford proposed to Chapur last week in Buenos Aires … and she accepted.  The result?  What was once viewed by some as a tawdry affair now looks more like thehappy ending to a romance novel.

What else is Sanford doing?  Working the press … like Newsday contributor Lane Filler, who encountered Sanford in a very interesting location at the 2012 Republican National Convention this week.

“I saw him coming down the escalator at the press center of the Republican National Convention in Tampa,” Filler writes of his “surprise encounter” with Sanford.

Hmmmm …

So if Sanford has no political future (and ostensibly knows it) then what exactly was he doing lurking around the press corps at the GOP convention?

What Filibuster ‘Reform’ Is Really About

Written by Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

As the current Congress wraps up, and in the after-glo of the election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is proposing to limit the ability of senators to filibuster in the next Congress. Of course, we’ve heard the arguments about Republican “obstructionism” and not allowing measures to come to a vote. Having spent seven years as Senate staff, this is all spin. Reid’s attempt to ”reform” the filibuster is about one thing:  limiting the ability of Republicans of offer amendments that Reid doesn’t want Democrats to have to vote on.

First, let’s remember that the objective of every majority leader is to stay majority leader. To do so means members of his party must win re-election. One of the important ways a majority leader can facilitate such is to protect his members from tough votes. For instance, witness Reid’s current attempts to stop a vote on Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment to limit indefinite detention. You’d think that since many liberal voters and groups oppose indefinite detention, Reid would welcome such a vote. But such a vote would put Democrats and President Obama at odds. So Reid’s favored course of action is to avoid such a vote.

Harry Reid is planning to scale back the filibuster

Harry Reid

Within hours after it became clear that President Obama would re-election and his caucus would add a couple of seats to its majority, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that he would indeed seek to make changes to the filibuster, a procedural tactic long used in the chamber to block legislation and guard minority rights.

It’s hard to hear in the video below, but the reporter asked Reid, “Do you have any plans to change the filibuster?” Reid replied, “Yes, I do. I’ve said so publicly and I continue to feel that way,” adding, “I think that the rules have been abused and we’re going to work to change them.”

Unlike some of his previous comments, which indicated that he would seek broad reform, perhaps significantly scaling back minority rights in that chamber, Reid explained, “We’re not going to do away with the filibuster but we’re going to make the Senate a more meaningful place.”

Here’s video of his comments:

An optimistic view of Tuesday’s election results

The big news out of Tuesday is that we’re now dealing with four more years of Barack Obama, and a lot of people are obviously not happy about that. Though I’m no Obama fan, I’m going to try to be optimistic about the election. Here goes…

President
Harry Reid would have held up the Republican agenda for the next two years. Now the House can hold up the Obama agenda. The House won’t be able to hold up everything, but it’s not like the Democrats have full control and can push through anything they want. Obama’s win also gives assurance that Republican voters will remain furious through the midterm elections in 2014 instead of latching on to Romney’s moderate-to-liberal ways.

Are we better off with Obama than we would have been with Romney? No, but an Obama re-election isn’t the end of the world, either.

Senate
It’s hard to find an optimistic Republican view of the Senate results. They should have taken the majority, but instead are in a tougher situation, making a takeover in 2014 less likely. Still, it was Jim DeMint who said he’d rather have 30 good Republican senators than 60 bad ones.

The optimistic points in the Senate results from last night aren’t numerous, but there are a couple. Jeff Flake won in Arizona, and Ted Cruz won in Texas. Those should be two good additions to the right side of the aisle.

House
The real good news in the House is that the GOP kept control. Control of one of the branches of government is critical to keep Obama in line. They didn’t expand their lead, but they still managed to maintain their majority.

Unions banking on “card-check” in Obama’s second term

Barack Obama and Richard Trumka

Big Labor had high-hopes for President Barack Obama. On their wishlist was the misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” also known as “card-check,” which would likely bolster their ranks by removing worker protections, allowing organizers to bully them into signing off on forming a union.

Legislation was introduced in both chambers, but never made it out of committee, despite Democrats holding sizeable majorities.Republicans managed to take the House in the 2010 mid-term election, stalling any hope unions had of pushing the bill through Congress, which became a sore spot for union leaders.

But during an interview with Molly Ball of The Atlantic, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said that card-check will happen should Obama win a second term and Democrats take back the House in 2014:

I note that Trumka hasn’t mentioned card check, or as he prefers to call it, “labor law reform.” But he denies the union has given up on that priority.

“Never. You’ll see it,” he says. “That’s within the next term.” How is that possible, without a Democratic House of Representatives or 60 votes in the Senate? Trumka smiles. His eyes twinkle.

“There’s another election between now and then,” he says. And the AFL-CIO isn’t going anywhere.

House Republicans likely to maintain majority

boehner

Even though prospect of taking the White House and the Senate — no thanks to Todd Akin — seem to be slipping away from them, the likelihood that Republicans will keep the House is looking very good at the moment, according to the Washington Post:

Democrats appear set to win a handful of House seats from Republicans this November, but at this point there is little reason to believe they are on track to winning back the majority.

According to The Fix’s new House race ratings, Democrats currently have more opportunities for seat pick-ups than do Republicans.

As of right now, though, that advantage is pretty small, and it’s offset by the fact that Republicans are favored to win seven Democratic-held districts — a fact that will complicate the minority party’s path to a majority.
[…]
The ratings show Republicans currently favored to win 226 House seats, while Democrats are favored to win 182. The remaining 27 seats are considered pure toss-ups.

Even if Democrats won all 27 of those seats, they would still fall nine seats short of the majority. Which means, at this point, they need to pursue Republican-leaning seats if they want a shot at control.

Maybe It’s Time to Focus on the Senate

We are 47 days away from Election Day. Republicans are trying to excite voters over Mitt Romney, desperately hoping to bring an end to Barack Obama’s political career. And while anything is still possible, it’s not looking good for Romney, who is trailing Obama in 9 of 10 swing states.

And, sure, you can say that’s one specific poll or that it’s a Politico link, a site that doesn’t typically favor the right. But that fact remains – no matter what the polls say – that the Romney campaign isn’t doing well at all lately.

And now, on top of that frustration, a GOP takeover of the Senate, once thought to be highly probable, is in jeopardy.

We should be focusing our efforts where they’ll have the most impact, and given the outlook of the presidential election, it may be time to shift our focus to the Senate.

Of course, I’m not saying we should just concede the presidential election. If you’re in a swing state, it makes sense to focus some time on the presidential election, but if you’re in a decidedly red (or blue) state, time spent helping Senate candidates may be a better choice.

And, yes, we could also argue that Republican activists in non-swing states could be making calls for Romney to voters in swing states just as easily as they could make calls for Senate candidates, but some of these Senate races are closer than the presidential election.

And if Obama is going to be re-elected, which seems likely at this point, Republicans need to have control of the Senate.

Wayne Root leaves Libertarian Party, backs Romney

Wayne Allyn Root, 2008 Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential nominee and political commentator, resigned this morning from the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) to, according to his resignation letter, “elect good people and change the direction of this country outside of a third party.”

In the letter to the LNC, which is available at Independent Political Report, Root explains that his decision much is not unlike those of previous Libertarian Party presidential candidates, including Ron Paul and David Koch; both of whom left the LP to become prominent Republicans.

When I asked if he was now backing Mitt Romney, Root responded, “I am,” adding, “I don’t deny that Romney and Ryan aren’t libertarians, but Romney is a pro-business capitalist and Obama is a Marxist-socialist.”

“The economy has been trashed. This is about my kids’ future, it’s about my businesses,” said Root. “There is no hope for America if Obama is re-elected.”

Root, who lives near Las Vegas, noted in his resignation letter that he “plan[s] to join Tea Party U.S. Senators like Rand Paul, Jim DeMint, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee in the near future, representing the great state of Nevada.” It’s obviously too late for him to run this year. It would 2016 before Root could make a run, presumably against Sen. Harry Reid; though Root told me that he believes the Democratic leader will retire.

Bob Barr, a former Republican Congressman from Georgia and the 2008 Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, backed Newt Gingrich during the GOP primary. Barr has indicated that he will support Romney in 2012.

Disclosure: I served as campaign blogger for Barr/Root in 2008.

C4L: Audit the Fed Update

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Is Voter Fraud Real? Yes! And It Gave Us Obamacare

John Fund Journal explains to Glenn Reynolds how a few stolen votes in Minnesota is the reason why the Democrats took the Senate majority and could pass Obamacare:


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