South Dakota

Democratic donors turn eyes to the Senate

Just hours after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that Democrats aren’t likely to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico ran a story noting that many high-dollar donors are shifting their focus to the Senate races in which vulnerable Democrats are running:

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency. 
[…]
Some Democratic operatives think a big chunk of that money should be going to Senate contests instead — and they’re beginning to make that case to wealthy contributors. One senior Democratic strategist who is involved in a number of Senate races said conversations with many of the party’s biggest donors about shifting their giving away from the House and toward the Senate had begun and that, “it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the results.”

“After the health care rollout and with the start of the new year, Democratic donors are starting to focus on a critical choice they have to make: Donate money to pick up a small handful of House races or defend the Senate majority at all costs so that the president can get something — anything — done,” the strategist said.

SD Senate: Ex-GOP senator launches Independent bid

Larry Pressler

Republicans see the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota as part of their path to take by control of the chamber in the 2014 mid-term. But a former Republican senator could throw a wrench in those plans.

Larry Pressler, who describes himself as “moderately conservative,” announced last week that he is running for the seat as an Independent (emphasis added):

“Today, I am announcing that I am running for the United States Senate, and I intend to win,” Pressler said.

But Pressler, 71, a lifelong Republican who was in the GOP for his entire time in Congress, won’t be in that party’s crowded primary. Instead, he’d run as an independent, giving voters next November a third choice between presumed Democratic nominee Rick Weiland and the Republicans’ top candidate.

“I want to…end the poisonous bipartisan deadlock in Washington,” Pressler said this week.

Long a moderate Republican, Pressler broke with his own party in the past several years. He endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012. Today, he says he’s a “deficit hawk” who wants to balance the budget in part by cutting back on foreign military spending. That includes canceling unneeded weapons projects and closing some overseas bases.

Pressler’s endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 is a fact that will be well publicized by Republicans, who will likely nominate former Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD).

Nate Silver: GOP could take control of the Senate in 2014

With former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) deciding to pass on the open seat in Montana, the odds of a Republican takeover have increased, according to Nate Silver, a political analyst with an uncanny ability to predict elections.

Republicans already had a fair chance to take control of the Senate before Schweitzer’s surprising announcement this past weekend. But with six seats currently held by Democrats in traditionally red states, three of which will be open seats, the odds are beginning to look favorable for Republicans.

“The G.O.P.’s task will not be easy: the party holds 46 seats in the Senate, and the number will very probably be cut to 45 after a special election in New Jersey later this year,” wrote Silver at FiveThirtyEight. “That means that they would need to win a net of six contests from Democrats in order to control 51 seats and overcome Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s tiebreaking vote.”

“A race-by-race analysis of the Senate, in fact, suggests that Republicans might now be close to even-money to win control of the chamber after next year’s elections,” adds Silver. “Our best guess, after assigning probabilities of the likelihood of a G.O.P. pickup in each state, is that Republicans will end up with somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on the threshold of a majority.”

NRSC Chair Says Nice Things about Big Government Republicans

NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a stated policy of not getting involved in GOP primary races. But with control of the Senate possibly up for grabs next year, there is a temptation for some to promote certain candidates whose records shows a willingness to preserve the status quo in Washington. During an interview yesterday on C-SPAN, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) came pretty close to endorsing two establishment candidates running for open Senate seats in South Dakota and West Virginia:

In an interview Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said he had “great confidence and faith” in Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) and former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, the Republican front-runners to capture seats held by a pair of retiring Democrats.

She seems to be clearly on her way to being nominated as the Republican candidate in West Virginia,” the campaign committee chairman said of Capito, calling her “a great House member.” Moran was nearly as effusive in praising Rounds, describing the former two-term governor as an “outstanding candidate.”

The NRSC has been criticized for supporting establishment candidates, including open seats in solidly Republican states, when there were more conservative challengers running. Perhaps the best example of this came just last year when the NRSC backed David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz in the open Senate seat in Texas.

Mercatus Center Releases “Freedom in the 50 States” Rankings

Freedom in the 50 States

Do you live in a free state? This question would receive a variety of answers because, after all, the 50 states make up our Union each have their own versions and views on freedom.

Politicians on the “left coast” view freedom as “freedom from want,” which is why they have set in place a vast — and costly — welfare state and burdensome regulatory policies. The north isn’t too dissimilar, especially with its emphasis on nanny state policies.

States that comprise the “libertarian west” and the south tend to have fiscally conservative-leanings and the approach toward personal liberty is, while not great on every issue, generally much less regulated.

So how do you determine if you live in a free state? The Mercatus Center has released its annual report, Freedom in the 50 States, which serves as a guide to weigh various aspects of freedom — fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom.

The authors of the report, William Ruger and Jason Sorens, explained their findings yesterday and concluded that states that clamp down on freedoms are seeing people leave for states with more freedom.

“The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave,” wrote the authors of the report. “And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.”

GOP Could Gain South Dakota Senate Seat in 2014

Tim Johnson

Republicans had their sights set on the Senate seat in South Dakota in 2014, but they may have been handed some help. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), who has served in the chamber since 1997, has announced his retirement:

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) will not seek reelection in 2014, The Hill has confirmed, putting another red-state seat up for grabs in the battle for control of the Senate.

Johnson, who is serving his third term, will announce the news on Tuesday at the University of South Dakota, his former school. Johnson will be the fifth Senate Democrat to retire this election cycle.

The decision gives Republicans another prime pickup opportunity as they work to win back control of the Senate.

Republicans need to gain six seats to flip control of the upper chamber in 2014. Mitt Romney carried South Dakota with 57 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election.

Latest polling from The Hill shows more pick-ups for GOP

The last round of polling from The Hill before election day has somewhat better results for Democrats that previous polling, however, it still looks bad for them on election day:

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party.

The data suggest a GOP pickup that could easily top 50 seats (the party needs 39 for control of the House).

Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play.

According to The Hll, Republicans are ahead in 31 out of the 40 districts polled that are currently held by Democrats. They also note that they didn’t even poll 15 districts because Republicans were already poised to win.

Here is a look at the latest polling from The Hill.

CO-3

  • Scott Tipton (R): 47%
  • Rep. John Salazar (D): 43%
  • Undecided: 8%

FL-2

GOP challengers outraising Democratic opponents

The many of the most vulnerable House Democrats have been outraised by their Republican opponents, according to Hotline on Call:

House Republican challengers continue to show impressive fundraising strength in the final stretch of the election, with 34 of the 56 most vulnerable House Democrats getting outraised by their Republican challengers, from October 1-13.

The late fundraising tallies are another sign that the Republican momentum is only growing, and the party’s momentum is being reflected in a surge of grassroots donations to GOP challengers.
[…]
As always, some Republican numbers jump off the page. Republican Kristi Noem (S.D.) continued her furious fundraising pace, hauling in $275,000 in her challenge to Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D). Herseth Sandlin only reported raising a mere $59,000. Noem now has double what the congresswoman has in the bank for the final stretch — $502,000 to $225,000, respectively. That’s an ominous sign for Herseth-Sandlin’s re-election prospects.

Democratic firebrand and fundraising dynamo Alan Grayson (Fla). was outraised by former state Sen. Daniel Webster (R), who has been a poor fundraiser thus far. Webster raised $395,000 in the first two weeks of October, while Grayson reported having raised $295,000 — but that included a $95,000 loan. Grayson still has a $814,000 to $340,000 cash on hand advantage.

House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) challenger, Republican Sean Bielat raised a stunning $654,000 in the two weeks, more than doubling Frank’s tally.

Lawsuits Await As ObamaCare Passes

Shortly, ObamaCare will be the law of the land, then the next round in the battle begins:

WASHINGTON — The battle over health care is poised to move swiftly from Congress back to the country as Democrats, Republicans and a battery of interest groups race to define the legislation and dig in for long-term political and legal fights.

President Obama plans to open a new campaign this week to persuade skeptical Americans that the bill holds immediate benefits for them and addresses the nation’s shaky fiscal condition. Republicans said they would seek to repeal the measure, challenge its constitutionality and coordinate efforts in statehouses to block its implementation.

The politics of health care are fragile — and far from certain — in the eight-month midterm campaign that will determine which party will control Congress next year. But both sides steeled for a fight to extend well beyond November, involving state legislative battles, court challenges and, ultimately, the next presidential race.

Even before the final vote, Republicans began relentlessly assailing lawmakers who supported the legislation, suggesting Democrats are spendthrift and proponents of big government. Democrats said they would seek to capitalize on the momentum from their success and strive to move beyond the political arguments in hopes of demystifying the complicated legislation.

“We ought to focus on not the political stakes, but the stakes for the country,” David Plouffe, an adviser to Mr. Obama, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re going to go out there and not just talk about what we’re for, but what the Republicans are voting against.”

Get A “Cash For Clunkers” Rebate? You Might Owe Taxes On It

In at least one state, residents are discovering that they have to pay income taxes on their “Cash for Clunkers” rebate:

The Cash For Clunkers program is adding to the activity at treasurers’ offices all around South Dakota. First, people were asking for proof of ownership, so they could show they owned their vehicle for a full year, allowing them to cash it in. Now, they’ll be returning to register their new vehicle. And when they do, new owners need to bring every bit of paperwork provided to them by their dealer.

“That means they need their title, their damage disclosure, their bill of sale and the dealers have 30 days to get that to them,” Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson said.

But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the treasurer’s office windows. That’s because the government’s rebate of up to $4500 dollars for every clunker is taxable.

“They didn’t realize that would be taxable. A lot of people don’t realize that. So they’re not happy and kind of surprised when they find that out,” Nelson said.

Yea, I bet they are.


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