Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Senate’
December 9th, 2010 at 5:30 pm
As 2012 Race Begins, Keep Your Eyes on Missouri
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Yes, the Show-Me State is virtually always an important bellwether of which way the presidential election is headed. But in 2012, it may say a lot about the future of the senate as well.

Freshman Democrat Claire McCaskill will be standing for reelection in 2012. She’s a canny political operator and a fairweather moderate — both of which are necessary in this most swinging of swing states.

The Missouri GOP looks to have a full bench — Jim Talent, the mainstream Republican who McCaskill defeated in 2006 is said to be mulling a comeback attempt. Yet the most interesting development may be that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint — the conservative senate leader who is apparently not content to let any grass grow under his feet — is already feeling out an alternative candidate.

That candidate is Sarah Steelman, the former Missouri State Treasurer who was nearly the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2008. Steelman is smart, articulate, accomplished, attractive and (best of all) an erstwhile economics professor. If you start to hear her name more often, it’s a good leading indicator that 2012 may follow the 2010 trend and bring another class of exceptional Tea Party candidates to the upper chamber.

July 3rd, 2010 at 8:51 pm
Did Bill Clinton Eulogize Himself?

That’s the contention of Slate’s Steve Kornacki, who heard more than an aw-shucks defense of the late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) from the former president.  Byrd was a former Klansman who Clinton seems to think rode the changing tides of racial (in)tolerance to an unbroken 51 year Senate career.

But to hear Clinton tell it, Byrd’s Klan membership — and, more broadly, the ghastly record on racial issues that marked his first three decades in Congress — was more the product of a cynical career calculation. He knew it was wrong but figured it would help him get ahead, and then, when he finally did establish himself in Washington, he tried to make up for it by using his power for good. (A similar portrait of LBJ emerges in Robert Caro’s exhaustive biographical series.)

Watching Clinton today, I couldn’t help thinking that the former president, intentionally or not, was also talking about himself and his own approach to politics. Like LBJ, Clinton never really saw the point in making principled-but-unpopular stands in election years. The important thing, he seemed to believe, was to be in office and to make as many right decisions then as politics would allow.

Ah, the courage to be conniving.  Thanks to Kornacki’s insight, Americans can relearn a lesson they’d probably prefer to forget: When it comes to rationalizing bad behavior by politicians, Bill Clinton is the undisputed master.

June 29th, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Who is Ron Johnson?
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Answer: quite possibly, the margin of victory for Republicans in the United States Senate.

According to a new report from Public Policy Polling today, the largely unknown Johnson (a plastics manufacturer from Oshkosh) is within two points of the Badger State’s liberal stalwart, Senator Russ Feingold.  If the Wisconsin seat flips, it puts Republicans very close to retaking the Senate. Here’s the succint explanation.

Republicans currently have 41 seats in the Senate. Since the tie-breaking vote in the Senate belongs to the Democratic Vice President, Republicans would need a net pickup of 10 seats to retake the majority — an extremely high threshold.

To start with, that means having no Republican incumbents get beat. That shouldn’t be too hard. There aren’t many GOP incumbents around these days, and the ones that are are fairly safe. Only North Carolina’s Richard Burr looks vulnerable this year and he’ll probably be able to ride it out.

The next step is hanging on to the seven open GOP seats: one due to a Republican primary in Utah, the other six owing to retirements in Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, and New Hampshire. Utah, Kansas, and New Hampshire look very safe right now. Kentucky will be close and will likely hinge on how cautious Rand Paul can learn to be. Florida has scrambled into a three-way race with Charlie Crist’s decision to run as an independent, but look for Marco Rubio to make a strong showing as the year continues. Ohio and Missouri will likely stay tight up through election day.

Assuming a perfect defense, then, Republicans will still need to pickup 10 seats on offense. There are a few pieces of low-lying fruit: North Dakota Governor John Hoeven will almost certaintly win the seat being vacated by Byron Dorgan. The odds also look quite favorable for Dan Coats in Indiana and Mike Castle in Delaware to pick up open seats, and for John Boozman in Arkansas to defeat incumbent Blanche Lincoln.

Factor in those wins and Republicans still need six seats for a majority. And with the Wisconsin race competitive, they now have seven prospects. In addition to Johnson’s challenge to Feingold, there are also serious threats to Democratic incumbents in California, Nevada, Colorado, and Washington. With Republicans competitive for open seats in Illinois and Pennsylvania, the Wisconsin race actually gives the GOP an ever-so-slight margin of error for taking back a majority come election day.

And who is this great white hope of the upper midwest? George Will’s profile in the Washington Post last month provides some insight. If he’s right, this may be one more member of an exceptional senate class in 2010. To wit:

The theme of his campaign, the genesis of which was an invitation to address a Tea Party rally, is: “First of all, freedom.” Then? “Then you’ve got to put meat on the bones.” He gets much of his meat from the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages. And from a Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, whose “road map” for entitlement reform Johnson praises. Health care? “Mitch Daniels has the solution.” Indiana’s Republican governor has offered state employees the choice of consumer-controlled health savings accounts, and 70 percent now choose them.

“The most basic right,” Johnson says, “is the right to keep your property.” Remembering the golden age when, thanks to Ronald Reagan, the top income tax rate was 28 percent, Johnson says: “For a brief moment we were 72 percent free.” Johnson’s daughter — now a nurse in neonatal intensive care — was born with a serious heart defect. The operations “when her heart was only the size of a small plum” made him passionate about protecting the incentives that bring forth excellent physicians.

This sounds like a conservative who nows how to connect first principles to daily governance. Dare we dream such a thing?

June 18th, 2010 at 12:19 pm
America’s Top Three Bizarro Candidates

Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s a female wrestler!  It’s a “meltdown mogul!”  No, it’s…Alvin Greene?

Thank goodness for the East Coast and its bipartisan craziness when it comes to U.S. Senate candidates.  In Connecticut former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon is using her millions to batter her Republican primary opponents with the financial equivalent of a conveniently located folding chair.

Florida’s Democratic primary just got more intriguing with the unexpected candidacy of Jeff Greene, a “meltdown mogul” who made a killing betting on the housing market collapse who had Mike Tyson serve as his best man.  The possibility of his beating establishment favorite Rep. Kendrick Meek has some party officials thinking about backing newly Independent Charlie Crist in the general election.

And let’s not forget South Carolina where the still mysterious Alvin Greene (no relation to Florida’s Jeff), was recently allowed to continue as the Democratic Party’s popularly chosen nomineeCFIF readers may recall that Alvin raised no money, did no campaigning, and cruised to a 60% victory apparently because of being listed first on the primary ballot.

CFIF will keep an eye on these and other races for you as the election heats up.

February 16th, 2010 at 7:43 pm
Is an Avalanche Coming in the Senate?
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With news of the retirement of moderate Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana dominating electoral soothsaying this week, some other important numbers are getting lost in the shuffle.

At the same time as Bayh’s decision to pursue greener pastures leaves his seat ripe for Republican picking, two West Coast Democrats are finding themselves vulnerable in a way they never imagined.

California’s liberal firebrand Barbara Boxer — a woman too far to the left for even the Golden State — is holding on to very narrow leads in potential contests against moderates Tom Campell and Carly Fiorina or conservative Chuck Devore (what may be most notable is how little difference the Republican nominee makes to the numbers).

Meanwhile, up the coast in Washington, one of the few Democratic incumbents assumed safe this year has received an ominous warning sign. Senator Patty Murray boasts double-digit leads over every Republican that has actually declared against her, but Dino Rossi — the former state senator who has been the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee in the Evergreen State’s last two cycles — actually outpolls Murray by two points. Rossi is said to still be planning on sitting out the race, but in this atmosphere that’s a miscalculation for both his career and his party’s future. Any Republican who passes on a chance for a competitive seat in this year’s environment needs to seek a career in something other than professional politics.

With two of the West Coast’s liberal safe-havens suddenly looking vulnerable and Bayh’s seat seemingly vanishing into thin air, the question has to be asked: how many more surprises can Democrats take before the 2010 Senate elections begin to look entirely hopeless?

January 19th, 2010 at 9:35 pm
Brown Wins!

The Associated Press just called it

Republican Scott Brown has defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.  


With 100% of the precincts reporting

Scott Brown (R):  52% – 1,168,107 votes

Martha Coakley (D):  47% – 1,058,682 votes

Joseph Kennedy (Lib.):  1% – 22,237 votes

For a vote breakdown by town, click here.

January 15th, 2010 at 4:25 pm
Senator Nelson’s Cornhusker Dilemma
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Senator Ben Nelson’s home state kickbacks are notorious.  The “Cornhusker Kickback” is firmly entrenched in the American political lexicon and now Nelson is starting to hear it from his constituents.

According to this report from Politico, Nelson and his wife were eating at a local pizza joint when one patron recognized the longtime politician and yelled, “Get him the hell out of here!”  Other customers began to boo and Senator Nelson and his party disappeared into the Nebraska cold.

It appears that this local pressure is taking its toll on not only Nelson’s approval rating but also his conscience (if politicians have those).  Roll Call reports that Nelson has asked Harry Reid to drop the infamous Cornhusker Kickback.

As Andy Roth over at Club for Growth wrote, “Nebraskans will still be forced to swallow ObamaCare AND they’ll have to pay more for it.  Sorry, Senator Nelson, you can’t unring that bell.”

January 13th, 2010 at 5:23 pm
Markets Still Predict Slaughter in Massachusetts Race
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Much has been made of the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late Ted Kennedy.  The Senate race has major implications for the health care debate in Congress because if Republican candidate Scott Brown were to win next Tuesday, he could provide the 41st vote to stop ObamaCare in the Senate.

Obviously, any vote to limit the size and power of the federal government is welcome in Congress but the initial reward for taxpayers would be great.

As of tonight, however, the markets predict that Mr. Brown only has a slim 25.9 percent chance of victory against Democrat Martha Coakley, but his numbers are up sharply from earlier this month.

Regular polling has also seen a sharp tilt in his favor, as Brown has closed a 30 point gap and made the race essentially a tossup.  History is very much against Mr. Brown’s effort; Massachusetts has not elected a Republican Senator since Edward Brooke in 1972.

September 24th, 2009 at 12:05 pm
60 Democratic Senators
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If you count Senator Robert Byrd, who is recovering in the hospital from a fall, Democrats now have a “filibuster proof” 60-seat majority in the U.S. Senate.

Today, as expected, Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) picked Paul Kirk Jr. to serve as a temporary replacement for Senator Kennedy.  Kirk, like most of the rabble on the Hill, is a lawyer and once served as a health care lobbyist.  He will be sworn in this Friday.

Presumably, Kirk will have the easiest job in the Senate.  When a cloture motion is filed by the Democrats, vote for it.  Nice job to have if you were fortunate enough to work for Senator Kennedy and be well connected in the Bay State.