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Archive for the ‘2010 Election’ Category

The Benefits of Wacking Blanche

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

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Yesterday, Jon Chait couldn’t figure out what the benefits of running a primary challenge to Blanch Lincoln, given that she voted for the Affordable Care Act and she actually is representing a fairly conservative state. Today I think he’s much closer to figuring out the logic:

I could see an argument for deploying challengers wherever you can find them just to throw the fear of God into Democrats in Congress. Perhaps the fact that Lincoln is almost certain to lose makes her an especially good target. There was a scene in “The Untouchables” where a federal agent, played by Sean Connery, is trying unsuccessfully to get one of Al Capone’s hireling to talk. So he goes outside the room, picks up the corpse of one of the bad guys, starts interrogating him as if he’s still alive, and then shoots him. The bad guy inside the room, unaware that the colleague that Connery shot was already dead, immediately becomes terrified and starts blabbing.[…]

If you’re not following my analogy, the progressives are Sean Connery and the corpse is Blanche Lincoln. If you’re going to make an example out of somebody, why not pick somebody who’s already (politically) dead? Or so the logic might go.

That’s pretty much the way I’d look at it. Lincoln is almost certainly going to lose anyway, so even if Halter is too liberal for the state, you’re not actually losing anything; the Republican candidate comes out on top either way. And it’s not as though Lincoln is a model Democrat. Yes she voted for the ACA, but she watered it down quite a bit as part of a bloc of conservative Senate Democrats, she flip-flopped on EFCA as soon as Democrats got 60 seats in the Senate, and as the Senator from Wal-Mart and Tyson, she’s not exactly hostile to corporate interests. And for what? Pretty much anyone could have told you she was going to lose her seat no matter what, so if she wanted to, she could have been a solid vote for the Democratic agenda.

There’s a bit of an incentives issue here too. If progressive groups look at Senators seeking re-election from states like Arkansas and give them the freedom to do whatever they have to do to get re-elected, there’s nothing stopping them from running as far right as they can. On the other hand, if they think they have to worry about primary campaigns as well as general election campaigns, that goes a long way towards keeping them on the reservation. And if they’re going to lose their seat anyway, then from a national standpoint you want to get something out of them on their way out, namely their vote on the party’s agenda while they’re still holding the seat.

Will Charlie Crist Leave GOP?

Friday, February 26th, 2010

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I know Chait has been talking this up for awhile, and while I’ve seen some people giving this article a bit of attention today, I’m not sure how seriously any should take it. I know nothing about Jack Funari, but the tone and rhetoric of the article certainly makes him sound like a Rubio supporter. The closing in particular summarizes what I think is the obvious problem with taking the article seriously:

Here, in a minimalist nutshell, is why Crist will lose to Rubio in a Republican primary:
If someone told you that Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, was going to leave the Republican Party to become an independent, would you believe them? Would you believe it about Marco Rubio? No. If you knew anything at all about politics, or anything about Rubio and Dinerstein, you would dismiss out of hand such a ridiculous report as not being credible and just another silly political rumor.

So tell me, do you believe it is possible that Crist will leave the Republican Party to run as an independent?

You do, don’t you?

And that is why Crist will lose to Rubio.

So what we basically have is someone who supports Rubio, or at least clearly doesn’t like Crist, and who also thinks that the GOP primary electorate’s ability to imagine Crist leaving the party will be a huge liability for Crist, spreading anonymously sourced tips that Crist is getting ready to leave the GOP. The self-serving nature of the claim is transparent, and leaves me skeptical, unless Fumari wants to disclose his sources and they confirm.

This isn’t to say that Crist won’t run as an independent, and certainly not that he shouldn’t. I basically agree that it’s impossible to see Crist beating Rubio in a Republican primary at this point, so if Crist really wants to be a Senator, his only chance to do so is by running as an independent and crafting an electoral coalition of Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans. I’m just saying that this particular “report” is a little too transparently biased and self-serving for my tastes, and I’m not sure I can believe it.



Sunday, January 17th, 2010

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by Brien Jackson

I haven’t had much to say about the race for Ted Kennedy’s seat, because, frankly, I haven’t really known what to make of it. I wasn’t a big fan of Coakley’s originally; beyond the fact that she has a somewhat troubling record as a prosecutor, she was also easily identifiable as a poor campaigner, and also lacks significant legislative appearance, or any history with any major national issues she’ll be tasked with making policy on. Coakley’s nomination is a good example of why I’m not a huge fan of special elections; hasitly throwin together a contest with little time for candidates to prepare for it and, especially, campaign, with very few voters actively paying attention to what’s going on almost always produces a contest where the candidate with the highest initial name recognition wins, especially in the primary. Especially where Senate seats are concerned that seems like a problem to me.

But do I think Coakley might actually lose this race? Well, I guess anything is possible, but I’m still pretty suspicious. Enthusiasm gap or not, Massachusetts is still an overwhelmingly Democratic state. It’s so Democratic, it doesn’t have a single Republican in its entire Congressional delegation. And healthcare reform is pretty broadly popular there, which makes Brown’s decision to campaign almost exclusively around blocking healthcare reform somewhat odd. And now, Nate Silver confirms a suspicion I’ve had for awhile, that pollsters generally understate a party’s advantage in states that overwhelmingly favor them.

Anything can happen in a special election, of course. Still, I think at the end of the day, Massachusetts is going to remain as blue as it has been, and I don’t think the teabaggers are going to score a major win in one of the country’s most liberal states.

Dorgan, Dodd, to Retire

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

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The big political news of the day is that both Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Chris Dodd of Connecticut will retire rather than seek another term. Dodd, of course, had been embroiled in a a scandal involving a sweetheart mortage deal from Countrywide that had tanked his poll numbers, with even libertarian kook Peter Schiff polling ahead of him head-to-head recently. Dorgan, however, was pretty well liked, had no major challenger yet, and probably would have retained the seat, although it might have been a tough contest. The obvious narrative is going to be that this spells trouble for the Democrats in 2010, but I’m not sure that’s a logical conclusion. For one thing, there are 6 Republicans who won’t be seeking re-election. For another, while Dorgan’s announcement guarantees they’ll lose the seat, Dodd’s pretty nearly guarantees they’ll hold his, which they probably would have lost if he sought re-election. So it’s basically a wash, but that is a wash that results in a net loss of one seat for Senate Democrats. Still, looking over the map for 2010, I think the field is pretty well set for a more or less even contest, and I think either party is going to gain one or two seats. Which is to say, don’t sleep on the possibility Democrats gain seats in the Senate.

Do Voters Have to Like Healthcare Reform?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

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Atrios writes:

I know I’m a broken record on this subject, but I do think it’s the thing most lacking from the insider conversations on HCR. Not that I really know, because I’m not an insider, but occasionally I get a wee sense of what’s actually occupying staffers in various places. “Voters liking this thing” seems to be at best an afterthought.

It’s sorta weird, really, because on most subjects it’s the first thing they think of, both about the policy itself and the myriad imaginary attack ads that can be run based on the policy. If voters don’t like this thing, it’ll likely be repealed before most of it even takes effect, either because Republicans take over or because frightened members of a Dem controlled Congress do so.

First of all, I think it should be said that the idea that a healthcare reform bill would be reformed is pretty fantasical. For one thing, Republicans would have to regain control of the White House, Senate, and House at once again. For another, they’d have to overcome the filibuster. And given that red state Democrats are the most likely to lose their seats in the near term, the Democratic Senators most friendly to repeal likely won’t be around to vote for it.

But beyond that, this idea that Democrats should be worried that the healthcare bill they pass will be unpopular and shouldn’t vote for anything that might cost them votes just seems bizarre to me, in large part because I simply can’t imagine a healthcare bill that’s popular with the marginal voter in the short term. The simple fact is that any healthcare bill worth passing is going to help the disadvantaged, whether it’s sick people or poor people, and passing legislation to help disadvantaged people simply isn’t good for short term popularity in this country. Among other things, banning discrimination against pre-existing conditions will probably increase the costs of premiums, as insurance companies are forced to cover people who are more costly to cover. Whether that’s popular depends on how willing the average person is to pay a higher premium price in exchange for not screwing over sick people. Perhaps Atrios has a more charitable view of Americans than I do, but from what I can see, one can never go wrong betting that Americans are perfectly happy giving a short stick to the poor or otherwise disadvantaged if it saves them a buck. With that in mind, progressives ought to be more concerned with how much a healthcare reform bill helps the people who need help than how many seats it might cost Democrats in 2010, or 2012, or 2014, because until we get a major change in the median view on social welfare spending that primarily benefits poor people in this country, passing any truly progressive legislation is going to require a willingness to incur short term political loss.

Sotomayor Nomination Splitting Activists and Establishment Conservatives

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

I’d certainly have to say that the most interesting deveopment of the past few days was Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), currently chairing the NRSC, telling NPR that Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist was “terrible.” That marks the first time a high profile, demonstratablu conservative Republican has criticized either since Obama took office, so far as I’m aware.

Digby thinks this is just so much kabuki, but as I said in comments, a wider reading doesn’t really seem to support that. For one thing, Cornyn’s job is to win elections for Senate Republicans, a role that requires him to be somewhat more in touch with electoral reality than your average wingnut. That’s not to say Cornyn isn’t as bad as anyone from a policy standpoint, but he does realize that it’s going to be very hard for Republicans to regain majority status if they drive their support amongst Latino voters down to the levels they get from African-Americans. And given that he comes from a state with a hefty Hispanic population himself, there might even be a bit of self-preservation going on. Cornyn also pissed of the Redstaters by endorsing Charlie Crist in Florida, and offering to go to bat for Arlen Specter in a Republican primary, until Arlen switched parties. So he’s showing some inclination to sleight the base when it’s obviously better for the GOP’s electral prospects. And he’s pronouncing her name correctly.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is still articulating the rationale for a filibuster of Sotomayor, which makes no sense. Ultimately, Republicans just aren’t going to have the votes to filibuster an obviously qualified nominee, which means that they’re going to look foolish for even talking about it, and alienate Latino voters for nothing. But then, no one ever accused them of being rational did they?

This Might Be Why You Say Dumb Things

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

At the risk of delving too far back into the realm of criticizing the netroots, I’ve made the point before that I think a lot of netroot progressives thrive on feeling scorned by the Democratic Party, to the point that they need such a feeling, both professionally and personally. And this little missive from Chris Bowers might illustrate that better than anything I’ve ever seen:

So, here is how I understand things:

  1. We get no new votes on legislation from Specter
  2. Democrats are given no opportunity to challenge Specter in either the primary or general election, thereby locking all of his bad votes into place even though he is in a blue state.

So, we not only get no new votes, but we lose the ability to challenge those votes. Apart from the image of total Republican fail, this isn’t a good thing at all. Not only do we have to deal with Specter’s voting record, which is worse than any other Democrat in the entire Senate, but we are denied the opportunity to even challenge him.

This is so absurd, I almost can’t imagine that even Bowers actually believes it. I realize the netroots isn’t big on Harry Reid, and that Bowers was a frequent critic of Barack Obama’s political strategy, but even granting that, surely Bowers realizes that you don’t get to be the leader of the largest Democratic Senate caucus since the late 1970’s, or elected President of the United States when your middle name is “Hussein,” by being as naive about politics as Bowers seems to think the Democratic leadership must be.

Let’s game this out a little bit. What Bowers is basically saying is that Harry Reid and Barack Obama were looking at a Republican Senator who was in a tough spot in his own party, and was holding a seat that Democrats would likely pick up in 2010 anyway, and decided to offer that Senator a very generous offer to join the Democratic Party in exchange for absolutely nothing. That’s just a cartoonishly caricatured level to take the netroot loathing of Harry Reid, and Bowers’s dislike of Obama too. It’s just unspeakably absurd. Did they”promise” Specter that they would try to dissuade challengers from running against him in the primary? Perhaps, but if that’s the best Specter got, netrooters ought to be thrilled, given that there’s no way for them to actually back that promise up. Ed Rendell can’t, in fact, prevent anyone from running against Specter, even someone of high profile in the state. They can support Specter, obviously, but if the next year sees Specter take positions and cast votes that are unalatable to the median Democratic primary voter, it’s going to be very hard for even Ed Rendell to deliver a primary victory to someone who just joined the party after 40+ years in the GOP.

To be as gentle as I can, Chris Bowers needs to grow up.

How Will Specter Vote?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

I’m actually a bit surprised by the fact that so many in the progressive blogosphere are already wondering whether Specter will just add to the ranks of problematic moderate Senators. I thought there would be at least a day’s worth of happiness before the excitement abated. I guess Specter’s insistence that he’ll continue to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act didn’t help, not did reports that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party promised to keep the primary field clear should Specter decide to run as a Democrat.

Even with all of that in mind, however, I think it’s important to note that Specter is likely to become a much more liberal member of the Senate than he has been, and certainly more liberal than Senators like Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, and Blanche Lincoln, all of whom can say that they’re represented fairly red areas of the country, whereas Pennsylvania is trending more and more Democratic with every passing year. It’s also highly unlikely that Specter, as a Democrat in one of the most unionized states in the country, will indeed oppose EFCA. He may craft some superficial compromise to support, rather than making another outright change of “opinion” on the present bill, but at the end of the day, he’ll come away with a position that’s palatable to labor. Ed Rendell might try to keep the primary field clear, but if it’s openly known that labor has targeted Specter in 2010 (in a Democratic primary no less), and that their support is completely up for grabs, it will be impossible for the party to keep every potential candidate away from the race. It’s also true that Specter will need to position himself as someone rank-and-file Pennsylvania Democrats can trust, and have a reason to support over a more longtime party member.

All of which is to say that the incentive structure is such that, no matter what he’s saying now, Specter will need to aggressively position himself as an orthodox Democrat over the next year.

Someone Put Me on Teevee

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

Just Saying.

If you missed it, Arlen Specter has announced tha he’ll be running for re-election in 2010 as a Democrat, and that he’ll immediately change caucuses in the Senate. That means that Senate Democrats will have 60 members once Al Franken is seated, presumably a filibuster proof majority.

To downplay this somewhat, Specter didn’t really have much of a choice. There was no way he was going to win the Republican primary in the state, and he wasn’t going to be able to win a general election without labor support. Basically the introduction of EFCA was a bullet for Specter. Pulling a Lieberman isn’t possible under Pennsylvania law, and it probably wouldn’t have worked for Specter anyway, assuming the state Democrats put up a respectable nominee. But by running full bore as a Democrat, Specter can potentiallytake the nomination and beat Toomey handily in the general election. But there really wasn’t any other option for Specter, assuming he wants to keep his seat.

What’s most interesting, however, is how this will affect this Congress. Pennsylvania Democrats will presumably not hand their nomination to Specter, certainly not if he maintains a similar voting record to the one he had as a Republican, or continues to support Republican causes like opposing EFCA, or blocking Obama nominees. Indeed, it’s hard to see how Specter could even be competitive as a Democrat without labor’s support, which seems to imply that he will be supporting EFCA once again, presumably putting it on the table. In the past, What’s more, party switching has also been related to shifts in legislative ideology in recent years. Southern Dixiecrats who jumped to the GOP became very conservative members of the caucus, and Northern former-Republicans like Jim Jeffords became fairly mainstream liberals after the change. So if Specter keeps with recent history, you can expect his voting record to move to the left quite a bit.

The move to 60 also rearranges a lot of priorities on a number of issues for key Senators. With 59 members of the majority and a united minority, there’s still a high hurdle to clear legislatively, which creates some incenive for deviation from the majority on certain issues. The rush of Democratic Senators announcing that they wouldn’t support EFCA after Specter announced he would oppose cloture is a good example. With cloture blocked and the proposal dead in the water there’s little reason for members to voice support for the bill if they may be hurt by it. But with a baseline of 60 votes for the majority, those marginal members run the risk of being tagged as the person who killed whatever it is you’re talking about. If Blanche Lincoln misjudges the other “moderates” in the Senate and becomes the lone Democrat to oppose cloture on EFCA, then she’s the person who killed it. The clear incentives here, then, are for Democrats to support cloture on things as  rule, and to attempt to establish their “moderation” by voting against bills at the final vote. But with a baseline of 60 Senators, Democrats can afford to lose up to 10 members on any such vote in the Senate and still pass a bill.

This is big, for at least the next year.

Dodd’s a Goner in Connecticut

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

After landslide victories in Congressional elections in 2006 and 2008, Democrats, particularly in the Senate, are gearing up for another big year in 2010. Currently sitting at 59 members in the caucus, one vote shy of the threshold needed to invoke cloture and end debate on a bill, Democrats are looking at any number of ways to cross the 60 member line for the 112th Congress. Repulican incumbents are retiring in Ohio, New Hamshire, Missouri, and Florida, and in Pennsylvania, a pro-labor Democratic state trending even more blue over the past decade, moderate Republican Arlen Specter is being challenged from the right in the Republican Party, in no small part over Republican opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, presenting another great opportunity for Democratic gains.

So it goes without saying that Republicans will be happy to see the new Quinnipiac poll out of Connecticut, showing incumbent Democrat Chris Dodd with a paltry 33% approval rating, and losing a hypothetical 2010 match-up with former Representative Rob Simmons by 16%. For someone who is not only an incumbent, but has been a fixture in state politics for over 30 years, that’s as much of an insurmountable mountain as you’re likely to ever see. The question now is how national Democrats will respond to Dodd’s lousy numbers. If they don’t improve by the late summer, and the probably won’t, there’s likely to be fervent lobbying in back rooms all over Washington to get Dodd to retire from the Senate, maybe for an ambassadorship or to head some new think tank or whatever, as well as a lot of people in Connecticut leaning on Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to run, a move that would likely preserve the seat for Senate Democrats. However, expect national Reublicans to throw a lot of money into this race, especially if Dodd is the Democratic candidate, as it represents one of their few legitimate chances for gaining seats in the Senate in 2010.

And whichever way the race shakes out, this is almost certainly Chris Dodd’s final term in the Senate.

Specter’s Switch Not Death of EFCA

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

The biggest non-Geithner related story of the day yesterday was the announcement from Sen Arlen Specter (R-PA) that he will oppose cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). With a maximum 59 Democrats in the Senate, Democrats needed at least one Republican vote for cloture to end debate on the bill and Specter, as the only Republican to suport cloture on the bill in the last Congress, and as someone who has enjoyed a good relationship with Labor for much of his Senate career, was the most obvious choice. With Specter announcing he will oppose cloture, the prospect of getting any other Republicans on board is highly unlikely, meaning that EFCA probably is on hold, for now.

However, Specter’s volatile political situation likely means that the bill itself is far from dead. Specter’s new position should be understood as a matter of naked political positioning, designed entirely to stave off a primary challenge from former Congressman and Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, who nearly defeated Specter in a 2004 race in which former President George W. Bush had to be brought in to campaign for Specter just days before the election. Specter has never been liked by the conservative activist base of the GOP and, faced with the prospect of a business community angry over his potential support of a bill to make union organizing easier, was looking at a campaign in which he would have no base of support whatsoever. Now, although he will likely remain unpopular with the Republican base, he can count on support from a business community grateful for his putting EFCA on hold, at least, and who will view him as having a better chance to win a general election than the right-wing Toomey. That said, Specter’s switch likely makes it difficult for him to win in November anyway. Labor groups were major backers of Specter in 2004, and Specter has been more popular with Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania for some time. In a state that is increasingly trending in a Democratic direction, as well as being mor elabor friendly than most, this move makes it very likely that a well positioned, high profile Democratic candidate will unseat Specter in 2010. With that in mind, this move might even make the passage of EFCA more likely in the long run, given the prospect of a marginal Republican being replaced by a mainstream Democrat in a pro-labor state. And I wouldn’t discount the possibility that Specter will flip-flop again between the primary and the general election, in a craven bid to win another term in office, either. So while we’ve probably heard the last of EFCA for at least the next 12-18 months, it’s certainly not dead, either in Democratic politics or in the U.S. Senate.

When Ambition Hurts

Friday, March 20th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

On the perennial dilemna of Governors harboring national political ambitions, Anonymous Liberal writes:

Governors with presidential ambitions often spend much of their time in office trying to raise their profile and pad their resume for a future presidential run. That’s to be expected, and in general, it’s not a bad thing for the people of their state. Yes, these governors probably spend a little too much time in Iowa and New Hampshire, but they also tend to do things to bring positive attention to their states. Governor Mitt Romney, for instance, worked with Democrats in his state to construct a universal health care system, the first such system in the country. Though his ultimate ambitions were clear, he attempted to further them by creating a record of accomplishment as governor.

What’s happening now, though, is very different. The Republican governors with presidential ambitions are tripping over each other to be the one that hoses over his own constituents the most.

This is, of course, pretty obvious. Ever 4 years, you get a rash of Governors who kick around the idea of running for President, and this generally leads them to try to do a lot of good things for their state in order to create a list of accomlishments to, possibly, run on. Similarly, Governors often run for the Senate after leaving office which, again, is usually predicated on being remembered fondly by the voters of their state. Here, however, you have a rather odd scenario in which a group of Republican Presidential aspirants have decided the best way to further their national ambitions is to give the residents of their state the shaft. And, perversely, they’re probably right. It’s certainly not hard to imagine a non-Gubernatorial candidate for President, say, Mitt Romney, criticizing any governor who accepts federal money as only paying lip service to their opposition, and it’s also not that hard to see national Republican voters punishing them for it. So the real lesson here is how decrepit the national Republican Party has really become, that in order to succeed internally, Republican governors must sacrifice the people of their states on the altar of ambition.

I do hope, however, that the DNC and various state Democratic parties make a point of connecting the actions of Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford to their naked political ambitions and, by extension, the national GOP.

SEIU Hits Boren Hard on EFCA

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

Via Greg Sargent, this is just brutal:

I don’t really have a problem with the, um, direct nature of the content. One of the known effects of workplace unionization is safer workplaces, so, logically, less unionization means less safe workplaces. But this will offend some delicate sensibilities (David Broder will have an epileptic fit if he sees it) and so I do have one question for SEIU about the politics of the ad; why Boren?

Rep. Dan Boren represents the 2nd Congressional District in Oklahoma. He’s the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s entire Congressional district, and the 2nd scores as R +5 on the Cook Political Index. He is, in other words, representing a more conservative than average constituency. But he’s also only one member of the House of Representatives, where Democrats have a very large majority and the minority has little to no official capacity to impact legislation. It’s not as if Boren is going to put a hold on the bill, for example, or that his vote will likely tip the scale in either direction in the 435 member body. With that in mind, it seems that such a hard hitting ad would be better placed against someone who was both in a better position to support the bill, and was more likely to impact the bill’s passage.

And since I believe the SEIU is a partner in Accountability Now, count this as another reason I’m skeptical about that organization’s purpose.

Steeleing Away

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

Sean Quinn is reporting that the end could be very near for Michael Steele, and that he will almost certainly be forced out of his position if the Republicans lose the special election to fill Kristen Gillibrand’s House seat in NY-20. DougJ responds:

A little background here. The race should be a gimme for Republicans: it’s a +3-4 Cook PVI for Republicans (too jet-lagged to look this up) and Republicans have a massive registration advantage, something like 18 points. The only reason Gillibrand ever won it is because she ran a perfect campaign and her opponent was caught beating his wife a few weeks before the election. In this race, Republicans have local legend Jim Tedisco (minority leader of the State Assembly) and the Democrats have someone with low name recognition, Scott Murphy (any Democrat will have low name recognition since all the local offices are held by Republicans). It should be a 10-15 point win for Republicans.

But it may not be. And the reason isn’t Michael Steele’s avant-garde theatrics, it’s Eric Cantor’s decision to make all Republicans vote against the stim bill. Tedisco won’t say he which way he would have voted on it, because voters in the district like it, but he can’t buck Cantor et al.

I think Doug is right, on the merits of this, and certainly this foreshadows some problems the Congressional GOP’s strategy is likely to create in 2010, at least, but as it relates directly to Steele, I think it takes the reasoning with a bit too much credulity. The bottom line is that Michael Steele is going to be forced out, which is unfortunate, I suppose, and I do think it’s something of a shame that the first black RNC chairman has been such a failure, but at the end of the day Michael Steele has been a failure. Apart from embarrassing himself with his affected, Carlton-esque, idea of how he should “keep it real” with his blackness, there are looming ethical scandals involving his 2006 run for the Senate, and he has generally not come off as an effective surrogate for the Republican Party. But most damning of all, as I understand it, is that, thus far, he seems to be simply refusing to staff the RNC. The RNC has no senior staff at the moment. None. No political director, no chief of staff, no commnications director. And the way I hear it, there’s no indication that Steele plans to hire any; whether because he doesn’t have a clue how to run the RNC, or because he actually intends to be the entire show himself. But in any event, Michael Steele has a lot of problems that go well beyond NY-20, and it’s like a matter of when, not if, he gets forced out.

Toomey’s In

Friday, March 6th, 2009

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by Brien Jackson

The Hill is reporting that, yes, Pat Toomey is going to challenge Arlen Specter in the Republican primary. This is bad news for Republicans in the Senate. Pennsylvania has gotten much bluer since 2004, and even since 2006 when right-wing Senator Rick Santorum got smashed in a bid for re-election, and this is a double edged sword; it makes it more likely that Specter would be defeated in a general election anyway, but it also makes it more likely that he’ll be beaten by Toomey in the primary this time around, because the holdover left in the Pennsylvania GOP is the true believer remnant. In other words, the median vote in the GOP primary is likely to be very much to the right of the median voter in the general election, a fact that will make it hard for the GOP to compete statewide for a while.

Of course, the best way around this is for Specter to change parties.

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