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September 02, 2014


Cantor Heads to Wall Street

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) plans to join boutique investment bank Moelis & Co. as he embarks on a new career on Wall Street, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Cantor lost his seat in Congress when he was defeated in a June primary. Rather than continue as majority leader, he stepped down from the post last month."




Republicans Plan Policy Agenda for Senate

"As odds improve that the GOP will control both chambers of Congress next year, Senate Republicans are starting to plan an agenda intended to extract policy concessions from President Obama without inducing the capital's market-rattling brinkmanship of recent years," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Republican senators say the emerging plans aim to show voters that the party can successfully govern--enacting GOP policy while avoiding a sharply confrontational tone that some Republicans fear could endanger the party's electoral prospects in 2016. Some of the top goals include approving the Keystone XL pipeline, passing accelerated rules for overseas trade agreements, speeding up federal reviews of natural-gas exports and repealing the 2010 health law's medical-device tax."





NATO to Create Rapid Response Force for Eastern Europe

"As Ukrainian leaders warned on Monday of 'a great war' with Russia, NATO leaders meeting in Wales this week were expected to endorse their most concrete response yet to increased Russian military intervention in Ukraine: establishing a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to Eastern Europe," the New York Times reports.

"The new force of some 4,000 troops, capable of moving on 48 hours' notice, will be supported with logistics and equipment pre-positioned in Eastern European countries closer to Russia, with an upgraded schedule of military exercises and deployments that are intended to make NATO's commitment of collective defense more credible and enhance its deterrence."




Wealthy Donors Take Advantage of Giving to Unlimited Candidates

The Washington Post notes that "wealthy political contributors have more access than ever to candidates since the ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. More than 300 donors have seized the opportunity, writing checks at such a furious pace that they have exceeded the old limit of $123,200 for this election cycle."

"Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1."





September 01, 2014


Citizens United Case Helped Elect More Republicans

Washington Post: "The 2010 Supreme Court decision that helped usher in a new era of political spending gave Republicans a measurable advantage on Election Day, according to a new study."

"The advantage isn't large, but it is statistically significant: The researchers found the ruling, in Citizens United v. FEC, was associated with a six percentage-point increase in the likelihood that a Republican candidate would win a state legislative race."

"And in six of the most affected states -- Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee -- the probability that a Republican would be elected to a state legislative seat increased by 10 percentage points or more. In five other states -- Colorado, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming -- Republican candidates were seven percentage points more likely to win."




House Republicans Don't Expect Government Shutdown

"Almost a year since the last partial government shutdown began, many House Republicans say they have little desire to start another," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"With one month before the government's funding runs out on Sept. 30, Republicans said they expect to pass a short-term spending measure to prevent a high-stakes clash just before November's midterm elections... Several members also said their desire to avoid legislative feuding in September extends to the Export-Import Bank, a federal trade agency that supports U.S. exporters and whose charter expires at month's end."




Christie Makes Mexico Trip as Foreign Policy Test

As Gov. Chris Christie (R) "prepares to go to Mexico this week for a rare, official trip outside the United States, aides insist that his intent is to deepen New Jersey's economic ties to Latin America and showcase his commitment to Hispanic voters back at home," the New York Times reports.

"But at a moment of spiraling global mayhem, from Ukraine to Iraq, Mr. Christie's trip will double as a closely watched chance to demonstrate a level of acumen and adroitness on foreign policy that has so far eluded him as he weighs a run for the White House."

"Republicans leaders are convinced that Mr. Obama's second-term foreign policy -- guided by an instinctive reluctance to use force and the mantra 'don't do stupid stuff' -- has created an opening for a compelling Republican critique in 2016, and they are eager to find an authoritative statesman to deliver it."




August 31, 2014


Franken Maintains Lead in Minnesota

A new SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota finds Sen. Al Franken (D) well ahead of challenger Mike McFadden (R), 51% to 42%.

In the governor's race, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) leads challenger Jeff Johnson (R), 49% to 40%.




Senator's Refusal to Resign Changed South Dakota Politics

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader has the fascinating story of how Sen. Karl Mundt (R-SD) suffered a massive stroke in 1969 but would not resign.

"Mundt, the state's longest serving member in Congress, never would resume his duties as a senator, though he would occupy that office for three more years. His refusal to resign and allow outgoing Republican Gov. Frank Farrar to appoint his replacement before leaving office himself had profound consequences for South Dakota politics that ripple through today."

"Political observers have speculated on why Mundt stayed, despite urgings from longtime friends, prominent local Republicans and even the Nixon White House. The episode is one of South Dakota's prominent political mysteries."




Political Ads Flood the Airwaves

Associated Press: "Election Day is just two months off and the national tab for the 2014 campaign already stands at $1 billion. Before it's all over, the bill for the first midterm election since both Democrats and Republicans embraced a historic change in campaign finance is likely to grow to $4 billion or more."




Bonus Quote of the Day

"If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart... And I can see why a lot of folks are troubled.... the truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy."

-- President Obama, quoted by BuzzFeed, at a Democratic fundraiser.




Rubio Changes Tune on Immigration

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) "is singing a new tune on immigration as he eyes a possible 2016 presidential run, but it may not be enough to win over disaffected conservatives just yet," The Hill reports.

"Rubio was a leading champion of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year. But in a letter to President Obama and a series of four media interviews this week, he made clear that he now favors additional measures to secure the border before there is even talk of a pathway to legal status for those in the country illegally."




The 5 Worst Campaigns of 2014

Washington Post: "Happy Labor Day weekend! In politics, this marks the final period of calm before a whirlwind nine weeks leading up to Election Day. It's also a good time to reflect on the 2014 election cycle so far -- full of dramatic twists, turns, unexpected triumphs and bitter disappointments. Sometimes all in the same day."

"There have also been a handful of unmitigated disasters. We're talking about the campaigns that failed miserably, after kicking off full of promise, in most cases."




Hawaii Governor Blames Loss on Gay Marriage

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) told the Associated Press that he lost his bid for re-election in a Democratic primary because of his decision to call a special session to legalize gay marriage.

Said Abercrombie: "Republicans crossed over en masse to vote in the Democratic primary, and then the religious factor came in. Doctrinally I was outside the circle and paid for it."




McConnell Expands Lead in Kentucky

A new SurveyUSA poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) strengthening his lead over his challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 46% to 42%.




Quote of the Day

"If the president has no strategy, maybe it's time for a new president."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by the Washington Post, on President Obama stating that the administration has no strategy yet for dealing with ISIS.




Democrats Rally Black Voters in Effort to Save Senate

"With their Senate majority imperiled, Democrats are trying to mobilize African-Americans outraged by the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., to help them retain control of at least one chamber of Congress for President Obama's final two years in office," the New York Times reports.

"In black churches and on black talk radio, African-American civic leaders have begun invoking the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, along with conservative calls to impeach Mr. Obama, as they urge black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections, in which minority turnout is typically lower."




August 30, 2014


McConnell Campaign Manager Quits Amid Scandal

"Jesse Benton resigned as Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) campaign manager following reports that he had emerged as a figure in an endorsement scandal during the 2012 Iowa presidential caucus," the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

"In an emailed statement Friday evening, Benton denied any involvement in the scandal, in which Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson admitted receiving payments from U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's campaign before switching his endorsement to the congressman. He had previously backed U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann."




Obama Weighs Delay in Action on Immigration

President Obama "is considering a delay of his most controversial proposals to revamp immigration laws through executive action until after the midterm elections in November, mindful of the electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates," the New York Times reports.

"The president vowed in late June to act unilaterally, declaring a deep frustration with what he termed Republican obstruction in Congress... But now Mr. Obama and his aides appear to be stepping back from a firm commitment to that timing, a move that could draw fire from immigration advocacy groups who are expecting decisive action soon."




Judge Strikes Down Texas Abortion Law

"A federal judge invalidated a major Texas abortion regulation that would have shut down 19 licensed clinics next week, ruling that it created 'a brutally effective system' designed to close abortion facilities, not to improve women's health as state lawyers had argued," the Austin American Statesman reports.




Neck-and-Neck in Arkansas

A new Rasmussen survey in Arkansas finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D) barely ahead of challenger Tom Cotton (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 43%.




August 29, 2014


Judge Dismisses McDaniel Challenge

A Mississippi judge has tossed out Chris McDaniel's (R) challenge to that state's June 24 GOP primary runoff results, ending another chapter in one of the most bitterly contested U.S. Senate primaries in recent memory, CNN reports.

Jackson Clarion Ledger: "McDaniel is taking the long holiday weekend to mull whether he'll accept defeat from the June 24 GOP U.S. Senate primary, or continue his appeal to the state's high court."




America's First Real Post-Cold War President

Stuart Stevens: "Every President has to deal with a chaotic world that often seems focused on wrecking havoc on America's self-interest. Presidents fail at foreign policy objectives more frequently than they succeed. Yet rarely have we seen a President so openly struggle with a declaration of American purpose and goals. Some of this is undoubtedly due to President Obama's personality and the reluctance he shows in leading on many issues, foreign and domestic. But for the first time since JFK, we have a President who is not a product of the Cold War era--and the ramifications of that are profound."




Peters Keeps Lead in Michigan Senate Race

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan finds Gary Peters (D) leads Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race by six points, 45% to 39%.




Obama Hints He'll Delay Action in Immigration

President Obama "is suggesting that he will defer his self-imposed deadline for announcing an expected change in immigration policy, as the White House wrestles with the political and legal dilemmas involved in making significant alterations without congressional approval," the Los Angeles Times reports.

This would "bow to the concerns of Democratic lawmakers running in Republican-leaning states who have expressed opposition to Obama's plans to act unilaterally on the hot-button issue."

Greg Sargent: "The case goes like this: In the core red states that will decide Senate control, there are very few genuinely persuadable voters left. Base turnout will be decisive. Any action by Obama risks further inflaming the GOP base at a time when the fading of Obamacare as a major issue, and the lack of 2010′s seismic levels of rage, could mean core GOP voters aren't quite as engaged as during the 2010 shellacking."




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