April 16, 2014

Sebelius Weighs Senate Bid

Kathleen Sebelius (D) is considering running against Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who called on her to resign after the bungled launch of Obamacare last fall, the New York Times reports.

"Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea."

The Martinez Tapes

Mother Jones published previously unreleased audio recordings, text messages and emails which reveal a side of New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez (R) the public "has rarely, if ever, seen."

"In private, Martinez can be nasty, juvenile, and vindictive. She appears ignorant about basic policy issues and has surrounded herself with a clique of advisers who are prone to a foxhole mentality."

Top Bush Official Advised Obama on Gay Marriage

The New York Times has a must-read look at how President Obama reversed his position on same-sex marriage.

"David Plouffe, a mastermind of the 2008 victory and a senior adviser to the president, reached out to Ken Mehlman for advice. The previous year, Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who engineered President George W. Bush's re-election, came out as gay and began working with the foundation Griffin set up to fund the Proposition 8 lawsuit, attracting well-known G.O.P. donors, strategists and officials to the cause. Mehlman had already met with Obama over lunch at the White House and told him that people voted for him in 2008 because they viewed him as an idealist who would put politics aside and do what was right. Endorsing same-sex marriage would remind voters that he was still that man."

"Mehlman sent Plouffe an email suggesting that the president announce his support for same-sex marriage in a TV interview with a female host. He also laid out specific language for Obama to use. Explain that this was a family decision and not a political one, he advised."

Christie Favors Abolishing Campaign Donor Limits

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) voiced support "for an end to campaign-finance limits, which he said have led to a system that has obscured the sources - but not stemmed the rise - of money in politics," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Said Christie: "The idea you're going to take money out of politics is just not going to happen. None of these laws change that. So let's just have transparency to it."

Democrats Hold Edge in Generic Ballot

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Democrats have staked out a lead over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot, 48% to 42%.

However, just 45% approve of President Obama's job performance, while 52% disapprove.

The Downside of Pay Equality?

Wonk Wire: Phyllis Schlafly says women won't find husbands if paid the same as men.

Republicans Narrow Cities for Convention

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that six cities are finalists to host the Republican National Convention in 2016, "including Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Kansas City."

"Las Vegas and Dallas are thought to be the favorites in the competition -- thanks mostly to generous GOP donors who will help raise at least $60 million to put on the convention. But GOP leaders said the cities are all under equal consideration."

Quote of the Day

"I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close."

-- Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the New York Times.

GOP Governor Signs Ban On Minimum Wage Increase

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill "prohibiting cities across the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage and employee benefits, including vacation or sick leave days," the Huffington Post reports.

"Advocates of the new law contend that efforts to increase the minimum wage across various municipalities could potentially harm local business communities."

GOP Lawmaker Calls Breastfeeding 'Smart and Sexy'

A Republican legislator in the Alaska state House apologized for touting the benefits of breastfeeding by calling it "smart and sexy," the Huffington Post reports.

Said state Rep. Shelley Hughes (R): "My intent was to draw attention to this incredibly important issue. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of attention I hoped to receive. I take full responsibility for the headline. I apologize for the poor choice of words, and am sorry if I offended anyone."

Outside Groups Have Raised Nearly $1 Billion

"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sitting on one of the largest bank accounts in politics, both among party-linked campaign committees and outside groups. Among party-backed groups that have disclosed their fundraising, the closest rival is the Democrats' Senate committee, sitting on $22 million at the end of March... House Republicans' committee ended February with almost $24.8 million banked," the Miami Herald reports.

"But party-aligned committees are just one piece of the political money puzzle that is already approaching the $1 billion mark -- completely independent of candidates whose names are on the ballots."

The Fix has the Q1 fundraising winners and losers.

Bloomberg Plans $50 Million Challenge to NRA

Michael Bloomberg, "making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association," the New York Times reports.

"The considerable advantages that gun rights advocates enjoy -- in intensity, organization and political clout -- will not be easy to overcome. Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg has already spent millions of dollars trying to persuade members of Congress to support enhanced background check laws with virtually nothing to show for it."

April 15, 2014

Landrieu Staged Hearing for New Ad

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) released a very effective ad using footage from local and cable news broadcasts.

However, the Weekly Standard notes at least one scene -- Landrieu speaking at a committee hearing -- was re-enacted for the ad.

"The reenactment fixes a verbal flub from Landrieu's original speech. Originally, she said 'Do you think there are a bunch of fairy godmothers out there that just wish a magic wand?' The line is cleaned up for the campaign ad."

See more...

Mayor Quits After Saying Disabled Shouldn't Have Sex

"The Conservative mayor of Swindon has resigned after he called disabled people 'Mongols' and questioned whether they should be allowed to have sex," Huffington Post UK reports.

Abbott Comfortably Ahead in Texas

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey in Texas finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor by double-digits, 51% to 37%.

Key findings: "Those numbers are largely unchanged from our last poll of the state in early November when Abbott had a 50/35 advantage. Davis had a 39/29 favorability rating right after her famous filibuster last June, but since then voters in the state have mostly moved toward having negative opinions about her and now she's at a 33/47 spread."

The U.S. Is an Oligarchy

A new study finds that rich and powerful interest groups have a much greater impact on government policy than the majority of citizens.

"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."

Gawker: "The study notes that the position of the median American and the position of the affluent American are often the same; therefore, regular people tend to think that their political interests are being represented when they see the triumph of some political position that they agree with. In fact, the researchers say, this is a mere coincidence. Yes, the average American will see their interests represented--as long as their interests align with the interests of the wealthy."

Sink Will Not Run for Congress Again

Alex Sink (D) has decided not to run for Congress again this year, meaning there will not be a rematch of the nationally watched and extraordinarily costly campaign that Sink lost a little over a month ago to Rep. David Jolly (R), the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"If you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention."

-- A new ad from J.D. Winteregg (R), who is challenging Speaker John Boehner in next month's Ohio congressional primary.

See more...

Most Republicans Undecided in Iowa

A new Loras College Poll in Iowa finds Mark Jacobs (R) edging Joni Ernst (R) in the GOP Senate primary, 19% to 18%, with the other candidates were in single digits: Sam Clovis at 7%, Matt Whitaker at 4% and Scott Schaben at 4%.

Is Obama Data Too Much for Democratic Candidates?

Advertising Age says that local Democratic campaigns across the country "may struggle to use something as big and complex as Obama's data trove, which was built for a nationwide campaign. Think of taking a fire hose to your flower garden, or asking the local marina's security guy to dock a submarine."

"The fact is, even if the political topics had stayed the same, most state legislative or U.S. House candidates can't possibly use all the data that's been given to the party. And, just as important, a single candidate simply doesn't have the resources to hire more than one internal data handler, much less replicate the 50-plus crew that steered the Obama analytics ship."

Rowland's Book That Wasn't

John Murray says former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland (R) wrote a book while on a "government sponsored sabbatical."

"While in prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, Rowland had written a book, and had unsuccessfully tried to sell it to publishing houses in NYC. He asked me to edit the book, and he was determined to get it published even if he had to do it himself. The book had tremendous information in it, especially his descriptions of prison life, but it largely missed the mark. There was little mention of the troubles that led to his resignation, and for someone who had spent 25 years in public office, there were no keen insights into the political process."

Barry Goldwater's Campaign Legacy

Arizona Republic: "Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign, which is getting new attention because 2014 marks its 50th anniversary, made plenty of mistakes in the Arizona Republican's landslide loss to Democrat Lyndon Johnson. But one lasting innovation was its practical application of large-scale direct-mail fundraising to national politics, an idea that contributed to the conservative movement's subsequent successes."

"Direct mail allowed the anti-establishment Goldwater and his conservative supporters to circumvent the wealthy benefactors who at the time were relied on to bankroll White House campaigns. In the GOP primaries, Goldwater's main rival was moderate Republican New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who was tight with the big-money crowd. Instead of focusing on a few big donors who could write a check for a large sum, the Goldwater campaign reached out to larger numbers of potential supporters who could contribute smaller amounts."

Blackburn Denies Weighing Presidential Bid

"A report over the weekend that Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn might launch a 2016 Republican presidential bid spurred a non-denial denial from her campaign staff, though she appeared to be more explicit during a visit to New Hampshire," the Tennessean reports.

Said Blackburn: "Not at all. No. No. I am running for re-election in Tennessee."

Quote of the Day

"I received that letter, ostensibly coming from Sen. Ino­uye himself, a half an hour before he died in Washington, D.C. Literally. Whether or not this could be construed as Sen. Ino­uye's dying wish -- let me put it this way -- is problematic."

-- Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), quoted by the Los Angeles Times, on whether a letter requesting that he appoint Rep. Colleen Hana­busa (D) to the Senate was authentic.

Christie Remembered What He Ate as Scandal Unfolded

The law firm hired by Gov. Chris Christie (R) "to investigate the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge released more than 400 pages of documents Monday that describe in detail interactions among the governor's aides as the controversy over the closures unfolded," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"In one passage, Christie recalls eating raspberries while at a retreat with his senior staff and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno."

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