August, 2016

Bevin Threatened Legislator Who Refused to Switch Parties

A Democratic state legislator alleges Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) left a message threatening him and his district on his voicemail in December, one day after he refused to change parties, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

“Bevin made the call to Rep. Russ Meyer (D) at a time when Republicans were furiously trying to recruit party-switchers in the House following the November election that saw the GOP make great strides. Meyer was a top target because he represents a district that votes heavily Republican.”

Is There a Trump Effect Downballot?

Rick Klein: “Donald Trump’s coattails get a dual test on Tuesday, with Trump-style candidates taking on incumbent Republican senators with national profiles in Arizona and Florida. Both John McCain and Marco Rubio have endorsed Trump’s candidacy, despite personal insults the candidate himself has hurled their way. Trump has returned the favors, at least publicly. But Trump’s broader message has resonated in the primaries in both races, and any closer-than-comfortable margins will be attributed to the down-ballot Trump effect. It’s a dynamic that may carry significant weight in November, even if McCain and Rubio cruise to their nominations as expected. Both men will face off with aggressive Democratic challengers in the fall. They will need the Trump base, whether they like those voters or not.”

“On the other side of the aisle, the Bern gets a test in the primary challenge against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Bernie Sanders made clear his distaste for the DNC chair, so much so that she was forced out of her job after her emails were hacked on the eve of the convention. Sanders helped raise money for her primary challenger, Tim Canova, in a Florida race that’s drawn liberal interest in the wake of the convention. All three big-name incumbents are expected to move on, though not without some bruises.”

LePage Raises Possibility of Resigning

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) “raised the possibility Tuesday that he may not finish his second term, amid mounting pressure from Democrats and members of his own party to amend for his recent actions,” the Portland Press Herald reports.

Said LePage: “I’m looking at all options. I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”

Electoral Blowout Doesn’t Look Likely

Stuart Rothenberg: “Over the past 10 presidential contests, there have been three narrow Electoral College wins (1976, 2000 and 2004) and three true blow-outs (1980, 1984 and 1988). The remaining four contests (1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012) produced something in between — a comfortable victory for the winner but not quite a landslide. The winners in those four elections received between 332 and 379 electoral votes, while the losing candidate drew between 159 and 206 electoral votes. (In four of the 10, there was a faithless elector.)”

“At this point, Clinton is more likely to approach the size of Obama’s wins, whether his 365-to-173 electoral vote win over John McCain in 2008 or his more narrow 332-to-206 victory over Mitt Romney four years later. A 1980-style blow-out does not seem to be in the cards given the country’s current political divide or the two major-party nominees.”

House Conservatives Plot Against Speaker Again

“House Speaker Paul Ryan’s re-election to his leadership post in January is fast turning into a potential showdown between establishment Republicans and conservatives looking to weaken the speaker and win changes to House rules,” the Huffington Post reports.

“Conservatives don’t have enough votes to oust Ryan (R-WI). But they say their coup movement shows his hold on the speakership is far more tenuous than he realizes. Denying Ryan re-election on the first ballot would undermine his political future and cast him as a conservative pariah, they say, and may give conservatives leverage to enact rules changes that would help them push their agenda for years.”

Why Is Colin Powell’s Foundation Treated Differently?

Matthew Yglesias has a must-read piece on former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s charitable foundation and why it’s treated differently than the Clinton Foundation.

Because Colin Powell did not have the reputation in the mid- to late ’90s of being a corrupt or shady character, his decision to launch a charity in 1997 was considered laudable. Nobody would deny that the purpose of the charity was, in part, to keep his name in the spotlight and keep his options open for future political office. Nor would anybody deny that this wasn’t exactly a case of Powell having super-relevant expertise. What he had to offer was basically celebrity and his good name. By supporting Powell’s charity, your company could participate in Powell’s halo.

But when the press thinks of you as a good guy, leveraging your good reputation in this way is considered a good thing to do. And since the charity was considered a good thing to do, keeping the charity going when Powell was in office as secretary of state was also considered a good thing to do. And since Powell was presumed to be innocent — and since Democrats did not make attacks on Powell part of their partisan strategy — his charity was never the subject of a lengthy investigation.

Which is lucky for him, because as Clinton could tell you, once you are the subject of a lengthy investigation, the press doesn’t like to report, “Well, we looked into it and we didn’t find anything interesting.”

Democrats Favored to Take Back Senate

First Read: “We’re now just a little more than two months until Decision Day 2016, and here is the downballot reality: Democrats are on track to take back the Senate. It’s not a slam dunk, of course. But in the battle for control of the Senate, you’d rather be the Democrats than the Republicans. Here’s the math: With the GOP holding a 54-46 majority, Democrats need to pick up four Senate seats if they win the White House (because the vice president gets to break a 50-50 tie), and they need five seats if they don’t.”

“So you if you’re the Democrats, you can realistically get to four pickups and control of the Senate, if Clinton wins the presidential race. But Nevada is key here, because a GOP win means Democrats will have to win another seat to win control.”

Clinton Looks to Fluster Trump In Debate

“Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal, seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him in four weeks at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation,” the New York Times reports.

“Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump to gauge how he may respond to attacks and deal with a woman as his sole adversary on the debate stage.”

“They are undertaking a forensic-style analysis of Mr. Trump’s performances in the Republican primary debates, cataloging strengths and weaknesses as well as trigger points that caused him to lash out in less-than-presidential ways.”

Democrats Pull Back In Ohio Senate Race

“The Democratic Party’s national Senate campaign arm has canceled more than a week of television ads that were set to run next month in the key battleground of Ohio, where former governor Ted Strickland (D) has struggled to gain traction against incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R),” the Washington Post reports.

“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had reserved advertising time on Ohio TV stations starting Sept. 13. Now, according to political ad trackers in both parties, the national Democrats won’t launch that campaign until Sept. 22.”

Clinton Hits Trump In Rare Attack Ad In Utah

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is calling Donald Trump “unfit and unprepared” in a mailer sent to some Utah voters, a rare dip of the toe into Utah’s electoral waters by a Democratic presidential candidate, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“The campaign wouldn’t say how many mailers were sent out or what segment of voters they were targeting, but it is obviously not Democrats.”

Trump Blames Clinton for Weiner Sexting

Olivia Nuzzi: “If you were a presidential candidate who polled low among women, who was on your third wife, who had a reputation for womanizing and a professional relationship with a man who’d recently been axed from his job for sexual harassment, would you respond to the latest Anthony Weiner scandal by A. Staying out of it; B. Changing the subject; or C. Attacking your opponent by making a dubious connection between Weiner’s behavior and her own?”

“If you chose C, congratulations: This election has officially warped your sense of good judgment.”

GOP Leaders Will Meet Privately with LePage

“Republican leaders in Maine are trying to figure out a fitting punishment for racially charged comments and a threatening voicemail made by Gov. Paul LePage, who has repeatedly avoided punishment for impolitic remarks,” the AP reports.

“Republican Senate and House leaders are arranging a closed-door meeting with LePage before deciding the next step as November state legislative elections loom.”