SSP Daily Digest: 4/21


IN-Sen: Chris “Count” Chocola, head of the Club for Growth and himself a Hoosier, says his organization may step in to help oust apostate Sen. Dick Lugar. The CFG has already talked to Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and if they get involved, they could make up for his lackluster fundraising so far.

MA-Sen: Remember when ThinkProgress busted Scott Brown for sucking up to David Koch for donations while he was publicly saying he wasn’t even thinking about 2012? His pitch worked, I guess: Koch Industries coughed up a $2,500 donation to Brown’s campaign last quarter.

In other MA-Sen news, why does Barney Frank keep doing this? On Monday, he repeated his remarks that he thinks Newton Mayor Setti Warren shouldn’t run for Senate, this time to local blog Newton TAB. I honestly think this is a bit embarrassing for Frank, and makes him look like a jackass. It’s an admission that his private suggestions to Warren haven’t been well-received, and that he’s had to take to the press to accomplish what he apparently doesn’t have the power to do on his own. It’s ugly, and what’s more, I don’t even see the percentage in it. Why does Frank care so much whether Warren runs? Really, just enough.

MN-Sen: Former state Sen. and unsuccessful 2010 SoS candidate Dan Severson says he might seek the Republican nod to challenge Amy Klobuchar, who so far has drawn no opponents. Severson says he’ll decide by May. Also, attorney Chris Barden, another unsuccessful statewide candidate last year (he ran for AG), says he may attempt a Senate race, too.

MO-Sen: It’s getting’ mighty crowded in here… well, maybe. Wealthy businessman John Brunner (who can at least partially self-fund) says he might join the GOP field to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutekemeyer are also still weighing bids, while former Treasurer Sarah Steelman and teabagger fave Ed Martin are already in the race.

TX-Sen: This is just weird. Ashwin Madia (who you may remember as the Dem candidate in MN-03 back in 2008) is also chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. His organization put out a statement the other day in which he said it was “encouraging” to see Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez considering the Texas Senate race as a Dem. It’s strange, as Adam Serwer points out, because Sanchez had a very suspect record on torture during his tenure as US commander in Iraq, while VoteVets has been very critical of torture. Another spokesman for the group hurried to say that VoteVets was not issuing a formal statement of endorsement, just an attaboy for a fellow servicemember.

VA-Sen: Teabagger Jamie Radtke raised just $55K in Q1 and has only $47K on hand. I’m betting that if George Allen does wind up dealing with a serious speed bump on his way to the GOP nomination, it’s going to take the form of Del. Bob Marshall, not Radtke. Still a big if.

VT-Sen, VT-AL: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $770K in Q1 (not bad for the 49th-largest state in the nation) and has over a million in the bank. The Burlington Free Press pegs an uptick in donations to Sanders after his now-famous eight-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he blasted tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch now has a million on hand.


NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Chris Christie’s starting to smell like a plate of scungilli left out in the sun after a July picnic. His job approval has dropped to 47-46, according to Quinnipiac, from 52-40 just a couple of months ago. Sen. Bob Menendez isn’t doing so hot either, 42-40, but those sorts of numbers are nothing new for him (and are actually better than what he was getting last year). In news of more immediate importance, Dems improved to 47-39 on the generic legislative ballot, up from 43-41. (Thanks to andgarden for spotting that question, tucked away at the very end of the poll.) Also fun: Q asked respondents for an unprompted, open-ended one-word description of Christie. The number one response, by far? “Bully,” with 140 mentions.


AL-05: This is just odd. Freshman Republican Mo Brooks cancelled a town hall and replaced it with one-on-one meetings with constituents-by appointment only. What makes this extra-weird is that these meetings are scheduled to take place across the state line in… Tennessee. Reminds me of this infamous incident from the classic MS-01 special back in 2008.

IA-04: Some great number-crunching from G-squared: The new 4th CD went for Terry Branstad 59-37 in 2010, 50-48 for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in 2006, and 49-48 for Tom Vilsack in 2002. I’ll go one further and tell you that Vilsack lost the new 4th in 1998, 47-52. Greg also says that Rep. Steve King currently represents 47% of new CD.

IL-03: Politico has a profile of John Atkinson, the Democratic businessman who may challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski from the left. Atkinson, who has already raised a boatload, hasn’t formally declared yet (and may be waiting on redistricting), but a main theme for him is Lipinski’s vote against healthcare reform.

NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, recently speaking to the Bay Ridge Democratic Club, definitely sounds like he’s leaning toward a comeback. The linked piece from the Brooklyn Eagle contains McMahon’s ruminations on why he lost last year, but I’m not sure I understand what he thinks the reasons are. On the one hand, he says “[t]here was a drop-off in progressive voters.” On the other hand, he cited a memo from Third Way (ugh, but what do you expect) which polled Obama “switchers” and “dropouts.” The memo claims that “[s]witchers were eager to vote in this election, whereas droppers didn’t come out for a multitude of reasons, none of them being they were upset with Democrats.”

What this misses out on, of course, is that Democratic organizations who were pissed with McMahon’s vote against healthcare reform were less inclined to bust their asses for him and drag apathetic voters to the polls on his behalf-something members and officials of the Bay Ridge club made plain to him. (The article says some attendees used “harsher language,” so since this is Brooklyn we’re talking about, enjoy a moment or two imagining what this sounded like.) I’m not sure what McMahon thinks the solution is for next year, if he runs again, but it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to take back his anti-HCR vote. I think he’d be wise to do so.

RI-01: Former Republican state Rep. John Loughlin, who lost by six points to now-Rep. David Cicilline last year, says he’s considering a rematch, but first he’s serving another tour of duty in Iraq. I wonder if Cicilline’s self-inflicted wounds regarding the financial woes of Providence (the city of which he used to be mayor) will make him vulnerable-if not next year (which of course is a presidential year), then at some point in the near future… or in a primary.

Other Races:

WI Recall: Republicans say they will file recall petitions against three Democrats today: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent says that Dems will file petitions against a fifth Republican, Alberta Darling, also today.

WI Sup. Ct.: Yesterday, JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for a recount, which will come at state expense since the final margin of 7,316 votes was less than 0.5%. I’m pretty surprised at the decision, since overturning that kind of result seems almost inconceivable.

Grab Bag:

Alaska (PDF): Dave Dittman, a pollster and former aide to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, tested Alaskans’ feelings about local pols last month. Sen. Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014, has a 57-33 job approval rating, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at 71-27 and Rep. Don Young is at 63-32. Joe Miller, who says he might run against Young next year or against Begich next cycle, has a hilariously awful favorability rating of 18-73. (FWIW, Sarah Palin is at 36-61.) Note that the poll had oddly long field dates: March 3 through March 17.

Demographics: Aaron Blake has another good piece looking at the changing demographics of majority-black districts.

House Majority PAC: The new Dem “super PAC” is out with its first-ever media buy (which they claim is “substantial”-you better be telling the truth), hitting ten GOP freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan’s budget plan with radio ad. You can listen to a sample spot against Sean Duffy here. Click the first link for the other nine names.

DCCC: Speaking of ad buys, props to Dave Catanese for busting what turned out to be a comically bullshit media “blitz” by the DCCC. I groused about this one yesterday, complaining that the size of the buy was sure to be “quite small,” but I had no idea that it would be this comically small: The total purchase was just $6,000 across twenty-five districts, with just $40 (yes, $40!) spent against Larry Buchson in IN-08. Of course, it was the NRCC which provided this info to Catanese, which I’m not sure is such a smart move, since they play this stupid game, too. But my bigger concern is whether local reporters who wrote about these ads will be insulted by the joke dollar values and ignore the D-Trip in the future. I sure as hell would.

Redistricting Roundup:

Colorado: After instantly descending into a whole bunch of acrimony (mostly, it seemed to me, from the GOP side) after the first batch of maps were produced, both parties agreed to go back to the drawing board and start with a clean slate. Republicans sound a lot more excited about the prospect than Dems, but we’ll see if this actually produces any kind of agreement… or if a stalemate eventually leads to court-drawn maps.

Pennsylvania: No surprise here: The Republican majority on the PA Supreme Court picked a Republican superior court judge to serve as a tiebreaker on the panel which will re-draw Pennsylvania’s state legislative maps. This is a direct consequence of a shameful loss of an open Dem-held seat on the court in 2009.

Texas: A new plan for the Texas state House passed a House committee yesterday. The map increases the number of Latino districts from 28 to 30, but Democrats seem convinced that there are serious VRA issues with it.

380 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 4/21”

  1. FYI, Dems may not be out of the recall woods just yet.  The deadline for Julie Lassa’s recount is May 16th, and the recall organizer there claims a recent radio ad that helped their cause:

    Meanwhile, Scott Noble, who heads the recall effort against Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), said the campaign there had received a boost this week from a radio ad paid for by the Utah-based American Patriot Recall Coalition urging listeners to sign the petitions to recall Lassa. That campaign has a later deadline – May 16 – than others targeting Democrats.

    Lassa’s won by good-sized margins before, so I don’t know that she’ll be in any real danger.  Also, not sure how the impending birth of her child would affect any campaigning in a recall election (not saying if that’s good, bad, or whatever, just that it might possibly be a factor).

    1. When I was writing this up. But I realized G^2 had to mean population – going by square footage makes no sense, though it is interesting that the two happen to be almost identical in this case.

  2. Explaimimg Lipinski’s opposition to HCR: “There are just a lot of people out here–particularly seniors who have lived here a long time–who have never relied on the federal government for health care.”

    1. If he claims ignorance of what happened at Abu Ghraib he looks weak and ineffectual, if he did know about the problems at the prison (which he didn’t of course) he’s shown weak leadership. No win.

      The most important thing is that regardless of what the Army ultimately decided regarding his culpability HE WAS IN COMMAND and thus bears responsibility for creating a command climate that made these abuses possible. In the Navy it’s much simpler, you put your destroyer on a sand bar you are relieved, no matter what your personal responsibility was, because it was YOUR SHIP and whatever happens to that ship is your responsiblility, even if you were asleep in your cabin or even off your command compeletely.  The army is a bit more circumspect, but somehow I doubt the GOP campaign adds will draw such a subtle distinction as the USACID (US Army Criminal Investigation Division – who did the review).

  3. This was the same district that elected and re-elected Patrick Kennedy for years in spite of his frequent DUIs, car crashes, drug addiction, destruction of property, and generally being a jackass, so….Cicilline should be fine, especially in Rhode Island in a Presidential year.

    I think RI-01’s Rep. having a major personal scandal or two in the first year is pretty much expected at this point.  

    1. There’s a “testing the waters” phase that comes with severe limits on what you can do, and otherwise you’re legally a candidate.

      These people can drop out at anytime, but that’s always true of anyone.

      Really, candidates throw out “exploratory” as a way to build up anticipation and draw attention to themselves.  It’s smart, there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no legal recognition of any such thing.

  4. That’s got to be a cardinal rule of politics: sometimes it’s just best to keep your mouth shut. Rep. Frank doesn’t seem to have the ability to self-censor, and when he’s undermining the likeliest Democratic candidate (whether he likes it that way or not) in what will be a very tough race against a popular incumbent, he’s doing nothing but gross harm. I hope Sen. Murray, Gov. Patrick, and/or Mayor Warren himself have privately had words with Frank over this latest friendly fire incident.

    I’m also a bit concerned over Lt. Gen. Sanchez as the likely candidate for Senate in Texas. Any Democrat is going to enter a statewide race in Texas as a not-insignificant underdog, and if we figure Sanchez loses (which isn’t a certain outcome, but I think it’s a likely one), how does that look for the Democratic brand in Texas?

    Sure, Noriega was underfunded and White ran in an impossible cycle for Democrats in the Lone Star State, but nobody sane and responsible would argue that they were solid, respectable Democrats. By picking Sanchez, making the electability argument, doesn’t it seem as though Democrats are saying, “Well, we can’t win statewide in Texas when we run decent Democrats, so let’s run a guy who may or may not have been directly responsible for prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq, and let’s see if that works?” It seems somewhat like an abandonment of principles – and you know I’m not saying this as a strongly partisan, ideologically obsessed guy – for the sake of maybe having a better shot through sheer novelty.

    I don’t know, maybe we really can’t do any better in Texas than the guy who signed off on “enhanced interrogation techniques” and laid into the ACLU over its defense of detainees’ human rights. But he’s no Bill White. I’ll find it very difficult to root for him, personally, and I think the Democrats will have richly deserved whatever damage it does to their morale and public image if he loses.

    As for Rep. Brooks, that is truly bizarre behavior, and it does make me wonder a bit whether there’s something going on that isn’t being made public. Democrats did hold that seat prior to then-Rep. Parker Griffith’s ill-advised defection, of course, but Brooks is probably out of reach despite odd antics like this. I wonder how concerned the Alabama Republican Party is about this, though.

    And I’d really rather Michael McMahon fade off into the sunset, thanks. He was one of the rare Democrats who I thought truly deserved to lose last year; trying to psych your opponent out by giving front-row seats to his ex-wife and former in-laws at a debate is a dick move no matter how ugly the campaign gets. I don’t really know my Staten Island politics too well, but I would hope Democrats can find someone less ugh-inducing than McMahon.

    In Wisconsin, I’m nervous about Holperin (and Hansen, to a lesser extent), but I’m really not concerned about Wirch and I’m excited to see that our best prospects for knocking off the Fascist Republican state senators have been actualized by Democratic activists on the ground. Their overachieving surely means all five of those rat bastards will appear on the ballot, and it sounds as though Wisconsin Democrats are doing a bang-up job of assembling strong challengers to each.

      1. The other one that looks interesting is Huckabee. The scenario upthread looks very plausible to me.

          1. I’m curious about Iowa in 2012.  I’m so limited in my knowledge, but how will delegates actually be chosen in the caucuses.  Is it still proprtional for everyone above a threshhold (i.e. 15%) or did they change it?

            Could the victor be under 30% and have 2-4 others get delegates as well.

            I’m just thinking the “winner” of the Iowa caucuses might become a “winner” like Charlie Sheen…the person could keep saying “winner” but it really wouldn’t mean much since we’re all waiting to see what happens next.

          2. He could, that’s who I think Angle would be if they did, but why? You just gave Heller the seat, got rid of Shelley Berkley, she can’t win now, and saved a House seat Dems probably can’t win in a Special, but might have been able to in 2012.

          3. And, thus, I don’t think an Iowa victory would necessarily translate into strength in South Carolina. I still think a Gingrich/Huckabee/Barbour would have the leg-up there. Of course, if Huck bothers to run, he’s winning Iowa. I don’t think Gingrich or Barbour will take Iowa, though.

        1. and instead of reaching an arm into Cass County (59-40 McCain), the district could take the rest of Jackson for a 62-37 Obama base, and then add the remaining ~70k by grabbing the bluest parts of Clay County (50-49 McCain).

  5. It’s state-paid, she doesn’t have to lift a finger or pay a dime, and there’s absolutely nothing to lose by pursuing it.  As long as she’s publicly quiet through it (go ahead and be vocal in the process, but not in public), there’s no “sore loser” narrative against her, and in any case she’s probably never running for anything again anyway.

    1. I was working for Ambassador Bremer in CPA when this scandal broke (and handled the media for the first courtmartial) and to say there was an effort to keep the details (if not the whole story) under wraps is an understatement, it was official US Army POLICY to make every effort to cover this up, primarily because it was believed (quite rightly IMO) that if the details of the abuse (and most particularly the photos of it) were public it would endanger the lives of US servicemen currently deployed to Iraq.

      It was the right thing to do, even though it was unsuccessful, but I doubt the GOP campaign ads are going to be as generous to LTG Sanchez as I am, and the optics are indeed brutal.

      1. Emmanuel Cleaver got a sweet gerrymander out of the proposed maps, they cut out all of the best GOP precints (60%+ GOP according to Jacob Turk who ran vs Cleaver the last 3 elections). I don’t think Cleaver would win an all Jackson County 5th (maybe in 12 w/ Obama topping the ticket, but not in ’14), but whatever GOPer would beat him would have an extremely hard time winning that district again, it will still be about a D+4 (worst case) and any decent non-KC Dem would likely roll.

      2. Bob Holden, who lost in the Democratic primary to Claire McCaskill in 2004 (Matt Blunt wound up beating McCaskill, who turned around and ran for the Senate.) I believe that the GOP had both houses of the legislature then, so it was probably a lot like it is now.

    2. since they have all lost – good or bad, rich or poor, latino, black, or white – in the last 20 years.  

      Lt Gen Sanchez looks similar to Jim Webb, a military man who has said dumb things and has a less than savory background, but who wants to run as a democrat and is saying the right things now in a state well-disposed to military men.

      I agree that the military is not transparent or good about exposing it’s own when it comes to any inappropriate behavior.  But even appropriate army behavior is not something anyone wants to talk about (killing people, blowing them up).  I really can’t imagine a Republican attacking someone for Abu Ghraib in a statewide senate campaign in Texas.  What are you going to do – show the pictures on tv?  Do swing voters even know what Abu Ghraib was?

      I think it was morally wrong and bad political strategy, but to this day, 99% of Americans don’t know who was responsible – probably Bush and Rumsfeld.  If he’s a bad candidate then he shouldn’t be the nominee but this hazy association doesn’t seem like a dealbreaker yet.

    3. basically, the only reasons i could never support a democrat, besides obvious non-starters like money laundering and armed robbery:

      being involved in torture

      being homophobic, racist, anti-semitic, etc (i’m ok with opposing gay marriage, even civil unions, but homophobic rhetoric)

      1. Honestly, if the public truly has strong regrets about the candidates they’ve elected, why shouldn’t the public have the right to recall them?

        Actually, if you combined recalls with a strong public funding mechanism, you’d probably have a system that keeps politicians a lot more honest than the one we have.

    4. that much about interrogation techniques and what is considered appropriate and what used to be, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if others are.

      Also, what do you and others think will come out? Perhaps they don’t know everything, but I’d have to think that this was discussed between Sanchez and those from the DSCC that talked to him about running. It also wouldn’t surprise me if things were run through back channels to make sure his story checked out. He was in the military for a long time, so his life isn’t some huge mystery to the government. If there are some sort of scandals that are beyond him cheating on his wife, wouldn’t someone, somewhere, have figured it out, especially if Patty Murray inquired? I can’t think they walked into a minefield like that, so I doubt there is much there, there.  

      1. through the free preview from Amazon, but it looks like too intricate a book to judge through that. I’ll try to read it and get back to you.  

  6. Ralston blogged on the ramifications of both Shelley Berkley AND Dean Heller running for Senate as John Ensign retires. Basically whatever the final results are, Nevada will be screwed. It’s funny how political games can have much higher stakes in small states like mine. It’s never a big deal when a California Congresscritter relinquishes her seat for a cozier position (as Hilda Solis, Ellen Tauscher, and Jane Harman have all done), but here the world comes crashing down and local lobbyists worry over our pending loss of juice.

  7. He’s leaving as Nevada GOP Chair to set up his campaign

    Nevada GOP Chairman Mark Amodei of Carson City entered the primary race for Nevada’s only solidly Republican congressional seat Wednesday after months of hinting at a run.

    Amodei, a former state senator who briefly flirted with a contest against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last year, is expected to make a formal announcement later this week and to step down from his party post in May, Republican National Committee representative Heidi Smith of Reno told the Associated Press.

    Smith said Amodei confirmed his intent Wednesday night. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Amodei will be running to replace U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, in an already crowded primary that could be Nevada’s most watched GOP contest of 2012.

    And Brian Krolicki must be screaming bloody murder about now. And Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrron Angle must want to send him a thank-you note just about now.

  8. By running against Sherrod Brown, that is, if Roll Call can be believed. I don’t think there’s really any new information in this article, except that Blackwell has a book coming out–because if there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more books by no-name conservatives bashing liberals and talking about tax cuts–but it does look like he’s considering it, and that has to be a good thing for Brown. Even in 2010, wouldn’t Blackwell have lost? I’d say it’s more likely than not. And if he’s a dud against Brown, that means we need to spend less money in Ohio and can spend more in Missouri.

    Now, were he to win the nomination, I would think it’s because he had the support of the base, but not the party. I can’t imagine them recruiting him. A sack of potatoes would be more valuable to them at this point, no?

  9. I did the math, and “47%” means King’s old counties have 47% of the new district’s population. I had wondered if it was population or geography.  That 47% comes from 18 of 39, or 46%, of the new district’s counties.  So that’s remarkably close, and surprises me because frankly the 21 new counties have a lot more bigger towns than King’s 18 old counties.  King’s old counties include the most populated one, Woodbury (containing Sioux City), of the 39 counties in new IA-04, so that’s what helps keep old and new so even.

      1. But you don’t have to be exciting to beat a weakened incumbent. Judd Gregg would be the Republican John Kerry and thus a serious threat.  

  10. There is certainly solid evidence of retrogression in Harris County.  They also have a pretty good case for dilution in Dallas County along the Northeast part of I635.  I will shamelessly reproduce what I said about the original map, which is immaterially different from this one, on Kuffner’s page.

    I originally made the following predictions for the number of Democratic districts in the major counties:

    Harris 12, Tarrant 3, Bexar 7, Travis 5, and Dallas 6.

    Harris is a bit worse than I expected, and I can see where Farrar is coming from.  There are only 11 solid Democratic seats, which is down from 12.  I predicted that they would have to keep 12 to maintain VRA status, and it sounds like that’s the primary reason for concern.  I think there are still a few Republican seats that could be picked up, like Murphy, Bohac, and Legler, but I understand why Harris Democrats would take issue with this map.  Nonetheless, my prediction that Harris would have 12 D seats seems pretty close.

    Tarrant is almost exactly as I predicted with a new minority district in East Arlington.  In fact, I drew a map of Tarrant in which Nash was going to the North but along the East edge of the county.  In this map, her district goes North in the middle of the county.  Close enough.  Tarrant will likely have 3 Democratic seats for most, if not all, of the decade.  I.e., I called it!  

    Bexar is also similar to what I thought would happen.  Bexar was 6D-2R-2S, and I didn’t see how it could really change other than make the 2 swing districts a little more Republican friendly.  Based upon my reading of the map, those 2 districts are probably a touch more Republican friendly, but I suspect they will be in Democratic hands within a cycle or two.  My prediction of Bexar having 7 D seats sounds pretty close to an average situation. Again, I called it!

    Travis was 4D-2S, and now it looks like it might be 5D-1R, which I suspect will be the situation for most of the decade.  Once again, I called it!

    Dallas is better than I thought it would be.  Here’s what I sent to Greg.  Well, Solomons drew 6 VRA seats, and I suspect that Vaught, Kent, and Miklos all reside in more Republican districts.  However, I think that he left more on the table than I thought he would.  For example, he didn’t pack the Northeast part along I635 in Democratic districts, like I did, and he didn’t crack or pack the Asian precincts and left them in Republican districts.  Unlike other counties, I feel pretty good about this Dallas map.

    1. But frankly, as was suggested when the news broke, any snafu over this in a general election would likely help him in a state like Texas. Anyway, the fact he came out so strongly afterwards makes me feel more than comfortable.

      1. Remember, all Pawlenty needs is a plurality of statewide precinct caucus delegates.

        Obama’s “big win” in Iowa was with 39%.

        And what’s there in the GOP field not to dislike?  There are lots of Iowa Republicans who dislike Romney for a bunch of reasons, some reasons the same as last time and then this time adding health care.  There are lots more Iowa Republicans who realize that a lot of other candidates simply cannot be elected President.  Eliminate all those, and you’re left with Pawlenty and maybe, in some of their minds, Barbour.

        I can easily see Pawlenty winning 30-35% in this kind of divided field, all because there’s something not to like about everyone else.

        But yeah, it’s not inevitable that enough Iowa GOPers will come to see it this way to get Pawlenty a plurality.

        The biggest thing, I think, holding back Pawlenty is actually not, or at least not directly, that he’s not exciting or doesn’t inspire anyone.

        Rather, I think it’s that while a bunch of campaign junkies like us, or in the political media, or in the Obama campaign itself, might game it out this way, ordinary voters don’t necessarily game it out this way.  They’re not campaign junkies, they’re ordinary people who have a lot of different priorities in deciding who to pick for President.  And plenty of them might decide privately they don’t see Pawlenty as any more electable than some others, or they don’t see others choices as having liabilities that Pawlenty doesn’t have.  Plenty might see that he’s “boring” and “dull” as itself a general election liability against the charismatic Obama, which is true, but they might see it as just as big a problem as other candidates’ problems which I don’t think is true–but what I think doesn’t matter.

        So that’s what it comes down to, whether ordinary voters will see what a lot of us see, what the Obama campaign sees.  Will they see him as the truly strongest choice?  Or as just another guy on whom they would be taking a flyer?

        On the Democratic side, Iowa caucusgoers have been incredibly smart.  They went with Kerry and then Edwards 1st and 2nd, and I think that was smart, although an argument could’ve be made for Edwards over Kerry (this was years before anything was known of Edwards’ scandalous private behavior).  Obama proved a smart choice last time.  And the seminal choice of Carter in ’76 certainly ended up picking a November winner, although one can plausibly argue other choices also would have beaten Ford.

        On the Repubilcan side, Iowa caucusgoers have been much more scattergun.  Huckabee last time was really taking a flyer on someone.  Dole in ’88 and ’92 was a farm state bias combined with Dole being a heavyweight in his own right.  Bush in ’80 was smart but didn’t pick the winner.  But then a bunch of them took a flyer on Robertson in ’88!

      2. A lot more republican primaries use a winner-take all system. Obama got a lot of his lead by pealing off delegates even in states that he lost on Super Tuesday.

    1. If he stays on the sideline, he gets all of the benefits you lay out.  Plus he could hypothetically be viable in 2016 as flameouts by some of the current crop should reduce the 2016 field (I assume new governors like Walker, Kasich and Scott are not viable in 2016).

        1. …I’m not sure exactly how delegates are allocated.

          I know the caucuses on both sides select delegates to, I believe, the state conventions, which in turn select the delegates to the national convention.

          But how precinct caucus tallies translate to delegate allocation in each precinct, I don’t know on the GOP side.

          As far as “winning” goes, it does matter.  If Pawlenty wins, it gives him momentum later, same as happened with Obama.  If Bachmann wins, it’s an embarrassment that really minimizes everyone else.

          Why Iowa matters is that it’s a signal that influences voters in later contests.

          1. Any special election presumably would be held under the old lines because the new maps have not been drawn yet.  

      1. I think you are right about this. Democrats will win this race if it becomes about policies, not personality. I think that a race between Warren and Brown would be too easy to frame as “Scott Brown the guy who drives a truck” vs “Out-of-touch rich guy from Newton” instead of “Democrat who votes for the things you like” vs “Republican who doesn’t”.

      1. Of all the explanations, this one makes by far the most sense.

        Are there potentially stronger candidates than Mayor Warren in the Senate race? Of course there are. But none are really stepping forward. I’d be very happy if Joseph Kennedy II, Elizabeth Warren or (this one’s not gonna happen) Rachel Maddow jumped in, but they really don’t sound like candidates, and Setti Warren does.

        Maybe there’s dirt on him. Shit, I dunno. It does sound like he’s failed to impress in some circles. But right now, it almost seems like certain Massachusetts Democrats are willing to give Sen. Scott Brown a free pass because they’re too selfish to work together.

      1. Here’s a list of specific failures from skimming through Fiasco:

        1) Abu Ghraib; he created an overcrowding problem by rounding up so many detainees, and also approved interrogation methods that Central Command later rejected as too harsh. (p.239-240)

        2) Failure to come up with a unified counterinsurgency plan. While he debated a draft plan with his staff, individual commanders conducted their own efforts, with tactical successes never adding up to strategic success. (p. 225-26)

        3) Failure to work well with subordinates or Iraqi counterparts (p. 175)

        4) Failure to work well with the Coalition Provisional Authority (p. 180)

        He’s even compared to General Westmoreland by a colonel or two. It shouldn’t be hard to find a few officers willing to do the same in a pretty harsh ad, more so than they would for his successors.

        This doesn’t mean he’s unelectable, but the attacks will have the potential to cause damage.

    1. What’s funny is I actually am coming to see the GOP fight in a similar frame as the Dem fight in 2008, where Romney is a mini-me Hillary, and Pawlenty a mini-me Obama.

      Keep in mind these comparisons are strictly from a horserace, what-it-takes-to-win perspective, not through any other lens.

      Romney is looking to win a couple early states as expected, hold his own otherwise, and then sweep the field on Super Tuesday or whatever comparable creature the RNC has set up for next year.  Romney basically needs to be able to win with a national campaign, since he doesn’t seem to think he can win Iowa or South Carolina.  He’s going to rely on Florida as a linchpin if Florida breaks the rules and goes early, but ultimately he’s counting on winning a whole bunch of states.  All this vaguely mimics Hillary’s strategy.

      Pawlenty, like Obama, is Iowa or bust.  Pawlenty has got to win the neighboring state, or he’s dead.  When you consider how weak the field is and how much less investment Romney is making there than last time, it really makes Iowa even more critical for Pawlenty.

      But if he wins there, then overperforms in NH, and does well afterward and wins some states, he has a path to victory.

      Beyond all the above, the fact is Pawlenty is the Republican with no enemies inside or outside the party.  That’s what makes him formidable compared to the rest.  No one outside the Democratic base says, “I hate Pawlenty because…”  Most of the Republican contenders have haters in their own party’s base.  Some of those same contenders, and all of the rest except Pawlenty, have severe liabilities right off the top with swing voters.  Pawlenty is the one guy who the attack narrative against him has to be pieced together, it’s not already written.  On the meta level, that’s what makes him formidable and gives him a path to the nomination.

      Problem is for him, as you sense, not having enemies does not automatically translate to making friends.  That’s his challenge.  And it really is Iowa or bust for him.

      1. This entire post was lame.  “This is what I do”, “This cow doesn’t give its milk away for free”, “I know I’m better than him”.  

        We all take pride in our knowledge, curiosities and commentary on this site, showboating isn’t really all that desirable.

    2. If he triumphed there, I suspect he’d place a strong second to Romney come New Hampshire and a third candidate (Gingrich?) would win South Carolina. At that point, it’d be a bloodbath in Florida, I suppose, and Super Tuesday would see a showdown among the establishment candidate vs. the most inoffensive candidate vs. the Tea Party-friendly candidate.

      1. There wasn’t one turning point where everything went wrong, although the Abu Ghraib scandal was hugely damaging. It was just an overall failure to work with Paul Bremer, a failure to comprehend the depth of the insurgency, and a failure to craft any sort of unified COIN strategy. He comes of pretty poorly in Fiasco by Thomas Ricks.

        So beyond Abu Ghraib, there’s no single incident where Sanchez can be attacked. But, it won’t be hard to find a lot of high-ranking retired officers who are willing to bash his leadership of the conflict and say it caused the deaths of however many thousands of Americans.

  11. I just finished making a ton of calls back to Missouri and got some pretty juicy scuttlebut, taket his for what it’s worth (kind of like a 3rd person out of state check).

    The holdup with the congressional map is a (very heated) fight between Diehl and surrogates for Emerson & Lukenmeyer over who gets how much of St. Charles, Jefferson & St. Louis counties. Everyone has agreed on the lines needed for Lacy Clay and they have the votes in hand to override Nixon’s veto IF they can pass a map at all.

    I’ve gotten more or less the same story from 2 of the 3 sides so I think this is true.

    Basically Lunkemeyer wants all of St. Charles county and as little of Jefferson County as possible, Emerson is willing to take on whatever parts of Jefferson County are necessary, but doesn’t want the 8th to stretch up to the STL county line – issue here isn’t voters but a desire to avoid paying for STL advertising.

    The real sticking point is that both those parties believe that Diehl is trying to draw the 2nd for HIS benefit and that Akin is holding off on announcing for Senate to give Diehl cover. Diehl wants to get as much as St. Charles county as possible to make up for the Dem friendly South STL coutny areas the 2nd is having to take on, the basic opinion is that Akin woudn’t need as much of St. Charles as Diehl will.

    There is also some conjecture that there are Jefferson county politicians who want the 2nd to come their way so if Akin jumps to Senate they can run in that New 2nd district, or will run in the Lukenmeyer’s “new” 3rd if that has a sizable chunk of Jeff county and he runs for Senate.

    Basically since this has gotten so personal I don’t think they’ll get it done in time to avoid a Nixon veto (can’t override in the timeframe available, though I’ve had this explained to me twice and I still don’t understand).

    Crazy thing is that if the court draws the map I still think Carnahan’s 3rd is going to get sliced and diced, but now the heavily gerrymandered KC 5th Distict would probably be all of Jackson County which likely means that Cleaver is a dead man walking (though IMO a White Jackson County Dem would end up holding that seat with no problem, but that isn’t about RvsD but Black vs White).

      1. The obvious condition upon this is whether Berkley plays it to her advantage. Besides, appointed incumbents do not have a good track record at winning their first election.

  12. I keep hearing there have been four senators in Wisconsin history who have been recalled up to this point. As of tomorrow, at least eight senators will face a recall election this year. This sets a vert dangerous precedent, IMO, to use recalls as a political tool. I fear that now every time there is a controversial piece of legislation, people would be recalled, which could make some states effectively  ungovernable.  

      1. I think the opposite. Check above to my response to DNick for my opinion. This will only embolden Berkley.  

      2. It was a tad generous before I think. I would hope though she stays in. The move says to me Republicans didn’t think Heller was the slam dunk in an open seat some were projecting.

    1. would still likely be a tossup with Dean Heller in the Senate seat, as he already represents a third of the state and the other two thirds will have more of a record to judge him on, plus or minus.

      The question is, what kind of a Senate record would he make?  Would he stand to the right and turn off Vegas-area voters who don’t yet know him as well, or go more centrist and invite a challenge from the right which, if successful (as with Angle’s 2010 nomination) might well make things difficult for the GOP in a general election, probably more so than last year?

      Harry Reid’s presence as his Senate colleague and Democratic leader makes things even more interesting in this case.  To buttress his general election chances, Heller might try to work with and sometimes vote with Reid when he deems it good for the whole state, but that may prove unhelpful in a primary.  Would Reid therefore try to subtly put Heller on the spot, or basically maintain a nonaggression stance?

  13. If Heller does get appointed to Senate here are the rules for a special election in Nevada (From a John Ralston tweet).

    Interesting thing is that there is no primary, the parties pick the candidates. Would the Nevada GOP risk pissing off the teabaggers by bypassing Sharing Angle?

  14. link from the DPW

    Fred Clark is a sitting State Assemblyman in Olsen’s district and probably our best shot at the seat. This first up the race’s position as being one of the most important battles for control of the State Senate.

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