Good morning folks,
And just like that, we return from August and prepare to head into fall with a whole new set of issues on the political matrix. Syria… the debt limit… funding the government… immigration… ObamaCare. In other words, welcome back, it’s going to be an interesting fall.
Where does the 2014 map stand? With Democrats on defense.
In South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana, so many Democrats have passed on running for Senate that those who remain are simply token candidates – like Natalie Tennant in West Virignia, and John Walsh or John Bohlinger in Montana.
In Arkansas, Mark Pryor is struggling so badly against Tom Cotton that he’s desperate enough to already play the race card.
In Alaska, a pro-Mark Begich Super PAC was launched few months ago with great fanfare, pledging to raise $5 million dollars – it has yet to raise a dime. OUCH.
Kay Hagan returned to North Carolina in August to find a series of billboards in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem (see here, here and here) that questioned her accomplishments (or, more accurately, lack of them). It seems that during her first term in Washington, Hagan has accomplished less than any other Senator in North Carolina history.
In Iowa, it got ugly for Bruce Braley. As the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reported, “…Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley has been getting some testy feedback from Iowans as he meets in small groups during the month-long August recess. ‘You’re not getting anything done,’ Monticello Republican Gerald Retzlaff tells Braley during an Aug. 21 roundtable gathering at the Manchester Public Library in Manchester, the video shows. ‘Just step aside and let somebody else run.’ His wife, La Donna Retzlaff, who is also a Republican, adds: ‘Yeah, so why are you even running for Senate? Why aren’t you saying, ‘OK, I’m done with politics and let somebody else.’” Watch our video (more importantly, watch Rep. Braley’s face as constituents tell him what’s up).
In Louisiana, an ethical cloud continues to hang over Senator Mary Landrieu with more revelations that the most powerful Washington lobbyists have potentially given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Landrieu through her husband, Frank Snellings for real estate deals, raising significant ethical questions. Senator Landrieu has yet to address the continued stories alleging cash kick backs to her family, instead forcing her taxpayer funded staff to explain both her and her husband’s behavior. There’s much more to come on this one.
In Michigan, the Democratic candidate is Gary Peters – a failed Congressman who sat by idly as a major city in his district went bankrupt. As recent reports in Michigan note, “A poll a month ago showed Peters and Republican Terri Lynn Land with the same amount of support in the senate race.”
It’s been a long summer for Senate Democrats, so it’s no wonder that the recent National Journal Insiders Poll showed positive predictions for Republicans.
Among Democratic respondents, 53% said that the GOP has moderate chance to take back the Senate, and 5% even said our chances were strong. One anonymous Democrat said, “I really hope I’m wrong, but candidate recruitment has not been our strength this time around. You would think Dems could find one interesting person in some of these states who could give the Republicans a solid race. But not happening.”
Among Republican respondents, 63% said the GOP has moderate chance to take back the Senate, and 21% said our chances were strong. One anonymous Republican said, ”There are seven seats in states won by Romney; presidents lose, on average, six seats in their second term; Democratic National Committee/Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee debt is north of $20 million; National Republican Senatorial Committee has out-recruited the Democrats.” Another predicted,“Watch for a late-breaking Louisiana win to put the GOP over the top.”
It’s still relatively early, but at this moment, the 2014 winds are picking up and it seems to be blowing directly in the face of Senate Democrats.
Seize the day,
2014 BATTLEGROUND SONAR
(LOUISIANA) LANDRIEU EMBATTLED IN REAL ESTATE SCANDAL – FIRST LOOK: POLITICO’S MORNING SCORE -
The NRSC is turning its focus to recent reports scrutinizing the relationship between lobbyists and Democrat Mary Landrieu’s real estate-agent husband (http://huff.to/17AkBxb). The committee is out today with a list of five questions for Landrieu and said a paid online component is forthcoming. First look: http://bit.ly/17AkMIM.
(OREGON) Merkley should get serious on spending
But what we really wanted to talk about was federal spending, which we feel is out of control and needs to be reduced dramatically. As it is, we are running a $759 billion spending deficit this year alone, contributing to our $16.7 trillion national debt — or about $53,000 for every man, woman and child in the country, according to a recent article in the Deseret News. In addition, estimates of unfunded liabilities in the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs total another $55 trillion to $222 trillion, according to that same article. People talk about trillions these days the way we used to talk about millions. This is a serious issue, the most serious issue that our lawmakers face. Unfortunately, we don’t get the sense that Sen. Merkley is taking this problem seriously enough.
(WEST VIRGINIA) Capito seeks public feedback
As part of a tour to gauge public opinion, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., stopped at the Prince Amtrak Train Station Tuesday to meet with local railroad officials and members of the community. “Part of my month of August is set up to get an assessment of what people think is going on in Congress and how they feel about it,” Capito said. “I’m on the transportation committee and the rail subcommittee. I’m learning about the rails and we’re seeing a lot of repair work going on. We’re also talking about economic development and health care. “It’s just a general sense of how people feel about what is going on in Washington and the frustrations that they have. I’m getting to meet a lot of new people in the process.”
(IOWA) Braley under fire from Iowans for ignoring ObamaCare concerns
He and Braley, however, reject suggestions that they have adopted a format of single-topic meetings to control debate. That’s not the way it feels to Giora Neta of Cedar Rapids. He circulated a hand-made flyer at an Americans for Prosperity meeting encouraging people to call Braley’s office to request a town hall meeting where people could talk about any concern. When he called, Neta was asked what he would like to talk about. “So I gave them five,” including Obamacare, the attack on American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, and the IRS investigation of conservative political action groups, he said.Members of Congress “are spending too much time with interest groups and raising money,” Neta said. “For five weeks, (Braley) skips Cedar Rapids, the biggest city in his district.”
(ALASKA) VIDEO: Mark Begich doubles down on ObamaCare support, says it will never be dismantled
(NEW JERSEY) Cory Booker Walks Back Opposition To Military Intervention In Syria
After making an impassioned case earlier this week against another war, the senate candidate defers to Obama’s judgement. “I expect that the president will clearly delineate what the strategic objectives are,” says Booker. On Wednesday, Cory Booker’s position on military intervention in Syria was clear: He opposed it. In an interview on HuffPost Live, Booker said that he was “profoundly war weary”; that the United States “should not be going to war” or “unleashing missiles”; and that he disagreed with President Obama, his biggest booster, on whether the use of chemical weapons automatically requires a military response.
NBC News Survey (700 Adults, including 210 cell phone only)
Obama: Approve 44% …. Disapprove 48%
Obama/Syria: Approve 35% …. Disapprove 44%
Military Action in Syria: Yes 42% … No 50% … Unsure 8%
ON THE TWITTERS
@mjbeckel - Super lobbyist Tony Podesta hires Dem Sen. Mary Landrieu’s husband to sell townhouse h/t @tpcarney http://ow.ly/onyet
@MorrisNews - Michelle Nunn conspicuously absent at Dem. Exec. Committee meeting. #GaSen candidates Dr. Rad, Steen Miles are here. #gapol #gadems
@politico - McCain on Syria plan: “I can’t support something that I’m afraid may be doomed to failure in the long run.” http://politi.co/1dKNnCo
@jdickerson - @HillaryClinton 112 is a lot of countries! Speaking of countries: what’s your view on Syria? https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/statuses/374645764867125248 …
@NRSC - Congrats to @mVespa1 who was awarded w/ AFP’s Andrew Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Activism & Investigative Reporting! #RO13
(POLITICO) Syrian rebel general backs Barack Obama
The general of the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, said Monday his group understands and supports President Barack Obama’s decision to seek authorization for military intervention in Syria from Congress. Gen. Salim Idris told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Secretary of State John Kerry called him Monday and filled him in on the situation in the United States. “We support President Obama’s decision to go to the Congress to get authorization to carry out strikes against the Syrian regime, and we understand really the decision-making mechanism in the democratic countries and realize that congressional support for the decision will make it stronger and more effective, and we hope it will encourage other friendly countries to participate in the international campaign against the regime,” Idris said.
U.S. Still Hasn’t Armed Syrian Rebels
(BLOOMBERG) Keystone Delays Seen Giving Time for Climate Concessions
A decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline may slip into next year, giving opponents time to marshal efforts against it while offering President Barack Obama a chance to wring concessions from Canada The U.S. State Department is reviewing TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s request to build the $5.3 billion link from Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The department said it won’t complete its environmental-impact review of the pipeline until after reviewing and publishing 1.5 million public comments it received, a months-long process that could be completed as soon as this week.
(POLITICO) Obama’s summer slump
President Barack Obama has just ended a summer shadowed by weakness: A convergence of external events and what even some Democrats are calling self-inflicted setbacks have cast a harsh light on a so-far anemic second term. He is now beginning an autumn in which conflicts that have festered sullenly for years — in Syria and on Capitol Hill — are poised for climactic resolution.
(MARKETPLACE) Move over, business owners: Labor is unhappy about Obamacare, too
It’s Labor Day — just 30 days before Americans are expected to begin signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And organized labor has over Obamacare. Some of the nation’s largest unions, including the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters, believe the new health care law could jeopardize health plans for workers across the country. From high-wage construction workers to low-wage restaurant workers, 20 million employees get their health insurance through something known as Taft-Hartley plans. That’s where unions and employers get together and pay in for coverage.
Union dumps AFL-CIO for its positions on ObamaCare, immigration reform
(FOX NEWS) Illinois officials under fire for ObamaCare contracts
Making ObamaCare a reality will require massive computing power to track, store and process the millions of individual cases. But in Illinois, contracts to compute that state’s cases – valued as high as $190 million – are being awarded without competitive bidding. The practice already has watchdogs crying foul. “No transparency and with no bidding — if that’s legal in Illinois, It shouldn’t be.” said Adam Andrzejewski of openthebooks.com, a watchdog group. “To the extent that is happening across the country, the citizens need to know it.”
(Wall Street Journal) Long-Term Jobless Left Out of the Recovery
For those left behind by the long, slow economic recovery, time is running out. More than four years after the recession officially ended, 11.5 million Americans are unemployed, many of them for years. Millions more have abandoned their job searches, hiding from the economic storm in school or turning to government programs for support. A growing body of economic research suggests that the longer they remain on the sidelines, the less likely they will be to work again; for many, it may already be too late. By most conventional measures, the U.S. economy is healing, albeit slowly. Gross domestic product grew at a 2.5% rate in the second quarter of the year, the government said last week, the best pace since last fall. Payroll figures, due Friday, will likely show that hiring held steady in August. The housing market is rebounding, corporate profits are strong, and households are repairing their balance sheets.