Monthly Archives: July 2013

Presidential Fall-Out and the Perry Retirement

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), speaking from a key financial supporter’s Caterpillar plant who also happens to be the majority owner of the San Antonio Spurs professional basketball franchise, yesterday ended speculation about his political future. Perry, standing behind a podium on a stage surrounded by American and Lone Star State flags, made public his intention to retire from the governorship when this current term ends, but left the door wide open for another presidential run.

The governor faced a conundrum about whether to keep his current position while attempting another run for the nation’s top office. In his situation, considering the context of the original Perry national campaign that ended in disaster, the decision over whether to seek re-election was more difficult than for most politicians in a similar situation. Usually, attempting to execute the duties of one political office while running for president is often a disqualifying factor but, in Gov. Perry’s case, the credibility he would have earned from winning yet another term in statewide office and the financial base that such position provides made his decision difficult.

Late last week, Perry transmitted an email to supporters indicating that he would formally announce a decision regarding his political future. The secret was well guarded to the point that no leak occurred about what would actually be announced. It seemed as many Perry supporters believed the governor would retire as felt he would seek a fourth full term.

In culmination, Rick Perry had nothing left to prove as governor. When this term ends, he will have served 14 years as Texas’ chief executive, more than double the time that anyone else has held the office. Until 1982, the state restricted its governors to one four-year term. Even when legislation was passed eliminating term limits, it took until 1998 for Texas’ voters to actually re-elect a governor, and that individual was George W. Bush.

The Perry record is strong. As he mentioned in his retirement address, over 30 percent of all jobs created in America since he became governor have occurred in Texas. The Lone Star economy is robust, while the nation’s economic numbers sink. It was his economic record that propelled him to the forefront of the 2012 Republican presidential field, and kept him as perhaps  Continue reading >

A 2014 Senate Re-Set?

As we’re just coming through the off-election year July 4 break, it’s a good time to examine the progression of the current Senate and House political picture. Today, we look at the Senate landscape.

As we know, the current Senate’s party division stands at 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans, with the GOP “renting” the New Jersey seat until voters in the Oct. 16 special election choose a permanent replacement for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Though Gov. Chris Christie (R) appointed Republican Jeff Chiesa to serve in an interim capacity, the fact that the new senator didn’t choose to run for the seat leaves the GOP prospects to also-ran candidates who don’t have a realistic chance of defeating the eventual Democratic nominee. This being the case, in order for the Republicans to overtake the Democratic majority, a conversion swing of six seats still is necessary.

Of the 35 Senate seats that comprise the 2014 election cycle, we can segment the competition into three groups of three and two groups of two, for a grand total of 13 political situations that will determine the new majority’s complexion. Right now, the remaining 22 campaigns appear to be safe for the incumbent senator, or his party in the case of open New Jersey and Nebraska (Republican Sen. Mike Johanns retiring).

The three groups of three contain the nine Democratic seats that are fielding varying degrees of competition. All should be strong conversion opportunities, but only six realistically appear that way today.

First Group of Three: D to R

The first group contains the seats most likely to move from Democrat to Republican. The open contests in West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller retiring) and South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson retiring) look to be locks to move Republican in the persons of Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) and former Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD). Democrats have yet to recruit a West Virginia candidate and they are already into the second tier in South Dakota. The third state in this category is the open Montana seat (Sen. Max Baucus retiring) where Republican prospects are growing. Though he could quickly up and enter the race without any pre-announcement fanfare, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) is  Continue reading >

Gov. Perry’s “Exciting Future Plans”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) just emailed political supporters pledging to announce his “exciting future plans” at a Monday San Antonio event. Normally, when a politician schedules an official speech that will either be a formal campaign kick-off or retirement statement, everyone knows what will be said. Not in this case. One only needs to look back to 2009, when the governor surprisingly announced for another term even though everyone “knew” that he would step down.

Gov. Perry has kept his own counsel about his “exciting future plans,” and there is diverse speculation surrounding what he will do. Many who are close to the governor, who is Texas’ longest-serving chief executive, believe that he has already decided to run for president again in 2016. Assuming this line of thought is true, what is his best move as it pertains to either keeping or relinquishing his current office?

If he is to run for president, he needs to re-establish political credibility. He does that by convincingly winning another re-election.

You’ll remember that he began the 2012 campaign in exalted fashion, entering the race with a first-place polling standing. His August 2011 presidential campaign announcement speech from South Carolina on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll was very well received and he appeared to lay legitimate claim to front-runner status. Few knew, however, that this day marked his campaign’s apex. We all remember his disastrous debate performance when the governor couldn’t recall one of the three federal agencies that he was planning to eliminate should he win the presidency. After this glaring error he tumbled down the polling charts with lightning speed and soon  Continue reading >

The Dems Succeed in Kentucky

For weeks it appeared that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was rebuffing Democratic Party leaders as they tried to convince her to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). In a turnaround of fortune, they now have met success. Yesterday, she officially announced that she will run for the party’s 2014 Senate nomination and the right to oppose McConnell.

Early in the year, numerous public polls were showing the five-term incumbent to be in serious upside-down territory on his job approval question, thus suggesting a Democratic challenger could engage McConnell in a highly competitive race. But when paired in ballot tests with several potential opponents, McConnell’s numbers never sank as low as his job-approval score. Most of the data suggested he was running in even range against the strongest Democratic potential contenders.

Most of the early publicity surrounded actress Ashley Judd, as she publicly contemplated becoming a candidate. A major flap occurred when a liberal blogger infiltrated the McConnell campaign headquarters and taped a planning session without the participants’ knowledge or consent. Though the reports attempted to make the senator and his team look bad because they were discussing a negative attack strategy against Judd, it had already become a foregone conclusion that she would not run. Even the Democratic leadership soured on the idea, understanding that they could not sell her liberal ideology and lifestyle to a conservative Kentucky electorate.

With the Judd experiment looking unpromising, the Democrats began to heighten their pursuit of Grimes. Last week, a pro-McConnell Super PAC organization launched an anti-Grimes television ad buy, attacking her as a “cheerleader” for President Obama and attempting to identify her as a proponent of “massive” spending, the Affordable Healthcare Act, and the “War on Coal.” The purpose of the ad buy was to dissuade her from running, but the media blitz obviously failed to achieve its objective.

Mitch McConnell first came to the Senate in 1984, with an upset victory over then-Sen. Dee Huddleston (D) that shocked national political observers. Always one of the Republicans’ strongest campaigners,  Continue reading >

Rep. Campbell to Retire

Rep. John Campbell

Rep. John Campbell

California Rep. John Campbell (R-CA-45), first elected to the House in a 2005 special election, announced late last week that he will leave Congress when 2014 concludes. “At the end of this term, I will have spent 14 years serving in full-time, elected politics. I am not, nor did I ever intend, to be a career politician. I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life,” Campbell said in his retirement statement.

Aside from his congressional service, John Campbell was originally elected to the state Assembly in 2000, and then won a state Senate seat in 2004. When then-Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA-48) resigned from Congress to become chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Campbell jumped into the special election and won, but with just 44.4 percent of the vote. Still, his plurality percentage was far ahead of Democrat Steve Young’s 27.8 percent. The big election story was Minuteman founder and anti-illegal immigration activist Jim Gilchrist drawing 25.5 percent on the American Independent Party line.

Soon after the special election, Gilchrist seemed intent on challenging Campbell in the 2006 Republican primary, but backed off when the candidate filing deadline drew near. The congressman went onto score a 60-37 percent victory over Young, who sought a regular election re-match.

The newly configured, post-redistricting 45th District is a high 50s Republican district. While Rep. Campbell was winning his 2012 re-election with 58 percent of the vote against Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang (D), in what was thought to be a moderately competitive challenge, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defeated President Obama 55-43 percent within the district’s confines.
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