Oct. 5, 2015 — Now, just four months from the first presidential votes being cast in Iowa, developments are occurring in the Democratic race that suggest we are headed for an interesting ride. Though it is unlikely the Dems will go to a brokered convention -– the nomination rules are written to avoid such a conclusion — three points will play a major role in shaping the early outcome of their presidential contest.
As we consistently see in national polling, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to lead, but her margin is smaller than in earlier days. Though holding between 15- and 20-point national leads over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), she now consistently polls below majority support among likely Democratic primary or caucus participants. When the national campaign began last year, Clinton steadily placed in the 60s against the group of potential candidates, including Vice President Joe Biden. Now, she routinely registers only in the low to mid-40s.
The confirmed data also tells us that the former First Lady is finding political trouble in the first two nomination states, Iowa and New Hampshire. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) has taken discernible leads in both places. The effect upon her losing both contests could be major. Her third-place showing in Iowa back in 2008 did not initially kill her campaign, but it certainly put her on the road to defeat. She was commonly viewed as the “inevitable” nominee before the Hawkeye State caucus vote, but not after, as then-Sen. Barack Obama began to steal the spotlight from her.
Oct. 2, 2015 — An unexpected announcement was made in Colorado yesterday, as Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the current top Republican recruit to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D), decided to forego a statewide run and will instead seek re-election.
This is quite an about-face from all preliminary signals detected last week. It seemed all but certain that Brauchler would enter the campaign giving Republicans a man they describe as a top-notch challenger to battle Sen. Bennet. But, would that actually have been the case?
Brauchler was the prosecuting attorney in the James Holmes case, the young man who gunned down 12 people and wounded 70 others in an Aurora, CO movie theater rampage during the summer of 2012. After many delays, the Holmes trial finally began on April 27 this year, and lasted until July 16. Braucher summoned 9,000 juror candidates from which to draw a dozen who would serve on the jury and several more as alternates.
He would later reject Holmes’ offer to plead guilty in exchange for not being given a death sentence. Brauchler spurned the plea offer, and then ultimately failed to secure the death penalty sentence because jurors were not unanimous in their opinion that Holmes should die. The perpetrator was eventually sentenced to 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole, and then an additional 3,318 years for the 140 attempted murder counts.
Oct. 1, 2015 — Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1), chairman of the formidable Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, yesterday announced that he will not seek election to a 12th term next year. Whitfield, a former Democratic state legislator, was first elected in the Republican wave year of 1994, defeating one-term Rep. Tom Barlow (D). He is the only Republican to ever represent this western Kentucky district.
In what will be 22 years of congressional service when he retires, Rep. Whitfield will share the longest tenure in the district’s history. He joins Democratic Rep. Noble Gregory who also served 11 terms, from 1937-59. Whitfield is the first congressman from this district to retire voluntarily since 1958.
The territory has a colorful political past, at one time being represented by an individual who would later serve as vice president of the United States, Alben Barkley (D) under President Harry Truman, and Civil War era Rep. Henry Burnett (D) who is one of only five House members to ever be expelled from the body. Burnett’s colleagues bounced him from Congress for supporting the Confederate States of America. He would later serve in the Confederate Senate.
Though the district has a strong Democratic history, since Whitfield’s original election the seat has become ever more Republican. GOP presidential candidates scored huge 66 and 62 percent wins here in 2012 and 2008, respectively. KY-1 proved to be Mitt Romney’s 23rd best congressional district in the entire country. In what promises to be another strong western Kentucky Republican presidential run next year, Democratic prospects of converting the 1st become minimal.