Tag Archives: President Obama

Jumping the Gun in the Florida Senate

Major action is happening in the upcoming Florida Senate race even without an official re-election or retirement announcement from Republican incumbent Marco Rubio. And now we see that at least two GOP officeholders are possibly leaping ahead to eye Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) re-election bid in 2018.

Sen. Rubio has been saying for months that he would not simultaneously run for president and re-election to the Senate. Since it appears clearer by the day that he will soon enter the presidential contest, waiting for the statement that he will not seek a second term in the Senate appears relegated to mere formality status.

We previously reported that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) is expected to officially announce his 2016 senatorial campaign next week. He says he’s running irrespective of what Sen. Rubio decides, but the Florida politicos are all proceeding as if Rubio will not seek re-election to a second term so he can run in an unencumbered fashion for president.

Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) said she will not run statewide next year. Considering her recent flap of troubles with part of her Democratic funding base and a controversy over whether she would politically attack President Obama if removed as Democratic National Committee chair, it is not surprising that she is retreating to the safety of her US House district.
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Harvard to Cruz’s Rescue

Journalist Charles Dudley Warner’s famous quote that “politics makes strange bedfellows” found yet another new example during the past few days.

A new Harvard Law Review article authored by two former US solicitor generals, one who served Pres. George W. Bush and the other in an acting capacity for President Obama, provides surprising support to conservative Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) argument that he is eligible to seek the presidency.

The senator is in a unique situation. He must overcome an obstacle that no other candidate need be concerned with merely to obtain ballot access. Born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, there is an argument that Sen. Cruz does not fulfill the constitutional requirement for individuals running for president, that of being a “natural born citizen.”

Neal Katyal, who served briefly as acting US Solicitor General after Elena Kagan resigned to become a Justice of the Supreme Court, and Paul Clement, who President George W. Bush appointed to the position, co-authored their article entitled, “On the Meaning of Natural Born Citizen” for the Harvard Law Review. Their piece directly discusses the Cruz situation and provides ample legal argument to suggest that the Senator does fulfill the basic legal requirements to become a presidential candidate.
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Is Illinois Another California?

Much of the early Senate political coverage has been devoted to the open California Senate race, but now the Illinois contest is about to make an equivalent amount of news.

For several weeks, speculation, not denied by her staff, that Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) is seriously considering challenging Sen. Mark Kirk (R) came true last week when the congresswoman herself confirmed the sentiment. She had recently given birth towards the end of 2014 and had previously not been granting interviews.

Sen. Kirk, representing a highly Democratic state after his tight 48-46 percent win over then-state treasurer Alexi Giannoulius (D) in the Republican landslide year of 2010, later suffered a serious stroke that put him on a long road to recovery. The presidential year turnout model in a reliably Democratic state against a weakened Republican incumbent sets this race as the party’s best 2016 conversion opportunity in the nation.

Duckworth is the first female double-amputee of the Iraq War. She sustained severe injuries to both legs when an enemy rocket struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. After a long recuperation, she decided to embark on a career in public service. She challenged Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) in a marginal district in the heavily Democratic year of 2006. Backed as one of the strongest Democratic challengers in the nation that year, she still fell short, losing 51-48 percent.
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New Senate Polling Begins

Pennsylvania Senate

Last year, a record number of publicly released polls led us to tracking what proved to be an extraordinary set of US Senate races. For the 2016 election cycle, we can expect more of the same.

Public Policy Polling commences the off-year campaign with a survey from what promises to be one of the more competitive of the in-cycle US Senate states, Pennsylvania. Here, first-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey begins a drive for re-election before a presidential year electorate that normally backs a Democratic candidate in the national vote. Sure to be a top presidential campaign target state, Pennsylvania voters can expect to witness an onslaught of political communication about both the presidential campaign and their important US Senate contest.

Though viewed as a swing entity, the Keystone State has voted Democratic in the presidential race consecutively since 1992, inclusive. But, during that same period, Pennsylvanians have elected and/or re-elected three Republican US senators and two GOP governors.

According to this new PPP survey (Jan. 15-18; 1,042 registered Pennsylvania voters) Sen. Toomey registers tepid numbers, relatively commonplace at this point in time for a senator who belongs to the state’s minority party. And, as typical for a Public Policy Polling survey, almost every political figure tests with a negative favorability image.

While President Obama’s job approval is a poor 42:51 percent in a state where he received 52 and 54 percent in 2012 and 2008, respectively, Sen. Toomey registers a 28:35 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D), who doesn’t again face the voters until 2018, does much better at 41:33 percent. The only other political figure to score a positive rating is former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), and he can only muster a 43:42 percent score.

Also typical of a PPP poll, is the testing of many well known politicians who will not be candidates in this particular Senate race. Among the six scenarios polled, only former Gov. Rendell, surely a non-candidate, out-polls Sen. Toomey. According to the results, Rendell would lead the incumbent, 44-41 percent. Against all others, the senator leads by margins of four to eight percentage points, but never breaks the 43 percent support level.

The one pairing that matters most, however, is with the only announced 2016 senatorial candidate, and the man who Toomey beat 51-49 percent in 2010, former US Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7). Here, Toomey has a 40-36 percent advantage.

Sestak, a former Navy Admiral who was a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council, served two terms in the House from a Philadelphia suburban district after unseating 20-year veteran Rep. Curt Weldon (R) in 2006. Sestak was re-elected in 2008, and then ran for Senate two years later. Already announcing his statewide candidacy last year, Sestak has raised $1.6 million for the race through last September, with $1.28 million on hand. By contrast, Sen. Toomey had more than $5 million in the bank during the same time frame.

The Pennsylvania race promises to be one of the most polled during the 2016 election cycle. The fact that an incumbent senator registers numbers only in the low 40s under all scenarios is not necessarily a harbinger of a poor re-election performance, but it clearly indicates Sen. Toomey’s support must grow. In the last cycle, Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) each found themselves mired in the low 40s for more than a year, and all lost. It remains to be seen if a similar pattern ensnares Sen. Toomey, or whether he expands his appeal.

The Democrats Have Problems Beyond Redistricting

The Democratic federal elected officials are gathered in Baltimore right now, discussing the future of their party and ways to recapture much of the political territory they lost in the 2014 elections. A clear theme settling around their US House predicament is redistricting, and how the Republican-drawn boundaries, they say, in what are typically Democratic states have unfairly cost them large numbers of seats.

North Carolina Rep. David Price (D-NC-4) spoke at length about redistricting and how it affects the party. According to an article on Yahoo News, Price said, “Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia display the most egregious examples of gerrymandered districts for congressional and state legislative races.” His solution is to continue the process Democrats are using in several states, which is to sue over the current congressional boundaries contending that the district boundaries are “racially biased”. Except for Virginia, where a court has already declared the map unconstitutional for this reason, it will likely be difficult to make such a case in places where the minority districts have actually been maximized.

The 2014 electoral statistics cast a different light on the situation, however. Let’s take the case of freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2). She won a Republican-leaning seat in what was the worst of years for Democratic congressional candidates. The fact that she Continue reading >

Boehner Survives as Speaker, Reverberations Iffy; Gibson Won’t Run Again in NY-19

Much is being made about the 25 Republicans who didn’t support House Speaker John Boehner’s re-election yesterday; but how many will actually suffer any recriminations from their action? So far, representatives Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) and Rich Nugent (R-FL-11) have both been removed from the Rules Committee – Webster ran for Speaker and Nugent voted for him – but will other similar moves follow?

It is doubtful. Many of the veteran members who opposed the Speaker have been outspoken in the past about the House inner workings and really don’t have particularly plum committee or conference positions from which to be stripped. Therefore, replacing the two Floridians on the Rules Committee could be the extent of the leadership backlash.

A surprising vote against Boehner came from Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA-2), however, generally viewed as a more centrist member. He represents a marginal Tidewater district, and his seat on the Armed Services Committee is highly relevant and important to his constituency. Plus, with the Virginia congressional map in the courts and already ruled unconstitutional, a redraw will soon commence, and the Rigell district will likely see major boundary revisions – changes not projected to be in the congressman’s favor. So Rigell could be in position to soon need Continue reading >

The Impact of Staten Island Resident Eric Gardner’s Death on the NY-11 Special Election

The new 114th Congress will commence tomorrow with already one vacant seat in the House of Representatives headed to special election.

Despite Rep. Michael Grimm (R) saying he would not resign his US House seat after pleading guilty to one count of tax evasion in December, the man who scored a resounding 53-41 percent re-election victory only a month earlier in the face of a 20-count federal indictment will officially leave Congress.

That means New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will call a special election once the seat in the new Congress officially becomes vacant, which will occur during the body’s first session on Jan. 6th. Under New York election law, the governor must schedule the election between 70 and 80 days from the date of official vacancy. This means the special will occur sometime between March 16 and 26, 2015. The most likely prospects are Tuesday, March 17, and Tuesday, the 24th.

Also under New York election procedure, the local political parties will choose their respective nominee, meaning there will only be one election before the voting public. For a time, it looked like former three-term Staten Island Borough president James Molinaro might enter the race as a Conservative Party candidate, but the 83-year-old former local political leader is Continue reading >