Tag Archives: 2010

The 2010 Midterm Elections Will Be Worse For Dems Than Expected

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Bookmark and Share    This November is going to be quite a dramatic reversal of fortunes for Democrats and while some on the left are trying to claim that the Republican hopes for retaking the House are unwarranted and deny that we are in a wave election, there is actually no realistic basis for such claims. The surging force behind Republicans in 2010 is undeniable.   As indicated by Gallup, the Republican Party is polling incredibly well among voters on a number of factors including  party identification, voter preferences among independents, and even candidate preferences, and the G.O.P. has also retaken the lead on the generic ballot.

Furthermore; Republicans are now either comparable with, or surpassing Democrats on everything from voter enthusiasm and an increased online presence, to fundraising and a growing number of boots on the ground, grass root volunteers. For one of the first times in recent history, young Republican voters are expected to turn out in larger numbers than young Democrat voters. College Republicans have even jumped to a point in popularity and fundraising that is allowing them to go national with ads and target several key states on 2010.

When it comes to the large gap in internet presence and fundraising that existed between the left and right in 2008, in 2010 the trend has totally reversed. The first signs of this became evident 11 months ago when Scott Brown raised nearly $10 million online in all of 18 days. Now, we have seen other examples of internet success in such candidates as Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell who raised more than $1 million online in the 24 hours after their primary wins. All of this is a sign of two things. The G.O.P. has finally gained parity with the Democrats in the use of the internet and that the collective strength of the G.O.P.‘s grassroots is becoming increasingly more important than any strengths of particular candidates or their campaigns.

All of this points to a shifting of the political earththat is far greater than we saw in 1994.

Rarely has a political Party comeback as quickly as the Republican Party is poised to do this November. Normally, it takes much more than two years to bounce back from the type of  losses that they suffered first in 2006 and then again in 2008.

It is accurate to say though, that the climb back to power for the G.O.P. is based less on the voters goodwill towards Republicans and more on the ill will that they have come to feel towards Democrats. Which leads me to wonder about something.

 Between 2006 and 2010, neither Party seemed to be held in any great esteem, yet why was there not any great move to finally create that perennially promised, almighty, and perfect third Party that we always hear dissatisfied voters talk about?

Although there has so far been a strong ripple of anti-incumbent sentiment out there,  we did not see the rise of that much hoped for third Party alternative. We did however see a powerful anti-big government movement infiltrate the process and greatly influence the field of Republicans running in 2010.

I believe that this is all largely due to the efforts of the Democrat Party more than the Republican Party.

The Party in power has overreached the mandate they thought they had in 2008. They even misread their significant wins in 2008 and assumed that the nation was actually desirous of an aggressive big government agenda. But in fact, they weren’t. The reason for the 2008 victory, led by the top of Democrat ticket with Barack Obama, was a phenomenon similar to the one that is giving rise to the Republican resurgence of 2010. Voters were voting against the Party in power.

This is what happens when voters are dissatisfied. They seek change……..the very same theme that candidate Obama successfully banked on in ’08.

Another key to the Democrat victories of 2008 was the excitement over the novelty of the historic chance to elect the nation’s first partially black President.  And last but not least was the fact that the G.O.P. ran a weak nominee at the top ticket who failed to energize the base and failed to prove that republicanism under him, would be any different from the republicanism seen under G.W. Bush and the existing Republican leadership in Congress.

So change was born. But as we have come to see, the change that Democrats have run with, is not the change that Americans are satisfied with. As a result, the political pendulum is now swinging back in the opposite direction. But it is swinging with a vengeance. Between incredible Democrat overreach, and an explosion of exaggerated government growth, spending and deficit increases, Democrats have polarized the electorate far more than did the Republicans who after a few years in power, slowly but surely forgot their commitment to limited government and less spending.

But it is clear now that most Americans believe in the basic Republican ideology of less government, less taxes and less spending. That is why rather than seeing a surge for third Party candidacies, you have seen a rush towards cleaning out the Republican Party of those whom have drifted away from those principles and failed to stand up for them responsibly and consistently.

We are now seeing one of those rare occasions when a large majority of voters are actually pushing an ideology more than a candidate. That is what the TEA Party movement is all about. They are pushing a cause more than Party politics and as such they are helping to return the G.O.P. back to its true conservative roots by ridding it of so-called RINO’s.

But if the G.O.P. is to continue its rise back to power into 2012 and beyond, they will have to prove to the voters that some lessons have been learned. 

Given that President Obama will still be President on the morning after November 2, 2010, and that the Senate will likely still be in Democrat control, albeit with a new Majority Leader, the G.O.P. House will have to hold firm in rejecting any compromises that err on the side of increased spending, and increased government overreach.

This will prompt charges of being obstructionists and cries that attempt to describe Republicans as the “Party of no” by those on the left, but it is important to remember that those initiating such remarks are not likely to ever support Republicans anyway. But if the G.O.P. aggressively offers solid alternatives while rejecting the President’s, and the Senate’s big government, liberal agenda, people will maintain faith in the new face of the G.O.P. and that ‘Party of no” description will continue to fall on deaf ears.

When the G.O.P takes back the House, they will have to prove that they are actually ready to fight for the values that are providing them with the momentum that they currently have behind them. This will especially be the case in matters of spending and the budget, since the House, more so then the Senate controls the purse strings of the federal government.  If they flinch, and if they fail to keep their noses clean and deliver on their promised commitments, their will be little enthusiasm from the grassroots to maintain the level of support that they are currently placing behind the G.O.P..

Republicans will also have to remember a few things. First they must make sure that each issue is connected to government’s role in the everyday lives of Americans. They need to consistently demonstrate how big government is expanding its control over our personal lives but at the sake of properly dealing with its actual responsibilities such as providing a secure border and finally developing comprehensive immigration reform or balancing the federal  budget. And they must keep each of these messages simple. The same way Ronald Reagan did in both 1980 and 1984, as demonstrated in the following 1984 Reagan campaign campaign ad:

 

Keeping it simple brings it home and in 1984 Reagan brought it home with a sweep of 49 states to Mondale’s 1.

But before we get to presidential politics as it pertains to 2012, we have to establish the point from which the G.O.P. will start from after 2o10.  At the moment it looks like Republicans could far surpass the expectations of many in both the House and the Senate .

Based upon the circumstances that exist today and my own estimation of how things will play out in the individual landscapes of several hotly contested states, I see the senate tied at with 50 Republicans and the 48 Democrats plus the two left leaning Independents who caucus with the Democrats.  This includes Retaining seats in Alaska, Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho,Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah while picking up seats in;

  • Arkansas   (John Boozman over Blanche Lincoln)
  • Colorado    (Ken Buck over Mike Bennet)
  • Illinois       (Mark Kirk over Alexi Giannoulias)
  • Indiana      (Dan Coats over Brad Ellsworth)
  • Nevada       (Susan Angle over Harry Reid)
  • North Dakota    (John Hoeven over Tracy Potter)
  • Pennsylvania     (Pat Toomey over Joe Sestak)
  • Washington     (Dino Rossi over Patty Murray)
  • Wisconsin      (Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold)

However; there are several possibilities which increase the likelihood of a Republican takeover of the Senate.

Any one of three races could keep Joe Biden from breaking any tie vote.  Delaware, West Virginia and/or California could very easily go Republican. 

With the surprise win by a rather large margin of Christine O’Donnell over heavily favored Mike Castle, it is not of the question to believe that under the existing anti-left atmosphere and prevailing momentum,  O’Donnell could pull off another surprise and take the seat away from the media annointed frontrunner Chris Coons.  But even more possible than a Republican upset in delaware are the possible ones that are in the making inCalifornia and surprisingly, West Virginia.

In West Virginia, popular Democrat incumbent Governor Joe Mancin was originally seen as a shoo-in. He is one of those truly rare relative moderate Democrats and as a long serving Governor of the state he has done well by its voters and bonded with them extensively. Especially after a string of mining disasters that hit this coal mining state pretty hard and very personally. But it would seem that winds of disenchantment with anything relating to Democrats are blowing so strongly against them that even Mancin’s personal relationship with voters is being severely curtailed when it comes to sending him to Washington, D.C.. For that reason, his Republican opponent John Raese went from nearly 33% at the end of July to 48% at the end of September while during that same time period, the popular Mancin went from 54% to 46% where he currently stands 2% behind underdog Raese.

The race is sure to be close and right now it can easily go either way but I believe the Republicans can pull this one off and at the moment I believe they will squeak it out.

In California, I can’t underestimate Barbara Boxer.

In her last race for the Senate, back in 2004, she beat her Republican opponent by 20% and became the holder of the record for the most popular votes in a statewide contested election in California. But this time around, things are not so easy and she wont be breaking any records with her popular vote this time around.

She currently has a disapproval rating higher than her approval rating, one of the largest newspapers in the state has refused to endorse because they believe that after 18 years in the Senate she has failed to distinguish herself in any meaningful way and that they see no reason to believe that she will do with another 6 years in office.

But this is California, a state that President Obama won by 24% or more than 3.2 million votes. But in addition to that, something else that could work in Boxer’s favor this time around is a statewide proposition to legalize marijuana. That ballot question could draw many Democrats who otherwise were not interested in voting this time around, to the polls and while there, they just might push the button for Boxer.

For her part though. Republican Carly Fiorina is holding her own, has all the money she needs to keep pushing her message and pulling out her vote and at the moment, while she is behind Boxer, by less than 6 percent, Boxer is still under the 50% mark, a place that no incumbent should be in this close to the election.

Anyone of these three seats could easily break for the Republican and give control of the Senate back to the G.O.P. and the possibility of this happening increases each day that we get closer to Election Day. But even if neither Delaware, California or West Virginia fail to Republicans, with a 50/50 split it is quite conceivable that any one of handful of Democrats could switch Parties or in the case of Independent Joe Lieberman, decide to causcus with the Republicans instead of the Democrats.

On the House side, Republican victories are even more lopsided than they are in the Senate.

In the House of Representatives Republicans could possibly end up with the largest number of seats they have held since 1946 when the GOP won 246 seats. Currently it looks like the G.O.P. can actually win at least 62 seats, thereby breaking the House down to 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats. This projection is much higher than most estimates being publicly announced which, for the most part range in the 40’s. But my projection still falls below that of Patrick Ruffini a reputable and leading G.O.P. strategist who has been in the trenches for quite some time now. Ruffiini believes that the figure will certainly be somewhere over 50 seats but believes a 70 seat gain is not out of the question.

No matter what, the results of the midterm elections will produce profound changes in the direction of policy and at the very least change the pace of the Obama agenda .

But there remains an aspect of the 2010 midterm elections which is being overshadowed by the anticipated turnover in Congress and it could have an more even more important long term effect on politics.

That is the 37 gubernatorial elections being held throughout the nation. Of them Republicans are expected to pick up at least 8 new statehouses bringing them from 23 where they are currently at, to 31, leaving Democrats with Governors in only 19 states.

That number is profoundly important because in 2011 the once every decade census data is poured over by the states and with they draw the new the state legislative a congressional districts lines from which Americans will elect their representatives for the decade to come. Having Governors in 31 states, will give the G.O.P. an advantage in drawing districts that it will be easier to elect Republicans in.

But in addition to that, Governors can play a crucial role in presidential elections.

There ability to coordinate their states for national candidates is invaluable and having that advantage over Democrats in almost a dozen states, will give whomever the Republican presidential nominee is a leg up over President Obama in 2012. Of course if 2010 proves to be as devastating for Democrats as it is looking, President Obama may not be the Democrat nominee. I feel that if Democrat losses are as profound as they are shaping up to be, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will resign her post and in time declare that she will offer a primary challenge to President Obama in order to save the Democratic Party and the nation from him.

Of course it only takes one world event to turn things around and in politics 5 weeks is an eternity. But if things continue going as they are right now, Democrats are going to descend into the political wilderness for years to come and President Obama is going to be a one term President who Republican can thank for bringing them back to power and whom Democrats will blame for squandering their opportunity to maintain control of Washington for years to come. 

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Dan Coats Puts Indiana Into Undecided Column & the Senate Map Gets Browner

Bookmark and Share   Following up on our recent assessment of the Senate races taking place in the 2010 midterm elections, today POLITICS 24/7 moves Indiana into the possible Republican pickup column.

Despite his attempts to sound conservative, Evan Bayh has a lot to answer for and although he is usually on solid ground, Bayh was standing on a bed of shifting sand in this anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent environment.  However; Bayh is well established and has a history of convincing people that he is much more conservative than his voting record shows. So we saw his reelection as tougher than usual but safe.

But not anymore.

Senator Dan Coats has entered the race, and now that he has, with his favorable and reputable record make him a real threat to Evan Bayh as Americans sour on Bayh’s liberal party affiliation and support for some major liberal initiatives.

So In addition to New York, Washington, and Wisconsin being possible pickups for the G.O.P., POLITIICS 24/7 now adds Indiana to the list.

These increasingly competitive seats are just icing on the cake that so far has Republicans beating Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. That’s eight seats. If Republicans can pick up one of the four possible pick up seats, that would give the G.O.P. fifty seats to the Democrats seats. That would allow Vice President Joe Biden to cast the deciding vote. If they can win two of the four pickup seats that would give Republicans 51 seats and majority control, making Joew Biden as inconsequential as he really is.

For a full analysis of the 2010 senate election map and the other races, see; 2010 Senate Races Are Turning The Map “Brown”

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2010 Senate Races Are Turning The Map “Brown”

Bookmark and Share   After Massachusetts went Brown for Scott Brown, POLITICS 24/7 recently noted that if the G.O.P. can convince voters that they have learned a lesson and truly understand that Americans are looking for a limited, constitutionally driven government, that minds its own business and focuses on that which it is suppose to, such as our national defense and sovereignty, they are on schedule to pick up a minimum of 27 House seats and 7 Senate seats. 

If Republicans can not only convince voters that they learned their lesson but also go a step further and organize themselves around a unified message, I also pointed out that they can actually pick up as many 9 or 10 Senate seats and 41 House seats to achieve a 218 to 217 seat majority and a 50/50 split or 51/49 majority in the Senate.

Over the past few days, as seen in the map below, the odds of the high end of these predictions rather than the low end, have increased greatly, especially in the Senate, where some seemingly safe Democrat seats are leaning more toward the toss up column.

In Colorado, the Centennial State, Democrat Michael Bennet, whose election is already in doubt, is looking to be in even more doubt. Bennet, was appointed by the state’s unpopular Governor, to fill Republican Ken Salazar’s seat after President Obama appointed Salazar to his Cabinet as Interior Secretary. Now it is looking like Senator Bennet’s shaky bid to a full term in the Senate will be further damaged by a challenge for the Democrat nomination from Andrew Romanoff who has just signed some high priced and reputable Democrat consultants and pollsters to his primary campaign. This will undoubtedly make it even more difficult for Democrats to compete in an environment that is becoming less and less friendly for them in Colorado as each day passes.

A quick fly over to the East and a look at Deleware reveals that since the son of the favorite son of the Diamond State, Joe Biden, is not going to seek his fathers old Senate seat, Republican Congressman Mike Castle has this one almost in the bag. Considering the lousy environment for Democrats this time around, Beau Biden is conceding that race to Castle and running for reelection as the state’s Attorney General.

From the Diamond State in the East, we head back to the West and the Silver State, where another political gem reveals itself for Republicans.

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s poll numbers have him plummeting to earth in a death spiral that has gravity hurtling him to the ground faster than Martha Coakley in a race against Scott Brown, and unlike Coakley, who Reid’s Republican opponent will be, is not even official yet.

According to financial filings released this past Friday, the Democrat leader turned out his weakest fundraising quarter of the entire past year. Not a good sign for a campaign that is trying get his reelection bid off the ground. In addition to that, approval ratings in the low 30’s are not a good sign of Reid’s ability to bring in a hell of a lot more money for what is looking like a doomed reelection bid.

While we’re here in the West, Washington State is worth looking at. Here we find that once safe Democrat Senator Patty Murray’s sneakers are beginning to wear thin on the voters of the Evergreen State. Here, a new poll shows that three term incumbent Patty Murray pulls 42% against two time Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi who polls 45% in a Murray-Rossi match-up.

But the fault line that lies in the Democrats base does not end there. From The Evergreen State, it meanders eastward to the Badger State where the confident and once secure liberal lion cub, Russ Foolsgold, I mean Feingold, now finds himself at risk if former Governor Tommy Thompson runs against him. If Thompson does decide to go for it, something which he is seriously mulling over, Thompson would take 47% to Feingold’s 43%.

But the more you travel this great land of ours, the worse the news gets for Democrats.

As is the case south of Wisconsin, in Missouri where voters in the Show Me State seem to want to see something more than the Carnahan dynasty represent them. Robin Carnahan, the Secretary of State and daughter of the former Governor Mel Carnahan is looking to run for the seat that her father ran for and won, even though he was killed in a plane crash only days before the election. Governor Carnahan’s posthumous victory allowed the Lieutenant Governor that succeeded Mel upon his death, to appoint Mel’s wife…..Robin’s mother. But since then Mama Carnahan lost that seat in a special election and now Robin is seeking to get back the seat that she sees as part of her families inheritance. The only problem is that Robin Carnahan is now behind her Republican opponent, Roy Blunt by 6 percentage points. On top of that in the last quarter Carnahan’s financial reports indicate that she has been having a tough time getting financial support.

Having seen the Show Me State’s state of political affairs, The Keystone State offers an even sadder situation for Democrats as now incumbent Democrat Arlen Specter finds himself in a primary against Democrat Congressman Joe Sestak. That will be a race that simply saps out whatever life is left in Arlen’s senate career and make it harder to overcome the 14% that a new poll has him trailing the Republican opponent, Pat Toomey, by.

A bit further East of Pennsylvania and Democrats are even finding the friendly liberal environment of the Empire State to be a challenge. Here, Kirsten Gillibrand finds herself having a tough time keeping Hillary Clinton’s old senate seat as former Tennessee Congressman, Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. starts beating up on her before he even officially challenges her in a race for the Democrat nomination.

In a number of polls, Gillibrand already trails former Republican Governor George Pataki, if he enters the race. Whether he runs or not is still highly doubtful. But with Gillibrand viewed highly favorable by a mere 9% of New Yorkers and unfavorably by 17%, finding a decent Republican who can possibly take this should not be hard………“should not be”, but probably will.   At the very least, a good candidate will force Democrats to pump money into a seat that the DNSC would rather invest elsewhere.

These are just some of the latest developments that only add to the likely Republican takeover of seats in Arkansas, Illinois and North Dakota. But if none of that worries Democrats yet, one thing that should is a very common denominator. All of these candidates, not to mention Arkansas, Illinois and North Dakota as well, have the Democrat incumbents and the likely Democrats nominees approval ratings that are below 50%. Historically, at this stage of game, just a mere nine or so months away, any incumbent who is preferred by less than half of their constituents, is in trouble.

That in and of itself means big trouble for most Democrats and although things could change, it is getting a little late in the game to turn things around.

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A Perfect Political Storm Is Brewing In New York

Bookmark and Share    A perfect storm is a unique combination of circumstances that allow two or more weather fronts to meet and mix with a moisture rich air mass. The perfect timing and combination often produce storms of unprecedented power and devastation. Although the term is often reserved for meteorological references, it can also be applied to events unrelated to weather. For instance, the recent events that allowed a Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts is a prime example of a metaphorical use of the phrase “perfect storm”. A unique set of circumstances that brought voter dissatisfaction, and a perceived liberal arrogance together with a good Republican candidate and a bad Democrat candidate, made for a perfect storm that emaciated the filibuster-proof majority that Democrats held over the nation.

That same type of perfect storm is brewing in the political atmosphere of New York State. It takes a vulnerable liberal incumbent, an aggressive former Tennessee Congressman and a former Republican Congresswoman and puts them together to create a scenario that, if all the timing is right, could make for a scenario that recreates in New York, the same type of political Nor’ Easter that we saw in Massachusetts.

After being picked to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated senate seat by New York’s unpopular Governor David Paterson, Kirsten Gillibrand is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Ironically her vulnerabilities are more exposed among fellow Democrats than  it is with the loyal Republican opposition.

Initially, Gillibrand is most vulnerable to fellow Democrats who want to be the next U.S. Senator from New York.

Gillibrand remains largely unknown as a Senator. So far she has failed to become the champion of any issue and being picked by an unpopular Governor is not helping her. That is why everyone who is anyone looked at challenging her for the Democrat nomination.

Congressman Steve Israel was looking at launching his candidacy. So were several other state figures. But at the behest of President Obama, they all bowed out. The White House does not want to lose what is currently  a safe seat because of a bloody primary battle. This was especially the case when it looked like the most popular Republican in the state, Rudy Giuliani might be the G.O.P. nominee against Gillibrand. But Giuliani declined to run, again. That essentially left the road to winning the general election clear for Gillibrand……..so long as she was not dragged through the mud in a primary.

The White House did a good job at discouraging competition. Most New York Democrats heeded the President’s  advice and dropped any challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand. All except for one……former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford.

Ford is actually using his disobedience with the White House to his advantage. After getting much attention regarding his possible challenge to Senator Gillibrand, President Obama went very public in trying to deter Ford from actually running. But as Ford embarks on his” listening tour” of the state, he is taking that very public presidential demand and telling people that he will be an independent leader who will not take orders from anyone, including his fellow Democrat, President Obama.

Ford has billed his listening tour as a tool to help him to decide on whether or not he will run. But while shaking hands at a diner in Tappan, New York, he introduced himself by saying “I’m Harold Ford and I’m running for the U.S. Senate”. This Freudian slip was repeated quite a few times and each time, after he let the cat out of the bag, he quickly corrected himself and stated, “I’m thinking about running for the U.S. Senate”.

So it looks like Ford is actually going for it. He is just going through the motions at the moment and using the suspense to get a great deal of free publicity and exposure.

I did not think Ford would actually go through with a primary challenge to Gillibrand. Despite her low name I.D. and less than stellar approval ratings, Gillibrand’s negative ratings are among the lowest of any Democrat in the state and in just one year’s time, she has built quite a large war chest. With over $7 million raised since last February, she has raised more than any other senators with the exceptoion  of Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid and her New York colleague, the state’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer.

Given her support from the President along with her potential for getting her numbers up and her hefty fundraising abilities, I did not think Harold Ford would go for it. Especially given the fact that he will be labeled as a carpetbagger.

But Ford is extraordinarily power hungry. That is why he is no longer a Congressman from Tennessee. He gave that seat up when he chose to try to move up the political ladder by running for the U.S. Senate in that state.        He lost.

The decision to run for that senate seat came shortly after Ford tried to became the Democrat leader of the House of Representatives.

He ran against Nancy Pelosi.         He lost that too.

So now, with his Tennessee political fortunes exhausted, he moved to New York where he became a consultant for Merrill Lynch. That Wall Street name will be something that won’t help him if he does run. But I believe Harold understands that he could overcome that negative by going with the anti-incumbency sentiments and existing anger with the establishment. President Obama’s public attempt to discourage Harold Ford from running simply adds to this strategy. That is why Ford just might be able to get a lot of traction by claiming that he will not take orders from anyone.

If President Obama’s approval ratings continue to drop, and fails to even inspire Democrats, as was the case in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Ford’s opposing the President’s wishes will be to his advantage.

It is a gamble, but Harold Ford, Jr. is banking on distancing himself from President Obama and while he makes a run  from the President and to the left of the political spectrum, he will hype up the fact that Kirsten Gillibrand is the President’s senator but he will be the people’s senator. The scenario is interesting and very plausible. But essential to it working will be Ford’s fundraising ability.

Winning the Democrat nomination for statewide office in New York is currently viewed as the real fight, because with Rudy out, there is little chance of a Republican winning. Unless of course the Democrat primary between Ford and Gillibrand leaves the winner bloody. If that happens, whether the nominee be Gillibrand or Ford, one Republican might be able to turn things around.

Former Governor George Pataki is considering a run. Against Gillibrand, he could possibly pull it off, but if his opponent were to be the independent minded Harold Ford,  Pataki’s chances are diminished greatly. But Pataki is not the potential game changer. That person is former Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

Susan is the daughter of long serving, popular, former Republican New York Congressman Guy Molinari. When Guy did not get a position in President George H. W. Bush’s administration, he retired from Congress. Back then President Bush told Guy that he could not afford losing him in the House. Leaving was Guy’s way of saying “screw you”. So off he went. Guy then went on to become Borough President of Staten Island, the most Republican of New York City’s five counties. Replacing Guy in Congress was his daughter, City Councilwoman Susan Molinari.

For the longest time, Susan was the only Republican in the New York City Council and as such was already fairly well known. But after serving in Congress she soon became a darling of the Party.

Moderate in her politics, Susan played up her pro-choice stance with liberals and women while simultaneously playing up her defense and fiscal policies with conservatives. Both had an appreciation of her. But in 1997 after marrying Buffalo, New York’s former Congressman, Bill Paxon, Susan decided not to run for a urth term in Congress.

Now she is thinking about coming out of retirement.

Her father has said that after no star candidate emerged to challenge Gillibrand, “All of a sudden I think, the best candidate in the entire country is my daughter”.

I know Susan, and I can tell you right now that she is not “the best candidate in the entire country”, but she could be one of the best positioned Republican candidates in New York to take a U.S. Senate seat away from Democrats.

If a bloody Gillibrand is the inevitable nominee, Susan will help to split the women’s vote, especially suburban soccer Moms. If Ford is the badly bruised winner of the primary, he will have severely depleted his campaign war chest and he will have also gone through a campaign that will surely have labeled him an outsider. Put up against native New Yorker, Susan Molinari, who can easily raise a substantial campaign fund, Tennessee Ford will find himself having a tough time beating her. Molinari will, again, get a substantial number of votes from women, she will hold down Democrat numbers coming out of New York City and she will be able to go toe to toe with Ford on who is more independent. In addition to all that, Harry will also have a tough time reconciling the more liberal  Harold Ford of New York’s 2010  senate race, with the more conservative Harold Ford who ran in 2006 for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.  Many of his positions hav changed.  Gay marriage is just one example.  Among the more conservative Tennessee electorate, Harry was opposed to same sex marriage.  Now, among more liberal New Yorkers, he is for same sex marriage.  Which Ford would New Yorkers really be getting? 

Kirsten Gillibrand will have all this amunition too but here’s where another part of this perfect storm comes into play.

Governor Paterson is African-American.  He is going to be challenged for the gubernatorial  nomination by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, an Itsalian-American.  This situation is going to have an effect on a Gillibrand-Ford race. 

Paterson is currently expected to lose to Cuomo, but one thing is for sure. Race will play a role and  African-American New Yorker’s will be coming out for Governor Paterson.   

While at the polls,  a great many of them are likely to cast their senate primary vote for Harold Ford, Jr., who is also African-American.  So no matter how much Gillibrand may attack Ford for flip-flopping, Ford can count on attratcing many black voters away from Gillibrand.

 As a Republican, I for one do hope that Ford runs. By making a strong bid for the Democrat nomination, he will do much more good for the G.O.P. than he will for Democrats and if he wins that nomination, he will make it pretty easy for Susan Molinari to walk right up the middle and into the senate chambers of Washington, D.C..

Now all Republicans have to do is make sure that Susan Molinari becomes their nominee. If she does, New York might pull off a Massachusetts-like surprise that will add to the already substantial gains in Congress that Republicans are heading towards. But one without the other will not work. If Republicans don’t properly seed the storm clouds, their electoral drought will be long lasting.

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Use of the Nuclear Option In Healthcare Reform Could Backfire on Democrats

Bookmark and Share     A  man given little mention and no attention could become the key roadblock to attempts to pass healthcare based on a procedure called “reconciliation”. Between that man and, ironically, a rule created by a long time Democrat Senator, Democrat’s hopes of passing health care management and care reforms through could be derailed.
Alan Frumin,  the Parliamentarian of the US Senate and soon, possibly, the most influentuial man in America

Alan Frumin, the Parliamentarian of the US Senate and soon, possibly, the most influentuial man in America

The Senate Parliamentarian is the unassuming man who you often see on the dais, giving advice on proper procedure to the presiding officer when the senate is in session. He is Alan Frumin and he is the individual charged with making sure that protocol and procedures are not abused. That job includes insuring that legislation is pieced together and passed properly. Passing a bill through “reconciliation” is just the type of thing that Alan Frumin could have lots to say in if Democrats try to use reconciliation inappropriately. At the moment, there is widespread speculation which indicates that given some aspects of the health reform bill, the use of reconciliation might not be applicable here. The reason that conclusion could be reached is based on a rule created by North Carolina Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of whom the rule is named after.

To understand what exactly is at play here, you must understand what legislative “reconciliation” is and why it is being considered by Democrats ranging from President Obama to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Also called the “nuclear option”, under reconciliation, the Senate could pass health care reform with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of the usual 60 votes that is normally needed to overcome any attempts to filibuster. With doubt over any republican support for the liberal reform proposal, using this process might be the only way for government health management and care to get passed.

In the real world, reconciliation means the ending of conflict or a return to friendly relationships between disputing entities. But Washington, DC is hardly the real world. Only in Washington can, not raising taxes, be considered a tax cut and only in Washington can “reconciliation” be an undesirable process. Like anything else that government bureaucrats have a hand in, the legislative reconciliation process is hard to explain but essentially, it bypasses any threatened filibusters by limiting debate to 20 hours and designed to make it impossible for a minority to block the passage of critical budget or deficit reduction legislation. Note that I specifically indicated “budget or deficit reduction legislation”. That is because the process was originally designed to reconcile the many different versions of bills that inevitably come out of several different Senate and House committees. The many versions coming out of these committees could spark endless debates, so reconciliation was established to allow legislation effecting the budget to hit certain spending targets by certain deadlines. To achieve that, reconciliation instructions are written into the budget bill and it directs certain committees to staple all the different stipulations in all the different versions into one bill. From there, it goes to the Senate floor for debate that is limited to no more than 20 hours which is followed by a straight up or down vote.

But it was misused. At least, Robert Byrd thought so. He saw that a host of issues not relevant to the budget were being snuck into bills under the cover of the reconciliation process. Instead of being used to reconcile the budget or cut deficits, it was being used to undermine the minority by taking filibusters off the table. In many instances, some senators pushed their entire legislative agenda through by using the reconciliation process. So in 1985, the Byrd bill was adopted. It greatly restricted the use of reconciliation to only that which is considered appropriate. According to the Byrd rule, legislation is unfit for reconciliation if it produces changes in outlays or revenue which merely relate to, or accompany, something in the non-budgetary components of the provision. Essentially it comes down to this; something such as raising taxes can be passed by through reconciliation but something such as hate crimes legislation can’t. Under the Byrd rule senators can object to any portion of a bill being passed under reconciliation by declaring it has nothing to do with the budget or deficit. This argument can be made even if some provisions in question have effects on the budget that are only “incidental in nature”.

On the health reform package, such objections could force the Senate Parliamentarian to rule out many reforms in the Democrat’s bill before it can be voted on. Could aspects of the bill which change hospital delivery systems or effect preventive treatment measures be considered unrelated to the budget? Are provisions which regulate insurers “merely incidental” to government revenues? Would you consider incentives for preventive treatment to be directly to the crafting of a federal for the fiscal year? What about mandates? If the Democrats go nuclear, it will be possible for Republicans to have many of the provisions in the current billed, stripped out of it under the Byrd rule. What a strange twist of fate that would be, wouldn’t it? The Democrat’s decide to go it alone and in doing so, a Democrat’s procedural rule ends up emaciating the Democrat’s health management and control reform bill.

That would be so ironic. I mean, A Democrat bill that would screw so many Americans, ends up getting screwed by a Democrat rule. Now that is justice.

Of course if the Democrats do decide to go nuclear, Alan Frumin, the Senate Parliamentarian, will be the man who could become responsible for rulings that he will be forced to make because of Republican objections. He could rule either rule some of the legislative initiatives in the bill are non-budget-related or that they are. Either way, by trying to pass a strictly partisan bill, on their own and through reconciliation, Democrats will be making the quiet, modest Senate Parliamentarian, the most powerful person in the land. If they choose to go it alone on healthcare, they will force Republicans to apply the Byrd rule to each and every provision in the bill and who knows what Alan Furmin will strip out of it. The possibility caused Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to say of the Senate Parliamentarian, “To thrust him into the healthcare bill so he’s virtually writing the bill is unprecedented and unacceptable”

If Democrats do use reconciliation as a weapon, Republicans will be prepared. The plans for fighting this battle are being drawn. Senator Tom Coburn is assessing the field of play that the nuclear option will place both sides on. Senators like Jon Kyl of Arizona are also readying for a fight on the field of legislative reconciliation. He has previous experience based on precedent setting objections to the use of reconciliation regarding tort reform.

Back in April, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said that reconciliation is not likely to be needed to advance health care reform legislation and he pointed out that he “sincerely” believes Democrats will use reconciliation only as a last resort, adding that reconciliation only exists “as an insurance policy”. In response to that, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, angrily declared to Congressional Quarterly “Gun’ would be more accurate than insurance policy”. He then added “I fully agree that the U.S. health care system needs significant overhaul, but using the budget reconciliation process is not a constructive way to accomplish it.” He added that “reconciliation would completely shut out the minority from having any input whatsoever.” In my estimation, in the end, reconciliation may not be necessary. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the Maine Morons, the Republican Pigeon Sisters who have both indicated a willingness to accept the partisan bill under almost any conditions, will provide a filibuster proof margin, thereby making the nuclear option unnecessary. In any event, if the Democrats do find that reconciliation is the only chance they have at getting the bill passed and use it, it will bring us down a long road and at the wheel will be Alan Frumin, an unelected, neutral, official whose job is dedicated to neither Republicans or Democrats but to the Senate as an enduring institution.

But one thing should be noted. In the past, Senate Parliamentarians have coincidentally been fired after making too many procedural rulings that did not go in the majority’s favor. So as non-partisan as Alan Frumin is, job security, especially during these times of high Obamaployment could become a factor here.

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For a closer look at the rules regarding “reconciliation’ visit the following link to the Legal Information Institute’s U.S. Code collection by clicking HERE

And the House of Representative’s Committee Rules regarding the reconciliation process HERE:

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