June 19, 2011

GOP Strategists Harbor Mixed Feelings on Perry Run

That’s the takeaway from this piece on a potential Perry bid, the odds of which are now even money according to Perry confidants. In addition to the belief that Perry may be a bit too Southern-fried for the country at large, Perry skeptics seem to be questioning whether the fiery Texan has the fire in the belly for a presidential run:

Few Republicans will say it publicly, but many party elites believe Perry would have difficulty moving beyond the sort of sharply-delivered platitudes he’s honed before Texas’s conservative electorate.

Even in the Lone Star State, many GOP insiders don’t think their governor has the chops to take his game to the national stage.

For many Republicans, it’s also not clear whether the party and the country is ready for a Texas governor whose macho manner is almost a steroid-enhanced version of the previous one they elected president.

John Ryder, a longtime Tennessee GOP committeeman who attended Perry’s speech Saturday, said some in the party would like another candidate in the George W. Bush model.

But others would ask: “Do we want to do that again?” Ryder said. “That would be Perry’s challenge.”

The betting in Republican circles is moving toward a Perry run, but skeptics aren’t convinced he wants to do the unglamorous work involved in campaigning for president. In their view, he’s always enjoyed national attention and Washington invitations so an extended flirtation with a White House bid would seem to be a logical extension of this penchant for the spotlight.

These sorts of criticisms are reminscent of the Fred Thompson candidacy from four years ago, which also began later than it should have, and which came complete with an uber-federalist candidate from Dixie who was supposed to save the party from its RINO frontrunners. Also, as this piece confirms in the case of Perry, both potential candidates even sported spouses who were reportedly pushing for a run. Whether Gov. Perry ends up being this cycle’s Fred Thompson remains to be seen.

  7:33 pm

June 18, 2011

Rick Perry: Government Should Not “Micromanage the Behavior of Adults”

This guy’s starting to grow on me:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed 23 bills on Friday, including legislation that would have outlawed sending or reading text messages while driving.

Lawmakers approved the texting ban last month, but Perry called it an “overreach” and “government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”

Perry also struck a handful of spending lines in the state budget.

Unlike the most recent president from Texas, Perry is an authentic product of the Lone Star State, hence his curious cocktail of libertarianism and evangelicalism, a mixture that George W. Bush pulled off about as well as his urban cowboy schtick. Bush was always at heart a New England patrician in red state clothing; he was motivated by his Aristocratic sense of Noblesse Oblige, hence his authoritarian presidency.

Perry also knows how to use his veto pen, something that Dubya never did quite master. Should the Texas governor take the plunge, he will be an interesting addition to the race to say the least.

  11:50 am

June 10, 2011

Campaign Video: “Governor Pawlenty Offers America the ‘Better Deal’ for Economy

Released by the campaign today:
Quite Reaganesque, if you ask me. The video does a nice job of capturing the optimistic, uplifting parts of the speech, in addition to emphasizing the serious business cred Jack Welch’s statements lend.

  11:12 am

June 9, 2011

Thursday quick hits: Texas two-step helps Cruz, candidate makes it official in OH, a big haul in FL and some promising house possibilities.

Fresh off getting married, a honey moon and settling back into life, I’m back with another “quick hit” post, collecting all the news that’s fit to print from the 458 other federal races in 2012, as well as some gubernatorial nuggets of interest.

1. TX-Sen, TX-Rep: The Texas senate primary has been an absolute heart-breaker for many, because of the presence of two conservative rock-stars in the race, former railroad commissioner Michael Williams and Soliciter-General Ted Cruz. As the fiscal conservative clans unite around Cruz, however, it looks like Williams may be seeking other opportunities. The current TX redistricting plan sets up an open seat based out of Williams’ home town of Arlington, and rumor has it he may be switching races as soon as this map is finalized. This would be a real coup for Cruz, particularly if a double-endorsement is in the works. Should this occur, look for Jim DeMint to very quickly endorse Cruz (following Freedom Works and the Club for Growth), and making him the candidate with the most conservative muscle behind him. Additionally, if Rick Perry does indeed run for the Whitehouse, the possibility of an open-seat governor’s race may keep LT-Gov David Dewhurst out of the senate race.

2. OH-Sen: Former state Senator Kevin Coughlin has, as was expected, entered the race against ultra-liberal first-term Senator Sherrod Brown. From his resume, Coughlin looks like a pragmatic legislator with experience running and winning in heavily-Dem territory. Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Secretary of State and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell are also mulling the race. Speaking of Blackwell, he made a few waves by endorsing Florida senate candidate Adam Hasner, a favor which Hasner has yet to return (of course, Blackwell’s not in the race yet, so Hasner’s non-endorsement probably doesn’t mean much).

3. FL-Sen: Mike Haridopolos can’t win for losing. His most recent piece of bad news was entirely self-inflicted, a very bad interview with Orlando talkshow host Ray Junior in which he refused–multiple times–to take a position for or against the Ryan plan. Meanwhile, former interim senator George LeMieux is getting milage out of his previous time in the senate, via a fund-raising event held with nineteen of his former senate colleagues, at which he seems to have brought in a ton of money. And the race could get at least one more entry, as Ruth Chris Steakhouse CEO and former congressional candidate Craig Miller is actively considering entering what is already a pretty crowded primary.

4. MO-Gov: Ouch! LT. Gov. Peter Kinder, the likely GOP nominee for governor in 2012, is getting absolutely no love from other folks within the MOGOP, who leaked some devastating stuff to David Catanese at politico questioning Kinder’s ability to win. On one hand, you’ve got to question the good sense of people doing this much damage to the presumptive nominee. On the other hand, Kinder’s campaign has been remarkably fumble-fingered. One wonders if people like Ann Wagner, Ed Martin, John Brunner and so on are considering switching races? That said, Governor Nixon’s approval ratings look pretty good, so it’d certainly be a crap-shoot.

5. CA-Rep. So, a funny thing happened on the way to the Democratic corronation in CA-36, when tea party candidate Craig Huey took second place in the jungle primary here. Now, polling in the district shows Huey only five points behind Janice Hahn, which is perhaps part of the reason Hahn is trying desperately to tie Huey to Sarah Palin. This special election has been a massive sleeper, but a five point race in a district as blue as CA-36 is noteworthy. In other CA-Rep news, Bob Filner (D) is leaving the house to run for mayor of Sandiego in 2012. Who knows what this district (or any district in CA for that matter) will look like post-redistricting, but an open seat has to be easier for Republicans than beating an incumbent (minus a scandal, of course).

6. NY-Rep. The loss of Jane Corwin to Kathy Hochul in NY-26 was disappointing, frustrating, irritating, etc, etc. But with Anthony Weiner’s recent public implosion, Republicans may have an outside shot at retaking his seat. Josh Kraushar of the Hotline notices a surge in Republican voting from 2000 to the present in this district, and fingers judge Noach Dear as a potential candidate. Discussion also swirls around Weiner as a potential redistricting casualty. If Weiner should resign, and if a Republican were to win the seat, what would this mean for redistricting? Would Democrats agree to the dismantling of Hochul’s district, in exchange for the destruction of their newly-one seat? While NY-26 is pretty hard to dismantle (partially because it’s so big), there are potential issues with Weiner’s seat as well, as it borders a couple of VRA seats, and dismantling it would require some of the old bulls in suburban NY to take on slightly more conservative territory. Regardless, Hochul’s reelection is by no means guaranteed, with Obama at the top of the ticket and an actual voting record in the house to defend.

7. OK-02: Democrat Dan Boren is the first straight-up retirement of the cycle, creating a real potential pick-up opportunity for Republicans. OK-02 is the reddest district Democrats hold, and Boren was one of three Democrats to vote in favor of repealing healthcare. Democrats have about the best recruit they can get in former Rep. Brad Carson, but expect Republicans to make a serious play for this seat. State Rep. George Faught (who’s son is, apparently, blogger Jamison Faught), is apparently already thinking about the race, and state senator Josh Brecheen has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

8. Redistricting: The knives are out, as states begin slicing and dicing the congressional districts of their representatives, and it looks like this cycle will be no-holds-barred. The opening salvo was fired by Illinois, in which the Democratic legislature jerrymandered– or in this case, demomandered– to their hearts content (court challenge likely). Texas fired the next shot, in which Republicans did the same thing, but in reverse, leaving civil rights groups screaming over the lack of a second Hispanic VRA seat (court challenge almost guaranteed). And nobody knows what California’s commission-drawn map will look like. Republicans’ best shot at redistricting-oriented pick-ups probably comes in North Carolina, where the legislature has a real shot at undoing the Democratic-friendly map of 2000, but GA, PA, UT and a few other states provide real pick-up opportunities. ?And then there’s Florida, whose fair districts initiative complicates a Republican jerrymander, but still has to pass a challenge in the courts. (please make suggestions regarding your state in the comments). This will be an ongoing story in 2011/2012, and one which may significantly impact the 2012 house landscape.

(Authors Note: I intended to edit this immediately upon posting, but was unavoidably pulled away from my computer; sorry for the delay in revising).

  1:45 pm

Cory Booker Laying Groundwork for Senate Run?

Chris Christie’s lucky day? Politico has the scoop:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is quietly laying the groundwork for a U.S. Senate bid “if the lane opens up,” according to a source close to him.

The creation of a federal political action committee — CoryPAC — is the first concrete step Booker has taken to indicate his interest.

This represents terrific news for Gov. Christie, as many view Booker as the greatest threat to his re-election prospects. Furthermore, if Booker opts for the Senate, instead of the governor’s office, he would merely replace an incumbent Democrat, instead of a Republican.

  9:11 am

June 4, 2011

Senator Marco Rubio on Medicare Reform and the Ryan Plan

Senator Marco Rubio recently released a YouTube video to accompany an of-ed in the Miami Herald on the importance of saving Medicare from bankruptcy and highlighting his support for the Ryan plan.  Rubio draws heavily on his family history and frequently refers to his elderly mother.  This is an excellent piece of media that combines policy substance with outstanding presentation skill.  The GOP leadership and the presidential candidates would do well to take a serious look at how Rubio addresses this volatile issue in a state with a very high senior citizen population.



  11:35 am

June 2, 2011

Will Perry Play in Pennsylvania?

One of the quintessential queries that seems to surface whenever an aspiring politician goes national has been traditionally summed up by the age-old adage, “Will he play in Peoria?” Peoria, an Illinois town, was meant to symbolize Main Street America, the sort of place that can and will make or break the fortunes of even the most self-assured wunderkind of the Right or Left. But in 2011, with Illinois far from a national bellwether when it comes to the political winds, the better question, at least for Republican candidates, is whether any given candidate will play in Pennsylvania, particularly in the eastern counties of the state that gave Kerry a meager victory over Bush, and Toomey a bare majority over Sestak. Toomey played well in Pennsylvania. Bush, not so much. Given that Barack Obama simply cannot win a second term without the Keystone State’s electoral votes, this question is more poignant than ever.

It is against that backdrop that I present to you the following video of potential candidate for the GOP nomination, Gov. Rick Perry. In this clip, which is now going viral throughout the left-wing blogosphere, Perry discusses the possible spiritual reasons behind our nation’s economic woes:


Note that this clip is currently spreading across the Twitter-verse, with left-wing commentators giving it descriptions like, “Rick Perry: God Caused the Bad Economy.” That’s a very crude representation of what Perry said, of course, but this is absolutely what our candidates are going to have to expect in a wired world. This is why Mitch Daniels fared so poorly in the pre-game, as every verbal gaffe he uttered was instantly transported throughout the globe via several dozen armchair pundits. Let’s face it, we are no longer living in an era in which a politician can “play” to various audiences with differing lingo. Every word that a public official now puts into the universe has the potential to reach a million homes in a matter of seconds.

Now, what Perry actually said of course isn’t exactly explosive. It’s just packaged in a way that appeals to an evangelical audience, and that will ultimately distract and terrify audiences that are less religious, or less public about their theology. Heck, Mitch Daniels could easily have said what Perry is saying, just without the religious inferences. Perry is absolutely correct that, when a nation sets its expenditures at one level, and its revenue at a lower level, and then expects something other than a debt crisis, it is living in a fantasy world. But Perry, by suggesting that there is a spiritual component to all of this, as opposed to a basic mathematical (and perhaps moral) flaw, will absolutely lose the war of ideas with the Democrats in the Northern suburbs, where religion is a private, not public, affair, and where Christmas-and-Easter Catholics and Mainline Protestants decide elections.

Note that I am certainly not suggesting that evangelical candidates need not apply for high office. Indeed, my preferred candidate at this point in the race is the evangelical former governor of Minnesota. But Gov. Pawlenty, unlike Gov. Perry, has spent his career communicating with voters who don’t see a Biblical analogy in every turn of events. Pawlenty would know better than to refer to the government as “Pharaoh,” something that makes suburbanites shudder just as much as it causes evangelicals to swoon. And my guess is that if Pawlenty does win the nomination, he will likely discuss his faith via a goopy, feel-good interview with one of the nation’s prominent inclusive evangelical leaders. Perry, on the other hand, is someone I can envision sharing the stage with a man of the cloth of a more fire-and-brimstone variety. Fodder for suburban women this ain’t.

When Gov. Perry’s name was first floated as a potential candidate for president a couple of weeks back, my gut instinct was that whatever strengths the governor brought to the table would be outweighed by his deep red cultural cues, which would be a distraction at best for swing voters in the Rust Belt. Clips like this, twisted by the left-wing chattering class as they may be, confirm my view that Perry would have almost no shot at winning the counties that Republicans will need to win to deny Obama a second term. Rick Perry is an attractive, strong, pro-growth Sun Belt governor with a solid conservative record under his belt. But he simply won’t play in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

  8:31 pm

Santorum to announce Monday.

Via email, Rick Santorum let supporters know he’ll be making an “important announcement regarding 2012″ at the Summerset County courthouse on Monday at 11:00 AM. Santorum plans to “start a new kind of conversation” and not just “bash President Obama [or] offer more of the same in a new rapper.” He plans to focus on faith, freedom, and the courage needed to advocate them, which he argues he can bring to the table. From what I know of the Senator, I expect a speech with plenty of bread and butter so-con talk, and a very healthy dose of American exceptionalism.

The question for Rick is a simple one: can he unite the so-con coalition in Iowa which propelled Mike Huckabee to victory in 2008, with some hawks who may look favorably on his recent work at the Ethics and Public Policy center. Of course, he’ll need an economic policy as well, and here the question is a straightforward one. Will Santorum embrace the free-trade plus austerity orthodoxy of the moment, or strike a more populist tone in order to win over rust-belt voters? With the exit of Trump from the race, Santorum could make a populist play, but will he?

Many people write Rick off because of his 2006 loss, in a horrible year for Republicans during which he was the DSCC’s number 1 target. And, to be sure, it’s an uphill climb for Pennsylvania’s former junior Senator. But, having grown up in Pennsylvania and watched him over-perform expectations many times, I’m not prepared to entirely disregard Rick. He has a natural charisma and an ability to speak plainly, boldly and from deep conviction that may well appeal to a Republican base not sold on it’s front-runners. All that said, Santorum needs a big, successful splash on Monday to move himself up the Republican pecking order; it will be interesting to see if he gets one.

  3:29 pm

May 27, 2011

Yes, It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

Rich Lowry has penned a conventional-wisdom-challenging piece on the Republicans’ transformation into the Party of Austerity:

If political life were fair, (Republicans would) be rewarded for their farsightedness. Medicare’s trustees report that the trust fund that covers hospital stays will go broke in 2024, five years earlier than forecast just last year. But bureaucratic reports about threats more than ten years off don’t hit people where they live, especially not during a recovery that still feels like a recession.

If you are worried about the security of your job, if your personal income is stagnant, if the value of your home is still declining, and if you are paying more for food and fuel, the perilous state of a government program circa 2024 that you know, one way or the other, will never be permitted to go bankrupt is not a subject of proverbial kitchen-table conversation.

The special election in New York’s 26th district served as an early, albeit imperfect, referendum on the Republicans’ new calling card. Democrats made the Republican plan to transition Medicare to a premium-support program the overwhelming issue. It worked. Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute points out that blue-collar independents and Democrats who swung the GOP’s way in 2010 swung against them in that race. The Republican candidate, Jane Corwin, even bled blue-collar Republicans to a bogus “tea party” candidate.

These voters are especially sensitive to economic conditions and especially chary of changes to government programs they will come to depend on. They also are absolutely essential to Republican hopes in 2012.

A couple of observations.

First, as has been discussed previously on this site, Republicans have absolutely lost a handful of blue collar voters between the 2000s and the elections of 2011. We saw this in Wisconsin earlier this year, where Prosser underperformed George W. Bush in key working class counties. This was to be expected. The 2000s were all about national security and culture, issues where blue collar voters tend to agree with the Republicans. The last few years have been about economics. Naturally, there are going to be some blue collar voters from the Bush years who will abandon the GOP on economic issues. But thus far, Republicans have actually experienced a net gain in terms of their share of the electorate in Obama’s America, largely because of white collar suburban voters, who are terrified of Obama-nomics, and who are open to a GOP that is less stridently socially conservative and less prone to foreign adventurism.

Secondly, as I noted last week, the MediScare campaign, while effective, wasn’t the sole reason for the GOP’s loss in NY-26. There are no exit polls from that election, unfortunately, but the pre-election poll that I cited last week mirrors the actual results from Tuesday. In that poll, the number of voters pulling the lever for the Democrat in order to preserve traditional Medicare was fairly equal to the number of voters casting ballots for the Republican in order to stave off the red menace of the debt. What killed the GOP was the fact that only 17 percent of voters who cared most about the jobs issue were voting Republican.

In that sense, Lowry is correct that the GOP essentially has a jobs problem. There is simply no good reason that, in a Republican congressional district, fewer than 1 in 5 voters trust the Republican candidate to do the right thing when it comes to jobs. The lion’s share of the jobs vote went to the anti-free trade Tea Party candidate, because, as Bill Clinton once told his fellow Democrats, bad ideas will always defeat no ideas.

Republicans can’t run away from austerity, nor should they. The GOP nominee, whomever it ends up being, will probably present to the nation an entitlement reform plan that is a bit less bold than that of Paul Ryan, but the issue will still be on the table. But again, the GOP can lose on MediScare as long as it wins on jobs. It’s still the economy, stupid. If Republicans can’t win on the economy in an environment like this, there is something seriously wrong with this party.

  8:26 pm

May 13, 2011

Paul Ryan to Consider Senate Run


In the wake of the surprise announcement that Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., will not run for reelection in 2012, Wisconsin lawmaker Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee, says he will take some time to decide whether to run for the open seat.

“I was surprised by Senator Kohl’s announcement and want to take some time over the next few days to discuss this news with my family and supporters before making any decision about how I’m best able to serve my employers in the First Congressional District, our state and nation,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement Friday afternoon.

I suspect this will be the end of the “Ryan 2012″ chatter, a finale which was inevitable anyway given the likely entry of Mitch Daniels into the race, who mirrors Ryan on the issues. Why Rep. Ryan would give up his prowess in the House to be Wisconsin’s junior senator though is anyone’s guess.

  2:24 pm

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