Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Kevin Bogardus reports at The Hill:
Hillary Clinton’s K Street network is preparing for a White House run in 2016.
With Democrats in Congress already anointing Clinton as the party’s standard-bearer, lobbyists are pledging their allegiance and making clear they will do whatever they can to help the former first lady become first in command.
Many of the lobbyists helped Clinton with her last run for the White House in 2008 and say they are willing and eager to jump back on the train.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” said Steve Elmendorf, president of Elmendorf Ryan, when asked if he would support a Clinton run. “To me, it’s not even a close call. … Among Democrats, there’s no one else as well-positioned to win as her.”
Lobbyists are often crucial players in a candidate’s campaign, offering valuable political advice, strategy and policy expertise. They also serve as donors and bundlers of the cash needed to fund a national campaign.
Lawyers and lobbyists gave more than $18 million in campaign contributions to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Elmendorf is among a number of prominent fundraisers on K Street who could help build a Clinton machine. Tony Podesta, chairman of Podesta Group, is another campaign rainmaker who is expected to support her if she runs.
In addition, a number of lobbyists and consultants have already taken formal positions with the “shadow campaign” that is being waged in Clinton’s name.
In January, Priorities USA Action announced that Jonathan Mantz of BGR Group would become a senior adviser. The super-PAC, which was created for President Obama’s reelection campaign, is retooling in anticipation of a Clinton bid.
Mantz was the national finance director for Clinton’s 2008 campaign. Jay Dunn, a senior managing director for FTI Consulting, was Mantz’s deputy in 2008, and lobbyists consider him a likely Clinton backer in 2016.
Another prominent K Street supporter is former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who is an adviser to the super-PAC Ready for Hillary, which is already on the ground in primary states like Iowa and South Carolina.
“She [Clinton] is perhaps inevitable because of her enormous skills and experience. … Only she can make the decision, and she hasn’t yet. So we will just have to wait and see, but for many of us, she’s the one,” said Tauscher, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department with Clinton.
Tauscher is not a registered lobbyist, but she is a strategic adviser at Baker Donelson
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Texas's most high-profile Tea Party challengers flamed out in Tuesday's primaries, falling far short of their goals to knock off powerful incumbents.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) beat back Rep. Steve Stockman's (R-Texas) quixotic challenge by more than 40 percentage points, while Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) crushed local Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson (R) by a two-to-one margin.
One of their keys to victory — the two influential GOP leaders took their challengers seriously and ran strong campaigns, raised and spent millions and left little ideological room for their challengers to attack them. Cornyn topped $10 million raised and ran hard, bringing in a top ally of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to help run his campaign. Sessions raised and spent $1.5 million for the race.
Cruz, the state's Tea Party hero, stayed neutral in the races and declined to even endorse Cornyn, which frustrated many establishment Republicans.
But both results were as much about weak opponents as impressive incumbents.
Stockman ran one of the most bizarre campaigns in recent memory, announcing his bid against Cornyn just minutes before the filing deadline, raising and spending almost no money and seemingly spending more time tweeting attacks on the senior senator than campaigning in the state. He took a multi-week overseas congressional trip during the short primary season, and made almost no campaign stops around the state.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Obama's poll numbers are still under water, and the budget deal takes two suicide pills out of the GOP's hands: shutdown and default. The GOP is nearly certain to hold its House majority, and quite possibly enlarge it. And as Charles Cook writes in National Journal, prospects for a GOP Senate are brightening.
The Senate’s playing field keeps getting larger and, at least so far, entirely at Democrats’ expense. Three of their seats are, to put it charitably, uphill challenges. The open seats in South Dakota and West Virginia are pretty much gone. In Montana, it’s unclear whether newly appointed Sen. John Walsh is in any better position, apart from fundraising, than he was when he was just the lieutenant governor running for an open seat. Between national party committees and super PACs, the amount of money raised by the candidates and their campaigns means less than ever before. With a handful of people in each party apparently ready to spend $50 million to $100 million of their own money on behalf of their favored candidates, a lot of things that used to be important aren’t so much anymore.
Although it is getting surprisingly little attention, Democrat Carl Levin’s open seat in Michigan is a toss-up; neither of the candidates is particularly strong or well defined, but the natural advantage that a Democrat in the Motor State could be expected to have is likely offset by ugly headwinds caused by radioactive Obama and ACA numbers. The same can be said for Tom Harkin’s open seat in Iowa. In both states, the presumptive Democratic nominees have Obamacare votes to defend, but the highly problematic GOP nomination process in Iowa might well yield an exotic and unelectable contender.
Five Democratic incumbents now face tough races, Arkansas’s Mark Pryor is in the most challenging situation, followed by Kay Hagan (North Carolina), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), and Mark Udall (Colorado). Udall became the latest addition to the list when GOP Rep. Cory Gardner announced his candidacy Saturday. Also worth keeping a close eye on are Al Franken (Minnesota); Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), if former Sen. Scott Brown runs; and Mark Warner (Virginia), who is as strong as a Democrat can be in that state but would be in trouble in the event of a meltdown. When there is a president with numbers this bad, even incumbents who might normally be OK need to be watched carefully, particularly if there is deeply unpopular policy weighing down the party’s candidates.The Washington Post reports:
The Post-ABC survey affirms those projections, showing Republicans in a stronger position than Democrats in the states with Senate races this fall and more than holding their own in the battle for control of the House. In the 34 states with Senate races, 50 percent of voters say they favor Republicans and 42 percent favor Democrats.
That is the case despite the Republican Party’s poor image nationally and its deficit on some important issues. About two in three Americans say the GOP is out of touch “with the concerns of most people in the United States today.”
Monday, March 3, 2014
At The Daily Beast, Lloyd Green has cautionary words for Republicans. The recent Arizona controversy is an example of a "modernity gap." Clinton is doing well in head-to-head poll matchups with Republicans. And...
As for the tech and analytics deficit, the GOP is still playing catch-up. The Republicans have called their in-house campaign tech start-up Para Bellum Labs. But where this venture goes remains an open question. And let’s face it, naming a tech initiative after a pistol used by the Germans in World War II is a tad too retro, and certainly does not augur well for Republican rebranding efforts.
In contrast, Team Clinton has snagged Jim Messina, the tech savvy Obama 2012 campaign manager, and former Deputy White House Chief of Staff. Messina is becoming what Karl Rove was once, and more. For the record, Messina is a partner of Google’s Eric Schmidt, and is also advising British Prime Minister David Cameron, which should tell you how far right Silicon Valley perceives the GOP to be, as well as something about Messina’s own dexterity.
Sasha Issenberg, the politics and tech watcher summed-up the Republicans’ tech predicament this way, “With an eager pool of academic collaborators in political science, behavioral psychology, and economics linking up with curious political operatives and hacks, the left has birthed an unexpected subculture. It now contains a full-fledged electioneering intelligentsia, focused on integrating large-scale survey research with randomized experimental methods to isolate particular populations that can be moved by political contact.” In other words, the art of electioneering is stacked in favor of the Democrats.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Nicholas Confessore writes at The New York Times:
The Republican donors who have financed the party’s vast outside-spending machine are turning against the consultants and political strategists they once lavished with hundreds of millions of dollars.
In recent months, they have begun holding back checks from Republican “super PACs” like American Crossroads, unsatisfied with the groups’ explanations for their failure to unseat President Obama or win back the Senate. Others, less willing than in the past to defer to the party elders and former congressional staff members who control the biggest groups, are demanding a bigger voice in creating strategy in exchange for their continued support.
Donors like Paul Singer, the billionaire Republican investor, have expanded their in-house political shops, building teams of loyal advisers and researchers to guide and coordinate their giving. And some of the biggest contributors to Republican outside groups in 2012 are now gravitating toward the more donor-centric political and philanthropic network overseen by Charles and David Koch, who have wooed them in part by promising more accountability over how money is spent.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
More than 3,500 pages of previously secret Clinton White House documents made public Friday showed that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Some of the confidential memos, notes and other papers released by the National Archives referred to technological advances of the times, such as the 1995 memo that suggested then first lady Hillary Clinton use the Internet to speak to young women because it "has become very popular."
With the potential for politically volatile details in the documents, groups trying to bolster or harm Clinton's possible presidential ambitions made clear they would be having a look.
America Rising, a pro-Republican opposition research shop, told CNN that "we'll be poring through them," with a person on ground in Arkansas for that purpose.
Correct the Record, a pro-Democratic group with deep ties to the Clinton family, also told CNN it would have a team going over the new information.