The stage has pretty much been set for what issues both liberals and conservatives want to talk about in 2014.
Conservatives obviously want to talk about Obamacare. A lot. Jobs will also be a top issue once again.
Liberals want to talk about "Equal Pay" and the minimum wage and more and more and more and more government. But mostly they want to set conservatives up to either say something stupid or say something that can in some way be made to be stupid.
Earlier today, the main group "urging" a Hillary for President campaign - and offering up creepy bumper stickers and apparel - noted they raised $1.7M in the first 3 months of 2014. The group has raised less than $6M since their launch roughly a year ago. That's not really great for a candidate dominating her primary opoonents and leading most of the Republicans. Which brings us to....
Ben Carson. He's never been a US Senator, Congressman, or Governor like most US Presidents in recent history. He's never even tried for elective office, and so the US Presidency seems like a bit of a stretch. Yet Dr. Ben Carson is quietly building a formidable support base that could yield results in 2016. In fact, a group supporting his efforts raised an impressive $3M-ish in just 6 months last year, putting the Carson draft neck-and-neck with the ready for Hillary crowd.
It's one thing to talk about Obamacare.
It's another thing to actually navigate it in a real life situation. I was forced to do that last night, and the failure that is Obamacare lived up to the hype. And the word affordable? Affordable to whom? At the end of the day, there was not a sign-up... but it doesn't mean we weren't counted as an enrollee.
It looks like it's going to be another tea party vs establishment battle in a Minnesota Republican primary. This time, businessman Mike McFadden is getting the support of the establishment and has been deemed the "electable" candidate by many party insiders. This is based, I guess, on his ability to raise money, which he has done. It isn't based on his ability to get Republican grassroots excited as he has not really run a campaign for them. McFadden could be a great conservative, but he has never run for political office and few really know anything about him. What does he really believe? How courageous is he? Is he even willing to take strong positions, or does that come after he secures the nomination? Can he even win an election as a first time candidate? While we get that the GOP would be attracted to a candidate who has raised a bit of many - and yes, that is very important - is it any wonder why conservatives are skeptical of the process and the picks the establishment churns out, usually to no greater result (and often, worse) than what the grassroots go for?
On the other hand, Julianne Ortman is the main alternative to McFadden and will likely be the "conservative alternative." There isn't really anything that would make Ortman not worthy of being supported by the establishment. She has a political record that Republicans could get behind, though couldn't be pigeon-holed as a "tea party extremist" by any measure, which is the establishment's main concern. She has a decent electoral history, including high-ranking positions in the State Senate. She also performs better than McFadden in polls against Franken despite being in the race for a shorter amount of time and having spent far less money.
More Reading: 2014 US Senate Race in Minnesota
In the upcoming 2014 Senate elections, South Dakota is a state that the GOP and most pundits have penciled in as a Republican pickup. But the same was also true in the early stages of the 2012 campaign for the US Senate seat in North Dakota that the GOP was supposed to win. (No, a "crazy tea party" candidate was not to blame for this should-have-won seat, but if they were we would never hear the end of it. Since it was an establishment pick: crickets.) In fact, the two states are eerily similar and, as such, Republicans need to not take any of these races lightly. Look how the two compare:
+ Romney won SD by 18 points and ND by 19 points in 2012. In 2008, Obama lost both states by an identical 8 points to McCain. Despite this margin of victory, the new Democratic Senate candidate won against the Republican.
+ Democrats Kent Conrad (ND) and Tim Johnson (SD) both enjoyed blowout victories before their votes for Obamacare. After voting for Obamacare, both opted to retire rather than face the voters. Their replacements faced - or will face - better-funded and more well-known Republican establishment approved challengers.
+ The other US Senate Seats went big-time Republican. In South Dakota, the Democrats did not even bother to challenge John Thune in 2010, and he won by default. In North Dakota that same year, former Governor John Hoeven won with over 70% of the vote in a seat vacated by another scared Democrat. The big ND win in 2012 gave GOP confidence in 2012 they would win the other Senate race in 2012 in what was an almost identical situation. They did not.
+ Both Republicans for 2012 ND and 2014 SD were strong in polling. For most of the 2012 campaign, Republican nominee Rick Berg had dominated the polling. He led the final three pre-election polls by an average of 6 points, and by as much as 10. Currently, Mike Rounds has double digit leads against an under-funded challenger.
Though the similarities are there, two key elements "should" prevent a repeat of 2012. First, Obamacare has returned to the front of the national debate. This had disappeared, by design, during the 2012 election. Second, it is a mid-term election and Republicans typically enjoy higher turnout in such elections. But still, Republicans should not take lightly any race in 2014.
- 2010 Marco Rubio turns the lead upside down and takes 30+ point leads over Crist; Crist becomes an Independent and loses General election
- 2011 Charlie Crist becomes "No Labels"
- 2012 Charlie Crist becomes Democrat and speaks at Democratic Convention
- 2013 Charlie Crist gets Democrats blessing and runs for Governor; Leads Nan Rich by 30+ Points in Primary
TO BE CONTINUED
The Democratic primary isn't until August, and Crist leads former FL Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich by roughly 40 points. And Crist now is facing the same problems he did against Rubio back when he was a Republican. Will Democrats trust Crist to be a faithful liberal, or will they give a look toward the long-time Democrat? Christ's positioning against Scott isn't even all the great, especially given how mediocre Scott's popularity is. Crist has name recognition, but is it good name recognition? Certainly, this wouldn't be crazy for Rich to upend Crist. Also in 2010, Arlen Specter bailed the Republican Party when he realized he was going to lose to Pat Toomey. He merely ended up losing in the Democratic primary anyway.
Preview: 2014 Florida Gubernatorial Race
Update: Not related, but this race also reminds us that Jason Carter is hoping to ride Grandpa Jimmy's last name all the way to the Governor's mansion. We could have a Nunn/Perdue/Carter threefer on the 2014 ballot. I guess that's exciting? If only we could find a Kennedy to throw in the mix.
Update 2: Maybe this is why the tea party is so despised? It seems like the preferred political establishment way is to recycle candidates and candidate off-spring. Names help. George P. Bush just took a big step in Texas politics as a result.
"Michelle Nunn is the hand-picked favorite to win the Democratic primary - a pick based almost solely on her last name, it would seem. Nunn is the daughter of the former long-time US Senator Sam Nunn, a popular figure in state politics. It has been almost two decades since his retirement, so it remains to be seen if his name still holds as much value as it once did. This moment has seemingly been long in the making. Immediately out of college, she began working for a non-profit volunteerism organization (community organizer!) where she is now CEO. She married in 2001 but kept the Nunn name because, let's be honest, a "Michelle Martin" would not be a US Senate candidate in 2014. Nunn gives her instant name recognition and, so it would seem, credibility to be a US Senator."