A roundup of political news less than two weeks from the midterm elections.
1. Kentucky Fried Political Suicide-Jack Conway decided to lose the Kentucky Senate Race with a bang not a whimper. His video resurrects a college prank pulled by Rand Paul almost three decades ago and attempts to use it to brand Paul an apostate from Christianity. I have seen lots of ludicrous attack ads over the years but this one takes the case. And the woman who was tied up in the prank? Here is her take:
The woman — who was made available to me for an interview by GQ reporter Jason Zengerle in response to the Paul campaign’s denunciations of his article — said she didn’t mean to imply that she was kidnapped “in a legal sense.”
The woman said that much of the subsequent coverage of her allegations missed a key nuance: As a participant in a college ritual, where lines between acquiescence and victimization are often blurry, she was largely playing along with the notion that she was being forced to follow Paul’s orders.
By all accounts the ad is backfiring big time on Conway and will probably ensure a double digit Paul victory. Most voters understand that college students are young and often immature, at least I was, and can act in fairly foolish ways at times as a result. Besides, attempting to turn this into an attack on Paul’s religious faith is misplaced. I am as confident as I can be that when Paul was tying up the coed the last thing on his mind was religion.
2. Ohio Fried Political Suicide-Steve Driehaus is the Democrat Congressman for Ohio 1. He doesn’t want you to see the ad above. He is desperate because he trails his opponent Steve Chabot by double digits according to a recent poll. He is one of the incumbent Democrat Congressmen who have been cast adrift by the Democrat party because their re-election races appear hopeless. He is also one of the “pro-life” Democrat Congressman who voted for ObamaCare. The Susan B. Anthony List paid for a billboard to remind the constituents of Driehaus that ObamaCare allows for public funding of abortions. Driehaus complained to the Ohio Election Commission, claiming that the ad is misleading. A hearing is scheduled for the end of October. The attorneys for Driehaus strong armed the owner of the billboard not to allow the ad until the Commission has issued a ruling. The President of the Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser has stated in regard to Driehaus and his lack of familiarity with the first amendment:
The Ohio Elections Commission has allowed Steve Driehaus to achieve his strategic objective of preventing constituents from learning the truth about his vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion in the health care reform bill. We are disappointed and surprised that the complaint was not immediately dismissed. The fact that the health care reform bill allows for taxpayer funding of abortion has been agreed upon by every major pro-life group in the country, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Focus on the Family, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The larger problem here is a public official’s attempt to use a criminal statue to silence legitimate debate on his record. The proper place for public policy debate is in the public square, not in an Elections Commission or criminal court. The SBA List will see this process through to the end and vigorously defend our position that the health care reform bill, supported by Steve Driehaus, allows for taxpayer funding of abortion. Moreover, we will use every vehicle possible within our First Amendment rights to communicate this message to the people of Congressman Steve Driehaus’ district between now and the hearing.
Of course by attempting to suppress the billboard, Driehaus has ensured that it has been seen by far more people over the internet and in newspaper and television stories than would have ever seen the billboard. Brilliant. Desperate and stupid is a poor combination in politics.
3. This is C-Span and not Divorce Court-Todd Seavey, a libertarian, decided that a C-Span panel was an excellent time to go after Helen Rittelmeyer, a Catholic Conservative, who had broken up with him after a romantic relationship. Rittelmeyer handled herself with aplomb under the onslaught and Seavey behaved like a Triple A Grade Jerk.
Todd Seavey blindsided everyone, especially ex-girlfriend Helen Rittelmeyer, when he ripped into her during a panel discussion on C-SPAN2. But no surprise, really: The blogger has been living out loud — the good, the bad, the breakups — for years.
The 40-something libertarian posted a super-exacting personal ad on his blog in 2007 (“Is your IQ, if it has been tested, significantly above average?”) A year later, he announced to readers that Rittelmeyer was his new girlfriend: “Obscenely young, wise-beyond-her-years, conservative, blogging, Catholic, New Wave-loving, monster-movie-viewing, Southern-extracted, Yale-educated, technically-libertarian person.” They bickered, broke up and reconciled — all chronicled on his blog. (The postings have disappeared from his site, but live forever via Google cache.) The two finally called it quits about a month ago.
National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg invited Seavey and Rittelmeyer to speak on the panel because they both contributed essays to “Proud to Be Right,” his new book on young conservatives. Goldberg knew the couple had recently split, but believed they were still friendly — until Seavey unleashed on his ex about 40 minutes into the taping.
Ah, politics, bedfellows, and I’ll let you fill in the rest.
4. All of our firetrucks are out and the firestation is on fire!-In every election each party has a few seats held by incumbents in Congress that are in trouble. Usually the parties rush substantial resources to those seats and frequently save them. That is one reason why Congress usually has a 90% re-election rate in the House. The Democrats this year are facing an unprecedented problem with 75-100 of their seats in the House in tight races.
In the congressional district that’s home to the Kennedy family compound, a Kennedy public skating rink and a Kennedy museum, the heart of liberalism is beating uneasily.
Republican Jeff Perry is making a serious bid to take over a seat held by Democrats for nearly 40 years — and it’s just one of nearly 100 seats across the country that now appear under at least some threat of slipping away from the majority party and giving control of the U.S. House to the GOP.
At least 75 House seats — the vast majority held by Democrats — are at serious risk of changing hands, and roughly 25 more where Democrats were assumed to have the upper hand have tightened in recent weeks, raising the possibility that some could flip to the Republicans as well.
Fire brigades are only useful up to a point. Too many fires and the ability to respond is overwhelmed, and that is precisely what is happening to the Democrats this election cycle.
5. Electoral Triage- As a result of the number of their House seats being challenged, the Democrats nationally are pulling out of the races of 12 incumbents where they consider the races to be hopeless:
The party is abandoning 12 House races in the upcoming November midterm elections and placing their chips on candidates they feel have a better shot at winning, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
While hedging bets is normal in the final weeks leading up to the election, Democrats are nervous about the Republicans’ widening influence, especially in traditionally safe states like Massachusetts.
An NPR poll released on Friday indicates that the Democrats could be in trouble. The survey revealed that in 58 Democrat-held “battleground districts”, 47% said they’d vote for a Republican for Congress, while just 44% said they’d vote for a Democrat.
When any political party begins abandoning races on this scale, it is a clear sign of coming electoral defeat.
6. The Polls-The polls are basically unchanged from last week. On the Real Clear Politics average of generic ballot Congressional polls, the Republicans enjoy a 6.9% lead. Normally there is tightening at the end in polls in most elections, but I have yet to see it in this one.
7. Small Donors Back Tea Party- Tea Party backed GOP Senate candidates are awash in donations from small donors:
An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that some of the highest-profile Tea Party-supported candidates have collected significant sums of money from individuals contributing $200 or less, the Federal Election Commission’s threshold for itemized disclosure in campaign finance reports. These donors rarely account for more than 20 percent of a Senate candidate’s total fund-raising sums.
Sharron Angle, who emerged after a contentious primary as the Republican nominee against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has raised more than $2.05 million through June 30 from individuals giving $200 or less. At that time — the date of most recent campaign finance reports — these funds accounted for 58 percent of her war chest.
In Kentucky, Rand Paul, son of failed 2008 Republican presidential candidate and 11-term Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), reported $1.6 million in contributions from small donors as of June 30, the date of his most recent campaign finance reports. This represents about 46 percent of his overall total. Paul bested Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the handpicked candidate of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in a May primary.
Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio has raised a staggering $4.6 million from individuals giving $200 or less — or about 36 percent of his war chest — as of Aug. 4, the date of his most recent campaign finance filings. Support from these donors helped Rubio gain momentum and push Gov. Charlie Crist out of the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Now, Crist continues to run for the seat as an independent, and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) is running as the choice of the Democratic Party.
Cash is always welcome in politics, but even more important is the sign of enthusiasm. A lot of people of modest resources sending money to a candidate is almost always a sign of public enthusiasm for a candidate, or a group of candidates, and is another sign that this is an anti-Democrat wave election.
8. The VFW endorsed who!?!-The Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW, was founded by veterans returning from the Spanish American War, who wished to distinguish themselves from the veteran groups set up by Union and Confederate veterans. Along with the American Legion, set up by veterans after World War I, the VFW has remained one of the two largest veterans’ groups. Most veterans tend to be politically conservative, and therefore VFW members around the nation reacted with fury when they learned that a political action committee of the VFW had endorsed many left-wing Democrats around the nation, including the odious Senator Barbara Boxer. The VFW has now dissolved the political action committee.
9. Live blogging election night- I will be live-blogging the election here at TAC on election night on November 2 beginning at 6:00 PM Central Standard Time. I hope commenters, contributors and readers will stop by to share observations, information, humor and insights on what should be a historic election.
Update: I am pleased to say that the thread to this post has entered the TAC Hall of Fame. The official TAC Hall of Fame cockatiel has sung the fanfare, and the thread will be preserved for posterity.