Politics: 2012

Bachmann Announces Presidential Bid

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June 13, 2011, 4:35 p.m.

Voters in AZ, CO and OK “will de­cide this fall wheth­er to ap­prove pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments that would al­low them to opt out of key pro­vi­sions of” Pres Obama’s sig­na­ture na­tion­al health care law.” All three “ini­ti­at­ives pro­hib­it the gov­ern­ment from for­cing in­di­vidu­als to buy health care in­sur­ance - a “man­date” that crit­ics say vi­ol­ates the” Con­sti­tu­tion “and would al­low pa­tients and em­ploy­ers to pay pro­viders dir­ectly without pen­alty.” The idea “is to pro­tect state res­id­ents from the “takeover of” gov’t health care.

But “Fed­er­al law trumps state law, mean­ing that the meas­ures are cer­tain to be over­turned even if they win 100 per­cent of the vote.”

OK Gov. Brad Henry (D): “No state has the au­thor­ity to se­lect­ively ig­nore fed­er­al laws of its choos­ing, no mat­ter how much some people may dis­like them, and any at­tempt to do so will be ruled un­con­sti­tu­tion­al by the courts” (Richard­son, Wash­ing­ton Times, 10/3).

CALI­FOR­NIA: What, No George Sor­os Dona­tion?

“If re­cre­ation­al marijuana be­comes a big over-the-counter busi­ness in” CA “it likely won’t be be­cause of big dona­tions to a bal­lot meas­ure to leg­al­ize the drug” No one is “pour­ing much money in­to either side of the high-pro­file battle to leg­al­ize pos­ses­sion and cul­tiv­a­tion of lim­ited amounts of pot for adults — not even the thriv­ing med­ic­al marijuana in­dustry, a seem­ingly nat­ur­al base of sup­port for a meas­ure be­ing sold as a way to raise tax rev­en­ue for the cash-strapped state.”

Sup­port­ers have raised $2.1M as of 10/5 and “op­pon­ents had raised just more than” $210K, “much of it from law en­force­ment sources.”

“The tep­id fun­drais­ing” can be blamed “in part on high­er pro­file con­tests” like the CA GOV race that is “draw­ing at­ten­tion and money.” Also “some voters in­clined to op­pose the meas­ure might not give money be­cause they have a hard time ima­gin­ing the status quo could change” (Wohlsen/Leff, AP, 10/6).

COL­OR­ADO: Who’s Next?

IF Den­ver May­or John Hick­en­loop­er (D) wins the CO GOV race, “the dash the re­place him will be­gin” 11/3. The race “so far is un­com­fort­ably un­der­ground” but “half a dozen hope­fuls have been phoning donors and re­cruit­ing vo­lun­teers in an­ti­cip­a­tion of an open seat” but “only one has had the guts to de­clare a can­did­acy,” Den­ver Preschool chief James Mejia.

Mejia: “We know what we want to do. We know what we want to run for. So we figured, let’s get things star­ted.”

Most “would-be” may­ors “are hold­ing back” in case Hick­en­loop­er loses. Coun­cil­man Mi­chael Han­cock: “The of­fice is not va­cant at this point. You want to hon­or the may­or and his job” (Greene, Den­ver Post, 10/7).

HAWAII: She Lingles There

Gov. Linda Lingle (R) “says she will con­sider run­ning” in the ‘12 SEN race against Sen. Daniel Akaka (D). “In the mean­time, Lingle said she will work with the na­tion­al” GOP “to de­feat Hawaii-born” Pres. Obama in ‘12, and also said “she hopes to vo­lun­teer as a read­ing tu­tor, move in­to a Hawaii Kai con­domin­i­um and drive a Nis­sean Leaf elec­tric car” (AP, 10/4).

LOUISI­ANA: Don’t You For­get About Me

If Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) “has irked” the WH by block­ing the nom­in­a­tion of OMB dir­ect­or-ap­pointee Jac­ob Lew, she “likely only stands to gain in an­oth­er corner: her home state.”

“Al­though she isn’t up for reelec­tion” un­til ‘14, Landrieu “has po­si­tioned her­self as someone will­ing to buck her party in the name of homegrown in­terests.” LA “ob­serv­ers” “say Landrieu is simply play­ing smart polit­ics.” Tu­lane Uni. prof. Bri­an Brox: “People ap­pre­ci­ate that she’s go­ing to bat for the eco­nomy of south Louisi­ana. The [Demo­crat­ic] cri­ti­cism that she is stalling the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not really res­on­ate with Louisi­ana voters.”

Landrieu “is do­ing what most sen­at­ors do — play­ing to her home base, es­pe­cially since the stand has been trend­ing stead­ily” GOP. Landrieu “can likely” ex­pect “a reelec­tion chal­lenge if and when she runs again in four years (Rush­ing, The Hill, 10/5).

MAS­SACHU­SETTS: He’s Got Friends In High Places

Sen. Scott Brown (R) “has been hopscotch­ing the coun­try, us­ing his high pro­file to help” GOP­ers “fill their cam­paign cof­fers. But these mis­sions help him with an­oth­er goal: in­tro­du­cing him­self to the GOP elite in key cit­ies across the coun­try and build­ing his own na­tion­al fund-rais­ing net­work for his ex­pec­ted” ‘12 SEN reelec­tion bid.

“By the end of the year, he will have helped raise money in nearly half of the top 20 fund-rais­ing loc­ales in the coun­try. He is also ac­cu­mu­lat­ing polit­ic­al chits that he can cash in next year.”

Bo­ston Col­lege prof. Den­nis Hale: “Giv­en how much de­mand there will be for money in 2012, he def­in­itely needs to ex­pand his donor base to be pre­pared.” Brown’s “fund-rais­ing abil­it­ies could also de­ter would-be chal­lengers.” He has $6.5M CoH, “sig­ni­fic­antly more than any po­ten­tial chal­lengers” (Viser, Bo­ston Globe, 10/4).

MONTANA: Already Test­ing The Wa­ters?

Sen. Jon Test­er (D) “faces re-elec­tion in two years.” Pres. Obama “will be on the bal­lot, and in con­ser­vat­ive” MT “there has been a lot of back­lash to health care re­form and” gov’t spend­ing. Test­er: “Two years is a long, long, long time in polit­ics. I’m go­ing to con­tin­ue to get back to Montana every week­end to talk about is­sues that are im­port­ant and call my own shots like I’ve done.”

GOP­ers “have been ham­mer­ing him for ties to Obama” ad­min. policies. “Many hope” Rep. Denny Re­hberg (R) “will chal­lenge.” Neither Test­er nor Re­hberg “have pub­licly ad­dressed the pos­sib­il­ity, but their ex­changes have grown more heated.” Test­er, “who has star­ted to raise money, said he can’t worry about who will chal­lenge him and that he has plenty of time to cam­paign” (Gour­as, AP, 10/3).

PENNSYLVANIA: Mind If We Pull Up A Chair?

“The battle for con­trol of the” PA House “is on.” GOP­ers “see noth­ing stand­ing in the way of them re­gain­ing the” maj. after 4 years, but Dems “an­ti­cip­ate no scen­ario in which they lose” it. The GOP needs just 3 seats for a ma­jor­ity. Dems are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in hav­ing “a seat at the table next year when the Le­gis­lature” and gov. re­draw cong. dis­trict bound­ar­ies. The GOP is already “vir­tu­ally as­sured… a say in that pro­cess” with a 10-seat maj. in the PA Sen­ate.

PA Dem con­sult­ant Mark Nev­ins: “If Re­pub­lic­ans con­trol all branches of gov­ern­ment in 2011, then they will use re­dis­trict­ing like a polit­ic­al chain­saw and they will carve out any­body they don’t like” (Murphy/An­dren, Har­ris­burg Pat­ri­ot-News, 10/5).

The num­ber of re­gistered voters in both parties in down — 176K for Dems, 120K for GOP­ers — since the ‘08 elec­tion, des­pite nat’l an­ger with pols. Over­all re­gis­tra­tion is down 302K.

Ana­lysts cite one “reas­on for the lack of new voter re­gis­tra­tions: Most people who care at all about polit­ics were already signed up” dur­ing huge voter drives in ‘08.

In Nov. ‘08, PA had 8.75M “re­gistered voters.” As of 9/27/10, the num­ber was 8.45M (In­field, Phil­adelphia In­quirer, 10/4).

VIR­GIN­IA: Fights And Slurs

Ex-Sen. George Al­len (R) “ap­pears to be pre­par­ing” for a ‘12 comeback. Al­len’s ca­reer isn’t dead yet — he’s “held nearly 100 pub­lic events” this year and 20 cam­paign events for VA cong. can­did­ates “this month alone.”

“At a fun­draiser for” a VA “state law­maker last week, Al­len ad­dressed the spec­u­la­tion but said he has no sol­id plans yet” (Con­don, CBS News, 10/7).

Al­len “re­cently huddled with” NR­SC chair John Cornyn “to dis­cuss a pro­spect­ive” re­match with Sen. Jim Webb (R). Al­len has also be­gun “spread­ing cash through” his PAC and has launched a Face­book page (Is­en­stadt/Bres­na­han, Politico, 10/7).

WASH­ING­TON: What Is It Girl? In­cum­bents Are In Trouble?!

The GOP’s con­trol of the WA le­gis­lature “re­mains a long shot … re­quir­ing them to pick up 7 seats in the Sen­ate and 13 in the House.” But even if the Dem maj. doesn’t “crumble,” it’s likely to look dif­fer­ent, with many in­cum­bents fa­cing dif­fi­cult reelec­tion battles.

Dems “could do bet­ter than they did in the primar­ies,” as GOP turnout was likely boos­ted by ‘04/‘08 GOV nom­in­ee Dino Rossi’s (R) bid for the Sen­ate (Schrader, Ta­coma News Tribune, 10/3).

WEST VIR­GIN­IA: Keeps Get­ting Earli­er And Earli­er

State Sen. Clark Barnes (R) an­nounced that he will run for GOV in ‘12.

Barnes “said he hopes to take ad­vant­age of a ‘chan­ging polit­ic­al cli­mate’ to provide great­er op­por­tun­it­ies for” the state. Barnes is a busi­ness-own­er and had planned to run for the Sen­ate this year, but “op­ted out when 10” oth­er GOP­ers filed. He will re­tain con­sult­ing firm Drsen­er, Wick­ers and As­so­ci­ates who worked for ex-AR Gov. Mike Hucka­bee (R) (Char­le­ston Gaz­ette, 10/4).

Treas. John Per­due 10/6 named ex-WV Dem chair Chuck Smith as his mgr for GOV. Smith is “a cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­count­ant” and served as may­or of Mont­gomery (AP, 10/6).

One dis­tinct pos­sib­il­ity in this elec­tion year has al­ways been that a ma­jor in­ter­na­tion­al in­cid­ent, very pos­sibly in the Middle East, could push a close pres­id­en­tial elec­tion de­cis­ively in one dir­ec­tion or the oth­er. An air strike by Is­rael, the United States, or both, against Ir­an to pre­vent it from de­vel­op­ing a nuc­le­ar-weapons cap­ab­il­ity has been the most widely spec­u­lated flash point in the re­gion.

Over the past year, Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have fre­quently talked about Ir­an on the cam­paign trail. More than a few mem­bers of the pro-Is­rael com­munity in the United States see Pres­id­ent Obama as an un­re­li­able ally. They view him as much less sup­port­ive of Is­rael than Pres­id­ent George W. Bush was.

The GOP pres­id­en­tial con­tenders, with the ex­cep­tion of Rep. Ron Paul, at­tacked Obama re­lent­lessly on the sub­ject. Just a few months ago, it seemed en­tirely plaus­ible that Obama could get boxed in­to sup­port­ing such an at­tack on Ir­an wheth­er he wanted to or not.

An in­ter­na­tion­al in­cid­ent, par­tic­u­larly an at­tack in the Middle East, could have a huge, but un­pre­dict­able, ef­fect on the race between Obama and pre­sumptive GOP nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney. The very real pos­sib­il­ity of a clash with Ir­an, the gen­er­al polit­ic­al in­stabil­ity in the re­gion, and tur­moil in Ye­men and the Su­dan, have been ma­jor factors in the in­crease in world­wide oil prices. Thus, the in­ter­na­tion­al polit­ic­al situ­ation has con­trib­uted to the rise of do­mest­ic gas­ol­ine prices over the past year, with ob­vi­ous eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al im­plic­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, top Is­raeli and U.S. in­tel­li­gence and mil­it­ary of­fi­cials agree that Ir­an has sus­pen­ded its nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­gram. They be­lieve that Ir­an un­ques­tion­ably had an act­ive pro­gram but some time ago stopped short of tak­ing ad­vanced steps to cre­ate weapons.

Some well-placed for­eign-policy of­fi­cials of close U.S. al­lies also share this view. In the past two weeks, cur­rent and very re­cent Is­rael in­tel­li­gence and mil­it­ary of­fi­cials have pub­licly made these points.

These of­fi­cials’ state­ments con­trast starkly with those of Is­rael’s polit­ic­al lead­ers, not­ably Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu and De­fense Min­is­ter Ehud Barak, who see Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar cap­ab­il­ity as an im­me­di­ate and ex­ist­en­tial threat to their coun­try.

The grow­ing con­sensus that Ir­an is no longer act­ively de­vel­op­ing nuc­le­ar weapons and that the Per­sian na­tion is fa­cing in­creased eco­nom­ic hard­ship — with an em­bargo slated to be­gin on Ju­ly 1 — has lessened fears of an im­min­ent at­tack on Ir­an.

This is one reas­on, along with rising Saudi and do­mest­ic U.S. oil pro­duc­tion and di­min­ished de­mand, for the re­cent drop in oil prices. The Amer­ic­an Auto­mobile As­so­ci­ation’s latest Daily Fuel Gauge Re­port in­dic­ates that the na­tion­al av­er­age for reg­u­lar-grade gas­ol­ine is $3.81 a gal­lon, 12 cents be­low the $3.93 of a month ago. It is also 13 cents be­low the av­er­age of a year ago.

The per­ceived threat of war is lower, help­ing to bring gas prices down some. We don’t know, though, wheth­er prices will con­tin­ue to drop in the com­ing months or stay re­l­at­ively high un­til Elec­tion Day. The com­bin­a­tion of the fourth-warmest winter on re­cord and his­tor­ic­ally low nat­ur­al-gas prices has sig­ni­fic­antly di­min­ished home-heat­ing costs for many Amer­ic­ans this year, and that has worked to off­set spik­ing gas­ol­ine prices dur­ing the winter months.

So, for now, the threat of ma­jor mil­it­ary ac­tion in the Middle East be­fore Novem­ber 6 is less likely than it was just a few months ago. It’s just un­clear wheth­er the odds have de­clined enough to cre­ate a peace di­vidend in the form of lower oil and gas­ol­ine prices in the next six months.

For­eign-policy in­siders don’t think that Obama will par­ti­cip­ate in, or sup­port, a uni­lat­er­al at­tack on Ir­an un­less he is con­vinced that Ir­an is on the cusp of de­vel­op­ing a nuc­le­ar-weapons cap­ab­il­ity. But they are equally cer­tain that he would act if in­tel­li­gence showed that cap­ab­il­ity is draw­ing near.

The in­siders say that a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to pro­tect Is­rael wouldn’t mo­tiv­ate Obama. The pres­id­ent, they be­lieve, is wor­ried that if Ir­an de­veloped a nuc­le­ar-weapons cap­ab­il­ity, oth­er coun­tries in the re­gion would im­me­di­ately go on the mar­ket to ac­quire their own nuc­le­ar cap­ab­il­it­ies from Pakistan or else­where, trig­ger­ing an arms race on his watch that he would con­sider ab­hor­rent and un­ac­cept­able.

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