Politics: White House

Brennan Takes Us Inside the White House Situation Room During bin Laden Raid

Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
May 2, 2011, 11:04 a.m.

Ex-Ald. Manny Flores on 10/11 an­nounced his “dif­fi­cult de­cision” to skip a run for may­or and in­stead sup­port the can­did­acy of ex-Chica­go School Board pres. Gery Chico.

Flores, chair of the IL Com­merce Com­mis­sion, “said his fam­ily was chief among the per­son­al reas­ons he had for not run­ning.”

“It was a cal­cu­lated risk for Flores to go with Chico” while his ex-ally, Rep. Lu­is Gu­ti­er­rez, “is con­tem­plat­ing a bid.” Flores once de­scribed Gu­ti­er­rez as his polit­ic­al “ment­or.” On 10/11, Flores said he “looked up to Gery as a role mod­el.”

Flores: “Gery shares our val­ues and as­pir­a­tions and is the most qual­i­fied to lead.” After the news con­fer­ence, Flores said the may­or’s race “should not be about the per­son­al­it­ies or one in­di­vidu­al,” say­ing that in­stead “it should be about im­prov­ing schools and the eco­nomy.”

Chico “wel­comed the sup­port” of Flores but said his cam­paign is “not a Latino cam­paign.” Chico: “We have the best mes­sage and the most ex­per­i­ence and we can do the job from day one.”

Later in the day, a num­ber of po­ten­tial can­did­ates joined May­or Richard Da­ley at the Colum­bus Day parade down­town, in­clud­ing Cook Co. Sher­iff Tom Dart, Rep. Danny Dav­is and ex-WH CoS/ex-Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Mack, Chica­go Tribune, 10/11).

De­cision Day Loom­ing

As of 10/11 p.m. “Gu­ti­er­rez was torn over run­ning or stay­ing in Con­gress and lead­ing the fight for im­mig­ra­tion re­form.”

He will an­nounce his de­cision 10/14 when he makes a speech at the Univ. of IL at Chica­go.

Gu­ti­er­rez huddled with sup­port­ers 10/11 in Pilsen be­fore fly­ing to Clev­e­land to help rally voters to sup­port the re-elec­tion of Rep. Mar­cia Fudge (D-OH), just one of many stops Gu­ti­er­rez is mak­ing in oth­er states to help Dems on 11/2.

Na­tion­ally, Gu­ti­er­rez’s high pro­file on im­mig­ra­tion is­sues makes him a sought-after fig­ure by Dems “who need his help in get­ting out the His­pan­ic vote” (Sweet, Chica­go Sun-Times, 10/12).

The Ox­ford Eng­lish Dic­tion­ary defines “whirl­pool” as “a quickly ro­tat­ing mass of wa­ter in a river or sea in­to which ob­jects may be drawn, typ­ic­ally caused by the meet­ing of con­flict­ing cur­rents.” It is also “a tur­bu­lent situ­ation from which it is hard to es­cape.” After three straight wave elec­tions in 2006, 2008, and 2010, strong cross­cur­rents might be an ap­pro­pri­ate way to think about this year’s House races. It’s not ne­ces­sar­ily that voter an­ti­pathy to­ward all things Wash­ing­ton is suck­ing every in­cum­bent in­to a vor­tex; it’s more that this mood is con­cur­rent with a re­dis­trict­ing year. To­geth­er, they could threaten a sea change that could be more gen­er­a­tion­al than par­tis­an.

The Demo­crat­ic Party and con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats are suf­fer­ing from ter­rible na­tion­al fa­vor­ab­il­ity num­bers. The Re­pub­lic­an Party and con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans are see­ing even worse num­bers. At the out­set, the en­vir­on­ment looks to be de­cidedly more neut­ral than in the past three wave cycles. The states have com­pleted ap­prox­im­ately two-thirds of their decen­ni­al re­dis­trict­ing. The remap it­self looks like a par­tis­an wash. But neut­ral doesn’t mean calm. Con­sider the fol­low­ing five de­vel­op­ments — as a cer­tain cast mem­ber of the Jer­sey Shore might say, “We have a situ­ation.”

First, 31 mem­bers of the House (18 Demo­crats and 13 Re­pub­lic­ans) have an­nounced that they are not run­ning for reelec­tion (not count­ing the new va­cancy in Gab­ri­elle Gif­fords’s Ari­zona dis­trict). It’s not quite a mass ex­odus, but, in check­ing our Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port archives, we find that those are the most de­par­tures at this point in the cycle since 1996. For some in­cum­bents, new dis­trict lines present a con­veni­ent time to call it quits; for oth­ers, Con­gress’s dys­func­tion is the mo­tiv­at­or. As re­tir­ing Rep. Jerry Cos­tello, D-Ill., re­cently told The New York Times, “The fact is, I could stay and col­lect a paycheck. But “¦ in Con­gress, very little is get­ting done these days, and I don’t see that chan­ging in the near fu­ture.” As more fil­ing dead­lines ap­proach, could an­oth­er 10 or 15 mem­bers join their ranks? Sure.

Second, at least a dozen mem­bers seek­ing reelec­tion won’t be re­turn­ing. That’s be­cause 24 mem­bers are run­ning against each oth­er, thanks to the con­sol­id­a­tion of seats from re­dis­trict­ing. Sev­en of these races fea­ture two Demo­crats; three fea­ture two Re­pub­lic­ans; and two fea­ture a mem­ber from each party.

Third, the byproducts of all these re­tire­ments and “double-bunked” in­cum­bents are 47 dis­tricts with no in­cum­bent at all. Of these, 19 can best be clas­si­fied as newly cre­ated seats, in­clud­ing four in Cali­for­nia, two in Ari­zona, and six yet-to-be-drawn dis­tricts in Texas and Flor­ida. It’s likely that about a third of the “new” seats will be solidly Demo­crat­ic; a third solidly Re­pub­lic­an; and the re­mainder very com­pet­it­ive. However, re­tir­ing Demo­crats are leav­ing be­hind ap­prox­im­ately six vul­ner­able seats, com­pared with just one for the Re­pub­lic­ans. This means that the real num­ber of in­cum­bent seats that Demo­crats need to net to re­gain the House is closer to 30 than to 25.

Fourth, nearly 40 mem­bers face ser­i­ous elect­or­al prob­lems. For some, like Rep. Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., it’s largely ideo­lo­gic­al. For oth­ers, like Reps. Paul Gos­ar, R-Ar­iz., and Tim Hold­en, D-Pa., it’s mainly geo­graph­ic­al or re­dis­trict­ing-re­lated. Oth­er chal­lenges are gen­er­a­tion­al or the res­ult of self-cre­ated prob­lems (see the prob­lems fa­cing Rep. Dan Bur­ton, R-Ind.). In 1992, an­oth­er tur­bu­lent re­dis­trict­ing cycle, 19 mem­bers lost primar­ies, a res­ult of both re­dis­trict­ing and the House bank scan­dal. Al­though this year’s num­ber is un­likely to be that high, in­cum­bents would be well-ad­vised to heed cau­tion.

Fifth, and most crit­ic­al to Demo­crats’ chances of boun­cing back in the House, The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port cur­rently rates 36 in­cum­bents (25 Re­pub­lic­ans and 11 Demo­crats) as vul­ner­able in their gen­er­al elec­tions. If you’re a Demo­crat on this list who sur­vived the 2010 GOP wave, your prob­lems are more likely re­dis­trict­ing-re­lated than any­thing else. This cat­egory ap­plies to three in­cum­bents from North Car­o­lina — Mike McIntyre, Larry Kissell, and Heath Shuler — and one from Geor­gia, John Bar­row. But Re­pub­lic­ans on this list can’t count on the 2010 wave to win reelec­tion. Among in­de­pend­ent voters, the wave has re­ceded. Vul­ner­able Re­pub­lic­ans in­clude Reps. Dan Lun­gren of Cali­for­nia, Joe Heck of Nevada, and Charlie Bass of New Hamp­shire — and this list could grow as more in­triguing re­cruits on the Demo­crat­ic side hit the trail.

What does it all add up to?

His­tor­ic­ally, it may be in­struct­ive to look at the last two times a pres­id­ent ran for reelec­tion while his party was in the House minor­ity. In 1992, George H.W. Bush lost reelec­tion. Non­ethe­less, his party picked up nine seats but not enough to win a ma­jor­ity. In 1996, Pres­id­ent Clin­ton won reelec­tion. House Demo­crats also gained nine seats. This was about half of what they needed for a ma­jor­ity. Dif­fer­ent White House res­ults, but the same House out­come.

An­oth­er way of siz­ing up this race is to think about the 2000 and 2004 elec­tions when, in terms of pres­id­en­tial vot­ing, in­de­pend­ent voters pretty much split down the middle and little happened to al­ter the House lineup. In 2000, George W. Bush edged Al Gore by 2 points among in­de­pend­ents, 47 per­cent to 45 per­cent. On the same day, prac­tic­ally noth­ing happened in the House, with Demo­crats pick­ing up two seats. In 2004, John Kerry de­feated George W. Bush by a single point among in­de­pend­ents, 49 to 48 per­cent, with little House turnover: Re­pub­lic­ans picked up three seats. Con­trast that with 2008, when Obama beat John Mc­Cain by 8 points among in­de­pend­ents, 52 per­cent to 44 per­cent, with Demo­crats gain­ing 21 House seats in that elec­tion. That was on top of the 31 seats that Demo­crats had gained two years earli­er.

This his­tory sug­gests that in­de­pend­ents can serve as a tip­ping point when they start mov­ing de­cis­ively in one dir­ec­tion in the pres­id­en­tial race. Al­though we don’t yet know wheth­er Obama will win reelec­tion, the House looks headed for a makeover. At the mo­ment, Demo­crats also look headed for either the 1992 or the 1996 scen­ario: a small “bounce back.”

What We're Following See More »
Charles Manson Dead
3 hours ago

Manson "died Sunday of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83. ...Manson served nine life terms in California prisons and was denied parole 12 times."

Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
11 hours ago

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
13 hours ago

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
13 hours ago

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
2 days ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.