Reid: Tea Party Cheering for Government Shutdown

Add to Briefcase
April 7, 2011, 8:36 a.m.

Ex-As­semb. Shar­ron Angle’s (R) $14M haul in the third quarter is jaw drop­ping. It is by far the most we’ve seen raised by a GOP Sen­ate chal­lenger so far, and it means that Angle will be able to blunt Sen­ate Maj. Lead­er Harry Re­id’s (D) sig­ni­fic­ant CoH ad­vant­age. At the end of the second quarter, Re­id had $8M in his bank ac­count to Angle’s $1.76M (Hot­line re­port­ing, 10/12).

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Re­id spokes­per­son Kelly Steele, in a state­ment: “Shar­ron Angle’s fun­drais­ing num­ber is mean­ing­less without dis­clos­ing how much they spent to raise it. In fact, Angle’s shady fun­draisers are re­puted for cook­ing the books and flee­cing their cli­ents, so any num­ber Angle may as­sert to gen­er­ate me­dia buzz is highly sus­pect” (re­lease, 10/12).

It “wasn’t clear” on 10/12 “how much of the im­press­ive haul ended up fat­ten­ing her cam­paign’s bot­tom line.”

“The steady flow of money in­to the chal­lenger’s wal­let is a sig­nal” that GOP­ers “around the na­tion see Angle as a vi­able threat to Re­id” (Blood, AP, 10/12).

Las Ve­gas Sun’s Ral­ston writes, an “in­cred­ible 161,358 people sent her checks of $200 or less. Her av­er­age dona­tion is $90,” ac­cord­ing to Angle spokes­per­son Jar­rod Agen.

“This is real… grass roots. And there is a wild­fire blaz­ing through the grass roots, with burn­ing hatred for Re­id an­im­at­ing Angle’s chances.”

“Of those small con­trib­ut­ors, my guess is only a hand­ful of the 161,358 people know much about Angle. They have no idea about her re­li­gious fer­vor, fail to sep­ar­ate her church (which ap­par­ently doesn’t like Mor­mons) from our state, or her mul­ti­far­i­ous po­s­i­tions on So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care, her sym­pathy for ‘Second Amend­ment rem­ed­ies’ or her latest in­cen­di­ary com­ments” about Dear­born, MI, and nonex­ist­ent Frank­ford, TX, “im­ply­ing ‘the Muslims are com­ing, the Muslims are com­ing.’”

“But they don’t need to know much” about Angle. “They know enough” about Re­id (10/13).

Bill Clin­ton “blamed” George W. Bush “for put­ting the na­tion in a deep hole and urged” Dems on 10/12 to give Re­id “more time to patch up the eco­nomy.”

Clin­ton, at the rally: “You and I know the only reas­on this is a tough race is be­cause this is a tough time.”

Re­id: “The num­ber one is­sue on my mind, your mind, is the eco­nomy. … We all wish things were bet­ter.”

Clin­ton: “If you care about jobs, you have to vote for Harry Re­id.”

Clin­ton “said he,” not GOP­ers, “prac­ticed fisc­al con­ser­vat­ism and bal­anced the fed­er­al budget.”

Clin­ton: “I al­most gag every time I hear them talk about, ‘I want to bal­ance the budget.’ … They didn’t give a rip about the de­fi­cit un­til we had a Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent” (Silva, AP, 10/13).

Angle’s cam­paign on 10/12 “at­temp­ted to down­play her re­cent com­ments sug­gest­ing that sharia law is tak­ing hold” in two US cit­ies.

Agen, in an email: “She was ref­er­en­cing some in­cid­ents re­por­ted in the press, but made it clear there was noth­ing wide­spread and that we have free­dom of re­li­gion in this na­tion.”

Agen “said Angle wasn’t spe­cific­ally at­tack­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, but re­fer­ring to press re­ports, al­though he did not spe­cify which ones.”

Dear­born May­or Jack O’Re­illy: “This is the most ab­surd, in­ane an­swer I’ve ever heard. And she was led by the ques­tion­er, but should have been ma­ture enough to say I don’t think that’s hap­pen­ing. … Muslims have been in Dear­born, there has been a mosque in Dear­born for 90 years. So the no­tion that there’s this new phe­nomen­on and Muslims are tak­ing over Amer­ica is cer­tainly not sub­stan­ti­ated in this com­munity.”

Frank­ford “was an­nexed in­to Dal­las” in ‘75.

Ad­vocacy group Coun­cil on Amer­ic­an-Is­lam­ic Re­la­tions spokes­per­son Ibrahim Hoop­er called Angle’s com­ments “an ex­ample of in­co­her­ent bigotry.”

Hoop­er: “It is pretty clear that she has something against Is­lam and Muslims but she is so in­co­her­ent you don’t know what she stands for” (Khan, ABC News’ The Note, 10/12).

Dem con­sult­ant/Muslim res­id­ent of Dear­born Tarek Bey­doun “is per­son­ally pay­ing for a rob­ocall to tell” NV voters “that Angle is wrong about Dear­born and Muslim-Amer­ic­ans” (Wat­trick,, 10/12).

“It seems hav­ing a po­lar­iz­ing, high-pro­file” Dem “as their top tar­get would unite” NV GOP­ers. “In­stead the state GOP finds it­self en­gaged in in­terne­cine at­tacks over the can­did­acy” of Re­id.

“The in­tra­party feud­ing peaked last week” with state Sen. Bill Rag­gio (R) en­dors­ing Re­id.

Dems, “to be sure, have had their own share of in­fight­ing.” But the GOP “civil war un­der­scores what the party lacks” and Dems have: “an un­dis­puted head of their party, such as Re­id, who can im­pose or­der” (Schwartz, Las Ve­gas Sun, 10/13).

The polit­ic­al en­vir­on­ment in 2006 was al­most uniquely well-suited for the Demo­crats who kicked out in­cum­bent Re­pub­lic­ans from the Sen­ate. Now, as they pre­pare reelec­tion bids at a time when every­one in Wash­ing­ton is more un­pop­u­lar than ever, those same Demo­crats are on the front line of the dif­fi­cult battle to re­tain a slim ma­jor­ity.

A year be­fore the 2012 elec­tions, Demo­crats face a rare situ­ation as a ma­jor­ity that starts an elec­tion year as the un­der­dog. Demo­crat­ic hopes of keep­ing the Sen­ate are daunt­ingly nar­row. Thanks in part to the party’s suc­cess in 2006, they are de­fend­ing twice as many seats as Re­pub­lic­ans; thanks to a lousy eco­nomy and a furi­ous elect­or­ate, those seats are tough­er to de­fend. And swing-state Demo­crats who care­fully cul­tiv­ate their in­de­pend­ent brand have a vir­tu­al run­ning mate they didn’t an­ti­cip­ate — Pres­id­ent Obama, who faces his own dif­fi­cult reelec­tion path.

Re­pub­lic­ans, who need a net gain of four seats to win back con­trol of the Sen­ate, plan to spend mil­lions link­ing vul­ner­able Demo­crats to Obama and his policies. In must-win states for Demo­crats — Montana, Mis­souri, Vir­gin­ia, Ohio, and Flor­ida — Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing is low enough to drag down Demo­crat­ic per­form­ance.

“Pres­id­ent Obama and his policies are the is­sue,” said Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee Chair­man John Cornyn of Texas. “Ul­ti­mately, what we’re go­ing to see is a ref­er­en­dum on the pres­id­ent and his policies. They can’t run from the fact that they have been in charge, par­tic­u­larly in the Sen­ate.

“We’ve seen this already mani­fest it­self when it comes to the pres­id­ent trav­el­ing to vari­ous states, where Demo­crat­ic of­fice­hold­ers and can­did­ates are nowhere to be found, be­cause they real­ize the neg­at­ive as­so­ci­ation with the pres­id­ent and his policies. The fact of the mat­ter is, they’re not go­ing to be able to es­cape it,” Cornyn said.

In­deed, Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates face un­com­fort­able ques­tions any time Obama stops in their home states. Dur­ing a re­cent vis­it to Vir­gin­ia, for ex­ample, Obama did not ap­pear with former Gov. Tim Kaine — a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for Sen­ate — but Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell was all too happy to join Obama at a vet­er­ans event. (Kaine, the former Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee chair­man, wasn’t in­vited to the of­fi­cial event, but he’s likely to ap­pear with Obama when the pres­id­ent cam­paigns in the Old Domin­ion over the next year.) Pennsylvania Demo­crat­ic Sen. Bob Ca­sey‘s cam­paign made a pub­lic point of re­mov­ing him from Obama’s list of cam­paign bund­lers. And Re­pub­lic­ans made hay when Rep. Shel­ley Berkley, D-Nev., didn’t both­er chan­ging her flight so that she could meet Obama in Las Ve­gas last month.

But the real­ity is that the pho­tos of a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate and Obama em­bra­cing prob­ably ex­ist some­where. Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill, D-Mo., a ma­jor Obama back­er in 2008 who is fiercely pro­tect­ive of her in­de­pend­ent im­age, re­cog­nizes that real­ity and is tak­ing ad­vant­age of it: This week, she told a home-state news­pa­per she would ask the pres­id­ent to raise money for her reelec­tion.

“I don’t al­ways agree with the pres­id­ent,” Mc­Caskill told the St. Louis Beacon. “He’ll be the first to tell you that. But I sup­port the pres­id­ent.”

Sep­ar­at­ing one­self from a pres­id­ent is a touchy task for any in­cum­bent. Get­ting dis­tance on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue can work — think West Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat­ic Sen. Joe Manchin’s ef­forts in 2010 to make clear his op­pos­i­tion to cap-and-trade le­gis­la­tion. But do it too much and a can­did­ate risks ali­en­at­ing the base — something that can mat­ter in a close con­test.

“You all hang to­geth­er or you all hang sep­ar­ately,” is how Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Mark Mell­man put it.

Re­pub­lic­ans find them­selves on fer­tile soil when ty­ing Demo­crats to an un­pop­u­lar pres­id­ent in their quest for just four seats. North Dakota, Mis­souri, Neb­raska — where Sen. Ben Nel­son has yet to com­mit to reelec­tion — and Montana — where Sen. Jon Test­er is run­ning neck-and-neck with GOP Rep. Denny Re­hberg — are likely to vote for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee. Demo­crat­ic open seats in pres­id­en­tial battle­grounds like Wis­con­sin, Vir­gin­ia, and New Mex­ico are in­vit­ing tar­gets for the NR­SC. And even in states in which Re­pub­lic­ans will have a more dif­fi­cult time knock­ing off Demo­crats, like Flor­ida, Michigan, and Ohio, Obama won’t cruise to vic­tory, giv­ing the GOP three more, al­beit nar­row, open­ings.

Demo­crats are con­fid­ent they can hold the Sen­ate. Sen. Chuck Schu­mer of New York said last month it would be “al­most im­possible” for Re­pub­lic­ans to win enough seats to take over. “The facts on the ground are a little dif­fer­ent than what’s re­flec­ted in [Cornyn’s] talk­ing points,” ad­ded Matt Canter, Demo­crat­ic Sen­at­ori­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee spokes­man. “Each of these races will be a choice between a Demo­crat and a Re­pub­lic­an.”

Demo­crats ac­tu­ally have a few op­por­tun­it­ies. Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Scott Brown of Mas­sachu­setts and Dean Heller of Nevada are each ex­pect­ing dif­fi­cult reelec­tion bids. Brown’s chief rival, Demo­crat Eliza­beth War­ren, raised $3.15 mil­lion in just a few weeks on the trail, and Heller’s foe, Berkley, is run­ning even with him in both pub­lic and private polling. (Demo­crats be­lieve they have a shot in Ari­zona, too, but only if they get the right can­did­ate.)

“If we’re play­ing of­fense, like we are today, from now un­til Elec­tion Day, we’re go­ing to hold the Sen­ate,” the DSCC’s Canter said.

But the theme is the same: In­cum­bents are in trouble. If the last three tu­mul­tu­ous elec­tion cycles made one thing clear, it’s that in­cum­bency has lost its ad­vant­age and that life is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for any­one who holds of­fice.

“People are very neg­at­ive on Wash­ing­ton and of course any­thing that em­an­ates from Wash­ing­ton, it seems like,” Cornyn said. A year out, like in 2006, that’s a good thing for the minor­ity party.


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.