Despite Republican pessimism over a flawed nominee in this Tuesday’s closely-watched FL-13 special election between Alex Sink (D) and David Jolly (R), all indications are Tuesday’s bellwether contest should be a nailbiter.
— As of Sunday, Republicans hold a four-point (4,623 vote) lead over Democrats among early voters, which should comprise a majority of the electorate. The early GOP vote edge is smaller than the party’s advantages before the 2010 and 2012 FL-GOV and presidential elections, where Democrats prevailed within the district. But Republicans are expecting strong Election Day turnout, while hoping to capitalize on disaffection among independents and even some Democrats, too.
— The contest is proving to be a crucial test of whether Democrats can defend themselves from attacks over Obamacare and the president’s policies. FL-13 is one of the oldest CDs in the country, filled with plenty of seniors disaffected with the president. (Obama narrowly won with 50% in 2012.) A Sink victory would show that despite the tough environment Democrats face, they can prevail with a strong candidate and effective get-out-the-vote efforts. Sink was hit with ads attacking her support for Obamacare; her pivot calling for fixes over repeal is something we’ll be hearing from other vulnerable Democrats.
— Republicans are grousing about Jolly’s problems as a candidate, but his flaws were apparent from the outset. For a lobbyist, he didn’t leverage his connections into raising the money necessary for a nationally-watched campaign. His Washington ties didn’t help him bring in talented people to run his race, either. It’s a lesson of the importance of recruiting and backing electable candidates. But if Republicans can win despite a weak nominee, it’s a sign 2014 could be yet another wave election.
One wild card: the presence of Libertarian Lucas Overby on the ballot, who has polled in the mid single-digits. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) recorded a last-minute robocall to urge his supporters to back Jolly. If this race is as close as the early vote indicates, it’s plausible that the third-party candidate could play the role of spoiler.
— Josh Kraushaar
What We're Following See More »
"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.