Meet the GOP’s 2014 Bogeyman

Exit Nancy Pelosi. Enter Harry Reid.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks to reporters about the use of the 'nuclear option' at the U.S. Capitol November 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Karyn Bruggeman
Add to Briefcase
Karyn Bruggeman
Dec. 3, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

The Obama­care de­bacle has gif­ted Re­pub­lic­ans with a fight­ing chance to re­take the U.S. Sen­ate, and who bet­ter to cast as the evil spir­it that haunts Con­gress’s up­per cham­ber than Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id.

Re­id is the face of a Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate caucus that has tied it­self in knots try­ing to fix what ails the health care law. Plus, his de­cision to strip the Re­pub­lic­an minor­ity of its power to fili­buster Pres­id­ent Obama’s ju­di­cial and ex­ec­ut­ive ap­point­ments has un­leashed a fresh wave of de­ri­sion from the GOP. (Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala., called Re­id “a dic­tat­or,” and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., de­clared that the ma­jor­ity lead­er was act­ing like a “bully.”)

Already, Re­pub­lic­ans on the trail are ty­ing their Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ents to Re­id.

The Ju­di­cial Crisis Net­work launched a TV ad Monday against vul­ner­able Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., ac­cus­ing her of vot­ing to pack the courts with “Obama’s lib­er­al act­iv­ist judges.” The ad al­ludes to Re­id’s in­voc­a­tion of the “nuc­le­ar op­tion” to clear the way for ju­di­cial ap­point­ments, stat­ing “Landrieu even helped change the rules, help­ing Obama pack a key court with new lib­er­al judges.” The ad in­cludes a photo of Landrieu speak­ing with Re­id look­ing over her shoulder.

Re­id’s pres­ence in the ad is par­tic­u­larly not­able be­cause the group is­sued a nearly identic­al ad tar­get­ing Sen. Mark Pry­or, D-Ark., in early Novem­ber, be­fore Re­id changed the fili­buster rules. That ad had no im­ages or ref­er­ences to Re­id, sig­nal­ing that the Sen­ate lead­er’s re­cent ac­tions have nudged him un­der the Re­pub­lic­an heat lamp.

In Geor­gia, GOP Sen­ate can­did­ate Phil Gin­grey re­leased an ad on Nov. 12 pledging, if elec­ted, to re­tire after one term if he doesn’t suc­cess­fully re­peal Obama­care. Gin­grey says, “As a doc­tor I took an oath to do no harm, and Obama­care is so harm­ful that I voted to re­peal or de­fund it over 40 times. But our ef­forts die in the Sen­ate,” at which point Re­id’s im­age ap­pears as the face of a Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate res­ist­ant to re­peal.

Re­id’s un­pop­ular­ity is noth­ing new. His job-ap­prov­al rat­ings — along with those of oth­er con­gres­sion­al lead­ers — have nose­dived. In a na­tion­al Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll last month, Re­id’s ap­prov­al rat­ings stood at just 27 per­cent, com­pared with a 52 per­cent ma­jor­ity who dis­ap­proved. Those rat­ings were sim­il­ar to those of House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, House Speak­er John Boehner, and Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell.

Re­id’s emer­gence as the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s Pub­lic En­emy No. 1 bumps Pelosi from the top of the list. Her name and face were reg­u­lar fix­tures in con­ser­vat­ive mi­cro-sites, Web ads, TV com­mer­cials, and fun­drais­ing pitches dur­ing the 2010 and 2012 cycles. The play­book against Pelosi was simple: Wheth­er it was her stew­ard­ship of Obama­care and the “failed stim­u­lus,” or the char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of her as “a San Fran­cisco lib­er­al,” the evoc­a­tion of her name served as a ral­ly­ing cry for Re­pub­lic­ans look­ing to win back and pro­tect their ma­jor­ity in the House.

But Pelosi’s not in charge of the House any­more, and with the pos­sib­il­ity of fun­drais­ing to op­pose Hil­lary Clin­ton per­haps a year or two away, Re­pub­lic­ans ap­pear to be look­ing for a fresh bo­gey­man.

Brock Mc­Cle­ary, founder of the GOP auto­mated-polling firm Harp­er Polling and a vet­er­an of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, said voters will “greet Harry Re­id back as the minor­ity lead­er” if Re­pub­lic­ans can ef­fect­ively make their case against Obama­care now that it ex­ists as more than “mere the­ory” as it did in 2010. And if Gin­grey’s ad is any in­dic­a­tion, Re­id is likely to be­come one of the main pub­lic faces of the law’s prob­lems.

Re­pub­lic­an ad maker Brad Todd of On­Mes­sage largely agrees, say­ing be­cause Obama won’t face reelec­tion again and Pelosi has already been de­posed, the one place where voters can take out their frus­tra­tion on Obama’s agenda is with Re­id. Todd said in past years Re­id has “been trick­i­er to use in ad­vert­ising” be­cause he’s been re­l­at­ively suc­cess­ful at shield­ing vul­ner­able mem­bers of his caucus from con­tro­ver­sial votes. But mov­ing for­ward, as Re­id’s “role in the Sen­ate be­comes more cent­ral” and “the fact that Obama­care has now be­come as cent­ral as it did,” Re­id will have to “own” his stake in the law’s prob­lems and un­pop­ular­ity.

Todd put it this way: “If you want to change things in Wash­ing­ton, the lever for change is Re­id’s hold on the Sen­ate.”

What We're Following See More »
AT ISSUE: BENEFITS FOR COAL MINERS
Manchin, Brown Holding Up Spending Bill
54 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are threatening to block the spending bill—and prevent the Senate from leaving town—"because it would not extend benefits for retired coal miners for a year or pay for their pension plans. The current version of the bill would extend health benefits for four months. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday afternoon moved to end debate on the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28. But unless Senate Democrats relent, that vote cannot be held until Saturday at 1 a.m. at the earliest, one hour after the current funding measure expires."

Source:
PARLIAMENT VOTED 234-56
South Korean President Impeached
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

The South Korean parliament voted on Friday morning to impeach President Park Geun-hye over charges of corruption, claiming she allowed undue influence to a close confidante of hers. Ms. Park is now suspended as president for 180 days. South Korea's Constitutional Court will hear the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.

Source:
CLOSED FOR INAUGURAL ACTIVITIES
NPS: Women’s March Can’t Use Lincoln Memorial
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Participants in the women's march on Washington the day after inauguration won't have access to the Lincoln Memorial. The National Park Service has "filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters."

Source:
2.1 PERCENT IN 2017
President Obama Boosts Civilian Federal Pay
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Obama on Thursday announced a pay raise for civilian federal employees of 2.1 percent come January 2017. He had said multiple times this year that salaries would go up 1.6 percent, so the Thursday announcement came as a surprise. The change was likely made to match the 2.1 percent increase in salary that members of the military will receive.

Source:
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
20 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

×
×

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.

Login