For a sense on how the national environment is shaping up for Senate Democrats, look no further than the Montana Senate campaign to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D).
— It’s a race featuring a Democratic outsider with a compelling biography against a House Republican. It’s taking place in a Republican state — but one where Democrats have won 19 of the last 23 Senate races. And it’s emerging as an early test for how badly Obamacare will hurt Democrats, even those who didn’t vote for the law.
— Republicans landed their top recruit Wednesday in freshman Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT). After failing to get former Gov. Brian Schweitzer in the race, Dems settled on Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who led the state National Guard and boasts outsider credentials, without a voting record to scrutinize. Last month, in the wake of the government shutdown, being a House Republican was a problematic part of a resume. Now, given the president’s falling numbers, being a Democrat in a red state could be more problematic.
— Unlike incumbent senators who voted for the law, Walsh will have the freedom to distance himself from the White House as much as he needs to. But in an unexpected challenge, he’s facing some friendly fire from his own party. Schweitzer’s 77-year-old Lt. Gov., John Bohlinger, is challenging Walsh in the primary, and the former governor told Hotline that Walsh starts the primary at a disadvantage. There’s clearly no love lost between the former governor and Washington Democrats.
It’s appropriate that Montana is shaping up as an early bellwether, given that Baucus drew headlines for suggesting — in April 2013! — that the health care law’s implementation was becoming a train wreck. His successor will be determined by how badly that “train wreck” costs Senate Democrats next November.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."