It’s a political hazard to start thinking about a presidential race while you still have your day job. Ask Mitt Romney, whose approval ratings plummeted as he plotted a 2008 presidential campaign. Or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), whose sky-high popularity dropped as he spent more time away from Louisiana. Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D) often drew comparisons with Bill Clinton — that is, before he was blindsided in a 2002 reelection upset against Sonny Perdue.
— That’s the situation that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is in, as he faces another reelection campaign (sans recall) while his name is regularly being touted as presidential timber. His new book, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” is designed to enhance his national profile, but it’s unlikely to convince Wisconsin voters that he’s committed to serving out a full second term.
— Don’t assume Walker is a shoo-in for reelection. Instead of catering to the base, Dems recruited a moderate businesswoman, Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke, who has the ability to self-finance a campaign. A new Marquette Law School poll shows just how competitive the race could be. Walker’s job approval rating is at 49%, and he narrowly leads the little-known Burke, 47-45%.
— To be sure, Walker is a very intriguing dark-horse presidential candidate for 2016. He’s an executive with a record of principled conservative governance in a Democratic-leaning state. Unlike the conservative rhetoric of a Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, he can point to tangible accomplishments. He’s one of the few prospective candidates who could generate tea party excitement along with boasting establishment cred.
But Walker has to get to the starting line first. And if he takes his reelection for granted in the face of a credible Democratic challenger, that would be a recipe for trouble.
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The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."
An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."
The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in waiting, not only thinks his party will take the Senate this fall, but that it's on the cusp of an era of "electoral dominance." He told Politico: “We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way. We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”
"Vice President Joe Biden will appear in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that will mention the backlog of untested rape kits in many cities, as well as efforts to end violence against women—an issue close to Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994." He'll be in New York to tape the episode today.