Republican Senate challengers in a trio of Southern states are hoping to ride an anti-Washington wave into Congress. They’ve wasted no time targeting incumbents on the government shutdown and the deal that averted a debt default, but the strategy has provided mixed results in what are already uphill primary fights.
Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr used his first ad to target the vote by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in support of the fiscal deal, and he contends that Alexander has “lost touch” with the folks back home. But the biggest boost for Carr could come in fundraising — a needed lift after raising $52,000 in the last quarter. “We’ve already raised more money in the first two or three weeks in October than we have in the entire third quarter,” he said.
In Kentucky, the fiscal fight has also increased donations and the number of volunteers for businessman Matt Bevin’s campaign, a spokesperson said, adding that the campaign expects the fourth-quarter haul to top the approximately $220,000 brought in between July and September. Bevin recently won the backing of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “liberal record” — even though National Journal ranked McConnell as the 15th-most-conservative senator based on his 2012 votes.
But Republican strategists cast doubt on how effectively the fiscal fight could be made into a rallying point for tea-party challengers. Ted Jackson, a consultant from Kentucky, said voters can distinguish between opposing the Affordable Care Act and recognizing that a deal that included changes to the ACA wasn’t a realistic option. He also questioned Bevin’s lack of a built-in base and his low name recognition.
“[There is] just not enough of those voters to vote Mitch out,” Jackson said, referring to tea-party voters. “There’s not 50 people in Kentucky that could pick Matt Bevin out of a lineup.”
Tennessee strategist Tom Ingram said that “by the end of shutdown debacle it was pretty clear to everybody that Lamar Alexander dislikes the Affordable Care Act as much as everybody else, but that wasn’t the issue.”
In South Carolina, the fiscal fight hasn’t resulted in any quantifiable changes in support so far for businessman Richard Cash or state Sen. Lee Bright, who are hoping to challenge Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. Cash and Bright stressed that Graham’s support for the stopgap spending bill added to their narrative that he votes with Democrats and against voters in the state.
They, along with businesswoman Nancy Mace, are hoping to block Graham from getting more than 50 percent of the primary vote, thereby forcing him into a runoff. “I don’t see that happening,” said Ruth Sherlock, a Republican consultant in South Carolina. So far, all three challengers have a serious problem: weak fundraising.
Carr said he isn’t concerned about the fundraising gap — Alexander brought in more than 10 times what he did during the third quarter. Cash also said that primary opponents just need to raise enough “to get their message out,” pushing back on the notion that he must come close to matching Graham.
But J. Warren Tompkins, a longtime Republican strategist in South Carolina, said that “unless there is a significant shift in their fundraising abilities, they are going to have a difficult time.”
And with the fourth quarter being a difficult time to raise money because of the holidays, it might not be clear how much financial traction these candidates are gaining until first-quarter reports are filed in April.
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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."