If you’re looking for signs that the House could be in play in 2014, there are plenty in the wake of the government shutdown. Between the macro trends (growing D leads on the generic ballot) and the race-by-race developments (a crop of new recruits running), Democrats have reasons to be cautiously optimistic.
— The most encouraging news for the party is on the recruitment front. Party operatives now expect to land a number of recruits in both: a) swing districts where serious challengers usually don’t run, even in good years; b) Republican-friendly seats where challengers only run in strong Democratic years, like 2006 and 2008.
— To wit: Dems are closing to landing a former gubernatorial nominee (Alex Sink) to run in FL-13, and a former congressman’s son (Bill Hughes, Jr.) to challenge Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ). Neither seat has been in play for decades. In solidly-Republican suburban seats around Omaha (NE-02), Little Rock (AR-02) and South Bend (IN-02), Dems expect to recruit moderate candidates capable of winning crossover voters. These races alone aren’t enough to tip the majority, but if they’re indicative of a trend, stay tuned.
— This recruiting boomlet is a product of the more favorable national landscape for Dems. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Dems holding an 8-point lead on the generic, with Americans’ approval of their own representative at an all-time low (43%/47%). The only silver lining for the GOP: Obama‘s approval remains mediocre, and even a D+8 isn’t a guarantee of picking up the 17 seats necessary for control. Also: this is the GOP’s low-water mark, and the Dem numbers will probably take a hit given Obamacare’s implementation woes.
It wasn’t long ago that there was talk about widespread voter dissatisfaction leading to permanent wave elections. That’s still not likely this time, but the potential exists as voter approval continues to hit record lows.
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Half a dozen Republicans considering the seat as well.
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In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."
"President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite his criticism of the Justice Department head's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, the White House said Thursday. 'Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,' spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing."
"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration for records on an executive order President Trump reportedly planned to release targeting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, ACLU claimed the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and Treasury violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release the records it requested on the reported draft order."