Democrats are entertaining the prospect that Republican intransigence over the budget and debt ceiling could put the House in play for 2014. So with the possibility of these crises worsening, it’s worth examining what would need to happen for them to net the 17 seats necessary to pull off a historic upset.
— The critical number for Dems is 45, the number of GOP-held House seats with a Cook PVI of R+4 or better. They need to recruit credible candidates in at least 25 of them to have any hope of competing. Even in a wave election, not every competitive race goes one party’s direction. And remember: these include battle-tested members now running in gerrymandered seats (Gerlach, Reichert, Dent) and ones unlikely to draw much opposition (Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes).
— If the Washington gridlock is giving Democrats a decisive edge, expect to see it on the recruitment front in those districts. Right now, most of those incumbents aren’t even facing opponents, and pundits aren’t rating the races as potentially competitive. There’s time for that to change, but filing deadlines in key battleground states aren’t far away (Feb. 2014 in Pa. and Ohio).
— Pay close attention to the GOP-friendly suburban House districts. The big bellwethers if a wave is emerging: David Joyce (OH-14), Mike Turner (OH-10), Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Reid Ribble (WI-08), Pat Meehan (PA-07), and John Kline (MN-02). If they’re in trouble next summer, the House could be in play.
Finally, a reality check on the PPP/MoveOn.org polls: They tested GOP members against generic Dem candidates, results designed to give overly-optimistic readings of any race. And they didn’t survey any of the nine Dems in Romney CDs, who would have shown similar vulnerabilities. Take their conclusions with a big grain of salt.
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"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
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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.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.