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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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."