After next week, primary season will rekindle for its last stretch before everyone can finally focus entirely on the general election. And the first week back could end up being the most dangerous primary week of the year for incumbents.
— Two House incumbents are more likely to lose than not: Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) and Scott DesJarlais (R-TN). But don’t write them into any broader pattern. Bentivolio, who was the only other Republican on the ballot in MI-11 when Thad McCotter‘s fradulent nominating petitions were thrown out, is the definition of an accidental congressman, while the 2012 revelations that DesJarlais had sexual relationships with co-workers and medical patients and pressured one to have an abortion destroyed his standing with Republicans. Both attracted very well-funded challengers with business and establishment GOP support.
— Other incumbents up at the beginning of August are better-positioned, though some still face potentially difficult challenges. Ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt‘s (R) KS-04 comeback attempt also defies political pigeonholing. Many of the groups backing Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) had few ideological quibbles with Tiahrt while he was in Congress, per their vote scorecards, but they’re sticking with the incumbent. Both candidates are accusing the other of cronyism, and Pompeo is using Tiahrt’s service against him by attacking him over earmarks. Meanwhile, most still expect Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to win renomination, but physician Milton Wolf (R) hasn’t faded as far as people thought after his X-ray controversy.
— Then, in Hawaii‘s traditional Saturday primary, there’s the lone big Democratic Senate primary of the cycle, pitting appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D) against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), who wanted that appointment in the first place and was backed by late Sen. Daniel Inouye. That race and Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s (D) contested primary are studies in contrast among Hawaii Democrats, highlighting ethnic differences, generational differences, and a long-term ideological shift within the state party.
Only two congressional incumbents have lost primaries this year (though as we’ve noted, that by itself isn’t a full measure of incumbent strength and weakness). As primaries restart, that figure could go up fast.
— Scott Bland
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President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.