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2014: Obama’s ‘Year of Action’
As the rest of the country waited for the ball to drop to mark the end of 2013 and the beginning of the New Year, President Obama was waiting to start the roll out of his 2014 agenda. Throughout January, the President has been slowly outlining different areas of his agenda, from the economy to security, all in the build up to his 5th State of the Union address on January 28th.
Florida 13th Congressional District Special Election
Tuesday was the primary election for Florida’s 13th District. The late Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), Florida’s longest serving Member of Congress, passed away in October after 22 terms. The race has been gaining attention nationwide, with both parties looking to the competitive 13th district election as a bellwether for the 2014 midterms[...]
Alabama 1st Congressional District Special Election
Bradley Byrne (R), hailing from Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, will soon be the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Byrne will fill the vacant seat left by Jo Bonner (R) who resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System. Byrne, a former State Senator, easily coasted to victory last Tuesday, though he faced a competitive runoff in November. He and real estate developer Dean Young (R) made it into the Republican primary runoff, setting off a competitive contest between the establishment candidate (Byrne) and the tea party candidate (Young)[...]
Massachusetts 5 Special General Election
State Sen. Katherine Clark (D) won the Massachusetts’s 5th special election yesterday, making her the sixth woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Clark was expected to easily defeat opponent attorney Frank Addivinola (R). President Obama won the 5th district with 65% of the vote in 2012. Clark will be filling Senator Ed Markey’s old seat, (D) since he was elected to the Senate in June to fill the remainder of John Kerry’s (D) term after he resigned to be Secretary of State. Clark will be up again in 2014.
Louisiana 5th Congressional District Special Election Runoff
Businessman and political newcomer Vance McAllister (R) has won the special election for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. The seat has been vacant since Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) resigned to join the Jindal administration on September 26th. McAllister beat out fellow Republican, state Senator Neil Riser. Riser was the favorite going into the runoff, having beat McAllister in the primary by more than 12 points, raising more money and having the backing of several political figures in LA, including a majority of the GOP congressional delegation and former Rep. Alexander. McAllister, however, was able to use his personal wealth, anti-establishment platform and gain support of some Democratic voters, who were allowed to vote in the runoff, with his positions, such as supporting Medicaid expansion.
There are 3 remaining vacancies in the House, AL 1, MA 5 and FL 13.
Virginia and New Jersey Election Overview
2013 Ballot Measures
While the focus for the 2013 elections has been on the governors races in NJ and VA, there are other statewide elections taking place across the country this November – ballot measures. Ballot measures are one of the most direct forms of democracy, giving the voters a chance to directly influence public policy. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently 31 ballot questions in six states in 2013, ranging from taxes to casinos. Below is a snapshot of some of the ballot measures being voted on. For a more complete list you can visit the National Association of State Legislature’s Database.
Genetically Engineered Foods: Washington State has a referendum on whether genetically engineered foods should be required to be labeled with that distinction. Interest groups on both sides have raised substantial sums, with a slight edge for those supporting labeling[...]
BIPAC Candidate Endorsement Alert
BIPAC and the business community have traditionally waited until the general election before working to support pro-growth, pro-prosperity candidates for office. However, when there are states or districts that are not competitive in the general election and where there is a stark difference between the candidates in the primary on pro-growth, pro-prosperity policies and outlook, it is vital that we make a stand.
For that reason, BIPAC is endorsing candidates early in races where that choice is clear and where the business communities of the affected states have made their choice known[...]
Key Dates in the Debt Ceiling Deal
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Source: National Journal
House Crossover Districts: Part 3 of 4
Today we continue our 4 part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House crossover districts. House crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and 9 incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House crossover districts visit the BIPAC portal here.
Jeff Denham (R, CA-10)
Louisiana 5th Congressional District Special Election
The Louisiana special election was held yesterday and no candidate in the crowded field won the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff election. As such, State Sen. Neil Riser (R) and businessman Vance McAllister (R) will face off in the November 16th runoff. Riser is the GOP establishment candidate and was the top fundraiser heading into the election. McAllister (R) is running as an outsider candidate. The winner of the election will replace Rodney Alexander (R), who resigned from Congress in September to become the new head of the state's Department of Veterans Affairs.
New Jersey Senate Special Election
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) will be the next senator from New Jersey. Booker easily cruised to victory on Wednesday, beating opponent Steve Lonegan (R). Booker had been consistently ahead in the polls leading up to the election. Booker will replace Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa (R), who was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Christie (R) after Sen. Launtenberg (D) passed away in June. This changes the Senate breakdown to 55 Democrats, 45 Republicans. Booker is up for re-election in November 2014.
Massachusetts Special Primary Election
The primary results are in for the 5th district special election. Former Congressman Ed Markey (D) was elected to the Senate in June to fill the remainder of John Kerry’s (D) term after he resigned to be Secretary of State, setting off a special election for Markey’s House seat. On the Democratic side, the race was tight, but State Sen. Katherine Clark (D), who was leading the polls at the end of the race, won the nomination. Attorney Frank Addivinola (R) is the Republican nominee[...]
New polls released for VA gubernatorial campaign
New poll numbers for the Virginia gubernatorial race dropped this week, giving McAuliffe (D) an edge over the other candidates. In the Politico poll released Monday, 44 percent of Virginians support Terry McAuliffe (D), 35 percent support Ken Cuccinelli (R), and 12 percent support Robert Sarvis (Lib). Further polls from Roanoke College and Christopher Newport University also show McAuliffe running ahead of Cuccinelli, by 6 points and 9 points, respectively.
These polls show a significant change from a few months back. At the beginning of the year, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli ran even at about 36 percent each. When the influx of negative ads began to hit the airwaves in July, both men saw their number take a significant dip, with McAuliffe maintaining a slight edge, and then gaining more steam in September and October[...]
Government Shutdown History
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Source: National Journal
Alabama Special Election
The results are in for Alabama’s primary for the 1st Congressional District special election. Jo Bonner (R) resigned in August to take a position as Vice Chancellor of the University of Alabama System, setting off a special election for his seat. The Republican side of this race was packed, with five top tier contenders and a few other candidates, running for the GOP nomination. With such a packed field, no candidate received at least 50% of the vote, which is required to win the primary outright[...]
House Crossover Districts: Part 2 of 4
Today we continue our four part series in which BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see the full list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC portal here.
David Valadao (R, CA 21)
Democrat vs. GOP Budget Strategies
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Source: National Journal
Colorado Election Update – State Senators Recalled
Yesterday, Colorado held its first ever recall elections of two state lawmakers, Sen. President John Morse (D) and Sen. Angela Giron (D). Both were recalled and replaced with republicans. Senator Elect Bernie Herpin (R), replaces John Morse and George Rivera (R), replaces Angela Giron. The Senate remains in Democratic control, but its lead has narrowed from 20-15 to 18-17. The State Senate will now also have to elect a new Senate President.
The results of yesterday’s elections could be telling of what to expect in 2014. While Morse’s district was more evenly split with party registration, Giron sat in a district with a much larger Democratic voter registration and was expected to pull through[...]
Democrat and Republican ratings of U.S. Business and Industry Sectors
Stakes in the States Series
2014 Most Vulnerable Governors
There are 36 states with governor's races in 2014. The current party breakdown for governorships is 30 Republican and 20 Democratic. There are currently six open seats in AR, AZ, NE, MD, MA and TX meaning there are 30 governors running for re-election. Despite Republicans having a ten seat advantage, several current Republican governors won election in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and nine Republican governors are up in states that Obama won in 2012. As such, Republican governors are now running for re-election in states that are far more moderate than they've governed, leaving them more vulnerable than their Democratic counterparts. Below is a list of the top four most vulnerable Republicans and top four most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in 2014. We've provided an overview as to why they are at risk and listed the most recent race ratings from several top political analysts as well as those from BIPAC.
Small and Big Business Healthcare Differences
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Source: Wall Street Journal
New Jersey Senate: Special Primary Election Recap
The special primary election for the U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey concluded with few surprises on Tuesday. The seat became vacant in June when Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away. Gov. Chris Christie (R) chose to set the date for the special election prior to the statewide elections held in November, hence the August primary date.
Most of the action was held on the Democratic side, as Newark Mayor Cory Booker faced off against two sitting members of Congress as well as the House Assembly Speaker, Sheila Oliver. Despite Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt having federal office experience, the national notoriety and popularity of Booker was too much to overcome, and he easily won the nomination. On the Republican side, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan handily defeated a lesser known challenger, Dr. Alieta Eck, for the Republican nomination[...]
Stakes in the States Series
Stakes in the States: Recall Elections
What is a recall election? It is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace an elected official before the end of their term. Recalls can be used to rid the office of a corrupt or incompetent leader, for partisan politics, or removing officials for a policy position. It is estimated that a majority, three-fourths, of recall elections are at city council or school board level, though there have been increasing instances of recalls at the state level. Nineteen states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NJ, ND, OR, RI, WA and WI) and the District of Columbia currently allow recalls of state officials. In the past three years, several states have seen state elected officials face recalls, including WI, AZ, MI and currently, CO.
State Level Recalls since 2010 (according to National Conference of State Legislatures)
House Crossover Districts: Part 1 of 4
This blog part one of a four part series where BIPAC will analyze the upcoming 2014 House Crossover districts. House Crossover districts are the Congressional districts where the U.S. Representative and the presidential candidate voted for by that district are of opposite parties. There are currently 26 House Crossover districts or 26 House members whose district voted for the presidential candidate of the opposite party. There are 15 incumbent Republicans serving in districts President Obama won and nine incumbent Democrats serving in districts Mitt Romney won. This series will analyze the incumbents, the districts and potential challengers as the political landscape for 2014 continues to evolve and take shape.
To see full the list of House Crossover districts visit the Political Analysis page of the BIPAC Portal here.
Gary Miller (R, CA-31)
Rep. Miller was elected to Congress in 1998 and is serving in his 8th term. Miller was reelected in 2012 beating his opponent by 10.4%. What's unique about Miller's race is that due to California's new top-two primary system, Miller ran in the general election against another Republican, making the race less competitive - hence the victory of 10+ points. But, this is a swing district and the President outperformed Miller winning by a margin of 16.6%. As a result, Democratic Party operatives and potential Democratic candidates are honing in on this district as a potential pick up. Several possible challengers have lined up including former Rep. Joe Baca (D) and Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) who was backed by the DCCC in 2012[...]
North Carolina’s Voter ID Law
Just last month, the United States Supreme Court struck down the enforcement of provisions of the Voting Rights Act eliminating the requirement that many southern states, including North Carolina, obtain federal permission to make changes to voting laws. Now, out from under federal scrutiny, the Republican-controlled North Carolina state Senate has passed a bill containing changes to several long held voting practices and laws. The bill is now awaiting Governor Pat McCrory’s signature, which he has said he will sign. The Senate version of the bill contains more than 50 additional revisions from the House version that was passed this April.
The changes to voting laws contained in the bill have been highly controversial and will directly impact North Carolina voters. Most notably, voters must now provide government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, at the polls before they can cast their ballot. Early voting has also been curtailed, shortened from 17 days to the 10 days before the election[...]
Unchallenged House Races
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Breaking it Down: Vacancy Recap
Ed Markey (D- MA) was sworn in as Massachusetts's newest Senator on July 16th, creating a vacancy for his seat in MA's 5th Congressional District. This marks the fourth House vacancy since January, and there will be a fifth come August, when Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL) resigns to work at the University of Alabama. In the Senate, there have been several vacancies since January as well, with the resignation of DeMint (R), appointment of Kerry (D) to Secretary of State and the passing of Lautenberg (D). These vacancies have led to four special elections so far this year (MA Senate, IL 2nd, SC 1st, MO 8th), with five more to come (NJ Senate, SC Senate, HI Senate, MA 5th, AL 1st)[...]
Sizing Up Senate Candidates
The 2014 elections are fast approaching and the decision by former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer not to run for U.S. Senate has put Republicans in a much better position to win control of the chamber. However, the past few cycles have shown that the greatest challenge facing both parties - but particularly Republicans - is recruiting quality candidates. In 2014, Democrats need to find candidates who can win in conservative states like South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. Republicans need to find credible challengers who can take on vulnerable, incumbent Democrats in red states like Arkansas, North Carolina and Alaska.
So what's the status of the candidate recruitment process? How are the parties faring in recruiting top tier candidates? Now that second quarter fundraising reports have been filed, a clear picture is beginning to take shape. The chart below lists formally announced Senate candidates as well as snapshots of their fundraising abilities. Several candidates do not have amounts to report because they announced their campaigns just recently or else the FEC hasn't posted second quarter totals yet. Fundraising amounts do not equate victory or defeat, but they do convey interest, legitimacy and illustrate that there is some level of support[...]
Guest Blogger Series
Redistricting: The Ins & Outs of the New House and Senate Lines
PA’s new Philly area state Senate districts
The country can now close the books on its decennial redistricting process as the last holdout — Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate maps — are now complete and street legal.
The Supreme Court voted unanimously in May to approve the second set of maps produced by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), which had been under review for nearly a year. As the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “In their unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, the three Republican and three Democratic justices concluded that the revised plan ‘complies with the Pennsylvania Constitution, which shall hereby have the force of law, beginning with the 2014 election cycle.”[...]
Unemployed vs. Job Openings
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MA Senate Special Election
The Massachusetts Senate special election took place yesterday, with Rep. Ed Markey (D) unsurprisingly winning the seat. Markey was up against former Navy SEAL and private equity investor Gabriel Gomez (R).
While Markey had been consistently leading in the polls, Gomez insisted to the end that he was a serious competitor, largely based off the unpredictability of low voter turnout. In the end, Gomez was unable to attract a majority of Massachusetts’ independent voters, which he needed for the win. Markey ran as the Democratic establishment choice in the race, and this year the Democratic Party put their full weight behind the candidate, hoping to avoid another 2010 mishap when Scott Brown (R) won the state’s special election to replace former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D)[...]
GOP Controls Majority of State Legislatures, Governorships
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2013 Virginia Primary Election Recap
The ballot is set and the race is heating up. Tuesday marked the final step in setting the tickets for the Virginia 2013 statewide elections. The Republicans selected their nominees in May at a convention, but now the Democrats have narrowed down their field. Terry McAuliffe will be the Democratic nominee for Governor, Ralph Northam for Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring rounding out the ticket as the Attorney General nominee. The Republicans nominated Ken Cuccinelli for Governor, E.W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Obenshain for Attorney General. The general election takes place November 5, 2013[...]
What You Need to Know for the Virginia Primary
The Republicans have chosen their nominees, selecting Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain, but next week the Democrats will take the spotlight as they head to the polls to select their representatives for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. While the Republicans used a convention to decide, the Democrats will be decided using a primary election held on June 11th to select their state-wide candidates[...]
Michele Bachmann Won’t Seek Reelection
There will be another open seat in the House when voters go the polls in 2014. Surprising many, Representative Michele Bachmann (R, MN-6) announced via a video on her website that she won’t be seeking reelection to a fifth term. The former presidential candidate and tea-party mainstay was expected to face a tough challenge from Democrat Jim Graves who came within 1.2% of defeating her last November. Despite what would likely have been an uphill battle for reelection, Bachmann said that her decision had nothing to do with her prospects but rather her belief that she had served her time. In the video, Bachmann said, “I have every confidence that if I ran, I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year, who recently announced he is once again running[...]”
Bonner to Resign from Congress
Representative Jo Bonner, a Republican serving Alabama’s 1st District, has announced that he will be stepping down from his seat effective August 15. Bonner accepted the position of Vice Chancellor of Government Relations and Economic Development at the University of Alabama. He has served just over ten years in the House and ran unopposed his most recent re-election bid last November. In a press release, Congressman Bonner said that he wasn’t looking for a change, but that the opportunity at the University of Alabama found him. He currently serves on the House Committee on Appropriations[...]
State Unemployment Rates
The economy is always a major headline in elections, especially unemployment rates. When looking at the unemployment numbers for the states that have governors up for reelection in 2014, 14 states currently have unemployment rates higher than the national average of 7.5%. How significantly will these numbers affect the elections? While it is true that several of the nation's most unpopular governors are on this list, including Chafee (I-RI), Quinn (D-IL) and Corbett (R-PA), other governors with high unemployment rates are relatively popular. Nevada has one of the highest unemployment rates right now with 9.6% unemployment, yet Gov. Sandoval (R) has positive approval ratings. While unemployment rates may not predict the outcomes of races, it is certainly a factor to keep in mind going into the 2014 elections[...]
MO Special & NJ Primary Election Results
Missouri 8th District: State Rep. Jason Smith (R) has won the special election to replace former Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R) who resigned in January to join the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The state parties choose the special election nominees and the seat was expected to stay in Republican hands. The Democratic nominee was state Rep. Steve Hodges. The current House breakdown is now 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats.
New Jersey: New Jersey held its primary yesterday for the statewide November elections. Gov. Chris Christie (R) and state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) are now the official gubernatorial nominees. This has not been a competitive race so far, with Christie maintaining a 30 point lead over Buono. Besides the gubernatorial race, all 120 state legislative seats are up for reelection. Overshadowing the NJ primary is the recent news of Sen. Lautenberg’s (D) passing. Attention has been focused on Gov. Christie and who he will appoint as successor, Republican or Democrat, to Lautenberg’s seat in advance of a special election in August[...]
2014 Open Seat Outlook: Governors
By Kelly McDonough
Vice President, Political Affairs
June 3, 2013
In last week's blog, BIPAC delivered an overview of all eight open U.S. Senate seats and all nine U.S. House seats. This week we have focused on the six open governors' races being held between now and the end of 2014. Of the 36 states that have governor races next year, only five of them are open seats, four of which are term limited. Also included in our analysis is the gubernatorial election in Virginia in 2013. The only governor choosing not to seek reelection is Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D). This differs significantly from the extremely high number of U.S. Senators who are leaving Congress due to partisanship and age. It is unlikely we'll see any current governors announce they aren't seeking another term barring any major events or scandals. We do know however, that as of today there will be at least six new governors heading into 2015. Below is an overview of those states and what we can expect to see between now and Election Day[...]
2014 Open Seat Outlook: Senate
May is almost over and we are nearly to the halfway point of 2013. The races for 2014 are beginning to take shape as federal legislators determine whether they will run for reelection or hang up their hats to begin a life of retirement, relaxation or their next professional adventure. In Congress, most attention is focused on the U.S. Senate because of the increasing potential for Republicans to win control of the chamber next year. Currently Democrats hold 53 seats, Republicans hold 45 and two Independents caucus with the Democrats. In order for Republicans to gain control of the Senate, they need to pick up at least six seats currently held by Democrats. Already, six Democrats have announced their retirement creating open seats. Open seats create the best opportunity for pick-ups by opposing parties because candidates don't have to unseat incumbents who typically have more fundraising and party support than challenger candidates[...]
Partisanship Of State Governments From 1992-2013
A New Kind of Population Growth
There is a new trend in America’s population growth. Immigration is the focus of new data from the Census Bureau and has been garnering political steam in Congress. For the first time since the Census Bureau began tracking population growth in 1850, immigration is poised to pass natural increases as the primary driver of population growth in the United States within the next 15 to 25 years. Natural increases are falling behind as the fertility rates decline and baby boomers are aging. Supplementing the aging American population would be the immigration of a younger, more diverse population[...]
How People Register to Vote
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U.S. House: South Carolina-01
Former SC Gov. Mark Sanford (R) beat Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) in yesterday’s 1st Congressional District special election to fill the vacancy created by former Rep. Tim Scott (R). Scott was appointed to the Senate in January of this year to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R) who left the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.
As the early favorite in the race, Sanford was barely able to overcome his recent legal issues and scandalous past. Sanford, who left the gubernatorial office amid a personal scandal, had lost support from the National Republican Congressional Committee after being accused of trespassing, hurting his campaign in the final weeks. Prior to being governor he actually served in this district but term-limited himself and left in 2001. He was the top vote getter in the Republican primary with 37% of the vote, but needed 50% in order to avoid a runoff. He competed in the runoff on April 2nd, against former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, and won with 57% of the vote[...]
The South Carolina Turnout
Last week, the Associated Press (AP) published an article titled, “White apathy, energized black voters doomed GOP’s Romney in 2012 as black turnout hit highs”. The article stated that black Americans voted at a higher rate than any other minority group. The minority makeup, based off of the CNN exit polls, shows that 13% of the 2012 electorate was made up of black or African-American voters, followed by Latino’s making up 10% and Asian Americans making up 3%. The high black turnout led to a polarized presidential election – blacks came out in large support for President Obama and AP states that “white [voters] stayed home”. With the departure of President Obama in 2016, some say this could be the end of the determining black vote… maybe not[...]
Massachusetts Senate Special Election
The special Senate primary election in Massachusetts took place yesterday, with Rep. Ed Markey winning the Democratic Nomination over Rep. Stephen Lynch. This is no surprise; recent polling by Public Policy Polling had Markey leading Lynch 50-36. Markey was the establishment choice, endorsed by the DSCC and former Sen. John Kerry (D), while Lynch ran as the Washington outsider and working class candidate. Rep. Markey is expected to handily win the general election on June 25th.
On the Republican side, three candidates were vying for the nomination. They include former Navy SEAL and private equity investor Gabriel Gomez, State Rep. Dan Winslow and former US attorney and former acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Michael J. Sullivan. Gabriel Gomez will continue on to the general election[...]
Understanding, Embracing and Making the Most Out of Social Media
As a veteran communications executive, I was hesitant at first to embrace social media, and now I eat, sleep and breathe it. While I was overwhelmed at first, by learning the science behind social media (and there is a science to it) and the opportunities it presents, I realized two things: A.) Adapt or be left behind and B.) There is an opportunity here to not just "reach" people but make a serious impression on them[...]
Alaska Legislature Approves Oil Tax Overhaul
Alaska’s legislature adjourned last week following the passage of a contentious bill pertaining to the oil industry, Senate Bill 21. The passage was a crucial victory for the industry, which could now pay severance taxes as low as 14 percent on net oil profits, down from a base rate of 25 percent which increased concurrently with oil prices. When oil prices were at their highest, the government “take”, with all taxes and royalties included, was between 70-80 percent. The tax was a windfall for the state’s general fund, which profited over 8 billion from oil production in FY 2012[...]
Are Capitol Hill’s Issues America’s Issues?
The U.S. Senate reconvened last week after a two-week recess for what could be the most critical four months of the 113th Congress. The top issues up for debate are gun control, immigration reform and solving the debt crisis. If these issues aren’t resolved before the August recess, many think the ability to solve these problems will be extremely unlikely in this Congress, and could be punted down the road for future legislators to solve[...]
Let the Budget Debate Begin…
It has been an exciting few months for the budget wonks here in DC - this was the first time in four years that the Senate passed a budget resolution, which is a big deal considering the last time we passed a budget, the iPad hadn't been invented yet. Additionally, after missing its budget deadline in February, the White House finally released its FY 2014 budget proposal last week. So now that the White House, Senate, and House have all proposed their respective budgets, serious debate can begin on how to move forward. So how does the President's budget stack up? It may not balance the budget in ten years, like the House, but the President's plan offers several good starting points for debate[...]
Budget Proposal Comparison
Two Thumbs Up or Two Thumbs Down for the U.S. Senate?
The U.S. Senate reconvened last week after a two-week recess, for what could be the most critical four months of the 113th Congress. With over a dozen newcomers and nearly half the chamber serving in its first term, the expectations for the Senate at the beginning of the year were cautiously optimistic. The business community was looking to the upper chamber to provide problem solvers, fixers and individuals who could lead a deeply divided Congress into an era of good government and policy reform that would help get the country moving again. Several Senators have risen to the occasion, and although they aren't all headlining the news or regularly in the national spotlight, they have been quietly working behind the scenes and across party lines to get things done. Other individuals, who came into the Senate on an elevated platform with hopes of bringing life to a lethargic legislative process, have fallen short of those too-high expectations. So in honor of the recent passing of movie critic Roger Ebert, below is a film-style critique of some key U.S. Senators based on the first 100 days of the new Congress[...]
Many regarded the 2008 general election as an anomaly. Then to the surprise of many, the general election of 2012 happened – we refer to this as the “new normal ”. Greg Casey, President & CEO of BIPAC, wrote that the new normal can be defined as the winning campaign tactics that recognized the new demographics, new venues, new voices and new values of the successful modern era campaign. Among the new normal crowd were young voters. They provided their influence and their votes in 2008 and again in 2012. This was not the first time we saw this type of political impact. Those voters who were between the ages of 18 to 29 during the 1960’s – current day Baby Boomers – can remember. Though some youth in the 1960’s became less political, it is good to note the youth uprising which left a mark on our current political lives[...]
IL 2 Special Election
Robin Kelly (D), former Cook County Chief Administration Officer, has won the Illinois 2nd District special election. Kelly easily beat opponent Paul McKinley (R), an ex con charged with armed robberies and burglaries, in Tuesday’s special election. The 2nd District is heavily Democratic and Kelly was favored to win.
The real competition for this seat was in the Democratic Primary, where gun control was a major player. Kelly beat out several other well known Democrats, including former Rep. Debbie Halvorson and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale. Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC, Independence USA, spent over $2 million in the primary, supporting Kelly for her pro gun control stance and attacking her opponents[...]
Stakes in the States: Mayoral Rundown
Mayors and mayoral elections often fall below the national radar, even though they are an important part of our state and local governance. As America observes a Congress unable to balance its own budget, heads of municipalities around the country have been making tough decisions and rising to the needs of their constituents for years. Not only have they been struggling to govern in a weak economy, they’ve also been tasked with simultaneously saving and cutting pensions, reducing school budgets while improving education and cutting law enforcement while at the same time keeping their citizens safe. And most recently they’ve had to cope with a lack of federal funding as sequestration cuts have gone into effect.
As of April 2nd, 64 cities already held mayoral elections or appointments this year. Most mayoral offices are elected by voters, but a significant number of mayors are appointed by local councils. There are an additional 607 mayoral elections scheduled to be held in 23 states throughout 2013. Cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland and Houston have elections this year, as well as the country’s two most populous cities – New York City and Los Angeles[...]
2013 Virginia and New Jersey Statewide Candidate Filings
Virginia Republicans wishing to run for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General needed to file their candidacy for the May 17-18, 2013 Republican primary convention by January 14th. Virginia Republicans decided to change their method of choosing Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General nominees to a closed nominating convention; it was previously an open primary. The Democratic filing deadline, for the three positions was March 28th. Both parties’ gubernatorial nominees’, Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R), face non-contested primaries – they will go up against each other in the general election on November 5, 2013[...]
2013 Special Elections Update
2013 can hardly be described as an "off" election year. There are four federal special elections scheduled for 2013 (so far), and if you combine the number of primary, runoff and general election dates you will find a total of eight federal election dates on the calendar. Throw in the statewide elections held in VA, NJ, OH and WI and the number of significant election dates increases to 16. To help you keep track of the numerous elections held this year, below is an update on all the special elections scheduled for 2013.
U.S. House: South Carolina-01
A special election in SC's 1st Congressional District is being held to fill the vacancy created by former Rep. Tim Scott (R) who was appointed to the Senate in January of this year. Sen. Scott was chosen to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R) who left the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The primary for the House seat (held Tuesday, March 19th) has provided an enormous amount of entertainment for those following the race closely[...]
2014 Election Outlook
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Expanding the Playing Field: Engaging with Regulators
It is no secret the 112th Congress was one of the least effective in history. To review the most compelling stats: the 112th passed fewer public laws than any congress on record (starting in 1948), it was also the least popular since approval ratings were tracked, and it was the most polarized congress in U.S. history. The public policy process was dramatically impacted by stagnation on Capitol Hill, resulting in frustration among the business community and anyone advocating for change in DC. Groups began expand the playing field by looking beyond Capitol Hill towards regulatory agencies as well as state and local governments to ensure their voices were heard[...]
While Americans are beginning to get used to the Sequester that went into effect March 1, there are more important deadlines looming on the horizon. The airport security lines have not been more unbearable than usual, the government is still running, and only White House tours have been cancelled. Congress avoided the next fiscal pitfall, passing a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government through the end of the fiscal year. While the Sequester is more of a slowdown, the March 27 deadline to pass the Continuing Resolution represented a government shutdown in addition to the provisions of the Sequester. If a CR had not passed, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would have face unpaid furlough and several programs and essential government functions could have lost their funding[...]
SC-1 Special Primary Election Recap - UPDATED
The special primary election to fill the vacancy in SC’s first congressional district was held yesterday. Former Rep. Tim Scott (R) was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January following the retirement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R). On the Democratic side, the outcome held no surprises as the only serious candidate was Elizabeth Colbert Busch – sister to comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert won her primary challenge with 95.9% of the vote[...]
The Catholic Vote
Catholics not only make up the United States’ largest religious group, but they have supported the popular vote winner of every presidential election since 1972. With such a strong track record, Catholics are often seen as a bellwether voting bloc in presidential years. In 2012 President Obama won this group of voters, but to understand how they may vote moving forward, you need to understand their past[...]
Thin Ice Demographic Destiny
America has always been shaped by dynamic demographics. Those seeking religious freedom, escaping potato famines, fleeing tyranny or surviving bondage have created a mix of cultures, ethnicities and beliefs. Our ability to assimilate this diversity remains one of America's unique strengths. In that regard, however, nothing is as predictable as the unpredictability of how these many faces of America eventually carve their niche in American politics.
To many, the 2012 elections was a harbinger of the coming Democratic political dominance. Our nation's largest and fastest growing minority groups, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians, voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Obama and the Democrats, just as they had in 2008. Although Republicans gained strength among white voters, white voters as a percentage of the total vote slipped from 77% in 2004 to 72% in 2012. In a nation trending from 64% white today to 56% white by 2030, traditional wisdom suggests a Democratic demographic dominance is all but certain[...]
The Fastest Growing Group
Since November 7, 2012, the discussion has centered on how Republicans lost the youth, women’s and minority vote. Let’s go one step further; the discussion has been about how Republicans lost Latino voters and how they can gain their trust. Democrats have dominated the Latino vote the past two Presidential Elections. Many have said Obama’s victory was due, in large part, to this group – the minority group that is paving the way for a majority-minority population that should happen around 2043[...]
2014 Open Seats
Click here for the current list of open seats for 2014 due to term limits, retirements and legislators running for Senate.
Stakes in the States
Two weeks ago, the nation's highest court heard arguments against Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; an issue that is both complicated and sensitive and a ruling that thankfully it's not my job to decide. But, while everyone is talking about the Sequester, I want to take this opportunity to draw your attention to such a noteworthy court case, the impacts it may have on 16 states, and the political implications that could follow.
In Shelby County v. Holder, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is being challenged under the claim that it poses an unconstitutional burden on specific states. Section 5 of the VRA requires nine states and cities or counties in seven additional states to "pre-clear" (or get permission) with the Department of Justice or a panel of three federal judges in D.C. before making any changes to their voting process: redistricting, voter ID laws, special election dates, etc. This was put into place in 1965 in order to protect any voters from discrimination based on racial or ethnic background. The Supreme Court upheld the law four years ago but essentially told Congress that it needed to review the legislation and determine if the formula for which states need to be covered, should be updated - the formula is thirty-five years old. Congress, being completely useless these days in passing meaningful legislation, did not heed the Court's suggestion, and as a result, Section 5 of the law is now being challenged. I am no legal expert and could not even begin to weigh in on what the ruling will be or the merits of the challenge, but I do find the potential political implications of the outcome extremely important to consider[...]
Bringing Back the Filibuster
The talking filibuster made its return to the front pages as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the Senate floor yesterday to block a vote on President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. It was a rare show of bipartisanship as Paul received support from fellow Republicans and a Democrat as he sought to bring attention to the use of unmanned drones and to find out if the government would use drones in the United States. Just before noon on Wednesday, Paul began his filibuster saying, “I will speak until I can no longer speak.” As it turns out, that was quite a while, finally ceding the floor at about 12:40 a.m. on Thursday. All told, Paul spoke without leaving the floor of the Senate for almost 13 hours.
A Second Term Curse for President Obama?
President Obama’s approval rating has taken a hit following the budget sequester. The cuts that went into effect on March 1st are the primary reason the President’s numbers have dropped from where they were at the end of the February. A very perceptible drop took place from February 28 through the weekend, with a presidential approval rating of 51% on Thursday morning and a low of 46% by March 2nd, according to Gallup. However, Obama’s average crept back up to 49% by March 4th[...]
The Sequestration Obfuscation
Last week, everyone was talking about the pending sequestration when only a handful of people actually understand what it is. I am not one of them. I know just enough to know what I just said. Luckily, I recently had breakfast with former Senator Phil Gramm who wrote the sequestration provisions into The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. He and his devoted staff understand the concept. But even they have trouble getting their arms around the current version. And for good reason. The sequestration they wrote was designed to provide an orderly process for enforcing decisions made to control spending. The current sequestration is anything but an orderly process. This sequestration is a scapegoat for a lack of procedural discipline and smokescreen for failed leadership.
The first use of sequestration came not long after it was enacted, cutting an amount roughly proportional to that being forecast today. The sky didn't fall then and it might not fall this time either. A bigger sequestration was triggered again in 1987 but they opted out and because of that we have the deficits and national debt we have today. The fact is no one really knows the effect this sequestration will have on programs, people or long term deficits and debt, but that hasn't stopped the demagogues from making a serious issue into political blame game[...]
Illinois 2nd District Special Primary Election
Cook County Chief Administration Officer Robin Kelly (D) has won the Democratic nomination for the Illinois Second District special election, as expected. The Illinois primary to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) was held Tuesday, February 26. Turnout to the polls was low, due to lack of interest and bad weather (the Chicago area was under a winter weather advisory). The second district is heavily democratic, and Robin Kelly is expected to easily win the general election on April 9th[...]
There’s no going back now
Friday, March 1st is the official day the 2013 automatic spending cuts will take place. The cuts were delayed for two months in the beginning of January and once again face action. In Washington, this is known as sequestration – automatic, across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending due to catastrophic budget deficits.
Update on Senate Retirements
35 Senate seats are up for re-election in 2014 and 5 Senators have already announced their retirement (2R, 3D). This is not surprising in a Congress that currently has an approval rating of 15% and where over a third of U.S. Senators are 65 or older. Age, political stalemate and partisan bickering are sure to be the continuing themes of Senate retirements for the next few years.
West Virginia – Jay Rockefeller (D) does not plan to seek a sixth term to the Senate. Rockefeller was governor of WV prior to being elected to Congress in 1984. He now serves as Chairman of the Commerce Committee and Chair of Finance’s Subcommittee on Health Care. As a 75 year old public servant, the Senator has cited wanting more time to spend with his family. The open seat in WV poses a potential pick-up opportunity for Republicans – Mitt Romney won WV by 26 points last November. The graphic in this article demonstrates how WV has shifted from a blue to a red state over the past 40 years. However, it’s not an automatic lock for Republicans considering the governor’s mansion, the state legislature and the other Senate seat are all in Democratic hands[...]
The Political Process in Washington, DC
The Business Community and The State of The Union Address
President Obama will give his fifth State of the Union tonight at 9pm ET and the business community is looking forward to hearing how Obama will increase American jobs and economy prosperity.
When President Barack Obama addresses Congress, he is expected to lay out how his vision will reduce unemployment, restore economic prosperity for Americans and combat climate change. The President will lay out initiatives on energy, education, manufacturing, and infrastructure – including asking for support in spending on infrastructural improvements and making America attractive for manufacturing. Experts anticipate these initiatives will include offsets to avoid adding to the deficit. In regards to education, Obama is expected to stress the importance of preparing America’s youth for the job market through quality education. The President will also make clear climate change remains a priority of his administration[...]
Breaking It Down: Senate Seniority
Seniority in the U.S. Senate has always been viewed as beneficial. More senior members usually have increased clout in the chamber and higher positions in committees. However, in a year where almost half of the senators have been serving less than six years, lack of seniority and experience can also be a good thing. This is a great time to reach out to the newer members and introduce yourself and your issues[...]
Presidential Primary Changes
The Virginia Legislature is considering a bill that would reduce the number of signatures required for a presidential primary candidate to get on the Virginia ballot. Under the current law, candidates must receive 10,000 signatures, including 400 signatures from each congressional district. The new bill, already approved in the Senate this Monday, would decrease the number of signatures to 5,000, including 200 from each district. The House of Delegates will take up the bill next. This is a response to the 2012 presidential primary where several Republican nominees, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a resident of VA, failed to get on the ballot. The only two Republicans who submitted enough signatures were Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul[...]
Patrick Names Kerry’s Successor
Yesterday morning, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick named William “Mo” Cowan as John Kerry’s temporary successor in the U.S. Senate, after Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State in a 94-3 vote. Cowan, Patrick’s former Chief of Staff, is an attorney who resides in Stoughton, MA. He will serve in Kerry’s seat until the special election in June. With the appointment of Mo Cowan there will now be two African American U.S. Senators serving together for the first time in American history[...]
South Carolina 1st Congressional District Candidates
Monday, January 28 at noon, was the filing deadline for those wanting to run for the vacant South Carolina 1st congressional district seat. The seat became available when Governor Nikki Haley (R) appointed former representative Tim Scott (R) to the United States Senate. Former senator Jim DeMint (R) resigned from the Senate after his appointment to become President of The Heritage Foundation[...]
2013: What’s On and Off the Radar?
Although 2013 will be relatively quiet compared to the intensity and chaos of 2012, there are many events that will occur impacting policy and elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016. For an overview of moments that are flying both over and under the radar in 2013, view the graphic below. To see what’s “on the radar”, check out the dates in Blue, and to see what’s “under the radar” see the dates in Red.
Decisions Are Upon Us
“I Have a Voice”
President Barack Obama, our first black President is being sworn in again at the United States Capitol today. If that’s not a dream come true for some, especially those who attended the Freedom March and were alive to witness MLK Jr. “telling them about the dream”, I don’t know what is[...]
Swearing In Day – 98 New Faces
The 113th Congress convenes today for the first time, and begins what will undoubtedly be a tumultuous two years in office. Although party control in both Congressional chambers was unaltered after November’s election, the results of what happened were not status quo. Nearly 100 new faces are being sworn in today making this one of the youngest and most diverse Congresses in history. Below is a profile of the new 113th Congress[...]
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