GEORGIA: “Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel announced her campaign for Senate on Friday morning, as the state’s Republican convention was set to kick off in Athens,” Roll Call writes.
The Democratic abortion-rights group Emily’s List has announced it has put six additional women on its “list” of top-shelf candidates for the 2014 cycle: Ann Callis (IL-13), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Jessica Ehrlich (FL-13), Gwen Graham (FL-02), Eloise Reyes (CA-31), and Martha Robertson (NY-23).
VIRGINIA: Quinnipiac has Terry McAuliffe (D) up 43%-38% over Ken Cuccinelli (R). Cuccinelli gets a 47% job approval rating.
Hillary Clinton beats Marco Rubio in the poll in a 2016 matchup 51%-38%.
NEW JERSEY: Cory Booker won’t walk to the Democratic nomination for Senate. Rep. Frank Pallone is running and slammed Booker yesterday. He accused him of “shirking his responsibilities” as mayor of Newark “accusing the city of failing to fund its obligations to the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, a non-profit based in New Brunswick that helps house and treat patients with HIV/AIDS. Booker administration officials said they have not received the May 10 letter which was obtained by The Star-Ledger, but said the funding process is following its normal course.”
NEW YORK: The New York Daily News reports that former Rep. Anthony Weiner “is preparing to jump into the race, possibly as soon as next week. … At least two people close to Weiner have been contacting political operatives to gauge if they would go to battle for him.”
President George W. Bush spoke to Charlie Rose: “I have no desire to spend my post-presidency trying to enhance my standing. … I want to be productive. I want to make a difference in the world and I want to do so without undermining our current president and/or engaging in political debate. Cause if I were out trying to defend myself I’d be right back in the swamp, and I don’t want to be in the swamp.”
Charlie Cook: The political “significance” of the IRS and Benghazi scandals “is more in the eye of the beholder. Liberals and Democrats tend to de-emphasize both affairs, while many conservatives and Republicans think that each rises to the level of impeachment. It will take time to know which end of this ridiculously broad spectrum of assessments proves to be more accurate.”
How to measure, per Cook: “The most objective way to ascertain whether either or both of these stories have “legs” and are beginning to get traction with the public is to watch every Monday afternoon for the release of the Gallup approval rating for the previous week, ending the night before. Although you can look at the Gallup three-day moving average, those have a smaller sample size than the full week of interviewing and tend to be somewhat volatile. As long as Obama’s job approval remains in that 47-to-51-percent range, particularly between 48 and 50 percent, it’s safe to say that neither story is hurting him significantly, at least with the public. If you are going to look at other polls, take a gander at that poll’s “trading range” for Obama over March and April, and see whether it drops below that range.”
Crossroads has been going after Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration on Benghazi. Now, Bridge Project, the 501(c)4 of American Bridge, is going after Karl Rove with this video called, "Karl Rove's Decade of Deception.” It hits on the selling the war in Iraq, Valerie Plame, and more.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Amid roaring chants from supporters and tears from opponents, the state Senate took a historic, final step Monday to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The 37-30 vote came after a failed, last-ditch attempt by opponents to scuttle the measure.”
More: “Minnesota becomes the first Midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage by legislative vote [and the 12th state overall], and the latest victory for those working to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples across the nation. Monday’s action technically repeals a state statute that had prohibited such unions. Gov. Mark Dayton will sign the bill at 5 p.m. Tuesday, on the Capitol steps, kicking off a parade that will take supporters to a massive downtown St. Paul celebration. The law will take effect Aug. 1.”
Roger Simon said John McCain’s use of “emotional” to describe Hillary Clinton’s congressional testimony was “sexist.”
Political Wire: “Pablo Pantoja, who was most recently the State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, changed his voter registration to become a Democrat, according to Florida Nation.” Pantoja wrote: "It doesn't take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.”
FLORIDA: Could Rick Scott actually pick ex-Rep. Allen West as his lieutenant governor?
MASSACHUSETTS: John McCain’s raising money in Boston for Gabriel Gomez (R) May 20.
The Boston Globe: “First deadline passes with 24 in Boston mayoral field.”
NEW YORK: Maggie Haberman reports that Anthony Weiner is hiring staff for a mayoral run.
President Barack Obama repeatedly said during last year's presidential campaign that a partisan "fever" in Washington would break after the 2012 election, but on Monday, he acknowledge it hadn't broken yet.
Almost four months into his second term, the president told Democratic donors at a fundraiser in New York City that the nation's capital is still ensconsed by "hyper-partisanship."
"My thinking was when we beat them in 2012 that might break the fever, and it’s not quite broken yet," Obama said, according to pool reports of his remarks. "But I am persistent. And I am staying at it."
Obama had outlined an agenda heading into his second term headlined by immigration reform, gun control and reaching a wide-reaching fiscal deal with Republicans. So far, immigration reform only seems realistically attainable; a scaled-back version of Obama's gun control proposals was blocked in the Senate. A "grand bargain" on taxes and spending appears out of reach, as well.
Obama told his supporters that he still intended to seek a broad agenda, rather than succumb to the ennui of a lame-duck presidency. That included an allusion to forcing Republicans to pay a price at the polls in 2014 should they continue to block his agenda.
"My intentions over the next 3 ½ years are to govern," he said. "If there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation then I want to make sure there are consequences to that."
Top recruiters at both the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees are making no secret about it: They’re trying to recruit more women to run for House seats in the 2014 midterms.
“We are looking for women in those districts where we believe that we have an opportunity -- either through a retirement, an open seat, or even for a challenge that is a good challenge for us,” said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), one of the recruiters this cycle for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “It really does bring a very complete picture to discussions on the issues.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), the recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says that she is emphasizing to ask women to run, especially those who haven’t before. “It may be true that men stand up and say ‘I want to run.’ Women have to come in a different way,” she said.
Why are women such a focus?
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), the co-chair this cycle of Women LEAD, an arm of the DCCC that’s dedicated to electing more women to the House, explains that women have extra appeal in a political environment where Congress is gridlocked and unpopular.
“I think the public -- they’re looking for problem-solvers and people who can be more conciliatory or compromising … also trustworthy,” said Frankel. “I think that’s why women are more prime candidates. Maybe it’s also because [voters] are not blaming us for how paralyzed the Congress is today.”
Reps. Edwards and Black elaborated on their parties’ efforts to recruit more women in phone interviews. Here is some of what they had to say…
Q: Is the DCCC doing anything specific to recruit women from outside of politics, like you mentioned?
Edwards: We’re looking at the non-profit sector, in the business sector and other areas of the public sector – people who are firefighters, who are teachers. They bring a strong commitment to public service that really lends itself to the kind of responsibilities, the kind of problem-solving that we face in the Congress…. We can’t just continue to look at the traditional lawyers and elected officials as our pipeline for leadership in the 21st century.
Q: A new report by American University says that women are less likely to see themselves as qualified to run for office. What, if anything, are you doing at the DCCC to overcome that?
Edwards: Part of that is because we’ve always thought about people in elected office coming from a particular background, and I think that the more that we broaden that, the more that we can encourage younger women to think about their political ambitions early on -- because they see people who come from a range of different experiences in Congress.
Q: Is there anything different being done this cycle in terms of recruiting more women? Is anything new about female congresswomen mentoring recruits?
Black: I think what’s new about that is that we are utilizing the women that are currently serving. They’re being mentors for these candidates. I don’t know that we’ve been as strong at doing that before. It really is more difficult for a woman to make that decision, because of all of the responsibilities they have at home that they feel so strongly that is their role and their responsibility.
Q: Why do you think that the Republican Party traditionally has struggled to expand its ranks of female lawmakers?
Black: I think part of that is effort. I think it was done in the last election and it is even intensifying in this election. I think we have conservative women who feel a real commitment to their family – not to say that women who serve as Democrats don’t have that – but what I hear is a real struggle, you know, ‘My family needs me. I need to be there.’ I hear that consistently from women. I don’t know that we’ve done a good job in helping them understand that you can do both things and you can do them well.”
Reuters: “The Minnesota Senate is expected to give final approval on Monday to a bill that would make the state the 12th in the United States to allow same-sex couples to marry and only the second in the Midwest. Leaders in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 39-28 majority, have said they believe they have the support to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage. They set a vote for Monday on the measure that members of the state House approved last week."
The state Senate takes it up at noon Monday.
Dan Balz: “Two realities shape the debate over immigration reform: No bill is likely to pass without the expressed support of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), but even Rubio’s endorsement may not be enough to assure passage. For Rubio, the political stakes of both sides of the equation are huge.”
LOS ANGELES: “As Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel crisscrossed Los Angeles in search of support Saturday, many voters wrestled to decide between the two Democrats in this non-partisan race for mayor,” Southern California Public Radioreports, adding, “A poll by the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State LA found 9 percent of likely voters undecided on the mayor’s race. Greuel captured 46 percent support and Garcetti garnered 45 percent – a virtual tie.”
The idea of electing the city’s first woman mayor is intriguing to many residents as well. “ ‘Of course, as a woman, I have to say, a lot of times women get the job done,’ said resident Mary Lee. … The idea of electing the city’s first woman mayor weighs on the mind of Isaac Robinson too. ‘Sometimes, I just feel that we need a woman to take over the city,’ Robinson said. After this year’s city elections, the 15-member city council may have just one-woman member. ‘Our government is lacking in balance,’ he said. ‘It seems undemocratic to me.’ But Robinson, 75, who restores fine art, appreciates Garcetti’s eloquence.”
Los Angelenos will pick its mayor May 21st.
MASSACHUSETTS: “Environmental activists are vowing to do everything they can to help Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Edward Markey in his special election battle with Republican challenger Gabriel Gomez,” AP writes. “During the Democratic primary, environmental groups spent nearly $1.8 million in outside money to help Markey defeat Stephen Lynch. Markey and Lynch had agreed to the so-called People’s Pledge, which discouraged outside groups from launching television, radio or Internet campaign ads. That forced the groups to spend most of their money on organizing and get-out-the-vote efforts. But Gomez has rejected the pledge, allowing environmental and other groups on both sides to pour millions into ads if they want. For many environmental advocates, the most pressing issue is the fate of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which Markey opposes but Gomez supports.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: So much for a Scott Brown New Hampshire comeback. He trails incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a hypothetical matchup 44%-30%, per aDartmouth poll. Shaheen leads all comers.
Since the gun debate, Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s negative rating has gone up 7 points – going from 36%/24% to 37%/31%.
In 2016 politics, Hillary Clinton edges out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 37%-32%, and beats Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by 11 points, 44%-33%. (H/T: Political Wire.)
NEW JERSEY: Maggie Haberman: “Sky-high approval ratings be damned — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is going on air next week with an ad that paints his Democratic rival Barbara Buono as a tax-hiker who is yoked to unpopular former governor Jon Corzine … The spot, which begins running Monday, is part of an $800,000 ad buy over the course of roughly a week, a source tracking the air wars in New Jersey” said.
NEW YORK: According to Page Six, Anthony Weiner shouldn’t expect the Clintons’help or support.
Reid Wilson: “The electorate that turned out in November to give President Obama a second term is nearly as diverse as the U.S. population at large, according to new data released by the Census Bureau this week. But the nation's fastest-growing minority group isn't experiencing the kind of explosive growth of political power that other ethnic groups have felt. And that means Democrats could be leaving millions of votes on the table. Less than half of all eligible Hispanics turned out to vote in 2012, according to the data. Hispanic voters in swing states were more likely to show up at the polls, but the slow pace of growth as a portion of the overall electorate shows Hispanics have yet to flex their political muscle.”
As First Read has pointed out, Hispanics made up 10% of the electorate but are 17% of the overall population.
Politico on Rand Paul in Iowa today: “For all Paul’s success as a media brand and a mobilizer of the conservative grassroots, the Kentucky senator has done relatively little since 2010 to assemble a political machine around his own personality. For now, the Rand Paul project is a high-wire act that works largely without a net.”
The Hill: “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) blasted progressive principles as ‘arrogant and condescending’ Wednesday night in a speech outlining his vision on how to sell modern-day conservatism to voters.”
NEW JERSEY: In an interview to air tonight on Rock Center, NBC’s Brian Williams interviews Chris Christie who calls himself a “damn good Republican.” But he said he would put his state and country before his party.
Said Christie: I’ll worry about the presidency if and when I ever decide to run for it. But if you’re saying to me, ‘How do I feel as a Republican?’ I’m a damn good Republican and a good conservative Republican who believes in the things that I believe in. … But that does not mean that I would ever put party before my state or party before my country.”
The Star Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill that would allow early voting at polling places, prompting Democrats to brand it a politically motivated effort to suppress the vote months after Hurricane Sandy exposed vulnerabilities in the state elections system.”
Said Christie: "I support responsible and cost-efficient election reform that increases voter participation because democracy works best when the most people vote. But this bill risks the integrity and orderly administration of our elections by introducing a new voting method and process."
Said State Sen. Nia Gill (D), sponsor of the bill: "The governor now joins other Republican governors who have sought to stifle the vote and limit access to the polls. Once again he is catering to his national base at the expense of New Jersey residents."
VIRGINIA: Beth Reinhard writes on how Terry McAuliffe (D) is having a hard time defining himself in the governor’s race. She notes that not being Ken Cuccinelli (R) may not be enough for McAuliffe to win.
Charlie Cook says forget Mark Sanford, forget Chris Christie and New Jersey, the race to likely have the most political significance is the Virginia governor’s race: “So Virginia has a race that might be illuminating. It is a swing state where moderate and independent voters will have to choose sides; the national political environment may well be a factor in driving them one way or the other. Indeed, the swoon of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds four years ago coincided remarkably closely with the drop in President Obama’s numbers, both in the state and nationally. The race hinted at what was to come the next year when Republicans scored near-biblical gains in the House and a six-seat gain in the Senate. So although the South Carolina special election had some entertainment value, if you want to look for a potential clue about 2014, you’ll have better luck watching Virginia.”
On Thursday, officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced a new program to boost promising new recruits, just as their counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee debuted one to help them defeat Democrats who continue to win in red districts.
Both differ from other candidate fundraising programs in place by both committees -- “Red to Blue” for the DCCC, and “Young Guns” for the NRCC -- which have had mixed success in recent years.
But both highlight problems each committee has been trying to solve: candidate recruitment for Democrats and a handful of moderate Democrats for Republicans who they haven’t been able to knock off.
The DCCC’s “Jumpstart” program will provide early financial, communications and strategic support to top-tier recruits as Democrats try to flip 17 seats to gain control back in the House.
According to a memo from DCCC Executive Director Kelly Ward, candidates named to the program are in high-target races and are “running to put problem-solving ahead of ideology and get results for the middle class families in their districts. Voters are fed up with the partisan ideology and obstructionism of this Republican Congress, and these candidates will offer the antidote.”
Eight Democratic recruits are on the DCCC’s first wave of the program:
-- Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar is running against Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) in California’s 31st District -- the most Democratic district held by a Republican, but one where Aguilar failed to get on the ballot last time with the state’s top-two primary;
--Judge Ann Callis just stepped down from the bench to run against freshman Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) in Illinois’ 13th District -- the only competitive seat in the Land of Lincoln Democrats didn’t flip in 2012.
--Democrats tried with an astronaut in 2012, but they’re turning to farmer and beekeeper Michael Eggman to take on Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) in California’s 10th District that went for Obama by four percentage points in 2012.
--Leon County School official Gwen Graham, daughter of former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), will take on sophomore Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL). Romney won the Tallahassee-based Florida’s 2nd District by six points.
--Wealthy hotel magnate Jim Graves is pursuing a rematch against controversial Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in Minnesota’s 6th District. In 2012, Graves fell short by just over 4,200 votes.
--New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia is running against Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) in the Staten Island-based 11th District that Obama won by four points.
--Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is taking on Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) in Colorado’s 6th District. Obama won the district with 53 percent of the vote, but Coffman narrowly edged his Democratic opponent, 49 percent to 45 percent.
--Former Army Ranger Kevin Strouse is running against Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, a competitive suburban Philadelphia district.
For Republicans, their focus is on seven Democratic incumbents they haven’t been able to knock out of office -- despite presidential nominees winning their districts in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
The NRCC’s new “Red Zone” initiative will have a staff dedicated to targeting these districts, led by regional political director Annie Kelly. Targeted members include Reps. John Barrow (D-GA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Ron Barber (D-AZ), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Collin Peterson (D-MN).
“These members are out-of-touch with the districts they represent, and it’s time they’re held accountable,” said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. “We came very close last cycle to defeating them, falling just a few yards short. We will continue to stay on offense in 2014 and make sure these districts are represented by members who will support the same playbook to strengthen the middle class and create jobs that their constituents do.”
Arms race: “On Wednesday morning, the NRA announced a $25,000 television week-long television ad buy to support Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who’s been under attack by gun control groups on the airwaves and in town halls for her vote on the Senate bill,” Politico reports. “Just hours later, Giffords’ gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, hit back – announcing it raised more than $11 million in its first four months of operation – a staggering figure even in the age of super PACs and big outside money groups.”
National Journal: “Senate Democrats began the 2014 election cycle facing a challenging political landscape, without many promising opportunities to take back Republican seats. And with news that a top recruit in Georgia passed up a campaign for an open seat, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still without a Democratic challenger, there’s a growing possibility Democrats could be playing exclusively on defense in 2014.”
USA Today on Census report: “President Obama won a second term thanks to record high turnout among black voters and the first-ever decline in the number of white voters, a U.S. Census report released Wednesday shows. For the first time, African Americans were more likely to vote than non-Hispanic whites were: 66.2% of eligible blacks voted, compared with 64.1% of whites. Since the Census Bureau began publishing voting data by race in 1968, whites had voted at higher levels than black.”
FLORIDA: Charlie Crist now backs gay marriage despite having supported a gay-marriage ban just in 2006.
MASSACHUSETTS: “A new WBUR poll in Massachusetts shows Rep. Edward Markey (D) leading Gabriel Gomez (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 41% to 35%. Markey's lead expands to eight points, 46% to 38%, when undecided voters leaning toward one candidate or the other are included,” Political Wire writes.
The Boston Globe: “Republican US Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez claimed a $281,500 income tax deduction in 2005 for pledging not to make any visible changes to the facade of his 112-year-old Cohasset home, a concession so valuable that it is classified as a charitable contribution under a federal law designed to protect historic homes. But Gomezand his wife, Sarah, were already barred from making any changes to the exterior of their home under the bylaws of the local Historical Commission, raising the question as to whether their donation — the price of which is based on the loss of value in their real estate— had any monetary worth.”
“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today knocked Republican Senate hopeful Gabriel E. Gomez for saying he was ‘never associated’ with a group on whose behalf he appeared on national television,” the Boston Globe writes. Despite appearing twice on television for the group, Gomez contended yesterday, “As far as OPSEC, I did two interviews for OPSEC. I was never associated with OPSEC. I never donated to OPSEC. I wasn’t part of OPSEC.” And: “I was never connected with them in the first place. I just went on there because we overlapped on that issue about the president taking too much credit and, more importantly, they leaked information that was bad for the unit down there and it put their lives at risk.” The special election is June 25.
SOUTH CAROLINA: USA Today: “Mark Sanford and his ex-wife have settled her complaint that he was trespassing at her South Carolina home, so the newly elected congressman will not have to appear in court on Thursday.”
The Boston Globe: “One of Mitt Romney’s former campaign aides is planning to release a new book next week that is being pitched as an insider’s account that provides ‘an unblinking look at the tactical and strategic miscalculations’ made by the former presidential candidate.
The NewsJournal (Wilmington, Del.): “Delaware became the 11th state Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage after a lengthy debate in the state Senate that saw one lawmaker disclose her longtime same-sex relationship and the surprise support of two senators who could have tipped the outcome the other way. A half-hour after the 12-9 Senate vote, Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law on the main stairs in the lobby of Legislative Hall.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Minnesota House will hold a final floor vote on whether to legalize same-sex marriage Thursday. House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he would not bring the measure up for a floor vote until he was certain it had the votes to pass. The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon after. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is a supporter of same-sex marriage and said he will sign the proposal into law.”
Chris Christie at a press conference yesterday on his weight surgery: "I'm doing it for my long-term health. This is about being healthier for the rest of your life." (Christie, by the way, makes another humorous video – this one with him searching for the fleece he wore in the aftermath of Sandy.)
USA Today: “Christie rejected the idea the weight-loss surgery is a bid to boost his political career as he seeks a second term in November and is frequently mentioned as a 2016 presidential contender. ‘This is a hell of a lot more important to me than running for president,’ he said. … Political analysts said Tuesday they take Christie at his word that the surgery was done for his health, but they acknowledged there could be an upside.”
“A coalition of liberal and environmental groups announced Tuesday that members would stop advertising on Facebook for two weeks to object to the ‘cynical advertising strategy’ of a pro-immigration group linked to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg,” USA Today writes.
Politico: “Mark Zuckerberg is used to being disruptive — but this time it’s in politics and that is making some in the tech world uneasy. The Facebook chief executive’s big foray into politics — with a focus on comprehensive immigration reform — has rattled some tech leaders who worry the Zuckerberg group’s cozy ties with conservative lawmakers are damaging the industry’s image. Usually, tech prefers to stay above the political fray.”
GEORGIA: Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) will not run for the Senate in Georgia, a Democratic operative confirmed to First Read yesterday. The conservative Democrat was perhaps the party’s best shot at winning the open seat to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post: “Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) will not run for the Senate in 2014, he announced Tuesday, ending months of speculation over whether the conservative Democrat would make a bid. … Barrow’s conservative profile would have made him the most attractive Democratic candidate for retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s seat. Now, Democrats will likely turn their attention to Michelle Nunn, another potential candidate. She is the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn.”
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Island Packet headline: “Mark Sanford: The new comeback kid.” “The big victory Tuesday suggests First Congressional District voters cared more about a consistent voice for limited government and no new spending than transgressions that seemed certain to torpedo Sanford’s political career four years ago.”
Shortly after Sanford was declared the winner, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and the DCCC tried to make Sanford the face of the GOP with women. Israel said in a statement, in part: “House Republicans’ outreach to women voters now has Mark Sanford as the face. Republicans now have to defend him and stand with him until Election Day.”
USA Today: “Republican Mark Sanford won South Carolina's congressional special election Tuesday, but the results may not conclude the drama of a disgraced former governor on the outs with his own party.” For example, “On Thursday, however, Sanford will appear in a televised court hearing to answer a charge of trespassing from his former wife. Then he'll head to Washington, where he made few friends during his previous three terms in office bucking the Republican leadership.”
Said political scientist Danielle Vinson of Furman University in Greenville, S.C.: "I don't see him having a lot of trouble if he can just shut his mouth about his private life and stop making an enemy of his ex-wife." If he can't, Vinson says, "the frustration with being a national punch line is pretty high in that district."
That’s the question – can he do that?
To sum it up, here was Sanford the newly and openly religious Sanford in his victory speech, (h/t Political Wire): "I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances. But a God of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth chances because that is the reality of our shared humanity."
VIRGINIA: Jill Lawrence looks at Terry McAuliffe’s potential problem with women voters because of passages in his book that include him “ditching his wife Dorothy while she was in labor, to dash to a party for a Washington Post reporter.” And, Lawrence writes, “The more problematic anecdote to me is one that involves the birth of another baby, in this case a newborn son whom McAuliffe left in the car with Dorothy on the way home from the hospital while he spent 15 minutes at a fundraiser. She was in tears, he writes. How the heck did he think women would react to that?”
On top of that… “Then there’s what McAuliffe told the late writer Marjorie Williams for a profile in Vanity Fair. He said his wife ‘has no idea’ how much money he has, and implied she doesn’t need to know: ‘She’s got a great life. Listen, her credit cards are paid and all that. She knows I do very well.’”
The New York Post reports that Chris Christie had lap band surgery Feb. 16 and checked into a facility for the procedure under a false name. Christie told the Post: “I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years. For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
And Christie says this has nothing to do with running for president. “It’s so much more important than that,” he said. Because of the operation, Christie can’t eat as much, and he says he’s lost about 40 pounds already. “A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full,” he said.
“Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are facing a big obstacle if they seek the White House in 2016 — and it’s not each other,” Politico writes. “State laws could force the two GOP senators into a difficult choice: run for president or run for reelection to the Senate that same year. Because in their home states of Kentucky and Florida, neither Republican can be on the ballot for both offices at the same time.”
HAWAII: EMILY’s List endorsed Colleen Hanabusa in her Senate race against appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D).
IOWA: Can a Ron Paul Republican win statewide in Iowa? The Des Moines Register: “Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker is taking steps to run for the U.S. Senate, saying he would vote only for legislation that’s constitutional and would pattern himself after tea party favorite U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.”
Other Republicans, like state Sen. Joni Ernst, are still considering bids. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is encouraging Ernst to run. Reynolds passed on a bid.
MASSACHUSETTS: The AFL-CIO endorsed Rep. Ed Markey.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Sanford could win Tuesday, Roll Call notes. But political observers are shrugging their shoulders and giving a collective, “So what?”
Charlie Cook: “If not on Tuesday night, then certainly by Wednesday and maybe even through Thursday or beyond, one party will be crowing that its victory in the special election for now-Sen. Tim Scott’s former seat in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District is a sign that it is doing great and will have a successful 2014 midterm election. The other party will be downplaying the national significance of the special election, declaring that the results have nothing whatsoever to do with what happens next year. Mark me down as agreeing with the latter. The voting in South Carolina means nothing other than which side can lay claim to that seat for the rest of this year and next.”
Stu Rothenberg: “When the results are in Tuesday night, the spinning will begin. But while the contest has received plenty of national attention, it now appears that the outcome will be largely devoid of significance."
The State on today’s special election in SC-1: “More than former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s chance at political redemption is riding on the outcome of Tuesday’s special election for the state’s 1st District congressional seat, political observers say. A win for Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch could ignite hopes that S.C. Democrats again can compete against Republicans for congressional seats and statewide offices, and help them lay the groundwork for picking up support among Lowcountry voters in 2014. A loss, some say, could emphasize just how difficult a statewide win for a Democrat will be.”
NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Voters in South Carolina’s first congressional district head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to offer former Gov. Mark Sanford a chance at political redemption, or instead send the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert to Congress.”
Polls are open from 7:00 am ET to 7:00 pm ET. Results will be posted here on the South Carolina State Election Commission site.
Sanford was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was defensive about his personal failings. “I guarantee you’ve made some mistake in your life,” Sanford said to Mika. He said everyone on that set has had some personal failings. But “one offense does not define your life.”
He defended paying the ethics fine. “I think we explain it because it’s explainable,” he contended. He said that half of the fines were because he used business class tickets for legitimate Department of Commerce trips, something he said “was not an anomaly. There was more to the story than met the eye.”
He said he would have voted against the Toomey-Manchin gun background check bill. “I’m a big Second Amendment guy,” he said, adding that what the gun-show loophole is should be defined more clearly. He said a “couple of guys trading guns in the back of a pickup truck” does not qualify in his view.
On immigration, he said he would vote against the Gang of Eight bill: “We can learn from history,” he said, noting that the “last big immigration bill offered amnesty.” He was referring to the 1980s legislation. He added that any immigration reform should “begin with enforcement first before you get to amnesty. I would not support the bill in the present form.”
The bill in its “present form,” however, does not offer amnesty first, as he claims.
TEXAS: Rick Perry says opposing a ban on gay scouts is like supporting slavery? The Dallas Morning News via Political Wire: "Perry, speaking from the library in the Governor's Mansion, referred to a portrait of Sam Houston, whom he called Texas' greatest governor. He told how Houston's principled stand against slavery and Texas' joining the Confederacy cost him his governorship." Said Perry: "That's the type of principled leadership, that's the type of courage that I hope people across this country on this issue of Scouts and keeping the Boy Scouts the kind of organization that it is today. If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will be not as well served, America will not be as well served and Boy Scouts will start on a decline that I don't think will serve this country well as we go into the future."
VIRGINIA: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) gets a 64% approval in the latest Washington Post poll.