The Morning Line: It’s Primary Day (Again)
Voters in five states head to the polls Tuesday for primaries in Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Vermont and a runoff in Oklahoma.
POLITICO’s Charles Mahtesian and Alexander Burns break down the 10 things to watch, including challenges from the right to incumbent Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and John McCain, R-Ariz.
If case you missed it, Gwen Ifill looked at some of the key races in Arizona and Florida on Monday’s NewsHour with Susan MacManus of the University of South Florida and Bruce Merrill of Arizona State University.
Jonathan Martin of POLITICO takes a look at the impact (or lack thereof) that money has had when it comes to the campaigns of two wealthy Florida businessmen in both the Republican gubernatorial and Democratic Senate primaries.
Republican candidate Rick Scott, a multimillionaire hospital executive, and Jeff Greene, a billionaire real estate investor, have together spent more than $60 million of their own money, but as Martin notes:
“[W]hile their cash won them instant viability, their baggage-laden backgrounds, lack of identity in the state, rookie mistakes on the stump, establishment opposition and Florida’s ferocious press corps have together proved as important as what the pros call ‘paid media’ — and rendered them likely losers to opponents with traditional political backgrounds who spent far less money.”
The Miami Herald reports on the record number of early voters and tracks the last-minute stops by various candidates.
John Frank of The St. Petersburg Times, meanwhile, explains why Florida is poised to buck this year’s anti-establishment wave.
POLITICS OF STEM CELL RESEARCH
Tuesday morning might be one of those mornings when the folks who work in the West Wing wake up and say, “Can’t we catch just one break?”
It’s a question many of them have been asking with greater frequency of late.
The Obama Administration suffered a significant setback in federal court Monday when a judge blocked the president’s 2009 executive order aimed at increasing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
U.S. Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth’s ruling invalidates the Justice Department’s argument that federal monies are spent on the stem cell research but have no part in the destroying of the embryos in order to conduct that research.
A spokeswoman for DOJ says the department is reviewing the decision.
The reemergence of the embryonic stem cell research debate comes at a time when social issues such as abortion and same sex marriage have taken a back seat, politically, to economic issues such as job creation, taxes, government spending and the country’s growing debt.
It’s unlikely that stem cell research will play a role in this midterm election season the way it did key 2006 contests, including the Missouri and Maryland senate races and the Wisconsin gubernatorial race.
Partisans on both sides of the embryonic stem cell research debate will, no doubt, use Monday’s court ruling to drum up supporters, but the impact in this political season is likely to be muted.
SPEAKER BOEHNER PREVIEW
House Republicans and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel agree on at least one key principle: Midterm elections in a change environment are 80 percent referendum on the party in charge and 20 percent response to a prescriptive positive vision for the future presented by the out party.
It was a credo of Emanuel’s when he helped engineer the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 and is now wholly endorsed by the Republican leadership seeking to overturn those results.
In what may be an early hint of how Republicans plan to handle the 20 percent side of that equation, House Minority Leader John Boehner addressed the City Club of Cleveland on Tuesday morning to lay out some economic policy he would try to implement should he emerge Speaker of the House at the start of the 112th Congress in January.
“Boehner will discuss the ‘America Speaking Out’ listening project and better solutions to end ongoing economic uncertainty, cut Washington spending, and get people working again,” says the release from his office.
The minority leader is also expected to ratchet up the rhetoric. “President Obama should ask for — and accept — the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary [Timothy] Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council,” Boehner is expected to say according to his prepared remarks obtained by the Morning Line.
Democrats have spent much of the last 24 hours bracketing Boehner’s speech, including this early morning blog post on Tuesday from White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer:
“Today, Ohioans will hear the Minority Leader’s support for the same old failed economic policies that steered our economy into the ditch that we’re just now beginning to climb out of. We cannot afford a return to the past,” writes Pfeiffer.
We’re likely to see the most engagement from Boehner and the White House on at least one key economic policy of the past: the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy that President Obama wants to let expire at the end of this year and that Republicans are eager to extend.
It’s unclear how, and more importantly when, the Bush tax cut debate will play out legislatively in Congress, but it’s quite clear that both sides plan on using those tax cuts as a key plank in the arguments they make to voters this fall.
Democrats will continue to paint Republicans as just wanting to take care of the country’s top 2 percent earners with no regard for the middle class or the increase in the deficit required to fund the continued tax cuts. Republicans will charge Democrats with implementing the single largest tax increase in history, negatively impacting small businesses as the economy is still wheezing.
In August 2009, President Obama told NBC News, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession. . . We have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession.”
That begs the question as to whether Mr. Obama still sees the country in a recession. It also challenges Democrats to explain to the country how allowing these tax cuts to expire is not a massive tax increase.