Tags: Mick Mulvaney

The Contenders to Replace DeMint


Jim DeMint’s sudden resignation from the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation makes a lot of sense for him (the preeminent position at one of, if not the, most preeminent conservative think tanks, his to enjoy for perhaps decades) and a lot of sense for the organization.

But there’s reason for a lot of conservatives to feel disappointed. There’s been an accusation – sometimes fair, sometimes not – that some conservative lawmakers want to take a pure and uncompromising stance, but who prefer to do so safely from the metaphorical sidelines. Conservatives complain that they never get one of their own in leadership in the House or Senate, but any conservative who did would run the risk of acknowledging the hard truth of the job: sometimes the best deal you can get is half a loaf. And once you became the guy who negotiated the “half a loaf” deal, you lose your “true conservative” street cred.

I’m hearing some folks say DeMint will be able to fight for his causes better at Heritage than from within the U.S. Senate, and that strikes me as debatable. He’s going from a position where he can influence the writing of legislation to a position where he can influence the writing of white papers. Is he really going to have more success persuading lawmakers as a head of a think tank – even one as respected and well-regarded as Heritage – than as a colleague?

In the meantime, this sets up a free-for-all in the sharp-elbowed world of South Carolina Republican politics, and greatly lessens the chance of a serious conservative challenge to Lindsey Graham.

Governor Nikki Haley is going to have a lot of options to choose from in the coming days or weeks:

  • Congressman Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in Congress starting in January 2013. CNN is reporting that DeMint has indicated he would prefer Scott as his successor.
  • Congressman Mick Mulvaney, a Tea Party favorite who pulled off an upset victory over longtime incumbent Democrat John Spratt in 2010.
  • Congressman Trey Gowdy, who beat incumbent Bob Inglis in the 2010 primary in his district, who has proven a tenacious fighter on the Judiciary Committee and Government Reform Committee and sometimes feuded with the House Republican leadership.
  • Former State Attorney General Henry McMaster, a former U.S. Attorney under Ronald Reagan who ran for governor against Haley in 2010 and endorsed her in the runoff.
  • State Sen. Tom Davis, popular in his Low Country district and once frequently-mentioned as a possible challenger to Graham; surprised some Republicans by backing Ron Paul in the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
  • State Attorney General Alan Wilson, the son of Rep. Joe Wilson. The younger Wilson was just elected in 2010 to a four-year term, and he may not be eager to leave so soon.

Rep. Joe Wilson has been asked about running for statewide office many times and indicated he’s happy with his role in the House.

Keep in mind that any of the above figured who are not picked as DeMint’s interim successor could very well challenge the picked successor or Graham in the 2014 primaries.

I can’t begrudge DeMint or Heritage this decision, but a lot of headaches are going to flow forth from this…

Tags: Henry McMaster , Jim DeMint , Lindsey Graham , Mick Mulvaney , Tim Scott , Republican National Convention , Trey Gowdy

Mick for Rick!


In the first Morning Jolt of the week, a look at Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa’s fascinating linguistic choices while introducing the president on Labor Day, more promises of infrastructure spending, and . . .

In South Carolina, Mick Likes Rick

Scott Rasmussen offers us some data indicating that you can snub the Ames Straw Poll and not only live to tell the tale, but prosper in the Hawkeye State after all: “Confirming a surge seen in polling across the nation, Texas Governor Rick Perry has moved into first place among Republican voters in Iowa, host state to the first-in-the-nation caucus early next year. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of those likely to participate in the Iowa GOP Caucus shows that Perry is the first choice for 29%. Essentially tied for second are Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 18% and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 17%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 14% of the vote, and nobody else currently reaches the five percent (5%) mark.”

Meanwhile in South Carolina, Perry had a bit more good news: “U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina is backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid and will advise the Republican on economic issues. Mulvaney said Monday he would join Perry’s White House bid and says Perry has a record that has cut spending and has balanced budgets. Mulvaney announced his support after a tea party-backed forum that Perry skipped to tend to wildfires raging in his home state.”

The Scared Monkeys conclude, “Nationally, Rick Perry has a near double digit lead over his GOP Presidential primary challengers; however, in the primaries its all about how candidates do in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina. Obviously, Romney leads in NH, he better. If you are the former governor of a sister New England state, if Romney does not win NH, he is finished. However, what if Perry comes in second in the Granite state primaries, wins Iowa as he leads in to the above poll and runs away with the South Carolina primary . . . Perry is in a great spot at this point. Let’s see how he does in this week’s GOP Presidential primary debate.”

Ah, yes, that debate. If you step into a debate the frontrunner, you can expect everybody’s attention and all of your rivals’ fire coming at you. Also, while most Republicans have probably caught a few words or a quick interview of Perry, the upcoming debate will probably be their first sustained exposure to the governor. The pressure’s on.

McClatchy newspapers reports: “Perry has brushed up on research, met with experts and gone through at least one mock debate to prep for Wednesday’s prime-time match-up at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., according to his campaign team . . . Perry, who entered the race on Aug. 13, has campaigned heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — states that hold early contests — by touting Texas’ robust economic growth, denouncing intrusive federal policies and assailing Obama’s economic track record. Judging from his performance in the polls, the message is resonating with a large swath of voters, and Perry will presumably hope to further spotlight those themes during his coming-out debate in California . . . Nevertheless, the tightly scripted debate format will also force Perry to constrict his talking points while moderators and Republican rivals exploit possible weaknesses. Rival campaign operations have conducted extensive opposition research into Perry’s nearly 11-year record as Texas’s longest serving governor, the fruits of which may become more evident Wednesday night.

One more thought: between Rick, Katy, and Tyler, this is clearly the year of Perry. Somewhere, Luke, Matthew, and William the Refrigerator are looking around and saying, “Yes, this is a good year for a comeback.”

I wonder who played Perry’s rivals in that mock debate . . .

Tags: Mick Mulvaney , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

He Must Be One of Those Shy 14-Term Incumbents


Oh, this screams confidence: The chairman of the House Budget Committee, incumbent Democrat John Spratt of South Carolina, is perfectly willing to debate . . . as long as there are no cameras.

This leads to interesting slogans, though: Mick Mulvaney: Because he’s not hiding from voters.

Tags: John Spratt , Mick Mulvaney

Apparently John Spratt Doesn’t Care For About 40 Percent of His Constituents


South Carolina Democrat John Spratt has a communications director who appears to be terrible at communication:

“If Osama bin Laden ran in this district as a Republican, he would get 38 to 40 percent of the vote in any election year,” says Wayne Wingate, Spratt’s communications director, as he walks alongside the congressman at the festival. “This is a very Republican district. So you’ve got that plus this tea party angst against any incumbent in the world right now.”

Everyone says things they regret, but Wayne Wingate had better retract that and would be wise to apologize. Of course it’s hyperbole, but the literal meaning of the words suggests that about 40 percent of the congressman’s constituents are so blinded by partisanship they would support a mass murderer of Americans if he had the right party affiliation.

UPDATE: After his party nominated Alvin Greene, no South Carolina Democrat should ever mock a South Carolina Republican for being a voter base of uninformed, unthinking partisans.

Tags: John Spratt , Mick Mulvaney

The Things You Learn From a Roomful of House GOP Candidates


Things I learned at a recent meeting of the “Young Guns” at the National Republican Congressional Committee:

  • In West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin, who is likely to be the Democrats’ nominee in the race for the Senate, cannot use the $140,000 left in his gubernatorial campaign fund in a Senate campaign. So he’s effectively starting from scratch. His most likely rival, Republican John Raese, ran against Robert Byrd in 2006 and spent $1.5 million of his own fortune. Manchin is still a favorite, but this is a complication.
  • Andy Barr’s House race in Kentucky will probably be the first one called on election night; polls in Kentucky close at 6 p.m. Eastern. If Barr beats three-term incumbent Ben Chandler, it will be an early indicator of a good night for the GOP.
  • A sleeper issue in Arkansas’s 1st congressional district: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is remapping flood zones, and dramatically expanding the number of counties in this district that are defined as within a flood zone. Homeowners in the expanded zone will have to purchase FEMA-approved flood insurance, at a cost of $2,000 per year. Republican Rick Crawford vehemently opposes the expansion; he accuses Democrat Chad Causey of not having a clear position on the FEMA plan.
  • In Illinois, Randy Hultgren wonders where his opponent, incumbent Democrat Bill Foster, is. He says Foster events are rarely publicized ahead of time, and he rarely if ever does traditional “town hall” meetings. There’s even speculation that Foster doesn’t come back to the district that often; an entire 30 minutes from O’Hare, it’s not like it’s hard to get to from Washington. 
  • Kristi Noem’s early success running in South Dakota’s at-large district against incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has prompted the DCCC to purchase $500,000 in air time in the final two weeks before Election Day. That’s a phenomenal amount of money to spend on one of the least expensive states in the country; a half-million buys a lot of air time in South Dakota.
  • Mick Mulvaney, running against John Spratt in South Carolina, just wants to keep the spending race reasonably close. “If I have enough resources to get my message out, it doesn’t matter how much he has to get his message out.”
  • Plenty of Republicans from districts that McCain won handily — like David McKinley in West Virginia’s 1st district — joked that they would love to see President Obama appear on behalf of their Democratic rivals. But Keith Fimian, running against Democrat Gerry Connolly in northern Virginia’s suburban district, said the same thing. He noted that Obama won the district handily in 2008, but then the GOP’s Bob McDonnell won 55 percent in this district in 2009. This year, Connolly won’t have that helpful Obama wave or any top-of-the-ticket help; this year, he is the top of the ticket.

Tags: Andy Barr , David McKinley , Joe Manchin , Keith Fimian , Kristi Noem , Mick Mulvaney , Randy Hultgren , Rick Crawford

Quite a Few GOP Challengers Are a Bit Cash-Poor Compared to Their Rivals


Quarterly fundraising numbers are coming out in dribs and drabs.

My initial assessment is that a lot of Republican campaigns are at least mildly underfunded, and in some cases, quite underfunded. I’m sure this comment will bring a lot of campaigns to my e-mailbox and phone, saying, “No, no, we’re doing fine! We’re comfortable where we are! But send some cash anyway!” Of course, money is far from the most important factor in a campaign.

There are some GOP challengers who are doing fantastic.

In Florida, Marco Rubio has had two phenomenal quarters and has outraised Charlie Crist this past quarter; he still has a cash-on-hand disadvantage, although I suspect that will narrow further. In Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey has proven a throughly effective fundraiser — I suspect it’s because I keep seeing his ads on NRO — and has twice as much cash on hand as Joe Sestak. In Nevada, Sharron Angle is guaranteed to be outspent, but with that caveat, she’s actually doing pretty well, raising $2.6 million in a quarter. Her cash-on-hand disadvantage is still $1.8 million to $9 million.

Then there’s the North Carolina phenom Ilario Pantano, who’s outraising a longtime incumbent almost 2 to 1:

For the quarter, the Pantano campaign raised $211,720 compared to $114,119 for Congressman McIntyre. Pantano raised over $100,000 from supporters in the 7th District and outraised McIntyre by a better than 5 to 1 margin in the district. Since entering the race on January 27th, Pantano has raised $320,930. Over that same time period, McIntyre has only raised $213,243.

So which GOP candidates are looking a bit low on cash after this quarter?

Mike Kelly looks like he has the skills to be a strong challenger in Pennsylvania’s 3rd district. It’s not a terribly expensive district, but a 10-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage for incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper is ominous.

In the neighboring 4th district, Jason Altmire is on everybody’s list of vulnerable Democrats to watch, but GOP challenger Keith Rothfus has to make up a 7-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

In Pennsylvania’s 8th district, I have little doubt that Mike Fitzpatrick will give incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy a tough challenge, but he’s still looking at a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

And in the 10th district, Tom Marino has only about $11,000 on hand, going up against Chris Carney, another incumbent who looks beatable under the right circumstances.

In West Virginia’s 3rd district, Elliot “Spike” Maynard appears positioned to give Nick Rahall a stronger-than-usual push, but it will be tough to overcome a 15-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage.

Close to my neck of the woods, an expensive, tough primary left Republican Keith Fimian with about $271,000 on hand, while incumbent Democrat Gerry Connolly has more than $1.2 million. I actually think Morgan Griffith has a terrific shot against incumbent Rick Boucher in Virginia’s 9th district, but Boucher’s sitting on a stockpile of $2 million.

In North Carolina’s 2nd district, Renee Ellmers is a strong candidate, but she’s still financially outgunned against Bob “Who are you?” Etheridge. I can’t believe Jeff Miller, the Republican running against Heath Shuler in North Carolina’s deeply conservative 11th district, is facing a 21-to-1 cash-on-hand disadvantage.

When you run against the House Budget Committee chairman, you’re probably going to be outspent, but Mick Mulvaney is at roughly a 3-to-1 disadvantage against John Spratt in South Carolina’s 5th district.

Mind you, this is just perusing the filings for East Coast states that have had their primaries already. As I said, money isn’t everything, and some of these candidates will be able to count on help from party committees and independent groups that prefer them over their rivals. But a year where the atmosphere is fantastic for the GOP is not yet translating to great finances for every GOP candidate. Of course, perhaps it’s hard to raise money in this economy. (Perhaps this is all a brilliant gambit by President Obama and congressional Democrats: mismanage the economy so badly that no opponent can raise any money!)

Some may interpret this post as a “hey, give to these candidates” appeal. Nope, my job is not to tell you where to send your money — er, besides subscribing to National Review, helping during our pledge drive, going on the cruise, and advertising on the site and in the magazine — but if you do want to donate to your preferred candidate, do so. But I actually think volunteering for a campaign can be more effective; money can buy things, but volunteers can do things.

Tags: Ilario Pantano , Keith Fimian , Mick Mulvaney , Mike Fitzpatrick , Mike Kelly , Renee Ellmers , Spike Maynard , Tom Marino

This Cycle’s Most Vulnerable Longtime House Democrat: John Spratt?


I chatted with a Washington Republican who’s watching the House races closely, and asked whether there were any signs of old-guard House Democrats from deeply conservative, deeply Republican districts getting knocked off this cycle — incumbents like Chet Edwards in Texas, Gene Taylor in Mississippi, Dan Boren in Oklahoma.

He said that all three could be considered potentially beatable this year, but the one that jumped out most to him was 14-term incumbent John Spratt of South Carolina, who represents an R+7 district and who faces a strong challenge from Mick Mulvaney. The GOP challenger released an internal poll showing him trailing by only two percentage points.

“You saw the Democracy Corps poll which showed independents turning against the Democrats and their vote becoming more of a protest vote,
anti-Washington and anti-incumbent,” the Washington Republican said. “The question is, does that mature into an anti-Democrat vote? Is it regional? . . . Voter intensity is driven by voter anger. If it turns into, ‘I don’t care who is on the ballot, I’m going to send a message, this country is going in the wrong direction,’ then guys like Boren would be really in trouble. . . . If a guy like John Spratt goes down, don’t be surprised to see a lot of other Democrats go down, too.”

Then again, Spratt can always try to ride the coattails of Alvin Greene.

Tags: John Spratt , Mick Mulvaney

John Spratt May Not Want to Watch Cable This Coming Week


The NRCC will be running this ad on cable for one week in the Charlotte, Columbia, and Florence/Myrtle Beach markets, trying to reach all corners of John Spratt’s 5th congressional district in South Carolina.

I’ll bet Mick Mulvaney is appreciative.

Tags: John Spratt , Mick Mulvaney



In South Carolina’s 5th congressional district, a new poll shows Republican Mick Mulvaney within the margin of error of incumbent Democrat John Spratt.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote:

John Spratt, South Carolina: Spratt has had health problems, this is a GOP-heavy state, and a vote for the health-care bill put Spratt’s reelection much more at risk this year than it was in previous cycles. A Public Policy Polling survey showed Spratt in surprisingly good shape, but challenger Mick Mulvaney will do everything possible to tie Spratt to Pelosi in a R+7 district.

Tags: John Spratt , Mick Mulvaney

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