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Tags: House of Representatives

Time for the House to Vote on Ebola Travel Restrictions



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Last week 27 Congressional lawmakers, including three Democrats, wrote a letter asking the president to direct the CDC, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol and other relevant agenciesto begin “more active screening of travelers from affected countries in West Africa.”

In addition, the letter urged Obama to “consider a possible quarantine for anyone who has traveled to the affected countries during the dormancy period, aside from responsible health and military personnel who have been sent there to fight the disease.” In addition, “we ask the State Department to impose a travel ban and restrict travel visas issued to citizens of the West African countries experiencing this epidemic, until such countries have defeated the epidemic. Such a ban should be instituted by suspending earlier-issued visas until further notice, halting the issuance of such visas, and denying entry to the nationals of such counties upon presentation of a passport from those countries at our ports of entry.”

The current approach isn’t working. We can’t get Americans to honor their own restrictions; why are we so certain that citizens of other countries are going to honor their restrictions? In the past two days, we’ve seen an NBC News medical correspondent break a quarantine because she wanted to go out for soup and one of the medical personnel who treated the initial case in Dallas, who also contracted Ebola, fly to Cleveland and back.

Why not reconvene the U.S. House of Representatives and pass either legislation or a “sense of the House resolution” calling for the administration to impose these new travel restrictions? Yes, members are out on the campaign trail right now, but for most, this is probably the best use of their time.

Get back to Washington, take the vote, see if the Senate does the same and see how the administration responds.

Forget your political opponent for a bit and think about this opponent.

Tags: Ebola , House of Representatives

Wife of Kissing Congressman Helps Bail Out Leaking Campaign



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Congressman Vance McAllister, the Republican from Louisiana’s Fifth District who was caught soul-kissing a staffer on a leaked surveillance video in April, is getting support from his wife in a new video. But polling in the district suggests that marital support may not be enough for a campaign that was severely damaged by the scandal.

McAllister praises his spouse as a “Christian wife” in the new spot, for which the campaign has made a $75,000 media purchase. “I’m blessed to have a husband that owns up to his mistakes, never gives up, always fighting for the good people of Louisiana,” Kelly McAllister tells viewers in a video punctuated by meaningful gazes. Although the McAllisters appear compatible in the clip, the congressman — who announced that he would not seek reelection after the scandal, only to change his mind a few weeks later — is no longer the frontrunner in the race, according to the most recent poll of Fifth District voters by the Glascock Group.

McAllister won 60 percent of the vote in a 2013 special election, but his 2014 campaign is floundering. He’s facing six Republican challengers — including a member of the Robertson family of Duck Dynasty fame — a Libertarian, a Green and Democratic mayor of Monroe Jamie Mayo. McAllister took 20 percent in Glascock’s poll early last week, behind Alto-based family physician Ralph Abraham with 22 percent. Although Zach Dasher — the nephew of Phil Robertson — took only 7 percent, McAllister is still hurting from his public rupture with the Robertsons, who had previously endorsed McAllister but turned sharply against him in the wake of the kissing scandal.

Despite these troubles, Glascock Group founder and managing partner Darrell Glascock tells National Review Online that the most important recent damage to McAllister was the entrance into the race of Clyde Holloway of Forest Hill. Although Holloway, Louisiana’s public service commissioner, is polling only 9 percent, most of that seems to have been peeled off from McAllister. 

“Vance had been running in at least the 30s every poll I’ve done,” Glascock tells NRO. “He wasn’t doing real well, but he had enough hard support to be in the runoff. After Clyde got in he dropped to 20. When we looked at Clyde’s voters, at their first and second choices, it looked like 90 percent of it was coming from Vance. So with Vance at 20, that meant Dr. Abraham at 22 took over the lead. Dr. Abraham’s support, rather than coming just from the Monroe region in the north or from the Alexandria region in the south, seems to be pretty widespread throughout the district. Prior to Clyde’s coming into the race it looked like anybody who got over 20 might get in a runoff with McAllister. But now McAllister may be in that pocket himself.”

McAllister’s campaign also appears to be less well funded than some of his competitors’ efforts, with Abraham and Dasher both enjoying substantial self-funding capacity. The slide in McAllisters’s finances is a “direct result of his little escapade,” Glascock says. “At that point the Republican Party in Washington dropped him and said they weren’t going to raise any money for him. The Republican Party in Louisiana said they weren’t going to raise any money for him. And the Duck boys said they weren’t going to raise any money for him.”

Baton Rouge consultant Roy Fletcher tells the New Orleans Times-Picayune the new ad could be effective if it persuades voters that McAllister’s wife has forgiven him, but he adds, “Getting forgiveness and getting re-elected are two different things.”

Tags: Louisiana , Scandals , House of Representatives

Another Assessment Pointing to a GOP House Majority in 2015



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The election-watchers over at the liberal blog Daily Kos take a look at the 71 U.S. House of Representatives races they deem most likely to be competitive in 2014. Their conclusion isn’t too different from my assessment last week that the open-seat races are occurring in districts friendlier to the GOP.

They rate two GOP-held seats as “lean Democrat”: California’s 31st district, currently represented by Gary Miller, and the open-seat race in Florida’s 13th district, where longtime congressman Bill Young passed away recently.

They also rate two GOP-held seats as “toss up”: Colorado’s 6th district, currently represented by Mike Coffman, and the open-seat race in Iowa’s 3rd district, where Representative Tom Latham is retiring. Eight Democrat-held seats are rated as toss-ups.

Nine GOP-held seats are rated “lean Republican,” and 21 GOP-held seats are rated “likely Republican.”

They rate two seats currently held by Democrats as “safe Republican”; the retirements of Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th district and Jim Matheson in Utah’s 4th district effectively ended Democrats’ hopes in those heavily GOP-leaning districts.

In short, barring some dramatic change in the nation’s mood, the makeup of the House in January 2015 probably won’t look all that different than it does today, with Republicans holding 233 seats and Democrats holding 200. (Two seats are currently vacant.)

Tags: House of Representatives , House Republicans

The 2014 House Retirement Scorecard: Better Districts for GOP



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Would you rather have fewer members of your party retiring, or more members of the other party retiring in swing districts?

At this point, eight House Democrats and 17 House Republicans are retiring at the end of their 2014 terms or aiming to win higher office. Out of those eight Democrats, two are in heavily Republican districts and two are in what most would consider swing or near-swing districts. Of the 17 House Republicans retiring, none of the open-seat races are in districts that favor Democrats, but four are in what most would consider swing districts.

Democrats:

Hawaii’s 1st congressional district: Incumbent Colleen Hanabusa is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+18.

Iowa’s 1st congressional district: Incumbent Bruce Braley is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+5.

Maine’s 2nd congressional district: Incumbent Mike Michaud is running for governor of Maine. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+2.

Michigan’s 14th congressional district: Incumbent Gary Peters is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+29.

New York’s 4th congressional district: Incumbent Carolyn McCarthy is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+3.

North Carolina’s 7th congressional district: Incumbent Mike McIntyre is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+12.

Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district: Incumbent Allyson Schwartz is running for governor of Pennsylvania. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: D+13.

Utah’s 4th congressional district: Incumbent Jim Matheson is retiring and says he may someday run for governor or Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+16.

While nothing is guaranteed, the North Carolina and Utah seats look like easy lay-ups for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Maine and New York seats could be won under the right circumstances.

Republicans:

Alabama’s 6th congressional district: Incumbent Spencer Bachus is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+28.

Arkansas’s 2nd congressional district: Incumbent Tim Griffin is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+8.

Arkansas’s 4th congressional district: Incumbent Tom Cotton is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+15.

California’s 45th congressional district: Incumbent John Campbell III is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+7.

Georgia’s 1st congressional district: Incumbent Jack Kingston is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+9.

Georgia’s 10th congressional district: Incumbent Paul Broun is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+14.

Georgia’s 11th congressional district: Incumbent Phil Gingrey is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+19.

Iowa’s 3rd congressional district: Incumbent Tom Latham is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: Even.

Louisiana’s 6th congressional district: Incumbent Bill Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+21.

Minnesota’s 6th congressional district: Incumbent Michele Bachmann is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+10.

Montana’s at-large congressional district: Incumbent Steve Daines is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+7.

New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district: Incumbent Jon Runyan is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+1.

North Carolina’s 6th congressional district: Incumbent Howard Coble is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+10.

Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district: Incumbent Jim Gerlach is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+2.

Texas’s 36th congressional district: Incumbent Steve Stockman is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+25.

Virginia’s 10th congressional district: Incumbent Frank Wolf is retiring. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+2.

West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district: Incumbent Shelley Moore Capito is running for the U.S. Senate. District’s score in the Cook Partisan Voting Index: R+11.

Undoubtedly, Democrats will feel good about their chances of winning the open-seat races in Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but at this point, none of those seats look like “easy lay-ups,” like Utah’s 4th district or North Carolina’s 7th district.

Tags: House of Representatives , NRCC , DCCC

Time for Republicans to Experiment in Getting Out the Vote



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

It’s Time for Republicans to Experiment in Getting Out the Vote

One of the recurring lines I’ve heard in my “where do Republicans/conservatives go from here” conversations is, “Why don’t the [Koch Brothers/Sheldon Adelson/wealthy GOP donors] take all the money they wasted on SuperPAC ads last year and this cycle spend it on [their preferred idea].”

Now, sometimes “[their preferred idea]” is a good one, sometimes it sounds like a bad one, and oftentimes we don’t really know if it’s a good one or a bad one, because it either hasn’t been tried, or it hasn’t been tried on the scale that the person is envisioning.

But usually the idea requires some massive investment of millions of dollars, and the speaker usually wants to be in charge of the budget for this multi-million project.

Now, there have to be some ideas out there that can be implemented without the support of a Koch brother or a Sheldon Adelson, ones that can be implemented by the grassroots. Because if our comeback is entirely dependent upon the wealthiest guys making the right choice when it comes to which political activity they want to finance, we’re in trouble.

The first congressional contest of this year is the special U.S. House election for Illinois’ 2nd congressional district in Chicago and a portion of its southern suburbs on April 9.

The district represents a steep challenge for Republicans; the district gave 90 percent of its vote to Barack Obama in 2008 and was until recently represented by Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., who managed to easily win reelection in 2012 even though he was under criminal investigation and on medical leave. The district scores a D+32 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index, it does have some less heavily Democratic sections, stretching from 53rd Street on the city’s South Side through the south suburbs of Chicago, all the way to Kankakee County.

There are five Republicans running; they’re all relatively unknown. Breitbart’s Rebel Pundit has talked to Paul McKinley and Dr. Eric Wallace. Earlier this month I spoke to the one candidate who has something of a media presence, syndicated radio commentator Lenny McAllister.

I don’t know if this guy is going to win the primary; and I have no illusions at the near-miracle it would take for the Republicans to win this seat. But every Republican who’s depressed by seeing the results of the November election agrees that our party has to get better at getting out the vote, in friendly districts, unfriendly districts, and everywhere in between. This is our first opportunity, and we have a few things going for us: A Democratic primary with 17 (!) candidates, and the low turnout of a special election. (When Rahm Emanuel left to become White House Chief of Staff, there was an open-seat race in another corner of Chicago in 2009. Total turnout: About 41,000 votes, with the winner claiming about 31,000. Rahm Emanuel himself didn’t vote in it, saying he forgot to file for an absentee ballot.) In November’s House race, with Jackson Jr. on the ballot, 67,396 voted for the Republican candidate, Brian Woodworth. How many of those 67,000 can Republicans get out to vote on April 9?

The low chances of success in this contest might actually be liberating. Suppose the Republicans in this district try an idea that backfires terribly; it’s not like a mistake like that would botch a seat we should have won. If it doesn’t work, we scratch it off the list and try another one. This is the time to experiment and try new things. This year we have two more special elections in not-terribly-competitive districts, the South Carolina first district seat on May 7, and the Missouri eighth district seat sometime in the spring (the date isn’t set yet). Then we have the bigger fish, the Massachusetts special Senate election (date to be determined, sometime in late spring, but perhaps as late as around July 4) and this November’s gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia.

But note that these ideas are unlikely to come from the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Governors Association, or the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It’s not that there are bad guys running those groups (although I know some of you disagree). It’s that they’re big institutions with large risks for putting resources – financial, time, manpower – into untested ideas. (You know the old anecdote – any CEO who needs an outside consultant goes with the biggest name, because they know they’ll never get grief for making the safe pick. If you hire somebody who’s relatively unknown, you look like a genius if it works out but you look like a fool if he falls flat on his face. You see the same phenomenon with the National Football League’s annual coaching carousel.)

Actions by the big party committees are guaranteed to attract scrutiny. If the NRCC tries some new strategy for direct mail or organizing volunteers online and it flops, you’ll hear the same mockery from the mainstream media about those hapless Republicans, and more grumbling from the grassroots, outside critics sneering they’re the gang who can’t shoot straight, etc. The grassroots organizers within these particular districts have a lot more leeway to try new ideas.

Patrick Ruffini continues his fascinating dissection of Obama’s successful 2012 campaign, examining the “legacy report” of the campaign:

“Three out of five team leaders and one in five team members volunteered 10 or more hours per week, much more than other volunteers.”

80% of Obama volunteers reported living within 10 miles of an office. 631 Obama offices in target states vs. 282 for Romney.

So, presuming you can afford it, a key step is having as many campaign offices as possible in as many different places as possible. You want your campaign to have a presence in every community, whether it’s red, blue, or purple, and to leave no vote unpursued…

Tags: Chicago , GOP , House of Representatives , Lenny McAllister

Redistricting, Not the Cause of the Continued GOP House Majority



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Below, I mentioned:

The media is speaking increasingly loudly about the president’s mandate; what they fail to realize is that every member of the House GOP thinks he was reelected (or in the case of the new members being seated in January, elected) with a mandate to oppose all tax increases because they’re economically destructive.

This has caused some lefties on Twitter to argue that the GOP only held its House majority because of gerrymandering.

But that’s not true, or at least there’s quite a bit of evidence against it. For starters, there were states where Democrats controlled redistricting and benefited, like Illinois, and places like California that redrew old incumbent-friendly lines and where the Democrats picked up additional seats. Heading into the election, most analysts felt the most recent round of redistricting added up to a wash between the two parties. Also, there were states where Republicans controlled redistricting and still lost seats, like New Hampshire and Utah; clearly redistricting isn’t a magic wand that can protect any House GOP incumbent or rising star like Mia Love.

But don’t take my word for it; take the assessments from left-of-center guys like Jonathan Bernstein, Eric McGhee, and Kevin Drum; one of the calculations they examine concludes that redistricting can be credited with seven of the Republicans’ 234 seats. If we had just used the old lines, John Boehner would still be speaker, just with a smaller majority.

McGhee concludes that

even under the most generous assumptions, redistricting explains less than half the gap between vote share and seat share this election cycle. . . . We have argued that incumbency is a likely culprit, but as Dan Hopkins recently pointed out, Democrats also do worse because they are more concentrated in urban areas. They “waste” votes on huge margins there, when the party could put many of those votes to better use in marginal seats.

What happens is that a lot of House Democrats in urban districts win by wide margins, sometimes 90–10, while House Republicans won their suburban and rural districts by much closer margins.

The current popular vote in the House races adds up to about 50.29 percent for the Democratic candidates and 49.7 percent for the Republican candidates. You could redraw the district lines to give Democrats a winning percentage in 218 districts with those figures . . . but the new lines would be as jagged, awkward, and bizarre as the ones we have now.

Tags: House of Representatives , House Republicans , Redistricting

That Other Big Political Fight in 2012



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Over on the home page, a look at the GOP prospects for holding the House of Representatives in 2012. I figure it will get many comments and links and Facebook likes, as it’s one of our biggest articles.

It’s there. No, not the giant Roman Genn caricature of Newt Gingrich as Marvin the Martian.

No, lower.

No, lower.

Here.

Tags: House of Representatives , NRCC

A Bold Early Prediction from a GOP Pollster



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Republican pollster Glen Bolger:

Control of the House of Representatives after the 2012 elections will still belong to the Republicans. IF Barack Obama stages a political comeback (which is certainly within the realm of possibility), Democrats will start the presidential coattails drumbeat. However, there are two compelling tables in this post underscoring that the House outcome will dance to the beat of a different drummer . . . The first factor is that even strong Presidents who win re-election do not have long coattails . . . The other factor putting a stake through the vampire hearts of the Democrats’ hopes of control post-2012 is the overwhelming shift in redistricting fortunes. Because of GOP gains in Gov races and the legislatures, there will be a dramatic change in the structure of the 2012 House races.

We’ll remember this, Namath.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , House of Representatives

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