Tags: House Democrats

Democratic House Challengers, Suddenly Silent on Health Care


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the organization aiming to take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives, touts 20 of their top challengers to GOP incumbents as “Jumpstart Candidates.”

Earlier this week I noted that the words “Affordable Care Act” and/or “Obamacare” do not appear on the DCCC’s home page. Their spokesmen insisted that a section labeled “GOP Hypocrites” counts, although even on that link, there’s no mention of the president’s signature domestic legislation; it’s merely an attack that “Republicans are so intent upon taking away your health care that they shut down the government over it.” (Conflating Obamacare with “your health care” is the point, obviously.)

If you look at the individual campaign websites of the Jumpstart Candidates, you find that references to “Affordable Care Act” and/or “Obamacare” are few and far between. In fact, most of the campaign sites don’t even mention health care at all.

The web site of Pete Aguilar, running in California’s 31st district, doesn’t have a page listing his policy positions yet. While it’s possible he’s mentioned Obamacare in a Facebook Page or Twitter message, there is no mention of Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.


The web site of Stacy Appel, running in Iowa’s third district, opens with a YouTube video that, at least for me, blocks access to any other part of the page. The video offers a quick reference to a commitment to “more affordable health care” but otherwise offers a lengthy touting of her efforts taking on her own party over . . . texting while driving and the need “to do more to protect people from the dangers of distracted driving.”

The web site of Erin Bilbray, running in Nevada’s third district, does in fact mention the Affordable Care Act, generally positively, but with a caveat:

Health care costs continue to be too high for both patients and small businesses. The Affordable Care Act contains a lot of common sense solutions, such as protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, lowering drug costs for seniors, and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plan for a longer period. But the results of full implementation remain to be seen. I believe we still need to do more to contain costs. I’m proud that along with my husband, we created Nevada’s only completely free pediatric heath clinic.

The web site of Pam Byrnes, running in Michigan’s seventh district, also does not have an “issues” page and does not mention the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.


The web site of Ann Callis, running in Illinois’s 13th district, declares she wants to “fix and improve” the law.

Middle-class families want health care solutions that lower cost and expand care, not more partisan politics. Ann Callis believes we need reforms that fix and improve the Affordable Care Act, not kneejerk partisanship that doesn’t solve problems. She’ll work to preserve sections of the law that ensure no one can ever be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, keep the cost of prescription drugs low and that children can remain on their parents’ coverage until the age of 26. 

The web site of Jerry Cannon, running in Michigan’s first district, has a “why I’m running” page that focuses upon his military service. It refers to  “protecting Medicare & Social Security” but does not otherwise mention health care or Obamacare/ACA.

The web site of Michael Eggman, running in California’s tenth district, has an issues page, but “health care” is not one of them. There is a page for “Medicare and Social Security” that pledges to “I will stand up to politicians who want to play games with Medicare” but does not mention Obamacare/ACA.

The web site of Sean Eldridge, running in New York’s 19th district, has an issues page and a section for “Lowering Health Care Costs” that appears to refer to Obamacare, but never mentions it by name. Here it is, in its entirety:

Sean believes access to quality, affordable health care is a basic right of every American. He will work to fix and improve our nation’s health care laws in order to lower costs, hold insurance companies accountable, reduce the burden on small businesses, and ensure that affordable health care is available to every family.

The web site of Pete Festersen, running in Nebraska’s second district, does not have an issues page.


The web site of Jennifer Garrison, running in Ohio’s sixth district, does not have an issues page. Her biographical section mentions her work in the state legislature on a variety of issues, but not health care.


The web site of Gwen Graham, running in Florida’s second district, does not have an issues page and her brief “why I’m running” statement does not mention health care other than a pledge to “protect Medicare.”

The web site of Rocky Lara, running in New Mexico’s second district, offers only a short biography and a request for donations.

The web site of John Lewis (not to be confused with the longtime Democratic congressman from Georgia), running in Montana’s at-large House district, has an issues page and one section is on health care. Here it is, in its entirety:

All of Montana is considered rural and many of its small towns are considered “frontier” communities that lack access to health care. John Lewis believes that all Montanans deserve access to affordable, quality health care no matter where they live. That means creating incentives to bring good health care providers to small communities. It means improving access to health care for veterans, seniors and children. And it means holding the nation’s insurance companies accountable — to make sure that they don’t charge women more than men, or that they don’t deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The web site of Suzanne Patrick, running in Virginia’s second district, has a “priorities” section that does not mention health care other than a reference to opposing “turning Medicare into a voucher program.”

The web site of Domenec Recchia, running in New York’s eleventh district, features a “Why I Fight for the People of New York” section that focuses on Hurricane Sandy and economic issues. It does not mention health care, or Obamacare/ACA.

The web site of Amanda Renteria, a former economic adviser to Senator Dianne Feinstein running in California’s 21st district, does not have an issues page but offers a lengthy biography. That section mentions “healthy foods initiatives” in the 2012 Farm Bill but does not mention health-care legislation.

The web site of Martha Robertson, running in New York’s 23rd district, is one of the few indisputable defenders of Obamacare. She offers a “priorities” section that specifically mentions the Affordable Care Act:

In order to make Medicare more affordable, we have to drive down the cost of health care as a whole. Over time, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the real cost of health care, while preserving or even enhancing quality. Thanks to Obamacare, seniors are already enjoying access they didn’t have before to primary care, and greater reimbursement for their prescription drug costs.

Another section also mentions Medicaid, which is expanded under the law to include people with higher incomes than before:

Protecting Medicaid is vitally important. It’s a fundamental American value to take care of those in need. When it comes to health care, this means people with disabilities, seniors in nursing homes, children, and the very poor. Cuts to Medicaid only serve to drive up health care costs across the board, meaning that we all pay more. It’s absolutely crucial that we protect Medicaid.

The web site of Andrew Romanoff, running in Colorado’s sixth district, declares right on the home page, “I want to make it possible for every child to enjoy the same kind of basic opportunities my
mom and dad gave me: A solid education, a steady source of health care, and a safe place to live.” But there is no “issues” or “priorities” page that mentions the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

The web site of Alex Sink, running in Florida’s 13th District . . . has nothing beyond a photo and an invitation to link on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

The web site of Kevin Strouse, running in Pennsylvania’s eighth district, has an issues page that lists innovation, investing in American workers, improving education, balancing the budget, national defense, “honoring our veterans,” protecting a woman’s “right to choose” and support of gay marriage. But health care, Obamacare, and/or the Affordable Care Act are not mentioned.

Going over the sites, you come across the same generic phrases over again: declarations that “we need common sense in Washington,” pledges to be “an independent voice,” and endless denunciations of “bickering” “partisanship” “dysfunction” “finger pointing” and “Washington special interests.” Another word missing from most of the sites: “Democrat.”

I’m sure the DCCC and the candidates will be able to offer a lot of excuses for the absence of any reference to Obamacare or even health care in general from their campaign sites. It’s early. They’re still staffing up. Campaign web sites rarely list detailed positions on every issue. The issue is complicated, and the situation of Obamacare’s implementation seems to change by the day.

But let’s face it, if Obamacare were popular and the American people loved it, every Democratic challenger would be loudly embracing it and running on a pledge to ensure it’s kept in place as is. What’s really striking is that “health care” was a bread-and-butter issue for Democrats going back to Harris Wofford’s win over Dick Thornburgh in Pennsylvania in 1991. Suddenly it’s a missing issue, sometimes unmentioned entirely, sometimes merely alluded to briefly while discussing other issues.

Tags: Obamacare , DCCC , House Democrats

The Name ‘Pelosi,’ the Voldemort of Red House Districts


Today’s Morning Jolt features a preview of the Benghazi hearings, praise for an NR colleague, and then last night’s big news . . . 

This Just In from South Carolina: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Hey, Democrats. You just spent a bundle and lost . . . to Mark Sanford.

The argument that we can’t learn anything about 2014 from an individual special House race is generally true. But Alex Roarty of National Journal — a.k.a. that insider, non-conservative publication that National Review staffers are often mixed up with — repeats my point from yesterday: Democrats put a lot of money and effort into this race, against a Republican candidate they thought was uniquely beatable. (And in fact, he was. But “uniquely beatable” doesn’t always mean you will beat him.)

Now we see all of that Democratic spending gained nothing: $1.2 million in donations to Colbert Busch, more than $929,000 on independent expenditures against Sanford . . . FLUSH!

And there is a lesson for 2014: Mark Sanford managed to overcome the electorate’s wariness about him by emphasizing that a vote for his opponent was a vote for Nancy Pelosi and the Obama agenda. Red-state and red-district Democrats have always had a tough balancing act, emphasizing how they’re not like those other Democrats; Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the end just wasn’t a talented enough candidate to pull that off. (In short, she wasn’t that talented a candidate at all. “The Solyndra of the South,” as Nathan Wurtzel summarized.)

Any remaining red-district Democrats really have to run hard from Pelosi from now until November 2014.

Moe Lane:

This should have gone to the Democrats; but, well, there’s that pesky albatross. May Nancy Pelosi stay House Minority Leader, well, forever. . . . If they can’t win House seats in R districts under these circumstances, they won’t win ‘em under more even ones.

Betsy Woodruff was at the victory party:

There will be lots of analysis in the days to come about what this election means, but one thing isn’t up for debate: Mark Sanford knows how to campaign, and his win here is due at least in part to his tireless canvassing and cheerful willingness to ask for the vote of anyone who would listen to him.

When he arrived at the victory party, Sanford was in full-on retail-politics mode. I followed the former governor on the campaign trail the day before the election and wrote about his perpetual handshaking and small-talking. Winning the election doesn’t seem to have tempered his pace. When he arrives at the party, he laps around the front of the building (which, a server tells me, is more crowded than it’s ever been), posing for pictures and hugging supporters.

Two things are different from the day before, though: First, he’s wearing a suit instead of stained khakis and busted-up shoes, and actually looks like someone who might belong in the halls of the Capitol. And second, he’s got his oldest son, Marshall, in tow. He looks around for his son every minute or two — when he loses sight of him, he asks the nearest staffer, “Where’d Marshall go?” and whenever he gets a chance, he introduces the 20-year-old to supporters who haven’t met him.

Mark Sanford’s sister, Sarah Sanford Rauch, isn’t far behind. She’s one of his veteran campaign volunteers, and she’s outspoken about her support for her embattled brother. I ask her how she feels.

“Exhausted,” she tells me. “It’s the toughest race I’ve ever been in. I’ve helped out on a bunch of races, but this is the toughest, by far.”

“You wake up every morning and you look at the newspaper and you wait to see what anvil is getting dropped on your head each day,” she adds.

Somebody else is feeling the headache this morning.

In other words, while Pelosi has always had a handful of members who were likely to stray, she can expect even less agreement from members like Jim Matheson of Utah (R+16), Nick Rahall of West Virginia (R+14), Mike McIntyre of North Carolina (R+12), John Barrow of Georgia (R+9), and Collin Peterson of Minnesota (R+6) — and perhaps Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona (R+4), Patrick Murphy of Florida (R+3), Pete Gallego of Texas (R+3), and Ron Barber of Arizona (R+3). Because if invoking Pelosi was key to Sanford overcoming the well-funded Colbert Busch, imagine how it will play in districts where the Republican doesn’t have Sanford’s baggage?

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Nancy Pelosi , House Democrats , House Republicans

The 2014 Democrats: They Have No Opinions on Anything!


Today’s Morning Jolt points out that some sources contradict a Washington Post report on sequester cuts hurting cancer patients; discusses whether the term “entitlements” helps or hurts effort to reform those programs, and then has this bit of political news on the early talk of the 2014 House races:

Vote Democrats in 2014: They Have No Opinions on Anything!

Keep the lead of this Washington Post article in mind when you’re told about the great liberal ascendancy that will continue in the midterms:

Democratic Party officials believe that Kevin Strouse is exactly the kind of candidate who can help them retake the House next year.

He’s a smart, young former Army Ranger — good qualities for any aspiring politician. But what party leaders really like is that Strouse doesn’t have particularly strong views on the country’s hottest issues.

Immigration? Tax policy? “Certainly I have a lot of research to do,” Strouse acknowledged in an interview Thursday as he announced his candidacy in a suburban Philadelphia House district.

Strouse’s candidacy reflects an emerging Democratic strategy for taking back the House from Republicans after the tea party takeover of 2010.

Like Elizabeth Colbert Busch, he appears to be following a strategy of never taking a stance that anyone, anywhere, might disagree with. “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride . . .”

Now, if liberalism were ascendant, and the electorate’s preferences were shifting strongly and dramatically to the left, why wouldn’t these folks be talking about the need for the government to do more, dismiss the claim that we need to dramatically reduce our spending, that President Obama is getting it right, again and again, and that they’ll eagerly return Nancy Pelosi to the Speakership?

You can argue that Colbert Busch is running in too Republican-leaning a district to give you a fair reading on that. But Kevin Strouse is running in Pennsylvania’s eighth district, basically Bucks County. It’s a D+1 district. With Barack Obama carrying the state by a healthy margin, and Bob Casey winning the Senate reelection handily, the GOP incumbent, Mike Fitzpatrick, won . . . 56 percent of the vote. Nearly 200,000 votes.

Also mentioned in the article: Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder and New Republic owner Chris Hughes. Here are some of the highlights from the New York magazine writeup on his filing:

Yesterday Eldridge, 26, filed papers establishing a campaign organization that would enable him to compete for New York’s 19th congressional district seat in 2014 . . . 

Eldridge would be smart to stockpile more of that kind of credit in the local political favor bank. He was born in Canada and grew up in Ohio, and he and Hughes split time among a number of palatial residences — the kind of things that will help Gibson try to paint the novice candidate as a dilettante and carpetbagger. Gibson, 48, is a lifelong New Yorker and a talented campaigner with an appealing personal story, especially for a district that includes newly gentrified river towns like Hudson* but also covers a wide swath of depressed rural territory: He’s a former Army colonel who served four tours in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart…

November’s results showed that Gibson is formidable: He beat a Democratic challenger by six points even though Barack Obama carried the district by a substantial margin. Turnout is likely to be lower in 2014 — without a presidential campaign or a contested New York gubernatorial election — which could also hurt Eldridge’s chances.

There’s a lot of road between this moment and the 2014 midterms, but . . .  do Colbert Busch, Strouse, and Eldridge sound like the all-star team you would want to assemble to retake the House?

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , House Democrats , House Republicans , Kevin Strouse , Sean Eldridge

The Perils of Long-Term Forecasts in Midterm Elections


The good news in the long-term outlook for House Republicans:

While Democrats have opportunities, they also have seats that will need defending.

At least 11 Democratic incumbents start off at risk: Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber, California’s Raul Ruiz, Florida’s Patrick Murphy and Joe Garcia, Georgia’s John Barrow, Massachusetts’ John F. Tierney, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, North Carolina’s Mike McIntyre, Texas’ Pete Gallego and Utah’s Jim Matheson.

Seven of these Democrats sit in Romney districts, and strong GOP recruiting in a handful of additional districts could make more Democrat-held seats (Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson’s is a good example) vulnerable.

At this point in the cycle, Democrats probably need to put at least another two dozen additional districts into play — in addition to the ones I have cited above — and hold most of their own vulnerable seats to have a chance of netting 17 seats in the midterm elections. It’s a very tall order.

That’s Stuart Rothenberg, writing over at CQ/Roll Call today.

The bad news in the long-term outlook for House Republicans:

Over the past couple of weeks, at least three Republicans — House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and campaign consultant Tony Marsh — have raised the possibility of the GOP winning back the House of Representatives next year.

That idea is lunacy and ought to be put to rest immediately.

None of the three actually predicted that Republicans would gain the 40 seats that they need for a majority, but all three held out hope that that’s possible. It isn’t.

That’s Stuart Rothenberg, writing back on April 23, 2009.

Tags: House Democrats , House Republicans

13 House Democrats Oppose a 5 Percent Cut in Office Expenses


Thirteen Democratic congressmen voted against a 5 percent cut in “the amount authorized for salaries and expenses of members, committee, and leadership offices in 2011 and 2012.” The proposal passed, 410–13.

The Rapacious Thirteen: Gary Ackerman of New York, Yvette Clarke of New York, John Conyers of Michigan, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Bob Filner of California, Mike Honda of California, Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, Barbara Lee of California, Jim Moran of Virginia, Donald Payne of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Edolphus Towns of New York, Lynn Woolsey of California.

Tags: House Democrats , Jim Moran

Subscribe to National Review