Commentary Magazine


Topic: political writer

Another Senate Candidate in Trouble

Richard Blumenthal and Rand Paul (with Blanche Lincoln and perhaps Joe Sestak close behind) have gotten most of the attention in the “embattled Senate candidates” media coverage, but let’s not forget the Mob’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias:

His family’s business, Broadway Bank, was seized by regulators last month. He’s had trouble getting robust support from a White House that originally preferred another candidate. And political writer Stu Rothenberg devoted a column last week to asking “Is it time for Democrats to shove Giannoulias out?”

Now, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who did not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, is flirting with the idea of backing Republican nominee Mark Kirk in the general election.

And he might not be the only one: Bobby Rush is down on Rezko’s banker as well. (He told the Hill “in December 2009 that he was ‘afraid’ of a Giannoulias-Kirk matchup. ‘The messenger has to stand before the message. And if the messenger is weak, then the message is weak,’ he told the paper.”)

The rumblings have started about how to shove Giannoulias out of the way. But, as Rothenberg explained, it won’t be easy to dump him:

Democrats who worry about Giannoulias’ viability in the fall have a problem, though. Since the nominee isn’t running far behind Kirk in trial heats, it won’t be easy to persuade him to leave quietly. And if there is something Democratic insiders don’t need, it’s a messy food fight with a nominee they are trying to dump (especially after Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania went public that White House insiders had offered him a job to get him to pass up a primary challenge to party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter).

Yes, one candidate’s scandal makes it harder to toss another scandal-plagued candidate overboard.

Republicans should take note for 2010 and 2012. The reason the Democrats are in disarray and the race is competitive is not merely because the Democratic nominee has a load of problems; it is because the Republicans were wise enough to select a top-notch candidate well-suited to the state. (Politico notes: “Kirk already is popular in the politically competitive Chicago suburbs he represents and has a strong relationship with the state’s pro-Israel voters and donors.”) It’s really not enough in a deep Blue State to luck into a flawed Democratic candidate. For Republicans to win, they need smart candidates well-attuned to the electorate. Otherwise, golden opportunities will slip through their fingers.

Richard Blumenthal and Rand Paul (with Blanche Lincoln and perhaps Joe Sestak close behind) have gotten most of the attention in the “embattled Senate candidates” media coverage, but let’s not forget the Mob’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias:

His family’s business, Broadway Bank, was seized by regulators last month. He’s had trouble getting robust support from a White House that originally preferred another candidate. And political writer Stu Rothenberg devoted a column last week to asking “Is it time for Democrats to shove Giannoulias out?”

Now, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who did not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, is flirting with the idea of backing Republican nominee Mark Kirk in the general election.

And he might not be the only one: Bobby Rush is down on Rezko’s banker as well. (He told the Hill “in December 2009 that he was ‘afraid’ of a Giannoulias-Kirk matchup. ‘The messenger has to stand before the message. And if the messenger is weak, then the message is weak,’ he told the paper.”)

The rumblings have started about how to shove Giannoulias out of the way. But, as Rothenberg explained, it won’t be easy to dump him:

Democrats who worry about Giannoulias’ viability in the fall have a problem, though. Since the nominee isn’t running far behind Kirk in trial heats, it won’t be easy to persuade him to leave quietly. And if there is something Democratic insiders don’t need, it’s a messy food fight with a nominee they are trying to dump (especially after Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania went public that White House insiders had offered him a job to get him to pass up a primary challenge to party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter).

Yes, one candidate’s scandal makes it harder to toss another scandal-plagued candidate overboard.

Republicans should take note for 2010 and 2012. The reason the Democrats are in disarray and the race is competitive is not merely because the Democratic nominee has a load of problems; it is because the Republicans were wise enough to select a top-notch candidate well-suited to the state. (Politico notes: “Kirk already is popular in the politically competitive Chicago suburbs he represents and has a strong relationship with the state’s pro-Israel voters and donors.”) It’s really not enough in a deep Blue State to luck into a flawed Democratic candidate. For Republicans to win, they need smart candidates well-attuned to the electorate. Otherwise, golden opportunities will slip through their fingers.

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Is He Joking?

Chris Cillizza, a political writer for the Washington Post, compiles a list of the winners and losers in the health-care deal. Perhaps it’s a typo or the effect of staying up too late to follow a secretive middle-of-the-night vote, but he puts Sen. Ben Nelson in the winner column, waxing lyrical that the “Nebraska senator played the legislative process like a virtuoso, not only getting stricter language about abortion funding included in the final bill but also scoring another huge plum — the promise of full federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid in the Cornhusker State.” He must be joking, right?

The right-to-life community is up in arms and is likely to abandon Nelson. His other main constituency in Nebraska, which stuck with him in the past, the Chamber of Commerce,  now could well do the same. His “deal” is now labeled the Cornhusker Kickback, a symbol of corruption in a secretive legislative process. Nelson’s inability to answer simple questions about his rather lamely constructed agreement suggests that he either didn’t understand what he negotiated or is embarrassed to admit it.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this will be his last term in the Senate and that Republicans will be tripping over themselves to oppose him when he is up for re-election in 2012. Remember, more than 60 percent of his constituents are opposed to the bill, which he had the power to stop.

This is a winner? Well, it’s true he’ll keep his seat longer than some of his Democratic colleagues.

Chris Cillizza, a political writer for the Washington Post, compiles a list of the winners and losers in the health-care deal. Perhaps it’s a typo or the effect of staying up too late to follow a secretive middle-of-the-night vote, but he puts Sen. Ben Nelson in the winner column, waxing lyrical that the “Nebraska senator played the legislative process like a virtuoso, not only getting stricter language about abortion funding included in the final bill but also scoring another huge plum — the promise of full federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid in the Cornhusker State.” He must be joking, right?

The right-to-life community is up in arms and is likely to abandon Nelson. His other main constituency in Nebraska, which stuck with him in the past, the Chamber of Commerce,  now could well do the same. His “deal” is now labeled the Cornhusker Kickback, a symbol of corruption in a secretive legislative process. Nelson’s inability to answer simple questions about his rather lamely constructed agreement suggests that he either didn’t understand what he negotiated or is embarrassed to admit it.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this will be his last term in the Senate and that Republicans will be tripping over themselves to oppose him when he is up for re-election in 2012. Remember, more than 60 percent of his constituents are opposed to the bill, which he had the power to stop.

This is a winner? Well, it’s true he’ll keep his seat longer than some of his Democratic colleagues.

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