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Posts tagged ‘Iowa’

WSJ: GOP Making Bold, Massive Bid to Take Senate.


Image: WSJ: GOP Making Bold, Massive Bid to Take SenateScott Brown, left, and Ed Gillespie

By Melissa Clyne

In its bid to gain the Senate majority in the midterm elections later this year, the GOP is crafting its strategy straight from the 2012 Democratic playbook, according to The Washington Post.

Republicans are casting a wide net to pick up the six seats needed to secure a majority, putting up viable candidates in a plethora of states where they hope to capitalize on President Barack Obama’s dismal job performance ratings as well as the national furor over Obamacare.

“The key to the Republican strategy is making the next tier of seats [and recruits] as large as possible since a few candidates will flame out, some incumbents will prove tougher to beat than they appear, and the national political environment could shift several times between now and November,” the Post notes.

Republicans need to win six new seats to flip the current Democratic majority of 55-to-45. In the current political climate, they are expected to gain between four and seven seats, according to the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. 

States where the GOP can prevail include Alaska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Virginia, and possibly Minnesota. Five of the vulnerabilities stem from retirement announcements by Democratic senators Max Baucus of Montana, Carl Levin of Michigan, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and South Dakota’s Tim Johnson.

Midterm elections are historically unkind to the sitting president’s party. Add to that the hysteria over a botched healthcare law rollout and millions of Americans receiving notices of canceled insurance plans and it’s a recipe for an ouster.

According to the Wall Street Journal, five states Obama won in 2012 — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, and New Hampshire — are now considered vulnerabilities.

In Virginia, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie should be “a very credible contender who can raise considerable money,” according to the Rothenberg Report, and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown trails New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by just three points and he hasn’t even announced whether he intends to run.

“I’d be more worried if I were a Democrat than if I was a Republican,” Rothenberg Report editor Stuart Rothenberg told the Journal. “The Republicans’ prospects in the existing targets are improving because of the president’s approval ratings, and they are continuing to put other races on the board.”

By offering voters strong GOP alternatives in a variety of states, even those historically blue, Republicans hope that hijacking the Democrats 2012 strategy proves to be a winner.

“One thing’s for sure,” political columnist Chris Cillizza writes in the Post. “If they make it over the top this November, Senate Republicans should send their Democratic counterparts a nice thank you gift for showing them the way.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Republicans Looking at Several Routes to Senate Majority.


Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, if only they can figure out what to do with the tea party.

Crowded primaries in states such as Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina, where tea partyers and social conservatives are fighting for the nomination and pushing candidates farther right, worry many Republicans, especially after they saw their legitimate shots at a Senate majority slip away in 2010 and 2012.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture control from Democrats, who effectively hold a 55-45 advantage now. But Democrats will be defending 21 of 35 seats to be decided in November, and President Barack Obama is looking like a major drag for them. Midterm elections are often tough for a president’s party in any event.

“History is with us, geography is with us and the president’s signature legislative achievement is the most unpopular” law of his tenure, Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said of Obama and his health care overhaul.

Republicans inside and outside the Senate speak confidently about snatching open seats in West Virginia and South Dakota. They like their chances against Democratic incumbents in Republican-leaning Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska and remain upbeat about Montana even if Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock names Lt. Gov. John Walsh to succeed Sen. Max Baucus, Obama’s choice for U.S. ambassador to China.

The looming question is whether Republicans undercut their solid shot with tea party-style candidates who fizzled out in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada in 2010 and Indiana and Missouri in 2012.

Georgia is keeping some Republicans awake at night. Eight candidates, including three House members, are pursuing the open seat of retiring two-term Sen. Saxby Chambliss in a state that dramatically went Republican in 1994 and rarely has looked back. Georgia hasn’t elected a non-incumbent Democrat since 1998.

A loss of the GOP seat would complicate any Republican math for a majority.

The top Democratic hopeful is Michelle Nunn, CEO of the volunteer organization Points of Light and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. The younger Nunn’s diligence gets high marks from Democrats and Republicans. She has raised more than $1.7 million and campaigned with a purpose.

While more attention has focused on Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the marquee race of the cycle, Republicans say Nunn is the real deal.

She stands as a moderate Democrat who could appeal to Georgia’s electorate and a Washington outsider in a year when congressional approval is in single digits.

Republicans are nervous about Rep. Paul Broun, who has said evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell.” Although the four-term Georgia congressman has avoided incendiary comments in his latest campaign, several Republicans privately fret about him winning the nomination.

Looking to seize the edge in the free-for-all primary, Broun recently pounded rival Rep. Jack Kingston, considered more moderate, after Kingston suggested that Obama’s health care law could be fixed. Kingston quickly backtracked on an issue that resonates with core GOP voters, but then came under criticism for saying poor children could pay a small fee or work cleaning up to receive school-subsidized lunches.

“‘Why don’t you, you know, have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch — or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria,'” he said at a Jackson County event.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, argued that the presence of tea partyers in primaries is forcing all Republican candidates to race to the right. The result is nominees unacceptable in the general election, he said.

“Primary electorates are so small it essentially encourages the Akin-ization of the entire Republican primary,” Cecil said.

His reference was to Missouri 2012. Republicans were certain they could defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., but their nominee, Rep. Todd Akin, flamed out after saying women’s bodies can avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” McCaskill won re-election by 16 percentage points.

Georgia rules set the primary for May 20, but if no candidate gets 50 percent, a runoff occurs July 22.

Several Republicans insist that establishment candidates will eventually prevail and the internal fights won’t matter as Democrats struggle with the most contentious issue of the year — Obama’s health care law — and the political damage from its many problems.

“I think it may be the most difficult political yoke to carry in the history of American politics,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. “Where else do you have something that affects everybody? And health care does.”

Democrats don’t dispute that the troubled rollout of the health care website has hurt them.

“There’s no doubt Republicans are a little more gleeful,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster and adviser to North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is seeking a second term. “Who can say with a straight face that this has not been a bad month for Democrats?”

But Anzalone added: “It’s not a permanent thing. This is really about the political environment nationally. It evens out.”

In the North Carolina race, Senate Republicans have been raising money for Thom Tillis, speaker of the state House. Tillis faces challenges from Greg Brannon, a physician who has the backing of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and has been seeking the support of the tea party and Rev. Mark Harris, a Baptist minister who was instrumental in the state fight to ban gay marriage.

Hagan has struggled to answer for her support for the health care law, and in a clear sign of Democratic concern, the Senate Majority PAC, which backs Democratic candidates, bought $750,000 of television air time in December to counter Republican attacks against her. The group spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more for Hagan earlier in the year.

North Carolina’s primary is May 6 and if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote, a runoff is set for July 15.

Collins, the Senate Republicans’ campaign director, maintained that competition in the primaries will make the party’s eventual nominees stronger for the general election.

Republicans see a potential to expand the field from the top tier races to contests in Michigan and Minnesota. Iowa seemed like a prime opportunity for Republicans after five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced he would not seek another term.

Democrats rallied around four-term Rep. Bruce Braley. But on the GOP side, there are no fewer than seven candidates seeking the nomination in Iowa, including conservative radio host Sam Clovis, state Sen. Joni Ernst, former energy company CEO Mark Jacobs and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker. There is talk that even more will enter the race.

Iowa’s June 3 primary has a 35 percent threshold. If no candidate gets that much, the nomination would be decided at a party convention where the most conservative members typically nominate a harder-right candidate.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Rep. Tom Latham Won’t Seek Re-election in 2014.


Image: US Rep. Tom Latham Won't Seek Re-election in 2014

U.S. Rep. Tom Latham announced Tuesday he won’t seek re-election in 2014, creating a potentially competitive race for a seat that likely would have favored the 10-term Iowa Republican.

The 65-year-old Republican from Clive will have spent 20 years in Congress and is Iowa’s senior U.S. House member. The decision creates an open seat that includes the Des Moines area in central Iowa and the vast rural tracts of southern and western Iowa.

The news, coming late Tuesday, took Iowa’s GOP senior strategists by surprise.

“It’s a bombshell politically in Iowa because he was so strong,” said Doug Gross, a longtime aide to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and former nominee for governor. “It throws open a congressional seat in a very, very important district I think you’ll have a scrum on both sides. I think you’ll have lots of interest.”

Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator from Ackworth, had already announced her plans to seek the seat before Latham’s decision.

Latham was heavily courted this year by Iowa Republicans, especially Branstad, and the national GOP to seek Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014, but he turned that down in February. Five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced in January that he would retire, and several Republicans have announced their candidacies.

Latham is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the transportation subcommittee. He’s known for his friendship with House Speaker John Boehner and his love of golf.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same Day.


Image: Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same DayFrom left: Reps. Tom Latham, Frank Wolf and Jim Matheson

By Cynthia Fagen

Iowa Republican Tom Latham has become the third House member to announce his retirement on Tuesday, The Hill reported.  He joins Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah.

“It is never a perfect time or a right time to step aside. But for me, this is the time,” said the 10-term congressman, who is a close friend of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Latham said in an email, “I want to share with you my decision that I will not be a candidate for any office in November of 2014.”

Democrats think they can win the seats held by Latham and Wolf. In the 2012 presidential race Obama won Latham’s district by four percentage points. Matheson’s vacancy could go to a Republican.

Latham’s retirement comes as a surprise, according to The Hill. A year ago he’d defeated Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) in a hotly-contested race, and had turned down national Republicans’ pleas to run for an open Senate seat, according to The Hill. Democrats had been rallying around former state Sen. Staci Appel to run against Latham. It’s unclear who might run on the GOP ticket.

House veteran Wolf said that he planned to continue his work as an advocate of worldwide human rights and religious freedom.

“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Wolf, who was the first member of Congress to visit the troubled Darfur region of Sudan and has spoken out in defense of oppressed groups such as Tibetans and Kurds.

Matheson was expected to face a tough repeat challenge in 2014 from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican who he narrowly defeated in 2012.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Huckabee: I May Run for President in 2016.


Image: Huckabee: I May Run for President in 2016

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the time may be right to give a run for the presidency another try in 2016.

Huckabee, while not announcing his candidacy, said Thursday night he’s getting encouragement to run “from places where I never got it before,” reports The Washington Post.

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He made a strong showing in 2008 when he won the Iowa caucuses, but sat out the 2012 contest.

This time around, Huckabee says he’s getting encouragement from “business, people some would maybe call the establishment,” both of whom did not support him in 2008.

Huckabee, whose 2008 campaign sputtered after it ran into cash problems, said he would not run this time unless he has the finances to mount a successful campaign, reports The New York Times.

“If I talk to people and they say, ‘If you run, we’re in and we’re in a big way,’ that’s going be helpful,” he told the Times. “If I don’t hear that, you know what? This will be a real easy decision for me to make because I’ve jumped in a pool without water before and it’s a hard hit at the bottom.”

Huckabee spoke in Little Rock Thursday to about 600 pastors and their spouses at a dinner sponsored by the American Renewal Project, and followed the dinner with a private meeting with a group from Iowa and South Carolina, where presidential contests are held early.

Huckabee said a private poll commissioned by his supporters shows he can make strong showings in both those states, and that less-moderate candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, often considered a front-runner, would not do well in the early races.

The former governor said he believes that to win the presidency Republicans need to “communicate a message that speaks across a broader spectrum.”

He said the party fails to “speak to African-Americans, to speak to Hispanics, to speak to working-class people.”

Huckabee has not been mentioned much in the early talk about 2016, compared to people like Christie and others.

He has said he did not seek the 2012 candidacy because he didn’t think President Barack Obama could be defeated, and acknowledged he has enjoyed earning money and celebrity through his shows and appearances, the Times reports.

The former governor and pastor now makes a comfortable living with his own show on Fox News, the profits of the talk radio show he just ended, and paid speeches, and conceded Thursday that giving up his profitable television show to run for the presidency would be “a big issue.”

Huckabee said personal pride doesn’t factor into his decision.

“Anybody who would run for any reason other than to win is an idiot,” he said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Memorial in Protest Over Shutdown.


Image: Vets Storm Shuttered WWII Memorial in Protest Over Shutdown

U.S. veterans at the National World War II Memorial on Oct. 1.

By Andrea Billups

Several members of Congress on Tuesday morning cut police tape and removed concrete barricades set up by the U.S. National Park Service to allow 91 World War II veterans, arriving from Mississippi on Honor Flights, to visit their memorial on the Mall.

The federal memorial had been closed amid the government shutdown but lawmakers were having nothing of it, said former Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was there along with an empowered group of passersby who chanted, “Let them in, let them in,” and applauded as the barriers were removed.

Hoekstra said to their credit, security did not intervene as many veterans in wheelchairs made what will likely be their final and only trip to see a memorial honoring their service.

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Among those members of Congress on hand to help the vets get in were Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Republican Reps. Bill Huizenga of Michigan, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Steve King of Iowa, and Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, who organized the intervention and had circulated a friendly memo to his colleagues asking them to come out to prevent a blockage to make sure the vets’ trip was not in vain, The Mississippi Press reports.

“I was told their leadership told them not to do it,” Hoekstra told Newsmax by phone of the effort. “It would step on their messaging. But that’s the bigger lesson for today. Just go out and do the right thing. And this was the right thing to do.”

Hoekstra praised the park officers who didn’t stop the group from entering. “They accepted this act of civil disobedience by these congressmen and didn’t try to make a scene,” he said.
Watching the vets enter was “emotional,” he said.

“This memorial took too long to build,” Hoekstra added. “But this is one of those days that makes you feel good. Heaven knows politicians get enough blame these days, but these folks had the courage to come down here, challenge the establishment and get it resolved.”

Members of Congress greeted the Honor Flight vets at the airport around 11:20 a.m. and then joined then as they made their way to the memorial. Honor Flight is a national non-profit organization that raises money to honor veterans with free trips to Washington, flying them in on commercial and charter vets for a day that offers them trips to memorials around the city.

“This morning, when I heard they were not going to let these veterans in, I was pissed. It’s kind of like we can make everything else in government that is not important keep running but when it comes to honoring these heroes, we’re going to the extra effort of barricading a memorial and having parks folks shut it down,” Hoekstra said.

Honor Flight’s Chairman of the Board Jim McLaughlin told Newsmax early Tuesday morning that he had some concerns about the shutdown’s impact on his cause. About 3,500 veterans are slated to visit memorials in the month of October with about 900 coming to visit this week.

“It’s devastating,” McLaughlin said of the shutdown halting visits. “These World War II veterans have been waiting 65 years to see this memorial and for them not to have the opportunity to see it…. I can’t imagine how these veterans might feel going home tonight and not getting their chance.

“For most of them, this is their only chance,” he added. “The average age is now around 87-88 and many are in their early 90s. They are never going to get another.”

Some in Washington, lauding the veterans’ determination as “the greatest generation,” say they doubt a little government power-tripping will stop these brave heroes, many of whom served on the front lines.

Wrote Cheri Jacobus on The Hill’s Pundit Blog: “They fought on the beaches of Normandy. Do we really think a little government shutdown is going to stop these guys?”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Christian NFL Player Who Walked Away: ‘I Wasn’t Living Right’.


Christian Ballard walked away from the NFL after only a two-year playing career.
Christian Ballard walked away from the NFL after only a two-year playing career. (Facebook)

In a society where professional football players are put on a pedestal and worshipped at times, Christian Ballard doesn’t buy it. The glitz and the glamor of the NFL that once fulfilled his wildest dreams simply doesn’t jibe with his Christian beliefs anymore.

After only two-year playing career, the former Minnesota Vikingsdefensive tackle walked away from the game in August, saying he just “wasn’t living right.”

“I wasn’t really having a good time playing football. It wasn’t fun for me,” Ballard told USA Today. “It wasn’t a blast for me. I could sit there and lie to myself for another two years, doing something that wasn’t what I want to do.

“It made me selfish. It made me complacent. I just thought that I was better than everyone. Don’t get me wrong—there are tons of people who play in the NFL and are strong believers in the Lord, and they have a great lifestyle. But for me, it really wasn’t working out.”

The 24-year-old had two years left on his contract with Minnesota. He scored a $407,000 signing bonus in 2011 as a rookie after being drafted in the fourth round from the University of Iowa. He made nearly $850,000 during his first two seasons with the Vikings and figured heavily into the team’s plans for 2013-2014.

Ballard, who played in all 32 games his first two seasons with Minnesota, including two starts, told USA Today he has returned to church after a four-year absence.

“Making that much money—that was fun. But money is still a material thing,” he said. “You can always make money. You can’t make that time that you lose with your friends and your loved ones. Times is something you can never get back.”

Ballard’s new life hasn’t come without a few bumps along the way. He and his wife, Victoria, who were married on Aug. 30, were both arrested in Lawrence, Kan., for domestic battery, and Ballard spent more than a day in jail. The district attorney in Lawrence declined to press charges after neither he nor his wife were injured.

“I’m not saying that I left the NFL [and] now everything is just fine,” Ballard told USA Today. “It’s not. There’s still a lot of things I’ve got to work on—obviously—as being a husband and father.

“I can always treat my wife better, treat my son better, be a better brother, be a better son. But I know right now from being out of the NFL that it’s a lot easier to focus on those things because I have time. I’m not wrapped up in this whole other lifestyle.”

Ballard hasn’t ruled out a potential return to the NFL, but he has begun to focus on other ambitions. He is working toward finishing his undergraduate degree at Iowa and plans to apply to graduate school to pursue a career in art or music. Ballard plays the cello and keyboard and is learning the bass guitar.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SHAWN A. AKERS

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