NCDP Clips for October 21, 2013
Washington Post: Rep. Mark Meadows pushed for a shutdown. What did it bring his N.C. district? Frustration.The area encompassing the district of Rep. Mark Meadows lost as much as $1 million per day during the more-than-two-week stretch when the national parks were closed, according to one estimate, suspending the foliage tourism industry that usually props up the local economy this time of year. Some residents blame Meadows, a Republican elected in 2012, for writing the original letter that suggested party leaders could kill President Obama’s signature health-care law by hobbling the federal government. More than 79 Republicans signed on to the Meadows missive in August, and by the time the shutdown began in October, Meadows had been labeled a chief architect of the strategy.
A majority says it is a bad thing for Republicans to control the House, with an even higher percentage believing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) should lose his job, according to a new poll. A CNN-ORC poll released Monday found 54 percent oppose Republican control of the House while 38 percent say it is a good thing. The percentage of people who oppose a GOP-led House is up 11 percent since last December. It is the first time since the GOP was swept into office in 2010 that a majority opposes GOP control of the House. As a result, 63 percent of people say Boehner should be ousted from his leadership position. Only 30 percent believe he should keep his job. The poll was taken in the wake of the 16-day government shutdown. Republicans saw their poll numbers plummet during the shutdown as they pursued a tactic of attempting to use government funding as a leverage to extract ObamaCare cuts. Numerous polls show the GOP trailing by nearly double digits in generic congressional ballot tests between Republicans and Democrats.
Republicans characterize the ordeal they just subjected the country to as a war. House Speaker John Boehner said, "We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win." Sen. John McCain said, "Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable." Just like any war, this one cost blood and bounty. Republicans wounded their party with their failed gambit to defund the Affordable Care Act by shutting government and threatening default. But what’s worse is they bloodied the economy. At a time when millions are struggling to find work, the Republican hostage taking depressed growth and killed jobs. It’s one thing for the GOP to blast itself in the foot; it’s unconscionable for Republicans to shoot America. Deservedly, the GOP is suffering from its self-inflicted injury. A Washington Post-ABC poll found nearly three-quarters of Americans disapproved of Republicans. And it wasn’t just Democrats and Independents griping. The poll showed 47 percent of Republicans disapproved of Congressional Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Republicans would be at risk of losing their majority in the House if the government were to shut down again in January, Roll Call reports. Said Reid: "I don’t blame the American people for being upset. What we have here in America today is a crisis created for no reason, other than to satisfy the shrill right-wing Tea Party… All it did is hurt Republicans… I hope they’ve learned a lesson. The American people will not put up with that. And if this happens again, I don’t think it will, but if it does, I think the House of Representatives will go Democratic."
A majority of Americans think it is bad for the country that Republicans control the House of Representatives, and even more want House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to be replaced by another Republican, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday. Fifty-four percent think it’s bad that Republicans control the House, the poll found. That’s up from 43 percent in December 2012, during the last fiscal standoff. The figure is the first time a majority thought Republican control was bad for the country since CNN started asking in December 2010. Sixty-three percent of respondents want Boehner replaced, but by another Republican, which would not change GOP control of the House. The poll is yet another sign that the government shutdown has hurt the Republican party. An NBC/WSJ poll taken during the shutdown showed that 24 percent of people approved of the party, a record low. Gallup measured another record low for the GOP, with 28 percent approving. A poll released Sunday funded by Moveon.org and conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed that incumbent Republicans trailed generic Democrats in 15 of 25 competitive House districts.
In a special Sunday radio address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a health tip to the American people, advising them to delay getting cancer for a year. “We’re involved in a high-stakes fight over our freedom from centralized government control of our lives,” said Mr. Boehner, speaking on behalf of his House colleagues. “You can do your part by delaying getting cancer.” He added that heart disease, emphysema, and diabetes were among a laundry list of conditions that would be “patriotic to avoid for a year.”
News and Observer: Fight over NC’s voting laws: Is it race or is it politics?
North Carolina’s new restrictions on voting may favor the Republican Party, but Democrats must prove more than that to beat them in court. GOP legislators who passed the rules last summer say they are designed to streamline and modernize the state’s voting while also blocking election fraud, a problem they describe as rampant and undetected. Opponents – including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – say the claims of fraud are a ruse and that the laws are part of a national campaign by conservatives to suppress voting by minorities, the poor and the young. Those groups are part of an emerging Democratic coalition that swung North Carolina to President Barack Obama in 2008 and came close again four years later. Who wins in court may hinge on whether judges believe Republicans were motivated by politics or race. In other words, have black voters been discriminated against? Or were they legal targets of hard-ball GOP politics?
Maybe you think a photo ID requirement for voters makes common sense, but before you sneer at the U.S. Department of Justice for opposing North Carolina’s new law, please consider these two points. First, requiring a photo ID is a slogan, not a policy. The policy spells out the details. What if the policy said your photograph must be less than one year old and the name on your ID must perfectly match your name on the voter registration roll, with a complete middle name? Many who agree with an ID requirement would call such a policy excessive and unreasonable. Do you know what the actual policy adopted by the N.C. legislators says? I bet your own state legislator doesn’t know, either. The slogan won support, but are you sure the policy is reasonable? In truth, it’s quite extreme. If it was only as restrictive as, say, South Carolina’s, the Department of Justice would not be challenging it. Polls show that most North Carolinians think a voter who forgets or lacks the proper ID should be able to vote a sworn affidavit ballot, under penalty of a felony, and provide a Social Security or other identifying number that can be verified before the ballot is counted.
Hard-line conservatives aren’t just sticking it to the national GOP by shutting down the government and bringing the nation to the brink of default — they’re also refusing to pony up to help their party defend the House in 2014. With a little more than a year until the midterm election, many leaders of the shutdown strategy have yet to donate to the National Republican Congressional Committee, records show. At least eight of the debate’s 20 or so most outspoken figures have not given any money to the NRCC, and others have forked over token amounts. Their refusal to contribute to the House GOP’s political arm, coming as Republicans are getting thumped by Democrats in the money race, is causing heartburn and frustration among Republican strategists charged with laying the groundwork for next year’s races. They say it is reinforcing a perception of the conservative gang that they’re out only for themselves and don’t much care about advancing the party’s larger cause.
Americans for Prosperity is organizing bus loads of conservative activists in North Carolina to travel to Virginia ahead of that state’s much-watched governor’s race in November. The North Carolina activists will focus on turning out voters aligned with Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli in the Hampton Roads area not far across the state line. The tea party-aligned advocacy organization is taking three waves of volunteers for overnight trips to Virginia, starting Friday, to knock on doors and canvass neighborhoods. One team plans to stay through Oct. 30. The organization is paying for travel, accommodations and food, officials say. “It is our turn to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with people who believe that ‘freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction,’” an organizing email says, referencing a Ronald Reagan quote.
For a race that doesn’t really exist yet, the push to replace U.S. Rep. Mel Watt in the 12th Congressional District sure has gotten expensive. The half dozen candidates planning to seek Watt’s seat once his long-pending presidential appointment gets confirmed raised a collective $425,000 by the end of September. A lot of that money’s already been spent on campaign infrastructure that may be needed on short notice, given how hard it is to predict when – or even if – the U.S. Senate will confirm Watt’s nomination to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. "This is the most brutal race in the world," said state Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford and the contest’s most successful fundraiser so far."The (election) literally could be in 60 days or it could be in May," he said. "Normally you would not staff up in the field until it’s time. We don’t know when it’s time." Confirmation or no, Watt certainly doesn’t seem to expect to stay in Congress. His campaign committee had more than $68,000 on hand as of Sept. 30, but raised just $10 in the preceding three months.
Democratic mayoral candidate Patrick Cannon keeps one foot planted in Charlotte’s center city neighborhoods. He was raised in Fairview Homes and Pine Valley public housing. He belongs to a prominent church, The Park Ministries, based on Beatties Ford Road. And he has a longtime radio show on 105.3 FM, in which he discusses local and national political issues for a mostly African-American audience. “You are aiming with Cannon, live … Patrick D., that is,” said Cannon during an interview, reciting the intro to his show and morphing into his radio voice that he often uses during City Council meetings.
House Democrats have been all but written off in 2014, but now they finally have something to smile about: The twin fiscal crises that did a number on GOP approval ratings nationwide are providing a badly needed boost to Democratic candidate recruitment efforts.
More than a half-dozen blue-chip Democratic candidates who had been uneasy about running — or flatly declined to do so — are now jumping headlong into top-flight races. And they’re citing the ugly spectacle on Capitol Hill as a big reason. In Nebraska, Pete Festersen, an Omaha city councilman, announced earlier this month that he will try to unseat GOP Rep. Lee Terry. Festersen previously said he wouldn’t run against Terry, an eight-term incumbent with a history of narrow reelection wins.
Hillary Rodham Clinton rallied supporters of Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe Saturday, pointing to the race as a sign that divisive politics is giving way to "common sense and common ground." In her first public political event since departing the Obama administration, Clinton noted the end of the 16-day partial government shutdown, which affected many Virginians. More than 800,000 government workers were furloughed while Democrats and Republicans in Congress engaged in a partisan brawl over funding the country’s new health care program, funding the government and raising the debt ceiling before reaching an eleventh hour compromise. Clinton said the nation was watching the Virginia race to see whether voters "lead the way of turning from divisive politics, getting back to commonsense and common ground." "We cannot let those who do not believe in America’s progress to hijack this great experiment," Clinton added, endorsing her longtime family friend at an event billed, "Women for Terry McAuliffe."
Reflector: Candidates quizzed on issues
In the second Greenville municipal candidate forum, mayoral, at-large, District 1 and District 3 candidates were quizzed on what they have done and will do for the city’s black community and the city at large. The forum, sponsored by the African American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party, was held at the chapel at the Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Center. The forum was moderated by caucus parliamentarian R.J. Hemby. District 1 incumbent Kandie Smith was not present and at-large challenger Calvin Mercer gave an opening statement but had to leave early because of a prior commitment. About 50 people attended the forum.
Bill Clinton will spend three days campaigning across Virginia for close friend Terry McAuliffe ahead of the gubernatorial election. The former president plans to hit the trail from next Sunday through Tuesday for the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe’s campaign said Sunday that the locations for the joint appearances will be announced in the coming days. The Clintons have gone all-in for their longtime consigliere. Hillary Clinton rallied with McAuliffe on Saturday in Falls Church, Va. By election day, the couple will have done more than a dozen events—mostly fundraisers. McAuliffe is the heavy favorite next month over Republican Ken Cuccinelli so there is little political risk to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 hopes for all of the public support.
Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin, a second-term Republican, announced on Monday that he would not seek reelection in 2014, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. “It has been an agonizing and difficult decision involving much prayer, thought and discussion. We have decided that now is the time for me to focus intently on my top priority, my family, as Elizabeth and I raise our two young children,” Griffin said in a statement to the Arkansas news site Talk Business. “To that end, I will not seek re-election to a third term. I will complete my second term, but I have made no decision as to my plans after Congress except that I will continue in public service, including as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve,” he said.
For the first time in five years, Hillary Rodham Clinton was back on the campaign trail this past weekend, plugging away for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee and long-time Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe at a “Women for Terry” gathering. Clinton spoke about “common sense and common ground,” while McAuliffe hammered away on abortion rights and women’s health. According to the polls, McAuliffe continues to lead Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and is boosted by a 20 percent margin among women. All this should give Republicans pause, especially if the GOP intends to narrow a two-decades-old gender gap in voter support. To win in 2016, the GOP must show itself capable of addressing things that affect day-to-day life, which has been proven to appeal to female voters, as well as the Democratic Party. Otherwise it should expect to wander in the wilderness in the coming years.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has been spending more time on the Democratic banquet circuit, letting the party faithful know he’s ready to fight the new Republican agenda in Raleigh. And, by the way, he’s ready for bigger things. Cooper’s recent words and actions leave little doubt about his gubernatorial aspirations for 2016, even with GOP Gov. Pat McCrory on the job for less than a year. Reticent in the past on issues unrelated to crime and law enforcement, Cooper is now taking a more vocal role challenging Republicans who control both the legislative and executive branches for the first time in 140 years. "In just nine short months, they have set out to deliberately and systematically undo 50 years of progress," Cooper told the nearly 300 people at Guilford County party’s unity dinner earlier this month. "This is not the North Carolina that any of us recognizes." His stump speech, which blasts Republicans for refusing to expand Medicaid and raise teacher salaries while passing what he calls a tax overhaul that favors the rich, reflects Cooper’s willingness to captain a Democratic team whose players dominated state politics for generations but are now off the field. The state Democratic Party also has been in internal strife while losses mounted.
To borrow from Mark Twain, rumors of Aldona Wos’ departure were greatly exaggerated. However, they were also eminently believable. That’s why the rumors had such legs. And they may still be true–just not last week. Most people, including Republicans, Democrats and journalists, have expected Wos to go. She has proven to be an incompetent administrator with no visible political skills. More significantly, though, she has damaged Governor Pat McCrory’s reputation. (For a blog history of Aldona Wos’ tenure, click here.) Health and Human Services is the largest department in state government and the one most difficult to manage. In GOP world, though, it’s probably the least important. It just serves people, not businesses.
Gay couples waited until just past midnight Sunday to formally get married in towns across New Jersey, after the state Supreme Court refused to delay a judge’s ruling that the state could begin performing same-sex marriages. At ceremonies around the state, elected officials performed weddings in city halls, on boardwalks and in private homes. In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker presided over nine weddings that began just after midnight. New Jersey became the 14th state to allow same-sex couples to wed after Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in late September that denying marriage rights would be unconstitutional. Lawyers representing six couples said they would be denied more than 1,000 federal benefits if New Jersey didn’t recognize their unions. On Friday, the state Supreme Court said it saw no reason to delay that ruling. Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) administration said Monday it will drop its appeal. “Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court,” Christie’s office said in a statement Monday.
So now that our government is open and able to pay its bills, what soon-to-be-forgotten lessons have we learned from this sorry fiasco? Perhaps most important is the reminder that political temper tantrums in Washington exact a toll that goes far beyond unfavorable headlines and worse-than-dog-poo poll numbers. This decision hurt people. Some families couldn’t pay their bills. Others had nowhere safe to send their children while they worked. Poor women lost vouchers that helped buy food and formula for their newborns. Cancer and flirtation with default cost America north of $20 billion. The countries that weren’t busy treatments were put on hold for patients who didn’t have much time to waste. All told, the shutdown mocking us were frightened by our behavior, wondering if the world’s wealthiest nation would become the world’s deadbeat nation, taking everyone else down with us in a global collapse worse than 2008. And for what? For what purpose was this pain and humiliation inflicted upon the American people? Yes, you, Rep. Marlin Stutzman from Indiana. Do you have an answer? “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” Oh. Which brings me to the second shutdown lesson. As a country, we may never get a more revealing, disturbing look at the true source of Washington’s dysfunction than we did over the last few weeks. Together, we endured a 21-hour non-filibuster speech from White Castle enthusiast Ted Cruz that was so devoid of self-awareness I’m not even sure he knew he was giving it.
The conversation isn’t difficult to imagine – the governor and his wife, perhaps at the kitchen table, taking stock of their new home. “The bathrooms are in really bad shape,” one of them says. “The vanity has a crack in it.” Or worse: “Is that mold behind the sink?” If you’re a homeowner new or old, it’s a discussion you probably recognize. But if you’re N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and the state is spending $230,000 to fix your six executive mansion bathrooms? A little mold problem can quickly become a big perception problem. This week, after some headlines and public outcry over Pottygate, McCrory canceled most of the scheduled repairs to the bathrooms, which were last remodeled about 40 years ago. If that seems like a big stink over a relatively small budget item, well, yes. So why the outrage? One answer is that spending six figures on bathrooms seems indefensible when you’re preaching – and practicing – austerity in public spending. After all, public school teachers aren’t writing checks for pricey marble fixtures after another year without raises.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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