Texas Primary Today
Texans will go to the polls to nominate candidates for governor today.
The most hotly contested race is the Republican gubernatorial primary, which has become a three-way race
between Gov. Rick Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison,
and Deborah Medina, the favorite of the tea partiers.
All the polls show that Perry will win, but the big question is whether Medina, curently polling in the
low double digits, will siphon off enough votes to keep Perry from cracking 50%, thus forcing a runoff
between Perry and Hutchison. On the Democratic side, former Houston mayor Bill White is expected to win easily against an unknown opponent.
Win or lose, Hutchison has said she will resign from the Senate. If she follows through and does that, Gov. Perry will get to
appoint her successor but there will be a special election for the seat in November.
Republican 2012 Convention Will Be in Arizona, Florida, or Utah
The Republican National Committee has
the site of its 2012 convention to either Phoenix, AZ, Tampa, FL, or Salt Lake City, UT.
Each one comes with its own flavor. Arizona is expected to be a swing state in 2012, just as New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado were in 2008.
Without John McCain on the ticket, he Democrats are likely to contest it fiercely and having the Republican convention there might help the GOP. Florida is always a swing state and
much more populous than Arizona, so Tampa might give the GOP an edge in this key state. Utah is so solidly Republican that Obama
didn't even bother to campaign there. If Mitt Romney is the nominee, then having the convention in SLC would focus attention on his role in
the 2002 Winter Olympics, but also focus attention on his Mormon religion, which is more likely to be a net minus for him.
All in all, Tampa is probably the best choice for the Republicans. The Democrats have not announced their short list yet, but Las Vegas has
said it is already booked for 2012 and couldn't handle it.
Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin May Become Household Name Soon
If President Obama soon announces
that he wants to go forward on the health-insurance bill using reconciliation, as expected, then the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin,
will find himself in the crosshairs. Any bill passed by reconciliation must pass a strict test (basically that it has a major impact on the
federal budget) and the bill passed by the Senate would never pass muster. For this reason, the most likely strategy for the Democrats is to
get the House to pass the Senate bill intact, have Obama sign it into law, and then pass a sidecar bill via reconciliation. If this route
is followed, then Frumin has to rule on whether the sidecar bill is allowed, which will thrust him into the spotlight.
Here is some background
on him and his job. However, it is important to understand that Frumin's role is entirely advisory. The final decision on what is
acceptable is made by the presiding officer of the Senate--Vice President Joe Biden. Any senator may to object to a ruling Biden makes, in
which case there is a straight up-or-down vote on whether to sustain or overturn the ruling. It is inconceivable that nine Democrats would
vote to overrule him, so in practice, Biden's rulings are definitive.
There is likely to be a psychological battle for public opinion if the Democrats go this route. The Republicans will try to frame
reconciliation as an un-American parliamentary trick that shouldn't be used for something this important (even though 14 of the past 22
reconciliations since Reagan was President have been by the Republicans, often for equally important subjects). The Democrats, if they are
smart, will say they believe in majority rule and they just want to let the Senate vote and see if the majority supports them. But the
framing here is crucial for winning public opinion: is reconciliation a trick or is it just majority rule.
Ford Will Not Challenge Gillibrand
Former representative Harold Ford (D) has said
that he will not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a primary saying that while he could win the primary, it would be
devisive and the winner would be bloodied going into the general election, so for the good of the party he is not running.
(English translation: the state's powerful senior senator, Chuck Schumer, told Ford that he would do absolutely everything in his
power to destroy Ford if he ran against Schumer's protege, Gillibrand, and Ford understood that he really meant it
since Schumer already drove representatives Carolyn Maloney, Carolyn McCarthy, and Steve Israel from the race).
It takes only a little imagination to envision Gillibrand commercials saying: "Apparently the banks think they didn't got enough taxpayer
money so they want their own senator so they can get more." (Ford is vice president of Merrill Lynch). With Ford out of the way, Gillibrand should have
clear sailing for reelection. The only Republican candidate so far is former representative Rick Lazio, who has little chance.
Halter Will Challenge Lincoln in Arkansas Democratic Primary
Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D-AR) will challange
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in a primary.
Halter is somewhat to the left of Lincoln, which puts pressure on her now to support the health-insurance bill.
Despite always going for the Republican in presidential elections, Arkansas is actually a very Democratic state, with the
Democrats controlling the governor's mansion, both Senate seats, three of the four House seats, and both chambers of the
state legislature. With a challenge from the left coming up, Lincoln is going to have to prove to the state's many Democrats
that she really is a Democrat, not Republican-lite. Her approval ratings of late have been terrible with the polls saying
she would lose to any Republican. If Halter wins the primary, its a new ball game.
The most likely Republican to get the nomination is Rep. John Boozman, although he will have to get through a primary first.
A Halter-Boozman race would have to be considered a tossup this early.
Deal Resigns from Congress
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) has announced
that he is resigning from the House to devote his full energy to running for governor. His resignation means that there are now four vacant seats
in the House, the other three of them Democratic seats. The openings were created by the resignations of Robert Wexler (D-FL) and
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and the death of John Murtha (D-PA). All four seats will be filled by special elections later this year.
The significance of four vacancies is that passing the health-insurance bill now requires only 216 votes instead of 218. When the original
bill passed last year, 220 members voted for it. Of those, Wexler, Abercrombie, and Murtha are no longer available to vote for it and Joseph Cao (R-LA)
has said he now opposes the bill. Thus Deal's resignation reduces the number of votes needed for passage to precisely the number available.
In other words, if everyone votes on the new bill the way he or she voted on the old bill, it will pass 216 to 215. What a squeaker.
But Lyndon Johnson once said that if a bill passed with one vote more than he needed, he gave away too much.
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