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On Secret Tape, McConnell Promises Koch Brothers Gridlock

On June 16, the conservative billionaire Koch brothers held a retreat in California to which select Republican politicians were invited. An audio tape of the meeting has now leaked out. and may hurt the Republicans the way Mitt Romney's "47% are takers" remark did in 2012. At the meeting, Sen. Mitch McConnell, who stands to become majority leader if (1) he is reelected and (2) the Republicans take control of the Senate, described how he plans to use the budget reconciliation process to stymie President Obama and roll back some of his accomplishments. Bills passed using the budget reconciliation process require only 51 votes and cannot be filibustered. McConnell also promised the big donors that he would attach riders to must-pass bills to force Obama to do certain things and prohibit him from doing other things. If he were to veto these bills, it could lead to a government shutdown.

McConnell wasn't the only Senate candidate present. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who is running against Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), skipped out on the Arkansas Pink Tomato Festival, an Arkansas tradition, to attend the meeting. Pryor will certainly attack him for skipping a beloved Arkansas event to go kowtow to the Koch brothers. Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst was also present and talked about how her victory would set the stage for Republicans in the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Colorado Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) made a pitch about how a victory for him would end the Democrats' attempts to take over the Mountain West.

As this story plays out, Democrats in tight races are going to use it to say that their opponents are the handmaidens of the Koch brothers and don't care about their own constituents. The Koch brothers may try to counter this by putting even more money into key races.

Nunn Running Clone of Most Effective 2012 Ad

As Yogi Berra once said: "It's deja vu all over again." Not only is there a secret tape that suddenly emerges, but the 2012 ad that Ace Metrix, a television analytics company, said was the most effective ad of 2012 has been cloned by Michelle Nunn in her battle with wealthy businessman David Perdue in Georgia. The 2012 ad showed distressed workers talking about how Mitt Romney bought their company and suddenly just shut it down. Nunn's ad (made by the same firm that made the 2012 ad) does exactly the same thing and in the same style, only this time it is about Pillowtex, a textile company that Perdue once ran. A few months after he left, it filed for bankruptcy, wiping out 7650 jobs. Basically, the ad tries to turn Perdue into a mini-Romney and paint him as a heartless plutocrat who doesn't care about ordinary people. One difference between the Romney ad and the Perdue ad is that most of the jobs lost when Pillowtex shut down were in North Carolina, not in Georgia, so it may not resonate as strongly with Georgia voters.

Obama's Action on Immigration Could Upend the Midterm Elections

In Washington, it is now widely expected that President Obama will take some kind of unilateral action on immigration by executive order. Such an action could make immigration a key issue in the elections and change the course of several races. If he decides to make deporting certain illegal aliens a low priority, it could energize the Republican base in some states but it could also cause Latinos who weren't planning to vote to do so. It could also cause hot-headed Republicans to call for Obama's impeachment, an action that the Republican leadership considers extremely toxic (at least until after the elections).

The effect of such a move on immigration would be felt differently in different states. It could mean the death knell for Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), a state with a very small Latino population but it could pull Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) over the finish line since he is running in a state where 20% of the population consists of Latinos. In states like North Carolina the effect could be mixed.

Republican Poll of Women: GOP Intolerant and Stuck in the Past

After Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, RNC chairman Reince Priebus commissioned a study to figure out how to improve the party's chances in the future. One of the items in the report was to attract more women. A new report based on a poll of women of 800 female voters and eight focus groups was obtained by Politico. It concludes that women see the Republican Party as intolerant, lacking in compassion, and stuck in the past. It also measured the "gender gap" at 10%. Surprisingly, Republican policy initiatives that were designed to attract women, such as charter schools, were quite unpopular.

Could Romney Run Again in 2016?

Unlike the Democrats, who have a clear front runner (Hillary Clinton) for 2016, the Republicans do not. While there are multiple candidates more-or-less aligned with the tea party, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the establishment wing of the party does not have a clear favorite. Three governors, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), are all possibilities, but all are embroiled in scandals. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush would be popular but he has given no sign of being interested. 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) may be aiming to become speaker of the House when Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) calls it quits. As a result, some Republicans are beginning to think about another Romney candidacy. One recent poll showed that if Romney were to run against Obama again, he would win 53% to 44%. Of course, in 2016 he would not face Obama, but a different Democratic nominee. Another poll shows him leading the Iowa caucuses for 2016 with 35% even though he lost the Iowa caucuses in 2012 to Rick Santorum. Although it is unlikely that Romney will run again in 2016, it is not unprecedented for a major party to nominate the same person in two consecutive elections. The Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and again in 1956. He lost badly both times.

Bobby Jindal Takes Step in the Direction of a 2016 Run

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration yesterday charging that it "forced" the states to adopt the Common Core educational requirements by offering them federal grants to help with compliance. The Common Core standards were developed by the states through the National Governors Association (not by the federal government). They state what students should know at the end of each grade from K to 12th grade. What is significant about this lawsuit is that until recently Jindal supported the standards and Louisiana adopted them and received $17 million from the federal government to implement them. Jindal is now publicly opposing something he until recently supported because conservatives see it as a bête noir and fear that Common Core is a step towards nationalizing the educational curriculum. While Common Core deals only with math and English, if it is successful, it might later be expanded to cover other subjects, including science. If that were to happen and students were expected to know all about Darwin's theory of evolution, it would no longer be possible for a state or city to skip it in biology class or replace it with the story of how the world was created taken from the Bible. So to run in 2016, Jindal needs to dissociate himself from his own long-standing support of Common Core and suing Obama seemed to him like a good way to do it.

Christie Investigations Continuing under the Radar

While potential GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is trying to get all the publicity he can, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), another potential candidate is trying to avoid it, or at least control it. U.S. attorney Paul Fishman convened a grand jury in June to hear evidence that Christie was involved in closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge last September. Since the bridge connects New Jersey to New York, this action could be construed as interfering with interstate commerce, a federal felony. Also under investigation is whether Christie threatened the mayor of Hoboken with reprisals if she did not approve a development project proposed by Christie's associates. Finally, he is also under investigation for improperly diverting funds from the Port Authority to repair roads in New Jersey. If he is indicted, it will probably end his presidential ambitions. But even if he is not indicted, he has to worry about a committee of the state legislature, which is controlled by the Democrats, which could find that he has misused his office and impeach him.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Arkansas Mark Pryor* 44% Tom Cotton 43%     Aug 25 Aug 26 Rasmussen
Iowa Bruce Braley 40% Joni Ernst 40%     Aug 23 Aug 26 Suffolk U.
Maine Shenna Bellows 33% Susan Collins* 57%     Aug 16 Aug 18 PPP
Oregon Jeff Merkley* 47% Monica Wehby 38%     Aug 05 Aug 07 Moore Information

* Denotes incumbent

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