Morning Digest: This Republican-turned-in​dependent is now running for Congress as a Democrat

  • AZ-01: Former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran served in the legislature for eight years as a Republican until a conservative challenger narrowly knocked him out in a 2008 primary. He then made a comeback bid last year as an independent in a different district, and nearly unseated the Republican incumbent, taking 48 percent of the vote (no Democrat was on the ballot). Now O’Halleran’s joined the Democratic Party and will run for Congress in Arizona’s 1st District, which is open due to Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s Senate bid. That makes him the first Democrat to officially dive in, though state Sen. Barbara McGuire recently formed an exploratory committee, and several others are considering bids. Given O’Halleran’s Charlie Crist-ian migration to the left, he might struggle to win a Democratic primary, but Roll Call‘s Eli Yokley notes that former state Democratic Party executive director DJ Quinlan is running O’Halleran’s campaign, and Quinlan’s seal of approval may help his new boss earn some establishment support. The Republican field is also unsettled, with two declared candidates, rancher Gary Kiehne and former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, plus a whole host of others who are still looking. One of them, interestingly enough, is state Sen. Steve Pierce, the conservative who denied O’Halleran renomination back in 2008. It certainly would be compelling to see the two square off once again, this time as members of different parties.


  • AR-Sen: Conner Eldridge, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, is supposedly considering a challenge to freshman GOP Sen. John Boozman next year, but as Jay Barth rightly wonders in the Arkansas Times, would such a bid even be worth it? Arkansas is a firmly red state these days, and Boozman simply hasn’t pissed anyone off. In short, it’s all but impossible to see a path to victory. Eldridge, who at 37 is the youngest U.S. attorney in the country, will probably find his current gig coming to an end once a new president is in the White House, but there are plenty of things he can do with his life. One option might be to run for the House instead: Though his turf as USA covers the extremely Republican western half of the state, he’s from the 1st District, which could be winnable by a Democrat in the right circumstances.
  • MD-Sen: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich was one of googolplex Republicans considering a presidential bid, but he ultimately decided there was no way he could beat out the likes of Jim Gilmore for his party’s nomination. However, could he still seek out Maryland’s open Senate seat? Ehrlich’s only offering a classic not-a-no response to the question, saying only that he “has no plans” to run (in the words of the AP). He’d be faintly nuts to try, though: After winning the governorship in an upset in 2002, Ehrlich got turfed out by Martin O’Malley in 2006, then bombed in a comeback bid four years later despite the 2010 GOP wave. What’s more, the Old Line State hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since Charles Mathias won his last election in 1980—and in any event, Mathias was quite liberal. Ehrlich is not.
  • NH, OH, WI-Sen: NARAL is running new TV ads slamming a trio of Republican senators—Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—for their recent votes to defund Planned Parenthood. It’ll be interesting to see if this issue is still playing a real role on the campaign trail come this time next year, but since there’s no word on the size of the buy, NARAL may just be seeking a press hit (for now).
  • PA-Sen: As expected, Katie McGinty, who recently stepped down as Gov. Tom Wolf’s chief of staff, has entered the Democratic primary for Senate. There she’ll face off against ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, the party’s 2010 nominee. Both are vying to take on GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who narrowly beat Sestak five years ago.


  • IN-Gov: Three Democrats are already running against GOP Gov. Mike Pence, and one of them, 2012 nominee John Gregg, even outraised the incumbent in the first half of the year, but now a fourth is considering, too. Tom Sugar, a former campaign manager and chief of staff to ex-Sen. Evan Bayh, says he’s thinking about joining the field but didn’t offer a timetable. While there might be some ideological space in the primary—Gregg is a fairly conservative on social issues—Sugar’s devoted himself to redistricting reform in recent years and says he’d on the issue if he decides to make a bid. That’s a worthy cause, but it’s also not the kind of topic that tends to fire up voters.


  • FL-02: Physician and businessman Neal Dunn, who recently filed paperwork to run here, will make his bid official with a formal announcement on Friday. He joins attorney Mary Thomas in the GOP primary, for the putative right to take on Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham. But with redistricting set to scramble Florida’s 2nd District, it’s impossible to properly handicap this race.
  • FL-18: Conservative pundit Noelle Nikpour, who’d been considering a run for Congress since at least late April, has announced that she’s in. Nikpour joins an incredibly crowded Republican primary for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which is open thanks to Rep. Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid. But no one candidate has yet lit the world on fire or even warmed it up a touch, so Nikpour might have as good an opening as anyone. However, it’s worth noting that she just moved to Florida earlier this year for the express purpose of running for Congress. Even in a state known as a top destination for migrants, that sort of carpetbagging might be a bridge too far for voters.
  • LA-03, 04: Both Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming have told their supporters that if David Vitter is elected governor this fall, they’re going to run to succeed him in the Senate. It’s quite possible that either congressman may back down and seek re-election if Vitter appoints someone else to his seat, but for now it looks very likely that at least one of these two districts will be open soon. Over at LA Politics, Jeremy Alford takes a look at the emerging fields in both districts. Over in the 3rd, GOP state Rep. Brett Geymann is already in, telling Alford that he believes it will be an open seat. Alford also mentions termed-out Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel and Public Service Commissioner and current gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle, though it’s unclear how interested either Republican is (and even if Angelle actually is eyeing this seat, he’s unlikely to say so as long as he’s running for governor). Democrats last won a version of this seat in 2002 but this Lafayette-area seat hasn’t been friendly to Team Blue in recent cycles: Romney carried it 66-32 and Bill Cassidy took it by a similar margin in last year’s Senate race. Things are a bit more unsettled in northwest Louisiana’s 4th District. Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Jason Brown is reportedly telling people he’s interested, though Brown hasn’t commented publicly. There are also rumors that Mike Reese, who leads a prominent group dedicated to keeping Fort Polk open, could run. Reese describes himself as a “moderate Republican,” which could pay off if he’s in a runoff with a more conservative Republican, but could hamper him in a jungle primary. Alford also says that Democratic ex-Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover could jump in, though Glover may be more interested in a state Senate campaign this year. There are plenty of other Republicans who could give this a shot if Fleming departs. Back in January, the National Journal mentioned state Reps. Mike Johnson and Alan Seabaugh, Shreveport Councilman Oliver Jenkins, and Judge Jeff Thompson as potential candidates. Democrats almost picked up this seat in 2008 but it’s been safely red since then: Romney won it 59-37, while Cassidy carried it 58-42.
  • MD-08: Former Montgomery County Council president Valerie Ervin just won the endorsement of Maryland Working Families, a younger cousin of New York’s better-known Working Families Party. (In fact, prior to running, Ervin had worked for the New York branch.) The Democratic primary in this safely blue open seat is already quite busy, and two candidates raised over half a million bucks each last quarter, but Ervin (who waited until after the fundraising deadline to announce) could get a big boost from organized labor, which is the chief backer of the Working Families movement.
  • ME-02: Ex-state Sen. Troy Jackson had been considering a second run for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, even though he sounded unlikely to go for it since the Democratic establishment had already rallied behind the woman who beat him in the primary last year, Emily Cain. Now he confirms “that ship has sailed” for good, particularly, it seems, in light of the recent entry of Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. Jackson didn’t endorse either candidate, though Roll Call says he’s leaning toward Baldacci, but he also cautioned Baldacci that he didn’t think his emerging campaign theme of trying to paint Cain as an outsider (she was born in Kentucky and moved to Maine for college in the 1990s) would be effective.
  • MN-01: Army vet Aaron Miller, who won his party’s endorsement at the GOP convention last year but lost the nomination in the primary to businessman Jim Hagedorn, has decided not to run against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz a second time. Hagedorn, who lost to Walz by a 54-46 margin, is seeking a rematch. He is the only Republican currently running.
  • NY-01: The two Democrats vying for the chance to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin—Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and venture capitalist Dave Calone—have both already raised half a million bucks each, so it’s not surprising that a third potential candidate, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, has decided against a bid of her own. Roll Call‘s Ivan Levingston also reports that, according to two nameless sources, another would-be contender, former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko is unlikely to run as well.
  • NY-13: Democratic state Sen. Bill Perkins sounds like he’s very interested in running to succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel, but he didn’t quite utter the magic words, saying only that he’s “looking forward to replacing” the incumbent. So are a lot of other Democrats, though, such as Assemblyman Keith Wright, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, and former Obama official Suzanne Johnson Cook, who, unlike Perkins, have all formally declared bids. And there are several other potential candidates, too, including state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in both 2012 and 2014; Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who is reportedly considering a bid; and former New York City Councilman Robert Jackson.
  • SD-AL: Democrats have a very difficult task ahead of them if they want to unseat Rep. Kristi Noem, but state Rep. Paula Hawks has announced that she’ll take on the third-term Republican. Hawks represents a Sioux Falls-area seat that Romney carried 53-45, so she does have some experience winning on tough turf. But South Dakota hasn’t been friendly to national Democrats in recent years, and Noem hasn’t done much to alienate conservative voters in this red state.

Other Races:

  • Charlotte Mayor: In a recent item on the Charlotte, North Carolina mayor’s race, we misstated the candidates’ cash-on-hand totals. The correct numbers, as of June 30, are:
    • Former City Councilor and 2013 nominee Edwin Peacock (R): $113,000

    Both party primaries are on Sept. 15. If no one takes more than 40 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to an Oct. 6 runoff. The general election is Nov. 3.

  • Philadelphia Mayor: The filing deadline for independent candidates passed on Monday, and the general election will remain uneventful. While former GOP nominee Sam Katz and ex-Democratic Councilor Bill Green initially flirted with independent bids and later talked about forming their own party to run for the City Council, neither of them will be on the 2015 ballot. A few of the usual assortment of Some Dudes filed to run, but it looks like Democratic nominee Jim Kenney will have nothing to worry about this November.
  • San Francisco Mayor: Incumbent Ed Lee looked like he was in for a very easy re-election campaign this November, but this contest may be about to get a lot more interesting. On Tuesday, prosecutors presented evidence in federal court against Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who is awaiting trial for racketeering. The prosecutors say that Lee was one of several local politicians whom undercover FBI agents caught taking bribes. Lee has not been charged with anything, but there’s no doubt that this whole matter is incredibly ugly for the mayor. The candidate filing deadline was back in June, and none of Lee’s opponents look very credible. But the deadline for write-in candidates isn’t until Oct. 20, so it may not be too late for someone serious to challenge Lee. We’ll need to see if anyone steps forward, but things are suddenly a lot more exciting here.

Grab Bag:

  • Deaths: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker, who was mostly known as a liberal back in the days when the GOP actually had some but nevertheless agreed to serve as Ronald Reagan’s running mate in 1976, died on Friday at the age of 89. Reagan’s selection of Schweiker was a stunner, and the story is impeccably told in Rick Perlstein’s newest book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, which is a must-read for every political junkie. Reagan’s campaign manager, John Sears, proposed the idea as a desperate ploy to stave off what appeared a near-certain loss to Jerry Ford in July of ’76, just ahead of the convention. The delegate count was tight, but Ford appeared to have a distinct edge, and Sears sought to shake the race up. Reagan had previously excoriatedthe notion of tapping a liberal for the VP slot, butPerlstein explains how Sears won him over:

    The idea was to back Ford into a political corner by forcing him to announce his own pick, perchance to shake loose some conservative delegates if Ford picked a liberal, and some liberal delegates if he picked a conservative. (The presumption was that Reagan’s delegates were too loyal to budge, no matter what.)

    It didn’t work—Ford held on and won a narrow majority of delegates—but Reagan never forgot Schweiker’s loyalty, even though he picked a different number two (George H.W. Bush) for his successful presidential bid in 1980. After Schweiker retired from the Senate in 1981, Reagan appointed him to run the Department of Health and Human Services, where he presided over extensive cuts to social services. Schweiker was succeeded in the Senate by another Republican, Arlen Specter.

  • Redistricting: The highest echelons of the Democratic Party seem to have finally acknowledged that the battle over the next round of redistricting will be fought years in advance and are at least signaling that they won’t be caught off-guard against like they were in 2010. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has already launched a program aimed at electing more Democratic lawmakers in key states called Advantage 2020, and now the Democratic Governors Association is stepping up for the other half of the equation—gubernatorial races—with a special fundraising effort (“Unrig the Map”) that’s being led by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock. But it’s easy to announce plans like this. The real question is whether the DGA can make gains in places like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida in the critical year of 2018, when voters will elect the governors who oversee congressional line drawing following the 2020 Census. McAuliffe says, “This effort is the first time the party has really taken a serious effort at winning these races,” but that’s just not true—Democrats tried hard last year. Can a newfound commitment (and increased fundraising) turn the tide on midterm apathy? We’ll see.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.

the Senate ~~ CONGRESS 8/5 ~~ the House

NWLCHands-Circle-180The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30am on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.754, Cybersecurity. The time following Leader remarks until the cloture vote will be equally divided between the Managers or their designees. Unless an agreement is reached, the cloture vote on the motion to proceed will occur one hour after the Senate convenes tomorrow, Wednesday, August 5.

No Roll Call Votes

Legislative Business

Agreed to H.Con.Res.72, the Adjournment Resolution.

Passed H.R.212, Drinking Water Protection.

Passed S.1523, National Estuary Program with Whitehouse amendment.

Passed S.1707, to designate the Federal building located at 617 Walnut Street in Helena, Arkansas, as the “Jacob Trieber Federal Building, United States Post Office, and United States Court House”.

Passed Calendar #163, H.R.720 – Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2015, with committee-reported substitute amendment.

Passed Calendar #167, S.1576 – Representative Payee Fraud Prevention Act of 2015, with committee-reported amendments.

Passed Calendar #172, S.1596 and Calendar #173, S.1896, en bloc – Postal Namings

Passed Calendar #185, S.1347 – the treatment of patient encounters in ambulatory surgical centers in determining meaningful EHR use, with committee-reported amendment.

Passed Calendar #187, S.1362 – to clarify waiver authority regarding programs of all-inclusive care for the elderly, with committee-reported substitute amendment.

Passed Calendar #192, H.R.1531 – Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act of 2015.

Passed H.R.2131 – J. Waties Waring Judicial Center.

Passed H.R.2559 – PFC Milton A. Lee Medal of Honor Memorial Highway.

Adopted S.Res.228 – National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Adopted S.Res.230 – National Lobster Day.

Adopted S.Res.248 – Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.


The next meeting is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on August 7, 2015 unless it sooner receives a message from the Senate transmitting its concurrence in H. Con. Res. 72, in which case the House stands adjourned pursuant to that resolution.

Last Floor Action:
12:06:56 P.M. – The Speaker announced that the House do now adjourn. The next meeting is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on August 7, 2015 unless it sooner receives a message from the Senate transmitting its concurrence in H. Con. Res. 72, in which case the House stands adjourned pursuant to that resolution.


What the Clean Power Plan Means for America

Young African Leaders React to President ObamaYesterday, President Obama announced the finalization of America’s Clean Power Plan, the biggest step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change. This plan sets the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, while providing states and utilities with the flexibility they need to meet those standards.


The Clean Power Plan: Myths and Facts

Just because this common-sense proposal will have huge benefits for hard-working Americans across the country, doesn’t mean some people won’t spread misinformation and launch false attacks. We’re setting the record straight.


The President Speaks at the YALI 2015 Summit

Yesterday, President Obama delivered remarks at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Washington Fellowship Presidential Summit.


Hundreds Rally to Save Arizona’s Salt River Wild Horses

Straight from the Horse's Heart


by Elizabeth Stuart


Wild horses hovered nearby during a rally Tuesday protesting the federal government’s plans to round up and remove a well-loved herd from Tonto National Forest.  (photos by Elizabeth Stuart)

The sun is slipping down in the sky on a 112-degree day in Tonto National Forest, casting long shadows over a small herd of horses. A dappled gray, a bay, a dun, and a knock-kneed colt with a star on her forehead snuffle through the underbrush, enjoying dinner to the sounds of chirping birds, buzzing bees, and several hundred people shouting: “Let them be! Wild and Free! Let them be! Wild and Free!”

The crowd gathered Tuesday at a recreation area near the Salt River, where between 65 and 100 such horses roam free, to protest the government’s plan to round them up and remove them from federal lands. Horses that are not claimed by Friday…

View original post 487 more words

The Clean Power Plan, By The Numbers


The Obama Administration Formally Releases The U.S.’s Strongest Action Ever To Combat Climate Change

Undeniably, the climate is changing and human activity is causing it. Today, President Obama released a finalized version of the Clean Power Plan, a first-of-its-kind plan to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants. The Clean Power Plan is the most ambitious action yet taken in the United States to slow global warming, and is a key part of the president’s strategy in the global fight against climate change. A draft version of the plan was released last summer and the final version responds to more than 4.3 million comments from states, utilities, communities, and more. Here are a few key things to know about the finalized rule:

  • 40 percent: Carbon-dioxide pollution is the leading contributor to climate change and power plants produce the largest amount of carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States, making up about 40 percent of all carbon pollution in the country.
  • 32 percent: Under the finalized version of the Clean Power Plan, states will be required to reduce carbon pollution by 32 percent from 2005 levels—a nine percent increase from the previous target.
  • $93 billion: The projected benefits far outweigh the costs of implementing the plan. The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits of up to $93 billion by 2030.
  • $85: The average American family will see annual savings of $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and between 2020 and 2030 consumers will save a total of $155 billion.
  • 3,600: By 2030, the reduction in power plant pollution will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths a year.
  • 870 million: When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, there will be 870 million tons less carbon pollution—that is the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 166 million cars, or 70 percent of cars in the country.

The EPA has the legal authority to regulate carbon pollution because of the danger it poses to public health and the environment. The finalized plan offers an opportunity for each state to take a leading role in how it meets carbon reduction and renewable energy targets. “We’ll reward states that take actions sooner, rather than later, because time is not on our side,” Obama said at a press conference earlier today.

Unsurprisingly, the rule has been met with much criticism from conservatives. Promises of non-compliance and lawsuits challenging the rule have been flowing consistently since the draft rule was released more than a year ago. One of the chief conservative complaints against the law is that it will raise energy prices and kill jobs—two things that just aren’t true: a recent report by Georgia Tech last week found that the Clean Energy Plan will lower energy bills, and several studies project a net increases of tens of thousands jobs across the country.

BOTTOM LINE: The Clean Power Plan is more than just an initiative. It is a responsibility. It is the path forward to a cleaner, safer, and healthier country and is the greatest action on climate change ever taken in American history.

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