Ask Aaron: This week in politics

Jul 02, 2013

Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly Post Politics chat series.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest "Ask Aaron" live chat. Lots of questions in already. Let's get started!

I keep hearing the media proclaim that it is only a matter of time before Texas turns purple. I don't buy it. Sure maybe at some point they can pick off a statewide office, but to me it reminds me more of PA or MI for the R's. Lucy pulling the football.

The difference between Texas and those two states is that Texas is undergoing rapid population growth. While Pennsylvania and Michigan lost House seats after the Census this year (due to slow growth), Texas gained four -- that's right, four -- seats. A lot of that is because of the growing Hispanic population.

In fact, Texas will soon join New Mexico and California as plurality-Hispanic states (California earned that distinction just this week). New Mexico and California, as you might have noticed, are blue states.

Will Tim Scott have a primary challenge in 2014?

Any serious South Carolina Republican who wants to be a senator in 2014 will run against Lindsey Graham, not Tim Scott. Scott got lucky by having his race the same year as Graham.

This is not directed at you or The Fix staff, but the media's coverage of Ms. Davis is laughable. Can you imagine if Senator X from New York filibustered Cuomo's new abortion rights bill, that the Sunday Shows would have that senator on and not ask one tough question?

It's a fair criticism. The coverage of Davis has been very positive. 

I think part of it, though, is that politcal journalists love 1) the next big star and 2) the little guy. Davis certainly has star quality -- great life story, attractive, ability to talk for 11 hours -- and is fighting against a Republican-dominated state government.

True, but Perry and Cruz I believe have received a large amount of he Hispanic vote. It seems Republicans have learned to get those votes.

Cruz's team claims he won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. I'm not sure we have the data to back that up.

(Jennifer Rubin looked at this recently: http://wapo.st/1b5uKVO)

Yes, Texas and Florida Hispanics are more Republican than Hispanics elsewhere. But they're still significantly leaning toward the Democrats and shifting even moreso in that direction. It's a long-term problem for the GOP in Texas.

What do you think of the "Grimes for Senate" website?

Here's my just-published take on her underwhelming launch: http://wapo.st/17F5pzK

In sum: It wasn't good. And anybody who wants to contribute money to her campaign right now has no campaign website to go to. Plus, why did she have to have her secretary of state banner behind her?

For now, this is a momentary headache for Grimes. Where it becomes a migraine is if its symptomatic of an inferior campaign and candidate. We'll see.

Is there any indication what type of Democrat she is, in regards to issues like abortion, gay marriage, and guns? I'm assuming she would need to be at least moderate in those issues to be acceptable.

I think you're right. I'm not sure how much she was pinned down on those issues during her secretary of state campaign. (Social issues aren't really part of the job.) And we were asking ourselves those same questions yesterday.

She did somewhat distance herself from Obama yesterday, which suggests she's pragmatic. But she didn't answer many questions. The race to define Alison Lundergan Grimes has begun. She better weigh in soon.

Can you handicap the race? Also, is this a win, win for her, in that even if she loses she can build her name recognition for a Gov or AG run in 2015?

Is it a win-win? No.

Can she still win even if she loses? Yes.

The fact is that running against McConnell is very dangerous, and his campaign is going to be ruthless.

If Grimes can survive that, not do any damage to her political brand, and have a respectable result (45 percent plus?), then I think she did herself some good.

Remember, she's only 34. There's lots of future here.

Who will play him in the movie? I thought maybe Edward Norton.

Yes! He's got a very young Edward Norton thing going on -- like Fight Club Edward Norton.

Seems like a much better fit to run a national feminist organization than to run statewide in Texas.

I think that's a much more likely path. It's great for her that she's now famous, but she's famous for being pro-choice in Texas. That's not exactly a winning issue statewide.

I think it's much more likely that the first Democrat to return to statewide office in Texas is a Hispanic candidate like one of the Castros -- someone who can win traditionally Democratic voters and then increase turnout in the Hispanic community (much like Obama did in 2012).

Except for Rand Paul, Republicans seem to be very reluctant to engage this issue. Why?

It's just a very difficult issue, and it's very tough to see where the political advantage is in pushing it.

Polls don't show Americans are up in arms (so to speak) about this stuff, and until they are, the GOP doesn't have a huge incentive to push it.

I also think that a lot of these lawmakers really do think these programs are vital to national security. They thought that way under Bush, and they still feel that way today.

He can claim a little credit for the DOMA case, since he led the battle against Robert Bork in 1987, which led to Reagan nominating Anthony Kennedy.

So Biden LITERALLY paved the way for DOMA to be struck down -- before it was even a law!

He seems unpopular, but he is also facing a defeated one term house member. Rate where he stands right now.

Mark Schauer is a one-term House member, yes, but he's pretty well-regarded in spite of it. And he's a heckuva lot better than Dems' 2010 nominee, Virg Bernero.

I think right now it's 55-45 Schauer, just because the state leans blue.

When/If Eric Holder leaves, who are the candidates to take over?

I think you need to look hard at Deval Patrick.

Others: 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

Janet Napolitano

Illinois AG Lisa Madigan

I don't think the media coverage has been over the top, but I think a large part of it is due to the fact that the filibuster rules in Texas are unlike anywhere else. One senator standing and talking on her own for 11 hours straight is far more interesting than 10 reading straight from the phone book.

Talking filibusters of any sort are just fascinating. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing more of them. They were just made for the digital/Twitter age.

This seems to be a race of who can appear least horrible. I don't understand why Republicans did not nominate Bolling. He would be walking away with it right now.

Possibly. But Republicans didn't nominate Bolling because they couldn't; these are elections, not coronations. If the Republican Party leadership had their way in these primaries, we never would have seen Akin, Mourdock, Cruz, Rubio, etc.  -- or E.W. Jackson.

Plausible candidate against Hillary in 2016? 1. Has nothing to lose. 2. Has no friends to alienate. Hates the Clintons. 3. Likes media attention. 4. Appeal to diehard liberals. 5. Plausible messenger on issues like NSA / Guantanamo, etc. that appeal to MSNBC-watching liberals, but few other folks. I'm not saying that he wins the nomination, or even any primaries. But I could see him running.

I think you make some great points. And I agree with most of them.

But almost all of them also applied in 2008, and he didn't run.

Maybe he just felt the need to put some more distance between the Dean Scream and his next run.

Assume she's the nominee in 2016. Who would be the front-runners to be her VP? I'm guessing a white guy from the South or West: John Hickenlooper, Brian Schweitzer, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine. maybe one of the Udalls.

It's a tough question. Maybe whoever is nicest to her in the primary? (That's a half-joke.)

I think the Western/Virginia approach is a good one. If I had to wager, I'd lean towards one of the Virginia guys -- more likely Warner.

Why is he so unpopular in Rhode Island? I recall him being a pretty well-liked senator, who only lost because of the (R) after his name, which he doesn't have anymore.

A lot of it has to do with a still-stagnant economy in Rhode Island. Unemployment was still near 10 percent at the start of the year.

And I think being a senator better suited Chafee, who isn't a great communicator. In tough times as governor, you need to be able to make the case that you're succeeding. I'm not sure he's done that.

Outside the Republican base, is this now dead as an issue? How much attention will the media still give it?

It's not dead, but it's certainly not going anywhere right now. But facts come out and things change. We shall see. It's on the back burner.

What are Schatz's prospects for holding on against the Congresswoman? Sorry I can't remember her name.

Colleen Hanabusa. We actually have two new polls today. One from Emily's List (backing Hanabusa) shows her up 11. The other is from Schatz pollster Mark Mellman showing a tie.

This will be a very close and interesting race, but it won't get much coverage because Democrats will hold the seat no matter what. I think we need a coordinated letter-writing campaign to get the Post to send me out to cover the primary. Who's with me?

A lot of Republican insiders seem deeply suspicious of his approach to foreign policy -- they see it as dangerous! I would suspect that some would go to great lengths to keep from winning the nomination -- mostly that would mean helping Rubio. Has Rand made any inroads among this group? Convinced them he is more "mainstream" than his father?

He's certainly been making the case that he's a foreign policy pragmatist and not a non-interventionist like his father. I think that message is coming through -- though he's still one of a kind (as evidenced by his call for cutting off aid to countries that persecute Christians).

I think Karen Tumulty said it best recently. It's not so much that Paul needs to adjust himself to fit the GOP as the GOP needs to adjust itself to fit with the Paul supporters of the world. It's a two-way street, and both are making adjustments.

I will right a letter if I can go as you personal assistant...

The Dr. Gonzo to my Raoul Duke!

Are Democrats seriously worried about this? I suspect it won't be a huge factor unless she appears frail at some point. But gender + age could be an interesting interaction, both positively and negatively...

It's clear Hillary has plenty of energy. I don't think it's a problem unless it involves another significant illness.

Obama's decision to pick Biden, rather than a younger person like Kaine or Bayh, as his running mate. A younger, more vigorous VP might be a more plausible rival for Hillary. But then again, almost all Democrats know and like Biden. And Hillary still stomps him into the ground in all polls.

You're right that Democrats like Biden. But that's not the same as them thinking he should be president or exciting them. A younger VP might have gotten more of the latter.

But I'm not sure anybody would be running close to Hillary right now.

Thanks everyone for an inspired pre-4th of July chat.

Enjoy your holiday and remember: Fireworks involve fire, so stay safe.

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics at the Washington Post, where he writes regularly for the Fix, the Post's top political blog. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron and his wife, Danielle, and dog, Mauer, live in Northern Virginia.
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