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July 30, 2013

2
P.M.

Ask Aaron: This week in politics

Total Responses: 24

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Aaron Blake

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.

About the topic

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

Q.

Aaron Blake :

Welcome all to the latest edition of "Ask Aaron."

It's been a little slow this week on the politics front. A few topics to peruse (or ignore):

-Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul: The primary before the primary

-Defunding Obamacare and the GOP divide over it

-NC abortion law signed into law

-Bob McDonnell returning his gifts

Oh, and what about some guy named Anthony Weiner?

So what's on your mind? Ask away...

Q.

NYC

So if Weiner drops out (or just becomes a non-factor), who benefits?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I think it might be the biggest boon to Christine Quinn. She's the other candidate in this race with real liabilities and a high unfavorable rating.

Maybe if Weiner gets out, the people who are willing to vote for people with some baggage will gravitate towards her (?). It also could help her potentially get to 40 percent and avoid a runoff by reducing the crowded field -- though I don't really see anybody acccomplishing that right now.

In the end, I think, there will be a runoff that doesn't include Weiner, so it probably doesn't matter if he's in the race or out of it.

– July 30, 2013 2:01 PM
Q.

NYC Mayor

Are Democrats concerned that the Weiner circus, Quinn's unpopularity, and the fact that De Blasio may be to liberal for even NYC, could open up an opportunity for Joe Lhota?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I'm not sure too liberal is too much of a problem in New York.

I do think there is creeping concern that someone -- particularly Quinn -- could open the race up for Republicans. And don't forget: New York has elected lots of GOP mayors in recent years. So we shouldn't pretend like it won't happen.

It's up to Lhota to make himself into a viable option. And we'll see. For now, though, he's way behind anybody he might face -- including Weiner.

– July 30, 2013 2:04 PM
Q.

Mayor Race

Its a local race, but NYC Mayor is the equivilant of a governor race, will the DNC and RNC be heavily involved?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I would be very surprised. It's a big city, yes, but I'm not sure Republicans see much value in electing a Republican as mayor of New York City.

Given the odd circumstances and electorate, I'm not sure anybody would see it as a sign of GOP momentum -- which is really why parties get involved in such races.

– July 30, 2013 2:06 PM
Q.

Georgia Republican Primary

Rank in order of which candidate would be more likely to defeat Nunn.... Handel, Kingston, Broun, Gingrey?
A.
Aaron Blake :

1. Handel

2. Kingston

3. David Perdue (new candidate)

4. Gingrey

5. Broun

– July 30, 2013 2:07 PM
Q.

Anthony Wiener

After his "cubicle" speech flopped, Plan B was to hold out for a run-off and hope another scandal hits his opponent. How's that working out?
A.
Aaron Blake :

You're giving them way too much credit, as if they actually have any plan at all (!).

If they had any sense, they'd realize this is over. Nobody is defending Anthony Weiner and I'm not sure what his constituency is to even get to a runoff.

At this point, I think the calculation is that he has no political future either way, so they might as well press forward.

The only way he drops out at this point is if he finally realizes that what he's doing hurts his wife's political career and/or gets prevailed upon by Clinton World. He's dragging them through the mud.

– July 30, 2013 2:09 PM
Q.

Scott Walker

As of now, is the safe money still on Walker to win reelection?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I think he's pretty safe right now, though hardly bulletproof. Democrats have a recruiting hole that is going to be tough to fill, given Walker's strong showing in the recall election.

– July 30, 2013 2:10 PM
Q.

Conyers-Amash

Any thoughts on the NSA surveillance bill that nearly passed the House? Unusual both ends-against-the-middle coalition.
A.
Aaron Blake :

Yeah it's weird (some would say refreshing) to see something that doesn't break along partisan lines these days.

If you had told me two years ago that nearly half the House would vote for something defunding the NSA's phone record collection program, I would have called you crazy.

Libertarianism is certainly on the rise in both parties, and I think it's a direct response to unhappiness with Washington. It's a natural response, really. But while it manifested as the tea party four years ago, it's happening on both sides this time, because neither side is getting much of what they want.

We'll see where it goes from here. Right now, it feel more like a spark than a fire. But it could grow.

– July 30, 2013 2:14 PM
Q.

Virginia Governor Race

Have there been any polls taken on the enthusiasm between Democrats and Republicans? My sense is while Mcauliffe is up, he does not excite the base, and Cuccenelli's supporters would walk through a blizzard to vote for him. Do you agree with this, and that enthusiasm will be more important this year?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Enthusiasm is always important in Virginia GOV, because there are no federal races on the ballot.

And I think your point is right; Cuccinelli appeals to his base in a way that McAuliffe doesn't. The way McAuliffe counter-acts that is by making Cuccinelli look so unpalatable that Democrats show up and independents vote for the blue team.

– July 30, 2013 2:16 PM
Q.

Wisconsin Democrats

At what point does Ron Kind take the plunge and make a statewide run? Is he looking at Ron Johnson in 16'?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I think that's the most logical move for him. He's entertained the idea of a statewide run before, but has been careful.

The problem for him is that he's a moderate, which means he probably needs a clear primary field. He didn't get that for the open seat in 2012 when Baldwin ran, and it might be tough to get in a state with a sizeable and active liberal base in Madison.

– July 30, 2013 2:17 PM
Q.

Abortion in VA Race

Do you see Democrats using abortion to energize the base? Warner and Kaine ran as moderates on the issue, and Mccdonnell was firmly anti-abortion. Have the demographics changed that much that the state has flipped dramatically on the issue?
A.
Aaron Blake :

They will and have used it -- but only in Northern Virginia, where it will help them turn out their base and maybe swing some middle-of-the-road suburban women.

In Virginia, there are really two advertising strategies; one for NoVa nad one for the rest of the state.

– July 30, 2013 2:21 PM
Q.

Anti-Abortion Laws

Is the reason why there are all these draconian laws being put through in the red states becasue they hope Justice Kennedy will side with them before another Supreme Justice dies? Or is it all Kabuki Theater?
A.
Aaron Blake :

They're doing it because it's working, and this is their chance to pass these bills. Lots of states are controlled by Republicans, which is why we're seeing abortion and Voter ID. Activists recognize that they won't have such control forever, which is why they are being agressive (and quite successful) in pushing those issues.

– July 30, 2013 2:22 PM
Q.

Mayor of San Diego

What is required to remove him from office?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Folks are already collecting signatures for a recall

They need to get signatures from 15% of registered voters by Sept. 26.

One complicating factor: Apparently, there are two separate recall efforts right now.

Once again, a recall is no small task.

– July 30, 2013 2:25 PM
Q.

2014

Democrats took such a hit in 2010. Is there a game plan to get out more of their voters? I get it that it won't be as good as 2012 or 2008 for them, but can the numbers be substantially different for them in 2014?
A.
Aaron Blake :

2010 was a bad year if you're a Democratic field director. It's hard to turn people out when you've got complete control. It's much easier to get people to vote against something.

In 2014, Democrats will push the idea of GOP obstruction early and often, because they know it's the way they get their voters out.

– July 30, 2013 2:27 PM
Q.

Minnesota

Mesa Pizza or Annie's Parlour?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Leaning Tower of Pizza? Sorry, I can't help it, it was right next to the school newspaper.

– July 30, 2013 2:28 PM
Q.

Voter ID Laws

How much do you think the spate of Voter ID laws will affect the 2014 elections, and in which states in particular?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I don't generally think it's a big issue for most voters, but I would expect Democrats will use it to try and mobilize African-American voters, who are the one group that DOES care GREATLY about this issue.

States where that could actually matter: North Carolina (strict new law, sizeable African American population), Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas.

– July 30, 2013 2:33 PM
Q.

Michelle Bachmann

What the current odds that she'll recant and run for re-election?
A.
Aaron Blake :

2%. When you've got ethics problems, the best solution is to quietly go away. And she will.

She also said in her retirement announcement that she thinks 8 years is enough time for a member of Congress. So she would have some explaining to do.

– July 30, 2013 2:34 PM
Q.

Surprises in 2014

Every cycle seems to produce a few upsets. Any incumbents that appear safe now who you think could face trouble a year from now?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Keep and eye on Democrat Nick Rahall in West Virginia. Republicans are getting a Democratic state senator to switch parties and run against him. He comes from a very red district but has gotten a pass in recent elections.

On the GOP side, John Kline (Minn.) has a much tougher district (it went narrowly for Obama) after redistricting than most people realize. If Democrats can somehow recruit a good challenger against him, it's a winnable seat. And the same goes next door for Rep. Erik Paulsen -- particulary if Democrats can recruit former WCCO anchor Don Shelby somehow. I don't think he'll run, but he's a big name in the Twin Cities.

 

– July 30, 2013 2:38 PM
Q.

Steve Daines

Is he going to run in MT? And compare him to Rick Berg, who looked like a lock and lost in ND in 2012.

A.
Aaron Blake :

Yes, Daines is a freshman just like Berg was. But being a freshman doesn't mean you are a bad candidate (like Berg was) or that you will have a very quality opponent (like Berg did). Daines has more to prove than your average House member, but the comparison is too easy to make. We'll just have to see.

Indeed, we could very well see two House GOP freshmen run for and win Senate seats this year, in Daines and Rep. Tom Cotton (Ark.).

– July 30, 2013 2:40 PM
Q.

Republicans 2016

Have you guys done a list recently of the top contenders for the Republican nomination? I really have no clue who would be at the top -- it seems that Rubio has taken a big hit (among Republicans) for his leadership on the immigration issue, and the other possible top candidates all seem to have glaring weaknesses, at least from the perspective of the Republican electorate: Bush (his name); Christie (too liberal, pre-election cuddling with Obama); Paul (isolationist/anti-defense); Ryan (too wonky). Can't wait for this to get started.
A.
Aaron Blake :

Ask, and you shall receive: Our latest 2016 GOP rankings, as of last week.

You're right that basically every one of these candidates has a liability or a potential liability. But I think much of that has to do with today's GOP, which really forces its members to pick a side. Rubio, more than anybody, has straddled the middle between the conservative grassroots and the establishment, but he was forced to take a side on immigration. Christie has taken a side too, against Rand Paul and for bipartisanship. Paul's side is well documented, though even he tries to be careful.

Basically, if you want to be in the news and be a GOP leader today, you have to take some risks.

And the one guy that was supposed to be all things to all Republicans -- Rick Perry -- turned out to be nothing to anybody.

– July 30, 2013 2:44 PM
Q.

Weiner in the digital age

I'm sorry but Weiner's sexting is just a 21st century version of the creepy old guy in a dirty raincoat that hangs around playgrounds and shopping malls. Didn't his 15 minutes end 20 minutes ago?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Polls shows this guy had a legitimate shot at being the next mayor of America's biggest city. So I'm not sure why people begrudge the media for covering him like the serious candidate that he was.

Yes, it may be overkill at this point. But just a few days ago, some polls showed this guy in the lead. Let's not pretend like he's some gadfly.

– July 30, 2013 2:47 PM
Q.

Bachmann

Do you think that if Michele Bachmann didn't have the ethics problems she has right now, she secretly harbored the chance to take on Al Franken in order to gain a bigger platform after the whole presidency thing fell apart last year?
A.
Aaron Blake :

I don't think she would have run for Senate either way. These tea party members of Congress don't need the Senate to increase their profile; they already have it in the House.

A good example of this is Steve King. Why would he run for Senate when he already has plenty of influence on the issue he cares about (immigration) in the House. He would just be risking his platform for a roughly equal one where he's last in seniority.

– July 30, 2013 2:49 PM
Q.

Christie vs. Paul

Should they bring back Larry King to host a debate? If not, how about Bruce Springstein?
A.
Aaron Blake :

Dual moderators: Bruce Springsteen and Naomi Judd?

– July 30, 2013 2:51 PM
Q.

CT Governor Race

I saw a recent poll that had Tom Folley besting Dan Malloy in the race. What accounts for this? I thought Malloy got a bump after Newtown.
A.
Aaron Blake :

Malloy seems to have a ceiling that isn't far above 50 percent. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but he's never been popular in that state.

Both this race and the rematch in South Carolina are intriguing to me. Both states have a clear partisan lean but feature rematches of very tight races with incumbents (Nikki Haley in SC) that aren't popular.

– July 30, 2013 2:53 PM
Q.

Speaking of Steve King...

Has Steve King finally stuck his foot in his mouth too much to win in November?
A.
Aaron Blake :

No. He's said lots of stuff like this before. And he beat a pretty formidable and well-funded opponent -- former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack -- pretty easily in a district Mitt Romney carried by 8 points. I think he's pretty safe.

– July 30, 2013 2:54 PM
Q.

Aaron Blake :

Thanks everyone for coming out to today's "Ask Aaron." It's always a great discussion, and today was no exception.

Tune in next Tuesday at 2 p.m., where we'll do it all over again...

Q.

 

A.
Host: