Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Feb 25, 2014

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

What Republican candidate do you think has benefited the most from the Christie and Walker revelations? I would think someone like Mike Pence who is a governor and has no congressional or gubernatorial dirt on him.

I don't think Pence runs, but he would be in the mix if he did.

I think others would be Rubio and Jeb Bush -- basically anybody who interests the GOP establishment. For a while, it was looking like Christie was that establishment standard-bearer. That's not so clear now.

The primary in texas is in a few days (March 4th) Do you expect some surprise?

Cornyn should sail. I would be shocked if he needed a runoff.

One of the more interesting primaries is the GOP race to face Rep. Pete Gallego (D) in a swing district. Keep an eye on ex-Rep. Quico Canseco vs. Will Hurd.

Does Katrina Pierson stand a chance to win Pete Sessions in next days primary?

This is the one potential shocker. I don't see Pierson winning, mostly because she didn't raise much money, but I've heard good things about her as a candidate.

Seriously, the idea that Debbie Dingell will "inherit" her retiring husband's seat is embarrassing. This is just what politics should not be. Is there nobody who can save us from this debacle? Does Debbie really have the family seat in the bag?

She's certainly the heavy favorite.

But it's not like she's being handed the seat. Voters are still voting; it just so happens that they like certain political dynasties. The Kennedy name, for instance, is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval in the Northeast.

In Michigan, that's Dingell.

Talk is that Gov. Jan Brewer will veto the bill allowing denial of service to gay customers basically so she balances out her opposition to immigration. What do you think?

I don't think Brewer will attempt to run for reelection (she would have to circumvent the state's term limits law), so it's not like she's worried about her political future.

I think this is more of a legacy item. Does she want this bill to define her tenure as governor? I don't think so. And the fact that all these big-name Republicans (McCain, Flake, AZ GOV frontrunners) are calling for a veto makes this a pretty easy decision.

I don't think it's a counterbalance so much as an easy call.

Seems like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is waiting as long as possible to sign -- or not -- SB 1062 in order to see which way the political wind is blowing. After all, if the bill's enacted, the state risks losing Super Bowl XLIX should there be an ensuing boycott, as well as lots of conferences. Do you think Brewer will dawdle as long as possible, then veto the bill?

In politics, it rarely hurts to let things simmer a little. I think Brewer knows what she wants to do, but wants to make sure the other side doesn't make a compelling argument.

In this case, I don't see a huge clarion call for her to sign this law.

In her defense, Debbie Dingell has been active in politics for years. It's not like she graduated college, worked in a completely different area, and then inherited a seat. A little unfair.

True. She's very well-known in politics and should be a very capable candidate.

And as I said, I think that district would be happy to elect another Dingell. They've done it for 80 years, after all.

With this joint meeting of Bill Clinton and Alison Lundergan Grimes starts the extremely exciting electoral season! Are you as excited as me?

It really does seem to be ramping up. The first primary is NEXT WEEK!

I love a good midterm, personally. Much more exciting to follow a bunch of races than one presidential race that barely moves for months on-end.

That said, the last two midterms have been very interesting. I can see this one being a little dry if the GOP can't contest the Senate.

"The Kennedy name, for instance, is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval in the Northeast." I think you're forgetting Scott Brown's great line in one of the debates leading up to his election: ""Well, with all due respect, it's not the Kennedys' seat, and it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat."

That was a good line. And it worked.

But Scott Brown's win wasn't a rebuke of the Kennedy dynasty. It was much more about Obamacare and Martha Coakley's shortcomings.

How long before Texas becomes a Democratic presidential state? 2020? And when that happens, how does the GOP win the presidency?

I'm a little less convinced that Texas is trending blue as quickly as people seem to think (more on that here).

But, if it does go blue, that will certainly change the calculus for the GOP. They will need to move several other purple states into the red column and blue states into the purple column to account for Texas's 38 electoral votes.

But I do think there is something of an equilibrium in American politics, where the country will almost always find itself split somewhat close to 50/50 politically. If Texas goes blue, I think other states probably shift the other direction -- at least eventually.

Also in her defense, at least she is from Michigan. It's not like she grew up in Illinois, moved to Arkansas, spent 8 years in DC, and then decided that she wanted to be senator of New York.

I have no idea who you could be referring to...

If you had to guess, does Scott Brown run for the Senate in 2014?

I'm starting to think no. If he wanted to run, he's given away a ton of fundraising time (almost a year). I know he can raise money quickly, but it's get VERY late.

Hi Aaron. Thanks for doing these chats. Where do you see President Obama ending up in 2017 and beyond? He's still pretty young. Go the Clinton Global Initiative route? How about Michelle? Any future in politics there?

The first lady could probably walk into the Senate when Dick Durbin (or Mark Kirk) retires, but I'm not sure she has that desire.

I think the philanthropy thing is the natural route for an ex-president and former first lady. But I'm also not sure I see Obama setting up a huge apparatus like the Clintons have.

Favorite Edwin Edwards quote?

"The only thing we have in common is we're both wizards under the sheets." 

-while running against David Duke in 1991

(More here)

Besides Joe Miller, who would Begich like to face out of his current opponents?

I think Treadwell scares Begich less than Dan Sullivan. Sullivan has proven himself to be the best fundraiser.

Who's in better shape for 2014 -- Udall or Hickenlooper?

It really depends on who wins those GOP primarys. If Ken Buck is the nominee against Udall, then it's Hickenlooper. If Tancredo is the nominee against Hick, then it's Udall.

If both those guys win, I think both Democrats are safe.

You don't think he returns to academia, except in an endowed chair instead of as a non-tenure-stream lecturer?

That makes a lot of sense, in my opinion. But it almost seems too small for a former president.

You said that the huge apparatus isn't there for Obama. As someone who is on his mailing lists and who receives all sorts of stuff because of it, I would say that the apparatus is there, particularly since many of the messages ask if we have his back.

I was more thinking that Obama himself wouldn't necessarily want something like the Clinton Global Initiative. His aides have certainly put stuff together -- with the goal being to help him become and serve as president. Once that's gone, I don't know if he wants that behemoth.

Does he stay in DC or return to California? If the latter, what happens to his famous Capitol Hill house (sell, rent)? After all, Schumer and Durbin still need a place to hang their hats.

Schumer put up a great tweet when Miller announced his retirement.

Has anybody tried to poll voters to determine how many people would just reject Jeb Bush simply on the basis of his surname, rather than his own record? Labeling one politician with the record of a family member seems plain silly to me. Anybody who lived in Florida during Jeb's term knows that he's very different from his brothers (and father).

And this is a great counterargument to all the dynasty-bashing. There are certainly two sides to this issue.

Kate Mara looks just like Kasie Hunt, right?

Hmmm, maybe a little. Kasie is a much better reporter, though.

With only 43 people here, this chat obviously doesn't benefit the Post financially. Do you get ideas from us? Boswell always says he does the chat partly for column ideas. Do you?

100 percent. It's a great chance to bounce ideas around and hear from the readers. I get more out of it than you guys do.

(Also, my hope is that this chat, which is less than a year old, expands in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more on that.)

Maybe stay out of Iowa then, champ.

Yeah. Curious move if you're going to run for Senate in New Hampshire.

Assuming that he wins the Texas governorship against Wendy Davis (which it appears that he will), is he in the running for a possible VP slot in 2016?

I think Abbott will be on the radar down the road. Aside from this Nugent stuff, he's got a good reputation and a great life story.

But 2016 is probably too early, given he will have been governor for less than two years.

People should never leave their home states in case they might want to run for office someday. Smart take.

Devil's advocate: Having a longstanding connection to the people you serve is certainly an asset.

When do Democrats hit the panic button in Michigan? The last polls have shown Peters behind Land.

I think now would be a good time. I still see Democrats as favored and think Peters is a good candidate, but Land has shown herself to be capable and a good fundraiser.

And anything can happen in an open seat. Much easier for the GOP to pick off one of those than beat an incumbent.

Over/under 30% in the primary?

I'll take the under.

Does McConnell sweat the primary or general election more? And lots of polls have Grimes and McConnell in a dead heat, but does the conservative bent of the state mean Grimes has a ceiling of around 45%?

I think you're right that Grimes has a ceiling. I don't think it's 45%, but I think she'll have a very hard time getting from 45% to 50%.

That's why I think some of these early polls are a little misleading.

Who wins? Michelle Nunn or Mark Pryor?

Speaking of dynasties...

Pryor has a better shot, but that changes quickly if Paul Broun is the GOP nominee in Georgia.

I used to read more WaPo before the paywall. I know I'm probably in the minority, but I think your bosses should know. There are many sources for the same news. I'd like your take but it's not worth it.

I sympathize. But I hope everyone else will start charging for their labor like we have. Newspapers are having a tough time because we are giving our product away for free.

Until everyone stops doing that, we're all going to struggle and the journalism will suffer because of it.

Ok, We can already say that Mia Love is a congresswoman.. right?

I wouldn't assume anything. That state has a very unusual nominating process, and her primary opponent, Bob Fuehr, is a capable candidate.

As of today, I have Arizona (by default), Kansas, Duke, and Syracuse (sort of by default). You?

You can't leave out Wichita State. I'm sorry.

Which governor got it easier to get reelected: Kasich or Walker?


The Dems in Georgia are hanging their hats on a Nunn (with no political experience) and a Carter (who hasn't shown anything in the time he was given a seat in the legislature based on his name).

In a state where you're the underdog, sometimes you have to take a chance on a wildcard with a golden name. And by the way, I think both have done pretty well so far.

1) Lorde - yay or nay? 2) Is Cillizza really listening to Beck?

1) Nay. That Royals song is the bane of my existence.

2) I choose not to answer for The Fix Boss's musical choices.

I could see Obama as a Supreme Court justice one day. He has that legal-analysis thing working.

Could be. The William Howard Taft route.

Two things: I'm happy to pay for WaPo and NYTimes since my local paper is somewhat limited. Even as a liberal Democrat from NY state, I for the life of me can't see Andrew Cuomo as a viable presidential candidate. Why is he so often mentioned as one? What am I missing?

Simple: He's the governor of a very big (and very tough) state who has been quite successful at it. Plus, his dad was seen as a potential candidate in 1988 and 1992. I think it's natural to think of him as a potential candidate for president.

All of that said, I'm not sure he's done much of anything to encourage such talk. And until he shows interest, I don't think he runs.

Do you foresee Obamacare being an overall winner or a loser for Republican candidates (i.e., do they gain or lose seats based on campaigning against it) in November 2014?

I do think it helps. The question is how much. It could be just a little, or it could deliver them the Senate. It will depend on how they play their cards and how the law pans out.

Florida and Kentucky both have laws on the books prohibiting candidates from being on the ballot for two different offices. How are Rand Paul and Marco Rubio going to deal with this since they're both up for re-election to the Senate?

I believe those laws only apply to the same election date. So they only come into play (1) if Rubio or Paul is the GOP nominee or (2) if either state holds its state primary on the same day as it's presidential primary (which most states don't do).

Thank you to everyone for coming out. We had some great questions today -- so many that I unfortunately didn't get to all of them.

We'll see you next Tuesday at 2.

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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