Ask Aaron: This week in politics

Aug 06, 2013

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

Thanks everyone for coming out.

What's on your mind today? A few thoughts off the top o' my head...

-Tom Cotton is getting into the race against Sen. Mark Pryor

-The RNC's battle with CNN and NBC about their Clinton programs

-Underestimating Elizabeth Warren

-Where does Chelsea Clinton run for office (when she finally does)?

As always, these and any other topics are fair game.

So ask away!

What's the point other than to scare away primary challengers?

The point is to build and show that she has the kind of grassroots support that President Obama has in 2008.

Clinton is very much an establishment candidate. The more she can beat back insurgents early in the game, the better for her.

I think it's a smart effort -- if it's done right.

Veep material or done?

I just think he's too much of a wildcard for people to give him serious consideration as VP.

Progressives like him because of single-payer health care, etc., but this is also an unapologetic NRA supporter.

And given he doesn't really deliver an important state, I just think there are many more conventional options that don't risk over-shadowing the top of the ticket.

Schweitzer has a BIG personality. That's great for a president; not so great for a VP.

Who's more likely to emerge as the top alternative to the Romney wing's choice, Chris Christie, in the 2016 primary?

If I accept the premise that Christie is the Romney-esque, establishment-friendly candiate for 2016 (as his comments on national security seem to suggest), I'd say the more likely alternative is Paul.

In the middle would be Marco Rubio, trying to appeal to both sides.

Is she a lock for winning a statewide Democratic primary?

Barring somebody named Castro running, I think that's right. The Democratic bench in Texas just isn't that deep, and I think people would try to clear the way for her in a GOV primary.

Even though she might be a little too left for a statewide race in today's Lone Star State, it never hurts to have some buzz. And in races like this, the name of the game is putting up a candidate who can raise money. She can.

Would you like to take this opportunity to shamelessly suck up to your new owner/boss?

Hadn't planned to, but since you ask...

This is obviously a difficult moment for all of us, given our affection for the Graham family and all they have done for this newspaper. It's hard to overstate just what the family means to all of us.

That said, I have been an Amazon Prime subscriber for years. :)

Do you watch it? If so, do you like it? If so, is it because Jim is your new doppelganger?

Here's a picture for everyone to compare.

I don't watch the show, though I'm not opposed to it (too busy watching The Wire for the second time).

I'm not sure I see the resemblance -- at least not nearly as much as with the guy from Glee.

The search remains on...

What are you thoughts on the GA Senate race? Is it really a tossup, and any predictions on how many seats the GOP will gain?

There was that poll today that showed Michelle Nunn running even with or ahead of all of her GOP opponents. (Link here)

That said, it undoubtedly has plenty to do with her last name (daughter of former senator Sam Nunn), and it's still very early.

That said (again), her name still counts for something in Nov. 2014. And if the GOP puts up the wrong candidate, Georgia is a winnable state for Democrats. This state isn't as red as it once was.

But it's not a toss-up yet.

As for overall projections, I think GOP is currently on pace to win 3-5 seats -- just shy of the 6 they need for the majority.

Who are the remaining potential Democratic candidates for the Senate? Is there anyone who can compete with Steve Daines?

Here's the rundown after Denise Juneau's decision not to run.

Basically, the names that are out there are: John Lewis (a former aide to retiring Sen. Max Baucus), state Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris, Lt. Gov. John Walsh and state Sen. Kendall van Dyk.

With Daines -- yes he's a House incumbent, but that doesn't necessarily mean much, as we found with Rick Berg last year in neighboring North Dakota.

Montana is no slam dunk for Republicans. I think it's still more competitive than West Virginia or South Dakota. But Democrats still need a recruit.

I have been thinking and...Isn't Tom Cotton like Liz Cheney? Liked by the Tea Party but with a national security stance problematic with the rising libertarian wing in their party.

I don't think that national security stance is a problem unless he's got somebody running against him in the primary.

The conservative outside groups that make a difference are much more focused on economic issues and stuff like immigration. 

If there was a Rand Paul ready to run against Cotton, then it's a problem.

But I'm not sure the libertarian movement in Arkansas is all that strong.

He seems to be fighting back right now. At what point does he have to really decide he is in it for the fight of his political life, or get out?

All signs are that he's in, though I know some people who still think he might decide better of it.

The fact is that Pryor saw first-hand what happened to Blanche Lincoln in 2010,when she lost by more than 20 points. It was embarrassing.

That's, I think, a big reason why Ben Nelson retired in Nebraska last year.

But Pryor is raising big money and clearly was ready for Tom Cotton, given the ad he launched today. And at this point, he would look like Cotton forced him out if he retired.

Who is most likely to lose, who is most likely to survive?

Most likely to survive: Hagan.

Most likely to lose: Landrieu.

Those rankings are truly a reflection of the GOP recruits against them. Things are very unsettled in NC, while Rep. Bill Cassidy seems to be getting a largely free pass in Louisiana. Not to mention North Carolina is a swing state, while Louisiana is red.

How much did Minnesota bribe New Orleans to name themselves the Pelicans to avoid having the worst name in sports?

Worst nickname in sports? How about the Lakers in a city with no lakes? Or the Jazz in Utah?

By comparison, the Wild and Pelicans are fantastic nicknames.

Most of, if not all of the statewide offices are held by Democrats, yet most of the federal offices by Republicans. Is Kentucky a competitive state? Or is the closeness of the senate race due mostly to people are tired of McConnell?

It mostly has to do with McConnell, who doesn't have great numbers.

Kentucky remains in what I like to call the "Appalachian Bubble." Basically, these are states and congressional districts along near the Appalachian Mountains that continue to elect Democrats even though the South has gone Republican and these areas are conservative.

That's why Kentucky keeps electing Democrats to statewide office. Same thing in West Virginia.

Was there any explanation for the surprising (to me at least) support among women for the 20-week ban?

Here's my take:

Support for abortion isn't the same as opposition to abortion restrictions. Lots of people who support abortion rights are totally happy to have it be legal under limited circumstances -- as long as it's not creating huge hurdles for women seeking abortions.

In addition, this 20-week ban isn't necessarily something they see as limiting access to abortion. A good example: while women do support shortening the window to 20 weeks, they don't support placing additional requirements on abortion providers (i.e. hospital-admitting privileges, as some states are doing). Our WaPo-ABC poll showed this.

The reason: Women see the clinic requirements as a direct effort to outlaw abortion, while they don't see the 20-week ban in the same way.

Of course, the Lakers started out in Minneapolis, and the Jazz in New Orleans.

Yep. And they should change their names.

but what do you think of Weiner's chances in the NYC race?

No chance. If he had a real constituency that was going to stay loyal to him, then maybe. But at this point, he's going to need to convince half of voters in a runoff (if he makes a runoff) that he's got some redeeming qualities.

I don't think he's got enough people going to bat for him on that front.

I saw an article that said she was gearing up for a statewide run. What office could you see? Take on Rubio in 16'?

I'm not sure I see it at this point. There was a considerable amount of displeasure with that recent article about DWS upping her personal political operation at a time when the DNC is still deep in debt. I've heard it from plenty of people.

In addition, she's really become a partisan warrior in recent years as DNC chair -- in a way, for instance, that Tim Kaine never did. I don't think that plays well in a swing state.

On the other hand, Florida Democrats have a very short bench. So maybe they'd just be happy to have a warm body.

Is he going to run again to retake his seat in 2014?

He has already ruled this out:

Wendy Davis is going to be torn to pieces over her refusal to state whether she believes that abortion has any legal limits (she claims -- wrongly -- that the Supreme Court has set the time limit for abortion, when it only said that STATES could establish limits based on age of fetus viability). Why would Dems want to run a candidate who cannot win a state-wide race and whose "fame" is based on one of the most divisive issues in politics? I understand that Davis is now the darling of the inside-the-Beltway lefties (like you), but don't confuse that with a candidate capable of winning in Texas.

I do believe I said that she's not ideologically right for Texas. And we have said repeatedly on The Fix/Post Politics that she would have a very tough time winning in Texas.

My point was that Texas Demcorats need someone who will have money, and they don't have a lot of other options. So why not take a chance with someone who could at least run a well-funded campaign and force Republicans to spent some money too.

Think of it like Ashley Judd in Kentucky. Yes, she was a horrible match for a conservative state, but she was going to be able to raise huge money gainst McConnell.

If you took a secret ballot of Republican governors and members of Congress, who would be the top candidates for 2016? is there anyone who many officeholders absolutely do NOT want? (Much like Newt Gingrich in 2012 -- whenever Newt would pop up in the polls, some prominent Republican would run to the nearest microphone and let voters know why they should never choose him as their nominee).

GREAT question. I think the favorite right now would be Rubio. He's got appeal to both major wings of the party, and I think members of Congress would love to see him at the top of the ticket.

As for who they don't want? I'm not sure there's a Newt-esque candidate out there. Maybe Donald Trump? (And yes, I realize that's not really fair to Newt.)

Assuming she runs from NY, what are her options? Cuomo isn't going anywhere, Schumer will probably be carried out of office, and Gillibrand is young. Congresswomen Clinton perhaps?

I am SO glad you asked. Here's the piece I posted shortly ago:

Where Chelsea Clinton could run for office

In short -- I think Congress or NYC office are the most likely. But it's not obvious what her options will be just yet, as they depend heavily on retirements in heavily Democratic areas.

Naming your basketball team the Raptors in a city of no Dinosaurs....

I guess I asked for this, didn't I?

There's no much talk about this young congresswoman. Governor of WA anytime soon? In 2016?

For those unfamiliar, check out the amazing story about Herrera Beutler's newborn daughter:

To answer your question, Herrera Beutler is certainly the kind of candidate Washington Republicans will want to run statewide in the future. You can count on it. But she just had a baby, so I doubt that time is in 2016. Something tells me she's just happy to be with her family right now.

No matter where she lives, Chelsea should run to replace Christine Quinn on the City Council. Because then she would represent both Chelsea AND Clinton, which are neighborhoods in Quinn's West Side district. You can't make that up.

Pay the man, Shirley.

How would you rate his likelihood of jumping into the presidential race? He would seem well-suited to appeal to most factions within the GOP, and unlike Marco Rubio, he isn't getting too beaten up by the immigration debate, nor is he part of a very unpopular Congress.

Here's the deal: I think Jeb Bush is well-respected, and I think he'll give the 2016 race a look.

But I don't think he'll run, and I don't think he should. I'm just not sure what Jeb Bush's constituency is if he were to run. I don't think he's as compelling to the right wing as Rand Paul, etc., and I don't think he's as appealing to the establishment as Christie.

The party basically nominated the Bush-esque candidate in 2012, and it didn't work out. I think the party looks for someone with more flair in 2016.

Thanks everyone for coming out! Great discussion, as always.

We'll see you next Tuesday...

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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