Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Dec 17, 2013

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

Hey everyone, and welcome back to Ask Aaron. This week we'll be doing a slightly abbreviated version -- until about 2:30.

So what's on your mind?

President Obama pining for House of Cards?

Frank Wolf not seeking reelection?

Chris Christie's bridge controversy?

The resounding bipartisanship of the budget deal?

Scott Brown, Granite Stater?

Boehner vs. the tea party?

Or ... (sorry, I can't help myself) ... Donald Trump for governor?

As always, anything is fair game. So what's on your mind?

Who do you see as likely nominees now that Wolf has opted to retire? Does Cuccinelli or Artur Davis run?

I'm not sure Cuccinelli is interested in being a congressman, but I'm sure he'll be mentioned.

I just don't see it with Davis. Why would he jump to the head of the line having moved to NoVa so recently? I think he needs to run for state delegate or state Senate first. Maybe he can run for state Del. Barbara Comstock's or state Sen. Jill Holtsman Vogel's seats when they run for Wolf's.

That said, it's a free country, and he can certainly give it a shot.

Does she face a serious challenger in 2016? New Hampshire is a bit more blue it seems in presidential years.

I'm sure she'll get something of a test, but she seems to be doing the things she needs to in order to innoculate herself.

Democrats think they can peg her with her vote against the gun-control bill, and her numbers did take a hit after that vote, but I'm skeptical it will hurt her in 2016. The enthusiasm that existed for a gun control push has pretty much dissipated.

Are there any Democrats who can credibly challenge Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas in 2016? I don't think Mike Beebe is going to jump into that race.

I don't think so either.

Unless Pryor loses in 2014 and wants to mount a quick comeback, this is a tough one.

The problem with these Southern seats is that, once Democrats lose their incumbents, they become very tough to win back. I think Boozman is safe unless he runs into some primary trouble to creates an open seat.

What made Scott Brown think he can win in N.H.? Is someone in the state encouraging him? Can he win a primary?

I'm sure he's getting lots of encouragement to run. The fact is that nobody else would really put that seat in play, so I'm sure there are plenty of Republicans begging him to run.

I do think he can win the primary, especially since it's likely to be crowded by lesser-known candidates.

What are Democrat's chances of winning in Texas in 2014, 2016?

Practically zero. Democrats winning Texas is still a 2020 or 2024 thing, at least.

How much do you see Joe Manchin campaigning with Tennant to keep the seat in Democratic hands?

I'm not sure Manchin will do much for Tennant. At last year's Democratic National Convention, she criticized him for not showing up.

Does Harry Reid run for another term in 2016? He's getting old, but he's been a great leader for Democrats. Does Brian Sandoval run against him?

That's the race that everyone wants to see, and I think we might get it.

It would be a dream for Republicans. Sandoval is hugely popular and would be a massive upgrade from the field of misfits Republicans fielded in 2010.

If Sandoval runs, I'm not sure how Reid doesn't pack it in and opt for retirement. But this IS Harry Reid we're talking about, and he's a survivor.

If you were the Pryor campaign, how would you try to survive?

I would emphasize my independence from the national Democratic Party and President Obama at every turn, and hope and pray that Tom Cotton makes some mistakes.

If Cotton matches the hype attached to his name, I'm not sure Pryor can win. But that's a lot of hype.

Eric Cantor has been the No. 2 for awhile, but never part of Speaker Boehner's inner circle. And if anything, he's attempted to stab him in his back or otherwise sabotage him. With Paul Ryan looking less like a presidential candidate every day, can Cantor beat Ryan in a battle to be the next Speaker?

This kind of thing is a political nerd's dream.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure Ryan would try to jump the line. He's only 43 years old, which means he has a lot of time ahead of him. (Cantor is 50, but how long can one serve as speaker?)

Ryan strikes me as patient and willing to wait. But we can always dream.

Do you think the losing candidate after the recount will accept defeat, or are there other appeals he can pursue?

I'm not sure how much appetite there would be for such litigation.

It happened in the Minnesota Senate race in 2008, but that was in large part because of how pivotal the vote was -- the 60th in the Senate.

It's very hard to win this kind of case, and unless they see a real reason to challenge it, I don't think it makes sense.

Plus Manchin seems to want as little to do with other Democrats as possible. It has been interesting (as a WV native, now VA resident) to watch WV turn redder and redder, and I can see a time when no Democrats will represent the state nationally. Although, I have to say, it is a state where family and personal connections still matter a great deal and may trump on occasion political parties.

Great points.

Manchin is very much a lone wolf. I don't see him feeling the need to attach his brand to anybody -- especially given how popular he is in that state. 

About the only way he does it is if some Democratic higher-ups prevail upon him to help out. But I'm not sure who might hold that kind of sway over him.

Kathleen Kane or Joe Sestak for Democrats against Pat Toomey in 2016?

Bet your bottom dollar they'd rather have Kane. Sestak is a bit of a wildcard. I think they want a more standard-issue Democrat.

Plus, AG is a great launching pad for higher office (Ken Cuccinelli notwithstanding).

I think Kane vs. Toomey is the matchup.

Will Rob Portman have trouble from his right flank in 2016 because of his support for gay marriage? Do you see him hanging it up since he's no longer a viable presidential or vice presidential candidate for Republicans? Who runs on the Democratic side? The Ohio Democratic Party bench seems pretty weak.

Portman would be in much more primary trouble if he took liberal positions on fiscal issues than on gay marriage. The social conservative movement isn't really knocking off incumbents in primaries these days.

I don't think he retires and I don't think he's ruined his future VP chances. Public opinion on this issue is changing rapidly and he's not that old. I can envision a day relatively soon when a GOP candidate who supports gay marriage is still seen as a contender.

Which senators up in 2014 have the most riding on significant improvements in the implementation of the health care law?

No question it's Landrieu and Pryor, with Hagan a close third.

If this race is a referendum on Obamacare's problems, red-state Democrats will be very hard-pressed to survive. The race, at that point, is kind of out of their hands.

How do you think the McConnell-Bevin primary shake out? I think McConnell still wins by 12 to 15 points.

I think the question right now is whether this race will be close more than whether Bevin can win. Bevin still has some convincing to do as far as his formidability.

Thanks everyone for coming out.

We're off next week for the holiday, but we'll see you in the New Year.

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: