Category Archives: Candidates

Run, Jon, Run?

I’ve always found it interesting that when looking at the current state of the GOP there are cries for the party to “moderate.”  So, when a candidate comes forward that tends to be more open-minded and willing to open up the party, then people say that said candidate has zero chance to win in the primaries or they start to say that said candidate isn’t so moderate after all.

Jon Huntsman is a different kind of Republican. He has his conservative bona fides, but he is also pragmatic and tends to be forward thinking on issues like the environment and gay rights.  There has been a lot of press about him as of late regarding the Presidential campaign next year.  There are signs he will step down from his ambassordial post in China to launch a bid for the White House.

Now, there are bloggers who are already say that this campaign is foolish.  They say he is too liberal for the GOP base, that working under President Obama will end his campaign, that a center-right moderate ran last time and lost, blah, blah blah. 

I think around the blogosphere, there are two assumption that take hold when thinking about the GOP.  The first one is that the party is too right-wing and needs to be more moderate for long term viability.  The second assumption is that the base is so right wing that assumption one will never happen.

I sometimes wonder if assumption one is basically saying that the Republicans needs to be like the Democrats only less so.  Of course, if you run someone that is basically a Democrat, well of course that person’s candidacy is sunk.  But if the candidate runs ala the UK’s David Cameron, holding fast to conservative principles and reaching out beyond the base, then maybe someone like Huntsman has a chance.

One of the reasons that Huntsman was sent on a slow boat to China was because Team Obama was afraid of Huntsman.  Why?  Because Huntsman was a Republican Obama, someone who could hold on to the base and reach the middle as well.  Better to get a potential rival out of the way and hope for someone like a Sarah Palin.

If Huntsman can perform the balancing act of being conservative and reaching out to the center, he just could have a shot in 2012. 

PS: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a great post on Huntsman running for President.

Reasonable Voters, Radical Pols

Blogger Jay Bookman says that at least according to Gallup, Republican voters are pretty “reasonable,” but it’s the pols in Washington that are radical.  His last paragraph is the kicker:

In other words, it’s not merely that Washington Republicans won’t compromise with Democrats. They won’t compromise even with their own voters. The national party is in the grip of radicals who accept no deviation from the approved party line, and who demonstrate no tolerance for the broader, more reasonable range of opinions that exists within the Republican electorate they claim to represent.

The takeaway from this blog post is supposed to be that Washington Republicans who are “radicals” need to listen to their more “reasonable” voters. 

On the surface, there is some truth to that, but that’s only if you have a very simple view of party politics.  But I think Bookman leaves out a lot of factors that has made Washington pols more conservative than their supposed electorate.  Continue reading

The Establishment vs. the Tea Party, Round Two

Josh Krushaar of National Journal notes several Republican Senators might be facing primary challenges in 2012, and not all of them are “squishy moderates.”  One of those with the biggest target is Senator Richard Lugar:

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is the poster child for Republicans putting their political health at risk. The six-termer is all but daring conservatives to challenge him, refusing to sign onto an earmark ban and being outspoken in supporting the New START nuclear weapons treaty. He’s his party’s leading maverick when his political survival is most threatened, and has already drawn interested challengers, even though he faced no Republican or Democratic opponent in 2006.

Two Republican officeholders are interested in running against Lugar. One of them, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, received the most statewide votes of any Indiana candidate this year. The other, state Sen. Mike Delph, writes on his legislative site he is “increasingly concerned with” Lugar’s actions.

If Lugar loses a primary, Republicans would have to concentrate on an otherwise safe seat, as Democrats would likely find a credible candidate, unlike 2006. Indiana is friendly to Republicans, but they would still have to spend resources to defend the seat.

Not surprisingly, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, well known moderate, is also vulnerable and if she goes down in a primary, it might be a pickup for the Democrats:

In Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe is different. If she loses the nomination, Democrats would be favored. She’s forged a moderate path in a Democratic state with longstanding success, but has never faced a serious challenge from her right. That could change as tea party groups make noise, particularly in the wake of getting their favored gubernatorial choice, Paul LePage, elected in November.

The state’s closed primary system only allows registered Republicans to choose their nominee, making Snowe potentially vulnerable. Like Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., who lost to an insurgent in a closed primary, Snowe is widely popular but less so among dedicated primary voters.

Snowe is highlighting her conservative credentials, voting for the earmark ban, emphasizing her fiscal stinginess and trumpeting her alliance with LePage. None ring particularly authentic.

As both parties become more and more ideologially pure, we should expect more primary challenges for those that go against the grain.

The Myth of John McCain

There was a time in my life when I loved John McCain.

I saw him as the bulwark against the rise of the far right in the Republican Party. I cheered his every move. His stand against the Bush Tax Cuts. His participation in the so called “Gang of 14.” His strong environmental record. He seemingly strong stand on gay rights.

And then, little by little, I started falling out of love with McCain. As 2008 drew near, he started changing his positions on issues. By 2008 he started to look like someone that had sold out for the GOP nomination.

I don’t really know how many times, I’ve heard people talk about how John McCain has changed and how they have grown to hate the Senator from Arizona. The media, which really fell hard for McCain in 2000, has turned against him and can’t wait for a moment to report the latest infraction. In the eyes of many, John McCain sold his soul and many of his former followers are saying “good riddance.”

But did we really know who John McCain was? Did we see a few actions and imagined that he had to be “just like us” only find out that he wasn’t? Did John McCain really change? Continue reading

Students for Daniels

Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels is getting a lot of talk about running for president and is also getting a lot of pushback

Enter a bipartisan group of college students who are running a Draft Mitch Daniels campaign.  This is what one of the group’s leaders, Max Eden said via Frum Forum:

What if there was a candidate both competent and sane who could take the Republican stage in 2012 and offer a real alternative to the Obama agenda? What if there was a Republican who would stand up and actually say what needs to be done — for a change?

Then we could do more than just “rally to restore sanity”; we could push for having a national election that wouldn’t be another, as Stewart says, “Cluster*@## to the White House.” So we are a group of young adults telling our parents to “grow up.” Can’t we just have an adult conversation about the legacy you are leaving us?

“Adult Conversation” is a catchphrase today among many Republican politicians and pundits, but you hear very little new being said from most of them. Governor Daniels, however, has gone out on a political limb by suggesting that we must declare a “social truce” in order to fix the economy and tackle the debt. We are all welcome to our social opinions, but when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says that the national debt is the top threat to our national security it is time to declare a truce in the culture war and do what needs to be done to cut the budget down to size and get our economy producing jobs.

Here again, Governor Daniels sets himself apart from other 2012 Republican contenders. He earned the nickname “The Blade” for his ability to cut out excess spending as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and as Indiana’s governor for turning a large deficit into consistent surpluses. While my generation has grown skeptical of Republican claims of practicing fiscal conservatism, there is no doubting Daniels’ record.

I like Daniels and his willingness to tell the truth on fiscal matters, but I wonder how realistic his chances are in 2012 or 2016 in these days of the Tea Party.  He’s getting flack from two strong wings of the GOP. He has talked about imposing a combination of a Value Added Tax with maybe a Flat Tax and has drawn ire from “fiscal conservatives” like Grover Norquist and his call for a “social truce” has made social conservatives mad.  I want to believe that someone like a Daniels could be a viable Republican candidate in two years, but I tend to think this party is in the thrall of someone like Sarah Palin who can bring together “fiscal conservatives” who don’t ever want to raise taxes and social conservatives who are against gay marriage and abortion.  The GOP has backed itself into an ideological cul-de-sac that it either can’t or won’t get out of and it will not tolerate anyone that deviates from that path.  I don’t know how you can grow a party that way, but the Republicans are trying to do that.

That said, I welcome this effort.  Maybe, just maybe these kids are the start of a movement towards some sanity in the land of American conservatism.

Meghan McCain’s Palin Problem (And Ours)

Meghan McCain can’t shake Sarah Palin loose.  The daughter of the formerly maverick Arizona Republican Senator has been on a book tour recently to support her latest book.  What has bothered her is that reporters want to focus on Sarah Palin and not the other issues she writes about in the book.  She is stumped by the media’s  fascination with the former Alaska governor:

Everyone knows there is a media obsession with Sarah Palin, but I don’t know if everyone has quite realized that the obsession has become a fetishization. The further I got into my book tour last month, the more paranoia set in as I started questioning the idea that the only thing that made me interesting to some people was my association with Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin, not my father John McCain. And for that fact, it seems that the only thing that gets any kind of major media attention when it comes to women in politics is either Sarah Palin or her numerous impersonators. These are the people that are creating and dominating the political narrative for women in this country. In the Nashville airport in the midst of my book tour, I picked up the recent “Mama Grizzlies” cover of Newsweek which asks this very question. Why are only women like Sarah Palin getting nominated for elected office and receiving all of the media attention? This is the question that has been plaguing me since the release of my book.

She then notices that this obessions goes both ways, with Palin also interested in what the media says of her:

Then just as I reached the point where I woke up and elected to stop focusing on the media’s obsession with Sarah and to continue my own one woman revolution (if you will), Sarah Palin made it known to me via an email to a third party that she was not pleased with me or what I wrote in my book. I found it surprising but I had to see the humor and, of course, appreciate the obvious irony. It seems the Sarah Palin media obsession goes both ways. They are both mutually obsessed with one another and the relationship is cyclical. It is the chicken or the egg conundrum. Every tweet of Sarah’s makes headlines and every network puts what she says on its newsfeed. This is the era that we live in, and I’m just hoping both Sarah and the media will at some point make room for other opinions. In the meantime, I won’t hold my breath, but I also won’t quit speaking out for the women who aren’t just imitating her.

When John McCain lost in 2008, I thought that maybe Palin would take a few years, keep a her head down, and govern the state of Alaska.  I thought she would leave the spotlight for a while and the media would also forget about her.  But she never left the spotlight and the media still focuses on her, even after she resigned from the governnorship midway through her first term. 

Why does the media focus on Palin?  Why does it monitor her every tweet or Facebook post?  And why couldn’t she just focus on being governor instead of this media star?

I don’t have all the answers, but I think part of the Palin phenomenon is the rise of celebrity in the political field and how we are attacted to style rather than substance.  This is why we have someone like Palin-clone Christine O’Donnell over Mike Castle.  Castle might be the better politician, but he’s boring.  O’Donnell can’t string two thoughts together, but she sure is interesting.

Maybe Palin is the result of a culture where we all watch reality television: someone that’s fascinating and riveting, but there ain’t much at the core.

Bloomberg for President (Again)?

It looks like New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is testing the presidential waters…again:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not only very wealthy, he’s an astute politician, and the campaign schedule that he is keeping suggests that he thinks the Republican Party is going over a cliff with its far-right fringe candidates, and that the Democrats for different reasons may be imploding. Bloomberg senses the time is right for a third party, and while he doesn’t say that outright, his decision to campaign with and support an array of candidates from across the political spectrum underscores his conviction that the center must endure in American politics.

Bloomberg has a good centrist record, but some his laws concerning lifestyle issues put my inner libertarian on edge.  That said, could he be the Ross Perot of 2012?

Christine O’Donnell: Bottom of the Barrel

Rick Moran as a dilly of a post on Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party-endorsed candidate challenging moderate Republican Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.  All I can say is, where in the world did they find this woman?  Here’s some of what Moran found out:

The GOP primary features the moderately liberal, longtime GOP mainstay Mike Castle facing off against an extraordinarily flawed, but “true” conservative candidate in Christine O’Donnell.

O’Donnell is a tea party darling despite the fact that she has the ethics of an alley cat and the brains of a mouse. She is a fatally flawed candidate in so many ways that it is not even a question of supporting a RINO like Castle vs. a “true” conservative like O’Donnell. Rather, it is a question of opposing a paranoid, deadbeat, lightweight who has pulled some personal and professional financial shenanigans that would disqualify her from not only holding public office, but also being employed as a responsible manager at any legitimate company.

In a radio interview last June, she lied about not having a federal tax lien on her house despite the fact that anyone with a modest ability at using search engines could find it. When the bank threatened to foreclose on her house, serving her personally with papers, she chalked it up to a “technical error by the bank” despite the fact that once again, anyone who bothered to do a little searching could find the mortgage company’s filing.

It turns out that O’Donnell is a deadbeat. She stopped paying her mortgage in October of 2007 while the bank filed the papers in March of 2008 to seize the house. She refused to contest the case and a summary judgment of foreclosure was entered against the property in May. According to a Lexis-Nexis search, the foreclosure was “stayed” – the house had been foreclosed but the sheriff sale had not commenced – when she sold the house to her boyfriend and legal counsel who then paid the outstanding balance as well as more than $2,000 in interest and legal fees.

When questioned about all of this, she has continuously and shamelessly lied. She has attributed the tax lien to “thug politics” and actually denied the property had a lien in the first place. She denied she sold her home while it was in foreclosure despite clear evidence to the contrary.

For months, O’Donnell denied her house had ever been in foreclosure. She simply stopped making payments in October 2007 and never made any move to contest the proceedings and would not “appear, plead or otherwise defend” herself against the mortgage company filing.

You may also want to read Stephen Bainbridge’s takedown of O’Donnell as well.

I’ve always been less than impressed with the Tea Party/Sarah Palin challengers.  Very few seem ready for prime time and even though the invoke Reagan as much they talk about the Jesus, they don’t seem to understand Reagan.  Reagan may have not been a genius, but he was a man who was intellectually curious and did have a bit experience running a little state called California for two terms.  The Rand Pauls and Sharon Angles of the world are not as interesting and riveting as Reagan and are little more than crackpots who got lucky. Continue reading

More On Neil Cohen

Via the blog Opinions and More, there is YouTube video of an interview on Maryland Public Television of Dr. Neil Cohen, a self-professed moderate Republican who is running for Senate in Maryland. The interview presents and old fashioned way of campaigning: he offers a critique of the Democratic incumbent, Barbara Mukulski, without using words like “socialist.” He even has some nice words to say about the President.

As I’ve said before, he might come accross as a RINO to “pure” conservatives, but while he might not be exciting he is substantive and would be a nice addition to the august body that is the Senate.

The Un-Tea Party Candidate

Frum Forum’s Tim Mak interviewed Dr. Neil Cohen, a 62-year old dentist who’s running for the GOP senate nomination in Maryland.  What’s interesting and so refreshing, is that that Cohen, who will go up against sitting Democratic Senator Barbara Mukulski if he wins, is an unabashed moderate Republican.  In his interview and also on his campaign website, he is not afraid to use the dreaded “M-word” to describe himself.

Since he’s considered a long shot candidate, he’s not getting a lot of attention.  That also means, he more willing to say the truth and in his interview with Mak he was very candid about issues such as what to do about Social Secruity:

I’ve been on the phone with Maryland GOP Senate candidate Dr. Neil Cohen for about twenty minutes when he starts to really get irritated. Not with me, but over the coming defeat of his candidacy.

He talks like an honest candidate, a benefit afforded to him by a flailing campaign. Social security is unsustainable, he says: We may have to raise taxes to pay it off or cut services.

“As a Republican, I shouldn’t be talking like this,” Cohen says. “But we can’t keep having programs that are this generous – we just don’t have the money.”

Something about how he shouldn’t be talking this way changes his tone quite drastically, and Cohen’s real frustrations open up.

“At this point I don’t think I’ll ever get elected. No one wants to hear the truth. I’m so frustrated right now – I think the whole system is going to hell in a hand-basket,” Cohen says. “My voice never gets heard. There are no newspapers to cover what I say, no radio interviews.”

Of course, he is not the media sideshow ala Sharon Angle or Rand Paul which is why he is not of much interest to the media.  That says more about the current state of our media than it does Cohen.

His Facebook Page also shows a bit of that truth telling.  He states why he is running and makes some of the usual charges against the Democrats, but without painting them as evil and by promoting a positive agenda:

Like many of us in the State of Maryland and throughout the United States I feel that our elected officials have forgotten that we sent them to DC to work together to fix our problems.

With the deficit exploding and our public debt running into TRILLIONS of dollars, with millions of our fellow citizens unemployed, with the prospect of schools, hospitals and many local public services forced to close or go bankrupt I believe our current officials spend too much time defending their position rather than looking for solutions.

However, unlike my primary opponents I am a MODERATE Republican who believes the American people deserve someone who puts them ahead of the party system. We need action to fix our problems and we can not wait.

To get Maryland and the country moving again will take political leadership and cooperation. We will not end the partisan bickering if hard-line conservatives continue to argue that the only way forward is to cut out government from our lives, repeal all healthcare legislation and disagree with Democrats on every issue as a matter of principle.

We need good government not just smaller government. We need transparent and accountable government. We need political leaders who will work together to solve our problems.

I am running as a moderate Republican to work with both parties to find the solutions we desperately need. I may not be popular with some of the political hacks in DC but they will not be the ones who elect me as their voice in the Senate.

My opponent in the General Election has served our country for many years for which she deserves respect. But during her 33 years in Washington DC she has overwhelmingly voted with her party line not for the people of Maryland. Our current debt, our unemployment and our broken government occurred on her watch. As our representative I hold her accountable.

I believe the people of Maryland deserve a new voice in the U.S. Senate. I will listen to you and I will work hard every day to represent you. Together we must build a better and prosperous future worthy of our children and grandchildren.

Here’s a man who is concerned about Social Security but not talking about abolishing it. He’s pro-choice and pro-second amendment.  Thirty or forty years ago, he would have been a high-profile candidate in the GOP.  But times have changed, and if you aren’t angry enough or anti-government enough, you are deemed a RINO and ignored.  I think Mak puts it best when he says:

Why shouldn’t an intelligent, hardworking professional be able to win a Republican primary in Maryland? Do relationships with party donors and Republican higher-ups for ‘experience’ make for better political representation?

He’s the kind of person who would make a great representative. Why aren’t there more Neil Cohens? Or rather, why aren’t there more Neil Cohens that can win?

Indeed.