With it being Election Day in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky (oh, and Oregon) it is time for some odds-making:
Pennsylvania: Democratic Senate Primary
Senator Arlen Specter v. Rep. Joe Sestak
Most likely Sestak's pollster called him in the first week of May and told him he was going to win. The contest has been trending Sestak since February, although is dead-even going into today. Specter's rationale for switching parties, namely he did not see himself winning a GOP primary, smacks of the stuff that makes people dislike Washington politicians. While there are no silver bullets in political campaigns, this year the magic bullet is anti-incumbency.
Kentucky GOP Senate Primary
Sec. of State Trey Grayson v. Dr. Rand Paul
Bad omen for those in the GOP seeking moderation as the Tea Party favorite Paul is set to trounce the establishment candidate. Paul's likely win can be credited to anti-incumbency fervor and is a slap to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who hand-picked Grayson.
Arkansas Democratic Senate Primary
Sen. Blanche Lincoln v. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter
Halter is playing for a run-off as there are three candidates in this contest (businessman D.C. Morrison is polling around 6 percent) and Lincoln is at 46 percent, Halter in the high 30's. If recent polling is correct and there is 11 percent undecided and those voters break as they should, Lincoln squeeks by with slightly more than 50 percent thus avoiding a run-off with Halter.
Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) is contemplating an independent run for the U.S. Senate. Down in the polls and likely to lose to the more conservative Marco Rubio in the primary election, Gov. Crist is unready to release his dreams of becoming a Senator. Red Elephant welcomes him to run as an independent if he withdraws from the August Republican primary election.
It is unacceptable for Gov. Crist to somehow engineer a way to stay in the GOP primary while laying the groundwork for an independent candidacy in the general election ballot if, or when, he loses to Mr. Rubio. Just as it was poor conduct by Doug Hoffman to run as an independent for the U.S. House of Representatives after losing in the GOP primary in NY's 23rd congressional special election, so would it be in bad form for Gov. Crist to replicate the actions of a sore loser.
Primary elections exist so that voters may chose in which direction they want their party to go, and in which candidate they entrust to lead their party. Gov. Crist may have decided he cannot lead the GOP. If that is the case he should step aside in favor of Mr. Rubio. If Gov. Crist thinks he can lead the state as an independent U.S. Senator he's free to make that choice, so long as he does not try to have his cake and eat it too. Gov. Crist does not deserve to be a Republican candidate and later an independeant candidate after the party rejects him at the polls.
Why Gov. Crist finds himself in this predicament is another matter. The situation he finds himself is what it is. What Gov. Crist does next will define him as a politician. Given it is unlikely he wins the GOP primary election, Gov. Crist may need to come to terms with the fact that the career path he desires is out of reach for the moment, but forever out of reach by making the wrong decision.
NC Republican State Party Tom Fetzer today called for RNC Chairman Michael Steele's resignation. This doesn't indicate a Steele resignation is inevitable, but it is a significant crack in the dam that is the RNC Members who have been silent until today. Probability still favors Steele finishing his term.
The announcement by American Crossroads, a newly formed 527 committee, that it has hired Steven Law as President and CEO is significant. Mr. Law has very close ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), having been the Senator's chief of staff and National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director.
There is a potent combination aligning between the American Action Network (a 501 c3 & c4) and American Crossroads. Involved in both of these new groups are Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. These are very smart, well connected people who have total understanding of RNC operations. What this means is that RNC Chairman Michael Steele will stay where he is despite his gaffe prone performance because the real action will be elsewhere operating in a manner such that Steele cannot interfere.
With a reported $30 million in pledges already, American Crossroads is off to a spectacular start and will be a major player in the 2010 mid term election. Meanwhile, the RNC will have a role in this year's election cycle, but the truth is Mr. Steele is there to keep the seat warm for his successor. The wager is Steele won't manage to burn the RNC down until his replacement arrives in time for the 2012 presidential election. There's not indication who that successor might be, but Mr. Law could emerge as a good candidate for the job.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is unlikely to resign and more unlikely to be recalled and replaced following recent disclosures about questionable and abhorrent RNC expenses. While anything is possible, the mechanics of replacing a chairman involves too many personalities, making it likely Chairman Steele fulfills his elected term through January 2011. The mechanics of a recall are not the only reason Mr. Steele probably keeps his job. There are two other reasons to consider.
Reason No. 2) when the GOP eventually nominates a presidential nominee that nominee and their staff and supporters will dictate terms to the RNC chairman, in this case Mr. Steele if he is able to keep his job by getting re-elected in January 2011. Mr. Steele's best bet and hope is that the GOP does well at the polls this November. A good ballot box performance by the GOP this fall will make it hard to remove Mr. Steele from his RNC post. In the event Mr. Steele survives past next January he will be placed on a very short leash by the GOP presidential nominee. Of course, if the GOP wins in 2012, Mr. Steele will reap the benefits and find himself in a plum Administration job thereafter.
So while many Republicans are hoping for Mr. Steele's ouster due to his gaffe prone performance, more likely it is the Democrats who get their wish by seeing no disruption in Chairman Steele’s current term in office.
The Republican National Committee lost it's first attempt to restore its ability to raise corporate contributions following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. The RNC's argument is that since it is a national party committee active in local and state as well as federal elections the ban on corporate contributions is a detriment to its activities in state and local elections where corporate contributions are legal.
Red Elephant actually agrees with the RNC's reasoning (the reasoning applies equally to the Democratic National Committee, which was not a party to this appeal). Candidly, Red Elephant has immense distaste for RNC Chairman Michael Steele and so is conflicted about the ruling. However, the ruling today by the Federal District Court for DC does not seem to square with the recent SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. That said, it makes sense that this ruling was made as this court was not prepared to overturn the SCOTUS opinion in McConnell v. FEC from 2003.
This further empowers the recently formed American Action Network, which will rise in GOP influence while RNC Chairman Steele grinds his teeth about not being able to play in the corporate contribution sandbox.
James O'Keefe and his fellow conspirators drew a long straw from the Department of Justice today and had charges regarding their caper at Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) office reduced to a misdemeanor. It appears the co-conspirators have hung together to fight the DoJ with success, thus proving the axiom of hanging together so as to not hang seperately.
Red Elephant is here to wrest control of the Republican Party from the greed, avarice and hypocritical small-minded, short-term thinking that currently holds sway. Red Elephant is going to undertake the task of talking about how the GOP gets off the mat and becomes a relevant and viable political party again. Red Elephant asks the reader to set aside preconceptions and entertain the prospect of enlarging their own views on the state, nature and direction of the Republican Party. Red Elephant understands the difference between politics and policy. Red Elephant knows how to compile, interpret and use data. Red Elephant is inclusive. Red Elephant wants to win for the right reasons on the just issues.
The typical Nascar-watching, gun toting, psalm quoting, unforgiving and intolerant Republican base voter is not going to care much for the content of Red Elephant. If this voter segment was much larger, then the GOP could exist only for them and still have an impact on the direction of the country. But it isn’t. The GOP cannot win by continuing the “Southern Strategy” of the 1990’s and that’s a fact that can be, and will be supported by statistical, data-driven analysis in future Red Elephant posts.
Every demographic that the GOP needs to become viable again is leaving the Republican Party at a rate that makes the Colorado River in spring seem like a trickle. If the GOP is to regain the trust of just a small percentage of nearly every important U.S. demographic of this century: white, non-white, male, female, every age group in every geopolitical region, college and non-college graduates, heterosexual and homosexual, every income group, the married and single, first it must examine its own self. Red Elephant is going to make it very clear, with plain, authentic data and analysis, how the GOP should go about defining itself in order to achieve socio-political relevance and electoral victory.
Red Elephant will not allow the GOP to turn away from the future for the immediate satisfaction of catering to a small segment of the electorate that remains loyal as long as the Republican Party is the party of exclusion and intolerance. To continue down that path is to forfeit a proud political heritage as a proponent of civil rights and deny its own importance of providing the economic checks and balances that are the foundation of a two party political system.
The GOP has a future if it forgoes the nonsense of denying the possibility of consensus on the important issues of the day. Red Elephant believes that enough is enough and it’s time for the Republican Party to lead by example.