Backlash In Utah?

Mike Lee doesn’t grab the headlines like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul but he is a major figure in the Tea Party.  If for no other reason than his victory over then-incumbent Senator Bob Bennett was a sign of their growing influence in the party.  Bennett had been in the Senate for 18 years and was part of a very powerful family in Utah, so for anyone to defeat him was a big shock.

Now three years later the Washington Post reports some Utah business leaders and Republican party figures have soured on Lee and his more confrontational approach.  Is this the sign of a backlash in the GOP against the Tea Party?

The key point from the article is that Lee’s opponents are trying to change the nomination process.  If they can get the Utah to move away from a convention system for picking nominees to a primary this could make Lee vulnerable.  He won the GOP nomination in a convention and most people think if it had been a primary instead Bennett would still be in the Senate.

Like many things in politics this may come down to who can write the rules.  If it stays a convention Lee should be fine but if it goes to a primary the Tea Party favorite may have a problem.


Perennial Non-Candidate Watch – Sarah Palin

Fresh off her appearance in Washington, DC with Rafi Cruz it is being reported Sarah Palin will be speaking in Iowa.  It was just announced she will speak to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition in November.

This will generate media coverage.  Hopefully everyone will remember she is not running for anything.  Why?  Much like Donald Trump she knows actually running would hurt her books sales and conservative convention appearances.

Sunday Lineup

Here is your Sunday morning talk show lineup:

“Meet the Press” on NBC

  •  Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO, National Rifle Association
  •  Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
  •  Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chairwoman, Joint Economic Committee
  •  Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
  •  Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

“Face the Nation” on CBS

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ranking member, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.)
  • Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

“This Week” on ABC

  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member, House Budget Committee
  • Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.)
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
  • Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich

“Fox News Sunday” on Fox

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
  • Republican strategist Karl Rove
  • Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

“State of the Union” on CNN

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

“Political Capital” on Bloomberg TV

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman, Senate Budget Committee

“Newsmakers” on C-SPAN

  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)

“Al Punto” on Univision

  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chairman, House Democratic Caucus
  • Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
  • José W. Fernandez, assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs

It looks like everyone will be focused on the government shut down and the battle over the budget.  Good that Newt Gingrich will be there to share memories about the last time we had a shut down and the GOP ate a political shit sandwich over it.

Also nice that NRA head Wayne LaPierre will be on NBC to say for the 10,000th time that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


Mike Lee v. Karl Rove on Obamacare

Somewhere along the line Karl Rove became the conservative whipping boy and the epitome for all the times the establishment has robbed true conservatives of their rightful victories.  I guess people forgot about 2000 and 2004.

Apparently things are not going to get better for Rove because he dared to question the wisdom of shutting down the U.S. government to try and kill funding for Obamacare.  His debate with Mike Lee is pretty irrelevant because Lee painted him as the defender of Obamacare so Rove is done (after all Obamacare is less popular than uterine cancer) but what’s interesting is how it may impact 2016.

This is especially true for Marco Rubio.  On the one hand he wants the establishment (people like Rove) to support him but he also wants to be the Tea Party darling (people who agree with Lee).  This big debate is one place he can’t be both.

If Rubio goes ahead and supports shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare, to get back support he lost over immigration reform, he risks losing the support of the party establishment, especially if Chris Christie is there as a viable alternative to Rubio.

No amount of quoting rap lyrics is going to solve that problem for Rubio.  Maybe it really is mo’ money, mo’ problems.

Another Litmus Test

At the start of today’s RedState Morning Briefing the following message appears:

Please allow me to make one point at the top here today.
For several years, Republican establishment types and their allies in the press have mocked conservatives for wanting an all or nothing strategy. They’ve said we have to be willing to compromise. So Mike Lee proposes a plan to fund the government except for the discretionary funding for Obamacare. The reaction of GOP leaders? They only want to support a plan that fully repeals Obamacare.
Conservatives have done what the GOP establishment wants. And now they attack us for compromising instead of going all or nothing?
We inch ever closer to a third party as Republican Leaders commit suicide by lie. The leadership willing to fight the base to pass a terrible immigration reform bill won’t lift a finger to fight against Obamacare.
— Erick

Is this a sign that we’ll soon have a new litmus test for Republican candidates?  Candidates will have to answer where they stand on the defunding of Obamacare in the upcoming government funding fight.  

Guess you can add that to the litmus test list that includes – immigration, taxes, abortion, gay marriage, and gun rights.

To be clear I am not opposed to a party or voters having a litmus test.  The Democrats and liberals have plenty of them.  I am just noting that there might be a new one added to the list.  The longer the list gets the fewer people will get everything right on it.  


Paul and Rubio Under Pressure

Just received an email from Matt Bevin letting me know the following about Mitch McConnell:

McConnell says he stands with conservatives…but he endorsed Trey Grayson (over Rand Paul), Arlen Specter (over Pat Toomey), Charlie Crist (over Marco Rubio), and Bob Bennett (over Mike Lee).

Well, he went there.  As if Bevin had any alternative.

Now the question is how will Paul and Rubio respond. Neither wants McConnell as an enemy – the guy didn’t get to be Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate because he lets bygones be bygones – but they also don’t want to be seen as going all squishy when it came time to stand up for the Tea Party.  This can be an opportunity or big screw up – depending on how they play it.

Especially for Rubio the need to gain back support from the party’s Tea Party wing is critical after he’s seen support slip after his work on the immigration bill.  Paul can get away with sticking by McConnell saying “he know McConnell and Bevin spent too much time out of the state.”

Also what will Heritage Action, Americans For Prosperity and Freedom Works do?  They don’t McConnell as an enemy either but being able to take out the party’s leader in the U.S. Senate would scare the crap out of anyone thinking of breaking with either orthodoxy.

Kentucky is shaping up to be one interesting place over the next few months.


Ornstein says gimme 5

Norm Ornstein has a new piece in the Atlantic saying the GOP is really five parties in one.  He argues:

That is because I see at least five Republican parties out there, with a lot of overlap, but with enough distinct differences that the task is harder than usual. There is a House party, a Senate party, and a presidential party, of course. But there is also a Southern party and a non-Southern one. The two driving forces dominating today’s GOP are the House party and the Southern one

The division between the Southern and non-Southern is an interesting one.  I don’t think the party divisions he details are a little inflated.  The Senate party is a becoming like the House party.  Look at the people like Cruz, Paul, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson plus the likelihood of primary challenges to Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander and you see the distinction starting to blur.  Going forward we may see even more blurring based on who the GOP nominates in West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

As for the Presidential party if they are to take their natural leadership role someone is going to need to stand up to the House and Southern wings.  Is that gonna happen?  Well, that’s why this blog is here.