Thursday, January 20, 2011

Health Care Repeal and the 2012 Elections

During the last election cycle the Republicans promised they would vote to repeal the unpopular Health Care Bill passed last March. With this pledge, republicans took 70 seats in the House of Representatives and gained six seats in the Senate. Yesterday, the republicans in the House made good on their promise by passing a bill to repeal Obama care 245 to 189. It was nearly along party lines with only three Democrats backing the repeal.

Now the bill moves on to the Senate where Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has said he will not bring it to the floor for a vote.

This was a symbolic vote, and the republicans knew it going in. There is a snowballs chance in a hot place of passing in the Senate and even if it makes it through the Senate, President Obama is sure to veto it.

This is all fine by me. Let the 192 House Democrats try to run on Obama Care once again. Of course, they didn’t run on Obama Care during the 2010 election cycle, knowing that it was a hot potato and mostly likely wouldn’t help them. It could be an even bigger loss for them than 2010. There is no question some House seats are safe for democrats no matter who runs against them.  Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco could get reelected in that district even if she were a convicted felon. Most of the Democratic Reps from Oregon are safe except maybe DeFazio who represents southwestern Oregon. While District 4 in OR is a fairly rural area of the state, it is dominated by Eugene and Corvallis which are hugely Democrat. In the state of Washington House Representation is dominated by Democrats who are mostly safe. But Jamie Herrera did show last year that a district held by a mostly by a Democrat only the past 50 years can be won by a Republican.

 Let the Senate Democrats try to get reelected. In 2012 there are 21 Democrats up for reelection and some of them could be venerable given the recent shift to the right of the America public. The following Senators are up for reelection in 2012:

Dianne Feinstein (CA, Toss up): Given the ongoing budget crises, her environment record, and her age, this seat could be a tossup. She is known as a big spender and could see some backlash because of both the US and CA budget woes. She is a staunch environmentalist. She has vote to protect large swaths of the Mojave Desert and to severely restrict water for San Joaquin Valley farmers. As a strong environmentalist it seems strange that she would block wind a solar development in the Mojave Desert, which seems like a great place for both types of projects since the winds blows there a lot and there is lots of sunshine. She will turn 79 in 2012, which could worry even some of her supporters.

Thomas Carper (DE, Safe): Last time he ran, he won 70% of the vote so he should be safe, especially since Delaware is a Democratic stronghold.

Clarence Nelson (FL, Safe to Toss up): I am waffling a little on this one. This former Astronaut is quite popular in Florida increasing his margin of victory each time. I waffle because Marco Rubio, a Republican, was recently elected to the Senate. If the republicans in FL put up a strong candidate anything is possible.

Daniel Akaka (HI, Toss up): ‘Time’ Magazine has named him as one of the worst Senators calling him the “Master of the Minor”. He has passed no legislation of any significance despite his 20+ years in the Senate. His age could also be a hindrance for his reelection bid in 2012 when he will be 88. Plus Hawai’i has shown some movement to the right.
Ben Cardin (MD, Safe): Beat former RNC Chairman Michael Steele by 10% in 2006 and should easily facedown any challenger.

Debbie Stabenow (MI, Not Safe): Michigan’s unemployment is the second highest in the nation at over 14% and she will mostly likely be held accountable. She will also likely be running against popular Sec of State Terri Lynn. The one thing working in her favor is that Michigan is a union stronghold and union members routinely vote Democrat (why, I’ll never understand). But the whole jobs issue could even crumble this voting bloc.

Amy Klobuchar (MN, Toss up): Minnesota is a weird state. They elect a former professional wrestler to the governorship, then they elect a bad comedian to the US Senate. Go figure! But she is quite popular in her state. Continuing economic woes, which have not impact Minnesota as hard as other states in the upper Midwest, could be a factor in the 2012 race.

Claire McCaskil (MO, Not Safe): this one should be an easy pickup for the Republicans as long as they don’t screw it up by running someone who can be as polarizing as McCaskill. In 2006, she barely won election plus Missouri is consider a swing state where the political winds can and do shift suddenly. Politics in MO have become contentious and have centered around the Health Care Bill’s unpopularity in the state.

Jon Tester (MT, Not Safe): How the state of Montana continues to elect democrats to the Senate completely confounds me. I live there for a few years and they are self-reliant, independent minded (reasonable and prudent speed limits), pull yourself up by the boots straps, let’s get to work kind of state. The recent influx of money and California refugees might have something to do with this swing to the left.  They are a rural state with five small population centers, each less than 125,000. He just beat the previous Republican Senator, Conrad Burns in 2006 and if the Republicans put up a strong candidate, Tester should be easy pickings.

Ben Nelson (NE, Safe): Very popular guy. He is pro-gun, pro-farmer, conservative Democrat. His downfall might be the “Cornhusker Kickback”, although eliminated in the final version, might come back and kick in the butt. I don’t see him losing in 2012 unless Dr Tom Osborne runs against him. In the state of Nebraska, Osborne could run against God and stand a better than even chance of winning.

Robert Menendez (NJ, Safe): Most likely safe as New Jersey is a heavily Democrat state. The only thing that might work against him in the nation’s swing to the right is his far-left voting record.

Jeff Bingaman (NM, Safe): Highly popular with the growing Hispanic population in New Mexico. Absolutely crushed his opponent in 2006 by a 41% margin. Hopefully the RNC won’t throw too much money here.

Kent Conrad, (ND, toss up): Another state that just completely boggles my mind. Both Senators from North Dakota are Democrats. But there is hope. Conrad has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2012 so this opens up the seat to a Republican. Many are hoping the current ND governor, John Hoeven, will run. If he does run, then this changes from toss up to not safe for the Democrats.

Sherrod Brown (OH, Toss up): With the recent election of Republican Rob Portman Ohio, in my opinion, has changed from Safe to toss up for the Democrats. Brown could be a one term Senator if the Republican play their cards right.
Robert Casey, (PA, Toss up): Casey is definitely a far-left kind of guy with the exception of one area, he is pro-life. He favors amnesty, gay rights, leftist environmental issues, and forcing insurance companies covering birth control. If I recall correctly, he didn’t beat Rick Santorum by much in 2006, so the Republicans could get this seat back.

Sheldon Whitehorse (RI, Safe): Rhode Island is another solidly Democrat east coast state. His views are quite liberal, which could be a weakness that the republicans could exploit, but he is most likely safe.

Jim Webb (VA, Toss up): He beat George Allen by .8% in 2006 after Allen had a gaffe during a rally just prior to election. He is pro-veteran in a state with many veterans, but he is not a supporter of the Iraqi war. Because of his verbal gaffe (calling a Webb staffer a Macaca, whatever that is), Allen should not run again, but there might be another good candidate out there. Virginia does have tendency to lean right. Look at the court challenge to Obama Care.

Joe Manchin (WV, Toss up): Manchin was a very popular governor until he won an election to replace long time Senator, Robert Byrd, who passed away in Jun 2010. Manchin will be up for reelection in 2012 and this is a seat the Republican can win if they run the right candidate. As a Democrat, Manchin is expected to go along with Obama’s agenda, which includes plans to do damage to the coal industry, the number one employer in the state of West Virginia. If Manchin bucks Obama and votes for his state (as a Senator should), then he has a good chance to retain the seat.  If not, he’ll go down in a ball of flames, regardless of the union leadership’s support of him. Union members will not vote for Manchin if he does anything that could be perceived as against coal.

Maria Cantwell, (WA, Safe): Most likely safe. When Dino Rossi ran against Patty Murray, he had a good showing in the heavily Democrat state of Washington. But Rossi is a three time loser in election bids against Democrat foes and he may not want to run again. It is very hard to beat the Democrat machine, especially in King County, where Democrats carry the day, sometimes as much as 4 to 1. She doesn’t have as strong of reputation supporting veteran as Murray does, so that might work against her. And she does like taxes, and Washingtonians have rejected tax increases several times over in the past few years.

Herb Kohl (WI, Toss up): One of the richest members of the Senate should be considered safe, but Wisconsin has just done a huge flip. They elected a Republican Governor, and the state house has also flipped to the Republicans. There is momentum in WI to take this seat, but Kohl has bucket loads of money and it will take a very strong republican opponent with gobs of cash to unseat him.

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