Ros-Lehtinen Retirement Is Exciting News For Florida Democrats

Marking an end of an era for Hispanic Republicans, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement to her hometown newspaper, The Miami Herald. She will not be running for re-election in the upcoming 2018 midterms.

During her career in politics, Ros-Lehtinen attained numerous titles. She was the first Cuban American and first Hispanic woman to be elected to Congress in 1989. She will also leave the House of Representatives as its longest serving Republican congresswoman. Before arriving on Capitol Hill, the Cuban-born politician was the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the Florida State House and State Senate. Her legacy was one that began the career for major Republican politicians of today: Jeb Bush ran her 1989 congressional campaign and Marco Rubio had interned for her at one time.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen will also be leaving behind a strong tradition of moderation within her party. While taking hard stances on some issues, such as relations with Cuba, she bucked the Republican Party numerous times on immigration reform, abortion rights, LGBT rights and healthcare. Ros-Lehtinen is the first member of Congress to have an openly transgender child. She was the first Republican in the House to support gay marriage and she has been one of the most vocal Republican critics of President Trump.

This moderate streak has allowed her to thrive in an increasingly blue district.

Either running unopposed or wining by double digits, Ros-Lehtinen has not had much trouble getting elected. However, Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which she currently represents, is becoming more Democrat-friendly by the year. This trend reached a climax last year when the district voted for Clinton over Trump by almost 20 percentage points – the most Democratic district to be represented by a Republican. Given her legacy, Ros-Lehtinen has been able to succeed amid the change. She won re-election in 2016 by about a 10-point margin.

Now that she is retiring, the district is increasingly likely to fall into Democratic hands. Registered Democrats currently outnumber registered Republicans 37 to 34 percent, and the DNC is already on the offensive. Only a top-tier candidate could woo Republican donors into believing the 2018 race is worth investing in.

The Democrat Ros-Lehtinen beat by 10 points last year, Scott Fuhrman, has already announced he’s running again in 2018. Despite hitting the ground running with name recognition, he may not succeed in a Democratic primary where the district is around 58 percent Hispanic.

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez has been courted by Democratic operatives in Florida and had announced her candidacy before Ros-Lehtinen declared her retirement. University of Miami academic adviser Michael A. Hepburn is also running as a Democrat.

The candidate Florida Republicans believe could be their best hope is former Miami-Dade school board member Raquel Regalado. A moderate Hispanic in the similar mold of Ros-Lehtinen, Regalado could possibly win with the same coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans who have kept the current congresswoman into power. While not yet announcing a run, Regalado says she is giving it serious consideration.

To their merit, the Florida GOP does have an impressive list of other names considering a bid in the district. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, state Sen. Anitere Flores and state Rep. Jeanette Núñez are other names being floated around.

The outcome of this election could have major consequences on control of the House post-2018. House Democrats would need to capture 24 seats to gain control of the legislative body. It would be a steep climb to make, but the special House election in Kansas and the one currently taking place in Georgia could be an indication that Democrats are energized and may make serious gains in the midterms.

Campaign Daily Rating: Lean Democrat

 

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Should Devin Nunes Be Worried?

Rep. Devin Nunes has never had to worry about survival in California’s 22nd Congressional District. First elected in 2002, Nunes has won every general election since then by over 61 points. California may have become a hostile place for Republicans, but the voters in his Fresno-area district have never turned their back on him. In his most recent election, Nunes defeated Democratic challenger Louie Campos with a 35-point spread.

Statistically speaking, there is no trend giving the California Republican reason for concern. In D.C., however, he has placed himself into some embarrassing headlines.

As Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes was tasked with leading the House investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. After intense scrutiny that he may have mishandled classified information in an effort to shield President Trump, he has stepped down from the investigation. The House Ethics Committee is currently investigating the matter.

In comes Andrew Janz, Fresno County Deputy District Attorney.

Janz has never held elected office before, but believes he has a chance at capturing California’s 22nd District. The 33-year-old novice Democrat claims voters are “fed up” with Nunes and says the idea that he is unbeatable is a myth. Janz announced in late April that he will challenge Nunes for his seat.

There are no such things as absolutes in politics, but Nunes owning the 22nd District may just make him as close to “unbeatable” as it gets. Currently, the district boasts a 10-point Republican voter registration advantage. The Republican congressman also has deep, deep ties to the district – he hails from a three generation dairy farming family and has represented the area for almost 15 years.

In the age of Trump, however, nothing can be for certain. Nunes’ California colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, enjoyed continuous election victories over the years by double digit margins. To the surprise of many, Issa had the fight of the political life amid the 2016 election – only beating his Democrat challenger by less than one percentage point. We see the same thing going on right now in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election.

Janz is a long shot at unseating Nunes, but nothing is a ever a done deal.

Campaign Daily Rating: Safe Republican

 

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These Two Governors Are Thriving In Unfriendly Territory

Perhaps “unfriendly” is a poor word choice. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Larry Hogan of Maryland have enjoyed sky-high popularity since the very beginning of their tenure. In fact, the two literally top the list of most popular governors in America – Baker number one with a whopping 75 percent approval rating and Hogan nipping at his heels with 73 percent.

The real kicker in this story: the Republican duo represent two of some of the most liberal states in the country. Both men were elected in the GOP wave year of 2014 and are up for re-election next year.

The upcoming mid-terms will be a rough road for Republican governors, as they will have to play defense in the majority of states. Twenty seven of the 38 gubernatorial seats up for grabs in 2017 and 2018 are currently held by the GOP – giving Democrats a high ceiling for growth. It would be assumed Maryland and Massachusetts (two states with overtly high Democratic voter registration advantages) would be top targets. However, it may prove difficult for the Democratic Governors Association to field worthy candidates against such popular figures.

Rep. Joe Kennedy has declined a run against Baker and so has Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey – eliminating two top-tier candidates. Former Secretary of Administration and Finances, Jay Gonzalez, has thrown his hat into the ring, and so has liberal activist Bob Massie. Newton Mayor Setti Warren is seriously considering a bid.

Donald Trump is deeply unpopular in the state. Gov. Baker had to publicly rebuke the then-presidential candidate during the 2016 campaign to create distance between the two. Despite this, Trump’s poor image will certainly be a factor leading into this election. Baker will be sharing a ballot with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a very popular Democrat in the state who is also running for re-election. Her own get-out-the-vote operation could prove to be a problem as she galvanizes liberal voters.

The environment could be ripe for a Baker defeat, but if no serious Democrat steps up to the challenge – it won’t matter.

A lot of the same can be said for Gov. Larry Hogan. He has also distanced himself from President Trump and governed his state moderately while working with a Democrat-controlled state legislature. Hogan won over the hearts of many Marylanders during his public battle (and eventual victory) with cancer – everyone loves a heartwarming tale.

Given Hogan’s amazing popularity and a campaign war chest of over $5 million, not many Democrats have jumped at the opportunity for a challenge. State Delegate Maggie McIntosh and a few other big names have declined to run. The only official candidate so far is former State Department official Alec Ross – an accomplished individual, but a relative unknown in Maryland. It is also looking very likely that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker will announce his candidacy in the coming days.

Both Charlie Baker and Larry Hogan shocked the country when they came out victorious in the aftermath of the 2014 elections… but a lot can happen in four years.

These two could win again and perhaps not a single spectator would be surprised.

Campaign Daily Rating (Massachusetts): Likely Republican

Campaign Daily Rating (Maryland): Likely Republican

 

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Polls Show A Conservative Landslide In UK Snap Elections

The complexities of negotiating Brexit have not been easy for Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative-led government.  Every Party has its own idea of how a proper exit from the EU should be done – some still don’t even want to leave. Such disagreement over Brexit talks has left Westminster in political disarray.

Because of this, PM May has called for a special “snap” election to be held. The election is meant to give the winner a mandate to lead the United Kingdom during the rough road ahead that will be divorcing the EU.

The election will be held on June 8 and, if current polls keep pace, the Conservative Party is positioned for major gains.

The Conservatives currently hold a slim majority in The House of Commons – 330 of the 650 seats. After the shellacking they took in the 2015 elections, Labour Party now holds around 100 fewer seats than their Tory colleagues. Unfortunately for Labour, polls indicate them fairing even worse in the upcoming snap election. A recent ICM poll shows Conservatives boasting a 22-point lead over Labour.

Why are the Tories polling so much better than Labour? Most experts are pointing to the differences of their respective leaders: Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

During her announcement of the snap election, PM May pushed a theme of stability from her Conservative government. She used (and has continued to use on the campaign trail) the phrase “strong and stable leadership.” This message has clearly resonated with Britons as polls cite her as more fit to lead the UK during Brexit negotiations.

On the other hand, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is consistently viewed as incapable and unfit to lead the nation as prime minister. In fact, his own party is fractured over his leadership. The execution of this special election may not bode well for his party. Labour is currently polling at historic lows. Despite this, Corbyn swears he will score an upset victory by means of an insurgent campaign.

Besides Labour and Conservative, there are other parties in play. Nicola Sturgeon leads the Scottish National Party and Tim Farron heads the Liberal Democrats. Both are ready to rumble and believe this election to be an opportunity to make gains in the House of Commons.

Following the defeat for Scottish independence, the Scottish National Party arose from its ashes. The SNP made major gains in the 2015 elections – making them the third largest party behind the Tories and Labour. The Lib Dems, on the other hand, had their worst showing in years. They now only hold 9 seats. Unfortunately for SNP and Lib Dems, both parties don’t seem to be resonating with voters. One latest poll even shows the SNP losing up to 10 seats to the Conservatives.

Barring any major game changes, June 8 should be a very happy day for Prime Minister May.

Campaign Daily Rating: Safe Tory

 

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Republicans Lining Up For A Chance At Bill de Blasio

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’ entrance into the New York City mayoral race makes for four serious Republican candidates looking for a chance to unseat incumbent Democrat Bill de Blasio. But with a Democratic voter registration advantage of 6-to-1 in the Big Apple and no Republican performing strongly in the polls, does the winner of the GOP primary even stand a chance?

Elected in 2013, Mayor de Blasio quickly became an unpopular figure in New York Democratic circles. His ongoing feud with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo may be the most infamous of political vendettas in recent history. Even the Clinton family has shown public disdain for the progressive mayor – relegating him to a trivial time slot during the 2016 Democratic National Convention as punishment for a late endorsement.

A challenge from the left seemed extremely plausible throughout his term. However, no real primary attempt has been orchestrated. Tony Avella, a state senator from Queens, and Sal Albanese, a former city councilman, are the only lawmakers giving it a shot. Polling currently shows neither of these Democrats having a shot at running a successful primary. In a hypothetical matchup, de Blasio would surpass the 40 percent mark to avoid a runoff.

From the right, former real estate sales executive Paul Massey appears best positioned to win the GOP primary. His campaign is by far the best organized – with very impressive fundraising numbers and a large operation of staff. Massey is running against Harlem pastor Michael Faulkner and assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. It is yet to be determined if former police detective and Fox News personality Bo Dietl will enter the race as a Republican or an Independent.

After the dust cleared in the 2013 Democratic primary, de Blasio went on to crush Republican Joe Lhota with 73 percent of the vote. This may have said something about Lhota’s poor skills on the campaign trail, but it also says everything about the difficulty of a Republican running in New York City.

Besides running in a very friendly Democratic environment and no serious challenges coming from the left, de Blasio has scored another victory in his bid for re-election: federal investigations into his fund-raising practices have concluded with no charges being brought forward. The prospect of a federal indictment now off the table, Mayor de Blasio can focus on his election without the weight on scandal on his shoulders.

Is re-election assured for de Blasio?

It may be too soon to make a conclusion. The same Quinnipiac Poll that shows Republican Massey getting steamrolled by the incumbent mayor 59 to 25 percent also reveals that the vast majority of voters do not know Massey or have yet to form an opinion on him – giving him a high ceiling for growth.

Despite an overwhelming voter registration advantage for the Democratic Party, the Big Apple has a history of bucking partisan norms. Before de Blasio’s entrance into City Hall, New York City had not voted for a Democrat mayor in almost twenty years. Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg stunned experts by winning as Republicans (Bloomberg later running as an Independent).

Recent history proves it is possible, but it would be no easy feat for a GOP candidate.

National politics have already come into play in this local race. Massey has attempted to create distance between President Trump and himself by pointing to the fact that his wife voted for Hillary Clinton. Bo Dietl would also be joining the fray with somewhat of a nationwide audience. Like the current president, Dietl has been described to have a larger-than-life personality. His frequent appearances on national T.V. may make him a dark horse candidate and someone to watch as the race moves forward.

de Blasio has somehow managed to appear too liberal for even the deep-blue city he manages. His push for universal pre-k for 3-year-olds and other government projects that are a drain on tax payers have managed to irk even the most liberal of Democrats. These issues with members of own party may explain why his campaign has struggled to attract donors like before. There are signs of cracks atop his leadership of New York City. However, they may not matter at the end of the day.

Despite his flaws, this mayoral election does appear to be de Blasio’s to lose.

Campaign Daily Rating: Safe Democrat

 

Photo by Kevin Case via: freeforcommercialuse.org

 

 

 

 

Macron And Le Pen Go Head To Head

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen placed in the top two, respectively, in the first round of round of the French presidential election. Macron came in with 23.9 percent of the total vote and Le Pen finished a close second with 21.4 percent.

Their victories mark the first time in many years in which a mainstream political party has failed to enter the second round of voting. The Republicans’ Francois Fillon and the Socialist Party’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon came at a very close third and fourth, but nevertheless did not make the cut.

With two political parties outside the “mainstream” entering the second round, one thing is glaringly obvious among French voters: They are tired of the status quo.

However, despite National Front’s Marine Le Pen and En Marche!’s Emmanuel Macron both having an outsider image, their vision for France could not be farther apart.

Dubbed by some as the “French Donald Trump,” Marine Le Pen has rode a wave of rising French nationalism. She has campaigned heavily on protecting the country’s jobs from globalization, holding a referendum on France’s European Union membership and calling for stricter immigration policies amid rising Islamic terror threats.

Macron’s stances could not appear to be more opposite. A former investment banker, he has spoken strongly in favor of free trade, supports EU membership and does not share Le Pen’s concerns over Islamic radicalism. Despite lacking establishment support for the majority of the campaign, Macron and his En Marche! party have now received the backing of major French politicians – as he is seen as the only means of preventing Le Pen from becoming president. In their concession speeches, several failed presidential candidates announced their support for Macron.

Who will win between the two?

Polling does not appear good for Le Pen. Polls correctly showed her making it to the second round. They now indicate her losing badly to Macron. A Harris poll conducted on Sunday shows Macron sailing ahead of Le Pen 64 to 34 percent – with other polls showing similar results. Le Pen has made a last-minute decision to step down as leader of the National Front – a symbolic move to appear above the political fray and to appeal to a broader base of voters.

Looking at the results of the first round, it is hard not to make comparisons to the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Macron scored highly among the rich and highly educated, whereas Le Pen found strong support in the more rural, less educated districts. Blue collar workers enjoyed Le Pen’s rhetoric of “France First” and her opposition to deregulation. The candidates’ opposing stances on free trade and globalization resulted in similar bastions of support to that of the American electorate.

For Le Pen’s sake, she better hope current polling is as wrong it was for the 2016 election. She will need to ride a wave of insurgency if she hopes to prevail against a mounting political establishment come May 7.

 

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Is Scott Walker Poised For A Third Term?

A question that seemed so unimaginable during his 2012 recall campaign.

While he has not officially announced his candidacy for re-election, Gov. Scott Walker appears to be in good standing to win again – for a fourth time in a row. Walker’s poll numbers dipped amid his failed presidential run, but have since slowly climbed up and now stand in the mid-40’s.  However, it’s not just his growing poll numbers that have experts in the Badger State believing another gubernatorial victory is his for the taking.

To lose an election, you need someone else to win. With that obvious fact on the table – there appears to be no one wanting to challenge Gov. Walker. Many high profile Democrats have already taken their name out of consideration. Former Green Bay Packers player Mark Tauscher, businessman Mark Bakken, Congressman Ron Kind and former state Sen. Tim Cullen are the latest (of others) who have opted out of a Walker challenge.

The only Democrat who has officially announced is 25-year-old Bob Harlow, a man who ran for Congress in California last year. Not exactly top talent.

Wisconsin is a bona fide purple state with a long history of progressive politics. The voters in the Badger State voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1988 – until last year. As early as 2010, both chambers of the state capitol were controlled by Democrats. Why would it be so hard to find to find a serious Democrat to challenge a governor despised by the liberals?

Perhaps Wisconsin isn’t what it used to be.

The Badger State shocked the country when it broke over two decades of tradition and voted for Donald Trump, a Republican candidate, for president. But if you look closer at the partisan changes in the state, it may not seem so surprising.

Both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature are now GOP controlled. A larger majority of Wisconsin’s House Delegation is Republican. The state was at the epicenter of Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall” collapse amid the night of the 2016 election.

Gov. Scott Walker may have rode a GOP wave into office during the 2010 mid-terms, but he clearly earned his place as the state’s top executive. In the three gubernatorial races he’s run: the 2010 election, the 2012 recall and the 2014 re-election, Walker never took less than 52 percent of the vote.

The 2012 recall that attempted to oust him from power did just the opposite. Walker not only survived the recall attempt, but walked away with a national donor base and recognition from conservatives around the country. It’s this same donor base that’s scaring Democrats from challenging him. Numerous Democratic lawmakers have cited an inability to match Walker’s fundraising prowess as reason for opting out of a challenge. The governor raked in about $35 million in his 2014 campaign and many estimate he could raise as much as $45 million for 2018.

While Gov. Walker continued to win race after race and local Democrats dwindled in the state legislature, Rep. Paul Ryan continued to climb the ladders of power on Capitol Hill. He was idolized on the right during the 2012 election as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In 2015, Ryan became the current speaker of the House – the first Wisconsin congressman to ever do so.

Even more so, the former Wisconsin GOP chairman, Reince Priebus, became the RNC chairman in 2011 and earned a national profile of his own. Getting promoted yet again, he now serves as the White House chief of staff.

The once-dark blue Wisconsin has become the epicenter of Republican politics.

It can be argued that Donald Trump paved his own way to victory in The Badger State by winning over rural voters with his blue-collar appeal. However, there should be no denying the road Walker, Ryan and Priebus paved into transforming the partisan shift of Wisconsin.

This may be why Wisconsin is less friendly to Democrats than times past.

It may also be why Gov. Walker won’t have such a tough time securing a third term.

Campaign Daily Rating: Likely Republican

 

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