A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Senators Need To Pass Gun Safety Laws

Tell Congress: "Don't be cowed by the gun lobby! Let's get moooving on gun safety!"

In April, five – just five – votes prevented the bill to strengthen background checks on gun purchases from moving forward. Polls conducted shortly after the vote in such states as Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio found that the U.S. Senators who opposed passing background checks for gun purchases suffered immediate declines in their approval ratings. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire saw her favorability numbers plummet by a whopping 15 points. The backlash against Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake was so great that on his Facebook page he admitted that his vote helped place him “somewhere just below pond scum.”

Clearly some Senators were more concerned about special interests than they were about the fact that more than 90% of the American people support background checks for gun purchases.

Well, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on gun policy reform again in the next few months, and several U.S. Senators are said to be having second thoughts about their "no" votes.
MomsRising and our moms in the Washington, DC Metro Area are planning a little bovine-themed trip to Capitol Hill in a few weeks to let U.S. Senators know how udderly committed we are to passing background checks for all gun purchases. We'll be using humor to break through the partisan gridlock and garner the attention of leaders and the media – and we'll be putting on cow ears to bring your messages, signatures and thoughts, along with some adorable kids dressed up in cow costumes, directly to leaders in Congress.  
*So don't forget to put your name on our open letter to Congress to help them get moooving on passing background checks:

Democrats Can Lose The Senate in 2014

Republicans have thrown everything they have at stopping President Obama’s agenda.  It seems obvious that there is only one thing we can do to fix this stalemate: we HAVE to elect more Democrats and win back the Senate.

2014 represents a great opportunity for RepublicansIn 2014, Republicans will have 14 US Senate seats to defend.  Thirteen of the 14 states were won by double digits in 2008 (a Democratic sweep year), and all states were won by both John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, except for Maine.  On the upside for the GOP minority, all of these seats should be safe. Republicans have reason to be optimistic about the way the 2014 Senate races are shaping up around the country.  They need to recapture six seats in seven states that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried. 

Republicans can capture the Senate without winning a single seat in Obama states.  Six Democratic incumbents are retiring, and only two are doing so from safe Democratic states.  Retirements in South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and West Virginia all pose risks for Democrats.   Republicans will be competitive in Democratic open seats if they recruit top-quality candidates.  Just two Republicans are retiring — Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska. Both are vacating states that went for Romney and seem likely to elect Republicans, barring the unexpected.
In Montana, Democrats are waiting to see whether popular incumbent Gov. Brian Schweitzer will jump into the Senate race, which could seriously damage GOP hopes of grabbing that seat.
In South Dakota, Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson’s decision to step down at the end of his current term has created an opening for either former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who has declared his candidacy, or second-term GOP Rep. Kristi L Noem, who is flirting with a bid.  Whoever emerges as the GOP nominee is thought to have the upper hand after former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin opted out of the race, leaving long-shot Rick Welland, , a former aide to retired Sen. Tom Daschle, as the likely Democratic nominee.

In WV, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a terrific campaigner, is running and currently holding a lead.  She will have to face a primary opponent from her ideological right.  A series of big-name Democrats have said no, leaving the party without a clear next step in terms of a candidate.
“The party’s problem is getting the right people to run.  “Their recruiting has gone poorly so far in places like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Virginia.  So, despite having a big map to play offense on, in reality the Republican road appears to be narrowing to the red presidential states: Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.” ~ Kyle Kondik, University of Virginia Center For Politics

Part of the challenge is to find new faces the party can turn to as it continues to shed the image it had during the Bush administration and to meld tea-party enthusiasm with candidates who bring campaign experience.  To win, Republicans must also offer a compelling and substantive agenda for America's economy, jobs, health care and fiscal situation that attract discerning independents (and the occasional disgruntled Democrats) on whom victory will depend.  The quality of GOP campaigns will matter as well. Republicans must go toe-to-toe with Democrats on ObamaCare, spending, deficits, the president's social agenda and, where appropriate, their opponent's character. But even done effectively, this won't be enough.

There are 34 U.S. Senate seats up for election in 2014. Of those seats, 14 are currently held by Republicans and 20 are held by Democrats.
State                Incumbent
1.     AK              Mark Begich - D
2.     AL              Jeff Sessions – R
3.     AR              Mark Pryor – D
4.     CO              Mark Udall – D
5.     DE              Chris Coons – D
6.     GA              Saxby Chambliss – R    Retiring
7.     HI               Brian Schatz – D
8.     IA               Tom Harkin – D            Retiring
9.     ID               Jim Risch – R
10.                        IL                Dick Durbin – D
11.                        KS              Pat Roberts – R
12.                        KY              Mitch McConnell – R
13.                        LA              Mary Landrieu – D
14.                        MA             William Cowan – D
15.                        ME             Susan Collins – R
16.                        MI               Carl Levin – D               Retiring
17.                        MN             Al Franken – D
18.                        MS              Thad Cochran – R
19.                        MT             Max Baucus – D            Retiring
20.                        NC              Kay Hagan – D
21.                        NE              Mike Johanns – R                   Retiring
22.                        NH              Jeanne Shaheen – D
23.                        NJ               Jeff Chiesa - R               Retiring
24.                        NJ               Frank Lautenberg          Died
25.                        NM             Tom Udall – D
26.                        OK              Jim Inhofe – R
27.                        OR              Jeff Merkley – D
28.                        RI               Jack Reed – D
29.                        SC              Lindsey Graham – R
30.                        SD              Tim Johnson – D           Retiring
31.                        TN              Lamar Alexsnder – R
32.                        TX              John Cornyn – R
33.                        VA              Mark Warner – D
34.                        WV             Jay Rockefeller - D        Retiring
35.                        WY             Mike Enzi – R
* Alabama - Jeff Sessions would be 67 if he runs for re-election. He won by a healthy 26-point margin in 2008.
*Colorado - The headaches continue in Colorado, where the GOP remains without a challenger to Sen. Mark Udall after Rep. Cory Gardner announced this week that he would not run against the vulnerable Democrat.

* Georgia – Saxby Chambliss has opted against running in 2014. In the 2008 general election (with Obama on the ballot), Chambliss topped his Democratic opponent by just 3 points. Neither candidate hit 50%, and in Georgia that means there is a runoff election. In the runoff election held just a month later and without Obama on the ballot, Chambliss won by a comfortable 15-point margin. Until a potential field starts to shape up, this seat will stay in the GOP column.  Georgia will have a big primary but should remain Republican unless a candidate ill-suited for the general election sneaks through the primary.
* Idaho – Jim Risch won by 24-points in 2008 and announced he is running for re-election.
* Kansas – Pat Roberts easily won with 60% of the vote in his last outing and will be safe in this deep red state.
* Kentucky – Mitch McConnell was the lone single-digit victor in 2008, winning by 6-points. But like in Georgia that year, Obama gave Kentucky Democrats a stronger-than-usual boost in votes. McConnell should see a more favorable mid-term electorate.  Mitch McConnell understands that while Kentucky is a Republican presidential stronghold, every state capital office but one is occupied by a Democrat. That's why he's raised more money than any other senator up in 2014.
*Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu hails from a storied political family, but her state's voters chose Mr. Romney by 17.2 points. Republicans are coalescing behind Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is off to an impressive start. 
*Maine – Susan Collins stated in March 2013 she planned on running for another term. While Republicans cheered when her colleague Olympia Snowe retired, that seat immediately became uncompetitive for Republicans. If the GOP wants to win the Senate, Snow will likely be a key factor.  Only one Republican seat is in a state (Maine) that President Obama won by more than 10%.  Maine's Susan Collins is the only GOP incumbent running in an Obama state, but she's personally popular and an effective campaigner. 
* Mississippi – Thad Cochran was first elected in 1978 and he has won every election since by at least 20 points. He will be 76 if he decides to run again in 2014, but either way the seat should be safely Republican.
* Nebraska – Ben Sasse, a former George W Bush administration official the GOP may turn to in hopes of offering voters a fresh face who could keep the seat in its corner.  Mr. Sasse, said he wants to stop the “devastating impact Obamacare implementation will have on Nebraska families and small businesses.  Those who know him seem impressed, but he is largely unknown so there are many opportunities for his candidacy to crash and burn.” ~ John Hibbing, a political-science professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

*New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown may challenge freshman Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. He's a ninth generation Granite Stater; she was born in Missouri.  Seeking a challenger to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, the GOP is eyeing former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown. 

*North Carolina, Several Republicans, including the speaker of the state house and the state senate majority leader, could run against freshman Sen. Kay Hagan. North Carolinians elected a GOP governor and big GOP legislative majorities last year.

*New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker formally announced he's in the race to finish the U.S. Senate term of the late Frank Lautenberg.
* Oklahoma – Jim Inhofe has won 3 straight elections with exactly 57% of the vote. But he will be 80 in 2014. He is safe if he runs again, and the GOP has a number of options if he retires.
* South Carolina – Lindsey Graham won by 16-points in 2008. His name often pops up as a target for a GOP primary challenge given his past and on illegal immigration, climate change, and his role in the “gang of 14” that helped prevent conservative nominees from being nominated to various judicial benches.

* South Carolina Special Election – When Jim DeMint retired to head the Heritage Foundation, Governor Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to the seat. With so many seats to defend themselves, this will probably not be a major target for Democrats.
* Tennessee – Lamar Alexander has announced he will run for re-election after winning by a hefty 32-point margin in 2008.
* Texas – John Cornyn is serving in his second term and should be safe for the GOP whether he runs or not. The Democrats view Julian Castro as their future in Texas and may push him towards a run either here or in the race for Governor.  But Mayor Juli├ín Castro of San Antonio has said he doesn’t think 2014 is the right year for a Democrat.
* Wyoming – Mike Enzi won by 52 points in 2008 and would be a lock should he run again. He would be 70. If he were to retire, Liz Cheney recently moved to Washington and might be interested in competing for the seat.