Texas: Campaigns for the US House are hot and heavy

Texas: Campaigns for the US House are hot and heavy

By Hastings Wyman – The Lone Star State will hold its primaries on March 6, the first primaries in the nation in the current election cycle. Runoffs will be held on May 22 in those contests in which no candidate receives a majority of the votes. The 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th are all districts where a Republican incumbent is retiring. In these districts, the winner of the GOP primary is expected to prevail in November, so the Republican primaries are very competitive. In the 7th, where US Rep. John Culberson (R) is a major Democratic target, the big battle is between the top two well-funded contenders (D), Alex Triantaphyis and Eliabeth Fletcher. But two other Democrats have raised significant cash and can’t be counted out. A runoff is a probability. In the 18th District, where US Rep. Lamar Smith (R) is retiring, ten candidates have filed, seven Republicans and three Democrats. One insider calls it “chaos, impossible to predict.” On the GOP side, Bill Negley has raised the most money, but Chip Roy is a former chief of staff for Ted Cruz, who has campaigned with Roy. The San Antonio Express-News has endorsed Jenifer Sarver. Democrat Joe Kopser has raised more money than any Republican and is a safe bet to win his primary. Look for a major battle here in November. In the 23rd, where Democrats hope to topple incumbent William Hurd (R), there is a competitive primary (D) between two candidates. This district will also host a heated contest in the fall. In the 27th District, incumbent Blake Farenthold (R) is retiring under a sexual harassment...
Money messages in Southern US House races

Money messages in Southern US House races

By Hastings Wyman In today’s volatile political environment, the amount of money that candidates for Congress have raised and have on hand is a major indicator of what could happen in November. In ten of Dixie’s districts, Democratic challengers already have war chests that suggest there will be competitive races in once safe Republican districts. In Virginia, three Republican US Representatives are facing well-funded Democratic challengers. US Rep. Tom Garrett (R) had $108,000 on hand in the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports; four of his Democratic foes have more on hand than Garrett, and the total cash on hand for these four is $1,105,000. In Virginia’s 7th District, US Rep. David Brat (R) has $470,000 on hand; his two major foes combined have $704,000. And US Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in Virginia’s 10th District has an impressive $1,195,000 on hand, but her eight Democratic opponents have a total of $2,937,000. Of course, much of this Democratic cash will be spent in contested primaries, but the large amounts of Democratic money in these districts is a sign that Ralph Northam’s (D) impressive victory in last year’s gubernatorial election could be replicated in several in several of the state’s congressional districts. Other Republican incumbents facing Democrats with large bank accounts include Florida’s Daniel Webster (R), with a mere $53,000 on hand to former US Rep. Alan Grayson’s $556,000. In Georgia, US Reps. Rob Woodall (R) and Barry Loudermilk (R) will also face well-funded Democratic challenges. There is one Democrat facing substantial GOP money, and that’s former Democratic National chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She has $390,000 on hand; Joe Kaufman (R),...
Matt Gaetz: The son also rises, and then some

Matt Gaetz: The son also rises, and then some

By Hastings Wyman – US Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “kind of followed his father up the ladder,” says one long-time observer of Sunshine State politics, noting that Gaetz’s father, Don Gaetz, was elected Okaloosa County school superintendent and was given credit for turning the district’s schools around. Later, the senior Gaetz became president of the Florida Senate and was still serving while his son Matt was in the state House. “His name politically is kind of the gold standard,” said one political operative. Gaetz was elected to Congress in 2016 in Florida’s 1st District (Pensacola, etc.), a congressional seat once held by Joe Scarborough, now the significantly more moderate “Morning Joe.” But if Matt Gaetz got a boost from his father’s name and political muscle, he has since established a place in politics both in Florida and in the nation’s capital that has quickly surpassed his father’s prominence. In the last two weeks or so, Matt Gaetz has appeared on an array of national media outlets, including, at a minimum: CNN, where he had a contentious interview with Chris Cuomo, Fox News (“He’s what Fox News is all about,” says one GOPer), MSNBC, NPR, RealClearPolitics, Breibart News, Raw Story, CNSNews.com, and the Washington Examiner. Politico summed it up when it called Gaetz “a provocative and increasingly ubiquitous cable news guest.” And that’s all while Gaetz is a freshman, a species usually neither seen nor heard from until they have been seasoned at least by a couple of terms. “Even in the legislature, he managed to be in the news,” says one South Florida source. He grabbed on to some...
It’s the economy, stupid – or is it?

It’s the economy, stupid – or is it?

By Hastings Wyman – “Paycheck President” is what the Republican National Committee (RNC) dubs President Donald Trump, beneath a picture of him on its website after he’s signed the tax reform act. In addition, a number of other business and conservative groups are already spending money on television ads promoting the tax reform legislation. Moreover, the number of companies granting raises and/or bonuses which they attribute to the tax reform law is growing. Both the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee also list the companies sharing the benefits of the tax reform act with their employees. To put the icing on the cake, another RNC article is headlined, “Key states up for grabs in 2018 are reaping the benefits of Tax Reform.” This first line of attack of the GOP was summarized in the Washington Post last week: “GOP leaders and their allies plan to talk up job growth, highlight the soaring stock market and, most of all, convince voters that the tax-cut legislation that stands as their only major accomplishment is bringing back the good times.” There is some polling data that kinda, sorta shows this approach might be effective. Trump’s approval rating wobbled upwards in January, and now stands at 40% approve, 55.6% disapprove in the Real Clear Politics average. And the generic ballot on for whom voters are more likely to cast a ballot for congress this fall has narrowed in recent polls, but it’s still 46.7% for Democrats to 38.8% for the GOP, still daunting numbers for Republicans. It is also noteworthy that Trump’s performance at the Davos economic forum was a plus for...
The base stands by their president

The base stands by their president

By Hastings Wyman President Trump shocked much of the media, the diplomatic corps, African-Americans, virtually all Democrats and many other just plain folks when he allegedly referred to Haiti and some other countries as “sh*tholes.” The alleged slur took place at the White House at a meeting on immigration and was reported by Democratic US Senator Dick Durbin (IL). Politically, however, how did the incident affect President Trump’s standing with those who voted for him in 2016? Political insiders in four states that Trump carried in 2016 are all singing the same tune: The alleged comment was not nice, but it was pretty much water off a duck’s back to Trump’s political base. One noticeable response to Trump’s alleged comments that differs sharply in these Southern states that voted for Trump is no comment about whether the remark, which compared all-white Norway with all-black Haiti, was racist, and whether the president is a racist, as he has been widely described in the media by various African Americans and many liberal whites. The fact is Southern Republicans rarely count on African Americans as part of their electoral base, so when asked about the impact on Trump’s base, the racial issue doesn’t come up. That does not mean, however, that the remark has no political impact. As we have seen in Virginia and special elections throughout the South, while Trump’s base may be unaffected by the president’s – er – insensitive comments, they and the policies they represent have caused a major increase in voter turnout among minorities, women and college students, to the GOP’s detriment. Arkansas There was some hoo-hah,...