Sunday, February 12, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: 2017 Weekend News Update 2

With Eliott Abrams clearly out of the running for deputy
secretary of state, attention now shifts to former UN ambassador
(under George W. Bush) John Bolton. Many conservatives wanted
Bolton himself to be the secretary, and would welcome him
warmly to the deputy post.


Democrats are now in the position of the post-2012 Republicans,
that is, a party without a generally acknowledged leader. Bernie
Sanders appears still to be the spokesperson for the left wing of
the party, along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren,
and through the election of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison,
they are attempting to take over the national opposition party. But
Hillary Clinton has not entirely disappeared, nor have Barack
Obama and Joe Biden, and this liberal wing also is competing for
party leadership.  A centrist wing, led by West Virginia Senator Joe
Manchin and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is beginning
to emerge, but is clearly still in the heavy minority of party policy
conversations. Reince Priebus, the GOP chair after the 2012 defeat,
demonstrated the value of having a skillful consensus party leader
as he engineered the conservative party through the 2016 primary
and caucus season to what became an upset victory.


Republicans have a distinct advantage (on paper) in the 2018
midterm U.S. senate races --- with only 8 incumbent GOP seats
at stake versus 25 Democratic seats --- but the reverse is true in
the 2018 races for governor. In the contests for state chief
executives there are only 8 incumbent Democratic states up
while there are 24 incumbent Republican states at risk. Unlike
senate seats, however, several states have term limits for their
governors. In 2018, only two Democratic governors are
term-limited while 11 Republican governors must retire.
It’s still early, but there are at least 7 GOP states (6 open and
1 incumbent running) which appear vulnerable; and 6
Democratic states (3 open and 3 incumbents running) which
could change sides. This would seem to suggest that liberals
are not likely to pick up many state capitals in 2018, but several
GOP open seats and incumbents, now considered safe, might
have their elections imperiled if the Trump administration goes
into the mid-term elections without much success under their
belts. Two governorships are up in the current (2017) off-year, and
one of them, in Virginia, could be very interesting. The current
Democratic governor is term-limited, and the man who almost
upset Mark Warner in the 2014 senate election, Ed Gillespie, seems
likely to be the GOP nominee in 2018. Virginia has trended “blue”
recently, but Donald Trump did much better than expected here in
2016, and with conservative executive branch employees now
flooding into this neighbor-to-DC state, it could become a “red”
or "purple" state once again.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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