Friday, August 29, 2014

Last Call For Uncle Jesse

Talk about your Labor Day weekend news dumps.

Mitch the Turtle's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, is resigning under a huge cloud of scandal.

Benton said he offered his resignation, effective Saturday, with a "heavy heart."

He maintained his innocence, faulting "inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors."

"This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country," Benton said.

Benton's name has surfaced in connection to a bribery scandal dating to his time as former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's political director during the 2012 presidential election.

On Wednesday, former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to accepting $73,000 from Paul's campaign in exchange for his endorsement and to obstruction of justice for lying about his involvement.

Sorenson's guilty plea included two sealed documents, which could threaten to involve Benton.

In a statement provided first to the Herald-Leader, Benton said there "is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell Majority Leader of the United States Senate."

"I believe this deep in my bones, and I would never allow anything or anyone to get in the way," Benton wrote. "That includes myself."

Ron Paul's campaign was crooked as hell, and Benton ran that show in 2012.  Now it's caught up to him and everyone is wondering just how corrupt and rotten Benton's campaign for McConnell is.  And frankly, for all the "McConnell is too shrewd a political operator to lose to a neophyte like Grimes" conventional wisdom, hiring Benton turned out to be his biggest mistake so far of a campaign filled with missteps.

Oh, and let's not forget Benton started out running Rand Paul's campaign in 2010.  You have to wonder about just how many bodies Benton knows are buried.  Odds are he put them there.

Now McConnell has to spend the rest of the campaign explaining why his campaign manager was a crook, and why he hired him in the first place.  Hell, it might be enough to sink his campaign.

We'll see.  But I feel a lot better about Alison Grimes's chances now.

Read more here:

A Keystone Of Obamacare

We've finally reached the point where a GOP governor facing re-election is in such dire straits that he's doing what was once thought impossible just six months ago:  striking a deal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Greg Sargent:

In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania. 
The federal government has approved Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s application for the state’s own version of the Medicaid expansion, without a handful of the conditions Corbett had hoped to impose, Dem sources tell me. 
Corbett just announced that he will accept the expansion that has been offered, perhaps with some last-minute changes — expanding coverage and subsidies to as many as half a million people. 
This comes after months of jockeying between Corbett and the federal government. Corbett had pushed for a version of the expansion that would have imposed various conditions designed to make it more palatable to conservatives and to achieve political distance from Obamacare — while simultaneously taking all that federal money. Among them: Using the cash to pay for private coverage for the poor.
According to a Dem familiar with the deal, the version the feds signed off on does not give Corbett some of the things he wanted. In various ways, it is not a true “Private Option,” like the one in Arkansas. Corbett previously dropped the work requirement he’d sought, and did not get a weakening of consumer protections in Medicaid or a “lockout” provision that would have nixed coverage to those who miss a premium payment, the Dem confirms.

And Corbett is dying in the polls.  He's down by one measure by as much as 25 points right now.

The latest indignity: A new Franklin & Marshall College poll shows Corbett winning the support of just 24 percent of Pennsylvania voters. That's right, an incumbent … at 24 percent. That's just not something you see — like ever. 
Now, that actually sounds a little worse than it is. F&M polling routinely has many more undecided voters than most polls (about one-quarter in this poll), which means Corbett is at just 24 percent but only trails by 25 points (only!), 49-24. That's not quite the same as being down 70-24 or something like that. 
But that's still 25 points. And as we have written, it's pretty uncommon for a sitting governor to lose reelection, much less get swamped.

Republican governors in states that went for Obama in 2012 are in real trouble across the board (the exceptions being John Kasich in Ohio and Pat McCrory in NC).  Corbett in Pennsylvania, Rick Scott in Florida, Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Snyder in Michigan, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin are all in the fights of their political lives.  Republican governors in red states are hurting too.  Nikki Haley is facing a tough race in South Carolina, and so is Nathan Deal in neighboring Georgia.  Even Sam Brownback in Kansas is in trouble.

And all of these governors, with the exceptions of Corbett (and Kasich, who's still trying to split the middle), have come out against Medicaid expansion, costing millions of voters affordable healthcare.

Now even Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee wants to expand Medicaid.

In 2014 Republicans are going to talk about repeal, but it'll never happen.  And you'll see more and more red states throw in the towel and take the money.

Where Are The Women, Karl Rove Asked

Republicans are still trying to figure out why women hate the GOP, so Karl Rove and some of his buddies paid for a pretty detailed study as to why there's a massive gender gap that favors women voting for Democrats.  The results are pretty hysterical, frankly.

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”
Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

I can't imagine why that would be, with Republicans vowing to eliminate affordable health care under the ACA, trying to shut down abortion clinics in dozens of states, refusing to raise the minimum wage and basically pretending that only married women with kids, living in the exurbs matter.

The report is blunt about the party’s problems. It says 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably, while just 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably.

It also found that Republicans “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” — as breadwinners, for example. “This lack of understanding and acknowledgment closes many minds to Republican policy solutions,” the report says. The groups urge Republicans to embrace policies that “are not easily framed as driven by a desire to aid employers or ‘the rich.’”

Two policies former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promoted as a way to make inroads with middle-class women and families — charter schools and flexible work schedules — were actually the least popular policies among female voters.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that every male Republican senator voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act every time it was brought up in the last six years, and that Republicans consider single women, especially working single women, to be immoral and dirty.  Maybe it has to do with Republicans happily embracing the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling that your boss gets to decide if they cover birth control because of religion, when the law says it gets covered.

I'm just spitballing here.

When female voters are asked who “wants to make health care more affordable,” Democrats have a 39 percent advantage, and a 40 percent advantage on who “looks out for the interests of women.” Democrats have a 39 percent advantage when it comes to who “is tolerant of other people’s lifestyles.”

Female voters who care about the top four issues — the economy, health care, education and jobs — vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Most striking, Democrats hold a 35-point advantage with female voters who care about jobs and a 26 percent advantage when asked which party is willing to compromise. House Republicans say jobs and the economy are their top priorities.

You don't say.  35, 40 point advantages for Democrats among women.  And what's the GOP response?

The groups suggest a three-pronged approach to turning around their relationship with women. First, they suggest the GOP “neutralize the Democrats’” attack that Republicans don’t support fairness for women. They suggest Republican lawmakers criticize Democrats for “growing government programs that encourage dependency rather than opportunities to get ahead.” That message tested better than explaining that the GOP supports a number of policies that could help fairness for women.

Second, the groups suggest Republicans “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues.” And third, “pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a ‘fresh look.’” The report suggests lawmakers and candidates inject “unexpected” GOP policy proposals into the debate as a way to sway female voters. Suggestions include ways to improve job-training programs, “strengthening enforcement against gender bias in the workplace” and “expanding home health care services by allowing more health care professionals to be paid by Medicare for home health services.”

Yes, because "fairness for women" apparently means "You don't want to be seen as a lazy whore on government programs, do you?"  The GOP plan is literally slut-shaming women into rejecting programs designed to help women and families.  This is their message.

And they wonder why they are overwhelmingly losing women to Democrats.

On the other hand, if Democrats don't vote in midterms and Republicans do, it doesn't matter how awful Republicans treat women, now does it?  They'll win anyway, and will never change.


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