Friday, July 1, 2016

Rubio In The Gray Zone

The Republican party wants to somehow avoid wresting defeat from the jaws of victory in Florida's Senate race, but now that Marco "Private Citizen" Rubio is back in the contest, the focus is now on which Democrat he will face: resume-challenged Patrick Murphy or ethics-challenged Alan Grayson.

In one dramatic day this month, the entire race — one of roughly a half-dozen on which control of the Senate rests — was turned on its head. First, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio dropped his retirement plans and announced plans to run for reelection. Within hours, the CBS affiliate in Miami aired a bombshell investigative story accusing the Democratic establishment's chosen candidate, 33-year-old Rep. Patrick Murphy, of rampant résumé inflation.

Now, Republicans smell blood in the water, and they're looking to damage Murphy so badly that Democrats are forced to spend heavily on his behalf ahead of the state's Aug. 30 primary — or abandon the race altogether. The GOP is adopting a strategy that's been used against it repeatedly in recent election cycles: Propping up a politically toxic, outside-the-mainstream candidate in the other party's primary, in this case firebrand liberal Rep. Alan Grayson
"I think anybody would rather run against Grayson” in the general election, said Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, a vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The reversal of fortunes in Florida could hardly have come at a better time for Republicans, after weeks of negative headlines about their presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, and increasing concerns about a down-ballot disaster for the party. If Republicans can put the Sunshine State race out of reach, it would substantially boost their hopes of retaining the Senate. The party is clinging to a four-seat advantage, but faces an electoral map tilted decidedly in Democrats' favor. 
Florida was seen as a better-than-even Democratic pickup before Rubio changed his mind, given Trump’s lousy poll numbers in the diverse state and a slate of underfunded and little-known Republican candidates. Now, Republicans have not only a top-tier incumbent, but a major TV takedown of the leading Democrat: The CBS story, which Murphy's campaign has aggressively sought to refute, questioned his stated credentials as a CPA and other business experience. Republicans promptly launched an ad off it, backed by $45,000. It's running on cable in the D.C. area, to sow doubt among donors and operatives about whether Murphy is worth their investment.

The Murphy story is bad.  The comically stupid Rubio flip-flop mess is definitely worse, and given Trump's disastrous albatross status, it should be enough to offset Rubio's incumbency and make it an even race, which the polls show.

But Alan Grayson's ethics problems are lethal, and Republicans are hoping to pick their opponent, one so bad even Rubio can win.  The optimal answer is for Grayson to drop out, but we all know that's not going to happen.

Hillary Clinton can relate, you know?

The Lynch Pin Of The Investigation

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch is already under fire for meeting with Bill Clinton this week, with Republicans demanding her immediate resignation for the crime of "Talking To The Big Dog".

An airport encounter this week between Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton has welled into a political storm, with Republicans asserting that it compromised the Justice Department’s politically sensitive investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state.

The Obama administration declined to say on Thursday whether the meeting between Ms. Lynch and Mr. Clinton, in Phoenix on Monday night, was appropriate. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, said that the investigation of Mrs. Clinton would be free of political influence and that he would leave it to the attorney general to explain the meeting.

Ms. Lynch said the meeting with Mr. Clinton was unplanned, largely social and did not touch on the email investigation. She suggested that he walked uninvited from his plane to her government plane, which were both parked on a tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

“He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that,” Ms. Lynch said at a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday, where she was promoting community policing. “That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.”

It's rather insulting that Republicans automatically assume everyone in the Justice Department is as incompetent as, say, Alberto Gonzales or as nasty as John Ashcroft.  Regardless, Lynch says the decision on any action on the Clinton e-mail nonsense will be up to the FBI, not her, as she will follow their recommendations.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch plans to announce on Friday that she will accept whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I.director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, a Justice Department official said. Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.

This is the correct choice to make, as Lynch is all but recusing herself from the decision-making process here and giving it instead to James Comey's FBI.

Of course, if it were up to Republicans, every Democrat in America would have to resign for something, so let's not actually take anything they have to say seriously on things.


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