National pundits are right. It is a two-man contest.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are in Mississippi on Monday as they have been previously. John Kasich was in Jackson last week. Marco Rubio was scheduled to be in Rankin County on Sunday but that visit was cancelled so Rubio could go home to focus on Florida. It won’t do Rubio any good. The smaller number of states voting this past Saturday perhaps had more influence on the race for the Republican nomination than the results of Super Tuesday on March 1. In The Daily 202 political report on Sunday morning, writer James Hohmann had the following headline: “Super Saturday results show Rubio collapsing, Trump stoppable and Cruz gaining momentum.” Hohmann writes, “The biggest story line out of last night, though, is calamity for Marco Rubio. It was his worst showing since the New Hampshire primary – and arguably more damaging. The floor appears to be falling out from underneath the Florida senator: Not only is his win-loss record now 1-18, but he took just 17 percent in Kansas despite canceling events elsewhere to campaign in the state and receiving endorsements from Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts and Bob Dole. He got 16 percent in Kentucky, 11 percent in Louisiana (with ex-Gov. Bobby Jindal’s support) and just 8 percent in Maine—where he finished fourth behind John Kasich.” I agree. Sunday morning I also heard one commentator say that he liked Rubio and named a number of very number of positive things about Rubio as a candidate. He then added that for some reason Republican voters just don’t like Rubio. That is also very true. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is another matter. Despite a very impressive list of endorsements from prominent and respected Mississippi Republicans, led by well-liked Congressman Gregg Harper, Kasich is not going anywhere. Why can’t Kasich do the classy thing and end his campaign like Jeb Bush did when he finished fourth in South Carolina? As someone commented Sunday to me, Kasich is “delusional.” Like most politicians Kasich has a big ego, but from my almost two decades in Washington, D.C., during the time when Kasich was a member of the U.S. House, I have always viewed Kasich as someone who not only thinks he is smarter than anyone else, he also thinks everyone else except him is stupid. Trump should thank Kasich every day for staying in the race. Kasich should have called it quits like 13 others who were in the original GOP field. Like Rubio in Florida, Kasich is
Prominent Mississippi Republicans support Bush and Kasich, but they are stuck in reverse
There’s a lot of anger in America. Especially among Republicans, there is a lot of anger. A lot of this anger explains why Donald Trump is leading in polls among candidates for the Republican nomination for president. In turn, Democrats should not feel any anger. The Republican circus should make Democrats feel joyful about their prospects in 2016, even with a polarizing candidate such as Hillary Clinton. In Mississippi, most prominent Republican leaders have signed on to support either Jeb Bush or John Kasich. Sen. Thad Cochran headlines the Bush supporters and Congressman Gregg Harper and former senator Trent Lott, although now a resident of Florida, headline the leaders supporting Kasich. The problem for Bush and Kasich is nationally, both are stuck in reverse. Republican majorities in the House and Senate will be wasted if the GOP can’t take back the White House. They won’t take the White House if Trump is the nominee. The opportunity for a win must not be wasted when the 2016 Republican nominee won’t be facing an incumbent and the probable Democrat nominee, Clinton, has a lot of baggage of her own. There is an even more important reason Republicans need to win the presidency – future vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. I think this is just as important as not having a Democrat in the White House who can veto Republican legislation. If Trump is the nominee, the GOP can prepare to lose next November. In a way, the Trump candidacy, without the racism, reminds me of when Alabama Gov. George Wallace ran for president three times and made an especially strong race for the Democrat nomination in 1972 before being shot. Wallace also took advantage of voter anger and frustrations. Some are suggesting if Trump fades, the nomination could be a battle between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio. Cruz is a tea party darling and his poll numbers are moving higher. Cruz battles his Republican colleagues in the Senate almost as much as he takes on Democrats. As a senator he has favored disastrous government shutdowns versus responsible governing. Cruz would not only lose against Clinton, his nomination would also bring GOP losses in both the House and Senate. On the other hand, Rubio would have a good chance to win the presidency. A lot can and probably will happen between now and the Republican National Convention. Let’s hope Republicans don’t take the route of a death wish and blow a great opportunity to take back the White House.
Disease spreads to the University of Maryland
Byrd Stadium is the name the 50,000 seat football facility at the University of Maryland. Last Friday, the school’s board of Regents, following the recommendation of Maryland President Wallace Lob, voted to change the name of the stadium. Harry “Curley” Byrd was president of the University of Maryland from 1936 to 1954, a pretty long tenure for most
There are 246 Republican members of the U.S. House. Approximately 40 of them are members of the Freedom Caucus. That’s less than 17 percent of the GOP membership of the House. It should be called the “Nut Job Caucus”. The caucus would rather be pure than govern. The Freedom Caucus will not list its members but there are a number of internet sites that list the suspected members of the group. In reality, the Freedom Caucus should be known at the Tea Party Caucus. The Wall Street Journal reported that when the Freedom Caucus got involved in the leadership fight to oust Speaker John Boehner and oppose Kevin McCarthy to take his place, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin resigned from the group. Rep. Tom McClintock of California also left the caucus of tea party members because as Ribble said, there is “no room for dissent” in the Freedom Caucus. WSJ said that the Freedom Caucus “demands absolute fealty from members.” Ribble said if 80 percent of the caucus members agree about a course of action, all members are required to vote that way. Too bad members of the Freedom Caucus do not have the same rule when they participate in the larger Republican caucus for the entire House. It’s their way of saying that their group of 40 members are more important than the 246 Republicans of the entire House. The Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party, RedState, and Heritage Foundation all talk about Republican “moderates” in the House. From their rhetoric you would think that the old Rockefeller wing of the GOP is still in power. Give lots of credit to Mississippi Congressman Gregg Harper. Harper told a Gannett reporter of his irritation with the Freedom Caucus. Harper said, “I am also proud to live in Mississippi where our people have common sense and are not misled by outside groups whose purpose is to raise money.” Harper could have added that Republican in the Freedom Caucus spend more time attacking Republicans rather than Democrats.
Congressman Palazzo, you must be kidding?
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi has endorsed Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee for Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner. In a radio interview, on Twitter and in an Associated Press story, Palazzo said he would support Blackburn if she decides to run.
Some Republicans are GOP’s worst enemies; Trent Lott nails the loose cannons of the far right
Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott told a Wall Street Journal writer, “I was conservative before a lot of these cats were even born, so I’m not going to be lectured by them on what’s conservative” Amen. Republican Rep. Peter King also got it right. In a tweet, King said, “The resignation of John Boehner is a victory for the crazies.”
Kimberly Strassel, a conservative and excellent regular columnist for The WSJ made these comments in an article entitled “A Chance to End Republican Dysfunction”: Boehner’s view was “Republicans have better things to do than engage in repeated political showdowns that have no chance of success.” She writes that the anti-Boehner Republicans in the House will have to decide if they want progress “or if they are in it for the talk-radio hosannas.” Another conservative WSJ columnist, William A. Galston, asked, “Do they want to be a party of protest or a party of governance?” I have not always been a fan of Karl Rove, but I recommend that you read a recent column by Rove in The Wall Street Journal. In a column entitled, “Boehner’s Conservative Legacy”, Rove called Boehner a decent and honorable man who “achieved far more than his GOP critics with their shutdown strategy.” He lists numerous conservative accomplishments that took place while Boehner served as Speaker of the House. Rove also notes that the House Freedom Caucus, the group of tea party and other crazies, represent 15 percent of House Republicans but they also represent 36 percent of Republicans in the House that contributed zero to their party’s campaign committee to make sure the GOP keeps its majority in the House.
The earth is flat Republicans
Even after Boehner announced he is resigning at the end of October, it has not slowed down the Tea Party and right-wing extremist organizations like RedState. The crazies are now taking increased aim at Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In an effort to raise money, one such group said McDonnell is even afraid of former Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. RedState is not even satisfied that Boehner will leave at the end of October. The organization wants the House to proceed with a motion to “vacate the chair” so that Boehner would immediately be removed as speaker. Of course, all these groups have one thing in common. They made fund raising appeals to remove
Harper makes sound statement; comments by Palazzo are weak
Following the vote that re-elected John Boehner as Speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo issued a statement saying that many people asked him to vote against Boehner. Palazzo then proceeded to say that before the vote he met with Boehner one-on-one for more than an hour. With the full plate that Boehner has as Speaker, please forgive me if I can’t quite believe that Boehner took the time to meet “one-on-one” with Palazzo for “more than an hour.”
From that point on, Palazzo’s statement only got more pathetic. You would have thought that Palazzo threatened the Speaker and Boehner promptly quivered and caved in to Palazzo’s demands. Palazzo claimed that he extracted a pledge from Boehner that the Speaker would “stand up to the liberal agenda of President Obama.” Wow, consider that. Without Palazzo’s demands Boehner would have probably become the leading supporter of Obama in the U.S. House.
The U.S. House had two important votes on Wednesday of last week. THOMAS (Congress.gov) is the official website for legislative information and is maintained by the Library of Congress. On the site you can not only get detailed information on the U.S. Senate and House and their members, but you can find all roll call votes of every member of Congress.
The first vote Wednesday was on an amendment to a bill that would fund the government until Dec. 11 or after the November elections. As most people know this is commonly called a continuing resolution (CR), which allows the government to operate after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 when all the necessary appropriation bills have not passed the House and Senate. Funding during the term of the continuing resolution will be at current levels for this fiscal year.
Like most Mississippians I had hoped that the nasty, mean-spirited Cochran versus McDaniel campaign would be over on the night of the first primary on June 3. Of course it wasn’t. It extended for another three weeks until the June 24 runoff. That wasn’t the end, either, as the charges and counter charges, mostly by Chris McDaniel and his supporters, have continued on an almost daily basis.
Several times during the current campaign I thought about 1982 when Sen. John Stennis, 81 years old at the time, was challenged by upstart Republican Haley Barbour. Barbour was considered a serious political challenger to Stennis, although it would be more than 20 years later in 2003 when Barbour would win the first of his two terms as governor. Stennis, despite his age, which Barbour made an issue in 1982, trounced his Republican opponent, 64-to-36 percent.
Poor campaign decision from the start
For his campaign leadership, Sen. Cochran had Kirk Sims and Josh Gregory fostered on him by Sen. Roger Wicker and Gov. Bryant. Sims was Bryant’s chief of staff before he was named campaign manager. No small factor is that Sims is Wicker’s son-in-law. Gregory has always been the man behind the throne for Bryant, and Gregory is already looking for his next horse to ride into the Governor’s Mansion after Bryant presumably is re-elected and serves his second term.
While the Cochran campaign had other able campaign professionals, by any measure, the management of the campaign was a disaster.