Paul Ryan elected House speaker: How the Iowans voted

Yesterday House Republicans elected 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as House speaker to replace the retiring John Boehner. Ryan received 236 votes to 184 for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and nine for Daniel Webster, the candidate endorsed by the House Freedom Caucus and some other conservatives. For some time after the implosion of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s aspirations to be speaker, Ryan had insisted he would prefer to remain Ways and Means Committee chair, but last week he succumbed to an intense recruiting effortby senior Republicans.

Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted for Ryan yesterday on the House floor. Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for Pelosi. I enclose below comments from Blum and King after the speaker election. Both had voted for Webster rather than to re-elect Boehner in January. Since Boehner announced his retirement last month, King has been one of the loudest advocates for Webster as speaker. Blum belongs to the House Freedom Caucus, so I suspect he was among the 43 Republicans who voted for Webster in a closed caucus meeting on October 28. However, neither Blum nor his staff responded to my request for comment on whether he supported Webster or Ryan, who received 200 votes in that closed meeting.

I did not see any public comment from Young in recent weeks on whom he would support for speaker. I assume he backed Ryan in closed session as well as on the House floor, but his staff did not disclose that information when I sought comment.

Webster said on October 28 that

his campaign for speaker had been a game-changer, one that had all but forced Ryan and others to promise an overhaul of the culture of the GOP Conference.

“I think we have changed the debate, changed the discussion away from a power-based system, away from a top-down approach, to one that works,” Webster said. “And if we can do that, we’ll be successful. If we don’t, we won’t be.”

King’s case for Webster slammed the "abuse of power plays by leadership" under Boehner and the "schism created by leadership’s persistent and relentless punishment of principled Members who vote their conscience." Ryan promised yesterday to unify the GOP caucus, suggesting he will not seek revenge on those who opposed him as speaker, like Boehner did earlier this year.

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Steve King still pushing Daniel Webster for House speaker, not sold on Paul Ryan

Representative Steve King (IA-04) is still urging fellow Republicans to elect Representative Daniel Webster of Florida as speaker, even as House Ways & Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has gained momentum as a consensus choice to lead the chamber. King voted for Webster in the January election for House speaker and affirmed that he favored Webster when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was favored to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner.

After repeatedly saying he was not interested in the job, Ryan announced on Tuesday he would run for speaker if certain conditions were met. King advocated for Webster in a guest piece in yesterday’s Conservative Review. I’ve posted excerpts after the jump. Although King didn’t mention Ryan by name, he alluded to him when asserting, "We cannot have a reluctant Speaker. Webster is confident and sees the Speaker’s job as an opportunity to serve with purpose and principle."

Appearing on MSNBC’s "Hardball" program yesterday, King suggested it would be a "bridge too far" to change House rules so members could not pass a motion to remove the chair, as Ryan has demanded. He predicted that condition would be a big problem for many Democrats as well as for some Republicans. King also noted that while Ryan had promised not to bring any major immigration reform bill to the House floor while President Barack Obama is still in office, he is still concerned that a bill including a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants could come up in the next Congress. King and his allies successfully pressured Boehner not to bring the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan immigration reform up for a vote in 2013 or 2014.

King leads the House Republican group called the Conservative Opportunity Society. Another right-wing faction called the House Freedom Caucus includes first-term Republican Rod Blum (IA-01). I haven’t seen any recent public comment from Blum on his preference for speaker. Like King, he voted for Webster rather than for Boehner in January. The majority of House Freedom Caucus members voted last night to support Paul Ryan for speaker. According to Drew Desilver’s close look at the House Freedom Caucus for the Pew Research Center’s "Fact Tank," its members are more conservative and have less seniority than the average House Republican.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Just when I was starting to think Mike Huckabee was smart

Blogger’s lament: let’s say you have a post in progress about a Republican carving out a promising niche in a crowded presidential field. He’s talking about highly salient issues for non-wealthy Americans, in a way that will distinguish him from most of his rivals. Not only do those policies relate to the well-being of many voters, they also allow the candidate to position himself against "elite" GOP strategists and other establishment figures hated by the party’s conservative base.

Then the guy does the stupidest thing you could imagine.

With one Facebook status update on Friday, Mike Huckabee may have wiped out any chance of broadening his appeal through the smart decision to focus his early campaign rhetoric on Social Security and trade.

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House passes first 2016 spending bills: How the Iowans voted

Catching up on Congressional news, last week the U.S. House approved a joint Republican framework setting top-line numbers for the federal budget as well as the first two spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Along the way, House members considered amendments covering a wide range of issues, from regulations on incandescent light bulbs to "prevailing wage" rules for federal construction projects to medical marijuana advice for Americans who receive their health care through the Veterans Administration.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest votes by Iowa Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

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Iowa caucus discussion thread: Romney delusions edition

It’s been a while since we had a new thread for discussing the next Iowa caucus campaign. Most of the action lately has been on the Republican side, but any comments about the presidential race are welcome in this thread. Here are some links to get the conversation started.

Mitt Romney confirmed last week that he may launch a third campaign for the presidency, even though he had previously ruled out another bid on many occasions. He leads some early polls of Republicans, but with 20 percent support or less—not impressive for someone with his level of name recognition. I can’t imagine why Republicans would ever nominate him again, or how anyone in his inner circle can believe he has a chance. Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann shed some light on that subject in “The selling of Mitt 3.0,” which you should read in full. After the jump I’ve enclosed a few excerpts from that piece and from John Dickerson’s report for Slate. Apparently some people believe that with better messaging and no incumbent president to face, Romney has a decent shot. Sounds delusional to me. Romney still has all the baggage from his last campaign. His dire predictions about the economy have proven false. Surely many of his donors and grassroots supporters will be looking for a new candidate, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush or even former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Maybe The Onion was right after all in this 2012 report: “Mitt Romney Terrified What Will Happen If He Ever Stops Running for President.”

Also on the establishment wing of the GOP, Jeb Bush has stepped down from various corporate and non-profit boards and started raising money for his new leadership PAC. Bush will have a well-funded campaign and is more electable than many of the other potential candidates, but I don’t see him as a strong contender for the Iowa caucuses. The four issues Eric Pianin identified here (Common Core, immigration, taxes, and Obamacare) will all be deal-breakers for the conservative activists who tend to show up on caucus night.  

Seeking to cash in early on anti-Jeb sentiment, some conservatives have formed a PAC and created an “EndJeb2016” website. Sounds like a fundraising and list-building scheme to me (a la Ready for Hillary), as opposed to an effort to run a real campaign against Bush in the GOP primaries.

Romney’s 2012 running mate Paul Ryan, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said this week that he will not seek the presidency in 2016. He would be a fool to try when the field is already crowded, and he can afford to wait another four or eight years.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee quit hosting his weekly show on Fox News, saying he can’t rule out another presidential bid and will make a final decision this spring. Huckabee has a huge grassroots following in Iowa, and his entry to the race would greatly complicate matters for the likes of former Senator Rick Santorum or Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Santorum is promising to run “a very, very different candidacy than the last time around,” but for quite some time, many of his Iowa supporters have been looking at fresher faces like Ted Cruz or Ben Carson. Craig Robinson described Huckabee as the “first love” of Iowa social conservatives. Jamie Johnson, who worked on Santorum’s 2012 campaign here, told David Weigel last week,

“I can tell you, I took Rick Santorum across the state three years ago,” Johnson says. “People loved Huckabee. They liked Santorum. There was never a heart connection between them and Santorum the way there’d been for Huckabee.”

Jindal was just in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids to meet privately with pastors. I can’t see him putting together a winning campaign in Iowa or anywhere else. Why should people support him when he’s not even popular in his (conservative) home state?

Ben Carson was caught plagiarizing part of his book America the Beautiful. He is working to “rectify the situation.” My guess is that few Iowa Republicans will care about this ethical lapse.

My pick to win the Iowa caucuses, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has selected a likely campaign manager and will soon launch some kind of PAC.  GOP activists here will appreciate that Walker took on public sector unions, refused to expand Medicaid, and doesn’t support comprehensive immigration reform. But they won’t react well if they learn that he put the brakes on efforts to pass a “right to work” law.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Senator Rand Paul hired a presidential campaign manager this week. I still think he will bail out of the race in time to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Kentucky law doesn’t allow him to be on the ballot for two offices in the same primary election.

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DMR Iowa caucus poll: Same old story for Democrats but a few GOP surprises

It’s been a few weeks since we had a thread on the 2016 Iowa caucuses. Today’s Des Moines Register featured results from the latest statewide poll by Selzer & Co for the Register and Bloomberg News. Selzer surveyed 425 registered voters "who say they definitely or probably will attend" the 2016 Iowa Republican caucuses, and 426 registered voters who plan to attend the Democratic caucuses.

On the Democratic side, it’s the same old story: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads the field with 53 percent of respondents naming her as a first choice. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren drew 10 percent support, Vice President Joe Biden 9 percent, Secretary of State and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry got 7 percent, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders 3 percent, and several others 1 percent or less (the last group included Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who has visited Iowa several times in the last couple of years). Hillary Clinton also registered the highest favorability rating among Democratic respondents (76 percent), shattering the myth that she has a serious “Iowa problem,” at least where the caucuses are concerned.

The Register’s headline screamed, “2016 EARLY TAKE: CLINTON, ROMNEY,” but from where I’m sitting, this poll would not entice the 2012 presidential nominee to try again. Mitt Romney was the first choice of 17 percent of Republican respondents and the second choice of 8 percent. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the man who has much higher name recognition than most of the other candidates.

The Selzer poll showed no clear favorites among potential GOP presidential candidates. Ben Carson may be the new “flavor of the month” with 11 percent picking him as a first choice, second to Romney. Perhaps Iowa Republicans are looking for a fresh face after two cycles in a row of nominating men who had run for president before. Nine candidates pulled between 3 percent and 10 percent as a first choice in the Selzer poll, suggesting that the race will be wide open next year. (I’ve posted the full list after the jump.) The findings will be discouraging to former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. Despite winning the 2012 caucuses by a handful of votes, he is now the first choice of only 3 percent of respondents, and the second choice of only 5 percent. Marco Rubio’s immigration reform misadventure may have ruined his image among Iowa Republicans, because he is way down the list in this poll.

Any comments about the next presidential race in Iowa are welcome in this thread.

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