Conservative Intelligence Briefing Coverage of Conservative Political Candidates and Campaigns. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:46:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Taxpayers, enjoy these awesome YouTube videos. They’re all you have to show for your $304 million Thu, 24 Apr 2014 18:53:52 +0000 David Freddoso Chelsea Kopta of KATU in Oregon reports over Twitter that the official recommendation has come down to shutter the state’s health insurance exchange and go on the federal exchange instead.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A technology committee on Thursday recommended Cover Oregon ditch its glitch-filled website and replace it with the federal government’s health insurance marketplace.

The decision comes nearly seven months after Oregon’s exchange was supposed to go live so that residents could use it to compare and buy health insurance plans. Cover Oregon’s website is seen as the worst of the more than a dozen state-developed exchanges; Oregon was the only state to receive a monthlong enrollment extension.

With a week left to enroll, Oregonians still can’t use Cover Oregon’s portal to sign up for coverage…Instead, the general public must use a costly, time-consuming, hybrid paper-online process to sign up for insurance.

Not all prior reports agree, but it appears the state was allocated $304 million in federal grants to build the exchange and spent about half of that on the website itself.

But hey, at least it isn’t a total loss — they produced two truly awesome, viral musical YouTube videos!

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Former Dem governor sees Dem getting ‘about 40 percent’ in #MTSen race; MSNBC thinks Montana is a Midwestern state Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:30:03 +0000 David Freddoso Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D, seemed bullish on Republicans’ chances of taking over his state’s quasi-open Senate seat in this TV interview today, although he surely wouldn’t put it that way. Schweitzer says in this clip that Walsh would probably get about 40 percent if the race were held today, but adds right after the clip below, “a lot can happen between now and the election.”

He hints in this clip (h/t America Rising) that the national Democrats’ preferred candidate, appointed Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., could also have some problems winning the party nomination in the June 3 primary, but “might pull this out” thanks to a massive financial advantage.

Oh, by the way, MSNBC: Montana is not in the Midwest, not even by the most liberal definition possible. Rule of thumb: If you see mountains, it’s not the Midwest.

CaptureIn fact, basically everything in this segment is wrong (watch the whole thing below), including its characterization of “prairie populism” as a combination of social liberalism and economic conservatism.

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#FL19: Rand Paul, lots of money, and shrewdness were enough to win Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:14:28 +0000 David Freddoso clawsonOn Tuesday, businessman Curt Clawson made the Florida-19 special GOP primary look easy, taking 38 percent of the vote, over 26 percent for the early frontrunner, state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, and 25 percent for former state Rep. Paige Kreegel.

The simple explanation is that Clawson spent $2.7 million of this own money — about the same amount as the other two top candidates and their SuperPACs (they each had their own SuperPAC) combined. But it’s also worth noting that he used the money shrewdly. It’s not easy for a political novice — even a wealthy one — to get noticed and become likeable. For that reason, this Super Bowl ad poking fun at President Obama was a stroke of genius.

Clawson was thus able to define himself very early on. Surely this expenditure, no matter how much it cost, paid big dividends and held off a host of problems. It meant that despite extensive conservative and establishment support for Benacquisto, Clawson started with an early lead and later in the campaign was able to overcome brutal criticisms of his business career.

John Gizzi at Newsmax, my former Human Events colleague whose knowledge of Republican politics is nothing short of encyclopedic, points out that Clawson was the Rand-Paul-backed candidate, and that he also had the support of some traditional conservative groups such as Eagle Forum. 

Along with fueling the candidacies elsewhere of fellow businesspeople candidates and “anti-politicians,” Clawson’s primary win in the district vacated by GOP Rep. Trey Radel — who resigned after pleading guilty to cocaine possession — is also a boost for a likely presidential bid by Rand Paul in 2016.

The Kentucky senator came out strongly and early for Clawson, while two other national party figures — Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin — weighed in for his leading opponent, Benacquisto.

Endorsements are always of limited value, but it’s worth reminding conservatives that Sarah Palin’s endorsement is also of limited value in a GOP primary, even a competitive one, all other things being equal. She’s turned the tide in a few cases, such as Alaska in 2010 and Nebraska in 2012, but conservative primary voters do their own homework.

Also worthy of note: Either the Susan B. Anthony List’s extensive get-out-the-vote effort was ineffective (understandable especially in a primary where all the candidates are pro-life), or they saved Benacquisto from a third-place finish.

Clawson is all but guaranteed to win in the special general election, which takes place June 24. The filing deadline for the August 26 primary (the regular election) is May 2. So far, the only Republican candidates from this week’s race to file for that race are Clawson and the fourth-place finisher, Michael Dreikorn. 

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#COSen and Senate picture: Two polls in a row show Udall in mortal peril Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:17:59 +0000 David Freddoso UdallYesterday, Politico Pro (sub req) reported on a Chamber of Commerce poll that showed Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., leading Sen. Mark Udall, D, by two points. You have to take that with a grain of salt, perhaps, but you probably don’t need that for today’s Quinnipiac poll, which shows Udall up by only one point at this early stage.

Bear in mind while looking at these numbers that 50 percent haven’t yet formed an opinion of Gardner — so there’s a lot of upside there.

Sen. Udall gets 45 percent to 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger…

In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 16 percent of voters list the economy or jobs as the most important issue in deciding their U.S. Senate vote, and 14 percent list healthcare. No other issue comes close.

Voters who list the economy back Gardner over Udall 53 – 40 percent and voters who cite health care back the Republican 57 – 36 percent.

Colorado voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 59 – 37 percent, including 62 – 34 percent among independent voters.

So, in case it wasn’t already, just FYI, this is a real race.

So where do we stand now with our Senate map?


Republicans still have those seats to defend in Georgia and Kentucky, but set those aside for a moment. I’d say there are now three likely Republican pickups (Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia), five promising ones (Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina), two entirely possible ones (Iowa, Michigan) and then two fanciful but not impossible ones (New Hampshire, Virginia).

That’s 12 for those counting at home. If Oregon or Minnesota suddenly gets interesting…. Well, and why shouldn’t they? The Democrats have failed to keep anything off the map so far, what would they need for that to happen? They’re playing defense everywhere. Their donors — both hard and soft money — will be stretched to their absolute limit just to limit their losses.

And the more important map to look at is this one — the one Republicans will have to defend in 2016 if they win a majority and aspire to accomplish anything after Obama is out of office:


You have to expect some trouble on a map like this one, even under the best circumstances. Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul seem to be doing okay. Mark Kirk’s seat in Illinois will not be easy to defend, though, nor will Ron Johnson’s in Wisconsin, nor Kelly Ayotte’s in New Hampshire. Nor perhaps Jeff Flake, who — if it proves to be the partisan electoral boon that Democrats are (maybe prematurely) crowing about — is the first potential victim of demographic change in the United States.

For the Senate GOP, the best defense for 2016 is a good offense in 2014.

One other note on the Quinnipiac poll: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leads Hillary Clinton 48 to 43 in Colorado. The other Republicans tested — Jeb, Christie and Mike Huckabee — are all at least competitive. 

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#LASen: New AFP ad slams Landrieu over Obamacare Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:07:00 +0000 David Freddoso This ad features an Iraq War veteran who lost his insurance because of Obamacare and had to pay more as a result:

h/t Chris Stirewalt.

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#ORSen: The most pro-life ad a pro-choice candidate can cut Wed, 23 Apr 2014 21:42:25 +0000 David Freddoso Oregon Right to Life has endorsed Jason Conger for the GOP Senate nomination against the preferred establishment candidate, Dr. Monica Wehby. Wehby has stated that she believes abortion “should be a personal choice.”

But then here’s Wehby’s new ad, which is getting rave reviews. It’s a great ad in its own right, but you have to think it was cut with the thought of minimizing that issue’s impact to whatever extent she can.

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#NESen: Cruz endorses Sasse Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:52:11 +0000 David Freddoso Ted-Cruz-wins_BTTed Cruz endorsed Midland University president Ben Sasse today in Nebraska’s open-seat GOP primary.

The Sasse campaign issued this statement from Cruz: 

“I have gotten to know Ben Sasse, and while Nebraskans have good choices, Ben is the strongest conservative voice running for United States Senate. Ben will not be just another vote in the Senate – he will be a leader in the fight to stop the Obama agenda and repeal ObamaCare from day one. We need strong reinforcements like him in the United States Senate.”

Sasse’s campaign announced that Cruz will be joining the candidate, Mike Lee, and Sarah Palin at a rally in North Platte on Friday. This endorsement, coming after those others, could provide a boost in the final three weeks of the campaign — election day is May 13.

The crowded primary has not been polled in some time — our poll from February showed Sasse having moved from an asterisk last spring to nipping at the heels of the early frontrunner, former State Treasurer Shane Osborn. 

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Republicans are finally starting to do better with Republicans Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:33:57 +0000 David Freddoso Hillary Clinton’s numbers are at their lowest point in six years, according to a new FOX News poll that was released last week. This is interesting, but politicians’ numbers rise and fall, and it’s a long way to 2016.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake observed, and I agree, that the Republican Party’s apparent revival is the more interesting result in this poll — not just the fact that it’s happening, but how it’s happening:

It shows Americans are now evenly split — 45 percent to 45 percent — on the GOP. As recently as October, the same poll showed just 30 percent of Americans viewed the GOP favorably, compared to 63 percent unfavorable…

The reason for the GOP’s improved numbers has a lot to do with its own supporters coming home. While just 62 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of their own party in October, 84 percent now say they like their party.

Independents have improved their view of the GOP, with 30 percent viewing it favorably — up from 14 percent in October.

This hews to a principle I pointed out last year. Republicans tend to have lower ratings as a party than Democrats precisely because Republicans are more critical of their own party. And the more conservative they are, the more critical they tend to be, even if they intend to vote Republican in the end. Otherwise, based on the poll numbers Republicans typically post as a party, you would have expected the entire GOP to collapse long ago.

This political asymmetry has been demonstrated in national polls again and again, and it’s been especially pronounced ever since the October government shutdown. Here’s my post on the matter, complete with an excellent fingerpaint drawing from yours truly. The damage inflicted by the shutdown was universal, and among Republicans double-edged. After a few months of Obama taking hits over his signature health care law, disgust with the GOP seems to be receding as well.

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#VA10: A very low-turnout affair in one of America’s most politically savvy districts Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:28:19 +0000 David Freddoso CaptureVa. Delegate Barbara Comstock is favored to win this Saturday’s firehouse primary for the GOP nomination to replace Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va, but it’s going to be close. The low-turnout nature of the affair and a high number of undecided voters could result in a surprise.

This unique Saturday election, for which there are only ten polling places in the entire Congressional District, will be a very low-turnout affair that will be decided by just a few thousand voters. Comstock’s overwhelming five-to-one fundraising lead over her nearest GOP opponent means little in this context — the six-way race could prove very close — the winner might get as few as 2,500 votes out of 750,000 or so eligible voters.

Candidates will be working desperately to get their family and friends to the polls, using whatever shoestring methods are available. Television advertising is practically useless in this sort of race, just given the small crowd to which one must appeal. Candidates are personally calling likely voters to persuade them — something that simply could be done in a normal congressional primary.

Here’s a little low-budget video put out by Rob Wasinger, one of the other candidates who served as chief of staff to Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich.:

Wasinger is just one of several candidates challenging Comstock from the Right. Out of these, Del. Bob Marshall is the best known, but has lagged in fundraising; former HUD advisor and Americans for Prosperity COO Stephen Hollingshead has raised more money than anyone except Comstock; Wasinger has the largest number of small donors, which could be an unusually important number in this race.

The winner will likely take on Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, D, in a suburban D.C. district that was very fond of Wolf but has only the slightest Republican lean.

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#ID02: New ad: I’m a conservative who fights insurance companies Tue, 22 Apr 2014 22:00:48 +0000 David Freddoso Bryan Smith, the Club for Growth-backed challenger to Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, has an interesting spin with this new ad. There’s nothing inconsistent about a conservative railing against insurance companies, but this demonstrates how a Republican trial lawyer can market himself as the scourge of both Obamacare and the insurance companies.

Will this be effective in a GOP primary? That’s another question entirely. Idaho Republicans have been sending Mike Crapo, a trial lawyer, to the Senate for some time, so it’s probably not too much of a turnoff.

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