Although summer is typically a quiet time for politics, the Bay Area Democrats team has been working on several projects to get ready for the upcoming election cycle. Much of the focus will be on President Obama’s reelection efforts, but there are also some extremely competitive races in both the Senate and House of Representatives that will need your help. Without your support it is very possible that Republicans may win these tight races, retain control of the House, and ultimately take back the Senate.
Stay tuned, because we have many exciting opportunities coming up to engage with our nation’s leaders and join the dialogue on local and national political issues.
If you have any questions as to how you can get involved, please give us a call at (415) 692-3556. Also, please be sure to visit us on Facebook. Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to seeing you at an event very soon.
Executive Director, Bay Area Democrats
381 Bush St., Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104
SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-DE) IN SAN FRANCISCO:
On August 15, BAD members will have the opportunity to meet with Senator Chris Coons of Delaware for lunch in San Francisco. Senator Coons was elected in November 2010 and currently serves on the Foreign Relations, Judiciary, and Energy & Budget Committees. During his time in office Coons has built a reputation as a social progressive and fiscal moderate, and has prioritized job creation, energy reform, and equal rights for the LGBT community. His work in the Senate includes introducing the Job Creation Through Innovation Act, which is designed to jump-start domestic manufacturing and create economic conditions to help businesses grow. Senator Coons also co-sponsored the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
ISSUE SPOTLIGHT – THE DEBT CEILING
President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) appear unable to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling; which is a cap set by Congress limiting the amount of money the United States may borrow. Congress has frequently voted to raise the debt ceiling, including seven different times during the George W. Bush presidency. However, Tea Party Republicans have created this current legislative crisis by making the debt ceiling their line in the sand. President Obama originally wanted to raise the debt ceiling without any other provisions much like the Republicans have done in the past, but faced opposition from Republicans as they requested massive spending cuts in return.
In a continual effort to work with Congress, The President and Vice President compromised on 4 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. When Vice President Biden began to negotiate with the Republican leadership on ending tax subsidies and corporate welfare for oil companies both Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) stormed out of the negotiations, erasing any chance that a deal would result from the talks.
President Obama has since attempted to restart the talks with Speaker Boehner (R-OH) amidst a sea of saber rattling by Republicans pledging to subvert any debt ceiling deal that ends corporate handouts. Many economists predict that failing to raise the debt ceiling before August 2, would be catastrophic.
Earlier this week Speaker Boehner passed a Tea Party supported Constitutional Amendment requiring the Federal Government to balance the budget and cap spending at 18% of Gross Domestic Product to a vote. Many in Washington suspect that this vote is a move by the Speaker to appease the Tea Party base of the Republican party.
Meanwhile the Senate is weighing several options. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is quietly negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on a deal that would give President Obama the authority to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. Senator McConnell’s plan, by his own admission, is an attempt to avoid the economic disaster of a default while at the same time being able to pin unpopular spending on the President. There is also the ‘Gang of Six’ attempting to negotiate a deal that is considered painful yet fair to both parties.
President Obama continues to lead the charge for a balanced, long term approach of 3 trillion dollars in spending cuts and ending 1 trillion dollars of corporate tax subsidies; a plan backed by most economists and most Americans. Both sides still seem to be far apart on a deal. Just this afternoon Speaker Boehner called the President informing him that despite the President’s continued willingness to compromise, the Speaker is abandoning all negotiations for a long term deal. As we get closer to the August 2 deadline, however, and investors begin to panic and more Americans grow frustrated with Republican stubbornness, Congress may be forced to accept a deal they do not like.
OFF THE SIDELINES
Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) launched a campaign called Off The Sidelines in an effort to mobilize and recruit female candidates in politics. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to increase the engagement of women in politics at both the local and national level, and change the political discourse by promoting female voices. In a short amount of time Sen. Gillibrand’s efforts have already attracted the attention of many in the media, including a recent article in the New York Times. Drawing inspiration for the project from the lessons she learned from her grandmother, Gillibrand commented that, “When women’s voices are heard the outcomes are better. That is what my grandmother taught me.”
In addition, Off The Sidelines has attracted the attention and support of other prominent female politicians, such as DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who has declared the campaign an important step in female political engagement. For more information on how you can support Off The Sidelines please visit their website.
SENATE SPOTLIGHT – JOHN TESTER
Senator John Tester of Montana faces a tough reelection fight in 2012. Senator Tester rode the Democratic wave of 2006 into office, winning by a razor thin margin of 3,562 votes. Senator Tester has received criticism in Montana for his support of President Obama, most notably his vote in favor of The Affordable Care Act.
The Montana Senate race has shaped up very early in the cycle. Challenging Senator Tester will be Tea Party favorite Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), who is the only U.S. Congressman from Montana and has won statewide election six times. Neither Candidate has a primary challenger and early polls show both candidates are statistically tied. Public Policy Poling has Rep. Rehberg leading Senator Tester 47% – 45% with 8% undecided. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in the state by a margin of 39% – 31%, putting Senator Tester at a disadvantage. However, Senator Tester is winning independents in Montana 51% to 36%, and 51% of Montana voters approve of Senator Tester with only 39% disapproving.
Representative Rehberg is a member of the House Tea Party Caucus, and he announced his run for the Senate standing next to Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Bachmann and the Tea Party brand of extremism are not well received by voters in Montana who tend to be far more moderate. Senator Tester and President Obama, however, are not very popular in Montana either and Rep. Rehberg is hoping to gain a serious advantage by tying Senator Tester to President Obama as often as he can while hiding so his extremist Tea Party positions.
Every political expert has this race rated as a toss-up, and are expecting Montana, along with Missouri and Virginia, to be the three states that determine the control of the Senate.