Archive for the ‘election’ Category

A Principled Pragmatist


By John Feehery


What plays in Texas doesn’t necessarily play in New Jersey. And what plays in New Jersey doesn’t necessarily play in Texas.

Right now, if the Republican Party were to face a choice between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the 2016 primaries, you would see how the party could split down the middle.

The challenge for the party and for both Perry and Christie is to chart a path that avoids that split and strengthens the party in time to take on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (more…)

Topic: election

Ted Cruz and Jason Johnson Need to Look in the Mirror


By John Feehery

Jason Johnson and Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz with Adviser Jason Johnson (Photo by: Bob Daemmrich)


I have never heard anything more pathetic in my life.

Jason Johnson, the brains behind the Ted Cruz operation, inked a column in Red State, blaming the Republican Establishment for Ken Cuccinelli’s loss in Virginia. (more…)

Topic: election

11 Lessons Learned from Yesterday’s Elections


By John Feehery

We learned some valuable lessons about the country in yesterday’s elections.  Here they are:

1. Obamacare is a political loser.  Ken Cuccinelli almost won yesterday based solely on the failed roll-out of the controversial law.



Topic: election

Gender Gaps Abound


By John Feehery


I was thinking about the gender gap yesterday as I went on television yesterday to talk about a House bill to ban abortion after 22 weeks.

I am pro-life in my politics and have been for quite a while.  That being said, this is probably not the time for Republicans to bring up a bill to ban abortion, not with the Senate being controlled by the Democrats, not with the President being Barack Obama.   The bill is going nowhere, so what’s the point?

And not after a conservative Republican congressman made yet another comment about rape and abortion.

As I said on MSNBC, the Republicans should have a simple message when it comes to rape:  They are against it.

Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter couldn’t resist temptation and basically called the GOP a pro-rape party the other day.  This might have caused a stir in the media, except for the fact that it really is not that far from what the Democrats were accusing Mitt Romney of in the last election.  What’s the difference between a mythical “war on women” and being the “pro-rape” party?  Not much, if you think about it.

There has been and continues to be a political gender gap, not to be confused with the wage gender gap.

Politically-speaking, women vote for Democrats by about 10 to 20 points more than they do for Republicans.   Black women vote almost unanimously for Democrats.  Single women vote heavy for the Democrats.  Married white women skew towards the Republicans.  Single mothers vote for the Democrats.

It is not easy to suddenly make inroads with the female gender gap for the GOP, because on the plus side, they have a huge male gender gap voting for them.  While black men vote mostly for the Democrats, most white men for the Republicans.

And the fact is, if the Republicans try to shift their messaging to somehow appeal to African American or single women, they will probably get primaried for being Republicans In Name Only.

When I worked for Speaker Hastert, we came up with a pretty simple theme based on security.  We wanted to secure the future, by improving education, by making retirement more secure, by improving national security, and by putting an emphasis on economic growth.

The Bush campaign echoed some of our themes and focused on education and Medicare reform on the domestic front, tax cuts to spark the economy (with an emphasis on pro-family tax breaks) and by bolstering national defense (which in the days before 9/11/01 seemed kind of like a waste of space).

The political gender gap never really went away, but by 2004, Bush did pretty well with the so-called “security” moms.  But as the war continued on, much of that pro-women bounce faded.

In 2008, the John McCain maverick theme seemed antiquated, and a last-minute desperation move to appeal to female voters by putting Sarah Palin on the ticket backfired.

Palin has a particular female constituency.  They are pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-public schools, pro-home schools, big-time Christian, avid Fox watching, lipstick wearing hockey moms from rural America, and most likely from the middle of the middle class.   Among that group, she is a rock star.  Unfortunately, among just about every other group of female voters (according to the polls) she is a disaster.

That’s a hard place to build up a majority.

By 2012, the Democrats were not taking anything for granted, and the President pounded away at social issues, because they knew he had been a disaster from an economic standpoint.    I was dumbfounded as the Obama campaign blasted Mitt Romney (who probably had the most moderate record on abortion of any Republican candidate in 20 years), for being an existential threat to abortion rights.

Republicans have not made it any easier on themselves by continually referring to rape at inopportune moments, and those comments have been replayed endlessly on MSNBC.

Nor does it make it any easier to keep the focus on non-social issues when State Legislatures across the country pass more and more legislation focused on abortion.   In this ever-connected world we live in, every little thing that happens around the country makes its way on cable, especially when it can be manipulated to embarrass the GOP.

In the meantime, things are happening in the country that are conspiring against the Republicans demographically.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau “single motherhood is on the rise: It found that of 4.1 million women who’d given birth in 2011, 36 per cent were unmarried at the time of the survey, an increase from 31 per cent in 2005. And among mothers aged 20 to 24, the percentage was 62 per cent, or six in 10 mothers.”

Here’s another tidbit:  a report came out last week that showed for the first time in American history, more white people died last year in America than were born.  For a party that has been built to be attractive to white married women, the fact that they are fewer women getting married (of any race), and demographically, fewer white people every year hopefully troubles GOP leaders.   A question remains if it concerns the rank and file of the Grand Old Party at all.  If not, it should.

The President made a big deal about the ongoing wage gap between men and women in the private market place.  Men theoretically get paid more than women for the ostensibly the same work, although my guess is that more goes into this calculus than simple bigotry.   And I bet you that with the changing demographics in educational attainment, this gender gap will be largely erased in 10 years.

And in my experience, women don’t necessarily want to make more money than men.  They want to be fairly compensated and they want more flexibility to do what they want to do.   Having the government mandate flexibility seems to be ridiculous to me, but there are ways to look at current laws, and mandate that the laws accept the reality we all currently live in.

Eric Cantor has tried to move legislation to give females (and males) more flexibility on the job, free from the constraints of rigid Labor Department mandates.  I think that makes sense, and I think it can be an effective way to deal with the ongoing political gender gap.

Republicans have to be more sophisticated in how it modifies its message so that it can attract more females.  Talking about rape and abortion in the same sentence is not a more sophisticated messaging model.

Topic: election

Ben Carson for Maryland Governor Might Be the Prescription for Victory in 2014


By Ken Shepherd


Being a conservative Republican in Maryland is an exercise in frustration. The Old Line State is my home and I love it dearly, but its political situation drives me batty.

I’ve only seen one Republican governor in my life, while the state legislature, the General Assembly, has gotten progressively more liberal and lopsidedly Democratic.  Taxes and spending are perpetually on the rise and the state’s heavy reliance on government jobs seems to shield it from the disastrous consequences that should follow the state’s economic policies.

What’s worse, the Maryland state GOP is moribund and dispirited. In the mid 1990s, we had four Republican congressmen — ranging from moderately liberal Connie Morell to staunchly conservative Roscoe Bartlett. Now we have just one Republican congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, who, while a great congressman would probably not make for a very exciting contender for governor in 2014.

Among state legislators, the best bet to run for governor may be E.J. Pipkin, who represents the Eastern Shore. Again, a good conservative legislator, but probably not anyone who’s going to excite the electorate.

What about county executives? There may be one or two who could catch on fire, but the ones from the most populous and swing-vote rich counties are all Democrats, with the exception of Anne Arundel, which has a caretaker executive following the disgraced Republican executive’s criminal convictions.

So what to do? At the risk of sounding a bit gimmicky and cynical, I say the Maryland GOP should seriously consider Dr. Ben Carson, assuming he’s game for running, of course.

Both moderates and conservatives should be comfortable with the world-famous neurosurgeon. Dr. Carson quite clearly is an economic conservative and he’s committed to market-oriented solutions to policy problems, but he’s also soft-spoken and assuring. With the proper advising and handling, his excellent bedside manner demeanor can be shaped and crafted for handing a Democratic opponent in debate in a thoughtful, firm, and compelling way. Carson may not win over the most partisan of Democrats, but I imagine he could win perhaps 15-20 percent of the black vote and command a healthy slice of suburban moderate and liberal Democrats.

Carson’s inspiring life story is bound to inspire campaign volunteers, including, I’m sure, many Democrats for Carson, a campaign arm which will be extremely vital in a deep blue state. As for money, I imagine there are quite a few well-heeled doctors, surgeons, and Baltimore-area business executives who would be willing to open their wallets to bankroll Carson’s campaign.

The good doctor is a complete outsider to politics, which means the hyperbolic talk about a presidential run in 2016 is sheer fantasy. But given the state of the GOP in Maryland, having a novice who lacks the MDGOP’s stench of defeat could be just what the doctor ordered for the party to have any chance in 2014 in taking back the 2nd floor of the State House.

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Ken Shepherd is the managing editor of and formerly a staff writer for the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. Ken graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland in 2001. He lives in New Carrollton, Md. with his wife and daughter. You can follow him at Twitter at

The views expressed on are Ken’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Media Research Center

Topic: election

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