Hoping to galvanize their base further, Republicans are casting the midterm elections as a golden opportunity to fire Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who has served as lead blocker for President Obama’s liberal agenda on Capitol Hill and chief opponent of GOP legislation.
The attacks are being espoused inside and outside the Capital Beltway and could become staples of the Republican message as the party looks to pick up the six seats needed to take the Senate gavel out of Mr. Reid’s hands.
On Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus described Mr. Reid as “dirty” and “unethical.”
The RNC circulated a memo that played up a Federal Election Commission inquiry into campaign cash that Mr. Reid reimbursed after using the money to purchase gifts for his granddaughter.
Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist, said Mr. Reid, a former boxer and ex-chairman of the powerful Nevada Gaming Commission, likely relishes being “best bodyguard that president Obama has.” He said Republicans are targeting the Nevada Democrat in hopes of sustaining the momentum they have built in recent months attacking Mr. Obama and his signature legislative achievement, theAffordable Care Act.
“You need another quiver in the arrow to keep the grass roots energized. Not to mention, it is one heck of a fundraiser,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Reid has been a check on the Republican House while simultaneously pushing President Obama’s agenda.”
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
North Carolina has a Republican candidate capable of unseating Democratic incumbent Kay Hagen provided he can survive the primary season with enough resources left for the general election, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says.
O'Connell told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that he believes Thom Tillis has what it takes to give the GOP the crucial victory it needs if it is to gain control of the Senate in the fall midterm elections if he can avoid a drawn-out primary.
Tillis, North Carolina's state House Speaker, faces four other candidates in the May 6 primary, including physician Greg Brannon, and Baptist minister Mark Harris, who has tea party backing. If Tillis doesn't clear the 40 percent mark in the primary, he will be forced into a runoff against another Republican on July 15.
"Right now Thom Tillis is leading but he's only polling about 20 or 25 percent," O'Connell said. "If he doesn't get 40 percent then he's going to have a run-off. The question is, the rest of the candidates are a little bit more conservative and do the votes of the other candidates coalesce when they actually have a run-off in July? I think this is heading to a primary run-off and then we're going to see who emerges after that."
Read more from Joe Battaglia at Newsmax.com
Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has a tough road ahead if he is going to defeat the incumbent name-you-know in a key Arkansas Senate race that figures to go down to the wire, GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says.
O'Connell told J.D. Hayworth, and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that Cotton will have to pull out all the stops if he is to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who has held his seat for 13 years and is the son of popular former governor and Sen. David Pryor.
"Well, for Democrats in Arkansas, particularly in the last 10 years, what's happened here is those who've been sort of an institution like the Pryors have been able to get away with a few things that most candidates couldn't," O'Connell said Wednesday.
"Remember, these are the Pryors they know, and when you're in the state race — again, when it's a name you know and a name you've trusted over time, it always gives you an advantage.
"Really, Tom Cotton the Republican is looking for any way to sort of dislodge Pryor, and Pryor is going to play a little bit of a cat-and-mouse game with him."
Read more from Joe Battaglia at Newsmax.com
Harry Reid of Nevada, the top Democrat in the Senate, isn’t on the ballot this November. But Republicans are effectively trying to put him there.
By going after Senator Reid, the theory goes, Republicans will make him poisonous to Democratic senators in tough reelection battles around the country – the very Democrats Reid needs to hold onto the majority leader job.
Republicans say the tactic worked in 2010, when they made “Fire Pelosi” the rallying cry in their effort to retake the House and boot then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the speaker’s chair. The Democrats got skunked, and Speaker Pelosi got demoted.
On Wednesday, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus launched his party’s latest attack on Reid: a charge that he is violating Senate ethics rules by putting “partisan campaign attacks” on his Senate website and Twitter feed.
Reid’s spokesman didn’t reply directly to the ethics charge, instead returning fire on the GOP.
Whether Republicans can turn Reid into the bogeyman of the 2014 midterms is an open question. Reid’s public persona is low-key and at times awkward, though behind the scenes, he is seen as a wily operator.
“Will all of these charges against Reid stick? Probably not,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But Republicans loathe Harry Reid. He’s on a par with Nancy Pelosi. It helps them put a face on another reason why they should take the Senate.”
The attacks on Reid also energize mega-donors, who may then open their wallets again, Mr. O’Connell says.
Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Chrisitian Science Monitor
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent a record 14 years in office vanquishing nearly all who dared confront him: political rivals, moms against mandatory vaccines for sixth graders, a coyote in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But with eight months left on the job and a decision to make about the 2016 presidential race, the long-serving governor known for his Texas swagger is now the focus of a grand jury investigation that could cause more difficulty than any adversary has.
What should have been a political victory lap for Perry could now wind up in a final tussle that has implications for his political future.
A judge seated a grand jury in Austin this week to consider whether Perry, who is weighing another run for the White House, abused his power when he carried out a threat to veto $7.5 million in state funding for public corruption prosecutors last summer.
Aides to Perry say he legally exercised his veto power. Others say Perry was abusing his state office and is finally getting his comeuppance.
Perry never lost an election until his run for the Republican presidential nomination flamed out in 2012. If he makes another bid upon leaving office in January, he's positioned to boast of an even more robust Texas economy and to project a slightly toned down image: he now wears a pair of thick-framed glasses and seldom slides on his cowboy boots anymore.
But the grand jury probe could draw attention back to more contentious issues, even if Perry is not indicted. And if the panel does pursue charges, "that would be very, very hard to overcome, particularly because voters already have a perception of him in their mind, and right now he's been busy cleaning that perception up," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington. "It would put him on life support as a presidential candidate."
Read more from Paul J. Weber at The Associated Press
Brace yourself. This may come as a shock. Susana Martinez owes the Cuss Jar.
Yes, it turns out the governor of New Mexico utters the occasional naughty word. She once called her opponent a “bitch.” She may even have dropped an F-bomb during her term as governor.
She also once wondered aloud what the New Mexico State Commission on the Status of Women did all day and why its leader is a member of her cabinet. A lot of voters probably would be interested in the answer to that question as well.
That is the best Mother Jones magazine could come up with in a 5,000-word hit piece released earlier this week, complete with purloined recordings of meetings and conference calls and other “inside” information on the 2010 campaign that put her in office.
To be charitable, the timing is interesting. Martinez is up for re-election in November. More importantly, her name has made its way to various short lists of potential vice presidential candidates in the 2016 election. It’s even possible she may run herself. And with Democrats stuck in the Hillary Clinton vortex– they can’t move decisively in any direction until she declares whether she will run in 2016 – her party and its supplicants in the press, such as MoJo, are spending their time trying to dirty up potential Republican presidential candidates.
The carousel of character assassination was bound to stop on Martinez at some point. MSNBC’s merciless round-the-clock coverage of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bridgegate not only failed to knock him out of the race; it didn’t even manage to knock him from the top spot in the polls.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report
GOP presidential hopefuls are largely steering clear of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government.
The showdown, which left armed militia members and feds staring each other down last week, has captivated talk radio and cable news shows, turning Bundy into a conservative cause célèbre.
Yet Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Arkansas Governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee are the only big-name GOP stars to have spoken out on the dispute so far.
Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been silent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also not commented on Bundy, who has been fighting the federal government in and out of court for more than 20 years over his refusal to pay grazing fees.
All three offices did not respond to calls for this story.
GOP strategists suggested that Bundy’s case is far too risky for most candidates eyeing the presidency, particularly given the possibility of armed conflict with federal police.
“The Republican Party’s very sympathetic to Cliven Bundy’s property rights, states’ rights argument,” said strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “But many Republicans also prize the rule of law above all else. Right or wrong, Bundy had his day in court and lost.”
Paul has a libertarian bent to his politics, and he’s repeatedly taken on issues that make the Bundy fight work better for him than others, O’Connell said.
“It fits very nicely within the ethos that Rand Paul has,” O’Connell said of the Bundy ranch fight. “But the difficulty that Paul’s going to have in terms of winning the nomination is taking that libertarian, constitutional thinking, and showing how you can govern a nation with it.”
Read more from Timothy Cama at The Hill
As Republicans search for a viable candidate for the 2016 presidential election, the leading prospective contenders need to clean up their credentials, GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says.
Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker all have work to do to overcome past difficulties and clean up their images for Republican voters and donors, O'Connell told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.
Paul, the senator from Kentucky, will have to backtrack on his libertarian, isolationist foreign policies if he is to appeal to the party base.
"That's really what's hurting him with Republican donors. They want somebody who is going to have a muscular foreign policy and, unfortunately as we're seeing with Obama right now, peace through strength only works when you're perceived to be strong," O'Connell said.
Read more Aaron Stern at Newsmax.com
Although the White House is celebrating Obamacare enrollment numbers, Republicans should tout their alternatives to the healthcare reform law, says GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.
"The message for Republicans needs to be put us back into power in Congress and we're going to fix the Obamacare mess, and the reason is very simple.
"While most Americans detest it, a sizeable majority don't want to see it repealed, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, and the reason is because there are two popular provisions, covering kids up to 26 and basically covering pre-existing conditions," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Wednesday.
"So, that is what Republicans have to work with, they basically have to say, hey, we're going to come up with a solution to fix this because repeal is not going to be a winning message for Republicans," he said.
O'Connell, a self-styled "political quarterback," has worked on several local, state and national campaigns, including the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He argues that the GOP has to work within the parameters of the healthcare law for now, and not just run against Obamacare.
"The fact still remains that we're in a legislatively untenable situation, and that is, we can't be seen as snatching back health insurance from the 1 to 2 million who were previously uninsured who now may or may not actually have health insurance.
"So, this is really the area where Republicans find themselves, they can't go and snatch that back, but what they can do is they can try to fix it," he explained.
Read more from Lisa Barron at Newsmax.com