Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:
* Republican voters in Georgia will go to the polls today to decide several primary runoff elections, including choosing the party's U.S. Senate nominee. There are also congressional runoffs in the 1st, 10th, and 11th districts. Polls close at 7 p.m. (ET).
* In Montana, it's been widely assumed that appointed Sen. John Walsh (D) faced insurmountable odds in his race against Steve Daines (R), but PPP shows Walsh narrowing a 17-point gap to a 7-point disadvantage since November.
* While Democrats had been quite confident that Iowa's U.S. Senate race would break their way, the contest has quickly become a toss-up. With this in mind, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching a major new ad buy to boost Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), reminding voters of state Sen. Joni Ernst's (R) extremism on issues like Social Secuirty.
* In Texas, Planned Parenthood's political arm is reportedly "embarking on the most aggressive campaign it has ever waged in Texas," with plans to invest $3 million to turn out voters for Democratic state Sens. Wendy Davis for governor and Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor. (Disclosure: my wife works for Planned Parenthood, but played no role in this piece).
* Any chance the Republican Governors Association will try to boost Rob Astorino (R) in his bid against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)? No. RGA Chair Chris Christie said yesterday his group won't invest "in lost causes."
* Speaking of Christie, the New Jersey governor was in Connecticut last night for a fundraiser, where he was confronted with nearly 200 protesters, condemning his recent decision to veto legislation to reduce gun violence.
Most of the nation has been working under the assumption that the fight over the Affordable Care Act's existence is over. The Supreme Court has already endorsed the law's legality; Congress has effectively given up on its repeal crusade; and the law's implementation is proving to be a great success. End of story, right?
Well, no. There's one last court case that we've been following that, in theory, could still destroy much of the federal health care system. At a distance, it's a genuinely ridiculous case, but as Adam Serwer reports this morning, its absurdity didn't stop Republican-appointed judges from making the wrong call this morning.
A federal court has struck down a rule from the Internal Revenue Service making Americans in federally-run health insurance marketplaces eligible for subsidies, a decision that could seriously imperil implementation of the Affordable Care Act. [...]
The ruling was a 2-1 decision by a three judge panel. Judge Harry Edwards, the lone Democratic-appointed judge on the panel, dissented.
If you've been ignoring this lawsuit, it's understandable. In January, a federal district court heard the case and not only sided with the Obama administration, the ruling practically mocked conservatives for filing such a ludicrous case. A separate federal judge recently reached the same conclusion.
But arguably the two most far-right jurists on the D.C. Circuit nevertheless overruled the lower courts, effectively swinging a sledgehammer at the core of the Affordable Care Act. If the ruling stands, there would be a very real possibility that this one outrageous decision could unravel much of the ACA itself.
Which is why it matters a great deal for millions of American families what happens next.
Exactly how many Republican governors have found themselves embroiled in various scandals this year? It's getting tough to count, but there's New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. That doesn't even include former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who's facing corruption charges.
And then there's Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), in the middle of one of the nation's most competitive gubernatorial races, who's suddenly found himself in the middle of three unrelated controversies.
Issue #2 came up yesterday, when Scott was accused of personally profiting from a gas pipeline he supported.
Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott's transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company's plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades. [...]
In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission -- a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that's to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando.
Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state's third major natural gas pipeline.
What wasn't known at the time is that Scott owned a stake in in Spectra Energy, which was chosen to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. The governor's team insists the investment was made through a blind trust, though there are unanswered questions about when the shares were acquired and just how blind that trust really is.
At 10:39 a.m. (ET) yesterday, President Obama hosted an event at the East Room of the White House, where he signed a sweeping anti-discrimination executive order. Just 29 minutes after the gathering was over, Obama spoke from the South Lawn, addressing the crises in Ukraine and Gaza.
Literally just 35 minutes after those remarks, the president kicked off a town-hall event on his "My Brother's Keeper" program, where he announced an additional $100 million in funding for his racial justice initiative, "a public-private program that focuses on the unique challenges faced by young men of color." And two hours after that, Obama was back in the East Room, this time to present the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts.
I think it's fair to say that was a fairly busy day for the president.
Indeed, for all the talk about gridlock and Washington paralysis, Obama demonstrated yesterday that he's more than capable, not only of governing effectively, but of tackling a variety of subjects at once. Watching the president pivot from issue to issue yesterday, we were reminded of Obama's willingness and eagerness to lead, govern effectively, and pursue a clear vision. And it's not just yesterday -- the president will unveil a series of executive actions today on job training.
Congressional inaction is a time-honored tradition in the months before an election. But the stagnation in this Congress -- even in the face of mounting national and international challenges -- only bolsters the perception that this is really the least productive in history. And a thaw doesn't appear to be in the offing as each party commits to seeking an elusive, post-election upper hand.
The contrast between an active president, appearing almost desperate to get things done, and a passive Congress, spinning its wheels without direction, is stark.
Earlier this year, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) thought he'd come up with a great idea: he'd file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act in the hopes of making coverage more expensive for Capitol Hill staff. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Johnson's home state of Wisconsin, conceded the senator's lawsuit was "frivolous" and an "unfortunate political stunt."
Yesterday, in a development that was arguably even more important than it appears at first blush, a federal judge threw out the case.
A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson's Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.
The court dismissed the lawsuit, which contended the Obama administration decision to grant employer contributions for health plans purchased through the District of Columbia's Obamacare health exchange ran afoul of the law.
Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Johnson and fellow plaintiff Brooke Ericson lacked standing, siding with the argument made by the government's lawyers.
The hurdle for Johnson's lawyers was always going to be difficult to clear: how would the Republican senator demonstrate he'd been harmed by the health care policy he doesn't like? Remember, when filing a lawsuit challenging the legality of a law, plaintiffs can't just say, "I don't like it." They need to show how they've been adversely affected by it.
Johnson couldn't, so his case was dismissed. But this is more than just a setback for one Republican senator with a partisan axe to grind; this is also likely the start of things to come for the GOP's anti-Obama litigation.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently appeared on Fox News, stressing his support for deploying National Guard troops to address the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border. Brit Hume asked the governor to explain what the Guard would actually do. Perry struggled to explain.
Hume reminded Perry, "[I]f these children who've undergone these harrowing journeys, to escape the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won't shoot them and can't arrest them?"
At this point, Perry changed the subject.
But that was last week. This week, the Republican governor and likely presidential candidate is moving forward with his idea, whether he can explain its merits or not.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Monday requested the immediate deployment of as many as 1,000 service members to assist with security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The soldiers, from both the Texas National Guard and State Guard, will mobilize throughout the next 30 days to carry out "Operation Strong Safety" along the border region.
"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault," Perry said Monday during a press conference.
First, there's very little to suggest Texans are "under assault." Second, "Operation Strong Safety" is an unintentionally amusing phrase. As Paul Waldman joked, "'Operation Strong Safety'? Why not just go ahead and call it Operation America Macho TestosteReagan?"
But even putting that aside, at its core, the most meaningful concern here is that Perry's solution doesn't match the problem.
Kimberly Marten, professor of political science specializing in Russian affairs at Barnard College, talks with Rachel Maddow about what leverage the international community has over Russia to pressure Vladimir Putin on his support of Ukraine separatists. watch
Rachel Maddow reviews the recent history of violent clashes between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza and points out that each time the violence ended it was because of a brokered ceasefire, not because war and fighting won the peace. watch
Michael Kiefer, senior reporter for the Arizona Republic, talks with Rachel Maddow about the significance of a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that Arizona must reveal the source of its execution drug before it can kill a prisoner with it. watch
Rachel Maddow contrasts Texas Governor Rick Perry's grandstanding gesture of sending National Guard troops to the border to guard against children, with the impassioned declaration by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick that he has a duty to help. watch