CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
1. Another Governor Carter in Georgia?: Republicans are looking to make gains coast to coast this midterm election year, while Democrats are largely on defense. But Georgia – yes Georgia – is one unlikely source of guarded Democratic optimism - in part because of two famous names on the ballot.
A crowded Republican Senate primary field could potentially help Democrat Michelle Nunn. And GOP Gov. Nathan Deal took a hit in the polls after a disastrous response to a big snow storm last year which leaves an opening for state Sen. Jason Carter.
Jonathan Martin of The New York Times shared reporting that while Democrats do believe Nunn has a chance, they are more and more thinking their best hope for a win might well be the governor’s race, where Carter is seeking the office his grandfather, Jimmy, used as a springboard to the presidency in 1976.
2. Boehner's immigration reform timetable: House Speaker John Boehner promised to move immigration legislation earlier this year, then backed off after many of his loyal House Republican colleagues complained a tough vote like that early this year could bring them a conservative primary challenge back home.
And in recent days, the Speaker’s staff has bluntly used the word “chill” to dampen speculation the House GOP might heed President Obama’s repeated calls for action this year.
But, with apologies to Monty Python, perhaps – just perhaps – the issue is not dead yet.
Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal reports that the Speaker is still exploring whether there is an opening for 2014 action.
3. Inside the Heritage Foundation retreat with Cruz and Rubio: CNN’s Peter Hamby took us inside another stop on the so-called “invisible primary” calendar for 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls.
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that has tilted even more to the right under the leadership of former South Carolina Sen. Jim Demint. Peter reports that freshman Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, of Texas and Florida, respectively, stopped by a recent Heritage retreat in Florida.
They say timing is everything in politics: Peter reports that Cruz took the state just as conservative nemesis Kathleen Sebelius was announcing her resignation as President Obama’s health secretary. So Cruz shared the news – and basked in the applause.
4. The Obamacare "red state" vs. "blue state" gap: Fifty states, 50 takes on how the implementation of Obamacare is going. Annie Lowery of The New York Times reminded us of that important factor as we watch to see how the health care law impacts the midterm elections.
And, she noted, that as a general rule, the implementation tends to be going better in blue states – states run by Democrats – and not as well in red states. There are exceptions of course, but Annie’s point is an important reminder that for all the national political talk – and polling – about the health care law, what really matters are voter perceptions in states with the most important races this year.
That’s one factor working against Democrats: a half dozen of the now Democratically held Senate seats on the ballot this year are in states President Obama lost twice: Alaska, South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana.
5. McConnell to the Granite State: When a big name Republican visits Iowa or New Hampshire and insists it has nothing to do with the next presidential election, it is almost always safe to roll your eyes.
But, in Bedford, New Hampshire this Wednesday, those words will actually pass the sniff test.
Who’s making the pilgrimage? Mitch McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, for a fund-raiser organized by New Hampshire GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Safe to say McConnell isn’t running for president in 2016. Also safe to say he is grateful for the help in 2014: McConnell first faces a tea party primary challenge, and if he survives that, then would head into a tough fall campaign against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
That gratitude could work to Ayotte’s benefit; she already is a junior member of McConnell’s leadership team, and loyalty begets loyalty.