May 25th, 2014
09:58 AM ET
5 months ago

The 'Inside Politics' Forecast: I like Texas, ain't it fine here?

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.

In this week’s Inside Politics forecast: A little campaign triage, a few interesting races to watch in the week ahead and Peter Hamby’s uncanny ability to connect political reporting with a good meal.

1. A POSSIBLE CHANGING OF THE GUARD IN TEXAS?

Jonathan Martin of The New York Times shared reporting that his sources believe 91-year-old GOP Rep. Ralph Hall could be in trouble as he tries to survive a primary runoff.

John Ratcliffe is the challenger, and in his ads he makes direct issue of Hall’s age, saying he has been in Washington for too long. Ratcliffe is getting help from some grassroots conservative groups who count Hall among the GOP establishment incumbents they view as too willing to deal with President Obama.

Hall is airing tough ads of his own, including one painting Ratcliffe as a tax-raising trial lawyer.

"Republicans in both Texas and in DC that I talk to are worried he's not going to win," said Martin of Hall's prospects. "It's not a pure ideological victory, if the right was to win there. But you can be sure, given the recent record, they will trumpet any victories they can get."

A sampling of Ratcliffe's fundamental strategy to take down Hall:

2. AND THEN “FIRST TO MENTION LAROUCHE" PRIZE GOES TO...

Staying in Texas, Nia Malika Henderson shares the Democratic angst over Kesha Rogers.

GOP Sen. John Cornyn is a likely shoo-in for re-election. But Texas Democrats still have some hope of winning the governor’s race and if nothing else want to make a strong 2014 effort as a springboard to 2016 and beyond, when they insist demographic and other changes will help them turn reliably red Texas more blue.

But Rogers could prove a spoiler.

She is the Democratic Senate runoff against David Alameel, who has the state Democratic Party’s backing.

What’s the rub against Rogers?

Well, she’s a supporter of gadfly extremist and perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, who – and Rogers agrees – believes President Obama should be impeached.

"She's often seen with poster of Obama with a Hitler mustache," said Malika Henderson. "They are worried that she is really disrupting their attempt to rebrand and rebuild the Democratic Party in Texas."

"They don't think she'll win but they're worried she might do well in that primary," she added.

3. GOP HOPES TO LIFT IOWA'S ERNST INTO GENERAL ELECTION

Much of the media attention when it comes to June 3 is the GOP Senate primary in Mississippi, where the tea party has perhaps its last best chance of unseating a GOP incumbent this year.

But Politico’s Maggie Haberman smartly pointed to another key race to watch: Iowa’s GOP Senate contest.

Remember Joni Ernst? Name doesn’t ring a bell? OK, remember the candidate whose first TV ad talked of a childhood helping to castrate hogs on the family farm.

Yup, that’s Joni Ernst.

Well she has gone from the middle of the pack to the favorite in the crowded GOP field, and now the establishment – including Mitt Romney – is trying to help her get to 50 percent in the June 3 primary.

Republicans hope she can avoid a runoff and turn her attention to the fall campaign and Democrat Bruce Braley, who forecaster predict will have a difficult time waging a campaign against a woman.

"Both sides are going to come out of the gate blasting," said Haberman.

Just in case you forget, here's Ernst's memorable TV spot debut:

4. HAMBY'S HUNGER TURNS TO TENNESSEE

There are patterns, and then there are obsessions.

CNN's Peter Hamby is as good as they come in sniffing out good political news. He just prefers to do so on a full stomach. Week after week, his reporting nuggets are served with references to a pancake breakfast here, and a Lincoln Day dinner there.

And this week was no exception.

Peter is interested, and shared some nuggets, about a Chris Christie foray into Tennessee next week. The visit, Christie's first trip to the south since winning re-election last November, is a good chance for the New Jersey governor to break bread with some potential 2016 backers.

"Nashville is a huge Republican donor hub, outside of Texas and New York," noted Hamby. "It's a big money place, because of, not just country music. There's a big Christian publishing industry. There's a lot of Republican money there."

5. CALL IN THE GOP COMMS. SWAT TEAM

Pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby is the GOP’s Senate nominee in Oregon.

Maybe you’ve heard about her because she beat a tea party-style challenger in her primary. Or maybe you’ve heard of her because of late campaign media accounts of allegations she stalked two former boyfriends after they ended relationships with her.

Water under the bridge, the men say now – and Republicans attribute the media accounts to a Democratic smear campaign designed to torpedo Wehby before the primary.

Publicly, national Republicans predict those stories will not hurt and could actually create some sympathy. But privately there is some concern, about the potential political impact but even more so about whether Wehby and her team are up to the challenge of what is now a top-tier Senate campaign.

So, as Wehby turns her attention to Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley, I’m told the National Republican Senatorial Committee quietly dispatched a team of communications gurus to Oregon to give Wehby and her team a little advice and training.


Filed under: Inside Politics
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Inside politics ……? I wish CNN focus on “Both parties are same” headline

    Simple ,Two party systems is not working

    Republicans and democrats talks about how much they care about our veterans and small business owners’ yes we call crocodile tears

    Veterans died before they get their health care
    Mom and Pop business closed before they get their loans

    Our Government never kept their promise

    May 25, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. vic , nashville ,tn

    Will all elected official reject their health benefits till all veterans get proper health care?

    May 25, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    COME AND TAKE IT

    Commandancy of the Alamo--

    Bejar Fby. 24th 1836

    To the People of Texas &
    all Americans in the world--

    Fellow citizens & compatriots--

    I am besieged, by a thousand
    or more of the Mexicans under
    Santa Anna -– I have sustained
    a continual Bombardment &
    cannonade for 24 hours & have
    not lost a man -– The enemy
    has demanded a Surrender at
    discretion, otherwise, the garrison
    are to be put to the sword, if
    the fort is taken -– I have answered
    the demand with a cannon
    shot, & our flag still waves
    proudly from the wall -– I
    shall never Surrender or retreat

    Then, I can on you in the
    name of Liberty, of patriotism &
    every thing dear to the American
    character, to come to our aid,
    with an dispatch -– The enemy is
    receiving reinforcements daily &
    will no doubt increase to three or
    four thousand in four or five days.
    If this can is neglected, I am deter
    mined to sustain myself as long as
    possible & die like a soldier
    who never forgets what is due to
    his own honor & that of his
    country -– Victory or Death

    William Barret Travis
    Lt. Col. Comdt

    P. S. The lord is on our side-
    When the enemy appeared in sight
    we had not three bushels of corn-
    We have since found in deserted
    houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into
    the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves-

    Travis

    May 25, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    --seven states are with drought, one is Texas. Republicans don't understand climate change nevertheless drought, fine here-fine here!!!!

    May 25, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. don in albuquerque

    Free Man in Wherever
    Be happy to come and take it. The men of the Alamo would roll in their graves to see what Texas politics have become.

    May 25, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. king

    John king just losf a lot of credibility today. He sounded like a straight tea partier this morning where the va is concerned. This va problem has spanned decades even when there were no wars. We are faced with two wars and hundred of thousand of disabled vets. We need to stop this shooting from the hip firing folks routIne, then when they gone, we assume every thing is alright. We need to aproach this problem with investigation, find out all the broken areas and getting resources from our cut loving congress to solve the problem. This is the only way we can fix this problem, which took decades to be this way. We need to stop putting bandaide on stuff by firing folks and forget the intrnched system that have made the va what it is today.

    May 25, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Thomas

    Rick Perry 2016 , need we say more ?

    He is our man , a man of the People.
    Jefferson F. Davis would be proud .

    May 25, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Xavier

    Please... No Perry in 2016. He has embarrassed us Texans enough already. He needs to just go away.

    May 25, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. a sinclair

    So are we done with the VA story already?? 6 weeks of coverage on a downed plane out of MALAYSIA and 2 days of coverage on our VETS THAT ARE ROTTING IN OUR CRAPPY HOSPITALS?? What's wrong with this picture??

    May 25, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Lizzie

    Gurgle, but Al Gore does, Texas will be just fine, don't worry, they had droughts before and will have droughts again, no matter if democrats or republicans run the state. Cali is dry also, the east has enough water so why no send it there.

    May 25, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Billy

    "The New York Times shared reporting that his sources believe 91-year-old GOP Rep. Ralph Hall could be in trouble as he tries to survive a primary runoff." LITERALLY!

    May 25, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. don in albuquerque

    Lizzie
    Yeah, they'll be fine. Just like when they had the wild fires a couple of years ago. And they screamed and squalled until the federal gov't. sent people in. Yep, Texas will be fine as long as the Federal Gov't is there to back them up.

    May 25, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  13. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Now that they have been CRUSHED by Turtle McConnell, can't wait to see Thom Tillis,Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats EXACTLY like they stuffed Romney down.

    May 26, 2014 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  14. GODZILLA1

    Republicans in Texas are heading the way of the Dodo bird – extinction. Demographics are changing the state's political complexion each day – 2016 will be glorious and by 2020 Republicans will be nothing more than a footnote in our history, along with Rick Perry.

    May 26, 2014 07:16 am at 7:16 am |