Around the country, Democrats in close Senate races are suddenly deciding that the Democratic Party is not for them. Some Democrats have jettisoned the national Democrats entirely in order to run as independent candidates, while others are avoiding any association with Obama like he has the Ebola virus.
The allergy to President Obama began in Kansas with billionaire Greg Orman. Orman announced his candidacy in June, running as an independent challenging Republican incumbent Pat Roberts. Three months later, according to the Washington Post, the failing Democratic candidate Chad Taylor withdrew from the race at the behest of national Democrats like Claire McCaskill (D-MO). McCaskill hoped to encourage state Democrats to rally behind Orman, whose background if far from “independent.”
Orman is no independent.
There is a wealth of evidence contradicting Orman’s claims of “independence.” The Washington Post noted that he refuses to say which party he would caucus with if it turns out he’s the deciding vote in the Senate, and Byron York, points out that Orman actually ran as a Democrat as recently as 2008. More damaging than that, York notes that Orman has made campaign contributions to such partisan political lightning rods as Al Franken, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and, of course, the president himself, Barack Obama. But worst of all, perhaps, York provides evidence that contributions are flowing in both directions, with major Democratic donors bankrolling Orman’s current campaign. In fact, the Democrats are so invested in an Orman victory, theyfought all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court to have Taylor’s name removed from the ballot.
Milton Wolf endorses Pat Roberts for Kansas.
Currently, most pundits consider the Kansas race to be a toss-up, but the Practical Politicking Report gives Roberts a slight edge. The GOP incumbent’s primary opponent, Tea Party favorite Milton Wolf, endorsed Roberts late last week saying:
Whatever your opinion of Pat Roberts, his re-election to the United States Senate may be the deciding factor that dethrones Harry Reid and elevates solid constitutional conservatives like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul…
Whether the Democratic strategy prevails in Kansas remains to be seen, but clearly Wolf isn’t buying it. His endorsement sends a clear signal to all voters, independent and Republican, that Orman is a presumptive Democrat, and they would do well to consider their votes carefully with that in mind.
Larry Pressler is playing the independent card in South Dakota too.
In South Dakota, where former Governor Mike Rounds (R) was expected to cruise to victory in the race for the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Sen. Tim Johnson, Larry Pressler–another pseudo-independent–has upended the race. Pressler, who announced his candidacy in the Huffington Post in February, has been both a Democrat and Republican. He was a registered Democrat in the early 1970s according to the Sioux Falls, SD Argus Leader, who switched his party affiliation to become a Republican member of both the U.S. House of Representatives (1975-79) and Senate (1979-97). Democrat Tim Johnson, the current occupant of the seat, defeated Pressler in 1996.
Pressler seems to have little in common with the party he once represented in Congress. National Review points out that Pressler supports higher taxes, stricter gun control, citizenship for illegal immigrants, and ObamaCare. He also opposes bans on late term abortions. But most important of all, Pressler supported Barack Obama for president in both 2008 and 2012. Even as the campaign moved into October, Pressler claimed to be a “friend of Obama.”
Unlike Taylor in Kansas, the South Dakota Democratic nominee, Rick Weiland, has refused to drop out of the race. In early October, Survey USA found that in a two-way race, Pressler would lead Republican Mike Rounds by 15 points, but Rounds looks certain to come out on top in the three-way race.
Grimes, Nunn, Begich, Shaheen, and Landrieu are also looking to hide from the president.
Obama seems to have few other friends among Democratic candidates in red and purple states this year. First to break ranks was Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic challenger to Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. In an October interview, Grimes refused to say whether she had voted for Obama, whose “war on coal” is particularly unpopular in Kentucky. The Washington Post called the video of Grimes’ evasions “40 painful seconds.” Even earlier, Grimes had declared “I’m not Barack Obama” in an ad that was reminiscent of Christine O’Donnell’s “I’m not a witch” ad from 2010.
The ensuing brouhaha compelled the Wall St. Journal’s James Taranto to pen a limerick for the occasion:
Alison Lundergan Grimes
Is going through difficult times
But in her defense
If she has 10 cents
Per Obama vote, that’s just two dimes
In spite of her denials, Grimes’ loyalties are clear. She is a lifelong Democrat who, as pointed out by The Hill, actually served as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
The Democratic denials spread from Kentucky to other tossup states. In Georgia, visitors to the website of Michelle Nunn (D) could be excused for thinking Nunn is an independent. There is no mention of her party affiliation on the site. Nunn likewise refused to answer when a conservative camera crew asked about her votes in 2008 and 2012. The video, posted on Youtube, shows Ms. Nunn’s non-reaction to the question. Perhaps she didn’t hear it? She did, however, air an ad responding to the David Perdue (R) campaign ad showing her posing with President Obama. In it, she attempts to distract voters from the picture with Obama by linking her record to Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush.
For his part, the former president has endorsed Nunn’s Republican opponent, David Perdue, and his spokespeople have also issued a statement denouncing Nunn’s ad:
Michelle and her team have been clearly, repeatedly and consistently told that President Bush did not want them to use his photo as part of this campaign. Apparently, the Nunn team feels they can repeatedly disregard the former president’s wishes, which is very disappointing because it’s so disrespectful.
After initially suffering from the same selective hearing loss as Nunn, Alaska’s Mark Begich finally admitted to voting for President Obama, but according to the Washington Examiner, called the vote – and the president – “irrelevant.” In a televised debate with challenger Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) said, when asked whether she approved of Obama “in some ways I approve and in some things I don’t approve. In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who is feeling pressure from Republican Thom Tillis, dodged the question of whether Obama is a strong leader during an interview with MSNBC.
And in Louisiana, embattled incumbent Mary Landrieu (D) took a different tack. In a state that depends on oil and gas production, Landrieu took the Obama Administration to task for its offshore drilling moratorium. In an ad, she can be heard saying, “The Administration’s policies are just wrong….” Still, when asked in a debate, Landrieu gave Obama a passing grade. She trails Republican Bill Cassidy in a race that seems destined for a runoff due to the presence of a third Tea Party-backed candidate, Rob Maness.
Don’t take our word for it; even President Obama says they’re still true-blue.
President Obama’s comments on Al Sharpton’s radio show this week should eliminate any doubt that these so-called “independent,” or at least independent-minded (despite the ‘D’ after most of their names) candidates are still loyal to their party, and to him.
“The bottom line,” the president said, “is these are all folks who vote with me, they have supported my agenda in Congress…This isn’t about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me and I tell them, you do what you need to win.”
From the looks of it, they’re hoping most voters in their states haven’t heard Sharpton’s show, or read about it here, because they obviously think what they need to win is to convince voters the President is an even bigger liar than they are.
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