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Posted at 8:38 AM ET, 12/10/2010

House Democrats' revolt (and why it happened)

By Chris Cillizza

1. The revolt by House Democrats on Thursday -- refusing to allow the compromise tax deal President Obama cut with Republicans on to the floor for a vote -- has its roots in long simmering tensions between the lower chamber and the White House, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

"Much of this action in the house is clearly based on those members that lost that felt like Obama committed political malpractice at their peril," said one senior party strategist with intimate knowledge of the House.

Democrats lost a total of 63 House seats -- and their majority party status -- in the 2010 midterm elections.

Obama, for his part, largely stayed above the fray caused by the House Democratic revolt on Thursday, telling NPR in an interview that he had confidence the tax package would pass because "nobody, Democrat or Republican, wants to see people's paychecks smaller on January 1st because Congress didn't act."

Added a senior Administration official: "There are always raw emotions after tough elections and we understand that, but the Democrats who object do so because of the inclusion of provisions they don't like." The source added that the president opposes those provisions as well "but thinks the package includes very good initiatives to help the middle class and grow the economy and prevents a catastrophic tax increase on the middle class."

The official added that "the White House and [President Obama's] political network committed an unprecedented amount of time resources and travel to the recent election."

It's not clear how far House Democrats are willing to push the envelope on taxes in this lame-duck Congressional session. Yesterday's internal caucus vote was non-binding and rightly read as symbolic by most seasoned congressional observers.

But, now that House Democrats have publicly expressed their displeasure with their president, how hard will they push to extract concessions in the compromise? And will the White House or, more importantly, Republicans, be willing to play along?

One longtime House aide insisted that Thursday's move by House Democrats was prototypical of a chamber that always feels like it doesn't get enough respect. "The House has a historic inferiority complex," said the source. "It's true no matter which party is in control of Congress or the presidency."

Still, elections have consequences well beyond wins and losses. And, Thursday's contretemps is evidence that there is little love lost at the moment between the House and the White House.

2. An Alaska judge is expected to rule on Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller's election challenge on Friday, marking a crucial juncture in his lengthy battle to prolong the state's Senate race.

A state superior court judge is scheduled to decide on Miller's lawsuit seeking to get 8,000 write-in ballots thrown out because, on them, voters misspelled Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) name. (Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate following her loss to Miller in an August primary.)

Miller's team has also cited several alleged voting irregularities that it says account, with the misspelled ballots, for about 15,000 votes, which, it reasons, could be enough to sway Murkowski's current 10,000-vote lead.

There is currently an injunction delaying the certification of Murkowski's win until the lawsuit is decided. Miller may appeal the decision if it is not in his favor.

3. Outgoing Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) says he may challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) in 2012.

Carcieri said he will take some time before deciding on re-entering the political fray. He noted in an interview with the Associated Press that it would be different not to be in an executive role.

He said he will take a vacation in Florida with his wife before he starts plotting his next move.

Whitehouse defeated then-Sen. Lincoln Chaffee (R) to win his seat in 2006. Chafee has since become an independent and won the race to replace Carcieri as governor this fall.

Other potential opponents for Whitehouse include 2010 GOP governor nominee John Robitaille, who finished second behind Chafee. Robitaille is a former Carcieri aide.

4. Sen. John Thune has been added to the line-up for next year's Conservative Political Action Conference, putting the South Dakota Republican on the stage of what is traditionally a must-attend event for GOP White House hopefuls.

Thune will join a slate of potential presidential contenders including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Other GOP luminaries expected to speak at the event include Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New Mexico Gov.-elect Susana Martinez.

The summit, which will take place Feb. 10-12, 2011 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., serves as a chance for White House aspirants to test out their message, raise their profile and hobnob with young party activists ahead of a potential bid.

Romney won the summit's straw poll three years in a row, from 2007 to 2009.

But like other straw polls, the contest has at times produced winners who could at best be considered on the margins of electability: this year, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) - who won a grand total of zero primaries and caucuses in 2008 -- won the straw poll with 31 percent of the vote.

5. Two big Fix events are on the horizon over the next few days.

Today at 11 a.m. remember to come armed with your best questions for the weekly "Live Fix" online chat. You can submit your questions in advance or just follow along in real time.

Then, on Monday, it's time for "Politics and Pints" -- our monthly trivia night.

The festivities get started at 7 p.m. but make sure to get there early to get a seat AND your commemorative "Politics and Pints" tumbler cup. (We got an early sneak peak; you are going to want one!)

Come one, come all! Look forward to seeing everyone!

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | December 10, 2010; 8:38 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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