Morning Fix: Coakley, Brown win in Mass. special election
1. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley cruised to a victory in the special election Democratic primary to replace the late Ted Kennedy, a win that virtually ensures she will be the next senator from the Bay State. Coakley, who had begun laying the groundwork for the race even before Kennedy passed away in August, took nearly 47 percent of the vote -- roughly 20 points better than Rep. Michael Capuano. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, perhaps bolstered by the endorsement of the Boston Globe, narrowly edged Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca for third place. Meanwhile, on the Republican side of the ledger, state Sen. Scott Brown took more than 90 percent of the vote against perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson. Coakley and Brown will face off on Jan. 19 for the chance to fill the unexpired term of Kennedy who was reelected to an eighth term in 2006. The strongly Democratic nature of Massachusetts coupled with Coakley's name identification and fundraising edges over Brown make her a heavy favorite to win the seat next month. WHAT WE'LL MISS MOST: A terrific Twitter feed --@kennedyseat -- that kept us well informed about the goings-on in the race.
2. Looking for a one-word summation of President Obama's economic speech on Tuesday? Try "necessary." The address was front-loaded with a series of explanations for why he and his administration took the series of large-scale actions they did on the economy almost immediately upon taking office. That explanation -- put simply -- was that desperate times call for desperate measures. "These were not decisions that were popular or satisfying," said Obama early in the address. "These were decisions that were necessary." Then later, Obama argued that "even as we have had to spend our way out of this recession in the near term, we've begun to make the hard choices necessary to get our country on a more stable fiscal footing in the long run." He even used the word when talking about the Troubled Asset Relief Program saying: "There has rarely been a less loved or more necessary emergency program than TARP." Sending that message stood at the heart of this speech; the actual policy proposals -- further infrastructure investments, tax breaks for small business, rewards for retrofitting your home -- were, by Obama's own admission, "broad."
3. The rumors of Sen. Chris Dodd's imminent retirement are (apparently) greatly exaggerated, according to sources familiar with the Connecticut Democrat's thinking. Chatter about Dodd stepping aside has reached fever pitch in Washington this week and at a campaign stop in East Hartford Dodd was asked directly whether he had been asked to step aside in favor of popular state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Dodd said he had not and joked that party leaders "can't be more anxious about it than I am." Dodd, who faces a very uphill climb to reelection next fall, has, in fact, been raising money at a blistering pace argue Democratic insiders -- perhaps to make up for what was widely seen as a disappointing third quarter in the money chase. We continue to struggle to see how Dodd can win given the blow his personal and job numbers have taken in recent years. But, at the moment, Dodd appears resolute. ALSO CHECK OUT: New Rasmussen polling showing Dodd losing by 13 points to former representative Rob Simmons (R).
4. Senate Democrats appear to have settled on a deal to round up the needed 60 votes to bring the president's health care bill to the floor that does not include the so-called "public option" provision, report the Post's Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery. Write the duo: "Under the deal, the government plan preferred by liberals would be replaced with a program that would create several national insurance policies administered by private companies but negotiated by the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees health policies for federal workers. If private firms were unable to deliver acceptable national policies, a government plan would be created." If the public option is indeed a goner, it will be interesting to see how liberals -- both in the House and Senate as well as outside groups that have formed around the issue -- react. Many high-profile Democrats -- including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean -- have said that a health care bill without a public option is not real reform. The White House has been much less forceful on the inclusion of the public option perhaps in a recognition that such a proposal could not garner the votes needed to pass the legislation through the Senate.
5. Fix 2012 darkhorse Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) continues to work to distinguish himself as a leading opponent of TARP. Thune, in a statement released in advance of Obama's speech, called TARP a "de facto slush fund" and argued that the money remaining in the program should be immediately refunded to taxpayers. Last month, Thune introduced legislation that would force TARP to be shuttered at the end of year. There is no bill in recent memory that has sparked the outrage of the right like TARP -- a vote for it is widely seen as apostasy by fiscal conservatives. (Texas Gov. Rick Perry is currently using Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's TARP vote to bash her in their primary fight.) If Thune can stake out ground as the point person fighting TARP -- and its effects -- in the Senate, it would provide a pretty good launch pad for a national bid. Thune and his people won't even speculate about his interest in a national race until the South Dakota filing deadline passes on March 30, 2010. If, as expected, Thune draws no serious Democratic challenge, expect his allies to begin chattering about a potential presidential run.
6. Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has hired Jonathan Allen, a longtime political reporter for Congressional Quarterly, to run her leadership PAC, according to the St. Pete Times' Alex Leary. The PAC -- bad acronym alert! -- is known as Democrats Win Seats (DWS . . . her initials, get it?) and, as of the end of November, had raised $243,000 this year. Wasserman Schultz, who is heading up the incumbent protection program at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle, has made no secret of her desire to rise up the ranks of Democratic leadership. She along with DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and a few others are seen as potential House speakers if and when Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) decides to give up the gavel.
7. Former president Ronald Reagan passed away more than five years ago but for South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), the Gipper is still a potent political force. McMaster, who is seeking the Palmetto State governorship in 2010, released a Web video Tuesday featuring (old) footage of him and Reagan at the White House. "To give you some idea of how much I value Henry, he was my appointee for U.S. attorney here in South Carolina," Reagan says in the video. McMaster served in that post from 1981 to 1985 and went on to get elected as the state's top cop in 2002 and re-elected four years later. All four Republican candidates -- McMaster, Rep. Gresham Barrett, state Sen. Nikki Haley and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer -- are doing their darnedest to tout their conservative bona fides, a smart move in a Republican primary. This, then, will be the first of many times Reagan's name is invoked in this race. We wonder -- not really -- whether any of the quartet of Republican candidates will mention either former president George W. Bush or outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford. ALSO READ: Lou Cannon's amazing obituary of the Gipper.
8. Newsweek's Daniel Gross argues in a piece this week that the November jobs report released last Friday is even better news for the state of the economy than it might seem at first glance. His four reasons: 1) the recent track record of the government shows that they overestimate job losses 2) the service industries are growing again 3) the rise in temps (like Ryan Howard from "The Office") 4) antidisestablishmentarianism (not kidding). The better the economy gets -- and the faster that recovery happens -- the sooner the American people will begin to feel better about their fiscal futures and the brighter the political outlook for President Obama and congressional Democrats in 2010.
9. "Politics and Pints", the Fix's political trivia night, was such a big hit that planning is already underway for several more similar events. Want to be alerted to when and where the next "Politics and Pints" is going down? We are building an e-mail list to do just that. So, if you want to be in the know, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Politics and Pints" in the subject line. We'll make sure to alert you to future events.
10. First "Guiding Light" was canceled. Now comes word that "As the World Turns" is headed the way of the dodo next September. Writes the Associated Press: "Daytime dramas have been fading as a genre for years with more women joining the work force and the increased number of channels offering alternatives like news, talk, reality and game shows."
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