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The "Obama Effect"


Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), Rep. Artur Davis, (D-Ala.) and former congressman Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee are among those who are more likely to take a chance on a race because of the success of President-elect Barack Obama.

The rapid rise of President-elect Barack Obama -- from the Illinois state Senate to the White House in the space of six years -- is already driving candidates into 2010 races who likely would have been more cautious had the former Illinois senator not set the pace last fall.

Take Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek who announced his candidacy today for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R).

At 42, Meek holds a coveted seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and is widely seen as a rising star in House politics. His run for Senate will force him to leave a Miami-area seat that he could have held without any real effort for the rest of his life. (Cynics point out that Meek's mother, Carrie, whom he replaced in 2002, could run and serve as a place-holder if Kendrick Meek comes up short in 2010.)

In his formal announcement this morning, Meek directly echoed the rhetoric used successfully by Obama to claim the presidency. "This race is not about me -- it is about Floridians," said Meek. "I am running for Florida, and I am asking Floridians to run with us in this race."

In Alabama, something similar is happening as Rep. Artur Davis (D) is a near-certain candidate for the open governor's race in 2010. Like Meek, Davis is young (41), African American and holds a comfortably Democratic House seat in which he would almost certainly not be seriously challenged if he decided to stay in it.

Call it the "Obama Effect" -- an increased willingness among candidates (particularly Democrats and African Americans) to take a chance on races that are far from sure things.

In Florida, national Democrats have made clear that state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who continues to deliberate about the race, is their preferred candidate; Davis faces a near-certain primary as Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., among others, is weighing a bid.

Other young politicians looking to jump the line and make statewide bids in 2010 include: Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) who is considering a run against Sen. Jim Bunning (R), former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D), a potential candidate for the open Tennessee governor's seat, Rep. Tim Ryan (D), who is weighing a candidacy in the newly vacated Ohio Senate seat, and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) who is likely to run for the open Senate seat in Florida.

One senior Democratic strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly said that while Obama may inspire a younger generation to run for office, replicating his successes may not be so simple.

"Barack Obama's victory does open doors for young and African American candidates to seek higher office -- the question will be whether those candidates have enough of President-elect Obama's unique talents and abilities to actually win," said the source.

For candidate recruiters, the willingness of ambitious pols to take an electoral chance provides potential and peril.

On the plus side, younger candidates are more energetic on the stump and in fundraising and also have a familiarity with new media strategies (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.) to communicate with voters.

But, a glut of candidates in a primary field can also complicate efforts by the national party to unite behind a single candidate early on -- thereby consolidating critical dollars and allowing the nominee to focus his or her fire on their general election opponent.

(Of course, following that logic, Obama would never have challenged presumptive frontrunner Hillary Rodham Clinton last year, choosing instead to wait an election or two until it was deemed "his turn" by party bosses.)

The impact of Obama's candidacy on future elections is only now starting to sort itself out but it's clear that in running (and winning) the president-elect has provided encouragement for aspiring candidate who might have previously been on the fence about taking a significant step upwards electorally.

Can any of the individuals mentioned above become the next Barack Obama? Time will tell.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 13, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , Senate , White House  
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Next: Hillary Clinton Re-Imagined

Comments

"I don't agree that it is a "more muscular version of Clinton's second term." No recent SoS has been "successful" with Israel, Iran or North Korea - although I agree that the Bush approach to Israel and the original approach to North Korea were awful."

But some have been better than others and have at least had some successes somewhere. A lot of Clintons focus was on European issues, specifically the Balkans and Ireland, but of which have been fairly successful to the point that neither is a top foreign policy issue today, while Clinton did have quite a few successes in the case of Israel, I'd argue collapsing because he went for too much too soon towards the end of his term moreso than due to a failure of the overall strategy.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 14, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Didn't we all say that we now have shattered the glass ceilings for non-males and non-whites and non-straights??

It seems that grouping people by gender and race is the epitome of bias and discrimination -- how do we get to a the next level -- where we vote for people based on their suitability for the office?

Am I the only one who thinks that the race/gender cards are divisive and unhealthy?

Posted by: newbeeboy | January 14, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"All about her talk and what she wanted to do (she was a far better SoS than NSA where she was totally incompetent), but what did she actually accomplish? Transformational diplomacy as she envisioned it is really a more muscular version of Clintons second term vision, so that's hardly innovative. Is getting diplomats to be fluent in two languages the highlight?"

I don't agree that it is a "more muscular version of Clinton's second term." No recent SoS has been "successful" with Israel, Iran or North Korea - although I agree that the Bush approach to Israel and the original approach to North Korea were awful. Rice's pushing to engage with Iran in July of last year was, I think, a good thing - and surprising given the position of Cheney. She tried similar things with North Korea and with Syria. Of course, there are some able people below Rice who has been doing much of the heavy lifting - David Welch, for example - but Rice had to work to let these become policy.

I wouldn't rank Rice among the most successful SoS, but she's done a lot more than buy shoes or get diplomats to speak more than English.

Posted by: Kili | January 13, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

She was poor but she was honest
Victim of a rich man's whim
When she met that Christian gentleman Big Jim Folsom
And she had a child by him.


Its the rich that git the glory
Its the poor that git the blame
Its the same whole world over
Its a low down dirty shame

Now the moral of this story
Is to never take a ride
With that Big Bad Christian Gentleman Big Jim Folsom
And you'll be a virgin bride.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 13, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

"Meek is playing with fire - and no doubt counting on Obama to strong arm the DNC and Sink into stepping aside."

If that's what he's counting on, it's a fool's errand; the President of the United States is not going to wade into primaries like that, especially not against significant elements of the party establishment; nothing good ever comes from that, and Obama's too smart to do it.

Posted by: SeanC1 | January 13, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

"On the world stage, its hard to come up with significant accomplishments; certainly the Annapolis meeting last year that was touted as the next step towards middle east peace didn't produce. There are still significant problems with North Korea, Iran & elsewhere. In that context, her performance as SoS was mediocre."

To be fair to Rice, if we judge SoS performance by progress made in the Middle East, pretty much every SoS in the last thirty years (since Cyrus Vance, and he wasn't even the central player in the Israel-Egypt talks) is a failure.

Posted by: SeanC1 | January 13, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"Rice operated under the Bush doctrine with the ill-conceived neocon policies, but she did some smart things with Transformational Diplomacy. Her focus on working towards regional solutions will undoubtedly be continued by SoS Clinton, and her requirement that diplomats become fluent in two foreign languages was long overdue."

We talking about Israel here? Pakistan? North Korea? Hmmmm....

All about her talk and what she wanted to do (she was a far better SoS than NSA where she was totally incompetent), but what did she actually accomplish? Transformational diplomacy as she envisioned it is really a more muscular version of Clintons second term vision, so that's hardly innovative. Is getting diplomats to be fluent in two languages the highlight?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 13, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Kili writes
"Rice operated under the Bush doctrine with the ill-conceived neocon policies, but she did some smart things with Transformational Diplomacy."

I think Sec Rice's most valuable contribution was holding the Cheney faction in check, probably by establishing a coalition of sorts with Sec Gates at the DOD. We probably won't ever learn what kinds of games were at play behind the scenes, certainly not anytime soon. In that regard, her accomplishments were both indispensible and invisible to us - and the result of her personal relationship with the President (which Sec Powell lacked), not of her diplomatic abilities. On the world stage, its hard to come up with significant accomplishments; certainly the Annapolis meeting last year that was touted as the next step towards middle east peace didn't produce. There are still significant problems with North Korea, Iran & elsewhere. In that context, her performance as SoS was mediocre.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"What has Rice accomplished, exactly?"

I remember that day she bought some really nice shoes.
-------

Don't Zouk out; you're more intelligent than that.

Rice operated under the Bush doctrine with the ill-conceived neocon policies, but she did some smart things with Transformational Diplomacy. Her focus on working towards regional solutions will undoubtedly be continued by SoS Clinton, and her requirement that diplomats become fluent in two foreign languages was long overdue.


Posted by: Kili | January 13, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

bsimon1 writes:
"Who are the oldest now serving? In the Senate Lugar & Specter on the R side come to mind; on the D side the gentlemen from Hawaii are both WWII vets."

Byrd (WV) is 91 and Lautenberg (NJ) is 84. There are lots of septuagenarians in the Senate including Bunning (KY), Grassley (IA), Feinstein (CA), Kennedy (MA), etc. On the other side, the youngest is Pryor (AR), I think, but Thune (SD), Klobuchar (yours), and Casey (mine) are close.

I think the youngest in the House is still the idiot from NC-10. And Dingell (MI) is 82.

It could be a cyclical thing. But from the few Reps/Sens I can remember getting elected in 1994, I don't remember a sea change in the median age of Congress.

Posted by: mnteng | January 13, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"What has Rice accomplished, exactly?"

I remember that day she bought some really nice shoes.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The "Obama Effect" should be in convincing black politicians that there is an alternative path to political power. Currently you run in a black district by pandering to black voters. All politicians win be pandering to their voters, but the more homogeneous your district the more your pandering is scary demagoguery to the general electorate and is the primary reason for the dearth of statewide black politicians. This is a situation any politician from a "safe district" must face. Safe seats are safe because they are philosophically homogeneous. Their majority of voters are an outlier of the larger statewide (or in Obama's case nationwide) voter population. The problem, a function of a long list of historical and cultural reasons, is simply more pronounced in black districts. The "Obama Effect" should be to educate young politicians that if you even remotely dream of statewide office, or of the Presidency, then use a "safe district" to win your first election but have a plan to broaden your appeal to a statewide audience and a statewide election.

Posted by: caribis | January 13, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"At State we have replaced integrity, accomplishment and performance with graft, nepotism and failure."

What has Rice accomplished, exactly?


Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 13, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Are the Republicans reduced to trying Jedi-mind tricks?

Dick Cheney's a sweet old codger.

Sarah Palin's a genius.

Bush and Rove compete to see who can read more books. Bush even reads Proust!

(Not quite sure if even Yoda could pull off the last one...the peals of laughter from coast to coast were pretty deafening.)

More on topic:

I hope Obama's success doesn't convince too many young and talented African American politicians to jump the gun prematurely.

Remember, if Obama had lost, he still had his Senate seat.

For someone like Artur Davis, whom I consider a real rising star, I'd hate to see him lose his House seat in his quest to become governor.

Posted by: Bondosan | January 13, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Remind me again why we should entrust these idiots with HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars just because they want to take advantge of this "opportunity", as Rham Emanuel put it?"

Because elections have consequences.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

mnteng writes
"The question may be whether the younger generation (Gen X) is more politically active and ambitious than the Boomers."

Or is it a cyclical thing? With the ebb and flow of power between parties in Congress, doesn't the average age also ebb and flow? i.e. in 1994 when the 'Gingrich Revolution' swept through Congress, the average age presumably dropped. Then, as incumbents enjoyed subsequent and successive reelections, the average age climbs again. Now, with two cycles of sweeping out the Rs in favor of Ds, has the average age dropped again? The four + expected retirements from the Senate on the R side are all by rather mature members of Congress - their replacements will likely contribute to a lower mean age.

Who are the oldest now serving? In the Senate Lugar & Specter on the R side come to mind; on the D side the gentlemen from Hawaii are both WWII vets.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 13, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse


everyone sounds so happy today !!!
NOT

This is America. You can aspire to be President of the United States.
Daddy doesn't have to buy it for you.
You don't have to have the mob in your back pocket.
Happy to be in America.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 13, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about this Operation Dipstick, but it sounds as if Operation Non Sequitur is off to a fine start. Mega-dittoes to us all!

Posted by: mattintx | January 13, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse


To do my part in getting this comment section over 50% on-topic posts ...

While BHO's victory may encourage minorities to take a chance on stepping up the electoral ladder, I fail to see why it would necessarily encourage younger candidates. WJC was 46 when he was elected in 1992 -- and that didn't seem to lead to a rash of younger candidates running for office. If anything, the median age of Congress has gotten higher in the last decade.

The question may be whether the younger generation (Gen X) is more politically active and ambitious than the Boomers.

Posted by: mnteng | January 13, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Meek should remember a certain name as he plans his ascendancy: Rep. Dave McCurdy (D)-OK. If he had stayed put instead of running for Senate, he had a good shot at being Speaker...instead he lost and went on to becoming a lobbyist.
Related: SoonerThought's final post: http://soonerthought.blogspot.com/2009/01/soona-hopeful-beginning-and-end-of-anti.html

Posted by: soonerthought | January 13, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Wait and see if this leads to an "asian mother" effect starting among the parents of black politicians.
"What's wrong with you, son? My son just wants to be a local alderman? Here in America with a black president? Look at that Meeks son over in Florida. That Kendrick is running for Senate. Or Artur Davis, trying to be governor! They're making their families proud while you shame us by remaining a lowly alderman! What are we supposed to say to them at the DNC? Why did God curse us with such an irresponsible child? We didn't fight for your civil rights for you to repay us by becoming an alderman!"
...if that happens it would be the real shaking up of American politics. We'd be flooded with candidates and start doing primaries 6 years in advance!

Posted by: theamazingjex | January 13, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Operation Dipstick in full swing...

We'll find no greater example of what happens when the government runs any non-military operation that requires coordination, business acumen, technical skill, financial management and inventory control than we've seen in the "digital transition." In this arena, the government has once again made the Three Stooges look like the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.


After the broadcast industry spent billions in technical costs and on-air inventory to run a huge amount of FCC-required PSA's, many in Congress, along with President-Elect Obama, want to push back the transition date:


The Obama team decided to push for a delay after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department, said Monday it had hit a $1.34 billion funding limit set by Congress to pay for converter box coupons.


Once again, human nature wasn't taken into account in the planning of "Operation Digital Dipstick." The government, in its infinite wisdom, assumed that every converter box coupon sent out would be redeemed, and, as it turns out, they were way off.

What remains to be seen is how the money put toward the non-redeemed coupons is accounted for - or if it's accounted for at all. It's only your money, so who cares?

http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/government_incompetence_presen.html


Remind me again why we should entrust these idiots with HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars just because they want to take advantge of this "opportunity", as Rham Emanuel put it? The GOP members of Congress should fight this madness at every turn and prevent Obama and his Democrat cronies from stealing our prosperity for the next 50 years.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 13, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

It's not that black Democratic Party candidates are now more likely to run for political office because they think that voters are now more fair-minded re. race, it's because they saw the Main Stream Media's kid-gloove treatment of BLACK DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA, and think that they'll get a free ride also. Consitering the MSM's love affair with Obama because he was politically correct--i e black and well-spoken--any non-black running against any black candidate in the Democratic Party, has two strikes against him/her before they start. Small wonder then a lot of black Democrats are now thinking of running for higher office.

Posted by: armpeg | January 13, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The new Congress has just been sworn in, and already one Congressman has started campaigning for a Senate seat in 2012. That's just wrong. We need some limit on when campaigns can start, to ensure that our elected officials spend some time actually doing their jobs.

Posted by: Blarg | January 13, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The 2010 Florida Dem primary will be a major test of Obama's power. Alex Sink has been set up to run down here for years, and has statewide support and name recognition as being the only Dem (she was elected, not appointed) in GOPer Crist's cabinet.

Meek is playing with fire - and no doubt counting on Obama to strong arm the DNC and Sink into stepping aside.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | January 13, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather go shooting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy.

Posted by: AbolhassanBaniSadr | January 13, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is an unusual person: very sensible, very measured, very trustworthy. No wonder he has been entrusted with so many sensitive government positions. He is a calm person, and he has a calming effect on others. He is the kind of man you want in public service — party or partisanship quite aside.

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking a little about Dick Cheney’s image. This stems from a lunch a group of us had with him last week (and I wrote about it here). Cheney is an unusual person: very sensible, very measured, very trustworthy. No wonder he has been entrusted with so many sensitive government positions. He is a calm person, and he has a calming effect on others. He is the kind of man you want in public service — party or partisanship quite aside.

↓ Keep reading this article ↓


McCarthy: ‘The Right Man’ to Protect Us from Terror?

Nordlinger: When up is down, &c.

Editors: Roll up the TARP

Hoekstra: Our Broken CIA and the Death of Innocents

Lopez: ‘Creepy Times’

Lowry: Ten Bush Mistakes

Sowell: Pretty Talk and Ugly Realities

Charen: Quit Digging

Editors: Transcendence on the Bench

Dunphy: Crime and Parenting

Hemingway: Remembering Strom Thurmond

Franc: Soak the Rich?

Murdock: Split Up and Sell Off Fan and Fred

Steyn: The ‘Oldest Hatred’

Owens: Brute Force

Hanson: Obama: The Great American Hope?



In the course of our lunch, he said that the recent Democratic victory was “part of the normal cycle of a competitive two-party system,” and “fundamentally healthy for the nation.” He also talked about how wondrous it was to swear in the first black president.

And what is his widespread image? He is a kind of Dr. Evil to people, although, unlike the Austin Powers one, not a comical Dr. Evil. He is a right-wing menace, a scourge of civil liberties, a Torquemada. This is absolutely perverse.

And what of President Bush’s image — at least one aspect of it? They say that he is less than bright: that he is stupid. And stupid is the last thing President Bush is. Call him willful, call him stubborn, call him petulant or cussed or difficult. Stupid, he is not.

Consider one more public figure: Sarah Palin. I keep hearing and reading, in various quarters, that she is a “bimbo.” That is the word I hear about her, rather a lot: “bimbo.” This is a woman, of course, who has been married since her early 20s. She and her husband, Todd, have five children. Sarah is governor of her state; Todd works in the oil fields. From what anyone can tell, they delight in each other, and in their family. They seem almost an advertisement for monogamy: for the married life. And yet people say “bimbo.”

In a nation full of bimbos, Governor Palin is one of the few who aren’t.

J nord

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 13, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

SELECTIVE APPLICATION OF ANTI-TERRORISM MEASURES: "THE OBAMA EFFECT"?

PLEA TO OBAMA: CANCEL RISKY, RECKLESS 'SITTING DUCK' TRAIN STUNT


• What happened to Homeland Security warnings of "heightened risk" during Presidential transition?

• How about the late November FBI warning about possible Northeast train station attacks?

• "Amtrak Joe" Biden's longstanding warnings about security flaws along the Amtrak Northeast corridor -- why isn't he waving this whistle stop tour to a halt?

READ THIS LINK AND MAKE IT VIRAL.


http://my.nowpublic.com/world/plea-obama-cancel-risky-reckless-sitting-duck-train-stunt

OR (if link is DEACTIVATED or corrupted):

http://My.NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | January 13, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Apparently led Ken Blackwell to think he could chair the RNC. Although he'd be a lot more convincing if he'd posted double digit numbers in Cleveland.

Posted by: davidscott1 | January 13, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Change you can believe in:

At State we have replaced integrity, accomplishment and performance with graft, nepotism and failure.

Good Start Messiah!

Posted by: king_of_zouk | January 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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