NC/IN primaries: The morning after

The race to the nomination has just gotten a lot tougher for Hillary Clinton. In light of her trouncing in NC last night, and her squeaker win in IN (and has she really won IN?), her “popular vote” argument to the superdelegates looks less and less like a plausible one …. unless Florida and Michigan are included in the mix, and it looks like for Clinton and Co, that’s what it will boil down to:

The campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has begun urging party officials and news organizations to include the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations when figuring the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.

That unorthodox approach could put her in striking distance of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) over the next month.

Harold Ickes, Clinton’s chief delegate strategist, said in a telephone interview that the senator is likely to finish the primary and caucus season on June 3 “substantially less than 100 delegates behind” Obama’s total if those two states are included.

“We don’t believe that this party is going to go forward into a presidential race without seating both Florida and Michigan” Ickes said.

But the Democratic National Committee had declared those delegates should not be counted as punishments to the states for moving their contests so soon in the process.

So Clinton’s argument depends on the actions of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee when it meets May 31 to consider pro-Clinton challenges that would seat those delegations.

Clinton’s new magic number to clinch the nomination is 2,209 delegates, compared to the 2,025 that would be needed without Florida and Michigan.

I think even if the candidates/DNC were to come to an agreement regarding how to handle the Florida and Michigan mess, you’re still looking at a case where Obama clearly has strong momentum, no matter how the remaining primaries turn out. Obama was supposed to lose Indiana a little more decisively than he did, and is already laying the groundwork for blaming his loss in IN on Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos” – implying that without Republican voters crossing over to vote for Hillary that he would have won a state that supposedly has very similar demographics to PA and OH, both states of which are Hillary strongholds. He could make a credible case to the superdels that he has survived the Rev. Wright controversy and come out with only minimal damage. Hillary’s options, on the other hand, are dwindling to the point where even some Clinton aides are conceding that the future for her cash-strapped campaign does not look good.

And while many Republicans are experiencing schadenfreude over the big split taking place within the Dem party, prominent GOP’ers have a warning for the party: We need to get a message, or November will be a disaster:

Shellshocked House Republicans got warnings from leaders past and present Tuesday: Your party’s message isn’t good enough to prevent disaster in November, and neither is the NRCC’s money.

The double shot of bad news had one veteran Republican House member worrying aloud that the party’s electoral woes — brought into sharp focus by Woody Jenkins’ loss to Don Cazayoux in Louisiana on Saturday — have the House Republican Conference splitting apart in “everybody for himself” mode.

“There is an attitude that, ‘I better watch out for myself, because nobody else is going to do it,'” the member said. “There are all these different factions out there, everyone is sniping at each other, and we have no real plan. We have a lot of people fighting to be the captain of the lifeboat instead of everybody pulling together.”

In a piece published in Human Events, the Republicans’ onetime captain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, warned his old colleagues that they face “real disaster” on Election Day unless they move immediately to “chart a bold course of real reform” for the country.

And in a closed-door session at the Capitol, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told members that the NRCC doesn’t have enough cash to “save them” in November if they don’t raise enough money or run strong campaigns themselves.


Cole, on the defensive in the wake of special election losses in Louisiana and Illinois, pointed his finger Tuesday at his Republican colleagues, telling them that they had been too stingy in helping fund party efforts. He also complained that the Republicans ran weak candidates in both Louisiana and Illinois — a charge Cole made despite the fact that, as NRCC chairman, he could have played a major role in choosing the party’s candidates if he hadn’t made the decision to stay out of GOP primaries.

In his meeting with members, Cole distributed a document showing that even former Republican political guru Karl Rove had badmouthed Jenkins, according to GOP sources. It’s not clear whether Cole meant it as a criticism of Rove or of Jenkins.

But Cole’s overall message was clear, said members who sat through the meeting: “If you’re not out doing your own work, and you’re waiting for the NRCC to come in at the last minute and save you, it ain’t gonna happen.” That’s how one lawmaker characterized Cole’s talk, adding that the NRCC is “not going to have the resources” to help all members “and Democrats will have a lot more money.”

Republicans are suffering a crisis of confidence after the two special election losses. There’s talk that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and other GOP leaders could be ousted if the party suffers double-digit losses in November.

Um, after we got our behinds handed to us in 2006, wasn’t that the time to really shake up the Republican leadership both in Congress and the national party leaders? The fact that the party is only just now threatening leadership positions “if” we lose by double digits in the fall goes a long way towards demonstrating the fact that a year and a half after the GOP soundly lost the majority in Congress that many in the party still don’t get it.

In local election news, it’s not official yet but state officials are saying it’s very likely that the NC voter turnout yesterday was a record, but even at that not as high as was anticipated.

Charlotte Mayor (and moderate Republican) Pat McCrory won the Republican gubernatorial nomination with 46% of the vote against Fred Smith and will face Democrat Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue in the general election. Other results: Democrat Nick Mackey, who made headlines earlier this year and late last year when it was discovered that he tried to steal the Meck. County election for sheriff, defeated incumbent Drew Saunders and now has a serious shot of being elected in the fall to represent District 99 in the NC House. Mackey was also a factor in a local Meck. County commissioners race, which saw Democrat school board member Vilma Leake win District 2 over incumbent commissioner Norman Mitchell. Mitchell was critical of Mackey during the whole sheriff’s election controversy, and did not support him.

The one bright spot in local politics yesterday was Republican Robert Pittenger’s Lt. Gov. nomination victory. Should he go on to win the race for Lt. Gov., he’d be a nice compliment to a moderate Republican like McCrory (should he get elected Governor) and would help balance the overt liberalism of Perdue, should she get elected.

Back to the national election front, and last but not least, I leave you with the LA Times Top of the Ticket blog’s analysis of the faces of Bill and Hillary Clinton in victory and defeat. They say a picture can speak a thousand words, and the photos referenced indeed just about say it all.

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