Gizzi on Politics: Clinton Power, DeMint’s Legacy, Illinois Intrigue; More

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013 03:16 PM

By John Gizzi

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Thirteen years after he moved out of the White House, Bill Clinton is universally regarded among the party faithful as “Mr. Democrat”— even more so than the current Democratic president.

A tireless campaigner at age 66, the 42nd president rarely declines a request to stump for, or at least endorse, a candidate, and is not shy about becoming involved in a contested primary.

Clinton backed former Lackawanna County, Pa., assistant prosecutor Kathleen Kane in a hotly contested primary for state attorney general last year, which she won handily on the way to a general election victory.

During his House Democratic primary win last year in Maryland, John Delaney’s TV ads trumpeted the legend “Endorsed by Bill Clinton,” before going on to win a Republican-held seat in November.

Clinton struck again last week, endorsing City Controller Wendy Greuel over City Councilman Eric Garcetti in the May run-off for mayor of Los Angeles. Both are Democrats.

DeMint’s Old Group on Warpath

Although Jim DeMint is out of the Senate and running the Heritage Foundation, the political action committee that the South Carolina Republican launched is going strong.

The Senate Conservatives Fund pointed out that while all 45 Republican senators voted to defund Obamacare, 20 of the 45 voted for the final resolution that contained the funding.

“As we expected, a large group of Republicans flip-flopped and helped the Democrats pass the legislation,” Matt Hoskins, executive director of the fund, wrote in a national fundraising letter.

Listing the 20 and highlighting the seven who are up for election next year, Hoskins charged that “they give lip service to conservative principles but won’t make real sacrifices to deliver for the American people.”

Hoskins singled out Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as one who offers “little hope that things in Washington will change” and proudly noted that “all eight of the senators SCF helped elected over the past two elections opposed the Obamacare funding bill, along with a majority of Republicans in the Senate.”

Intrigue in Illinois
Following the announcement by Tim Johnson of South Dakota that made him the fifth Democratic senator to step down in 2014, speculation immediately focused on who would be the sixth.

The next Democratic “no go” could well be Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois, who has yet to make a final decision on a re-election bid.

While Durbin has wavered — telling the Wall Street Journal last week that he is making preparations for another run — other Illinois politicians aren’t waiting for an official announcement.

In fact speculation regarding Durbin’s exit has been heightened by the recent actions of the Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, whose father Paul Simon held the same Illinois Senate seat for 12 years before retiring in favor of Durbin in 1996.

Having announced she would not run again with Gov. Pat Quinn, the 52-year-old Simon continues to raise campaign funds and will hold a major ($25 per person, $250 per host) event in her hometown of Carbondale on May 5.

Simon could also seek the seat of state attorney general should Lisa Madigan — herself the daughter of a Democratic powerhouse, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan — decide against seeking another term.

Rubio, Bush Down in Florida
For all of the heroic welcomes both received at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Florida Republicans Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are only faring “OK” at home.

A just-completed Public Policy Polling survey among likely voters statewide showed Sen. Rubio with approval ratings of only 44 percent and disapproval at 43 per cent — down from January, when the same poll had him at 49 percent approval and 36 percent disapproval.

Only 37 percent of Sunshine State voters feel the first-term senator should run for President in 2016, while 53 percent don’t think he should.

Former Gov. Bush, who last was on the ballot ten years ago, has a 50 percent to 37 percent approval-disapproval rating — steady from the 51 percent to 35 percent score he had in January in PPP's last survey.

But only 33 percent of Florida voters say that the brother and son of past presidents should himself run for the job in 2016, while 53 percent say he shouldn’t.

John Gizzi is the former political editor for Human Events, working for the conservative weekly from 1979 to 2013. Gizzi is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence, was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV talk shows.

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