Gizzi on Politics: Landrieu Challenge; Perry Primary; Amnesty Mel; More

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 02:52 PM

By John Gizzi

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The good news for three-term Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is that the Republican considered her strongest potential foe recently said “no thanks” to a race against her.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne indicated his interest was in running for governor in 2015, when GOP incumbent Bobby Jindal will be term-limited out of office.

The bad news is that two U.S. House members, Reps. John Fleming and Bill Cassidy, are seriously exploring the race. Both are physicians and considered strong conservatives.

Pile on Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry won’t say until this summer what his plans are for 2014, but the pile-on for the all-important Republican primary next year is already starting. Former state GOP chairman and Reagan administration official Tom Pauken said last week he’s running for governor, whether Perry runs or not.

Another potential GOP contender, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, has so far raised $18 million to Perry’s $6 million. Perry has held the governorship for 12 years, longer than any of his predecessors.

‘Amnesty Mel’

When he doubled as Republican National Committee Chairman five years ago, then-Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida was dubbed “Amnesty Mel” by RNC members who thought his support of a comprehensive Senate immigration package was a sell-out of the harder line they championed.

Now out of office since 2010, Martinez was back on Capitol Hill last week and he made it clear to reporters that though times may have changed on the immigration issue, his views haven’t.

“I think the climate is totally different than it was four years ago, five years ago,” Martinez told The Tampa Bay Times. “I think the statements from the RNC and Chairman [Reince] Priebus suggest a much better climate. But also border security has improved. The migration coming from Mexico today is not what it was. And, by the way, we’re experiencing some labor shortages again as we begin to grow our economy and housing comes back. There’s just a much better atmosphere.”

Moving Up in Georgia

With four Republican House members exploring or ready to jump in the primary to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, maneuvering has already begun for their possibly open House seats.

Should Rep. Tom Price make the race, his near-certain successor is former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who narrowly lost the GOP nod for governor in 2010.

In the 11th District, which Rep. Phil Gingrey is expected to leave for a Senate bid, the early GOP favorite is conservative state Sen. Barry Loudermilk. No Democrat is thought to have a chance at any open House district in the Peach State.

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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