Afternoon Fix: Huntsman allies land South Carolina operative

April 14, 2011

Jon Huntsman’s campaign-in-waiting has a South Carolina operative, The National Republican Congressional Committee narrowly outraised its Democratic counterpart in March, former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is running again, and Ron Paul is testing the waters.

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EARLIER ON THE FIX:

The case for Rick Santorum

Haley Barbour meets New Hampshire

Dark horses step up in West Virginia

Shelley Berkley running for Senate

Gail Gitcho signs on with Romney

Tim Pawlenty picks a pollster

FIRST ON THE FIX:

* Jon Huntsman's potential presidential campaign has landed longtime South Carolina political operative Chris Allen, who will work for Huntsman if the ambassador to China runs for president. Allen, who was John McCain's South Carolina political director and is a former aide to former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, would be working from the national office, though he would also be involved in the effort in the Palmetto State. "Jon Huntsman is the type of candidate who will appeal to a broad spectrum of voters in South Carolina and across the country," Allen said in a statement provided to The Fix. Veteran South Carolina strategist Richard Quinn has also joined Horizon PAC.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* House Democrats waited until the last possible second to vote on a resolution to keep the government funded for the rest of year, in order to force as many Republicans as possible to vote for the measure. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who earlier today distanced herself from the deal, ended up voting against it. Eighty-one Democrats ended up voting yes.

* Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) endorsed the just-announced Senate campaign of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) this morning, despite the fact that Berkley faces a well-funded primary opponent. Other highlights of her pen-and-pad included: Murray said she expects a candidate to emerge soon in the open seat race in Texas; she praised Rep. Chris Murphy in the open seat race in Connecticut but ignored his primary opponent, former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz; she said the committee won't endorse in New Mexico, even as Rep. Martin Heinrich is the only candidate so far; she said she is confident there will be no more retirements in the Democrats' 2012 Senate class.

* The National Republican Congressional Committee narrowly outraised its Democratic counterpart in March, $10.2 million to $9.9 million, and is the first national party committee this year to report more cash on hand than debt. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more for the entire first quarter ($19.6 million vs. $18.1 million) and is getting out of debt faster. The DCCC, which started out $9 million more in debt, now has the same debt figure — $8 million — as the NRCC. But the NRCC is banking more, with a $9 million to $4.6 million edge.

* Democrats unveiled their new pro-health care law organization, “Know Your Care,” at a press conference in Washington today. Their campaigns will include social media outreach, events around the country, and (if they can afford it) television and radio ads. Pollster John Anzalone argued that while public opinion on the legislation has barely budged for over a year, Medicare Part D started out similary controversial and now enjoys strong support. He said focusing on fixes in the law for Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse has been popular with seniors.

* Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has formed a “testing the waters” fundraising account. “He will have the ability to flip a switch and hit the ground running” should Paul choose to run for president again, Benton said, and the chances are about 60/40 that he will.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) is running in 2012 for the seat she lost last fall to Rep. Frank Guinta (R). Shea-Porter lost decisively in 2010, 54 percent to 43 percent, after two cycles of close calls.

* Retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold, who was the top officer on the USS Cole when it was bombed ten years ago, will run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). He’ll face former Senate candidate Sharron Angle in the Republican primary. It’s Lippold’s first campaign for public office, although he considered running for Senate in 2010.

* In an interview with Politico, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) called Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) “a model” for his own reforms. He said he might endorse in the presidential primary, and that "if governors, or candidates want to have a shot with support from me, they're going to have to be more than just a good campaign organization. They're going to have to have some meat behind their proposals to control government spending."

* In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, President Obama acknowledged that his 2006 vote against the debt limit was “political.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said earlier that he was “embarrassed” by his past politicization of the issue. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also thinks his 2004 ‘nay’ vote was “a mistake.” Presumably, Democrats will remember these mea culpas the next time a Republican is in the White House.

* Iowa‘s Republican-controlled legislature has approved a redistricting plan that hurts Republicans. The state is going from five down to four seats, and GOP Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham will be pitted against each other in the only safe Republican district. (Rep. Dave Loebsack is planning to move so that he will not face fellow Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.) One of the Republicans could run against Leonard Boswell (D), but it would be a much harder race. “We recognize that this is a fair plan,” said Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley during the vote. Rep. Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is expected to sign off on the map.

* Former Alaska govenor Sarah Palin will attend a tea party rally this weekend at the Wisconsin Capitol, the site of recent protests against Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican legislators and a battleground for ongoing fights over budget cuts and collective bargaining rights. The rally is on Saturday, starting at noon. Liberals are planning their own counter-rally.

THE FIX MIX:

Whatever we’re teaching our children these days, it’s not good:

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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