Senate Democrats Catch Two Lucky Breaks

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is probably breathing a sigh of relief  after getting two bits of good news today.

First: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who was being considered for the Secretary of Energy position in the Trump Administration, announced that he would be remaining in the Senate.  Former Texas governor Rick Perry wound up getting the top job in the government agency he wanted to eliminate as a 2012 presidential candidate but couldn’t name. (Here’s video of the infamous “Oops” moment which derailed his candidacy.)

Second: Donald Trump chose Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for Secretary of Interior. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL who just finished his first term in the House of Representatives, was considered a serious challenger for Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester’s 2018 reelection campaign.  Political observers weighed in on this development via Twitter:

Tom Perez Likely to Enter the Fray for DNC Chairman

Politics1 is reporting that outgoing Secretary of Labor Tom Perez will enter the race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee:

No other news organization has confirmed this as of this writing.  If this reporting is accurate, Perez would presumably have to resign from his cabinet position in the immediate future so he can begin the process of campaigning for the DNC job.

Politico reported earlier today that Perez had stepped up his outreach to voting members of the DNC in recent days, though their story notes he was still considering a possible run for governor in Maryland in 2018 as well. Perez is “expected to hold a call with DNC members this week to discuss his intentions.”

Keith Ellison is seen as the frontrunner in the race now because of the number of endorsements he has racked up and the very public campaigning he has been doing for the job since the election last month.  The other candidates in the race as of this writing are New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley and South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison. Perez could potentially be Ellison’s biggest challenger, given his proximity to President Obama and the fact that he was considered as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton this past election, although the potential downside to his candidacy is the risk of the DNC chairman race becoming a revisited proxy war for the Clinton-Sanders 2016 primary battle.  Politico also noted that NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue is still considering entering the race as well.

The schedule for those campaigning for chairman and vice-chairman positions has stepped up recently, following recent events organized by Young Democrats of America in Memphis and the Ohio Democratic Party in Columbus where the candidates could speak and make their arguments.   The campaigning will step up in the new year, when the DNC has scheduled four regional forums across the country for the candidates to make their case to Democrats ahead of the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta where the new chairman and vice-chairs will be chosen, scheduled for the end of February.

UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting Perez has told three senior Democrats that he intends to run for DNC chairman.

Tim Ryan Considering Run for Ohio Governor

Coming off his failed attempt at toppling Nancy Pelosi in the House Democratic leadership, Rep. Tim Ryan (R-Ohio) is flirting with possibility of running for governor of his home state in 2018 when the seat will be vacant because of term limits on incumbent Republican governor John Kasich.  According to Politico:

“Everyone says ‘He never runs … he flirts,’” he said at the Capitol on Thursday. “Well, you know, we got slaughtered in 2010 when the speaker wanted me to be lieutenant governor with [Ted] Strickland and then they wanted me to run for Senate last time. I was glad I didn’t do any of that.”

A decision about 2018 will similarly be based on his gut — and the economy under a Donald Trump presidency and Republican rule in Ohio.

“That’s the gamble everyone has to try to make,” he said. “Evaluate and try to anticipate as best you can and then once you decide to go, you just go, run hard.”

Ryan says he’s been getting recruitment calls and texts since his failed effort to oust Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic House leader, a bid that his detractors argued was about positioning himself for higher office in Ohio. He declined to give a timeframe for a decision — “I don’t want to put myself in a box,” he said — but suggested he’d “step away from everything for a couple weeks” and then reevaluate.

Other rumored Democrats interested in running to succeed Kasich include Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Richard Cordray, the director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who may be out of a job in a few weeks after the new administration takes office, former state representative Connie Pillich, former congresswoman Betty Sutton, and former state senator Joe Schiavoni.

On the Republican side, the Columbus Dispatch points out that all six Republicans elected to statewide executive office are term-limited out of their current jobs. Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor are all said to have aspirations for the governorship.

Possible Nelson v. Scott Florida Senate Race in 2018

Incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson recently confirmed to CNN that he would be running for a fourth term in 2018. Nelson has the benefit of seniority in the Senate, as well as the fact that his previous two reelections (2006 and 2012) were in very favorable cycles, as was the case for Senate Democrats in general who were elected or re-elected in those years.

One potential Republican who is interested in running for the seat is Governor Rick Scott, who is term-limited from running again for governor in that same year. Scott would enter the Republican field with the advantages of name-recognition, fundraising, networking, as well as the fact that he has already won two consecutive statewide races. On top of all of that, he was an early supporter of Donald Trump, who would presumably campaign heavily on his behalf in the midterms if he chooses to run for Senate.

If this is the matchup for November 2018, Florida will be a long and very expensive race.

Inside the Clinton White House

For Democrats nostalgic for the 1990s a month after Hillary Clinton’s election loss, Russell L. Riley’s Inside the Clinton White House: An Oral History was just released.  Check out the writeup from the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Rahm Emanuel Rules Out Interest in DNC Chairmanship, 2020 Presidential Run

Rahm Emanuel – the mayor of Chicago and one of the architects of the Democrats’ big wins in the 2006 election as one of Nancy Pelosi’s top lieutenants – told the Chicago Tribune that he would not be running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Emanuel was in Washington D.C. for several days last week. At a panel organized by the Brookings Institution, he described the nation’s capital as “Disneyland on the Potomac,” after which he apologized because “I don’t want to insult Disneyland.”

The kicker: according to The Hill, Emanuel was at a bar when political consultant Neil Hare asked if he would run for president in 2020. Emanuel responded by giving him the middle finger twice, prompting laughter from others at the bar who witnessed it, including the reporter who broke the story.

Jaime Harrison Opposes Rex Tillerson Nomination

A few hours after the DNC Forum in Ohio, Democratic National Committee chairman candidate Jaime Harrison issued this statement:

“Putin and his henchmen helped Donald Trump win the election, and it appears that the nomination of Putin pal Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State is Trump’s way of saying ‘spasiba.’ The Senate must act in the U.S. national interest and say ‘nyet.’”

The subject of Tillerson or the Trump cabinet in general did not come up during the forum.

For those who skipped Russian in school, “spasiba” means “thank you,” and “nyet” means “no.”