Non-presidential election years like 2014 can be tough for Democrats who have tended to do better in years when more voters turn out. Will 2014 be better? A lot is at stake for Democrats on the national level with the Republicans pushing to take over the US Senate and keep control of the House. The New York Times published a 2014 Senate Landscape Analysis on 3/2/2014 breaking down the upcoming Senate races.
Senators serve for six years. The current makeup of the US Senate is 53 Democrats and 2 Independents who vote with them, and 45 Republicans. Republicans need 6 more Senators to get the majority and flip the Senate. The New York Times analysis shows 34 continuing Democrats and 30 continuing Republicans. Of the seats up for election in 2014 they count 6 solid Democratic seats and 5 leaning Democratic. They count 12 solid Republican seats and 1 leaning Republican. And in the middle there are 12 states that could “flip” and go either way.
Here is a list of the 12 state races that the New York Times analysis says could go either way:
North Carolina – Democratic Senator Kay Hagan
West Virginia – open seat, Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller retiring
Arkansas – Democratic Senator Mark Pryor
Iowa – open seat, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin retiring
Montana – open seat, Democratic Senator Max Baucus resigned to be Ambassador to China
South Dakota, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson retiring
Colorado – Democratic Senator Mark Udall
Michigan – open seat, Democratic Senator Carl Levin retiring
Louisiana – Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu
Alaska -Democratic Senator Mark Begich
Kentucky – Republican Mitch McConnell
Georgia - open seat, Republican Saxby Chambliss retiring
As the New York Times notes, the Koch Brothers are already spending lavishly to try to tip as many Senate seats to the Republicans as possible. They are spending millions in advertising in key states through their PAC, Americans for Prosperity.
The article says that Americans for Prosperity is pursuing
“…its overarching goal of convincing Americans that big government is bad government. As the group emerges as a dominant force in the 2014 midterm elections, spending up to 10 times as much as any major outside Democratic group so far, officials of the organization say their effort is not confined to hammering away at President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They are also trying to present the law as a case study in government ineptitude to change the way voters think about the role of government for years to come.
“We have a broader cautionary tale,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. “The president’s out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is.”
Leaders of the effort say it has great appeal to the businessmen and businesswomen who finance the operation and who believe that excess regulation and taxation are harming their enterprises and threatening the future of the country. The Kochs, with billions in holdings in energy, transportation and manufacturing, have a significant interest in seeing that future government regulation is limited.
Democrats say their own research has shown that voters are skeptical about candidates who benefit from political spending by superrich businessmen with an antigovernment ideology.
“The notion that two billionaires are bankrolling Republican candidates because they support an agenda that is good for the Koch brothers and bad for middle-class families is very persuasive to voters,” said Matt Canter, the deputy executive director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The Koch Brothers are pushing for what is good for the Koch Brothers, not what is good for America per se. They are concerned about profits, their bottom line, whereas our democratic government is concerned with the human rights of the citizens of our country. Basic human rights are concerned with political, cultural, economic, social and civil rights. These rights include such things as the right to food, clean water and clean air, the right to have a job to support yourself, the right to an education, the right to shelter, right to security, right to physical and mental health, the right to be free and not a slave or indentured servant, the right to equal protection under the law and much more.
The Koch Brothers and the Republicans these days support the libertarian philosophy that puts the rights of corporations and making money over basic human rights. The Kochs are not talking about clean water or everyone having equal access to an education or healthcare. They are talking about the government being as small as possible and not regulating businesses but letting them do whatever they want to accumulate wealth in a free market economy. They have been very successful at this as wealth inequality has been steadily increasing in our country as middle income and lower income wages have flattened out while profits and income from our economy has been accumulating in the hands of fewer and fewer.
It is only a matter of time before the economy collapses as fewer and fewer Americans have money to buy the products and services being marketed by the corporations. The current system is unsustainable. The only question for the public is when they will wake up and see that the libertarian philosophy and economic policies are not in their interests and vote the Republicans out of office and move back to supporting the Democratic policies that emerged out of the Great Depression and the Great Society that put their priority on helping people, not corporations and the few who are hoarding the wealth of America.
The infamous Koch Brothers have entered the 2012 Washington State Governor’s race. Surprise – they are supporting Republican Rob McKenna. McKenna is running against former Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee.
On Thursday, October 18, 2012, Americans for Prosperity, based in Arlington filed a C6 with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission that they were spending $27, 985 on a radio ad supporting Rob McKenna.
Wikipedia notes that:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is an American conservative political advocacy group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. AFP’s stated mission is “educating citizens about economic policy and mobilizing citizens as advocates in the public policy process.” The group played a major role in the Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the House of Representatives, and has been called “one of the most powerful conservative organizations in electoral politics.”
Sourcewatch writes that:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a group fronting special interests started by oil billionaire David Koch and Richard Fink (a member of the board of directors of Koch Industries). AFP has been accused of funding astroturf operations but also has been fueling the “Tea Party” efforts. AFP’s messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Koch Family Foundations and the Koch’s other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. AFP was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and has crusaded against international climate talks.
So far the spending by Americans for Prosperity is small potatoes in this state but this could quickly change. Kirby Wilbur, the Washington State Republican Party Chair, was the state coordinator for Americans for Prosperity in 2010 and they successfully dumped money into last minute mailers against Democratic legislators who did not have sufficient time to respond to the last minute mailers. They are spending lots of money nationally and are doing it without disclosing their donors. This needs to change in disclosure laws.
As the Guardian in a just released articles states:
Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party-aligned group part-funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, is building a state-of-the-art digital ground operation in Ohio and other vital battleground states to spread its anti-Obama message to voters who could decide the outcome of the presidential election.
The group hopes that by creating a local army of activists equipped with sophisticated online micro-targeting tools it will increase its impact on moderate voters, nudging them towards a staunchly conservative position opposed to President Obama’s economic and healthcare policies. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is spending tens of millions of dollars developing its local strategy, already employing more than 200 permanent staff in 32 states. …
AFP has already spent $30m so far this election cycle in opposing President Obama and other prominent Democratic candidates and their policies. It says it aims to reach up to 9 million targeted voters in crucial swing states, through the efforts of its 2 million activists.
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