Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fifteen Days In June

Ready for the summer? Well hold on because the next 15 days will be key to determining the shape of the presidential race.

First up is Jeb Bush. The smart one. The able one. The one who thinks through his actions before taking them. The one with the long-term policy proposals that are not exactly aligned with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. The one who is daddy's favorite.

The one whose brother absolutely ruined the Bush name. Dang.

Jeb is not a bad candidate and he's making an effort to separate himself from George W. The extent to which he can do that will determine whether he successfully fends off more base-friendly candidates like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Right now, it looks like many Republicans are wary and might be looking elsewhere. If Jeb can raise enough money and scare off some other candidates, he can win, but he'll have to convince many right wing voters of his commitment to their cause.

Governor Chris Christie is also getting ready to announce his run fresh off a victory courtesy of a New Jersey State Supreme Court ruling in his favor on the landmark state worker's pension and benefits bill he negotiated with the Democratic legislature in 2011. He's running on his ability to work with the opposite party, but the problem is that he's repudiated his own law and the court ruled it to be unconstitutional. Now the Democrats have sworn not to negotiate further with him. Will he mention any of this?

Of course not. Christie will shamelessly repeat that he can work with Democrats, but that train has left the station. Plus, he has the Bridgegate scandal to answer to and a problem making himself stand out from the rest of what will probably be a 15 candidate field. His first job is to make sure that he's polling high enough to be included in the first GOP debate in August. He's good in debates and in front of crowds, so I wouldn't count him out yet. But he's got a tough race ahead of him.

Hillary Clinton also began her push for the presidency yesterday. She gave a good speech and is clearly focusing on the middle class and income inequality. She's a bit farther to the left than her husband, but the Democratic Party is also more liberal these days. Her problem is similar to Jeb's in that we know a great deal about her and her past. She has a clearer road to the nomination, but she does need to be mindful about giving too much to the Sanders-Warren wing of the party.

And don't forget that we have two big Supreme Court decisions yet to be announced between now and June 30 on marriage equality and ACA subsidies. By July 1 we'll have a good idea of how the candidates will need to adjust their messages in light of whatever the court decides.

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