James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Senator Supply-Side?

Mar 9, 2010 14:59 UTC

Former Bear Stearns economist David Malpass is considering a run for US Senate in New York. If you believe in the wonder-working power of lower taxes, economic freedom and entrepreneurship, then you would probably find his candidacy an interesting one. The Washington Consensus, of course, is that spending cannot be cut so taxes must rise dramatically. Thus, Malpass would be a contrarian voice inside the Beltway.


Hopefully New York voters will embrace Malpass for his intelligence, as his style is pretty dry. Obama is the poster child for style over substance so maybe his political implosion will spark people to look a little deeper. It’s hard to have hope for New York voters who embraced Hillary Clinton, a carpet bagging phony.

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Zuckerman for Senate?

Mar 2, 2010 15:59 UTC

Heavens, a Mort Zuckerman bid for US Senate in New York would be great fun. Not a guy who loves to press the flesh, but supersmart and interested in getting things done. I just wonder if these CEOs who want to go to Washington fully realize how incredibly boring being a senator is.

Of course, he won’t have to spend loads of time raising money. So that helps. (One of the interesting nuggets from Game Change, the 2008 presidential campaign book, is just how much Hillary hated raising money.)  Disclaimer: I worked for Mr. Z  for a dozen years at U.S.News & World Report.

Bayh’s good-bye

Feb 16, 2010 14:14 UTC

A few thoughts on Evan Bayh’s stunning retirement announcement:

1) It helps move the prospect of a GOP Senate takeover from a fringe idea to consensus. Not there yet, but getting there.

2) Why does that matter? It could help nudge more Democrats to retire, particularly in the House and help Republicans recruit better candidates. (George Pataki in NY for US Senate?) And a big plus for Republican fundraising.

3) Forget talk about Bayh challenging Obama in 2012. Now, if Bayh was president with a lousy economy, then a challenge from the left (like Obama) might be a possibility. Intra-party centrist insurgencies are stuff of reporters’ imaginations.

4) A year ago, Dems thought they would gain seats in 2010. A few months ago, they thought they would hold the 60-seat supermajority or maybe lose a couple. Now a loss of seven seems quite reasonable.

5) Again, keep watching the unemployment rate and Obama’s approval rating. Washington insiders certainly are.

Illinois Senate race … meh

Feb 3, 2010 15:49 UTC

Illinois voters are not too thrilled with their choices for US Senate, according to Public Policy Polling:

I think one of the most striking things about last night’s Illinois primary results for Senate is how poorly both Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk closed.

In the December Chicago Tribune poll Giannoulias was at 31%, followed by Cheryle Jackson at 17%, and David Hoffman with 9%. There were 35% undecided. Giannoulias ended up with 39% to 34% for Hoffman and 20% for Jackson. That suggests that over the final seven weeks of the campaign Hoffman picked up more than 70% of those who had been undecided to 23% for Giannoulias and less than 10% for Jackson. Not too impressive and you have to wonder how far Hoffman’s momentum would have carried him if he’d had another week or two.

Kirk didn’t do all that well as the campaign heated up either though. In that December survey he had 41% to 3% for Patrick Hughes and a total of 10% for the variety of lower tier candidates in the race. Based on the final results he appears to have picked up about 37% of the undecideds from that point on to 35% for Hughes and 28% for the assortment of less serious candidates. Given how little money any of his opponents were spending that’s not too impressive.


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