Party leaders worry that Rep. Steve King, an anti-immigration hard-liner who wants to run in Iowa, would be a great primary candidate but a mismatch in a state that supported President Obama twice. Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has all but begged King not to run.
Two loose cannons are considering a run in Georgia, too: Reps. Paul Broun (who accused Obama of following the Soviet constitution), and Phil Gingrey (who defended Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment). Either could lose to a credible Democratic opponent.
The GOP has a wealth of winnable races that could give it the Senate majority — but also a collection of not-ready-for-prime-time candidates.
Microtargeting Grassroots lobbying is almost as old as politics. But one company has flipped that idea by helping organizations locate people who actually know the lawmakers they're trying to influence. RAP Index uses Web-based software to identify employees, members, and other stakeholders who know policymakers. It then assesses their willingness to advocate on a client's behalf. "We're digging into the data and finding "¦ social relationships that can be effectively used for policy advocacy," says Chip Felkel, the company's chief advocacy innovator. "It sure beats 10,000 e-mails or 5,000 faxes." The software, Felkel says, has identified people who grew up across the street from a governor, were married to a state senator, and attended a lawmaker's wedding. That's a little more personal than a form letter.
Buddy Comedy Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are tight — like, borderline-man-crush tight. Geithner and Baucus have talked weekly in recent years, and the two men and their wives celebrated Baucus's 71st birthday together in December. So after President Obama tapped Jacob Lew as Geithner's successor, the friends took Lew to dinner at Tosca, the posh Italian restaurant downtown, to pass the torch. The word is that Lew and Baucus now plan to talk weekly. We hope Geithner doesn't get jealous.
No New National Pastime
If anything would make a football fan get up from the La-Z-Boy, you'd think it would be a chance to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. But a week after the Fantasy Football website 4for4.com placed a petition for a post-Super Bowl holiday on the White House's We the People site, only 10,986 supporters had signed on. That's a long way from the 100,000 the Obama administration requires before it officially responds to a petition. And while the idea has garnered more endorsements than most on the site, it badly trails "Restrict pay for all Senators and Congress to $75,000 for a period of 3 years to repay the National deficit" (51,591 signatures as of Thursday); "Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal" (47,596); and "Make the Metric system the standard in the United States, instead of the Imperial system" (37,361). At least the Super Bowl holiday petition beat out this one: "Remove Congressmen Paul Broun From The United States House Committee On Science, Space, And Technology," which had 10,194 signatures.