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With big fights on the budget looming, a group of GOP senators are pushing an ill-advised ‘defund Obamacare’ strategy. It isn’t a matter of whether Republicans will fight against implementation of the PPACA. It’s a matter of whether they’ll pick smart fights they have a chance of winning. Ed Morrissey makes the case against defunding the PPACA in this post:

Once again, the White House has chosen businesses over consumers and workers, in large part driven by the economic implications of the law it champions. So far, the White House refuses to budge on the individual mandate, even though the exchanges won’t be able to verify income levels to prevent fraudulent subsidy requests, nor secure the personal data needed for submission in the exchanges, putting consumers at risk for identity theft.

The administration doesn’t have much choice in this fight. If they cave on the individual mandate, they’ll be admitting that implementation of the PPACA is a slow-motion trainwreck happening in plain sight. There’s a time-tested political axiom that says, roughly, that ‘when your opponent is falling apart, it’s best to get out of the way and let them self-destruct.’

Ed’s right on with this opinion:

Democrats are simply not going to agree to separate ObamaCare funding from the rest of the budget, nor do they need to do so in the Senate. They have the votes to pass a budget or a CR without Rubio or any of the rest of the Republicans, since filibusters cannot apply to budgetary bills according to Senate rules. Rubio’s remarks are aimed more at the House, and both he and Cruz want to draw a line in the sand that will lead to a shutdown when Senate Democrats refuse to adopt any bills defunding ObamaCare.

I’ve agreed with the smarter approach from Day One. Apparently, Mitch McConnell is already there:

Americans should not be forced into the exchanges, and certainly not without these assurances. If you rush to go forward without adequate safeguards in place, any theft of personal information from constituents will be the result of your rush to implement a law to meet the agency’s political needs and not the operational needs of the people it is supposed to serve.

The data hub is a nightmare-waiting-to-happen. Republicans should push this as the reason why the individual mandate should be delayed. Here’s more on why that’s a potent argument:

After Obama unilaterally postponed enforcing the statutory deadline for the employer mandate, Republicans have argued that the individual mandate should also be delayed. The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin reported on McConnell’s demand to the CMS administrator for a delay, based on the inability of the selected contractor to ensure data security in the exchanges on time for the ACA’s October 1 rollout. “[J]ust last year,” McConnell wrote, “it was disclosed that more than 120,000 enrollees in the federal Thrift Savings Plan had their personal information, including Social Security numbers, stolen from your contractor’s computers in 2011.”

This is a potent argument, especially considering how worried people are about identity theft. Couple that with the IRS leaking confidential documents to political allies and it’s a political nightmare for Democrats waiting to happen.

There’s another benefit to delaying the PPACA. It keeps the issue alive through the mid-term election and into the presidential election cycle. That’s important because, though it’s called Obamacare, it’s really Hillary’s plan in many respects. Let’s remember that then-Candidate Obama criticized her for proposing the employer and individual mandates:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama expressed opposition to a mandate requiring all Americans to buy health care insurance. In a Feb. 28, 2008, interview on the Ellen DeGeneres show, Obama sought to distinguish himself from then-candidate Hillary Clinton by saying, “Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care.

“She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it,” Obama said. “So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t.”

Causing Hillary to defend the individual mandate would be fun to watch. In a very real sense, she’s got a Romney-sized problem in defending herself on the PPACA. Delaying the PPACA’s implementation keeps the issue on the table for people who aren’t well-equipped to defend it. As a conservative, that’s a position I want to operate from.

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Jonah Goldberg’s op-ed is the most well-thought-out argument for Republicans to trust their instincts about the PPACA. Here’s a healthy dose of Jonah’s thinking on the matter:

Republicans should have a little more confidence in their own arguments. If you believe that ObamaCare can’t work, you should expect that it won’t.

I haven’t found a single Republican, even amongst the RINOs, that thinks the PPACA will work. The number of people that’ll get hooked on their premium support payments isn’t equal to the number of people who’ll get upset about high premiums.

Make no mistake, either, about whether people will feel the pain from higher premiums. Nearly two-thirds of the states have refused to create state-run exchanges. People living in states that don’t run their exchanges aren’t eligible for federal premium support. They’ll be the hardest hit with premium increases.

When Sen. Lee and Sen. Cruz say that this might be the last opportunity to defund the PPACA, there’s no doubt that they sincerely believe that. I simply disagree with their opinion. Here’s why:

Once government expands, goes the theory, reversing that expansion is nearly impossible. Liberals have their own version. They point out that once Americans get an entitlement, Social Security, Medicare, etc., they never want to lose it. They hope that if they can just get Americans hooked on the goodies in ObamaCare, they’ll overlook all the flaws.

There’s a lot of truth here, to be sure. But it’s not an iron law either. Sometimes, bad laws get fixed. It happened with Medicare in 1989 and welfare reform in 1995. Many of the boneheaded laws of the early New Deal were scrapped as well.

Thinking that people will “overlook the flaws” is like believing unicorns and rainbows will suddenly appear. Anything’s possible but it isn’t likely.

Rather than shutting down government, Republicans should get out of the way and let America see that there’s a slow-motion trainwreck happening right before their eyes and that trainwreck is called the PPACA. Jonah’s final point might be the most powerful:

Forcing a debt crisis or government shutdown won’t kill ObamaCare, but it will give Democrats a lifeline heading into the 2014 elections, which could have the perverse effect of delaying the day Republicans have the political clout to actually succeed in repealing this unworkable and unpopular law.

I totally agree. I’d rather pick fights I can win rather than picking fights that feel good momentarily.

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As I write this, Republicans are playing the role they often play: that of the timid, unprincipled party. They’re doing a terrible job negotiating the immigration bill. It’s time for them to tell Sen. Schumer that there won’t be a bill unless the fence is built. Yesterday, Sen. Schumer lied through his teeth when he said that building a fence “might take years and years and years.” A double fence doesn’t take long to build once there’s a will to do it.

Republicans should run from this bill. Instead, they’re giving platitude-filled speeches on the subject:

Sen. Marco Rubio stayed away from specific immigration reform policies during a talk Thursday, reiterating that America must be recognized as an exemplary nation that welcomes those seeking freedom they don’t have in their home countries.

“What we have is special,” Rubio said. “Every single human life is worthy of the protection of our values. Who else will do it if not us?”

The Florida Republican also appealed to America’s religious heritage, asserting that as the “salt of the earth,” the United States has a duty to be compassionate to the less-fortunate.

That’s pretty sounding Unfortunately, that isn’t what’s needed. What’s needed is for Republicans to tell Sen. Schumer that the bill isn’t going anywhere without guaranteed border security. If Sen. Schumer replies that it’s impossible to do with this bill, Republicans’ response should immediately be that it’s never impossible to build things like fences.

If Republicans vote for this immigration bill, they’ll be the minority party for a generation. They will have shown themselves to be as unprincipled as Democrats. Not as corrupt but as unprincipled.

At this point, they aren’t engaged in negotiations. They’re engaged in taking orders from Sen. Schumer. They’re frightened that the media and the DNC will paint them as mean-spirited, rigid ideologues. They shouldn’t worry about that. Democrats will paint them that way regardless of what happens.

As for Sen. Rubio, he should be ashamed. If he asserted himself on the fence, he’d win that negotiation. He isn’t asserting himself, which is why Republicans appear to be on the verge of signing onto another bad bill. If he doesn’t assert himself on that specific issue, he’ll never be president.

The bottom line is that no bill is better than a bill that doesn’t build a fence. The bottom line is that Republicans hurt themselves when they’re seen as being unprincipled. That’s what they look like now.

John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.

First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.

Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.

Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.

This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.

Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.

Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.

Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.

President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.

With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.

Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.

GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.

Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.

President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.

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Ralph Benko’s op-ed is the perfect counterargument to Michael Tomasky’s silly column, which I wrote about here. Benko didn’t waste time in highlighting the flaw in Tomasky’s logic:

Liberals do not grasp the distinction between Ronald Reagan and (either) George Bush. This blind spot creates a massive confusion and hazard to their ambitions. Obama defeated neither the Reagan Narrative nor Team Reagan. Team Bush appropriated, and then marginalized, both. Obama beat Team Bush, not Team Reagan. The implications are huge.

This post isn’t about trashing Karl Rove or the Bush family. Frankly, that’s a waste of time when there’s important things to be done. Instead, it’s about identifying underlying principles undergirded President Reagan’s policies. Mr. Benko is spot on with this analysis:

Real conservatives saw Reaganomics as a way of creating broad-based opportunity, not as catering to the rich. It worked out exactly that way in America and throughout the world. The blossoming of free market principles, especially low tax rates and good money, brought billions of souls out of poverty, from subsistence to affluence.

Several things worked together to make America infinitely more prosperous during Reagan’s time than during President Obama’s time in office. First, the dollar was much stronger than during President Obama’s time in office. That’s partially because President Reagan’s domestic energy policy was infinitely more robust than President Obama’s. The less money we needlessly ship money overseas for oil, the stronger the dollar is. Our trade deficit shrunk, too.

The new conservative Republican leaders are strikingly formidable. The leaders of the new generation, like Reagan, and Kemp, before them (and Kennedy still earlier), all recognize the power of the “rising tide lifts all boats”.

It isn’t a stretch to think that conservatives like John Kasich, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio will re-ignite the Reagan Revolution. Each of these men have spotless conservative credentials, which is why they fire up the base in ways Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t.

When President Bush won in 2004, he got 62,000,000 votes. McCain got fewer votes than President Bush. Mitt got fewer votes than Sen. McCain. Had Paul Ryan been at the top of the ticket, however, it isn’t a stretch to think he would’ve topped President Bush’s vote total.

That’s because he’s the spitting image of Reagan. The Reagan Revolution was fueled by a glut of great ideas. A Ryan Revolution would be powered by the same thing. Most importantly, he’d talk conservatism like his native language. This isn’t an attempt to trash Mitt. It’s simply stating the obvious. He just didn’t prosecute the case against President Obama the way Ryan would have.

President Bush’s spending turned conservatives off because he had a Republican House and Senate much of the time. President Reagan’s spending was done, in part, because he had to rebuild the military after President Carter gutted it, partly because Tip O’Neill controlled the House.

Everything President Reagan fought for was targeted towards creating prosperity. He didn’t back away from a fight, either. When PATCO went on strike, he fired them because they broke federal law. When Tip O’Neill accused him of not caring about the average working Joe, Reagan responded mightily. His temper flaring, he marched back to the podium, then said, essentially, that he’d made his money because he’d worked hard, then adding that it wasn’t given to him.

It’s a fight Mitt Romney backed away from too often in his attempt to win over women voters or independents. It’s a fight the next generation of conservatives will fight with vigor.

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It’s obvious that Ryan Winkler is either the most ignorant, loud-mouthed DFL legislator or he’s totally dishonest. Rep. Winkler tweeted this during Thursday night’s speeches:

First time tuning in to RNC. Romney speech seems fine but it occurs to me GOP wants to go back to Founders: white, male property owners.

I believe Rep. Winkler when he said that Thursday night was his “first night tuning into the RNC” because he doesn’t have a clue about the racial and ethnic diversity within the GOP. Chuck Todd appreciates the GOP’s diversity:

Anyone who watched this convention knows that the GOP is filled with tons of talented newcomers and that there’s tons of diversity within this group of newcomers. Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez wowed crowds with their speeches. That they’re Hispanic just adds to their appeal with the general public. Add them to Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, the first governors of Indian descent, and it’s pretty obvious that the GOP is a principled big tent political party.

That’s before talking about soon-to-be US Senator-Elect Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. That’s before talking about rising rock star Mia Love, who should defeat Jim Matheson in Utah’s 4th District.

Had Rep. Winkler paid attention to the delegates in the hall, he would’ve seen a hugely diverse crowd. It’ll be difficult for the Democrats to be more diverse than the GOP’s delegates.

The TEA Party has helped grow, not to mention energize, the conservative movement. They’ve attracted men and women into the movement. Apparently, the TEA Party’s principles of limited, constitutional, government resonates with people of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds.

Rep. Winkler hasn’t figured it out that ABM’s charicature of the TEA Party doesn’t match reality. The Left’s charicature of the TEA Party isn’t even close to reality.

When it comes to the national stage, the so-called party of diversity are more like the Neanderthal Party. Their image of the GOP is severely outdated.

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Charlie Crist used to be known as a rising star in the GOP. When he endorsed Sen. McCain right before the Florida Primary, it essentially doomed the GOP to Sen. McCain being their nominee. Just 9 months later, the United States was shackled with President-Elect Obama’s disastrous economic policies.

Crist’s stock has fallen mightily since then. The minute he announced his intention to run for the open Florida Senate seat, John Cornyn and the NRSC endorsed him, expecting him to be the presumptive next senator from Florida.

Instead, Crist ran into a genuine rising star in the GOP in Marco Rubio. Despite his massive advantages in fundraising capabilities and statewide name recognition, Sen. Rubio crushed Crist.

Pretending to still be a national leader, Crist penned this op-ed to endorse President Obama:

We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation’s calm through a historically turbulent storm.

The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.

He knew we had to get people back to work as quickly as possible — but he also knew that the value of a recovery lies in its durability. Short-term healing had to be paired with an economy that would stay healthy over the long run. And he knew that happens best by investing in the right places.

President Obama’s stimulus was directed at his biggest political allies, his campaign’s most prolific bundlers. The result was the worst economic recovery since FDR’s, the biggest annual deficits in our nation’s history and the worst economic future since the Great Depression.

President Obama owns the worst economic trifecta in US history: the biggest deficits, the worst regulatory overload and the bleakest economic outlook.

Economic growth in a second Obama term will be as dismal as they are now. Businesses won’t invest their capital because of this administration’s hostility towards capitalists. The ACA will continue to depress job creation. President Obama’s EPA will continue their attempt to kill the coal and natural gas industries.

The PEU bailouts included in the stimulus didn’t create jobs. The loans to President Obama’s most prolific bundlers didn’t create jobs at Solyndra. They just created the environment for the greatest electoral rebellion in recent history.

On Nov. 2, 2010, the American people booted the people out because they’d had enough of politics as usual.

Thanks to President Obama’s deficits, we can’t afford ‘cronyism as usual.’ Charlie Crist’s always been an unprincipled politician. Thanks to Sen. Rubio’s victory, he’ll be remembered as an unprincipled politician.

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Rep. Louie Gohmert, (R-TX), is one of the conservatives’ good guys. According to this article, he said something that hasn’t been said before. Here’s what he said:

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), a member of the House Tea Party caucus, blamed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the fiasco over the payroll tax extension.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate,” Gohmert said Monday on Fox News.

House Republicans initially balked on passing a two-month extension after it passed the Senate with overwhelming support, but the House GOP eventually relented and passed the short-term option.

“If the message had been properly communicated to the Senate that we were not going to go along with a two month extension, then the Senate would not have voted 89 votes for that extension,” Gohmert said.

Rep. Gohmert is right that the Senate hung the House GOP out to dry. When it came to final negotiations, Sen. McConnell didn’t do anything right.

It’s long oast time for Senate Republicans to dump the current leadership team. They’re almost totally worthless. It’s time to install Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and either Rob Portman or Pat Toomey as the Senate’s GOP leaders. This isn’t a time for Mitch McConnell’s go-along-to-get-along ‘leadership’. It isn’t a time for John Cornyn’s type of ‘leadership’, either.

The thought of Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rob Portman and Pat Toomey making arguments for conservative economic policies should excite conservatives, partially because their conservatism plays well in public but also because they’re tough private negotiators. Most importantly, they won’t cave like Mitch McConnell did.

The GOP’s weak link in DC are in the Senate. They’ve vastly underperformed considering the hand they had to play. They hung the House GOP out to dry rather than communicating their message to America.

Since the 2010 shellacking, Mitch McConnell has lost 2 straight fights over taxes. Last year, he lost the battle over the Bush tax rates by caving on other items that President Obama wanted. This year, he lost because he caved on things Republicans and Democrats wanted.

With President Obama’s policies failing, it’s time to chart a new course. We can’t have a pushover in charge of negotiating important policy initiatives.

NO MORE!!!

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The first rule of holes is to stop digging. According to Scott Rasmussen’s polling, President Obama hasn’t learned that lesson:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters show that just 31% rate Obama’s handling of economic issues as good or excellent. Forty-five percent (45%) say the president is doing a poor job handling these issues.

This information says one thing: President Obama isn’t getting re-elected. When the economy is people’s biggest worry, a president can’t afford to be seen by a near-majority as doing a poor job.

Couple that with a significant majority of people approving of repealing his signature acomplishment, aka PPACA, aka Obamacare, and you’ve got a toxic mix that suggests President Obama has a foot on a slippery slope, the other on a banana peel.

While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent, people are still having great difficulty finding a job. The economic reports can say what they want. If people don’t find jobs, they won’t cut President Obama slack for the unemployment rate artificially dropping.

Governors like John Kasich, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry are instituting reforms that will or have put their states on the right path economically. People like Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint and Rand Paul are growing in popularity as they try to limit government’s reach.

As they gain in popularity, President Obama’s popularity sinks. When the presidential campaign starts, Republican presidential candidates will spend more time running against President Obama than against their fellow Republicans.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate and House candidates will run equally against their opponents and President Obama. It figures to be a target-rich environment for Republican candidates.

Couple President Obama’s mishandling of the economy with his insistence of ramming ineffective, counterproductive policies down our throats against our will and you’ve got a difficult platform to campaign from.

If these numbers don’t improve dramatically, President Obama will lose by a dramatic margin. If that happens, he’ll drag alot of Democrats down with him. It’s that simple.

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After the political upheaval in Ohio in 2010, Democrats should be worried. That especially includes Sherrod Brown. It’s looking likely that he’ll face rising GOP star Josh Mandel in 2012. Chris Cillizza’s article highlights why Sen. Brown should be worried:

Mandel crushed incumbent Treasurer Kevin Boyle (D) in November, his first state-wide race. He has a compelling back story: He says he was inspired to go into public service by his grandparents, both Holocaust survivors, and that his time in the Marines “really shaped me as a leader, the leadership traits and principles that are hammered into us.”

The young Republican was helped by ethical scandals surrounding the Democrat, and a great Republican year in the state.

“The truth is that they were kind of running against the perfect opponent in the perfect year,” said Democratic consultant Greg Hass. But Mandel was elected treasurer with a greater margin than any of the other state-wide executive candidates. He also managed to win a seat in the state legisture in 2006 in a northeastern district where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans two to one.

I paid attention to Mandel during the 2010 election cycle. I’m thinking of him as Ohio’s Marco Rubio. He’s that talented politically. He’s got a compelling life story that naturally attracts people to him.

There’s a reason why he won a legislative seat in a district where D’s outnumber R’s by a 2:1 margin. That doesn’t happen if you’re just another cookie-cutter politician. That only happens if you’re a talented politician that transcends party identification.

I haven’t heard of any polling for this race. That said, I can’t imagine this race not being tilted a little in the Republicans’ direction. Sen. Brown voted for the stimulus and O’Care twice each. I’m betting that those votes won’t sit well with 2012 voters.

I’m betting that Sen. Brown will get hurt by President Obama’s shrinking popularity. Couple that with the distinct possibility that Gov. Kasich’s reforms will be improving Ohio’s economy and you’ve got conditions that put Sen. Brown’s re-election chances at uphill or challenging at best.

If I’m a Democratic strategist or if I’m working at the DSCC, I’m worried because I know that I’ve got to contest that seat knowing that it’s going to be expensive. Knowing that it’ll be expensive is one thing. Knowing that it’s likely to be futile would bother me most. The combination of expensive and futile isn’t the type of combination that excites strategists.

It’s too early to say that Mandel is the frontrunner but it isn’t too early to say this will be a hotly contested race with a good possibility of a GOP pickup.

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