Someone in the hermetically sealed bubble of the White House and Democratic Senate leadership must have thought it was a good idea to stage an all-night talk-a-thon Monday into Tuesday on the subject of climate change. It might seem odd since the American people are most interested in jobs, unemployment, government trustworthiness and a slew of other issues, but these lawmakers chose this tactic for the gravest issue they could find, the threat of carbon. One can only imagine this was a base-pleasing move.
It also pleased – delighted, actually – Republicans on the ballot in 2014 and their campaigns. The distinctly not pleased should include Democrats from energy-rich red states. Via his reelection campaign, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) provided a written statement which one can see being wrapped into a campaign ad or a debate zinger: “It is one of the primary responsibilities of a U.S. Senator to speak out when fellow lawmakers are actively working against your constituents’ best interests. It is very disappointing that Alison Lundergan Grimes could not muster a word against her liberal allies in Washington who were pulling an all-nighter to shut down the coal industry and left open the possibility that she would join them.” He jabbed, “ If you’re conflicted about fighting for the jobs of fellow Kentuckians, you need to do some serious soul searching about why it is you’re running for U.S. Senate in the first place.”
This is going to be a theme quickly embraced by more than one campaign if today’s reaction is any indication. David Ray, campaign spokesman for Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), emailed, “This goes to show how out-of-touch Washington Democrats are with what voters want. They’re not holding an all-nighter for job creation. They’re not holding an all-nighter to fix Obamacare. They’re holding an all-nighter to placate their liberal donor base in California.” He, too, argued that the Democratic Party was bad for his state: “Unfortunately, Senator Pryor has been a perfectly willing enabler of President Obama’s cap-and-trade agenda that would cost Arkansas tens of thousands of jobs and make families pay hundreds of dollars more at the gas pump each and every year.”
The red-state senators did not, of course, join in this gabfest, but they do vote for the Senate leadership, and more importantly have taken some anti-home state energy votes. In the case of Virginia’s Mark Warner, competitor Ed Gillespie’s campaign spokesman took his own shot: “Mark Warner has advocated for Cap and Trade and a carbon tax that make the energy produced in Southwest Virginia more expensive and would kill even more jobs here. He may not have stood with his colleagues on the Senate floor last night, but he has stood with them on every job-killing vote they’ve cast.”
It is hard to fathom that Senate liberals couldn’t understand the damage their stunt might do to colleagues who tried to run from the liberal war on gas and coal but couldn’t hide. (Virginia Republican adviser Tucker Martin observed that Warner could “skip out on last night’s speeches, but the damage is done.”)
This isn’t rocket science. Going after climate change while hawking regulatory limits on domestic energy production is one more issue (in addition to the stimulus, Obamacare, guns, taxes, Medicare cuts) Republicans will use to tie Democratic incumbents to the White House. When Democrats help out, it sure saves them time.
UPDATE: Well, it didn’t take the Republican National Senatorial Committee long to come up with an anti-Mary Landrieu (D-La.) ad.
Looks like McConnell is focusing his attention on Grimes. He might just ignore Bevin from here on out.