It’s been noted several times since Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced her challenge of Senator Mitch McConnell that she is doing her utmost to present herself as the most moderate of Democrats, the sort who would get no closer to Barack Obama than to exchange a cordial nod from across the street.
The last few weeks have been full of bad news for Senator Mitch McConnell. He earned a long awaited tea party challenger and, yesterday, two polls showed Allison Lundergan Grimes, the likely Democratic nominee, ahead by 1 and 2 points. As a result, Democrats are starting to believe they have a good chance in Kentucky. They shouldn’t get their hopes up. Certainly not yet.
The constitutional crisis du jour has been averted. The Senate will proceed with the confirmations of most executive branch nominees that have been held in limbo by Senate Republicans threatening a filibuster, including new chiefs for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
At first glance, it’s not at all clear that the Democrats should be dominating the PR fight over the payroll tax-cut extension that's stalemated Congress. When the music stopped on the congressional debate, the GOP-controlled House had passed a year-long extension of the tax cut while the Senate had only passed a two-month extension, and the White House had endorsed the latter.
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are trying to strike a debt ceiling compromise: But as long as Boehner struggles with his own members, the balance of power will shift back to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has been negotiating with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “There is no question who would own a default after this episode, and that weakens the speaker’s position,” said a Senate Democratic leadership aide.