Red state Democrats in danger for pressing Obama’s agenda

by Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times  |  published on February 19, 2013

The new “Senate first” approach launched by House Speaker John A. Boehner could put red state Democrats — especially those facing potentially tough re-election battles in 2014 — in a tough spot: Reject the White House’s liberal second-term agenda and run afoul of party leaders, or back the president and alienate voters back home.

Still basking in the afterglow of November, a confident Mr. Obama called on Congress last week to tackle a number of the nation’s thorniest political issues, urging them to combat climate change, raise the minimum wage, increase taxes, expand preschool education, create a pathway to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, and tighten the nation’s gun control laws.

Two days later, Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, challenged Senate Democrats to take the lead on Mr. Obama’s liberal wish list — an attempt to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.

Much — if not all — of the Obama agenda would require Mr. Reid to ask fellow Democratic senators to cast votes that could backfire at the ballot box in 2014.

“This is really smart,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican strategist. “The president has decided in the wake of the election that he has about a year, or a year and a half, in the political sweet spot where he can do something, and he is not going to do anything that enjoys widespread popularity. He is going to take on gun control, immigration and take another bite of the apple on tax increases. That is great unless you happen to be one of the Democrats that are sitting in states that he lost. Most of them are not desperate to talk about immigration reform, gun control, tax increases or climate change.”

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