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Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler is among a dozen Democrats being targeted in a series of radio ads from the conservative-aligned Crossroads GPS organization. The ads criticize the representatives for voting against a Republican-backed bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, largely through major spending cuts. The spots also praise Republicans for supporting the legislation.

The Washington Post has more on what the ads say about the next year for Chandler.

The ads, which provide an early window into both parties’ most vulnerable members heading into 2012, are the second major buy Crossroads has laid down this year.

The early spending suggests that Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads plan on continuing their active presence in House and Senate elections — not to mention the presidential race — in 2012.

About 300 people gathered in Frankfort Tuesday to protest an Arizona-style immigration bill making its way through the General Assembly.

The legislation gives local and state police broad authority to check the immigration status of people they suspect to be in the country illegally. The bill passed the GOP-controlled Senate, but faces an uncertain future in the Democratically-led House.

Senator Perry Clark of Louisville is one of the bill’s leading opponents. He says the legislation is unnecessary and expensive. The Legislative Research Commission estimated the bill would cost the commonwealth $89 million a year, primarily due to increased incarceration.

As a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, John Yarmuth apparently has a front-row seat to one of the most bitter clashes in the current congress.

The division stems from disagreements between chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (MD). We talked to Yarmuth about this when he was appointed to the committee.

Here’s an update from Politico:

Democrats say that Republicans are actively withholding committee documents. For example, Democrats want Republicans to fork over letters Issa solicited from trade associations on what the GOP dubs “harmful regulations.” Issa’s staff is reviewing and analyzing the information, and will make them available Feb. 11. That wasn’t good enough for Cummings and his staff, so they sent a letter to industry asking for information identical to what Issa requested.

While a lot of this seems like petty bureaucratic infighting among committee partisans, it could have a real affect on major committee investigations into the Obama administration, stimulus oversight and other areas Issa has targeted.

 

I talked with Congressman John Yarmuth about his appointment to the high-profile Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Of Chairman Darrell Issa, Yarmuth said:

“When you have a chairman who has gone on the record and said publicly that he thinks the Obama administration is the most corrupt administration in history and that he plans to aggressively pursue investigations. That, to me, reeks of witch hunt potential.”

You can read the story here.

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has been named to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His office says the appointment positions Yarmuth “to evaluate the federal government’s efforts on issues ranging from the housing crisis and regulation of the financial industry to implementation of the new health care law and programs to revitalize our economy, to national security and our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The oversight committee has been talked about quite a bit lately, with chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) planning to hold “hundreds of hearings” to challenge the Obama administration.

When the GOP takes over control of the House next year, the Education and Labor Committee will be led by John Kline (R-MN). Kline supported tougher mine safety regulations in 2006, but has lately been at odds with outgoing chair George Miller (D-CA), who will remain on the committee.

Mine safety is not always a partisan issue, but government regulation almost always is. And it’s unclear how Kline may handle proposed updates to mine safety laws in the wake of the Upper Big Branch explosion.

The Courier-Journal sums up the concerns many safety advocates have as Kline prepares for his new role.

And since his 2006 vote on mine safety, he has been less friendly to follow-up efforts by Miller and others to further change the laws.

Kline opposed a 2008 mine-safety bill and earlier this year labeled called Miller’s latest measure “ill-advised” and “a much more expansive approach” than was necessary.

In a column in The Washington Times, he advocated “restrained federal involvement” in workplace issues.

 

As Congressman John Yarmuth (D-3-KY) said before, he does not support the tax cut compromise.

Here is audio of Third District Congressman John Yarmuth talking with reporters about the goals of the lame duck Congress and his thoughts on his third term. Highlights include a discussion of whether Yarmuth’s decision to campaign on the Democratic Party’s legislative successes was the right strategy. He says it is, because he won. But WHAS’s Joe Arnold says some Democrats are upset about it.

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, most Republican voters say they aren’t happy with the party’s congressional leadership.

When to comes to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in particular the Republican base isn’t too impressed either. Just 33% want Boehner to become Speaker with 34% saying it should be someone else and 33% unsure. For McConnell the numbers are even worse. Only 27% would like to see him as Majority Leader with 33% definitively wanting someone else and 40% not sure.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said he had enough support from his colleagues to keep his post.

To better predict how congress might look after the midterm elections, Politico has broken down close House contests into three categories. Every seat listed is held by a Democrat, and the categories comprise 75 seats Republicans could win.

The first group includes the most imperiled Democratic seats — these are the “must-wins” — without which the GOP has no shot at House control. It’s a roster filled with freshmen who benefited from Barack Obama’s coattails, the most vulnerable veterans and Republican-friendly open seats where the retirement of a Democratic incumbent has created a prime pick-up opportunity. If Republicans can’t win most of these seats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take the gavel again for the 112th Congress.

The second group of seats could be labeled the “majority makers”—a class of races that are within GOP reach, but will require defeating well-prepared Democratic incumbents or winning on highly competitive terrain. If the GOP is winning most of these races on election night, a Republican majority will be close at hand. If not, Democrats still have a chance of waking up Nov. 3 with a slim margin in the House.

The third group could be described as the “landslide” class. For the most part, these districts are a tough climb for GOP candidates, either because of the strength of the Democratic incumbent or the partisan tilt of the seat. If the Democrats in this category start to fall on election night, a wave election is unfolding.

Kentucky’s 6th District–represented by Ben Chandler–is in the third group, meaning a Chandler loss could signal a near-collapse for Democrats elsewhere:

Chandler has had no problems holding this Republican-oriented, Lexington-based district but his cap and trade vote is already causing him problems in a coal-producing state.

The commonwealth’s other Democratically-controlled District, the 3rd–represented by John Yarmuth–is among 13 additional races listed as “on the bubble.” A recent Survey USA poll showed Yarmuth in a tighter than expected race against newcomer Todd Lally.

Politico’s new way of organizing races may make sense on the surface, but I suspect Ken Silverstein of Harper’s might take issue with such a broad analysis. In August, he wrote this as pundits tried to make sense of recent primaries, and fit the results into an “anti-insurgent” narrative:

America is a big place. Winning or losing state and local races depends on different issues in different places; there may not be a One-Size-Fits-All explanation for results around the country.

That’s not to say, however, that an electoral sweep–or lack thereof–in November would be a matter of coincidence.

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