When Rothenberg Political Report kept a "Safe Democrat" rating for Michigan's open Senate seat after U.S. Sen. Carl Levin announced his retirement last week, critics complained enough about not giving the GOP a chance that Stuart Rothenberg felt compelled to respond.
His main argument: Because of the Republican Party's lackluster record in the state for U.S. Senate and president, the Rothenberg report most likely won't change its rating until a top-tier Republican files to run for the Senate seat.
"While lots of Republicans names were being floated (some of whom might make the race very interesting), Michigan has a well-earned reputation of being a state where Republicans float their names to get attention and then eventually decide not to run," Rothberg wrote in Roll Call.
"Without candidates, we are stuck with nothing but fundamentals — and a Republican Party that has proven to be ill-equipped to run a statewide federal race in Michigan."
But Rothenberg separately dinged the Democrats for its 2012 "recruiting flop," when the party failed to capture the marginally Republican House district in Metro Detroit that former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter abandoned after being disqualified from the ballot for forged petition signatures. Democratic nominee Dr. Syed Taj lost to GOP novice Kerry Bentivolio of Milford despite raising more money.
Said Rothenberg: "A formidable Democratic nominee with broad appeal might have swiped this seat in an upset."
Profiles in discourage
Having slowed state Senate approval to accept and spend a $31-million federal grant on a health care exchange, some conservatives are targeting for rejection the legislation to expand Medicaid and new road taxes.
"Now, keep your powder dry for the next battle," former state lawmaker and unsuccessful U.S. House candidate Jack Hoogendyk urged this week in his "Core Principles" blog.
That prompted the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan to accuse Hoogendyk of spewing "dishonest and unhinged rhetoric."
Gov. Rick Snyder is pushing for approval of a proposal to set higher income limits so at least 400,000 more Michiganians with no health insurance could join the state-federal Medicaid health care program. Snyder and GOP legislative leaders also are discussing new ways to fund another $1.2 billion in road funding that could include tax hikes.
In none-too-subtle terms, Hoogendyk has threatened that groups with whom he communicates will find opponents to run in 2014 primary elections against Republicans lawmakers who vote in favor of exchanges, Medicaid expansion or road funding taxes.
Which is why lawmakers get paid the big bucks to make big decisions, right?
Huizenga, president agree
President Barack Obama visited Wednesday with House Republicans on Capitol Hill to build bridges for a grand bargain on the budget. U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga , R-Zeeland, said although "a deep philosophical divide" remains between Republicans and the Democratic president on the role of government, he found some common ground with Obama: protecting the Great Lakes.
After the discussion, Huizenga said he approached Obama, from Lake Michigan-situated Chicago, about preventing Asian carp and other threats to the Great Lakes. The two agreed it's something they can work on, he said.
Before the meeting, Huizenga doubted both sides would agree on spending, revenue and entitlement reforms — a so-called grand budget bargain. Afterwards, he said the probability of a deal is "still low" though he appreciates the president's outreach. "One nice dinner or one trip to the Capitol is not going to solve four years of mistrust."
Contributors: Richard Burr, Gary Heinlein, Marisa Schultz, Nick Assendelft and Chad Livengood