An end to the feuding in the Hillary Clinton super PAC world
Huntsman being courted for a 2016 GOP run -- in Utah
North Carolina tries to muscle its way into the 2016 early state ranks
A ticking clock and a Carolinas calendar conundrum, turmoil in Camp Clinton and a GOP establishment revenge plot filled our Sunday trip around the “Inside Politics” table.
1. A 2016 Huntsman run in Utah?
Mike Lee was proof in 2010 that the tea party movement was growing from protest movement to political force.
Lee stunned the GOP establishment by wresting the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Utah from longtime incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett, and from that moment on has been a national tea party star.
Now, the establishment is looking to return the favor.
So far, no credible 2016 primary challenger has emerged despite frequent complaints about Lee from Utah business and GOP establishment figures.
But CNN is told there is now an aggressive push to lure a onetime Utah GOP star back into the game.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, you might recall, went nowhere as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Since then, Huntsman is more often seen in Washington, where he is a radio host for a program affiliated with the No Labels political organization.
It’s no secret that Hunstman’s deep-pocketed father is not a fan of Lee’s. Word now is that Utah business leaders are looking to talk Huntsman into returning home full time to challenge Lee. And some of the national GOP establishment forces who were successful in opposing tea party candidates in 2014 have told their Utah allies they will join a pitch to Huntsman.
There are myriad reasons to be skeptical such a heavyweight matchup will materialize, but it’s worth watching.
2. Podesta’s leaving the White House to plan a return
John Podesta wrapped up his work as a top Obama White House lieutenant on Friday, yet the West Wing will be just as much on his mind as he shifts to his new job.
Podesta is taking a top position in the nascent Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. After a week-plus of headlines about infighting in the Democratic ranks, the AP’s Julie Pace reports there is a feeling among many party loyalists that Podesta is getting started not a moment too soon.
“I’m told that even though he’s going to be the campaign chairman, he’s going to have a very hands-on, day-to-day role,” said Pace. “He’s not going to be somebody who’s just doing 30,000-foot strategic thinking. And that’s very important to a lot of the Clinton camp.”
Watch now for reports of “Skippy” moments; Podesta is a disciplined, driven but normally soft-spoken guy but is known for having a more feisty alter ego when he feels it necessary to bang heads.
3. Hillaryland super PAC detente
The wrangling getting the most attention in Camp Clinton of late is among players in the super PAC community who are gearing up to support her campaign.
Accounts vary widely depending on who you talk to – and their loyalties – but suffice it to say there are turf and title wars going on, as well as some ego clashes.
At the center of much of this is David Brock, once a Clinton nemesis, now turned Clinton convert. He was on the board of super PAC Priorities USA, and also runs a pro-Clinton (anti-Republican) research group.
Brock resigned from the Priorities board in a dustup with longtime Obama operatives who are now gravitating to Camp Clinton.
But Jonathan Martin of The New York Times reports on efforts to make peace – or at least detente.
“One Democrat told me that the Priorities folks are groveling to David Brock,” said Martin. “I am told that he is on course to come back to the board – likely to happen early this week.”
4. North Carolina is ready to go rogue
Both parties have rules about their presidential nominating calendars, and the Republican National Committee is especially eager to assert more control over the schedule, debates and more heading into 2016.
But CNN’s Peter Hamby says North Carolina wants more impact on presidential politics – even if it means sanctions.
Remember, as a table setter, Iowa votes first, followed by New Hampshire and then South Carolina.
“North Carolina passed a statute last year that said they are going to go the week after South Carolina, one of the first four states in the Republican nominating process,” said Hamby.
“So three days after these first four states, you could have a state with a lot of big media markets and a lot of voters right square in the middle of this nominating fight. And the people I’ve talked to in North Carolina, in the Republican Party there, say they do not care at all if the Republican National Committee penalizes them with delegates or whatever; they want the attention, they want to be square out front.”
5. It’s February 2015, but might the clock be ticking for John Kasich?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is off to South Carolina soon. Which means – you know what.
Officially, it’s part of his recent travels pushing a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. But Kasich won a big re-election in 2014 and is among a handful of GOP potential 2016 contenders who need to soon make tough choices.
Or, as The Atlantic’s Molly Ball reports, there is a clock ticking because a crowded Republican field means activists and fund-raisers are feeling pressure to pick sides.
“Time is running out for him to decide,” said Ball. “I spoke to him recently and he says he hasn’t made up his mind. People close to him think he really hasn’t decided what he’s going to do.”