DC Buzz: Webb to Retire, Brown's Cash Commitment, CPAC's Keynote Speaker Revealed & More...

Guy Benson
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Posted: Feb 09, 2011 5:56 PM
It's been a busy day in Washington as conservatives gear up for CPAC 2011 -- which kicks off tomorrow morning, and of which Townhall is a major sponsor.  In the spirit of The Tipsheet, a few notes from what people are buzzing about around town:

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As we speculated last month, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) has officially announced he won't seek re-election in 2012, leaving the door wide open for a Republican -- perhaps former Sen. George Allen -- to win back the seat.  A plugged-in VA GOP source passes along his analysis on who may claim the Democratic mantle in this election, and how Webb's retirement impacts state politics:

I'd be surprised if [Terry] McAuliffe decided to run - conventional wisdom has him keeping his powder dry for Gov in '13.  My money would be on WH asking [former Governor and current DNC Chair Tim] Kaine to run, but honestly he doesn't scare me too much since he took some good lumps in '09 -- and he's been nothing but a liberal cheerleader ever since. 

Other possibilities include [former Congressmen] Tom Perriello, Glen Nye, Rick Boucher, and a smattering of Dem state legislators (mainly from NoVA).  Periello can't win statewide; too many horrible votes.  Boucher could be an interesting nominee, but he's turning 65 this year and folks on the Dem side question how much he really wants back in. And he's got the cap & trade vote which ultimately derailed him this past fall. The '12 electorate will likely be a hybrid between '08 and '09, which still gives Obama/Dem nominee a solid chance.  Regardless of who the Dems nominate this won't be a slam dunk with the President at the top of the ticket spending tens of millions in a state he has to win.

On a statewide level [Webb's retirement] hurts VA Dem state senate caucus this year because our side will be devoting significant resources towards flipping the body in November, and they'll only have the appeal of one non-lame duck Senator to help their fundraising efforts. 


I find the "hybrid electorate" point  fascinating.  Virginia went blue in 2008, then swung decidedly rightward the following year -- and again in 2010, for that matter.   Campaign strategists in Virginia will likely expend a good deal of brainpower trying to discern which Old Dominion State voters will turn out, and for whom, in 2012.  Webb is the fourth sitting US Senator (so far) to decline to run again in the next cycle; he'll join Senators Lieberman, Hutchinson, and Conrad in retirement.

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House Conservatives
, including many freshmen, are reportedly in "open revolt" over the party's relatively modest initial spending cut proposal.  The conservative Republican Study Committee has ramped up pressure on leadership and rank-and-file members to support deeper cuts to fulfill the GOP's campaign promise of slashing $100 Billion in spending in 2011.  The current official proposal falls about $42 Billion shy of that goal. 

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Former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis (who was also among the field of candidates to replace Michael Steele at the RNC) is rumored to be contemplating a run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) next year.  As we've reported, Stabenow appears eminently beatable this stage, and will likely invite a stable of would-be challengers.  I ran into Anuzis earlier today and asked him if the rumors are true.  "There are a lot of names out there, but yes, I'm definitely looking at it," he said. 

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Republican Congressman Chris Lee (R-NY) is in hot water for a photo that surfaced on Craigslist.  The image depicts a shirtless Lee flexing his muscles for the camera, reportedly in an attempt to kindle an extramarital affair with a 34-year-old woman.  Lee, who is married with a young son, claimed to be a "divorced" lobbyist.  Lee's office insists he's "happily married."   (UPDATE: That was fast -- Fox News is reporting that Lee has resigned).

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Beltway Republicans are fuming over reports of even more fiscal irresponsibility at the RNC under former Chairman Michael Steele:

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's 2012 convention team based in the Tampa Bay area racked up nearly $1 million in charges – using a line of credit backed by federal funding – before they were fired by the newly elected party chairman last month.

Reince Priebus, a Wisconsin party leader, replaced Steele in an election last month after a lengthy controversy about Steele's leadership. In one of his first actions, Priebus fired the six-member planning team Steele had put in change of the 2012 GOP convention.

The RNC is approximately $23 million in debt as Priebus takes the helm.

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Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) has announced he intends to raise a staggering $25 million for his campaign war chest heading into his 2012 re-election campaign.  Brown currently already hauled in about $10 million.  Republican insiders are marveling at the astronomical figure and say Massachusetts Democrats seem a bit intimidated by the lofty goal.  Can Brown hit his number?  "The guy's a fundraising machine," one GOP insider told me.

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Freshman Republican Congressman Col. Allen West will deliver the keynote address at CPAC on Saturday afternoon.  West is a rising star in the party, and his fans are already well aware that the man can give one hell of a speech: