Skip to comments.Keystone XL decision may loom large for red state Democrats in 2014 midterms
Posted on 01/29/2013 4:56:07 PM PST by Libloather
A handful of vulnerable Democratic senators running for reelection in red states are seeking to insulate themselves from political fallout if the Obama administration rejects the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline from Canada.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), joined 44 of their Republican colleagues in signing a letter last week urging Obama to expedite the pipeline's approval.
Although Democrats say the controversial pipeline may not linger as an issue at the ballot box in 2014, the senators full-throated support for the controversial project could shield them from GOP attacks over the economic impact if construction is denied.
All five of the Democratic senators who signed the Keystone letter face difficult reelection battles in red states that Obama lost in 2012, most by double-digit margins.
In the end, I think its going to be overlooked by other issues. But its certainly something that theyre going to have to deal with. They all represent major energy-producing areas of the county, said James Manley, a Democratic strategist who formerly worked for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
This has proven to be a political football that Republicans are going to continue to press forward.
Supporters and opponents of the Keystone XL project are awaiting a decision from the State Department on whether to grant TransCanada Corp. a presidential permit to build the pipeline.
Obama initially rejected a permit for the pipeline last year, citing concerns it traversed the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills of Nebraska.
Last week, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R ) informed Obama and the State Department that he had approved a revised route for the pipeline that avoids the Sandhills.
Republicans say the Obama administrations decision to deny the pipeline on its original route has cost the U.S. thousands of construction and energy jobs, and that the pipelines construction could bring down gas prices.
The GOP is already seeking to make political hay out ongoing delays in a Keystone XL decision.
The National Republican Congressional Committee this week targeted 39 House Democrats this week with a release that charges that Obama and the House Democrats in question "have run out of excuses" on Keystone.
"If they are serious about creating jobs, they need to stand up to their radical environmentalist friends and support the Keystone XL pipeline," said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek.
Manley noted that the Democratic senators who signed the pro-pipeline letter will be on record as being strong supporters of the proposal which will help diminish the impact on them come Election Day if the pipeline is denied.
If the pipeline is approved, red state Democrats can also tout their efforts to press the administration to support the project.
Baucus, a longtime Democratic leader on the pipeline push, has emphasized his the economic value of the project even as many liberals contend Keystone XL represents a global warming nightmare.
The Keystone Pipeline is about one simple thing: jobs and Montana jobs are why Max supports Keystone, a spokesperson for the senator said in an email.
Baucus office also highlighted the senators commitment to his constituents, emphasizing his independence from the Democratic party line and Obama with it.
Max represents Montana, and he makes his policy decisions based on what he hears from Montanans, the spokesperson added.
In the 2012 election, early and vocal support of the pipeline helped red state Democrats neutralize the issue in the face of GOP attacks.
Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), won tough races in part because they came out in support of Keystone XL well in advance of the election.
Heitkamp, working to live up to her campaign promise to be independent from Obama on issues important to North Dakota, also signed the pro-Keystone XL letter. Tester, who is on his second term, did not.
Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, said support for the pipeline could help Democrats running in red states win over Republican and Independent voters.
A lot of Democrats also are probably predisposed to accept the jobs argument (for Keystone XL), as that's really still the top priority for most people in America, Leiserowitz said.
Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Warner (Va.), who is up for reelection in 2014 in a purple state, also signed the pro-Keystone XL letter.
And what could be more important than that?
They supported 0bambi and that's all the red-state voters need to know in 2014.
for those POS’s.......Absolutely Nothing!
Article: “controversial . . . controversial . . . controversial.” What on earth is controversial about this pipeline?
It should be built right up to the Canadian border according to each State’s laws. Let Canada build it from their side up to an inch of our pipeline. Canada could start just pumping oil and we would see 24/7 pictures/video of millions of gallons of oil spilling out on the ground! Wonder how long it would take the State Department to OK closing that 1 inch gap?
Working in the Idustrial Testing industry I can tell you that Pipeline inspections alone will keep my sector working for the lifetime of the pipeline. I have heard, but don’t for sure, that part of the pipe, will conect to the Wood River refinery, where we do the bulk of our work. WE have a pipleine connected to Saint Louis Lambert airport and Ohare in Chicago. In addition, the river terminal is right down the road. The amount of jobs this will create alone is worth the effort..
lets just allow Obama to outlaw cars and energy to heat houses. Energy equals jobs.... and he is focusing on outlawing them too!
These Dem incumbents can write all the letters they want in order to insulate themselves from fallout over Keystone. But the bottom line in 2014 will be what kind of challengers the GOP can come up with.
Remember Missouri in 2012? McCaskill was Dead Woman Walking politically but instead we picked Todd Akin. And I think we all know how that ended up, right?
And no, it wasn’t Karl Rove’s fault that Akin lost. Akin lost that race the minute he opened his mouth.