ObamaCare Fallout in State Government
A great deal of attention has been focused on the political fallout that Democrats in Congress will face because of their support for ObamaCare. Beyond video of Mary Landrieu in 2009 saying just what Obama was saying about people being allowed to keep their old health plans, surely the video of Nancy Pelosi that we had to "pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it" ought to be part of any Republican's campaign against Democrats in the congressional midterm elections.
Less noticed but perhaps just as important is the political impact that could strike Democrats at the state government level. The concern expressed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners about modifying the implementation of ObamaCare is a salient example of this dangerous exposure of Democrats. Mike Kreidler, the state insurance commissioner of Washington State and a member of that organization, has acted as point man for much of this criticism of ObamaCare. Kreidler is a statewide elected official in Washington, and he is a Democrat.
In a purple state which Democrats need to hold not only in presidential elections, but in congressional and state government elections as well, races like Kreidler's matter. Mike Kreidler won his statewide election in 2012 with 58% of the vote, compared to 55% that Obama won in Washington in the same election. If Obamacare dissolves into chaos, whom are voters in Washington going to trust -- Kreidler or Obama?
Wayne Gordon is state insurance commissioner in North Carolina, another state that Democrats need to hold if they intend to become the majority party. Gordon, like Kreidler, is a Democrat who won statewide election to his office in 2012, and like Kreidler, Gordon won a higher percentage of the vote in North Carolina than Obama did in the same election. Gordon, though, just barely won his election. He can hardly stand by ObamaCare in a state that is more red than blue, but is still a vital part of the mosaic of swing states.
Monica Lindeen is state insurance commissioner in Montana. She, like Gordon and Kreidler, won statewide election as a Democrat in 2012, winning with 55% of the vote in a state that Romney carried.
Voters in Washington, North Carolina, and Montana have entrusted the care of state government insurance policy to these Democrats with elective office, and if they repudiate the mischievous changes which Obama is proposing to hide the true disaster of his signature "achievement," then that sting will make it much harder for Democrats anywhere to defend ObamaCare. On the other hand, if these Democrats stand by this sinking Titanic, their own political careers may sink with the ship.
It could get worse. Dave Jones is the California insurance commissioner, and this statewide elected Democrat who in 2010 barely received 51% of the vote will face voters next November. Is he going to hang tough with Obama? If he does, there is a real chance that a strong Republican challenger could win. Today, every statewide elective office in California is controlled by Democrats, but that could change if the sewage of Obamacare slops over to insurance commissioner, attorney general, or even governor.
Aside from these Democrats who are elected statewide officials, all the other Democrats who hold this office are appointed by Democrat governors. Are Democrat governors in states like Illinois, Oregon, and Minnesota -- blue states that could turn red for one election cycle -- going to direct their appointees as state insurance commissioner to try to stop ObamaCare, or to stand with Obama, or to be very, very quiet? If these governors, who until now have not had to take a stand, are flaccid, then Republican challengers will surely hammer them hard and win elections that Republicans would otherwise lose in 2014. There is no reason to doubt that these Republican electoral victories will not seep into state legislative races as well.
Republicans after 2010 in states like Wisconsin showed that it matters if Republicans, willing to use their power to implement conservative policies at the state level, do just that. As the Virginia gubernatorial election showed, ObamaCare will influence state government elections. The more elected Democrats like Kreidler warn of the dangers of ObamaCare, the greater the vulnerability of other Democrats -- including those in state government -- who are standing for election in 2014 pretending that Obamacare is fine.
It could just be that the "solid" Democratic Party that four years ago hung together behind this dummy in the White House could find itself descending into a civil war.