From the so-called "war on women" to the newly-contentious Kansas Senate race.
September 7, 2014, 12:11 PM
• 5 min read
-- intro: The most intriguing question now may be which side of the gates of hell the Syrian border sits on, at least in the judgment of official Washington. The coming week brings the end of primary season; the beginning of the end of the pre-election congressional session; the end of the beginning stages of Hillary Clinton’s non-campaign; and – one can hope - just the start of Grover Norquist sightings at Burning Man.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the stories your ABC News political team is tracking in the week ahead:
title: BACK, BRIEFLY
text:It wouldn’t be September without a looming Syria vote that the White House isn’t sure it wants. That will be the highlight of Congress’ two-week cram session that figures to include posturing over government funding and a heavy dose of pre-election positioning. Oddly, some of the president’s traditional allies are the ones asking him to come to Congress for approval on a plan to confront ISIS, a plan that didn’t emerge from the NATO summit and could take a few more weeks to come into view. Leading Republicans are calling on the president to act now and come to Congress later, and a more crowded Washington could mean a cloudier American strategy.
title: WHAT WOMEN WANT
text:Guess who’s talking about birth control now? Republican Senate candidates are trying to flip the script on Democrats, coming out in favor of over-the-counter contraceptive coverage. It’s an attempt to take issues of reproductive health off the table, as Democrats push the GOP’s supposed “war on women” that they pursued with such success in 2012. Republican Senate candidates Cory Gardner in Colorado and Thom Tillis in North Carolina were the latest to endorse the concept of over-the-counter access, joining Mike McFadden in Minnesota and Ed Gillespie in Virginia. The moves come as DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz confronts fallout from saying that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “has given women the back of his hand,” a comment that drew swift and harsh condemnation.
title: WHAT’S THE MATTER
text:Very suddenly, Kansas has become the home of one of the most interesting Senate races in the country. Democratic nominee Chad Taylor announced last week that he’s dropping his candidacy, in an attempt by national and state-level Democrats to funnel anti-incumbent sentiments toward an independent candidate. That candidate, Greg Orman, is a former Democrat who says he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but Mitt Romney in 2012, and hasn’t said whether he’d join forces with Democrats or Republicans if elected. In a twist, Sen. Pat Roberts, the Republican incumbent, is fighting Taylor’s efforts to get his name off the ballot, and Kansas’ secretary of state said he can’t be removed. It all makes for a Jayhawk jumble that complicates GOP efforts to net the six seats they need to take control of the Senate. And it’s just remotely possible that Orman could hold the fate of the Senate in his decision on whom to lunch with every week.
title: WHAT BROWN DOES
text:The final primaries of 2014 are likely to cap the voting season in a fitting way: with Republicans getting the candidate they want in a competitive race. Former senator Scott Brown’s border-crossing figures to win him the Republican Senate nomination in New Hampshire, giving the GOP the candidate that polls show represents the party’s best chance to defeat incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Democrats will focus on Brown’s margin of victory, which may not be overwhelming in a crowded primary that also includes another former senator, Bob Smith. (Smith actually represented New Hampshire earlier in his career, but he also ran – unsuccessfully – for Senate in Florida, in addition to briefly running for president.) Also on Tuesday’s last day of primaries, a Democratic incumbent, Rep. John Tierney, could lose re-nomination. He is fighting to hold onto a blue-state seat that’s become surprisingly winnable for Republicans, due in part to a gambling scandal involving several members of Tierney’s family.
title: HELLO HILLARY
text:Next weekend marks the long awaited fall campaign debut of Hillary Rodham Clinton. She and her always-in-demand husband will be the featured guests at next Sunday’s Harkin Steak Fry, the last of a legendary series of Iowa events hosted by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. More events will follow in short order for the former secretary of state, whom – stop us if you’ve heard this before – is considering a presidential candidacy, and continues to be asked about her timeframe for deciding every time she comes near a camera. Her trail time comes just days after Sen. Elizabeth Warren rather pointedly declined to defend Clinton against charges that she’s “too cozy” with Wall Street, in an interview with Katie Couric.