GOP to use filibuster to tie Dems to Obama

Few expect the gutting of the filibuster to become a major campaign issue in the fight for the Senate, even though it has infuriated GOP activists. 

Republicans working on Senate races say the issue is too complicated and process-oriented to resonate with most voters, though they do believe it can be used as part of a general anti-Democratic message.

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“Will the nuclear option appear in TV ads next year? No. But it's another bullet questioning their credibility,” says National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring.

“It's a tad bit insidery. But that being said these are red state Democrats and it's not hard to make the case they're further empowering an agenda most voters oppose.”

Dayspring and other Republicans think the filibuster is another issue that can be used to tie red-state Democrats to President Obama, a chief theme for the GOP in 2014.

Democrats will use the fight to hit the GOP for obstructionism, a major line from their current playbook.

“We will pivot to the real contrast between Democrats who are willing to break the logjam, work with the other side and forge compromise as compared to partisan obstructionist Republicans who refuse to compromise on their special interest agenda which includes cutting Social Security and Medicare,” says Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky.

Obama is the bigger winner of the Senate vote, which allows procedural motions on most presidential nominees to advance on majority votes instead of supermajority votes.

The move is expected to make it easier for the Senate to confirm Obama’s nominees to the court system and within his administration.

Jonathan Collegio, the spokesman for the GOP outside group American Crossroads, points to Kentucky’s Senate race as an example where the issue could help Republicans.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said this week that the nuclear option was “worth exploring” due to GOP obstructionism.

“It's going to enable Obama to pack the circuit court with judges that pass his coal regulations. For Grimes, destroying the filibuster means hurting the Kentucky coal industry in a tangible way,” he says. “That's where an abstract procedural issue turns into a real local issue that has a concrete impact.”

The senator Ludergan Grimes hopes to take out, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was the face of the GOP’s opposition on the filibuster vote this week.

Democrats are portraying McConnell as a “guardian of gridlock” and are likely to use the filibuster fight to underscore that argument.

The issue could also come up in some of the other campaigns likely to determine control of the Senate after 2014.

Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.), all GOP targets, are all in various ways trying to distance themselves from Obama.

Pryor was one of three Democrats to vote against changing filibuster rules on Thursday.

Another way the filibuster fight could help Republicans is as a fundraising tool.

“The importance of taking back the Senate in 2014 has never been more clear than it is today,” reads a fundraising email the Tea Party Express sent to their supporters. “In an unprecedented move, Harry Reid has stripped away Senate filibuster rules to allow the will of the Democrat majority to trample on the rights of the minority.

“The Senate now only needs a simple 51 vote majority to push through ALL of President Obama's activist judges and executive branch nominees.  The only way to stop Harry Reid's tyranny is to rip the gavel out of his hand in 2014 by electing a conservative majority,” it concludes.

This report was updated at 12:07 p.m.