political-theater-podcast

Messing With Texas, Midterm Edition
In the Lone Star State, it’s not just about Beto and Cruz

A woman flies a Texas flag at a 2005 rally in the Upper Senate Park. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Yes, the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke gets a 72-ounce steak’s worth of attention in politics, what with Willie Nelson and President Donald Trump weighing in with their preferences and all. 

But regardless of who emerges from that Texas two-step, several other races will go a long way toward determining the House majority, and whether the Lone Star State might be moving toward swing/purple status. 

Will the Lone Stars Align for Beto O’Rourke in Texas Senate Race?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 41

Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke joins Willie Nelson on stage during his Turn out For Texas Rally last month. Other Texas legends are coming out for O'Rourke. How much difference will it make, though? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Will appealing to Whataburger partisans get out the vote? What about a new Willie Nelson song? These are but some of the questions that will be answered by the Texas Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke

That’s because some of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons, like country-music legend Nelson and filmmaker Richard Linklater, have come out strong for O’Rourke and are putting their artistic talent where their mouths are. Will it make a difference, though? Leah Askarinam from Inside Elections and McClatchy’s Alex Roarty, who grew up in Houston, discuss the race, whether famous Texans will help O’Rourke and what sort of downstream effect the race has on competitive House races we might see on the latest Political Theater Podcast. 

Swift Winds From the West
Tay and Ye meet again, on the political stage

Taylor Swift endorsed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign for Senate in an Instagram post this week. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS file photo)

It’s been almost 10 years since Kanye West and Taylor Swift began to bicker. Remember? Beyoncé had just made one of the best music videos. OF. ALL. TIME. Here’s the timeline from then until now — the moment the Swift-Kanye conflict broke the fourth wall and entered DUH, DUH, DUH!

The Political Theater.

What ‘The Front Runner’ Says About Today’s Politics
Political Theater, Episode 40

Matt Bai, left, Jay Carson, center, and Jason Dick discuss “The Front Runner,” the film about Gary Hart that Bai and Carson co-wrote with director Jason Reitman. (Margaret Spencer/CQ Roll Call)

“The Front Runner” is not going to tell you how to feel about politics. The new film, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Jason Reitman and co-written by him and Matt Bai and Jay Carson, tells the story of the short-lived 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., who went from being the presumptive favorite to win the presidency to political oblivion within the span of a few days, felled by a scandal fueled by the senator’s extra-marital affair. “You could see the seeds of politics we’re dealing with now,” says Carson, a former Capitol Hill staffer.

The central tenet of the film is that few people — the candidate, his staff and family, journalists, etc., — were prepared for what happened to Hart, and they made the best decisions they could at the time in what would help define the electoral and political process for years to come. “We’ve created a process that rewards a bit of shamelessness, that both attracts and rewards candidates that who will do anything to get or hold office,” Bai adds. Listen to our full conversation, including a partial interview with Reitman, on this Political Theater podcast: 

The Ghosts of Impeachment Haunt the Kavanaugh Fight
Ken Starr, David Schippers, even Kavanaugh himself were key players in impeachment of Bill Clinton

Senate staffers watch from their offices as police begin to arrest protesters opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Building on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Washington is doing its best to prove the William Faulkner maxim that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Rap, Race and Health Care Help Decide Upstate New York Fates
Political Theater, Episode 39

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In Upstate New York, two Republican House freshmen are fighting for their political lives in districts that supported President Donald Trump in 2016. While health care is a dominant issue Democrats there hope to capitalize on, there is an underlying racial issue in one district, as the GOP tries to make the rap career of Democrat Antonio Delgado a part of the equation. Bridget Bowman explains how exactly AD the Voice became a part of the political calculus in 2018 on this week’s Political Theater Podcast. 

As Minnesota Goes, So Goes the Nation?
Political Theater, Episode 38

Dan Feehan, Democratic candidate for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, campaigns in the Applefest parade in La Crescent, Minn., on September 16, 2018. The man in the cut-out photo is a friend of the women. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minnesota is suddenly the center of the political universe and voters there are more focused on health care and the economy than the latest scandal in Washington. And they'll have a lot to say in the midterms because the Land of 10,000 Lakes is hosting a governor's race, two Senate races and four competitive House races that will go a long way to determine the congressional majority next year. Roll Call Senior Political Reporter Simone Pathé spent six days covering six races and 12 candidates there and explains on this week’s Political Theater podcast why both Republicans and Democrats consider Minnesota a bellwether state.

High Court, High Political Drama — Probably for Years to Come
Political Theater, Episode 37

Regardless of the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the high court figures to be a more prominent, and political, part of American life for the foreseeable future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the middle of a singularly rough Supreme Court nomination fight, the business of the high court goes on. The fate of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the court, is still up in the air. But the  direction of the court, regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, seems to be moving inexorably negative, at least politically, say CQ legal affairs writer Todd Ruger and senior writer Kate Ackley in the latest Political Theater podcast.

 

Beto O’Rourke: Not Just Another Bassist From El Paso
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 36

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, puts on his tie as Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, speaks with reporters as they arrive at the Capitol just in time for votes on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. O'Rourke has turned heads with his competitive race against Sen. Ted Cruz, but his political ascent did not come out of nowhere. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke has gained rock star status as an insurgent liberal candidate running against the established Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but, but, but, says Nathan L. Gonzales, Roll Call’s elections analyst and the publisher of Inside Elections, O’Rourke’s rise to national prominence did not happen overnight or come out of nowhere. 

Kavanaugh Drama Provides Political Stage for Democrats
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 35

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listen during the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Tuesday Sept. 4, 2018.  (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)