Off to the races: Obamacare vs. minimum wage

NBC's Jessica Taylor looks at are seven contests to watch in 2014 for how Obamacare could impact the midterms.

Beth Reinhard: “Democrats increasingly view championing the pay of hourly workers as a can't-lose issue that revs up their base of liberal, black, and Hispanic voters. Perhaps more importantly, it also resonates with the white, blue-collar workers who overwhelmingly side with Republicans. Since minority participation tapers off in mid-term elections, assailing Republican opposition to hiking the minimum wage could be a more potent Democratic wedge than immigration reform, particularly in red states with competitive U.S. Senate campaigns, such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Louisiana. Critically, it also allows them a chance to shift away from talking about Obamacare. But it won't be easy. In fact, in the races that will decide control of the Senate, it might be near impossible to get people focused on wages instead of the health care law.” 

The New York Times examines the re-election prospects of three Southern Democratic senators -- Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). "Next year, Democrats will face not only a general hostility to the national party among Southern white voters, but also a keen dislike of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. "

As the budget deadline looms, liberal PAC American Bridge’s c4, the Bridge Project is out with a “new 30-page report, titled, ‘GOP Budget Blues: How Conservative Policies Increase Inequality,’ it uses detailed research to show that conservatives have a long record of neglect and hostility toward Americans in need,” according to a release from the group going out Monday morning. 

Meanwhile, a Tarrance Group (R) poll conducted for Public Notice shows “Americans not only strongly oppose increasing spending, but also believe there are more cuts that should be made. A whopping 71 percent of voters, including 54 percent of Independents and 71 percent of women, would be more likely to re-elect their member of Congress if they voted to reduce spending,” according to a release from the group going out this morning. 

Rand Paul on FOX on jobless benefits: “I do support 26 weeks of unemployment that they're paid for, if you extend it beyond that you do a disservice to these workers. … When you allow people to be on unemployment for 99 weeks, you are causing them to become part of this perpetual unemployed group in our economy.” 

“A majority of Republican and Republican-leaning men, 53 percent, would be "very pleased" or "somewhat pleased" if legislation requiring universal background checks on all gun sales was passed by Congress and signed by the president, according to the latest United Technologies/National JournalCongressional Connection Poll. The results quantify the broad popularity of expanding background checks on firearms purchases across the political spectrum, even among a segment of the public usually opposed to gun-control measures.” 

Bloomberg: “Elizabeth Warren, in her first year as a U.S. senator, has captured headlines by pressuring such industry titans as Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd C. Blankfein for transparency, including a Dec. 4 call for Wall Street banks to disclose their contributions to think tanks that provide financial analysis to Congress. With less fanfare, she’s forging alliances with Republican Senate colleagues, expanding her political network in Massachusetts, and tapping her backers to help Democrats running for re-election in other states. It’s a strategy that sounds a lot like one adopted by another woman who entered the chamber with a national profile that made her a lightning-rod for praise and derision as she was dogged by questions about her presidential aspirations. ‘I think she’s followed a path not unlike that of Hillary Clinton, which is learn how to be a senator,’ said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.”

FLORIDA: Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports on the first television ads out of the special election in Florida's 13th District to succeed the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.). "State Rep. Kathleen Peters has joined lobbyist David Jolly on the airwaves for the Republican primary...Peters is even spending more than Jolly — so far — in television advertising, according to a Democratic media buyer monitoring the Tampa media market. Peters placed a one-week ad buy on Tampa cable worth around $22,000. Roll Call reported on Thursday that Jolly placed about $6,000 in ads....The 30-second spot seeks to frame the race as a local politician versus a Washington insider." 

MISSISSIPPI:Roll Call looks at Thad Cochran’s (R) reelection and what it says is his toughest challenge in 30 years. The race comes down to whether Mississippians continue to reward a senator adept at “bringing home the bacon” for a state in need or if they see the debt as a bigger problem and conservatives try to pin it on Cochran. Said a Mississippi lobbyist: “If you can’t identify a Bridge to Nowhere, which I think they’re going to be hard-pressed to do, then you better come with something better than that.” The primary is June 3rd with a runoff if necessary June 24th