● It’s over. President Obama will have four more years to fashion policy and lead the nation. The Senate will remain under the majority leadership of Harry Reid (D/Nevada), while the House of Representatives will continue to be led by Speaker John Boehner (R/Ohio). One change in party leadership that I do expect to happen will be the resignation by Nancy Pelosi (D/California) as House Minority Leader.
● Attention in Washington, D.C., immediately pivots to the short lame-duck session of the 112th Congress, set to start on November 13. With taxation, deficit, and budget issues (the Fiscal Cliff) being of critical importance for members attending this closing session, it is difficult, but not impossible, to foresee a path toward enactment of a new five-year Farm Bill in 2012. It does help that the two top leaders on Farm Bill and other agricultural issues were reelected yesterday: U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D/Michigan) and Representative Frank Lucas (R/Oklahoma).
● Immigration reform may take new life next year. It is a priority for President Obama—and Republicans have good reason to mend fences with a fast-growing sector of the electorate.
● Expect a flood of proposed federal regulations to hit the Federal Register in the next several months. For example, I expect long-delayed proposals from the Food and Drug Administration on implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act to see light before year’s end.
● Pacific Northwest: No federal incumbent lost. The only United States Senate race in the region was won by Maria Cantwell (D/Washington). In the House of Representatives, there will be no change in the delegations from Oregon or Idaho. From Washington State, new members will be Suzan DelBene (D/1st District); Derek Kilmer (D/6th District); and, Denny Heck (D/10th district). Former congressman Jay Inslee (D), who started his career in the Yakima Valley, won the governorship.
● Three Republicans from the Pacific Northwest with close ties to Speaker Boehner are likely to have leadership roles next year in the House of Representatives: Greg Walden (R/Oregon), Doc Hastings (R/Washington), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R/Washington). In the Senate, the highest- ranking leader from our area from either side of the aisle will be Patty Murray (D/Washington).
● Other races of interest: Christie Vilsack (D), the wife of the current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, lost her race to unseat Representative Steve King (R/Iowa); Senator Jon Tester (D/Montana), a proponent of organic agriculture, retained his seat; and California Proposition 37 on labeling genetically modified food at retail failed by 53% to 47%. Over $40 million was spent by large food companies to defeat this anti-GMO measure.
● Overused phrases can now be put on the political shelf until the next national election: “Super PACs,” the feared “October surprise,” “a candidate’s (long or short) coattails,” “firewalls,” “battleground states,” a national party’s “ground game,” “robo calls,” “exit polling shows…,” and so forth.