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Stories That Could Shake Up the Summer


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Stories that could shake up the summer

By DAVID CATANESE | 5/31/10 5:21 AM EDT

On the eve of the summer campaign doldrums, the midterm election narrative seems well-established: Big losses are in store for Democrats in November, incumbents of all stripes ought to be looking over their shoulders and the political establishments in both parties are out of favor.

Yet as fixed as those storylines might seem at the moment, there’s plenty that could still go wrong — or right — to alter the Democratic or Republican Party’s trajectory over the next few months.

Natural disasters could wreak havoc. Crimes might be exposed. There are jaw-dropping gaffes that could be committed and unforeseen political forces that could yet be unleashed.

While voters may not completely tune in to the midterm election until after the Labor Day holiday, here are eight possible issues this summer that could play a role in reshaping the November landscape:

BP's slow bleed

The worst oil spill in U.S. history has dominated the headlines for weeks — and is already shaping up as a key campaign issue.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, running for the Senate as an independent candidate, is mulling a special session to write an offshore drilling ban into the state's constitution. Louisiana Democrats are pummeling Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) for attempting to "limit BP's liability." Republicans are framing the environmental catastrophe — and President Barack Obama’s approach — as this White House’s equivalent of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, it seems, the White House is “prepared for the worst” — an oil spill that continues flowing until August, according to Carol Browner the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

"There could be oil coming up until August when the relief wells are dug. It’s important to know there’s not just one being dug, there’s two because we insisted, the government insisted, that there be a second one in case something went wrong with the first one," Browner said Sunday on Meet the Press.

"We are prepared for the worst. We have been prepared from the beginning. We will continue to assume that we move into the worst-case scenario, which is ... some oil leaking up to the surface and then onto the beaches and shorelines. We will continue to prepare for that."


Hurricane season

That audible gasp you heard last week may have been the reaction to the National Weather Service’s prediction late last week that the 2010 hurricane season that begins on June 1 is shaping up to be "very aggressive."

The long-range forecast is suggesting up to 14 hurricanes may form, but it would only take one category 3 or greater landing in Florida, Louisiana or Texas to again focus the country on the government's disaster preparedness.

Don't think political operatives aren't already gaming out the potential fallout, not just for the Obama administration — which has emphasized its competence after the Bush administration’s epic failed response to Hurricane Katrina — but for candidates and elected officials in the affected states.

“If we get hit by a big storm or several smaller storms, the state of Florida going literally go bankrupt because of some of Crist’s policies. This has been one of the major things against him and he would get almost all the blame because everyone else in Florida politics has warned about this concept for years," said a Democratic operative, referring to the Sunshine State's ‘dysfunctional’ insurance laws.snip
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