Q2 2009 Take and End-of-June Cash-on-Hand Fundraising Numbers

Here are the Q2 fundraising numbers and cash-on-hand totals at the end of June 2009 for the 2010 Senate candidates.  Compiling courtesy of National Journal’s The Hotline.  Note that those in the “Candidate” column include incumbents, announced candidates, expected candidates, and those from whom we still await a final decision.But first, here’s the numbersfrom the Party’s Senate Committees for Q2:

CommitteeJune TakeQ2 TakeCoHDebtCoH Minus DebtDSCC6.2 million12.8 million7.9 million3.7 million4.2 millionNRSC3.4 million11 million4.3 million04.3 million

At the end of 2008, the DSCC had nearly $11 million in debt compared to the NRSC’s less than $5 million in debt.  The NRSC had a cash-on-hand-minus-debt advantage over the DSCC of about $6.5 million.  That advantage has now nearly evaporated as the DSCC continues to show up the NRSC.

StateCandidatePartyQ2 TakeDebtEnd-of-June CoHALRichard ShelbyR1,384,450014,805,379AKLisa MurkowskiR382,20201,060,738AZJohn McCainR1,697,293918,6005,414,388ARBlanche LincolnD1,270,66703,201,745ARCurtis ColemanR14,43014,4472,802CABarbara BoxerD1,471,37905,408,344CAChuck DeVoreR200,425106,91275,664COMichael BennetD1,219,75302,233,738COKen BuckR332,6560314,288CORyan FrazierR143,0110127,247CTChristopher DoddD1,218,00701,842,324CTRob SimmonsR753,019112,808558,132CTTom FoleyR530,000*??CTSam CaligiuriR126,227094,717DEMike CastleR125,2610861,201FLKendrick MeekD1,167,73702,390,709FLCorrine BrownD44,25015,93840,290FLCharlie CristR$4.3 million*??FLMarco RubioR349,71738,136349,184FLMarion ThorpeR204,26564,49938,237GAJohnny IsaksonR823,65903,019,043HIDaniel InouyeD?NotAvailableIDMike CrapoR544,60702,322,071ILAlexi GiannouliasD676,2129891,654,017ILMark KirkR590,32801,019,647INEvan BayhD795,918012,159,526INMarlin StutzmanR16,72506,716IAChuck GrassleyR904,07713,2163,839,600IABob KrauseD2,37101,357KSJerry MoranR391,83930,3033,136,872KSTodd TiahrtR325,38601,413,151KYJim BunningR302,4670595,571KYTrey GraysonR603,1659,054572,104KYRand PaulR110,755097,848KYJack ConwayD1,328,91701,232,018KYDan MongiardoD303,2240485,886LADavid VitterR1,235,75403,223,018LACharlie MelanconD404,13701,228,042MDBarbara MikulskiD350,92901,520,224MORobin CarnahanD1,034,55701,376,102MORoy BluntR1,443,185164,7941,767,742NVHarry ReidD3,259,92707,337,383NHPaul HodesD781,2460860,409NY-AChuck SchumerD?NotAvailableNY-BKirsten GillibrandD1,541,80703,234,105NY-BCarolyn MaloneyD577,74101,661,775NY-BPeter KingR248,70801,299,971NCRichard BurrR1,160,09202,507,020NDByron DorganD940,27603,530,643OHRob PortmanR1,725,39104,345,260OHLee FisherD912,23501,479,893OHJennifer BrunnerD228,000*?165,000*OKTom CoburnR594,09914,099623,451ORRon WydenD1,317,62402,341,319PAArlen SpecterD1,735,69342,1967,564,781PAJoe SestakD1,050,20804,268,011PAPat ToomeyR1,639,19053,0001,113,901PAPeg LuksikR76,788115,49522,937SCJim DeMintR571,16602,600,487SDJohn ThuneR1,130,65205,105,240UTRobert BennettR761,3700933,423VTPat LeahyD705,75702,245,754WAPatty MurrayD1,557,01604,233,006WIRuss FeingoldD719,42922,3052,885,833

*Numbers not available for The Hotline’s summary – numbers come from media reports.Observations:

1) Delaware’s Mike Castle and New York’s Peter King are not fundraising like Republicans who really want to run for Senate.  Castle’s $125K is already kind of low to start, and it’s even more stark when one notes that almost $110K of that came from PACs – i.e. he only raised about $15,000 from actual people in all of Q2.  Similarly, in expensive New York, Peter King’s less than a quarter million raised in Q2 (with less than $1.3 million in the bank) is not statewide campaign money.  On the Democratic side, Florida’s Corrine Brown taking in a mere $44K, with only $40K in the bank, suggests that she is not serious about a primary challenge to Congressman Kendrick Meek.

2) We have telling numbers in two Democratic primaries.  In Ohio, Q2 was a reply of Q1, where Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher crushed Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for the second quarter in a row, around $1 million to around a quarter-million.  Fisher’s cash-on-hand advantage is approaching 10-1 over Brunner.  Relatively bleak numbers for Brunner.  At this point, expect Fisher to point to campaign viability as an argument for locking up the nomination and boxing out Brunner.  In Kentucky, state Attorney General Jack Conway decimated Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, 1.33 million to 0.3 million.  That’s a million dollar difference.  If Conway’s support among KY-Dems stands relative to his fundraising over Mongiardo, he is well on his way to the nomination.

3) Speaking of the Kentucky Senate race, yup, Jim Bunning’s stand-in in-waiting, Trey Grayson, outraised Bunning.  Bunning still has a cash-on-hand advantage, and Greyson’s line still is that he won’t challenge Bunning in a primary.  Nevertheless, those numbers stand out quite a bit.  Let’s hope Bunning’s stubbornness wins out.

4) In the impending Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, Congressman Joe Sestak’s $1+ million quarter should prove that Ed Rendell can’t singlehandedly turn off the campaign contribution flow to Sestak.

What do all these numbers tell you?  What stands out?

Senate Guru Format Change

Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 18:49 PM EDT

You may have noticed that I haven’t gotten back to daily updates as promised following the swearing in of Senator Al Franken (still very cool to type).  Put simply, the daily updates, designed to be as comprehensive as possible on all news related to Senate races, became too time-consuming to manage.  As such, I’ll be changing the format a bit.  Instead of the daily rundowns, I’ll be posting in a more traditional blog style, with more in-depth analysis of individual items, rather than broad rundowns.  I may not get every bite of news out there (which I encourage readers to share in comments as they find items of interest!), but it will allow me to focus more thoroughly on stories of greater moment.  As always, please share your thoughts, constructive criticisms, and the like in the comments.  And thanks for being patient!

Highlights from While I Was Away

Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 20:17 PM EDT

Polls

    • Ohio, Quinnipiac, July 7: Democrats narrowly lead Republican two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman in this latest poll: Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher leads Portman 37-33 and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner leads Portman 35-34.
    • Florida, Mason Dixon, June 30: This new MD poll echoes the June 24 Rasmussen numbers (see below) in which Congressman Kendrick Meek holds Gov. Charlie Crist under 50%.  Crist leads Congressman Meek 48-26, and leads Congresswoman Corrine Brown (who is considering a 2010 Senate bid) 55-24.  The poll also showed Crist leading Marco Rubio in the GOP primary 51-23, and Meek leading Brown in the Democratic primary 27-12.
    • North Carolina, Insider Advantage, June 25: IA confirms PPP’s findings that vulnerable freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr is in trouble: the clock Burr’s approval way down at 39%.
    • Florida, Rasmussen, June 24: Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek holds Gov. Charlie Crist under 50% in this match-up, as Crist only leads 46-28.  Crist also leads Congresswoman Corrine Brown 50-29.
    • Ohio, PPP, June 23: Democrats continue to lead Republican two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner leads 40-32 and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher leads 41-32.
    • Hawaii, Research 2000, June 18: Senator Daniel Inouye continues to look extremely safe as he leads by double digits the only potential credible Republican challenger, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, 52-40.
    • Pennsylvania, Rasmussen, June 17: We see numbers tightening, as recently-Republican Arlen Specter leads the still-largely-unknown Congressman Joe Sestak by only 51-32.  Also, in a next-day release, Rasmussen shows both men beating Republican winger Pat Toomey: Specter leads 50-39 and Sestak leads 41-35.
    • North Carolina, PPP, June 17: Only 29% of North Carolina voters think vulnerable freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr deserves another term, Burr’s approve-disapprove is at a lousy 34-35, and Burr trails “generic Democrat” 38-41.  Awesome.  Now if a strong Democrat would just grab the reins.  Former State Senator and Iraq veteran Cal Cunningham seems to be the closest to getting in.
    • Wisconsin, PPP, June 16: Senator Russ Feingold‘s approve-disapprove is at 53-36 and he leads Republican Congresscritter Paul Ryan by double-digits, 51-39.  Just more evidence to suggest that Senator Feingold is quite safe, and that any credible Republican interested in a Senate bid will wait until Senator Herb Kohl’s likely retirement in 2012.Who’s In, Who’s Out
    • Louisiana: It’s looking more and more like Democrats’ top possible Senate recruit, Congressman Charlie Melancon, may enter the race after all against Hookerlover David Vitter.  This would be a big deal.  A Research 2000 poll of LA-Sen from March put Vitter-Melancon as a single digit race, with Vitter under 50%, leading only 48-41.
    • New Hampshire: Former Senator John Sununu will not run for Senate again in 2010, as I frequently predicted.  The Granite State’s appointed Attorney General, Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, has resigned her office in the lead-up to what will be a Senate bid.  Little problem: when New Hampshire Governor John Lynch appointed Ayotte to a second term as AG, she pledged to serve the full term just a few months ago.  Further, Ayotte isn’t denying her pledge but simply saying that, when she made the pledge just a few months ago, she had no idea that the political landscape would be what it now is, which is, of course, totally bogus.  Just another instance of a Republican being a dishonest, promise-breaking opportunist.  On top of that, as Laura Clawson points out, Ayotte is leaving New Hampshire in a big lurch:

      Ayotte isn’t just going back on some personal promise, though. She’s walking away from a huge budget crisis in New Hampshire — and one brought on in part by an opinion she issued saying the state had a right to use $110 million it now turns out it may not have had the right to use. Oops! That’s in litigation now — just the time for the state to lack an attorney general.

      Congressman and likely Democratic nominee Paul Hodes will have no shortage of material to use in pointing out how Ayotte lacks credibility and how she serves herself long before she serves New Hampshire families.

    • Delaware: The First State’s only credible Republican, at-large Congressman Mike Castle, seems like he’s leaning toward retirement more than a 2010 Senate bid or House re-election run:

      “They’ve asked me to run for the Senate as a Republican. I don’t know if I’m going to do that,” business-friendly Castle told a crowd of financial planners at Cira Centre in Philadelphia yesterday. …Meanwhile, says Castle, “my wife talks about beaches in Florida. I don’t know if I want to run for the House again, let alone for the four years of Biden’s term.”

      Sounds like the Castle family is looking forward to a nice retirement vacation.

    • Illinois: The state’s most popular politician, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has decided to run for re-election in 2010, rather than make a Senate or gubernatorial bid.  As a result, Republican Mark Kirk seems emboldened toward a 2010 Senate bid.  (Kirk was last seen trying to undermine the U.S.’s ability to borrow money from China.)  Meanwhile, Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson is taking steps toward a 2010 Senate bid, forming an exploratory committee.  Businessman Chris Kennedy continues to poke at the edges while state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias remains the nominal frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
    • New York: People close to Rep. Carolyn Maloney insist that she will challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the 2010 Democratic Senate nomination, and that a formal announcement is expected in the middle of this month.  Still, a large group of Maloney supporters is urging her to not engage in a potentially divisive primary and to stay out of the 2010 Senate race.  Stay tuned.  Meanwhile, Senator Gillibrand has garnered the endorsements of nearly every single County Democratic Committee Chair across New York state, as well as the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Pretty impressive
    • Pennsylvania: It looks like the PA-GOP is accepting that they’re stuck with far-right-winger Pat Toomey as their 2010 Senate nominee as Jim Gerlach rules out a Senate bid and Republican Congressman Joe Pitts endorses Toomey, as does PA-GOP Congressman Bill Shuster.
    • Nevada: Former Congressman Jon Porter has given the firm “No” on a possible 2010 Senate challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Worse still for the NV-GOP, their last best option, Rep. Dean Heller, appears to be leaning against a run, as well.  When Senator Reid announces his Q2 fundraising haul, it should convince Heller to stay out.
    • North Dakota: Republican Gov. John Hoeven says that he will decide by September whether or not he will run for Senate against popular incumbent Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan.  A February Research 2000 poll showed the two men with nearly identical popularity, but with Senator Dorgan crushing Hoeven 57-35.
    • Missouri: Republican friend-of-all-lobbyists Roy Blunt may have another primary opponent as State Senator Chuck Purgason is forming an exploratory committee for a 2010 Senate bid.
  • Republicans Embarrassing Themselves
  • John Ensign… well, you get the picture.  What is it with these “family values” Republicans?  Ensign was a member of the Promise Keepers.  Mark Sanford has always been one of the most vocal opponents to same-sex marriage equality.  David Vitter put his kids in his campaign commercials as he talked up his alleged family values.  All three cheated.  All three failed to live up to their own standards of conduct.  None of the three resigned.  Typical Republican hypocrisy.  (And, should Missouri Republican Roy Blunt be added to this list?)
  • Arkansas: Several political neophytes are seeking the Republican nomination for Senate in 2010.  The nominal frontrunner may be businessman Curtis Coleman, who recently made headlines with a clearly racist comment, suggesting that one would need “a visa and shots” before entering the region of the state containing the largest black population.  Charming.
  • Ohio: Republican two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman makes his argument for a Senate seat: he’s the consummate Washington insider.  Keep up the great messaging, Rob.
  • Florida: In yet another sign of how much the Republican base does not like Charlie Crist, one local Republican straw poll of Pasco, Florida Republicans put it at Marco Rubio 73, Crist 9.  Despite big poll numbers for Crist now, Rubio has plenty of time to grow, and plenty of conservative distaste for Crist to work with.  Rubio also gained the endorsement of conservative Republican Florida Congressman Jeff Miller, another sign that conservatives are unhappy with Crist.  To cap it all off, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board likened Crist to, of all people, Barney Frank!

“Senator Al Franken” is Now Official

Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 12:30 PM EDT

I just watched Senator Al Franken sworn in on C-SPAN 2.  Quite a sight.This means that MN-Sen Overtime is now officially over.  Also, it means that my break is over and I’ll be getting back to regular blogging.Consider this an open thread.  What did you learn about Minnesota, the political process, or Republican obstructionism over the last eight months?  To what degree will the Democratic caucus now having 60 members actually have on the Senate Democratic agenda, President Obama’s agenda, and the progressive wish list of legislation?

One thing I learned: the web-based journalists of MinnPost and The Minnesota Independent blow the doors off of the political writers from the Star Tribune.  Also, people-powered journalism like The Uptake (which needs your contributions to function) is invaluable.

In any event, another hearty congratulations goes out to Senator Franken and his staff.  Further, a sense of relief returns to Minnesota, which at long last finally has two U.S. Senators once again.

June Senate Approval Numbers from Survey USA

Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 15:29 PM EDT

SUSA is up with their June 2009 numbers.Republicans:

Jim BunningJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve424139343141Disapprove434448525751

Bunning must be thrilled to have only a negative ten-point net approval.  Although, interestingly, his partisan approval number is lowest among Republicans: 44% of Democrats approve, 44% of independents approve, but only 36% of Republicans approve while 54% of Kentucky GOoPers disapprove.  The question could become whether or not Bunning can even win re-nomination, much less re-election.  Bunning should hope for either no primary opposition or lots of primary opposition, as lots of primary opposition would allow him to squeak through with a plurality.  And the latter instance may be more likely.  If Bunning has only one or two credible primary opponents, he could well lose re-nomination.

Chuck GrassleyJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve717168596358Disapprove222327322734

Grassley’s net 24-point approval, while still very solid, is Grassley’s lowest such figure ever in Survey USA polling, and the 58% approval is his lowest approval number in Survey USA polling history.  Still, 58% is plenty good enough to win re-election.  We’ll see if his numbers dip low enough for Democrat Bob Krause to take advantage or for the race to look more attractive to higher-profile Democrats.

Richard ShelbyJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve605856515657Disapprove293237413733

Though Shelby’s numbers were in a steady and sharp decline in the first four months of the year (January net approval 31 points to April net approval 10 points), his numbers have rebounded a bit to a much healthier 24-point net approval.  Another dip could make things interesting, but Shelby’s $13.5 million bankroll can definitely keep him warm at night.

Democrats:

Barbara BoxerJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve524348475448Disapprove384740444147

Senator Boxer’s low net approval will continue to make her an attractive target for Republicans, but the numbers may be a bit deceiving.  Only two-thirds of Democrats approve of Senator Boxer in this latest poll, with one-quarter disapproving and a few more percent unsure.  In California, where Democrats make up some 45% of the electorate, if those Democrats who don’t approve of her come back to the Party fold, she’ll still handily win re-election.

Russ FeingoldJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve615151555356Disapprove313842374037

Senator Feingold’s numbers remain strong enough to avoid any serious Republican opposition, as Republicans wait out Herb Kohl’s likely retirement in 2012.

Kirsten GillibrandFeb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve4139364140Disapprove3334393732

While a quarter of respondents still remain “Not Sure” about Senator Gillibrand, her eight-point positive net approval matches her strongest showing in her five months of Survey USA polling.  Nevertheless, only about half of Democrats approve, with about a quarter of Dems disapproving and a quarter of Dems still unsure, giving some oxygen to a primary challenge.  That said, as with Senator Boxer in California, once those currently-disapproving Dems come back into the fold in a general election, Senator Gillibrand shouldn’t have too much trouble holding the seat on Election Day.

Patty MurrayJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve555454545056Disapprove363734323435

Senator Murray’s numbers remain steady, solid, and cruising to re-election, especially with no significant Republican opposition on the horizon.

Chuck SchumerJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve636159626362Disapprove273133313030

I’ll say it yet again: there remains every reason to expect that Senator Schumer is the U.S. Senate’s safest incumbent in 2010.

Ron WydenJan. ’09Feb. ’09Mar. ’09Apr. ’09May ’09June ’09Approve625755565555Disapprove253129333337

Like Senator Murray, Senator Wyden’s numbers remain steady, solid, and cruising to re-election.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) – Update x3

Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 14:28 PM EDT

The Star Tribune:

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in favor of Al Franken in the disputed U.S. Senate race, according to Franken attorney David Lillehaug.

Here’s the link to the official decision, in PDF.

The unanimous decision should pretty much knock the wind out of the sails for a federal appeal by Republican Norm Coleman.  I expect that Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will commiserate with the Coleman camp and then proceed with election certificate preparation.  Any further delay would be purely political obstruction, the response for which would be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proceeding with Senator Franken’s seating.

Congratulations Senator Al Franken.

 

UPDATE: Three items: 1) Pawlenty sounds about ready to sign; 2) Coleman has ten days to appeal or seek a stay; 3) Senator Franken is having a press conference at 4:30pm Eastern Time – I’ll be watching The Uptake.

UPDATE 2: MSNBC just reported that Norm Coleman will speak at 4pm Eastern Time.  I suppose that if he doesn’t plan on appealing further, he’ll announce as such today – especially in light of the unanimous decision.  MSNBC also reported that Senator Franken is speaking at 5:15 Eastern Time… so stay tuned.

UPDATE 3: Coleman is speaking now.  He is abiding by the Court’s decision and is congratulating Minnesota’s new Senator.  It’s all over but the paperwork.  Senator Franken.  Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh must be losing it.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

Just On a Brief Hiatus

Tue Jun 23, 2009 at 11:55 AM EDT

Didn’t want you to think I’d gone all Mark Sanford on you!Just taking a little blogging break.  Sure, between Republican philanderer John Ensign’s monumental hypocrisy, Congressman Joe Sestak’s increasingly attractive poll numbers, and Democrats’ continued ownership of the driver’s seatin Ohio, there’s been some news over the last week.  But I’m just “recharging the batteries,” as Mark Sanford’s befuddled aides might say.Assuming that the Minnesota Supreme Court issues its big ruling in the next week, I think that’s when I’ll be back.  (I see that NormDollar.com is just a tad shy of $175,000.)

In the meantime, keep on sharing your thoughts on breaking news in the comments, and I’ll be back soon!

Monday Rundown

Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 15:45 PM EDT

  • Connecticut: Senator Christopher Dodd‘s latest TV ad (video at right) again focuses on the positive impact his leadership on fighting credit card companies’ consumer-harming practices has had on Connecticut families.
  • Texas: Serving as a harbinger of an upcoming Senate resignation, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison is stepping up her gubernatorial campaign outreach – now featuring nifty gubernatorial campaign letterhead.
  • Delaware: Vice President Joe Biden offers his thoughts on the prospect of a 2010 Senate bid by his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.  Elsewhere, an interesting website is up at ThankYouMikeCastle.com. (HT: Delaware Liberal)
  • Minnesota: A former state Supreme Court Justice is not surprised by the fact that it’s been two weeks without a decision since oral arguments were heard and expects that a decision could still be several weeks off.  In other news, Republican Norm Coleman agrees not only that he bites, but that he does, in fact, “bite hard.”  I’m with you on that one, Normie.
  • Iowa: Democratic Senate candidate Bob Krause is taking it to Republican Chuck Grassley for Grassley’s opposition to health care reform that will benefit Iowa families.
  • Louisiana: New Orleans at-large City Councilman Arnie Fielkow has announced that he will not challenge Hookerlover David Vitter in the 2010 Senate race.  Fielkow was never considered a likely candidate, as speculation continues to focus on businessman Jim Bernhard, State Senator Erik La Fleur, and potentially Congressman Charlie Melancon.
  • Kentucky: Republican state Senate President David Williams has completely taken himself out of any consideration for a 2010 Senate run.
  • Pop Culture: The CW Network is working on a pilot for a TV show set in the U.S. Senate.  Called “Body Politic,” it will follow actress Gabrielle Union’s character, a jilted Democratic staffer on Capitol Hill who goes to work for a Republican Senator, played by Tim Matheson (who also played Vice President John Hoynes on The West Wing).  In addition to Union and Matheson, other recognizable actors rumored to be on the show are Bevery Hills 90210′s Brian Austin Green and Hostel’s Jay Hernandez.  I’m willing to check out the pilot.
  • A year without Tim Russert.
  • Latest headline on the Iran election:

    Iran protest cancelled as leaked election results show Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came third
    Iran’s reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has called off a major rally to protest last Friday’s election results, amid claims police had been cleared to open fire on protesters.

Saturday Tidbits

Sat Jun 13, 2009 at 12:04 PM EDT

  • Republican Obstruction: The headline reads “Kyl Won’t Rule Out Stall Tactics on Sotomayor.”  Replace the word “Sotomayor” with “Everything” and you’ll have the most accurate headline possible.  By the way, to Jon Kyl, the emptiest suit in Washington D.C., pleeeeaaassseee boycott the Sotomayor confirmation hearings and ensure Republican irrelevance in the Senate for years to come.
  • Pennsylvania: Congressman Joe Sestak is making a big fundraising push so that his Q2 report shows viability in a primary against Arlen Specter.  Oh, in unrelated news, Congressman Sestak has an ActBlue page through which you can contribute.  Just sayin’.
  • New York: Congressman Anthony Weiner says that Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney personally told him that she will run in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  And the wait for an announcement continues.
  • Illinois: Here’s the latest chapter in the “Roland Burris will never ever be the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2010″ story, courtesy of Rasmussen Reports:

    Sixty-one percent (61%) of Illinois voters now say they would definitely vote against Democratic Senator Roland Burris if he runs for a full term in 2010, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state.That result is up from 54% back in April. …

    Only six percent (6%) of voters would definitely vote for Burris, while 32% say their vote would depend on who runs against him.

    Burris has not yet said whether he intends to seek a full term in the Senate next year, but 74% of Illinois voters say he should not run. Just 13% say he should.

    Burris’ favorable-unfavorable rating is at 18-77.  More than three-quarters believe that Burris engaged in pay-to-play.  Why is he continuing with the charade?  I can’t imagine he has strong fundraising that will dry up once he announces that he’s not running in 2010.  Just get it over with, Roland.  Do yourself, the Democratic Party, and Illinois voters a favor and announce ASAP that you are not running next year.

  • North Carolina: Good news coming next week:

    -Richard Burr will not like the answer to this question:

    Do you think that Richard Burr deserves another term in the US Senate, or is it time to give someone else a chance?

    Now if Democrats can just decide who that someone else will be.

  • Missouri: Boy oh boy, am I looking forward to that Republican primary in Missouri’s 2010 Senate race:

    Former Missouri state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R) told a Missouri interviewer she sees Rep. Roy Blunt (R) as a Washington insider, and that she is still thinking about challenging him in the race for an open Senate seat next year. …Asked for a word that describes Blunt, the veteran congressman and former Republican whip, Steelman said simply: “Washington.”

    I wonder if Steelman will make an issue out of Blunt’s deep ties to corporate lobbyists.

  • Kentucky: It appears that Republican Jim Bunning has found a perfectly legal way to launder money:

    Bunning accepts the salary through the Jim Bunning Foundation, which charges baseball memorabilia companies for the senator’s appearances. Bunning is not able to charge for autographs himself, because of ethics rules, but the money can go to a foundation.Bunning has paid himself a total of $155,000 in salary from the foundation since 2001, according to disclosure documents reviewed by The Hill. He works on foundation business for an estimated one hour a week. …

    But as Bunning was being paid as the foundation’s sole employee, the Jim Bunning Foundation has consistently donated less than the $20,000 the senator collects. The foundation has never given more than $19,575 in a year, according to IRS documents and documents Bunning has filed with the Senate. …

    “It’s probably legal, but I think it’s really questionable,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “He created a charity to allow himself to do what he otherwise couldn’t do, which is taking money for signing baseballs.” …

    “Members are not supposed to have second jobs,” said Bill Allison, a senior researcher at the Sunlight Foundation. “It’s just a little bit strange to have a foundation supposedly for charitable purposes that’s paying you a salary.”

    “It’s fine for members of Congress to have charities. It’s fine for them to donate money. It’s a little bizarre for them to take a salary out of that,” Allison said.

    Seriously, how is this remotely legal?  If this is legal, why can’t any elected official set up a “charitable organization” which hires him or her as the sole staff member, only to raise money (large sums of money from, coincidentally, political supporters and organizations and companies seeking favors), donate little to actual charities, and pay himself or herself a nice side salary?

  • I truly hope Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not get away with appears to be an obviously stolen election.
  • Bill O’Reilly’s desperation can be awfully funny.  Kudos to Salon’s Joan Walsh for rhetorically crushing him.

Early Friday Morning Briefs

Fri Jun 12, 2009 at 01:16 AM EDT

    • Wisconsin: A new Research 2000 poll on WI-Sen shows Senator Russ Feingold in extremely strong shape.  The polls offers hypothetical match-ups between Senator Feingold and two of Wisconsin’s only prominent Republicans: Rep. Paul Ryan and former Rep. Mark Green (WI-GOP’s ’06 Gov nominee).  Senator Feingold leads Ryan 53-32 and leads Green 52-34.  The poll also puts Senator Feingold’s favorable-unfavorable at 56-36.  My guess is that any Republican of note with Senatorial ambitions will wait for Senator Herb Kohl to retire in 2012, when he will be 77-years-old.  In fact, here’s the earliest prediction on WI-Sen-’12 that you’re going to find anywhere: Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin will beat Republican Rep. Paul Ryan by five to ten points, enjoying the coattails of President Obama’s re-election bid.
    • Missouri: Republican former Ambassador Thomas Schweich has decided against a run for Senate in 2010, and is instead endorsing GOP Congresscritter Roy Blunt in the name of Party unity just weeks after Schweich accused Blunt of engaging in a “Washington-style smear campaign” against him.  This may be good news for Democrats.  Republicans will still enjoy a divisive and nasty primary once former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman pulls the trigger on a bid; and, Schweich may have been Republicans’ most competent and least blemished option.
    • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Republicans have launched a new website, GiveItBackArlen.com, on which they encourage Republicans who contributed to Arlen Specter in the past to request a refund, as the donors thought that they were contributing to the eventual Republican nominee for Senate.  Can’t say I blame them.  (Specter has said, since his Party switch, that he would refund contributions to anyone who asked.)
    • Florida: Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek has announced a very important endorsement for his 2010 Senate campaign in Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
    • New York: Here’s the tally of New York’s Democratic House members who have endorsed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and those who have not (yet):

Endorsed
Rep. Michael Arcuri
Rep. Yvette Clarke
Rep. John Hall
Rep. Brian Higgins
Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Rep. Nita Lowey
Rep. Michael McMahon
Rep. Greg Meeks
Rep. Scott Murphy
Rep. Ed Towns
Rep. Nydia Velazquez    Not Yet
Rep. Gary Ackerman
Rep. Timothy Bishop
Rep. Joseph Crowley
Rep. Eliot Engel
Rep. Steve Israel
Rep. Dan Maffei***
Rep. Carolyn Maloney*
Rep. Eric Massa***
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy**
Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Rep. Charlie Rangel
Rep. Jose Serrano*
Rep. Louise Slaughter***
Rep. Paul Tonko***
Rep. Anthony Weiner    *Maloney & Serrano are publicly
considering primary challenges.
**McCarthy has indicated that
she would consider supporting
a primary challenger.
***District does not include
any part of New York City
or Long Island.

    • Support the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial campaigns:

Creigh Deeds for
Governor of Virginia
Deeds
Website
Deeds
Facebook
Deeds
Twitter
Deeds
YouTube
Deeds
Blog
Deeds
CONTRIBUTE
Jon Corzine for
Governor of New Jersey
Corzine
Website
Corzine
Facebook
Corzine
Twitter
Corzine
YouTube
Corzine
Blog
Corzine
CONTRIBUTE

Thursday Round-Up

Thu Jun 11, 2009 at 15:03 PM EDT

  • Minnesota: While not the ultimate decision we’re waiting on, this decision is pretty good.  A judgment has come out of a Ramsey County court that Republican Norm Coleman must pay Senator-elect Al Franken just under $95,000 to cover court costs before the three-judge panel.
  • New York: Labor activist Jonathan Tasini has announced that he will challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the Democratic nomination in the 2010 Senate race, and Tasini has a campaign website up.  No word on whether Tasini would defer to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney if or when she enters the race.  Tasini last ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate against then-Senator Hillary Clinton in her 2006 re-election bid, where Tasini only won 16% of the vote.  In other news, Senator Gillibrand announces her latest endorsement: former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.
  • Florida: It looks like the conservative Club for Growth is getting prepared to enter the 2010 Republican Senate primary on behalf of conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio against less conservative Charlie Crist.
  • Kentucky: State Attorney General Jack Conway has been racking up labor endorsements in his pursuit of the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010.
  • Delaware: Republican Rep. Mike Castle has passed on the opportunity to serve as Ranking Member (i.e. top Republican) on the House Education and Labor Committee, citing indecision about his 2010 plans.  While this doesn’t suggest that he’s leaning toward a 2010 Senate run versus leaning toward retirement, it does suggest that he does not fully expect to be back in the House in 2011.
  • North Carolina: The News & Observer offers its latest look at who’s in and who’s out for the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010 against vulnerable freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr.  The four names most focused on as potential nominees are Congressman Mike McIntyre, N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, State Senator Dan Blue, and former State Senator Cal Cunningham.
  • Illinois: Potential Republican candidate for Senate in 2010 and GOP Congresscritter Mark Kirk is actively working to undermine the American economy.  That’s not an exaggeration.  He’s meeting with Chinese leaders and telling them not to believe U.S. budget numbers – working to reduce American credibility with America’s #1 debt-holder.
  • Utah: Republican Robert Bennett is the worst kind of hypocrite when it comes to federal spending, and his Republican primary opponents will make him answer for it in the 2010 Republican Senate primary.  While bashing President Obama’s stimulus bill, he was pushing for over $180 million in spending to be added to the bill.  Speaking of the primary, businesswoman Cherilyn Eagar has gone from considering a bid to all the way in.  Other Republican primary combatants include state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and businessman & Ron Paul disciple James Williams.
  • Connecticut: Ron Paul advisor Peter Schiff is getting more serious about running for Senate in 2010, meeting with NRSC Chair John Cornyn and soliciting Wilson Research Strategies to poll.  However, Schiff also let slip to a reporter: “I don’t know when the last time I voted was.”
  • Ohio: In the wake of Ohio Secretary of State and 2010 Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner announcing her support for marriage equality, Lieutenant Governor and fellow 2010 Senate candidate Lee Fisher has moved to the left and announced his support for marriage equality.
  • Colorado: Message to Senator Michael Bennet: shit or get off the pot.  Why did you want the appointment to the U.S. Senate vacancy if you’re not going to take positions on important issues?  The Employee Free Choice Act helps working families.  What information are you still waiting for?

Wednesday Quick Hits

Wed Jun 10, 2009 at 14:59 PM EDT

  • Florida: A new Quinnipiac poll offers more numbers, and more of the same, on the FL-Sen 2010 primaries.  In the Republican primary, Gov. Charlie Crist holds a 54-23 lead over the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.  On the Democratic side, Congressman Kendrick Meek gets 18% to 12% for Rep. Corrine Brown (who is considering a 2010 Senate run) and 8% for Rep. Ron Klein (who has ruled out a 2010 Senate run).
  • Minnesota: Election law expert Professor Rick Hasen offers that the federal bench would hold to a pretty tough standard should Republican Norm Coleman seek a stay against the awarding of an election certificate to Senator-elect Al Franken once the state Supreme Court rules against Coleman, making such a delaying tactic unlikely.  MinnPost.com’s Eric Black offers what jurists would refer to as a concurring opinion on the matter of a stay, in which he lays out the criteria that would have to be met for a stay to be issued (and all five criteria would have to be met).

    1. A “reasonable probability” that at least four of the justices will decide to hear the appeal (grant certiorari);
    2. A “fair prospect” that if the court takes the case, it will overturn the MN Supremes;
    3. A “likelihood” that “irreparable harm” will ensue if Franken gets his certificate and (to offset the harm done to Coleman)
    4. “Consideration” of the harm done to Franken if he is delayed for months more from getting his certificate and also
    5. “Consideration” of the interests of the general public of Minnesota in having its full representaiton in the Senate.

    Speaking of that ruling from the state Supreme Court, Professor Hasen speculates that Thursdays are popular days for releasing opinions.

  • Ohio: Ohio Secretary of State and 2010 Democratic Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner goes into thorough detail on her support for marriage equality in a blog entry at The Huffington Post.
  • Connecticut: Ron Paul advisor and potential Republican 2010 Senate candidate Peter Schiff was on The Daily Show last night discussing the economy.  Last he commented, Schiff put his entry into the 2010 Senate race at “better than 50-50.”  Schiff would enter a crowded Republican primary that already includes former Rep. Rob Simmons, State Senator Sam Caligiuri, and former Ambassador Tom Foley.
  • Congratulations to the Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia, State Senator Creigh Deeds, on his primary victory last night.  You can help him rebuild his coffers and prepare to take on Republican nominee (and Pat Robertson disciple) Bob McDonnell by contributing here.  Learn more about (and volunteer for) Deeds at his website.  Learn more about McDonnell at TheRealBobMcDonnell.com.

Tuesday Items

Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 18:41 PM EDT

  • Minnesota: The “One Dollar a Day to Make Norm Coleman Go Away” effort is just a hair shy of the $150,000 mark.  Give it a hand nudging it over the top.
  • Pennsylvania: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner recently released a poll showing Arlen Specter leading Congressman Joe Sestak 55-34 in a potential 2010 Democratic Senate primary match-up.  But that’s not the real story of the poll:

    Sestak already leads among voters who know both candidates: Perhaps the most remarkable number of all in this poll is that Joe Sestak is already leading Arlen Specter among the 30% of voters who know both candidates (p. 4-5):

    Among voters that know Sestak (mostly in the Philadelphia inner suburbs) he enjoys an 18 – 4 favorable-unfavorable ratio, and among voters who already identify both candidates, Sestak actually leads Specter in the initial head to head 52 – 44 percent.

    With numbers like these, claims from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell that Sestak has no chance are unmasked as either absurd or desperate. Sestak is already winning among Democrats who know both candidates. Rendell might have even seen this poll before he made those remarks, since it was completed ten days beforehand.

    To repeat: among Pennsylvania Democrats who know both Specter and Sestak, Sestak leads 52-44!  Quite a jumping off point.  In related news, Congressman Sestak is not pulling any punches, in a message on his campaign website:

    Many of you may have heard about the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate race and Arlen Specter’s decision to abandon the Republican Party and switch to the Democratic Party because he believed that he would have lost in next year’s Republican Primary, ending his political career.We are at such a critical point in Pennsylvania’s history, and our nation’s, that who you are running against pales in comparison to what are you running for. So while Arlen’s decision may be good for himself, politically, to avoid running against someone he could not beat, his decision begs what he is running for, and whether he is the best candidate to shape the future of Pennsylvania.

    Arlen Specter is running for Arlen Specter.  Joe Sestak is running for Pennsylvania.  And Joe Sestak will make that difference clear.  Elsewhere, Barney Frank does not <3 Arlen Specter, but Arlen Specter does <3 Joe Sestak.  Also, Chris Bowers has rounded up some of Arlen Specter’s Greatest Hits, including being a rabid flat tax proponent and moving to the right in a dozen consecutive Congresses.

  • Nevada: A right-wing reactionary group whose sole purpose is to oust Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing a lousy job of attracting support:

    Fundraising appeals sent out by a group that launched a supposedly major anti-Reid campaign last month reveal that the Our Country Deserves Better PAC is struggling financially.”Ouch folks, this is not too good” was the subject line on an e-mail sent Wednesday. It said only 75 people had chipped in less than $2,800 to the latest push for the “Defeat Harry Reid” campaign against the Senate majority leader from Nevada.

    So Senator Reid should watch out for literally a couple seconds of negative radio air time on the horizon thanks to the right-wing juggernaut.  Oh, and the effort only notes two donors who are actually from Nevada.  For all of the GOP’s desperate efforts to portray Senator Reid as vulnerable, all they have been able to illustrate is how safe Senator Reid’s re-election chances are.

  • Illinois: If the 2010 Democratic Senate primary is a heads-up match between state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and businessman Chris Kennedy, the primary could devolve into a contest of who is tighter with President Obama:

    The only announced candidate in the race, Giannoulias, is personally close with Obama and is well-known for being one of his basketball buddies in Illinois. But Rep. [Patrick] Kennedy [Chris Kennedy's cousin] was bullish about his cousin getting support from the White House in the race, saying nobody had done more to wave the “Obama banner” in the 2008 election than his family.”A couple hundred grand to Barack and playing hoops on the court with Barack, and you weigh that political capital next to the endorsement of my family for Barack at the critical juncture for his campaign when he did,” Rep. Kennedy said. “And to me, if that were a fight, they’d have to stop it because it’s a slam dunk for the Kennedys.”

    In a phone interview, Giannoulias responded to Rep. Kennedy’s statement by touting his long-standing relationship with Obama.

    “I’ve been friends with the president for a long time,” Giannoulias said. “He is like a mentor to me. He is one of the reasons I got involved in politics. I don’t want to get into an argument about who knows him better.”

    Congressman Kennedy may be doing his cousin a grave disservice by trying to turn Chris Kennedy’s nascent bid into a statement on the Kennedy family rather than on who can best serve Illinois in the U.S. Senate.  For the time being though, I’m guessing that Chris Kennedy is keeping his powder dry until state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, possibly Illinois’ most popular elected official, makes up her mind as to her 2010 electoral plans, which could include a Senate bid (though she is leaning toward a gubernatorial run according to all reports).

  • Florida: Charlie Crist has been nominated by the conservative Club for Growth for a “Comrade of the Month” award for breaking his no-tax pledge.  I’m sure that 2010 Republican Senate primary opponent Marco Rubio will alert Florida Republicans of Crist’s latest honor.  This could also encourage more national CfG money Rubio’s way.
  • New York: An internal poll for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (conducted by a colleague of the imminently credible – snark – Mark Penn) shows her narrowly leading and in a statistical dead heat with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a potential 2010 Democratic Senate primary match-up.  When an independent poll shows Maloney with any kind of lead, I’ll be impressed.
  • Utah: The water in the UT-GOP 2010 Senate primary pool must be warm because everyone is jumping in.  The latest is businessman James Williams.
  • Rankings: Campaign Diaries offers a thoughtful and thorough look at the 2010 Senate races.

Monday Rundown

Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 13:53 PM EDT

  • Supreme Court: Senate Republican “Leader” Mitch McConnell refuses to rule out filibustering the confirmation of Judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  I guess right-wingers’ homophobic attacks against McConnell are working.
  • Illinois: On her campaign website, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky announced today that she will run to re-election to the House rather than mount a 2010 Senate bid, citing the time commitment of a Senate bid distracting from her House duties.  State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias remains the only Democrat in the 2010 Senate race as state Attorney General Lisa Madigan leans toward a gubernatorial bid, Roland Burris remains the source of controversy, and Chris Kennedy perpetually bounces on the diving board waiting to jump in.  On the Republican side, Congresscritter Mark Kirk continues to deliberate on a bid, considerations for which may have been held up by his finalizing his divorce.
  • Pennsylvania: Recently-Republican Arlen Specter continues to stoke Pennsylvania Labor’s ire with cryptic comments on the Employee Free Choice Act like this one:

    “I believe that you’ll be satisfied with my vote on this issue,” Specter says. “And if you’re not, I recognize your right, in a free society, to cast your vote as you choose. But I think you will be satisfied with my vote on this issue…”

    Given that an unqualified vote for EFCA would simply make labor happy, period, this likely isn’t what Specter has in mind.  Either he’ll be in favor of a watered down version of EFCA, or he’ll vote in favor of cloture on EFCA (to shut down a Republican filibuster) but still vote against the legislation.  We’ll see.  (Talking Points Memo has some great video – and, in the video, Arlen Specter makes it all about Arlen Specter.  He is ridiculously self-absorbed.)  Elsewhere, Open Left’s Chris Bowers sees Congressman Joe Sestak as an extremely impressive candidate:

    Sestak is an extraordinarily relentless campaigner–I have honestly never seen anyone better than him on this front. His constituent services are, from what I understand, possibly the best in the entire Congress. His biography and resume are difficult, if not impossible, to match. Further, he is significantly more progressive than Specter according to all voting scorecards Also, despite the standing ovations in front of the party leadership, there was a stronger anti-Specter undercurrent at the state Democratic committee this weekend then I think most news reports are indicating. You are talking about hundreds of people who spent thirty years trying to defeat Specter, after all.

    On board yet?

  • North Carolina: Congressman Heath Shuler will not be a candidate for Senate in 2010.  I’m actually pleased about that – he’s simply made too many comments that seem to want to undercut the very foundational messages of the Democratic Party.  Between Congressman Mike McIntyre, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, former State Senator Cal Cunningham, and others, I don’t doubt that North Carolinians will enjoy a strong Democratic challenger to vulnerable freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr.
  • Florida: Former Senator Bob Smith (of New Hampshire), now a Florida resident, has filed to run for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2010.  On the positive side, he’ll be a sideshow and distraction for the FL-GOP.  On the negative side, his message is one of returning the GOP to its core conservative values, meaning that any support he could gain would likely chip away from conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio rather than Charlie Crist.  Stay tuned to see if Smith is anything more than footnote.  Best case scenario: seeing that he won’t gain traction among the FL-GOP primary voters, Smith decides instead to run for Senate under the Constitution Party banner, thereby ensuring his presence in the general election, chipping far-right-wing support from the eventual Republican nominee.  Meanwhile, Charlie Crist continues to take a beating in Florida’s editorial pages.  Also, State Senator Dan Gelber has officially entered the race for state Attorney General, and his campaign website has been adjusted reflect the shift from a Senate bid to an AG run.
  • Minnesota: Even more election law experts say that Republican Norm Coleman is toast.
  • New York: Further suggesting a 2010 Democratic Senate primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (who has demonstrated herself to be a strong liberal vote as a U.S. Senator), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is reportedly trying to retain the services of Joe Trippi.  Meanwhile, Senator Gillibrand continues to lock down endorsements from Democratic House members from New York, the latest being Congresspeople Nydia Velazquez and Edolphus Towns, both of Brooklyn.
  • Iowa: Is it just me, or does Republican Chuck Grassley appear to be becoming a bit unglued mentally, or at least becoming irascible Jim Bunning-style?
  • Indiana: Senator Evan Bayh has a Republican oppponent in State Senator Marlin Stutzman.
  • Arkansas: More Republicans are coming out of the woodwork to consider a 2010 Senate challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-WalMart), including conservative activist Tom Cox and veteran Thomas Cotton who “resigned his job with a D.C. law firm after 9/11 to enlist in the military.”

End of Week Briefs

Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 14:08 PM EDT

  • Connecticut: Senator Christopher Dodd, one of the leaders in the health care reform debate, is soliciting your ideas for how to approach reform legislation. (HT: NYT’s The Caucus)
  • Illinois: Monday, June 8, is Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s self-imposed deadline for a decision regarding a 2010 Senate race.  Given that no decisions have been forthcoming from Republican Mark Kirk or Democrats Lisa Madigan or Roland Burris, leaving the landscape unchanged, I wouldn’t be surprised if Congresswoman Schakowsky punted on a decision.  Stay tuned.
  • Iowa: Because of how far right the modern Republican Party has veered, Chuck Grassley might have the reputation of being one of the Senate GOP’s more moderate members, but he can still mindlessly obstruct with the best of them.  Even after going through old records, Grassley can’t remember why he opposed the 1998 confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the 2nd Circuit.  But rest assured, Grassley insists that he is not going into Judge Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings with his mind already made up.  Great.
  • Campaign Finance: The Hill points out:

    With potentially competitive Senate races forming in the seven most populous states in the union, the scope of campaign finance could reach new heights in 2010. …The most populous states contested in 2008 were Georgia and North Carolina, which rank ninth and 10th overall in population. The only top-10 state contested in 2006 was Ohio.

    That said, as The Hill notes, if Republicans don’t land the candidates they want in California, Illinois, and New York, they will likely write those states off.  Nevertheless, there’s still Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and, once Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns, Texas, in addition to potentially competitive races in states like North Carolina and Louisiana.  2010 will be an expensive cycle, which should favor Democrats, given the DSCC’s fundraising strength over the NRSC.

Thursday Afternoon Quick Hits

Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 16:15 PM EDT

  • Supreme Court: Make no mistake, Senate Republicans very much want extremist fringe activists to continue attacking Judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Rankings: NPR’s Ken Rudin releases his “Earlybird Ratings Of 2010 Senate Races.”  The ranking sees no states under “Expected Dem Losses” and Missouri under “Expected GOP Losses.”  There are three “Tossup Dem Seats” in Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois, compared with three “Tossup GOP Seats” in New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio.
  • Minnesota: Reportedly, Republican Norm Coleman is considering packing it in when his appeal doesn’t prevail before the state Supreme Court:

    Sources close to Coleman say the former Senator would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken’s favor. That’s because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken’s certification papers. …Still, sources say Coleman, who is vying for a second term, does not have the same appetite to pursue his case in federal court as he did for his state court battle.

    “He will be done” if he loses at the state Supreme Court, one Republican predicted.

    Republicans like NRSC Chair John Cornyn have recently backed off their “World War III”-style rhetoric.  Either Republicans simply don’t want to fund Coleman’s tilting at windmills any longer or perhaps Coleman has reached the final stage of grief, acceptance.  Nevertheless, election law expert Professor Rick Hasen still sees the possibility of delay by Republicans (and by Gov. Tim Pawlenty specifically) even if Coleman packs it in.  (Again, I think any procedural foot dragging by Republicans would simply legitimize Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moving forward with the seating of Senator-elect Al Franken, and even the most partisan Republicans must recognize that.)

  • Ohio: State Representative Tyrone Yates is bowing out of the 2010 Democratic Senate primary, citing his focus on the state’s budget issues in the state Legislature.
  • Florida: Charlie Crist’s record: Florida now ranks 48th in economic growth out of the 50 states.  I wonder if Crist’s atrocious economic record as Governor will be an issue in the 2010 Senate race.  Meanwhile, Crist’s Republican primary opponent, conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, is locking up support among Florida’s religious conservative community.
  • Kentucky: Despite a staffer for Republican Congresscritter Ed Whitfield registering the www.whitfieldforsenate.com URL, Rep. Whitfield insists that he is running for re-election to the House.
  • Maryland: Senator Barbara Mikulski has her first Republican opponent in lawyer Jim Rutledge.  His “Campaign for Freedom” sounds very Ron Paul.  Senator Mikulski won her 2004 re-election bid by over 30 points.
  • Missouri, Colorado & Connecticut: Missouri Secretary of State and 2010 Senate candidate Robin Carnahan, Senator Michael Bennet, and Senator Christopher Dodd are working together through a joint national fundraising committee to enhance each others’ fundraising leading up to their 2010 elections.  We saw a similar move earlier this year as Senator-elect Al Franken and Senator Barbara Boxer created a joint fundraising committee to help Senator-elect Franken pay for MN-Sen’s overtime and help Senator Boxer prepare for her 2010 Senate re-election.  It’s terrific to see this degree of synergy between Democratic political operations – and it’s doubly terrific to see Republicans unable to catch on.
  • Mir Hussein Moussavi for President of Iran!

Early Thursday Morning Round-Up

Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 00:03 AM EDT

  • New York: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is staffing up in the communications and fundraising departments, another sign that she intends to move forward with a primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.  Said a confidante of Maloney’s, “We’ve got to do something by the end of the month.”  In fact, it could be as soon as… this morning… or not.  My guess (and it’s just a guess) is that, should Maloney announce a primary challenge before the end of June, others considering a primary challenge (like Carolyn McCarthy, Jose Serrano, and Jon Cooper) would line up behind Maloney.  But, if Maloney stumbles out of the gate, it would be embarrassing.Speaking of Senator Gillibrand, she held an informative liveblog on Daily Kos Wednesday morning (the albany project has highlights).  Most enjoyed the exchange, but one troll was giving her a hard time – so Senator Gillibrand personally snarked him into submission, and New York Magazine covered it.  Well played, Senator Gillibrand.  In other news, Republican Rep. Peter King was on MSNBC’s Hardball Wednesday evening where he told Chris Matthews that he would decide on a 2010 Senate bid by Labor Day and that he would even announce his decision on Hardball (fast forward to the last fifteen seconds of this 9+ minute clip).  In speaking to The Hill, King said that the odds of him running for Senate in 2010 are “less than 50-50.”  So, in late August, expect King to appear on Hardball to announce that he’s not running for Senate.  I’ll wait while you set your TiVo.
  • Connecticut: The 2010 Republican Senate primary gets even more crowded as former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley has filed to run for the Republican nomination.  The GOP primary already includes former Rep. Rob Simmons and State Senator Sam Caligiuri and could soon also add Ron Paul economic adviser Peter Schiff (who says that the likelihood of a campaign is “better than 50-50“).  On a side note, Schiff has been encouraging Libertarians to join the GOP.  The more crowded the GOP primary, the more likely that it will be nasty and the harder it will be for any of the Republicans to gain traction against Senator Christopher Dodd as they suffocate each others’ political oxygen.
  • Florida: In signing legislation selling out Florida’s environment to unscrupulous developers, 2010 Senate candidate and lame duck Gov. Charlie Crist is getting horrible press.  The St. Petersburg Times:

    Gov. Charlie Crist just made it easier to pave over what’s left of Florida. By signing SB 360 into law Monday, the governor clearly values the voices of developers and big business – and their campaign checks for his U.S. Senate campaign – over the concerns of environmentalists and local governments. Crist set growth management back more than 20 years and left a permanent stain on his legacy. …For developers, Christmas came on the first day of June. Floridians will be paying for it for years.

    The Palm Beach Post:

    The idea is to make it easier to build when the recession ends. That might help large developers who are likely to donate to Gov. Crist’s campaign. But for the rest of the state, the loss of control over development will make it much harder to protect paradise.

    At least Crist has a friend in the Republican Party of Florida, whose website hypes Crist while largely ignoring Crist’s primary opponent, conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

  • Nevada: Further decimating any chances of a Republican giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a competitive 2010 Senate race is the fact that a looooooooong list of prominent Nevada Republicans have signed on in support of Senator Reid’s re-election.  The list includes elected officials, political strategists, businessmen, activists, and even the First Lady of Nevada, scandal-ridden Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons’ estranged wife Dawn. (HT: Scorecard)
  • Missouri: Republican Congresscritter Roy Blunt seems, when he’s speaking to reporters, to have a hard time remembering those special moments when he does secretive, earmark-related favors for his corporate cronies.  Funny that.
  • North Dakota: Senator Byron Dorgan was Stephen Colbert’s guest Monday night, and an entertaining and enlightening conversation on the dangers of deregulation ensued.
  • North Carolina: Not that she was seriously expected to be a candidate, but Elizabeth Edwards made it clear that she will not be a candidate for Senate in 2010 against freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr.
  • Kentucky: A 43-year-old Republican Navy veteran, Bill Johnson, announced that he will run for Senate in 2010 regardless of whether or not incumbent Jim Bunning stays in, guaranteeing at least some level of primary competition. (HT: B & P)  Elsewhere, an aide to Republican Congresscritter Ed Whitfield has registered a couple of domain names, including www.whitfieldforsenate.com.  Could Rep. Whitfield be preparing for a 2010 Senate campaign should Jim Bunning retire?  (Could he even be preparing a primary challenge?)  It’s more likely that he’s focused on a gubernatorial run, but you never know.  Stay tuned.

MN-Sen: I Don’t Trust Tim Pawlenty

Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 18:59 PM EDT

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been making the rounds on cable news today, no doubt working to raise in his profile for 2012 in the wake of his decision not to run for re-election in 2010.  During these interviews, he has suggested that he would not delay the seating of Minnesota’s next Senator.  Election law experts appear unanimous that the Minnesota Supreme Court will affirm the victory of Senator-elect Al Franken.  The reason I don’t trust Pawlenty is that he is leaving himself too much wiggle room.  Watch the exchange in the video below, from Pawlenty’s appearance today on Fox News:

You know, Neil, if the Minnesota Supreme Court says, ‘You sign the certificate’ — and there’s not an appeal or some other contrary direction from a federal court — you know, that’s my duty.

Now take into account this report from MinnPost.com’s Eric Black back in April:

In a series of email exchanges with Pawlenty’s spokester, Brian McClung, I sought to clarify what level of discretion the guv was claiming over the issuance of the certificate. At first, McClung pointed out that there is no deadline in the law for the issuance of the certificate after the conclusion of the Contest Court process and state Supreme Court appeal. It sounded as if Pawlenty was claiming the right to indefinitely postpone the certificate.

Superficially, Pawlenty is telling us not to worry, that he’s happy to sign on the dotted line.  But he also throws in the caveat “and there’s not an appeal or some other contrary direction from a federal court” which makes me wonder.

Having watched the state Supreme Court’s proceedings on June 1 when they heard oral arguments from both campaigns, I have a very positive impression of the Court and of the Justices’ attention to detail.  Expecting that they affirm Senator-elect Franken’s victory, it would be proper of them to include an order for Pawlenty, in his role as Governor, to prepare and sign an election certificate.  But, given that his staff has noted that there’s no time requirement attached, Pawlenty could very easily slow walk the certificate while Republican Norm Coleman seeks a stay or an injunction on the certificate from a federal court in advance of a federal appeal.  University of Minnesota’s Professor Larry Jacobs explains:

But Jacobs still sees wiggle room here. “Signing it — and how quickly you sign it — those are two different things,” Jacobs explained. “If Norm indicates that he’s going to be filing in federal court, the Governor may just say, ‘you know, I am gonna sign it, I’m just waiting to hear from my legal counsel that this is appropriate.’”

Further, if the state Supreme Court affirms Senator-elect Franken’s victory but doesn’t add in the explicit order to Pawlenty to prepare and sign the election certificate, then who knows!?  At the very least, Pawlenty’s reassuring words are not all that reassuring, nor should they be given the wiggle room those words leave for Pawlenty.  Of course, if Pawlenty deliberately obstructs and delays after the state Supreme Court rules in Senator-elect Franken’s favor, the U.S. Senate is still empowered to seat Senator-elect Franken (and Pawlenty’s delay would likely give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the political impetus to move forward with Senator-elect Franken’s seating), but that move still faces the threat of filibuster from Republicans.  If that were to happen, Democrats would likely need a couple of Republicans to buck their Party in the name of supporting the democratic process.  Hopefully this issue will be moot, but it’s never too early for Democrats to reach out to more responsible Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Dick Lugar about their willingness to support Senator-elect Franken’s seating should the eventuality arise.

Wednesday Afternoon Tidbits

Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 13:48 PM EDT

  • New Hampshire: Republican gubernatorial race loser Ovide Lamontagne met with the NRSC about a possible 2010 Senate bid.  Lamontagne was crushed by now-Senator Jeanne Shaheen in the 1996 NH-Gov race, 57-40.  Ovide 2010!
  • Minnesota: Now-lame-duck Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty continues to weasel about regarding whether or not he will prepare and sign an election certificate following the state Supreme Court’s pending decision.
  • Pennsylvania: Tom Ferrick at pa2010.com has a terrific column up explaining the many ways in which Congressman Joe Sestak will have the edge over Arlen Specter in the race for the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010.  Very worth a read.  Elsewhere, a coalition of progressive organizations in Pennsylvania have launched The Specter Scorecard to track Specter’s votes on matters of concern to progressives.  Meanwhile, Specter appears even more desperate as his fundraising pleas are getting ever more shameless.  You of course recall about a month ago when it came out that the cancer awareness website that Specter supported was really a fundraising gimmick for Specter’s re-election campaign.  Now it’s being reported that, when Specter attends conferences to speak on policy, completely unrelated to his campaign efforts, he’s still making fundraising pleas to the unwitting attendees:

    It’s no secret that cash rules political campaigns and that candidates spend a lot of their time trying to pry checks out of voters, businesses and interest groups and just about whoever. It’s usually done discreetly at fundraisers held in places like the back room of a restaurant or the home of a prominent supporter.Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) isn’t so shy, apparently.

    In an unusual move, Specter pleaded with a roomful of conference attendees Wednesday: Please write me a check. Members of Congress give talks at industry meetings all the time but they rarely – if ever – straight up ask for dough in public, especially when reporters are lurking about.

    Specter was finishing up brief speech about healthcare reform to an audience of medical equipment suppliers when he closed his remarks with a fundraising pitch.

    “My last [campaign] cost $23 mil. So I’d like you to consider giving me a hand with it. Campaign contributions are limited in the federal system so I have to get 50,000 contributors and the people in your industry have a reason to know my work and analysis of the situation. If you can see your way to help out, I’d be very much appreciative,” Specter said.

    Again, that pitch wasn’t at a campaign fundraiser among supporters.  It was at health care policy conference in a roomful of medical equipment suppliers who came to hear a legislator speak on policy, not a candidate pitch his re-election campaign.  Pretty shameless, and it reeks of desperation.

  • Florida: Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s timeline as to when she will firmly decide whether or not she will run for Senate in 2010 seems a bit unclear.  On Sunday, it was reported: “She expects to make a decision within a few weeks.”  However, today it’s reported: “Brown said she will decide whether to run within six months.”  Congressman Kendrick Meek already has a huge head start in fundraising and endorsements.  She needs to jump in ASAP if she wants to offer a competitive campaign.  Shifting her decision-making timeline from “a few weeks” to “six months” suggests to me that she’s less serious about the race and just wants to put in her marker in the case that Congressman Meek stumbles.
  • Georgia: Former Governor Roy Barnes will join the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, which already includes state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, state House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, and David Poythress, former commander of the Georgia National Guard.  With so much talent in the gubernatorial primary, do you think at least one of them could be talked into challenging the less-strong-than-you-might-think freshman Republican backbencher Johnny Isakson?
  • NRSC: NRSC Chair John Cornyn continues to piss off conservatives, this time for having the stones to “co-sponsor legislation with Teddy Kennedy that will increase the size and scope of the federal government and its regulatory powers.”  Grassroots and netroots conservative activists are growing to loathe the NRSC under John Cornyn.

Tuesday Briefs

Tue Jun 02, 2009 at 14:14 PM EDT

  • NRSC: When it comes to fundraising off of lobbyists, the NRSC is like the tobacco industry: get them hooked young:

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a new program, dubbed “The Network,” to reach out to younger donors on K Street.

    And the Circle of Life continues for Republican addiction to special interest cash.

  • Pennsylvania: New Susquehanna Polling and Research numbers are quite enlightening.  63% of PA-Dems want a competitive primary while only 28% want Arlen Specter as the unchallenged nominee.  Also, Specter’s lead over Republican Pat Toomey is only in single digits, 46-37, making his experience and supposed electability arguments much less compelling.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak runs for Senate in 2010, he will be the Democratic nominee and Pennsylvania’s next Senator.
  • Utah: Republican Robert Bennett may get a second primary opponent in addition to state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff as real estate marketer Cherilyn Eagar is preparing to form an exploratory committee for a 2010 Senate bid.  Eagar campaigned for Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP Presidential primaries, and echoed Shurtleff’s criticism of Bennett’s support for Wall Street bailouts.
  • Florida: Now this is a clever idea:

    The early-and-often assault on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) continues today, as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) launches the “Charlie Crist’s Scheduling Office” hotline.Callers to 1-800-403-2195 will be treated to hold music while he scheduler tries to find Crist, reminders that Crist has missed 62 days of work, and invitations to schedule meetings with Crist on “big yachts” and “rubbing elbows” with celebrities.

    Call the 800 number.  It’s really funny – and innovative.  (Hotline On Call has more.)

  • Minnesota: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty reportedly will not run for re-election next year.  What impact, if any, will this have on bringing closure to the 2008 Senate race?  Well, now that he need not concern himself with his approval level in Minnesota, he can seek the approval of right-wing Republican primary voters nationwide as he considers a Presidential run – and that begins with doing all he legally can to slow down the seating of Senator-elect Al Franken.
  • California: It’s a bit peculiar that golden-parachute-loving businesswoman Carly Fiorina is considering a run for elective office given that she only bothered to show up for and vote in about 25% of the elections in which she was eligible to vote since 2000.  Participatory democracy doesn’t mean you only participate in it as a candidate for office.  It’s also good to, y’know, vote every chance you can.
  • Missouri: Republican Congresscritter, close friend of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and 2010 Senate candidate Roy Blunt must be a proud husband.  Not only is his wife considered one of the top corporate lobbyists in Washington D.C., but now Abigail Blunt is being considered for a slot on the upcoming reality show “Real Housewives of DC.”  If Blunt gets the reality show role, perhaps she could use some of the money earned from the gig to settle up the Blunt family’s tax problem.
  • Supreme Court: Here’s your conspiracy theory of the day.  Are conservative activists going to blackmail Senate Republican “Leader” Mitch McConnell into filibustering the confirmation to the Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor?  Well, take a look at this possible clue, stoking my conspiracy theory (emphasis added by me):

    But in an interview with POLITICO, Manuel Miranda – who orchestrated the letter – went much farther, saying that Mitch McConnell should “consider resigning” as Senate minority leader if he can’t take a harder line on President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee.Miranda accused McConnell of being “limp-wristed” and “a little bit tone deaf” when it comes to judicial nominees.

    “Limp-wristed”?  Yeah, it’s a synonym for “weak,” which works in Miranda’s context.  But “limp-wristed” is also a slur against gay men.  Of course, rumors have circulated over the years regarding Mitch McConnell’s sexual orientation.  Given that, I find it very noteworthy that Miranda would use that particular terminology.  I can’t imagine that it was by accident.  Would Miranda and other conservative activists leak personal info about McConnell if he doesn’t take a more aggressive stance against Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation?  Yeah, a conspiracy theory, but an interesting one.

  • Terrific first Conan.

Monday Items

Mon Jun 01, 2009 at 14:22 PM EDT

  • Rankings: Nate the Great at 538 has his June Senate Rankings up.  The big movers were Florida dropping significantly (on the entrance of Charlie Crist) and North Carolina dropping a couple notches (on AG Roy Cooper’s not-running announcement).
  • Minnesota: Today was Oral Argument Day in MN-Sen before the state Supreme Court.  Proceedings ran about an hour and fifteen minutes, which I watched in its entirety via The Uptake.  By my impression, the Coleman camp is toast.  The state Supreme Court Justices got Coleman lawyer Joe Friedberg to admit that most of the ballots that Republican Norm Coleman wants counted don’t fully meet statutory requirements, and the Justices harped on the fact that Team Coleman’s evidence simply does not qualify as “proof” of anything – one Justice noted that their “evidence” reads more like “an opening statement.”  Of course, this is all just my impression.  I’ll continue to look for clues on a timeframe, but I’d be surprised if the Court didn’t present a final decision within, say, three weeks tops.  In the pages of the L.A. Times, election law expert Professor Rick Hasen thoughtfully argues that Senator-elect Al Franken should be provisionally seated in the U.S. Senate if Coleman chooses to appeal to the federal bench after losing this appeal.  Professor Hasen concludes:

    With Coleman facing such long odds at that point, there would be no reason to deny the people of Minnesota half of their Senate representation for another three or more months.

    At his Election Law Blog, Professor Hasen also offers a terrific play-by-play liveblog of this morning’s proceedings, and notes that:

    based upon oral argument I would not be surprised to see a unanimous decision in favor of Franken in a relatively short time frame (within two weeks–maybe sooner). I counted at least three of the five Justices who were much more willing to accept Franken’s arguments than Coleman’s arguments, and who asked Coleman’s side much more difficult questions.

    If the Court rules in Senator-elect Franken’s favor, the ruling would likely include an order for the Governor to prepare and sign an election certificate.  If that happens, Team Coleman could appeal to federal court for a stay on that order, preventing an election certificate from being issued; but, that simply screams “unnecessary obstruction and delay” and could give the U.S. Senate the political impetus to provisionally seat Senator-elect Franken.  And a federal court wouldn’t be compelled to stay the election certificate anyway.  My take is that the best case scenario, which is also a very reasonable scenario, is that Senator-elect Franken will be a seated Senator by mid-to-late June.  To close this MN-Sen update, I’ll offer what I think is the most telling item I have read thus far, from WCCO-TV reporter Esme Murphy:

    Furthermore, I have been unable to find any independent expert who believes Coleman will win in the Minnesota Supreme Court. In fact, I have asked the Coleman camp if they know of any expert and they not given me any names.

    Norm Coleman can’t find a legal expert anywhere who thinks he has a shot.  So there ya go.

  • Oklahoma: Republican Tom Coburn will seek a second term in the U.S. Senate in 2010, despite not bothering to fundraise much thus far.  Polling has Coburn solidly ahead of even the state’s most popular Democrats.  Dems should not let Coburn run uncontested, but this appears to be a safe Republican retention.  At the very least, he does operate under a self-imposed two-term-limit, so this seat will open in 2016.  (Coburn, a long-time proponent of term limits, abided by his own three-term-limit while in the U.S. House, so this pledge should be kept.)  Start recruiting!
  • Utah: State Liquor Control Commission Chairman Sam Granato has officially announced that he will be a Democratic candidate for Senate in 2010.  With Republicans preparing for a high-profile Republican primary between incumbent Robert Bennett and state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, at least Democrats have a credible challenger in place should lightning strike in ruby red Utah.  Best of luck to Mr. Granato!
  • New York: Carolyn Maloney continues to stoke speculation about a 2010 Democratic Senate primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney left little doubt she’s coming after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year. Appearing at a Thursday night fund-raiser at the Manhattan home of folk legend Peter Yarrow, Maloney riffed on Yarrow’s classic “If I Had a Hammer,” saying that when she heard Gov. Paterson’s “doozie” appointment of Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton’s seat, “I wished I had a hammer.” Maloney, who handed out campaign buttons, promised “an important announcement very soon.”

    Maloney’s unnecessarily violent imagery aside, time is becoming a factor.  Although New York has a relatively late primary, in mid-September 2010, a competitive primary challenge (much less a victorious one) would likely have to raise at least $5 to $10 million.  Maloney only had $1.3 million on hand as of the end of March.  Senator Gillibrand raised $2.35 million in the first three months of 2009 alone.  Unless Maloney gets a move on, she should probably put the hammer away.

  • Ohio: The DSCC has a good zinger with which to slam two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman:

    “The Bush trade czar running for the Senate from Ohio is like the captain of the Titanic wanting to be head of the Coast Guard,” said the DSCC’s communications director, Eric Schultz.

    Portman wasn’t just a casual Bush supporter.  Portman was Bush’s budget director and trade chief.  So how do Ohio’s working (and unemployed) families regard the Bush budget and trade policies?

  • Arkansas: Good for the Arkansas organized labor community. Support isn’t mandatory – it’s earned; and, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-WalMart) isn’t earning it.

Weekend Round-Up

Sun May 31, 2009 at 17:56 PM EDT

  • NRSC: According to NRSC Chair John Cornyn, the NRSC and Senate GOP leadership endorsed the less conservative Charlie Crist over the more conservative Marco Rubio not because Crist was more electable but because it would save the NRSC money!  In other words, Republican leadership will cash in their conservative convictions for just a few bucks.  I’m sure that explanation will thrill movement conservatives.  That’s not the only political foot in Cornyn’s metaphorical mouth lately.  Cornyn offered a mild rebuke to Rush Limbaugh for Limbaugh tossing around the word “racist” when describing Judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.  Limbaugh responded by labeling NRSC Chair John Cornyn a “RINO Republican,” RINO standing for “Republican In Name Only.”  I suppose the NRSC can give up on expecting contributions from Rush listeners anytime soon.
  • Minnesota: Don’t forget, Monday is MN-Sen’s Oral Argument Day before the Minnesota Supreme Court.  The process is interesting:

    The process before the Minnesota Supreme Court will be very different from Coleman’s election contest trial. Instead of weeks of witness testimony, the attorneys will take turns standing at a podium and fielding questions from the justices. Coleman’s side has a total of 35 minutes but is likely to argue for 25 and reserve 10 minutes of rebuttal time following Franken’s 25 minutes.

    Coverage will run live on The Uptake.  Should make for some great viewing.  According to The Uptake, oral arguments begin at 9 AM local time (10 AM Eastern Time, 7 AM Pacific Time).  Hopefully, the state Supreme Court Justices have been diligently reviewing the campaigns’ briefs so that a decision should quickly follow oral arguments.  Estimates I’ve seen on a timeframe for a decision seem to sit at two to three weeks after oral arguments.  The sooner we can excise the “-elect” from Senator-elect Al Franken‘s title, the better.

  • Oklahoma: Early reporting says that Republican Tom Coburn will announce that he will run for re-election to the Senate in 2010.  I hope this is erroneous.  If Coburn does retire, OK-Sen is potentially competitive.  If Coburn does run for re-election, it’ll be a safe GOP hold.  We should know for sure one way or the other by Monday afternoon.  The press conference is scheduled for 10 AM local time (11 AM Eastern Time, 8 AM Pacific Time).
  • Florida: State Senator Dan Gelber is reportedly going to “step back” from his 2010 Senate campaign.  He gave a bit of a confusing statement, though, when he said, “I’m not bowing out. I’d simply say I’m taking a step back for the moment.”  Perhaps that alludes to the rumors that he will switch gears and run, instead, for state Attorney General.  Gelber’s campaign website is still geared toward a 2010 Senate bid – I’ll keep an eye out for further statements.  If Gelber does withdraw from the 2010 Senate race, that would leave Congressman Kendrick Meek as the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination, along with underdog North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns in the race.  But possibly not for long.  In an unexpected move, Congresswoman Corrine Brown is reportedly preparing to form an exploratory committee for a 2010 Senate bid.  Congresswoman Brown, who has been in the House since 1993, points to her experience as the compelling reason for her candidacy.  With only about $80,000 in the bank, she would have a steep climb with Congressman Meek doing a very effective job fundraising and securing endorsements.  We’ll soon see how far Congresswoman Brown intends to go with this effort; she says that a decision will come “within a few weeks.”
  • Pennsylvania: I find this verrrrrrry interesting:

    Sestak also revealed that a few months ago, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had commissioned a poll testing him running against then-Republican Specter in a general election – and that it showed Sestak winning. Specter, of course, is now the DSCC’s candidate.

    I’ve predicted it before, and I’ll repeat it: if Congressman Joe Sestak officially enters the 2010 Democratic Senate primary against recently-Republican Arlen Specter, Congressman Sestak will be the Democratic nominee for Senate and Pennsylvania’s next U.S. Senator.  On a very related note, methinks Ed Rendell doth protest too much.

  • Illinois: Roland Burris again says that he will announce his 2010 electoral plans in the “very near future.”  I would be simply floored if he ran.  I mean, with all the scandal and embarrassment surrounding him at this point, I don’t think he could find the competent bodies necessary to form a campaign staff, much less win an election (and that’s even before considering the fact that he has no money to spend on a campaign).  Quite frankly, the biggest favor Burris can do himself is lessen the public spotlight on himself by announcing that he will hang it up at the end of this term.
  • Utah: It looks like Democratic state Liquor Control Commission Chairman Sam Granato will officially announce his entry into the 2010 Senate race tomorrow.  With a tough primary on the Republican side between incumbent Robert Bennett and state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, could lightning strike in Utah?
  • Nevada: Republican state sen. Mark Amodei says that, if Republican Rep. Dean Heller does not run for Senate in 2010, he would consider a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Amodei is not under indictment like Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, is not working for lobbyists like GOP former Rep. Jon Porter, and actually lives in Nevada unlike Wall Street banker John Chachas, so he may be the GOP’s best option for a sacrificial lamb.
  • New York: Could Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s endorsement of Republican-turned-independent NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election bid be an indication that she won’t challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary?
  • Connecticut: Fox News-friendly Democrat Merrick Alpert, who is challenging Senator Christopher Dodd in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary, was sitting there in the room as his local Democratic committee, the Groton Democratic Town Committee, passed a resolution supporting Senator Dodd.  This strongly suggests that Alpert may have a difficult time recruiting the Democratic activists necessary to building a grassroots campaign if he can’t convince those who ostensibly know him best.
  • Ohio: Ohio’s Democratic Secretary of State and 2010 Senate candidate Jennifer Brunner reiterates (once again) that nothing will drive her out of her primary against Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher.  Since it was reported in mid-April that Fisher outraised Brunner in Q1, $1 million to $200,000, it seems that the only times the Brunner campaign has made news has been when she’s reiterated that she’s not leaving the campaign.  Not a good sign.  She needs to post a very solid Q2, or this trend may likely continue.
  • New Hampshire: Republican “investor” Fred Tausch says of a possible 2010 Senate bid, “that’s not something I’ve ruled out.”  Tausch can reportedly self-fund, meaning that he wouldn’t have to rely on the GOP establishment for permission to run, potentially setting up a difficult primary.
  • Kentucky: Republican former Ambassador Cathy Bailey has reportedly hired campaign consultants.  I suppose that would indicate a campaign against Jim Bunning in the 2010 Republican Senate primary is forthcoming.  Stay tuned.
  • Republican Senators are not fiscal conservatives.
  • It might be impossible for Republican Lindsey Graham to have come up with a more insulting question about Judge and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
  • On Monday, June 1, we will see a peaceful transfer of power critical to the well-being of our planet, as Conan O’Brien assumes the hosting duties of The Tonight Show.  As someone who thought that Jay Leno was incapable of delivering a joke in a manner that was – what’s the word? – funny, I’m looking forward to The Conan Era.
  • To steal a convention of Bill Maher’s, NEW RULE: You can’t call yourself “pro-life” and kill people.  I know that this particular kind of psychopathy shouldn’t shock me, but it still does.  Deepest condolences to the family of Dr. George Tiller.

Early Friday Morning Items

Fri May 29, 2009 at 01:51 AM EDT

  • GOP Civil War: Grassroots conservative Republicans’ discontent with the NRSC is beginning to get media attention:

    Conservative rebellion against Washington GOP establishment heating upAn internecine war is heating up between the professional political consultants who run the Washington GOP establishment and insurgent conservatives beyond the Washington Beltway, who are fed up with seeing their money go to anti-life, big-spending, tax-hiking people like Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chaffee.

  • Florida: Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce: Charlie Crist, tax hiker!  In fact, the tax hike that Charlie Crist signed is expected to take an extra $900 million a year out of Floridians’ pockets.  I’m sure this will delight Florida’s conservative Republican anti-tax primary voters.
  • Pennsylvania: New Quinnipiac poll numbers show Arlen Specter losing a bit of ground against Republican right-winger Pat Toomey.  In Q’s May 4 poll, Specter led Toomey by 20 points, 53-33.  The lead is now down to 9 points, 46-37.  Congressman Joe Sestak also leads Pat Toomey, 37-35.  The GOP primary shows Toomey leading (currently gubernatorial candidate) Jim Gerlach 38-10, with anti-abortion rights activist Peg Luksik getting only 3% (which is why it might be wise for Luksik to run for Senate under the Constitution Party banner, as she did when she ran for Governor).Q puts the Democratic primary at Specter 50, Sestak 21.  I find that interesting.  A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll has Specter at 55% in the primary, while a DSCC poll has Specter at 56%.  My impression is that the mid-50s will prove to be Specter’s high point in the primary.  He enjoys high name recognition from decades in the Senate, and Democrats have been generally content with him as a “moderate” Republican.  When Sestak introduces himself, outlines where he will be (and has been) a much better Democrat on the issues than Specter, labor likely comes out for him, and people absorb the notion that Arlen is only in it for Arlen, Democratic voters will leave the fake Democrat for the real Democrat.  In fact, I’ll make this prediction now: if Congressman Joe Sestak enters the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2010, he will be the Democratic nominee.  Meanwhile, the below video is how Ed Schultz kicked off Thursday’s edition of The Ed Show on MSNBC – if it’s any indication, Ed should be talking up Congressman Sestak for some time.
  • New York: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced her latest endorsement, New York’s first African-American statewide elected officeholder, former Comptroller H. Carl McCall.
  • Ohio: Two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman announces the Republican plan for health care: “There isn’t one.”
  • Kentucky: An internal poll by Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo shows him unsurprisingly leading state Attorney General Jack Conway in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary, 43-28.  In addition to being an internal poll, the poll also has a relatively high 5.4% margin of error, so take it with a large grain of salt.
  • Louisiana: Hookerlover David Vitter, fiscal hypocrite:

    Sen. David Vitter, (R-LA), is doing everything he can to keep his earmark-loving reputation alive by seeking roughly $1.1 billion earmarks in the federal 2010 budget. This, despite the fact that Vitter’s Website says  his “top budget priority is to establish greater fiscal discipline.”

    What else would you expect from someone with zero integrity?

  • Connecticut: Senator Christopher Dodd is launching his first TV ad of the campaign cycle:
    This should further boost Senator Dodd’s recovering poll numbers.

    The 30-second spot set to air statewide in Connecticut on Friday features Obama praising the Democrat for his work crafting the new credit card reform bill that the president signed into law last week. Dodd chairs the Senate Banking Committee.”I want to give a special shout-out to Chris Dodd, who has been a relentless fighter to get this done,” Obama says. The president’s comments were made at a Rose Garden signing ceremony for the bill last week.

    Dodd’s campaign is spending more than $100,000 for a week of air time. Dodd has $1.4 million in campaign cash and is expected to maintain a fundraising advantage over his rivals.

Early Thursday Morning Quick Hits

Thu May 28, 2009 at 01:13 AM EDT

  • Supreme Court: Media Matters has done an outstanding job of gathering comments by Republican Senators opposing the filibustering of judicial nominees (way back when a Republican was President).  Here’s the link to the collected statements, and here’s the link to a video collection of some of the statements.  Some Republican Senators have even claimed that filibustering judicial nominees is unconstitutional.  We’ll soon see how strongly they hold to that conviction.
  • Nevada: The Las Vegas Sun provides Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with what I suppose we could call an early endorsement:

    Good for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid is an extraordinary asset for the state in his leadership role

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the most powerful official who has ever served Nevada in Washington, and he has consistently used his position to help Nevadans and improve the state. …

    Since rising to leadership in the Senate, Reid has raised the state’s profile and made Nevada’s concerns a priority in Washington. …

    Nevadans would be foolish to dump Reid, but the senator is taking no chances. …

    Of course, he shouldn’t have to fight – Nevadans should be thankful to have him in the Senate for another six years.

    Citing historical precedent (the 1982 defeat of Democratic Senator Howard Cannon), the Las Vegas Sun makes the logical argument that Senator Reid is the only thing standing between Nevada and a pile of nuclear waste being stored at Yucca Mountain.  Press like this makes me hope that right-wingers will continue to waste money in Nevada that would be better spent by them in other states.

  • Kentucky: Another sign that Republican Jim Bunning isn’t retiring: he just launched his re-election campaign website.
  • Pennsylvania: Even President Josiah Bartlet is taking it to recently-Republican Arlen Specter on the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • California & Minnesota: Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator-elect Al Franken are smartly teaming up for a joint fundraising venture to help Senator Boxer prepare for her 2010 re-election bid and help Senator-elect Franken pay the ongoing costs of MN-Sen’s overtime.
  • Ohio: Both statewide-officeholding Democratic 2010 Senate candidates, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, are vocally supporting the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • North Carolina: Davidson County’s The Dispatch profiles Iraq veteran and former State Senator Cal Cunningham, who is currently considering a 2010 Senate bid against freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr.  It’s a good introduction to this Bronze Star recipient and potential Senate candidate.  Public Policy Polling tested Cunningham against Burr:

    We also tested Cal Cunningham, providing a two sentence biography of him as part of the question to compensate for his low name recognition, and found him trailing by just eight points (42-34). That’s an important reminder that having a good story to tell is more important for potential challengers to Burr than initial name id, a lesson that was learned well in the laborious Democratic recruitment saga of 2008 that ended up with a winner in Kay Hagan.

    Could Cunningham be this cycle’s Kay Hagan?  Stay tuned.

PA-Sen: Congressman Sestak Intends to Run for Senate

Wed May 27, 2009 at 16:59 PM EDT

Talking Points Memo has the scoop:

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate, TPMDC has confirmed.”He intends to get in the race,” says Meg Infantino, the Congressman’s sister, who works at Sestak for Congress. “In the not too distant future, he will sit down with his wife and daughter to make the final decision.”

The move would constitute a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who intends to run for re-election in 2010, after having switched parties earlier this year.

Earlier today, a Sestak volunteer and contributor received a handwritten note from Sestak himself, announcing his intent to run and asking for a contribution. The source provided TPMDC a scan of the letter:

Sestak for SenateThe note says, “I am writing you as especially dear supporters to let you know I intend to run for the U.S. Senate…my candidacy’s credibility will have much to do with my fundraising success by the 30 June FEC filing deadline at the end of this quarter. Would you help me bring the change for the future we Pennsylvanians need[?]”

Infantino confirms that the note is genuine and that “Joe Sestak has written a number of similar notes.”

Arlen Specter’s camp has no comment on this development for the time being.  It looks like the netroots’ Draft Sestak effort may come to positive fruition.  You can help Congressm

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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