End of Quarter Fundraising Push

Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 11:06 AM EDT

(Amazing start!  Let’s keep it going!)(Heading into the final day of the quarter!)(You guys are awesome!  Your generosity astounds me!)The last day of the thirdfundraising quarter of 2009 (whoa, time really flies!) is this Wednesday, September 30.  Our Democratic candidates for Senate need to make as big a fundraising splash as possible in the third quarter to help refute the growing conventional wisdom among the traditional media pundits that 2010 could be a Republican year.Please, please, please consider making a contribution today to our Democratic candidates for Senate via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  I’ve set some lofty, pie-in-the-sky goals that, if we were able to meet them, I’d be wonderfully surprised and gratified and blown away by your generosity.

Democrat for
U.S. Senate
Currently At Goal for
Wednesday night
Distance to Goal
Robin Carnahan $681 $762 $912 $1,037 $1,000 $319 $238 $88
Goal met!
Paul Hodes $780 $921 $1,021 $1,181 $1,000 $220 $79
Goal met!
Joe Sestak $758 $869 $1,004 $1,164 $1,000 $242 $131
Goal met!
Charlie Melancon $193 $224 $289 $400 $207 $176 $111

Please click on over to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page and make a contribution to help stop ongoing Republican obstructionism in the Senate.  Every contribution makes a real impact whether it’s $100 or $25 or $10 or, well, any amount.  Want to rebel against multiples of five and contribute $63 or $39 or $27, knock yourself out!

Remember, the fundraising quarter ends this Wednesday, so please contribute today if you can.  Thank you SO much!

PA-Sen: The Last Thirty Years Versus the Next Thirty Years

Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 11:49 AM EDT

I’ll just let Democratic Congressman Joe Sestaklay it out for you:

In thirty-three weeks, the fifth most senior Republican Senator could become the Democratic nominee from Pennsylvania.  But together we’re going to change that.  This election is not about the last thirty years.  It’s about the next thirty years.  And it’s also about something else: principle.  I promise you to be the most honest, caring, committed, energetic, hard-working Senator that Pennsylvania’s ever had.  We can achieve this together.

Recent Republican Arlen Specter lacks principle.  It is abundantly clear that he sees the 2010 election as being about him, not about the families of Pennsylvania.  Specter’s enormous sense of entitlement is matched only by Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak’s enormous drive toward public service.  Help Congressman Sestak bounce Specter from the Senate with a contribution today via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  (Remember, the fundraising quarter ends tomorrow!)

Early Tuesday Morning Odds & Ends

Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 01:15 AM EDT

  • Missouri: Friend-of-all-corporate-lobbyists Roy Blunt has “scheduled more [health care] industry-hosted fundraisers this year than any of his colleagues on the five House and Senate committees at the center of the health care reform debate.”  Roy Blunt is as bought-and-paid-for as a Republican Congresscritter comes.  Want to combat Blunt’s corporate gratuities?  Contribute to Missouri’s Democratic Secretary of State and 2010 Senate candidate Robin Carnahan via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  Remember, the fundraising quarter ends tomorrow, so please chip in anything you can!
  • Illinois: Remember how fake-moderate Republican Congresscritter Mark Kirk ducked a politically tough vote on whether to extend unemployment benefits?  Well, kudos to Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for stepping up and calling Kirk out on his cowardice:In other news, Republican Mark Kirk displays an impressive degree of stupidity as he attacks the U.S. Census Bureau for associating with – wait for it – one of Kirk’s own campaign contributors!
  • Florida: A three-fer from Florida.  First, Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek doesn’t mince words.  He’s straight up calling out Charlie Crist for wanting to use Florida’s U.S. Senate seat for his own political ends rather than for the betterment of Floridians:

    Governor Crist is using our Senate race to jumpstart his 2012 run. Florida needs someone to deliver stimulus money and jobs and to stop health insurance price gouging.

    Second, we get the metaphor of the week:

    Radio host Jim Philips and I were talking this week about all the serious issues facing Florida – and how Gov. Charlie Crist seems to be MIA for many of them.That’s when Jim said our governor reminded him of Casper the Friendly Ghost.

    And the more I thought about that, the more I think that works.

    Just like Casper, Charlie is always smiling, always friendly – and yet never really completely there.

    Finally, we see Crist dumping on the legacy of his predecessor, Jeb Bush, with a sharp response from Jeb Bush protege and conservative Republican former state House Speaker Marco Rubio:

    In an effort to hide his own economic record, Charlie Crist even appears to have taken a page out of the Obama playbook by blaming a Bush for what he inherited.  Charlie Crist needs to own up to the fact that he inherited a state with 3.3 percent unemployment that has now soared to 10.7 percent on his watch.

    If Crist keeps poking at the Jeb beehive, the swarm might just help Rubio sting Crist.  Crist ought tread lightly.

  • Kentucky: Remember how, in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has the endorsement of his boss, Gov. Steve Beshear, while state Attorney General Jack Conway enjoys the support of just about every other prominent Democrat in Kentucky?  Well, Mongiardo pulls a major political FUBAR as he is caught on tape cursing out and criticizing Beshear.  Yikes.  I don’t see Beshear going out of his way to headline too many Mongiardo fundraisers anytime soon.
  • New Hampshire: While Sarah Palin-esque quitter Kelly Ayotte plays with the Republican establishment in Washington D.C., her opponent in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, Ovide Lamontagne, does good deeds back home in New Hampshire.
  • Delaware: Welcome home, Captain and Attorney General Beau Biden.

FL-Sen: Florida and National Conservatives Continue to Back Rubio Over Crist

Mon Sep 28, 2009 at 08:12 AM EDT

Conservative columnist George Will thinks that conservative Republican former state House Speaker Marco Rubio will pull off an upset and defeat Charlie Cristin the 2010 GOP Senate primary:

In January 2011, one Floridian will leave for the U.S. Senate. He is unlikely to be a former governor at odds with his party’s nominating electorate, or the probable Democratic nominee, Kendrick Meek, a hyper-liberal congressman. Rubio intends to prove that “in the most important swing state, you can run successfully as a principled conservative.” He probably will.

If the straw polls taken around the state by Republican County Committees are any indication, Rubio will indeed defeat Crist.  In fact, since my last round-up of FL-GOP straw polls, which included the following rundown:

Pasco County: Rubio wins, 73-9
Lee County: Rubio wins, “7-to-1 margin” [60-9]
Highlands County: Rubio wins, 75-1
Bay County: Rubio wins, 23-2
Volusia County: GOP Committee censures Crist
Palm Beach County: GOP Committee almost censures Crist as motion fails on a 65-65 tie, still a stinging rebuke
Broward County: GOP Committee attempts a straw poll, blocked only by Crist acolyte eager to avoid embarrassment for Crist

we can add Florida’s Hernando County GOP Committee to the list.  Fernando County is a “poor (median income- $32,572), very white rural area north of Tampa” whose County GOP just backed Rubio in a straw poll over Crist by a vote of 46-0.  Yup, 46-0.  To that, we can also add:

Marion County: Rubio 40, Crist 8
Gilchrist County: Rubio 11, Crist 1
GOP Women’s Club of Duval Federated: Rubio 65, Crist 4
Northwest Orange GOP Women Federated: Rubio 49, Crist 3
Jefferson County GOP: Rubio 30, Crist 6
Florida Federation of College Republicans: Rubio 19, Crist 6

If you add up the eleven straw polls conducted, the total is Rubio 491, Crist 49.  In other words, among recorded Republican activists in Florida, Rubio is crushing Crist by just over a 10-to-1 margin.  But Crist has the support of the Republican “establishment.”  To which Rubio says:

“If you are unhappy with the Republican establishment, then let’s get a new establishment.”

Rubio may be well on his way to accomplishing just that in the FL-GOP.

Weekend Round-Up

Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 22:29 PM EDT

  • The third fundraising quarter of 2009 comes to an end on Wednesday night.  Please, please, please consider a contribution before Wednesday night to our Democratic candidates for Senate via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  Every contribution makes a real impact!  Thank you SO much.
  • Massachusetts: United States Senator Paul Kirk has been sworn in.
  • California: Want a great laugh courtesy of the DSCC?  Remember how failed businesswoman and golden parachute recipient Carly Fiorina launched what has been called the “worst political website ever“?  Well, check out Fiorina’s site for yourself, and then visit the DSCC’s spoof site at CarlyIsDreamin.com.  Well played, DSCC.
  • Illinois: Tough break for Republican Congresscritter Mark Kirk, the perceived front-runner in the 2010 GOP Senate primary: RNC Chairman Michael Steele has reportedly withdrawn his endorsement of Kirk in the Senate race.  The back story: Illinois’ conservative community appears to be coalescing behind conservative businessman Pat Hughes.  Don’t be shocked if we see a real race emerge in the primary between Kirk & Hughes, not dissimilar from the Florida Republican primary between Crist & Rubio.  The movement conservative with the right-wing grassroots army can topple the big money, establishment-backed Goliath with a lot of organizing and a little luck.
  • Louisiana: Here are your two orders from the Pelican State: 1) Defund David Vitter!; and, 2) Don’t trust Vitter on health care.
  • Iowa: Back in August, the Des Moines Register suggested that a Democrat with “name recognition and money” was almost definitely going to enter the race against Republican Chuck Grassley.  There was lots of speculation, but no new candidate announcements.  Fast forward a month and a half to this past Friday, when IA-Dems Chairman Michael Kiernan spoke in very confident tones about a Democrat who will give Grassley “the race of his life.”  No clues on who, but to say that this knight in shining armor is “100 percent committed” to the race.  I’m waiting with bated breath.
  • Wisconsin: Senator Russ Feingold has gotten himself a rich (i.e. one who can self-fund) Republican challenger in real estate developer Terrence Wall.  How far right-wing is Wall?  Of our health care system, Wall says “our system is not broken.”  Of Wall Street run amok, Wall says “I don’t think Wall Street should be regulated.”  Wall probably gave John McCain a standing ovation when he said that the fundamentals of our economy were strong.
  • New Hampshire: Shortly after wealthy Republican businessman William Binnie announced that he is considering joining the 2010 GOP Senate primary, which already includes Sarah Palin-esque quitter Kelly Ayotte and 1996 gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne, another Granite State businessman is considering joining the Republican primary, as well: Jim Bender, a private equity investor and former head of the Logicraft company.
  • Arizona: According to new Public Policy Polling numbers, John McCain has a mediocre approve-disapprove at 48-42, but still enjoys double-digit leads in hypothetical match-ups against potential Democratic opponents.  A bright spot in the PPP Arizona numbers: Jon Kyl, the emptiest suit in Washington D.C., has an even-worse approve-disapprove at 43-40, with Kyl clocking in at a 32-53 approve-disapprove among independents, an atrocious net twenty-one point disapproval among independents.  For an illustration of why Kyl is such a black hole of basic thought, follow this exchange:

    “I don’t need maternity care,” Kyl replied. “So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”Interrupting him, [Senator Debbie] Stabenow added, “I think your mom probably did.”

    If you ask Jon Kyl, he’ll tell you that President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can prevent your country from helping somebody else to do.”  I really can’t wait for Kyl’s seat to be up in 2012.  Kyl is an angry, little man.

  • Health care reform: Forget about voting for or against health care reform for the moment.  ConservaDem Ben Nelson won’t even commit to voting for cloture to end a Republican filibuster on health care reform.  Best thing to do: on Monday, call Nelson’s Washington D.C. office at 202-224-6551 and urge him to support cloture on health care reform regardless of his position on the legislation itself in order to allow for an actual vote on the bill, so as to prevent further Republican obstruction.
  • Polling: Bad week for faulty polling (which is good for people who want polls to be, as best they can be, accurate snapshots of public opinion).  The right-leaning pollster Strategic Vision is under suspicion of outright fabrication of their poll results.Also, Rasmussen Reports, which has released a bunch of polls lately that appear noticeably more favorable to the GOP than the dynamics of the races might suggest, bregrudingly confessed to using different question models for Republicans and Democrats in (so far as we know) one poll, with the question model for the Republican typically yielding more favorable results (i.e. giving the Republican a built-in advantage when determining public sentiment toward him) and the question model for the Democrat yielding less favorable results (i.e. giving the Democrat a built-in disadvantage when determining public sentiment toward him).Though this particular flaw did not infect other polls, it is noteworthy that, for instance, while every poll from every pollster since Spring 2009 has shown Democrats leading Republicans in OH-Sen (Lee Fisher over Rob Portman and Jennifer Brunner over Rob Portman), Rasmussen’s latest take on OH-Sen sees Portman very narrowly leading the Democrats all of a sudden.  It would be very enlightening (and would build confidence in the quality of Rasmussen polling) if they didn’t hide their crosstabs behind a “Premium Member” subscription wall.Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen says it best:

    I remember when I was in high school all of my math textbooks had the answers to all of the odd numbered questions in the back. When you did your homework you could certainly look back there and get the answers right but you didn’t get any credit if you didn’t show your work.

    Strategic Vision, Rasmussen Reports, and, well, all pollsters should “show their work.”

Midweek Catch-Up

Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 01:44 AM EDT

  • NRSC Dishonesty: In order to activate the far-right-wing base, NRSC Chair John Cornyn sent an intentionally misleading mailer to Republicans pretending to be official government business under the heading “U.S. Senate Health Care Task Force,” in which the mailer asks questions dishonestly suggesting that health care reform will lead to rationing of health care and other extremist fantasies.  This rubbish evidences how devoid of integrity Big Bad John Cornyn and the NRSC are.  Infuriated by the NRSC’s ongoing chicanery over health care reform?  Contribute to a Democratic candidate for Senate via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  (With the end of the fundraising quarter just a week away, now is a critically important time to contribute.)
  • Best wishes: It’s becoming a frighteningly all-too-common occurence that I’m wishing Senator Robert Byrd a quick recovery.
  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts state Legislature passed legislation to allow the Governor to make a temporary appointment to fill the Senate vacancy until the special election occurs in January, but there’s one catch.  The policy in Massachusetts is that any newly-passed legislation cannot take effect for 90 days unless it’s voted on as emergency legislation by two-thirds of both houses of the state Legislature, a threshold the bill didn’t meet.  Democratic Governor Deval Patrick does have limited executive authority to declare an emergency situation, but Republicans in the state Legislature could challenge the Governor’s use of this authority in court if they wanted to prolong the situation further.  Right now, all sides are playing the cards close to their respective chests.As of now, the “frontrunner” status for the appointment has shifted from former Governor Michael Dukakis to Paul Kirk, a former top aide to Senator Kennedy, as well as a former DNC Chair and the current head of the Kennedy Library Foundation.  Kirk is reportedly the preferred pick of the Kennedy family.  Elsewhere, retired Major League pitcher Curt Schilling is definitely not running for Senate.  On a separate note, as far as the special election goes, a person or persons close to the Senate Guru blog are involved in Democratic campaigns in the special election.  As such, to avoid a conflict of interest in coverage, Senate Guru will not provide analysis of the primary – only reporting of and links to poll numbers, fundraising numbers, and news of major events like possible debates, sans analysis.
  • Missouri: A new Rasmussen poll puts the match-up between Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Republican friend-of-all-corporate-lobbyists Roy Blunt in a dead heat, 46-46.  As I mentioned above, with the fundraising quarter ending in one week, please help out Secretary of State Carnahan (and other deserving Democrats running for Senate) with a contribution via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.
  • Delaware: As to the question of what Republican Mike Castle will do electorally in 2010, “sources suggest it could be answered as soon as this week.”  Most observers agree that he isn’t running for re-election to the House, that he will either run for Senate or retire.  Many observers also think that, if he was going to run for Senate, he would have pulled the trigger by now.  I’ve thought for a while that Castle will decide on retirement.  I hope he makes it official this week.
    • California: In her not-really-a-Senate-campaign-yet, failed businesswoman and golden parachute recipient Carly Fiorina has launched what is being called the “worst political website ever.”  In other news, the DSCC has launched a new web video using Fiorina’s abysmal business record and conflicting words against her, at right.
    • Nevada: Lest anyone hear rumors to the contrary, Republican former Rep. Jon Porter is definitely not running for Senate in 2010 against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
    • Pennsylvania: Another policy difference between recent Republican Arlen Specter and Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak: Specter continues to support the Defense of Marriage Act (which he voted for), while Congressman Sestak is petitioning House leaders to hold a vote to repeal DOMA.
  • Illinois: Republican Congresscritter Mark Kirk’s top competition in the 2010 Republican Senate primary, real estate developer Pat Hughes, has put out internal polling showing Kirk unable to top 25% in the primary.  Numbers like this will force Kirk to dive further to the right and spend more money in the primary, both actions boding well for the eventual Democratic nominee.  Meanwhile, Kirk is ducking the politically tough votes.  What a leader.
  • Florida: Republican former Gov. Jeb Bush helps conservative Republican former state House Speaker Marco Rubio out by stoking the anti-NRSC, anti-Charlie Crist flames a bit.  Of Rubio, Jeb says, “I think he should be given a chance.”  Of the NRSC endorsing Crist so early in the race, Jeb says, “I think that the idea that the national party would pick a winner a year and a half before an election is the wrong way to go.”  While Jeb is officially neutral in the primary between Rubio and Crist, both of Jeb’s sons have indicated a preference for Rubio over Crist.
  • New Hampshire: Sarah Palin-esque quitter Kelly Ayotte and 1996 gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne may get some company in the 2010 Republican Senate primary as wealthy businessman William Binnie considers a Senate run of his own.
  • Ohio: Republican businessman Tom Ganley is making sure that two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman can’t take his 2010 Republican Senate primary challenge for granted by reaching out to Ohio’s conservative grassroots, one tea party at a time.
  • Maryland: A new Gonzales Research poll puts Senator Barbara Mikulski‘s job approval at a whopping 67% with only 22% disapproving.  Not that anyone thought Senator Mikulski wasn’t safe for re-election, but there’s the confirmation.
  • Iowa: Regarding individual mandates for various types of insurance, Republican Chuck Grassley apparently thinks that there is “bipartisan consensus” for them and that they are “an intrusion into private life.”  Not that anyone’s accusing Grassley of being a model of steadiness and consistency.
  • Utah: The far-right-wing Club for Growth continues to tweak Republican incumbent Robert Bennett, who faces a tough primary to his right from Republican state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  I think this is an outstanding use of limited CfG resources.
  • South Carolina: Wingnut Jim DeMint actually said that President Obama working on health care reform “puts our troops at risk.”  And, no, that’s not out of context.  That’s what he meant.  I wonder if DeMint thinks that Hookerlover David Vitter’s obsession with ACORN taking up Senate debate time “puts our troops at risk,” too.
  • Louisiana: Speaking of Hookerlover David Vitter, I find it interesting that when an organization associates with pretend prostitutes, Vitter calls it a crime; but, when Vitter hires real prostitutes, it’s a “very serious sin.”  Quite the spin.  Meanwhile, it looks like Vitter and another Republican philanderer are inventing a new sport: the Republican PAC donation relay:

    Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s political action committee reported giving $5,000 to Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the same week it accepted an identical amount from former Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi.Pickering, like Vitter, is a conservative Christian Republican accused of having an extramarital affair linked to the “C Street” townhouse in Southeast Washington that is at the center of a spate of GOP sex scandals.

    Pickering’s otherwise dormant CHIP PAC made its first donation of the year to Haley’s PAC on Aug. 15 — four days after the governor gave to Vitter’s 2010 re-election campaign — according to a Sept. 20 filing with the Federal Election Commission. The two checks comprise all of the month’s activities for Haley’s PAC, which has just $13,281.37 in the bank and has made only one other contribution this year.

    Is it just a coincidence?

    Vitter, Pickering, and John Ensign should start the C Street Cheater PAC to combine fundraising efforts.

  • Scandal: Speaking of Republican hypocrite John Ensign, he has already lost several staffers (including his Chief of Staff and Communications Director) in the wake of revelations about Ensign’s extramarital affair and his attempts to allegedly cover up the affair with tens of thousands of dollars in hush money paid by Ensign’s mom and dad to the family of his mistress, who Ensign of course employed.  Well, more staffers are checking out of Chez Ensign as his Legislative Director and Deputy Chief of Staff depart.  Ensign is so politically toxic that I hope he is delusional enough to try to run for re-election in 2012.
  • 2012: Behind most jokes are grains of truth.  And non-Democrat Joe Lieberman is “joking” about running as a Republican in his 2012 re-election bid.
  • Oops!: For Republican Jim Bunning, it’s always nap time!
  • Republicans & Lobbyists: Unpopular Republican Mel Martinez has bolted the Senate for – what else? – a lobbying outfit!  I wonder if Republican Senators and corporate lobbyists have their business cards printed up by the same folks to save time.
  • Republican extremism: I don’t think that Iowan Republican Rep. Steve King knows the meanings of most of the words that escape his addled head.  He said that gay marriage will lead to socialism.  I suppose next up will be the contention that recycling newspapers will lead to fascism.

Weekend Round-Up

Mon Sep 21, 2009 at 01:44 AM EDT

  • Iowa: A second poll confirms that Republican Chuck Grassley’s standing among Iowans is slipping.  Grassley’s high-profile delay tactics on health care reform could well be the reason.  Survey USA’s August numbers for Grassley were the worst numbers that Survey USA has ever tallied for Grassley.  Similarly, new Selzer & Co. poll numbers for the Des Moines Register find that Grassley’s approval among Iowans has slipped from 75% in January to 66% in April to 57% last week.  The poll also found that only 45% of Iowans would definitely vote to re-elect Grassley, while 24% would consider an alternative and 13% would definitely vote for an alternative.  Meanwhile, Grassley continues – with a straight face – to attempt to dissociate himself with the “deathers” because he never publicly used the phrase “death panels” – rather, he only said “pull the plug on grandma.”  Sure, totally different.
  • North Carolina & Georgia: Little known fact: both Richard Burr (R-NC) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have voted to keep “being a victim of domestic violence” as a pre-existing condition for which one can be denied health care coverage.
  • Louisiana: Let’s play “Where’s David Vitter?

    Vitter has long championed shutting off funds to Acorn and had filed Amendments to legislation calling for the federal government to do exactly that.  On Monday, Senator Vitter took credit for his efforts in fighting Acorn.  Also, on Monday, the US Senate voted to cut off certain funds to the organization.  However, the vehicle utilized to cut off the federal funds was not by Senator Vitter.  Instead, it was what appears to be an exact instrument by another Senator with numerous co-sponsors, none of them being Senator Vitter.  In fact, the “champion” of crushing Acorn wasn’t even at the vote and many are now wondering why?Here is a segment of a column by ThinkProgress which sheds further light and which is beginning to resonate throughout the national media:

    “Vitter missed the vote that cut off federal funding for the group. A spokesman said that there was “a scheduling error” that caused the senator to miss his flight back to Washington in time for the roll call, but he still “called colleagues and urged them to support the amendment.” Vitter’s outrage over the latest ACORN scandal seems extraordinarily hypocritical, in light of what he went through in 2007: A woman accused of running a Washington prostitution ring placed five phone calls to David Vitter while he was a House member, including two while roll call votes were under way, according to telephone and congressional records. Vitter, a Louisiana Republican now in the Senate, acknowledged Monday that his number was on the woman’s call list and apologized for a “very serious sin.” Vitter, of course, kept his federal funding, and remains in the Senate.

    While Senator Vitter explains what his health care program is, and how he agrees and/or disagrees with the Pelican Institute, he might also want to disclose Monday’s schedule timeline and events to the public.  Otherwise, this story will have legs as it has already been picked up by Gannett ,ABC and other national publications .such as the conservative National Review.

    Hookerlover David Vitter is a liar, a coward, and a hypocrite.  Why would anybody expect him to display the slightest shred of integrity?

  • Colorado: President Obama has weighed in on Colorado’s 2010 Democratic Senate primary, endorsing appointed incumbent Senator Michael Bennet over former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.
  • Missouri: Advice for friend of all corporate lobbyists Roy Blunt: it can be interpreted as more than a bit unseemly, perhaps even explicitly racist, to make jokes comparing leaders of the U.S. government to monkeys.
  • Texas: Republican Congresscritter Joe Barton wants to be considered by Gov. Rick Perry for the appointment to fill the eventual vacancy that will be created when Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns her Senate seat to focus on her gubernatorial bid.  I doubt he’d run in the special election if he is not appointed and nominally made the incumbent; so, he’s just hoping Perry will grant him the alley oop.
  • Health care reform: Maine voters overwhelmingly support a public option by a 2-to-1 margin.  So why won’t Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins represent their constituents?
  • Rankings: WaPo’s Cilliza is out with his latest Senate Line.  Seeing far-right-winger Pat Toomey as not much of a threat and predicting that Republican Mike Castle is more likely to retire than run for Senate, Cillizza has taken Pennsylvania and Delaware off his top ten list.  Also, Connecticut has fallen to #2, with New Hampshire taking the top spot.  In the top ten list, five Democratic seats and five Republican-held seats.
  • Fundraising: During August, while Democrats dilly-dallied on health care reform and Republicans incited the wingnuts to shout angrily at town hall forums (and, apparently, open up their wallets), the NRSC outraised the DSCC for the month.  The NRSC raised $3.1 million in August to finish the month with $5.1 million in the bank and no debt.  The DSCC raised $2.2 million in August to finish the month with $6.9 million in the bank, but $2.9 million in debt.  For the cycle, the DSCC holds a slight fundraising edge so far, $27.4 million to $26.5 million.
  • Oops!: Republican Minnesota Gov. and 2012 Presidential wannabe Tim Pawlenty promotes a phone sex chat line.  True story.

Thursday Odds & Ends

Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 16:01 PM EDT

  • Massachusetts: A new Suffolk University poll looks extremely promising for state Attorney General Martha Coakley:

    The poll, conducted by Suffolk University for 7NEWS, showed Coakley earning 47 percent of the vote among those who said they would vote in the Democratic primary. She easily outpaced Rep. Mike Capuano (D), who won 9 percent, and Alan Khazei, the co-founder of CityYear, who took 3 percent. …In a test of general election candidates, Coakley takes 54 percent of the vote against state Sen. Scott Brown (R), the only major Republican who has pulled papers to run. Brown won 24 percent against Coakley.

    Capuano would have a smaller lead over Brown, winning by a 36 percent to 28 percent margin in the Suffolk University poll. Capuano will formally announce his candidacy on Friday in Boston.

    Coakley’s early lead in the Democratic primary stems from her high name identification. More than half, 53 percent, view her favorably, while just 16 percent have an unfavorable impression of her. Just 16 percent have a favorable view of Capuano, while 14 percent view him unfavorably.

    In other news, Businessman (and George W. Bush & Mitt Romney donor) Stephen Pagliuca has made his Senate candidacy official.  Pagliuca has an estimated $400 million in personal wealth to help fund his campaign.  It will be interesting to hear how Pagliuca identifies himself politically and policy-wise, given that he was a registered Republican until 1998, according to the Boston Globe, and “donated $5,000 to the GOP State Committee” in November 2002.  It doesn’t bode well for Pagliuca that it looks like he is paying people to come to his campaign kick-off announcement.

  • North Carolina: Vulnerable freshman Republican backbencher Richard “Bank Run” Burr is held under 50% by all three Democrats tested in a new Rasmussen poll.  That “Bank Run” Burr can’t top 50% in a Rasmussen poll is rough news for him.  Burr v. North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is 48-38; Burr v. Congressman Bob Etheridge is 48-34; and Burr v. Attorney Kenneth Lewis is 48-32.
  • Florida: Recent events give conservative Republican former state House Speaker Marco Rubio another issue to use in his 2010 GOP Senate primary against Gov. Charlie Crist.  Republicans have, for a while now, portrayed ACORN as everything wrong with democracy.  Well, it turns out that Crist and ACORN are quite close, with Crist having worked with the community organizing group in areas like expanding home ownership.  I wonder if Rubio will reach out to the reactionary right-wing GOP base with a message of Crist and ACORN being awfully good buddies.  Additionally, Rubio scored a high-profile endorsement from Republican Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite of central Florida.
  • Louisiana: Speaking of ACORN, Hookerlover David Vitter is traditionally one of ACORN’s biggest critics in the Republican Party.  Yet, with a couple of ACORN employees under scrutiny for a sting involving people pretending to be tax-dodging prostitutes, Vitter is unusually silent.  Why won’t long-time ACORN critic David Vitter comment on the prostitute-related woes of these ACORN employees?  Would Vitter accept these ACORN employees’ apologies if they said that they were truly sorry for their “very serious sin“?
  • Colorado: Republican former U.S. Interior Secretary (and former Colorado Attorney General) Gale Norton is under federal investigation for allegedly steering federal contracts to a company that later hired her.  Given how many Coloradoans confuse Gale Norton and 2010 Senate candidate & Republican former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, I’m genuinely curious if “Norton under federal investigation” headlines will harm the Norton for Senate campaign.
  • Pennsylvania: A new web video from Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak explains some differences between him and recent Republican Arlen Specter:

CT-Sen: Discontent with Senator Dodd Dropping

Thu Sep 17, 2009 at 13:34 PM EDT

Earlier this week, Research 2000 released numbers that showed Senator Christopher Dodd moving back toward a state of political health.  Today, Qunnipiac releases similar numbers (with July Q numbersin parentheses):

Dodd Numbers
Approve-Disapprove 43-49 (42-52)
Favorable-Unfavorable 40-48 (40-50)
Dodd v. GOP
Dodd v. Rob Simmons 39-44 (39-48)
Dodd v. Sam Caligiuri 40-36 (42-40)
Dodd v. Tom Foley 40-38 (42-42)
Dodd v. Peter Schiff 42-36 (42-38)

I think what we’re seeing is a middle period, after discontent with Senator Dodd peaked, but before voters remember why they’ve supported Senator Dodd for so many years.  They’re in the “open mind” phase – we see his approve and favorable numbers more steady, but his disapprove and unfavorable numbers coming down.  Similarly, in the match-ups against the Republicans, Senator Dodd’s numbers are largely stable, but the Republicans’ numbers are dipping across the board (those shed percentage points having been more anti-Dodd than pro-GOP votes).

Connecticut voters haven’t fully kissed and made up with Senator Dodd (which is why he’d be wise to put out the op-ed I suggested), but they’re remembering that they also don’t like voting for most Republicans these days (Gov. Rell being the exception).  For now, the most important number of the poll is the match-up between Senator Dodd and former Rep. Simmons, and Senator Dodd has seen his deficit cut from nine points to five points.  Don’t be too surprised if the next Q-poll of CT-Sen shows Senator Dodd tied with Simmons at 41 or 42 points apiece.

DE-Sen: Will Mike Castle and Beau Biden Play Chicken?

Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 22:15 PM EDT

Nearly a month-and-a-half ago, 70-year-old Republican Rep. Mike Castle said the following:

“I have a responsibility, primarily to the Republican Party of Delaware, to make it relatively soon. And relatively means in the next month or so.”

So what is holding up Castle’s decision?  Most likely, he is waiting to see what Delaware’s Democratic Attorney General, Beau Biden (son of Vice President Joe Biden), will do.  Keep in mind:

A return to civilian life is three weeks away for some soldiers in the Delaware Army National Guard after almost a year in Iraq. In the case of JAG Capt. Beau Biden, the homecoming also will catapult him back into an intensifying political life. …The return is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m., in Dover on Legislative Mall in front of the John Haslet Armory. …

It leaves the Senate seat beckoning for Beau Biden.

Once Attorney General Biden resumes his official elective duties in less than a month, will he take steps toward a 2010 Senate bid?  Keep in mind that two polls from this past Spring showed Castle leading Biden by varying amounts: Public Policy Polling put the race at 44-36, while Susquehanna Polling and Research put the race at 55-34.

So, Castle has the nominal baseline edge, and would be more likely to go for the Senate seat if it was an easy race, but might prefer retirement to a tough slog against Biden.  Meanwhile, Biden is widely expected to run and would enjoy a Party registration advantage in deep blue Delaware (along with a fairly popular last name in a state that went for Obama-Biden over McCain-Palin last year by a 62-37 margin), but might be daunted by these early poll numbers, and would rather pass on 2010 (and an uphill battle against Castle) and wait for 2014, when a then-75-year-old Castle would likely retire (assuming he’s already on the brink of retirement as is).

We could potentially have a situation where both Biden and Castle would want to run for Senate, but Castle wouldn’t want to tangle with Biden and Biden wouldn’t want to wrangle with Castle.  In short, we may soon see a game of political chicken, where the first poker player to bet big would force the other to fold his hand, but neither wants to push their chips in first.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday Odds & Ends

Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 14:30 PM EDT

  • Massachusetts: With Congressman Stephen Lynch (who was supposed to be the candidate of organized labor) dropping out of the race, it appears that state Attorney General Martha Coakley will be attracting labor’s support.  Meanwhile, Congressman Michael Capuano is making his candidacy official.  Elsewhere, businessman Steve Pagliuca is getting very serious about his likely Senate bid, bringing on high-profile advisers including Governor Deval Patrick’s former chief of staff Doug Rubin, Kennedy consultant Tad Devine, and Obama pollster Joel Benenson.  In the meantime, it looks like the state Legislature will pass the measure to allow the Governor to make an interim appointment until the special election occurs.  The vote could come by the end of the week, with a Senate appointment coming as early as next week.
  • Missouri: Conservative Republican former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman will not run in the 2010 GOP Senate primary against friend-of-all-corporate-lobbyists Roy Blunt, after all.
  • Colorado: New Rasmussen Reports polling shows Republican former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton leading both Senator Michael Bennet and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.  Norton-Bennet is 45-36, and Norton-Romanoff is 42-34.  With independents specifically, Norton leads Bennet 52-21 and Norton leads Romanoff 47-16.
  • Illinois: Guaranteeing that he will have diving-to-the-extreme-right and flip-flopping charges to answer for in the general election, faux-moderate Republican Congresscritter Mark Kirk switches positions right in front of a conservative (and booing) crowd – very literally – saying that he voted for cap-and-trade in the House but would vote against the same policy in the Senate.
  • Pennsylvania: Recent Republican Arlen Specter has zero integrity.  Back in May, he said that he opposed the public option.  Just four and a half months later, now in the thick of a competitive primary, he is saying that single-payer should be “on the table.”  That may sound nice, but it is abundantly clear that Specter is saying whatever he needs to in order to win re-election.  He will not be a reliable vote without Congressman Joe Sestak holding his feet to the fire.  Arlen Specter should not be the Democratic nominee.
  • Connecticut: Businesswoman Linda McMahon has stepped down as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and will officially enter the 2010 Republican Senate primary.  As the only woman in a field that also includes (at least) four men, if McMahon can appeal to a majority of Republican women, she can walk away with the nomination.  It is rumored that she will put millions of her own dollars into the campaign.
  • Nevada: In an attempt to separate himself from the rest of the 2010 Republican Senate primary pack, I suppose, two-time political loser Danny Tarkanian announces that he would welcome the support of Republican Senator John Ensign.  Of course, many Republicans are treating Ensign as radioactive given that his poll numbers have plummetted following his announcement of his extra-marital affair with the wife of a close friend and staff member, as well as the subsequent drips and drabs of news following including Ensign having his mom and dad pay severance/hush money/gift money to the family of Ensign’s extra-marital lover.  Tarkanian, recognizing that he would only need a plurality rather than a majority of votes to win the several-person Republican primary, is hoping that enough Nevada Republicans still stand behind Ensign and would appreciate Tarkanian’s show of support, giving him a primary plurality.
  • California: Today happens to be the one-year anniversary of failed businesswoman and golden parachute recipient Carly Fiorina saying that, “I don’t think John McCain could run a major corporation.”  She, of course, backtracked a bit, saying “It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company.”  So, managing a company and managing a government are two completely different things.  Cool.  But, then, why is Fiorina using her (failed) business experience as her chief qualification for a Senate seat?
  • Wisconsin: Republican Congresscritter Paul Ryan says that he’s more interested in running for Senate than Governor in the future.  It lends credence to my prediction that Senator Herb Kohl will retire in 2012, leading to a face-off between Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Republican Ryan (that I predict Congresswoman Baldwin will win).
  • Health care reform: What Aravosis said: “If the Baucus plan has no Republicans on board, then there goes the justification for making the plan so GOP- and Big Pharma-friendly.”
  • The Atlantic ranks the top 50 most influential political commentators.  The blogosphere is fairly well-represented on the list with people like Glenn Greenwald (#22), Josh Marshall (#29), Matthew Yglesias (#41), Steve Benen (#44), and Ezra Klein (#49).

OH-Sen: Still Looking Good for Democrats

Wed Sep 16, 2009 at 13:10 PM EDT

New Quinnipiac numbersshow that Democrats are still looking strong to pick up Ohio’s Senate seat:

Favorable-Unfavorable
Lee Fisher (D) 33-13 (+20)
Jennifer Brunner (D) 27-14 (+13)
Rob Portman (R) 20-7 (+13)
Tom Ganley (R) 15-5 (+10)
Democratic Primary
Lee Fisher 26
Jennifer Brunner 17
Undecided 55Republican Primary
Rob Portman 27
Tom Ganley 9
Undecided 61
General Election Match-Ups
Fisher-Portman 42-31
Fisher-Ganley 41-29
Brunner-Portman 39-34
Brunner-Ganley 39-31

Both Parties’ primaries are still jump balls, with a majority of both electorates undecided (which makes two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman the biggest loser given that his primary opponent is a political unknown and he can still barely crack a quarter of the OH-GOP).  Regardless of the general election match-ups, though, Democrats are on top.  Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher‘s margins of victory are about double the margins of victory for Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Tuesday Odds & Ends

Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 14:59 PM EDT

  • Louisiana: Hookerlover David Vitter wants to scrap the nation’s employer-based health insurance system and effectively privatize Medicaid:

    Sen. David Vitter endorses health study that urges scrapping employer coverageU.S. Sen. David Vitter has endorsed a new study from a conservative think tank that calls for scrapping the nation’s employer-based health insurance system in favor of individually owned policies and converting the Medicaid program into vouchers for private insurance.

    Here is the response from Vitter’s 2010 Senate opponent, Congressman Charlie Melancon (via e-mail):

    “It’s deeply troubling that Senator Vitter would support a radical plan that calls for taking employer-sponsored health insurance away from millions of Americans. It’s clear that you just can’t trust David Vitter to do what’s right for Louisiana’s working families. In the Senate, I’ll fight to protect employer-sponsored health insurance. In these tough economic times, the 1.9 million Louisianans who depend on employer-sponsored health insurance can’t afford David Vitter’s risky schemes,” said Rep. Charlie Melancon.

    If you’re unsettled by Hookerlover’s desire to destabilize health insurance and privatize Medicaid, consider contributing to Congressman Melancon’s 2010 Senate bid via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

  • Nevada: New Rasmussen Reports numbers show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trailing two potential Republican challengers.  Sue Lowden leads 50-40 and Danny Tarkanian leads 50-43.  The poll pegs Senator Reid’s favorable-unfavorable at 45-54.
  • Colorado: Republican former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton has just kicked off her 2010 Senate bid, but the reviews are less than stellar.  What does fellow Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo have to say?

    “Jane Norton is a nice lady who I like. End of story. But I fear she is not ready for prime time.”

    “Not ready for prime time.”  Classic.

  • New York: Don’t expect a Giuliani for Senate campaign:

    Contrary to a report in the New York Post on Monday, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has no interest in challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in 2010, according to his closest political associate. “He has said time and again that the Senate is not a job for him,” said Tony Carbonetti.

  • California: If failed businesswoman and golden parachute recipient Carly Fiorina does challenge Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010, she does not expect to significantly self-fund the campaign:

    Sure, C-Fi will drop some of her own cash — “an undetermined amount” — spokesflak Beth Miller just told us, but she’ll be “asking donors large and small” to kick in. She’s already started contacting them and it’s going “incredibly positively.” Which is way more positive than plain old “positively.””She’s not going to write big checks for her campaign like Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner,” Miller said. “She has never made any statement that she would self-fund her campaign.”

    The NRSC’s Brian Walsh tells us that they “yes we’ve been aware (of the non-self-funding) — that was not news to us.”

    Well, CA-Sen just got even safer.  A Fiorina spokeswoman said a Fiorina campaign decision will come “sometime this Fall.”

  • New Hampshire: Republican former Rep. Charlie Bass, who Congressman Paul Hodes defeated in 2006, is still considering his political options for 2010, but is leaning more toward a House run than a Senate run.
  • Kentucky: Republicans Rand Paul and Trey Grayson will try to out-wingnut each other as they wrangle for the Club for Growth endorsement.

CT-Sen: Dodd Out of the Fire, Just in the Frying Pan

Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 12:21 PM EDT

You know the expression “out of the frying pan, into the fire”?  Well, Senator Christopher Dodd has climbed out of the fire, it seems, and is just hanging out back in the frying pan, according to new Research 2000 numbers:

Favorable-Unfavorable
Christopher Dodd (D) 43-47
Rob Simmons (R) 43-17
Sam Caligiuri (R) 14-8
Tom Foley (R) 19-6
Peter Schiff (R) 11-6
Republican Primary
Rob Simmons 38
Sam Caligiuri 7
Tom Foley 6
Peter Schiff 1
Dodd v. GOP
Dodd v. Simmons 42-46
Dodd v. Caligiuri 46-37
Dodd v. Foley 44-40
Dodd v. Schiff 47-35

Senator Dodd still has a net negative favorability rating, but it’s closing back in on even money – which can be enough to win in a state as Democratic as Connecticut.  Regarding the Republican primary, clearly, all non-Simmons candidates still have a lot of work to do raising their name ID.  Don’t be too surprised if the non-Simmons Republicans start taking shots directly at Simmons.  In this poll, Senator Dodd now only trails Simmons by the margin of error.  Now would be a good time for Senator Dodd to get on that op-ed piece I recommended so that he can absolutely, once-and-for-all put the mortgage faux-controversy behind him and set the record straight on the AIG situation.  After that, don’t be too surprised to see Senator Dodd leading Simmons in polling before the end of the year.

MA-Sen: Khazei is In, and Interim Senator Update – UPDATE: Shocker! Lynch Drops Out

Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 11:32 AM EDT

The who:

Alan Khazei, the 48-year-old cofounder of City Year, the nationwide community service program for young adults, plans to pull nomination papers this morning for the Democratic primary race for US Senate.Khazei had been eyeing the race, but this is the surest sign of his interest in actually getting into the contest to fill the seat held for 47 years by the late Edward M. Kennedy. His supporters plan to pick up papers this morning and immediately begin collecting signatures in Boston Common.

The why:

City Year co-founder Alan Khazei (D) will run in the special election for the seat long held by Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy (D), he confirmed in an e-mail to friends and colleagues this morning.”Because like all of you, I have dedicated myself to empowering people from all backgrounds to make a difference and strengthen our democracy, today a group of citizens is picking up petitions and helping me take the necessary steps to participate in the special election in Massachusetts,” wrote Khazei.

He also announced he would be taking a leave of absence from “Be the Change”, a volunteer-oriented organization he heads to pursue the race.

As the first relatively big name candidate in the race from outside of electoral politics, it will be interesting to see if he’s able to carve out an anti-elected official niche, which is probably more difficult to do in a Democratic primary than a Republican primary.

Elsewhere, it looks like the proposal to empower the Governor to make an interim appointment until the special election occurs, in order to limit the lapse in full representation in the U.S. Senate, will pass or fail largely on whether the state House Speaker and state Senate President push hard for it:

House and Senate lawmakers are deeply divided over whether to give Governor Deval Patrick the authority to appoint an interim US senator to Edward M. Kennedy’s seat, even as top Democrats ramp up their lobbying for a measure that could come up for a vote as early as Thursday. …But with the level of support in the House and Senate uncertain, the fate of the legislation may well depend on how hard Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo advocate for it. Both have been meeting behind closed doors, but have remained publicly noncommittal.

“They can pressure all they want, but until DeLeo and Therese Murray are decided on what they want, it’s basically moot,” state Representative John Binienda, a Worcester Democrat who opposes the change, said of proponents of the change. “Let’s face it: If they decide either way, that’s the way that it will be pushed. If they decide they want it to pass, the bill will not be put forth into either chamber until they have the votes.”

State Attorney General Martha Coakley, also a candidate in the special election, has announced her support for the temporary appointment and is believed to carry sway with the state Senate President, who is an honorary chairwoman of Attorney General Coakley’s finance committee.

UPDATE: Both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald are reporting that Congressman Stephen Lynch, the most conservative member of the U.S. House delegation from Massachusetts, has dropped out of the running, citing the “insurmountable” challenge of putting together the statewide organization necessary to be competitive.

You ARE the Votes

Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 10:49 AM EDT

We’ve heard from a number of conservative Democratic Senators that a public option can’t be included in a health care reform bill because the votes just wouldn’t be there to pass it.  (All emphasis added by me.)Joe Lieberman (I/Dem caucus-CT), 6/16/09:

probably the most important, the votes are not there for a public health plan, government run option and this can stand in the way of a historic achievement for President Obama

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), 6/21/09:

She told CNN’s John King: “Well to be candid with you, I don’t know that he has the votes right now. I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.”

Kent Conrad (D-ND), 8/16/09:

“The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option, there never have been, so to continue to chase that rabbit is just a wasted effort,” Conrad said on Fox News Sunday.

Max Baucus (D-MT), 9/9/09:

He also said there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass the “public option,” based on public and private conversations he’s had with his colleagues.

Mark Pryor (D-AR), 9/10/09:

“My guess is that there are not votes to do it in the Senate, even a very modest public option like what he’s talking about,” Pryor said.

To Senators Lieberman, Feinstein, Conrad, Baucus, and Pryor, along with Senators Bayh, Johnson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Nelson: you ARE the votes!

Saying that you oppose a public option “because the votes aren’t there” is a nonsensical excuse when the votes would be there if the people claiming that the votes aren’t there voted for it!  You are the votes.  Quit copping out.

Early Tuesday Morning Quick Hits

Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 03:44 AM EDT

  • Connecticut: World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon looks about ready to join the Battle Royale in the 2010 Republican Senate primary in Connecticut, which already includes former Rep. Rob Simmons, economist Peter Schiff, State Senator Sam Caligiuri, and former Ambassador Tom Foley.  The winner of what should be a costly and bruising Republican primary will go on to face Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd.
  • Massachusetts: It’s questionable how much traction Boston Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca would get in a Democratic special election primary given his political contribution history, which includes thousands of dollars to Mitt Romney’s 1994 Senate bid against Ted Kennedy, Bill Weld’s 1996 Senate bid against John Kerry, George W. Bush’s 2000 Presidential bid, and the Republican State Committee of Massachusetts.  His entry into the Democratic primary, though, could cut into conservative Rep. Stephen Lynch’s base, helping ensure a progressive victory in the Democratic primary.
  • Colorado: Jane Norton: Republican former Lieutenant Governor, about-to-be 2010 Senate candidate, former health industry lobbyist.
  • Republican obstruction: Republican Senators continue to hold up the nomination of Republican Congressman John McHugh to serve as Secretary of the Army.

PA-Sen: More Hypocrisy from Arlen Specter

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 21:20 PM EDT

One of recent Republican Arlen Specter’s weak but frequent lines of attack against Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak is that Congressman Sestak has missed a handful of votes in the House.  Now, given the hundreds of procedural and substantive votes, most Representatives miss some votes here and there.  Still, Congressman Sestak’s 94% attendance record in 2008, for instance, is very strong.  Nevertheless, Specter has, over and over again, harped on Congressman Sestak’s attendance record.August 4, on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews:

Specter, on Sestak: “He’s missed 105 votes; worst record of any Pennsylvania member of the House of Representatives. He’s AWOL, been absent without leave. If he were still in the Navy, he would be court martialed. Now he wants to be promoted. How can you be promoted with a voting record like that?

August 9, on CNN’s State of the Union with John King:

”He talks about his military record. If he was still in the service, he would be a court martial, and he’s been AWOL,” Specter, appearing on CNN, said of Sestak, who has missed 15 percent of votes in 2009, ranking him 10th among the chamber’s 434 members.

So apparently Specter thinks missing work, even to meet with constituents, is bad.  OK, fine.  Then how does Specter justify this?

Coaxing Arlen Specter into switching parties and running for re-election as a Democrat was a major coup for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is bending the Senate’s schedule to accommodate a presidential fundraiser for Specter Tuesday afternoon in Pennsylvania.Reid announced Friday that the Senate would hold no votes after 3 p.m. Tuesday. His office later said that the scheduling decision was meant to accommodate a long-planned fundraiser that President Obama is headlining in Philadelphia to benefit Specter’s campaign.

The move could delay efforts to finish work on the fiscal 2010 transportation spending bill, which the Senate began considering Thursday.

Because of Specter’s fundraiser, the entire U.S. Senate is shutting down Tuesday afternoon, delaying important transportation legislation.  After spending over a month weakly misleading voters on Congressman Sestak’s attendance record, Specter is getting the principal to close the entire school early one afternoon to accommodate his political campaign.  Just more hypocrisy from Arlen Specter.  Hey, Arlen, for an encore in hypocrisy and dishonesty, why don’t you create a website that looks like it’s raising money for cancer research but actually sends all contributions right into your campaign coffers?  Oh, right, you already did that.

Does recent Republican Arlen Specter’s all-too-frequent hypocrisy aggravate you?  Consider a contribution to Congressman Sestak via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

AR-Sen: Lincoln Leads Despite Weak Numbers

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 17:56 PM EDT

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-WalMart) manages to lead Republican challengers despite weak personal numbers thanks to the largely unknown GOP cast of characters, according to a new Research 2000 poll:

Favorable-Unfavorable
Blanche Lincoln (D) 43-49
Gilbert Baker (R) 14-13
Curtis Coleman (R) 12-13
Tom Cox (R) 8-7
Kim Hendren (R) 6-9
Lincoln v. GOP
Lincoln v. Baker 44-37
Lincoln v. Coleman 45-37
Lincoln v. Cox 46-29
Lincoln v. Hendren 47-28

Senator Lincoln has a net negative approval rating and can’t top 50% against even the most unknown of Republican challengers.  In other words, she’s in trouble.  What might help her?  Appealing to Democrats!  That’s right.  Almost one in three Arkansas Democrats (29%) according to the poll actively disapproves of Senator Lincoln.  Meanwhile, we see that 55% of Arkansans, including 81% of Democrats in Arkansas, approve of a public option as part of health care reform.  Instead of talking down the public option using misleading Republican talking points, Senator Lincoln could improve her standing by supporting the public option.  In other words, Senator Lincoln’s position on health care reform is both cowardly and politically disadvantageous.

Monday Odds & Ends

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 15:19 PM EDT

  • Massachusetts: As I expected, Congressman John Tierney will not run in the special election for U.S. Senate.  Barring City Year founder Alan Khazei opting to move forward with a bid, it looks like the Democratic primary will be a three-person affair between state Attorney General Martha Coakley and Congressmen Michael Capuano & Stephen Lynch.  Unless… Steve Pagliuca, a managing partner of the Boston Celtics, joins the Democratic field.  The field may not be cemented just yet.
  • New Hampshire: A spate of polls in New Hampshire are being conducted by a right-wing outfit called Populus Research and disseminated by a right-wing site called Now Hampshire.  The polls show Republicans matching up favorably against Democrats, including Congressman Paul Hodes.  These polls happen to be junk.  Why, you ask?  Because, in New Hampshire, voter registration sees Democrats with a small edge over Republicans – however, the polls include a voter breakdown of “39 percent registered Republicans and 32 percent registered Democrats.”  Instead of accurately reflecting the partisan breakdown of the Granite State, these right-wing junk poll put several thumbs on the scale for the GOP to achieve more desirable results.  I hope that the mainstream New Hampshire media properly files news releases about these polls in the appropriate place: the garbage can.In other Granite State news, before Kelly Ayotte quit her job as state Attorney General (just three months after pledging to Gov. John Lynch that she would serve out her full term), there was an investigation regarding the 2008 shooting of a man who had allegedly fired first on the SWAT team sent in to arrest him.  A new report suggests that Ayotte, as Attorney General, massaged and guided the investigation away from the actual shooting for some unknown reason.  There are a lot of question marks regarding this situation and a lot of questions left unanswered by Ayotte.  If she doesn’t offer a clearer explanation as to the details, this will likely dog her throughout the Senate campaign much the same way that Troopergate dogged Sarah Palin.  Finally, elsewhere, Republican businessman and RNC member Sean Mahoney is still considering a bid of his own for Senate in 2010.
  • New York: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand currently appears to have smooth sailing toward a 2010 election.  All high-profile Democratic primary challengers have backed off.  Republican Rep. Peter King has declined to run; and, Republican former Gov. George Pataki continues to appear less than eager to run.  As such, there is reportedly an effort afoot by New York Republicans to urge former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to run for Senate in 2010 instead of run for Governor.  With Republican former Rep. Rick Lazio about to announce for Governor, could Rudy be talked into a Senate bid?  At the very least, the prospect of a Giuliani bid is raising campaign funds for Senator Gillibrand.
  • Florida: It probably won’t help Charlie Crist ingratiate himself into Florida’s wingnut population any that his sidekick/appointee/puppet George Lemieux is calling for Joe “You Lie!” Wilson to be censured.
  • California: Vice President Joe Biden swung through California recently to help Senator Barbara Boxer raise “several hundred thousand dollars” for her 2010 Senate re-election bid.
  • Health care reform: Democratic Senator Tom Harkin says that health care reform will pass with both Republican votes and a strong public option.  Meanwhile, the Maine Republicans seem more like No votes than Aye votes as Olympia Snowe says that taking the public option off the table would build consensus and faux-moderate Susan Collins says that she wouldn’t even support a public option trigger.

FL-Sen: More Indications of Charlie Crist’s Vulnerability

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:04 AM EDT

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “FL-Sen: Marco Rubio Crushing Charlie Crist Among Florida Republican Grassroots.”  I went through seven Republican County Committees in Florida that have either censured Gov. Charlie Crist, come very close to censuring Charlie Crist, or held a straw poll in which Gov. Crist was crushed by his 2010 Republican Senate primary opponent, conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.  While Crist enjoys the higher profile, heftier fundraising, and backing of the Republican establishment in Washington D.C., it’s clear that significant resentment toward Crist exists among Florida’s grassroots conservatives.Yesterday, this thorough articleput the spotlight on Crist’s high level of vulnerability masked by high poll numbers predicated on a name recognition advantage:

Charlie Crist could be vulnerable in race for U.S. Senate
Crist’s popularity as governor doesn’t always extend to members of his own Republican Party, and that might make him vulnerable as he runs for U.S. Senate.Charlie Crist is swimming in campaign money, and polls consistently show him to be among the most popular politicians in America.

But something ominous and unpredictable is brewing in Florida, and a growing number of Republicans are starting to consider the unthinkable: the people’s governor could lose his campaign for U.S. Senate.

“It’s rare that I talk to anyone that’s got a good thing to say about the governor right now. It’s hard to find a real Charlie Crist ally,” said former state Republican Chairman Tom Slade. “Charlie Crist is a marvelous politician, but rarely do you use the word statesman with Charlie Crist. That’s his vulnerability, getting branded as another self-centered politician, and he doesn’t have many more opportunities to muff up before that happens.”

It’s a testament to Crist’s remarkable political skill, of course, that the entire world doesn’t view him as politically vulnerable. Consider the climate.

His state is losing population for the first time in 60 years. Unemployment and foreclosures are soaring. Taxes haven’t dropped like a rock as he promised, and Florida remains one hurricane away from bankruptcy. County Republican parties are openly revolting against Crist, while a charismatic young rival, Marco Rubio, is being hailed on the cover of William F. Buckley’s National Review magazine as the future of the GOP. …

Poll after poll finds beleaguered Florida voters think Crist, 53, is doing a heckuva job. Even as Tallahassee lobbyists loading up his U.S. Senate campaign account quietly dismiss him as an empty suit, Republican activists boo his name, and newspaper opinion writers become increasingly scornful of his leadership. …

But talk to veteran Republican activists across Florida, from local organizers to elite operatives to big-money bundlers, and there’s a sense Crist could be in trouble. Probably not, but just maybe.

Money means a lot in a state as vast as Florida, and former state House Speaker Rubio, 38, may not prove viable. But many prominent Republicans see at least the potential for a GOP coup — especially after Crist picked his longtime political advisor, George LeMieux, to complete the unfinished Senate term of Mel Martinez.

“The George LeMieux pick was kind of a trip wheel,” said Slade, the former state Republican chairman. “When the mood begins to swing, it doesn’t take it long to build momentum. . . . If Marco can tap into the resources of conservative America, he could be a force far more powerful than Charlie bargained for.” …

The polls don’t show it yet, but warning signs abound for Crist. Local Republican executive committees and clubs in every corner of the state are holding symbolic “straw poll” votes where Rubio doesn’t just beat Crist, but consistently trounces him 8- or 9-to-1.

“I do think Charlie is vulnerable. People are really unhappy in general, but Republicans seem very, very unhappy with Crist,” said state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, recounting that 200 people showed up earlier this month to see Rubio at a Lakeland Republican club meeting that normally would have drawn a few dozen.

“When that was over, I don’t think one person left there planning to vote for Crist,” said Dockery, who is neutral in the Senate primary.

It’s a well-written evisceration of the conventional wisdom that Charlie Crist is guaranteed a U.S. Senate seat.  No matter how much money Crist raises (and he will considerably outraise Rubio), nothing can change the fact that die-hard conservatives in Florida neither like nor trust nor support Crist.  If Rubio can adequately mobilize these conservatives and build their ranks by effectively highlighting where Crist dumps overboard conservative ideological orthodoxy, Crist can lose the primary.  Finally, the traditional media is beginning to take notice.

MA-Sen: Will the NRSC Pony Up for Scott Brown?

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 08:16 AM EDT

If the NRSC had its druthers, the establishment candidate for the Republicans in the upcoming special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts would be a former statewide elected official (former Gov. Mitt Romney, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former Gov. Paul Cellucci), someone with previous prominent governmental experience (former Presidential Chief of Staff Andrew Card, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan), a prominent businessperson who could self-fund (former Carruth Capital president Christopher Egan), or a politically conservative celebrity (retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling).  It looks like none of these will be represented in the Republican establishment candidate.It appears that the GOP establishment is coalescing around Republican state sen. Scott Brown.  Andrew Card even endorsed Brown as he announced that he would not be a candidate.  The only other Republicans to have expressed interest are Bob Burr, a Selectman from the town of Canton, Massachusetts’ 85th most populous municipality, and Jack E. Robinson, who almost finished third(barely a percentage point ahead of the Libertarian candidate) in the 2000 U.S. Senate race.  So, barring a surprise candidacy, Scott Brown will be the Republican nominee.Brown is one of only five Republican state senators in the forty-person body (to go along with only 19 Republicans in the 160-person body).  One could look at that and say that a Republican has no shot in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts.  Another could look at that and say that Brown wins where other Republicans might not.Which is the correct way to look at it?  Let’s ask the National Republican Senatorial Committee.  Should anybody in Massachusetts think that Brown has even an outside chance to win?  Well, if the NRSC – the Republican campaign committee whose sole focus is electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate (i.e. they who should be Brown’s biggest cheerleader) – publicly commits to ponying up serious cash for the special election (serious being at least $1 million), then Republicans and right-leaning independents can at least take heart that Washington D.C. is taking this race seriously.  However, if the NRSC will not publicly commit to spending a cool million or more in Massachusetts in support of Brown’s candidacy, that means that they’re writing it off.  If the Republican campaign committee whose sole focus is electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate writes Brown off, why shouldn’t Massachusetts voters write Brown off?So, ladies and gents of the NRSC, which is it?  A public commitment to spending serious dough in Massachusetts, or writing off the race altogether?  (At the very least, maybe the NRSC can hook Brown up with a better graphic designer.)

End of Week Rundown

Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 02:37 AM EDT

MA-Sen: Congressman Markey is Passing – UPDATE: Andrew Card Out Too

Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 18:50 PM EDT

The dean of the delegation is taking a pass:

After nearly two weeks of considering jumping into the race, US Representative Edward Markey said today he will not seek the US Senate seat vacated by the late Edward M. Kennedy.Markey, the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, told the Globe late this afternoon that he feels he can be more effective as one of the most senior members of the House than as a freshman Senator.

“I concluded I could use my seniority in the House to have greater impact in protecting and advancing the interest of Massachusetts,” said Markey, a Malden Democrat who has served in Congress since 1976.

I could see Congressman Markey’s passing on a bid encouraging Congressmen Michael Capuano and John Tierney to move forward, as they can argue that they have the liberal cred that Stephen Lynch lacks and the Capitol Hill experience that Attorney General Martha Coakley lacks, without Congressman Markey’s experience overshadowing them.

Where things stand:

Democrats Republicans
In State Attorney General Martha Coakley
Congressman Michael Capuano
City Year founder Alan Khazei
State Senator Scott Brown*
(would defer to Andrew Card)
Selectman Bob Burr
Maybe Boston Celtics Managing Partner Steve Pagliuca 2000 Senate nominee Jack E. Robinson
Retired Major Leaguer Curt Schilling*
(would have to run as an independent)
Out Congressman Barney Frank
Congressman Jim McGovern
Attorney Victoria Reggie Kennedy
Former Congressman Joe Kennedy II
Former Congressman Martin Meehan
Congressman Bill Delahunt
Congressman Edward Markey
Congressman John Tierney
Congressman Stephen Lynch
2008 Senate candidate Ed O’Reilly
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey
Gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos
Former Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card
Unclear /
No Comment
Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan
Former Governor Paul Cellucci
2008 Senate nominee Jeff Beatty
Businessman Chris Egan
2008 Senate candidate Jim Ogonowski

UPDATE: A new name to add to the list.  Senator Kennedy’s 2000 Republican opponent, Jack E. Robinson, is reportedly gathering signatures in advance of a bid.  When Robinson ran in 2000 against Senator Kennedy, he only took 12.86%, almost finishing in third place, less than 1% ahead of the Libertarian candidate.

UPDATE 2: Republican former George W. Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card will not run in the special election, citing family concerns.  In backing out, Card expressed his support for Republican state sen. Scott Brown.

CT-Sen: Senator Dodd Still Trails For Now

Fri Sep 11, 2009 at 16:59 PM EDT

Latest Rasmussen numbers:

Dodd vs. Rob Simmons 39-49
Dodd vs. Tom Foley 40-43
Dodd vs. Sam Caligiuri 43-40
Dodd vs. Peter Schiff 42-40

We see Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd trailing Republican former Rep. Rob Simmons by 10 points and stuck in statistical dead heats with the other three Republicans tested.  Further, the poll put Senator Dodd’s favorable-unfavorable at a dispiriting 40-59.

The numbers look bad but the situation is very far from bleak.  Why?  Senator Dodd’s weak poll numbers are predicated on two controversies that have, over the summer, been entirely defused.  Granted, the political damage has been done – but Senator Dodd can undo it.  How?  I think a good first step would be to submit an op-ed piece to every daily paper in Connecticut, from the Hartford Courant to the Connecticut Post to the Stamford Advocate to the New Haven Register and more, to the following effect:

Addressing Concerns and Looking Ahead
A hypothetical op-ed by Senator Christopher DoddMy fellow Nutmeggers,

As a state and as a nation, we face many critical challenges in the months and years ahead, from stabilizing our economy to making health care more accessible and affordable to slowing and reversing climate change to addressing foreign policy concerns abroad.  In the U.S. Senate, I am working hard with my colleagues to address these many national challenges.

In the meantime, I wanted to take a moment to address concerns you make have and clarify misinformation that may exist about my personal background and my record.

First, headlines were made when allegations arose that I received preferential treatment when I re-financed my mortgage.  I immediately denied such allegations and I released my mortgage documents to investigators for their review.  After a thorough examination of my records and testimony from a number of people, the Senate Ethics Committee agreed that I did absolutely nothing illegal or unethical to obtain any kind of special rate on my mortgage.  Heck, I didn’t even get the best rate that my mortgage provider offered.  The Hartford Courant’s editorial board wrote:

The senator and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, negotiated interest rates and terms widely available in the marketplace when they refinanced the two homes. That’s not special treatment.

While this distraction regarding my mortgage has been unfortunate, it has not taken my focus off of the real mortgage crises in Connecticut and across the country, from curtailing predatory lending practices to helping families across the economic spectrum avoid falling into foreclosure.

Second, misinformation spread quickly regarding my role in working to prevent companies receiving public funds from doling out massive and undeserved bonuses.  The truth of the matter is quite simple, that I wrote and advocated for a legislative amendment that would have placed limitations on executive compensation to all companies receiving “bail-out” money, including AIG – and those limitations would have applied to executive bonuses, as well.  I strenuously objected when Treasury officials pushed for language that would have applied limitations only to future bonuses, not existing bonus agreements that allowed AIG executives and others to receive large and undeserved bonuses while relying on federal bail-out dollars.

Over the last several years, the Bush Administration fostered an economic climate that facilitated the emergence of the modern-day robber baron, personified in these exorbitant bonuses paid out to executives of companies losing billions of dollars and effectively relying on welfare from our federal government.  I have fought on behalf of Connecticut’s families and workforce to level the playing field.  That’s why consumer watchdog groups applauded my recent decision to remain as Chairman of the U.S. Senate’s committee overseeing banking.  I have fought to protect consumers – to protect our families – from unfair and unethical practices by some private sector institutions.  That’s why I took a leadership role in fighting successfully to reform credit card companies’ practices earlier this year.

Having addressed these concerns you may have about my personal background and my record, I want to share with you the concerns I will be working to address in the months ahead.  During 2009, I have been working closely with President Obama and my fellow Senators to achieve real health care reform, and we have made more progress than any Congress in over forty years.  I expect that President Obama will have health care reform legislation on his desk, ready for his signature by Thanksgiving.  I also expect to work closely with President Obama on legislation regarding achieving a sensible energy policy that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and increases use of renewable energies.

As we approach Election Day next year, I very much look forward to debating my eventual Republican opponent.  I expect that we will have a vigorous conversation outlining our differences.  The principles I will be working with President Obama to fight for – expanding opportunities for our workforce and creating jobs, making healthcare more afforable, and making America more energy independent – will stand in stark contrast with the principles of my eventual Republican opponent that would take us back to the economic policies and foreign policy of George W. Bush.

I look forward to continuing this conversation with you in the months and years ahead, and I encourage you to contact my offices in Hartford or in Washington D.C. if I can ever be of service to you.

Senator Dodd cannot let the political damage of these (not-really-)controversies linger and set in.  He needs to, in a decisive manner, set the record straight.  An op-ed piece in newspapers across Connecticut, clearly addressing these issues head-on would do just that, clearing up misinformation and getting his poll numbers back on track.

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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