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

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.

    Interesting

Khazei would be a great addition to the Senate, and I like that he’s younger. One lesson progressives learned from Ted Kennedy is that if you want to build power in the Senate you need to elect young progressives. But honestly, with Lynch out I’m fine with anyone. Coakley, Khazei or Capuano would all do Massacusets proud. Hopefully a competitive race between them can push them all as far left as possible so we get a REALLY good Senator from Massachusetts who’s publicly committed to strong health reform that includes good subsides and a public option as well as card check and strong climate change legislation.

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You ARE the Votes

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.

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

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 article put 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.

 One thing is for sure

If the GOP does choose Rubio instead of Crist, they will pour money into the state to get Rubio elected.Right now, the establishment does support Crist, but if he loses this primary, he’ll be done…very done, and almost immediately, money will roll to Rubio.

by: ghbraves @ Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 10:38:55 AM CDT

Money will flow to Meek as well though.

Meek’s fundraising has been really good, but imagine what it will be like if Crist goes down and this race jumps to a tossup.

Check out Blue Arkansas:
http://bluearkansas.blogspot.com/

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PA-Sen: More Hypocrisy from Arlen Specter

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.

you wanted a 60th…

vote, and you got it. please stop calling specter a republican, and tying him to us.we had to deal with him for three decades. we don’t want him back, you own him now.


by: DSCC Watch @ Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 23:09:46 PM CDT

I don’t want him either

he will do whatever it takes to win. He has no convictions. I wanted a real 60th senator, not a political opurtunist like Specter.


by: NVdem @ Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 23:57:32 PM CDT

I never call him a Republican.

I do, however, frequently call him a “recent Republican” because he is one.


by: Senate Guru @ Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 01:52:35 AM CDT

 

Bob Casey is attending too

Is Sestak going to attack Bob Casey as well?
Where has it been reported or stated that Specter asked Reid to do this?
Specter’s planned this event with Obama for months. If Reid, knowing that Specter and Casey would not be there, decided to suspend voting, that’s Reid’s decision.
Kennedy is gone, and Byrd’s unavailable. Are there other Senate Dems also on travel or unavailable?

I haven’t heard Sestak apologize for any of his missed votes.

Greg-
What does Sestak’s 2008 attendance record have to do with 2009?
It seems odd you would show that Sestak had 94% 2008 record, and leave out that Specter had a 98% record. If you are going to quote a number for Sestak, at least put it in context with a comparative score of Specter’s.

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