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BLOG ARCHIVE: JANUARY 1-15, 2006

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WEEKEND NEWS UPDATE.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) made it official on Friday, announcing his candidacy for the House Majority Leader spot. In addition to his own vote, he announced two other pledges -- and the endorsements of the conservative Club for Growth and National Review. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former House Republican Conference Chair John Boehner (R-OH) reigned in their respective (and inflated) claimed numbers of pledges from the day before. Here's the real tally now, counting only named commitments: Blunt-83, Boehner-42, Shadegg-3. Meanwhile, Congressmen John Sweeney (R-NY) and Dan Lungren (R-CA) joined the call for expanded GOP leadership elections for all leadership positions except Speaker. Many House Republicans want to remove Republican Conference Secretary John Doolittle (R-CA) from his position in an expanded election, as he and his wife appear to be among the top Abramoff scandal targets. In other related news, Speaker Denny Hastert has asked Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) to resign as the House Administration Committee Chair. Hastert does not have the power to remove Ney from the post -- only a majority vote of the full Republican Conference can remove a sitting committee chair in mid-term. Hastert's spokesman confirmed the story to the National Journal. Hastert is apparently holding back on introducing lobbying reform legislation until Ney -- the most likely Congressional incumbent to be indicted in the Abramoff scandal -- is no longer in the GOP leadership.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.14.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Mike Weaver for Congress (D-Kentucky).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.14.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Start of a three-day weekend ... so what else is there to chat about?. Also, yet another plug for my eBay auctions of campaign buttons.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.14.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

IOWA. A new Rasmussen Reports poll show the open contest for Governor remains very tight. Congressman Jim Nussle -- the heavy favorite over business Bob Vander Plaats to win the GOP nomination -- has slightly improved his standings since the last poll. Nussle and Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) were tied with 40% each. Nussle leads former State Economic Development Director and former Congressman Mike Blouin (D) by a 39% to 34% vote. Nussle bested State Agriculture Commissioner Patty Judge (D) by a 40% to 36% vote. Nussle holds a commanding lead over State Representative Ed Fallon (D) -- the Kucinich of the Iowa Dems -- by a vote of 42% to 27%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. The race for Majority Leader between House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former House Republican Conference Chair John Boehner (R-OH) turned a bit silly on Thursday. Blunt claimed he had "100+" pledges of support and Boehner said he had 86 pledges. However, unlike the other counts in recent days, both of these vastly inflated numbers were based upon a large amount of unnamed commitments. Both camps voiced serious doubts about the opposing claims of support. No movement yet from Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ), but all signs point to him entering the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

CORRUPTION (NOT INVOLVING JACK ABRAMOFF). In this recent tsunami of news about GOP corruption in DC related to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and friends, it's easy to miss the item about the Hill Democrat rapidly inching closer to indictment. This past summer, the feds raided the New Orleans home of Congressman Bill Jefferson (D-LA) and seized a stash of money hidden in his freezer. This week, a top Jefferson aide pled guilty to corruption charges. It's only a matter of time before Jefferson himself is indicted on bribery, kickback, tax fraud or other similar corruption charges.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

FLORIDA. If there was ever any wonder if the Republican Party was behind all those state ballot campaigns to ban same-sex marriage, just check out this item. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Florida Republican Party gave $150,000 to the group that is trying to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to ban same-sex marriage (and seemingly ban local governments from giving domestic partner benefits to employees). In fact, the GOP's donation comprises more than 75% of the total the group has raised to date. To place the question on the ballot, the group must collect and get certified 611,009 valid voter signatures by February 1. The group say they've collected 250,000 thus far. The GOP contributions kicked the drive back into high-gear this month. Both GOP candidates for Governor, along with the State GOP Chair, endorsed the proposal. A spokeswoman for the Florida Republican Party said they are involved in the effort "solely because we support the issue ... [but] it happens to be beneficial to have initiatives on the ballot that Republicans feel strongly about."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Club for Growth: Blog.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Only a month after we profiled satanic Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, the mainstream media "discovers" him. Also, yet another plug for my eBay auctions of campaign buttons.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.13.06 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. In the race for Majority Leader, House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) extended his lead over former House Republican Conference Chair John Boehner (R-OH) on Wednesday. Here is the latest tally of declared pledges: Blunt-62, Boehner-35. It takes 116 votes to win the race. Meanwhile, Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) appears closer to entering the race for Majority Leader. "I think we need to clean up our act in the wake of the recent ethics scandals, and get back to the agenda that brought us the majority in the first place. I am concerned that the two members currently in the race, whom I have a great deal of respect for, will not move aggressively enough in that direction. I will continue to talk to Members to gauge how many share that concern," said Shadegg, who set no date for making his decision. Some House Republicans are starting to call for wider leaderships elections, giving them the opportunity to vote for an entirely new leadership team. House Republican Conference Vice Chair Jack Kingston (R-GA) is already trying to gather support for an early challenge against Conference Chair Deb Pryce (R-OH), according to National Journal. Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) -- a close DeLay ally -- opposes the idea of wider early elections. However, growing support for the concept may cause Hastert to call elections for the other posts by March 2006. All of this is starting to sound like a party in a state of panic.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

ABRAMOFF SCANDAL. National Journal reports the Republican Governors Association is preparing to announce they will donate to charity the $500,000 that Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon collected for the RGA in 2002. RGA Chairman Mitt Romney (R-MA) already waded into the Abramoff scandal Tuesday by calling on the House Republicans to immediately strip Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) of his powerful committee chairmanship. A new name in the Abramoff mix is that of Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ). KPHO-TV reported Hayworth's PAC -- TEAM PAC -- received over $83,000 in donations tied to Abramoff. In turn, that helped enable TEAM PAC to pay Hayworth's wife more than $130,000 in compensation.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

MONTANA. Yes, I know ... third day in a row with a US Senator Conrad Burns (R) article. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows the barrage of bad publicity about Burns' close ties to Abramoff have taken a major toll. His once double-digit lead over the two leading Democrats is gone. Burns and liberal State Senate President Jon Tester (D) are tied at 45% apiece. Burns leads State Auditor John Morrison (D) by a narrow 46% to 43% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

COLORADO. State House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D) plans to jump into the open race for Governor, if Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) doesn't run. According to Colorado Political News, Madden is already making calls to round up tentative commitments of support and money. However, according to the website, Madden "is still optimistic that Hick will enter the race." Many Colorado Dems are unhappy with former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter's pro-life views. State Representative Gary Lindstrom is also running for the Democratic nomination, but is viewed as a very weak candidate.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Betty McCollum for Congress (D-MN).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Talk amongst yourselves. Also, yet another plug for my eBay auctions of campaign buttons.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.12.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) -- who chairs the conservative House Republican Study Committee -- urged his group's 110 members to withhold making individual early endorsements in the upcoming House Republican leadership races and instead wait until the January 30-31 vote. "I'm not going to express any endorsement," said Pence. In direct response, a group of five GOP House members from Florida -- including Katherine Harris and Clay Shaw -- urged an earlier election date. All five are DeLay allies now supporting the Blunt-Cantor team. GOP Conference Chair Deborah Pryce (R-OH) said she was polling House Republicans to see if they wanted the vote moved a week earlier. Keeping in mind that it takes 116 votes to win the race, here is the tally of declared pledges to date: Blunt-46, Boehner-30. In the race for House Majority Whip, Eric Cantor (R-VA) already claimed 140 pledges even before his three opponents declared their candidacies. The third candidate to declare for the Whip position is Zach Wamp (R-TN), who jumped in Tuesday.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

MONTANA. Despite waves of speculation to the contrary, US Senator Conrad Burns (R) insists he's not going to quit his re-election race. "Write it down, real quick: I've never had more enthusiasm or higher energy for a campaign in my life than I got right now, OK? End of story. I never had this much enthusiasm in 1988. Take it to the bank. Make book on it," said Burns to The Missoulian. Burns went on to blame a cabal of newspapers and Democrats for his current political troubles, saying the stream of stories tying him to admitted felon Jack Abramoff are "half-truths and innuendos ... Until I am or I am not [charged], what makes it a story? ... The Democrats said they were going to run a smear campaign and they're doing it," said Burns. Here's what Burns is having trouble explaining: He took just under $150,000 in donations from Abramoff, his clients and associates -- more than any other lawmaker. Burns promises to either return the money or give it to charity. Two Burns staffers also left his office to take jobs with Abramoff. Burns claims he only met Abramoff once. Besides, Burns added, "we use lobbyists" for help because Senators cannot know everything about every issue.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

VERMONT. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Governor Jim Douglas (R) is holding a comfortable lead in his race for re-election. Douglas leads former State Democratic Chair Scudder Parker (D) by a 54% to 31% vote. In other Vermont news, Congressman Bernie Sanders (Independent) endorsed State Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch (D) as his successor. Sanders is a heavy favorite to win the open US Senate seat. On Tuesday, Sanders told the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus: "I have known Peter Welch for many, many, years. I believe that he will be a strong progressive voice. I also know [State Rep.] David Zuckerman. I like him very much. I think he has done an excellent job in the Legislature ... I have talked to David on a number of occasions and I have urged him in the strongest possible terms not to run for the seat ... I honestly believe that if in fact, because of David's presence in the race, the Republican wins, I don't think David or his supporters will feel good the day after the election to have contributed to maintaining right-wing Republican control in Washington." Zuckerman is a member of the Progressive Party, a group founded in the 1980s by followers of Sanders. The Progressive Party is supports Sanders for the Senate seat. Zuckerman told the newspaper he had not yet decided if he would remain in the race. However, he noted: "Historically third party or independent people, including Bernie, first win major office against the wishes of those people in power, not particularly with their blessings." Sanders should know what he's talking about as he -- as an independent socialist candidate in 1988 -- split the progressive vote and helped elect Republican Peter Smith to the open Congressional seat (of course, Sanders ran 20-points ahead of the hapless Democrat in the race).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

TEXAS. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll tests the new four-way race against Governor Rick Perry (R). The numbers: Perry - 40%, State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I) - 21%, former Congressman Chris Bell (D) - 14%, author/musician Kinky Friedman (I) - 11%. Rasmussen did not test former Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage (D) as the Democratic nominee. In related news, the Texas Secretary of State's Office said they plan to carefully scrutinize Strayhorn's petition signatures because more than a quarter of all those submitted in 2005 by independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader were invalid.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Talk amongst yourselves. Also, the ongoing shameless plug for my eBay auctions of campaign buttons.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.11.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. Monday was Day #1 of the now declared contest for US House Majority Leader. As of the end of the first day, National Journal reported House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) has 30 public pledges of support from colleagues versus former House Republican Conference Chair John Boehner (R-OH) at 18 pledges. Both sides emphasize they each have much more support "in the wings" that they are not yet prepared to reveal. Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) has made it clear he is not running as of now -- but is very interested in jumping into the race if neither of the frontrunners can lock it up. Centrist Congressman Charlie Bass (R-NH) and conservative Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sent a joint letter to their colleagues, urging them to make no early commitments in the leadership race. "Elections that appear to be foregone conclusions do not advance the reformist agenda many of us pledged to uphold to our constituents," they wrote. If Blunt wins, his Majority Whip position will also come open for election. Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) remains the frontrunner, claiming to now have over 140 commitments from his colleagues. Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) announced their candidacies for Whip on Monday. Rogers, a former FBI agent, is positioning himself as the reform candidate against Cantor. "Bold change is a must if we are going to regain the public's trust and confidence," said Rogers. Tiahrt also argues Cantor represents no break from the current leadership. "We can go with the status quo, which could lead down the road to the minority, or we can take a different path," said Tiahrt. Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) remains a potential candidate for Whip. Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) said he will not be running for either leadership post. The leadership elections will be held during the week of January 30.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.06 | Permalink |

MONTANA. In the wake of GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea last week, speculation is running rampant inside the beltway that US Senator Conrad Burns (R) will quit his re-election contest. Roll Call speculated Congressman Denny Rehberg -- a former Lieutenant Governor -- will be the GOP's replacement candidate. Another name I'd throw into the mix would be former Governor and former Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot. The RNC last month sent Racicot on a tour of the state to drum up support for President Bush's programs. If Rehberg runs, the move would also open Montana's lone US House seat. That move could prompt one of the leading Dems currently in the US Senate race to switch into the open House seat contest. In a state where the Dems captured the governorship, the State House and State Senate, and won 3 of the other 4 statewide offices in 2004 -- despite Bush carrying the state by a wide margin -- these could all become competitive open seat contests.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.06 | Permalink |

GUBERNATORIAL CONTESTS. In Pennsylvania, State Senator Jeff Piccola (R) ended his year-long campaign for Governor. His campaign failed to catch fire in against his two better known opponents: conservative former pro football playor Lynn Swann and centrist former Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton. Just hours after Piccola dropped out, Swann defeated Scranton by a 77% to 23% vote in the first round of Republican Party regional caucuses. On February 11, the Republican State Committee will endorse a candidate for Governor in November. The two men will still face off in the primary, although one will be able to claim the moniker of "endorsed candidate." In Ohio, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D) announced she would not jump into the race for Governor. Some union activitis had tried to encourage a possible Kaptur candidacy.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is MoveOn.org.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Your turn. Also, a shameless plug for my new eBay auctions of campaign buttons -- including a really rare Father Coughlin-related third party congressional button.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.10.06 | Permalink |

 

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ABRAMOFF-DELAY DEVELOPMENTS. Former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) formally told the House Republicans he is permanently surrendering the leadership post he held until his indictment on state corruption charges last fall. DeLay had planned to seek reinstatement in January-February, if he prevailed in having the charges dismissed. The guilty plea last week by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- with his close ties to DeLay and multiple allegations of influence buying on Capitol Hill -- sealed DeLay's fate. Even the White House attempted to push DeLay aside last week, although he refused to meet with the President's emissary. To throw salt in DeLay's wounds, Time magazine is reporting President Bush considered DeLay an ally but not a friend, and was actually not unhappy to see DeLay fall from power. DeLay has also had a running dislike of Bush advisor Karl Rove, referring to Rove as "a former mail vendor, not some great guru." In response, an unnamed Bush insider (Rove?) gloated to Time that the President's inner circle "have always seen [DeLay] as beneath them, more blue collar. He’s seen as a useful servant, not someone you would want to vacation with."

Even with DeLay agreeing to remain out of the House Leadership, he will likely remain the apparent eminence grise of the House Republicans. Remember that both House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) were elected to their posts largely due to the efforts of DeLay. Blunt has already announced his candidacy for Majority Leader, as has former House Republican Conference Chair John Boehner (R-OH). Although others are tentatively looking at the Majority Leader race, few expect anyone else to enter the race because Blunt and Boehner have already locked up so many commitments of support. Look for DeLay to unofficially throw his support behind Blunt, and for Boehner to position himself as a clean break from the current problems. The team leaders of the Blunt effort are Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Dave Camp (R-MI), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Sue Myrick (R-NC). The Boehner team leaders are Melissa Hart (R-PA), John Kline (R-MN), Thad McCotter (R-MI), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH). If Blunt wins, his Majority Whip position will come open for election. According to National Journal, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) has already secured at least 100 commitments from his colleagues and is the heavy frontrunner for the Whip post. Congressmen Zach Wamp (R-TN), Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Mike Pence (R-IN) are also reportedly interested in the Whip spot. The leadership elections will be held during the week of January 30.

In more related news, Time obtained an email written last week by FBI Washington Field Office Chief Michael Mason in which he congratulated his agents for their work on the Abramoff investigation but added "the case is far from over." He also wrote there are still "bigger targets." Here is what Time is reporting: "Bribery has always been a difficult thing to prove, absent a videotape of a crook stuffing the pockets of a politician with cash. But so large are the amounts involved -- and so voluminous the evidence from a man who committed nearly every thought to e-mail -- that prosecutors in the Abramoff case may even test the proposition that legally reported campaign contributions constitute bribery, if it can be proven they were given expressly in return for official actions ... A high-level source tells Time that prosecutors will also focus much of their energies on the lesser and easier-to-prove charge of 'honest services mail fraud,' for which they have to show only that a lawmaker has acted in his personal interest or that of another individual but not of his constituents in return for improper gain." Maybe that explains why Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA) -- who is expected to become the powerful Ways & Means Committee Chair next year -- told a Gannett News Service reporter this weekend that House Administration Committee Chair Bob Ney (R-OH) will "probably be indicted." Finally, Congressman John Doolittle (R-CA) -- reported to be a target of the FBI's investigation -- says he will not return any of the campaign money he received from Abramoff. To do so, explained Doolittle, would create an appearance of wrongdoing.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.06 | Permalink |

OHIO. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Congressman Ted Strickland -- the likely Democratic nominee for Governor -- holding a leads over any of his likely GOP rivals. According to the poll, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is clearly the strongest possible Republican candidate. Strickland led Blackwell by a close vote of 44% to 40%. Strickland led Attorney General Jim Petro by a slightly wider vote of 43% to 38%. Strickland destroyed State Auditor Betty Montgomery by a lopsided vote of 49% to 33%. Interesting to note is that Strickland has never before been a candidate for statewide office -- meaning Strickland should start with lower name ID -- versus all three of his major GOP rivals, who have each won statewide races in the past. In some good news for the Republicans, tremendously unpopular and term-limited Governor Bob Taft (R) recently said he doesn't plan to endorse any of the GOP hopefuls in the primary because he claims he is too busy focusing on his official duties. In related news, US Senator Mike DeWine (R) appears to be improving his re-election prospects. According to this same poll, DeWine now leads holds attorney and Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett (D) by a 43% to 39% vote. DeWine also leads Congressman Sherrod Brown (D) by a 45% to 40% vote. This same poll had previously showed Hackett and DeWine tied.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.06 | Permalink |

VERMONT. Congressman Bernie Sanders (Independent) looks like he will soon become the first avowed socialist to ever serve in the US Senate. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Sanders far ahead of both announced GOP candidates. Sanders leads wealthy software executive Rich Tarrant (R) by a vote of 70% to 25%, with others capturing just 1%. Sanders also leads USAF veteran and two-time Congressional candidate Greg Parke (R) by a nearly identical vote of 70% to 24%, with "others" at 3%. Frequent candidate Larry Drown is seeking the Democratic nomination, although nearly all prominent Dems in the state have already endorsed Sanders. US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) also campaigned this weekend in the state for Sanders. Several other third party candidates will also appear on the November ballot.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Steve Westly for California Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. So ... what else is going on?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.09.06 | Permalink |

SUNDAY OPEN THREAD.

FREE SPEECH ZONE. I'll write up the DeLay developments for Monday. Until then, you folks are running the show. Also, FYI, check out my new eBay auctions of campaign buttons -- some of the duplicates from my collection -- including a really rare Father Coughlin-related third party congressional button.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.08.06 | Permalink |

SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FLORIDA. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows a very close gubernatorial contest in Florida. Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) led Congressman Jim Davis (D) by a 36% to 35% vote. Crist led State Senator Rod Davis (D) by a vote of 40% to 35%. State CFO Tom Gallagher (R) was tied with Davis at 37% apiece. Gallagher led Smith by a 36% to 35% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

WASHINGTON. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows US Senator Maria Cantwell (D) holding a comfortable lead of 51% to 36% over insurance executive Mike McGavick (R).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

GEORGIA. A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Zogby poll shows Governor Sonny Perdue (R) appears in decent shape to win re-election. Perdue led Secretary of State Cathy Cox (D) by a 53% to 37% vote. Perdue led Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor (D) by an even wider margin: 56% to 31%. The poll also showed that former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed is struggling in his race for Lieutenant Governor. Despite Perdue's strong numbers and Reed's high name recognition, Reed ran 3-points behind a generic Democratic nominee: 36% to 33%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

MISSOURI. A new Rasmussen Reports poll surprisingly shows US Senator Jim Talent (R) trailing State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D). McCaskill holds a 46% to 43% advantage.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Frameshop
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. If you want to talk about something other than poll numbers, this is the place.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.07.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FLORIDA. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows US Senator Bill Nelson (D) continues to hold a solid lead over Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R). Nelson led Harris by a 54% to 31% vote. The NRSC, Governor Bush and other prominent Republicans have been trying for months -- so far without success -- to recruit another GOP candidate into the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.06.06 | Permalink |

MAINE. When State Representative Barbara Merrill quit the Democratic Party and became an Independent -- paving the way for her to make an Indy run against Governor John Baldacci (D) this year -- it created a tie in the State House. In addition to the 73-73 tie, Merrill's move brought the total of others to 4 Independents and 1 Green. The Dems have only held control of the Maine House since the 2004 elections. For a brief time, it looked like the Dems would be forced into a power-sharing agreement. The two party leaders had negotiated the deal and were preparing to make the formal announcement when the equation again changed. State Representative Joanne Twomey (Independent) unexpectedly rejoined the Democratic Party to give them control once again. Twomey had unenrolled from the Dems just last November. "The people who put me in this seat wanted us to be the majority party ... At the end of the day, I can't go back home and say that, because I unenrolled, it ended up shaking up the whole party," explained Twomey, who said she would not have quit the Dems last year had she known Merrill was also planning to unenroll.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.06.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK. Governor George Pataki (R) told reporters Thursday he thought his State Health Commissioner Antonia Novello -- the former US Surgeon General and brother of former Saturday Night Live writer/comedian Don "Father Guido Sarducci" Novello -- would be "a strong candidate if she chose to run" against US Senator Hillary Clinton (D). Pataki's comments came the same day a Draft Novello website launched -- although both Pataki and the NRSC deny they are involved with the draft movement. Former Yonker Mayor John Spencer and attorney Bill Brenner are announced candidates for the GOP nomination. President Nixon son-in-law and attorney Ed Cox is also thinking of re-entering the GOP contest he quit a few months ago.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.06.06 | Permalink |

VOUCHERS. The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the state's voucher system that allows some children to attend private schools at taxpayer expense. The justices ruled 5-2 that Governor Jeb Bush's "Opportunity Scholarship Program" violates the Florida Constitution's requirement of a uniform system of free public schools and must end at the close of the current school year. Although it was the nation's first statewide system of school vouchers, only 700 children appear to be impacted by the ruling. Bush decried the ruling as "a sad day for accountability in our state ... school choice is as American as apple pie in my opinion." Writing for the court, Justice Barbara Pariente said the program violates the state constitution because it "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools." The two justices who dissented with Bush appointees, as was one justice who ruled with the majority.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.06.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is FishbowlDC.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Never mind last night's note -- I woke up early and found some time to post today.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.06.06 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

GOP DELAY'ED. It no longer appears former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be reassuming his leadership position again. In fact, it appear highly probable the House Republicans will elect a permanent new leader within the next two months. The conservative magazine National Review called on Wednesday for DeLay to permanently step down. And here is what National Journal's Hotline reported: "With Abramoff's plea agreement all-but-naming DeLay's deputy CoS for taking Abramoff money to influence legislation, there's little chance GOPers will allow DeLay to remain in leadership." Everyone agrees DeLay has a solid block of roughly fifty Congressmen who still stand with DeLay and are working to scuttle any new House Republican leadership election. However, if an election takes place, the three leading candidates for Majority Leader are Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Congressmen Zach Wamp (R-TN) and John Boehner (R-OH). In somewhat related news, Congressmen Joel Hefley (R-CO) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) are soon each expected to announce they plan to retire this year. Both have had frictional relationships in recent years with the House Republican leadership.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

COLORADO. Retired US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) announced Wednesday he would not run for Governor -- and unexpectedly blasted the conservative wing of his own party as the deciding factor in his decision. "You can't be held to a strict ideological code that you can't do anything about. What they want is absolute obedience ... Very frankly, a Governor's seat in this state is a very unappealing job ... you're under constant attack. I ran a lot of races in Colorado and never lost one. I was more afraid of winning than losing," said Campbell. When asked about the two announced GOP candidates for Governor -- Congressman Bob Beauprez and former university president Marc Holtzman -- Campbell made it clear he would support neither of them. "I'm waiting for somebody I think will have real credentials to get into the race. Nobody has yet," he explained. In related news, State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) also announced this week he will not run for Governor this year.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

ABRAMOFF SCANDAL. It turns out the NRSC's spin that "Forty of forty five members of the Democrat Senate Caucus took money from Jack Abramoff" (a line from the GOPSenators.com site we recognized just yesterday) is simply false. It turns out Abramoff has never given a penny of his money to Dems. An NRSC spokesman called the line a typo, saying they meant to say from Abramoff's associates and clients. According to the National Journal, even this is a major stretch. To get to the "40 of 45" figure, the NRSC included contributions from the Greenberg Traurig law firm's PAC -- as that is where Abramoff once worked -- even though GT is one of the largest law firms in the nation. Even some conservative Republicans are starting to play the Abramoff card in their campaigns. Georgia State Senator Casey Cagle (R) -- a candidate for Lieutenant Governor -- used Abramoff to blast primary rival Ralph Reed. "We have every confidence the ongoing Justice Department investigation will fully review the evidence and continue to seek appropriate legal remedies on behalf of all those wronged by Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and the others involved in this matter," said Cagle's spokesman. If news reports are accurate, the scandal could ultimately result in the indictments of ten Members of Congress and at least ten high-ranking Hill staffers.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

NEVADA. In an surprising development, popular Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman (D) is apparently considering making a challenge to US Senator John Ensign (R). US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confirmed to the Las Vegas Sun that Goodman recently spoke to him about running. If Goodman -- who won re-election with 86% of the vote -- enters the race, he may face a primary contest against Presidential scion Jack Carter. Carter has badly trailed Ensign in recent polls. A Goodman candidacy would move this race from the "Safe GOP" column into the "Leans GOP" category.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

WYOMING. Republicans still have no candidate to challenge Governor Dave Freudenthal (D) in this traditionally red state. On Tuesday, State House Speaker Randall Luthi (R) announced he would not run against Freudenthal. "[When] you run against an incumbent, it's hard to raise money. Frankly, I wasn't willing to put a mortgage on my farm in order to do that, " said Luthi. He also said being a candidate would interfere with his ability to be an effective Speaker. Term-limited State Treasurer Cynthia Loomis (R) remains a possible candiate for Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Campus Progress.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. So, what else is there to talk about today?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.05.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ABRAMOFF SCANDAL. Former high-powered Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is embarking on a new career: singing. Well, singing to the federal prosecutors is more like it. On Tuesday, Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal corruption and fraud charges in a deal where he will cooperate and provide testimony for prosecutors against what is reported to be a group of approximately twenty Members of Congress and high-ranking Hill staffers. In exchange, Abramoff will be sentenced to an indeterminate amount of time of less than 10 years in prison. What must be most troubling for those legislators is a CNN report that Abramoff apparently retained "thousands of e-mails in which he describes influence-peddling and explains what lawmakers were doing in exchange for the money he was putting into their campaign coffers." It is a felony for federal officials to perform any official actions in a quid pro quo exchange for gifts, cash or other direct or indirect remuneration. If Abramoff really kept a paper trail of evidence, we could see quite a few indictments, resignations, retirements and defeats of current incumbents. Our candidate for the first elected official to be brought down by Abramoff-related charges: House Administration Chair Bob "Representative No. 1" Ney (R-OH). "Whenever Congressman Ney took official action [on behalf of an Abramoff client], he did so because of his understanding of the merits and facts of the situation and not because of any improper influence from Jack Abramoff or anybody else," said a written statement released by Ney's office on Tuesday. One personal aside of dumbfounded astonishment (as I'm a former criminal defense attorney): Why in the world did Abramoff (1) memorialize his quid pro quo deals in writing, and (2) keep those emails for these past several years? Maybe he was always concerned that someday he'd get caught and would need leverage to cut a good deal. Simply inexplicable.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

RACE FOR CASH. All those who claimed Howard Dean's DNC Chairmanship would cause party donors to stay away in droves are being proven wrong. The DNC reported raising $51 million in 2005 -- 20% better than the DNC's take for 2003 -- and a DNC record-high for an off-year. Not bad for a party that controls nothing in DC. DailyKos also notes that when Dean goes on fundraising trips around the nation, most of the money stays with the respective state parties (unlike in past years). Of course, all of this pales against the Republican tally. Preliminary totals indicate the RNC raised approximately $100 million last year and has at least three-times as much cash-on-hand as the Dems.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK. Told 'ya so. "I'm not going to run for Governor because I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing now. I'm the largest builder in New York ... I have one of the top shows on television. It's a little hard to leave all of that," said wealthy businessman Donald Trump to the New York Post. He also told the newspaper he'd likely support Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) for Governor. "He's done an amazing job [as Attorney General]," explained Trump. Interestingly,Trump hinted he was interested in running for the President in 2008 -- making this the third time he's toyed with a White House bid.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

CONNECTICUT. Governor Jodi Rell (R) -- with her 81% approval rating -- can be placed into the "safe" category. According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Rell would defeat any of her likely Democratic challengers by landslide margins. Rell led Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy (D) by a vote of 65% to 21%. She also led New Haven Mayor John DeStefano (D) by an equally lopsided vote of 65% to 19%. We may need to create an "Extra Safe" category for Rell.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is GOPSenators.com (National Republican Senatorial Committee).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Ready, set, go.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.04.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

TEXAS. Candidate filing closed in Texas on Monday and the big news was State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn -- the mother of White House spokesman Scott McClellan -- quitting the GOP to file for Governor as an Independent. "It's time to shake Austin up ... Governor [Rick] Perry may be doing the best he can, but after five years, we have learned he is not the strong leader we need to put Texas above politics," explained Strayhorn. Strayhorn -- a GOP centrist -- was clearly concerned that Perry had effectively courted the support of hardcore religious, social conservatives who dominate Texas GOP primaries. A Perry spokesman shot back by saying the move was "the latest desperate act of a politician who has no core convictions or guiding principles." Interestingly, both Perry and Strayhorn were Democratic politicians before switching to the GOP many years ago. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage and former Congressman Chris Bell are the leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Colorful author/musician Kinky Friedman (Independent) -- who is running a campaign modeled after pro wrestler Jesse Ventura's successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign in Minnesota -- is also expected to have a significant impact on the Gov race. To qualify for the ballot, Strayhorn and Friedman must each collect roughly 46,000 signatures of voters who did not vote in the primaries by the May 11 filing deadline for Indy candidates. Strayhorn's move makes the race a more competitive contest -- as she'll most likely draw her support from GOP moderates (particularly GOP centrist women) who would otherwise support the Republican nominee -- although Perry remains the favorite for the general election. Meanwhile, US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) drew opposition from a few little-known challengers. Likewise, the following Members of Congress failed to draw any major party opposition for the general election: Al Green (D), Mike Conaway (R), Silvestre Reyes (D), Lloyd Doggett (D) and Henry Cuellar (D) -- although Cuellar faces a stiff primary challenge. In an unexpected move, arch-conservative former Congressman Steve Stockman (R) filed as an Independent against former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) in CD-22. DeLay already faces a primary challenge from three minor Republicans and a competitive general election challenge from former Congress Nick Lampson (D). Click here to see all of the Texas filing info.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA: Here are some unusual comments US Senator Jon Kyl (R) delivered at a public meeting, Speaking about his opponent, former State Democratic Chair and wealthy businessman Jim Pederson, Kyl said: "I think [the Democrats] were embarrassed at not having an opponent for me [in 2000] ...Because my opponent is very well-funded they see that he may have a chance. Because of his money, he probably does have a chance.” I'd bet you that quote shows up soon on Pederson fundraising and campaign items.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Jim Davis for Governor (D-Florida).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.06 | Permalink |

SOMETHING NEW. Want to advertise your campaign, cause, company or group on an individual state page here on Politics1? Now you can, and for only $50 per month. Click here to learn more. (As long as I'm pitching business stuff, here's another shameless plug ... check out my eBay auctions of various campaign buttons -- particularly if you collect locals or third party items. We've placed 15 lots online, with all of the auctions closing later this week.)

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Your turn (yet again).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.03.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

NEW YORK. State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R) demonstrated the desperation of New York Republicans in recruiting a viable candidate for Governor when he suggested Donald Trump is thinking about entering the race. Here's why this implies desperation in the efforts to derail Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's (D) frontrunning campaign for Governor. First: Even if the story is true (and that is rather unlikely), Trump apparently loves to float his name every few years for political office. He openly discussed seeking the GOP Presidential nomination in 1988 and toyed with seeing the Reform Party's Presidential nomination in 2000 (he even filed FEC paperwork in 1999). But, after he gets some publicity for the possible candidacy, he quietly backs out of the contest. Second: Trump is apparently supporting Spitzer for Governor. He already made a personal donation of $10,000 to the "Spitzer 2006" committee. And, FYI, he previously contributed $11,000 to Spitzer's 2002 re-election race. Trump also gave a much smaller amount of money to one of the current GOP candidates: $1,000 to former Secretary of State Randy Daniels. Trump's office declined to comment on Bruno's claim. State GOP Chair Stephen Minarik said he's heard nothing about Trump being interested in the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.02.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Stateline.org, an independent project of the Pew Research Center.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.02.06 | Permalink |

SOMETHING NEW. Want to advertise your campaign, cause, company or group on an individual state page here on Politics1? Now you can, and for only $50 per month. Click here to learn more. (As long as I'm pitching business stuff, here's another shameless plug ... check out my eBay auctions of various campaign buttons -- particularly if you collect locals or third party items. We've placed 15 lots online, with all of the auctions closing later this week.)

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Have at it.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.02.06 | Permalink |

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