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BLOG ARCHIVE: JANUARY 16-31, 2006

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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

P2008. US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) continues laying the groundwork for a second Presidential run in 2008. According to the AP, Kerry raised $5.6 million in 2005 and now has at least $10 million in the bank for another run.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK. A Siena College poll released yesterday showed billionaire businessman and perennial candidate Tom Golisano to be the strongest possible GOP candidate for Governor against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) -- even though Golisano trailed by 26 points. Well, now the New York Republicans cannot even count on Golisano. He announced Tuesday that he will not make a fourth run for Governor in 2006. With Golisano out, the new GOP frontrunner for Governor is ... actually, who cares ... this race is already over. Move this one into the Safe Dem column.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

LOUISIANA. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was viewed as a safe bet to win re-election -- but that was all before Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, he drew a major opponent in his April re-election contest. Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D) -- brother of US Senator Mary Landrieu (D) -- contacted supporters in the city this week to let them know he will challenge Nagin. Audubon Institute Chief Executive Ron Forman -- also viewed as a potentially viable challenger -- says he, too, is looking at the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. Self-proclaimed Satanic Dark Lord and gubernatorial candidate Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey promised that he would curb crime if elected by impaling dangerous criminals. That's why it is particularly amusing that Sharkey is sitting in a Minnesota jail cell today on an outstanding felony warrant from Indiana for stalking and escape. The police dispatcher recognized the name "Rocky Flash" -- Sharkey's former pro-wrestling and GOP congressional candidate name -- from all the news coverage about his gadfly campaign for Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is the Steve Laffey for US Senate (R-Rhode Island).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. President Bush -- former President of Bush Exploration Oil & Gas Company -- used his State of the Union Address to call on the US to end our addiction to oil. The speech was warmly applauded by Vice President Dick Cheney, the former Chairman of the Halliburton oil company. And, while I'm on this little rant, is there anyone who thinks we would have gone to war in Iraq if the country didn't have oil? Just my two cents.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

KENTUCKY. The Dems have managed to put another House seat into play for 2006. Former Congressman Ken Lucas (D) -- a 72-year-old "Blue Dog" Democrat -- announced his candidacy for the CD-4 seat held by freshman Congressman Geoff Davis (R). "Over the last year, I've grown concerned about the widespread public corruption news coming from Congress and the increased partisanship in the US House of Representatives. I'm disappointed that Geoff Davis has done nothing to separate himself from many of the figures involved in those scandals," Lucas explained. Lucas retired in 2004. Lucas and Davis previously faced-off in 2002, with Lucas winning the race. Now Davis will have the incumbency fundraising advantage, but this still promises to be a close, competitive election. Move this one into the "Leans GOP" column.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK. According to a new Siena College poll, US Senator Hillary Clinton (D) will cruise to a lopsided reelection victory over former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, who now appears to be the likely GOP nominee. Clinton led Spencer by a 58% to 31% vote. In the gubernatorial race, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) is so safe he can start planning his move into the Executive Mansion. Spitzer led billionaire businessman and perennial candidate Tom Golisano (R) by a vote of 55% to 29%. By contrast, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) loses to Spitzer by a 60% to 17% landslide. Amazingly, Spitzer even beat Weld by a 41% to 36% vote among Republican voters. If Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D) bolts to the GOP to make a run for Governor -- as has been speculated -- Spitzer defeats him by a vote of 58% to 20%. Finally, it appears Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro (R) isn't doing much better in the Attorney General race than she did in her brief run against Senator Clinton. The poll showed Pirro trailing former US Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo (D) by a vote of 49% to 36%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

TENNESSEE. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows the open US Senate race remains hotly contested, although Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D) has lost a few points against each of the leading GOP contenders since the last poll. Former Congressman Van Hilleary (R) leads Ford by the widest margin: 43% to 37%. Former Congressman Ed Bryant (R) and former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) both led Ford by identical votes of 43% to 40%. Hilleary and Bryant have positioned themselves as staunch conservatives, and are splitting that large base of GOP primary voters. Corker, a more moderate candidate, is counting on that split to win the nomination.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

NEW JERSEY. Governor Jon Corzine (D) has decided he will not call an early special election to fill the US House vacancy in CD-13. The seat came open this month when Corzine appointed Congressman Bob Menendez (D) to the open US Senate seat. Corzine's move means that district voters will hold the special election in November 2006, along with the regular election. The winner -- presumably the winner of both parallel races -- would get a slight advantage in seniority and in picking a Hill office location over the other incoming members of the House freshman class. State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires (D) and Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas (D) are the frontrunners for the CD-13 seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is the Centrist Coalition.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Your turn.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CALIFORNIA. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan -- the mother of a young US soldier killed in Iraq -- gained national attention in her unsuccessful vigil outside the President's ranch in Crawford to gain a private audience with him to discuss the war. Since then, she's become the cause célèbre of the anti-war community. This weekend Sheehan was a high-profile attendee at the leftist World Social Forum gathering in Venezuela -- and used the media attention generated by the trip to mention she's planning a primary challenge to US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D). "[Feinstein] voted for the war. She continues to vote for the funding. She won't call for an immediate withdrawal of the troops ... I think our Senator needs to be held accountable for her support of George Bush and his war policies," said Sheehan, already sounding like a candidate. Feinstein's campaign manager scoffed at the attacks: "[Feinstein] doesn't support George Bush and his war policies. She has stated publicly on numerous occasions that she felt she was misled by the Administration at the time of the vote ... Senator Feinstein's position is: 'Let's work toward quickly turning over the defence of Iraq to Iraqis, so that we can bring the troops home as soon as possible." Even Sheehan readily acknowledges Feinstein would easily defeat her in the primary, but says her candidacy "would bring attention to all the peace candidates in the country." In related news, the Republicans finally have a sacrificial candidate against Feinstein: retired State Senator Dick Mountjoy, who comes from the social conservative wing of the GOP. Four third-party candidates are also in the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

OHIO. A new independent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the Ohio Republican Party has Secretary of State Ken Blackwell holding a comfortable lead over Attorney General Jim Petro in the GOP primary for Governor. The poll -- conducted last week following the withdrawal of State Auditor Betty Montgomery from the primary contest -- shows Blackwell leading Petro by a vote of 40% to 30%, with 1% for "Others" and 29% undecided. This isn't good news for Petro, as these numbers come just a short time after he finished a $1.6 million statewide TV ad blitz.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

WEST VIRGINIA. Candidate filing closed on Saturday. Multimillionaire media mogul and former State GOP Chairman John Raese filed to run against US Senator Robert C. Byrd (D). Five other Republicans -- including 2004 Attorney General nominee Hiram Lewis -- also filed for the primary. Raese, who was the 1984 GOP nominee for US Senate and a 1988 candidate for Governor, has the ability to self-finance his campaign. "The biggest issue I'm going to run on is a rebirth of capitalism in this country," said Raese. He also added he did not plan to make any attacks on Byrd but had "no control" over "outside coalitions" like the National Republican Senatorial Committee that may run attack ads. The aging incumbent still remains a strong favorite, but Raese could make it competitive. CD-2 incumbent Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) will yet again face a competitive challenge. South Charleston Richie Robb was a late entrant into the race. Robb was a 2004 GOP candidate for Governor and chosen as a Republican Electoral College member for President Bush. By November 2004, however, Robb -- a Vietnam War veteran who did not like the tone of the Swift Boat ads attacking John Kerry -- made it clear he was disillusioned with Bush and thought the Iraq war was a mistake. Three months ago he completed his political transformation, switching to the Democratic Party. On Friday, Robb announced his candidacy as a Democrat against Capito. However, before Robb gets to face Capito, he first needs to get past a Dem primary against former State Democratic Chair Mike Callaghan and State Delegate Mark Hunt. Robb -- who supports a fixed date for a withdrawal from Iraq -- says that Capito is "part of the Washington establishment that’s hooked into special interests." Capito remains the frontrunner in this race, but these Dems both help keep this seat in play as a competitive race in 2006. The other two Congressional incumbents also drew challengers. State Delegate Chris Wakim (R) filed against Congressman Alan Mollohan (D) in CD-1 and Cabell County Sheriff Kim Wolfe (R) filed against Congressman Nick Rahall (D) in CD-3 -- but neither of these races are viewed as very competitive.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. The latest Rasmussen Reports tracking poll shows the US Senate race here remains very close. Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) held a razor-slim lead over Congressman Mark Kennedy (R) by a vote of 43% to 42%. Multimillionaire philanthropist and veterinarian Ford Bell -- who is challenging Klobuchar for the Democratic nomination -- trailed Kennedy by a vote of 41% to 36%. Klobuchar led Kennedy by 7-points and Kennedy led Bell by 10-points in the last Rasmussen poll. In related news, wealthy trial attorney Mike Ciresi (D) -- a 2000 candidate for US Senate -- plans to announce this week whether or not he'll enter the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

ABRAMOFF UPDATE. Time magazine is reporting some good news for the Republican Party. According to a new poll, 57% of American voters said "they have not been following the Jack Abramoff case very closely or at all." Meanwhile, President Bush last week nominated Noel Hillman -- the chief of the Justice Department's Office of Public Integrity -- to a federal judgeship in New Jersey. Hillman is the hands-on prosecutor who spearheaded the Abramoff investigation. A Justice Department spokesperson said the Hillman nomination had been in the works for nearly a year. Hillman's departure from the case, however, will likely increase Congressional pressure on the White House for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Dan Maffei for Congress (D-New York).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Go.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

US SENATE. SurveyUSA is out with the latest round of 50-state approval rating polls on the US Senators. Of the 100 Senators, the top of the list -- all with approval ratings of 70% or better -- were Dan Inouye (D-HI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Barack Obama (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), John McCain (R-AZ) and Tim Johnson (D-SD). At the opposite end of the spectrum were the four Senators with disapproval ratings larger than their approval numbers: Jim Bunning (R-KY), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Conrad Burns (R-MT). While these numbers don't looks good for the 2006 reelection odds for Santorum and Burns, low ratings do not mean certain political death. Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) was ranked a dismal 92nd place -- with 48% approval and 40% disapproval scores -- yet he handily won election as New Jersey Governor back in November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.06 | Permalink |

ALITO UPDATE. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is trying to kick-start his 2008 Presidential effort by organizing a filibuster of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sam Alito. It's a win-win for Kerry, even if (or, much more likely, when) Alito is confirmed. If the filibuster succeeds, Kerry is a hero to the party's liberal base that was unenthused about him in 2004. If the the effort fails, Kerry still scores points for attempting to organize the filibuster. Meanwhile, the campaign manager for US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) told the Washington Post the Alito vote "is a lose-lose situation" for Chafee. If Chafee votes against Alito, conservative Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey may be able to use the issue in the GOP primary to defeat Chafee for renomination. But, if Chafee votes for Alito, the Dem nominee will use it against Chafee in the general election.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.06 | Permalink |

OHIO. Embattled Congressman Bob Ney (R) officially kicked-off his re-election effort on Thursday. "2006 promises to be a vigorous campaign, and I am ready for the fight," said Ney to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ney remains the top Congressional target of federal investigators in the bribery and corruption probe related to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. With a likely indictment looming, the State GOP Chair said he would call on Ney to quit the race if indicted. Ney, in response, said he'd stay in the race even if he was under indictment. The newspaper noted Ney is still very popular in his CD-18 district. A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said the party would back Ney for reelection -- even if Ney is indicted and even if the Ohio Republican Party wants him to step aside. "Any incumbent running for re-election that needs our support will get it ... If Bob Ney is running for re-election, he'll have our full support," said NRCC spokesman Carl Forti. Ney addressed the Abramoff scandal in his announcement speech. "The last several months have not been easy. I have seen my name savaged by the national media ... And I have watched as the liberal establishment in Washington has engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against me. Fiction will soon be separated from fact. My name will be cleared. I will be vindicated at the end of the day," he said. With the district's county GOP chairs quickly lining up behind Ney, a serious primary challenge is starting to look rather unlikely -- especially as the filing period closes February 16.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is David Kramer for US Senator (R-Nebraska).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Unlike some of my liberal colleagues who are upset with the choice of centrist Governor Tim Kaine (D-VA) to give the Democratic response to the President's State of the Union address next week, I'm not angered. However, I'm certainly disappointed at this squandered opportunity. John Murtha or Russ Feingold would have been two substantially better choices -- both men of integrity, courage and with agendas distinctively different from the Republican agenda. Instead, we went with an option that presents us as yet again as "Republican-Lite." Just my two cents.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

IMPEACHMENT? This story took me by surprise, as I'm rather jaded every time some liberal group talks about "impeaching President Bush for [fill-in-the-blank]." Then again, after impeaching President Clinton for lying about a blow job, Congress certainly lowered the bar for what constitutes an impeachable offense. Still, it's worth taking notice when Insight magazine -- a sister publication of the pro-Bush Washington Times newspaper -- is writing about a possible impeachment of Bush. The purported charges would purportedly focus on the controversial secret electronic surveillance program that monitored domestic phone conversations and emails without any court authorization. The publication -- which has warm relations with the Administration -- quotes a few unnamed White House sources. One source said the "Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress" and a "prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February." The article said Republicans -- including Committee Chair Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- are helping the Democrats by moving this probe forward. "Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the President. If we work hard, there could be a tie," said a White House source. Specter, a critic of the secret program, told the magazine he is not seeking an impeachment vote -- but added it is a possible outcome of the hearings. "Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution. But the principal remedy under our society is to pay a political price," said Specter. The magazine also notes conservative US Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- a likely Presidential candidate -- is another Republican who has openly rejected the President's position and is viewed as a possible pro-impeachment vote. According to a source, this will be the White House's defense: "the American people will never forgive any public official who knowingly hurts national security. We will tell the American people that while we have done everything we can to protect them, our policies are being endangered by a hypocritical Congress."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

MASSACHUSETTS. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) is trying to avoid an Independent gubernatorial candidacy this fall by multimillionaire convenience store magnate Christy Mihos (R). Retiring Governor Mitt Romney -- who has already endorsed Healey -- previously appointed to the State Turnpike Authority. Romney is encouraging Mihos to instead run against US Senator Ted Kennedy (D). Mihos, however, has made is clear he is interested only in the Governor race. That's why Healey is proposing a deal with Mihos: If Mihos agrees to stay in the GOP, Healey will guarantee Mihos the support of enough convention delegates to qualify him for the Republican gubernatorial primary against Healey. "We want [Mihos] in the party. We want him running as a Republican," explained State House Minority Leader Brad Jones, who is Healey's convention chairman. Mihos' campaign said the offer was not enough as "Christy wants to run as a Republican. We just have concerns about the process ... [our] concerns have not been alleviated yet."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

MISSOURI. A new St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Research 2000 poll confirms what other recent polls have shown: US Senator Jim Talent (R) is trailing in his race for re-election. The numbers: State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) - 47%, Talent - 44%. Also relevant were the respective approval ratings. Talent has a 50% approval and 42% disapproval rating. McCaskill had a 50% approval rating and a 36% disapproval rating.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA. A new Behavior Research Center of Phoenix poll -- conducted for local media -- shows US Senator Jon Kyl (R) holding a solid lead over multimillionaire developer and former State Democratic Chair Jim Pederson (D). The numbers: Kyl-55%, Pederson-26%. The same poll also showed Governor Janet Napolitano (D) holding a massive 28-point lead over her nearest GOP challenger.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Peter Hutchinson for Minnesota Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Reading the campaign platform of Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper -- Canada's new Prime Minister -- gave me a chuckle. He supports the Iraq War but promised no Canadians would ever serve in Iraq, supports a total ban on handguns, opposes same-sex marriage but supports gay civil unions, wants an improved national health insurance system, called for a new government program to pay all parents $100 per month per child under age 6 to spend on child care, etc. If he was running in the US on that platform, Republicans would bash Harper as being from the left-wing of the Democratic Party.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

OHIO. State Auditor and former Attorney General Betty Montgomery (R) is set to announce her withdrawal from the gubernatorial contest on Tuesday. Montgomery's campaign never gained traction. Her withdrawal will largely benefit Attorney General Jim Petro (R), as Montgomery and Petro both drew support from the same centrist base. Although there are minor GOP hopefuls remaining in the race (including one who sold himself to the highest bidder last year on eBay), this now retools the primary into a social conservative (Secretary of State Ken Blackwell) versus "GOP Establishment" (Petro) contest. As for Montgomery, she's expected to jump into the race for Attorney General -- the job she was term-limited out of in 2002. The winner of the GOP primary for Governor will likely face Congressman Ted Strickland (D), newspaper editor Bob Fitrakis (Green) and retired college professor Bill Peirce (Libertarian) in November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.06 | Permalink |

ALABAMA. Democrats got some good news in the gubernatorial contest this week. Former Democratic State Representative Nathan Mathis -- a supporter of casino gaming -- had previously announced his candidacy for Governor as an Independent. In a close race, his candidacy could have made him into a spoiler. Now Mathis has backed off his independent candidacy. Mathis says if the state legislature enacts casino legislation this spring, he won't run for Governor. If they fail to enact casino legislation, Mathis says he will then run in the Democratic primary. In either instance, this ensures the Dems will not have someone on the November ballot siphoning off votes. Lieutenant Governor Lucy Baxley is favored to win the Democratic primary over indicted former Governor Don Siegelman. The GOP primary features a contest between Governor Bob Riley and former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy "The Ten Commandments Judge" Moore.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.06 | Permalink |

MICHIGAN. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) continuing to hold a commanding lead in her race for re-election. Stabenow lead Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard -- the NRSC recruited candidate -- by a 56% to 31% vote. She also held a 54% to 35% advantage over former Detroit City Councilman Keith Butler. Think tank director Jerry Zandstra trailed Stabenow by a 58% to 30% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Jim Esch for Congress (D-Nebraska).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. From north of the border, it appears Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper will become Canada's next Prime Minister, as Canadians elected a Tory minority government and ended the 12-year reign of the Liberal Party. Click here for more results and info from the CBC.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ABRAMOFF SCANDAL. Earlier this month Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that it appeared corrupt Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff had only "low-level" staff contact with the Bush White House. Just like he assured the press corps in 2004 that no one in the White House was involved in leaking the info on former CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. Turns out his new denials were as accurate as the Plame-gate ones. Time magazine reports they were shown six photos of President Bush meeting with Abramoff -- but the magazine was not able to get copies of the pix. "While Time's source refused to provide the pictures for publication, they are likely to see the light of day eventually because celebrity tabloids are on the prowl for them," explained the magazine (translation: the source wants to sell them and the tabloids are willing to pay his price). The White House initially sought to explain away the photos, describing them as having been taken when "the President stopped by a meeting with 21 state legislators and two tribal leaders." However, Time said "most of the pictures have the formal look of photos taken at Presidential receptions." In response, the White House acknowledged Abramoff attended some events at the Executive Mansion -- but the Abramoff pix are insignificant because "The President has taken tens upon thousands of pictures at such events," said a Bush spokeswoman.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA. US Senator Rick Santorum (R) continues to stay at the top of the Senate's "most endangered" list this year. According to the new Rasmussen Reports poll, challenger State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) leads Santorum by a vote of 53% to 38%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

GEORGIA. Congressional candidate Jay Fisher (Libertarian) is making a serious attempt to become the first third-party nominee to appear on the ballot for Congress from Georgia in the last 63 years, reported Ballot Access News. "In 1943 Georgia enacted a law that requires minor party and independent candidates for U.S. House to submit a petition signed by 5% of the registered voters in that district. No independent has managed this since 1964, and no minor party nominee has ever done it," explained the newsletter. Fisher, an attorney, must collect 15,000 valid signatures from CD-6 voters to qualify for the ballot. Freshman Congressman Tom Price (R) currently holds the CD-6 seat, which is a safe Republican district.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

FLORIDA. After spending almost a year trying to find someone to challenge Congresswoman Katherine Harris in the GOP primary for US Senate, Republican leaders are giving up their efforts and endorsing Harris. Over the weekend, Governor Jeb Bush and other party leaders officially endorsed Harris at a rally in Orlando. They were worried Harris had negative ratings that simply made her unelectable against US Senator Bill Nelson (D). Governor Bush and the NRSC open talked about how weak Harris was -- and tried to get various elected officials to enter the race -- for month. Now they're kissing and making nice. Resigned to the fact that Harris will be the GOP nominee for the Senate seat, they are now trying to present a unified front to bolster her chances. Bush told attendees he will do "the best I can" to help Harris win because "I think she can beat Bill Nelson." Polls continue to show Harris trailing Nelson by wide margins.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress (D-New York).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Don't know if any of you saw it over the weekend, but check out the new column by liberal icon Molly Ivins blasting Hillary Clinton's Presidential ambitions.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.06 | Permalink |

WEEKEND NEWS UPDATE.

OHIO. State Republican Chairman Bob Bennett told Fox News: "If [Congressman] Bob Ney is indicted ... we would ask him to step down on that basis." Ney, who appears on the verge of indictment on various corruption charges related to the Abramoff scandal, simply doesn't care. "I’m running -- [and] if I’m indicted, I’m running ... [Bennett] didn’t elect me -- my constituents elected me ... My Republicans will decide if I am elected again -- not the party boss," Ney defiantly told The Hill. The Dems running against Ney have got to be loving these comments.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA. If former pro football player Lynn Swann wins the GOP nomination for Governor, incumbent Ed Rendell (D) could be in trouble. According to the new Rasmussen Reports poll, Swann now narrowly leads Rendell by a 45% to 43% vote. However, if former Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton III is the GOP nominee, Rendell holds a comfortable 46% to 36% advantage.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. As we predicted yesterday, child advocate Patty Wetterling (D) quit the open US Senate race Friday afternoon. She also endorsed Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, who is now a safe bet to win the Democratic nomination. Wetterling did not announce any future plans, but party officials confirmed she's already engaged in talks with the leaders of the CD-6 Democratic organization. Sounds like Wetterling is going to make a second run for the Congressional seat. Congressman Mark Kennedy is the GOP candidate. Also running is nurse Michael Cavlan (Green) and public access TV group executive Robert Fitzgerald (Independent).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

HAWAII. While he probably expected this reaction, Hawaii Democratic Party leaders appear solidly united against Congressman Ed Case's Dem primary challenge to US Senator Dan Akaka (D). The 81-year-old incumbent appeared unfazed, saying that winning a challenge like this will only make him politically stronger. US Senator Dan Inouye, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Congressman Neil Abercrombie all quickly threw their weight behind Akaka. Abercrombie, in particular, seemed miffed -- but that's probably because he'd been waiting years for a US Senate seat to open while Case just cut in front of him in the line. Several Democrats quickly announced their candidacies or potential candidacies for Case's solidly Dem CD-2 seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Robert W. Churchill for Congress (R-Illinois).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Sun, waves, breeze, another weekend at the beach ... so I'm outta here. You pick 'em 'til I post new stuff for Monday.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.21.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HAWAII. US Senator Dan Akaka (D), 81, was cruising to an easy re-election over very minor opposition ... until Thursday. Two-term Congressman Ed Case (D), 53, shocked the Democratic establishment by announcing a primary challenge to Akaka. Case has long established himself as a crusading political outsider, butting heads for years with the state's entrenched Dem leadership. "Our Hawaii has been served ably and with great distinction by generations of US Senators, including Senator Daniel Akaka. Like all of our Hawaii, I have the deepest aloha for Senator Akaka and truly honor his decades of selfless service. But we all know that we are in a time of transition our Hawaii's representation in Congress and especially in the Senate. This transition requires that we phase in the next generation to provide continuity in that service," said Case. He warns the state would lose all clout in Washington if the state's two US Senators -- both octogenarians -- leave office within a short time of each other. Akaka had no immediate response -- as this was a contest no one really saw coming. Republicans are not expected to field any major candidate for the seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. In a surprising development, child advocate Patty Wetterling (D) appears on the brink of an imminent exit from the open US Senate race. Her campaign late Thursday quickly announced plans for a major announcement on Friday -- but refused to confirm it is a withdrawal speech. The rumor mill is buzzing that Wetterling -- currently viewed as the second-place candidate for Dem nomination -- will either announce she is jumping into the open CD-6 congressional race or will become a Lieutenant Governor runningmate for one of the announced gubernatorial hopefuls. Wetterling's move essentially solidifies Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar as the solid favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Independent polls in recent months also show Klobuchar leading Congressman Mark Kennedy -- the likely GOP nominee -- by several points.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. Despite last weekend's claim by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) that he already has pledges for more than the 117 votes needed to win the race for House Majority Leader, rival candidate Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) is starting to gain some impressive endorsements this week. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and House Republican Study Conference Chair Mike Pence (R-IN) endorsed Shadegg, as did some of the rising "Young Turks" in the GOP caucus. They seem drawn to Shadegg as an uncompromising Club for Growth-style voice for fiscal conservatism. Shadegg is counting on the secret ballot to enable him to win an upset victory over frontrunners Blunt and Congressman John Boehner (R-OH). No real gains this week touted by the Boehner camp.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

P2008. Today is just filled with surprising news -- including this item. Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), a likely Presidential candidate, unexpectedly announced he will include a medical marijuana bill in his requested legislative package for the upcoming session of the legislature. Earlier in the week, Richardson and the State House Speaker had said they didn't think they had enough time in the upcoming 30-day session to deal with the issue. Explaining his quick turnabout, Richardson said: "After speaking with many seriously ill New Mexicans, I have decided to include this bill on my call. This issue is too important, and there are too many New Mexicans suffering to delay this issue any further." A similar bill won easy approval last year in the State Senate, but died without a vote in the State House.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Sue Jeffers for Minnesota Governor -- our first Libertarian campaign to be so honored.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Friday is January 20th, so we only have to wait exactly three more years for President Russ Feingold's inauguration. See you there!! (Also, for button collectors, please check out my eBay auctions.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.06 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

LOUISIANA. Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) -- who faced extensive attacks for her purportedly poor handling of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans tragedy in the days that followed -- doesn't want anyone to think she'll retire next year. Instead, Blanco announced this week her plans to seek a second term in 2007. "I plan to run for re-election ... By the time this election comes around, we will have a zooming economy," said Blanco. She also repeated her account that she did everything possible to respond to Katrina -- but it was the White House that dropped the ball and delayed the an effective response. "Not one of us on my staff has walked a slow step since this storm hit," she added. Even with an early start on 2007, Blanco remains high on the politically endangered list.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

TENNESSEE. Move Governor Phil Bredesen (D) from "Dem Favored" to the "Safe Dem" column. State Representative and former State GOP Chair Beth Harwell announced she would not challenge Bredesen. With Harwell's exit went the last viable Republican who was looking at the race. The only announced GOP challengers: little-known building contractor and attorney Mark Albertini and Native American activist and paralegal Carl "Two Feathers" Whitaker. The news will allow the Tenneessee Republican Party to write-off the gubernatorial contest and instead focus on the open US Senate seat and down-ballot contests.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

ARKANSAS. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Attorney General Mike Beebe (D) continuing to hold an advantage in the open race for Arkansas Governor. According to the poll, Beebe leads former Congressman Asa Hutchinson (R) by a 46% to 40% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

VIRGINIA. US Senator George Allen (R) looks very strong in his race for re-election, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll. The numbers: Allen-57%, tech industry lobbyist Harris Miller (D)-27%. Democratic leaders are still trying to entice author and former Reagan Administration Navy Secretary James Webb to enter the contest. Webb has been a sharp critic of the Iraq War and -- this week -- authored a scathing New York Times column on Republican-organized efforts to dishonor and spread false slurs about decorated veterans who criticize the Bush Administration.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Whatever. (Also, for button collectors, please check out my eBay auctions.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

MISSISSIPPI. US Senator Trent Lott (R) announced Tuesday he will seek reelection this year. With his house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina -- and most of his life savings along with it -- Lott sued his insurance company and openly talked in recent months of retiring in order to make more money as a lobbyist. "We've been through an awful lot here in the past few months. We've struggled with the events of history; now we're struggling to deal with the events of nature. It's given us a new and difficult challenge ... For me, it became a choice. Do I spend the future with my wife and Tricia spending more time with the grandchildren or do I continue to ask the people to allow me to serve this great state. I've made a choice," said Lott. He's a safe bet to win reelection -- and look for him attempt a return to the GOP leadership by challenging Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) for Whip next year ... if Santorum wins another term.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

COLORADO. State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D) and State Representative Tom Plant (D) say they will try to place a matter on the state ballot in November to grant domestic partner rights to same-sex couples. "This is about economic fairness and equality. Knowing there are people out there who can never legally marry, we're leaving it to the voters to decide if there isn't something we can do so that they can inherit property, make medical decisions and enjoy other rights," said Fitz-Gerald. By taking the legislative referendum approach to place the measure on the ballot, Governor Bill Owens (R) would not be able to veto the proposal if it is adopted by voters. Owens last year vetoed a law that banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Fitz-Gerald/Plant proposal would extend the following rights to gay couples that register as domestic partners: hospital and nursing home visitation rights; protection of property rights, inheritance and pension benefits; the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner; access to a partner's health-care benefits; access to family-leave benefits to care for an ill partner; and the right to take possession of a deceased partner's remains. Meanwhile, religious conservatives told the newspaper they oppose the domestic partner proposal and are considering placing a constitutional measure on the Colorado ballot this year to ban gay marriage.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

TEXAS. The Club for Growth surprisingly endorsed -- for the first time -- a Democrat: Congressman Henry Cuellar (D). Well, a pseudo-Dem ... as the conservative Cuellar is one of President Bush's favorite Dems. Bush, when he was Texas Governor, appointed Cuellar as Secretary of State. According to National Journal, Cuellar's campaign said group never contacted them the endorsement and it came "out of left field." Well, right field would be more accurate. Cuellar is locked in a competitive primary rematch on March 7th with liberal former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, whom Cuellar narrowly ousted after a lengthy recount in 2004.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

FLORIDA. Here's a bizarre and amusing story. Candidate filing closed last week for the March municipal elections in South Florida. In the city of Parkland -- located right here in my home county -- embattled Mayor Bob Marks filed for reelection. He's currently under criminal investigation for having voted to help a developer on matters in which he had secret ties between his business and the developer. Here is where it gets strange: the three candidates who filed against him were reformer City Commissioner Michael Udine, Marilyn Krantz (she appears to be an anti-Udine plant by Marks) ... and Carolyn Marks, the Mayor's wife. No, it's not a divorce situation -- as Bob and Carolyn are happily married. Here is how Carolyn explained her candidacy to the Sun-Sentinel: "If Bob gets indicted .. there will still be a Marks on the ballot." And here's a report I got from someone who attended a candidates forum last week: "It was the strangest thing you have ever seen. The stump speech by Carolyn Marks was ridiculous. At first she said she and her husband are 'kind of running as a team. I am fully supporting my husband.' Then she said 'Vote for Bob, but if he can’t be on the ballot, then vote for me. But, if Bob is still on the ballot, then vote for him. But, he might not be on the ballot, so vote for me.' She went on like that three more times." Pretty pathetic.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Jennifer Granholm for Michigan Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. I got emails asking why didn't I write up the Al Gore speech bashing Dubya? Simple answer: Lots of Dems bash the President (hey, I've been known to do it from time to time) so that, in and of itself, isn't the kind of thing I cover. If he was a potential Presidential candidate for 2008 -- and he'd be a strong candidate for the nomination if he'd run -- I'd have covered it. But Gore already made it clear months ago he won't run. In fact, he clearly said he will never again be a candidate for any elective office. Thus, he's just another Dem critic of this Administration. I thought his remarks were great, but it wasn't the kind of thing we usually cover. (Also, for button collectors, please check out my eBay auctions.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

QUICK TAKES. The Monday MLK Holiday was a fairly slow day for political news (and we already covered the weekend's news on Monday). Still, there are a few items worth mentioning. OHIO: The GOP gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Jim Petro suffered a stunning blow on Monday when Lieutenant Governor runningmate Phil Heimlich quit his ticket. The rumor was floating for weeks and Petro staffers repeatedly (and even very recently) said the buzz of a looming political Heimlich Maneuver was completely false. Turns out it was true. Heimlich instead plans to seek reelection this year to his county commission seat. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also reported Heimlich "was concerned that Petro -- once viewed as the front runner -- was too much of a long-shot for the nomination." ... MISSISSIPPI: US Senator Trent Lott (R) will announce Tuesday whether or not he will seek reelection this year. All signs in recent days point to him seeking another term ... NEW JERSEY: US Senator-designate Bob Menendez (D) starts his race for a full term as an underdog. Menendez -- selected by Governor-elect Jon Corzine (D) to fill Corzine's soon-to-be-open US Senate seat -- must face the voters this year. According to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, centrist State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R) leads Menendez by a 36% to 25% vote. In related news, Congressman Rob Andrews (D) announced he will not challenge Menendez in the primary -- meaning Menendez will not face any serious challenge for the Dem nomination ... ARIZONA: Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R) has some 'splaining to do, according to a new KPNX-TV/SurveyUSA poll. In the poll, 62% of CD-5 residents do not believe Hayworth is "telling the truth" about contributions he received from Jack Abramoff. Only 26% say they believe Hayworth.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.17.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is CodePink: Women for Peace.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.17.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Long weekend over, so it's back to work. (Also, for button collectors, I've posted several more groups of campaign buttons from TX, ND, FL, MA , SC, NY and AK ... so check out my eBay auctions.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.17.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) claimed victory on Saturday in his race for House Majority Leader, saying he has over 117 pledges of support. "I've counted a lot of votes in my seven years in the Whip's office, and this was a well-fought fight on all sides. John Boehner is a great congressman and a good friend. My friend John Shadegg is bringing an important focus to the final days of this race. I look forward to working with both of them as we achieve great results for the American people," said Blunt. Boehner scoffed at Blunt's claim, challenging to Blunt to agree to give up his Whip spot if he's so confident he has the votes. However, as the election is conducted by closed ballot, private pledges and actual votes may be two different things. Just remember Ted Kennedy's famous quip when he unexpectedly lost by one vote to Robert C. Byrd in his 1971 race for Senate Majority Whip: "I'd like to thank the 27 Senators who pledged to vote for me -- and I'd especially like to thank the 26 who did."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

ABRAMOFF SCANDAL. Congressman Bob Ney (R-OH) bowed to pressure from Speaker Denny Hastert to resign as the House Administration Committee Chair. Ney -- the leading federal target of the ongoing Abramoff scandal -- on Sunday issued a statement he will "temporarily step-down" as chairman. And, in case you were wondering how solid is the FBI case against Ney, then check out this new report from Time magazine. Time obtained copies of an email exchange between Abramoff and lobbying partner Michael Scanlon -- both of whom already pled guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors. Here are the two key emails:
ABRAMOFF TO SCANLON: "Would 10K for NRCC from Suncruz for Ney help?"
SCANLON'S REPLY: "Yes, alot! But would have to give them a definate answer -- and they need it this week..."

Suncruz quickly gave $10,000 to the NRCC to expend on behalf of Ney and, in return, Ney inserted his now infamous comments into the Congressional Record praising a Abramoff partner Adam Kidan in the Suncruz deal and bashing Abramoff's business foe. Hey, if that is just a sampling of the details contained in Abramoff's emails -- now in the hands of the FBI -- a whole bunch of Members of Congress may be contemplating early retirements and possible future federal prison sentences.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

GOVERNOR RACES. In NEW YORK, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi filed paperwork Friday to start raising money for a gubernatorial Democratic primary challenge to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer remains the heavy favorite in the race. In OREGON, former Governor Jon Kitzhaber (D) announced he will not challenge incumbent Governor Ted Kulongoski in this year's Democratic primary. With Kitzhaber out of the picture, Kulongoski looks to be in good shape to win renomination.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

CONGRESSIONAL RACES. In TEXAS, a Houston Chronicle/Rice University poll released Saturday shows Congressman Tom DeLay (R) badly trailing in his race for re-election. According to the poll, former Congressman Nick Lampson (D) is at 30%, DeLay is at 22%, and arch-conservative former Congressman Steve Stockman (Independent) is at 11%. Even more troubling for DeLay, half of all voters who said they supported DeLay in 2004 said they were uncertain they would vote for him this year. DeLay's numbers were even weak among likely Republican primary voters: 10% back one of DeLay's opponents and 40% said they were still undecided. In NEW YORK, it appears Governor George Pataki (R) is working behind the scenes to help defeat Congressman John Sweeney (R). According to the New York Post, Saratoga County GOP Chairman Jasper Nolan wants the NY Republican Party to fire part-time political consultant Patrick McCarthy. Nolan said that McCarthy -- a close Pataki ally and former Executive Director of the state GOP -- is helping attorney Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat running against Sweeney. Nolan said "he believes that Pataki himself approved of McCarthy's alleged efforts." Gillibrand is the daughter of a powerful Albany lobbyist closely associated with Pataki. Nolan said McCarthy and Gillibrand were spotted dining together. McCarthy tells the newspaper he was just "having a few sodas" with her, but the meeting involved nothing substantive.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. Last month we reported on self-proclaimed Satanic Dark Priest Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey and his candidacy for Minnesota Governor. While many of us laughed at the report of his gubernatorial ambitions, some people were apparently not amused. Although I would never vote for Sharkey -- and I think the whole witchcraft thing is just silly -- but I believe what happened next is fairly appalling. Princeton Public School District Superintendent Mark Sleeper on Friday ordered the Peterson Bus company to fire Sharkey's wife from her job as a bus driver. Under the company's contract, the District can require the company to discharge any employee found unsuitable by the District. "The Princeton School District is requesting that Julie Carpenter be removed from driving or having contact with students. It is our opinion Ms. Carpenter does not serve as a role mode nor is suitable to perform transportation services for the Princeton School District in light of recent media reports of her husband/friend to be a vampire who is running for public office and Ms. Carpenter informing other bus garage employees that she is a witch," wrote Sleeper. Click here to view Sleeper's entire letter. "It is the Salem Witch hunts all over again," emailed Carpenter. Even if you agree with me that the whole Satanic Dark Priest think is goofy, the courts have found Wicca followers generally entitled to the religious protections afforded by the first amendment. Further, no matter how much I oppose a candidate -- even ones much more serious and offensive than "The Impaler" -- it's wrong to fire a spouse simply because he/she is related to a fringe candidate. Carpenter wasn't arrested or convicted for anything. Heck, she isn't accused of any real wrongdoing -- nor is her husband (besides being a really, really strange publicity whore). That said, I've got two words of advice for Carpenter (and it doesn't involve impalement): Sue 'em!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY: Our site of the day winner is Charlie Crist for Florida Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

OPEN THREAD. Happy MLK Day. Also, for button collectors, I've posted several more groups of campaign buttons from TX, ND, FL, MA , SC and AK ... so check out my eBay auctions.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.06 | Permalink |

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