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BLOG ARCHIVE: JANUARY 16-31, 2008.

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

EDWARDS MAKES SURPRISE EXIT; REPUBLICANS DEBATE; NADER JUMPS IN; CONGRESSMAN DAVIS RETIRES.
EDWARDS: In an entirely unexpected move, former US Senator John Edwards (D) quit the Presidential race on Wednesday. Polls since Iowa had shown Edwards mired far behind in third place, but he had until Wednesday vowed to continue forward until the convention to advance his populist economic message. In withdrawing from the race, Edwards endorsed neither Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Instead, he said he was simply asking both to commit to dealing with the cause of ending poverty in America. Edwards' senior advisor Joe Trippi told reporters that both Clinton and Obama were "banging down the doors" to win Edwards' endorsement. Although he did not yet make any endorsement, pundits generally seem to believe Obama will be the biggest beneficiary on Super Tuesday of Edwards' exit. Clinton and Obama will debate Thursday night in what may be the most important televised debate of the primary season. In other Dem news, US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) endorsed Clinton this week.
P2008 - GOP: Just hours after Rudy Giuliani exited the race and endorsed John McCain, the four remaining Republican contenders participated in yet another televised debate. The shots -- if any -- were largely between frontrunners McCain and Mitt Romney. The body language and comments of the two men evinced the sharp personal dislike they have for each other. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul were largely sideshows in the debate, and Huckabee complained several times during the debate that he and Paul were somewhat being ignored. As neither Romney nor McCain landed any knockout blows -- despite several testy exchanges -- the debate seemed to leave McCain standing as the leading GOP candidate heading into February 5. In related news, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will endorse McCain on Thursday. Several prominent GOP elected officials in other Super Tuesday states are also set to endorse McCain over the next few days.
NADER: Aging consumer activist Ralph Nader -- the 1996 and 2000 Green Party nominee for President -- is back for a sixth run for President in 2008. On Wednesday he filed paperwork to establish an Independent exploratory committee for President. Nader, 73, also launched his new campaign website. On his website, Nader vows he will take on "corporate greed, corporate power, [and] corporate control." While Nader may make another bid this year for the Green nomination, the party is likely to reject Nader -- just as it did in 2004. Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (Green-CA) -- who was formerly a Georgia Democrat -- is viewed as the frontrunner for the Green nomination.
VIRGINIA: In a long-rumored move, Congressman Tom Davis (R) announced he would not seek reelection this year."I think you know inside yourself when it's time to do something else," said Davis. With Davis' departure, the NRCC now has 25 GOP open seats in the US House to defend in November. While Davis did not make any formal endorsement, he said the "best" candidate to succeed him was businessman Keith Fimian (R). Fimian has raised nearly $700,000 to date in his exploratory effort. Fairfax County Council Chair Gerry Connolly and former Congresswoman Leslie Byrne are the leading announced Dems for the seat. Based upon CD-11's voting history in recent statewide and federal races, this open seat must be rated as Leans DEM.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Your daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.31.08 | Permalink
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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

McCAIN WINS FLORIDA; RUDY TO ENDORSE McCAIN; LIEBERMAN SAYS NO INTEREST IN McCAIN VP SPOT.
P2008 - FLORIDA GOP: John McCain scored a narrow but crucial victory over Mitt Romney in the Florida GOP primary on Tuesday. The results: McCain - 36%, Romney - 31%, Rudy Giuliani - 15%, Mike Huckabee - 13%, Ron Paul - 3%. The state, in terms of delegates, was winner-take-all. McCain seemingly gained ground in the closing days as Giuliani's campaign faded, as GOP moderates shifted to McCain. Giuliani is expected to quit the race Wednesday, especially after his election night speech in which he frequently talked of his campaign in the past tense. Giuliani plans to formally withdraw from the race and endorse McCain on Wednesday in California. McCain's victorious campaign, however, is largely broke. Romney by contrast has personal deep pockets and can continue forward with the needed financial resources without breaking a sweat. Further hampering Romney is the fact that cash-strapped social conservative Huckabee has vowed to continue his campaign into the February 5 contests. Some Romney strategists believe Huckabee is now staying in the race solely to draw conservative votes away from Romney -- in the hope that Huckabee would be selected as McCain's VP runningmate.
P2008 - FLORIDA DEMS: Although zero delegates were at stake and the candidates all largely stuck to their pledge to avoid campaigning in Florida -- to punish the state for breaking the DNC's official schedule -- Hillary Clinton scored a big victory in the beauty contest primary. The win was no surprise, as polls from the outset showed Clinton holding leads in the 20-point range. The Dem vote: Clinton - 51%, Barack Obama - 30%, John Edwards - 16%.

LIEBERMAN: US Senator Joe Lieberman (Independent Dem-CT) is aggressively campaigning on behalf of John McCain -- but he told the AP on Tuesday he does not want to run for VP on a fusion ticket with McCain in November. "I'd tell him: 'Thanks, John, I've been there. I've done that. You can find much better,'" said Lieberman. He said he would likely attend the Republican National Convention in September, but only if McCain will be the nominee. However, Lieberman emphasized his activity on behalf of McCain should not be mistakenly viewed as a sign he has any interest in switching his affiliation to the Republican Party.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.08 | Permalink
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SURPRISE KY CONGRESSIONAL RETIREMENT; ANOTHER POSSIBLE GOP HOUSE RETIREMENT.
KENTUCKY: Tuesday saw a surprise retirement in the closing moments of the candidate filing period in Kentucky. Congressman Ron Lewis (R) withdrew his candidacy papers with less than an hour to go before the filing deadline. Instead -- in what was clearly a coordinated move -- Lewis Chief of Staff Daniel London filed for the GOP nomination in CD-2. Then, with just minutes remaining, State Senator Brett Guthrie (R) also filed paperwork for the open seat. Expect a hot contest here, as State Senator David Boswell and Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire both filed as Democrats for the CD-2 seat. CD-2 Race Rating: Toss-Up. In CD-3, four Republicans -- including former Congresswoman Anne Northup and former pro-football player Chris Thieneman -- filed to oppose freshman Congressman John Yarmuth (D). CD-3 Race Rating: Leans DEM. In the US Senate race, eight Democrats and one minor GOP challenger filed to run against Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). Race Rating: GOP Favored. Click here to view all of the Kentucky candidate filings.
NEW YORK: I missed this item a few days ago in the footer of a WHAM-TV story about Congressman Jim Walsh's (R) retirement. In the story, the local station noted that -- like Walsh -- Congressman Randy Kuhl (R) also won a very narrow victory in 2006. When asked about Kuhl's plans for 2008, the Congressman's spokesperson oddly responded that "he had not decided whether he would run for reelection." Not exactly the response you'd expect from a vulnerable incumbent. Kuhl is facing a rematch against retired Naval officer Eric Massa (D).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
I was really wrong last summer when John McCain's campaign was broke and I thought he was politically dead in the Presidential race. One top-level McCain advisor
told me last month that "the collapse was the best thing that could have happened to McCain. [Campaign Manager] John Weaver and his circle left the McCain campaign, which was a great thing, because they had been pushing McCain much further right to make him into another Bush. Weaver was trying to run the McCain campaign with the same playbook he used for the the Bush 2004 campaign, and that was a major mistake. It wasn't a good fit for McCain and it showed. Weaver's departure allowed McCain to 'be McCain' again."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.30.08 | Permalink
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TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

McCAIN, ROMNEY FIGHT FOR FL WIN; RUDY TO QUIT THIS WEEK; FL DEM PRIMARY; KEYES HINTS AT THIRD PARTY RUN.
P2008 - FLORIDA GOP: Depending upon the pollster you trust, either John McCain or Mitt Romney is leading in Florida. Some polls show McCain leading, while others show Romney narrowly ahead. Nearly all polls show the two men within three-points of each other. Romney and McCain both took pointed shots at each other throughout Monday while campaigning in the state. Both men need a win in Florida to provide a major boost in this GOP winner-take-all contest before heading into the February 5 states. One thing is clear: Rudy Giuliani is running a distant third and will be forced to quit the race this week because of his poor Florida finish. On Monday, Giuliani hinted to his media entourage that these are his campaign's final days as he gave each one gifts. Giuliani should have studied history better, as John Lindsay was the last NYC Mayor to run for President (D-1972) -- and he also mistakenly gambled on Florida to provide a needed kick-start victory. As for Mike Huckabee, he's simply fighting with Giuliani for third place.
P2008 - FLORIDA DEMS: Hillary Clinton is expected to score a sizable win in Tuesday's Florida Democratic primary, even though no delegates are at stake. Polls have consistently shown Clinton leading by a margin of around 20-points. The three major Democratic candidates all agreed to abide by their earlier pledges to avoid campaigning in Florida because the state broke with the DNC's sanctioned primary schedule. Clinton, however, said in recent days that she wants the DNC to lift the sanctions against the state and reinstate the state's right to national convention delegates.
KENTUCKY: As first reported a week ago, former Congresswoman Anne Northup (R) confirmed Monday she will file paperwork this week to seek a rematch against freshman Congressman John Yarmuth (D). Since losing for re-election, Northup lost a GOP primary for Governor. Also keep in mind that John Kerry defeated President Bush in this district four years ago. Race rating: Leans DEM.
KEYES: Appearing as a guest on the obscure Weekly Filibuster blog radio show on Saturday, former Ambassador Alan Keyes (R) attacked Mike Huckabee as "a liberal" on funding issues, said John McCain was not a reliable conservative, denounced Mitt Romney for "changing his positions as he goes along," and said Ron Paul's foreign policy views were "crazy." The most significant part of the online interview came at the very end when Keyes was directly asked if he would consider making an Independent or third party run for President in November. The answer: "I think the people of this country deserve good choices. If we are faced with a situation where neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to offer the people good choices consistent with the moral premises of our liberty ... then I think somebody is going to have to step forward and offer that choice. Would I consider doing that? Sure I would. ... If, at the end of the day, the Republican Party insists on going down the same road of the Democrats and abandoning the declaration of principals of American life, I think we will need a party that fights for them and I will help to put it together." Translation: Look for Keyes to soon make a bid for the Constitution Party's Presidential nomination.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
What's your take on President Bush's final State of the Union address?
(Also, FYI, as I hear this constant complaint about polling: "I don't know anyone who has ever been polled!" Not only has our household frequently been polled over the years, but I was called by two different national pollsters on Monday about the Florida Dem primary -- and was polled on the Prez race by a third firm maybe three weeks ago. A lawyer I work with was also called by a pollster on Monday.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.29.08 | Permalink
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MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

McCAIN SCORES FL ENDORSEMENTS; KENNEDY FAMILY FOR OBAMA; HILLARY BREAKS FL "NO-CAMPAIGN" PLEDGE; WV FILING CLOSES.
P2008 - FLORIDA GOP: John McCain received a major boost in Florida over the weekend, winning the endorsement of Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R). As Crist has sky-high approval ratings in the state, the endorsement is big news. US Senator Mel Martinez also endorsed McCain on Saturday, but the back-story is more amusing. Martinez had originally agreed to endorse McCain a week ago, then backed out hours before the scheduled announcement due to pressure from some key Rudy Giuliani backers. Mitt Romney's campaign said Martinez then assured them he would "remain neutral" for the primary -- but then Martinez changed his mind again and endorsed McCain. Romney, however, continues to dominate the airwaves in the state with his heavy TV buys. One spot, running on Spanish language TV stations, goes so far as to describe Romney as "America's best businessman." McCain has increased his TV buys in Florida -- a winner-take-all state for the GOP -- while Giuliani's fading campaign runs ads only infrequently. Huckabee is not on TV in Florida.
THE KENNEDYS: Caroline Kennedy -- daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy -- endorsed Barack Obama on Sunday in a New York Times article she authored. "Over the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was President ... Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things ... We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama ... I have never had a President who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president -- not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans," she wrote. Just a day after his niece's article was published, US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will endorse Obama at a rally in DC on Monday. Both Clinton and Obama had heavily courted Kennedy's prized endorsement. The Politico reported that former President Bill Clinton desperately called Kennedy over the weekend in a failed effort to derail the endorsement. The Clintons had considered Kennedy a close friend. NBC news reports it was purportedly President Clinton's conduct over the past few weeks -- and the perceived interjecting of race in the contest -- that so offended Kennedy it pushed him from his neutral stance into a decision to endorse Obama. Senator Kennedy's endorsement is possibly the single biggest political endorsement any Democrat can land -- except for President Clinton's endorsement. Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA), the highest ranking Latino in the US House, also endorsed Obama over the weekend. And -- yet another endorsement -- Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) will also announce her support of Obama on Monday. In response to the slew of influential endorsements, a Clinton spokesman tersely responded: "At the end of the day, the voters are going to choose a candidate on their merits, not on their endorsements."
P2008 - FLORIDA DEMS: Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, made a swing through Florida on Sunday, and will return to the Sunshine State again for Tuesday's primary. The Sunday stops were styled as fundraisers, but her airport arrivals were choreographed to ensure it was clear to Florida TV news viewers she was making stops in the state and speaking with the media about the delegate controversy. Although no delegates are at stake because of DNC sanctions -- and the Dem candidates had all previously pledged to avoid campaigning in Florida during the primary -- Clinton told the AP she thought it was important to go to Florida now to assure Democrats that "their voices are heard" and she will support seating all of their delegates. "Hundreds of thousands of people have already voted in Florida and I want them to know I will be there to be part of what they have tried to do to make sure their voices are heard," she added. By contrast, Obama and Edwards say they both intend to keep their pledges by avoiding campaign activity in Florida for the primary. In related news, US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) endorsed Clinton last week.
WEST VIRGINIA: The primary filing deadline closed on Saturday evening with a major surprise. State Senator John Unger (D) -- the DCCC's recruited candidate in the CD-2 race against Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) -- quit just hours before the filing deadline without giving any explanation. Anne Barth (D), who was US Senator Robert Byrd's State Director for the past two decades, jumped into the void at the last minute at the urging of state party leaders and the DCCC. Barth is seen as well politically well-connected, as she also served as Byrd's campaign manager for his last three re-election runs. Former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb and attorney Thornton Cooper are also seeking the CD-2 Dem nomination. US Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) faces two minor Dems in the primary, and former State Senator Jay Wolfe (R) in the general election. Wolfe previously lost US Senate races in 1988 and 2002. Governor Joe Manchin (D) faces nominal opposition from State Delegate Mel Kessler (D) and former State Senator Russ Weeks (R). CD-1 Congressman Alan Mollohan (D) is unopposed. CD-3 Congressman Nick Rahall (D) may have an opponent, as salesman Marty Gearheart (R) told newspaper reporters his filing package was postmarked and mailed to state officials before the filing deadline. The Secretary of State's office had not received Gearheart's package as of Saturday evening. Governor & US Senate race ratings: Safe DEM. CD-2 race rating: GOP Favored.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.28.08 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Before everyone gets worked up -- again -- and flames me with complaints
that today's posting is "too pro-Obama", then give me any other way to spin Obama's landslide SC victory and Kennedy endorsement duo. It just happened to be a good Obama weekend, just as the week before was rather favorable for Clinton.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.28.08 | Permalink
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SUNDAY NEWS UPDATE.

OBAMA WINS BY GIANT LANDSLIDE IN SOUTH CAROLINA.
After a week of bitter attacks and counter-attacks in the South Carolina Democratic primary, Barack Obama scored a surprisingly large 28-point landslide victory in the state over Hillary Clinton. Clinton had held a double-digit lead in South Carolina less than two months ago, so this outcome indicates a significant shift in overall voter sentiments. The vote seemed to be a sharp rejection of the Clinton campaign strategy -- particularly using former President Bill Clinton as the attack surrogate -- of interjecting race into their attacks. Even on primary day, President Clinton did it again. He was asked a question of whether he thought it was "fair" that he and Senator Clinton were seemingly "double teaming" Obama in the state. In response, President Clinton instead dismissively and pointedly noted that Jesse Jackson won the state in 1984 and 1988 (translation: this Obama victory was just a black vote for a black candidate in a black state). Overall, Obama captured 25% of the white vote, with Clinton and Edwards dividing the rest of the white vote. Exit polls showed it was younger white voters who were most negatively impacted by the Clinton racial strategy, as half of this entire demographic group voted for Obama. Clinton and Obama nearly evenly split the bulk of the the white male vote (all age groups combined), with Edwards capturing the remainder. The SC results: Obama - 55%, Clinton - 27%, Edwards - 18%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.27.08 | Permalink
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SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE.

SATURDAY IS S.C. DEM PRIMARY; FL CONGRESSMAN RETIRES.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Democrats cast primary ballots in South Carolina on Saturday, following a rather nasty battle in the state between the two frontrunners. Barack Obama remains the favorite to win the state, although final polling shows his lead narrowing.
FLORIDA: Congressman Dave Weldon (R) announced Friday he will not seek re-election to a seventh time. Weldon last year dispelled retirement rumors by announcing his plans to run again. Now he said he had a change of heart. "It has never been my intention to serve indefinitely. I always assumed that at some point I would leave and would be able to go back to my practice and have more time with my family ... This has been a tough decision for me. I have very much enjoyed my service, but I need to do what is best for my family now and be true to my heart’s desire," explained Weldon, who said he will return to practicing medicine in Florida. Four Republican state legislators confirmed they were looking at the race. Two Democrats and a Libertarian are already announced candidates for the seat. Weldon's CD-15 open seat must be rated as GOP Favored, as the district has a strong Republican tilt.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.26.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Your daily open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.26.08 | Permalink
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FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

GOP'ERS DEBATE; EDWARDS GAINS IN SC; KUCINICH QUITS; REP. WALSH RETIRES; PUCKISH POLITICS LEFT AND RIGHT.
P2008 - GOP: The remaining
Republican Presidential hopefuls debated in Florida on Thursday evening -- the twentieth GOP debate of the campaign. Contrasted with the recent Democratic debate, the GOP candidates gingerly avoided serious clashes nearly all evening. In related news, several independent polls now confirm that Rudy Giuliani has plummeted into a distant third place in Florida. Likewise, the polls now show Mitt Romney either virtually tied with or now slightly leading John McCain in the Sunshine State. FYI: As a Floridian, I'm seeing tons of Romney TV spots on the air, versus just a small number of Giualiani and McCain spots.
P2008 - DEM: Yup, again. Thursday was another day of nasty exchanges between the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama camps. Both began airing new attack spots against each other in South Carolina, only to voluntarily yank both off the air a few hours later. The only winner in all of this appears to be John Edwards. A new WCSC-TV/Survey USA poll shows Edwards rapidly gaining ground in South Carolina, while Obama remains flat and Clinton is losing support. The numbers: Obama - 45%, Clinton - 29%, Edwards - 22%. Clinton is down 13-points since last week's poll, while Edwards moved up eight-points.

KUCINICH: Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D) -- during an interview Thursday with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer -- abruptly said he will formally withdraw from the White House race on Friday. Kucinich scored in the low single-digits in the early contests. The real reason for his quick exit: Kucinich suddenly finds himself facing a very tough March 4 primary battle for renomination. Kucinich's four primary challengers -- including Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman and North Olmstead Mayor Tom O'Grady -- say Kucinich has neglected his district's needs due to his national ambitions. "Right now I'm under attack by corporate interests, most of them from the city of Cleveland, who have an agenda that has nothing to do with the people of my community, nor with most people in this country," wrote a defensive Kucinich this week in an email to supporters.
NEW YORK: Congressman Jim Walsh (R) announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to an eleventh term. Walsh was facing a tough rematch this year against former Congressional aide Dan Maffei (D) for the CD-25 seat. John Kerry carried this swing district in 2004. Walsh said his narrow 2006 victory "made me focus on where I was in my career ... I have always said that politics is not my life, it is just part of my life. And now, at the end of this term of Congress, that part will be over. I just feel like I did my part, I ran my part of the race. It’s up to somebody else now." Walsh said he has "no idea" what he will do next, but does not plan to ever run again for office. Several GOP names are being mentioned as possible candidates. With Walsh out, our race rating shifts from toss-up to: Leans DEM.
PUCKISH POLITICS - LEFT: Americans United for Change -- a 527-group run by Democratic political operative Brad Woodhouse -- has a cute stunt to tie the current Congressional Republicans to President Bush. This week the group distributed large pro-Bush campaign buttons to all of the GOP legislators on Capitol Hill. In a tongue-in-cheek letter accompanying the pins, Woodhouse wrote: "It is with great pleasure that I am able to present you with this limited edition 'I am a Bush Republican' commemorative button on the occasion of President Bush’s final State of the Union Address. It would be a shame to let this event pass without a show of solidarity among those who have stood by him and enabled his legacy to be established on so many issues. Without your steadfast support of President Bush’s domestic, foreign and economic policies, there is no doubt America would not be in the position it is in today. Please wear this button on Monday evening to show your constituents that you support President Bush, his policies and how proud you are of your contribution to his legacy."
PUCKISH POLITICS - RIGHT: A few days ago, infamous GOP political operative Roger Stone launched his crudely-humored 527 group named Citizens United Not Timid (mission statement: "educating the people as to what Hillary Clinton is"). On Wednesday, David Bossie's conservative Citizens United group -- which runs TV ads and files lawsuits against various liberal politicians and causes -- sent Stone's group a letter demanding it immediately "cease and desist from the [trademark] infringement." Further, they complained that Stone's group "deliberately appropriated [Citizens United's name] in order to capitalize on the release of the documentary film Hillary The Movie." Stone was unimpressed by the lawsuit threat: "This is why I hate conservatives. No sense of humor." Stone, FYI, sees himself as a "libertarian Nixonite" Republican. Stone's attorney quickly fired back an amusing letter saying there was no "likelihood of confusion" between Bossie's group and Stone's group, which "could only be viewed by the public as a joke or at worst a parody." As to the purported Hillary movie, Stone's lawyer dismissively explained that "candidly, this is the first our client has ever heard of such a movie." Finally, to twist the knife in the wound, Stone's lawyer wrote there was no likelihood of confusion because "your client Citizens United is somewhat timid while my client Citizens United Not Timid is not timid and therefore so named." Stone said he has no intention of shutting down his group, which largely seems to exist to sell sexist, anti-Clinton t-shirts.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Whatever.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.25.08 | Permalink
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THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

DEMS KEEP FEUDING; GOP MONEY WOES; HUCK SCALES DOWN; REP YOUNG RUNS AGAIN; GORE ON GAY MARRIAGE.
P2008 - DEMS: The Clinton-Obama war of words continued, with yet more mud flying back and forth. In some good news for Clinton, Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) -- who served as DNC Chair under President Clinton -- endorsed Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. John Edwards, meanwhile, is hitting the national TV shows with a message of being the only candidate who remains focused on issues like poverty, health care and the ending the war. Edwards simply has no reason to exit the race -- despite however far out of first place he finishes in South Carolina -- so long as the fighting continues. Moving on to Florida -- a state in which Hillary Clinton is expected to win on January 29 -- the DNC's sanctions against Florida Democrats seem to having no impact on voters. "For Democrats, the number of returned absentee ballots in Florida so far exceeds the total number turned in in the 2004 general election, and the number of Democratic early voters plus the number of absentees requested is more than the number of actual voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada combined," reported Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic.
P2008 - GOP: Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) -- who last weekend ended his Presidential race after lackluster performances -- endorsed Mike Huckabee on Wednesday. Huckabee, meanwhile, has largely withdrawn from the Florida contest due to a lack of financial resources. He canceled all media buys in the state and is curtailing campaign events in Florida. Huckabee already is starting to sound like someone expecting to soon be eliminated. "If the campaign doesn’t make it all the way, we want to walk away completely in the black," said Huckabee to the New York Times. Retired Army General Norm Schwarzkopf endorsed John McCain on Wednesday. McCain, however, is also apparently cash strapped, as he flew to New York on Wednesday for a fundraiser expected to raise roughly a million dollars. McCain has almost no money left for February 5 media buys. By contrast, Mitt Romney has the ability to continue self-funding his campaign in an effort to simply outlast -- at least, financially -- all of his rivals during what now may be a prolonged primary season. US Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) -- a former Fred Thompson backer -- endorsed Romney on Wednesday. New independent Florida polling shows Romney moving into a close second behind McCain, with Rudy Giuliani slipping into third. A third place finish for Giuliani in the Sunshine State would end his campaign.
FLORIDA: Congressman Bill Young (R), 77, ended speculation about his future this week by announcing his intention to seek re-election this year to a 20th term. Dems hope to win the CD-10 swing district seat when it comes open. However, with Young running again, "it now looks unlikely that any politically experienced Democrat will enter the race, making Young yet again the heavy favorite for reelection," reported The Hill.
GORE ON GAY MARRIAGE: Yeah, I know he's not running for President, but ... former Vice President Al Gore (D) weighed in on the gay marriage debate this week with a statement recorded for the Current.com cable TV channel. "I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage. And I don’t understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians. Shouldn’t we be promoting that kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one’s partner regardless of sexual orientation," said Gore.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Any suggestions on how we should use our Politics1 group on Facebook? (Feel free to also add me to your Facebook friends list, too ... but I'm not going to play WereWolves, Vampires, Zombies, Snowball Fight, etc.).

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.24.08 | Permalink
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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

DEM SNIPING CONTINUES; THOMPSON QUITS; GOV BLUNT SHOCKER; FLORIDA'S "SPINE OF JELLO"; ... AND A "TOLD 'YA SO!"
P2008: Tuesday was yet another day filled with verbal attacks lobbed back and forth between the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Obama continues stumping in South Carolina, and on Tuesday won the endorsement of The State, SC's largest newspaper. Senator Clinton, meanwhile, left the Palmetto State to instead campaign in the February 5 primary states -- leaving spouse Bill Clinton as her surrogate in South Carolina. Most pundits believe the strategic move is intended to largely cede the state to Obama and downplay media expectations for Saturday. Meanwhile, John Edwards weighed-in with a near-endorsement on Tuesday from Martin Luther King III. "I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father’s words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud," wrote King. Edwards has made ending poverty in America his top campaign issue.
THOMPSON: Former US Senator and actor Fred Thompson (R) withdrew from the Presidential race on Tuesday, following his third place finish in the South Carolina primary. Thompson's third place finishes in Iowa and South Carolina sounded the death knell of his campaign. Amusingly, Thompson let reporters know he was prepared to withdraw after Iowa and endorse John McCain if he finished worse than third -- but he narrowly squeaked into third there, so was forced to keep going for two more weeks. While Thompson didn't make an immediate endorsement, most expect him to endorse his friend McCain sometime before the Florida primary next Tuesday.
MISSOURI: In a major surprise, Governor Matt Blunt (R) unexpectedly announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election to a second term this year. Recent polls showed him trailing Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) in the gubernatorial race. Blunt was also facing a possible GOP primary from State Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Blunt -- who had already raised several million dollars for his '08 campaign -- said he decided not to run against because he had already "achieved virtually everything I set out to accomplish, and more ... Because I feel we have changed what I wanted to change in the first term, there is not the same sense of mission for a second." Blunt had given no indication, including in last week's State of the State Address, that this move was coming. House Speaker Rod Jetton (R) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that legislators on both sides of the aisle were "shocked ... [and] just speechless" over the news. Possible GOP candidates for Governor now include Steelman, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, Congressman Kenny Hulshof and former US Senator Jim Talent.
FLORIDA: US Senator Mel Martinez (R) -- the recent Republican National Chair -- was all set to endorse John McCain on Tuesday. Then, after Martinez and McCain staffers had coordinated the announcement details, Martinez backed out of his promised endorsement just a day before the planned event. Purportedly, several individuals who had helped Martinez raise funds in his '04 Senate race -- and who are now involved with Rudy Giuliani's campaign -- pressured Martinez into backing-out of his promised endorsement. "Martinez has a spine of jello," one McCain advisor griped to Politics1, after confirming this chronology of events.
STONE'S 527: Told 'ya so! Politics1 reported on December 6 that a rather crudely-humored 527 group named Citizens United Not Timid would soon be formed with the mission statement of educating "the people as to what Hillary Clinton is." In response, all of you cried "B.S.!" Well, it turns out I knew what I was writing about six weeks ago. As is now being widely reported this week, infamous Nixonite dirty trickster and former Lee Atwater business partner Roger Stone now openly acknowledges he put together the group. Frankly, it all appears to be done as a frat boy-style dirty joke by Stone to sell lots of t-shirts with the group's controversial logo ... but the group really exists. FYI: Stone and I are planning to co-author a newspaper political column here in South Florida with our sharply contrasting left/right perspectives (note: Stone, I'm proud to say, jokingly refers to me as "a pinko").
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Hmm ... so Fred Thompson quit the Presidential race. Politics1 wonders how anyone will be able to tell.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.23.08 | Permalink
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TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

DEMS HOLD FEISTY DEBATE; GOOD NEWS FOR SESTAK; DOOLITTLE SEAT UPDATE.
P2008: The Presidential candidates of both major parties toned down the harsh campaign rhetoric on Martin Luther King Day, at least until the sun set. Then the gloves came off for the Dems in their South Carolina debate. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama heatedly attacked each other several times on their respective recent comments and records. Clearly, the two dislike each other and the resentment surfaced at times. The tone turned somewhat more polite during the second portion of the debate, when the candidates were seated next to each other for more informal exchanges. Tonight's winner: Call it a Clinton-Obama tie, although it was one of Obama's strongest debates to date. Recent polling shows Obama holding a solid lead in South Carolina, while Clinton has a massive lead in Florida.
PENNSYLVANIA: Freshman Congressman Joe Sestak (D) got some good news last week when the Delaware County Republicans were only able to recruit a second-tier challenger. Sestak defeated veteran GOP Congressman Curt Weldon (R) in 2006, after Weldon became implicated in a federal corruption scandal during the closing days of the race. The Republicans endorsed Gulf War veteran and Assistant US Attorney Craig Williams -- who resigned his job to run -- to oppose Sestak this year. Williams won the endorsement without opposition, after stressing his opposition to setting any fixed US troop withdrawal timeline for Iraq. "That's defeatist talk ... This war is turning around," Williams told the GOP gathering. Sestak -- a retired Navy Admiral -- had over $1.7 million in the bank as of the end of 2007. Williams has almost no name recognition and few personal resources to finance his campaign, making him a longshot in the contest. Race rating: DEM Favored.
CALIFORNIA: With Congressman John Doolittle (R) now retiring -- a major target of a federal corruption probe -- the CD-4 Republican field is rapidly changing. State Assemblyman Ted Gaines quit the race the day after Doolittle announced his retirement plans, in the wake of news that conservative former State Senator Rico Oller was jumping in. Former Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes exited the race on Friday, saying he had only been running to give GOP voters an alternative to Doolittle. Two previously announced Doolittle primary challengers appear to be staying in the race: Iraq War veteran Eric Egland and Ron Paul campaign activist Theodore Terbolizard. Former CD-3 Congressman Doug Ose, a multimillionare businessman and GOP centrist, is also expected to soon enter the race. Ose was briefly a candidate for US Senate in 2004 before deciding to instead retire from Congress. The winner of the GOP primary will face retired USAF officer Charlie Brown (D), who nearly defeated Doolittle in 2006. Race rating: GOP Favored.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.22.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Politics, football ... your thread for whatever else is on your mind.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.22.08 | Permalink
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SUNDAY/MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ROMNEY, CLINTON WIN IN NEVADA; McCAIN WINS SOUTH CAROLINA; HUNTER QUITS RACE.
SOUTH CAROLINA: John McCain won a crucial victory Saturday in South Carolina, the state that derailed his 2000 White House run. While McCain captured less votes than he did eight years ago, his opposition this time was much more fragmented. The numbers: McCain - 33%, Mike Huckabee - 30%, Fred Thompson - 16%, Mitt Romney - 15%, Ron Paul - 4%, Rudy Giualiani - 2%, Duncan Hunter - 0%. Huckabee needed a win in South Carolina to prove he had significant support to remain one of the "real" frontrunners. Instead, it is McCain and Romney who emerge from the Saturday contests as the two national leaders of the GOP pack. Huckabee holds the third spot nationally, followed by Thompson. If Huckabee was unable to win in South Carolina -- a state with a large number of Religious Right voters -- it raises serious questions about his electability in the upcoming contests. Giuliani, who is focused on Florida, has yet to prove himself as a factor in any of the early contests.
As for Thompson, it is unclear from his election night remarks whether he intends to continue running or exit the race, as the vague hints simply held open the door to either option. Either way, Thompson's future is a win/win for McCain. If Thompson exits, he's already told reporters he will endorse his friend McCain. If Thompson stays, he'll continue to help McCain by attacking Huckabee on his gubernatorial record and siphon away Evangelical conservative votes Huckabee needs. Romney's fourth place finish did not inflict any real damage, as he had stopped campaigning in the state several days ago to focus instead on the Nevada caucuses. The SC Dem primary is January 26.
NEVADA: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's support from the state's Democratic establishment, state teacher's union, women, and Hispanic voters propelled Hillary Clinton to a victory in the popular vote in the Nevada caucuses Saturday. Barack Obama -- although outvoted by a 51% to 45% margin -- also could claim victory, as he won 13 delegates to Clinton's 12. The reason the delegate totals did not match the popular vote is because the caucus popular vote is weighted to ensure each Congressional district receives the same number of convention delegates, and Obama won big in the rural parts of the state, while the two split the urban areas. Still, in both votes and headlines, it is Clinton who is the winner -- and it makes her the first Dem candidate to win two consecutive contests. The big loser of the day was John Edwards, who put considerable resources and time into Nevada, and only a week ago claimed the contest was a virtual three way tie. Edwards captured only 4% of the vote. While Edwards will continue forward, odds of an Edwards victory in any of the remaining contests are very slim. On the GOP side, Mitt Romney scored a big win, although he did not face much organized opposition. Only Romney, Ron Paul and
Duncan Hunter made significant efforts in the state -- a move which paid off for Romney. The numbers: Romney - 51%, Paul - 14%, McCain - 13%, Huckabee and Thompson tied with 8% each, Giuliani - 4%, and Hunter - 2%. The GOP race now moves on the Florida on January 29, while the Dem contest next moves to South Carolina on January 26.
HUNTER: Following a dismal performances in the two contests on Saturday, Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) ended his Presidential run. "I ran the campaign exactly the way I wanted to, and at this point not being able to gain traction in conservative states of Nevada and South Carolina, it's time to allow our volunteers and supporters to focus on the campaigns that remain viable," said Hunter. He had previously announced he would not seek re-election this year to a 15th term in the US House. Hunter's son -- an Iraq War veteran -- is currently a leading candidate to replace Hunter in the House.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Another MLK weekend open thread.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.20.08 | Permalink
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SATURDAY NEWS UPDATE.

SATURDAY IS S.C. GOP PRIMARY & NEVADA CAUCUS DAY.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Once again, final pre-primary polls are causing more confusion than clarity. Reuters/Zogby gives John McCain a 7% lead over Mike Huckabee, with Mitt Romney third and Fred Thompson fourth. SurveyUSA places McCain 4% ahead of Huckabee, with Thompson and Romney tied for third. ARG says Huckabee leads McCain by 7%, with Thompson third and Romney fourth. Zogby claims Romney is "closing in" on the leaders, but ARG says Romney's support in the state is rapidly plunging. As with most recent South Carolina primaries, dirty tricks abound with various anonymous slams -- some outright false -- aimed at McCain, Huckabee and Romney. McCain and Huckabee would both like wins here to boost their chances heading into the Florida primary on January 29. That is probably why Huckabee has gone out of his way for the past two days to repeatedly offer thinly coded support for returning the controversial Confederate battle flag to the top of the State Capitol dome. For Thompson, the state is make-or-break for him -- and right now it doesn't look good. Thompson skipped the NH primary to focus on this state. The SC Dem primary is January 26.
NEVADA: Let's address the Republican contest first, as it is easy to handicap. Only two Republicans made serious campaign efforts in the state: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Paul on Friday issued a statement calling on the Nevada Republican Party to postpone Saturday's caucuses due to "multiple inconsistencies" in the caucus rules. Romney -- who has been stumping in Nevada since Thursday -- will easily win the Nevada GOP Caucuses. The Democratic contest is much more difficult to predict, as all polling data for a first-time caucus in the state -- regardless of pollster -- should be discounted as highly unreliable. The fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is fairly evenly matched, and either could win. The state's Democratic establishment is solidly behind Clinton, while the state's most powerful labor unions are aligned with Obama. John Edwards has also been running strong here, and a Nevada win appears to be critical to his campaign. Bottom line: if Edwards cannot win in Nevada, where he has organized and advertisedextensively, he is unlikely to win anywhere else. Without a win, Edwards' campaign is dead -- no matter how long he continues beyond Saturday. However, Edwards' national convention delegates, even if he places third in all remaining contests, may well become essential to either Obama or Clinton to clinch the nomination.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Enjoy the MLK long weekend.

Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.19.08 | Permalink
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FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Sorry, but I'm taking a night off. I'll be back on Saturday for the Nevada Dem caucuses and South Carolina GOP primary. So, for today, feel free to debate the respective Presidential contests and various claimants to the title of frontrunner.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.18.08 | Permalink
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THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

COBURN BACKS McCAIN; ROVE HANDICAPS DEM FIELD; NORTHUP MAY SEEK REMATCH; EX-GOP CONGRESSMAN INDICTED FOR TERRORISM TIES.
P2008 - GOP: US Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) endorsed John McCain on Wednesday. Also, the Michigan Republican Party accidentally issued a press release Tuesday night congratulating McCain on winning the Michigan primary -- although Mitt Romney defeated McCain there by a 9-point margin. A party spokesman later explained he had prepared versions in advance for both a Romney win and for a McCain win -- but the wrong one was sent to the media.
P2008 -DEM: The Las Vegas Review-Journal -- the more conservative of the two Las Vegas newspapers -- endorsed Barack Obama on Wednesday. CNN reported on former White House Political Director Karl Rove's handicapping of the Dem Presidential race. Speaking about Hillary Clinton capturing 55% of the vote against "Unopposed" in this week's Michigan primary, Rove said: "Think about that. She’s running against ‘Nobody’ and ‘Nobody’ gets 40% of the vote. The other 5% of the vote went to three other people: 27,924 votes went to the guy who believes in UFOs, the guy who dropped-out and the guy who last held public office somewhere around 1855." Rove also took a shot at Obama, noting that Obama has a voting record "more liberal [than Clinton’s] -- and that’s hard to do.”
KENTUCKY: Former State Cabinet Secretary Erwin Roberts (R) -- the NRCC's highly-touted candidate against freshman Congressman John Yarmuth (D) -- placed his campaign "on hold" on Wednesday. Roberts released a statement on his campaign website saying he had just received an Army Reserve notice he was being called to active duty for 12 months. "I took an oath to serve and it is an honor to serve my country in the US Army Reserves. Although there will be sacrifices to make, when called, I will gladly serve ... As with all Reservists who receive notice of a call to active duty, my main focus is on my family and preparing to serve," said Roberts. In his statement, Roberts said his campaign "will be on hold pending further notice regarding [the] call to active duty." With the January 30 filing deadline looming, Congressional Quarterly reports that former Congresswoman Anne Northup (R) may agree to be a last-minute entrant into the race. Northup was defeated by Yarmuth in a 2006 upset, then lost the GOP primary for Governor last year.
SCANDAL: Former Congressman Mark Siljander (R-MI) -- who served in the US House from 1981-87 -- was indicted on federal charges Wednesday as allegedly being part of a terrorist fundraising ring that sent over $130,000 to an al-Qaeda and Taliban supporter who threatened US and international troops in Afghanistan. The indictment claims the Islamic American Relief Agency paid Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying work -- money that was purportedly stolen from the US Agency for International Development. IARA reportedly was a front for infamous Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the US has labeled a "global terrorist." Siljander, an outspoken Religious Right politico, was defeated for renomination in 1986. He last made an attempt to win a congressional seat during a 1992 GOP primary in Virginia. Since then Siljander has worked as a DC lobbyist.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.17.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
Nope, no editorializing from me today. Oh -- and on the topic of single versus multiple threads -- I'm going to test a return of multiple daily threads on-and-off a few more times and see how it goes.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.17.08 | Permalink
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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ROMNEY WINS BIG IN MICHIGAN; HUCKABEE WANTS CONSTITUTION AMENDED TO "GOD'S STANDARDS"; DEMS DEBATE; CONGRESSMAN BAKER RESIGNS.
P2008 - GOP: Voters in Michigan breathed new life into Mitt Romney's campaign on Tuesday, solidly restoring him to the first tier of national frontrunners for the nomination. John McCain made a strong push, hoping the solid support of Independents could help him win the state he won in the 2000. Unfortunately for McCain, significantly less Independents voted in this week than eight years ago. Coupled with that, Romney's mesage of having the business acumen needed to restore our lagging economy resonated well with Republicans. The results: Romney - 39%, McCain - 30%, Mike Huckabee - 16%, Ron Paul - 6%, Fred Thompson - 4%, Rudy Giuliani - 3%. Watch for Romney to largely skip the McCain-Huckabee-Thompson fight in South Carolina to instead focus on battling for a strong finish in Florida on January 29. Recent Florida polling shows a virtual four-way tie in the state between McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee and Romney. In related news, Huckabee made a rather controversial statement Monday evening in Michigan when he said what "we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards, rather than try to change God's standards" A Huckabee spokesman said the candidate may have been using broad terms, but was referring to amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage.
P2008 -DEM: The top three Democratic contenders -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards -- faced off in a very genteel debate Tuesday evening in Nevada. The only combativeness came from excluded candidate Dennis Kucinich, who unsuccessfully sued MSNBC to force his exclusion. Less than an hour before the start of the debate, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against Kucinich. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Clinton defeated -- well -- nobody in the Michigan primary. In the lightly attended contest, she captured 57%, versus nearly all of the remaining votes cast for "Uncommitted." Clinton was the only major candidate on the ballot, as the others all honored an earlier pledge to withdraw their names from the ballot as a protest against Michigan breaking the DNC-set primary schedule.
LOUISIANA: Congressman Richard Baker (R) announced Tuesday that he will resign his seat "no later than February 6" to become the chief lobbyist in DC for the $1.8 trillion hedge fund industry. Baker's resignation will prompt yet another special election. Baker was first elected to Congress in 1986, and had been openly pondering retirement for months
. A special election could be set for as soon as March 8 -- the same day of the special election to fill the US House seat left vacant by the election of Bobby Jindal (R) as Governor. State Representative Don Cazayoux (D) was already an active candidate for the seat prior to Baker's announcement. Others now looking at the special election include Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (R), State Representatives Hunter Greene (R) and Michael Jackson (D) and former Baker chief of staff Paul Sawyer (R). Race rating: GOP Favored.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.08 | Permalink
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FREE SPEECH ZONE.
A brief editorial
: Shame on Congressman Richard Baker for his decision to resign 11 months before the end of his term and trigger a costly special election -- simply because he just cannot wait until the end of this term to start earning a bigger paycheck. Just pathetic. And greedy.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 01.16.08 | Permalink
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