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BLOG ARCHIVE: MARCH 1-15, 2006

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WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CALIFORNIA. Here's the latest on the Congressman Elton Gallegly (R) retirement follies. Despite a report from Roll Call that Gallegly planned to abruptly reverse course again and announce for re-election on Tuesday, that report proved false (at least, so far it has). Instead, Gallegly told reporters he wants to explore seeking legal relief in the courts -- and possibly from the state legislature -- to allow an extension of the now-closed filing period. If those efforts are unsuccessful, Gallegly says he would then reconsider his withdrawal from the race. As it looks unlikely Gallegly could legally prevail based upon current California law, he may in fact be forced to run again -- which raises the likely specter of a subsequent Gallegly resignation in early 2007 and a costly special election. Other options are for Gallegly to make it clear he wants to lose the June 6 primary while simultaneously helping some other Republican running as a write-in candidate. Gallegly appears unlikely to support attorney Michael Tenenbaum, who filed to run against him in the primary. However, Moorpark City Councilman Keith Millhouse, former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Mike Stoker, prosecutor Jeff Gorell and others are already openly talking about launching write-in bids in the primary if Gallegly first gives his blessing for their bids. "Everyone is kind of waiting for Elton to do something," said Gorell.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.15.06 | Permalink |

ANWR. US Senate Democrats -- joined by some environmentalist Republican Senators -- won a victory late last year by blocking the Bush Administration's plan to allow drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The move had a petulant Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) briefly threatening resignation and, later, budgetary revenge against the Republicans who sided with the Dems. On Thursday, the full Senate is expected to vote on a budget resolution that instructs the Energy Committee to authorize drilling in ANWR. This week's floor maneuver is an attempt to use Senate debate rules involving federal budget matters which require only a bare majority for passage to revive the Bush plan.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.15.06 | Permalink |

MISSOURI. Three parties currently qualify for automatic ballot access in Missouri: Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. Unfortunately for Congressional candidate Glenn Miller -- a 65-year-old retired Army sergeant -- none of the three parties will allow him to compete for their nomination this year. The reason: Miller is outspokenly anti-Semitic and has a history of involvement in the white supremacist White Patriot Party. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miller attempted to qualify for the ballot with all three parties and each returned his paperwork and $100 filing fee. "He does not share our core values, so we're not going to let him run on our ticket," said a spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party. "It would be extraordinary for us to turn someone down. But as the party of Lincoln, we can't accept him on the Republican ticket," said the State GOP spokesman. The Libertarians also rejected Miller for not sharing the party's views. "They're making it virtually impossible to get my name on the ballot," complained Miller, who will now have to either collect nearly 6,000 signatures to appear on the ballot as an independent or opt to run as a write-in. Previous federal court cases have established the right of political parties to largely control their respective nominating primaries and conventions.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.15.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Drinking Liberally.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.15.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. "I'm concerned about the approach Democrats are taking, which is too often cowering ... The Administration just has to raise the specter of the War on Terror and Democrats run and hide ... If there's any Democrat out there who can't say ... the President has no right to make up his own laws, I don't know if that Democrat really is the right candidate [for President in 2008]," said US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), commenting on the unwillingness of most of his Senate Dem colleagues to support his resolution of censure for the President's illegal wiretapping program. To date, only Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have indicated they would vote in favor of Feingold's resolution.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.15.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ILLINOIS. With the primary only one week away, a new poll shows Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) cruising to an easy renomination and the nasty GOP primary contest rapidly tightening. The latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Research 2000 poll shows Blagojevich leading former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath by a 61% to 26% margin among likely Dem primary voters. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has been the frontrunner for the GOP nomination since she entered the contest -- and polls regularly show her to be the strongest potential GOP challenger to the incumbent. The survey of likely GOP primary voters places Topinka at 36%, wealthy businessman Jim Oberweis at 25%, philanthropist Ron Gidwitz at 19%, State Senator Bill Brady at 11%, and frequent candidate Andy Martin at 1%. Oberweis and Brady are social conservatives, while Topinka and Gidwitz are centrists. Oberweis has been gaining on Topinka in recent weeks with a steady barrage of harsh attacks launched against the frontrunner -- but all of the Republicans have been bloodying each other in this bitter fight. Eisendrath is also firing shot after shot at Blagojevich, but they don't seem to be gaining traction for him in the primary.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

MASSACHUSETTS. Two new independent polls show the Democrats well-positioned to win the open gubernatorial contest. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Attorney General Tom Reilly (D) leading Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) by a 38% to 27% vote, with wealthy businessman Christy Mihos (Independent) at 19%. If former USDOJ official Deval Patrick is the Dem nominee, Patrick leads with 38%, followed by Healey at 25% and Mihos at 17%. These numbers largely match those from a new Boston Globe/UNH poll showed Reilly at 40%, Healey at 26% and Mihos at 15%. The other trio: Patrick-36%, Healey-29%, Mihos-13%. The Globe poll also showed Reilly leading Patrick for the Democratic nomination by a 35% to 22% vote, with wealthy venture capitalist Chris Gabrielli at 4%. Gabrielli, the '02 Lt Gov nominee, has not yet decided whether or not he'll enter the primary race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA. The comically inept retirement saga of Congressman Elton Gallegly (R) continues to get worse. Gallegly -- who bungled his last minute attempt to retire -- now finds himself forced to seek reelection to an office he no longer desires to hold. It appears little-known Republican attorney Michael Tenenbaum filed at the last minute to run against Gallegly in the primary. As of the close of business on March 13, Tenenbaum was still not listed on the Secretary of State's website as a qualified candidate for the primary ballot -- but news reports indicate he qualified through his local elections office. The news will now force Gallegly to actively campaign for the primary just so he can then subsequently quit in order to have GOP leaders select a replacement nominee. Tenenbaum was not a fan of the incumbent. Gallegly "is wasting taxpayer dollars, doesn’t recognize the importance of securing our borders and he has pursued a legislative agenda that is misguided at best," said Tenenbaum, when he filed his paperwork minutes before Gallegly announced his retirement plans. Those kind of statements make Gallegly unlikely to rally behind Tenenbaum as his replacement. However, other district Republicans have resigned themselves to the likelihood Tenenbaum will win the seat. Ventura County GOP Chair Leslie Cornejo told CQPolitics.com it would "be best for our party and our country" for Gallegly to simply withdraw in favor of Tenenbaum. "I believe today that Mr. Tenenbaum will be our next Congressman," said Cornejo.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA. Former State Senate President John Greene (R) abruptly quit the race for Governor on Monday, and slammed "the far right's dominance of the Republican Party" in his remarks. Greene firstly blamed GOP centrists for not actively working to defeat Governor Janet Napolitano (D), saying that "Republican moderates seem assured that she’s going to win and don’t want to ruffle her feathers." However, Greene then lashed out at social conservatives. "The Republican Party, at least in Arizona, is at an all-time low in terms of reaching out to people and trying to unify the party and recognizing there are Republicans who believe that individual freedom means allowing people to live their lives without government involvement," said Greene. He added he was not endorsing any of the GOP candidates remaining in the race -- and said unless centrists "take back control of the party" soon, he expects party members like himself would abandon the Republican Party and re-register as independents. Greene is the second GOP hopeful to exit the race within the past week. State Representative Ted Carpenter (R) quit the contest last week.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Phil Angelides for California Governor (be sure to check out his amusing other site: ArnoldsNeighborhood.com).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. What ... yet another Feingold plug-of-the-day from Ron? You betcha! "I can't see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can't even see straight," writes columnist Molly Ivins in the new issue of The Progressive.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.14.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

P2008. Retiring US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) placed first with 37% in this weekend's straw ballot at the 2006 Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The event -- held in Memphis -- gave Frist a homefield advantage. On top of that, nearly all the rivals -- plus uncommitted attendees we spoke with -- all agreed Frist stacked the vote with local supporters. Still, Frist won the vote and will tout it as a show of strength. The surprise of the event was the rousing conservative speech and second place finish with 14% in the straw ballot by Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA). Senator John McCain (R-AZ) -- who was accompanied throughout the event by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) and other Southern supporters -- did not even seek votes in the straw ballot. Lott was one of the most vocal critics in describing the balloting as stacked for Frist. To counter the fix, McCain strategically urged delegates to cast write-in votes for President Bush to show support for the Administration. Bush's write-in votes placed him in a tie for third with Senator George Allen (R-VA), as both scored 10% apiece. McCain was fifth with 5%, Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) was sixth with 4%, and the rest trailed behind. Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) complained he was entirely snubbed by event organizers because of his outspoken immigration views. "They can keep Congressman Tancredo off the main stage, but they will not be able to do the same with the issue," said Tancredo's spokesman. "We chose primarily national leaders who are considered to be top Presidential contenders in 2008. Nothing against him, but we had a tight program," responded a spokesman for the host Tennessee Republican Party.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA. Congressman Elton Gallegly (R) gets the award for the "worst choreographed" retirement in years. Gallegly waited until just before the close of candidate filing in California on Friday to release a statement announcing he was quitting his race for re-election due to an undisclosed health concern. The statement came without notice even to Gallegly's own district staff, who learned of it from media calls. Apparently, Gallegly mistakenly believed his public statement would serve to "un-file" his candidacy and allow filing to remain open for one additional week because he was an incumbent unexpectedly withdrawing. It didn't, however, because Gallegly had previously filed the paperwork to run. According to the Secretary of State's office, a candidate cannot legally remove his name from the ballot once he qualified and the filing deadline passed. Former California GOP Executive Director Jon Fleischman speculated on his FlashReport blog that Gallegly's bizarre timing was likely intended to thwart the ambitions of rival Republican Tony Strickland. Strickland, a former State Assemblyman, is running for State Controller. The timing apparently locked Strickland into the statewide race without giving him the opportunity to jump into the newly open CD-24 contest. Gallegly was the only Republican to file in CD-24. What does all of this mean? Most likely, Gallegly will need to remain on the primary ballot so that -- once he officially becomes the nominee after the June 6 primary -- the party will be allowed to select a replacement nominee. Two Dems also filed for the seat, but the district is safely Republican.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA. Congressman Rick Renzi (R) was favored to win re-election this year, but was still facing a competitive challenge from former State Indian Affairs Commissioner and former State Representative Jack Jackson Jr. (D). In a surprise move, Jackson quit the race on Thursday. "I have worked hard over the last 10 months to build a strong and viable campaign in order to face Rick Renzi in November. Unfortunately, the financial requirements of a congressional campaign proved too difficult to meet this time," explained Jackson, in his written statement. While other Dems are running, Jackson's departure essentially gives Renzi an easy race for November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

OUT ... AND OUT? PENNSYLVANIA - National abortion rights activist Kate Michelman ended speculation she'd jump into the Santorum-Casey race for US Senate. "Despite profound and fundamental differences [on the abortion issue], I have decided that Pennsylvania will be better served by electing Bob Casey to the US Senate than giving his opponent another term," wrote Michelman in a newspaper op-ed this weekend. FLORIDA - Days after insisting she had no plans to quit the US Senate race, Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R) released a media advisory on Saturday saying she will "prayerfully prepare with my family, friends and advisors to finalize the strategy for a major announcement next week concerning my candidacy for the US Senate." As for sending mixed signals, Harris went ahead with several events and fundraisers over the weekend. If that notice isn't foreshadowing a withdrawal, then it is just another example of political ineptness.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Dave Heineman for Nebraska Governor -- a really well-done campaign site.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Some brief editorializing here, but let's give -- yet again -- credit to US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) for his new proposal to censure President Bush for the domestic spying matter. The censure is a slap on the wrist, it is far short of any call for impeachment (which wasn't going to go anywhere in Congress these days), it reasserts Congress' meaningful oversight role in these matters, and is the appropriate way to address the spying issue while giving our government an opportunity for quick closure.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.13.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ARKANSAS. With less than a month to go until the close of major party candidate filing, it appears both have managed to clear the field for their leading gubernatorial hopefuls. On Thursday, former Clinton Administrator Social Security Commissioner Bill Halter (D) quit the race for Governor and jumped into the crowded contest for Lieutenant Governor. Attorney General Mike Beebe is now unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Likewise for former Congressman and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson, who faces no opposition for the GOP nod. Former State Representative Jim Lendall (Green) and music shop owner Rod Bryan (Independent) are also running for Governor. Independent polls currently show Beebe leading by several points. Governor Mike Huckabee (R) -- who is preparing for 2008 White House run -- is term-limited.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA. That was quick. Just two days after veteran Congressman Bill Thomas (R) announced his unexpected retirement, it is already clear his hand-picked successor will win the open seat. State Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) -- a former longtime Thomas aide -- today faces no significant opposition for the GOP nomination. State Senator Roy Ashburn (R), a powerful local GOP rival of Thomas who initially told reporters he would challenge McCarthy in the primary, announced a reversal on Thursday. The conservative Ashburn decided to pass on the race. With filing set to close Friday, political unknown David Evans is McCarthy's only announced rival for the Republican nomination. Billy Olson (Green) is also running. The district is solidly Republican, so the GOP nominee will capture the seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

P2008. US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) -- unapologetic opponent of both the Iraq War and the Patriot Act from the inception -- landed a big fish for the 2008 Presidential race on Thursday: Paul Tewes. Who? Tewes is the veteran Iowa political operative who organized the successful Al Gore effort for the 2000 Iowa Caucuses. He also served as Political Director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in the 2004 cycle -- and is now helping Feingold develop a plan to help Democratic candidates in the upcoming 2006 elections. Interestingly, the Washington Post noted Tewes' consulting firm partner is doing a similar chore for potential P2008 rival Tom Daschle (D-SD). (Note: Close relationships don't ensure agreement in primary campaigns. My mom, who was Florida state co-chair of the Dean campaign in 2004 and a member of the infamous BrowardElections Canvas Board during the 2000 Presidential recount, is not on the same page as me on the P2008 race. She's supporting former Virginia Governor Mark Warner for President ... but we'll both support our nominee in November 2008.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

THE SHAME OF YAHOO! Maybe I'm a bit late coming around to this story, but I'm absolutely disgusted with internet giant Yahoo! It seems the company is so concerned with grabbing a share of the huge potential markets in the People's Republic of China that they're willing to help the authoritarian PRC government identify and jail democratic dissidents. Yahoo provided the Chinese government with information that pointed to the identity of Chinese citizens who created and used anonymous Yahoo email accounts and member pages for propagating critical pro-democracy messages. The PRC dictators, in turn, used the Yahoo info to charge individuals with the "crime" of "inciting subversion" and sentence them to lengthy prison terms. I've been meaning to mention this disgraceful story since I read about it last month ... but better late than never. Yahoo: Willing to trade freedom for greed. Shame, shame, shame!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Janet Napolitano for Arizona Governor -- a really well-done campaign site.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Candidate qualifying closes in California on Friday ... and happy birthday to my partner Dana.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.10.06 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FLORIDA. Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R) should try out for a for a spot in a revival of Dreamgirls -- because the famous Jennifer Holliday tune "And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going" could be her new theme song. Republicans are desperately trying to push Harris off the political stage as poll after poll show her losing more ground to US Senator Bill Nelson (D). New stories about Harris receiving over $50,000 in illegal campaign contributions from the same defense contractor who bribed former Congressman Duke Cunningham (R-CA) only increased the pressure. Rumors in Tallahassee swirled this week that Harris was quitting the race and being replaced as the GOP candidate by either Governor Jeb Bush or Congressman Mark Foley. Harris finally made a statement on Wednesday to AP trying to squelch the rumors: "We are running hard. We think we have great momentum ... We've had some negative hits but we've had an overwhelming response from grassroots and leadership around the state that are saying 'Go for it' and that's what we're doing." Foley -- who is sitting on a sizable campaign war chest -- told reporters this week he'd consider the race, but only if Harris first withdraws.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

VERMONT. Third party politics are alive and well in the Green Mountain State. In a surprising upset, State Representative Bob Kiss (Progressive) was elected Mayor of Burlington on Tuesday. Kiss was largely a newcomer to city-level politics. Wealthy State Senator Hinda Miller (D) was heavily favored to win, but lost for the open seat. It was also the first time the city used Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) -- and was the first time any US city used IRV in over 30 years to elect a mayor. When the "first choice" votes were counted, Kiss captured 39%, Miller had 31%, City Councilor Kevin Curley (R) had 26%, and two independents split the remaining votes. As no candidate yet had a majority, the IRV system kicked-in. The last-place candidate in each round was eliminated and his/her "second choice" and "third choice" votes were then added to the running tally of remaining candidates. Kiss steadily moved up until he crossed the majority threshold to win the race. Retiring Mayor Peter Clavelle -- a one-time protégé of Bernie Sanders -- was initially elected as a Progressive but switched to the Dems a few years ago.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. Almost 25,000 Democrats around the state gathered Tuesday night in local caucuses to begin the process of chosing delegates to the state party endorsing nominating convention. In the US Senate race, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar clobbered wealthy philanthropist and peace activist Ford Bell by a vote of 77% to 16%, with 7% uncommitted. Bell has vowed to continue to fight into the primary even if he loses the DFL endorsement at the convention. By contrast, the gubernatorial race was much more competitive. Attorney General Mike Hatch was first with 39%, followed by State Senator and anti-war activist Becky Lourey at 22%, State Senator Steve Kelley at 22%, and wealthy developer Kelly Doran at 6%. Kelley is the only gubernatorial hopeful who promises to quit the race if he doesn't win the endorsement at the convention. Republicans also hold their local caucuses this week, but neither Governor Tim Pawlenty nor US Senate candidate Mark Kennedy face any serious opposition for their respective nominations.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

TEXAS. Noting that 38% of GOP primary voters cast ballots against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's renomination this week, Congressional Quarterly just downgraded his re-election prospects to "No Clear Favorite." Explained CQ: "The primary results suggest that even many hardcore Republicans have wearied of DeLay’s reputation for combative partisanship and the [criminal] probes into his political conduct that last year forced him to surrender his powerful position as House majority leader."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

MASSACHUSETTS. A new WBZ-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows a very interesting race for Governor -- and wealthy independent businessman Christy Mihos is having a definite impact on the race. Attorney General Tom Reilly is the strongest possible Democratic candidate. The numbers: Reilly - 36%, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) - 31%, Mihos - 22%. If former US Justice Department official Deval Patrick is the Dem nominee, he trailes Healey in the three-way race. The numbers: Healey-35%, Patrick-30%, Mihos-20%. The same poll also shows Reilly leading Patrick by a 47% to 37% vote in the primary.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is FairVote.org -- a leading advocacy group in support of Instant Runoff Voting.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.09.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

TEXAS. Voters cast primary ballots in Texas on Tuesday, selecting statewide and congressional nominees in many races and narrowing primary run-off fields in other contests. Turnout was just 13%. In the Democratic primary for Governor, former Congressman Chris Bell rolled to an easy 2-to-1 victory over former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage. Bell will face Governor Rick Perry (R), State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn (Independent) and colorful author/singer Kinky Friedman (Independent) in November. Perry holds a comfortable lead in the race. The CD-28 Democratic Congressional primary featured a bitter rematch between conservative Congressman Henry Cuellar and liberal former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. The progressive netroots crowd poured money in the Rodriguez campaign in an effort to defeat President Bush's proclaimed "favorite" House Democrat. With nearly all votes counted, Cuellar appears to have won by a 53% to 41% vote. In CD-22, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay captured 62% to easily deflect three Republicans who tried to oust him by emphasizing DeLay's pending ethics problems.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA. Major party candidate filing closed on Tuesday with no real surprises. Governor Ed Rendell (D) and retired football star Lynn Swann (R) both went unopposed for their respective gubernatorial nominations. Polls show the Rendell-Swann race is currently a virtual toss-up. In the US Senate race, incumbent Rick Santorum (R) and State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) both face nominal primary opposition. The filing produced only a few contested primaries. One worth watching is the Dem race in CD-8 between Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy and former Republican County Commissioner Andy Warren. The winner will face conservative freshman Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R) in this swing district. CD-4 and CD-6 also have Dem primaries worth monitoring in districts that could become competitive in November. Also, several congressional incumbents currently have no major party opposition -- although state laws allow the parties to file designated nominees later in the year.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

NEW YORK. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) continues to hold a massive lead over any of his potential GOP opponents in the open gubernatorial contest, according to a new NY1/Newsday poll. Spitzer leads former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) by a 57% to 16% vote. Spitzer also trounces former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso (R) by a 56% to 16% vote. In the Democratic primary contest, Spitzer destroys Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi by a lopsided vote of 60% to 9%. On the GOP side, Weld leads the primary field with a paltry 8%, followed by Faso at 6%, and former Secretary of State Randy Daniels and Assemblyman Pat Manning tied with 3% apiece. Manning quit the race a few days ago. Race Rating: Safe Dem.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA. US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) is cruising to a landslide reelection victory over retired State Senator Dick Mountjoy (R). The latest independent Field Poll shows Feinstein leading Mountjoy by a vote of 56% to 28%, with 1% supporting "others."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Bernie Sanders for US Senate (I-VT).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. I started on French philosopher/celebrity (an oxymoron in the US) Bernard-Henri Levy's American Vertigo over the weekend and am really enjoying it. Levy was invited by The Atlantic Monthly to recreate de Tocqueville's Democracy in America journey of 173 years ago through the American experience. And -- for you conservatives -- the book is not the mono-dimensional and knee-jerk anti-American screed you're expecting. Levy's essays evolved into this fascinating and thought-provoking book about understanding the promise, hopes and problems of the US from a friendly outsider's perspective.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.08.06 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CALIFORNIA. Congressman Bill Thomas (R) -- term-limited Chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee -- announced Monday he will not seek reelection this year to a 15th term. Surveys of Beltway insiders regularly rate Thomas as one of the most brilliant, hard-working and meanest Members of Congress. Thomas was also seen as the key endorsement that swung the close House Majority Leader contest in favor of John Boehner (R-OH) last month -- meaning that Thomas could likely have had a new chairmanship of another committee if he wanted one. Candidate filing closes in California on Friday and the late announcement was clearly intended to benefit Thomas' hand-picked heir: State Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R). McCarthy, a former longtime Thomas congressional staffer, immediately entered the race. State Senator Roy Ashburn, the GOP nominee for Congress in 2004 in a nearby district and a Thomas rival in local politics, also jumped into the GOP contest. The CD-22 district, centered around the Bakersfield area, is solidly GOP. Look for Thomas to actively support McCarthy, making him the favorite in this open seat race. In somewhat related news, it looks increasingly likely that term-limited House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) will also announce his retirement later this month.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.07.06 | Permalink |

TENNESSEE. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows the Republicans are pushing further ahead of Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D) in the open US Senate seat race. Former Congressman Ed Bryant (R) leads Ford by a 45% to 36% vote. Former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) runs ahead of Ford by a much closer vote of 39% to 35%. Former Congressman Van Hilleary (R) leads Ford by a 43% to 35% vote. As this appears to be a trend, I'm close to moving this one from "Leans GOP" to the "GOP Favored" category.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.07.06 | Permalink |

MAINE. Governor John Baldacci (D) is under fire from both the left and right, and it is taking a toll on his reelection odds. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows the incumbent trailing two of his GOP opponents, and only narrowly leading a third. Former Congressman Dave Emery (R) leads Baldacci by a 39% to 37% vote. State Senator Peter Mills (R) holds a 39% to 38% advantage over Baldacci. By contrast, Baldacci leads State Senator Chandler Woodcock (R) by a 40% to 35% vote. Here's why Baldacci is in trouble: 39% favorable rating versus a 50% unfavorable rating. The poll did not test scenarios which include any of the 11 third party and independent candidates already in the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.07.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Paul Hodes for Congress (D-NH).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.07.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Okay, I know, I know ... I screwed up the comment threads yesterday, as they were all identical.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.07.06 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

MASSACHUSETTS. Now that former runningmate Governor Mitt Romney (R) is retiring and a wealthy potential primary foe announced he will instead run as an Independent, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) is rapidly trying to regain her image as a centrist Republican. Romney, in the past two years, repositioned himself as solidly pro-life and anti-gay rights as he prepares to make a 2008 Presidential run. As for Healey, she told the Boston Herald last week she is "extremely pro-choice" and would have vetoed the new South Dakota abortion bad legislation if it came to her desk. This weekend, Healey told the Boston Globe she likewise disagrees with Romney's views on gay adoption -- saying she does not believe Catholic adoption agencies in the state should have the right to block the placement of children with prospective gay parents. Polls currently show Healey trailing the leading Dem candidates for Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.06.06 | Permalink |

TEXAS. Voters go to the polls in Texas to cast primary ballots on Tuesday. There appear to be only three races truly worth watching. The top race of the day is the CD-28 Democratic Congressional primary rematch between conservative Congressman Henry Cuellar and liberal former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. Cuellar narrowly defeated Rodriguez in 2004 after a lengthy recount and court intervention. Cuellar is viewed as President Bush's "favorite Democrat" in the House and, thus, is a top target for many Dem activists. Cuellar is also the first Dem endorsed by the fiscal conservative Club for Growth, a GOP-aligned group. A third candidate in the Cuellar-Rodriguez primary could force a run-off. Another hot race features controversial former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's GOP primary contest in CD-22. DeLay shouldn't have any problem cruising to an easy renomination -- but, if he's unexpectedly forced into a run-off, it will be a sign of serious weakness in November even among the GOP base. DeLay has three Republican challengers, with former NOAA General Counsel Tom Campbell -- a member of the Bush-41 Administration -- as his most credible primary opponent. The winner of the GOP primary will face former Congressman Nick Lampson (D) in the general election. The Democratic primary for Governor is also hotly contested, with former Congressman Chris Bell facing former Congressman and former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage. To view all of Tuesday's contests, click here.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.06.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA. A new Allentown Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll shows Governor Ed Rendell (D) remains locked in a very competitive struggle to win re-election this year. The poll has Rendell at 46% and retired pro-football star Lynn Swann (R) at 43%. The same poll also showed State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) trouncing US Senator Rick Santorum (R) by a 49% to 37%. Both polls included totals for both solid supporters and "leaners."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.06.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.06.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. The Oscars ... politics ... whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.06.06 | Permalink |

WEEKEND NEWS UPDATE.

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Have at it.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.04.06 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

MISSISSIPPI. Filing closed this week in Mississippi for the state's June 6 primary. US Senator Trent Lott (R) will coast to an easy victory over whichever minor challenger wins the Democratic primary. State Representative Erik Fleming (D) is the highest profile of the group, but his past ties to radical political cult leader Lyndon LaRouche severely damage Fleming's credibility. The hottest race in the state -- and the only one worth watching -- is the Democratic primary in CD-2. Congressman Bennie Thompson faces an aggressive Dem primary challenge from State Representative Chuck Espy. Espy is the nephew of former Congressman and former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, who previously represented this district. Espy says Thompson "has constantly given us speeches without substance which only excite the emotions ... [but] has never given us a plan to move the district forward." Thompson, however, holds a major advantage in campaign cash. Thompson had $529,000 cash-on-hand as of the most recent FEC filing period, versus just $58,000 in the bank for Espy. Current Rating: Thompson Favored. Tchula Mayor Yvonne Brown is the GOP candidate against Thompson, but the district is so heavily Democratic that the winner of the Thompson-Espy contest is safe in November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

NEBRASKA. Filing also closed in Nebraska this week. Unlike Mississippi, there are several hot races here. The GOP gubernatorial primary between Governor Dave Heineman, Congressman Tom Osborne, and businessman Dave Nabity is generating the most sparks. The contest between Heineman and Osborne is expected to be very close. Heineman started as an underdog against legendary former college football coach Osborne, but a weak effort from Osborne and an aggressive campaign by Heineman closed the gap. US Senator Ben Nelson (D) is favored in his reelection race, but still will face spirited opposition in his reliably red state. The three Republican hopefuls are former Attorney General Don Stenberg, former State GOP Chair David Kramer, and wealthy former Ameritrade COO Pete Ricketts. The CD-3 open seat contest is also worth watching, as the winner of the GOP primary will take this safe seat in November. State Senator Adrian Smith, former Osborne aide John Hanson and Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek appear to be the early leaders.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

MASSACHUSETTS. Not that Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) wasn't already in an uphill fight to succeed retiring Governor Mitt Romney (R) in November, but her odds got a bit worse this week. Multimillionaire businessman and former Romney Administration State Turnpike Authority Board Member Christy Mihos announced he was leaving the GOP and would instead enter the gubernatorial contest as an Independent. "Republicans basically just have become like the Democrats -- just beholden to special interests," said Mihos. As for issues, Mihos is pro-choice, pro-gay rights and pro-tax cuts. Within a day, five top Mihos staffers quit. One the departing staffers told the Boston Herald the move was due to the fact that Mihos "wasn't willing to be managed" -- and not because of bolting from the GOP. On the Democratic side, Attorney General Tom Reilly and former US Justice Department official Deval Patrick are running. Wealthy venture capitalist Chris Gabrieli is also making calls about entering the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

PENNSYLVANIA. Prominent national pro-choice activist Kate Michelman confirmed this week she is "considering" entering the race against US Senator Rick Santorum (R) and challenger Bob Casey Jr. (D). Michelman's objection: both men are steadfastly pro-life. Michelman, past president of large NARAL Pro-Choice America group, said feminist activists have been encouraging her to run. "It is more about them wanting to express great frustration," conceded Michelman to the AP. "Democrats are stronger when we work together on the many issues where we have common ground," said Casey's spokesperson. Whether or not Michelman runs -- and I predict she won't -- the race will also feature candidates from the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

ARIZONA. US Senator Jon Kyl (R) holds a wide lead in his race for re-election, according to the latest KPNX-TV/SurveyUSA poll. Kyl leads wealthy developer and former State Democratic Chair Jim Peterson by a vote of 57% to 33%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

CONGRESS. A new George Washington University Battleground poll -- a bipartisan survey conducted jointly by Dem pollster Celinda Lake and GOP pollster Ed Goeas -- showed Democrats leading Republicans in a generic Congressional ballot by a 46% to 41% margin among likely voters. The Democratic advantage increased to 9-points when respondents were asked which party "would do a better job solving the nation's problems." Explained Lake: "Voters are poised to affect sweeping change ... Independent and undecided voters are noticeably negative in their assessments of Bush and the direction of the country." Said Goeas: "The bottom line is that the mood of the electorate is not an anti-incumbent mood, an anti-Democratic or anti-Republican mood, but an anti-Washington mood."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

LIBERTARIAN PARTY. Anti-tax activist and bestselling author Harry Browne -- the only person to ever twice win the Libertarian Party's Presidential nomination -- died on Wednesday at age 72. Browne was the party's nominee in 1996 and 2000. He secured ballot access in all 50 states in his first run, capturing 485,000 votes and finishing fifth. Browne placed fifth again in 2000 with 386,000 votes. His allies strongly held control of the party during this period, so strongly in fact that it caused a rift by sharply splitting party activists into rival pro-Browne and anti-Browne (or "Reform") factions.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is Jerry Brown for California Attorney General.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Blogads is conducting its third annual survey of political blog readers. The survey takes about five minutes to complete, buy helps provide a fascinating snapshot of visitors to this and other political sites. Click here to participate in the blogger survey (and please be sure to name Politics1 as the referring site for Question #23). Thanks!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.03.06 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FREE SPEECH ZONE. Another really busy day at work -- the deadline to timely file in Florida for a homestead exemption -- so we have another open thread. We did have a little excitement today at work when retired basketball great Scottie Pippen came in to file for an exemption on his Broward County home. Real updates tomorrow ... I promise! (PS - A computer glitch caused me to permanently lose about 50 emails sent to me on Wednesday, so please re-send if this includes one from you.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.02.06 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

NORTH CAROLINA. Candidate filing closed in North Carolina on Tuesday, leaving one Congressional incumbent with no major party opposition and several others with only nominal opponents. The only two races meriting any real attention are the Democratic challenges in CD-8 and CD-11. In CD-8, Congressman Robin Hayes (R) will likely face Iraq War veteran Tim Dunn (D), once Dunn dispatches his two minor primary foes. Race rating: GOP Favored. In CD-11, ethics-challenged incumbent Charles Taylor (R) is once again in the crosshairs. Former pro-football quarterback and businessman Heath Shuler -- a former NRCC recruitment target for another House seat -- is a conservative Democrat with solid name-ID in the district. Shuler seems less vulnerable to the "liberal" attacks as some of Taylor's former opponents. Race rating: Leans GOP. Click here to view the list of all the filed Congressional candidates. In related news, filings also closed Monday for the CD-50 special election. Nineteen candidates qualified to run, including former Congressman Brian Bilbray (R), former State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian (R), State Senator Bill Morrow (R), retired pro-football player Scott Turner (R) and college professor Francine Busby (D).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

CALIFORNIA. Candidate filing also closed this week for the CD-50 special election. Nineteen candidates qualified to run, including former Congressman Brian Bilbray (R), former State Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian (R), State Senator Bill Morrow (R), retired pro-football player Scott Turner (R) and college professor Francine Busby (D). The seat was formally held by Congressman Randy Cunningham (R), who resigned in a corruption scandal and was subsequently sentenced to federal prison. The primary is April 11.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

COLORADO. Democrats succeeded in clearing the gubernatorial nomination field for former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter (R). State Representative Gary Lindstrom (D), Ritter's last remaining primary opponent, quit the contest on Tuesday. Lindstrom declined to immediately endorse Ritter, but instead attacked the two GOP candidates as "out of touch with the issues."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

MINNESOTA. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Congressman Mark Kennedy (R) continuing to narrowly trail either of the leading Democrats in the open US Senate race. Kennedy trails Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (D) by a vote of 42% to 40%. Kennedy also trails wealthy veterinarian and philanthropist Ford Bell (D) by a 45% to 42% vote. The NRSC touts Kennedy as the GOP's best chance of scoring a pick-up of a Democratic-held seat in 2006. US Senator Mark Dayton (D) is retiring.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

SITE OF THE DAY. Our Politics1 Site of the Day winner is ScooterLibby.com (yes, he has an official website).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

FREE SPEECH ZONE. I think Tuesday set a personal record for the most typos, redundancies and errors in a single day's postings. Yup, that's what I get for writing when I'm way too exhausted. This Monday and Tuesday are traditionally two of the busiest days in the entire year for our office (the equivalent of April 15 for IRS employees), so today's again postings is also short (but, hopefully, less error-prone).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 03.01.06 | Permalink |

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