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MASSACHUSETTS. Count one Republican out and another long-shot one in the '06 race for Governor -- even though Governor Mitt Romney (R) still hasn't announced whether or not he will seek a second term next year. Signs are increasingly pointing to Romney not running for re-election in order to focus on his likely 2008 Presidential campaign. Wealthy health care executive Charlie Baker -- a former top official in Governor Bill Weld's administration in the 1990s -- announced Monday he will not run for Governor next year. The news was a surprise, as Baker had openly positioning himself to run if Romney announces his retirement. Baker's move leaves Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey -- Romney's designated successor if he doesn't run again -- as the only major GOP contender. She's already been raising money for the anticipated race. One Republican, however, got tired of waiting for Romney to make a decision. Norwood Selectman Gary Lee (R) announced he was a candidate for Governor, regardless of anything Romney decides to do. Lee, who has served in the elected town position for nearly two decades, said that "no man or woman has a right to hand pick his or her successor or use elective office to serve his or her political ambition." As for his views, this self-proclaimed Reagan Republican criticized the federal Patriot Act and vowed "we need to put God back into our State, back into our Country and back into our schools and the public domain if we in Massachusetts want to lead this nation forward." Independent polls show Attorney General Tom Reilly (D) leading any likely GOP nominee in general election match-ups.

HURRICANE KATRINA: Help the American Red Cross respond to the terrible devastation left in the wake of this deadly storm. Click here to make a donation today ... or call them at 1.800.HELP.NOW (800.435.7669). Here are some more ways you can help.

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

Vote Dry - OhioTHIRD PARTY NEWS. There is a certain amusing synergy to America's oldest continuous third party running America's oldest candidate in 2006. Founded in 1869, the party reached the peak of support in 1892 when Prohibition Presidential nominee John Bidwell captured over 2% of the national vote. The party has been in a slide ever since. Retired business consultant John Heckman has been a frequent candidate for various offices under numerous Independent and third party labels over the past thirty years. Next year, at age 98, the Prohibition Party announced Heckman will be its nominee for Congress in the open Colorado CD-7 race. The party's newsletter boasts Heckman will "very likely [be] the oldest person running for any office in the United States next year, as well as the oldest person ever to run for Congress."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.31.05 | Permalink |


KENTUCKY. In a surprising move, embattled Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) on Monday night called a press conference to announce he was issuing blanket criminal pardons to nine of his aides. Several have been indicted on charges of political corruption related to the state's hiring system. While Fletcher called it "amnesty" before the cheering partisan crowd of staffers, the state provision he cited clearly says he was granting pardons to anyone who "might have violated" or was involved in violating the state's Merit Hiring System laws. In fact, the only person he didn't -- yet -- pardon was himself. Despite more than a dozen grand jury indictments to date, Fletcher dismissed the charges as insignificant. Fletcher also said he would appear before the grand jury on Tuesday, but would refuse to answer any questions -- presumably through an invocation of the fifth amendment. The investigation centers around allegations that Fletcher and his aides sought to illegally purge the state's civil service system of Democrats simply because they were Democrats.

MISSOURI: State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) will announce Tuesday her candidacy next year against US Senator Jim Talent (R). McCaskill defeated incumbent Governor Bob Holden in the '04 Dem primary before narrowly losing the general election. After an extensive recruitment effort by the DSCC, McCaskill decided to make the race. Her announcement will move this hot race into the "Leans GOP" column. The DSCC has reportedly vowed to raise a significant sum of money for McCaskill's challenger campaign.

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

P2008: The pro-stem cell research folks ran spots in NH targeted at US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and -- within days -- Frist reversed his opposition to expanded stem cell research. Now the conservative Club for Growth PAC is running a spot in NH attacking US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for not supporting total repeal of the estate tax. The estate tax -- particularly targeted at the largest inheritances to avoid massive accumulations of unearned wealth -- is stylishly re-packaged targeted these days as the "death tax." Will McCain respond ... or cave? Stay tuned.

PENNSYLVANIA: In recent weeks the Libertarians have seen several of their '06 candidates bolt to the GOP for their next runs. Now the same is happening to the Constitution Party. Retired Pennsylvania Manufacturing Association President Jim Panyard was one of the CP's most touted candidates for 2006. On Monday, however, Panyard said he would instead run as a Republican in the primary against former Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton, former pro football player Lynn Swann, and State Senator Jeff Piccola. "This is a war for the future of the Republican Party ... the biggest change we need is in the Governor's office, and the best way to do that is run as a Republican," he explained. In other PA news, the Dems lost a major congressional candidate in CD-18. Former Stare Treasurer Barbara Hafer -- a former Republican -- ended her nascent candidacy against Congressman Tim Murphy (R), citing health problems related to her husband. This news moves Murphy off the "toss-up" list and now places him in the "GOP favored" category.

IRAQ: As lots of folks are spinning what the "new Iraq" will be like and whether or not it will become an Islamic Republic, I'd simply suggest you check out the language of the draft Iraqi constitution. Here is a direct quote from Article Two: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation. No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." What does that mean for the rights and lives of women? Of gay people (who are being regularly executed in neighboring Iran)? Of practioners of Christianity and other religions?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.30.05 | Permalink |


OKLAHOMA. In the aftermath of all the the frequently mentioned "first tier" GOP candidates for Governor taking a pass on the race, an unexpected name is emerging: Congressman Ernest Istook (R). At a town hall meeting this weekend, Istook was asked if he would consider opposing Governor Brad Henry (D) next year. In response, Istook said: "I've had a lot of people ask me to consider it, and I'm listening to them." Istook said he disagreed with Henry's support for a state lottery -- which was approved by 60% of the state's voters. "You're not going to improve the state by taking more money out of it ... You can't gamble your way to prosperity," he added. State House Speaker Todd Hiett (R) -- who already has $500,000 in his re-election campaign account -- also told reporters he is now "seriously considering" the race for Governor. Few believe either of the two announced GOP candidates have any realistic shot of defeating Henry.

MICHIGAN: Republicans continue to unite begind the candidacy of billionaire conservative businessman Dick DeVos in next year's contest against Governor Jennifer Granholm (D). On Saturday, State Representative Jack Hoogendyk -- the first GOP candidate to enter the race seven months ago -- withdrew and endorsed DeVos. "He has a track record of leadership in business and a history of leadership in working to improve education in our state. Furthermore, he is an example of leadership by the way he lives his life and I have great respect for him," said Hoogendyk. State Senator Nancy Cassis is now DeVos' only remaining primary challenger.

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

NEW YORK: A new Rasmussen Reports poll gives some perspective on the races next year for Governor and US Senate -- and implies the Dems are on their way to landslide wins in both races. In the open seat contest to replace retiring Governor George Pataki (R), Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) leads former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) by a 55% to 20% vote. US Senator Hillary Clinton (D), meanwhile, leads challenger Jeanine Pirro (R) by a vote of 57% to 33%.

P2008: We've added the profile page for Secretary of State Condi Rice (R-CA) -- who says she isn't running but has a bunch of "Draft Condi" sites out there all touting her as a potential candidate. In other 2008 news, US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) brought his anti-Iraq War message to California. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) is visiting New Hampshire. Finally, the buzz in Mississippi is that Governor Haley Barbour (R) -- a former Republican National Chair and high-powered DC lobbyist -- is starting to lay the groundwork for a Presidential exploratory effort.

HURRICANE KATRINA - PART 3: With Katrina now a deadly Category Five storm and rapidly approaching the Gulf Coast in the vicinity of New Orleans, all I can suggest is that everyone keep the residents of that region in your thoughts and prayers today. They're going to need it.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.29.05 | Permalink |


HURRICANE KATRINA - PART 2. After two days without electricity, I'm back online (and with air conditioning again -- how did people ever live in Florida before a/c). Other than the voltage stuff, Hurricane Katrina knocked down a few of our trees, took off the top third of our giant avocado tree, and amazingly snapped off our steel/concrete base basketball hoop pole right at ground level. I've also become adept with a machete and other cutting tools for dealing with downed trees and vegetation. Beyond, that all is well with me -- so I guess I'm lucky. Lots of long lines still at gas stations, no milk or other dairy products back in stores yet, most traffic lights still are black, etc., but South Florida is recovering. In our complacency, most of South Florida never knew a Category One storm -- albeit a direct hit -- could be surprisingly so damaging and fatal. I expect I'll be back with a new news posting for Monday.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.27.05 | Permalink |


HURRICANE KATRINA - PART 1. Hurricane Katrina is barely a Category One storm -- not even strong enough to merit hammering up the shutters -- but enough to generate good waves so I spent the afternoon bodyboarding. Now (4 pm - Thursday), however, our electricity here in Fort Lauderdale has been flickering on and off for a little while and I expect we'll likely lose power soon. Thus, no time to write much of an update for Friday. Fortunately, our website server is hundreds of miles north of here and will not be impacted by Katrina. Treat this as an open thread -- talk amongst yourselves -- until I'm able to post something again. (PS - Check out our Jobs page ... lots of new listsings.)
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.26.05 | Permalink |


ONE NO ... AND TWO MAYBES. US Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) -- just elected to the Senate last year -- this week finally and definitively closed the door of running for Governor next year. "I have no intention to run for Governor.. There are other candidates out there who can do a great job as governor of Colorado," said Salazar to the Rocky Mountain News. Meanwhile, the rumor buzz is growing that former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar (R) will soon jump into the race next year against incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) ... and that Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is now leaning towards challenging US Senator Robert C. Byrd (D) next year. No official work yet from Edgar or Capito.

P2008: Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) will appear this week on Bill Maher's HBO show and make a swing through New Hampshire. US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) is now positively touting the virtues of Ethanol -- a costly fuel made in part from corn that is near and dear to Iowa farmers. Speculation is also growing that US Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) -- a Vietnam veteran and sharp critic of the Iraq War -- is actually starting to position himself as a possible Independent candidate for President in 2008. A "Draft Condi Rice for President" group -- Team Condi -- is starting to organize in Iowa. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) has raised a good amount of money for his '06 re-election campaign from out-of-state donors. However, Sanford said that if those donors are giving to him because they think he'll run for President, then he considers those donors to be "idiots."

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

NEW JERSEY: Congressman Rob Andrews (D) acknowledged this week he plans to run for US Senate next year if incumbent Jon Corzine (D) is elected Governor this year. "When our good friend, Jon Corzine, is elected as the next governor of our great state, I intend to run for his open US Senate seat," wrote Andrews. Congressman Frank Pallone (D) and State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R) previously said they will run for Corzine's seat next year -- and Congressman Robert Menendez (D), Bill Pascrell (D) and Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio (R) have also expressed an interest in the seat.

NEW YORK: Retiring Governor George Pataki (R) praised former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) as an "outstanding candidate" to succeed him. However, Pataki also appears to be encouraging Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue (R) to jump into the race -- as he told the AP Donohue would be "an excellent candidate." NY Secretary of State Randy Daniels (R) also told reporters this week he is moving towards formally entering the race. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer - who leads all possible GOP rivals in the polls -- remains unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

OREGON: A new independent poll conducted for the Portland Oregonian shows incumbent Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) is well-positioned to win re-election next year. Kulongoski leads former State GOP Chair Kevin Mannix by 15%, and leads former Portland School Board Member Ron Saxton (R) by 23%. However, if Kulongoski loses his primary next year to progressive State Senator Vicki Walker (D), the poll shows Walker could defeat Saxton but would tied against Mannix. Other likely candidates for Governor next year include progressive Lane County Commissioiner Pete Sorenson (D), State Senators Jason Atkinson (R) and Ben Westlund (R), and former state party chair Tom Cox (Liberatarian).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.25.05 | Permalink |


FLORIDA: A new Strategic Vision poll of Florida voters gives a good snapshot of the upcoming races for Governor and US Senator. In the open gubernatorial race, Attorney General Charlie Crist leads State CFO Tom Gallagher in the GOP primary by a vote of 47% to 35%. On the Dem side, the race is still wide open. The numbers: Congressman Jim Davis - 27%, State Senator Rod Smith - 13%, and former State Democratic Chair Scott Maddox - 10%. A majority of Dem primary voters -- 55% -- said they would prefer it if "another candidate" would enter the race. In general election match-ups, Crist and Gallagher each led Davis by margins in the 13-14% range -- and led Smith and Maddox by margins of greater than 20%. In the US Senate race, the results were more interesting -- and showed why the White House is working the scuttle the ambitions of Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R). In GOP primary contests, Harris held a landslide lead of 35+ points over any possible primary foe (including retired Army General Tommy Franks). However, in potential general election contests, the polarizing Harris performed worse against incumbent US Senator Bill Nelson (D) than any of the possible GOP hopefuls. Nelson led Harris by 9%; led Congressman Mark Foley by 6%, led Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings by 4%; and led Franks by just one point. Classify this one as "Leans Dem" if Harris is the nominee, but move it to "Toss-Up" against virtually any other GOP nominee.

CALIFORNIA: A whopping 17 candidates met the Tuesday deadline to file for the CD-48 special election to fill the seat left vacant by former Congressman Chris Cox (R), who resigned three weeks ago to become Securities & Exchange Commission Chair. Those filing included 10 Republicans, 4 Democrats and one candidate apiece from the American Independent, Green and Libertarian parties. At least three potential candidates may be disqualified for purported problems with their candidacy petitions. State Senator John Campbell (R) and former State Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R) are the two frontrunners for the heavily-Republican seat. Campbell is backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and nine GOP members of California's Congressional delegation. Brewer -- who is pro-choice and pro-stem cell research -- has the endorsement of Senator John McCain. Campbell and Brewer have also each collected over $500,000 apiece to date. Jim Gilchrest (AIP), founder of the Minuteman Project civilian border patrol vigilante group, is also expected to draw a significant number of anti-immigration protest votes. And, despite making lots of noise about running, bombastic former Congressman Bob Dornan (R) did not file for the seat. The primary is October 4. If no candidate among the 17 in the jungle ballot primary garners a majority of the vote, the top vote-getters from each party will advance to a December 6 run-off. Visit our California page to view the complete list of candidates.

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

OKLAHOMA: Former Congressman J.C. Watts (R) announced Tuesday he will not challenge Governor Brad Henry (D) next year. "I have determined that the timing for such an adventure is not right ... I cannot in good conscience conclude that 2006 is right for me and for the family that I love so much," explained Watts. With both Watts and Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin out of the gubernatorial race, the GOP is left with only a few little-known, second-tier candidates announced against Henry.

LOUISIANA: New Orleans Dems are definitely smelling the blood of Congressman Bill Jefferson (D) in the water. FBI agents raided Jefferson's homes and offices, seizing cash hidden in his freezer. In less than two weeks since then, lots of Dems are floating their names as possible Jefferson replacements if he goes down in the scandal. Among them: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, State Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere, Parrish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, and a half dozen state legislators. Since Jefferson is currently down but not out, they're all being careful about how their describe their ambitions. "He's been a good Congressman and a good friend to me personally. But if the seat came open for whatever reason, I'd definitely take a look at it," said one State Senator.

2004 ELECTIONS - THE END (FINALLY): The 2004 elections finally drew to a close Tuesday as the final, unresolved race was decided. A nearly tied outcome, plus disputed ballots from one county, plus lengthy legal actions threw the race for North Carolina Superintendent of Education into the state legislature. In a rare joint session, the NC Legislature by a 93-21 vote (with 26 abstentions) elected June Atkinson (D) as the new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Atkinson was sworn in shortly after the vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.24.05 | Permalink |


VIRGINIA: Polls show US Senator George Allen (R) could possibly be vulnerable next year -- but only against the right Democratic opponent. Term-limited Governor Mark Warner (D) -- immensely popular -- was leading Allen by a few points in a recent poll. However, Warner has already indicated he won't be a candidate for Senate next year as he is instead focused on a possible '08 White House run. Then it looked like wealthy car dealer and former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer (D) would run, but he took a pass. The most recent speculation centered on former Congressman L.F. Payne (D), a multimillionaire resort developer, but he now tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the Senate race "is not something I'm looking at or prepared for." Democrats now seem to be focusing on former Reagan Administration Navy Secretary James Webb, a vocal critic of the Iraq War.

P2008 - REPUBLICANS: Former four-term Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (R) launched a trial balloon this weekend about possibly entering the 2008 White House contest. Thompson, who served as President Bush's Secretary of Health & Human Services in 2001-05, was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for US Senate next year. This news seems to end that Senate speculation. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Thompson unexpectedly volunteered he was thinking about running for President and making the focus of his campaign on the need to improve health care in the US. "I can't think of anybody else as vocal on this issue as I have been," he explained. Thompson flirted for about a year with entering the 2000 White House primary race, but ended his exploration when he endorsed George W. Bush in mid-1999. I've met the guy, heard him speak, and -- trust me on this -- he won't be setting any crowds on fire. And what's with the radio frequency microchip Thompson recently had implanted into his arm? In other P2008 news, US Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) last week described his recent trips to Iowa as "warm-up laps" and vows to make a public announcement of his decision on the Presidential race very soon. Translation: he's running.

A BLATANT PITCH FOR ADS: Politics1 records over 160,000 page views weekly. Have your Blogad seen by all those political eyes for just $85 for one week. Click here for to learn more about our Blogads opportunities. Here's another special offer (but you gotta order this one directly through us) ... Campaigns and candidates: Place your ads on the one state page you want to target for only $50 per month. Email us for more info. (And, despite my personal politics, I'm a good businessman and believer in freedom of speech ... so I'll sell the space to just about anyone who wants to pay for it.)

P2008 - DEMOCRATS: Message to US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) from the people who known him the longest: Stay out of the 2008 Presidential race. According to a new UNH Poll of Massachusetts voters, US Senator Hillary Clinton would easily defeat Kerry in his own home state's Prez primary. The numbers: Clinton-31%, Kerry-21%, John Edwards-14%, Joe Biden-11%, and so on. If you cannot even rally support with your base, where are you gonna get do it? In related news, the same poll showed Attorney General Tom Reilly holding a wide lead in the Dem primary for Governor -- and leading Governor Mitt Romney (R) in a head-to-head match-up by a 51%-38% vote.

NEW JERSEY: The NJ Right to Life group announced they would not endorse any candidate for Governor this year, as both major party candidates are pro-choice. According to National Journal's Hotline, no pro-life candidate has won a statewide election in NJ in over three decades.

LATIN AMERICAN POLICY: Televangelist, Christian Coalition founder and '88 Presidential candidate Pat Robertson is advocating the US kill foreign heads of state. Speaking Monday on his 700 Club show, here is what Robertson said about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if [Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen ... We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." Chavez, a leftist strongman, tweaked the US this week with a visit to his Cuban ally Fidel Castro. Maybe Robertson should go back and again check out one of those Ten Commandments monuments he's pushing for public places, as I don't remember the "Thou shalt not kill (except for commies)" commandment.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.23.05 | Permalink |


FLORIDA: The Sunshine State isn't going to become Scarborough Country -- at least not in 2006. So, it's back to the drawing board for Republican leaders still trying to find a GOP primary opponent against Congresswoman Katherine Harris in next year's US Senate race. TV talk show host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough said this weekend he was not interested in returning to elective politics and would instead sign a multi-year deal to stay on MSNBC. According to Scarborough, NRSC Chair Elizabeth Dole and White House political strategist Karl Rove first approached him three weeks ago -- right after State House Speaker Allan Bense passed on the contest -- about entering the race. "I never cared for candidates who had to be coaxed into a political battle. Either you feel it in your gut or you don't," he added. GOP strategists fear Harris will be unable to defeat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D).

P2008: US Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) -- a decorated Vietnam War veteran -- is clearly positioning himself as the peace candidate on the Iraq War issue. Appearing Sunday on ABC's This Week, here is what Hagel said: "Stay the course is not a policy. Part of the problem that ... we have no measurement for progress, for success. And so I think, by any standard, when you analyze two and a half years in Iraq where we have put in over a third of a trillion dollars, where we have lost over 1,900 Americans, over 14,000 wounded, electricity production [is[ down, oil production [is] down -- any measurement, any standard you apply to this -- we're not winning ... The reason that I don't think more troops is the answer now is ... because we are locked into a bogged-down problem not dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have. The more occupying force dynamics flow into this, the more influence of the outside people, as well as the inside people are going to hurt this country." Appearing on the show with Hagel -- but disagreeing with him -- was US Senator George Allen (R-VA). After the show, Allen went to far as to emphasize thet the US stay the course in Iraq because our action there "is like the Normandy invasion" in World War II. Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) also Sunday called for a US withdrawal from Iraq. He said setting a timeline for withdrawal will show the Iraqis we're serious about leaving, and "take the wind out of the sails of the insurgents" who are whipping up anti-American sentiments. In other -- unrelated -- P2008 news, we've filled in the details on all of the GOP candidates who have disclaimed interest, plus we've added the P2008 page for Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO).

CALIFORNIA: Purely the stuff of the rumor mill, but state Dems are abuzz with speculation that Apple founder Steve Jobs may jump into the race for Governor. Maybe he'll promise free iPods to state residents (or free music downloads). Personally, I'd bet against the computer guru ever running for any political office.

NORTH CAROLINA: The State Board of Elections is expected to withdraw the "official party" status of the NC Libertarian Party on Monday, denying them automatic ballot access for 2006. The NCLP failed to secure the requisite 10% of the vote in either of last year's Presidential or gubernatorial races, nor has the party collected the nearly 70,000 signatures required for maintain ballot status. NCLP leaders vow to take the case to court, as their party fields numerous candidates in the state every election year. The NCLP has been on the ballot in the state for nearly a decade.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.22.05 | Permalink |


OPEN THREAD: Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) announced Friday he will run for New York Governor next year ... US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) suffered a mild stroke, but office says there are no complications or any restrictions on his activities ... State Republican leaders in Ohio are increasing the pressure on Governor Bob Taft (R) to resign, polling county GOP chairs to see if they want Taft to quit.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.20.05 | Permalink |


SHORT-TAKES: I'll admit it: I'm tired and need an easy night of writing. Thus, this is just a few news bites so -- I guess -- consider this an open thread ... Term-limited Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R) pled no contest to four misdemeanor criminal ethics violation for accepting 52 illegal gifts and golfing junkets, is found guilty and found $4K, apologizes to state residents, but says he won't quit. State GOP leaders are openly hoping that Taft resigns ASAP so he's off the political stage by next year's elections ... US Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) continues his criticism of the Iraq War, saying the US "[has] got to get out" ... US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) calls for the US to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2006 ... Congressman Walter Jones Jr (R-NC) announced Thursday he has at least 50 House co-sponsors now -- including five Republicans -- for his resolution calling on the US to begin withdrawing from Iraq ... Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) announced for re-election, ending speculation he would retire next year ... Congressman Ray LaHood (R) announced he will seek re-election next year instead of running for Illinois Governor, even though he had raised $600,000 for the Gov race ... That's 'nuff for today.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.19.05 | Permalink |


OHIO: Things are going from dismal to disastrous for term-limited Governor Bob Taft (R). Taft already had one of the worst approval ratings (just 17%) ever recorded for any Governor anywhere -- related to a growing state financial scandal -- and that was before he was indicted Wednesday on criminal charges. He was charged with four misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail per count, for accepting unreported golfing junkets from lobbyists. Taft is the first sitting Ohio Governor ever to be charged with a crime. In other -- unrelated -- Ohio news, Congressman Sherrod Brown (D) announced he will not be a candidate next year against embattled US Senator Mike DeWine (R).

P2008: It may be a bit early to start polling on the next Iowa Presidential caucuses, but we've got new numbers anyways. In an independent poll of likely GOP caucus participants conducted for the Quad-City Times, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and US Senator John McCain led the field with 22% apiece. The rest of the pack: former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich - 14%, US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - 8%, NY Governor George Pataki - 3%, and MA Governor Mitt Romney and US Senator George Allen - 2% each. When they widened the poll to throw in some more speculative names, US Secretary of State Condi Rice surprisingly jumped to the lead with 30%, knocking McCain down to 16%, Giuliani to 15%, Gingrich to 8%, and seven others with less than 4% each. The pollster attributed Rice's high numbers largely to name recognition. Interestingly, 78% of respondents said they were concerned about illegal immigration problems, 61% said they vote for pro-life candidates, and a majority said they thought it was a bad idea for the federal government to fund stem cell research. Considering these responses, I'd have to agree that the so-called centrist Republicans place at the top of the poll because of name ID.

THE PREZ: A new SurveyUSA poll shows that President Bush's approval rating is down yet again. The national numbers: Approve-41%, DIsapprove-55%. Idaho was the state that most supported Bush, while Rhode Island was the place where they most disliked the President. Bush's numbers are so bad that he is above the 50% approval mark in only nine states -- and at 40% or less in nineteen states.

IRAQ WAR: There were more than 1,000 candlelight vigils around the nation on Wednesday evening to show solidarity for Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan's ongoing anti-war vigil in Crawford, Texas, outside President Bush's ranch. As for Fort Lauderdale, where Politics1 is based, the crowd outside the federal courthouse appeared to number around a hundred. Like I keep saying: Support our troops -- bring them home now.

PENNSYLVANIA: In a plug for one of our regular readers (and a fellow blogger), conservative Chris Lilik's Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania group have launched a campaign to attack the Republican Senate and Democratic House leaders who helped sneak through a massive, eleventh-hour pay hike for themselves with no debate. They pay hike foes launched an online campaign -- InformedPA.com -- to raise money to post billboards and run radio spots to embarrass the leaders of the pay hike into repealing it.

SCRANTON FLOATS SOME SHOTS OUR WAY: It took a little while -- like two weeks -- but the '06 gubernatorial campaign of former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton III (R) finally has found a way to answer our report of his close ties to Maharishi Mahest Yogi. Rather than answer the real questions (example: Does Scranton believe yogic flying is real?), his spokesman gives clever non-answer side-steps ("Anyone who knows Bill Scranton knows he is a Christian..."). But, in a lengthy report Wednesday by Pennsylvania's CapitolWire.com on Scranton and our article, Scranton's campaign chose to largely answer by attacking the source. Scranton's spokesman repeatedly called me a "liberal" (gasp!) and "a liberal Matt Drudge" (I think I'm insulted -- by the Drudge part -- not the lib part). But, when the questions got tougher, they decided calling me a mere liberal wasn't enough. In a "But this goes to 11..." non sequitur of desperation, Scranton's campaign gave me their best shot -- calling me an "ultra left-wing liberal" (they seemingly forgot to use "homosexual" and "lawyer"). Ummm, whatever ... but Scranton still hasn't answered my simple questions: Does he believe the Maharishi's teachings on yogic flying (i.e., people levitating across a room) are legitimate science or bogus? Would he use TM meditation -- and other elements of so-called "vedic science" -- as parts of government-funded plans to reduce crime rates or improve the economy?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.18.05 | Permalink |


P2008: US Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) is upping the rhetorical stakes against the Bush Administration as he continues to explore a possible run for President in 2008. This week Biden accused the Bush Administration of "incompetence ... that approaches criminal" in its handling of the Iraq War. He also called upon the President to "get rid of Rumsfeld," adding that "Rumsfeld should have been fired a year ago for incompetence." Biden admits he's finding it tough to gather primary support against likely candidate Hillary Clinton, but that he plans to keep moving forward with his possible White House run. "I'm not kidding myself. Hillary Clinton is well-known, extremely well-respected, extremely competent, who will have tons of money and if I run it will be clearly an uphill fight," he told Fox News.

OHIO: Former steel company president John Hritz (R) filed paperwork this week to challenge US Senator Mike DeWine in next year's GOP primary. "All indicators point to the fact that Mike DeWine will lose his Senate seat to almost any Democrat who challenges him ... Senator DeWine, like Governor Taft, is a career politician, and Ohio is starting to see the error in electing people who have experience in nothing other than serving in government positions," explained Hritz. In related news, Congressman Tim Ryan (D) said he'll make a decision on the race by Labor Day.

NEVADA: Term-limited Governor Kenny Guinn's (R) press secretary -- Greg Bortolin -- is leaving Guinn's staff to join the soon to be announced gubernatorial campaign team of Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson (D). Bartolin, a Dem who served as Guinn's spokesman for the past four years, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that Guinn and Gibson "share a lot of the same qualities." Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston went so far as to predict that "Guinn will embrace the Henderson mayor" against Congressman Jim Gibbons (R), if that is the general election match-up. Guinn and Gibbons openly dislike each other, and Guinn has been aggressively trying to recruit candidates to oppose Gibbons next year.

PHILADELPHIA: Congressman Chaka Fattah (D) has asked the Federal Elections Commission for an advisory opinion that would allow him to set up a mayoral exploratory committee that could raise contributions in an amount above the $2,000 per person limit for federal officeholders -- while also keeping his congressional re-election campaign active. "I'm moving forward [on running for Mayor]," Fattah told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

NEW JERSEY: Both major party candidates vying to be New Jersey's next Governor don't quite share the financial concerns and debts of most working families. In tax returns released this week, both US Senator Jon Corzine (D) and former West Windsor Mayor Doug Forrester (R) each showed annual incomes of roughly $12 million apiece. Corzine, however, paid substantially less in income taxes ($2.3 million versus $4.4 million) because he donated much more to charities ($3.5 million versus $125,000). Corzine -- who earned $71 million in his last year in the private sector before his election to the Senate -- is the former CEO of the Goldman Sachs brokerage company. Forrester is the founder of a successful pharmacy benefits company.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.17.05 | Permalink |


NEW YORK: A few months ago, the AP reported former two-term Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld (R) sent a confidential memo to his venture capitalist business partners "flatly denying" the rumors he was interested in running for New York Governor if George Pataki (R) opted to retire. Jump ahead three months to the present day and you'll see Weld is apparently singing a different tune. Weld -- who actually is a native of New York -- is now actively exploring a run for the job. State Conservative Party Chair Michael Long confirmed to the AP that Weld telephones him last week to discuss his potential candidacy. "I got a sense he wasn't just exploring it; he was taking a very serious look at it," said Long, who said he also agreed to meet with Weld to discuss it further. According to Long, the semi-libertarian Weld described himself as "pro-Second Amendment ... a conservative on taxes and spending ... [and] rather liberal on social issues." A spokesman for State GOP Chair Stephen Minarik confirmed he also "talked" with Weld, but said he wouldn't provide any details on Minarik's "private conversation." The NY Republicans are still without a first tier candidate to oppose Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) next year. In other NY news, Long also told the New York Post he and other conservatives were taking a second look at Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox's US Senate candidacy following highly-touted Jeanine Pirro's announcement fiasco. Long said her 32-second freeze in front of cameras after realizing she was missing a page of her speech was an "awesome mistake" and that Pirro "should [have been] able to ad-lib if you know why you're running against Hillary." Long went on to add that his group was likely to reject Pirro -- and back another GOP candidate -- because her pro-choice social views were "killing any opportunity of reaching the strong conservative base." Added a prominent NY Republican legislator: "A lot of people were unhappy with [Pirro's] boatload of mistakes, and they're starting to take another look at Ed Cox as a result."

DC: US Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) gets even with his opponents in his new kiss-and-tell book Herding Cats: A Life In Politics. Lott says his highly criticized praise of the late Strom Thurmond's 1948 Presidential campaign were "innocent and thoughtless." He also blames US Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) and then-Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-OK) with conspiring to undermine him, using the incident to oust Lott as Senate Majority Leader -- and calls their conduct "a personal betrayal." Frist "was one of the main manipulators of the whole scenario," he wrote. Lott also gets even with three other GOP Senators -- John Warner and George Allen of Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine -- blaming them for abandoning him, helping to increase the pressure that forced him to step aside. He also named close Bush advisor Joe Allbaugh as the unnamed Administration official who told reporters the President wanted Lott to step aside. Lott is reportedly interested in returning to the Senate Leadership after the 2006 elections, hoping to become the next Republican Whip (instead of Rick Santorum, who protocol dictates is likely to move up to the job if he wins re-election next year).

ILLINOIS: Just an observation but ... Governor Rod Blogojevich (D) has raised over $14 million for his 2006 re-election campaign and yet he doesn't even have a campaign website online. What's with that? Postscript: One reader found the Blagojevich site -- although there isn't much there yet.

P2008 HOAX: I've already gotten a bunch of emails about actor Christopher Walken's purported '08 Presidential campaign website. Well, folks -- except for a mention here -- I'm not going to be adding him to our listings. Everything here points to this simply be a hoax or satire. An elaborate, well-staged and funny hoax ... but a hoax all the same. Even our far right counterparts over at WorldNetDaily agree. According to their sources, "the entire [Walken] campaign, including registration of multiple Web domain names, is an elaborate hoax being perpetrated by members of the General Mayhem forums, one of the largest message boards on the Internet." A visit to the GenMay boards seems to back this up, as these folks joke about how cool it would be if people took this seriously. FYI: Walken's publicist also debunks the site. "Mr. Walken has no intentions for public office," she said.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.16.05 | Permalink |


P2008: During a Sunday morning talk show appearance, US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was very coy about his 2008 Presidential plans. Here's what McCain said: "I'm not leaning either way, because I'm not considering it. I really am not -- [because] there's no reason to until after the 2006 elections."

LOUISIANA: The attorney for Congressman Bill Jefferson (D) acknowledges his client appears to be the target of an FBI corruption sting investigation. According to the Washington Post, Jefferson has "been the target of an undercover FBI sting involving public corruption for nearly a year." According to sources, Jefferson pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of an investment scheme. FBI agents last week raided Jefferson's DC and New Orleans homes -- and reportedly seized "a large amount of cash" that was hidden in Jefferson's freezer. Jefferson's lawyer said the Congressman is the target of "a sting operation on the part of the FBI or some other law enforcement organization that has been pulling strings behind the scenes." The lawyer added that Jefferson "did not pocket any money" -- but he couldn't explain the FBI seizure of the cash. Jefferson's lawyer is already playing the race card, accusing the feds of bringing the case in Northern Virginia -- which he called a "primarily white [federal] district" versus the large black population of New Orleans. Jefferson, an eight-term Congressman and Harvard-educated attorney, has been saddled by big personal debts for years.

IRAQ (AND IRAN): The Washington Post, after new interviews with senior Bush Administration officials, reported the White House is rapidly lowering expectations for defining a US "victory" in Iraq. According to the newspaper, the Bush Administration "no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges." One senior advisor admitted that "what we expected to achieve was never realistic." Another said that the US "set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic." The most recent sign of this lowering of expectations was President Bush's Saturday radio address, in which he claimed the US has already achieved many of our now much more vague pre-war goals. In related news, the White House this weekend also warned the Iranian government that "all options are on the table" -- i.e., including the US going to war with Iran -- if Iran moves forward with a nuclear weapons program.

COLORADO: The GOP contest to replace term-limited Governor Bill Owens (R) may be entirely reshaped soon if a third major candidate jumps in. Retired US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) told the Rocky Mountain News he is "seriously thinking about it" and "will make a decision within a couple of months." Campbell, 72, said he's enjoying "having a life again" since leaving Congress in January and is earning a "seven-figure" compensation package in his new job as a lobbyist on behalf of the Holland & Knight law firm. One moment, Campbell boasts to the newspaper that unnamed GOP leaders are asking him to run -- yet, moments later, he says "I've got a great life with a great future. Why do I need that [candidate] stuff?" Campbell said he would be the best GOP candidate, if he ran, because the Republicans need "somebody who can win." Congressman Bob Beauprez and former university president Marc Holtzman are announced candidates for the GOP gubernatorial nominaton -- and former Congressman Scott McInnis (R) is also looking at the race. Former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter is the only announced Dem candidate to date, although several others -- including State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and populist Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper -- are frequently mentioned. Wealthy businessman Rutt Bridges (D) withdrew from the contest last week, saying he realized he enjoys being involved in politics but said he doesn't have the "skills or the stomach to be an effective politician."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.15.05 | Permalink |


OPEN THREAD: "Do you have page 10?" If you haven't yet seen this clip from prosecutor Jeanine Pirro's candidacy announcement speech against US Senator Hillary Clinton this past week, then you've missed one of the more embarrassing campaign launches in a long time.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.13.05 |


VIRGINIA: A new WSLS-TV/SurveyUSA.poll shows former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) continuing to hold a small lead over Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D). The numbers: Kilgore - 48%, Kaine - 43%, State Senator Russ Potts (Independent) - 3%. The race is largely split down party lines, which would seemingly favor Kilgore. Kilgore is backed by 88% of the Republicans, 8% of Democrats, and 42% of Independents. Kaine was supported by 83% of Dems, 5% of GOPers, and 45% of Indy voters. Potts draws almost equally from both men, with 2% of Republicans and 3% of Dems (and 6% of Independents) supporting him.

MICHIGAN: Oh, now you tell me. One day after Congresswoman Candice Miller (R) announced she would not challenge Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) next year, a new independent poll showed Miller would have been the GOP's strongest candidate. According to the new EPIC/MRA poll, Granholm was narrowly leading Miller by a vote of 47% to 45% in a speculative match-up. By contrast, Granholm leads billionaire conservative businessman Dick DeVos -- the most likely GOP nominee -- by a much wider vote of 56% to 36%. In a GOP primary contest, Miller would have defeated DeVos by a vote of 43% to 29%, with two other announced candidates at just 4% apiece. The poll also showed US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) holding a wide lead over any of her likely opponents next year. Stabenow led Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) by a 20-point margin. The incumbent also held a 31-point advantage over evangelical minister Keith Butler (R).

NEW YORK: The latest Marist College poll shows US Senator Hillary Clinton (D) holding a wide lead over Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro (R). The numbers: Clinton - 50%, Pirro - 28%. Clinton has dropped 14% since the same poll in April.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.12.05 | Permalink |


NEW HAMPSHIRE: Republicans are still trying to find even a single candidate to challenge Governor John Lynch (D) next year. First elected last year, Lynch now has an approval rating hovering just under the 70% mark. Former State Senator Bruce Keogh (R), an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2002, appears the most likely to run. Some also float the name of former Governor Craig Benson (R) -- who Lynch ousted in '04 -- but no sign yet that he's seeking a rematch. State Representative William O'Brien (R) hosted an event in his home this week for 30 conservative activists who are trying to find an opponent for the incumbent. Keogh attended the event.

KENTUCKY: Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) has seen several of his top aides indicted recently related to alleged corrupt hiring practices in the state civil service. Fletcher himself has refused to testify under oath before the grand jury, and indicates he would take the fifth if forced to testify. Former Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry (D), a wealthy surgeon and '98 US Senate candidate, indicated this weekend he is thinking of challenging Fletcher in 2007. "I think we have to start looking as though we were going to run for Governor. That decision won't be made for a period of time, but I think we have to prepare our family as though we were running," he said to WAVE-TV. State Auditor Crit Luallen (D) is another possible challenger -- and Fletcher could even draw a serious primary challenge.

OHIO: The politically influential NRA and other pro-gun rights groups are openly considering working for the defeat next year of US Senator Mike DeWine (R), according to The Hill. One DC gun lobbyist called DeWine "the most activist, anti-gun Republican in the Senate" and praised Congressman Tim Ryan (D) -- a potential DeWine challenger -- as having "a long and consistent record of pro-gun support." Larry Pratt, head of the more uncompromising Gun Owners of America, said his group graded DeWine an "F" rating and Ryan a "B" rating (versus a "D" grade for Bill Frist and a "C" for Rick Santorum). "Personally, as an individual and an ardent Republican, I would love to see anyone run against DeWine, especially Ryan," said Rick Kaleda, a NRA political organizer for Ohio. DeWine was one of only two GOP Senators to oppose a bill protecting gun makers from liability for damages caused by the use of their products. State GOP Political Director Jason Mauk said he wasn't worried about DeWine being vulnerable, because the Dems do not yet have an announced candidate and DeWine "votes with the President 95% of the time." However, the ongoing scandals swirling around term-limited Governor Bob Taft (R) -- now holding a dismal 17% approval rating -- are also causing major electoral concerns for many GOP candidates in the state.

MICHIGAN: Congresswoman Candice Miller (R) announced Wednesday she would seek re-election next year, ending speculation that she would instead challenge Governor Jennifer Granholm (D). "It would not be fair to [those encouraging me to run] or other potential candidates for other offices to allow speculation to continue," said Miller.

NEW JERSEY: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows US Senator Jon Corzine (D) continuing to lead businessman Doug Forrester (R) in the open race for Governor. Corzine leads by a vote of 50% to 40% among likely voters and 45% to 33% among registered voters.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.11.05 |


ILLINOIS: Neither in nor out. Former Governor Jim Edgar is clearly the GOP's best -- and possibly only -- hope for regaining control of the Governor's Mansion next year. Although many Republicans are urging him to oppose Governor Rod Blogojevich (D), Edgar still isn't ready to make a decision on the race. Speaking from his vacation home in Colorado, Edgar told the Bloomington Pantagraph that he'll make a decision by the end of summer when he returns to Illinois. Still, most Republicans don't believe he's going to run -- especially as at least a few of the Republicans already in the contest appear unlikely to step aside for the moderate Edgar. Edgar still has $1 million left over in his old campaign account, but incumbent Blogojevich already has over $14 million in his campaign coffers. Blagojevich is viewed as a weak incumbent, but his current GOP challengers are viewed as being even more week in this generally pro-Dem state. With Edgar out of the race, consider this contest as "DEM Favored." If Edgar jumps in, move this one to the "Leans DEM" category. In related news, Congressman Henry Hyde (R) declined to endorsed fellow Congressman Ray LaHood (R) for Governor and instead this week endorsed LaHood's rival and wealthy businessman Ron Gidwitz.

P2004 PAYBACK: Retired US Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) earned the enmity of Democrats nationwide when he broke with his party to endorse President Bush's re-election, give a primetime speech at the GOP convention, and write book that bashed his own party. Along the way, Miller even sorta challenged MSNBC show host Chris Matthews to a duel. After all that, many observers thought Bush would reward Miller with a cushy Ambassadorship or Cabinet post. Instead, Miller was rewarded with a seat on the relatively unimportant American Battle Monuments Commission. The Georgian said he had expressed an interest in the post after visiting WWII battlefields last year. "I'm just an old man looking after cemeteries ... It's not so much building more monuments but making sure the ones we do have are maintained correctly," Miller told the AP after getting word of his appointment.

TENNESSEE: Attorney, former newspaper publisher and gadfly "reformer" John Jay Hooker (Independent) has been running for Governor and other offices since 1966. In the In the 1966-74 period Hooker was a major candidate in races. Since then, the colorful frequent candidate has become an amusing sideshow in lots of state races. In 2006, Hooker says he's going to run for Governor ... and for US Senator. State law allows him to simultaneously seek multiple offices.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.10.05 |


NEW YORK: Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro (R) said Monday that she'll challenge US Senator Hillary Clinton (D) next year. Pirro was weighing bids for Governor, US Senate and Attorney General in recent weeks. While none of those encouraging Pirro the oppose Clinton -- including the state GOP chair -- believe Pirro has any real chance of defeating Clinton, they believe she could have a promising political future in the state or national Republican party if she can make the race competitive, force Clinton to spend big bucks defending the seat, and keep Clinton from building her national political network for an '08 Presidential race. "[Clinton] wants us to re-elect her even though she won't promise to serve out her term and wants to use us as a springboard to the Presidency. She's asking us to become her doormat," complained Pirro. An independent poll last week, however, showed Pirro trailing Clinton by nearly 40 points. Before Pirro gets the chance to face-off against Clinton, she first needs to get past former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, President Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox, and attorney Bill Brenner in the GOP primary. Cox, Spencer and Brenner are also competing for the NY Conservative Party nomination. Pirro's pro-choice views, however, will disqualify her for that ballot line. And -- here's a little history -- for all those who think the key to Republicans winning the NY seat is running a GOP woman, I'd float the names of Florence Sullivan and Bernadette Castro. Who, you ask? They were the GOP nominees for US Senate from New York in 1982 (34%) and 1994 (42%).

COLORADO: The Rocky Mountain State is rife with rumors that 70-year-old Congressman Joel Hefley (R) will soon announce his retirement. While Hefley denies the rumors, several prominent Republicans don't seem to believe him and are already positioning themselves to seek the seat. Potential replacements for the safe GOP seat include National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard, State Senator Doug Lamborn, Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera and El Paso County Commissioner Wayne Williams. In other Colorado news, former university president Marc Holtzman shot down rumors he was quitting the open seat race for Governor. A poor choice of words in a publicly released letter from his campaign caused the misperception. Holtzman is "categorically, absolutely, positively ... not dropping out of the race," says his campaign spokesman. Holtzman has nearly twice as much cash-on-hand as Congressman Bob Beauprez -- but Beauprez has won nearly all the GOP establishment endorsements, including that of term-limited Governor Bill Owens. The Democratic contest, by contrast, is more crowded and remains wide open.

REPUBLICAN WING OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: The fiscally conservative Club for Growth weighed in this week with three endorsements in upcoming, open seat GOP congressional primaries. In the '05 special election for the CD-48 seat recently vacated by the Congressman Chris Cox (R-CA) to become the new SEC Chair, the group endorsed State Senator John Campbell. As for 2006 races, the PAC endorsed State Higher Education Commission Chair Rick O'Donnell for the Colorado CD-7 seat and State Representative Phil Krinkie for the Minnesota CD-6 seat. The conservative group has a record of pouring large amounts of money into independent expenditure TV spots and mailings in the final weeks of hotly contested GOP primaries in a concerted effort to block the election of GOP centrists -- whom the group derides as "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only)

NEBRASKA: Governor Dave Heineman (R), State Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, leaders of the Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Corn Board, and several of the state's leading agribusinesses are going on a six-day trade mission to Cuba. They want to promote increased trade with the isolated island nation. Ibach said it is a top priority of the state's government to promote corn and soybean sales to Fidel Castro's government. Under US law, US farmers may sell -- individually or cooperatively -- their products to Cuba, but they must be paid in advance and shipment and can't use a US bank for the transactions. Heineman is locked in tough gubernatorial primary next year against Congressman Tom Osborne (R), the legendary former college football coach. In other Nebraska news, Ameritrade C.O.O. Peter Ricketts -- with a personal net worth of over $200 million -- stepped down from his position last week with the online stock trading company his father founded. The move is believed to be a precursor to his eventual entry into the race next year against US Senator Ben Nelson (D).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.09.05 |


CALIFORNIA: Supporters of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) are worried about a lot more than his dismal approval ratings, according to Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. According to Walters, they are starting to fear that Schwarzenegger won't seek re-election next year -- leaving the GOP without a first-tier candidate. He has yet to announce he will seek a second term. Further, two PACs allied with Schwarzenegger have raised $23 million to qualify ballot initiatives for this November -- but they've spent nearly every cent to do so. That means the groups need to raise at least $20 million more to run the campaign for those ballot propositions -- plus whatever Schwarzenegger would need to raise for his re-election bid. By contrast, the "unions [opposing the Schwarzenegger ballot questions] are on track to at least double and perhaps triple that amount." If Schwarzenegger doesn't run, Congressman Darrell Issa and University of California Board of Regents Chair Gerry Parsky are the two most likely to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination. State Treasurer Phil Angelides and State Controller Steve Westly -- both multimillionaire former businessmen -- are the leading announced Democratic candidates for Governor. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D) is now making calls to test a possible run for Governor in '06.

OHIO: Iraq War veteran and attorney Paul Hackett (D) -- fresh off his surprisingly narrow loss in the CD-2 special election -- acknowledges that the '06 US Senate race against incumbent Mike DeWine (R) is a possibility. Hackett is also considering a rematch against new Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R) next year. Hackett captured 48% in the heavily Republican CD-2 race -- a district in which no Democrat had broken the 40% mark in years (Kerry won just 35% there last year). Congressmen Ted Strickland (D) -- the leading Democrat in next year's open gubernatorial contest -- said he would support Hackett if Congressman Sherrod Brown and Tim Ryan both pass on the race.

TEXAS: Maybe he just considers it a little detour on his way to the 2008 White House race, but '04 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Michael Badnarik is making a run in Texas for Congress in 2006. Over the weekend, Badnarik announced his candidacy for the CD-10 seat held by freshman Congressman Mike McCaul (R). Former EPA official Ted Ankrum (D) is also running against McCaul. Badnarik -- who promises his Congressional run will be "a serious run for office" -- has already indicated he plans to seek the Libertarian Presidential nomination again in '08.

EROTIC POLITICS: Attorney Victor Bernace (D) is challenging a NYC City Council incumbent in the primary -- and is decidedly an underdog. Thus, since his campaign was having trouble gaining attention, he found a way to get in the news. How? By sponsoring a $20/person fundraiser featuring male and female go-go dancers -- wearing just bikinis or briefs -- at a "Havana Night" event next month at a nightclub. The invitation promises it will be "a sexy, erotic show." His campaign website boasts Bernace has "embraced sexuality/sensuality as a fundraising technique." Explained the candidate to the AP: "I'm not running for mayor in a small, old-time religious town in Utah. I'm running in New York City. I might as well try to energize a different base." No word on whether or not attendees will be expected to stuff their $20 bills into Bernace's underwear. Here's the really cheap touch: he wants to go-go dancers to work for free. The Harvard-educated Bernace has previously run two losing races for the same council seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.08.05 |


OPEN THREAD: Yet another open thread.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.07.05 |


OPEN THREAD: Your turn to go at it.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.06.05 |


NEW YORK: The New York Post is reporting that Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro (R) has decided against challenging US Senator Hillary Clinton (D) next year. Instead, Pirro has purportedly told state GOP leaders she is focusing on either the open seat races for Governor or Attorney General. A poll released earlier this week showed Pirro way behind Clinton in the Senate race by nearly 40 points. A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday also showed Pirro trailing Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) by a 38-point margin in the gubernatorial race. If it is any solace for Pirro, every other potential Republican candidate -- with the exception of Rudy Giuliani, who already said he won't run -- also trails Spitzer by equally wide margins.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Governor Mark Sanford (R) is cruising to a comfortable re-election, according to the new Rasmussen Reports poll. Sanford holds a lead of nearly 20% over either of his two most likely Democratic opponents: State Senator Tommy Moore and Florence Mayor Frank Willis.

SUPREME COURT: Is Judge John Roberts a right-wing extremist or open-minded legal scholar? A believer in judicial restraint or a would-be judicial activist? A Scalia or a O'Connor or a Souter? A new story out Thursday casts an interesting wrinkle that confounds most of the preconceived views on either side of the Roberts debate. According to the Los Angeles Times, Roberts provided his legal services for free over the years on behalf of gay rights advocates, the homeless, and others. Roberts "worked behind the scenes for gay rights activists, and his legal expertise helped them persuade the Supreme Court to issue a landmark 1996 ruling protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation," reported the Times. "He was instrumental in reviewing filings and preparing oral arguments, according to several lawyers intimately involved in the [Romer v. Evans] case," a case the gay rights side won by a 6-3 Supreme Court decision. Gay rights attorney Jean Dubofsky, who argued the case before the Supreme Court, said Roberts "was just terrifically helpful in meeting with me and spending some time on the issue ... He seemed to be very fair-minded and very astute." In the homeless case, Roberts argued on behalf of class of about 1,000 homeless people who were seeking a restoration of their welfare and other social service benefits by the DC city government. Interestingly, Roberts did not include the Romer case in his Senate questionnaire response to the question about his past pro bono activities.

P2008: Talk about way, way too early to start, but 2008 Presidential spots have started airing in Iowa and New Hampshire. New York Governor George Pataki (R) already has a spot running in central Iowa, letting voters know he is thinking of running for President. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, gadfly frequent Florida candidate and publicity whore Bob Kunst is running an animated anti-Bush TV spot encouraging Hillary Clinton to run. Kunst seems to be promoting Clinton so as to sell more of his homemade "Hillary Now" campaign buttons -- the sale of which appears to be his main source of income.

FINAL ACT: The pro-Democratic 527 group Americans Coming Together (ACT) -- which at its peak last year had nearly 80 field offices in a dozen swing states and almost 6,000 paid political organizers -- is essentially shutting down. The group raised over $200 million last year to promote improved Democratic GOTV results in key states. The group's largest donor was billionaire financier George Soros, who poured nearly $20 million into ACT last year. Act is going into a state of hibernation, cutting back to only a few staffers and with no set future plans.

NEVADA: University of Nevada Chancellor Jim Rogers -- a wealthy media mogul and ally of term-limited Governor Kenny Guinn (R) -- had been moving towards making a run for Governor next year against Congressman Jim Gibbons in the GOP primary. Guinn has been working for months to recruit a strong candidate to block Gibbons, who he views as a loose cannon and too right-wing. Rogers radically changed the look of the race this week, however, when he switched his registration to Independent. If the centrist Rogers soon announces his candidacy as an Indy, he is likely to radically alter the contest. Other announced candidates for Governor include Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt (R), State Senator Bob Beers (R), State Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins (D) and State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus (D). Reno Mayor Bob Cashell (R) and Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson (D) are also looking at the race.

EDITORIAL: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS ... BY BRINGING THEM HOME. I've changed my view of what the United States needs to do in Iraq. Until this week, I was in the "You break it, you bought it" camp. I readily agree Saddam Hussein was a evil tyrant who did really bad things to his people. Certainly, Iraq is better off with him out of power. StillI strongly believe the Iraq War was wrong. We were misled into the war and never should have crossed the line that turned us into one of the bully nations that unilaterally starts so-called "pre-emptive" wars. But we did. And, in the words of the late General Douglas MacArthur, even God is not so powerful that he can change the past. There is a very thin line between liberator and occupier -- a line that usually gets get crossed very soon after the "victory" is declared. History is replete with examples of this. Likewise, the distinction today between Iraqi insurgent and Iraqi citizen seems almost non-existent -- certainly so in the minds of most Iraqis. With more than 1,800 American soldiers and 23,000 Iraqi civilians killed, and over 10,000 American soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians seriously wounded and maimed, we need to ask ourselves what we are achieving by staying in Iraq. Frankly, I fear that if we stay in Iraq another year (or another ten years), the internal situation in Iraq will remain largely unchanged -- but the horrific body count will be so much higher. They obviously don't want us there. So let's declare victory today ("The world is rid of Saddam Hussein..."), bring our soldiers home, and give them some great parades and our thanks for their sacrifice. We should wish the Iraqi people our sincere best for the future as they set their own destiny. Let Iraq sink-or-swim on its own. We can even send them humanitarian relief -- if they want it -- to rebuild their crippled infrastructure destroyed by the war. But let's get out now. No more American mothers should have to bury sons who died "defending" a foreign nation that doesn't want us there. Bring 'em home. Every single American soldier. Starting today.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.05.05 |


MICHIGAN: Out x 2. Aging rocker and gun rights activist Ted Nugent (R) wrote on his website this week that he will not be a candidate for Governor next year. He says he will continue to stress his issue concerns and consider running for Governor in 2010. State Senator Valde Garcia (R), who was already an announced candidate for Governor, also announced Tuesday he was quitting the race. He described his prospects in both the primary and the general election as "political suicide." Billionaire businessman Dick DeVos is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination against Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) next year.

KANSAS: Also out. For the second time this year, Congressman Jerry Moran (R) crushed the hopes of Republicans who wanted him to challenge Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) in 2006. Moran announced earlier this year he wouldn't run for Governor. Then, after being pressed by Republicans to enter the race after polls showed he was the strongest candidate against the incumbent, announced he would reconsider. Well, it's now a few months later and nothing has changed. Moran announced again that he'll seek re-election next year, citing an unwillingness to give up time spent with his family. State House Speaker Doug Mays (R) is the only major GOP challenger to date to announce his candidacy. Mays is a credible but "second-tier" candidate. With Moran out, Sebelius moves back into the "Dem Favored" category.

FLORIDA: Count me out, too. Despite heavy pressure by Governor Jeb Bush, the White House, the NRSC, and others to enter the US Senate race, State House Speaker Allan Bense (R) announced Wednesday he will not run against Congresswoman Katherine Harris in next year's GOP primary. Republican leaders worry that Harris -- who appears a lock to win the GOP primary because of her hero status with GOP activists -- is virtually unelectable next year against US Senator Bill Nelson (D). Bense said the timing is not right for him to run next year. Congressman Mark Foley (R) is the only other leading Republican still considering the race.

LOUISIANA: Congressman Bill Jefferson (D-LA) is the apparent target of an FBI corruption investigation. On Wednesday, FBI agents executed search warrants on the DC and New Orleans homes of the Louisiana Congressman. The feds hauled away boxes and bags of seized items from both locations. "As it is a criminal investigation we will not be able to comment any further," said a US Justice Department spokesman. In a written statement, Jefferson said he did "not know the extent or precise nature of this investigation" but would cooperate fully in the matter.

DETROIT: Motown music legend Martha Reeves won a run-off spot Tuesday in the race for Detroit City Commission. Reeves -- and 64 and the former lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas -- had her biggest hits in the 1960s with "Dancing in the Streets" and "Heat Wave." She placed ninth -- with the top 18 candidates advancing -- in the at-large race for nine seats.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.04.05 |


OHIO CD-2: Voters went to the polls on Tuesday in the special election to select a successor to former Congressman Rob Portman (R) for the heavily Republican CD-2 seat. The Democrats went all out to make this race competitive -- hoping the current dire problems of unpopular Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R) and the Ohio Republican Party will rub-off on this contest -- and they did far better than expected. In fact, this was the most competitive race in this distract in several decades. Approximately 25% of the voters participated. Former State Representative Jean Schmidt (R) styled herself as a proven conservative who was a good fit for the district. Iraq War veteran and attorney Paul Hackett (D), by contrast, ran on a sharply anti-Bush campaign message. The closeness of the race -- in a district where the Democratic nominee almost never finished above the 35% mark -- may be a sign of major problems for the embattled Ohio Republicans in next year's federal and state elections. With all votes counted, Schmidt scored a surprisingly close 52% to 48% victory. Based upon these numbers, look for a rematch between the two candidates next year.

DETROIT: Voters in Detroit on Tuesday advanced two candidates to the run-off in the non-partisan race for Mayor. Incumbent Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) -- embattled by lots of bad press related to the city's financial deficit and embarrassing personal revelations -- finished a dismal second place behind former Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix (D). City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail, State Senator Hansen Clarke, and six others trailed by distant margins and did not make the November run-off. More embarrassing was the fact that Kilpatrick had substantially outspent Hendrix in the primary. Despite this, Hendrix placed ahead by a commanding 46% to 32% lead (with incomplete results) -- with Kilpatrick recording the worst primary finish for a Detroit mayoral incumbent since 1947.

VIRGINIA: While several recent independent polls show that popular Governor Mark Warner (D) would hold a narrow lead next year if he decides to challenge US Senator George Allen (R), Warner repeatedly indicated he will pass on the '06 Senate race to focus on an '08 Presidential run. With Warner out, the Dems need to find a viable candidate. While Dem recruitment efforts appeared to focus initially on wealthy car dealer and former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, Beyer recently let folks know he will not seek a return to politics next year. Politics1 is now hearing that former Congressman L.F. Payne (D) -- the '97 nominee for Lieutenant Governor -- is expected to soon announce his candidacy for the US Senate seat.

OHIO RUMORS: Purely rumors ... but we're starting to hear whispers that both Attorney General Jim Petro (R) and State Auditor Betty Montgomery (R) may both soon decide to abandon their campaigns for Ohio Governor and instead seek re-election next year. This move -- if it happens -- would pave the way for former Congressman John Kasich (R) to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary contest against Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Term-limited Governor Bob Taft (R) is so despised and scandal-plagued that many feel he may make it impossible for Republicans to hold the Governor's Mansion. Congressman Ted Strickland and Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman are the two leading Democratic candidates.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.03.05 |


OHIO CD-2: Voters go to the polls on Tuesday in the special election to select a successor to former Congressman Rob Portman (R), who resigned to become President Bush's US Trade Representative. The CD-2 seat is heavily Republican, so much so that Portman won re-election with 72% last year. Still, the Democrats have gone all out to make this race competitive, hoping the current dire problems of unpopular Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R) and the Ohio Republican Party will rub-off on this contest. Former State Representative Jean Schmidt narrowly won a bitterly contested GOP primary in June over a crowded field. Iraq War veteran and attorney Paul Hackett is the Democratic nominee. Schmidt still remains heavily favored to win, but this race will not be the lopsided contest Portman faced last year. Dems poured money into the race and will consider a Hackett finish in the 40-44% range a success. Anything higher than that for Hackett -- Dems say -- would be a barometer pointing to major problems for the embattled Ohio Republicans in next year's federal and state elections.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Governor John Lynch (D) got some good news this week. The University of New Hampshire's latest Granite State Poll shows Lynch's approval rating rapidly climbing. The new numbers: 61% approve versus 12% disapprove. That represents an 8% rise in approval over the past three months. By a 75% to 17% margin, voters also said the state is now on the right track. Republicans have yet to recruit a top notch candidate to oppose Lynch next year. Lynch was first elected in 2004, when he ousted incumbent Governor Craig Benson (R) in an upset.

COLORADO: Republican National Chair Ken Mehlman will be the featured guest at a Colorado fundraiser in support of the '06 re-election of controversial Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO). Tancredo is probably Congress' leading adovate of cracking down on illegal immigration and imposing a moratorium of virtually all legal immigration. "The fact is, we're a big-tent party ... I think debating [how] to protect our borders and protect our national security is a good thing," Mehlman told the Rocky Mountain News. Tancredo is also a likely P2008 candidate.

NEW YORK: It's been less than a week since Governor George Pataki (R) announced he won't seek re-election next year and the GOP in-fighting has already begun. A spokesman for Secretary of State Randy Daniels (R) -- one potential Pataki replacement -- told the New York Post that State GOP Chair Steve Minarik is actively working to block Daniels from running next year, possibly for racist reasons. "Nobody understands what Steve Minarik's problem is with Randy Daniels. Is Randy too honest? Is he too independent? Or is he too Black," asked the Daniels camp. Responded Minarik: "That's absolutely ridiculous and offensive. The problem I have with Randy Daniels is that he has less than 5 percent name recognition with the public and he doesn't have any money." Minarik and others have been actively trying to recruit billionaire businessman Tom Golisano into the GOP race -- even though Golisano has already spent millions on three consecutive failed gubernatorial races as a third party candidate.

MORE EXCUSES: Today's write-up is a bit sparse (and the Tuesday updates in general may be sparse for a little while) because I'm playing on a softball team again. Games are on Monday evenings -- after I'm finished at my day job -- so I won't have as much time for writing the Tuesday updates. The first game went well for our "Drink Baccardi" team (hey, at least we have a sponsor): a 25-7 win!
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.02.05 |


PENNSYLVANIA: In 1986, Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton III (R) had his gubernatorial campaign derailed by a last-minute TV spot that referenced his past drug use and ties to purported cult leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Maharishi -- who styles himself the leader of a new, one-world peace government -- believes yogic flying (levitating) and nationwide meditating solve problems like crime and economic slumps. Scranton wants you to believe all of this wacky Maharishi stuff is years in his past. But it's not. Scranton wants you to believe his only involvement these days is spending a few minutes in daily meditation to cut stress. But it isn't. In fact, as we publish this, Scranton is currently featured on a Maharishi website extolling the virtues of Maharishi University. Click here to read our EXCLUSIVE investigative report on the current frontrunner for next year's GOP nomination for Governor. And, for you cynics of our reporting, we've well documented it thoroughly -- just click the links in the article to verify any of the outrageous things we reported.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.01.05 |


GOV RACES: In Maine, former State Representative and '04 nominee Peter Cianchette (R) announced he would make a second run against Governor John Baldacci (D) next year. Ciachette's announcement immediately caused former Congressman Dave Emery and State Senate Minority Leader Paul Davis to both exit the GOP primary contest in favor of Cianchette. In Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Attorney General Mike Hatch (D) informed party leaders he will enter the race against Governor Tim Pawlenty (R). However, Hatch will wait in September to make a formal announcement. Pawlenty, meanwhile, denied rumors over the weekend that he was planning to dump Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau as his runningmate. He said they will again run as a team next year.

P2008: Former Vice President Al Gore (D-TN) tells Time magazine there is "close to a zero-percent chance" he will ever again run for office. Gore is also getting ready to launch Current TV, a liberal cable TV network aimed at a younger, hipper audience.

UNITED NATIONS: It appears President Bush is getting read to make a controversial recess appointment of the bombastic John Bolton as the US Ambassador to the UN -- after it appeared questionable whether or not Bolton had the votes to win confirmation. If Bush carries through on the threat, that would allow Bolton to serve in the post until January 2007 without a Senate vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 8.01.05 |


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