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December 16-31, 2003

by Ron Gunzburger
Publisher, Politics1.com

12.31.03

STATE OFFICIAL SWITCHES PARTIES IN PENN. HaferTerm-limited Pennsylvania State Treasurer Barbara Hafer switched from Republican to Democrat this week, after 20 years as a GOP elected official. In fact, Hafer had originally been a Democrat until the local Republican leaders in her county convinced her to switch in the mid-1970s -- a move that began the nurse and community activist on her career in politics. After serving in local office, Hafer was elected State Auditor in 1988 and re-elected in 1992. In 1996, she was elected to the first of her two terms as State Treasurer. Hafer was the GOP nominee for Governor in 1990 -- and briefly flirted with running for Governor again in 2002. Ultimately, she passed on the race but endorsed Democrat Ed Rendell for Governor over her own party's nominee. Since then, Hafer has contributed money to the 2003 re-election campaign of Philadelphia Mayor John Street (D) and Presidential candidate John Kerry. Why the switch now? Because Hafer -- a social liberal and fiscal conservative -- appears to be positioning herself to challenge conservative US Senate Rick Santorum (R) in 2006. "The Senate is a good place to be, and I have a lot of concerns about the [federal] budget," explained Hafer. Replied Santorum: "I am disappointed that Treasurer Hafer would abandon the Republican Party that has endorsed her for statewide office on five different occasions."

McGreevey 2001NJ GOVERNOR MAY FACE PRIMARY. Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ) let it be known that he is considering a Democratic primary challenge to Governor Jim McGreevey in 2005. Andrews and McGreevey have long been at odds with each other, with their difference escalating in recent months over financial issues. "People are asking me to run and I have not turned them down," said Andews in a Tuesday radio interview. Later, Andrews tried -- but failed -- to clarify his remarks with other reporters: "My focus is not on 2005. It is on winning elections at every level in 2004." Notice that, when pressed, he never said he was not going to run against McGreevey. The two men ran against each other for Governor in 1997, with McGreevey winning the primary but losing the general election. McGreevey returned four years later and was elected Governor in the 2001 open seat race. Several leading GOP hopefuls are also looking at the '05 race.

UPWARD DEMOTION OR DOWNWARD PROMOTION? We're not sure what term best describes the career move taken Ron Ross (R-NE), 49, who was appointed by Governor Mike Johanns (R) last week to the vacant State Treasurer position. State Treasurer Lorelee Byrd (R) announced her resignation last month after entering a guilty plea to a criminal ethics charge. Here's the interesting twist: Ross is giving up his $107,000-a-year career service job as State Health and Human Services Director to accept the $60,000-a-year elective office post as State Treasurer. "I've been contemplating a new course in my public service to Nebraska for quite some time, and I appreciate the Governor giving me this opportunity, " he explained. Ross -- who takes office on January 6 -- will serve the remaining three years left in Byrd's term. Before entering government in 1999, Ross served as a health care company CEO and had previously been a hospital administrator.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and P2004: Dean.

12.30.03

OOPS, HE DID IT AGAIN. DeanForget all the media pundits who predicted in recent weeks that Howard Dean's fundraising for this quarter would lag quite a bit behind the amazing $14.8 million he raised in the previous quarter. Likewise, ignore those "insiders" who confidently stated in news articles that Wesley Clark's solid fundraising would give him the highest total for the quarter. That's because -- once again -- Dean will report the highest fundraising total for 4Q 2003 out of all the Democrats in the Presidential contest. As of Tuesday afternoon, Dean was already past the $14.4 million mark for the reporting period -- and he still has over a day to go to break his total from 3Q. According to the Clark campaign, they will also show a very strong quarter and will have collected somewhere "in the range of $10-12 million." John Kerry and Dick Gephardt expect to report amounts of somewhat under $4 million for the quarter -- and the other Dems will all lag even further behind in the money hunt. I know that not a single primary vote has been cast ... but is it too early to start speculating about who will be Dean's VP runningmate?

WANTED: PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE. The American Party -- which 20 years ago had ballot status in dozens of states -- failed to qualify for the ballot anywhere with it's 2000 Presidential ticket. Even more embarrassing, Bob Boyd -- the party's nominee for 2004 -- quit the race less than a month after being nominated because he suddenly realized how much time was involved in trying to run a national race for President. From what we understand, the VP nominee also quit the ticket. Well, this small, very conservative, Christian party is seeking replacement nominees. If you're interested, plan to attend the AP's January 9-10 national committee meeting. At least three folks -- including 1996 Presidential nominee Diane Templin and 2000 Presidential nominee Don Rogers -- are now seeking spots on the ticket.

HE'S NEVER HEARD OF YOU, EITHER. Here's yet another installment in our continuing Willie Carterseries on the more obscure Presidential candidates. Meet Willie Carter (D-TX), who is making his fifth run for President in 2004. Carter is a US Air Force veteran, former aircraft mechanic, union member, former businessman, and Pentecostal church deacon. He's also a father of nine children. From his website bio, his political experience seems entirely limited to his membership in the Gardena Valley Democratic Club of Southern California (and his frequent runs for President). In 2000, Carter captured just 30 votes (17th place) in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Carter filed federal paperwork in 2001 announcing he is again a candidate in 2004. Carter's message is entirely a theocratic one, vowing to "rebuild America God's way." Here's how the candidate explains it: "Now, for our nation to continue to succeed, we must not leave off the success formula. SUCCESS FORMULA: GOD + CREATION + LOVE + MANKIND = GOOD SUCCESS." Calling himself a "Vandidate", Carter is driving around the nation by van, tyring to meet with voters are various churches and other places. His favorite campaign events are "meet-the-candidate" breakfasts at various Denny's restaurants. Carter has qualified for a spot on the 2004 New Hampshire primary ballot.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Alabama, California, Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, P2004, P2004: Dean, P2004: Clark, and P2004: Other Democrats.

12.29.03

HE'S NEVER HEARD OF YOU, EITHER. Blake AshbyPolitical news is slow during the holidays ... so today we continue our series on the more obscure Presidential candidates with a profile of 39-year-old business entrepreneur Blake Ashby (R-MO). This candidate proudly notes that he already achieved his first professional goal: he became a self-made multi-millionaire before age 40. Ashby says the stock market crash of 2000, however, dropped his net worth below the $1,000,000 mark. That's why he figures he's got nothing to lose by making a run for President in 2004. Ashby -- who has already qualified for the New Hampshire and Missouri primary ballots -- vows he will spend what it takes to get on additional state ballots and get his message out about where the GOP needs to go. Ashby earned his millions by co-founding an independent communications provider in the mid-1990s and then selling the company to a wealthy competitor. He is running for President because he believes President Bush has ignored the party's traditional commitment to fiscal responsibility by running up a $400 billion deficit. "Deficits are stealing from our children, and not a way to run a government ... We're historically the party of a balanced budget, small government and a free market," said Ashby. He also takes issue with the increasing role social conservatives have been playing in the GOP: "It's time for freedom-loving moderates to take [control of the party] back." He explains that he is not running to defeat Bush -- whom he says he respects -- but is ultimately running "because the Republican primaries are our one chance to let the party know how important our traditional Republican values are." He supports medical marijuana, opposes unfunded mandates "such as the current 'no child left behind' rhetoric", advocates federal tax reform, supports strengthening environmental protection laws, opposes deficit budgets, believes "our first and best line of national defense has always been democratic capitalism [and] free trade", and wants to return nearly all control over education to the state/local levels. Think of Ashby as the Morry Taylor of 2004 ... but with even less media coverage.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecitcut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, American Samoa, P2004, P2004: Dean, P2004: Clark, P2004: Other Republicans, P2004: Independents, P2004: Libertarian Party, P2004: Green Party, P2004: Constitution Party, Calendar, and News Links.

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12.26.03

DEAN NOW LEADING JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE. Independent polls continue to pile up showing that Howard Dean is now leading the field for the Democratic Presidential Deannomination in just about every key contest state -- even in states with a more conservative electorate. We're not even going to bother with any NH polls today, as Dean holds a landslide lead of around 30-points there. Here are some of the latest poll results from the past week ... OKLAHOMA: Dean-24%, Wesley Clark-21%, Joe Lieberman-9%, and all others each at 4% or less. Lieberman has made OK and AZ key "make-or-break" states for him, so a loss here on February 3rd will be fatal for him. John Edwards is also trying to make a dent here here, so far without results ... ARIZONA: Dean-26%, Clark-15%, Lieberman-9%, Dick Gephardt-7%, John Kerry-6%, and all others at 1% or less. Yet another sign that Lieberman's strategy is failing ... SOUTH CAROLINA: Dean-16%, Clark and Al Sharpton tied at 12% apiece, Edwards-11%, Lieberman-7%, and all others at 3% or less. Lots of second place finishes are nice, but can anybody tell us what is the first state that Clark is actually going to win?... WISCONSIN: Dean-33%, Lieberman-12%, Clark-11%, Gephardt-9%, and Kerry-6%. The primary here is February 17 -- three weeks after NH -- so several of these guys will already be gone by that date ... GEORGIA: Dean-18%, Gephardt-8%, Clark-7%, Sharpton and Lieberman tied with 6% each, and the rest trailing behind. Clark dropped 6 points -- and from first to third -- since the last Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in October. Gephardt dropped 4, while Dean moved up by 11 points. President Bush, meanwhile, continues to lead Dean by a comfortable margin in all national polls of the likely general election match-up. In related news, John Kerry loaned his campaign more than $6 million this week, secured by a mortgage on property he owns, in an effort to revive his failing campaign.

CampbellTOP DEM SENATE PROSPECT SAYS "NO" IN COLORADO. US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) got a great Christmas present this week when his strongest likely opponent announced he would not run for the Senate next year. The 70-year-old Campbell -- a colorful, motorcycle-riding politican and ex-Democrat -- has recently been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Although some statewide polls showed Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) leading Campbell in the Senate race, Udall said he will instead seek re-election to the House in 2004. Udall said that the deciding factor for him was his family -- and that his wife and two children all opposed him making a statewide run. Udall said he is not "leaving the Democrats in a lurch" because there are several other good potential candidates, including former US Senate Gary Hart (D). Hart had previously said he would not run if Udall did, but would consider a return to elective office if Udall opted out of the Senate race.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Political Parties, Jobs, and Calendar.

12.25.03

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM POLITICS1. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Colorado.

12.23.03

NADER SAYS NO TO GREENS. NaderWhile he is not yet ruling out making a fourth run for President in 2004, consumer advocate Ralph Nader this week informed the Green Party's leadership that he will not seek their nomination in next year. Instead, Nader is keeping open the option that he may run as an Independent candidate for President. If Nader takes that route, he would have to secure ballot status for himself in each state. Any ballot status positions that he secured in states with his last run would be reserved for the Green Party's 2004 nominee. If he runs, a Nader ally told the Washington Post that Nader "would run the most serious campaign possible to unseat George Bush" and was concerned that the Greens have no clear strategy for approaching the 2004 elections. On his Presidential Exploratory Committee site, Nader is currently conducting a poll to purportedly determine if he should run at all next year. Dems are likely flocking there to vote "don't run" while Republicans are likely driving up the numbers urging the opposite.

ANSWER: TWO CONVICTED MURDERERS AND ONE OLD SOCIALIST. Peltier, Mumia and BrownnThe Question: Describe the three candidates competing in California's March 2 primary for the Peace & Freedom Party's Presidential nomination (and ballot status). The old guy is Socialist Party-USA's 2004 Presidential nominee Walt Brown, a 78-year-old semi-retired attorney and former Oregon State Senator. The two killers are Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, both cause celebres among the international leftist set. Depending upon whom you believe, imprisoned radical journalist Mumia is either a cop killer or an innocent political prisoner. Likewise for Native American activist Peltier, who is either the murdered of two FBI agents or a political prisoner framed by evil law enforcement officers. Mumia was on death row in Pennsylvania awaiting execution until last year (but a court set aside his death sentence, so now he's "doing life"), while Peltier is serving a life sentence in federal prison but hoping someday for a shot at Presidential clemency. The Mumia and Peltier campaigns seem largely intended to generate attention for their ongoing legal battles for freedom. Brown, on the other hand, is seeking to improve his party's lackluster showings in recent election cycles. The PFP is a fairly small Marxist party that has historically been torn between a democratic socialist faction and a hardcore communist authoritarian faction. To learn more about these three guys -- and the PFP -- click here.

DONATE TO POLITICS1, Give us money and get this book!GET A GREAT BOOK. Here's a great incentive for all you holdouts during our Pledge Drive. The next twenty individuals who make an online donation of at least $50 (or previous donors who give an additional donation that pushes them over the $50 mark) will receive a copy of the very useful book Winning Campaigns Online: Strategies for Candidates and Causes -- a $25 value!! Written by consultants Emi Ireland and Phil Nash -- who won "First Prize" Pollie awards for best Congressional and best State Rep websites in 2002 -- this book helps a campaign understand how to best use the site to convey a message, recruit volunteers, raise funds, use database solutions, conduct GOTV activities, avoid blunders, etc. Just click on the picture of the book to make your donation now (and be sure to include your name and mailing address when you make your donation). Remember, reader contributions make a real difference for small, independent sites like ours!

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Maryland, Missouri, Texas, P2004: Dean, P2004: Independents, and P2004: Green Party.

12.22.03

EMBATTLED CONGRESSWOMAN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT. Karen McCarthyCongresswoman Karen McCarthy (D-MO) announced this weekend that she will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year. Within the past year -- after some embarrassing public incidents -- McCarhty checked herself into an alcohol rehab program and acknowledged she was an alcoholic. Since her return from treatment, McCarthy has continued to act in an erratic and volatile manner -- and her actions have caused a heavy rate of departures from her staff. In recent days, McCarthy came under fire for using campaign money to take a trip to attend the Grammy awards. She also faced recent allegations that she was using government staffers for run her personal errands. In fact -- even before her announcement -- she was viewed as vulnerable enough that she had already drawn two primary opponents and was likely to attract more. "I want to focus on balance in my life. Too often, I've put my career and helping others ahead of my own needs," explained McCarthy of her decision. The seat is heavily Democratic, so it is likely to remain in Democratic hands.

DEAN LEADS IN GEORGIA. A new independent poll released Friday shows that Howard Dean is leading the Democratic field for the March 2nd Presidential primary in that state. The poll -- conducted for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- showed Dean was the only candidate registering support in the double-digits. The numbers: Dean-19%, Dick Gephardt-8%, Wesley Clark-7%, Al Sharpton and Joe Lieberman tied with 6% each, and the rest trailed behind. However, 42% of all respondents said they remained undecided. Since the last AJ-C poll in October, Dean has climbed 12 points and Sharpton rose by 3% -- while Clark dropped six points, Gephardt fell four points, and others also fell back some more.

Ron at the luge trackA GRATUITOUS PLUG. When I was away skiing last week in Park City, Utah, I spent a day over at the Utah Olympic Park. The park was location of several of the 2002 SLC Olympic events -- and is still used as a main training site for several winter sports like luge, bobsled, aerial ski jumping, etc. I participated in the one-day Intro to Luge program (left). To ensure we didn't kill ourselves, we only got to take our three runs down the lower third of the course -- but that was more than sufficient for first timers. I had a really big crash on my second run when I was going near 40 mph -- but only ended up with some bruises. Minutes later on my third run, I had the fastest recorded speed of the day for our group. Highly recommended -- and the guys who run the program help make it a great experience! If you'd like to learn more about trying sliding (luge, skeleton, or bobsled), check it out here. As for me: I'm trying the Intro to Skeleton program next time!

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: California, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Vermont, Politial Parties, P2004: Gephardt, P2004: Kerry, P2004: Kucinich, P2004: Libertarian Party, P2004: Peace & Freedom Party, P2004: Other Republicans, and Jobs.

12.19.03

NADER MAY PASS ON '04 RUN IF DEAN IS DEM NOMINEE. Former Green Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader continues his on-and-off flirtation with making a fourth run for the White House in 2004. Nader has yet to decide if he'll run next year and yet to decide if he'd run as a Green or an Independent if does make the race. However -- in what must be good news to the Democrats -- Nader told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he would probably not run if Howard Dean is the Democratic nominee. "Reading his position papers sounds eerily similar to what we've been saying. He speaks clearly … not in Senate-ese … and projects vigor. We need a macho Democrat," said Nader. Nader has previously expressed strong support for Dennis Kucinich's Presidential campaign, but this is the first time he's praised Dean. Don't think, however, that Nader is a total Dean cheerleader: "Dean's record as Governor is nothing to shout about," explained Nader.

PAGES UPDATED TODAY: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and The Bush Cabinet.

12.18.03

CATCHING UP. It doesn't seem like much happened while we took our short ski vacation in Utah: A US Senator announced his retirement, as did a Congressman ... the US Army captured Saddam Hussein ... a former Governor was indicted on political corruption charges ... a current Governor admits questionable ethics deals and may face impeachment ... candidate filing closed in Illinois for the 2004 primary ... and more. Like we said, a pretty uneventful week.

BREAUX, BEREUTER ANNOUNCE RETIREMENT PLANS. BreauxTwo safe incumbents decided this week to call it quits in 2004. US Senator John Breaux (D-LA) announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election next year. Expect a highly competitive race between the two most likely candidates: Congressmen David Vitter (R) and Chris John (D). Other possible hopefuls being mentioned for the seat include '02 US Senate nominee Suzie Terrell (R), outgoing Attorney General Richard Ieyoub (D) and State Treasurer John Kennedy. In Nebraska, Congressman Doug Bereuter (R) announced Tuesday that he will retire from office next year. Bereuter -- first elected in 1978 -- is the longest serving member of Congress in Nebraska history. He won every one of his races with at least 60% -- establishing this as a fairly reliable GOP seat. Bereuter is reportedly interested in serving as President of the University of Nebraska. Several prominent GOP names are looking at the race, along with two Democrats who had previously announced candidacies against the incumbent.

FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR INDICTED. George RyanEarlier this year, former Governor George Ryan (R-IL) was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his vocal crusade against the death penalty. Ryan -- who did not seek re-election in 2002 -- made the news again Wednesday, but this time it was less flattering. Ryan was indicted on 22 counts of federal political corruption for allegedly taking payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for government contracts and leases while he was Illinois Secretary of State from 1991-99. The charges were not unexpected, as the developing scandal was in the news since shortly before his election as Governor in 1998. To date, 59 former Ryan aides -- including his Chief of Staff -- have already been convicted in the widening scandal.

CT GOV ALSO IN TROUBLE. A growing corruption scandal in Connecticut is starting to threaten the career of Governor John Rowland (R). On Friday, Rowland admitted that a major state contractor and others helped pay for renovations on his summer cottage -- despite his earlier insistence that he had paid for all the work himself. He apologized for the misstatements and turned his financial records over to the US Attorney for review. Rowland's former deputy chief of staff pled guilty earlier this year to federal charges that he took bribes in exchange for steering state contracts to certain companies. Rowland has not been charged with any crimes to date, but some Democratic legislators are already raising the possibility of impeachment hearings. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin Sullivan (D), however, said he met with several legislative leaders and that talk of impeachment appears premature. "This is a very, very grave moment for the state of Connecticut ... we have to proceed a day at a time," said Sullivan. Legislative leaders "should be having a conversation [with Rowland] about resignation," added House Majority Leader James Amann (D). "He knows that he's made a mistake. He's apologized for it ... He appreciates the fact the leadership of the legislature is waiting to see how things go," said Rowland's spokesman to the AP.

PAGES RECENTLY UPDATED: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, Utah, Calendar and Jobs.

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