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BLOG ARCHIVE: DECEMBER 2008.

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

BLAGO APPOINTS BURRIS TO SENATE, LEADERSHIP VOWS TO REJECT APPOINTMENT; SENATE GOP THREATENS TO BLOCK FRANKEN FROM BEING SEATED.

ILLINOIS. Embattled and recently arrested Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) has appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris (D) to fill the US Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. Burris, age 71, has previously been an unsuccessful candidate for US Senate (1984), Governor (1994, 1998, 2002) and Mayor of Chicago (1995). Burris was also the first black elected to statewide office in Illinois. Blagojevich said he filled to vacancy because the state Burris 1984legislature failed to act over the past three weeks to adopt a law requiring a special election to fill the seat. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued a statement on behalf of all sitting Senate Democrats reaffirming their previous threat that they would refuse to seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich, as any selection by him would be seen as "tainted." Senate Republicans also back the Democratic stance. Later in the day, Obama issued a statement: "Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a Governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Gov. Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it." Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) has previously stated that he would not certify any Blagojevich appointment, but his office now concedes he may lack the legal authority to block the appointment as his certification is viewed as a mere ministerial act. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) praised the selection at the Blagojevich press conference. Rush said Burris was needed in the Senate, as there are currently no blacks in the new Senate. Senator-designate Burris, meanwhile, has been making the rounds on network news. He is vowing that he will fight to be seated.

[Ron's note from his perspective as an attorney: Burris and Blagojevich may ultimately win this fight. In the Adam Clayton Powell case, the US Supreme Court said there are reasonable limits to a chamber's ability to deny seating someone. Unless they can show Burris unqualified to serve, or directly implicated in the scandal, the Senate may be unable to refuse him the seat. Blagojevich as Governor clearly retains the legal authority to appoint someone, regardless of how politically questionable the action. Further, Burris or the Governor could bring a legal action for a writ of mandamus to force White to certify his appointment. As the certification is a ministerial act not validly requiring discretion on the part of the official, White can be forced by a judge to issue the certification. In the end the only way the Senate may be able to "block" Burris is by delaying his seating long enough to put sufficient public pressure on him to voluntarily step aside. However, as Burris is clearly at the end of his political career and likely seeking only to serve as an interim placeholder, Burris may simply not care about public perceptions as he never plans to face the voters again on a ballot. And, FYI, this button is from Burris' 1984 race -- and I liked the irony today of his old slogan.]

MINNESOTA. Humorist Al Franken (D) now holds a 50 vote lead over US Senator Norm Coleman (R). Close to 1350 previously rejected absentee ballots are currently being reviewed, but both sides expect those to widen Franken's current lead. US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) suggested on Tuesday that the Senate should provisionally seat Franken in January, subject to the outcome of any litigation expected to be filed by Coleman. The US Senate Republicans issued a sharply worded response: "Al Franken is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots. His campaign's actions in the last several days on the issues of rejected absentee ballots are creating additional chaos and disorder in the Minnesota recount. Those actions, coupled with the recent comments by Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who suggests seating someone even if there is an election contest, are unprecedented. Minnesotans will not accept a recount in which some votes are counted twice, and I expect the Senate would have a problem seating a candidate who has not duly won an election." Stay tuned to see who -- if anyone -- is seated on January 5. Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) has previously said he would consider appointing an interim caretaker to fill the seat until the election outcome is resolved.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.31.08 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

EMANUEL FORMALLY RESIGNS HOUSE SEAT; COLEMAN-FRANKEN UPDATE; AND JERSEY CITY MAYOR NEWS.

ILLINOIS. Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D) formally resigned his seat in the United States House of Representatives. The three-term Democrat submitted his letter of resignation to Governor Rod Blagojevich on Monday, making his resignation effective January 2nd. Emanuel was appointed by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as the next White House Chief of Staff. A special election is expected to happen in Spring 2009, and several Democrats have already announced their candidacies. They include State Representatives Sara Feigenholtz and Deb Mell, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, Chicago Alderman Gene Schulter and several others (see Ron's Illinois Page for the full list). The only announced Republican is 2008 GOP nominee and real estate broker Tom Hanson. The CD-5 seat is solidly Democratic.

MINNESOTA. US Senator Norm Coleman (R) -- after publicly criticizing challenger Al Franken (D) for his successful legal push to have 1,346 absentee ballots counted which were accidentally disqualified in error on election day -- is now demanding that an additional 654 rejected absentee ballots from other counties also be tallied. NBC News, however, says that these 654 absentee ballots were rejected for reasons other then the clerical mistakes involving the other 1,346 ballots. NBC reported that the 654 ballots are mainly absentee ballots submitted by voters who voted in person on election day, returned ballots where the name on the absentee envelope doesn't match the name of the requesting voter, and ballots where the voter signatures did not match. The Franken campaign did not agree to allow the 654 additional absentee ballots to be counted. Franken currently leads by 46 votes -- but the 1,346 absentee ballots (once they tabulated by January 5) are expected to extend Franken's lead because they mainly come from heavily Democratic counties. As Franken is expected to be certified the winner when the state canvassing board meets next week, Coleman's campaign is already vowing to challenge the certification in court.

NEW JERSEY. The May 2009 race for control of New Jersey's largest city is in full gear. Jersey City Mayor Jeremiah Healy (D) is seeking re-election to a second full term. Announced Democratic challengers include State Assemblyman and former City Council President L. Harvey Smith and former State Assemblyman Lou Manzo. Manzo lost narrowly to Healy last time around. The only announced Republican candidate is former Jersey City Mayor two-time gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler. Healy sits well-positioned for re-election, with over $1 million dollars cash on hand, he was also a major early backer of Barack Obama -- whereas most of the New Jersey political establishment had backed Hillary Clinton during the primaries. The May 2009 elections are nonpartisan. If no candidate receives over 50%, a runoff election will take place with the top two candidates.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.30.08 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CONDI RICE SAYS '08 WAS NOT REFENDUM ON BUSH; IL LT GOV SAYS BLAGO WILL BE IMPEACHED; RNC CHAIR CANDIDATE IN HOT WATER FOR "BARACK THE MAGIC NEGRO" SONG.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION: Speaking on CBS News on Sunday, Secretary of State Condi Rice explicitly said she didn't believe the 2008 elections was in any way a referendum on President Bush as "he was already re-elected in 2004" and wasn't running this year. Rice also said the American public will soon "start to thank this president for what he's done ... [because] he has delivered policies that are going to stand the test of time."

ILLINOIS: Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn (D) on Sunday predicted that Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) will be impeached by February, and a special election to fill Barack Obama's open US Senate seat will likely occur in June 2009.

RNC CHAIR: Chip Saltsman -- former Tennessee GOP Chair and former Huckabee for President campaign manager -- is drawing fire from within his own party for distributing a CD disc to RNC members which featured the "Barack the Magic Negro" parody song. Saltsman called it "light hearted" and "good humored." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich disagreed and blasted it: "This is so inappropriate that it should disqualify any Republican National Committee candidate who would use it. There are no grounds for demeaning [Obama] or for using racist descriptions." Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis, another RNC Chair candidate, said distributing the song was "in bad taste." Incumbent RNC Chair Mike Duncan, who is seeking re-election, said he was "shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us in the right direction." By contrast, RNC Chair candidate Ken Blackwell -- a conservative African-American -- dismissed the whole incident as being caused by "hypersensitivity."
Daily Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook Ron - 12.29.08 | Permalink |

CHRISTMAS EVE NEWS UPDATE.

With the holidays upon us, we're going to take a few days off from posting updates. If the thread gets too long, we'll post a new open thread, but otherwise the next news update will be on Monday. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa.

STATE BOARD GIVES FRANKEN 48 VOTE LEAD AFTER RULING ON ALL CHALLENGES; EMANUEL HAD MINIMAL CONTACT WITH BLAGO; BIDEN SAYS NO EARMARKS.

MINNESOTA. As reported yesterday, the Minnesota Canvassing Board has now reviewed and ruled upon all challenged ballots in the US Senate race between humorist Al Franken (D) and incumbent Norm Coleman (R). With all of those ballots now disposed of, Franken leads by 48 votes. Franken's lead is expected to widen once the roughly 1,600 absentee ballots mistakenly invalidated in the original count are tabulated, as ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Coleman's only remaining hope for victory is to succeed in his court challenge to throw out 133 "lost" Franken votes that he believes were wrongly counted twice. The state board previously rejected Coleman's arguments and ruled the 133 votes were valid and had not been counted twice.

BLAGOJEVICH. CNN reported that an internal report compiled by the Obama transition team shows that President-elect Barack Obama was interviewed by the office of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as part of Fitzgerald's criminal probe into embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D). An internal report compiled by the Obama Transition Team concludes that neither President-elect Obama nor his aides -- including incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- had any "inappropriate" contacts with Blagojevich or his staff. The report states that there is "no indication of inappropriate discussions with the governor or anyone from his office about a 'deal' or a quid pro quo arrangement in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy." Emanuel apparently had only one direct phone call with Blagojevich, shortly after being tapped for his new post, and was largely pro forma in nature. As Fitzgerald's office apparently has recordings of all the Blagojevich phone calls during the relevant period of time, most media sources presume the Obama account is truthful as it will be easily subject to verification.

ECONOMY. Vice President-elect Joe Biden has pledged that there will be no earmarks in the stimulus plan that he and President-elect Barack Obama are proposing to re-energize the economy.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.24.08 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

FRANKEN ON VERGE OF MN RECOUNT VICTORY; PALIN DISPUTES McCAIN CAMP'S CLAIMS.

MINNESOTA. According to Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota Canvassing Board will certify that humorist Al Franken (D) has apparently defeated US Senator Norm Coleman (R) by roughly 48 votes. The newspaper reviewed an advance "draft copy" of the Board's official report. The new unofficial numbers include most of the allocated votes, but not those from some unresolved ballot challenges. Franken's campaign has declared victory. So has Coleman's campaign, as they maintain the state board wrongly counted roughly 133 "missing" Franken votes twice, which would mean Coleman edged Franken by about 85 votes. "Their lead is not real," said a statement issued by the Coleman campaign. The Board's tally does not include the approximately 1,600 absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected that the Supreme Court last week ordered to be counted before the final certification. Observers expect Franken will benefit more than Coleman from those votes, based upon where they were cast. The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments Monday from the Coleman campaign that perhaps 130 ballots from DFL strongholds were counted twice. Franken's attorney maintains there was no double-counting of votes. All of the counting is expected to finish by December 31.

McCAIN VS. PALIN. Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) said her biggest regret during the 2008 campaign was not doing more news interviews. Palin said that the McCain campaign did not allow her to do many interviews. Palin said she was grateful for the opportunity to run with John McCain and did not want to argue with his advisors about campaign strategy. These comments come after months of visible tension between the Palin and McCain campaign staffs. Recently, the Arizona Senator said he would not necessarily support Palin if she ran for the GOP nomination in 2012. A bit of trivia: several recent party nominees did not back their runningmates in later runs. 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry backed Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic Nomination over his former runningmate John Edwards. 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore backed Howard Dean for the 2004 nomination over his former runningmate Joe Lieberman. Not surprisingly, former President George H.W. Bush endorsed his son over his former runningmate Dan Quayle for the 2000 GOP nomination.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.23.08 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

BIDEN TO PLAY ACTIVE ROLE IN W.H. DECISIONS; CLINTON DEBT DROPS; MN RECOUNT CONTINUES.

SHORT-TAKES. OBAMA: Vice President-elect Joe Biden told ABC News on Sunday why he agreed to be Barack Obama's runningmate four months ago. "I said, 'I don't want to be picked unless you're picking me for my judgment. I don't want to be the guy that goes out and has a specific assignment. ... I want a commitment from you that in every important decision you'll make, every critical decision, economic and political, as well as foreign policy, I'll get to be in the room.'" Obama agreed to those terms ... CLINTON: Hillary Clinton's campaign debt is down to just $6.4 million. Her campaign has only 16 creditors, with Mark Penn being one of the largest ones. She is racing to pay down the debt before taking office as Secretary of State, a role that prohibit Clinton from personally raising money for her campaign committee ... MINNESOTA: The Coleman-Franken recount will continue this week. Based upon the current count, and information being circulated by both camps, it looks as if Franken will win by roughly 50-80 votes when everything is finished. Coleman is already contemplating a lawsuit to challenge the results of the recount ... RON: And, yeah, it's me posting this again. I'm back from Utah -- and Vin is stranded by the weather unable to write anything for today.
Daily Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook Ron - 12.22.08 | Permalink |

WEEKEND NEWS UPDATE.

FRANKEN LEADS COLEMAN BY 251; BLAGO "DYING TO SHOW HOW INNOCENT" HE IS; OBAMA TAKES A HOLIDAY.

MINNESOTA. US Senator Norm Coleman (R) lost his lead on Friday as the recount continued. Humorist Al Franken (D) moved into a 251 vote advantage as of the end of the day's count. Franken's challenges to purported Coleman votes were heard earlier in the week. The State Canvassing Board is now completing the Coleman challenges to purported Franken votes -- meaning that this phase of the recount will only increase Franken's lead. In other good news for Franken, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the 1,600 disputed absentee ballots -- valid ballots initially disqualified incorrectly for alleged flaws -- must also be counted. The bottom line: Franken appears heading to a likely win in the recount. Coleman's campaign has vowed to fight the contest in the courts if they do not prevail in the recount. Speaking of Coleman and courts, the Senator and his wife this week each retained separate criminal defense attorneys to deal with corruption allegations that wealthy businessman and longtime Coleman friend Nasser Kazeminy tried illegally to funnel him $75,000 related to a business deal. According to Fox News, the FBI refused to confirm or deny that Coleman is the target of a corruption probe.

ILLINOIS. Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) made brief remarks at a press conference on Friday in which he claimed he was totally innocent of the federal corruption charges for which he was arrested last week. "I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong. I'm not going to quit a job that people have hired me to do ... I am dying to answer these charges. I am dying to show you how innocent I am ... I have on my side the most powerful ally there is, and it is the truth," said Blagojevich. Considering the details of the wiretapped phone calls recorded by the feds, it seems hard to square the Governor's denials with the facts revealed to date. Democratic and Republican leaders in the state were united in their calls for Blagojevich to resign. "He is duty-bound to step aside under these perilous times and circumstances," said Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn (D). "We heard 'fight, fight, fight' instead of 'resign, resign, resign,' said State Senator Matt Murphy (R). Later in the day, Balgojevich issued 22 gubernatorial pardons. No word yet as to whether the Gov was able to monetize them -- possibly to finance his criminal defense legal team.

OBAMA. Having completed his entire Cabinet selections, Barack Obama and family leave on Saturday for a week-long holiday vacation in Hawaii.
Daily Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook Ron - 12.20.08 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

COLEMAN LEADS FRANKEN BY ONLY FIVE VOTES; SOLIS, KIRK ARE FINAL CABINET PICKS; HOEKSTRA RETIRES; INOUYE LEADS LINGLE FOR '10.

MINNESOTA. CNN reported that Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) is already exploring making an interim appointment of a caretaker to fill US Senator Norm Coleman's (R) seat if the race is not decided by the January 5, 2009, swearing-in date for the next Congress. The recount is continuing and both Coleman and challenger Al Franken (D) are talking about bringing court challenges if each is not declared the winner. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman currently leads by just five votes as of Thursday evening. The newspaper now projects -- based upon the state canvassing board's rulings on challenged ballots -- that Franken will likely win by approximately 90 votes when the recount is completed.

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama on Friday will name Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA) as the next Labor Secretary and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to be US Trade Representative. Retired Admiral Dennis Blair has been tapped to become the new Director of National Intelligence. Obama has yet to name a new CIA Director, likely signalling that current Director Michael Hayden may continue serving for a few more months before being replaced.

MICHIGAN. Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R) announced this week he will not seek re-election in 2010. Hoekstra said he has yet to decide if he will run for Governor in 2010 or simply retire from politics. State Representative Bill Huizenga (R) -- a former Hoekstra aide -- immediately announced his candidacy for the open CD-2 seat. Term-limited State Senator Wayne Kuipers (R) is also considering either seeking the CD-2 seat or running for Governor in 2010.

HAWAII. A new Research 2000 poll shows US Senator Dan Inouye (D) holding an eleven-point lead over his strongest possible GOP challenger for 2010. Inouye leads term-limited Governor Linda Lingle (R) by a vote of 53% to 42%.
Daily Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook Ron - 12.19.08 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

GOP CONGRESSMAN TO BE TRANSPORTATION SECY; BROWNBACK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT (AGAIN); OBAMA MAKES CONTROVERSIAL CONSERVATIVE PICK FOR INAUGURAL INVOCATION.

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama is set to name retiring Congressman Ray LaHood (R-IL) to be the next Secretary of Transportation. LaHood -- a GOP centrist who worked well with colleagues on both sides of the aisle -- came to national fame for presiding over President Bill Clinton's impeachment debate in the House. Obama will also name Mary Schapiro as new Securities & Exchange Commission Chairwoman. Schapiro -- currently CEO of Wall Street's self-regulatory Financial Industry Regulatory Authority -- previously served as Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair during the Clinton Administration. Also, the Wall Street Journal reports that UC-Berkeley college professor Harley Shaiken and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are purportedly the two finalists for the Labor Secretary spot.

KANSAS. US Senator Sam Brownback (R) will formally announce that he will not seek re-election in 2010. Brownback -- an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination for President in 2008 -- announced two years ago he intended to honor his original two-term term-limits pledge. He is also expected to soon announce his candidacy for Kansas Governor. Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) is term-limited. Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh (R) is already an announced candidate for Governor, and Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson (D) -- a former State GOP Chair -- is also expected to run. Congressman Jerry Moran (R) is already an announced candidate for Brownback's open Senate seat. Other possible Senate candidates include Congressmen Todd Tiahrt (R) and Dennis Moore (D), Governor Sebelius, and recently ousted Congresswoman Nancy Boyda (D).

INAUGURATION. Pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at President Obama's inauguration ceremony. Warren, who hosted a fall forum in which Obama and McCain participated during the campaign, was a vocal supporter of California's Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage. Others with roles in the swearing-in ceremony include singer Aretha Franklin, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, poet Elizabeth Alexander, the San Francisco Boys and Girls Choirs, and the legendary civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery. The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign quickly denounced the Warren selection as "a genuine blow" to the GLBT movement. Here is how Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic sees the move: "From experience, one can presume that the decision to invite Rick Warren was made because (a) Obama likes the guy, and (b) he knows it would send a message to groups like the HRC, and to conservative Christians who might be wary of the new president. Not so much pandering as it is Obama's deft manipulation of the politics of symbolism. Obviously, Obama disagrees with Rick Warren on important issues. He has said so, many times, and publicly. And he agrees with him on other important issues. And ignoring something like Warren, a mainstream figure who commands the respect of million of Americans, would be foolish. Obama's message is: Rick Warren is a part of Obama's America, too."
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.18.08 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

VILSACK TO BE AGRICULTURE SECY; CONGRESSMAN JACKSON ASSISTED FED INVESTIGATION OF BLAGO FOR NEARLY 3 YEARS; REID ENDORSES CAROLINE KENNEDY.

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama is scheduled to announce the nomination of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to be the next Agriculture Secretary. Vilsack was briefly a candidate for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination, but withdrew well before the Iowa caucuses and endorsed Hillary Clinton. In related news, Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) has declined Obama's invitation to become the next US Trade Representative, a Cabinet-level post. Instead, Becerra decided he wants to serve in his newly elected role as Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

ILLINOIS. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) had apparently been volunteering information to federal authorities investigating Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) since at least early 2006. He purportedly told the feds that Blagojevich had tried to shake him down in 2002-03 for $25,000 to have Jackson's wife appointed state lottery director. Jackson also reported info to federal agents on other illegalities involving the Governor. In fact, it is now reported that the US Attorney's office gave Jackson a "heads-up" on Monday afternoon to let him know Blagojevich would be imminently arrested -- as they were aware Jackson had just met that day with Blagojevich. Jackson's office issued a written statement Tuesday evening in an attempt to clarify his involvement with the federal prosecutors: "As a responsible citizen and elected official, Congressman Jackson has in the past provided information to federal authorities regarding his personal knowledge of perceived corruption and governmental misconduct. This was completely unrelated to the current federal investigation regarding the U.S. Senate appointment. And it is absolutely inaccurate to describe the Congressman as an informant."

NEW YORK. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told a Las Vegas Sun columnist that he has already spoken with New York Governor David Paterson (D) and urged him to select attorney Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat.
Daily Report by Ron Gunzburger - 12.17.08 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

SEN SALAZAR TO BE INTERIOR SECY, CHICAGO SCHOOL CHIEF TO BE EDUC SECY; CAROLINE KENNEDY SEEKS NY SEN VACANCY; ELECTORAL COLLEGE OFFICIALLY ELECTS OBAMA.

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama is set later this week to nominate US Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) to be the next Interior Secretary. Progressive Democrats had been pushing for Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to be appointed Interior Secretary -- but Salazar comes from the centrist Blue Dog wing of the party. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) will select someone to fill Salazar's Senate seat -- and the frontrunners include Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, outgoing State House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Ken Salazar's brother Congressman John Salazar. In other news, Obama will announce Tuesday that Chicago School Superintendent Arne Duncan -- a close friend of Obama -- will be the next Secretary of Education. CNN is also reporting that Time magazine's Jay Carney will become Vice President-elect Joe Biden's Communications Director.

NEW YORK. Attorney and author Caroline Kennedy -- daughter of President John F. Kennedy -- has officially informed Governor David Paterson (D-NT) that she would like be considered for Hillary Clinton's soon to be vacant U.S. Senate seat.

P2008. It's official: Barack Obama has officially been certified to become the next President of the United States by the Electoral College. Electors met on Monday to cast the ballots which legally decide the winner. In the official tally, Obama won 365 electoral votes to Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) 173 electoral votes.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.16.08 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

McCAIN WON'T PLEDGE TO BACK PALIN IN 2012; OBAMA FILLS HUD SPOT; BUSH MAKES SURPRISE IRAQ VISIT, IS PELTED WITH SHOES.

P2012. Speaking to ABC's This Week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he isn't sure whether he would support his former runningmate -- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin -- if she was a candidate for the GOP nomination for President in 2012. McCain pointed out that there are a lot of young Governors in the country who would be good candidates, among others. "Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again -- my corpse is still warm, you know," said McCain.

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former New York City Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Donovan is also an ex-Clinton staffer.

IRAQI FAREWELL. President George W. Bush made a surprise farewell visit to Iraq on Sunday. At a press conference in the prime minister's palace inside of Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, an Iraqi reporter threw both of his shoes at the President. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stepped forward to block the flying shoes, and Bush ducked but was not struck by either shoe. Throwing shoes at someone, or sitting with the bottom of a shoe facing another person, is considered a serious insult among Muslims. As the reporter was wrestled to the ground and dragged out of the room, he yelled "This is a farewell, you dog ... You killed the Iraqis." Bush later joked about the incident: "Let me talk about the guy throwing his shoe. It's one way to gain attention. It's like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It's like driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers."
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.15.08 | Permalink |

WEEKEND OPEN THREAD.

FREE SPEECH ZONE. The bipartisan Minnesota State Canvassing Board unanimously orders local election officials around the state to open and count the 1,600 absentee ballots submitted which were erroneously disqualified as defective during the original count. The mistakes were found during the hand recount ... Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) filed a rather long-shot legal action in the Illinois Supreme Court to have Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) declared temporarily unable to perform his duties as Governor. The clause is typically meant to be used in case of physical incapacity. Blagojevich gave no indication Friday he was thinking of resigning, despite growing pressure even from his allies ... Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has withdrawn her name from consideration for appointment to Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat ... Congressman John Salazar (D-CO) withdrew his name from consideration for the US Agriculture Secretary post in the new Cabinet.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.13.08 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

HAWAII & OHIO US SENATE PREVIEWS FOR 2010; DASCHLE TAPPED FOR HHS.

HAWAII. US Senator Dan Inouye (D), 84, made clear on Thursday he will be a candidate for a ninth term in two years. "Make no mistake, I am a candidate for re-election in 2010. I am calling upon my friends and supporters to once again stand with me," said Inouye in his statement to CQ Politics. Former Congressman Ed Case (D) -- who challenged US Senator Dan Akaka (D) in the 2004 primary -- told CQ he is looking to run again for office in 2010, but not against Inouye. Case confirmed he supports Inouye, and is instead looking to run for either the open gubernatorial seat or one of the state's two US House seats. Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D) and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D) are both possible candidates for Governor -- with Abercrombie appearing more likely to run. Hirono and Case both lost runs for Governor in 2002. Unless term-limited Governor Linda Lingle (R) decides to challenge Inouye -- and right now there are no overt signs of it -- he looks safe for 2010.

OHIO. US Senator George Voinovich (R) appears vulnerable in 2010, according to two new polls. A Quinnipiac poll shows that only 54% of Republicans favor the centrist Voinovich for re-election, which could encourage a primary challenge. A generic Democrat would virtually tie Voinovich 35-36. Potential Democrats looking to challenge Voinovich are Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich, a two-time Presidential candidate, raised over $2.4 million for his relatively competitive primary and general election races in 2008. Despite his national fundraising network, Kucininch is not a favorite among state party leaders. Fisher appears to be the early establishment favorite.

OBAMA CABINET. As expected, President-elect Barack Obama named former US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle will also serve as the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform. University of Texas professor Jeanne Lambrew will serve as Deputy Director of that office.

A NOTE FROM RON & VIN. Ron will be on a ski vacation in Utah next week, but we'll still try to post daily updates here -- albeit short ones.That way Ron won't need to edit much ... and political junkies can still get their daily fix here. POSTSCRIPT FROM RON: I received a few emails and saw the posted comments essentially asking "Why go to Utah? Aren't we boycotting Utah because of the LDS support of Prop 8?" I'd note that Salt Lake County voted for Obama over McCain (by a margin of roughly 300 votes in the final certified total -- the first Dem to win there in decades). I'd also note that Summit County, where I'm staying (and spending my money), voted for Obama over McCain by a lopsided 18-point margin. So I say yes, boycott the businesses tied to the LDS Church (like the newspaper, etc.) and the conservative parts of the state. But don't boycott all of Utah. Finally, I'd note Utah has three out gay state legislators -- versus none ever here in my home state of Florida.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.12.08 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

JACKSON JR IMPLICATED IN BLAGO SCANDAL; JINDAL OUT OF '12 RACE (WELL, MAYBE); RNC CHAIR DUNCAN RUNS AGAIN; NEXT ROUND OF CABINET PICKS.

ILLINOIS. President-elect Barack Obama called on embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) to resign on Wednesday, one day after the Governor's arrest on federal corruption charges. Obama has joined the call for a special election to determine who fills his vacant US Senate seat. In related news, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) was identified as the mystery "Senate Candidate #5" named in the Blagojevich indictment. Candidate #5 -- Jackson -- allegedly offered the Governor up to $1 million in campaign contributions for the appointment. Jackson held a press conference denying any wrongdoing and stated that the US Attorney's office told him he is not a target of any investigation. "I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing," said Jackson. He also called on Blagojevich to resign. However, Jackson mentioned he needed to confer with his attorney before meeting with the FBI to give "my insight" into the discussions he and his intermediaries had with Blagojevich. Jackson met with Blagojevich for a lengthy period of time less than a day before the arrest. Despite his claims to the contrary, Jackson sounds like a potential future target depending on what else surfaces. In related news, Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging Obama to keep US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on the job.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK. "He's sad, surprised and innocent," said Governor Rod Blagojevich's attorney Sheldon Sorosky.

P2012. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) announced Wednesday that he has "no interest" in running for President in 2012. Jindal explained it would be very hard to put together a successful 2012 effort while trying to run for re-election in 2011. However, a few hours, Jindal seems to have backed away a bit from his absolute dismissal of making a run in four years. "I think anybody who is even thinking of running would be well served to roll up their sleeves and support our new President. I told our people: 'It doesn't matter whether you're Republican, Democrat or independent, it doesn't matter whether you voted for him or not, President-elect Barack Obama is our President." Note the reference to anyone "thinking of running for President."

RNC RACE. In a surprise, Republican National Chairman Mike Duncan announced he will seek re-election the post. Duncan -- a Bush appointee as RNC General Chairman who took over as Chair when Mel Martinez resigned in 2008 -- points to recent GOP wins in Georgia and Louisiana as evidence that he is the right person to lead the Republican Party into the next election cycle.

OBAMA CABINET. All media networks are reporting that physicist and Nobel Prize winner Steve Chu will become the next Energy Secretary. As previously reported by Politics1, former New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson will become the next EPA Administrator. Former US EPA Administrator Carol Browner will become take charge of the soon-to-be-created Cabinet-level "energy czar" post (official title: National Energy Policy Coordinator). The nomination of former US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) as Health Secretary will also be made official in Thursday's Cabinet announcements.

CIVIL UNIONS. PolitickerNJ reports: New Jersey's Civil Union Review Commission has called on the state government to enact same-sex marriage after finding that civil unions do not result in equal treatment. "After eighteen public meetings, 26 hours of oral testimony and hundreds of pages of written submission from more than 150 witnesses, this Commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children," read the first paragraph of its report. New Jersey's GLBT organization, Garden State Equality, is already lobbying members of the state legislature to act on marriage equality but some Democratic legislators are thinking twice being that it is an election year. Governor Jon Corzine, who is seeking re-election in 2009, has stated that he will sign the legislation if it comes to his desk.

EDITORIAL (MOVIE REVIEW). Harvey Milk made history as the first openly gay man to be elected to a major public office in America. Yes, other gay candidates were elected in the years before Milk -- but all had initially been elected as closeted candidates. Milk defied the odds of prejudice by running from the start as an out candidate and winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors -- equal to a combined city/county council -- on his fourth run for office in 1977. He paved the way for those like Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin and many others. Milk was one of the most fascinating characters in modern American political history. Actor Sean Penn plays Milk in the new movie Milk, which is playing in select theaters nationwide. It is an amazing movie and well worth seeing. [Ron's note: I also though the movie was great (no surprise) ... and the Milk campaign pin I posted is from his first failed run in 1973.]
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.11.08 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ARRESTED ON FED CORRUPTION CHARGES; FORBES, BLACKWELL SWAP ROLES; NY SENATE NEWS; VIRGINIA GOV POLL.

ILLINOIS. Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested at his home at 6:00 am on Tuesday by FBI agents. Blagojevich was charged with two counts of corruption and bribery, although more counts appear likely. Among the allegations were claims that he tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama's US Senate seat to the highest bidder, threatened to withhold funding for a children's hospital in return for the hospital's failure to give him political contributions, and trying to force a newspaper to fire staffers critical of his administration by threatening to withhold state funds from another business owned the the newspaper's parent company. Blagojevich on the federal tapes wished for an ambassadorship or a Presidential Cabinet post, or a high-paying job for his wife. The charges were filed by US Attorney Peter Fitzgerald. US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has called on Blagojevich to resign immediately and called for a special election to take place, calling the US Senate seat appointment "tainted." On the federal wiretaps, the Governor said the US Senate seat was "a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing ... I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." Blagojevich also expressed annoyance with Obama when a transition team official relayed a message that Obama would be most appreciative if Blagojevich named senior Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to the seat. On November 11 the FBI recorded a phone call in which an angry and financially-strapped Blagojevich said Obama was a "motherfucker" and said he wouldn't appoint Jarrett to the vacancy . Blagojevich went on to complain that Obama was "not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them." MSNBC reported that Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the one who reported Blagojevich's wrongdoings to the US Attorney -- which explains why Jarrett promptly withdrew her name from consideration. Blagojevich was released on $4,500 bail on Tuesday afternoon and his passport was seized. Despite the arrest, Blagojevich still retains the full power to sign legislation and appoint a replacement to the Senate seat. Many of the politicos who had expressed interest in the appointment have rapidly distanced themselves from the Governor. A few of the hopefuls have already called on Blagojevich to immediately resign. The Legislature is expected to meet early next week in emergency session to change state law to require a special election be called to fill Obama's open seat. Blagojevich had been the target of a federal corruption probe for the past three years.

RNC RACE. Former Presidential candidate Steve Forbes will serve as the Chair of former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's campaign for Republican National Chairman. Forbes was an unsuccessful candidate for President in 1996 and 2000, and is editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine. Blackwell was national chairman of Forbes' 2000 campaign.

NEW YORK. Congressman Peter King (R) has announced that he is seriously considering a run for US Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat in 2010. King is going to start meeting with Republican leaders around the state. In related news, actor Fran Drescher is asking for serious consideration for an appointment to the seat.

OBAMA TRANSITION. Barack Obama and Joe Biden met on Tuesday with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the environment, global warming and the economy. Obama is pushing for a plan to create green jobs throughout America and wants Gore to advise those plans. Gore again confirmed he is not interested in any formal position in the Obama Administration. CNN also reported that Senator Clinton had a private dinner meeting with outgoing Secretary of State Condi Rice on Monday night to discuss the job and different policy issues. In related news, a new CNN poll shows 79% of Americans approve of Obama's transition performance.

VIRGINIA. - A new Rasmussen poll gives a snapshot of the possible general election matchups, depending on which Democrat wins the nomination:
Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) - 37%, State House Democratic Caucus Chair Brian Moran (D) - 41%.
McDonnell (R) - 39%, State Senator Creigh Deeds (D) - 39%.
McDonnell (R) - 41%, former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe (D) - 36%.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.10.08 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

THE SUPREMES DISMISS CHALLENGE TO OBAMA'S CITIZENSHIP; FOSSELLA SENTENCED TO JAIL; RNC RACE UPDATE; MTP/CNN SHOW NEWS.

OBAMA. The US Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal from a New Jersey lawyer who questioned Barack Obama's eligibility to be President. The Plaintiff alleged Obama had dual British-American citizenship at birth -- Obama's father was Kenyan by birth, which at the time made him a British national -- and was not thus a "natural born citizen." Various gadfly conservatives have been trying court challenges to void the election outcome. Another lawsuit by Pennsylvania attorney and frequent candidate Phil Berg is also moving through the federal courts. Berg alleges Obama was not even born in Hawaii, was possibly born in Kenya, and possibly surrendered his US citizenship when he lived with his US mother in Indonesia as a pre-schooler. Berg's action was dismissed in federal court, and the dismissal was upheld at the court of appeals.

NEW YORK. Congressman Vito Fossella (R) was sentenced on Monday to five days in jail for a drunk driving conviction during the summer. Fossella, a Staten Island Republican, did not seek re-election after revelations of having a second family in Virginia after being arrested on DUI charges. New York City Councilman Mike McMahon (D) won the open seat last month.

RNC RACE. Chip Saltsman, campaign manager for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's 2008 Presidential campaign, has formally entered the race for Republican National Committee Chair. Saltsman is also a former Tennessee Republican Chairman. Saltsman enters a crowded field which include former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson, Michigan Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Other potential candidates include former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle and Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer.

MEET THE PRESS. David Gregory will become the new host for NBC's Meet the Press. He takes over for Tom Brokaw, who served as temporary host this year following he death of host Tim Russert. On CNN, John King will host a new show every Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm, replacing Wolf Blitzer's Sunday program.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.09.08 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CONGRESSMAN JEFFERSON LOSES IN LOUISIANA; KILROY WINS OH-15; FIRST VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN IN CONGRESS; PREZ AND ILLINOIS POLLS; AND TWO SEMI-DUELING EDITORIALS.

LOUISIANA. In a major upset, Congressman Bill Jefferson (D) was denied re-election to a tenth term on Saturday. The incumbent was indicted on federal bribery, racketeering and other corruption charges in 2006, but still won re-election two years ago. The charges remain pending, as Jefferson's lawyers have filed a lengthy series of motions in a so-far unsuccessful attempt to get the charges dropped or reduced. Jefferson lost by a 50% to 47% vote to attorney Anh Quang "Joseph" Cao (R), who becomes the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to Congress. The little-known, 41-year-old Republican previously ran for the state legislature last year as an independent. This overwhelmingly Democratic and majority African-American district is sure to draw a big field of Democrats in 2010, where Democrats will view CD-2 as the top pick up target in the nation. In the 4th District, physician John Fleming (R) defeated District Attorney Paul Carmouche (D) to keep the open seat in Republican hands. Fleming won by a surprisingly close margin -- just 356 votes. An interesting aside: President-elect Obama had recorded a radio spot for Carmouche, but did not offer any endorsement on behalf of Jefferson.

OHIO. One month after the election ended, we finally have a winner in the open CD-15 race. The AP on Sunday declared Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) the winner over State Senator Steve Stivers (R). With the absentee and provisional ballots finally counted from Frankin County, Stivers' 600 vote lead disappeared. The final numbers: Kilroy won by a little over 2,000 votes. The seat was open due to the retirement of Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R).

POLLS. A new Newsweek poll shows that 61% of Americans believe that President George W. Bush will be remembered as a "below average" President. Acording to a CNN/Opinion Research Poll, 64% of Americans approved of President-elect Barack Obama's handling of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. In the same poll, 49% of Americans approved of President George W. Bush's handling of the attacks.

ILLINOIS. A new poll is out by Rasmussen on the succession to President-elect Obama's vacant US Senate seat. Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) leads with 25%, followed by Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) at 23%, State Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tammy Duckworth (D) at 21% and Congresswoman Jan Schaskowsky (D) at 7%. Jackson leads among Democrats at 36%. Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), who will make the decision of whom to appoint, has recently seen a mild boost in his poor approval ratings. Blagojeveich -- seemingly the target of various ongoing federal corruption probes -- is one of the most unpopular governors in the nation with a 15% approval rating.

OBAMA. President-elect Obama nominated retired Army General Eric Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs Secretary. The selection of Shinseki, a decorated war hero, was widely praised by veterans groups. Shinseki lost his job as Army Chief of Staff during the Bush Administration over disagreements he had with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over Iraq war strategy. Shinseki becomes the second Japanese-American to hold a Cabinet post.

NEW YORK. PolitickerNY is reporting that US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), newly appointed Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, is meeting with attorney Caroline Kennedy this week to discuss her interest in succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton to the US Senate. The seat was previously held by her late uncle Robert Kennedy. Clinton has been nominated to become the next US Secretary of State.

VIN'S EDITORIAL. Louisiana has come so far. Congratulations to the people of Louisiana for the progress they make every single day. Louisiana is the state in which David Duke once proudly served in elected office. The state which was also the home of the large number of KKK chapters. The state which was engulfed in corruption, from the days of Huey Long to the modern-era corrption of Edwin Edwards and Bill Jefferson. The state once had a national reputation for corruption, racism, incompetence and hatred. In 2007, Congressman Bobby Jindal was elected Governor of Louisiana, winning with over 54% of the vote in an 11-way race. No other candidate earned more than 20% of the vote. Jindal became the first non-white candidate to win statewide in Louisiana. Now, in an overwhelmingly African-American district, voters in Louisiana's 2nd District elected Joseph Cao to become the first Vietnamese-American ever elected to the US Congress. Louisiana voters are rejecting cronyism, corruption and racism. The state once run by Huey Long has come a long way. This is only possible in a country as great as the United States of America. Congratulations Louisiana, for putting competence, honesty and ethics first.

RON'S EDITORIAL. I join Vin in praising the victory of Mr. Cao. Just as I wanted to see unethical politicos like Ted Stevens, Don Young and Randy Cunningham bounced by voters for corruption, I openly felt the same way about Bill Jefferson. So, as to departing sleazy pols like Stevens, Jefferson and Renzi, I say "good riddance." However, as an aside ... I take issue with Vin as to populist Huey Long's true legacy. Huey may have tolerated people around him being money corrupt, but Huey (and his brother Earl) were never interested in money for themselves. Neither became rich in office, nor was either ever accused of improperly pocketing even a dime. If anything, the Kingfish was a "power corrupt" bully at times. That aside, it's more important to remember that Huey Long used his power and vast popular appeal to achieve much good. He was the first Governor in the nation who ensured free textbooks for school kids, built toll-free bridges across the Mississippi to help farmers bring goods to market, expanded state health care for the poor, broke the corrupt oil companies' decades-old stranglehold over the state legislature, and unusual for his day he even chartered his Share Our Wealth Society political clubs in both black and white communities in the South. He was one of the earliest and most vocal supporters in Congress of "old age pensions" (what FDR later launched as Social Security). And Huey was an unapologetic advocate for redistribution of wealth (with a progressive income tax rate of 90% on multi-million dollar annual incomes in the Depression era 1930s) and for establishment of the 40-hour work week (long before it became law), just to name a few more things. I would suggest that the more Vin and others on the left learn about Huey Long, the more they will see him as an amazing, complex (but rather flawed) leader and a true progressive martyr.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.08.08 | Permalink |

WEEKEND NEWS UPDATE.

LOUISIANA CONGRESSIONAL RACES FINISH SATURDAY; CAROLINE KENNEDY INTERESTED IN NY SEN SEAT; MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT DEADLINE POSTPONED.

LOUISIANA. Saturday will see the two final federal races of the 2008 cycle: two congressional elections in Louisiana. In CD-2, nine-term Congressman Bill Jefferson (D)is running for re-election against attorney Joseph Cao (R). Jefferson -- under federal indictment since 2006 on corruption and bribery charges -- is a safe bet to win in this heavily Democratic district. The race in CD-4 to replace retiring 10-term Congressman Jim McCrery (R) is a closer contest. Caddo District Attorney Paul Carmouche (D) is up against former Webster Parish Coroner John Fleming (R). This race has attracted a lot of national money, and Fleming appears to be favored. Both contests were delayed since the primary season due to Hurricane Gustav's impact on these two districts.

NEW YORK. Many news sources are reporting that attorney Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, is the frontrunner for Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat. CNN is reporting that Kennedy has already spokent twice to New York Governor David Patterson (D) and confirmed her interest in the appointment.

MINNESOTA. CNN reports that the state canvassing board's unofficial deadline of this Friday will be postponed due to 133 missing ballots from the city of Minneapolis. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann said Thursday that, due to the "extraordinary circumstances," the city now has until December 16 to locate the votes. Also causing turmoil was the discovery this week of 171 uncounted votes -- but apparently valid ballots -- cast on election day in Ramsey County. Senator Norm Coleman (R) leads comedian Al Franken (D) by roughly 200 votes in the official count -- but there are roughly 6,500 challenged ballots to be decided by the canvassing board, which will decide the race. Both camps each claim they are leading once the challenged ballots are included.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.06.08 | Permalink |

FRIDAY NEWS UPDATE.

PALIN LEADS '12 GOP FIELD; NEVADA LT GOV INDICTED; KBH, MATTHEWS EDGE CLOSE TO '10 RACES; NY DEMS TRADE STATE SEN CONTROL FOR KILLING GAY MARRIAGE BILL; ... AND MORE.

P2012. A new Zogby poll for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination shows Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the front with 24%, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at 16%, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 10%, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani at 5%, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 3%.

NEVADA. Less than a month after announcing his 2010 candidacy against US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki (R) was indicted by a state grand jury on fraud charges. He is accused of two counts of misappropriation and falsification of accounts by a public officer and two counts of misappropriation by a treasurer. The charges stem from allegation that Krolicki -- in his former role as State Treasurer -- circumvented reporting rules in handling $6 million money earned by the state from its contracts with a company involved in the Nevada College Savings Program -- even though there are no counts claiming any money ever went missing. Krolicki denied the charges as "false" and claims they are politically orchestrated by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) to derail his run against Reid. Cortez Masto denies she ever discussed the investigation with Reid. "Mark my words, I will walk away from these proceedings with my head held high, having clearly and unequivocally been found innocent of these allegations," said Krolicki, who vowed to remain in office and in the Senate race. Krolicki's successor initially detected problems with the handling of the college fund, and a state legislative committee last year also determined irregularities occurred.

PENNSYLVANIA. MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews (D) is getting closer to making a run for US Senate in 2010 against Senator Arlen Specter (R). Matthews has been making dozens of calls to county chairs throughout Pennsylvania. He also made a trip to Camden County, New Jersey, this week to talk with strategists involved in nearby Philadelphia politics. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D) is also reportedly interested in running for Senate seat. Specter is expected to also face a competitive primary challenge from the right, as he did in 2004. US Senator Bob Casey (D) carried the state by 17 points in 2006, and the Obama/Biden ticket carried the state by 11 points this year. In 2004, the centrist Specter successfully peeled away a large number of Dem voters -- even distributing bipartisan Kerry/Specter campaign signs.

TEXAS. US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) is one step closer to becoming a candidate for Texas Governor. The 65-year-old Senator launched a website this week, as part of her new exploratory effort. Hutchinson is looking to go up against incumbent Governor Rick Perry in 2010 GOP primary. Perry's response to a possible Hutchinson challenge: "Bring it On." Hutchison has also hinted she may resign her seat -- if she decides to enter the race -- to become a full-time gubernatorial candidate. In 2006, Hutchison openly talked about challenging Perry before deciding to wait until 2010.

NEW YORK. Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith has won the support of three dissidents Democrats who flirted with backing the Republicans. The move gives the Democrats control of the State Senate for the first time since 1965. Smith als becomes the first African-American to serve as New York Senate President. In a trade-off to win the support of the dissidents, they forced Smith to agree not to allow the bill to legalize same-sex marriage to come to a floor vote in 2009. Governor David Paterson (D) has already indicated he would sign the bill into law if it is approved by the NY Legislature.

EPA. Several sources are telling Politics1 that Lisa Jackson -- the Chief of Staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) -- is one of three finalists being vetted to become the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson spent 16 years at the EPA before joining the staff of then-NJ Governor Jim McGreevey (D) in 2002. Corzine named her as NJ EPA Commissioner in 2006, a post she held until last week when she became Corzine's Chief of Staff. Jackson also serves on Obama's transition team.

LOUSIANA. US House races in Districts 2 and 4 will take place on Saturday. Full analysis tomorrow.
Daily Report by Vin Gopal and Ron Gunzburger - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.05.08 | Permalink |

THURSDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CONGRESSWOMAN HANGS UP ON OBAMA; DUNCAN TO DECIDE BY MONDAY; JACKSON JR. JOCKEYS FOR SEN FRONTRUNNER; RENELL CANDID MIC MOMENT; OBAMA HIGH APPROVALS; BROWN CONCEDES.

I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M SPEAKING TO THE PRESIDENT. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) literally hung-up the phone on President-elect Barack Obama, believing it was a prank call from a radio station. Ros-Lehtinen then hung up on future White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, thinking it was also a prank. Finally, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Howard Berman (D-CA) called to say that Obama was really trying to reach her. She had Berman tested by making him recount the two calls and Berman passed. An amused Obama finally connected with the Congresswoman later in the day.

RNC CHAIR'S RACE. Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan will decide by Monday whether or not he decides to seek re-election to the post of Chairman. Duncan has been with the RNC for eight years, becoming the party's Treasurer in 2001 and General Counsel in 2002. President Bush asked Duncan to take over the Chairmanship in 2007. Even if Duncan decides to run again, he will face tough competition from several challengers who already have the backing of numerous key RNC members.

JACKSON JR. GARNERS MORE SUPPORT. Sources tell us that the Progressive Democrats of America PAC will formally announce their endorsement of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) for Barack Obama's vacant US Senate seat. The PAC, chaired by several members of the House Progressive Caucus, has a membership of over 150,000 progressive Democrats nationwide. Jackson also won the endorsement of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. A petition launch has started at www.jessejacksonjrforsenate.com with organizers throughout the country lobbying for Jackson's appointment to the seat. Illinois Governor Rod Blagovech is expected to decide who will fill the Senate seat before Christmas.

CANDID CAMERA OF SORTS. Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) was caught in another open mic situation in his discussion of prospective Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Rendell went in detail about how the Arizona governor would be perfect for the job because she has "no life." Maybe the Pennsylvania Guv, who made several negative character attacks on Obama during the primary race, is bitter that he didn't receive a Cabinet post. At one point during the primary campaign, Obama had to call Rendell and ask if everything will be okay with them during the general election because he was being so negative. Rendell also stated that he didn't believe Obama could win Pennsylvania or the Presidency -- but later sidestepped those comments. Rendell later apologized for the insensitive remarks about Napolitano.

HIGH APPROVALS. A new CNN poll shows that 75% of Americans approve of the Obama Cabinet selections. Thats 16 points higher than George W. Bush's picks in 2000.

DGA CHAIRMANSHIP. The Democratic Governors' Association elected Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer as their new chair. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was elected as Vice Chair.

CALIFORNIA. Retired USAF officer Charlie Brown (D) has conceded the CD-4 race for Congress against State Senator Tom McClintock (R). The Republican won by approximately 1,500 votes.

YOUR PICKS? Several seats are about to open up. Governorships in New Mexico (Richardson) and Arizona (New Mexico) will become vacant in six weeks. Also, a US Senate seat in Illinois (Obama) is vacant with one more in New York about to become vacant. We already know Joe Biden's seat will be filled by a close Biden friend. A few House seats are about to become vacant in California (Becerra) and Illinois (Emanuel). Other seats are very likely to open up. So ... who are your picks to succeed these prospective appointees?
Daily Report by Vin Gopal - Email Vin - Facebook Vin - 12.04.08 | Permalink |

WEDNESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

CHAMBLISS WINS IN GEORGIA; SEN MARTINEZ RETIRES; CONGRESSMAN BECERRA OFFERED US TRADE REP POST; OBAMA CONSIDERING APPOINTMENT OF FIRST OUT GAY CABINET MEMBER.

GEORGIA. US Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) defeated former State Representative Jim Martin (D) in Tuesday's runoff by a surprisingly wide vote of 58% to 42%. Polls had shown the race to be much closer than the lopsided 16-point win. Martin's defeat ended the Dems chances of reaching 60 Senate seats this year.

FLORIDA: As was rumored for months, US Senator Mel Martinez (R) announced Tuesday he will not seek a second term in 2010. Martinez said he wants to return to Florida and have more time with his family. Had he run again, polls showed Martinez was highly vulnerable -- and appeared likely to even face a competitive primary challenge. The retirement may also be good news for the GOP, as the open seat may be easier to defend. With the seat open, a long list of Florida politicos are looking at the race. Former Governor Jeb Bush (R) is reportedly interested. If Bush runs, he would likely have an unobstructed run for the nomination. However, if Bush passes on the race, potential GOP candidates include Attorney General Bill McCollum, former Florida House Speakers Allan Bense and Marco Rubio, and Congressmen Vern Buchanan, Adam Putnam and Connie Mack. Putnam is also considering a run in two years for the open State Agriculture Commissioner post. Dems looking at the Senate seat include State CFO Alex Sink, State Senator Dan Gelber, and Congressmen Alan Boyd, Kendrick Meek and Ron Klein. Sink had planned to announce Tuesday that she would not run for the Senate seat against Martinez -- but canceled her announcement to reconsider the race.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION. Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA) has been offered the US Trade Representative job -- a Cabinet-rank position -- in the incoming administration, according to CQ Politics. Becerra was elected Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus just last month. Obama is also set to announce on Wednesday that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will become the new Commerce Secretary. In other news, the Wall Street Journal reported that labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell -- who is openly gay -- is being vetted for Labor Secretary. WSJ said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius are also being vetted for the Labor post, with Sebelius also being vetted for Education Secretary. Sebelius is an almost-certain new Cabinet member, but it is unclear in what capacity. Former Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus is also among those being considered for Education Secretary.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 12.03.08 | Permalink |

TUESDAY NEWS UPDATE.

GEORGIA RUN-OFF DAY; FRANKEN CONSIDERING SENATE APPEAL; CLINTON'S OPEN SENATE SEAT; JEB BUSH SOUNDS LIKE '12 HOPEFUL; GOP GEN-NEXT'ERS WANT PARTY REFORM.

GEORGIA. Tuesday is run-off day in the US Senate race between incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R) and former State Representative Jim Martin (D). Polls show the race close, but seem in agreement that Chambliss holds a slim advantage. However, all pollsters qualify their results by adding that a special election is very hard to poll because it is so hard to predict who will turn out on election day. Republicans apparently botched the traditional absentee ballot campaign by missing key deadlines, eliminating a usual GOP edge. Dems hope to produce a higher-than-expected black turnout to "give Obama" another Senate seat. However, Chambliss still appears likely to prevail.

MINNESOTA: After the Minnesota Canvassing Board unanimously voted to not count nearly 1,000 disqualified absentee ballots, humorist Al Franken (D) is considering bypassing a court challenge. The state board ruled that any challenge to the disputed ballots should be had in the courts. However, the US Constitution allows a federal candidate to appeal the appropriate congressional chamber as the "Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members." According to Politico, Franken is considering making a direct Senate appeal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) said he had "great concern" over the board's decision to not count the disputed ballots. Reid said the concern should be to "ensure that no voter is disenfranchised" -- although his statement implied the review should first be had in Minnesota courts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said "the recount process in Minnesota [should be] handled by Minnesotans, not DC politicians."

NEW YORK. With Hillary Clinton (D) leaving the US Senate in January to become the next Secretary of State, eyes are already focusing on possible replacements. Governor David Paterson (D) alone gets to make the decision as to who will fill the vacancy. In recent days, he's suggested the best possible choice would be either a woman, a Hispanic or someone from Upstate New York. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D) is being prominently mentioned, as are Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, attorney Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. Some have even suggested former President Bill Clinton as a possible replacement for his wife as New York's junior Senator. Only two US Presidents served in Congress after leaving the White House -- John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson -- so that option appears unlikely.

P2012. Forget the concept of so-called electoral "Bush Fatigue." At least, that's what former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) would like you to take away from his new interview with the conservative NewsMax website. Bush urged Republicans not to abandon their core conservative principles: "We can’t be Democrat-lite. We can’t just ‘get along.’ We have to actually be proposing solutions to what appear to be intractable problems as it relates to education, health care, infrastructure. Across the board there are ways that we can show that we are truly on the side of the people that are concerned about the future of the country, without abandoning our principles." As to the mechanics of rebuilding, Bush said "it means voter registration. It means turn-out operations. It means recruiting candidates that look like the population we’re trying to attract to our cause. We can’t ignore large segments of our population and expect to win. We can’t be the ‘old white-guy’ party. It’s just not going to work: the demographics go against us in that regard," said Bush. He also said the party needs to have a zero tolerance policy for political corruption within its own ranks. Bush certainly is sounding like a potential White House candidate for 2012.

GOP. Plugged-in younger Republican activists are organizing to "modernize and strengthen" the Republican Party. The new group -- Rebuild the Party -- is seeking to emulate the Democratic strategy of recent years. They insist the next RNC Chair must commit to "narrowing the digital divide," widening the congressional battleground by running candidates for all 435 House seats, and ensuring at least 40% of all GOP congressional candidates are under age 40. Otherwise, the group worries the Dems will maintain a significant edge in online organizing and fundraising, and keep their lopsided 2-to-1 advantage among younger voters.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 12.02.08 | Permalink |

MONDAY NEWS UPDATE.

OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM; OHIO CONGRESSIONAL RACE BACK IN STATE COURT; RNC CHAIR RACE NEWS.
Note: Vin is traveling, so you've got me back for a day or two. - Ron

OBAMA CABINET. President-elect Barack Obama will officially announce his foreign policy team on Monday in Chicago. Among the nominations being announced: Hillary Clinton as the new Secretary of State, retired USMC General Jim Jones as National Security Advisor, and the retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. It is not yet known if the Monday announcements will also include Dr. Susan Rice as the United Nations Ambassador and Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary -- or whether those will be announced on a later date.

OHIO CD-15: State Senator Steve Stivers (R) on Friday won his federal appeal of a US District Court ruling. The lower court ruling had instructed the Franklin County election officials to revisit and count roughly 1,000 absentee and provisional ballots that had initially appeared defective. The US Court of Appeals ruled that any decisions related to the counting of these votes was governed by state law and must be decided back in the state courts. Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) would likely defeat Stivers if the Franklin County ballots are found to be valid. Otherwise, if they are found to be bad, Stivers will defeat Kilroy by 594 votes (with all votes now tallied in all the other counties within the district). Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) said she will not appeal, but urged the Ohio Supreme Court Justices to "quickly affirm their previous clear guidance 'to liberally construe election laws in favor of the right to vote,' so as not to disenfranchise approximately 1,000 Ohio voters with a hypertechnical interpretation of Ohio law."

RNC CHAIRMANSHIP. More problems for Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer's likely campaign for RNC Chair. A letter of support for Greer from Governor Charlie Crist has not quelled growing questions about RPOF spending first reported here on Politics1. Greer has blamed many of the questionable expenditures charged to the RPOF American Express card on the outgoing Florida House and Senate leadership. Former Senate President Ken Pruitt and former House Speaker Marco Rubio both had been issued RPOF credit cards. Meanwhile, Republican activists are raising questions about other alleged expenditures including a $10,000 registration fee Greer paid to attend a conference on climate change; $46,000 for a posh London hotel, 5-star restaurants, limousines and department stores during Crist's summer trade mission to the UK; and over $3,600 to a premium cigar store for cigars purportedly delivered to Greer's home. Large RPOF donors are also concerned about a hotel bill at the posh Breakers in Palm Beach during a birthday celebration for Crist earlier this year when Greer stayed in a $2,000-a-night suite and charged an additional $2,000 to the room for food and alcohol. The big ticket expense was the nearly $700,000 charged for the use of charter jets. RPOF officials insist all expenditures were legitimate and directly related to party activities. Greer's allies also note the Republicans fared surprisingly well in this year's state legislative races, losing only one seat despite the Obama wave and heavy Democratic spending. Some RPOF executive committee members are demanding a breakdown of flights, destinations and other costs. Greer has promised a "corporate level" audit of RPOF books -- but critics want a forensic audit that will reveal who paid for what and why. A least one party donor is contemplating a lawsuit to force a forensic audit. Greer is a close friend and ally of Crist. Declared candidates for RNC Chair next month include current RNC Chair Mike Duncan, South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson, Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle, and former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman. Greer promises to make a decision on the RNC Chair race within the next few weeks.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 12.01.08 | Permalink |

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