ARCHIVE: DECEMBER 2008.
BLAGO APPOINTS BURRIS TO SENATE, LEADERSHIP VOWS TO REJECT APPOINTMENT;
SENATE GOP THREATENS TO BLOCK FRANKEN FROM BEING SEATED.
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 legislature
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.
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.]
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
Vin - Facebook
Vin - 12.31.08 | Permalink
EMANUEL FORMALLY RESIGNS HOUSE SEAT; COLEMAN-FRANKEN UPDATE; AND
JERSEY CITY MAYOR NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.30.08 | Permalink
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.
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."
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.
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."
Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook
Ron - 12.29.08 | Permalink
EVE NEWS UPDATE.
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.
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.
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
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
Vin - Facebook
Vin - 12.24.08 | Permalink
FRANKEN ON VERGE OF MN RECOUNT VICTORY; PALIN DISPUTES McCAIN
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
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.23.08 | Permalink
BIDEN TO PLAY ACTIVE ROLE IN W.H. DECISIONS; CLINTON DEBT DROPS;
MN RECOUNT CONTINUES.
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.
Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook
Ron - 12.22.08 | Permalink
FRANKEN LEADS COLEMAN BY 251; BLAGO "DYING TO SHOW HOW INNOCENT"
HE IS; OBAMA TAKES A HOLIDAY.
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.
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.
Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook
Ron - 12.20.08 | Permalink
COLEMAN LEADS FRANKEN BY ONLY FIVE VOTES; SOLIS, KIRK ARE FINAL
CABINET PICKS; HOEKSTRA RETIRES; INOUYE LEADS LINGLE FOR '10.
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.
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
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.
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%.
Report by Ron Gunzburger - Facebook
Ron - 12.19.08 | Permalink
CONGRESSMAN TO BE TRANSPORTATION SECY; BROWNBACK ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
(AGAIN); OBAMA MAKES CONTROVERSIAL CONSERVATIVE PICK FOR INAUGURAL
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.
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).
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."
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.18.08 | Permalink
TO BE AGRICULTURE SECY; CONGRESSMAN JACKSON ASSISTED FED INVESTIGATION
OF BLAGO FOR NEARLY 3 YEARS; REID ENDORSES CAROLINE KENNEDY.
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.
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."
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.
Report by Ron Gunzburger - 12.17.08 | Permalink
SALAZAR TO BE INTERIOR SECY, CHICAGO SCHOOL CHIEF TO BE EDUC SECY;
CAROLINE KENNEDY SEEKS NY SEN VACANCY; ELECTORAL COLLEGE OFFICIALLY
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.
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.16.08 | Permalink
WON'T PLEDGE TO BACK PALIN IN 2012; OBAMA FILLS HUD SPOT; BUSH
MAKES SURPRISE IRAQ VISIT, IS PELTED WITH SHOES.
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,"
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
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."
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.15.08 | Permalink
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.
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Vin - 12.13.08 | Permalink
& OHIO US SENATE PREVIEWS FOR 2010; DASCHLE TAPPED FOR HHS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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Vin - 12.12.08 | Permalink
JR IMPLICATED IN BLAGO SCANDAL; JINDAL OUT OF '12 RACE (WELL,
MAYBE); RNC CHAIR DUNCAN RUNS AGAIN; NEXT ROUND OF CABINET PICKS.
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.
OF THE WEEK. "He's sad, surprised and innocent," said
Governor Rod Blagojevich's attorney Sheldon Sorosky.
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."
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.
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
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.
(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.]
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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GOVERNOR ARRESTED ON FED CORRUPTION CHARGES; FORBES, BLACKWELL
SWAP ROLES; NY SENATE NEWS; VIRGINIA GOV POLL.
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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%.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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SUPREMES DISMISS CHALLENGE TO OBAMA'S CITIZENSHIP; FOSSELLA SENTENCED
TO JAIL; RNC RACE UPDATE; MTP/CNN SHOW NEWS.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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JEFFERSON LOSES IN LOUISIANA; KILROY WINS OH-15; FIRST VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN
IN CONGRESS; PREZ AND ILLINOIS
POLLS; AND TWO SEMI-DUELING EDITORIALS.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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CONGRESSIONAL RACES FINISH SATURDAY; CAROLINE KENNEDY INTERESTED
IN NY SEN SEAT; MINNESOTA SENATE RECOUNT DEADLINE POSTPONED.
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
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.
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.
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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.
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%.
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
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.
US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R) is one step closer to becoming
a candidate for Texas Governor. The 65-year-old Senator launched
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.
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.
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.
US House races in Districts 2 and 4 will take place on Saturday.
Full analysis tomorrow.
Report by Vin Gopal and Ron Gunzburger - Email
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HANGS UP ON OBAMA; DUNCAN TO DECIDE BY MONDAY; JACKSON JR. JOCKEYS
FOR SEN FRONTRUNNER; RENELL CANDID MIC MOMENT; OBAMA HIGH APPROVALS;
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
CHAIRMANSHIP. The Democratic Governors' Association elected
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer as their new chair. Maryland
Governor Martin O'Malley was elected as Vice Chair.
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.
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
Report by Vin Gopal - Email
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CHAMBLISS WINS IN GEORGIA; SEN MARTINEZ RETIRES; CONGRESSMAN BECERRA
OFFERED US TRADE REP POST; OBAMA CONSIDERING APPOINTMENT OF FIRST
OUT GAY CABINET MEMBER.
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.
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.
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.
by Ron Gunzburger - 12.03.08 | Permalink
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
by Ron Gunzburger - 12.02.08 | Permalink
OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM; OHIO CONGRESSIONAL RACE
BACK IN STATE COURT; RNC CHAIR RACE NEWS.
Vin is traveling, so you've got me back for a day or two. - Ron
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.
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."
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.
by Ron Gunzburger - 12.01.08 | Permalink