SSP Daily Digest: 12/1

AK-Sen: The state of Alaska is intervening in the Joe Miller state-level lawsuit over the counting of write-in votes, asking for an expedited ruling. They’d like the whole thing to be over and done with by Dec. 9, so that there’s no delay in seating Alaska’s next (or same) Senator. The state’s filing also, amazingly, says that the court should find for the state “unless Miller provides proof to back up claims of fraud.” Actually provide proof of something?!? Sounds like a bunch of lib’rul elitists with all that emphasis on “facts,” instead, of y’know, common sense.

IN-Sen: Richard Lugar is pretty much daring a tea-partier challenge at this point, gladly painting his own target on his back with his own paintbrush. He was the only Republican up in 2012 who voted “no” on the proposed earmark ban that didn’t pass the Senate yesterday. (Seven other GOPers voted no, but they aren’t up this cycle and are from the already out-and-proud porker side of the party anyway, like Lisa Murkowski and Thad Cochran.) Perhaps most galling to the teabag set, Lugar actually invoked Article I of the Constitution in doing so.

MI-Sen: While everyone waits on Peter Hoekstra to see if he runs, a random rich guy who’s been a big behind-the-scenes donor for the Republicans is making some noises about a 2012 bid against Debbie Stabenow. Tim Leuliette has been “considering” the race and calling around to gauge support. Interestingly, his job until October was CEO of an auto parts distributor, Dura Automotive; wonder how he’ll spin the Obama administration’s auto industry bailout (without which he’d probably be wearing a barrel and selling pencils on a street corner).

WA-Sen: I know everyone here likes maps (especially maps with lots of blue on them), so here’s an interesting one that shows just what any Republican running statewide in Washington is up against: it’s a precinct-by-precinct map of the three Puget Sound counties (King, Snohomish, and Pierce) showing how they voted in the 2010 Senate race. Seattle (which is about 10% of the state’s total vote) has simply become the nut that’s impossible for Republicans to crack; Patty Murray got 82% of the vote there, and lost 1 out of 960 precincts.

LA-Gov: A survey from Southern Media & Opinion Research (mmmmm… smores) shows Bobby Jindal’s popularity coming down to relatively normal levels from its extreme highs back of his initial years, just in time for his re-election bid in 2011. He has a 55% approval, compared with 77% in 2008, and his re-elects are 39/35, not that there’s much of a compelling Democratic bench here anymore to take advantage of those undecided voters. Interesting post-script: the survey was paid for by random rich guy Lane Grigsby, whose individual IEs almost single-handedly defeated Don Cazayoux in LA-06 in 2008.

MN-Gov: After a second day of recounting in Minnesota, nearly 70% of all the votes have been accounted for. The SoS is saying that Mark Dayton is now down 38 votes from the Election Day totals while Tom Emmer is down 1 (and not going to make up that nearly 9,000 vote margin at this rate). Mark Dayton’s team, however, is claiming a net gain of 205 in the recount based on allocation of ballot challenges. Sensing that the recount isn’t doing anything to change the outcome, Emmer’s team is starting to change the topic to post-recount litigation, perhaps focused on allegations that “reconciliation” (matching the number of votes to the number of voters in each precinct) wasn’t properly done. Dayton has raised $1 million so far purely to fund the recount, and Emmer isn’t far behind in fundraising.

VT-Gov: Brian Dubie isn’t looking like a likely candidate for the GOP for 2012, as he’s taken an informal post in the administration of his former foe, incoming Dem Gov. Peter Shumlin. He’ll be the state’s de facto “ambassador” to its big neighbor to the north, Quebec. In comments, doug tuttle has a list of potential other GOP challengers next cycle, with Dem-turned-GOPer state auditor Tom Salmon at the top of the list.

NY-01: It looks like we’re finally getting some movement on the challenged ballots part of the equation in the 1st, which is all that remains to be resolved. The tally will begin today, with slightly over 2,000 ballots to be decided (although both parties, meeting with a local judge, have agreed to withdraw around 200 challenges and proposed another 200 withdrawals — including the notorious challenge to a group of 31 SUNY-Stony Brook students). Tim Bishop’s lead is currently 215 votes, and the majority of the challenges have come from Randy Altschuler’s camp. UPDATE: Based on today’s activity so far, Bishop’s camp is actively pushing the journalistic powers-that-be to call the race. Bishop’s camp says he picked up an additional 20 votes today. There’s also a stack of 162 valid ballots that haven’t been added to the count yet that will add another 12 to Bishop’s lead. Altschuler has only 1,149 challenges remaining, 649 of which are based on residency.

OR-St. Sen.: Ordinarily, a recount in a state Senate race, at this point, would be too far down in the weeds for even our purposes. However, when it has the potential to flip the chamber, it’s worth a mention. The GOP is seeking a recount in SD-3, centered on Ashland in southern Oregon, where incumbent Dem state Sen. Alan Bates beat Dave Dotterrer by 275. It’s outside the auto-recount margin where the state would pay for it, but the cost is only $15K-$25K for the state GOP, so it’s low risk, possibility of high gain: if somehow they turn the result around, it’d drop the chamber to a 15-15 tie instead of the 16-14 current Dem advantage.

Mayors: As far as mayoral races go, Chicago seems to be taking up all the oxygen, but there’s a number of other important ones this year. Denver was already scheduled to be up this year in May, but it takes on new importance with popular incumbent John Hickenlooper about to take over as Governor (at which point the deputy mayor will take over for five months). One candidate with a locally-big name has already announced: state Sen. Chris Romer (son of former Gov. Roy Romer).

Passages: Finally, condolences to the friends and family of Democratic ex-Rep. Stephen Solarz, who represented parts of Brooklyn from 1974 to 1992 and who just died at age 70. Solarz was a major force in foreign policy circles until check-bouncing and redistricting brought his ascendancy to an abrupt end. If you haven’t already read Steve Kornacki’s fascinating profile of Solarz — including his relationship with Chuck Schumer, and the confirmation that, no matter how big a deal you are within the Beltway, all politics is ultimately local — read it now.

196 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 12/1”

  1. Apparently the JFK Library in Boston hosts a New Members of Congress dinner every two years, and I was somehow able to get a ticket to this one. This is part of a four-day event put on by the Kennedy Library and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard (yeah, we like the Kennedys here) that focuses on policy. It isn’t required but a good number of the freshmen are expected to be there.

    I’m making a list of new members that I’d like to seek out tonight…….do you guys have any burning questions for one of the freshmen I can ask for you? And yes, I will absolutely try to get a picture of Frederica Wilson’s hat.

  2. has published its 2010 guide to redistricting. Lots of great info about who is responsible for what, and what the rules are by state (in case you forget whether the backup commission in Indiana also handles legislative redistricting).

  3. I’ll be very surprised if the recount finds Dotterrer up. I’m guessing that was one the GOP expected to win, but Bates overperformed just enough to pull it out.

  4. was one of the best I’ve read in a very long time.  It was like a book I didn’t want to put down as it was well written and his story was so interesting.

  5. The incumbent Democrat, Geraldo Alicea, trails his Republican challenger by a single vote after picking up 3 votes in a recount. He filed a lawsuit today claiming that a ballot cast for him was improperly thrown out. I have no idea what will happen if this ballot gets counted and the race is a tie.

    The district is in southwestern Worcester county and is made up of 5 generally Republican towns and one heavily Democratic mill city (Southbridge.)


  6. start telling Emmer to throw in the towel? I understand that the legal delay could give them the trifecta briefly by extending Pawlenty’s term, but filing a lawsuit when you’re down by more than 8,000 votes is just an abuse of the system. I have to believe it would seriously harm the public image of MN Republicans, not just Emmer, if they encourage him to keep this up.

  7. As I said in the weekly open thread, the Senate’s only independent member, who was elected over US Rep-Elect Jeff Landry by about 500 votes as a Dem in 2007, resigned last week. I said that state Rep. Simone Champagne (D turned R) would be the Reps strongest candidate, and Bobby Jindal-Scott Angelle ally state Rep. Fred Mills would be strongest for the Dems. Well, both parties got their favored candidates. Both said today they will run, and Mills will be running as a Democrat. I had said he was a possible party switched if Champagne did not run. Despite Mills being very conservative, Champagne probably has the upper hand here because she is a Republican and this is one of the districts in LA that has elected Republicans for a while, not just recently. From 1993-2008, it was represented by Republican Craig Romero, Charlie Melancon’s 2004 and 2006 opponent. If Republicans win this seat, which I think is pretty likely, and Sen. John Alario follows through with plans to become a Republican, the Senate would be 22-18 Dem, unless Alario brings pals with him. The special election for this seat, along with Cedric Richmond’s house seat, will be Jan 22.  

  8. I’ve noticed a lot of talk lately about a potential primary challenge to President Obama’s right from outgoing Senator Bayh. I meant to post this the other night when the conversation was in full swing here, but my phone wouldn’t let me. Just something to note, Evan Bayh has been having health problems relating to his stomach recently, I believe. When Obama vetted him for VP in ’08, his team noted he looked sickly, frail, and not up to the task of heavy campaigning. His retirement was spun by himself and the media as a “pragmatic, centrist senator quits politics on account of the endless partisan bickering of Washington” story. It became a tale of the decaying health of the political conversation, and not one about the Senator’s health. Though I’ve heard he’s feeling better lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if his condition influenced his decision not to seek another term in the Senate, and I would be even less surprised if it dissuaded him from taking on the stress of constantly campaigning against an incumbent president. In case anyone is curious, I read this in Game Change by Mark Helprin and John Heilemann. I it about a year ago, so I’m sorry I can’t recall any specifics, but I’m fairly certain they discussed health issues being taken into account when Obama vetted Bayh. A quick Google search yielded nothing, am I misremembering? Does anyone know anything about this?  

  9. Lugar might vote to end DADT. Not sure if Republican primary voters really care too much about that but Murdock or whoever could make some hay about the earmarks for sure though. Lugar’s not acting scared and moving to the right like McCain did, he’s not bowing down to pressure. He’s got my vote in the primary. If he doesn’t end up calling it quits that is. I know he sounds adamant about running but I would not be surprised to see him go out on his own terms. I hope not as I want him to stay on but I would hate to see him end his career losing to a jackass like Richard Murdock, who, as much as I would like to say otherwise, we could likely not beat in a GE unless Bayh ran which will not happen. Ellsworth might be able to keep it competitive, probably in high single digits but I wouldn’t expect a whole lot. Murdock is a Jim DeMint wanabee so be rooting for Lugar, he’s the best we can get.

  10. Jindal will not lose to a Democrat. Not gonna happen. The Dems bench (Caroline Fayard) is in the SoS race. Jindal’s biggest threat is Kennedy, who, according to this poll, is the most popular statewide office holder. If he challenged Jindal, he would pick up much of the support from Democrats (since he was a liberal Democrat for many years), independents dissatisfied with Jindal, and moderate Republicans. I think he will run. He is tired being treasurer, and is very ambitious. If he does not run, business man John Georges could be a strong candidate. In 2007, he did much better than expected in the gov race. However, he lost a lot of political capital with his mayor run this year. He came in 3rd place, after starting out as the front-runner (granted, that was before Mitch Landrieu entered), and switched parties for the third time in 3 years (R-I-D). If he ran for gov, he’d probably switch again to I. However, I think, once Jindal started unloading on him, he’d be destroyed. In 2007, he started out running for gov as the conservative Republican alternative to Jindal. Then when he failed to win support, he tried to get Jindal to run on a ticket with him as Jindal’s LG. When that didn’t happen, he became an independent and ran as a moderate conservative. Then, in 2010, he ran for mayor as the white liberal alternative to Landrieu. He’s Louisiana’s Charlie Crist. Except he never wins anything.  

  11. I meant to put this in my last thread. Ellsworth is thinking of running for the Senate again. He lost his CD this time, so a comeback there against an incumbent may not be easy. He would be a good nominee to have in case the R primary gets bloody and Lugar endorses him or goes write in. Or just if the new R nominee is not liked. Indiana is really not an extreme state, the last very conservative Senator would probably be Quayle and he wasn’t a Tom Coburn either. Bayh Sr. was the last liberal we had as a Senator. Getting back on topic Ellsworth would be a just in case candidate.


  12. So as it turned out, only 25 freshmen chose to attend the Kennedy program this year, down significantly from past years. This is largely due to the Republican nature of the class–there’s not a lot of incentive to go to liberal Boston for a week to be lectured by professors at Harvard in a Kennedy-sponsored program when you’re a conservative Republican from the heartland.

    I was able to meet 13 of the freshmen, including Bod Dold!, who had the best sense of humor of anyone in the building. He and Terri Sewell–who is the personification of Southern hospitality–were chosen by the class to make speeches, and both were very eloquent. Others that I got to talk to were Hultgren, Keating, Bucshon, Griffith, Long, Barletta, Fleischmann, Benishek and both of the Basses. Sadly, there were no Frederica Wilson or Kristi Noem sightings.

    The coolest part for me was meeting Blake Farenthold, who stuck out like a sore thumb but was really a nice guy. He couldn’t believe I had ever heard of him, much less followed his race. We got talking about redistricting and the VRA, and I told him I had drawn a majority-minority, 55% McCain district for him. He then asked me to send it to his office so he could compare it to the one he drew (which is majority-Hispanic, 50/50, and reaches up toward Houston.) That pretty much made my night.

  13. Is the Republican field set, or could there be other, serious, entries? I know there is that county clerk who is flirting with it, but just to get support for an SoS bid.  

  14. According to PPP. Brown is beating every Democrat tested by solid to landslide margins. Its viewed favorable by voters across the political spectrum.  

  15. He announced today that the Senators his fund will target in 2012 are Tester, Manchin, Conrad, and Ben Nelson. While the NRSC would prefer he stay out entirely, it’s better for the GOP that he confines his act to reliable red states and doesn’t meddle in places like MO, MI, FL, VA, etc.

  16. Rep. Peter King just said on the House floor that he would be voting against censure for Rep. Rangel.

    I was trying to figure what his motive(s) might be for that (aside from being in the same state delegation and being friendly with Rangel) — in return for King’s vocal support, might Rangel exercise his clout in Albany to help ensure King’s district isn’t eliminated?

    Or maybe King just thinks it’s the right vote. But it’s more fun to speculate about ulterior motives.

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