SSP Daily Digest: 8/2 (Morning Edition)

  • CT-Sen: Linda McMahon has already spent at least $22 million on her senatorial bid – and though she has plans to shell out much more, she’s already the fourth-largest self-funder of all time. The good news is that the top three are pretty uninspiring: Jon Corzine (NJ-Sen 2000: $60 million, 50.1% in general); Blair Hull (IL-Sen 2004: $29 million, 11% in primary); Michael Huffington (CA-Sen 1994: $28 million, 45% in general). Check out the second page of CQ’s piece to see who rounds out the rest of the top 10. Only three actually won a seat in the Senate, and all of them served one term or less – by choice!
  • FL-Sen: Ah – live by the zillionaire asshole, die by the zillionaire asshole. Joe Trippi, who apparently thought he could make a buck by helping schmuckface Jeff Greene run negative ads against Kendrick Meek, has been axed. This is pretty unsurprising, in light of an in-depth story by the St. Pete Times which catalogs just how much of a jerkass Greene actually is. Here’s a representative sample:
  • Adam Lambert worked as captain of Greene’s 145-foot yacht, Summerwind, earlier this year.

    “He has total disregard for anybody else,” chuckled Lambert, who said he was Greene’s 20th and 22nd Summerwind captain (No. 21 quit after a few hours with Greene).

    “I don’t think I ever once had an actual conversation with him. It was always, ‘I should just get rid of you, what f—— good are you? You’re just a f—— boat driver. You’re the third-highest paid employee in my corporation and I should just get rid of you,’ ” Lambert, 43, recalled by phone from a yacht in Croatia. “It didn’t bother me. I just felt sorry for the man. He doesn’t seem very happy.”

    Quite apropos of all this, Dave Catanese takes a look at the “band of others” which has come together to run Charlie Crist’s campaign. Catanese says that Crist’s team “is staffed by a collection of misfits who run the gamut from longtime loyalists to out-of-state hired guns. They have worked for Democrats, for Republicans and even for prominent independents. As with Crist, ideology appears to take a back seat to winning office.”

  • MO-Sen: Mostly-failed teabagger Chuck Purgason has an internal poll out (at least, I think it’s an internal) from Magellan Strategies… but that’s not really the point. There are two super-huge problems with this poll. First off, there are literally zero undecideds – Purgason claims he’s beating Dem Robin Carnahan 56-44. Secondly, releasing a general election poll just days before an almost hopeless primary looks extremely unserious. I don’t give a damn about Purgason, but I don’t think either of these issues make Magellan look particularly good.
  • GA-Gov: Barack Obama is visiting Atlanta to speak to a disabled veterans convention and to host a DNC fundraiser today, but Dem gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes will be visiting other parts of the state. Several prominent Dems are planning to attend the events, including Labor Comm’r Michael Thurmond (our senate nominee), and Reps. David Scott and Sanford Bishop, the latter of whom has a competitive race this fall.
  • NY-Gov: Steve Levy has completed his transition from widely disliked xenophobic DINO to memorable Republican loser: He said he wouldn’t seek the Independence Party’s line this fall, and formally gave his backing to Rick Lazio.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth Benjamin says a source tells her that another disgruntled Republican, the vile Carl Paladino, is doing the opposite – he’s reconsidering his decision not to run on a third-party line and may run on his own “Taxpayers Party” line if he loses the GOP primary in September. Apparently, the teabaggers are taking the long view here, hoping that they can create a “true” conservative rival to the, ah, Conservative Party, even if that means helping Andrew Cuomo win the gubernatorial race.
  • WY-Gov: Mason-Dixon did a poll of the Wyoming gubernatorial primaries for the Casper Star-Tribune. On the GOP side, state Auditor Rita Meyer leads with 27, followed by former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead with 24, House Speaker Colin Simpson with 17, and former legislator and state Ag. Director Ron Micheli with 12. For Democrats, former state Dem chair Leslie Petersen leads pilot and former University of Wyoming football star Pete Gosar by a 30-22 margin.
  • FL-08: Franking – the privilege that allows members of Congress to mail out nominally “informational” materials to constituents at taxpayer expense – is one of those things that’s usually a lame non-issue… until it’s an issue. Incumbents have been pushing the boundaries of proper franking for centuries, and it rarely gets traction in campaigns, but I really wonder if Alan Grayson’s gone too far with this one. He recently sent out a DVD to 100,000 homes in his district (at a cost of $73K) titled “Watch Congressman Grayson in Action!” featuring a few dozen clips of his greatest hits in office. Maybe the video will be popular, maybe no one will care, maybe some Republicans will howl and get ignored – we’ll see.
  • IL-10 (PDF): It’s a bit musty, but Mike Memoli got his hands on an internal poll from the Dan Seals campaign taken in mid-May by Anzalone-Liszt. The numbers are a damn sight better than most Dem internals, showing Seals with a 46-38 lead over Republican Bob Dold, and a 41-32 lead among independents. Despite the poll’s age, I’d be surprised if things had changed a whole lot since then, given that the air war hasn’t really been joined yet.
  • IL-13: Dem Scott Harper had apparently been trying to shop the results of an informed ballot test on a recent internal poll from Global Strategy Group but didn’t seem to get many bites. So he finally decided to pull a Raul Labrador and release the proper toplines, despite their utter – almost extreme – suckitude. Rep. Judy Biggert leads Harper by a 55-29 margin. The most ridonc thing is that Biggert felt compelled to put out her own, not-exactly-dueling internal in response. I say that because the numbers in Biggert’s survey (taken by American Viewpoint) show her up 61-28. This was really not a well-managed move by the Harper campaign.
  • KY-06: Republican Andy Barr, formerly a top legal aide to disgraced former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, is coming under fire for his shoddy handling of a response to a government records request under the state’s equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act when he worked for Fletcher. In a 2007 report, then-AG Greg Stumbo (a Dem) said that Barr’s failure to produce records on account of their alleged non-existence meant that he was responsible for “records mismanagement.” However, Stumbo’s office did not determine that Barr had actually violated the state open records law.
  • LA-02: The DCCC added state Rep. Cedric Richmond to its Red to Blue program on Friday. This tells me two things: First, the D-Trip doesn’t think much of Richmond’s primary challenger, fellow state Rep. Juan LaFonta. Second, DC Dems are concerned enough about Rep. Joe Cao’s staying power that they’re getting involved in a reasonably contested primary, something they have largely avoided this cycle. Now in fairness, Louisiana has a very late primary – August 28th – with an absurdly late runoff on October 2nd. So I can understand wanting to avoid a pressured one-month campaign. Still, this suggests to me that this race is not the “gimme” we might have once imagined.
  • NY-01: Stuck behind Newsday’s paywall is a story which says that GOPer Christopher Cox has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate fellow Republican Randy Altschuler’s ballot petitions. This is exactly the kind of war that Democrats in New York have been hoping for. I can’t wait to read more about it. And don’t forget that there’s a third candidate in the race, George Demos, who is being publicly slammed for alleged ethical lapses while he was an SEC attorney by a former supporter, John Catsimatidis. You may recall that Cox is engaged to Catsimatidis’s daughter, which explains the old man’s turnabout.
  • NY-15: You’ve probably already seen this, but Barack Obama said in an interview with CBS News that Charlie Rangel should “end his career with dignity.” Really wonder if the old bull is going to keep fighting this thing.
  • NY-24: Mmm… donuts. The owner of a local donut shop, Michael Sadallah, filed a lawsuit trying to knock Republican Richard Hanna off the Independence Party line. Sadallah, an Independence Party member, has also donated to Rep. Mike Arcuri. Oral arguments are this week – good luck, dude!
  • OK-05: True Some Dude James Lankford just earned the endorsement of third-place finisher (and state Rep.) Mike Thompson, who scored 18% in the first round despite spending $900,000. Lankford took 34% and former state Rep. Kevin Calvey had 33%. Lankford and Calvey face off in an August 24th runoff.
  • Kansas: A rare bit of good news on the voter registration front: Over the last year in Kansas, “Democrats gained 11,260 voters, rising to 460,318; unaffiliated voters increased 38,764 to 490,395, and Republican ranks increased 3,189 to 744,975.” Obviously, that’s a pretty sizable edge for the GOP, but it’s still nice to see Dem gains both in absolute numbers and percentages outstrip the Republicans – especially in such a red state, and especially in a year like this.
  • SSP Daily Digest: 5/21

    LA-Sen: David Vitter may get a serious primary challenger after all (Family Research Council honcho Tony Perkins and ex-Rep. John Cooksey have declined, and SoS Jay Dardenne has been laying low). It’s someone we haven’t seen in a while, though: former state Elections commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, who let her interest be known last week. Terrell’s last appearance in the spotlight was the 2002 Senate race, where she lost narrowly to Mary Landrieu. Terrell is the only Republican woman to have ever held office in Louisiana.

    NY-Sen-B: Like a giant game of Whack-a-mole, Kirsten Gillibrand jammed a couple potential primary challengers back into their holes last week, but now a new one popped up: Rep. Jose Serrano. The Bronx-based Serrano might be able to make a lot of hay out of the immigration issue, but he may not have the cash to make a race of it (although as an Appropriations cardinal, he’s well-connected). Meanwhile, Gillibrand nailed down endorsements from three other Reps. — John Hall, Mike Arcuri, and Scott Murphy — as well as Nassau County Dem party chair Jay Jacobs (important because he has a lot of sway over Rep. Carolyn McCarthy).

    PA-Sen: Roll Call tried to pin down the Democratic House members from Pennsylvania on whether or not they’d endorse Arlen Specter in a potential Democratic primary with Rep. Joe Sestak. Interestingly, PA’s most liberal Dem, Chaka Fattah, was probably the most enthusiastic and unconditional endorser of Specter, while its most conservative Dem, Jason Altmire, was most reluctant to offer an endorsement one way or the other, although more out of admiration for Sestak than on ideological grounds. Tim Holden also endorsed Specter and Bob Brady came as close as possible to it, while Patrick Murphy took a “wait and see” attitude and the others simply punted the question.

    AR-Sen: State Senator Kim Hendren (having recently shot himself in the foot by calling Charles Schumer “that Jew”) is now vacillating and may not run in the GOP Senate primary after all, despite having announced his candidacy.

    IL-Sen: Here’s some confirmation on what we speculated last week: Rep. Mark Kirk isn’t lost in space; he’s just deferring any decisions on the Senate race because he’s waiting to see what AG Lisa Madigan does. He reportedly won’t run for Senate if Madigan does.

    FL-Gov: Ag Commissioner Charles Bronson will announce today that he won’t run for the open governor’s seat, leaving an unimpeded path to the GOP nomination for AG Bill McCollum. Bronson is term-limited out of his job in 2010 and looking to move up, but couldn’t buck the pressure from state chair Jim Greer — I mean, the guy doesn’t have a Death Wish.

    CO-Gov: Ex-Rep. Scott McInnis officially filed yesterday to enter the Colorado governor’s race, amidst sniping that he started soliciting funds before filing his campaign paperwork. State Senate minority leader Josh Penry also launched into an oblique attack on McInnis, suggesting he might be interested in a primary battle.

    CA-Gov: Dianne Feinstein, occasionally rumored to be interested in what has to be the least desirable job in America (California governor), has said that she “might” run for governor next year, depending on her assessment of the other candidates’ plans for dealing with California’s seemingly perpetual budget crisis. Polls that have included Feinstein have shown her dominating the race if she got in.

    IL-13: 71-year-old Rep. Judy Biggert just confirmed that she’ll be running for re-election in 2010, despite a return engagement with Scott Harper, who held her to 54%, and the district’s shift to only R+1. (Of course, her inclusion in the first round of 10 in the NRCC’s Patriots program Tuesday showed her hand already.)

    AL-02: Republicans have at least one candidate lined up to go against Rep. Bobby Bright as he seeks his first re-election in this R+16 district: 32-year-old Montgomery city councilor and attorney Martha Roby. GOP State Rep. Jay Love, who narrowly lost to Bright last time, may also try again.

    MI-13: Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who narrowly won a 3-way primary in 2008, may have to face off against both of the same challengers again in 2010: state Sen. Martha Scott and former state Rep. Mary Waters. Former interim mayor Ken Cockrel also is mentioned as interested. Kilpatrick may be less vulnerable in 2010, though, as the brouhaha surrounding her son (former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) recedes in the distance.

    Maps: Here’s another interesting map for the geography nerds out there. It’s a map of which party controls all the state House seats throughout the South. (It’s a lot bluer than you might initially think.)

    SSP Daily Digest: 5/11

    TN-03: Paula Flowers, the former Tennessee Insurance Commissioner, formally announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Thursday. This is a tough district at R+13, but between it being an open seat (as Zach Wamp is running for governor) and Flowers’ statewide profile, we have a shot here.

    IL-13: Last year, businessman Scott Harper held Rep. Judy Biggert to a much closer than expected margin (54-44) without DCCC help, in this once solidly Republican district (which just plunged from R+5 to R+1). Harper filed an exploratory committee on Friday for a rematch. He can probably count on a higher-profile race this time, especially as strong fundraising might encourage the 71-year-old Biggert to think about retirement.

    MI-07: The GOP is still trying to settle on a challenger to freshman Rep. Mark Schauer in this rural Michigan district. Former Rep. Tim Walberg (who lost after one term to Schauer) seems to have dibs on the race, and state GOP chair Saul Anuzis is thinking he’ll do it again, but Walberg says he’s in no hurry to decide. Brad Smith, a lawyer who’s the son of the district’s former Rep. Nick Smith, seems to be taking shape as their fallback option.

    NJ-03: John Culbertson, a wealthy investor who was courted by the New Jersey GOP to run against frosh Democratic Rep. John Adler based on his capacity to self-fund, says he’s not interested in pursuing the race. (J)

    KS-Sen: I’m not exactly sure what Dennis Hastert has at stake in the Kansas Senate primary, but he waded into it today, endorsing Rep. Todd Tiahrt. (Tiahrt is up against another former Hastert colleague, Rep. Jerry Moran, in a moderate/conservative duel; maybe Hastert sees this as a proxy battle over the GOP’s heart-and-soul.)

    Mayors: In Austin’s mayoral election over the weekend, no candidate finished over 50%, but it looks like there may be no contested runoff after all; 2nd-place finisher Brewster McCracken, who trailed fellow city councilor Lee Leffingwell by 20 points on Saturday, said that he’s bowing out of the runoff and conceding. In San Antonio, former city councilor and rising star Julian Castro easily won against eight other challengers.

    IL-13 What Can Happen in Four Days

    Crossposted at DK, TPM, MyDD, and Prairie State Blue

    Last Monday July 21st Sarah Topy and her staff at the Scott Harper campaign were looking forward to a week of data processing, fundraising and preparing for a big push in August after the immensely successful event they organized called “13 for the 13th” on July 13th, the single biggest Dem canvass ever held in IL-13.

    There was a lot of file updating yet to do and wouldn’t you know Monday was the day the state guys finally had the new voter file ready to download. The new VAN basically updated and transformed all our files to new software and it was an all day procedure installing it. The files were still offline Monday night when I showed up at campaign HQ to make some calls. Rich Caparrell the field director was in Maryland for a much deserved long weekend off. We had another canvass scheduled for Saturday but volunteer turnout was expected to be light in the middle of vacation season and especially so soon after the big effort on July 13th. It wasn’t downtime but it’s as close as they’ll get in the next few months on Harper’s campaign.

    Well that was the plan anyway, but it wasn’t to be. Read on for how those best laid plans went out the window in an instant and what happened next.

    So just when they figured they’d be able catch up on some data entry the DCCC picked that Monday morning to announce the Mobilize for Change, 100 Days to Victory Contest which gave all Dem House challengers across the country just five days to see who could organize the most volunteers to pitch in on Saturday. The DCCC runs these contests periodically but I’ve never seen one so early in the cycle before. Running one this soon was a smart idea, competition gets the juices flowing just like the primaries particularly when House campaigns need some excitement in the dog days of summer. The reward for the winner is an email shout out to all three million contributors on DCCC chair Van Hollen’s email list that will bring in a significant chunk of cash and priceless name recognition and respect that’s sorely lacking for a lot of our House challengers.

    So with the field director a thousand miles away and the computer files out of action til Tuesday they got to work. They called everybody on their own phone contact lists and emailed any and everybody in their personal address books who they thought might be willing to canvass all afternoon or make phonecalls for as little as half an hour on Saturday.

    By Tuesday morning the voter file was up and running again. By Wednesday morning Rich was back in the office and the place was rockin’.

    Here’s what they accomplished by Saturday:

    635 volunteers made phone calls.

    Hundreds attended phone bank sites or phone bank house parties and hundreds more took advantage of our call from home program. We had phonebank parties set up as far away as Seattle where one of Scott’s old classmates organized a party, to Denver where members of his family had 20 people making calls to NE Pennsylvania where Rich’s family pulled together in Hazleton with their cell phones.

    64 volunteers went door-to-door.

    Canvassers carried literature about Scott Harper and local Democratic candidates. I picked up a couple of DFA activists at the Fairview train station in Downers Grove and gave them their walk packets and lit. One guy, Greg Hodgson left his house in Indiana at 7:30 am and didn’t expect to get home until 7:30 Saturday night. The other guy William Maggos grew up in the district in Woodridge and came out from the south side of Chicago. You just gotta love dedication like that. It’s the kind of selfless sacrifice that wins elections.

    59 volunteers wrote letters and delivered yard signs from our Naperville headquarters.

    In all 758 Volunteers Mobilized Throughout the District and Across the Country to help Scott Harper in Just One Day!

    When you consider they put all that together starting from behind with four days on the computer to work with instead of five like everybody else and the field director out of town until Wednesday that’s just incredible.

    Scott’s broad base of support, not just among activists but among Democratic candidates and party leaders was a real key to our success. With the vast majority of candidates for State Representative, State Senate, and local office and all of our elected officials helping out by making calls or hosting sites for us, this whole event was a truly coordinated effort.

    I can’t emphasize this enough, if your House candidate isn’t running a coordinated campaign up and down the ballot with other Dems in the area please contact them and let them know how effective it is. We had too many co-sponsors for this event to list them all but here are just a few who brought many of their own volunteers out and organized canvass staging sites and phonebanks through out the district.

    A Big Thank You Goes Out to All the Co-Sponsors especially:


    Dianne McGuire for State Representative

    Joe Heneghan for State Representative

    Audrey Manley for State Senate

    Will County Board Candidates Karen Gonzalez and Jackie Traynere

    DuPage County Board candidates Karol Sole and Bob Brandt

    Elected Officials

    State Senator A.J. Wilhelmi

    State Senator Linda Holmes

    State Senator Dan Kotowski

    Will County Executive Larry Walsh

    Judge Sarah Jones

    Without these folks and many others and their organizations the Harper campaign wouldn’t have been able to mount this great team effort on such short notice. I don’t know as of yet who won the Mobilize for Change 100 Days to Victory Contest, I guess the DCCC is still tabulating the results. But I can tell you this is a tremendous success for the Scott Harper campaign and all our other candidates. With all of us pulling together like this we will win in November. And that’s just the beginning.

    So thanks again to everybody who took time out on a beautiful summer Saturday to make this happen. Whether we win, lose or draw the DCCC contest we’ve taken another big step toward victory this fall. It’s change we can believe in because we are mobilizing that change ourselves.  


    IL-13: Scott Harper Organizes Labor Support

    Scott Harper Speaks to Labor
    a year ago, i am told, harper sat in a room full of illinois bloggers at yearlykos and started thinking about what he could do to help defeat bush republicans.  thursday, scott harper, democratic candidate for il-13, met with a room full of labor leaders to talk about his campaign to defeat judy biggert.  it was clear that not only scott, but dreams for throwing out a dupage gop congress, had come a long, long way.

    labor leaders representing iam, the carpenters, unite-here, the building trades, ibew and others came to hear scott speak about his race and his take on various labor issues.  before the meeting began, scott worked the room vigorously, introducing himself to those he did not know, saying hello to those he did, and engaging everyone in conversation.  people talked about the war, biggert’s support of check card legislation, recent democratic and labor meetings, how scott’s fund-raising is going.

    scott was given a lengthy introduction by his host from iam.  he talked about the importance of grassroots activity and fundraising to winning campaigns.  “that’s how we win,” he said simply in his remarks.  he talked about judy’s distance from union issues, that she has a 13% support rating on union issues and that “she won’t even talk to us, even local union members.”  unions are basically shut out in the biggert office.

    Congressional Candidate Scott Harper Meets with Labor activists
    scott’s remarks were rather short in comparison.  he covered the basics, where he comes from, what he’s done to put together a competitive campaign, how well he did in the february primary, how his fundraising is going, and his recent poll showing that judy is below the all-important 50% re-elect rate.  

    harper’s campaign plan has some ambitious goals:

    * reach 105,000 voters in the 13th

    * activate more grassroots volunteers than ever in the 13th

    Introducing Scott Harper
    his poll by respected illinois pollster fako and associates found that democrats win the generic ballot test in the district.  they found some favorable news after reading scott’s biography/message to respondents, as well.  presumably, though, this was a benchmark poll, one designed to help assist in the plan to defeat one’s opponent.  obviously, the meat of such a poll would never be disclosed, even to one’s closest supporters.

    what seemed to interest the labor leaders, though, was what their locals could do to support scott.  that’s why both the introduction and scott’s remarks focused on their grassroots plan to reach out to voters in il-13.  one of the questions asked of scott was whether biggert had any visibility in the district among the grassroots.  scott replied, no.

    Meeting & Greeting
    scott harper has already been endorsed by:

    illinois afl-cio

    international association of machinists (iam)

    painters union

    plumbers and pipefitters


    operating engineers

    senator dick durbin

    congresswoman jan schakowsky

    secretary of state jesse white

    lt gov pat quinn

    state treasurer alexi giannoulias

    tomorrow, we were told, the harper campaign will be host to democratic candidate’s kickoff meeting for volunteers and democratic activists in dupage and will counties.  the will county event will meet at Rancho Santa Fe in Bolingbrook at 11 am and the dupage county meeting will be at the Downer’s Grove Public Library at 2:30 pm.

    as always, it’s the end of the quarter (i know, because we’ve gotten calls from dan seals, al franken, the dscc and two presidential campaigns), so if you are inclined, i’m sure the harper campaign would love your contribution!