SSP Daily Digest: 10/13 (Afternoon Edition)

AK-Sen: In the avalanche of various other acts of hypocrisy and self-dealing that have come out about Joe Miller in the last few weeks, somehow I missed this one: not only did he avail himself of low-income hunting and fishing licenses, but his family has received assistance from Medicaid and similar state-level Denali Kidcare. Somewhere, his most ardent supporters are hurling their copies of Atlas Shrugged into the fireplace in disgust, learning that their mighty Producer is nothing more than a parasite, weakly availing himself of every program under the sun designed to enslave man. (And somewhere, either heaven or Rick Barber’s fevered imagination, James Madison is hurling his copy of the Federalist Papers into the fireplace, upset that this ostensible patriot is availing himself of such a plainly unconstitutional program.)

DE-Sen: I think this had been made pretty clear few weeks ago, but Mike Castle reiterated it in as official terms as possible on CNN yesterday: he’s not endorsing anybody in the Senate race.

FL-Sen: Very-tanned centrist GOPer governors gotta stick together, and Arnold Schwarzenegger just gave his probably-not-worth-much backing to Charlie Crist yesterday. The Marco Rubio camp may have gotten the last laugh here, though:

“When it comes to inflicting ‘Collateral Damage’ on the economy, Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger are definitely ‘Twins.’  Charlie’s flip-flops have made him a master at telling ‘True Lies.’ We all know the only thing Charlie cares about is the next election. But this year, Florida will take an ‘Eraser’ to ‘The Running Man.'” – Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos, responding to Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of Crist.

PA-Sen: I wouldn’t start popping the champagne cork (or even buy a bottle of champagne) yet, but the DSCC seems to be seeing some negative-ad-driven progress in Pennsylvania. They’ve released an internal poll, via Garin Hart Yang, that actually gives Joe Sestak the lead. He’s up 44-42 over Pat Toomey, in a poll taken Oct. 8-10. With leaners pushed, Sestak expands to a 47-44 lead. No public pollster has seen anything like that (at least yet).

WA-Sen: If you’re wondering what’s up with the huge disparities in Washington Senate numbers between the live-caller and auto-dialed polls, you’re not alone. Nate Silver doesn’t exactly have answers, pointing to unique Washington variables that confound pollsters, like its (almost entirely) vote-by-mail status and its large number of cellphone-only users. But he does have some interesting charts showing that Rasmussen and SurveyUSA have consistently overestimated GOP performance all decade long in Washington (while, at the same time, Elway has overestimated Dem performance).

WV-Sen: Hot on the heels of PPP’s poll showing Joe Manchin back in the lead, the DSCC is out with an internal poll showing similar numbers. The GQR poll from Oct. 7-12, the height of “hicky” mania, gives Manchin a 49-44 lead over John Raese, whose 40/38 faves lag Manchin’s 63/28.

CA-Gov: All previous political self-funding records are quickly receding in Meg Whitman’s rearview mirror, as she just plowed another $20 million into her gubernatorial bid, bringing her all-cycle total to over $141 million.

WV-Gov: I don’t know what West Virginians’ aversion to comprehensible succession laws is, but after emerging from the morass of how to replace Robert Byrd, now the legislature is grappling with what to do with the Governor position if Joe Manchin manages to win the Senate special election. Legislative lawyers say that unless the legislature takes some sort of action, Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin would take over as “acting governor” for the entire remainder of Manchin’s term, until the regularly scheduled Nov. 2012 election… but that there would be two elections that day, one for the full four years and one for the lame-duck period.

FL-25: I look forward to seeing David Rivera’s explanation:

Over the past seven years, Republican state Rep. David Rivera repeatedly said in sworn documents that his main source of income, outside of his salary from the Legislature, came from consulting work he did for the U.S. Agency for International Development. But USAID has no record of ever hiring Rivera — now a candidate for Congress — or his company.

KS-04: SurveyUSA has shown an unexpectedly close race (for an open seat in a dark-red district in this climate), with several polls in high single digits, so GOP nominee Mike Pompeo is offering some pushback with an internal from Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates from Oct. 10-11. His poll gives him a 48-31 lead over Raj Goyle. (You may recall that this pollster works with the Club for Growth, and is responsible for highlights like this one. Senator Dick Zimmer vouches for their accuracy!)

NY-24: Richard Hanna’s out with an internal poll, courtesy of  McLaughlin (no dates given by Politico, and with a big fat MoE of 5.6%). Hanna leads, but only by 46-43. Considering that Hanna is trying to push back against not a Mike Arcuri internal but an honest-to-gosh public poll (from Siena) with an Arcuri lead of 8, that seems like kind of weak sauce.

MN-06: Today’s fundraising highlight is that Michele Bachmann pulled in $5.4 million in the third quarter. Interestingly, it looks like she’ll report “only” $3.4 million cash on hand, suggesting a similar phenomenon as Sharron Angle (for whom there weren’t any CoH numbers at all), where there’s a lot of churn going on not just for a TV blitz but also for widespread nationwide direct-mail marketing, which is expensive. (Just ask Joe Cao.) While these numbers certainly don’t bode well as far as unseating Bachmann this year, the bright side is that’s money that low-information voters might otherwise have given to GOP House challengers in tight races who could have actually leveraged that money a lot more effectively.

TX-27: Even if you’re a political junkie like us, yesterday’s internal poll was probably the first you’ve ever heard of Blake Farenthold. The DCCC fills in some blanks, suggesting that you’re probably not likely to hear too much about him in the future, either. He’s somehow sitting on a negative $5K in cash, and… I’m not quite sure how this happened, but he appears on the front of what appears to be some sort of local tea party-oriented publication, in pajamas, in the company of what appears to be some sort of sex-industry professional (and not as an example of what not to do, but apparently because said publication is endorsing him). Yeah, I’m just as confused as you; you’ll have to check out the link.

WA-08: Ordinarily, we don’t report on newspaper endorsements, since they don’t seem to move many votes and are usually pretty predictable based on each paper’s e-board leanings. We’ll make an exception in this case, since Dave Reichert largely owes his continued existence to the Seattle Times, who’ve clung to him as, in their eyes, the last remaining exemplar of the old-style moderate Republicanism they fetishize. So it’s a strange and wondrous thing to see them turning their back on him in favor of Suzan DelBene.

Blue Dogs: CQ has an interesting piece about the yawning leadership gap at the Blue Dogs, where two of its key members, John Tanner and Dennis Moore, are skedaddling. It cites a number of possible new heads (most notably Allen Boyd and Jim Matheson), but there’s a certain amount of cart-before-horse here, because the Blue Dogs are disproportionately in the crosshairs this cycle and it’s unclear how many of the key ones (Boyd, especially, as well as Stephanie Herseth Sandlin) will even be back.

DLCC: The DLCC is out with its third and probably final installment in its “Essential Races” series, pointing you (and your contribution dollars) toward 15 more legislators in key races that might determine chamber control in some of the most important state legislatures.

Money: More evidence that the advantage by the Democratic committees and individual members was pretty illusory, given the myriad ways (527s and 501(c)(4)s, oh my) that the wealthy have to plow nearly-unlimited money into political races: an alliance of groups (Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Norm Coleman’s American Action Network, as well as a new one, Commission on Hope, Growth, and Opportunity) is planning a $50 million ad blitz focused on some relatively underserved House races. This includes IN-02, CO-07, and even Maurice Hinchey’s NY-22. (H/t Nathan Gonzales.)


IL-Sen: Mark Kirk revisits the Broadway Bank yet again with his newest ad

LA-Sen: A solid ad from Charlie Melancon, hitting David Vitter on outsourcing and cozying up to BP

MO-Sen: Robin Carnahan tries some anti-Washington (including congressional pay raises) shots at Roy Blunt

PA-Sen: VoteVets boosts Joe Sestak with a hit on Pat Toomey for voting against veterans’ benefits

CT-Gov: The RGA has a boilerplate attack ad on Dan Malloy as tax-raising career politician

HI-Gov: It’s not your imagination, this race is looking competitive, at least if the DGA is advertising here: they’re out with an anti-Duke Aiona ad

IL-Gov: Pat Quinn’s new ad actually comes close to saying that Bill Brady will kill your dog if you vote for him.

OH-Gov: Ted Strickland’s ad goes back to the basics: hitting John Kasich on his outsourcing Wall Street ways

SC-Gov: The RGA is having to advertise and staff up in SC-Gov, probably much to their chagrin, as this looks like it’s turning into a real race: their new spot calls Vincent Sheheen liberal, morphs him into Obama, and does all the usual

IL-17: The SEIU backs up one of labor’s biggest backers in the House, Phil Hare, with a 10-day buy for $317K in the Quad Cities, for an ad hitting Bobby Schilling on free trade and outsourcing

PA-06: Manan Trivedi’s new ad goes after Jim Gerlach and ‘special interests’

PA-08: VoteVets is also out with a spot in the 8th, hitting Mike Fitzpatrick on veterans’ benefits votes during his brief stay in Congress

WI-03: The National Federation of Independent Business is out with a slew of new ads that includes softening up not-quite-top-tier Dem districts, with 10-day ad buys including not just WI-03 but also CA-11, CO-03, MO-03, NY-19, NY-23, PA-10, OH-16, and SC-05.


ME-Gov: Libby Mitchell (D) 32%, Paul LePage (R) 35%, Eliot Cutler (I) 21%

NH-Gov: John Lynch (D-inc) 53%, John Stephen (R) 43%

NV-Sen: Harry Reid (D-inc) 48%, Sharron Angle (R) 49%

OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 45%, John Kasich (R) 48%

OR-Sen: Ron Wyden (D) 52%, Jim Huffman (R) 36%

WV-Sen: Joe Manchin (D) 46%, John Raese (R) 49%

SSP Daily Digest: 8/6

  • CO-Sen: In yet another example of the perils of Citizens United, Americans United for Life, a non-profit anti-abortion group, is endorsing GOPer Jane Norton. Worry not, circular firing squad enthusiasts, as other pro-life groups endorsing Norton’s more conservative rival Ken Buck are already hitting back promoting Buck as the pro-lifest option.
  • FL-Sen: Kendrick Meek, seeking to stanch the bleeding of support to Jeff Greene in the Democratic primary, has released an internal poll showing him leading by the slimmest of margins, 36-35, with 8% going to Maurice Ferre and 20% undecided. Meek has three events planned with the Big Dog in the coming weeks – which isn’t surprising given Meek did endorse Hillary Clinton for President in 2008.
  • KY-Sen: Braun Research (8/2-4, likely voters):

    Jack Conway (D): 31

    Rand Paul (R): 41

    Undecided: 28

    (MoE: ±3.46%)

    Braun Research is out with another poll in Kentucky, showing a result consistent with other pollsters of a slight lead for mountain-hater Rand Paul.

  • NV-Sen: Sharron Angle’s Tour de Crazy continues, as she’s now bandying about criticizing gay adoption (which is legal in Nevada) and advocating for the right of religious officials to endorse political candidates – which flies squarely in the face of Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code.
  • CO-Gov: Former state legislator Tom Wiens – last seen briefly running for the Senate seat currently held by Michael Bennet – may have set his sights on the Governor’s race as a post-primary option given the utter fail of both GOPers on the ballot, Scott “plagiarist” McInnis and Dan “lien collector” Maes. Wiens claims to have already voted for Scott McInnis, but his follow-up statement that “I voted for Scott McInnis and let’s hope things work out” is hardly a ringing endorsement.
  • MN-Gov: Target’s CEO, Gregg Steinhafel, is apologizing for the company’s recent $150,000 to the shadowy right-wing group Minnesota Forward, which was last seen airing ads in support of the waitstaff-hating, gay-bashing, Christian conservative-cozy GOP nominee, Tom Emmer. The irony in all of this, of course, is that Target is the successor to the Dayton-Hudson Corporation…to which Democratic gube-hopeful Mark Dayton is an heir.
  • AL-05: With many of their members at risk in November, the Blue Dog Coalition senses an opportunity to add to their ranks here, endorsing Dem nominee Steve Raby. The Blue Dog Coalition goes way back in this northern Alabama district, as Bud Cramer – who held this seat until 2008 – was a co-founder of the coalition.
  • ID-01: It’s hard to to tell who’s campaign’s been more amusing, Bill Sali’s or Raul Labrador’s. The normally GOP-leaning Idaho Associated General Contractors – who even endorsed Bill Sali in 2008 – are opting for Dem Walt Minnick, even citing Minnick’s opposition to the stimulus as a point of reservation for the group.
  • TN-08: The dust’s hardly settled from last night’s bloody GOP three-way…primary, which has fortunately allowed Democratic nominee state Sen. Roy Herron to build up a huge financial advantage. Outside groups are stepping in though, with the conservative-leaning 60 Plus Association dropping $240k in ad buys against Herron in the Memphis, Jackson, and Nashville markets.
  • VA-05: To the disappointment of cat fud lovers everywhere, the teabaggish Jim McKelvey – despite his earlier reluctance – is endorsing the man who beat him in the primary, “moderate” state Sen. Robert Hurt. Fortunately, there’s still the teabagging independent in this race, Jeff Clark.
  • WA-08: In a major surprise, the Seattle Times has decided not to endorse incumbent GOPer Dave Reichert, criticizing his constant nay-saying. The Times – which has endorsed Reichert in the past – is instead opting for Microsoft exec Suzan DelBene (D) and Expedia senior manager Tim Dillon (R) in Washington’s unusual top two primary.
  • Polling: Daily Kos, after having fired their pollster Research 2000, is back in the polling game, to the delight of Swingnuts everywhere. While Daily Kos has yet to decide on a national pollster, they’ve settled on the always reliable Public Policy Polling for state-level horserace polling.

  • Rasmussen:

  • CA-Gov: Brown (D) 43%, Whitman (R) 41%

  • MI-Gov: Bernero (D) 37%, Snyder (R) 49%

  • NC-Sen: Marshall (D) 40%, Burr (R) 49%
  • SSP Daily Digest: 6/8 (Morning Edition)

  • DE-Sen: Biden alert? Dem senate candidate Chris Coons says a Biden fundraiser is “in the works.” I sure hope so! I think Coons is a sleeper candidate, and it would be ridic for Biden not to help a fellow Dem out in his own state (which is just outside of DC, anyhow).
  • NV-Sen: It may be too late to save her fricasseed campaign, but Sue Lowden has an over-the-top ad out hitting Sharron Angle for her support of a Scientology-backed plan to offer massage therapy to recovering drug addicts. Be sure to check out the cameo of a certain couch-jumping Top Gun star at about 20 seconds in.
  • NY-Sen-B: So as you know if you’re a faithful SSP reader, the state GOP put two dudes on their ballot line for the September primary: Bruce Blakeman and David Malpass. They did not include ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi, but (and this is a big “but,” DioGuardi did score the Conservative Party’s ballot line all to himself. Though DioGuardi says he’ll try to petition his way on to the GOP ballot, Republicans don’t seem to have a lot of faith in him becoming their nominee, and they want to avoid a split ticket. So Conservative chair Mike Long got a bunch of calls asking him to bounce DioGuardi from his party’s line, but he refused, pointing out that DioGuardi got 70% of the vote at the Conservative convention. Ah, the New York GOP – still a train wreck.
  • ID-Gov: The Idaho Statesman has a pretty good profile on Dem gubernatorial nominee Keith Allred, who is running a surprisingly vigorous (and decently-funded) campaign against the not-so-hot incumbent Butch Otter. The most interesting detail is the fact that the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a chamber-of-commerce-type big business lobby, is already attacking Allred – not something you usually bother doing with an un-serious candidate.
  • SC-Gov: Rudy Giuliani jumped in with a last-minute endorsement of AG Henry McMaster yesterday – though note that the unlovable loser finished sixth in the South Carolina primary in 2008. (Though Joe Lieberman reassured him that it was actually an eleventy-way tie for fifth.) And in a seriously weird last-minute desperation move, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer released, uh, well… you’d expect me to say “released a poll,” right? Nope – he released the results of a polygraph test (!), which he claims show he had no involvement in the various Nikki Haley affair allegations. Talk about protesting a wee bit too much, huh?
  • AL-05: A douchey move from a douchey guy: Bud Cramer, the Democrat who held this seat before giving way to Parker Griffith, is not “ready to endorse any candidate for Congress” – even though, you know, we have a nominee (Steve Raby). Cramer actually pulled this same shit last cycle after he announced his retirement, dithering for several weeks before finally endorsing Griffith. Back then, Cramer suggested he might endorse a Republican – and I guess he finally got his wish when Griffith switched parties. Jesus, though – do the right thing already.
  • FL-24: Former Winter Park Commissioner Karen Diebel scored an endorsement from Mike Huckabee in her bid to become the GOP nominee against Rep. Suzanne Kosmas.
  • MA-10: Republican Jeffrey Perry has been under fire for his oversight of a police officer under his command while Perry was a police sergeant in the early 1990s. The officer, Scott Flanagan, was ultimately fired and pled guilty for illegal strip-searching a 16-year-old girl. Now, the Cape Cod Times reports that Perry’s own accounts of the incident and its aftermath are contradicted by police records from the time. In an earlier interview, Perry suggested that he had acted with alacrity in handling the situation, but now it appears he waited 24 hours to write up the officer, and almost a week to take a statement from a witness to the search.
  • NC-08: Heh, he actually went ahead and did it. Weapons-grade wingnut Tim D’Annunzio launched a defamation suit against his runoff opponent, Harold Johnson, for a “radio ad targeting D’Annunzio for his ‘life of drugs, crime and time served in prison’ and for supposedly failing to pay an employer payroll tax, having tax liens, and withholding child support.” D’Annunzio had previously threatened to sue the chair of the NC GOP, but this is so much more fun.
  • NY-13: Rep. Mike McMahon scored the endorsement of the Independence Party, which means he’ll have their ballot line in November (something he didn’t have last cycle). And while he won’t get the support Working Families Party thanks to his “no” vote on healthcare, the WFP isn’t expected to nominate any kind of challenger, so their line will likely remain blank in this race – thus avoiding a split of the left-leaning vote. A Dem primary challenge at this point also looks remote. Meanwhile, McMahon raised $140K at a fundraiser hosted by none other than Mike Bloomberg. He was also expected to take in some $90K at an Anthony Weiner event, which was also slated to feature Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, a Conservative.
  • NY-29: Judge David Larimer of the Western District of New York ruled against Republicans who were seeking to force Gov. David Paterson to call the special election for this vacant seat earlier than November, saying Paterson was empowered to call it for the fall. An appeal to the Second Circuit is possible, but no word yet on whether one is planned.
  • VA-11: This seems really lame.
  • CA-SoS: I guess maybe we were too busy laughing when we first heard stories that Orly Taitz was running for California Secretary of State to bother writing it up… but not only is she on the ballot, the CA GOP is worried she might win the primary! She’s running against Damon Dunn, another ex-NFLer (what is with those guys running for office this year?), but Dunn’s deliberately ignored her rather than attack. The Republicans have little chance against Dem incumbent Debra Bowen, but Orly as their nominee would be a nice, months-long goiter for them to deal with.
  • Blue Dogs: I think I agree with everything Chris Bowers says in this post.
  • Games: Several folks in comments were recommending a new game called Congress Forever the other day, where you battle for control of the House and Senate. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like the perfect nerd timewaster.
  • Polling: Nate Silver just released the latest version of his pollster ratings, which analyzes a truly massive data set of “4,670 distinct polls from 264 distinct pollsters covering 869 distinct electoral contests” going all the way back to 1998. He lays out his methodology in a separate post, which is a must-read. Also, that gang of polling maniacs over at PPP are soliciting your votes again: The choices this time are LA, MA, PA, WA or WI.
  • Redistricting: Politico has a piece out which claims that Republicans are lagging in the race to raise money and set up legal groups to wage the coming round of redistricting battles. I’m a little skeptical, because the article says that Republicans are hurting thanks to a lack of soft money in the post-McCain Feingold world – but if anything, Dems were known as the party most dependent on soft money before campaign finance reform passed. Still, P’Co suggests that Dems are more organized because of some top-down control being exercised by the Obama political operation.
  • The politics of rescuing state governments or letting them go to hell

    Counting on Medicaid Money, States Face Shortfalls

    This is the title of an article in today’s New York Times that details a severe issue that, if not addressed very soon, will have multiple political effects. I’ll quote from some of the most important parts of the article and then talk about some of the effects I believe are likely in races for different positions.  

    Having counted on Washington for money that may not be delivered, at least 30 states will have to close larger-than-anticipated shortfalls in the coming fiscal year unless Congress passes a six-month extension of increased federal spending on Medicaid.

    Governors and state lawmakers, already facing some of the toughest budgets since the Great Depression, said the repercussions would extend far beyond health care, forcing them to make bone-deep cuts to education, social services and public safety.

    Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, for instance, penciled $850 million in federal Medicaid assistance into the revenue side of his state’s ledger, reducing its projected shortfall to $1.2 billion. The only way to compensate for the loss, he said in an interview, would be to lay off at least 20,000 government workers – including teachers and police officers – at a time when the state is starting to add jobs.

    “It would actually kill everything the stimulus has done,” said Mr. Rendell, a Democrat. “It would be enormously destructive.”

    There are are other quotes from or references to the urgent concern of Republican Governors Schwarzenegger of California and Douglas of Vermont, Republican Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, Democratic Governor Paterson of New York, and Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the National Council of State Legislatures.

    The first electoral issue is that any combination of biting tax or fee increases and brutal service cuts from state and municipal governments will sour voters even further on incumbent politicians, almost certainly causing more losses, including some surprising upsets, of incumbents from both parties. Undoubtedly, this would extend to Federal races – as it should, because the Federal government would have failed to meet the need for a new rescue package for state and municipal governments.

    The second issue is that the lost jobs from layoffs of government workers (teachers, firefighters, police officers, social workers, God only knows who else) would worsen the economy palpably, leading to even more damage to incumbents.

    As we all know, state and municipal governments are already doing very poorly around the country – undoubtedly, along with the generally weak economy and high unemployment, one of the reasons that incumbent Governors (and, I’m guessing, state legislators) are much more likely to be defeated in reelection bids this year. Failure to infuse state budgets with Federal money for their Medicare programs would surely amplify this effect.

    Governors and state lawmakers were caught largely by surprise by the House’s removal of the appropriation. Over the previous 10 months, the Medicaid money had been included in separate bills passed by each chamber, and President Obama had wrapped the extension into his executive budget proposal.

    “There was every reason to think they’d get together,” Mr. Rendell said.

    But in recent weeks, Republicans and conservative Democrats began to complain that the proposed spending would add to the deficit because it was not “paid for” with new revenues or other cuts. Their success in reducing the size of the bill reflected a deepening debate in Congress, and on the campaign trail, about the long-term consequences of using deficit spending to slay the recession.

    To get a conference report with restored Medicaid money in it – which Harry Reid favors – through the House, some Representatives who wouldn’t vote for it the first time would have to take the political risk of being labeled as spendthrift deficit-busters. And of course the Senate, which plans to start consideration of the bill this week (that is, the bill itself, not yet a conference report), would be blamed by deficit hawks for taking the initiative to reinsert such a fix.

    Of course, should they fail to get this through, a lot of them risk losing their seats because – correct me if you have data to prove me wrong – as much as the voters care about deficits, they care more about jobs, taxes, and services.

    Democratic aides in both the House and Senate said state officials had not pressed their case forcefully enough.[…]

    Republican governors in particular, the aides said, had been reluctant to petition for relief while the party’s leaders in Congress were scorching Democrats for driving up the national debt.

    “Governors need to make it clear that it is vital that their states receive this money, instead of blasting Congress for ‘out-of-control spending,’ ” said a senior Democratic aide in the House, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the issue publicly.

    Republican Governors have less room to be nihilists than do the members of the minority party in Congress. Some of them may not care much about poor people, but they have the responsibility to actually administer states and are accountable to the voters. Therefore, in times of emergency, even a hypocritical posturer like Governor Jindal of Louisiana begs for Federal help. We’ve seen this again and again recently. When there’s a flood, tornadoes, or a huge industrial accident, Republican Governors give the “tax and spend liberals” sloganeering a rest and put their hands out.

    But the political problem for many of them in this situation is greater than mere hypocrisy. Because though as Governors, they desperately need this money, as long as extremist Tea Partiers and Club for Growthers control their party, they will get Hell for publicly lobbying for a Medicare rescue package if and when they run for Federal office – or even for reelection.

    So to recap, what we see here is the bitter fruit of insincere Republican posturing, irrational extremism among the Republican rank and file, Blue Dog reelection positioning, and the White House (and possibly Nancy Pelosi, depending on how you interpret her comments in the article) enabling premature deficit hawkery.

    Some of the politicians who have put the country at another precipice have to risk political damage by voicing what Governor Douglas of Vermont, a moderate, very reasonably states (quote below). To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, if the politicians who could lose an election over a deficit but know that shafting state governments in a budget emergency is unacceptable don’t hang together, we will all hang separately.

    “I’m very concerned about the level of federal spending and what it would mean for the long term,” said Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont, a Republican and chairman of the National Governors Association. “But for the short term, states need this bridge to sustain the safety net of human services programs and education.”


    SSP Daily Digest: 2/24

    FL-Sen: There’s one more poll of the GOP primary in the Florida Senate race, and it’s even more dire for Charlie Crist than the Rasmussen poll from earlier in the week: Crist trails Marco Rubio 48-30, according to a poll commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce. (Remember that their previous poll, back in October, had Crist leading Rubio 44-30, and even that was considered something of a warning sign at the time.) Meanwhile, Jim DeMint seems to be actively goading Crist into switching parties – something he might want to be careful about, thinking back to that R2K poll showing that was Crist’s best shot at being Florida’s next Senator. (And Aaron Blake is certainly noticing that Crist is sounding more “independent,” for what that’s worth.) Finally, while Jeb Bush will probably never come right out and endorse Rubio over Crist, he’s pretty much hitting us over the head with a sledgehammer as to how he feels about the race, saying that Crist’s support of the stimulus was “unforgivable.”

    IN-Sen: While Baron Hill is continuing to let his interest in filling in as Senate candidate be known, DSCC head Bob Menendez seems to be moving full speed ahead on coronating fellow Rep. Brad Ellsworth, saying he “is going to be a great candidate.” (In other Menendez news today, he’s confirming that there aren’t going to be any more Democratic retirements this cycle.) Meanwhile, Evan Bayh is trying to walk back his douchey comments delivered as he walked out the door last week about how the stimulus didn’t create any new jobs (in the face of CBO estimates that indicated he was off by about 2 million). Now he’s downgraded that to it’s “probably largely true if limited to the last six months,” whatever that means.

    KY-Sen (pdf): Who would’ve thought, even half a year ago, that Republican SoS Trey Grayson’s biggest problem wouldn’t be the general election but even getting out of the primary? Republican pollster Magellan (independent of either candidate) released a poll of the GOP primary, finding Rand Paul overwhelming Grayson, 44-23. Grayson and Paul are busy trading blows over coal, each accusing the other of being insufficiently pro-coal.

    NY-Sen-B: As the search goes on for a celebrity candidate for the Republican nomination to go up against Kirsten Gillibrand, a new name has just bubbled up that may leave some people scratching their heads: Dan Senor, the former Bush adviser (and husband to CNN’s Campbell Brown). He’s currently talking to “money types” about the race.

    PA-Sen: Franklin & Marshall’s new poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race doesn’t contain much good news for either Arlen Specter or Joe Sestak; they’re both losing to ex-Rep. Pat Toomey, at least among likely voters. Specter trails Toomey 44-34 and Sestak is down by an even worse 38-20. However, they fare much better among registered voters, with Specter beating Toomey 33-29 and Toomey beating Sestak 25-22. (As far as trendlines go, last month Toomey and Specter were tied among RVs at 40 each, and Toomey led Specter 45-31 among LVs, so it’s actually a bit of an improvement.) Specter has the edge in the Democratic primary, up 33 to 16 (little changed from 30-13 last month). Meanwhile, Toomey has tried publicly to put some distance between himself and his Wall Street past, but it’s clear that he’s privately still eager to take their money in order to fight his opponents’ “populist” agenda. (Hmm… that may be the first time in history anyone has ever called Arlen Specter “populist.”) Toomey’s approach is just part of a larger movement, profiled in detail by the Washington Post, about how Wall Street contributions are increasingly flowing away from the Dems and back toward their usual friends in the GOP.

    CA-Gov: One more poll has Meg Whitman overwhelming Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner by a wide margin in the GOP primary: 60-12, suggesting that her ad blitz while the other candidates have stayed silent has paid off (for now). The poll was taken by M4 Strategies on behalf of the Small Business Action Committee (although it’s not clear if they have a horse in the race).

    FL-Gov: There are dueling ads in the Florida governor’s race already. In an indication of how topsy-turvy everybody’s messaging has gotten in the last year, the RGA is attacking the Democratic candidate, Alex Sink, for being an elitist banker, while the Democrats are attacking Bill McCollum for voting for congressional pay raises and to lift the debt limit.

    IA-Gov: Ed Fallon, whom you may remember for his primary challenge to Rep. Leonard Boswell a few years ago, sounds like he’s sniffing out the possibility of a primary challenge to Gov. Chet Culver now. Fallon says the party needs someone stronger than Culver (who’s in bad position in the polls vis-à-vis Terry Branstad, although that has more to do with Branstad’s strength than Culver’s own approvals).

    PA-Gov: The same Franklin & Marshall poll doesn’t look at general election matchups in the gubernatorial race, seeing as how the Democratic field is completely unsettled (although, given the Senate numbers and the lack of name rec for all the Dems, I wouldn’t expect those numbers to be very appealing). At any rate, they find Tom Corbett on track to win the GOP nod, beating state Rep. Sam Rohrer 26-4. The Dem side is utterly dominated by “undecided,” with Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato, Auditor Jack Wagner, and ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel all tied for the lead at 6. (That’s not a misprint.) Scranton mayor Chris Doherty (who just dropped out) is at 4, with state Sen. Anthony Williams still in close striking distance at 1.

    RI-Gov: Here’s one of the first definitive-sounding polls in a very interesting gubernatorial race, courtesy of Brown University. Ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee seems to be in pole position in his independent bid, although his lead over Democratic state Treasurer Frank Caprio isn’t that big: Chafee leads 34-28, with 12 for Republican John Robitaille. Chafee has a bigger lead over Democratic AG Patrick Lynch 32-17, with 13 for Robitaille. There are still a lot of undecideds in the Dem primary, but Caprio leads Lynch, 30-21.

    TX-Gov: Rasmussen takes what may be its last look at the Texas gubernatorial race before the primary next Tuesday. The real question may be shaping up to be whether Rick Perry can escape the primary without a runoff. Perry’s in the lead with 48, with Kay Bailey Hutchison at 27 and Debra Medina at 16. (The last Rasmussen poll was three weeks ago, before both Medina’s surge and then subsequent crash, so the numbers really aren’t that different from that poll’s 44-29-14.) Rasmussen also finds a competitive general election, with nice trendlines for Democratic candidate Bill White from the last poll. White loses to Rick Perry 47-41 (instead of 48-39), and loses to KBH 47-38, while beating Medina 47-37 (instead of losing to her 41-38, like last time). Kay Bailey Hutchison may have signaled that she’s thrown in the towel, admitting in an AP interview that she’s been flummoxed by Perry’s success at casting her as a Washington insider. John Cornyn is now saying that he hopes KBH decides to stick around as a Senator “if” she loses the governor’s race — I don’t think you have too much to worry about there, John.

    KS-01: SurveyUSA has a poll out of the GOP primary in a race that’s gotten little attention: the election to fill the open seat left behind in the dark-red 1st by Rep. Jerry Moran’s Senate run. At R+23, the only question is whether semi-wingnut or super-wingnut wins. It actually looks like semi-wingnut might win: state Sen. Jim Barnett (who seems more in Moran’s mold) is leading fellow state Sen. Tim Huelskamp (the Club for Growth’s endorsee) 23-16. Former Sam Brownback CoS Rob Wasinger is in 3rd place at 8.

    PA-06: Some cryptic comments from Lower Merion Twp. Commissioner Brian Gordon have him sounding like his short campaign in the 6th is about to come to an end (after he managed only 1 vote at the Chester Co. Democratic Party endorsement shindig where Manan Trivedi prevailed), with an eye toward another whack at Rep. Jim Gerlach in two years. He said “I’m either the last candidate out for 2010 or the earliest guy in for 2012.”

    PA-12: Now we know the dates for the party meeting where the nominees for the May 18 special election in the 12th get picked. For the Dems, the state executive committee will pick a nominee on March 8. For the GOP, a convention held in Latrobe on March 11 will pick the nominee. One other Dem is also floating his name out there for the nod: former Cambria County Controller Albert Penska. Meanwhile, no one’s quite sure what happens to the half a million dollars in campaign cash left behind by Rep. John Murtha. It looks like money reserved for the upcoming general election will need to be refunded, but the money in his leadership PAC is up for grabs.

    VA-05: I wonder if this presages an independent/Tea Party run by ex-Rep. Virgil Goode, or if he’s just looking to keep his face in the news? Goode is planning to address a Lynchburg teabagger gathering next week. Goode, who briefly was an Independent in between being a Democrat and a Republican during his Congressional tenure, has already announced that he won’t run for the Republican nomination again.

    VA-09: It sounds like Republican state House majority leader Morgan Griffith is pulling the trigger on a run against Rep. Rick Boucher in the 9th, and has the endorsement of the other two GOP legislators who’d considered the race. Boucher is already acting fast to shore up his right flank, touting his most recent endorsement from the NRA.

    WA-03: There’s one less Republican in the GOP field in the 3rd, as Washougal mayor pro tem Jon Russell pulled out of the race and endorsed state Rep. Jaime Herrera. (Interestingly, businessman David Castillo, rather than Herrera, seems to have most of the endorsements from area politicians in this race, despite not being an elected official — although he seems to have locked many of these endorsements down before Brian Baird retired and Herrera got in.) Russell is still looking to move up; he’ll be running for the House seat in LD-18 vacated by Herrera.

    Blue Dogs: The Center for Responsive Politics takes a look at fundraising by the Blue Dogs, and finds that they easily outraise their more liberal counterparts among the Dems. The average Blue Dog raised $693K last year, $75K more than the average non-Blue Dog Democrat. Is it a question of them being more vulnerable and needing more money, or them being more corporate-friendly? Or more accurately, is it a question of them being more vulnerable and thus needing more money and thus needing to be more corporate-friendly in order to get money from the people who have money to give?

    Redistricting: In its ongoing series looking at redistricting battles in various states, the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College has a very thorough rundown of what all is at stake in Florida in the next few years. Complicating matters is the potential passage of a “Fair Districts” initiative that will be on the ballot this year (and seems to be on track to pass), which would restrict the parties’ ability to gerrymander.

    SSP Daily Digest: 12/17

    AR-Sen: Blanche Lincoln seems like she’ll take a lifeline from anyone who’ll throw her one these days, and she got a big one today — although it’s not a surprise who’s doing it. The nation’s most famous Arkansan, Bill Clinton, authored a fundraising e-mail on Lincoln’s behalf.

    CA-Sen: The war of words between Chuck DeVore and the NRSC keeps flaring up; DeVore keeps claiming the NRSC won’t meet with him. DeVore’s camp claims they got an offer to meet with the NRSC’s executive director rather than John Cornyn, which he turned down… but that came after e-mailing the NRSC once and then faxing them follow-ups twice. I must admit I share in the incredulity of NRSC spokesbot Brian Walsh, who said “Remarkably, every [other of the 60 GOP candidates who’ve met with the NRSC] knew how to set up a meeting with the exception of Chuck DeVore who apparently believed sending a fax to Senator Cornyn’s official government office was the most direct route. That alone might demonstrate a lack of seriousness, or at least raise questions of competency, by a statewide Senate campaign.” The Hill’s Aaron Blake looks at this brouhaha in the context of GOP outsider campaigns in general, with a subtext wondering if DeVore’s camp is intentionally miscommunicating as a means of burnishing outsider credentials (seeing as how the way to lose your Seal of Good Teabagging is by becoming one of the NRSC’s golden children).

    FL-Sen: Those Rasmussen numbers on the Florida Senate general election finally showed up. Like last time, and contrary to conventional wisdom, they actually show Marco Rubio overperforming Charlie Crist, vis a vis Kendrick Meek. Rubio beats Meek 49-35, while Crist beats Meek 42-36. Seems strange, but Florida pundit Mike Thomas speculates that Crist is losing ground not among conservatives (whom he never really had to begin with) but rather among indies and moderates, simply by virtue of his empty-suit opportunism, which might explain why the blank-slate Rubio is overperforming. Meanwhile, Rubio keeps trucking along on the fundraising front, as the Club for Growth has bundled $100K in contributions for him in the last month.

    CT-Sen: CQ highlights one more way that price is no object for Linda McMahon; she’s paying her campaign manager David Cappiello a $280K salary, which is at least double what the Rob Simmons and Chris Dodd managers make. Who’s the lucky guy? It’s former state Sen. David Cappiello. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the guy who got spanked by 20 points by then-freshman Rep. Chris Murphy in CT-05 last year… which I’d think might be a bit of a red flag if you were a savvy businessperson looking to hire someone based on campaign skills.

    NH-Sen: The fault lines are remarkably clear in the Republican primary in New Hampshire. GOP establishment candidate Kelly Ayotte was busy hitting a $1,000 per individual Washington DC fundraiser sponsored by telecommunications lobbyists yesterday, at around the same time conservative primary challenger Ovide Lamontagne was getting the endorsement of radio talk show host and Coulter-wannabe Laura Ingraham.

    CA-Gov (pdf): The Public Policy Institute of California has a full poll of the California gubernatorial race (they’ve previously polled on approval ratings, but not the horserace). They see a race between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman that’s a little tighter (43-37 for Brown) than most pollsters have seen (although, of course, better than Rasmussen’s 41-41 tie). Brown makes short work of his other Republican opposition, Tom Campbell (46-34) and Steve Poizner (47-31). Whitman also has an edge in the GOP primary, at 32 with 12 for Campbell (who’s mulled moving over to the Senate race) and 8 for Poizner.

    GA-Gov: Rasmussen has numbers for the Republican gubernatorial primary (sorry, no numbers for the general, which I don’t think has ever been polled). This race looks pretty stable: they find Insurance Comm. John Oxendine with a sizable lead, as usual. He’s at 28, doubling up on SoS Karen Handel at 14. Rep. Nathan Deal is at 13, followed by Jeff Chapman, Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, and Austin Scott, all at 2. I wonder if this might tarnish Oxendine a little, though: it was just revealed that he took a trip to the 2007 Oscars on the tab of a major campaign contributor who was also asking, at the time, for Oxendine’s intervention in an insurance dispute against Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

    MI-Gov: Democratic Lt. Gov. John Cherry has been lagging his Republican opponents in the polls lately, and a new poll from EPIC-MRA shows why: no one knows who the heck he is, and those who do don’t like him. Cherry is unknown to 39%, which is greater than any of his main Republican opponents. AG Mike Cox, for instance, has an unknown of 16%. (The release doesn’t mention any head-to-head numbers, at least not yet.)

    NE-Gov: The Democrats may actually get a good-sounding recruit in the Nebraska gubernatorial race? That probably doesn’t change Republican incumbent Dave Heineman’s “Safe R” status, but it’s still good news. Mike Boyle (who says he’s “considering” the race) was mayor of Omaha from 1981 until a recall in 1987; he’s currently in his third term as a Douglas County Commissioner. Boyle also ran for governor in 1990, losing the Democratic primary to now-Sen. Ben Nelson.

    OR-Gov: Former NBA player Chris Dudley officially embarked on his question to become the nation’s tallest governor, announcing his candidacy in a speech that didn’t give potential supporters much to judge where on the Republican spectrum he falls, other than the usual boilerplate on jobs and taxes. (He did mention in an interview, on the abortion issue, that he was “comfortable with [abortion laws] where they are now.”) At least he won’t have to deal with state House minority leader Bruce Hanna in the primary, who yesterday turned down conservative entreaties to get into the race.

    SD-Gov: PPP threw in some gubernatorial questions in its SD-AL poll, and it looks like Republicans have a generic edge here that should keep the state house in their hands, despite nobody knowing much of anything about any of the candidates. The good news for Dems is that their candidate, state Senate minority leader Scott Heidepreim, is better known than any of the GOPers (although 57% have no opinion of him). The bad news is that Heidepreim still loses to all four GOPers, even Some Dude Ken Knuppe (although only 32-30). He also loses to Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard 42-29, Senate majority leader Dave Knudson 39-29, and Brookings mayor Scott Munsterman 35-30.

    KS-03: Dems look to be getting closer to having a solid candidate for the open seat race in the 3rd. Kansas City, Kansas mayor Joe Reardon says he’s giving it “serious consideration,” and his mayoral predecessor, Carol Marinovich also said she’s not ruling out a run. Hopefully only one will run, at least giving the Dems smooth sailing into what’s likely to be a difficult general election.

    PA-11: The NRCC has to be pleased with Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta’s recently-announced third whack at vulnerable Rep. Paul Kanjorski in the 11th, and they just added him to their “Young Guns” program. He still starts on their lowest tier for now, though (“On the Radar”).

    PA-12: Septuagenarian Rep. John Murtha, who was briefly hospitalized this week for gall bladder trouble, is saying via his spokesperson that he has no intent to retire and will run again in 2010. This comes despite leaks of a memo written in October to the DCCC asking for legal advice on how to deal with his reelection funds if he decides to retire. (The request apparently originated with a constituent’s question.)

    Blue Dogs: The Blue Dogs added three new members yesterday: Scott Murphy (who I thought had been a member all along), Betsy Markey (not a surprise, given her tough district, although she’s taken some courageous votes like cap-and-trade), and Kurt Schrader. The decision by Schrader — who’s near the middle of the Dem caucus, in a slightly Dem-leaning district, and usually a good vote although a bit of a budget hawk — may raise a few eyebrows, but Blue Oregon’s Kari Chisholm offers a good defense of him.

    Texas: Lots to talk about as Democrats try to assemble a full slate of candidates to go with top gubernatorial recruit Bill White. Most notably, they have a former AFL-CIO executive VP interested in running for the all-important (in Texas, at least) Lt. Gov. spot: Linda Chavez-Thompson. They have another candidate interested in running for Comptroller (which ex-Rep. Nick Lampson has also scoped out): former Republican comptroller and then independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Strayhorn, who says she wants to run as a Dem this time. Finally, people are wondering whether Kinky Friedman even qualifies to run for Agriculture Commissioner. State statute requires actual agricultural experience, and Friedman is claiming that a ranch he owns with relatives has enough cattle on it for him to qualify.

    Pennsylvania: The Hill points to an interesting academic research paper that examined what’s going on with people who’ve participated in the widespread Republican-to-Democrat party switch that’s remade politics in suburban Pennsylvania in recent years. As one might expect, these are affluent people for the most part (with one-third making more than $80K). Unexpectedly, though, only 53% say they were driven out by “extremism” in the GOP’s positions, and they span the ideological spectrum (although with a plurality calling themselves “moderates”). Many, in fact, (over 40%) were at one point Democrats who had switched to the GOP and were now switching back.

    Votes: Yesterday’s House vote to lift the debt ceiling was another closely orchestrated one, passing 218-214. As might be expected, most of the most vulnerable members voted no… and also a few center-left types running for Senate who don’t want to get tarred with the ‘debt’ brush (Kendrick Meek, Paul Hodes). They were generously given some cover by three of the retiring Blue Dogs — Dennis Moore, John Tanner, and Bart Gordon — who all voted ‘yes,’ since their seats in the lifeboat weren’t needed (same with some of the other Blue Dogs facing lesser challenges this year, like Jim Marshall and John Barrow).

    SSP Daily Digest: 10/27

    CA-Sen: Everyone has been treating Carly Fiorina as already running for Senate, but she’s never officially announced anything. It looks like Nov. 6 is her launch date, though; she has a “very important announcement” scheduled at a Pleasanton event.

    NV-Sen: With right-wing former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle’s entry into the GOP primary a few days ago, I hinted at the prospect of a bloody civil war erupting in Nevada — and here’s some more fuel for that fire. Movement conservatives in the Silver State are setting up a specifically anti-Sue Lowden PAC, dedicated to stopping the media-designated frontrunner. The Fair Nevada Elections PAC seems run by Paulists, who remain upset over Lowden’s actions in the 2008 caucus, when she was the state GOP party chair, which ended with voting being shut down when it looked like Ron Paul would wind up winning delegates. While there’s no explicit Paulist in the primary (unlike, say, Kentucky and Connecticut), Angle seems like the most kindred spirit for these types.

    CA-Gov: Meg Whitman’s sputtering campaign got a boost when she nailed down the endorsement of popular GOP moderate Richard Riordan, the former Los Angeles mayor — which might keep her from losing votes to ex-Rep. Tom Campbell on her left. Her other opponent, state Treasurer Steve Poizner, also announced his own endorsement, from American Conservative Union head David Keene. Not that any Californian would have any idea who Keene is, but this seems like a more fruitful endorsement vein to mine, as all three candidates are on the party’s moderate side — good for the general, but bad for making it out of the primary dominated by California’s rabid base.

    MA-Gov: There’s a new poll of the Massachusetts governor’s race showing embattled Dem incumbent Deval Patrick walloping his opponents — and it comes from Rasmussen, of all places. Despite only 36% of respondents thinking Patrick should run (49% say don’t run), Patrick leads GOPer Christy Mihos and independent Tim Cahill 34-23-23, and leads Charlie Baker and Cahill 34-24-23. This doesn’t jibe at all with their previous poll from August, which gave the GOP candidates leads over Patrick but didn’t account for Cahill’s presence, absorbing anti-Patrick votes — but it does pretty closely match Suffolk‘s September poll, so maybe Patrick is stabilizing a bit after some terrible numbers over the summer.

    NJ-Gov: After a week of unadulterated good news, the two most recent polls from New Jersey show Jon Corzine taking a slight turn for the worse. And the reason seems to be clear — Chris Daggett is starting to lose votes, perhaps as a share of soft Daggett voters who dislike Corzine more than they dislike Chris Christie are realizing that they’re contributing to a spoiler effect and shifting to Christie, helped along by RGA ads attacking Daggett. PPP (pdf) finds Christie leading Corzine and Daggett 42-38-13. Rasmussen gives toplines (based on their re-allocation of Daggett leaners) of 46-43-7 for Christie, while their “initial preference” this time, interestingly, gives an even better result for Christie, at 42-38-14. (Discussion underway in DCCylone and JFM110‘s diaries.

    OH-Gov (pdf): The Ohio Newspaper poll (conducted by University of Cincinnati) projects a close race in the Ohio gubernatorial race, as Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland leads GOP ex-Rep. John Kasich 49-46 among likely voters. Contrary to what one might expect, Kasich pulls closer among all registered voters, with a 48-47 Strickland lead.

    VA-Gov: Three different polls in Virginia, all of which showing Creigh Deeds trailing by double digits. (Ooops, almost typed “triple digits.”) The Washington Post is the most encouraging with a mere 55-44 lead for Bob McDonnell; Deeds has a 56-43 lead in northern Virginia, which may help retain some of the tight House of Delegates seat there. PPP (pdf) sees the race as 55-40 for McD (with similar-sized leads for the GOP’s LG and AG candidates); SurveyUSA has the widest spread, at 58-41 for McD. Deeds’ fundraising seems to be dying down, also, as the establishment realizes this one is over; McDonnell outraised Deeds $4 million to $3.1 million in the first 3 weeks of October (with most of Deeds’ money coming from the Tim Kaine-led DNC).

    FL-08: Alan Grayson saying something bombastic is getting to the point of not being newsworthy anymore (he called a Fed official a “K Street whore” on a radio show a month ago, although the pearls are just getting clutched today), but fellow camera-hogging Rep. Anthony Weiner gets some ups for saying what we’re all thinking: “Is this news to you that this guy’s one fry short of a Happy Meal?”

    IL-07: Rep. Danny Davis, after a drawn-out period of vacillation, finally got off the fence, and filed to run for President of the Cook County Board (although he plans to also file for his 7th District seat too; he has until Nov. 9 to withdraw one of his petitions). Assuming that he continues to follow through, this creates an open seat in the dark-blue, African-American-majority 7th and a hotly contested Dem primary.

    KY-St. Sen.: The special election is on, in Kentucky. GOP state Sen. Dan Kelly was appointed to a state circuit court judgeship yesterday, creating an open seat that Dems have a shot at picking up. The election is set for Dec. 8, the same day as a House special election to fill the seat of Dem Robin Webb (who was promoted to the state Senate in another recent special election).

    Mayors: The Charlotte mayoral race will go down to the wire; PPP finds that Anthony Foxx and John Lassiter each poll at 45. Foxx leads among African-Americans 80-9, while Lassiter leads among whites 63-29 (Charlotte is 33% black).

    Blue Dogs: Here’s an interesting fundraising tidbit: donations to the Blue Dog PAC fell to only $12,500 in September (from only three donations — from Ernst & Young, the Food Marketing Institute, and the NRA). They had averaged more than $176K per month in the first half of the year. Is this a blip, or a sign of things to come?

    FEC: If you can’t get enough about campaign finance disclosures and regulations, we’ve got the blog for you. The FEC has its own blog now… if you can consider something that has no bomb-throwing invective or pictures of hilarious cats to be a blog.

    NY-23: Bill Owens On (Some Of) The Issues

    Cross posted at Daily Kos

    The other day, I shattered the ugly belief that the Republican candidate in the 23rd congressional district, Dede Scozzafava, was the most liberal. That post was a direct response to Markos’ post Thursday, which also included a critique of Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

    One of the arguments made by Markos is that Owens is a “conservaDem” and that he would be just another member of the Blue Dog Coalition should he win in November. Owens, who was an independent but has changed his party affiliation to become a Democrat, was picked over two Democrats to run.  

    Because of that, there is a high level of uncertainty about Owens. Progressives are skeptical (and rightfully so) because they see the Blue Dogs throughout the country and don’t want to see Owens end up just another Blue Dog. I also think that some of this skepticism is related to the district Owens is running in. He isn’t the first Democrat running in an upstate New York district whose views have been questioned and who has been considered a prospective Blue Dog. It apparently comes with the territory, whether it’s fair or not.

    Here are two of Owens’ television ads which give you an idea of his approach. His emphasis is jobs and creating jobs in the North Country.

    This is what we know about Owens based on the issues page available on his campaign website:

    – His area of expertise is jobs. He has a seven-point plan for creating jobs. The plan includes: An emphasis on green energy, recruiting Canadian investment (if you’re familiar with NY-23, you know that it borders Canada), keeping Fort Drum strong, job training for veterans and graduates, investing in local infrastructure, higher education and agriculture.

    – When it comes to health care reform, he supports all of the following: Controlling health care costs for the middle class; providing affordable health insurance to every American; preventing health insurance companies from using preexisting conditions and caps on lifetime coverage; giving small businesses and individuals access to lowest rates available to large corporations and government employees; allowing anybody to keep their existing coverage.

    This part of his health care reform platform is very interesting:

    Using profits from repayment of TARP funds, allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, increased efficiency in our health care system (like putting all health care records on-line and requiring insurance companies to accept payment on-line), and cutting special interest tax loopholes (like tax benefits for companies that offshore jobs) to help pay for health care reform.

    He also proposes the following: Allowing states to use savings from elimination of uncompensated care costs (Over $100 billion annually) to reduce taxes. In New York this would help prevent property tax increases.

    Owens opposes Medicare benefit cuts, taxing health care benefits and increasing taxes on the middle class.

    In addition to all of that, we also know the following:

    – Owens supports the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form.

    On top of asking about EFCA, the Watertown Daily Times also asked the candidates where they stand on a handful of other issues. Here’s where Owens stands on those issues:

    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Owens said he would have voted for the ARRA if he was in the House at the time. Scozzafava also said she would have supported it, but then gave critiques of the stimulus that showed she has some problems with the package, which tells me that maybe she would not have voted for it. (Let me just add that it is easy to say now you would vote for it, as a Democrat or Republican, given the ARRA’s positive impact.)

    This is what Owens said about the stimulus:

    Mr. Owens said he’d like to see more of the funds redirected toward job creation or assisting farmers.

    “What you want to do with the stimulus dollars is set up a infrastructure base so that people going forward can independently make their decisions and hopefully be successful in their businesses,” he said.

    Taxation of health benefits: Owens said in the article that he would have to look at it before giving a clear position. That article was written at the end of August. His website, which was recently updated, tells us that he is opposed to taxing health benefits.

    Cash for Clunkers: Owens said he supports the CARS program (commonly known as Cash for Clunkers) and that he believes “It helped put labor back to work. And it did a lot of important things to get the economy moving in the right direction.”

    Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Owens said he wasn’t familiar with this legislation (hard to imagine, given its profile) but he did say that “Everyone should be paid fair wages for their work, irrespective of any other factor that may come into play.” While Owens should know the legislation, that position is better than the position of his two conservative opponents. Scozzafava (a woman, I remind you) said she was oppose the legislation. Conservative Doug Hoffman also said he would oppose the bill.

    Davis-Bacon: If you aren’t familiar with this (the Watertown Daily-Times apparently thought this was a good question to ask), Davis-Bacon is described as the following:

    “The law, which has been in effect since the Great Depression, requires construction workers to be paid prevailing wages on public works projects.”

    Owens said he would support Davis-Bacon staying in place.

    Some of the other positions I have been able to find on Owens is that he supports taking tax breaks away from companies who send jobs out of New York to other locations.

    Bill Owens thinks that companies receiving tax breaks from the government must live up to their end of the promise. That’s why he supports holding big businesses accountable by taking away tax breaks from companies that outsource jobs away from Upstate New York.

    He also supports agriculture and rural development and this statement on his website gives us a glimpse into what his approach will be when it comes to agriculture:

    That’s why Owens will fight to help local farmers and ranchers by using subsidies and import limits to make sure they get fair prices for their goods. And Owens supports Senator Chuck Schumer’s call for an investigation into why dairy farmers are getting paid lower and lower prices for their milk, while the price of milk remains high in stores. Bill will go to Congress and work for farm policy that works for producers as well as consumers to make our local economy work better for everyone.

    New York has been hit hard by the dairy price crisis. One of the factors that plays into that are imports that are brought in from outside of New York (and in certain cases, outside of the country) and compete with local producers. Dairy farmers aren’t getting enough to cover the cost of producing milk and that has caused many problems for these farmers. It is key for Owens to address this issue. As an upstate representative, he will be talking about it a lot.

    Social issues: There is very limited information out there, but this is what we know about Owens and two big issues: Choice and marriage equality.

    On marriage equality, Owens said this to PolitickerNY:

    On the wedge issue of same-sex marriage, Owens is to the right of his Republican opponent Scozzafava. He does not support full marriage–he opposes any federal action on the “states rights issue”–telling me, “I fully support equal rights for everybody, and certainly civil unions are in that mix. For religious reasons, I have difficulty with the use of the word marriage in that process.”

    That same PolitickerNY piece said that “Both Scozzafava and Owens are pro-choice; Conservative Doug Hoffman is against same-sex marriage and is pro-life.”

    To what degree Owens is pro-choice (there are other reproductive rights issues, obviously, that he should be asked about) remains to be seen.

    Here’s the moment of truth: What ideology does Owens belong to? I have a hard time calling him a “conservaDem” or prospective Blue Dog. But I also have a hard time calling “progressive” or “liberal.” This is a man who has been an independent. And in the media accounts about this race, the word “moderate” has been tossed around. I tend to agree with the perception here: Owens is a moderate. We do need to know more (while I know this post is helpful, we need more information on him) but this is a start. The only thing people seem to know about Owens is that he isn’t a Democrat. That leads to immediate skepticism about what he will do, if elected.

    Owens has made one thing clear: He will support the President. He’s the only candidate saying that and that’s something we need to focus on.

    I hopefully outlined all the reasons why you shouldn’t support Dede Scozzafava. I should also add that she is opposed to cap and trade legislation (even though her predecessor, John McHugh, supported the climate change bill) and that she supports the Bush tax cuts. Owens does not support the Bush tax cuts and has put an emphasis on keeping taxes low for the middle class.

    To close, I don’t believe Owens will be a Blue Dog should he be elected. But I also know that we need to know more about Owens. There has been a lack of access and information. Everything I have put here (with the exception of a few points) are items I had to look up on my own. There has been no clarification from the campaign on certain positions and that is something we need. We are working on getting that information, but for now, I hope this will suffice.

    How important are the Blue Dog Democrats in the South?

    For purpose of this discussion, I’ve included the following states as “Southern”.  They are TX, LA, MS, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, TN, KY, and AR.  I left out some states such as MO,WV, and OK, where some would include as part of the South.  I think they are better suited elsewhere.

    After the 1970 House elections, the Democrats had a whopping advantage of 84-29.  Here are the numbers for the following elections:

    1972 Dems 79-36 edge

    1974 Dems 86-29 edge

    1976 Dems 86-29 edge

    1978 Dems 81-34 edge

    1980 Dems 73-42 edge

    1982 Dems 86-37 edge

    1984 Dems 77-46 edge

    1986 Dems 81-42 edge

    1988 Dems 81-42 edge

    1990 Dems 81-42 edge

    1992 Dems 81-50 edge

    1994  GOP 68-63 edge

    1996  GOP 76-55 edge

    1998  GOP 76-55 edge

    2000  GOP 77-54 edge

    2002  GOP 81-56 edge

    2004  GOP 87-50 edge

    2006  GOP 81-56 edge

    2008  GOP 76-61 edge

    As a note, it’s interesting that under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, we lost (net) 13 seats and under Clinton we lost (net)27 seats.

    Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, it was quite acceptable for a Southerner to vote for a Democrat.  Some of it has to do with the old Yellow Dog mentality (or better yet, because of some silly argument that Lincoln ruined the South).  Anyway, when the Dems had a large advantage in the South, there were very few who would be called a true progressive, albeit a liberal.  Yet, they did provide some assistance in some progressive economic issues.  Around 1992, many Southerners truly demonized Bill Clinton, saying that his morals and his big-government friends were going to ruin the US.  The moral majority joined the fray by stressing cultural issues that were imortant to many Southerners.  It’s somewhat ironic that it was under a Southern President’s watch that the GOP gained a stronghold of the South.

    There have been plenty of party switching during the last 38 years, with many conservative Dems leaving the party and joining the GOP ranks.  The last time we had a US rep from the South leave the party was in 2004, when Rodney Alexander of LA and Ralph Hall of TX left the party.  I’m hoping the exodus from our party is over.

    Currently, we have 21 Blue Dogs that reside in the South:  4 in GA (Barrow, Scott, Bishop, Marshall), 2 in AR (Berry, Ross), 1 in FL (Boyd), 2 in AL (Bright, Griffith), 1 in KY (Chandler), 2 in MS (Childers, Taylor), 4 in TN (Cooper, Davis, Gordon, Tanner), 1 in TX (Cuellar), 2 in NC (McIntyre, Shuler), 1 in LA (Melancon), and 1 in VA (Nye).

    Most of these Reps are culturally conservative, but some are willing to help the Democratic party on economic issues.  Even a few (ex. Shuler) will vote for some pro-environment legislation.  Yet, many of us on SSP have mixed feelings about the Blue Dogs.  We like them for being in our ranks and occassionally supporting some progressive legislation, but then we get quite mad on other issues (cultural issues, healthcare, etc.).  So what should we do with the Blue Dogs?

    First, if the current Blue Dogs in the South bolted our party, the GOP would have a huge advantage (97-40).  That, my friends, is shocking, since prior to the civil rights act of 1964, there were only a handful of Republicans in the South.  

    Anyway, I wanted to open this up to discussion, because the South could end up losing several Democratic Rep seats in 2010.  My questions are:

    1.  Are we willing to support Blue Dogs in the South when very vew are willing to support us on key issues (i.e. healthcare)?

    2.  Is there a way to triangulate our ideas with the Blue Dogs whereby we can get some meaningful legislation passed without having to “water down” the importance of the legislation?

    By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

    The meaning, importance of Blue Dogs (and how to get rid of them)

    I, personally, am on the left wing of the Democratic party.  On that political compass thing, I get about – 9 on social and – 8 on economic issues.  I like my rep (Nadler, NY-08) pretty well. But NY-08 is not the country.  And, although I wish I lived in a country where Nadler was a typical representative, and Sanders a typical Senator, I don’t.

    In this diary, I will attempt to use data and analysis to answer several questions.  Using data and analysis is what I do for a living (I’m a statistician) and I find it fun (I’m a geek).  The questions:

    Who are the Blue Dogs?

    Why are they Blue Dogs?

    Should we get rid of Blue Dogs and if so, Which ones? and How?

    Are Blue Dogs as bad as Republicans?

    more below the fold

    Who are Blue Dogs?

    There seem to be two common uses of the term.  One is for a group of self-identified members of congress – Democrats in the House who have centrist voting patterns.  But not all these people are the most conservative Democrats, and some very conservative House Dems are not self-identified.  Another use is for any conservative Democrat, especially in the House.  I’m going to use this second definition. So, who are they?

    First, we need some measure of conservatism vs. liberalism.  There are several possibilities, but one I like a lot is the scale developed by Keith Poole and his colleagues called optimal classification, and available at VoteView.  I gave more details on this, and why I like it, in this diary.  Next, we need to decide how conservative a person has to be to be a  Blue Dog.  Any decision is arbitrary, so, let’s look at the 50 most conservative Democrats in the 110th House. (The list is below, in the table).

    Why are they Blue Dogs?

    I think the positions a representative takes are going to be some mix of his or her own views and his or her perceptions of what voters want.  I’m not sure how this mix is balanced, and it probably varies from person to person.  Certainly there is some overlap.  But people who are way out of step with their district are likely to face strong challenges, and may lose.

    So, people are Blue Dogs from a combination of their own views and their constituents.  We don’t have good ways of looking at the representatives’ own views, but we do have some for constituents.  One good look is how they vote for POTUS.  The nice thing about this is that it doesn’t depend on polls, it isn’t issue by issue specific, and it’s easily available.  I’ll look at Obama % and Kerry %.

    If a representatives votes (represented by VoteView rank) are out of line with the constituents’ views (represented by the Cook number), then it’s likely that those views are personal; and those are districts where challenges are more likely to succeed.  If the rep’s views are too conservative, they may get replaced by a Republican; if too liberal, they may get replaced by a more progressive Democrat.

    Should we get rid of Blue Dogs; which ones?  

    Clearly, if we can replace a BD with a progressive, we should.  But BDs are better than Repubs (see below).  One way to judge the likelihood of this is by the POTUS vote; a district that went for Obama may be ready for a progressive.

    So, let’s look at some data:

    Rep and district       Rank     Obama %       Kerry %   Notes

    Lampson   TX-22         1       41              36      Now R

    Cazayoux  LA-06         2       41              40      Now R

    Childers  MS-01         3       37              37

    Barrow    GA-12         4       36              34      

    Marshall  GA-08         5       43              39

    Altmire   PA-04         6       44              45

    Donnelly  IN-02         7       54              43      

    Carney    PA-10         8       45              40

    Ellsworth IN-08         9       47              38

    Shuler    NC-11        10       47              43

    Giffords  AZ-08        11       46              47

    Mitchell  AZ-05        12       47              45

    Hill      IN-09        13       48              40

    Foster    IL-14        14       55              44     Native son O

    Matheson  UT-02        15       40              31

    Bean      IL-08        16       56              44     Native son O

    Boren     OK-02        17       35              41

    Gillibran NY-20        18       51              46     Murphy (D)    

    McIntyre  NC-07        19       47              44

    Mahoney   FL-16        20       47              43     Now R        

    Davis     TN-04        21       34              41

    Tanner    TN-08        22       43              47

    Taylor    MS-04        23       32              31

    Melancon  LA-03        24       37              41

    Space     OH-18        25       45              43          

    Cuellar   TX-28        26       56              46     Native son B

    Herseth   SD-AL        27       45              38

    Peterson  MN-07        28       47              43

    Ross      AR-04        29       39              48

    Boyda     KS-02        30       43              40     Now R

    Chandler  KY-06        31       43              41

    Cramer    AL-05        32       38              41     Griffith (D)    

    Gordon    TN-06        33       37              40

    Skelton   MO-04        34       38              35

    Salazar   CO-03        35       48              44

    Wilson    OH-06        36       48              49

    Boyd      FL-02        37       45              46

    Perlmutt  CO-07        38       59              51      Primary!

    Klein     FL-22        39       52              53      Primary?

    Costa     CA-20        40       60              51      Primary!

    Cardoza   CA-18        41       59              49      Primary!

    Edwards   TX-17        42       32              30

    Davis     AL-07        43       74              65      Retiring!

    Spratt    SC-05        44       46              42

    Cooper    TN-05        45       56              52      Primary!

    Moore     KS-03        46       51              44

    Pomeroy   ND-AL        47       45              36

    Boswell   IA-03        48       53              48      

    Holden    PA-17        49       48              42

    Lipinski  IL-03        50       64              59      Primary?      

    Native son O indicates that the vote for Obama in Illinois districts may not be indicative of a trend to Democrats; similarly, native son B indicates that TX districts may be less conservative than Bush’s numbers appear.

    The two most conservative Democrats were replaced by Republicans.  And of the ten most conservative, only one district voted for Obama or for Kerry.

    The most conservative representative to be replaced by a Democrat was Giilibrand, and Murphy’s election was, as you may recall, very close.

    The most conservative Democrat whose district went for both Kerry and Obama is Perlmutter, in CO-07.  This looks like a primary possibility; especially since CO-07 gave Obama a considerable margin.  We also have Klein and Costa being too conservative for their districts.  Davis (AL-07) is way too conservative for his district, but he’s running for statewide office ….let’s get a real progressive in there, pronto!  Lipinski (IL-03) looks like a perfect person to primary, and we tried in 2008.

    This list gives us 6 races to concentrate on; if we can replace those 6 with more progressive people, that would be excellent for us.  It is unlikely that any will be lost to the Repubs.

    How should we get rid of Blue Dogs?

    There are two ways, I think.  Above, I outlined a strategy for identifying BD who can be safely and sensibly primaried.  But that’s just one way to get rid of Blue Dogs.  The other way is to get on the ground and work to convince the people that liberal ideas are good.  Get them writing to their congress people.  Get them active!  While I found 6 people above who do not represent their constituents’ views; there are an unfortunate number who do represent their views, because there are too many conservatives in the USA.  It’s hard to convince a RWNJ that liberalism/progressivism is good.  But, people who are centrists are halfway there already.

    This works two ways: First, if the BD hear from a lot of people, they might change their votes (it could happen!).  And, if they don’t change their votes? Well, elections come every two years.

    Are Blue Dogs as bad as Republicans?

    The short answer is “no”.

    The slightly longer answer is to look at the Vote View methodology and notice that it perfectly separates the parties (this is usually not the case; prior to the 109th House, there was usually some overlap).

    Another slightly longer answer is to say that the most conservative Democrat is somewhat similar to the most liberal Republican; but more similar to typical Democrats than to typical Republicans.

    The really full answer is to look at individuals.  None of the Blue Dogs is anywhere near as bad as, say, Flake of AZ-06, or any of the other RWNJ.  A lot of votes in congress are lopsided; if a bill passes 400-20 then voting for it is not a big deal. In general, voting on close votes is more crucial.  In the 110th Congress, here is a list of votes with close margins.  But the list is mostly not too informative, as it doesn’t give much detail about the bills; still, we can probably assume that we would want people to take the Democratic position rather than the Republican one.

    Let’s look at those 50 Blue Dogs again, and their votes on some close bills that were about policy and of general interest.

    I’ve listed: Vote 189 on taxpayer assistance, which was tied (21 D in favor, 207 opposed; 3 R opposed, 189 in favor).

    vote 316 which amended appropriations for Homeland Security; passed by 3 votes (209 D in favor, 16 opposed).  

    vote 814 which was a broad appropriations bill, failed 212-216 (216  opposed, 14 in favor; R unanimous in favor).

    vote 382 on the budget (passed 214-210, 214 D in favor, 14 opposed; R unanimous opposed)


    vote 658 which is (I am pretty sure) the big Obama stimulus package (passed 213-208, 213 D in favor, 16 opposed)

    A D indicates the person voted the way most of the Democrats voted; R Republican, and ? no data or not voting

    Rep and district       189    316   814   382   658  

    Lampson   TX-22          R     D     D     R     R

    Cazayoux  LA-06          D     ?     ?     R     R

    Childers  MS-01          ?     ?     ?     R     R

    Barrow    GA-12          R     R     R     R     D

    Marshall  GA-08          R     R     R     ?     D

    Altmire   PA-04          R     R     R     D     D

    Donnelly  IN-02          R     R     D     R     D

    Carney    PA-10          R     D     R     D     D

    Ellsworth IN-08          R     R     R     R     D

    Shuler    NC-11          R     R     R     ?     R

    Giffords  AZ-08          R     R     R     R     D

    Mitchell  AZ-05          R     R     D     R     D

    Hill      IN-09          R     D     R     R     R

    Foster    IL-14          R     ?     ?     R     D

    Matheson  UT-02          R     R     R     R     D

    Bean      IL-08          R     R     R     ?     D

    Boren     OK-02          R     R     R     R     D

    Gillibran NY-20          R     D     D     D     R  

    McIntyre  NC-07          R     D     R     D     D

    Mahoney   FL-16          R     D     D     D     D

    Davis     TN-04          D     D     D     D     D

    Tanner    TN-08          D     R     D     D     R

    Taylor    MS-04          D     D     R     D     R

    Melancon  LA-03          D     D     D     D     D

    Space     OH-18          R     R     D     D     D

    Cuellar   TX-28          D     D     D     D     D

    Herseth   SD-AL          D     D     D     D     R

    Peterson  MN-07          D     D     D     D     D  

    Ross      AR-04          D     D     D     D     D  

    Boyda     KS-02          D     D     D     D     D

    Chandler  KY-06          R     D     D     D     D  

    Cramer    AL-05          D     R     D     D     D

    Gordon    TN-06          D     D     D     D     D

    Skelton   MO-04          D     D     D     D     D

    Salazar   CO-03          D     D     D     D     D

    Wilson    OH-06          D     D     D     D     D

    Boyd      FL-02          D     D     D     D     R

    Perlmutt  CO-07          D     D     D     D     D

    Klein     FL-22          D     D     D     D     D

    Costa     CA-20          D     D     D     D     ?

    Cardoza   CA-18          D     D     D     D     D

    Edwards   TX-17          D     D     D     D     D

    Davis     AL-07          D     D     D     D     D

    Spratt    SC-05          D     D     D     D     D

    Cooper    TN-05          D     D     D     D     R

    Moore     KS-03          D     D     D     D     D

    Pomeroy   ND-AL          D     D     D     D     D

    Boswell   IA-03          D     R     D     D     D

    Holden    PA-17          D     D     D     D     D

    Lipinski  IL-03          D     D     D     D     D

    That is, of the 50 most conservative Democrats, every one voted with the Democrats on at least one of these 5 close and key votes.

    If even a large handful of these Democrats were replaced by Republicans, some of those bills would have failed.