SSP Daily Digest: 9/18

CO-Sen: It’s primary protection week at the White House. Fresh off hosting a big fundraiser for Arlen Specter, Barack Obama officially endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet, who’s fending off an ideologically curious primary challenge from former CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. (J)

FL-Sen: Marco Rubio has picked up his second endorsement from Florida’s GOP House delegation. 5th District Rep. (and Main Street Partnership member, although certainly one of its less ‘moderate’ members) Ginny Brown-Waite endorsed Rubio yesterday, giving his Senate candidacy a potentially useful endorsement in the Tampa and Orlando exurbs. Back in June, dark red Panhandle Rep. Jeff Miller gave Rubio his official blessing. (J)

MA-Sen: On a recent appearance on Fox Business, Harvard law professor and TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren refused to flat-out say “no” when asked if she’d consider running for Ted Kenneday’s Senate seat. Warren is one of the most important progressive thinkers and activists in America today, but with little time, no prior electoral experience, and no campaign warchest, it’s hard to see how a potential candidacy could catch fire. (D)

Also, as expected, the Massachusetts legislature moved halfway toward modifying state law to allow temporary appointment of a stopgap Senator until the special election. The bill cleared the state House, 95-58; it is also expected to pass the state Senate, although procedural tactics will allow the Republicans to drag it out till next week.

CA-Gov: Jerry Brown is being coy about when (or if) he’ll announce his gubernatorial bid, appearing at a function with three other would-be governors but saying “The people of California are not anxious to hear from their candidates yet, and the deadline for filing papers isn’t until March – so tune in.” Hopefully he left off the part about turning on and dropping out.

NY-Gov: David Paterson either isn’t getting the message or has an admirable single-mindedness, but either way, he’s gearing up for a re-election run, hiring a campaign manager, Richard Fife (who previously managed the failed-to-launch Carolyn Maloney senatorial campaign).

OR-Gov: We have our first poll of the Oregon governor’s race since people started piling into it, courtesy of vaunted local pollster Tim Hibbitts’ firm on behalf of the Portland Tribune and Fox 12 News. Ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber has wide leads over his Republican opponents (although still below the 50% mark): 43-23 over state Sen. Jason Atkinson and 46-21 over Allen Alley. Ex-SoS Bill Bradbury, who made it offical yesterday, isn’t tested. In other news, ex-Sen. Gordon Smith hadn’t seemed likely to make the race, and now it’s even much less likely, as he took a cushy new job in DC as president of the powerful lobby National Association of Broadcasters. This would leave Rep. Greg Walden as the one Republican of interest who has yet to weigh in on the race.

SC-Gov: Lt. Governor Andre Bauer has made the offer to stand down from running in the 2010 gubernatorial election if he has to succeed Mark Sanford in the event of a resignation (or impeachment). But he’s attaching an expiration date to that offer now (only through next month), saying he needs to get started on his campaign.

NY-23: Here’s a weird thought: could the ACORN scandal wind up sinking the Republican in the special election in the 23rd? The Conservative Party is going after Dede Scozzafava for her previous relationship with the Working Families Party, whose line she’s run on in the past. The WFP often works together with ACORN, so now Doug Hoffman is accusing her of palling around with the “radical left” and demanding she disavow the WFP. (Also noteworthy though expected: state Sen. Darrel Aubertine endorsed Dem candidate Bill Owens yesterday.)

PA-11: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien has taken a step toward actually challenging crusty Rep. Paul Kanjorski in the Democratic primary by opening up a campaign account and filing a statement of candidacy with the FEC. O’Brien remains in exploratory mode, but says that he’ll have “more to say” on his campaign by the end of the year. (J)

SD-AL: It’s starting to look like Republicans are going to make a real effort at giving Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin an actual race in 2010. The latest potential candidate whose name is being circulated in GOP circles is state Rep. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls. Secretary of State Chris Nelson says that he’s getting “very close” to making a decision, and state Rep. Shantel Krebs says that she’s still in “sit-and-wait mode” to see what Curd and Nelson decide. (J)

Cap & Trade: A poll taken for the Environmental Defense Fund shows, contrary to conventional wisdom, support for cap-and-trade in some conservative Dem districts. While we haven’t seen the question wording yet, Greg Sargent says the numbers are positive in NC-11, IN-09 and VA-05, and promises full results soon. He also rightly points out:

When the cap and trade debate heats up again, we’ll hear lots more about how risky it is for “marginal” Dems to support it. It’s striking how often reporters (myself included) just accept the view that such votes are risky in districts like these, simply because someone, somewhere, claimed this is the case.

Voting Rights: This is a welcome surprise. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a controversial Indiana law requiring voters to show identification last year, following a challenge to it in federal court. This year, though, there was a challenge to it in state court, and an appellate court in Indiana struck down the law for violating the state constitution’s Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause (primarily since it didn’t require mail-in voters to provide ID). The state plans to appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court. Has the pendulum swung far enough that challenges to voter suppression are likelier to get a fair hearing in state courts now instead of the federal system?

OR-Gov: Dems Start in Solid Shape

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (6/22-24, likely voters, no trendlines):

John Kitzhaber (D): 46

Gordon Smith (R): 37

Undecided: 17

John Kitzhaber (D): 44

Greg Walden (R): 38

Undecided: 18

John Kitzhaber (D): 48

Jason Atkinson (R): 35

Undecided: 17

Peter DeFazio (D): 47

Gordon Smith (R): 37

Undecided: 16

Peter DeFazio (D): 45

Greg Walden (R): 37

Undecided: 18

Peter DeFazio (D): 48

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 18

Bill Bradbury (D): 42

Gordon Smith (R): 38

Undecided: 20

Bill Bradbury (D): 40

Greg Walden (R): 39

Undecided: 21

Bill Bradbury (D): 41

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 25

Steve Novick (D): 28

Gordon Smith (R): 41

Undecided: 31

Steve Novick (D): 28

Greg Walden (R): 43

Undecided: 29

Steve Novick (D): 29

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 37

(MoE: ±4%)

R2K, via Daily Kos, strikes with the first full poll of the Oregon governor’s race (there was a quickie a few weeks ago by a local Republican pollster, Moore Information, that only included head-to-heads involving Rep. Greg Walden) — and when we say full, we mean it: there are 12 different permutations. Here’s a scorecard for those who don’t know the players:

John Kitzhaber: Oregon’s Governor from 1994-2002, currently head of the Archimedes Foundation, which studies health care policy

Peter DeFazio: Representative from OR-04 since 1986

Bill Bradbury: Oregon’s Secretary of State from 1999-2008, who also lost the 2002 Senate race to Gordon Smith, 56-40

Steve Novick: a lawyer and activist who came out of nowhere to almost win the 2008 Democratic Senate nomination, losing 45-42 to Jeff Merkley

Gordon Smith: Oregon’s Senator from 1996-2008, now a well-paid advisor at a K St. lobbying firm

Greg Walden: Representative from OR-02 since 1998

Jason Atkinson: State Senator who finished 3rd in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, so it’s “his turn;” while very conservative, he’s young (39), charismatic, and perhaps most endearing to many Oregonians, a huge bike enthusiast

Unsurprisingly, this poll shows both Kitzhaber and DeFazio running strongly against all comers. DeFazio seems to perform a tiny smidge better, and has lower unfavorables (Kitzhaber is at 46/26, while DeFazio is at 47/22), which I’d attribute to Kitzhaber being better known statewide and to his having pissed off a lot of Republicans during his first gubernatorial stint, wielding his veto pen mercilessly against the then-Republican-controlled legislature.

In a bit of a surprise, though, this poll finds Walden overperforming Gordon Smith in head-to-heads, and with much better approvals (Walden is at 36/25, while Gordo is in negative territory at 39/48). Again, that may have to do with Walden not being well-known outside eastern Oregon, and as result of Smith’s last campaign (which alternately saw him going hard negative and flinging his arms around Barack Obama) having left a bad taste in a lot of mouths on both sides of the aisle across the state. (Smith’s collapse is seen in his 4-point deficit against Bradbury, whom he beat by 16 in the GOP-friendly year of 2002.)

So who will the nominees actually be? Polls aren’t likely to tell us that, because unless something weird happens, we’re unlikely to see competitive primaries. The two titans, Kitzhaber and DeFazio, are both visibly interested, but, if they don’t work something out behind the scenes, seem likely to just wait each other out… conceivably meaning that they both wait too long and neither of them gets in. That would probably leave Bradbury (who’s already in, and apparently staying in) as the de facto nominee (unless Novick, who has said he won’t run against Kitzhaber, at that point gets in and defeats Bradbury using his almost-successful ’06 primary playbook, by being feistier and funnier than his boring opponent). (Novick’s problem seems to be lack of name recognition; his approvals are only 16/5, meaning 79% of the state needs to be reminded of his existence.)

Simiarly, the GOP nod is likely to be decided by totem pole/pecking order, with Gordo having first right of refusal (which he doesn’t seem likely to exercise, having settled in on K Street), then Walden (not seeming too likely either, as he’s a key player at the NRCC and seems interested in the leadership ladder), then Atkinson… and if Atkinson bails for some reason too, then the nomination would probably fall to Allen Alley, who’s committed to the race but would most likely lose the GOP primary handily to Atkinson. (Alley ran surprisingly well as the GOP candidate in the 2008 Treasurer race, where he was supposed to get flattened by Ben Westlund — but he’s from the once-proud moderate wing of the Oregon GOP and in fact was deputy CoS to Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski for a while, giving him a whiff of “non-starter” among the GOP rank-and-file for a higher-profile race than Treasurer.)

RaceTracker: OR-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 3/3

VA-Gov: PPP’s latest has McAulliffe 21, Moran 19 and Deeds 14 for the Dem gubernatorial primary. Last month it was 18-18-11. The election is three months off. (D)

PA-Sen: An opening for Pat Toomey? Susquehanna has a new poll showing Snarlin’ Arlen’s re-elects at just 38% – and an awful 26% among Republicans. (D)

TX-Gov: Tom Schieffer, a former State Rep. and Bush Ambassador to Australia, has announced that he’s forming an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Texas. When questioned by reporters, Schieffer says that he does not regret voting for Bush for Governor and President. A recent PPP poll has Kay Bailey Hutchison crushing Schieffer by a 54-30 margin, while incumbent Gov. Rick Perry leads Schieffer by only 45-35. (J)

IN-Gov: Is Baron Hill getting ready for a 2012 gubernatorial campaign? There was some brief speculation that he might run in 2008, but of course that never panned out. (J)

OR-Gov: This may be a tea leaf that Gordon Smith is passing on the 2010 governor’s race, or it may simply be a way to stay in the Beltway money loop for a year while laying groundwork, but Gordo is staying in DC and taking a “senior adviser” position (since he’s subject to the two-year lobbying ban) with prominent DC law/lobbying/soul-devouring firm Covington & Burling.

OR-Sen: Nice Lead for Merk

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (10/14-15, likely voters, 9/22-24 in parentheses):

Jeff Merkley (D): 47 (45)

Gordon Smith (R-inc): 41 (40)

Other 6 (6)

(MoE: ±4.0%)

Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll showing a tie in the Oregon Senate race gave the blogosphere some pause (as well it should, as this one is by no means over). Research 2000 gives us a bit of very good news, though, and their 6-point spread is more in line with Pollster’s composite of 45-41.

This poll shows a sizable chunk (6%) going to “Other,” which I assume mostly means Constitution Party candidate Dave Brownlow (who has polled around 7% when specifically named in SurveyUSA polls). (The crosstabs indicate that the biggest support for “Other” is coming from the Independent column, though, not from Republicans, so right-wing GOPers may be staying more loyal to Smith than I’d previously assumed.)

Another interesting bit in the crosstabs: Smith’s favorables/unfavorables are currently at 40%/47%: not as bad for him as they’ve been in Dem internals, but still not the kind of numbers that, y’know, lead to someone getting reelected.

OR-Sen: Tied Game

Rasmussen (10/14, likely voters, 9/15 in parentheses):

Jeff Merkley (D): 47 (45)

Gordon Smith (R-inc): 47 (46)

(MoE: ±4.0%)

There seems to be a lot of preemptive celebrating of a pickup of this seat, but Rasmussen’s newest poll indicates that Gordon Smith isn’t going to go quietly into the night. It’s a tied race, although that’s actually an improvement from last month, where Smith had a 1-pt. lead.

Rasmussen has tended to be a litle more favorable to Smith than other pollsters recently. Part of that may be that they don’t account for Constitution Party candidate Jeff Dave Brownlow, who vacuumed up 7% of the vote in SurveyUSA polls. Looks like one of the big questions, come election day, will be how many hard-right rural voters come home to Gordo (whom they tend to view as an effete RINO, although their dissatisfaction is more likely to be more from a nativist Paulist angle than a theocon angle) instead of registering the protest vote.

OR-Sen: Wyden Demands Smith Pull Misleading Ads

James wrote yesterday about the shameless bullshit GOP Sen. Gordon Smith is pulling on the airwaves. Oregon’s other senator, Dem Ron Wyden, endorsed Jeff Merkley and appears in a new ad with him. Yet Smith cut his own ad which makes it appear as though Wyden is endorsing El Gordo. Like I said, a load of crap.

Fortunately, Wyden isn’t having any of this:

Wyden, however, doesn’t find much humor in the ad. He’s particularly upset that the ad includes his signature at the end, superimposed on a photo of the two senators, and he’s asking the Smith campaign to pull the ad.

“I guess we should be flattered by all the attention,” said Josh Kardon, Wyden’s chief of staff in Oregon. “But the unauthorized use of Ron’s signature is no laughing matter. Its use will confuse voters about who Ron supports in this race, and the ad should come down.”

Another embarrassment for Smith. He previously tried to claim a faux-endorsement from Obama, which lead to an unequivocal statement from the Obama camp that our nominee supports Jeff Merkley. Nice try, bub.

OR-Sen: Shameless

It’s pretty clear who Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden supports in the Oregon Senate race between Democrat Jeff Merkley and Republican Gordon Smith. Afterall, Wyden recently cut an ad making a passionate endorsement of Merkley despite his friendship with Smith. So what does El Gordo do? He parses together some misleading clips of Wyden talking about their good working relationship and then has the gall to stamp Ron Wyden’s own signature onto his ad — as if it were an endorsement from the man himself!

Just compare the two ads:

I’ve gotta say, that may be one of the most shameless ads I’ve seen all cycle from anybody. Wyden should ask El Gordo to pull this ad off the air.

Sen. Wyden says OR needs Merkley and other Oregon Political News

In this edition of my irregular series on Oregon political news, I discuss another set of interesting stories that have popped up.  These include Sen. Wyden’s (D-OR) new ad for Merkley as well as the Bill Sizemore’s admission that he was using private foundation funds for his own purposes.

Cross-Posted from Loaded Orygun:…

Story List:

1. Wyden says we need Merkley in the Senate.

2. Sizemore admits to personal use of funds.

3. The Oregon Citizen’s Alliance and John McCain.

4. Debate Night in Oregon: Smith vs. Merkley tonight!

Wyden says we need Merkley in the Senate:

In a new ad released this morning, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has never before done an ad for any one of Smith’s challengers, talks about why he needs Jeff Merkley to help deliver the change Oregon wants and needs.  The popular Senator is a true progressive, having stated his career as the Rep. for Oregon’s 3rd CD (currently represented by Rep. Blumenauer).


Sizemore admits to personal use of funds:

Story here: Oregon anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore admits personal use of funds

Anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore is known for many things, such as running a series of insane ballot measures every two years.  However, one thing he would prefer not to be remembered for is his mis-use of funds donated to nonprofit organizations under his control, which partially led to a judgment against him several years back for racketeering.  Under the terms of an injunction resulting from that lawsuit, such usage of funds was not allowed.  Despite this, it was revealed that Sizemore “wrote checks from the foundation account for $660,326, almost all of it for his own benefit. Sizemore also charged another $88,176 to a foundation debit card at Wells Fargo.”  Included in his purchases was a car for his wife, braces for his daughter, a time-share in Mexico and my personal favorite, 15 1-ounce gold pieces.  It seems that perhaps the real reason Sizemore doesn’t like paying taxes is that the pesky government insists he follow the law.

The Oregon Citizen’s Alliance and John McCain:

Story, as picked up by Raw Story: McCain connections coming back to haunt him

In a report during last night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Keith reported that John McCain had attended a 1993 fund-raising dinner for the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), a virulently homophobic group that was behind several ballot measures in the 1990s which would have effectively mandated discrimination against the GLBT community.  However, the fun doesn’t stop there as apparently, during the dinner, one of the speakers praised those who had shot abortion doctors.  This was no surprise to either of Oregon’s senators, both Republicans, who themselves refused to attend the dinner.  In fact, Senator Mark Hatfield, a liberal Republican (and I mean that, he would most certainly be a Democrat if he ran today) strongly urged McCain not to attend but McCain did anyways.

Debate Night in Oregon: Smith vs. Merkley tonight!

Finally, just a quick note that Gordon Smith will debate Jeff Merkley tonight from 7-8 PM Pacific (10-11 PM Eastern) on KGW (Channel 8 in Portland).  The debate is also sponsored by the Oregonian and streaming video will be available at:  There you can also submit questions for the debate.

Let me know what you think.

OR-Sen: New SUSA Poll

SurveyUSA for Roll Call & KATU-TV (9/22-23, likely voters, 8/2-4 in parens):

Jeff Merkley (D): 44 (37)

Gordon Smith (R-inc): 42 (49)

Dave Brownlow (C): 8 (7)

Undecided: 6

(MoE: ±3.8%)

That’s a sharp drop for Smith, and it confirms all the recent polling we’ve seen here. Interestingly, both candidates have weak approvals: 31-42 for Smith and 30-35 for Merkley. But Merkley leads independents 45-36 and is benefitting from a top-of-the-ticket surge. Obama now beats McCain 52-41. (He led just 48-45 early last month.)

SSP currently rates this race Tossup.