SSP Daily Digest: 3/10 (Afternoon Edition)

DE-Sen: Good news on the cat fud front, as according to the press release: “O’Donnell announcement adds Delaware to growing list of states hosting conservative insurgencies against liberal Republican incumbents.” Activist and occasional Fox News commentator Christine O’Donnell is making official today that she’s running in the Republican Senate primary against Rep. Mike Castle (although she’s been “unofficially” running for months), who, of course, is neither liberal nor incumbent. O’Donnell lost the 2006 Republican Senate primary and opposed Joe Biden in 2008, losing 65-35.

NV-Sen: Danny Tarkanian is charging Harry Reid with shenanigans, accusing him of putting Tea Party candidate Jon Ashjian up to running in the race. Tarkanian’s proof? “No one in the Tea Party knows who he is. He didn’t know the principles of the Tea Party.” He’s also accusing Reid’s camp of picking Ashjian in particular because, like Tarkanian, he’s Armenian, and that’ll split the Armenian vote.

OR-Sen (pdf):  A few people (perhaps those who’ve never heard of Rasmussen before) seemed caught off guard when Rasmussen found that Ron Wyden wasn’t breaking 50% against law professor Jim Huffman. Wyden just released an internal poll via Grove Insight showing him in better position against Huffman: 53-23 (with 5% for the Libertarian candidate). He also polls almost the same against the state’s top Republicans, who at any rate (with filing day having passed) won’t be running against him: state Sen. Jason Atkinson (53-22) and Rep. Greg Walden (52-24).

WA-Sen: The Hill has a little more… well, I’d hesitate to say detail, as that implies there’s some substance there… on the prospect of a Dino Rossi run for Senate, with various anonymous GOP sources saying that Rossi’s “thanks but no thanks” attitude has “changed in recent weeks,” and that if there’s a 1-10 scale of being likely to run for office, Rossi’s at a 3.

AL-Gov: Bradley Byrne, the Republican former state community colleges chancellor, got an endorsement from Jeb Bush, which may help shore up some more conservative votes in a primary that includes right-wing judge Roy Moore. Bush has been active on the endorsements front lately, giving his imprimatur to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and to John McCain as well.

CA-Gov: This is kind of a strange media strategy: kicking out reporters for daring to do their jobs and ask questions of you at a scheduled appearance. It all seems to be part of the plan for Meg Whitman, though: silence from the candidate, and let the ads do the talking.

HI-Gov: Recently-resigned Rep. Neil Abercrombie has a real race on his hands to get out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary: his main rival, Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, just got the endorsement of the state’s largest union, the ILWU (the Longshoremen). Abercrombie can still boast a new union endorsement of his own from the IBEW.

MA-Gov: There seems to be a lot of smoke coming out from under the hood of Christy Mihos’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, as seen not only in dwindling poll numbers but now the departure of campaign manager Joe Manzoli. Manzoli claims to be owed $40K in back pay but says that wasn’t the reason for his departure, while Mihos bounced a check from himself to his campaign fund in January.

ME-Gov: Here’s a jolt of life in the sleepy Maine governor’s race, one of the least-noticed and least clear-cut races in the country. Bill Clinton weighed in, offering an endorsement to state Senate president Libby Mitchell in the Democratic primary.

NY-Gov: One more snap poll on David Paterson’s perilous political predicament today. It seems like there’s been nothing but noise in these polls, with very wide-ranging responses on whether Paterson should resign or stay, but if you follow the trendlines from today’s Quinnipiac poll back to the previous one, it looks like his position is stabilizing. 50% say he should stay, and 39% say he should resign (compared with 46-42 last seek), although is approval is still awful at 21/61.

CT-04: One more Republican entrant in the crowded field to take on freshman Rep. Jim Himes in the 4th, with the entry of Easton First Selectman Tom Herrmann. First Selectman is analogous to mayor in Connecticut municipalities that are organized as towns, not cities, but in his spare time he’s a managing director at a private equity firm (so presumably he has some money to burn). The GOP field in the 4th is dominated by state Sen. Dan Debicella and former state Sen. Rob Russo.

GA-07: We won’t have Ralph Reed to kick around – this cycle, at least. As expected, he won’t run in the GOP primary to fill outgoing Rep. John Linder’s seat. (D)

NC-08: One other Republican campaign manager hit the trail, getting out of the seeming trainwreck that is the campaign of Tim d’Annunzio in the 8th. Apparently the leading candidate there by virtue of his self-funding ability, d’Annunzio made waves last month for wading into the comments section of the local newspaper – and now his former manager, Jack Hawke, seems to have had enough with d’Annunzio’s lack of message discipline, with d’Annunzio storming off the stage during a recent candidate forum and also with his postings to the end-times-focused “Christ’s War” blog.

VA-11: Here’s a warning flare from a race that’s not really on too many people’s radars: Rep. Gerry Connolly’s first re-election in the 11th. His rematch opponent, home inspection firm owner Keith Fimian, is boasting of an internal poll (from McLaughlin) showing him beating Connolly 40-35. Considering that Connolly already beat Fimian by 12 points in 2008, while Barack Obama was carrying the 11th by 15, that’s pushing the edges of credulity, but certainly indicates this race needs monitoring. (And of course, Fimian may not even survive his primary, where he matches up against Fairfax Co. Supervisor Pat Herrity.)

IL-Lt. Gov.: In an attempt to clear the smoke out of the back room, IL Dems have opened up their process for selecting a replacement lieutenant governor candidate. (You may recall that primary winner Scott Lee Cohen dropped out last month.) You can apply via email – and over 200 people have so far. (D)

Filings: There’s a little more on the Arkansas filings fail by the GOP: they left uncontested 8 of the 17 state Senate seats up for grabs, making it mathematically impossible for them to retake the Senate, and also left 44 of the 100 House seats and the Attorney General’s race uncontested. Filing deadlines passed yesterday in Pennsylvania and Oregon, without any major surprises. In Pennsylvania, there weren’t any last-minute entries in the Senate or Governor’s races; the big story may be the LG race, with 12 different candidates, including a last-minute entry by Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe. The Republican field in the 6th seems to have vaporized at the last moment, leaving Rep. Jim Gerlach opposed only by teabagger Patrick Sellers; Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike are the only Dems there.

In Oregon, there was a brief hubbub that Steve Novick might run for Multnomah County Chair, just vacated by newly appointed state Treasurer Ted Wheeler, but alas, it wasn’t to be; he threw his support to County Commissioner Jeff Cogen for the job. Blue Oregon also looks at the state Senate and House landscapes; Republicans fared better here, leaving only 1 Senate race and 1 House race unfilled (Dems left 3 House races empty). Of the 16 Senate seats up this year, Dems are defending 12 of them, but a lot of them are dark-blue; the main one to watch is SD-26, an exurban/rural open seat being vacated by Rick Metsger (running in the Treasurer special election) where Dem state Rep. Brent Barton faces GOP Hood River Co. Commissioner Chuck Thomsen. (Dems control the Senate 18-12.)

Fundraising: While we at SSP are often rather blunt about Congressional Dems’ need to give to their campaign committees, at least they’re doing a better job of it than their GOP counterparts. Reid Wilson crunches the numbers and finds out that Dem House members have given $15.7 million to the DCCC while GOPers have given the NRCC only $4.7 million. The disparity is greater on the Senate side, where Senate Dems have given the DSCC $2.6 million but the NRSC has gotten only $450K.

Passages: We’re saddened to report the death of Doris “Granny D” Haddock, the 2004 candidate for Senate in New Hampshire. Haddock was 100; she was 94 when she challenged Judd Gregg in his most recent re-election. She’s probably best known for walking across the country to support campaign finance reform at the age of 89.

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SSP Daily Digest: 7/21

AR-Sen: I’m not sure what it is about the Arkansas Senate race that’s making it flypaper for never-before-elected wingnuts. At any rate, former Army colonel Conrad Reynolds, from Conway, announced his candidacy on Monday.

FL-Sen: The Fix confirms that Marco Rubio will stay in the Florida GOP Senate primary, despite a terrible fundraising disparity and a brief public flirtation with dropping down to the AG race in the hopes of, y’know, not getting demolished.

IL-Sen: Newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley became the third Democratic House member from Illinois to endorse Alexi Giannoulias today (although the endorsement may not even be necessary if Chris Kennedy doesn’t get around to showing up).

MO-Sen: State Senator Chuck Purgason has been sending around e-mails telling the press that tomorrow he’ll hold a press conference (at the Ozark Cafe, in West Plains, if you happen to be in the area) where he’ll announce his plans for the GOP primary race against Rep. Roy Blunt. Spoiler alert! Purgason’s own e-mail goes on to say “It is expected that Purgason will announce that he will enter the race…”

NH-Sen: Here are two items that fall in the “well, duh” file: Kelly Ayotte has set up an exploratory committee so she can consider running for Senate, and Senator Judd Gregg hints strongly that he plans to endorse her.

WV-Sen: Here’s some good news, not just because we like to see our friends stay healthy but because he’s badly needed for cloture votes: Robert Byrd is back on the job on the Hill, after six weeks of hospitalization and some additional time to recuperate.

KS-Gov: Kansas Democrats are back to Plan A in the 2010 Governor’s race (not that they ever really had a Plan B): going back to Gov. Mark Parkinson and begging him to reconsider his decision not to run for election to a full term. Parkinson remains adamant, though.

ME-Gov: Another entrant to the Democratic field in the slow-to-take-shape Maine governor’s race: Portland businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli, who owns a housing company. Former state House Speaker and AG Steve Rowe still seems to have inside track for the Dems; the GOP, by contrast, doesn’t seem to have anyone yet.

MI-Gov: The GOP primary in the Michigan governor’s race got even more cluttered today, when, as expected, businessman Rick Snyder got into the race. Snyder is a venture capitalist who briefly served as CEO of PC maker Gateway back in the 1990s.

NJ-Gov: Chris Christie picked Monmouth County Sheriff Kimberly Guadagno as his Lt. Gov. candidate yesterday. It’s consistent with his approach of running a law and order, outsider-ish campaign. Christie supposedly also gave a lot of consideration to picking Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who, had he won, would have created a tasty pickup opportunity in NJ-02.

UT-Gov: This week’s confirmation hearing of Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China is expected to be a quick affair. He could be in his new job before the summer recess, leaving Gary Herbert in charge of Utah in a matter of weeks.

AL-07: In the wake of recent fundraising reports, Roll Call takes a look at the race to fill the open seat left behind by Rep. Artur Davis, running for Alabama governor. Corporate attorney Terri Sewell, thanks to her job, seems to have the best fundraising connections, and leads the money chase by far ($173K last quarter). However, she probably trails two other candidates in name recognition: state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. (son of the former Representative that Davis beat in a primary) and Jefferson Co. Commissioner Shelia Smoot, who is also known for having her own radio show. Also in the race are former Selma mayor James Perkins Jr., attorney Martha Bozeman (Davis’s former campaign manager), and businessman Eddison Walters (who racked up 9% against Davis in a 2006 primary).

KS-02: Former Rep. Nancy Boyda landed on her feet, getting sworn in yesterday to her new job at the Pentagon, as deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for manpower and personnel. This would suggest she won’t be running again in KS-02, which is fine, as she seems better suited for a policy job than one that requires a lot of campaigning.

NY-23: In other confirmation news, John McHugh’s confirmation hearing as Secretary of the Army won’t happen until after the August recess (although no one expects holds on the moderate Republican to be a problem). McHugh will remain in office until his confirmation, and after that there will still be several months’ lead time until a special election.

TX-23: Republican lawyer and banker Quico Canseco is back for another whack at Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the San Antonio-based 23rd. Actually, Canseco never got that whack in 2008 — highly touted by the NRCC, Canseco was upset in the GOP primary by Bexar Co. Commissioner Lyle Larson, despite spending over $1 million of his own money.

Mayors: You may remember businessman Greg Fischer, who lost the 2008 Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky to Bruce Lunsford. He announced that he’ll run for Louisville mayor in 2010, as 20-year mayor Jerry Abramson recently announced he won’t run again.

SSP Daily Digest: 5/7

PA-Sen: Well, something finally went right for Arlen Specter. After Specter got condemned to the basement on all his committees on Tuesday night, Majority whip Dick Durbin doled out a little charity this morning by giving up his own chair (Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs) and handing it over to Specter (apparently without Pat Leahy‘s say-so). I’m wondering what Specter had to do behind the scenes to smooth things over; if the rumors flying that Specter is poised to re-flip-flop back to supporting EFCA are true, that’s probably the answer.

NY-Sen-B: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy is still making noises about a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but with her frequent caveats about stepping aside if someone younger takes on the challenge, it seems like she’s doing it more to yank Gillibrand’s chain on gun control issues. Gillibrand has been a reliable vote in favor of gun controls since entering the Senate, going so far as to co-sponsor the current bill to close the gun-show loophole. McCarthy confesses to being “very happy about it. I just want her to stay there.”

NH-Sen: Judd Gregg tells CQ that wherever he goes, he’s bombarded by Republicans begging him to run for another term in the Senate. He says he’ll listen to their entreaties, but he’s “comfortable with where” he is.

AK-Gov: Governors in general are having a rough go of it these days, and now even the once-mighty Sarah Palin is suffering, falling to a mundane 54/41 favorable rating according to Hays Research. Senator Lisa Murkowski, by comparison, is still at 76/18.

OK-Gov: Ex-Rep. J.C. Watts is still publicly undecided about the governor’s race, and kicking the can down the road on a formal decision. Reading between the lines of his statement, it sounds like he’s having some trouble fundraising, saying “You don’t take on something like this unless you know you will have the resources to do it.”

CO-04: The GOP got the candidate it wanted, to go up against freshman Rep. Betsy Markey in this now R+6 district. State House minority whip Cory Gardner, who represents the vast emptiness of eastern Colorado, announced that he’ll be running. Univ. of Colorado regent Tom Lucero is already in the hunt for the GOP nod.

MN-06: One day after former Independence Party Lt. Gov. candidate Maureen Reed said she’ll be a Dem candidate in 2010, the 2008 candidate, Elwyn Tinklenberg, confirmed he’ll be running again, against one-woman gaffe machine Michele Bachmann.

CA-47: GOP Assemblyman Van Tran made it official, setting up his exploratory committee for an uphill bid against Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this D+4 Latino-majority district in the heart of the O.C. (Discussion underway in Gus Ayer‘s diary.)

ID-01: Idaho state Treasurer Don Crane spent the last week glad-handing GOP leaders and fundraisers in Washington, DC, fueling speculation that he’s ready to challenge frosh Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick next year. Would his candidacy dampen the spirits of ex-Rep. Bill “Brain Fade” Sali, who is currently mulling a rematch? (J)

GA-09: When you have an R+28 district, the only question about an open seat is what variety of wingnut you’re going to get next. Former state Senator Bill Stephens (who lost the SoS primary to Karen Handel in 2006) announced he’ll run to succeed Rep. Nathan Deal, retiring to run for governor. Former state Transportation Board chair Mike Evans is already seek the GOP nom.

IL-11: The GOP has lined up Air Force Captain Adam Kinzinger to run against freshman Rep. Debbie Halvorson in the Chicago suburbs. His exploratory committee is open, but he’s currently serving in Iraq and won’t be able to make a formal announcement until summer.

MI-11: We’ve got somebody willing to step up against Bad Thad McCotter in this Dem-trending seat in the economically hard-hit Detroit suburbs: fundraising consultant Natalie Mosher. The DCCC sounds like it’s going to keep looking for someone else, but if that fails, bear in mind that McCotter barely won in 2008 against a different Dem nobody.

GA-12: When you’re running for office, it’s important to sell yourself… but not oversell yourself. Surgeon and Iraq vet Wayne Mosely, who’s running against Rep. John Barrow in the D+1 rural Georgia district, recently tweeted that the NRCC rated his race as one of the top 3 in the nation! Uh, no, there’s no ranking system, responded the NRCC, although they did concede that they were “very excited” about Mosely’s candidacy.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/3

NY-20: Jim Tedisco has moved into a 12-vote lead as the counties continue to engage in recanvassing of the lever-pull machines, which will continue next week. (Paper ballots are impounded at least until the scheduled court hearing on the 6th.)

In other news, Tedisco stepped down from his role as minority leader in the Assembly today. (That shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a sign of confidence in winning the election; he was facing a no-confidence vote from his caucus.)

SD-Sen: The 2010 South Dakota senate race isn’t looking very fruitful for Dems, even in the unlikely event we run a top-tier recruit. (If Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin goes for a promotion, at this point she seems more interested in governor.) R2K polls SD for Daily Kos and finds that John Thune runs ahead of both ex-Sen. Tom Daschle, 53-40, and Herseth Sandlin, 51-39. All three have pretty good favorables; South Dakotans just seem to prefer to keep Thune where he is.

CT-Sen: In the wake of yesterday’s terrible poll, a primary challenger to Chris Dodd has already popped out of the woodwork. Roger Pearson, the former First Selectman of Greenwich, has formed an exploratory committee. He seems little-known outside (or even inside) of Greenwich, but we’ll have to see if he can catch an anti-Dodd wave.

AL-Gov: Looks like the Democratic primary for Governor is about to get pretty crowded; state Sen. Roger Bedford is now openly mulling a run, and the inside chatter appears that the controversial but powerful northern Alabama legislator is pretty serious about a bid.

Meanwhile, ArturD2 is kvetching like a five year-old over the probable entry of Ag Comm’r Ron Sparks into the race. (J)

NH-Sen: Despite entreaties from the NRSC, Judd Gregg says he won’t seek re-election. Apparently, he wants to devote all his time to supporting the president’s agenda in the Senate. (D)

CO-Sen: Appointed senator Michael Bennet pulled in startling fundraising numbers for the 1st quarter, raising $1.37 million. Bennet is facing a paltry field of GOPers so far (with ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez their best bet), so this may actually serve more to cause former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff to think twice about a primary challenge.

AK-Sen: With charges dropped against Ted Stevens, Alaska GOP chair Rudy Reudrich wants a do-over on last year’s election. Gov. Sarah Palin also endorsed the idea, despite her taking an anti-Stevens stand in the closing weeks of the election. However, Rep. Don Young doesn’t support the idea, saying Mark Begich “will be in the Senate and will do a good job.” (In fact, Young has a totally different idea: Stevens should run for governor in 2010 against Palin.) Stevens’ friends in the Senate also seemed resigned to the election being over.

RI-Gov: Ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee seemed to back off a bit from previous statements that he will be running for governor as an independent, saying that he will decide by May whether or not to run, once his current position (teaching at Brown) ends.

Votes: Yesterday was the big vote in the House on the Obama budget. After a lot of public vacillation, even Joe Cao voted no, joining every other Republican. 20 Democrats voted no; it’s a who’s who of who’s vulnerable (with a few entrenched Blue Dogs joining them): Barrow, Boren, Bright, Childers, Donnelly, Foster, Griffith, Kosmas, Kratovil, Kucinich, Markey, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Minnick, Mitchell, Nye, Perriello, Taylor, and Teague. The only ‘nay’ votes in districts won by Obama were John Barrow (who’s actually been fairly cooperative so far this session), Bill Foster (usually a good guy, but a deficit hawk), and Dennis Kucinich (who assumedly voted against the budget from the left for not containing enough magic ponies). In the Senate, a few hours later, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson were the only defections.

NASA: Here’s a guy we’re glad to see land on his feet: Nick Lampson, who used to represent NASA’s Houston-area facilities in TX-22, is now on the short list of potential NASA Administrators. Even Pete Olson, the guy who defeated Lampson, is advocating for Lampson.

SSP Daily Digest: 3/31

NH-Sen: The scurvy dogs at ARG! take their first reading of the 2010 New Hampshire senate race since Judd Gregg announced his retirement, finding that Rep. Paul Hodes beats ex-Sen. John Sununu 42-36. Hodes leads Sununu 38-31 among independents. (MoE ±4.2%)

KY-Sen: In the days leading up to 1Q fundraising reports, Jim Bunning has publicly admitted that his fundraising has been “lousy,” although he says “Surprisingly, we’ve had pretty good success the last month.” He’s looking forward to some April fundraisers starring such luminaries as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and fellow baseball celeb Tommy Lasorda.

GA-Gov: Roy Barnes is sounding very interested in another try at the governor’s race. Barnes got bounced by Sonny Perdue after one term in 2002, but populist anger plus demographic changes in Georgia may make a Barnes comeback feasible. (Insider Advantage found earlier this month that Barnes would defeat several of the likely GOP candidates.)

LA-02: Joseph Cao is signaling he may actually break ranks and vote for the Obama budget this week, telling The Hill that his constituents are “split.” (In the sense that they are likely to “split” his head open if he keeps voting the party line.)

History: Roll Call takes an interesting look back at the spate of special elections during the 1993-1994 session of Congress, and the structural reasons we aren’t likely to see a repeat of the disastrous 1994 election again.

Naughty Judd Gregg made money off earmarks

Thanks to New Hampshire blogger Dean Barker I learned something new today about Senator Judd Gregg.  

According to the Associated Press,

President Barack Obama’s former nominee to become commerce secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg, steered taxpayer money to his home state’s redevelopment of a former Air Force base even as he and his brother engaged in real estate deals there, an Associated Press investigation found.

Gregg, R-N.H., personally has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Cyrus Gregg’s office projects at the Pease International Tradeport, a Portsmouth business park built at the defunct Pease Air Force Base, once home to nuclear bombers. Judd Gregg has collected at least $240,017 to $651,801 from his investments there, Senate records show, while helping arrange at least $66 million in federal aid for the former base.

Sadly, this isn’t unprecedented or even the most egregious example of members of Congress profiting from earmarks. Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert sold real estate for nearly $2 million in profits after he secured federal earmarks to construct the Prairie Parkway near land he owned.

What looks corrupt in politics turns out to be legal more often than not, and that seems to be the case here. The AP says Senate ethics rules do not permit senators to direct earmarks to projects “solely” in order to benefit themselves or their family members financially, but of course Gregg could point to all kinds of benefits from redeveloping the former base.

“I am absolutely sure that in every way I’ve complied with the ethics rules of the Senate both literally and in their spirit relative to any investment that I’ve made anywhere,” Gregg told the AP. “These earmarks do not benefit me in any way, shape, manner financially, personally or in any other manner other than the fact that I’m a citizen of New Hampshire.”

Still, one wonders whether this story prompted Gregg to withdraw his nomination for Commerce Secretary. Whatever his reasons, we’re better off without him.

Members of Congress should stick to the usual form of legalized corruption and only seek earmarks that would personally profit their large campaign contributors.

No one raises ethical concerns about that behavior. As a bonus, donors who stand to gain from the earmarks may go the extra mile during the incumbent’s next tough campaign.

Census Taken Out of Gregg’s Hands

When Judd Gregg’s head first reared up over White House airspace in consideration for the spot at Commerce, my first concern wasn’t about the musical chairs in New Hampshire or about the perception vs. reality of ‘bipartisanship…’ it was about the fact that we were putting the Census Bureau in the hands of a conservative Republican. I assumed I was the one of few people with this rather arcane concern, but some serious pushback started coming in the last few days, from people like Rep. Barbara Lee… particularly in view of Gregg’s vote against providing emergency funding for the 2000 census.

Today, it was revealed that in the Obama administration, the Census Bureau director would be reporting directly to the White House (or more specifically, to Rahm Emanuel) rather than to Gregg. This provoked a furious reaction from House Republicans (and you gotta wonder if they would have said boo if Obama had decided to take, say, Bill Richardson out of the Census Bureau’s line of command):

“Any attempt by the Obama administration to circumvent the census process for their political benefit will be met with fierce opposition as this ill-conceived proposal undermines a constitutionally obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy,” said California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the committee.

You wouldn’t necessarily think the Census Bureau would be such a political football, but, well, spend some time at a data-driven site like SSP and you’ll know why. Census data is the basis for House redistricting and allotting electoral votes… the very building blocks of getting and maintaining political power. The 2000 census is a case in point: left poorly funded by a Republican Congress (meaning not enough enumerators to perform adequate follow-up counts), and unable to use oversampling methods thanks to a US Supreme Court ruling, the 2000 census probably left millions of Americans undercounted.

Unsurprisingly, the undercounted tend to be the people who are both the hardest to reach (undocumented persons avoiding contact with government representatives, homeless people with no particular address) and the most vulnerable. The catch-22 is, to provide social services to these populations, they need to be counted by the Census in order to determine the magnitude of the need and to secure the proper funding. Already-strapped cities and counties lose billions of dollars in potential federal and state aid because of undercounted residents. Connect the dots, and you can see why it’s imperative to keep the Census properly funded and out of Republican hands.

Gregg to be nominated tomorrow

According to The Politico President Obama will nominate Judd Gregg to be his Sectary of Commerce tomorrow. Gregg will almost assuredly be confirmed easily and quickly as he’s well liked by Republicans and Democrats alike.

This now opens up his Senate seat. New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor John Lynch has all but pledged to appoint a Republican to the seat and Gregg said he only would have accepted with that condition. The most commonly mentioned liberal Republican placeholder is Bonnie Newman who served as chief of staff to Gregg but also endorsed Lynch in 2004.

This almost certainly assures that Gregg will at least vote for cloture on the stimulus which makes it likely that it will pass. In addition Newman is likely to be close politically to moderate Republicans like Snowe during her two years.

Also, after two years she is likely to retire rather then run for re-election. This will make the Democratic candidate (likely progressive Rep. Paul Hodes or Rep. Carol Shea-Porter) the odds on favorite. Likely Republican candidates include former Senator John Sununu and other even weaker candidates.

So in short, this moves the Senate slightly leftward for the next two years and will add a very progressive Senator after that. In return Gregg will get to be a member of the cabinet where he can’t do a whole lot of damage and will be useful selling stuff to Senate Republicans.  

NH-Sen: Gregg to Commerce?!?

Holy shit if true:

The Obama administration has been floating the idea of naming Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) to be Commerce Secretary, several Senate sources said Thursday.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Gregg’s nomination was far from a done deal, but remains a serious possibility. Reached by phone, Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said he had no comment on whether he has been in talks with the White House about the post.

At first glance, this move might seem like TEH AWESOME – 60 SEATS0Rz! But believe it or not, I think this is actually bad for a lot of reasons. On the merits, Gregg is a conservative Republican – hardly the kind of guy I want running an important cabinet department. Of course, that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of SSP.

But electorally, it also troubles me. Gov. John Lynch would get to fill the vacancy, and he is very untrustworthy when it comes to matters of partisanship. He’s said ten times as many nice things about John McCain as he has about any Democrat. He’s regularly undermined Dems seeking elective office in New Hampshire, more than once supporting their Republican rivals (like GOP state Sen. Bob Odell). He’s just really not much a Dem.

In short, if there is any sitting Dem governor who might appoint a Republican in circumstances like this, it’s Lynch. At the very least, I think there’s almost no way he’d appoint Paul Hodes, who is our strongest candidate and a proud progressive. Lynch would very likely appoint a wishy-washy Lieberdem, perhaps even 2004 Lieberman national co-chair Katrina Swett (who briefly ran for Sununu’s seat last cycle).

These rumors may well amount to nothing. And even if they do pan out, Lynch could surprise us with a good pick, who with Franken would give us 60 seats in the Senate. But I don’t think the odds of that are high, and really, I’m not loving this.

UPDATE: As Populista points out, though, if this helps us pass the Employee Free Choice Act, then it’s worth it.

NH-Sen: Lynch Is Out

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is probably the most popular Democrat in the state, and seems like the ideal candidate to take on Senator Judd Gregg in 2010. However, today at a press conference he’s taken himself out of the running in pretty definitive fashion:

“I can tell you that although I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 2010, I’m not going to run for the United States Senate. So, that shouldn’t be a distraction as I continue to work on the budget.”

Given that Washington has seemed to be outside of Lynch’s comfort zone, however, his demurral shouldn’t be seen as too much of a surprise. Speculation will continue to focus on New Hampshire’s two Democratic representatives, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter.