SSP Daily Digest: 12/2

AK-Sen: You might recall that yesterday the state of Alaska asked to intervene in Joe Miller’s state-court case disputing the Senatorial election, demanding an expedited result. Now the judge is allowing Lisa Murkowski herself to intervene in the case as well; she says the state wouldn’t adequately represent her interests, and she’s still trying to get an additional 2,000 ballots out there (that weren’t counted for her) counted for her as icing on the cake.

FL-Sen: He isn’t even in the House yet, but there’s growing buzz for Daniel Webster for the 2012 Senate race, as a possible opponent to Bill Nelson. Of course, as far as I can tell from today’s article, that buzz seems to be coming from Webster’s own coterie, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard his name associated with the race. (Reading between the lines, it looks like Rep. Vern Buchanan — whose myriad lawsuits regarding campaign finance chicanery and his car dealership seem to have faded into the background — is another name to keep an eye on here.)

MO-Sen: Sarah Steelman already has one key backer, in the event the quest for the GOP nomination in Missouri turns into a heated primary. The Club for Growth is already lining up behind Steelman, not formally endorsing but sending around a press release touting her and also taking some swipes at Jim Talent for his earmark-lovin’ ways.

NM-Sen: More Some Dude news in New Mexico, where another random guy who lost a NM-02 primary is getting in the GOP Senate field: Greg Sowards (who lost the 2008 primary to succeed Steve Pearce). Further up the food chain, ex-Rep. Heather Wilson seems to be on GOPers’ wish list, but she says she isn’t focused on that. (I can’t see her running unless Jeff Bingaman decides to retire, and since he has fundraisers planned in coming months, he doesn’t seem to be acting like a retiree.)

NV-Sen: The big news yesterday was that John Ensign is no longer considered a target for investigation by the DOJ, in connection to that whole ooops-sorry-I-boned-your-wife-here-have-a-lobbying-job thing. He still faces internal Senate Ethics grilling, which could lead to discipline or even expulsion. How are we supposed to feel about this? A bad day for objective justice, perhaps… but probably a net plus for the Democrats, seeing as how this makes it likelier that Ensign runs again and survives a GOP primary (which a recent PPP poll, before this news, already showed him in position to do so) and enters the general election in weakened form. The local GOP seems to be reading this the same way, still feeling very leery about an Ensign run and very much preferring to see Rep. Dean Heller as their 2012 candidate.

VA-Sen: With Prince William Supervisor Corey Stewart already firing some potshots across George Allen’s bow in advance of 2012’s GOP Senate primary, now it seems like Allen’s camp is returning fire with some heavier-gauge guns. Stewart has to run for re-election to his current job in 2011, and Allen’s camp is supposedly vowing to encourage backers to pour in financial support to Stewart’s opposition in that race (whoever that might be), in order to decapitate a Stewart run before it can materialize.

MN-Gov: This is taking damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t to a new level: Tom Emmer’s team’s wave of frivolous (and when I say frivolous, I’m not being hyperbolic, as you can see here) ballot challenges in the Minnesota recount has mounted so high that officials have had to add more counting tables… and now Emmer is threatening to sue over the fact that they’ve added more counting tables, saying that that somehow indicates bias against Emmer. The SoS says that adding more tables can’t possibly violate any rules. At any rate, moving on to Day 4 of counting, the official tally now finds that the numbers have still barely budged: Mark Dayton has gained 17 votes since Election Day while Emmer has gained 14, with 84% of the vote recounted, meaning there’s really no path to victory here for Emmer.

VT-Gov: We mentioned yesterday that Peter Shumlin brought his GOP opponent, Brian Dubie, into his inner circle, and now he’s doing the Team of Rivals thing with his closest competitor from the Dem primary. Ex-Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, who Shumlin beat by 100-or-so votes, is being brought on board as Shumlin’s head of the Agency of Human Services, where his key task will be starting up the state’s planned single-payer health care system.

WV-Gov: Democratic SoS Natalie Tennant is making even more candidate-ish noises, saying she’s “strongly considering” a gubernatorial run, especially if it occurs in 2011, which would mean not having to give up her current job. Not only are acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state House speaker Richard Thompson expected to run for the Dems, but state Sen. Jeff Kessler and state Treasurer John Perdue are also interested.

MA-01, MA-02: The news from the Bay State is that veteran Democratic Reps. John Olver and Richard Neal are both publicly saying that they’re running for re-election. In any other year, that would be purely yawn-inducing, but this year, that’s fascinating, as it potentially sets them up on a collision course. My expectation was the Massachusetts redistricting conundrum would probably be solved by a retirement from the 74-year-old Olver, and parceling out pieces of the 1st into Neal’s 2nd and Jim McGovern’s 3rd. With Olver and Neal both sticking around, the subtraction is likelier come from the Boston area, where it seems likely that at least one Rep. will vacate in order to take on Scott Brown in 2012 (which would make sense since not only is Mike Capuano sounding the likeliest, but his Cambridge-based 8th is the state’s most depopulated district)… but if none of them take the plunge, the lost seat may come the state’s west. Complicating matters even further is that Pittsfield-based ex-state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo has already announced that he’s running in the MA-01 primary in 2012, Olver or not. (Would she he run in a primary against both Amherst-based Olver and Springfield-based Neal if they all get smooshed together?)

NY-01: As we mentioned yesterday, Tim Bishop’s team is urging Randy Altschuler to “give in to the math.” Yesterday’s gain from the first day of counting challenged ballots was a net gain of 27 more for Bishop.  

Redistricting: Here’s one more comprehensive redistricting resource to add to your pile, if you haven’t already seen it. The Brennan Center’s guide includes a rundown on who controls what and what procedures are used state-to-state.

New York: This is a staggeringly large number, that somehow seems disproportionate to the rather blasé NYT headline: “New York City Board of Elections Finds 200,000 Votes a Month After Election.” It’s a mishmash of affidavit, absentee, and military ballots that apparently were just now added to the totals. 80,000 of those ballots were from Queens alone, which is 31% more than that borough reported on Election Day. While there were some close races in Queens, the city says that this wasn’t enough to reverse the results in any election (and the one race that could have been worrisome, SD-11, actually saw a gain for Tony Avella, who beat GOP incumbent Frank Padavan, from 53-47 to 54.3-45.7).

NY State Senate: Meet the Candidates

As we rapidly approach the July 15th filing deadline here in New York, the biggest hurdle I find for our candidates is that not enough of New York’s voters and activists know who they are, the dynamics of the race, or how great a chance we have in 2010 to pick up more seats and secure our fragile majority in the State Senate.  

Despite all the attention lavished on Cuomo, the AG race, or the budget, the State Senate looks to be where the action is in New York politics this year, and news for Democrats so far is good.  Voter registration is trending in our favor, poll after poll shows voter dissatisfaction is directed primarily at GOP incumbents, and a recent story in The Capitol revealed the state SRCC to be in disarray.

In short, this could be a very good year for Democratic challengers hoping to unseat Republican State Senators.

But to win in November, these candidates need resources.  They need volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls, and money to hire staff, print lit, and cut ads.  Before any of that can be achieved though, politically engaged New Yorkers need to know who are candidates are, and why they are running.  

So I’ve compiled a list of 15 campaigns that the New York Senate Dems are supporting in 2010.  I hope the community will take the time to get to know these candidates, and if you like what you read, donate a few dollars before we hit the filing deadline (July 11 is the last day to give), or visit their websites and sign up for their email updates.  

I know many people are frustrated with Albany, but if we want to see progress – on ethics reform, marriage equality, green jobs and a host of other issues – the first step is expanding the Democratic majority and evicting Republican Senators standing in the way of progress.  The campaigns below could be the votes we need to push these issues through the chamber an onto the Governor’s desk.


Regina Calcaterra (Suffolk County) After growing up in Suffolk County in poverty and foster care with her four siblings, Regina Calcaterra worked hard to put herself through college and law school. As a corporate fraud lawyer, she successfully represented the pension funds of police, firefighters, and teachers, all of which suffered drastic losses due to Wall Street fraud.

While working for the NYC Comptroller, Regina strengthened the enforcement of labor laws, and advocated for laws that increased the assets of state pension funds and the city treasury while decreasing taxpayer contributions. She is a strong proponent of government reform and fiscal responsibility, including toughening of accounting standards throughout New York agencies and authorities, rescission of numerous taxes and fees, and fair share of government services for Eastern Long Island.

Her opponent is 34-year incumbent Ken LaValle.  The district (SD-1)has a Republican enrollment advantage, but it is rapidly trending Democratic and Democrats have done well up and down the ticket in recent elections.

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Dave Mejias (Nassau County)  David Mejias has dedicated his life to fighting for the people of Nassau County. In 2003, Mejias was elected to the Nassau County legislature where he voted for budgets that resulted in a no tax increases for residents and improved bond ratings for the county. He was reelected to the legislature in 2005, and in 2006 he ran for Congress against Peter King. Despite being defeated, Mejias gave Peter King the toughest challenge since King’s first election in 1992. As a life-long resident of Nassau County, Mejias understands that taxpayers on Long Island want an affordable place to call home and a government that works. As Senator, Mejias will continue his service to Nassau and bring a fresh, strong voice to Albany.

Dave’s opponent is 21-year incumbent Kemp Hannon. The district (SD-6) flipped from a GOP to Democratic registration advantage in 2009, though down-ballot Republicans still outperformed Democrats in recent years.

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Carol Gordon (Nassau, Suffolk Counties) As a Mental Health Clinic Manager and Patient Advocate at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Carol Gordon served our veterans for 25 years. In this role, Carol developed a strong commitment to American Veterans and initiated sustainable support programs, including championing an effort to have the first women veterans admitted to an all male unit. She was active on the Ethics, Family Council, and various veterans committees, and also served as manager of the Federal Women’s Program for 22 Years. In 2008, Carol became a member of the National Organization of Women and the Chairperson of the mentoring and education committee for Urban Financial Services Coalition of Long Island, an organization that promotes financial literacy.

Her opponent is 12-year incumbent Charles Fuschillo, and the district (SD-8) recently shifted from a GOP enrollment advantage to a slim Democratic advantage.

George Sava (Nassau County) George Sava has recognized the need for real leadership in Nassau County. After years of inaction by Dean Skelos, Sava is running for Senate to reverse the decades of tax-hikes that have led Nassau County to be one of the most highly taxed counties in the country. While maintaining his private law practice, Sava served in the military for over nine years. He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and in 2004 he was deployed to the Horn of Africa. A former Republican, Sava became disillusion with the GOP’s continual contradictions, tax-hikes and dysfunction. As a husband and the father of three young children residing in Woodmere, George is running for the families in Nassau County that are finding themselves priced out of Long Island.

His opponent is Republican Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos.  Like other Western Long Island districts, SD-9 recently flipped from a GOP to Democratic enrollment advantage.

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Tony Avella (Queens County) Tony Avella has dedicated his life to fighting for middle-class families. In 2001, Tony won election to the New York City Council in the 19th District – Northeast Queens and was reelected with an overwhelming majority in both the 2003 and 2005 elections. As a member of the City Council, Tony refused the “lulu;” an unethical and additional taxpayer funded salary increase in return for loyalty to council leadership instead of taxpayers. Tony fought against and subsequently refused the 25% City Council pay raise, which he considered unethical.  In 2008, Tony ran in the Democratic Mayoral primary in New York City against Bill Thompson, who has since endorsed Tony’s run for state senate.  

Fed up with the pay-to-play status quo and political special interests that have consumed Albany, Tony’s reputation as a staunch reformist will help to bring real change to Albany. A strong advocate for more reform and transparency in government, Tony will fight to transform the State Senate so that it works for the people once again.

Tony’s opponent is 38-year incumbent Frank Padavan.  The district is heavily Democratic and Padavan held onto his seat by only a few hundred votes in 2008 against a underfunded Democratic opponent.

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Mike Kaplowitz (Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess Counties) Mike Kaplowitz is a Westchester County Legislator and small business owner with a history of political independence and a record of smart fiscal management. As a county legislator, he saved over $110 million dollars in wasteful spending, and helped preserve Westchester County’s AAA bond rating, saving the county millions more in higher interest costs. As a Senator, Mike Kaplowitz will work to help small businesses, create jobs, fight to put caps on property taxes and to restore and strengthen the STAR program.

Kaplowitz is running for an open seat being vacated by Republican Vincent Leibell (SD-40). The district has a Democratic enrollment advantage, and his most likely opponent will be Tea Party candidate Greg Ball.

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Didi Barrett (Dutchess, Columbia Counties) Didi Barrett, a citizen candidate, has been a leader in the not-for-profit community for more than two decades. She is a board member of the North East Dutchess Fund and the Millbrook Education Foundation; she was the founder of Girls Inc of New York and is spearheading the development of the new Dutchess Girls Collaborative. She has served on the boards of the NY Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Campaign Fund, NARAL-NY, Planned Parenthood NY and the American Folk Art Museum. For the last two years, she has been the coordinator for her town’s Community Day.

As a State Senator, Didi Barrett will use her skills as a creative problem solver to bring jobs to the 41st District and alleviate property tax burdens for all New Yorkers. She will work to reform Albany’s dysfunctional culture.

Her opponent is 20-year incumbent Steve Saland.  The district (SD-41) has a Democratic enrollment advantage, but down ballot results have been mixed in recent elections.

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Joanne Yepsen (Saratoga, Rensselaer Counties) A Saratoga County Supervisor, Yepsen has helped keep Saratoga the lowest taxed county in the state of New York. She is committed to a zero-tolerance policy for party politics that get in the way of open, honest, efficient government. She has been re-elected County Supervisor three times on a proven record of integrity that focuses on the issues and needs of the individuals, families and businesses she represents.

Her opponent is Joe Bruno’s hand-picked successor in a district with the largest share of independent voters in the state.

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Susan Savage (Schenectady, Montgomery, Fulton, Saratoga Counties) Since she became Schenectady County Legislative Chair, Susan Savage restructured and streamlined county economic development. She helped bring $400 million and created 3300 jobs. Her efforts have led to a revitalized downtown Schenectady and expanded suburban industrial parks in Rotterdam and Glenville. Savage’s new perspective also fostered cooperation between county and local government, saving taxpayer money. Her approach and success have resulted in a resurgent economy that is a model in upstate New York. Now, Savage is ready to bring her new perspective and new ideas to Albany.

Her opponent is 34-year incumbent Hugh Farley, and the district (SD-44) has a shrinking Republican enrollment advantage.

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Kathleen Joy (Onondaga County) As Syracuse Common Counsel-At-Large and Majority Leader Kathleen Joy has a history of working across the aisle to get things done for her community is challenging.  As a Councilor, she has sponsored legislation to promote green infrastructure, building standards and open space, and she also initiated many of the housing programs embraced by the Syracuse City Administration and adopted by the Common Council.  In addition to her civic work, Joy is a real estate attorney and small business owner who has helped many first time homeowners fulfill their dreams of home ownership.

Her opponent is 18-year incumbent and self-described “GOP Pitbull” John DeFrancisco.  Democratic and GOP enrollment in the district (SD-50)is at parity, and Democrats have edged out some down-ballot wins in recent years.

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Pamela Mackesey (Streuben, Yates, Schuyler, Chemung, Tompkins Counties) Pam Mackesey is running for State Senate because she is fed up with high taxes, continual budget deficits, and the dysfunction in Albany. As a union organizer, she witnessed first-hand the struggles that everyday Shuyler, Steuben, and Chemung county residents face. As a single parent, she raised her daughter while working two, sometimes three jobs. Serving on Ithaca’s Common Council for 6 years and currently fulfilling her second term on the Tompkins County Legislature, Pam is prepared to go to Albany to work hard for her constituents and change the way business is done.

Her opponent is six-year incumbent George Winner.  The District (SD-53) has a sizeable Republican enrollment advantage.

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Mary Wilmot (Monroe County) Mary Wilmot is a life-long resident of Monroe County who brings a strong family background of service to District 55. As Regional Director for the Governor and the New York State Senate, Wilmot has extensive knowledge of the challenges Upstate New York faces. Drawing on her experience in this role, she understands the need to rein in excessive government spending and high taxes in order to preserve our local economies. As a mother and working parent, Wilmot is also committed to revitalizing our upstate community job markets. Mary will bring her passion for the environment to the Senate, championing investment in clean energy alternatives and energy conservation that will bring new industries to New York and create good jobs in Monroe County.

Her opponent is 14-year incumbent James Alesi.  The district (SD-55)has a slim Democratic enrollment advantage and Democrats have generally won up and down the ballot in recent years.

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Robin Wilt (Monroe County) Robin Wilt brings a long-standing commitment to progressive causes to Monroe County. As community activist, real estate agent, and small business owner, Wilt has seen first-hand the economic challenges facing Monroe County. In 2008, Robin co-founded the Genesee Valley chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, a grassroots organization dedicated to working inside and outside the Democratic Party to advance progressive causes. As Senator, she will work tirelessly for the people of Monroe and champion a return to good government, good jobs and good leadership.

Her opponent is seven-year incumbent Joe Robach.

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Cynthia Appleton (Erie, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario Counties)  Cynthia Appleton is a long-time community leader who is now stepping up to help us in Albany. She has spent 35 years in health care, the last 24 years as a critical care nurse. A lifelong resident of Wyoming County, her family roots in dairy farming and small business in western New York go back over a century. Now in her third term as a Village Trustee in Warsaw, Appleton has the experience to understand the impact Albany has on the local level and what needs to be done. A wife and mom, Appleton is also an award-winning director and actor in local theater and a member of Warsaw Grange 1088, the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, and many other groups.

Cynthia is running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Senator Dale Volker.

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Marc Coppola (Erie, Genesee Counties)  As a former State Senator in the 60th District, and former Majority Leader of the Common Council of the City of Buffalo, Marc Coppola brings a wealth of legislative experience to his campaign. As Majority Leader of the Common Council, he made tough decisions and cut the council budget by 33%. His campaign for State Senate is a direct response to Senator Ranzenhofer’s failure to look beyond partisanship and work to address the economic challenges facing New York, and the needs of residents of Erie and Genesee Counties.

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Disclosure – I am the New Media Director for the New York Senate Dems.

SSP Daily Digest: 12/7

AR-Sen: State Sen. Gilbert Baker has generally been treated as the frontrunner in the Arkansas GOP’s Senate field, and that became a little clearer over the weekend with the state party’s straw poll. It was a close race, though: Baker got 35% (out of 700 votes), followed closely by businessman and Huckabee crony Curtis Coleman at 33. The biggest surprise may be who finished 3rd: former Army colonel and “Christian identity” enthusiast Conrad Reynolds, at 23, followed by head teabagger Tom Cox at 4, state Sen. Kim Hendren an embarrassing 2, and some dudes Fred Ramey and Buddy Rogers at 2 and 1 apiece.

LA-Sen: Republican SoS Jay Dardenne isn’t seeming to take any steps to gear up for a primary challenge to Sen. David Vitter, but he keeps not doing anything to make the rumors go away, either. Dardenne recently said he’s considering polling the race soon, which would require setting up an exploratory committee. The only poll of a Vitter/Dardenne matchup, from R2K in March, gave Vitter an 11-pt edge.

MT-Sen: If Max Baucus is running again in 2014, this is the kind of publicity he doesn’t need in the meantime. It turns out that Baucus, who separated from his wife last year, then began an affair with his office director Melodee Hanes — and then nominated her to be Montana’s new US Attorney. She didn’t get the position, although she does now work in a different role for the DOJ.

NC-Sen: After a lot of back and forth, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham made his campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination official today. You can see his launch video at the above link. However, Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy, who’d floated his name out there for the Democratic nod, confirmed that he won’t be getting in the race.

NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: After trumpeting the rumors a few weeks ago that Rudy Giuliani was poised to enter the Senate race against Kirsten Gillibrand, now the Daily News is assessing Rudy’s decision to take on a long-term, high-profile consulting gig as security expert for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and concluding that he’s not looking so likely as a candidate for anything now. Meanwhile, over on the Dem side of the aisle, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, who briefly planned a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand, has now finally offered an endorsement to her.

PA-Sen: Rep. Joe Sestak pulled in his first endorsement from a fellow Congressperson in his primary campaign against Arlen Specter. Rep. Barney Frank offered his support today, saying that he considers Sestak one of the most valuable members of Congress.

NV-Gov: With a recent Mason-Dixon poll showing Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman with a small lead as an independent in various gubernatorial race permutations, Goodman is now publicly weighing the race. He says he’ll have an answer “real soon,” but that his wife has already given him the green light on a run.

AL-02: Can teabagging save Bobby Bright next year? Not by him doing it (or we can only hope)… instead, Montgomery city counilor Martha Roby, the NRCC’s pick in the race, is going to face a primary challenge from the ultra-right. Businessman Rick Barber, who’s been active in local tea parties and the 9/12 Washington march, is planning to take on Roby. He has to be encouraged by an interesting new poll from Rasmussen, which suggests that, given a choice between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Tea Party member in the upcoming election, the Tea Partier would beat the Republican, 23-18 (with the Democrat prevailing at 36%).

PA-06: Wealthy pharma executive Steven Welch, who fled from the race in the 7th to the 6th when Patrick Meehan appeared, is now earning “RINO” labels and the enmity of the RedStaters. Welch not only gave Joe Sestak $300 in 2006, but also was a registered Democrat from 2006 through 2008. Also, another GOPer is sniffing out the race (as the possible fifth entrant in the GOP field): Scott Zelov, commissioner of very wealthy and moderate Lower Merion Township on the Main Line.

TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron is fighting back against the wide-ranging attacks leveled against him by the NRCC, as his candidacy for the 8th enters its second week. (Recall from last week that the NRCC has been gay-baiting Herron.) Herron called the NRCC’s attacks “ridiculous and desperate,” to which the NRCC said Herron was “foaming at the mouth” and “hurling ‘Yo mama’-style insults.” As much as the NRCC is transparently guilty of what they accuse Herron of, they at least win some points for evocative language here. An article from the Tennessean lists a few other Dems who may be interested in the seat, despite Herron’s quick entry, one of whom is a big name: former state House speaker Jimmy Naifeh (who had considered a run in 1988, when John Tanner took over the seat). They also list state Sen. Doug Jackson as a possibility.

NY-St. Sen.: State Sen. Hiram Monserrate is managing to escape his misdemeanor assault conviction with no jail time, leaving his colleagues wondering what to do with him (including censure, suspension, or expulsion). Also, good news for the Dems as they look for ways to expand their narrow majority: one of the last Republicans left in the Senate within the New York City limits, Frank Padavan, may get a top-tier challenge next year from former city councilor Tony Avella (last seen losing the mayoral primary to William Thompson).

Mayors: Kasim Reed has been certified as elected as the new mayor of Atlanta. His opponent, city councilor Mary Norwood, still plans to request a recount of the election, decided by a margin of less than one thousand votes. In New York City, guess who finished fourth in the mayoral race: fictional character C. Montgomery Burns, who got more write-in votes than any other candidate. Why just vote for a billionaire buying the office who’s only a little bit creepy and evil, when instead you can go the Full Monty?

History: Here’s an interesting piece of trivia: a woman was not elected to the U.S. Senate, without having been the wife or daughter of a previous Senator, until 1980. That woman was Republican Paula Hawkins, who served as Florida’s Senator for one term, and in her outspoken self-proclaimed averageness, telegenic ultra-conservatism, and resentments of liberal media elites, was something of a Sarah Palin prototype. Hawkins died over the weekend at age 82.

Polltopia: Here’s another thoughtful article at on what’s driving Rasmussen’s perceptibly pro-Republican house effects, from professor Alan Abramowitz. He says that there’s more going on than just their use of a likely voter model; he sees a major difference between Rasmussen and other pollsters in terms of the Democratic advantage in party identification. Meanwhile, PPP is asking for your help yet again: they’d like your input on which House district to poll next. Should it be CO-03, CO-04, ID-01, NH-01, NM-01, NM-02, or SD-AL?

SSP Daily Digest: 9/14 (Afternoon Edition)

CA-Sen (pdf): According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Barbara Boxer is holding fairly good approval ratings, as she approaches a possibly competitive (and definitely expensive) re-election: 53/32, really no different from her stodgier colleague Dianne Feinstein, 54/32. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who isn’t running again, fares much worse: 30/61.

CO-Sen: As we’re staring down the barrel of a competitive Democratic primary in the Senate race, three of the state’s five House Dems have gotten behind incumbent appointee Michael Bennet (John Salazar, Jared Polis, and Betsy Markey), along with fellow Sen. Mark Udall. However, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter are staying neutral. Other Bennet backers include current state House speaker Terrance Carroll.

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: The Cook County Dems made their endorsements in the 2010 primaries, which are less than half a year away. No major surprises: they endorsed state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for Senate and incumbent Pat Quinn for Governor. That rankled Quinn’s rival, Comptroller Dan Hynes, who hit Quinn for seeking machine backing when, back in his reformer days, Quinn had been an advocate for open primaries. Meanwhile, in the Senate primary, upstart Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman is taking the clean politics approach, saying that he’ll accept no PAC money for his campaign.

MA-Sen: The fields are starting to solidify in Massachusetts: Rep. John Tierney, from MA-06 in Boston’s northern suburbs, decided against a run. He has less money than his fellow House members and polled in the single digits in the lone poll of the primary. Rep. Richard Neal is the only House member left who initially seemed like a potential candidate (mostly because of his bankroll), but his silence in the last week has been telling. On the GOP side of the aisle, state Senator Scott Brown got in the race over the weekend; with Mitt Romney, Andy Card, Kerry Healey, and Christy Mihos out, Brown is about as good as it’s going to get for the Republicans.

NH-Sen: Here’s one more Republican from the Republican wing of the party pondering a run in the New Hampshire Senate primary: businessman and RNC member Sean Mahoney. Mahoney says he’s gotten a push from the conservative grassroots to run, as many of them seem uneasy with the Beltway coronation of Kelly Ayotte, whose inability to take a position… any position… is taking on epic proportions. (If Mahoney’s name seems vaguely familiar, he lost the 2002 NH-01 GOP primary to Jeb Bradley.)

NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Here’s the rumor du jour, and it’s a doozy: Rudy Giuliani is being pushed by state GOP leaders to run for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand instead of for Governor; apparently the state GOP is convinced that Andrew Cuomo, not David Paterson, will be the Dems’ nominee next year. Nobody has polled Gillibrand/Giuliani before, but that seems like it would be a close race, if the Gillibrand/Pataki numbers are any indication (of course, there’s a big stylistic difference between the vanilla George Pataki and the dictatorial Rudy, just that they’re both known quantities at this point). Perhaps (between this rumor and Rudy’s failed coup against Ed Cox) sensing that the Rudy won’t be getting into the Governor’s race — or maybe just because of his own special brand of tone-deafness — ex-Rep. Rick Lazio made his formal announcement today that he’s running for Governor.

AZ-Gov: In the “blast from the past” file, former Governor Fife Symington is now considering a comeback by running in the GOP primary against appointed Governor Jan Brewer. That’s the same Symington who was forced out of office in 1997 after conviction for bank fraud, although his conviction was overturned on appeal and he was subsequently pardoned by Bill Clinton. Strangely, we could see a re-run of the 1990 gubernatorial election, if Symington and Dem AG Terry Goddard face off against each other again.

NJ-Gov (pdf): One more poll (from Monmouth) showing Chris Christie with a persistent, but shrinking, edge over Jon Corzine in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Among likely voters, Christie has a 47-39 edge (with 5 for Chris Daggett), much better than August’s 50-36 Christie lead but comparable to July’s 45-37 lead. Hold onto your hats, though: among registered voters, Corzine actually leads, 41-40 (with 6 for Daggett). In the fine print, Corzine is continuing to solidify his standing among Democrats, up to 77% among Dems (up from 73% in August and 67% in July). The challenge here, apparently, will be getting those Dems in the ‘unlikely voter’ column to show up.

OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber doesn’t seem like he’ll have the Dem primary to himself: former SoS Bill Bradbury looks like he’s on track to run. Bradbury has hired a campaign manager, and announces that Kitzhaber’s predecessor as Governor, Barbara Roberts, will be on hand for his announcement next week. One other possible challenger in the Dem primary, one that no one had thought of before, is Clackamas County Commission Chair Lynn Peterson. Peterson is 40 and still building her reputation; cynics’ knee-jerk reaction might be to think she’s angling for the Lt. Governor slot, but Oregon doesn’t even have a Lt. Governor. Finally, everyone’s still waiting to see what Rep. Peter DeFazio does; he was supposed to have made a decision by Labor Day but says he’ll keep on anaylzing his choices.

AR-02: Politico has an unusual rumor: former US Attorney and former Karl Rove right-hand-man Tim Griffin is considering a run against Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder in the Little Rock-based 2nd (which, in wake of 2008, is, at R+5, the most Dem-friendly district in Arkansas). Considering that Griffin had earlier pondered and declined a run in AR-Sen, the step down doesn’t make much sense at all, as he’d most likely have a better shot against the vulnerable Blanche Lincoln, who hasn’t polled well lately. The entrenched Snyder may create the appearance of being vulnerable because of his bank account, but that’s mostly because he refuses to fundraise during off years.

IL-10: State Rep. Beth Coulson, running for the GOP primary nod for the open seat in the 10th against several self-funders, got endorsements from two members of the GOP House delegation: fellow suburban moderate Judy Biggert… and, in an apparent nod to the reality of what works in the 10th, from the state delegation’s wingnuttiest member, John Shimkus, last seen ducking out early from Obama’s health care address to beat the lines at the urinal.

WI-03: State Sen. Dan Kapanke gives the GOP a rather strong candidate against Rep. Ron Kind (or more ominously, an open seat, in case Kind decides to run for Governor). However, Dems succeeded in taking Kapanke down a peg and dinging him for $38,100 ($100 in statutory damages plus $38K in legal fees) for violating state open records laws.

NYC: One more poll of the Democratic primaries for the city offices, before tomorrow’s election. The mayor’s race is actually the least interesting, with Comptroller William Thompson beating city councilor Tony Avella 46-17. Ex-PA Mark Green has pole position in the Public Advocate’s race, but the question is whether he can beat the 40% threshold in order to avoid a runoff. Currently, he’s at 36%, with city councilor Bill DeBlasio at 20%. The Comptroller’s race is almost certainly headed for a runoff, but city councilor John Liu seems to be breaking out from the pack, at 34%; he leads Melinda Katz at 23% and David Yassky at 19%. In case you’re wondering what’s up with the Manhattan DA race, there is one recent poll of the race, an internal from the Cyrus Vance Jr. camp. It gives Vance a 30-24 edge over Leslie Crocker Synder, with Richard Aborn at 15.

Census: The Census Bureau is severing its relationship with ACORN, which was working with the Census to promote Census participation. Loosely translated, Director Robert Groves said that the organization was enough of a distraction that it was becoming a net liability instead of asset in terms of getting people to participate in the Census.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/28

KY-Sen: Here’s a surprise; Mitch McConnell says he still won’t endorse in the GOP Senate primary, despite the presence of only one establishment candidate anymore (SoS Trey Grayson). Is he worried about drawing the wrath of the nationwide army of malfunctioning Paulbots? Anyway, even though he won’t endorse, he and 22 other GOP Senators are still planning to host a $500/person fundraiser in DC for Grayson in September.

LA-Sen: David Vitter dodged rumored challenges from Suzanne Terrell, Tony Perkins, and John Cooksey, but his luck may yet run out. Retired Lt. General Russel Honore, who has a high profile from his role in leading forces tasked with rescuing Katrina victims, says he’s leaning toward running in the GOP primary. Honore, a Creole African-American who lives near Baton Rouge, says he’s been a Republican since the Reagan era. A tough primary might be just what we need to soften up Vitter before loosing Charlie Melancon on him.

MA-Sen: The Massachusetts Secretary of State says that Gov. Deval Patrick has two choices as to the timing of the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat: A Dec. 8 primary and a Jan. 19 general, or a Dec. 15 primary and a Jan. 26 general. (D)

NV-Sen: If this is meaningful, and not just cloud talk — that Harry Reid is going on record as saying health care reform must contain a public option, which moves us that much closer since (as best as I can tell) he’s the person with primary responsibility for how to merge the (good) HELP and (probably crappy) Finance Committee bills into one — we may have Danny Tarkanian and Susan Lowden to thank for passage of a public option. Facing suddenly perilous re-election prospects in the polls, Reid may be realizing that he’s going to need strong on-the-ground union support to stay in office in 2010, and that he’s not getting anything but tepid support from them without a decent reform package.

AR-Gov: There was a second phase to PPP’s Arkansas poll that showed Blanche Lincoln looking weak for re-election, with some details about the 2010 gubernatorial race. If there’s one governor in the country who doesn’t have much to worry about it, it’s Democrat Mike Beebe, who has 63/17 approvals and beats prospective GOP challenger state Rep. Allen Kerr 55-24.

AZ-Gov: Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, still getting her feet wet in the gube office, says that she’s “leaning toward” running for a full term in 2010. Despite having a rough time with the state legislator with her proposed tax increases, Brewer says that she “loves being governor, and I love campaigning”. (J)

GA-Gov: Rep. Nathan Deal doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in the Georgia Governor’s race, but now there are some nasty allegations out that may further dim whatever luster he once had. Apparently he intervened with Georgia state officials, lobbying them to preserve an obscure state program on inspection of rebuilt salvaged vehicles. Deal owns co-owns a salvage company that provides the location for these inspections, a company from which he personally earns up to $150,000 a year. Deal personally lobbied the state Revenue Commissioner against opening the program up to competitors instead of preserving his monopoly.

SC-Gov: State lawmakers are apparently getting ready to hold a special session of the legislature to impeach and remove Gov. Mark Sanford. Meanwhile, an Insider Advantage poll says 50% of South Carolinians think Sanford should resign. (D)

IA-05, IA-Gov: Rep. Steve King has ruled out a run for Governor and will run for re-election to the House again. While having been mentioned as a possible candidate earlier in the year, shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Iowa, he hadn’t shown much interest lately. Looks like it’s Terry Branstad (who’s still making up his mind) or bust for the Iowa GOP.

IL-14: Rotta the Huttlet Ethan Hastert won’t have the GOP primary to himself in his attempt to revenge the Hutt Hastert family name. Mark Vargas, a former Dept. of Defense official in Iraq, former Kane County Young Republicans chair, and briefly, an aide in the elder Hastert’s district office, said he’ll run too.

MT-AL: Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is listed in stable condition after being injured in a boating accident on Flathead Lake at some point between 10 pm and midnight last night.

NC-08: Republicans finally have a candidate to challenge freshman Democrat Larry Kissell this year, but it’s not anyone with a track record of electoral success. Retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston, who won 38% of the vote in an unsuccessful state House campaign last year, announced yesterday that he’ll seek the GOP nomination to challenge Kissell just a week after ex-Rep. Robin Hayes and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory passed on the race. Republicans seem to hope that Huddleston, who is African-American, will chip some support away from Kissell in the district’s sizable black community. Good luck with that. (J)

ND-AL: A Republican has stepped forward to take on entrenched Blue Dog Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota. Paul Schaffner currently is an insurance salesperson and has no electoral experience, but may have some residual name rec from his stints as football player at NDSU and assistant coach at local Jamestown College and Univ. of Mary.

NYC-Mayor: SurveyUSA has a new poll of the Democratic primaries in New York City, which closely match the Quinnipiac findings earlier this week. For the Dem nod in the mayoral race, Comptroller William Thompson leads city councilor Tony Avella, 48-13. Ex-Public Advocate and former mayoral candidate Mark Green has a big lead at 38% in the Public Advocate primary.  City councilor Melinda Katz leads the Comptroller field at 27%.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/26

FL-Sen: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she won’t endorse in the GOP Senate primary or in the general election, out of deference to Kendrick Meek. Says IRL: “Kendrick was a gentleman and I’m a lady back to him,” because he didn’t lift a finger to help Annette Taddeo last year, “despite all the nasty bloggers egging him on.” Next time, we’ll just have to egg harder. (D)

Meanwhile, in the contest purely in Charlie Crist‘s mind over who to appoint to replace Mel Martinez, Crist will reportedly name someone by week’s end from his not-so-short list of eight or so names.

OR-Sen: John Frohnmayer, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts under Bush I, was reportedly considering a bid for the Senate against Ron Wyden, but has now decided against it. (You may remember Frohnmayer had tried running as an Indie in the 2006 Smith/Merkley Senate race, but decided against that too.) Interestingly, the story makes it completely unclear whether he was planning to run as a Democrat or an Independent (probably not as a Republican, despite that he’s from one of the state’s brand-name GOP families, considering that the once-dominant moderates have been routed from the state party), but it sounded like he’d be going after the usually-liberal Wyden from the left, as he’d been reaching out to Democratic activists upset over Wyden’s foot-dragging on health care reform. No GOPer has stepped forward to take on Wyden from the right.

NJ-Gov: One more wheel popped off the suddenly overloaded Chris Christie bus: the woman who allegedly received the undisclosed loan from Christie while working for him has resigned. Michele Brown was the acting first assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, but she quit yesterday, saying she didn’t want to be a distraction for the campaign.

NY-Gov: Politico’s Alex Isenstadt offers a rebuttal to the NYT’s speculations that Rudy Giuliani is prepping for a gubernatorial run. Close associates say that while he’s not saying no, he isn’t fundraising either, and that his bids for attention may have more to do with paying down campaign debts from his epic presidential fail.

SC-Gov: Two Republican state Reps, Nathan Ballentine (known as a Mark Sanford ally) and Gerry Simrill met privately with Sanford to let him know that if he doesn’t step down, the GOP-held legislature will impeach him. (Sanford told them he’s staying.) Also, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer publicly called for Sanford to resign today (and, by the way, give him his job). Bauer said he’d drop his 2010 gubernatorial bid if he were to become governor, though.

TX-Gov: It looks like there’ll be an alternative to Bush-backer Tom Schieffer and weirdo self-promoter Kinky Friedman in the Democratic primary after all: Hank Gilbert, a cattle rancher who lost the 2006 Agriculture Commissioner race (although he did do the best of any Dem statewide candidate that year), says he’ll run. Burnt Orange Report sounds very pleased. Meanwhile, Kay Bailey Hutchison faced down a truckload of pigs brought to one of her rallies by snout-wearing pro-Rick Perry, anti-pork activists. KBH is also looking to sell her mansion in McLean, Virginia, a tea leaf that a) she’s serious about bailing out of the Senate and b) she needs money.

WI-Gov: There’s already a Republican internal poll from the Scott Walker camp done by the Tarrance Group, reflecting the new post-Jim Doyle configuration of the Wisconsin governor’s race. As one might expect from a Walker poll, he leads all comers, although the Milwaukee Co. Exec barely beats Milwaukee mayor and ex-Rep. Tom Barrett, 44-43. Walker posts bigger numbers over Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, 48-40 and Rep. Ron Kind, 49-39, and an even-bigger number against GOP primary rival ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, 57-21. Barrett leads a Dem primary over Lawton and Kind, 39-25-19 (only Lawton has committed to the race so far, though).

NYC-Mayor: The mayor’s race in New York seems to be in a holding pattern, with I/R incumbent Michael Bloomberg beating Democratic Comptroller William Thompson, 50-35, not much change from last month’s 47-37 spread. Thompson leads city councilor Tony Avella 45-10 in the primary. Further down the ballot, it looks like Air America head Mark Green is poised for a comeback as Public Advocate (a job he held 1994-2001), with 38% in a 4-way Dem primary field.

Ads: The DNC has launched a series of radio ads providing cover for 13 potentially vulnerable Dems, regarding their earlier stimulus and SCHIP votes: Berry, Himes, Donnelly, Kissell, Teague, Rodriguez, Perriello, Ross, Hill, Etheridge, Brad Miller, Pat Murphy, and Inslee. (OK, those last four don’t seem vulnerable at all, but whatever.) Also, a coalition of MoveOn, Americans United for Change, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters launched TV spots against 5 Republicans over cap-and-trade: McCotter, Rehberg, Blunt, Wolf, and Cantor… and print ads against 2 Dems who also were ‘no’ votes: Jason Altmire in the Pittsburgh suburbs and Ann Kirkpatrick in rural Arizona.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/29

OH-Sen: Auto dealer Tom Ganley hasn’t really attracted anyone’s attention yet in the GOP primary, as ex-Rep. Rob Portman has the whole ‘inevitability’ thing going for him. This ought to get some attention, though: Ganley says he’s ready to spend more than $5 million, mostly his own money, to get noticed. Ganley has been sharpening his attacks on Portman as “career politician,” not a label you really want to get saddled with these days.

NJ-Gov (pdf): The polls keep looking worse for Jon Corzine; this time it’s PPP’s turn. Chris Christie leads 50-36, with Corzine getting the votes of only 64% of Democrats and 26% of Independents. The 14-lead for Christie is up from 10, in PPP’s last outing in late June.

NYC-Mayor: Quinnipiac finds that Democratic NYC Comptroller William Thompson pulls within 10 points of incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 47-37, but they note that this may have to do with a small tweak in method than any larger trend. In this poll, they identified Bloomberg as “Independent and Republican” instead of just “Independent” as they did last time, when he did much better at 54-32. Thompson has been going on the offensive, though, so his name rec is probably much improved, too. Thompson beats Queens city council member Tony Avella in the primary, 44-11. Both Bloomberg and Thompson has positive job approval rates: 63/29 and 53/10, respectively.

CA-10: The fields are set for the Sep. 1 special primary election, and now state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier is the first to hit the TV airwaves, running an ad focusing on health care reform.

RNC: Also on the health care front, the RNC (not the NRCC, interestingly) is running radio spots against 60 different House Democrats, mostly in conservative-leaning districts, accusing them of a “dangerous experiment.” There are also TV ads in the cheapo markets of Nevada, North Dakota, and Arkansas. That sounds like a huge package, but the whole thing is only costing them $1 million.

TN-St. Sen.: Get ready for a special election in the Tennessee Senate in SD 31 in the Memphis suburbs; GOP Sen. Paul Stanley resigned yesterday (leaving the GOP with an 18-14 edge, with 1 vacancy) after he was Unmasked having an affair with his 22-year-old female intern, after the intern’s boyfriend tried extorting him over naughty pictures. Naked pictures of state senate groupies? Hmmm… that sounds more like Gene Simmons to me than Paul Stanley. (In case you’re wondering, her name is not “Beth,” although based on her previous track record, she does certainly seem to like to rock and roll all night and party ev-er-y day) (Actually, I’m wondering if any one of these KISS references is going to have any resonance among SSP’s key readership demographics.)

Initiatives: Michigan Democrats are interested in using the ballot initiative process in 2010 to short-circuit the whole legislative song-and-dance on some key issues that have some populist resonance with the voters. These might include a hike in the minimum wage to $10, temporary moratoria on home foreclosures, and requiring all employers to provide health insurance.

NYC Mayor- The State of the Race without Weiner

Crossposted at

After narrowly losing the Democratic Primary for NYC Mayor in 2005 to Fernando Ferrer, Congressman Anthony Weiner of Queens appeared to be the instant frontrunner for 2009. At times during his second term, Mayor Bloomberg’s numbers were so bad that it appeared Weiner would waltz into Gracie Mansion.

But Democrats are apparently fortune’s fool when it comes to New York City Mayoral Elections. Since the economic crisis, Bloomberg’s numbers have shot up and their frontrunner, Anthony Weiner, appears to be backing out of the race according to a letter to supporters;

Over the next months, the task of lifting our nation and our city out of the worst economic turmoil in 70 years will be – and I hope agree, should be – my top priority.

So you won’t see me holding campaign rallies. You won’t see me knocking on doors asking for votes.

There is a time for politics, but this is a time for problem solving. And boy do we have a lot of problems to solve in Washington today.

Weiner says he will make a final decision in late Spring, but it is unlikely, given that the election is eight months away and he is behind in the polls, that Weiner would enter the race so late.

A January Quinnipiac poll… showed that while Weiner was ahead of NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson in the Democratic Party, Weiner would start out well behind Bloomberg in a general election. Despite supporting a controversial bill that allowed him to run for a third term, Bloomberg lead Weiner 50%-35%. He also leads Thompson 50%-34%. Is Weiner willing to fight a year long battle he would an underdog in during a time when he could be a major player in a Democratic majority in Congress?

Weiner is also face with the reality that his district, the 9th district of New York, was the only one in the New York Metropolitan Area where President Obama actually lost ground from John Kerry and Al Gore. Where Kerry won the district 56%-44%, Obama beat McCain in the district 55%-44%. Although most district residents are Democrats and Obama ran away with the Queens portion of the district, a special election to fll the seat if Weiner vacates it may produce a nasty divisive Democratic split that could enable a Republican or conservative Democrat to win the seat. (The 9th district produced nasty Democratic primaries in the past, including the divisive battle between Weiner and now City Councilwoman Melinda Katz in 1998 after Charles Schumer vacated the seat to run for the Senate).

Good news for the Democrats is that with Weiner out, it’s likely they will avoid a divisive primary, something that has hurt the Democratic Party in every mayoral race sincethe infamous Ed Koch/David Dinkins battle in 1989. Bill Thompson becomes the instant frontunner with his only opponent, NYC Councilman Tony Avella of Queens, largely unknown and underfunded only six months out from the primary. A well run campaign by Thompson could unite the Democratic Party and help him win an election, but many Democrats appear to approve of Bloomberg, so even with a clear path through the primary, the race is probably uphill for Thompson.

Thompson may still face a competitive primary, if Avella runs a strong campaign to gather support from those who would have supported Weiner, or if another strong Democrat enters the race. Other Democrats looking into the race include Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and actor Alec Baldwin. Bloomberg also hasn’t yet received the full support of the city’s Republican party. John Catsimatidis, CEO of the Red Apple Group, has indicated he is running for the Republican nomination.