SSP Daily Digest: 2/4

CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he’s saying he’s “considering” the race and will make a decision by March. He’s also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn’t run.

FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he’d probably have expected Cannon’s help.)

MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn’t sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he’s focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank’s announcement yesterday that he’s running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he’s running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state’s 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there’s no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there’s a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown’s millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.

NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning’s faves among Republicans are 57/12.

VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn’t report anything since his candidacy didn’t launch until the new year.

WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna’s direction over health care reform in what’s very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you’re wondering about who’s planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there’s word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08’s Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.

WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.

IA-03: Here’s some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)

LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who’s been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he’s already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year’s AG race (although Caldwell’s switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year’s freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.

Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41’s Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06’s Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05’s Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28’s Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05’s Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09’s Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03’s Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12’s Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03’s Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).

Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida’s Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments’ backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida’s system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative’s requirements won’t be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts’ content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.

Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you’re able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They’re available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.

FEC: I’m not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.

Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.

Yet another reflection on PA-12 and what it means for 2010

I sincerely hope that you are not getting sick over analysis of the special election to replace the late Jack Murtha.  Because I have taken some time to look over the race and what I think it means for 2010 as a whole.

When I first heard the tragic news of Congressman Murtha I felt sorrow for the loss of a veteran Congressman and ex Marine but at the same time I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind about the possible loss of the seat. I was somewhat perplexed at the time on why we chose his former district director rather than an ex Governor or ex State Treasurer who both appeared at first glance to be far superior candidates than the highly unheard of Mark Critz.

    This race was instantly thought to be a highly competitive and would be a potential look ahead at the upcoming 2010 elections.  The district had the oddity of being the only one that was won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004 but lost by Barack Obama in 2008. While it appears to be Democrat on a local level it is obvious to me that the district is slowly trending away from us. I think Murtha would have likely retired in 2012 if he would not have passed away.

     Now to the fun part actually putting some analysis to this race. Critz ran a GREAT campaign. He was a fairly likeable candidate and was able to create a good message of being a populist with a clear independent streak in terms of social issues which played well with the many social conservatives in the district. He knew the district;  what the district was like and what he would have to do to get elected. He knew residents were upset at national Democrats and HCR and pretty much anything that had to do with Washington DC. He was able to all of this even when  national Republicans poured A LOT of money into this district.

    He was a GOOD candidate. Thank gosh someone was able to see it in him during the selection process. I think the overall lesson we can take from this to put towards the midterms is quality of candidate. I do believe a Democrat who knows what he or she is doing can win an R+5 district and a Republican a D+5. It’s all about the candidate. If a candidate knows what is popular and what is not in the district and knows how to play on these issues then they have a great shot of winning despite party label. For example I don’t think anyone honestly believed the Republicans had any shot whatsoever of winning Massachusetts when Ted Kennedy died. However little did they know the sacrificial lamb they put up turned out to be a great candidate who related to the people and knew his stuff while his opponent took a relaxing vacation  and probably measured the drapes for her Senate office. Brown won, and he won not because of hatred of the President or Democrats in general but rather the voters attraction to him, who they could relate to as being the outsider who drove a truck.

    Critz knew just how hard hit the district was on an economic level so he ran a campaign focused on job creation and  stressing his difference from national politicians which are all popular things in his district. It is all about the candidate and how they introduce themselves to the voter. If Democratic incumbents in tough districts talk about all the positive popular things they have done then I don’t think 2010 will be nearly as bad as everyone seems to think.  Run as someone who voted for tougher sanctions on Wall Street who has fought for job creation and economic development. Assuming they voted in favor of Health Care Reform talk about the positives it has and how it will help the people and paint the opponents of it as being pro insurance companies and against the highly popular aspects of reform like treating pre-existing conditions and letting children stay on the family policy until they are 28. If all candidate can do what Critz did and run a good campaign then we will do great in 2010.

    The point of this diary is a good candidate should not be written off just because it’s a tough district or state in a seemingly Republican year. We should not be scared of 2010 but excited. We have many great pickup opportunities and should not just do defense but a little offense as well. I know not every one can run a campaign similar to that of Brown and Critz but we should not write any race off just yet. Anything can happen after all. It just depends on the campaign someone runs.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

PA-05: McCracken for Congress — Working the Final Week to Take Back Our Future

The campaign schedule has been pretty intense over the last week and will continue to be so until the BIG day on Tuesday, November 4th.   I want to congratulate everyone for putting so much effort into this year’s election, not just for an individual campaign, but for the entire Democratic ticket.  I’ve seen people in every community throughout the 5th district working to make sure the message is getting out.  

I want to remind everyone it is important that we finish strong.   Don’t take anything for granted, ignore the polls and work like the polls show our candidates 5 points down.  Remember, while all indications show Barack Obama will be our next president, if we believe the polls, Al Gore would be concluding his second term or we would be working to re-elect President John Kerry right now.

On a personal note specifically dealing with our campaign for the United State Congress, I want to assure everyone that I am working as hard as I can heading into the final week of the campaign.   Back in January when Kelly and I decided we would enter the race we knew that 2008 would be a difficult year for our family.  We’ve missed opportunities to do things as a family but we knew solving the problems besieging our nation required a sacrifice.  What is encouraging is watching the work everyone is doing and seeing people giving of their time and donating their personal skills to bring a positive result on November 4th.

For the final week, I ask that everyone keep in mind what the real goal is.  The real goal isn’t just to win an election, what we are working for in 2008 is to take back our future.   I’ve been stressing to voters the last couple of weeks to realize over the last 8 years poor decisions in Washington have put the future for our children and grandchildren in jeopardy.  The one issue more apparent than any other is the outrageous deficit and debt that George W. Bush will leave behind when he moves out of the White House in January.

My Republican opponent constantly says the “Bush tax cuts are our tax cuts” when the real truth is the Bush debt is our debt.  The only way we are going to get our future back is by voting for the right people on November 4th who will make the tough decisions to put our country back in order.   It all starts with making our federal government fiscally strong so we can invest in our nation and make the lives of all our citizens better.   Sacrifice will be necessary, but in the end our country will be better.

A Very Important Endorsement:

I am please to announce that my candidacy has received the endorsement of the Veterans and Military Families for Progress.  In the letter informing our campaign of the endorsement the organization stated “Veterans and Military Families for Progress has chosen to endorse your campaign.  We do this in recognition of your support of veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, and military family issues.  We hope that in some way our endorsement provides you an electoral advantage and ultimately ensures your election to the Pennsylvania Fifth Congressional District seat”.

This is a very important endorsement to receive from a prestigious organization that is dedicated to supporting the issues important of the active military and their families along with our veterans.  This is an endorsement our campaign can be very proud to receive.

Campaign Commercial:

We are getting our message of fiscal responsibility out to the people of this district.  We have a plan to right the ship and move in a new direction that includes balancing the budget, paying down the debt and investing here at home.  

We can’t afford any more of the “borrow and spend” mentality that has gotten us in this situation.  This debt is a national security issue and we intend to confront it with the experience and even-handedness it requires.

Review of the Past Week on the Campaign Trail:

I participated in 4 more candidate debates this week.  We started off Monday evening with a 2 hour debate from Mansfield University in Tioga County that was broadcast live on PCN.   Tuesday and Wednesday brought debates in smaller venues with stop in Bellefonte on Tuesday and an event on Wednesday in Lewistown.   On Thursday all 3 candidates participated in a live 1 hour debate broadcast live on WPSU-TV.

The one thing I’ve taken out of all these debates that I’ve participated in, some just with my Republican opponent and others that also included the Libertarian candidate, is I am on the right side of the issues that affect the majority of the people in the 5th district.  When you list off the issues we are regularly asked about in the debates — Fiscal Responsibility, Health Care Reform, Social Security, Public Education Policy, Energy Policy and the Iraq War, the stances I take which mostly mirrors the rest of the Democratic Party platform are in line with what I am hearing from voters in the 5th district.   We won’t know until next week if what I’m saying is really resonating with the voters in the 5th district but I feel confident that our message is strong and voters are listening.  

Saturday finished the week with a strong day of campaigning.  I started out the day at 1 PM in Emporium, Cameron County for the fall Democratic luncheon.   I then made a 70 mile dash to Lock Haven to attend a 3 PM GOTV rally headlined by Gov. Ed Rendell.   I shared the stage with Rep. Mike Hanna, Obama campaign rep. Jayson Harpster, Clinton County Commissioners Joel Long and Adam Coleman, Lock Haven Mayor Rick Vilello and Clinton County Democratic Chairman Dave Wallace.   Then it was on to a 5 PM appearance in Boalsburg at the Centre County Democratic Fall banquet with Gov. Rendell and all the Democratic candidates representing Centre County.  The long day ended with a final stop after 7 PM in Lewistown for the Mifflin County Democratic Fall banquet.  

Schedule for Upcoming Week:

Monday — 6 PM —  Meeting with Federal Credit Union Members — Hampton Inn DuBois

Tuesday  — 8 AM — Radio Interview WRSC

Tuesday — 9:30 AM — Tour of AccuWeather

Tuesday — 6:30 PM — Debate in New Bethlehem / Clarion County sponsored by League of Women Voters

Wednesday — 7 PM — Penn State Political Science Debate — West Hall Commons Building — Main Campus

Thursday — 8 AM — Radio Interview — DuBois  

Thursday — 7 PM — WPSU Radio Debate

Friday — 8 AM — Radio Interview with Jerry Fisher — State College

Saturday — Time TBD — GOTV Rally in Clarion County

Sunday — Time TBD — GOTV Rally in State College

— Keep talking with people about the 5,000 Friends to Flip the Fifth project. We can win the 5th District Congressional District for the first time in 32 years but we need to be organizing our forces heading into the final weeks. The only way to turn this country around is to send people to Washington who will make the tough decisions. The choice in the 5th district is clear. My opponent regularly states that he supports the fiscal policies of the Bush administration AKA “the Bush tax cuts” and will continue them — More of the Same. While I continue to stress that we must balance the budget, built a surplus and pay down the debt.

In order to get the message out to voters we will need to advertise which costs money. Please contact your family and friends and urge them to financially support our campaign as we move into the final weeks. Donations can be made online through or by direct mail to McCracken for Congress, PO Box 332, Clearfield PA 16830.

Mark B. McCracken

Your Candidate For Congress


This diary is cross-posted at McCracken’s campaign blog, PA’s Blue Fifth

Mark McCracken for Congress

ActBlue page

MA-Sen: Kerry Gives $1 Million to the DSCC

From The Hill:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has made a $1 million contribution from his campaign to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), he told supporters in an e-mail Tuesday.

Kerry said the current financial crisis shows how important it is for Democrats to get to 60 seats.

“It’s time to push even harder to completely change Washington,” Kerry wrote in an e-mail. “So I have an announcement: I just gave a million dollars from my campaign to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to try to make this happen.”

Very cool. The NRSC has been gaining back a bit of ground in the money chase lately, so a donation like this one means a lot in this final month.

Well done, Senator.

A Lesson for Meek and Wasserman Schultz: Perceived “Moderation” Doesn’t Work

I address this screed to Congressman Kendrick Meek and Congresswoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz.  I know that both of you have been under much scrutiny here in the blogosphere, based upon your recent recusals from campaigning against your neighboring Republican congresspersons.  I suspect that you probably have your eyes on a senate race at some point in the future. In preparation for that, you probably think that you're positioning yourselves to be perceived as moderates who can work well across the aisle. However, I'm here to show you that if you consider such positioning to be part of a winning strategy, you are terribly mistaken.

One need not look further than the results of 2006 to learn that authenticity works.  During that crucial election season, the Democratic party was faced with the outrageously tall order of winning at least six senate seats.  As is the usual tendency of the deck, it was once again stacked against us.  Our GOP opponents appeared to have financial advantages.  At the outset of the year, we didn't even have six, let alone seven, viable seats, and severe party infighting threatened at least one critical race (Ohio).  From that mess, the DSCC scrounged up seven viable challengers in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Montana.  Of these seven, six won.  I will not focus on the Rhode Island race, since it was an unusual scenario in a state whose dynamics do not mirror those of swing states or of the nation at large.  I'll also leave out Pennsylvania, since that was an instance of an incumbent who was so off his rocker, a piece of cardboard could've defeated him.  And the Virginia race has been written about ad nauseum, so I'll skip that one as well.  I will instead focus on Ohio, Missouri, Montana, and Tennessee; three wins and a loss, and why it turned out that way.

When Sherrod Brown prevailed over Paul Hackett in the primary for the Ohio senate, many Democrats became nervous; Hackett, an Iraq War veteran, seemed like a more viable option to run against incumbent Republican Mike DeWine than the unabashedly liberal Cleveland congressman whose record on the hot-button social issues was completely progressive.  In the fabled state that won the election for Bush in 2004, it seemed like a bad idea to run a candidate whose record was to the left of John Kerry's.  Well, as it turned out, Sherrod Brown proved to be an excellent candidate. Instead of fudging his answers and trying to make himself look like something he wasn't, he proudly stood up for his principles, emphasizing his economically progressive ideals, but without attempting to conceal his stances on the social issues.  His unapologetic championing of the disadvantaged called to mind another progressive who never backed down from his core beliefs: the late, great Paul Wellstone.  

Over in Missouri, then-State Auditor Claire McCaskill waged a tough fight against Jim Talent, the incumbent GOP senator.  The stem cell initiative was on the ballot in that state, a potential risk in a state with such a high number of evangelicals.  It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise when McCaskill put Talent on the defensive on that issue, and on the issue of abortion, in nearly every debate.  In a key appearance on Meet The Press, Talent lobbed Republican talking points at McCaskill, and, rather than attempting to fit her responses into those frames, she effectively twisted them around to leave Talent as the weaker candidate, hemming and hawing and making excuses for his every statement.  McCaskill's margin of victory was small, but in a very conservative state like Missouri, it was enough!

Out on the ranges, where libertarianism runs strong, the Montana senate race saw a battle between two very colorful characters: the doddering embarrassment Republican Conrad Burns, who was often looked upon as something of a senile uncle even by his fellow GOPers, and the plain-spoken, buzz-cut-sporting Jon Tester, who won the senate primary over a less progressive state official.  Burns trotted out the old canard of fearmongering, trying to to use Tester's opposition to the PATRIOT Act as a political bludgeon.  Had Tester been a weaker candidate, he would have attempted a nuanced explanantion, trying to convince people that he could be patriot without supporting the PATRIOT Act, accepting the right wing's frames instead of creating his own.  Luckily, Tester unleashed the no-nonsense directness that is a trademark of the Mountain West; in one key debate, in which Burns accused Tester of wanting to “weaken” the PATRIOT Act (clearly a standard GOP frame, portraying the Democrats as weak on terror and weak in general,) Tester famously responded, “I don't want to weaken the PATRIOT Act, I want to repeal it.”  Had John Kerry been anywhere near this bold in 2004, Bush would not have had a second term.

After looking at the victories of Brown, McCaskill, and Tester, I now turn to the only high-profile loser on our side, Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee.  Yes, I am well aware of the racist tactics that the Republicans used against Ford in the infamous “Call Me” ad (a frame-by-frame analysis is available here,) but I remain convinced that a stronger candidate, one with more backbone and more confidence in his own platform, would have been able to fight back and prevail. Ford embodied the ideals of a DINO at best.  He appeared in a clumsy ad in a church, going too far into the territory of unsubtlety in an attempt to prove his religiosity.  (I had serious flashbacks to John Kerry's 2004 proclamation of himself to be the “candidate of conservative values.”  The minute we accept the GOP frames, we're dead in the water). On the campaign trail in '06, Ford frequently trumpeted his opposition to gay marriage.  He spoke in tones that ranged from cautious to mildly complimentary toward Bush's Iraq policies, all the while distancing himself from the Democratic leadership in the senate.  In short, he ran as a Republican.  And why would anyone vote for a Republican who doesn't have the conviction to actually run within the party that actually represents the conservative values he preaches, when they could vote for an actual Republican whose voting patterns are more sure-footed? 

You see where I'm going with this.  2006 was a Democratic tidal wave, yet Harold Ford lost because of his own spinelessness and willingness to act like a Republican.  The moral of the story here is to stick to your guns, champion your own progressive record, and be who you are.  It's obvious that if you have achieved anything in Congress, you have been able to work with the other side.  Playing “footsie” with Republicans does nothing to further your goals; in fact, it undermines them, since progressive voters might doubt your convictions.  I certainly hope that your aides and advisors read this post, as it is crucial that you absorb its message.  (For all the readers of this blog, I suggest writing to these Florida congresspersons and calling their offices to relay a similar message).  Please, be a Sherrod Brown or a Jon Tester.  Don't be a Harold Ford.  Your political futures will be brighter for it, if recent history is any indicator!

MA-SEN: Kerry In Trouble?

I didn’t expect to be writing any diaries about the Massachusetts Senate Race, but I have been suspecting for some time that John Kerry might be wearing out his welcome. And now, according to a Suffolk University Poll, it appears to be just the case.

Senator John Kerry, who recently left the door open to a Presidential bid in 2008, could have problems staying in the US Senate.  When voters were asked whether Kerry should run for another six-year term in 2008 or if it is time to give someone else a chance, just 37% indicated that he should seek re-election while 56% said that it was time to give someone else a chance. Among political parties: 76% of Republicans, 62% of Independents, and 39% of registered Democrats said that it was time to give someone else a chance.

“This poll is showing us the early warning signs of a political storm for John Kerry,” said Paleologos.  “He may best be served by coming home to Massachusetts and taking care of business.”

Personally, I don’t think that coming home will be enough because Kerry has had a tough time before, and I’m not talking about 2006. Even before his legendary race against William Weld, he ran into a touch one six years earlier against James Rappaport who was, for a while, able to paint Kerry as a do-nothing Dukakis clone. Kerry fought his way partially helped by the fact that it was a Democratic year (and an excellent debate). What he has going for him heading into 2008 is a limp Republican Party with no one put against him. However, Massachusetts has never warmed to him the way they have with Ted Kennedy. If the Republicans somehow find someone al a Weld, he could be in serious trouble. It may be time for him to stand down.

Kerry Will Not Run for Prez in ’08

From BBC News:

Kerry ‘will not seek White House’

Senator John Kerry, who lost to George W Bush in 2004, will not run for US president in 2008, reports say.

The Massachusetts Democrat had been thought to be considering another run, and had kept campaign staff and a fundraising operation in place.

But he would have faced an uphill battle for his party’s nomination, given the likely candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Mr Kerry is expected to make a formal announcement in the coming hours.

He made his decision only in the past day, reports say.