SSP Daily Digest: 8/2 (Morning Edition)

  • CT-Sen: Linda McMahon has already spent at least $22 million on her senatorial bid – and though she has plans to shell out much more, she’s already the fourth-largest self-funder of all time. The good news is that the top three are pretty uninspiring: Jon Corzine (NJ-Sen 2000: $60 million, 50.1% in general); Blair Hull (IL-Sen 2004: $29 million, 11% in primary); Michael Huffington (CA-Sen 1994: $28 million, 45% in general). Check out the second page of CQ’s piece to see who rounds out the rest of the top 10. Only three actually won a seat in the Senate, and all of them served one term or less – by choice!
  • FL-Sen: Ah – live by the zillionaire asshole, die by the zillionaire asshole. Joe Trippi, who apparently thought he could make a buck by helping schmuckface Jeff Greene run negative ads against Kendrick Meek, has been axed. This is pretty unsurprising, in light of an in-depth story by the St. Pete Times which catalogs just how much of a jerkass Greene actually is. Here’s a representative sample:
  • Adam Lambert worked as captain of Greene’s 145-foot yacht, Summerwind, earlier this year.

    “He has total disregard for anybody else,” chuckled Lambert, who said he was Greene’s 20th and 22nd Summerwind captain (No. 21 quit after a few hours with Greene).

    “I don’t think I ever once had an actual conversation with him. It was always, ‘I should just get rid of you, what f—— good are you? You’re just a f—— boat driver. You’re the third-highest paid employee in my corporation and I should just get rid of you,’ ” Lambert, 43, recalled by phone from a yacht in Croatia. “It didn’t bother me. I just felt sorry for the man. He doesn’t seem very happy.”

    Quite apropos of all this, Dave Catanese takes a look at the “band of others” which has come together to run Charlie Crist’s campaign. Catanese says that Crist’s team “is staffed by a collection of misfits who run the gamut from longtime loyalists to out-of-state hired guns. They have worked for Democrats, for Republicans and even for prominent independents. As with Crist, ideology appears to take a back seat to winning office.”

  • MO-Sen: Mostly-failed teabagger Chuck Purgason has an internal poll out (at least, I think it’s an internal) from Magellan Strategies… but that’s not really the point. There are two super-huge problems with this poll. First off, there are literally zero undecideds – Purgason claims he’s beating Dem Robin Carnahan 56-44. Secondly, releasing a general election poll just days before an almost hopeless primary looks extremely unserious. I don’t give a damn about Purgason, but I don’t think either of these issues make Magellan look particularly good.
  • GA-Gov: Barack Obama is visiting Atlanta to speak to a disabled veterans convention and to host a DNC fundraiser today, but Dem gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes will be visiting other parts of the state. Several prominent Dems are planning to attend the events, including Labor Comm’r Michael Thurmond (our senate nominee), and Reps. David Scott and Sanford Bishop, the latter of whom has a competitive race this fall.
  • NY-Gov: Steve Levy has completed his transition from widely disliked xenophobic DINO to memorable Republican loser: He said he wouldn’t seek the Independence Party’s line this fall, and formally gave his backing to Rick Lazio.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth Benjamin says a source tells her that another disgruntled Republican, the vile Carl Paladino, is doing the opposite – he’s reconsidering his decision not to run on a third-party line and may run on his own “Taxpayers Party” line if he loses the GOP primary in September. Apparently, the teabaggers are taking the long view here, hoping that they can create a “true” conservative rival to the, ah, Conservative Party, even if that means helping Andrew Cuomo win the gubernatorial race.
  • WY-Gov: Mason-Dixon did a poll of the Wyoming gubernatorial primaries for the Casper Star-Tribune. On the GOP side, state Auditor Rita Meyer leads with 27, followed by former U.S. Attorney Matt Mead with 24, House Speaker Colin Simpson with 17, and former legislator and state Ag. Director Ron Micheli with 12. For Democrats, former state Dem chair Leslie Petersen leads pilot and former University of Wyoming football star Pete Gosar by a 30-22 margin.
  • FL-08: Franking – the privilege that allows members of Congress to mail out nominally “informational” materials to constituents at taxpayer expense – is one of those things that’s usually a lame non-issue… until it’s an issue. Incumbents have been pushing the boundaries of proper franking for centuries, and it rarely gets traction in campaigns, but I really wonder if Alan Grayson’s gone too far with this one. He recently sent out a DVD to 100,000 homes in his district (at a cost of $73K) titled “Watch Congressman Grayson in Action!” featuring a few dozen clips of his greatest hits in office. Maybe the video will be popular, maybe no one will care, maybe some Republicans will howl and get ignored – we’ll see.
  • IL-10 (PDF): It’s a bit musty, but Mike Memoli got his hands on an internal poll from the Dan Seals campaign taken in mid-May by Anzalone-Liszt. The numbers are a damn sight better than most Dem internals, showing Seals with a 46-38 lead over Republican Bob Dold, and a 41-32 lead among independents. Despite the poll’s age, I’d be surprised if things had changed a whole lot since then, given that the air war hasn’t really been joined yet.
  • IL-13: Dem Scott Harper had apparently been trying to shop the results of an informed ballot test on a recent internal poll from Global Strategy Group but didn’t seem to get many bites. So he finally decided to pull a Raul Labrador and release the proper toplines, despite their utter – almost extreme – suckitude. Rep. Judy Biggert leads Harper by a 55-29 margin. The most ridonc thing is that Biggert felt compelled to put out her own, not-exactly-dueling internal in response. I say that because the numbers in Biggert’s survey (taken by American Viewpoint) show her up 61-28. This was really not a well-managed move by the Harper campaign.
  • KY-06: Republican Andy Barr, formerly a top legal aide to disgraced former Gov. Ernie Fletcher, is coming under fire for his shoddy handling of a response to a government records request under the state’s equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act when he worked for Fletcher. In a 2007 report, then-AG Greg Stumbo (a Dem) said that Barr’s failure to produce records on account of their alleged non-existence meant that he was responsible for “records mismanagement.” However, Stumbo’s office did not determine that Barr had actually violated the state open records law.
  • LA-02: The DCCC added state Rep. Cedric Richmond to its Red to Blue program on Friday. This tells me two things: First, the D-Trip doesn’t think much of Richmond’s primary challenger, fellow state Rep. Juan LaFonta. Second, DC Dems are concerned enough about Rep. Joe Cao’s staying power that they’re getting involved in a reasonably contested primary, something they have largely avoided this cycle. Now in fairness, Louisiana has a very late primary – August 28th – with an absurdly late runoff on October 2nd. So I can understand wanting to avoid a pressured one-month campaign. Still, this suggests to me that this race is not the “gimme” we might have once imagined.
  • NY-01: Stuck behind Newsday’s paywall is a story which says that GOPer Christopher Cox has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate fellow Republican Randy Altschuler’s ballot petitions. This is exactly the kind of war that Democrats in New York have been hoping for. I can’t wait to read more about it. And don’t forget that there’s a third candidate in the race, George Demos, who is being publicly slammed for alleged ethical lapses while he was an SEC attorney by a former supporter, John Catsimatidis. You may recall that Cox is engaged to Catsimatidis’s daughter, which explains the old man’s turnabout.
  • NY-15: You’ve probably already seen this, but Barack Obama said in an interview with CBS News that Charlie Rangel should “end his career with dignity.” Really wonder if the old bull is going to keep fighting this thing.
  • NY-24: Mmm… donuts. The owner of a local donut shop, Michael Sadallah, filed a lawsuit trying to knock Republican Richard Hanna off the Independence Party line. Sadallah, an Independence Party member, has also donated to Rep. Mike Arcuri. Oral arguments are this week – good luck, dude!
  • OK-05: True Some Dude James Lankford just earned the endorsement of third-place finisher (and state Rep.) Mike Thompson, who scored 18% in the first round despite spending $900,000. Lankford took 34% and former state Rep. Kevin Calvey had 33%. Lankford and Calvey face off in an August 24th runoff.
  • Kansas: A rare bit of good news on the voter registration front: Over the last year in Kansas, “Democrats gained 11,260 voters, rising to 460,318; unaffiliated voters increased 38,764 to 490,395, and Republican ranks increased 3,189 to 744,975.” Obviously, that’s a pretty sizable edge for the GOP, but it’s still nice to see Dem gains both in absolute numbers and percentages outstrip the Republicans – especially in such a red state, and especially in a year like this.
  • I don’t know about you, but I think Larry Forgy’s running against Mitch McConnell

    [Crossposted @]

    When the Washington Times is running stories about Senator Mitch McConnell‘s extreme vulnerabilities in Kentucky, you know the buzz on him is not good inside the Beltway.

    Take a look at the comments in this article by Larry Forgy, a Lexington lawyer and former Republican gubernatorial candidate who came within a hair of being elected governor in 1995.  He’s adopting a very Pat Buchanan-esque populist Republican message.  I think he’s taking the possibility of a run against McConnell very seriously.  What does he have to lose?  The McConnell branch of the Kentucky GOP already hates him, and the Fletcher and Nunn branches of the party would rally around him (and thus Forgy would have a ready and energized base).  He’d humiliate McConnell in the process by at least taking 30 percent of the votes (hell, you’d better believe I’d switch my registration to Republican to vote against McConnell in a primary), and in a perfect storm the little bugger might actually win that primary.

    McConnell’s unspectacular performance under the national spotlight shone on him in his capacity as Senate Minority Leader has only brought Washington elites to question whether McConnell’s deficiencies aren’t also largely to blame for the severe problems now rocking the Kentucky GOP that he fathered.

    McConnell’s sort of a Senate equivalent of Karl Rove: mostly blow and very little substance.  For the better part of a decade now, there’s been a cult around McConnell in Republican circles in Kentucky and Washington.  He’s revered for his supposed tactical mastery of procedure and narrative, ruthless partisanship, and money-grubbing ability.

    Yet, once the Kentucky GOP that Mitch built became pretty much the only show in town, McConnell’s mean and massive machine started to sputter, fast and hard.  It all fell apart in scandal, amateurishness, and incompetence. 

    McConnell quickly cast the blame on the nascent Fletcher wing of the party, but it was McConnell who handpicked his minions. 

    I’ve said it many times before: even if Mitch McConnell somehow survives reelection in 2008, he will nevertheless inherit the legacy that he rightly deserves (and that’s not a good thing for McConnell).  History will record that he was feckless and ineffective as a leader, that he was instrumental in bringing the corrupting culture of money-grubbing and influence-mongering to our nation’s capital, and that he cultivated the hyper-partisan atmosphere there that has totally paralyzed our institutions of government at a time when the American people most need them to be providing answers and solutions.

    McConnell’s base of support erodes

    August 20, 2007

    By Ralph Z. Hallow – Sen. Mitch McConnell’s close backing of President Bush on immigration and the Iraq war is costing him support among Kentucky Republicans, and, according to some party members, hurting his chances for re-election next year.

    He even could face a primary challenge from former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy, who contends that Mr. McConnell’s in-state problems are compounded by job losses to producers beyond America’s borders.

    “The average Kentuckian feels we are giving away this country with both hands – jobs are going, essentially the primacy of the people who made this country great is going, and Mitch McConnell is lumped with the Washington types on this,” Mr. Forgy said.

    “And the war in Iraq is less troublesome in Kentucky than in many other places, but it is not popular here, and Republican voters see Mitch’s views as too close to the president’s on the war,” said Mr. Forgy, a Lexington lawyer.

    It’s a troublesome assessment for Mr. McConnell, who as minority leader has found himself having to defend unpopular Bush administration policies.

    “The immigration issue is trouble for everyone in central Kentucky,” Republican state Sen. Tom Buford said. “The Iraq war is always difficult for all incumbents, even if they support pulling the troops out. It is a no-win situation when elections are at risk.”

    Mr. McConnell registered a 48 percent approval rating last month in a SurveyUSA poll.

    A county party chairman who supports Mr. McConnell but asked not to be identified said Mr. McConnell’s re-election next year is uncertain – despite the Capitol Hill clout he brings Kentucky – unless he shows the folks back home he understands their distrust of Washington on enforcing immigration laws.

    The chairman said he has tried to tell Mr. McConnell that he needs to assure the party’s base that he opposes Mr. Bush’s immigration bill.

    The Kentucky Republican Party, torn by the immigration issue, was further fractured when critics claimed Mr. McConnell had acted behind the scenes to back an ultimately unsuccessful primary challenge by former Rep. Anne Northup against Gov. Ernie Fletcher earlier this year. The Fletcher faction of the state Republican Party is backing the “draft Forgy” campaign.

    Despite his role as Republican leader in the Senate, Mr. McConnell withdrew himself from much of the fight among fellow Republican senators over the Bush-backed immigration bill supported by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Arizona’s Republican senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, among others. Besides border-enforcement provisions, the bill provided a path to citizenship for illegal aliens and a new worker program for foreign workers.

    Constituent pressure began to peel other Senate Republicans from their support of the bill, and Mr. McConnell wound up voting against it, though he voted for a similar bill last year.

    “His vote against the bill at the end showed his thinking and that he knew the bill was not going to be good policy for Kentucky or the country,” said Fred Karem, a Lexington businessman who went to law school with Mr. McConnell.

    Mr. Karem said it’s impossible for him to imagine Mr. McConnell facing re-election difficulty. “Shortly into his new term after he is re-elected next year, Mitch will be the longest-serving U.S. senator in Kentucky history. He has been the heart and soul and leader of the Republican Party in this state,” he said.

    Republican leaders in the state agree that immigration is a big issue with the party’s core voters, but some say it won’t hurt Mr. McConnell.

    “I don’t know anyone who is more in touch with his constituency than Mitch McConnell,” said Jack Richardson of Louisville, party chairman in Jefferson County, the state’s most populous county and home to Mr. McConnell.

    Mr. McConnell recently acknowledged grass-roots discontent over immigration.

    “During the immigration debate, and ever since, countless well-informed Americans spoke up about the need to enforce our borders and our laws,” he said. “Their voice was heard in the Capitol and the White House. The billions we’ve added to the homeland security funding bill for border security and interior enforcement, and the administration’s enhanced commitment to cracking down on illegal immigration are necessary steps toward securing our nation – and living up to the expectations of our constituents.”

    Another McConnell supporter, Bourbon County Chairman Andre Regard, said, “I would be surprised if McConnell faces a challenge because of immigration. I think we should give everyone amnesty and start over.”

    Other party leaders in the state privately made it clear that supporting Mr. McConnell is important because of the benefits he brings Kentucky through his seniority – he is completing his fourth term – and as the Republican leader in the Senate.

    Ballard County party Chairman Charley Martin said: “I know immigration is a very emotional issue with Republicans, but it’s not the fundamental issue. The party wants to continue the conservative views of Senator McConnell – the views he stood for through the years.”

    SUSA: Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) approval hits 40% for first time in over two years

    [Crossposted @]

    The sparkling wine bottles will be popping at Fletcher/Rudolph 2007 HQ today! 

    The August Survey USA approval/disapproval tracking numbers are out for Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher (R), and they show that the scandal-plagued Republican’s approval has topped 40 percent for the first time in over two years (the tracking graph only records back to May 2005).

    Why are approval numbers that would scream nothing but political doom anywhere else in the nation sweet music to the politically tone-deaf ears of Ernie Fletcher?  Well, after all, it was only a year ago this month that Fletcher’s approval bottomed out at 24 percent.  [Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side!  Anybody got a broom for pedagogically challenged running mate Robbie Rudolph to use as a prop?]

    Of course, this month’s upward movement was a statistically insignificant one point (Aug:40/57; Jul:39/57), but all statistics are insignificant to the Fletcher camp, whether they’re the ones showing Kentucky’s sorry state of health, education, or business climate.  [Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side!]

    Where’s Fletcher’s big gain coming from?  Among Republicans and conservatives.

    In the last month, Fletcher’s approval/disapproval went from 58/39 among Republicans to 62/35.  In March of this year, Fletcher was at 46/50 with that group.  So, he’s consolidating his party base, but he’ll need significantly more than 70 percent support from Republicans at the ballot box, especially considering that Republican turnout is likely to be somewhat suppressed, to pull off a November win.  Republicans accounted for 34 percent of the latest survey.

    Fletcher’s popularity this month among conservatives rebounded to 57/39 from 52/46 after plummeting between June and July.  Conservatives were 33 percent of this survey.

    There was no significant movement among males, females, Democrats, independents, moderates, or liberals.

    By region, there was no significant change in western Kentucky, Louisville, or eastern Kentucky. 

    There was, however, a statistically significant jump in Fletcher’s approval in northern Kentucky, where the governor went from 37/57 to 45/53.

    KY-GOV: Expect Beshear vs. Fletcher

    This puts a smile on my face.

    In Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary next week, “although the No. 3 candidate claims his internal polls show former Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.) pulling ahead, it appears more likely that she can, at best, force a runoff against troubled incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R),” according to the Evans-Novak Political Report. “Even that appears unlikely at this point. One poll shows Fletcher 10 points ahead and well above the 40 percent threshold at which he avoids a runoff.”

    Meanwhile, “on the Democratic side, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear is clearly the man to beat at this point. The most likely outcome of next Tuesday’s primary is a runoff between him and Bruce Lunsford. Beshear has benefited from the departure of state Treasurer Jonathan Miller (D) from the race — Miller endorsed Beshear as he exited. In debates, Beshear was everyone’s target, a sign that all of the campaigns recognize his late frontrunner status. Leaning Beshear.”

    It looks like that, in the Buegrass State, our best-case scenario is about to come true. Let’s hope so.