Obama Announces Commission On Oil Spill
In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama announced the formation of a special commission to examine the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and to recommend future safety and environmental precautions. The commission will be co-chaired by former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) and former Environment Protection Agency Administrator Bill Reilly (R).
"I can't think of two people who will bring greater experience or better judgment to the task at hand," said Obama. "In the days to come, I'll appoint 5 other distinguished Americans - including scientists, engineers, and environmental advocates - to join them on the Commission. And I'm directing them to report back in 6 months with recommendations on how we can prevent - and mitigate the impact of - any future spills that result from offshore drilling."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (14) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Despite his undeniably impressive victory over the GOP establishment on Tuesday night, Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul's first week in the center of the national spotlight has turned him from The Next Big Thing to -- at best -- the object of extreme skepticism.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Paul delivered this warning to the political establishment: "What I say to Washington is, 'Watch out, here we come."
Forty-eight hours later, he was on the run from political reporters trying to pin him on his issues with civil rights law and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
What happened?PERMALINK | COMMENTS (153) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (6)
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) said in an interview Rand Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act this week are fair game for campaign attacks, calling his GOP rival in the Senate race "outside of the mainstream." Conway and Paul each won their party's nomination Tuesday night, and it's been a tough week for Paul since the victory. Conway told me this afternoon he will make sure voters know about Paul's remarks, especially about his views on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"What does that say to our disabled veterans coming back from two wars," Conway said.
At the same time, Conway said his own campaign would focus on the distinctions between the candidates on the economy and the need for "robust" financial reform, and I asked him how the Civil Rights Act comments come into those policy issues. "It's certainly relevant," Conway said. "People fought and bled for the ability to be served in a non-discriminatory fashion. It's problematic and abhorrent that he'd say in 2010 the government would not have a role ... I'm happy to have that discussion."
He also took a whack at Paul's "accidents happen" comments about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, saying they were "callous."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (18) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is jumping on the controversies surrounding Rand Paul's statements against parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sending out a new fundraising e-mail from his Midwest Values PAC asking for cash to help Kentucky Senate Democratic nominee Jack Conway.
"On Wednesday, Rand Paul couldn't answer a simple question of whether or not he supported desegregating lunch counters - a viewpoint so unbelievably dated it doesn't belong in this century, much less a 2010 campaign," writes Franken.
Franken appeals to his grassroots donor base to help out both Conway and Pennsylvania Senate nominee Joe Sestak -- with the former comedian also offering up a Borscht Belt-style side remark: "I can't count on brunches with lobbyists and special interest types to fund MVP to help Jack and Joe, though brunch (especially on the weekend) is delicious and may be my favorite meal, so I'm counting on you."
(Via the Star Tribune.)PERMALINK | COMMENTS (25) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
This is fun: In light of Rand Paul's decision today to back out of his scheduled appearance on Meet the Press, it's worth looking back to his father Rep. Ron Paul's appearance on the show in 2007 -- in which Ron Paul came out against the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the very same grounds that have gotten Rand Paul into such a mess this week.
Asked by then-host Tim Russert if he would have voted for the landmark legislation, Paul said he would have opposed it "If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations." He continued: "it has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (32) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Bill Clinton is heading to Arkansas next Friday to campaign for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), who is currently in a tight runoff with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (36) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
National Democrats are gearing up to lose a perennially left-leaning district that the GOP hasn't been able to win since 1988, with the HI-01 special election coming to an end on Saturday. The reason for the loss? Two Democrats are vying for the seat and splitting the vote, allowing for the Republican challenger to sneak in and win.
The loss of the Honolulu-based district will be particularly embarrassing it was the birthplace of President Obama, and he carried it with 70% of the vote in 2008. (John Kerry won 52% of the vote there in 2004 and Al Gore took 55% in 2000.) The seat first became open when Democratic Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced in December that he would resign, in order to focus full time on his campaign for governor. It immediately became clear that there could be a split Democratic vote. The key here is that there is only one Republican running, Honolulu councilman Charles Djou, and two Democrats, former Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Hawaii special elections for the House do not work like they usually do in other states, where candidates either compete in separate party primaries, or the parties select their candidates through an internal party process. Instead, a single-round election is held in which all the candidates appear together on one ballot, and whoever gets a plurality wins the election. The election has been conducted entirely by mail, and will end tomorrow.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (29) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
At the end of a rocky week, newly chosen Senate nominee Rand Paul (R-KY) has canceled a planned interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" citing exhaustion. It's only the third cancellation from a major guest in 62 years, the show's Executive Producer Betsy Fischer said in an interview this afternoon.
"It is a big deal when somebody cancels an appearance," she said.
Fischer and host David Gregory have been attempting to convince Paul's press secretary and campaign manager since the Paul camp scrapped the interview this afternoon. They first arranged the Sunday show interview on Wednesday after he won the party nomination Tuesday night. Fischer said Paul's press secretary said he was exhausted.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (175) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:
• ABC, This Week: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
• CBS, Face The Nation: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).
• CNN, State Of The Union: Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), BP managing director Bob Dudley.
• Fox News Sunday: Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
• NBC, Meet The Press: Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), Senate nominee Rand Paul (R-KY), National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Late Update: Rand Paul has canceled his Meet The Press appearance, citing exhaustion.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (10) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
They are doing it live--at least according to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.
After a White House meeting with President Obama, and his Senate counterpart Chris Dodd today, Frank told reporters that no changes will be made to Wall Street reform legislation during final negotiations behind closed doors.
"We will have a conference, I think, that will work well. It will be conducted, the formal parts, in public," Frank said. "That means that no agreements reached, no compromises, which obviously are being discussed, will be made part of anything without being publicly presented and voted on and discussed."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (52) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Turns out unity for Kentucky Republicans closely resembles what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama looked like two years ago in Unity, New Hampshire - former rivals joining together with big smiles in hopes of defeating the enemy from the other party. The photos look great, but a general discomfort remains among the staunchest supporters who lost out.
On the ground in the Bluegrass state, Republicans are excited by the prospects of the Rand Paul candidacy -- they say he can bring fresh blood and fresh enthusiasm to the party and that can help up and down the ballot. But they remain wary of his unique views -- and the possibility of more days like Thursday ahead.
On Saturday, Paul and one-time establishment favorite Trey Grayson will come together for a staged rally with all the key players -- from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on down -- telling their voters to come together for the sake of winning the general election in November. TPMDC spoke today with several Kentucky Republicans who insisted they will be able to forge the right kind of agreement to beat Democratic nominee Jack Conway. But privately, they admit it might not be so easy.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (80) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Some of the Democrats who fought hardest to strengthen the Wall Street reform bill are at the same time seeking to preserve a tax loophole for money managers, which, if closed, could be used to pay for extending benefits, health care subsidies, and job creation for the unemployed. And now the biggest players in Democratic politics are taking aim at them.
"I don't know how you explain to the nurse struggling to pay her mortgage or the security guard whose son can't afford college that they should pay higher taxes than Wall Street hedge fund managers and venture capitalists," SEIU spokesperson Lori Lodes tells me. "They see what's happening in their communities - states cutting back vital services, more of their neighbors losing their jobs. What they will never be able to understand is Senators holding up a needed jobs package because they want to look out for money managers."
The senators she's talking about are almost all Democrats--including John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who actually voted against Wall Street reform for not doing enough to rein in financial industry excess.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (16) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
So we all know that Rand Paul, at least until recently, had some serious concerns about the part of the Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination by private businesses. But people may not know much else about the GOP's new Senate nominee from Kentucky.
Here's a quick primer:PERMALINK | COMMENTS (29) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the California Senate race shows that former Rep. Tom Campbell, a Republican who is widely opposed by the national right wing, is continuing to run away with the GOP primary for Senate.
The numbers: Campbell 37%, former Hewlett Packard CEO and establishment favorite Carly Fiorina 22%, and Tea Party favorite state Rep. Chuck DeVore 14%. Back in March, Campbell had 33%, Fiorina 24%, and DeVore 7%. The survey of likely primary voters has a ±5% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average has Campbell 30.1%, Fiorina 22.7%, and DeVore 15.4%.
The primary will be held in just two and a half weeks, on June 8.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) aren't alone. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) also supports televising the financial reform conference debate between key House and Senate members.
Boehner wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today suggesting "C-SPAN coverage" and "live webcasting" for the conference, during which details will be ironed out between the House and Senate financial reform bills.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (12) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of California provides further corroboration that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's once-formidable lead in the Republican gubernatorial primary has collapsed, putting her in a competitive race against state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
The numbers: Whitman 46%, Poizner 36%, with 18% undecided. Back in March, Whitman led by 52%-19%, with 29% undecided. The TPM Poll Average gives Whitman a lead over Poizner of 40.8%-31.9%, after having led by over 40 points in March.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (9) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The Arkansas Senate Democratic primary runoff will be a sprint to June 8, with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and her primary challenger Bill Halter having to spend a lot of money in the next two and a half weeks. So how much do they have?
Janine Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, told TPMDC that for the runoff, the campaigns could potentially have to spend "probably close to as much as they spent already."
As of the most recent pre-primary Federal Election Commission reports, covering the period up to April 28, three weeks before the primary, Lincoln had spent 4,808,505, and Halter had spent $2,081,323.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Big unions will be opening up their wallets in support of Democrats this fall.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (2) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) suggested on CNN last night that resigning Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair was "frustrated," "put on the sidelines" and "squeezed out."
"He had to be very frustrated that he was put on the sidelines by the Attorney General who's now running much of the intelligence collection effort, and he got the blame for it," Bond said.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Should the final act of the financial reform fight be televised? If it is, it would make any efforts--whether Republican or Democrat-led--to weaken the final product a heavier lift. And so there will be significant pressure to cut the final deal in as much darkness as possible. But if that's the route legislators decide to go they'll have to walk back from earlier nods toward the importance of transparency
Several weeks ago, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank dared Senate Republicans to oppose Wall Street reform, and warned that, after the Senate passed its legislation, any further efforts to weaken the final product would have to be public: a formal conference committee to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bills, even a C-SPAN camera so the whole world could see where each party stood.
Well, last night, the Senate passed its bill, and on Monday the Senate will take formal steps to begin the conference committee process. And in conversation, key Republicans and Democrats last night say they think inviting the cameras along would be just fine.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (11) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The Democratic National Committee outraised its Republican counterpart in April, with the Dems raking in $10.3 million compared to the RNC's $6.8 million.
The DNC has $15.1 million on hand, and the RNC has $12.4 million on hand.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is going up today with his first ad in his state's Republican gubernatorial primary. The ad's star? Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).
"Tough times require proven leadership," Bush says, "Bill McCollum is a principled conservative with a record of doing what's right for Florida."
Bush also says McCollum, who he refers to as "my friend," is "leading the charge to stop President Obama's health care takeover."
McCollum faces health care astroturfer Rick Scott in the the August 24 primary.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Chuck DeVore, the conservative candidate in California's U.S. Senate election, has apparently embellished an incident in which he says he was "shot at in Lebanon."
As the L.A. Times reports today, part of DeVore's personal mythology is that he was "shot at in Lebanon." He said it in a recent debate, in interviews, in a Facebook post about whether the Council for American-Islamic Relations is really a "terror-loving group."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (18) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The GOP went there. In an email sent to reporters in the height of the Rand Paul firestorm yesterday, the NRSC defended its Senate nominee in Kentucky by pointing out that it wasn't Republicans who were the most vocal opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it was in Congress.
"As a side note, I would point out the irony - which seems to have been lost in some of the news coverage -- that the same party seeking to manufacture this issue today, is in fact the same political party which led the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act in 1964," NRSC spokesperson Brian Walsh wrote.
The true history of the Civil Rights act, according to Princeton university Sean Wilentz, is not exactly worthy of glib emails from the GOP.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (157) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
A soon-to-be-launched ad campaign by the SEIU will attack Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for her ties to oil and gas companies.
Lincoln is currently in a tight runoff against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter for the Democratic nomination for Senator. The runoff will be held June 8.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (26) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Hillary Clinton: Response To North Korea Sinking South Korean Ship 'Cannot Be Business As Usual'
Speaking in Tokyo, Japan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that "the evidence is overwhelming and condemning" that North Korea sunk the South Korean warship, the Cheonan. "We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community," said Clinton. "This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response."
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and Obama will met at 10 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama will deliver remarks at 10:45 a.m. ET, and sign a Presidential Memorandum outlining the next steps in his vision for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Obama and Biden will have lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET.
By a vote of 59-39 tonight, the Senate passed sweeping legislation to tighten the rules governing the U.S. financial system.
Four Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) -- joined with all but two Democrats, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), who opposed the bill for not being more aggressive in reforming Wall Street. Sens. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) didn't vote.
In the weeks ahead, House and Senate negotiators will meet in a formal conference committee to iron out the differences between this package, and the broadly similar bill the House adopted late last year. The Senate is expected to name their negotiators on Monday.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (122) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has come to the defense of his son, Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY), who has come under fire for his statements in opposition to portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"I think it's contrived because he's done so well and the left has to knock him down," said the elder Paul, CQ reports.
Asked whether Rand could "recover" from his comments -- from which he has backtracked, now saying he supports laws against discrimination -- Ron Paul responded strongly. "What does he have to recover from?" said Ron Paul. "Go to Kentucky and talk to the people. He's just had a referendum; gets 59 percent of the vote and you are talking about recovering? That's an insult."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (21) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Out in Idaho, one tea party Republican has had enough of Sarah Palin.
Lucas Baumbach, who's running for the state senate, is angry that Palin is butting in to the Republican race to unseat U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick (D). What's worse, she's endorsing the other guy.
"I think she should let Idahoans pick for themselves instead of shoving a candidate down our throats," he told TPMDC in an interview today.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (22) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
RNC Chariman Michael Steele told a reporter today that he wasn't sure exactly what all the excitement about Rand Paul was, "except to the extent that I understand that he has clarified his voice on that."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (13) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Rand Paul just can't make up his mind.
The Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky, fresh off a much-discussed appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show last night in which he defended his past criticism of the Civil Rights Act, continued his walkback-turned-runback on CNN this afternoon by declaring that not only does he not favor a repeal of the Civil Rights Act, but that he would have voted for the landmark legislation had he been around at the time.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (12) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair will be resigning tomorrow from his duties in the Obama administration. A U.S. official told TPMDC that Blair's resignation is expected tomorrow. The White House has been interviewing "several strong candidates" to replace him, the official said.
ABC's Jake Tapper broke the story this afternoon. He writes that Obama for weeks "has been holding serious conversations about whether to ask Blair to step down" while looking for replacements.
Tapper reported that after speaking today in the Oval Office, Blair told Obama he would resign. From the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt to sparring with CIA director Leon Panetta, sources told Tapper that Blair's tenure "has been a rocky one." More details here.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (10) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Indiana state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who recently ran an unsuccessful but very active campaign in the Republican primary for Senate, has now officially become a candidate for Indiana's Third District, from which GOP Rep. Mark Souder announced his resignation due to a sex scandal.
Stutzman was supported by Tea Partiers and conservative activists such as RedState.com. Despite starting the race in a distant third place, behind former Sen. Dan Coats and former Rep. John Hostettler, Stutzman ultimately took 29% of the vote to Coats's 39%, with Hostettler behind at 23%.
For his first day of campaigning, Stutzman had to deny questions from reporters that he was in any way involved in spreading the news about Souder. "I worked for Congressman Souder several years ago and we were approached by some people that saw things suspicious," said Stutzman, "and we approached Congressman Souder about it and he said there was nothing to it and that it was a vicious rumor and so, um, I trusted my boss in what he said."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Lt. Governor Bill Halter (D-AR), who's pushed Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) to a June 8 runoff in the Democrats' Arkansas Senate primary, is up with a new ad today.
"The momentum is building," Halter says. "There's no question about it."
The ad goes on to show images of Halter shaking hands, hugging supporters, petting a dog and paying a bill.
"Three more weeks, two more candidates, one choice for change," Halter says.
Rand Paul's apparent opposition to a key provision of the Civil Rights Act places him well within the mainstream of libertarian thought, according to several leading libertarians.
The GOP Senate candidate told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night that he would have tried to "modify" the law's ban on racial discrimination by private businesses. That was an expansion of comments he made last month to a Louisville newspaper, in which he said that opposing the ban was "the hard part about believing in freedom."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (127) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
It's on in Pennsylvania.
Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has released his first ad of the general election. In it, the narrator says Toomey and Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) are "two good men with very different ideas" before slamming Sestak for voting for the "Wall Street bailout," "government-run health care" and wanting "foreign terrorist leaders tried in Pennsylvania courts."
The TPM Poll Average in the race shows Toomey leading Sestak 39.6% to 37.7%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (5) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The blog Page One Kentucky has unearthed a 2002 letter to the editor of the Bowling Green Daily News written by Senate candidate Rand Paul, in which Paul clearly outlines his views on why the government should not bar racial discrimination by private institutions.
Explaining his opposition to the Fair Housing Act, Paul writes: "Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (13) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
President Obama spoke this afternoon about financial reform legislation advancing in the Senate today, after the Democrats overcame a Republican filibuster with a 60-40 vote.
From the White House Rose Garden, Obama called reform "one important step that will strengthen our economy," and added that "every American has an interest in a healthy financial sector."
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Two Democrats--Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA)--once again joined the GOP in an attempt to filibuster Wall Street reform, on the grounds that the bill does too little to regulate big financial institutions. But the Democrat who most vocally threatened to block the bill--Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)--ultimately chose not to, and in a way became the deciding vote. Democratic leaders needed 60 votes to break the filibuster, and without Dorgan they would have had only 59.
Why the change of heart? Dorgan cited two things when I asked him: his ability to force a vote on his flagship financial issue--banning naked credit default swaps--and the fact that, ultimately, he didn't want to stand in the way of a bill he thinks makes some, though not sufficient, progress.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Reacting to the controversy over Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul's views on civil rights, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had a message for journalists today, the Daily Caller reports: "If I were you guys I'd give him a little leeway. He just got elected. It's a tough thing for him to get in the middle of this cauldron."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (43) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A new Patriot Majority/Public Policy Polling (D) survey of Nevada finds that former state Rep. Sharron Angle leads in the Republican primary for Senate, over establishment candidate and former state Sen. Sue Lowden and former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian.
The numbers: Angle 29%, Lowden 26%, Tarkanian 24%, followed by state Rep. Chad Christensen and businessman John Chachas at 5% each. The poll of likely GOP primary voters has a ±3.8% margin of error.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed Angle surging into second place, trailing Lowden by 30%-25%, with Tarkanian at 22%. Lowden began the primary as the establishment favorite, but has stumbled as a result of her now-infamous suggestion that people use the barter system to lower their health care costs -- discussing how her grandparents' generation would bring a chicken to the doctor as payment.
(Via Jon Ralston.)PERMALINK | COMMENTS (23) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
In the space of a few hours today, Rand Paul first hedged, then reversed, then, finally, repudiated his previously stated opposition to a key section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
It began with the Kentucky senate candidate issuing a statement saying he would not favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act. But the statement fell short of supporting the power of the government to ban racial discrimination by private businesses.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (157) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
When at first you don't succeed...
After failing yesterday to get the 60 votes they needed to bring debate on a historic financial reform bill to a close, Senate Democrats succeeded in this afternoon's cloture vote.
The final vote today was 60-40 (yesterday it was 57-42). Next up is a final vote on passage, which is expected to take place within days.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (89) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rand Paul's Democratic opponent in the Kentucky Senate race has come out with a statement attacking Paul for criticizing part of the Civil Rights Act.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (16) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The new Rasmussen poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race shows Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak jumping into the lead over Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey, in the wake of Sestak's upset victory over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in Tuesday's Democratic primary.
The numbers: Sestak 46%, Toomey 42%. The poll of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. Two weeks ago, Rasmussen had Toomey edging out Sestak by 42%-40%, and also had Toomey leading Specter by a much wider 50%-38%. The TPM Poll Average, composed entirely of pre-primary data except for this new survey, has Toomey ahead of Sestak by 39.6%-37.7%, with Sestak clearly gaining since March.
The pollster's analysis finds that Democratic voters are rallying around their nominee, now that the primary is over: "Support for Sestak among Democrats in Pennsylvania jumped from 64% to 80% since the Primary election. Toomey's support among GOP voters in the state has changed little over the past two weeks."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (46) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) considers the passing of the Civil Rights Act one of the most important and "formative" events in his career. And that's why, a McConnell spokesperson said in a statement obtained by Ben Smith, the senator is "glad to hear" Rand Paul supports it too.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (5) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon and really laid into Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul over his criticism of the Civil Rights Act -- and the fact that Paul held his victory party Tuesday at a country club.
"I was absolutely appalled," Clyburn said.
"I could not believe that he was holding his victory party in a private members-only club where the vast majority of the people who just finished voting for him would not even be welcome," Clyburn said. "I couldn't believe that."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (50) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
In a stunning move last night, the Staten Island GOP executive committee nominated former Rep. Vito Fossella to run for his old House seat.
Fossella, who chose not to run for re-election in 2008 after he admitted to fathering a child with his mistress, was not at the executive committee meeting. During the meeting, the committee interviewed two other candidates, Michael Allegretti and Michael Grimm, before voting overwhelmingly to nominate Fossella.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Giddy Republicans itching to take back the House this fall should be warned by the Democratic win in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional district, DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen said today.
"The hype about this being another 1994 hit the brick wall," Van Hollen (D-MD) said at a briefing with reporters today at the DNC headquarters. His argument is that the Republicans poured massive cash into the closely divided district, and lost by a wide margin despite the big effort. What's more, the GOP had boasted this would be an easy district to win and consultants were telling reporters as late as poll closing time Tuesday they thought they'd scored a victory.
"They went all in on this race ... they did a test run of their strategy and it crashed and failed," Van Hollen said. He admitted it remains a tough political year for the majority party, and declined to speculate just how many seats the Democrats would lose in November. But he said the GOP won't win back the House in part because their candidates are being pushed to the extreme right by the tea party movement.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (15) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who backed Rand Paul in his Senate primary, today refused to comment to Think Progress about Paul's critiques of the Civil Rights Act.
"I haven't seen the interview yet," DeMint said. "I'm gonna talk to Rand about his positions there before I talk to you."
DeMint also said that he supports the Civil Rights Act.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (18) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) has some strong words for fellow Bluegrass State politician Rand Paul (R). Just a day after Paul handily won the Republican Senate nomination, Yarmuth said the tea party favorite has tarnished Kentucky's image with his highly publicized comments about the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
"Rand Paul has already embarrassed Kentuckians in the eyes of the world," Yarmouth said in a statement. "The Commonwealth deserves better because we are better - and I call on Mitch McConnell and my other colleagues in the Kentucky Congressional Delegation to join me in condemning his despicable views."
Yarmouth called Paul's libertarian take on the landmark 1964 law -- Paul takes issue with portions of the legislation banning discrimination in private businesses -- "simply appalling."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (15) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sometimes a "no comment" tells you all you need to know. Such is the case with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who, as chairman of the NRSC, is responsible for getting Rand Paul--critic of the Civil Right's Act--a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Just off the Senate floor this afternoon, I asked Cornyn for his response to Paul's lengthy comments on MSNBC last night. He demurred: "I haven't heard it, so I'm really not in a position to comment."
I explained Paul's stated view that, while morally wrong, private businesses should be permitted by law to discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, or disability. Once again, no comment.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (22) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who was defeated for renomination at his state Republican convention nearly two weeks ago, has announced that he will not try to hold on to office through a write-in campaign.
"I will not run a write-in campaign for the Senate race in Utah," said Bennett, who was successfully targeted for defeat at his party convention by the Club For Growth and the Tea Party movement, due to his having voted for the TARP bailout and having worked on a health care reform proposal with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Bennett was first elected to the Senate in 1992, and has served for three terms. When he lost at the state GOP convention earlier this month, Bennett became the first incumbent Senator to lose re-election in the 2010 cycle, followed this week by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in his Democratic primary. The eventual Republican nominee in this deep-red state will be determined in a June 22 primary between attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who both defeated Bennett for spots on the ballot under the Utah convention process.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Following intense media scrutiny on his views on the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s, Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul released a statement today "unequivocally" asserting that "I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
Paul says he supports the Civil Rights Act "because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation." He stops short of saying he supports the law's mechanisms to force desegregation. And he concludes the statement this way, citing health care reform: "This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs."
Here it is in full, via Time:PERMALINK | COMMENTS (45) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
As we've all heard by now, Rand Paul has set off a firestorm by criticizing the Civil Rights Act for requiring private businesses not to practice racial discrimination, in response to questions last night from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
But Maddow's inquiry picked up on comments the Kentucky GOP Senate candidate originally made last month in an interview with the editorial board of Louisville's Courier-Journal. So it's worth taking a closer look at that interview. And in some ways, Paul's libertarian position comes off as both more radical and more fully-formed than it did last night.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (44) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Swapping the Rachel Maddow Show set for perhaps more accepting digs this morning, Rand Paul told listeners of the Laura Ingraham radio show that the controversy surrounding his criticism of parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is political theater dreamed up by the "loony left."
Ben Smith tuned in to Ingraham's right wing radio show and reports on the host's interview with Paul:
"I've never really favored any change in the Civil Rights Act," Paul said, according to Smth. "They seem to have unleashed some of the loony left on me."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (24) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rand Paul's interview with NPR's All Things Considered last night was the first sign the the freshly-minted Kentucky Republican Senate nominee might have some explaining to do today. The blogosphere is already alight with Paul's interview with Rachel Maddow, but his interview on NPR shows that his libertarian views go deeper than just his take on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Speaking with NPR's Robert Siegel, Paul made the case for less federal involvement in workplace and environmental regulation, including his opposition to some components of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Based on the NPR interview, Paul's views seem to break down like this: a libertarian take on private freedom mixed with the tea party conservative-style frustration with the federal government. Rather than call for an end to all regulation of things like mining and energy production -- a view that would likely jive with hardcore libertarians -- Paul takes a tea party tack and calls for those things currently regulated by the federal government to be regulated by individual states instead.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (17) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
It didn't take long for Kentucky Republican Rand Paul to stumble into trouble. Steeped in libertarianism and partly in the conservative anti-establishment tea party movement, his views -- particularly those on the Civil Rights Act -- have been the subject of much scrutiny and debate since he won the GOP Senate nomination Tuesday night. Last night, Paul's views burst into the national debate after an interview Paul gave to Rachel Maddow set the Internet alight.
In a nutshell, here's what he said:
"Well, there's 10 -- there's 10 different -- there's 10 different titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act, and nine out of 10 deal with public institutions and I'm absolutely in favor of," he told Maddow deep in their 15-minute interview. "One deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have tried to modify that."
Got that? Rand Paul agrees with most of the Civil Rights Act, but not the part that deals with private businesses. And he won't say whether or not that one part of the bill would have been a deal-breaker if he had been in Congress when the bill was up for a vote.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (192) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
The new Rasmussen poll of the Kentucky Senate race gives Republican nominee Rand Paul a post-primary bump, posting a big lead against Democratic state Attorney General Jack Conway.
The numbers: Paul 59%, Conway 34%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. The previous Rasmussen poll from late April, before the primaries, gave Paul a lead of 47%-38% in a matchup with Conway. The TPM Poll Average, entirely of pre-primary data except for this new survey, gives Paul a lead of 48.4%-37.3%.
Rasmussen cautions against declaring a Paul victory to be a foregone conclusion: "While Paul is capitalizing for now on Tea Party unhappiness in Kentucky over national policies, he's also a political newcomer who's running against a candidate who has previously run both for Congress and for statewide office. Rookie candidates often make unforced errors and it is difficult to project how well the GOP candidate will handle the campaign trail between now and November."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (36) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has never used an ATM. But that doesn't mean he can't learn how!
"I could learn how to do it just like I've . . . I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries," Nelson said, according to the Omaha World-Herald. "I know about the holograms."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (38) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez told me in a brief interview that his takeaway from Tuesday's elections is that Democrats are the ones willing to shake things up in Washington, and that's a message you can expect to hear from candidates in the coming months. In the battle for control of Congress, Democrats see improved chances, in part by the choices voters made in Tuesday's primaries.
Menendez (D-NJ) boasted that in all three states which held elections Tuesday, Democrats outnumbered Republican voters, calling it "hooey" that GOPers think they have the intensity on their side this fall.
Menendez also said that Rep. Joe Sestak will be a great general election candidate against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) in Pennsylvania. He said since Toomey is a former derivatives trader who voted for George W. Bush's agenda Sestak will have no trouble reminding voters he's the one who can shakeup Washington, especially after having challenged his own party establishment in a primary. "I'll take that contrast," Menendez told me.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's lead in the Republican gubernatorial primary plummeting, though she retains an advantage over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
The numbers: Whitman 38%, Poizner 29%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±5% margin of error. Back in March, Whitman led by a whopping 61%-11%. The TPM Poll Average gives Whitman a lead over Poizner of 39.1%-29.2% in the GOP primary, down from a seemingly overwhelming Whitman lead as recently as March.
Whitman's support has fallen in large part due to Democratic attacks over her connections to Goldman Sachs -- the Dems would prefer to face Poizner in the fall. There may also have been a backlash against her big personal spending on the race, which has reached $68 million so far, and a tightly controlled media operation in which she has avoided directly answering questions from reporters about the issues -- a fact that is frequently noted in media reports.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (13) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter declared in an interview that he's a stronger general election candidate than Sen. Blanche Lincoln, pointing to his strong showing statewide in Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary in defiance of conventional wisdom that a progressive favorite would only win urban districts. By his math, over 55 percent of the Democratic primary electorate picked someone other than Lincoln. He likes those odds for their June 8 runoff.
"The fact is we won counties in every part of the state," Halter told TPMDC in a wide-ranging interview last night. He said he will keep telling everyone for the next three weeks that "if you send the same people to Washington you're going to wind up getting the same results."
Conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison pulled in 13 percent of the vote, and told TPMDC yesterday he won't be backing Lincoln or Halter. Are his voters up for grabs? Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean thinks so, telling me this week that "anybody could win this one" since the conservative's voters probably aren't enchanted by Lincoln. "[Morrison's] voters stay home or they vote for the anti-establishment candidate," Dean said.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
In an interview with The Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that the military's ban on gays will be repealed by year's end.
Pelosi also said that the Democrats will retain their majority in the House this November -- "for sure."
"One thing I know for sure is that Democrats will retain their majority in the House of Representatives," Pelosi said.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (5) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
No Crashers At The State Dinner
The Washington Post reports on some good news from last night's state dinner -- there were no crashers: "This time, it looked as if everything went perfectly. The name of every guest arriving for Wednesday night's state dinner appeared on the official list. The inevitable comparisons to the drama of last year's faded away. And the party talk was focused on politics, the majesty of the White House and how so many memories were being made on such a night. Which is how it should be."
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, will receive the economic daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET, and will meet at 11 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama and Vice President Biden will meet at 3 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Did Bill Halter benefit from a hidden conservative vote in Tuesday's Arkansas Democratic primary against incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, despite having run to Lincoln's left? And will those voters be back again for Halter in three weeks' time, when the runoff is held?
If the voting patterns of this race followed a strict left-right dynamic, we might expect to have seen Halter do well in the more urban, relatively liberal pockets of the Little Rock area, and for Lincoln to perform better in rural Arkansas.
But in fact, it was Lincoln who won Pulaski County (Little Rock), by a margin of 52%-40%, and she also won Jefferson County (Pine Bluff) by 51%-39%. Halter made up the difference and nearly caught Lincoln in the popular vote with stronger showings in many rural counties, especially in his home area of southern Arkansas. So how did this happen?PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo announced today that he is not seeking a recanvass of the votes in the Democratic primary for Senate, which he lost by a margin of 0.68% to state Attorney General Jack Conway, after having previously indicated that he would seek one.
"This was a difficult decision. Many of our supporters have poured their hearts and souls into this campaign and they are heartbroken today," Mongiardo said in a statement released in the late afternoon. "However, upon further reflection, I realize that despite their being less than a 1% difference in the vote, a re-canvass is extremely unlikely to change the outcome. It would only delay the healing process that needs to take place. I want to express my sincere thanks to the thousands of Kentuckians who worked on our campaign and the 225,000 Kentuckians who supported our efforts with their vote."
As we learned earlier today from a state election official, a recanvass was highly unlikely to change the outcome of the race.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Sen. Scott Brown acknowledged tonight that he did indeed tell Majority Leader Harry Reid he'd support financial reform legislation, before voting to filibuster at the last minute. But he says he's confident he'll ultimately side with the Democrats, and suggested he may switch his vote back to yes as early as tomorrow.
"I'm confident that something will be resolved," Brown told reporters tonight. He claims his last minute defection was based on remaining objections he has to rules restricting high risks trades by financial companies, which he says will adversely impact insurance companies and trusts in his state.
"When he told me that I let him down, I told him straight up that I certainly felt badly about it, but bottom line is representations were made, issues were not resolved and here we are," Brown said.
Whether it bothered him or not, though, Brown says he doesn't mind that Reid basically called him out publicly. "It's maybe cuz I'm the new guy," Brown joked.
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The day after Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway secured the Democratic Senate nomination he took direct aim at his Republican opponent, Rand Paul, calling the tea party favorite outside the mainstream.
Conway pointed to several positions Paul has publicly taken -- including support for repealing the American With Disabilities Act and abolishing the Department of Education -- and suggested he's going to run hard against the way Paul has rallied the tea partiers.
"I understand there's frustration in the country. I understand there's frustration in Kentucky," Conway said when I asked him about Paul's tea party base. "But my question is, how do we use that passion? Metaphorically, do we want to heat the building or do we want to burn it down?"
Conway said Paul's approach was "destructive rather than constructive" and would hurt him in the end. "These are not the views of mainstream Kentuckians," he said.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (62) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Two progressive Democrats joined 39 Republicans this evening to block a final vote in the Senate on Wall Street reform, putting the two parties in the same position they found themselves in nearly one month ago when the entire GOP held together, for several days, to delay the bill from coming to the floor.
Now, just as then, Democrats will bring to bear a relentless campaign of public pressure on key Republicans and private arm-twisting on hold-out Democrats, in order to corral the 60 votes they need to end debate on the bill. And they'll have an opportunity to do just that tomorrow, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid holds a revote.
Back in April, though, that effort led to a broad capitulation by the GOP. This time, Republican senators and aides say it will only net them the handful votes they need to get over the top. One top GOP aide predicted the filibuster will break tomorrow.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (25) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
An overnight snap poll from Research 2000/Democracy For America suggests that Bill Halter is potentially beginning the Democratic primary runoff for Senate in Arkansas with a lead over incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
The numbers: Halter 48%, Lincoln 46%. The survey of people who voted in Tuesday's first round of the Democratic primary has a ±4.5% margin of error.
The TPM Poll Average gives Lincoln an insignificant edge of 45.2%-45.1% in a direct two-way race with Halter -- but keep in mind that this data set is almost entirely from polls taken before the primary, and has a lot of asterisks and caveats to go with it.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (10) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Senate Democrats failed this afternoon to get the 60 votes they needed to end debate on the financial reform bill.
Two Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. But with multiple Democrats voting against cloture, and another absent, the Democrats fell just short. The final vote was 57-42.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (45) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (2)
With the big Super Tuesday primary elections out of the way, the White House and the Democratic National Committee have mounted a public relations offensive to sell Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan to voters and the senators tasked with her confirmation. Meanwhile, key Democrats are asking for more information on her record on abortion rights.
Judiciary Committee hearings will begin June 28, the panel announced today. It's an earlier start than ranking member Sen. Jeff Session (R-AL) had sought, and Leahy said he wants to wrap the hearings by July 4. Staffers from both parties are poring over Kagan's 202-page questionnaire detailing her record. Kagan herself has done a charm offensive while doing the standard in-person meetings with senators on Capitol Hill.
Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, a co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, sent Leahy a letter asking for more information on the nominee's pro-choice stance. Slaughter (D-NY) argued that Kagan's position is relatively unknown given her lack of a judicial record.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who was defeated for renomination at the state Republican convention a week and a half ago, is seemingly poised to announce tomorrow whether he will fight on in the general election with a write-in bid.
Speaking to USA Today, Bennett was rather cryptic. Here is their report:
Asked in an interview whether he would pursue the write-in route, Bennett offered his standard line: "Once I make that decision, you'll be the second to know," he said. But Bennett, 76, then added, "Stay tuned tomorrow." Asked if that meant he would announce his decision tomorrow, Bennett repeated, "Stay tuned tomorrow."
The Republican nominee in this deep-red state is yet to be determined, with a June 22 primary between attorney Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater, who both defeated Bennett for spots on the ballot under the Utah convention process.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (28) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Labor unions are doubling down in Arkansas as Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter are set to duel for another three weeks in a Democratic primary runoff election. The AFL-CIO announced this morning they will keep up an aggressive push on Halter's behalf, and a top labor official lashed out over Lincoln's Tuesday night speech after polls closed.
After earning 45 percent of the vote (below the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff) to Halter's 43 percent, Lincoln lamented "outside groups," ordering them to "go home." I asked labor officials about the remark this morning.
"There's nothing outside about people who are members of unions in Arkansas," AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman responded in the conference call with reporters. "I don't know what she's talking about. This was an effort initiated by union activists in Arkansas for Arkansas."
A scheduled 2 p.m. vote to end debate on the Senate financial reform bill had to be pushed back this afternoon because of objections by Democrats.
The exact sequence of events is a bit unclear, but it centered around an attempt by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who's managing the bill on the floor, to call up some final amendments before the 2 p.m. cloture vote. But Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who's trying to secure a vote on his own amendment, and who is one of several progressives dismayed by Democratic leadership's unwillingness to allow votes on consumer-friendly amendments, objected.
Dodd and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could try and cut off debate anyhow, but their decision to delay, at least for now, may indicate that they're shy of the 60 votes they'd need to prevail. Democrats will be caucusing shortly, to figure out a way around the impasse. The way things work around these parts, that could take hours...or much longer.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (13) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new Rasmussen poll of Arizona shows Sen. John McCain expanding his lead against his challenger in the Republican primary, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. But he's not quite in the clear just yet.
The numbers: McCain 52%, Hayworth 40%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. Last month, McCain's lead was a much narrower 47%-42%. The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead of 52.7%-37.4%. Since then, McCain has gone further to the right on immigration, backing Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law and running an ad promising to "complete the danged fence."
Rasmussen writes: "The 2008 Republican Presidential nominee cannot be comforted by the fact that his level of support in early primary polling is similar to the numbers for Arlen Specter. Specter, defeated by Joe Sestak, led in just about all early polling but could never get much above the 50% level of support. That provided Joe Sestak with a chance to defeat the 30-year veteran of the Senate yesterday."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (18) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new survey of Colorado by Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that Dems are picking up steam in this state's key Senate race, with both incumbent Dem Sen. Michael Bennet taking a lead over Republican establishment favorite Jane Norton, and both Bennet and his primary challenger Andrew Romanoff leading all of the Republican contenders.
Bennet leads former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton by 44%-41%, and leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck and state Sen. Tom Wiens by six and eight points respectively. Romanoff edges Norton by 43%-41%, is ahead of Buck by three points, and leads Wiens by four points. The poll of registered voters has a ±3% margin of error. The full results are available here.
The TPM Poll Average has Norton edging Bennet by 44.1%-43.0%, with recent momentum in Bennet's favor, and Norton narrowly leading Romanoff by 44.2%-41.2%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
A far-reaching proposal to regulate derivative trading will not be scaled back in Wall Street reform legislation, at least for now, multiple Senate aides confirm. The development comes as welcome news to an unusual mix of progressives, financial officials, and at least one conservative Democrat: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
Lincoln is the author of the derivatives title in the Senate's financial regulation bill, and for weeks has faced opposition from Wall Street, the White House, and members of her own party over a provision to force financial firms to spin off their derivatives trading desks into stand-alone entities.
The proposal to weaken the derivatives title was ultimately drafted by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd--the Democrats' chief financial reform negotiator--and introduced yesterday at the eleventh hour of the debate over Wall Street reform. In it, Dodd proposed kicking the spin-off provision down the road for two years pending review by federal regulators, many of whom are already unfavorably disposed to it.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (52) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The Club For Growth has made its choice in the Nevada Senate race, picking tea party-backed former state Rep. Sharron Angle in the three-way Republican primary to go up against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
This brings the Club's considerable heft into a race that has seen GOP establishment favorite Sue Lowden fumble from her suggestion that people use the barter system to lower their health care costs -- infamously discussing how her grandparents' generation would bring a chicken to the doctor as payment. Former UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian is also competing with Angle for hardline conservative votes, and the Club's choice could potentially have a big impact. They've already had a strong cycle for Republican nominations, advancing Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio in Florida -- and they have taken credit for Utah Sen. Bob Bennett losing renomination at his state GOP convention.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll showed Angle surging into second place, trailing Lowden by 30%-25%, with Tarkanian at 22%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (2) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) says she will vote today with Majority Leader Harry Reid to end the debate on financial reform legislation.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The third-place finisher in the May 4 North Carolina Democratic Senate primary endorsed Secretary of State Elaine Marshall this morning, increasing the chances that Marshall will defeat the Democratic establishment choice, Iraq veteran Cal Cunningham, in the June 22 runoff.
Marshall won the popular vote on May 4, leading the field with 36% of the total votes cast. Cunningham, who is the DSCC choice, came in second with 27%. Third place finisher Ken Lewis -- an attorney who was endorsed by most of the state's African American establishment -- took home 17% of the vote. Since none of the candidates crossed the 40% threshold required by state law, a runoff between Marshall and Cunningham was called.
Who Lewis would endorse in that race was one of the big questions for observers. Lewis brings with him a key component of the Democratic base, and who his voters choose June 22 could be the difference between victory and defeat. Today, Lewis made his choice, standing with Marshall at a press conference in Raleigh, NC.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (9) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has announced that he will seek a recanvass of the votes in the Democratic primary for Senate, in which he has come up short against state Attorney General Jack Conway. However, the Secretary of State's office tells TPMDC that a recanvass would be unlikely to change the outcome.
From the Mongiardo campaign's press release:
Mongiardo trails Conway by 3,542 out of 520,412 votes cast, a razor thin margin of 0.68 percent.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Mongiardo campaign spokesman Kim Geveden said, "Make no mistake, Daniel accepts the results and congratulates Jack Conway on his hard-fought race. But Daniel also believes, in a race this close, he owes it to his supporters across the Commonwealth who gave so much of their time, energy and money to our cause, to make sure the results are accurate. With only 3,542 votes between the candidates, let's be sure the votes have been accurately reported."
"While it is unlikely there are sufficient errors to reverse the outcome, this re-canvassing process is quick and simple and will give the nominee of our party the ability to move forward into the fall against Rand Paul," said Geveden.
Until Monday, Rob Simmons was, arguably, a long shot for Chris Dodd's Senate seat. The Republican was trailing wealthy executive Linda McMahon for the GOP nod, and was behind uber-popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) by more than 20 points.
Then Blumenthal was outed for saying he had served in Vietnam when he never had.
Simmons, a Vietnam War veteran with two Bronze Stars, has gone full court press on the attorney general's scandal. He's running fund-raising ads, holdings press conferences and blasting out videos and press releases touting his own military service.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (11) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The mysterious conservative Democrat that managed to pull in 13% of the vote in last night's Arkansas Democratic Senate primary says he expects Sen. Blanche Lincoln will win the runoff -- but she doesn't have his vote. D.C. Morrison, who ran on a far-right platform that included abolishing the IRS and opposing abortion rights, told me this morning he won't be endorsing anyone in the runoff and can't predict what his voters will do when Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter meet again in the June 8 runoff.
"That's hard for me to say," he told me when I asked how he thought his voters would split in the runoff. "Down the middle, I guess."
Morrison said "most" of his voters were "traditional Democrats who would never, ever vote Republican." The same doesn't go for Morrison however -- he said he won't vote for either Democrat in the runoff and will cast his own ballot for GOP nominee John Boozman in November.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Forget the Arkansas runoff or Joe Sestak's campaign against Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. The most ideological Senate race to come out of last night's primaries is in Kentucky, plain and simple.
The race pits state Attorney General Jack Conway, a pro-choice, pro-heath care reform, pro-Don't Ask Don't Tell-repeal Democrat against ophthalmologist Rand Paul, the self-proclaimed walking, talking embodiment of the tea party movement.
Nowhere else will the battle between the progressive left and the hard-core tea party right be clearer than here. Neither man is the perfect example of his supporters' hopes and dreams, but they're pretty darn close. And now they're going to go to war. It's the race both national sides have been waiting for -- rather than a candidate who runs toward the middle, Progressive Democrats get an avowed pro-choice Democrat to carry their flag in the red state of Kentucky. Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, get their poster boy to battle it out with Conway and his netroot supporters.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (49) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
In Kentucky, the national Republican Party backed the wrong candidate in not one but two primaries. The Democrats managed to hold on to Rep. John Murtha's old seat in Pennsylvania. And while Sen. Arlen Specter is no longer a Republican, his defeat by Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary means the GOP nominee will face, perhaps, a much stronger opponent than the beleaguered Specter would have been.
It was a rough night for the Republicans.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (138) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Connecticut attorney general Dick Blumenthal (D) has seen his double-digit lead over former wrestling CEO Linda McMahon (R) collapse in the wake of the New York Times expose on his self-professed "misstatements" about his military record.
A new Rasmussen poll of the race, taken Tuesday night -- about 24 hours after the Times story broke -- shows Blumenthal ahead by a margin of 48-45. The last Rasmussen poll of that matchup, taken May 4, showed Blumenthal decimating McMahon by a margin of 52-39.
In the new poll, Blumenthal's lead over the other two Republicans in the primary race -- Rep. Rob Simmons and businessman Peter Schiff -- also took a dip in the wake of the story. The poll of 500 likely voters was taken on May 18 and has a margin of error of 4.5%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (64) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
What had been a fairly non-contentious debate over Wall Street reform legislation nearly came off the rails on Tuesday after Republicans--tacitly backed (or at least unimpeded) by top Democrats--used Senate rules to block votes on far-reaching, consumer-friendly amendments, portending a potential progressive revolt.
This afternoon at 2 pm, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will attempt to bring debate on the financial reform bill to a close, though it remains unclear whether he has the 60 votes he'll need to prevail.
A big reason for that? A number of Democrats--most vocally, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)--have threatened to vote against ending debate until their flagship amendments get a vote on the floor. But Republicans are standing in the way, saying they'll filibuster those amendments, subjecting each to a 60 vote requirement, and, more importantly, several days' worth of delay. Faced with a choice between picking a fight with Republicans over those amendments and simply moving ahead with the bill, Democratic leadership has, for now, chosen the latter.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (28) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said in an interview that Tuesday's elections look like a "pretty big sweep" for progressives. "They are having a big night," he said.
"My belief is that progressive Dems are a lot more appealing to mainstream voters than tea party advocates," Dean told me in an interview just after Rep. Joe Sestak was declared the winner over Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.
"This is a big night for people who really want Washington to be a change agent," Dean said, adding the results show a "backlash" against both parties in official Washington. Dean, also former governor of Vermont and a 2004 presidential candidate, said he views Jack Conway as the progressive choice in Kentucky and said Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's forcing of a runoff in Arkansas proves that candidates on the left can prevail.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (44) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said in an interview that Sen. Arlen Specter was defeated by Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic Senate primary because voters "misunderstood" Specter's reasons for switching parties after four decades as a Republican. He already has endorsed Sestak and said he isn't worried the Democratic party will take long to heal any primary wounds, but sounded downright worried about whether Democrats can keep the seat in a general election matchup with former Rep. Pat Toomey.
"No one can replace Arlen right away but hopefully Congressman Sestak or Congressman Toomey can grow in the job," Rendell (D-PA) told me in an interview after midnight as he drove home from an election night event. "Joe has a real chance to win but it's at best a tossup."
The TPM Poll Average of this race -- based on polls taken before Tuesday's primary -- shows Toomey leading 39.1 percent to 35.4 percent for Sestak.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (43) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) won tonight's Republican primary in the Arkansas Senate race, taking 54% of the vote with 71% of precincts reporting.
Although Boozman was expected to win, local Republicans, smelling blood in the water around Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), had crowded the GOP field. But Boozman managed to avoid a runoff, giving him a free pass for the next three-weeks while the Democrats pick their nominee in a runoff.
Boozman, who's been a congressman since 2001, will face off against the Democratic candidate this November. The TPM Polltracker Average shows Boozman leading Lincoln 54.2% to 37.0%, and leading Lt. Gov. Bill Halter 52.8% to 37.1%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Updated 11:55 ET
Settle in, kids -- this one's going to overtime. National progressives failed to topple Sen. Blanche Lincoln in tonight, sending the hard-fought Arkansas Democratic Senate primary into a three-week sprint to a June 8 run-off election between Lincoln and the choice of left-wing Democrats, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
With 62% of precincts reporting, Lincoln and Halter are tied at 43% each, though Lincoln is leading the popular vote. Conservative alternative D.C. Morrison has a surprising 14%.
Progressives will see this as a victory. Challenging an incumbent Senator in a primary is tough in any circumstances, and Lincoln's considerable war chest and political savvy made this a particularly tough challenge. Still, Lincoln's resilience shows through in the fact that the full force of organized labor and the netroots failed to defeat her on the first ballot.
Turnout for run-offs is generally quite low, which could make the race anybody's game. But Lincoln has proven to be a tough fighter, while Halter seemingly failed to live up to the expectations his national supporters set for him when he jumped in the primary on March 1. They spent millions trying to take out Lincoln so far -- now they'll have to dig deep to do it again.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (33) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Rep. Joe Sestak claimed victory tonight over Sen. Arlen Specter, saying his primary rival for the Democratic Senate nomination has a "legacy to be proud of." Sestak (D-PA) defeated the 30-year incumbent with 54 percent of the vote with 87 percent of precincts reporting.
Sestak thanked Specter for his service and said he "has done good things for Pennsylvania." Specter earlier tonight tweeted that he endorsed Sestak in the general election matchup against Republican Pat Toomey. He said in his victory speech that the election was about voters who "stood up and wanted diverse voices heard."
"This is what democracy looks like," said Sestak, a retired Navy admiral who served in the Clinton White House. With his sleeves rolled up, he said it was a victory over the "establishment" and "status quo" in Washington, a pointed reference to the party machine that campaigned hard for Specter up to the last minute tonight. Sestak said he was willing to "stand up" to his own party. President Obama's robocalls for Specter were still being heard this afternoon.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
After a heated race against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) conceded defeat tonight in the Democratic Pennsylvania Senate primary.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Mark Critz (D-PA) appeared to narrowly win a special election today to fill the late Rep. John Murtha's seat, a victory the Democrats believe means the fall midterm elections might not be so bad after all. He'll be quickly seated by House leadership once results are finalized.
Critz was leading Republican Tim Burns with 53 percent of the vote to Burns' 45 percent and 70 percent of precincts reporting, and Burns conceded the race around 10:30 p.m. In an unusual twist, both candidates are aiming to be on the November ballot. Critz was on track to prevail in a party primary to be the nominee in the general election, and if Burns' lead for his primary holds steady, these two candidates will be matched up again in November.
The Dem turnout was boosted by a competitive Senate primary between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak, one reason the majority party had been sounding quite confident about the race for several days. Critz was fueled as well by labor activists and Democratic volunteers who made calls and knocked on doors for weeks to help keep the seat. Former President Bill Clinton stumped for Critz over the weekend.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (53) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
Updated at 11:44 ET
Rep. Joe Sestak has defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary for the Senate seat Specter held as a Republican for nearly three decades, an upset reinforcing that this fall might be a tough slog for incumbents. Sestak was leading Specter with 54 percent of the vote to Specter's 46 percent. There were 95 percent of precincts reporting and Specter conceded after several news outlets called the race. Sestak will face Republican Pat Toomey in November.
Specter, 80, has been a key ally of President Obama's White House since being one of just three Republicans to back the $787 billion economic stimulus plan in February 2009. Ironically, that's the vote that started to seriously harm his political chances as more and more Republicans defected to Toomey. He switched parties on April 28, 2009, declaring he'd looked at his "bleak" poll numbers and wanted to remain in office. "I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate," Specter said then. He said he wouldn't be a rubber stamp 60th vote, but became a reliable supporter of the Democrats' agenda including health care reform.
But for all of his support from Obama, Gov. Ed Rendell and the battleground state's powerful Democratic machine, Specter was haunted by his past relationship with former President George W. Bush. Sestak ran a tough ad showing Specter and Bush side-by-side, and his team banked on Democrats having long memories that they'd been voting against Specter for years.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (73) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
CNN and the AP call it: Attorney General Jack Conway has won the Democratic primary in the Kentucky Senate race, beating Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo in a vote of 44% to 43%, with 98% of precincts reporting.
Conway has 224,756 votes to Mongiardo's 217,768. The winner will face Rand Paul this November.
Recent polls showed the race in a dead heat, with the final poll showing Mongiardo leading Conway by just three points. Conway spent more money, using TV ads to accuse Mongiardo of charging a New York steakhouse dinner to the state, but Mongiardo fought back. He used 15-second spots to attack Conway for accepting money from utility companies.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (6) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
In the Republican primary in the KY-03 House race, the NRCC chose Jeff Reetz as their candidate --- but it looks like they chose the wrong tea partier.
Reetz, a Pizza Hut franchise owner, lost the primary, badly, to UPS pilot Todd Lally. Lally won 52% of the vote to Reetz's 17%, with 94% of precincts reporting. Reetz didn't even come in second: Another Republican, Larry Hausman, garnered 25% of the vote.
All the candidates had courted the tea party vote, and Lally and Reetz had both appeared at tea party events and had spoken out against "ObamaCare." But the NRCC chose Reetz for their "Young Guns" program, naming him a third-tier "on the radar" candidate in April.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (12) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
There's now officially a plan to scale back Blanche Lincoln's far-reaching proposal to regulate derivatives, and it comes from a leading Democrat.
At issue remains Lincon's plan to force financial companies to spin off their derivatives trading desks into distinct entities. Today, minutes before the noon filing deadline, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd introduced legislation to delay the spin-off provision for two years, pending review by federal regulators, and likely scotching it altogether.
Already, progressive and conservative senators are rebelling against the Dodd plan--though it's unclear if or when the plan will get a vote. And, as reported here last week, the timing spares Lincoln, who's facing a primary election tonight, the political embarrassment that would have accompanied gutting the most controversial and populist element of her plan. In fact, the plan itself could give Lincoln cover to argue that her proposal has been preserved. Though in a statement issued today, Lincoln reiterated her support for her amendment and vowed to fight to preserve it.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ready to get behind Rand Paul.
McConnell endorsed Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state's Republican Senate primary -- the race in which Tea Party favorite Rand Paul just walloped McConnell's hand-picked establishment candidate.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, who just won the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky against Secretary of State Trey Grayson, spoke from a local country club after his win. Paul said that "Washington is horribly broken. We stand on a precipice. We are encountering a day of reckoning."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (36) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Trey Grayson, the Kentucky Secretary of State, has officially conceded the Republican primary race for Senator, CNN reports.
"We must unite behind Dr. Paul," Grayson said, adding, "We have more things that unite us."
Grayson was the establishment Republican in the race -- winning endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) and the Chamber of Commerce -- while Rand Paul has been the tea party favorite. Polls in recent weeks showed Paul taking a commanding lead of the race.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
As if it wasn't bad enough for Trey Grayson, the establishment candidate, to apparently lose the Republican primary in the Kentucky Senate race to conservative Rand Paul -- he even lost his home county. In a landslide.
Boone County, where Grayson lives with his family, went to Paul 67%, with all precincts reporting. Grayson only got 31% of the vote.
Overall, with 32% of precincts reporting, Paul has 59% of the votes to Grayson's 37%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (2) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The Senate just voted 56-38 to table Sen. Byron Dorgan's amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that would have banned trading in naked credit default swaps, essentially eliminating a huge gambling market, wherein speculators bet on the success or failure of entities in which they have no financial interest.
That may complicate matters for Democratic leaders, who quite possibly just lost Dorgan's vote.
"I'm not very interested in moving a bill that doesn't address the central issue that I want to address," Dorgan told me a few minutes before his amendment was tabled. "But we'll see. We'll work tonight and see what happens."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (9) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Updated at 11:07 ET
The tea party movement got its best chance at winning a seat in the U.S. Senate tonight when Kentucky voters chose Rand Paul as the the GOP nominee. As expected, Paul has won decisively, dealing a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment, which spent much time and effort trying defeat Paul's insurgent campaign and secure the nomination for Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
Rand currently leads Grayson by 59% to 35% with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.
Paul faces a general election campaign that will put the purest form of the tea party message on the Senate ballot so far this year. Democrats are enjoying the opportunity to mock McConnell for losing a battle with the ultra-right in his home state, but they haven't said much about how they plan to beat Paul themselves. Republicans, meanwhile, have said they're ready to stand behind Paul and say signs are good he'll hold the seat for the GOP.
The polls give Republicans reason to be confident -- Paul has performed well against Democrats in hypothetical matchups all year, and definitely starts the general election race as the frontrunner. In a matchup with Democratic nominee Jack Conway, the TPM Poll Average shows Paul ahead by a margin of 44.7-38.4.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (45) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) told me a few hours before the polls close in the Democratic primary election that the weather isn't helping Sen. Arlen Specter as he fights to keep his seat.
"The weather is a blow to him," Rendell told me in an interview. "Senator Specter does better the more Democrats come out and vote and the rain all over the state today is not good for him." Rendell is backing Specter, who became a Democrat last spring with a promise from the White House to help him win reelection. Earlier today, Rendell said Specter would be fine since the campaign was handing out personalized ponchos to voters.
Specter said on MSNBC tonight that he needs his voters to get to the polls before they close at 8 p.m., urging each of his constituencies to turn out. "If I get out my vote, Chris, I win," Specter told Chris Matthews.
Additional reporting by Lucy MadisonPERMALINK | COMMENTS (6) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The two candidates vying for the late John Murtha's set have been battling in a race that's been neck and neck for the last two months. So it's no surprise this race is going to depend on voter turnout -- which is lower today because of the rain -- and where the parties can get their supporters out.
Terry Madonna, the well-known political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College told us that for Critz to win, he will need a big margin in the Democratic strongholds of Cambria County, particularly in the Johnstown area, and in Westmoreland county, particular in the New Kensington area.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
At the center of the latest showdown over financial reform legislation is a proposal to strengthen the Volcker rule, which would limit on risky trading on Wall Street. The amendment, which was scheduled for a vote by bipartisan agreement, is now being objected to by GOP leadership. But Progressive Dems say without a vote on their amendment, they may not allow the bill to proceed.
For his part, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) supports the measure, but is not inclined to put it in his manager's amendment in order to make sure it gets a vote.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (6) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
With tonight's big Democratic Senate primary between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak coming down to the wire, what areas and key indicators should we look out for as the returns start to come in?
In advance of the election tonight, we spoke with Terry Madonna, the well-known political science professor and analyst at Franklin & Marshall College, who said laid out for us the key places each candidate will have to turn out the vote to win. "Well, everyone i've talked to is clearly on pins and needles about the outcome," said Madonna. "You really need to have a sense about turnout by region. And some regions are more important than others. I mean, 38% of the Democratic vote is within five counties in the southeastern part of the state."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The Senate Judiciary Committee has gotten some answers from Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
The Senate panel has released Kagan's answers to its lengthy questionnaire, including simple biographical information, a long list of Kagan's published writing and public statements, a detailed history of her legal career, possible conflicts of interest, and a financial statement (Kagan pins her net worth on Jan. 1 at $1.76 million).PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
In a press conference this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) demurred a bit on Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) chances to win today's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).
"As far as Pennsylvania," said Reid, "we have two good candidates up there."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sarah Palin may be uber-popular among the conservative base, her endorsement highly sought after by mid-level candidates -- but she's not doing so well among her fellow Alaskans.
Not one Alaska resident donated to Palin's "SarahPAC" in the first quarter of 2010, according to FEC reports. In the second half of 2009, only 33 donations -- out of some 2,000 totaling $1.4 million -- came from her home state. In the first half of the year, it was 29.
Palin resigned as governor of Alaska in July 2009, halfway through her first term. The state has factored largely into her personal story, and was something she mentioned frequently while campaigning as Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (29) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
At his weekly press availability this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that several Republicans will break from their party tomorrow morning, likely thwarting a financial reform filibuster.
"A number of senators, Republican senators, have told me they will vote for cloture," Reid said.
If Reid's right, it's all but certain that Democrats and Republicans will avoid a repeat performance of their dramatic floor fight several weeks ago, and the Senate will move swiftly to a vote on final passage. Earlier in the press conference, though, Reid hedged, suggesting it's possible the GOP will vote unanimously not to end debate.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Democrats and the White House are pointing to a lesser noticed special election in southwestern Pennsylvania today, saying that result will have far more import than the results of contentious party primaries statewide there and in Arkansas and Kentucky. Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz are locked in a close battle to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in the 12th Congressional district. If Democrats keep that seat in a battleground district, they think that bodes well for this fall.
Murtha held the seat for more than three decades, weathering multiple challenges. It was the only district that voted narrowly for John Kerry in 2004 (51%-49%) but which Barack Obama lost in 2008 by less than one percentage point. Al Gore handily won the district in 2000.
"If the bottom were really falling out the GOP should be walking away with this race," a Democrat close to the White House told me. Given the district demographics, the tough year for the majority party and the president's diminished approval ratings, Republicans have a great chance at a pickup, the source said. "Even if it's close it's a good sign for us."
As we reported earlier today, Sen. Blanche Lincoln ran into a little trouble at her polling place in Arkansas this morning when she tried to cast her vote in the Democratic primary. Lincoln was forced to cast a provisional ballot after records showed she had already voted by absentee ballot.
After the seeming mega-fail, Lincoln tried to salvage the ballot-casting photo op with a video taken with her family after she and her husband (he had to fill out a provisional ballot, too) had finished up their business at their polling place. The video makes no reference to her voting troubles, and also doesn't include any footage of the couple filling out the paperwork required to cast their provisional votes. She's joined in the video by her two sons.
"Steve and I just voted -- and the boys watched us do it," Lincoln says in the video. No doubt the lads got a good lesson in electoral bureaucracy.
PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) was there. So were Democratic Reps. Charlie Wilson, John Boccieri and Tim Ryan. Not to mention Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams. The Democrats waited on the tarmac, and burst into applause as President Obama descended the stairs of Air Force One on his visit to Ohio today.
So where was Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D)?
John Collins, Fisher's spokesman, tells TPM that it was simply a scheduling conflict, and that any speculation that Fisher wanted to avoid Obama is "silly."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
So what next for Indiana's Third District, where GOP Congressman Mark Souder has announced that he will resign because of a sex scandal?
Dale Simmons, the Republican co-general counsel for the state elections division, tells TPMDC that state law requires at least 60 days from the vacancy itself for a special election to be held. The law does not specifically require that an election be held, but prior case law suggests that an election should be held if there is a "meaningful term" left to be filled. The parties would select their nominees through an internal party process, not through primaries.
It should also be noted that Souder already won his primary two weeks ago, fending off self-funding GOP challenger Bob Thomas by a margin of 48%-34%. So the GOP will also have to use an same internal process to select a new nominee -- similar to how the Dems picked Rep. Brad Ellsworth as their nominee for Senate, replacing Sen. Evan Bayh.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) took his turn on MSNBC moments after Andrea Mitchell interviewed Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) today, and took the opportunity -- again and again -- to try and link Specter with former President George W. Bush.
"I'm a Democrat out of core beliefs and core convictions," Sestak said, adding that Specter voted with Democrats only 23 percent of the time during Bush's presidency.
"I wish he had stood tall against George Bush much more often than 23 percent of the time."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (0) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who's facing a tough Democratic Senate primary race in Pennsylvania today against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), vigorously defended his, er, vigor during an interview this afternoon on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell.
"When you talk about Sestak being more vigorous, you must be smoking dutch cleanser," Specter told Mitchell.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (35) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet increasing his support against his primary challenger, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Meanwhile, the race for the GOP nomination is turning into a dogfight.
The numbers for the Dems: Bennet 46%, Romanoff 31%. The survey of likely Dem primary voters has a ±4.7% margin of error. Back in March, Bennet had a much smaller lead of 40%-34%. The primary will be held on August 10.
Bennet was first appointed to the Senate in January 2009, to take the seat formerly held by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He was previously the superintendent of the Denver public schools, but had never held a prior elected public office. Romanoff got into the race later in the year.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (4) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Blanche Lincoln suffered what might be one of the all-time greatest campaign staff fails this morning. According to her campaign staff, Lincoln was initially turned away when she tried to vote at her home her polling place this morning after elections officials discovered she had already requested an absentee ballot be sent to her Virginia home. Poll workers told Lincoln their records showed she had already voted.
"She just wanted to be prepared," campaign spokesperson Katie Laning Niebaum told me a few minutes ago. "She has requested absentee ballots on many past occasions."
Lincoln didn't fill out the absentee ballot this time, her staff no doubt eager for the classic casting-the-ballot photo op this morning. But, thanks to this mix-up, she's stuck with the less appealing "filling out the provisional ballot so elections officials can determine if her vote is legal or not" shot instead.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (50) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R-NV) is now under fire for a possible campaign finance violation, with one of her Republican primary opponents calling foul over her use of a luxury R.V. given to the campaign by a supporter.
A week and a half ago, Lowden claimed that the RV had been donated: "Why would anyone want to demean the fact that someone donated an RV to me? It's unfortunate that no one donated an RV to them."
The Lowden campaign now says, however, that the the R.V. was officially leased to Lowden by casino owner Carl Giuduci and his wife Elsie Giuduci, who have each made in-kind contributions to Lowden for the vehicle's use that are listed as being under the legal limit of $2,400 per-person. As the Las Vegas Review Journal notes: "According to a redacted lease agreement released by the campaign that did not provide any dollar figures, Lowden must return the vehicle after she is done using it during her bid for public office."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (28) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters earlier today that allegations that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) misrepresented his Vietnam record is "quite a blow" to his Senate candidacy and may help Republicans pick up the seat.
Blumenthal is running to replace retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
"It sounds like quite a blow to his candidacy," Cornyn said. "Obviously he enjoys--has enjoyed--high approval ratings. He's relatively unknown in the political process. I would say, having been an attorney general myself, it is a transition to go from AG to a run for the United States Senate. But I'm anxious to hear what his explanation is because I heard him on YouTube and of course broadcast on television, claiming to have served in Vietnam, and if that proves not to he true, then I think he's got quite an apology to make."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
This is not the political theme you're looking for. Pay no attention to those three tough primaries on the Democratic side, or Richard Blumenthal's problems in Connecticut. The Democratic National Committee is spinning away from some of the big stories of the day, telling reporters the real national trend is what's happening among Kentucky Republicans.
The DNC this afternoon will send out a memo titled "It's On: Who Will Win the McConnell vs. DeMint Leadership Proxy Battle In Kentucky?" The Dems think that Rand Paul's likely win in Kentucky will diminish Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) but also push the Republican party to the furthest-right fringes.
Kentucky Democrats, meanwhile, are slugging it out as well.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Tucked safely out of national view behind the white-hot Senate primaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and, uh, Kentucky is a nasty fight to the finish between the Democrats vying to run for the retiring Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-KY) seat. The race pits two of top state officials -- Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway -- who are running neck-and-neck in the homestretch. That's generally the perfect environment for a campaign to go negative, and this one has been no exception.
In a nutshell, Mongiardo says his past experience as a Senate Democratic nominee (he narrowly lost to Bunning in '04) gives him the best chance to flip the seat while Conway says that Mongiardo's got baggage that would end the Democratic chances to win before they got started.
Conway is the progressive choice. Liberals herald, among other things, his decision to fight state Republicans who wanted him to sue the federal government over health care reform. Mongiardo, they say, is too conservative to earn the support of the left.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (6) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
In an acknowledgment of a tougher-than-expected Republican primary battle, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has shifted two top staffers to less prominent roles to prepare for his August contest against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth. A state Republican official told me that most decisions about the McCain strategy are being made by his loyal aides Mark Salter, Charlie Black and Rick Davis out of Washington.
That's one reason why lesser known state campaign manager Shiree Verdone and part-time deputy campaign manager Mike Hellon on Friday were ushered out of the official Team McCain to a state fundraising organization called "Republican Victory." They came on board in last year to kick off the campaign and handle state operations but the team is being professionalized as the aggressive election push begins.
"We don't really know why, but a year ago Mr. McCain didn't anticipate having a primary opponent with credibility and experience like Mr. Hayworth has. Looks like Mr. McCain is taking the race very seriously," the state Republican official told me in an interview. The Arizona Republican party will remain neutral in the McCain-Hayworth race, but the official thinks it will be a close election.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (16) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said on CNN last night that his former fellow Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, now a Democrat in a tough primary fight in Pennsylvania, "doesn't seem to have a particular orientation for one party or the other -- just his political survival."
"Arlen said he was switching parties because he couldn't win in the Republican primary -- for no other reason," Cornyn said. "And I think he's having a hard time finding a way to appeal to Democrats, because frankly he doesn't seem to have particular orientation for one party or the other -- just his political survival."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (5) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Today: Big Senate Primaries, And A Key House Special Election
Voters are headed to the polls today in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky to pick nominees for Senate. There is also a tight special election in PA-12, for the seat formerly held by the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha. The first polls will close at 6 p.m. ET in eastern Kentucky, followed by a 7 p.m. ET closing in western Kentucky. Poll will close at 8 p.m. ET in Pennsylvania, and at 8:30 p.m. ET in Arkansas.
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama received the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m.ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will depart the White House at 11:20 a.m. ET, and depart form Andrews Air Force Base at 11:50 a.m. ET, arriving at 12:50 p.m. ET in Youngstown, Ohio. He will tour the facilities of V&M Star at 1:20 p.m. Et, and deliver remarks at 1:45 p.m. ET on jobs and the economy. He will depart from Youngstown at 3:20 p.m. ET, arriving at 4:25 p.m. ET at Andrews Air Force Base, and back at the White House at 4:55 p.m. ET. He will meet at 5:15 p.m. ET with Jewish Democratic members of Congress.
Top Democrats are defending Connecticut Attorney General, and Senate hopeful, Richard Blumenthal from charges that he lied about his military service during the Vietnam War. Retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who Blumenthal hopes to succeed, strongly reiterated his support for Blumenthal, telling me the new allegations change nothing.
"Dick Blumenthal and I have known each other for almost 40 years, and I've always known him to be the most honorable of people," Dodd said, just outside his office. "And nothing I read says anything differently about Dick Blumenthal. He's going to be a great United States Senator in my view. He's been a terrific Attorney General. So this is a bump but frankly I think that he's handled it well and as I said, I've known him to be nothing but the most honorable of human beings in public life."
But what if Republicans have the goods on Blumenthal? What if he can't adequately contextualize the story, which has onlookers left and right predicting his demise? Even then, Dodd says, Blumenthal should persevere.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (50) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Democrats and Republicans may once again be poised for a head-to-head collision over Wall Street reform.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid started the clock yesterday, and it is now ticking down toward a key Wednesday test vote, where Democrats will learn whether or not they have assuaged (or intimidated) enough Republicans to break a filibuster.
Leadership wants every Democrat, and at least one Republican on board, but at this late hour it's not clear they have either. Feeling burned by leadership, and dubious that the legislation reaches far enough to truly rein in excess on Wall Street, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has threatened to join the filibuster, unless his amendment that would ban trading in naked credit default swaps gets a vote on the floor. Discussions between Dorgan and other leaders continues, but thus they remain at an impasse.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is going up with primary day ads attacking Sen. Blanch Lincoln (D-AR), which it says will be seen by hundreds of thousands of Arkansas voters by the times the polls close tonight.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
This is the day we've been waiting for. By the end of Tuesday night, we'll know if Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) could still have a job next year, if angry progressives are a threat and if the tea partiers will hand Mitch McConnell a defeat in his home state.
It's 2010's first Super Tuesday -- and the political landscape could look much different when all is said and done.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (17) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Rep. Joe Sestak said he learned an important lesson from the Massachusetts special election that resulted in Sen. Scott Brown taking over a seat held by the Democrats for a generation, and he's sounding pretty confident that voters may reach the same conclusion and nominate him on Tuesday.
"Massachusetts said it best, 'A pox on both your houses.' They voted for change in politics," Sestak told me in an interview tonight on the eve of Pennsylvania's Democratic primary Tuesday. Sestak peppers his political talk with critiques of Sen. Arlen Specter's long record as a Republican using language you'd expect from a retired Navy admiral. "When you run a ship aground you're relieved for cause," Sestak said.
He maintains he's the better general election candidate to keep the seat for the Democrats this fall, saying that since he's running against the party establishment voters will reward him as an independent voice should he win the nomination. The TPM Poll Average of this race has Sestak in the lead with 45.3 percent and Specter with 42.6 percent.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (51) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Today, President Obama and Vice President Biden released their 2009 financial disclosure reports.
Obama reported making more than $1 million last year in royalities from each of his two books -- "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." He also claimed his dog Bo as a gift from Ted and Vicki Kennedy -- worth $1,600.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (2) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The national GOP is already spinning tomorrow's Democratic primaries as a defeat for President Obama -- that even if Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) win against their intra-party challengers, the fact that there have been close races at all show that Obama is in political trouble.
In an e-mail sent out to reporters by National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Jesmer, much light is made of news reports saying that Obama did not want to be seen campaigning for Specter, who could potentially lose tomorrow:
But the fact that the President of the United States and the most popular member of the Democratic Party sees serious political risk in publicly campaigning for a Democratic Senator, in a Democratic primary, and in a key swing state, speaks volumes. At best the White House political operation will narrowly win two Democratic primaries tomorrow, at worst they lost both after being heavily involved at the outset. It should raise serious questions in the minds of Democratic Senate candidates whether the President and the Democrats' Washington agenda will be a benefit or a detriment to their campaigns this November. Recent history and current polling suggests strongly that it will be the latter.
The full memo is after the jump.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (21) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
President Obama hasn't hit the campaign trail for Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in their contentious Democratic primaries tomorrow -- but he has recorded some robocalls to get out the vote for them.
A reader in Pennsylvania sent us an excerpt of a robocall that Obama recorded for Specter, and the authenticity of the call was confirmed to us by the Specter campaign, who told us that it has gone out to 100,000 homes in the state.
In the call, Obama talks about everything Specter has done to advance the Democratic agenda, starting with the stimulus bill last year -- a key point for a former Republican who is having trouble winning the trust of his new party's voters. Obama credits Specter with "...casting the deciding vote for our Recovery Act, and fought hard to provide affordable health insurance for 1.3 million Pennsylvanians. Vice President Joe Biden and I need Arlen Specter in the Senate, fighting alongside us. Please cast your vote on May 18th for the man who has a proven track record of delivering for Pennsylvanians -- your Democratic Senator Arlen Specter."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Is Senate leadership worried about Sen. Byron Dorgan's filibuster threat tanking financial reform? "You bet," Sen. Dick Durbin told me today at a briefing with reporters.
"We need 60 votes. I'm going to make sure we get every Democrat on the bill," Durbin (D-IL) said when I asked him about Dorgan's concerns.
Durbin said he doesn't know if Dorgan (D-ND) has reached an agreement with Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and both of those Senate offices have been tight-lipped today as Senate moves toward final passage of the bill. During the briefing, Durbin and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) discussed an amendment likely to get a vote in the next few days allowing individual state regulation of credit card companies.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (9) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Last week, California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman released an ad that called Republican opponent Steve Poizner that dreaded "L" word -- liberal. Poizner's latest web video tries to tie Whitman to another word: porn.
State Insurance Commissioner Poizner's new web video -- "Adults only" -- opens with eBay's history of selling guns, fake paintings and pornography. And then it takes on Whitman, who used to run the online auction site.
"Whitman cleaned up the site," the video's narrator says. "No more guns. No more fake paintings. But pornography? Whitman started a separate division that only sells porn."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (42) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (1)
The mastermind of the 2008 Obama campaign David Plouffe today is making a last-minute push for Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, asking the most loyal of President Obama's supporters to help the struggling senator prevail in tomorrow's primary election.
"President Obama is committed to seeing Senator Specter re-elected. Whenever he has needed a crucial vote for a top priority, Arlen Specter has been there for our President and this movement," Plouffe wrote in an email that will be sent today by the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America and obtained by TPMDC.
Plouffe was the campaign manager for Obama and has been a special adviser to the president ever since. The White House had him take on a more visible role this winter following the loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (15) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Mainstream Republicans have their work cut out for them if Rand Paul wins in Kentucky tomorrow. If the polls are to be believed, Paul is about to become the GOP nominee to replace the retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, and Republican leaders are already getting on board. As we've seen over the past week or so, establishment Republicans are preparing to embrace Paul as their man in the fall. But what are they in for? Paul is no establishment Republican, and bringing him into the fold could make for some uncomfortable joint campaign appearances between now and November.
Republicans have no choice but to get behind Paul if he wins, and doubtless most prominent Republicans will praise him when he does. But that means they'll have to take uncomfortable questions on Paul's "unorthodox views," as Salon reports them, "including a desire to abolish both the Federal Reserve and the Department of Education."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (43) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
As two of their colleagues battle for their political careers, Senate Democrats tonight are pushing forward on financial reform in hopes of finishing up a bill this month. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to file for cloture tonight, setting up the final stages of the process to begin after a vote on Wednesday.
But Reid is still facing the threat of a filibuster from retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan, who hasn't tipped his hand yet today on whether the Democrats have convinced him to vote for moving ahead with the bill. An aide told me that Dorgan (D-ND) expects to get a vote on his amendment dealing with credit default swaps but would not say if anything has changed since he told leadership he would block the bill from a final vote last week.
Reid (D-NV) said on the Senate floor this afternoon he's aiming for a final vote by the end of the week, perhaps as early as Thursday. "This cannot be delayed any longer," Reid warned Republicans, who are aiming to prolong every floor battle in hopes of gaining traction during this fall's midterm elections.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) says he doesn't care which Democrat wins tomorrow's Senate primary in Pennsylvania.
"I'll be ready for either one," Toomey said on MSNBC today.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (7) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
When a brutal television ad hit the airwaves starring Sen. Arlen Specter and his then-ally President George W. Bush, the incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat did little to defend against it. How could he, when it used footage of his own words from his days as a Republican?
With voter opinions of the longtime politician already formed, the ad helped drive home a reminder for Democrats -- they'd been voting against Specter for decades. That allowed Rep. Joe Sestak in the weeks since putting the Bush ad on the air to surge to the lead before tomorrow's still too-close-to-call Democratic primary race.
Republicans and Democrats say they started to think Specter was toast in early May, when Sestak went up on television with what they described as a "just brutal" campaign ad starring Bush. Specter countered with an ad starring President Obama, who won the state in 2008, but did not mount an aggressive defense against his own party-switching.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (71) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
All eyes are on the big Senate primaries tomorrow in Arkansas, Kentucky And Pennsylvania -- but there are some other races going on, too, which could have important repercussions for the fall.
One of the top races to watch will be the special election for the Johnstown-area district formerly held by the late Rep. John Murtha, who passed away in February. The TPM Poll Average gives Republican businessman Tim Burns an edge of 43.0%-42.4% over Democratic candidate and former Murtha aide Mark Critz. A key X-factor in the race is that Democratic turnout could be disproportionately high in this swing district, because the election is being held at the same time as the regular statewide primaries. There are far more contested Democratic primaries than Republican ones -- most notably the Senate race between incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak -- and this could disproportionately drive Dem voters to the polls.
Murtha was first elected in a 1974 special election, picking it up from the Republicans in the middle of the Watergate scandals, and held the seat for 36 years until his death in February 2010. The district voted for John McCain in 2008 by a margin of less than one point -- the only district in the country to switch from John Kerry in 2004 to McCain in 2008, having voted for Kerry 51%-48% in 2004. CQ, Stuart Rothenberg, Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato all rate this race as a toss-up.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new Rasmussen poll of Florida shows Republican candidate Marco Rubio taking a lead in this wild and wacky three-way Senate race.
The numbers: Rubio 39%, ex-Republican and now independent Gov. Charlie Crist 31%, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek 18%. The poll of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. Two weeks ago, shortly after Crist jumped ship from the Republican primary and went independent, he had taken a lead of 38%-34% over Rubio, with Meek at 17%. The TPM Poll Average has Rubio at 36.6%, Crist 35.1%, and Meek 16.9%.
From the pollster's analysis: "Crist, whose numbers had been in freefall in his primary match-up with Rubio, has been actively courting Democrats. But Meek now edges Crist among Democratic voters after trailing him two weeks ago."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (8) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), a strong supporter of Arlen Specter in the heated Pennsylvania Senate race, said today that there are no guarantees that Specter will win the Democratic primary against Rep. Joe Sestak tomorrow.
The TPM Poll Average shows Sestak leading Specter 45.3% to 43.4%. Sestak's been making gains in recent weeks, while Specter's poll numbers have remained relatively steady.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) leads Democratic challenger Bill White 51-38 in the Texas gubernatorial race, according to a new Rasmussen poll. A month ago, Rasmussen showed Perry leading White by just four points, 48-44.
The TPM Poll Average in the Texas gubernatorial race shows Perry leading White 50.4% to 39.5%.
Perry beat Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and tea party activist Debra Medina in his state's Republican gubernatorial primary, and now faces Houston Mayor White in the general election.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (15) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
The new survey of the PA-12 special election by Public Policy Polling (D) shows a dead heat in tomorrow's election for the House seat formerly held by the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, with Republican businessman Tim Burns having a bare one-point edge over Democratic candidate and former Murtha aide Mark Critz.
The numbers: Burns 48%, Critz 47%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.4% margin of error. In the last PPP survey from a month ago, Burns had a lead of 44%-41%. The TPM Poll Average gives Burns a lead of 43.0%-42.4%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (1) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Senate Dems To Battle Over Strength Of Wall Street Reform Bill
The Hill reports: "Democratic senators will battle among themselves this week over whether to strengthen a Wall Street reform bill that has already met stiff resistance from Republicans and industry lobbyists. Liberal Democrats will make a last-ditch effort to push the bill leftward by strengthening regulation of derivatives and banks that speculate with their own money instead of on behalf of clients."
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. At 11:35 a.m. ET, he will sign the Freedom of Press Act. At 1:05 p.m. ET, he will welcome the NCAA champion University of Connecticut women's basketball team to the White House.
With just one day to go until the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, Rand Paul still holds a big lead, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released this morning.
Paul leads Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson 52-34 in the PPP survey.
The TPM Poll Average for Tuesday's race shows Paul leading Grayson 42.3% to 25.3%.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (3) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Tomorrow's Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania still looks too close to call.
A Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) leading Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) 42-41. Sixteen percent of likely primary voters are still undecided -- and 25% of those who do back a candidate might still change their minds, the poll found.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (9) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Sen. Arlen Specter is stepping up his attacks on Rep. Joe Sestak in the final days of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, targeting Sestak over gun control. As Greg Sargent reports, Specter is highlighting his vote against the assault weapons ban in the 90s and calling Sestak out for his "F" rating from the NRA.
The ads are running on the websites of local papers in rural Pennsylvania, away from the eyes of the key Democratic voters in the cities that might not find the ads a persuasive message for Specter.
"One wonders how this ad would play among urban Dems in Philadelphia," Sargent writes. "If they ever were to hear about it."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (58) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Kyl: I Don't Think Kagan Represents 'Extreme Circumstances' For Filibuster
Appearing on Face The Nation, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that Elena Kagan's nomination for the Supreme Court would not be filibustered. "I don't think so," he said. "The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances, and I don't think Elena Kagan represents that."
Feinstein Dismisses 'Gingrich Hyperbole'
Appearing on Face The Nation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) rebutted former Speaker Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) call for the Senate to oppose Elena Kagan's nomination on the grounds that she is "disqualified from the very beginning" due to her policies on military recruiters at Harvard. Feinstein called it "nonsense. I think it's Gingrich hyperbole. I hope no one would fall for that."
For almost a year, Mitch McConnell's protege Trey Grayson has been the standard bearer of the state GOP establishment in the Kentucky senate primary. But today on Meet The Press, his benefactor seemed to suggest that that the outcome of Grayson's battle with Tea Party favorite Rand Paul might not matter much one way or another.
"We don't have incumbency on the line in Kentucky," he said. "We have two non-incumbents running for an open seat."
That's probably not the view of many of Paul's supporters. They appear poised turn the race in McConnell's home state into the second anti-establishment victory over the GOP mainstream since Sen. Bob Bennett was deposed at the Utah Republican convention May 8.PERMALINK | COMMENTS (41) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is emerging as one of the loudest voices of opposition to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, claiming her decision to protest the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy while Dean of the Harvard Law School disqualifies her fro the high court.
"I think the president should withdraw it," he told Fox News Sunday this morning, when asked about Kagan's nomination.
At an NRA convention in Charlotte, NC earlier in the weekend, Gingrich spelled out his opposition to Kagan, and called on the Senate not to confirm her.
"I say to the Senate, you do not need hearings," he told the NRA crowd. "You know why she's not worthy of being a Supreme Court justice."
Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter appeared on CNN's State Of The Union this morning, just two days before voters head to the polls in the hotly contested Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Primary. In back-to-back interviews, the pair repeated the jabs and barbs they've been trading for weeks. But there was some evidence of what each man sees as his vulnerabilities heading into Tuesday -- Sestak continued to be defensive about his military records, while Specter was eager to talk up his Democratic party bona fides.
"On the big issues, I voted more with the Democrats than with the Republicans," Specter told CNN's Candy Crowley when she asked him answer accusations that his party switch was a cynical act of political expediency. Specter, stinging from Sestak's attacks over his vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when she was nominated as the Obama Administration's Solicitor General, tried to highlight the times he stood with the left on the Supreme Court nomination process.
"Take the Bork confirmation hearings," Specter said, attempting to show his connection with Democrats. "It would be a different Supreme Court had Bork been confirmed and I led the fight to defeat him."PERMALINK | COMMENTS (30) | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (0)