POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/1

Paterson Insists He’s Staying

In a Q&A with the New York Observer, New York Gov. David Patertson (D) was asked if the resignation question is off the table.

Paterson said “it is off the table, and he doesn’t know why it was even on the table.”

After a moment of silence, Paterson said, “And clearly neither do you.”

Meanwhile, a Saturday Night Live skit took aim at the New York Governor once again with him saying, “Finding something wrong with my administration is like finding a needle in a needle store.”

Read more…

Biden Rules

For Republicans hoping that the Senate parliamentarian might derail Democratic plans to use budget reconciliation to pass health care reform, former Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove told MSNBC that Vice President Joe Biden, who also functions as the president of the Senate, can override the parliamentarian when it comes to what qualifies under reconciliation.

Said Dove: “The parliamentarian only can advise. It is the vice president who rules.”

Not since Hubert Humphrey, Dove noted, has there been a vice president played such a powerful role.

The Facts About Reconciliation

Ezra Klein notes that Republicans are arguing that the budget reconciliation process “has never been used for major legislation, and so any attempts to use the process to modify the health-care reform bill would be a sharp break with precedent. That’s wrong on two counts.”

“First, reconciliation has been used for major legislation almost constantly, particularly on health-care reform…

“Second, Democrats are not proposing to create the health-care reform bill in reconciliation. Rather, they’re using the process for a much more limited purpose: passing the 11 pages of modifications that President Obama proposed to reconcile the House and Senate bills with each other. This is not a particularly ambitious use of the reconciliation process, and it’s certainly not unprecedented. Republicans are arguing otherwise, of course, but the record belies their rhetoric.”

Brown Isn’t Easy to Figure Out

The Oakland Tribune runs a nice profile of Jerry Brown (D), who after “fending off the urge to declare his all-but assured candidacy” for California governor “throughout the fall and most of the winter… is expected to make it official soon.”

“With travels to Japan to study Zen for six months at a Buddhist monastery, India to tend to the poor with Mother Teresa, and Oakland to revive a city — and even once joining the Black Hole crew at a Raiders game — Brown can claim to have one of the most fascinating biographies in the annals of American politics.”

“Knowing the man behind the name as he is now, however, is a complicated endeavor. A man of constant reanimation, Brown is not easily pinned down by ideology, or even by political preference, having once left and then returned to the Democratic Party. He scorns consistency as if it stifles creativity. He switches gears and rides with the tide to the point of befuddlement.”

The San Jose Mercury News has an excellent guide to the California governor’s race.

Moore Says Wife Could Run for His Seat

Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS), who is retiring from Congress, hinted over the weekend that his wife, Stephene, was a potential Democratic candidate, the Kansas City Starreports.

He told fellow Democrats at a luncheon to “stay tuned.”

Moore has won six straight elections in a highly Republican district.

Reid Catches a Break on Health Care

Today’s resignation of Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) essentially gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an extra vote to help her push health care reform bill through the House.

Now, with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) facing a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is virtually guaranteed to have her vote — assuming she still wants to be a senator — as he tries to push the health care bill through the reconciliation process in the Senate.

It’s not a bad start to the week for Democrats.

Are You Better Off?

A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asked Americans if they thought they were better off today than they were six months ago.

The results: 59% said they were about the same, 30% were worse off and 10% were better off.

Reed May Run for Congress

Despite the buzz, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz tells Jim Galloway that he’s not interested in running for retiring Rep. John Linder’s (R-GA) House seat.

But there’s one particularly interesting new name in the mix this morning who could make the race: Ralph Reed, the former head of the national Christian Coalition and former chairman of the Georgia Republican party.

Lincoln Gets Primary Challenge

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) will file papers this week to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in a Democratic U.S. Senate primary this fall, reports WREG-TV.

“Halter’s spokesman provided a statement Monday in which the one-term lieutenant governor said he would file papers for the U.S. Senate this week. Halter is the only Democrat to formally announce a challenge to Lincoln as she seeks a third term.”

New York Times: “The primary challenge from Mr. Halter, who worked as an official in the Clinton administration, could increase the pressure on Ms. Lincoln to step aside. Her office had no immediate comment on Mr. Halter’s decision to enter the race.”

Thompson Gets Serious About Feingold Challenge

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) “is securing financial pledges and ramping up his outreach to longtime political aides in preparation” for a possible challenge to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Politico reports.

“Thompson has alerted his Washington-based law firm of his moves and is contacting key clients about the prospect of challenging Feingold, the most tangible signals yet that he’s seriously exploring a 2010 campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t like him. He is not a very pleasant person. He is nasty, mean; the skin of an onion would look deep compared to his. He has a short fuse, he is almost peculiarly unstable.”

– Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R), in an interview with a Dutch newspaper, about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

As Ben Smith notes, Tancredo is also quite negative on Sarah Palin.

Pelosi Catches Break on Health Care

If Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) does in fact step down from his House seat today to focus on his run for Georgia governor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) will find it offsets one of the Democratic votes she’s already lost on the health care reform bill.

Though the bill received 220 votes in November, Democrats have lost four supporters of the bill since then: Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) says he no longer supports it, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) passed away and Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-FL) resigned to focus on other opportunities.

Deal opposed the health care bill. His potential resignation gives Pelosi a little breathing room.

Deal Will Resign House Seat

Sources tell Peach Pundit that Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) will resign his seat in Congress to focus on his campaign for Governor.

Deal has called two press conferences this morning to announce the news.

The back story: “The House Ethics Committee came down hard on Charlie Rangel last week. The next case up was to look at Deal’s use of his Congressional staff to protect a no-bid State contract here in Georgia. The House ethics committee was due to release their findings in this case any day. Deal’s resignation probably makes this go away.”

A special election would be needed to replace Deal.

Update: The Atlanta Journal Constitution confirms the report and notes there are already six Republicans vying for Deal’s seat.

Obama Rating Remains Low in Nevada

President Obama’s approval rating remains low in Nevada — just 39% have a favorable view of him — despite a recent high-profile visit to campaign for Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.

Obama’s recent remarks “singling out Las Vegas as a place where you shouldn’t blow your money, and the ensuing furor, probably hurt him in the state.”

Said pollster Brad Coker: “We’re seeing it around the country. He’s losing voters on health care and the fact that the economy isn’t getting any better, and there’s a couple of extra points for him trashing Nevada.”

Kennedy Not Interested in Delahunt’s Seat

Joseph P. Kennedy III told the Boston Globe that he will not run for Congress this year, “ending feverish speculation” that the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy would seek the House seat of Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) if he retires.

Said Kennedy: “I think that we’ve got a great congressman. He continues to serve the people of the 10th District well. I’m a longtime supporter of his, and I hope he runs again.”

Close Race for Senate in Indiana

A new DailyKos/Research 2000 poll in Indiana finds Dan Coats (R) barely edging Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 37% to 36%.

The poll also shows John Hostettler (R) leading Ellsworth by a larger margin, 40% to 34%.

With Rep. Baron Hill (D) taking himself out of the race over the weekend, Ellsworth is almost certainly the Democratic candidate.

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