POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/15

Murphy’s Lead Grows in NY-20

Scott Murphy (D) has expanded his lead to 168 votes over Jim Tedisco (R) in the NY-20 special election, according to a new tally, which reflects military and overseas ballots and a few updates from various counties.

Still not reporting: Tedisco’s stronghold in Saratoga County and Murphy’s stronghold in Washington County. 

Nate Silver says the results tallied so far suggest that Tedisco “is bound for defeat” because Murphy is outperforming expectations on the absentee ballots.

Minnesota Voters Want Election Settled Now

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Minnesota finds that 63% of voters think that Norm Coleman (R) should concede the U.S. Senate election now.

In addition, 59% think Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) should certify Al Franken (D) as the winner of the election immediately and not wait for Coleman’s appeals.

Most Feel Country Moving in Right Direction

A new Marist Poll finds that for the first time this year, more Americans — 49% — see the country moving in the right direction compared with 40% who think things are heading the wrong way.  This includes a majority of registered voters — 52% — who feel the country’s course is back on track. 

Castle Gets Strong Challenger

Just days after Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) reported raising a paltry $74,000 last quarter — a weak showing for a candidate rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Senate — he now has a challenger for his U.S. House seat, according to The Hotline.

Former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D) entered what would be a very competitive race — especially considering that the district voted for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.

The odds probably just increased that Castle could retire instead of making either race.

Poll Shows Burr Remains Vulnerable

The new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina that we previewed last night is out and shows Roy Cooper (D) leading Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), 41% to 37%.

Burr’s approval rating is a dismal 35%. As a comparison, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) was at “a much better, although still mediocre,” 43% at this point in the cycle two years ago. She was defeated last November.

Analysis: “There’s no doubt who the Democrats’ strongest potential contender for this seat is and there’s no doubt that if Cooper entered the race it would become a tossup at the least, if not even a slight Democratic advantage. Burr’s name would go up there with Chris Dodd and Jim Bunning’s as the most vulnerable incumbents in the country.”

Time Running Out for Coleman

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) told the New York Times that he thought it could take two months for the Minnesota Supreme Court to hand down a decision on Norm Coleman’s (R) appeal of the decision that Al Franken (D) won Minnesota’s U.S. Senate seat.

And while national Republicans have urged Coleman to take his case all the way to the U.S. Surpreme Court, Pawlenty “made clear in the interview that he would not necessarily delay certification if Republicans go to federal court.”

Meanwhile, The Hill notes even Republican strategists are beginning to admit that Coleman’s options to regain his seat are looking limited following his latest legal defeat.

Taxes Not a Big Issue on Tax Day

A new Gallup Poll finds 48% of Americans saying the amount of federal income taxes they pay is “about right,” with 46% saying “too high” — one of the most positive assessments Gallup has measured since 1956. Typically, a majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, and relatively few say their taxes are too low.

First Read: “In the last few years, the GOP has seen its advantage on the issue of taxes deteriorate, and it’s something that has thrown the party for a loop — as without taxes as a rallying cry, the GOP has found itself with fewer issues to brag to the public about.”

Crist Could Face Primary Battle if He Runs

In an about-face, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) said that even if Gov. Charlie Crist (R) enters the U.S. Senate race it “would not deter him from running,” according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Rubio noted that in just 25 days he raised $250,000 for an exploratory campaign and will make a final decision about entering the race within weeks.

Said Rubio: “My decision, which I’ll announce shortly, will not be predicated on what anybody else does.”

Did Palin Blow Her Chance?

“Worse than Dan Quayle before her, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s bright star has fast faded in the eyes of Washington Republican officials and analysts, calling into question her efforts to become a national party figure ready to run for the White House,” Washington Whispers reports.

“Since running for vice president with McCain, Palin has made efforts to be a national figure, starting a political action committee and speaking at national events in Washington. But she has also blown other chances, backed out of speech commitments, and allowed herself to be caught in a fight between state and national aides who have different roles for her in mind. While some Republican officials say that there is time for her to recover, many are already looking to others to carry the GOP flag, such as Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, in the 2010 and 2012 elections.”

Cooper Leads Burr in North Carolina

An advance look at a Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina shows Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) with a dismal 35% approval rating and trailing Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) in a potential match up.

Kinky Friedman Wants to Run Again

Kinky Friedman, the iconoclastic musician who won 12% of the vote as an independent candidate for the Texas governorship in 2006, is laying the groundwork to run again — but this time as a Democratic candidate, CQ Politics reports.

Tedisco Challenges Gillibrand’s Ballot

The Albany Times-Union reports Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) absentee ballot in the NY-20 special election was challenged by Jim Tedisco (R). Gillibrand, of course, represented the district before being tapped to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

Politicker NY has more on how the Tedisco campaign is being very aggressive in challenging absentee ballots — all but ensuring the election dispute will take weeks to resolve.

The unofficial tally moves back and forth, but tonight it gives Murphy a 47 vote lead. However, there are still no numbers from Tedisco’s stronghold in Saratoga County and Murphy’s stronghold in Washington County.

CQ Politics reports that five of the district’s 10 counties still had not completed their counts as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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