POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/25

From 40 to 9 to 1

On the Supreme Court pick, CBS News reports President Obama “started the selection process by examining the records and writings of 40 prospective nominees but made direct contact with only nine of them.”



Weiner Will Not Run for NYC Mayor

“Confirming suspicions that have circulated since he informed supporters in April that he would be suspending his campaign, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is ending his mayoral aspirations for 2009,” City Hall reports.

Weiner’s exit leaves just Comptroller Bill Thompson and Council Member Tony Avella competing for the Democratic nomination to face New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this fall.



Quote of the Day

“Elections have consequences.”

— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted by ABC News, reacting to President Obama’s pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee.


Is Dodd Doing Any Better?

It’s been nearly two months since the last poll from Connecticut which showed Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) in deep trouble as he runs for re-election. 

However, this poll was conducted at the height of the AIG bonus controversy. A new Quinnipiac poll is out tomorrow with some fresh polling data.

Check back in the morning for details.




No Improvement for Paterson

According to a new Siena Research poll, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) is viewed favorably by just 27% of voters and just 15% of voters are prepared to elect him as Governor in 2010.

Meanwhile, if a Democratic primary were held today, Andrew Cuomo (D) would crush Paterson (D) by a 70% to 19% margin, with even African American voters supporting Cuomo by better than two-to-one.




Democrats Work to Clear Field for Specter

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review says that word out of Washington, D.C. is that the DSCC and “the political wiseguys from the Obama administration” plan on “visiting with” Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). 

Their objective: Get him “off the stage and out of a primary race” against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA).

Sestek says he’s “received a call” from DSCC chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) “but we keep missing each other.”




Burris-Blago Tapes to be Released

A federal judge today authorized the release of audio tapes of secret wiretaps of conversations between Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother to a Senate ethics committee, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

“The recording at issue took place last November and involves discussions between Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund chair Robert Blagojevich and Burris regarding fund-raising for the ex-governor.”




Not Exactly Bipartisan

Though the White House makes a big deal of the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was originally appointed as a district court judge by a Republican president — President George H.W. Bush — the Weekly Standard notes Sotomayor was actually nominated as part of a political compromise in which Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-NY) was allowed to recommend judges for two of seven vacancies that had existed for a long period of time.




Obama’s Pick From the Start

According to Marc Ambinder, Judge Sonia Sotomayor was President Obama’s first choice for the Supreme Court as far back as just after the presidential election.

In recent weeks, the president told White House officials “that he could be talked out of picking Sotomayor if they convinced him that she wasn’t the right person for this moment in time.”

“It turns out, though, that Obama’s advisers loved the idea of picking Sotoamyor just as much as Obama did. The pick, they believed, would tell a story about justice in the 21st century. Her hard-scrabble upbringing, combined with her tough-as-nails realism, combined with her respect for the rule of law, combined with her academic achievements, combined with her — yes — identity as an Hispanic female — provides a walking, talking counterpoint to the clubby formalism of the modern Supreme Court.”



Burr Seems Vulnerable But Leads All Potential Rivals

Public Policy Polling found Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) leading all seven potential challengers he could face in a re-election campaign.

  • He has an 11 point lead over Elizabeth Edwards (46% to 35%) and Dan Blue (44% to 33%)
  • He has a 13 point edge over Richard Moore (47% to 34%)
  • He has a 16 point lead on Bob Etheridge (47% to 31%) and Heath Shuler (44% to 28%)
  • He has a 19 point advantage over Walter Dalton (48% to 29%)

However, each of the potential candidates hold Burr under the 50% mark generally considered safe for an incumbent.




An Easy Confirmation?

Looking at the politics, Mark Halperin thinks Senate Republicans will fall in line and ultimately allow Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be confirmed to fill the pending vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“By both design and luck, Obama faces a Supreme Court-pick process that has been drained of the tension and combat that has characterized such moments in the past several decades… Most Republicans will squelch their first instinct to go to the mattresses and instead follow the President’s pathway: avoid a fight.”

Of the current Republican senators who voted on her nomination to the appellate court in 1998, eleven voted against while seven voted in favor.

Interestingly, on the always controversial issue of abortion, David Brody notes that in 2002, Sotomayor wrote an opinion against a pro-choice group.




Huckabee Swings and Misses

Ben Smith notes Mike Huckabee came out firing at Judge Sonia Sotomayer’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court — but called her Maria in his statement.




Sotomayor Talking Points

As we wait for the official announcement, nothing better explains President Obama’s rationale for picking Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court than the White House talking points circulated to key members of the administration and communications staff.

Read more…

 



GOP Senators Who Voted Against Sotomayor in 1998

According to the roll call, eleven current Republican senators voted against Judge Sonia Sotomayer’s appointment to be a U.S. Circuit Court judge in 1998 while seven voted in favor.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the new ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was one of those who voted against her.



California Court to Rule on Same Sex Marriage

In addition to the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice today, the other big legal political story is in California where the state Supreme Court will weigh in on the constitutionality of law which banned same sex marriage in the state.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes today’s ruling “decides whether voters had the right, when 52 percent of them approved Proposition 8 in November, to amend the state Constitution to solidify the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. If the justices uphold Prop. 8, they will also decide whether to dissolve the marriages of 18,000 same-sex couples who wed before the Nov. 4 election.”

The Los Angeles Times says “most legal experts expect the court to uphold Proposition 8 but continue to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples wed before the November election.”

Update: The California Supreme Court upheld the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, but ruled that existing gay marriages will remain legal in the state. 



Can Sotomayor Be Confirmed?

While many Senate Democrats worry Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be tougher to confirm than some of the other contenders, it’s clear Obama thinks it’s a great political pick. 

First Read: “Consider these points: One, it’s clear Sotomayor — whom the president knew the least about when this process began — blew Obama away when he interviewed her on Thursday. In fact, White House officials believe that once Senate Democrats get to know her, they’ll be as blown away as the president was, and she’ll be confirmed easily.”

“Two, would Republicans dare vote against the first Hispanic, especially after their rhetoric during the immigration debate of 2006-2007 clearly hurt them with this important voting bloc?”

“And three, don’t ignore the politics surrounding this pick. As we’ve mentioned before, Latino groups have been grumbling somewhat about their representation (or lack thereof) in the Obama administration, as well as the fact that immigration reform doesn’t appear to be on the White House’s front-burner. But this pick buys Obama A LOT of time with Hispanics — a demographic he won last year, 67%-31% — on immigration and other issues. Is it a coincidence that Obama this week heads out West to Nevada and California, two states with large Latino populations?”

Meanwhile, SCOTUS Blog looks at the four likely lines of attack on Sotomayor’s nomination but finds “her easy confirmation seems assured.”




Behind Obama’s Announcement

The New York Times reports President Obama reached his decision to pick Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court over the long Memorial Day weekend, “but it was not disclosed until Tuesday morning when he informed his advisers of his choice less than three hours before the announcement was scheduled to take place.”

“Mr. Obama telephoned Judge Sotomayor at 9 p.m. on Monday, officials said, advising her that she was his choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Later Monday night, Mr. Obama called the three other finalists — Judge Diane P. Wood of Chicago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General Elena Kagan — to inform them that he had selected Judge Sotomayor.”

“White House officials worked into the night to prepare for the announcement, without knowing who it would be.”

NBC News notes Sotomayor was at White House for seven hours last Thursday and went undiscovered.

Update: Here are the White House prepared talking points on Sotomayor’s nomination.




YouTube Justice

Judge Sonia Sotomayor could be the first U.S. Supreme Court nominee for which YouTube plays a big role in her confirmation hearings. 

Expect the clip below to be viewed a million times today.

Read more…




Justice Sotomayor?

The AP reports President Obama will pick Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

NPR has confirmed the pick is Sotomayor.

Read more…




Justice Rollout Like an Election Campaign

As President Obama prepares to nominate his first Supreme Court justice, the White House is doubtless considering not only whom to select but how best to introduce the nominee to the public, CQ Politics reports.

The process of selling a high court pick — to the nation as well as the Senate — has become as elaborate as an election campaign, complete with photogenic stagecraft, polling and occasionally attack advertising. And the battle to control the message begins the minute the president announces his choice.”




SCOTUS Announcement Coming Today

The White House will announce President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court at 10:15 am.

The Intrade political futures markets predict Obama will pick Elena Kagan, followed by Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Granholm.

Update: As soon as word leaked that it was Sotomayor, the futures swung wildly in her direction. Obviously, the predictive power of these markets is relatively poor for a Supreme Court pick.




Reid Hopes Cash Will Head Off Challenge

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in an interview with the New York Times, “said he would raise $25 million for his campaign, a record-breaking figure for a Senate candidate in Nevada. Aides said that sum, which Republicans did not dispute, was intended to give pause to any Republican thinking of taking him on.”

Said Reid: “I’m telling you about what I’m planning to do. I don’t know what effect it will have on anybody, but that’s what I’m planning to do.”

A poll last week showed Reid on very shaky ground and vulnerable to a challenge.

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