POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/12

Campbell Will Switch Races

Last month we noted former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA) was weighing a switch from the California governor’s race to the U.S. Senate race and The Hill now reports he “appears primed” to make the move later this week.

“Campbell apparently thinks he can make more of a dent in the Senate primary, where Carly Fiorina’s personal funds aren’t on the same level as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. They have each spent about $19 million of their own money; Fiorina has spent $2.5 million.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I wouldn’t know.”

— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview on the Today Show, when asked about former aides claiming to the authors of Game Change that Sarah Palin was not adequately vetted.

Hickenlooper Will Run for Governor

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) is telling top Democrats he intends to run for Colorado governor, sources tell the Denver Post.

Hickenlooper has been meeting with political advisers since Gov. Bill Ritter (D) last week unexpectedly announced he was dropping his re-election bid.

Americans Split on Obama’s First Year

After almost a year in office, Americans give President Obama a split decision: A newCNN/Opinion Research poll finds 48% say his presidency has been a failure so far, with 47% calling it a success.

Mrs. Robinson

Northern Ireland’s embattled leader Peter Robinson stepped down temporarily, “vowing to clear his name over financial allegations linked to his wife’s affair with a teenager,” AFP reports.

Iris Robinson, who is also a top politician in the country and is “expected to quit her seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Britain’s House of Commons imminently, is receiving what he described as ‘acute psychiatric treatment’ in Belfast.”

Belfast Telegraph: “It’s a tale of two Irises. There is Iris Robinson, dutiful wife and committed Christian, quoting scripture and denouncing the sexual immorality of others. And then there is Iris, the woman who walks on the wild side, takes a teenage lover, and craves the forbidden fruit.”

If nothing else, the entire affair should help Simon & Garfunkel’s royalties.

Patrick’s Lead Shaky in Massachusetts

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Massachusetts finds Gov. Deval Patrick (D) barely leading his re-election bid with 29% support, followed by Charlie Baker (R) at 27% and Timothy Cahill (I) at 21%.

Patrick’s approval rating sits at just 22%, with 59% of voters in the state disapproving of the job he’s doing.

Key finding: “Among the undecideds in that three way scenario Patrick’s approval rating is just 7%, with 72% of those voters disapproving of his job performance. Those folks may end up with Baker or they may end up with Cahill but either way 30-35% is looking like a peak for Patrick right now and that makes his chances at reelection pretty tenuous.”

Divorce Rate Higher in States that Ban Gay Marriage

Nate Silver: “Over the past decade or so, divorce has gradually become more uncommon in the United States. Since 2003, however, the decline in divorce rates has been largely confined to states which have not passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. These states saw their divorce rates decrease by an average of 8 percent between 2003 and 2008. States which had passed a same-sex marriage ban as of January 1, 2008, however, saw their divorce rates rise by about 1 percent over the same period.”

Coakley Releases Tough New Ad

To the “long list of oddities” in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election race, the Boston Globe reports this: “The first negative ad of the general election campaign has just gone up, and it’s from the front-runner’s campaign.”

“The decision to air such an ad suggests that Coakley and her fellow Democrats are nervous enough about Brown creeping closer that they felt the need to try to damage him in the eyes of voters.”

Meanwhile, Hotline OnCall reports the DSCC just launched an ad buy.

With the DNC also sending staffers to Massachusetts, it’s now clear they see this special election as potentially much closer than either the Boston Globe or their owninternal poll reportedly shows.

Read more…

Quote of the Day

“If you haven’t run an election — I was appointed, I wasn’t elected — you didn’t have the benefit of a statewide media campaign. It just takes time.”

— Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), quoted by the New York Daily News, explaining why 40% of voters still do not have an opinion about her.

More Think Health Care Bill Isn’t Ambitious Enough

The latest CBS News poll suggests President Obama’s approval rate on handling the health care reform effort has fallen to 36%, but Greg Sargent notes that when it comes to the big three issues — covering Americans, controlling costs, and regulating insurance companies — more people think the bill doesn’t go far enough than think it goes too far.

Democrats Ready to Finish Health Care

Noting that reaching agreement on a health-care bill “is harder in theory than it will be in practice,” EJ Dionne sketches out the likely outcome of the House-Senate negotiations.

“Compromise happens when negotiators are desperate for an agreement, and what’s not in doubt is that Democrats in both houses want to pass a bill by early next month. They know that the sooner a contorted and seemingly endless legislative process comes to a close, the quicker they will be able to sell the contents of their reform to a skeptical public and move to the economic issues that will dominate this election year. They’ll succeed because the only alternative is catastrophe.”

The Return of the Campaign Book

The AP notes that elections “are now so compulsively covered that reporters’ books about them tend to sell poorly, especially compared to such classics as Theodore White’s The Making of the President, 1960.”

But Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann may have changed that as it quickly rose to the top of the bestseller lists even before it was officially released.

How Will Palin Respond?

Mark Halperin and John Heileman: “The picture presented in Game Change of Palin’s emergence as national phenomenon — and the real Palin behind her public persona — is often startling and sometimes shocking. The scantness of the vetting she received before being placed on the Republican ticket. Her substantive deficiencies, even more dramatic than those that had previously been reported: her lack of understanding about why there are two Koreas, her ignorance about the function of the Federal Reserve, her belief that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11…”

“That other McCain aides have kept quiet for so long about the real Palin owes to two factors. The first is loyalty to McCain… But the second reason is equally significant: the fear of the Palin forces. Intimidated by the rabidness of her supporters, believing that they can’t be swayed by facts and worried about getting crosswise with the most highly energized part of the Republican base, McCainworld has shied away from fighting for the soul of the party, instead allowing her version of reality to go largely unchallenged — and her rise to continue unchecked… The question, however, is what will happen now that the omertà has been broken.”

Tea Party Convention Closed to Media

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the First National Tea Party Convention next month “will be closed to the press, other than for a limited number of “selected” journalists. No word on who or how many.”

“The restrictions apparently apply to the much-anticipated speeches by Sarah Palin and Minnesota’s own Michele Bachmann.”

Five Reasons Republicans Could Still Blow It

Ramesh Ponnuru: “Republicans shouldn’t get carried away. There are 10 months to go before the midterm elections, and the political climate can change a lot in that time. Just ask President Obama: according to Gallup, the proportion of Americans who disapprove of his performance jumped from 26% to 42% over the past 10 months.”

  • The economy could revive
  • The Republican Party is still unpopular
  • Republicans are disorganized
  • Republicans have no agenda
  • The tea parties are not enough

The bottom line: “The better Republicans’ prospects become, the more Americans are going to ask whether the party is ready to lead. Chairman Steele recently saidthat he wasn’t sure it was. It was another gaffe; it was also true.”

Ford Can’t Go Home

A.C. Kleinheider in the Nashville Post: “Whether or not Harold Ford Jr. pulls the trigger on a Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Senator Kristen Gillibrand, one thing is certain: Harold Ford Jr. can’t go home again.”

“While carpetbagging can work in New York, a failed carpetbagger returning home with a tail between his legs wouldn’t go over well. By changing his voter registration, declaring himself pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, Ford Jr. has effectively disqualified himself from Tennessee politics.”

Ford Gearing Up for Senate Bid

Harold Ford Jr. writing in the New York Post: “It’s true: I am strongly considering running for the United States Senate.”

Father and Son Ticket

As if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “didn’t have enough problems, say hello to Rory Reid, his eldest son. Looks just like him. He’s running for governor of Nevada,” the Washington Post reports.

“It will be Reid and Reid atop the November ballot in this state, the father running for his sixth term, the son making his first bid at statewide office. So far, this double bill is not going so great. Each candidate is dragging down the other, to look at the polls and listen to the Silver State’s political oddsmakers. And neither is mentioning the other’s campaign.”

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