POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/13

Another Bad Poll Coming for Reid

Public Policy Polling previews a Nevada Senate race poll out tomorrow and concludes Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) standing for reelection “was perilous a week ago and now it looks even worse. Even an error free 2010 might not be enough for him to keep his seat, and any further mistakes will reduce his chances of winning to about nil.”

This is essentially the same conclusion drawn from the Rasmussen poll mentioned earlier today.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned that Daily Kos/Research 2000 will poll some alternate Democratic names for the race next week.

Sanford Censured

Seven months later, the South Carolina House passed a resolution expressing its disapproval of Gov. Mark Sanford’s actions surrounding his secret trip to Argentina, reports The State.

“In a quick and lopsided vote, the House voted 102-11 to censure the governor. Last month, a House panel weighing impeachment rejected a bid to seek Sanford’s removal from office. Lawmakers deliberated the measure for roughly 20 minutes.”

Obama Concedes He’s Not Brought Unity

President Obama admitted in a People magazine interview that he “has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.”

Said Obama: “That’s what’s been lost this year … that whole sense of changing how Washington works.”

The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, “whether we’re Democrats or Republicans.”

Paterson Open to Ford Challenge

There’s probably no better proof that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is vulnerable to a primary challenge than Gov. David Paterson (D) — the man who appointed her to the Senate — noting he was open to a challenge by Harold Ford, Jr., the New York Times reports.

Said Paterson: “Harold Ford was an excellent congressman — I supported him when he ran for Senate. New York does have, has had, a tradition of allowing out-of-staters to come out and represent us. And if he thinks that he’s worthy of that, he should take on Senator Gillibrand in a primary.”

Cabinet Prospects for Dorgan?

The Hill reports that Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) has been invited to the White House in the coming weeks to speak with President Obama, raising “speculation over whether Obama may offer Dorgan a Cabinet post, or perhaps try to dissuade him from pushing the prescription drug legislation separately or as an amendment to other bills.”

“The question is what’s available,” said a Dorgan ally off Capitol Hill. Dorgan’s best fit would be at the head of the Departments of Energy or the Interior, but the current secretaries do not appear to be ready to leave.

Reid Sinks Further in New Poll

A new Rasmussen survey finds Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) support among Nevada voters plummeting since his remarks about President Obama were reported inGame Change.

Reid gets just 36% of the vote against his two top Republican challengers. That’s a seven-point drop from 43% a month ago.

However, the poll also shows that neither of the Republicans — Sue Lowden (R) and Danny Tarkanian (R) — gained any ground in the new survey, “highlighting the fact that the race continues to be a referendum on Reid rather than an outpouring of support for either of the top GOP hopefuls.”

Is Obama Approval Headed Down This Year?

An interesting note by GOP pollster Neil Newhouse: “Since Gallup first started measuring presidential job approval, every single president has had a lower job approval on the last poll before their first mid-term election than they did at the beginning of that year.”

Perry Rakes in the Money

The Dallas Morning News reports Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) “raised more than $7 million in the last six months and goes into the final stretch of the GOP primary for governor with $11.6 million in the bank.”

“The total represents an escalation in fundraising in his re-election bid” against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) “led Perry in early fundraising, beginning with a $6 million transfer from her Senate account” but has “struggled in recent months and trails in the polls.”

The first debate in the tough primary race will be tomorrow night.

Update: The AP reports Hutchison’s campaign raised more than $6 million in the last half of 2009 and had more than $12.3 million in available cash.

Stupak Explores Run for Governor

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) “a key figure in the debate over abortion in the health care overhaul in Washington, D.C., is strongly considering a run for governor, prompting fears from Democratic leaders that his departure would open up another swing seat for Republicans’ to target,” CQ Politics reports.

Stupak said that he “will be traveling across his state in the coming weeks to gauge support for a bid, but added that he wants to avoid a bloody primary. Stupak has noted in the past that his support for gun rights and opposition to abortion rights would make it difficult for him to win a statewide Democratic primary. But he said Tuesday that his independent streak could make him the strongest Democratic candidate in a difficult election environment this year.”

Franken Can’t Avoid the Spotlight

Most thought Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), a former comedian and actor, would try to avoid publicity, defer to his colleagues and follow the “workhorse” model used successfully by many freshman senators before him.

However, just six months into his term, the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that an unusual public spat between two top aides and “several highly publicized brushes with Senate Republicans” has challenged “a carefully scripted narrative of a head-down senator focused on nonpartisan, bread-and-butter Minnesota issues.”

Rangel Says Health Care Talks Stalled

Roll Call reports that health care negotiators are facing “a serious problem” in resolving their differences and are not likely to have a final bill until February.

Said Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “We’ve got a problem on both sides of the Capitol. A serious problem. Normally you’re just dealing with the Senate and they talk about 60 votes and you listen to them and cave in, but this is entirely different. I’m telling you that never has 218 been so important to me in the House.”

Nationalized Race Benefits Coakley

First Read correctly notes it “probably doesn’t help” Scott Brown (R) that his U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts against Martha Coakley (D) has been nationalized.

“All the ads Democratic and conservative groups are now airing, all the money that’s now flowing into the race, and all the reminders about how health care hangs in the balance will likely boost Democratic enthusiasm. Regardless of the outcome, however, Republicans are quite pleased to see Democrats drop money on this race in Massachusetts, as well as see Coakley travel to DC like she did last night — one week before the election!!! — to raise money from Democratic high-rollers. Even if she ends up winning this contest, this general election has turned into a disaster for Coakley. She and other Democrats thought the race was over after last month’s Democratic primary. Well guess what…”

Cook’s Latest Midterm Forecast

Charlie Cook: “Come November, Senate Democrats’ 60-vote supermajority is toast. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how Democrats could lose the Senate this year. But they have a 50-50 chance of ending up with fewer than 55 seats in the next Congress.”

“As for the House, we at The Cook Political Report are still forecasting that Democrats will lose only 20 to 30 seats. Another half-dozen or more retirements in tough districts, however, perhaps combined with another party switch or two, would reduce Democrats’ chances of holding the House to only an even-money bet. We rate 217 seats either ‘Solid Democratic’ or ‘Likely Democratic,’ meaning that the GOP would have to win every single race now thought to be competitive to reach 218, the barest possible majority.”

A Glimpse Inside the Reid Dynasty

Despite concern from some in Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) circle of advisers about his son’s candidacy for Nevada governor at the same time the senator faces a tough re-election fight, most “didn’t want to get involved in a family dynamic,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

For his part, Rory Reid (D) said his father told him he “should do what I should do. I should make my own decisions,” adding, “Most 47-year-old men don’t ask their fathers for permission.”

Quote of the Day

“I have no regret over calling Greenspan a political hack. Because he was. The things you heard me say about George Bush? You never heard me apologize about any of them. Because he was. What was I supposed to say? I called him a liar twice. Because he lied to me twice.”

— Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), quoted in a must-read profile in the New York Times Magazine.

Americans Split Evenly on Obama

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters are split 45% to 45% on whether President Obama’s first year in office is a success or failure and his approval rate is also evenly split at 45% to 45%.

Interesting, the public is also split 35% to 37% on whether the country would be better off if John McCain had won the 2008 election.

Ford Keeps Talking Senate Bid

In an interview with the New York Times, Harold Ford Jr. offered “a glimpse into a possible campaign strategy” saying “he would run as an insurgent who is uncontrolled by the entrenched political class” that he says has rallied around Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Said Ford: “If I am elected senator from New York, Harry Reid will not instruct me how to vote.”

Some interesting items: Ford only rides the subway when he can’t catch a taxi in the winter, he “has breakfast most mornings at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, and he receives regular pedicures. (He described them as treatment for a foot condition.)”

He also says he remains a hunter, saying with a smile, “I shoot at things that can’t shoot back and will continue to do that.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“If we don’t win this, 2010 will be hell for Democrats.”

— Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), quoted by The Hotline, on the U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts.

Update: The Hotline has since corrected the attribution noting it was Martha Coakley and not Markey who made this statement.

Obama’s First Veto

The Washington Post notes an event that was overshadowed by the health care debate: President Obama’s first veto, which the House will vote on overriding tomorrow.

Curiously, Obama “didn’t really oppose the bill he vetoed, and the House doesn’t really want to override it.”

“Confused? Welcome to the murky world of the separation of powers, where the legislative and executive branches are still squabbling, more than 200 years after the adoption of the Constitution, over how exactly the president is empowered to reject a bill passed by Congress. In this case, the issue is whether the president can issue a ‘pocket veto’ when Congress is out of session by simply refusing to sign a bill.”

Obama to Speak to House Republicans

President Obama “has accepted an invitation to address House Republicans at their annual retreat later this month in Baltimore,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Senate Race Tightens in Massachusetts

A new Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) leading Scott Brown (R) in their race for U.S. Senate, 49% to 47%.

Last week, Coakley led by nine points in the Rasmussen survey.

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent has obtained a campaign memo to top national Democratic donors claiming internal polling shows the race is “very tight” and making an “urgent” appeal for donations.

Political Wire has heard that internal polling that showed Coakley ahead by 14 points last week, now shows her ahead by just five points.

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