POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/24

Do Democrats Have the Votes in the House?

When counting health care votes, most attention has been on the Senate. But does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still still have the votes she needs to pass a bill in the House?

According to the Daily Caller, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) sent a memoto Republican caucus in which he asserts House Democrats will likely only be able to attract 202 votes out of their 255-member caucus to back the health care bill, 15 votes below the 217-vote threshold they need to pass the bill.

Said Cantor: “House Democrats are farther away from securing the votes to pass a government health care bill today than they have ever been.”

It may not be as many as 15 votes, but First Read points out, we know Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) “now says he’ll vote no; John Murtha passed away; Robert Wexler left the House (the special election isn’t until April 13); and Neil Abercrombie is officially exiting on Friday to run for Hawaii governor.”

That still leaves Democrats three votes short.

“So where does Pelosi get the handful of votes to get to 217? It will have to come from the pool of the 39 House Democrats who voted no last year — most of whom are Blue Dogs or face tough re-election campaigns in November.”

Against It Before They Were For It

A $15 billion jobs bill was overwhelmingly approved in the U.S. Senate today, thanks to the votes of 13 Republicans. But as Mike Memoli notes, just five of those senators supported a cloture motion earlier this week which allowed the bill to come to the floor for a final up-or-down vote.

The senators who voted to filibuster but then supported the bill: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Thad Cochran (R-MO), James Inhofe (R-OK), George LeMieux (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) hadn’t voted at all on the cloture motion but supported it today.

No More Democratic Retirements Expected in Senate

The head of the Democratic Senate campaign effort does not expect any more Democratic retirements in the Senate this cycle, CQ Politics reports.

Said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ): “I have every confidence at this point in time that there are no other Senate retirements.”

“While Senate Democrats have five retirements so far this cycle, Menendez pointed out that Senate Republicans have six, creating opportunities in open-seat races in Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Florida.”

Wingnuts

Just published: Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America by John Avlon.

“Wingnuts is a reported exploration of the outer reaches of American politics, told from the perspectives of a radical centrist who believes that the far right and the far left are equally insane.”

Quote of the Day

“You are full of shit. You are. You really are.”

— Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R), to a KLAS-TV reporter, denying he was with a woman on a flight before video proved he was lying.

Health Care No Stranger to Reconciliation

Despite the “crying” from Republicans, health care and the budget reconciliation process actually has a lengthy history, according to NPR.

“In fact, over the past three decades, the number of major health financing measures that were NOT passed via budget reconciliation can be counted on one hand… So using the process to try to pass a health overhaul bill might not be easy. But it won’t be unprecedented.”

Blagojevich to Lecture on Ethics

Rod Blagojevich will speak to Northwestern University students at an event titled “Ethics in Politics: An evening with Former Governor Rod Blagojevich,” reports theDaily Northwestern.

Blagojevich, of course, is scheduled to go on trial this summer on federal corruption charges.

Can Perry Avoid a Run Off?

The latest Rasmussen survey in Texas finds Gov. Rick Perry (R) very close to avoiding a run off in next week’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

Perry now leads Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), 48% to 27%, with Debra Medina (R) at 16%. He needs at least 50% to win the race outright.

Hutchison’s near concession last night can only help Perry.

Richardson’s Great Fall

Public Policy Polling finds that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has become one of the least popular governors in the nation, with 63% of voters disapproving of him and only 28% approving.

Sarah Palin as Jesse Jackson

Peter Brown: “Sarah Palin would probably blanch at the comparison, given their widely divergent world views, but these days her political profile looks quite similar to the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s just over two decades ago.”

“Simply put, the two emerged as political and media celebrities backed by exceptionally strong support within the most ideological wing of their respective political parties. But both also carry substantial political baggage with the much larger numbers of American voters who decide November elections.”

Rubio Way Ahead of Crist

A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll finds Marco Rubio (R) now leading Gov. Charlie Crist (R) by an astonishing 18 points in their U.S. Senate primary, 48% to 30%.

In October, the chamber’s survey found Crist leading Rubio 44% to 30%.

Toomey Holds Big Leads in Pennsylvania

A new Franklin & Marshall poll in Pennsylvania finds Pat Toomey (R) leading both Sen. Arlen Specter (D) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D) by double-digits in general election match ups.

Toomey leads Specter, 44% to 34%, and tops Sestak, 38% to 20%.

In the Democratic primary, Specter leads Sestak, 33% to 16%, with 44% still undecided.

Paul Way Ahead in Kentucky Senate Race

A new Magellan Strategies poll in Kentucky finds Rand Paul (R) leading Trey Grayson (R) among likely Republican primary voters for U.S. Senate, 44% to 23%, with 33% of voters undecided.

Damon as RFK

Deadline Hollywood reports Matt Damon will star in a new movie about Robert F. Kennedy based on the excellent Evan Thomas biography, Robert Kennedy: His Life.

Obama Aides Already Planning Re-Election Campaign

President Obama’s top advisers are “quietly laying the groundwork for the 2012 reelection campaign,” Politico reports, “which is likely to be run out of Chicago and managed by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina.”

“The planning for now consists entirely of private conversations, with Obama aides at all levels indulging occasionally in closed-door 2012 discussions while focusing ferociously on the midterm elections and health-care reform… But the sources said Obama has given every sign of planning to run again, and wants the next campaign to resemble the highly successful 2008 effort.”

Chafee Leads for Rhode Island Governor

A new Brown University poll in Rhode Island finds Lincoln Chafee (I) would beat the Democrats and Republicans in the race.

Chafee leads with 33.8% of the vote, followed by Frank Caprio (D) at 28% and John Robitaille (R) at 12%.

The results are similar with Patrick Lynch (D) as the Democratic candidate: Chafee leads with 32%, followed by Lynch at 17% and Robitaille at 13%.

Many Still Undecided in Ohio Senate Race

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Lee Fisher (D) now leading Jennifer Brunner (D) in the Democratic race for Senate, 29% to 20%. However, 48% of Democrats are still undecided.

In general election matchups, Rob Portman (R) leads Fisher, 40% to 37%, and beats Brunner, 40% to 35%.

Poizner Ready to “Spend it All”

Steve Poizner (R) told the AP he is “set to launch an aggressive television advertising campaign to counter months of advertising” by rival Meg Whitman (R) in California’s Republican gubernatorial race.

“Whitman has given her campaign $39 million so far and has been spending at an unprecedented pace. Poizner, a multimillionaire who developed GPS chips for cell phones, said Tuesday that he will add to the $19 million he already has given his campaign.”

Said Poizner: “We’re going to spend it all. I mean, it’s not like I’m trying to keep my resources for the general (election) or something. We’re going to spend what it takes.”

Hutchison Throws in the Towel?

With polls showing her way behind in the Republican gubernatorial primary, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) acknowledged to the AP that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) “has succeeded at casting her as a Washington insider, hindering her effort to kick him out of the Texas governor’s mansion.”

Said Hutchison: “It definitely has made it more difficult for me. I didn’t think that people would buy that because I’ve been so effective for Texas.”

“Perry seems to be riding a national wave of frustration directed at Washington politicians – the same anger that has fueled the “tea party” movement and complicated the Democrats’ plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system. The long-serving governor who has campaigned as populist has repeatedly criticized Hutchison for pushing earmarks and voting for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.”

The primary is next week.

Hungry Republicans

Reid Wilson has the bizarre FEC find of the day: “Someone at the RNC spent $15 at a pet store on 8th SE and listed the expense as meals.”

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