POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/26

Crist Says Rubio Spreading Rumors

A spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s (R) U.S. Senate campaign tells CQ Politics she’s noticed a pattern when it comes to the “patently false” rumors that Crist is planning to drop his GOP label and run as an Independent this fall.

She says those rumors tend to coincide with bad news days for Crist’s GOP primary rival, Marco Rubio (R).

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think Michele Bachmann summed it up very well earlier today. She suggested that maybe the beer summit was more productive and fruitful than what we saw today coming out of the health care summit.”

— Sarah Palin, in an interview on Fox News.

Democrats Turning on Rangel

“After months of holding ranks, Democrats are finally turning on House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) in the wake of an ethics committee finding that he violated House rules by accepting a Caribbean junket,” Politico reports.

At least four Democratic House members called for Rangel to step down from his powerful post.

Burr Very Unpopular But Still Ahead

A new Elon University Poll in North Carolina finds that only 24% of North Carolinians think that Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) deserves reelection, while 51% think it’s time to give someone else a chance.

Unfortunately, the survey didn’t test Burr against potential Democratic challengers.

However, a new Rasmussen poll finds Burr still leading Elaine Marshall (D), 50% to 34%, and beating Cal Cunningham (D), 52% to 29%.

Image Problem in South Carolina?

The State reports that nearly 68% of state residents polled said the country’s opinion of their state became less favorable over the past year.

“A prominent South Carolina Republican jokes that an escaped gorilla from Riverbanks Zoo was an ancestor of first lady Michelle Obama. One of the state’s congressmen shouts ‘You Lie!’ to the president of the United States during a nationally televised joint session of Congress. And then there is the governor.”

Candidate’s Wife Jumps into Race

The talk in Georgia political circles is all about the wife of a candidate for governor deciding to run for lieutenant governor, reports CQ Politics.

Carol Porter (D), the wife of gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter (D), declared her candidacy yesterday, saying she’s serious about the race and “If this is a gimmick and it’s going to get corruption out of government, you can give me a dozen.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “However you view it, the scenario sets up a potential husband-and-wife team at the top of the party’s ticket.”

Bunning Launches One-Man Filibuster

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) began a filibuster late last night “against a bill with several popular provisions aimed at people hit hardest by the recession. So far, he is succeeding,” Roll Call reports.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) organized a group of Democrats “to man the floor for a potential all-night session. But after three hours of often heated debate — during which Bunning could be heard yelling obscenities at other lawmakers — Durbin dropped his efforts for the evening shortly before midnight.”

The New York Times notes Bunning was determined to thwart the Democrats, saying “I’ll be here as long as you are here.”

Quote of the Day

“This is going to come as quite a shock to people up here that I can write a book, much less read one.”

— Former President George W. Bush, quoted by Mike Allen, addressing a Bush-Cheney reunion breakfast. Bush’s memoir is due in November.

Palin to Give Keynote at NRA Meeting

Sarah Palin will headline the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, CNNreports.

“Her May 14 appearance at the Charlotte Convention Center will offer Palin, a hunter and fierce advocate of gun rights, an opportunity to appeal to one of the conservative movement’s most prominent interest groups.”

Support for Paterson Crumbles

In the wake of charges that New York Gov. David Paterson (D) improperly intervened in a domestic violence complaint against an aide, the New York Timesreports a “range of political allies and even some close friends” urged Paterson “privately and publicly to end his bid for election.”

“While no prominent Democrat called for Mr. Paterson to resign, several said it would be impossible for him to both govern and run a campaign while dealing with the allegations, which the governor has asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate. Other officials said that if an inquiry showed that Mr. Paterson tried to influence the woman’s decision not to continue the case, he should resign.”

In a front page editorial, the New York Daily News called for Paterson to resign.

Update: The New York Daily News reports Paterson will end his reelection campaign today, but currently has no plans to resign.

Republican Surges in Massachusetts

A new Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts finds a possible “Scott Brown effect” as Charlie Baker (R) jumps to within striking distance of Gov. Deval Patrick (D) in a tight, three-way gubernatorial race.

Patrick leads with 33%, followed by Baker at 25% and Tim Cahill (I) at 23%.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “Charlie Baker has nearly doubled since the Scott Brown win. Baker is where Brown was two weeks before the Senate election — he still trails, but he is surging and within striking distance.”

Key finding: An amazing 68% of voters say Patrick is a “weak leader” rather than a victim of the bad economy and just 29% say he deserves re-election.

Gibbons Closes Gap with Sandoval

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Nevada confirms what other recent surveys have shown: Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) is pulling closer to Brian Sandoval (R) in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Sandoval now leads Gibbons by just seven points, 37% to 30%. Last month, Sandoval led by 16 points.

In general election match ups, Sandoval would crush Rory Reid (D), 51% to 29%. However, with Gibbons as the GOP nominee, Reid would win, 42% to 38%.

Now Democrats Must Find the Votes

After nearly seven hours of health care discussion yesterday, Roll Call sums up President Obama’s strong words for Republicans: “Find common ground with Democrats in the next six weeks or we’re moving on without you and letting voters decide in November who was wrong.”

Likewise, Ezra Klein says the big story out of the summit is that the White House “has dug its heels into the dirt. The Democrats are not taking reconciliation off the table, they are not paring back the bill, and they are not extricating themselves from the issue. They think they’re right on this one, and they’re going to try and pass this legislation.”

Greg Sargent: “Whether Obama and Dems will succeed in passing reform on their own is anything but assured, to put it mildly. But there’s virtually no doubt anymore that they are going to try — starting as early as tomorrow.”

The big question now: Where do they find the votes?

John Dickerson: “According to strategists involved in 2010 races, fence-sitting Democrats needed to see Obama change the political dynamic. He needed to show how health care reform could be defended and how Republicans could be brought low. He did neither. White House aides and the president himself said he was going to press Republicans for how their plans would work, but he did that only twice — and mildly. There was no put-up-or-shut-up moment.”

Most Liberal and Most Conservative Lawmakers

The National Journal‘s annual vote ranking study is out.

Liberals: “The most liberal members in the Senate include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roland Burris (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), all tied for first place. In the House, 8 members share the distinction — Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Gwen Moore (D-WI), John Olver (D-MA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mel Watt (D-NC) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) are tied for the top spot.”

Conservatives: “Unlike Dems, GOPers get to fete a clear winner in the most-conservative sweepstakes: This year, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) takes the prize. He’s closely followed by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Tom Coburn (R-OK). In the House, Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) share the prize.”

Defeated Lawmaker Still Parks in House Lot

Former Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) “may have hit the road and gone back home to Pittsburgh in 2006 when she lost her bid for re-election, but it appears that a car she owns still remains in the Longworth House Office building parking garage — more than three years after she left Congress,” the Daily Caller reports.

Former members “can only park in the garages if they are not registered lobbyists.” Hart is registered in the Senate lobbyist database.

“A woman identifying herself as Hart answered the phone at her law office, but hung up after the reporter asked if the car belonged to her.”

Most Love Being in Congress

The latest National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll finds that an overwhelming 83% of Democrats and 84% of Republicans say that they are either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their job as a Member of Congress.

Crist Speculation Grows

Jack Funari: “Two highly placed and independent sources, speaking strictly on background, tell me that Gov. Charlie Crist is preparing to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in the race for the U.S. Senate.”

Would You Buy a Used Car from This Man?

CQ Politics notes the 2010 election cycle features four Republicans who own large car dealerships running in higher-profile congressional races. While these candidates generally enjoy the benefits of wealth and high name identification, there’s also a downside to being associated with the auto industry these days.

Not to mention the stereotypical image of a used car dealer in a bad plaid sports coat just trying to make a deal — or get a vote.

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