POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/23

Gillibrand Still Trails Pataki

A new Siena Poll in New York shows Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) trailing former Gov. George Pataki (R) in a potential U.S. Senate race, 39% to 45%.

Tightening horse race: Though Gillibrand’s numbers have stayed relatively stable since January, Pataki has seen a six point drop in his numbers in the same period.

Kasich Leads in Ohio

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Ohio finds challenger John Kasich (R) leading Gov. Ted Strickland (D), 42% to 37%.

“With the country as polarized as it is right now it seems pretty safe to say that there won’t be a lot of Democrats or Republicans crossing party lines in their votes for Governor this year. That means the race will come down to the independents. Right now they dislike Strickland and don’t really know Kasich. For the Governor to get reelected he will have to get those voters to change their minds about him — or convince them that they dislike Kasich even more. It’s going to be a difficult fight for reelection.”

Palin Reality Show Picked Up

The Discovery channel is expected to land a deal with Sarah Palin for a reality TV show with producer Mark Burnett, Variety reports.

Sarah Palin’s Alaska will center on interesting characters, traditions and attractions in the 49th state — with the ex-VP candidate as a guide. Burnett and Palin pitched the show to all four major networks — but given the travelogue nature of the series, cable expressed more interest in the project.”

The show is believed to have fetched more than $1 million an episode.

Lawmaker Sought Public Funds to Pay Campaign Workers

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Michael Veon (D), “once among the most powerful politicians in the state Capitol,” was convicted of “masterminding a scheme to have the public underwrite the campaigns of House Democrats,” the Philadelphia Inquirerreports.

He was found guilty on 14 counts of “theft, conflict of interest and conspiracy” in a corruption scandal “centered on a secret scheme to award $1.4 million in government bonuses to legislative staffers as rewards for working on the campaigns of Democrats running for House seats between 2002 and 2006.”

Feingold Holds Slim Lead in Thompson Match Up

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin finds Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) holds a slight lead over former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) in a possible U.S. Senate race, 47% to 44%.

Key findings: “Feelings toward Feingold and Thompson are highly polarized with neither having much in the way of crossover support. Feingold’s approval rating is a 45/41 spread with 73% of Democrats approving of him and 71% of Republicans disapproving of him. Thompson’s favorability is a negative 40/44 spread with 70% of Republicans viewing him positively and 73% of Democrats holding an unfavorable view. Independents are relatively split on both politicians, with Feingold getting a 46/43 approval rating with them and Thompson standing at 40/40.”

What Next for Republicans?

First Read notes the Republican responses to health care’s passage present the GOP with this question: “What do they do now they’ve lost? Launch a full repeal campaign (as many Republicans like McCain are advocating), or steer a more pragmatic course (as David Frum is arguing)?”

New York Times: “In political terms, Republicans face strong crosscurrents. Polls suggest that a sizable part of the nation is unenthusiastic about the bill or opposed to it. Conservatives see it as a strike at the heart of their small-government principles… But at the same time, many provisions of the bill that go into effect this year … are broadly popular with the public… And in a week when Democrats are celebrating the passage of a historic piece of legislation, Republicans find themselves again being portrayed as the party of no, associated with being on the losing side of an often acrid debate and failing to offer a persuasive alternative agenda.”

Whitman’s Spending on Record Pace

Meg Whitman “spent $27 million on her campaign for governor in the first 11 weeks of the year, setting a record-shattering pace with a prime-time television ad blitz to introduce herself to voters and attack her GOP opponent,” the Los Angeles Timesreports.

Whitman “has spent $46 million since joining the race early last year, seven times more than either of her main rivals.”

Off to the Races!

If all goes well, the “Off to the Races” panel I’ll be moderating — with Tucker Carlson, Craig Crawford, Stuart Rothenberg and Walter Shapiro — will be streamed livebeginning at 9. a.m. ET. Let’s hope we find something to talk about.

Overheated Talk Undoing Republicans

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum says the “overheated rhetoric” by Republicans over health care reform is paralyzing the party.

“Yes, it mobilizes supporters — but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead.”

“Now the overheated talk is about to get worse. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve heard conservatives compare the House bill to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 — a decisive step on the path to the Civil War. Conservatives have whipped themselves into spasms of outrage and despair that block all strategic thinking.”

Health Care Reform Heads to the Courts

Marc Ambinder: “Moments after President Obama signs the health reform bill today, mostly Republican aspiring governors — AGs — er, Attorneys General in at least twelve states plan file suit to prevent the legislation from taking effect. The chances of success in the Supreme Court are low, but the point of the lawsuits isn’t legal — it’s political. It advances the politics of conservative jurisprudence, and the political ambitions of conservatives, and it keeps the legislation itself in a state of suspended political animation. ”

Obama Must Sign Bill Before Senate Takes Up Fixes

President Obama will sign the sweeping health care reform legislation into law at the White House this morning. The Senate will then take up a separate compromise package of fixes to the bill, but they cannot begin debate until the president signs the underlying bill.

However, as soon as the bill is signed, opponents of the law will step up their fight as well with 11 state attorneys general — all Republican — planning lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the mandate for people to buy health insurance.

Final Votes Were Not Easy for Pelosi

Roll Call says that none of the final votes on the health care bill came easily to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “as they muscled health care reform over the line. And the stories of the late-breaking votes illustrate just how tight the margin was for a Democratic majority that had potentially staked its future on the outcome.”

“Pelosi had personally courted nearly every wavering Democrat over a period of months, intensifying dramatically in the past week, and the stakes could not have been higher with the fate of the party’s top priority, her Speakership and Obama’s presidency all hanging in the balance.”

Parliamentarian Rules Against GOP Challenge

Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin ruled against a Republican challenge to the health care reconciliation package, Roll Call reports.

However, Senate Republicans “remain confident that Frumin will rule in their favor on at least one of the many challenges they plan to raise.”

Said one GOP aide: “One down, many more to go.”

Is Romney Toast in 2012?

Brad DeLong makes the observation that neither Democrats nor Republicans “have an incentive to discuss the Republican roots of Obama’s health-care plan. But that doesn’t mean they’re not real — and deep.”

In fact, Mitt Romney’s version of health care reform for Massachusetts — signed into law in 2006 — is very close to what just passed the House over the weekend.

This is why Josh Marshall suggests that Romney’s strong reaction to the passage of health care reform is a sign that “the passage of this bill pretty much ends his chances to be nominated for the presidency.”

“If the Republicans want to make Obama’s signature piece of legislation a centerpiece of their 2012 campaign (and it’s hard to imagine they won’t since what else will they run on?), they can’t very well run a candidate who supported and passed close to an identical bill [in Massachusetts]. It’s a no-brainer.”

Reid Hopes Bill is Passed by Weekend

Democrats “are planning to pass the final changes to landmark health care legislation by the end of the week but must first get past a final Republican stand,”The Hill reports.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes the reconciliation package will hit the Senate floor by Tuesday afternoon and the goal is to pass the bill by Friday or Saturday.

“Republicans are planning to object to much of the 153-page bill, threatening to make ‘Swiss cheese’ out of the legislation that Democrats will try to move under the special rules that require only a majority vote.”



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