POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/10

Brown Offers to Resign

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown “falls on his sword” and offers to resign in an attempt to forge a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition government, according to theLondon Times.

Democrats Pull Back from Hawaii Special Election

We noted the possibility last week, but now it’s official: The DCCC announced that it will “no longer invest resources in the May 22 special election in Hawaii’s 1st Congressional district, effectively ceding the race to Republicans and likely setting the party up for what could be their first special election loss of the cycle,” CQ Politicsreports.

Due to Hawaii’s first-past-the-post voting system in special elections, DCCC officials lacked confidence that either Democrat in the race could defeat Republican Charles Djou.

Even Friends Not Sure of Kagan’s Views

Jeffrey Toobin writes that he’s been friends with Elena Kagan since they met on the first day of law school in 1983. Nontheless, he is “somewhat at a loss” when it comes to understanding how she’ll be as a Supreme Court justice.

“Clearly, she’s a Democrat. She was a highly regarded member of the White House staff during the Clinton years, but her own views were and are something of a mystery. She has written relatively little, and nothing of great consequence… But on the Court, Kagan will have to do something she’s not done before. Show her hand. Develop a clear ideology. Make tough votes. I have little doubt she’s up to the job, but am less clear on how she’ll do it.”

Quote of the Day

“I put in a couple of stories in my book, and when George would read them, read those chapters, he’d say: ‘Take those out — those are my stories.’ So we each got to keep our own stories for our books.”

— Laura Bush, quoted by Politico, on writing her memoir, Spoken from the Heart. President Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, is due just after the November election.

Kagan Vote Likely Before July Recess

Roll Call says the timing of the announcement of Elena Kagan to fill the Supreme Court vacancy means she “will be confirmed before the Senate adjourns for the July Fourth recess in about seven weeks.”

Kagan “is expected to begin meetings with Senators as soon as this week. Kagan won bipartisan support for her confirmation as solicitor general last year; Senators voted 61-31 in favor… Still, GOP Senators aren’t expected to let Kagan walk onto the bench uncontested. GOP Senators plan to use the confirmation debate to wage a broader political war against Obama over the future of the judiciary.”

Maine Republicans Adopt Tea Party Platform

“In a move that seemed to surprise many members of Maine’s Republican Party, a group of tea party-style activists redefined the party platform at the convention Saturday,” the Portland Press Herald reports.

A vocal majority “supported a wholesale replacement of language worked on by the party establishment since at least January.”

Maine Politics: “The official platform for the Republican Party of Maine is now a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.”

The Shrinking Republican Tent

With Sen. Robert Bennett’s (R-UT) defeat at the Utah Republican convention over the weekend, First Read notes that for the third time in a year, Republicans “essentially sent a message that one of their elected officials wasn’t conservative enough for the party’s nomination.”

“But what does it say about the size of the GOP’s tent that there isn’t room enough for Bennett, Arlen Specter, and Charlie Crist? … And what kind of message does Bennett’s defeat send to other GOP officials? (Who will be the next Republican who will want to team up with a Ron Wyden or any other Democrat for that matter?) Translation: Don’t be surprised if Lindsey Graham is a no-show later this week when Kerry-Lieberman roll out the energy/climate bill.”

Obama’s Gift to Sestak

With multiple polls showing Rep. Joe Sestak (D) now leading Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in their Democratic primary race, the challenger just received an unintended gift from President Obama.

Specter is the only Democratic senator who voted against Elena Kagan when she was nominated as solicitor general. With just a week before the primary, Sestak has yet another talking point on who is the real Democrat in the race.

O’Malley Holds Early Lead Over Ehrlich

A new Washington Post poll finds Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) leads former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) in a rematch of their 2006 race, 49% to 41%.

Key finding: “The numbers suggest that voters could be surprisingly open to appeals from both sides, despite how well-known the two major candidates are. Nearly half say they are undecided or could change their minds before Election Day.”

Sestak Now Five Points Ahead

The latest Muhlenberg/Morning Call tracking poll in Pennsylvania shows Rep. Joe Sestak (D) has opened a five point lead over Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race, 47% to 42%.

A new Rasmussen survey also shows Sestak with a five point lead, 47% to 42%.

Obama Chooses Kagan for Supreme Court

President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th justice, “choosing his own chief advocate before the Supreme Court to join it in ruling on cases critical to his view of the country’s future,” the New York Times reports.

Why? The Washington Post notes Obama “wants someone who can serve as a counterweight to the intellectual heft of Chief Justice John Roberts. Regardless of how strong a liberal Kagan would prove to be, as a former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan practically defines legal gravitas.”

“She’s also a female, which adds to the court’s gender diversity. She’s young, at 50, which means she could be on the court for a quarter century. And she’s never been a judge, which gives her a quality that Obama is known to have been seeking: someone to bring a different sensibility to a court that’s currently dominated by judges.”

Required reading: Tom Goldstein has an in-depth review of the nomination process and what debates are most likely to appear over the next two or three months.SCOTUSblog also takes a long, long look at Kagan’s record and breaks down the likely vote totals in the Senate for and against confirmation.

McCollum Loses Steam in Florida

In Florida’s race for governor, a new Mason-Dixon poll finds Bill McCollum (R) is quickly losing ground among likely Republican voters to Rick Scott (R), “a former hospital chain chief executive who came out of nowhere to pelt the television airwaves with millions of dollars in commercials during the last four weeks.”

The survey found McCollum leads, 38% to 24%, “a shocking erosion considering McCollum’s two decades in Congress and three statewide campaigns.”

McCollum is also losing some steam to the likely Democratic nominee, Alex Sink (D), and now leads by just nine points, 45% to 36%. That’s down from the commanding 15-point lead he held in late March.

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