POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/7

Blagojevich Tweets

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues his unorthodox publicity blitz by usingTwitter during his federal corruption trial, the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

“In the past year or so, political writers have breathlessly written about the meaning of Twitter in American politics, while simultaneously charting politicians’ increasing use of the site in their campaigning and governing. But rare, if unprecedented, is the example of a politician (or ex-politician, as it were) seizing the technology amidst a fall from grace, to say nothing of a federal trial.”

Who Bankrolls Congress?

A must-read investigation by the Center for Public Integrity “sought to determine who bankrolls Washington’s most powerful lawmakers and why — not just recently, but over the entire course of their federal careers.”

It’s well known that Democrats have taken large contributions from labor unions and trial lawyers, while Republicans have significant financial backing from the tobacco industry. However, the single largest career backer of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is the same: telecom giant AT&T.

“This bipartisan investment has paid dividends over the years as the trio has backed the firm’s priorities on telecommunications legislation and played key roles in granting the company immunity for its participation in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.”

Voters More Comfortable with Health Care Law

From a DNC memo by pollster Joel Benenson: “As misinformation about President Obama’s health care reforms give way to Americans’ real-life experience with it, voters are slowly becoming increasingly comfortable with the law and resistant to Republican efforts to repeal it.”

Benenson’s poll shows “continued ambivalence” over the law, with 50% supporting the law and 49% opposing it, but a majority want to see the law take effect before making any changes.

A Sign Palin is Running for President?

For those hoping Sarah Palin runs for president, that’s certainly what her recent endorsement of former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) might suggest. Nearly every poll shows Branstad is the heavy favorite to regain his old job as chief executive of the first state to vote for president in 2012.

Branstad is not the typical candidate Palin would endorse, and as a video shows, he was very surprised to be her choice.

Branstad Holds Big Lead in Primary

Though a couple of earlier polls suggested it might be closer, a new Des Moines Register poll finds former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) with a sizable lead in the Republican race for governor.

Branstad leads with 57%, followed by Bob Vander Plaats (R) at 29% and Rod Roberts (R) at 8%.

Said pollster Ann Selzer: “What Branstad needed to accomplish was to build an identity with the electorate that wouldn’t alienate the far right but wouldn’t commit him to a far-right agenda. And to me that’s what I see playing out.”

The winner faces Gov. Chet Culver (D) in November.

Key Primary Races This Week

Tomorrow is a big primary day with voters in 11 states heading to the polls to pick their candidates for the November general election. Here are the top races we’ll be watching:

NV-Sen: Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle (R) now leads Sue Lowden (R) and Danny Tarkanian (R) in the most recent polls in the race to challenge Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).

AR-Sen: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) faces Bill Halter (D) in a primary runoff. If Lincoln loses, she’ll be the third incumbent senator to be denied their party’s nomination this year.

SC-Gov: Nikki Haley (R) apparently still holds a big lead in the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, despite multiple accusations of extramarital affairs.

SC-4: Rep. Robert Inglis (R-SC) is fending off a tough challenge from Trey Gowdy (R) because he’s not seen as conservative enough for South Carolina voters.

CA-Sen: In recent weeks, Carly Fiorina (R) has surged ahead of Tom Campbell (R) for the right to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) even though several poll show Campbell as the stronger general election candidate.

NV-Gov: Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) seems likely to be ousted by challenger Brian Sandoval (R).

CA-Gov: With huge leads in nearly every poll, Meg Whitman (R) seems to have a lock on the Republican nomination to challenge Jerry Brown (D) this fall.

CA-36: Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) faces liberal grassroots favorite Marcy Winograd (D) in a rematch of their 2006 fight. A third Democrat on the ballot, however, makes it unlikely Harman will lose.

IA-Gov: Former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) seems the likely frontrunner in a general election match up against Gov. Chet Culver (D), but he’ll have to get past primary challenger Bob Vander Plaats (R) who has been closing the gap in recent polls.

ME-Gov: It’s anyone’s guess who will win the Democratic or Republican nominations since recent polls show a majority of voters still very much undecided.

Discuss the races you’ll be watching in the comments.

Quote of the Day

“When you have an agenda that’s never-ending… you lose the attention and focus of the people. We have probably done that.”

— Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), quoted by Bloomberg, arguing that Democrats should not force votes on energy and immigration legislation this summer.

Paul Explains His Idealist Campaign

Since he’s no longer doing national television interviews, Rand Paul (R) took to a Bowling Green Daily News op-ed to explain his “idealist” views.

Writes Paul: “In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state. For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option.”

“Think about it — this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?”

“My overriding principle is this: I believe in the natural right of all individuals to have their God-given liberty protected. And that’s why I believe the Civil Rights Act was necessary, and that I would have voted for it.”

Democrats Avoid Primary to Challenge Bachmann

Maureen Reed (D) announced that she is dropping out of the primary race to unseat Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, allowing Democrats to unify behind one candidate, Tarryl Clark (D).

“The surprise announcement changes the dynamic of the Sixth District race, which was already shaping up to be one of the most heated in the state. Though Bachmann represents a solidly conservative area, national eyes and wallets are keenly focused on the race because of the lawmaker’s controversial style of politics.”

Crist Denies He Approved Diversion of Funds

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist “personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party — according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he ‘didn’t know anything’ about the deal now part of a criminal investigation,” the Miami Herald reports.

Investigators say Greer “secretly set up a shell company” to divert party money and enrich himself.

In a CNN interview, Crist was quick to deny the allegations.

Said Crist: “Sometimes desperate people say desperate things, and it’s very sad.”

Inglis Trails Primary Rival

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Rep. Robert Inglis (R-SC), who has drawn flak from his party for his perceived lack of conservative orthodoxy, trails primary rival Trey Gowdy (R), 37% to 33%.

South Carolina’s primaries will take place Tuesday. If no candidate achieves 50%, a runoff will be held on June 22nd.

Haley Still Way Out in Front

A new Public Policy Polling survey in South Carolina finds Nikki Haley (R) hasn’t suffered any damage whatsoever after accusations of multiple extramarital affairs.

Haley has a 20 point lead in the Republican primary for governor, leading with 43%, followed by Gresham Barrett (R) at 23%, Henry McMaster (R) at 16%, and Andre Bauer (R) at 12%.

Two weeks ago, Haley held a 21 point lead.

Latest Pollster Ratings

Nate Silver has compiled ratings for every major pollster and finds the Field Poll, Washington Post/ABC News and SurveyUSA to be at the top of the list. On the other end of the spectrum, Zogby Interactive, InsiderAdvantage and American Research Group rank at the bottom.

Of the most prolific pollsters, Rasmussen has slipped but remains above average while Research 2000 now ranks considerably below average.

Majority Now Oppose Offshore Drilling

A new CBS News Poll finds that Americans are rapidly reconsidering their views of offshore drilling as oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

In the latest poll, 51% of people believe increased offshore drilling is “too risky” with 40% still in favor. That is a huge swing from August 2008, when 62% of people favored increased offshore drilling and just 28% opposed it. It is also a large shift from just a month ago, when 41% believed it was too risky and 46% were in favor.

The new poll also shows that just as many people now view the spill as part of a broader problem as consider it an isolated incident, with each taking 45%. A month ago, 51% believed it to be an isolated incident, compared to 35% that saw it as part of a broader problem.

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