POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/22

Dead Heat in Pennsylvania

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Pennsylvania shows Rep. Joe Sestak (D) and Pat Toomey (R) are tied in the U.S. Senate race at 41% each.

This represents a six point improvement for Sestak from late March and “comes largely by consolidating the Democratic vote in the wake of his surprising primary win. He’s now getting 70% from within his own party, up from 59% on the previous poll. That’s similar to the 73% share of the Republican vote Toomey is getting, suggesting that Sestak has been successful in getting the party unified around him in the last five weeks.”

Will There be Runoff Surprises Tonight?

First Read: “While Haley, Bridgewater, and Marshall are considered either strong favorites (in Haley’s case) or slight favorites (for Bridgewater and Marshall), run-offs are very unpredictable — as we found out in Arkansas earlier this month when Blanche Lincoln beat Bill Halter.”

Polls close in South Carolina at 7:00 pm ET, in North Carolina at 7:30 pm ET, and in Utah at 10:00 pm ET.

Sanford Disappears Again

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) “is back in the office after again taking a vacation without telling the lieutenant governor where he was,” the AP reports.

A spokesman would not say “where the governor was, except to say he’s been off.”

One year ago, Sanford also mysteriously disappeared without telling his staff where he had gone. That didn’t turn out so well.

McChrystal’s Offence

A reader sends this excerpt from the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

“Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

McChrystal Saw Quotes Before Publication

Rolling Stone editor Eric Bates told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that Gen. Stanley McChrystal saw details from the article everyone is now talking about before it was published.

McChrystal did not object to any of the quotes in the piece.

Said Bates: “We ran everything by them in the fact checking process as we always do. They had a sense of what was coming and it was all on the record and they spent a lot of time with our reporter so I think they knew that they had said it.”

Race for Texas Governor Deadlocked

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Texas finds Gov. Rick Perry (R) is now tied with challenger Bill White (D) in the race for governor at 43% each.

Anaysis: “Texas would seem an unlikely candidate to provide Democrats their biggest win of the election cycle but the Governor’s race there is a reminder that candidates matter. Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, while White is an unusually strong challenger.”

Editor Loses Job After Palin-McGinniss Threat

The Wasilla newspaper editor who seemed to threaten author Joe McGinniss for moving in next door to Sarah Palin has lost his job, the Alaska Dispatch reports.

Limbaugh Bashes GOP for Barton Response

Rush Limbaugh took aim at Republican leaders for rushing to demand Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) retract his controversial apology to oil giant BP during last week’s congressional hearing, CNN reports.

Said Limbaugh: “It was a shakedown pure and simple. And somebody had the audacity to call it what it was and now everybody’s running for the hills.”

McChrystal Might Want to Talk to David Stockman

Today’s firestorm over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s comments to Rolling Stonemagazine reminded several readers of the controversy that broke out in 1981 when Ronald Reagan’s budget director David Stockman spoke “too freely” to The Atlanticabout his reservations with the president’s policies.

Stockman’s famous quote: “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”

Stockman survived the incident but was, in his words, “taken to the woodshed” by the president. He later wrote a book, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed.

Cohen Files Independent Bid for Illinois Governor

Scott Lee Cohen, the 45-year-old pawnshop owner from Chicago who won the Democratic nomination for Illinois lieutenant governor this spring, only to withdraw after allegations surfaced of past bad behavior, filed petitions as an independent candidate for governor, the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

Said Cohen: “In life, things happen, and sometimes life can beat you down. You have to be strong enough to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move forward.”

Blagojevich Aide Would Sign Bills Without Governor

At the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, former aide Bradley Tusk described the governor’s “unusual management style, which left major decision-making to aides,” the New York Times reports.

Tusk described how he often struggled to track Blagojevich down in odd locations said he would sometimes sign or veto bills without talking to the governor.

Said Tusk: “It was sometimes difficult to reach him. He was not always engaged in the process.”

McChrystal Apologizes for Article

Gen. Stanley McChrystal has apologized for a new Rolling Stone article out this week in which he criticizes the Obama administration, CBS News reports.

The article depicts McChrystal “as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war.”

McChrystal is also described by an aide as “disappointed” in his first Oval Office meeting with an unprepared President Obama. The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start.

Said McChrystal: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports McChrystal has been summoned to the White House to meet with the president in person.

Runoff Likely in GOP Primary for Georgia Governor

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds the Republican race for governor likely headed toward a runoff with John Oxendine (R) leading the field with 34%, followed by Karen Handel (R) at 18% and Nathan Deal at 17%.

On the Democratic side, former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) is well ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination and leads Thurbert Baker (D), 63% to 13%.

The primary is on July 20.

Gillibrand Holds Big Leads Over Unknown Rivals

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) leads her two largely unknown challengers, 46% to 26% percent over Bruce Blakeman (R) and 47% to 25% over David Malpass (R).

For Blakeman, 87% don’t know enough; for Malpass, the don’t-know-enough is 90%.

Runoff Tuesday

If it’s Tuesday, there are usually elections somewhere — except today they’re all really runoffs.

In North Carolina, Elaine Marshall (D) and Cal Cunningham (D) face off to see who will challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in the fall.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley (R) takes on Gresham Barrett (R) for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Also of note is the runoff in the 4th congressional district where Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) could be the next incumbent to lose renomination.

In Utah, Mike Lee (R) and Tim Bridgewater (R) face off in what’s technically a primary, but it’s really just a run-off between the top-two finishers from the state Republican convention which ousted Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT).

Orszag to Leave Cabinet

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag plans to leave President Obama’s Cabinet in July, before the White House begins preparing its next budget, Bloombergreports.

“Orszag considered leaving his post as director of the Office of Management and Budget in April and stayed on after an appeal from the president, the officials… Orszag’s decision to leave this summer will accelerate the process of picking a successor.”

Grayson’s Tea Party Plant?

One of Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL) pollsters “is running for the state House in Florida as a Tea Party candidate, fueling Republican suspicions that the Democratic Congressman is using a newly formed third party to boost his own re-election bid,”Roll Call reports.

Emanuel Traded Favors with Blagojevich

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman in Illinois, “apparently attempted to trade favors with embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich while he was in office,” according to newly disclosed e-mails obtained by theAssociated Press.

Kirk Runs from the Media

After a campaign appearance today, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) “literally ran out the hotel door, rather than answer questions about a host of recent reports that he repeatedly has exaggerated his experience and credentials,” Crain’s Chicago Business reports.

“With media in hot pursuit, he raced through a Hyatt kitchen and into the back seat of a black SUV — I believe it was a Cadillac Escalade — which instantly pealed out.”

Secret Service Has No Record of Alleged Bush Poisoning

In her memoir, Laura Bush claimed “that she, Mr. Bush, and several members of their staff may have been poisoned during a visit to Germany for a G8 Summit. They all became mysteriously sick, and the president was bedridden for part of the trip.”

However, there’s no record of the episode ever happening.

Yahoo! News “filed a Freedom of Information Act request looking for any documents — e-mails, investigation reports, incident reports, etc. — related to the alleged incident. In reply, the Secret Service informed us today that ‘a review of [our] systems of records indicates that there are no records or documents pertaining to your request in [our] files.'”

Kagan Praised Bork Hearings

video of Elena Kagan in 1997 shows the Supreme Court nominee praising the contentious confirmation hearings that ultimately killed Robert Bork’s nomination to the nation’s highest court.

Said Kagan: “The Bork hearings were great, the Bork hearings were educational. The Bork hearings were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy.”

Kagan’s confirmation hearings begin next week.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think Joe Barton was spot-on when he called it a shakedown… They want to swallow up as many Fortune 500 companies as they can.”

— Rep. Steve King (R-IA), in an interview with Laura Ingraham, on Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to oil giant BP.

Hayworth Pitched “Free Money” Seminars

Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who is running for U.S. Senate, “appeared in a 2007 television infomercial in which he helped convince viewers that they could rake in big bucks by attending seminars that would teach them how to apply for federal grants that they wouldn’t have to pay back,” the Arizona Republic reports.

The video featuring Hayworth — and how make “fortunes with foreclosures” — is priceless.

See more…

Fired RNC Chief Got Big Payout

The short-lived RNC chief of staff, Ken McKay, received more than $100,000 when he was fired, Ben Smith reports.

The $102,916 is more than half of McKay’s annualized salary after holding the the job for roughly a year.

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