POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/13

Very Close Race for Maryland Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Maryland finds what nearly every other recent survey shows: a very tight race for governor.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) holds a small lead over former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R), 45% to 42%.

Lew Picked as Next Budget Director

Jack Lew, a top adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will replace Peter Orszag as head of the Office of Management and Budget, the Washington Postreports.

Lew held the same job in the Clinton administration.

Jonathan Cohn: “The Obama inner circle is not full of people like him. Most of Obama’s closest advisers are operatives and strategists — that is, people who focus on how to communicate, how to push proposals through Congress, and how to win elections. Although the president needs people like that around him, he also needs people with strong beliefs about policy. Advisers like Larry Summers have that, as does the president himself. But I tend to think the upper ranks would benefit from one more wonkish voice.”

Palin’s Own Rules

Michelle Cottle makes a good point about Sarah Palin’s unconventional media strategy.

“The most obvious element at work here is that Palin operates not as a politician but as a celebrity… The rules are different for celebrities: Palin’s megawattage enables her to command attention for every word and gesture, even as she largely stiff-armsThe New York Times and Meet the Press. Similarly, candidates desperate for her endorsement are unlikely to (publicly) whine about whatever attention she dribbles their way, no matter how arbitrary or last-minute.”

“Of course, unlike other categories of the rich and famous, political celebs (especially populist firebrands) cannot risk being seen as remote or out of touch. But here’s where Palin’s embrace of new media saves the day. Her perky, quirky tweets and chatty Facebook items make her fans feel as though they have a direct line to her–despite the oft-voiced assumption that Palin (like so many pols) does not write most (if any) of her own Facebook posts. Such is the beauty of social networking: It allows a public figure to avoid direct interaction with the public while promoting the illusion of personal connection and involvement.”

Zuckerman’s Curious Claim

Real Estate and media mogul Mort Zuckerman raised eyebrows when suggested onFox News that he “helped write” one of President Obama’s speeches. His subsequent refusal to elaborate was especially curious.

Ben Smith notes that neither of the president’s speechwriters, Jon Favreau and Ben Rhodes, have “ever met or spoken” to Zuckerman and the two have “been closely involved in every speech the President has given since 2005.”

McInnis Caught Plagiarizing Essay

Although Colorado gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis (R) presented his “Musings on Water” for publication as original works, the Denver Post notes “portions are identical and nearly identical to an essay on water written 20 years earlier by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs.”

“A Clemson University expert who reviewed McInnis’ work next to Hobbs’ essay called it a clear case of plagiarism of both words and ideas.”

Another Change Election?

First Read: “From 1996 through 2004, American politics barely changed. We lived in a 50-50 nation, with one party picking up/losing just a handful of congressional seats per cycle, and with the presidential contests decided by razor-thin margins or the winner not getting 50%. It was like a WWI battle — so much blood, sweat, and money spent for a few inches of political change. But that wasn’t the case in 2006 (when Democrats won back the House and Senate) or in 2008 (when Obama won decisively in the presidential election, and Dems picked up many more House and Senate seats). And this year, we could be headed for our third-straight change election.”

Vitter Supports Lawsuits Over Obama Citizenship

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) says he supports lawsuits challenging President Obama’s citizenship in court, the AP reports.

Vitter made the comments at a town hall event — which were caught on video — and with the crowd applauding the question, Vitter responded that although he doesn’t personally have legal standing to bring litigation, he supports “conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court.”

Said Vitter: “I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it.”

Gingrich Teases White House Bid Again

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he’s seriously considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination and will announce his decision early next year, the AP reports.

Said Gingrich: “I’ve never been this serious. It’s fair to say that by February the groundwork will have been laid to consider seriously whether or not to run.”

Runoff in Alabama Today

Bradley Byrne (R), who has the backing of the GOP establishment, faces Robert Bentley (R) in a runoff today for the Republican nomination to challenge Ron Sparks (D) in the race for governor.

“Both men claim leads in opinion polls going into today’s vote,” the Birmingham News reports. “Byrne, who raised and spent more money than any candidate in the race, was the leading vote-getter among GOP candidates for governor in the June 1 primary. Bentley shocked many in the political establishment by narrowly taking second place over Tim James, who heavily outspent him.”

Huntsville Times: “Most years, well over half of Alabama voters who show up for the primary stay home for the runoff. But state voting records reveal an exception to this rule, one that may suggest a larger than expected turnout for today’s election.”

Bachmann Holds Lead for Re-Election

A new SurveyUSA poll in Minnesota’s 6th congressional district finds Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) with a lead over challenger Tarryl Clark (D), 48% to 39%.

Key finding: There is a striking 33-point gender gap with Bachmann ahead by 25 points among male likely voters.

Confidence in Obama Hits New Low

Public confidence in President Obama has hit a new low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Key finding: 58% say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country, and a clear majority once again disapproves of how he is dealing with the economy.

Nonetheless, regard for Obama is still higher than it is for members of Congress, but the gap has narrowed: 68% of voters say they lack confidence in Democratic lawmakers and 72% say so of Republican lawmakers.

Such broad negative sentiments have spurred a potent anti-incumbent mood. Just 26% of registered voters say they are inclined to support their representative in the House this fall; 62% are inclined to look for someone new.

Those most likely to vote in the midterm election prefer Republicans over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56% to 41%.

Corbett Leads Onorato for Pennsylvania Governor

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Corbett (R) leading Dan Onorato (D) in the race for governor, 44% to 37%.

Key finding: Pennsylvania voters disapprove 50% to 42% of the job Gov. Ed Rendell (D) is doing. Voters also say 55% to 32% they don’t want the next governor to continue Rendell’s policies.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “The sour taste that Gov. Ed Rendell has left in voters’ mouths is probably not helpful to Onorato.”

Fiorina in Tight Race with Boxer

A new SurveyUSA poll in California finds Carly Fiorina (R) edging Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 45%, a lead which is within the poll’s four point margin of error.

Key finding: The poll found twice as many Democrats cross-over to vote Republican as Republicans who cross-over to vote Democrat in the race.

Whitman Leads in California

A new SurveyUSA poll in California finds Meg Whitman (R) leading Jerry Brown (D) by seven points among likely voters in the race for governor, 46% to 39%.

Key finding: Whitman gets 77% of Republican voters, while Brown gets the support of 64% of Democrats. Independents break by a 5-4 margin for Whitman.

Will Palin Run?

Marc Ambinder takes a smart look at the latest round of speculation about whether Sarah Palin will run for president.

What she’s doing: “She’s been building the foundation for an online, grassroots-oriented national campaign… She’s been traveling and meeting many, many Republicans across many states… She’s brand-testing… She’s keeping her distance from Republicans in power… She’s made strategic endorsements.”

What she’s not doing: “She hasn’t been recruiting fundraisers, or staff members, or activists… She hasn’t been extending her brand.”

“The upshot for political pundits is that as much as we want to predict whether Palin will run, or whether she’ll be viable when she runs, we don’t have the data and probably won’t until events start to happen.”

Diversity on the Bench

Philadelphia Inquirer: “So far, nearly half of Obama’s 73 appointments to the federal bench have been women, 25 percent have been African American, 11 percent Asian American, and 10 percent Hispanic. About 30 percent of Obama’s nominees were white males. By contrast, two-thirds of George W. Bush’s nominees were white males.”

“Obama’s rate of appointing women and people of color is higher than those of any of his predecessors during the first year of their terms.”

Sotomayor Memoir Coming

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will write a memoir to be published by Alfred A. Knopf, the New York Times reports.

The “coming-of-age memoir by an American daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants” does not yet have a publication date or a title, and the financial terms of the agreement are unknown.

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