POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/21

Paul Maintains Edge in Kentucky

A new Rasmussen poll in Kentucky finds Rand Paul (R) leading Jack Conway in their U.S. Senate race by eight points, 49% to 41%.

The result is essentially unchanged from last month’s poll.

Vitter Challenger Has His Own Ethical Baggage

Chet Traylor (R) made no secret he is challenging Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in a primary for U.S. Senate because of the senator’s “personal foibles” — including a 2007 prostitution scandal and his continued employment of an aide accused of attacking his girlfriend with a knife in 2008.

But the Monroe News-Star reports Traylor “has his own ethical questions that could threaten the upstanding image his campaign has opted to present.”

Most interesting is his complicated romantic history, including allegations of affairs with two married women. Traylor is also currently involved in a romantic relationship with the estranged wife of his stepson.

Sandoval Way Ahead in Nevada

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Nevada finds essentially the same thing as most other recent polls: Brian Sandoval (R) has a big lead over Rory Reid (D), 52% to 38%.

Key finding: “Sandoval has some of the best favorability numbers PPP has found for any candidate in the country this cycle. 42% of voters see him positively to only 31% with an unfavorable opinion. Independents, who don’t like much of anyone right now, give him positive numbers by a 39/31 margin.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons from this whole experience… perhaps the biggest lesson is that I talk too much.”

— Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, explaining why he won’t testify at his corruption trial.

See more…

Manchin Gets Primary Challenger

Former West Virginia Secretary of State Ken Hechler (D) — who at 95 is three years older than Sen. Robert Byrd (D) at the time of his death — has filed to run in his party’s U.S. Senate primary against Gov. Joe Manchin (D), Politico reports.

Democrats Not Releasing Internal Polls

The Hotline notes from FEC reports that nearly two dozen House Democrats commissioned polls over the last 3 months but the results weren’t made public — “leaving some Republicans to believe incumbents are beginning to run scared.”

Candidates “will frequently release polls when doing so would help boost fundraising or drive a favorable narrative about their race. As rumors fly almost daily about another internal survey that shows an incumbent in tenuous position, Dems leaving some surveys unreported makes GOPers believe those polls show bad news.”

Giving Credit to Palin

Jim Galloway credits Sarah Palin with boosting Karen Handel (R) to a first place finish in yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia.

“With a simple Facebook posting nine days ago, and a 30-second message sent to telephones in 400,000 Republican households, Palin served as both sword and shield for Karen Handel — boosting the former secretary of state to the top rung in a GOP runoff for governor. It may have been the most efficient and impressive use of political celebrity this state has ever seen, made on behalf of a woman whose views sometimes mirror those of the former Alaskan governor — but not always.”

Obama Signs Wall Street Reform Bill

President Obama signed into law a sweeping package of Wall Street reforms adding to his list of impressive legislative accomplishments. The signing marks the conclusion of more than a year of effort to craft a legislative response to the 2008 financial crisis.

Wall Street Journal: “The wide-ranging law will touch every corner of the financial universe, curtailing certain risky activities of the nation’s largest finacial firms, affecting how average Americans obtain credit cards and mortgages, and transforming the way regulators work to assess and respond to potential flash points in the economy.”

Because of the law, Obama insisted “the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period.”

Sink Leads in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows Alex Sink (D) has opened up “an unlikely lead” in the race for governor.

Sink leads Rick Scott (R), 36% to 30%, with Bud Chiles (I) getting 13%. She also leads Bill McCollum, 37% to 23% with Chiles at 14%.

Key factor: “Scott and McCollum both have very poor favorability numbers. Their primary battle has completely turned off Democrats and independents, and Republicans aren’t seeing them very positively either.”

CNN Gets Spitzer for Bargain Price

New York Post: “Eliot Spitzer was so desperate to be on TV, he accepted a contract from CNN for less than $1 million to host a prime-time, 8 p.m. show. A source says he’s making closer to $500,000 than $1 million, as is his co-host, Kathleen Parker… Insiders say CNN isn’t spending a lot on talent for the 8 p.m. show because its chances for success are slim.”

Palin Ripped in Front Page Editorial

The publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader blasts Sarah Palin’sendorsement of Kelly Ayote (R) in the state’s U.S. Senate race.

“Palin isn’t making these endorsements because, as she claims, she has spent time in New Hampshire and thus knows that the people here are a lot like Alaskans. She spent a few hours here on one day during the 2008 Presidential election. That’s still more time than she spent getting to know Ayotte, but it takes quite a bit longer to know New Hampshire… Don’t fret over what a ‘Mama Grizzly‘ from Alaska does. Right now, Granite Staters have more to worry about in keeping bears away from bird feeders.”

FEC Could Open Floodgates to New Money

Rick Hasen reports that a draft FEC advisory opinion — which is likely to pass without even a meeting or public discussion — “is going to make it much more likely that the public will be unaware of the identity of corporate and union backers of campaign ads.”

Since the Supreme Court decision earlier this year to roll back contribution limits “a few more dominoes had to fall before I’d expect a flood of new money into elections. This is one big domino.”

So Much for that Conversation on Race

Ben Smith: “The election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was supposed to be a sign of our national maturity, a chance to transform the charged, stilted ‘national conversation’ about race into a smarter and more authentic dialogue, led by a president who was also one of the nation’s subtlest thinkers and writers on the topic.”

“Instead, the conversation just got dumber.”

Republicans Hold Lead in Generic Ballot

It’s worth noting that today’s Quinnipiac Poll shows Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot by five points, 43% to 38%. Among independents, the GOP lead is 15 points.

It’s increasingly likely that the Gallup survey released earlier this week that showed Democrats jumping into the lead is an outlier.

Steele Accused of Hiding RNC Debts

The RNC failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the FEC in recent months — “a move that made its bottom line appear healthier than it is heading into the midterm elections and that also raises the prospect of a hefty fine,” the Washington Times reports.

RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen accused Chairman Michael Steele “of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer — a charge RNC officials deny.” Pullen said that he “had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC.”

The Hotline notes Pullen’s allegations “are sure to incite fireworks” at the party’s August meeting. “Both Steele and Pullen have allies on the party’s budget committee, where influential members of the RNC often find themselves. The proxy battle between the 2 is likely to dominate the gathering in Kansas City.”

Quote of the Day

“It’s almost mathematically impossible to win a race with seven candidates involved, and I was humbled and overwhelmed by it.”

— Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D), quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, on receiving 66% of the vote in Democratic gubernatorial primary to avoid a runoff. He’ll face either Karen Handel (R) or Nathan Deal (R) in the general election.

Capito Will Not Run for Senate

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) has decided she will not run to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), three sources familiar with her plans told The Fix.

Capito was the favorite on the Republican side, and state legislators gained aconcession in a special-election bill passed earlier this week that would have allowed her to run for both reelection and in the Senate race at the same time.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) announced yesterday that he’ll be a candidate for the Democratic nomination.

Obama Approval Drops to Lowest Point

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Obama’s job approval rating has dropped to 44%, his worst net score ever, and American voters say by a narrow 39% to 36% that they would vote for an unnamed Republican rather than Obama in 2012.

By a 48% to 40% margin, Americans say Obama does not deserve reelection in 2012.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “It was a year ago, during the summer of 2009 that America’s love affair with President Obama began to wane. In July of 2009, the President had a 57% to 33% approval rating. Today, his support among Democrats remains strong, but the disillusionment among independent voters, who dropped from 52% to 37% approval to 52% to 38% disapproval in the last 12 months, is what leads to his weakness overall when voters start thinking about 2012.”

Perriello Way Behind Challenger in Re-Election Bid

A new SurveyUSA poll in Virginia’s 5th congressional district shows Robert Hurt (R) beating Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) by a huge margin, 58% to 35%.

Perriello barely beat 6-term Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) in 2008 and now trails among most demographic groups.

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