POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/18

Traylor Could Force Vitter into a Run Off

A new Market Research Institute poll in Louisiana shows primary challenger Chet Traylor (R) could stop Sen. David Vitter (R) from capturing the GOP nomination in Aug. 28 primary election.

Vitter leads Traylor, 46% to 34% with 21% still undecided, but below the 50% he would need to avoid a run off.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Let us be clear about one thing: The tea party movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party, but a hostile takeover of it.”

— Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) and Matt Kibbe, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Forecast Says GOP Takeover More Likely

The Cook Political Report raised its House forecast “from a Republican net gain of between 32 and 42 seats to a gain of between 35 and 45 seats, with the odds of an outcome larger than that range greater than the odds of a lesser outcome.”

Republicans would need a net turnover of 39 seats to take control of the chamber.

“At this point, only 214 House seats are Solid, Likely or Lean Democratic, while 181 seats are Solid, Likely or Lean Republican, and 40 seats are in the Toss Up column. While this would imply an advantage for Democrats, given the continuous erosion we have seen in dozens of contests so far this cycle, races shifting from Solid and Likely Democrat to Lean Democratic and Toss Up, we would be surprised if there was not more movement over the 78 days from now until Election Day.”

Candidate Claims Sunspots are Behind Climate Change

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson (R) claimed “extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as many scientists believe.”

Said Johnson: “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination… It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time.”

He also insisted excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow.”

Blunt Leading Carnahan in Missouri

A new DailyKos/Public Policy Polling survey in Missouri shows Roy Blunt (R) beating Robin Carnahan (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 38%.

Giannoulias Holds Edge Over Kirk

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Illinois finds Alexi Giannoulias (D) edging Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 37% to 35%, with Green party candidate LeAlan Jones at 9%.

Most interesting finding: “Both candidates continue to be very unpopular. Giannoulias’ favorability is 26/42 and Kirk’s is 26/34. Independents have a negative opinion of both of them, and each of them is viewed more unfavorably by voters of the opposite party than they are favorably by their own party base.”

Blagojevich Guilty on Just One Count

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on one count of giving a false statement to federal agents but the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on the other 23 counts, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Said Blagovevich: “This was a persecution. They threw everything they could at me. The jury agreed the government did not prove its case.”

The judge said he intends to declare a mistrial on the undecided counts, however, federal prosecutors told the judge it is “absolutely our intention to retry this” until there is a conclusion.

Toomey Leads Sestak in Pennsylvania

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Pennsylvania finds Pat Toomey (R) leading Joe Sestak (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 36%.

“This is our first poll of the race explicitly surveying likely voters and given the considerably greater enthusiasm on the Republican side we’re seeing an electorate in the state that voted for John McCain by a point in 2008, in contrast to Barack Obama’s actual 10 point victory in the state. ”

A new Rasmussen survey shows Toomey leading 46% to 37%.

Quote of the Day

“The new politics — it’s no longer good enough to beat you on policy. They have to completely drown you and put you in prison and destroy your family and your reputation and finances, then dance on your grave.”

— Former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), quoted by the New York Times, on the Justice Department dropping a corruption investigation into his dealings with a former lobbyist.

Gates Will Leave Next Year

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to leave his post in the spring of 2011,CNN reports.

“According to the senior administration official, Gates privately promised President Barack Obama he would not leave the Cabinet in 2010 in order to maintain stability at the Pentagon while more U.S. forces are heading to Afghanistan. In addition, the senior official said, Gates does not want a potentially difficult confirmation battle for his successor to take place in the presidential election year of 2012.”

Fox News Parent Gives Big Donation to Republicans

The corporate parent of Fox News gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association this year, Bloomberg reports.

Ben Smith: “The company’s media outlets play politics more openly than most, but the huge contribution to a party committee is a new step toward an open identification between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the GOP.”

Yearning for George W. Bush

Peter Beinart: “Words I never thought I’d write: I pine for George W. Bush. Whatever his flaws, the man respected religion, all religion. Maybe it was because he had been an addict himself, and knew from hanging around prisons that Allah had saved as many broken souls as Jesus Christ. Until a month or so ago, I genuinely believed that the American right had become a religiously ecumenical place. Right-wing Baptists loved right-wing Catholics and they both loved right-wing Orthodox Jews. All you had to do to join the big tent was denounce feminists, Hollywood, and gays. But when push came to shove, Sarah Palin didn’t care about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s position on gay marriage. In today’s GOP, even bigotry doesn’t spare you from bigotry. I wonder what Mitt Romney was thinking, as he added his voice to the anti-Muslim chorus. He surely knows that absent the religious right’s hostility to Mormons, he’d likely have been the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee. I look forward to his paeans to religious freedom when anti-Mormonism rears its head again in 2012.”

House Republicans Pick Their Targets

“The GOP blueprint for winning control of the House is rapidly coming into focus, with the National Republican Congressional Committee readying a $22 million TV ad blitz aimed at a handful of powerful, long-serving incumbents and several dozen of the most junior members of the Democratic majority,” Politico reports.

The Republican campaign arm “will invest in 40 districts around the nation in its first wave of television commercial reservations.”

First Read: “But this also underscores the GOP’s challenge in picking up the net 39 House seats it needs to take back the House in November: Because Republicans likely aren’t going to win in all of these 40 districts, they’re banking on outside groups — and, more importantly, a wave — to win control of the House.”

The Hotline: “Having more money – as the Dems do – is always better than having less. But if you look at how much the NRCC is planning to spend per race compared to the DCCC, they are approaching parity.”

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