POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/25

Scarborough for President?

Marc Ambinder: “Joe Scarborough, former congressman from Florida and co-host of MSNBC’s agenda-setting wake-up show Morning Joe, has protested, kindly and loudly (he is kind and loud), when speculation arises about his presidential ambitions. He points out that MSNBC is not the platform a conservative would use to build street credentials among his base. He insists he enjoys his current job, turning down entreaties from Republicans to run for Senate by noting that he has more influence as a broadcaster than as a member of the saucer cooler. Nonetheless, a studio apartment industry has arisen of conservatives who think that Scarborough might just be the type of Republican who can be successful in the future.”

“Scarborough describes himself as a conservative with libertarian leanings. He’s a fiscal hawk who cares more about the debt because it’s a genuine burden than because it’s an opportunity to prevent liberals from spending. He is not a denialist. He doesn’t traffic in fear-based politics. He doesn’t like cant, and has been trained, as an off-the-cuff broadcaster, to speak more like the normal person he is than the politician he once was. ”

Odds Grow that Democrats Could Lose Senate

Nate Silver‘s latest Senate forecast shows the Democratic majority in increasing jeopardy.

The simulation finds Democrats now have an approximately 20% chance of losing 10 or more seats in the Senate which would cost them control of the chamber — unless Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wins his race and decides to caucus with them.

On average, Democrats are projected to lose a net of six and a half Senate seats, which would leave them with 52 or 53 senators.

Hickenlooper Leads Three-Way Colorado Race

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Colorado shows Tom Tancredo (I) “appears to be playing a spoiler’s role” in the race for governor.

John Hickenlooper (D) leads Dan Maes (R) among likely voters, 41% to 33%, with Tancredo at 16%. Without Tancredo in the race, Maes and Hickenlooper would be tied at 45% each.

Buck Leads for Senate in Colorado

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Colorado shows Ken Buck (R) leading Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 40%.

A Glimpse Into the Kennedy Wealth

Little is known about the Kennedy family fortune, but WPRI-TV notes recently-filed financial disclosure forms from Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) shows he “will retire from Congress a much wealthier man after receiving a multimillion-dollar inheritance from his father, the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died a year ago today.”

The disclosure “shows Kennedy’s net worth rose last year to more than $6 million, and likely much more than that, according to an analysis by Eyewitness News. His annual income from dividends and other sources was more than $205,006, on top of his congressional salary of $174,000.”

Candidate Proposes Marriage During Debate

Chris Young (D) — the strange mayoral candidate who decided to sing during a recent interview — was “relatively well-behaved” in last night’s debate.

But Ted Nesi at WPRI-TV notes he “managed to steal the show toward the end when he used his closing statement to propose marriage to Kara Russo, his campaign manager and longtime companion.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“In the normal course of events, political movements begin as intellectual arguments, often conducted for years in serious books and journals. To study the Tea Party movement, future scholars will sift through the collected tweets of Sarah Palin.”

— Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, in a Washington Post op-ed, on why the Tea Party is “toxic” for Republicans.

Daniels Insists He’s Not Running for President

In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) said he is not planning for to run for president in 2012.

“Daniels said he is not interested in the post, is not raising money for such a campaign and has not spent much time outside of Indiana. He said all are proof that he is not running.”

Baucus Didn’t Read Health Care Bill

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) one of the main authors of the new health care law, admitted in a Montana town hall meeting that he did not read the entire 2,400 page piece of legislation, according to the Flathead Beacon.

Said Baucus: “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health care bill. You know why? It’s statutory language. We hire experts.”

To anyone who has worked in the U.S. Senate this is not at all surprising but the politics of this line of attack has dogged Democrats for months.

Sinks Starts with Lead in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows Alex Sink (D) leading Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 41% to 34%, with independent Bud Chiles (I) at 8%.

“Sink is doing well because she has a higher degree of party unity than Scott does and because she’s the favorite with independents. 72% of Democrats say they’ll vote for Sink while only 57% of Republicans are committed to voting for Scott. Sink also has a 37-28 advantage with independents.”

Key finding: “Scott has dreadful personal favorability numbers with 49% of voters holding an unfavorable opinion of him while only 28% see him favorably. His numbers are even worse with independents than they are with the population at large — a 54% majority of them see him in a negative light.”

Quote of the Day

“We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!”

— Former Sen, Alan Simpson (R), describing Social Security in “an unsolicited and hilariously ill-tempered email to a critic, who’d accused him of sexism and of insensitivity to poverty among seniors.”

Coffee with the Candidates

This interview with Providence, RI mayoral candidate Chris Young (D) cannot possibly help his campaign.

See more…

Tea Party Senate?

If Joe Miller (R) ends up beating Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska — a result that won’t be known until absentee ballots are counted over the next week — he would become the fifth Tea Party candidate to win a Republican U.S. Senate primary this year, joining Mike Lee in Utah, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Ken Buck in Colorado.

First Read: “Perhaps one of the most underreported stories heading into November is what the U.S. Senate — the world’s greatest deliberative body — would look like next year with these Tea Partiers as members. Bennett and Murkowski were known as Republicans who would cut deals. But what happens when you replace these folks with Lee or Miller? Then again, partisans on both the left and right want to blow up the Senate, so they very might get their wish.”

Channeling Anger

With several upsets in last night’s primary results, First Read notes “these results tell us something very significant about American politics right now: The candidates who are channeling the public’s anger best are winning, especially on the GOP side. One observer put it this way: If 2008 was about hope, then 2010 might be about fear.”

“In fact, this explains why someone like John McCain cruised to victory last night in Arizona and Murkowski didn’t. McCain — though it meant reversing himself on some key issues like immigration — picked up the pitchfork and channeled the growing anger on the right. Murkowski, on the other hand, touted her record and what she had done for Alaska. Indeed, how McCain ran his campaign could very well be a model for Democrats or any troubled incumbent in November: go negative and peel the paint off of your opponent. Incumbents who run on what they’ve done in D.C. and for their constituents back home are wasting their time and money.”

A Stunning Upset in Alaska?

With all but nine precincts reporting in the Alaska Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Sarah Palin and Tea Party Express candidate Joe Miller (R) is leading incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) by 2,000 votes, a result that no recent pollshad suggested was possible.

The Hill: “Miller appears on the verge of a stunning upset in Alaska’s Republican Senate primary but the race has not been officially called and could be headed for a recount.
.. With the margin so close and absentee ballots coming in until September 8th, it could hold up final results.”

The Hotline: “A Miller win would surpass Rick Scott’s in the FL GOV primary as the most stunning of the night. Miller had been written off by most pundits thanks to surveys that showed him trailing Murkowski by significant margins. Murkowski had a significant cash advantage over Miller and used it, advertising on radio and TV during the primary.”

The Anchorage Daily News has the latest tally.

Too Close to Call in Vermont

A five-way race for the Democratic nomination for governor is still too close to call, “matching all the speculation that nearly anything could happen in this extraordinary election,” the Burlington Free Press reports.

Peter Shumlin (D) clings to a razor-thin margin over Doug Racine (D) by just 121 votes.

The Brattleboro Reformer notes that if the race comes down to a recount, which seems likely, “it may not be resolved until September.”

O’Malley Holds Edge in Rematch for Governor

A new Opinion Works survey in Maryland shows Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) leading former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) in their rematch for governor, 47% to 41%.

Democrats Hold Big Leads for Hawaii Governor

A new Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll shows former Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D) and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (D) might be in a close race for the Democratic nomination, but both Democrats hold a big lead over Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona (R) in hypothetical general election match ups.

Hannemann leads Aiona, 54% to 37%, while Abercrombie leads 53% to 41%.

Primary Results

Florida: Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) decisively won his U.S. Senate primary against self-funded challenger Jeff Greene (D). He will face a three-way race with Marco Rubio (R) and Gov. Charlie Crist (I).

In a much closer-than-expected race, Rick Scott (R) beat Bill McCollum (R) in the GOP gubernatorial primary. He will face Alex Sink (D) and Bud Chiles (I) in the general election. One caveat: McCollum has refused to concede.

Arizona: Sen. John McCain (R) defeated former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) in the U.S. Senate primary.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“The answer to that question is not going to come from me. It’s going to come from the results of 2010. It’s going to come from campaigns that are run across the country and the platform that candidates run on and people who get elected and go to Washington.”

–Marco Rubio, in a New York Times interview, when asked who the leaders are in the Republican Party.

Inhofe Blasts McCain as “Closet Liberal”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) attacked fellow Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as a closet liberal who “gets elected because of one thing — earmarks,” Tulsa World reports.

Specifically, Inhofe was criticizing McCain’s opposition to earmarks, which Inhofe said are simply appropriations.

Evidently, the Eleventh Commandment doesn’t seem to be enforced much anymore.

Republicans Maintain Edge in Midterm Elections

The latest Gallup tracking poll shows Republicans leading in the generic congressional ballot, 47% to 44%. The GOP has held an advantage each of the past four weeks, the first time either party has done so this year.

Key point: “The consistent Republican advantages are also notable from a historical perspective. In Gallup’s 60-year history of asking the generic ballot question, it is rare for the Republicans to be ahead among all registered voters.”

Hagel for Defense Secretary?

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-NE) endorsement this week of Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania could be a reminder to the White House about his very loose ties to the Republican party as they look for a replacement for Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Chris Cillizza: “Hagel has made no secret of his interest in serving in the Obama Administration… Hagel is rightly understood as trying out for a Cabinet job and the more he can show a willingness to put party aside to do what he believes is the right thing, the more attractive he will be to President Obama and his inner circle.”

Ben Smith: “Hagel would provide some of the same political cover as Gates, shielding Obama if Petraeus or the generals complain about a lack of White House commitment to Afghanistan or other defense issues. And he has other assets. Being one of the Senate club might ensure an easy confirmation. He’s also ideologically in sync with Obama, to a degree at least: He opposed the war in Iraq, has spoken of the need to leave Afghanistan, and — though this is hazier territory — has infuriated supporters of Israel for a refusal to sign on to the many statements of support on the Hill for the Jewish State, and by suggesting the more dispassionate approach to that conflict that — on some days — Obama seems to prefer.”

Americans Split On Letting Tax Cuts Expire

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Americans are closely divided over extending the Bush era tax cuts. The poll found 49% favored extending all of Bush’s tax cuts — even for the wealthiest — while 46% favored letting them expire at the end of this year for all or some Americans.

Said pollster Cliff Young: “Americans want to have their cake and eat it too. They want tax cuts on the one hand but they want to reduce the budget on the other.”

First Read notes how Republicans leaders “haven’t had an easy time reconciling their pursuit to extend the Bush tax cuts — even for families earning more than $250,000 per year — with their stated desire to also reduce the size of the deficit.”

Stimulus Prevented Economic Slide

“The massive stimulus package boosted real GDP by up to 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and put up to 3.3 million people to work,” Reuters reports.

“CBO’s latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June of this year.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Being an independent is very liberating and refreshing. I’m really looking forward to voting for some great judges today.”

— Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), quoted by the St. Petersburg Times, on today’s primaries in Florida.

Greene Booted from Restaurant

U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene (D) was kicked out of a South Carolina restaurant by police after his companion got into a fight with people eating there, the AP reports.

Support for Offshore Oil Drilling Rises

It doesn’t look like the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused a major, lasting shift in public opinion about offshore oil drilling.

A series of new polls from Public Policy Polling show support for drilling on the rise once again in Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

Outside Groups Prepare for Ad Blitz

“More than a dozen political groups have organized in recent weeks to spend large amounts of money on attack ads against House and Senate candidates as special interests on the left and right play a larger role in midterm races,” USA Todayreports.

“Recent federal court rulings allow outside groups to collect unlimited corporate and union cash and spend it on independent ads that call for the election or defeat of candidates. Such activity had been illegal until earlier this year. In many cases, the public will not know who has funded the ads until long after they have aired.”

No Longer Fringe

RNC new-media director Todd Herman tweeted: “Is @BarackObama amongst the 20% who think he’s Muslim?”

Ben Smith: “Republicans appear increasingly to have concluded that poking at the allegation that Obama is a Muslim is less likely to blow up in their faces than they used to think.”

Rubio Leads in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida finds Democrats will get their stronger candidate if Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) wins the Florida U.S. Senate primary tonight as expected, but the biggest winner coming out of the primary may be Marco Rubio (R).

Rubio leads a general election match up with 40%, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist (I) at 32%, and Meek at 17%. If Jeff Greene (D) were somehow able to pull off the upset tonight it would be much closer with Rubio at 37%, Crist at 36%, and Greene at only 13%.

Key point: “Crist’s support continues to show an awkward balance that may ultimately make victory for him impossible. 57% of those planning to vote for him if Meek is the nominee think he should caucus with the Democrats in the Senate if elected while 28% think he should side with the Republicans. He’s more likely to find the additional support he needs to get elected from Democrats than Republicans, but can he do that without losing the 20% of Republicans who are still with him?”

Housing Market Plummets

“Existing-home sales plunged to their lowest level in 15 years in July as inventories soared, painting a grim picture for the housing market absent government support,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Mark Halperin: “At what point does so much consistently bad economic news force the White House and/or congressional Democrats to change their message?”

Masschusetts Democrats Prepare to Take On Brown

The Hill reports Massachusetts Democrats are building up their campaign war chests for a possible showdown with Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in 2012.

“Former Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA) has almost $4.9 million cash on hand, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) has $3.3 million, according to Federal Election Commission records. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) has $1.5 million, and Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) has $1.3 million. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), who was defeated by Martha Coakley in the 2009 Senate Democratic primary, has only $15,000 on hand.”

Interestingly, Brown “has also been busy raising funds, amassing more than $6 million in his war chest.”

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