POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/31

Dead Heat in Minnesota

A new MPR News/Humphrey Institute poll in Minnesota shows Mark Dayton (D) and Tom Emmer (R) running neck and neck in the race for governor.

Emmer and Dayton are deadlocked each with 34% support, while Independence Party candidate Tom Horner had 13%.

Traficant Has the Signatures to Run

Less than a year after being released from prison, former Rep. Jim Traficant secured enough petition signatures to run for his old House seat this fall as an independent.

CQ Politics: “The district, which Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan currently represents, includes much of the Mahoning Valley constituency that Traficant represented from 1985 until his expulsion from the House in 2002 on corruption charges. That was three months after a federal court convicted him of 10 counts of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion. He was released from prison in September 2009.”

Palin Will Visit Iowa

Well-placed sources tell The Iowa Republican that Sarah Palin “is slated to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Iowa’s Ronald Reagan Dinner on Friday, September 17th. The state party is slated to release more details about the event tomorrow.”

“The visit would be Palin’s first visit to Iowa since making a brief stop in the state in December of 2009 for a book signing. The visit to the First-In-The-Nation Caucus state is certain to create buzz about a potential run for president in 2012.”

GOP Takes Unprecedented Lead in Generic Ballot

The latest Gallup tracking poll finds Republicans lead by 10 points in the generic congressional ballot among registered voters, 51% to 41%.

It’s the GOP’s lead is the largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup’s history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.

This could look much worse for Democrats among likely voters assuming there is the same enthusiasm gap others polls have found.

Could Castle Be Next?

The Tea Party Express, “which spent some $600,000 to aid Alaska Republican Joe Miller’s primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), says it’s preparing to do the same on behalf of Christine O’Donnell (R) in Delaware,” The Hill reports.

“O’Donnell is challenging Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) from the right in the state’s September 14 Senate primary, but she has yet to capture the same kind of attention from conservative activists as other Tea Party-backed candidates have this cycle.”

Tom Jensen gives some reasons why — and why not — O’Donnell might be able to pull off an upset.

Ford Closes Door on Tennessee Politics

The Tennessean reviews former Rep. Harold Ford’s (D-TN) new book, More Davids Than Goliaths: A Political Education, and concludes it is “an attempt to define, and to some extent, close the door on the first chapter of a life spent as a full-time politician and the scion of one of Tennessee’s most powerful, and at times scandalous, political families.”

In fact, Ford “makes clear as the book closes that he and his wife, Emily, consider New York City home” and that returning to Tennessee to run again for statewide office is probably not an option.

Ford confirmed as much in an interview from New York: “If I do run for public office, I trust we are going to live here. If there is an elected political future, I suspect it will be here. I am not plotting a race or assembling a political team.”

Capital Offense

Here’s an interesting new book: Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street by Michael Hirsh which argues that every president from Ronald Reagan through Barack Obama has been co-opted by Wall Street.

Coburn Warns Republicans

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said his party won’t have any second chances if they actually take control of Congress in this year’s midterm elections, Tulsa Worldreports.

Said Coburn: “If the conservatives in Congress gain control and don’t live up to expectations, the Republican Party will be dead.”

Coburn also ripped the idea of Newt Gingrich running for president saying he “is a super-smart man, but he doesn’t know anything about commitment to marriage. He’s the last person I’d vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president.”

Manchin Jumps to Early Lead

The first post-primary Rasmussen survey in West Virginia shows Gov. Joe Manchin (D) leading John Raese (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 42%.

First Read: “Although Manchin is undoubtedly the front-runner in this contest — due in large part to his high approval ratings — here’s a word of caution for Democrats: Popular governors running for the Senate haven’t always enjoyed success. In 1994, Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan (D) lost to Craig Thomas (R); in 1996, Nebraska Gov. Ben Nelson (D), whose poll numbers were in the 60s, lost to Chuck Hagel (R); and also in ’96, popular Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) lost to Sen. John Kerry (D). What makes someone a well-liked and successful governor isn’t always what voters seem to want from their U.S. senator.”

Murkowski Denied Libertarian Ballot Line

The Alaska Libertarian Party held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the contested Alaska U.S. Senate Republican primary results and Eric Dondero reports the five board members voted unanimously to deny Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) their party’s ballot line if she ultimately loses the primary.

“The meeting was contentious at first. Two board members who were clearly on the Tea Party friendly Joe Miller side were combative before they realized that the other three board members agreed with them on the essentials. At a number of points the meeting even digressed into name-calling. The ‘F’ bomb was even tossed around a number of times.”

“The vote on Murkowski was taken at about halfway through the meeting which lasted a total of 3 hours. After the result was clear, tempers calmed down, and the 5 member board moved forward with plans on how to announce the results to the media.”

Big Girls Don’t Cry

In the mail: Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women by Rebecca Traister, who argues that “though the election didn’t give us our first woman president or vice president, the exhilarating campaign was nonetheless transformative for American women and for the nation.

It’s an interesting thesis, particularly in light of the news that after this year’s midterm elections the number of women in Congress could actually drop for the first time since 1978.

Unaffiliated Voters Lean Towards Burr

A new Civitas poll of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina shows Sen. Richard Burr (R) leading challenger Elaine Marshall (D), 39% to 32%, with another 7% going to Libertarian candidate Michael Beitler and 21% undecided.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If you get (permission), you go and march. If you don’t — you have no right to. Go without permission, and you will be hit on the head with batons. That’s all there is to it.”

— Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, quoted by Reuters, defending a recent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Mad as Hell

Coming soon: Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System by pollsters Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen.

The book argues that “so-called professionals in politics, business, and media have completely failed to comprehend the new populism and have dismissed it as marginal and extreme.”

Bolton for President?

In an interview with the Daily Caller, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton suggests he might consider a presidential bid in order to highlight national security issues.

Said Bolton: “I’m obviously not a politician I’ve never run for any federal elective office at all and, you know, it is something that would obviously require a great deal of effort.”

Heinrich, Teague Lead in New Mexico

A new Albuquerque Journal poll in New Mexico shows two Democratic congressmen leading in their re-election races.

In the 1st congressional district, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) is ahead of challenger Jon Barela (R), 47% to 41%, with 12% undecided.

In the 2nd congressional district, Rep. Harry Teague (D) edges challenger Steve Pearce (R), 45% to 42%, with 13% undecided.

Don’t Believe Everything People Tell Pollsters

Just because large numbers of people have told pollsters in recent months they think President Obama is a Muslim, doesn’t mean they believe it, Gary Langer notes.

“It’s human nature. Some people who strongly oppose a person or proposition will take virtually any opportunity to express that antipathy. Offer a negative attribute, they’ll grab it — not to express their ‘belief,’ in its conventional meaning, but rather to throw verbal stones at that which they so thoroughly dislike.”

Which State Has the Most Competitive Races?

According to a Smart Politics analysis of nearly 1,800 gubernatorial elections since 1900, New Mexico has had a history of having the most competitive races for governor.

While the average margin of victory in races nationwide has been 21 points, New Mexico has averaged a highly-competitive 7.5 point victory margin across its 38 contests held since statehood. In fact, an astounding 79% of New Mexico’s races for governor have been decided by less than 10 points with 47% by less than 5 points.

Next on the list is Alaska, with an average 9 point margin of victory in 13 gubernatorial elections since statehood.

Quote of the Day

“The facts are the facts, right?”

— President Obama, in an interview with NBC News, on a “network of misinformation” about his religion.

Perry Has No Interest in White House Bid

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) continues to deny he might run for president if he’s re-elected as governor, the Texas Tribune reports.

Said Perry: “No, I have no intention to go to Washington, D.C., except maybe to go to a museum, like the Smithsonian.”

GOP 12: “Remember, he’s running for a 3rd gubernatorial term right now; so he sort of has to deny interest in a Presidential run to show he has his priorities straight.”

Foley Not Concerned About Malloy’s Public Financing

Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy (D) collected $6 million in public financing for his campaign, the Connecticut Mirror reports.

Tom Foley (R), who has already loaned his campaign $3 million, “declined to say how much of his own fortune he is willing to commit to the race. Foley, who owns a 100-foot yacht, an airplane and a waterfront Greenwich estate, laughed and stammered when asked how could much he afford to spend.”

Said Foley: “Well, I, … Could I afford to match him? Yeah.”

Most Don’t Think Palin Would be Effective as President

A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds that 59% of Americans said they don’t think Sarah Palin would be an effective president of the United States.

However, Republicans, by a 47% to 40% margin, do believe that Palin would be an effective president.

Steele Heads to Guam

With just over two months until the midterm elections, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is heading to Guam next week, according to a press release.

“Steele will deliver the Keynote Speech at the September 7th Republican Primary fundraiser. He will also be a guest the following day, September 8th, at a luncheon fundraiser also to benefit Guam’s GOP Senatorial and Gubernatorial candidates.”

Ben Smith notes the trip may be more about securing a crucial group of delegates if Steele is to be re-elected next year.

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