DFL Nominates Misogynist; Planned Parenthood Not Happy

June 9th, 2008

On Saturday, the DFL nominated Al Franken to challenge Sen. Norm Coleman in spite of stiff opposition, including that of members of Minnesota’s Democrat Congressional delegation. Democrats fear that Franken’s past, which includes an article written for Playboy and jokes about rape, could cost them a great opportunity to pick up a Senate seat. Even liberal Rep. Betty McCollum has said that she will not endorse Franken in the general election.

The bad news for Franken doesn’t stop there. Planned Parenthood, a reliable supporter of pro-choice Democrats, has said that it will be difficult for them to support Franken in light of recent allegations. It’s truly remarkable when an organization whose main objective is promoting violence against women actually says that a candidate goes too far in that direction. When a candidate has that much trouble with his core supporters - and when I say “core”, I mean those who are supposed to be even more reliable than the proverbial base - he’s got problems.

So how does Franken go about addressing those problems? Well, at the DFL convention, he said that he was sorry for making comments that made some people feel uncomfortable, but that he’s running because there are people in Washington who need to feel a little less comfortable. Wow. That’s the best he can do?! How about, “I am deeply sorry for any pain that my comments have caused the thousands of Minnesota families whose lives have been changed forever as a result of one of the most physically and emotionally violent crimes ever committed?”

In fairness to Al Franken, he is a comedian, not a politician. He, like many other comedians and most people in general, has said things to which many people take offense. Personally, though I have found many other comedians, including liberal ones who endulge in off color humor, hilarious, I have never particularly cared for Al Franken’s unwitty, personally demeaning brand of “comedy”. If the market can support him, though - and his Air America venture suggested that it can’t - then he should remain a comedian, as that is clearly his proper realm. He has already embarassed his would-be constituency more than most politicians do in their whole careers, and he hasn’t even been elected. If he does manage to worm his way into office, though, one has to wonder whether he will take this job any more seriously than he did his last one. That, surely, should be on the minds of Minnesotans as they cast their ballots in November.

Menendez Feeling Safer

It was inevitable.  Republican presumptive nominee Tom Kean now has a primary challenger.  Conservative activist John Ginty has decided to challenge the GOP front-runner and RINO extraordinaire in the June primary. 

Well Done, Sen. McConnell

June 6th, 2008

In his first real show of leadership in a long time, Sen. John Cornyn, doubtless at the direction of Sen. Mitch McConnell, effectively shut down the Senate with a procedural move earlier this week, punishing Democrats for their inaction on judicial nominations. By objecting to a routing procedural motion, Cornyn forced the Senate clerk to read all 497 pages of a substitute amendment to the Lieberman-Warner climate change legisation. The objection was the first concrete effort that Sen. McConnell has made to attempt to bring to the fore the fact that the Democrats have not lived up to their commitments on holding votes for the President’s judicial nominations.

Democrats failed to live up to their commitment to hold votes on three judicial nominees before Memorial Day. They are seeking to confirm as few judicial nominees as possible this year in an attempt to allow a President Obama to send nominations to a more heavily Democrat Senate. Democrats apparently only believe that justice delayed is justice denied when there’s a Democrat in the White House. The possibility that Obama will win the White House and the fact that we’re going to take a beating in this year’s Senate elections underscore just how important it will be to confirm the President’s nominees before the end of the year. The Circuit Courts, of course, are not only important in their own right but they are also the source of most Supreme Court nominees. The more original intenters there are on the Circuit Courts, the greater the pool of nominees for the next Republican President.

Politically, this is a fight that we need to wage. Republicans at this point have nothing. Our elected members in both houses of Congress have blown it. They lost the high ground on fiscal responsibility and became worse than their predecessors on government spending. Social conservatives, similarly, haven’t had too much to crow about either. Judicial nominations, though, is an issue that unites all conservatives against the common enemy that is judicial tyranny. If we can raise the profile of the issue before November, Sen. McCain will stand a much stronger chance of getting the base out, possibly winning the Presidency, and saving more Congressional seats than could otherwise be saved.

Senators Cornyn and McConnell deserve credit for the move, but there’s still work to be done. They should grind the Senate to a hault until the Democrats start moving on these nominees. If the Democrats complain to the public with it, we simply return to the up-or-down vote debate that we won a few years ago. Keep it up, guys!

Pearce Drops Wilson; Faces Uphill Battle

June 4th, 2008

Conservative Rep. Steve Pearce defeated moderate Rep. Heather Wilson on Tuesday, setting up a general election with Rep. Tom Udall. Pearce enjoyed nearly universal support from the conservative organizations that chose to get involved in the race, most notably the Club for Growth. He did, however, have to overcome a last minute endorsement of Wilson by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici. Domenici, though, may have been retiring at least in part due to his involvement in the scandal involving the firing of US Attorneys, a matter in which Wilson was also involved. The primary result insures that we have a nominee who will not be dogged by the issue through the general election.

Wilson, for her part, lost gracefully. She immediately endorsed Congressman Pearce, a classy move given the heated nature of the primary. While she was not the best candidate statewide, she dominated her Congressional district and could be an asset to Pearce in the campaign if she decides to remain involved.

Pearce now faces an uphill climb against Udall, who was unopposed for the Democrat nomination. Udall enjoyed a 16-point advantage in the most recent Rasmussen poll, ratcheting up 53% compared to the 57% he had head to head against Wilson. Udall also enjoys a solid cash on hand advantage. What will be interesting to see is just how much of a lead he has in the wake of Pearce’s primary victory and the Wilson endorsement. If Pearce manages to get himself into the low 40s within the next couple of weeks, this could become a race. Senators McCain and Obama are likely to engage in a tight battle for the state, and that could have an impact downballot. What is also notable is that Pearce represents the most heavily Hispanic district in the state. Should Pearce win the Hispanic vote by a few points, something he could well do, this race will be a nail-biter.

The Pearce-Udall race could become one of the best in the country not only for its competitiveness (assuming Pearce gains some ground in the next few polls, as I predict he will) but also for the fact that it pits a true conservative against a liberal. Neither party has a “moderate” candidate running. Both candidates are the choices of the party bases. They will offer New Mexicans a crystal clear choice. The Club for Growth will go on the attack against Udall’s fiscal irresponsibility while Udall will work to tie Pearce to the President. Pearce, though, has the stronger case as Pearce has proven to be far more fiscally responsible than the President.

The next few polls will tell us a lot. Many think that this race is already over. I have a feeling, though, that it’s about to tighten considerably. Look for Udall to have a 5-8 point lead in the next poll, but even a 10-point gap would make a comeback possible. Anything over that at this point would be very difficult to overcome without a major break.

Finally Some Good News

June 2nd, 2008

After a long run of polls that showed, well, imminent disaster, a few newly released polls finally indicate that things, while still bad, may not be quite as bad as they looked. For starters, in North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s recent flex of her financial muscle via an ad buy is having the desired effect. After a couple of polls showed that state Sen. Kay Hagan had closed the once-wide gap to a statistical dead heat, Dole has bounced back out to an eight point lead. This new-found daylight, albeit not that much, puts her opponent in a precarious position. Dole, who enjoys a 10:1 cash on hand advantage, is forcing Hagan to make an extremely difficult decision. Hagan can either go on the air now and spend what little money she has on ads now hoping to regain some of her lost ground while risking the possibility of going broke, or she can keep her powder dry, saving for later in the campaign and hoping that Dole doesn’t put her away before she has the chance to retaliate. The ads are proving a solid strategy by Dole, opening her general election campaign with a positive ad. Now, though, she must go the extra mile and aim to define Hagan, thus forcing the underdog to respond and spend the valuable resources that she’d rather save for charting her own strategic course.

In Louisiana, our only target for this cycle, the two state-wide elected officials battling for the seat currently held by Sen. Mary Landrieu are locked in a statistical dead heat. In what is becoming more and more of a rarity in politics, two officials with approval ratings in the 50s are facing off. When state Treasurer John Kennedy entered the race, polls showed a tight battle. In the last month or so, though, it appeared as though Landrieu had begun to pull away. Now Rasmussen puts the race back to where it began. Unfortunately, the Kennedy campaign has yet to hit its stride. It’s usually a bad sign when a candidate who has been in the race for half a year doesn’t even have a functional website. Even so, it’s probably a good sign if his campaign can be that far behind in terms of organization and yet he is still running even with a popular incumbent.

Finally, in Kentucky, where Democrats are taking aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, McConnell released his own poll which shows him leading Bruce Lunsford by 11 points shortly after a Rasmussen poll put him down 5. To be sure, one should always be suspecious when a campaign releases internal polling. Internal polls are supposed to be just that. They are conducted to provide hard data to campaigns and, in a game of limited information, as politics is, it is seldom wise to share that information. Seasoned campaigners will make the other guy conduct his own polls to figure things out for himself. Although the release of the internal poll suggests to me that McConnell is worried, unless it was completely fabricated, which is unlikely, it casts some doubt on the Rasmussen numbers. In either case, the “good news”, which given what has been coming down the pike lately it is, is that McConnell probably isn’t down and is at worst even in this race. The next couple of public polls should give a more accurate assessment of the race. Hopefully McConnell can follow the Dole example and boost his numbers quickly, thus exploiting an even larger cash on hand advantage.

Strong Leads in the Deep South

May 29th, 2008

Amid a spate of very troubling polls come two that show incumbents in Dixie holding strong. In Alabama, Sen. Jeff Sessions leads state Sen. Vivian Figures, who is not actively campaigning, 62-29. Sessions’ favorable/unfavorable ratings sit at 72/19 while the lesser known Figures actually has a remarkable 33/42 rating, with 24% undecided.

In neighboring Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran leads Erik Fleming 58-35. As in Alabama, the incumbent enjoys high favorable/unfavorable ratings, 65-24, and the challenger is in negative territory, at 37-42. Earlier in the cycle, Democrats hoped Sen. Cochran would call it quits. When he announced that he would seek reelection, it became nearly impossible for Democrats to field a candidate against the entrenched incumbent.

Unfortunately, though, not all news is good even from these two states. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove holds a statistically insignificant lead of a single point over appointed Sen. Roger Wicker, 47-46. The actual numbers in the poll are less significant than the fact that this confirms the results of two other recent polls that showed that Musgrove has closed a double-digit gap to make this effectively a dead heat. Wicker will be aided by a strong performance by Sen. McCain in the state, as well as the presence of Sen. Cochran on the ballot with him. Unfortunately, though, the national environment is bad, and some Mississippians may be disinclined from voting for three Republicans rather than two and a Democrat to send a message of dissatisfaction with the national Party. Sadly, this race has found its way into the top tier. Fortunately, though, Wicker’s campaign is much better financed, at least for the time being. Whether that holds in light of the new competitiveness of this race remains to be seen.

Where’s Yer Helicopter Now?

May 27th, 2008

Let’s hear it for the Hoops’ forty-second league championship!

Technical Difficulties

May 22nd, 2008

I’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties. I hope to resolve the issues this weekend and be back to daily blogging on Monday.

KY, OR Dems Choose Nominees

May 21st, 2008

On Tuesday, Senators Mitch McConnell and Gordon Smith learned who their Democrat opponents will be. In Kentucky, Democrats nominated two time gubernatorial primary loser Bruce Lunsford. In a poll released earlier this month, Lunsford trailed McConnell 48-36. He will have some fence-mending to do if he is to make the race competitive. In 2003, he dropped out of the gubernatorial race days before the Democrat primary and went on to endorse Republican Ernie Fletcher. He has since apologized, but expect for there to be plenty of bad blood between him and many of his fellow Democrats. That move also, by the way, takes the issue of Fletcher and his corrupt administration off the table. McConnell starts off the race with poorer poll numbers than he would like, but he also has what could be an insurmountable cash advantage (over 20:1). The big question is just how badly Democrats want revenge for the 2004 defeat of then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. If they want it very badly, this will be a tough race, but McConnell should pull it out.

In Oregon, the DSCC got its man, if by man you mean its fifth or sixth choice to face Sen. Gordon Smith. Law-ignoring state House Speaker Jeff Merkley defeated upstart Steve Novick with an unimpressive 46-41 victory. The liberal blogosphere wanted Novick badly, but they will rally behind Merkley. Democrats must be kicking themselves over their inability to get a top-tier recruit for this race. If Merkley is this close, another Democrat could well be leading Smith at this point. For his part, Smith has run a strong campaign thus far, reminding Oregonians of his ability to work across party lines in their interests. He has also begun hammering away at Merkley on the airwaves, as he had hoped to face off against Novick. Merkley’s plurality victory, though, should have Democrats worried. Oregonians have gotten to know Merkley, and even among Democrats he failed to win a majority of votes. In fact, he only had over 52% of the vote in a single county, rural Lake County. The DSCC may be happier with Merkley, but he has his work cut out for him.

Kennedy Diagnosed with Malignant Brain Tumor

May 20th, 2008

Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has been hospitalized since suffering a seizure on Saturday, has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Kennedy has been a leading voice for the opposition for decades. According to the AP, the average survival rate is less than a year for patients with aggressive tumors to up to five with those spreading more slowly. Please keep the Senator and his family in your prayers.

Giving New Meaning to the Word “Insulting”

May 19th, 2008

In his attempt to convince Democrats that he can in fact attract white voters, Sen. Barack Obama has turned to none other than former KKK leader Sen. Robert Byrd. Byrd, who has come so far in his views on race that just a few years ago he used the term “white niggers” on FoxNews (video above), cited their shared view on the military action in Iraq as the reason for his endorsement. His opponent, Sen. Clinton, has waffled on the issue.

Perhaps most striking about the endorsement is that it comes in the wake of Sen. Obama’s insulting comments toward middle Americans. Obama is trying to demonstrate to his fellow Democrats that he can in fact pick up the support of white Americans living in what is referred to on the coasts as “fly-over country”. Apparently Sen. Obama considers Sen. Byrd, a former leader of a hate group and someone who clearly hasn’t come nearly as far on race as some would like to think, representative of such people. As Sen. Obama tries to dig himself out of the ever-deepening hole into which he has dug himself, it seems that he can only dig deeper. It is abundently clear that the Senator simply doesn’t get and can’t connect with those who don’t live in major cities, except, of course, as Paul Begala calls them, some of the “eggheads” in Minnesota.

As his apparent nomination becomes more secure, Sen. Obama seems to be doing everything he possibly can to reinforce the very doubts being created by Illinois’ third Senator. He continues to fail to win primary states that do not include a large percentage of African-American voters, and his campaign currently shows signs of only falling further behind not only Sen. Clinton but also Sen. McCain in those states. While it would be difficult for Democrats to fully reassess their selection of a nominee at this point, one can’t help but wonder if they are in fact trying to lose what should be the easiest Presidential election since 1980, if not 1932.