US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader
by Charles Lemos, Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 04:21:41 AM EDT
They're off and running! And so is our coverage of the 2010 Mid-Term Elections. Here are stories from around the country on races for Federal, state and local offices.
In Connecticut, Lamont Tacks to the Center
The New York Times reports on how Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman who won an insurgent campaign against Senator Joe Lieberman by running left with his anti-war stance, is tacking to the center in his bid to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in the Constitution state. The primary is Tuesday.
As Mr. Lamont gears up for the Democratic primary for governor on Tuesday , progressives are grumbling that he has talked too much about tax breaks and streamlining red tape, and not enough about issues dear to labor unions and government watchdogs.
Modeling himself after Lowell P. Weicker Jr., a former Republican who became an independent, Mr. Lamont has vowed to shake up Hartford, and even borrowed Mr. Weicker’s “Nobody’s Man But Yours” slogan from his successful 1990 race for governor.
And some bloggers who had thrown themselves behind Mr. Lamont’s Senate bid have been lukewarm or indifferent. When Mr. Lamont announced his candidacy in February, using the word “business” more than a dozen times in his speech, My Left Nutmeg, a liberal Web site, ran the headline: “Ned Lamont announces for Governor.”
“If Lamont’s supposed hard-core supporters cannot rouse themselves to cheer his announcement, complete with fawning video, how in the wide world of sports is he supposed to win this thing?” one blogger wrote.
The 2010 version of Ned Lamont offers yet another striking sign of how a rough national landscape for Democrats is influencing politics at the local level.
By repositioning himself as a business-friendly centrist, Mr. Lamont is betting that liberals will give him a pass, if begrudgingly, because Democrats are desperate to capture the State Capitol for the first time since 1986.
The President Heads to Texas
President Obama heads to Austin and Dallas on Monday where the main event is a Democratic National Committee luncheon expected to raise $750,000 to $1 million. Tickets start at $5,000 per couple. The Texas Democratic Party will receive $250,000 to help build the party in the Lone Star State. The Dallas Morning News has more on the President's visit to Texas.
The political realities for Texas Democrats are stark – in part because backlash against Obama and his policies has fueled Republican energy. Democrats had hoped for years that by 2010, demographic shifts would help them regain a statewide office or reclaim the state House, but both goals remain major challenges.
The lunch in Austin will be followed by a speech at the University of Texas. Afterwards, the President flies to Dallas where he will attend a fundraiser at the Highland Park home of attorney Russell Budd and his wife, Dorothy. The event is to raise money for the DSCC.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White has opted to steer clear of the President whose popularity in Texas leaves much to be desired. As of late July, Rasmussen finds that 63 percent of Texans disapprove of Obama's performance (with 56 percent "strongly" disapproving). The Austin American-Statesman looks at the calculated risk that Bill White is taking by staying away from Obama and finds there's really not much downside.
In Florida, Tea Party Movement Raising Millions for Conservatives
The Orlando Sentinel has a story on the financial rewards that the ultra-conservative Republican candidates are reaping from their involvement in the Tea Party Movement. Allen West has raised nearly $3.5 million for his rematch with Rep. Ron Klein in the Florida Twenty-second Congressional District. Marco Rubio has harnessed Tea Party support to help rack up $11.6 million of campaign funds in his bid to win the Senate seat.
An Palin Endorsement in Maryland
It's been win most and lose a couple for Sarah Palin in terms of her endorsements this electoral season, but the Washington Post has a story that underscores the value of a Palin endorsement for lesser known candidates.
Just a few months ago, Brian Murphy's friends would roam the halls of the Maryland State House, practically begging reporters there to go outside for news conferences by the unknown Republican candidate for governor.
Last week, a parade of those scribes lined up to see him. What changed things was a single unexpected moment: Sarah Palin's endorsement Wednesday of the like-minded 33-year-old business investor from Montgomery County, who is making his first bid for public office against former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the GOP primary.
"What this campaign has always needed is a megaphone," Murphy said, "and Sarah's endorsement gave that to us."
In the 72 hours after Palin's announcement, Murphy braced for a surge in campaign contributions, particularly from out-of-state Palin supporters. The endorsement became the talk of the political blogosphere. Murphy appeared on almost every Maryland TV and radio station. And he was summoned to New York for an appearance Friday night on a Fox Business channel show on which a panel of guests nodded as Murphy argued that business leaders are best suited to run the state.
Yet as the week ended, the debate in Maryland politics seemed to center not on whether Murphy could win but on how long his newfound fame might last -- and what Palin was thinking.
Georgia GOP Gubernatorial Runoff on Tuesday
Congressman Nathan Deal and one-time Secretary of State Karen Handel square off on Tuesday in Georgia to decide who the GOP gubernatorial nominee is. The winner will face Roy Barnes in the Fall. Mike Huckabee is backing Deal while Sarah Palin backing Handel, so there's a test of potential presidential candidates as well. The campaign between Deal and Handel has been rather acrimonious reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Handel called Deal a "corrupt relic of Washington" meanwhile Deal said Handel's campaign lacks substance. While Handel has said she'll back Deal if he is the winner, Deal hasn't committed to backing her if she wins. "It's going to take some time for us to heal the wounds that have been inflicted here," Deal said. Here's hoping those wounds are fatal, politically-speaking.
Senior Vote Pivotal in Washington State
The Seattle Times looks at the role that seniors are likely to play in the mid-term elections:
The 2008 general election drew 91 percent of Washington voters age 65 and older, compared with 68 percent of voters younger than 25. The gap was even wider in that year's primary, which drew 72 percent of senior voters and 18 percent of those younger than 25.
Midterm elections, such as this year's, typically draw fewer voters than a presidential election, magnifying the effect of the senior vote.
That could prove worrisome for Democrats, considering that Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 with the support of 66 percent of voters younger than 30, but only 45 percent of those 65 and older, according to Edison Research, which conducts exit polls for national news networks.
Proposition 19 in California Not Drawing Big Donors
The Los Angeles Times reports that many big-money donors such as George Soros, who played a major role in the state's pathbreaking 1996 medical marijuana initiative, have so far refrained from contributing to Proposition 19, he marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot. The LA Times article cites that donors are shying away because they believe that Prop 19 isn't likely to pass but a July 26 poll from Public Policy Polling (pdf) found that support for the initiative at 52 percent and opposition at 36 percent.
The Santa Monica-based, Drug Policy Research Center, part of the Rand Corporation, predicted the cost of marijuana, which runs between $300 and $450 per ounce, could plunge to about $38 by eliminating the expense of compensating suppliers for the challenges of operating in the black market.
The report noted that it was impossible to predict tax revenues from the initiative, which leaves that decision up to individual cities and counties. Based on a statewide $50 per ounce tax proposed in a legalization bill introduced by Sen. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the report said state tax revenues could range from $650 million to $1.49 billion.
“California voters and legislators face considerable uncertainty because it is very difficult to estimate how much more marijuana will be consumed in the state or how the change will affect tax revenues, criminal-justice costs and healthcare costs,” the study concludes. The 54-page report, with 14 pages of footnotes, is called Altered State? (pdf).
Reid Hits Angle over Separation of Church and State
In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is attacking the Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle over her views on the separation of church and state. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Reid spokesman Jon Summers said there is nothing wrong with politicians speaking about their faith, although the incumbent's campaign has spit out a stream of press releases criticizing Angle and asked donors last week to send Reid money to help stop "this dangerous radical in her tracks!"
"Angle doesn't believe there is a separation of church and state," Summers said. "She is trying to legislate her faith onto others, and the comments that she made on the radio make that very clear."
Asked about Reid's faith-based outreach, Summers said the goal is "to increase the dialogue with this important constituency, just as we do with other constituencies, including the business, labor and environmental communities, among others."
"That outreach has included people of many faiths, not just his own."