Consequences of Indictment

In the wake of his indictment, Sen. Ted Stevens has declared his innocence:

I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator. In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges. The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly. I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.

Sounds like he won't be dropping out of the race any time soon -- great news for Mark Begich -- but he did have to resign his ranking member status on two committees in the wake of the indictment. Who knew the GOP was actually enforcing ethics rules?

Consistent with GOP bylaws that require Members who are under felony indictment to relinquish their ranking posts on committees, Stevens, the longest-serving Republican Senator, has officially stepped down as ranking member of both the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

In addition, Democratic senate challengers are starting to demand that the GOP incumbent senators they're running against return donations from Ted Stevens. Road To 60 challenger Kay Hagan released a statement insisting that Elizabeth Dole return or donate to charity $21,000 she personally received from Stevens between 2001 and 2007. Emphasis below mine:

"First there was Jack Abramoff, and now Ted Stevens is this cycle's scandal-prone Washington insider -- it's a habit they just can't help themselves break. This is business as usual for Washington career politicians like Ted Stevens, and indicative of exactly why people in North Carolina and elsewhere across the country are so disgusted with the people they elect to represent them," said Colleen Flanagan, Hagan Campaign Communications Director. "Elizabeth Dole should immediately return, or donate to charity, the $21,000 she received from Ted Stevens - we recommend sending the money to help low-income families afford the skyrocketing gas prices Dole has failed to address for the past six years. Ted Stevens and Elizabeth Dole have been in Washington for 40 years, and quite frankly, both have shown the proclivity to put special interests and lobbyists ahead of the folks who elected them. People in Alaska, North Carolina and across the country deserve leadership that is beholden to the people who elected them, not the special interests and lobbyists in Washington."

Surely, more will follow. Marc Ambinder reminds us that Norm Coleman is particularly vulnerable on the issue of having taken Alaskan money.

It means that any senator who got VECO money -- Norm Coleman? -- will be called to account.

What does this mean for Democrats' senate chances? At the very least the narrative is shifting, as Roger Simon put it on Hardball moments ago:

If the magic number for Democrats is getting to 60 in the senate, they thought it wasn't possible, it may not be impossible anymore.

Help out our Road to 60 challengers over at our Road to 60 ActBlue page.

Update [2008-7-29 17:40:52 by Todd Beeton]:That was fast. Elizabeth Dole has just dumped $10k of Stevens money. From TPM:

Campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley just told Election Central that the campaign has written a $10,000 check -- the amount Dole has received this cycle from Stevens' leadership PAC -- to the Society of St. Andrew.

Stevens' PAC has donated to every incumbent GOP Senator seeking re-election this year. That's one down. Will others follow?

Update [2008-7-29 18:4:48 by Josh Orton]: A couple more bits of Stevens indictment-related fallout:

  • List of his PAC's expenditures this year here. Paging Pat Roberts, Gordon Smith...

  • CQ changes Stevens' race rating from "leans Republican" to "leans Democrat."

There's more...

NC-Sen: Why Does Elizabeth Dole Hate America?

Senate Guru had a great catch on Sunday. Sen. Elizabeth Dole aired an ad featuring a quick shot of a fighter jet to stress the point that -- so Dole's argument goes -- she used her "clout" to save North Carolina military bases. So why did Elizabeth Dole's campaign quietly edit the ad and change the fighter jet shot (you can watch both versions of the ad at Guru's place)?

Guru:

Someone who saw the footage suggested that the military aircraft in the first version of the ad is actually a French Naval aircraft!  Imagine that, Liddy Dole taking credit for work with the military by using footage of a French military aircraft.

Even better, a commenter elaborates:

The aircraft in the first version of the ad is a French naval aircraft called a Super Etendard...Ironically enough, Super Etendards were also used in Battle by the Iraqi Air Force during the Iran-Iraq war during the 80s. It's doubtful that any aircraft of this type have ever landed in North Carolina, much less been based there.

Indeed the story has been confirmed by The Hill and, as a press release from the DSCC puts it:

According to a report in today's edition of the Hill newspaper, an ad aired by North Carolina Republican Elizabeth Dole taking credit for saving North Carolina military installations actually included images of a French-made Dassault Super Etendard fighter jet, which was last seen in combat action being flown by Saddam Hussein's Air Force during the Iran-Iraq War.

Classic. The old France/Iraq nexus, enough to make heads of wingers everywhere explode. Of course, I'm sure their outrage will begin any...moment...now.

Remarkably this error plays right into the fact that Elizabeth Dole is out of touch and never in North Carolina. Kay Hagan's campaign wasted no time in going after Dole for the screw-up:

The campaign of Dole's Democratic opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan, said Monday that the mix-up shows how out of touch Dole is.

"It's no surprise that Elizabeth Dole would mistake a French aircraft for an American one stationed at a base in North Carolina," said spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan. "It's pretty indicative of the amount of time she spends here in North Carolina. I imagine she's celebrating Bastille Day today, as well."

Help Kay Hagan have the resources she's going to need to get the word out about just how out of touch and missing in action Elizabeth Dole is by giving to her campaign at our Road To 60 Act Blue page.

There's more...

10 forgotten candidates you should help

The netroots / blogosphere has picked its favorites, be they Rick Noriega or Darcy Burner or Scott Kleeb.  (All three of whom are great candidates.)

In this diary, I wanted to spread the love a bit to a few candidates that don't get mentioned much, or at all.  Please help me in this task.

Oftentimes moderate Democrats running in Republican districts, who don't and can't hew to the hard left like we might like, lose out in the online popularity contests.  But at the end of the day, their one vote will count for just as much, and will each be replacing the vote of a bad GOP legislator.

In this diary I detail 5 house candidates and 5 senate candidates that are worthy of your donations - even $5 - via ActBlue at this link.  Even better, sign up for a recurring contribution - it helps ensure the candidates a steady financial situation.

There's more...

North Carolina Still In Play

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows the race for president in North Carolina holding fairly steady with McCain up by single digits and Bob Barr taking a solid chunk of the electorate.

Candidate6/26-295/28-29Pollster
McCain454344
Obama414041.1
Barr565

Interestingly, Barr takes equally from Republicans and Democrats , although one suspects that the Democrats who would vote for Barr would never vote for Obama anyway. Barr takes 12% of independents.

Obama's clear weak spot here is among his own party base. While he wins independents by 12%, Obama is winning Dems by just 67-20, whereas McCain is winning Republicans by 83-6. Paging Bill and Hillary Clinton...

And this from PPP's blog points to a reason that North Carolina is likely to become bluer and bluer as time goes on.

Barack Obama leads 46-40 among those surveyed who were born in a place other than North Carolina. John McCain has the 49-36 advantage with natives of the state. As more and more people come to North Carolina from other places, it could trend more Democratic in national elections.

Unfortunately, Key Hagan is not performing as strongly against Elizabeth Dole in PPP's poll as Obama is against McCain as Dole continues to expand her lead to double digits and above 50%.

Candidate6/26-295/28-29Pollster
Dole514749.7
Hagan373938.1

One bright spot for Hagan is the major upside of having Obama at the top of the ticket.

From PPP's blog:

One of the biggest red flags for Hagan is difficulty in securing the black vote. Right now she leads Dole just 52-28 with them, and the 20% of African American voters who report being undecided is higher than almost any other demographic. Hagan will have to significantly improve her standing there to have any chance this fall.

Dole's strength among African-American voters is unlikely to stick once Obama begins actively campaigning in the state, one suspects, with Hagan. This is one state where Obama's coattails are going to be unmistakeable, even if he loses the state.

Help Kay Hagan out over at our Road To 60 Act Blue page.

There's more...

Road to 60: Kay Hagan For North Carolina

One of the stated goals of our Road to 60 campaign is to press Republicans to spend more of their resources in states than normal - we want them to play defense.

In North Carolina, incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole has started playing defense. Back in May, in the face of tight poll numbers, Dole dumped lots of money into statewide TV ads months before the election.

And despite her previous role as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, her service in the administrations of Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and her marriage to former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole didn't actual make a single mention of the Republican party or President Bush in the ads, despite the fact that she voted with Bush 85% of the time last year.

North Carolinians aren't happy:

``She's in trouble because of the straight-up fact that she's a Republican,'' Brian Mayberry, a 35-year-old political independent, said June 20 at a Wilmington gas station while pumping $59.73 worth of gasoline into his Chevrolet Trailblazer sport utility vehicle. While ``the consensus is that she's been a good senator,'' Mayberry said he won't vote for Dole because he blames Republican President George W. Bush for high gas prices.

Democrats have a great challenger: State Senator Kay Hagan.

In the first half of May, Rasmussen, PPP, and SUSA showed Hagan actually up by one, then down by only five and four points, respectively. And despite a bump after her statewide media blitz, Dole finds herself back in a competitive race, with several polls still showing her tracking below the 50% incumbent Mendoza line.

And as Markos points out in The Hill, the tough primary Hagan fought made her campaign stronger and more prepared.

But there's a big financial gap. Reports show a 10-1 cash inequity in favor of Dole, after Hagan spent over a million dollars to win her primary.

So now is the time to step up for Kay. Kay Hagan would be another vote towards allowing the government to negotiate for lower drug prices. She favors a withdrawal from Iraq and changing focus to al Qaeda.

We can make a difference, and we have a real shot at this seat. The state has been trending Democratic, even though Republicans have carried the state for the last seven Presidential elections. But North Carolina is one of the states Obama is targeting. With the help of his registration and turnout machine to bring new Democrats to the polls, Kay Hagan can replace Elizabeth Dole. But she needs our help. Give Kay what you can.

There's more...

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