Diluting The Tea Party Gene Pool

Originally posted at Cagle.

Say what you will about the tea party but it has been remarkably effective at pushing select fringe candidates to electoral victories.

In late 2009, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone in Washington who would have believed that a Republican would soon fill the Senate seat held for decades by the late Ted Kennedy.

Enter tea party-backed Scott Brown.

Brown -- a state senator at the time of his election -- was the first in what would become a long line of tea party endorsed candidates with rather colorful pasts.

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NH-Sen & MN-Sen: Bipartisanship

As Josh Orton pointed out here earlier today, Democratic Governor John Lynch has released a statement making clear that he will appoint a Republican rather than a Democrat to fill the vacancy created should Democratic President Barack Obama name Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary.

That's right.  Not only is our Democratic President willing to put another Republican in his Cabinet (making three, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates - I recall hearing today, but I have not confirmed, that three members of the opposing Party in the Cabinet at the same time is the most since FDR's first term!), but the Democratic Governor is willing to meet the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, despite the fact that the President, the Governor, and the clear political trend in New Hampshire is Democratic.

Democrats are bending over backwards to embody the spirit of bipartisanship to which Republicans in the Senate only exploit and pay lip-service.  Why do I say this, and what does this have to do with MN-Sen (though you've probably guessed by now)?

Minnesota only has one seated U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.  Norm Coleman's term expired last month, and Senator-elect Al Franken's seating is held up by Coleman's frivolous, foot-dragging, evidence-free lawsuit, which has featured apparently-doctored evidence by Coleman as well as notoriously dud witnesses and lies regarding cherry-picked voters.

There is state law in Minnesota that the Governor and Secretary of State cannot sign an election certificate if there is an election contest underway.  Fine.  Coleman has blocked Senator-elect Franken's election certification.  Whoopie for him.

Still, no one debates that the ultimate arbiter for the Senate race, as dictated by Section 5 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is the U.S. Senate (and that federal Constitutional law trumps state policy).  Further, there is precedent - very recent precedent, at that - of provisionally seating an uncertified-but-clearly-victorious Senate candidate while an election challenge was underway: Senator Mary Landrieu's first Senate victory in 1996, a provisional seating supported by Republicans (emphasis added by me):

There is, moreover, historical precedent for seating Franken on a temporary basis. In 1996, Mary Landrieu won the Louisiana Senate seat in a hotly contested race. But her opponent, State Representative Woody Jenkins, alleged that massive election fraud had contributed to his defeat. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate agreed to look into the charges but allowed Landrieu to serve in the interim, pending investigation. The Rules Committee ultimately discovered that Jenkins had coached and paid witnesses to testify, thus discrediting his complaints of corruption and securing Landrieu's place in the Senate.

That was then.  This is now:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has warned Democrats not to try to seat Al Franken any time soon, and he predicts the legal process will take at least a month to unfold, meaning the Senate may be stuck with 99 members well into February.

In an unusual move, Kyl went to the Senate floor this morning to lay out all the reasons why the Minnesota Senate election remains unresolved, and he listed Sen. Norm Coleman's arguments before the Minnesota courts. Coleman's election lawsuit contends there are newly discovered ballots, missing ballots, wrongly rejected absentee ballots and double counting of votes.

An election was held.  A manual recount was undertaken.  Contested ballots were reviewed one-by-one by an independent panel.  Independent local election officials then reviewed absentee ballots to determine which were properly rejected and which should be counted.  After every possible review was conducted, Al Franken led by 225 votes and the results were certified by the independent Canvassing Board (not to be confused with an election certificate).  Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman has been unable to provide any hard evidence at all that confirms any wrongdoing in the election or any misconduct or miscounting that would move the result substantively in his favor.  Norm Coleman lost, notwithstanding Jon Kyl's parroting of Coleman's political talking points on the Senate floor.  But he is contesting.  Fine.  He is availing himself of the legal system (that his Party would seek to curtail others' access to through so-called "tort reform," but that's another story).

In desperately clinging to the myth that votes were widely double-counted, the Coleman camp repeats the concept "one man, one vote." In the U.S. Senate, every state gets two Senators, two votes.  However, in the meantime, Minnesota only has one Senator.  Because of Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit and the Senate GOP's lack of that bipartisan spirit that they trumpet when it serves their ends, Minnesotans have only half of the representation and half of the avenues to constituent service in the U.S. Senate that every other citizen of the other 49 U.S. states has.

The U.S. Constitution is on Al Franken's side.  Republican-supported Senate precedent is on Al Franken's side.  And bipartisanship is on Al Franken's side.  Just as our Democratic President has seen fit to name a Republican Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and New Hampshire's Democratic Governor has seen fit to honor the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, it only seems fitting that Republican Senators ought to allow the (Constitutionally-supported and precedent-supported) provisional seating of Senator-elect Al Franken while Norm Coleman's frivolous lawsuit runs its course so that Minnesotans can enjoy full representation in the U.S. Senate once again.  It's good for Minnesota.  It's good for bipartisanship.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country, regularly read Senate Guru.

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OH-Sen: Rob Portman, "A Bush Guy"

Republican Senate candidate two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman will no doubt spend the entirety of his Senate campaign running away from George W. Bush and his record.  However, that will be awfully difficult given that Portman served as George W. Bush's Trade Representative (May 17, 2005 - May 29, 2006) and Office of Management and Budget Director (May 29, 2006 - June 19, 2007), two key roles on George W. Bush's economic team.  Nevertheless, Portman is trying to run from Bush and has been called out for it.  I thought an early examination of Portman's relationship to George W. Bush might be in order.

Portman and George W. Bush's Record Budget Deficits

When Bush nominated Portman in April '06 to be his budget director, Portman set clear goals and outlined how to reach those goals:

"Now is not the time to risk losing ground by raising taxes," he said. "Instead we must continue pro-growth policies and tighten our fiscal belts in order to cut the deficit in half by 2009."

How did Portman do in the deficit-slashing department?

The budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2006, when Portman took over as budget director, was about $250 billion.  The budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2008, the most recently completed fiscal year, was over $450 billion.  Portman's goal was to cut the budget deficit in half.  Instead, the budget deficit nearly doubled.  That is the legacy of George W. Bush's budget director, Rob Portman.

Portman and George W. Bush's "Poor" Economy

Well, that's the budget; but, what about trade?  Portman sounded awfully excited to stand at Bush's side and promote Bush's agenda back in the day:

Mr. President, thank you very much. I am very proud to stand at your side, and I am grateful for you giving me this opportunity to join your Cabinet and promote the bold international trade agenda you just described.

[Much more below the fold.]

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The Democratic Party's Secret Weapon

Cross-Posted at the Swing State Project and Senate Guru--
http://www.swingstateproject.com/showDia ry.do?diaryId=1707
http://www.senateguru.com/showDiary.do?d iaryId=89

All of us here are optimistic about our prospects in a Democratic year, yet we have repeatedly voiced concern about the precarious nature of some of this year's down-ballot races.  In a Democratic year, why are Oregon and Maine such long-shots?  Why is the picture so unclear in Colorado?  And, more importantly, what can be done to fight the prospect of more Republican victories down-ballot?  Well, I've got an idea, and I know that a handful of others in the blogosphere agree.  I hope it echoes across the Internet and reaches the ears of the top campaign strategists for Barack Obama-- pick Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer as the VP candidate, and the prospects of Democratic victories brighten all across the country.  Whenever I mention Schweitzer's name, people inevitably respond, "But Montana only has three electoral votes!" By focusing on electoral math alone, they miss the point; if all we think about is electoral math, we are doomed to a future of precarious, one-vote majorities-- nowhere near strong enough to pass progressive legislation and undo the damage of the Bush administration, which will take years.

With that in mind, I say the national ticket needs not one, but two galvanizers who can make campaign stops that whip up the crowds and help the down-ballot candidates.  On that count, Brian Schweitzer is our party's secret weapon. He is a fantastic orator-- second only to Obama himself in the party-- and has a proven ability to resonate with Republican and independent voters. He can definitely help us pick up some Rocky Mountain states-- with him on the ticket, Colorado is ours, and the coattails of an Obama/Schweitzer ticket would undoubtedly pull Mark Udall over the finish line-- and we could pick off Nevada and New Mexico as well.  Oregon would become more solidly blue (improving the chances of Merkley or Novick,) as would Washington State (solidifying Gov. Gregoire's re-election chances).  Furthermore, while I doubt we would win Arizona, we would at least force John McCain to fight us on his home turf, which would cost him time and resources, and give the national GOP a headache (ahh, schadenfreude!)

"But wait!" you say, "What about those rust-belt states that we need to win?  Hell, what about New Hampshire and Maine?" To which I say, the aforementioned independent and Republican voters to whom Schweitzer has appealed have been rural and/or working-class citizens who don't want their jobs to be outsourced, are worried about the economy in the wake of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and disapprove of the way the war is going, but who want to keep their hunting rifles.  You think there aren't voters like that in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia?  Of course there are!  Those are the very voters who swing those states, and Schweitzer is exactly the candidate to persuade them to vote Democratic!

As for New Hampshire and Maine, Schweitzer's fiercely independent, non-dogmatic persona will resonate quite well with the numerous independent voters who might otherwise consider McCain.  The libertarian streak that runs through the Mountain West is not all that different from good old-fashioned Yankee independence.  Furthermore, Schweitzer took a bold early stand against the Real ID act, a particularly potent issue in Maine.  If Schweitzer were to make some campaign stops with Congressman (and senate candidate) Tom Allen and use that issue as the centerpiece . . . who knows?  We might just be able to unseat the inexplicably popular Susan Collins.

For those who don't know much about Schweitzer and might worry that he's some sort of DINO, relax-- he is pro-choice, pro-civil unions, and VERY pro-environment.  In fact, he has successfully re-framed the environment issue as "conservationism," not "environmentalism," and it has worked-- people who hunt, fish, and participate in other outdoor activities want to preserve the natural environment.  Schweitzer has framed the issue as something that concerns these very people, thus proving that conserving our environment is not some fringe pursuit, but a very real one for average citizens.  Under Schweitzer's stewardship, Montana has been at the forefront of wind energy.

So, if you agree with me on this, I exhort you to spread the word, write blog posts, and even e-mail the Obama campaign.  I figure that, with a concerted effort, we can at least familiarize more people with his name.  Hey, it can't hurt, right?


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Hey Lieberman haters, choke on this, Joe 65% Ned, 19%

All you Lieberman haters out there in DD land, choke on these numbers. Joe Lieberman in a heads up contest against Ned Lamont, destroys poor Neddie, 65%-19%. I guess all the slander against Lieberman just isn't working, but I'm sure you'll come up with more. Let's see the spin coming from you Lamont supports this morning.
    But don't fret none. Having Joe back in the Senate for another 6 wonderful years isn't as bad as you think it might be. But for now, the smear job you guys are putting on Lieberman, just isn't working. Also, for my little friend from Missouri, I trust I made my point clear!!!


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