US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader


Insiders on Track in Florida
A new poll from Quinnipiac University poll of likely Florida voters finds Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has seized a 9 percentage-point lead over former healthcare executive Rick Scott in the Republican governor's race, while U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek holds a 7 percentage-point lead in the Democratic race for the US Senate over billionaire investor Jeff Greene. In the last Quinnipiac poll back in late July, both McCollum and Meek trailed by double digits in their races. More from the Miami Herald.

The Florida Conundrum
Chris Cillizza has more on the conundrum facing Florida Democrats should Kendrick Meek pull out a win in the primary.

The worst kept secret in Florida Democratic politics: most party strategists don't believe Meek can win a general election but they do think he can siphon enough traditionally Democratic votes away from Crist to hand the race to former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Democrats have semi-openly admitted that with Greene as the party's nominee, they would feel little remorse in casting a vote for Crist -- believing that the billionaire businessman is not fit to serve in the Senate. The same cannot be said of Meek.

One Democratic aide who has worked extensively in the state summed up the conventional wisdom thusly: "[We] clearly cannot publicly support Crist but if Meek is the nominee [we] know he not only has no shot at winning statewide."

The Mason-Dixon poll released earlier this week suggests those fears may be well founded. With Greene as the Democratic nominee, Crist takes 39 percent to Rubio's 38 percent. (Greene clocks in at just 12 percent.) With Meek as the party standard-bearer, Rubio takes 38 percent to 33 percent for Crist and 18 percent for the Miami Congressman.

Combine Crist's clear signals that he would caucus on the Democratic with the widely-held belief among Florida strategists that Meek can't win a general election and you begin to understand the political cross-pressures going around the Sunshine State these days.

Whether Meek is electable or not, I cannot say at this time but defeating Marco Rubio is of the utmost importance. At any rate, the presence of Charlie Crist in the race makes the Florida Senate race this fall the nation's most intriguing one.

There's more...

Selling Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, is floating a rather noxious idea. He is threatening to sell off two square miles state-owned land within the 485 square mile majestic Grand Teton National Park to private developers so as pressure the Federal government into coming up "with a good deal for the land."

The Wyoming state constitution requires the Governor and other state officials to manage state lands, a legacy of the statehood charter, for maximum profit, and right now, the Teton tract generates just $3,000 a year from cattle grazing. The Governor believes he can extract $125 million by selling the state's lands within the Park to developers though he admits it's mostly a negotiating tactic.

The story in The Guardian:

Some might call it blackmail. The governor of Wyoming calls it desperation.

Governor Dave Freudenthal is threatening to sell off a chunk of one of America's most beautiful national parks unless the Obama administration comes up with more money to pay for education in the financially beleaguered state.

He says he will auction land valued at $125m (£80m) in the Grand Teton national park, one of the country's most stunning wildernesses. Part of the park was donated by John Rockefeller Jr.

Other parts belong to the state government including two parcels of land of about 550 hectares (1,360 acres) designated as school trust lands to be "managed for maximum profit" to generate funds for education in Wyoming.

At present Wyoming raises only about $3,000 a year from the land by leasing it to a cattle rancher. Officials have menacingly suggested that the property might make a nice site for a ski lodge.

Freudenthal recently wrote to the Interior Department asking the Federal government to trade the park land for mineral royalties. "If the federal government won't dance with us, we will go look for another partner," said Freudenthal. "The purpose is to force the federal government to come to the table."

Washington says it is negotiating, but Freudenthal says the issue has dragged on for a decade. "The way the federal government has treated us to date is that we are like the people who own the land, but they figure there isn't anything else they can do with it," he said.

Previous negotiations led Washington to offer 800,000 acres of federal land in a swap but state officials rejected it as "trash land" not worth nearly as much as their "prime, in-park real estate".

"I admit we aren't as bright as those boys on the Potomac," said Freudenthal. "But this ain't our first county fair."

I don't really follow Wyoming politics closely so I was surprised to learn that Wyoming has a Democrat as Governor and even more surprised to learn that he's quite popular (he owes his popularity to taking on the Federal government). My knowledge of Wyoming's politics is limited to knowing the names of the state's two Senators, Dr. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, two rather non-entities in the Senate. Alan Simpson or Malcom Wallop, they are not, at least, not yet. Barrasso, I suppose, made some noise during the healthcare debate but I can't recall the last time I heard Mike Enzi's name mentioned in the national press.

Naturally the suggestion of selling off a sliver of Grand Teton National Park - if you haven't been, you really should - is going to catch my attention. But I was even more stunned that apart from The Guardian, which I read daily, the story received very little coverage in the national press. MSNBC, ABC News, USA Today and the Denver Post all ran stories, none more than a blurb, when this news first broke over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. That timing perhaps explains why the story didn't make garner more attention and thus scrutiny.

There's more...


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