NY-20: Early Count Of Domestic Absentees Looks Good For Murphy

As the domestic absentee ballots begin to be counted in the NY-20 race, The Albany Project reports some good news for Scott Murphy.

Via PolitickerNY:

Murphy campaign spokesman Ryan Rudominer said that after Delaware County finished its count, Murphy had gained 20 votes. Tom Wade, chairman of the Rensselaer County Democratic Party, said that Murphy gained 10 total votes there, with 49 ballots unopened. (These include ballots from overseas citizens and military voters, which cannot be opened until April 13, and some ballots that were found objectionable by campaign staffers and laid aside.)

Virginia Martin, the Democratic elections commissioner in Columbia County, said Murphy gained 40 votes there today. That tally only includes absentee ballots - not emergency or affidavit ballots - and comprised seven election districts.

David Gamache, the Republican elections commissioner in Dutchess County, said Murphy picked up 13 votes there after counting ballots in the towns of Pine Plains, Amenia and Clinton.

It should be noted that on election day, Scott Murphy did win Columbia and Dutchess Counties but he lost Delaware County by 32 votes. This by no means seals any deal for Murphy, as many absentees have yet to be counted, including overseas and military ballots which may not be opened until next week. But this is certainly a good start.

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CA-32: Introducing Judy Chu For Congress

(disclaimer: I am doing blog outreach for the Judy Chu for Congress campaign)

On Tuesday, May 19, as all Californians go back to the polls to vote on a series of ballot initiatives, voters in the 32nd district (which stretches throughout the San Gabriel Valley from east of downtown Los Angeles all the way to Covina), will be voting in the primary to fill the latest vacancy in the House left over from the Obama transition, that of Barack Obama's new Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis.

Monday was the deadline for candidates to file and the field is now set at 12 including 8 Democrats and 3 Republicans. All candidates will be on the same ballot and any voter, regardless of party ID, may vote for any one of them. If a candidate gets 50%+, he or she wins the seat outright; if not, then the top vote-getters from each party face off in the general election on July 14. Because of the make-up of the district, the general election is really more of a formality. CA-32 chose Barack Obama over John McCain in November 68%-29% and Democrats have a more than 2 to 1 registration advantage over Republicans there. The May 19th Democratic primary is the election.

Out of the field of 8 Democrats, just two are considered truly viable: Board of Equalization member Judy Chu and State Senator Gil Cedillo. I am supporting and have proudly joined the campaign of Judy Chu because her 23 year record of public service gives me confidence that she will serve as a faithful partner to help carry out Barack Obama's agenda and continue Hilda Solis's progressive legacy in Washington, DC.

So, is there a frontrunner? Well, considering the dynamics of the race, it's difficult to argue that it is anything but a toss-up although in one significant respect Judy Chu is considered by many to be the underdog. Conventional wisdom is that it will be difficult for a Chinese-American to win a majority hispanic district (the district is 60% hispanic and 20% Asian-American.) But there are three things going for her that can help Judy Chu overcome this hurdle:

  • Judy is the only Democrat in the race with a voting base within the district. Beginning in 1985 when Judy won a seat on the Garvey School Board in Rosemead, she has been elected and re-elected by CA-32 voters to city council, the Assembly and the Board of Equalization where she currently sits as Vice Chair. Gil Cedillo on the other hand has never represented a single precinct within the district.

  • Judy has been endorsed by Hilda Solis's family. While Hilda is staying out of electoral politics as a member of the new administration, the friendship between Hilda Solis and Judy Chu goes back two decades. When Secretary Solis's sister Irma recently publicly endorsed Judy on behalf of her entire family, it was seen as a tacit endorsement by Hilda and a passing of the torch. The endorsement of the Solis's is a very real reminder of Judy's reputation in the district of bringing all communities throughout the district together. It's no accident that Judy has also won the endorsement of all three members of the Assembly that cover the district: Ed Hernandez, Kevin DeLeon and Mike Eng (who, I should note, is Judy's husband.)

  • Judy has won the lion's share of labor endorsements including SEIU and the Los Angeles County Labor Federation. In a low turnout election as this is expected to be, the army of boots on the ground these endorsements afford Judy's campaign should prove to be a huge boost. In the 32nd district alone there are 40,000 union member households whose doors faithful union activists will knock on and whose phone numbers they will call.

This certainly already has been and will continue to be an interesting race. I look forward to writing a lot more about Judy between now and May 19th. You can learn more about Judy at JudyChu.net and contribute to her campaign over at ActBlue.

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MN-Sen: Local Support For Norm Eroding

Yesterday, Jonathan brought word that the National Review's Ranesh Ponnuru had given up on Norm, suggesting that it was time for Coleman to finally abandon his fight for the Senate seat.

Now today (h/t Senate Guru) we're seeing some local supporters abandoning Norm as well, both some within the Minnesota GOP (from Glenn Thrush)...

Writing in NationalReview.com, Minneapolis attorney and Powerline blogger Scott Johnson lays out the many ways in which the Coleman campaign blew the recount, writing, "I admire Coleman's public service and believe he has been an outstanding senator. But since the election, the Coleman campaign has put on a performance that conveys a strong impression of complacency and ineptitude; the Franken campaign out hustled and outsmarted it."

And former Minnesota Republican Sen. David Durenberger told the Minnesota Post earlier this week that the message from Republicans in Washington is "'We will continue to fund you, just to keep the Democrat out of the Senate.' At some point, somebody has to deal with what's the will of the people of Minnesota."

...and a Minnesota newspaper, which had originally endorsed Norm, now calls on him to "throw in the towel"...

There are too many important issues in Minnesota to let the state be without Senate representation. Whatever the means, Franken holds the lead in the race by 225 votes, and the courts have agreed with that result.

Coleman is now only delaying the seating of Franken and in doing so is not servicing his staff, his financial contributors or the people of Minnesota.

For a time many Minnesotans followed the case closely, but now, after five months, they mainly see stalling. As for the rest of the country, at first, Americans thought Minnesota looked like a diligent place for vote recounts. Now, it's starting to seem like an election laughingstock.

And Coleman, who rails against career politicians, is looking like a career politician who is losing his career.

A good politician knows when he is looking bad and making his state look bad.

Throw in the towel.

Team Franken can declare victory at every opportunity they want -- and they should -- but the thing that's really going to end up pressuring Norm to finally give it up is from folks in his own party. What we're seeing here is the beginning of the end.

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KY-Sen: Sen. Bunning (R-inc) Is A Dead Man Walking

Wow. Look at these Public Policy Polling numbers of the Kentucky Senate race. Senator Jim Bunning has just tanked in both approval and head-to-head match-ups. First, his "approval":

Only 28% of Kentucky voters approve of Jim Bunning's job performance, our newest survey finds. 18% have no opinion and 54% say they disapprove of his work. That's the highest level of disapproval for any of the 18 Senators across the country PPP has gauged approval for since last summer. The previous worst before this Kentucky survey was 40% for Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.

As for the head-to-head match-ups, generally an incumbent is considered endangered if he can't get above 50%. What's it called when an incumbent can't get above 40?

Jim Bunning 33
Ben Chandler 47

Jim Bunning 33
Jack Conway 42

Jim Bunning 34
Crit Luallen 42

Jim Bunning 36
Dan Mongiardo 43

This sets up an interesting dynamic for Republicans going into 2010. Clearly, their best bet to hold the seat is to make sure Bunning abandons it to make way for an alternative. But Bunning seems prepared to run and lose just to spite the NRSC. In the wake of this potential kamikaze mission, will Big John go against precedent and support a primary challenge to Bunning? Talk about a poster boy for the implosion of the Republican Party.

Update [2009-4-8 15:41:10 by Todd Beeton]:I should note that PPP also polls head-to-head match-ups between the Democrats and potential non-Bunning Republicans David Williams and Trey Grayson. Senate Guru explains why there's no good news here for Big John Cornyn.

Back to the Republicans, it won't help Bunning's standing when he releases his admittedly "lousy" fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2009. While it looks like Grayson is the only Republican to give the Democrats a competitive run, remember that Grayson, who considers Bunning to be a political mentor, has said that he will not run in a primary against Bunning. And, wind at his face be damned, stubborn Jim Bunning isn't going anywhere.

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Jesse Jackson Jr. Subject of Blago-Related Ethics Probe

Jesse Jackson Jr. (aka Senate Candidate A) may have thought that his press conference, during which he adamantly denied any wrongdoing vis a vis accusations that he negotiated with Rod Blagojevich for Barack Obama's Senate seat, put the issue to rest.

It so did not.

An independent panel that reviews possible ethical lapses by members of the House of Representatives has launched a preliminary review of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s efforts to be appointed to the U.S. Senate by ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to a published report.

The Office of Congressional Ethics voted in late March for the review, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in a story posted Tuesday on its Web site, citing documents released to parties involved in the inquiry.

The committee has asked for documents, e-mails and other correspondence from Blagojevich's gubernatorial and campaign staff regarding Jackson, Jackson's brother Jonathan and his campaign staff, the Sun-Times reported, citing lawyers close to the probe. It requested information from June through December 2008.

The specifics of the accusations levied against Jackson Jr. involve an alleged deal that Blagojevich thought was in place.

From CLTV:

Federal prosecutors say former Governor Rod Blagojevich believed he would get $1.5 million in campaign money if he appointed Jackson to the Senate seat.

Jackson has denied that any such deal was in place.

If Jackson's admission that he was indeed Senate Candidate A weren't enough to essentially disqualify him from running for the Senate seat, this should put the nail in that coffin.

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Fixing CNBC One Petition Drive At A Time

A few weeks ago, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched their FixCNBC campaign to demand that CNBC engage in "responsible journalism that holds Wall Street accountable" and you guys helped drive the number of signatures on their petition to up over 20,000 (after an initial goal of 5k was smashed several times over.) Since the launch of the campaign, we've actually seen some real change at CNBC.

From Sam Stein:

Since the launch of FixCNBC.com, the network has, in fact, made several programming changes. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean was brought on as a regular commentator, and Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington guest hosted CNBC's morning show Squawk Box last week.

"Too often, groups put up online 'petitions' that aren't tied to any larger campaign," Green said of the FixCNBC.com letter. "We wanted to make sure CNBC truly received the message that people want them to do journalism that holds Wall Street accountable. And now we'll focus the energy of over 20,000 people on electing bold progressives to Congress -- candidates who will hold Wall Street accountable."

In order to ensure the petition campaign actually continues to change CNBC for the better, PCCC delivered the petition 20k+ signatures strong to CNBC's headquarters in New Jersey and you can watch the most entertaining petition delivery video I've literally ever seen below.

If you like the video and what PCCC is doing, pitch in a few bucks to help them recoup the costs of making the video (starving video editors need to eat too...)

Great work, PCCC.

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MN-Sen: Thanks, Norm!

Last week, the 3-judge panel presiding over the Minnesota Senate trial ordered several hundred absentee ballots opened and counted. Today 351 ballots were counted and the last thing I heard on the live feed at The Uptake before the session ended was "Franken 198, Coleman 111." Not exactly the result Norm Coleman had in mind when he set this whole trial thing in motion, but hey, thanks, Norm!

From The Star Tribune's report:

Democrat Al Franken today extended his lead over Republican Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate election, following the counting of about 350 formerly rejected absentee ballots this morning by a three-judge panel.

Unofficially, Franken took nearly 200 of the ballots, while Coleman added a little more than 100. The ballots added about 90 to Franken's recount lead, enlarging his margin over Coleman to more than 300.

The result makes it even more likely that, barring an unforeseen circumstance, Franken will prevail in the election lawsuit that Coleman filed in January to contest the Democrat's 225-vote recount lead. The court has not said when it will issue a final decision in the case.

In real terms, this result changes nothing. As Norm himself has made clear, he will appeal the final decision by the court to the Minnesota Supreme Court. But let the record show that today's count, which was a result of Norm Coleman's lawsuit, reinforces a trend we've seen continue ever since the election in November: the more votes that are counted the more Al Franken's lead grows. Al Franken was the choice of Minnesotans and as such should be seated in the US Senate. Sign the DSCC's petition telling Norm to give it up.

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Americans Trust Obama, Not Republicans

In his OpEd in The Washington Post two weeks ago, Evan Bayh claimed of his merry band of moderates: "it is not our intent to water down the president's agenda. We intend to strengthen and sustain it" yet watering down at best and obstructing completely at worst is precisely what Bayh himself has repeatedly done and continues to do to elements of President Obama's agenda. Bayh was one of just two Democrats to vote against Obama's budget resolution, he has actively campaigned to maintain a 60 vote threshold for health care reform and cap and trade legislation and he is holding cram-down, a central element of the president's housing initiative, hostage. And he does this all in the name of moderation, which he defines as a path down the center, which is, ya know, where the people are:

These are titanic and complicated tasks, and we believe that many worthwhile policy solutions can be found in the practical center -- ideas that also have the benefit of appealing to vast segments of the American electorate.

The reality, of course, is that by opposing elements of the president's agenda, Bayh is not striking a moderate balance down some fictional center at all, he is opposing the majority and enabling the radical obstructionist minority. Look at these poll numbers from the latest New York Times poll and tell me who represents the center:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?

Approve 66
Disapprove 24

Regardless of how you usually vote, who do you think is more likely to make the right decisions about the nation's economy -- Barack Obama or the Republicans in Congress?

President Obama 63
Republicans in Congress 20

Regardless of how you usually vote, who do you think is more likely to make the right decisions about keeping the nation safe -- Barack Obama or the Republicans in Congress?

President Obama 61
Republicans in Congress 27

The moderates reject the idea that by electing Obama by a 53-46 margin in November, the electorate ratified the agenda that then candidate Obama ran on for 2 years. So how about now that the American people have gotten a close-up look at now President Obama's agenda and they support him by an even greater margin? Who's the real moderate here? Evan Bayh equates moderation with consensus and majority rule yet votes against those very things at every turn. Senator Bayh, our problem with you isn't that you're moderate, it's that you're not.

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Thank You, Mr. President

At a press conference in Turkey, President Obama asserted the reality that the United States of America is a secular nation made up of people of a variety of different faiths.

"One of the great strengths of the United States," the President said, "is ... we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

Of course, to some, this statement is controversial. Below, you can see a rightwing hack trying to stir up controversy on CNN. Wolf doesn't often divert from his ongoing attempt at striking a balance between his guests from the left and right but it's pretty entertaining to watch him clearly side with James Carville.

During his inaugural address, President Obama gave a shout out to the non-religious among us. It's great to see him continuing to assert the fact that the US is indeed a secular nation, quite a change from the last 8 years where the notion that Christianity is our putative national religion was reinforced time and time again by the president.

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NY-Gov: Majority of New Yorkers Say Paterson Should Step Aside

A new Quinnipiac University poll (1,528 RVs, April 1- 5, MOE +/- 2.5%) confirms what otherpolls have found: Gov. David Paterson is remarkably unpopular in New York, would lose a primary to Andrew Cuomo and would lose the general election to Rudy Giuliani.

New York State voters disapprove 60 - 28 percent of the job Gov. David Paterson is doing, the lowest approval ever for a New York Governor, and say 63 - 22 percent that he does not deserve to be elected to a full four-year term, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. [...]

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, with a near-record high 75 - 14 percent approval rating, tops Paterson in a Democratic primary 61 - 18 percent.

In a general election, Republican Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, tops Paterson 53 - 32 percent.

There is one question that Quinnipiac polls but that has not been polled before to my knowledge, which is whether Paterson should step aside and not run for a full term next year. The response is devastating for Team Paterson.

Gov. Paterson's approval is so low that he should announce now that he won't run for election to a four-year term next year, 53 percent of voters tell the independent Quinnipiac University poll, while 39 percent say he can restore his reputation and should run next year. Even Democrats say 49 - 45 percent that he should drop out of the race now.

Paterson's problems have now clearly transcended his mishandling of the appointment of the Senate seat. He is now being judged more on his actual job as governor than anything else but I have to think his negatives are exagerrated by the contrast with the extraordinarily popular Cuomo, whose profile has only risen in the wake of the AIG bonus scandal. Check out Cuomo's numbers:

"This poll has nothing but good news for Cuomo. His job approval is stratospheric, duplicating his 76 percent approval in February. And in election matchups, he leads Paterson more than 3-1 and shows he's the Democrat who can beat Giuliani," Carroll said.

New York State voters give Cuomo a 63 - 17 percent favorability rating, with a 43 - 33 percent positive among Republicans.

Something tells me David Paterson is second guessing his decision not to appoint Cuomo to the Senate seat.

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