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Category Archive for ‘New York’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'New York' Category


Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

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Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

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Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

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Gubernatorial rating changes: Arkansas is now the sole safe governorship for Democrats

We are down to only one safe Democratic governorship anywhere in the country.

With New York moving to the “likely Democratic” column due to a series of developments (Rick Lazio’s withdrawal, polls showing a single-digit race, questions about Attorney General-fatigue) and with Governor Lynch looking increasingly shaky in New Hampshire’s until-recently safe governorship, Democrats don’t have much left to hang onto. And they should be grateful key governorships like Missouri, Washington and North Carolina are not in play this year.

And yet, despite the large number of contests that have moved towards the GOP in recent months, Democratic odds continue to brighten in the country’s biggest prize: California. Despite Jerry Brown’s many gaffes (I still find it hard to believe he let himself be baited into attacking Bill Clinton) and Meg Whitman’s record spending, the Democrat looked like he was finally opening up a lead in recent weeks - and that was before Whitman’s former housekeeper shook-up the race with her accusatory press conference. Whitman has been on the defensive ever since, even offering to take a polygraph test before retracting herself. I am leaving the race in the toss-up section for now, but it’s certainly tilting Democratic - something I would certainly not had said two weeks ago.

And Democrats got good news from a far more unlikelier place this week: the Midwest! While the entire region looked all but lost for Democratic candidates, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn have suddenly rebounded in a series of polls (3 Ohio polls showing a 1%-race within 24 hours whereas we hadn’t since that type of margin since June, and 2 Illinois surveys showing a toss-up); they both remain “lean Republican” for now, but whereas two weeks ago both states were close to moving further towards the GOP they are now very much in play. Also in the Midwest, there is now enough evidence that Minnesota looks good for Democrats that I am moving the race out of the toss-up column.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the other big “toss-up” prize is going the other direction. Rick Scott’s millions look to be having the same effect in the general election as they did in the GOP primary, as he has erased the consistent advantage Alex Sink enjoyed since late August. This is a race Democrats should really focus on - both because of Florida’s size and because the contest remains very much winnable given Scott’s obvious vulnerabilities. In other good news for the GOP, Georgia and New Mexico move to “lean Republican” while Iowa and Oklahoma move to “likely Republican.”

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean Dem Likely Dem Safe Dem
Dem-held Kansas
Wyoming
Iowa
Michigan
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Illinois
NM
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Wisconsin
Maine
Maryland
Oregon
Massachusetts Colorado
NH
New York
Arkansas
GOP-held Idaho
Nebraska
SD
Utah
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Nevada
SC
Georgia
Texas
California
Florida
Vermont
Connecticut
Hawaii
Minnesota
Rhode Island

Georgia, toss-up to lean Republican: While Roy Barnes remains very much in contention, Georgia has become too GOP-friendly a state for a Democrat not to be an underdog - especially when it doesn’t appear that turnout among African-Americans (a key constituency for Democrats in any state, let alone in Georgia) will be anywhere as high as in 2008. Add to that the fact that the race will go to a December runoff if neither candidate reaches 50%, and the very least we can say is that Barnes will not be the victor on November 2nd. That said, it is fairly likely he’ll be able to hold former Rep. Nathan Deal under that threshold too. Deal might have taken a consistent albeit narrow lead in the polls, but he has a lot of baggage (remember that he resigned from the House in the hopes of avoiding the release of a damning ethics report) that might get wider exposure in a runoff campaign.

Iowa, lean Republican to likely Republican: It’s hard to remember, but Governor Culver actually started the cycle in a fairly comfortable position; that was before the electorate turned against Democrats, before the Midwest became ground zero of the party’s nightmare and before Terry Branstad announced he would seek his old position back. Culver trailed Branstad massively from the beginning of the campaign, and the more we approach Election Day the more hopeless his situation becomes. It’s one thing for an incumbent to trail by double-digits a year before the election; quite another six weeks prior. At the moment, Iowa no longer appears to be in play - and Branstad is probably going to become king-maker as head of the state that is going to lunch the 2012 Republican primaries.

Minnesota, toss-up to lean Democratic: Minnesota is one relatively bright spot for Democrats. Since Democrats nominated Mark Dayton to be their nominee, the former Senator has enjoyed a decent lead in a series of polls - typically in the high single-digits. This can be attributed to a number of factors. For one, the incumbent Governor is a Republican - a rare sight in the Midwest, and one that seems to be diminishing voters’ desire to turn to the GOP to achieve changeover.

Second, Republican nominee Tom Emmer is very conservative, especially on social issues - more than is advisable for a GOP nominee in a swing state that typically tilts to the left. While many other conservatives are highly competitive in blue states (think of Brady in Illinois), the fact that this an open race means Emmer cannot just deflect attention to an incumbent’s unpopularity. Furthermore, the presence of Independent Party nominee Tom Horner gives moderates who do not want to vote for a Democrat this year a place to go other than Emmer. And we certainly cannot rule out Horner becoming a contender for the win; he is flirting with the 20% bar in polls.

New Mexico, toss-up to lean Republican: Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has to be all the more pained at the collapse of her gubernatorial prospects that she was so close from becoming Governor at the end of 2008: Obama had appointed Governor Bill Richardson to his Cabinet, and had Richardson not withdrawn from consideration Denish would have replaced him in the Governor’s Mansion. But that only seemed to delay her coronation, as Denish started off in a strong position to win the open Governor’s race in 2010.

That was before it became clear just how powerful the GOP wave had become - and just how much Democrats would suffer in states in which they are unpopular at the local level on top of the national level. New Mexico is one of these states. While it looked to have swung decisively blue in 2008, Richardson’s ethical struggles combined and the state’s economic difficulties transformed the political landscape - and what was unimaginable 18 months ago is now very much true: Denish is undeniably trailing her Republican opponent, DA Susana Martinez, who has been highly-touted by GOP officials ever since she won her primary. Going forward, remember that New Mexico is one of those states Obama has to defend in 2010.

New York, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Governor Carl Paladino… That’s such a difficult notion to entertain I have trouble upgrading the GOP’s prospects in this race, but there is no question that what long looked like an Andrew Cuomo juggernaut has weakened. His 40% leads are no more, and while all polls still show he remains the clear favorite, two post-primary surveys have found that the race is down to single-digits. Perhaps the sight of a Governor-in-waiting annoyed New Yorkers and perhaps there is something to the argument that an Attorney General’s popularity is shallow and can easily be punctured (as was demonstrated with Martha Coakley and to a lesser extent with Richard Blumenthal); or perhaps the margin was always bound to shrink given that suburban New Yorkers already signaled in November 2009 just how much they were ready to oust Democrats (Tom Suozzi can speak to that). Add to that Rick Lazio’s decision to drop out of the race, allowing Paladino to consolidate the Conservative Party line on top of the GOP line, and a path to victory opens up for the Republican nominee.

That said, New York is still a reliably Democratic state and Paladino (a millionaire best-known for sending out racist emails, for getting in a physical altercation with a New York Post reporter and for proposing to house welfare recipients in prisons) is so extremist that a number of Republicans have looked uncomfortable campaigning for him. The mere fact that we’re considering a victory by Paladino  possible is a testament to the GOP’s success this year; it’s hard to imagine Republicans can hope for more

Oklahoma, lean Republican to likely Republican: On paper, Democrats should have a good chance to defend this governorship: Not only do they have a strong candidate in Lieutenant Governor Jeri Askins but they won the last open race, which held in 2002 - no bright year for their party. But the electorate is far more hostile towards Democrats this year than it was eight years ago. Oklahoma is simply too conservative a state for Republicans not to be clearly favored in these circumstances, and Republican Rep. Mary Fallin (a former Lieutenant Governor) is not the type of politician to blunder her way out of front-running status. One thing is clear: Oklahoma will have its first female Governor come 2011.


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Senate ratings changes: Dems catch a break in California, give it right back in West Virginia

6 rating changes at the Senate level - and all but one favors the GOP. Democrats have caught a major break as Barbara Boxer has created some breathing room in California, but that doesn’t mean they should feel much comfort since West Virginia has gone the opposite way, unexpectedly entering toss-up status.

Keep in mind that Governor Joe Manchin voluntarily scheduled this special election this November when it was supposed to be held in 2012; and he did this knowing just how rough the political environment would be for his party. He thought his popularity would get him through, but enough West Virginia voters seem to prioritize turning Congress Republican that all bets are now off in a state that has turned sharply against Democrats over the past decade.

Meanwhile, Democratic hopes of picking-up a GOP-held Senate seat continue to fade, with Missouri, Ohio and North Carolina all shifting one column towards Republicans.

And as if the landscape wasn’t bad enough for Democrats, I was tempted to downgrade their chances in several more races (Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire) rather than upgrading them anywhere.

Safe GOP Likely GOP Lean GOP Toss-up Lean Dem Likely Dem Safe Dem
Dem-held ND AR IN
PA
CO
IL
NV
WI
WV
CA
CT
WA
DE
NY-B
HI
MD

NY-A
OR
VT
GOP-held AL
AZ
GA
IA
KS
ID
OK
SC
SD
UT
AK
LA
NC
OH
FL
KY
MO
NH

This gets us to the following breakdown:

  • Safe Democratic: 45 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely Democratic: 47 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely/Lean Democratic: 50
  • Toss-ups: 6 (-1)
  • Safe/Likely/Lean Republican: 44 (+1)
  • Safe/Likely Republican: 39 (+2)
  • Safe Republican: 34

California, toss-up to lean Democratic: This is one of the only statewide races in the country that has been trending towards Democrats over the past few weeks - and what a relief for Democrats. Sure, the whack-the-mole game that the Senate landscape has become (hat-tip to Swing State Project for suggesting that metaphor) means that Barbara Boxer’s improving fortunes don’t cement her party’s majority since the state has been replaced by West Virginia as the site of a potential upset, but Democrats will get any positive development they can get - and there is no doubt Boxer has been gaining: Rasmussen and SUSA have both shown her bouncing back from a deficit to take a substantial lead, while PPP, CNN/Time, the Field Poll and the Los Angeles Times have her up between 6% and 9%. CNN/Time even has her leading by 19% among registered voters!

Add to that the fact that the NRSC has canceled the time it had reserved on California airwaves in the final week before the election, and Carly Fiorina sure isn’t feeling the momentum. (On a more positive note for the GOP, that’s more airtime for Meg Whitman to saturate.) The race remains competitive, however; Boxer has been outspending Fiorina on the airwaves, so we’ll have to see what happens once (if?) the Republican manages to hit back. Also, the turnout gap seems less dramatic in California than elsewhere but any improvement in the GOP’s fortunes could be fatal to the 3-term incumbent.

Missouri, toss-up to lean Republican: I should have put this race in the lean Republican column weeks ago, but Robin Carnahan has looked like a strong enough candidate all year that I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt for a while longer. After all, Roy Blunt seems in many ways to be the type of candidate voters are looking to oust this year - longtime incumbent, party leadership, bailout architect, not to mention the father of an unpopular former Governor - but his party affiliation is enough to give him a narrow but consistent lead. Carnahan remains within striking distance, but she is acting too defensively for now.

New York, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Joe DioGuardi might be a former representative, but his entry wasn’t a recruitment coup for Republicans who were long hoping for Rudy Giuliani. Still, New York’s suburbs look so intent on punishing Democrats that statewide upsets can no longer be ruled out. Polls have shown conflicting results in this race; Marist and Siena have recently come out with big Gillibrand leads, Rasmussen has shown her advantage cut in half to a 10% lead; and Quinnipiac and SUSA claim she is only leading up 6% and 1%, respectively. Call it likely Democratic for now, but the race could still shift towards the GOP.

North Carolina, lean Republican to likely Republican: In 2008, Richard Burr would probably have been a goner. Few voters seem to feel affection for him and his poll numbers have long been remarkably low. But Democrats are having trouble enough winning even their safest seats of the year to have much hope of ousting an incumbent in a state that, even in the friendliest of years, is no better than swing. And if that’s not enough, the DSCC sent clear and loud signals it puts no trust in Elaine Marshall from the day she announced her candidacy. That attitude was unexplainable since Marshall was polling competitively and since she always looked like the party nominee (sure, don’t give her support but at least don’t make it clear you think she’ll lose) and it undermined her bid: Why would the press and party donors take Marshall seriously if her national party isn’t? Any chance Democrats had of taking advantage of Burr’s massive vulnerability was destroyed with the DSCC’s behavior.

Ohio, lean Republican to likely Republican: One of Democrats’ top pick-up opportunities just a year ago, Ohio’s Senate race long resisted the GOP trend we were seeing in other races; at a time Blanche Lincoln, Robin Carnahan and Harry Reid were already dipping, Lee Fisher remained on top of Rob Portman. But Ohio has turned hard against Democrats - and the party is bound to feel the consequences in an open seat race: Democrats were hoping to use Portman’s close association to George W. Bush to their advantage, but Portman looks and acts too much like a generic Republican for him not to benefit from the Midwest’s shift to the GOP. This contest is way over-polled; many surveys have been released over the past two weeks with Portman up double-digits.

West Virginia, likely Democratic to toss-up: In a week full of bad news for Democrats, the worst is undoubtedly West Virginia’s sudden entry in the ranks of competitive Senate races. Remember that the state party chose to hold this election this year rather than in 2012, under the belief that Governor Joe Manchin is popular now and would stand a good chance at being elected. With West Virginia voters clearly turned against Democrats, that is now looking like a disastrous calculation. It’s not just that PPP and Rasmussen suddenly released polls showing wealthy Republican nominee Joe Raese narrowly ahead leading, but there’s also clear indication that the party’s internal information points to a close race: The NRSC just poured in $1,2 million in a 2-week ad campaign, something they would not have done if they weren’t confident this is a winnable race.


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Ratings update: The landscape isn’t done shifting away from Dems

I first want to thank all those who wrote very kind words after I announced I would end regular blogging, either in the comments section, via e-mail or Twitter. It was very heart-warming to know how much Campaign Diaries meant to so many people. As I promised then, I am now thinking about the best way to put together a weekly update system. Perhaps it would be best to keep it open so I have the flexibility to do what I think fits the week best, though I will try to be regular.

This week, I am posting a “ratings update”, as many of my race assesments grew stale over the past month - most notably in Indiana and upstate New York. The races that are written in red are those in which the rating is changing towards Republicans; those that are written in blue are those in which the rating is changing towards Democrats.

Senate

Indiana, lean Democratic to toss-up: All hell broke loose in the Hoosier State when Evan Bayh announced his retirement just 24 hours from the filing deadline, but Democrats have managed to stabilize the situation by convincing Rep. Brad Ellsworth to give up his relatively safe House seat for a tough statewide campaign. (To be clear: Ellsworth has not yet been officially tapped by the party committee, but there is little doubt he will be the nominee.) If Ellsworth manages to defend this conservative-leaning state in an environment that is this toxic for his party, it will largely be because Bayh’s timing prevented Republicans from securing as formidable a nominee as they would have otherwise: It would have been harder to imagine Ellsworth prevailing against Mitch Daniels, Todd Rokita or Mike Pence than against former Senator Dan Coats, a former lobbyist who moved away from the state and hasn’t faced voters since 1992, or against former Rep. John Hostettler, who has always ran poor campaigns and has a very rough relationship with national Republicans. The GOP nonetheless starts with a slight edge, but Indiana is sure to host a highly competitive campaign.

Governor

Illinois-Gov, likely Democratic to lean Democratic: Not only is Pat Quinn running as the incumbent Governor of a Midwestern state - a sure way to face electoral trouble this year - but he cannot even count on one of the biggest assets of incumbency - voter familiarity: He came to become Governor upon Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment rather than through a victory of his own. Add to this the possibility that Blagojevich’s summer trial reflects badly on state Democrats, and the GOP has reason to hope it can oust Quinn. Yet, state Senator Bill Brady’s apparent victory should prevent Republicans from making full use of Governor Pat Quinn’s vulnerabilities as the relatively conservative state Senator could have trouble making himself acceptable to this blue state’s electorate. The fact that he is from downstate could boost GOP turnout across the state, but it might cause moderate voters in the Chicago suburbs not to support him. Furthermore, Brady has been denied the bounce primary winners typically get because it took a month for his victory over state Senator Kirk Dillard to be confirmed, while Quinn displayed strong survival skills in the Democratic primary.

Pennsylvania, toss-up to lean Republican: This is one of the most bizarre races of the cycle because of Democrats’ inability to recruit a strong candidate in what should have been one of the party’s priority. Former Rep. Joe Hoeffel, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Auditor General Jack Wagner might make decent candidates, but none of them appears to have much name recognition nor a preexisting popularity that would help them beat back the electorate’s current hostility towards Democrats. Attorney General Tom Corbett, on the other hand, has been a dominant force in the GOP primary and polls show he is well-known and relatively well-liked.

Ohio, lean Democratic to toss-up: Governor Ted Strickland entered the cycle in a very comfortable position. He had triumphed in the 2006 open seat race, he enjoyed strong approval ratings and it did not look like Ohio Republicans could recover from years of dismal showings in time to mount a credible challenge. Yet, the recession has hit Midwestern states with particular ferocity, and it is no shock that Strickland’s poll numbers have fallen along with Ohioans’ economic condition. Republicans are high on former Rep. John Kasich, and Ohio’s status as one of the premier swing states should ensure national parties prioritize this race. While polls differ as to where it stands (Quinnipiac has Strickland leading outside of the margin of error, Rasmussen shows Kasich leading by large margins), there is no doubt it’s one of the country’s most competitive contests.

Texas, likely Republican to lean Republican: Rick Perry displayed amazing political resilience throughout 2009, dispatching popular Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison with an ease no one could have foreseen a year ago. Yet, he did so by using a strategy that should be ill-fitted to beat former Houston Mayor Bill White in the general election: The electorate Perry needs to court should be less amused by his talk of secession and his refusal to take federal funds and White will not suffer from anti-Washington sentiment the way Hutchison did. Add to that Perry’s clear vulnerabilities - not only is it not good to be an incumbent governor this year, but his approval rating is decidedly mediocre and he won re-election with only 39% of the vote in 2006 - and White has a clear shot at winning Democrats’ first major victory in Texas since 1990.

Utah, safe Republican to likely Republican: Are Republicans trembling with fear at the thought of facing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon in the general election? No: Utah is too conservative a state for a Democrat to ever have that credible a shot at winning a statewide victory. Yet, Coroon does represent one third of the state’s population in a capacity that ensures he is visible and recent polls show he could score an upset if Gary Herbert (an unelected incumbent) stumbles.

House

FL-21, safe Republican to likely Republican: While candidates who try to succeed family members are more often than not successful, Mario Diaz-Balart’s announcement that he would run to replace his retiring brother Lincoln was so bizarre that it is worth keeping an eye on whether Democrats can recruit a strong candidate, attack Mario’s credibility and make the most of Southern Florida’s growing openness to voting for Democrats (Gore lost the district by 16%, Obama by 2%).

FL-25, likely Republican to lean Republican: Mario Diaz-Balart decided to switch districts because he felt FL-21 was a safer bet for a Republican than his FL-25, which covers western Miami-Dade County. While that means concentrating on FL-21 might not be advisable for Democrats, it also signals that an open seat in FL-25 is a real opportunity - even in a tough environment. Yet, much will depend on Democratic recruitment. While Republicans have already lined up top candidates (state Rep. David Rivera is running and state Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz will probably join him), Democrats are waiting for 2008 nominee Joe Garcia to make up his mind; Garcia, who now works in the Obama administration, came close to defeating Diaz-Balart two years ago.

IN-08, safe Democratic to toss-up: Evan Bayh’s retirement caused open seat headaches not only for Senate Democrats but also for their House counterparts, as Brad Ellsworth withdrew his name from the IN-08 ballot hours before the filing deadlne in the expectation that he’d be chosen to replace Bayh. Thankfully for the DCCC, the timing of Ellsworth’s exit might very well save the party: the GOP did not have time to recruit a top candidate. Heart surgeon Larry Bucshon would be a credible nominee, but you can be sure Republicans would have been able to find a far stronger candidate had IN-8 become an open seats weeks before - not to mention Bucshon can’t be sure to win the 8-way primary! Ellsworth, meanwhile, was able to orchestrate a transition with state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, who thus has a stronger shot at defending the district. All of this said, IN-8 remains red-leaning, the DCCC’s first choice (Evansville Mayor Jon Weinsapfel) passed on the race and the environment is tough enough that this open seat is no better than a toss-up for Democrats.

KS-03, toss-up to lean Republican: While Democrats can never expect to have it easy in Kansas, this is one open seat they should not have let get this compromised: KS-03 voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and the party had a reasonable bench from which to pick a candidate. Yet, one by one Democrats have ruled out running - the biggest blow being Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon - while the GOP field leaves nothing to be desired. The DCCC is now reduced to hoping that Rep. Dennis Moore’s wife Stephene Moore runs, as reports suggest she might; while she might be able to keep the party competitive, it’s hard to see how an inexperienced political spouse can get elected in a swing district in the absence of any sympathy factor.

MA-10, safe Democratic to lean Democratic: Rumors that Rep. Delahunt was preparing to retire started swirling in early 2010, but you can bet the DCCC was hoping they would not come to be true. MA-10 might be the state’s less Democratic seat, but this is likely the only cycle in which the GOP would have a real chance of winning an open race in a district that gave Gore, Kerry and Obama double-digit victories. Yet, MA-10 also decisively voted for Scott Brown, proving that voters are open to backing a Republican - and the NRCC is confident that former state Treasurer Joe Malone will make the most of this opportunity. Democrats in the running at the moment are state Sen. Robert O’Leary and Norfolk Co. DA William Keating.

MS-04, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Gene Taylor has easily held a district that gave John McCain 68% of the vote since 1989, convincing tens of thousands of conservative voters to support him: he received more than 75% in six of his last last seven races. His electoral track record make him a solid bet for re-election, but if there is any year the GOP could unseat him, it’s in 2010. State Rep. Steven Palazzo has announced he will challenge Taylor, which is as serious a challenge as any the staunchly conservative Democrat has received recently.

NY-29, lean retention to toss-up: What is going on in the Empire State? Rep. Eric Massa became the latest New York politician to self-implode in a bizarre scandal involving harassment claims, unwanted tickling sessions and allegations that he was pushed out due to his opposition to the health-care bill. Even after the first headlines appeared, Massa’s abrupt decision to resign came as a surprise, though it simultaneously helps Nancy Pelosi find the votes to pass the health-care bill and gives the DCCC the headache of worrying about yet another problematic special election on top of May’s PA-12 and HI-01. In fact, the NY-29 special will be New York’s third in a single cycle - a number that matches the record set by far larger California a few cycles back! While Democrats pulled unlikely triumphs in NY-20 and NY-23 in 2009, NY-29 is more conservative since it is one of only three state districts to have voted for McCain. Furthermore, the Democratic nominee will have to run under the clout of the Paterson and Massascandals at a time the new York electorate has shown signs of being exasperated with the party. Finally, the GOP will not be weighed down by the two factors that doomed its NY-20 and NY-23 candidates (too much of a connection to Albany and intraparty fighting), as Corning Mayor Tom Reed is emerging as a consensus choice. That said, Reed, who was already running before Massa’s resignation, had never come to look as that formidable a candidate and the GOP might have been better off with a stronger contender. It remains to be seen who Democrats pick.

OH-02, likely Republican to safe Republican: While Democrats threw a lot at Rep. Jean Schmidt in 2005, 2006 and 2008, they never fielded the type of prominent candidate whose local ties could have overcome the district’s staunchly conservative lean. They thought they would finally be able to do so in 2010, but the state legislator whose candidacy the DCCC spent months touting dropped out in November. The Democratic nominee will be Surya Yalamanchili, a political novice whose claim to fame comes from a bout on Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, or David Krikorian, who got double-digits running as an independent in 2008. While they might have been promising candidates in other years, voters seem too reluctant to oust a GOP incumbent this year for a Republican holding a 59%-McCain district to have much to worry about - however controversial her profile.

OH-13, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: For car dealer Tom Ganley to defeat Rep. Betty Sutton would be one of the biggest upsets of Election Night, and yet it is no longer possible to rule out such results. While OH-13 gave John Kerry and Barack Obama double-digits victories, Ganley is reportedly willing to spend as much as $1 million of his money funding his race and Sutton is too junior a lawmaker for Democrats to be confident she can resist voters’ hostility towards her party. At the very least, OH-13 could emerge as a late headache for the DCCC, forcing the party committee to spend precious resources defending Sutton rather than more obviously vulnerable Democrats.

RI-01, safe Democratic to likely Democratic: Democrats were sure not expecting to spend as much as a minute worrying about a district that gave Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama more than 62% of the vote, but Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s retirement has given the GOP hope that state Rep. John Loughlin can make the race competitive. The Democratic field is made up of two prominent contenders with a relatively progressive reputation - Providence Mayor David Cicilline and state Democratic Party chairman William Lynch; an ugly race could open the door to Loughlin, since the primary will not be held until September 14th. A wild card is the possible candidacy of former Providence MayorBuddy Cianci, who recently spent four years in federal prison but has now said he is considering an independent run.


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Movement in Dem primaries: Harold Ford out, Bill Halter in

While it was initially difficult to take the possibility Harold Ford Jr. might run for Senate in New York seriously, the former Tennessee congressman had come to look determined to pursue the race. That makes his announcement tonight that he will not challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand somewhat of a surprise.

For a politician to make an unabashed defense of Wall Street his most recognizable campaign issue does not appear to be the best idea after all - if you even believe Ford was serious about running, which I remain doubtful about. Given that he has gotten The New York Times to cover his exit as a sacrifice for the good of the party, it would not surprise me if there is more at play here.

This is the third time over the past twelve months that a Democrat seemingly on the brink of running in New York’s Senate primary pulled back at the last minute. First was Rep. Steve Israel; next was Rep. Carolyn Maloney; and now Ford, who has chosen to make his decision known to the breathless world in an op-ed to be published in The New York Times. Of course, the stakes changed quite a bit: While the left was encouraging Maloney and Israel to get in, Gillibrand became progressives’ champion when she was compared to the conservative Ford.

It now seems safe to say that the senator’s only primary opponent will be labor activist Jonathan Tasini, who drew 17% in his challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2006. While Tasini might very well receive more in September, Gillibrand is overwhelmingly favored to prevail. Now, she would also have been the front-runner had Ford jumped in, but that match-up would have set off a media frenzy that would have kept Democrats busy right up to the September primary, potentially opening the door for Republicans to contest the seat. Indeed, Marc Ambinder reported last month that former Governor George Pataki was signaling potential interest in the race, but only if he saw Ford was in a position to substantially harm the incumbent before the general election.

Let us not forget that Ford had refused to rule out an independent bid, a possibility that is now apparently also out the door. That is one less nightmarish scenario for the DSCC to worry about.

As such, Ford’s exit is a rare blow to Republican efforts to expand the Senate map, as it makes it all the harder to see what could go wrong with Gillibrand’s image for her to lose to the GOP’s sole candidate Bruce Blakeman or for the NRSC to convince Pataki to run. This leaves Wisconsin and Washington as the two Dem-held Senate seats that are currently not competitive but might be depending on recruitment.

If Gillibrand dodged yet another primary bullet today, Blanche Lincoln landed an opponent: Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, whom I first wrote about eleven months ago, announced today he will challenge her in May’s Democratic primary.

My one-sentence take on this development: Given how low Lincoln’s re-election prospects have sank, Democrats have nothing to lose but trying out their luck with another candidate.

When a very well-known incumbent trails even low-profile challengers by double-digits, an open seat might very well be all that is left for a party to save itself - a consideration that’s all the more true given the electorate hostility towards incumbents and towards the federal government. At the very least, for Halter to win the nomination could free the DSCC from its commitment to spending millions in Arkansas: Even if Labor Day polls were to show Boozman with an overwhelming lead, national Democrats might still not be able to deny Lincoln money that could go to other states, whereas they presumably would be less

Naturally, the obstacles to Halter’s bid are stark. If he were to win the general election, he would start as the clear underdog given Boozman’s strength, Arkansas’s red hue and the cycle’s anti-Democratic winds; all these reasons are also dooming Lincoln, but at least she has money to try to surmount them, the name recognition to get voters to pay attention to her and more electoral experience.

Before he can even think of the general election, Halter has to get out of the primary - and here again he faces a very steep climb. Lincoln might have grown into Democrats’ main nemesis for much of 2009 - she not only was one of the public option’s biggest opponents but was also the first (and I believe to this day only) Democrat to announce opposition to EFCA and pushed a huge tax break on the estate tax - but state Democrats are to the right of the national party’s and Arkansas’s incumbent Senators fairly rarely lose primary fights, especially when they have already won before rather than been elected. A key to the Halter-Lincoln match-up will be African-Americans: To have a chance at defeating the incumbent, Halter will need to capitalize on black voters’ potential frustrations with Lincoln and he will need enough organizational muscle to get supporters out of the polls.

One question I have: Given that he was publicly mulling a challenge to Lincoln as early as last spring, why did he wait until 10 weeks before Election Day to make his launch his campaign? He might already be a statewide official, but he is not high-profile enough to have the luxury to wait like Andrew Cuomo, especially considering Lincoln is a very well-funded incumbent who has millions at her disposal to pour in attacks against Halter. The Lieutenant Governor might get a lot of help from the netroots - he had raised $500,000 within hours of his candidacy - but will that compensate Lincoln’s cash-on-hand and her deep ties to the Democratic establishment? (The White House wasted no time before confirming it would support Lincoln.)

[Update: Well, here's one answer as to how Halter can put together a full campaign in such a short period of time: Turns out killing EFCA doesn't endear one to labor groups. The AFL-CIO is already endorsing Halter and a coalition of unions has already committed to spending $3 million to ousting Lincoln.]

There has been a lot of talk today about the effects Halter’s bid might have on Lincoln’s positioning in the Senate, but I doubt this is a meaningful story at this point. Had he announce a year ago, Lincoln might have acted differently at various points of 2009, but the next ten weeks should hardly be the occasion for Halter to pressure the incumbent to move leftward. Yes, the Senate might be called to vote on the health-care vote, but Harry Reid is unlikely to need Lincoln’s vote to pass a reconciliation sidecar: In the quest for 50 votes rather than 60, the names of the senators under the spotlight are Russ Feingold, Kent Conrad and Jim Webb rather than Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln.


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David Paterson to drop bid for a full term

Just one week after he launched his bid for a full term in New York’s Governor’s Mansion, David Paterson is set to announce that he is withdrawing his candidacy at a press conference this afternoon. The New York Times’s Wednesday night bombshell would have been too much for most politicians to overcome, let alone one who has grown one of the most unpopular incumbents in the country.

The main question going forward is whether the increasingly isolated Paterson will also be forced to resign. Two days after the scandal broke, Rep. Nita Lowey is the only prominent Democrat I am aware of who suggested the governor might consider doing so. With Paterson no longer a threat to anyone’s agenda, it is possible he’ll be able to weather the storm all the way to the end of 2010; if anything, Republicans might be better off if he remains in the Governor’s Mansion than if Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch gets to start over with a clean slate. (At 76, Ravitch would be extremely unlikely to seek a full term in November.)

Paterson’s retirement means that there will be 22 open Governor’s races on the 2010 ballot - a stunningly large number.

Yet, what is most striking about today’s apparent development is how little it changes to New York’s political landscape. You would think that for the governor of the country’s third most populous state to announce he was dropping his re-election bid would have colossal repercussions, but I am hard-pressed to think of what substantial change Paterson’s decision might have on New York politics other than remove the faint possibility Andrew Cuomo might have still grown scared of running for Governor and the possibility that a racially charged confrontation weigh down the entire Democratic ticket in the fall.

Paterson’s withdrawal clears the way for Cuomo to not only run but to secure the Democratic nod in undramatic fashion: It’s hard to see who would even want to challenge the state’s uber-popular Attorney General, let alone threaten him. (There are after all seven months left until Election Day, and New York is a difficult state in which to mount a statewide campaign; while Cuomo had yet to declare a bid, he was transparently putting together the infrastructure he would need to do so. The latest reports suggest Cuomo will now accelerate his timetable, but only by advancing his announcement date from April to mid-March.)

It also removes some of the GOP’s only hopes that they might have a shot at recapturing the Governor’s Mansion: Not only will Paterson not be the Democratic nominee (the latest poll found him trailing Rick Lazio), but Cuomo will move to the general election unscathed. Republicans would already have faced an uphill climb had Cuomo beat Paterson after months of suffering brutal attacks from the governor’s allies; how can they beat him now that he will likely have no trouble unifying the state’s Democratic Party? As I noted yesterday, they can hardly hope for Cuomo to turn into the second coming of Martha Coakley, despite the fact the two hold the same position in their respective states; Cuomo is a very well-known politician, and whatever the red wave it’ll be harder for a low-profile opponent to mount a financially competitive campaign in a large state like New York.

It is not just the GOP’s gubernatorial dreams that could be damaged by Paterson’s withdrawal and Cuomo’s emergence as the clear front-runner: For the Attorney General to become the state’s most prominent Democrat over the next nine months and for him to win a landslide victory in November should impact down-ballot races. Republicans have won a string of electoral victories in the Empire State in recent months, making them confident that the electorate’s discontent towards Democrats is particularly strong in New York. Since all polls show Cuomo is the one Democrat who has been left unscathed by Albany’s mess, he should protect his party from some of the brewing backlash by arguing that his coming-to-power is in itself the type of change voters are looking for.

Whether this saves Democrats’ majority in the state Senate remains to be seen, but the party should have an easier time defending its positions in the state legislature and also in the U.S. House (the NRCC has had high hopes for New York, since it is targeting Reps. Hall, Murphy, Arcuri, Owens, Maffei and Massa. The special elections in NY-20 and NY-23 showed that state Democrats remain solid). Similarly, it is harder to envision Bruce Blakeman gaining traction in the Senate race if Kirsten Gillibrand shares the top of the ticket with Andrew Cuomo, though all bets are off if George Pataki jumps in.

(Note: I will be heading out for much of the day, so if Paterson proves all of the New York press wrong at his 3pm press conference, I will not be be able to update this post. And I would not rule this out as a possibility: How many times did the press get it wrong about New York in the past year? Where are Senator Caroline Kennedy and Senate candidate Rudy Giuliani? Update: He didn’t. Paterson is retiring.)


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Yet another bombshell NYT story about a New York Governor

Nearly two years after a New York Times launched a bombshell of a story at Eliot Spitzer’s political career, David Paterson finds himself teetering on the brink, the second New York Governor in a row to find himself fighting for his political life following explosive allegations by the Grey Lady.

Of course, the revelations concerning Spitzer toppled a man who was until then well-liked and who many saw as a potential presidential contender. By contrast, Paterson’s political fortunes already collapsed more than a year ago, as a variety of factors made him one of the most unpopular governors of the country with no discernible chance of extending his tenure past the coming fall. As such, they do not alter the landscape of New York politics anywhere as dramatically as Spitzer’s resignation did in 2008.

In fact, while Spitzer’s scandal came out of nowhere, rumors had been swirling for weeks that The New York Times was preparing a damning expose that would all but end Paterson’s hopes of hanging on to his job. Two weeks ago, the paper published a story on Paterson aide David Johnson that I believe reflected worse on The Times than on Johnson. Then, the Times followed that up with an article on Paterson’s work habits, which contained some damaging tidbits but certainly no revelation serious enough to single-handedly destroy whatever is left of his political standing.

And last night, just when we thought Paterson had weathered the storm, came the biggest bombshell: An article that alleges Paterson pressured a woman to drop domestic violence charges against his aide David Johnson not only by having the State Police harass her but also by personally calling her the day before she was scheduled to appear in court.

These allegations are all the more damaging to Paterson that they contradict numerous statements he made in recent months. He has taken up the issue of domestic violence since early in his tenure, and in recent months he was one of the staunchest advocates for Hiram Monserrate’s ouster from the state Senate. While Johnson and Monserrate’s cases differ since the former has not been convicted of assault, the woman who was pressing charges against him did obtain two restraining orders. When Monserrate’s former girlfriend obtained the same but was nonetheless contacted but Monserrate’s staff, Paterson criticized the state Senator for endangering the victim’s independence and wondered whether he could face witness intimidation charges. “Because that’s the whole essence of what domestic violence is. It’s control,” he explained.

And yet those admirable words allegedly did not stop him from contacting the woman who was seeking a restraining order against his aide; might Paterson now face witness admiration charges?

While I will leave the story’s judicial implications to others, its political implications are obviously dire for Paterson. To merely be competitive in the fall, he needed nothing more to go wrong over the next seven months but he now needs to field calls for his resignation. Needless to say, the stories that have accumulated in recent weeks make it difficult to envision how the already embattled Governor could remain a candidate - and make it all but impossible for him to beat Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

Paterson is all the more politically vulnerable that he has few friends in Albany. Just like Spitzer’s rocky relationship with the state legislature meant that few Democrats were willing to defend him in the days following his New York Times story, Paterson has spent much of 2009 battling with prominent Democrats and with the state Senate. It’s therefore unsurprising that Rep. Steve Israel, whom Paterson passed over when he chose Hillary Clinton’s replacement, or state Senator Bill Perkins called for the Governor to drop his re-election bid within hours of the New York Times’s allegations.

(While few people have called for Paterson to resign, the scandal has already led another state official to call it quits: Paterson’s public safety czar Denise O’Donnell, a holdover from the Spitzer Administration. O’Donnell explained having heard of an incident involving the woman pressing charges against David Johnson but having been assured by the Superintendent of Police that the State Police was not involved - an assurance that The New York Times story reveals to be false.)

Paterson’s office immediately released a statement calling for the Attorney General to investigate into the State Police’s actions, but he did not address the most serious charge that he intervened so directly as to pick up the phone himself. Complicating matters, of course, is that said Attorney General is no other than Paterson’s biggest political rival, which creates a somewhat tricky situation for Cuomo to navigate as well since he has nothing to gain from putting himself in the middle of this story.

After all, Cuomo’s entire strategy for the past year has been to lay low. While Cuomo he long ago started putting together the type of campaign infrastructure he would need for a gubernatorial run, he has done his best to stay out of the spotlight. He has yet to publicly announce his plans, and the latest reports suggest he has no intention of doing so before April at the earliest. Polls show he would crush both David Paterson and Rick Lazio by gigantic margins; announcing he is seeking the Governor’s Mansion would only draw the media’s attention - and given what happened to the last two New Yorkers who were the subject of serious press investigations, Cuomo might as well wait a bit longer.

Of course, the Massachusetts special election showed that no state is safe for Democrat and that any candidate who takes an election for granted risks losing. Yet, the general election is still seven months away so it is certainly not shocking for Cuomo not to be campaigning, especially when one considers that he has a huge bank account he’ll start using as soon as he announces, that he bears one of the best-known last names in New York politics and that he is far more popular than Coakley ever was. (I find the Coakley analogy a much more useful one to use in the case of California’s Jerry Brown, but I’ll leave that discussion to a future post.)


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NY Dems plagued by scandals, candidates with baggage and special election losses

In few states did Republicans see their fortunes collapse as much as in New York in 2006 and in 2008. They lost the Governor’s Mansion, 6 House seats and the state Senate. But since 2009 started, Democrats have looked determined to give up their gains, never more so than during the summer’s ridiculous month-long saga that saw two Democrats throw the chamber into turmoil by shamelessly selling themselves to the highest bidder. The story got all the more depressing when we learned that the party had not only agreed to buy Pedro Espada’s vote by making him Majority Leader but also by putting his son on the state payroll for a job he never showed up for.

The past few months has continued to bring an avalanche of stories that raise serious questions as to why New York politics is so messed up. Part of the answer is that the state press has more resources to devote to local politics but that does not account for state Democrats’ remarkable ability to shoot themselves on the foot.

The state Senate’s dysfunctions

That said, Albany did manage to rid itself of one particularly egregious offender this week: state Senator Hirram Monserrate. One of the two Democrats who crossed over to Republicans in June, and the one who then most transparently put himself in the middle waiting for both parties to beg him back, Monserrate was convicted in October for assaulting his girlfriend, an assault that was partly captured on camera. Since he was only convicted on misdemeanor charges, Monserrate was not stripped of his position but after five long months of reports and deliberations, the state Senate’s Democratic majority decided to press forward with expelling Monserrate from the chamber.

On Tuesday, the full Senate voted to expel Monserrate on a 53-8 vote. This means that the chamber now has 31 Democrats and 30 Republicans, which means the former cannot pass legislation on a party-line vote (32 votes is needed) until Monserrate’s seat is filled in a March 16th special election.

Among those voting no were the three so-called amigos who (along with Monserrate) threatened to jolt to the GOP in late 2008 (Espada, Ruben Diaz and Carl Kruger). Diaz reacted with characteristically over-the-top fashion, though the prize for the week’s most disgraceful behavior goes to state Senator Kevin Parker, who reportedly charged at fellow Democrat Diane Sevino during an internal caucus meeting. And get this: Parker is also facing felony charges for assaulting a New York Post photographer back in May 2009! If convicted, he would automatically be expelled from the Senate, which might explain why he felt so strongly about how the Senate should treat Monserrate.

The New York state Senate’s dysfunctions are the underplayed story of the year. Besides all those I just mentioned, 2009 ended with the chamber’s longtime leader convicted on corruption charges: Republican Joe Bruno, who retired in 2008, was found guilty of having taken payments adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for political favors and could spend the rest of his life in jail if his appeal is unsuccessful.

Is trouble brewing for Democrats?

While Bruno’s behavior is by far the most important of the recent events, it’s hard to deny that it is Democrats who have been the object of most of the state scandals: Eliot Spitzer, of course, but also Alan Hevesi, Espada and Monserrate. Add to that David Paterson’s jaw-droppingly low approval rating (not to mention the unsubstantiated but nonetheless picked-up-by-the-press rumors that The New York Times is about to reveal a scandal about the governor), and New York has become a landmine for Democrats.

This became apparent in November, when Republicans followed up four years of dismal results by pulling off two entirely unexpected upsets in the NYC suburbs. In Westchester, county executive Andrew Spano was defeated by Rob Astorino; in Nassau County, the GOP captured the county legislature and ousted county executive Thomas Suozzi, who was just 9 months before mentioned as a potential successor to Hillary Clinton. And if that was not enough of a warning sign to Democrats that state voters have turning against them, at least insofar as local government is concerned, we got two more proof this past Tuesday when Republicans picked-up two Assembly seats in special elections.

Once again, both Democratic losses came in the NYC suburbs, suggesting that these Republican-turned-Democratic areas might be drifting back to the conservative column. The first district is in Long Island, the second in Westchester, which means Democrats have now suffered two big defeats in four months in that key county. (More at Ballot Box.) This could give the GOP a strong shot at recapturing a majority in the state Senate come November. In particular, Westchester’s Andrea Stewart-Cousins could be in danger if voters in November want to send the same message as they did in November and then again this week, but Democrats hold a number of vulnerable seats they only recently picked-up in the suburbs.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is a rare Democrat who seems unaffected by the series of scandals that have put the state party in such a tough spot. If he is at the top of the ticket, the fall could have a very different configuration for his party, which could not only affect their majority in the state Senate and races even further down the ballot but also help the state’s 4-6 vulnerable Democratic congressmen.

Harold Ford’s baggage, continued

But nothing exemplifies Democrats’ ability to shoot themselves in the foot in New York as much as the mess Harold Ford’s campaign has been since the day he launch his media blitz with that NYT interview. After we marveled at the fact that the former Tennessee congressman had registered to vote in New York just two months prior and at his determination to present himself as the candidate of Manhattan’s financial elite, we started wondering how far Ford expected to get among voters who vote in New York’s Democratic primary by bashing the health-care bill and criticizing Barack Obama.

The past few days brought new questions still. First, why does Ford think this is the moment to travel to Bermuda to give a speech at a luxury hotel, a move that makes John Kerry’s campaign from the summer of 2004 look good by comparison? More importantly, Ford appears to never have filed a state tax return in New York, despite serving as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch since 2007. While Ford said that he worked out of Merrill Lynch’s Nashville offices, since launching his campaign he repeatedly justified his interest in challenging Gillibrand by claiming he has essentially moved to New York for years, and he did acquire a residence in the city; but the draw of Tennessee’s lack of an income tax might explain why his employment at Merrill Lynch was presented as a long-distance arrangement. That won’t be an easy case to make on the campaign trail, as Gawker’s John Cook summarized well:

If Ford did enough business in New York to keep an office there, it’s reasonable to presume that he earned a good deal of money in New York. Now, we’re sure that there are all sorts of accountants’ arguments and narrow dodges at Ford’s disposal to claim that he didn’t owe New York income tax until he moved here last year: He could have been paid out of Merrill Lynch’s Nashville office, for instance, and he could have received the majority of his income in a bonus that he could claim he earned in Tennessee, not New York. But while those sorts of arguments may be useful to someone trying to get as close as possible to living in New York without suffering the tax consequences of doing so, they’re not as effective when you’re loudly thinking about running for Senate in New York by claiming you’ve lived there for three years and pay taxes there.

Another issue Ford will sooner or later have to confront: did he receive a bonus from Merrill Lynch. In a context in which banking bonuses have become the most recognizable and unpopular symbol of the industry’s deranged behavior, Kirsten Gillibrand has seized on this question, which is now starting to feature prominently in press interviews. This morning on Meet the Press, for instance, Ford was asked “you won’t say how big your bonus was with Merrill?” and he decided to launch into a defense of the banking industry in response. “The system ought to be reformed, but putting a tax on banks at a time in which the recovery is as timid and as fragile as it is,” he explained.

Note that there is now a large faction of New York’s Democratic Party that has chosen to vocally defend the banking industry from any sort of criticism. But it is one thing for Rep. Mike McMahon to forget that some of the final nails in Chris Dodd’s coffin were accusations that he opened the door to the AIG bonuses, it is quite another for someone who might have personally benefited from such a similar bonus to expect that answer to carry him all the through the fall.


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Can Debra Medina top Kay Bailey Hutchison?

The showdown between Governor Rick Perry and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was supposed to be one of the cycle’s defining primaries. Yet, not only has the race been tame by the standards of what is to be expected when two towering politicians who personally dislike each other go head-to-head, but Hutchison now finds herself in danger of being knocked out of the runoff by Debra Medina, a conservative close to the Tea Party movement.

PPP’s new survey of the race shows Perry at 39%, Hutchison at 28% and Medina at 24%; among self-described conservative voters, who represent more than 70% of the cycle, Hutchison comes in third. While no other pollster has found a similar result, Rasmussen’s latest survey (released 10 days ago) did find Medina enjoying with the most momentum: the 14% she received in that poll was her highest result to date.

(A reminder: The primary will take place on March 2nd, which is in just 3 weeks. The two top vote-getters will move on to an April 13th runoff.)

Who is this woman who is now going toe-to-toe with a sitting Senator? Medina served as the Republican Party’s county chairman Wharton County, a small county in Southeastern Texas. A major participant in the Tea Party protests, she is also a libertarian activist who helped organize Texas’s Campaign for Liberty, an organization of Ron Paul supporters launched back in 2008.  We all know Paul supporters tend to be very engaged, which allowed the congressman to get surprisingly strong results in a number of presidential contests two years ago; Rand Paul’s success in Kentucky’s GOP primary also testifies to Paulites’ success at promoting their members of their camp - and they seem to have done the same to Medina over the past few weeks.

In 2008, ultra-conservative (and secessionist) Larry Kilgore challenged John Cornyn’s hold on the GOP’s Senate nomination; he received 19%. Medina is running a higher profile campaign, which suggests she could build on that base of support for an anti-establishment contender and thus grow enough to make it to the runoff.

But here is the twist: Logic would dictate that Medina would grow at Perry’s expense. The governor has been trying to channel conservative voters’ anger towards the anti-federal government, most notably last year when he suggested Texas might secede. While Hutchison has been touting her own conservatism, she represents a comparatively mainstream Republicanism that makes for an uneasy fit with Medina and Perry’s rhetoric.

What does it say about the GOP electorate’s ideological profile that Hutchison (who can hardly be called a centrist) has been so marginalized that the primary has room for two more conservative options? What to make of the fact the hard right’s split is threatening to relegate Hutchison to third place rather than giving her an opening? Does this reflect voters’ disdain about Hutchison’s relative moderation or does it speak to conservative anger towards all federal officials, however conservative their voting record might be?

I should nuance that point: Perry is himself an incumbent who has attracted plenty of criticism from all sides, and his best effort to portray himself as an outspoken conservative don’t make him any less of an establishment figure. In fact, he is the longest serving governor in the country, which leads to the obvious question as to whether we should have expected him to easily win over Tea Partiers’ support in the first place. In the context of a two-way race with Hutchison, conservative activists are obviously likely to side with the governor, but perhaps we should not be surprised that the same people who are blasting Hutchison’s support for the 2008 bailout plan are also looking for an opportunity to bail on a fellow insider who has led the state for a decade.

Who Republicans nominate will obviously impact how much of a chance Houston Mayor Bill White has of scoring an upset in the general election. Polls show Hutchison scoring larger margins against White, while Perry is under 50%. The latest Rasmussen poll had Medina with a slight lead over the Houston Mayor. Given her low name recognition, that speaks to how uphill a climb White will face against any Republican, but it does look like his prospects depend on Hutchison losing the primary.

The sudden focus on Medina comes as two other GOP primaries are getting tougher along similar insider/outsider lines.

In Indiana, former Senator Dan Coats got a taste of the difficulties he might face in the Republican primary, as John Hostettler and Marlin Stutzman welcomed him to the race by blasting his connections to Washington. “If there’s one group people are more disenfranchised from than Washington politicians, it’s lobbyists,” Stutzman said. “Sen. Coats has probably been back to Indiana fewer times than Sen. Bayh has and has those questionable relationships. If you’re trying to contrast with Sen. Bayh, why would you go with Sen. Coats?” While Coats will be favored to win the GOP primary, such attacks could undermine his credibility along the very same lines Democrats plan to use in the general election, thus introducing a narrative Evan Bayh would later have an easier time working with.

In NY-23, Doug Hoffman might strike again: The man who drove Dede Scozzafava out of November’s special election declared he could mount a third-party bid once again if he loses the Republican nomination Assemblyman William Barclay. Indeed, Hoffman is simultaneously running to represent the Republican Party and Conservative Party lines on the November ballot; with Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long sounding certain Hoffman will represent them, the businessman is leaving the door open to taking advantage of that if he does not get the GOP’s.

That would be different from last year’s events in one major way: A major rationale of Hoffman’s candidacy was that Scozzafava had not been selected by the district’s Republican voters but rather by a committee of party leaders - an argument he will not be able to make if he loses to Barclay. From Democrats’ perspective, however, there is no difference: A Owens-Barclay-Hoffman general election would be a repeat of the scenario that played out last fall, a major boost to Rep. Bill Owens’s hopes of securing a full term.


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Senate GOP leads in AR, NH, NV, CO, KY, IL but Reid enjoys uptick & Ayotte struggles in primary

The week’s most dramatic polls no doubt are those from Arkansas since they suggest that Blanche Lincoln’s fate is all but sealed. Rasmussen finds the senator’s favorability rating at a dismal 36-59; PPP shows her approval rating at an even more catastrophic 27-62. Her numbers against Republicans are a disaster. PPP has her down 56% to 33% against Rep. John Boozman and 50% to 35% against Gilbert Baker; Rasmussen shows her trailing by similar margins - 54% to 35% against Boozman, 52-33 against Baker, 50-34 against Curtis Coleman, 51-35 against Kim Hendren. Those are not numbers an incumbent recovers from.

The problem for Democrats is that they can hardly pull a Dodd or a Torricelli: PPP tested a variety of alternatives to Lincoln and found the GOP generally in control. The party’s only savior could be popular Governor Mike Beebe - and even then he is down 1% against Boozman and he leads Baker by an underwhelming 46% to 38%. Rep. Mike Ross trails Boozman 48-37 but ties Baker at 39%; Wesley Clark is down 51-36 and 45-39, respectively and Halter 53-30 and 45-34.

While none of these results are encouraging for Democrats, all four of her potential replacements perform better than the senator. Since Halter, Ross and Clark’s name recognition is lower and favorability ratings is incomparably stronger than Lincoln, they would also have more hope of improving their results while it is hard to envision the incumbent doing so. In short, the GOP is more likely than not to pick-up this seat but it does not mean Democrats should not at least try a switcheroo.

Senate: GOP also leads in NH, NV, CO, KY and IL…

New Hampshire: The first public poll of the GOP’s Senate primary finds that Attorney General Kelly Ayotte has her work cut out for her: Research 2000 has her only leading Ovide Lamontagne 36% to 27%, with William Binnie at 4%. If conservatives decide they can add New Hampshire to an already long list of summer primaries they want to prioritize, Lamontagne could very well pull the upset and thus give Democrats a boost in the general election. While Rep. Paul Hodes trails Ayotte 46% to 39%, leads Lamontagne 46% to 36% - a 17% differential. The bad news for Democrats, of course, is that Ayotte remains the front-runner and her high favorability ratings and early poll lead presage good things for the NRSC.

Nevada: Harry Reid arguably just received the best poll he has seen in months - and it came from Rasmussen! While his numbers remain very rough, they are for once not insurmountable: His favorability rating stands at 44/55 and he trails all of his competitors “only” by single-digits: 45-39 against Lowden, 47-39 against Tarkanian and 44-40 against Angle. Of course, an incumbent has nothing to boast about when stuck around 40%, but last month Reid trailed by double-digits in all match-ups. We’ll have to see whether this trendline is an outlier or whether it is due to Reid’s well-financed attempts to improve his image. The poll’s most interesting part is the match-up between Reid and Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki, who has been mulling the race ever since he was cleared of an indictement: Krolicki has the smallest lead among these four Republicans, 44% to 41%.

Colorado: No miracle for Michael Bennet in Rasmussen’s new poll: the unelected senator leads trails Republican front-runner Jane Norton by a massive 51% to 37%. That said, Bennet’s favorability rating remains (barely) positive and he should have an easier time to improve his numbers than other incumbents since he is less well-known and thus has more room to grow. And yet, his primary challenger Andrew Romanoff performs far better against Norton since he only trails 45% to 38% - a sign Democrats would be better off dumping the incumbent to start fresh? Both Democrats trail by more narrowly against Republicans Tom Wiens and Ken Buck.

Kentucky: Rasmussen’s monthly Kentucky poll confirms not only that the GOP has gained edge in this open seat (a red state’s electorate naturally gravitates rightward in this environment), but also that Rand Paul would be a far more formidable candidate than had been expected: He leads LG Mongiardo 48% to 37% and AG Conway 47% to 39%. Tray Grayson’s leads are more uneven, as his 49-35 rout over Mongiardo contrasts with his 44-40 lead over Conway. Democrats look like they’d be better off with Conway, whose favorability rating stands at 47-32, than with Mongiardo, whose favorability rating is a mediocre 45-43.

Illinois: Conducted by Rasmussen, The first public poll to test the Illinois Senate race since voters chose their nominees finds Mark Kirk leading Alexi Giannoulias 46% to 40%, a result that contradicts PPP’s recent finding that the Democrat has an 8% lead; note that PPP’s poll was conducted just before Giannoulias was hit by new questions over his family bank, so that might account for some of the difference. In any case, Illinois is one state the DSCC simply cannot afford to lose so Kirk’s early lead is an ugly one for Democrats to see.

Connecticut: Even Rasmussen agrees there is nothing to see in this race since Chris Dodd’s retirement. Thanks to a massive 70% to 26% favorability rating, Richard Blumenthal crushes Rob Simmons 54% to 35% and Linda McMahon 56% to 36%.

New York: I already reported Marist’s Senate survey earlier this week, and Quinnipiac’s poll draws the same lessons: Gillibrand starts with an edge in the Democratic primary but Harold Ford certainly has an opening (Gillibrand is up 36-18 with Tasini at 4) and the incumbent would be favored in the general election against Bruce Blakeman; however, she does not pass 50% in this survey (she leads 44% to 27%), a potential sign Blakeman could still gain traction as he introduces himself.

Arizona: John McCain and John Hayworth both released internal polls of what is shaping up to be a rough primary. As you would expect, the two camps’ numbers tell a different story. Hayworth’s survey (conducted by McLaughlin) has the incumbent leading 49% to 33% while McCain’s survey (conducted by POS) has him up 59% to 30%. Given that there is still a long time to go, that McCain is after all the GOP’s former presidential nominee and that he is better known than Hayworth, the latter set of numbers is also quite underwhelming and signals that the challenger has an opening.

Governor: White within single-digits of Perry, Michigan’s Cox leads

Texas: Since Bill White’s entry in the race, Democrats have been paying more attention to this gubernatorial race but Rasmussen is the first pollster to find a real opening for the Houston Mayor: When matched-up with Governor Rick Perry, he trails 48% to 39% - a sign of vulnerability for the incumbent since he is only up single-digits and remains under 50%. Against Kay Bailey Hutchison, White trails by a larger 49% to 36%. As such, whether the general election will be competitive depends from the outcome of the March-April primary; there is no little doubt White would rather face an incumbent with a mediocre 50-48 approval rating.

New York: David Paterson still looks to be heading towards certain defeat in Marist and Quinnipiac’s new polls. His approval rating stands at 26% in the former and 37% in the latter; that might be an improvement over his low points of 2009, but it leaves him in no position to be competitive against the ultra-popular Andrew Cuomo. Marist shows the Attorney General would crush the Governor by a stunning 70% to 23% in the primary, while Quinnipiac shows the margin to be a comparatively modest 55% to 23%. Both surveys have Paterson struggling against Rick Lazio (he trails by 3% in Marist, leads by 1% in Quinnipiac), while Cuomo crushes the former congressman by 37% and 32%.

Michigan: While some cheered Lieutenant Governor John Cherry’s early January withdrawal as an opportunity to field a stronger candidate, EPIC-MRA’s latest poll finds state Democrats are hardly saved: Attorney General Mike Cox crushes the three Democrats he is matched-up against by margins ranging from 17% to 22%. Yet, Cox is not certain of surviving the primary, since he leads 32% to 25% against Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who does not fare quite as well in the general election: He leads by 17% against Virg Bernero but only by 8% against Andy Dillon and by 7% against Denise Ilitch. The other good news for Democrats is that former GOP Rep. Schwarz is now saying he is 75% certain of running as an independent, which could lead Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Connecticut: Democrats don’t have as clear an edge in this Governor’s race since Susan Bysiewicz dropped out, though they still lead all match-ups in Rasmussen’s new poll: Ned Lamont is up 41-33 against Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele and 40-37 against Tom Foley while while Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy tops the two Republicans by just 1%.

New Hampshire: Governor Lynch is one incumbent Democrats will apparently not have to worry about. In Research 2000’s new poll, he crushes low-profile businessman Kimball 59% to 13%.


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To have shot at Senate, NRSC needs recruitment coups in two out of NY, WI and WA

Evan Bayh has dodged his second bullet in two weeks as Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced he would run for the House seat from which Rep. Steve Buyer retired on Friday rather than challenge the longtime senator.

Is this a case of fortuitous timing for Democrats? Rokita had nothing to lose by seeking federal office since his term is not up until 2012; his decision to run for the House suggests he really was interested in a congressional position, so might Bayh have landed a top-tier challenger by now had Buyer not retired? While Republicans are left wondering what might have been, we are back to the situation we were in on Thursday: Unless Governor Mitch Daniels bucks expectations, the GOP will have to do with state Senator Marlin Stutzman and former Rep. John Hostettler, neither of whom are well-positioned to take full advantage of the environment.

(Rokita’s move also guarantees a competitive GOP primary in IN-4, since Buyer’s protege state Senator Brandt Hershman has also jumped in. Whoever prevails in this their primary is likely to win the general election; the only Democrat who is being mentioned as a potential candidate is Purdue University biology professor David Sanders.)

While Bayh can no longer be considered a shoo-in for his re-election race, Indiana is back on the safer side of the equation - which is more than we can of other Democratic seats. A reminder of what the landscape looks like: With ND, DE, AR, NV, CO, PA and IL already top-tier targets, Republicans need to put three more Senate seats in play to have a shot at controlling the Senate if they pull off a sweep. With an Inouye retirement looking unlikely in HI, the NRSC failing in its IN recruitment effort and Blumenthal as of now marching towards a CT coronation (which is leading to talk that Rob Simmons might drop out), the remaining targets are CA, NY, WI and WA.

With Tom Campbell and to a lesser extent Carly Fiorina, the NRSC already has the candidates they need in California. That means they probably need to pull off recruitment coups in two out of the three latter states.

WA: GOP poll suggests Patty Murray could be vulnerable

We should never do much with partisan polls taken with obvious political intents but GOP firm Moore Research found Dino Rossi, the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee in both 2004 and 2008, with a 45% to 43% lead over Senator Patty Murray. Rossi is arguably as good as it gets for Washington Republicans; after coming as close as you can get to becoming governor in 2004 (he led before a recount reversed his edge), he was one of the few Republicans mounting a competitive statewide challenge in 2008 anywhere in the county. As such, Murray could do worse than trail Rossi by 2% in a Republican poll.

On the other hand, Murray was considered safe until Massachusetts altered the GOP’s ambitions so these numbers cannot but give a lot of additional heartburn to Democrats - especially as they moved Rossi to open a slight door to a run. While he said he has “no plans to run for any office at this point,” he added “I never say never.” The GOP is presumably working to convince Rep. Dave Reichert, who must not be relishing the prospect of being one of the only House Republicans facing a credible challenge.

GOP prospects against Gillibrand depend on Pataki (and Ford)

Believe it or not, even Chuck Schumer’s re-election race is now generating news! While the Democratic Senator has long looked untouchable, a new Marist poll finds an undeniable downward trend in his approval rating: for the first time since April 2001, it has dipped under 50%. This development comes as CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow, last seen mulling a Senate run against Chris Dodd last year, is now setting his sights on Schumer. That prospect is silly and Marist confirms the dip in Schumer’s rating doesn’t mean he has much to worry about: He crushes Kudlow 67% to 25%. Yet, the mere fact that I am moved to discuss Schumer on this blog is a stunning development.

New York’s other Senate seat remains the race to watch, and Marist finds that GOP prospects probably depend on George Pataki’s decision. While Kirsten Gillibrand trails the former governor 49% to 43%, her numbers against sole Republican candidate Bruce Blakeman bear no trace of vulnerability: she crushes him 52% to 30% - a margin that is all the more decisive considering the number of Democratic senators who are proving unable to muster leads against low-profile challengers, let alone cross the 50% threshold.

The GOP’s other hope of contesting this seat, of course, is for Harold Ford to bruise Gillibrand, outright win the primary or run as an independent. Marist found Ford routed by Pataki (52% to 35%) and struggling to muster a lead over Blakeman (39% to 35%); a match-up with Ford running as an independent was not tested. Marist did poll the primary, finding Gillibrand up 44-27 with Tasini at 4%. Ford is competitive thanks to weak support for Gillibrand in NYC, but is this not the region in which he should find the coldest reception for his conservative views? Another problematic number for Ford is that his unfavorability rating is nearly identical to Gillibrand’s despite his lower name recognition.

Except for Indiana, filing deadlines are a long time away

Unfortunately for Democrats, New York’s filing deadline is in July so Pataki has time to see whether Ford will gain any traction before making up his mind. The same is true in other states since Washington and Wisconsin Republicans have until June to make up their mind. Only in Indiana is the NRSC running out of time.

Of course, it is difficult to mount a competitive statewide campaign in just a few months, but we are talking here about well-known politicians like Pataki and Tommy Thompson who do not have to introduce themselves to voters, already have a fundraising structure and would probably easily secure their party’s nod; the same is true to a lesser degree of Rossi and perhaps even of Reichert, who is already raising money at a fast paste to prepare for his re-election race.


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As Ford leaves door open to indie bid, Gillibrand lands first GOP opponent

Over the past two weeks, I’ve failed to understand how any of what Harold Ford has been doing and saying makes sense in the context of his contemplating a Senate run in New York rather than Tennessee; this has led many other observers to joke Ford has become an Onion staffer parodying politics. (Update: Speaking of a self-parody, Ford granted The Daily News an interview under the condition that he wouldn’t be asked about issues!) But his actions are easier to explain if we posit that he’s not trying to run as a Democrat but has always had the general election in mind: There is now speculation that he’s preparing to run as an independent - perhaps even seek the endorsement of the Independent Party, which has a guaranteed ballot line in NY elections.

When asked whether he might mount an independent bid, Ford left the door open - not something that a politician does when he is committed to running in a primary, since a lack of commitment to the party can easily be hurt against him down-the-line.

The major obstacle to this is that Ford would then be unlikely to receive support from the African-American establishment (I had already mentioned last week that Al Sharpton has been reportedly “open” to Ford’s candidacy, and we got confirmation of that this week) and from African-American voters, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency; given the state’s demographics, it’s hard to see how Ford build a winning coalition without receiving substantial black support so this is a consideration that will weigh on his mind.

Yet, Ford’s primary chances are low. Beyond his positions’ awful fit with the electorate he’s after and the terrible start he gave his campaign, two polls released over the past 5 days found him massively trailing: Siena has Gillibrand leading 41% to 19%, while Marist has her up 43% to 24%. Sure, Gillibrand is under 50% in both, but consider that she has not held any sort of lead against other Democrats she’s been tested against: Maloney and McCarthy used to tie her in polls released as recently as this summer. Add to that the fact that Gillibrand’s name recognition isn’t high enough for her to enjoy an incumbency advantage in polls such as those, and Ford’s early standing isn’t impressive; and consider that Gillibrand’s campaign has much more material with which to disqualify Ford in the eyes of Democrats than they would have had they faced Maloney or Steve Israel.

An independent bid could make sense given not only Ford’s conservative politics but also the positions he’s been embracing ever since he started his media blitz. Sure, he pulled American politics’s biggest flip-flop on gay marriage, but he is placing himself well outside of the Democratic mainstream on most other issues, making opposition to the health-care bill and Wall Street-friendly policies the central positions of his campaign. (He even took the time to make positive comments about George W. Bush last week!) Furthermore, Gillibrand can undoubtedly vulnerable in a general election; while Ford has none of what it takes to take advantage of her primary weaknesses (he cannot attack her for her malleability, her gun control positions, her former Blue Dog-status), he could hope to appeal to those voters who typically vote Democratic but who are looking to not do so this year. In other words, bypassing the primary could allow him to court conservative Democrats and voters who want to oppose Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong: I think that Ford faces an uphill climb whether he runs as a Democrat or as an independent. His explicit positioning as the candidate of Manhattan’s financial elite and his jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and classist interview to the New York Times will be hard sells in a general election just as in a primary. Yet, just as a Ford would be a senator much in the mold of the Lieberman of the past 2 years, his best chance to win this Senate seat might very well be to follow the template of Lieberman’s 2006 Senate campaign - combine an independent bid with substantial Republican support.

For this to be a viable path to victory, however, Ford would have to position himself as Gillibrand’s main general election opponent. In other words, this requires the GOP failing to field a credible opponent, which would allow someone else to become the de facto Republican candidate. This is what happened in Connecticut’s 2006 race, in which the GOP nominee Alan Schlesinger was barely a factor and Lieberman was thus able to reach 70% among Republican voters!

This heightens the stakes of the GOP’s recruitment efforts: Will they be able to recruit a decent candidate against the New York senator? Rudy Giuliani ruled out a run mid-December, and in January a number of Republicans the NRSC was courting followed suit: Rep. Peter King, former Rep. Susan Molinari and Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. These were particularly disappointing decisions to Republicans, since any of them would have been sure mount credible runs - and none would have become a non-factor had Ford mounted an independent bid. Thus, their decisions does open the door to his using Lieberman’s playbook and making a play to become the de facto GOP nominee without seeking the Republican nomination.

Yet, Republicans did land their very first candidate this week: attorney Bruce Blakeman, currently a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who ran statewide in 1998 when he was crushed in the Comptroller race, announced his candidacy last week. (Blakeman becomes just the second announced challenger to Gillibrand, Democrat Jonathan Tasini being the first.)

While he might not be the GOP’s first choice, Blakeman was accompanied by a number of the state’s Republican leaders, most notably former Senator Alfonse D’Amato and Peter King. D’Amato’s presence was actually quite striking because the former Senator had been present on the front-row of the press conference at which David Paterson appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to the Senate seat. That had raised eyebrows both among Republicans, wondering why one of their most prominent politicians appeared to be endorsing a Democrat, and among liberals, who were weary of Gillibrand; but those days are gone, with D’Amato now criticizing Gillibrand as a “party functionary.”

(In announcing his candidacy, Blakeman said, alluding to Ford and Gillibrand: “”One is the congressman from Tennessee. The other is the senator who votes like she’s from Nebraska.”I am failing to understand what the latter sentence means coming from a Republican! Is he saying that Gillibrand is too conservative? that she is too devoted to rural interests? is it a swipe at Ben Nelson?)

It’s easy to see the well-connected Blakeman end up as the GOP nominee; it’s harder to envision him that threatening a candidate. In December, a Siena poll found Gillibrand with a 52% to 22% lead over Blakeman. Sure, the latter has little-to-no name recognition statewide, but it’s not like Gillibrand is that well-known either, and the fact that she does top 50% suggests that New Yorkers aren’t desperate to drop her. In short: Gillibrand would start as clearly favored in a head-to-head against Blakeman, while it would be fascinating to see the dynamics of a 3-way race involving Ford. Would Blakeman be strong enough to avoid Schlesinger’s fate?

There’s of course one Republican who could still mix up the race if he were to jump in: former Governor George Pataki. The Siena and Marist polls confirm he would make this a top-tier race. Siena has him crushing Gillibrand 51% to 38% and also Ford 54% to 32%. Marist is far more optimistic for the senator, who leads Pataki 45% to 42%; Ford does trail 42% to 36%. Few people expect Pataki to run, however: he’s been making quite a few trips to New Hampshire in recent months, and it would be tough to reconcile a Senate race with a presidential run.

Unless any major news breaks in the coming hours, I imagine the rest of the day will be devoted to Massachussetts.


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Dissecting Harold Ford’s New York Times interview

[Updated at bottom] On Friday, I highlighted just how conservative Harold Ford was during his 10 years in the House, but I sure was not expecting just how much more grotesque the story would become.

The first episode of this bizarre saga came when Harold Ford matter-of-factly stated that he supported gay marriage on NBC this week-end; despite the fact that this makes him the only politician to have voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage to now call for its legalization, Ford presented his position as parallel to those of Democrats like Bill Clinton and Chuck Schumer, the latter of whom was certainly a loud opponent of George W. Bush’s efforts to amend the constitution. He went as far as to call it simply a “change in language;” I’m sure he’d be happy to explain to gay New Yorkers why the ban he twice supported amounted to nothing but a difference in semantics with their call for equality.

I have repeatedly criticized Kirsten Gillibrand’s rapid turnarounds on high-profile issues, including gay marriage, gun rights and immigration reform. Her transition from a Blue Dog Democrat to one of the Senate’s most reliably liberal votes was so abrupt that it is tough to trust her ideological profile and how she’ll vote once she gets past her re-election race. Yet, not only are none of her flips are egregious as Ford’s gay marriage reversal, but her camp at least acknowledged that she had evolved [update: and explained it her by her need to represent a different constituency] rather than try to downplay them as a mere issue of a “change in language.”

The second episode involved Ford deciding that the best way to promote his nascent campaign was to write an op-ed in The New York Post, which is sure to endear him to Democrats. In the piece:

  • He takes issue with those who are distorting his record by calling him “pro-life” when he is “pro-choice — have always been since I entered politics almost 15 years ago.” Hmm, I wonder why people might think of calling him pro-life? Perhaps because he has said things like: “I’m pro-life.” “I was not pro-choice at one time.” Right, let’s move on.
  • “I remain committed to promoting gun safety and handgun control and I look forward to working with Mayor Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Corey Booker,” he writes. Ford voted to repeal Washington D.C.’s restrictions on guns when he was serving in Congress; might he at least acknowledge that he was not always committed to working alongside gun control advocates like Bloomberg?

Yet, Ford was just getting started in The New York Post, where he only offered passing remarks about the need to “defeat terror” and “rebuild the economy.” The main course came in today’s New York Times, which wrote up a full-length article on the basis of an interview with the DLC Chairman. The piece is so full of riches that it forced me to write-up this blog post. Let’s get right to it:

  • Yes, Health-care reform is growing unpopular nationally; yes, it might even be losing support among Democrats. But it is simply unfathomable that a candidate could get any traction in New York’s Democratic primary  by running against the health-care bill from the right! (Even Arkansas Blanche Lincoln became more cooperative once liberals started floating the threat of a challenge by Brian Halter.) Yet, that is exactly what Ford is planning to do: “He blasted her support for the proposed health care overhaul,” notes the NYT. How can he possibly think that making his opposition to the health-care bill one of his top issues could possibly help him?
  • On abortion, Ford reiterated what he had written in the New York Post: “To describe me as pro-life is just wrong. I am personally pro-choice and legislatively pro-choice.” I’ve already addressed how revisionist this is. Same goes with gun control, an issue on which Ford said: “All of Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Booker’s efforts in the region, I support.” At least, Ford acknowledged that his new views on immigration are different from those he held in 2006, when he supported legislation “to allow local police officers to investigate and arrest illegal immigrants, despite the objections of many advocates and lawmakers” including Michael Bloomberg.
  • A few days ago, a commenter criticized me for praising Hillary Clinton’s listening tour; but however you want to characterize her motivations, Clinton at least pretended to be interested in getting to know the many different constituencies and communities that make up her state. When asked whether he had been all over NYC (forget the state, we’re just talking about the city Ford lives in), the Tennessee congressman’s response was stunning: “Asked whether he had visited all five boroughs, he mentioned taking a helicopter ride across the city with fellow executives.” Seriously?! Could he not have taken the time to at least visit the five boroughs of the city he’s lived in for the past three years before launching his campaign?! There are 9 months left before the primary, and I prefer to not even know about his familiarity with the rest of the state given his inability to get out of Manhattan.
  • His statement about visiting New York via helicopter is stunning not only because it reveals how little he has taken the time to explore the constituents he is suddenly so committed to representing, but also because Ford appears completely oblivious to the fact that he might not want to make his entire life story about how much he belongs in the New York upper-class elite. It says something about his politics that Ford chooses to highlight that he “takes the subway only occasionally in the winter, to avoid the cold when he cannot hail a cab,” that taxis are his almost exclusive mode of transportation, that he “has breakfast most mornings at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue.” What I found particularly depressing is the following sentence: “Mr. Ford said he had been emboldened by the response he had received from the public in recent days. Everyone — from the cabdrivers who shuttle him around the city to the executives with whom he rubs elbows on Wall Street — has urged him to run, he said.” How much more oblivious can one be to the fact that one lives in a bubble, with no apparent awareness as to what it reveals that the main interactions with members of lower-classes he can think of involves his being driven around?
  • This is not just a matter of lifestyle: Ford makes no secret of the fact that his main political backers is Manhattan’s financial elite - and of the fact that he wants to promote the policies that would help Wall Street executives. At a time in which voters are the GOP is banking on populist rhetoric and in which voters are clamoring for tougher policies towards banks and the financial sector, here is the entirety of the economic agenda Ford develops in this piece: “a major reduction in the corporate tax rate,” “a payroll tax holiday to encourage hiring,” support for last year’s financial bailout and an opposition to “capping executive compensation on Wall Street.” I don’t see him mention any specific economic policy that might counter this.

Here we have it. Ford makes no effort to even pretend he has visited most of the city he is supposedly attached to (let alone the large state he wants to represent), he does not think it worthwhile to say the slightest thing that might suggest he has kept some connection with New Yorkers who aren’t part of the upper-class, and the only substantive stances he chooses to promote are his opposition to Democrats’ biggest domestic priority, tax breaks for corporations and allowing unlimited compensation on Wall Street.

Caroline Kennedy’s outreach to press turned out to be a catastrophe, and I’m not sure Harold Ford’s will look much better once he is done with his media blitz.

Update

Did Harold Ford lie in the interview? In trying to explain why he donated money to Gillibrand, he said “I was asked by a friend to make a contribution. Kirsten was a Blue Dog member of the House.” When the interviewer asked, “But a donation suggests you approve of the way she’s led, no?” Ford responded:

She had only been a senator for two days, when I made my contribution… One of the things you will find as we talk is that I have a decent-size memory for dates and people. One of the reasons I remember this. It was at the St. Regis Hotel. I had been on “Morning Joe” that morning. And our mutual friend asked if I would attend the fund-raiser. I said, absolutely.

Gillibrand was appointed in January. But Ford’s donation was reported to have been made on June 5th, 6 months later. By then, Ford had had plenty of time to see Gillibrand’s style and positions.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Taniel.



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  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

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    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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