Governor races

Governor races

Ex-Rep. Deal ‘cautiously optimistic’ over vote lead

Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) did several TV interviews in Atlanta Wednesday morning but stopped short of declaring victory over gubernatorial rival Karen Handel (R), who stayed out of the spotlight. 

"Obviously, it's nice to be in the lead," he told WSB-TV. "We are still cautiously optimistic."

Deal maintains a 2,487-vote advantage over Handel, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's office. There are still votes uncounted and military ballots are expected in by Friday, Deal noted.

During his appearance on WSB-TV, Deal was asked if ethics will be an issue during the campaign. Handel has accused him of being a "corrupt relic of Washington, D.C."

"It's not an issue, there is no factual basis for that," Deal said. "We don't think that that's going be a problem. I think that we will unify the Republican Party and we’ll move forward."

"We'll campaign on the issues," he added.

Handel stayed hunkered down Wednesday. She didn't do interviews and did not attend the GOP unity breakfast, where Deal called her a "worthy opponent" in her absence. 

Meanwhile, Democrat Roy Barnes also made the media rounds Wednesday.

He told Fox 5 Atlanta he was surprised at the GOP result. "I didn't expect it to be that close," he said.

Asked if he had a preference for his opponent, Barnes was noncommittal. "Not really," he said. 

In another interview, Barnes was asked about the tone of the upcoming campaign.

"I think that you can show differences without being mean," the former governor told WSB-TV. "Just because we have differences doesn't mean we have to call each other names."


Ex-Colorado rep. undone by scandal

A plagiarism scandal appears to have cost former Rep. Scott McInnis the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Colorado. McInnis lost to businessman Dan Maes (R) by more than 5,000 votes on Tuesday, despite being the better-known candidate in the race.

McInnis had been leading in the polls until last month, when it came out that the former congressman submitted plagiarized articles as part of a $300,000 fellowship. He later returned the money the Hasan Family Foundation paid him but announced he did so only shortly before the vote.

Meanwhile, Maes was hampered by having to pay $17,500 for campaign-finance violations and comments he made that a Denver bicycle-sharing program could "threaten our personal freedoms."

Maes and McInnis had been asked to withdraw from the field by Tom Tancredo. The former Republican congressman said it would be a "disaster" if either man was the party's nominee because of McInnis's plagiarism scandal and Maes's campaign-finance violations. Both refused and kept campaigning, prompting Tancredo to enter the race on the American Constitution Party ticket.

It'll now be a three-way race for the govenror's office between Tancredo, Maes and Democrat John Hickenlooper, who's favored to win.


Ned Lamont falls in Conn. gubernatorial primary

Self-funding businessman Ned Lamont has lost another bid for public office in Connecticut. 

Lamont fell short is his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday. Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy bested Lamont easily--58 percent to 42 percent.

Lamont, who defeated then-Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Senate Democratic primary but lost to him in the general when Lieberman ran as an independent, opened his wallet big for this race, too.

He spent more than $9 million of his personal funds on the primary. Back in 2006, Lamont spent upwards of $17 million in his race against Lieberman.

Lamont was running on his business credentials, a stark contrast from the fire-breathing anti-war rhetoric he employed in 2006 to win the Senate primary.

On the Republican side, former ambassador Tom Foley defeated Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, but the race was closer than anticipated a few weeks ago. Foley won with 42 percent of the vote to Fedele's 39 percent.

-Updated at 11:25 p.m.


Obama not miffed by White's absence in Texas

White House Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said Monday that President Obama doesn't view Democrat Bill White's decision to steer clear of his visit to Texas as an insult. 

He also noted that no one's campaign is being hurt by the money Obama is raising for Democrats today.

The president is in Texas to headline two Democratic fundraisers and talk education at the University of Texas. But former Houston Mayor Bill White (D) who's taking on Gov. Rick Perry (R) in the fall is campaigning halfway across the state.

Asked about the candidate's absence, Burton said Obama thinks "candidates should make their own decisions about how to best spend their time. He definitely does not take that as an insult."

As to whether White's decision is a broader sign that Democrats are worried a connection to Obama will be a drag on their campaigns this year, Burton said it reflects nothing more than the fact that "Bill White had something else going on today that he would rather do than campaign with the president."

He added: "I think that there has never been a president in the history of this great country who has been wanted by every single candidate across the country to come and campaign for them."

"I don't think anybody’s campaign is being hurt by the funds that the president is raising for the effort today," said Burton. "The president balances his time by taking a look at a map and seeing where he can be most helpful and when."


As President Obama fundraises in Texas, White steers clear

When President Obama arrives in Austin, Texas, on Monday, it will be Gov. Rick Perry (R) standing on the tarmac to greet him. 

Perry's Democratic opponent in November's election, former Houston Mayor Bill White, will be campaigning halfway across the state. 

Texas Democrats are largely steering clear of the president during his fundraising swing through the state. Obama has a speech planned at the University of Texas and two fundraisers — one for the Democratic National Committee in Austin and another for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Dallas. 

Perry, though, does have a meeting set with the president to discuss border security. 

Republicans in Texas are trying to cash in politically on White's absence. Texas Republicans have an anti-Obama rally planned for the steps of the statehouse Monday afternoon, and the Perry campaign is expected to use the visit to tie Obama to White despite the Democrat's absence.  

For his part, White isn't just keeping his distance from Obama. The Democrat, who in 2008 purchased newspaper ads tying himself to Obama, took aim at the president during a campaign event in late July, saying, "I was in the oil and gas business when he was a community organizer."

Polling shows White within striking distance of Perry for November's general election. The latest Rasmussen numbers give Perry a nine-point edge, but a Public Policy poll from June had the race tied. 


Target CEO backtracks on $150K donation to conservative group

Here's some fuel for the argument that even in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, major corporations will think twice before jumping at the chance to fund independent expenditure efforts this fall.

Gregg Steinhafel, the CEO of the retail giant Target, formally apologized in a letter to the company's employees Thursday for writing a $150,000 check to the conservative group MN Forward, a 527 that's running ads in support of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer (R).

Gay-rights groups flagged the donation from Steinhafel noting Emmer's opposition in the Minnesota state House to gay-rights legislation.

From The Associated Press:

Steinhafel said the contribution from the corporate treasury to a political effort, which until this year wasn't allowed, was designed to support his stance on economic issues. Ads run by the group were focused on budget policy, not social issues.

"While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry," Steinhafel wrote.

He added, "The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests."

OutFront Minnesota, a gay-rights advocacy group, posted an open letter urging Target to take back its money from MN Forward. And "Boycott Target" Facebook groups began to appear.

In the wake of the court's decision in the Citizens United case, critics warned corporate spending could overwhelm the 2010 midterm elections. But others predicted corporations were likely to proceed with more caution given that they have brands to protect.

The AP notes that Red Wing Shoes and Best Buy are among a handful of other companies that have written checks to MN Forward.


Rep. Wamp loses gov. primary to Mayor Haslam

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) defeated Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) to claim the GOP gubernatorial nod Thursday.

Boosted by his support during early voting, Haslam was declared the winner by the Associated Press close to an hour after the polls closed in Tennessee. He'd received more than 131,000 votes, while Wamp, his closest rival, had just less than 70,000.

By Aug. 2 more than 540,000 people had already cast ballots for Thursday's primary, according to the Tennessee Department of State. 

Haslam was the favorite going into the primary vote, with Wamp and Ramsey splitting support from the more conservative wing of the party.

Wamp generated controversy last month when he seemed to suggest that Tennessee should consider secession in light of the federal mandates contained in the Democrats' healthcare reform bill. The eight-term congressman later backed away from those comments.

Ramsey, meanwhile, questioned whether Islam was a religion. He also had the support of some 20 Tea Party groups in the state.

Wamp and Ramsey attacked Haslam for his position on gun control and his record on raising taxes early in his tenure as mayor. It didn't help that Haslam's father, James Haslam II, was involved in a group supporting tax reform in the 1990s.

The other candidate in the race who gained notoriety was retired Marine Basil Marceaux (R). He became an Internet sensation after a speech that included self-references as "Basil" went viral on YouTube. He subsequently appeared on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He'd registered only 784 votes by the time Haslam was declared the winner.

Democrat Mike McWherter was unopposed for the nomination.


Hoekstra silent on endorsement after Mich. vote

After receiving what he called "$3-million worth of pounding" in the gubernatorial primary, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) doesn't seem eager to get behind GOP nominee Rick Snyder.

Hoekstra sent an e-mail to supporters Thursday thanking them but made no mention of Snyder.

"I am proud of the campaign that we ran," he wrote. "We stayed positive, we never resorted to lies or deceitful practices and we ran a campaign based on ideas and solutions for Michigan's future. The people of Michigan deserve as much."

Snyder dramatically outspent his rivals, with much of it going to his TV advertising campaign. He raised more than $7.3 million, although $5.9 million was his own money, while Hoekstra raised only $1.6 million.

Snyder defeated Hoekstra and Attorney General Mike Cox (R) in Tuesday's primary. He faces Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) in November.

Snyder, a former top executive at computer maker Gateway Inc., might have trouble rallying the more conservative wing of the Michigan GOP. That's where an endorsement from the more conservative Hoekstra could come in handy. 

The congressman, however, didn't indicate one was forthcoming. "While Diane and I may not know what the future holds for us, I can assure you that we will continue to fight to see these goals become a reality for our state," he wrote.