Other races

Other races

Top of the ballot: Breakfast choices

Sarah Palin teams up with the Susan B. Anthony List in D.C. Friday, the recession is apparently over for California Republicans and Chuck Norris returns to Iowa.

Choose life, choose to run for president

As Palin prepares to address the anti-abortion-rights group's "Celebration of Life" breakfast Friday, a new Gallup poll shows that more Americans call themselves "pro-life" than "pro-choice."

The survey, conducted May 3-6, had 47 percent of respondents as "pro-life" and 45 percent as "pro-choice." The two-point margin doesn't seem that significant, but Gallup notes "it represents the third consecutive time Gallup has found more Americans taking the pro-life than pro-choice position on this measure since May 2009, suggesting a real change in public opinion."

Palin will leave D.C. for South Carolina, where she's expected to endorse state Rep. Nikki Haley (R), who's running for governor.

A very private fundraiser

Fiorina took a page of out Meg Whitman's playbook Thursday and cut another personal check for her campaign. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO added an additional $1.1 million to her campaign coffers, according to the Los Angeles Times. Taken with the $2.5 million loan she made to her campaign last fall, Fiorina has lent $3.6 million of her own money to her effort to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

And the well hasn't run dry. Her filings with the Senate Ethics Committee show Fiorina has assets of $27.7 million to $121 million.

The Ranger is back

Terry Branstad should watch his back. Bob Vander Plaats, his rival for the Iowa GOP gubernatorial nod, is bringing in actor/martial artist Chuck Norris for four campaign events in June, according to the Des Moines Register. Norris will also help Vander Plaats raise money — there will be a $500-per-couple private reception with Norris before the appearances.

Norris famously campaigned with Mike Huckabee during the 2008 Iowa caucus race. The former Arkansas governor went on to win, and subsequently kept making campaign appearances with Norris throughout the GOP presidential primary.


Top of the ballot: Palin goes RINO hunting in Chicago

Sarah Palin goes RINO hunting during her event at the Rosemont Theatre in suburban Chicago, Colorado Senate candidate Jane Norton looks to assemble the fundraising dream team and California Republicans have money to burn.

'In his absence, let me just say'

During her open-press event in the Chicago suburbs Wednesday, Palin said she was supporting GOP candidates in contested primaries who were running against "Republicans in name only." As she said that, several people in the crowd shouted "Mark Kirk," according to the Chicago Tribune. Palin laughed, but did not mention Kirk, who was unable to attend the event because he was in DC.

The North Shore congressman had sought her endorsement during his primary but didn't get it. As he pivots towards the center in the general election, Palin's support would likely be more of a liability.

Before starting her speech, Palin acknowledged that she was appearing on President Obama's "home turf." It wasn't that bad, she said. "It's Chicago, not MSNBC."

The GOP Dream Team

Norton is teaming up with fellow GOP Senate contenders Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) for two June fundraising events.

The Denver Post notes it's a bit of a odd arrangement. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is backing both Rubio and Norton's primary opponent, Ken Buck. And, according to the paper, "his staff promises heavy fundraising and advertising buys for Buck in coming weeks."

As a way of explaining the joint event, Norton's camp said she is "a conservative, surrounding herself with conservatives, and will govern as a conservative."

Keeping up with the Poizners

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) is determined not to be outspent by opponent, Steve Poizner, in California's GOP gubernatorial primary.

After Poizner announced Wednesday he was putting another $2.5 million of his own money into his campiagn, Whitman doubled down. She injected another $5 million into her effort, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Whitman has now spent an estimated $64 million of her own money on her campaign; Poizner has dropped close to $22 million.


Carter name returns to Georgia politics

The Carter family has returned to Georgia politics.

Jason Carter, the 34-year-old grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, won Tuesday's special election for an open state Senate seat.

He is the first member of his family to win elected his office since his grandfather was in the White House. His father, Jack Carter, was the Democratic Senate nominee in Nevada in 2006 but lost to Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

Jason Carter won with 65 percent of the vote and celebrated at a restaurant Tuesday night with his grandparents and other family members, according to the Associated Press.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter did campaign for their grandson in the heavily Democratic district within Atlanta.


Top of the ballot: Mark Kirk RSVPs 'no'

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) blows off Sarah Palin, the GOP's chances look so good former Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) is considering a comeback and things are going from bad to worse for Florida's GOP contender for governor.

Like ships in the night

Palin is in suburban Chicago Wednesday for a conservative radio talk show event at the Rosemont Theatre and a $500-a-plate fundraiser at the Westin O'Hare for the Illinois Republican Party. The fundraiser isn't open press, but that still didn't entice the state's top GOP contenders to attend.

Kirk, who's running for Senate, "says he will have to be in Washington, D.C., tonight to make some planned House votes," according to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. And House candidates Randy Hultgren and Robert Dold "have other plans tonight."

That left just gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady to attend, and he "originally" didn't plan on it.

Don't call it a comeback

Fossella is considering trying to get his old job back. The former Long Island congressman was forced into retirement last cycle after a 2008 drunken-driving arrest revealed he had a second family in the DC suburbs. But he is now taking a second-look at running again.

"I have no doubt that he is looking at it," Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) told the New York Daily News. "But I also know that he has not made up his mind."

'How much did we pay him?'

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was expected to have a smooth ride to the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Instead, he's facing a wealthy self-funder in the primary and now he's connected to a scandal involving the website Rentboy.com, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The paper reports McCollum, "personally requested that the state's Department of Children and Families hire antigay psychologist George Rekers at $300 an hour as an expert witness to defend Florida's ban on gay people adopting."

Rekers's reputation is in tatters after reports he vacationed for two weeks in Europe with a gay male escort from Miami he hired through Rentboy.com. The 20-year-old escort told reporters he gave Rekers nude "sexual" massages every day during their European vacation.

The potential campaign isssue: Florida paid Rekers more than $100,000 over two years for his expert testimony involving a gay foster parent who was trying to adopt two brothers.


Top of the ballot: Tuesday's special

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.) and JFK have something in common, Hawaii's Colleen Hanabusa (D) has friends in high places, if not at the DCCC, and Vice President Biden doesn't know if his boss is going to Pennsylvania this week.

Wild and wonderful

West Virginia primaries can be unpredictable, just ask Ted Sorensen. The former presidential advisor was in Charleston, W.V., Monday giving a talk about how John F. Kennedy pulled off an upset in the state's 1960 Democratic primary.

"Why did John F. Kennedy enter the West Virginia primary with so much at stake? In early 1960, almost nobody gave John Kennedy a chance," Sorensen said.

The same could be said for Mollohan, who faces state Sen. Mike Oliverio in the Democratic primary. Both camps have released polls showing their candidates ahead. But in the aftermath of Sen. Bob Bennett's (R) downfall in Utah last weekend, incumbents are the underdogs. Meanwhile, six Republicans are seeking the GOP nod in Mollohan's district.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

She's our girl

Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) is backing state Sen. Hanabusa (D) to win Rep. Neil Abercrombie's (D-Hawaii) seat. Honda, in a statement: "Colleen has distinguished herself as an honest, trustworthy leader and fighter for the people of Hawaii."

It doesn't seem like Hanabusa's willing to drop out, despite the DCCC saying that two Democrats on the ticket equals a Republican victory. Meanwhile, Republican Charles Djou is "surging" in fundraising.

Djou raised $525,150 in April and had $362,700 banked at the start of May, according to the Honululu Advertiser. Hanabusa pulled in $349,000 in April and former Rep. Ed Case (D) raised $287,400 in April and had $153,500 cash on hand. The special election is May 22 and is winner take all.

Apparently not a BFD

Vice President Joe Biden won't say if President Obama is planning to campaign for Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in Pennsylvania this week.

Biden said he planned to stump for Specter, but he didn't know if Obama's schedule would let him make it back up to the Keystone State. "The president, I'm sure, will be reaching out," Biden said on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday. "Whether the president's going to go up there physically again between now and Tuesday, I don't know the schedule."

Biden noted, "He already has gone out and campaigned for Arlen Specter."


Union sees immigration reform as winning issue for Democrats

The Service Employees International Union will turn its attention from healthcare to immigration reform ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

"We are stepping up our immigration reform efforts as a union-wide national campaign the same that way we did for healthcare," Javier Morillo, the union's immigration campaign director, told The Ballot Box. "We are full-bore working on this. We are moving to get this done this year."

SEIU will use member education, canvassing and paid media as part of its effort.

One of the top priorities of the SEIU's immigration reform "war room" is stopping the copycat bills similar to Arizona's anti-illegal immigration measure that other states have introduced. "It's about using it on [the GOP] side for short-term electoral gain," he said.

Morillo noted 14 states have proposed similar legislation, including such midterm battlegrounds as Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri and Ohio.

"We're taking on these Arizona copycat laws to make the case for why we need a comprehensive solution and that it can really only be done by the federal government," he said.

Union officials and some conservative Democrats have expressed concern that taking up immigration reform could hurt the party's chances in 2010, but Morillo said the opposite is true. "The politics of this are such that the Republican Party will relegate itself to minority status if they continue to do things like Arizona."
Union members understand why immigration reform needs to happen, he added.

"Rooting out those who exploit our broken system for profit, that is important to all workers," Morillo said. "Comprehensive immigration reform is just one key piece of something that needs to happen that will benefit all workers."

The White House has reassured union officials it considers immigration reform a legislative priority, Morillo said.

"We've had assurances from the very beginning that they're serious about getting it done," he said. "The White House can't move this alone, they understand this."


Top of the ballot: Sestak's happy Monday

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) may have found his wedge issue in the race to usurp the Democratic nod from Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), establishment Republicans continue their embrace of Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden and New York Gov. David Paterson (D) didn't get his invite to President Obama's Buffalo rally.

'I actually voted against her before I voted for her'

The pending announcement of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's appointment to the Supreme Court will likely prompt a new line of attack in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. Specter voted against confirming Kagan as solicitor general in March of last year. He was a Republican at the time and Sestak will surely want to remind Democratic primary voters of his decision.

Recent polls have shown Sestak edging ahead of Specter with just over a week before the Democratic primary.

Kyl: Chickens are just a 'distraction'

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) pushed back against the suggestion Washington Republicans were worried about Sue Lowden’s Senate candidacy during a Las Vegas fundraiser for her campaign Saturday.

"Heavens no," Kyl said when asked if the GOP was worried about the “chickens for checkups” controversy. "That's a distraction and I think people realize that is not her plan for health care. She was discussing a historical reality. But she was not saying it's part of her health care plan."

Without mentioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) by name, Kyl added, “that is the kind of distraction an opponent who doesn't have much to talk about will frequently create." 

Kyl said he and Lowden have much in common. "Her views and mine are quite close," he told the Las Review-Journal. "And she's very electable."

Must've gotten lost in the mail

President Obama will be in Buffalo May 13 for a rally in support of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D), who's expected to run for governor, is also set to attend, according to reports. New York's current governor, however, isn't sure if he got an invite.

"I actually don't know that. I know he's coming, and I'd have to get back to you on that," David Paterson told a Buffalo radio station. "It's just not something that I happen to know off the top of my head."

Asked about the White House's attempt to discourage him from running for a full term, Paterson sounded sanguine. 

"I didn't feel snubbed, and I said it at the time," he said. "People read all kinds of things into anything, and I think the president has got a lot of things to deal with on a macro level like what we’ve got in New York State."


Anti-abortion group uses radio to get message out

The Susan B. Anthony List unveiled two elements of its aggressive midterm advertising campaign this week.

In West Virginia, the anti-abortion group is targeting Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) for his vote in favor of healthcare reform. It made a $30,000 radio buy that is airing on AM and FM stations, and could be heard more than 100 times a day because of the size of the markets. The minute-long ad says the 14-term Democrat "betrayed" his constituents.
"Alan Mollohan betrayed us and voted to spend federal dollars -- our dollars -- on abortions," the announcer says. The GOP primary to decide who faces Mollohan is May 11.

In Nevada, the group spent $50,000 on a spot praising Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden. It's airing on talk and Christian stations.

"In the state senate Sue Lowden led the fight for legislation that required parents be notified if their teen daughter was seeking an abortion," the announcer says in the ad.


Top of the ballot: Gillibrand and Obama make a date

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) gets more help from the White House, California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R) wants everyone to know she's more conservative than Tom Campbell (R) and former Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) shares a fake phone call with President Obama.

Buffalo's lovely this time of year

President Obama travels to Buffalo on May 13 -- apparently at the request of New York's junior senator.

The Buffalo News reports, "An array of local politicians, including [Buffalo Mayor Byron] Brown, have made a pitch to the president for a visit, but a White House official said Obama was going to Buffalo at the behest" of Gillibrand.

"This shows his strong commitment to the region," Gillibrand told the paper. "It is something I advocated for, because I believe Western New York can play a leading role in America's economic recovery."

Earlier this year the White House moved to dissuade possible primary challengers not to run against Gillibrand. She now has a clear path to the nomination and hasn't drawn a top-tier Republican challenger. 

Card carrying conservative

California Republicans run to the right in their primaries, but always the risk is that they won’t be able to pivot to the center in the general election. It seems Fiorina is taking that risk now.

On Thursday she locked up the endorsement of Sarah Palin and then burnished her conservative credentials in a debate with GOP rivals Chuck DeVore and Tom Campbell.

At one point the candidates were asked whether individuals on the no-fly list should be permitted to buy firearms, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Campbell, who has been leading in several polls, said they should not, but both Fiorina and DeVore disagreed.

"Oh my goodness," Campbell said after the other two candidates answered.

 Fiorina added, "That's why Tom Campbell has kind of a poor rating from the National Rifle Assn., right there."

'Ed, great to hear from you'

Ed Case has emerged as the Democratic establishment candidate in the Hawaii special election set for May 22. Not only does he have the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he's also got the White House on his side, that's according to a new TV ad his campaign released Thursday.

During a montage of photos of Obama and the White House, the narrator says, "only one candidate's strong enough to stand with the president: Ed Case."

The 30-second ad also says that Republican Charles Djou wants to be the "exact opposite" of Obama. It ends with a split screen of Obama and Case both talking on the phone. 

The Hawaii Republican Party called it a "Hail Mary" pass by Case's campaign.


Top of the ballot: Bennett's got weekend plans

Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) faces a decisive showdown this weekend in Salt Lake City, the GOP primary gets wild in West Virginia's 1st district and the GOP's best hope in Iowa goes in for surgery.

Working for the weekend

Campaigning to save his job, Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) has missed 36 of the 131 Senate roll call votes as of Wednesday, according to the Deseret News.

Reporters aren't the only ones taking notice, the Club for Growth issued a statement saying Bennett's "supposed to be Washington fighting to save our economy, not in Utah fighting to save his career."

Club spokesman Mike Connolly added that in addition to issuing a release attacking Bennett for absenteeism, the group will set up booths at the GOP convention on Saturday and will dispense information there about his missed votes.

This weekend's convention is expected to be Bennett's Waterloo. Challengers Mike Lee (R) and Tim Bridgewater (R) have been leading the incumbent in some recent polls.

Bennett needs the support of 60 percent of the some 3,500 delegates at the convention to hold the nomination and 40 percent to stay alive for a June primary. Some surveys have shown that Bennett may be hard pressed to hold on to 40 percent.

It's getting ugly in West Virginia

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) is facing one of the toughest races of his career after voting for healthcare reform but his eventual GOP challenger may emerge bloodied and bruised from the primary.

Republicans Mac Warner and David McKinley got into a fierce exchange during a GOP candidates debate in Wheeling Wednesday night. Warner accused McKinley of "feigning concern" for his son who was injured serving in Afghanistan, then calling his opponent "unfit to serve" in Congress in a mailer the next day.

"Some don't get it because they've never served in our Armed Forces," Warner said. "Don't ever call me unfit to serve." The moderator quickly ended the debate and the station ended the broadcast.

Terry's on the mend

Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) went in for elective heart surgery on Wednesday. He's expected to make a full recovered according to a spokesman for the Iowa Heart Center.

"Governor Branstad should be able to resume his normal campaign schedule within the next few days and should quickly return to his normal lifestyle without limitations. He should be fully capable of performing the activities of a candidate and a governor," the spokesman said.

Branstad's the favorite to win the GOP nod to face Gov. Chet Culver (D). Should his health compromise his ability to campaign vigorously, it could be a boon to the embattled Democrat.