Other races

Other races

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.


Top of the ballot: Marco and Jeb make it official

Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) gets the official nod from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), both Democrats pledge to keep running a "clean" campaign in North Carolina and is Tea Party turnout in Ohio a sign of things to come?

Man in the shadows

Jeb Bush came out of the shadows to offer his public support to Marco Rubio for the first time Wednesday. The two will campaign together Friday night at the Pasco County Reagan Day Dinner, according to the Rubio camp. Bush's statement didn't mention Gov. Charlie Crist by name, but it did take a tacit swipe at the now Independent Senate candidate. "You can trust that [Rubio's] principles will not change every time the political winds shift direction," Bush said.

Keep it clean

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall overcame a lack of funding and the death of her husband from cancer in November to pull out a 10-point lead over former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in North Carolina's Democratic primary Tuesday.

In an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, Marshall called her 10-point lead "significant" and said having a runoff "would be contrary to a united party." But she did not call for Cunningham to drop out.

"For the last year he has run a clean campaign. If he decides to continue this campaign for another seven weeks we will beat him again with a larger margin than we did tonight," she said.  Marshall added, "I wasn't planning on taking a vacation anyway."

Cunningham said he spoke with his rival Tuesday night. "I told her I hope we can continue to conduct this campaign in the same manner that we conducted it so far," he said.

Last call for Tea?

The Columbus Dispatch writes, "Tea Party's bark louder than its bite in targeted Republican races for state auditor and secretary of state. In the contest for auditor, the Ohio GOP-endorsed candidate, Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost, handily defeated Dayton-area state Rep. Seth Morgan, who relied on Tea Party rallies and Internet outreach to appeal to Republican voters."

Here's one snapshot of turnout in Ohio's primary: In Clermont County, elections officials had projected turnout of at least 30 percent on account of the interest of those involved with the tea-party movement. 

"I was hoping for 35 percent because the Tea Party had really spurred people's interest in getting involved," said Judy Miller, director of the Board of Elections, said Tuesday night. "We had a lot more people running for Central Committee. We thought there would be a lot more voters."


'Start drinking decaf,' Emanuel tells Chicago reporters

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was peppered with questions about his mayoral ambitions after leaving a panel discussion at the University of Illinois in Chicago Tuesday.

Amid the excitement, Emanuel tried to downplay his recent remarks about succeeding Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D). "It's great to be back in Chicago, and I don't want to be disruptive to what the mayor's doing here," he said.

"As you know, we have our home here," Emanuel added. "And can't wait, at some point in the future -- don't over-interpret everything, don't everybody get excited -- at some point when we come back, which is always our goal, which is why we rented the house."

According to Chicago Public Radio, one reporter asked, "So the name Mayor Emanuel sounds good to you?"

Emanuel replied: "I think you guys are way too excited. You guys got to start drinking decaf."

On a more serious subject, Emanuel said that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's legal team had not subpoenaed him to testify in the Democrat's upcoming corruption trial.

Last week, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) confirmed he has been subpoenaed by Blagojevich's lawyers.


Top of the ballot: Specter misses the GOP

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has found memories of being a Republican, polls show the Democratic Senate primary in Ohio is widening, and, thanks to Arizona, illegal immigration is becoming a campaign issue.

Specter's nostalgia

Less than three weeks before facing his first Democratic primary vote (and a year after he switched parties), Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) sounds nostalgic for his past in the GOP.

"Well, I probably shouldn't say this,'' he lets slip in a profile in the Allentown Morning Call. ''But I have thought from time to time that I might have helped the country more if I'd stayed a Republican.''

Still, Specter goes on to defend his decision to switch parties, saying it was because a ''moderate public servant'' no longer had a place in the GOP. ''For me to say I had no place in the Republican Party was a significant commentary,'' he said. ''The party had been heading there for a long time, and this was the identification of it.''

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), Specter's primary opponent, will try to regain some momentum during a pivotal speech Wednesday night at American University in Washington.

As seen on TV

In the Ohio Senate Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) has a commanding lead over rival Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Fisher's up 17 points over Brunner, a 10-point increase in less than a month.

Fisher's rise in the polls comes as he started running 30-second TV bio ads earlier in April, according to the Columbus Dispatch. But the lead has come at a cost. Fisher has dropped $3 million on his primary, while former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the expected GOP nominee, has been able to stockpile cash.

Thank you, Arizona

From Iowa House primaries to the Georgia governor's race candidates are again talking about illegal immigration. Here's a taste of what they're saying:

Iowa Republican Pat Bertroche, who's vying to face Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), said police should catch illegal immigrants and document their whereabouts. "I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal?"

Meanwhile, former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), who left Congress to run for governor, came out in support of the Arizona law. "As governor of Georgia, I’d work to pass and sign similar legislation," he said in a statement.

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove sounded concerned about what the debate will do to his party's chances in November. "I wished they hadn't passed it, in a way," he said about the new Arizona law Tuesday.

Other updates

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) has reevaluated his position on offshore oil drilling. In light of what's happened off the coast of Louisiana, he's withdrawn his support for oil exploration off the coast of Florida. Crist plans to announce Thursday whether he will run as an Independent.

(Updated at 9:23 a.m.)


Top of the ballot: Raising Arizona, Obama hits the road and Crist's still coy on Indie bid

Arizona rekindles the national immigration debate, Missouri Senate candidate Robin Carnahan (D) will finally appear with President Obama and Gov. Charlie Crist (R) has three days to decided his future.

Take 'em away boys

The passage of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law has dragged the issue of immigration reform back into the national spotlight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) suggested last week that he'll prioritize an immigration bill before energy reform. A best case scenario for Democrats' chances in November may be to appear to be working on the issue, while refraining from passing actual legislation.

President Obama acknowledged in a web video Monday that Latino voters were a key party of the coalition "who powered our victory in 2008," so giving them something to vote for in the midterms could help his party.

The Arizona bill may also be a wedge issue to corner Republicans on. The Florida Democratic Party sent out a release Tuesday that asked, "What do Crist and Rubio think of the AZ immigration law?" Put another way the question is, do Republicans support racial profiling? GOP candidates better get familiar with Arizona's new statute.

No longer ships in the night

Carnahan, the likely Democratic nominee for Senate in Missouri, will appear with Obama Wednesday when he stops in Macon as part of his "Main Street Tour," according to the Kansas City Star. It may be a sign that the president's numbers are improving in the Midwest. Earlier this year, Carnahan opted to be in DC for a fundraiser instead of joining Obama at an event for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in St. Louis.

Fancy meeting you here

Crist showed up at the ribbon cutting for a road construction project near the Miami International Airport Monday. Asked why he was at an event for a project funded by the stimulus program, Crist said: "Because it creates jobs for the people of Florida that I work for and that is first and foremost in my mind."

He maintains he hasn't made up his mind about an Independent run for Senate, but he certainly appears to be positioning himself that way. One concern, though, is would he refund the donations he received from people who thought of him as a Republican?

Crist: "You know, I think that's a decision that you have to make if you made a decision to go independent. I haven't made that decision yet."

Florida's filing deadline is Friday.

Other updates

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) wishes he could make it a trilogy.

"I'm one of those governors that actually, you know, wouldn't mind staying in another term as governor," Schwarzenegger said Monday at a press conference in Beverly Hills with Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R)

"I totally agree what you say, Gov. Doyle, that after two terms you should get out and you should have a new breed of people come in and all that," Schwarzenegger said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "But there is also, you must admit, there's things that you see that you have started and you see movement, and all of a sudden you feel like it needs the follow through. You know, to go all the way, just like in the golf stroke, follow through, or in the tennis stroke, follow through. And now all of a sudden you're not there to follow through."