Ballot Box

Gillibrand has comfortable lead, Paterson trails Cuomo

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) holds a comfortable lead over her potential Democratic rivals in a new Siena Research Institute poll. The survey shows her leading former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) 42-16 among registered Democrats, with activist Jonathan Tasini (D) getting only 4 percent. In a hypothetical match-up with Republican Bruce Blakeman, Gillibrand leads 51-24 among the 805 registered voters surveyed, 25 percent were undecided. Against businessman Mort Zuckerman (R), Gillibrand's lead was narrowed to 20-points.
 
Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson (D) is still in trouble, according to the poll. He trails his expected primary challenger, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D), by more than 40-points. Paterson launched his reelection effort with an official kickoff this weekend.

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Boucher challenger emerges

Republicans look to have finally gotten their man in Rep. Rick Boucher's (D-Va.) district.

Boucher has emerged as a top GOP target this cycle, thanks to the conservative nature of his southwestern Virginia district. The question has long been whether Republicans would be able to field anyone formidable against the 28-year incumbent.

In state House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, they appear to have it.

From the Roanoke Times:

After weeks of indecision, state Del. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, is lining up support for a likely campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher of Abingdon.

Griffith, the majority leader of the House of Delegates, was contacting party leaders and activists in the 9th Congressional District on Saturday to nail down support for his candidacy and is nearing a decision to formally enter the race. He faces a March 1 deadline to file as a Republican candidate in the district.

"It's going to take a lot of time and money, but I believe it can be done," Griffith said in a telephone interview Saturday. "I just have to make sure there's nothing I've overlooked."

Griffith, who has consulted with local, state and congressional Republicans over the past several weeks, said he has not made a firm decision. But two state Republican operatives with knowledge of Griffith's plans said he is likely to run for the congressional seat after getting positive feedback from GOP activists in the district.

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Former NRCC chairman says 50 percent chance of House takeover

Former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) pegged the GOP's chances of retaking the House at 50 percent or more.

While Davis was dubious that Republicans can retake the Senate, at least at this point, he was more optimistic about the House. Asked what odds he would place on it, Davis said: "50-50, at least."

"It's far from done," Davis said a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "You have to run races and execute. But they have put in all the pieces you need to do it, in terms of recruitment."

Davis put the lower boundary for GOP gains at 20-25 seats and the upper end at 55.

Davis said he thought Republicans had their best recruiting cyce in modern history. But he cautioned that DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) has done a good job preparing the vast majority of incumbents for their reelection bids by helping them stockpile cash.

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Huckabee slams CPAC, boosts Tea Party

Mike Huckabee slammed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last night as a corrupt organization that's losing ground to Tea Party protesters .

Huckabee, who did not attend this year's conference, said the annual gathering has focused too much on getting high-priced sponsors.

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Attorney to run against Rep. Scott Murphy

Former Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney David Harper has entered the race to face freshman Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.).

Murphy won a special election early last year but unlike another nearby upstate special election winner, Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Murphy had yet to see his race crowd this year.

Harper announced his candidacy over the weekend. He faces Queensbury Town Supervisor Dan Stec in the primary.

"Today is an exciting day as I am now formally and officially a candidate for Congress in New York’s 20th Congressional district," Harper said. "I’m running for Congress to put an end to the out of control spending and fiscal irresponsibility that dominates Washington and is ruining our economy.”

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Slight majority of Iowans approve of Grassley's performance

A slight majority of Iowans say they approve of how Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) ahead of his reelection bid this fall.

54 percent of Iowa voters say they support Grassley's job performance, according to a new Iowa Poll released Sunday and reported by the Des Moines Register. That number is down from 57 percent who expressed a similar opinion in November.

28 percent said they disapproved of the veteran Republican senator's job performance, while 18 percent were unsure.

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Van Hollen: GOP 'high on their own hype' ahead of midterms

Republicans are perhaps guilty of buying into their own hype by thinking they'll win back the House this fall, the head of Democrats' campaign efforts said Sunday.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), dismissed Republicans' hopes of winning back control of the House this fall.

"I've always said...this was going to be a very tough political cycle," Van Hollen said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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Rep. Bill Young will seek reelection

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) will seek reelection this fall, he said Saturday night.

Young, a 79-year-old who's served in the House since first being elected in 1970, had been thought to be a prime candidate for retirement.

Young said during an appearance in his district alongside National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) that he would run again, joking that his wife would have run for his seat otherwise.

"Beverly told me that if I didn't run, she was going to," Young told supporters, as reported by the St. Petersburg Times. The prospect of his wife running for Congress led Young to think, "maybe I better stay on the job."

Young's decision means national Republicans won't have to worry about defending his seat in Florida's 10th congressional district, a centrist district which Democrats would have had a competitive chance of winning.

While Republicans are seen as most likely to gain seats in this fall's midterm congressional elections, 18 of their House members have announced they would not run for reelection, either to retire or seek another office. 15 Democratic lawmakers, by contrast, have said they're leaving the House.

Sessions told Young's supporters that the congressman's appearance Saturday night would be far from a wistful affair.

"I will say to you, this is not Bill Young's swan song tonight," he said.

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