Ballot Box

Democrat labels ex-Rep. Deal 'too corrupt, even for Congress'

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes (D) unleashed a hard-hitting attack ad Tuesday against former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) in the state's race for governor.

Barnes is seizing on the recent flap over Deal's tax returns, which the Republican released last week amid pressure from his opponent. 

Deal resigned his House seat in March to focus on his campaign for governor, but the retirement also came after the Office of Congressional Ethics said he had improperly described income from his family's salvage business.  

The 30-second spot from Barnes charges that "secrets are hidden in the details" of Deal's returns. 

"That's why he resigned from Congress at midnight," the ad's narrator says. "Nathan Deal — too corrupt, even for Congress."

Deal narrowly won a runoff last month over Karen Handel for the right to take on Barnes. Deal received some prominent backing from two rumored Republican presidential hopefuls — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

(h/t: Atlanta Journal Constitution)

—Sean Miller contributed to this post.

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From S.C. to Arizona, questions about 'sham' candidates

The use of so-called sham candidates might be on the rise this cycle.

In South Carolina, Senate candidate Alvin Greene (D) has been called a "plant" by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), who doubted the unemployed Army veteran could have come up with the $10,400 filing fee.

And in Arizona, Republican strategist Steve May has recruited three homeless people to run on the Green Party ticket for state-level office. It prompted the Arizona Democratic Party to file complaints with local, state and federal prosecutors in order to have the candidates removed from the ballot.

"These are people who are not serious and who were recruited as part of a cynical manipulation of the process," said Paul Eckstein, a lawyer for the Arizona Democrats. "They don't know Green from red."

May recruited the candidates from Mill Avenue, a bohemian commercial strip next to Arizona State University, according to The New York Times.

More from the Times:

"Did I recruit candidates? Yes," said Mr. May, who is himself a candidate for the State Legislature, on the Republican ticket. "Are they fake candidates? No way."

To make his point, Mr. May went by Starbucks, the gathering spot of the Mill Rats, as the frequenters of Mill Avenue are known. 

"Are you fake, Benjamin?" he yelled out to Mr. Pearcy, who cried out "No," with an expletive attached.

"Are you fake, Thomas?" Mr. May shouted in the direction of Thomas Meadows, 27, a tarot card reader with less than a dollar to his name who is running for state treasurer. He similarly disagreed.

"Are you fake, Grandpa?" he said to Anthony Goshorn, 53, a candidate for the State Senate whose bushy white beard and paternal manner have earned him that nickname on the streets. "I'm real," he replied. 

Gathered around was a motley crew of people who were down on their luck, including a one-armed pregnant woman named Roxie whom Mr. May befriended sometime back and who introduced him to the rest.

The Democratic Party is fuming over Mr. May's tactics and those of at least two other Republicans who helped recruit candidates to the Green Party, which does not have the resources to put candidates on ballots around the state and thus creates the opportunity for write-in contenders like the Mill Rats to easily win primaries and get their names on the ballot for November. Complaints about spurious candidates have cropped up often before, though never involving an entire roster of candidates drawn from a group of street people. 





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Murkowski's options in Alaska

For now, Alaska's Senate race is moving on without Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who suffered a stunning primary loss to Tea Party-backed candidate Joe Miller.

But Murkowski has yet to endorse Miller and appears to be keeping her options open when it comes to pursuing a third-party or independent write-in bid this November. 

An official with the state Libertarian Party told the Anchorage Daily News over the weekend that there have been discussions with the Murkowski campaign about a potential run on their ballot line.

Though the party already rejected the idea once, an official with the party told the Ballot Box immediately after Murkowski conceded to Miller that the party could reconsider if the senator made an appeal. 

Murkowski getting the Libertarian ballot line remains unlikely at the moment, but it's clear the senator has not yet completely ruled out trying to run this fall. 

The greatest negative for Murkowski if she did decide to pursue another ballot line would be the anger she would undoubtedly generate among the base of the Republican Party. Not to mention how the NRSC would react to such a move. 

Either way, it's a decision that has to come soon. For Murkowski to get on the ballot, she would have to replace a candidate by September 15. Her only other option is an independent bid, which would have to come in the form of a write-in campaign.    

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Rep. Meek: 'If the president wants to come to Florida, he's welcome'

In an MSNBC interview Tuesday morning touting the release of his campaign's new TV ad, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) didn't sound like a candidate holding onto the possibility of a campaign visit from President Obama before November.

Meek, who is locked in a three-way Senate contest with Republican Marco Rubio and Gov. Charlie Crist (I), said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that it's important for the next senator from the state to "have a working relationship with the president." 

But as for a potential campaign visit from Obama, Meek said, "If the president wants to come to Florida, he's welcome to come to Florida." 

In his first TV ad of the general election, Meek takes some shots at his two opponents without mentioning either by name. The congressman runs through a litany of policy positions that he says make him "different" from Rubio and Crist, claiming, "with three of us running, you should know what makes me different." 

The ad, produced by the Democratic firm Murphy Putnam, features Meek in half a dozen different locales, from riding a boat in the Everglades to sitting on a bus with senior citizens. In the 30-second spot, Meek calls himself "the only one who's against privatizing Social Security," and the "only one who took on George Bush."


Meek's ad comes as Crist also launches his first TV ad of the general election, trying to paint himself as being above party politics.  

"How do we get results for Florida?" Crist asks in the ad, flanked by letters spelling out the words "Democrats" and "Republicans." 

"By putting aside our differences and putting people ahead of politics," he concludes as he rearranges the letters to spell the word "Americans."


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Rep. Childers has edge on GOP challenger in poll

Freshman Rep. Travis Childers has a 5-point lead on his Republican challenger going into the pivotal post-Labor Day stretch of the campaign, according to an internal poll done for the Mississippi Democrat.

Childers led state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) 46 to 41 percent in the Anzalone Liszt Research poll obtained by The Ballot Box. The Democratic firm surveyed 400 likely voters in the district Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent, which means Childers' lead could be razor thin.

A recent poll for Nunnelee's campaign had the Republican ahead 50 to 42 percent.

Overall, Childers remains well liked by his constituents, according to the new poll, which had him higher than 50 percent in two key categories. The Democrat had a 57 percent favorable rating and a 54 percent job approval rating.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved airtime in Mississippi's first district, but those resources could be directed elsewhere. Party strategists are giving vulnerable incumbents two weeks to prove they're worth the investment, according to The New York Times.

"Every campaign cycle the DCCC and other campaign committees face difficult resource allocation decisions and this election cycle is no different," Chris Van Hollen, the committee's chairman, said in a recent statement. 

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