Rep. Bill Young declines consideration for Senate appointment

Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) announced Monday that he is pulling his name from consideration to fill out the term being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), according to local reports.

Young was one of several current and former politicians being looked at for the appointment, which will be made by Gov. Charlie Crist (R).

Young has served in the House for nearly 40 years and has been considered a potential retiree. His decision to remain in the House appears to provide a strong indication that he will seek reelection in 2010, which could be his toughest reelection race in years.

Democrats have recruited state Sen. Charlie Justice (D) to run against Young, with the hope being that he might consider retiring in his battleground Tampa-area district.

The appointment would have served a similar function for the Democrats, given that Young would have been yielding his seat for it.

Young is the second current House member to decline Crist's interest in a potential appointment, joining Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

The current list of those being actively considered by Crist is as follows:

Former Rep. Mike Bilirakis
Former Rep. Clay Shaw
Former Rep. Lou Frey
State Rep. Jennifer Carroll
North Florida University President John Delaney
Former U.S. Attorney Bobby Martinez
Former Crist Chief of Staff George LeMieux
Former state Sen. Dan Webster
Former Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith

Schakowsky: 'Fear is the friend' of the GOP

Fear is the friend of Republican lawmakers looking to slow down or prevent healthcare reform legislation from going forward, one Democratic lawmaker asserted Monday.

"Fear is their friend," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to respond to a "Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights" released by their GOP counterpart this morning.

"The Republican Party has to take responsibility for their lies and their hypocrisy when it comes to seniors and healthcare reform," Schakowsky said. "The substance of this document uses false claims that have time and again been debunked."

The Republican National Committee's (RNC) "bill of rights" would, among other things, oppose cuts to Medicare to fund healthcare reform, preventing government involvement in end-of-life care, and "prohibit efforts to ration health care based on age."

Schakowsky accused Republicans of "doing nothing except saying 'no' and spreading lies" in the document, and accused the GOP of " carrying the water of the insurance companies, of the status quo."

"There may be Democrats who would like to see a bipartisan solution to this, but the Republicans are unwilling to compromise," she said, predicting that the House would return in September to pass legislation containing a public (or "government-run") option for consumers.

Campaign update: Troubling polls for Dems, Steele gaffes

Poll roundup:

-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is hardly bulletproof, but who will run against her?
-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) trails two little-known Republicans, including by double-digits to a two-time loser.
-Neighboring Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) could both have big primary problems.
-A GOP poll shows former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) cruising past current Gov. Chet Culver (D) by 19 points. Now, we'll find out whether Branstad seeks a 5th term in that office.

Other items:

-There is a libertarian running for Senate in New Hampshire and he has some name ID. Ken Blevens, who has carried his party's banner in several races over the years, could steal some votes, but polling at about 3 percent means he likely won't cause any serious shifts in the race.

-RNC Chairman Michael Steele steps in it (the crapper?) as a conservative talk show host eviscerates the GOP's likely Senate nominee in Missouri. Not good for Steele, not good for Rep. Roy Blunt and maybe even worse for their party.

-Marco Rubio (R) fills out his revamped campaign team for his Senate primary against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, adding political director Brandon Patty.

-Crist's list of potential appointees to fill out Sen. Mel Martinez's (R-Fla.) term grows to include former Reps. Mike Bilirakis, Clay Shaw and Lou Frey. It sounds like a decision could come in the next week or so. I know I said I would abstain from handicapping, but Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) just seems like a logical choice here. No, he doesn't help Crist with valuable Hispanic voters, but he is a long-serving congressman who could go out on top, serving a year in the upper chamber to complement his nearly 40 years in the House. Young also has a potentially tough challenge on his hands this year, and this would give him a graceful way to avoid that without looking like he's slighting his party.

-Could there really be a fifth straight Baron Hill-Mike Sodrel matchup? The answer: for better or worse, yes. Former Rep. Sodrel (R-Ind.) says he'll decide on the race this fall, after he finishes writing a book. Hill (D) is now 3-1 in their four matchups, but if the environment swings in the GOP's favor, Sodrel's personal wealth has to be attractive to the national GOP.

White House distances itself from Paterson's claims of racist media

The White House distanced itself Monday from suggestions made by New York Gov. David Paterson (D) that President Obama would be targeted for media scrutiny because of his race.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters in Martha's Vineyard, where the president is vacationing, that the president doesn't agree with Paterson's assertion that African-American politicians are victimized by "orchestrated" campaigns by the media.

"In terms of media coverage and the media, he thinks there are a lot of people who disagree with him in the media, a lot of people who agree with him in the media, and some who just play it straight," Burton told reporters. "Whether or not race plays into that...the president doesn't think that's the case."

"We're not in the post-racial period," Paterson told the New York Daily News last week. "The reality is the next victim on the list -- and you can see it coming -- is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system."

Paterson also suggested that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has been the victim of a racially biased media.

Burton said that the White House hadn't been following Paterson's uphill reelection bid in New York with much "granularity."

Poll: Gillibrand may face a tough race in 2010

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) may be headed for a tough reelection bid in 2010, according to a new, independent poll released Monday.

35 percent of voters told this month's Siena Poll of New Yorkers that they would prefer to vote for someone else in 2010, compared to 24 percent who said she deserved reelection. 41 percent were unsure.

Gillibrand has faced poor public opinion numbers since she was appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson (D) after a prolonged and controversial process to fill the Senate seat vacated by now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Still, a plurality of New Yorkers who responded view the freshman senator positively. 29 percent have a favorable opinion of Gillibrand (down from 33 percent in May), compared to 20 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. 52 percent of respondents didn't know or had no opinion.

Democrats have managed, though, to clear the primary field for Gillibrand so she can focus on bucking up for her Republican challenger.

Two of those potential challengers, former Gov. George Patacki (R) and Rep. Peter King (R), would face slightly different prospects out of the gate against Gillibrand, the poll found.

42 percent of New Yorkers would prefer Patacki over Gillibrand, in a test of a hypothetical matchup, with 18 percent undecided.

Gillibrand leads King 46-24, by contrast, with 30 percent undecided.

The Siena Poll, conducted August 17-20, has a 3.9 percent margin of error.

Lieberman to Baldwin: 'Make my day'

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) channeled one actor, Clint Eastwood, on Sunday to respond to another Hollywood star's threat to challenge him for reelection.

"Make my day," Lieberman said about actor Alec Baldwin's comments in the latest issue of Playboy that he might move to Connecticut to challenge Liberman, a centrist "Independent Democrat," for reelection in 2012.

Baldwin, a political liberal, told Playboy that he has "no use" for Lieberman, who supported Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign over President Obama's, and has stymied his party by not backing a public option in healthcare reform legislation.

"I mean, I must say that I respect Alec Baldwin as an actor and as a comedian, and if he wants to run, that's his right," Lieberman added during an appearance this morning on CNN.

Conyers looks vulnerable in 2010 reelection poll

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) could face a tough reelection race in 2010, according to a new, independent poll released this weekend.

40 percent of Conyers's constituents said he deserved reelection, according to a poll conducted earlier this month by the Lansing, Mich.-based Deno Noor Polling, in conjunction with the Rossman Group and Perricone Group.

44 percent of Detroiters represented by Conyers said they would prefer to elect someone else. 15 percent were unsure or didn't know.

The 80-year-old Conyers has served in Congress since 1965, making him one of the longest-serving members of Congress still in office. He could face a challenging reelection, though, due to the conviction of his wife, Monica Conyers, for bribery charges incurred while she served as President Pro Tempore of the Detroit City Council.

Rep. Conyers has dodged questions about his wife's conviction, and it isn't clear whether the couple has maintained a close relationship in recent years.

Still, 76 percent of those surveyed said the conduct of Monica Conyers wouldn't affect how they would vote for her powerful husband.

Another Detroit lawmaker's political future could be imperiled by a family member's illicit political conduct, as well.

27 percent of Detroiters said Rep. Carolyn Cheek Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) deserves reelection almost a year after she was almost unseated in a Democratic primary challenge.

58 percent said that someone else should replace Kilpatrick, with 14 percent undecided.

Kilpatrick won a hotly-contested three-way primary last August with 39 percent of the vote after her son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was forced from office after pleading guilty to charges stemming from his testimony denying an extramarital affair to which he later admitted.

60 percent of Detroiters said the former mayor's conduct would have no bearing on their vote for Kilpatrick, who's served in Congress since being elected in 1996.

POLL: Reid trails potential GOP foes in 2010 race

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) trails two potential Republican opponents in a new independent poll testing those matchups.

Reid trails real estate businessman Danny Tarkanian and Nevada GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden in a Mason-Dixon poll conducted this past week and released Sunday.

Tarkanian, a former basketball player for the University of Nevada - Los Vegas, would take the support of 49 percent of Nevadans, while 38 percent would support Reid for reelection. 13 percent of Nevada voters were undecided between the two choices.

By contrast, Lowden would beat Reid 45-40 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

National Republicans have made targeting Reid a priority in their 2010 midterm election efforts. And while the polls show Reid below the 50 percent threshold considered healthy for incumbents, Reid's been furiously raising money for the race, reporting a hefty $7.3 million in cash on hand through the end of June, in Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

Republicans also haven't been able to draw their preferred candidates into the race, either. Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (R) had been a favorite recruit until falling under ethical scrutiny, and Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) had declined to challenge Reid in recent weeks.

(Mason-Dixon tested a potential Heller-Reid race. 50 percent of Nevada voters said they would support Heller, and 40 percent would support Reid, with the rest undecided.)

National Democrats and Republicans have made a point of targeting Senate leaders in their reelection efforts this past decade. Republicans managed to knock off then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in 2004, while Democrats almost succeeded in unseating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2008.

The poll, conducted August 17-18, has a five percent margin of error.

Ark. state Senate president weighs Lincoln challenge

Add another name to the lengthy list of potential GOP opponents for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.): Arkansas state Senate President Bob Johnson.

From the AP:
Arkansas Senate President Bob Johnson said Friday that he's considering challenging incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln in next year's primary.

Johnson told The Associated Press that's he's been encouraged to challenge Lincoln, who is seeking a third Senate term next year. Johnson said he doesn't have a timeline for deciding whether to challenge Lincoln.

"I'd be less than honest if I told you it hasn't surfaced in a number of circles," Johnson said. "I am weighing it very carefully."

Republicans have identified Lincoln as their top target on next year's ballot; five candidates have already announced they're running for the GOP Senate nomination. So far, no Democrats have said they're challenging Lincoln in the primary.

Johnson, who served as House speaker during the 1999 legislative session, has represented his north central Arkansas district in the state Senate since 2001.

Though the field is big, it is still without a big-name lawmaker. The current frontrunner is probably businessman and Mike Huckabee adviser Curtis Coleman. State Sen. Gilbert Baker is also considering the race.

Poll shows Beauprez leading Colo. Senate primary

The first poll on the GOP Senate primary in Colorado shows former Rep. Bob Beauprez leading a field of three candidates with 41 percent of the vote. He is followed in the Public Policy Polling survey by Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, at 23 percent, and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, at 15 percent.

The numbers aren't too surprising. Beauprez is known to about two-thirds of primary voters thanks to his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, while Frazier and Weld are both unknown to a solid majority of voters.

What's interesting is that while Weld is known to more voters than Frazier, 35 percent versus 24 percent, he still trails Frazier by 8 percent.

Of course, this is all very early, and Beauprez hasn't even decided whether to get into the race. But it's still a good sign for Frazier that his support is very high among those who know about him.

The poll didn't test former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who has recently begun making overtures about the race.

The winner will likely face appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

In the gubernatorial GOP primary to face Gov. Bill Ritter (D), former Rep. Scott McInnis leads state Sen. Josh Penry 36-15.