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The Battle for America 2010: The Wave Keeps Building

CALIFORNIA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Tim Daniel reporting:

Last week, Democrats in California brought out Bill Clinton to stump for Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom in Los Angeles and Loretta Sanchez in Orange County. Sarah Palin and RNC Chairman Michael Steele traveled to Anaheim to rally Republicans. I was not able to attend the L.A. rally for the Democrats or the Orange County Republican event, but I did make it to Santa Ana to catch Bill Clinton speechifying for Loretta Sanchez.

I taped the following segment in which Clinton rallies the Democrats gathered by scapegoating boogeyman GOP policies to cut the federal government and contrasts Sanchez and her Republican opponent Van Tran, particularly on immigration:

I recorded this segment of Clinton’s speech in which he says, “Vote for Loretta because she voted for the stimulus.” He then continues to list other supposed Sanchez policy achievements:

I shot this picture during Clinton’s speech. Loretta Sanchez took on an almost a girlish-crush look as he spoke. (She is dressed in blue behind him):

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And this picture I snapped highlights the significant Secret Service presence at the event:

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It is worth noting that Bill Clinton’s appearance in Orange County only brought out about 1,000 people, many of whom were die-hard party faithful and union members. A few Van Tran supporters were also in attendance. Although he is a great orator (no teleprompter in sight), I found his 38-minute speech to be quite boring. He blamed George W. Bush for the economic crisis, saber-rattled the GOP, chastised the tea party movement as extreme, needlessly wandered into policy minutiae, and nearly begged Democrats to “not give up hope” this November. He simply took too much on and could have cut the speech in half.

It was interesting to witness just how much more personable and at ease the former president is than President Obama. The Democratic audience hung to every word; women in the audience even swooned as the speech ended and he took off his blazer and mingled with the crowd.

Another high note for the week occurred during the final debate between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. Moderator Tom Brokaw questioned Jerry Brown about the infamous “whore” comment made by someone tied to his campaign and things got interesting.

From the debate:

Tom Brokaw — “We’ve heard no outrage from you on the use of that kind of language which to many women is the same as calling an African American the N-word.”

Jerry Brown — “I don’t agree with that comparison … Number two, this is a five week old, private conversation picked up on a cell phone… .”

Beyond the exchange above, the day after the debate the National Organization for Women asked for the Brown associate who called Meg Whitman a whore to be fired. Should Jerry Brown just divorce his wife then? Also, California’s NOW president called Whitman a “political whore” the same day.

Rasmussen came out later in the week showing that the Senate race is still a statistical tie. Boxer gets 49% and Fiorina is at 46%. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Boxer up by 1%. Rasmussen also shows Jerry Brown coming in at 49% to Meg Whitman’s 44%, perhaps reflecting nannygate fallout. However, the poll does not reflect whoregate.

On the results above, fellow Golden State resident Roger L. Simon asks, “Is California Insane?” Yes, unfortunately it is, Mr. Simon, but I wouldn’t be counting my Democratic chickens before they’ve hatched.

Quicklinks
:

The Vietnamese Are Coming!Van Tran and Loretta Sanchez debated on KOCE-TV in Huntington Beach. Tran hit his stride associating Sanchez’s record with the Obama agenda of debt and deficits, and quipped that Sanchez needed a teleprompter for her opening and closing statements! Also, a new Public Opinion Strategies poll has the race at a tie.

Big Handshake in Little Saigon — Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen endorsed Van Tran which will help Vietnamese turnout in CD-47.

CA Gubernatorial Candidate Arrested — No, it wasn’t Whitman or Brown but Greeny-Weenie Party’s Laura Wells .

Money, Root of all Evil?John Dennis has raised three times more cash than Nancy Pelosi in the last three months. Nancy Pelosi claims to not have time to debate Dennis because “time is money.”

High Times no More and the FedsHigh Times writer arrested and Eric Holder’s Justice Department promises to enforce federal drug law if Proposition 19 passes.

A Steely-Eyed Sarracuda in the OC – I noted that Sarah Palin headlined “Victory 2010” in Anaheim. Don’t miss Andrew Breitbart’s rousing speech, as well as RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s. Assemblyman Van Tran spoke as well.

CONNECTICUT

Key Race: U.S. Senate

Jane Genova reporting:

Two different polls tell two different stories about the Connecticut U.S. Senate race.

The Quinnipiac University one has state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal leading former WWE executive Linda McMahon by a 54-to-43 margin.  On the other hand, the Rasmussen poll has the margin at 51-to-46.  Of course, on the Sunday talk shows guests took the opportunity to support their party’s candidate.  For example, on Fox News Sunday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) predicted victory for McMahon. In addition, both sides are bringing on the heavy metal.  This week Michelle Obama is coming to the state to stump for Blumenthal. Late last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to CT and went to bat for McMahon with the slogan “Two Reformers, One Rally.”

However, the campaign seems to have defaulted into the matter of character. That is unusual given all the economic challenges in the state. The new tipping point was crystal clear in the third debate between the candidates. Blumenthal hammered that voters “know that I have … spent my life building the future for families in Connecticut, while you have built your fortune, putting profits first.” McMahon countered with that once-powerful misspoke about his military service in Vietnam. She said, “You do have a credibility issue. The people of Connecticut know you, but what they know now is you have great difficulty in always telling the truth.” However, that supposed zinger might not resonate so much since McMahon also admitted that she had misspoke on the minimum wage.

Blumenthal is reinforcing that character attack with the unique black-and-white television commercial. Some advertising experts judge such a stark approach communicates the so-called sinister nature of wealthy McMahon. The specific message in the 30-second commercial is that “Linda McMahon paid lobbyists over a million dollars to protect hers [that is, the profit interests of the WWE, instead of yours].”

Self-funded candidates such as McMahon usually do not win elections. The exceptions are the Michael Bloomberg types. Bloomberg won three elections as New York City’s mayor. The process of fundraising, some political experts claim, seasons the candidate. For example, they have to emerge from the bunker wealth has created for them and enter the mess of real people tugging on them with real and often conflicting concerns. They become adept at rhetorical tap dancing and which issues to nurture. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, only 11% of self-funders won elections between 2000 and 2008. Going after the money seems to be a necessary rite of passage in politics.

No betters worth their salt would predict the results of this race, which has two weeks to go.  Anything can throw Blumenthal’s lead into disarray.

Jane Genova is a political blogger and communications consultant based in New Haven, CT. She also blogs on career matters for AOL Jobs.

FLORIDA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Stephanie Maier reporting:

Early voting begins this week in Florida as candidates in both hotly contested U.S. Senate and governor races rev into full war-path mode, featuring new debates and a fresh batch of accusatory television and radio spots. One notable spot attacks gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott (R) for pleading the Fifth Amendment 75 times during his deposition regarding the HCA Medicare fraud scandal that continues to haunt him on the campaign trail.

Scott began the week with an appearance on Fox & Friends, where he discussed Florida’s job crisis as an immediate issue and said that he’s the best candidate to “watch every penny,” a comment which garnered a few disagreeable emails from viewers still upset over the HCA debacle.

State CFO Alex Sink (D) will join Scott on Wednesday, October 20, to hash out health care reform and the employment crisis, among other topics, and again on October 25 at the University of South Florida in Tampa. That debate will be hosted by the St. Petersburg Times and CNN.

The latest Rasmussen poll still shows the candidates in a brawl with an unpredictable outcome, as Scott leads Sink by a negligible three points, 50%-47%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Governor Charlie Crist (I), Marco Rubio (R) and U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek (D) will square off once again at Nova Southeastern on October 19, and in the final push the St. Petersburg Times and CNN will host another debate between the three in Tampa on Sunday, October 24. Rubio sprints ahead in the latest polls, tipping the 50% mark and leaving the closest candidate, Crist, in the dust with only 25%.

However, as any good candidate knows, fourteen days is a long time in the campaign world. In the coming days voters can expect a continued arsenal of new TV spots in both races, each more scathing than the last, as candidates unleash their media coffers in an attempt to push their base to the polls and sway last-minute undecideds.

MARYLAND

Key Races: Governor, U.S. House

Michael Swartz reporting:

It’s trench warfare in Maryland.

With a pair of candidates who already have a record as governor, Maryland’s race between Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley has become a sort of trench warfare, with each side trying simply to hold their ground but pick off a few voters from the other side.

On Thursday, the two held their final televised debate before early voting begins later this week, with one observer aptly calling it “another political missile-throwing match with limited substantive discussion about the future.” Despite the feeling that the Republican, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, outperformed incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley at the Washington Post debate, the paper went ahead and reversed its 2006 endorsement of Bob Ehrlich by giving O’Malley the nod this time.

But these weren’t the only contentious debates. First District foes Andy Harris and Frank Kratovil sparred over the tone of their campaigns while Fifth District challenger Charles Lollar drew a stiff rebuke from his Democratic opponent, Steny Hoyer. When Lollar brought up the fact that the Democrats hadn’t put together a budget and called it “irresponsible,” Hoyer reportedly vowed to the Republican upstart, “I’m coming after you.”

In a district that Hoyer has generally won handily, the fact that he agreed to debate at all speaks volumes. But giving the well-spoken challenger Lollar — a black conservative, by the way — that sort of forum could backfire, and Hoyer may have allowed the Marine reservist to enlist in a fight he can win.

MASSACHUSETTS

Key Race: U.S. House

Robert Snider reporting:

To Lord Acton’s famous observation that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, must be added the corollary that power robs the powerful of objectivity and the ability to evaluate one’s own actions. That is what has happened to Barney Frank. If Barney Frank fails to recognize that fact, he will be released soon into the hallowed halls of arrogant, self-righteous academia.

After the election is over and we know the winner, we will review the results, town by town, and infer from voting patterns which groups voted for Barney Frank and which voted for Sean Bielat. I suspect that we will look back at the events of last week and discover that the election had been determined then.

Frank and Bielat engaged in a series of joint appearances and debates on radio and television. There were no obvious gaffes seized upon by the media that served to wound a candidate, nor were there any memorable phrases or slogans that defined each candidate’s character. Sean Bielat clearly impressed the media and the public with his intelligence and substance. Bielat stayed on message. Well educated, Bielat’s answers are straightforward and to the point. He does not slide around questions with a torrent of words that are intended to disguise the fact that he does not want to be pinned down. On the other hand, Frank emphasized his narcissism and his contempt for Bielat and the voters by his constant complaints that he was being interrupted when he was not. Indeed, that was the point most cited by  callers to talk radio immediately following the events. Frank does not have a sense of how his attitude affects people and how that reinforces the public’s complaint that Congress does not listen to the voters.

Frank was off message. It is the economy and the “economy” is jobs, incredible spending that has vastly bloated the deficit, and taxes. Frank cannot argue ObamaCare, jobs, or spending. Frank’s focus is on the complex, 2,300-page “financial reform bill,” as if the great fear that keeps taxpayers awake at night is an assault by Goldman Sachs bond traders. When Frank was asked about his position on the stimulus bill and the need for a second stimulus bill, Frank responded that he supports both. He argued that the stimulus was good for the economy and the only problem was poor public relations, i.e., that the Obama administration “overpromised” an unemployment rate of 8% or less.

Frank admits that Congress made a mistake when it imposed an expensive, time-consuming burden on business to file billions of 1099 forms, but that does not counter the charge that Democrats and Frank do not appreciate the time and expense that government regulation places on business. Further, the public holds the sensible idea that legislation is supposed to be well thought out and carefully considered before it is passed, not afterwards.

When asked about his position on the Tea Party, Frank answered in the negative. That shows he does not recognize that about 70% of the American people view the Tea Party positively and that a candidate’s position on the Tea Party is shorthand for whether or not a candidate is serious about curbing federal power and spending.

Frank touts his experience in Congress and his chairmanship of the (always described as “powerful”) House Financial Services Committee as prime reasons that the voters should re-elect him. However, at this point Frank’s “experience” is a burden. The voters should have noticed that the two recent scandals that have become known about Frank both involve financial institutions. First, Frank changed a law so that the mismanaged OneUnited Bank could qualify for a $12,000,000 federal loan. Frank dismissed the fact that the husband of Rep. Maxine Waters had a substantial investment in OneUnited and that Maxine Waters had asked for Frank’s help. Frank rejected assertions that Rep. Waters benefited personally from Frank’s targeted, legislative help with the excuse that he was helping a minority owned institution. Second, Frank and his significant other enjoyed a vacation in St. Thomas with Donald Sussman, a hedge fund operator and fiance of another Democratic congresswoman, Chellie Pingree of Maine, last winter. That Mr. Sussman has a private jet that flew Frank and his friend to St. Thomas attests to Mr. Sussman’s success. That Mr.Sussman’s success may have needed help is established by the fact that Mr. Sussman’s hedge fund benefited from a multi-million dollar infusion from the government in which Frank is a powerful actor. Frank’s excuse — that he received approval from the House Ethics Committee to accept such an expensive gift because both Pingree and Frank are House members and members may accept gifts from other members — does not pass the smell test because Sussman had the plane, not Pingree.

When the voters think about the transaction and the short time between the trip and the federal action that benefited Sussman’s financial firm, they will know the two actions were not coincidental.

The theme that ties together all of Frank’s positions and the two financial scandals is Frank’s belief that he is brilliant and that the rest of us are gullible. The election will determine who is right.

NEVADA

Key Race: U.S. Senate

John Ransom reporting:

Harry Reid left last week’s internationally televised debate between himself and Sharron Angle looking exhausted and lonely. As Angle mixed with the studio audience afterwards, Reid emerged from the back door of the PBS station, which hosted the debate, just minutes after going off the air, surrounded by no well-wishers. The U.S. Senate majority leader from Nevada hopped into an SUV; and he then drove away with Capitol Hill police. While most mainstream media painted the debate as a draw, from the perspective of one of only 40 people allowed in the live in-studio audience, Reid seemed both tired and trite throughout the debate. Angle, on the other hand, while nervous, came across genuine and a little feisty. Angle took Reid to task for helping create a mess in the Social Security trust fund. In one of the most memorable moments of the debate, Angle turned to Reid and said: “Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand we have a problem with Social Security.”

For the second time in two weeks, the polling outfit Rasmussen issued poll results showing Angle hitting the 50 percent mark amongst likely voters. The survey of 750 voters conducted over the weekend shows Angle up three percentage points over Reid. A similar survey of voters conducted October 5 showed Angle at 50 percent with a four-point lead. “The trend in polling is more important than the size of the gap at this point,” says GOP political consultant Scott Howard. “And the trend right now is with Angle at this point in the race.”

Angle flexed her muscle in fundraising as well. Although much has been made of the record $14 million haul Angle took in this quarter, more importantly Angle was even with Reid in cash on hand at the end of the quarter. With still a month to go, Angle will probably have more money than Reid has to devote to get-out-the-vote efforts and last-minute ad blitzes.

Angle unveiled a new ad aimed at directly questioning the ethics of the Democrat U.S. senator from Nevada. The ad attacks $1.1 million in profits Reid made from a land sale on land that he no longer owns. It follows a line of attack Angle started in the debate.

“You came from Searchlight to the Senate with very little,” Angle said during the PBS debate to an audience watching around the world. “Now you’re one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate. And on behalf of Nevada taxpayers, I’d like to know — we’d like to know — how did you become so wealthy on a government payroll?”

Although he may have to get used to the loneliness, given the shape of the race today, Harry Reid might just have some time to get past the exhaustion right around November 3.

NEW YORK

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House

Sam Foster reporting:

Democrat Maurice Hinchey got a bit punchy with the press over the weekend.  That is to say he physically assaulted a reporter from the Daily Freeman with finger jabs and a chokehold after being pressed about his unethical use of federal grants for personal gain.  Earlier, Hinchey had told the same reporter to “shut up.” Hinchey is denying the allegations but the Daily Freeman isn’t backing down.  As if seeking a new low in derangement, that same night Hinchey gave his theory on how George W. Bush let Osama Bin Laden escape in order to start the Iraq war. Jacobson notes the unmistakable sound of crickets chirping at the NY Times.

George Soros’ front, J Street, is Democrat Scott Murphy’s third largest donor. J Street held a fundraiser for Dan Maffei as well. I missed Stacy when he was in my own backyard, but I didn’t miss his interview with Maffei’s challenger Ann Marie Buerkle.  Matt Doheny is seeking the title of homewrecker in the case of Bill Owens and his marriage to Nancy Pelosi. John Hall is not still having fun; NY-19 voters favor Republican Nan Hayworth by 3 points according to the new Siena poll.

NY press corps water cooler moment with Andrew Cuomo was short lived.  Now they have moved on to Joe Dioguardi.  And meanwhile, your viral New York campaign moment of the year, courtesy of Jimmy McMillan, gubernatorial nominee of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. Have your speakers on when you click that last link.

OHIO

Key Race: U.S. House

Bryan Preston reporting:

Dennis menaced?  A couple of updates ago, I reported on a poll showing that Republican Peter Corrigan was within striking distance of Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Now the Weekly Standard confirms:

The poll (based on a small but respectable 319 person sample, with a margin of error of 5.6 percent, weighted to eliminate gender bias) shows Kucinich ahead of his opponent, Peter Corrigan, by only 4 percent. The profile of undecided voters suggests they may break for Corrigan by about 3-2. And Corrigan’s 4 percent deficit turns into a 4 percent Corrigan lead when voters are given information on Kucinich’s ties to corrupt local Democratic leaders, and on Kucinich’s support for illegal immigration. These are signs that undecided voters could be pushed to go Corrigan’s way. Furthermore, Corrigan is running even with Kucinich among those who’ve already requested their absentee ballot, as early voting has already started in Ohio.

As the Standard notes, Corrigan is on the air with radio and TV and is campaigning aggressively. Frankly, I’ve always been mystified at Kucinich’s political survival.  He’s an odd, little far left radical without a clue how the real world works. It looks like his Quixotic efforts to replace the Department of Defense with a “Department of Peace” and his futile runs at the presidency may be catching up with him.

TEXAS

Key Races: Governor, U.S. House, State House

Bryan Preston reporting:

The Cowboys’ season seems to have ended a few months early, but the Texas Rangers are making a historic run at the MLB playoffs. What does this have to do with politics? Not much, but it is what millions of Texans are thinking about this week.  But in political terms, the voting season is now officially underway. Texas early voting started Monday. In Texas, early voting is done via consolidated polling places, and stretching Election Day across a couple of weeks means the lines tend to be relatively short when you vote, as I did Monday morning. The clerk told me that business has already been brisk. Early voters in Dallas County have shattered previous turnout records.  Early voting also changes the dynamics of the midterm election’s closing days a bit. Early counts should start telling us in general terms what the governor’s race and many other races are looking like within the week. With the voting machine situation in Houston still precarious, and the Democrats and their MSM allies already working the refs there to create more chaos, and the Gadsden flag sparking a little controversy, state officials have been emphasizing the importance of getting out to vote before Election Day, to alleviate Harris County’s work load on Election Day itself.

Over the past week, a slew of articles hit the streets touting the Texas model of economics and job creation. If you’re Gov. Perry or any other Republican, the articles, which appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, National Review Online, and FoxNews.com, served to back up the view that conservative governance has been key to Texas’ solid weathering of the recession. The IBD and FoxNews articles focused on the Texas job creation record as compared with California’s, showing the two large states going in completely opposite economic directions much like the Cowboys and Rangers, resulting in Texas creating about 80% of the jobs nationwide over the past couple of years, and California bleeding both jobs and residents. Both are heading to Texas, making it the fastest growing state in America.

The articles left me wondering just how much a voter would have to hate the Lone Star State to vote for anyone who would usher in big-spending, high-tax Democratic policies here. It’s not hard to see why the unions and trial lawyers would support Democrats. That party is their ticket to fortune and power. But for everyone else? It’s clear that Democratic policies in other states have pushed them to the edge of bankruptcy, yet California is flirting with sending liberal Jerry Brown back to the governor’s mansion and New York’s Andrew Cuomo is cruising to election without any real questioning from the media. Here in Texas, Gov. Perry’s open disdain for the media probably cost him the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News, a paper that has repeatedly endorsed him over the years. But even that loss for the governor may turn out to be a victory.

Look, this is how bad things are for Democrats in Texas: The man Bill White defeated in the Democratic gov primary, Farouk “Is on Fiyah” Shami, endorsed Perry this week. The chairman of the Williamson County Democratic Party resigned Tuesday and endorsed the GOP candidate, Larry Gonzales, for state House, District 52. That seat is currently occupied by a liberal Democrat.  In his resignation, Chairman Windham had this to say:

It is quite apparent that many members of the Williamson County Democratic Party leadership are interested in following a more liberal national agenda than listening to the majority of their constituents here locally. As a fifth-generation Texan and longtime supporter of Conservative, Texas principles, I find myself isolated within the party ranks and unable to relay my message of fiscal responsibility, family values, free-markets, and fair play.

The divisive, rigid leadership with the State and local party have made it clear from the beginning of this term that they have no interest in my opinions; engaging in personal name calling, the marginalization of the Chair’s voice, and claiming my Texas ideals are out of touch.

I have a hatred of tyranny and contempt for its tools and being that I cannot sit down quietly and allow my mind be used for the spreading of an agenda that will further divide our citizenry, I choose now to resign as Chairman.

That’s gonna leave a mark. Williamson isn’t some podunk county out in the sticks. It’s directly north of Austin, and home to Dell Computers’ international headquarters.  It’s one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and has been for several years.

In what can only be taken as another sign of deep Democrat desperation, there’s also word that leftist radical Mike Stark is prowling around Texas looking for dirt on Republicans.  He only needs to check the nearest mirror to find the dirtiest dirt there is.  Exit question: Did Matt Angle or Steve Mostyn bring that operative to Texas? Exit answer: Probably.

VIRGINIA

Key Race: U.S. House, VA-5

Mary Beth Niemeyer reporting:

I hereby invite you to share in my personal email from the vice president of the United States, who had this to say to me, his very good friend, “Supporter”: “Tom Perriello has been a great partner in the fight to create jobs here in America and give every one of our citizens a fair shot at the American dream.”  Oh. Is that what we’re calling “yes” votes on health care, cap and trade, and the stimulus now?

Challenger Robert Hurt, with no such poll-poison voting record to avoid directly mentioning, has embraced the ancient technique of helpfully suggesting some dollar amounts to potential benefactors: “…(M)ake a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or even $2,400.”  That’s … something of an ambitious price level ladder, is it not?  How exactly did we get from “Really Nice Anniversary Dinner, With Tip and Maybe Even Valet Parking” to “One Used 1991 Honda CRX”?  Lesson learned:  When you need reality, call Joe Biden.