The Battle for America 2010: Red October

NEVADA

Key Race: U.S. Senate

John Ransom reporting:

Sharron Angle’s up-and-down campaign to retire Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada followed form again this week. While a Fox News poll shows Angle up 3-percentage points, the news cycle over the weekend was dominated by the surreptitious taping of an ill-advised meeting between Angle and a third-party candidate for U.S. Senate.

Scott Ashjian, U.S. Senate nominee from the self-styled Tea Party of Nevada, said he never intended to go public with the tape of the meeting, although he immediately released a copy to liberal Las Vegas journalist Jon Ralston. There is no love lost between Ralston and the Angle campaign. Recently the two sides snarled at each other after Ralston alleged that the Angle camp had reneged on a pledge to allow Ralston to host a debate between Reid and Angle.

On the tape of the meeting, called ostensibly to discuss Ashjian’s withdrawal from the race, Angle takes exception to GOP leadership, who she says "lost their principles," according to the LVRJ.  "Really that's why the machine in the Republican Party is fighting against me. They have never really gone along with lower taxes and less government."

None of the tape is damning, but it’s another example of Angle having to explain what she meant rather than project her own message.

Subsequently, the chair of the Tea Party of Nevada (TPN), who helped arrange the meeting between Angle and Ashjian, resigned from his position in the TPN and endorsed Angle.

Republican boosters in Nevada aren’t shocked at Angle’s comments about the GOP; most Republicans would agree with her assessment of the party. Instead, they take exception to the amateur management that allowed Angle to attend the meeting with Ashjian in the first place. Ashjian is a marginal candidate, polling around one percent. As reported by Ben Smith in Politico, conservative Las Vegas talk show host Alan Stock marveled on air that the brain trust ensured with the task of retiring Harry Reid and getting Angle elected could make such a fundamental mistake.

Privately, GOP insiders and observers in Nevada have long been complaining about the poor quality of Angle’s campaign staff. One even joked recently that they have been trying to get Angle and the rest of the campaign to take time off until November 3 in order to ensure her victory on November 2.

NEW YORK

Key Race: Governor, U.S. Senate

Sam Foster reporting:

I’ll give you a hint; it wasn’t NY Post reporter Fred Dicker’s wife who uttered “I’ll take you out” last week.

In what has been hailed “a priceless show of tough guy talk,” Paladino channeled a bit of Norman Adler in a verbal brawl with reporter Fred Dicker (Norman Adler became famous for assaulting the very same Fred Dicker in 1987).  The scuffle began when Paladino accused Dicker of sending a photographer to snap pics of his ten-year-old daughter from her bedroom window. Only moments prior to the shouting match, Paladino announced some questionable allegations indicting opponent Andrew Cuomo for having his own sexual paramours. In my humble opinion, Joy Behar got worse.

There has been some debate on how all this affects Paladino’s election prospects. The usual suspects with the loudest voices are certain that it’ll help Cuomo. However, the beloved former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani was probably at least as brash in handling some of his own constituents. Regardless, Paladino is looking to recapitalize with what has made him so popular amongst conservative voters: reforming Albany.

Outside of bare-knuckle brawling there is also an election going on. The last Marist poll showed Carl Paladino gaining steam against Democrat Andrew Cuomo compared to previous Marist polling. The race is proving to be a close one in upstate New York and NYC suburbs, but NYC is swinging heavily for Cuomo.

The race between Joe DioGuardi and Reid’s favorite hottie, Kirsten Gillibrand, for U.S. Senate also remains in play. It may be a long-shot, but this is what it will take for DioGuardi to win and it is possible. Republicans have a good chance of retaking the state Senate, which might prove critical in defending Republican districts from future redistricting.  Republican polling is showing Democrat incumbent Scott Murphy in a toss-up race against challenger Chris Gibson in NY-20 and Orleans’ cybersquatting lawsuit against Republican Nan Hayworth’s Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour is getting noticed by the national press.

OHIO

Key Race: U.S. House, District 10

Bryan Preston reporting:

I'm not in Ohio, but a bird from there is whispering to me that Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich is vulnerable. His Republican challenger, Peter Corrigan, is polling within striking distance now. These factors seem to be key to Kucinich's trouble:

Turnout -- May 4th, Sept 7th, and early absentee balloting suggests as many as 30,000 less Dem voters. Voter apathy is peak, especially due to the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal and the continuing failure of the Obama programs.

Kucinich on the health care vote -- his ride on Air Force One is widely seen as a "sell out." Many Dems are dropping off or switching right. Kucinich once held the high ground as a "fighter" but not any longer.

Add in that Peter Corrigan is an impressive candidate, the Corrigan name resonates among the Irish and Catholics in the district -- plus the fact that you can't toss a stick around there without hitting a member of the Corrigan clan -- and you have the makings of an upset.

TEXAS

Key Races: Governor, U.S. House

Bryan Preston reporting:

Sarah Palin was in Houston Tuesday night.  Is a Texas endorsement in the wings?

The big news out of Texas this week is in the money race: Gov. Rick Perry, the Republican incumbent seeking his third full term, has a nearly 4 to 1 money advantage over Democratic challenger Bill White going into the home stretch.  Perry also is widening his lead in the polls, up to 14 points according to the latest from Belo.  White has never led in the polls but did have the cash lead early in the race. He squandered millions on ad campaigns well before Labor Day that didn’t move the polls one way or the other.  The Democrat Governors Association is riding in to the rescue with a reported $2 million to spend on ads attacking Perry, but there’s a catch: They’re not donating that money to White, the DGA is going to spend it directly.  That’s a poorly veiled shot at how White is running his campaign.  There's still about $1 million in trial lawyer money on the table (remember the Shadow PartyThey're deploying yet another one-man PAC to save Democrat hides.  The mainstream media's incuriosity about what Steve Mostyn wants for all he's spending continues to not shock me at all) that may become available to White, but barring a game changer, Perry is locking in for the win over "the most mysterious liberal in the world."

Elsewhere around the state, I'm hearing that Dr. Donna Campbell is catching up on her Democrat rival in central Texas' CD-25, Rep. Lloyd Doggett. For his part, Doggett is out with a video ad that touts him "working for Texas."  That's better, if less accurate, than what he's become best known for: Running from Texans.

There’s a big move afoot in another Congressional district currently held by a Democrat.  CD-30’s Republican challenger, Stephen Broden, got a major boost when the Dallas Morning News endorsed him over Democratic incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.  This Dallas-area district has long been a lost cause for the Republicans, but Broden has proven himself to be an effective candidate with deep roots in the district, and the DMN’s own reporting exposed Johnson’s scholarship nepotism and corruption.  Rumor of the week: The News got their info on Johnson from another Dallas Democrat who wants her seat.  This source is looking to move up the ranks, but Johnson is in the way.  Ambition creates deadly and unexpected enemies.

Republican challenger Bill Flores has a commanding lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards in CD-17, so much so that Edwards is preemptively blaming his future defeat on his vote for the stimulus bill.  Why not?  Apparently the DCCC has given him up for dead.  Republican Quico Canseco remains narrowly out in front in CD-23, so the Democrats are launching a salvo of negative ads at him (he's running a phone bank to counter the attack).  Meanwhile, those rumors I've been hearing about CD-29 are showing up in the polls: Republican challenger Roy Morales is ahead of Democrat Rep. Gene Green by three.

So sit back and consider: Texas may elect three conservative Hispanic congressmen and one conservative black congressman in 2010.  They're all Republicans, and their victories would be happening literally north, south, east and west -- all over Texas.  What began as the Democrats' year of the Great White Hope may be turning into a full-blown Republican rout.

VIRGINIA

Key Race: U.S. House

Mary Beth Niemeyer reporting:

Good people of VA-5, fear not. If you were afraid that incumbent Tom Perriello just had nothing left to give, you were wrong.  Last week, he invited supporters to a fundraiser with John Grisham-- tickets starting at $250 and topping at $2400. TOM PERRIELLO:  Supporting crappy airport lawyer thriller authors since 2008.

Challenger Robert Hurt, meanwhile, rolled out first a fish fry, then a BBQ.  Because when you’re running for Congress, make sure to template the fundraising after your local Knights of Columbus and Boy Scout troop. Next week:  Robert Hurt sells popcorn outside a Wal-Mart.