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Minnesota

We don't need budget advice from Tim Pawlenty

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 08:11:41 AM CDT

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was in Iowa this weekend to headline an event organized by Iowans for Tax Relief. The crowd cheered the future presidential candidate after Pawlenty blasted the Obama administration and proposed one bad idea after another.

Pawlenty's "economic bill of rights" includes requiring Congress to balance the budget every year. Freezing or reducing federal spending every time revenue drops is great if you like turning recessions into depressions, but basic economic facts won't stop Pawlenty from pandering to the "Party of Hoover" set. I wonder whether Pawlenty's proposed balanced budget amendment still includes "exceptions for war, natural disasters and other emergencies."

Pawlenty also wants line-item veto powers for the president. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that unconstitutional at the federal level, and it's unlikely Congress would ever approve a constitutional amendment on this matter.

In addition, Pawlenty favors extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Those tax cuts didn't prevent the most severe economic recession since World War II, but they did manage to massively increase our national debt and deficit while delivering most of the benefits to the top few percent of the population.

But wait, there's more to Pawlenty's wish list: "He also called for requiring a supermajority of Congress to raise taxes or the debt ceiling." Unfortunately, that would exacerbate our budget problems. When the Pew Center on the States examined state fiscal problems last year, a common feature of the states deemed "most like California" was a supermajority requirement for tax increases or budget decisions.

By the way, Iowa received higher overall marks than Minnesota in that Pew Center on the States report, which looked at six indicators to determine each state's fiscal health.

Speaking to the Iowans for Tax Relief crowd, Pawlenty bragged about getting Minnesota out of the top 10 states for taxes but glossed over other aspects of his record as governor. Iowa Republicans have hammered Democrats for supposedly "overspending," even though our state leaders have kept our budget balanced without depleting our state's reserve accounts. What would they say if they knew about Pawlenty's record?

During Pawlenty's first year as governor, the state drew down its reserves and relied too heavily on one-time revenue to address its budget problem.  As a result, the state lost its Aaa bond rating from Moody's Investors Service; the state has yet to regain its Aaa rating from Moody's.

The 2009 report of the bi-partisan Minnesota Budget Trends Study Commission has recommended that the state build up its budget reserves and cash flow account in response to an increasingly unstable revenue outlook.  All members of the Commission, including the five appointed by Governor Pawlenty, endorsed this recommendation.

Pawlenty and state legislators couldn't agree on an approach to balance the Minnesota budget. As a result, last year "Minnesota's [projected] budget gap was the largest in the nation on a per capita basis." Pawlenty can bash President Obama, but his state desperately needed the roughly $2.6 billion it received through the federal stimulus bill to help cover the shortfall. Even with the stimulus money, Minnesota was still billions of dollars short. So, in addition to some spending cuts, Pawlenty proposed "a bond issue that would be paid for by existing and forecast revenues from the tobacco settlement-a one-time fix disliked by some because it aimed to use long-term borrowing to pay for current state operations."

To be clear: Pawlenty wanted the state of Minnesota to borrow money to pay its bills. In contrast, Iowa's state borrowing program (I-JOBS) is funding capital investments in infrastructure. Last summer, Iowans for Tax Relief in effect ran the Republican campaign for a special election in Iowa House district 90. During that campaign, the Republican candidate made false and misleading claims about Iowa's state budget and borrowing. How ironic that the Iowans for Tax Relief crowd gave a standing ovation to a panderer with a much worse record of fiscal management.

Not only did Pawlenty want Minnesota to borrow money to pay its bills, he also decided that underfunding local governments and forcing them to draw down their own reserves was a good way to control spending for the 2010-2011 budget period. Yes, Pawlenty decided in 2009 that cutting aid to local governments by hundreds of millions of dollars was a good way to balance the state budget:

"Many [cities], if not all, have reserve funds, or rainy day funds, and they should use them," Pawlenty said.

He also talked of the option cities have of raising property taxes to make up for any LGA [local government aid] cuts.

One of the Republican talking points against Iowa Governor Chet Culver is that his midyear budget cuts supposedly forced local governments to raise property taxes. Yet Pawlenty gets a free pass from his Iowa Republican friends. Culver's across-the-board budget cut last October wasn't popular, but it did keep state government from overspending. In contrast, late last year Minnesota's cash flow was so poor that state officials considered short-term borrowing to meet budget obligations.

"It's a bad sign," said former state Finance Commissioner Peggy Ingison, now chief financial officer with Minneapolis public schools. "It signals you didn't have good fiscal discipline."

Minnesota has muddled through without borrowing money to pay bills so far, but prospects for later this year are dicey:

State budget officials updated lawmakers [April 12] on Minnesota's precarious cash-flow situation. They all but ruled out short-term borrowing for the 2010 budget year that ends June 30.

Budget director Jim Schowalter says "deep cash problems" loom for the 2011 fiscal year. Barring law changes, spending cuts and upticks in revenue, he says the state might have to take out short-term loans to meet its obligations.

The Minnesota Budget Bites blog takes a more detailed look at the state's "troublesome" picture for fiscal year 2011. BulliedPulpit posted a good rebuttal of "TPawnomics" at MN Progressive Project.

The last thing our country needs is budget advice from Tim Pawlenty.  

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

American Future Fund wants FEC to overturn robocall bans

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 10, 2009 at 16:00:36 PM CST

Interesting story from the Des Moines Register's Iowa Politics Insider blog:

The American Future Fund Political Action has asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory opinion about whether federal law preempts laws like that in Minnesota.

In that state, a live operator must initiate the recorded call with the consent of the person receiving the call.

The political action committee, which raises and contributes money for political campaigns, is based in Virginia, but its advocacy arm, American Future Fund, is run out of Des Moines.

Des Moines lawyer Nick Ryan, chairman of American Future Fund's board, said such restrictions interfere with federal campaign finance laws, which cover the activities of federal candidates, national party organizations and political action committees.

Ryan argued that the issue his group is raising is about fairness. For example, it is more expensive to conduct a telephone campaign that requires hiring staff, an obstacle to candidates with small warchests, Ryan said.

For background on the American Future Fund, read this Daily Kos diary by Mrs Panstreppon and this article by Jason Hancock for the Iowa Independent.

This FEC request suggests that the group plans to continue to be involved in upcoming elections in Minnesota, perhaps including the 2010 governor's race or Congressional elections. Iowa doesn't have any restrictions on political robocalls. The American Future Fund has run television ads in Minnesota this fall and ran ads supporting Republican Senator Norm Coleman last year. In fact, Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party filed an FEC complaint against the group:

"The American Future Fund is a shadowy nonprofit organization," the complaint said. "It purports to be exempt from tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code. But its notion of 'promoting the social welfare' is to send valentines to electorally troubled Republican Senate candidates. The Commission should take immediate steps to enforce the law and expose this group's secret financing to light of day."

Here in Iowa, the American Future Fund seems to be backing Terry Branstad for governor. Tim Albrecht was that group's communications director before taking a job with the Branstad campaign. Nicole Schlinger, former president of the American Future Fund, is now handling fundraising for the Branstad campaign.

A member of the Des Moines business community tells me that Ryan has been making fundraising calls for Branstad's campaign. I don't know if he's doing that on his own time or as part of his work for the American Future Fund. Ryan has worked for Bruce Rastetter, one of the Iowa business leaders deeply involved in recruiting Branstad to run for governor again.

UPDATE: The Minnesota Attorney General's Office will submit comments to the FEC defending that state's law.

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Congratulations, Senator Al Franken

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 18:54:49 PM CDT

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reports that Franken will headline Senator Tom Harkin's steak fry on September 13.

The 2008 elections finally ended today. Norm Coleman conceded the U.S. race in Minnesota following a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling in Al Franken's favor.

Talking Points Memo posted their Top 10 moments from the mostly infuriating, sometimes comical Franken-Coleman saga.

We can laugh at Coleman's pretzel logic during the legal proceedings, but unfortunately, his gamesmanship deprived Minnesota of full representation in the Senate for half a year. In all likelihood Franken will be stuck with less-than-stellar committee assignments. Also, the delay did lasting damage to Franken's seniority. Had he been sworn in on time, he would have outranked several fellow Senate Democrats, which could become important one or two terms down the road.

Nevertheless, I have high hopes for Senator Franken and look forward to his work in Washington.

P.S.- I still don't understand why so many Minnesotans voted for Dean Barkley.

P.P.S.- Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat idiot.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Sore loser Coleman has done lasting harm to Minnesota

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 06:08:40 AM CDT

For at least the last three months, Norm Coleman has had no realistic hope of winning Minnesota's U.S. Senate election, but that hasn't stopped him from fighting the inevitable in court. It's obvious that Coleman's legal maneuvering has no goal other than to keep Al Franken out of the Senate for as long as possible.

That has collateral benefits for Republicans on a national scale, making it harder for Senate Democrats to win 60 votes to break a filibuster. Barack Obama may have been able to get his economic stimulus bill through the Senate with fewer concessions if he had needed only two Republicans to sign on (instead of three).

Unfortunately for our neighbors to the north, Coleman's obstruction has done significant and lasting harm to Minnesota. John Deeth explains why in this great post about seniority rules in the U.S. Senate. Had Franken been sworn in with the rest of the class elected last November, he would now rank 94th in seniority, but instead he's going to rank 100th (click the link for the full explanation, which is worth your time).

Making matters worse for Minnesota: all six of the senators Franken should outrank, but doesn't, are fellow Democrats.

How much this matters in the long run depends on the longevity of the six senators who leapfrogged over Franken. [...]

Michael Bennet and Kirsten Gillibrand will probably face primaries, too, but after a first electoral test they, and Merkley and Begich, could last awhile (particularly Gillibrand, who at 42 is the youngest Senator). Franken, at age 57, could be around long enough that those lost months of seniority will make a difference between him and let's say Gillibrand getting a chairmanship sometime around 2018.

If you want to make Republicans pay for Coleman's sore-loserdom, support the campaign Senate Guru wrote about over the weekend: "A Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away."  

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Thank heaven for paper ballots

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 12:05:07 PM CST

The recount to determine the winner of Minnesota's Senate race has been going on for six weeks, with a court challenge likely if Al Franken, who leads narrowly, is declared the winner. (WineRev's diaries tell you everything you need to know about what's going on in that race.)

Imagine how much more contentious this process would be if Minnesota did not use paper ballots in every county. Less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the vote separates Franken from Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. If touchscreen voting machines had been involved in any way, large numbers of people would surely believe the election had been rigged in favor of whoever came out ahead.

Mark Halvorson of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota published this piece on what has worked well during the Minnesota recount, and how the system could still be improved.

Iowa had more state legislative races decided by less than 1 percent of the vote this year than in any other election I can remember. Fortunately, the state legislature heeded Secretary of State Mike Mauro's call to require optical scanner machines with paper ballots in every county, and Governor Chet Culver signed that bill into law this spring. Otherwise the legitimacy of these extremely close races could have been questioned.

If you run into Mauro, thank him for his efforts to improve Iowa's voting system, and encourage him to ask the legislature to take the next step toward "verified voting" (mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records). That would allay fears about malfunctions or tampering with the optical scanners as they count the votes.

As this map at VerifiedVoting.org shows, Minnesota is one of 18 states that has mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records. Iowa is one of 13 states that require paper ballots, but without mandatory audits to make sure the scanners are producing accurate counts.

Keep your eye on the Iowa Voters blog for updates on election integrity news and activism in Iowa.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Same-day voter registration works well

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 14:37:14 PM CST

Secretary of State Mike Mauro announced last Friday that a record 1,546,453 Iowans voted in the general election, including 47,553 who registered to vote on election day. In the days before Iowa allowed same-day voter registration, many people did not vote because by the time they became interested in a political campaign, the deadline to register had passed.

Republicans across the country throw around allegations about voter fraud, but states that have had same-day registration for a long time have not experienced this problem.

Take Minnesota, for instance. About one one-hundredth of a percent of the vote separates Al Franken and Norm Coleman in the U.S. Senate race. And yet:

[I]t's worth noting that neither the Al Franken nor Norm Coleman camps has accused election officials of allowing significant numbers of ineligible people to vote. The two campaigns' close scrutiny of events on Nov. 4 apparently has found nothing notably defective in either the voter registration or sign-in that occurred at the polls.

That's the way it has been in every election since Minnesota began allowing voters to register at the polls in 1973. Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky said that, in his 24 years as a state and county elections administrator, the number of cases of orchestrated group efforts to subvert the law by registering improperly or voting multiple times has been "exactly zero."

"There has been the occasional individual" who attempted to vote when or where he or she was not eligible. "But we have their driver's license or their Social Security numbers," or other means of detecting inaccurate registrations. "We find them and we prosecute them," he said.

Only nine states allow voters to register on election day. I'd like to see same-day voter registration implemented across the country.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Update on U.S. House and Senate races

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 12:00:00 PM CST

Yesterday runoff elections were held in Louisiana's second and fourth Congressional districts.

In the biggest Congressional upset of the year, Democratic incumbent "Dollar Bill" Jefferson lost to Republican Joseph Cao in LA-02. You may remember Jefferson as the guy who kept $90,000 in cash in his freezer and used the National Guard to visit his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I'm normally a yellow-dog Democrat, but Jefferson is one Democrat I'm happy to see go.

No need to worry about winning back this seat in 2010, as David from Swing State Project explains:

So LA-02 is D+28 (old PVI). There is no district that is as red as this one is blue - UT-03 tops out at R+26. This reminds me of IL-05 in 1994 (1990s PVI: D+11) - corrupt Dan Rostenkowski got beaten by the unknown Michael Flanagan, who got soundly thumped by Rod Blagojevich two years later.

Remember, there are only nine other Republicans in Congress representing House districts with any kind of Democratic lean, and the most Democratic of those districts is D+6.5. Assuming Louisiana Democrats come up with a credible candidate in 2010, LA-02 should be an easy pickup.

The result in LA-04 yesterday was more disappointing. Democrat Paul Carmouche appears to be just 350 votes (less than 0.5 percent) behind Republican John Fleming. Carmouche is not conceding yet, but I doubt there are enough outstanding provisional and absentee ballots to put him over the top here. On the other hand, keeping it this close represents a kind of moral victory for Democrats, since John McCain carried LA-04 by 19 points on November 4. A Democrat "should" not even be competitive in a district like this.

Within the past week Democratic candidates conceded in California's fourth and forty-fourth districts, which were both unexpectedly close despite having strong Republican partisan voting index numbers.

Provisional ballots are still being counted in Ohio's fifteenth district. It looks like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance at beating Republican incumbent Steve Stivers, because the 26,000 provisional ballots are in her stronghold (see this post by brownsox for more details). Am I the only one who finds it suspicious that so many voters had to fill out provisional ballots? That's almost 10 percent of all the voters in the district on November 4.

UPDATE: Kilroy has won OH-15 by about 2,000 votes. Her margin of victory is large enough not to trigger an automatic recount. Assuming the recount in LA-04 does not change last night's result, the next Congress will have 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans. I'll take it!

Moving to the Senate races, the Minnesota contest is sure to end up in the courts and perhaps resolved by the U.S. Senate. The state canvassing board has delayed its meeting to review thousands of challenged ballots until December 16, because one precinct that favored Al Franken appears to have lost about 130 ballots that were counted on election night. If the ballots are not found, he could lose several dozen votes, which could make the difference in this ridiculously close race. It's still unclear whether absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors will be counted in Minnesota.

Click here to find a bunch of recent (and more detailed) accounts of what's going on in Minnesota. Whoever ends up getting seated in the Senate is going to be viewed as illegitimate by many on the other side. I still can't believe more than 400,000 Minnesotans voted for independent candidate Dean Barkley.

The presidential election results created a few Senate vacancies. The governor of Delaware appointed Ted Kaufman, a former chief of staff to Joe Biden, to take Biden's place. The consensus seems to be that Biden set this up to leave the path clear for his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, to run in 2010 when there is a special election to determine who will serve out Joe Biden's term (which ends in 2014). The younger Biden cannot serve in the Senate now because he has been deployed in Iraq.

In New York, Caroline Kennedy (the daughter of President John F. Kennedy) has become the surprise favorite to be appointed to take Hillary Clinton's place. It strikes me as an odd choice in a state with many capable Democrats in the U.S. House. Nothing against Kennedy, who seems very smart and principled, but I think Governor David Paterson should pick someone with more relevant political experience for this job. More speculation on the New York Senate seat is here. As in Delaware, there will be a special election in 2010 to determine who will serve out Clinton's term (which ends in 2012).

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich still has not announced his choice to replace Barack Obama in the Senate. Many people still expect Tammy Duckworth to have the inside track, especially since Obama is going with retired General Eric Shinseki for Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. On the other hand, Fox News says Illinois Senate President Emil Jones will be picked to serve out Obama's term (which ends in 2010). Jones is considered a "safe" choice because he is both black and an "elder statesman" placeholder. If he is the pick, expect a very competitive Democratic Senate primary in Illinois in 2010.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Georgia runoff leaves no chance of 60-seat majority

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 20:33:46 PM CST

We're destined to find out whether the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate can break the record number of filibusters they set in 2007 and 2008.

Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss dramatically improved on his November 4 showing to win the runoff Senate election in Georgia by at least 10 points. The result doomed Democratic hopes of a 60-seat majority in the upper chamber.

It's disappointing but not too surprising. Chambliss would have won outright on November 4 if not for Georgia's unusual state law requiring the winner to receive 50 percent of the vote. Furthermore, Chambliss would have received 50 percent if not for extremely high black turnout with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, which benefited Democratic Senate candidate Jim Martin. Also, a Libertarian candidate won enough votes from Georgia conservatives last month to keep Chambliss from winning a majority.

I appreciate the tremendous campaign that Martin ran, which made a race out of what was supposed to be a Kansas or Oklahoma-style romp for the incumbent in this very red state. Unfortunately for Martin, turnout was light today, especially among black voters any Georgia Democrat needs to have a chance of winning a statewide election.

Democrats still have a chance to gain a 59th seat in the Senate, depending on what happens this month in Minnesota. The state canvassing board will consider thousands of challenged ballots, and the margin between Al Franken and Norm Coleman appears to be very slim. The outcome may depend on whether more than 1,000 absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors are counted. Many observers expect this contest to end up in court. It's also possible that the U.S. Senate could get involved, as it did following an extremely close and disputed Senate race in New Hampshire in 1974.

Don't despair, Democrats: we still have a decent number of Senate pickup opportunities in 2010. Just today, Florida Republican Mel Martinez announced that he does not plan to run for re-election.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

What does a challenged ballot look like?

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:04:04 PM CST

In December the Minnesota State Canvassing Board will review hundreds of challenged ballots to see whether voter intent can be discerned. Their rulings could determine the outcome of the Minnesota Senate race, where fewer than 200 votes separate Al Franken and Norm Coleman. Many votes remain to be recounted before the canvassing board meets.

Minnesota Public Radio has posted photos of 11 ballots that have been challenged for different reasons. Click the link to view these ballots and vote on whether they should be accepted or rejected, and if accepted, for whom the vote should count.

Of the 11 ballots, I would only put one in the reject pile. Another was questionable, in my opinion. The other nine clearly showed a voter preference for Coleman, Franken or independent candidate Dean Barkley.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Update on Congressional races still to be decided

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 21:07:08 PM CST

As you've no doubt heard by now, Mark Begich took the lead as the early votes were counted, and seven-times-indicted Ted Stevens has conceded the Alaska Senate race. That makes seven Democratic pickups, with Georgia and Minnesota yet to be determined. The Democrats hold 56 Senate seats, and two independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders) also caucus with Democrats.

The polls in Georgia have shown Republican Saxby Chambliss ahead of Jim Martin by three or four points. It's all going to come down to turnout--I doubt much voter persuasion will occur between now and December 2. Barack Obama moved his field staff from Ohio down to Georgia, and many other groups, like Democracy for America, are helping Martin too. The state's largest newspaper has endorsed Martin.

Chambliss has to be favored in this red state, but if the Democrats have a superior GOTV effort, Martin could pull off an upset.

The Minnesota recount has begun. Al Franken went into it 215 votes behind Norm Coleman (out of more than 2.5 million cast, or 0.008 percent). As of Wednesday evening, he had narrowed the gap to 181 votes. The state has a good "voter intent" law, meaning that if a person can determine the voter's intent, the vote will count even if an optical scanner did not record it.

I can't say I feel overly confident, but this study suggests Franken may have a good chance of taking the lead during the recount.

One wrinkle is that Franken successfully sued to get information about voters whose absentee ballots were rejected in one county. His campaign wants that information for all of the counties so that wrongfully excluded absentee ballots can be counted. However, it's not clear whether those votes will ever be counted, even if the ballots were rejected because of clerical error.

As for the House races, we narrowly lost in CA-44, a district we did not target that was not considered competitive.

CA-04 has still not been called, but Democrat Charlie Brown trails carpet-bagger Tom McClintock by about 600 votes, and it seems unlikely he will be able to make up that margin.

It looks like we will pick up VA-05, which was viewed as quite a longshot before the election.

Louisiana will hold two runoff elections in December. Corrupt Democrat "Dollar Bill" Jefferson will most likely hold the second district. The fourth district is competitive, and Dick Cheney recently headed to Shreveport to campaign for the Republican.

UPDATE: I forgot Ohio's 15th district, which is going to count provisional ballots. It seems like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance of beating Republican Steve Stivers.

Democrats will end up with something between 255 and 259 House seats out of 438. Not bad at all.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Update on U.S. Senate seats still up for grabs

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 22:31:47 PM CST

The Democrat challenging seven-time convicted felon Ted Stevens has taken a lead in the Alaska Senate race. OK, it's only a three-vote lead among some 250,000 votes counted so far, but if I'm Mark Begich, I'll take it. (UPDATE: Begich now leads by 814 votes out of some 263,000 counted.)

There are lots more early votes to be counted in the coming days, and no one seems to know exactly where they will come from. However, speculation in this thread at Swing State Project indicates that Democrats have reason to be optimistic about picking up the Senate seat from Alaska. That would bring the Democratic caucus to 58 (counting independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who votes with Democrats).

The Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman will go to a recount and may not be decided before the middle of December. According to the latest count, Coleman leads by 206 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Nate Silver examines Franken's prospects from several different angles, and concludes:

The more that I examine this data, the more I'm beginning to believe that the number of reclassifiable ballots may be relatively low, but that the proportion of such ballots that are resolved in Franken's favor may be relatively high. How these two factors will ultimately reconcile themselves, I don't know.

The runoff Senate election in Georgia between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin will take place on December 2. There have not been any public polls yet in this race since the general election. A lot of Barack Obama's field staff have reportedly moved to Georgia to work this race for Martin. The Republican playbook is to link Martin to Democratic leaders in Congress. Will that be enough for Chambliss in this red state?

At Swing State Project, Crisitunity published this overview of likely candidates to replace Joe Biden as U.S. Senator from Delaware. Biden's son Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, is ineligible because of his current deployment. The most likely options are either Lieutenant Governor Jack Carney, or a seat-warmer who would let Beau Biden run for the seat in 2010, after his deployment has ended.

Speculation about Barack Obama's replacement continues, with the first Illinois poll on the topic showing Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. as the most popular choice.

Six U.S. House races are still uncalled: Alaska's at-large seat, California's fourth district, California's 44th district, Ohio's 15th district, Louisiana's second district, and Louisiana's fourth district. The first four are Republican-held seats where the Republican candidate leads. LA-04 and LA-02 will hold runoff elections in December. Probably our best chance to pick up another seat is in OH-15.

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Time to get serious about expanding the field

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 09:14:18 AM CDT

cross-posted around the blogosphere

Americans appear ready to sweep a lot of Democrats into office on November 4. Not only does Barack Obama maintain a solid lead in the popular vote and electoral vote estimates, several Senate races that appeared safe Republican holds a few months ago are now considered tossups.

Polling is harder to come by in House races, but here too there is scattered evidence of a coming Democratic tsunami. Having already lost three special Congressional elections in red districts this year, House Republicans are now scrambling to defend many entrenched incumbents.

In this diary, I hope to convince you of three things:

1. Some Republicans who never saw it coming are going to be out of a job in two weeks.

On a related note,

2. Even the smartest experts cannot always predict which seats offer the best pickup opportunities.

For that reason,

3. Activists should put resources behind many under-funded challengers now, instead of going all in for a handful of Democratic candidates.

Much more is after the jump.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 1395 words in story)
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