Senate Guru

40 Days Until Sestak-Specter and Halter-Lincoln

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

40 days from today – on May 18 – we will see two HUGE primaries for U.S. Senate.  Even though these races aren’t in Iowa, they impact Democrats across the country and, well, the entire country as a whole.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak will try to upset Republican-for-decades Arlen Specter.

In Arkansas, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter will try to upset corporate lackey Blanche Lincoln.

These two races are tremendously important to defining who and what the Democratic Party is and what we will be fighting for.

If you can volunteer for these candidates (or encourage friends and family in Pennsylvania and Arkansas to do so), that would be amazing.

Of course, if you can help with a contribution to either or both via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page as soon as possible, it will make a big impact.

Expand the Map! ActBlue page
Joe Sestak

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Volunteer Page
Bill Halter

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Expand the Map! ActBlue page

Polling shows that both Specter and Lincoln are at risk of – if not likely to – hand these Senate seats over to far-right-wing Republicans. (And, even if these two retain the seats, that’s not much better on many key issues.)

Congressman Sestak and Lieutenant Governor Halter winning these primaries are critical to keeping these seats in truly Democratic hands. Your support can help make that happen!  Please hop over to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page right away to make a contribution – an investment in the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party to pull out an old expression – and show your support.

Thanks SO much for any support you can provide. 40 Days.

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IA-Sen: Grassley Embarrasses Majority of Iowans; Less Than Half Would Re-Elect

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

New polling by Research 2000 finds that Republican Chuck Grassley is far more vulnerable than the conventional wisdom gives him (dis)credit for.

When asked if Grassley should be re-elected, only 42% said re-elect, while 31% said it was time for someone new, and 27% were not sure.  (Remember, being unsure about an incumbent of twenty-nine years bodes poorly for the incumbent.)  Among independents, only 39% said re-elect.  Not too hot.

The money question of the poll was:

When Senator Chuck Grassley says President Obama and Democrats would QUOTE “pull the plug on grandma” UNQUOTE do you think that does Iowa proud in Congress or embarrasses Iowa?

By more than a 2-to-1 margin (53% to 26%), Iowans responded that Grassley’s comments embarrassed them rather than made them proud.  Among independents, the embarrass-proud ratio was an overwhelming 61-21.  Research 2000 broke down the responses by Congressional district.  Outside of right-wing radical Steve King’s 5th Congressional district (which saw a 30-51 embarrass-proud ratio), every other district was overwhelmingly embarrassed by Grassley’s remarks.  The other four Congressional districts ranged from 53-64% embarrassed while only 19-24% proud.

Very interestingly, while only 35% of respondents favored the Senate version of the health care reform bill, while 56% opposed it, 62% of respondents favored a public option (a 2-to-1 margin over the 31% of respondents that opposed a public option); and, moreover, by more than a 3-to-1 margin, Iowans want Democratic Senator Tom Harkin to fight harder for a public option and would respect him more if he did.

The message from these numbers is clear: Iowans are open to voting for an alternative to Republican Chuck Grassley, would support a public option (and many who opposed health care reform in Iowa simply feel that it didn’t go far enough), and were embarrassed by Grassley’s dishonest kowtowing to the teabaggers with his “pull the plug on grandma” routine.

The Iowa Independent reminds us:

The “pull the plug on grandma” statement, which was part of the death panel meme Pulitzer Prize winning Web site PolitiFact named its “Lie of the Year,” dogged Grassley throughout the last few months of 2009 and was cited by at least one of the three Democrats vying to unseat him as the reason for entering the race.

Grassley’s own numbers must be telling him that his lies could constitute a politically fatal flub given how freaked out he got over the discussion of his comments and how he tripped over himself backpedaling:

By the end of the year, though, Grassley was blaming media reports for his association with the death panels meme. In a letter to a constituent forwarded to The Iowa Independent, Grassley said some “commentators” took his comments and twisted them as saying that health care reform would establish death panels.

“I said no such thing,” Grassley said. “As I said then, putting end-of-life consultations alongside cost containment and government-run health care causes legitimate concern.”

Who was that Democrat who cited Grassley’s comments as a reason for entering the race?  Attorney and Democratic former gubernatorial nominee Roxanne Conlin.  She got into the race in late 2009, so this past quarter’s fundraising report will be the first test of her campaign’s financial viability.  Word is, she’s a fairly prodigious fundraiser.

On top of that, Grassley has handed her the issue and according message frames on which to run.  Notably to me, Conlin has five grandchildren.  In other words, she is a grandma.  I think it would be powerfully resonant for Conlin to put out an ad highlighting Grassley’s “pull the plug on grandma” comments that embarrassed a majority of Iowans and to close the ad (while talking to the camera, surrounded by her five grandchildren) with the line, “I’m Roxanne Conlin, and I approved this message because I’m a grandma and I’m embarrassed that Chuck Grassley is talking about pulling the plug on me.”

Keep a close eye on IA-Sen; I’m expecting a competitive race that will surprise the traditional media.

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IA-Sen: Chuck Grassley Exhibits Symptoms of Frontotemporal Dementia

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

First thing’s first.  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not suggesting that Republican Chuck Grassley has any particular illness.  Simply, I have noticed that Chuck Grassley, over the last many months, has been making increasingly bizarre, aggressive, explicit, and violent remarks – and that such comments coincidentally happen to be early symptoms of dementia, particularly frontotemporal dementia.  It stands out to me because, as a political junkie, I have long considered Grassley to be among the most mild-mannered denizens of the Capitol.  2009 has apparently become the year that the 75-year-old Grassley (he turns 76 next month) has shed his mild-mannered image, perhaps by choice, perhaps not.

In response to the story this Spring about AIG executives receiving exorbitant bonuses after the company was rescued by a massive infusion of public dollars, Grassley said on March 16, 2009:

“I suggest, you know, obviously maybe they ought to be removed, but I would suggest that the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them [is] if they would follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.”

Grassley added, “In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

The comment was rude, racist, and extremely aggressive, even violent.

The next day, still critical of AIG executives, but in an attempt to tone down the violent “suicide” comment from the previous day, Grassley went the more sexually explicit route:

“From my standpoint, it’s irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they’re sucking the tit of the taxpayer,” Grassley explained.

When talking about government spending, “sucking on the teat” is not in and of itself bizarre rhetoric, but that Grassley used the more sexually explicit “tit” instead of “teat.”  In fact, such a nuanced difference might have flown under the radar entirely if not for a sexually explicit comment Grassley made at a budget hearing toward the end of the same month as his earlier comments, on March 26, 2009:

But yesterday he [Grassley] regained his bounce on the Senate floor, livening up an otherwise dull budget hearing with a joke about banging another senator’s wife. His opening came after he pressed Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad to include an amendment of his to a budget resolution by bringing up the fact that Conrad owed him a favor.

“Oh, you are good,” Conrad responded.

To which Grassley replied: “Well, your wife said the same thing.”

Sure, this comment, in a vacuum, could be one Senator good-naturedly ribbing a colleague.  But a joke intimating sex with a colleague’s wife, told, again, at a budget hearing, seems like bizarre behavior.  Further, when you add up these comments, what you have is a pattern of behavior.

Last week, Grassley’s pattern of behavior was reinforced by his take on health care reform:

We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.

In fairness, this one comment has become a sick talking point of many Republicans shilling for corporate interests.  Nevertheless, it particularly stands out for Grassley given that, when he is not flying off the cuff, he is one of the GOP’s key negotiators on health care reform.  He should have had the self-control to avoid such aggressive rhetoric.  But that’s been Grassley’s pattern lately.

So what we have seen from Grassley in 2009 – and this is just in public; no telling what his comments and actions are in private – is a pattern of bizarre, rude, physically aggressive, sexually explicit, and even violent remarks.  Such a pattern even led The Iowa Independent to the headline: “Grassley: Strategic or just eccentric?”  Eccentric may be putting it mildly.

Grassley is not the first Republican Senator in recent years to have his mental health questioned.  During his 2004 re-election bid, the Kentucky media began openly questioning Jim Bunning’s mental health after a similar pattern of bizarre comments and actions.  Also, in 2006-2007, Pete Domenici’s mental health was questioned after a pattern of erratic behavior including reportedly walking around the Capitol in his pajamas.  Subsequently, in late 2007, Domenici revealed that he had a degenerative brain disease and opted against a 2008 re-election bid.  Domenici was 75-years-old at the time of his 2007 diagnosis, the same age Grassley is now.

Now for the coincidental symptoms.  If you hop over to WebMD.com, best friend of the armchair hypochondriac, you can find a page that lists symptoms of dementia.  Such symptoms include “having trouble finding the right words to express thoughts,” “having trouble exercising judgment,” and “having difficulty controlling moods or behaviors” while noting that “agitation or aggression may occur.”  What especially caught my eye was the following passage:

The first symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may be personality changes or unusual behavior. People with this condition may not express any caring for others, or they may say rude things, expose themselves, or make sexually explicit comments.

Agitation or aggression?  Check.  Personality changes or unusual behavior?  Check.  Saying rude things?  Check.  Making sexually explicit comments (again, at a budget hearing!)?  Check.  Lack of inhibition?  Check.

Again, I’m not suggesting that the 75-year-old Chuck Grassley has frontotemporal dementia.  I am, however, noting that Grassley’s pattern of behavior over the last six months coincidentally happens to match the early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia.  With Grassley turning 77-years-old before Election Day 2010, it would not be unfair or unwise for Iowans to get a clean bill of health from Grassley before signing him up for another six-year term (at the end of which he will be 83-years-old).

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IA-Sen: Might Bruce Braley Take On Chuck Grassley?

( - promoted by desmoinesdem)

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

Two Democratic former state legislators, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause, are working on 2010 Senate bids to face Republican deather Chuck “pull the plug on grandma” Grassley.  Despite Grassley’s increasingly Looney Tunes demeanor, he does have just over $3.8 million in the bank as of the end of June.

Still, the Des Moines Register ran the following:

I’m told by mostly reliable sources there is a well-known mystery candidate who’s about 75 percent ready to join the race. The mystery candidate supposedly has name recognition and money.

(continues after the jump)

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Social Networking with the 2009 Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

While 2010 will be chock-full of exciting races at all levels of government.  In 2009, though, there will be two marquee races across the country: the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.  Republicans are favored in both races, but both races should come down to the wire, and Democrats can hold both seats – with your help.

In Virginia, Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds won an impressive, come-from-behind victory for the nomination this past Tuesday, demonstrating a strong ground game.  The Republican nominee will be far-right-winger Bob McDonnell.  The best description for McDonnell’s brand of Republicanism is that he is a Pat Robertson disciple.  You can learn more about McDonnell at TheRealBobMcDonnell.com.  Deeds and McDonnell have tangled before, in the 2005 Virginia Attorney General race, where McDonnell barely edged Deeds by 323 votes (yes, just 323 votes – that’s not a typo with zeroes missing) out of over 1.94 million votes counted.  This race will be exceptionally close, so every single dollar contributed and every single hour spent volunteering will make a real difference.  A bit of good news is that the first poll taken after Tuesday’s primary, by Rasmussen Reports, shows Deeds with a 47-41 lead over McDonnell, but this could just be due to a primary bump.  Rasmussen’s last poll showed McDonnell leading Deeds 45-30.  Your support will help Deeds sustain his new lead.

In New Jersey, Democratic incumbent Governor Jon Corzine will square off against Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.  Christie is very much at home in the Republican Culture of Corruption.  Republican Christie has faced scandals involving no-bid contracts, abuse of the state pension system, pay-to-play, and even allegedly cutting a deal to get his younger brother’s sentence reduced after being implicated for fraudulent trading practices on Wall Street.  Despite Christie’s mountain of scandal, New Jersey’s lagging economy has hurt Governor Corzine’s poll numbers.  Recent polling gives Christie a 7 to 13 point lead over Corzine.  Research 2000, May 25-27: Christie 46, Corzine 39; Rasmussen Reports, June 4: Christie 51, Corzine 38; and, Quinnipiac, June 10: Christie 50, Corzine 40.  In other words, Christie has an edge, but the fundamentals of the race moving forward favor Governor Corzine.  As the economy gradually picks up over the coming months and voters learn more about Christie’s corrupt background, New Jersey’s blue state status will shine through and Governor Corzine should tighten the race back up.  Your support will help Governor Corzine tighten the race up even faster.

Below are the links to how you can connect with the gubernatorial campaigns (and – please – contribute anything you can to these campaigns, and spread the word!).  Republicans are expecting (and expected) to win both of these races.  However, after being upset in the NY-20 special U.S. House election and losing a U.S. Senator to a Party switch, the GOP is reeling.  Losing either (or both!) VA-Gov or/and NJ-Gov would be a major body blow and simply crush Republicans heading into the 2010 calendar year.  If Democrats across the country are able to support these Democratic campaigns, we can flush the conventional wisdom down the toilet and deliver two more embarrassments to the Rush-Newt-Cheney Republican Party and two more losses to the Michael Steele RNC.

Creigh Deeds for
Governor of Virginia
Deeds
Website
Deeds
Facebook
Deeds
Twitter
Deeds
YouTube
Deeds
Blog
Deeds
CONTRIBUTE
Jon Corzine for
Governor of New Jersey
Corzine
Website
Corzine
Facebook
Corzine
Twitter
Corzine
YouTube
Corzine
Blog
Corzine
CONTRIBUTE

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PA-Sen: Netroots Overwhelmingly Support a Draft Sestak Effort

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

As many of you know, over the last five days, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in partnership with a number of progressive organizations and blogs including Senate Guru, asked those in the netroots, “Should a Draft Sestak movement be created to take on Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary?”

Netroots for Sestak The results are in and they are overwhelming.  85% of Pennsylvanian respondents and 86% of respondents nationally want Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak to challenge Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic Senate primary.  The poll has even gotten the attention of Congressman Sestak, as the PCCC points out:

“I am honored that so many of you took the time to vote in the recent grassroots Straw Poll. Let me tell you, I and many others were paying attention. If I decide to run it will be in large measure because of the grassroots energy of so many people like you. Until I and my family make that decision, please accept my thanks and my best wishes as you continue be active participants in our people-powered democracy. Thank you so very much!”

Due to such an overwhelming response, a Draft Sestak Fund has been created on ActBlue.  To contribute and further encourage Congressman Sestak to enter the race, click on the image below:

Draft Sestak Fund

If you need any additional motivation to contribute to this effort to draft a real Democrat to oppose Specter in the primary, consider Specter’s actions since announcing his Party switch:

1) Specter opposed the Obama budget.

2) Specter opposed the “cramdown” mortgage/bankruptcy reform, siding with banks over families.

3) Specter reiterated his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act.

4) Specter reiterated his opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Dawn Johnsen to the Office of Legal Counsel.

5) Specter announced his support for Republican Norm Coleman over Democratic Senator-elect Al Franken in Minnesota’s Senate race.

6) Specter promoted a website that appeared to raise money for cancer research but, in actuality, simply raised money for his campaign.

7) Specter denied reports that he told President Obama that he would be a “loyal Democrat” despite multiple reporters sticking to their story.

The netroots have displayed overwhelming support for Congressman Sestak to take on recently-Republican Arlen Specter.  Help the effort by contributing to the Draft Sestak Fund.

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