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Sunday, January 29, 2006
Sheehan v. Feinstein?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:47 pm

Via the AP: Cindy Sheehan Considering Senate Run

Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who set up camp near President Bush’s Texas ranch last summer, said Saturday she is considering running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein to protest what she called the California lawmaker’s support for the war in Iraq.

I suspect that Feinstein would win that contest…

Indeed, methinks that someone is perhaps paying a bit too much attention to one’s press, epecially the stuff in anti-war publications…

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here linked with Cindy Sheehan's Losing It
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Arnold on the Rebound?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:09 pm

Via the SacBee: Schwarzenegger approval rating recovering

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is showing signs of recovery after tumbling late last year, according to a poll released Thursday.

The new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found Schwarzenegger’s job approval among likely voters climbed from 38 percent in October to 45 percent in January.

Better, but still not where one wants to be heading into an election year.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Elections Set for New Orleans
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

After an initial indefinite delay, a date has been set for elections in NO (via the AP): Governor Sets April 22 New Orleans Vote

Under pressure from a federal judge, Gov. Kathleen Blanco set an April 22 date for New Orleans’ elections, which were postponed after Hurricane Katrina scattered the city’s residents and destroyed hundreds of voting precincts.

Elections for mayor, City Council, sheriff and tax assessors will be held on that date.

The Legislature and the U.S. Justice Department still need to sign off on Louisiana’s emergency election plan, which includes beefed-up absentee balloting and the creation of “mega-polling” sites to replace those damaged by the hurricane.

This has to be done. Even given the scope of the disaster, we can’t just have elections shelved until everything is back to normal-especially since it is unclear what now constitutes “normal” for the Big Easy.

Filed under: US Politics, Hurricanes, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
It Just Keeps Getting Worse for DeLay
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:34 am

Via the AP: Earle Probes Possible Cunningham-DeLay Tie.

It is impossible to tell from the story whether this is one of those six-degrees-of-separation kind of deals, or whether there is substance here. Certainly I wouldn’t put it beyond Ronnie Earle to go fishing (and I say that having paid some attention to Earle when I lived in Austin, not because I am one who thinks all of this is simply a partisan witch-hunt).

Still, from a purely political POV, by the time all of this is said and done DeLay is going to have been publicly connected to practically every scandal out there-there have already been suggestions of linkages to Abramoff-so that even such links aren’t established in court, the allegations will take a political toll.

It continues to appear that DeLay’s political career is over, and that the stars are aligning for an electoral ouster for the former Majority Leader.

Filed under: US Politics, Criminal Justice, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Speaking of Abramoff and House Elections…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:11 am

Via the AP: McCloskey Says He’s Running for House

Former seven-term Congressman Paul “Pete” McCloskey said Saturday that he will challenge U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (news, bio, voting record) for the Republican nomination in his northern California district.

The 78-year-old McCloskey, a maverick known for environmental causes, told The Associated Press he felt compelled to get back into politics because of his concern for the environment and what he sees as a shift in Washington away from traditional Republican values.

He also was prompted by what he described as Pombo’s close ties to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a growing corruption scandal.

I note this because there is little doubt many moves will be made, rhetorical and real, because of the Abramoff scandal. Still, this doesn’t look like a serious challenge to the incumbent, as the last time McCloskey was in Congress was 1983 (he served from 1967 to 1983).

Further, Pombo has won seven terms himself, and won 61% in his district in 2004.

I suspect that his seat is safem, based on the facts at hand.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
The “Scandal Theme”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:03 am

Nothing especially new here, but I wanted to note the story (based on Reid’s statement in the Weekly Democratic radio address) as it dovetails with some of my comments here yesterday.

Via Reuters: Democrats assail Republicans on ethics

The scandal theme is likely to play a role in the run-up to the November congressional elections. Abramoff entered guilty pleas in a wide-ranging bribery investigation that has prompted calls by both parties for reform.

The scandal has implicated at least one member of Congress, Republican Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio, and some former aides to Rep. Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican who stepped down as majority leader.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Hardly a Surprise (2006 Election Strategy)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:10 am

Via WaPo: Rove Offers Republicans A Battle Plan For Elections

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove offered a biting preview of the 2006 midterm elections yesterday, drawing sharp distinctions with the Democrats over the campaign against terrorism, tax cuts and judicial philosophy, and describing the opposition party as backward-looking and bereft of ideas.

“At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security,” Rove said. “Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn’t make them unpatriotic — not at all. But it does make them wrong — deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong.”

This is hardly a surprise and is a combination of issues that the GOP has prominently featured in the last two electoral cycles. Given how those turned out, one wouldn’t expect them to be shelved.

Plus, despite the fact that polling on Iraq is not favorable to the President, Republicans in general still have an advantage over Democrats on the security issue.

Further, and more damning for the Democrats, is that they do not have a cogent set of alternative policy ideas, especially in the area of security, with which to combat the Republicans. I have been vexed for years by the general inability of the Democratic party (or at least some segment or leader therein) to put forth a true alternative to Bush and the Republicans that goes beyond simply critiquing the party in power.

The Democrats will try to run this year on corruption, and I concur it is an issue with traction. However, there seems to be this general hope that the corruption issue alone will win the day. That is a misunderstanding of the lessons of 1994, an election the Democrats would like to emulate in terms of the fortunes of the minority party at that time.

At the moment the Abramoff scandal is esoteric in nature, involves (granted, not in equal proportions) both parties, and hasn’t come to full maturity as yet. Are there other scandals that can be labeled “Republican” and used as campaign fodder? Certainly, but at the moment I am not certain a critical mass exists that would give the necessary weapons that would allow Democrats to dislodge entrenched Republicans in safe seats.

Further, the sitting President was in more public opinion trouble in 1994 than Bush currently is. On election day 1994 the VNS exit polls had Clinton at 34% approval. Mason/Dixon had him at 34% in June (source).

Also, the Democrats cannot rely on the fact, as the Republicans did in 1994, that there is a large number of districts that are ripe for party-switching.

If Democrats want to re-take the House, they are going to have to do more than hope that GOP scandals and the Iraq war will translate into an easy win.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The “Scandal Theme” linked with [...] statement in the Weekly Democratic radio address) as it dovetails with some of my comments here yesterday. Via Reuters: Democrats assail Republicans on ethics The scandal theme is likely to play a ro [...]
Sunday, January 15, 2006
DeLay: Home District Trouble
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:59 am

Via the AP: Poll: DeLay Losing Support in Own District

In polling conducted Tuesday through Thursday, 22 percent of respondents said they would vote for DeLay, 30 percent chose Lampson and 11 percent favored Republican-turned-independent former congressman Steve Stockman.


In the latest poll, only half of those who supported DeLay in 2004 said they would vote for him again.

The poll, conducted by Rice University and the University of Houston, has a margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The usualy caveats apply: lots of undecideds/”other” (the Reuters version of the story notes: “38 percent did not answer or said they would support none of the candidates.”), and it is early yet.

Still, this comports with, and reinforces, my overall assessment of the situation.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Stupid Lawyer Tricks
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:51 pm

Via the AP: Error on Texas Governor Hopeful’s Form OK

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s misspelled name on a campaign form won’t affect her gubernatorial bid, the secretary of state’s office said Thursday.

Strayhorn’s lawyer said he spelled her name without the ‘y’ twice on her declaration of intent to run for governor, filed Jan. 2. State officials reviewed the error after discovering it Wednesday but concluded the form was valid.

Funny. I wonder what the guy gets per hour?

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Hoisted on his own Redistricting Plan
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:24 am

As I have made reference to in passing before, DeLay’s home district has been diluted in terms of likely Republican voters, hence diminishing his re-election chances in the current circumstances. Indeed, DeLay’s own participation in the redistricting process, especially as it pertains to his own district, may end up being an act of political hubris that costs him his seat. It makes me think of a variation on the famous line from Euripides: those whom the gods destroy, they first make proud.

Along those lines, from the NYT: Texas Redistricting Is One More Hurdle for DeLay:

The redistricting led to the loss of six Democratic seats in Texas in 2004, but it also shifted thousands of Democratic voters to strong Republican districts. Among those, Mr. DeLay’s 22nd District added several Democratic-leaning parts of Galveston County; several political analysts estimate they may have raised the district’s Democratic vote around 5 percent.


Running in the reconfigured district for the first time in 2004, Mr. DeLay won handily, but with a smaller margin than in previous elections: 55 percent compared with his Democratic opponent’s 41 percent.

And that was before DeLay was in serious trouble and without the opponent being a former member of Congress who represented the portions of the current district that were added from Galveston County.

I will go ahead and say it: DeLay is toast.

Certainly, the current numbers don’t look good for him:

In a poll for The Houston Chronicle last March, for instance, 40 percent of the respondents in Mr. DeLay’s district said their opinion of him had dropped in the previous year. And a USA Today/Gallup poll in early December showed Mr. DeLay with a favorability rating of just 37 percent, and had him losing to an unnamed Democratic opponent 49 percent to 36 percent.

Since I don’t think we have yet hit the apogee of his legal and political woes, I think that these numbers aren’t likely to improve much as we approach November.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » DeLay: Home District Trouble linked with [...] deds/”other”, and it is early yet. Still, this comports with, and reinforces, my overall assessment of the situation. Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections [...]
Sunday, January 8, 2006
Influence and the Hill (and Hey Look: DeLay)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:28 am

More hanky-panky linked to DeLay (via the LAT): A Donor Who Had Big Allies

In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions.

Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.

The investigation was ultimately dropped.

This is pretty sleazy:

When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency’s confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz.

Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz’s lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government’s ability to pursue the banker.

The piece links the actions not only to DeLay and his associates in Congress, but notes similarities to the Abramoff investigation:

In key aspects, the Hurwitz case follows the pattern of the Abramoff scandal: members of Congress using their offices to do favors for a politically well-connected individual who, in turn, supplies them with campaign funds. Although Washington politicians frequently try to help important constituents and contributors, it is unusual for members of Congress to take direct steps to stymie an ongoing investigation by an agency such as the FDIC.


In the Abramoff scandal, members of Congress allegedly did favors for the politically connected lobbyist’s clients — including Indian casinos — and received campaign contributions and lavish free entertainment. Last week, the lobbyist pleaded guilty in separate cases in Miami and Washington in a deal that government investigators hope will lead to more prosecutions. Others involved have also made deals to cooperate, and Washington is braced for new criminal charges to come.

Between the Abramoff plea and the investigation into DeLay, I suspect that there will be other such schemes uncovered.

While I continue to maintain that these ethics issues have not reached sufficient critical mass to nationalize the Congressional elections this year, they will be a powerful tool for the Democrats to use in seeking to retake the Congress.

And, of course, it continues to reveal the ongoing, and depressing, fact that those in power far too frequently abuse it.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Wishful Analysis
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:46 pm

E. J. Dionne, Jr. engages in some wishful analysis in his WaPo column today (For Bush, a Test in the Midterms).

While I would agree that the fortunes of the Bush administration will affect the 2006 mid-terms, I do not as yet see the potential for a dramatic change in the make-up of Congress this year as Dionne does. I especially think that prognostications about for this year will be like 58, 66, or 78 are well off-base.

I think Dionne makes two key errors in his column.

First, he is projecting his own frustrations with the administration onto the electorate. This is always a bad idea for an analyst.

Second, he is nationalizing the congressional elections. November ‘06 is far less about Karl Rove than it is about 435 House seats and one-third of the Senate’s seats.

Given that only a handful of the seats in question are truly competitive, one has to really think about what the odds are that the Democrats can pick up 15 (I think that’s the number) seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. If one looks dispassionately at the races, it should strike one that a dramatic change is unlikely at this time. (More on that as the year goes by, no doubt).

Are there issues that Democrats can make hay over? Surely. Tom DeLay being one. Also, Harriet Miers, the Katrina response, and so forth. However, the latter two in that list will already be fading memories by the time the campaign season hits full stride (certainly the raw emotion is already gone from most of the electorate on those topics).

What about the surveillance question? As I have made clear, I am not happy with the administration’s handling of that issue. Still, I do not see it, as the facts currently stand, as being a political loss for the President, or the Republicans, because the President will frame the issue as one of protecting the US against terrorists. That’s a political winner whether the Democrats like it or not.

Iraq could be a positive, negative or neutral for either side by November 2006, because, quite frankly, we don’t know what will happen there between now and then.

The Republicans continue to have better numbers of the general issue of terrorism, which will help them in November.

And, the economy redounds to the GOP’s benefit at the moment.

As such, to argue that we are about to have a dramatic shift this election is wishful thinking.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (8) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Florida Masochist linked with 1994
More on the Texas Governor’s Race
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:20 am

Here’s some more info to go with my post on the Texas governor’s race from earlier today:

The latest numbers from the SurveyUSA - 50 State Gov Approval 1205 By State show Perry’s approval rating is 46%.

That number would signal some weakness on his part, given that he is the incumbent, and that Texas is a heavily Republican state. The December number is also an improvement over the last several polls.

Here’re all the numbers available for 2005:

November: 42%
September: 43%
July: 38%
May: 38%.

While I do think that he goes into November as the favorite, he is vulnerable. And given the weakness of the Democratic party, Strayhorn has an outside shot as an independent.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Down Texas Way…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:27 am

Via the Houston Chronicle: Strayhorn enters governor’s race as independent

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn ended speculation today by announcing she will run for governor against Gov. Rick Perry as an independent.


To get on the ballot as an independent, Strayhorn will need to collect the signatures of 45,450 registered voters who cast ballots in neither party primary or runoff. The signatures will have to be collected between March 8 and May 11.

Interesting. I keep half an eye on Texas politics, but not having been in the thick it of it for almost eight years, it is hard to have a feel for things. Clearly if Strayhorn thought she could best Perry in the primary, she would have gone that route, so this may well be a desperation play. However, given the state of the Democratic Party of Texas at the gubernatorial level, this may have been a shrewd move.

Here are the numbers (via the Texas SOS):


Perry (R): 57.8%
Mauro (D): 39.96%


Bush (R): 68.23%
Mauro (D): 31.18%

The shift to Republican dominance for the governor’s office started in 1994:

Richard (D): 45.87%
Bush (R): 53.47%

Those numbers aren’t as dramatic as those from 2002 and 1998, but Richards was the incumbent, and at the time Bush was only the second Republican to win the office since Reconstruction (although it should be noted that the first Republican, Bill Clements, did win two non-contiguous terms in 1978 and 1986). Further, there was a massive shift towards the Republican Party at the state level during the 1994-2002 period.

At any rate, if the Democratic candidates are of the same political prowess as Sanchez and Mauro, then Strayhorn (who was once a Democrat) might actually be able to carve out an electoral space in this election. I don’t have enough data to put odds on it, but it would appear to be at least possible.

Looking at the two Democrats listed as the major possible candidates, one gets the feeling that they aren’t heavyweights:

The major candidates in the Democratic primary are Chris Bell of Houston, a former congressman, and Bob Gammage, a former Houston congressman and Texas Supreme Court justice who now lives in Llano.

Neither of those brief bios suggests a powerful base upon which to start a race (although it is quite nice out in Llano).

I find this interesting because, on balance, independent candidacies usually are losers from the the get-go. As such, a candidate such as Strayhorn who might have an outside chance of winning is quite intriguing.

Update: James Joyner comments as well.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway linked with Scott McClellan’s Mom Runs for Texas Governor
PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on the Texas Governor’s Race linked with [...] #8217;s Race By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:20 am Here’s some more info to go with my post on the Texas governor’s race from earlier today: The latest numbers from the SurveyUSA - 5 [...]
Sunday, January 1, 2006
PoliColumn: Alabama Politics Preview, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:50 am

From the Mobile Register:

Election year 2006
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Special to the Register

Today we begin the long journey to the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November: Election Day, 2006.

While campaigns and elections irritate many people, I have to confess that I love elections. There is something magical about the idea that the citizens of a community can come together, and one by one their views are compiled until winners are declared and a new version of the government is constituted.

We take it so for granted, this idea that the people of this country get to choose those who govern — even though the vast preponderance of human history has been a tale of rulers coming to power by the sword or by inheritance.

It is true that the results of elections are often not as magical as we might like them to be. Indeed, sometimes the results disappoint or frustrate us.

But part of the true magic of democracy is that no matter how much one dislikes the president, governor or state legislators, politicians eventually will have to submit themselves to the voters again.

We are ultimately governed by the ballot box — and that is a remarkable achievement in human history.

Plus, in addition to all the philosophical and historical musings, elections are fun because they are full of human drama. And no state in the country is likely to have more drama, at least in the primary season, than Alabama.

As a headline on an Associated Press wire story correctly proclaimed just the other day: “Alabama gubernatorial primary season sure to be a must-see.”

If we look at the cast of characters, we have four principal players: the incumbent governor, Bob Riley; the ousted chief justice of Alabama, Roy Moore; the former governor, Don Siegelman (currently under multiple federal indictments); and the current lieutenant governor, Lucy Baxley.

And, as a side note, George C. Wallace Jr. is going to be running for lieutenant governor, which should allow reflection on the infamous political career of his father.

To be honest, Riley is not Mr. Excitement, but as the sitting governor whose term in office has some interesting story lines (think: Amendment One), his fortunes will be interesting to watch — especially because his task is to fend off Moore.

Baxley, despite long service in state office, is not really all that well known in terms of her views. However, she comes to the Democratic side of the race with a catchy slogan (”I Love Lucy”) and the lucky situation of having her major competitor under the cloud of indictment.

The drama, as we build to the June primaries, will be supplied primarily by Moore and Siegelman.

Moore brings his religious populism to the Republican primary and his hope that between the Ten Commandments and the fact that Riley tried to raise taxes via Amendment One, he can create enough of a schism within the party to win the nomination.

While there is no doubt that Moore has a core of fervent followers, recent polling has indicated that it is not as large as one might have thought.

Further, Moore will have to face the fact that his defiance of a federal court order does not sit well with many religious conservatives (his natural constituency), who may like Ten Commandment monuments but also believe in law and order. This is not 1960s Alabama, where defiance of the federal government translated directly into political popularity.

We have to remember that Moore not only got into trouble with the federal courts, but that his fellow Republican Supreme Court justices defied him and saw to it that the federal order was honored.

Further, Moore was ousted under the administration of a Republican governor and a Republican attorney general.

Meanwhile, Don Siegelman has to find a way to convince the voters that the indictments against him are politically driven and are therefore to be ignored. He is also going to try to resurrect his lottery plan, which failed in spectacular fashion at the polls in 1999.

A main storyline this year will be the economy of the state, which is humming along. A report in the Birmingham News last week noted that the unemployment rate hit 3.6 percent in November.

Also, because the state’s revenues are derived primarily from sales and incomes taxes, a good economy means that both the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund will be in good shape this year.

While there are long-term structural problems with fiscal policy in our state, this is not the year to convince voters of that fact.

As such, Siegelman’s lottery proposal is not going to have legs. Combine that with his legal problems, and one would expect, at least at this point, for Baxley to have the advantage in the Democratic primary.

However, the former governor is an excellent campaigner and no doubt will put up a heck of a fight.

On the GOP side, the incumbent governor is in excellent shape — far better than one might have imagined possible a few years back, when it seemed that his political capital had been irrevocably spent after his support of Amendment One in 2003.

But memories are short in politics. Since then, Bob Riley scored public points with his handling of Katrina relief. And more important than anything, in terms of his re-election bid, is the surging economy.

Add to all of this legislative elections, and the fact that the U.S. House and one-third of the Senate will stand for re-election, and you have a plate full of political intrigue on Alabamians’ table for 2006.

It should be fun indeed.

Filed under: US Politics, My Columns, Alabama Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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