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Thursday, July 31, 2008

MN: Franken looks to tie Coleman to Stevens

8:09 PM

Democrat Al Franken is airing a new radio ad saying Republican Norm Coleman is "getting reeled in to the scandal" surrounding recently indicted U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. The ad says Coleman took three fishing trips to Alaska "paid for by Stevens and his friends."

Coleman is donating $20,000 of the $30,000 he's received from Stevens' PAC to charity. His campaign said the remaining $10,000, which came in the 2002 election cycle, has already been spent.

Coleman campaign spokesman Cullen Sheehan: "The campaign will be donating any funds received in this cycle from the Northern Lights PAC to childhood cancer research. The Senator believes firmly in a presumption of innocence. But it is clear our political opponents will attempt to use this issue as a distraction from Al Franken's violation of tax law in at least 18 states, including Minnesota and his violation of New York's Worker's Compensation Laws."

The liberal Talking Points Memo speculates that Coleman's initial hesitance in returning any money may have come because Coleman's chief of staff is married to Stevens' chief of staff.


WI: McCain takes Obama to task on off-shore drilling again

4:10 PM

John McCain launched a salvo of criticisms at Barack Obama during a town hall meeting here today, continuing his drumbeat of attacks over the Democrat's opposition to off-shore drilling.

McCain brought the crowd of nearly 1,000 people that packed the Racine Civic Centre to its feet when he called for off-shore drilling.

"We must begin immediately in drilling off shore so we can get some of the oil that is off our own coast," McCain said to loud applause.

McCain said that while he supports development of alternative and renewable energies, he said America also needs to develop clean coal technologies and expand the use of nuclear power.

Following McCain's event, Racine-area Democratic state legislators took turns criticizing McCain's policies at Obama's nearby office before an animated crowd organizers pegged at about 120.

State Rep. Cory Mason said McCain's energy plan is "something that might work in 10 years," but "we need real leadership now."

He called on McCain to pull a TV ad featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton that charges Obama is more celebrity than substance and questions whether he is prepared to lead. Mason called the ad "desperate" and "dishonorable."
Read the full item


IA: Obama responds to 'Celeb' ad

1:09 PM

During a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids today, Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama responded to John McCain's TV ad that called him a celebrity on par with the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

"I do have to ask my opponent: Is that the best you can come up with?" Obama said. "Is that what is worthy of the American people?"

Obama said McCain's campaign had lapsed into "predictable political attacks [and] demonstrably false statements" instead of dealing with issues like high gas prices.

Obama said McCain's energy plan would help oil companies more than it would help consumers and would continue "the same cycle of dependence on big oil that got us into this crisis."

He touted aspects of his energy plan: direct energy rebates to taxpayers, increased fuel efficiency standards, a crackdown on oil speculators, $150 billion over 10 years to create "a new American energy sector" and an increase in domestic production by pushing oil companies to drill on the 68 million leased acres that are going unused.

Afterwards, Iowa GOP chairman Stewart Iverson called some of Obama's energy plans "absolutely absurd."

"Senator Obama says he wants energy independence but he's criticized every step we've taken to drill offshore, in addition to opposing nuclear power," Iverson said. "We are all behind alternative energy, but something is wrong with the picture if we aren't utilizing all of this oil at our disposal."
Read complete coverage

Read liberal writer John Deeth's live-blog of the event


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

IL: Republican Ozinga dinged on firms' unpaid taxes

3:39 PM

From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Concrete mogul Marty Ozinga's companies racked up $59,000 in unpaid taxes over the last 20 years, according to documents provided to the Sun-Times by political operatives.

The tax liens have been filed against the Republican congressional candidate's companies in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. Some are fines on his trucks that pour concrete in Chicago. ...

Most of Ozinga's late taxes appear to have eventually been paid.
The liberal blog Progress Illinois says it was first on the story with a post on July 9 that said in part "Records obtained by Progress Illinois also show that, between 1990 and 2004, Ozinga Bros. was late on over $45,000 in state taxes in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, leading to legal action against them in each state."

Campaign spokesman Andy Sere told the Sun-Times that "Ozinga Bros. makes its very best efforts to pay every nickel of the tens of millions of dollars in taxes it owes every year. ... Does anyone really believe that a company that gives away several million dollars to charity every year would purposefully evade a $200 tax payment here and there?"


IA: Obama to discuss domestic issues in visit tomorrow

1:27 PM

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is planning to visit Cedar Rapids tomorrow for a town hall meeting on economic security.

Obama originally planned a stop in Cedar Rapids in June, but that trip was postponed due to flooding in Iowa.

An Obama campaign blogger has posted details on picking up free tickets for the Coe College event.

Two days after Obama's stop, McCain surrogate Tim Pawlenty, the Republican governor of neighboring Minnesota is due to be the featured guest as the Republican Party of Iowa opens a county campaign headquarters in Ames.


OH, MI, WI, IA, MN: Prez ad spending at nearly $18 million so far

7:50 AM

A new advertising analysis finds that the presidential campaigns and the Republican National Commitee have spent a combined $17.9 million in TV ads so far in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

Here's how the ad totals break down:
Ohio - $6.399 million
Michigan - $6.009 million
Wisconsin - $3.244 million
Iowa - $1.646 million
Minnesota - $647,000

Twelve of the top 20 local markets for ad spending -- and four of the top five -- are in states covered by The Philadelphia market has seen the most ads at 3,311. But the next four, in order, are Detroit (2,870 ads), Cleveland (2,724), Grand Rapids (2,617) and Cincinnati (2,570).

The Midwest ad spending is part of a total of more than $50 million spent on general election ads so far. The analysis comes from the Wisconsin Advertising Project, using data compiled by TNS Media Intelligence Campaign Media Analysis Group.

See the press release for details


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

IA: Trippi signs on with Dem congressional candidate

11:11 AM

From a press release posted at
Joe Trippi, a nationally-recognized consultant who helped lead the internet revolution in American politics, will be the primary media consultant for the Rob Hubler for Congress campaign, it was announced by the Hubler campaign.

Hubler, Democratic candidate for Congress in Iowa's 5th district, said that Joe Trippi & Associates will advise his campaign on internet strategy and message development in addition to producing broadcast media ads.

"The American people are hungry for change, but more of the same divisive rhetoric and embarrassing headlines by Washington politicians like Steve King is not the answer," said Trippi. "If we want real change, we need grassroots candidates like Rob Hubler who will always put the people's interests first.
Hubler is running against conservative stalwart Steve King, who's trying for his fourth term this year. Iowa's 5th District, which covers the western part of the state, is known as the most conservative district in Iowa. King won re-election in 2006 over Dem Joyce Schulte by a 23 percentage point margin, 59 percent to 36 percent.

Quarterly finance reports filed earlier this month showed King with a substantial cash-on-hand advantage over Hubler as of June 30, $251,544 to $26,523.


OH, MI: DNC to include Midwest in spending $20M for national Latino outreach

10:38 AM

From The Washington Post
Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee are expected to unveil a $20 million investment in Hispanic voter mobilization Tuesday that targets most major battleground states. ... Targets will include Florida; Western states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico; and Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, industrial battlegrounds with sizable Hispanic populations. The money will be spent on niche advertising and other outreach, along with mobilization efforts aimed at identifying, registering and turning out new Democratic voters.
Read the full Washington Post article


OH, MI, WI: AFL-CIO mail campaign aimed at defining Obama for union voters

9:41 AM

From Hotline On Call:
The AFL-CIO begins a ramped-up campaign to define Sen. Barack Obama with union members and their families in battleground states, focusing heavily on working-class, swing union voters in OH, MI, PA and WI. The goal, per union officials, is to dispel the many rumors circulating about Obama via two new mailers, dropped today, that ask and answer still-looming questions about the candidate. The union will send the pieces to 600K swing voters living in the four critical battleground states. ... Union officials tell On Call that the mailers mark the launch of a massive August campaign to clearly define Obama for millions of union voters, and to contrast the Democrat's policies and plans with those of his GOP rival, John McCain.
The blog item also says a TV ad about John McCain's economic priorities remains on the air in six states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Read the full Hotline On Call item

Read a previous MidwestPolitics blog post on AFL-CIO efforts


Monday, July 28, 2008

MI: Walberg, Schauer both over $1M raised for election cycle

10:35 AM

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that Democratic challenger Mark Schauer was leading incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in cash on hand as of July 16. Schauer reported $928K cash on hand compared to $855K for Walberg.

Democrat Sharon Renier, who's facing Schauer in the Aug. 5 primary, reported raising just more than $7,600, ending the period with a cash balance of negative $673 and $5,000 in debt.
Campaign officials for U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said the first-term congressman is closing the fundraising gap with state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

Walberg banked about $1.2 million in the election cycle, with $364,000 raised in the second quarter, according to a statement.

The announcement came as a reply to reports that Schauer posted gains of more than $427,000 in the second quarter in his bid for the congressional seat, bringing his total to more than $1.3 million with more than $928,000 cash on hand.

Walberg had more than $855,000 cash on hand.
Read the full Jackson Citizen Patriot article


MN: Should Franken be funnier?

8:58 AM

The New Republic's Eve Fairbanks thinks so after seeing the Franken response to opponent Norm Coleman's TV ad that poked fun at some of Franken's past writings.
The weird thing in the Minnesota Senate race lately, though, has been Franken's way of defending himself: not by using humor but by turning deadly serious, even dour. If you'd just been dropped into Minneapolis from the deep Amazon, you'd think Coleman was the one with the sense of humor (a nauseatingly corny one, but still) and Franken was the uptight pol who couldn't take a joke. ... I tend to think gimmick/celebrity candidates too often err on the safe side, leading them to inadvertently reject the very rationales for their candidacies.
Read the full TNR blog post

Read newspaper coverage of the two ads:
- Coleman ad addresses Franken's personal issues
- Franken urges 'real debate' in response to ad


Friday, July 25, 2008

ALL: Presidential polling round-up

4:52 PM

Here's a look at presidential race polling released in the past week in states. This week's new polls are from Quinnipiac, Rasmussen Reports and EPIC-MRA. (Numbers and links are courtesy of Click on the state names for polling round-ups from each state.)


No new polls


No new polls


7/14-22: Quinnipiac Obama 46, McCain 42
7/13-15: EPIC-MRA Obama 43, McCain 41


7/22: Rasmussen Obama 52, McCain 39
7/14-22: Quinnipiac Obama 46, McCain 44


7/14-22: Quinnipiac Obama 50, McCain 39


WI: McCain-backing Clinton delegate loses convention seat

4:38 PM

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin's administrative committee voted unanimously this afternoon to strip a Racine County woman of her credentials as a Hillary Clinton delegate for the national convention, despite her pleas to keep her seat.

Following the vote, Debra Bartoshevich said in a phone call with WisPolitics the result was no surprise to her.

"This was all pre-planned, everyone came in with the notion that they weren't going to listen to my argument," she said.

DPW chair Joe Wineke said afterward that the outcome might have been different if Bartoshevich had admitted she'd made a mistake and added that she signed two different forms stating that she would support the party's nominee in the fall election.

"The bottom line is simple," Wineke said. "She has refused to support the nominee of the Democratic Party, and our state adminstrative committee ... felt that the person that should represent the 1st Congressional District for Hillary Clinton should be someone who backs the nominee -- as Hillary Clinton has requested."

The state party filed a formal complaint with the Democratic National Committee after Bartoshevich publicly stated her support earlier this summer for John McCain in this fall's presidential race. The national party then kicked the issue back to the state party for a vote.
Listen to audio from the phone call


OH: McCain stumps in Columbus

12:48 PM

From the Toledo Blade
Barack Obama was greeted by hordes of cheering Germans in Berlin, so John McCain made a point of meeting with area business owners over a lunch of bratwurst at the Schmidt Sausage Haus on the cobblestone streets of Columbus' trendy German Village.

"I'd love to give a speech in Germany, a political speech, a speech that maybe the German people would be interested in, but I'd much prefer to do it as president of the United States, rather than as a candidate for the office of the presidency," Mr. McCain said.

The Arizona senator then pushed his health-care proposals at champion cyclist Lance Armstrong's second national Livestrong Summit on the Ohio State University campus,
The Columbus Dispatch printed excerpts from an interview with McCain where he talked about his view of the surge's success and Obama's position on Iraq.
Q: (Referring to a story that Joe Klein wrote for Time magazine quoting McCain) You've already been buzzed about this today, but I wanted to run it by you again: "Sen. Obama would rather lose the war to win a political campaign." Sen. Obama responded, from Germany presumably, "I was disappointed by that language, we've had our disagreements.... I've never questioned, however, that he wants to make America safer. For him to suggest that somehow I'm less concerned about the safety of my wife and daughter than he is I think was unfortunate."

[McCain:] ... Sen. Obama, in my view, used, believes that this is a political issue. Anyone, any rational observer who observes Iraq knows that the surge has succeeded. It just has. The conditions on the ground are very clear. Sen. Obama refuses to acknowledge that it succeeded.

Sen. Obama went to the left to get the nomination of his party, and he used it very effectively. I called for an increase in the number of troops when it was the least popular thing to do and many people said that because I did that, that my political ambitions were at an end. Sen. Obama said that the surge would not work, has condemned it, and still will not acknowledge that the surge is working.

This is indicative of his view that this is a political issue. It's far more important than gaining nominations or not gaining nominations. It has to do with the security of this nation. And I believe that by his failure to acknowledge the success of the surge -- much less his opposition to it -- shows that he would rather lose a war than a political campaign.


IL, MN: CQ Politics changes ratings in 4 U.S. House races

11:22 AM

CQ Politics has changed its outlook on three Illinois House races and one Minnesota race. One Illinois rating -- the 11th District race between Republican Martin Ozinga and Dem Debbie Halvorson -- changed in favor of the Republican (from "Democrat Favored" to "Lean Democratic"). The remaining two Illinois races and the Minnesota race changed to favor the Democrat.

Here are the races, the ratings changes and a brief excerpt from the CQ Politics explanation for the changes:
* Illinois' 8th (New Rating: Democrat Favored. Previous Rating: Leans Democratic): [Republican Steve] Greenberg hasn't raised the kind of money needed to take on [two-term incumbent Dem Melissa] Bean in a suburban Chicago district that falls in a pricey media market. Bean's district historically has leaned Republican, but the congresswoman turned back a big-spending Republican challenger in 2006.
* Illinois' 11th (New Rating: Leans Democratic. Previous Rating: Democrat Favored): Republican Martin Ozinga III, a concrete company executive, has done a good job playing catch-up against Democratic state Sen. Debbie Halvorson ... CQ Politics still gives Halvorson the edge, but this race will be highly competitive.
* Illinois' 13th (New Rating: Republican Favored. Previous Rating: Safe Republican): Republican Rep. Judy Biggert , who has centrist GOP leanings, has been very politically secure in a mostly Republican-leaning district that includes Naperville, Bolingbrook and other suburbs southwest of Chicago. But she may need to keep an eye on Democratic businessman Scott Harper, who already has raised more money than 2006 Democratic nominee Joseph Shannon
* Minnesota's 2nd (New Rating: Republican Favored. Previous Rating: Safe Republican): Steve Sarvi is an Iraq War veteran and the former mayor of Watertown whose biography and experience make him a strong recruit for Democratic efforts to take over the 2nd District from three-term Rep. John Kline. ... [The DCCC] lists the 2nd District race as one of its 20 "Emerging Races," which means the party is keeping an eye on the race and will get involved if Sarvi meets certain criteria to prove the strength of his campaign. However, weak fundraising for Sarvi and overall demographics give Kline the advantage in holding the district.
See the full CQ Politics item


Thursday, July 24, 2008

WI, MI: RNC offers Obama counter-programming in Berlin, Paris

1:45 PM

While Dem Barack Obama continues to draw media attention for his trip abroad (highlighted today by the audience of 200,000 he drew for a speech in Berlin, Germany), the Republican National Committee is running radio ads in U.S. locales that share names with European cities, including Berlin, Wis. and Paris, Mich.

The national conservative blog Hot Air praises the RNC ad for its message that "Obama voted against funding operations that succeeded in reversing the wave of sectarian violence and put Iraq on the path to stability."

Listen to the RNC ad


MI: $7.2 million so far on presidential TV ads

12:23 PM

From The Michigan Campaign Finance Network
Television advertising for the 2008 presidential general election got a late start by recent Michigan standards but presidential TV ads have become a consistent presence in recent weeks.

John McCain's television campaign began May 28th and spent $3.2 million by July 20th.

Barack Obama's TV campaign began June 20th and spent $2.7 million by July 28th.

In a preview of its likely role supporting McCain for the fall campaign, the Republican National Committee ran statewide ads supporting McCain from July 6-15, spending $963,000 during that period.
See the complete press release

See a chart of spending by media market and a comparison to the 2004 election cycle


MI, MN, WI: Q-Poll shows gains for McCain but Obama still leads

12:06 PM

From a new Quinnipiac University/Wall Street Journal/ WashingtonPost.Com Poll press release:
Arizona Sen. John McCain has inched ahead of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Colorado; come within inches in Minnesota and narrowed the gap in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls of likely voters in these battleground states, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and and released today.

Voters in each state say energy policy is more important than the war in Iraq. And by margins of 22 to 31 percentage points, voters in each state support offshore oil drilling, and by seven to 12-point margins, drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

Sen. McCain has picked up support in almost every group in every state, especially among independent voters and men voters. The Republican now leads Obama among independent voters in Michigan and Minnesota.
Individual state results, samples and margins of error (polls conducted July 14-22):
# Michigan: Obama tops McCain 46 - 42 percent; 1,684 Michigan likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percent;
# Minnesota: Obama ahead 46 - 44 percent; 1,261 Minnesota likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent;
# Wisconsin: Obama leads McCain 50 - 39 percent; 1,094 Wisconsin likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

Read the full poll press release for more on the results


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OH: McCain to appear with Lance Armstrong Thursday

11:50 AM

From the Associated Press
John McCain plans a visit to Ohio Thursday for a town hall meeting on cancer hosted by cycling great Lance Armstrong.

McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will talk about his plan to address cancer and take questions from audience members. ...

Democrat Barack Obama also was invited but declined because of his week-long overseas trip.


IL: DCCC reserves $4 million in airtime in three congressional races

8:37 AM

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $18 million worth of airtime in 20 House races, including $4 million in three Illinois contests.

The Illinois ad reservations come after the state's races were skipped in the first round of DCCC ad buys.

The liberal blog Progress Illinois calls it "great news for the three Democratic candidates in these districts: Rep. Bill Foster, Dan Seals, and Debbie Halvorson" and explains a bit more about what exactly the numbers mean.

Read the full Progress Illinois post


MN: Paul plans Minneapolis shadow convention as St. Paul prepares GOP convention site

8:22 AM

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on maverick Republican Ron Paul's plans for this summer's GOP convention:
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul have ramped up plans for a local counterweight to the GOP's national convention in September.

Not content with a planned rally at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena on Sept. 2, the Paul forces now plan a three-day "Rally for the Republic" that will climax in a 10-hour extravaganza at Target Center in Minneapolis.
The Target Center, home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, seats roughly 18,000 people. ABC News describes the plans for the event:
Paul's shadow convention (speakers include anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, shaggy haired cable personality Tucker Carlson, and Barry Goldwater Jr.,) will be a test of his new group's staying power and organizational mettle. Supporters have been encouraged to exploit state delegate rules to get appointed to, infiltrate and make themselves known at the national convention before decamping for the Target Center.
Meanwhile, preparations in St. Paul are already underway to convert the Xcel Energy Center (home to the NHL's Minnesota Wild) to the focal point of the GOP convention. Protesters are working too -- three protest marches are already scheduled.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MN: CQ Politics downgrades Franken's chances

5:11 PM

From CQ Politics
Just a few months ago, Al Franken had plenty of reasons to smile about his chances of unseating Minnesota’s Republican Sen. Norm Coleman .

Minnesotans oppose the war — and the president — that Coleman supported. Franken was doing his homework: he had entered the race early and was running a strong grass-roots campaign focused on local organizing and smaller-venue events.

And, in early June, he secured the DFL nomination at the state convention on the first ballot.

But costly mistakes in the campaign of former Saturday Night Live writer are now imperiling his chances of winning.

Poll trends in the past several weeks indicate that Coleman has increased his lead over Franken. Although the numbers have fluctuated, four of the last five polls show Coleman ahead of Franken - three by more than nine points. So now, CQ Politics is changing the rating on the race to Leans Republican from No Clear Favorite.
Read the full CQ Politics item


IA: Grassley won't be GOP delegate

12:28 PM

From The Washington Times:
Evangelical Christians in Iowa, dominant in the state's Republican Party, have denied Sen. Charles E. Grassley his request for a place on the state's delegation to this summer's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Mr. Grassley may attend the party's Sept. 1-4 nominating convention in St. Paul, but not as a voting delegate.

With a majority of nine out of 17 members on the Iowa Republican central committee, religious conservatives made Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler chairman of Iowa's 40-member delegation in a vote immediately after their state party convention July 12.

"The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues," the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. "It hurts John McCain's chances to win this state."
Read the complete Washington Times piece

The Republican Party of Iowa's list does include statewide elected officials like Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Auditor David Vaudt, McCain campaign chair David Roederer and congressional candidate state Sen. David Hartsuch.

See the complete list of GOP delegates


MN: Bachmann says Dems standing in the way of $2/gallon gas

12:21 PM

Minnesota Republican U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann toured Alaska as part of a look at potential domestic energy sources. In a commentary piece at National Review Online, she says Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge holds "a treasure trove of energy that will yield a lot with only minimal intrusion" and that Democrats are standing in the way of energy plans that could yield "$2-a-gallon gas."
We have the resources available in areas like ANWR and Colorado to lower oil costs and decrease our dependence on foreign oil. I joined my congressional colleagues traveling 3,500 miles to investigate for ourselves and to prove that if we started drilling today, no harm would be done to the wildlife and natural beauty of our nation.

Congress must provide relief for American families and small businesses now. They must bring energy legislation to the floor and allow us to drill here, drill now, so that we can pay less at the pump.
The national liberal blog Talking Points Memo called Bachmann's idea "another GOP oil-drilling myth."

Meanwhile, Democrat El Tinklenberg, Bachmann's opponent, announced his own transportation plan Monday, pushing for "a plan to put $30 billion in a one-time cash infusion into transportation needs nationwide, paid for by borrowing against future federal highway trust fund dollars and rescinding tax breaks for oil companies."

He also addressed Bachmann's Alaska trip:
"Some in the Congress are flying to the ends of the world to promote drilling for oil that would have a minuscule effect on our energy crisis," he said. "This plan would have an immediate impact on the staggering $78 billion wasted annually in time and fuel as a result of traffic congestion in our cities."
In his look at the race this week, liberal columnist Doug Grow says "Tinklenberg is a lot more confident than national Dems about his chances against Bachmann." But the conservative blog Let Freedom Ring says "It's wise to never underestimate your opponent but Mr. Tinklenberg's numbers simply don't look threatening. At this point, he doesn't have the look of a serious challenger."


Monday, July 21, 2008

MN: Former Edwards staffer joins on with Franken

5:02 PM

Democrat Al Franken's U.S. Senate campaign is getting some help from a former national spokesman for John Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign.

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza says Eric Schultz' move to join "a campaign under siege" gives the Franken camp a boost.
Schultz, who was heavily lobbied by national Democrats to take the job, will have a broad role in the campaign -- overseeing the communications, research and speechwriting arms. ... The additions of Schultz and [campaign manager Stephanie] Shriock should help bring order and discipline to Franken's campaign and Barack Obama's presence at the top of the ticket should also provide a boost to the Democratic ticket.
Jeff Rosenberg of the liberal Minnesota Campaign Report calls the move "the best bit of news I've seen in some time."
In my mind, Schultz has three major tasks ahead of him, none of which have been done properly yet:

1. Institute a "zero-tolerance policy" against Norm Coleman's attacks. All attacks should be cleared up within 24 hours, whether that involves responding directly or getting the subject changed.
2. Re-introduce Al to Minnesotans. The first introduction was mired by irrelevant "scandals" dug up by Coleman to distract us from his own record.
3. Relentlessly turn the conversation to the issues, where Coleman is the most vulnerable.


MI: 7th CD Dems profiled

5:00 PM

Michigan's congressional primary is Aug. 5th and Dems Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier are vying to take on GOP incumbent Rep. Tim Walberg.

The Battle Creek Enquirer profiled the two Dems this weekend.

Renier, who lost to Walberg by 4 percentage points two years ago, says she's running in part to end the war in Iraq. Here's an excerpt from the Enquirer profile:
Renier said no one knows the pain of losing a child like a mother, which influences her opinions on the war in Iraq.

"We've got a stupid-ass war going on in Iraq," she said. "Who do you think wants to get this thing over and done with and be done with the boys and their toys and all the nonsense? It's the mother."

People are starting to forget about the war and the daily dangers men and women in the U.S. armed forces face overseas, Renier said.

"The war started out on page one, and now it's on page four and five," she said. "I think we need to bring (Iraqi) troops here to train them because right now, their troops get to go home at night to their wife and kids. I think they need to sink or swim, but I think we've made a terrible mess of their country."
Schauer, who's been a state legislator since 1997 and a state senator since 2003, focuses on the economy in his profile.
"Our country is in such dire straits and we are represented by someone who is so out of touch with the needs of this district and this state," Schauer said. "When I see Tim Walberg just blindly support this president on trade agreements or being in the pocket of the oil companies or being an obstructionist on solving the health care crisis, standing on the sidelines in the mortgage crisis, I just in good conscience can't sit on the sidelines knowing that I could be doing even more to get results for this district." ... If he's the winner in both August and November, Schauer said his top three priorities in Congress will be, "jobs, jobs, jobs." ...

"I'm going to Washington to be an advocate for my state. I'm going to be a pain in the neck to my leadership because I'm going to demand that Michigan gets its fair share," he said. "I'll work with members of our delegation, Democrats and Republicans. I have a history of working with folks across the aisle... to get things done."
Read the full Renier profile

Read the full Schauer profile


IL: Seals interviewed on RealClearPolitics

2:09 PM

Illinois Democrat Dan Seals, who's challenging Republican Rep. Mark Kirk in the 10th District, spoke recently with the national RealClearPolitics blog while he attended the Netroots Nation convention in Austin, Texas.

In the interview, he discussed the "grassroots approach" he's taking to his rematch campaign with Kirk.
We didn't want to change what was working. What was working was our message, and what was working was the grassroots approach. And we know that was working -- we saw in our primary, going against a well-funded opponent, we still won 81 percent of the vote. That was because of our grassroots effort.
Read the full RCP blog post

Progress Illinois interviewed Seals there as well and has some video clips of Seals during a convention panel discussion


MN: Sen. Coleman, Franken to share stage at FarmFest Aug. 5

1:45 PM

Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken are both due to appear at this year's Farmfest, scheduled for Aug. 5-7 in Redwood County.

The two will appear at a candidate forum set for the morning of Aug. 5

AP calls Farmfest "a must-stop for political candidates trying to court the rural vote."

After the Coleman-Franken event, members of Minnesota's U.S. House delegation and challengers are due to attend an afternoon forum.


Friday, July 18, 2008

OH: McCain planning stop next week during swing state tour

5:43 PM

From USA Today:
As Barack Obama travels abroad, John McCain will visit battleground states.

The presumed Republican presidential nominee is lining up trips next week to Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania to emphasize jobs, energy and health care while Obama is in the Middle East and Europe.


ALL: Friday polling round-up

5:39 PM

Here's a look at presidential race polling released in the past week in states. This week's new polls are all from Rasmussen Reports. (Numbers and links are courtesy of Click on the state names for polling round-ups from each state.)


7/8: Rasmussen: Obama 50, McCain 37


7/10: Rasmussen Obama 48, McCain 38


7/10: Rasmussen Obama 47, McCain 39


7/10: Rasmussen Obama 52, McCain 34


No recent polls


7/8: Rasmussen Obama 50, McCain 39


MI: McCain backs industry-opposed move to let states set mileage standards

5:24 PM

Republican John McCain today backed a fuel efficiency policy that the Detroit Free Press said is "strongly opposed by the domestic auto industry as a job-killing proposal."
McCain made his remarks before an audience of about 500 General Motors employees in Warren.

"It's hard for me to tell states that they can't impose whatever standards they decide to impose," McCain said. "I want to see Rick (Wagoner, GM's CEO) sit down with the governor's and ask them what they need."

Wagoner said after the meeting that the company would prefer a national standard rather than state-by-state standards.

"We think the current CAFE standards are challenging and we'd like to focus on working on them," he said.


WI: 8th CD poll shows leads for McCain, incumbent Dem Kagen

3:19 PM

Republican challenger John Gard trails incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, by 4 points in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District race, according to a poll released today by the Gard campaign.

The difference between the candidates is within the poll’s statistical margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Eleven percent of respondents remain undecided. The Gard campaign in a release this morning describes the race as a "dead heat."

The poll was conducted by Virginia-based firm Public Opinion Strategies. It queried 400 likely voters on July 8 and 9.

The Gard campaign also expects to be aided by the presidential election this fall, with the poll showing that the district favors Republican John McCain over Dem Barack Obama by a 5-point margin. President Bush won the district in both of the last two presidential elections.

See the Gard campaign press release


WI: County Dem HQ hit by anti-Obama vandals

9:08 AM

In the midst of a slow national news week, the western Wisconsin city of Viroqua is getting a tiny taste of the spotlight after a Dem Party building was hit by anti-Barack Obama graffiti "in broad daylight, between 4-5 p.m., at one of the busiest times of day on Main Street."

"Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) knows about it," Karen Dahl, a member of the Vernon County Democratic Party's executive committee, told the local paper. "It didn't take long for this to become nationally known."

Here's an Associated Press description of the damage:
Chief Mark Rahr says someone painted a big red "X'' over an Obama campaign sign and wrote "wrong kind of change" below.

Over the Obama lettering on the front window, someone wrote "McCain" in white paint and "He's a vet" next to it.

Someone also wrote in red paint "Obama is funded by...." and the letters become illegible.
Conservative Wisconsin blogger Christian Schneider questioned whether the vandalism was really carried out by fans of McCain.
McCain can barely get conservatives excited enough to vote for him -- what are the chances of a few being so stoked that they'd trash Obama's headquarters?

Plus, do the profiles of "McCain supporter" and "political vandal" really match? How did they get away so quickly in their battery-powered wheelchairs? Who at the home left them unaccounted for?

Then again, the vandalism supposedly took place in mid-afternoon. Just in time to hit the 4:00 fish fry.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

MN: Republican Day facing big fundraising deficit

4:02 PM

Republican state Sen. Dick Day, who's challenging the party-endorsed Brian Davis in Minnesota's 1st CD Republican primary, reported an underwhelming cash on hand figure of $44,877 for the second quarter after raising just more than $10,000 between April 1 and June 30. Davis reported raising $291,601 for the quarter with cash on hand of $376,718. (See a fundraising round-up.)

Calling the fundraising report "the end of Day's run," Andy Aplikowski of the conservative blog True North had this to say about Day's $10,599 fundraising haul:
Remember how Dick Day said he didn't want to have his fate left in the hands of a 100 people when he dropped out of the 1st District endorsement race? Well, is seems that only about 100 people cared enough to donate to his campaign. (give or take)
Liberal blog Bluestem Prairie had a similar message: "Day's meager fundraising underscores his observation that his bid will be a David v. Goliath challenge, with the state senator cast in the sling-bearer role. It will be a tough row for Day to hoe."


IL: GOP looks to tie state Dems to Rangel

1:58 PM

Days after the New York Times broke a story about U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. paying below-market rent on four city apartments, Illinois Republicans noted ties between Rangel and two Dems running in targeted races. (Rangel has since decided to give up one apartment being used as an office.)

Conservative blogger Team America said Rangel "has given quite a bit to (Dan Seals') campaign and Roll Call reports that he's poised to give a lot more" through a "a joint fundraising entity with 10 highly-touted Democrats who are challenging Republican House incumbents or are running for open seats."

Meanwhile editor Fran Eaton of the conservative Illinois Review writes "Recent Federal Election Commission filings show [Martin] Ozinga's 11th CD Congressional opponent Debbie Halvorson pairing up with Rangel to fund raise in a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment, the same Suite 10U Rangel lists in FEC filings as one of his campaign committees."


IL: GOP candidate Ozinga launches TV ad touting his site ""

8:36 AM

Republican Martin Ozinga, running against Dem Debbie Halvorson to replace retiring Republican Rep. Jerry Weller, has launched the first TV ad of the race.

From The Politico:
The television ad is a biographical spot featuring the candidate talking about "his enthusiasm for work and serving the community." It also highlights his unconventionally-named Web site registered to the campaign at ""

The ad is running on cable television in Will, Kankakee, Grundy and LaSalle Counties. It does not mention about his professional background as president of the Ozinga Bros. concrete company where he made $478,000 last year, according to his federal financial disclosure form.
Read the full Politico item

Another recent item reports that Halvorson is distancing herself from Illinois' unpopular governor, Dem Rod Blagojevich.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ALL: Fundraising round-up for top House races

5:56 PM

Second quarter fundraising reports were due to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. The numbers for the top U.S. House races being watched by are all on the FEC Web site except for Michigan's 7th District. The July quarterly filing requirement is waived for Michigan candidates due to the state's Aug. 5 primary. Michigan candidates' pre-primary reports, due to the FEC July 24, will cover the period from April 1 to July 16.

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Tom Latham (R) $263,274 $832,389
Becky Greenwald (D) $119,366 $81,940

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Melissa Bean (D) $420,858 $1,553,841
Steve Greenberg (R) $232,025 $104,691

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Mark Kirk (R) $889,954 $2,856,960
Dan Seals (D) $577,176 $1,175,621

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Debbie Halvorson (D) $365,560 $916,637
Marty Ozinga (R) $810,308 $669,590

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Tim Walz (D) $432,587 $1,210,917
Dick Day (R) $10,599 $44,877*
Brian Davis (R) $291,601 $376,718**
* = Day campaign also listed $23,000 in debts
** = Davis campaign also listed $143,514 in debts

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Erik Paulsen (R) $620,851 $1,123,805
Ashwin Madia (D) $692,941 $738,149

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Steve Chabot (R) $304,805 $1,311,548
Steve Driehaus (D) $200,398 $631,441

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) $301,462 $393,028*
Victoria Wulsin (D) $309,213 $378,085
* = Schmidt campaign also listed $277,150 in debts

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Steve Stivers (R) $428,923 $879,753
Mary-Jo Kilroy (D) $364,963 $1,163,267*
* = Kilroy campaign also listed $62,465 in debts

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Kirk Schuring (R) $329,525 $348,939
John Boccieri (D) $391,238 $531,015

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Zack Space (D) $322,148 $1,141,980*
Fred Dailey (R) $116,317 $112,437**
* = Space campaign also listed $5,106 in debts
** = Dailey campaign also listed $45,000 in debts

Candidate Money raised Cash on hand
Rep. Steve Kagen (D) $288,959 $926,653*
John Gard (R) $292,531 $649,355
* = Kagen campaign also listed $469,300 in debts


OH: McCain focuses NAACP speech on public education, vouchers

1:34 PM

John McCain focused on public education and school vouchers during his speech today to the national gathering of the NAACP in Cincinnati.

From Fox News:
... the presumptive GOP nominee began his full-throated case for school voucher programs and greater accountability, also returning fire at Obama for accusing him so using "tired rhetoric."

"Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, 'tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice.' All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?," McCain asked. "When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents, some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."

McCain also attacked Obama for opposing the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, a federal voucher program, and committed to expanding similar programs if he wins the White House.

"If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will be part of a serious agenda of education reform," he said to scattered applause.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's political blog said McCain was generally well-received: "McCain was welcomed with a standing ovation from about half the audience of several thousand. He earned frequent applause during the 30-minute speech. And the audience gasped in surprise when he stayed to field questions."

The Toledo Blade reported that McCain "received the strongest responses from the crowd when he broke from his script to take questions from the audience, something Mr. Obama did not do Monday."
He criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to Hurricane Katrina and promised to fix and then fully fund No Child Left Behind education programs that he characterized as "a good start." ... If nothing else, Mr. McCain won respect by making the appearance in front of an organization whose members lean heavily in support of his Democratic opponent.
McCain also had praise for his rival, according to the Plain-Dealer: "Whatever the outcome in November, Senator Obama has achieved a great thing -- for himself and for his country -- and I thank him for it."


WI: Clinton delegate stands by decision to vote for McCain

12:33 PM

Debbie Bartoshevich, a Wisconsin delegate for Hillary Clinton, is promising to be "vocal" if she is stripped of her delegate status for next month's national convention in Denver.

Bartoshevich made the comments during her appearance on the Wisconsin TV show "Up Front with Mike Gousha." On the show she talks about her decision (which she stands by), the reaction to it, why she's "disenfranchised" and what happens next.

In a recent interview with, she acknowledged it was reasonable for the party to expect delegates to support its nominee for president, but she took issue with the nominating process and said it should be reviewed because there are others like her who are not behind Obama.

"If I go to this great convention, Barack Obama has the opportunity to convince me that he should be the nominee. That's why I want to go, to have the opportunity to see him, to hear him," she said. "If he can't convince me in this kind of platform, how's he going to convince millions of Americans to support him?"

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin challenged Bartoshevich's credentials after she announced she would vote for John McCain rather than Barack Obama in the November election (she says she was approached by the McCain campaign "approximately three minutes" after Clinton's concession speech and "never" received any correspondence from the Obama camp). The news, revealed in a newspaper article, was touted by the McCain campaign during the state Democratic convention in June, just as Dems looked to unify after an extended primary fight.

Bartoshevich said she was disappointed by the way the state party has handled the situation, saying she found out about the challenge to her status through media reports.

"The Wisconsin Democrat Party still hasn't even called me to even check on the validity of the [Milwaukee] Journal Sentinel article," she said.

Watch video of the extended interview with Bartoshevich.

Listen to an audio clip from the show


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

IA, MN, OH, WI: Planned Parenthood planning cable ad focusing on McCain

5:16 PM

UPDATE: See video of the ad

Planned Parenthood, a women's advocacy group focused on health issues and maintaining abortion rights, is set on Wednesday to begin airing an ad on cable television in 26 cities, according to Roll Call, a newspaper that covers the U.S. Congress.

Roll Call reported Tuesday morning that Planned Parenthood Action Fund had purchased approximately $22,000 worth of cable television advertising time in 26 cities — most of them in the Midwest.

The ad buy includes cities in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Planned Parenthood declined to comment to Roll Call, but sources told the newspaper that the ad was targeting presumptive Republican presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and his record on women's health issues. The ads are set to air on the Lifetime and Bravo cable networks, which are both popular with female viewers.

McCain is facing Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who is pro-choice, in the general election.

Among the Midwest cities where the ad is running: Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo in Ohio; Quad Cities, Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa, and Des Moines in Iowa; Minneapolis and Duluth in Minnesota; and La Crosse, Milwaukee, and Green Bay in Wisconsin.

-- By David M. Drucker


IA, MI, OH, WI: Obama airs new ad on his bipartisan work securing loose nukes

1:58 PM

Dem Barack Obama's campaign is airing a new television ad in the Midwest and other battleground areas called "America's Leadership." The ad focuses on Obama working in a bipartisan manner to hinder the smuggling of loose nuclear weapons and making America a leader in the world again.

Watch video of the ad

Multiple sources report the ad will be on the air in 18 states, including Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.


OH: Obama addresses personal, institutional responsibility in NAACP speech

9:18 AM

From the prepared text of Barack Obama's Monday night speech to the annual NAACP convention in Cincinnati:
So yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Washington. And yes we have to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But we also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I've been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I'm not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn't matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch -- none of it will make any difference if we don't seize more responsibility in our own lives.

"That's how we'll truly honor those who came before us."
Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates is not impressed with coverage of the speech.
I'll be very interested to see if we get another "Obama Scolds Blacks" headline from media folks. ... I find those headlines depressing. It says a lot more about media, and possibly -- though I'm not sure of this -- the broader country, than it says about Obama's speech.

*Cincinnati Enquirer: Obama: Demand more

*Dayton Daily News: Obama credits civil rights pioneers in NAACP speech


MN: Ventura out, but ally Dean Barkley set to run for U.S. Senate

8:16 AM

Former Minn. Gov. Jesse Venture told a national TV audience Monday night that he's not running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Norm Coleman.

But that's not the end of the story; here's more from
Jesse Ventura may be out of the picture, but the Independence Party still could be a factor in the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota.

Dean Barkley, who was appointed by Gov. Ventura to fill out Paul Wellstone's term in the Senate after Wellstone died in a plane crash in 2002, told MinnPost Monday night that he will file Tuesday to run for Senate in the Independence Party primary.

"I'm not Jesse, but I have the same passion,'' said Barkley, who has been involved in several forms of the Independence Party movement since 1992
Read the full article


Monday, July 14, 2008

MN: Dem Madia slightly bests GOP's Paulsen in 3rd CD fundraising

5:16 PM

DFL 3rd Congressional District candidate Ashwin Madia reported a strong second-quarter fundraising figure of $692,940.

It appears Madia has slightly outraised his Republican opponent, state Rep. Erik Paulsen, who issued a press release last week saying he would report more than $600,000 for the quarter.
Read the full item


IA, OH, MN, WI: Education advocacy group kicks off $5 million ad campaign

1:41 PM

Strong American Schools, which bills itself as a non-partisan public awareness group, began airing an ad today in seven states -- including three states covered by -- that urges more investment in the nation's public schools.

Here's more info from the group's press release:
The new ad campaign, One Nation Left Behind, will be running in 16 markets in seven states including: Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin, with a total expenditure of more than $5 million. Ads are also expected to run later this summer in Minnesota. Actress and children's book author Jamie Lee Curtis provides the voice of the ads that speak to Americans about the ominous state of America's public education system and urges them to become advocates for improving the country's schools. ...

To draw attention to America's sub-par education system, Strong American Schools has launched an advertising campaign, One Nation Left Behind, consisting of television, radio, print and online ads, in crucial states from now until November 2008. The ads will run in the following media markets, with a total expenditure of more than $5 million:
Midwestern markets to be targeted by the ads:

* Ohio: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo
* Iowa: Des Moines and Cedar Rapids
* Wisconsin: Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee
* Ads are also expected to run later this summer in Minnesota.

Read the full Strong American Schools press release


OH: Obama in Cincinnati tonight, McCain Wednesday for NAACP convo

10:42 AM

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are due to address the 99th annual NAACP convention this week in Cincinnati.

Obama's due to address the convention tonight after a downtown fundraiser the campaign termed "small and quick." McCain's due to speak Wednesday.

The six-day convention kicked off Saturday with organizers asking for Cincinnati residents to head downtown to experience the event firsthand.

Convention planning committee chair Roslyn Brock explained the convention theme -- "Power, Justice, Freedom, Vote" -- in a statement on the NAACP Web site.
"As we approach the next century of social justice activism, we remain empowered and committed to a progressive agenda that demands fairness and prosperity for all. The convention's offerings underscore the point that we all must be engaged in that effort and that the NAACP has a place for everyone and every lifestyle."
Cincinnati lawyer Norris Muldrow, who has volunteered to help the NAACP in court, told a local newspaper that the group needs to do more to follow up on its courthouse victories.
"I single-handedly went up against the toughest lawyers in the city and won," said Muldrow, "But that's not important. What is important is that the NAACP has not been very effective in following up on enforcements of the cases won."

Muldrow thinks there should be a workshop at the convention to focus on getting what was won.

"There is still segregation in the schools. This conference needs to focus on our local history and let the younger generation know what was accomplished and help direct them into the future."
* Major convention events will be shown online at
* Check out the convention schedule
* See complete convention coverage from the Cincinnati Enquirer


Friday, July 11, 2008

WI: Underdog McCain looking for help from Reagan Dems

7:06 PM

Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain today declared himself the underdog in Wisconsin and acknowledged he has a lot of work to do in the state with a string of polls showing him trailing Dem opponent U.S. Sen. Barack Obama by double digits. But McCain said voters typically don't start paying attention to the campaign until after Labor Day and likely aren't tuned in now during the middle of their summer vacations.

Speaking with WisPolitics and two other Wisconsin reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus following his appearance in Hudson today, he said his economic message of lower taxes, affordable health care and less government regulation can resonate with conservative Dems who helped Ronald Reagan -- who he called his hero -- carry the state in 1984, the last time a Republican did so.

He also dismissed efforts to link him to the policies of President Bush and predicted Wisconsin voters would see through it after his work on campaign finance reform with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, and other issues.

"They know my record," he said.
Read the full WisPolitics story

Listen to audio of the interview


OH: Obama touts 'green economy' for Midwest

5:31 PM

Visiting Dayton today, Dem Barack Obama pushed for enhanced national fuel efficiency standards and billions in federal money to investigate alternative fuels and said the Midwest could be the hub of a new economy.

"One of the benefits of being in the Midwest is that we should be at the center of the action," Obama said in a brief interview with the Dayton Daily News after his town hall meeting.

According to the a transcript of his prepared remarks, Obama said an energy transition was needed to safeguard the country's future:
"If we stay on our current course, the rapid growth of nations like China and India will rise about one-third by 2030. In that same year, Middle Eastern regimes will be sitting on 83 percent of our global oil reserves. Imagine that -- the very source of energy that fuels nearly all of our transportation, controlled almost entirely by some of the world's most unstable and undemocratic governments.

"This is not the future I want for America. We are not a country that places our fate in the hands of dictators and tyrants -- we are a nation that controls our own destiny. That's who we are. That's who we've always been."
Obama also released a new radio ad in Ohio saying a recent RNC ad is "makin' stuff up" regarding Obama's stance on taxes.


MI, MN, OH, WI: DCCC planning on $7.9 million in ad spending in 7 Midwest races

12:34 PM

The national blog Talking Points Memo has obtained a list of 31 House races that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning on targeting with ad spending this election cycle, including seven races in states.

The item says the complete list "adds up to over $34 million on TV ads this September and October in 31 targeted districts, a move designed to swamp the NRCC with the Dems' huge cash advantage. The list suggests that Democrats see a very wide playing field this November. About two thirds of the money is going to districts currently held by Republicans, many of them in traditionally tough areas for Democrats."

Here are the races and amounts listed for states:

MI-07 -- Rep. Tim Walberg (R) v. Mark Schauer (D) -- $1.5 M
MI-09 -- Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R) v. Gary Peters (D) -- $1.1 M
MN-03 -- Erik Paulsen (R) v. Ashwin Madia (D) -- $1.4 M
OH-01 -- Rep. Steve Chabot (R) v. Steve Driehaus (D) -- $928 K
OH-15 -- Steve Stivers (R) v. Mary-Jo Kilroy (D) -- $1.2 M
OH-16 -- Kirk Schuring (R) v. John Boccieri (D) -- $1.3 M
WI-08 -- Rep. Steve Kagen (D) v. John Gard (R) -- $475 K

Read the full TPM item


WI: McCain talks family, pocketbook issues in Hudson

11:24 AM

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain fielded questions from female voters Friday in this western Wisconsin town on everything from addressing illegal immigration to whether Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will come out of retirement.

On the second one, he punted.

In an event his campaign billed as a women's town hall meeting, McCain met with an almost exclusively female audience to pitch pocketbook issues, his proposals for global warming and energy independence.

While the crowd gathered inside, liberal groups One Wisconsin Now and Citizen Action of Wisconsin protested across the street. OWN, as it has for other GOP events in the state, performed some street theater with two actors dressed in McCain and Bush masks with a giant rubber stamp that read "McSame" across the bottom. Citizen Action members held signs that read, "McCain's Healthcare Plan: Fend For Yourself" and "Bandages Not Bombs."
Read the full item


ALL: Sabato's Midwest state rankings

10:38 AM

University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato has released his first "Crystal Ball" look at November's election.

Here's where he places the family of states:

Illinois: Solid Obama (no real chance for an upset)

Minnesota: Likely Obama (an upset is possible but improbable)
Sabato note: "The only way McCain could steal Minnesota is by picking Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his running mate. However, even a McCain-Pawlenty ticket would have a 50-50 chance, at best, of carrying Minnesota. Pawlenty did not secure a majority of the vote in either of his gubernatorial victories (in 2002 and 2006)."

Iowa: Leaning Obama (currently tilting to one side but reversible)

Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin: Toss-ups

Sabato notes: Michigan has a natural Democratic lean. Will the state's voters warm again to the Democrats after the national party refused to count the Wolverine primary in January? Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is also unpopular, and in this state, she may partly balance President Bush's high negatives. ...
* Wisconsin is traditionally close, as it was in both 2000 and 2004. Obama swept the Democratic primary here, though, and he has to be rated at least a slight favorite; some early polls have Obama well ahead. ...
* The great unknown is Ohio, the all-important swing state of 2004. Obama did badly in the primary in the Buckeye State, and Bush carried it in both his presidential runs, though not by much. In 2006, the Democrats swept to power and a bad economy gives Obama a clear shot at these critical 20 electoral votes. It will be difficult for McCain to win without them, but Obama's path to victory does not require Ohio.

Read Sabato's full analysis


Thursday, July 10, 2008

MN: McCain fits in speedy trip to Twin Cities

5:34 PM

Excerpt from a description of John McCain's overnight visit to the Twin Cities:
He'll arrive in the Twin Cities, from Michigan, sometime after 4 p.m. He'll wave to TV cameras and head to the McCain headquarters in St. Paul. It's expected that he'll be accompanied by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his spouse on the ride from the airport to the campaign headquarters. (No one is saying whether there'll be conversation about the vice presidency during the car ride.)

After shaking hands with supporters at the headquarters, McCain will do a Virginia town hall meeting, via telephone, at 6 p.m. Central time.
McCain's due in Wisconsin tomorrow morning.


MI: McCain says 'Michigan is hurting today'

3:11 PM

As the national press digested a McCain economic adviser's comments about the U.S. economy -- former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm called the country sort of "a nation of whiners" undergoing a "mental recession" -- John McCain visited a Wayne County auto supplier and did his best to empathize with Michigan's economic troubles.

From The Detroit News:
"Michigan is hurting today. ... Let's face it, America is hurting today, and it's hurting badly, and we have a lot of work to do," the Republican presidential candidate said. ...

The town hall included tough questions from voters, including one who criticized McCain's commitment to free trade agreements and another who said he opposes Democrat Barack Obama but remains unenthusiastic about McCain because he originally opposed Bush administration tax cuts and supports measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The Washington Post said McCain was "trying desperately to empathize with the plight of the auto worker. And not having much luck."
... the crowd of about 100 sat on their hands in stony silence throughout most of his speech, especially his lecture about the need for free trade -- a policy not embraced in this town.

The first question was from a man who urged a different point of view, saying that "what we need to do is control some of those trade issues going on. What we want is fair trade."

McCain again expressed his sympathy, but refused to back down on trade, instead singing the praise of the American spirit of innovation and an education system that he said can be repaired to effectively retrain displaced workers.
Read the entire Washington Post item


MN: The return of Ventura?

10:33 AM

The takeaway from the dueling news reports about former Gov. Jesse Ventura's political plans seems to be that the political maverick will keep people waiting until Minnesota's filing deadline of July 15 to find out his true intentions.

After sounding like a U.S. Senate candidate in an NPR interview broadcast Wednesday, Ventura later told a reporter that his quote about running ("That's the reason I run, not to sell books. I run because it angers me.") was about a hypothetical situation.

Columnist Paul Demko of the Minnesota Independent thinks a July fundraiser for the Independence Party, due to include high-profile guest Michael Bloomberg, could be a sign that the party is gearing up for a Ventura run -- Ventura was a member of the party when he ran for governor.
So why would Bloomberg, who's frequently been touted as a future presidential candidate, throw in his lot with this motley bunch? It's impossible to say for certain, but one intriguing possibility is Jesse Ventura. ... Might Bloomberg's visit be a hint that Ventura is actually serious about running and provide a jump-start to his fundraising efforts?
One possibly relevant note from Ventura's successful run for governor a decade ago: That was also a three-way race involving Norm Coleman.


MI: Great Lakes Compact heads to Congress

8:51 AM

From Gongwer News Service Michigan
With Governor Jennifer Granholm's signatures Wednesday, Michigan became the last state to ratify the Great Lakes Compact and arguably became the first of the Great Lakes states to fully implement the proposal to limit withdrawals from the basin. With all eight states now on board, the language has to be adopted by Congress to make the plan enforceable.

The 12-bill package not only enacts the compact, which puts limits on how water can be transported out of the Great Lakes Basin without approval of all eight governors, but it places limits on how much water can be drawn out of surface and ground waters of the state to avoid affecting other users and the ecosystems those waters feed. Property owners will be able to determine whether they need a state permit for a proposed well through a new online water withdrawal assessment tool.

Though the agreement did not put as strict of limits on water use as some environmental groups had sought, the compact signing was broadly seen as a triumph for the state's waters.
Read the full article


OH: Portsmouth home to dueling prez events

8:26 AM

From Gongwer News Service Ohio
Ohio was again the focus of the presidential contest Wednesday, with dueling events in Portsmouth sandwiched between another barrage of energy policy rhetoric.

Republican John McCain stopped in the southern Ohio city for a "town hall" event at Portsmouth High School hours after Gov. Ted Strickland held a rally of his own across the street.

The governor later joined former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack in criticizing the U.S. senator from Arizona's positions on energy policy, etc., during a news conference call sponsored by the campaign of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

In between, the Ohio Republican Party parried with a response to Gov. Strickland's event delivered by Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston).

Providing the political undercurrent, as it has throughout this lengthy campaign cycle, was the high price of gasoline.
Read the full article


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

IL: 10th District campaign looking like high-money race

3:39 PM

In a congressional race that Roll Call says may turn into the most expensive race in the country that doesn't involve a self-funder, incumbent Republican Mark Kirk outraised Dem challenger Dan Seals by more than a quarter-million dollars in the second quarter this year.

Kirk reported $900,000 raised and $2.85 million cash on hand, compared to $635,000 raised and close to $1.2 million cash on hand for Seals.

In this rematch of a 2006 race won by Kirk, both candidates are well ahead of their 2006 fundraising totals.

Conservative blogger Team America said the fundraising rollout worked in Kirk's favor, as his campaign announced its totals shortly after the Seals camp made its announcement: "Well, $635,000 is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But, this game is all relative, folks. And before the Dan Fans got too crazy over themselves, Team Kirk immediately released Kirk's Q2 fundraising total and took all of the wind out of the S.S. Seals."

The liberal Progress Illinois greeted news of Kirk's total with a simple "Yikes."


MN: Win a date with Obama: illegal in Minnesota?

11:37 AM

Is Barack Obama's website conducting an outlawed-in-Minnesota raffle? The Minnesota Gambling Control Board thinks giving new donors a chance to meet Obama backstage in Denver is worth investigating. The Strib's Randy Furst says only nonprofits, not campaigns, can conduct raffles in Minnesota. The raffle standard: it costs money to participate, it's based on luck of the draw, and something of value is at stake. Obama's campaign sounds like it will argue the winners won't be random.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

MI, OH, WI: Obama campaign ad responds to RNC energy spot

5:31 PM

Barack Obama's campaign said it's begun running a TV ad in response to an RNC spot that says the presumptive Dem presidential nominee is taking "the party line" on energy policy.

Obama's campaign said the ad will run in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the same four states where the RNC spot touting McCain's energy plan is running.

The spot says McCain is part of the problem on gas prices, adding he and President Bush support a drilling plan that won't lower oil prices for seven years and would give more tax breaks to "big oil." It also says he voted with Bush 95 percent of the time.

The ad says Obama would seek to raise mileage standards, fast track technology for alternative fuels and implement a $1,000 tax cut to "help families as we break the grip of foreign oil."

See Obama's ad

See the RNC spot


WI: McCain set to visit Hudson Friday

2:58 PM

Republican John McCain has scheduled a women's town hall meeting for Friday morning in Hudson, a city on the western border Wisconsin shares with Minnesota.

The location, close to the Twin Cities, means McCain's likely to attract media coverage from outlets in both states.

See details of the visit


OH: Strickland, Regula hit parade circuit in 16th CD

2:12 PM

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and departing Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula both joined their favored 16th Congressional District candidates at this weekend's bicentennial parade in Wooster.

Strickland appeared on behalf of Dem John Boccieri and Regula joined Republican Kirk Schuring. Both men are campaigining to fill Regula's seat in the U.S. House.

Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman told that both campaigns were late additions to the parade participation list:
"We did have some late entries into the parade that we weren't necessarily anticipating," he said. "The governor was one of them and he had let us know last Sunday that his schedule had changed and that he had decided to be a part of the parade. And that's wonderful. That's great for our town to have someone of the governor's position to come to Wooster and be a part of our parade. ... Since Boccieri is definitely in a contested race this fall, we felt it only right to extend that same type of offering out to Kirk Schuring -- if he wanted to be a member in somebody else's car, because we weren't allowing political candidates to be a dominating force in the parade.
See blogger Kyle Kutuchief's pictures from the parade


MN: Newspaper editor defends 12-year-old letter writer

12:21 PM

St. Cloud Times opinion page editor Randy Krebs says he was surprised by the reaction to a letter to the editor that backed Dem Elwyn Tinklenberg over incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Mostly, I was surprised at how the articulate and ambitious words of a child could spark so much, well, venom. That's right. Each of my correspondences came with varying (but unmistakable) degrees of age discrimination and political partisanship, most of which was directed at the author, not the issue. ... I've had plenty of contact with kids this age and there are many of them whose depth of knowledge, passion for issues and writing abilities are more than adequate to match up with any elected official. ... I'd bet you dollars to doughnuts that this girl had less help writing her piece than most elected officials and candidates get with their submissions.
Read Krebs' entire piece


MN: Incumbent Walz outraises GOP's Davis in 2nd quarter

9:55 AM

Two of the three candidates in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District have released their fundraising totals for the second quarter of the year. Incumbent Dem Tim Walz reported roughly $430,000 raised, compared to Republican Brian Davis' $391,000. Davis' total included a $100,000 loan. Walz reported $1.2 million cash on hand, compared to $376,000 for Davis.

A liberal blogger admits Davis' fundraising is "impressive, but its just not enough to make this a competitive race in such a DFL year."

Republican state Sen. Dick Day, who's challenging the party-endorsed Davis in the primary, has not yet released his fundraising totals.

Read the entire AP article

In another 1st CD tidbit, a Dem blogger points out that a Google search of the three candidates' names shows some disparity in name recognition.


Monday, July 7, 2008

IA, MN, OH: Cook Political Report favors Dems in House ratings changes

4:42 PM

The Swamp notes that 28 U.S. House district outlooks have changed in the Cook Political Report's latest look at competitive districts. In all but one of those districts, the change is a shift in the direction of the Democratic Party.

Of those 27 changes in favor of Dems, three are in districts covered by Iowa's 4th District, held by seven-term incumbent Republican Tom Latham; Minnesota's 2nd, held by three-term Republican John Kline; and Ohio's open 7th District, where incumbent GOPer Dave Hobson is retiring.

All three were changed from "solid Republican" to "likely Republican" in the Cook ratings. According to the site, the "likely" rating means "These seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged."

See the Cook Political Report's newest Competitive House Race Chart


IL: 11th District listed as vulnerable to Dem takeover

4:06 PM

A new CQ Politics list includes Illinois' 11th District as one of the five U.S. House seats most vulnerable to takeover by the opposing party this year.

The race synopsis says the seat, held by retiring Republican Jerry Weller, looks like a Dem pickup because "Democrats -- who have been on an overall roll in Illinois for more than a decade -- are highly targeting this race and have a strong nominee in Debbie Halvorson, the majority leader in the Illinois Senate."

Meanwhile, Republicans saw primary winner Tim Baldermann drop out of the race a couple weeks after winning the February primary. He was replaced by businessman Martin Ozinga in late April.

Read CQ Politics' complete race summary

The Cook Political Report has a similar outlook for the race, listing the district as "lean Democratic."


MN: Columnist says Franken's comic roots prove troublesome

9:25 AM

National political columnist Michael Kinsley writes for Slate that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate "[Al] Franken's problem is that he spent three decades as a professional comedian before turning to politics and has a large inventory of potential gaffe material to explain away."

Kinsley is no fan of incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, who he calls "a man of no interest, a run-of-the-mill political hypocrite who started out as a standard-issue long-haired student rebel leader on Long Island in the 1960s" before turning into "a standard-issue pro-war, tax-cut Republican."

In the end, Kinsley says, "If the voters of Minnesota would rather be represented by a hack like Norm Coleman than laugh off a few jokes that didn't work, then they should stop complaining about being stuck with professional politicians."

Read the whole column


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