Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday with the Senators - Home from Texas Edition

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

This has in many ways been a disheartening week. I left Texas the day before Ike began his assault, and I worry for the people I know in Texas, and hope that they are all right. Natural disasters are a time to be devoid of politics, and I hope you will take a few minutes, and your checkbook, and go over to the Obama site and use one of the links on the splash screen to help the victims. While even now we don’t know the full extent of the damage, we know that many homes were lost, power is non-existent for millions, and the need for food, shelter, clothing, and animal care is great.

So let’s get on to the Senators.

First, the good news: all from the Pollster averages:

The “vulnerable” Democratic seats were Frank Lautenberg in Jersey: he’s ahead 48.5% to 37.5%, and Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu is ahead 56.0% to 40.8%. There was never a question of holding out other seats.

We are winning the polls in the following states:

Virginia: Mark Warner 58.3% to 33.9%

New Mexico: Tom Udall 52.2% to 42.8%

Colorado: Mark Udall 43.0% to 37.7%

Alaska: Mark Begich 47.6% to 45.8%

And then there are the other contested races. In Minnesota, Al Franken is behind 41.5% to Norm Coleman’s 47.7%. In Oregon, Gordon Smith is up 45.1% to Jeff Merkley’s 42.0%. (Alhtough not in every poll.) In Mississippi, Roger Wicker is ahead of Ronnie Musgrove 49.6% to 42.4%. Finally, in North Carolina, the latest shows Liddy Dole up 44.0% to Kay Hagan’s 42.3%, with Cole at 6.4%.

Notice that none of these Republican incumbents is above 50%. There are 7 weeks left, and there is no reason to think the gap cannot be closed.

Now for the rest:

Start with this new site about Liddy Dole. It's just plain fun.

In addition to the problems with his apartment rent previously recorded, it seems that Norm Coleman might have broken Federal Election law. Oh seriously, he DID break the law, the problem is that the FEC doesn't like to enforce it's own rules.

Coleman recently produced an ad featuring former Minnesota Lt. Gov. Sandy Keith attacking Franken. To receive the “lowest unit charge” – which can sometimes be half of typical rates -- Coleman must include a disclaimer saying he approved the message. He also needs to broadcast his own likeness for a minimum of four seconds, according to the federal Communications Act of 1934.

He got the first part right -- and got the second part half-right.

“Though the written disclaimer does appear for four seconds, Coleman’s image only appears for the last two seconds of the advertisement,” wrote Franken’s counsel Marc Elias of Perkins Coie, in a letter to 11 Minnesota station managers obtained by Politico.

It’s a loser-pays-all kind of law, according to Elias: If a campaign violates the rule once, it loses the discount for the "duration of the current election cycle."

And then there's this from the DSCC. Make sure you catch the older guy near the end...

But back to FEC law. It's not just Coleman -- Smith up in Oregon is guilty of the same thing.
In an ad whacking Smith challenger Jeff Merkley for stiffing seniors, Smith's image appears for only 2.5 seconds -- at the beginning . The written disclaimer apears at the end superimposed over the image of an old lady shaking her head and muttering "Shame on you, Jeff Merkley."
And yes, you can write the FEC and ask them to enforce their laws.

And then there is Ted Stevens. Politico believes the reason that the race between Stevens and Begich has tightened is directly related to the Sarah bounce. Then again, Stevens' lawyers have filed a bunch of motions to get the case dismissed, all of which have been rejected by the court. The trial starts in a little over a week, in DC, and we'll see how it plays out. If he's found guilty, there is no law forcing him out of the Senate. That would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate. The last time that happened was in 1862. Then again, what does it say about a state if Alaska is willing to elect a convicted felon to the Senate....oh, wait....they seem to like criminals up there.