Environmental groups poised to spend $11 million on climate ads
1. Four liberal groups are planning an $11 million campaign beginning next week on ads designed to pressure Senators on the need for comprehensive energy reform.
The money, which is coming from the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Service Employees International Union and VoteVets.org, will be spent primarily on television ads targeting a half-dozen Senators for their recent vote on a proposal that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. (The measure failed 53-47.)
"We will hold key Senators accountable who vote the right way and who vote the wrong way on comprehensive energy and climate reform," promised LCV president Gene Karpinsky.
The ads are rightly regarded as a warning shot for wayward Senators ahead of what many in the environmental community expect will be a debate on the floor over the idea of comprehensive reform sometime next month.
It's far from clear -- ads or no -- that Democrats have the 60 votes for any sort of comprehensive plan, however. (President Obama canceled a bipartisan meeting of Senators to discuss a way forward yesterday as the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal dominated his time.)
And, for vulnerable Democrats looking at an angry electorate, it's far from clear whether taking on another hot button issue like climate change this close to an election is a road they will want to go down.
2. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is up with a new television ad charging that former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) is "just too extreme" for Nevada voters.
"My grandfather wouldn't even take his Social Security check because he said he was not up for welfare," Angle says in the ad, which uses a clip of a May interview she did with Nevada's KNPR radio station. The ad finishes with a spokesperson for the Alliance of Retired Americans calling Angle's comments "just plain insulting" and "crazy."
Patriot Majority, a Democratic-aligned independent group, is also up with TV ads slamming Angle on Social Security.
While Reid's camp has wasted no time in launching ads on Angle's record, Angle has yet to go up on TV -- so far she has only released a Web ad charging that Reid is "using special interest money" to launch "brutal" attacks against her.
Angle seems to be spending much her time staffing up. In recent days, she has announced that she's hired Brabender Cox to handle media and Public Opinion Strategies' Gene Ulm as her pollster. John Yob, a Michigan-based consultant, is also on the team.
While she has largely avoided the press to date, Angle will face a major test when she sits for an interview with Fix friend and king of Nevada political journalism Jon Ralston next week.
3. Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the Republican nominee for governor this fall, is expected to announce his choice for lieutenant governor today. And, while the LG pick is is usually a low-profile affair, Branstad is under considerable pressure to pick one of his former competitors for the GOP nod -- Bob Vander Plaats.
Vander Plaats, a social conservative who finished second to the more moderate Branstad in the June 8 Republican primary, has not yet publicly thrown his support behind his onetime rival. Vander Plaats finished with 40 percent in the primary, behind Branstad's 50 percent. Vander Plaats was the gubernatorial ticketmate of former Rep. Jim Nussle in 2006 when the duo was swamped by Gov. Chet Culver (D).
Reporting out of Iowa this morning suggests that state Sen. Kim Reynolds is the frontrunner for the nod.
Evangelical Christian groups, a powerful force in Iowa GOP politics, have been split over whether to back Branstad in the general and speculation has been mounting that Vander Plaats may pursue a gubernatorial bid as an independent.
Vander Plaats supporters reportedly have been mulling whether they will make a push to nominate Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor at this weekend's party convention.
While Branstad leads Culver comfortably in recent polls, an independent bid by Vander Plaats would likely siphon votes away from the Republican nominee and hurt his chances of prevailing in the fall.
The only clues that Branstad has given is that he's said he'll choose a candidate that's younger than himself and with whom he shares a similar ideology.
Among the other names floated as possible running mates for Branstad include: former state Senate President Jeff Lamberti, former 3rd district candidate Jim Gibbons and state Rep. Rod Roberts, who finished third in the GOP primary earlier this month.
4. Former Ohio Republican Rep. John Kasich's gubernatorial campaign hit a rough patch Wednesday as a press aide's comments on Gov. Ted Strickland's (D) humble upbringing became a national news story.
In a statement Tuesday, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols made reference to Strickland's childhood, suggesting the governor doesn't know about urban issues because he grew up "in a chicken shack on Duck Run."
Strickland's meager beginnings, which he often mentions on the campaign trail, are politically dicey territory -- especially when the GOP nominee is being painted as a Wall Street and Washington insider in ads paid for by a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association.
Realizing their error, Kasich's campaign issued an apology for the comment.
Adding to Kasich's not-so-good day, the Ohio Democratic Party launched a website aimed at highlighting comments the Republican nominee made regarding Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, whose pending free agency has captivated the state (and much of the country).
During an appearance on Fox Radio last week, host Alan Colmes broached Kasich's absence from a music video, which featured many politicos, begging James to stay. "I'm not singing in any chorus for LeBron James," Kasich said. Whoops.
Polling has shown Strickland opening up a small but steady lead over Kasich in recent months although both sides expect a very competitive fight in the fall for one of the major prizes of the 2010 cycle.
5. Illinois state Treasurer and Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias' name came up Wednesday at the trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).
There's was no smoking gun -- or anything close to it -- but with Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) struggling mightily beneath his misrepresentations of his military record, Republicans' hopes of tying Giannoulias to the trial and changing the subject could be buoyed.
At the end of a Chicago Sun-Times blog post on the trial is a recorded exchange between former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and the governor, in which Harris passes along a note from Giannoulias. The state treasurer, according to Harris, had called about the Senate seat President-elect Obama was set to vacate.
"So Alexi called me. He wanted to have a discussion about the Senate seat," Harris is heard telling Blagojevich. "I imagine he'll tell me ... Barack wants Valerie (Jarrett)."
Blagojevich responds, according to the Sun-Times: "Listen to me, don't see him today. Just ... let's run the clock now."
Blagojevich is accused of attempting to effectively sell the Senate seat.
The recording, which is from a phone call about a month before Blagojevich and Harris were arrested, suggests Giannoulias is serving as some kind of intermediary for Obama.
Not true, said Giannoulias spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. "Alexi did not call Harris at the behest of President Obama," she said. "Alexi thinks very highly of Valerie Jarrett, and it was well known that he thought she would make a terrific senator. So naturally, he was an advocate for her appointment."
For Republicans, the back and forth between Harris and Blagojevich gives them something with which to tie Giannoulias to the trial and the deeply unpopular former governor. But nothing in the brief tape suggests any wrongdoing on GIannoulias' part.
With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake
June 24, 2010; 7:13 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix
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