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Specter, Sestak try to close the deal in PA Senate race

1. With less than 48 hours remaining in their Democratic primary fight, Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak sought to make their final arguments to Pennsylvania voters during dueling appearances on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley.

Specter, who has been knocked back on his heels over the past several weeks by the rapid rise of Sestak, sought to portray himself as the only candidate who can keep the seat in Democratic hands this fall -- the sort of "head" argument (as compared to a "heart" appeal) that rarely works in primary fight.

Specter also said his party switch was less about politics than principle, a sign that Sestak's ad quoting the incumbent as saying that the switch will "enable me to be re-elected" had done damage.

"I had a clear shot at re-election," Specter told Crowley, adding that had he stayed as a Republican he would have been re-elected "easily". (That is a significant re-write of history, however. Specter's switch was occasioned -- at least in part -- by polling that showed him with almost no path to a primary win against former Rep. Pat Toomey.)

Sestak, for his part, blasted Specter as part of the problem in Washington -- calling the incumbent a "poster child for what's gone wrong in Washington, D.C." while casting himself as part of a "different generation, a new generation".

That sentiment is reflected in one of Sestak's two final ads in which he tells voters "it's time for a new generation of leadership." (Sestak's other commercial is the aforementioned "enable me to be re-elected" ad.)

Specter is on in the Philadelphia area -- where he absolutely must roll up a major margin with an endorsement ad featuring President Barack Obama. Specter also has two 15-second attack ads on Sestak -- one on missed House votes, the other on his low pay for campaign staff.

Most neutral observers see the arc of the race favoring Sestak as it's assumed that anyone not with Specter by now won't all of a sudden decide to vote for him. The latest Muhlenberg College tracking poll showed Sestak and Specter tied at 44 percent.

2. Former congressional staffer Mark Critz (D) and businessman Tim Burns (R) brought out big-name supporters over the weekend in a final blitz of campaign events ahead of Tuesday's high-stakes special election for the seat of the late Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha (D).

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) stumped for Burns at a Friday rally in Washington, Pa.. "I asked to come and help him because I saw a lot of similarities somebody who was an outsider who was not beholden to any special interests and someone who will be an independent thinker and will be an independent voter in the other Washington," Brown said of Burns.

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, hit the trail for Critz at a rally in downtown Johnstown on Sunday. Addressing the assembled crowd, Clinton acknowledged the anger that appears to be driving many voters who are fed up with Washington but cautioned those same voters from letting their emotion cloud their judgment.

"A lot of these people voting mad and frustrated, let me ask you, forget about politics," Clinton told the crowd. "Remember those decisions you made in your life when you were mad? About 80 percent of the time, you made a mistake, am I right?"

Both campaigns are deploying their supporters in an all-out effort to prevail on Tuesday. A Critz spokesperson said that the campaign knocked on 11,600 doors on Saturday; Burns' campaign estimated that it knocked on over 10,000 over the course of the weekend.

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) is slated to attend a number of campaign stops with Critz today. Burns campaigns with Representative Bill Shuster and Attorney General Tom Corbett, who is running for governor.

3. As California's Republican candidates for governor and Senate continue to flood the airwaves three weeks before the hotly contested June 8 primaries, the frontrunner for the Republican Senate nod is taking the unusual step of going dark for a full week.

In lieu of airing TV ads, former Rep. Tom Campbell is spending between $700,000 and $900,000 this week on a direct mail piece targeted at 1.1 million early-voting Republicans.

The front of the mailer depicts the Statue of Liberty with two tears rolling down its cheeks. "What's happening to America?" the mailer asks. One page features a photo of Sen, Barbara Boxer (D) and charges that she "stands for everything wrong with Washington." The mail piece also features various quotes praising Campbell's record -- including one from former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz saying that the former Congressman "offers strength, intelligence and moral courage." The mailer makes no mention of Campbell's Republican primary rivals, ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Campbell's campaign acknowledged that pulling its TV ads so close to Election Day is a "strategic gamble." But a spokesperson added that the campaign is spending its funds "the right way," and that reports that Campbell is running low on cash are "flat-out wrong." The spokesperson added that Campbell plans to go back up on TV for the last two weeks of the race.

A Fiorina spokesperson noted that the campaign plans to up its ad buy this week after the candidate poured another $1 million of her own money into the race. "We wish them luck with that," a Fiorina spokesperson said of Campbell's move, adding: "We think our ads will really break through."

Recent polling has shown Campbell maintaining a steady lead over Fiorina Fiorina's campaign has said that those polls aren't accurate since they were conducted before Fiorina went up on the air last week.

4. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is out with another endorsement, this time for the newly troubled California gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman.

Whitman's $60-plus million in self-funding allowed her to open up a huge lead early. Since then, however, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has closed the primary gap significantly, according to both public and private polling.

With the race narrowing, Whitman has moved to shore up her conservative flank -- running new ads that take a hard-line stance on immigration after attacks by Poizner wounded her on the issue.

(Poizner has responded by re-airing an ad that alleges that Whitman and President Obama have the same position on illegal immigration.)

Cheney's endorsement is part and parcel with Whitman's lurch rightward as the former vice president is revered in conservative circles. But, as we noted Friday, endorsements from big-name Republicans like Cheney haven't been doing much for GOP candidates faced with tough primaries.

Cheney's endorsement didn't appear to do much for Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who is a decided underdog in his state's GOP Senate primary on Tuesday. By the same token, it didn't appear to help Sens. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who lost battles for re-nomination and governor, respectively, after getting Cheney's backing.

5. Rep. Brad Ellsworth on Saturday officially became the Democratic nominee for Senate in Indiana.

Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-Ind.) retirement earlier this year came so late in the filing period that no Democrat was able to qualify for the primary ballot. Ellsworth was effectively chosen at the time by Democratic leaders, but he still needed to have that decision confirmed by party's State Central Committee this weekend.

The match-up between Ellsworth and former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) sets up interesting contrast.

Democrats will try to play up the Congressman's outsider credentials. Early on in the campaign they have been referring to him as "sheriff" - his job before he was elected to the House in 2006 - rather than his congressional honorific. It's a good contrast with Coats, given the Republican's time served in the Senate and his work in Washington as a lobbyist since then.

Still, Ellsworth comes into the general election with polls showing him an underdog, and it will be tough to win in a state like Indiana if the electoral environment favors Republicans.

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  | Tags: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, Joe Sestak, Muhlenberg College, Pat Toomey, Philadelphia  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Pennsylvania special election could be 2010 pivot point
Next: Trey Grayson embraces the establishment


"I agree the key with charters is regulation. If Dems were to support them, Rs would immediately find a way to sudddenly oppose them . . .

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 2:08 PM


No, the teachers' union would immediately find a way to (suddenly?) oppose them.

I know the union's rationale. What's yours?

If you've ever taken a programming class, you'll recall that there are two possible responses when a program bombs:
(1) Fix it and try again.
(2) Keep resubmitting and hope the thing somehow mutates into something that works on the eighth or ninth try.

There are always Drindls in every class.

Posted by: Brigade | May 17, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I've given up thought processes altogether and am content to spin the beanie on my tinfoil hat.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 1:02 PM |


I knew the day would come.

Posted by: Brigade | May 17, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until Wednesday, when my phone will stop ringing.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I cannot wait for Tuesday to vote against Specter, that colossal fraud and phoney.

Posted by: alzach01 | May 17, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Good Riddance to Snarlen Specter the unreliable turncoat.

Posted by: alzach01 | May 17, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

DADT is a policy that forbids gays from serving openly.

Whether Kagan is gay or not (and a lot of the speculation is just based on her being unmarried and without much of an active social life), her choosing not to talk about it publicly is completely different (David Hyde Pierce once said that "my life is an open book, I just choose not to read it to you.").

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 17, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Kagan playing her OWN version of "don't ask, don't tell?"

OK, she might be laughing.

However, is this appropriate for a Supreme Court nomination process?




Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"So mm, good morning by the way, could we say that in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, the Ds have started a mini version of the Republican dumpster fire?"

Lincoln and Specter are being challenged primarily for inconsistency, rather than for ideological reasons (Sestak and Specter aren't really that different when you get down to brass tacks).

Posted by: SeanC1 | May 17, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

37th and zook. They are like the herpes outbreak of this board. Chris needs realize that when he tweets someone, he is tweeting everyone that person has ever been with.


What does that mean ???

Meanwhile, you continue with the height of quality posting.


Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Just when one intolerable idiot wanders off, another arrives to take its place.

Ped BINGO anyone.

We already have utter economic ignorance:


Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Tax cuts increase job creation? Demonstrably false. Just look at the Reagan and Bush eras.

Unless you mean jobs in India and China.

Republicans cut taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, who immediately take the money to "low cost countries," which loyal Republicans point out as "economically sensible."

Wouldn't occur to them to cut taxes on the middle class, other than as an incentive to breed more customers.

Posted by: Noacoler | May 17, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"The question is what direction do we put our economy in now - AND IT IS CLEAR - we need to SMOKE MORE CIGARETTES AND REDUCE LUNG CANCER."

37th and zook. They are like the herpes outbreak of this board. Chris needs realize that when he tweets someone, he is tweeting everyone that person has ever been with.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 17, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Cutting taxes increases job creation.


As so amply demonstrated during the 2000s. Oh. I guess not.

Posted by: JakeD3 | May 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I see bumblingzouk and 37 burnout will be posting frantically for the next 18 hours here - so bye all.

dawd, I agree the key with charters is regulation. If Dems were to support them, Rs would immediately find a way to sudddenly oppose them, this is all they are today -- the disloyal opposition.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Teleprompter broken?

Washington - After the signing of the Freedom of Press Act on Monday, President Obama declined to take any questions from the press. During a pooled press event in the Oval Office, President Obama was asked if he would take a couple questions. "You're certainly free to ask the question," Obama told the reporters in the room. "I won't be answering."

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"dawd, I am glad to hear that charter schools have improved the ed situation in NO, but they have a decidedly mixed record and I would urge you to read more on the topic before wholeheartedly endorsing them.

Education and the profit motive don't always produce the best results for kids.

Posted by: drindl"

There's definitely a mixed record, but I think if the charters are well written, you can avoid much of the pitfalls. You know, regulating them. There's already some regulation in terms of academic standards. New Orleans is probably better than other school districts in doing that. Also, we really had nowhere to go but up. But I do think that every crappy district should be looking to charters as a solution. At least be thinking about it. I think this is one of those issues the two major political parties are probably closer together than they would like to admit.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 17, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse


This is the problem with your thinking: you do not place proper emphasis on JOB CREATION.

Cutting taxes increases job creation.

You really don't care about job creation - YOU CARE ABOUT RAISING TAXES.

Raising taxes places a drag on hiring.

Economic growth is what we have to keep our eye on -

Please stop thinking you know what you are talking about - because you don't.


Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse


If the country is not at war with the radical islamists - and Obama attempts to deny there any terrorist networks at foot - and Obama attempts to cast every incident as a "lone wolf" until the FACTS come out -

If all that is true, WHO ARE WE AT WAR WITH ??




This is WHERE the liberal thinking leads - there is no other way around it.


Thank you democratic party, it all makes sense now.



Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

According to Liberals, just because a story was reported by the National enquirer, that John Edwards is a typical liberal, it must not be true, that is until Keith Olbermann confirms it.
Likewise, until the blue dress arrived at the Lab, another famous lying and cheating liberal (but I repeat myself) was considered above suspician. What happened to an honest and inquiring press?

the current liars in the white house can have the largest parties, feed their dog veal, drink and smoke to the point of doctors warnings and have the largest caboose in memory and liberals meet a call to stop eating so much bad food with a straight face. In fact, the government needs to start collecting personal information now regarding this "problem".

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Quick, what do the three most recent terror attacks have in common?

don't ask anyone from the Obambi administration:

Still, in our view the administration is culpable for a see-no-evil posture toward America’s radical Islamist enemies — exemplified last week in Attorney General Eric Holder’s bob-and-weave testimony on Capitol Hill, during which he repeatedly balked at acknowledging that radical Islam motivated the Fort Hood shooter in November, the Christmas Day bomber and the Times Square bomber earlier this month.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t kidding when she famously said Congress had to pass Obamacare “so you can see what’s in it.” And now as more people find out what’s in the 2,700-plus pages of the law, a steadily lengthening list of President Barack Obama’s promises are being exposed as empty. Obamacare was going to reduce federal health care spending. Now, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the president’s own Department of Health and Human Services estimates federal health spending will increase at least $311 billion.

Liberals Lie and spend. No surprise there.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The question is what direction do we put our economy in now - AND IT IS CLEAR - we need to CUT THE TAXES AND BALANCE THE BUDGET.


And the government waste fairy will make it all better. Current tax revenues are at a 50 year low with respect to GDP. Federal spending at a high point due to TARP and the stimulus. It's not that difficult to figure out that (a) spending will have to be cut and (b) adequate revenue must be raised to pay for it.


Posted by: JakeD3 | May 17, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Copying from Orly Taitz, Zouk? I would have thought better of you. It has been established that the SSN of pReSIdeNT ObaMa was likely issued when he lived abroad, not from the dAtE of BirTh. Hence, it wAs processEd in coNNecticUt, not HawaII.

Posted by: JakeD3 | May 17, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I just want to point this out: Both Shuster and Murtha appeared to have responded to the industrial declines in their districts with infrastructure improvements.


However, does that work? We now have beautiful highways leading to old industrial towns - which have trendy coffee shops in old downtowns which still appear to have a ways to go.

Granted there are mountains there - and if the roads were not good, those towns would be in really bad shape.

Pennsylvania is really an amazing state - you see town after town which obviously was built up and had a great deal of money at some point - but the jobs are not there anymore.


Murtha had his flaws - and we all know what they were.

The question is what direction do we put our economy in now - AND IT IS CLEAR - we need to CUT THE TAXES AND BALANCE THE BUDGET.

We need to KEEP AMERICA STRONG - and that means no over-borrowing - WE NEED OUR FINANCES TO BE STRONG.

We need to create a high-growth economy.

We need to create jobs - and KEEP OUR INDUSTRIES IN THE UNITED STATES.



Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

and this, is truly HILARIOUS --

"In a May 11, 2010 article, WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi reports that two independent investigations by two different investigators in two different states"

In one sentence, possibly two of the world's most discredited and downright laughable propandaists and conspiracy theories about social security numbers?

Is this really the best you can do? I see you've given up thought processes altogether and are content to spin the beanie on your tinfoil hat.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Bumblingberry was up all night steali...I mean writing his post.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

'Another all day loser/loon fest under the tutelage of drivl.

do you EVER do ANYTHING else old dingbat?

Posted by: bumblingberry"

do you EVER do ANYTHING but post here, loser?
Now you will be on for 18 hours, posting hateful sewage.

what, did you sleep late today? a night of photographing 'models' -- loser?

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

If recently published reports are true, and I have no reason to doubt they are, then the judgment, reputation and credibility of many a journalist and politician have been irrevocably destroyed along with the myths planted by Barack Obama, who apparently has a great deal of explaining to do about who he is, where he came from and why he’s using another person’s Social Security number.

In a May 11, 2010 article, WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi reports that two independent investigations by two different investigators in two different states (using two different data sources) discovered that the Social Security number used by Barack Obama mysteriously coincides with Social Security numbers verified to have been issued by the state of Connecticut between 1977 and 1979, a full two years after Obama’s first, publicly-documented record of employment at a Hawaii Baskin-Robbins back in 1975. OUCH.

WND has copies of affidavits filed separately in a presidential eligibility lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia by Ohio licensed private investigator Susan Daniels and Colorado private investigator John N. Sampson.

The investigators believe Obama needs to explain why he is using a Social Security number reserved for Connecticut applicants that was issued at a date later than he is known to have held employment.

The Social Security website confirms the first three numbers in his ID are reserved for applicants with Connecticut addresses, 040-049.

"Since 1973, Social Security numbers have been issued by our central office," the Social Security website explains. "The first three (3) digits of a person's social security number are determined by the ZIP code of the mailing address shown on the application for a social security number."

The question is being raised amid speculation about the president's history fueled by an extraordinary lack of public documentation. Along with his original birth certificate, Obama also has not released educational records, scholarly articles, passport documents, medical records, papers from his service in the Illinois state Senate, Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and adoption papers.

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse


That is actually a great new name for you: the centrifuge.


Posted by: 37thand0street | May 17, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Another all day loser/loon fest under the tutelage of drivl.

do you EVER do ANYTHING else old dingbat?

Posted by: bumblingberry | May 17, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

A couple of great comments in the Post Politics chat today:

Silver Spring: I'm confused about the whole "mama grizzlies" metaphor by Palin that's been covered so much in The Post.

Perry Bacon Jr.: I don't know if I get the metaphor myself. But it's Sarah Palin; a certain segment of voters will embrace it no matter what.


Baltimore MD: I think the mainstream media Palin derides have made the cynical, but logical, decision to give her as much coverage as possible because it translates into viewers on TV, readers in print and click throughs online. And all that means revenue. She's the political equivalent of a baby stuck down a well.

Perry Bacon Jr.: I would you are about right on both counts. I would say the media should cover Palin not just for ratings though, she is a very powerful figure among conservatives.

Jake in 3D signing out

Posted by: JakeD3 | May 17, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

dawd, I am glad to hear that charter schools have improved the ed situation in NO, but they have a decidedly mixed record and I would urge you to read more on the topic before wholeheartedly endorsing them.

Education and the profit motive don't always produce the best results for kids.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, Andy, mot of that stuff they already talk about but most is not practical.

-Tax inheritances as income not capitol gains"

this they would not do -- they never favor raising taxes, even if it's necessary

-privatization of SS is a major loser issue

-a marriage amendment to the Constitution, when homosexuality is losing its stigma in almost every group, especially the young?

'don't ask, don't tell' is also opposed by most americans these days.

The truth is, nothing they really want to do is going to be popular with the middle class because it's all about pleasing the wealthy and big business.

Which is the reason they continue to campaign on emotional hot-button, irrational issues that motivate people through hate and fear instead of reason.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Andy, I'm no Republican, but I can get behind a push for more charter schools. The schooling has been a vast improvement in New Orleans ever since Katrina created a huge schooling void that was quickly filled by charter schools. A lot of it was started by Sec. Ed. Spellings under Bush and the progress has been praised by Sec. Ed. Duncan under Obama. I'm not that clear as to the Dems' objection to charter schools, actually. In any case, it's really hard to argue with the results, at least here. I've had a chance to show some high school students around my work and they are really smart and know a hell of a lot more than I did at their age. Obviously there is some self-selection there and any district will have some superstars, but just the overall quality of the schools have improved and I would have to think having such a large percentage of charter schools here deserves a lion's share of the credit.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 17, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Great points, Amy. Specter was a party pariah from the TARP vote forward -- months before he switched parties. Snowe, Collins, Lugar, Murkowski and Voinovich have all been silenced and marginalized in their party over the past year. They stuck their necks out once, but never again. I think that as the months passed, Specter was unwilling to accept that shunning from his own party and took his vote elsewhere.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Drindl and Bsimon,
I am not saying that they can put togethor a platform that will please everyone, but there are folks out there who have good ideas (Paul Ryan on the Debt, and remember that McCain basically wrote the immigration reform that Obama and Reid want to inact). Also the GOP has been harping for a while on changing to a flat tax or a VAT style tax structure. I am not syaing that they can get these things passed but they could form the basics for a real platform if they wanted to. A simple run down could look like this

-Increase entitlement age at the same time increasing the tax ceiling that payroll taxes effect
-Create option for privatization of SS
-Flat Tax on all income above 40K
-Tax inheritances as income not capitol gains
-Full fenced border with Mexico and then immigration reform with no amnesty for undocumented people in this country without significant fines
-Marriage Amendment to the constitution
-Pro-life (or anti-choice depending on how you see it)
-Repeal insurance mandate and allow states to determine how to provide healthcare for all citizens
-Keep dont' ask dont' tell
-No more international loans to failing central banks
-Inact School vouchers and shift funding to charter schools
-Close Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 15 years by selling off their assets.

That is a platform I bet a lot of Repubs could get behind. Now mind you if this ever came to be I would move to Spain, but at least they would be pro something.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 17, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

drindl, in CA, 41% of likely voters are above the age of 55. George Shultz is known by those voters and is even viewed favorably by Ds of that age in CA.

Primaries in CA draw an even more aged demographic than general elections. As in TX, Latinos and Asian-Americans do not vote proportionately to their overall strength.

Finally, Shultz is a Californian: a Stanford professor emeritus and a reminder that CA played a role in the raising of the Iron Curtain, through RWR and his SecState and SecDef.

No downside for a CA R to that endorsement.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 17, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

" not matter how strong Jerry Brown is, a life-long government insider, that alone will hurt him greatly this year."

You don't know Jerry Brown. He's a quirky individual and no matter how long he's been in government, he is not an insider because he is an *actual* maverick.

From coverage of Whitman/Poizner's last debate -- this is what I mean about lacking any serious ideas about governance:

"The only "deer in a headlight" moments occurred when both the candidates were asked by the moderator, John Myers of KQED-FM, if they could think of a state ballot initiative that they would change. Neither could immediately think of one.

"Those were sad moments," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and former chief speechwriter for Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

"If you're looking for a winner, I guess the real winner is Jerry Brown," Whalen said of the presumed Democratic nominee, who has been doing better in polls as the GOP primary battle has gotten bloodier."

They don't come more conservative than Whalen, and he thinks Brown will win.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Andy, I would have to agree with bsimon on this. When was the last time Rs really had a *coherent* platform, actual policy ideas that could work, instead of just platitudes? Cutting taxes and sealing the border, sure, but then there's the deficit they've been squawking about.

So what spending would they cut? Defense never, for a variety of reasons and they would love to gut SS and Medicare, but that ain't gonna happen either. And as b said, effectively sealing the border, as long and as rugged as it is, would cost a fortune and besides, their business backers want that cheap labor to keep coming.

They long ago gave up on the idea of actual governance and went into permanent campaign mode instead. Nothing has changed.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

1. Joe Sestek really has hammered Specter on being the typical Washington opportunistic politician with no real values except political survival. The messege "Specter only cares about 1 job, his own" should really work right now in this economy. Specter is hitting Sestek as a lazy congressman only interested in advancing his political career and spending more time campaigning than doing the people's business as a congressman. Pretty juicy primary. Meanwhile, Republican Pat Toomey has been campaigning to independents and raising huge amounts of money while taking advantage of this anti-washington wave. Toomey begins the race in good shape against either Specter or Sestek, which is a true toss up right now.

2. This primary tommorrow is huge for Republicans but even more big for Democrats. It's been a D stronghold for a long time and both parties have spent heavily to win this district. It's competitive and if Burns wins, Republicans then have all the momentum going into November.

3 & 4: I think people know Tom Campbell and he's leading by a margin that I think it's at least comfortable. Fiorina is coming hard and has donated lots of cash to her campaign to help herself win. She's also got the endorsement of Sarah Palin, which will help her in the primary but damage her in the GE. She's also competing for the conservative vote with Chuck DeVore, who will at least take 15% of the vote with DeMint's endorsement and the true conservative mantle. Campbell has to be the favorite considering all of these facts. Whitman, on the other hand, is in a true primary with a real genuine opponent in Poizner. I argued, since December, on this very blog that Poizner is a great candidate who has won statewide and can win statewide again. He's got real business experience and has real experience building a business from the ground up successfully, which is what California needs. In this election cycle, not matter how strong Jerry Brown is, a life-long government insider, that alone will hurt him greatly this year. Whitman's avoidance of the media and answering questions while just throwing money at a campaign sounds just like something the federal gov't. would do! Poizner is the true fiscal conservative that will help California out of this mess their in. Whitman hitting back on the defensive will not work as Poizner has plenty of money to spend to continue making his case for victory. I'm glad to see Poizner rise again and I'm rooting for him, as I think he'd be best for California.

Posted by: reason5 | May 17, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

An update on the MA governor's race, seldom mentioned here:

'Meet Charlie Baker, the Michael Scott of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race.

Baker, the presumptive Republican candidate, is making up for his 10-point lag in the polls by outspending Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick by nearly 2 to 1, spending $2 million since August, according to the Boston Herald.

He's blown about a tenth of it on gimmicky parties: $1,000 for a mechanical bull rental, $4,000 on balloons and confetti, $1,500 for an American Gladiator-style jousting arena. He's spent $196,000 on catering and room rentals for parties, almost $7,000 on lunches, $6,000 on a holiday party and $1,500 to have the New Black Eagle Jazz Band play at a fundraiser."

The parties may have given Baker some recognition among voters -- but if that's the case, to know him isn't exactly to love him, and Baker is quickly slipping in the polls. In April, a Rasmussen survey showed Baker within eight points of Patrick. A month later, Baker fell to 14 points behind.'

So it looks like Deval Patrick, whom CC thought was in serious danger, isn't leaving the gov mansion anytime soon.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

AndyR3 writes
"I think the GOP could make a legitimate platform if they wanted to, not that I would agree with them but they do have ideas. The problem is that the leaders in the GOP don't think that they need one, and that they can win back the house and senate by just being the party of no."

The challenge for the GOP to create a platform would be in not alienating their most motivated voters. For instance, the group most motivated by the immigration issue wants, among other things, using the national guard to seal the border. That would be an enormously expensive undertaking, requiring significant cuts elsewhere, in defense perhaps. But heavily cutting defense alienates another constituency, so they'd have to look elsewhere. But where? Entitlements are the obvious answer, but that kills them with the reliable voters in the social security/medicare demographic. So that leaves... raising taxes, which is the TEA/Club for Growth sweet spot. So if you can't cut defense, can't cut entitlements and can't raise taxes, what do you do? You could eliminate huge swaths of the fed bureaucracy & still not close the budget gap - programs like NEA or NPS don't take up much of the budget at all. So, maybe the GOP could come up with an actual platform, but it almost assuredly would not add up to an internally consistent set of policies that solve problems.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 17, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: DDAWD | May 17, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"mail piece also features various quotes praising Campbell's record -- including one from former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz saying that the former Congressman "offers strength, intelligence and moral courage."

George Shultz? Probably 90% of the voters alive today don't even know/remember who he is -- what kind of strategy is this? If you do know, however, wht you know is that he's one of DC's most 'insider' insiders. I thought Rs were supposed to be running as 'outsiders' this term, that that's all the rage, why bring in people like him and Cheney who personify the old school Republican establishment? Do any of these folks have a coherent viewpoint at all, or is it all just say no?

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Chris, did you WATCH Specter yesterday? He said he had a shot at reelection BEFORE HE VOTED FOR TARP. And that before that, Toomey had declared for Governor, not Senate. He acknowledged that he couldn't win a GOP primary after voting for TARP. That was his point. His vote for TARP caused Toomey to enter the primary against him, and for him to drop behind Toomey in the polls. His point was that if he had wanted to stay in the Senate as a Republican, he could have just voted against TARP.

Posted by: amy130 | May 17, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Nice Mark, I think a link to the story would be a good move by Whitman. The most damning part of that was when Ira Glass ask Poizner if his impression that he writes about in his book was just a knee-jerk reaction and now that he nows all the facts would he think differently, and Poizner says no. I mean he gave him an out to not look like an idiot, and he didn't take it.

I think the GOP could make a legitimate platform if they wanted to, not that I would agree with them but they do have ideas. The problem is that the leaders in the GOP don't think that they need one, and that they can win back the house and senate by just being the party of no.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 17, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

re: #5. From what I have read in previous "Fix" articles, Ellsworth has more up-side than Coats. That may not be enough for Ellsworth to overcome the gap, but if it is a correct perception, we should see the polls narrow gradually from now through the autumn.

Thanks, AB and FS, for the editing I suggested earlier.

Andy, I heard that "TAL" story on Poizner's book and had the same reaction as you. Do you think Whitman would link to it on her website? Or would linking to a public radio program offset the advantage of the story? :-)

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 17, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Whitman brought Cheney to *California* to campaign for her? Gee, he's about as popular there as herpes. She is one the most lame and tone deaf candidates I have seen, although Linda McMahon is pretty close.

Posted by: drindl | May 17, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Andy, agreed, but can Republicans run on an austerity platform, pulling chicken out of every pot? No, they can't. Apart from that, there really is no platform. The mean one developed in for example, Maine, abolish this and abolish that is ridiculous. Meanwhile, as I just posted on the last thread (so as not to disrupt this one), China appears to be backing America's recovery, so I imagine it will chug along.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 17, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Margaret you are probably right that Sestak went all in and this is a win or leave politics kind of moment for him. I also agree that Critz is going to win big. The GOP needs to look at this race and the one in Florida and see that running against HCR and being anti-Obama just isn't going to cut it in November. They HAVE to put out a policy platform soon so that they have to something to run for. Otherwise, the Dems are going to survive November with only minimal loses in the house and Senate. This is especially true if the economy continues to chug along.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 17, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Scriv, Joe Hoeffel is a good, SE Pensylvania, liberal Democratic stalwart. He has always been cheerfully willing to run for anything when the party has had trouble fielding candidates. I think of him as a worker bee, not the leader of the hive.

Onorato is the best chance to keep the Governorship with the Democrats. He has solid experience (unlike Anthony Williams), and he is popular enough in the Western part of the state to lure moderate Republicans and Independents. The SE PA Democrats will vote for him, of course, and the combination of voting blocks would deny the GOP a win this year.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse


With Specter-Sestak grabbing the headlines, the PA Dem gubernatorial primary has garnered little national attention -- a race in which the party seems to have written off two worthy contenders.

Former congressman Joe Hoeffel, well-known in Southeastern PA and favored by progressives, is AWOL from the TV airwaves, as is PA auditor general Jack Wagner. Instead, the relative unknowns -- Allegheny Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Philly state Sen. Anthony Williams -- are saturating the key Philly TV market.

Since money talks, the impression has been left that Hoeffel and Wagner can't mount an effective statewide campaign, or that a backroom deal has been done to favor weaker candidates -- a tacit surrender to the Republicans and PA Attorney General Tom Corbett, the presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee and a veteran of two successful statewide campaigns.



• Bush-Cheney- spawned extrajudicial atrocities continue -- along with financial sabotage, police-protected community vigilante harassment, home intrusions, GPS-enabled stalking.

All of those cell towers you see all over America are NOT all for phone calls.

Some of them are TORTURE TOWERS -- part of a nationwide microwave/laser radio frequency "directed energy weapon" system being used by operatives of the multi-agency Homeland Security-run "fusion center" network to silently torture, impaiir, and physically and neurologically degrade the functioning and well-being of extrajudicially, unjustly '"targeted" citizens...

... a high-tech genocidal purge conducted under the banner of national security.

And apparently, the use of this precision-targeted domestic weapon system to attack and harm U.S. citizens is being done WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF CONGRESS or high state officials.

OR re: "Obama: Take Down Fusion Center Gestapo..."

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 17, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Do I sense a chance to win a coveted Fix t-shirt on Tuesday?


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 17, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Mark, I have gone back and forth about Sestak and Specter. Specter came to the Democrats at an important time, and he has worked hard for them. There were times last summer when you feared for him at some of those Town Halls, and yet he continued to do them. But then the NY Times last week ran that timeline of Specter's career and I was reminded how often he'd made me mad!

Shrink, I don't know what to say about Arkansas, but I feel that the knee jerk "throw the bums out" story-line will not hold true for the Democrats. Being in the role of the opposition is a radicalizing situation and so the GOP is being radical. Being the party in power is a moderating situation, and I think the voters will accept moderate candidates.

Geez, looka me: I'm philosophizin' here!

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

AndyR3, if Sestak loses I don't know that he has a political career; he certainly won't have a seat in congress come November. He has left his CD dangling, a legitimate complaint from Specter, by missing lots of votes in Congress, and he hasn't shown himself to be a guy who thinks of his party. I can't see Obama offering him an appointment anywhere.

However, if Sestak is the candidate of course Obama, Biden, Rendel and Specter will back him and raise contributions. That is what the party does. No Democrat is going to let a weasel like Toomey get into the Senate without having moved the Earth to prevent it. Obama, Biden, Rendel and Specter are professionals and they will work for the candidate, whoever he is. I think Specter in particular would be an energetic campaigner: he hates Toomey and he lives for politics.

I am getting a big feeling about Critz. Burns has been a pale campaigner and has offered nothing to the CD. Having Bill Shuster come and campaign for you is laughable when you are running on a small gov't./low taxes platform. The Shusters of the PA 14th CD have been exactly the kind of pork 'n' earmarks kind of Republican that New GOP is supposedly against. And I think even with this flood of outsider money Burns will still lose by the high single digits.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

"...Whitman's lurch rightward as the former vice president is revered in conservative circles," and is despised by everyone else.

It seems like Dick Cheney's endorsement would make Whitman unelectable in the general. This far out, running against Dick Cheney is considered bad taste by some, irrelevant by most, but now Brown would have an easy time dredging Cheney's record...and dumping the muck on Whitman.

Either way looks good for Jerry.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 17, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

It is good to hear that Specter is willing to support Sestak if he wins, and no matter what he says if Sestak wants to have ANY career in politics if he loses he will back Specter. My question is if Sestak wins, where does his 10+ million come from to run against Toomey? The big money donors who back Specter will walk away and I don't see Obama or Biden lending him a hand either. Then again MoveOn and the unions may be able to solve this problem for him.

I heard a story on Steve Poizner on This Amercian Life a few weeks ago that was pretty damning if you ask me. It was based on this book that Poizner wrote about spending 6 months teaching at a "failing" school, but it turns out the school is pretty middle of the road. Poizner came off as being a uber-rich jacka$s who now wants to run the state. This guy is a clown folks and I think if he wins that Brown will smoke him in the general.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 17, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

So mm, good morning by the way, could we say that in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, the Ds have started a mini version of the Republican dumpster fire? Or, does running against your own party's record make sense nowadays?

Posted by: shrink2 | May 17, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, MM, for the observation. I gathered you were undecided, previously.

Mr. Blake and Ms. S., please "fix"

"The mail peace..." during the day.

I would be interested in knowing if Campbell's direct mail includes e-mail. There is a tendency for voters to to circular file direct mail, unopened, and I would guess to spam filter email. In Austin, radio spots would be a cost effective way to get to early voters. I wonder if this is not true generally. Drive time into and out of work being what it is - long - in metro L.A. and the Bay Area, it should provide captive audiences for focused radio spots. Campbell has the name ID and does not need TV - but on radio, since he is leading, he could gently remind voters of the early voting option, almost in the style of a PSA.

If someone from CA explains this would not work there, I would be interested. Something as simple as no Saturday early voting could so diminish commuter impact in early voting [no way to vote at home and get to work at the same time] that radio spots in drive time could be less effective.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 17, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday on CNN Specter said he would back Sestak through November if Sestak were his party's candidate. "Losing [to Toomey] is not going to happen." I know Specter hasn't been a Democrat for long, but that's the way a Democrat talks.

Sestak would not commit to supporting Specter in the general election. This hits right at the reservation I have about Sestak: he's running against his party-backed incumbent, he publicly derided a placating offer from his President, he won't commit to supporting his party's candidate if it isn't him. I am also upset that the Democrats may very well lose Sestak's congressional seat in the general election. Sestak has not been good for his party, and he does not see this as his responsibility.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | May 17, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

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