Al Franken has made a bold move to seize the mantle of victory in his disputed Senate race, with his campaign announcing a staff hire for his eventual Senate office.
Franken has hired Alana Petersen, who has worked for the past five years for Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), to be his state director. Franken said in a statement:
"I want Minnesotans to be able to rely on me for assistance with the federal government. Whether it's a Social Security check, a small business loan, or help for a returning veteran, my office will be there for the people of our state, following the examples set by Sen. Klobuchar, our fine Congressional delegation, and those who came before us. That's the Minnesota way, and nobody is better at it than Alana. Drawing on her wealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in Minnesota, when I have the privilege of being certified, she'll work with me to ensure that we hit the ground running on Day One."
Franken told Minnesota Public Radio: "It's a little difficult because we're still in a little bit of a legal limbo but we, again, I don't want to be presumptuous but I feel like it's irresponsible not to get a jump on this."
House Minority Leader John Boehner appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and entirely rewrote the scientific community's understanding of carbon dioxide. Boehner said, "the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical."
Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it's clear.
Obama To Order Cabinet To Cut $100 Million
President Obama will reportedly use his Cabinet meeting today to order the Cabinet to cut a combined $100 million in costs from their departments. The move is intended so that Obama will be able to quickly point to savings that the administration is implementing, from cuts in government waste.
Obama's Day Ahead
President Obama will hold his first Cabinet meeting today at 11:30 a.m. ET in the Cabinet Room. At 2:35 p.m. ET, he will meet at CIA headquarters with Director Leon Panetta, the deputy director and other CIA officials, and will deliver remarks to CIA employees at 3:30 p.m. ET. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he and Vice President Biden will meet with Robert Gates.
Summers: "It's A Long Road" For The Economy
Appearing on NBC's Meet The Press, Larry Summers said of the economic situation: "But it's a, it's a long, it's a long road and it's going to take time. It's going to take creating jobs again. That's why the recovery bill was so important. It's going to take supporting the financial system, because without a flow of credit you really can't even begin to get the economy going again. That's where our main focus is."
President Obama spent the morning in Trinidad and Tobago, at the fifth Summit of the Americas. He attended an 8 a.m. ET multilateral meeting with SICA (Central American Integration System), a 9:10 a.m. ET Leaders Retreat, and held a news conference at 11:45 a.m. ET. He left Trinidad at 1 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 6:15 p.m. ET.
Obama: We Must Cut Government Waste
In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama discussed the need to cut the costs of government and to eliminate wasteful programs, and announced the appointments of Jeffrey Zients as Chief Performance Officer, and Aneesh Chopra as Chief Technology Officer:
Obama says that the circumstances of the economy forced him to expand the federal deficit. But nevertheless, he added: "Without significant change to steer away from ever-expanding deficits and debt, we are on an unsustainable course."
GOP Response Video: Congressman Praises Tea Parties
In this weekend's RNC response YouTube, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) lambasted big spending by the Democrats -- and praised the Tea Parties from this past week:
"In fact, thousands of Americans turned out on Tax Filing Day to say they've had enough of the high taxes and borrowing to bankroll Washington's spending spree," said McCarthy. "I attended one of these Tea Parties in my hometown of Bakersfield, California, and believe me, the message was heard loud and clear."
Yesterday, in a truly bizarre appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Texas Rep. (and House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay said something which rang false.
Texas was a republic. It joined the Union by treaty. There's a process in the treaty by which Texas could divide into five states. If we invoke that, and the last time it was voted on was 1985, the United States Senate would kick us out and nullify the treaty because they're not going to allow 10 new Texas senators into the Senate. That's how you secede.
Much of this seemed, to us, to be incorrect. So we did some research, checked in with some experts, and concluded that, indeed, there are a number of basic errors here.
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The counties are now all done with the initial counting of absentee ballots in the NY-20 special election, and the latest results show Democratic candidate Scott Murphy ahead of Republican Jim Tedisco by 273 votes, as the counting finished up in the pro-Murphy areas of Dutchess and Washington Counties.
There now remain about 1,500 challenged absentee ballot envelopes, most of which have been kept completely out of the count based on objections lodged by the campaigns. It appears that far more challenges were lodged by the Tedisco campaign than by Murphy, which would lead to Murphy picking up more net votes due to the expectation that the vast majority of challenges will be thrown out and the ballots counted. The court review of the challenged ballots will begin on Monday.
At this point, it's difficult to envision a scenario under which Tedisco wins.
Late Update: The Tedisco campaign gives us this statement from their attorney James E. Walsh:
"After two weeks of counting the votes, the one thing that remains certain is that this continues to be a remarkably close race and every vote matters. On Monday, we intend to make our case before the judge that this important election should be decided by the lawful voters of the 20th Congressional district and not by residents of New York City."
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) just held a conference call with reporters to discuss the nomination (and threatened filibuster) of Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's designated chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council.
Whitehouse is a member of the Judiciary Committee and has repeatedly spoken out on Johnsen's behalf. Though it's uncertain whether Republicans will ultimately seek to block Johnsen's nomination, Whitehouse is prepared in the event that they do. "I actually have a little bit of ammunition gathered in the event that I happen to be...on the floor defending this," Whitehouse said.
The major question mark that still remains in the NY-20 special election, where Democratic candidate Scott Murphy currently leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 264 votes, is how those absentee ballots that are being kept out the count because of challenges by one campaign or another will ultimately add up.
A Democratic source tells me that the total number of challenged absentee ballots comes in at 1,579 -- of which 1,025 were lodged by Tedisco. This number has some plausibility to it, as there are already about 200 more Tedisco challenges each in Columbia and Warren counties, based on my own discussions with local elections officials. The big question is the breakdown in Saratoga County, which hasn't divulged the makeup of its 740 challenges.
Assuming this data is correct, and also that most campaign-launched challenges are overruled and the envelopes opened and counted, this would mean that Murphy could gain about 500 more net votes after these are all sorted out. The review process will begin in court on Monday.