In it, but not of it. TPM DC

An interesting expert has emerged to speak out on behalf of Norm Coleman's fight in Minnesota, and the importance it has to our democratic system: Former FEC commissioner and voter-suppression guru Hans Von Spakovsky, an old TPMmuckraker favorite.

Here's what Von Spakovsky told Fox News in support of Coleman's litigation, including a potential U.S. Supreme Court appeal: "If you don't deal with all of the issues that have been raised in this case, then you know a lot of people are going to be questioning whether the real winner who actually ends up in the seat is actually the person who won the race, and that's not good for the kind of election process that we have."

As I've asked before, when Norm Coleman himself has offered the same point: Where were you in 2000, Hans, when we really needed you?

The Fox article also says that the GOP appears to be ready to keep the fight going, now that Al Franken would be the 60th Democrat. NRSC chairman John Cornyn gave Fox a statement that, not for the first time, invokes the count-every-vote spirit of Florida in 2000: "It's blatant hypocrisy that many of the same Democrats who so loudly complained about voter disenfranchisement during the 2000 Florida recount have been so willing to compromise their principles when it no longer fits their political agenda."

Specter: "Do I Want To Stay In The Senate, Of Course I Do" Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) held a town hall event last night in his home state, re-introducing himself to voters as their new Democratic Senator. Specter bluntly acknowledged that a desire to remain in office was a reason for his switch. "Do I want to stay in the Senate, of course I do," said Specter. "Do you like your jobs? Sure you do."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with Democrats from the Energy and Commerce Committees, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the State Dining Room. Obama and Biden will have lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET. Obama will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres at 2 p.m. ET. At 3 p.m. ET, he will meet with senior advisers.

Read More →

Following up on the news that Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) met with SEIU President Andy Stern today, Greg Sargent gave the congressman a call. "I cannot see the unions across the board supporting Specter if he cannot support EFCA," Sestak told Sargent. "[Stern] let it be known that it's very much on the top of their agenda."

Sestak has become more and more forthright in recent days about his intent to challenge Specter for the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate nomination if Specter doesn't move left. Before Specter got in the race, Sestak said he had no intention of attempting a bid for the Senate. After Specter made his switch that all changed. First Sestak criticized Specter for lacking principles. Then said he'd wait to see what Specter stands for before making any decisions. Then Friday he said he was "thinking about getting in" to the race. Now he tells Greg "[i]f [Specter] doesn't demonstrate that he has shifted his position on a number of issues, I would not hesitate at all to get in."

I just got off the phone with Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, after he'd read the rebuttal given by GOP outfit Resurgent Republic to his criticism of their new poll. His bottom line: They're still acting in a way that is, to use his phrase, "self-deluding."

Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic responded to Greenberg's criticism, that the firm's new poll and strategy memo was slanted to produce a favorable result for GOP positions. First of all, he said the poll did not have only a two-point gap in partisan identification, as Greenberg measured it, but was a 33%-29% gap in favor of the Democrats. And he defended his phrasing of the Democratic positions, saying the intent was to effectively paraphrase what a Democrat would say.

Greenberg isn't buying it.

"I meant my response to be a little pointed. I meant it to be a little on the bemused side, at the start of the discussion," said Greenberg. "I'm sure you and Pollster.com, other blogs will answer the partisan I.D. question. Nothing changes the fact that this is an outlier on Party ID, even looking at the way he calculated it."

Read More →

Back in the spring of 1986, after having successfully appointed scores and scores of conservative judges to serve on courts across the country, President Ronald Reagan went too far. He picked a federal prosecutor to a fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Alabama whose nomination was so controversial that it got quashed by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.

That prosecutor was Jeff Sessions, the senator who, in all likelihood will serve as that committee's most powerful Republican for the next year and a half.

But back to 1986. During the debate over his nomination, committee Democrats questioned Sessions' prosecutorial discretion, focusing in particular on a case he pursued against three Marion, AL civil rights workers--Albert Turner, Turner's wife Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue, Jr.--whom he accused of voter fraud. Sessions was unconcerned with claims of fraud outside the so-called Black Belt, but he alleged that the trio had falsified absentee ballots in Perry County during the 1984 election. After conducting an exhaustive investigation, though, he was able to account for only a small handful of questionable examples, and even those he couldn't pin on his defendants, who were acquitted after only a few hours' deliberation.

Albert Turner--who was an adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr.--passed away in 2000, and his wife could not be immediately located, but Hogue still lives in Marion, and by phone today he expressed his displeasure with the news that Sessions is, in effect, getting a promotion.

Read More →

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) has an interesting metaphor for how the House GOP needs to take control of its message. Rather than rely on outside initiatives like the GOP's National Council for a New America, the House GOP conference needs to take charge for itself.

Or, as he put it, House Republicans need to act as an "entrepreneurial insurgency."

It may be that McCotter was just speaking figuratively when he spoke of an insurgency -- in the sense that someone might speak of an insurgent politician going up against the establishment, for example. On the other hand, the revolutionary language really has been spreading through the GOP's ranks -- it's not just Michele Bachmann.

Resurgent Republic, the Republican polling/analysis firm that aims to be a GOP counterpart to Democracy Corps, is firing back at the accusations leveled against them by the Dem firm's Stan Greenberg, who has essentially accused them of running a stacked survey.

Greenberg said that Resurgent Republic's first poll defeated its own mission, borrowed from Democracy Corps, of being a partisan pollster that at the same time is explicitly not geared to favor its own side, but to critically examine public opinion and give the party constructive advice:

Nothing is more self-defeating than attributing to the Democratic argument the language and themes Republicans use to attack Democrats rather than the language Democrats use themselves. In effect, your survey has you winning an argument with yourself. Indeed, that is where you start your analysis of the first poll - telling readers in bold and underlined type that you are winning the big ideological debate by two-to-one, which "verifies America remains a center-right country."


In an interview with TPM, Resurgent Republic co-founder Whit Ayres sought to debunk the accusations.

Read More →

Michael Steele has an interesting message for moderates, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. During a news conference at the Wisconsin GOP convention on Friday, Steele said moderates are welcome to join the Republican Party -- but not to change it.

"All you moderates out there, y'all come. I mean, that's the message," Steele said. "The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front."

But, he added: "Understand that when you come into someone's house, you're not looking to change it. You come in because that's the place you want to be."

Read More →

You have to hand it to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) -- he sure knows how to make people welcome in the GOP's big tent.

CQ reports that DeMint says he approached then-GOP Sen. Arlen Specter on April 23, and said something to him: "Arlen, it pains me to tell you this. I'm going to be supporting Pat Toomey in the primary."

DeMint recalled Specter's response: "I've heard enough." Specter did not comment much to CQ about it: "It happened in the cloakroom and not on the floor."

Five days after this conversation, with poll data showing that he would lose his Republican primary against Toomey, Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party.

A source close to Specter told us they were not aware of any other GOP Senators who said what DeMint did, and Specter hasn't mentioned any.

As I noted below, it looks like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will be, at least for a time, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee. That's an interesting role for a man with Sessions'...history. In a 2002 New Republic article, Sarah Wildman detailed the Alabama senator's rise through the ranks of politics in Alabama and in Republican Washington.

Sessions first appeared on the scene in 1986 D.C. when President Ronald Reagan nominated him to serve on the U.S. District Court in Alabama. At the time, the Judiciary Committee was controlled by Republicans, but his appointment nonetheless went absolutely nowhere--a fact that may have had a thing or two to do with stories like this:

Read More →

LiveWire