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Florida's 13 District is fast turning into that recount battle that everyone knew would be coming in this, the year of the electronic voting machine. Despite a new analysis that shows the Democrat may have narrowly lost the official count due to glitches in the machines, the Floridia Secretary of State is refusing to investigate the issue.

As we noted yesterday, according to the official count Republican Vern Buchanan edged out Democrat Christine Jennings by only 368 votes -- but there seems to have been a huge voting problem in one county, where electronic machines registered no votes for the contentious congressional race from a large number of voters. That glitch apparently cost Jennings the race, and the fight seems sure to head to the courts (both sides have their legal teams in place).

As The Herald Tribune reports, there was a 13 percent "undervote" for the Buchanan-Jennings race in Sarasota County (meaning they registered 13 percent fewer votes for that race than for the other big races) -- far more than in other counties. And according to an analysis by the paper, "[i[f the missing votes had broken for Jennings by the same percentage as the counted votes in Sarasota County, the Democrat would have won the race by about 600 votes instead of losing by 368." Jennings won 53 percent of the counted votes in the county.

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This morning, most folks will read the majors' write-ups on Bob Gates, the friend-of-Bush-Senior's whom president Bush is now beckoning into public service to replace departing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The majors' profiles are all kind (sample headline: "Gates Lauded as Breaker of Barriers"), with nods to criticism of Gates, without really delving into why he twice faced heat from Congress. (Hint: Iran-Contra, twisting intelligence.)

To get the real backstory, I'm going to send you to Jeff Stein at Congressional Quarterly. The national security editor there, he put together a profile on Gates by yesterday evening that bests the major dailies for raking muck on the man Bush is hoping will rescue his legacy.

Go read it. The guy has an encyclopedic memory of spies and intelligence flaps built up from covering the classified world for about three decades. So he can report in an afternoon what would take me (and possibly, the majors) several days to find out.

Defeat Doesn't Spell End to Probes of Lawmakers "Despite suffering electoral defeat at the ballot box Tuesday, several lawmakers still face the prospect that they will remain ensnared in ongoing criminal probes that could last well into their post-Congressional careers.

"Reps. Curt Weldon [R-PA] and Katherine Harris [R-FL] have been embroiled in separate federal investigations, with Weldon’s connections to a lobbying firm run by his daughter and a political adviser under scrutiny, while Harris has turned over documents to investigators examining her connections to a defense contractor.

"Both Weldon, who was seeking an 11th term, and Harris, who was hoping for a seat in the Senate, lost handily Tuesday." (Roll Call)

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More on the recount mess brewing in Katherine Harris' old seat.

From The Herald Tribune, shades of 2000:

A team of lawyers was said to be on the way to Sarasota early Wednesday morning. Kendall Coffey is the lead attorney for the Jennings campaign. Coffey was one of the Democrats' attorneys in the 2000 presidential recount in Florida, the former U.S. Attorney in Miami and a negotiator in the case of Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez.

The Jennings camp said a difficulty the campaign faces is that a manual recount is apparently impossible with Sarasota County's touchsreen machines, making a court challenge a more likely avenue.


In a statement this afternoon, Jennings would only say, "We are compiling information and putting the facts together and we will keep you updated. " But it looks like they're headed for court.

Well, the American people certainly gave a what-for to scandal-plagued incumbents last night, as their votes and the media's exit polls showed. At least nine mucked-up politicos from the Schemin' 109th got strapped to a raft, metaphorically speaking, and pushed out to sea by an angry electorate. For us rakers, it's a bittersweet moment.

Some we will miss: Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), who lost her kamikaze bid for a Florida Senate seat, won't be around when we need her anymore. Also missed will be the Entertainer himself, Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), who lit up our days and spiced up our nights with paranoid conspiracies and FBI raids. It's true, Curt: not only are they all out to get you, they just got you. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), whose backers attempted literally every cheap or dirty trick in the book, will also leave a hole in our hearts. (It was sad to see his son crying on national television last night during his dad's concession speech, wasn't it?)

The absence of others won't be so remarked-upon in the Muckraker office. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC), an almost cartoonish embodiment of the perpetually cranky, self-interested banker, was never much fun -- except when he was trying to explain when a fundraiser isn't a fundraiser. Likewise the Abramoff-philiac Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), whose haircut and mustache were oftentimes more interesting than his ties to the disgraced lobbyist. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), also a Friend of Jack, never really got our eyebrows wiggling, either. And Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS), who made a play for our affections with a shady house deal, never really followed through.

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A recount battle is brewing, fittingly, in Katherine Harris' old seat, where a voting shortfall on buggy electronic voting machines is calling the election results into doubt.

From The Herald Tribune:

Republican Vern Buchanan was clinging to a 368-vote edge over Democrat Christine Jennings for the 13th Congressional District early this morning.

Although Buchanan declared victory just before 1 a.m., the razor-thin margin kept Jennings from conceding defeat and will generate an automatic recount....

The results were loaded with controversy as nearly 13 percent of all ballots cast in Sarasota didn’t include a choice for Congress. That difference, and scattered reports of difficulty finding the race on Sarasota’s touchscreen ballots, raised concerns about under votes in the race.

Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent couldn’t explain why 8,000 to 10,000 fewer people voted in the congressional race than in other high-profile races for governor, attorney general or U.S. Senate. But she said nothing mechanical went wrong with the county’s $4.7 million touchscreen voting machine system....

Throughout the day voters complained that touchscreen voting machines were not registering votes for Jennings properly. Jennings campaign held a midday press conference to warn the problem was widespread....

Already Democrats were calling in lawyers from the Democratic National Committee to weigh in on the potential voting issues....

In Sarasota County, with all but one precinct reporting, 87,797 people voted for Bill Nelson, Katherine Harris or another candidate for U.S. Senate. In the governor race between Charlie Crist and Jim Davis, 87,678 county resident voted.

Only 76,549 voted for Jennings or Buchanan. In comparison, about 3,000 more people voted in the Sarasota Public Hospital Board election.

But a similar undervote was not recorded in other counties that voted in the District 13 race.

Sherwood a Victim of His Own Circumstances "The defeat of Rep. Don Sherwood [R-PA] will be lumped in with that of a dozen other Republican incumbents but the circumstances of his undoing are vastly different.

"Sherwood’s 10th district is heavily Republican, but that did not much matter once college professor and Navy reservist Chris Carney (D) began running ads reminding voters of the personal scandal that unfolded in Washington, D.C., involving Sherwood more than a year ago." (Roll Call)

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With a handful of votes counted in Florida, CNN is already calling Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) a loser in her Senate race.

She'll always be Pink Sugar to us.

From Roll Call:

In automated and live calls, Democrats allege, Latinos have been told that their ethnicity makes them ineligible to vote in today’s elections. The calls also threatened that Latinos would be arrested at polling places if they did attempt to vote, party sources said.

Although it remains unclear who is responsible for the calls — and how widespread the alleged intimidation is — aides to Democratic House candidate Angie Paccione said they have received two complaints today from Latinos in Weld County, which is part of the district held by GOP incumbent Rep. Marilyn Musgrave....

Oralia Ramirez, a 24-year-old resident of Gilcrest, Colo., said she received one of the automated calls, which began with a menu of party affiliations. When she pressed three for “you don’t know,” she was transferred to a person who asked her who she was voting for today and what her party affiliation was. When Sanchez responded that she was unsure, “He asked, ‘Are you Hispanic, Latino, black?’” and when she said she was a Latina, the caller said “‘Oh so you are Hispanic. You’re Hispanic, so you can’t vote. You aren’t even registered to vote, so don’t waste your time. Just by looking in my records you can’t vote.’ Then I just hung up.”

Salazar said the campaign has received at least one other complaint from a voter, who received a similar phone call two weeks ago in which a caller threatened the voter with arrest if he attempted to vote.

It's a mean season. From the Associated Press:

A northern Idaho man has been charged with aggravated assault after police say he pulled a knife and threatened to stab a co-worker while the two were arguing over politics.

Forty-year-old Duane Owens of Spirit Lake could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Police say Owens and a co-worker regularly debated politics at the logging equipment sales office where they work.

But things got out of hand Friday when Owens, a Republican, remarked to his Democratic co-worker that "Democrats cheat and lie," to which the co-worker replied, "All politicians lie and cheat."

The argument escalated until Owens allegedly pulled a knife and held it below the coworker's waist. Owens fled when the co-worker grabbed a phone and called police.


More, after the jump.

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