TPM News

With new polls showing Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) catching up with his Republican opponent Chris Christie, after having trailed Christie by solid margins all of the past general election season, it's worth examining a New Jersey trend that has been talked about a lot this year: That Republicans can often run strong for most of the campaign, only to see a Democratic surge in the home stretch.

"A lot of people have had trouble believing that Christie was gonna win, even when he was up in the polls significantly," said John Weingart, the associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, "just because of the presumed power of incumbents, the Democratic nature of New Jersey, and the amount of money Corzine was gonna put in the race. Really, nobody is confident of what the outcome will be at this point."

New Jersey Republicans have frequently come up dry in Senate races. Despite high hopes in many cycles, the last time they actually won a Senate campaign was 1972. Things haven't been nearly as bad on gubernatorial races, with the GOP winning four out of the last nine races -- but three of those have only been by margins of about one point. So why is it that these patterns exist?

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At an event endorsing New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson on Monday, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand would not say whether they'll endorse Gov. David Paterson in next year's gubernatorial election.

Asked about an endorsement, Schumer said: "You know, these are very, very difficult times for a governor, any governor, giving the economy and everything else. I'm doing everything I can to help David Paterson work together and maximize New York's help from Washington."

"As for elections, let's stick to this one today. One election today," he added, according to the Daily News.

As for Gillibrand, she said, "Well, I support the governor and, you know, he said he's going to run and we are all focused right now on this election cycle."

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has rolled out a funny picture in a campaign fundraising e-mail, seemingly made for viral campaign tactics -- that his presence in Washington is "The Invention of Truth-Telling."

The poster is a takeoff on the new movie The Invention of Lying set in an alternate reality where people only tell the truth, and one man discovered how to lie and uses it for his personal benefit. Grayson, then, would view himself as living in a world where people only lie, and he is the one man who has discovered honesty -- and yes, he is using it for his personal benefit.

NRCC spokesman Andy Seré gave this comment to the St. Petersburg Times: "'Narcissistic personality disorder' comes to mind. So does 'one-term congressman.' This circus act is getting tiresome."

Former Mayor of Miami Maurice Ferre announced his bid for the Democratic nomination in Florida's open U.S. Senate race this morning. Ferre, a native of Puerto Rico, is expected to make Florida's sizable Hispanic community a centerpiece of his campaign.

The 74 year-old was first elected to run Florida's largest city in 1973, becoming the first Puerto Rican to get the job. He served six terms before being defeated in 1985. He's been out of public office since 1996, and the last time he won a race of 1993. Since that time, Ferre lost three successive bids for Miami-Dade county mayor, the last coming in 2004.

When he first started talking about running for the Senate back in early Sept., Ferre said he was troubled that the retirement of Sen. Mel Martinez (R) meant a loss of political power for Hispanics in the Florida, and state activists hoped a Ferre bid could keep their population in the spotlight.

Of course, the race -- which also includes Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) -- already has a Hispanic candidate in former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban descent. But Hispanics in the state were disappointed with Rubio when he came out against the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor over the summer.

Ferre has a uphill climb if he wants to be competitive in the Dem nomination fight. Meek has been a successful fundraiser and has locked up the endorsements of unions and key national Democrats, including Bill Clinton.

In past conversations, Meek officials have suggested Ferre's candidacy doesn't indicate that Hispanics could be trouble for the Rep., claiming that Meek's relationship with the important Florida demographic group is 'excellent.' They suggest that though Ferre is well-regarded, his candidacy for the nomination is less-than-serious and they don't anticipating it putting a dent in Meek's march toward the nomination next year.

Before the Senate Finance Committee can vote on its health care bill, CBO needs to provide a preliminary cost estimate of the package. That analysis is due later today, as I understand it. It would be a surprise--and a major event--if the estimate finds that the amended version of the legislation does not "bend the curve" of health care spending growth and project at deficit reductions in both the 10 and 20 year windows.

Still, the panel will likely not vote on the package imminently, and may even wait until next week to do so. We'll get you an update when the analysis is available.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is heading to Iowa in a key early test of his ability to build support among potential Republican caucus goers.

Pawlenty, who recently announced a new political action committee will be the "featured guest" at the Nov. 7 Leadership for Iowa event at the state fairgrounds.

Matt Strawn, Chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, issued a release praising the Minnesotan as "innovative" and "conservative," and noted Pawlenty was known for balancing the state budget, reducing spending and enacting health care and education reform measures.

Pawlenty will be joined by Republican candidates for governor hoping to oust Democrat Chet Culver in 2010. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased here.

Late update: The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party took a cue from the national Democrats who have been hammering Pawlenty as an absentee governor lately, and put out tongue-in-cheek statement.

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We told you this week the contract between Hardin, Montana and American Private Police Force gave the shady security contractor the chance to take over the town's policing needs, in addition to running Hardin's prison. It appears to have been this potential law enforcement responsibility that led APPF to roll into town late last month in three Mercedes SUVs bearing the words "City of Hardin Police Department," setting off a panic that soon spread far beyond Hardin.

Now that the APPF deal seems to have been on hold, you'd think local officials might now be wary of doing anything that might re-open the police force issue. But yesterday, Big Horn County commissioners nonetheless went ahead and voted to allow the city to create its own police department - though only after making assurances that APPF won't get the job.

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Even when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) says something sensible, she manages to make it crazy.

Appearing last night on Larry King Live, Bachmann made it clear that she is not a Birther, and that this is not an issue for her or her constituents. But she took it a step further.

"I have no reason to doubt that he wasn't (sic) born in the United States. I have none," Bachmann said (She later said clearly that he's shown his birth certificate). "The only place that this issue comes up is on the left. You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up. Honest--"

To which Larry King replied: "Then where did it start?"

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An impressive haul from Republican Pat Toomey, who's running for Arlen Specter's Senate seat in Pennsylvania. $1.5 million in the third quarter.

According to a press release announcing the total, Toomey has raised over $3.1 million from over 20,000 contributors since he announced his Senate candidacy five and a half months ago--that's more contributors than he had in all of 2004, when he last challenged Specter.

Still no word on fundraising totals for Specter, or his primary rival Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). Sestak came out strong in the second quarter, and has been ramping up his attacks on the 30-year-Republican-turned-Democrat. But Specter has been enjoying the support of the party establishment, and his totals will reflect the fundraising prowess of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and many other Democratic celebrities.

TPMLivewire