The Note: Asking for the Vote



It is Election Day 2005, and isn't it exciting to be a member of the national news media covering it all???!!???

Not according to Republican National Committee spokesguy Danny Diaz, who tells the Boston Globe regarding today's two gubernatorial contests: ''We need to look at these for what they are: local races based on local candidates and their views. I don't know that these races are determinate of larger trends."

Begging to differ, the New York Post, which leads one story thusly: "If there's one race in America where President Bush's prestige is clearly on the line today, it's the neck-and-neck Virginia governor's race."

The Note has watched in amusement in the last 24 hours as national political analysts have gone on TV to say, in effect, "stop us, before we over-analyze again."

Mr. Diaz's wise words notwithstanding, no matter what happens, both parties will spin the results of today's elections.

At this writing, we do not see any broad national political themes emerging in the few electoral contests of interest. These races will indeed be fought and won on local issues and the personalities of those on the ballot. And there will be very little exit polling that will allow us to make broader judgments.

But we are willing to wait for the results and see what emerges. Any party that might win both gubernatorial contests at least earns the right to try out its spin on skeptical ears.

We feel confident in saying that a certain New York City mayor will be stronger tomorrow than he is today, that a certain West Coast governor is likely to be weaker, and that a certain President has got bigger problems to deal with than losing a race or two.

Democrats are defending two open gubernatorial seats in New Jersey and Virginia. Republican Michael Bloomberg is running for reelection as mayor of New York City without any public involvement from the RNC or the White House. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has staked much political capital on four ballot initiatives in California -- also without any public involvement from the national party in his Democratic-leaning state.

President Bush's diminished approval rating caused a couple of Democratic candidates (Corzine and Ferrer) to do their best to tie their opponents to the national party and the President, including with TV advertising, but it is not clear how much of an impact these ads have had on the contests.

In Virginia, polls open at 6:00 am ET and close at 7:00 pm ET. For results: LINK

In New Jersey, polls open at 6:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET. For results: LINK

In New York City, polls open at 6:00 am ET and close at 9:00 pm ET. For results: LINK

In California, polls open at 10:00 am ET and close at 11:00 pm ET. For results: LINK

Many voters across the country will also be electing mayors today including in Detroit, Boston, Houston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Paul, San Diego, and Pittsburgh.

Maine voters will decide whether to repeal a state law banning discrimination against gays. Ohio voters are weighing changes to the way the state draws its congressional districts. Another ballot measure would give an independent panel -- rather than the elected/partisan secretary of state -- oversight of its elections.

New Jersey voters will decide whether the Garden State should create an office for an elected lieutenant governor. Washington is considering a smoking ban. Initiative 901 would ban smoking inside bars, restaurants, mini-casinos, bowling alleys and roller rinks as well as outside those businesses' doors, windows and ventilation systems.

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine was expected to vote at 7:00 am ET at the Hermitage Methodist Home in Richmond, VA. From 11:45 am ET to 1:00 pm ET, he greets voters with Mayor Dough Wilder. He will end his day 12 hours later at the Richmond Marriott.

Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore planned at 10:00 am ET at an elementary school in Glen Allen, VA. He hosts a victory party at the Greater Richmond Convention Center starting at 7:00 pm ET.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver vote at a private residence in Los Angeles, CA at 12:00 pm ET. Schwarzenegger will attend an election night party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel starting at 11:00 pm ET.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was to begin his day voting on 81st Street between Madison and Park. He then holds two last-minute campaign events in Manhattan before ending his day at the Sheraton on 7th and 53rd.

Fernando Ferrer voted at 6:30 am ET in the Bronx. He spends the rest of the day politicking in the Bronx and Manhattan. He wraps his day at the Waldorf Astoria.

Sen. Jon Corzine voted, coffee cup in hand, in Hoboken, NJ at 6:00 am ET. He holds four last-minute campaign events before ending his day at the East Brunswick Hilton.

Doug Forrester cast his ballot around 8:00 am ET in Princeton Junction. He greets commuters at Hamilton train station at 5:15 pm ET and he watches election returns at the Westin in Princeton.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft planned to cast his vote in the 2005 Election at Wolfe Park Shelter House in Bexley at 8:20 am ET.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean hosts an Election Night "watch party" at DNC headquarters starting at 7:00 pm ET.

A bipartisan group of six Senators will begin investigating whether the Bush Administration manipulated or misused intelligence in the run up to the Iraq war at 10:00 am ET. The Republicans serving on this special panel are Sens. Roberts (KS), Lott (MS), and Bond (MO). The Democrats are Sens. Rockefeller (WV), Levin (MI), and Feinstein (CA).

Judge Samuel Alito makes the rounds on Capitol Hill today. He meets with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) at 9:00 am ET, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) at 10:15 am ET, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at 11:30 am ET, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) at 2:30 pm ET, and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) at 4:00 pm ET.

President Bush has a photo opportunity with recipients of the 2005 Nobel Awards at 9:50 am ET. At 10:00 am ET today, the White House counsel's office starts its remedial classes in ethics. Everyone who has any level security clearance must attend.

Republican and Democratic Senators attend their weekly policy lunches on Capitol Hill from 12:30 pm to 2:15 pm ET.

House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-MO) holds his pen-and-pad briefing with reporters at 12 pm ET in H-326.

Timed with today's release of the Energy Information Agency's Winter Fuels Outlook schedule, Sens. Byron Dorgan (ND), Jack Reed (RI), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Hillary Clinton (NY) renew their call for Congress to provide urgent relief for high heating costs.

The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign holds a 7:00 pm ET gala dinner featuring Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace holds its International Non-Proliferation Conference all day at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. Speakers include Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman who delivers the keynote address at 12:30 pm ET and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) (of Nunn-Lugar fame) who speak at 2:00 pm ET.

The House Judiciary Constitution subcommittee holds a hearing on "The Voting Rights Act: Section 203 -- Bilingual Election Requirements, Part I" at 2:00 pm ET in Rayburn 2141.

The TriCaucus, which is comprised of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus, will be joined by community members at 10:30 a.m. ET on the West Front Steps to rally against the GOP's proposed budget cuts health care, student aid, and nutrition assistance.

On the eve of when top oil company executives are set to testify at a rare joint hearing before the Senate Commerce and Energy Committees, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will join Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on an 11:40 am ET conference call to endorse federal anti-gas price gouging legislation.

2005:the big picture:

Peter Baker's must-read Washington Post political analysis on the President's last-minute campaign stop in Virginia includes these powerful and wise quotes: LINK

"'They're going to own the results either way, so why not land the plane?' asked Scott Reed, a Republican strategist who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign in 1996."

Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers: "'Nobody's going to suggest that 'Gee, something happened in Virginia that's an overall tonic for the President's problems,' he said. 'But it would be the absence of bad, and when you're in trouble the absence of bad is the first step toward recovery.'"

And be sure to Note how "some familiar with the thinking in Bush circles" are hinting at the post-mortem talking point in case Kilgore does not pull out a victory. (Hint: it involves Kilgore's alleged shortcomings, rather than the President's.)

The Washington Post's front-page coverage of the final stretch in the gubernatorial contest in Virginia includes Warner/Kaine and Bush/Kilgore photos. LINK

Subject line on an email sent by the Kilgore campaign to supporters at 6:49 am ET: "President Bush: 'Turn out the vote!'"

In his Congress Daily AM column, Charlie Cook gets to the crux of how these two local gubernatorial races may be nationalized in the media:

"In the big scheme of things, though, the importance of today's election is this: the President and the GOP are up to their rear ends in alligators and very little is going right for them. Virtually everything that has ever gone wrong in a president's second term in the White House is going wrong at one level or another right now. Bush's approval ratings are in the tank, an unpopular war is going badly, his legislative agenda and budget are in tatters, his own party members on Capitol Hill are finding it increasingly easy to buck the administration's positions on issues foreign and domestic, and a Supreme Court nominee who couldn't even pass muster with the president's own party members. In addition, there are two significant scandals, CIA leak and Jack Abramoff, that are causing horrible problems and U.S. prestige abroad as low as it's been since the Vietnam War. The White House is also concerned about the security of its congressional majorities."

More Cook: "In short, the GOP badly needs a win, pulling out a statewide victory anywhere -- whether it's a red, blue or green state does not matter -- would at least slow the snowballing anxiety and pessimism that is pervading the party. Of course, two losses would only serve to amplify that angst. Even a split decision might not be enough to provide Republicans with any comfort in this environment."

"Voters in races across the country today will put the Republican Party to its most significant test since President Bush's reelection," writes the Boston Globe's Rick Klein. LINK

The Washington Times does an overview on the "surprisingly close" gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. LINK

2005: Virginia:

The final Survey USA poll in the Virginia gubernatorial contest stirred some controversy and got lots of attention on conservative and liberal blogs. LINK and LINK

. (Note Daily Kos reports Kaine's internal poll numbers has him plus four on election eve.)

The liberal Swing State Project and Daily Kos sites are blogging about some anti-Kaine robo calls being distributed by "The Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC," which they claim appears to be possibly affiliated with the Republican Governors Association. LINK

Here are the links to the initial blog reports and you can also give a listen to the call: LINK

and LINK

. From Swing State Project: "In the final days of the Virginia gubernatorial campaign, the Republican Governor's Association is resorting to disgusting tactics in their support of Jerry Kilgore, even going so far as use robo-calls pretending to come from Tim Kaine."

The story got some pickup on local morning television today.

RGA press secretary Ben Jenkins confirms that the calls have been paid for by the RGA and began going out over the weekend. Jenkins provided The Note with this response: "We're proud to spread Tim Kaine's message that he has broadcast himself in radio ads in Southwest Virginia, but has try to keep hidden from the people of Northern Virginia."

Jenkins disputes the Notion that the recordings have been spliced and diced from various Kaine comments, but instead are created from Kaine's radio ads with perhaps a sentence or two cut out of them.

At yesterday's event in Alexandria, when a reporter showed Kaine his Blackberry suggesting the Democratic lieutenant governor had a large lead over his Republican opponent, Kaine said: "I like the num-bah, I like the num-bah."

The New York Times wraps the final day of campaigning across Virginia, with an eye on what the election may mean for 2006 congressional elections, as well as Warner's chances in 2008. LINK

The Richmond-Times Dispatch has Kaine ending the campaign as he started it eight months ago as Warner's "twin." LINK

The Richmond Time Dispatch describes last night's Bush-Kilgore event which was attended by thousands as "one of the largest political rallies in recent memory." LINK

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star on Kilgore's Bush event. LINK

The Washington Times wraps President Bush's last-minute stumping with Kilgore and Warner's final day rallying for Kaine. LINK

The Washington Times reiterates its support for Kilgore.

Both the Kilgore campaign and the Kaine campaign face fines for two political mailings that allegedly do not provide disclosures appropriately. According to State Campaign Finance Administrator Chris Piper, this is the first time any campaign has been assessed a civil penalty since the political advertisement laws, "Stand by Your Ad," took effect in 2002. LINK

The Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy will be monitoring handicap accessibility at polling places across Virginia, except in Richmond where their request to do so was denied. LINK

The Richmond Times Dispatch says that there has been record breaking spending in Virginia House of Delegates campaigns. LINK

Boston Globe columnist Peter S. Canellos writes that the hot gubernatorial race in Virginia comes at a time "when dowdy old Virginia has become a highly relevant microcosm of the United States." And the magnifying glass on the state could bode well for an outgoing Governor with possible presidential aspirations. LINK

2005: New Jersey:

The New York Times on the race to the finish line in New Jersey: LINK

Deb Orin of the New York Post looks at the "ex factor" in the New Jersey gubernatorial contest. LINK

The Newark Star-Leger reports that 1 in 10 people still have not made up their minds about whether Corzine or Forrester would serve them best as a governor. LINK

In New Jersey, Forrester completed his campaign with a rally at a firehouse in Nottingham, while Corzine completed his campaign "by stumping with organized labor in Lawrence." LINK

The Asbury Park Press is leading with: Voters Glad It's Over. LINK

Roll Call's Lauren Whittington Notes that if Corzine wins today, he would "appoint his successor in the Senate."

The AP looks ahead to the battle among Garden State Democrats to take Corzine's Senate seat should he emerge victorious this evening. LINK

2005: California:

The Los Angeles Times on the "final day of frenzy" in California: LINK

After pouring in a record-breaking $250 million in California's special election campaign, deep-pocket donors don't plan to tighten the purse strings in 2006, according to the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' handy online guide to the propositions on the ballot today: LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle Notes 6.8 million voters are expected to turn out in California. LINK

2005: New York City:

While Ferrer tries to avoid a humiliating defeat, the New York Times' Patrick D. Healy writes that for Bloomberg, "the race has come down to achieving the largest margin of victory possible, thus adding clout to an already powerful City Hall that is determined to aim high in a second four-year term." LINK

After using its front page to declare the race over on Saturday, the New York Post doesn't give Election Day prominent play on its cover this morning. The New York Daily News also plays down today's election on its wood.

"Mike on Brink of History," reads the New York Post headline on the final pre-election poll. LINK

The New York Daily News' Lombardi reminds New York voters that there are other races and ballot measures on which to vote today. LINK

Sen. Barack Obama's tale of high rent woes as a Columbia University student in New York City garnered the lede of the election day installment of the Saltonstall/Saul Daily News campaign column. LINK

2005: Ballot measures:

Bloomberg News provides an excellent clip-n'-save list of 39 ballot measures going before voters in seven states today. LINK

Gay marriage supporters and opponents rally voters to the polls as Texans decided whether to ban same sex marriage from their state constitution. LINK

Alito for Associate Justice:

Alito's senior thesis surfaced yesterday and his advisor Walter Murphy "said he and Alito agree that the 1973 landmark abortion-rights case Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided," according to the Daily Princetonian. LINK

The New York Times looks at the subtle impact of the "interlocking pattern of friendships" between Alito and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), and the competing pressures on the Judiciary Committee chairman over abortion and the confirmation process. Says Specter: "I feel like a lot of people are counting on me, and I don't want to let anybody down. . . But that requires playing it right down the middle and doing my job. LINK

Roll Call's Paul Kane reports that Senate Democrats are not expected to place the Alito nomination "at or even near the top of their message agenda in the coming few weeks," preferring to focus instead on a "three-pronged, interlocking message that hits the White House on security and intelligence issues, energy and high gas prices, and various allegations of corruption in government on the GOP's watch."

Bush Administration and agenda:

Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News puts the Bush-Cheney relationship on the couch, in a page 2 must-read blockbuster that would REALLY be a blockbuster if it appeared in, say, the New York Times. LINK

"Multiple sources close to Bush told the Daily News that while the Vice President remains his boss' valued political partner and counselor, his clout has lessened - primarily as a result of issues arising from the Iraq war."

"'The relationship is not what it was,' a presidential counselor said. 'There has been some distance for some time.'" "A senior administration official termed any such suggestion 'categorically false.'" But that "SAO" quote is counteracted by a number of others, who say things have changed. The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller has this color from the South American trip:

"Mr. Bush, a former managing partner of the Texas Rangers, threw two pitches to Mr. Diaz. The first was a bit inside, and the second was high, but both had some pop, according to the assessment of a small pool of reporters traveling with the President." LINK

The Los Angeles Times finds some discord on the success of the President's final stop in Latin America. LINKM

Big Casino:

Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post looks at the House Republican efforts to get a budget bill passed -- which at the moment appears to have less support than is needed. LINK

Weisman casts the leadership as confident it will pull things out, but some nipping and tucking will be required.

Roll Call's Emily Pierce and Ben Pershing Note that this week's House budget reconciliation vote will "go a long way toward establishing whether the House GOP leadership is in control of the chamber's agenda, or whether leaders will continue to be ruled by whichever party faction appears to be able to give them the winning votes at any particular time."

". . . in a show of the House centrists' power on this particular bill, House Republican leaders are seriously considering eliminating from the bill controversial provisions that would allow oil and natural gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate already passed a bill with such provisions."

The Hill reports that the GOP does not have the votes in the House yet. LINK

Along with other accounts, Laura Litvan of Bloomberg News explores how the House budget bill with $53.9 billion in spending cuts will help determine Congressman Roy Blunt's (R-MO) future as Majority Leader. LINK

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement yesterday on a $30.5 billion energy and water bill that adds $740 million to the President's budget and "effectively erases his deep spending cuts from the Army Corps of Engineers," the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports.

Politics of national security:

"Five suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, including one accused of killing a Special Forces medic, were formally charged with crimes Monday becoming the latest Guantanamo Bay detainees headed for military trials," reports the AP. LINK

"The latest announcement brings to nine the number of Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been charged with criminal offenses."

As Congress zeroes in on detainee abuse, the Pentagon has approved a new directive tightening controls over the questioning of terror suspects and other prisoners by American soldiers. LINK

The Supreme Court will rule on the validity of the use of military commissions to bring detainees charged with terrorist offenses to trial, per the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the same: LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Lane describes the Supreme Court's decision to hear the Hamdan case as one "setting up what could be one of the most significant rulings on presidential war powers since the end of World War II." LINK

"President Bush has claimed broad power to conduct the war against al Qaeda and said that questions about the detention of suspected terrorists, their interrogation, trial and punishment are matters for him to decide as commander in chief."

The Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin and David Rogers report that "with more conservatives embracing" McCain's anti-torture provision, "President Bush may be forced to respond."

The Washington Post's coverage of the President's "we do not torture" response to a question in Panama: LINK

The politics of Iraq:

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post reports that Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Rockefeller are not quite on the same page in terms of their desired approaches to "Phase II" of the Intelligence Committee's work in looking at pre-war intelligence. LINK

Rockefeller, for instance, wants to interview some Adminstriation officials about what they knew when they said what they said.

The Boston Globe's Bryan Bender on the Democratic push for an investigation into the Bush Administration's handling of pre-war intelligence. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Jaffe has U.S. commanders (sounding an awful lot like Sen. Russ Feingold) as they suggest that US troop reductions could "help tamp down the insurgency by persuading fiercely nationalistic Iraqis that the US occupation won't continue indefinitely. These officials argues that the presence of US troops on Iraqi streets has become an irritant."

The Washington Post's Jordan writes up the Christopher Meyer book which claims Prime Minister Blair was "seduced" by President Bush in the build up to the Iraq war. LINK

The AP reports that three members of Congress from Massachusetts, Reps. Stephen Lynch (D), Edward Markey (D), and Martin Meehan (D), who voted for the Iraq war who now say with the knowledge they have today, they regret their decision. LINK

The politics of gas:

Oil executives expect to be grilled at Capitol Hill hearings on Wednesday over their recently-reported record profits, with the industry's traditional Republican allies "eager to demonstrate that they too share their constituents' anger" over high gas prices. LINK

Per Selina Williams and Bhushan Bahree of the Wall Street Journal, the International Energy Agency raised its long-term forecast for oil prices by as much as one-third and painted "a pessimistic picture of the future economy if global use of oil and natural gas isn't reduced."

2008: Republicans: Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and attended a major fundraiser at the U.S. Holocaust museum. LINK

Romney is leaning towards mandating a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, per the Boston Globe. LINK


The Des Moines Register reports that the first TV ad for the governor's race in Iowa was launched on Monday. Gubernatorial hopeful Jim Nussle's ad is running in western Iowa TV markets, home turf of party rival Bob Vander Plaats. LINK

David Yepsen says that the biggest challenge in 2008 is whether the Iowa Democratic Party is going to give the party's presidential candidates a level playing field in Iowa "or whether it's going to put a thumb on the scales for Vilsack." LINK

Dean's Democrats:

When the Democratic Party unveils its vision/plan for 2006 and beyond, the Washington Post's EJ Dionne suggests it includes talk of both governmental and personal responsibilities. LINK


The New York Times says that along with DeLay, the Texas judicial system is also on trial. LINK


The Washington Post's Mosk explores how Michael Steele hopes to win the hearts and votes of Maryland's black electorate. LINK


The Los Angeles Times reports that an IRS threat to revoke the tax-exempt status of Pasadena church because of an antiwar sermon there during the 2004 presidential election "is part of a larger, controversial federal investigation of political activity at churches and nonprofit groups." LINK

Quit to Live:

As part of ABC's "World News Tonight's" unprecedented series on smoking cessation and lung cancer prevention, ABC News has produced a television ad campaign with well-known figures from politics, sports, business, media and entertainment encouraging smokers to "Quit to Live."

Political participants of Note include: President George Bush, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Rev. Al Sharpton.

The spot encourages viewers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the North American Quitline Consortium's national network of quitlines. The number automatically connects callers to their state-based quitline where they can get help with quitting.

The campaign will run throughout November on the ABC Television Network as well as in commercial spots on other networks. You can learn more about the "Quite to Live" series here: