WASHINGTON, June 7
Ordinarily, there is nothing more annoying than reading press releases from the congressional campaign committees of both parties.
They tend to be filled with over-the-top spin, dumb jokes, macho indirection, and juvenile taunts.
These releases are so dumb, in fact, that we stopped reading them long ago.
However, a team of curfew-violating Googling monkeys in need of punishment are regularly assigned to read them, filtering through for ones we need to see.
So regarding last night's victory by Republican surfer/lobbyist Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby in a special election for the U.S. House seat formerly held by convicted Republican Duke Cunningham, we believe that National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds has the best summary of the Higher Meaning of a 1/435th-sized tea leaf.
Before recognizing the Gentleman from New York for 5.8 seconds, recall that:
1. The only storyline that matters in politics the rest of the year is whether Republicans keep control of both the House and the Senate.
2. The Democrats still don't actually have enough Senate seats in play to take control of the Senate (or a national message).
3. Most of all, the question is: in the close races will the Republicans institutional advantages trump what all agree will be a sour national climate for the party?
So, Chairman Reynolds, tell us what Message the people of one San Diego-area congressional district wanted to make sure that the lunchtime crowd at the Palm all heard:
"National Democrats must come to terms with the fact that momentum for the midterm elections will not materialize simply because they preordain it in the media or because they ask their special interest friends to buy it for them.
"The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion (sic) that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues."
The Democratic on-the-record and not-so-on-the-record responses (the Republicans were forced to put a lot of resources in the race, Bilbray underperformed Bush 2004, Busby's last-minute gaffe was costly and she wasn't such a great candidate, it's a very conservative district and Democrats will pick up our seats in Bluer quarters, look at how Busby performed with independents, etc...) are, trust us, not worth a warm bucket of anything.
Bottom line: Bilbray's victory shows that although Republican incumbents are running in a nasty national environment and although they are expected to lose some seats in November, the GOP is still favored to hold onto its majorities in both chambers because of several baked-in-the-cake advantages, including money, few retirements, safely-drawn seats, and a party apparatus that is adept at turning campaigns to local issues and turning out voters through micro targeting and hard work.
Finally, other Things We Now Know:
1. That "unfavorable political climate Republicans face" referred to twice by RNC political director Mike DuHaime in a memo to "interested parties" has not changed overnight.
2. Casting a candidate as a "lobbyist" is not enough to turn a Red district Blue.
3. Charges of a "culture of corruption" do not (necessarily) turn a Red district Blue.
4. The RNC's 72-hour program is not dependent upon a favorable political climate for success.
5. Tis true: the NRCC is not going to be in a position to spend $4.5 million in every Republican incumbent district in which Bush received 55% of the vote or less.
6. Matt Dowd and Steve Schmidt have themselves a "choice" election.
7. Conrad Burns clearly hopes he has a "choice" election.
As for the robo-caller to whom Chairman Reynolds kindly tipped his hat, President Bush wakes up in Omaha, NE and visits Catholic Charities -- Juan Diego Center at 8:55 am ET. The President makes his remarks on comprehensive immigration reform at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha at 9:40 am ET. (The AP has details on protest preparations: LINK)
President and Mrs. Bush plan to attend the 2:45 pm ET swearing-in ceremony of Gov. Kempthorne (R-ID) as Interior Secretary on the South Lawn of the White House.
When the Senate reconvenes this morning, it will immediately resume consideration of the motion to proceed to the Federal Marriage Amendment. Under the order, there will be one hour for debate prior to a vote on cloture.
At 10:00 am ET, the Senate will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the marriage amendment.
Following the cloture vote, the Senate will stand in recess until noon ET in order for members to attend the joint meeting with the House to hear from Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
Sens. Allard (R-CO), Hatch (R-UT), Graham (R-SC), Brownback (R-KS), Burns (R-MT), and Vitter (R-LA) hold a press conference on the marriage amendment after cloture vote.
Sens. Conrad (D-ND), Lieberman (D-CT), and Obama (D-IL) hold a 10:15 am ET press conference to oppose the full repeal of the estate tax.
Cloture was filed on the estate tax repeal bill yesterday. Debate is expected this afternoon with a vote scheduled to likely take place tomorrow. "Vote-counters on both sides express optimism they will prevail but caution that some senators probably will not commit until required to cast a vote," reports the AP's Dalrymple. LINK
The House GOP caucuses this morning and the Republican leadership plans to go before cameras following the meeting at 10:00 am ET to discuss energy independence, fiscal responsibility, and economic competitiveness.
Rep. Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leaders will also address the press at 10:00 am ET, following their caucus meeting. Their agenda according to the release: "affordable health care, bringing down energy costs, strengthening the economy, and addressing rising war costs and deficits-in contrast with Republican divisive and partisan political priorities."
Topics not mentioned in either advisory: CA-50 results, Rep. Bill Jefferson, and Tom DeLay's au revoir feast.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) kicks off the official general election season with a campaign bus tour through Samoa, Redding, Chico, and Auburn, CA. The AP has more details for you: LINK
Sens. Clinton (D-NY) and Landrieu (D-LA) address New America Foundation's event "Beyond Censorship: Policies and Technologies to Give Parents Control Over Children's Media Consumption" in Washington, DC at 11:00 am ET.
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) addresses the Japan Society annual dinner at 6:30 pm ET in New York City.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) swears in the members of the Health Insurance Connector Authority Board and makes brief remarks prior to the board's first meeting at 9:00 am ET in Boston, MA.
Please be sure to check out other Wednesday daybook items below.
On Imus this morning, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Noted that Bilbray's victory despite his current job as a lobbyist is especially disconcerting for the Democrats' hope to push the "culture of corruption" slogan in the mid-term elections.
The Los Angeles Times' Perry and Tempest write of much speculation on what Bilbray's win "may portend about the GOP's hold on Congress." LINK
While Noting that conservative talk show hosts "burned up Southern California airwaves this week with charges that Busby was encouraging illegal immigrants to vote," the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman has one Democratic Party official saying: "she needed a flawless finish to pull this off." LINK
Bloomberg's Keil and Chipman Note that Bilbray's victory over Busby is encouraging news for Republicans, but it doesn't necessarily mean smooth sailing in November. LINK
Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, Republican Brian Bilbray knew all along that his "long focus on illegal immigration would pay off" against Democrat Busby. LINK
The AP's Allison Hoffman writes that Bilbray's close win will allow him to serve the remaining seven months of Cunningham's term and soon after will face Busby once again in November. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era results:
"While Tuesday's political stakes were high, voter interest in the primary was at a record low," write Marinucci, Martin, and Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK
Steve Westly conceded to Phil Angelides at about 4:15 am ET. LINK
The first general election email fundraising appeal to hit our inbox from the Angelides campaign arrived 29 minutes later at 4:44 am ET.
The Los Angeles Times' Finnegan and Barabak lede with Angelides saying: "I will not let you down." LINK
The AP's Laura Kurtzman on Angelides' promise to "fight. . . for the California of our dreams" this November against Gov. Schwarzenegger. LINK
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza sees yesterday's California results as helping Gov. Schwarzenegger since Angelides, in Cillizza's view, is a "traditional liberal with little natural charisma." LINK
In a must-read, Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times reports that a revved up Gov. Schwarzenegger is "considering airing campaign ads this week, according to people familiar with his reelection bid." LINK
Question: does the incumbent's campaign go to war with Big Labor or try to divide and conquer?
The Los Angeles Times' Eric Bailey reports on ex-Gov. and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown's (D-CA) primary win in his fight to return to statewide office for the first time in 20 years. LINK
Also, by a vote of 61% to 39%, California voters rejected Proposition 82, the universal pre-K initiative backed by Rob Reiner. LINK
2006: Montana results:
In a sharp change from all preliminary polls, state senator Jon Tester "routed" state auditor John Morrison in the Democratic primary and will face Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) in November. The Billings Gazette has the story. LINK
From Burns' victory statement last night: "I know that reading the paper everyday has been hard on Republicans over the last 6 months. This election started early with some false attacks and mudslinging. As your Senator, I want you to know that I have done nothing wrong and I intend to continue to vigorously defend my record. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight in the months ahead."
He then went on to espouse his values which he said "Ted Kennedy and the boys back east don't share," in his attempt to make sure it is a "choice" election in Montana.
"The boys back east" is not, sources familiar with Burns' thinking say, a reference to The Note.
2006: Iowa results:
Chet Culver's narrow victory for the Democratic nomination for governor indicates a turn away from Gov. Tom Vilsack, per the Des Moines Register. LINK
It is also the biggest day for Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School since John Harwood got the CNBC gig or Wonder Woman spoke at graduation.
Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register has the results in battleground IA-01 and Notes how Scott county helped put Whalen over the top in the GOP primary and the squeaker of a contest on the Democratic side. LINK
2006: Alabama results:
Co-workers Gov. Bob Riley (R-AL) and Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley (D-AL) easily won their respective primaries and will face each other in the general election, reports the Birmingham News. LINK
2006: New Jersey results:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Republican challenger Tom Kean, Jr. won their primaries with flying colors, per the Newark Star-Ledger. LINK
Assemblyman Albio Sines (D-NJ) is headed to Congress. LINK
While Kean easily won the Republican nomination for Senate yesterday, the fact that his more conservative challenger received 24 percent of the vote may "cause concern about the firmness of conservative support for Mr. Kean in November," per the New York Times. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The New York Times on Sen. John Warner's (R-VA) letter to the Pentagon announcing his plans for hearings into the deaths in Haditha: LINK
"Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel -- including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force -- were among the data stolen last month, federal officials said yesterday, raising concerns about national security as well as identity theft," the Washington Post's Tyson and Lee report. LINK
Politics of same sex marriage:
Supporters of the marriage amendment expect about 52 votes today (they need 60) on a motion to suspend debate and force a final vote, per the Washington Times' Amy Fagan. LINK
The New York Times' Carl Hulse on why some Republicans are wary of the debate on same-sex marriage and other social issues. LINK
Interesting placement and choices of people to quote. Over to you, Mr. Bozell.
Estate tax politics:
The New York Times' Edmund Andrews writes that Majority Leader Bill Frist's refusal to consider compromises in the estate tax repeal debate "has divided Republicans." LINK
Bloomberg News' Donmoyer reports that Sen. Grassley says Republicans are just three or four votes short of winning full repeal of the estate tax. LINK
Politics of immigration:
The New York Times on Bush's attempt to "win back the trust of conservatives" during his visit to the border yesterday: LINK
Gov. Janet Napolitano's (D-AZ) veto yesterday of a bill that would have given the police power to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges just for being in the state was her 115th veto in the last three years. LINK
The Albuquerque Journal's Rene Romo outlines the President's border security plan during his visit to eastern New Mexico yesterday. LINK
Bush received bipartisan support in New Mexico for his immigration reform push, writes the AP. LINK
Rep. Jefferson is being afforded the opportunity to address the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee today at 5:00 pm ET.
The New York Times on the Jefferson/Nigerian alleged bribery angle: LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff takes to the New York Times op-ed page to explain the rationale for how grants were distributed under his department's controversial Urban Areas Security Initiative. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Phillips and Rogers Note the struggle between President Bush and Congress on where billions in foreign aid funds will be relegated.
The New York Times' Patrick Healy details William Weld's thought process as he decided to drop out of the Republican primary for governor in New York, including his feeling of betrayal by Gov. George Pataki and how he contemplated creating his own political party. LINK
The New York Times' Michael Cooper offers a post-mortem on Weld's "humbling comedown." LINK
The New York Post headlines its Weld coverage, "Boston Flee Party." LINK
The New York Daily News on the same: LINK
Brian Mooney of the Boston Globe Notes Sen. Kerry's disappointment with Weld's decision to step down from the campaign. LINK
Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza on Weld: "Sam Houston's place in history is safe for now." LINK
GOP gubernatorial contender Lynn Swann has launched a donation contest on his website -- The winning prize? A day with him on the trail. LINK
Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) doesn't appear much concerned that he has the second worst voting attendance record in Congress. The Miami Herald has the story. LINK
The New York Times reports the chairman of the New York State GOP will ask KT McFarland to drop out of the Republican primary for the state's Senate seat today, although her advisers say she will refuse. LINK
Mark "Front Page" Leibovich goes four for four in the New York Times with his profile of the Florida Senate candidate who is "undaunted by a run of horrific poll numbers" (hint: her name is Katherine Harris), including a quote from Rep. John Mica (R-FL) that is sure to make Karl Rove's head spin. LINK
In case you thought a comfortable lead in the polls (or yet another not-so-glowing Katherine Harris profile), would keep the heated rhetoric to a minimum in the Florida Senate race, think again. Sen. Nelson's spokesman calls Rep. Harris a "bribe-taker" with "no credibility whatsoever," reports the Orlando Sentinel. LINK
The Hill sizes up the tough reelection battle ahead for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
The Union Leader's DiStaso has some details on the New Hampshire Democratic Party fundraiser Bill Clinton is expected to headline on June 27. LINK
Dick Morris opines in The Hill on Al Gore and Rudy Giuliani as the spoilers of the 2008 presidential election. LINK
The Milford Daily News' Steve LeBlanc writes up Gov. Romney's recent Charlie Rose appearance in which he said he would be willing to talk about his Mormon faith in broad terms while on the presidential campaign trail. Romney then added, "'But then as you get into the details of doctrines, I'd probably say, 'Look, time out.'" LINK
The Washington Post's Libby Copeland turns in a must-read on Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-KS) "higher calling." LINK
It's all in there: the Catholic conversion, the apology to Sen. Clinton for "having despised her and her husband," the washing of the feet of a departing staffer, and the effort not to judge people.
The Washington Times' Greg Pierce writes up Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R- CO) presidential straw poll victory (with 18 percent of 325 votes) in Macomb County, MI. LINK
The New York Times and New York Post on former Gov. Mark Warner's comments to NY1 possibly questioning whether Sen. Hillary Clinton has "widespread enough appeal to prevail in a national race." LINK and LINK
(Ellen Qualls is quickly becoming a huge fan of the New York political press corps.)
Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star reports on Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) opposition to the marriage amendment in the Senate despite his belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman. LINK
Casting and counting:
The New York Times ed board castigates Ohio Secretary of State (and Republican gubernatorial hopeful) Kenneth Blackwell for his "draconian" new rules about voter registration drives. LINK
In an interview with USA Today, outgoing Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) "criticized his Republican colleagues for 'panic, depression and woe-is-me-ism,' and predicted they will lose control in November 'if they continue the attitude they have right now.'" LINK and LINK
Keying off a new disclosure, the Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports that the DeLay family's ties with lobbyist Edwin Buckham exceed $490,000. LINK
The Washington Post on Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht's denial that he violated the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct by giving more than 120 media interviews about Harriet Miers. LINK
David Wedge of the Boston Herald reports that Rhode Island Republicans are receiving hate mail from supporters of Rep. Patrick Kennedy who are angry with GOP calls for the Democrat to step down from office. LINK
Other Wednesday schedule items:
At noon ET, the Democratic Leadership Council hosts Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, partners at American Environics, and co-directors of the Breakthrough Institute, to discuss their research into social values trends "that underlie today's conservative majority. Their research reveals the complex and surprising ways in which both economic prosperity and insecurity shape values, beliefs, and worldviews."
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies on oil dependence and economic risk before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 9:00 am ET.
On this day after Bill Weld dropped out of the race, New York State Democratic Chairman Denny Farrell plans to "preview the case against GOP gubernatorial candidate John Faso" at 11:00 am ET in Albany, NY.