WASHINGTON, March 16 --
When he comes to the podium in the press room at 10:15 am ET, President Bush will open with a statement on all of the Social Security goings-on, and then some discussion on the Iraqi national assembly.
What we expect from the questioning: Social Security, Social Security, nuclear option, nuclear option, nominating Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to be head of the World Bank, Leader DeLay, the budget, Hezbollah, Social Security. And at least two presidential jokes about the media.
Did we mention: Social Security?
In a unanimous vote yesterday, the U.S. Senate affirmed its commitment to foster a "solvent and permanently sustainable Social Security system."
The President -- who helpfully pointed out his own lead on this week's ABC News/Washington Post poll on Social Security -- will probably say that yesterday's Senate votes as evidence that the Congress shares his commitment to find a working, permanent solution to the Social Security, uh, dilemma.
The Senate Democratic caucus might well point out again that the resolution called for a bipartisan solution (as did the head of the Republican Conference, yet again, yesterday, which they say won't be possible so long as personal/private accounts are a central feature of the system).
In another vote, this one 50-50, the Senate blanched at rejecting a Social Security proposal that would cause big benefit cuts or a big increase in the debt.
Which leaves the debate pretty much where it was at the beginning of the day -- although some press coverage suggests that the second vote was bigger than the first and more ominous.
And as Congress prepares to recess for two long weeks, heightened interest group activity on both sides ("grassroots," as the highly paid Washington consultants who plan it like to call it) will probably not move Sen. Lieberman to be any less skeptical about personal retirement accounts or Sen. Chafee to be any more willing to borrow billions of dollars to find them.
If Democrats say that this fight is over, they're not being entirely honest.
Why else would an outside group affiliated with them called Americans United to Protect Social Security be embarking on such an ambitious, mutlimillion-dollar, 29-state, 60-day mobilization to "protect Social Security" if the dog can't and won't hunt?
This fight will be over when Sen. Chuck Grassley tells Jane Norman that he can't get a bill through his committee. But until then, if you're a Republican, be like your business lobby:
Either step up the fight, slowly weaken public resistance to retirement accounts, wait until this fall, win a vote, and get props from the White House and a financial pay-off decades down the road.
Or keep a low profile and hope that President Bush's tiger-like persistence forges a compromise that doesn't do too much political damage.
When the President first enunciated his Social Security principles, business groups, prodded by the White House, said they'd spend millions to influence public opinion. That was predicated on the Administration's announcing its support for a precise proposal early.
"We haven't done it because Bush doesn't have a plan yet," said the Free Enterprise Fund's Steve Moore. "It's hard for anyone to mobilize conservative activists and conservative money until we all know that it's a plan that's worth mobilizing for."
Instead, they've mostly hoarded their cash, believing, alternatively, that public opinion would eventually swing their way, or that their own groups' memberships were too skittish about the tepid response of the public to the President's principles.
Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, said that Bush will continue to sell Social Security "day in and day out" and has given Congress no time-table for sending him a bill to sign.
"It's reflection that, in spite of the Washington black clouds, the president continues to push this and he is not swayed one iota by this," Duffy said.
The Administration's most reliable allies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are telling their friends they do not expect the White House to concede the push for Social Security legislation anytime soon, and they do not believe the upcoming congressional recess will signal a decisive shift in public opinion.
See our Social Security section for more on what pro-overhaul groups will do during the recess.
Two must-reads for the Democratic Party (and those who want to anticipate their moves and/or revel in their angst):
Leslie Gelb writes brilliantly on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal about the vital role Vice President Cheney plays in making the Republican Party the party of toughness that America loves -- and raises the question of where the Democrats can find their own version. LINK
Part political science, part sociology, part anthropology, and part comedy, this is an amazing, breakthrough piece.
And Robert Kuttner uses his Boston Globe column to dissect why Democrats can't seem to replicate their Social Security "success" (so far) on other economic issues. LINK
After his presser, the President meets Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, at 1:40 pm ET.
Vice President Cheney delivers a speech at 6:55 pm ET at the 2005 Bryce Harlow Foundation Award dinner honoring Red Caveney, president of American Petroleum Institute.
At 8:00 am ET, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) holds a pen and pad briefing at the National Press Club on President Bush's Social Security plan and reform.
Also at 2:00 pm ET, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), and House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (R-OH) hold a press conference.
At 9:00 am ET, House Democrats hold a closed party caucus, and at 10:00 am ET, House Minority Leader Pelosi, House Minority Whip Hoyer, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Menendez, and Reps. Clyburn and Spratt hold a stakeout to discuss the budget.
At 1:30 pm ET, Pelosi joins Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, Hoyer, Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, Menendez, Rep. Charles Rangel, and Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to discuss Social Security and the Democrats' plan for the upcoming recess.
But House Republicans are looking to upstage them with an event at 2:00 pm ET, where House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and others will have a 1935 Ford coupe -- the same model year as the enactment of Social Security -- to talk about the need to overhaul the entitlement program.
At 2:00 pm ET, Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) hold a news conference to discuss the Prenatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, advocating that pregnant women facing a positive prenatal test result be more likely to receive up-to-date, scientific information about their child's health.
At noon ET, MoveOn PAC holds a rally to protest the "nuclear option" and launch their TV, radio, and print ads opposing it. Sen. Robert Byrd is scheduled to address the crowd at the Washington Court Hotel, joined by Sens. Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy, and Patrick Leahy. See below for more details on the ads.
At 2:15 pm ET, former Sen. John Edwards meets with private security officers and labor leaders at the SEIU Local 1877 Union Hall in Los Angeles.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt testifies about his agency's FY2006 budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee at 10:30 am ET.
At 10:00 am ET, the House Judiciary Committee meets to mark up the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005; and H.Res. 136, which directing the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to give the House documents related to granting James D. Guckert/Jeff Gannon access to the White House.
At 9:30 am ET, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff speaks on the future direction of the Department of Homeland Security at George Washington University.
Lots of interesting folks talking at the Tax, Budget, and Legislative Policy Seminar sponsored by Baker and Hostetler LLP, Clark Consulting, the Yale Club of Washington, DC and the Harvard Club of Washington, DC: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND); Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Patrick Toomey, president of The Club for Growth; Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP; NRCC chairman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY); Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL); Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ); Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA); Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR); Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR); and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).
Both Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and the sisters and fiancée of Robert McCartney, a Belfast Catholic man who was stabbed by a gang including Irish Republican Army members, are in town. Both meet with Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, director for policy planning at the State Department, and attend the American-Ireland Fund Dinner at the National Building Museum. The McCartney family also meet with Sen. Ted Kennedy and hold a media availability at 11:30 am ET.
At 7:00 pm ET, Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine officially kicks off his gubernatorial bid with a 32-city tour over eight days, beginning in Wise County.
Social Security: the politics:
In the past, Republicans easily assembled grassroots and grass tops coalitions to keep up with their opponents; but there is no natural constituency for them to tap this time. The AARP has helped to make the mail coming in to congressional offices on Social Security run 10-to-1 against change, in some cases.
"Politically, the White House sees the upside as so big, they're willing to grind it out. But members of Congress are ones who have been ground," a top business lobbyist in regular contact with both groups said.
Privately (ha!!), consultants and lobbyists say they would devote little attention to Social Security if the White House hadn't asked for their help, and they say that the Administration and GOP's leadership's prioritization of class action reform legislation and the bankruptcy bill helps ensure their loyalty.
Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, and other leading Republicans allied with the White House have regular conference calls with key lobbyists. One participant says that often the conversation focuses on efforts to keep them on board and give the Administration time. So far, they are, and they will.
Among the plans of the President's allies for the March recess:
--Generations Together, the grassroots campaign of CoMPASS, will continue an aggressive education and outreach effort in place in 28 states.
--Progress for America will continue a multimillion-dollar television ad buy on national cable and coordinate future ads with Generations Together.
--The Chamber of Commerce will work with its regional directors to convince employers to convince their employees to write to members of Congress in support of the President's principles.
--Republican surveys show that AARP is the driving force behind senior's anxiety about the President's plan, so expect a stepped-up campaign to try and discredit them. USA Next plans to send a letter to two million of its members highlighting the AARP's role in a 1984 vote that raised payroll taxes.
--Today, CoMPASS will release a poll by whiz Whit Ayres that purports to show that Democrats are paying a price for not adopting reform principles. It also criticizes the AARP for being out of step.
--The Alliance for Worker Retirement Security plans to continue less visible quiet lobbying efforts. An effective lobbying campaign by the AFL-CIO has kept the AWRS from being a powerhouse. Several AWRS members have dropped out of the coalition, and the AFL-CIO is seen by many on the Hill as the key outside group keeping Democratic discipline in check. (It also helps the AFL-CIO prove to dissidents in its own organization that it's relevant. As in, take that, Andy Stern.)
And the President continues his own nationwide tour. He's been to 15 states so far, as he likes to point out.
AP's Alan Fram reports that while Senators are in perfect agreement that overhauling Social Security is a "vital national priority" that lawmakers should work together to resolve, the party-line votes over how to get it done -- a Republican defeat of a Democratic measure to make it harder for Congress to cut the program without first assuring its solvency, and another Democratic proposal opposing big debt increases or benefit cuts to get it done -- "appeared to signal an eagerness by both parties to attack each other over Social Security rather than take specific, politically risky steps to shore it up." LINK
Roll Call's Chris Cillizza reports that there's a new group opposing the President's Social Security plan, being organized by Harold Ickes and modeled on America Coming Together and the Media Fund, with a load of Democratic power players including Erik Smith, Jim Jordan, Diana Rogalle, and Michael Powell, which "will twin its efforts with the ongoing operations of Americans United to Protect Social Security, a grass-roots organization being run by a handful of former Democratic Senate campaign operatives."
Americans United will handle field efforts, while Ickes, Smith, and Jordan will handle the media, Cillizza reports. And evidently the sales pitch: "On Tuesday, leaders of the two groups presented a blueprint of their plan to representatives of 75 to 100 like-minded groups at the AFL-CIO's headquarters in Washington," and Ickes has met with Sen. Reid and aides to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently.
Speaking of AUPSS and field work, the coalition of liberals and unions working against the President's Social Security overhaul proposals, will spend the upcoming congressional recess holding mass rallies in dozens of targeted districts across the country and plans to mobilize thousands of volunteers in a grassroots-style campaign to cement opposition to personal/private accounts.
Their deal is called "60 Faces over 60 Days." The group will hold rallies featuring "real people" who depend on Social Security. They will try to bracket planned appearances by Republicans in Congress in their home districts, in the hope that the local media will cover the rallies co-equally.
In Pennsylvania, for example, expect every public event featuring Sen. Rick Santorum, whether it's a fundraiser or a Social Security discussion, to be chased and matched by this group.
The budget for the next two months stands at more than $15 million.
They'll formally roll out the details today, at simultaneous press conferences in 16 states. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) will participate in a conference call this morning on the President's plan as well.
The New York Times' Robin Toner and Glen Justice on interest group activity during the recess, including AUPSS' plans to feature Ways and Means Committee members in their rallies. LINK
The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg on the Social Security test vote (50-50 for a resolution opposing deep benefit cuts, et. al.) LINK
The Washington Post's David Ignatius argues -- along with Warren Buffett and Alan Greenspan -- that the Social Security plan the President is proposing is merely a distraction from two other looming economic crises: the trade deficit and the budget deficit. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen turns in a spot-on examination of how the partisan frenzy whipped up on both sides is making more toxic the atmosphere on Capitol Hill and allowing both sides to make both self-centered and self-righteous claims -- not to mention potentially tanking what are already at best difficult movements toward negotiation on issues like Social Security. LINK
And how often do you hear the phrase "drunk with power"? We are certain that Leader Reid didn't mean anything personal by it.
The Washington Post's Chuck Babington looks at what the Democrats' threat to refuse to play ball if the nuclear option goes through really means to Congress -- namely, grinding things to a halt. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins writes that "Pending bills on asbestos, tax cuts, free trade and energy production would be put on hold."
The Boston Globe's Rick Klein focuses on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in the challenge Majority Leader Bill Frist. LINK
"Reid's statement, echoed in a letter he sent to Frist, represents a last-ditch attempt to persuade GOP moderates to buck their party leaders and oppose the effort to eliminate the use of filibusters to stop judicial nominees, a tactic the outnumbered Democrats have used with some success. In recent weeks, frustrated Republicans have ratcheted up their rhetoric over the need for those nominees to get up-or-down votes; their words grew bolder as party leaders became more confident they had 51 senators willing to change the rule."
Roll Call's Paul Kane writes that Sen. Trent Lott, while working with Sens. Santorum and Hatch on whipping the rules change, has also met with Sen. Nelson six times recently to work on a compromise to avoid the train wreck. And, poor thing, sounds like he's thrown up his hands because Sen. Reid's attitude has just plain left Republicans with no other choice.
"Lott has a one-page, three-paragraph draft of his proposed compromise he carries in his coat pocket."
"The basic framework calls for an up-or-down vote on all judicial nominees, which meets the current GOP demand. In exchange, Republicans would admit their role in denying a vote to 60 Clinton administration nominees by delay tactics in the Judiciary Committee -- setting up a certain time frame in which the panel must consider each nominee."
As we Noted above, Sen. Robert Byrd will join other Senators to address a rally of MoveOn.org supporters and launch the group's TV, radio, and print ads. The 30-second TV spots will air in Washington, DC, and in targeted congressional districts, and the group will take out a full-page ad in the New York Times next week.
Script: "Rubber Stamp"
For 200 years, the U.S. Senate has had the same confirmation process for judges
Now Dick Cheney is threatening to do something no
Vice-President has had the arrogance to do: ignore tradition and overturn the rules . . .
. . . turning the Senate into a rubber stamp for corporate judges.
These judges are biased in favor of big business and against people like you.
Just who made Dick Cheney "king."
The Washington Post's Mike Allen and James Grimaldi write that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay defended his travel arrangements and relationships with lobbyists, crying foul on the criticisms and taking aim at both Democrats and reporters as he sought support among his conservative colleagues. In a meeting with journalists, DeLay explained his 2000 vote in favor of gambling interests, saying that it had nothing to do with a trip paid for by a no-profit group that got money from the Indian tribe that runs casinos and another gambling company. The duo then dissect both the 2000 vote and the 2003 vote on a similar bill, in a way that seems to leave room for more reporting and more DeLay responding. LINK
The Leader also basically called the Post a bunch of liars. There's also a handy chart that helps sort out the connections and votes.
The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman throws in the quote to AP by Liz Spayd of the Washington Post saying that the paper hasn't heard any complaints from the Leader's office. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Mary Curtius and Richard Simon write that the heat on DeLay is causing him to reassure some jittery colleagues that he's still an asset rather than a liability, and his party is feeling the pressure. LINK
"Some Capitol Hill Republicans, who declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that the upcoming spring recess, which begins Monday, could deepen DeLay's troubles. If constituents raise concerns with the lawmakers about DeLay -- or if more stories emerge that raise fresh questions about his ethics -- he could face an erosion of support within the GOP, the politicians said."
"One senior House Republican voiced his concerns to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) chief of staff after seeing a front-page story on DeLay in one of his home-state newspapers Tuesday morning."
"'The perception is that we're not in control of the ethics process, that DeLay can do what he wants,' said the lawmaker. 'It's giving the party a bad name . . . This thing is no different and has the same flavor and tone as when we knocked Jim Wright out.'"
And Rep. Wamp goes for the Shays Award and speaks on the record.
"U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's federal leadership political fund apparently coordinated with a Texas committee to deliver $23,000 in contributions to Texas House candidates, according to documents filed in a civil lawsuit," the Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratliffe reports. LINK
"Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), the former chairman of the House ethics committee, said yesterday that he will co-sponsor a bill to repeal or revise changes that Republican leaders made to the committee's procedure at the start of the 109th Congress," The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Patrick O'Connor report.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Rich Morin look at the conflicting results over Iraq in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll -- while a majority of Americans say they think Iraqis are better off today than they were before the war, 53 percent also say the war wasn't worth fighting. Fifty-six percent said they think Iraqis can create a stable government on their own, and the number of Americans who think that democracy could have a better shot in the Middle East as a result is growing. LINK
"Over the past two years, Americans rallied around Bush in the initial stages of the war but grew increasingly disillusioned as stepped-up insurgent attacks a year ago turned the conflict bloodier. Today, Americans offer a more nuanced assessment of the experience there and its impact both on the United States and the Middle East. Deep partisan divisions remain, with Republicans positive about the decision to go to war and Democrats strongly negative."
Bill Kristol -- mastering the obvious -- says facts on the ground trump everything else.
The Washington Post's Justin Blum previews today's vote, and the ugly fight, over drilling for oil in ANWR. LINK
Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes Sens. Kerry and Cantwell's opposition, and the arguments on both sides of the issue. LINK
Big casino budget politics:
The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that a bipartisan group of Senators is looking to take cuts to Medicaid proposed by the President off the table in budget negotiations. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) instead wants to attach an amendment to the budget stating that a commission would work with the Administration and governors to come up with Medicaid changes for FY2007. Which then complicates budget negotiations with the House. LINK
Rep. Nussle's motives are questioned.
The Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann writes that centrists on both sides of the Senate aisle made some progress on paygo, but that both sides could end up without a leg to stand on in terms of claiming the deficit is a priority. LINK
"Failure to pass a budget, which sets spending and revenue targets for bills that Congress will consider throughout the coming year, would be a serious blow to deficit control. Budgets approved last week by the two budget committees would require other Senate and House committees to prepare legislation cutting $32 billion over five years in the Senate version and $69 billion over the same period in the House version."
Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday that Congress must act quickly to shore up Social Security's solvency, saying that not doing anything could lead to budget deficits and economic stagnation -- and again endorsed President Bush's private accounts. LINK
AP picks up Sen. Clinton's spat yesterday with Greenspan. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Maura Reynolds curtain-raises the testimony of baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Capitol Hill tomorrow in the investigation into steroid use, Noting that "The subject is . . . a rare example of a controversy on which Republicans and Democrats see eye to eye. And at a time when Congress is moving into what is expected to be vicious partisan warfare over judicial nominees, members are eager to seize on an issue with bipartisan appeal." LINK
Roll Call's Mark Preston looks at Democrats' efforts to speak more openly about issues of faith and faith in daily life -- with a little help from Rev. Jim Wallis. The question remains, however, if any amount of Bible references will move the debate off abortion and same-sex marriage.
Chairman/Gov. Dean and the Democrats:
We hear that the Democratic National Committee's new organizational chart is just about firmed up. Offers have been made (and accepted) and announcements are imminent. Expect big roles for familiar faces . . . and a few surprises.
The New York Times' Adam Nagourney writes about the evolution of John Kerry and John Edwards, former rivals, then running mates, now rivals again. LINK
"The image of these men heading down parallel tracks as they seek to recharge their political careers is the latest chapter in what many Democrats view as an uneasy relationship between the two party leaders. Although the men went to great lengths in the campaign to present themselves as friends, associates of both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards quoted them as questioning each other's campaign performance."
" . . . Mr. Edwards has begun criticizing major tactical decisions of the Kerry-Edwards campaign last year, saying he disagreed with them at the time. Mr. Kerry's campaign advisers disputed those recollections, and described Mr. Kerry as irritated by what appeared to be a calculated effort by Mr. Edwards to distance himself from the losing campaign."
(We would point out that Edwards regularly turns down the opportunity to trash the Kerry effort.)
This is the most boffo part:
"Some associates of Mr. Kerry said Mr. Edwards had privately assured Mr. Kerry that he would not run for president in 2008 if Mr. Kerry decided to run again, a promise similar to that made by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman to Al Gore after the 2000 presidential campaign. Aides to Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry declined to discuss any conversation between the two men."
Go follow that, Political Reporters of America.
Nick Kristoff says of New York's Junior Senator: "Senator Clinton, much more than most in her party, understands how the national Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself. She gets it -- perhaps that's what 17 years in socially conservative Arkansas does to you." LINK
"Mrs. Clinton is also hard to dismiss as a screechy obstructionist because she's gone out of her way to be collegial in the Senate and to work with Republicans from Trent Lott to Sam Brownback. Senator John Kerry never seemed much liked by his colleagues, while other senators seem to like Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps it's that, according to New York magazine, she surprises other senators by popping up during meetings and asking: Anybody want a coffee?"
But he doubts she can be elected President. "Ambitious, high-achieving women are still a turnoff in many areas, particularly if they're liberal and feminist. And that's not just in America: Margaret Thatcher would never have been elected prime minister if she'd been in the Labor Party."
Reports Marc Humbert: "Hillary Rodham Clinton wants Republican votes 'canceled out by a murderer or rapist' while the GOP is intent on promoting a 'radical political agenda,' according to dueling fund-raising letters sent out by the New York senator and her critics." LINK
At the Georgia Democratic Party's JJ dinner last night, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner "criticized both the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns for focusing only on turning out their party's base rather than reaching out to a broader spectrum of voters," and talked about the need for Democrats to reach out to moderate Republicans and rural voters. LINK
The New York Times' Kevin Flynn profiles powerful Pataki pal (and lobbyist) John O'Mara. LINK
"Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will formally announce his candidacy for governor Wednesday with a call for homeowner tax relief and a promise to improve the state's transportation system, promote excellence in education and maintain discipline in the state budget," report the Washington Post's Michael Shear and Chris Jenkins. LINK
How does a Democrat run against Gov. Schwarzenegger? For Phil Angelides, very very carefully. And with lots of help from labor. LINK
The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson lays out the tasks ahead in Angelides' challenge to Gov. Schwarzenegger. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas writes that the ripples of opposition that Gov. Schwarzenegger is facing, which began with a protest by nurses, is expanding to include teachers, firefighters, and others -- and it's not just small face-to-face demonstrations any more. LINK
Another Wall Street Journal editorial bashing Eliot Spitzer . . . for his clip file.
The Chicago Tribune pushes further on the Hyde retirement story. LINK
Bill Pascoe will join Bret Schundler's gubernatorial campaign in New Jersey as communications director. You'll recall he served as Schundler's campaign manager in 2001 and managed Doug Forrester's Senate campaign in 2002. He also bravely handled duties for Alan Keyes' colorful Illinois Senate bid in 2004.
Gregory Roberts of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that a measure past by Washington's state House yesterday would conduct all of the state's elections by mail ballot only beginning in 2008. The state Senate has passed an earlier version of the measure, and now the two houses need to conference. LINK