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Hot flashes are usually a private matter. Alison Teal shares hers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friends –

O.K. So it was close to an earthquake. It was at least a good sized wave. And it just keeps getting better. In May, when we sent you a note asking you to make a leap of faith and commit to helping candidates we would identify, it seemed like a little project that might have some impact on the margin. By June, when we had identified ten candidates and asked you to actually write checks, many of you did. And by this morning, we were together part of something really important. When we started, no candidate on our list was rated as better than Toss Up by Charlie Cook and there was only one of those. One was Lean Republican, three were Likely Republican and the five others were not even on the list. None of the races was on a targeted list supported by the DCCC. We hoped to encourage candidates who we thought could have an impact on the country now and in the future. All of these candidates and their campaigns gave us reason to be proud. They will give us a base for the future in many districts where we have not really had a presence.

And, today three of them are members of Congress, and two are in recounts or "too close to call." The unsettling truth is that even when the Republicans nominate really terrible people (Bachman in MN6, Sali in ID1, Musgrave in CO4, Lamborn in CO5), they still win where there is a sufficient Republican registration advantage.
We can all be proud to have helped move eight of these candidates within striking distance while forcing the Republicans to spend many millions of dollars and time and effort on races that they had not thought would even be contests. However, we are deeply disappointed that some of the real star quality candidates lost and, at least for us, the consolation is that they will be a continuing presence in their communities and, we hope, candidates in the future.

Jay Fawcett,CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ the late addition to our list lost badly. Let's not go back to Colorado Springs in the future. It got really ugly at the end -- a death threat and vandalized office yesterday and repeated trashing of cars with Fawcett bumper strips. Actually, maybe that’s a reason we have to go back.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ lost. The wave was not an earthquake, the Republicans spent heavily, and he lost 50/45 with the balance to an independent candidate.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ is behind by 373 votes out of about 237,831 votes cast. There is a dispute about voting procedures and may be a recount. This is likely to be a Republican seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ sadly lost. He needed an earthquake and got a wave, 54/45. He is a potential rising star in the Democratic Party and part of a new group of Western Democrats that should be encouraged and supported.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ sadly lost 46/43 with the balance to a minor party candidate. The National Republican Congressional Committee ended up spending over $2,000,000 on this race. She is another potential star in a rising Western Democratic Party.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ lost. He was never able to tie Kirk closely enough to Bush because of Kirk's voting record which is perceived to be moderate and the incredible amount of money it would have taken. Illinois was kind of weird when you also see that Tammy Duckworth lost in a race for an open seat where the DCCC spent millions.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has not been called. Fewer than 800 votes separate the two candidates.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ will be in Washington in January when the new Congress convenes.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ lost fairly badly, 50/42. This is worth some study because she is really an attractive candidate and it seemed like a winnable race. The worst news is that her opponent is both radically rightwing and personally appealing. She, Bachmann, will be as much of a star for the crazy religious Right as we think Wetterling, in a quiet, effective way would be for us.

Sam Brown sbrown@centennialpartners.com
Alison Teal alisonteal@tealdesigns.com and www.hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspt.com
Chuck McLean cmclean@drgi.com
Friends –

O.K. So it was close to an earthquake. It was at least a good sized wave. And it just keeps getting better. In May, when we sent you a note asking you to make a leap of faith and commit to helping candidates we would identify, it seemed like a little project that might have some impact on the margin. By June, when we had identified ten candidates and asked you to actually write checks, many of you did. And by this morning, we were together part of something really important. When we started, no candidate on our list was rated as better than Toss Up by Charlie Cook and there was only one of those. One was Lean Republican, three were Likely Republican and the five others were not even on the list. None of the races was on a targeted list supported by the DCCC. We hoped to encourage candidates who we thought could have an impact on the country now and in the future. All of these candidates and their campaigns gave us reason to be proud. They will give us a base for the future in many districts where we have not really had a presence.

And, today three of them are members of Congress, and two are in recounts or "too close to call." The unsettling truth is that even when the Republicans nominate really terrible people (Bachman in MN6, Sali in ID1, Musgrave in CO4, Lamborn in CO5), they still win where there is a sufficient Republican registration advantage.
We can all be proud to have helped move eight of these candidates within striking distance while forcing the Republicans to spend many millions of dollars and time and effort on races that they had not thought would even be contests. However, we are deeply disappointed that some of the real star quality candidates lost and, at least for us, the consolation is that they will be a continuing presence in their communities and, we hope, candidates in the future.

Jay Fawcett,CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ the late addition to our list lost badly. Let's not go back to Colorado Springs in the future. It got really ugly at the end -- a death threat and vandalized office yesterday and repeated trashing of cars with Fawcett bumper strips. Actually, maybe that’s a reason we have to go back.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ lost. The wave was not an earthquake, the Republicans spent heavily, and he lost 50/45 with the balance to an independent candidate.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ is behind by 373 votes out of about 237,831 votes cast. There is a dispute about voting procedures and may be a recount. This is likely to be a Republican seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ sadly lost. He needed an earthquake and got a wave, 54/45. He is a potential rising star in the Democratic Party and part of a new group of Western Democrats that should be encouraged and supported.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ sadly lost 46/43 with the balance to a minor party candidate. The National Republican Congressional Committee ended up spending over $2,000,000 on this race. She is another potential star in a rising Western Democratic Party.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ lost. He was never able to tie Kirk closely enough to Bush because of Kirk's voting record which is perceived to be moderate and the incredible amount of money it would have taken. Illinois was kind of weird when you also see that Tammy Duckworth lost in a race for an open seat where the DCCC spent millions.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has not been called. Fewer than 800 votes separate the two candidates.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ will be in Washington in January when the new Congress convenes.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ lost fairly badly, 50/42. This is worth some study because she is really an attractive candidate and it seemed like a winnable race. The worst news is that her opponent is both radically rightwing and personally appealing. She, Bachmann, will be as much of a star for the crazy religious Right as we think Wetterling, in a quiet, effective way would be for us.

Sam Brown sbrown@centennialpartners.com
Alison Teal alisonteal@tealdesigns.com and www.hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspt.com
Chuck McLean cmclean@drgi.com

Monday, November 06, 2006

One more day. But it is not going to be a revolution.

Yesterday, a few days late, we got the "October surprise" -- Saddam is guilty. I doubt that this has legs with the voters even though it is now Bush's major talking point. The fact that the verdict was met not with dancing in the streets but with increased sectarian violence should remind people again that getting rid of Saddam is not the same as bringing peace and democracy to the region. I choose to think that people are not so stupid as to be taken in by this. H.L. Mencken observed that "No one in this world, . . .has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby." I think he is wrong but we will know more tomorrow.

There are two disturbing polls in the last two days. A Pew poll released yesterday shows a tightening race on the generic ballot question. That is the one where pollsters ask "If you had to vote today for a Republican or a Democrat, for whom would you vote?" or some variation on that question. A week ago the Pew poll was at 50/39. Yesterday it was at 47/43. ABC/Washington Post and USAToday/Gallup polls show the race at 51/44 and 51/45. The bad news is that the Pew poll has been particularly reliable in the past and it shows momentum going quickly in the wrong direction. Kohut, the Pew pollster said in an interview yesterday that it was not that sentiment had changed but that the Republican voters were more motivated and that shows up as an increase in the percentage among likely voters. However, this generic question is not so important as what is happening in particular districts. There are some we should win (against Pombo and Bilbray in California or Pryce in Ohio) but the candidates in these districts are not strong. There are some where the Republicans have been totally blind-sided by strong Democratic candidates in traditional Republican strongholds. Below is the final summary on the eleven races you have supported. Last week one of the campaign managers told a reporter "the only reason they are still in the race is because of early money received from 'angels' who dropped out of the sky". So thank you angels.

We all think that what we have done together has been fun. We hope you do too and that tomorrow it will matter.

Jay Fawcett, CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ This is a particularly fluid race. Some think it is a toss up and that the impact of the resignation of Ted Haggard yesterday will further alienate Republican voters and keep them home. Others point out that, to win in the district Fawcett has to get 90+% of the Democratic vote, about 25% of the Republican vote and 70% of the independents. That is a pretty steep requirement. Cheney was in the district on Friday where he said that electing Fawcett "would hurt America's chances in the war on terror and would bring higher taxes and slower economic growth to the country". Who would have guessed that sending an Air Force Academy graduate and retired officer would bring joy to the heart of Osama? Yesterday I read a comment that said roughly "if Democrats win thirty or more seats that is not a wave of support - waves recede. Thirty or more is an earthquake where there is a permanent shift in the underlying structure". I agree, and if we win this one it will be the sign of a major earthquake, not a wave of support.

Gabrielle Giffords, AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ will be in DC in January when the new Congress convenes.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ Cheney has been to this district twice. There is no new polling data and the last one showed a dead heat. Again, the need to get really big numbers of Republican votes in order to win suggests that it remains an uphill slog. But you have to love that the Republicans are spending the VP's time, and their money and anxiety on a district they thought was solidly theirs. Grant has run a terrific campaign and has benefited from the excesses of his opponent. Another earthquake race.

Paul Hodes, NH1, www.hodesforcongress.com/ finally climbed to the "toss up" column in Congressional Quarterly and was cited by the NYT yesterday as a bellwether race. This is one we can win. Polls close at 7:00 EST.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ now leads narrowly in the polls. The campaign against her by her self-funded opponent is so nasty it seems to be helping Jennings. She could win.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ The strength of this campaign forced a visit from Bush yesterday. The Republicans and the Club for Growth have also spent heavily on negative ads attacking Kleeb. For its part the DCCC also has directed dollars into the district largely on negative ads attacking Smith. Kleeb has run only positive ads. Another earthquake race but one that would not be a race at all if it were not for the strength of the candidate and the campaign.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ is now running dead even in a poll from the same firm that showed her down by ten points two weeks ago. Bush was in the district for the second time on Saturday. Republicans have now spent $1.7 million on this race. Democrats welcomed Bush to the District and Paccione said that "if she (Musgrave) wants to tie herself to an unpopular President that's her problem." Bush's approval in the district is at about 40%. Interestingly, Bush did not spend time talking about Musgrave's signature issue of gay marriage. Although Ted Haggard has frequently been to the White House he didn't get an invite to Greeley for the rally.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ has no new data after the dust-up about the Kirk staff member letter and the Mikva lawsuit. This is a race where Seals has run a good race but it may not be enough. Kirk has distanced himself from the President and Seals has not had the money in a very expensive market to hang the President around Kirk's neck.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ has been the target of negative advertising, push polls (Would you be more or less likely to vote for him if you knew that Trauner is "pro-abortion and would legalize euthanasia?") and the repeated kind ministrations of the Veep. Trauner has followed a strategy of being relentlessly positive in the face of a relentlessly negative opponent. The Casper Star-Tribune, on the heels of yet another Cheney visit, endorsed Trauner yesterday. Again, an earthquake race but one that will be won, if it is, by the strength of the candidate and the campaign.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ has been endorsed by the newspapers in most cities in his district -- Mankato, Worthington, Winona and Albert Lea -- as well as by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But Gutknect retains a good reputation for constituent services and delivering for the district. If Walz has succeeded in making this a race about the war and national issues, he wins. If it is all local, he loses.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ has not been going well in the last several days. In the polls she has been ahead by as much as 8% but the dynamic now seems to have switched and, although there are no new public polls, the growing consensus among pundits is that Bachmann is leading. It is unimaginable that Wetterling, who is such an attractive candidate and is running against such a jerk -- but an attractive, personable jerk -- could lose. But it appears that, when faced with two seemingly o.k. candidates, each of whom has pretty relentlessly attacked the other, Republicans will fall back to being Republicans. This has been a messy, expensive race and is likely to be a cliff hanger tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dear Friends -

Well, here we are less than a week from the election. Charlie Cook has now caught up with Chuck, Sam and me and says there are more than 60 races in play -- which is what we have been saying since January. Yes, January. Yesterday he changed the ratings on Paccione in CO4 (Lean R to Tossup), Fawcett in CO5 (Likely R to Lean R), Walz in MN 1 (Lean R to Tossup), Kleeb in NE3 (Likely R to Lean R), Hodes in NH2 (Lean R to Tossup), Trauner in WY (Lean R to Tossup). So six of the eleven candidates we have been supporting moved one step closer yesterday. Four of the other five moved earlier: Giffords in AZ8 and Jennings in FL13 to Lean D, Grant in ID1 to Lean R, and Wetterling in MN6 to Tossup. Poor Dan Seals is still stuck at Likely R according to Cook. He also said, "Every day, every hour, we keep waiting to see whether something will alter the trajectory of this election, which now seems headed toward costing the GOP at least four -- more likely, five or six -- Senate seats, as well as at least 20, and perhaps as many as 35 or more, House seats." For a race-by-race update on the races we have been supporting see below or check at hotflashesfromthecampaigntrail.blogspot.com. But first please bear with me while I paint a less rosy scenario.

I have written before about the impact of the Republican Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation that gives them an effective edge of 2-4% in any race. So all those places where the margin is within this range could end up in the R column. This is most of the close races. I have also written about inherent advantage of incumbency with many people hating the Congress but loving their member of Congress. And I have written about the structural advantage the Republicans have through past redistricting which effectively takes many seats out of play (although not as many as they thought). Recently a Republican strategist was quoted in Time as saying, "There are 41 districts held by a Democrat that Bush carried, and 14 seats held by Republicans that Kerry carried. You see it in the open seats, where Bush carried 18 of the Republican open seats and Kerry carried two. So we're fighting on better turf." And one particularly disturbing factor is that Republican requests for and returned absentee ballots in many districts are running at higher levels than in 2004. In some districts up to 35% will vote prior to election day by either absentee ballot or early voting at designated polling places. So a part of the game is already behind us regardless of the dynamic of the next week. If you add up all these factors, it is hard to share the conclusion that we will control the House and maybe the Senate. My own view is that some of this unwarranted optimism has actually backfired and is motivating the Republican base to vote and making the Democratic voter more lethargic. We could still lose this one.

But within that grim picture there are many bright spots. A recent Newsweek poll concludes that many of the nastiest attack ads may be either ineffectual or backfiring. And that revulsion seems to be stronger to Republican ads than Democratic ads. This may play out particularly in districts like CO4 where the attacks on Angie Paccione have been way over the top. The Republican National Campaign Committee (RNCC) is now spending heavily in Districts that were, only a couple of weeks ago, thought to be safe for them. This suggests they have internal polling saying they need to shore up these Districts. Bush's approval ratings seem to be steady in the high ‘30’s, which is lower than Clinton in 1994. Bush's campaign schedule is taking him to unlikely places (see below) and the public's view of Congress is even more negative than their view of the President, which should work against incumbents. Finally, the DCCC and the DSCC are both outraising the Republicans. A recent article noted that business interests have steadily increased the share of their contributions that go to Democrats. So they at least feel the need to hedge their bets. Finally, on the ground, the energy level in all these districts is very high.

For those of you who are really political junkies I suggest you keep an eye on the following races as a bellweather. Early poll closing in Indiana and Kentucky at 6:00 EST should give us some sense of what is going on. The Ellsworth/Hostettler, Hill/Sodrel and Donnelly/Chocola races in Indiana (all listed as Toss up against incumbent R's) and the Yarmuth/Northrup and the Davis/Lucas (Toss up) and Lewis/Weaver (Lean R) races in Kentucky will give an early read. Virginia closes at 7:00 and the Webb/Allen race will give a good sense of where the Senate is going.

Your contributions to these races now total $362,000. Thanks to all of you. If you can do more, all of the races below will use it well, but it needs to be done on the web. And soon. Please, let us know if you contribute.

Jay Fawcett, CO5, www.fawcett4congress.com/ The most recent poll in this district is a set back for Fawcett. The same firm that showed them in a tie at 37% earlier this month now has Lamborn leading 47/40 with a margin of 5%. So an optimist could say that it could actually be Lamborn at 42 and Fawcett at 45. But down that path lies madness. The Republicans -- and Lamborn -- are running a series of really despicable attack ads. Cheney is in Colorado Springs on Friday. A respected local academic speculated that all the talk of a possible Democratic victory had fired up the Republican base. One encouraging element in both the Colorado races is that the Democratic candidate for Governor is running strong and there is no Senate race so without a strong Republican at the top of the ticket we may be better able to get out our voters. But that is a thin reed.

Gabrielle Giffords AZ8, giffordsforcongress.com/ still appears to be a lock. Her opponent is attacking on a land deal. The Arizona Daily Star says the charge is "false based on city records and interviews with city officials." Her opponent refuses to pull the ad. Some people have no shame. But it appears that Graf will have many years as a private citizen to contemplate his sins. Giffords is in good shape and needs no contributions.

Larry Grant, ID1, www.grantforcongress.com/ is in a statistical dead heat according to a poll this week. Sali leads 39/37 but there is a huge undecided. The Idaho Statesman noted that "Democrats haven't won a governor's race since 1990 or a seat in Congress since 1992, but a call for change nationally is reaching Idaho. Coupled with Republican candidates who inspire negative feelings, Democrats have a shot." The Republicans and their allies, the Club for Growth and the National Right to Life Committee have spent about $600K in the district. Cheney is in the district this week for Sali. Remember the words of the GOP speaker of the Idaho House about Sali, "that idiot is just an idiot." So Cheney will fit right in.

Paul Hodes (NH1) www.hodesforcongress.com/ is, at long last, in the toss up column with Cook. CQ still hasn't caught on. The DCCC has come in big time spending approximately $1M on media for Hodes. They, at last, get it. Hodes fundraising is going well allowing them to increase their media buys and, with some DCCC dollars, he should have a robust GOTV effort. After staying aloof through the whole campaign, Governor Lynch is finally on board, which is great news since he’ll probably pull over 70% next Tuesday. A new poll has Hodes up 50/47 with very good "solid support" numbers and strong numbers among those who say they are certain to vote.

Christine Jennings, FL 13, www.christinejenningsforcongress.com/ has had substantial fundraising success. But she has done it the hard way with contributions under the legal limit. Her opponent has taken the easy route -- he has given $5.4 million to himself. This triggered the so-called "millionaire's rule" which allows Jennings to accept up to $6300 from an individual rather than the usual limit of $2100. This race, which is closing in on $10M, is within striking distance of being the most expensive congressional race in history. The DCCC is spending serious money here. In the polls, it is a statistical dead heat. Remember this is Kathryn Harris' old district so both the Republican GOTV operation and the voter suppression operation are likely to be in full force. It would be sweet indeed to win this seat.

Scott Kleeb, NE3, www.scottkleeb.com/ has also been the subject of several national articles including in the NYT. The NRCC has bought ads in the district and W himself is coming to Scottsbluff and Kearney on Sunday. There is no question that this is a race the Republicans could never imagine would be close. Yesterday the Kearney Hub, a major newspaper in the district, endorsed Kleeb with an editorial titled "Third District needs someone to command a larger stage" describing him as a "a Nebraska cowboy with a Yale PhD." Momentum is clearly with Kleeb but that may not be enough. The Senate race here trumps all other news in spending, in visibility and in national attention. It appears that Nelson will win but his margin will be in the East and he is not likely to carry the third district so there is little boost for Kleeb. In anticipation of the President's visit Kleeb issued a press release welcoming him to the Third District and saying that he hoped he would be invited to the events. Not likely.

Angie Paccione, CO4, www.angie2006.com/ is caught in dueling polls one showing her marginally ahead, one slightly behind. The most recent shows her up 48/45. The same firm's earlier poll showed her down by 6%. The NRCC has dumped big dollars into the race after polling the district earlier in October. But the DCCC is shifting money from the CO7 where Perlmutter appears to be in good shape to CO4 to support Paccione. Meanwhile the President will be in the district on Saturday. Unlike some of the other races (such as NE3 where the President is probably an asset for the Republican), the Paccione campaign thinks his visit ties nicely to their theme that Musgrave is in lockstep with the President and out-of-touch with Colorado. It is thought that a lower than anticipated absentee vote spurred the President’s visit. The GOTV operation appears to be strong and Paccione is still buying media. This will be a nail-biter.

Dan Seals, IL10, www.dansealsforcongress.com/ has a new poll from Majority Watch showing him leading 48/46. More than 700 people showed up for their lone debate. The DCCC is now engaged and is supporting direct mail efforts and is doing e-mail fundraising. Obama is there on Monday for a GOTV rally. The "dish" for the week is that a staffer for Kirk, the incumbent, sent a letter to Tel Aviv University saying that the support for Seals by the Chair of the Tel Aviv University American Council, Robert Schrayer, could have a "bad effect" on the University and that "revenge is a dish best served cold." Today Abner Mikva, who held the seat in the 10th for many years requested a federal investigation since the note "may have violated state and federal law that criminalizes intimidate, threatening or coercing members of the public in an attempt to thwart the free expression of their vote." Makes you love Chicago.

Gary Trauner, WY-AL, www.traunerforcongress.com/ is behind Barbara Cubin by only 44/40 in a poll commissioned by the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle of Cheyenne. And the last portion of the polling, conducted after the confrontation in which she told the wheel chair bound Libertarian candidate that "if you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face" showed a drop in her numbers. This week an old friend and journalist here in Washington said that whenever people who cover Congress discuss the members that Cubin is always in the running for stupidest member. Sure seems like it. Trauner could still pull this one out but it remains a long shot.

Tim Walz, MN1,www.timwalz.org/ is a dead heat in the polls. Kerry was supposed to be in the District this weekend but, after yesterday, he discovered that he had conflicting appointments and won't be campaigning for a few days. But he has raised real money for Walz and the campaign has nearly matched the incumbent in money raised. Polling shows him down 50/47, within the margin of error. The campaign here is an energetic one and the GOTV operation should be solid. But it is very hard to defeat an incumbent who poses as a moderate.

Patty Wetterling, MN6, www.pattywetterling.com/ is up in one poll, down a bit in another. All the polls show this race a dead heat. This is a conservative district but it is hard to imagine that it is so far to the right that it would elect a wingnut like Michelle Bachman. Wetterling has outraised Bachman almost two to one in a very expensive race (about $6M total so far), not counting the $1.5M the RNCC has spent for Bachman or the $330K the DCCC has spent for Wetterling. This is a race we should win, but there is no guarantee we will.

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