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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Evans-Novak Political Report for May 31, 2006

Behold the stupid losers of the Repansycan Party! They've had it pretty good since the early 1980's, but time and power have corrupted them. Most of them accentuate the Pansy and have abandoned the Republic.

Congress:

Immigration: A proposed immigration compromise by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) was met with derision by anti-immigration Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who accused Pence of taking an "immigration U-Turn."

Pence's plan would require illegal aliens to self-deport before applying for a guest-worker program, and it would enact almost all of the border security bill passed by the House earlier this year. Pence's phones were ringing off the hook after Tancredo directed supporters to call him.

Importantly, though, a subtle change in the debate has taken place. Supporters of looser immigration standards have succeeded in separating the concept of "amnesty" from the concept of a "guest-worker" program. Increasingly, House conservatives are warming up to the idea of a guest-worker program that does not include a path to citizenship -- much like Pence's plan. This could slightly alleviate the damage immigration does to Republicans in November. But there is still very little chance that any bill will pass both houses and be signed into law this year.


Congressional Raid: Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) irate response to the FBI's raid on Rep. Jefferson's office was surprising to many of his fellow Republicans, but it comes in the context of Hastert's constant frustration in dealing with the White House. Bush's shoddy treatment of former CIA Director Porter Goss, formerly a Republican congressman from Florida, has escalated the bad feelings between the two branches.

Jefferson allegedly took cash bribes, and the investigation is beginning to wall in the man many in Louisiana's political class refer to as "Dollar Bill."

Members of the House and Senate are genuinely divided. Support for and opposition to the raid did not fall along partisan lines -- Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi both expressed outrage, whereas left-wing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined Rep. Butch Otter (R-Idaho) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in supporting the FBI action.

Jefferson has refused to step down from the House Ways and Means Committee, despite Pelosi's requests.


Governor 2006:

Alabama: Once believed to be a goner, Gov. Bob Riley (R) will crush former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in the Republican primary. What support he lost with his attempted tax increase in 2003 he managed to gain back with his able handling of the destruction wrought upon his state by Hurricane Katrina.

Many Alabama conservatives admire Moore as the "Ten Commandments" judge, but some have noticed his close alignment with the trial lawyer lobby in the state. Moore entered the race with a serious chance, but he is poised to lose on Tuesday. Likely Riley.

On the Democratic side, the contest for the nomination has been even more lively. Moderate former Gov. Don Siegelman (D), now embroiled in a corruption trial, is nonetheless remaining in the race against liberal Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley (D). Siegelman's campaign has been rather pitiful, but his orations from outside the courtroom where he is being tried for racketeering have been at least interesting.

A witness from the toll-bridge industry testified last week to an extortion scheme by the former governor during his time in office. This and earlier testimony from a lobbyist have already hurt Siegelman's performance in public polls, as Baxley inches toward the 50 percent threshold she needs to avoid a June 27 runoff. She will probably win outright. Likely Baxley.

California: State Treasurer Phil Angelides (D) is betting his long political career on a ballot proposition, not yet on the ballot, that would impose a new tax on oil produced in the state. The gamble is that coming out against Big Oil will offset the dangers of the proposal, which would almost certainly hit the pocketbooks of ordinary Californians and can be accurately characterized as a gas-tax hike.

If he survives the primary against Comptroller Steve Westly, Angelides may or may not be hurt by this pro-tax endorsement. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is by no means certain to oppose the oil tax.

On the other hand, Angelides has resorted to supporting the oil-tax increase only in order to stave off Westly's charges that Angelides has taken money from oil companies and is therefore corrupted. That includes California-based Chevron, a major donor to Californians Against Higher Taxes, which is fighting the oil-tax initiative. By supporting the tax, Angelides can say he is not in the embrace of Big Oil. This is why he gathered prominent environmentalists in Santa Monica last Wednesday and, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, declared he was striking a blow for the environment by taxing oil.

In fact, the oil-tax initiative just pits Big Oil against Silicon Valley, for whom the initiative is a sweetheart deal. Oil-tax revenues -- six percent on California's significant oil production (12 percent of domestic production) -- are supposed to go to fund alternative fuel types, in which certain barons of Silicon Valley are heavily invested.

It can only hurt the economy to punish oil companies in some kind of populist frenzy. And by pursuing them, Angelides has set himself up for a roundhouse punch. If Westly attacks him for trying to hike taxes on motorists, he gets him on both sides. Westly has been cautiously avoiding the oil-tax issue so far, but he has been pounding Angelides as a tax-hiker.

The race, between two very ideologically similar politicians, will be a squeaker. Leaning Westly.

Iowa: With Rep. Jim Nussle (R) lacking opposition for the GOP nomination, the whole game is on the Democratic side.

Former Rep. Mike Blouin and former Secretary of State Chet Culver lead a field of four. Blouin's odd stand on abortion -- "pro-life but pro-choice in practice" -- has basically alienated everyone who cares about the issue. Leaning Culver.


Senate 2006:


Montana: This one is basically a toss-up, but the late momentum in the race for the Democratic nod is with state Sen. Jon Tester (D). Tester has come from about 20 points behind to even up with State Auditor John Morrison (D). For good or ill, Morrison has not been able to shake off a month-long scandal surrounding an affair he had in 1998 and its effect on his office's task of investigating the woman's fiancè. Given that the winner faces the embattled Sen. Conrad Burns (R), ethics are sure to be a big issue in the general election, and that doesn't help Morrison's case for making him the nominee.

Although Morrison begins with better numbers against Burns, Tester would probably be the better general election candidate. A farmer, he can go toe-to-toe with Burns's folksy image. Still, Burns has so much money that he may be able to flood television stations with positive ads straight through Election Day in order to rehabilitate his image.

This one will be very close. Either Democratic candidate will be short of money upon winning the primary. Tester would be especially so, but out-of-state money will pour in for either one. Leaning Tester.

Burns will stomp his primary opponent, Bob Keenan (R), with a convincing victory. Keenan has not run a very active campaign, thinking of himself more or less as a placeholder in case Burns is indicted in connection with the Abramoff scandal. Likely Burns.

New Jersey: State Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R) will easily defeat his conservative primary opponent, John Ginty. Kean puts a fresh young face on the same old moderate Republicanism that has hasn't worked in getting Republicans elected here statewide in a decade. But no one has presented proof that anything else will work.

It doesn't help that the last Republican elected statewide -- former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) -- has since done her best to sow discord and division in the state and national party. But Kean begins the race in a good position mostly because of the high unfavorables of the incumbent, appointed Sen. Bob Menendez (D). Likely Kean.


House 2006:

California-11: Here is another primary, like the 6th District of Illinois, in which national Democrats are at odds with a local party as to who will be the nominee. Steve Filson (D) and 2004 nominee Jerry McNerney (D) are running for the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo (R), who is perceived as weak. Pombo's constituents have been under constant attack from outside environmental groups' making automated phone calls against him.

McNerney, who ran against the Republican in 2004, has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and the backing of several big unions, including the California Labor Federation and the California State Council of the SEIU.

Filson, the better-funded candidate, has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC's newly announced "Red-to-Blue" campaign to help strong Democratic candidates could add not only to Filson's funds but also to the structure and strength of his overall campaign. The DCCC prefers Filson to an old loser, but things aren't working out as the DCCC would like. Leaning McNerney.

Pombo will crush his primary opponent, former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R). Likely Pombo.

California-50: This district faces both a primary and a special election on the same day. The result will be perceived as an indicator of things to come this November, regardless of whether it is an accurate assessment of a single congressional race.

Can such an assessment be accurate? Maybe. A host of local issues are at play in the race between Brian Bilbray (R) and Francine Busby (D).

Republicans picked perhaps the weakest nominee in their crowded primary. Moreover, whereas Democrats have been deprived of their "culture of corruption" message nationally by the ethical problems of Representatives Jefferson and Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), this does not apply in a district whose former congressman is now headed to federal prison after a guilty plea for bribery.

Bilbray, a former lobbyist, is not the ideal candidate in this situation. Moreover, he is too moderate for many of the district's conservative voters.
The district is 3-to-2 Republican in registration, but the above explains why Busby has done so well so far. She is tied or leading in the public polls available, and in the waning days of the campaign she was raising more money as well (although Bilbray is receiving plenty in party expenditures). Busby benefits from the contested gubernatorial primary, as well as the presence of a third-party challenger whose sole issue is immigration.

It is worth noting that if Busby wins the special election, Bilbray may drop out of the November general election and allow party officials to pick another nominee -- probably Eric Roach (R), the second-place finisher in the April 11 primary.

This race is going to be extremely close. Republicans are very worried about this seat, which they can't afford to lose. A Busby victory puts the Democrats within 14 seats of a House majority -- to say nothing of the message the media will take from it. We expect the GOP to dodge the bullet, but it is by no means a sure thing. Leaning Bilbray.


California-51: Rep. Bob Filner (D) should prevail over an unexpectedly spirited primary challenge from Assemblyman Juan Vargas (D). Filner is nervous enough that he is attacking Vargas for his ties to the insurance industry.

Vargas held Filner to 55 percent when he ran against him in 1996. The district is more Hispanic now, but it no longer includes the Hispanic areas of San Diego that are familiar with Vargas. Leaning Filner.

Iowa-1: The Republican primary to replace Rep. Nussle is a toss-up. The frontrunner, however, appears to be Mike Whalen, a prominent businessman who owns several restaurants and hotels in northeast Iowa and enjoys high name recognition.

However, it is Republican Brian Kennedy, former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, and State Rep. Bill Dix are also very much in the contest. Leaning Whalen.

Liberal Bruce Braley is expected to win the Democratic nomination over Bill Gluba and Rick Dickinson. He may be putting himself too far to the left as he positions himself for the general election. This is a Democratic district, but many of the Democrats here are social conservatives. Likely Braley.

Mississippi-2: Chuck Espy (D) never raised the amounts of money he really needed to knock off incumbent Rep. Bennie Thompson (D). Espy's last-minute television ads will at least guarantee him a reasonable showing, but he enters the final week with only $5,000 cash on hand, to nearly $600,000 for Thompson. As of May 17, Thompson had doubled him up in spending. Likely Thompson.

New Jersey-13: Democrats Albio Sires and Joseph Vas are vying to replace now-Sen. Menendez in this heavily Democratic district.

This election for a vacant seat is almost more complicated than the California special and primary election for the Cunningham seat. Voters here will make their choice in two primaries -- one to fill the last two months of Menendez's unexpired term (November and December), and the other to represent the district in the 110th Congress. But Sires is the only candidate running for both offices. Vas is running in the primary for the permanent nod, but not the two-month stint. Another Democratic candidate is running against Sires for the two-month stint and not the next Congress.

The confusion is probably inconsequential, however. Sires, the former speaker of the State Assembly and a town mayor, has the backing of the important party bosses, including Menendez, and he has out-raised Vas comfortably. He should win both primaries on Tuesday by a sound margin, and then take over the seat in November after the general election. Likely Sires.

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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