Tales from the Trail

Will spelling count in Alaska write-in ballot count?

vote3They’re counting write-in ballots in Alaska to decide the winner of the last undecided U.S. Senate race of the 2010 elections.

It’s write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski versus Sarah Palin protege and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in a Republican family feud where spelling counts.

Incumbent  Murkowski lost  to Miller in the Republican Senate primary. But she mounted a write-in campaign to keep the seat she’s held for eight years.

It’s the “The Great Alaska Spelling Bee” in which Miller sought to make sure  Murkowski’s name be spelled right on the write-in ballots. Before the counting started on Wednesday , Miller filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to invoke the spelling rule.

The jury is still out on that one.

Meantime, seattlepi.com reported initial results from Juneau indicate that Murkowski is headed back to theSenate, unless Miller prevails in court and as the count proceeded, a federal judge denied Miller’s request to immediately stop the write-in counts.

Pelosi takes on Chamber of Commerce over campaign spending

The phrase “Buy American”  may be taking on a new connotation in the rough-and-tumble battle over corporate financing and the midterm congressional elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been pumping lots of cash into the campaign, received multimillion dollar donations from some major companies as it fought against government policies, the New York Times reported Thursday.

pelosi“They give new meaning to the term “Buy American”…  they want to buy these elections,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said when asked about the article in an MSNBC interview.

McCain hails Palin power in the mid-term elections

Arizona Senator John McCain says his former running mate former Alasaka governor Sarah Palin is a “visionary” for the United States.

“She has had a tremendous impact on this election cycle, as you well know, by supporting certain candidates,” McCain said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline. “It is really a remarkable thing to observe.”

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee again defended his decision to pick the then relatively unknown Palin for the number-two spot on the ticket.

Fundraising and the American dream of immigrants

immigrantsThe trials and triumphs of immigrants to the United States were an unexpected theme of a pricey fundraiser in Rockville, Maryland, where President Barack Obama helped raise $400,000 for Democratic Senate candidates on Monday night.

It started with Obama’s introduction by the house party’s host, Rajeev Sharma, chairman of a company, who told the crowd how his parents and in-laws had moved to the United States many years earlier and had worked hard to build a life for their families — one cleaning stalls and one with only 8 dollars in his pocket when he arrived. “They worked hard, became Americans… And now they’re meeting the leader of the free world at the home of their children,” Sharma said, obviously moved.

Obama, whose father was from Kenya, picked up the theme in his comments, making the case to the audience of donors that supporting Democratic candidates would preserve the American dream of immigrants like the Sharma parents.

NY state a brothel in need of a madame – governor candidate

davisAt their first debate on Monday, candidates for New York governor made the usual use of metaphor and cliche about the state’s economic woes.

But candidate Kristin Davis took it a step further when she compared the state bureaucracy to a badly run brothel, and New York politicians to whores.

And she would know.

Having been convicted for promoting prostitution, Davis, whose campaign logo is a red, white and blue Marijuana leaf, says former governor Eliot Spitzer’s downfall was over an escort in her employ.

O’Donnell: Not a witch but maybe a nut job?

USA-POLITICS/MCCAINLike father, like daughter?

Meghan McCain, the outspoken daughter of Senator John McCain, showed her father’s outspoken tendencies as she described Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware as a “nut job”.

“Christine O’Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office,” Meghan McCain said of her father’s fellow Republican, who recently ran an ad declaring, “I’m not a witch.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” McCain said  Tea Party favorite O’Donnell “has no real history, no real success in any kind of business.”

Boxer votes early, like a good Californian

POLITICS-USA/Election day may be nearly a month off, but U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer wasn’t confused, or cheating, when she went to the polls on Tuesday to vote (presumably for herself).  The three-term Democrat was just following what has become something of a time-honored practice for many Californians: early voting.

In fact, more than 41 percent of California voters voted by mail, or absentee, during the 2008 general election, a number that has risen nearly every year since the 1978, and Boxer’s camp says the Senator — who is facing the toughest reelection fight of her career against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – was using it as a tool to increase voter participation.

Boxer, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, lives with her husband in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs, and cast her ballot at the Riverside County Registrar’s Office.

Washington Extra – The finer things in life

lamarIf I come back in my next life as an American, I am thinking that a career in the Senate might be a better way to go than in the administration or the military. Whatever you think of their political views, the senators who have visited our offices for the Washington Summit this week have not just been charming and interesting to talk to, they also seem to have time for the finer things in life. Take Senator Lamar Alexander, who not only has the time to watch Tennessee football pretty regularly, but also likes to play classical piano and has a date on center stage with the Jackson Symphony at the end of next month. “I try to keep a balanced life,” he said.

gibbsNo such luck for hard-pressed administration types, working at a pace that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says “is and has been grueling for a long period of time,” especially if you take two years of campaigning into account. Take Austan Goolsbee, who used to compete in the triathlon, but now has no time to train and jokes he is so out of shape he can’t walk up the stairs without gasping for breath. Or General David Petraeus, who is already at work by 5:30 in the morning, and when he goes to bed around 10 or 11 at night, only manages a couple of pages in whatever book he is reading “before it falls on the floor.”

That grueling pace is one reason, Gibbs argued, why many members of Obama’s economic team and political inner circle are on their way out, to spend a bit more time “with their family and their friends.” It is not, as Goolsbee insisted, an acknowledgment that the administration has made mistakes, or that it needs to change direction.

O’Donnell slams Republican “cannibalism”

Fresh off an upset victory in Delaware, Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell slammed the Republican establishment for “cannibalism” during the primary election but predicted she could win in the general election even without their support.

USA/O’Donnell, an upstart who knocked off nine-term Representative Michael Castle in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary election, made the rounds of the morning TV shows to tout her victory against the mainstream candidate.

She thanked former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for her support, saying it helped woo voters to her side.

Gay marriage ruling has California, and Democrat Jerry Brown’s Twitter feed, buzzing

Democrat Jerry Brown has long been an outspoken critic of California’s ban on same-sex marriages,  even refusing to Jerry_Browndefend the voter approved law known as Proposition 8  in court in his role as California’s attorney general  – a move that won the hearts of gay and civil rights activists even as it raised eyebrows among legal scholars .

So before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker even ruled on Thursday that gay marriages can resume next week, while those who oppose them appeal his earlier decision finding the ban unconstitutional, Jerry Brown the candidate for governor was Tweeting out his support:

“Hoping Judge Walker will allow same-sex couples in CA to marry while the Prop 8 case appeal is pending. We should find out before noon,” Brown (or someone on his staff) Tweeted about two hours before the ruling.