Thursday, December 29, 2005

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races - December 29, 2005 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races - December 29, 2005 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper: "December 29, 2005 Edition > Section: National

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races
BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 29, 2005

WASHINGTON - A Maryland politician who could become the first black Republican senator in nearly three decades, a business executive credited with bringing one of Washington state's biggest insurance companies back from the brink, and a state senator who is the son of one of New Jersey's most popular governors are among the Republican Party's best prospects to gain Senate seats in next year's election.

Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping that a young African-American congressman will make history by winning a Senate race in Tennessee, and that in Pennsylvania the son of another famous governor can oust Senator Santorum, who looks vulnerable.

Several political analysts interviewed by The New York Sun this week said they expect Democrats to narrow the Republican advantage in both houses of Congress next year. But they said Democrats are likely to fall short of winning a majority in either chamber.

The experts cautioned that many races may turn on hard-to-predict factors such as the military situation in Iraq and the vitality of the American economy. One pollster held out the possibility that the Republicans could increase their majorities if the economy grows quickly and large numbers of troops begin returning from Iraq.

"It's a pretty safe bet that 2006 will be a Democratic year. It may be a mild Democratic year, a moderate Democratic year, or a bonanza," a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, Larry Sabato, said.

An analyst of Senate races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, Jennifer Duffy, predicted that Democrats will pick up between two and four Senate seats, leaving the GOP with a razor-thin majority that has little power under Senate rules. "If the Republicans have trouble with 55 seats, it's not going to be any easier with 53 seats or 51 seats," she said.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen said surveys taken in contested Senate races in October and November suggested "a very bleak outlook" for Republicans. "The polls we've done in the last couple of weeks are less grim, but they're not anything to be enthusiastic about," he said.

While many consider it too early to ponder elections that are still more than 10 months away, some candidates say their bids are already in full swing.

"This is the phase of organizing, fund raising, and preparing," said Michael McGavick, a Republican who is seeking to unseat Senator Cantwell of Washington, a first-term Democrat. Mr. McGavick, 47, who is stepping down this week as CEO of a Seattle-based insurance firm, Safeco, said he is unconcerned about polls that showed an erosion of confidence in President Bush. "Voters, especially here in the Northwest, are very independent of those national trends," said Mr. McGavick, who also worked as chief of staff to a former senator from Washington, Slade Gorton. "Public sentiment shifts fast," the challenger said.

Ms. Cantwell, 47, who used a dot-com fortune to defeat Mr. Gorton five years ago, is in no financial position to make a similar contribution this time. The value of her holdings in an Internet firm she once worked for, Real Networks, dropped sharply after the tech bubble burst.

An aide to Mr. McGavick, Julie Sund, said he may also benefit from the perception that Maria Cantwell has largely been overshadowed by Senator Murray, another Democratic woman senator from Washington state. "People don't really have an issue they associate with Maria," she said.

Another Republican hopeful, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, is taking a more restrained approach to the early phases of his campaign to fill a seat vacated by the retirement of Senator Sarbanes, a Democrat. A spokesman for Mr. Steele, Leonardo Alcivar, said the candidate intends to keep focused on his state duties at least through the spring.

Republican leaders hope Mr. Steele, who is African-American, can pick up support from black voters, who have generally been loyal to Democrats. "They'll now, have for the first time in a generation in Maryland, a real choice and they haven't had that," Mr. Alcivar said. Democrats may frustrate Mr. Steele's efforts by fielding a former congressman and ex-president of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, though he must first face a primary contest with Rep. Benjamin Cardin.

In New Jersey, a Republican state senator, Thomas Kean Jr., appears well positioned for a bid for the seat currently occupied by Senator Corzine,a Democrat who will soon leave federal office to assume the governor's job. The Senate candidate is a son of Thomas Kean, a former governor of New Jersey, who gained national prominence as chairman of the commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Corzine's handpicked successor, Rep. Robert Menendez, who will be sworn in next month to serve out the departing senator's term, is planning to mount a campaign for the seat. He may face primary challengers as well.

The chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Senator Schumer, said Tuesday that he believes Democrats have a chance to pick up Republican seats in seven states: Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. "If the stars align right, we could actually take back the Senate," Mr. Schumer told the Associated Press. However, in an earlier dispatch from the news agency, the senator set a more modest goal. "If we can pick up two or three, we'd be very happy," Mr. Schumer said.

A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Brian Vick, called Mr. Schumer's upbeat assessment "a nice dream." Mr. Vick noted that in six of the seven races Mr. Schumer cited, the Democrat will be facing an incumbent Republican. In recent years, 88% of Senate incumbents have been reelected, the spokesman said.

"We're in a lot better position," Mr. Vick said. "He needs to worry about the open seats they have."

However, to many non-partisan analysts, some Republican senators look a bit wobbly. One is Mr. Santorum, a staunch conservative who may face a challenge from Robert Casey Jr., the Pennsylvania state treasurer and son of the late governor. "It is the marquee Senate race, the one everybody's going to watch," Ms. Duffy said.

Mr. Casey, who opposes abortion rights, faces some primary opposition from Democrats who support legalized abortion but is expected to win the nomination. Some Republicans believe Mr. Casey's anti-abortion stance could put Senator Clinton, an abortion rights advocate, in the uncomfortable position of having to either remain silent on the pivotal race or back a pro-life candidate.

Mrs. Clinton's political action committee, Hillpac, gave $5,000 to Mr. Casey earlier this year. "Senator Clinton looks forward to supporting the Democratic nominee," a Clinton adviser, Ann Lewis, said yesterday.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Casey had 50% support while 38% of voters favored Mr. Santorum. The poll showed that when Mr. Casey's supporters who also favor abortion rights were told that both Messrs. Casey and Santorum believe abortion should be illegal, 22% of the abortion rights supporters said they probably would not vote at all in the race.

Mr. Santorum also faces a primary challenge from a libertarian who favors abortion rights, John Featherman. "We put abortion as the number one issue," said Mr. Featherman, a real-estate broker. "I have my work cut out for me."

In Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat, could win the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Frist, who is keeping his pledge to leave the Senate after serving two terms. Mr. Ford, 35, would be the first African-American ever elected to the Senate from that state. At the moment, Republicans are splintered in a hotly contested three-way primary.

"It's going to be expensive. It's probably going to be ugly," Ms. Duffy said of Mr. Ford's race.

One-third of the Senate seats are up for grabs next year, as is every seat in the House. At the moment, because of the effects of redistricting and gerrymandering, fewer than 30 House races are expected to be competitive, though the number could increase if more members retire in the coming months.

Despite some recent improvements, ominous signs remain for the Republicans. A recent Mason-Dixon poll taken in Montana, one of the reddest of red states, showed the Democratic state auditor, John Morrison, running just 6 points behind Senator Burns, a third term Republican suffering from his ties to a Washington lobbying scandal.

Mr. Rasmussen noted, however, that early in 2002 some Democrats predicted big gains, only to be disappointed. "That same thing can happen between now and next November," he said.

December 29, 2005 Edition > Section: National"

Monday, December 26, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/26/2005 | John Grogan | Pa Has A New Hillary - Senator Flip Flop

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/26/2005 | John Grogan | Has Santorum turned a new leaf?: "John Grogan | Has Santorum turned a new leaf?By John Grogan Inquirer ColumnistWill the real Rick Santorum please stand up?
It used to be easy to know where Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator stood. He was a red-state kind of guy in blue-state Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican Catholic who wore his religion on his sleeve and whose faith played a major role in his public-policy positions. Agree with him or not, you had to admire him for standing by his convictions. He never shied away from trumpeting his beliefs.
In many ways, he's still that man.
And yet, the bravado seems tempered. The ideology softened.
We heard it when he distanced himself from the Bush administration on Iraq. And we heard it again - loud and clear - last week when he very publicly retreated from the intelligent-design movement he once championed so vocally.
After a federal judge in Harrisburg struck down the Dover Area School District's attempt to add intelligent design into the science curriculum, Santorum surprised me.
I was expecting him to play to his Christian base. I expected him to grandstand about activist judges advancing secular agendas and to champion alternative theories to evolution.
After all, this is the man who in 2002 wrote that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes." This is the man who, with help from a leading intelligent-design proponent, sponsored the Santorum amendment to the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, designed to help school districts teach alternatives to evolution.
Behind the design
This is the man who sat on the advisory board of the conservative Thomas More Law Center, which defended the Dover school board and turned the case into a national referendum on creationism in the classroom.
But Santorum did not do that. Instead, he said he disagreed with the school board for mandating intelligent design in science classes. He criticized the law center, saying it "made a huge mistake in taking this case." And he announced he would resign from the Thomas More board.
Wow. Was this the same Rick Santorum who once blamed the Catholic clergy child-abuse scandal on Boston's liberal culture?
Could it be that Santorum is mellowing? Could he be maturing as a statesman and rethinking some of his past positions? Could he be learning that moderation is the better part of wisdom?
Or is he simply making a politically expedient - and temporary - realignment in preparation for a bruising reelection campaign next year?
It might be all of the above.
Santorum can read the poll numbers as well as anyone, and he knows he faces a formidable challenger in State Treasurer Robert P. Casey.
Like Santorum, Casey is a practicing Catholic who opposes abortion.
A pull toward center
With the abortion issue moot, and Casey more moderate on other social issues, you can't blame Santorum for feeling the pull toward center.
George Bush and John Kerry both felt it in 2004, moving toward center to try to win over fence straddlers. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been continually shifting her center of gravity since she stepped out of her role as first lady and began pursuing her own political ambitions.
Could Santorum have the Hillary chameleon gene?
Knowing he has the far right locked down, it makes political sense to shift a few notches to the left to woo from Casey those he previously had taken for granted, such as the reader named Mike who sent me an e-mail last week stating: "I am a practicing Roman Catholic, I believe in God, but I think the Dover folks over-reached trying to include [intelligent design] as part of a public school curriculum."
Santorum once could reliably count on voters like Mike on Election Day. Not so anymore.
The Casey camp, predictably, accuses Santorum of flip-flop expediency. The Santorum camp, predictably, insists that the senator's positions are consistent and not politically influenced. The truth almost certainly lies somewhere in between.
Whatever his motivation, I kind of like the senator's new sensibility.
Moderation becomes him."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santorum to Jesus: "Get Back Jack, I have a Race To Win"

Santorum cuts ties to Christian center - The Boston Globe: "
Santorum cuts ties to Christian center
Decision follows judge's ruling in evolution case
By Associated Press | December 23, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- Senator Rick Santorum yesterday withdrew his affiliation from the Christian-rights law center that defended a school district's policy mandating the teaching of ''intelligent design."

Santorum, the Senate's third-ranking Republican who is facing a tough reelection challenge next year, earlier praised the Dover Area School District for ''attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.

Santorum was on the advisory board of the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which defended the district's policy. The law center describes its mission as defending the religious freedom of Christians.

''I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said Wednesday. He said he would end his affiliation with the center.

The leading Democratic challenger in Santorum's 2006 re-election battle, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., accused him of backtracking on intelligent design.

Casey spokesman Larry Smar said Wednesday that Santorum's statements were ''yet another example of 'Election Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency." Casey has led Santorum in recent polls.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the center, said Santorum's withdrawal came as no surprise because several weeks earlier the senator had indicated that he was unhappy with the center's involvement in the case.

''It is a very controversial issue, as you know, and he is involved in a very hotly contested Senate race, and it's probably in his best interest," Thompson said yesterday.

US District Judge John E. Jones ruled Tuesday that the Dover district's policy of requiring students to hear a statement in biology class about intelligent design was ''a pretext . . . to promote religion" in public schools.

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by a higher force.

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company"

Friday, December 23, 2005

CBS 3 - Santorum Does The Dover Two Step - More Flip Flops

CBS 3 - Philadelphia's Source For Breaking News, Weather, Traffic and Sports: Santorum To Cut Ties With Evolution-Defending Firm: "Santorum To Cut Ties With Evolution-Defending Firm
Senator Said Board Members' Religious Motivation In Intelligent Design School Battle Was Troubling
Save It Email It Print It
(AP) PHILADELPHIA Sen. Rick Santorum intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the Dover Area School District's policy mandating the teaching of intelligent design in science classes dealing with evolution.
Santorum earlier praised the district for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But on Wednesday, the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, the Republican senator told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.

The question quickly became a political issue as the leading Democratic challenger in Santorum's 2006 re-election battle, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., accused him of backtracking on intelligent design.

Casey's spokesman, Larry Smar, said Wednesday that Santorum's statements were "yet another example of 'Election
Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency."

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled Tuesday that the district's policy of requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade evolution lessons was "a pretext ... to promote religion in the public school classroom."

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms.

Santorum said in a 2002 Washington Times op-ed article that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

But he said he meant that teachers should have freedom to mention intelligent design as part of the evolution debate _ not be required to do so -- and said his position hasn't changed.

Santorum said he disagreed with the Dover board's policy of mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than teaching the controversy surrounding evolution. Because of that, he said the case provided "a bad set of facts" to test whether theories other than evolution should be taught in science class.

"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," said Santorum, a member of the center's advisory board. He said he would end his affiliation with the Michigan-based public-interest law firm that promotes Christian values.

(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | Tricky Ricky Flips and FLOPS on Dover - Both For and Against God

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/22/2005 | Santorum now critical of Dover case: "Posted on Thu, Dec. 22, 2005
Santorum now critical of Dover caseHe denies he is contradicting earlier statements of support for the cause.By Carrie Budoff and Paul NussbaumInquirer Staff WritersEarly this year, Sen. Rick Santorum commended the Dover Area School District for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."
But one day after a federal judge ruled that the district's policy on intelligent design was unconstitutional, Santorum said he was troubled by court testimony that showed some board members were motivated by religion in adopting the policy.
And, he said in an interview, he disagreed with the board for mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than just the controversy surrounding evolution.
Santorum - who sits on the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the school board in court - said the case offered "a bad set of facts" to test the concept that theories other than evolution should be taught in science classrooms.
"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said.
He said he intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Michigan-based public-interest law firm that promotes Christian values.
Robert Thompson, chief counsel for the law center, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Santorum would not comment on the ruling itself, saying that he had yet to fully review it.
The case highlighted Santorum's high-profile role in the debate over teaching evolution. He never entered the Harrisburg courtroom where the six-week trial took place, but his actions - most notably, an effort in 2001 to insert a "teach the controversy" amendment into a landmark education bill - figured prominently into the case.
It also has become a political issue for Santorum as he faces a tough reelection in 2006. His leading Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., has seized upon the senator's seemingly contradictory statements on intelligent design to portray him as a "flip flopper" who puts an ideological agenda above other interests.
In a 2002 Washington Times op-ed, Santorum wrote: "Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
But in recent interviews, including one in August on National Public Radio, Santorum said: "I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom."
The Casey campaign and the state Democratic Party accused Santorum yesterday of backtracking in an election year on intelligent design, which holds that life is so complex that its creation must be attributed to a higher power.
It "is yet another example of 'Election Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency," said Larry Smar, Casey's spokesman. "Santorum has spent more time in the Senate pursuing the politics of division rather than focusing on Pennsylvania priorities like health care, the economy, and jobs."
Santorum said his statements are not contradictory, nor has his position changed.
His 2002 op-ed dealt with academic freedom and argued that dissenting theories to evolution shouldn't be repressed. He said he meant that teachers should have the flexibility - but not be required - to mention intelligent design as part of the evolution debate, a position he continues to hold.
"Making sure there is academic freedom in the classroom, to bring in other points of views, is something my constituents and parents care a lot about," Santorum said. "It is not pursuing an ideological agenda."
Casey, who faces a Democratic primary challenge from Bucks County professor Chuck Pennacchio and Philadelphia lawyer Alan Sandals, says he believes that science should be taught in the science classroom, Smar said. "But if you want to talk about intelligent design, do it in religious class or church or home."
Santorum raised the national profile of intelligent design in 2001 by introducing a "teach the controversy" amendment to the No Child Left Behind bill.
The Santorum amendment was approved, 91-8, by the Senate and placed in a legislative history report. It validated the push by some school districts to teach alternatives to evolution. But science groups attacked the amendment and lobbied successfully to keep it out of the final version of the legislation.
The amendment, written with the help of Phillip Johnson, an intelligent-design pioneer and a retired law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, stated that "a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science.
"Where topics are taught that may generate controversy [such as biological evolution], the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."
During the intelligent design trial, there had been repeated references to the "Santorum amendment" and a Dover school board newsletter highlighting the senator's support. Santorum had expressed his support in an op-ed article published in January in the Allentown Morning Call.
The Dover policy, adopted in October 2004, required teachers to read a four-paragraph statement to ninth-grade biology students pointing out "gaps" in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and directing them to a book on intelligent design in the school library.
Lawyers for the 11 parents who sued the district contended that the board was motivated by religion.
During the trial, a board member belatedly disclosed that the purchase of the book - Of Pandas and People - was funded by a local church, which gave the school $850 in donations.
Judge John E. Jones 3d, in his ruling Tuesday, rebuked the board. He said two members "tried to hide the source of the donations," and he did not find them credible when they denied making comments at a public hearing that showed they were motivated to adopt the policy for religious, not educational, reasons.
Santorum said he agreed with this aspect of the ruling, saying that religion should not be the motivating factor behind the teaching the controversy surrounding evolution. He continues to believe that intelligent design, like evolution, is a legitimate scientific theory, said his spokesman, Robert L. Traynham.
Rick Santorum on Intelligent Design
"Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
- 2002 Washington Times op-ed article"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tricky Ricky Santorum Denies Role in His Plot To Get Jeff Habey -

Democrat state lawmakers kiss up to Kate - "Jeff who? Sen. Rick Santorum was flummoxed last week in reacting to GOP state Rep. Jeff Habay's allegations that Santorum is orchestrating a conspiracy to get him out of office.

"I have no idea what he's talking about," the Penn Hills Republican said of Habay, adding that the accusations were "completely off the wall."

Habay made the allegations after an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court jury found him guilty of a conflict of interest charge. The Shaler Republican was convicted of ordering his employees to perform campaign work on public time.

Santorum said he has had little interaction with Habay over the years. He wondered how he could have been working against him since Habay apparently has had few opponents for his seat in his decade-long career in the House.

Not only did Santorum say he does not get involved in local elections, "I didn't know there was a trial going on. I just feel sorry for him. He's swinging at shadows."

Before Habay goes on trial in February on 21 other criminal charges, Santorum suggested it would be best for him to resign.

"It would be better off for all concerned (for Habay) to move on," he said.

-- compiled by Tribune-Review staff "

Friday, December 16, 2005

Philadelphia Daily News | 12/16/2005 | Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton and Swann

Philadelphia Daily News | 12/16/2005 | Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton, Swann & 'Clean Gene': "Posted on Fri, Dec. 16, 2005
Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton, Swann & 'Clean Gene'IT WAS GREAT seeing Gov. Rendell in the Palestra stands for Penn-Villanova Tuesday night.
But our advice to him is: forget the Quakers; think Panthers. As in Pitt Panthers.
The guv's unfavorables are rising. His support is below 50 percent.
Everyone west of the Susquehanna thinks he's the "governor of Philadelphia."
The election is next year.
So, take in a Panther game, Guv. Have a photo-op with a Primanti's sandwich. Go West, old man.
Yet we come today not to praise Rendell, but to see who might bury him.
Who's more likely to beat Rendell, former Steeler and ABC sports reporter Lynn Swann or former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton Jr.?
They are the leading contenders for the Republican nomination to oppose Rendell.
We've spent the past week talking with pols, consultants, money guys and campaign staff trying to answer that question.
We'll sum up our findings by putting words into the mouths of the candidates.
Swann: My numbers have gone up in each successive poll, while yours have stayed flat.
Scranton: That's because you began in single digits.
Swann: Also, my pro-gun, anti-abortion views are more in step with Pennsylvanians'.
Moderate Republicans like you are a vanishing breed. That's why my campaign contributions come from conservatives across the nation.
Scranton:Can you match Rendell, who will raise $40 million?
Swann:Can you?
Scranton: All I have to do is open my checkbook. Remember, I have a city named after me.
Swann: That city and its region is 10 percent of the state's voters.
Everyone west of Harrisburg is a Steelers fan.
Scranton: You mean everyone who follows football.
What percentage of the vote total is that? And how many are old enough to remember you?
Swann: The fact is, western Pennsylvanians are far more loyal to candidates from their region.
And the anger against incumbents because of the legislative pay raise is greater there than anywhere in the state. Anger generates turnout.
Scranton: I also opposed the pay raise. Plus, my business experience gives me stature equal to Rendell's.
I look like a governor. An ex-jock can't match that.
Swann: As an African-American, I have the ability to cut into the Democratic base.
Scranton:What about James Carville's dictum? "Pennsylvania, between Paoli and Penn Hills, is just Alabama."
When did Alabama have a black governor?
Swann: My football career inoculates me against white voters who pause because of my race.
Plus, I appeal to black voters in Philadelphia.
Even the defection of 200 votes per black division would have a serious impact on Rendell's city margin.
Scranton: You've never run for office before.
I was tested in that tough 1986 campaign against Bob Casey Sr. I nearly won. Rendell will pounce on your first rookie mistake. Remember Lynn Yeakel and Juanita County?
Swann:Being an outsider and a fresh face is a positive, not a negative.
Clout: OK, OK, enough. We're more confused than when we started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Santorum Linked to Abramoff and the K Street Project

NRSC plans multi-state attack tying Democrats to Abramoff: "A Democratic aide in Washington said the ethics charges Democrats have lodged against Republicans could tip the balance in other key Senate battlegrounds: In Pennsylvania, Sen. Rick Santorum (R) has faced criticism for his alleged role in the K Street Project, which aimed to purge Democratic lobbyists from Washington.

Jay Reiff, who is managing Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey’s campaign against Santorum, noted that Casey recently issued an ethics plan that would end the K Street Project and slow the “revolving door” between Capitol Hill and lobbying shops, among other provisions. Santorum’s media consultant, John Brabender, said Casey is trying to deflect charges lodged against the Democrat involving a fundraiser he held in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."

"Americans for Job Security" - Santorum Front Group -

Update 2: Michael Schiavo Launches PAC - "n a complaint Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission, Democrat Bob Casey Jr. alleges a third-party group that has run ads in support of Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania violated federal election laws.

Casey said the group, Americans for Job Security, violated election law by not disclosing the identity of its donors and "conspired to make illegal corporate expenditures in connection with a federal election."

Michael Dubke, president of the Virginia-based group, denied any wrongdoing. He said his group is not a political committee so it is not required to make such disclosures. Virginia Davis, Santorum's campaign spokeswoman, said there is no connection between the senator and the group.

Casey is leading in the polls against Santorum, a two-term incumbent who is the No. 3 Senate Republican."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 Quinnipiac Poll - Casey Swan Rendell Up - Santorum Scranton Soft and Weak Recent Poll Ranks Standing of Local Politicians: "Recent Poll Ranks Standing of Local PoliticiansDecember 13, 2005 - Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey continues to hold a double-digit lead over incumbent Rick Santorum in the 2006 US Senate race.

Today's Quinnipiac University poll gives the Democrat a 12-point lead, 50 to 38 percent. But that's down from the 18-point lead Casey held in October.
The poll also shows that nearly two-thirds of voters think Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election.

In next year's race for the Republican nomination for governor, former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann leads former Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton, although both trail undecided voters at this point.

And current Governor Ed Rendell's approval ratings are back up to 51 percent, which is a five percent rise since October.

Copyright Action News, 2005. All Rights Reserved." Unfavorable Rating Santorum 28% Casey 6% - Quinnipiac University poll NewsFlash - Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects: "Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects
12/13/2005, 6:30 a.m. ET
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election next year, Pennsylvania voters said by a 2-1 margin in a poll released Tuesday.

More than one-third of all Republicans surveyed in the Quinnipiac University poll also said Santorum's re-election prospects aren't helped by his support of the president.

The poll showed Democratic state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. leading the two-term Republican incumbent by 50 percent to 38 percent in the 2006 Senate race, compared to a 52-to-34 percent lead in Quinnipiac's October poll. Voters also said they disapprove of Bush's job performance, 59 percent to 38 percent.

"President Bush is clearly hurting Santorum in Pennsylvania, and he's still further behind than an incumbent should be entering the campaign year," said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn., university's polling institute. "Santorum's best hope is for a third-party abortion-rights candidate to emerge and pull Democratic votes from Casey."

The survey of 1,447 Pennsylvania voters was released one day after Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, attended a speech by Bush in Philadelphia that was part of the president's public relations campaign to promote Iraq war policies.

Santorum bypassed Bush's last stop in Pennsylvania, at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County on Nov. 11, citing a prior commitment in Philadelphia.

Santorum's approval rating rose, with 48 percent approving and 38 percent disapproving, up from 43 percent approving and 41 disapproving in October, the poll found.

Santorum was viewed favorably by 35 percent of the electorate, and Casey was viewed favorably by 40 percent, the poll found. But 34 percent said they did not yet know enough about Casey, the poll found.

Casey was viewed unfavorably by 6 percent of those surveyed compared to 28 percent who viewed Santorum unfavorably.

Casey is widely considered the Democratic front-runner in the race. The respondents were not asked about any other Democratic Senate primary candidates.

The telephone poll, conducted from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, carries a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The poll also shows Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell maintaining a lead in hypothetical matchups against each of four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year.

Rendell's lead is 29 percentage points over Jim Panyard, a former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association; 25 percentage points over state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin; 13 percentage points over former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann; and 12 percentage points over former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III.

Rendell's approval rating also improved to 51 percent from 46 percent in the university's October poll."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Worldandnation: $500,000 for Casey's campaign - an enormous sum for a Senate fund-raiser

Worldandnation: A Democrat in demand: "In September, Barack gave the keynote speech at a Philadelphia luncheon for Bob Casey, a Democrat who is challenging Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. The event netted $500,000 for Casey's campaign - an enormous sum for a Senate fund-raiser."

Santorum Weakens Republican Line-up - Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress

Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress: "
Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress
Saturday, December 10, 2005

By James O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klink says some leading Democrats have urged him to make a political comeback in the 4th Congressional District, a seat held for the last six years by his successor, Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods.

Mr. Klink said he is listening to the requests but has not reached the point of actively considering an attempt to return to Congress.

"I have said that, given the current political climate, that I would listen, but it is not something I am actively seeking," said Mr. Klink, who has worked as a consultant and lobbyist since he left the U.S. House.

Mr. Klink gave up his seat to challenge U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in the 2000 election. Mr. Klink, outspent in the race by more than three-to-one, lost to Mr. Santorum by some 400,000 votes, a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent.

Ms. Hart has won easily in each of her three runs in the district, which includes Beaver and Lawrence counties, parts of Butler and Allegheny counties and a corner of Westmoreland County that includes Mr. Klink's Murrysville home.

While acknowledging that he has had conversations about the 4th District, Mr. Klink dismissed reports that he was also considering running for an adjoining seat in the 18th Congressional District, held by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.

"That's not accurate," he said of an Internet report that he might challenge Mr. Murphy. "I live in the 4th; if I were to give it any consideration, it would be in the district in which I live."

In Ms. Hart's district, two Democrats have emerged as competitors for the nomination. They are Georgia Berner, a Lawrence County businesswoman, and Jason Altmire, a former UPMC executive.

"They're two very good people who have their hearts in the right place," Mr. Klink said. "I know both of them and have nothing but respect for them, but they both have a tall mountain to climb in terms of name recognition."

(Politics Editor James O;Toole can be reached at or 412-263-1562.)"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

AP Wire | 12/11/2005 | Casey Leads Satorum 50 to 46 in a different kind of Poll

AP Wire | 12/11/2005 | Pennsylvania elite enjoy annual Big Apple bash: "Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. raised $50,000 at an event Friday at the Harvard Club for his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Santorum hosted his own $1,000-a-head fundraiser a day earlier, netting $46,000 for his re-election committee"

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2005 | The annual gathering of the Pennsylvania Society

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2005 | Pa. pols just can't resist N.Y. bash: "Posted on Sun, Dec. 11, 2005

Pa. pols just can't resist N.Y. bash

The annual gathering of the Pennsylvania Society has attracted plenty of powerful folks, as usual.

By Marcia Gelbart and Carrie Budoff

Inquirer Staff Writers

NEW YORK - Manhattan at Christmastime was very special last year for John Perzel.

Attending Pennsylvania's premier out-of-state political party as the State House speaker, Perzel saw a $55,000 reception thrown for him by a paving contractor, a billboard giant, and 10 other politically connected companies.

And this weekend it occurred all over again - not for Perzel this time, but an equally powerful cast of political bigwigs.

With all the recent talk about ethical lapses in the Capitol corridors and Philadelphia City Hall, the drive for cleaner government has not reached New York - site of the annual Pennsylvania Society gathering of more than 1,000 politicians, business executives and lobbyists, which will end this morning.

During this three-day-weekend affair, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will be feted twice; the state auditor general, the state House majority leader, and the Allegheny County executive will throw their own soirees; and legions of other public officials will be courted by special-interest groups.

It's the unofficial start of next year's big political season - which will include Gov. Rendell's run for reelection and Bob Casey Jr.'s race against Santorum. And with six of the possible mayoral candidates in attendance, it foreshadows that race in 2007.

"I doubt anyone gets bought there for the price of a shrimp cocktail," said Zack Stalberg, executive director of the Committee of Seventy watchdog group. "But it's that old-fashioned, and now questionable, conviviality between the people who run things and the people who run the government."

While the event is based at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, many lawmakers and lobbyists admit that one of the star attractions is New York itself: the Fifth Avenue shops, Rockefeller Center, and Broadway musicals.

All that money doled out in restaurants, hotels and shopping inevitably leads to the perennial debate over whether the Pennsylvania Society weekend belongs in... Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp - who helped lead the successful grassroots movement to repeal the pay raise lawmakers gave themselves in July - planned to counter the high-end partying in New York with a bare-bones bash yesterday in the Capitol.

"Please bring a potluck item," Stilp wrote on the invitation. In an interview, he said, "Working-class Pennsylvanians can't even relate to the Pennsylvania Society dinner. We want to start a new tradition for the average person: the Pennsylvania People's Dinner."

Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer (R., Blair) defended the weekend: "This is not class warfare - just an opportunity to let your hair down a bit."

In Philadelphia, City Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to bring the affair within the state's borders. The vote took place during the same week that Leonard N. Ross, a friend of Mayor Street's, became the 18th person charged in the ongoing City Hall corruption investigation.

"Look, I'm not trying to mess up anyone's vacation here," said Councilman Frank DiCicco, who sponsored the resolution and has never gone to the affair. "It's just business."

Rendell doesn't hold out hope.

"It can never happen because this has become too important a social trip for people across the state who don't get the same opportunity as Philadelphia does to come to New York," he said between handshakes Friday at a well-attended ESPN Zone reception hosted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, consulting firm Ceisler Jubelirer (one partner is the son of the senator.) and others.

The Pennsylvania Society was formed in New York City at the close of the 19th century, offering neutral ground for the state's industrialists to talk politics, charm politicians and, according to lore, give their marching orders for the coming year.

In some ways, not much has changed.

Instead of robber barons, the benefactors serving breakfast mimosas and late-night apple martinis are such corporations as Sunoco and Waste Management, and lobbying firms such as S.R. Wojdak & Associates and Buchanan Ingersoll. But the goals are largely the same.

"We look at this as a way to celebrate the captains of industry in Pennsylvania," said Jim Welty, a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. "We talk about where Pennsylvania needs to go."

"This is a unique event," said Street's spokesman Joe Grace, who was in New York yesterday along with Commerce Director Stephanie Naidoff, City Solicitor Romulo Diaz and Housing Secretary Kevin Hanna. "It's an opportunity for us to listen to what people are saying" about Philadelphia.

Street did not attend the weekend's events because of a family matter, Grace said.

With a governor, U.S. senator, and much of the legislature up for reelection next year, followed by the Philadelphia mayoral contest, a lot of talk focused on who showed, who was up, who was down, and who might be out.

"I wanted to make sure the players who are there know that I'll be out raising money for my congressional fund-raiser," said NAACP Philadelphia chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire, who is very publicly considering challenging U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) next year.

Casey, who agreed yesterday to debate his Democratic primary opponents in the coming months, raised $50,000 Friday at the Harvard Club for his Senate race - and ended up in a room next to where Santorum attended a reception hosted by Louis Appell, a prominent York County businessman and GOP fund-raiser.

They didn't cross paths. Neither did Casey and Rendell, who dropped by the Appell event but skipped Casey's fund-raiser. The governor cited tight scheduling.

Santorum hosted his own $1,000-a-head fund-raiser Thursday night at the Waldorf-Astoria, collecting $46,000 for his reelection committee and $130,000 for the state GOP election fund.

A short while earlier, Santorum, giving a speech at a Chester County event honoring him, asked the crowd to read his book, It Takes a Family - and not believe its critics.

"Just like everything else the Democrats do, they lie and distort," Santorum said.

From the back of the room, Democratic City Councilman Michael Nutter yelled, "Hey, senator, tone that down."

Santorum then amended his words, adding "except Michael Nutter," eliciting laughs from the bipartisan audience.

Nutter was one of the potential 2007 mayoral candidates who attended some events this weekend. But one of his potential rivals, electricians union leader John Dougherty, did more than just pop into receptions. He hosted his own party, complete with a band and "Johnny Doc 2007" Christmas tree ornaments, in a Waldorf-Astoria ballroom.

One weekend attendee, Ken Davis, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, was shopping around his candidate for lieutenant governor, Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews.

"I don't know anybody who's been bought at Pennsylvania Society," Davis said. "Rented, maybe - but not bought.""