Encourage Progressive Leadership

by: Senate Guru

Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 11:13

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

It's been almost a year since Election Day 2008, but some of our '08 champs could still use a little help.  Just sayin'.

As of September 30, 2009:
DemocratCash on HandDebtAmount in the RedWhere to Contribute
Al Franken$242,128$450,859$208,731Contribute to Al
Jeff Merkley$137,221$271,589$134,368Contribute to Jeff

I'm not saying there aren't plenty of 2010 candidates that need our help.  (There are!  Please help!)  I'm just saying that helping our previous progressive winners to close their books and retire their debts could encourage other Democrats currently running to follow in more progressive footsteps, knowing we have their backs.

I'll leave you with a few reasons to be very, very proud of Senator Al Franken's first months as a U.S. Senator (and very, very motivated to help retire his campaign debt):

And a dash of Senator Merkley for good measure:

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Al Franken Wins!

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Jun 30, 2009 at 14:31

The Minnesota Supreme Court has unanimously declared Al Franken the winner in the Minnesota Senate campaign, and Governor Tim Pawlenty has confirmed he will sign the certification papers:

After an unprecedented eight months of legal wrangling and pouring over hundreds upon hundreds of contested ballots, the Minnesota Supreme Court has paved the way for Democrat Al Franken to fill long-vacant Senate seat, CBS station WCCO-TV reports.

Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has indicated he will sign Franken's election certificate, CBS News reported. The timing of the signing was not yet clear.

Now, let's see if Senator Al Franken will support a public option!

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MN-Sen: "Pulling a Norm Coleman" and

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 14:29

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

Republican sore loser Norm Coleman's endless and pointless appeals will not accomplish a victory for Coleman.  But ol' Normie can be proud that he has accomplished one thing: his name has become synonymous with "sore loser" to the point that "pulling a Norm Coleman" has entered the lexicon meaning "acting like a sore loser."  To wit:

Larry King: 'I'm not a sore loser. I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman'

Here's evidence that Minnesota's post-election battle for U.S. Senate has permeated pop culture. Al Franken and Norm Coleman were cited this week by contestants in another competition that attracted millions of partisans: the race between movie actor Ashton Kutcher and news juggernaut CNN to be first to gain one million followers on Twitter, the social-media phenomenon. ...

Here's a video clip of Kutcher on "Larry King Live" tonight (King's "Norm Coleman" comment comes at the 5:00 mark):

KING: I'm not a sore loser.

KUTCHER: No, you're not.

KING: I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman and take this to the courts.

KUTCHER: You have been gracious, very gracious.

While Coleman sore-losers it up, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have introduced a new effort:, "A Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away."  Very simply put, commit to contributing just one dollar per day for every day that sore loser Norm Coleman refuses to concede. (HT: MPP)

I don't know if this effort was inspired by Open Left's AdamGreen's post laying out a very similar fundraising strategy a little over a week ago, but it is exactly the correct approach to take to provide Republican leadership in Washington with adequate disincentive from continuing to fund Coleman's endless appeals.  You also have the option of chipping in a bit of change directly to the Franken Recount Fund.

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MN Supreme Court Justice is a Norm Coleman Donor and Should Recuse Himself

by: Senate Guru

Mon Apr 13, 2009 at 16:05

{Originally posted at MyDD.  Visit my blog, Senate Guru.}

Last week, I took a look at the political leanings of the five Minnesota Supreme Court Justices who will decide Republican Norm Coleman's likely appeal.  Of one of the five Justices, Justice Christopher J. Dietzen, I suggested that he "has the clearest partisan background" of any of the Justices, pointing to facts including Dietzen serving as a campaign lawyer on Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's 2002 campaign.  Of Dietzen's service on Republican Pawlenty's campaign, I sarcastically noted:

So, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's campaign lawyer is one of the five judges that will decide Republican Norm Coleman's appeal.  Nothing wrong with that.

Clearly, one of the Justices being active in Republican politics is sketchy, but I didn't go so far as to call for Justice Dietzen to recuse himself from any further cases before the state Supreme Court involving Norm Coleman and the Senate seat.  Until now.

DownWithTyranny! took my analysis a little further and found out that Justice Dietzen is himself a two-time Norm Coleman donor!  A simple search on finds that Justice Dietzen has given to a number of Republican committees and candidates, including:

Contributor           Occupation            Date           Amount      Recipient

Chris Dietzen       Larkin Hoffman       12/3/01       $250          Coleman, Norm (R)

Chris Dietzen       Larkin Hoffman       1/21/04       $250          Coleman, Norm (R)

FYI, Larkin Hoffman is one of the law firms that Dietzen worked at before becoming a judge.

Remember that two of the Minnesota Supreme Court's seven Justices recused themselves from hearing Coleman's appeal to the state Supreme Court because they served on the state Canvassing Board.  Those two Justices wanted to avoid the conflict of having served on the Canvassing Board and then serving on the Court that will hear an appeal of, in part, the Canvassing Board's actions and decisions.

Well, one of the remaining Justices that will decide Norm Coleman's electoral fate is a two-time Norm Coleman donor!  Heck, one of the two contributions occurred in the six years leading up to Coleman's 2008 re-election bid - in other words, it was put toward this very election whose result Coleman is preparing to appeal.  This is a crystal clear conflict of interest.  Justice Dietzen should recuse himself from any Coleman appeals to the state Supreme Court in order to prevent the (rather obvious) appearance of bias.  If you feel the same way, you should let Justice Dietzen know by contacting his office at (651) 297-7650, and - very respectfully - urging Justice Dietzen to recuse himself in order to avoid a clear conflict of interest and the appearance of bias by having a previous Norm Coleman donor rule on Norm Coleman's electoral fate.

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AFL-CIO claims Franken is 60th vote on Employee Free Choice

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 13:42

A bold claim:

Al Franken could be the missing piece of the puzzle for passage of the labor movement's No. 1 legislative priority this Congress, a senior union official said Wednesday.

Once seated, the Democratic Minnesota Senate candidate would be the 60th vote for cloture in the Senate on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), said Bill Samuel, director of government affairs for the AFL-CIO.

"That is likely to be the case. We are not giving up on other senators," Samuel said. "In the very worst case, we are going to have to have Al Franken."

This is certainly plausible, and wold make more sense why Republicans are fighting tooth and nail on a court case that is seemingly lost cause of them. The Employee Free Choice Act scored 51 votes for cloture in 2007. Throw in Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, who was sick at the time, and that makes 52. Add seven more freshman Democrats in Congress who took over Republican held seats--Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, Jeff Merkley, Mark Udall, Tom Udall, and Mark Warner--and EFCA support rises to 59. And then, only Al Franken, plus holding all 2007 voters in line, pushes EFCA over the top and into law.

Labor reform, media reform, immigration reform, election reform--these are some of the policy areas that can shift the major institutions of our country to the left. As far as building long-term progressive governance is concerned, passing these positive feedback loops into law is second in importance only to saving the economy through a re-organization of public spending.

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MN-Sen: Double Counting Likely Occured, But It Won't Affect Outcome

by: Vote For America

Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 16:56
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Monday, Monday, Monday!

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 15:13

So, the day after I break my left arm, Open Left crashes. Great. At least I'm getting all of 2009's bad luck out of the way early. Here are some items for Monday:

  • Tim Kaine will be the new DNC chair. Kaine is pretty conservative, but I will have only one question for him: will he revive the fifty-state strategy?

  • On a more positive appointment note, Glenn Greenwald praises Dawn Johnson, the new head of the Office of Legal Consul. Commenting on some fantastic articles by Johnson, Greenwald writes:

    Beyond these articles, I don't know all that much about her, but anyone who can write this, in this unapologetic, euphemism-free and even impolitic tone, warning that the problem isn't merely John Yoo but Bush himself, repeatedly demanding "outrage," criticizing the Democratic Congress for legalizing Bush's surveillance program, arguing that we cannot merely "move on" if we are to restore our national honor, stating the OLC's "core job description" is to "say 'no' to the President," all while emphasizing that the danger is unchecked power not just for the Bush administration but "for years and administrations to come" -- and to do so in the middle of an election year when she knows she has a good chance to be appointed to a high-level position if the Democratic candidate won and yet nonetheless eschewed standard, obfuscating Beltway politesse about these matters -- is someone whose appointment to such an important post is almost certainly a positive sign.  No praise is due Obama until he actually does things that merit praise, but it's hard not to consider this encouraging.

  • Also, Leon Panetta to head the CIA. First reaction: much better than the other names being floated.

  • On December, Democrats extended their lead on Republicans in partisan self-identification to 8.7%, according to Rasmussen. That is our biggest lead since June, and bigger than any lead Democrats have held outside of the extended Clinton vs. Obama primary contest.

  • The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a key lawsuit from Norm Coleman, denying him his last chance to win. Franken will be declared the winner later today, but it still may take a while to get him into the Senate.

  • New Yorkers no longer want Caroline Kennedy to be their Senator, and now prefer Andrew Cuomo, according to a new poll from PPP. Not that polls matter in a process as undemocratic as Senate appointments. We need a Constitutional amendment for special elections for Senate vacancies.

  • Tax cuts are being piled onto the stimulus in order to win Republican support. These cuts are now larger than Bush's, and are not just of the middle-class variety. Not good. We don't need Republican support, but Obama is seeking it anyway. My best guess is that this is a repeat of the Democratic leadership's strategy on the bailout. This way, Republicans won't be able to be able to say "I told you so" if it doesn't work, or if it becomes unpopular. Bad idea if you ask me, since we will be blamed if the country doesn't turn around, no matter what.

    Or, maybe Obama considers bipartisanship good for its own sake, which would be sad.

  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus releases a detailed trillion dollar stimulus plan. It looks pretty great, but we are still not at 18 progressive votes in the House, and talks on the stimulus seem pretty well advanced at this point. Still, at least producing these plans, and winning over 100 votes for them, is progress. The Nation has more on this.

I'll be back later today with a look at how different election forecasting methods performed in 2008. This is an open thread.

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How About Strident Action On Behalf Of Democrats?

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 13:59

So, Senate Democrats have threatened to block Roland Burris from being seated in the Senate. As I, and several others, have noted recently, this level of aggressive action is in direct contradiction with past timidity. It is also quite a contrast to their public statements on Al Franken (emphasis mine):

The top Senate Republican said his caucus would block any attempt to seat Democrat Al Franken until an anticipated court case over Minnesota's close election is finished and an official election certificate is conferred.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn said Friday that Republicans would object to seating the race leader Franken sooner. A filibuster would require 60 votes to break - a few more than Democrats currently hold in Washington. (...)

Senate Democrats have not indicated what they would do if Franken's lead over Coleman holds up after the recount ends.

So, Senate Democrats will take aggressive action to deny a Democrat from being seated, but not take aggressive action to seat a Democrat. To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, their paper-thin commitment to legally appointed and legally elected Democrats--especially when considered in contrast to their commitment to Lieberman--sends a shiver down my spine.

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Still Counting and Recounting, December 15th

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Dec 15, 2008 at 13:43

The 2008 elections are still not quite over. Here is the latest news on where things stand in the federal elections (Senate, President and House):

The current partisan balance of the Senate for the 111th Congress is 55 Democrats, 41 Republicans, 2 Independents (both of whom caucus with Democrats) and 2 undecided (Illinois, where there might be a special election and there might not be one, and Minnesota, currently undergoing a recount). Remarkably, in the Minnesota campaign, Democrat Al Franken is now likely to win. The Minnesota Secretary of State currently puts Coleman's margin at 188 votes, while the Star-Tribune puts it at 192 votes. Starting tomorrow, the state canvassing board will look at the 1,640 remaining challenged ballots. An AP analysis shows that when those challenges are resolved, Franken is likely to gain between 200-350 votes on Coleman, thus handing him victory (more in the extended entry):

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Still Counting, Recounting, and Runoffs, Part 3

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Nov 17, 2008 at 21:00

Part three of my continuing series on the five congressional campaigns with undecided outcomes--Georgia Senate, Minnesota Senate, California 4th, Louisiana 4th, and Ohio 15th--can be found in the extended entry. There are important updates on all five campaigns.
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Still Counting, Recounting and Runoff Compendium

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 16:30

( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

With the Alaska Senate campaign turning heavily in favor of Democrat Mark Begich, in the extended entry I provide a run-down of the five closest campaigns that have still not been called, who is likely to win each campaign, and what it means for the overall balance of power. All of that, plus election forecasting notes can be found in the extended entry.
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MN-Sen: Norm Coleman Rakes in CEO Cash to Keep His Seat

by: Michael Whitney

Mon Oct 27, 2008 at 12:12

In Minnesota's tight race for the Senate, Norm Coleman is depending on millions of dollars from CEOs and wealthy business interests to fund his campaign. CEOs of Target, Supervalu, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, and Pepsi all flooded Coleman's campaign with cash.  Meanwhile, his challenger Al Franken maintains a healthy base of support from in and out of the state, without receiving a dime from Minnesota's CEOs.

The Twin Cities' Business Journal calls Norm Coleman a "Company Man":

It looks like the Twin Cities business community wants to give Sen. Norm Coleman a second term, at least if campaign contributions are any indication.

The Republican incumbent has drawn far more financial support from local executives than Democratic challenger Al Franken has, according to campaign finance records. In fact, CEOs from the state's 50 largest public and 50 largest private companies combined to donate more than $100,000 to Coleman and not a penny to Franken  [...]

Business political action committees (PACs) also overwhelmingly supported Coleman. These groups gave $2.5 million to Coleman and just $15,000 to Franken.

Why the disparity between CEOs support for this Senate seat?  It turns out CEOs are banking on Coleman to protect their veto powers in the workplace, while Franken supports rebuilding the middle class.

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A look at the 2008 Senate races, September edition

by: BruinKid

Sat Sep 13, 2008 at 09:48

(Oh, Yeah! The SENATE! - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

So with the Alaska primary and the conventions now over, it's time for another look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent.  So what are the competitive races?

Again, just to be clear, I don't do predictions.  Every time I do, horrible things happen.  So I won't even make an actual prediction on the Virginia Senate race, because doing so would effectively jinx Mark Warner.  So, I'll rank these in terms of tiers.  The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a legitimate chance of switching (but I ain't guaranteeing anything).  The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point.  Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play.  And the safe seats?  Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

This is meant to be a primer for both newcomers and political junkies alike, so some of the information may seem repetitive for you junkies out there.  Also see my previous August diary to see what things have changed since my last update.

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Senate Forecast, 8/22: Franken and Hagen Catch Up

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 16:32

Current Projection: Democratic Pickup of 6 seats

Republican Held: Democratic Pickups 6
State Type Democratic Republican Dem Cash Margin Polls
Lock D Pickups: 1
Virginia Open Warner Gilmore 4370% D +25.0 2
Likely D Pickups: 3
Alaska Incumbent Begich Stevens* 48% D +15.0 2
New Hampshire Freshman Shaheen Sununu 42% D +9.0 1
New Mexico Open T. Udall Pearce 542% D +8.0 1
Lean D Pickups: 1
Colorado Open M. Udall Schaffer 140% D +6.7 3
Lean R Pickups: 1
Georgia Freshman Martin Chambliss 1% R +6.0 2
Minnesota Freshman Franken Coleman 58% R +3.0 3
Mississippi-B Special Musgrove Wicker 24% R +5.0 2
North Carolina Freshman Hagen Dole 45% R +5.0 5
Likely R Pickups: 0
Idaho Open LaRocco Risch 27% R +10.0 1
Kentucky Incumbent Lunsford McConnell 15% R +11.0 3
Maine Incumbent Allen Collins 61% R +15.0 1
Oregon Incumbent Merkley Smith 13% R +9.0 2
Texas Freshman Noriega Cornyn 10% R +12.0 2

Republican Held, Uncompetitive Republican Locks (9): Alabama (Sessions), Kansas (Roberts), Mississippi-A (Cochran), Nebraska (Open, Johanns), Oklahoma (Inhofe), South Carolina (Graham), Tennessee (Alexander), Wyoming-1 (Barrasso), Wyoming-2 (Enzi)

Democratic Held: Democratic Losses, 0
State Type Democrat Republican Dem Cash Margin Polls
Likely D Losses: 0
Louisiana Incumbent Landrieu Kennedy 204% D +17.0 1
New Jersey Incumbent Lautenberg Zimmer 315% D +9.8 4

Democratic Held, Uncompetitive Democratic Locks (10): Arkansas (Pryor), Delaware (Biden), Illinois (Durbin), Iowa (Harkin), Massachusetts (Kerry), Michigan (Levin), Montana (Baucus), Rhode Island (Reed), South Dakota (Johnson), West Virginia (Rockerfeller)

Analysis in the extended entry.

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MN-Sen: Witness party unity before your eyes

by: BruinKid

Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 07:10

I'll say it up front, I've always been bullish on Al Franken, even when others here were ripping on him, and already giving up on the race, and lamenting how the race would've been better with Ciresi or Nelson-Pallmeyer.  And one of the arguments used against Franken was that he had pissed off some other prominent Minnesota Democrats like Congresspeople Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison and Amy Klobuchar.  There was quite a bit of hand-wringing going on.

Well, take a look below the fold to see what's happened in the last couple days.  (And from the links, yes, I got this stuff from MN Publius.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1200 words in story)
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