Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Battle for Congress Continues


In Alaska, the Senate race between long-time Republican incumbent and convicted felon Ted Stevens and Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich rests on approximately 90,000 uncounted absentee ballots (or 30% of the electorate). Stevens currently leads by over 3,000 votes, but Begich is wisely waiting to see the results of the uncounted ballots.

The statewide House race in the Alaska is also in question as a result of the 90,000 ballots. Republican incumbent Don Young - who has had his fair share of troubles with corruption issues - leads Democrat Ethan Berkowitz by nearly 17,000 votes. Although the election could be overturned by these ballots, it is unlikely to see a scenario in which Berkowitz can win.


The extremely competitive Congressional race in California's 4th District is down to a recount. As of Sunday night, Republican State Sen. Tom McClintock led Democratic challenger and former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Brown by 889 votes.

By yesterday afternoon, McClintock's lead grew to 1,192 votes (or from half a percent to two-thirds of a percent) after the recount in Roseville County was completed. 40,000 ballots are still to be recounted, and both campaigns have begun new fundraising efforts to pay for election lawyers.

In an email to supporters, McClintock said "this is still too close to call, but I'd rather be me than the other guy." In an email to Brown supporters, campaign manager Todd Stenhouse said that the votes yet to be recounted are in counties which did well for Brown, who originally ran for the seat against an incumbent in 2006 against the retiring GOP Rep. John Doolittle.


In Georgia, Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss faces a runoff with Democrat Jim Martin. Chambliss has recruited this year's GOP Presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to stump with him in Cobb County tomorrow. Former presidential candidate and governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) will be stumping for him as well, possibly on Sunday. Chambliss is also reported to have invited Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK), though neither have confirmed.

While it is unlikely that Martin will be able to bring President-Elect Barack Obama out to Georgia, Martin is receiving GOTV help from now unemployed Obama staffers in the Peach State. This will be immensely important for him in order to bring back the large

African-American demographic that voted in record numbers on November 4th - but mostly because Obama was on the ballot.

According to Martin "Those ground troops are more important than big-name politicians for getting voters back to the polls."


Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin was hardly at risk for his seat this year, but new speculations are being raised about the replacement for his colleague - the junior Senator from Illinois - Barack Obama.

Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich is facing pressure from African-American groups to choose a black successor - currently, Obama is the only African-American in the Senate. The most likely contender that comes to mind is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a national co-chair of the Obama campaign. But Jackson has a long and well-known feud with Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, and a lesser known antithesis with Blagojevich.

The other prominent names that are being thrown out there (both Democratic) are Tammy Duckworth (the Iraq War veteran who lost her legs and ran for Congress in 2006) and Emil Jones (the73-year-old black State Senate President).

But as Josh Kraushaar of Politico points out, Blagojevich is an extremely unpopular governor, and an appointment from him could be a "kiss of death."


One competitive House race in Louisiana will also come down to a runoff election on December 6th. In the 4th Congressional District, Democratic Caddo DA Paul Carmouche faces the former Republican Webster Coroner Josh Fleming, to replace the retiring GOP Rep. Jim McCrery.

According to, Carmouche has conducted a new internal poll which shows the District Attorney is up by ten points. The Democrats are already running an ad for the runoff, attacking Fleming for supporting a large national sales tax and privatizing Social Security. The NRCC says they will be running ads soon too.


The Baltimore Sun reported last night that GOP State Sen. Andy Harris of Baltimore County has conceded defeat to Democratic State Attorney Frank Kratovil. He appears to lead Harris by about .6% in this hotly contested race in a conservative district.

According to Political Scientist Matthew Grenson of Johns Hopkins University, the national Democratic successes this year played a role, as well as the Libertarian candidate who managed about 2.5% of the vote.


The most anticipated recount in the nation is the Minnesota Senate race between GOP incumbent Norm Coleman and the Democratic former comedian, Al Franken. Since Election Day, Coleman's lead over Franken has dropped from 725 votes to just 221.

Most surprisingly, nearly all of those new Franken votes came from only three precincts. The new numbers are a result of correcting typos made by "exhausted county officials" according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The recount will begin on November 19th.

And if this race wasn't tense enough, Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said on MSNBC today of the Coleman campaign "Their goal is to win at any price."


In Ohio's 15th Congressional District, GOP State Senator Steve Stivers leads Democratic Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy by the closest margin of all House races nationally - 149 votes (according to Congressional Quarterly).

As of now there are more than 20,000 ballots to be counted in Franklin County. If the margin is within half a percent when the official results are released November 25th, there will be an automatic recount. Obviously, we will have to follow this race closely.


The 5th Congressional District race in Virginia is looking good for the Democrats. Tom Perriello, a faith-based initiative organizer and Democrat won his race with a 407 vote lead over GOP incumbent Rep. Virgil Goode, according to the State Board of Elections.

But Goode is hanging on, claiming that roughly 20% of the precincts in the district reported irregularities. "We will continue to fight to make sure that every single legitimate vote in the Fifth District is accurately counted and reported," he said. The Goode campaign is sure to demand a recount.

Stay tuned to WAYLA where we continue to update the House and Senate spreads daily - until the last seat is finalized.

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