GET THE BALLOTS TO THE TROOPS ON TIME: It seems this happens every two years. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department announced a suit against the state of New York for missing the deadline to mail ballots to U.S. troops overseas. Under the 2009 MOVE ACT, absentee ballots are required to be sent to troops, government workers and other Americans abroad no later than 45 days before Election Day. The deadline this year was September 18, but New York got an okay from the Pentagon to mail ballots by October 1 because the state’s primary was only four days before the deadline. “It’s unacceptable any state would fail to meet” its obligations to get ballots to troops abroad,” said David Norcross, chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association.
OBAMA’S FREE AIR TIME: As he attempts to rally the youth vote that was such an asset to him in ’08, President Obama got some help last week from three networks popular with young people. Viacom networks MTV, BET, and CMT presented “A Conversation with President Obama,” live and commercial-free, on October 14. A spokesman for MTV insisted to HUMAN EVENTS’ Emily Miller that “We’re not giving an hour of free time to the President to freely express his views. We’re hosting a town meeting with 250 young people to ask questions of the President.” Asked by Miller whether Viacom plans to hold a similar town meeting for a Republican, the spokesman replied: “There’s nothing on our current schedule.”
WATCH CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES: With the odds growing that Republicans will take control of the House next month, maneuvering has already started for committee chairmanships. Although Rep. Spencer Bacchus (R.-Ala.) has had only two two-year terms as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and is eligible for a third, he is likely to be challenged for the gavel by three other conservative Republicans on the panel: Representatives Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), Ed Royce (Calif.), and Scott Garrett (N.J.). Former House Energy Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) is unlikely to get a waiver for another stint, thus setting the stage for a fight between moderate Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) and the more conservative Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.)
GOP LOOKS STRONG IN FINAL STRETCH: That’s what the latest voter surveys, including a just-completed Gallup Poll, show. With less than three weeks to go before the midterm elections, Gallup found that, with a high turnout among likely voters nationwide, Republican candidates for Congress are favored over Democrats by a 53%-to-41%margin. In a lower turnout, Gallup showed, Republican candidates lead Democrats 56% to 39%. With 90% of Democrats and Republicans planning to back their parties’ nominees next month, Independents assume great importance. The Gallup survey finds that independents back Republican candidates over Democrats by 54% to 33% in a higher turnout and 57% to 32% in a lower turnout.
DEM COMMIITTEES KILLING WEAK CANDIDATES’ ADS: With polls showing an increasing number of Democratic House members trailing Republican challengers, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week canceled ad buys in six districts and reduced their buys in three others. According to Jeremy Jacobs of the Hotline, the DCCC pulled ad reservations for freshman Representatives Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), and Steve Driehaus (Ohio)—all of whom are running behind in re-election bids—and reservations for three nominees for open districts being relinquished by Democrats: Trent Van Haaften (Ind.-8), Roy Herron (Tenn.-8), and Stephene Moore (Kan.-3). The DCCC also reduced the size of its ad buys on behalf of Democratic Representatives Larry Kissell (N.C.), Chet Edwards (Tex.) and Steve Kagen (Wis.). The DCCC has already spent more than $800,000 on behalf of Kissell, who is considered running behind GOP nominee Harold Johnson, a former sportscaster.
LISA LURCHES LEFT: After conservative Joe Miller defeated Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski for renomination, the moderate incumbent hinted she would run as a write-in candidate. Miller told HUMAN EVENTS at the time that a Murkowski write-in campaign would probably hurt Democratic nominee Scott McAdams more than him because “no Republican is bolting for her and the only thing she can do is move to the left now.” Sure enough, Murkowski’s new consultant on her write-in campaign, Cathy Allen, has worked primarily for liberal Democrats, among them, former Alaska Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles, Murkowski’s ’04 opponent. Allen advised him when he ran for mayor of Anchorage in 1981. Murkowski’s new campaign co-chairman Byron Mallott said at a rally last week that “I’ve been nominally a Democrat.” When asked at an Anchorage Chamber of Commerce forum whom she admired most in the Senate, Murkowski named Tom Carper (Del.) and Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), both liberal Democrats.
LOOK WHERE GIBBS USED TO WORK!: As President Obama stepped up his attacks on groups running political ads who do not disclose their contributors and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last week called on groups running commercials to “Simply tell us who you are!,” Chris Moody of the “Daily Caller” website reminded the White House of a liberal advocacy group that ran scathing ads in 2003-04 and never disclosed who was funding them. Most significantly, it turns out, the spokesman for Americans for Jobs, Health Care, and Progressive Values was one Robert Gibbs. One noteworthy spot was directed at then-presidential hopeful Howard Dean and featured a photograph of Osama bin Laden. As the ad was being run, Dean spokesman Tricia Enright told the New York Times: “Whoever is behind this should crawl out from underneath their rock and have the courage to say who they are.”
SOCIALISTS BACK OBAMA STIMULUS PACKAGE: With President Obama’s economic stimulus package and Democrats who voted for it under fire on the campaign trail, the package nonetheless got some ringing endorsements at another forum last week: the IMF/World Bank meeting. At an opening day panel hosted by the BBC, former Obama top economic advisor Christina Romer said that the stimulus policies of ’09 “absolutely were essential for stopping what was the coming of a second Great Depression.” Romer acknowledged that the U.S. economy is “in a much bigger free-fall than any of us understood” and that the 9.6% unemployment is higher than the 7% figure she forecast a year ago, but insisted simply “that the economy needs more help, both monetary and fiscal.” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, agreed with Romer. “That’s absolutely right,” said the man considered the leading Socialist candidate for president of France in 2012, “Stimulus works here in the U.S. and all over the world.” Another Socialist, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinov, also weighed in behind the stimulus package, as did former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz (who added that the since the recovery is not strong enough, what is needed is a “second round of stimulus”). Perhaps the most interesting comment came from Xiaochuan Zhou, governor of the People’s Central Bank of China, who praised the stimulus policy but “if public confidence declines, maybe you should reconsider.”