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11/7/06: News Article Roundup

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Since I don't want the exit polls and results thread to be full of 50 page news stories on how voting machines all shut down and every third party vote was lost, I'm making this thread.  Since this is the local election, my hope is that people can find weird and crazy stories. 

--- Quote ---It's a Candidate Calling. Again.
Republicans Deny Subterfuge as Phone Barrages Anger Voters

By Charles Babington and Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 7, 2006; A08

This year's heavy volume of automated political phone calls has infuriated countless voters and triggered sharp complaints from Democrats, who say the Republican Party has crossed the line in bombarding households with recorded attacks on candidates in tight House races nationwide.

Some voters, sick of interrupted dinners and evenings, say they will punish the offending parties by opposing them in today's elections. But critics say Republicans crafted the messages to delude voters -- especially those who hang up quickly -- into thinking that Democrats placed the calls.

Republicans denied the allegation, noting that their party acknowledges its authorship at the recorded calls' end. After citizens' complaints in New Hampshire, however, the National Republican Congressional Committee agreed to end the calls to households on the federal do-not-call list, even though the law exempts political messages from such restrictions.

Whether "robo-calls" are positive or negative, mean-spirited or humorous, thousands of Americans are sick of them, according to campaign organizations that have been fielding complaints over the past two weeks.

An Ohio woman, who did not leave her name, called The Washington Post in tears yesterday, saying she could not keep her phone line open to hospice workers caring for her terminally ill mother because of nonstop political robo-calls.

Pamela Lorenz, a retired nurse in Roseville, Calif., called her own experience "harassment as far as I'm concerned" and said, "If I were voting right now, the opponent who's doing this, he'd be off my list for throwing that much trash."

Hour after hour and day after day for two weeks, Lorenz's home has received the same NRCC recorded message attacking Charlie Brown, the Democrat who is challenging Rep. John T. Doolittle (R) in a hard-fought battle in northeastern California. "It is a recorder calling," Lorenz said. "I can't call it back to get them to stop."

Voters in Northern Virginia have been exposed to fewer of the aggressive "push poll" type calls than elsewhere. But they said they have been getting so many of the conventional automated calls plugging candidates that they have started hanging up as soon as the recordings begin or screening them with caller ID.

"I hang up as soon I hear it start. I've already heard most of what people have to say. I don't have time to listen to them," said Angela Elliott, a Fairfax Circle resident who is registered as an independent and has been getting more Democratic calls than Republican ones.

Nicholas Beltrante, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, said he has been getting an average of three to five automated calls per day from both Democrats and Republicans. "I made up my mind weeks ago, and the moment I identify them as one of those calls I just hang up," he said.

As annoyed as they are, Northern Virginia voters said their irritation will not prompt them to vote against the campaigns placing the calls, because the calls are positive in nature.

Jane Edmondson, a McLean community activist, registered Democrat and Democratic donor, said she has stopped answering calls that appear as 800 or 877 numbers on her caller ID, for fear that they are robo-calls. At church Sunday, she said, she and others were jealous of one churchgoer who said his caller ID identifies campaign calls as "political calls." "We all said, 'Why don't we get that?' " she said.

Democrats cited federal records indicating that the NRCC recently spent about $600,000 in at least 45 contested House districts for robo-calls, which are among the least expensive campaign tools. The brief calls typically begin with a speaker offering "some information" about the Democratic nominee and then immediately accusing the nominee of seeking to raise taxes, among other perceived wrongs.

Many voters hang up as soon as a robo-call begins -- without waiting for the criticisms or the NRCC sign-off at the end -- so they think it was placed by the Democratic candidate named at the start, said Sarah Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Our candidates are inundated with phone calls from furious Democrats and independents saying . . . 'I'm outraged and I'm not going to vote for you anymore,' " she said.

Feinberg said some voters have received robo-calls late at night, despite federal rules barring such calls after 9 p.m. NRCC spokesman Carl Forti said his organization ends all calls by 9 nightly.

Democrats also cited Federal Communications Commission guidelines saying the originators of automated calls must identify themselves at the beginning of each call. Republican Party lawyers, however, said the requirement does not apply to political nonprofit organizations. They rebuffed a "cease and desist" letter sent yesterday by the DCCC.

In a conference call with reporters yesterday, the DCCC chairman, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), compared the widespread robo-calling to a 2002 Republican effort in New Hampshire to jam Democratic phone lines to prevent the Democrats' get-out-the-vote effort. The Republican National Committee has spent more than $2 million to defend its officials in the case, he said. "Make no mistake, this is a dirty trick, one they've done before, one they've gotten caught on and one they continue to do," Emanuel said.

Karyn Hollis, a Villanova University English professor who supports Democrat Lois Murphy in her bid to oust Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), said she has received numerous robo-calls attacking Murphy. "You just get sick of these calls," Hollis said. A quick hang-up can lead the recipient to conclude that Murphy supporters placed the call, she said. Listening to the full message, she said, subjects the voter to a litany of attacks against Murphy.

"It's a double thing," Hollis said. "Either way they win."

Many robo-calls involve celebrities and are positive and straightforward, such as recordings from former president Bill Clinton urging voters to support Democratic nominees. In New Jersey, comic actor Joe Piscopo has recorded messages on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr.

In Connecticut, NRCC robo-calls have targeted Dianne Farrell, the Democrat seeking to unseat Rep. Christopher Shays (R). Asked if Farrell has her own automated calls, campaign spokeswoman Jan Ellen Spiegel replied: "Only one, and it's rather distinctive because it's Paul Newman. We haven't gotten complaints about that one."
--- End quote ---

--- Quote ---Angry Campaigns End on an Angrier Note
Iraq War Remains Paramount Issue as Voters Go to Polls

By Jim VandeHei and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 7, 2006; A01

As the 2006 campaign staggered to an angry close, national security and the Iraq war dominated the final-day debate of midterm elections in which national themes, not simply local choices, have framed the most competitive races. Democrats said a vote for them would force change in Iraq strategy, while President Bush led the GOP charge in warning that the opposition party cannot be trusted in a time of war.

Dozens of too-close-to-call House and Senate races finished on a surly tone, as the traditional political strategy of shifting to a positive message at campaign's end gave way this year to a calculation that the best chance to tip the balance was through continued attacks over personal character and alleged corruption.

But strategists on both sides said yesterday that national security broadly -- and Iraq specifically -- are likely to determine control of Congress today. Unlike in the 2002 and 2004 elections, when Republicans held a decisive edge on national security, polls over the past year have shown the public losing faith in the war and the GOP, and Democratic candidates nationwide were using their last TV advertising dollars on spots critical of Iraq policy.

"I think, frankly, people don't believe the president anymore" when it comes to the war, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, echoing other party leaders, said in an interview. "We are telling people if they want to stay the course, vote Republican. If you want a change of direction, vote Democrat."

Bush, however, was betting that the Republican Party's historic advantage with voters in times when security issues are prominent will pay dividends again. "As you go to the polls, remember we're at war," he told thousands of GOP supporters in Pensacola, Fla. "And if you want this country to do everything in its power to protect you and at the same time lay a foundation for peace for generations to come, vote Republican."

Democrats confidently predicted that they will win control of the House and trim if not topple the GOP's Senate majority. Republican operatives, however, said there is mounting evidence that fears about the nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea, coupled with more generalized doubts about Democratic competence and fortitude on national security, have provided GOP candidates with much-needed momentum in the final days. GOP tracking polls, these strategists said, have shown a slight but steady uptick since Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), in what he called a botched joke, suggested that uneducated people end up fighting in Iraq -- a comment that infuriated top Democrats despite the 2004 presidential nominee's repeated apologies and explanations.

"All of those things remind people we are at war and the importance of the national security issue," said Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

There are more than two dozen House races and at least five Senate contests that both sides considered too close to call heading into Election Day. A series of public polls released over the past few days offers contradictory findings about the public's views nationally and in many key races, confounding strategists in both parties. Some surveys show Republicans gaining on the generic question of whom respondents plan to vote for, while others suggest that Democrats are pulling away. The most recent, from CNN, showed Democrats with a 20-point advantage on the generic ballot question, which asks people which party they prefer but does not offer a choice between specific candidates.

Whether Republicans will succumb to adverse trends or manage to at least partly blunt them will determine whether Democrats can win back the House or Senate or both -- all scenarios that could dramatically change the trajectory of Bush's final two years in office.

Regardless of the margins, officials in both parties are planning for the stiffest challenge yet to Bush's war policy when Congress returns for its lame-duck session next week. Lawmakers are also bracing for GOP leadership changes in the House and Senate and a new policy agenda that is not dictated by the White House. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a leader of House conservatives, has told colleagues that he plans to seek a top leadership position, congressional aides said.

Democrats, who lost control of the House in 1994, need a net gain of 15 seats to win it back. Republicans generally agree that the opposition is on track to do that, but they hold out hope that a superior voter-turnout effort will tip just enough races to preserve the narrowest of House majorities.

A top GOP strategist said yesterday that several GOP House members who appeared safe one month ago -- including Reps. Charles Bass (N.H.) and Melissa Hart (Pa.) -- are in serious jeopardy. If Bass and Hart lose, it could signal mass casualties for the GOP, other strategists say.

Senior strategists in both parties said the GOP is virtually certain to lose 10 seats, mostly because of a variety of scandals. If these projections are correct, Republicans would have to win more than three-quarters of the 30 or so races that were tied heading into the final weekend.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who released a survey of 50 districts yesterday showing Democrats up 49 percent to 44 percent, said Republicans have closed the gap slightly, but not enough to save their majority. "I don't see any evidence of anything but a minor pushback of getting some of the most partisan Republicans re-engaged," Greenberg said. Using his poll, he predicted Democrats will win 30 to 35 seats "as a conservative estimate."

It will be much harder for Democrats to pick up the six seats needed to control the Senate. GOP Sens. Mike DeWine (Ohio) and Rick Santorum (Pa.) are far behind in state-based polling, but Republicans have a shot at winning the five other targeted GOP seats: in Missouri, Montana, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. Republicans also have a chance to pick up Democratic seats in Maryland and New Jersey, though both are uphill efforts.

Three premier contests -- Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia -- have been in the tossup category for several weeks. Republicans said yesterday that they think Tennessee is the most likely of the three to remain in their hands. Democrats said a big turnout among black voters is Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr.'s best chance for a narrow victory over former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, who polls show has taken control of the race in recent days. In Virginia, Sen. George Allen (R) is fighting for his political life against Democrat James Webb, while the race in Missouri between Sen. James M. Talent (R) and State Auditor Claire McCaskill is considered the tightest.

Two other races have given Republicans reason to hope that they can hold the Senate. In Rhode Island, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R) has closed the gap in his contest against former attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse. But Chafee is running into one of the stiffest headwinds in the country, with only about a quarter of voters there approving of Bush's performance.

In Montana, weekend polls painted a conflicting picture of the battle between Sen. Conrad Burns (R) and state Senate President Jon Tester. One survey showed a tie, while another gave Tester a clear lead. Bush and Vice President Cheney campaigned there last week, but Tester has been getting help from popular Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Campaign volunteers continued to make telephone calls and walk precincts in the most contested races in an effort to maximize voter turnout. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that as of Saturday, 41 percent of registered voters said they had been contacted directly by a campaign or party, up from 29 percent two weeks earlier.

Of those who said they had been contacted, 29 percent said they had heard from Republicans, 20 percent said they had heard from Democrats and 41 percent said they had been contacted by both parties. Several officials said this comports with anecdotal evidence that Republicans have done a better job than Democrats of reaching voters in the final stretch.

"We've got to get our votes out," former president Bill Clinton said during a campaign stop for House candidates in New York. "There are still people who will go to the polls tomorrow not entirely sure of who they're going to vote for because, frankly, a lot of these people never voted for us before."
--- End quote ---


The sad decline of the long and powerful Democratic stronghold in Maryland continues.  All of these generations-old liberal families must be breeding ignorant kids.

--- Quote ---Are state Dems missing the boat?

National polls show Democrats in ascendance, but GOP candidates seem to be gaining ground here

HYATTSVILLE — Just weeks ago, it appeared as if Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin were ready to ride a national Democratic tide to convincing victories on Nov. 7.

Maryland’s 2-to-1 advantage in Democratic voter registrations combined with deepening disapproval of President Bush, the Iraq war and various Republican scandals in Congress was considered a perfect storm for a party accustomed to decades of dominance in statewide elections. After all, U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) trounced Bush by double digits in Maryland in 2004 and Democrats control nearly all levers of political power except the governor’s office.

Instead, a poll released this week by The (Baltimore) Sun suggests that the gubernatorial race is a dead heat, with O’Malley (D) losing a once-comfortable lead under a barrage of negative ads from incumbent Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

And on Thursday, the poll, conducted by Potomac Inc. of Bethesda, found that Cardin’s once formidable lead over Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) has been sliced in half despite the Democratic Party’s constant efforts to tie Steele to the unpopular president and the national GOP.

‘‘If it wasn’t such a bad year for the Republicans, you have to wonder whether Steele would be ahead today,” said Jennifer Duffy, editor of the Cook Political Report in Washington that recently painted the Cardin-Steele race as a toss-up. ‘‘I think Democrats underestimated Steele, and they really believed that he wasn’t going to do anything.”

So in a year where Democrats are predicting that they could retake control of Congress, Democrats in blue Maryland are still fighting to energize their most loyal voting bloc — African Americans — and turning back the specter that Ehrlich and⁄or Steele could survive the national Democratic upswing.

‘‘If the Democrats lose this, we have no one to blame but ourselves,” said one senior Democratic leader.

Despite the findings of The Sun poll that showed Cardin with a 74 percent to 12 percent edge among African- American voters, the Democratic Party is pulling out the stops — and importing its national star power — to get out the vote. Cardin led Steele by more than 10 points in a poll by The Washington Post published Sunday.

Democratic superstar U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is making his second trip to Prince George’s County today to rally voters at Bowie State University. There is also talk that former president Bill Clinton will make a return to Maryland before Tuesday.

‘‘You always sprint to the finish line,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D), who said that the Democratic luminaries coming to town is traditional election-year protocol. ‘‘If you take something for granted, that’s when you get in trouble.”

On Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Dist. 4) of Mitchellville and Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) — both of whom have been in political hibernation since both eked out narrow victories in their primaries — finally threw their support behind Cardin. Wynn and Johnson were joined by a number of black leaders from Prince George’s at Victory House in Hyattsville to say that the Democratic Party’s values trump the importance of electing Steele, an African American and a Prince George’s native.

‘‘We’re here to remind Democrats about the big issues,” Johnson said. ‘‘This is between two candidates who stand differently on key issues, and it should not be decided on racial issues. ... I want an African American in office, but I want one who is qualified.”

‘‘I have strong support among the voters,” Cardin said. ‘‘People understand the stark differences between me and my opponent. Voters in Prince George’s County are voting on issues. They want someone who will represent them and make changes and stand up to the president on issues such as Iraq.”

Retiring Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah (D-Dist. 26) of Hillcrest Heights said the Cardin-Steele race presents a difficult choice for black Democrats. She said it’s a choice between ‘‘legacy and loyalty.”

Lawlah agreed that Maryland’s statewide races should not be as close as they are, given the national sentiment against the GOP. But, she said, there is discontent among some African Americans.

‘‘It’s disappointing,” said Lawlah, a candidate for Prince George’s County school board, who endorsed Cardin on Thursday. ‘‘Maryland is supposed to be a solid Democratic state. To have this situation of being highly competitive is disappointing ... but it has energized us. We want a clean sweep.”

This week, the racial tensions that plagued the Democrats in 2002 and helped to sink the gubernatorial campaign of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, have boiled over once again. On Monday, an influential group of Prince George’s County African-American Democrats crossed party lines and endorsed Steele.

Former Prince George’s county executive Wayne K. Curry, a charismatic Democrat who remains a powerhouse in county political and business circles, led the group. Five black Democratic council members and Major F. Riddick Jr., former chief of staff to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), joined Curry in denouncing the Democratic Party for its all-white top ticket this year.

Ivey called the Steele endorsements ‘‘a blip,” but for Democrats, the message it sent was both troublesome and familiar. The theme hammered home by the Steele supporters was that the Democratic Party has taken African-American voters for granted far too long.

‘‘We feel ignored and marginalized by the Democratic Party,” County Councilman David Harrington (D) said Monday. ‘‘We decided that we needed to stand up and make a statement that we weren’t going to wait any longer.”

This year, as in 2002, this race-based resentment has focused around a particular set of events. In 2002, it was Townsend, in her zest to burnish her moderate credentials, bypassing Isiah Leggett, now the odds-on favorite to be Montgomery County executive, and choosing a white former Republican as her running mate. This year, it is the zeal with which party leaders coalesced around Cardin in his primary against former Baltimore congressman Kweisi Mfume that has angered many African Americans.

Cardin outspent Mfume and won the nomination by less than 20,000 votes. Demonstrating Mfume’s political potency, Cardin officials handed out mailers with Mfume endorsing Cardin at Thursday’s news conference.

Rushern L. Baker III, a former Prince George’s County delegate and a Cardin supporter, said Curry’s complaint against the Democratic Party is legitimate.

‘‘If we are to move the Democratic Party forward and say that we’re not about the good ol’ boy network any more, the party needs to recognize where the grumbling is coming from,” said Baker, who narrowly lost to Johnson in this year’s Democratic primary. ‘‘The party needs to open up the top of the ticket.”

Meanwhile, Steele was endorsed Thursday by about 20 pastors of black churches from across the state in Annapolis. Standing in front of the statue of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall on Lawyer’s Mall, Steele unveiled a ‘‘Marshall Plan” of social programs.

‘‘I don’t know anyone who wants to be poor. I don’t know anyone who wants to be illiterate. I don’t know anyone who wants to be cast aside in society,” he said.

His plan includes promoting anti-poverty legislation, fully funding No Child Left Behind education law and increasing foreign aid to African and Caribbean countries.

He also would fight for small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses. The plan includes planks to combat HIV⁄AIDS and drug addiction, to help nonprofit and faith-based organizations work with the government and to increase health insurance enrollment for small-business employees.

Steele said he would introduce legislation to reverse disparities in criminal sentencing procedures.

A reporter suggested the plan looked more like one from a Democrat instead of a Republican.

‘‘I don’t know what Republicans are going to do,” Steele said. ‘‘I just know what Michael Steele is going to do.”

Staff writers Douglas Tallman and Jason Flanagan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Gazette
--- End quote ---

may Goddess have mercy on our souls.

This Diebold/robocalling shit reeks. God. Everyday it seems like we're watching the slow-but-sure declince of America.

slow?  Maybe on some fronts, but put them all together and it don't feel slow to me.


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