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House Dem 257   GOP 178  

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PW logo Murphy Gains Again in NY-20 Dodd Gets Key Ally
Quote of the Day Coleman Begins Media Blitz
Republicans See NY-20 Settled by Judges Dean Mends Fences with Emanuel

News from the Votemaster

Fight Brewing Over Minnesota Justices     Permalink

With former senator Norm Coleman (R) planning to appeal his loss of the 2008 Senate election to senator-elect Al Franken (D) to the Minnesota Supreme Court, a lot of attention is going to be focused on the seven members of that court. Here is the lineup.

Justice Appointed Party Notes
Eric Magnuson (Chief) 2008 GOP Served on the canvassing board that counted the votes
Alan Page 1993 Elected Appointed three-judge panel that oversaw the recount
Paul Anderson 1994 GOP No known political associations
Helen Meyer 2002 Ind. Donated money to Democrats in the past (not Franken)
G. Barry Anderson 2004 GOP Served on the canvassing board that counted the votes
Lorie Gildea 2006 GOP Husband works for state House Republican leadership
Christopher Dietzen 2008 GOP Donated $500 to Coleman's campaigns twice

Justice Alan Page, a former NFL football star and the only black ever to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court, was elected to the court in 1992. The other members were appointed by governors of the party indicated in the table above. At least two of the justices, Magnuson, and Barry Anderson, are expected to recuse themselves from the case because they served on the canvassing board that oversaw the recount. Gildea and Dietzen are going to be flashpoints because Gildea's husband works for the state Republican Party and Dietzen contributed money to Coleman's campaign. Meyer is slightly less controversial because she was appointed by Independent governor Jesse Ventura and although she donated money to Democrats in the past, she didn't directly support one of the litigants before the court as Dietzen did. Justices are legally entitled to contribute to political campaigns, but when one of the recipients of a justice's money appears before the court, it certainly gives the impression of impropriety if the justice fails to recuse himself. On the other hand, Magnuson and Barry Anderson, both Republicans, served on the canvassing board that determined that Franken won the election. While it is hard to believe, in some states, including Minnesota, judges actually attempt to apply the law impartially rather than pulling out all stops to help their party. This could be in Ripley's Believe It or Not!.

Murphy Leads Tedisco by 86 Votes     Permalink

While the absentee ballots are still being counted, things are looking up for Democrat Scott Murphy in his neck-and-neck race with Republican Jim Tedisco in the battle to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand in NY-20. Currently Murphy leads by 86 votes, with five counties yet to fully report their absentee ballots. The problem for Tedisco is that four of the remaining counties went for Murphy and the other was a tossup.

Tedisco has already started court proceedings to challenge some ballots. Minnesota here we come. There is a difference though. If Coleman loses in Minnesota, he will never be a U.S. senator again. Six years from now, all the voters will remember about him is that he is a sore loser. With Tedisco it is different. He could graciously accept defeat and immediately file for the the 2010 election. After all, the campaign will begin in full swing in less than a year. Dragging this out in the courts for months will also make him look like a sore loser. Voters don't like that.

However, the court battles may not last so long. Yesterday, Judge James Brands ruled that 1200 absentee ballots (many from Murphy-friendly Columbia County) that Tedisco had objected to are valid and must be counted. The issue was largely whether people who own a home in the district and also a home outside the district can claim to be residents for voting purposes. One of the people Tedisco challenged was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who not only has a home in the district, but represented it in Congress until she was appointed to the Senate in January.

Tedisco has challenged far more absentee ballots than Murphy. It is presumed that when a candidate challenges a ballot, he expects that most likely it is a vote for the other guy. If Judge Brands continues to rule in favor of counting more ballots, it is likely to help Murphy.

Retirement Rundown     Permalink

When a member of Congress retires, it leaves behind an open seat, which is much more likely to flip than an occupied seat. In the past three House cycles, 61 Republicans have retired, compared to only 28 Democrats. It is likely that more Republicans than Democrats will retire at the end of this term as well, simply because minority members in the House--even those with decades of seniority--have virtually no power at all. Faced with irrelevance, sometimes older members in the minority just give up and retire. Stuart Rothenberg has an interesting column about retirements and the consequences thereof.

Carney Running for Castle's House Seat     Permalink

Nine-term congressman Mike Castle (R-DE) is a bit of an anomaly--a seemingly unbeatable Republican in a very Democratic state. However, his luck may be running out as the state's former lieutenant governor, John Carney (D), has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Castle in 2010. Carney is well known in the state and has a good chance of defeating Castle. However, Castle, may not be interested in running. He may go for the state's open Senate seat in 2010 or he may retire. No matter what Castle decides, with a serious challenger like Carney in the mix, this House seat is likely to flip to the Democrats.

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