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News from the Votemaster

Reid Puts His Political Machine to Work for Berkley

Just when Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) thought he could stop campaigning and start governing after a come-from-behind reelection fight in 2010, he finds himself back in campaign mode. Only this time it is for Shelley Berkley, who is running for the other Nevada Senate seat. The Democrats have a number of very vulnerable open seats up this year, for example in Virginia, North Dakota and Nebraska, and only a handful of potential pickups.

One of those is in Nevada where appointed senator Dean Heller is running his first Senate election campaign. Heller was appointed when he predecessor, John Ensign, resigned under great pressure after it came out that he had a long affair with his chief of staff's wife. That in itself wasn't enough to cause the Republican caucus to put the squeeze on Ensign, but when it also came out that his wealthy parents had given "gifts" of $96,000 to the chief of staff and his wife--precisely the legal limit for tax-free gifts--then it began to look fishy and Ensign resigned. At that point Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) appointed then Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) to the Senate. Now Heller has to face the people.

Reid's powerful machine is now revving up for Berkley, a seven-term congresswoman from Las Vegas. While elected senators win reelection about 90% of the time, appointed ones win only about the half the time, so Reid has high hopes that if he can raise enough money he can put Berkley over the top in this increasingly blue state, thus countering a loss in North Dakota, Nebraska, Virginia, Missouri, or Montana.

Rubio First Choice for Veep in CPAC Straw Poll

In a straw poll held at the conservative CPAC meeting this weekend, attendees expressed a preference for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as Mitt Romney's running mate. The usual reasons were given: he is young and charismatic, he is a Latino, he is from the mother of all swing states, etc. If John McCain were the nominee, Rubio might have a good chance, but Romney is not an impulsive gambler like McCain, and is more likely to go with a less dramatic but safer choice like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) or Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN). In the poll, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) came in second and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was third.