US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader

They're off and running! And so is our coverage of the 2010 Mid-Term Elections. Here are stories from around the country on races for Federal, state and local offices.

In Connecticut, Lamont Tacks to the Center
The New York Times reports on how Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman who won an insurgent campaign against Senator Joe Lieberman by running left with his anti-war stance, is tacking to the center in his bid to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in the Constitution state. The primary is Tuesday.

As Mr. Lamont gears up for the Democratic primary for governor on Tuesday , progressives are grumbling that he has talked too much about tax breaks and streamlining red tape, and not enough about issues dear to labor unions and government watchdogs.

Modeling himself after Lowell P. Weicker Jr., a former Republican who became an independent, Mr. Lamont has vowed to shake up Hartford, and even borrowed Mr. Weicker’s “Nobody’s Man But Yours” slogan from his successful 1990 race for governor.

And some bloggers who had thrown themselves behind Mr. Lamont’s Senate bid have been lukewarm or indifferent. When Mr. Lamont announced his candidacy in February, using the word “business” more than a dozen times in his speech, My Left Nutmeg, a liberal Web site, ran the headline: “Ned Lamont announces for Governor.”

“If Lamont’s supposed hard-core supporters cannot rouse themselves to cheer his announcement, complete with fawning video, how in the wide world of sports is he supposed to win this thing?” one blogger wrote.

The 2010 version of Ned Lamont offers yet another striking sign of how a rough national landscape for Democrats is influencing politics at the local level.

By repositioning himself as a business-friendly centrist, Mr. Lamont is betting that liberals will give him a pass, if begrudgingly, because Democrats are desperate to capture the State Capitol for the first time since 1986.

The President Heads to Texas
President Obama heads to Austin and Dallas on Monday where the main event is a Democratic National Committee luncheon expected to raise $750,000 to $1 million. Tickets start at $5,000 per couple. The Texas Democratic Party will receive $250,000 to help build the party in the Lone Star State. The Dallas Morning News has more on the President's visit to Texas.

The political realities for Texas Democrats are stark – in part because backlash against Obama and his policies has fueled Republican energy. Democrats had hoped for years that by 2010, demographic shifts would help them regain a statewide office or reclaim the state House, but both goals remain major challenges.

The lunch in Austin will be followed by a speech at the University of Texas. Afterwards, the President flies to Dallas where he will attend a fundraiser at the Highland Park home of attorney Russell Budd and his wife, Dorothy. The event is to raise money for the DSCC.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White has opted to steer clear of the President whose popularity in Texas leaves much to be desired. As of late July, Rasmussen finds that 63 percent of Texans disapprove of Obama's performance (with 56 percent "strongly" disapproving). The Austin American-Statesman looks at the calculated risk that Bill White is taking by staying away from Obama and finds there's really not much downside.

In Florida, Tea Party Movement Raising Millions for Conservatives
The Orlando Sentinel has a story on the financial rewards that the ultra-conservative Republican candidates are reaping from their involvement in the Tea Party Movement. Allen West has raised nearly $3.5 million for his rematch with Rep. Ron Klein in the Florida Twenty-second Congressional District. Marco Rubio has harnessed Tea Party support to help rack up $11.6 million of campaign funds in his bid to win the Senate seat.

There's more...

Ned Lamont to Announce Run for Governor in Connecticut

Ned Lamont, who upset Joe Lieberman in the August 2006 Democratic primary before losing to Lieberman in the general election, will announce that he is a candidate for governor in the Nutmeg State according to the Hartford Courant.

Greenwich cable television entrepreneur Ned Lamont will officially announce Tuesday morning that he is running for governor.

The announcement will be made at the Old State House in downtown Hartford, which is the same site where Lamont launched his candidacy against U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman.

Lamont will be joining a field in which three Democrats have already dropped out - Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz of Middletown, former House Speaker James Amann of Milford, and state Sen. Gary LeBeau of East Hartford. The race has become wide open since Gov. M. Jodi Rell's announcement last year that she was not seeking re-election.

Ned Lamont will enter the race as the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic nomination. In the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, Lamont polled 27 percent well ahead former Stamford mayor Dannel Malloy who had 11 percent. Three others - Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi and former state Rep. Juan Figueroa of Meriden - are also in the Democratic race but polling in the low single digits.

Now Who'll Run Against Joe in '12? Chris Dodd?

As of this afternoon, Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal is officially running for Senate. Folks who've spent time in Connecticut may remember that Blumenthal was famous until today for almost running for higher office every cycle but never pulling the trigger. For comparison's sake, Elliot Spitzer used to be mentioned in the same breath as Blumenthal as a rising star Attorney General destined for bigger things. In the time Blumenthal's been Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer went from government attorney to private attorney to Attorney General to Governor to Slate Columnist. It's good to see Blumenthal step in to run for Chris Dodd's now-open seat. It does raise the question though of who will run against Joe Lieberman if Joementum tries to test his luck again in 2012 (there was a rumor Blumenthal would run against Lieberman in '12, although then again they said the same thing in '06). I suspect Ned Lamont will take another go at it, assuming he doesn't become the Governor of Connecticut first. That would be fun. More outlandish: A restless Chris Dodd, figuring the sheen of scandal has faded, unretires himself to run for the other Nutmeg State Senate seat. After all, Joe Lieberman makes most anybody look good. Even if Joe ran as an Indy and not a GOPer, I think he'd pull more GOP than Dem votes. An outlandish scenario I guess, but a fun one to ponder.

Connecticut Governor Rell Won't Seek Re-election

In a surprise, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that she will not seek re-election next year. Governor Rell, a former lieutenant governor, has been governor since 2004, when Governor John G. Rowland resigned in a corruption scandal. He served 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges. Governor Rell was elected in her own right to a full term four term in 2006.

From the New York Times:

Gov. M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, who rose to the state's highest office five years ago after her predecessor resigned amid a corruption scandal, said on Monday that she would not seek re-election.

In a surprising announcement, Mrs. Rell, 63, did not immediately give a specific reason for her decision, saying only, "At some point, you know inside that it is time to begin a new chapter in life."

Her announcement came during a news conference at which she first thanked people who had helped in a food drive over the weekend.

"Second, I would like to share with you the news that -- after much soul-searching and discussion with my family -- I have decided not to seek re-election next year," Mrs. Rell said. Her family was standing nearby during the announcement, The Hartford Courant reported.

The news left the Republicans without a candidate possessing big statewide name recognition and the Democrats with an opportunity to push for the governorship in 2010.

Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, a Republican, has said that he might run for governor if Mrs. Rell decided not to seek re-election. Other Republicans, including the House minority leader, Lawrence Cafero of Norwalk, and the Senate minority leader, John McKinney of Fairfield, also have expressed interest.

Among the Democrats, Ned Lamont, a businessman who unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate three years ago, has expressed an interest in being governor.

Governor Rell is a Republican. Her approval ratings remain strong, registering at 59 percent in a September Quinnipiac University poll. Governor Rell's ratings, however, have fallen since registering mid-60s approval ratings earlier this year. The high-water mark of her stewardship  was 83 percent approval that she registered in January 2005.

Her departure opens the way for a Democratic gain. There is more on this story including video at the Hartford Courant.

There's more...

CT-Gov: Lamont forms exploratory committee

2006 Senate candidate Ned Lamont announced today that he's filing papers this afternoon for a possible run for governor in 2010. Excerpt from his e-mail blast and website announcement:

Since the 2006 campaign for Senate, I have continued to meet with citizens across our state -- as co-chairman of the Obama campaign in Connecticut, founder of a state policy institute at Central Connecticut State University, and as an oustpoken advocate for health care reform. I have been constantly reminded during these conversations that Connecticut is not living up to its potential and that too many of our families are still being left behind.

Whether it has been health care and the economy, losing jobs, young people leaving the state, or the never-ending budget crisis, we have all seen our state head in the wrong direction.

Simply put, Connecticut's current Chief Executive is not getting the job done.

Governor Jodi Rell's approval rating has come down quite a bit this year, but she's still at 57 percent approve/38 percent disapprove in the Pollster.com average. Then again, Lamont didn't shy away from a longshot campaign in 2006, so he may be ready for another challenge.

I'd like to hear from MyDD readers who are familiar with Connecticut politics. Could Lamont make a race of this? Would he be the strongest potential challenger against Rell? How would having him in the governor's race affect Senator Chris Dodd's re-election campaign?

There's more...

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