Topics below: Rasmussen poll, Saxby Chambliss, Pledge to America, Michael Thurmond, Ralph Reed, Phil Gingrey, Democratic Governors Association.
Rasmussen Reports is out this morning with the first (automated) poll that measures the full impact of reports on the financial problems of Republican nominee Nathan Deal:
Despite a swirl of questions about his past financial dealings, former Republican Congressman Nathan Deal remains slightly ahead of Democrat Roy Barnes in the race to be the next governor of Georgia.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Georgia Voters finds Deal with 45% support, while Barnes earns 39% of the vote when leaners are included. Libertarian candidate John Monds trails with five percent (5%). Six percent (6%) prefer another candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
This marks a fallback for Deal whose support has been steadily rising from 43% in March to 51% last month. But Barnes is also at the low end of his support, having earned 39% to 43% of the vote in those same surveys back to March. This is the first survey to include Monds.
One interesting tidbit:
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Georgia voters say they are following news reports about Deal’s financial problems at least somewhat closely. Sixty-two percent say those problems are at least somewhat important to how they will vote, with 31% who say they are Very Important.
But more important may be the fact that two of Georgia’s three candidates for governor generate a large dose of hostility:
Forty-nine percent (49%) of Georgia voters have a favorable opinion of Deal, with 13% who view him Very Favorably. He is viewed unfavorably by 40%, including 20% with a Very Unfavorable view.
For Barnes, favorables are 44% and unfavorables 50%, including 17% Very Favorable and 29% Very Unfavorable.
The bottom line here: Barnes has consistently drawn high negatives, regardless of the pollster. Rasmussen, with a reputation for a slight GOP lean, puts the unfavorables of a Republican candidate for governor at 40 percent.
Last night’s admission from U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss that his office was the source of a gay slur posted on a blog caused an immediate stir on cable TV, including MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann:”
Much of today’s news cycle will be devoted to the GOP’s new Pledge to America. Eric Erickson of Redstate.com is unimpressed. He notes that while Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America limited itself to a few hundred words, the new Republican blueprint runs to 29 pages.
The U.S. Constitution, he argues, says more with less.
Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com and the New York Times discouts Republican chances of taking over the U.S. Senate, but puts the chances of a victory by Michael Thurmond, the Democratic candidate in Georgia, at 1 percent. Ouch.
Ralph Reed, the founder of the new Faith and Freedom Coalition, has been on a book tour this month, plugging his new political thriller, “The Confirmition.”
Discussions have been rather tame, but this week – in a radio interview with former Sean Hannity partner Alan Colmes – Reed allowed himself a rare ride in the Way Back Machine.
The following was noted by People for the American Way:
Colmes: Do you have some accounting to do to the public so they understand your relationship with Jack Abramoff, for example? For which you have been raked over the coals and accused of playing both ends of the game, and going to Indian tribes and threatening them, so he can then go in and represent them, and taking money from Indian tribes – but not wanting to know the money was going to you from them.
Reed: You know, maybe. I certainly —
Colmes: (Laughs.) The answer to that long question is maybe. Okay.
Reed: I certainly spoke to it at the time. And without regurgitating the whole thing, the deal was that I had a grassroots public affairs firm, which still own, called Century Strategies. Jack, who was a dear friend of 20 years – or close to it – then worked at one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, Preston Gates. And he came to me and said, “We’d like to retain your firm to help oppose the expansion of casino gambling in Alabama. This is March of 1999.
And I said, “Well, you’ve got to know. There’s one rule.” Because, by the way, Alan, that’s not the first time I got that kind of call. Okay? I had turned down plenty of business – by one casino to stop another casino. Millions of dollars in business. Because I had one policy. I would not be paid with any revenues that derived from gambling.
Colmes: You spoke out against gambling over the years, certainly —
Reed: Absolutely. And I still do. And I’m proud of it. And I’ll tell you this now – I know it’s not popular, or politically correct, ‘cause we’ve now largely lost the battle and casino gambling has now proliferated all over the country. And the reality is, we know – it is a social, scientific fact – that it increases family break-up, it increases chemical dependency, it increases bankruptcies. People put their families in serious financial jeopardy. So that’s always been my public policy rationale.
When I got that call from Preston Gates, I said, “I’ve got one rule. I will not be paid with any gambling revenues.” Jack said, “Our clients have a lot of other business interests. They do a lot of other things. We can probably arrange for you to be paid with revenues that are not gambling related.” We now know, or at least my accountants – going back and doing this sort of forensic accounting, that at first I was not.
But the bottom line is, it’s a piece of business I should have turned down.
Colmes: But you were helping Jack Abramoff. …You were helping him out.
Reed: And my policy then was, I will work to stop the expansion of gambling as long as the funds that are paying my firm are not derived from gambling. I now have a new policy: I don’t work on gambling, period.
The congressman from Marietta was front-and-center in the Republican effort to blunt the Democratic talking points on health care on Wednesday. From Politico:
House Republicans slammed Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius Wednesday for “threatening” health care insurance companies who say they have to raise premiums because of the new health care law.
“The Secretary of Health and Human Services is putting out information and threatening these companies, suggesting that they do not know what their bottom line is,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) told reporters.
Sebelius wrote a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans last week saying there will be “zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases” after some companies sent letters to their customers saying they are raising rates because of the health care law.
Gingrey went after Sebelius for saying “to these companies that your board of directors, your trustees know nothing about marketing your product and pricing your product so that you can make a fair profit.” He also criticized her for not having the appropriate background to tell companies what to do.
Nationalization of the Georgia race for governor has, heretofore, been a tactic of the Republican Governors Association, with its TV spots attempting to link Democratic nominee Roy Barnes with President Barack Obama.
But the Democratics are now developing their own version. From Politico:
The Democratic Governors Association is dubbing seven GOP gubernatorial nominees “Christine O’Donnell Republicans” in an attempt to portray them as outside the mainstream and unelectable.
In a conference call Wednesday, DGA Executive Director Nathan Daschle tagged Dan Maes in Colorado, Tom Emmer in Minnesota, Bill Brady in Illinois, Carl Paladino in New York, Nathan Deal in Georgia, Rick Scott in Florida and Paul LePage in Maine as the most extreme candidates gracing the top of ballots this fall….
The DGA director compared Deal’s financial problems to O’Donnell’s, suggesting that the former congressman could become “the first governor in Georgia history to face personal bankruptcy within one month of taking office.”