Campaign Confidential

Ugly Franken, Coleman Fight for Minnesota's 'Jewish Seat' Continues

By Brett Lieberman

A week after the polls closed, there’s no end in sight for the election fight between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for Minnesota’s Jewish Senate seat.

As Politico reports, Coleman’s lead now stands at a meager 206 votes out of more than 2.4 million ballots cast. That’s a difference of 41.99 percent of the vote to 41.98, according to the state’s secretary of state

A mandatory recount is required because the margin is less than 0.5 percent.

The post-election fight has been full of charges of ballot box stuffing, votes seemingly discovered in the middle of the night, and in one case noted by Politico, “an election official from solidly Democratic Hennepin County left 32 absentee ballots in his car, netting Franken an additional 11 votes.”


Zimmer Joins GOP Chorus Calling For Ted Stevens Resignation

By Brett Lieberman

The number of fellow Republicans that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens can count on as friends appears to be diminishing.

Former Congressman Dick Zimmer, the GOP nominee challenging Senator Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey, is among the latest calling for Stevens to resign after his conviction on federal corruption charges.

“A culture of corruption has plagued our government for far too long,” Zimmer said in a statement. “Too many people in power have manipulated the political process to criminally enrich themselves.”

“The worst thing that can happen is for honest elected officials to sit idly by and say nothing. Today, I am calling on Senator Stevens to resign, and I ask that Senator Lautenberg join me in this demand. Perhaps Senator Stevens will heed the advice of someone who has served with him so long on the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

Zimmer, who trails in polls, has campaigned on restoring ethical and fiscal integrity to government. The New Jersey Senate election features two Jewish candidates.


Inquirer Endorses Zimmer Over Lautenberg in N.J.

By Brett Lieberman

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has built “a solid reputation delivering federal funds to New Jersey for mass transit, beach replenishment and road projects” over four decades in the Senate, but the Philadelphia Inquirer calls former Congressman Dick Zimmer “a viable alternative.”

The Inky threw its support and endorsement in the New Jersey Senate election behind Zimmer, who the paper notes has a reputation as a fiscal conservative, who bucks his party and would fight earmarks, but also has a reputation being being a moderate.

The most recent polls show Lautenberg with a 13 to 22 point advantage.

The New Jersey race is one of two this year that features two Jewish candidates. The other is the close fight in Minnesota between incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken.


Report: Lieberman Not Welcome to Break Bread With Democrats

By Brett Lieberman

Retribution was swift for U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman after the Connecticut Indepedent/Democrat’s speech supporting John McCain and criticizing Barack Obama at last week’s Republican National Convention.

Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call [Registration required] reports that he’s no longer welcome at the Democrats’ weekly lunches and biweekly lunches of committee chairman.

Speculation remains on what will happen to Lieberman’s chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.

At least for now, Democrats need his vote now to remain in the majority. But with Democrats expected to pick up seats in the November elections that may not be the case for long.

UPDATE: Lieberman tells The Hill: “I think it’s probably wise for me and for my colleagues in the Democratic caucus to dine somewhere else for the next few weeks.”


GOP Convention May Give Coleman a Boost

By Brett Lieberman

Republicans hope that the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul may put the state in play for GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The state is considered a toss-up that leans Democratic. Democrats have won the state the last eight elections, including 1984, when Minnesotans stuck with hometown favorite Walter F. Mondale.

The convention may give a boost to another hometown favorite, Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican seeking a second term who is opposed by comedian Al Franken, a Democrat.

The Senate seat has been held by Jewish lawmakers since 1978.

A recent University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute/Minnesota Public Radio poll shows Franken with a 1 percent advantage.

Coleman, a former St. Paul mayor, certainly found plenty of support and people wanting to shake his hand Sunday night as he walked around a reception for delegates and guests at the Minneapolis Convention Center.



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