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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Voters in Louisiana ousted indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson on Saturday, instead electing a Republican attorney who will be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.
Unofficial results showed Anh “Joseph” Cao denying Jefferson a 10th term. Republicans made an aggressive push to take the seat from the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office.
Cao, 41, won a predominantly black and heavily Democratic district that covers most of New Orleans.
A barrage of election-day automated telephone calls on Cao’s behalf flooded the district, including a pitch from the national Republican Party.
New Orleans voters had long been loyal to Jefferson, re-electing him in 2006 even after news of the bribery scandal broke. Late-night TV comics made him the butt of jokes after federal agents said they found $90,000 in alleged bribe money hidden in his freezer.
“People are innocent until proven guilty,” said Faye Leggins, 54, an educator and Democrat who moved back to the city six months ago and still has fresh memories of Hurricane Katrina. She voted for Jefferson on Saturday. “He has enough seniority, so he can do a lot to redevelop this city.”
But Republicans argued the scandal had cost Jefferson his clout in Congress. Election Day brought excitement to the state’s usually low-key Vietnamese-American community, said David Nguyen, 45, a store manager and Cao supporter.
“The Vietnamese aren’t much into politics,” he said.
Turnout appeared light in the district, where two-thirds of voters are Democrats and 11 percent are Republicans. More than 60 percent are black.
Though he was the underdog, Cao received endorsements from some Democrat and green-conscious groups as well as the area’s Vietnamese-American community. Cao came to the United States as a child after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and went on to earn degrees in philosophy, physics and law.
The election was one of two in Louisiana postponed because of Hurricane Gustav.
In western Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District, Republican physician John Fleming defeated Democratic district attorney Paul Carmouche in a very close race to replace U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, a 10-term Republican who is retiring. Fleming had 48 percent of the vote to Carmouche’s 47 percent. Two minor candidates split the remaining vote.
Both candidates had help from national heavyweights. President-elect Barack Obama recorded a radio ad for Carmouche, while Vice President Dick Cheney helped Fleming with fundraising.
The national GOP also backed Cao, an immigration lawyer, with a barrage of advertising portraying Jefferson as corrupt.
Prosecutors contend Jefferson used his influence as chairman of the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus to broker deals in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and other African nations on behalf of those who bribed him.
The 2007 indictment claims Jefferson received more than $500,000 in bribes and demanded millions more between 2000 and 2005, including the $90,000 found in the freezer of his Washington home.
No trial date has been set for Jefferson, who became Louisiana’s first black congressman since Reconstruction when he took office in 1991.
He also faced the Green Party candidate Malik Rahim and Libertarian Gregory W. Kahn in the race.
Source: Washington Times
(CNN) — Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.
“While he (Obama) thinks she would be a good senator, he wants her in the White House,” one top Obama advisor told CNN Monday.
Over the weekend, Democratic sources had told CNN as well as Chicago television station WLS-TV that Jarrett was Obama’s choice to fill his Senate seat.
Jarrett, a Chicago attorney and one of Obama’s closest advisers, is a leader of the president-elect’s transition team.
Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, praised her as a “valuable ally.”
“People should know that Valerie Jarrett is — and people do know — she is a very dear friend of the president-elect and a valuable ally of his, not only prior to running for president, in his Senate life, and just personally for Michelle and Barack,” Emanuel said on ABC’s This Week.
Valerie Jarrett Obama’s secret campaign weapon:
Several other Illinois Democrats have expressed interest in the seat, including Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich will make the final decision on Obama’s successor.
A few days before the election, a Democratic strategist privately worried that a Vice-President Joe Biden was destined for a White House career of dissatisfaction and idle-hands mischief.
“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”
Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama. But Democratic insiders say the appointment of tough-guy Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff—and the administration’s need to forge a governing coalition that includes some Republicans—has brought Biden’s upcoming role more clearly into focus: He’ll play the good cop.
The Democrats’ apparent failure to win the 60 Senate seats necessary to halt a GOP filibuster has created the need for inter-party ambassadors like Biden who are practiced at the art of aisle crossing. In his 36-year Senate career, Biden was never considered a bomb-throwing ideologue, and he still has plenty of chits to cash in with Republicans on the Hill.
“He’s probably got more friends among Senate Republicans than John McCain does, and that’s a huge plus for Barack Obama, who is committed to breaking the partisan roadblock of recent years,” said Biden spokesman David Wade shortly before Election Day.
And while Emanuel’s bad-cop reputation may be overstated, all those F-bombs and threats to pulverize GOP incumbents during his tenure of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee boss create an opening for Biden, who maxes out on the Mr. Nice Guy scale.
“I really have genuine relationships with Republican leaders in the House and the Senate. I mean, I—I hope this is not self serving, but I’ve gained the respect,” Biden told an Ohio campaign rally in late October. “I’ve been able to literally work with the Republican leaders, of the committees as well as, as well as the Senate,” he added. “And Barack knows that, Barack has served there and sees that… I’m confident that I’ll be spending a fair amount of time [in Congress].”
In an interview with the New Yorker last month, Biden selected a lofty, if somewhat dubious role model: Lyndon Johnson, who plunged into a deep depression when John F. Kennedy assigned him the role as emissary to a Senate he had bullied, cajoled and utterly dominated as majority leader in the 1950s.
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who’s fond of Biden, painted a different picture: “I can see Joe in his room [just off the Senate chamber], smiling, slapping people on the back, making his points, working the members.”
Indeed, Biden told the New Yorker that his style would be more honey than sting: “I have never ever, ever screwed another senator,” he said.
On top of that, Biden could not be more different than the outgoing vice president, who never visited the weekly Democratic caucus lunches in the Senate and had virtually no relationships with the other side of the aisle. It’s unlikely that Biden will ever be caught telling another senator to “Go [expletive] yourself” as Dick Cheney famously said to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy. Unless he’s kidding.
Biden’s best Republican friends in the Senate are centrists, including retiring Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel and the top Republican on the Foreign Relations committee, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, with whom he’s forged a close working partnership.
Biden is equally popular with some GOP staffers, drawing top-level Republican aides into free-ranging discussion on nettlesome policy problems, even setting up secure computer forums where aides can swap ideas without partisan recrimination, according to a person who participated in one of the chat groups.
The veep in waiting is not a favorite with Republicans hard-liners, though, who still hold grudges over his tough questioning of former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The conservative bloc in the Senate remains unified, and could still engineer a filibuster of Obama priorities.
“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”
Biden may find it even tougher with Democratic senators—thrilled to have one of their own in the White House again—who may want to simply bypass the vice president and forge a relationship directly with Obama.
“He will carve out a role for himself, the problem is that he’s going to have a lot of competition—and it’s competition that won’t be willing to step aside for him,” says Jennifer Duffy, who covers the Senate for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.
Obama hasn’t served a full term in the Senate but he’s got plenty of friends in the Democratic caucus: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, up-and-coming Missouri freshman Claire McCaskill and an ailing but still powerful Ted Kennedy. Obama also has a unique relationship with one of the most conservative senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, with whom he shares a passion for government reform.
Then there’s former Majority Leader Tom Daschle—a well-connected kitchen-cabinet Obama adviser who is likely to play some kind of role in the administration.
But Biden’s biggest competition may come from the president-elect himself.
“Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary,” Duffy adds. “He’s his own go-to guy.”
Obama has gone to great lengths to establish personal relationships with legislators, creating direct lines of communication that will be handy even if he runs into problems with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“Barack’s been seriously keeping touch with the [fiscally conservative Democratic] Blue Dogs and all the other foot soldiers—he’s intent on not making the same mistakes we did,” said a former aide to Bill Clinton, who worked his congressional transition team in the early 1990s. “We thought all we had to do was to keep in touch with the leaders and we left the members and committee chairs alone. That was a huge mistake and it killed us on the health care… Barack’s not making that mistake.”
Here’s the full Bachmann interview with Chris Matthews’ Hardball which almost cost Rep. Michele Bachmann her seat. But more frightening than this singular interview ~ was the overall direction that the Republican Party was preparing to take once elected. Dividing the country into pro-American and anti-American areas, its people into God and the Godless and advocating for McCarthy style checking of ‘liberal’ members of Congress for possible pro and anti-American leanings. Where was McCain planning to take the country if he were elected and how was he planning to control these elements of his Party?
Bachmann praises Obama’s win, now
After suggesting that Barack Obama had anti-American views in an exchange three weeks ago with MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told Politico Thursday that she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” She called his victory “a tremendous signal we sent.”
“I have not seen the United States as a racist nation,” said Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in the east-central part of the state. “In my district, I don’t sense racism, and that’s why I’m thankful that hopefully this will send a national signal across our country that America is not a nation made up of racists. … On the same hand, I hope that the national media will not confuse disagreement with Obama’s policy positions with being consumed [by] racism.”
Some analysts had written off the linguistically intemperate Bachmann as a casualty of her calamitous “Hardball” interview, but she graduated to being a sophomore in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election.
In a telephone interview, Bachman said she was gratified that voters in her district didn’t “let the media intervene” in the race, which she ultimately won by three points over Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg. But in surveying the wreckage to her party that the election wrought, Bachmann was quick to acknowledge that, going forward, “clearly the views and opinions of conservatives won’t be prevailing.”
As she looks ahead to her next term in Congress, Bachmann, a former U.S. Treasury attorney who now sits on the Financial Services Committee, said she’s hoping for a spot on the House Ways and Means Committee, the panel charged with writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs. Minnesota Rep. Jim Ramstad, a nine-term Republican who is retiring, is currently the only Minnesotan on that committee.
“My husband and I were Joe the Plumbers,” said Bachmann, referring to the 42-employee Christian therapy business she and her husband started, as well as the ubiquitous plumber from Ohio who was elevated to the status of Everyman during the campaign. “I think my business background and tax background works very well on Ways and Means.”
Bachmann said that she had always expected her race to tighten toward the end, but she seemed willing to accept the connection between her gaffe on “Hardball” and the closeness of her race.
“My opponent did not do a stellar job fundraising,” Bachmann said, noting that it was only after her interview on MSNBC that “there was money coming from [the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and outside money, and that significantly impacted race.” Fundraising records show that her challenger raised more than $1.3 million in a week.
“What that did is, it opened the door for a phenomenal outpouring of negative media coverage. It was the echo chamber of the left media, and it was overwhelming, and that was difficult to overcome that level of vitriol.”
Bachmann said that aggressive Democratic organizing in her district this year, combined with the “great resources they had in trying to defeat me in ’06” made reelection a breakneck climb.
“I had laid a strong foundation,” Bachmann said, explaining how she pulled out the win. “That is something we knew all along. For two years I worked enormously hard in the district.”
“People knew that I am a serious member of Congress, that I take issues seriously, and that I worked extremely hard. … They know I’m not a nuanced politician that waffles and changes my mind with whatever is popular at the moment.”
After raising her national profile in cable news interviews about the presidential race and energy issues, Bachmann said her primary focus going forward will be the concerns of her constituents. She said her party would have to wait to see the specifics of the Democratic agenda, then offer “positive” alternatives.
“It was a decisive win [for Democrats] on every level: presidency, House and Senate,” Bachmann said. “Even in Minnesota, we passed a state sales tax increase. That’s pretty phenomenal when you think about the difficult environment of the economy. The fact we could pass a tax increase and have such a strong Democratic showing … it just shows what an overpowering Democratic year this was, and that’s why I feel very gratified to have survived the storm.”
We can’t afford to slip up in the final days. Volunteer this weekend and into Election Day, November 4th, 2008.
Source: AM 1090