TheDC’s Political Roundup

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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In this edition of The Daily Caller’s Political Roundup, we take a look at intra-party strife in Maine, attack-by-campaign-sign in Montana, an unfortunate endorsement in a New York House race, an unwanted candidate in Tennessee, the impending Republican Senate primary in Utah and a Republican debate in Texas’ never-ending Senate race.

1) Maine Senate race

In the Maine Senate race, both major parties have managed to field candidates seriously at odds with important members of their base, making it even more likely that independent Angus King — the wildly popular former governor who has been the front-runner since the beginning — will pull off the race.

As The Daily Caller reported Thursday, State Sen. Cynthia Dill is on the attack against her own party, going after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) in a fundraising email sent Thursday.

“Don’t let the DSCC and other beltway insiders decide who Maine’s next United States Senator will be,” she wrote. “We know these groups don’t share our ideals and will not fight for working families, small businesses and Maine values.”

The DSCC has not indicated any plans to get involved in the race on Dill’s behalf. In fact, King is seen as Democrats’ best hope to control the seat, as he is widely expected to caucus with Democrats if elected. King, who supported President George W. Bush in 2000, Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and President Barack Obama in 2008, has refused to say who he would caucus with, and said he would not say so before being elected.

On the Republican side, a rift between the nominee, Secretary of State Charlie Summers, and Sen. Olympia Snowe has finally been publicly reported, though insiders have long been aware of the feud.

The Portland Press Herald reported on the feud last week.

Summers is a former Snowe staffer, but last year he opted “not to endorse Snowe in her race against tea party-backed Scott D’Amboise.”

“Snowe had been targeted by the tea party, and as she ramped up her campaign against D’Amboise she approached Republican leaders in Maine for endorsements that could blunt a tea party surge against her,” the Portland Press Herald reported.

John Richter, Sen. Snowe’s chief of staff, confirmed the story, but told the paper that Snowe would back Summers as “the duly chosen Republican nominee.” However, he indicated that Snowe might not back Summers financially, as has been her habit with Maine Republican candidates.

2) Montana Senate race

In Montana, things turned violent after a debate when a Democratic activist started hitting Republican candidate Denny Rehberg’s wife with a rolled up sign. Rehberg is running for Senate against Democratic incumbent John Tester.

TheDC’s Caroline May reported that the woman was in her late thirties, and that, “After exchanging words with Jan Rehberg, she began hitting the candidate’s wife with a rolled up Tester sign.”

The owner of the venue ultimately threw the woman, along with two companions, out of the event.

3) An unwanted endorsement in New York

In what TheDC’s Neil Munro described as “an awkward problem,” a Democratic candidate for New York’s 10th Congressional District has earned the not-at-all-coveted endorsement of David Duke, a former Louisiana state representative and former grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Duke endorsed Democrat Charles Barron in the Democratic primary on Thursday. Barron is black, which makes the whole thing even more confusing, but Duke said he felt an affinity with the city councilman because of their shared distaste for Jews.

“The possible election of a dedicated anti-Zionist has thrown the Zionist-influenced media and the Zio-political establishment in a tizzy,” Duke said in a video posted to his website.

He goes on to say that he will support Barron over his opponent in the primary, State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries is also black.

“In an election of limited choices, I think Charles Barron is the better choice [because] there is no greater danger facing the United States of America — and facing the world — than the unbridled power of zionist globalism,” Duke declared in a June 21 video.

Duke, by the way, now says he supports “diversity,” but advocates the separation of whites and blacks.

4) Tennessee

Speaking of unwanted attention for Democrats, the Tennessee Democratic Party is seeking “legal remedy” to get Senate candidate Thomas K. Owens’ name off the Democratic primary ballot after it came to light that he was charged with solicitation of a minor last year.

Owens is vying to obtain the nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

According to The Tennessean, “Authorities say a 7-year-old girl riding her bike” by Owens’ apartment “was invited inside. According to authorities, the 36-year-old then allegedly hugged the girl, unzipped his pants and asked her to perform a sex act. The girl ran home and told her mother, who notified police, authorities added.”

A mental evaluation by Lakeshore Mental Health Institute determined that though he was mentally competent to stand trial, he had suffering from a “severe mental disease” during the time of his alleged crimes.

When asked to The Tennessean, Owens’ only comment on the matter was, “I have a problem with that.”

Brandon Puttbrese, a spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party, said they are looking for a way to legally take Owens off the primary ballot.

“There’s no place for a candidate like that on the Democratic ticket in Tennessee,” he told The Tennessean.

5) Utah Republican Senate primary

Tuesday’s Republican primary in Utah pits Sen. Orrin Hatch against State Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who is hoping to take down the longtime incumbent despite being dwarfed in terms of fundraising.

That is unlikely to happen, according to Utah politicos. Even FreedomWorks, which is in large part responsible for drafting Liljenquist into the race and has spent just under $1 million attacking Hatch, is downplaying expectations.

“Hatch wins by 20+,” one Utah political consultant predicted.

“FreedomWorks will try to explain this as a moral victory, but they got their hat handed to them,” the consultant added. “They always took too much credit for Bennett defeat in 2010 and all they did was waste a million bucks that could have been used to defend Heller or pick up Colorado or Montana.”

Utah political consultant Doug Foxley also predicted that “Hatch wins going away.”

FreedomWorks campaign manager Russ Walker said he was “hopeful” for Tuesday, but sounded skeptical that Liljenquist could pull it off.

“It’s a tough campaign … I think momentum is shifting our direction,” Walker said. “I just don’t know if it’s enough to win the campaign on election day.”

“It’s very difficult to beat someone, especially in Utah, who has the full support of the fair-haired child of Utah — and that’s Mitt Romney — in a year when he’s running for president,” Walker added. “And that’s always kind of been an x-factor in this race, but you know, Sen. Hatch has tied himself to Mitt Romney’s coattails and he’s ridden them pretty hard.”

Liljenquist recently earned the endorsement of Romney’s primary opponent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Even if they didn’t win, Walker said, challenging Hatch had forced him farther to the right in his votes over the past two years, though it remained to be seen if he would stick to that level of conservatism after the election.

Nonetheless, Liljenquist himself expressed confidence.

“We feel very good,” Liljenquist told TheDC in a phone interview.

“This is a grassroots campaign and we’re working it to the end, and we’re confident we can win,” he said.

Hatch, though likely to win, sounded beaten down earlier this week, telling the Salt Lake Tribune: “This race has not been fun. The attacks on me have been tough.”

6) Texas Senate primary

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz will face off in their first televised debate on Friday.

“I think one thing you’ll see is that David Dewhurst will present a clear contrast in the race, which is between a Texas conservative businessman and a lawyer funded by Washington special interests,” said Dewhurst campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch.

Hirsch said Dewhurst would talk about his record as lieutenant governor, and specifically about the policy plan he released Thursday, which Hirsch described as “his agenda to go to Washington and change business as usual.”

Among other things, the plan calls for term limits, decreasing congressional salaries, banning earmarks and reforming the lobbying rules to keep members of Congress from becoming lobbyists for four years after they leave Congress.

The Cruz campaign knocked Dewhurst for refusing to debate Cruz more.

“Since this race began, Ted has campaigned vigorously across the state, meeting with grassroots conservatives all over Texas, while David Dewhurst has skipped 36 debates and acted as if he were entitled to a U.S. Senate seat,” James Bernsen wrote in an email to TheDC. “This rare Dewhurst debate appearance is an opportunity for Texas voters to hear why he supported a ‘wage tax’ that The Wall Street Journal called a ‘fancy disguise for an income tax,’ and why state spending grew by $72 billion during his tenure.”

“This race presents a clear choice between a go-along-to-get-along career politician in David Dewhurst and a conservative fighter who will stand up to the Obama administration, end the Obama war on jobs, stop out-of-control spending and rein in the growth of government power,” Bernsen added. “More and more Texans every day are embracing Ted’s campaign because they recognize that he is that kind of fighter they’re looking for.”

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