Ballot Box

Rep. Etheridge hits 'distortions' and 'dirty politics' in concession

In conceding defeat to Republican Renee Ellmers Friday, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) blamed his loss on a bad environment for Democrats and "dirty politics by Washington D.C. partisan operatives."

After a recount of votes in the state's 2nd congressional district concluded Friday, Etheridge conceded defeat in an afternoon news conference. 

In a statement from his campaign, the seven-term congressman said, "The combination of the national tide that swept the country, massive amounts of secret corporate cash funding a campaign of distortions, and dirty politics by Washington D.C. partisan operatives was just too much to overcome." 

Etheridge's reelection bid first gained national attention after a video of him in a confrontation with two young men hit YouTube earlier this year. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Republican strategists have now admitted they were behind the incident.

During the campaign, the Democrat also bemoaned the outside spending from the conservative group Americans for Job Security, which ran ads hitting Etheridge. 

Etheridge went on to congratulate Ellmers in the statement and tout accomplishments during his time in Congress.

In a statement, Ellmers said she received a "gracious" concession call from Etheridge Friday. 

"This is the way American Democracy works: Through elections," Ellmers said. "That, inevitably, leads to debate and conflict which can be bruising. It is, I can now say from experience, at times a harsh endeavor." 

The win for Ellmers was one of 2010's biggest upsets. It was the first run for public office by the Republican, who won the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and was heavily outspent by Etheridge. She defeated the longtime congressman despite receiving no help from the national Republican Party. 

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Ellmers wins recount; Rep. Etheridge will concede

The 1,500 vote lead of Republican Renee Ellmers held up easily to Rep. Bob Etheridge's (D-N.C.) recount challenge and the Democrat is set to officially concede the race later this afternoon. 

Ellmers was declared the winner on election night and state elections officials have already certified her the victor in the race but state law allowed Etheridge to request the recount given that the margin of victory was less than 1 percent of the vote. 

Ellmers, who spent the week in Washington attending freshman orientation for incoming members, said earlier in the week she was "very confident" that her lead over Etheridge would hold up through the recount process. 

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Haley Barbour advises Michael Bloomberg not to run for president

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) hasn't said if he'll make a 2012 presidential bid but he does have one person he doesn't want to run: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I hope Mayor Bloomberg won't even consider that," Barbour told CNN. "But if there were a strong third-party candidate, there's no question in my mind that candidate would draw votes away from the Republican."

Bloomberg originally ran for NYC mayor as a Republican but changed his voter registration in 2007 and ran for reelection as an independent.

But Bloomberg said Tuesday he doubts an independent candidate could win the White House.

"Party affiliation is so strong that ... you could get every independent vote, (and) it would still not be a majority," he told a group of chief executives and policy-makers in Washington, according to Reuters.

Barbour told CNN a third-party bid by Bloomberg would be "the best thing that can happen to President Obama" because of the GOP votes Bloomberg could win.

Barbour wouldn't talk about any presidential ambitions on his part. He said: "It's not like I've got to decide by Christmas or I've got to decide by Valentines or I've got to decide by any day, but I am going to seriously think about it and come to a decision in the next few weeks or months."

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Linda McMahon doesn't rule out 2012 run against Lieberman

Republican Linda McMahon, who spent some $50 million of her own money in a losing bid for the Senate this fall against state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), is already eyeing 2012. 

During a taping of "Face the State with Dennis House" on Thursday, McMahon wouldn't rule out a run saying, "I'm not taking anything off the table." Her full interview is set to air in Connecticut Sunday. 

McMahon will also be up with a statewide TV spot next week thanking those who supported her in 2010. 

A large part of McMahon's appeal to some GOP insiders in the state in 2010 was her ability to self-fund and it helped her defeat former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) at the state party convention earlier this year. 

But after spending $50 million in a losing effort during an otherwise favorable political environment for Republicans, McMahon would have a lot of convincing to do ahead of 2012 if she decides to make another run. 

As for Lieberman, many on the left are salivating at the chance to take him out in two years with some eyeing Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as a challenger.

Speculation has also swirled around Ted Kennedy Jr., who lives in Branford. Earlier this year Kennedy Jr. demanded that McMahon pull a campaign ad that included a clip of his uncle — President John F. Kennedy — talking about tax cuts. 

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Two Dems cut into GOP leads as six House races remain undecided

Two incumbent Democrats cut into the leads of their Republican challengers Thursday in two of the six Congressional contests where winners have yet to be decided. 

New York Reps. Tim Bishop (D) and Dan Maffei (D) both picked up votes during Thursday's count of ballots in their respective districts, leaving Bishop trailing Republican Randy Altschuler by just 272 votes and Maffei behind Republican Ann Marie Buerkle by just more than 300 votes.  

Maffei gained some 500 votes Thursday thanks to uncounted absentee ballots in just one upstate county. But absentees have yet to be tallied in Wayne County — an area that leans Republican.  

In North Carolina, a recount in the race between Republican Renee Ellmers and Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) is expected to wrap up today. Ellmers began the count with a sizable lead of some 1,500 votes and said earlier this week that she was "very confident" she would still come out on top. 

Other races still outstanding include Rep. Solomon Ortiz's (D-Texas) bid for reelection against Republican Blake Farenthold, who holds a solid lead over Ortiz. The manual recount in that district appears unlikely to change the result. 

And two races are still undecided in California, where incumbent Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney and Jim Costa have solid leads. Neither of their Republican opponents have conceded defeat.  


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Texas Gov. Perry to head Republican Governors Association

Texas Gov. Rick Perry will head the Republican Governors Association, according to reports out of San Diego, where the organization is holding its annual meeting.

Perry's election was expected. He replaces Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Perry's selection also puts Texans in charge of the three Republican campaign committees. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was chosen this week to head a second term at the National Republican Senatorial Campaign committee and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) was picked to lead the National Republican Congressional Campaign committee for a second cycle.

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was elected vice chairman of the RGA.

Other positions are:

Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.) will be gala chairman.
Gov. Nikki Haley (S.C.) will be recruitment chairwoman.

Govs. Susana Martinez (N.M.) and Chris Christie (N.J.) will also sit on the organization's executive committee as at-large members.

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Virginia Republicans want George Allen for their Senate nominee

Former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is favored by Republicans in his state as their 2012 Senate nominee.

A Public Policy poll released Thursday shows Allen leading among Republican primary voters with 46 percent of support. Republicans next choice for their nominee was incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who captured 18 percent. And 16 percent was taken by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Among conservatives, Allen leads Cantor by a 47 percent to 18 percent margin.  He leads Cantor by 23 points among moderates, 43 percent to 20 percent.

If he runs and wins, Allen would be retaking the seat he lost to Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in 2006. Webb won with 53.5 percent of the vote to Miller's 46.5 percent.

There has been speculation Webb may not run for reelection. The state has trended red, despite President Obama carrying it in 2008. And three House Democrats lost their seats this year. Democrats also lost the gubernatorial mansion in 2009.

The senator hasn't made an announcement about his 2012 plans.  He told Real Clear Politics earlier this month: "Still sorting that out. I'm not saying I'm not."

A Wednesday poll from PPP showed Webb leading Allen 49-45 in a hypothetical matchup. The poll also found that Tim Kaine, the former governor who now heads the Democratic National Committee, did better in a head-to-head matchup with Allen: leading Allen 50-44.

Many remember Allen for the “macaca moment,” in which he used what is considered to be a racial slur against a volunteer of Webb’s campaign. Allen was criticized by many for his poor judgment and later apologized. He claimed he did not know the true meaning of the word and did not intend to offend anyone.

Allen has been making the GOP rounds in Virginia, fueling speculation he'll run again, but he has not made a formal announcement.

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