I am leaving soon for my holiday vacation, but first wanted to give you some updates on several stories I've been blogging about lately.
- Washington gubernatorial race: After King County certified its vote count, which gave Gregoire the victory even without the extra ballots the state Supreme Court allowed in, the Rossi camp have not stopped their fight. Problem is, Republicans who actually work for a living -- the Secretary of State and officials from the counties across the state who have already certitified their counts -- see this as a hopeless exercise and would prefer the matter dropped. Why can't they stay on message! Now Rossi is calling on Gregoire to join him in asking for a statewide revote, the Seattle Times reports. This at a cost of $4 million and more weeks of uncertainty, and from someone who repeatedly said Washingtonians want to put the race behind them. Won't happen, and the sensible Republicans are starting to worry that the nutty ones running the show for Rossi will hurt the whole party.
- GOP campaign message: Over the last several weeks ago I have written (here and here) about the sophisticated use of demographic and political data by Republicans which gave them an advantage not just in mobilizing their base, including infrequent voters, but also making inroads with Democrats as well. Today's Washington Post has a very good story on the subject, with two clear conclusions standing out which I discussed before. First, though the two parties spent approximately the same amount of money, the Republicans got more bang for their buck by targeting more precisely their message to their propsective voters. Second, and related, the greater reliance on 527s by Dems coupled with a ban on coordinating with the candidates meant that Dem spending tended to work at cross purposes, did not respond as quickly, and duplicated effort in other cases.
- Ethics for Dummies: Apparently it's not enough that Hastert may replace an independent and honorable ethics committee chair with a friend of unindicted co-conspirator Tom DeLay, as I wrote yesterday. Now House Republicans want to rewrite the rules again in order to make it harder to bring ethics charges at all. Under the rules, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is the only explicitly bipartisan panel, with three Democrats and three Republicans. Under the current rules, in order to issue a report -- say, to reprimand a legislator for unethical behavior -- it took a majority (i.e., bipartisan) vote, but to have the case investigated at all took only three votes. Makes sense, right? See if something's there, and if there is then have both parties agree to it. Except that's not good enough for the Republican leadership who are concerned that even with Lamar Smith as chair the ethics committee will dig into more of their dirty little secrets. The New York Times reports that they want to rewrite the rules to say that in the event of a tie vote the complaint will be dismissed without inquiry. This would make it easier for the GOP to flick charges away as partisan bellyaching since without an investigation by the committee at all there would be no formal of presentation of evidence for or against. Oh, and they also want to legalize corporate campaign contributions, which have been illegal for eight decades (though only enforced over the last three decades). The Washington Post editorializes on the subject here.