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Hastings Won't Chair House Intelligence Committee

It's official. Alcee Hastings is out of the running for Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Nancy Pelosi doesn't want him.

Reportedly, despite the support of the "Blue Dog Democrats," Jane Harman is out as well.

That leaves, according to McClatchy news reporters:

Reps. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, Sanford Bishop Jr. of Georgia and Norm Dicks of Washington state. Reyes has the edge, Pelosi allies indicated. He was a 26-year agent and supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol before his 1996 election to Congress, and currently is a senior member of the Intelligence panel.

Who are the "Blue Dog Democrats?" A group of 44 centrist Democrats in the House.

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Pelosi May Bypass Both Harman and Hastings

Nancy Pelosi's pick for House Intelligence Chair has generated a lot of discussion. The two front-runners were Jane Harman and Alcee Hastings (discussed here.)

Michael Isikoff of Newsweek reports today that Pelosi is now considering two others for the position:

One is Rep. Norm Dicks, a onetime strong Iraq-war backer who has since joined ranks with Murtha and now wants a phased troop withdrawal. The other is Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a quiet Texas lawmaker and former Border Patrol official who opposed the Iraq war from the outset. The aforementioned leadership aide notes that Reyes may now have the upper hand for "political" reasons: the Hispanic Caucus is angry because it has no members in the new House leadership or chairing major committees. Pelosi appears to be "leaning toward" Reyes, the aide says, but "the truth is, nobody knows what she is going to do."

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Pelosi Right To Take Time

Matt Stoller and I are really seeing eye to eye today:

I'm getting quite irritated at the immediate reaction among white male liberal DC kewl kidz (and Maureen Dowd) to discern catty motives on the part of Nancy Pelosi. Digby's noted it before, but it's not stopping. Look at the first two paragraphs in an email that Josh Marshall reprints on Pelosi and the Intelligence Committee from a reader called 'RY'. . . . Left out of the whole nasty and myopic rant is any possibility that Nancy Pelosi might want someone who can chair the Intelligence Committee who can do a good job running the Intelligence Committee. . . . Nonsense aside, the single most important thing Pelosi can do is find a a good Intelligence Chair and make sure he or she has the political capital to fix the mess this country is in. Doing so could require time to find a compromise candidate, or to work with the CBC or Blue Dogs to assuage egos or horse-trade other committee assignments. That's what leaders do. It doesn't always happen fast . . .

And I SUPPORT Harman for Intel Chair. This handwringing from DC Gasbag types is simply idiotic. The Pelosi record will be established by the next two years, not the next two days or the next two weeks. The idiocy is at high levels from the Pundits these days.

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FL-13: More Evidence of Ballot Design Issues

From the Miami Herald:

The same electronic ballot design flaw implicated in more than 18,300 Sarasota nonvotes might have caused problems for South Florida voters in two well-publicized Cabinet races. Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties recorded more than 34,000 nonvotes in their elections for attorney general and chief financial officer, according to election results from each county's Supervisor of Elections office. The problem was worse in precincts with many older voters. In both counties, the two Cabinet races appeared at the bottom of a voting screen with the higher-profile race for governor and lieutenant governor -- a contest in which seven sets of candidates nearly filled the screen. All races on the page were listed under a general heading.

QED in my estimation. Not software issues is Sarasota - ballot design issues.

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FL-13: Who Is To Blame?

This will be an unpopular post with my Democratic brethren. It is about who is to blame for frustrating the voters' intent in the House race in Florida's 13th Congressional district (Katherine Harris's old seat). While it seems absolutely clear most voters wanted the Democrat Jennings, that votes did not register for her is mostly the fault of Democratic Party officials and the Jennings campaign imo. Today Paul Krugman writes:

Reporting by The Herald-Tribune of Sarasota, which interviewed hundreds of voters who called the paper to report problems at the polls, strongly suggests that the huge apparent undervote was caused by bugs in the ES&S software. About a third of those interviewed by the paper reported that they couldn’t even find the Congressional race on the screen. This could conceivably have been the result of bad ballot design, but many of them insisted that they looked hard for the race. Moreover, more than 60 percent of those interviewed by The Herald-Tribune reported that they did cast a vote in the Congressional race — but that this vote didn’t show up on the ballot summary page they were shown at the end of the voting process.

I must say, as a fan of Paul Krugman, I find this passage to be incredibly well - NOT good. Fully a third interviewed said they could not find the race on the screen. not surprising when one considers the ballot design in the FL-13 race on the ESS machines. The Fl-13 race ballot is clearly flawed in design. The Sentinel reporting shows a third of those reporting problems as having not seen the race. This is not strong thinking by Paul Krugman. More.

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Hoyer Beats Murtha for House Majority Leader

It's over. Steny Hoyer will be the House Majority leader.

Hoyer was elected on a vote of 149-86.

The AP is reporting it as a snub to Nancy Pelosi.

Update: Arianna weighs in.

don't shed any tears for Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. Even though her guy lost, this was still a big win for her. A victory for taking a stand -- and for her leadership. Because that's what real leaders do, they take stands. They listen to their hearts and follow their gut. If you only jump into the fights you're sure you can win -- notches in the W column that will look good on your political resume -- you're a hack, not someone who can move the party and the country forward. It's not about trying to have a spotless record; it's about knowing which battles are worth fighting, whatever the outcome.

It bodes well for Pelosi that was willing to spend her political capital right off the bat -- especially on the issue that will define her time at the helm. Far too many modern politicians save their political capital until it's lost all its value.


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Republicans Choose Senate Leaders: Lott's In

Senate Republicans have chosen their leaders. The top gun will be Mitch McConnell, followed by Trent Lott.

Democrat Harry Reid was chosen by Dems yesterday to be Senate Majority Leader.

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The New Senate Judiciary Committee Lineup

From Sen. Harry Reid's office, here is the 2007 lineup of Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee members:

CHAIR: Leahy Kennedy

The new members are Ben Cardin of Maryland and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

I can't say I'm thrilled about Whitehouse. He's a former U.S. Attorney (appointed by Clinton) and state Attorney General, in other words, a law and order guy. He's strong on gun control and prosecuting gang members.

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Murtha For Majority Leader

I was not that engaged with the House Majority Leader battle. Don't get me wrong, I preferred Murtha, both for the unity he has with Speaker-to-be Pelosi but also for his brave stance on Iraq. But if Hoyer was returned to the position, I would not have cried about it. Hoyer has his problems, but we're a Big Tent party.

But this from Fred Hiatt and the WaPo Editorial Board bothered me immensely:

On the merits, Mr. Hoyer is by far the better choice for the job. He is a moderate and highly capable legislator whose selection would reinforce Ms. Pelosi's announced commitment to govern from the center. Mr. Murtha's candidacy is troubling for several reasons, beginning with his position on the war in Iraq. A former Marine, Mr. Murtha deserves credit for sounding an alarm about the deteriorating situation a year ago. But his descriptions of the stakes there have been consistently unrealistic, and his solutions irresponsible.

If this election is going to be about Iraq and WaPo's idea of centrism, then Murtha MUST win. WaPo has been wrong wrong wrong every step of the way on everything. BTW, when has WaPo ever issued endorsements in House leadership races? Never, that's when. Incredibly poor decision by WaPo.

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Obama Hits a Rough Spot

Media darling Sen. Barak Obama, who says he might consider a 2008 presidential run, has hit a rough spot on personal ethics.

Jane at Firedoglake has some thoughts on this, and says "the bloom is off the rose."

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The Original Fighting Dem: Howard Dean

Finally, someone makes some sense on Howard Dean. The Hotline's Marc Ambinder:

Three years ago, Howard Dean-style politics was too outré for the Democratic Party to bear. Today, arguably, Dean Politics is Democratic politics. Embedded within Dean's campaign theme was a broad critique of the Republican approach to power. Iraq was simply its worst manifestation. But Dean also evinced his distaste with Republican "corruption." He talked about how Democrats - and independents and even Republicans -- were interested in results, not ideology. In his eyes, Americans wanted a fresh approach. He urged, first Democrats, then Americans, to take their country back. . . .

Leave the Internet aside: the architecture of Dean Politics has become the de mode style for the entire party. Dean promoted a vocal, confrontational style of campaigning, one that did not cede an inch to Republicans. His primary campaign was predicated on a 50 state strategy. He urged Democrats to adopt issues that would drive wedges between the Republican base and the party’s weaker adherents (mostly in the suburbs). He rejected the politics of inoculation, pronouncing himself proud to be the talisman of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. He intuited that the party (and voters) wanted the Democrats to be the opposition party.

. . . [G]ive Dean credit for setting the tone and style of Democratic politics. Successful, Democratic politics, that is, in an environment that Dean first detected three years ago.

This is what we were talking about. (I was not a Dean supporter for President, but for DNC Chair.) Opposing. Fighting. Standing up. This is what Dean embodied and what the Netroots urged. Good for Ambinder. H/T atrios.

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Trent Lott to Run for Minority Whip

If you thought you've seen the end of Senator Trent Lott, think again.

In 2002, Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was forced to step down as Senate Majority Leader after he made racist comments implying he was in favor of segregation at a birthday party for former Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), who once ran for President on a segregationist platform.

Monday night, Lott announced his plan to run for Minority Whip, which would place him in the number two position among Senate Republicans. Although Lott has remained quiet about his intention to seek a leadership position, The Hill newspaper noted, "Few on Capitol Hill would second-guess Lott's prowess at backroom maneuvering."

The Hill has the story.

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Can the Dems Deliver? Why Did Feingold Bow Out of 2008?

On Sunday, Contessa of MSNBC and I discussed whether the Dems can deliver on their promises in Congress and on Russ Feingold's statement he won't run for President in 2008.

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Will Dems Remember Their Progressive Base?

The LA Times has an interesting article about the expectations of progressive groups, members of which worked hard for the Dems in the election and are expecting action, not compromise, on their issues. Among them: the repeal of the worst provisions of the Patriot Act.

Turning off those new voters could undermine Democrats' hopes of solidifying their new majorities and taking the White House in 2008. But to the leaders of interest groups who are core supporters of the Democratic Party, and who had been barred under Republican rule from the inner sanctums of power, the new Congress means a time for action, not compromise.

"We are not going to let them off the hook," said Caroline Fredrickson, the ACLU's legislative director, of the newly empowered Democratic leaders in Congress. "We will hold their feet to the fire and use all the tools we can to mobilize our members."

Other issues and groups with high expectations:

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The New Breed: Tester Creates A New Dem Narrative

In some ways, it is unfortunate that the Media is waking up to the silliness of their "Conservative" Dems meme. But they are. And Jon Tester is leading the way:

For all the talk about the new Democrats swept into office on Tuesday, the senator-elect from Montana truly is your grandfather's Democrat -- a pro-gun, anti-big-business prairie pragmatist whose life is defined by the treeless patch of hard Montana dirt that has been in the family since 1916.

It is a place with 105-degree summer days and winter chills of 30 below zero, where his grandparents are buried, where his two children learned to grow crops in a dry land entirely dependent on rainfall, and where, he says, he earned barely $20,000 a year farming over the last decade.

. . . "You think of the Senate as a millionaire's club -- well, Jon is going to be the blue-collar guy who brings an old-fashioned, Jeffersonian ideal about being tied to the land," said Steve Doherty, a friend of Mr. Tester's for 20 years. "He's a small farmer from the homestead. That's absolutely who he is. That place defines him."

Paul Krugman also understands. More on the flip.

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