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March 31, 2009

Steele, Van Hollen bracing for New York verdict

In normal circumstances, the outcome of a special House election would have no bearing at all on the status of a national party chairman. But these aren't normal times for Michael Steele.

The Republican national chairman has attracted outsized attention over the past few months, often as a result of his own missteps. Now, he's likely to feel the fallout from today's election in New York's 20th congressional district, pro or con.

Republicans have a significant registration advantage over Democrats in the upstate district, which takes in rural and suburban areas near Albany, the state capital. Steele has campaigned there and directed hundreds of thousands of national party bucks on behalf of the Republican candidate, Jim Tedisco, a veteran state lawmaker.

Republicans continue to suffer nationally in the eyes of most voters, and Tedisco will be fighting that trend in a district that Barack Obama carried last fall and that went for a Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, in the last two House elections.

Stu Rothenberg, an independent election analyst, recently commented that "it's hard to see how" Steele deserves "any blame" if his candidate loses. But, added Rothenberg, "I'm sure someone will fault" him.

We'll be keeping a close eye out for the blame-throwers, if the Republican falls short, and let you know who they are.

Meantime, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who heads his party's congressional campaign committee, also has a dog in this fight. Scott Murphy, a political neophyte with roots in the business world, has pulled even in the most recent polling.

A Sienna College survey, released late last week, gave the Democrat a four-point lead, within the survey's margin of error. Polls close at 9 p.m.

Posted by Paul West at 10:13 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Michael Steele


Anyone spot a busload of homeless people headed to NY from Philadelphia? Were they carring sample ballots showing Tedisco as a Democrat?

I confess I sifted through Tedisco's and several Republican committees' disclosures for payments to Allied Berton.

For this district the busses would have been filled with casual-neat clad 40-somethings sporting Obama caps, a few wheeling strollers. The fake endorsements would have been from Senators Schumer and Dodd.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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