Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election preditions, Massachusetts and national

Time to predict

by Kevin Sowyrda

Wilkerson vs. Chang-Diaz

Who ever thought State Senator Diane Wilkerson and U.S. Senator Ted Stevens would have so much in common. Then again, maybe they don't. I mean, Stevens was found guilty in Washington this week after a highly publicized trial, but at least he's still walking. But the Feds have so much less courtesy for mere state senators. They cuffed Wilkerson early Tuesday morning, without even the courtesy of a by your leave, and practically ransacked her Beacon Hill office while distributing a photo of the senator allegedly taking one of eight bribes from an undercover agent - and making the deposit in a sort of Victoria's Secret place.

Think about it this way. You're one week away from a Don Quixote sticker campaign and what's your schedule? Doing the perp walk on the six o'clock news. Hardly a photo finish for election day.

Wilkerson was already going down in flames in what the Boston Globe on Monday called her "sore loser" sticker campaign. But this is the proverbial nail in the coffin and no one should be so naive as to feign shock or even surprise. There was nothing remaining for Wilkerson but this humiliating culmination of events. Everything was always climaxing to this precise and tragic moment in time. One Boston city councilor said that after reading the indictment he thought it "read like an episode of the Sopranos."

The FBI sting operation only changes one thing. The job Mayor Menino likely had waiting for Wilkerson is now on very permanent hold. But this is not to say His Honor has entirely given up hope. Late Tuesday morning a mayoral aide, who asked not to be named, told me the mayor's position in the race remains unchanged. "He's not formally endorsed either candidate."

I'm frightened to imagine what it would take for the Mayor to finally break with Wilkerson. Or for that matter, Boston's morning talk gabber and former Speaker of the House Tom Finneran, who spent his Wednesday morning shamelessly ignoring the biggest news story in town in favor of an enthralling discussion on dog racing. Loyalty to old friends is one thing, but whatever happened to loyalty to the voters who've been so beguiled by a very cunning political insider?

And then there's this. Make no mistake that you're reading about the beginning of Boston's Watergate. There are more Subpoenas flying around Bean Town than pigeons, and if Senator Wilkerson starts to sing like a bird the criminal defense counsel business will be the new growth industry in the Hub. When you read the Wilkerson indictment carefully there's one sentence that indicates the state capital could be on the verge of the most far reaching political scandal since the Ward Commission ferreted out the bad apples in the 1980's. An unidentified Wilkerson assistant allegedly tells agents in the sting operation that other Boston officials needed money, and would accept it under the right circumstances. The following quote is what has people "sweating bullets" as a city hall staffer told me yesterday - "Ninety-nine percent of the times, these people would accept or receive these things from a source that they are comfortable with..."

Pam Wilmot of Common Cause summed up this brewing scandal most poignantly when she told me, "This isn't just any kind of politician, this is a person who was very talented; who advocated for justice and lots of great things. She was affective and could have done so many good things, but for her life to fall into the trash and for her public trust to be sold is such a tragedy."

Democrats get a super majority in the senate.

When a completely lovable lunatic like Al Franken is poised to beat incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman in Minnesota, you know the GOP has become the political version of Wachovia bank and is on the verge of political insolvency, which means holding less than 41 seats in the United States Senate. The most recent poll has Franken, the former SNL comedian, sprinting to the finish line. Add to that the following dreary news for beleaguered Republicans - Jeff Merkley leads Republican Gordon Smith in Oregon, Kay Hagan is croaking Republican Libby Dole in North Carolina (Dole deserves to lose considering she never deigns to steps foot in the state), Jim Martin is right on Republican Saxby Shambliss’ tail in Georgia and Ronnie Musgrove is pretty much dead even with Republican Roger Wicker in Mississippi; that’s if you can even conceive a Democrat winning in Ole Miss. The only good news for the G.O.P. is that Mitch McConnell seams to be holding a slight lead against Democrat Bruce Lunsford in Kentucky.

But Senator Ted Stevens' conviction this week on corruption charges could push the Democrats to the magic number 60 in the senate, something the G.O.P. can’t afford.

Before the verdict, Democrat Mark Begich was already even with the incumbent. The verdict makes Stevens reelection even more uphill thus helping the Democrats to sixty seats bragging rights next year. Historically, both parties have yearned to hold atleast a sixty seat majority as it prevents filibusters and other parliamentary maneuvers by the minority.

But the senate might also get another surprise, she being Sarah Palin. Consider the less than far fetched scenario. Stevens pulls off a miracle next week. Could happen. Then the senate ethics committee would have to rule on whether or not the convicted felon can keep his senate seat. Should Stevens be expelled, suddenly Alaska has a vacant senate seat; a sweet consolation prize for Governor Palin to grant herself should she lose the vice presidency. She’ll be the best dressed senator in history.

McCain vs. Obama

You tell me. Conventional wisdom crowned Obama long ago, and how can anyone beat a candidate who raises money like a healing preacher and gets better press coverage than the Pope. If McCain pulls off a Truman-esque upset, it proves Nixon’s theory that there really is a silent majority in America. In any event, watch Virginia. It’s in the Eastern Time Zone with an early closing time at the polls of seven PM. If the state is declared promptly as a big Obama win, it indicates a landslide. If the state can’t be called by eight O‘clock, it guarantees a later evening than all the belt way bandits expected and bodes well for the underdog.

Shaheen over Sununu

Who knew? Apparently New Hampshire Senator John Sununu is responsible for every human frailty up to an including the Ebola virus. Or at least that's the general theme of the merciless tidal wave of Jeanne Shaheen advertising which has so successfully eviscerated the incumbent Republican that he'll no more win this race than Elvis will rise from the dead. Ironically, Sununu's already being mentioned as one of the unfair casualties of an indiscriminating electorate ready to eat Republicans for breakfast. It was MSNBC Democratic commentator Chris Matthews who recently lamented Sununu's impending doom, citing him as one of the good guys in the senate. For once I agree with Matthews.

Question one

If the ballot initiative passes, it would supposedly terminate the present 5.3 percent income tax on wages, dividends, capital gains and interest. The scandal behind the ballot question is the conduct of the advocates. The Boston Herald reported that the petitioners for the income tax repeal have raised serious money, much of which they have generously placed in their own pockets.

But the voters aren't as focused on the sins of the ballot creators as they are on their own shrinking wallets. Question One gets sort of a protest vote of 45, maybe 46 percent, but nonetheless fails; thankfully.

As for getting high

That’s a different story. If you carry an ounce or less of pot, this ballot initiative - question two - means you're no longer a criminal but someone who could, instead, face a citation. The question will pass because with the crumbling economy, people need something to take the pain away.

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