Weldon's loss to a war vet illustrates how swift boating efforts can backfire. Republicans accused Sestak of improperly wearing his uniform while campaigning, claiming the wrong military rank and abusing subordinates while in the Navy. For a complete rundown on Republican swift boat efforts this year, and the Democrat response, see my Mother Jones story, Swift Boating the Fighting Dems. The American Prospect later reported that Weldon's campaign had queried Weldon's Navy colleagues for dirt on Sestak, in possible violation of House rules. In more ways than one, Weldon wrapped up the month looking like a dirty bird: mid-month the FBI raided his daughter's house as part of an investigation into whether he helped her win lobbying and consulting contracts.
In the ultra-super-tight Virginia Senate race, where Jim Webb and George Allen are less than a point apart, the Green candidate, Gail Parker, is pulling down 1.11 percent of the vote. If the current spread holds, she could throw the election to Allen, and potentially allow Republicans to keep the Senate. Parker is running as a member of the Independent Greens of Virginia, a party that branched off of the national Green Party because the bosses there "don't really believe in running candidates," IGVA campaign coordinator Joseph Oddo said. Is Oddo worried his party will pull a Nader? "No, we don't see it that way," he says. "We see people who are sending a message that they are tired of politics as usual."
Oddo says his party hasn't received any Republican cash--though it is surely getting plenty of Republican prayers tonight.
Jim Webb is leading Republican incumbent George Allen in one of the nation's most closely watched Senate races. Early results give Webb 50 percent of the vote to Allen's 49 percent. The Democrat has soared in the returns after being down more than ten points in the tally just an hour ago.
CNN exit polls showed factors working at cross-currents for Webb: 57 percent of veterans and active duty military personnel voted for Allen vs 42 percent for Webb. Webb has hoped his credentials as an ex-Marine and Navy officer would give him a boost with security minded voters. However, Webb seems to be holding up against Allen with women voters. The polls showed 56 percent of women going for Webb and only 43 percent for Allen. Women tend to support Democrats by a margin of 8 percent, which would seem to indicate Webb hasn't been unduly affected by Allen's efforts to trumpet the Democrat's early 1980s opposition to women in the military.
The Webb/Allen race has been viewed as key as Democrats try to win the Senate and woo conservative voters in the upper south with a message of changing the course in Iraq.
A judge in Colorado denied an emergency request by Democrats to keep polls in Denver open an additional two hours after computer problems and unusually high turnout led to lines of up to 100 people.
According to the Denver Post, District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport argued that she didn't have the authority to keep the polls open, citing case law from Missouri and Arkansas. The Post story and a story in Denver's Rocky Mountain News didn't elaborate on the judge's reasoning.
In Ohio, CNN reported Democrats are awaiting a ruling on a similar suit. Democrats are asking that 16 precincts in Cuyahoga Countythe Cleveland areastay open until 10:00 pm tonight. Confusion over the use of new electronic voting machines had created long lines there. (Four to five House Republicans are in danger in Ohio, as well as Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who has been running behind in his race for governor)
According to Bloomberg, the voting rights group Election Protection is considering filing suits in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida to extend voting hours due to similar delays.
WESTWOOD - Congressman Steve Chabot found out just how serious elections officials are about the new voter ID law when he showed up to vote at his polling place in Westwood.
Chabot went into the polling place at Westwood First Presbyterian Church about 9:30 a.m. and pulled out his Ohio driver's license to show the poll workers. They looked at his license, and told the congressman that, even though they know perfectly well who he is, his driver's license was issued to his business office, not his home, which is his voting address.
Somewhat sheepishly, Chabot went back out into the parking lot, jumped in his 1993 Buick - the one he talked about on his campaign commercials - and started heading back to his home a few blocks away to find a proper ID.
"I guess I'll see if I can find a utility bill," Chabot said. "That's the law. You have to have proper ID."
Chabot returned about 10 minutes later with a bank statement and a Social Security Administration statement in hand.
He went inside and voted quickly.
"My wife told me to bring two documents just to be sure," Chabot said. "I guess this just shows the poll workers are really doing their job."
The Ohio voter ID requirement is the work of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is famous for his partisan hatchet job on the 2004 presidential election. Only two weeks ago, Blackwell issued a directive requiring that any ID used at the polls show a current address. It was challenged in court but upheld by a judge on October 29. Its impact on vote suppression this year could foretell problems down the road: according to the NYU-based Brennan Center, some 25 states have proposed similar voter ID requirements. Stay posted for more news about how the law is affecting Ohio voters today at the polls.
Also, here's a link to a Mother Jones story I wrote which talks about how these voter-ID laws are at the center of many tight secretary of state races across the country this year.