Strickland Trailing Kasich in Ohio Governor’s Race

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Plagued by the economic downturn, Ohio’s Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland finds himself trailing former Rep. John Kasich in the state’s gubernatorial race, according to an Ohio Newspaper Poll conducted Jan. 13-19.

Kasich leads Strickland 51 percent to 45 percent with 5 percent undecided. The margin of error is 3.4 points. Strickland won election as governor in 2006 with 60 percent of the vote.

“If the election were held tomorrow, we might be talking about how a bad economy contributed to a political environment that had voters in the mood to fire their incumbent governor,” said poll director Eric Rademacher of the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research.

Strickland is still seen positively, though not by a large margin. Fifty percent approve of the job he is doing while 45 percent disapprove, with 5 percent undecided.

But he is seeking re-election at a time when 58 percent say economic conditions in Ohio are getting worse. Forty-seven percent say their standard of living is worse than it was four years ago while 44 percent say it is about the same. That said, only 3 percent blame Strickland’s administration for the state’s economic woes.

Twenty-four percent blame Ohio’s economic problems on the Bush administration, 23 percent finger Wall Street and financial institutions, 19 percent blame the Congress and 13 percent blame the Obama administration.

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Newt Gingrich Writes New ‘Contract,’ Calls Dems ‘Secular Socialist Coalition’

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led Republicans’ 1994 take-over of the House of Representatives with the “Contract with America,” a document telling voters what a Republican-led Congress would look like under his leadership.

On the same day that PD’s Matt Lewis drafted his own proposal for a Contract with America 2.0, Gingrich has outlined an updated contract for Newsmax Magazine, along with instructions for today’s Republican leadership, titled “How I’d Create a New Contract with America.”

Before he gets to the meat of his proposal, however, Gingrich notes, “It is clear that the country is increasingly angry with the Obama-Pelosi-Reid team. But it is equally clear that Americans still distrust Republicans almost as much as they fear liberal Democrats.”

This document, he says, can help energize Republicans, who should focus on the country, rather than fixating on Democrats, whom he refers to as a “secular socialist coalition seeking to change America radically.” Gingrich then gives the history of the first contract, as well as a lengthy how-to guide for Republicans to use his new one.

Finally, Gingrich outlines an extensive list of priorities he’d like to see Republicans tackle:

1. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
2. Balance the budget.
3. An American energy plan.
4. Appropriations reform.
5. Litigation reform.
6. Real health reform.
7. Every child gets ahead.
8. Protect religious liberty.
9. Protect Americans, not the rights of terrorists.
10. Defending America is job one for government.

Although House Minority Leader John Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor have said for months that they will unveil a similar Republican agenda, they have yet to do so. But they will have plenty of time to discuss Gingrich’s and Lewis’s ideas at the Republican issues conference, set for Baltimore later this week.

Many Republicans credited the 1994 Contract With America with helping the party seize control of the House after 40 years of Democratic dominance. The original document included promises of an independent audit of waste and fraud on Capitol Hill, a trimming of the House bureaucracy and term limits for committee chairmen.


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Utah’s GOP Governor Has Big Early Lead in Race for Re-Election

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Republic Gov. Gary Herbert is leading Democratic challenger Peter Corroon, the mayor of Salt Lake County, 55 percent to 30 percent with 15 percent undecided, according to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted Jan. 18-20 for the Salt Lake Tribune.

Herbert stepped into the job last year when his GOP predecessor Jon Huntsman was named by President Obama to be ambassador to China.

Sixty-two percent of voters gave Herbert good or excellent marks for his performance as governor, 23 percent rated him fair, 7 percent said it was poor and 13 percent were undecided. Herbert has wider name recognition across the state than Corroon, who just recently announced his candidacy.

Quin Monson of the Brigham Young University’s Center for the Study of Elections told the Tribune that it was still early. “People are not ready to answer yet,” he said, noting that the results pretty much followed partisan lines. “It is not great news for either one. It is not devastating news for either one.”

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Big Partisan Gap in Approval Ratings Marks Obama’s First Year

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Whether it is due to the change in the tone of U.S. politics in the last 60 years or the policies of the new administration, President Obama has been the most polarizing of any modern chief executive in his first year, with even Bill Clinton taking second place, according to Gallup’s analysis of its 2009 surveys.

Gallup puts the gap between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to Obama’s job approval rating at 65 points, compared to 52 points for Clinton and 45 points each for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Next highest was Richard Nixon at 34 percent and all other past presidents were below that number. The Gallup data goes back to the Eisenhower administration

“The extraordinary level of polarization in Obama’s first year in office is a combination of declining support from Republicans coupled with high and sustained approval from Democrats,” Gallup said.

The pollster added: “The way Americans view presidents has clearly changed in recent decades, perhaps owing to the growth in variety, sources, and even politicization of news on cable television and the Internet, and the continuing popularity of politically oriented talk radio. The outcome is that Americans evaluate their presidents and other political leaders through increasingly thick partisan lenses.”

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Iraq Executes ‘Chemical Ali,’ Saddam Hussein’s Cousin, As Bombings Rock Baghdad

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Ali Hassan al-Majeed, Saddam Hussein’s cousin who became known as “Chemical Ali” after he gassed 5,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1988, was executed Monday, CNN reports. He was hanged after being convicted in four separate trials for 13 counts of killings and genocide.

Al-Majeed was held by the United States from the day of his capture in 2003 until 24 hours before he was to be executed, when he was turned over to Iraqi officials. The execution had been postponed for political reasons, and it is unclear what change led it to be suddenly carried out.

In addition to the Kurdish genocide, Al-Majeed was sentenced to death separately for his role in putting down a Shiite uprising against Hussein in 1991, and for his part in putting down a Baghdad revolt in 1999.

Shortly after the execution, three car bombings rocked Baghdad, killing 36 and injuring another 71, Al Jazeera reports. The attacks all occured at major hotels in the capital and happened within 10 minutes of one another. Iraqi officials declined to speculate on a possible correlation between the bombings and the execution.


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Evan Bayh Looking Vulnerable in Indiana Senate Race

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Two-term Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is looking vulnerable in Indiana where he is polling under 50 percent when matched against three possible Republican challengers, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Jan. 21 and 24.

Five-term Republican Rep. Mike Pence is not an announced candidate for the race but Politico reports that national GOP leaders are trying to recruit him. Matched against Bayh, Pence leads 47 percent to 44 percent with 3 percent preferring some other candidate and 7 percent undecided. The margin of error is 3.5 points.

Bayh leads former Rep. John Hostettler 44 percent to 41 percent with 3 percent preferring someone else and 12 percent undecided.

The only opponent against whom Bayh has a significant advantage is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who he leads 45 percent to 33 percent with 5 percent preferring someone else and 16 percent undecided.

“As in many other states, there is a strong correlation between support for the congressional health care plan and voting behavior. Just 37 percent of Indiana voters favor the plan, while 60 percent oppose it,” Rasmussen says. “Those who strongly favor the plan overwhelmingly prefer Bayh. Among those who are strongly opposed, 80 percent say they’d vote for Pence, 70 percent for Hostettler and 56 percent for Stutzman.”

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John Edwards Sex Tape with Rielle Hunter Alleged in Andrew Young Book

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John Edwards’ former staffer Andrew Young supposedly has a sex tape made by Edwards and Rielle Hunter, according to Gawker.

Let’s face it, Young has lied before: He previously claimed paternity of Edwards’ daughter with Hunter, and if we believe him now, was willing to drive his own life over a cliff to cover up for his boss. But he now insists that he became disillusioned when he discovered the sex tape in 2007…in his friend Hunter’s home. (Gee, was it hidden on the coffee table, along with an open box of chocolates?) Doubtless the motivation of a book contract had nothing to do with Young’s disillusionment…but he’s threatening to reveal more gory details of Edwards and Hunter’s affair in his new book, The Politician, which will be released February 2. Oh, and those who do not want to hear another word about the contents of the (purported?) sex tape should NOT tune in for his interview Friday on ABC’s 20/20.

Hunter was paid by the Edwards presidential campaign to make videos of the candidate, but no one suspected she was making one of them having sex. The tape reportedly shows Hunter “behind the camera at first” and then the two of them engaging in “several sex acts.”
The New York Daily News reported last June that Young’s book proposal mentioned a sex tape, as did the National Enquirer in July.

One of Gawker’s sources said Young saw the sex tape as “kind of the last straw for people who had sacrificed savings and jobs to lie for John.”
But why would that turn him against his boss? At that point, Young had already helped Edwards cheat on his cancer-stricken wife, and helped him deny his own flesh and blood. Yet something on a sex tape made him wake up and smell the mendacity? Right.

If such a tape does exist, whether Young got hold of it by accident or design is also unclear. The Enquirer reported that he found it while helping Hunter unpack when they lived together – along with Young’s own wife and children — in the hideaway house in California. Gawker cites that Young found it in a stack of DVDs in Hunter’s house by accident.

The ick-factor is compounded by the Enquirer’s report that ‘John and Rielle think Andrew concocted the story that he
‘found’ the tape. They think he may have been the one responsible for recording it, “divulged the close source.”

Follow me on Twitter @EmilyMillerDC


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