Capital Beat extra: He'll take the call

After a forum on the Iraq war Monday, Delaware Democrat and 2008 presidential candidate-to-be Sen. Joe Biden walked away from reporters talking with New Hampshire congressional candidate Paul Hodes to answer his cell phone. When he returned Biden told Hodes, "Mark Warner says hi," referring to the former governor of Virginia who now won't be running for president.

When a reporter asked about the call, Biden said Warner wanted to meet with him. "Not about endorsing me," he assured reporters, throwing up his hands in not-so-subtle Biden style. "We just want to get together."

Chelsea Conaboy

Capital Beat extra: Grading on a curve?

What does a Republican have to do to get an A?

Those teachers over at the National Education Association just love to grade things. Their latest project: a report card for the New Hampshire Senate. The union rated senators on five bills from the last session, two that dealt with education funding and one each dealing with kindergarten construction, school vouchers and retirement benefits.

The union awarded endorsements to Senate Dems who scored 80 (4 out of 5) or 100 percent. Sen. Bob Odell, a Republican, earned 100 percent but didn't get any love from the union. Maybe he should ask about extra credit.

Meg Heckman

Observing two New Yorkers

Safe to say George Pataki won't be e-mailing this column from Rick Brookhiser to would-be supporters. Or copies of the book about which Brookhiser is writing.

In the same issue of the Observer, Steve Kornacki of PoliticsNH explains to his New York audience why their beloved Rudy Giuliani might have a big McCain problem in New Hampshire. (My own sense, after watching Giuliani's Concord speech on C-SPAN, is that he probably won't run. Just a gut reaction, but I thought he had the calm of a man who knows he ultimately doesn't have to make the people in the room like him.)

Putting these two items side by side reminds me of the great column Brookhiser wrote about Giuliani for National Review during the 2004 Republican convention. A snippet: "Giuliani presents conservatives with an unusual phenomenon — the politician who is both extremely liberal and extremely conservative. This is a very different thing from being a 'moderate' (which is almost always code for trending liberal). On social issues he stands with Barney Frank. On security issues he stands with Douglas MacArthur."

Capital Beat extra: rallying cries

Speaking to partisan crowds, state Republicans and Democrats have had very different tones recently.

Last week Rep. Mike Whalley, an Alton Republican and candidate for House speaker, had this to say when he introduced U.S. Sen. John Sununu before a GOP fundraiser with former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani: "(Sununu is) a great Republican. He comes from a great Republican family. And at this point I'd like to have him come up and give us a few words of encouragement so that we can all cheer ourselves up and get ready for the great event of Nov. 7."

And this was Republican Executive Councilor Ray Wieczorek, at a recent fundraiser for Senate President Ted Gatsas, on the state of the majority party in the Legislature and the holders of all four of the state's congressional seats: "We're not dead at all," Wieczorek said, trying to stir up the crowd. "As a matter of fact, once they throw us down to the floor, there's only one place to move: Up."

There seems to be no limit, meanwhile, to Democrats' optimism. Gov. John Lynch, not exactly known for fiery speeches, scored frequent ovations for his rallying cries to party members at Friday's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. "Are you ready to win on Nov. 7?" Lynch asked. "Are you going to make sure that I have more friends at my side come January? In the state House of Representatives? In the state Senate? On the Executive Council? And in Washington, D.C.?"

Outgoing House Democratic Leader Jim Craig, who lost to Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st District Democratic congressional primary, followed Lynch by predicting more Democrats in Concord. "So how does 180 House members sound? How about 190? How about 210? How about a Democratic speaker of the House?" Craig said. "It's going to happen this year!"

Eric Moskowitz

Fun with numbers

Just in case the price of gas or perhaps milk comes up in a candidate debate, check out this chart in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The hook is the 300 million mark in U.S. population, and the paper does a then-and-now comparison with 1915 (when the population hit 100 million) and 1967 (when it hit 200 million).

Pop quiz: Is the price of a gallon of gas higher or lower than it was in those earlier years? What about milk? Well, in 1915 a gallon of gas cost 25 cents and a gallon of milk 36 cents. BUT in 2006 dollars -- the only meaningful way to do a comparison -- those prices were $5.01 and $7.22, respectively. Meaning $2.23 for gas (I paid $2.09 yesterday) and $3 for milk are significantly cheaper.

A fish tale

Mike Pride caught a strange-looking fish in his mailbox yesterday. Turns out, he can thank Paul Hodes.

Defending Bill Gardner

I'm surprised this column by Bob Quinn hasn't drawn more response. Secretary of State Bill Gardner is the keeper of the New Hampshire presidential primary flame, but so far the Monitor has received only one letter responding to Quinn's criticisms. Yesterday, Rep. Jim Splaine, another guardian of the primary, blogged in Gardner's defense. (Strangely, he describes Quinn, a former state Democratic Party executive director, as only "a reader.") You can read Splaine's post here.

Tax-free New Hampshire

The Monitor will publish a guide to the November election in a few weeks, but in editing it this weekend, I noticed two big trends.

First – poof – the taxers have disappeared! For many years, the newspaper has asked candidates for the House and Senate for their wisdom on how to pay for public schools – in 50 words or less. And for years there was a reliable crowd – mostly Democrats but some Republicans too; mostly from Concord but from some outlying towns too – who took the opportunity to plug the virtues of a statewide income tax.

Today, with a court-imposed deadline of July ’07 to finally fix the school funding system, legislative candidates, even the former taxers, use 40 of those 50 words to discuss defining an adequate education. Then, with their final 10 words, they say, “And then we must figure out how to finance it.” Ideas welcome.

Second, a huge number of House and Senate candidates in local districts just love the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program. Love it, love it, love it. They want to fully fund it – this year, next year and on into the future. Will that love translate into actual votes next spring? Last year . . . not so much.

Felice Belman

The Republican Raiders

Fred Barnes, author of Rebel-in-Chief, is an Al Davis Republican (as in, "Just win, baby"). His team is struggling almost as much as Davis's these days, and in his latest Weekly Standard column Barnes lets out all his I-can't-believe-we're-gonna-lose-the-House-to-Nancy Pelosi angst. My guess is he believes what's he saying but that he also hopes his warning will do its small part to help prevent the calamity. What's really needed, he says, is "an event -- a big event -- to crystallize the issue in a way that highlights Republican strength and Democratic weakness." He also writes: "If politics were fair, Democrats would be in as much trouble as Republicans." Indeed, if only politics were fair...

UPDATE: Reader Richard L. Fortin of Manchester responds with his prediction: New Hampshire's House members, Jeb Bradley and Charlie Bass, will return to Congress -- as members of the minority. "Nancy Pelosi, sorry to say, will be the first woman to become speaker of the House, and Fred Barnes can shudder and shake -- it's going to happen."

No Hawaii for us

Yesterday we looked at whether Gov. Lynch has amended his view of the need for/desirability of a constitutional amendment and linked to, among others, this column from Charlie Arlinghaus of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. Charlie writes in:

"It's worth noting that what the governor wishes to do -- targeting aid -- is a more or less consensus view, opposed only by those who wish a completely state-funded system (only Hawaii currently has such a system, and they hate it). It's also worth noting that our Supreme Court's decision is VERY clear. The plan must define not an adequate education but an adequate cost. Then, 'none of that financial obligation can be shifted to local school districts, regardless of their relative wealth or need.' That's why a consensus is emerging to amend, although exactly how will be a brouhaha."

Mark Warner, we hardly knew ye

What was Warner's potential appeal? An e-mailer writes:

"Mark Warner has a few characteristics that made him an unusually attractive candidate. First, he exudes a sense of someone who has actually run something. Candidates like Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and, most notably, John Kerry, who have stewed for decades in the Senate, tend to talk too much about the legislative process, and to talk in Senatorese, while having virtually no experience running anything bigger than their Senate offices. Warner, on the other hand, was governor of Virginia -- and, before that, he was a very successful businessman, as co-founder of the company that eventually became Nextel. Warner comes across like a decision-maker -- but he also knows that a huge part of leading is inspiring others and getting them on board. I have to say, I was ready to follow him anywhere.

"Second, Warner is a Blue Guy From a Red State -- and he was very, very successful in Virginia, with huge popularity as he left office. But unlike other successful Democrats from red states, he didn't come across to me as a Republican dressed in Democratic clothing. He seemed to hold true to core Democratic values about economic fairness and opportunity. For example, he not only balanced the budget in Virginia, but he did it by leading a restructuring of the tax system to make it much more progressive. Warner came to political age in Connecticut, where he lived when he was in high school. He really is a Northeasterner, who learned to translate our more progressive values into a Southern setting. That gave me great comfort.

"Third, he wasn't tainted by Iraq. He was not part of the majority of Democratic senators who voted to authorize the use of force and enabled the invasion. Let's face it: Had Warner been in the Senate, he might have been one of the sheep and associated himself with that colossal and tragic blunder. But he wasn't there, so he doesn't have to spend his time rationalizing his vote. That's going to be a problem for Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden and the rest, as it was for John Kerry in 2004."

Ambition vs. ambivalence

Why did Mark Warner decide not to run for president? Time's James Carney suggests it may really be that Warner woke up and realized he didn't want to be president badly enough to make the personal, physical, psychological and other sacrifices a run for the White House would entail. If it's really that simple, good for him.

So who benefits? Michael Barone isn't buying any John Edwards, John Kerry, Al Gore OR Hillary Clinton futures. His winners of the day: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: Evidently, there aren't that many tears for Warner in New Hampshire. A UNH/WMURpoll found him barely registering here so far. Complete results in pdf. (Thanks to PoliticsNH for the link.)

Capital Beat extra: Sununu will say it

Local Republicans aren't exactly gushing about their gubernatorial candidate, but Jim Coburngot a little love this afternoon during a GOP rally at Concord's Holiday Inn. U.S. Sen. John Sununu gave a fiery appeal to turn out the conservative vote on Election Day. Congressional races, he said, are crucial, but so is the contest for the corner office.

"Because we have no sales and income tax, we have among the highest growth rates in the country, the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest poverty rate in the country, the best mental health system in the country -- this is not an accident," he said. "It has happened because of Republican House candidates making the right decisions . . . and Republican governors making the right decisions. . . . We have a Republican candidate, Jim Coburn, who understands."

Joelle Farrell & Meg Heckman

Capital Beat extra: follow the money

New Hampshire Democrats continue to benefit from cash funnelled through, a website that allows any left-leaning person with a credit card to make donations to candidates all over the country. Major House and Senate races are, of course, attracting the big bucks, but even Dems vying for State House races are making out. Here's a look at some local Dems' takes as of lunchtime:

  • Paul Hodes: $34,7000
  • Carol Shea-Porter: $43,100
  • George Cleveland: $25
  • Harold Janeway: $885
  • Molly Kelly: $481

- Meg Heckman

Capital Beat extra: dialing for District 7

Don't be surprised if you get a phone call (or two) from Harold Janeway this week. Janeway, a Webster Democrat running against Sen. Bob Flanders, is flush with money and, judging by the size of his phone banks, volunteers. Janeway tells us the campaign made 1,000 calls Tuesday night and expected to place hundreds more this evening. He's also planning to work his political mojo in Weare, the town that number crunchers say gave Flanders most of his 1,100-vote margin in 2004.

Flanders, meanwhile, is amping up his fundraising and cozying up to Democratic Gov. John Lynch, as he did during a recent Monitor editorial board interview. As of Sept. 20, Flanders had about $41,000 on hand compared with Janeway's $70,000. This, folks, is a race to watch.

- Meg Heckman

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