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The "Gubernatorial Annis Horribilis" Looms Over NGA

When I covered the NGA's summer conference in Philadelphia last year, much of the focus was on the governors who found themselves on all the media "short lists" as potential running mate choices. Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.), then the NGA chair, was particularly in focus as a potential McCain pick. Govs. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.), thought to be at the top of Obama's short list, fielded questions all weekend about their relationships with the then-Illinois senator. I even spoke with a then-relatively-unknown governor, who told me: "I really doubt that such a thing would happen. ... I'm just a hockey mom from Alaska, do you really think that it is even in the realm of possibility?"

What a difference a year makes. And it's been a tough year -- a "gubernatorial annis horribilis" for the chief executives of the 50 states, as NPR's Ron Elving points out:

The economy is, of course, the main source of grief for governors of all stripes and in all regions. From Florida to Oregon, state governments are being forced to slash programs, lay off workers and, where possible, raise taxes as well.

...

Many political scientists and other observers continue to view the states as the laboratories of good governance, a source of hope for civic success. But a combination of hard times and bad behavior has battered this belief. And it has done even more to damage the image of the governor as the glamorous executive, the can-do source of solutions.

As a result, the sense that any gathering of the NGA is a casting call for president has faded.

Discuss The President's Speech Today

I'll be joining NPR's Ken Rudin and Scott Horsley for a web chat this afternoon covering President Obama's address to Congress tonight. Please join us at noon eastern.

What A Cycle

The 2008 election season has largely come to a close. Only Georgia and Louisiana voters have ballots left to cast, and only elections officials in Ohio, Minnesota, California and Virginia have counts to complete. For those of us who have spent the better part of two years covering the people, parties and politics, it's time to decompress a bit.

It's time to look back on the burning hot sun at the Iowa Republican Party straw poll, where this reporter had two barbeque sandwiches in a day and felt like a pig, only to witness a fellow reporter down five sandwiches.

To recall an orange rolling down the center of the aisle as Air Huckabee took off from Des Moines, victorious, en route to Manchester. The candidate was so excited that his press conference lasted the majority of the flight. Using the exit row for an impromptu press conference is not comfortable for reporters.

At-large caucus sites in Las Vegas casinos, the initial maneuverings toward a bid for RNC chair taking place before the Sandia Mountains north of Albuquerque and debates in Hanover, Philadelphia, Orlando and Oxford, Mississippi are indelible memories.

But it's also time for some of us to move on. After this post, I'll be moving over to The Hill to serve as a staff writer after more than a year and a half with the best political website out there.

Thanks to John McIntyre and Tom Bevan, creators of Real Clear Politics, for providing the forum in which to write and analyze what's turned into one of the greatest election seasons in American history. There are those behind the scenes who deserve credit as well -- Blake Dvorak, Nick Nordseth, Greg Bobrinskoy, Anand Ramanujan and Anna Lindow have all endured more complaints from me than they deserved. Thanks also to my colleague Kyle Trygstad, who took on important parts of Politics Nation (No one knows congressional districts better than Kyle).

Most importantly, thanks to you, the reader, who made Politics Nation possible, who sent feedback (Well, thanks for most of the feedback. You know who you are) and who pointed out the occasional flub. It's been a pleasure sharing this incredible year with you. Stay with RCP throughout the next cycle, which will be historic in its own right, and keep up to date on every bit of must-read political journalism out there.

Thanks again, and best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.

-- Reid Wilson

Site, Quote Of The Day

Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, a candidate for the top post at the RNC, announced his candidacy via Twitter, Facebook and other cutting-edge technological methods before sending the announcement to the media. "I tweet my way around on a regular basis," Anuzis told a conference call yesterday.

And anyone looking to waste an hour should visit RahmFacts.com, a tribute to the incoming White House chief of staff. "Rahm Emanuel did not fight in the Israeli Army as rumored but he probably would have been awesome at it if he had," says our favorite.

Apologies...

Sorry for the light posting of late. We've been busy hyping up the newest addition to the RCP family, The Scorecard. The Scorecard is a joint project between yours truly and Politico's Josh Kraushaar, and it's your one-stop shop for all the news, notes and, importantly, advertisements from Congressional races around the country.

Count on Politics Nation to be your repository for all the latest live-telephone polls from around the country as we run up to Election Day, as well as your first stop in the morning for the latest round up of news and developments on the presidential campaign trail. That's right, Strategy Memo isn't going anywhere.

We don't say this enough, but thank you, readers, for joining us so faithfully. It's you all who make this election season so much fun.

So stop by The Scorecard when you can, tune in to Politics Nation on XM Radio every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, and keep clicking PoliticsNation.com for the cutting-edge analysis we try to deliver every day.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Have Democrats taken over the middle? And what happened to the once-mighty herds of Republican moderates? We'll talk to retiring Republicans Ray LaHood and Tom Davis to find out how the GOP can get its big tent back.

-- Barack Obama can win the South. Either that or Obama has no chance to pick up North Carolina, Georgia and anywhere else South of the Mason-Dixon line. We talk with UMBC Professor Thomas Schaller about Democrats' chances in previously Republican states.

-- And the Netroots Nation is meeting in Austin, Texas to plot strategy ahead of November's elections. Which matters more, the left's bloggers or the right's dittoheads? We'll get a live report from RCP's Kyle Trygstad in Austin.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- A new study from the Family Research Council suggests same-sex marriage bans could once again drive voter turnout and give Republicans a reason to hope in November. But, like immigration, we debate whether gay marriage is an actual vote-moving issue.

-- Could John McCain and the RNC actually outspend Barack Obama? What happened to Barack Obama's hundred million-dollar month?

-- John Boehner is headed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with ten Republican freshmen. WIth energy and gas prices climbing through the roof, have Republicans found their winning issue?

-- And, get this, we take your listener mail! We'll do our best to answer as many as possible, but ask away: Is there a kind of poll you want to know about? Is there an issue you think will play a major role in this year's election that's being overlooked? Email your questions to Politics Nation today, and tune in Saturday to hear our answers.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Politics Nation note

Politics Nation will be out for a few hours this morning. Please check back later in the morning for updates. Thanks!

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- We talk with Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who just ousted Rep. Chris Cannon in a primary. How hungry for change are voters in both electorates?

-- Wall Street Journal reporter Susan Davis joins Josh Kraushaar and Reid Wilson in studio for the debate of the year: Which states are really in play? None of us agree on anything, so it'll be the knock-down drag-out to hear.

-- And John McCain and Barack Obama are addressing the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Washington. We'll have their speeches, and reactions to those speeches, live in a special extended edition of Politics Nation radio.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- In the next five months, David Plouffe and Rick Davis will become famous for managing Barack Obama's and John McCain's campaign. But what are they, and their various departments, actually doing? We talk to four top strategists who have run campaign strategy, polling, finance and press offices about what those in now in their shoes will face.

-- Hillary Clinton's supporters have complained of rampant sexism in coverage of her campaign compared with that of Obama's campaign. How much did sexism, or racism, play a role in the campaign? We talk to EMILY's List executive director Ellen Moran and Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of American Journalism Review.

-- And the passing of NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert has stunned the political world. We'll talk about Russert's life, his legacy and the lives he touched.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

PN Radio: Wither The GOP?

This week on Politics Nation Radio, the Democratic primaries are over, and the down-ballot primaries are just beginning. In the first hour, we deconstruct what went wrong in Hillary Clinton's once-inevitable bid for the White House, and check in with candidates seeking to replace retiring Republican Rep. Tom Davis in Virginia.

And in the second hour, the Republican Party is seriously wounded, and the trouble goes beyond simply the brand. If the very message is antiquated, where does the GOP go from here? We talk with GOP strategist Josh Kahn, South Carolina party chair Katon Dawson, National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter to find out.

Be sure to tune in this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and replayed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern, on XM Radio's POTUS '08 for Politics Nation, live from the nation's capitol. You can find the listen free link, along with a preview of the show, in this space every Friday afternoon.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Hillary Clinton will drop her presidential bid on Saturday. Where did the once-immovable object go wrong? Was the foundation cracked, or was the unstoppable force of Obama just too much? Plus, it's our last "Where in the world is Mike Memoli," for now at least.

-- Virginia's Eleventh District is a prime example of an emerging Democratic constituency, where suburban voters dominate. Can the GOP hold Rep. Tom Davis's seat? We talk to candidates Gerry Connolly (D), Leslie Byrne (D) and Keith Fimian (R) about their prospects for winning.

-- And the Republican Party is really suffering. It goes beyond the brand, some say, to the very message the party is using. We talk to Ramesh Ponnuru, Rep. Thad McCotter and South Carolina Republican chairman Katon Dawson about the direction Republicans have to head to regain their majority.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Despite promises to field a more diverse group of candidates, Republicans haven't come up with a single African American or Hispanic candidate. GOPAC Chairman and former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele joins Politics Nation to take a look at the GOP's candidates.

-- He surprised state Democrats with his decision to challenge incumbent Senator Frank Lautenberg. Now Rep. Rob Andrews joins Politics Nation to tell us why he can beat his fellow Democrat, and why he should be the next senator from New Jersey.

-- And McCain's already making his first vice presidential moves, inviting everyone down to Sedona for a weekend meet and greet. Who's up, who's down in the race to be the Maverick's number two? Josh Kraushaar, Chris Frates and Susan Davis chime in.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Newly elected Democrat Travis Childers won a special election this week that sent shockwaves through the GOP establishment. We talk with Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who helped Childers win, to find out if the victory can foreshadow big things in November.

-- Along with the Democratic presidential primary, Oregonians are going to choose a candidate to battle incumbent Republican Senator Gordon Smith in November. We'll talk with State House Speaker Jeff Merkley and Portland lawyer and activist Steve Novick, the two front-runners, about why they are best to beat Smith in November, even as public polls have showed both trailing.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Checkmate: PN Radio Plays Chess

This week on Politics Nation, live on Saturday mornings on XM Radio's POTUS '08, we chat with prominent Washington journalists about their thoughts on important, and overlooked, turning points in the Democratic primary battle. Guest host Tim Sahd and this writer interview CongressDaily's Erin McPike, The Hill's Sam Youngman and the Associated Press' Phil Elliott in the first hour:

And in the second hour, we take a look ahead to this Fall's likely matchup between John McCain and Barack Obama. The two candidates have said they can expand their party's electoral map. Is it true, and if so, what states are newly in play? Hear McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and Obama national co-chair Eric Holder's take on the November battleground:

Be sure to tune in this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and replayed from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern, on XM Radio's POTUS '08 for Politics Nation, live from the nation's capitol. You can find the listen free link, along with a preview of the show, in this space every Friday afternoon.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and Obama national campaign co-chair Eric Holder join Politics Nation to preview a possible general election matchup between two candidates who claim they can expand the map. What states are really in play this November?

-- Mississippi voters head to the polls to pick a new member of Congress. Is this another nail in the GOP's coffin, or can they use a win, even in heavily Republican territory, to start clawing their way back to the top?

-- And a host of top political writers sound off on the less appreciated moments that changed the Democratic primary race. Clinton's driver's license gaffe? Obama's "likable enough" fumble? We'll look back on the craziest sixteen months in American politics we've seen in generations.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- House Minority Leader John Boehner has an optimistic outlook on his party's prospects in November. Boehner joins Politics Nation to talk up his bid to retake the majority.

-- Louisiana voters head to the polls today to elect a replacement for Rep. Richard Baker. Can Democrats take a second special election in a row? We'll join Republican candidate Woody Jenkins and top Louisiana political analysts to find out.

-- And we tackle the week that was, including whether Hillary Clinton is on her way back from the political grave.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

DC Gets A Bowl Game

Not content with a mere 32 bowl games, the NCAA is expanding again, this time into the nation's capital. For the first time, two teams will meet this December in the Congressional Bowl in either RFK Stadium or the new Nationals ballpark. An NCAA committee also approved a new bowl game in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The additions were based on historical analysis speculating on the number of teams that are bowl-eligible, according to an NCAA statement. Last year, 1.6 million people went to a bowl game, which generated more than $200 million in revenue for the NCAA and the schools involved.

Most importantly for D.C. football fans, though, is which teams travel to the nation's capitol in the middle of December to play. Bid organizers told the Washington Post that the Naval Academy is likely to face a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, setting up a matchup that might attract a President-elect McCain, a Navy grad himself.

Organizers will have to reapply for status in 2009, but Army has already agreed to play in the game that year, assuming they are bowl-eligible, and bid team members Sean Metcalf and Marie Rudolph told the Post they hope to have a service academy involved every year.

For the record, the rest of the bowls to get excited for, from the historic Rose Bowl to the ridiculously named San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, according to the NCAA's release:

Allstate Sugar, AT&T Cotton, AutoZone Liberty, BCS National Championship, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces, Brut Sun, Capital One, Champs Sports, Chick-fil-A, Emerald, Fed Ex Orange, Gaylord Hotels Music City, GMAC, Roady's Humanitarian, Insight, International, Konica Minolta Gator, Meineke Car Care, Motor City, New Mexico, Outback, Pacific Life Holiday, Papajohns.com, PetroSun Independence, Pioneer Las Vegas, R+L Carriers New Orleans, Rose, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia, Sheraton Hawaii, Texas, Tostitos Fiesta and Valero Alamo.

On PN Radio: Childers Out

Last week on Politics Nation Radio, Politico's Josh Kraushaar and Chris Frates dissected the Pennsylvania results with Jonathan Martin, and wondered whether the ongoing Democratic battle is really going to hurt the party come November. Former Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Carrie Giddins also weighed in on how the Florida and Michigan delegate situations will be resolved:

In the second hour, House Race Hotline editor Tim Sahd joins the crew in studio for a long look at special elections in Mississippi and Louisiana. Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers, the Democratic candidate, and Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, the Republican candidate in Mississippi, provide exclusive interviews to Politics Nation:

Today On POTUS '08

Tune in for a special edition of The Race tonight on XM Radio's POTUS '08 as Real Clear Politics guest hosts. Join Politics Nation from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. as we tackle the hot issues of the day in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Reid Wilson and guest host Kyle Trygstad dissect the race, the polls and the status of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as they battle for votes in Indiana and North Carolina. We'll hear from each of the candidates as well, with audio from today's events in both states.

-- In the second hour, we'll dive deeper into Indiana with pollster Ann Selzer, whose polls this year have nailed margins and turnout figures in Iowa and Michigan. Her new poll sheds light on the race in Indiana, which may be much more wide open than we all think.

-- And, as a special treat, an exclusive interview with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen, on his party's outlook in the 2008 Congressional elections, upcoming special elections in Louisiana and Mississippi, and much more.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, tonight on The Race, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page) as:

-- Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Choznik talks about life on a campaign, and the constant struggle to find a girlfriend or boyfriend in a tiny campaign office in Muscatine, Iowa. Later, we find out where in the world Mike Memoli happens to be today.

-- California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy isn't sitting back and waiting for the GOP to win a bunch of House seats, he's helping rebuild his beaten down party. Can a new group of Republican "Young Guns" be the answer the NRCC has been looking for?

-- And Democrats have expanded the House playing field, but they're still looking for ways to expand the Senate playing field. Could Elizabeth Dole be just the target they're looking for? State Senator Kay Hagan joins Politics Nation to tell us why she's the candidate to knock off a vaunted incumbent.

All that and a few surprises, we're sure, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

On PN Radio: A "Bitter" Debate

Last week on Politics Nation Radio, we talked with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a big Hillary Clinton backer, and former DNC chairman David Wilhelm, Bill Clinton's old campaign manager and now a supporter of Barack Obama, about Obama's comments on Pennsylvanians clinging to bitterness, the debate over seating Florida and Michigan delegates at the convention and how Nutter was going to prepare for Monday's appearance on the Colbert Report.

In the second hour, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee communications director Jennifer Crider and National Republican Congressional Committee press secretary Ken Spain go toe to toe on Louisiana special elections, Mississippi special elections and the House landscape as a whole. Later, we're joined by Hotline editor in chief Amy Walter and seersucker expert/barbeque wiseman/South Carolina Republican Party executive director Jay W. Ragley.

This Week On PN Radio

Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page):

-- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, the city executive in most demand this week, joins Politics Nation before he heads off to the Colbert Report on Monday. Nutter, who is backing Hillary Clinton, lays out the Pennsylvania landscape and talks about what he's hearing on the trail.

-- Former DNC chairman David Wilhelm, a super delegate backing Barack Obama, hits the airwaves to talk about his candidate's chances in the Keystone State, as well as Obama's thoughts on public financing and a potential delegate compromise in Michigan and Florida.

-- DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider and NRCC spokesman Ken Spain head into Politics Nation Plaza to assess their respective party's chances in November. We promise we'll get beyond the spin and the canned quotes and get to the bottom of both parties' strengths and weaknesses.

All that plus Hotline Editor in Chief Amy Walter and South Carolina Republican Party executive director Jay W. Ragley, Saturday morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

This morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page):

-- We talk to Mark Salter, one of John McCain's chief advisers, about the Arizona Senator's recent biography tour. Did McCain's trip through time get drowned out by Democratic squabbling? Did he make any real news?

-- Washington Post polling director Jon Cohen joins Politics Nation to chat about the state of the race, and all the latest polls. How can John McCain be tied or ahead when a generic Republican trails a generic Democrat by 15 points?

-- Voters in Louisiana head to the polls today to pick candidates for two special elections. If a certain Republican nominee wins his runoff, will the NRCC give up on the seat? A top Republican strategist and a Louisiana demographics guru give us the scoop, and Politics Nation's special weather correspondent will fill us in.

All that and more, this morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Politics Nation Radio

Check out the audio from this week's Politics Nation on XM Radio, broadcast live on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. Eastern to noon, and repeated again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.

In the first hour, listen to Reps. David Price, of North Carolina, and Jason Altmire, of Pennsylvania, discuss where the votes will come from as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fight it out for delegate supremacy. Veteran pollster Fred Yang, an expert on all things Indiana, joins us as well:

In the second hour, Rolling Stone associate editor Ben Wallace Wells joins us to talk about his mammoth look at the National Republican Congressional Committee, a piece that appeared in this week's New York Times Magazine. Later, we're joined by David Drucker, of Roll Call, to chat about the battleground state that is New Mexico. All that and our Final Four picks in the second half:

Join us every week for Politics Nation Radio, Saturdays from 10 to noon and again from 6 to 8 p.m. Eastern. Don't have an XM subscription? Just log on to PoliticsNation.com on Saturdays to find the link to the free feed!

This Week On PN Radio

This Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page):

-- We take a comprehensive look at where the votes are going to come from in all three coming Democratic primary states, with an expert who knows each: From Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire; from Indiana, polling expert Fred Yang, of the Democratic firm Garin-Hart-Yang; and from North Carolina, Democratic Rep. and DNC member extraordinare David Price.

-- The NRCC faces problems, as everyone knows, but do GOP troubles this year signal a larger shift in the American political landscape? Rolling Stone associate editor Ben Wallace-Wells joins Politics Nation to chat about his mammoth must-read in this week's New York Times Magazine.

-- There's an open Senate seat and three open House seats. It hasn't given a presidential candidate more than a one-point win in twelve years. And John McCain chose the state to debut his first ad of the presidential cycle. David Drucker, of Roll Call, joins Politics Nation to take us through New Mexico, the Land of Political Enchantment.

All that and more, tomorrow morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern and again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

This Week On PN Radio

This Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Eastern, join Politics Nation on XM Radio's POTUS '08, when we'll tackle the week in politics. Listen free here (link about half-way down the page):

-- How did Barack Obama's speech on race in America play? And how effective will conservative efforts to question his love of country actually prove? National Review's David Freddoso joins Politics Nation to discuss.

-- Democrats continue to haggle over revotes in Michigan and Florida, while the Supreme Court weighs in on who exactly owns the primary process. Both campaigns talk about the "will of the voters" in primaries, but do those claims actually ring true?

-- A prominent New York Republican announces his retirement, a move that sheds more light on a disappointing landscape for the national GOP. But could a primary challenger in Alaska actually improve the party's fortunes? CongressDaily's Erin McPike talks congressional politics.

-- And what should be made on the first few days of the NCAA tournament? Who's looking especially impressive? A special guest joins Reid Wilson and Josh Kraushaar to dissect what we've seen so far.

All that and more, tomorrow morning on Politics Nation, only on XM Radio's POTUS '08. Listen live, tomorrow at 10 a.m. to noon.

Ex-Rep Indicted For Al Qaeda Ties

A former Republican Congressman from Michigan was indicted today on federal charges for allegedly participating in a terrorist fundraising ring that funneled $130,000 to "an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter." According to the AP, Mark Deli Siljander "was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists." He was reportedly paid $50,000 in stolen money.

A Columbia, Mo., Islamic charity was a centerpiece of the indictment handed down today by a Kansas City grand jury. According to the Kansas City Star, the grand jury also charged the "Islamic American Relief Agency and several of its officers with sending money to Iraq during Saddam Hussein's reign in violation of U.S. sanctions." Siljander, who now runs a public relations firm in D.C. and lives in Northern Virginia, "was hired to lobby Congress to remove the charity from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations suspected of being involved in supporting international terrorism."

Siljander, born in Chicago, began his congressional career in Michigan by winning a 1981 special election to fill the seat of David Stockman. He was reelected to two more terms before losing a reelection bid. In 1987 he began a one-year stint as delegate to the United Nations. In 1992 he ran another unsuccessful campaign for Congress, this time in Virginia's newly-made 11th District.

-- Kyle Trygstad

A Minor Milestone

This post marks the 500th in Politics Nation's short lifespan. Since September 17, it's been our pleasure to keep you up to date on the latest news and notes from races around the country, and we look forward to the next 500 posts. Actually, the way this election season is shaping up, it's likely to be closer to 5,000 before we're finished.

A few ways to keep your finger on the pulse of Politics Nation: Join our Facebook group, now hundreds strong and growing. And sign up for Twitter, which we admit we're just getting used to. You'll get quick one- or two-sentence updates when news breaks, instantly, and be in the know before anyone else.

Again, thank you for making Politics Nation a success. Please come back often, and as always, we're happy to answer any questions. Feel free to email any time with tips, hints, suggestions, corrections and angry rants. Now, for the 501st post...

Il Papa To DC

Meeting in Baltimore today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops heard the exciting news that Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip to the United States next year, the first papal visit since 1999, the Washington Post reports.

Benedict will arrive in Washington in mid-April, visit the White House and hold a Mass at the new baseball stadium under construction just south of the Capitol. Later in the week he will address the United Nations and visit Ground Zero in New York, while celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Yankee Stadium.

The trip is Benedict's eighth since becoming Pope. He's already met President Bush, at a stop at the Vatican earlier this year.

Quote Of The Day

"Quiet! Somewhere a whale is in trouble. I have to go!"

-- Al Gore, making a cameo on NBC's "30 Rock" during the network's Green Week

The Bizarre Case Of Richard Curtis

Washington State Representative Richard Curtis, a conservative Republican who represents an area near the Oregon border, has had a very bad two weeks. Attending a conference of GOP state legislators last week in Spokane, Curtis went to an erotic video store in nearby Medical Lake. There, dressed in women's lingerie and after participating in lewd behavior, Curtis met Cody Castagna, and a short while later the two met at one of Spokane's fanciest hotels to have sex. Curtis later fell asleep, and Castagna, according to court documents, stole his wallet.

Later that morning, Castagna called Curtis and threatened to blackmail him unless Curtis turned over $1000. Curtis then contacted the Washington State Patrol, who in turn contacted the Spokane Police Department. According to Castagna, Curtis offered the man the money in exchange for sex, and later gave him the wallet as collateral.

Newspaper reports in Washington State show Castagna has faced criminal charges in Spokane, near the Idaho border, and King County. He will likely face blackmail charges in the incident, but despite his less than stellar reputation, Curtis, who during his legislative career compiled an extensive anti-gay voting record, is going to have a difficult time explaining his way out of wearing women's lingerie on camera. While it is unlikely that Curtis will face any criminal charges, yesterday he resigned from the legislature, a move House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt praised. Curtis' website has already been removed from the state legislature's server.

The incident is not the first time Spokane has found itself near Republicans who get in trouble for gay sex while publicly speaking out against homosexuality. Former Spokane Mayor Jim West, another conservative Republican who served in the legislature before winning election to the hometown post, allegedly offered internships to young men through a gay website using city resources. West was kicked out of office in a recall election in 2005. And, of course, Spokane is also just minutes from the Idaho border, where Sen. Larry Craig has found himself in trouble over the summer.

For more on the case, Spokane TV station KXLY has a round-up of the case as it was developing, while the Seattle Times' David Postman wrote his thoughts yesterday.

Disclosure Rules Ranked

A new report by the Campaign Disclosure Project shows some states are doing more than others to make campaign finance reports available to the public. Still, the report concludes, more states have work to do in making information available to the public. In all, 21 states improved their public disclosure systems since the last report, in 2005, while 14 states earned what the group called a failing grade.

Pacific coast states sweep the top three places, with Washington coming in first and California and Oregon trailing. In the Evergreen State, campaigns have to file disclosure reports on donors giving more than $25, with more detailed reports coming at the $100 donation level. Independent expenditures made within three weeks of an election must be reported within 24 hours, and all filings are electronic, unless a candidate spends less than $10,000. Software comes free, courtesy of the state's Public Disclosure Commission.

The report also investigated the accessibility of each state's information, and as a Washingtonian, Politics Nation can verify that Washington's system is less than perfect. Still, the state gets kudos for coming out on top for the fourth consecutive time.

The organization gave Washington an A-, the top grade this year. But more than a dozen states earned "F" grades for lack of thorough reporting requirements, inaccessibility of data and other problems. A state with weak reporting rules makes opposition and media research hard. Several failing states, including New Mexico, Delaware, Nevada and Montana, will feature hot gubernatorial or legislative elections in coming years.

Wyoming, though, earns the dubious distinction of dead last. Occupation, employer and cumulative contributions are not required, while the state doesn't require last-minute contributions to be filed until after Election Day. Expenditures, as well, can wait until after an election to be filed. Wyoming is also one of two states that posts none of its disclosure data online.

The group concluded that state-level disclosure is, in general, improving, with the most improvements coming in technological and online advances. Since 2005, five states have enacted online filing requirements, and five states added online, searchable databases of contributions or expenditures.

Find out how your state's disclosure rules stack up here.

Friday Funnies

A hotel in Brattleboro, Vermont, where Rep. Tom Tancredo stayed during a recent visit to neighboring New Hampshire, was raided recently by law enforcement officials looking for, what else, illegal immigrants. Tancredo told the Rocky Mountain News' M.E. Sprengelmeyer that he was surprised to hear about the raid, which also netted owner Gurdeep Nagra, a Canadian citizen.

The raids, at a Hampton Inn and a Quality Inn, netted a total of 14 workers whose immigration status was questioned. Seriously, coming so soon after a Tancredo visit? Sure, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation reportedly began about a year ago, but sometimes there are just too many coincidences.

Also today, another example of an increasingly important lesson for Democrats: Do not irritate the Netroots. They have a long memory. Rep. Brian Baird, the Washington State Democrat who traveled to Iraq recently and came back saying he believed the surge was working, has been on the receiving end of some rough talk from lefty bloggers.

Now Baird is looking for a new communications director. Open Left's headline: "Want to Become a Rightwing [sic] Cable Booker?" Baird is a relatively liberal member of the Washington State delegation, though being out of step on the war is enough for excommunication.

In Remembrance

Five years ago today, a plane carrying Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and several campaign aides crashed en route to a funeral in Northern Minnesota. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just sent out a statement remembering Wellstone. Read the statement after the jump.

Continue reading "In Remembrance" »

Light Morning

We're on our way to the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit, going on today in Washington. We'll post updates from there.

In the meantime, if you haven't already, join the Politics Nation Facebook group! In just over a week, 200 people have joined up, and you can too. Remember, admitting your addiction to politics is the first step toward recovery. But why would you want to recover from being a political junkie?