Thursday, May 1

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

The possibility of the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" Christopher Matthews, running against Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, for Mr. Specter's senate seat in Pennsylvania is intensifying. Although Mr. Matthews said to Bill Maher of HBO that he's "not getting involved in it" when asked about whether he would seek the position in 2010, it is odd to employ his television program in a way that would make him a favorable candidate to run for senator of Pennsylvania as a Democrat. Mr. Matthews, who is from the Philadelphia area, broadcasted his show from Philadelphia during the week of the Pennsylvania primary. Political figures that appeared on his national show were the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, and an African-American congressman of Philadelphia, Chaka Fattah. In addition, Mr. Matthews interviewed on "Hardball" the chairmen of the Democratic committees of Allegheny, Montgomery, and Lackawanna counties, James Burn Jr., Marcel Groen, and Harry McGrath, local figures vital to any statewide candidacy. . . Unlike those of the entertainment world, Mr. Matthews would be the rare person attempting to move from the press. He would be a test case for the notion that interrogating, blustering, and posturing on cable television can prepare one for a life of questioning and public speaking on the floor of the Senate. - NY Sun

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader told an audience in Connecticut the U.S. government has been taken over by big business. In a fundraiser at a former bank building in Waterbury, the long-shot independent said "global corporations" were exercising unchecked power and basically running every government department and agency. "Think of that," Nader said. "We've lost our government." He went on to say he could never return to his roots as a consumer advocate since there were no agencies in Washington that would do anything other than what corporate leaders wanted.

Peter Dreier, Huffington Post A few months ago, Sid Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House aide who is now a top advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, circulated a scurulous article, "Obama's Communist Mentor," taken from an extreme right-wing group. It turns out that this was hardly an exception. Blumenthal, who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary Clinton in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, is now exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.

Just hours before the Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries, ABC News has offered to air a 'town hall' meeting with Hillary Clinton -- to be hosted by former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos.. . . It is not clear if ABCNEWS will inform viewers of Stephanopoulos's past employment. Stephanopoulos helped run Mr. Clinton's first presidential election campaign and acted as his press secretary and advisor on policy and strategy before joining ABC News. . . The network hit controversy last month over the decision to allow Bill Clinton's former press secretary to moderate a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- without any disclaimer. - Drudge Report

Al Franken's admission Tuesday night that his corporation had owed $70,000 in back taxes and penalties in 17 states threatens to upend what has been until now a disciplined, on-message campaign against one of the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents. The story of Franken's failure to pay the taxes - on income earned from celebrity appearances and speeches - was front-page news Wednesday in the state's two biggest newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Franken told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the unpaid taxes were a result of his accountant's error, and all of the back taxes "are a repercussion of the same mistake." Franken's corporation also failed to pay $25,000 in worker's compensation insurance to his employees in New York - a potentially glaring vulnerability, given that he's been running as an advocate of middle-class voters.

London will be electing a new mayor using a modified form of instant run off voting. As Rob Richie of Fair Vote explains: London has "limited IRV" -- only two rankings, and the race immediately goes to the top two choices. This year there are 11 candidates, but two clear frontrunners -- so the great majority of voters likely will rank one of them as their first or second choice. Click for an animated explanation