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Melancon Has Poll That Shows Him With Lead

Former American Sugar Cane League President Charlie Melancon (D) held a single-digit lead over former BellSouth lobbyist Billy Tauzin III (R), according to a poll conducted for Melancon’s campaign.

Melancon took 42 percent to 38 percent for Tauzin in the Anzalone-Liszt Research poll. It was in the field Nov. 7-9, testing 500 likely voters; the survey had a 4.4 percent margin of error.

As importantly, 43 percent of those tested said that Tauzin “does not have the experience to serve in Congress,” according to the polling memo.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a new ad late last week in the district that accuses Tauzin III of being too inexperienced to serve in Congress.

“Thirty-year-old Billy Tauzin can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up,” says the ad’s narrator before pointing out that Tauzin transferred out of the Coast Guard Academy. The ad goes on to take Tauzin to task for insisting he is not a statehouse lobbyist when he filed as one with the Louisiana Ethics Administration.

“Little Billy Tauzin III … he’s just not ready for Congress,” the ad concludes.

The two were the top finishers in the all-party primary on Nov. 2; because neither received 50 percent of the vote they advanced to a Dec. 4 runoff.

Rep. Billy Tauzin II (R) has held the seat easily since winning a special election as a Democrat in 1980, but the southeastern Louisiana district is considered highly competitive between the parties. In the Anzalone poll, 50 percent of the sample identified as Democrats, while just 35 percent called themselves Republicans.
— Chris Cillizza

Governor Backs Mount in 7th District Runoff

State Sen. Willie Mount’s (D) runoff campaign in the 7th district received a boost last week when Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) endorsed her candidacy.

“Willie’s going to charm the socks off all the party bosses in Washington,” said Blanco at an event in Vermillion Parish in the eastern end of the 7th district.

Blanco’s endorsement is not surprising as she and Mount are close friends. Mount was heavily involved in Blanco’s gubernatorial win in 2003.

Mount faces heart surgeon Charles Boustany (R) in a Dec. 4 runoff for the southwestern Louisiana seat, which has been held by Rep. Chris John (D) since 1996.

John lost his bid for the state’s open Senate seat on Nov. 2 when Rep. David Vitter (R) won 51 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Although the district has been held by Democrats for much of the past three decades, Republicans have shown an ability to carry it in statewide contests. Republican Senate candidates won the district in 1996 and 2002.
— C.C.

Poll: Nelson Has Slim Lead in 2006 Trial Run

Sen. Ben Nelson (D) leads Gov. Mike Johanns (R) by just 3 points, according to a new independent poll testing a hypothetical matchup between the two party heavyweights.

Nelson received 41 percent to 38 percent for Johanns in the RKM Research and Communication survey, which was sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald.

The poll was in the field Oct. 15-20, testing 1,007 likely voters with a 2.2 percent margin of error.

Nelson is one of the most vulnerable incumbents up for re-election in 2006 due to the decided Republican tilt of the Cornhusker State. President Bush won Nebraska by 35 points on Nov. 2, his largest margin in any state with a Democratic Senator up for re-election in 2006.

Nelson has shown an ability to run and win despite the state’s Republican lean, however, having served two terms as governor from 1990 to 1998.

After a shocking loss to now-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) in 1996, Nelson bounced back in 2000 by winning the open seat of retiring Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) 51 percent to 49 percent over then-Attorney General Don Stenberg (R).

Johanns, who is term-limited out of the governor’s office in 2006, has long been the state and national Republicans’ preferred candidate to take on Nelson.

The governor has said he will not make a decision on the race until early 2005, but has given indications that he is leaning toward running. He might also choose to wait and run for Hagel’s seat in 2008, if the state’s senior Senator decides to run for president.
— C.C.

Moore’s Son Fingered in Tire-Slashing Incident

Federal investigators are probing an Election Day tire-slashing incident in Milwaukee that left 20 Republican-rented vans and cars with some flat tires. Local authorities have arrested the 25-year-old son of Rep.-elect Gwen Moore (D) in connection with the vandalism.

Moore’s son Sowande Ajumoke Omokunde, who is also known as Supreme Solar Allah, was arrested Nov. 5 and released in connection with the incident, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Several other individuals have been arrested and released, including Democratic Party activist Opel Simmons of Virginia, the paper said.

Federal investigators apparently also want to speak to Michael Pratt, son of former acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt. Both the younger Pratt and Omokunde were being paid by the Wisconsin Democratic Party on Election Day.

Party officials have denied any involvement with the vandalism, the paper reported.

In all, five men have been arrested and released on felony property damage charges that carry a maximum three-and-a-half year sentence and $10,000 fine.

Moore handily defeated attorney Gerald Boyle (R) in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D).
— Nicole Duran

The Nation
Raw Senate Votes Give Losers Bragging Rights

This may come as small comfort for Senate Democrats, but while they were losing four seats on Election Day their candidates collectively won more raw votes than the Republican contenders.

An analysis of the 34 Senate races on Nov. 2 — and the GOP won 19 of them — found that Democrats won 40.3 million raw votes, roughly 3 million more than the Republicans.

That margin was inflated considerably by the fact that three Democrats — Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen.-elect Barack Obama (Ill.) — all won gargantuan victories in large, traditional Democratic strongholds.

The highest Republican raw vote total on Election Day among Senate candidates belonged to former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, 3.6 million. But he still finished 20 percentage points behind Boxer, who totaled almost 5.6 million raw votes. By contrast, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was re-elected despite receiving just less than 120,000 votes.

Meanwhile, the raw House vote totals more closely conformed to the totals in the presidential race, in which President Bush took 59.4 million votes while Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) took 55.9 million.

In the 435 House districts, Republican candidates collectively received 50.7 million votes, while the Democrats got 47.1 million.

Republicans won 231 seats and Democrats won 200. One race in New York hasn’t officially been called, and two runoffs will take place in Louisiana next month.
— Josh Kurtz

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