Among the stories slithering through the swamp today…
PALIN PICKS PAUL: Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, the son of Texas Congressman, 2008 presidential candidate and libertarian gadfly Ron Paul who is running for the seat Republican Jim Bunning is vacating in November, picked up an endorsement from Sarah Palin yesterday. Paul’s campaign also announced it had received a substantial contribution from Palin’s PAC. It definitely appears that Palin is building an alliance with the Ron/Rand Paul movement within the GOP, but to what purpose is still unclear.
Rand Paul isn’t considered as much of a “fringe” player as his father. Among the endorsements the surgeon has secured are Dick Armey, Freedom Works, National Tea Party Movement, Concerned Women for America, Gun Owners of America, Steve Forbes and RedState.com. The most recent poll in the Republican primary in Kentucky had Paul ahead of Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the “establishment” candidate, by a 44-25 margin. Rasmussen had Paul with an eight-point advantage over the likely Democrat nominee Jack Conway.
CAO TOP HOUSE FUNDRAISER: Louisiana 2nd District Congressman Joseph Cao was the most active of the state’s Congressional delegation from a fundraising standpoint, picking up over $247,000 in contributions in the fourth quarter as he attempts to hang on to the most improbably Republican seat in Congress this fall. Cao actually spent more than he took in during the quarter, as the Times-Picayune reports he engaged in a large-scale direct-mail campaign he expects to bear fruit in the early part of this year.
Cao’s announced Democrat challengers are state legislators Juan LaFonta and Cedric Richmond, who raised $119,000 and $154,000, respectively. Cao boasts $316,000 in cash on hand at present, while Richmond has $226,000 and LaFonta $65,000.
The state’s other Republican Congressmen are all currently unopposed, and are building sizable war chests. Sixth District Rep. Bill Cassidy is sitting on the largest money pile at $735,000, while Charles Boustany of the 7th District has $399,000 on hand. Steve Scalise has $218,000 in the 1st District, while John Fleming (4th) has $180,000 and Rodney Alexander (5th) has $105,000.
The 3rd District seat, currently held by Charlie Melancon but coming open due to Melancon’s Senate challenge to David Vitter, so far looks like it has a chance to remain in Democrat hands. Ravi Sangisetty, a 28-year old attorney, so far appears to be the only Democrat in the race and he’s raised a tidy sum of $224,000 so far. That outstrips the two announced Republican contenders to date, though Sangisetty announced for the seat back in August and has a head start on New Iberia attorney Jeff Landry, who announced in December and raised $96,000 (Landry has $116,000 in the bank) and state rep. Nickie Monica, who hasn’t begun fundraising yet.
VIRGINIA LEGES SAY YOU DON’T GOTTA: The Virginia state senate yesterday passed a bill declaring that its citizens cannot be forced to purchase health insurance, a direct shot across the bow to the President’s health-care legislation still languishing near death in Congress.
The bill passed by a 23-17 count, with five Democrats voting for it.
3.83 TRILLION, 2.15 MILLION: In the wake of the staggering budget figures announce by the Obama administration yesterday comes news that the federal payroll now contains 2.15 million employees.
Some 1.43 million of those are civilians, meaning the military only contains one-third of the federal work force. The figure does NOT include the U.S. Postal Service.