POLITICAL INSIDER: Kirk won’t use ‘mob banker’ hit so popular with alliesBy Philip Elliott, AP
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
POLITICAL INSIDER: Kirk ducks ‘mob banker’ hit
CHICAGO — Republican Senate hopeful Mark Kirk’s political allies have no reluctance to call their Democratic opponent a “failed mob banker.” Just don’t expect to hear Kirk himself use the description of Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Kirk repeatedly refused to characterize his opponent with the same language Illinois and Washington GOP operatives employ. Instead, Kirk repeatedly said Giannoulias’ failed family bank lent “tremendous money to convicted felons and mobsters” — a polite way to criticize his opponent without fully embracing the stinging attacks.
Instead, the five-term congressman said the campaign should focus on issues.
EDITOR’S NOTE — An insider’s view of this year’s elections based on reports from around the nation.
But just in case there was doubt about the loans, Kirk brought along a handy sheet that highlighted the Giannoulias family’s Broadway Bank loans to those with suspected links to organized crime.
“I can total it for you if you like,” he offered.
Both Kirk’s and Giannoulias’ campaigns have waged vicious attacks — even by Illinois standards — against each other. Kirk has said the failure of Giannoulias’ family bank should worry voters. And Giannoulias’ allies have savaged Kirk over statements he has made that have been less than complete.
“This state needs higher standards and more honesty,” Kirk said during his interview, even as he ducked questions and offered stock answers. He repeated his past apologies for exaggerating his accomplishments in the U.S. Naval Reserve but would not explain precisely what false claims he made, or why.
Kirk and Giannoulias are battling for the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
Florida Republicans say Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink is to blame for the state pension fund losing $24 billion — a charge that’s deceptive.
The state GOP is spending more than $1 million on the statewide ad that directly blames Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, for the losses. GOP nominee Rick Scott approved the ad.
“You worked your whole life, you saved, it’s your pension — you earned it. But with Alex Sink in charge, Florida’s pension fund has lost $24 billion. That’s not a typo — $24 billion gone,” the ad says, as black-and-white photos of elderly people and Sink are shown.
Sink has one vote on the State Board of Administration, which oversees the pension fund. At the time of the loss, Republicans had the other two votes: Gov. Charlie Crist, who in May changed his voter registration from Republican to no party affiliation, and Attorney General Bill McCollum, who lost the primary to Scott.
Like most investment funds, it lost money when stock markets began plunging in 2007, but it is still considered among the strongest state funds. McCollum and Crist later rejected Sink’s idea of expanding the board to include outside financial experts and creating more oversight.
The board meets twice a month for routine business and quarterly for more detailed business, but it does not handle day-to-day operation of the $114 billion pension fund. The ad was set to begin airing Tuesday for one week.
A poll released Tuesday reaffirmed Republican Tom Corbett’s solid advantage over Democrat Dan Onorato in the Pennsylvania governor’s race.
The Quinnipiac University survey of likely voters showed Corbett with a 15-point lead over Onorato — 54 percent to 39 percent. The totals include voters who had not firmly made up their minds but were leaning toward a candidate.
Because the new poll counted “leaning” voters with those who said they were sure which candidate they supported, only 7 percent of the respondents were counted as undecided, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university’s polling institute.
The poll showed especially strong support for Corbett among independents, who favored him over Onorato by a margin of nearly 2-to-1. Corbett was favored by 65 percent of male voters and Onorato by 52 percent of women.
The Quinnipiac telephone poll of 684 Pennsylvania voters deemed likely to vote was conducted during a five-day period that ended Sunday. The sampling margin error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Republican Tim Pawlenty will be back in New Hampshire next week and is sending financial contributions ahead of his fourth visit to the key presidential state since 2009.
Pawlenty’s political team said Tuesday the Minnesota governor plans to be in New Hampshire on Sept. 30. He is scheduled to campaign for the state’s GOP nominee for governor, John Stephen, as well as a Republican candidate for Congress.
Pawlenty was last in the Granite State in July. But his wife, Mary, was there in August for a GOP rally.
Ahead of the swing, Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC endorsed more than 30 New Hampshire GOP candidates for state, local and federal office. He also dished out thousands of dollars in campaign checks of up to $5,000.
— Declared Republicans now outnumber declared Democrats in New Hampshire, although the largest number of voters remains those who don’t align with either party. Independent voters now number 383,072 in a state that casts its first ballots in the presidential nominating process. Republicans number 270,705 and Democrats 266,908.
— New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo says he hasn’t decided if he will debate Republican Carl Paladino a week after being issued the challenge. In a rare interview, Cuomo on Tuesday told WGDJ-AM of Albany that he still hasn’t determined if his campaign will agree on details to debate Paladino.
— A group advised by former Bush strategist Karl Rove is targeting Senate Democratic nominee Paul Hodes of New Hampshire in a television ad that challenges Hodes’ claim to be against “earmarks” in Washington. The American Crossroads ad, which began Tuesday, quotes a Hodes commercial that says New Hampshire deserves “a senator who’s a real fiscal conservative and who gets rid of the pork.” Hodes is running against Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general.
— Freshman Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts is headlining a Friday fundraiser for Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for Senate. Toomey is in a close race with Democrat Joe Sestak.
Associated Press writers Deanna Bellandi and Christopher Wills in Chicago, Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., Peter Jackson in Harrisburg, Pa., and Norma Love in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.
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