Despite spending a record $140 million through the end of September on the race for Governor in California, Republican candidate Meg Whitman is now running behind Democratic rival and former Governor Jerry Brown in most polls according to Sacramento Bee (via Taeggan Goddard). In a new polling memo, Whitman’s own pollster suggests the race is at best tied among likely voters.
First Read: “The race for governor has basically changed in a blink of an eye (in this case a week). For most of this cycle, Republicans have been bullish on Meg Whitman’s chances — due to her personal wealth, her business success at eBay, and her sophisticated (and expensive) campaign team. And she had a slight lead at summer’s end. But in a political environment benefiting almost every Republican, Whitman now finds herself in serious trouble…. The biggest problem for Whitman — beyond her handling of the housekeeper/nanny story — is that she can no longer spend her way out of the hole.”
Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL), the actual real-life, stick-to-his guns progressive is battling it out for his seat in the XX District of Florida (Orlando, Disneyland and environs) against Daniel Webster (not that one), whom Grayson has taken to calling “Taliban Dan” for his positions on social issues. Grayson stood up for the public option, and is unafraid to maintain his positions despite the the pandemic of pre-emptive compromise that has plagued the Obama Administration. By contrast, Webster is so far to the right he’s off the charts. He is a long-time supporter of the religious right, believes in banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest; was a leader in the effort to keep Terri Schaivo on feeding tubes despite her husband’s wishes; is against health reform; is against a pathway to citizenship for long-time illegal immigrants; and doesn’t think God should be separated from politics. In light of this, what is perhaps most unique about Grayson is that even in the face of an onslaught from Webster’s supporters on the ultra-right, he has stood his ground on critical issues. He is pro-choice, pro-health reform, and while he has voted along party lines more than 90 percent of the time, he also has taken on his own party when he feels it necessary.
Mr. Grayson, 52, has tried to define himself here in this swing district that includes Disney World as a freshman congressman who has delivered federal dollars, and a populist hero with the guts to punch back at Republicans. At a time when many Democratic supporters want their party to hit back, hard, he is winding up like a heavyweight. And yet, in part because of his brash approach — which has made him a top target for Republicans — Mr. Grayson has been struggling to control the conversation.
Americans for Prosperity, one of the groups assisting Webster in his campaign, is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, the money behind the Tea Party, oil magnates and funders of ultra-right politicos in many states.The Koch brothers, well-known funders of ultra-conservative causes, have, according to the Times recently spent more than $250,000 on ads that attack him and Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas, an embattled Democrat in a neighboring district, for supporting the economic stimulus plan and “Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda.”
Another group, the 60-Plus Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to AARP, has spent more than $800,000 in the Orlando media market on ads that inaccurately describe the vote for health care overhaul by Mr. Grayson and Ms. Kosmas (among others) as a vote for $500 million in cuts to Medicare.
“It’s not me against Dan Webster,” said Mr. Grayson, in an interview at his pink house here. “It’s me against the insurance companies.”
A late-September poll found Grayson lagging, but still in the race.