Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama.

Allen campaign calls race “in play” thanks to internal poll

The Bangor Daily News, my hometown paper, released the results of a poll today for the Maine senate race between Senator Susan Collins and Representative Tom Allen. If you’re not from Maine, you may vaguely know the race started off generating a ton of interest by out-of-state organizations such as MoveOn.org, but it has since been relegated to the lower tiers of watched races, as poll after poll have shown a large lead by Sen. Collins over her challenger, Rep. Allen.

Today’s poll completely supports the entire vibe (and the several other polls) in the race so far, this time with Collins leading Allen by 55-39 in a poll of 675 “likely voters” by the Daily News and local news stations WCSH and WLBZ.

In a textbook attempt to respond to these poll numbers (or actually, not respond to them), Allen spokesperson Carol Andrews told the Bangor Daily News that:

“Reliable polling conducted internally [by the Allen campaign] shows this race to be very much in play and far closer than those margins.”

Of course, no specifics were included with her comment. Possibly because Andrews is mis-representing her campaign’s polling in order to try and de-emphasize the media report. If that’s the case, it’s an unfortunate example of posturing on behalf of Allen’s campaign. If the internal polling is true, why not release the numbers in an effort to try and boost Represenative Allen’s standing in the race?

To try and resolve this question, I reached out to Andrews and the Allen campaign and see if they want to qualify their claims that internal polls show Rep. Allen much closer to Sen. Collins in the race.

In response to Andrews’ claim, here’s the email I sent to the Allen campaign’s press department today:

Dear press dept:

In today’s Bangor Daily News, Allen For Senate campaign spokesperson Carol Andrews stated that “Reliable polling conducted internally shows this race to be very much in play and far closer than those margins.”

Please send me specific results from the poll(s) referenced by Andrews, along with dates and sample. I will be happy to publish this data on my blog so that the people of Maine can see what Andrews is claiming about the race.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best,
Jason

I’ll post an update here if I receive any response.

Allen misses 19 votes in one week for “political activities”

Tom AllenWhile Congressman Tom Allen has been busy chastising fellow Maine lawmakers for how they voted in a post on Maine liberal blog Turn Maine Blue, he has missed 19 votes in Congress over the course of the past week, instead choosing to pursue “political activities”.

According to Allen communications director Mark Sullivan, the Congressman missed the 19 floor votes in the U.S. House on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week because he was “engaged in political activities” that took him away from Washington. When pressed whether “political activities” means that Allen was campaigning for the U.S. Senate instead of voting, Sullivan deferred the question to Allen’s campaign staff.

Allen is challenging Senator Susan Collins for her senate seat. Collins is one of just ten senators who have not missed a vote so far during this congress.

UPDATE: Congressman Allen’s whereabouts for at least part of the week have been discovered. According to a diarist at liberal blog MyDD, Maine’s 1st district representative was in Pacific Palisades, California earlier this week at a fundraising event for his senate campaign:

A couple of evenings ago I took the plunge and blew most of this year’s donation budget to spend an evening a fundraiser for Democratic Congressman and candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Maine currently held by Susan Collins, Tom Allen.

The format of the event was an hour of heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks to allow for mingling and conversation, including the Congressman, followed by a buffet dinner with seating in the back yard of an elegant home in the Pacific Palisades.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Maine Republican Party has picked up on the story, issuing the following press release today:

The U.S. House this week reconvened to consider issues important to our nation such as Terrorism Risk Insurance and affordable housing. But Maine’s 1st Congressional district was lacking something important: representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tom Allen missed an additional 19 votes this week so he could spend more time campaigning, bringing his totalof missed votes to 129. .

Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis said, “We were relieved when Tom Allen returned to work today to learn that he is good health and we welcome him back. But to miss 19 consecutive votes in a row for fundraising and campaigning more than a year before the election is inexcusable. This shows that Congressman Allen cares more about being a candidate than he does about doing his job.”

Chairman Ellis concluded, “The House of Representatives has only had votes on 9 of the last 45 days. Congressman Allen missed three of those days of voting completely. Couldn’t he have scheduled his campaign events for the other 36 days? I think Mainers deserve to know the answer to the question, ‘Where was Tom.'”

Collins launches campaign website

Eager to capitalize on recent negative press surrounding her opponent Tom Allen’s association with far-left activist group MoveOn.org, Senator Susan Collins’ re-election team launched an early version of the campaign’s official website this week.

SusanCollins.com

SusanCollins.com features videos, photo galleries, and blog. On Collins’ site, the freshly launched blog features a post written by the Senator herself regarding her questioning of Army General David Petraeus.

Senator Collins’ campaign site bears some striking differences from that of her opponent, Congressman Tom Allen. While Allen occasionally blogs at DailyKos and Maine-based blog TurnMaineBlue, his site does not have any kind of blog of its own. Another notable difference is that while Allen’s site focuses heavily on his opposition to the war in Iraq (he even devotes a top-level navigation item to the issue, despite having a separate section on his positions) with three front page items on the war, Collins site instead more heavily focuses on her connection to Maine, via a series of rotating images and news items, while just a corner of the front page is devoted to a video detailing her position on Iraq.

Beyond the clam bakes and parade walks over the next year, the online space will be a critically important battleground in this race. This week, the Collins campaign got off to a great start.

Another question from the audience

More from Young’s Restaurant: A woman from Durham states that there should not be an amendment banning gay marriage. Brownback disagrees, eliciting more cheers but some boos from the debate hall. And now we’re off to the first commercial break.

Live from the Republican debate in New Hampshire

Back from a long blog vacation, I’m live from the Republican Presidential debate here in Durham, New Hampshire on the campus of the University of New Hampshire.

With me in the media room two hours before the start of the debate is my friend Lance Dutson of Maine Web Report. We’ll be here all night, first in the media room, then later in the spin room with the candidates, their flacks, and the media.

Lance and I will be doing our best to live blog the event here and at his site. We’ll also be posting photos to my Flickr account and possibly doing some video reports throughout the night. Stay tuned, and thanks for sticking around through my long hiatus.

Right now we’re off to get some of the free food and then interview some of the protesters out front. Back in a few…

Congrats to Lance Dutson- and the Collins campaign

Congratulations to my friend and occasional co-conspirator Lance Dutson, who announced today he’s taking a job as Director of Internet Strategy for Maine Senator Susan Collins’ re-election campaign.

As I can attest but many already know, Lance is razor-sharp and as forward on the curve as anybody I’ve met when it comes to seeing, exploring, and making great things come from the tools of new media. He and I have shared many great conversations about the ways that Maine politicians can better harness these technologies, and I’m happy that he has a chance to put his ideas to the test. I expect great things for the campaign and for the people of Maine.

For the Maine residents who think this inside politics talk a year before the election, please let me share my explanation for why Lance’s hire is much more important than that. With Congressman Tom Allen jump-starting his bid for Senator Collins’ seat, the “netroots”, or the very far left liberal blogosphere for those not familiar, already have their sights set on taking this seat, handing it to Congressman Allen, and putting the Senate further under democratic party control. With netroots attention comes thousands, potentially millions, of dollars of out-of-state money– not to mention opinions– from people across the country, all brought to bare towards the goal of defeating Senator Collins. Since those who watch politics closely already know that the left is doing a superior job marshaling online resources and money in this way via new media channels that we’re frankly behind on in Maine, it’s easy to see how Maine people can potentially be left out of deciding who becomes their next Senator.

If you don’t like those prospects– if you want the race to be about Maine issues, decided primarily by Maine people– then you recognize that a strong new media force to face that of Allen’s out-of-state netroots supporters is not only necessary, but critical. I have the highest hopes that with Lance working for Senator Collins in this capacity, her fortunes- and thus ours as Mainers- have improved greatly.

In significant ways, Fred Thompson video challenges the status quo

Many blogs have already noted Tuesday’s amazingly quick, and quick-witted, video response by Senator Fred Thompson to the re-surfaced Michael Moore’s open letter.

Senator Fred Thompson vs. Michael Moore

Fred Thompson answers Michael Moore.

Blogger Bob Krumm said it best when he argued that Senator Thompson’s response speed could be a powerful factor should he decide to run, particularly compared to lumbering campaign operations like Senator Hillary Clinton’s.

The video, though, is also important from another perspective. Let’s examine Michael Moore’s pathetically predictable modus operandi. He’s got a movie coming out at Cannes in a few weeks. Despite being publicly silent for two years, he breaks into the news last week with a manufactured controversy, which is immediately lapped up by the media. If you think this is a genuine turn of events, you weren’t watching closely enough in 2004, when Moore manufactured a fake controversy just prior to the release of his last film, Fahrenheit 9/11. While there were folks who were watching and responding to Moore (myself included), the mainstream media did the entirely expected: they parroted Moore’s talking points, helping him to a $100 million-plus box office take.

So here’s why Senator Thompson’s video is important. While critics of Moore like myself and many other bloggers are typically viewed by the media as conservative cranks at best, the gravitas that Senator Thompson lends to a critique of Moore simply cannot be ignored, and will only grow more watchable to as the campaign season goes on. Particularly if all his responses- to Moore and other public idiots- are as clever and as devastating as his retort this week.

Others with stature and media oxygen have wisely chosen to ignore Michael Moore, a position I commend and support. At the same time, I am grateful to see somebody taking another approach, and facing Moore head-on. It’s a battle of wits Moore frequently baits people to engage in, if only for his own rewards, and he often chooses poorly. This time, a man who severely outmatches him has chosen to flick him away, in 30 seconds or less, for the world to see and share. I’m looking forward to the next time Moore, or somebody of his ilk, challenges Senator Thompson.