Saturday electoral contests across the country reinforced the idea that the presidential candidates’ nominating process may go on longer than expected, and longer than probably either of the parties would like it to.
Mike Huckabee won the Kansas Republican caucus by a nearly three-to-one margin. He also beat John McCain by a tiny margin in the Louisiana primary, while McCain won the Washington State caucus by only two percentage points. Also, in what seems like an act of overt defiance by conservative activists, Mitt Romney won the most votes in the the Conservative Political Action Convention’s straw poll, even while Newt Gingrich—at the same conference—gave his blessing to all those who disagree with McCain, but want to support him in the name of party unity.
The point is, McCain still looks like the nominee, but as Jonathan Martin writes, this weekend’s events were "Not exactly a ratification."
But the Bush family is doing its best to settle on a nominee now. On Fox News Sunday, the President called McCain "a true conservative," and in Florida, George’s brother Jeb confirmed that he wrote a check in support of McCain. Former Lt. Governor under Bush, and current Governor Rick Perry of Texas, called Huckabee on Friday to ask him to drop out of the race.
Huckabee seems nothing less than emboldened by the weekend’s wins, making the obvious and still somehow profound statement on CNN yesterday, “There’s something going on out there, it’s called an election." He is refusing to cede Washington yet, where a vote count with a narrow margin ended with 87 percent of precincts reporting.
Barack Obama made a clean sweep of the Democratic contests on Saturday, winning caucuses in Nebraska and Washington State, the Lousiana primary, and the contest in the Virgin Islands (which I’ve seen called both a convention and a caucus). In any case, Obama won in overwhelmingly. Results from Maine have yet to come in.
All of that means, according to the Clinton campaign, that Hillary Clinton is now the underdog, and also the only one that can "go toe to toe" with John McCain," as she said yesterday. She also shed her current campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle in favor of Maggie Williams.
In Maine yesterday, Barack Obama, flush with victory, was delivering "unusually spirited" critiques of both Clinton and McCain.
Looking ahead to the next contests, a poll released over the weekend shows Obama with formidable leads over Clinton in both Maryland and Virginia. He earned the endorsement of the Baltimore Sun, as did McCain.
Obama also accepted the endorsement of Representative Jim Moran of Virginia, which may prove controversial for the campaign because of some of Moran’s previous statements about Jews and the Iraq War.
Colin Powell is leaving his options open as to which candidate, and even which party, he will get behind.
Still, neither candidate is assuming there will be a winner by the convention comes around. The New York Times reports that superdelegates are being buried under a "charm offensive" from supporters of both candidates. Clinton appears to be running away with the Catholic vote, which is apparently a good sign for her. She’s also still, at least indirectly, courting the Edwards endorsement.
On the topic of delegates at the convention, the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times editorial board is incredibly unhappy with the D.N.C., and not afraid to say it.
On the Bloomberg ’08 front, Chuck Hagel opened his mouth to reporters, and said he thinks Michael Bloomberg’s opportunity to run for president closed with the rise of McCain. But in the tradition of the Bloomberg guessing game, that happened right around the same time that Doug Schoen went on Inside City Hall and said Bloomberg has a master plan in case he decides to run, which he hasn’t yet.
One of the Gambino guys rounded up last week by the feds gave money to Brooklyn politicians, including Marty Markowitz, Vincent Gentile and Bill de Blasio.
It looks like Jon Corzine’s plan to raise tolls significantly is effectively dead, for now.
David Soares says he has new evidence to present in the probe of Eliot Spitzer’s aides’ use of state police to discredit Joe Bruno.
And State Senator Eric Adams is calling for "social-emotional learning" in city schools.