A lot going on in the political world this week... time to give a little abaum perspective.
First off is the special election in newly minted NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's seat in the state's 20th district. This is a district whose Republican voter registration outnumbers Democrats by some 75,000 voters. In 2006, Gillibrand was the first Democrat to win the seats in many years, and Obama won the district with 54% of the vote. That said, Democratic newcomer Scott Murphy faced an uphill battle against veteran Republican assemblyman John Tedisco. Murphy, with nearly no political experience, has done a valiant effort of coming from behind, and in the final days leading up to today's special election, he took a narrow lead in the polls. This is all the more remarkable when you consider the amount of resources the Republican party has poured into this race over the last several months. The RNC and NRCC have put a lot of time, money and resources into winning this race. If Murphy wins, it will be a remarkable feat, and even if he loses, as he still might, the fact that it was so close still speaks well of the competitive advantage Democrats enjoy overall in this country, even in areas where Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats. Politico has done a nice job breaking down all the ways this race can be interpreted, but the bottom line is that win or lose, this at best is an indicator of great Democratic strength and at worst is a showing of how strong Democrats are even in District's where they are not electorally favored. At this moment, Murphy and Tedisco are separated by only 65 votes, and it may easily come down to the 5900 absentee ballots yet to be counted. We might even see a recount in this tight race. As one blogger said, "This was a remarkably high-turnout special election, and Scott Murphy's performance already is nothing short of amazing in a district where the GOP enjoys a huge registration edge."
Speaking of close elections, a three judge panel has ruled dealt another setback to Norm Coleman's electoral challenge of Al Franken's narrow victory in the Minnesota Senate Race. Some in the GOP are already calling for "WWIII" if Democrats attempt to seat Franken, and Coleman vows to press on with legal challenges. While an Appeal is certain, Coleman's hopes keep getting dimmer, as we slowly get progressively closer to seating this former SNL funnyman as the 59th Democrat in the Senate.
Third, President Obama (its still so great to type that!) set off for his first European tour today, where he will make several important stops, including a critical meeting of the G20 in London and what has been billed as a major speech to the Muslim world in Turkey. Along the way, we'll have the delightful diversion of watching the First Lady wow the world with her charm and stellar fashion sense - the internet was already buzzing today with talk of her outfit transformation entering and exiting Air Force One. Comparisons to the Kennedy's are being called "inevitable" as this young, energetic couple sets out to repair the damage to America's reputation on the World stage.
Finally, here's a hard hitting ad from the DSCC targeting vulnerable Republican senators up in 2012. Arlen Specter, watch out!