Can ACORN swing another Senate seat to the Democrats?
As Democrats nationwide try to make the climb to a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate by pursuing recounts, an outspoken ACORN ally presides over the tallying of votes in the still-unresolved Minnesota Senate race.
The fact that Mark Ritchie, a Democrat and former community organizer, largely controls the electoral process in the Land of 10,000 Lakes may be important.
That’s because at press time incumbent Republican Norm Coleman led Democrat Al Franken by just 341 votes and the Democrats controlled 57 seats in the Senate, compared to the Republicans’ 40. The Senate races in Alaska and Georgia also have yet to be resolved, though in both the Republicans are leading and are expected to win in the end.
The Minnesota seat is the only one that Democrats could try to steal. Every seat closer to 60 gives President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers an opportunity to permanently alter America’s political, economic, and cultural landscape.
Both Franken and Obama, by the way, were endorsed by ACORN Votes, ACORN’s federal political action committee.
Minnesota’s secretary of state isn’t a Democrat by happenstance.
Ritchie, who defeated two-term incumbent Republican Mary Kiffmeyer in 2006, received an endorsement and financial assistance for his run from a below-the-radar non-federal “527” group called the Secretary of State Project. The entity can accept unlimited financial contributions and doesn’t have to disclose them publicly until well after the election.
The founders of the Secretary of State Project, which claims to advance “election protection” but only backs Democrats, religiously believe that right-leaning secretaries of state helped the GOP steal the presidential elections in Florida in 2000 (Katherine Harris) and in Ohio in 2004 (Ken Blackwell).
The secretary of state candidates the group endorses sing the same familiar song about electoral integrity issues: Voter fraud is largely a myth, vote suppression is used widely by Republicans, cleansing the dead and fictional characters from voter rolls should be avoided until embarrassing media reports emerge, and anyone who demands that a voter produce photo identification before pulling the lever is a racist, democracy-hating Fascist.
The group was co-founded in July 2006 by James Rucker, formerly director of grassroots mobilization for MoveOn.org Political Action and Moveon.org Civic Action. “Any serious commitment to wrestling control of the country from the Republican Party must include removing their political operatives from deciding who can vote and whose votes will count,” said another co-founder, Becky Bond, to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006.
Its website claims, “A modest political investment in electing clean candidates to critical Secretary of State offices is an efficient way to protect the election.” Indeed. Political observers know that a relatively small amount of money can help swing a little-watched race for a state office few people understand or care about.
The strategic targeting of the SoS Project yielded impressive results this year and in 2006.
Days ago, SoS Project-backed Democrats Linda McCulloch (Montana), Natalie Tennant (West Virginia), Robin Carnahan (Missouri), and Kate Brown (Oregon) won their races. Only Carnahan was an incumbent. The Center for Public Integrity reported two months ago that the group had thus far raised a mere $280,000 for the 2008 election cycle.
Talk about return on investment!
In 2006, along with Minnesota’s Ritchie, SoS Project-endorsed Jennifer Brunner (Ohio), who last month defied federal law by refusing to take steps to verify 200,000 questionable voter registrations, trounced her opponent, 55% to 41%. Democrats supported by the group also won that year in New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa. The group claims it spent about $500,000 in that election cycle.
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