Election 2008

Leadership Changes in the 111th Congress

By Congresspedia assistant editor Avelino Maestas

With Democrats expanding their majorities in the House and Senate during the 2008 congressional elections, members of both parties sought to redefine the leadership structure within their respective caucuses. Some of the shuffling was predictable, while political calculation entered into consideration into other leadership campaigns. In addition, freshman members of the House and Senate were forced to take sides in their first actions in Congress, even though they have not yet taken office.

Much of the publicity centered around the future of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the Democratic caucus, and over Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) bid to replace Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Republicans had their own drama, however, with a challenge to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and a shift in the Senate leadership.

Wiki the Vote - Undecided House and Senate Races

By Congresspedia assistant editor Avelino Maestas

More than a week has passed since Election Day, but there are still five House and three Senate races in play, and the balance of power in Washington hinges on their outcomes. The closest races are currently in Alaska and Minnesota, where two sitting senators are defending their seats against strong challenges. Notably, two of the incumbents in undecided races are under federal investigation (Don Young and William Jefferson) and one (Ted Stevens) is awaiting sentencing on felony corruption charges.

Outstanding Senate races:

In Alaska, Sen. Ted Stevens is trailing Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by less than 1,000 votes, a reversal of fortune since Stevens' early lead before the state began counting about 74,000 absentee and questionable ballots. Only half the ballots have been counted, however, so it's still anyone's race.

That Stevens is even still in the race is a testament to his standing in the Last Frontier. He’s the longest-serving Republican in the Senate and has represented Alaska in Congress since 1968. He’s also a convicted (though not yet sentenced) felon – a federal jury handed down a guilty verdict on seven counts of lying on personal finance disclosure forms just days before the election.

Should Stevens pull out the victory, he could plausibly serve for several more years as his appeal winds through the courts. The Senate could expel him from the body with a 2/3 majority vote, which is not unlikely considering that several of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle have publicly called for his resignation, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It would then fall to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to appoint a temporary replacement until a special election, mandated by state law to occur within 90 days, could be held to fill the remainder of the term.

Does the "O" Logo Mean Openness?

A coalition of open records, good government and research groups submitted "a lengthy to-do list for President-elect Barack Obama and Congress." Their recommendations include overturning the "Ashcroft memo," which made it easier for federal agencies to refuse requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); rescinding Executiv


Change, of a Limited Sort, Comes to K Street

"Washington's $3 billion lobbying industry has begun shedding Republican staffers, snapping up Democratic operatives and entire firms, a shift that started even before Tuesday's ballots were counted," reports the Wall Street Journal.


CIA Contractor Offers to Keep the Peace on Election Day

Evergreen Defense & Security Services (EDSS), an Oregon-based aviation company and military contractor with a history of working for the CIA, recently offered their services on Election Day. EDSS "has recognized the potential conflict that could occur on November 4," firm president Tom Wiggins wrote in an email to Oregon county clerks. "EDSS proposes to post sentries at each voting center ...


Election Protection Wiki: The One-Stop Website for Guarding the Vote

Election Protection Wiki badgeWhat went wrong with voting in last night's U.S. elections, and what went right? The election itself is over except for a few recounts, but the election process is still being scrutinized.

The Election Protection Wiki, online at http://www.EPWiki.org, is the Center for Media and Democracy's non-partisan collaboration of citizens, journalists and researchers, a one-stop-shop for exposing voter suppression and other threats to election integrity. We collect just the straight facts that are fully referenced to external, verifiable sources. You can get directly involved; we need your help!

On Election Protection Wiki you'll find links to sites such as Voter Suppression Wiki and TwitterVoteReport, a non-partisan coalition using real-time text-messaging to reveal what's working, what's not, and what needs to be done at polling places to ensure that everyone's vote is counted. See the full list of Election protection and reform organizations and go to our Election Protection map and click on the state of your choice to find its election protection and reform groups.

Secretary of State Project Gives Dems a Bigger Say in Key Battleground States

Politico.com notes that Democrats have gained "control of secretary of state offices in five key states -- Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio -- where the difference between victory and defeat in the 2004 presidential election was no more than 120,000 votes. ...



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