Political tidbits: Coleman’s dinner partner, possible jobs for Ross and Kurtzer

  • The U.S. Senate race in Florida is wide open now that Jeb Bush has decided not to run. The Miami Herald is one of many publication that report two Jewish Democrats, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein and state Sen. Dan Gelber, could throw their hats into the ring. The Palm Beach Post reported over the weekend, before Bush’s decision, that Klein, starting his second term on Capitol Hill, "hasn’t appeared eager, but hasn’t rejected the idea" of running for the Senate. That same Palm Beach Post article notes that Jewish Republican and Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, whose name has been floated as a possible Republican candidate for the Senate, has another option:

Term-limited in 2010, he’ll be pressed to decide early this year whether he wants to make a run for Klein’s congressional seat.

  • Who did Norm Coleman have dinner with Monday night, the day Al Franken declared victory in Minnesota? He had a steak at the Capital Grille in D.C. with Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks, reports the Washington Post:

Reached by phone, Brooks tells the Sleuth that Coleman was in "very good spirits" last night despite the "surreal" recount that has thrown the senator’s future into the twilight zone. Brooks says Coleman feels "nobody can take any confidence in the results so far," what with hundreds of absentee ballots not counted, the inclusion of allegedly double counted votes and "so much ambiguity."

"Now it’s up to the courts," says Coleman’s buddy.

  • Coleman announced yesterday that he would take the election to court, which could delay the certification of a winner for a couple more months. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the details on the suit:

Coleman’s lawsuit says the Canvassing Board’s rulings on ballot challenges were inconsistent, and that ballots were both improperly rejected and wrongly counted by local elections officials and the secretary of state to the advantage of Franken.

After Coleman’s announcement, his recount lawyers Tony Trimble and Fritz Knaak released a 33-page summary of documents filed in Ramsey County Court.

The file includes dozens of copies of envelopes for rejected absentee ballots that the campaign says should have been accepted. Some went unopened even though they were marked "accepted," others were delivered to the wrong precinct, and still others were rejected over other clerical errors.

  • Foreign Policy has some information on possible positions for Dan Kurtzer and Dennis Ross, among others, in the Obama administration:

Two names have emerged as leading contenders to be assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs: Daniel Kurtzer, an Obama campaign Middle East advisor and former Clinton-era U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, and Beth Jones, a former State Department official who is currently with APCO, the communications firm. (Former A/S NEA David Welch retired last month and joined Bechtel).

But working out the staffing for senior State Department positions on the greater Middle East is being complicated by the fact that several heavyweight figures are being considered for appointments as special envoys. Among them, Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is said by several sources to be in negotiations to be the special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, reporting directly to Secretary Clinton; former U.S. Mideast peace envoy Dennis Ross is said to be in negotiations for a possible role as U.S. special envoy on Iran, plus possibly a more expansive portfolio. Special envoys are also being considered for the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Iraq, and North Korea.

  • The Israel Policy Forum lays out its proposal for Obama’s first 100 days dealing with the Middle East, beginning with the crisis in Gaza:

The Obama administration should lead an international effort to arrange a two-phase process: an immediate ceasefire, followed by a longer term armistice. Thus, if a ceasefire has not been established by the time Obama takes office, his team should work assiduously, through intermediaries, to establish a viable ceasefire. This effort should include moderate Arab states pressing Hamas to stop firing missiles and mortars at Israel.

More important, we urge the new administration to arrange, also through intermediaries, a long-term armistice (at least ten years) in which there will be absolutely no attacks on Israel of any kind and the end to the smuggling of weapons by Hamas, in exchange for the lifting of the blockade by Israel in a way that will not recognize Hamas as the legitimate authority in Gaza. This would be an important early achievement.

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