The Live Fix: Chris CillOOza on politically-themed Halloween costumes, NY-23, the third party, N.J. and Va. governor's races, more Raj Goyle

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 11:00 AM

Every Friday, The Fix goes live, as Chris Cillizza discusses the latest news about Congress, the Obama administration, upcoming elections and all the latest political news.

A transcript follows.

____________________ We'll be starting a little late today folks, around 11:15 am. Sorry for the delay.


Chris Cillizza: Good morning everyone!

Sorry for the late arrival. I was doing "Diane Rehm" on NPR! (Self promotion alert!!!)

Other alternative "why I am late" explanations:

I was talking to the president

I was starring in my own tv show

I had to finish a rap for Jay Z

Anywho, I am here now.

And here is a Starbucks in tenleytown.

My trusted sidekicks? A grande caramel macchiato and a blueberry oat bar.

Let's do this thing.


Native New Jerseyan: Thanks for the kind words the other week. When you're from NJ, the best thing is to own it, rather than run away from it.

You are all over the dial, Oh Great Fix!! So can you predict what will happen with the health care bill? Why can't we just get something simple that the GOP won't pick apart?

Chris CillOOza? What is Frank Sesno smoking? I like that even better than Diane's Cizzilla! HAH! (insert Chris Matthews voice here)

Chris Cillizza: Frank did go with the lesser known "CillOOza" pronunciation rather than the "Cillizzah" alternative. I answer to both ;)

As for health care, it seems to me that the White House and congressional Democrats have made the decision to "go it alone" on the legislation.

The gambits by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi this week -- touting plans that include a sort-of public option -- likely mean that no Republicans will back the final bill.

But, can they keep the likes of Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson in line?


Seattle: What is your Politically-themed Halloween Costume this year? I'm thinking either a crazy town meeting attendee or Gov. Sanford's soulmate "Appalachian Trail".

Chris Cillizza: Oh. My. Gosh.

Both of these are ABSOLUTELY awesome.

Other politically- themed costume suggestions welcome.

And, for those of you who are wondering, Charlie Fix (aka Fix Jr aka the 51st president of the United States) will be going as a pumpkin.

I know he is my son and I am biased but he may be the cutest pumpkin of all time.


Bremerton, Wash.: What's going on in NY's North Country? And can any of the congressional candidates play Hockey?

Chris Cillizza: By hockey, I assume you mean field hockey since it is the second most played game in the world (behind soccer/football).

As for NY-23 where a special election to fill John McHugh's (R) seat is coming up on Tuesday, the Conservative Party candidate -- Doug Hoffman -- is running neck and neck with the Democratic nominee, Bill Owens.

The Republican, a state Assemblywoman named Dede Scozzafava has totally collapsed and may not break 20 percent on Tuesday.

Hoffman's rise is a fascinating story as it shows a) the unrest in the Republican base to the party establishment and b) the level of discontent among independents with both national parties.

I wrote on this in the Morning Fix. The lovely and talented Fix Live chat producer Andrea Caumont....can you link to that post?


Fairfax: I normally poo-poo third-party talk -- third parties seem to be the dog that barks all the time, but bites once every fifteen years. Usually what you see are one-of-a-kind cults of personality like Mike Bloomberg. But NY 23 and Chris Daggett have me thinking about whether 2010 will bring more independent candidacies. (I really don't see a sustainable third party, or even what one would stand for, in the near future). Are there any races where an independent could play a role? Any plausible Independent candidates for president?

Chris Cillizza: Fairfax! My home county. What up Falls Church!!!

(Ok, that is lame. But I never pretended that I was/am cool.)

To add to the Hoffman/Daggett talk, chew on this. Fifty percent of the American public favored the creation of a third party in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Now, the realities of creating a viable third party make such a move difficult without some sort of self-funder ala Ross Perot or Micahe Bloomberg.

But, the unrest toward the two major parties means that 2010 will almost certainly be a major ant-incumbent election.


San Diego: So on the "Friday Lines" section of The Fix, I see you list races by party, either Republican or Democrat.

Come on, Chris. You know that using the term "Democrat party" is a subtle way that Republicans try to devalue their rivals. You do know that it is named the DemocratIC party, right? Would you please change the reference on The Fix so that it reflects reality?

Chris Cillizza: Um, I really think you are reading too much into this.

Also, I see that you wrote from San Diego -- a strong home to military in this country.

So, by criticizing me, are you suggesting I am anti-military?



Politics chat: Can we have somebody else do a politics chat on Fri besides or in addition to you? I fail to see what insights you provide into the process that the rest of the WaPo political team does not - and they take the whole process a bit more seriously. Health care reform may be a laughing matter for you and Milbank, but some of us actually care about what the legislation is and what the odds of it passing are. Sounds like you should tune in to Ezra Klein's chat on Thursdays. Here is yesterday's.

Chris Cillizza: THANKS!

Man, it's great to know there are people out there who like what I do.

As I have said on MANY occasions in the Fix, reading the blog or following the chat is (surprise!) not mandatory.

Though, we are working on making it so. Stay tuned.

_______________________ Send us your Halloween costume photos!


Alexandria, Va.: I realize Deeds is not a very good candidate - but how could so many VA voters who voted for Obama, Warner, and Kaine, be so willing to hand over the keys to the governors mansion to a hard-right Falwell protégé? The mind boggles.

Chris Cillizza: This question made me think of "boggle" which is one of the greatest games of all time....

Back on topic, I think that Virginia's natural tendency is to keep power balanced between the state and federal government -- it's the reason that the last time the President's party won an governor's race in Virginia was in the late 70s.

I also think McDonnell has done a very god job of downplaying his social conservatism and focusing almost exclusively on his plans to create jobs in the state.

Deeds' messaging has been far less consistent. The only thing most voters probably know about Creigh Deeds at this point is that he sounded pretty awkward on taxes at a press conference in mid-September.

Most people I talk to believe a rout is coming in Virginia with McDonnell winning by double digits and Republicans sweeping the Lt. Gov. and Attorney General races as well as perhaps picking up seats in the House of Delegates.


Washington, DC: What is the problem with Creigh Deeds and his inability to attract more independents? Is it that he's not clear in what he's planning for Virginia?

Chris Cillizza: Yes.

His message is just nonexistent. People have no idea what he would do if he was elected governor.

I also think Deeds uneasy embrace of President Obama -- he first ran from the president only to ultimately run with him -- hasn't served his purposes well.

Deeds is underperforming with two groups -- northern Virginia voters and African Americans -- that a full embrace of Obama from the start would have almost certainly helped with.


Chris Cillizza: Musical interlude: "Love Vigilantes" by Iron and Wine aka Sam Beam.

Awesome New Order cover:


Best race to watch next Tuesday night: The New Jersey governor's race. Is it really possible that the support for Daggett, the third party candidate, will stay at about 14-15%? What's the past history in situations like that? Do his voters change their mind when they go to the voting booth, realize they'd be throwing away their vote and go for Corzine or Christie? And who would they choose?

I don't see how it's possible to accurately forecast this race.

Chris Cillizza: Could not agree more.

This race is why I find politics so fascinating.

Gov. Jon Corzine (D) appeared dead in the water as recently as this summer but has used an all-out assault on Christie to claw back.

Interestingly though, Corzine has gained very little support during his "comeback" but has benefited anyway as the negative campaign has driven voters to the little known independent Daggett.

Daggett holds the fate of the election in his hands. If he gets 15 percent or higher, Corzine will almost certainly win. If he fades into low double digits or below, Christie is going to be the governor.

This is a race for the ages.


Cleveland Park, Washington, DC: re: politically-themed costumes

Go as a tea bag.

Chris Cillizza: HEYOOO!


Cizzilla: Didn't Cizzilla level Tokyo?

Chris Cillizza: Yes, yes I did.

And made it back to appear on Diane Rehm.

(Did I mention I did Diane Rehm's show this morning. Also that my library contains many leather bound books?)


Iowa: I think it's been demonstrated in the past that, to put it succinctly, fat politicians don't usually succeed in competitive elections so why does Chris Christie keep bringing up his weight?

Chris Cillizza: As a rule, I answer all questions from Iowa due to the incredible hospitality people in the state show me (and every other political reporter on earth) every four years.

I don't think Christie keeps bringing up his weight. The quote in the Morning Fix ("Man up and call me fat") came from an interview Christie did with Don Imus on Thursday.

That said, his weight IS an issue in the campaign. We have said it before and we will say it again: Voters like to vote for attractive candidates. It is a fact.


San Francisco: I think Mr. "Politics Chat" is either deliberately trying to punk you, or is a couple of fries short of a happy meal.

Chris Cillizza: PUNKED.

Is this Ashton Kutcher? Oh so got me...I thought there was someone out there who really didn't like the chat...I mean I couldn't believe it....but I thought it might be true....


uconn huskies fan: OK Mr. "I know stuff about political races" - tell me, what are the odds that a) Dodd gets dumped next year? and b) Lamont or CT AG Blumenthal decides to run against Lieberman? Please tell me yes on the latter, because I want Joe the Bummer out ASAP.

Chris Cillizza: Admitting to be a UCONN fan. Impressive.

When you say "dumped" I am assuming you mean what are the odds that Dodd loses. I would say the answer to that is probably 50-50. But, before we get to the general election, there is a fascinating primary fight going on with World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon spending her way into viability against former Rep. Rob Simmons.

As for Lamont, I think there is a real chance he does challenge Lieberman in 2012. Lieberman won't make the mistake he made in 2006, however, and try to run and win the Democratic primary. That is now virtually impossible for him to do.

And Blumenthal has his eye on the governors mansion. I have heard from multiple sources that Gov. Jodi Rell (R) won't run again in 2010 and, if she does retire, Blumenthal would be a heavy favorite to replace her.

Also, Hoya Saxa.


Halloween costume?: Can you just recycle your Mouthpiece Theater costume? Or is the brocade smoking jacket the property of The Washington Post now?

Chris Cillizza: That costume has been destroyed. Milbank's has been donated to the Smithsonian.


Hampton, N.J.: Well, I can't agree entirely with your critic a few posts back. I think you DO add quite a bit. However, I agree it's annoying to have to wade through lattes, Springsteen, field hockey, hometowns, cute pumpkins, etc. before getting to those insights.

Chris Cillizza: Interestingly, Springsteen did a song about hometowns. Analysis!


Evanston, Ill.: Do you ever visit the beautiful Midwest? Try it!

What scares me about the NY 23 situation is that the independent seems ultra-conservative. Is the anti-incumbent, anti-government backlash really a growing conservative movement -- and one comprised of the "town-hall" conservative vs. the cerebral "David Brooks" type??

Chris Cillizza: Mrs. Fix calls the Midwest -- specially St. Louis -- home. So I have much love for the Midwest.

As for NY-23, I do think it exposes the rift between establishment types (represented by former Gov. Mitt Romney and others) and movement conservative types (represented by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin).

This split is a residual from the 2008 (and 2006) elections when many Republican activists believed the party was defeated so soundly because it walked away from the core conservative principles that got it into the majority in the first place.

The conservative base is now VERY fired up although they seem to be as angry at their own party leaders as they are at the President and the Democratic congress.

The challenge for Republican strategists between now and next November is to bring that energy and anger into the framework of the party and get it to work for them and their candidates without letting the extreme elements of the conservative movement turn off independent and moderate voters.


15th and NY NW: Raj Goyle should host a dueling political chat with you on Fridays.

Chris Cillizza: And the obligatory Raj Goyle mention has been made.

Much appreciated.


DEM-Oh-CRAT Party : Unwittingly or not, you're carrying water for the Right, booby. The term goes back at least to Joe McCarthy, who used it because the hard "CRAT" at the end sounds like Plutocrat, or Bureaucrat, and also sounds vaguely socialist or communist. This is a cousin of the tactic used to demonize the word "liberal" - both Nixon and Kennedy claimed to be liberals in 1960- 30 years later, the right and the people who bankrolled them succeeded in making the word political poison, in spite of the fact that most voters continue to hold liberal positions, even the tea party nitwits who want the federal government to keep its hands off their social security and medicare.

So keep it up- the GOP needs your help.

Chris Cillizza: "Booby"!


Iowa: I guess my point was that Christie could have just brushed off any questions from Imus or the dozens of other reporters who have asked him about his weight. Instead he decided to answer with "man up and say I'm fat"?!?!?!

Chris Cillizza: Agree that it was not Christie's finest hour. The danger for politicians of doing Imus or Colbert (or others) is that you play along too much with their jokes and sound non-serious.


CT politics: Ummm I'm no politico, but I have not heard that Rell plans on retiring at all (and I'm a CT resident who follows the political scene very closely). Nor have I heard that Blumenthal will challenge her - he could have challenged her or Rowland several times and has passed. Don't get me wrong, I'd love it if he did but I'd prefer him to run for the Senate.

Chris Cillizza: Blumenthal won't challenge her. He will only run if she retires.

And, I trust my sources. I think Rell is at best a 50-50 proposition on running again.


"Voters like to vote for attractive candidates.": Dude, it's Jersey. Maybe Christie should get a fake-bake, a wife-beater, and some chains.

Chris Cillizza: Oh man! It's a few days before the election and the ugly New Jersey stereotypes are coming out.

For the record, Mrs. Fix's team has played two games in NJ of late -- against Drew and Rowan -- and both of those towns are absolutely beautiful.

Also, I would like to declare my candidacy for the governor of New Jersey. My slogan (in a homage to Homer Simpson): "Can't somebody else do it?"


New York : What has really hurt Christie: his girth, or his ethics issues? He's in a Blue State that always breaks back towards the Dems at the end; isn't it really the bad publicity, not his labonza?

Chris Cillizza: Little of both although ethics have been more problematic.

If Christie could have kept the focus on Corzine throughout the race, he would be winning easily right now. Poll after poll shows that voters do not like Corzine, do not think he has done a good job and want to vote for someone else.

Corzine, knowing this, has effectively tried to turn the race into a referendum on Christie -- making the classic the "devil you know" argument.

The net result of that approach has been to drive down Christie's numbers and make Daggett a legitimate player in the race.


Bethesda, Md.: Though it's true that voters tend to prefer attractive candidates, I remember studies that showed that men with beards were at an electoral disadvantage (in modern times, of course, not in the 19th century when everyone had them) because people found them shady on some level. So, you've got Corzine's beard vs. Christie's girth...

(Maybe Corzine should shave.)

Chris Cillizza: Good call. Stu Rothenberg once wrote a terrific column about how men in beards could never get elected to the Senate.

Of course, Corzine broke that streak.


Leesburg, Va.: Fix,

In contrast to the Bitter Betty who was slamming you earlier, can I just blatantly suck up and tell you that you're my favorite politics blog guy on this site?

You're Like the DC Sports Bog of politics, and I hope that's taken as the compliment it was meant as.

Chris Cillizza: Rock on.

As I have said before, my goal in life is to get Bill Simmons aka "The Sports Guy" to refer to me as the homeless man's version of him.


Maybe "booby" = "bubbeh": A Yiddish endearment? Or "granny"? Often "bubehleh," too.

Chris Cillizza: Yeah, I am sure that's what they meant.

Thanks mom.


Fairfax, Va.: I don't know. One of the reasons I come here every Friday is that this is one spot where the host doesn't take himself so seriously, and some laughter is in the room. After Michael Shear and some of those it is refreshing.

Chris Cillizza: 1. Mike Shear is hilarious in person.

2. Mike Shear knows more about Macs than most IT people

3. I think my allies and detractors can agree I don't take myself all that seriously.

Of course, that could just be the caramel macchiato talking.


Mooresville, N.C.: I heard you on the Dianne Rehm show this morning. Is your name really pronounced "Ci-LOOZA"? On an Ugly Politicians note, what about LBJ and Phil Gramm? Or is there some sort of Texas exception to the rule?

Chris Cillizza: See my earlier comment. It's "Cil-liz-ah" but I answer to anything including "hey you", "hey jerko" and "My hero"

LBJ was not an attractive politician. But, he did have a sort of personal charisma -- as demonstrated in Robert Caro's amazing books -- that more than made up for it.

But, is there any doubt that JFK's good looks helped him beat the, well, less attractive Nixon?


Anonymous: Where for art thou, Beau Biden?

Chris Cillizza: Tick, tick, tick...

Look I still think Beau Biden does ultimately run for his father's seat. He was just in Iraq for a year so he probably deserves a little time with his family before jumping back into the political fray.

That said, this race is far from a slam dunk for him. Rep. Mike Castle (R) is well known and well liked in the state and Biden will have to prove that he is more than just a famous last name.

Assuming Biden runs, this will be one of the best Senate races in the country next year.


Bronx, N.Y. : Earliest handicapping question ever: How do you see Lieberman's chances for re-election in 2012? Would he even bother entering a Democratic primary?

Chris Cillizza: See my earlier response.

I just see NO way that Lieberman could win a Democratic primary. And, I assume he and his political people see -- or don't see -- the same thing.


caramel macchiato : And what is that, exactly? For those of us who don't wear tasseled loafers and face paint.

Thanks much. HLB

Chris Cillizza: Face paint? Um. what

Honest answer: I have NO idea what a caramel macchiato is. It's a little coffee and lot of sugar...and some other magic goodness.


New Orleans, La.: Re: Halloween costumes

Last year, we had three little Sarah Palins at the door, complete with suits, buns, glasses, and pageant sashes.

Frankly, I don't think you could get a better crazy teabagger costume than what the woman sitting next to me at the health care forum was actually wearing that day: sweatshirt with the flag Beadazzled across it, a sequined bowler in red, white, and blue, red slacks, and flag earrings.

Chris Cillizza: It's hard to top a red, white and blue sequined bowler for any holiday.


Hoffman's rise is a fascinating story as it shows a) the unrest in the Republican base to the party establishment and b) the level of discontent among independents with both national parties. : I buy the first part but not the second. It's a Republican district, for one thing. It looks like Hoffman and the actual GOP candidate are splitting the party faithful. But is there any sign in polling data that true independents are going for Hoffman?

Chris Cillizza: Obama carried the district in 2008.

I know that the seat has elected Republican members of Congress since time immemoriam but it's not fair to dismiss it as a "Republican district".

And, yes, if you look at the Kos poll released yesterday, it showed Hoffman winning 50+ plus percent of self-identified independents -- a total far higher than the 32 percent he took with the overall electorate.

I would say that either party ignores a Hoffman win (or even his rapid rise) at their own peril.


Did you read..: Too Big To Fail?

Just finished it. What a hoot. And now.. Congress is going to re-empower those same EGOS!

Perhaps his next tome will be entitled: Too Stupid To Know Better.

I can't wait for it.

Chris Cillizza: In terms of nicknames, I would also settle for "the less good looking, less smart, less wealthy Andrew Ross Sorkin".

That has a little bit of a ring to it, no?


Grammar Police: Oh, please. 'Democrat' is the noun and 'Democratic' is the adjective. Neither is offensive. It just so happens that 'Republican' can be used as either a noun or an adjective. That's all there is to it.

Chris Cillizza: There is a "grammar police". Uh oh.


Hackensack, NJ: I think the previous chatter was calling you a clown, re: the face paint.

You've mentioned that Bill Simmons is your ideal target a few times now. Instead of the fix, shouldn't you then go by the Politics Guy?

Chris Cillizza: Aha!

I didn't even get how I was being made fun of! I am officially old.

And, Politics Guy is good but too derivative. I kind of like "The Fix". In fact I am pondering changing my name legally to it ala Chad Ochocinco.


"Beau Biden will have to prove that he is more than just a famous last name. ": Why? He's a Democrat with a famous father. That's always been enough up 'til now...

Chris Cillizza: And the knives are out.


To my more liberal brethren that can't fathom a Deeds lose: look at VA - in 2004 it went something like 56%+ for Bush and 52 for Obama. VA didn't swing almost 10% in 5 years but was more a statement that people didn't like Bush.

Second, if a guy can't run a statewide campaign detailing what he wants to do as governor why should the electorate vote him to govern the state?

Third, people are tired of the words and want to see actions - 5 million people have lost their jobs in the last 9 months and most are concerned about the economy and creating jobs over some thesis a guy wrote 20 years ago.


Your independent friend

Chris Cillizza: A good point on Virginia....


HSAs: I've been unsuccessful in getting an answer to this question (and am beginning to think that's because no one knows the answer. lol.) Do you know what the status is of health savings accounts are in the health care bills? Will we be able to keep them? Thanks!

Chris Cillizza: Ah, you wandered into the Fix chat. You must be looking for Ezra Klein...he chatted yesterday.


Washington, DC: With today's Fix pointing out the anti-Party sentiment evident in NY-23 and polling throughout the country, I'm curious why you don't have the Mass governor's race on your line. Patrick is unpopular, and there both Cahill (I) and Baker (R) look to be strong candidates.

For example, this July 2009 poll by UNH for the Boston Globe shows Patrick and Cahill in a dead heat in 3 way match ups and both Baker and Cahill beating Patrick 1 on 1.

Chris Cillizza: I am planning a longer Fix takeout on Mass Gov in the very near future.

Fascinating race...Republicans touting Charlie Baker as the next Mitt Romney...


Washington, DC: I look forward to your Friday chats, because you really do have a friendly, non-snarky, non-smirky personality, which is rare to see these days.

No, am I NOT Mrs. Fix.

Anyway, do you know why the Post never scheduled a live chat with McDonnell, even though it held one with Deeds? I'm trying hard not to jump to pro-Deeds conspiracy theories, but it's hard to not see a bias in how the Post has been treated the two candidates.

Chris Cillizza: I could have told you that you aren't Mrs. Fix....she doesn't think I am friendly ;)

As for the live chat, I am CERTAIN that the Post reached out to McDonnell as well as Deeds. My guess -- and it is only a guess -- is that McDonnell couldn't or didn't find time in his schedule to do the chat


Chris Cillizza: And, that is all!

Thanks as always for joining me for a romp through music, coffee, Halloween costumes, how to say my last name, and, yes, politics.

Make sure to check out the Fix for the Friday Line, which focuses this week on the 10 House races most likely to switch parties.

And, don't forget to evangelize about this chat to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, bandmates, pen pals etc. 11 am every Friday. Live Fix! Catch it!

Have a great weekend.


_______________________ We have a standing invitation for Bob McDonnell to do a chat with Post readers.


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