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Political Scene

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

VERMONT

Shumlin claims primary victory

MONTPELIER | A high-ranking Vermont state senator had a narrow, 190-vote edge in the five-way contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with all the votes counted, but his two closest rivals had not yet conceded.

With all precincts reporting, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin led Sen. Doug Racine and said he believed he had won. Secretary of State Deborah L. Markowitz appeared to be headed to a close third-place finish, 684 votes behind Shumlin.

The Associated Press has not called the winner because the race is still too close with nearly all the votes counted.

Mr. Racine did not rule out seeking a recount, saying there was room for error in votes being tabulated.

All of the Democrats gathered in Burlington at midday Wednesday for a unity rally.

COLORADO

Poll: GOP split helps Democrats

Democrat John Hickenlooper has a substantial lead in the Colorado governor's race thanks to a third-party candidate who is splitting the Republican vote, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday.

But Democrats enjoy no such luck in Colorado's Senate race, where incumbent Michael Bennet trails Republican challenger Ken Buck by 40 percent to 49 percent, the poll found.

The mixed results ahead of the November election reflect Colorado's status as a hard-fought battleground where neither party holds a clear advantage.

Former Republican Tom Tancredo appears to be playing a spoiler's role in the race for governor, as he is attracting voters who otherwise would support the Republican candidate, Dan Maes, the poll found.

Some 41 percent of likely Colorado voters said they would vote for Mr. Hickenlooper, the current mayor of Denver, the survey found. Some 33 percent said they would support Mr. Maes, and 16 percent said they planned to support Mr. Tancredo, who left the party to run as a candidate for the little-known American Constitution Party.

Without Mr. Tancredo in the race, Mr. Maes and Mr. Hickenlooper would be tied at 45 percent each, according to the poll of likely voters.

IOWA

Woman convicted over Obama records

DAVENPORT | A federal jury has convicted an Iowa woman of illegally accessing President Obama's student loan records.

Jurors on Wednesday found Sandra Teague guilty of exceeding authorized computer access.

Teague was one of nine people indicted on charges of accessing Mr. Obama's student loan records while they were employed at Vangent Inc. in Coralville, Iowa.

Teague and the other former employees were accused of accessing a computer at the company's office between July 2007 and March 2009 and viewing Mr. Obama's records.

Teague claimed someone stole her identification and password to access Mr. Obama'a information.

Seven of the nine defendants have pleaded guilty or are scheduled to do so. One other case remains set for trial.

OHIO

Ex-congressman gets ballot chance

WARREN | A convicted former congressman from Ohio has won more time to prove he collected enough petition signatures to run for Congress Nov. 2 as an independent.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner broke a Trumbull County Elections Board tie Wednesday, giving James Traficant a chance to prove that he collected enough signatures. Mrs. Brunner stepped in after the board deadlocked on whether to disqualify Mr. Traficant from the ballot earlier this month.

Mrs. Brunner, a Democrat, plans to order election boards in Akron and Youngstown to cooperate in setting the stage for determining if Mr. Traficant has enough signatures.

Former Traficant aide Linda Kovachik says his backers welcome the chance to correct errors in judging the validity of petitions.

Mr. Traficant represented the Youngstown area as a Democrat for nearly two decades before being convicted of corruption in 2002.

NHTSA

Government estimates millions drive drunk

An estimated 17 million people have driven while drunk at least once on U.S. streets and highways in the course of a year, according to a government study released Wednesday.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey conducted in late 2008 found that 20 percent of those 16 and older reported driving within two hours of drinking alcohol.

Based on the survey results, NHTSA estimates that 8 percent of all drivers, or 17.2 million people, have driven at least once over the course of a year even though they thought they were drunk.

Additionally, 8 percent said they got a ride from a driver they thought was drunk. This was a particular problem for men between 21 and 24 years old. In this age group, 24 percent reported riding with a driver they thought had consumed too much alcohol.

On the positive side, the message about the dangers of drunken driving is widespread, with 81 percent of those surveyed seeing it as a serious public safety threat.

"We have got to do more, as a country, to close the gap between believing that drunk driving is a threat and actively doing something about it," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama's rental sold for $6.9M

HONOLULU | The beachfront Hawaii home rented by President Barack Obama and his family during their last two Christmas vacations has been sold for $6.9 million.

The five bedroom, single-story, 4,900-square-foot Kailua estate was sold to Paradise Point Estates LLC, a company managed by Glenn Weinberg of Owings Mills, Md.

Century 21 Kailua Beach Realty listing agent Joel Cavasso says the new owners hope Mr. Obama will continue to visit the property.

Mr. Cavasso says the buyers have never met Mr. Obama, but his interest in the property may have piqued theirs. Mr. Weinberg and his wife have contributed at least $73,000 to mostly Democratic politicians over the last decade.

The property was listed for $7.95 million, but it sold for about $1 million less.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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