- - Sunday, March 11, 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he feels confident Democrats will retain control of the Senate this fall, particularly after the recent announcements that Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, would not seek re-election and that Democrat Bob Kerrey would run in Nebraska.

Mr. Reid told CNN’s “State of the Union” that his conversations with Mr. Kerrey concerning a possible run extended over several months. Mr. Reid said he didn’t make any promises to get Mr. Kerrey to run, including committee assignments.

Mr. Reid also said he was OK with the decision by President Obama’s campaign team not to help finance Democratic congressional campaigns.

COLORADO

Liberal super PACs, 527 money bury GOP in state races

DENVER — Colorado Republicans wondering why Democrats have dominated state politics despite the GOP’s voter-registration edge got their answer yesterday.

An investigation by the Denver Post revealed that liberal super PACs spent nearly 150 times more than their conservative counterparts on state races in the 2010 election cycle. At the same time, liberal 527 committees spent $9.1 million, more than twice the $4.1 million spent by conservative 527 committees.

The enormous spending differential helps explain why Colorado Democrats retained the state Senate and the governorship, and lost the state House by only one seat, in an election year that was overwhelmingly favorable to the Republicans and in a state with 37 percent Republicans and 32 percent Democrats.

Republicans did capture the other constitutional offices of attorney general, state treasurer and secretary of state.

Democrats are still benefiting from the so-called Colorado Model, the 2004 strategy of coordinating independent political fundraising, advocacy groups and media, aided by the deep pockets of rich liberal activists. Colorado multimillionaires Tim Gill and Pat Stryker, part of the original Gang of Four that helped develop the Colorado Model, continued to fund state races in 2010.

The investigation was made possible by a 2010 Colorado law that requires all independent expenditure committees to disclose their donors and disbursements.

MONTANA

International mystery man decides on governor bid

HELENA — Neil Livingstone has spent decades in the District as a counterterrorism expert, describing big paydays and deals with dictators that could be just any old day at the office.

Now he says he wants to leave all that behind to become Montana’s governor, where chairing the state land board and congratulating state football champions could count as exciting.

Libyan documents leaked last year stated that Mr. Livingstone was among a group seeking a multimillion dollar payday to help Moammar Gadhafi find a safe haven. Mr. Livingstone says it was part of an effort to save lives by ending the civil strife.

Former associates say Mr. Livingstone’s latest consulting firm called Executive Action, launched in 2007, was forced to close as business dried up.

Mr. Livingstone argues unwinding the company was a “conscious decision.”

SENATE

Murkowski regrets voting with GOP on birth control

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she saw it coming, even before the public scolding last weekend at Alaska’s Iditarod dog-sled race.

Siding with Republican leaders on a contentious contraceptives vote was a mistake, she said.

Ms. Murkowski voted in favor of an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt to overturn President Obama’s order that health insurance cover the cost of contraceptives even if providers object on religious grounds. She was backpedaling within days.

One woman in the Iditarod crowd yelled at the senator. Another was more civil, but made the same point: Ms. Murkowski ticked off a lot of women with that vote.

“With her vote, Murkowski showed her true colors and put her party’s anti-female agenda ahead of the Alaska women she is supposed to represent,” Fairbanks resident Michelle Cason wrote to the editor of the city’s Daily News-Miner.

Before the weekend was out, Ms. Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News that she regretted her vote.

“I knew going into it that there was conflict there,” Ms. Murkowski said in a telephone interview this past week. When she got home to Alaska, she knew. “I think I made a mistake.”

• From wire dispatches and staff reports