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Washington Wrap

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Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Smita Kalokhe of The CBS News Political Unit have the latest from the nation's capital.

MoveOn.Blog: Voting is officially underway in the MoveOn.org online "primary." That fact has not been lost on the wannabes - Howard Dean in particular, as well as John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Lieberman - who have been actively recruiting supporters to take part in the vote, which began at 12 a.m. Tuesday and lasts until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. Results will be announced on Friday.

If any candidate receives a majority of the group's 1.4 million members' votes, he or she will be endorsed by MoveOn.org. There's little doubt that having the group behind you would be a good thing: It's been credited with marshalling anti-impeachment forces during the Clinton administration, organizing opposition to the war against Iraq and raising money for left-leaning candidates, including $4.1 million during 2002.

Headlined with a banner reminding visitors that there is only "one more day to go until the MoveOn.org primary." Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has started a "blog" – or online chat room – on his campaign's official Web site. The liberal former Cleveland mayor is the latest Democrat to attempt to harness some of the Internet's grassroots power, best exemplified so far by Howard Dean.

Kucinich's blog is an interesting mixture of campaign news and even personal correspondence from Kucinich on the trail, including a note written last Saturday entitled "Harry Potter challenges the Pentagon," about the candidate's education plan.

The Kucinich blog also links to various unofficial blogs like studentsfordennis, greensfordennis and kucinich2004, as well as official blogs for particular states like California, Iowa and New Hampshire.

In other Kucinich news, one of Washington Wrap's unofficial agents on the ground, USA Today's Walter Shapiro, reports the congressman has begun crooning in the middle of his stump speeches again. This time, in Iowa, Kucinich semi-spontaneously burst into a rendition of "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land," before the Jasper County Democrats.

Some Endorsements Count More Than Others: Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt picked up his fifth union endorsement Monday. According to the AP, Charles Jones, president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, said the union would support Gephardt because of his unwavering commitment to the environment, work rules and free trade.

Because he "has always been there for us," Jones pledged, "The Boilermakers intend to do everything in our power to get our members out and registered to vote for Dick Gephardt."

Although happy with his fifth endorsement, Gephardt still has his eye on bigger fish: the AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization for 65 unions, which will announce in August if it's endorsing anyone.

Also on the endorsement front, Rev. Al Sharpton probably would have been disappointed to find out that half his advertised supporters didn't show up to his endorsement engagement on Monday in New York. That is, if he himself had come. According to the New York Daily News, five of the ten officials scheduled to arrive were no-shows and one politician who did appear was not supporting Sharpton. City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, D-Bronx, came to the event to "be sympathetic to the campaign."

The no-shows included Rep. Ed Townes, Newark Mayor Sharpe James and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.

Crying Foul: Democrats have become increasingly personal in their attacks on President Bush and now the Republican National Committee is refuting Democratic claims that the GOP plays "hardball," while the Democrats play "softball." The RNC has put out a press release listing some of the Democrats' recent attacks.

The evidence: the Democrat National Committee Web site is running a cartoon that portrays President Bush as Dr. Frankenstein and calls him a "madman"; John Edwards' charge that the president is a phony; Al Sharpton calls Mr. Bush a liar; and John Kerry's old line about needing a "regime change in the United States," not just in Iraq.

The RNC promises further updates and notes, "When they go beyond calling the President a madman, a liar and a misogynnist and comparing the Republicans to Nazis, you'll know they're playing hardball."

Obey's Potential "Real World" Opponent: Question: What does a former reality show participant do after his 15 minutes of fame have expired? Answer: Run for Congress, of course.

At least that's what 31-year-old Sean Duffy, a former cast member of MTV's "Real World," may do.

"I am considering it," Duffy said, according to the Associated Press.

Duffy, who currently is the District Attorney in Wisconsin's Ashland County and a Republican, is thinking of challenging 18-term Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc.

This wouldn't be Obey's first time facing a challenge from a celebrity. In past elections, Obey has defeated local TV weatherman Sean Cronin and Kevin Hermening, an ex-Marine who was taken hostage in Iran in 1979.

Aside from Duffy's D.A. job, he's best known as a cast member of 1997's "The Real World Boston." However, he's not convinced his celebrity status will help him much if he decides to run.

"I highly doubt that a guy from reality TV who has no substance would stand a chance against anybody like Dave Obey. … It is part of my past. I have moved beyond that," he said.

While some political observers feel that Duffy is guaranteed some votes against the 64-year-old Obey since there is a solid Republican base in the district, it's important to note that Obey is very well-liked. And it probably doesn't hurt the district that Obey is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, with his hands on the federal government's purse strings.

Seth Boffeli, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, pointed out that Duffy may have a bit of an edge with younger voters because of his former MTV gig, but, overall, "Young and old have a good idea who Congressman Obey is. Certainly, Obey is an institution up there."

Quote of the Day: "Why do I say these things?" – Howard Dean, to a press aide, after saying in his announcement speech that his campaign strategy was "breaking into the country club" of inside-the-Beltway Democrats. The line might have hit a bit close to home, since Dean's son, Paul, was arrested early Friday morning for aiding in a break-in at the Burlington Country Club to steal beer. (Burlington Free Press)