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The Morning Grind / DayAhead

When I'm really good, they call me 'Super Doodle'

From John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

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Sen. Bob "Super Doodle" Graham makes a point in the Albuquerque '04 Dems debate.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- We're blessed with a coast-to-coast embarrassment of political riches this weekend.

There's a San Jose court ruling scheduled today on whether to delay the California recall; a Teamsters' centennial bash set for Saturday featuring visits from Bill and Hillary Clinton and Dick Gephardt; and an SEIU (Service Employees International Union) confab that, when it's over, could yield another Big Labor nod.

And since we couldn't decide which event to focus on, we're going to saunter down the buffet line and grab healthy helpings of each. Hopefully our eyes weren't bigger than your stomachs.

Recalling an earlier ruling

We'll start today in San Jose, California, where a three-judge panel (one Democratic appointee, two Republicans) is to decide whether to postpone the state's recall election based on lawsuits that claim it could disenfranchise minority voters in Monterey County.

The suits were filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, asserting that the county's plan to reduce the number of polling places from 190 to 86 and cut the number of bilingual poll workers present unfair challenges to Latino voters.

But ultimately, we hear, the panel's ruling could be a formality. The Justice Department ruled late Thursday that the county's plan to consolidate polling places will not violate the rights of minority voters. After more than two weeks reviewing election maps, poll locations and poll worker information, Justice approved all but five of the 86 voting sites for the October 7 election.

Post-Labor Day labor

Back in Washington this weekend, labor rules.

On Saturday, James Hoffa will host roughly 4,000 Teamsters at the Washington Hilton and Towers, celebrating his union's 100th birthday. Under the banner "A Strong Legacy, A Powerful Future," Hoffa is expected to welcome Dick Gephardt, his law school classmate and '04 Dem of choice, with a rousing call to arms.

But sources say Hoffa will do more than talk. Aware that Gephardt's political fate hinges on his third-quarter fund-raising report, the Teamsters chief plans to launch an aggressive, and unprecedented, fund-raising drive for Gephardt at the weekend gathering.

The union has never raised money internally for a candidate other than through its PAC. This weekend's effort would be a direct appeal, from Hoffa to members, on Gephardt's behalf.

Sources didn't want to publicly discuss fund-raising goals. But if they come close to private projections, Gephardt should be most grateful.

Earlier in the day, Bill Clinton will address the Teamsters, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. And the senator from New York will speak to the gathering at 4 p.m. EDT.

Service Employees International

But the event we're really looking forward to this weekend is the Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) four-day political conference, which gets underway Sunday, also at the Hilton.

The SEIU has invited 1,500 of their top political organizers to gather to set the union's political agenda for the upcoming campaign. As the session concludes on Wednesday, the union's 60-plus member executive board will convene behind closed doors to talk about an endorsement.

Most of the '04 Dems will drop by the hotel Monday, so we'll save that write-up for our Monday Grind.

'Beyond the Spin'

Fortunately, there's an event Sunday other than hotel check-in and cocktail receptions.

On Sunday, the union plans to release "Beyond the Spin," a series of six-minute films produced by independent filmmakers assigned to profile each of the '04 Dems. The SEIU's hope was to capture each candidate in unscripted settings, doing and saying unscripted things, allowing their members to assess each candidate on a more personal level.

We love this kind of stuff.

The short documentaries include gems like Gephardt expressing his undying love for hot dogs -- "Aren't they the best?" -- and John Kerry agreeing to kick back a tall, cool one with a 20-something filmmaker. "Damn right, I would," Kerry tells his chronicler. "Maybe more than one."

But our personal favorite was a clip of Bob Graham, talking to a child at some sort of parade.

"You know what my grandchildren call me? 'Doodle,'" a grinning Graham confides to the boy, who looks slightly unnerved by the senator's goofy disclosure. "And when I'm really good, they call me 'Super Doodle.'"

And with that, we hope you enjoy your weekend.

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