November 1, 2009

Rival to Karzai Said to Be Ending Afghan Campaign




By DEXTER FILKINS and ALISSA J. RUBIN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Abdullah Abdullah, the chief rival to President Hamid Karzai, plans to announce on Sunday his decision to withdraw from the Nov. 7 Afghan runoff election, handing a new five-year term to Mr. Karzai but potentially damaging the government’s credibility, according to Western diplomats here and people close to Mr. Abdullah.

American and other Western diplomats said they were worried that a defiant statement by Mr. Abdullah could lead to violence and undermine Mr. Karzai’s legitimacy, and they were urging him to bow out gracefully. Obama administration officials have scrambled for weeks to end the deadlock, trying to ensure a smooth government transition as President Obama weighs whether to increase the American military presence in Afghanistan.

People close to Mr. Abdullah said that his representative met with Mr. Karzai on Saturday but that they were unable to make any progress on the issue that has brought the two campaigns to loggerheads: Mr. Abdullah’s demands that the Afghan election system be overhauled to head off more fraud in the second round. After the first round of voting, a United Nations-backed panel threw out nearly a million of Mr. Karzai’s ballots — one-third of his total — on the grounds that they were fake.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/wo...afghan.html?hp

Meanwhile, back at Big Daddy's digs...

November 1, 2009

Upstate Republican Abruptly Suspends Race for Congress




By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEREMY W. PETERS

A moderate Republican whose candidacy for an upstate New York Congressional seat had set off a storm of national conservative opposition, abruptly withdrew on Saturday, emboldening the right at a time when the Republican Party is enmeshed in a debate over how to rebuild itself.

The candidate, Dede Scozzafava, said she was suspending her campaign in the face of collapsing support and evidence that she was heading for a loss in a three-way race on Tuesday involving Douglas L. Hoffman, running on the Conservative Party line, and Bill Owens, a Democrat.

Ms. Scozzafava had been under siege from conservative leaders because she supports gay rights and abortion rights and was considered too liberal on various fiscal issues.

The Republican National Committee, which had strongly backed Ms. Scozzafava’s candidacy, issued a statement applauding her decision and announcing it was now supporting Mr. Hoffman.

“Effective immediately, the R.N.C. will endorse and support the Conservative candidate in the race, Doug Hoffman,” the party’s national chairman, Michael Steele, said. “Doug’s campaign will receive the financial backing of the R.N.C. and get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bill Owens on Tuesday.”

Yet other prominent Republicans expressed concern that Ms. Scozzafava’s decision seemed likely to unsettle the party going into next year’s midterm elections, raising the prospect of more primaries against Republican candidates that they deem too moderate.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/ny...pstate.html?hp