Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Friday, November 17, 2006

Who's Out, Who's Thinking it Over, WaPo's Take on it All, and the Senate GOP Leadership

A few info bites this morning:

  • New Hampshire: The Union Leader reports that very popular Democratic Governor John Lynch will not challenge Republican Senator Sununu. While Gov. Lynch's entry would make this an easy pick-up, given how blue NH has trended over the last four years (Kerry winning in 2004 where Gore didn't in 2000, Lynch's huge margin of victory and both Congressional seats flipping from R to D in 2006), this is still a top target, and the Dems should be able to find a strong candidate from an ever-increasing bench.

  • Georgia: DeKalb County CEO and "conservative Democrat" Vernon Jones is considering a run against Republican Saxby Chambliss. Those who read this blog regularly will see that Chambliss is the Senator I would most love to see lose his seat, after the 2002 slime campaign he waged against war hero and then-incumbent Max Cleland. I would also love to see Cleland get back in for a rematch. But this is a start.

  • Virginia: Republican John Warner is undecided about a run for re-election. The Associated Press and Times Dispatch offer their takes. Warner suggests a final decision may not come until 18 months before the election, or roughly next May. He suggests that George Allen's loss to Jim Webb is a factor in his decision, and the Times-Dispatch notes that "rules bar him from serving as senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, where he has served a term-limited six years as chairman." My guess is that Warner will retire based on a few factors: 1) He won't like serving in the minority party; 2) It's less fun when you're not a powerful committee chairman; 3) Virginia is trending blue - demonstrated by Dem Gubernatorial wins in 2001 and 2005 and the 2006 Webb victory - and it would be a stain on his legacy to go out on a defeat; and 4) Virginia has a deep Democratic bench, headlined by former Governor Mark Warner (who recently backed out of the 2008 Presidential race) and current Governor Tim Kaine. My guess is: expect a retirement announcement next spring.

  • Chris Cillizza of Washington Post's The Fix offers his "way early look" at the Senate races in 2008. His major conclusion is the same as everyone else's: the Dems have fewer seats to protect and fewer targets (noting only two: Louisiana and South Dakota), while the Republicans have much more to protect and much more to lose, with many more retirement prospects.

  • On a personal note, how about the Senate GOP Leadership for next session! The minority leader will be Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, who only has a 52-40 approval rating in his home state (not solid at all) and blinks less than Steve Forbes. The minority whip will be Trent Lott, who left the leadership a few years back after hinting that segregation was the cure for what ails him. Segregationist Lott beat out for the number two spot the more moderate Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, who is up in 2008. Alexander is suffering from an anemic 46-42 approval rate and could use a boost in home-state popularity with the leadership post. Hopefully, this won't be the only election Alexander loses in the near future. In swing states where Dems are looking to pick up seats, like New Hampshire, Oregon, and Minnesota, I really don't see campaign visits from McConnell or Lott doing much to help guys like Sununu, Smith, and Coleman.

    UPDATE (4:32 PM): Minnesota: Just voted-out-of-office State Senate DFL Leader Dean Johnson is letting speculation swirl about a possible entry into the race to take on Republican Norm Coleman.


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