Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

"No Ifs" on a Huckabee Senate Bid

  • Arkansas: The Morning News and the Arkansas News Bureau are both reporting that former Governor and current Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has ruled out a Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Pryor. Huckabee told the Arkansas News Bureau:

    "The rumors have been out there and I need to put them to bed. I don't see it happening," Huckabee said of the possibility he would drop out of his run for president to take on Pryor, a first-term Democrat.

    "There are no ifs on this one. I have a race I'm in, and I'm committed to it."
    Whether this is absolutely sincere or just Huckabee trying to "seem" committed is unclear. ("I don't see it happening" isn't the same as "No chance whatsoever" in my book.) Huckabee can always re-evaluate later in the year if he believes his Presidential bid isn't gaining traction. That said, if this turns out to be the case, Pryor winning re-election just got a little safer.

  • It would be nice if the Bush Administration spent more money on actually improving care at Walter Reed and less money on Public Relations agencies to convince people that they're doing a good job. (HT: TPM)

  • Friday, March 30, 2007

    Domenici and Smith Continue to Sweat

  • New Mexico: New Mexico FBIHOP has details on the testimony of Kyle Sampson, Attorney-General-for-now Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff, in which he told Congress that "Sen. Pete Domenici's complaints about him ["him" being fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias] may have been 'influential' in his firing." Influential, indeed. That testimony means yet another bad news cycle back home for Pajamas Pete. I look forward to the results of the Senate Ethics investigation against Domenici.

  • Oregon: Gordon Smith already has plenty to worry about with his mediocre approval rating and his losing his Senate seat in a hypothetical match-up against U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio. Now it looks like the Club for Growth may pull a Chafee on him and try to primary him out. Blue Oregon notes:

    Well, on their blog, the Club for Growth has called Gordon Smith an "ignorant lawmaker", a "big-spending Republican", and put him in their "economic hall of shame".
    Blue Oregon goes on to report that "The Club for Growth just announced the opening of an Oregon affiliate - Club for Growth Oregon." As Smith tries to dive to the left to recapture the Oregon moderates and independents that are abandoning him, CfG-Oregon will be right there either to yank him back to right, making him unelectable, or to back a primary opponent, sapping his resources and decimating his re-election chances (see: Lincoln Chafee). Terrific developments. (HT: Kos)

  • Kos offers his current outlook of the 2008 Senate races. His first tier tight races are right on: CO, ME, MN, NH, and OR for the GOP; LA for the Democrats. His second tier is more or less right on as well, including: NM, NC, and VA for the GOP; SD for the Democrats.

    His "Could Get Interesting" list is debatable. For the Democrats, there are AR, IA, MT, and NJ, all of which I think are teases for the GOP. The Pryor name is an institution in Arkansas, and Senator Pryor is too centrist for a serious ideological attack. The Iowa GOP doesn't have the candidate to take down Harkin. Rehberg likely couldn't beat Baucus (though Rehberg's entry would make this at least a second tier race - so this could get interesting and belongs on the list). And NJ-Dems routinely win re-election despite mediocre approval ratings, so I'm not worried about Lautenberg.

    For the GOP, there are AL, GA, ID, KY, NE, OK, and TX. With the prospect of Ron Sparks' entry, Alabama could get very interesting. McConnell, Inhofe, and Cornyn all enjoy mediocre-to-poor approvals, so the right candidate can make KY, OK, or TX a second-tier race or better. Anything can happen in Nebraska with Hagel's plans up in the air. I'm less optimistic about Georgia and Idaho. Georgia, like Louisiana, is a rare trending-red state over the last half-decade. And, while I expect a Larry Craig retirement to be likely, even an open seat would be tough. It would take a really terrific candidate to make it interesting.

    The two GOP-held seats that I think could have made the "Could Get Interesting" list are Alaska and Mississippi (recognizing that I'm letting Tennessee slide for now). Ted Stevens, though popular, is older than time itself; should Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich give it a shot, we could have an interesting race. Similarly, if Thad Cochran retires and former state AG Mike Moore gets in, we would have more than an "interesting" race; we'd have a first-tier battle. Lots to look forward to.

  • Want to Laugh?

    A quiet Friday morning, so I figured I'd toss you some laughs in addition to the news:

  • New Mexico: New Mexico FBIHOP reports that the folks behind the Swift Boat-style radio ads of fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias are big Steve Pearce fans:

    It should be no surprise that Linda Krumland and her husband Thomas Krumland both support wingnut southern New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce. To the tune of $8200 over the 2006 cycle.
    I think a polite request to Pearce's office to ask him to return the $8200 contribution of somebody so duplicitous would be in order (or to contribute the $8200 to a charity if he really wants to score some good-guy points), unless he wants to be linked to the same scandal that is tarnishing Pajamas Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson.

  • At HuffPo, two of my favorite posters have new posts: Adam McKay and Bill Maher.

  • Can you believe Mitt Romney? He trails in single digits in just about every poll, often behind Newt Gingrich who isn't even running yet, and he's already discussing running mates! Most laughable possible running mate: Newt Gingrich, who Romney is running behind!

  • How much of a disingenuous dope is House Minority Leader John Boehner? Ask the attendees of a Congressional ceremony for the Tuskegee Airmen. And watch the video if you love to wince.

  • What is "veteran GOP strategist Glen Bolger"'s take on 2006?

    Glen Bolger: I think that the idea that Republicans weren't conservative enough, or that the base didn't turn out, or that the base wasn't supportive enough, has been knocked down among most political analysts and people who understand elections. I think, what our problem was last time was a perfect storm of Iraq, concern about the ethics problems, no reaction to Katrina, that just undermined confidence in the Republican Party.
    Hmmmm... Iraq? Yup, the GOP wants to keep it open-ended and wants to increase troop deployment. Katrina? Yeah, I think it's safe to say Bush has forgotten about it. And ethics problems and scandals? Ask Alberto Gonzales, Scooter Libby, and any of the vets staying at Walter Reed. Just another indication that we can expect a 2006 redux in 2008.

  • John Sununu, Far-Right Winger

  • New Hampshire: Sprintin' John Sununu's approval languishes under 50% and he loses in a hypothetical match-up by a significant margin, garnering barely one-third of voters' support and losing almost one-fifth of Republican voters to the hypothetical Democratic candidate, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Why could this be?

    The answer is simple. New Hampshire is a moderate state, and John Sununu is a far-right winger. "Prove it!" you demand?

    How did Sununu vote on implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations? Against.

    How about drilling in ANWR? For.

    How did Sununu vote on mandating a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq? He voted for stripping a mandatory withdrawal date from funding legislation.

    What about something as simple as increasing the minimum wage? Against.

    How about stem cell research - even Orrin Hatch voted yes. How did Sununu vote? Against.

    And Terry Schiavo's husband reminds us that John Sununu sided with right wing extremists in that situation as well.

    Time and time again, Sprintin' John Sununu votes with the far-right wing rather than actually represent the sensible, moderate electorate of New Hampshire.

    Any wonder Sununu's a top electoral target? He is perhaps the single most out-of-touch-with-his-constituents Senator up in 2008.

    (Thanks to an astute reader for sharing the links to the roll call votes.)

  • Thursday, March 29, 2007

    More Absentee Republicans

  • Oregon: Loaded Orygun wonders where Gordon Smith was while popular Democratic Senator Ron Wyden fought for extending county timber payments, which means "over a billion dollars on the line for Oregon and some of its poorest counties."

  • North Carolina: The North Carolina Democratic Party asks "Where is Liddy?" as Elizabeth Dole seems unwilling to support North Carolina citizen opposition to "the Navy’s plan to put an outlying landing field near an important wildlife refuge in northeastern North Carolina." (HT: BlueNC)

  • Courtesy of TPM Cafe, "Public Says Democratic Party Has 'Stronger' And 'Better' Leaders":

    The poll finds that when asked which party has "stronger" leaders, 41% say Dems, while 36% say the GOP. That's a dramatic shift from the numbers in the Pew poll in the Fall of 2006 just before the elections: At that time, 30% said Dems, while 43% picked the GOP.

    Similarly, when asked which party has "better" leaders, voters gave Dems a wide advantage, picking it over the GOP by 44%-29% -- an even more dramatic shift from last fall's poll, which gave the advantage to the GOP, 38%-34%.
    Do you think 2008 might be a solid Democratic year?

    UPDATE (9:33am 3/30/07): Blue Oregon adds insight on Gordon Smith's absence (and even a comment from Smith seemingly in opposition) from the county timber payments effort so important to Oregon's economy.

  • Sununu Sinks While Sparks Savors Support

  • New Hampshire: Kos and MyDD offer the goods on a new ARG poll showing Sprintin' John Sununu losing to former Governor Jeanne Shaheen in a hypothetical match-up 44-34. Sununu only gets 34% in the match-up. 34 lousy percent! Now, Jeanne Shaheen isn't running, you say. True. But it does demonstrate clear disapproval of Sununu and an obvious display on the part of Granite Staters that they want someone else. In the polls, while Sununu only gets 1% of Democrats, Shaheen captures 17% of Republicans, almost one in five! That's a pretty significant level of disenchantment with Sununu from among his own base. Doesn't bode well for Sprintin' Sununu.

  • Alabama: SSP gathers up the broad, positive reactions to a possible Ron Sparks Senate bid. Sparks himself has even taken note of the groundswell of support and says a decision will be made within months. Good stuff!

  • Thursday Rundown

  • New Mexico: More bad news for the Domenici team:

    New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici’s chief of staff sent a cryptic thank-you note to Karl Rove just as the senator was recommending replacements for David Iglesias, the fired U.S. attorney in New Mexico, according to internal White House and Justice Department documents.
    Did the e-mail represent Domenici thanking Rove for firing Iglesias? Was Domenici just thanking Rove for suggesting a new restaurant? We can all speculate and come to different conclusions - which is why it wouldn't be the worst thing for a proper investigation to occur with testimony given under oath. And the findings of the Senate Ethics investigation against Domenici would offer insight as well, I'm sure. New Mexico FBIHOP offers more thoughts on the topic. Also, TPM gets to the bottom of who is responsible for the Swift Boat-style ads against Iglesias. Pretty sordid stuff coming out of the NM-GOP. Didn't they learn from the OH-GOP that looking really corrupt isn't the best public relations angle?

  • Minnesota: Senate candidate Al Franken was on David Letterman's show, so the MN-GOP proves it has no sense of humor as it hits back with a top ten list of its own: "Top Ten Al Franken Over-The-Top, Negative Personal Attacks." What the MN-GOP doesn't get is that their top ten list makes them, not Franken, look bad. Whiny. Cry-babies. Humorless, at the very least. I mean, the first one on the list is: "#10: Derided Senator Norm Coleman as 'butt boy'." Who does that reflect more poorly on? Franken, who made an off-color joke? Or Coleman, as it reinforces that he is a Bush enabler, instead of the independent voice Minnesota wants in the Senate?

  • Colorado: Ultra-conservatives love Bob Schaffer. Unfortunately for Schaffer, Colorado is a much more moderate state. Doesn't bode well for Schaffer '08.

  • Only 29% of Americans believe that Bush's escalation in Iraq is working. Maybe that has something to do with stories today from MSNBC and The Politico on the topic of "GOP senators at '08 risk" and "Republicans Fear 2008 Meltdown," respectively. Perhaps the best quote, from the MSNBC article, is courtesy of scandal-embroiled Pajamas Pete Domenici:

    Domenici did not give a “yes” or “no” answer when asked Wednesday how he’d vote on the Senate bill. “You raise a very difficult question,” he said. “I haven’t decided.”
    If "I haven't decided" is the kind of leadership needed in the Senate, re-elect Pajamas Pete, I guess.

  • Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Karl Rove's Take on the 2008 Senate Races (and Thad Cochran)

  • [Cross-posted at my SSP diary.]

    Hearings were held on allegations of General Services Administration (GSA) misconduct, specifically using GSA staff, time, and resources for Republican partisan political purposes. Think Progress has more and YouTube has clips from the hearing.

    Included in the hearing was a PowerPoint presentation from the White House Office of Political Affairs (i.e. Karl Rove's desk), and one of the slides was titled "Battle for the Senate 2008." States were broken down as "Republican Offense," which includes six states, "Republican Defense," which includes 8 states, and "Not Competitive," which includes 19 states (though the math wizards in Rove's office listed it on the slide as "21 states").

    The six states listed under "Republican Offense" are Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. No huge shocks.

    The eight states listed under "Republican Defense" are Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, and Virginia. Mississippi?!?! Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon are the obvious top five Republican vulnerabilities. And Virginia and New Mexico are both purple states with possible retirees (even before the Domenici phone call scandal).

    But Mississippi?!?! The only Democrat to make Mississippi competitive, at least in a top-tier (i.e. more competitive than, say, North Carolina or Kentucky, which are both listed under "Not Competitive") sense, is former state Attorney General Mike Moore. And it is believed that Moore will only step up if incumbent Republican Thad Cochran retires.

    So, does Rove have inside info that Thad Cochran is planning on retiring, after all? Certainly provokes curiosity. The Guru will keep an ear toward these developments as they unfold.

  • Late Afternoon Rundown

  • New Mexico: Republicans must be pretty worried about Pajamas Pete Domenici and his dropping approval numbers. Swift Boat style attack ads aimed at fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias have hit New Mexico radio stations grossly misrepresenting (I know, shocker!) Iglesias' record. Digby and The Carpetbagger Report offer more insights and specifics.

    Republicans say they support the veterans, but will happily slam veterans when it suits their purposes (see Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) or let veterans go without adequate care services (see the Walter Reed scandal). Then, they say they're the Party of national security, but they happily out a covert CIA agent to suit their vengeful whims (see the Valerie Plame scandal). Now, though they say they're the law & order Party, they take shots at prosecutors when it suits their purposes.

    This story isn't going away, and, at the very least, it will be a continual drag on Pajamas Pete Domenici until he decides to retire or otherwise loses his Senate seat.

  • MyDD's Singer offers his thoughts on the recent relatively weak approval numbers of Republicans up for re-election in 2008. Once again, all I can say is, "Ditto."

  • Texas: Speaking of low approval numbers, Texas Kaos looks at what's behind John Cornyn's lousy 47% approval and why we can expect that number to drop even further.

  • New Hampshire: Jay Buckey posts a diary on Blue Hampshire to give an update on his Senate exploratory efforts and share some thoughts, particularly on Iraq.

  • Some Updated Approval Numbers

  • Here are some members of the 50-and-under club:

    Pat Roberts (R-KS): 50-36

    Gordon Smith (R-OR): 50-40

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY): 49-43

    John Cornyn (R-TX): 47-39

    Norm Coleman (R-MN): 47-43

    and honorable mention: John Warner (R-VA): 51-37

    When an institution like John Warner barely squeaks above 50%, one can be reasonably sure that we are amid a fairly solid blue trend.

  • Reactions

  • Alabama: Swing State Project has two commercials from Ron Sparks' recent re-election bid for Agriculture Commissioner. Given that I have never seen a campaign commercial for Agriculture Commissioner before, I must say they were phenomenal - especially when Sparks notes in the first ad that he "wrote the nation's first anti-terrorist plan to protect our food supply." If he did that as Agriculture Commissioner, imagine what he could do as Senator! The second ad deftly connects the agricultural sector with energy independence and how it can benefit Alabama's farmers. I must say, I'm getting pretty enthused about a possible Sparks bid. (And I think the commercials were effective in Alabama, too - Sparks went from a 51% election victory in 2002 to a 59% re-election victory in 2006.)

  • SSP also comes through with an impressively insightful list of when Senate candidates filed for the 2006 cycle. Bob Corker was the earliest, filing in October 2004; Senator Jim Webb was the second-latest, filing in February 2006, just nine months before Election Day. Even Senators Claire McAskill and Sherrod Brown waited until the September and October (respectively) of 2005 to file. There is a wide gamut, but it demonstrates that we have all of 2007 to recruit terrific candidates before the clock starts ticking.

  • Virginia: Raising Kaine highlights John Warner's incongruity on Iraq.

  • New Mexico: Monica Goodling taking the fifth amendment in the Attorney Purge scandal keeps Pajamas Pete Domenici's role in the scandal in the news in New Mexico. And I don't think it'll go away anytime soon. And I can't imagine that it's helping his poll numbers any.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon wonders if the recent poll showing Gordon Smith losing to Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio had an impact on his vote not to strip withdrawal deadline language from the Senate supplemental bill yesterday. Does the Guru think so? Yes. Smith is a finger-in-the-wind politician. He sees that he is losing his flock, so he dives to the left to appear to stay with them. I suspect that Oregon voters will take note of his lack of convictions and opt for a Senator who can demonstrate leadership and, well, a spine.

  • Idaho: mcjoan continues to stoke the Larry Craig retirement flame.

  • New Hampshire: MyDD's Singer is the latest to chime in with a chorus of "John Sununu is out of step with New Hampshire."

  • Colorado: Gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez tries to remain relevant. Why? Any interest in a newly-wide-open Senate primary? (I really want to see a nasty CO-GOP Senate primary! Can you tell?)

  • Oklahoma: In case you were wondering if Jim "In Denial" Inhofe was the greatest yutz ever perpetrated on the American people, he is.

  • Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    Heated Tuesday Night Round-Up

  • Withdrawal deadline language in the Iraq Senate supplemental bill survived narrowly, in a 50-48 vote. Amongst those voting to remove the withdrawal deadline language were Norm Coleman (MN), Susan Collins (ME), John Cornyn (TX), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Pete Domenici (NM), Mitch McConnell (KY), Pete Sessions (AL), John Sununu (NH), and John Warner (VA). This vote will be one of the big ones to bite them in the ass come Election Day 2008.

    Gordon Smith of Oregon was one of only two Republicans (along with Chuck Hagel of Nebraska) to vote to keep the withdrawal deadline language - no doubt influenced by the recent poll showing him behind in a re-election battle.

    The bottom line is that when Coleman or Collins or Sununu try to disavow responsibility for Bush's Iraq War or try to distance themselves from the Bush administration, this very vote will be one of the key ones we point to to demonstrate their lack of independence and entirely absent sound judgement.

  • Oregon: Speaking of Gordon Smith, WaPo's Cillizza highlights the poll showing Smith running behind Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio, and Loaded Orygun asks, "How many licks does it take to get to the Bill Sizemore center of the GOP Senate primary?"

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY notes Mitch McConnell's stilted approval rating below 50%, while Bluegrass Report and MyDD discuss a $200K ad buy timed with the Congressional recess demonstrating how out of touch McConnell is with reality on Iraq - check out the video for yourself. (Quick reminder: a majority of Kentuckyans want us out of Iraq.)

  • Colorado: Hotline TV takes a hilarious look at the CO-GOP Senate candidate interview process in the wake of former Rep. Scott McInnis' departure. Meanwhile, Colorado Pols has the New York Sun agreeing that McInnis' departure makes a GOP retention of retiring Wayne Allard's seat even less likely.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire takes a soberingly honest look at the agony of John Sununu.

  • Georgia: Conservative Democrat Vernon Jones will kick off his Senate challenge to "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss on April 3.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with MyDD's Bowers' outlook on how the 2008 Senate race dynamics currently stand (except for the miniscule reference to the possibility of defections). He summarizes:

    With the possible exception of Louisiana, Democrats control every single top-tier Senate pickup opportunity, and still outnumber Republicans in terms of second-tier pickup opportunities.
    And even Louisiana is looking better than the absolute electoral doom we expected.

  • Following Up

  • Kentucky: The Politico looks at the effort to repay the defeat of Tom Daschle in 2004 with a coordinated effort to defeat Mitch McConnell. My favorite passage is McConnell wrapping himself up in Bush's blanket:

    Chief among them is McConnell's airtight association with Bush and the Iraq war. In January, McConnell said, "The president doesn't have a stronger supporter in the Senate than the person you are looking at."

    Returning the favor, Bush told McConnell's supporters last month: "I'm glad to have Mitch by my side."

    Those words, though, could haunt McConnell later.

    A Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll last month found that 43 percent of Kentucky voters approved of Bush's job performance and 55 percent disapproved -- the worst of his presidency, but better than the national average.
    McConnell wants to ride the anchor straight to the bottom. I encourage his descent. And do visit Ditch Mitch KY regularly for the lowdown.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue wonders if Norm Coleman wants to follow up the Iraq mess with an Iran War.

  • Raising Kaine wonders who will be the next Lincoln Chafee, noting Susan Collins and focusing on Gordon Smith:

    If there's a Lincoln Chafee in 2008, it may come in the form of Oregon's Gordon Smith. Oregon is not as blue as Rhode Island, but Smith has been frantically running to the middle recently to hide his very right-of-center voting record. A new DSCC poll has Democratic Congressman Pete DiFazio leading Smith by 4%, 42-38. Yet that same sample of people have a generally positive opinion of Smith by 56-25, favorable/unfavorable. And, like Chafee, Smith could face a tough primary challenge. 1998 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Sizemore recently told Blue Oregon when asked about challenging Smith, "that's not farfetched."
    I'll bet Chafee is saving a seat for Smith.

  • What do the graduating seniors at Miami Dade College at Kendall, St. Vincent College, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy have in common? I feel sorry for all of them that they won't have a more eloquent commencement speaker.

  • Monday, March 26, 2007

    Monday Night Fodder

  • Oregon: A DSCC-commissioned poll has Gordon Smith losing in a hypothetical match-up to Rep. Peter DeFazio by a 42-38 margin. Daily Kos, MyDD, and Blue Oregon all offer details. While it is a partisan poll, and therefore should be viewed warily until more polling comes out, it can't be encouraging to Smith to see him down in the first poll out of the chute.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire analyzes Sprintin' John Sununu's recent votes to demonstrate how out of step he is with the Granite State. Among the votes: Sununu voted to privatize social security and voted against funding for the COPS program and special education funding.

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols sees the Grand Junction Sentinel having difficulty imagining that Colorado would elect the "ultra-conservative" Bob Schaffer. That doesn't sound like an endorsement.

  • MyDD's Singer offers a terrific compilation of the Senate GOP's recent worries.

  • Monday Morning Fodder

  • Courtesy of Political Wire highlighting the Washington Times, even NRSC Chair John Ensign agrees with the Guru (and pretty much anyone with common sense and a newspaper or internet connection) that the GOP is burdened with the disadvantage of a "steep, uphill climb" in 2008:

    In a "wide-ranging" interview, Ensign "acknowledged that his party faces a steep, uphill climb in next year's Senate elections when 21 Republican seats will be up for grabs, compared with 12 for the Democrats."

    Ensign "singled out five Republican seats that are in danger in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon and New Hampshire, compared with two vulnerable Democratic incumbents in South Dakota and Louisiana and long-shot possibilities in Iowa and Montana."
    Even the Senate GOP's #1 cheerleader sees five "danger" spots for the GOP with only two "vulnerable" seats for the Democrats. And that is before we get into Dole's overall lousy poll numbers, Domenici's role in the Attorney Purge scandal, and the possible retirement of John Warner coupled with the possible entry of Mark Warner to the Virginia Senate race.

    PW also mentions the New York Times article this morning on Republican Senators dancing between making the party establishment happy vs. actually representing their constituents.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire offers two new interesting posts: Dean writes on Sprintin' John Sununu enabling Bush's abuse of executive privelege, and Laura on the impact of meeting Mayor Steve Marchand.

  • Alabama: SSP offers an impressive profile of Ron Sparks, the man who might just give Jeff Sessions a run for his money:

    Ron Sparks has been Alabama's Agriculture and Industry Commissioner since he was elected in 2002 over his Republican opponent by a 51-46 margin. In 2006, he was one of Alabama's top vote getters, enjoying a 59-41 victory while winning 62 of the state's 67 counties. During his first term in office, he secured new trade markets for the state in Cuba, improved Alabama's school lunch system from a grade of F to a B-plus (you can see Sparks' video message on YouTube), moved to protect Alabama's water resources, and generally served as a hard-nosed consumer safety advocate. His successful tenure allowed him to build a broad coalition of support, from the Alabama Education Association, to the conservative Alabama Farmers Federation (which endorses very few Democrats), to the AFL-CIO and the Business Council of Alabama. And he was able to build this coaltion all while being a fiery, populist Democrat.
    Sounds like a Jon Tester-style populist who knows how to appeal to diverse crowds. His entry could make for a more exciting Senate race in Alabama than Sessions would like, I'm sure.

  • Tennessee: A little over a month ago, Sidof79 gave his rundown of possible Democratic challengers to Lamar Alexander in 2008. He has now updated the list. Notable addition: Tipper Gore (who considered a bid in 2002) should Al decide absolutely against a Presidential bid.

  • Iowa: Conservative Republican Steve Rathje, who says things we couldn't make up if we tried, will be getting company in a GOP primary, courtesy of tae kwon do instructor Bob McDowell. Not exactly A-list names from the Iowa GOP, but, then again, all of their possible candidates are significantly flawed.

  • Sunday, March 25, 2007

    Iglesias on Meet the Press Highlights

  • New Mexico: Fired U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias was on Meet the Press this morning. Here is the transcript. Here are the highlights:

    MR. RUSSERT: You wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times, and I want to share that with our viewers and come back and talk about it. “Politics entered my life with two phones calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from” Republican “Representative and the other from Senator [Pete] Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

    “Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges—the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about—before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, ‘I am very sorry to hear that,’ and the line went dead.” He hung up on you?

    MR. IGLESIAS: That’s right.

    MR. RUSSERT: Did you feel intimidated by those phone calls?

    MR. IGLESIAS: Pressured, leaned on, yes, because of the timeline, because of the fact that they were in a—in a—or Congresswoman Wilson was in a tight race at that time. I think she was behind. The, the local press had given significant coverage of this subsequent corruption matter. I couldn’t talk about it to anybody, much less members of Congress.

    MR. RUSSERT: Had a congressman or a senator ever called you about a case prior to that?

    MR. IGLESIAS: No. ...

    MR. RUSSERT: And to this day, do you believe you were removed for political reasons?

    MR. IGLESIAS: Absolutely, yes.
    The Senate Ethics investigation is apparently ongoing as to Pete Domenici's role. We eagerly await their findings.

  • Saturday, March 24, 2007

    When You Take Your Eyes Off Republicans...

  • New Mexico: Could it be that Pajamas Pete Domenici's role in the U.S. Attorney Purge is having a negative impact in his home state? Well, his approval has dropped below 60% for the first time in SUSA's tracking history. Hat tips: SSP and NM-FBIHOP. The national MSM has even begun focusing more on Domenici's tentacle of the scandal octopus. And it's only beginning for Domenici. The MSNBC article notes the ongoing Senate Ethics investigation of Domenici. Should that garner more spotlight and, potentially, yield unflattering results for Domenici, that will expedite his decline in support. Now that Domenici's approval is on the downswing, it is the ideal time for Rep. Tom Udall or another top-tier Democrat to challenge him and force him to a decision.

  • Texas: John "Box Turtle" Cornyn has decided to wrap himself up in Domenici's investigation. Think Progress has Cornyn continuing his role as Bush's #1 apologist, and this has led to calls for Cornyn to recuse himself from the Domenici Ethics investigation.

  • Oregon: Could Gordon Smith be getting a primary opponent? Courtesy of Blue Oregon, 1998 OR-GOP Gubernatorial nominee Bill Sizemore says the idea is "not far fetched." A GOP primary would help whip Smith back to right after his disingenuous election-cycle-dive to the left.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue has more on Smilin' Norm Coleman's mixed messages on Iraq, with a pinch of Pollyannaism.

  • Oklahoma: The DSCC offers more hilarity regarding Jim Inhofe's frightening case of denial. Will Inhofe deny the existence of gravity next? Or call the earth rotating around the sun a hoax?

  • Friday, March 23, 2007

    House Passes Bill Mandating Iraq Withdrawal by Aug. '08

  • The House passed, by a vote of 218-212, the supplemental appropriations bill including a mandatory Iraq withdrawal by August 2008. Numerous Republicans being discussed as 2008 Senate contenders voted against it, including: Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Mike Castle (DE), Tom Davis (VA), Denny Rehberg (MT), and every Republican Congressperson from Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

  • Fired U.S. Attorney Iglesias on Meet the Press Sunday

  • New Mexico: Fired U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias, will appear on Meet the Press this Sunday. I wonder if Pajamas Pete Domenici's phone call will arise as a topic of conversation.

  • Friday Morning Miscellany

  • Colorado: I guess Bob Schaffer wants to kiss goodbye any shot at claiming moderates in a Senate bid as he and the Club for Growth walk hand-in-hand along the beach, courtesy of Colorado Pols.

  • Oklahoma: Think Progress offers us the new "Inhofe Scale" where a score of 100 "is commensurate with the sort of willful delusion he says is contained in Inhofe’s 'greatest hoax' speech." The Scale's creator, Lou Grinzo, offers this frame:

    And by "willful detachment from reality" I mean far more than simple ignorance. If my neighbor's eight-year-old son suggests that it would be cheaper to make cars fly than to clear roads with snow plows in the winter, he's speaking from simple ignorance and the typical boyhood fascination with all things that fly. If that boy's father were to make that same suggestion in all seriousness, then we could only conclude that he was delusional or willfully detached from the facts.
  • Alaska: At least Ted Stevens is guaranteed some opposition, as we wait for Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to announce a decision. Ted Gianoutsos will be running under the flag of the Veterans Party of Alaska.

  • Georgia: "Conservative Democrat" DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones is in, I think, but he has a seemingly unusual affect toward media coverage:

    Although DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones quietly filed his paperwork to run for U.S. Senate this week, he was more direct Thursday when he walked into Saxby Chambliss' Washington office and told the incumbent Republican senator that he has competition.

    Jones, a former Democratic state representative now in his second term as DeKalb CEO, has been reluctant to publicly declare his candidacy. But on Monday, without fanfare, he notified the Federal Elections Commission that he is entering the 2008 Senate race as a Democrat.

    Ann Kimbrough, chief of staff to Jones, said her boss visited with Chambliss, Georgia's senior senator, as well as Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents most of DeKalb, to inform them of his candidacy. Jones himself could not be reached for comment.
    It's unusual that he wouldn't have any fanfare or media coverage either as he filed his paperwork or after the meeting with Chambliss. Hard to read, I guess.

  • Fun fact from The Hill, courtesy of Daily Kos:

    Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88 percent to 7 percent. No demographic segment, other than Republicans, was as united in supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News viewers.
    Fox News: Fair. Balanced. Loyal Bushies.

  • Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Big Thursday Rundown

  • First and foremost, our thoughts are with Elizabeth Edwards and the Edwards family.

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols has much on the aftershocks of Scott McInnis' exit from the Senate race. First, McInnis suggests other potential candidates not named Bob Schaffer, and then rumors that McInnis was pushed out of the race are looked at. There may still be some big fireworks with the CO-GOP yet.

  • North Carolina: Blue NC has Liddy Dole as the sixth least powerful Senator.

  • To see the entire Senate power ranking, courtesy of, click here. Highlights include the bottom 16 being all Republicans except for two freshman Democrats and the top 17 being all Democrats except for two senior Republicans. The most impotent Senators up in 2008 include: Dole at 95, Smilin' Norm Coleman and Sprintin' John Sununu tied at 93, Lamar Alexander at 78, John "Box Turtle" Cornyn at 77, Two-Faced Susan Collins at 75, and Jim "In Denial" Inhofe at 71.

  • Oklahoma: Notorious global warming denier and possible Holocaust denier Jim "In Denial" Inhofe gets spanked at the Senate Environment Committee hearing the other day, courtesy of Think Progress.

  • Louisiana: A Southern Media & Opinion Research poll has former Senator John Breaux down significantly against Republican Bobby Jindal. Does anybody know more about SM&OR's background? This passage makes me a bit skeptical:

    The pollster says "not a lot of people could name anything he (Breaux) has done for Louisiana recently."
    Well, no kidding. Breaux has been out of office for a couple of years, so he hasn't been in the public eye "recently." It makes me skeptical that the poll was as non-partisan and objective as I like my polls. Definitely a red flag, but we'll have to wait for subsequent polling by other outfits to determine how much of an outlier this one is. If other polls have Breaux down 20, then we're in bad shape for LA-Gov, which probably doesn't help Mary Landrieu in 2008, though several outcomes are possible. If other polls have the LA-Gov race much tighter, then I'll keep a raised eyebrow toward SM&OR polls.

    UPDATE (8:13pm): Oklahoma: Firedoglake has a nice listing of where Jim Inhofe's bread is buttered. Special interests financed 34 trips for Inhofe worth over $45,000. If there's one thing Inhofe isn't in denial about, it's his ATM card from the United Bank of Big Oil.

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    More DSCC Success and NRSC Failure

  • Political Insider brings us CongressDaily's reporting of fundraising figures for Janruary-February:

    The DSCC has outperformed the NRSC in recent months in terms of fundraising, according to CongressDaily. "The DSCC has raised more than $4.9 million for the first two months of the 2008 election cycle and ended last month with just under $2.5 million on hand." The NRSC, by comparison, raised a total of $3.3 million for the first two months of the year and ended the month with nearly $1.4 million.
    We remember from January that "the DSCC raised $2.2 million, more than double the NRSC's $900K." Which means that February's take was roughly $2.7 million for the DSCC and only $2.4 million for the NRSC. So Ensign had time in January to hire staff, choose new wallpaper for the office, and so on. And, in February, Schumer still beat him by several hundred thousand dollars. No wonder Ensign is panhandling to the RNC for more money. I can't wait for the March figures to come out next month. Keep up the great work Senator Schumer! As kos put it:

    I'm no longer so sad to see Liddy Dole exit the NRSC. It looks like Ensign will be more than a worthy replacement.
  • Speaking of Senator Schumer, he posted a diary today on Daily Kos urging the netroots to get involved by offering its ideas on Senate recruitment for this cycle. So, send him your ideas here.

  • Colorado: How does the conservative blogosphere regard the NRSC? Well, in the wake of Scott McInnis' apparent departure from the Senate race and rumors that the NRSC is courting state AG John Suthers,, which bills itself as Colorado's Top Conservative News Outlet, offered these comments:

    Suthers’ barely-a-victory victory against unknown Fern O’Brien doesn’t impress us as the sort of thing that would scare off a relatively popular Congressman from a swing district.

    If there is truth to recent claims that the NRSC is courting Suthers to run for Senate, it only proves that are just as inept now as they were last year.
    "Just as inept now as they were last year" when they lost six seats and the Senate majority. It doesn't sounds like the conservative blogosphere has much affection for the NRSC, if this is any indication.

  • Shockwaves in Colorado and Shock in Montana

  • Colorado: Could the front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination, former Rep. Scott "McLobbyist" McInnis, be dropping out of the race? WaPo's Cillizza says that may be the case:

    Former Colorado Rep. Scott McInnis (R) is expected to end his Senate bid as soon as today, according to sources familiar with his thinking who asked not to be identified because they did not have permission to speak for the McInnis camp.
    The Denver Post suggests why:

    Not only does the national political environment still show voter dissatisfaction with Republicans, but GOP backers have paused at some of McInnis' past political decisions and current status as a lobbyist.

    Additionally, former Sen. Bill Armstrong, known as the "godfather" of the state GOP, isn't backing him, and has thrown his support behind former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer - who hasn't decided whether he is running.
    It also doesn't help McInnis that new CO-GOP Chair Dick Wadhams has such a close personal relationship with former Rep. Bob Schaffer.

    If McInnis does withdraw from the race, it does decrease the chances of a bloody GOP primary, but it vastly increases the chances that the eventual GOP nominee will be further to the right, giving greater potential to see independents and moderates disenchanted with the GOP, especially in a state like Colorado that has been trending blue for the last couple of election cycles.

  • Montana: It is still unclear if GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg will gamble on a challenge to super-popular Democratic incumbent Senator Max Baucus, but, if he does decide to gamble, he will have much to explain about this vote:

    Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) offered an amendment during the committee markup which would have stripped language from the Iraq supplemental restricting the use of troops who are not properly equipped or trained...
    The GOP Leadership wanted to remove language that protected troops that were not properly equipped or trained, and Rehberg supported the GOP Leadership over the safety of our troops. Rehberg was apparently perfectly comfortable removing those protections for the troops. Is that supporting the troops? No. And Rehberg will have to explain himself. Montana Netroots, Intelligent Discontent, and Kagro X (here and here) offer more reaction.

  • Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    NRSC Chair Ensign Begs RNC for Help

  • Wow. The Hill reports:

    National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Ensign (R-Nev.) is pressing Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) to break tradition and steer Republican National Committee (RNC) funds to Senate races for the 2008 cycle.

    Historically, the RNC has done little to help individual Senate candidates in presidential election years, although candidates in battleground states have reaped the collateral benefits of the RNC’s get-out-the-vote program.

    But under Martinez’s stewardship, the RNC may come to NRSC’s aid in 2008. ...

    Martinez said that he does not know how much help the RNC can give to Senate Republicans and emphasized that any significant aid would break from past practice.

    “Traditionally, in presidential years the RNC has not been of much help to either of the committees,” he said, referring to the NRSC and its House counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee.
    MyDD's Singer sums it up well:

    Yet the fact that it is March 2007, more than a year and a half before voters go to the polls to determine the makeup of the Senate in the 111th Congress, and Ensign is already indicating that he does not believe he has the capacity to, on his own, raise the type of money necessary for his party to retake the Senate is extremely telling. Make no mistake, this is a sign of weakness and despair from within the Republican establishment -- a sign that is not going to instill much confidence in the donor base of the GOP.
    The NRSC has been begging the Republican Senate members for money for Liddy Dole and other select, hard-luck GOP Senators; and now NRSC Chair Ensign comes hat-in-hand panhandling to the RNC for help. This should be very demoralizing to the GOP base. The NRSC is already at a numerical disadvantage, having to defend 21 seats to the Democrats' 12 seats; but now they're admitting that they won't be able to cut it financially without help. Scenes like this have to make a prolonged and growing Democratic majority in the Senate seem all the more likely.

  • Shifting Dynamics in Louisiana; More of the Same in New Hampshire

  • Louisiana: Gov. Kathleen Blanco has announced that she will not run for re-election to the Governorship, and popular former Senator John Breaux seems ready to move forward with a bid. How will the newly-shaped 2007 LA-Gov race impact the 2008 LA-Sen race? (Let's assume for the moment that the hooplah over Breaux's residency is put to rest.) There seem to be four possible outcomes, pitting popular Democrat Breaux against popular Republican Jindal:

    1) Breaux wins and re-affirms the standing of Democrats in Louisiana; boosts Mary Landrieu's re-election bid in 2008, whether or not Jindal, now a two-time gubernatorial loser, challenges her.

    2) Breaux narrowly wins, but Jindal remains popular in a narrow defeat and goes on to victoriously challenge Landrieu.

    3) Jindal wins, but it doesn't have an impact on Landrieu's re-election bid as she goes on to defeat a lesser opponent.

    4) Jindal wins and further improves the standing of Republicans in Louisiana, boosting a GOP opponent against Landrieu.

    We still have to wait and see regarding Breaux's formal entry into the Gov race, as well as the formal settling of his residency issue (which, I have to believe, will get settled in short order, or the LA-Dems wouldn't have risked such a gambit). Breaux's entry will shake up Louisiana electoral dynamics in 2007 and 2008, but we won't know how exactly for some time. I'm rooting for option 1.

  • New Hampshire: MSNBC declares Sprintin' John Sununu as "beatable." MSNBC highlights Sununu's overall allegiance to Bush:

    Despite his recent high-profile clashes with Bush, Sununu also voted in support of the president’s positions 96 percent of the time in 2004 and 95 percent of the time in 2003, according to the non-partisan Congressional Quarterly analyses.

    And last week he supported the president by voting against the Democratic resolution which would have ordered Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq within four months.
    Support of Bush in the mid-90's. Offers rhetoric all over the place regarding Iraq, but votes to stay the course with Bush's policy. I don't think the Granite State will respond positively.

  • Open Thread

    This is the Guru's first open thread. Please discuss any races of interest to you, or germane current events, or feel free to heap praise on the Guru, or, best of all, offer constructive criticism or suggestions for features you'd like to see added to the Guru's blog. I look forward to your comments!

    Challengers and Statistics

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols has Scott "McLobbyist" McInnis "concerned" about the possible (probable?) entry into the Senate race of state AG John Suthers. McInnis has tried very hard to get all of the CO-GOP behind him and box out any possible primary challengers. But Suthers, Bob Schaffer, Mike Coffman, and Dan Caplis might have something to say about that. And I look forward to that conversation!

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY offers a look at possible challengers to McConnell: U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler as the top choice (though he may be more likely to run for Jim Bunning's much more vulnerable seat in 2010), most frequently mentioned potential candidate 2003 Dem Lt. Gov. nominee Charlie Owen, and a possible draft effort around State Rep. Rocky Adkins.

  • New Hampshire: James at SSP notes the shift in Presidential primary voting by independents from 60% GOP primary in 2000 to a polled 68% Dem primary for 2008 - and how ominous a sign that is for John Sununu. Since independents can vote in either primary in New Hampshire, which party's primary they vote in can be seen as an indicator of how their political preferences lean at the moment. (Of course it can also be seen as which party is having a more exciting race, which is why 2000 was used as the comparison; it was the last year for primaries in both parties.) And a 28-point swing from GOP to Dem certainly doesn't help an already-very-vulnerable GOP incumbent.

  • James at SSP also highlights an interesting statistic:

    I went back through the last 10 elections (to 1988) and found support for the notion that there are more retirements in presidential years. In the 5 presidential election years there were 5 to 13 retirements, with an average of 7.7 retirements/election. In the 5 midterm election years there were 3 to 8 retirements, with an average of 4.8 retirements/election.
    With only Colorado's Wayne Allard having announced a retirement, if the statistics hold, we can expect at least another four retirements. Who might they be? If I had to pick four more retirees, I'd go with New Mexico's Pajamas Pete Domenici, Virginia's John Warner, Idaho's Larry Craig and a three-way tie for fourth between Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, Mississippi's Thad Cochran, and South Dakota's Tim Johnson (for obvious health reasons, if he feels unable to absorb the rigors of a re-election bid). But don't rule out Alaska's Ted Stevens, Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe or even the reportedly running Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina as retirement possibilities.

  • Monday, March 19, 2007

    Monday Night Quick Hits

  • North Carolina: The NRSC puts Elizabeth Dole on the GOP endangered species list.

  • Arkansas: The rumor mill is churning about a possible primary challenge to Senator Mark Pryor from Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. So far, it's just speculation, but unpleasant nonetheless.

  • Pennsylvania: Though this isn't until the 2010 cycle, 77-year-old Republican Arlen Specter says he plans on running for re-election.

  • Retirement Watch Update

  • [Cross-posted at my DKos and SSP diaries.]

    About a month and a half ago, the Guru offered you his first Retirement Watch post, looking at any GOP Senators who might be considering retirement over a re-election bid for any number of reasons. Here is the Guru's first update of the Retirement Watch:

    ↑ New Mexico's Pete Domenici: Pajamas Pete was on the RW because of his advanced age (he is turning 75 this May) and questionable mental state. Over the last several weeks, his role in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal has come to light, as well as his subsequent hiring of lawyers as a result. Ethics complaints have been filed against him. It is unclear what ramifications await Domenici, but it does suggest that this previously strong possibility for re-election has undermined his own chances with one very inappropriate phone call. Should he retire (or otherwise not seek re-election), GOP Rep. Heather Wilson would have been the likely front-runner for the GOP nomination to replace him, but she apparently made an inappropriate phone call similar to Domenici's, leaving super-conservative Rep. Steve Pearce as the go-to Republican, a man who is likely too conservative to win statewide in New Mexico. So the NM-GOP's likely choices are a politically damaged Domenici or a too-conservative-for-statewide Steve Pearce. If a prominent Democrat steps up early to challenge Domenici, it may put enough pressure on him to opt for retirement.

    ↑ Idaho's Larry Craig: Since the last RW, voices both liberal and conservative have suggested that Larry Craig is not long for the Senate. Whether the ID-GOP is trying to urge him out or are prepping a primary challenger is unclear, but the rumors are growing.

    ↑ Virginia's John Warner: Before the last RW, J. Warner had publicly gone back-and-forth as to where he was leaning between retirement and a re-election bid. It has appeared that J. Warner would take another term if he didn't have a tough challenge for it. He has even planned a little bit of fundraising. However, former Governor Mark Warner may be more interested in a 2008 Senate bid than previously thought. Also, former Senator George "Macaca" Allen has held a meeting to gauge support for a 2008 Senate bid should J. Warner retire. One wouldn't think that Allen would hold such a meeting unless he had info that the likelihood of a J. Warner retirement was stronger than the 50-50 conventional wisdom.

    ↔ Nebraska's Chuck Hagel: Before the last RW post, questions existed as to whether Hagel would run for President, run for Senate re-election, run for both, or retire from politics. Then, Hagel held a big press conference and answered none of those questions. He did say that "he would actively raise money for a Senate re-election bid in 2008." It did come out that Hagel, before he served two terms in the Senate, made it crystal clear that he felt twelve years was enough and that he supported term limits. Does he still support such limits? (Probably not.) However, GOP state attorney general Jon Bruning has already begun putting together an exploratory committee for a Senate bid. Is he just getting a head start in case of a Hagel Senate retirement, or does he enjoy inside info?

    ↔ Mississippi's Thad Cochran: Cochran had been publicly undecided on a re-election bid, holding off on a decision until late 2007, as of the last RW. Since then, he has planned some moderately aggressive fundraising, but he has also moved even further back his declared deadline for announcing his 2008 intentions and stated that being in the minority party would make him "less inclined" to run.

    ↓ North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole: Her age, health issues, and failure as NRSC Chair had led many to consider her a strong possibility for retirement. Nevertheless, she says she is running for re-election and has begun aggressive fundraising. Also, while polling for her has been pretty weak for her overall, they are polling her as the expected Republican in the race, indicating that the media outlets expect her to run again as well.

  • Monday Morning Miscellany

  • Texas: Digby has John "Box Turtle" Cornyn playing verbal gymnastics to defend Karl Rove yesterday morning, and Burnt Orange Report has Cornyn missing the facts on what "supporting the troops" really entails. Meanwhile, Capitol Annex offers its rundown of Democrats who they believe can beat Cornyn in 2008, including Houston Mayor Bill White, who has garnered much speculation, and State Rep. Rick Noriega, for whom a draft effort is underway.

  • Nebraska: The Lincoln Journal-Star looks at how state AG Jon Bruning's possibly premature Senate exploratory committee could fracture the NE-GOP while Chuck Hagel's plans are unclear.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue questions Smilin' Norm Coleman's continued milquetoast mumbling on Alberto Gonzales and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

  • Sunday, March 18, 2007

    Weekend Round-Up

  • New Mexico: MSNBC/Newsweek says, "Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed–including 45 percent of Republicans–say the ouster of the federal prosecutors was driven by political concerns." If you happen to agree, and would like to see a Senate ethics investigation occur regarding Pajamas Pete Domenici's role in the scandal and whether he violated Senate ethics policy, I'd suggest giving the Senate Select Committee on Ethics a ring at 202-224-2981 and letting them know that an investigation would be an appropriate course of action.

  • Oregon: MyDD's Singer suggests that Rep. David Wu may be open to considering a Senate challenge to Gordon Smith after all. Singer also highlights this Oregonian story about Smith towing the GOP party line:

    This is the same Smith who usually votes with Republican Senate leaders, champions Bush tax cuts and -- until December -- firmly supported the administration's Iraq policy.
    The firmest position Gordon Smith takes is his finger being firmly positioned in the wind during an election cycle. Meanwhile, Blue Oregon wonders why Gordon Smith's campaign committee is based in Virginia instead of, say, Oregon.

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols has GOP state AG John Suthers conversing with national folks about a Senate bid. A nasty free-for-all CO-GOP Senate primary between former Reps. Scott McInnis and Bob Schaffer, state AG Suthers, CO Secretary of State Mike Coffman, and talk radio conservative Dan Caplis would be one of the most captivating electoral car wrecks in history. We'll have to wait and see who actually files papers as the months go on, but the Guru can dream, can't he?

  • North Carolina: BlueNC questions Elizabeth Dole's silence on the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

  • Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Texas Draft and NRSC Stagnation

  • Texas: Former Tom Delay opponent Richard Morrison ushers in the Draft Rick Noriega effort. There's even a Draft Rick Noriega blog. (Despite visual similarities, there's no association between that blog and the Guru's blog.) Morrison's post offers an impressive rundown of Noriega's background and experience.

  • Almost a month ago, the Guru highlighted how much more active the DSCC has been than the NRSC has. Well, here's a conservative blogger who agrees:

    Three months into the 2008 cycle, one indicator of attention to detail and overall competence strongly suggests that Chuck Schumer`s DSCC will once again throttle the NRSC just as it did in the last cycle. ...

    By contrast, the NRSC`s site looks as it might have the day after last year`s elections. ... Frankly, one might think that the page had been abandoned completely. ...

    Stick to contributing to individual campaigns, because anything that goes to the NRSC is money down the drain.
    A ringing endorsement, indeed. The conservative wing of the blogosphere is already wary of the NRSC. NRSC Chair Ensign has inherited the most futile job in politics.

  • Friday, March 16, 2007

    Talk Now, Results Eventually

    Looking forward to the weekend:

  • WaPo's Cillizza this morning put out his most recent Senate Line. Of the 10 most likely seats to switch parties, in Cillizza's ranking, 7 are GOP and 3 are Dem. On a potential GOP Senate primary in Colorado, Cillizza has it right on:

    Given Colorado's relatively rapid transformation from a red to blue state and the dismal national political environment for Republicans, this may not be a nomination worth having.
    My only gripe with the list is Iowa's inclusion at the 10-spot, which I think may have been Cillizza's attempt at a little more partisan balance. I doubt that a majority of in-the-know Senate spectators would say Tom Harkin's seat is more vulnerable than, say, Elizabeth Dole's seat. Also, with the heat on Pajamas Pete Domenici regarding the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, I would have ranked New Mexico higher than ninth. But overall a solid list.

  • New Mexico: Speaking of Pajamas Pete Domenici and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, Pajamas Pete is taking some heat from the editorial page of the Albuquerque Tribune:

    Domenici's and Wilson's constituents deserve better than to be hustled by those who have made an art out of pointing fingers at the other party.

    Wouldn't it be refreshing if they acknowledged they had crossed an ethical line and threw themselves on the mercy of Congress and their New Mexico constituents? Unfortunately, it looks like they're headed in the other direction.

    Domenici already has retained legal counsel - one of the top political defense attorneys in Washington. He may well know what he is up against if an ethics investigation comes to fruition.
    It will be interesting to see if any power plays occur among the NM-GOP to get Domenici to step aside. It would help pressure Domenici if a top-line Democrat, say Rep. Tom Udall, announced a campaign for the seat, forcing Domenici to step up or step aside, more likely the latter. (Hat tip: MissLaura)

  • Minnesota: MN Blue has Smilin' Norm Coleman hemming and hawing on calls for an Alberto Gonzales resignation.

  • Bush thinks the GOP will win back control of the Senate in 2008. Thanks W, I needed a laugh.
  • Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Thursday Night News

    Lots of late-night reading for you:

  • AP reports: Senate GOP turns back Iraq pullout plan. Among the Senators voting against a "joint resolution to revise United States policy on Iraq": Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Liddy Dole (R-NC), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Sununu (R-NH), and John Warner (R-VA). I'm sure they'd appreciate it if you didn't mention it to their constituents.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire illustrates how out of step Sprintin' John Sununu is with the voters of the Granite State on environmental issues.

  • Tennessee: Political Insider notes that Harold Ford's contract with Fox News has an out clause should he run for Senate in 2008. Why would he need that? Hmmmmm...

  • Nebraska: Jon Bruning really can't control himself. Chuck Hagel offers his non-announcement and Bruning establishes an exploratory committee, should Hagel eventually step aside. Is it an indication that Bruning has inside info that Hagel will retire, or does he really just lack restraint?

  • Bluegrass Report has Kentucky GOP Senators and Tennessee GOP Senators getting into a bit of a tiff.

  • Big Thursday Morning Rundown

    Lots of reading:

  • Virginia: Felix Macaca Allen has the rumor mill churning, holding a meeting to gauge support for a 2008 Senate run if John Warner retires. Hmmm, a possible Mark Warner-George Allen match-up... who would win? The former Senator who lost his re-election bid after countless embarrassing gaffes and improprieties and had only a 50-46 approve-disapprove last November or the popular former Governor who left office with an approval rating over 80%?

  • Nebraska: The Daily Show made fun of Chuck Hagel's non-announcement. Now Hagel is getting ribbed by NPR of all places:

    It was everything a political junkie could ask for. For weeks, Washington had been on tenterhooks, awaiting word from the senior senator from Nebraska about his political future. Would the conservative Republican, who opposes President Bush on the Iraq war, jump into the race for the White House? Would he run as an independent? Would he simply seek re-election to a third Senate term? Or would he retire from politics altogether? Hagel let it be known that he would address his future plans at an Omaha news conference.

    And then came the magical moment. Chuck Hagel on March 12, 2007: "I'm here today to announce that my family and I will make a decision on my political future later this year."

    Talk about flashbacks! It reminded many of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, or President Reagan's demand that Mikhail Gorbachev "tear down that wall." Dramatic stuff.
    Dramatic stuff indeed. Gotta love a little NPR sarcasm.

  • North Carolina: The News & Observer calls out Elizabeth "The Chair" Dole for waffling:

    Champions of military airfields often call jet noise "the sound of freedom." The sound Tar Heels are hearing from their U.S. senators right now is the sound of hemming and hawing. Better that Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr would take a stand on the Navy's plan for an airfield in Eastern North Carolina.
    Heaven forbid Dole actually take a stand and show some leadership on something, anything. Hat tip: BlueNC, which offers further thoughts.

  • Idaho: mcjoan at DKos offers this tidbit on Larry Craig's increasingly loud retirement rumors:

    Shoring up the retirement rumors is something I heard this week from a very well-connected Idaho politico, who heard it from an even more connected pol--one with inroads to the GOP. His sources say Craig is retiring and now it's just a matter of when: now, so that current Lt. Gov. Risch can be named to replace him, or at the end of his term. That would potentially create an intra-party fight for who gets to run for the seat. The two most often mentioned potentials are Rep. Mike Simpson (ID-02), and Risch who got a taste of glory filling in as state executive when former governor Dirk Kempthorne was named Interior Secretary, but is now back to second chair.
    mcjoan also references an upcoming Craig fundraiser, meaning that maybe Craig is just keeping his options open. Either way, the Craig whispers are getting louder. Maybe it's almost time for a Retirement Watch, Part 2.

  • New Hampshire: WaPo's Cillizza calls Sprintin' John Sununu out for political opportunism in his Gonzales announcement:

    On Wednesday, Sen. John Sununu (N.H.) became the first Republican senator to call on President Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over the Justice Department's dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys last year.

    It's no coincidence that Sununu is up for reelection next November in New Hampshire, a state that tossed out its two Republican congressmen in the 2006 election and went for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

    Sununu knows that to win next year he must find ways to differentiate himself from President Bush and the Republican Party in the minds of voters. It's a task that faces not only Sununu but also Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.) -- all of whom will stand for reelection in states Kerry won in 2004.
    These Senators should collectively be called the U.S. Senate's "third basemen" the way they dive to the left in election years.

  • Texas: Kos lets loose that a Draft State Representative Rick Noriega for Senate effort will come underway soon. Hopefully this will spur other TX-Dems to activity as well. Meanwhile, Burnt Orange Report highlights John Cornyn's votes "Against a Safe America."

  • Minnesota: MN Campaign Report highlights more advocacy groups keeping a close eye on Smilin' Norm Coleman for his opposition to veterans and questionable positions on the Iraq War.

  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Of the Days

  • Nebraska: Characterization of the Day:

    “He wants to wait, that means we'll wait,” Bruning said, grimacing.
    -Nebraska state AG Jon Bruning "grimacing" as he ponders having to put his Senate ambitions on hold a little a longer as Chuck Hagel prolongs his formal decision on 2008 plans.

  • DSCC Video Alert of the Day:

    DSCC Warns GOP Senators Against Opposing Change Of Course In Iraq
    As debate on Iraq apparently gears back up in the Senate, the McConnell Republicans should know that their constituents are keeping a close eye on them.

  • Headline of the Day:

    GOP put 'power over principle,' McCain says
    Can't say I disagree with that sentiment.

  • Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Tuesday Round-Up

    Internet connection issues should be sorted out by tomorrow; in the meantime:

  • South Dakota: On the topic of Senate nicknames, Tim Johnson should be dubbed Senator Badass for his remarkable recovery.

  • Nebraska: Chuck Hagel non-announcement fall-out: GOP would-be successors drool, while Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey offers the most sensible response; The Daily Show mocks Hagel's non-announcement; and, WaPo's Cillizza highlights Hagel's earlier term limits comments and offers the most succinct summary of a Hagel-free Nebraska Senate race:

    Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, who served as Nebraska governor from 1998 until 2005, would be the party's first choice. Rep. Lee Terry, state Attorney General Jon Bruning, former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub and 2006 Senate nominee Pete Ricketts have also voiced varying levels of interest in running but all would likely step aside if Johanns runs.

    The picture is far clearer for Democrats. Omaha Mike Fahey is regarded by many within the party as the only candidate capable of making this race competitive. Fahey said last month that he would consider running for the seat if it came open and has huddled with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to discuss a bid.
    I guess we'll have to sit and wait for Hagel's next (non-)announcement.

  • Minnesota: A month ago, a SUSA poll came out that showed commentator Al Franken down 20 points on Republican Norm Coleman. I wasn't concerned. Lots of time between now and Election Day, I said. I also said I would have preferred a ten-point deficit at this point. Well, a Rasmussen Reports poll just came out showing, what?, a 10-point deficit. Coleman up 46-36 means: A) a significantly smaller deficit; and B) Coleman is under 50, dangerous for any incumbent. The over-arching point is: there's lots of time left and polls will go up and down. But, clearly, Coleman is tremendously vulnerable. If it's not Franken, it'll be Mike Ciresi or another solid Dem - but Coleman is in bad shape.

  • North Carolina: WaPo's Cillizza asks "How vulnerable is Sen. Dole?" Cillizza notes a GOP poll that has Dole at 63-25 approval-disapproval and a Dem poll that has Dole at 49-46 excellent/good-fair/poor. Which is more accurate? I'd go with the Dems. Because I'm partisan? Nope - because I have more than an ounce of common sense (more than the pollsters offering the 63-25 numbers, anyway). Survey USA has Dole at 52-40 and Dole only garners 45% against Rep. Bob Etheridge and that Dole loses 44-41 in a poll against Governor Mike Easley. In short, anyone who truly believes that more than 60% of North Carolina voters approve of Liddy Dole's job performance should be rapidly treated for their major case of the crazies.

  • New Mexico: CQ Politics takes a look at the political implications of the Domenici scandal and seems to suggest that, if Domenici does not run for re-election, a Rep.-Rep. face-off between Tom Udall (D) and Steve Pearce (R) could result. I would be thrilled with that match-up. Let's see Pearce defend to the voters of New Mexico his votes against raising the minimum wage, implementing the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, or taking steps to lower prescription drug costs.

  • New Hampshire: MyDD's Singer tears Sprintin' John Sununu up for demonstrating through his votes that he feels "corporate interests should trump homeland security." Juxtapose that with the headline "Mayor's Senate run gains steam" highlighting Mayor Steve Marchand's campaign.

  • Monday, March 12, 2007

    Monday Round-Up

    A spotty internet connection today, so only a throng of quick hits:

  • Nebraska: The most anti-climactic press conference of 2007 so far saw Chuck Hagel announce today that he hasn't made a final decision on a Presidential run and that "he would actively raise money for a Senate re-election bid in 2008." I wonder how Hagel feels about term limits and becoming "institutionalized" now?

  • New Mexico: On this past Sunday's Face the Nation, Senator Specter suggests that Pajamas Pete Domenici is very much on his investigative radar screen:

    SPECTER: I'm concerned about what happened in Nex Mexico. I'm concerned about what...

    SCHIEFFER: That's where you had this US attorney fired because some there said that he--he should've been more diligent in filing corruption charges against some Democrats. Go ahead.

    SPECTER: Well, that's right, and there were some telephone calls made.
    Pajamas Pete is probably running low on friends these days.

  • Kentucky: Bluegrass Report announces some fun news. A new website dedicated to "a commonwealth united to defeat Mitch McConnell" is live: Ditch Mitch KY. Awesome!

  • Texas: Burnt Orange Report rips on John Cornyn.

  • New Hampshire: Kos offers commentary on John Sununu's Club for Growth endorsement:

    Sununu is shaping up to be the Rick Santorum of 2008 -- wildly out of sync with the changing trends of his constituents.
    Sounds right to me. The Guru offered some thoughts on the CfG endorsement a couple weeks back.