Domenici and Smith Continue to Sweat
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)
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.