Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday Round-Up

  • Dick Lugar and John Warner, whose rhetoric recently have been critical of Bush's "strategy" in Iraq, offered that Bush should seek a new war authorization and present a new plan in October that includes troop drawdown. Good or bad, it's something of substance, to draw a distinction with disingenuous Senators seeking only political posturing, like Pete Domenici and Susan Collins.

  • Louisiana: Today brings more documented lying by David Vitter about his frequenting prostitutes and more Republican apologists. But there's more. First, it turns out that, in 2002, on a radio show, David Vitter was asked about a specific prostitute by name and unequivocally called the rumors lies. (HT: Daily Kingfish) Turns out Vitter was the liar. Smacks of Duke Cunningham's dishonest denial firm denials followed by tearful admissions of guilt. Then you have another Republican making apologies, this time Jim DeMint who refuses to judge Vitter because DeMint does not want that kind of scrutiny. I wonder why.

    But what takes the cake is E.J. Dionne's column in WaPo, recognizing both Vitter's immorality and Vitter's hypocrisy, and still saying Vitter should be let off the hook because we need to respect the wall between public and private lives. In this, I respectfully disagree with Booman and wholeheartedly agree with Carpetbagger. Vitter and his fellow "family values" moralists are the ones instructing the rest of us what is moral and what isn't and that our private lives are up for public debate and judgment. Further, Vitter himself inserted his family into the public sphere by having his wife and kids star in his campaign commercials. Vitter has invited every bit of scrutiny he has received. And the thing of it is that all anybody is suggesting is that Vitter be held to the very same standard to which he himself has urged for other politicians, discussing things like "moral fitness to govern." And all of that is before even getting to the fact that soliciting a prostitute is a crime and, as much as some Republicans might scoff at the notion, the rule of law still applies to them. Anybody know the statutes of limitations in Washington D.C. and Louisiana on soliciting?

    On the lighter side, Letterman and Leno are having their fun with Vitter, doing a better job than the mainstream media of highlighting Vitter's hypocrisy:

    "Well now more problems with this Vitter guy. You gotta go on his website, he's like Mr. Religious, Mr. Family Values. Well now a second madam has come forward and told the Associated Press that he was also a customer at her brothel. This guy was cheating on his hooker with another hooker." --Jay Leno ...

    "They have prostitutes in Washington D.C., and it now turns out that senators and congressmen and important, powerful people are dating the prostitutes. ... And there's a senator from Louisiana, David Vitter, admitted he's been dating prostitutes. And he was very generous with one girl, he paid her with a new highway project in her home state. ... One thing I'll say for this guy from Louisiana, this David Vitter, at least he went to a professional and left the congressional pages alone." --David Letterman
    (HT: Rhode Island's Future)

  • Kentucky: Speaking of dishonest Republicans, Mitch McConnell outright lied on CNN suggesting that Kentuckyians "overwhelmingly" support the Iraq War when, in fact, 59% oppose the surge and almost two-thirds favor pulling out by mid-2008. Further, DMKY offers another compilation of broadly supported initiatives obstructed by the McConnell Republicans.

  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham could have several primary challengers, it's looking like. The Associated Press reports:

    At least two political newcomers plan to run against the state's senior senator when he seeks a second term in 2008. Also, state Rep. Jeff Duncan and former U.S. Rep. Tommy Hartnett said Friday they are considering entering the race. ...

    Graham's support of the failed immigration proposal has drawn criticism from many within the GOP. "I would say that was the substantial issue," said Greenville computer specialist Tim Carnes, 49, who plans to run against Graham. ...

    Also in the race is John Cina, a retired Air Force veteran from Summerville, and Gary McLeod, a perennial candidate for the 6th Congressional District.

    Cina, 59, said he has no political experience. He served 33 years in the military and has talked about running against Graham since January.
    These names are in addition to names already being discussed including SC-GOP Chair Katon Dawson and Ambassador and former state Speaker of the House David Wilkins. Of the lot, it's suggested that Dawson would give Graham the toughest challenge, but an Ambassador or former Congressman would certainly offer some weight. At the very least, a few primary challengers would offer three benefits, even in electoral defeat: 1) it would force Graham to spend some of his bankroll; 2) it would offer a steady stream of anti-Graham barbs; and 3) it could deflate GOP enthusiasm for Graham in a general election, all softening him up for a viable Democrat like Robert Barber Jr. for instance.

  • New Hampshire: A new Concord Monitor poll has popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen trouncing Senator John Sununu 56-34, with Shaheen's approval at 55% and Sununu's at only 43%. While the lesser known candidates, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, activist Katrina Swett, and professor/astronaut Jay Buckey, all hold Sununu to under 50%, all three see significant gaps to overcome between themselves and Sununu. (HT: Blue Hampshire)

  • Virginia, Nebraska & Idaho: Hotline On Call looks at the 2Q fundraising figures of three Senators on Retirement Watch. Most notable is John Warner who, while topping his $500 Q1, was still firmly in retirement zone, bringing in just $71,000, $60,000 of which was from PACs. It is unfathomable that he is really considering a re-election bid. Larry Craig's $200,000 Q2 suggests that he may be keeping his options open (or just doing the minimum to stave off more obvious retirement speculation). Chuck Hagel's $388,000 Q2 is not chump change, but a far cry from primary-opponent-in-waiting state AG Jon Bruning's more than $700,000 raised in Q2.

  • New Jersey: Speaking of fundraising, Senator Frank Lautenberg took in a healthy $1.1 million in Q2.

  • Texas: Hustling to compensate for atrocious approval ratings, John Cornyn reportedly took $2.1 million in Q2.

  • Oregon: Gordon Smith reports raising just over $1 million in Q2. Meanwhile, the Rothenberg Political Report suggests that the 2008 Senate race in Oregon could come down to whether or not Oregonians are willing to vote for a Republican and whether that Republican more closely represents George W. Bush or "the maverick style of former Oregon GOP senators Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood." I think Smith's wishy-washiness on Iraq, his role in SalmonGate, and a host of other issues might play a factor, too. Also, Blue Oregon's Alworth offers part two of his three-part series on state House Speaker and possible Senate candidate Jeff Merkley, this part focusing on Merkley's career before the Speakership.

  • The DSCC has a YouTube page up with lots of terrific videos and ads. Take a look.


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