Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday Rundown

  • Senator Jim Webb's amendment to insure more rest for our troops fighting in Iraq in Afghanistan came to a vote of 56 yeas and only 44 nays. So, of course, it failed because Republicans blocked it with their obstructionist tactics requiring 60 votes to pass. Once again, Republican Senators screw over the troops. Amongst those screwing over the troops were: Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, John Cornyn, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, and Ted Stevens.

  • Nebraska: I have been thinking a lot about the NRSC's plans to offer a sleazy attack against former Senator Bob Kerrey for having worked out-of-state running a university for the last few years, even though Mike Johanns also left Nebraska, and ditched his gubernatorial office midway through his term, to serve as George W. Bush's Secretary of Agriculture. But Johanns was called on by his President to serve, one might say. But if the call to service is so strong and so noble, why is he now ditching that service only a little more than a year before Bush's term expires? It's not like Nebraska will stop having Senate races. But it's not just that Johanns is ditching his service as Agriculture Secretary - he's also leaving very high priorities dangling in midair:

    “Just to take a walk in the middle of a farm bill that only happens once every five years, it borders on irresponsible,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told reporters Wednesday. He said Johanns should stay at his post until work concludes on a 2007 farm bill that was approved in the House but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

    “I do think that as the head of the Department of Agriculture, the most responsible thing for him would be to stay with it until we’ve got it across the finish line,” said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who like Conrad is a member of the Agriculture Committee. The current farm bill expires at the end of this month. ...

    “It’s always helpful that if you sign on for a job, that you complete the job,” said [former Rep. Charles] Stenholm, who is now a lobbyist on agriculture issues. “If you punt in the third quarter, that can hurt you.”
    That's not partisan leaders Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid calling Johanns "irresponsible" - it's Kent Conrad, as moderate and non-partisan-minded a Senator as you can find. Also, Ben Nelson has demonstrated that he will come out swinging against Johanns:

    Mike Johanns appears ready to “quit his job while farmers and ranchers need him most” so he can pursue political office, Sen. Ben Nelson said in launching the initial artillery barrage.

    “This is a critical juncture for agriculture with the new farm bill not completed,” the Democratic senator said.

    “This is a tough time for farmers and ranchers, and they shouldn’t take a back seat to elections and politics.”
    The current farm bill expires in just one month, and the Secretary of Agriculture resigns to pursue another ambition. It doesn't speak too highly of the call to service that led Johanns to quit his gubernatorial service in the middle of a term to go serve as Bush's Agriculture Secretary. If the call to service was so high, he'd at least see the farm bill through to completion. It's not like Johanns couldn't resign afterward and then campaign for office.

  • New Mexico: Expect another round of bad press for Pajamas Pete Domenici:

    The US Senate Select Committee on Ethics has stepped up its probe of Pete Domenici, the Republican senator from New Mexico, who allegedly pressured David Iglesias, the former US attorney in that state, to return an indictment against a local Democratic official who was the target of a corruption investigation prior to the 2006 midterm elections. ...

    According to some senior staffers working for lawmakers who sit on the Ethics Committee, the six-month preliminary investigation into Domenici has turned up enough evidence to open a formal, public investigation into the New Mexico senator, having determined that Domenici acted inappropriately and that he may have violated Senate Ethics rules when he called [former U.S. Attorney David] Iglesias to ask whether [former state senator Manny] Aragon would be indicted before the state's voters went to the polls last year.
    It's about time. Now if the Senate Ethics Committee could only get to that giant pile of files on Ted Stevens.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling has released its latest data (FYI: in PDF format). In a match-up with no additional information, Elizabeth Dole beats State Representative Grier Martin 45-30 (Dole still can't get to 50% in any poll!), but when just a brief, four-sentence description of Martin is given, Martin beats Dole 47-40. Imagine if Grier Martin were to enter the race and offer voters more than just four sentences! Further, the PPP results found that Dole's approve-disapprove stands at 45-40 and that former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith even matches up well against Dole, starting out down only 41-35. Dole's vulnerability and Martin's potential are both clearly demonstrated.

  • Georgia: An Insider Advantage poll puts Saxby Chambliss' approve-disapprove at a shocking 39-29. While I still think Chambliss may be the second safest Republican up in 2008, after Mike Enzi, it does warm my heart a little to see the despicable Chambliss under 40%.

  • Maine: We remember from yesterday that Olympia Snowe voted in favor of restoring habeas corpus rights while Susan Collins opted to spit on the Constitution, the rule of law, and due process. Well, Collins seems pretty miffed at Snowe for not giving her a heads up that Snowe wouldn't be provding Collins with much-needed political cover. Seriously, how cowardly is Susan Collins?! "Susan Collins" truly is the polar opposite of "leadership." Meanwhile, Collins Watch makes some terrific observations on Bangor Daily News' double-standard when reporting on Collins versus reporting on Congressman Tom Allen.

  • South Dakota: Is ultra-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds under investigation? That would probably keep him from running for Senate, not that he's publicly shown any interest as of yet.

  • New Hampshire: Katrina Swett is expected to withdraw from the 2008 Senate race tomorrow and endorse popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. With about a million dollars in her campaign account, it would be quite the show of goodwill for Swett to make a sizable contribution to the DSCC to help Senate candidates around the country.

  • Texas: Baseline numbers are out for the TX-Sen race. According to Rasmussen Reports, John Cornyn leads State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega 53-30 and leads attorney Mikal Watts 52-28. Not a bad starting point with Cornyn just a bit over 50% and with two guys that a vast majority of Texans probably have never heard of before at about 30%. Meanwhile, Cornyn introduced a Senate resolution criticizing for name-calling. Great use of Senate time and resources. Cornyn still hasn't called for the resignation of CENTCOM Chief Admiral William Fallon for doing the same thing. Cornyn's political grandstanding also rings hollow as he and most Republicans voted against an amendment to the resolution condemning all attacks on military figures. I guess Republicans want to retain that right in the future, should it politically benefit them. Hypocrites.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Actually, the entire Senate voted by unanimous consent to put the threshold for votes at 60, not just the Republicans.

    And I've already given my thoughts on PPP's flawed, biased, and unreliable polling.

    2:19 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Tex Sen '08 said...

    Texas Monthly's Paul Burka has some interesting analysis of these numbers.

    With these numbers, Texas isn't in play unless (1) something unexpected happens or (2) the playing field shifts in such a dramatic way that a Dem tsunami grabs 13 or 14 seats.

    11:45 PM, September 20, 2007  
    Blogger Small Tent Democrat said...

    The Texas poll numbers are crushing to Rick Noriega's hopes in Texas.

    Noriega's a five term legislator and Cornyn leads him by 23%.

    Watts has never held public office and Cornyn leads him by 24%.

    Noriega is a notoriously poor fund raiser (except when Bob "Swift Boat" Perry is cutting the checks) so he can't fix this gap.

    Watts is a good fund raiser and supports birth control, stem cell research, public school sex education, judges who follow the current law, and abortion but only in the cases of a threat to the woman's health and rape so he won't win the nomination despite being progressive on other issues. He'll lose the nomination over this issue.

    I've been hoping Lloyd Doggett, Senfronia Thompson, Barbara Radnofsky, or some good Democrat would run, but we're stuck with Mikal "can't win the primary" Watts or Rick "can't win the general" Noriega.

    11:42 PM, September 21, 2007  

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