Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday Giant Rundown

  • Charlie Cook says what we're all thinking - that 2008 will be bad for the Senate GOP. Cook concludes with: "It appears that McConnell was right. The way this is playing out, Republicans would be very lucky to break even in the Senate next year." The Christian Science Monitor agrees. Heck, even Dick Morris thinks so!

  • Idaho: Larry Craig's day in court over rescinding his guilty plea will take place on September 26 at 1:30pm. He needs a favorable day here if he is to even consider not resigning. (HT: Carpetbagger)

  • Virginia: The Virginian-Pilot reports that we can expect popular former Governor Mark Warner to enter the 2008 Senate race tomorrow. (HT: PW) Meanwhile, perhaps discouraged by recent horrible poll numbers for Senate GOP aspirants, Republicans are already concerned about their chances in the 2008 Virginia Senate race and are looking for alternatives to Jim Gilmore and Tom Davis:

    Some in the party have expressed concern about Davis’s centrism and Gilmore’s chances.

    At the top of their list is Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Sources close to Cantor did not return calls, but a senior GOP aide said Cantor is waiting to see how the field of candidates shapes up.
    A little early for this, no? They must be really worried.

  • Alaska: In an editorial from last week, USA Today nutshells why Ted Stevens should be stripped of his committee posts:

    Even so, his senior position on the Senate Appropriations Committee means that he helps set the budget for the Justice Department, the FBI and the IRS, all of which are investigating him. Despite this obvious conflict of interest, Stevens has declined to step aside from his committee post, and McConnell won't push him.
    An obvious conflict on interest, not that it's a concern to the McConnell Republicans in the Senate. (HT: NJDC) But why is this especially critical? Because more evidence damning Stevens continues to pour out:

    During a secret meeting to discuss what prosecutors say was a dirty deal to keep Alaska oil taxes low, two oil contractors said they had a powerful ally coming to town who could help build support for the plan: Sen. Ted Stevens.

    The FBI played a videotape of the 2006 meeting Tuesday in a corruption trial against former Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott, who is accused of taking gifts and favors in exchange for supporting oil interests.
    A powerful ally, indeed. Stevens should be taken off of Appropriations immediately until the conclusion of the many ongoing investigations into his dealings.

  • Maine: The Bangor Daily News finally calls Susan Collins out for using Senate resources for political purposes:

    The Allen campaign has charged that Collins, a Republican, is using her Senate office staff for campaign functions, such as making statements to reporters that support Collins the candidate and denounce her critics.
    We know that Collins' Senate staff has used their Senate computers to update Collins' Wikipedia profile to appear more politically palatable. And we know that Collins' taxpayer-funded Senate Chief of Staff has been quarterbacking her political battles with Maine Democrats. It seems pretty clear that Senate resources are being used by the Collins camp for political purposes. Sounds like we need a Senate Ethics investigation to formally determine if Collins is breaking the rules.

  • Louisiana: Wendy Cortez, who prostitute-lovin' David Vitter had a four-month relationship with in 1999 while he was a married father and state legislator talking about family values, was seeing Vitter "two or three times" a week. Further, given the timing of the phone records, she is different from the hookers Vitter patronized from the DC Madam. So there's even more. Stay tuned for further developments (unless Vitter wants to come clean and put it all on the table).

  • Nebraska: Chuck Hagel's retirement has led CQPolitics to change their NE-Sen rating from "Safe Republican" to "Leans Republican." Should former Senator Bob Kerrey enter the race, don't be surprised if NE-Sen flirts with "Toss-up." Meanwhile, former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub's planned statement on the 2008 Senate race has been delayed by a death in the family. Our condolences go out to the Daub family.

  • Misplaced Senate Republican priorities? Dick Burr of North Carolina has been named as Larry Craig's replacement as ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Correct me if I'm wrong, but neither Burr's official bio nor his Wikipedia page mention any military service. Shouldn't Republicans have, perhaps, named a veteran to be ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee?

  • SSP's James L. offers another interesting post: names we're still waiting to hear from who can impact Senate races around the country.

  • Republican Senators try to find new ways to say nothing and take credit for things they didn't do.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Its not a matter of being worried in Virginia. Its really quite simple: Members of the party don't like Tom Davis's moderate voting record, and know that Jim Gilmore is a joke, so they're trying to coax in a viable conservative alternative, a la Eric Cantor. Given Cantor's leadership position and Davis's all-but-announced candidacy, I doubt Cantor would go for it. However, contrary to your spin, its not "early" for this at all; in fact, the time before anyone officially announces is the best time to float out different names. It would be much more problematic if this sort of story happened in, say, May of next year.

    1:24 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger Scott said...

    The USA Today piece seems extraordinary. Do they regularly call out politicians that way? It seems to me that they do it less than some of the other major dailies - and their wording is really quite strong.

    As to Burr - I can see how it would be politically smart to name a veteran as the ranking member of Veterans Affairs, but as a general role that's a wee bit silly. I mean should only farmers head Agriculture, bankers head Finance and diplomats head Foreign Relations?

    As to VA - why on Earth would Cantor run in VA? He's already a major played in the House after a few terms. He could be Speaker one day. Why risk that in a statewide run against Mark Warner? If the state party is already floating that they look pretty desperate.

    1:30 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Scott - The USA Today piece definitely seems more vociferous than their typical fare. I think it demonstrates that the GOP Culture of Corruption is firmly setting its roots in 2008 and even fairly sanitized media like USA Today is taking notice.

    As for Burr and Veterans Affairs, I'd suggest your analogy isn't wholly accurate. The Ag Committee isn't about the well-being of farmers - it's about the health of the ag industry. Finance is about economics, not the well-being of financiers. And Foreign Relations is about diplomacy, not the well-being of diplomats. However, Veterans Affairs is specifically about the well-being of veterans. This is a special case in which fitting the role would be helpful (like when Ben Nighthorse Campbell headed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee).

    3:18 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger BruinKid said...

    For your consideration, I did a ranking of all the 2008 Senate races, ranked by tier.

    5:43 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    That's actually a pretty reasonable look at the races, which is quite a rarity for liberal blogs. Good job.

    One minor quibble, though; when you're talking about the money disparity between Schaffer and Udall in Colorado, it is important to note that Udall has been running for the seat (and is currently in federal office) since 2005, where Schaffer began raising money halfway through the 2nd quarter, and raised close to $700K in six weeks, which is incredible. While the 3rd Quarter reports will help shake out the money situation a lot better, I wouldn't be so quick to say that Udall has a fundraising advantage over Schaffer.

    6:36 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    va blogger - Your persistently sniveling and condescending tone toward the "liberal blogosphere" doesn't bolster your arguments one iota, so you'd be well served to check your high horse in at the saloon doors.

    10:21 PM, September 12, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    VA Blogger... I have posted all over this site and I guess I have to do it again because you have not responded to it... Tom Davis votes with the Christian Coalation (the home of right wing wack job, Pat Robertson) 70% of the time... this is not a moderate voting record no matter how you spin it... Tom Davis' relationship with the agenda of Pat Robertson will be publicized...

    11:31 PM, September 12, 2007  

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