Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Tidbits

  • Oklahoma: Does the Senate Ethics Committee have to open up an investigation to see if Jim Inhofe was doing the bidding of one of his biggest donors when he recently tried to sabotage open access legislation? I think so.

  • Idaho: Former Congressman and current Senate candidate Larry LaRocco is offering clear, decisive positions on Iraq. And what does Republican Jim Risch have to respond with?

    The almost-certain Republican candidate for the Senate seat, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, declined to respond to LaRocco’s statements. His son and press director, Jason Risch, said, “We’re not running against Larry LaRocco. Until there is a primary and nominations, we won’t be making any comments.”
    Ummm, Jim, forget about responding to Larry LaRocco. How about offering a comment on - what's that called? - Iraq. You know, you should have a position on it - it might come up during the campaign, and you might actually have to comment on it, even before the primary election, tedious as that might be for you.

  • North Carolina: Rumors suggest that we should plan on State Senator Kay Hagan entering the 2008 Senate race to unseat absentee Elizabeth Dole. Stay tuned.

  • Virginia: Want another reason why Mark Warner will trounce Jim Gilmore? Look at this quote by Gilmore's spokesman upon Tom Davis' withdrawal from consideration for a 2008 Senate bid (emphasis added by me):

    Dick Leggitt, a spokesman for Gilmore, praised Davis for his service to the people of the 11th District but said "it is apparent that the Republican Party prefers a candidate who contrasts with Mark Warner on the issues, instead of echoing Mark Warner's positions."
    Is it just me, or does that quote by the Gilmore spokesman seem awfully antagonistic toward Davis? Gilmore got what he wanted - a clear path to the nomination and an ostensibly united VA-GOP; and, still, his spokesman takes shots at his partisan brethren. Meanwhile, Davis is peeved with the state and national GOP, perhaps peeved enough that he'll retire and give his House seat to the Democrats.

  • Louisiana: Oy. The Economist declares that Republican Bobby Jindal's 54% gubernatorial victory is a harbinger of doom for Senator Mary Landrieu's re-election bid next year. The article, of course, does not mention that, in the same election in which Republican Bobby Jindal took 54%, Democrat (and Senatorial brother) Mitch Landrieu took 57% in his Lieutenant Gubernatorial re-election. I wonder if The Economist is even aware of this.

  • New Mexico: Regarding Martin Chavez' recent comments, ditto what James says.

  • Vote for who you think is the scariest Republican Senator.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Maybe the reason why the Economist focused on the Governor's race and not the Lt. Governor's race is that the only people that believe that Mitch Landrieu's victory over non-serious challenger means anything are liberals who are trying to hopelessly prop up Mary Landrieu's chances and deflect Bobby Jindal's historic victory.

    These "spin battles" are always interesting to watch, especially when you get a no-name blogger who has a long record of being a partisan hack criticizing and asking if The Economist, one of the most renowned magainzes in the world, knows what its talking about. Yes, its sad for you that respected news sources don't share your worldview when it comes to politics. That doesn't make them wrong.

    1:24 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...


    I don't share Guru's worldview either, and perhaps the original posts have had more partisan language and spin than when I first started reading, but your comment was overly harsh. Guru can't be THAT insignificant of a blogger since you've been spending your otherwise valuable time commenting here.

    2:10 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Yet another edition of va blogger's "The facts aren't on my side, so I'll just attack the messenger."

    va blogger - The Economist's entire thesis was "Republican wins statewide race decisively - hence Landrieu is in trouble next year."

    The article did not mention that, hey, a Democrat - a Democrat named Landrieu no less - also won statewide decisively (more decisively at that) in the same race.

    That has nothing to do with my "worldview when it comes to politics" so you can lay off the attacking-the-messenger thing you so desperately rely on. It's about seeing the entire field.

    Nobody is disputing that Louisiana, overall, is shifting more Republican (due to a number of factors), so dry your tears. My only point in today's blurb on Louisiana is that Jindal's win alone cannot be a signal of Senator Landrieu's impending doom if Lt. Gov. Landrieu won just as big as Jindal did.

    Not a spin battle, not a partisan attack, just a very simple look at actual facts, as anathema to you as that may be.

    2:14 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Sean said...

    Chavez's comments were dead on Udall is way too liberal for New Mexico, and we'll be happy to use those comments in campaign commercials should Udall reconsider.

    3:06 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    Good to see you around VAB, have not seen you for a while. I'll agree that Mitch did not have much opposition but then what tier would you put the candidates for Governor that ran against Jindal? If he had beaten Breaux with 54% I think it would rightly be since as historic. As it is it is bad news for Democrats and bad news for Landrieu but I don't think the race is over yet. No matter how respected the Economist is (and I love it) journalists do make mistakes and it is fair for the Guru to ask why the article does not deal with the Lt. Gov race even if only to dismiss it on the basis you sugest.

    Do you agree with the Guru's take on Virginia. Does the Gilmore camps response indicate division in the party or was it just a poor choice of words by a spokesman?


    3:15 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    since = seen

    Guess there is something to be said for proof reading.

    3:16 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    johnny c - agreed completely. If Jindal had beaten Breaux by a very significant margin, then that's something and could be seen as a bad sign for Landrieu. In the big Louisiana picture, Boasso and Campbell aren't Breaux.

    3:28 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    VA-Who was Jindal's stiff competition that was going to beat him? He didn't have any. All the polls showed him not having to deal with a run-off. So to say Landreiu got off with no serious competition is misleading in the sense that Jindal didn't either.

    Sean-Udall has been elected statewide at least twice, when he served as AG of New Mexico. If you think he's too far left for New Mexico, they clearly disagree with you.

    S2008Guru-You have not responded to my comment that Denish created the federal PAC in June before anyone knew Domenici was retiring, so to hint at that being a signal toward a federal race instead of a state race was misleading. It appears as though you intended to be misleading if you don't even respond saying something along the lines of "My mistake"

    4:31 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Ummm... OK... ummm... "my mistake."

    (Though, jeremiah, I never said that it is a hint toward a federal race - I quite clearly ask if readers think it's a signal toward a federal race. While I should have asked if her stepping up her use of the PAC was a signal, rather than asking if its creation was a signal, I don't say that it is or isn't anything definitively. Do you see the difference? As such, you should at least admit that you made a mistake too, unless you want everyone to think that your comment was intentionally misleading.) :)

    4:49 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Jindal's opponents were decidedly second-tier, but with the amount of money, campaigning, and political experience that they had, they were above a Country Singer who was half-heartedly endorsed by the LA GOP for lack of a better candidate.

    Moreover, the Governor's masion is higher profile than the Lt. Governor's race, and no candidate has ever run the run-off outright for the position, making Jindal's already historic victory even moreso.

    Furthermore, as a Governor instead of a down-ballot position, Jindal will set the agenda for Louisiana politics. While its possible that he'll be ill-regarded, its more likely that Jindal will see his approval ratings soar, at least for the first two years of his term (see Charlie Crist and Sarah Palin, among several others, for examples). A positive Republican agenda, coupled with the national attention that Jindal gets, benefits the statewide party much more than Landrieu's predicted re-election does.

    I agree with you that Jindal's win alone does not spell trouble for Landrieu. There are already several factors in place that spell that out, including the fact that she'll be facing a top-tier opponent in John Kennedy instead of a bottom-of-the-barrell opponent like she did in '02. But when both local and national pundits agree that 10/20's results weren't good news for Mary Landrieu, perhaps they know what they're talking about, and its not just a matter of not doing their research.


    To answer your question about Gilmore, he wasn't trying to be divisive; its more of a side-effect that he doesn't bother avoiding. Gilmore further expanded on that point and said that he won statewide twice running on solid conservative credentials; therefore, he clearly is the best nominee for the Republican Party. His spokesperson's words were simply a parting shot at Davis. Either way, Jim Gilmore remains a douchebag who has no chance of beating Mark Warner.

    As the GOP Chairman of the VA-08 district said, "If the state party wants a Senate candidate that can compete with Mark Warner, we should keep looking around. If they want a candidate that'll win 39% of the vote, Jim Gilmore's their guy."

    5:00 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Sean said...

    Jeremiah, he was elected statewide before establishing an extremist record in Congress. Like most Democrats between the coast, the longer he can hide his ideology, the better off he is. Fortunately, he wouldn't be able to hide it any longer in a Senate race.

    5:09 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    "Could it be a signal that she is looking harder at running for federal (Senate) rather than state (Governor) office?"

    The answer is no. To ask your readers the answer to a factual question is rather redundant. Why did you even bother asking then? Again, you were hinting at a non-existant possibility, which makes your words misleading.


    What I said - "so to hint at that being a signal toward a federal race instead of a state race was misleading."

    You - "I never said that it is a hint toward a federal race... admit that you made a mistake too, unless you want everyone to think that your comment was intentionally misleading"

    You hinted at it being a signal toward a federal race, which is a non-existant possibility. I made that point in my first segment, that's what I said in my comment that you responded to. You misquoted me to try to turn this into a "JTM is the guy misleading people" discussion.


    You-"While I should have asked if her stepping up her use of the PAC was a signal"

    The article doesn't specify when she made or gave any of the contributions, it could have all happened in the first month for all we know. So you can't say that she is ramping up the use of her PAC when you don't know, unless you are using other sources you aren't quoting here. Again, misleading.


    Don't be a jackass about it now. You made a post of yours misleading, you misquoted me trying to make me look like the bad guy, and you posted misleading information again.

    5:23 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    sean-I should ask to argue back. Are you saying you would use Chavez' comments in a commercial for a Chavez vs. Udall primary race? or a Republican vs. Udall General race?

    "he was elected statewide before establishing an extremist record in Congress."

    His established extremist record clearly didn't hurt him in the recent polling for the senate race. Pearce also is known for being "too far to the right" for New Mexico. He also did stronger than Wilson in the polling. So either way, your arguement that it hurts Udall (or an extremist record hurting either candidate who have been said to have established one) doesn't hold up right now.

    If you are using it in a primary... It would hurt Chavez to say he's more towards the middle than Udall. Just look at what happened in VA. Davis was seen as the moderate, and his party booted his a$$ for the senate race.

    5:31 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Sean said...

    Jeremiah, I'm referring to the general. Udall hasn't faced serious opposition and has therefore been able to obscure his far left record from his constituents. In a Senate campaign, though, he'd have the curtain pulled up and New Mexicans would see the real Tom Udall.

    5:50 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    VA Blogger... I agree with you... Gilmore is a douchebag... can we also agree that Gilmore is a master of fiscal destruction?

    7:28 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    That "who's the scariest GOP Senator" video is hilarious.

    9:10 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    If I were Jindal I would be pissed off at all this talk of what a bad sign it is for Landrieu, since it is premissed on the idea that his strength as a candidate didn't have much to do with his victory. Face it, he is a formidable politician and Landrieu is lucky he chose the governor's race. But Kennedy is no Jindal, he's a party switcher who couldn't manage a third of the vote in his last Senate run. (I know we are supposed to believe no one in Louisiana cares about party switching, but I don't buy it. A smart politician could use evidence of naked opportunism against their opponent in any state.) Candidates matter (like, duh) and this was a GOP recruitment failure, plain and simple. THAT'S been the basis for much of our optimism about Landrieu (that plus the fact that she last was re-elected in a very Republican year) not just the fact her brother won re-election.

    10:53 PM, October 26, 2007  
    Blogger Danielle said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    1:09 AM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Considering Rove, Vitter, and the LA-GOP got who they wanted, I have no idea how, except for wishful thinking, you can consider Kennedy to be a "recruitment failure".

    1:10 AM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    VA - Kennedy already ran for senate, remember? In 2004 He had lackluster fundraising, which lead to him being an underdog only raising 1.8 million dollars. With that 1.8 million dollars, he didn't really get anywhere significant. What, wasn't he at 19%?

    Secretary of Treasury doesn't convert into power in a statewide race. It clearly did not help him in his first senate race.

    It's as the sleep said, (something you apparently missed) - "who couldn't manage a third of the vote in his last Senate run."

    12:24 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    He was running as part of a "three candidate strategy" where the Democrats put up several candidates to try and force Vitter into a run-off. When your strategy is banking on getting 20-25% of the vote at most, you can't really compare that to a head-to-head match-up.

    And since he was part of a three-candidate strategy, there wasn't a lot of money to help him out. Now, not only will he be able to raise more money, he'll get help from the national party since Louisiana is a viable pick-up.

    And I disagree that holding statewide office doesn't translate into power. Claire McCaskill was state Auditor, a race nowhere close to the top of the ballot, but it gave her enough viability to run against, and knock off, Jim Talent in 2006.

    The fact that David Vitter and Karl Rove went specifically after Kennedy, even before folks like Richard Baker and Jay Dardenne (who still hasn't ruled out a bid) passed on the race, shows that they either recognize his strength, or they know something you don't. Either way, when the GOP gets exactly who they want, that's not a "recruitment failure" by any stretch of the imagination.

    1:51 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    Stuart Rothenbery wrote in May, about Rove's attempts to recruit Kennedy: "Republican insiders see Landrieu as the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection next year, but with none of the GOP members of the Congressional delegation stepping up to the plate, party strategists are looking elsewhere." I'm not an expert on LA politics so I just have to believe what I read, but there is the grounds for my use of the term recruitment failure.

    2:18 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    Er, Rothenberg.

    2:20 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    John Kennedy has been recruited by Rove personally since before May, so I don't know what to tell you.

    At any rate, John Kennedy is:

    1) A statewide officeholder with high name ID

    2) A top-tier candidate

    3) The preferred candidate of the national party and David Vitter.

    Those three facts are indisputable. There is no way you can call netting Kennedy a "recruitment failure". A recruitment failure is something like the Democrats are facing in North and South Carolina. Hell, I wouldn't even call Oregon and New Mexico recruitment failures for the Democrats, and those two states are less likely to change hands than Louisiana. I don't know if you're just sticking your head in the sane or if you're desperate for any good news for Landrieu, but you're just flat-out wrong.

    2:53 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Actually VA, he was a part of a two candidate strategy. Democrats put up two candidates that actually got money for a campaign.

    Unless you think $67,214 (how much the fourth candidate spent) is enough to run a serious campaign and cut into David Vitter's vote.

    2:55 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger Glenn said...

    Running AGAINST a candidate, instead of running FOR (at least theoretically) the good of virginia?

    Well, that's what happens when you over-partisanize GOP internal politics.

    3:36 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - need I remind you that Treasurer Kennedy was the preferred candidate of Karl Rove and the GOP establishment after every single Republican Congressman in Louisiana made it clear that they weren't interested in a Senate bid - that may be the recruiting failure some are referring to.

    11:34 PM, October 27, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    First, its only "the sleep" who is referring to the get of a top-tier candidate as a "recruitment failure", unless you'd like to join him in putting your head in the sand.

    Second, while Congressmen make sometimes great Congressional candidates, that doesn't mean that they are better or worse than statewide office-holders. Especially in states that have more than a handful of Congressmen, their statewide strength is lessened a bit. Louisiana is on the cusp there with seven.

    Third, you don't know how long Rove et al. have been after Kennedy. Reports indicated as early as January of this year that Kennedy was interested in switching parties and running against Landrieu. Were those reports by Kennedy's own volition, or where they spurned in part or in whole by the efforts of the national party?

    Fourth, you're also wrong on just the facts; Richard Baker announced that he wasn't running a week after the news of Kennedy's meeting with Rove and Vitter was leaked.

    Here's the bottom line: John Kennedy is a top tier challenger, and Mary Landrieu is as vulnerable against him as she would be against any other candidate save Governor-elect Jindal. Furthermore, trying to sell this ridiculous spin that his candidacy is somehow a "recruitment failure", by your own standards, implies that Vivian Figures, Vernon Jones, Jim Slattery, Greg Stumbo, Fahey/Kleeb, Marty Chavez, Kay Hagan, Andrew Rice, Jeff Merkley, Mike McWherter, and Rick Noriega are also recruitment failures, as they are all candidates who got into the race after other, more viable candidates passed on the race.

    Even if you attempt to narrow the definition so it doesn't seem like Chuck Schumer failed in 11 states (plus South Carolina, Wyoming x2, and Mississippi), then the best example is Jeff Merkley, who got into the race only after every Democratic Congressman in Oregon passed, as well as John Kitzhaber. If you're argument, as weak as it is, is that Mary Landrieu has a great shot of winning re-election because several GOP Congressmen chose to run for re-election instead, then the same exact logic applies to Gordon Smith. Are you prepared to concede that Oregon won't be competitive? Or maybe you should realize that your "logic", whatever little of it remains, is deeply flawed and based on an inaccurate analysis of the situation.

    8:20 AM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - did you forget to take your Xanax? You seem to have blown a gasket.

    Are you asking me what represents a recruiting failure? Are you asking if specific individuals represent recruiting failures? Are you trying to paint any Democratic candidate who wasn't at one point a Governor as a recruiting failure?

    For example, in Oregon, not getting Blumenauer or DeFazio was a disappointment. But I think Speaker Merkley is a terrific get - not just because of his title but because he demonstrated through his orchestration of the Democratic takeover of the OR State House that he gets how to work with the grassroots to win elections across the state. To contrast, Alabama is just a big disappointment - Sparks would have made the race at least competitive, while Figures has been disturbingly silent.

    Are there other specific examples you're curious about? I'm sure Treasurer Kennedy is the single greatest politician in Louisiana history and will absolutely wipe the floor with Landrieu - to think otherwise is to "have my head in the sand" - but let's wait and see how he sounds once he opens his mouth. I expect that he'll be more of a challenge (in a vacuum) than Suzy Haik Terrell was - but 2008 is also a much better year for Democrats than 2002 was - even in Republican-shifting Louisiana. And while Jindal's victory showed that Jindal is popular, Mitch Landrieu's equally strong victory showed that the votes are there for Democrats named Landrieu running for re-election to statewide offices. We'll just have to wait and see. Of course it's tenuous given demographic shifts, but the race is still very much Lean Democratic instead of Toss-up until Treasurer Kennedy or polling demonstrates otherwise.

    3:54 PM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    S2G, yes, I'm asking you what constitutes a recruitment failure. The only possible way to defend such a preposterous claim is if your criteria for "failure" is not getting the top candidate in the race. John Kennedy is a top-tier candidate, and was sought after by the national party since at least the Spring and probably since before then. His candidacy, in no possible way, can be seen as a "recruitment failure". If you want to argue about something else, then that's fine, but you stuck your little head in to defend the ridiculous point raised by "the sleep", and now you're getting it from me.

    If you want to compare Oregon and Louisiana, sure, Merkley is a decent candidate who'll give Gordon Smith a spirited challenge. I don't think he'll win, but I wouldn't count Merkley as a "recruitment failure", despite the fact that he is the sixth or seventh choice of the national party.

    However, you said:

    need I remind you that Treasurer Kennedy was the preferred candidate of Karl Rove and the GOP establishment after every single Republican Congressman in Louisiana made it clear that they weren't interested in a Senate bid - that may be the recruiting failure some are referring to.

    Ignoring the glaring inaccuracies of your "analysis", your base claim is that, since other candidates such as Congressmen declined to run before the party embraced Kennedy, it is therefore a "recruitment failure". How is that any different than Oregon? After Kitzhaber, Pete DeFazio was heavily courted to get into the race, even after he initially declined. He then declined again, as did Earl Blumenauer, David Wu, and Darlene Hooley. So the entire Congressional Delegation, plus a popular former Governor, declined to run before the party embraced Merkley. Isn't that the exact scenario you paited in Louisiana to defend the assertion that it was a "recruitment failure"?

    5:01 PM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Is the definition of a top-tier candidate any candidate you think will win?

    I don't think Treasurer Kenendy is a first-tier candidate. I think he is a strong second-tier candidate, based solely on his title. Once I hear him speak at length (I have only even seen one brief YouTube clip of him that was fairly neutral, but unimpressive), it could shift my opinion up or down, to be sure.

    I, personally, would not call Louisiana a recruiting "failure" for Republicans - if and when Kennedy enters the race - but I would call it a recruiting "disappointment" for the GOP as it seems like they would have been very happy if one of the GOP Congressmen got in early - that would have ended their search.

    I think, in terms of "tiers," it starts off very similar to Oregon (which I also dub a recruiting "disappointment" but not a recruiting "failure"), Parties reversed. In both races, high profile Congressmen would have been the first choice, after which the establishment would have coalesced. But both next-choices, the state Treasurer and the state House Speaker, will prove very able campaigners.

    I think Merkley has a better chance of beating Smith than Kennedy has of beating Landrieu for a few reasons, none of which I'm sure you'd agree with (you'd simply write it off as Party cheerleading).

    The quick and dirty definition of a recruiting failure is when there is a clear set of top choices, none of whom are successfully recruited, leaving only distant options to pick from. That is why I don't consider the OR-Dems or the LA-GOP (once Kennedy actually gets in) a recruiting "failure." For example, the TX-Dems don't have a recruiting failure on their hands because there was no clear top choice - there are a few interesting names, to be sure, but it is very wide open. I suppose one could consider the AL-Dems a recruiting failure since both Rep. Artur Davis and Commissioner Sparks took passes, leaving only the disturbingly silent Vivian Figures. Again, there is more nuance than my simple definition, but I think you get the idea.

    6:03 PM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Thank you for agreeing with me that "the sleep" is wrong when he dubs Louisiana as a recruitment failure for the Republican Party. We could've skipped the last few posts if you had only done that sooner.

    7:32 PM, October 28, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    well, va blogger, in your infinite smugness, do you agree that Louisiana is a "recruiting disappointment" at least for the GOP, who would have preferred one of their Congressmen step up?

    7:33 PM, October 28, 2007  

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