Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Last Couple Weeks

Readers: Thank you for sticking with the Guru during his absence. I'm done with traveling and am back on my computer, so the near-daily posts shall return. In the meantime, here is the quick and dirty recap of everything I missed over the last two weeks. (I have no doubt that I've missed tidbits from the last couple weeks in this compilation, so mention anything I missed in the comments!)

  • The DSCC continues to slam the NRSC in fundraising. September saw the DSCC bring in $5.3 million compared with the NRSC's $2.9 million. At the end of Q3, the NRSC had only $8.3 million on hand compared with the DSCC's whopping $22.9 million (with down to $3 million left in debts). The cash-on-hand minus debts difference now tops $11.5 million. Massive. And only getting bigger. Also, Hotline On Call offers an up-to-date listing of cash-on-hand amounts for Senate candidates.

  • MyDD and Kos on the possibility of more Senate Republican retirements - other than Ted Stevens, I would be surprised by any further GOP retirement announcements, even from Thad Cochran who I expect will run.

  • Both WaPo's Cillizza and National Journal's Jen Duffy see the top ten competitive Senate races being comprised of nine Republican-held seats and only one Democratic seat, as South Dakota and Tim Johnson look safer and safer. Meanwhile, Time adds another doomed Senate GOP article.

  • South Dakota: Speaking of, Senator Tim Johnson is definitely running for re-election and it's looking more and more like ultra-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds, and other big SD-GOP names, will take a pass in 2008.

  • New Mexico: The biggest shockwaves in the Senate races over the last couple weeks have come from the Land of Enchantment. With Pajamas Pete Domenici's retirement announcement, we will see a battle royale Republican primary between Congresscritters Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce. Wilson, of course, is wrapped up in the same ethics scandal that Domenici was in; while Pearce is just too far to the right for New Mexico (not that Wilson is much of a moderate herself). So, in addition to opening up both House seats for competitive races, the NM-GOP will be forced to field a Senate candidate who is either ethically compromised or is waaaaay out of touch with anything resembling mainstream voters. Oilman Spiro Vassilopoulos has also entered the GOP primary. A divisive and costly primary should leave the eventual Republican nominee fairly beat down and financially weakened.

    On the Democratic side, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez is in (his website is live) and Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is considering it while currently pursuing the Governor's office. However, Congressman Tom Udall appears to be the strongest non-Bill Richardson potential candidate. While Udall has said that he is not running, rumors are that he may reconsider. And the polling for Udall against both Wilson and Pearce look so good currently, he would have to give it further thought. Meanwhile, Draft Udall efforts proceed unabated. If Udall does not reconsider and Richardson does not surprise us with an entry, I hope Denish gets in.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig will serve out his term and will loom over the 2008 Senate race in Idaho. Meanwhile, we will have a spirited Republican primary. Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, whose corporate cronies make sure that he travels comfortably, announced his entry into the race and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is considering a bid. Meanwhile, Republican rancher Rex Rammell, who has a serious axe to grind against Risch, will be dogging Risch in a primary. On the Democratic side, Larry LaRocco continues to move steadily along.

  • Virginia: Popular former Governor Mark Warner obliterates all possible Republican opponents in polling and fundraising. This thing won't even be close. Warner is so strong that I, unfortunately, would not be surprised if GOP Rep. Tom Davis opted against a Senate bid altogether, leaving Jim Gilmore unopposed for the GOP nomination, especially with the VA-GOP railroading the process in favor of Gilmore over Davis. In fact, it's just now breaking that Davis won't run after all. Hmmmm, hopefully he'll still retire from the House.

  • Nebraska: This web video is terrific:

    When it comes to Nebraska's farmers (and just about everything else), Mike Johanns is a quitter and Republican former Congressman and coach Tom Osborne agrees.

  • Alaska: Democratic former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor nominee Ethan Berkowitz entered the at-large House race against corrupt Republican Don Young. How does this apply? I would imagine that Berkowitz, considered the second-biggest-name non-Tony Knowles Alaska Democrat after Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, would have run for the Senate seat against scandal-plagued Ted Stevens unless he thought that Begich would get in. Of course, this is just my supposition, but I take it as a signal that Begich is more likely to enter the Senate race than not.

  • Colorado: Want to learn about Backwards Bob Schaffer's real record? Also, Schaffer continues to lose ground to Congressman Mark Udall on the fundraising front.

  • North Carolina: Disappointingly (but understandably), both State Representative Grier Martin and State Senator Kay Hagan have declined to challenge the vulnerable Elizabeth Dole. For the record, I think Martin would have beaten Dole decisively, but we'll never know. The only announced candidate now is businessman Jim Neal. Neal recently gave a thorough liveblog at BlueNC. Hopefully he has the hustle to make this race as competitive as it deserves to be.

  • Maine: Still an uphill battle. But a very winnable one, to be sure. Especially when Republicans pull nutties like this.

  • Georgia: Businessman Josh Lanier formed a Senate exploratory committee to look into challenging Spineless Saxby Chambliss. Lanier's website is up and running.

  • Louisiana: Statewide elections were recently held and, while Republican Bobby Jindal won the Governor's office outright with 55% of the vote, Mitch Landrieu (brother of Senator Mary) won re-election as Lieutenant Governor with 57% of the vote. So the results can be seen as implication-neutral for Senator Mary Landrieu in 2008.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is all for government-run health care as long as he alone, and not Kentucky families, benefits. Oh, and Mitch McConnell bullies sick children and then lies about it. McConnell really is a dirtbag. His approval numbers indicate that a lot of Kentuckians agree.

  • Rhode Island: Senator Jack Reed is in terrific shape.

  • New Jersey: The NJ-GOP combatants continue to squabble.

  • Wyoming: 2006 Congressional nominee Gary Trauner is giving a House run another go, meaning he won't be running for the Senate. While Trauner will no doubt run a terrific House campaign, it does mean that we have to keep looking for an opponent for, at least, Senate appointee John Barrasso, if not also Mike Enzi. And with Barrasso possibly facing a competitive primary, we have to take advantage - and it's not like we don't have options.

  • Texas: Burnt Orange Report offers a terrific Q&A with the Democrats running for Senate, Rick Noriega and Mikal Watts. Also, looking ahead to 2012 or even 2010, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison will not run for re-election and may not serve out her full term.

  • Hearty congratulations to Nobel Laureate Al Gore.


    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Nice to have you back and have the website updated.

    While this isn't directly related to any senate races, here's a tipoff of Republican morale.

    "In a rare shift in party affiliation, the entire membership of the all-Republican governing body in Lyndhurst will switch from Republican to Democrat tomorrow. Nearly 60% of Lyndhurst’s Republican County Committee will become Democrats too."

    Quote from here:

    Obviously it is just symbolic, more than relevant.

    12:20 AM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger youngbuckbear said...

    Welcome back, Guru! Just in time, made something for you and all the other Senate junkies out there!

    hope ya like!


    12:29 AM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger Ari said...

    Glad to have you back! We missed you!

    Pretty amazing that Larry Craig will serve out his term. Guess he thinks he can tap his feet three times and say, "There's no place like home . . . "

    2:40 AM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger rural independent said...

    Josh Lanier is going to run a very unusual campaign called the clean campaign, which his staff is going to take small donations instead of large contributions. There is a bill in the senate it says on his website that if passed will become the norm. As for his possible challenge, if he is able to run on a platform that georgians can relate with, then he might win the nomination, but as of right now Vernon Jones (D-GA) is the frontrunner in that race.

    9:42 AM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger Tex Sen '08 said...

    Watts has dropped out of the Texas Senate race which means that Noriega will now spend the next six months in a virtual news blackout as the papers cover the contested primaries.

    I wish we'd had the primary contest to allow our unknown candidates build their name identification because Noriega is a virtual unknown outside of the district where he serves as a state representative.

    11:46 AM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger Political Realm said...

    Great to have you back.

    You make a great point, TX. Both needed to raise their profile and a primary would have given them free media to do so.

    1:34 PM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Welcome back, Guru.

    I'm sorry to slip to sports... so please forgive me... Virginia Tech , the #8 team in the land in NCAA Division I football, takes on Boston College, the #2 team... the game is in Blacksburg, VA... and I bet we have people from the Mark Warner campaign at the game... GO HOKIES!!! BEAT THE EAGLES!!!

    7:41 PM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger The Real Sporer said...

    Don't count your South Dakota chickens just yet.

    Mary Landrieu is going to be in trouble if a strong candidate emerges.

    Remember, she was hardly a heroine during the hurricane herself (although the brother was re-elected adn he really was involved directly in the incompotence).

    9:06 PM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger The Real Sporer said...

    ari, dude, i'm a republican but the larry craig comment almost made me wet my pants.

    9:06 PM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger The Real Sporer said...

    I too am amazed that Larry is serving out his term. Then again, the poor bastard has been in Congress since he was 28. He doesn't know any other life.

    9:09 PM, October 23, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    I have to wonder about the impact that Vote Vets will have on this next Senate election... remember their old ad (the one that crushed George Allen, Jim Talent, Rick Santorum, et. al.)? If you don't here it is:

    Collins, Stevens, Smith, and Coleman all voted against the body armor:

    I'm sure VoteVets will remind the public of this.

    11:04 PM, October 23, 2007  

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