Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday Morning Catch-Up

  • Virginia: It is very good news that Senator John Warner's ailment was well-attended to and that he should be fine. Now let's hope we can achieve such accessible, quality health care for all Americans.

  • Maine: I'm about to use, what is for me on this blog anyway, very strong language. Maine Republican Party Chair Mark Ellis is a disgusting piece of human garbage and should, at the very least, lose his job with the ME-GOP. And, further, Susan Collins should call for Ellis to lose his job. Why? You may remember from last week that Susan Collins was working to create the most recent in a string of dishonest, manufactured attacks against a political opponent, this time attacking Congressman Tom Allen's 98% voting record in the House as something less than outstanding. To further this dishonest attack, ME-GOP Chair Ellis sent this release yesterday:

    Congressman Tom Allen missed each of the three votes the House of Representatives held yesterday, bringing his missed votes total to 132...

    Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis said, "Congressman Allen really seems to have lost interest in showing up to work. At the very least, he should tell his constituents why he is choosing to leave them unrepresented in Congress less than a year after he was reelected. For these and the many other days that Tom has skipped votes, Mainers deserve to know the answer to the question: Where was Tom?"
    This, in and of itself, while a sleazy attack is not necessarily worthy of Ellis being fired by any means. So why, then, should he be fired? Well, later in the day, Ellis had to send an addendum to the release:

    “It has come to our attention that Congressman Tom Allen was in Bangor on Monday attending the funeral of a family member. Without question, the most difficult times in our lives are those in which we grieve for the loss of family or friends. Our thoughts are with Congressman Allen and his family during this difficult time,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis.
    If Ellis had instead said something to the effect of, "Hey, Maine Republicans including myself and Susan Collins tried to manufacture a sleazy, misleading attack against Tom Allen and it blew up in our faces. We are real jerks and apologize profusely," I might be more content with Ellis' fake remorse. In fact, nowhere in the addendum is there an apology for the attack! No, "Sorry we tried to exploit for cheap political gain a few missed votes while you were at a family funeral." Nothing. Ellis should immediately lose his job and Susan Collins should immediately repudiate Ellis and the Maine Republican Party for this. Otherwise, since it was her sleazy, misleading attack that Ellis was simply advancing, we can take it as Collins' tacit approval for Ellis' disgusting remarks and subsequent lack of apology.

  • Texas: While State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega has been plugging away very effectively building grassroots and netroots components to his Senate campaign, the big question has been whether or not he could raise substantial funds to compete with millionaire self-funding attorney Mikal Watts in a primary and John Cornyn with his warchest in the general. Noriega took a big step in Q3 with a haul of over a half-million dollars. While he still needs to continue and even exceed that pace, for historical purposes, he is on a very good track compared with the 2006-cycle fundraising of now-Senators Tester, Casey, Brown and Webb.

  • South Carolina: Former state Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin is consdering a challenge to Lindsey Graham. While South Carolina is a red state, to be sure, Graham could very likely face a bruising primary, potentially softening him up for a general election (if he makes it through the primary). That's why it's important to have solid candidates everywhere: because you never know what could happen.

  • Nebraska: Jon Bruning continues to ratchet up the rhetoric against Mike Johanns, calling Johanns "the president's lap dog." Given that Johanns offered full-throated support of George W. Bush's policies that hurt Nebraska farmers, Bruning certainly has a point.

  • Tennessee: Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter says that he is "all but certain" to enter the 2008 Senate race and that we can expect an official announcement in early '08.

  • Montana: Max Baucus airs a terrific ad chastising Bush for his decision to veto the SCHIP bill to expand health care for kids. The most evocative line: "Because we can cover those 14,000 kids like Abigail for a year for what we spend in a Iraq in a day." Very compelling. The ad is so powerful that it's already earning free media of its own.

  • Kentucky: DMKY offers us a two-fer as Joe Sonka highlights that Mitch McConnell is for big spending, pork, and bloated government, while Matt Gunterman sees Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne, a possible Democratic Senate candidate in 2008, promoting volunteering with the state Democratic Party.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue blogs the latest Democratic Senate primary debate. Very thorough and well done.

  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand ran a terrific Senate campaign and then kept an early campaign pledge to support a unified Democratic Party and got behind popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen when she entered the race. As a thank you for his service, his terrific campaign, and his calls for Party unity, help Marchand retire his modest campaign debt.

  • Two items looking into the future. First, MyDD's Singer sees Democratic Governors in red states shaping up to be strong Senate candidates in 2010, including Arizona's Janet Napolitano, Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, and Oklahoma's Brad Henry. Second, the Sacramento Bee wonders if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger might bypass a 2010 Senate challenge to Barbara Boxer if it looks like Dianne Feinstein would retire in 2012.


    Blogger NewRed said...

    I just don't understand the constant over-the-top language being thrown at the Collins campaign for criticizing Allen on his record or on his campaign tactics. This latest episode does underscore that the Collins camp needs to be more careful before making statements since Allen's most recent missed votes were for a good reason, but their ignorance is hardly sleazy or misleading. In this case it was literal ignorance and insensitivity. I agree that an apology should have been in the second statement. Now, if they had criticized his missed votes knowing that he was at a funeral, THEN it would have definitely been sleazy and misleading and even a firing offense for Ellis. That aside, Collins has a 100% voting record, Allen does not. That makes the questions regarding his missed votes valid, not "sleazy" or "misleading" or "cheap". Why did Tom Allen miss votes for out-of-state fundraisers? Where was he during the other 100+ absences? If he has reasonable explanations for his missed votes, then he should provide them to the voters and then move on to other issues, but name calling is not a defense...for anyone.

    10:40 AM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Tex Sen '08 said...

    Actually, that Texas fund-raising report for Noriega isn't accurate.

    In their effort to put the best spin possible on their fund raising, the Noriega campaign claimed they raised more funds than Casey or Webb during their 3Q reports.

    Unfortunately, they misread Casey's report, and Casey actually raised four times as much as Noriega in his 3Q report.

    Similarly, Webb wasn't even a candidate at this stage in the '06 race so he filed no 3Q report, and the number which they graphed as Webb's "October Quarterly Report" is actually from Webb's first report from the beginning of 2006. Claiming that Noriega out-raised Webb during the 3Q '05 and illustrating that claim with a graph of numbers from Webb's 1Q '06 report was a very peculiar tactic at best.

    After California, Texas is the state with the most huge and outrageously expensive television commercial markets, and any credible Democrat will need at least $15,000,000 to compete against Cornyn's $20,000,000.

    I don't see his 3Q report as ruling out the possibility that Noriega can turn it around and get on stride to mount a serious statewide campaign, but Noriega needs to be raising funds at about five times this pace to be a credible opponent to Cornyn.

    Also, probably about a quarter of Noriega's contributors are from outside Texas. If Mikal Watts, who doesn't hold a political office, has identified twice as many Texas supporters as Noriega and Watts' supporters have given him four times as much money as Noriega's supporters have given him, a five-term Texas Statehouse incumbent like Noriega should be doing much, much better in identifying Texas supporters.

    This should be a wake up call to the Noriega campaign.

    10:44 AM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    This article on the Bob Kerrey - Norman Hsu connection was interesting. I wonder if this will impact his decision to run, and if he does, how much it will impact the race. It looks like neither Kerrey or Johanns are the perfect candidate.

    11:11 AM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Though S2G's support and parroting of Jon Bruning's attacks on Mike Johanns shows who he clearly views as a threat in the race.

    11:20 AM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Henri said...

    In that case, open ethics hearings for all!

    Mr. Fearless.

    You're full of shite.

    11:48 AM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Josh said...

    Newred--the problem isn't that Collins votes 100% of the time (to Allen's 98% or some similar number).

    It's the way she votes when she votes that is going to cost her her seat.

    The fact that, more than a year out, her campaign is so desperate that they are going this negative on a challenger should be all the proof you need of that.

    1:18 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger mainefem said...

    Wouldn't it be a rare treat if NumbNuts "guru" Dutson & MRP's Mark Ellis ever coughed up a legitimate citation, vs. inane and ignorant smears?

    Go, Tom!

    Ol' Suzie-Q is justifiably nervous.

    1:53 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Josh - I agree that Collins will have to explain her own decisions, including her votes to support Bush's Iraq policies and breaking her two-term pledge, but that does not relinquish Allen's obligation to explain why he missed votes.

    1:55 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    "this negative" on a challenger?

    The old schedule has been thrown out the window. Susan Collins has been under attack since November 8th, 2006, by blogs, by (which is appropriately sponsoring Tom Allen's campaign), and others. So suggest that Collins should sit quietly and not hit back because its "desperate" is terribly naive. The rules of campaigning that were in effect a decade ago don't apply today. The fact that Tom Allen began publically considering his candicacy in winter, and officially announced in the Spring, a full 16 months before Election Day, should be proof enough of that.

    2:56 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    Domenici retires! What is there to say except, Ya-hooo! Paging Governor Richardson...

    4:57 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...

    Va Blogger:

    Collins does look desperate. I might have missed it but so far her campaign seems to be that Allen is a bad guy, Allen misses votes and some of the people who have given Allen money might be bad guys. When you are not running on your own record, when you are not running against your opponent's substantive record (positions on issues as opposed to attendance records) when you are reduced to running against your opponent's donors and against the fact that your opponent takes time of work to attend funerals you are showing signs of desperation. Period, and all of the talk of changed campaign tactics does not change that. Collins has to go negative this early because she can not run and win on her own record.

    Re NM: If true this is huge news. With this retirement, depending on recruitment we can add yet another potentially competitive senate race.

    5:28 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    Sorry to pester but what exactly is Collins hitting back at when she falls into hysterics because someone video taped her in public or when she criticizes Allen for going to a funeral during the work week?

    I ihave no problem with a candidate responding forcefully to a dishonest and improper allegation made against him or her but what is it that you claim she hit with that justifies this kind of screechy pettiness and a complete lack of discussion of any issues?

    5:31 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Cillizza has the scoop on Pete Domenici... this is awesome news... if Governor Richardson gets in the race (with some prodding from Schumer) that seat is ours.

    5:33 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    "Veteran Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire from the Senate in 2008, according to several informed sources, a decision that further complicates an already difficult playing field for Republicans next November."

    Thank God

    Two people beat me to the post, but I had to do it anyways. Oh my God. Say hello to the next top tier race boys. The battlefield just grew.

    5:44 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Schumer will convince Richardson that his country needs him...

    5:47 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Schumer's "clout" is far overrated, and extends to downballot folks like Bob Casey and Claire McCaskill, not big-names like Bill Richardson. If he couldn't get Brad Miller and Pete DeFazio to run, I don't know why you think his "golded touch" will convince someone to abandon a bid for the President to run for a seat they've declared absolutely no interest in at any point in their career.

    6:18 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    JC- God, who'd a thunk that you think Susan Collins looks desperate. You, of all people, a liberal commentator on a liberal blog, thinks a Republican looks bad? I never would've imagined.

    Susan Collins and the ME-GOP are playing the cards as their dealt while formulating a long-term strategy. If you think that this "is all" they have, then I really wonder what you think you know about politics. Why would they waste their best ammunition when no one's paying attention to the race? Why are they going negative so early? To define Tom Allen to the state before he has a chance to define himself. Its not really that novel, or desperate, of a campaign strategy.

    Right now, the Collins camp can find plenty of windfall from current events to use to attack Tom Allen. These are matters of just responding to events of the day and using them to attack him. They're minor items, but the point is to stay on the offensive, and when you start on your real dirt, you build the narrative of the pile of things that Tom Allen is wrong on. I know ten years ago, campaigns were run different. I get it. This isn't ten years ago. Ten years ago, Tom Allen would've have announced for the seat until March 2008.

    6:22 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Lindsay said...

    and now it looks like Sen. Pete Domenici is going to retire as well. with all these republicans retiring is anyone else getting the sense of rats fleeing a sinking ship?

    now if only Richardson would stop his pipedream run for the Presidency and run for the Senate instead...

    7:43 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    VA Blogger... Bill Richardson will have to abandon his Presidential campaign after the first couple of state primaries because he will run out of money... but can still raise money for his SENATE RUN... big names, like Richardson, can jump in late... and many people, aisde from Schumer, will recruit Richardson... this sounds like panic talk for you because of the weak GOP bench in New Mexico... and it's been an excellent year for recruiting Senate candidates for Democrats... why, look at New Hampshire? That state is going blue along with all of New England... the Mountain West is next.

    7:58 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger jak said...

    What the hell are you smoking, va blogger? Someone must've spiked your Virginny tobacco with some serious hallucinogens if you believe that Collins reaps a "windfall" from "current events." Let's see...

    * Collins votes AGAINST every defense spending bill containing a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, effectively granting the president a blank check to prosecute a war without end

    * Collins voted AGAINST the Boxer amendment to condemn attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of ANY and ALL military veterans (not just ones Republicans like), and

    * Collins has NOT publicly condemned President Bush for vetoing the expansion of the SCHIP program, or her fellow Republicans in the House from vowing to sustain that veto.

    But I know, va blogger, I know these are substantive facts, which have no place in the modern campaign of petty mudslinging and appeals to popular prejudice which you envisage.

    8:13 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Rob Millette said...

    Richardson isn't running for President, he knows he isn't going to win, but he has a very good shot at 2 positions. Vice President and Secratary of State. The President is going to be Hillary or Obama. Edwards is pinning everything on Iowa hoping a victory there will propel him, but it won't and he needs to beat out Richardson for the VP slot, thats his minimum goal now.

    Unless Schumer can convince Richardson that a senate seat will be a better launching pad for president 8 or 16 years from now (assuming VP in 8 years, not sure how old Richardson actually is), Richardson won't be running for the senate. I look to him a SoS of the USA for the next President.

    Either Congressman Udall or Former Attorney General Patricia Madrid will be the Dem candidate IMO

    8:14 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Friend for Life said...

    In regard to the US Senate race in Texas:

    I am the media coordinator for Larry Kilgore’s campaign for U.S. Senate. He is a 100% Pro-Life candidate and a believer in Biblical law for the peace, wealth and prosperity of a nation.

    Please contact me at: with any questions.
    Thank you.

    For His Glory,
    Angela Wittman, Media Coordinator

    Texas independence! Biblical standards!

    9:12 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Peter said...

    I love how a certain someone makes fun of someone for being a liberal on a liberal blog when they practically fawn over every moment that goes on in this small realm.

    VA, while you do have a point now and then, you are wrong the majority of the time. Today's announcement that Domenici is likely to retire is just another example where you attempted to make the GURU look like a fool for suspecting it, and you turned out wrong.

    Come election time 2008, I think you'll have a lot bigger fish to fry.

    9:20 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Angela, Is Larry related to Jerry W. Kilgore in Virginia?

    9:40 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    Makes me wonder how Collins voted on this bill... I hope will tell us.

    10:30 PM, October 03, 2007  
    Blogger Friend for Life said...

    Dear Matthew,
    Please forgive me for not getting back to you sooner. As far as I know there is no close family connection between Jerry Kilgore and Larry Kilgore.

    6:00 PM, October 09, 2007  

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