Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Items

  • Virginia: Failed former Gov. Jim Gilmore officially - yawn - enters the 2008 Senate race. If Gilmore's goal is to pay off the remaining debt from his short-lived Presidential campaign, he may very well be successful. If his goal is to become a U.S. Senator, I'm thinking he'll fall well short. The DSCC offers a thorough look at Gilmore's record of fiscal mismanagement. Meanwhile, Gilmore may face a primary challenger yet, in the person of businessman and state delegate Chris Saxman.

  • Nebraska: Nebraskan bloggers in the know are spotlighting rumors that a possible Republican Senate candidate, businessman Tony Raimondo, may find himself being wooed to run for the seat as a Democrat. The natural follow-up question is: Why not just get an actual Democrat to run? In other news, Don Walton churns out an idea worthy of the rumor mill, should Scott Kleeb decline: "Maybe Diane Nelson could be the Democratic Senate surprise, listed on the ballot as Mrs. Ben Nelson."

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell nicknamed himself "The Grim Reaper." Write your own punchlines.

  • Minnesota: Al Franken is rolling along with endorsements from AFSCME and the firefighters' union.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling looks at relationships between the issues voters care about in the NC-Sen race and the candidate they support.

  • Massachusetts: Could failed Republican Congressional candidate Jim Ogonowski be considering a 2008 Senate challenge to Senator John Kerry? Ogonowski was defeated in a special election (i.e. he had all the Republican muscle behind him, undistracted) by a Democrat running a less-than-stellar campaign. I can't fathom how he'd do any better statewide against Kerry. But the MA-GOP has to field someone, I suppose.

  • New Mexico: Joe Monahan looks at the role GOP Rep. Steve Pearce's personal wealth could play in his Senate primary against GOP Rep. Heather Wilson, and also sees Pete Domenici possibly lending Wilson a helping hand.

  • The DSCC's massive fundraising advantage over the NRSC is about to get even stronger.


    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Saxman would be a far preferable candidate than Gilmore, though he'd still lose. However, I think Saxman would out-perform Gilmore statewide against Warner.

    And I couldn't tell, but was that the sound of you desperately trying to downplay Jim Ogonowksi's narrow loss in MA-05? I realize that he most likely wouldn't win against Kerry, but he's the best name I've heard thrown out yet, other than Michael Sullivan.

    8:49 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Yes, I was desperately trying to downplay Ogonowski's loss. Very desperate. Reeking of desperation.

    10:04 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I believe you were, yes. National pundits, local pundits, bloggers, and politicians alike say that Ogonowski ran a great campaign and his narrow loss was a moral victory. I shouldn't have to go over the reasons why, since you're just playing dumb.

    However, let's count the number of times you downplay it:

    "Could failed Republican Congressional candidate"

    You start off the bat. Don't even try to wiggle your way out of this one. Would you ever, in a million years, refer to Scott Kleeb the same way?

    "Ogonowski was defeated in a special election (i.e. he had all the Republican muscle behind him, undistracted)"

    I could go lengthily into how introducing the first verb as being "defeated", instead of noting the great campaign he won, as downplaying, but that's a bit of a stretch. So we'll just count where you try to claim that Ogonowski failed despite the efforts of the GOP party, being undistracted and all, as if the same didn't apply for the Democratic party. That's two.

    "by a Democrat running a less-than-stellar campaign."

    Ooo, you can't even finish the sentence without squeezing in number three. Let me guess? Ogonowski only won because Tsongas is a crappy candidate? How far under the bus are you willing to through the Congresswoman to make yourself feel better about the race?

    "I can't fathom how he'd do any better statewide against Kerry."

    Its not as if Kerry has great ratings, and its not as if Republicans haven't won statewide in Massachusetts before, or even recently. And I'll use the Nebraska example again: how can you not give any credit to Ogonowski, but fathom how Scott Kleeb might do any better against the popular Mike Johanns? That's four.

    "But the MA-GOP has to field someone, I suppose."

    That's five.

    You managed to downplay Ogonowski's obvious strength five times in a short paragraph. Five-and-a-half if you count the half I'm giving you for free. Yes, you are indeed reeking of desperation.

    The more I think about it, the more this race reminds me almost exactly like Nebraska. Nebraska is a red state, Massachusetts is a blue state. Nebraska has elected Democrats statewide before, Massachusetts has elected Republicans statewide before. Kleeb is a failed congressional candidate who ran a better-than-expected race, as is Ogonowski. The biggest difference I can see is that Mike Johanns is popular in Nebraska, and John Kerry is not popular in Massachusetts.

    Now, as I stated before, I don't think Ogonowski would win. But given the facts I just laid out, I would certainly put his chances at least on par, if not better, than Scott Kleeb's chances in Nebraska.

    10:20 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    As Jonathan Singer pointed out on MYDD, Ogonowski underperformed Romney 2002 in MA-05 by 10 points and Kerry Healey 2006 by I think 3 points, against a Democratic opponent everyone agreed ran a terrible campaing. But hey don't take my word for it. If Republican talk of the "narrow" loss is not just spin, and they actually believe it, then they will throw millions at Ogonowski if he runs. So if we were to put some money down (a heuristic statement, no illegal activity is being advocated), who wants to give me what odds they will do that?

    10:27 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    This is totally the best Senate analysis blog on the Internet.

    10:36 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Yes, Matthew, of the one Senate blogs I've come across, this definitely tops them.

    Sleepy, while it is universally agreed that Tsongas ran a less-than-inspiring campaign, it is also agreed upon that Ogonowski ran a great campaign--except by liberals trying to downplay his electoral strength, like S2G here.

    10:43 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Rob Millette said...

    Living in MA, I can tell you that Nikki Tsongas ran by far, the worst campaign I have witnessed in a long time. Jim Ogonowski came close because Tsongas ran a terrible campaign and and still underperformed both Romney and Healey in the district. If thats throwing Tsongas under a bus, then keep those buses coming because your gonna need like 50 of them to match how bad her campaign was.

    10:48 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Anybody want to give a shot at explaining how Kleeb has a better chance against Johanns than Ogonowski does against Kerry?

    10:51 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Matthew said...

    VA Blogger... there are other sites that have Senate analysis (they all may not be as Senate focused as his)... I guess what I'm saying is the Guru does as good a job as any of the sites on getting new items.

    On another note, check out Not Larry Sabato's post on Gilmore's big mistake... NLS writes,

    "Today Jim Gilmore isn't Happy Gilmore! Picking a convention may have worked against Tom "Devolites" Davis, but it could be a disaster against Chris Saxman. The votes are weighted towards GOP areas, which are represented by...
    GOP Delegates. Whoops!!!"

    "If Saxman can get his colleagues to help him and give him some local campaign organizations he will be strong everywhere the convention votes are strong, and Gilmore is in deep trouble early on here."

    10:55 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Ogonowski appeared to run a solid campaign against a Democrat who ran a pretty mediocre campaign. So, please explain where what I actually typed was incorrect. (And please stick to what I actually typed and not some twisted narrative that makes your canned arguments easier to present.) Do you think Kerry would be easier for Ogonowski to beat than Tsongas? Really? Because my exact words were, "I can't fathom how he'd do any better statewide against Kerry." Can you? Please explain. Seriously. List facts and reasons why Ogonowski would do BETTER against Kerry than he did against Tsongas.

    Also, you typed in your comment "Ogonowski only won because Tsongas is a crappy candidate?" Um, Ogonowski didn't win, va blogger.

    You also typed "But given the facts I just laid out, I would certainly put his chances at least on par, if not better, than Scott Kleeb's chances in Nebraska." Um, you didn't lay out any facts. You just ranted and said my factual statements were wrong because they didn't fit the imaginary narrative you wrap yourself in before heading to dreamland.

    11:02 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I made a mistake and said "won" instead of "came close to winning". I apologize.

    Its not a matter of what you typed being incorrect, S2G. Stop playing dumb. You got your fact right: Ogonowski lost. It is all in how you present your fact. And you know this, so why the charade? I pointed out five times where you clearly attempt to minimize Ogonowski's strength. My point isn't that I think Ogonowski would do any better against Kerry. My point is that they way you presented Ogonowski's campaign was to minimize his potential candidacy.

    I laid out several facts, which for whatever reason you ignored. Here they are again, and I'll make sure to number them this time so you don't miss them:

    1) Scott Kleeb ran in an open seat election, where there was no incumbent. So did Jim Ogonowski.

    2) Scott Kleeb lost a Congressional campaign. So did Jim Ogonowski.

    3) Kleeb ran what was regarded as a good campaign, by both objective and subjective observers. So did Ognowksi.

    4) Scott Kleeb is (potentially) a Democrat running in a red state, Nebraska. Jim Ogonowski is (potentially) a Republican running in a blue state, Massachusetts.

    5) Nebraska has a history of electing Democrats statewide. Massachusetts has a history of electing Republicans statewide.

    6) John Kerry's public approval ratings and personal favorability ratings have not been good.

    7) Mike Johann's public approval ratings and personal favorability ratings have been good.

    Would you like to take a deep breath and try again?

    11:11 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger The Sleep said...

    Kleeb did as well in his district as did Nelson in winning statewide, better in fact. Ogonowski did worse than a Republican candidate, Healey, who lost state-wide by a huge margin. There's your explanation.

    11:41 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Sleepy, what does that explain, exactly?

    11:43 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    What exactly are you expecting with your argument? This is a partisan blog that has a heavy bias towards Democrats. Generally, anything negative about Republicans is exaggerated and anything negative about Democrats is diminished. That’s just the way it is. This site isn’t trying to be neutral and it isn’t a legitimate news site so guru isn’t under any obligation to acknowledge anything that is contrary to her/his opinion. I understand your motivation, but given the circumstances, it’s futile. Let it go.

    11:48 PM, November 19, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - if you agree with me that Ogonowski would do no better against Kerry than Tsongas, what's your issue? I insidiously minimize the chances for victory of a Republican who couldn't beat a Democrat running, at best, a mediocre campaign for Congress against a seasoned incumbent statewide? Oooh, you got me!

    Good to see "newred" jump in conveniently at just the right time.

    As for Kleeb, va blogger, the sleep's earlier comment indicates that Kleeb's vote-getting is on par with a Democrat who won statewide, while Ogonowski couldn't match the local results of a Republican who LOST statewide. (But you knew that, va blogger - as you keep saying, "Don't play dumb.") If previous candidates and voter trends are a barometer, then Kleeb matches up better for Nebraska than Ogonowski does for Massachusetts. But maybe you have some two-year-old polls involving other people that you'd like to enter into the discussion.

    Also, Johanns, while he has roots in Nebraska, he isn't a longstanding incumbent like John Kerry, and Bruning, should he get the nomination, is even less the "incumbent."

    Also Nebraska has elected a lot more Democrats to the Senate in the last couple decades than Massachusetts has elected to the Senate, and it's not like Nebraska has been a blue state - other than Hagel, they just keep electing Democrats to the Senate.

    And Kerry beat maybe the most popular Massachusetts Republican EVER in Gov. Bill Weld back in 1996. I don't imagine Ogonowski would outperform Weld.

    That's several reasons why Kleeb could match-up better in Nebraska than Ogonowski could in Massachusetts. Feel free to wantonly discount each fact-based reason to fit your narratives.

    12:42 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Yes, guru, I still read the site quasi-regularly. But since you lowered yourself to using derogatory slurs I don’t believe participating in your once sought after intelligent debate/discussion to be worthwhile.

    1:14 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Because the reason that Ogonowski won't do any better against Kerry has nothing to do with how great of a candidate he is and you know it. Yet, instead of pointing towards the obvious reasons, like national environment, an entrenched wealthy incumbent, and the fact that its Massachusetts, you find fault with the Republican himself, the candidate himself, and you do so by going against the grain and actually criticizing his electoral performance that other pundits around the country have praised. To me, that's desperation.

    Thank you though for agreeing that you were intentionally attempting to minimize his strength. We both knew that your last few posts were just a charade, so I'm glad you finally broke out of it.

    1) Actually, I have one week old polling that shows that Kleeb does better in NE-03, unsurpisingly, than the other two districts. So he's not on par with anything but a double-digit loss.

    2) Johanns will get the nomination. And while he's not an incumbent running for re-election, he's still a popular former statewide office-holder. Kleeb will have a much more uphill battle against him than someone like Adrian Smith.

    3) Here's what Stu Rothenberg had to say about Nebraska Democrats: "It's true that Dems have won 9 of the past 11 NE SEN races and 9 of the past 15 GOV elections, but all of those 18 races were won by one of only 4 Dems, 3 of whom were GOVs before SENs, and the other an ex-GOPer. So Dems "don't simply drop out of the sky to win statewide races" in NE."

    So by "they keep on electing Democrats", you mean they keep on electing the same four people. Last time I checked, Scott Kleeb wasn't one of them.

    4) I don't have any poll numbers from 1996, but John Kerry's approval rating in his home state starting dipping significantly after his Presidential loss. If you don't like two-year-old polling, I don't know why you'd rely on 12-year-old election results.

    Thank you for introducing more facts about the comparison between Kleeb and Ogonowski. No doubt, if you were honest, you would admit that Scott Kleeb doesn't really stand much of a chance. However, the next time you post updates on the Nebraska race, pimping for Kleeb and trashing Johanns and talking about how Kleeb is going to take Washington by storm, I hope you remember this conversation and realize that, when its all said and done, Scott Kleeb is just about as much of a longshot as Jim Ogonowski is.

    7:50 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - please stop making stuff up. Please. PLEASE.

    "Because the reason that Ogonowski won't do any better against Kerry has nothing to do with how great of a candidate he is and you know it."


    I know you're dying to attack anything I type. But don't keep twisting what I type to fit your attacks. Stick to what I actually type, kiddo.

    9:45 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    What exactly is your point? I know in rhetoric class the prof taught me to keep moving because every argument ultimately breaks down -- but wow you moved through about 12 positions in four posts.

    If your point is to compare Kleeb and Ogonowski there are a few things you are leaving out. NE-03, from what I've read has a higher R PVI than the state as a whole. Ogonowski ran in the most republican (or more fairly) least democratic district in MA. Also you sneer at the sleeps comment because he is exactly on point and given your job you know it.

    You also allude to the other differences in the two races: the national enviroment (even in NE Bush's approval ratings are dropping and the war is unpopular), the Rs have way more defense to play and will have less national money to help. 3 million in DSCC money in NE goes a long way. 3 Million in the MA media markets does not a senate race fund.

    So what was your point? Ogonowski can't win becase MA is too blue, the national environment favours Ds, MA is expensive, MA won't even elect a popular former R gov like Weld to the Senate. Or is it that all things being equal Kleeb is a big big underdog but that all things are not equal. NE is cheap. The National enviroment favours Ds (at least right now we will see what it is in a year). So that gives Kleeb a chance - maybe not a great chance but a chance.

    Or was your point just that Ogonowski and Kleeb both ran good campaigns and lost. Cuz if that was your point seems like a lot of pixels died for nothing.

    In fact the more I think about your Kleeb v. Ogonowski analogy I find it about as useful as every new potential D candidate being compared to Webb and Tester, which is to say it has no use whatsoever.

    10:14 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Statewide- MA- Kerry defeated Bush- 62-37

    MA-5- Kerry defeated Bush 57-42%

    Statewide-NE- Bush defeated Kerry- 66-33

    NE-3- Bush defeated Kerry 75%-25%.

    In MA-5 Ogonoswski performed 5 points better than Bush

    In NE-3 Kleeb peformed 20 points better than Kerry.

    11:24 AM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    S2G, don't post inflammatory rhetoric if you're going to run from it every time I point it out. Your "analysis" of the MA-05 was completely loaded. We both know the reason, so stop playing dumb.

    12:07 PM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger, you can keep inferring whatever you want, but your head is up your backside. Would it have been more accurate to describe Ogonowski as a "victorious" Congressional candidate instead of a "failed" one?

    2:19 PM, November 20, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Ognoswki- performed better in a Special Election when Democratic voter turnout is low.

    3:54 PM, November 20, 2007  

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