Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

Unusually Large Friday Rundown

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's first ads are up, and McConnell is so desperate, he's running on Democrat Alben Barkley's record! I'm not joking. As DMKY's Sonka points out:

    And I can’t wait for the Club for Growth to see this ad!!! This is a love letter to pork and federal government spending through earmarks. Calling Senator Forgy!!!
    Speaking of Larry Forgy, The Hill has some interesting commentary on his likelihood of entering the 2008 Senate race:

    But that could soon change for McConnell, with opponents lining up not only on the Democratic side but from an angry Republican-turned-Independent as well.

    Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy has made no secret of his anger over what he sees as McConnell’s role in dividing the state party by throwing Fletcher under the bus at the onset of his administration’s scandals and backing former Rep. Anne Northup in the GOP primary last spring. He believes this led to Fletcher’s defeat this week. ...

    But Forgy is furious, and he told The Hill Thursday he is not ruling out an independent bid to unseat McConnell, though he insists he doesn’t want to be a spoiler.

    Forgy, who was the party’s nominee for governor in 1995, said he is “pretty sore” at McConnell and the state party for what he sees as their betrayal of Fletcher.

    “The only difference between that and cannibals is that cannibals normally don’t eat their friends,” Forgy said.
    A Larry Forgy primary challenge would force McConnell to spend money and weaken him for the general election against the Democrat. A Larry Forgy independent bid in the general election could mean curtains for McConnell! Running as an independent would make the Club for Growth no less likely to financially back Forgy - in fact, it could make them more likely since the CfG would probably like to back non-Republican candidates who share their philosophies, to extend their cred. I wholeheartedly support Forgy's decision to run as an independent, should it come to fruition.

  • New Mexico: (Rumor alert!) Rumor has it that Congressman Tom Udall has decided to run for Senate in 2008, and it's only a matter of time until he announces.

  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley is using a phenomenal tactic against Gordon Smith, evidencing Smith's double-speak to Republicans.

  • Mississippi: Republican Thad Cochran says an announcement is coming regarding his 2008 electoral plans in "a few weeks." (HT: TPM) But could Cochran be facing health problems? I only ask because of some of the quotes in the aforelinked article (emphasis added by me):

    "I certainly hope he does not retire," said Paul Mize Sr., a longtime Tupelo friend and confidante. Mize said Cochran is healthy, active and enormously helpful to Mississippi's interests in Congress.

    Former Cochran chief staff counseI, Brad Prewitt, an attorney and business consultant in Tupelo, said he hopes Cochran runs, adding, "He is logically, mentally a well-organized man. I think he is weighing all the factors about what to do with the rest of his time."
    Is there any reason to think Cochran isn't "healthy" or "mentally well-organized"? Is this a case of "methinks thou doth protest too much"? We'll see. Oh, and this article also contains the dumbest sentence I've seen in a while: "Support for a sixth Cochran term is widespread among his Mississippi backers." Thanks, NE-Miss Daily Journal, support for Cochran is widespread among his backers. Basically, the newspaper dedicated column space to say that Cochran's supporters support him. Man, oh man...

  • Virginia: Another sign the Old Dominion is turning blue: the elder statesman of the VA-GOP is criticizing the VA-GOP.

  • Nebraska: Draft Scott Kleeb has been re-launched. Check it out!

  • Arizona: MyDD's Singer offers another look at a 2010 Senate bid by popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano. Polling has Governor Napolitano handily beating Republican John McCain 47-36.

  • Ohio: In another look ahead to 2010, Bush administration official Rob Portman may be considering a run for Senate then if George Voinovich retires. I think a Voinovich retirement in 2010 is more than likely for several reasons: 1) he will be 74 on Election Day 2010; 2) his lackluster approval is around the 50% mark (last clocked at 48-44); 3) the OH-GOP's stench of corruption still lingers as an electoral anchor; and, 4) he saw what happened to Mike DeWine - why would he want to end his career on an electoral loss?

  • Rudy Giuliani won't say if, as President, he'd pardon his good buddy, the recently-indicted Bernie Kerik, saying, "It wouldn’t be fair to ask that question at this point." Well, Rudy, it's perfectly fair to ask that question at this point; and, I think everybody should work under the assumption that Rudy would pardon Bernie until Rudy says otherwise.

  • Al Gore is really cool.


    Blogger Neal said...

    Defeating Mitch McConnell in Kentucky should be Democrats number one priority-

    We should run ads tying McConnell,Lott,and Craig to Republican Senators and Senate Candidates.

    Vote for Heather Wilson,Susan Collins,Norm Coleman,John Sununu,Bob Schaffer. makes Mitch McConnell the next Senate Majority Leader.

    We should do to Mitch McConnel what we have done with Tom Delay.

    1:38 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger NewRed said...

    Someone recently asked about Republican draft efforts. Most of the incumbents (Democrat and Republican) aren't challenged by draftees, and most of the incumbents this cycle are Republicans, hence the lack of draft efforts on the GOP side. One of the very few attempts are to draft General Peter Pace to run against Mark Warner in VA.

    2:23 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger Martin said...


    Voinovich has a poweful incentive to run again....seniority. If Inhofe loses or retires, Voinie will be in line for ranking member of Environment.

    And Susan Collins and Ted Stevens are the only two members ahead of Voinie on Homeland Security.

    2:49 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Martin - I don't think that incentive is as powerful as it might be under other circumstances. Voinovich will be 74 on Election Day 2010. If he runs and and wins, one would imagine that that would be his last term. How powerful an incentive is it to get to spend your retirement years as ranking member (maybe!) in a dwindling minority. If the Dems reach a filibuster-proof 60 in 2010, which is entirely possible, even ranking members will see even more of their muscle diminish. Enjoying his retirement years seems like the preferable option. But, then again, Voinovich and Grassley and Specter and Kit Bond and Bunning and Robert Bennett may all prove me wrong. (I think all six will retire, despite Grassley's and Specter's comments to the contrary.)

    3:03 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Looking at the ranking republican members of each Senate Committee.
    1)Domenici- top Republican on the Senate Energy Natural Resources- Murkowski-AK is the new ranking GOP member.

    2)Smith-OR top Republican on the Senate Aging Commitee- Smith loses- the next GOP ranking member is Martinez-FL.

    3:05 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger Bobby Duncan said...

    I read somewhere in late 2006 that Voinovich intended to run again. In fact, I heard on the news that Portman is hosting a fundraiser for Voinovich in the near future.

    Portman is no threat, the last thing that will fly in Ohio is a free trader.

    6:49 PM, November 09, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Voinovich - My take

    Depends on how many seats we win in 2008.

    If we end up somehow only picking up 3-4... He may hold out hope for 2010. Democratic president... One thing goes wrong, the political atmosphere could shift. However, if we pickup 6-8 seats... He is much more likely to retire, since the outlook for him ever being a ranking member gets extremely grim after that point.

    Duncan. Saying you'll run in 2006 doesn't mean anything if your next election is in 2010. You'll have to wait till he gives a more recent announcement in the distant future. Bush did a fundraiser for Pete Domenici this year. Domenici retired. Clearly one fundraiser isn't the end all for a senate run.

    10:09 AM, November 10, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    I should also add I hope that Forgy runs an Independant campaign or a primary campaign. An ugly one at that.

    I also like the modification to the Republican commercial.

    12:40 PM, November 10, 2007  
    Blogger Political Realm said...

    It's tough to compare DeWine to Voinovich at this point. We have no idea what the climate will be like in 2010 and GV is much more an icon than was DeWine.

    3:20 PM, November 10, 2007  
    Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

    We KY Democrats have been trying to Ditch Mitch for years--but we have a real shot this year. We are gearing up for a battle royal--and we expect national help since defeating him is so important and since he has so much cash.

    Even if Thad Cochran of Miss. retires, getting a Dem elected to his seat will be REALLY tough. However, these ever-more open seats help in more ways: 1)They force the GOP to recruit candidates when they want to concentrate on defending incumbents and save candidate recruitment for challenging Dem incumbents. And the GOP has not been doing very well in candidate recruitment this cycle. 2) As the number of retirements increases, it has a psychological drag on the GOP--contributing to a sense of doom and helping this to become self-fulfilling. 3) Even in very Red states, open seats are easier than defeating incumbents--even in longshot situations like Idaho and Miss.

    4:23 PM, November 10, 2007  
    Blogger JeremiahTheMessiah said...

    Michael - I agree with you for the most part, except one thing.

    Over 50% of people in Idaho believed Larry Craig should have resigned after the bathroom scandal. If he were running for reelection, he would have a hell of a time getting reelected. Idaho is a case where an open seat helps Republicans.

    4:27 PM, November 10, 2007  
    Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

    The Idaho open seat could be an exception. Sure, with an extremely disgraced politician, the longer s/he stays in office, the better for the competition. E.g.: Tom Delay's seat in TX (which will likely revert to GOP in '08) and Foley's name still on the ballot in FL. I have even argued that if the GOP had ditched Gov. Fletcher for former Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY), Gov.-elect Steve Beshear (D-KY) would have had a much harder time winning. (I still think he would have won, but not by 18 percentage points!)

    So, sure, if Craig retires (and the later he does this, the better for Dems), Idaho GOP will probably keep that seat. But the cumulative effect of another open seat still helps the Dems.

    Suppose Craig waits until, say, March to retire. Then there is a GOP primary. Meanwhile Larry LaRocco(D-ID) just keeps plugging away. Suddenly, a GOP primary winner has a short time to get funding and a campaign together to face LaRocco. The RNC has to shift money to Idaho it needs in NH or Maine or Virginia. Will they keep the Idaho seat? Probably--Idaho is redder than TEXAS and maybe redder than UTAH. But, the effort of defending Idaho is almost certain to cost them a close race somewhere else.

    If Craig had immediately resigned and the gov. appointed a temp., then the seat would have been "open" in name only since the temp. would have had the time to become an incumbent in a red state. LaRocco's chances then would have been virtually nil and the RNC would have kept Idaho in the "safe to ignore" category.

    3:18 PM, November 14, 2007  

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