Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Morning Items

  • With Jon Kyl having locked up the number two spot in the Republican Senate leadership, replacing the resigning Trent Lott, the battle to replace Kyl in the number three spot appears to be a tight race between Kay Bailey Hutchison (who currently holds the number four spot), Richard Burr (who appears to have Trent Lott's support), and Lamar Alexander (who would be significantly embarrassed by a loss, given that he lost the number two spot to Lott at the end of 2006 in a tight race due to last minute defections). A loss by Alexander could serve as yet another illustration to Tennesseeans of Lamar's political impotence. And if his Senate Republican colleagues don't see fit to give Lamar the leadership role he wants, maybe the Vanderbilt Chancellorship might start looking more attractive to him.

  • Virginia: Delegate Chris Saxman announced that he would not challenge Jim Gilmore to a Republican Senate primary in 2008. Delegate Robert Marshall, however, left open the possibility. That said, Gilmore reportedly received a very unenthusiastic response at a recent confab of Virginia Republicans.

  • Mississippi: In the event of a Senate appointment, Bob Novak says that there is zero chance that GOP Gov. Haley Barbour would appoint a seat warmer. Instead, he will definitely appoint someone who intends to run to keep the seat.

  • Alaska: When asked by the Anchorage Daily News what lessons Lisa Murkowski learned following her sweetheart land deal scandal and the ensuing bad press, Murkowski almost predictably gave the lame answer of a corrupt public official:

    Everything you do is always in the public spotlight. And, yet, I guess I kinda thought that there were some things that you could do as a family. You could buy a piece of property that your family wanted to buy and be allowed to do that without the level of scrutiny that we got.
    Gosh, I can only sympathize with Murkowski as to how all that undue scrutiny of public officials prevented her from keeping her illegal gift of a sweetheart land deal "as a family." Awwwww. (HT: TPM)

  • Here's the latest Republican rationalization of the 2008 Senate picture, as a Republican strategist tries to convince himself us that the huge rash of Senate Republican retirements is actually a good thing for the GOP:

    "In some cases, having a new person run instead of a long-term incumbent is better," Republican strategist Rich Galen said. "Boosting the party's gene pool is a pretty healthy thing. You will have people with new and different ideas, as opposed to 20- or 25-year incumbents who have become captive of the House and Senate and forgot why they're there."
    Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what they were thinking when they were trying to keep Senators like Thad Cochran and Lamar Alexander from retiring.


    Blogger Matthew said...

    I'm surprised that the Washington Times (owned and influenced by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, otherwise known as "the Moonies") would report on potential Democratic gains in the Senate. If this has cracked the off-the-map right-wing media, I'm feeling pretty good about our chances for potential pick-ups.

    9:39 AM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Calling Alexander "impotent" is laughable, as is calling his one-vote loss "embarassing". He's already firmly denied any interest in seeking the Chancellorship, and there's no chance that he'd reconsider.

    I can understand why you are so desperately wishing for Alexander's retirement that you'd resort to making up things for your analysis, given that he if runs for re-election he'll win, but perhaps I was expecting a more reality-based post.

    11:22 AM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger said: "He's already firmly denied any interest in seeking the Chancellorship."

    Yeah, and Mark Warner, Jeanne Shaheen, and Tom Udall have all firmly denied any interest in Senate races in 2008. Oh, wait.

    And you don't think Alexander announcing that he had the votes locked up to secure the Whip spot, only to see Lott turn some votes and make him lose last-minute after saying it was in the bag qualifies as embarrassing? I thought you said you worked in politics.

    11:50 AM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger Jake said...

    Va -- Just because you disagree that's really no reason for name calling. If you where in someone's home would you be so rude? To say that SG is "desperately wishing" and that he is "making up things" doesn't create a mature exchange.

    And there is a huge difference between differing opinions and the suggestion that this is not a "reality-based post." A huge irony that you're using that term when so many of those you admire reject so many reality based ideas in favor of fantasy -- or, um "faith" based ideas.

    12:01 PM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    Mark Warner never denied an interest, and Shaheen remained ambiguous throughout the summer, especially her husband. In addition, Alexander's denial was much stronger than those, plus there's no pressure of any sort for Alexander to take the position, while there is plenty of pressure for him to keep his seat. The fact that he's looking at a leadership position should indicate even further that he's not looking to leave, yet bizzarely you reach the exact opposite conclusion. Since we both know that you're not basing your analysis on reality, it must purely be wishful thinking because you recognize that Alexander is unbeatable in a re-election contest.

    1:04 PM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

    Since I think Vanderbilt is a good school, I don't want Alexander to take that. Alexander will be hard to beat if he stands for reelection, but TN Dems ought to get their act together and give him a strong challenge. He is not unbeatable even if the state is fairly red.

    I find it interesting that Kay Baily Hutchinson is in the running for Trent Lott's senate heirarchy post--because there were rumors of her retiring soon. Is this the GOP's way of keeping her from retiring?

    7:15 PM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    I can't be the GOP "keeping her" from retiring. She alone is the one to make the decision to run for the post. The motion does have people scratching their heads. Maybe she has inside knowledge about Rick Perry wanting to run for a third-term?

    7:49 PM, December 02, 2007  
    Blogger NMC said...

    Right now there is a minor boom of stories in the Texas media, all with variations on the theme of: "What the #$%^ is KBH thinking?" Obviously everyone assumes she will go for the governorship in 2010, and she has VERY strongly hinted she would run even if it means challenging Perry. And she has said she absolutely, positively won't run again in 2012 whatever happens in 2010. In Texas at least there is talk of her as a VP candidate (which is obviously a smart move for the GOP -- with her on the ticket Texas would be a LOCK, and she might even help swing Oklahoma).

    12:53 AM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger Eric In Manassas said...

    Are you serious? Do you honestly think any Democrat is going to win Texas in '08? You could make a case for Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Arkansas and maybe even North Carolina. But Texas?

    12:59 AM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger NMC said...

    No of course not. I was kidding. About Oklahoma too incidentally. My point was that KBH would add little to a GOP ticket.

    2:10 AM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    The point of adding KBH to the ticket would not be to swing any state--incidentally, the VP rarely has any geographic effect on the ticket overall--but would be an attempt to close the gender gap.

    7:33 AM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger said: "The fact that he's [Lamar's] looking at a leadership position should indicate even further that he's not looking to leave, yet bizzarely you reach the exact opposite conclusion."

    I guess thinking outside the box is not a strength of yours. Case and point: GOP Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut. He recently threatened to quit the House if the GOP House leadership didn't award him a ranking member slot.

    He wants a leadership role but might leave the Legislature specifically because he feels marginalized by his colleagues. It was this exact situation I was thinking about when I made my comments on Lamar - I wouldn't be surprised if he felt the exact same way after having the rug pulled out from under him in the Whip race against Lott a year ago.

    6:45 PM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger VA Blogger said...

    There are so many massive differences between those two scenarios:

    1) Shays is a New England Republican, a dying breed who wanted his brand of politics represented in the party. Alexander is a Southern conservative.

    2) Shays' character is a bit more trigger-happy than Alexander's low-key, flannel-wearing-governor style.

    3) The politics of the House is so much more volatile than the politics of the Senate.

    4) Shays was asking for a Committee assignment; Alexander is seeking a leadership position. Alexander already has committee assignments that he's happy with.

    5) Committee assignments are chosen by leadership, while leadership positions are elected by the entire caucus. Shays' snub would've been direct from Boehner, et al., which is a much more direct insult. Alexander's loss was much more broad.

    6) Alexander has shown no signs of wanting to retire, and has adamantly declined the Chancellorship. In fact, he denied it in the late Spring, yet all throughout the summer and fall the liberal blogosphere continued to bring up the rumors. Other sites in the liberal blogosphere then reported on those rumors, believing it to be fact. All the while, Senator Alexander and the rest of D.C. lived in an entirely different world: the real one.

    7) Shays faces a tough battle for re-election next cycle, and probably wanted some clout. Alexander does not face a tough challenge, if any challenge at all, and simply wants a better vantage point for his moderate views.

    When you take into account all of the facts, there's not much comparison there. You can continue with your fact-less version if you like, however.

    10:44 PM, December 03, 2007  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    va blogger - All seven of your points add up to a big "So what?"

    None of your seven points respond to my central point that Lamar might feel marginalized by the Senate GOP and, if he feels strongly enough marginalized, the Chancellorship might look more attractive.

    In fact, your fifth point makes my case: "Alexander's loss was much more broad." Yeah, it's the entire Senate GOP caucus that would be snubbing Lamar, not just leadership, so it's a collective and therefore much more profound snub.

    Of course, all of this is speculation and I have never suggested otherwise. But it is an interesting subplot. Lamar did have the rug pulled out from under him in the Whip race a year ago; and another leadership loss would be embarrassing for him. And for a guy who was reportedly considering not running for re-election, another snub by the Senate GOP caucus might give him more food for thought.

    11:02 PM, December 03, 2007  

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