Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Monday, April 30, 2007

GOP Digs Holes, Dems Conquer Mountains

  • Oklahoma: Remember Jim "In Denial" Inhofe's recent denial that WMDs were "never the issue" behind the Iraq War? Well, the DSCC catches a bit of Inhofe hypocrisy:

    Inhofe in 2002:

    About a month ago, Oklahoma Republican [Senator Jim Inhofe] fretted on "Meet the Press": "Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction -- I believe including nuclear. There's not one person on this panel who would tell you unequivocally that he doesn't have the missile means now, or is nearly getting the missile means to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. And I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen."
    Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez became "Bennifer"; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie becames "Brangelina"; will Jim Inhofe and hypocrisy become "Inhypocrisy"?

  • Nebraska: Some members of the Nebraska right-wing blogosphere are none-too-enamored of Chuck Hagel. Now it seems that "Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom" will begin an initiative called "Show Hagel the Gate in 2008." Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom appears to be a Club for Growth-style organization opposing most any tax or regulation on the free market. I wonder if they'll get behind state AG Jon Bruning's effort? Hagel may have McConnell and Novak, but he'll need more actual Nebraskan right-wingers to survive the primary.

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols has been following a situation that may turn into a scandal for GOP state AG and possible Senate candidate John Suthers. It seems that AG Suthers developed a memo regarding the constitutionality of Democratic Governor Bill Ritter's property tax freeze. The scandalous part, Colorado Pols highlights, is that, according to Denver State Rep. Terrance Carroll, Suthers "released the memo to legislative Republicans weeks before giving it to members of the Democratic majority." Seems like inappropriate partisanship impacting legit policymaking in the AG's office. We'll see how things unfold, but it looks like there will be questions that need answering. Could this keep Suthers from making a Senate bid? Stay tuned.

  • New Hampshire: CQPolitics looks at Sprintin' John Sununu's electoral vulnerability on Iraq, thanks to Sununu's blind adherence to Bush's policy rather than the will of New Hampshire voters.

  • Oregon: Congressman Earl Blumenauer just seems like a really good guy.

  • Western Democrats are forming a new political action committee to focus on issues of importance to the West. This innovative organizing should prove especially helpful to both incumbent and challenger Democratic Senate efforts in Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming & New Mexico (should we actually get candidates there).

  • Approval Ratings and Other News

  • New approval ratings - (11/22/06 approvals in parenthesis):

    On the Republican side:
    Norm Coleman: 53-41 (48-43)
    John Cornyn: 43-40 (45-42)
    Pete Domenici: 54-38 (68-25)
    Mitch McConnell: 53-40 (54-39)
    Pat Roberts: 48-39 (51-36)
    Jeff Sessions: 54-36 (58-32)
    Gordon Smith: 51-41 (54-37)
    John Warner: 55-33 (60-28)

    On the Democratic side:
    Tom Harkin: 57-38 (53-40)
    John Kerry: 54-41 (48-50)

    1) It's good to see both Harkin and Kerry doing better, not that I was "worried" about either; just good to see a positive trend among Democrats.
    2) Anybody who thinks that Domenici's role in the Attorney Purge Scandal isn't hurting him isn't paying attention. Domenici goes from 68-25 to 54-38, a 27-point swing in five months, and the Scandal is the only explanation. Let's see how long the trend continues and how low Domenici can go.
    3) Cornyn is at 43-40. Absolutely toxic by any sensible standards. Anybody want to claim that the net positive 3-points is good?
    4) Except for Coleman, all Republicans are down from last November.

  • South Dakota: Tim Johnson has left the hospital and will continue outpatient rehabilitative therapy. More progress is terrific news.

  • Texas: Could Texas see a Republican Senate primary? In Capitol Annex's post on the Houston Chronicle article looking at Congressman Nick Lampson's electoral choices, this tidbit gets thrown in at the end:

    What’s more interesting to me is that there are major rumblings that Cornyn is going to receive a challenge from within his own party. Names mentioned so far in that department include Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.
    That would be something to see. Cornyn's approval is tanking at 43-40. (Compare that with Kay Bailey Hutchison's 63-31.) Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst just won his 2006 race by a 58-37 margin. And, recalling the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race, the Lone Star State is no stranger to statewide electoral scrums. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

  • Nebraska: Robert "Count Chocula" Novak presents Chuck Hagel with this super-softball column, offering another indication that the DC-GOP establishment is behind him as state AG Jon Bruning gains steam in his possible primary challenge. Unfortunately for Hagel, I don't think Novak votes in the NE-GOP primaries.

  • Sunday, April 29, 2007

    Sunday Rundown

  • Texas: The Houston Chronicle has Congressman Nick Lampson "giving serious consideration" to a Senate challenge to relatively very unpopular John Cornyn. The conventional wisdom is that this would be a good move for Congressman Lampson, as his district leans heavily GOP (it is Tom Delay's scandal-tainted former district), and he might actually have a better chance against Cornyn statewide than he would in an attempt to retain the seat against a GOP challenger who isn't as bathed in scandal as Tom Delay. No word from the Lampson camp on a timeline for the decision-making process.

  • Georgia: Not a single day goes by (literally not a single day) where I don't hope that war hero, former Senator, and true patriot Max Cleland reconsiders and challenges "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss to a re-match. Here is Senator Cleland with Wolf Blitzer recently, courtesy of Atrios.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's unpopularity is gaining its own gravity in earned media, from the pages of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

  • Nebraska: Speaking of McConnell, he will be headlining fundraisers for Chuck Hagel next month. This adds an interesting layer to the Hagel-Bruning fight. While Bruning argues that the NE-GOP should nominate him over Hagel because he will do more to advance the Bush agenda than Hagel will, Hagel retains the support of the Senate GOP establishment. This is to be expected, as Senate Republicans tend to support incumbents in a primary, regardless of ideology (see: Laffey-Chafee and Toomey-Specter). What will be particularly telling is if Bush or Cheney (especially Cheney) come to Nebraska for Hagel. There is certainly no love lost between Cheney and Hagel, so that will be something to keep an eye on.

  • Oklahoma: Tulsa World reports that State Senator Andrew Rice is considering a challenge to Jim "In Denial" Inhofe. Learn more about Senator Rice at What Rice lacks in Inhofe-style insanity, he more than makes up for with a very diverse and impressive resume.

  • Headline of the day: "Bush record poses problems for GOP candidates"

  • Jon Stewart on Bill Moyers Journal: 33 engrossing minutes. Watch it this afternoon.

  • Saturday, April 28, 2007

    Saturday Tidbits

  • Oklahoma: Jim "In Denial" Inhofe may have just crossed the line from "In Denial" to "On Another Planet." At a fundraiser with Dick Cheney, Inhofe denies that weapons of mass destruction was the issue behind U.S. involvement in Iraq:

    Inhofe, speaking to the press before Cheney's arrival, lambasted Democrats for Thursday's Senate vote to begin withdrawal from Iraq by Oct. 1 and the press for "mischaracterizing" the reasons for U.S. involvement.

    "The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction was never the issue, yet they keep trying to bring this up," Inhofe said.

    When asked why Gen. Colin Powell, then U.S. secretary of state, told the United Nations in 2003 that such weapons posed an imminent danger, Inhofe replied: "I can't answer that. In fact, I've never been one of the real strong fans of General Powell."

    Pressed for an explanation, Inhofe said weapons of mass destruction were "incidental" to the decision to invade Iraq.

    "The media made that the issue because they knew Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction. So we knew that they were there. But that was incidental to the fact we were going after terrorist camps."
    Granted, George W. Bush keeps changing the reasoning behind the Iraq War. Nevertheless, for Inhofe to say something like this clearly indicates that either he's detached from reality or he simply doesn't care about inconsequential things like "the truth." (By the way, there are so many things wrong with that last paragraph, it's like the "Plan 9 from Outer Space" of Iraq assessments.)

  • South Dakota: It looks like the SD-GOP is getting ready to challenge the very popular, still-recovering incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Johnson. The possible candidates: Dusty Johnson, first-term Public Utilities Commissioner, and state Rep. Joel Dykstra, R-Canton. No mention in the article of far-right conservative Gov. Mike Rounds.

  • Alabama: With the toxic gluten that caused the pet food scare now having potentially spread to the human food supply, we sure could use a U.S. Senator who has led on the un-glamorous but critically important issue of food safety and public health. Hey, I think Commissioner Ron Sparks has been a leader on this issue!

  • Will Iraq continue to be a top issue in 2008? Well, "the Bush administration foresees its 'surge' lasting until 'well into' 2008." Looks like.

  • Friday, April 27, 2007

    Democratic Unity - The Harmonious Big Tent

  • It looks like the Senate Democratic Caucus is unified and taking all comers as they demonstrate unequivocal support for Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic agenda. Similarly, it's impressive to see that the freshman members of the Democratic Caucus are working together so adeptly.

  • Maine: Collins Watch wonders why Susan Collins hasn't yet come out against Alberto Gonzales. Could it be that she is continuing to carry George W. Bush's water? Could it be that she is actually pleased with the job Gonzales has done? If either of those is the case, it's reason enough to vote her out of office.

  • Massachusetts: The MA-GOP may have their sacrificial lamb to put up against Senator John Kerry: Jeff Beatty, who took less than 30% of the vote in a 2006 Congressional race and raised less than $50,000. The Congressional district Beatty ran in was the most favorable to Bush and least favorable to Kerry in 2004 of any of Massachusetts' ten Congressional districts; so, if Beatty couldn't crack 30% or manage any significant fundraising in that district, it's unlikely that he'd be able to accomplish anything further statewide.

  • Thursday, April 26, 2007

    The Iraq Vote, Rumblings, and Other News

  • The Senate voted on legislation to both fund the troops and set a deadline to dislodge the troops from the Iraqi Civil War and bring them home. The following Senators were among those (only Republicans and Lieberman) who voted against funding the troops and for unchecked and limitless war: Alexander (R-TN), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Coleman (R-MN), Collins (R-ME), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Dole (R-NC), Domenici (R-NM), Inhofe (R-OK), McConnell (R-KY), Sessions (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK), Sununu (R-NH), Warner (R-VA).

  • Virginia: Not Larry Sabato suggests that George "Macaca" Allen may be preparing for a 2009 Gubernatorial bid and passing on a 2008 Senate bid if/when John Warner hangs it up.

  • New Jersey: PoliticsNJ and Blue Jersey are both offering speculation centering on three-term state assemblyman Michael Doherty, who PoliticsNJ describes as "one of New Jersey’s most conservative legislators." If that's the case, Doherty will certainly offer voters a clear choice against moderate-left Senator Frank Lautenberg, but it's a choice New Jersey voters have soundly rejected in recent elections. And I really don't see 2008 being a big year for conservative Republicans in blue states.

  • Texas: Political Insider, via Roll Call, has a round-up of the latest rumblings in Texas. The most notable addition to the rumor mill is San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts, at whose home the DSCC recently raised over a million dollars.

  • Idaho: While the ID-GOP picture remains quite unclear, Democrats just got a boost in new state party executive director John Foster, who most recently worked as managing editor of the Idaho Business Review. It should help Democrats with outreach to the Idaho business community and Larry LaRocco with his uphill fight.

  • Alaska: Personally, I'd love to see Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich step up and challenge Ted Stevens in 2008. If he wins, fantastic. But, worst case scenario, he loses but raises his statewide profile for a 2010 challenge to Lisa Murkowski, who suffers from so-so approvals and will be mounting her first re-election bid, with the Murkowski name not being worth what it used to be. However, should that not happen, DKos diarist NuevoLiberal offers an interesting idea: Mike Gravel for Senator in 2008.

  • Vulnerable Republicans are unionizing! Maybe they'll come out with t-shirts.

  • Corruption, Hypocrisy, Retirement: Something'll Get 'Em

  • Maine: Susan Collins & Rick Santorum, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, via AmericaBlog via Kay in Maine. Also, via Turn Maine Blue, Susan Collins & Sam Alito also sitting in the aforementioned tree. Susan Collins is like a baseball player who might hit 30 home runs in a season, but only when her team is way up or way down, so it doesn't matter - when it counts in the clutch, Susan Collins sticks with the Bush Administration.

  • North Carolina: Town Called Dobson looks at Elizabeth Dole's "residency."

  • New Mexico: NM-FBIHOP puts Pajamas Pete Domenici's underwhelming fundraising in perspective.

  • Nebraska: Chuck Hagel is ramping up his fundraising. It will be telling to see how much Jon Bruning can keep up.

  • Alabama: Sack Sessions highlights Jeff Sessions' hypocrisy on supporting the farming and agricultural sector. Y'know who actually supports Alabama's farmers? Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks!

  • Stu Rothenberg looks at potential Senate GOP retirements:

    Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, Virginia’s John Warner, Mississippi’s Thad Cochran and Idaho’s Larry Craig all have been coy — and that’s an understatement — about their re-election plans, and at least three of those seats could be at risk if the incumbents retire at the end of their current terms.

    That’s right, four states that have each voted for a Democratic presidential nominee just once since the 1960 Richard Nixon-John F. Kennedy election — Idaho, Nebraska and Virginia in 1964, and Mississippi in 1976 — could see competitive Senate contests if things fall apart for the GOP and into place for Democrats.

    The Democrats’ opportunities stem from the presence in at least three of the states of formidable potential Democratic candidates who already have proved their appeal and seem to have the ability to run credible campaigns.
    "Formidable Democrats." "Proven appeal." Quite an assessment from Mr. Rothenberg.

  • Is it just me or is it beginning to look like everybody in the Bush Administration deserves to go to jail? From the Washington Post:

    White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

    The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.

    The existence of one such briefing, at the headquarters of the General Services Administration in January, came to light last month, and the Office of Special Counsel began an investigation into whether the officials at the briefing felt coerced into steering federal activities to favor those Republican candidates cited as vulnerable.

    Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.
    Of course, the White House sees nothing wrong with this. It really is a legal and ethical Twilight Zone over there. Oh, and remember those White House staffers with partisan RNC e-mail addresses? Think Progress has more details.

  • Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Late Night Rundown

  • Idaho: Republican Robert Vasquez is bowing out of his Senate primary challenge citing an inability to adequately fundraise. Oh well. Woulda been fun to see him mix it up in the ID-GOP Senate primary debates.

  • Alaska: When Republicans in the Senate or House complain about reckless spending on pork, know their hypocrisy. The #1 pork offender by a vast margin: ancient Republican warlock Ted Stevens [emphasis added by me]:

    As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Ted Stevens secured funding for pet projects worth $1,044 for each Alaskan in 2005 — more than three times any other state, an analysis of newly released federal data shows.
    Do Republicans have the gall to refer to themselves as the Party of "fiscal responsibility"?

  • Nebraska: DaveSund at SSP offers background on the history of the schism in the NE-GOP between the Hagel/Heineman Republicans and the Bruning/Osborne Republicans.

  • West Virginia: Carnacki at WV Blue illustrates the pathetic weakness of GOP attacks against popular Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller.

  • WaPo's Cillizza looks at the potential of Democrats to gain a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, suggesting both a one-cycle and a two-cycle scenario. For the record (and to initiate discussion), looking at the 2008 and 2010 maps, I do believe 60 is very well within reach for the Democrats by 2010. (Remember: 2010 contains many GOP vulnerabilities.)

  • Right-wing chickenhawks were all in a tizzy and up in arms over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's recent comments on Iraq, despite, lo and behold, a majority of Americans agreeing with the Democratic Senate Majority Leader. Now, I wonder how all of those chickenhawks feel about Laura Bush saying that nobody is suffering more when it comes to Iraq than George W. and Laura Bush - certainly not the families of the 3300+ killed American soldiers, certainly not the 24,000+ wounded. Disgusting. Truly, inhumanly disgusting.

  • Wednesday Late Afternoon Update

  • North Carolina: Congressman Brad Miller is postponing his campaign kickoff plans because, it turns out, he might wind up kicking off a different campaign:

    Miller's kickoff on hold

    U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Raleigh Democrat, has postponed his re-election kickoff because he is contemplating running against Dole.

    "A funny thing happened on the way to my 2008 campaign for re-election to the U.S. House," Miller wrote in an e-mail message to supporters. "So we're postponing the kickoff fundraiser at the Irregardless Cafe, which we had scheduled for April 29, until we know what we're kicking off."

    The talk in Democratic circles is that Miller is leaning toward running against Dole.

    Miller, a three-term congressman, asks for the advice of his supporters. He says he is happy representing the 13th District, but is clearly intrigued by serving in the Senate.

    "I'm disappointed that Senator Dole has simply toed her party's line on almost every issue, and mouthed stale partisan rhetoric, when we have desperately needed leaders in Washington who would ask hard questions and offer practical alternatives," Miller wrote.
    Very telling. We eagerly await Congressman Miller's next kickoff announcement.

    Kentucky: The DSCC did some polling of its own in Kentucky (the wording for which is much more straightforward than some other Kentucky polls), and they discovered some interesting results:

    Voters in the Bluegrass state rate the war in Iraq as the most important issue facing the country, and they disapprove of the way George Bush is handling it by a 67 percent to 32 percent majority. By a plurality of 39 percent to 34 percent, they say that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell does not represent their views on Iraq, and they say that McConnell votes too often with President Bush by a 61 percent to 24 percent majority. Kentuckians also overwhelmingly oppose Bush’s escalation of the war.
    Now we just need a candidate with the conviction and the resources to present an alternative.

  • CQPolitics has been closely following the Senate races, and they have come out with an updated version of their handy-dandy chart (in PDF format) listing all Senators up for re-election in 2008, along with Q1 fundraising and post-Q1 cash-on-hand.

    Personal thought upon reviewing the chart: To put John Warner's notorious $500 Q1 take in perspective, note that Wayne Allard, who announced back in January that he would retire from the Senate at the end of this term, raised over $12,000 in Q1. It takes a concerted effort for a long-time incumbent to raise only $500.

  • MyDD's Bowers offers his look at the 2008 Senate picture. No big surprises in his analysis.

  • Happy Humpday

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols looks at who had more foresight on Iraq, Congressman Mark Udall or former Rep. Bob Schaffer. Here's a hint: it's Udall.

  • Idaho: Speaking of leadership on Iraq, Larry LaRocco would actually like to see some.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY has the inside dope on upcoming SUSA numbers, with Mitch McConnell a little over the 50% line (with 40% disapproval) and helped by a very tenuous gender gap, as DMKY explains.

  • North Carolina: Blue South uses some pesky electoral statistics to demonstrate Congressman Brad Miller's potential strength in a match-up against Elizabeth Dole.

  • Illinois: How bad is the NRSC at recruiting? Hardly a first-tier opponent, 36-year-old businessman Steve Greenberg, who is considering a challenge to Senator Richard Durbin, might opt instead for a House challenge to Congresswoman Melissa Bean now that he's spoken to the NRCC. Forget strong challengers - the NRSC can barely hold onto weak recruits. The Hill lists other rumored possible challengers to Senator Durbin:

    Chicago Board of Trade executive Kevin J.P. O’Hara, who can also fund his own campaign, has said he is interested in a run against Durbin as well. State Sen. Bill Brady and DuPage County attorney Joe Birkett, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 and attorney general in 2002, also are rumored to be options. ...

    A state Republican source said Joe Walsh, who ran for Congress in the mid-1990s, is also considering both the Bean and Durbin races, but added that Walsh will probably not be able to raise much money.
  • What is the state of White House-Senate GOP relations? Not great.

  • Republican Culture of Corruption and Hypocrisy

    As I ready a round-up, there are a couple items I thought deserved extra-special attention pertaining to the Republican Culture of Corruption and Hypocrisy:

  • The Carpetbagger Report has an excellent rundown of criminal and ethical investigations surrounding Republicans from just the last few weeks! Amongst those is the investigation involving Arizona GOP Rep. Rick Renzi, whose investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports, may have been delayed until after Election Day 2006. Absolutely damning. The stench of the Republican Culture of Corruption from 2006 will be all-too-pungent on Election Day 2008.

  • Fresh off of currently-under-indictment Tom Delay's most recent hypocrisy, courtesy of Think Progress, on criticizing a Commander-in-Chief's military decisions, Proud Liberal has a thorough rundown of Republican quotes from during the Clinton Administration that demonstrate an unquestionable GOP hypocrisy. The favorite quote:

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is." --Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Laughable Polling in Kentucky and Other News

  • Kentucky: When Mitch McConnell's camp polls Kentucky voters, you might think his pollster asks something like: "In a possible 2008 match-up, would you vote for the Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell or the Democratic challenger Charlie Owen?" Well, that's way too straightforward and honest for Mitch McConnell. Before actually asking about a preference between McConnell and Owen, McConnell's poll primes respondents with such tidbits as:

    Mitch McConnell is only the 2nd person in Kentucky history to lead his party in the US Senate. ...

    A point raised by critics is that Charlie Owen has no prior experience in public office and if elected he would be 70 years old on the day he was sworn in, one of the oldest freshman Senators in US history. In view of his age and lack of experience, do you have a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative reaction to Charlie Owen running for Senate?
    In a courtroom, that would be called "leading the witness." Outside of a courtroom, it's just craven politics. (It's also the kind of deceptive politicking that is frowned upon by ethical professional political consultants.) MyDD's Singer offers more on the poll's duplicity and how it does far more to evidence McConnell's own weakness and desperation to demonstrate false public support than anything else.

  • In reminding us once again that the DSCC whooped the NRSC in Q1 fundraising, CQPolitics offers two additional fun facts.

    1) $425,000 (or over 6%) of the NRSC's Q1 take of $7 million (just over half of the DSCC's $13.7 million Q1 take) came from the McConnell Majority Committee - not a very diversified donor base, huh?

    2) Though earlier reports suggested the NRSC is debt free, CQPolitics notes that the NRSC still owes over $260,000 to the law firm Foley and Lardner.

  • Idaho: Another Idaho Republican is considering a Senate race in 2008: Boise City Councilor Alan Shealy. It's unclear if Shealy would consider a bid regardless of Larry Craig's plans, but Shealy does make reference to Republican Jim Risch as a "formidable opponent" suggesting either that Shealy wouldn't challenge Craig if he ran again, or Shealy has inside info regarding Craig's possible retirement plans.

  • North Carolina: BlueNC reminds us that state Attorney General Roy Cooper could make for good competition against Republican Elizabeth Dole.

  • Ruminations in Alabama and Idaho

  • Alabama: Sack Sessions gives us a two-fer today. The Tuscaloosa News notes that Jeff Sessions was all too helpful to Karl Rove in seeking a replacement U.S. Attorney and parroting White House talking points:

    Earlier this month, it was disclosed that an e-mail message from the White House urged the Justice Department to call Sessions to give him information about appointing a former aide to Republican strategist Karl Rove as an interim U.S. attorney in Arkansas to replace one of the fired officials.

    “WH political reached out to Sen. Sessions and requested that he ask helpful questions to make clear that Tim Griffin is qualified to serve,” a January 2007 e-mail message read.

    Sessions said last week that he doesn’t recall speaking with anyone at the White House about Griffin before a Feb. 6 hearing. But the record shows that at that hearing, Sessions covered all of the highlights on Griffin in a Republican “talking points” document on the nominee and praised his resume — just as the White House and Justice Department apparently requested, on the evidence of the e-mails.

    That may be just coincidence, though failure to recall is a far cry from a flat denial.
    Let's hope Mr. Sessions' memory improves a bit in the near future. Also, the Huntsville Times sees Commissioner Ron Sparks talking the talk of a likely Senate candidate.

  • Idaho: Red State Rebels pontificates further on Idaho's current lack of Congressional clout and how Larry LaRocco can change that.

  • Personal note: While Senate races in Alabama and Idaho will no doubt be significantly uphill battles, just the fact that there may very well be fiercely challenged, legit races in these deep red states is a tremendous sign of how 2008 appears to be shaping up and how traditional battleground states like New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine, and Oregon will be all-the-more vulnerable for the GOP.

  • Monday, April 23, 2007

    Monday Evening Quick Hits

  • Minnesota: The DSCC catches Norm Coleman "pulling a McCain," demonstrating how frighteningly out-of-touch Coleman is with the reality on the ground in Iraq.

  • Nebraska: More insight on state AG Jon Bruning's primary lead against Senator Chuck Hagel: from the right, Leavenworth Street; from the left, New Nebraska Network. It looks like things are getting so testy between the different factions of the NE-GOP that the NRSC might send John McCain and Norm Coleman to Nebraska to assure us that conditions between the Hagel faction and the Bruning faction are allegedly improving!

  • Kentucky: Bluegrass Report has DSCC polling showing Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler within the margin of error against Mitch McConnell. This is a partisan poll, so, again, grains of salt. But, wow. It illustrates again that McConnell is most definitely vulnerable, huge bankroll aside.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon gives us a two-fer: a missive on Gordon Smith's very early re-tread of "Dems for Smith" evidencing his anxiety over his re-election chances; and a call not to underestimate the political prowess of Steve Novick.

  • Polls, Dollars, and Fun with Numbers

  • Nebraska: Looks likelier and likelier that we'll see a Bruning v. Hagel Senate primary:

    Attorney General Jon Bruning said Monday he led Sen. Chuck Hagel by 9 points in a survey last week of likely Republican voters in a 2008 GOP Senate primary contest.

    The poll of 404 Republicans was conducted by Bruning’s pollster, Dresner, Wickers and Associates of San Francisco. In a head-to-head matchup, Bruning led by 47 percent to 38 percent.

    Nebraskans are “very troubled” by Hagel’s criticism of President Bush and his support for legislation calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Bruning said.
    404 people is a relatively small sample size. Nevertheless, Bruning claims to have a significant lead. Let's see Hagel's camp come out with its own numbers to suggest otherwise. This could very well turn into, as the Lincoln Journal Star's Don Walton suggests, "a bitter, even ugly, primary battle."

  • Texas: The DSCC commissioned some numbers from Texas. It's a partisan poll, so ingest with all appropriate grains of salt, but the results are quite intriguing:

    Republican John Cornyn has lower than expected name recognition for an incumbent US Senator, with 39% of the electorate unable to rate Cornyn either favorably or unfavorably. Overall he is 41% favorable – 19% unfavorable.

    Senator Cornyn’s generic reelect versus a Democrat is under 50% (47% Republican John Cornyn - 38% Democratic candidate; 15% undecided).
    Almost 2 in 5 "likely voters" are unable to rate Cornyn. That has to reflect poorly on him. It's not like Cornyn is a first-time candidate looking to raise his name ID. If almost 2 out of 5 "likely voters" don't know who this guy is by this point or don't know enough about him to make a judgment, it means that Cornyn has done nothing to stand out or demonstrate his value as a Senator.

  • From the "You're kidding me, right?" department: Republicans are hoping to make political gains off of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comments on Bush's mismanagement in Iraq. Seriously? Where does the GOP hope to make these gains? The public trusts Democrats over Bush to handle Iraq by a 58-33 margin, oppose Bush's escalation by a 65-35 margin, and even support a troop withdrawal deadline by a 51-46 margin.

  • Arkansas: In case GOP former Governor Mike Huckabee is considering shifting from the Presidential race to a Senate race, the press is already noting that Senator Mark Pryor is making him look bad in the fundraising department.

  • Monday Morning Miscellany

  • Rhode Island: If the RI-GOP Chairman's vagueness is any indication, it looks like there will be some difficulty in finding even a token challenger to popular Senator Jack Reed. ProJo notes that Reed raised over three-quarters of a million dollars in Q1, with $1.67 million cash-on-hand.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY offers some logical skepticism over the poll numbers that Mitch McConnell's camp selectively released.

  • Alabama: Over at Doc's Political Parlor, rumor has it that General Wesley Clark has been very helpful to Commissioner Ron Sparks as he considers a Senate bid.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon urges Congressman Earl Blumenauer to step up and dislodge Gordon Smith from his Senate seat.

  • Nebraska: The Lincoln Journal Star sees "high drama" in the potential Bruning v. Hagel GOP primary:

    Clearly, Hagel is vulnerable within the base of his own party in Nebraska, which at its core remains fiercely loyal to George W. Bush. Just glance at letters-to-the-editor or the Internet to take the temperature of some of the Republican outrage against Hagel.

    Perhaps no one speaks more forcefully for that base on the political right than Dick Cheney, who has all but run Hagel out of the party.

    If Hagel seeks re-election, he’ll find himself in the midst of what is likely to be a bitter, even ugly, primary battle.
  • Florida: Though he's not up until 2010, it looks like GOP Senator/"Republican Party General Chairman" Mel Martinez could be in some more hot water "after federal auditors found repeat violations of federal election law in his 2004 Senate campaign." And this is the guy Bush tapped to oversee the RNC? Just another chapter in the Republican Culture of Corruption.

  • Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Have a Contemplative Earth Day

    Today is Earth Day. So do something.

  • Condolences to the family of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, who passed on earlier today from cancer.

  • Alabama: Ron Sparks' blogosphere buzz continues to garner positive press.

  • Texas: The DSCC takes in over a million dollars at one San Antonio fundraiser. It certainly suggests that the resources will be there for a Democratic challenger to John Cornyn.

  • Iowa: GOP Rep. Steve King doesn't appear to be preparing for a Senate bid, if his fundraising is any indication:

    If Rep. Steve King is about to launch a run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Tom Harkin, there’s no sign of a fundraising overdrive in King’s most recent campaign finance report.

    King, who doesn’t tend to keep big balances in his campaign accounts, raised just $15,000 during the first three months of the year, almost all of it from political action committees. He spent about $30,000 and has $14,000 left in cash on hand, Federal Election Commission reports show.
    The Des Moines Register article also mentions that GOP Rep. Tom Latham "raised $143,000, spent $56,000 and has $214,000 in the bank." Those figures appear to be somewhat below-average for Q1 House members, but especially lackluster if Latham is, in fact, considering a Senate challenge. It is also a far cry from the more than $1 million raised by Senator Tom Harkin in Q1.

  • Headline of the day: "Bush administration awash in scandals"

  • Since Rich Little's gig at the White House Correspondents Association dinner seems to have fallen flat, check out last year's annihilating routine by Stephen Colbert. Twenty-four funny, sharp, eviscerating minutes.

  • Saturday, April 21, 2007


  • Massachusetts: Lest anyone was bemused by all of the chatter about John Kerry re-opening the door to a possible 2008 Presidential bid, his is focused on and moving forward with his Senate re-election campaign.

  • Nebraska: On the Democratic side: What's with this Lincoln Journal Star article? The headline is:

    Kerrey to say no to Senate race
    Sounds pretty definitive, right? However, the very first sentence of the article is:

    Bob Kerrey plans to confer with former political advisors this weekend before he decides whether he might enter the 2008 Senate race in Nebraska if Sen. Chuck Hagel doesn’t seek re-election.
    While Kerrey makes very clear that his expected answer is that he won't run, maybe the Journal Star ought to wait until the decision is actually made before "reporting" it in their headline.

    And on the Republican side: The Star-Herald has GOP state Attorney General Jon Bruning ratcheting up the rhetoric against Chuck Hagel [emphasis mine]:

    A month after he said he wouldn't challenge U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel for his Senate seat, Attorney General Jon Bruning says he would consider doing so, in part because Hagel has "really left the Republican party."

    Bruning cited Hagel's recent vote favoring a U.S. troop withdrawal and public comments calling the impeachment of President Bush an option.

    "Given Sen. Hagel's vote and public comments, I have to seriously consider running for this seat regardless of what Senator Hagel does," Bruning said in a statement.

    "Senator Hagel voted with the Democratic leadership against President Bush on the most important issue facing our country," Bruning said. "His comments made it clear that he thinks impeachment of the president is an option. These are drastic and dramatic shifts away from the Republican Party, our president, and the people of Nebraska."
    And we have Senator Hagel swinging back, in the same article [emphasis again mine]:

    "When people criticize you or people threaten to run against you because they don't like your position, that doesn't mean much quite frankly," Hagel said. "If you're serious about getting things done for the right reasons, then you stay focused on them."

    Bruning's concern that Hagel's criticisms are affecting American troop morale seem unfounded, Hagel said, based on conversations the senator has had with U.S. generals and troops.

    "Those who make those kind of statements maybe should go to Iraq and spend a little time, like I have," he said. "Maybe if they understood or had any experience in the military, it might help them understand this better."
    I certainly can't say how big the various factions of the NE-GOP are, but one has to imagine that there is some bad blood brewing over there.

  • Overnight Quick Hits

  • Colorado: Scott McInnis spent over $50,000 to not run for Senate.

  • Texas: FireDogLake looks at John Cornyn's senseless position on Alberto Gonzales and reminds us of his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

  • Maine: If you live in Maine and care about the Supreme Court's recent decision limiting a woman's right to choose, remember that Susan Collins, who claims to be pro-choice, voted for Sam Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court. And John Roberts. More Two-Faced Susan hypocrisy?

  • Idaho: Perhaps another reason to vote for Larry LaRocco? Idaho's current Congressional delegation has been ranked the least powerful state delegation in the nation.

  • North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole's approval continues to squeak just barely above 50%.

  • Bill Maher is, again, right on.

  • Friday, April 20, 2007

    Friday Afternoon Round-Up

  • Oregon: Disappointing news. After much careful consideration, Congressman Peter DeFazio has ruled out a Senate bid. (HT: SSP) Blue Oregon has DeFazio's complete statement. All eyes are now on Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire sees Professor/veteran/former astronaut Jay Buckey making a ton of sense on the issue of global climate change, correctly connecting the issue to national security and insightfully noting that the radical position is "not taking action."

  • Idaho: More thoughts on Larry Craig's fundraising, a meager $125,000 for Q1. I don't care how cheap the Idaho media market is; $125,000 for a sitting Senator is paltry. I take it as an indication toward retirement. Political Insider seems to agree. Beyond that, though, the article notes that "Craig's fundraising — $125,000 so far this year — nearly matches the amount he raised by this stage of the 2002 election..." An astute reader pointed out that what the article leaves out is that his Q1-2001 fundraising was under the old limit of $1,000 maximum. The max is now $2,300. So, while he may have roughly the same dollar amount, assuming he has roughly the same number of maxed out donors (which is reasonable given the overwhelming percentage of PAC contributors), he must have significantly fewer donors. I guess Craig has found out that not serving in the majority inhibits his K Street and Big Oil appeal a little.

  • Texas: Burnt Orange Report has the DSCC demonstrating that they're taking every race seriously and appropriately gearing up.

  • North Carolina: Will Liddy Dole donate to charity the contributions to her campaign of a newly-convicted insider trader?

  • DSCC Trounces NRSC in $$$ Race and Other News

  • The fundraising figures for the DSCC and NRSC for March (& Q1 cumulatively) are in. (Remember: DSCC 1/07 = $2.2 million, DSCC 2/07 = $2.7 million; NRSC 1/07 = $0.9 million, NRSC 2/07 = $2.4 million.) The Washington Post reports:

    The Democrats' fundraising gains were most evident on the congressional level. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $13.7 million to the National Republican Senatorial Committee's $7 million -- taking in more money in March than the NRSC did in three months. The DSCC also ended March with nearly triple the money in the bank -- $9.5 million to $3.45 million.

    The best news for the NRSC was that it erased the $1.3 million debt from the 2006 election. The DSCC carried $6 million in debt at the end of March.

    "We couldn't have asked for a better start to the 2008 Senate elections," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the DSCC chairman. "The support for Democratic candidates and ideas is enormous and is propelling us to a big lead in fundraising."
    The DSCC's March featured roughly $8.8 million raised! More than the NRSC's entire Q1 of $7 million and putting to shame its March take of roughly $3.7 million. Wow. And, for cash-on-hand, the DSCC already has an advantage of more than $6 million, which covers for the existing debt carried over from the wildly successful 2006 cycle. The NRSC is in a world of hurt. Senator Ensign has been Chair for a whole quarter, so when is he going to kick the fundraising into high gear? We know he hasn't had much (or any) success so far recruiting candidates. Pretty rough for the NRSC.

  • Nebraska: It turns out that former Senator Bob Kerrey was behind the poll gauging his strength for a possible Senate bid:

    Former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey recently tested the waters for a possible U.S. Senate bid, but he said Thursday evening that there was only a 1 percent chance that he would run again - and only if GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel didn't run for re-election next year.

    Kerrey asked his longtime political adviser, Paul Johnson, to gauge public opinion on him. That led to Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman's sampling Nebraskans' views with some telephone calls. Hickman didn't conduct a full-fledged poll, Kerrey said.
    Kerrey says that a run is "extremely unlikely," that he'd only run if Hagel didn't, and that his decision will come "very quickly." But, hey, a 1% chance is better than a 0% chance. Another opportunity to look forward to - as though the NRSC needed its meager resources stretched thinner. (HT: PW)

  • Maine: Very bad news for Susan Collins. Olympia Snowe has just come out in support of an Iraq withdrawal plan. There goes Collins' political cover. This should serve to make Collins look more like the Bush enabler that she is and less in touch with mainstream voters. I anticipate some positive words for Snowe's legislation from Tom Allen, drawing a distinction between the Bush-Collins position on Iraq and the Allen-Snowe-mainstream Maine voters position on Iraq.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY offers us a reminder that Mitch McConnell leads the Abramoff tote board, followed closely by Alaska's Ted Stevens.

  • FireDogLake looks at the Senate Republicans' approach to transparency in government.

  • Though it's on the House side, not the Senate, All Spin Zone reflects on House Republicans giving up committee seats as they are being investigated. Just more of the Republican Culture of Corruption.

  • Thursday, April 19, 2007

    Nebraska Reverberations and Other News

  • Nebraska: Two thoughtful recaps of Jon Bruning's move: New Nebraska Network from the left and Leavenworth Street from the right. Both agree that if Bruning goes in, he better go all the way or his political career is over. Also, Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey says that "his final decision [on whether to run for Senate] won't come until the end of the year."

  • Oregon: The Draft DeFazio blog highlights Congressman DeFazio's terrific record on veterans' issues, tax fairness, and the environment. It's the kind of outstanding record Gordon Smith could only pretend to have (and might try to!).

  • Idaho: Whoa! Did roughly 80% of Larry Craig's fundraising come from PAC's (and most of that from oil companies?!)?

    Craig's fundraising — $125,000 so far this year — nearly matches the amount he raised by this stage of the 2002 election, when he eventually raised more than $3 million. ... Most of Craig's recent fundraising — $100,000 — came from political action committees, a number of them associated with large energy companies with interests before Craig's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Among them were oil industry giants Exxon Mobil and Sunoco.
    Does Larry Craig even know who his constituents are anymore? Or can C-SPAN just start recognizing him as "Larry Craig (R-Big Oil)"?

  • Want to laugh and cry and cringe at the same time? Check out "The Top 15 Most Embarrassing Photos of George W. Bush."

  • Open Thread: 4/19/07

    I would love to get more of your feedback. Any adjustments or augmentations you'd suggest for the blog? Races you've been particularly interested in? Fun facts you'd like to share? Two quick hits to get your mind running:

  • The Blue State has a great live blog going of the Alberto Gonzales hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Notable entry: "12:42: According to reporters, Gonzales has said the words 'I can't recall' nearly 55 times."

  • Nebraska: More thoughts on Jon Bruning, whose exploratory committee website looks just about ready for the real deal. I can't wait to see polling breaking down moderate support versus conservative support between Hagel and Bruning because I would imagine that this will create some bad blood toward Bruning among independent voters and maybe even moderate Republicans who might support Hagel but oppose Bush and his mismanagement in Iraq. Let's say Hagel does retire and Bruning is the GOP nominee. If the Democrats manage to put up a credible-to-strong Democrat like former Senator Bob Kerrey or Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, moderate voters who might have defaulted Republican could be very turned off by Bruning and cast a vote for the Democrat. A dynamic to look forward to.

  • What's on your mind?

  • A Ka-Blammo! Type of Day

  • Nebraska: Fresh off of Chuck Hagel supporting legislation that includes a mandatory troop withdrawal date for Iraq operations, state AG Jon Bruning suggests that he is considering a primary challenge to Hagel. It will be fun to see how this fractures the NE-GOP as it seems that Bruning would run on a support-the-President-no-matter-what platform, while Hagel will still have much of the establishment with him as the incumbent. Meanwhile, polling is being conducted to gauge support for former Senator Bob Kerrey. Nebraska could very well turn into one of the most fascinating races to follow in 2008.

  • New Mexico: The New York Times notes that, as Alberto Gonzales testifies today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the situation in New Mexico will be of paramount interest:

    When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales takes the witness chair on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the dismissal of the United States attorney from New Mexico will be a topic of particular scrutiny, committee members and their staff said.

    That case, perhaps more than any of the other ousters, demonstrates the interaction of the Republican Party, the White House, a prominent Republican senator and Mr. Gonzales that led up to the firings.

    Investigators have already determined that Mr. Gonzales spoke directly three times with Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, about his complaints regarding David C. Iglesias, the state’s former top federal prosecutor.
    More bad times for Pajamas Pete, with more bad press to follow. I can't wait for Gonzales' testimony! (It's amazing what happens when one holds a Republican office-holder to close scrutiny.)

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire and MyDD's Singer both look at Sprintin' John Sununu's vote to filibuster legislation to negotiate lower drug prices, siding with Big Pharma over his own constituents. Sununu really is doing everything possible to put off New Hampshire voters. It is quite remarkable.

  • Oregon and Minnesota: Blue Oregon has the rundown of positive press following Steve Novick's entry into the Oregon Senate race. Similarly, the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune both offer lengthy looks at Mike Ciresi's entry in Minnesota. I get the impression that Franken and Ciresi will be able to play nice and have a productive primary aimed at illustrating Smilin' Norm Coleman's lackluster record.

  • All Things Democrat takes a thoughtful look at how much longer McConnell Republicans will be able to take Bush marching orders.

  • Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Wednesday Night Rundown

  • The headline says it all: "Move To Let Gov't Negotiate Drug Prices Is Squelched By Republicans In Senate" - maybe we should vote some of those Senate Republicans out. A majority of Senators apparently support S. 3, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007, but a vote fell five short of cloture.

    Among the obstructionist Republicans preventing our government from negotiating lower prescription drug costs: Alexander (R-TN), Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Craig (R-ID), Dole (R-NC), Domenici (R-NM), Graham (R-SC), Inhofe (R-OK), McConnell (R-KY), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK), Sununu (R-NH), Warner (R-VA). These "Senators" all voted against lowering prescription drug costs, and their constituents will know about it. (Do Dole, Domenici, and Sununu really need more bad press? Does Sessions need to give Sparks more fodder? I guess so.)

  • Cook's most recent Senate Race Rankings is out. (Note: it is in PDF) Nothing too surprising on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, Sununu is listed as "likely rep" instead of "lean rep," surprisingly. And I don't know how he can rank Smith and Warner as "solid rep" instead of, at least, "likely rep" if not just "lean rep." But that's his outlook.

  • Oregon: Great line from Senate candidate Steve Novick:

    Gordon Smith reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. Remember how at the end of the movie and the Wizard is exposed as a fraud. And Dorothy says, 'you're a very bad man'. And he says, 'No, dear I'm a very good man. I'm just a bad wizard.' Gordon Smith is a very nice man. He's just a very bad Senator.
  • North Carolina: Blue NC offers the latest developments on Elizabeth Dole's mixed messages on the OLF issue.

  • Oklahoma: Blue Oklahoma highlights a draft effort to encourage state senator Andrew Rice to challenge Jim "In Denial" Inhofe. The draft effort's home on the web is

  • Maine: MyDD's Singer looks at Tom Allen's likely entry to the Senate race and touches on Susan Collins' duplicity on self-imposed term limits and Iraq policy.

  • New Mexico: NM FBIHOP looks at the possibility of a challenge to Pajamas Pete Domenici by former state AG Patricia Madrid. NM FBIHOP also notes Madrid's willingness to assist in the Domenici Senate Ethics investigation, which makes me uncomfortable with her as a Senate candidate. Unfair though it may be, it comes off as too opportunistic. Madrid would probably be a terrific Senator - this is just a very unusual set of circumstances.

  • Colorado: Coincidence of the day: Colorado Pols and the Guru both posted responses to WaPo's Cillizza's assessment of Mark Udall's Q1 fundraising post within a very short while of each other. And it turns out that great minds think alike.


    I respectfully disagree with that assessment. ... I don't think Udall having $1.5 million in the bank versus $2 million in the bank would have made a substantive difference.
    Colorado Pols:

    But to suggest that Udall could have raised enough money to scare off Schaffer is a bit silly. ... what difference would it make to Schaffer if Udall had $1.5 million or $2 million?
  • Schadenfreude of the day: "Burns Legal Fees Near $300,000"

    UPDATE (11:20pm): Minnesota: Mike Ciresi's website is up and running.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Check-In

  • Colorado: WaPo's Cillizza suggests that, had Mark Udall raised a more sizable sum in Q1, he might have kept Bob Schaffer out of the race. I respectfully disagree with that assessment. Given the lengths to which Dick Wadhams apparently went to clear the field of Scott McInnis for his good buddy Schaffer, I don't think Udall having $1.5 million in the bank versus $2 million in the bank would have made a substantive difference. That said, I do agree that I'd like to see Udall hauling in significantly more than $335,000 per quarter. Cillizza's post also notes that potential NRSC recruits Denny Rehberg in Montana and Richard Baker in Louisiana were both notably light on the fundraising.

  • Minnesota: Think Progress catches Smilin' Norm Coleman going back-and-forth on his support for Minnesota U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose.

  • Oregon: MyDD's Singer interviewed Senate candidate Steve Novick. The two highlights of the interview are that it's clear that Novick gets the importance of drawing clear distinctions and that Novick sees economic, health care, and other issues through the populist lens of fairness, which certainly resonates with voters. His campaign will indeed be interesting to follow as a couple of Congressmen make up their minds.

  • Minnesota Update

  • Minnesota: Mike Ciresi officially announced his entry into the Senate race to replace Norm Coleman this morning:

    Ciresi talked about growing up in a working class St. Paul family, and going on to secure a $6 billion settlement from tobacco companies for the state of Minnesota.

    He says those values will help him fight for the middle class, which he says is getting squeezed.
    No news yet on a webpage, but when you go to or, you get forwarded to a replica of his Wikipedia page. Go to and you get a simple "Hello World." message. The Guru will keep an eye out if any or all of these become the official page.

    Meanwhile, almost one-third of Norm Coleman's Q1 take was from PACs, $470,000 of his $1.53 million haul. This included the maximum $10,000 contributions allowable under law from the corporate PACs of Eli Lilly & Co., International Paper, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and U.S. Bancorp. It's helpful to see where Norm Coleman's bread is buttered.

    UPDATE (12:01pm): David Strom, President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and one of the three names the Guru posited as hypothetical, Club-for-Growth-style primary challengers to Norm Coleman, responds with a tone somewhere between flattery, incredulity, and eye-rolling... OK, heavy on the eye-rolling. C'mon Mr. Strom. As MNCR says, "Give it a whirl!"

  • First Steps

  • Oregon: Steve Novick officially gets in today. Blue Oregon gives rundown and background. I do very much like Novick's tag line: "The fighter with a hard left hook." (Hmmm... "Hard Left Hook" would be a good name for a blog...)

  • Massachusetts: Some polling out of Suffolk University that would seem, on the surface, to be bad news for Senator John Kerry:

    When voters were asked whether Kerry should run for another six-year term in 2008 or if it is time to give someone else a chance, just 37% indicated that he should seek re-election while 56% said that it was time to give someone else a chance.
    Looks like bad news for Senator Kerry? Blood in the water? Then, NRSC, you ought to dump a couple million bucks in Massachusetts. Go for it. Every dollar the NRSC blows in Massachusetts on a tease is a dollar they won't have available to spend in actually competitive states.

  • Mississippi: Thad Cochran, focus of numerous retirement rumors, announced a Q1 fundraising take of just over $630,000, which is right around his fundraising goal. Cochran's cash-on-hand at the end of Q1 was just under $900,000 - not huge, but hardly paltry. However, money isn't an indication of how competitive Cochran will be. It is an indication of whether or not retirement is on the horizon. The take isn't so low (like John Warner's was) that one could point to it as clear evidence of a retirement bent; but it isn't so high as to say there is no question of a re-election bid.

    One hint suggesting a Cochran re-election bid is the relatively low take of GOP Rep. Chip Pickering, considered to be Cochran's understudy. The aforelinked Clarion-Ledger piece notes that Pickering's Q1 take was less than $18,000, low for a House run, much less a statewide Senate campaign. If Pickering thought he was preparing for a statewide bid, he probably would have hustled more on fundraising. It could actually be that Cochran is, at this point, genuinely undecided on his 2008 plans.

  • Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Massive Tuesday Night Rundown

  • New Mexico: The Politico reports: "The Senate, thanks a resolution it just adopted, has confirmed that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is the subject of 'preliminary inquiry' over his involvement in the firing of former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias." If you're wondering what that sound is, it's the sound of a big pile of bad press for Domenici hitting the newsstands. Expect Domenici's sinking approval to continue its downward trend.

  • Maine: The Hill reports: "Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) likely will make his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2008 official in the next month, campaign manager Valerie Martin told The Hill yesterday." I believe the word is "Booyah."

  • Minnesota: The Star-Tribune reports: "Mike Ciresi is expected formally to declare his candidacy for the DFL nomination for U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning in St. Paul." (HT: MN Publius) MN Blue's Grace Kelly offers a glowing review of Mr. Ciresi.

  • Oregon: While Ciresi is announcing in Minnesota, activist Steve Novick will be announcing his campaign on Wednesday in Oregon. Meanwhile, it seems that Gordon Smith is so freaked out by the Stop Gordon Smith effort that he has started a Democrats for Smith effort with a whopping 23 members (and more than 18 months before Election Day 2008!). Blue Oregon offers more insight, and mcjoan points out: "Note the total absence of information about Smith's party affiliation. Notice the total lack of the color red." Smith can run from his record and his party affiliation all he wants, but it ain't going anywhere.

  • Illinois: Senator Richard Durbin raised over $1.3 million in Q1, putting his bankroll at $4 million. The IL-GOP was already having a plenty difficult time recruiting a credible candidate.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY highlights Mitch McConnell's effort to obstruct Congress from negotiating lower prescription drug costs by filibustering legislation that could achieve a goal that 90% of Americans favor.

  • New Hampshire: The Concord Monitor runs a story with the headline: "Sununu doesn't know enough about warming" (and includes a hilarious "Duh" photo of Sununu) while Blue Hampshire catches Sprintin' Sununu contradicting himself on global climate change just a little bit. The Monitor piece notes: "Critics characterize Sununu as someone who, at best, isn't doing enough to lead on the issue and, at worst, has gotten in the way of potential solutions."

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols wonders if state AG John Suthers' latest effort isn't just a publicity stunt for an upcoming Senate campaign.

  • If the Club for Growth Came to Minnesota

  • Minnesota: The Club for Growth has set up shop in Oregon and rumors abound that Gordon Smith may find himself in a primary against a more fiscally conservative fiscal conservative.

    Just recently, Norm Coleman's name got booed pretty loudly at a rally held by anti-tax conservatives at the Minnesota state capitol. It seems the anti-tax conservatives of Minnesota might not be too happy with Smilin' Norm Coleman. It could be that Minnesota, like Oregon, is ripe for a visit from the Club for Growth's primary fairy.

    So who might the Club for Growth put up as a primary candidate against Smilin' Norm? It would have to be somebody really allergic to any kind of taxation or any kind of government intervention in corporate America. Three names come to mind:

    U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann: As CQ Politics noted during her congressional run last year:

    Bachmann, on the other hand, has made her mark as an outspoken conservative activist.

    Bachmann, a former federal tax attorney, said she has gained “notoriety” by sponsoring anti-tax legislation including the Minnesota Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which would require voters to approve any increases in government revenues and spending above the rate of population growth. She also has gained notice as the proponent of legislation to limit abortions and an amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage.
    Sounds like an arch-conservative's arch-conservative. You can read more about Bachmann's apparent distaste for any kind of taxation on her campaign website.

    David Strom: Strom is the President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. What is the League's mission?

    The League's mission is to fight for lower taxes, smaller and less intrusive government, and to educate citizens regarding free market principles. The Taxpayers League Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that does research, publishes pamphlets and papers, and holds forums educating citizens regarding the importance of free market principles to liberty and prosperity.
    Sounds like somebody the Club for Growth would get along really well with.

    Arthur Rolnick: Rolnick is Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In naming Rolnick the 2005 Minnessotan of the Year, Minnesota Monthly offered insight into Rolnick's intellectual development:

    Rolnick’s market-oriented ideas differed from Heller’s tendency to rely on government intervention: much to his own surprise, Rolnick gravitated toward the philosophies of Milton Friedman, the much-vilified conservative economist whose supply-side theories would be adopted by the Reagan administration. Friedman argued that governments intervening in economic problems usually just made matters worse, and he insisted they adhere to a strict diet of monetary-policy enforcement to control inflation, as well as supply-side management to help markets grow and to reduce unemployment. Today, Rolnick declares himself a free-market, neoclassical economist. “I’m one who starts at the point of saying that where markets work, they generally work well,” he says.
    I think the Club for Growth wouldn't mind Rolnick either.

    So, Club for Growth staff, if you're reading this, definitely consider opening a franchise in Minnesota and giving Bachmann, Strom, or Rolnick a call. If the recent rally at which Norm Coleman's name got booed is any indication, the MN-GOP might be hungry for CfG's strict anti-tax ideology in the form of a Senate primary challenger to Coleman.

  • Quick Hits from the Northwest

  • Oregon: The Democratic Party of Oregon has launched Blue Oregon has the spicy press release:

    “We will hold Gordon Smith accountable for his record as one of President Bush’s strongest allies and his history of voting against the values of Oregonians,” DPO Chair Meredith Wood Smith said. “President Bush already has a personal chef, personal attorney and personal driver. He does not need a personal U.S. Senator.”

    Senator Smith votes with President Bush 90 percent of the time according to Congressional Quarterly. As a Senator, he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with conservative Republicans to limit a woman’s right to choose, worked to reduce environmental protections, called on the United States Attorney General to override Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law and voted for legislation that would gut Oregon’s minimum wage ordinance.

    Smith has consistently raised money for President Bush’s campaigns, proudly campaigned with the President and chaired his 2004 campaign in Oregon.

    And while Smith’s rhetoric on the war in Iraq may change from week to week, his votes show that he has consistently supported the President’s war.
    Another big ouch!

  • Montana: Left in the West picks up on another sign that GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg probably won't challenge popular Senator Max Baucus: Rehberg's "political guy" may be focusing his attention elsewhere. I guess we'll have to keep waiting for the NRSC's first recruiting success.

  • MyDD's Singer pulls out of the polling gobbledegook that Congressional Democrats have it all over the Congressional GOP:

    Democrats in Congress have an approval rating of 54 percent positive, 44 percent negative, the best numbers the party has put up since ABC and The Post began asking the questing in 1994 -- and better than the Republicans have ever received during that same time period. Currently, the Congressional Republicans come in with an approval rating of just 39 percent, up from recent polling but still much worse than the Democrats' rating.
    More good omens.

  • Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

  • Polling indicates that the American people trust Democrats more than Bush on Iraq, 58% to 33%. With Bush's mismanagement of Iraq, it's no wonder that, for the first time, a majority of Americans "believe the United States will lose the war in Iraq, and a new high — two-thirds — say the war was not worth fighting." Someone might want to drop John Sununu, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, Elizabeth Dole, and the rest of the McConnell Republicans a note.

  • Maine: At the end of 2006, Congressman Tom Allen had a cash-on-hand advantage over Susan Collins, roughly $500,000 to $435,000. In Q1, Allen raised $393,000, solid for a House member (though below what I'd like to see for a Senate bid), bringing his cash-on-hand to $812,000. Meanwhile, Collins raised about double Allen, $832,075, an OK number but not overwhelming by any means, bringing her cash-on-hand to about $1.2 million. I'd expect Allen to get a fundraising bump once he formally announces, which I hope will be soon. I'd hate to see another large fundraising disparity in Q2.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig's spokesman seems to be pushing back the timeline for Craig making an announcement on retirement vs. re-election bid. Less than two weeks ago, the line was "this summer" on an announcement. The Idaho Statesman now puts it at "late summer or fall" according to Craig spokesman Dan Whiting. Infer from this what you will.

  • Alabama and Texas: Bush rubber stamps Jeff Sessions and John Cornyn both had OK-to-solid fundraising quarters. Sessions took in $545,000, bringing his cash-on-hand to $1.87 million, and Cornyn apparently took in about $940,000. In both of these states, it is highly unlikely that a Democratic opponent will out-fundraise these Bush rubber stamps, so it will take people-power. Commissioner Ron Sparks has momentum building, if he chooses to enter. I'd like to see more movement out of Texas, especially with Cornyn's lackluster approval rating.

  • New Mexico: I agree with New Mexico FBIHOP that rumors about Governor Bill Richardson running for Senate against Pajamas Pete Domenici if Richardson's Presidential bid doesn't gain traction will probably not materialize into fact. Richardson would be a no-brainer top pick for Secretary of State in a Democratic administration, if not Vice President. I would be very surprised, albeit pleasantly, if Richardson opted for a Senate bid.

  • Alaska: Sit down before viewing this. It is that funny. The Daily Show offers Senator Ted Stevens' thoughts on the White House's missing e-mails.

  • Monday, April 16, 2007

    Afternoon Quick Takes

  • Deepest condolences to the entire Virginia Tech community regarding today's tragic events.

  • Colorado: Congressman Mark Udall officially files for the 2008 Senate victory race. He starts off with a $1.5 million bankroll, including over $330,000 raised in Q1.

  • Virginia: MyDD's Singer notes that more than one-third of Virginia Republicans want John Warner to retire. Judging by Q1 fundraising numbers, they may get their wish.

  • New Mexico: White House spokesperson Dana Perino can't confirm whether or not Pajamas Pete Domenici and Bush had a conversation about firing former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias because she hasn't bothered to ask Bush if such a conversation took place, though she notes that she can't rule it out. Call me crazy, but this seems like a topic on which the Oval Office would want complete clarity. In the Bush administration, it really seems like the title of Press Secretary should be changed to Obfuscator-in-Chief.

  • Louisiana: Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, brother of Senator Mary Landrieu, has announced that he will not run for Governor in 2007. While further strengthening Republican Bobby Jindal's position in the gubernatorial race, it probably also helps out Senator Landrieu's 2008 re-election chances by preventing "Landrieu fatigue."