Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Republican Follies

  • Remember when NRSC Chair John Ensign went panhandling to the RNC for money? Well, I think the RNC might have some trouble helping the NRSC out given recent developments:

    The Republican National Committee, "hit by a grass-roots donors' rebellion over President Bush's immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors," reports the Washington Times.

    "Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee's chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately."
    The RNC is primarily a fundraising operation, and they didn't just scale back on staff a little - they fired all of their telephone fundraisers (and with no notice, apparently)! That's like Toys R' Us closing down its video game aisle or Safeway shutting down its dairy and baked goods sections. Impressively bad.

  • Alaska: The indispensible TPM has the latest details oozing out of Ted Stevens' RenovationGate. The paper trail is becoming more lucid. While there is already the appearance of impropriety given VECO Corp.'s recemt record, if there is anything concretely indictable, it should become public in the next few weeks.

  • Colorado & New Hampshire: With the ideological hard-liners at the Club for Growth having just endorsed Sprintin' John Sununu and Bob Schaffer, the DSCC looks at CfG-endorsees' atrocious electoral record.

  • Safe Democrats

  • Rhode Island: The Phoenix wonders what's next for 2006 RI-GOP Senate primary loser Steve Laffey, suggesting that a 2010 gubernatorial bid is likely while a 2008 challenge to Senator Jack Reed is very unlikely. Another sign that Reed could very well wind up with a free pass or only token opposition.

  • CQPolitics continues its Senate analysis with "Safe Democratic" seats in Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and West Virginia. I concur that these are all very safe. With WV's Shelley Moore Capito and DE's Mike Castle expected to run for House re-election, and Senators Richard Durbin, John Kerry, and Jack Reed expecting only token opposition, these should be very comfortable re-election bids. Michigan is likely the only state of the six that might feature a notable Republican opponent. CQPolitics lists as potential candidates:

    There are some prominent Republicans mentioned as possible 2008 candidates, though, who could give Levin a stronger test than usual were any of them to run. They include 8th District Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and state Attorney General Mike Cox. None of them is expected to run.
    The Guru will keep an ear out for rumblings; but, as CQPolitics notes, none are expected to run.

  • Now that it looks like we may have a new entry in the Presidential race, the Guru wonders when religious and social conservatives will start making a big deal out of the fact that Republican former Senator and would-be Presidential candidate Fred Thompson knocked up his high school girlfriend out of wedlock and ultimately divorced her.

  • Thursday Morning Tidbits

  • Alabama: In an article entitled "War on Dumb: Jeff Sessions' backtrack on Iraq", Birmingham Weekly hammers Sessions' lack of logic and wonders if Sessions is "losing his nerve." (HT: Sack Sessions)

  • New Hampshire: Dean at Blue Hampshire gives us a two-fer. First, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand scores perhaps the most notable endorsement to date: progressive businessman and almost-Senate-candidate Gary Hirshberg. Second, Dean highlights an episode in which Sprintin' John Sununu lacks the support of his own Party's leadership. Shows how much Sununu's Senate "experience" is worth, especially compared to a Democratic replacement who would most likely be a member of the body's majority Party.

  • Nebraska: SSP diarist DaveSund recaps the most recent developments in the Nebraska Senate race, including that it looks like state AG Jon Bruning will officially announce his Senate campaign in June - meaning that if Chuck Hagel wants in, he'll have a tough primary challenge.

  • Kentucky: Two bits of bad news for Mitch McConnell. First, Draft Forgy sees corrupt Governor Ernie Fletcher picking a Larry Forgy ally to chair the KY-GOP. And Ditch Mitch KY sees 2003 Lt. Gov. nominee Charlie Owen moving closer to entering the 2008 Senate race. DMKY mentions:

    Owen is McConnell’s worst nightmare. As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and head of the Kentucky Crime Commission, he is poised to become the Henry Waxman of the Senate, a champion of progressives in rooting out the stench of corruption left behind by McConnell and his pal Jack Abramoff (who gave $16,000 to McConnell).
    Great stuff! Can't wait to see McConnell turn into a pretzel over these challenges.

  • MyDD's Armstrong has heard that Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, "will debut on the [New York Times]'s non-fiction best-seller list at #1 this coming Sunday." Between the success of The Assault on Reason and the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth and the Live Earth concerts and a possible Nobel Peace Prize, this has been quite a year for the former Vice President. I wonder what would make it even better? (You can buy a copy of The Assault on Reason here.)

  • Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Not a Target

  • Alaska: As the FBI continues to investigate Ted Stevens' home improvements, it is highlighted that Stevens is "not a target" of the investigation. TPM diligently highlights that Republicans Rep. John Doolittle and former Sen. Conrad Burns were also "not a target" before they were, in fact a target. TPM makes the point that the "not a target" designation is more a "heads up - you could soon be a target" alert rather than an exoneration.

    Think Progress notes that the Bush administration apparently went to some lengths to keep Stevens out of the process of selecting a U.S. Attorney for Alaska and that Stevens was "furious" about it. Could it be that even Bush thought Stevens was too sullied to participate in the U.S. Attorney process, a process that we all know was hardly a model of appropriateness. It will be riveting to see where this takes Stevens and if it impacts his re-election bid likelihood. (Somebody should give Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich a ring. Now might be a good time to form a Senate exploratory committee to put Stevens on notice and under pressure if the investigation heat escalates.)

  • CQPolitics continues its Senate series with Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, and New Jersey, the four "Democrat Favored" states by their measure. In the Guru's opinion, Arkansas and Iowa are both very safe. Mark Pryor raised more for his Senate re-election bid in Q1 than former Gov. Mike Huckabee raised for his Presidential campaign. And the IA-GOP bench is slim with Senator Harkin having left in his wake several GOP Congressmen who have vied for the seat and lost. Unless one of Iowa's GOP Congressmen want to sacrifice their House seats as a Senate martyr, both of these two states should move from "Democrat Favored" to "Safe Democratic" in the coming months.

    The NJ-GOP Senate primary will not feature former Governors Christine Todd Whitman or Tom Kean Sr. or former Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. or Congressman Mike Ferguson or U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Instead, it will likely be between real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook and conservative state assemblyman Michael Doherty. While Lautenberg could defeat either, with Estabrook's ability to self-finance and Doherty being considered one of the most conservative members of the NJ state Legislature, I'd prefer Doherty as the candidate. However, even with Estabrook's self-financing, this would only be a third tier race.

    As for Montana, while Rehberg apparently preps for a (tough) House re-election bid and Racicot remains silent, Baucus is quite safe. If Rehberg or Racicot got in, it would become a second tier race or higher. However, neither have indicated any interest. Barring unexpected competition, these four seats should remain safe for the incumbents.

  • Another Big Wednesday Morning Rundown

  • CQPolitics begins a series profiling the 2008 Senate races with a glimpse at the Democrats' two top vulnerable incumbents: Louisiana and South Dakota. In both states, it's a waiting game to see who Republicans might put up. Meanwhile, MyDD's Bowers takes a sobering look at candidate recruitment in several states, which has elicited a lot of responses in the comments section.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is rapidly changing his tune on corrupt Governor Ernie Fletcher, now suggesting the he has "never met a finer man than our governor, Ernie Fletcher." As Draft Owen points out, that's quite a swing from McConnell's previous affect toward Fletcher. Could it be that prominent members of the KY-GOP are not too thrilled with McConnell and seeking out alternatives for a primary challenge? For some extra fun, Bluegrass Report looks at other McConnell Superlatives. (Also, following SUSA's poll featuring Beshear (D) beating Fletcher (R) 62-34 is Rasmussen's poll with Beshear topping Fletcher 51-35.)

  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand released a whole slew of new endorsements. Blue Hampshire also notes that Chuck Todd sees one endorsement in particular, State Senator Marsha Fuller Clark's, as a possible indication that former Governor Jeanne Shaheen may not ultimately enter the Senate race, though Todd also hears that Shaheen "is more open to a bid every day." Recall that Shaheen is already beating Sprintin' John Sununu in polling by ten points, 44-34.

  • Nebraska: New Nebraska Network looks at even more Republicans turning on Chuck Hagel. Disaffected Nebraska Republicans have started to mobilize their discontent.

  • New Mexico: NM-FBIHOP reports on more paid media by one of "Pajamas" Pete Domenici's lesser-known opponents, further highlighting Domenici's terrible record on the environment.

  • Idaho: Former Congressman and current Senate candidate Larry LaRocco offered up an insightful and interesting liveblog last night. In a response to the Guru's question, LaRocco said, "I lived by the credo: Do right, risk consequences" during his Congressional career. Wow, a legislator more concerned about doing good than just looking good, someone who will do the hard work. I wouldn't mind that type of person in the U.S. Senate. LaRocco's next liveblog will be at New West Boise this Friday, June 1, 2pm Eastern, 1pm Central, Noon Mountain, 11am Pacific.

  • Texas: Following Congressman Nick Lampson's withdrawal from Senate consideration, attorney Mikal Watts has set up a Senate exploratory committee.

  • Minnesota: Nobel Laureate and possible Senate candidate Dr. Peter Agre put himself through the rigors of an MNCR interview. Dr. Agre discusses issues ranging from Iraq to health care to the Bible. Definitely worth a read-through.

  • Georgia: Via Tondee's Tavern, "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss is apparently the last Georgia Republican willing to show his face with George W. Bush, whose disapproval in Georgia is at 54%. Even with Chambliss' approval under 50%, he still wants to tie himself to the Bush Approval Anchor. No complaints here. Also, not that I thought there was a preponderance of speculation regarding a Senate run for him, but Congressman Sanford Bishop says that he'll be running for House re-election rather than challenging Chambliss for the Senate seat.

  • Think Progress looks back at Dick Cheney's declaration that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes." Oh, that was two years ago, by the way. Since Cheney's "last throes" statement, about 1,800 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq and over 12,000 more wounded.

  • Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    SC-Sen: Introducing Robert Barber Jr.

    South Carolina's senior (though freshman) Senator, Lindsey Graham, is considered to be one of the safest Republican incumbents in 2008. Indeed, even the Guru ranked South Carolina a "fifth tier" seat (on a five-tier scale) back in January. Can South Carolina be written off, then, as a potential battleground Senate race in 2008? It shouldn't be. Why? I'll quote from Swing State Project's post "AL-Sen: Introducing Ron Sparks" (by which, you may notice, this post is partially inspired):

    Lighting brushfires behind supposedly Republican lines has the potential to stretch NRSC and RNC resources to the breaking point, all in a critical Presidential election year. And, of course: you can't ever expect to win if you don't even show up.
    So, to start, what's wrong with Lindsey Graham? Despite a reputation as something of a maverick, Graham has a Presidential Support Score of 91%. As of last November, George W. Bush's approval in South Carolina was down to 41% and his disapproval up to 56%. So, while only 4 in 10 South Carolinians approve of Bush's performance, Graham supports him 9 times out of 10. Empowering Veterans has targetted Graham for his lousy record on veterans and the middle class:

    Awarded a Grade of D- by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
    Awarded a Rating of 0%in 2004 by the Disabled American Veterans
    Awarded a Rating of 42% in 2005 by the Disabled American Veterans
    Awarded a Rating of 40% in 2006 by the Disabled American Veterans
    It goes on. Meanwhile, Graham's base has their problems with him, manifested in his getting booed at the recent state Republican convention. That doesn't sound like an excited foundation of support.

    So, again to quote the SSP post introducing the netroots to Ron Sparks (and replacing Alabama references with South Carolina references):

    Is there a South Carolina Democrat credible enough to mount a respectable challenge to Graham--a challenge that's strong enough to turn some heads on the national scene, and maybe, just maybe has an outside shot of delivering a deep South victory for the Democratic Party? Meet the man who could make it happen: Robert Barber Jr.
    Most recently, Robert Barber Jr. was the top vote-getting Democrat in South Carolina's 2006 elections. His 540,306 votes (or 49.79%) fell just 3,108 votes shy of defeating incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer. Barber even outpaced the Democratic gubernatorial candidate by about 5%. It's possible that Barber might even be South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor today if his campaign wasn't distracted about two weeks before Election Day by a tragically unexpected kitchen fire in the restaurant run by Barber and his family, and originally opened by his grandparents in 1946.

    Taking it back a step, Barber has a unique and impressive resume. Except for his time spent at two graduate school programs, Barber is a lifelong South Carolinian. Wikipedia offers a succinct encapsulation of his academic career and early professional and electoral career:

    After graduating from Columbia High School in 1967, he attended Wofford College and graduated in 1971. Barber later received a Masters of Divinity from Duke University in 1976. He then returned to his native state and served as a minister in two Laurens County churches before entering law school. Receiving his law degree in 1982 from the South Texas College of Law, Barber engaged in a general practice of law in Charleston before being elected to the Charleston County School Board in 1984.
    So, by the age of 35, Barber is already a minister-lawyer-Charleston School Board member. The biography continues:

    Barber served for four years on the Charleston County School Board and from 1986-1988 served as its chairman. In 1988, he was elected into the South Carolina House of Representatives. Serving in the House from 1989-1994, Barber spent time on the Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Operations and Management Committees. In 1993 and 1994, he chaired the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy. In 1994, rather than run for re-election, Barber ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as the Democratic candidate for the First Congressional District, but lost to a political newcomer named Mark Sanford [who, of course, went on to the Governorship of South Carolina].
    So, Barber has plenty of political and legislative experience. But the best part, really showing his true colors as a progressive, occurs between his Congressional run and his Lt. Gov. bid:

    After leaving the SC House, Barber split his time between running Bowen's Island Seafood Restaurant, which his grandparents founded in the 1940s, and serving as a consultant for a range of predominantly not-for-profit public interest groups. A conservationist, health care advisor, and advocate for the state's elderly population, Barber has attempted to improve the lives of many South Carolinians through his work for organizations such as the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the College of Charleston, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation, the Sierra Club and the Association of Council on Aging Directors.
    Perhaps the most heart-warming part is the mention that Barber met his wife in the fifth grade. They dated through high school, got married after college, and his wife LaNelle is a public school teacher in Charleston.

    Barber's tireless advocacy work for such progressive organizations led to truly impassioned endorsements from organizations like the Conservation Voters of South Carolina. You can also read more about Barber courtesy of the Sierra Club, WLTX, WCSC, Brad Warthen's Blog (a very interesting perspective), or Barber's own Lt. Gov. campaign announcement from which one can get a sense of his rhetoric and priorities:

    My campaign will be based on Main Street values cherished by South Carolinians-hard work, spiritual grounding, common sense, bipartisan cooperation and steady progress in education and the economy. Above all, I will keep in mind that strong stewardship of South Carolina's tax dollars is essential. My family and I will visit 110 Main Streets in South Carolina during this campaign-and I'll give 110% to the effort. ...

    Being Lieutenant Governor should involve much more than simply wearing a purple robe at the State House, sending out an occasional news release and presiding over ribbon cuttings. The Lieutenant Governor needs to be at the forefront on improving education, creating jobs, increasing state government efficiency, reforming taxes, conserving natural resources and providing better care for our senior citizens, our young children, and other vulnerable citizens. ...

    Over the next several months, I will lay out my Main Street platform in each of these substantive areas of importance. I also will focus on three items very closely connected to the office of Lieutenant Governor. First, I will strive to improve the working relationships between the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the state legislature. Second, I will work to make the legislative process more accountable and accessible to all citizens. Finally, as the next Lieutenant Governor, I will create a more effective Office on Aging for our senior citizens.

    Like South Carolinians in every corner of the state, my heart goes out to those who have suffered immeasurable losses from Hurricane Katrina. Voters should and will demand that South Carolina's local, state and federal officials work in seamless coordination so we are prepared for even the worst case emergencies - and that includes not only hurricanes but earthquakes, tornadoes, transportation accidents, toxic spills and terrorist acts.
    Robert Barber Jr. has a strong record of public service as a community leader, a legislator, and an advocate. He clearly has the desire to continue his service. And, based on his 2006 Lt. Gov. race performance, he indeed has a strong base of support from which to start. Meanwhile, the only South Carolina Democrats about which there is even speculation of a Senate bid are 2004 Senate candidate Inez Tenenbaum, the former South Carolina Superintendent of Education who lost to Jim DeMint 54-44, and former state Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin.

    A Senate challenge to Lindsey Graham would no doubt be an uphill battle, to be sure. Graham's 56-34 approval-disapproval is solid, but hardly intimidating enough to write off by any means. For instance, Lindsey Graham has an approval among black voters of 45%, among Democrats of 47%, among liberals of 46%, and among pro-choice voters of 52%. While this indicates broad "contentment" with Graham, should a viable Democrat step forward to challenge him, that Democrat could likely count on gaining much of that support.

    Ultimately, in Robert Barber Jr., we have a progressive small businessman, former preacher, former legislative leader and community advocate with a desire to serve his state and a strong foundation of support from which to begin a campaign. Maybe someone should ask him if he's interested in running for Senate.

    Post-Holiday Weekend Rundown

  • Idaho: Don't forget that tonight is the liveblog session on IdaBlue with Democratic former Congressman Larry LaRocco, the only announced candidate for Senate in 2008 from Idaho. 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central, 8pm Mountain, 7pm Pacific.

  • Texas: Congressman Nick Lampson will be running for re-election to the House rather than challenging John Cornyn for the Senate seat. The Texas netroots seem pleased with the decision. To be honest, I am a bit surprised. I figured that Lampson's political calculation would result in him deciding that it would be less difficult to challenge the unpopular Cornyn statewide than it would be to hold his seat in the Republican-leaning district (Tom Delay's old district), and that that calculation would be his deciding factor, cynical as that may be. Perhaps Lampson's decision will prompt others to announce their 2008 intentions.

  • Alaska: The FBI is investigating the remodeling of Ted Stevens' home due to the project's relationship with the corrupt VECO Corporation.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon's ever-vigilant Kari Chisholm notes that, yes, Gordon Smith's pants are on fire regarding Iraq, as Smith springboards from his pro-Iraq War vote to a fundraising spree. Also, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and the good folks at Loaded Orygun have very kind words for Smith callenger Steve Novick, including: "Steve will speak 'truth to power' every day he serves in the Senate" and "Steve Novick could literally change the face of debate in the United States Congress."

  • Kentucky: DMKY sees the Lexington Herald-Leader calling Mitch McConnell out for passing the buck on Iraq mismanagement from the Bush administration and GOP leadership to the Iraqi people. Meanwhile, the conservative netroots are increasingly disenchanted with McConnell and promoting the Draft Larry Forgy movement.

  • Alabama: Even Bush rubber stamp Jeff Sessions is beginning to sweat on Iraq. Well, even in Alabama, Bush's approval is in the low-40's and his disapproval in the mid-50's. Could Sparksmania also be helping to add a little sweat to the brow of Jeff Sessions?

  • Minnesota: MNCR will be interviewing Nobel Laureate and possible Senate candidate Dr. Peter Agre this evening. If you have ideas for questions you'd like to see asked, share them with MNCR.

  • Whoa! A Republican apparently lying in order to cover for her involvement in an inappropriate, potentially illegal act. I know. I'm shocked, too.

  • Monday, May 28, 2007

    Have a Reflective Memorial Day

  • Two things you can do this Memorial Day. 1) Send an e-mail thanking our brave troops for their service. 2) Send an e-mail chastising the worst Commander-in-Chief in history for his mismanagement, ineptitude, and lies.

  • Kentucky: MyDD's Singer compares the 2008-cycle KY-GOP to the 2006-cycle OH-GOP, looking at both's scandal, corruption, and general discord. Meanwhile Draft Forgy looks at another possible primary challenger to Mitch McConnell, former state representative Steve Nunn, reportedly a "moderate who has clashed with McConnell in the past."

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon put Gordon Smith's approve-disapprove numbers on a fancy chart. It's clear that his approval spike was due to his then-new-found opposition to the Iraq war, using words like "absurd" and "criminal." Now that Smith is back voting in favor of prolonging the Iraq War, his approval is below 50%. I would expect diminishing returns every time Smith flip-flops back in opposition to the Iraq War. With every successive flip-flop, more voters will take notice that Smith is absolutely devoid of conviction.

  • Sunday, May 27, 2007

    Observances and Observations

  • With tomorrow being the observed date of Memorial Day, the day on which we formally observe the sacrifices of those brave soldiers who have died for our freedoms, we also observe those who are unnecessarily dying still:

    In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year.
    It calls to mind the famous quote by now-Senator John Kerry, then a soldier home from Vietnam testifying to bring an end to that war, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

  • Here is Al Gore on The Daily Show discussing his new book, The Assault on Reason. Here is the New York Times' review of The Assault on Reason. Now, buy The Assault on Reason.

  • Nebraska & Iowa: New Nebraska Network's Ryan Anderson remains perplexed about Chuck Hagel's 2008 electoral plans, be they a Senate re-election bid, a Republican or independent (Vice) Presidential bid, or retirement from politics. (If I had to bet money on a prediction, I would go with running mate to NYC Mayor Bloomberg on an independent ticket, for reasons I have earlier outlined.) Meanwhile, Anderson notes this poll question asked of Iowa Republicans regarding withdrawal from Iraq:

    5. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
    Yes 54%
    No 37%
    Undecided 9%
    A majority of Iowa Republicans favor a total withdrawal from Iraq relatively soon. I take it as another sign that Tom Harkin is pretty safe for re-election.

  • Kentucky: Draft Forgy highlights more discord among Kentucky Republicans courtesy of Mitch McConnell, including this Louisville Courier-Journal article, and how it could further lead to a Senate primary challenge for McConnell. I do believe that if McConnell flat-out told KY-Gov GOP primary loser Anne Northup to be at the GOP unity rally following the gubernatorial primary, she would have been there. But she didn't show, and I take that as a sign that McConnell certainly won't be doing as much as he could to help Ernie Fletcher's re-election bid. Larry Forgy ought to make McConnell pay by stepping up to him in a Senate primary.

  • I have never seen anything quite like this. Former Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card gets booed to the Nth degree as he accepts an honorary degree at the University of Massachusetts' commencement ceremony.

  • Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Quiet Saturday Quick Hits

  • Kentucky: DMKY sees the conservative blogosphere growing very displeased with Mitch McConnell. (By "displeased," I mean that an online poll saw 92% responding positively to a question about McConnell resigning his leadership post if bipartisan immigration reform passes.)

  • Minnesota: Attorney Mike Ciresi announces some notable endorsements from the Minnesota state Legislature.

  • Happy half-decade, Daily Kos!

  • Friday, May 25, 2007

    Friday Night Rundown

  • Kentucky: Following the gubernatorial primaries, polling has Steve Beshear (D) beating the heck out of corrupt incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher (R). Should get the KY-Dems psyched up. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is saying that the immigration bill won't hurt any Senators electorally. Then why, Mitch, is Robert Novak reporting that "Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia were booed at their respective state party conventions Sunday for supporting a compromise immigration bill." When the Senate Republicans need a steady rock to cling to, Mitch McConnell is happy to offer himself as an anchor. Also, as is the current rage, it appears a Draft Charlie Owen blog has sprung up to encourage the 2003 Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee to jump into the race against McConnell.

  • Oregon: After his hypocritical vote to continue Bush's Iraq War without oversight (I guess he doesn't think it's too criminal after all), Gordon Smith will be spending Memorial Day weekend hiding from his constituents. In fact, Blue Oregon's Chisholm reports that Smith's receptionist noted that Smith has "no public events scheduled until August". Gordon Smith is a coward. Period.

  • Maine: The Bangor Daily News highlights Susan Collins' upholding the suspension of habeas corpus. I guess after almost 800 years, Collins thinks the habeas corpus fad has run its course. (HT: Collins Watch)

  • North Carolina: Congressman Brad Miller is still wrestling over whether or not to jump into the Senate race against relatively unpopular Elizabeth Dole. (HT: Blue South)

  • Alabama: George W. Bush is bringing his 55% disapproval rating in Alabama to the state raise some slimy money for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. Meanwhile, as Sessions cavorts with Bush, Commissioner Ron Sparks is making the rounds, meeting with actual Alabama voters, and spreading Sparksmania.

  • Tennessee: CQPolitics lists several reasons why Lamar Alexander could be vulnerable in 2008:

    Since Alexander’s election in 2002, the Republican Party’s stock has declined nationwide, largely a result of the Iraq war.

    A poll taken by Middle Tennessee State University in February showed President Bush’s approval rating among Tennesseans had dropped to 34 percent from the 42 percent he claimed a year prior. This is in a state where he beat Gore — then the vice president and a former House and Senate member from Tennessee — by 51 percent to 47 percent in 2000, then trounced Democrat John Kerry by 57 percent to 43 percent in 2004.

    A question on party affiliation in the February poll also showed that Democrats had gone from a 6 percentage-point disadvantage to a 2-point lead over Republicans.

    The poll also suggested Tennesseans’ ranking of the importance of issues might be conducive to a Democratic candidacy. For the second consecutive year, health care was listed as the most pressing problem, closely followed by education; Democrats typically poll well ahead of Republicans on their ability to handle these issues.
    Now, all we need are some Democratic candidates to take it to him.

  • If this is the best John McCain has left in his tank, he's pretty much finished.

  • Stepping into the Ring in the Deep South

  • Georgia: I've said several times that the Peach State seems to have had the most significant Dem-to-GOP shift over the last decade. Nevertheless, "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss is still vulnerable against the right challenger (and, again, he is the incumbent I would most like to see fall in '08). InsiderAdvantage, the same polling outfit that saw Chambliss beating "Conservative Democrat" Vernon Jones 48-31, had Chambliss barely squeaking out a lead, within the margin of error, against former Governor Roy Barnes, 42-40. While Barnes is ostensibly done with electoral politics for himself, this should hopefully serve as encouragement to the likes of Congressman Jim Marshall and state Attorney General Thurbert Baker and others should they be considering a run. Chambliss isn't invincible just because of Georgia's trend - Chambliss is, in fact, quite, well, vincible. It doesn't help Chambliss much that his base is booing him and that he is delusional enough to think that the progress in Iraq is "truly amazing." DKos diarist MrLiberal offers further thoughts on the poll and possible Chambliss challengers.

  • Kentucky: Draft Forgy gives us a two-fer on a possible primary challenger to Mitch McConnell. First, DF picks up the National Journal reporting on Forgy apparently warming to the idea: "Early reports are that Forgy, the party's 1995 gubernatorial nominee, appears willing to do so." Second, DF picks up on reports that corrupt Ernie Fletcher's vanquished GOP primary foes won't stand with him at the GOP unity rally - this of course includes McConnell sycophant Anne Northup. And this is also the scenario under which Forgy originally suggested McConnell might face a primary challenge. How long will McConnell-Northup kick the Forgy-Fletcher beehive before Forgy stings 'em?

  • Alabama: Perhaps the best blog name in the blogosphere is Doc's Political Parlor & Home of Lawn Mower Repair. Today, DPP offers us a look at Jeff Sessions' potential challengers. The post suggests that Commissioner Ron Sparks' candidacy is very likely and also that State Senator Vivian Figures' candidacy is more likely than I originally thought.

  • Personal note: I think it's very encouraging that on a lovely Friday afternoon, a little more than 17 months before Election Day 2008, we're discussing potentially competitive (albeit obviously uphill) Senate races in Georgia, Kentucky, and Alabama.

  • Fox News offers about half the Iraq coverage of CNN and MSNBC, but about double the Anna Nicole Smith coverage. Is there really a need for more reasons to scoff at Fox?

  • Coming Due

  • While there is much discussion over which Democratic Presidential candidate would be the most helpful to downticket candidates, like those running for the Senate and House, it's becoming clear that none of the current Republicans Presidential candidates will offer much in the way of enthusiasm or coattails for downticket GOP candidates, what with 57% of Republicans unsatisfied with the current crop of GOP Prez primary choices.

  • Texas: Atrios notes that John "Box Turtle" Cornyn's most recent Friedman Unit on Iraq comes due tomorrow. I wonder if Cornyn's office will issue a release tomorrow on all of the great progress we've been seeing on the ground in Iraq.

  • Kentucky: DMKY highlights the National League of Women Voters taking Mitch McConnell to task for his "cheap political trick to keep legal, eligible voters out of the electoral process."

  • New Hampshire: When Blue Hampshire puts it like this, I have to wonder - maybe Sprintin' John Sununu didn't realize he was voting on Iraq. Maybe he just kind of missed it. Oh, and BH's Barker also rightly throws in jabs at Sununu's idiocy on health care and hypocrisy on the minimum wage. Additionally, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand's endorsements continue to garner earned media, while awkwardly slipped into the middle of the article is former Governor Jeanne Shaheen's spokesperson noting that the former Governor is "still contemplating a run at the U.S. Senate."

  • Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Thursday Night Quick Hits

  • It should probably help Congressional Democratic incumbents and challengers at the polls that Americans trust Democrats over Republicans on, well, every single issue.

  • South Carolina: Republicans in South Carolina are taking shots at Lindsey Graham. The York County Republican Party chairman issued a call to action e-mail against Graham this week regarding immigration legislation. Also, "Graham was booed last weekend at the state GOP convention for supporting the [immigration legislation] measure." What's with Republicans booing their own lately? Back in mid-April, Norm Coleman had his name thoroughly booed at a rally held by anti-tax conservatives at the Minnesota state capitol. And just a few days back, "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss got booed at a Republican convention. It doesn't seem like the GOP base is very excited about their incumbents.

  • Maine: Congressman Tom Allen took some time out of his schedule to do some blogospheric outreach, dicussing, among other things, how Susan Collins has been very wrong on issues like the Iraq War and giant tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

  • New Hampshire: With the count standing at one vote shy in the Senate of overturning Bush's veto on stem cell legislation, Sprintin' John Sununu is taking even more heat for his position against research that could cure pesky things like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. There is even geared toward urging Sununu to vote to overturn Bush's veto and allow this life-saving research. In other Granite State goingson, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand stuck it to Sprintin' Sununu on Iraq and announced a bunch of notable endorsements.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon (and many others) is astounded by how many times Gordon Smith can flip and flop and flip and flop on Iraq. Meanwhile, the Ashland Daily Tidings profiles support for a possible Senate run by State Senator Alan Bates.

  • New Mexico: As Pajamas Pete Domenici's approval numbers continue to sag, Monica Goodling's House Judiciary testimony yesterday has led to more questions for Domenici in regards to the source of his sinking poll numbers, his role in the Attorney Purge scandal, beginning with who Domenici and his staff actually, really, really spoke to and when those conversations occured. While Domenici's poll drop is levelling off, the Attorney Purge scandal isn't going anywhere, so the poll numbers should cement right around the 50% line. Once again, quite a plummet from the high 60's.

  • Colorado: Conservative Bob Schaffer's nascent campaign's staff consists of notable electoral losers.

  • Alabama: America is a wondeful melting pot of peoples and cultures. That is, unless you believe, as Jeff Sessions does, that people from other countries simply "create cultural problems." So much for the melting pot, I guess.

  • Kentucky: If you don't think that corrupt Ernie Fletcher's gubernatorial GOP primary victory will be a constant source of embarrassment and consternation for Mitch McConnell, think again.

  • Greatest bird ever.

  • Republican "Responsibility"

  • Colorado: Conservative former Rep. Bob Schaffer made a funny:

    Bob Schaffer outlined his 2008 senate-election platform at the Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday. ...

    He said that Republicans should be more economically responsible, such as the Reagan administration was.
    Hmmm... Reagan administration... economically responsible... well, let's check the statistics (in PDF). National debt in 1980 at the start of the Reagan administration: just over $900 billion, or about one-third of our annual GDP. National debt in 1988 at the end of the Reagan administration: over $2.6 trillion, or just over one-half of our annual GDP. That's what Bob Schaffer calls "economically responsible"?? Nearly tripling the national debt in eight years? Wow.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY's Gunterman offers us a two-fer. First, he looks at the source of humiliation that Larry Forgy has the potential to be for Mitch McConnell. Then, he picks up on Charlie Owen meeting with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer. Could an official Owen for Senate announcement be down the line? MyDD's Singer also offers some thoughts on the Draft Larry Forgy movement.

  • Maine: The ever-vigilant Collins Watch catches some more astroturfing courtesy of Susan Collins' sycophants.

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon speculates that Gordon Smith, who has claimed to be against the Iraq War since just after Election Day 2006, may have been instrumental in stripping the timeline provisions that would have brought about an end to the Iraq War that Smith claims to be against. Sound like double-talk to you? Yeah, me too.

  • Two last things. First, I want to wish Mary Cheney and her new baby best wishes, long life, and good health. Second, I would like to point out that if Mary Cheney's father's boss and handlers have their way, the unrelated, unmarried woman that Mary lives with, her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, will never have any legally recognized ties to the child.

  • May Senate Approval Numbers from Survey USA

    Survey USA just posted their May approval numbers. (For a refresher, here are April's numbers.)

    New May numbers in bold, 4/24/07 numbers in brackets, 11/22/06 in parenthesis

    Norm Coleman: 51-42 [53-41] (48-43)
    John Cornyn: 46-40 [43-40] (45-42)
    Pete Domenici: 52-42 [54-38] (68-25)
    Mitch McConnell: 54-39 [53-40] (54-39)
    Pat Roberts: 52-36 [48-39] (51-36)
    Jeff Sessions: 60-31 [54-36] (58-32)
    Gordon Smith: 48-39 [51-41] (54-37)
    John Warner: 62-29 [55-33] (60-28)

    Tom Harkin: 56-36 [57-38] (53-40)
    John Kerry: 47-47 [54-41] (48-50)

    1) On the Democratic side: Glad to see Harkin hang tight in the mid-50's. In a perverse way, I'm glad to see Kerry drop back down; it might encourage national Republicans to waste money, time, and resources there.
    2) Domenici's drop continues, but is beginning to level off in the low-50's. Quite a plummet from the pre-Attorney Purge scandal approval in the high 60's.
    3) Gordon Smith dipping below 50 and Cornyn languishing below 50 should hopefully jumpstart the situations in Oregon and Texas.
    4) Coleman, McConnell, and Roberts continue to float around 50. It's amazes me that even Roberts in Kansas can't get above the low-50's.
    5) It is disappointing to see Sessions and Warner shoot back up - especially Warner, who is pondering retirement. We want him thinking that a re-election bid will be a painstaking, arduous undertaking and not a worthy alternative to retirement.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    What's in a Name?

  • Louisiana: The Republican powers-that-be must not be too thrilled with their current crop of Senate candidate prospects in Louisiana, like weak-polling Jay Dardenne and weak-fundraising Richard Baker. Why? Because, as Stu Rothenberg reports on PW, Karl Rove went to the Pelican State to "woo State Treasurer John Kennedy (D) to the GOP and into the 2008 Senate race against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)." I'm repeatedly told that Mary Landrieu is the most vulnerable Democratic Senator in years, but all indications keep saying "Safer and safer."

  • South Dakota: Add a second name to the list of Republicans publicly interested in a challenge to the popular, still-recovering Senator Tim Johnson: state rep. Joel D. Dykstra, who says he'll make a decision over the summer. (And, credit where credit is due. It seems like most South Dakota Republicans have been very civil and respectful during Senator Johnson's recovery, rather than exploiting his recovery time for political gain. Kudos.)

  • Minnesota: CQPolitics profiles Dr. Peter Agre, the Nobel Laureate and Duke professor considering a Senate bid. Given the current administration's war on science, it would be fascinating to have a Nobel Prize-winning scientist directly contributing to the political debate.

  • New Mexico: Courtesy of NM-FBIHOP, one of Pajamas Pete Domenici's lesser known opponents is already taking out paid advertising against Domenici. Every little bit helps as Domenici's poll numbers continue their free fall.

  • Massachusetts: Attorney Ed O'Reilly, who is preparing a primary challenge to Senator John Kerry, shares some thoughts via Blue Mass Group. Not that I expect O'Reilly's candidacy to make any significant inroads against Senator Kerry, but, assuming O'Reilly files all necessary paperwork and makes his candidacy official, I do hope Senator Kerry agrees to a primary debate to promote the integrity of the democratic process.

  • Monica Goodling gave her testimony today regarding the Attorney Purge scandal. Crooks & Liars sums up where the buck stops (or doesn't stop) on the scandal:

    Lawmakers asked Kyle Sampson about who drew up the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and how those names got on the list. Dunno, he said. They asked Alberto Gonzales. Beats me, he said. They asked Paul McNulty. Ask everybody else, he said. They asked Monica Goodling. Ask anybody else, she said.
    Since no high ranking official at the Department of Justice, from the Attorney General on down, seems to have any idea of whose decision it was to fire these U.S. Attorney, then, quite seriously, the fired U.S. Attorneys should simply return to work. Apparently, nobody actually fired them. It was all a big misunderstanding. The fired attorneys should just go back to their offices on Monday like nothing every happened and simply say, "Hey, if they actually want me fired, they should publicly declare it. Apparently, nobody really wanted me fired." Just show up at the office on Monday. Seems like the best way to handle it.

  • Thoughts on "Unknown"

    [Cross-posted at my SSP and DKos diaries.]

    In the left-hand column of the Guru's website, there is a list of "Democratic Senatorial Incumbents and Candidates" featuring Democratic incumbents, announced Democratic challengers for GOP-held seats, and Democrats considering bids for GOP-held seats. Though there is still much time left to recruit challengers, there are seven states on the list featuring only "unknown" - in other words, there are seven states with Republican incumbent Senators where there are no Democrats even publicly considering a Senate bid, only rumors at best. Let's look at those seven states.

    Alaska: Given Ted Stevens' advanced age (he's 83), his penchant for flying off in a tizzy from time to time, and his proximity to scandal, Democrats ought to field someone credible just in case. Much speculation has focused on Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who is term-limited out of office in 2009. I think he should definitely run. Best case scenario, he wins. Worst case scenario, he loses but he increases his statewide profile for a 2010 challenge to Lisa Murkowski, who is significantly less popular than Stevens at a time when the Murkowski name isn't worth what it used to be in Alaska. (Her father, former Senator and now-former-Governor Frank Murkowski, had a dismal 19% showing in his 2006 primary bid for re-election after having taken heat for the nepotism associated with naming his daughter to his old Senate seat.) If the DSCC offered him continued support in 2010 if he didn't win 2008, he could go for it. Otherwise, we ought to check with Alaska Democratic mainstay former Governor Tony Knowles or, perhaps more quixotically, former Senator and current Presidential candidate Mike Gravel to see if they wouldn't mind having their name on the line just in case. Race tracker wiki: AK-Sen

    Georgia: The Peach State has arguably shifted more than any other state in the nation from Democratic- to Republican-trending over the last decade. Right now, the only thing Democrats have resembling a candidate under the Democratic banner is self-proclaimed "conservative Democrat" and 2004 Bush voter Vernon Jones, the weak-fundraising CEO of DeKalb County. Beyond that, some Democratic insiders have been urging Congressman Jim Marshall to consider a Senate bid, though Marshall may have a tough House re-election bid on his hands (could that motivate him to just jump into the Senate fray?). Meanwhile state Attorney General Thurbert Baker has done nothing to quash speculation about Senate interest. DKos diarists biglib (also now at Tondee's Tavern), Mister Gloom, and VolvoDrivingLiberal offer thoughts on the GA-Dem bench - mostly just rumors, former candidates, or current office-holders that like where they are. "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss is the Republican incumbent I would most like to see lose in 2008 as a result of his despicable 2002 campaign, so I hope the GA-Dems come up with something interesting. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: not a day goes by where I don't hope that true American patriot and former Senator Max Cleland doesn't reconsider a rematch of 2002. (If you'll forgive the triple-negative in the previous sentence, I just really want Cleland to get in the race and give Chambliss his comeuppance.) Race tracker wiki: GA-Sen

    Kansas: Pat Roberts' approval hovers right around the 50% zone, but Kansas is still a red state. The dream candidate remains popular Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has expressed no interest in a 2008 Senate race and may be holding out for the 2008 Veepstakes. With an approval in the 60-70% range and approval among Republicans over 50%, I'm confident she could beat Pat Roberts. Kansas does enjoy other Democratic statewide elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson (a former KS-GOP Chair who switched parties to run with Sebelius) and state Attorney General Paul Morrison, as well as Democratic Congresspeople Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda (half of Kansas' four-person House delegation), but none have indicated interest in a Senate bid. It would be disappointing to see a potentially competitive race in the heartland fall by the wayside; and, as long as Roberts hovers around 50% approval, Kansas is potentially competitive. Race tracker wiki: KS-Sen

    Mississippi: There is a question as to whether or not incumbent Thad Cochran will run for re-election. Despite the unusual signals that might suggest retirement, if I had to make a prediction right now, I would offer that Cochran would run for another term, given Cochran's steady fundraising compared with the meager showing of Cochran understudy Chip Pickering. The dream candidate in Mississippi would be former state Attorney General Mike Moore, but it has been suggested that Moore would only put the effort into a run if Cochran retired - the catch-22 being that Cochran might only retire if he faced a stiff challenge from someone like Moore. Like Kansas, half of Mississippi's four-person House delegation is Democratic, but there have been no rumblings. Even yearnings for celebrity candidates like author (and former state legislator) John Grisham or actor Morgan Freeman have made the rounds. But, so far, silence. Race tracker wiki: MS-Sen

    South Carolina: With a very lean SC-Dem bench, Lindsey Graham could be more likely to face a primary challenge from a Club for Growth-style right-winger unhappy with Graham's maverick nature than a viable Democrat. Nevertheless, every state should have a challenger. The race tracker wiki only offers speculation on the SC-Dems' 2004 Senate challenger, former State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, and former state Party Chair Joe Erwin. Tenenbaum's successor as Superintendent, Jim Rex, remains South Carolina's only statewide elected Democrat (and barely, at that, with Rex taking 47.50% percent of the vote to the Republican's 47.45% of the vote, winning by less than 500 votes in a race where the Green Party candidate took about 9,000 votes, while the Libertarian, Independence, and Constitution Party candidates combined for over 45,000 votes or over 4% of the total vote). The Palmetto State's six-person House delegation features two Democrats, both of whom have plum committee assignments in the new Democratic House majority that they probably would not want to part with. A second-look at the 2006 state election results offer that the top vote-getting Democrat was not Jim Rex but rather Robert Barber, who narrowly lost his bid for the Lieutenant Governor's office and who has a very interesting background. If I were the DSCC, I'd give Mr. Barber a ring and find out if there was any interest. Race tracker wiki: SC-Sen

    Tennessee: Tennessee actually enjoys a fairly solid, intriguing bench of potential Senate candidates. Still, pretty much nothing but silence. Meanwhile, Lamar Alexander's approval looms unintimidatingly in the low-50's. 2006 Democratic TN-Sen nominee former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has taken the reins of the DLC and seems to have backed off of speculation about a repeat bid in '08. Extremely popular Governor Phil Bredesen has not shown any interest in a Senate bid that he could very reasonably win. Perhaps he, like Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, is waiting on the 2008 Veepstakes. (Come to think of it, the "popular Democratic Governor uninterested in a very winnable Senate challenge against a lackluster Republican incumbent in favor of the '08 Veepstakes" motif fits a few states, including Tennessee, Kansas, and North Carolina, and even Wyoming minus the Veepstakes angle.) Ford's 2006 primary opponent, state senator Rosalind Kurita, lost a lot of goodwill when she voted for the Republican Speaker of the Senate/Lt. Gov. over the Democratic incumbent. Speculation has also surrounded Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, former state Party Chair Bob Tuke, Tipper Gore, and musician & Bush critic Tim McGraw. DKos diarist Sidof79 keeps regularly tabs on the potential candidates, offering a near-monthly update. However, so far we have only heard speculation. Race tracker wiki: TN-Sen

    Wyoming: It frequently feels like there are only two Democrats who live in Wyoming: extremely popular Governor Dave Freudenthal, who has demonstrated no interest in a Senate bid; and Gary Trauner, who very narrowly lost his 2006 at-large House challenge to Barbara Cubin and looks like he may be opting for a rematch there. If I were to gauge the landscape right now, I would deem Mike Enzi the safest Republican up for re-election in 2008 (and the most likely to get a free ride), unless Governor Freudenthal finds the desire to run for Senate. Surely, somewhere in Wyoming is a Jon Tester/Scott Kleeb-style progressive, populist farmer/rancher. Race tracker wiki: WY-Sen

    Again, every state should find a challenger. These seven states are not un-winnable. In fact, most of these states have the potential to be highly competitive races. Of the seven, three (Kansas, Tennessee, and Wyoming) have very popular Democratic Governors who could immediately make for top-tier races in their respective states. Alaska has, in my mind, a clear choice to pursue in Mayor Begich, with the offer of continued support through 2010. Mississippi sees a possible retirement in Cochran as well as another obvious preferred candidate in former AG Moore. In Georgia, Chambliss' approval also looms around the low-50's; maybe if we ask for Senator Cleland politely enough he'll change his mind and immediately turn Georgia into a highly competitive race. South Carolina is tough, but there should be no free rides.

    Real Republican Losers

  • Kentucky: The Bluegrass State held its gubernatorial primaries yesterday, and the real loser was Mitch McConnell. In the Republican primary, corrupt Republican incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher whupped former Rep. Anne Northup, despite being reportedly backed behind the scenes by Mitch McConnell's political machine, by a 50.1 to 36.5 margin. On top of that, on the Democratic side, progressive former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear beat the McConnell-friendly Bruce Lunsford with over 40% of the vote, avoiding a run-off. Deepening the Senatorial subtext of the gubernatorial race, taking a shot at Mitch McConnell for not being more supportive of embattled GOP Governor Fletcher was Larry Forgy, the 1995 KY-GOP gubernatorial nominee in whose name a draft effort has emerged to challenge McConnell in a GOP Senate primary in 2008. It will be interesting to see how much support the McConnell-Bunning-Northup crew give Fletcher, and how Forgy responds to it. Intriguing stuff.

  • Alabama: Sack Sessions has the goods on more bad local press for Jeff Sessions, this time on his short-sighted stance on immigration.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire catches Sprintin' John Sununu skipping out on minor, trivial responsibilities of his job like attending important legislative hearings and voting on bills. If Sprintin' Sununu doesn't care for the responsibilities of his job, I know some people who wouldn't mind taking the role off his hands.

  • Iowa: A local blog highlights rumors that businessman Troy Cook may enter the GOP Senate primary. "Who?" you may be asking. Yeah. Another local conservative blog notes its displeasure with the IA-GOP as the state Party's co-Chairman has reportedly been already voicing his support for businessman Steve Rathje, despite a likely primary. One has to like Tom Harkin's chances when Iowa conservatives are fighting each other over support for third-tier unknown candidates.

  • MyDD's Singer looks at how laughably sloppy the NRSC's online press operation is.

  • Schadenfreude of the day: Former Virginia Senator George "Macaca" Allen is commenting on the 2008 GOP Presidential primary for which he could have been the front-runner if he didn't self-destruct in his 2006 Senate re-election bid. Allen was exactly the kind of vacuous, empty-suit conservative that the neocons and the theocons could have happily united behind; a real wRepublican (a Republican with a silent "W" in front). Alas. Couldn't have happened to a nicer racist.

  • Want one single story that highlights the intersection between Bush losing the "War on Terror," the Iraq War, and the "War on Drugs"? OK, here ya go.

  • Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    Tuesday Morning Quick Hits

  • In The Hill's recap of the DSCC demolishing the NRSC in fundraising yet again in April, another interesting statistical footnote is offered:

    The Senate GOP’s total is also less than one-twelfth of Chairman John Ensign’s (Nev.) stated goal of $118 million, with one-sixth of the cycle already gone.
    The article also notes that the NRSC under Ensign has raised about $9.1 million for the cycle so far, compared with $13.6 million raised by this point in the last cycle under Liddy Dole. Impressively bad. (HT: kos)

  • Idaho: 43rd State Blues offers the full rundown of liveblogging events with former Congressman and Democratic Senate candidate Larry LaRocco:

    Tuesday, May 29 -, 8 p.m. Mountain/7 p.m. Pacific.

    Friday, June 1 -, 12 noon Mountain/11 a.m. Pacific.

    Tuesday, June 5 –, 12 noon Mountain/11 a.m. Pacific.

    Each session will last about an hour. The Idablue session will focus on the war in Iraq and issues of concern to Idaho veterans, military personnel, and their families. The other two dates will be open forums in which LaRocco will answer questions on whatever current issues people want to discuss.
    Mark your calendars and bring your questions!

  • Oregon: Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm suggests that a competitive OR-Dem Senate primary will be helpful toward beating Gordon Smith.

  • Kentucky: picks up on the Draft Forgy movement:

    Call it Ernie Fletcher's revenge. US Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY), portrayed in state newspapers as the godfather of the Kentucky GOP, has his faction of the party heavily backing Anne Northup in Tuesday's gubernatorial primary. That appears to be why a growing movement in the party -- led by the pro-Fletcher faction -- is looking for payback in the form of giving McConnell a tough primary challenge in 2008. Check out the website, urging wealthy attorney Larry Forgy (R) to oppose McConnell. Forgy was the GOP nominee for Governor in 1995 and is a Fletcher ally. The Draft Forgy website is filled with pro-Fletcher and ani-McConnell sentiments, and lots of Forgy quotes that make him sound interested in the race.
    All we're waiting on is a comment from Larry Forgy himself not completely ruling out the possibility of a primary challenge. (HT: RandySF at SSP)

  • Monday, May 21, 2007

    Statistical Footnote of the Day

  • In highlighting that the DSCC more than doubled the NRSC's April fundraising numbers continuing the DSCC's financial dominance over the NRSC, TPM offers this statistical footnote:

    Key footnote: Elizabeth Dole, the former head of the NRSC, took a beating from critics for her lackluster fundraising in 2006. Well, as Dem insiders note with some glee, Dole raised more in April of 2005 -- $3.7 million -- than the NRSC raised this April.
    More than a fiscal quarter into his new role as Chair of the NRSC, John Ensign can't even keep up with Liddy Dole's old numbers, much less the DSCC. An embarrassing figure for Ensign and the NRSC.

  • Quick Hits from Red States

  • Georgia: "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss got booed by Republican state convention delegates - and there's audio. Hearing Chambliss booed, by Republicans no less, is always a great way to start a Monday morning. (HT: Tondee's Tavern)

  • South Carolina: Lindsay Graham has the fourth largest war chest among 2008 Senators despite no Democratic opposition yet. The article leads:

    Throughout U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s congressional career, Columbia-based SCANA Corp. and its employees have been among his biggest sources of financial support, contributing almost $45,000 to his election campaigns.

    Last year, Graham helped one of SCANA’s senior executives, Robert Sumwalt, secure a seat on the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates plane crashes and other commercial transportation accidents.
    It must be nice to rent have GOP friends in high places.

  • Kansas: An Enduring Democratic Majority suggests Kansas has the potential to be a Senate battleground in 2008 with Pat Roberts' relatively weak approval. The Guru would suggest that if popular Governor Kathleen Sebelius (who the Guru suspects is holding out for the Veepstakes in '08) wanted the Senate seat, she'd beat Roberts, given her much higher approval and lower disapproval. With any other candidate, it would be an uphill climb. (Not impossible, but quite steep.)

  • Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Weekend Wrap-Up

  • April fundraising numbers are out, and the DSCC more than doubled the NRSC's April take! Not only that, but the NRSC spent more in April ($2.182 million) than it took in ($2.125 million)! The DSCC now has about $12 million cash-on-hand with $5.5 million in debt (that I suggest they pay off now and get out of the way!), while the NRSC has less than $3.5 million on hand. The DSCC continues its unquestionable fundraising dominance over the NRSC. I hear that John Ensign is getting really good at internet backgammon and minesweeper, though; so, there's that.

  • Alabama: SSP and Sack Sessions pick up on a Huntsville Times article that Commissioner Ron Sparks will make a decision on a Senate race "by early July." The article notes:

    If he does run, the reasons include his concern about the country’s budget deficit; that 48 million Americans don’t have health insurance; high gas prices; the handling and financing of the war in Iraq; poor veterans health care; and a basic unfairness in tax policy and worker pay, Sparks said.
    Sounds like a heck of an important platform of issues to run on. Sparksmania!

  • Virginia: In offering a title "Farewell to John Warner," Robert "Count Chocula" Novak seems to suggest that he expects J. Warner to retire at the end of his term. He also suggests that Virginia conservatives are unhappy with his understudy, Rep. Tom Davis. Novak also predicts that super-popular former Governor Mark Warner will not run for Senate, holding out for the Veepstakes. For what it's worth, the Guru has a very different prediction.

  • Oregon: Another Democrat takes his name out of the running to challenge Gordon Smith: nine-term former Congressman Les Aucoin. Smith continues to dodge bullet after bullet.

  • Nebraska: Chuck Hagel must be playing his cards close to his chest, regarding his 2008 electoral plans. At any rate, Mitch McConnell must believe that Hagel will likely run for Senate re-election or he probably wouldn't be heaping the praise on Hagel like he is. (At least, McConnell must not believe that Hagel will bolt the GOP for an independent Presidential run.)

  • New Jersey: While real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook is putting together her power base for a run at the GOP nomination to lose to Senator Frank Lautenberg, PoliticsNJ looks at state assemblyman Mike Doherty doing the same, gathering the support of Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan ("a former gubernatorial candidate" and "the de facto leader of the state GOP's most conservative wing") and "moderate" assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, as well as Rep. Scott Garrett and Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance.

  • South Dakota: Dakota Voice picks up on popular, still-recovering Senator Tim Johnson's first announced Republican opponent for 2008: self-employed businessman Sam Kephart.

  • New Hampshire: Barack Obama sticks it to Sprintin' John Sununu.

  • BooMan looks at Senator Jim Webb's victorious Senate campaign as a possible template for 2008 Democratic challengers.

  • Can somebody please do something about this?!?

  • Saturday, May 19, 2007

    Saturday Morning Quick Hits

  • Oregon: To prevent any question, Democratic Congressman David Wu has taken his name out of the running to challenge Gordon Smith. kos is correct when he refers to Gordon Smith as "this cycle's luckiest Republican thus far."

  • South Dakota: The Wall Street Journal suggests that Senator Tim Johnson could be back in the office "sooner than most people expect."

  • Kentucky: There is apparently an effort underway to draft 1995 KY-GOP gubernatorial nominee Larry Forgy to run in a Senate primary against Mitch McConnell. Could just be a flash in the pan, but something to keep an eye on.

  • Friday, May 18, 2007

    Friday Feedbag

  • WaPo's Cillizza offers his latest Senate line. A pattern is forming. Spots 1 through 9 consist of Democratic-held seats in South Dakota and Louisiana (rightly so - both are top 10 vulnerable seats overall) as well as seven Republican-held seats: CO, NH, ME, MN, OR, VA and NM. And then I gripe about the 10-spot. This week, ostensibly for partisan-balance, Cillizza has traded Iowa for Montana, offering that GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg has yet to give a firm "No" regarding a Senate challenge to Max Baucus. Regardless, I still argue that North Carolina is more vulnerable than Iowa or Montana, and that state AG Roy Cooper, for instance, is more likely to beat freshman Liddy Dole if he got in than Denny Rehberg is to beat Max Baucus if he got in. Que será, será.

  • BooMan offers his summation of 2008 Senate races in the 21 GOP-held seats and the top two Dem vulnerabilities, Louisiana & South Dakota. His assessments are reasonable in most spots, a little rosy in a few (like Alaska), and surprising in a few (like Alabama, where he doesn't mention Sparksmania).

  • New Mexico: NM-FBIHOP has the goods on former U.S. Attorney John Kelly considering a challenge to Pajamas Pete Domenici. That would present one heck of a dynamic as Domenici's role in the Attorney Purge scandal is apparently responsible for the precipitous drop in his approval rating.

  • New Hampshire: At her gubernatorial portrait unveiling, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen played coy about a possible entry into the 2008 Senate race:

    Shaheen's husband, Bill, a lawyer and prominent Democratic activist, admired the painting from several angles. "You get a sense that she's there," he said. "It's absolutely beautiful." He was coy about the possibility of his wife challenging U.S. Sen. John Sununu in 2008, grinning as he said she "hasn't made up her mind."

    In 2002, Shaheen retired as governor after six years to run against Sununu, then a U.S. representative, for Senate but lost in a close race. The suggestion from Lynch that she might try again drew a standing ovation from many Democrats in the crowd. But the former governor preferred to talk about other subjects yesterday.

    "You know, I haven't decided," she said quickly, ending the sentence with a slight, tight-lipped smile - just like in the portrait behind her.
    While the current bench of Democrats in New Hampshire is impressive, Governor Shaheen's entry into the race would be massive. Polling already has her significantly ahead of Sprintin' John Sununu, a case of buyers' remorse in the Granite State. Indeed, something to keep an eye on.

  • Montana: Countering Cillizza's contention that Montana is a top ten Senate race, CQPolitics offers this article looking at the MT-GOP's lack of options, with GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg "resisting GOP efforts to draft him into the race."

  • Oregon: State Senator Alan Bates puts the timeline on which he'd decide on a possible Senate challenge to Gordon Smith at "a few weeks after the end of the legislative session, sometime this summer."

  • Minnesota: Al Franken announced the endorsement of the steelworkers union.

  • Massachusetts: The Gloucester Daily Times and Associated Press report on a possible primary challenge to Senator John Kerry in the form of Gloucester attorney and former city councilor Edward O'Reilly, whose main beef with Senator Kerry appears to be his 2002 vote to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. I suppose Senator Kerry's Set a Deadline effort isn't enough atonement for O'Reilly. We'll see if his bid gains any traction in the months ahead.

  • Bush supports the troops?!? Can that be when he "strongly opposes" a meager raise in pay for soldiers and a meager raise in benefits for war widows? Really grotesque.

  • Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Mid-Afternoon Rumblings

  • Democrats are apparently more optimistic than Republicans about 2008. 88% of Democrats expect their Party to gain seats in Congress in '08, compared with only 34% of Republicans who expect that the GOP will gain Congressional seats.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling (in PDF) gauged a hypothetical race between Liddy Dole and NC Attorney General Roy Cooper. Dole beat Cooper 46-36. This should be very encouraging news to Cooper should he be seriously considering a race. Before he's even a candidate, he starts only ten points down and holds Dole to under 50, as Congressman Brad Miller, Congressman Bob Etheridge, and Governor Mike Easley all did. Further, when asked if they would vote for a Democrat or a Republican for President, North Carolina voters pick the Democrat over the Republican 47-42. Lots of momentum in North Carolina waiting to be capitalized on. (HT: Blue South)

  • Oregon: State Senator, physician, and Vietnam veteran Alan Bates let on that he is seriously considering a challenge to Gordon Smith.

  • Time's Eric Pooley offers a very insightful look at the psychology of Al Gore. A very interesting read.

  • Thursday Rundown

  • Oregon Part 1: Who else is on the Democratic bench, in light of Earl Blumenauer declining to run for Senate? The Hill reminds us that "Rep. David Wu (D) has yet to completely rule out a Senate bid." DKos' mcjoan suggests that we keep an eye on Oregon State Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown. That's not a bad springboard, considering Senator Jon Tester was President of the Montana State Senate before making the jump and taking down Conrad Burns.

    In fact, DavidNYC at SSP reminds us that "last cycle, only one of our top Senate candidates was a member of the House." Senator Sherrod Brown came from the House to take down Mike DeWine. But Senator Robert Casey was state Treasurer before defeating Rick Santorum. And Claire McCaskill was a state Auditor before defeating Jim Talent. And Senator Jim Webb is a former Secretary of the Navy, and Sheldon Whitehouse was Rhode Island's Attorney General; and they took down George Allen and Lincoln Chafee, respectively. If anybody can step up the recruiting magic and find a crop of strong challengers, it's Schumer.

  • Oregon Part 2: Reid-Feingold went down 29-67 yesterday. Not a single Republican voted in favor and obviously many Democrats voted against. But Loaded Orygun touches on a good point regarding Gordon Smith's vote. In December '06, Smith famously used the rhetoric in reference to the Iraq War: "may even be criminal" - extremely strong language. Now, regardless of what any other Senator from any Party does, if Smith thinks the Iraq War may be "criminal," shouldn't he vote to immediately end it any chance he gets? Otherwise, isn't he being completely disingenuous?

  • New Mexico: Republicans for Environmental Protection ranked all Congressional Republicans on a 0-to-100 scale. What was Pajamas Pete Domenici's environmental rating? I'm not joking: -7. Negative seven! Dead last in the Senate. To see the entire ranking (in PDF format), click here.

  • North Carolina: The NC-netroots are gaining earned media as the Draft Brad Miller movement is covered by The News & Observer.

  • Louisiana: Daily Kingfish makes the analogy Landrieu:Jindal::Oversight:Dereliction.

  • South Dakota: The AP looks at the SD-GOP's holding pattern as Senator Tim Johnson continues his recovery. No mention of possible challengers besides ultra-conservative Mike Rounds.

  • Nebraska: Hal Daub said something curious: "The person who wins an election is the one who listens and is open to new ideas." Does that mean Daub is admitting to having not listened and having not been open to new ideas in 1988 when he lost a Senate primary, in 1990 when he lost a Senate race, and in 2001 when he lost the Omaha Mayoral seat to Democrat Mike Fahey?

  • The Republican Culture of Corruption includes fun games like Musical Chairs.