Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Items

  • Rick Noriega is now only $63 from the $1,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page! If you can chip in a little, help put him over the top.

  • Discord in the Senate Republican ranks? CQ Politics sees conservative Republican Senators disregarding the course set by new Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander. Meanwhile, The Hill has Mike Enzi "pissed" at Republican leadership for bypassing him for the Finance Committee seat that opened up when Trent Lott resigned, giving the spot to the more junior and more politically-vulnerable John Sununu. Enzi was also bypassed for a Finance Committee seat last year when his Wyoming colleague Craig Thomas passed away and that seat went ot the more junior John Ensign as a reward for Chairing the NRSC.

  • Speaking of NRSC Chairman John Ensign, he gave an interview to RealClearPolitics that was so laughable, tears are still streaming down my face. Among the highlights:

    In elections, you know, obviously more money is better. But if you look at the election, it isn't always a question of who has more money that wins. It is who does better with their money, who has better messaging. Conrad Burns dramatically outspent Tester. George Allen outspent Jim Webb," he said. "You can go down race by race -- Jim Talent outspent McCaskill -- I mean, race by race there are a lot of races where we outspent the Democrats and we lost.
    OK, John, so now you have weaker messaging and less money, and you think your prospects are better for it? And his best defense for the very vulnerable John Sununu?

    If you look up in the dictionary somebody who's from New Hampshire, you'll see his picture. He is born, raised, bred...
    Yeah, Sununu 2008! He's, um, from the state in which he's running for office, I guess. Feel the excitement! Oh, and this classic defense of GOP chances in New Mexico:

    "They have a little advantage because we have a primary and they don't," he said. "At the same time, that doesn't mean you can't win. We saw that in Virginia. [In 2006, Democrats] had a primary, George Allen didn't. [Allen] lost. So it still depends on who runs the good races."
    All that demonstrates is that George Allen is a yutz who couldn't hold his seat despite a huge money advantage, the power of incumbency, and his opponent occupied with a primary challenge. Ensign then tried to hint at recruitments to come for the GOP:

    While refusing to divulge names, Ensign hinted that two new candidates could emerge in Iowa and South Dakota, to take on Senators Tom Harkin and Tim Johnson. "If we're able to sign them, they will be absolutely heavyweight -- they are heavyweight candidates and if we can get them on board, they will be absolutely national races that people will pay attention to right away," he said.
    I don't want to ruin the surprise, but, yeah, if the NRSC could recruit Tom Latham and Mike Rounds, it would be significant. But every indication so far is that Harkin would beat Latham like the several Republican Congressmen who have challenged him in the past; and, so far, Mike Rounds ain't interested. But keep those fingers crossed, John. Ensign closes the interview by lowering the goalposts even further:

    "I think worst case scenario -- 45, 46 [seats, a loss of three or four]," he said. "If we have a real bad night, we're 45. A good night for us, staying 48, 49, that's a real good night."
    How long before Ensign cops to the worst case scenario being 44? 43? 42?

  • Oregon: Last evening, Speaker Jeff Merkley and a campaign aide were in a car accident when the car skidded on an ice patch and flipped over. Thank goodness both Merkley and his campaign aide were unhurt (both were wearing their seat belts - let that be a lesson!). In fact, Merkley was even able to complete his evening schedule! Holy freakin' cow! A car flipping over didn't slow Merkley down; what chance does Gordon Smith have?!?

    In other Oregon news, Reverend John-Mark Gilhousen, a peace activist and Progressive Democrats of America member, reflects on the recent brouhaha over the PDA endorsement "process" in the Democratic Senate primary. Reverend Gilhousen notes that, even though he is a PDA member and receives their e-mails, he found out about the endorsement "process" not from any e-mail or call to members, but from the media covering the conflict of interest presented by Novick campaign staffer Liz Kimmerly also serving as the PDA-Oregon coordinator, a conflict of interest that remains unaddressed.

  • Colorado: The League of Conservation Voters has named Backwards Bob Schaffer to their 2008 Dirty Dozen list for Schaffer's terribly anti-environmental record. LCV comments:

    "During his tenure in Congress, Bob Schaffer worked to get Big Oil $33 billion in tax breaks by supporting an energy bill written by Dick Cheney and the oil industry. After leaving the House, he went to work for Big Oil. Now he wants to return to Washington to work for them in the Senate," said LCV Senior Vice President and Colorado native Tony Massaro. "Coloradans deserve a senator who works for them, not Big Oil."
    I wonder if "Big Oil" will be listed as Schaffer's Party designation on the ballot.

  • Alaska: Democratic leadership is still very publicly urging Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to take on appearance of impropriety maven Ted Stevens in the 2008 Senate race, and Begich isn't demurring:

    "People are looking for results-oriented leadership, and mayors are about that," Begich said, after leading a seminar on how cities can cooperate with military bases. "We get stuff done. We do not sit there and dilly-dally. We do not get into partisan bickering. I think the country, and Alaskans, are striving for leadership that is no longer partisan bickering, but focused on getting things done."

    Begich said he also got a push from fellow U.S. mayors, including one Florida mayor with influential union connections who took to calling him "Senator Begich" at the conference.

    "I don't even get questions, I get people who come to me and say, 'We're there for you.'" Begich said. "It's a consistent flow here. They're asking me, wondering. And some are just flat-out saying, 'go, go, go, what do we need to do?'"
    I'm very much looking forward to Begich '08!

  • New Mexico: It appears that Republican Heather Wilson is "push-polling" her primary opponent, Congressman Steve Pearce. Not only does Wilson have a history of such tactics, going back to her 2006 Congressional re-election bid against state Attorney General Patsy Madrid, but we know that Wilson has no problem performing ethically questionable acts to achieve favorable electoral ends.

  • Idaho: Democratic Senate candidate and former Congressman Larry LaRocco has completed his fifteenth job on his Working for the Senate tour, working at the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The guy is all hustle.

  • Draw your own conclusions on this one. An aide to John McCain set up a private meeting in Switzerland between McCain, Saxby Chambliss, John Sununu and one Oleg Deripaska. Who is Oleg Deripaska? The Washington Post describes him as "a Russian billionaire whose suspected links to anti-democratic and organized-crime figures are so controversial that the U.S. government revoked his visa." This is who John Sununu and Saxby Chambliss set up clandestine international meetings with. Shady with a capital SHADY.

  • I don't want to just bluntly say that Fox News' Bret Baier is dumb, but in discussing an interview with George W. Bush, he commented:

    I tell you what — he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office.
    Ummm, Bret, Abraham Lincoln didn't "leave office" in the sense that he was voted out or term limited. Lincoln was, well, kind of - what's the word? - assassinated. I thought that was common knowledge.


    Blogger Torrid said...

    The continuing smears on the Oregon primary from Guru are very disappointing. Even after being informed that the "scandal" was a made-up hack job by a Merkley media consultant, and even after being alerted to the fact that the Executive Director of PDA publicly said the consultant misrepresented their conversation, and begged him to "stop the swiftboat campaign" against Novick, Guru persists in reporting on the feeble aftermath. Why is that? And why would the campaign seek to comment on a situation where no breaches or misconduct occurred?

    I have found in the past that Guru has been a fine source on Senate races. This development--along with two other attacks on Novick that Guru was forced to retract--suggest that at least in Oregon, this is no longer the case.

    4:46 PM, January 25, 2008  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    torrid - Since you don't want to answer, I'll ask my three part question again:

    A) Is Liz Kimmerly a paid staffer on the Novick campaign?

    B) Is Liz Kimmerly the coordinator for an organization endorsing in the primary?

    C) Does that represent a conflict of interest?

    The conflict of interest is my concern. That Kimmerly works for Novick but serves as a PDA-Oregon coordinator isn't something somebody imagined - they're facts, as much as you may want to dismiss them.

    5:44 PM, January 25, 2008  
    Blogger Josh I said...

    Is there any chance that the Fox News guy was referring to a different Lincoln?

    9:15 PM, January 25, 2008  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    Please leave. Your attempts to defend Novick simply make him look even worse. Your role in this whole thing seems to be an attempt to fracture the democratic party and ensure a Smith victory.

    I do not live in OR. I have never contributed to a primary campaign. When you next refer to this incident as only a potential conflict of interest or a made up scandal or some other nitwitted defence I will go to Act Blue and give Merkley $100.

    10:24 AM, January 28, 2008  

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