Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Round-Up

  • In Chris Cillizza's latest Senate Line, we again see nine Republican-held seats up and only one Democratic seat. The newest entry is the Mississippi seat from which Trent Lott resigned.

  • Oregon: Reports from Oregon have Senate candidate Steve Novick's Online Director, Liz Kimmerly, orchestrating the Senate endorsement on behalf of the Oregon Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), for which Kimmerly serves as State Coordinator (see graphic to the right), despite an obvious conflict of interest, and which was apparently created very recently. Whether the national office of PDA asked Kimmerly to start the chapter or whether Kimmerly volunteered herself (possibly with the intent of using the organization to score an endorsement for Novick) is unclear; but the executive director of PDA was unaware of Kimmerly's association with the Novick campaign. That means that either Kimmerly volunteered herself to start the chapter, knowingly disregarding the conflict of interest, or she was approached by PDA and accepted the organizer role without disclosing her campaign duties, deceitfully propagating the conflict of interest.

    It gets worse. While PDA has a policy in their endorsement process of a written questionnaire sent to the campaigns prior to the endorsement interview and 30 days notice before such an interview, Speaker Jeff Merkley's Senate campaign received an e-mail (from Novick online director Kimmerly, in her PDA-Oregon role!) informing them of the endorsement interview on only four days notice. Extrapolate for a moment. Kimmerly must have sent her own campaign a similar e-mail, which probably went before their scheduler or political director, and up the flagpole to the campaign manager. While Novick himself may have very well not known about this conflict of interest, surely Novick campaign higher-ups did. As the Eugene Register-Guard reports:

    Novick campaign manager Jake Weigler said no one on his staff, including Kimmerly, saw the PDA endorsement as an opportunity to game the system. He said Kimmerly had been involved with the Progressive Dems when she lived in Los Angeles before relocating to Portland, so it made sense that she would start a chapter here for reasons other than to help her candidate pick up an endorsement.
    Ummm, Jake, that doesn't matter if Kimmerly had previous ties to PDA. You can't claim "pre-existing condition" like a conflict-of-interest HMO. Once Kimmerly took on her role with the Novick campaign, ethical standards suggest that she should have suspended any leadership role with any organization that would endorse in the campaign. In response to this brouhaha, PDA has delayed the endorsement interviews and taken Kimmerly out of the role of organizing the process, but it stands to reason that any PDA-Oregon endorsement of Novick would be, at the very least, fairly tainted. Beyond that, this is embarrassing for the Novick campaign. If this were a Republican campaign, we would probably be calling for Kimmerly's resignation from the Novick campaign, something the Guru has called for in the past in response to unseemly actions from Republicans. We'll wait and see what steps the Novick campaign chooses to take in response to this incident.

  • South Carolina: One of Lindsey Graham's primary opponents, Republican National Committee member Buddy Witherspoon, already has web ads up attacking Graham's record on immigration:

    Expect more of the same for months from all of Graham's many primary opponents, including former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Air Force veteran John Cina. (HT: Schecter)

  • Maine: Collins Watch wonders what role reproductive and privacy rights will play in the 2008 Senate race between Tom Allen and Susan Collins. I expect a big role given that, despite her alleged pro-choice position, Collins supported for the Supreme Court George W. Bush's nominee's Sam Alito and John Roberts, who are leading the charge to dismantle reproductive and privacy rights. For more on Susan Collins' record of lies, hypocrisies, and double-talk, read this column by the Guru.

  • Kentucky: Following great rhetoric from Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne like "Simply put, while Mitch McConnell carries George Bush's water on Iraq, I carried a rifle in Iraq," we now have this gem: "The hard truth is that there is no greater roadblock to progress in Congress than Mitch McConnell." I'll tell you, the prospect of a debate between Mitch McConnell and Andrew Horne has me pretty psyched.

  • New Mexico: Mark your calendars for one month from today, February 19th. We will have the first Steve Pearce vs. Heather Wilson 2008 Republican Senate primary Smackdown. Oh boy, I hope they go negative!

  • Republican Congressman Ron Paul is shaping up to come in second place in Nevada's Republican Presidential Caucuses today, ahead of the likes of John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Giuliani (or 9iu11ani depending on your preferred spelling). Congratulations, Congressman Paul! While Thompson and Giuliani have experience losing to Paul, I wonder how it makes Huckabee and McCain feel.


    Blogger jackmurray said...

    "In response to this brouhaha, PDA has delayed the endorsement interviews and taken Kimmerly out of the role of organizing the process, but it stands to reason that any PDA-Oregon endorsement of Novick would be, at the very least, fairly tainted."

    Unfortunately, Guru, that's not how Kimmerly acted at last night's PDA meeting. According to the , Kimmerly ran most of that first meeting as if the endorsement process would happen that night, but never once disclosed her relationship to the Novick campaign. Similarly, Steve Novick was there campaigning for the endorsement without acknowledging that the founder and leader of that local group is a paid member of his campaign staff.

    There was no endorsement at last night's meeting, but it certainly didn't clear up any of the ethical tangles between the PDA and the Novick campaign.

    3:35 PM, January 20, 2008  
    Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

    Did you catch Horne's diary debut on Daily Kos? He said, "I am Mitch McConnell's Exit Strategy!" The Horne campaign is close to earning its first $100,000--all from small donations. Sure that's chickenfeed compared to McConnell's millions, but Horne doesn't need to match dollar for dollar. He just has to raise enough to get his message statewide.

    I'd love to prove to Chris Cizilla and all the other naysayers that the Dems can win 60 seats in the Senate (unfortunately, the economy will help put in play seats that would otherwise be safe)--and McConnell lead the list. No one thought Jim Webb or Jon Tester could win in '06, either.

    2:56 AM, January 21, 2008  

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