Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Round-Up

  • The Cook Political Report's latest 2008 Senate Race Ratings (in PDF format) have been released, and it continues to look good for Democrats. For Democratic seats, Louisiana is "lean dem," South Dakota is "likely dem," and the other ten are "safe dem." Meanwhile, for Republican-held seats, Virginia is "likely dem," Colorado, New Hampshire and New Mexico are "toss up," Maine and Minnesota are "lean rep," and Alaska, Nebraska, Oregon, and the Mississippi seat from which Trent Lott resigned are "likely rep," with the other thirteen Republican-held seats "safe rep." If the Mississippi Supreme Court upholds the lower court's ruling of a special election within 90 days, expect Missippi to enter the more competitive categories, along with Alaska (if/when Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich announces) and Oregon. And certainly don't expect all thirteen seats currently in "safe rep" to remain there over the winter and spring.

  • Nathan L. Gonzales has an insightful piece up on The Rothenberg Political Report entitled "History Working Against Senate GOP." In it, he even gets NRSC flack Rebecca Fisher to acknowledge the "overwhelming hurdles" Senate Republicans face. Gonzales also reminds us that the picture for Senate Republicans looks similarly difficult in 2010, when they have to defend 19 seats to Democrats' 15; but the numbers picture improves considerably in 2012 when Democrats have 23 seats to defend against the GOP's nine (a reflection of what a strong year 2006 was for Democrats).

  • Maine: Congressman Tom Allen has a phenomenal new biographical video up on his website:

    Even horror writer Stephen King gets how scary it would be to have Susan Collins in the Senate for another six years:

    The politically active author is supporting Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Allen in his run for Republican Susan Collins’ Senate seat.

    "We’ve had enough Bush Republicanism to last the country for a long time," he said. "We’re seeing a lot of chickens come home to roost because of Bush Administration policies. You can’t pump billions of dollars into a foreign war without it affecting the economy."
    And Susan Collins truly represents Bush Republicanism.

  • Oregon: The brouhaha over the conflict of interest caused by Novick campaign paid staffer Liz Kimmerly also running an organization - the Oregon chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) - endorsing in the primary (and apparently having tried to expedite the endorsement process against the policy of the national PDA) continues on as even Novick's supporters have questions that still remain unanswered. Nobody knows what Kimmerly's intent was - whether her goal was to railroad an endorsement process or what (and nobody knows what Novick's campaign manager and Novick himself knew and when they knew it) - but the undisputed facts remain that she was and is both a paid staffer of a campaign and the coordinator of an organization endorsing in the race; and, that is unquestionably a conflict of interest. The entire situation could be de-fused by Kimmerly removing herself from PDA-Oregon leadership for the duration of the campaign and apologzing for any appearance of impropriety caused by her actions. Still, silence.

    There is, however, another mini-scandal afoot in Oregon. The NRSC has hired a tracker to follow Speaker Jeff Merkley around, obviously to acquire footage for use in helping Gordon Smith's re-election campaign. (No, that part is not the scandal, even though use of a tracker is something Susan Collins' chief of staff says "demeans the political process.") The scandalous part of this is that, instead of just attending events and filming footage, the tracker is lying to the Merkley campaign about his identity to gain information about and access to events. I guess if Republican Senators are going to be dishonest time and time again, their staffers have to follow suit.

  • Minnesota: Ahead of the February 5 precinct caucuses, Minnesota Public Radio sees a great deal of enthusiasm on the DFL side; and, it looks like Al Franken's Senate campaign has the most momentum as the caucuses approach.

  • Nebraska: Scott Kleeb is meeting with Democratic Party leaders in Washington D.C., ostensibly to discuss a 2008 Senate bid, and will make a decision about his 2008 political plans "in the next two weeks."

  • New Mexico: New Mexico FBIHOP recognizes the supreme irony that Republicans Heather Wilson's and Pete Domenici's inappropriate actions to impact the 2006 election will contribute to Wilson's likely defeat in her 2008 bid to succeed Domenici.

  • South Dakota: The Rapid City Journal takes note of Republicans' inability to mount a significant challenge to Senator Tim Johnson.


    Blogger Hokie Guru said...

    I expect Coleman, Collins, and Smith to move to toss-up as we get closer to the election... things will tighten up in a hurry.

    5:15 PM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger Political Realm said...

    I just posted my own Senate rankings today and only one Democrat makes my top ten. Republicans simply aren't rising to the challenge to take on vulnerable or potentially vulnerable Democrats across the country.

    Tom Harkin usually has a tough race, but this may be his easiest run ever. Tim Johnson won by just a few hundred votes in 2002. Montana is a Republican state on the presidential level, but Max Baucus is coasting to reelection. Mark Pryor has just one term under his belt, but no challengers.

    Recruitment failure will only allow Democrats to invest more in toss-up/lean Republican states.

    6:31 PM, January 22, 2008  
    Blogger Torrid said...

    Man, Guru--you have GOT to watch your sources. This was spread around the internet entirely by Kari Chisholm, a media consultant to the Merkley campaign. Today, in addition to the statement released by PDA, the Executive Director of the national PDA took time out to say "It was my hope that after you began your effort to misrepresent my conversation with you on the phone you would allow the work of PDA to move forward. I was wrong!"

    He also said--publicly, mind you, in the same thread as the information Guru uses in this update--"if you are really about building the progressive movement which I think you's time to stop the swift boat campaign..."

    Harsh words. After further "consult" with said Executive Director, Chisholm essentially apologized and agreed to be quiet.

    This is a pattern--both here and at my own blog, where you also remain welcome to publish--of you relying on poor sources that reflect negatively on Steve Novick. We know this, because they are soon revealed to be poor sources. You've had to retract on two previous Novick stories; this is now number three. When your source calls you out as a liar, it's time to circle the wagons.

    I look forward to the corrections.

    12:29 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Kari Chisholm said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    4:56 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Kari Chisholm said...

    After further "consult" with said Executive Director, Chisholm essentially apologized and agreed to be quiet.

    That's a misrepresentation of what I said.

    The executive director of the PDA, Tim Carpenter, and I have differing recollections about one particular factoid in our conversation (whether he did or did not say that the chapter had been started "48 hours" previously.) The Novick apologists have seized on that as their only life-raft.

    But the key facts are undisputed. As Guru points out, Liz Kimmerly is a senior staffer for the Novick campaign. Liz Kimmerly is also the Oregon state coordinator for the PDA. That's a conflict of interest. It's heightened by the fact that she gave the candidates four days' notice of the endorsement vote - when the PDA's written policy clearly requires 21 days notice.

    I stand by my assertion that she attempted a sham endorsement from a shotgun chapter for her candidate.

    Some apologist say, "It was averted. No harm, no foul." But that's only because I blew the whistle.

    4:57 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    Did Kimmerly identify herself as on Novick's paid staff at the PDA meeting or not? You may say hey, "no big deal" PDA does not say this is a conflict of interest so it does not matter. This is the same ethical grey area that the Bushies use when they say we don't torture because we define torture differently than you.

    The country is tired of campaigns that try to exploit the ethically grey areas and unless and until Novick comes out with some statement we have to assume he is in on this. This is a very basic question of honesty.

    10:14 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Rob Millette said...

    Definetly with the Guru here, There may be a couple of differences like the 48 hours problem, but the key facts do remian and have been confirmed by the statement you leave by the PDA. Kimmerly is in fact working for both the PDA and the Novick campaign and she undoubtedly attemtped to get that endorsement done the wrong way. Any PDA endoresement of Novick is now tainted and Novick should fire Kimmerly, no ifs ands or buts about it.

    10:48 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Pat Malach said...

    I think that what I'm learning here is that the blogosphere is making politics more shallow.

    The mainstream media, for all of its problems, is more responsible in its coverage of politics because the bureaucracies involved in news large news outlets actually work to keep them honest.

    11:30 AM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Thom said...

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Jan 22, 2008 11:34:50 PM
    [...] As you well know, I post my disclosure on every blog post I write - and on every comment that I post on anyone else's blog. Seriously.... [...]

    Starting when, Mr. Chisholm? When you do post your "full disclosure" (which is by no means always), it seems often to be an afterthought or after somebody reminds you. You should be more honest about being on Jeff Merkley's payroll. (That goes for your weekly radio interviews as well.)

    [Supporting Steve Novick for US Senate since 2007!]

    12:16 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Torrid said...


    "That's a misrepresentation of what I said."

    You say in the comment you apologized to Carpenter, and agreed you wouldn't be blogging about it for a while. What's the misrepresenting part?

    But the key facts are undisputed. As Guru points out, Liz Kimmerly is a senior staffer for the Novick campaign. Liz Kimmerly is also the Oregon state coordinator for the PDA. That's a conflict of interest. It's heightened by the fact that she gave the candidates four days' notice of the endorsement vote - when the PDA's written policy clearly requires 21 days notice.

    You needed to stop after sentence 2. Sentence 3 is your opinion, not fact--at best it's a mere APPEARANCE of conflict, actual conflict of which both Novick for Senate and PDA have determined there are appropriate safeguards. Sentence 4 is incorrect; no PDA policy governs local endorsements. You are confusing the national endorsement here. This sentence is also incorrect because no announcement of a vote that day was made. They received four days' notice of the INTERVIEW. And were immediately given another month when they complained.

    And finally, "Some apologist say, 'It was averted. No harm, no foul.' But that's only because I blew the whistle" is pretty much made up, self-aggrandizing BS. Moses Ross was part of the organization process from the beginning, and was slated to handle the endorsement even before Merkley complained.

    There is NO evidence you have that shows Kimmerly attempted anything out of bounds, and to continue calling it a "shotgun chapter" is frankly a lie. PDA ASKED Kimmerly to be state coordinator, and EXPECTED her to lead the formation of chapters.

    Your attack and continued response is why no one should believe prima facie an attack that comes from a rival campaign. The bottom line is your own source says you're doing a swiftboat on Kimmerly and Novick, and he wants you to stop. Can you?

    1:34 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Senate2008Guru said...

    Torrid - Aside from all of the wondeful "swiftboating" rhetoric that doesn't serve to elevate this dialogue at all, let me ask you a three part question seeking Yes's or No's.

    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?

    2:12 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Johnny C said...


    I see you are spending a lot of time attacking Kari but can you answer this simple question: Did Kimmerly identify herself as a paid staff member on the Novick campaign at the PDA endorsement meeting?

    If she did not how can you possibly condone this behaviour? You'd be screaming if it was a Merkley staffer and we'd all be demanding resignations if it was a Smith staffer.

    Novick's silence coupled with your and pat's attack the messenger strategy would have lost Novick my vote. Of course I do not live in OR so he does not have to worry about me. However, I suspect this hurts Novick a lot more than getting the PDA endorsement would have helped him.

    2:13 PM, January 23, 2008  
    Blogger Anthony_Distler said...

    Novick's not going to win anyway. All this other stuff does is fracture the party before the general election.

    8:47 AM, January 24, 2008  

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