Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Southern GOP Senators Tanking

Bad news for two very prominent GOP Senators:

  • North Carolina: Political Insider has the details on a recent poll on Elizabeth Dole:

    Despite enjoying near universal name ID, only 35% of likely North Carolina voters say that they will vote to reelect Dole. Furthermore, fewer than half approve of her job performance as a senator -- 49% rate her performance as excellent or good, while 46% describe it as fair or poor.
    Wow. The poll also puts Bush's job approval-disapproval in NC at 36-64. Ripe for the picking.

  • Kentucky: And how is Mitch McConnell doing (HT: Kos)? Approve-disapprove is at 49-42, down from 52-38 a month ago. And Bush is at 37-61. A budding opportunity for a pickup, and, as Kos puts it, "to avenge Daschle's ouster in South Dakota when he led Senate Dems."

  • The Tale of Two Warners, and Other News

    Happy Humpday:

  • Virginia: Rumors are swirling that uber-popular former Governor Mark Warner is closer to running for Senate in 2008 than we thought. WaPo's Cillizza reports on it here (w/ Michael Shear) and blogs on it here at The Fix. As I've blogged before, there had been a phenomenon of "John Warner dropping out if Mark Warner gets in but Mark Warner not getting in if John Warner seeks re-election." Anyway, the report notes that M. Warner has been meeting with DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer, and reminds us that M. Warner left the Governor's office with an approval rating over 80% - monstrous. Perhaps enough to prompt J. Warner to retire and give M. Warner his open seat.

  • It turns out that accused-terrorist-funder Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari has given the NRSC even more money than originally believed (HT: TPM). It would be nice if the NRSC could produce a more clear and specific public response than this tepid, vague two-sentence statement.

  • Political Wire highlights a Roll Call piece that looks at the bumpy start GOP Senators have gotten as the minority party. The full impact of the GOP's new reality in the minority will only be fully felt (and further self-perpetuated) as GOP Senators (like John Warner and Thad Cochran in 2008 and even more in 2010) frustrated with their minority status possibly opt for retirement instead of re-election as the months roll on.

  • New blog: I want to give a quick shout-out to a new blog, The Accountability Project, which looks to hold GOP Senators to a pretty radical standard: their own votes and public comments. I look forward to The Accountability Project's commentary.

  • Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    Republicans in Arkansas

  • Arkansas: The Hill looks at unsubstantiated rumors that former Gov. Mike Huckabee might consider abandoning his Presidential bid for a Senate challenge to popular Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor. The article also highlights the NRSC's difficulty in recruiting potential candidates:

    Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) 2004 opponent, former state legislator Jim Holt, took 44 percent against her in a presidential year despite spending less than $150,000 on the race. He called a repeat bid a “slim possibility” and said he would need to be promised $8 million to $10 million to finance it.

    Banking executive J. French Hill, an appointee of the first President Bush, and 2006 lieutenant governor candidate Chuck Banks have been in talks with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), as has fourth-term Rep. John Boozman, the only Republican in the Arkansas delegation.

    Boozman’s chief of staff, Matt Sagely, however, said Friday that Boozman has “zero interest” in the job and completely ruled it out: “He considers himself lucky to be in the 3rd congressional district … That’s about as far as it goes as far as running for another office in Arkansas.”
    So the NRSC is doing a poor job on candidate recruitment, and they're not doing much on the fundraising or press fronts. Gotta like our prospects as the 2007-2008 campaign season gets underway. As for the Huckabee rumor, it seems to be just that, rumor. (And Lt. Gov. "candidate" Chuck Banks lost the GOP primary 56-25 to a state senator, in case you were wondering who the AR-GOP was going to rest its hopes for a resurgence on.)

  • Senate 2008 Guru's Donor of the Day

  • In light of the fact that the NRSC gets contributions from accused-terrorism-funders, this source of Democratic dollars gave me quite a chuckle:

    One individual who “maxed out” to the DSCC last month was Jon Huntsman Sr., a prominent Utah businessman and philanthropist whose eldest son, Jon Huntsman Jr., is Utah’s Republican governor.
    Even the parents of Republican Governors hedge their bets and contribute big bucks to the Democrats!

  • Can Sununu Outrun a Spaceship?

  • New Hampshire: Dean at Blue Hampshire drops some more info on us, from the Valley News, on former astronaut and Dartmouth Medical School professor Jay Buckley considering joining the race to take down John Sununu. Commenter Stark Blue offers this thought on Buckley:

    Doctor, Engineer, Major in the Air Force Reserves (retired), professor and practicing physician?oh ya, and a former Astronaut. And not that it matters one bit, but those appear to be old photos...he can't be that telegenic?!
    With both of NH's GOP Senators under the 50% approval mark, voters and elected officials increasingly skeptical of Sununu, and the wealth of impressively qualified Democrats looking to run against Sununu, not only should Sununu be scared for his job, but Judd Gregg stands on notice for 2010. Blue Hampshire, indeed.

  • More Up from the Blogs

    Happy Tuesday morning:

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire reports that the ultra-conservative Club for Growth has endorsed John Sununu for re-election. Dean at BH accurately notes, "through their very endorsement, they utterly destroy any semblance of Sununu's 'moderate' persona." Mr. Sununu, you will be judged by the company you keep. Also, keeping an eye on Sununu's activities is a new blog, Sununu Hampshire. I look forward to their dogged pursuit of the soon-to-be-ex-Senator.

  • Maine: Similar to the aforelinked Sununu Hampshire, a Maine-based blog has started up: Collins Watch: Keeping an Eye on Maine's Junior Senator. They should have a field day with the budding narrative regarding Collins' untrustworthiness.

  • Wyoming: A local blog, hummingbirdminds, highlights 2006 Congressional candidate Gary Trauner's latest writing, perhaps to raise his profile for a 2008 run. He demonstrated unexpected strength, nearly beating Barbara Cubin for the At-Large House seat; and some speculate he may either take another run at Cubin or aim higher, challenging Mike Enzi for the Senate seat. Given the light Democratic bench in Wyoming, it would be great to see continued interest from Trauner.

  • Iowa: WaPo's Cillizza looks at which Republican might dive onto the tracks against the Tom Harkin train in 2008. It could be weak-fundraising Rep. Tom Latham, ex-Rep. Jim Nussle who just lost the 2006 IA-Gov race soundly, or super-conservative Rep. Steve King. Cillizza notes that in each of Harkin's re-election bids, he has beaten sitting GOP Reps.: Tom Tauke (1990), Jim Ross Lightfoot (1996) and Greg Ganske (2002). You'd think they'd eventually take the hint.

  • Monday, February 26, 2007

    Introducing Scott McInnis

  • Colorado: GOP former Rep. Scott McInnis has filed the paperwork to officially enter the 2008 CO Senate race. But who is Scott McInnis? What has he been up to since his retirement from the House? DKos diarist angka offers some insight into McInnis' recent professional life via a press release from ProgressNowAction:

    Call to Save Colorado’s Western Slope from the Oil Industry:
    Stop Scott "McLobbyist" McInnis from selling out the Western Slope

    Denver: ProgressNowAction launched a new online campaign to save Colorado’s Western Slope from the expansion of massive oil drilling led by the Canadian oil company EnCana and its lobbyist, ex-Congressman Scott McInnis.

    "We call on the public to join our citizens’ campaign to oppose efforts by EnCana and its lobbyist Scott McInnis that threaten the Western Slope’s land and private property rights," stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of ProgressNowAction.
    Mr. McInnis, take a bow. Scott "McLobbyist" McInnis isn't a bad nickname to go with Sprintin' John Sununu and Two-Faced Susan Collins. Montana's Gov. Schweitzer and Sen. Tester showed the GOP what happens to Republican candidates who claim to be good ole Mountain West conservatives, but actually sell out hunters, ranchers, and environmentalists to K Street and the right-wingers. If McInnis wins his primary, Rep. Udall will give him a similar education.

  • Senate 2008 Guru's Quote of the Day

  • New Hampshire: NPR has a terrific piece on New Hampshire voters tearing John Sununu apart for his continued equivocation on Iraq. From this piece comes the Guru's quote of the day:

    "Sen. Sununu, it's time for you to stand up and say this was wrong, or you won't be Sen. Sununu in two years." -- GOP State Rep. Steve Vaillencourt
    Great piece.

  • Pro-McCain and Anti-Escalation Are Contradictory

    [Cross-posted in my DKos and MyDD diaries.]

  • John McCain has been the most vocal candidate in the 2008 Presidential field in favor of Bush's escalation in Iraq.

    Nevertheless, Senators who claim to oppose Bush's escalation have endorsed McCain's bid for the Presidency. Susan Collins of Maine is serving as one of McCain's state co-chairs, and it was just announced that John Warner of Virginia has endorsed McCain.

    Obviously, when supporting a candidate, it is not a statement that you agree with 100% of that candidate's platform. It is foolish to think that any voter will agree with every single individual position a candidate holds.

    However, Iraq is the number one issue for many voters and will be front-and-center in the 2008 election. Given that these candidates are campaigning to be Commander-in-Chief, their position on this issue is of paramount importance.

    As such, I'd argue that a person, much less a U.S. Senator up for re-election in 2008, cannot reconcile being pro-McCain while claiming to be anti-escalation.

    Therefore, it is contradictory of Senators who claim to oppose Bush's escalation in Iraq to endorse McCain for President as Susan Collins and John Warner have. It will be interesting to see how the issue impacts their potential re-election bids; and it will be interesting to see how John Sununu, Gordon Smith, and Norm Coleman approach the 2008 Presidential race.

  • IL-GOP Hoping to Purchase a Senate Seat

    Some reading for your Monday afternoon:

  • Illinois: The IL-GOP, limping along and recognizing that their few notable elected officials will probably not want to go down in flames challenging Richard Durbin, are hoping to find a wealthy candidate who can self-fund a campaign:

    A respected Chicago Board of Trade executive from Winnetka and a Long Grove businessman whose family owns the Ben Franklin variety store franchise are among those talking to Illinois Republican leaders about running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin next year.

    Both Kevin J.P. O'Hara, the chief administrative officer at the Chicago futures exchange, and Steve Greenberg, the wholesale executive, would seem to have the ability to write a check to cover some or all of the costs of a campaign. ...

    The senator's GOP foe next year probably will endure that same lack of national party aid - Republicans have more Senate seats to defend than the Democrats and will devote money there, with only the best chances for picking up Democratic seats getting significant attention.

    Hence the Illinois GOP's search for a self-funding hopeful. Given the lack of a farm team, that's become the natural option.
    Not looking too good for the IL-GOP.

  • Alaska: Ted Stevens might be afraid that aliens are hacking into his website.

  • Congratulations to Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth's outstanding Oscar success last night!

  • Sunday, February 25, 2007

    DSCC vs. NRSC Activity

  • In how much better shape is the DSCC than the NRSC, and how much more proactive is the DSCC being than the NRSC?

    First, in January 2007, the DSCC raised $2.2 million, more than double the NRSC's $900K. Also, the DSCC finished January with $1 million cash-on-hand, more than double the NRSC's $400K. While the DSCC has more debt than the NRSC (due to loans for resources to put toward the obviously very successful 2006 campaign cycle), as long as the DSCC keeps out-raising the NRSC like this, the debt difference will not be a concern.

    Second, look at the News/Press Center pages of the DSCC website and the NRSC website.

    What does the NRSC press site have?
    1) A release lamenting the retirement of Wayne Allard
    2) A release weakly taking Al Franken quotes out of context
    3) A release vaguely pledging to donate the contributions of accused-terrorism-funder and NRSC contributor Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari (a.k.a. Michael Mixon) to an unnamed charity (any specifics, NRSC?)

    What does the DSCC press site have?
    1) A release highlighting Susan Collins' broken pledge to the voters of Maine
    2) Releases highlighting John Sununu opposing the minimum wage and dodging the press on Iraq
    3) Releases highlighting Gordon Smith's hypocrisy on Iraq
    4) A release highlighting the effort to hold GOP Senators accountable for their votes on the Bush Iraq escalation
    5) A release highlighting that the NRSC has gotten funds from the above-mentioned accused-terrorism-funder

    You tell me which of the two has been both more substantive and more proactive? Seems like, for another cycle, the DSCC is beating the pants off the NRSC.

  • Disapproving in New Hampshire and Diary Fun

    Looking forward to An Inconvenient Oscar:

  • New Hampshire: Both of NH's GOP Senators face approval ratings under 50%, with Sununu at 45%. Gotta love it. New Hampshire wants change and Sununu (and Gregg) continue to blindly back Bush's failed policies.

  • Some interesting DKos diaries lately: alaprst looks at Texas' John Cornyn parroting Bush-Cheney-Rove talking points; VolvoDrivingLiberal looks at possible challengers to Georgia's vile Saxby Chambliss; and, Dean Nut takes a wider overview of the 2008 Senate races.

  • Saturday, February 24, 2007

    Obstructionist, Corrupt McConnell Republicans

  • Kentucky: Matt Stoller on MyDD has an excellent post on how to portray Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell to take him down in Kentucky and bring Republicans down with him nationally:

    It's time to do to Mitch McConnell what the GOP did to Tom Daschle - make him the symbol of everything that is wrong and get rid of him in a Presidential year. That's very possible, as McConnell is not popular in his home state though he is very powerful. ...

    McConnell is in fact a combination of the worst of all worlds - the arrogance of Bush, the social conservatism and lunacy of Rick Santorum, the hypocrisy of Mark Foley, the corruption of Tom Delay. He's the perfect representation of the GOP. ...

    What Reid needs to do, and what we ought to help with, is pin the Iraq mess, corruption in government, and support for George Bush against the public will on Mitch McConnell from this point forward, directly, and by name. The DNC and all party committees, and all liberal groups, should start calling opponents 'McConnell Republicans'. He should become an epithet. If they are blocking debate in the Senate, well that's what 'McConnell Republicans' do, now isn't it?
    Great stuff, and quite accurate. The majority of Americans want the U.S. military out of Iraq, want a higher minimum, want better environmental standards, want more affordable health care. And the obstacle to achieving all of these? Mitch McConnell and those obstructionist, corrupt McConnell Republicans.

  • No Trade-backs

    Hope you're off to a relaxing weekend:

  • Iowa: Political Wire highlights a Harkin-Vilsack switcherumor:

    "With former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s decision today to end his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, an aide to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) shot down speculation that Harkin would not seek re-election and pave the way for Vilsack to run for Senate."
    Harkin is all lined-up to go for another term. But Chuck Grassley is up in 2010, when he'll be 77 and still languishing in the minority party, which he hates. Rumors of his retirement at the end of this term will certainly pop up, and hopefully Vilsack will get in there to run for the Senate seat.

  • Connecticut: Joe Lieberman reiterates that he has no intention of switching to the GOP, for what that is worth. Regardless, Political Insider explains why a Lieberman switch would not flip control of the Senate.

  • Friday, February 23, 2007

    Friday Afternoon Roundup

    The weekend is almost here:

  • Minnesota: Another name for the Senate Democratic primary? The AP reports:

    State Rep. John Lesch, who gained recognition a year ago for taking an unauthorized trip to Iraq, said Friday he is considering a 2008 run for U.S. Senate.
    Al Franken and Mike Ciresi will both have plenty of cash for their campaigns. We'll see how well candidates of lesser means fare.

  • North Carolina: Blue South of BlueNC offers a terrific rundown of potential challengers to Elizabeth Dole. Frequent readers of the Guru's blog know that I'm hoping that Mike Easley gets in once he gives up on the Veepstakes, as he's already polling ahead of Dole.

  • Iowa: With Tom Vilsack dropping out of the '08 Prez race, maybe he'll start planning for a 2010 bid for Chuck Grassley's Senate seat.

  • Republicans for Re-election? We'll See.


  • Virginia: John Warner is planning his first major fundraiser - three-and-a-half months from now. While some GOP on Retirement Watch are ramping up their fundraising, this hardly qualifies. If any prominent Democrat stepped up to the challenge, I do think J. Warner would announce retirement before going through the grueling rigors of a truly tough campaign.

  • Mississippi: The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza is convinced that Thad Cochran is going to run for re-election:

    Domenici and Warner have already said publicly that they plan to run again, but because of their advanced age (in Warner's case) and on again, off again health problems (Domenici), no one knows for sure what they will ultimately decide.

    Hagel continues to mull a presidential bid, and even the most plugged-in Republican strategists admit it is anyone's guess about what the Nebraska senator's future holds.

    But Cochran's comments are a step in the right direction for Republicans. This cycle still looks like an uphill struggle for the party, but one seat looks close to coming off the table.
    While I agree with Cillizza's thoughts on Warner, Domenici, and Hagel, I'm not sold a Cochran re-election bid. One big fundraising week (to keep options open and demonstrate some strength) doesn't make for certain a re-election bid.

  • Very much on the topic, Swing State Project, in an homage to Chuck D., is discussing Senators who have, in the past, made like they were going to run for re-election, only to ultimately opt for retirement, highlighting Mark Dayton (D-MN) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) as recent examples. Come share your thoughts.

  • Thursday, February 22, 2007

    More Rumblings in Oregon

  • Oregon: Is Rep. Earl Blumenauer getting less coy about challenging Gordon Smith? The Associated Press reports:

    As for his own political future, Blumenauer sidestepped questions about whether he will mount a 2008 Senate campaign against Smith, the wealthy Republican who already has amassed a $2 million campaign re-election fund even though no Democrat has jumped into the race yet.

    "There is no doubt in my mind there will be a strong Democratic opponent for Gordon Smith," Blumenauer said. "By Labor Day, we will know who a strong alternative to Smith will be."

    Asked whether he will be that contender, he said, "I will deal with the question in due course."
    Should we expect a Labor Day formal announcement from Blumenauer? I hope so - heck, I hope sooner!

    Meanwhile, DKos diarist Wolverines offers this account of Gordon Smith's staff having the police arrest two senior citizens for wanting to meet with aides to Smith about his position on the Iraq War. Most telling passage:

    One Sen. Smith's aides who arrived about the time the police officers arrived. (I think the gentleman who came out to speak to us was an aide since he was dressed in a suit - not a security uniform.) Dot asked him if he could make a statement about the senator's stance about defunding the war. The man (I fail to recall his name) refused to offer statement on Smith's behalf, and he said, "You should have more respect for a U.S. senator than to refuse to leave his office". At his point I turned this man's rudy [sic] complexion a neon red because of something that I said.... Oops. In the presence of the police officers he'd called I said, ""Gee I woulda thought that a democratically elected politician should have more respect - for the voter - for his constituents... Should a senator play hide and seek with his constituents?"
    Nothing in the MSM yet about this. "Gordon Smith has two old ladies arrested for asking his position on Iraq; announces he will seek re-election" - that would be some headline.

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    Thad Cochran and Retirement Watch Fundraisers

  • Mississippi: As fundraising is a key indicator of electoral intentions, Thad Cochran's two big upcoming fundraisers, expected to bring in over half a million dollars, are a strong indication that he is leaning toward running for re-election. He joins Elizabeth Dole and Pete Domenici as Senators on Retirement Watch who have recently publicized their fundraising efforts to lessen rumors of retirement. We'll continue to keep our eyes out for word of fundraising efforts from John Warner, Ted Stevens, Chuck Hagel, Lamar Alexander, Jim Inhofe, and Larry Craig as we shape future editions of Retirement Watch.

  • Might Run, Can't Run, and Running Away


  • South Dakota: Political Wire highlights a Roll Call article noting that "Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) 'now appears likely to run for re-election next year, as he continues to improve from a stroke that had thrown his political future into doubt.'" We should wait for formal announcements before jumping to any conclusions, but Senator Johnson has made astounding progress, so a re-election bid is certainly possible.

  • Alaska: Apparently there is a schism between GOP Gov. Sarah Palin and the GOP leadership in the Alaska state legislature. The state house Speaker is "proposing legislation that would require sitting senators, governors and lieutenant governors to resign before running for a different state or federal office." Though this could be moot since Ted Stevens is threatening to run again, if he doesn't, this legislation would ostensibly keep Palin from running. Interesting dynamics here waiting to unfold.

  • New Hampshire: Dartmouth College's student newspaper, The Dartmouth, takes Sprinting John Sununu to task for his equivocation on Iraq:

    This kind of double-dealing is exactly what the people of New Hampshire don't want. They deserve a well-defined position from Sununu. The only problem is, he has taken to not speaking to the press very much anymore. In fact, as covered this month in the Washington Post, when reporters recently approached him near the U.S. Capitol, he literally turned and ran away rather than answer questions on his positions (or lack of positions). This has earned him nicknames like "Sprinting Sununu" and "The Fastest Senator In Washington."
    There is an uprising brewing in NH against Sununu. Once NH gets past the drama of the Presidential primary, and the Democratic Senate candidates turn their rhetorical guns on Sununu, he'll be toast.

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    In's, Out's, and Everything In Between

    Some evening reading for you:

  • South Dakota: Tim Johnson has been discharged from George Washington University Hospital and will continue recovery at a private rehab facility. More progress and great news.

  • New Mexico: Pete Domenici is still trying to stave off retirement rumors by holding a fundraiser.

  • Virginia: Raising Kaine looks at who may challenge John Warner, and the phenomenon of John Warner dropping out if Mark Warner gets in but Mark Warner not getting in if John Warner seeks re-election. Who's going to make the first move? Hopefully, Mark Warner - but M. Warner's quest for the Veepstakes in 2008 might keep him in check.

  • Where GOP Money Comes From

  • A New York man, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari (a.k.a. Michael Mixon) was charged with terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and money laundering. Why is this important to the 2008 Senate races?

    According to the Associated Press, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, a self-proclaimed life member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s “Inner Circle Leadership Committee” has been indicted on charges of financing a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. The AP obtained a resume in which Alishtari states that he became an NRSC Inner Circle Life Member in 2003.
    I assume that the NRSC will immediately contribute any money received from Alishtari to an anti-terrorism charity or the Red Cross or something. Right? Hmmm? Any comment, NRSC? We're waiting.

  • Georgia: DKos diarist Mister Gloom offers a rundown of potential Democratic challengers to Saxby Chambliss. Do you think Max Cleland will change his mind and jump back in for a re-match if we ask really nicely?

  • Ditching Mitch but Blocking Sebelius

  • Kentucky: Matt Stoller on MyDD highlights's new "Ditch Mitch" group, committed to ousting McConnell in 2008. There are over 200 members already, mostly from the Louisville area, apparently. Excellent use of social networking!

  • Kansas: While I do believe that Sam Brownback has roughly as much chance of winning the Presidency in 2008 as I do, the KS-GOP is pushing legislation that would, in the event of a U.S. Senate vacancy from Kansas, remove the Governor's (right now it's Democrat Kathleen Sebelius) appointment power and instead call for a special election. Should be a moot point in the short term, since Brownback ain't going anywhere, but it will smell of clear partisan politicking by the GOP in Kansas. (Hat tip: jgkojak)

  • GOP Senators Bad for Veterans, and more

    Enjoy these Tuesday morning tidbits:

  • Empowering Veterans takes a thorough look at the actual records of GOP Senators who claim to "support the troops," but their Senate votes indicate anything but. Fact sheets on the records of their top 10 targets can be found here. Captain Ralph Parrott SC, USN (ret.) unveils their top 10 targets:

    The "Worst 10" on issues relating to members of the Armed Forces and their families and veterans and their families are:

    Alexander of Tennessee
    Chambliss of Georgia
    Cochran of Mississippi
    Coleman of Minnesota
    Cornyn of Texas
    Dole of North Carolina
    Graham of South Carolina
    Roberts of Kansas
    Sessions of Alabama
    Sunnunu of New Hampshire

    Empowering Veterans’s strategy for the next election cycle is very simple.

    *We will track ("Bird Dog") each target incumbent’s voting record on issues relating to members of the Armed Forces their families and veterans and their families.
    *We will maintain that record on our website,
    *We will recruit volunteers in each targeted state to conduct Letters to the Editor campaigns to keep each incumbent’s record of deceit and hypocrisy constantly before his or her constituents.
    *We will encourage veterans to run against these incumbents.
    *We will raise money to support those veterans that do run against these incumbents.
    Seems like a terrific effort, debunking another GOP myth and demonstrating how morally bankrupt and lacking in vision these GOP Senators' priorities are.

  • New Hampshire: MyDD diarist JFMDC follows Sprintin' John Sununu's near-incomprehensible waffling on Iraq. I don't know what is worse. Is it that John Sununu runs away frightened from reporters or that, when reporters catch up to him, he says things like:

    Asked last week if he still stood by his 2002 vote authorising the use of force, [Republican John] Sununu, who has served just one term in the Senate, said: "I can't answer that question. I don't know what the answer to that question is or should be.
    and also like:

    "You know where I stand," the senator, who is considered politically vulnerable back home, said repeatedly as he fled down stairways at the Capitol. "I'm still looking."
    Just cowardly.

  • Louisiana: Salon offers a look at Louisiana's shift red, both why it happened and what its political implications could mean, including for Senator Mary Landrieu. This passage nutshells it:

    As Gallup's latest survey of partisan self-identification reveals, largely because of Katrina Louisiana is the only state in which Democrats lost ground relative to Republicans since 2005, reclassifying it from a Democratic-leaning state to "competitive."
    We have much work to do here, and the GOP smells blood.

  • Monday, February 19, 2007

    Presidents Day News

    Happy Presidents Day:

  • Kentucky: An opening for a challenge to the Senate's GOP Leader Mitch McConnell? A majority of Kentuckians want McConnell to oppose the Bush Iraq surge, by a margin of 52-40. Will McConnell represent his constituents? It doesn't look like it. It looks like McConnell is more loyal to Bush-Cheney-Rove than he is to his own constituents.

  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand takes Sprintin' John Sununu to task on Sununu's Iraq obstructionism, courtesy of Blue Hampshire.

  • Minnesota: Over the last few days, Minnesota Campaign Report has offered a few terrific posts including: an interview with Senate candidate Al Franken, Norm Coleman's parroting of Bush-Rove talking points, and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Peter Agre considering a Senate bid.

  • Michigan: WILX has an interview with Senator Carl Levin touching on Iraq, American manufacturing, and political campaigns.

  • Saturday, February 17, 2007

    What's Up in the GOP's "Safe" States?

    Hope you're off to a delightful weekend:

  • North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole tells the Associated Press and the News Observer that she is running for re-election. The News Observer notes:

    Dole has been the subject of rumors over the past year suggesting that, at age 70, she may not seek a second term. The rumors have been fed by a slow start in organizing her re-election effort.

    Dole said she does not have to be reminded that this is a difficult time for Republicans, having spent the past two years as chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee when the GOP lost control of the Senate. She called it "the worst political environment in memory."
    The News Observer doesn't elaborate on how awful she was as Chair of the NRSC (though the New Republic did) and how that could contribute to a less-than-stellar re-election bid for Dole. Nor does it mention that she's already behind Mike Easley in polling. She will have a tough re-election bid, though - and let's do all we can to make it tougher. Volunteer. Contribute. Y'know, once we have a candidate. (Mike Easley, I'm waiting!)

  • Texas: John Cornyn displays the kind of blind loyalty to George W. Bush that could hurt him if he represented somewhere other than Texas. The piece ends, though, with:

    Cornyn is a favorite at the White House, where he remains a Bush insider and close friend of Karl Rove. But his unalloyed defense of Bush's Iraq policies have some back home wondering whether he has gone too far.

    "He's pretty much married himself to the president and to Karl" Rove, Bush's top political adviser, said Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report political newsletter. "I'm just speculating, but we like to see a modest amount of independence here in Texas."
    An opening for a challenge? It would be nice to hear more rumblings from TX-Dems.

  • Alabama: Courtesy of Talking Points Memo, Jeff Sessions is still coming up with new rationales for the Iraq War.

  • Friday, February 16, 2007

    Senate GOP Blocks Law Enforcement Bill

  • An obscure passage in the Patriot Act allows the Bush administration to circumvent the Senate confirmation process and install political allies as U.S. attorneys while firing current ones at will without cause. Senate Democrats are trying to correct this breakdown of checks and balances:

    Senate Republicans blocked a bill Thursday that would curb the Justice Department’s power to fire and replace federal prosecutors. Democrats had sought to give the courts a role in the appointments of U.S. attorneys, to GOP opposition.

    The objection by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to the proposal was long anticipated. So Democrats used the occasion to complain anew about the firings of at least seven prosecutors, some without cause, under a little-known part of the Patriot Act.

    Democrats say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used the law to get around the Senate confirmation process and install Republican allies.
    The Senate Democrats want to debate Iraq policy, but the Senate GOP obstructs debate. Now, the Senate Democrats want to revitalize checks and balances, and the Senate GOP obstructs debate. I smell a narrative building.

  • Good Omens

    Two afternoon bites:

  • South Dakota: Tim Johnson co-sponsors his first bill since being hospitalized:

    While Johnson remains focused on daily therapy, the Democratic senator has read memos from his staff and has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Emergency Farm Relief Act of 2007, his office said.
    Another step on the road to recovery. (Hat tip: LIsoundview)

  • New Hampshire: The Wall Street Journal portends:

    Democrats pressure vulnerable Republican Sen. Sununu as new poll shows Bush's job approval dropping to 31% in New Hampshire. War unhappiness shadows 2008 presidential ticket's Granite State prospects as well as Sununu's re-election bid.
    Delightfully ominous.

  • Proactive Democrats, Obstructionist Republicans

    Happy Friday:

  • The Senate GOP's strategy continues to be: avoid debating Iraq policy. That will go over very well in Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Virginia, North Carolina...

  • Tennessee: DKos diarist Sidof79 offers an insightful rundown of possible Democratic candidates to challenge Lamar Alexander. I didn't realize Tim McGraw was such an outspoken critic of George W. Bush.

  • North Carolina: Another great DKos diary, from Blue South, sees Elizabeth Dole still well under 50% approval, and garnering only 45% in a hypothetical match-up against Rep. Bob Etheridge. Very troubling numbers for the Dole camp. I'm still holding out hope that Mike Easley will challenge Dole once he decides that he's not in the thick of the Veepstakes, as polling already has him beating Dole.

  • Minnesota: Al Franken will push for universal health coverage. Once Minnesotans see Franken and Ciresi and other potential Democratic candidates out there discussing issues, then the ball will really start rolling.

  • The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has come out with his latest look at the Senate playing field. Cillizza is excited to see how a Franken candidacy shapes the dynamics of the MN race. Also, he sees the potential for CO SoS Mike Coffman entering a GOP primary for the super-conservative wing if Bob Schaffer doesn't get in to challenge Scott McInnis for the GOP nomination. Cillizza notes a push for GOP Rep. Richard Baker to challenge Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. He also seems as annoyed as I am that Thad Cochran is delaying his re-election vs. retirement decision.

  • Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Rumor About a Durbin Challenger

  • Illinois: Richard Durbin may have a foe, Kathy Salvi, the wife of the man Durbin beat in 1996. Last year, Kathy Salvi lost the IL-08 GOP primary by almost 10 points to the guy who went on to lose to Melissa Bean by 7 points. So it would be charitable to say that Salvi would have an uphill climb. (Hat tip: Hotline On Call)

  • This is not related to a Senate race, but it's just cool. Ben & Jerry's is coming out with a flavor in honor of Stephen Colbert. "Americone Dream" is vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel. Says Colbert:

    “I’m not afraid to say it. Dessert has a well-known liberal agenda,” Colbert said in a statement. “What I hope to do with this ice cream is bring some balance back to the freezer case.”
    Awesome. And the ice cream sounds pretty tasty.

  • Starting Points Versus Established Trends

    Happy Thursday morning:

  • Minnesota: Survey USA (courtesy of Political Wire) brings us the first round of polling in the MN-Sen race. Key word here is "first." While I would have preferred a 10-point gap instead of a 20-point gap, Franken and Ciresi just announced, like, five minutes ago, and now they have their work cut out for them as they establish their message and outline Coleman's failures. If Franken and Ciresi do an effective job, the 20+ point gap today should be down to a 10-15 point gap four months from today and should be a 5 point gap by fall. Regardless, this is the first point on the chart with over 20 months between now and Election Day 2008. Let's get to work!

  • Virginia: Daily Kos diarist djm4america is starting a Draft Mark Warner for Senate '08 effort. I wish djm4america much luck. Mark Warner is definitely our strongest potential candidate, though we are lucky to have a solid-and-growing bench in Virginia.

  • While Robert "Count Chocula" Novak joins me in pointing out that Senate Republicans lack principle, Larry Sabato (Hat Tip: Political Wire) suggests that recent trends should lead us to believe that the Senate will remain close in 2008. I would suggest that Sabato is looking at the wrong dynamics. The GOP had a good 2002 and, thanks to retirements, a very good 2004. The pendulum (and geography) has swung back and we had a very good 2006 and look to have a strong 2008 and 2010. It is just a question of how much we capitalize. Sabato doesn't go out on a limb when listing the most likely seats to change hands: Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon for the GOP and Louisiana and South Dakota for the Dems. I do think Sabato underestimates Virginia (especially if John Warner retires) and North Carolina as pick-up opportunities for the Dems.

  • Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Does Norm Coleman Have a Big Mouth?

  • Minnesota: A lot of attention will be paid to the words, however out of context they may be taken, that have come out of Al Franken's mouth. Well, what about Norm Coleman's mouth? Where has it been?

    Well, here is Norm Coleman's mouth a while back as a highlighted case for his cosmetic surgeon.

    And here is Norm Coleman's mouth leaning in to get a smooch from George W. Bush.

    And it also recently spent time in a dumpster.

    Maybe critics of Al Franken should be paying closer attention to Norm Coleman to keep him and his mouth out of trouble.

  • The New Republic Tears Apart Dole's NRSC Failure

  • North Carolina: My thanks to a frequent reader for passing this on. The New Republic takes a look at Elizabeth Dole's stint as NRSC Chair and notes the following:

    But, above the smile, her blue-green eyes seem a little tired, and all I can think is, "How much must it suck to be Liddy Dole these days?"

    Failure is hard on anyone. But it must be particularly tough for a political celebrity like Dole, with her Miss Perfect persona, to bounce back after the electoral catastrophe she suffered as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (nrsc) last year. In a cycle when the entire GOP came unraveled, Dole was singled out by fellow Republicans, who criticized--well, pretty much every aspect of her performance, from recruiting to strategy to, most notably, fund-raising. As early as August 2005, conservative columnist Robert Novak was declaring that Dole's recruitment efforts had "mostly failed." The following summer, Senator Trent Lott expressed similar anxieties ("I'm concerned about how some things have gone," he told the Chicago Tribune), while other Republican lawmakers and strategists publicly chewed their nails over the growing money gap. As Election Day drew nigh, both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman reportedly had lost so much confidence in Dole that they were intervening in races independently. Postelection, ousted Montana Senator Conrad Burns flamed the nrsc for botching its ad strategy in the state. Even now, some conservatives remain bitter about Dole's support of then-Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee's primary fight against right-winger Steve Laffey. "They spent a tremendous amount--well over a million--attacking Laffey in the primary, just to watch it go up in smoke in the general," huffs Club For Growth President Pat Toomey, whose group championed Laffey.
    Ouch. Given her so-so approval in North Carolina and that a recent poll has her losing to Mike Easley (please get in the race, Mike!), Dole is bound to have a tough re-election fight on her hands if she doesn't just retire. And I can't imagine she'll be getting much assistance from her GOP colleagues after her NRSC debacle.

  • Franken Definitely In

  • Minnesota: Lest there was any doubt, Al Franken is definitely entering Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate race:

    Comedian Al Franken said Wednesday he will run for the Senate in 2008, challenging Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. ...

    "I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously," Franken said.
    So there that is. I think Franken will try to work in the word "serious" to every paragraph of every speech he gives. And I look forward to hearing these speeches!

  • Also, Swing State Project shows the Guru some front page love, further discussing the 2010 Senate outlook.

  • Allen Ahead of Collins in Cash on Hand

    A couple tidbits this morning:

  • Maine: The Bangor Daily News takes a look at the funds of the likely 2008 Senate competitors [emphasis mine]:

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Democratic Rep. Tom Allen left money trails in the last election that point toward a possible face-off in the 2008 race for Senate, campaign analysts said.

    Collins plans to run for a third term in the Senate, said Steve Abbott, the senator’s chief of staff. Allen, who is in his sixth term in the House representing the 1st District, has not yet made an official decision to run but is exploring the possibility, said Mark Sullivan, the congressman’s press secretary.

    "As [Allen] stated, he is very interested in looking at the opportunity" to run for senator, Sullivan said. "But he’s not on a timetable to make any announcements."

    Allen already has more campaign cash on hand than Collins has, according to reports filed by each politician with the Federal Election Commission. As of Dec. 31, 2006, Allen had $501,849, while Collins had $435,657.

    "Having cash on hand is the first sign that it’s going to be a serious challenge," said Bradley Smith, a former chairman of the FEC.
    Looks like a good start! Especially considering how the DSCC has surpassed the NRSC in fundraising acumen, the cash-on-hand levels really demonstrate that Allen will be able to compete toe-to-toe with the promise-breaking incumbent.

  • Minnesota: Also, ABC News looks at Al Franken's likely Senate candidacy. Not much new - mostly goes through the motions of the "Will the comedian be taken seriously?" angle. Comments in the article by state and national Republicans suggest that a Franken candidacy could lead to a Republican record for most old quotes by a Democratic candidate for office taken way out of context. (Republican strategists tend to not understand satire - problematic if you're a satirist running for public office.)

  • Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Quick Glance at 2010

    (Cross-posted in my DailyKos diary)

    Thinking more about Stu Rothenberg's suggestion that Dems aim for a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority by 2010, I figured I would take a quick glance at the Senators up for re-election in 2010. In a nutshell, the geography again looks good for Democrats:

    34 Senators: 19 Republicans, 15 Democrats
    2004 Election: 22 Bush, 12 Kerry
    Average Age: 65.26 Republicans, 63.20 Democrats (61.57 w/o Inouye)
    70+ Senators: 8 Republicans, only 4 Democrats
    Rookie Senators: 8 Republicans, only 2 Democrats
    Rookie Senators Average Age: for GOP it's exactly 57, older than both Dem rookies: Obama (49) & Salazar (55)
    Number of Senators who are under 70 but not a rookie (i.e. safest Senators: established, but not likely to retire): only 3 Republicans, 9 Democrats
    Senators Receiving Less Than 55% in 2004: 9 Republicans, only 1 Democrat
    Senators Receiving Less Than 50% Approval: 4 Republicans, zero Democrats

    Senator, Age on Election Day 2010 (11/02/10), Current Term, % Vote in Last Election, Current Approval-Disapproval, 2004 Bush-Kerry %

    Evan Bayh (D-IN), 54, Second, 62, 61-29, Bush 60-39
    Robert Bennett (R-UT), 77, Third, 69, 58-32, Bush 71-26
    Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO), 71, Fourth, 56, 51-43, Bush 53-46
    Barbara Boxer (D-CA), 69, Third, 58, 55-36, Kerry 55-44
    Sam Brownback (R-KS), 54, Second, 69, 53-37, Bush 62-37
    Jim Bunning (R-KY), 79, Second, 51, 44-47, Bush 60-40
    Richard Burr (R-NC), 54, First, 52, 44-42, Bush 56-44
    Tom Coburn (R-OK), 62, First, 53, 50-38, Bush 66-34
    Mike Crapo (R-ID), 59, Second, 99, 61-29, Bush 69-30
    Jim DeMint (R-SC), 59, First, 54, 51-36, Bush 58-41
    Christopher Dodd (D-CT), 66, Fifth, 66, 56-36, Kerry 54-44
    Byron Dorgan (D-ND), 68, Third, 68, 75-21, Bush 63-36
    Russell Feingold (D-WI), 57, Third, 56, 54-38, Kerry 50-49
    Chuck Grassley (R-IA), 77, Fifth, 70, 65-27, Bush 50-49
    Judd Gregg (R-NH), 63, Third, 66, 50-40, Kerry 50-49
    Daniel Inouye (D-HI), 86, Eighth, 76, 68-26, Kerry 54-45
    Johnny Isakson (R-GA), 65, First, 58, 51-36, Bush 58-41
    Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 70, Sixth, 71, 71-25, Kerry 59-39
    Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), 50, Second, 56, 55-37, Bush 54-45
    Mel Martinez (R-FL), 64, First, 50, 43-46, Bush 52-47
    John McCain (R-AZ), 74, Fourth, 77, 61-34, Bush 55-45
    Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), 74, Fourth, 65, 57-35, Kerry 56-43
    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), 53, First, 49, 54-41, Bush 62-35
    Patty Murray (D-WA), 60, Third, 55, 55-37, Kerry 53-46
    Barack Obama (D-IL), 49, First, 70, 71-22, Kerry 55-45
    Harry Reid (D-NV), 70, Fourth, 61, 50-42, Bush 51-48
    Ken Salazar (D-CO), 55, First, 51, 56-36, Bush 52-47
    Charles Schumer (D-NY), 59, Second, 71, 60-33, Kerry 58-41
    Richard Shelby (R-AL), 76, Fourth, 68, 60-31, Bush 63-37
    Arlen Specter (R-PA), 80, Fifth, 53, 52-41, Kerry 51-49
    John Thune (R-SD), 49, First, 51, 61-36, Bush 60-38
    David Vitter (R-LA), 50, First, 51, 66-28, Bush 57-42
    George Voinovich (R-OH), 74, Second, 64, 48-44, Bush 51-49
    Ron Wyden (D-OR), 61, Second, 63, 59-33, Kerry 52-48

    Top Ten Targets in 2010 Appear to Be (in alphabetical order by Senator):

    Kit Bond (R-MO): Possible retirement, low approvals, McAskill (D) edged out incumbent Talent (R) in 2006

    Jim Bunning (R-KY): Probable retirement, low approvals, almost lost in 2004 against token opposition due to mental health concerns - however, he is so likely to retire that the KY-GOP would probably have stronger opposition for a likely open seat

    Richard Burr (R-NC): Freshman senator, low approvals, small margin of victory in 2004 - race against Elizabeth Dole in 2008 will be bellwether for Burr in 2010

    Tom Coburn (R-OK): Much like Burr in NC - freshman senator, low approvals, tighter race in 2004 than election results indicate - race against James Inhofe in 2008 will be bellwether for Coburn in 2010

    Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Possible-to-probable retirement despite high approvals, hates being in the minority party (accounts had him in tears when Jim Jeffords left the GOP and temporarily gave majority status to the Democrats), Iowa has trended blue very recently

    Judd Gregg (R-NH): Low approvals, NH has trended very blue over the last couple election cycles - race against John Sununu in 2008 will be bellwether for Gregg in 2010

    Mel Martinez (R-FL): Freshman senator despite being in his 60s, very low approvals, hands full with managing the RNC

    Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): Freshman senator, low approvals, father was bounced from the Governorship in a GOP primary in 2006

    Arlen Specter (R-PA): Possible-to-probable retirement, low approvals, oldest Republican up for re-election in 2010, difficult battles in 2004 in both primary and general elections, Bob Casey (D) solidly knocked out Rick Santorum (R), PA has gotten bluer over the last several years

    George Voinovich (R-OH): Much like Specter in PA, possible retirement, low approvals, Ohio has developed an anti-GOP sentiment due to corruption scandals, Sherrod Brown (D) solidly knocked out Mike DeWine (R) in 2006

    Might Get In, Might Get Out

    Lots of tidbits for your Tuesday morning:

  • New Mexico: The Associated Press is reporting that Pete Domenici says that he is definitely running for re-election. Maybe he'll have a formal announcement in his pajamas.

  • Colorado: This Cortez Journal piece seems to cast doubt on whether Bob Schaffer will challenge Scott McInnis in a much-anticipated CO-GOP Senate primary. Say it ain't so! Run, Bobby Boy, run! Even if Schaffer exited the race, Bentley Rayburn would potentially get in to represent the super-far-right in Colorado and challenge McInnis in a primary (and pull him further to the right), but I don't think it would be quite the same.

  • Minnesota: The Star Tribune looks at who else might join a Democratic Senate primary, along with attorney Mike Ciresi and commentator Al Franken. The list is heavy on state legislators, with state representatives Joe Atkins and Aaron Peterson the loudest voices.

  • Georgia: Vernon Jones is preparing fundraisers as he ponders whether or not to enter the Senate race.

  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham goes to the movies and leaves with his foot in his mouth.

  • Monday, February 12, 2007

    Iraq Reverberations

    Assuming you've finished your morning reading, here's some afternoon reading for you:

  • Minnesota: Democrat Mike Ciresi makes it crystal clear that he would urge for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq if he was a Senator. That clarity puts Republican Norm Coleman's milquetoast meandering in perspective.

  • Not wasting any time, the DSCC is taking out ads in Oregon and New Hampshire newspapers slamming Republicans Gordon Smith and John Sununu for supporting the filibuster against debate on an Iraq anti-escalation resolution. Jonathan Singer at MyDD has the details.

  • Stuart Rothenberg suggests that the Democrats are in sight of a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority by 2010, highlighting that 40 of the 67 seats up in 2008 and 2010 are held by the GOP, as opposed to only 27 by Democrats. Hat tip: TPM Cafe.

  • Monday Morning Miscellany

    Here is some Monday morning reading to fill your day:

  • South Dakota: In yet another sign that Tim Johnson's camp is headed toward a re-election bid, "at least seven of his Democratic Senate colleagues are organizing big-ticket fundraisers in the coming weeks to help him fill his campaign coffers" according to Roll Call, hat tip Political Wire.

  • Colorado: Luis at, hat tip Swing State Project, looks at the bad blood between factions of the Colorado GOP. The 2008 CO-GOP Senate primary could get nasty. Looking forward to it!

  • Nebraska: Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal Star looks at how Mike Fahey's potential entry to the Senate race could shape Chuck Hagel's 2008 intentions.

  • Delaware: This Delaware State News piece seems to indicate that GOP Rep. Mike Castle has no intentions of challenging Democratic incumbent Joe Biden for the Senate seat:

    The article also examined rumors that Rep. Castle, 67, might retire after this term due to a minor stroke he suffered in September or run for the Senate if Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., vacates his seat to focus on his presidential bid. [Emphasis mine.]
    It is entirely unclear how long Biden will maintain his Presidential bid, but he is unlikely to gain traction given his stumbling entrance into the race. Odds are that he will run for re-election to the Senate. But there is a lot of time for things to change course over the next year, so stay tuned.

  • New Jersey: While New Hampshire Republican John Sununu sprints away from the media, Democrat Frank Lautenberg sprints from committee hearing to committee hearing. Lautenberg might be the hardest working Senator over the first six weeks of this Congress.

  • Sunday, February 11, 2007

    Ciresi to Enter MN-Sen Race

  • Minnesota: The Star Tribune is reporting that Mike Ciresi will enter the Senate race in Minnesota:

    Attorney Mike Ciresi, most noted for his landmark victory over the tobacco industry, said Sunday that he is forming an exploratory committee for the 2008 Senate race, making him the first DFL candidate in what is expected to be a ferocious contest to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. ...

    In an interview from his Mendota Heights home, Ciresi said Democrats for 2008 should focus not just on health care, education and the environment, but on "rebuilding the middle class."
    Commentator Al Franken is in as well, meaning there will likely be a Democratic primary, but Ciresi indicates that it will be a very civil primary:

    Franken, Ciresi said, "appears bright, informed and well-intentioned. I have nothing against him. I want to see us concentrate our resources against Norm Coleman."
    Franken and Ciresi have very big wallets, so it may keep any additional Democrats from entering. Either way, if they focus on Coleman's failures and keep the tone between them civil, it should be a good primary, battle testing the eventual nominee to take out Coleman.

  • Fahey Close to Senate Bid?

  • Nebraska: Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey recently met with DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss a possible Senate bid, reports the Omaha World-Herald:

    In the past, Fahey quickly blunted any speculation that he was interested in running for higher office. That has changed, with Fahey now saying he will consider a Senate race if Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel doesn't seek re-election in 2008. ...

    "They talked to me about the Senate race, and they were very complimentary," Fahey said. "They said all the right things."

    In an interview with The World-Herald, Fahey said that at this point he is still more interested in seeking a third term as Omaha's mayor than in running for the Senate.

    But the Senate is attractive, he said. ...

    The Senate could use more mayors with first-hand experience managing a local budget under the strain of unfunded federal mandates, Fahey said. ...

    Fahey fits the mold of recent Nebraska Democrats elected to the Senate - Edward Zorinsky in 1976, J.J. Exon in 1978, Bob Kerrey in 1988 and Ben Nelson in 2000. All held elected executive positions prior to going to Washington: Zorinsky was mayor of Omaha when elected, and Exon, Kerrey and Nelson had served as governor.

    Each first made his mark in business, as Fahey did by founding a title insurance company. ...

    "He's a fiscal conservative," Johnson said of Fahey. "He has a nice, outgoing personality. He certainly knows how to raise money."
    Fahey is Democrats' top choice, and one of Nebraska's only high profile Democrats, along with Senator Ben Nelson and 2006 Congressional candidate Scott Kleeb. We should have a much clearer sense of Chuck Hagel's intentions by springtime. Hopefully, we will have Fahey's decision (and a positive one) even sooner. (Hat tip: UNO Dems)

  • Guru's Quote of the Weekend

  • New Hampshire: What does a man with absolutely no convictions sound like?

    Asked last week if he still stood by his 2002 vote authorising the use of force, [Republican John] Sununu, who has served just one term in the Senate, said: "I can't answer that question. I don't know what the answer to that question is or should be.
    Sununu wasn't asked "100 years from now, will history look back and say Bush's Iraq War was the right move" - he was asked if he personally still stood by his vote. And he can't answer that question. He doesn't know wthat the answer "should be." That is the epitome of a lack of convictions. Instead of saying what he actually thinks, he only wanted to say what was most politically expedient, and he couldn't even figure out what that answer "should be." Shamefully devoid of convictions. I completely understand the frustrations and motivations of Steve Marchand, Gary Hirshberg, and Katrina Swett.

  • More Progress on Senator Johnson's Recovery

  • South Dakota: The Associated Press is reporting that Senator Tim Johnson is beginning to do some work from his hospital room:

    Sen. Tim Johnson is reading news clippings and starting to do some office work from the hospital, almost two months after suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage.

    "At this point, he has requested more contact with office and is looking for updates from staff," his office said in a statement Friday.
    Johnson's rate of progress seems to have been miraculous, all things considered. I hope they take it slow and steady, and so far, so good.

  • Saturday, February 10, 2007

    Another Name for the CO-GOP Senate Primary

  • Colorado: The Rocky Mountain News has the goods on another possible entry into the CO-GOP Senate primary:

    Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn, a political rookie who made a surprising showing in a Republican congressional primary last year, said he is being urged to run to replace the retiring Sen. Wayne Allard.

    "We’re considering it. We’re talking to a lot of people," Rayburn said in a telephone interview Friday. "If I decide it’s right to get into that fight, I need to get in right away."

    Rayburn said one factor he is considering is his admiration for another Republican who is considering the race, former Congressman Bob Schaffer, a Republican.

    "If he was to tell me tomorrow (that) he was going to run, that would completely change around my decision process," Rayburn said.

    Schaffer has said he is considering the race but that he has no timetable for announcing a decision.
    Rayburn "describes himself as a 'social conservative' and 'fiscal conservative,'" which means that there will likely be one conservative, be it Schaffer or Rayburn, pulling McInnis to the right. Hopefully, though, only one or the other will get in so that they don't fracture the super-conservative vote, allowing McInnis to sit tight with the moderate-conservative vote. Colorado Pols thinks that is the case:

    Our view: Rayburn isn't announcing his candidacy, he doesn't have a realistic chance statewide and he knows it -- he's paving the way for Bob Schaffer to announce his candidacy, and setting Schaffer up as the credible alterative to McInnis with the conservative rank-and-file. Pretty smart.
    Works for me. The CO-GOP Senate primary is shaping up to be my favorite potential-train-wreck race of the whole 2008 cycle.

    UPDATE (1:12pm): Quick hits on Major General Bentley Rayburn from his 2006 Congressional race: he had trouble finding financial support from inside Colorado; and his supporters did not heed military rules or religious sensitivity.

  • Friday, February 09, 2007

    Cochran Delays Retirement/Re-election Decision

  • Mississippi: The Sun Herald gets Republican Thad Cochran's thoughts on a possible re-election bid:

    U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., was saluted by fellow senators Thursday for having cast his 10,000th vote, but he kept characteristically coy about whether he expects to cast any votes after 2008, when he is up for re-election. ...

    As for the elephant in the room - will he run for re-election? - Cochran said: "I plan to. But I haven't formally announced my intentions or announced my candidacy."

    Cochran has been under pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who want him to run and make an announcement.

    But Cochran isn't in any hurry. "I would guess after the November elections, around the first of December, I would announce if I'm running," he said. "I haven't firmly decided to run or not." The 69-year old lawmaker said he felt healthy enough to run.

    Asked if the GOP's minority status was a factor in his calculations, Cochran said, "Yes, if there was a less likelihood of being in the majority, I would be less inclined to run." ...

    In a sign he is gearing up for a race, the senior Mississippi lawmaker pointed out "I'm having some fundraisers," with two in the state this month.
    Some decide and then remain 'publicly undecided' as they await the right time to announce one way or the other, but Cochran seems genuinely undecided. He is raising money and he would like to remain in the Senate, health-permitting. However, he doesn't like being in the minority, and with the 2008 geography so heavily favoring Democrats, the GOP likely won't even have a chance to regain the Senate majority for half-a-decade or more.

    Cochran needs more motivation to retire. Hopefully, popular Democrat and former state Attorney General Mike Moore will get in ASAP. Unfortunately, Moore is waiting to see what Cochran does, which is why it is politically smart for Cochran to wait (note that Cochran pushed back his decision date even further, to the first of December) and keep Moore at bay so that GOP Rep. Chip Pickering, the likely GOP nominee should Cochran retire, can continue raising money while Moore waits. However, if Moore just announced, got in, raised a pile of money, and let Cochran know that he would have a grueling re-election battle on his hands if he ran again, then Cochran might be more inclined to retire. Given the situation, the ball is in Moore's court. I'm hoping he picks the ball up and runs with it. (And I hope you don't mind me combining different sports metaphors.)

  • When Republicans Lie

    Some late-night bites for you insomniacs:

  • Colorado: Colorado Pols catches the McInnis camp changing its tune on primaries. When Scott McInnis wants to take his time, a primary "energizes and unifies the party"; but when he's the first one in the pool, then a primary can "cause further damage to the party." No, that doesn't smack of political opportunism. Not one bit. (I can't wait for Bob Schaffer to get in and pull McInnis way to the right, further solidifying Mark Udall's chances.)

  • Maine: Want both audio and visual proof of Susan Collins' broken promise to the voters of Maine? Then check this out. It's also here, courtesy of Craig from Turn Maine Blue.

  • Oregon: The DSCC has already sliced and diced the records of Susan Collins and John Sununu. Now they focus on Gordon Smith's hypocrisy on Iraq.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig's staff insults and yells at veterans. Will Larry Craig fire Chief of Staff Mike Ware for his unpatriotic verbal slap in the face of our brave Iraq War veterans? Don't hold your breath.

  • Thursday, February 08, 2007


    Some evening reading for you to enjoy:

  • Virginia: NYTimes/CQPolitics looks at a potential Warner-Warner match-up, incumbent Republican John vs. popular Democratic former Governor Mark. While Sen. Warner enjoys a 62% approval, Gov. Mark Warner did leave office in January 2006 with a 72% approval. Many other strengths and weaknesses are looked at - an interesting read.

  • Maine: Nathan Gonzales at The Rothenberg Report analyzes how 2008 will be a much more politically difficult year for Susan Collins than 2002 was. And he for the most part only takes into account national political trends - he doesn't even incorporate Collins' broken promises, like her dishonest term limit pledge, into his analysis. Go Tom Allen!

  • Matt Mackowiak at Political Insider lists his top eight most vulnerable Senate seats, giving a brief analysis with each. My only gripe is that Montana's Max Baucus is on the list in a place that should have gone to North Carolina' Elizabeth Dole or Virginia's John Warner. Dole and Warner are on the retirement watch, while Baucus is not. And while Denny Rehberg, Mike Easley, and Mark Warner are all still publicly undecided on a Senate run, Easley and Warner would more likely be victorious in their possible challenges than Rehberg would be. A poll already puts Easley ahead of Dole; and Mark Warner's approval is higher than John Warner's - by an even larger margin than Baucus' aproval is ahead of Rehberg's.

  • GOP Fumbles While Dems Fundraise

    Here's some Thursday morning reading for you:

  • Robert "Count Chocula" Novak's latest column demonstrates why Mitch McConnell is in trouble and bringing the GOP Senate caucus down with him:

    Listening to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last weekend boast he had the votes to prevent closing Senate debate on Iraq, Republicans opposing President Bush's troop surge in Iraq feared the worst. The new Republican leader sounded as though he wanted to prevent passage of an anti-surge resolution at the cost of making his party look obstructionist. That's exactly what happened.

    McConnell's tactics resulted in no resolution passed by the Senate any time soon. The White House was overjoyed. But Tuesday's newspaper headlines indicated a public relations fiasco for Republicans: "GOP Stalls Debate On Troop Increase" (Washington Post); "In Senate, GOP Blocks a Debate Over Iraq Policy" (New York Times); "Vote on Iraq is Blocked by GOP" (USA Today). Considering that outcome from a tactical victory, the Republicans might be better off with a strategic defeat. It is unclear who won in the Senate this week.
    Unlike Harry Reid, McConnell doesn't understand how to lead a party in the minority. As McConnell continues to make strategic blunders, it will continue to make the GOP Senate caucus look bad. And, hopefully, this will help push those GOP Senators considering retirement to ultimately decide on it.

  • Virginia: John Warner's back-and-forth on debating the Iraq escalation is chronicled succinctly:

    Two days after voting to block action on his resolution opposing a troop surge in Iraq, Sen. John Warner of Virginia reversed course late Wednesday by threatening to attach his measure to any applicable bill pending in the Senate.

    The about-face came after war critics attacked Warner for allegedly abandoning his stand against President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
    Warner seems to be number one on that list of Senators equivocating between retirement and re-election. And it also seems like he is already getting supremely frustrated serving in the minority party again. Perhaps this will help push him toward a decision of retirement.

  • Illinois: Dick Durbin gets the importance of early fundraising:

    Sen. Dick Durbin is kicking off a fund-raising blitz for his 2008 re-election campaign on Sunday at a brunch hosted by Democrats Susan and Lew Manilow. ...

    Durbin wants millions of dollars in his war chest as soon as possible to make any GOP multimillionaire think twice about the cost of challenging him. Durbin wants to raise the financial bar so high no one but a rookie, long shot or no-name Republican will bother to run.
    The IL-GOP is in shambles right now, and their last Senate race in 2004 was an embarrassment for the GOP. Add in aggressive fundraising by Durbin, Obama-mania in Illinois, and a lack of support from the NRSC (with several other tighter races to worry about), and you will likely see Durbin get his wish of nothing more than token opposition.

  • New Jersey: In another showing of his seriousness about re-election, Frank Lautenberg is loaning his campaign a cool million bucks. While this potentially allows possible opponents to accept larger individual contributions, it also makes a statement that any Republican who may challenge Lautenberg will have to commit themselves to raising considerable resources.

  • Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    DSCC Tells It Like It Is; Also, Ciresi to Decide Next Week

    Happy Wednesday night:

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), under the leadership of Chuck Schumer, has started the offensive against GOP Senate incumbents, highlighting their shoddy records. To start, the DSCC calls out Susan Collins for her hypocrisy and broken promises to the voters of Maine, most notably for ditching her self-imposed two-term-limit pledge that she made not only when she first ran in 1996, but also when she ran for re-election in 2002. The DSCC also holds John Sununu to account for his wavering and equivocation on Iraq and Bush's escalation plan, as well as Sununu (literally) running away from reporters to hide his record. Great stuff, DSCC! Looking forward to more of this as the campaigns take shape.

  • Minnesota: Attorney Mike Ciresi, "best known as the attorney who represented the state of Minnesota and won a $6.1 billion settlement with the tobacco industry," will announce next week whether or not he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge vulnerable Republican Norm Coleman. Commentator Al Franken is already in the race for the Democrats.

  • Challenging

    Some tidbits for your Wednesday morning:

  • Virginia: Jim Webb's 2006 primary opponent, Harris Miller, has just taken a new job that will likely preclude him from considering a 2008 candidacy to challenge John Warner.

  • New Jersey: Following up on yesterday's look at potential challengers to Frank Lautenberg, The NJ Blog makes a case for GOP State Senator and 2002 Doug Forrester primary challenger Diane Allen as someone to look out for.

  • New Hampshire: John Sununu's sprinting away from Iraq has his potential opponents even more motivated:

    Democratic Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who has announced he will run for the Senate next year, and Concord businessman Gary Hirshberg, who is considering a challenge, also criticized Sununu yesterday. "Every time I start to get comfortable with the idea that I should not run, Senator Sununu does something else that makes my blood boil," said Hirshberg.
  • The Hill reports:

    Meanwhile, will begin airing new TV spots today in the states of eight senators who voted against opening debate on the non-binding Iraq resolution in a bid to amplify voters’ frustration.'s webpage on the filibuster ad indicates that the ad will go up in Virginia (Warner), Kansas (Brownback), New Hampshire (Sununu), and Oregon (Smith). Any word on what other states it will get played in?

  • Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    What's Happening in the Garden State

  • New Jersey: As much as he hates fundraising, Frank Lautenberg is doing what it takes to run for re-election, with several fundraisers down and several more planned. Regarding a possible challenger to Lautenberg, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes:

    The most well-known likely Republican candidate, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, took himself out of the running last month, signaling other Republicans they could start exploring a run.

    U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, a South Jersey Republican, seems unlikely to run, though he has been mentioned on the short list of possible candidates. But Bill Baroni, a moderate GOP assemblyman who keeps winning in a Democratic-leaning Mercer County district, is paying attention to party leaders who have asked him to at least think about it.

    Warren County Republican Assemblyman Mike Dougherty, a conservative, also is thinking about the possibilities.

    Although many in the Republican Party believe their 2006 Senate candidate, Thomas H. Kean Jr., has a bright future, he took such a thrashing last year that he is not considered a contender this time.
    Regarding a Lautenberg opponent, The Inside Edge adds:

    Anne Evans Estabrook, a 63-year-old millionaire real estate developer from Summit, is mulling a bid for the 2008 Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Her interest in the race against Frank Lautenberg is a signal that State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., the '06 nominee, will not run next year. Estabrook has longtime ties to the Kean family, and spent more than twenty years as a Director of the Elizabethtown Water Co. She is a former Chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority under Governor Christie Whitman.

    Two GOP legislators are also considering a challenge to Lautenberg: Assemblyman Bill Baroni, a pro-life, pro-labor law professor who has won twice in a highly competitive Mercer/Middlesex district, and Michael Doherty, a three-term Assemblyman from Warren County and a former Freeholder who is one of the state's most conservative legislators.
    While I have commented that I still expect a Lautenberg retirement given his age and relatively low approval ratings (which ultimately didn't hurt Bob Menendez in his 2006 bid), the fundraising efforts suggest that he is definitely planning on re-election. We'll see in the coming weeks and months how a GOP primary might shape up, and whether a GOP primary would help or hurt the eventual GOP candidate.

  • Monday, February 05, 2007

    Senate Republicans Block Iraq Debate, Essentially Support Escalation

  • When Oregon's Gordon Smith or Virginia's John Warner or New Hampshire's John Sununu suggest that they're concerned about the direction of Bush's Iraq War, please know that they are lying to your face. Here's the list of 2008 Senators voting against debating the Iraq escalation, via Daily Kos:

    Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
    Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
    Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    John Cornyn (R-TX)
    Larry Craig (R-ID)
    Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
    Pete Domenici (R-NM)
    Mike Enzi (R-WY)
    Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
    Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
    Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
    Pat Roberts (R-KS)
    Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
    Gordon Smith (R-OR)
    Ted Stevens (R-AK)
    John Sununu (R-NH)
    John Warner (R-VA)

    Every one of them essentially voted to allow the Bush escalation to occur. Make sure their electorates don't forget it.

    UPDATE (10:52 PM): Kos adds further thoughts on the specific cowardice of Gordon Smith and John Sununu.

  • Waiting for the Chips to Fall

    Two afternoon bits:

  • Political Wire offers an early analysis of next year's "Veepstakes" in both parties. Two Democrats listed as possible VP candidates are also two southern Governors who would make terrific 2008 Senate candidates: North Carolina's Mike Easley and Tennessee's Phil Bredesen.

    Easley's term is up in 2008, and he is term limited from seeking another term. Further, a new poll has him beating incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole in a head-to-head match-up. Meanwhile, Bredesen's term isn't up until 2010, but he is similarly term limited from seeking re-election to the Governor's office. He enjoys significant popularity, as indicated by his 69-30 mammoth re-election victory this past November.

    Neither has expressed any explicit interest in a 2008 Senate run. But, could they just be biding their time, awaiting the Veepstakes game? Is it possible that they, particularly Easley, could choose to run for Senate if it looks like they may not be on a VP short list? I hope so. Running mates don't have to be decided on until the lead-up to the Party's convention, though, so it could be a while until we have a clearer sense of who might be on a short list. Still, the optimists among us will continue to hope that these giants of their political universes will ultimately opt for a Senate bid.

  • Minnesota: The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza analyzes Al Franken's strengths and weaknesses against Norm Coleman. While the srengths and weaknesses as listed are not inaccurate, the strengths (name ID, fundraising ability, and time spent laying the groundwork) far outweigh the perceived weaknesses (controversial writing and liberal ideology), especially considering Minnesota has a track record of electing the controversial (Jesse Ventura) and the liberal (Paul Wellstone). What Minnesotans don't seem to like are politicians without convictions. And Norm Coleman's milquetoast meandering on issues certainly brings his convictions into question.

  • While Democrats Prepare, Republicans Dance

    Two very interesting reads for you this Monday morning:

  • Jonathan Singer at MyDD interviews Chuck Schumer, primarily while wearing his DSCC Chair hat. In a nutshell, Schumer feels good about our 12 incumbents, while being notably protective of Mary Landrieu's re-election bid in Louisiana. Meanwhile, he sees, as most of us do, some strong potential pickup opportunities in states like Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Maine, and will clearly put a lot of focus on those states.

  • The Washington Post covers Senate Republicans dancing around Iraq. Amongst the highlights, the Post notes that New Hampshire Republican John Sununu "took off in a sprint" when approached by reporters. You may also find that Oregon Republican Gordon Smith's disingenuous blather is reaching insufferable levels. But this takes the cake:

    [Minnesota Republican Norm] Coleman said he found it "offensive" to suggest that senators' reelection concerns could influence their stand. But he conceded: "Certainly senators like myself and [Maine Republican Susan] Collins and others are in tough states. Anything we do always gets measured against that."
    Sorry to offend you, Norm, but I find it offensive that so many Senate Republicans waited until after seeing the results of Election Day 2006 to begin opening their mouths. Only when their individual political hides are on the line in a re-election bid do many of these Senate Republicans push for any kind of oversight. I look forward to their respective constituencies holding them to account for not holding the Bush Administration to account, amongst many other lapses of leadership.