Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Appeal (Only 400 Days Until Election Day '08)

Today is actually pretty quiet in terms of Senate race news and goingson. CNN profiles the role that the internet will play in Virginia's 2008 Senate race, referring frequently to the Macaca incident and YouTube. mcjoan sees Idaho's Larry Craig creating some rhetorical wiggle room not only to avoid resigning but possibly also to consider a re-election bid in 2008. And, NM FBIHOP's LP argues that Don Wiviott can take on Pajamas Pete Domenici in New Mexico, if Tom Udall or Bill Richardson don't jump into the Senate race after all.

But, more importantly, today is the last day of the third fundraising quarter of 2007. I know that I have been begging all weekend for readers of the Guru's blog to visit the new Expand the Map! ActBlue page and contribute a few bucks to Idaho's Larry LaRocco and Oklahoma's Andrew Rice. And, with today being the last day of the quarter, all dollars raised today will help these campaigns illustrate their viability and competitivity when they release their Q3 numbers.

So please consider making a contribution to either or both of these very deserving candidates. If you can contribute $100, that is awesome. If you can contribute $5, that is awesome! We're almost at 20 contributions for both, and I'd love to see us cross that mark. Thanks again for all of your generosity!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Tidbits

  • The Expand the Map! ActBlue page is up to 18 contributions for Andrew Rice and 14 contributions for Larry LaRocco, totalling over $2,000 raised. You have been incredibly generous! I think we can get to 20 contributions for both by 11:59pm Sunday - but, dare I say, is it possible that we can get 20 contributions for both by the end of the night tonight? Let's try!

  • Idaho: Larry Craig's lawyer says that it is "conceivable" that Craig will try to remain in office until the end of his term and that it does not necessarily depend on the ruling in Craig's court case in Minnesota.

  • Georgia: Lieutenant General David Poythress, Georgia's retiring adjutant general and a former Georgia Secretary of State and Labor Commissioner, is being eyed as a possible Senate challenger to Spineless Saxby Chambliss in 2008. If it can't be Max Cleland, it would be great to have another military man lay out for Saxby what a coward Chambliss really is.

  • Nebraska: While former Senator Bob Kerrey would not vote to cut off funds for military operations in Iraq, he does advocate that we should begin to "downsize the military commitment" in Iraq. That Kerrey is further discussing specifics about his nuanced position on Iraq can be taken as an indication that he is continuing his deep deliberation over whether or not to run for Senate in 2008.

  • North Carolina: An Elon University poll puts Elizabeth Dole's approve-disapprove at about 50-25. More interesting than that, the poll also gauged North Carolina voters' takes on specific issues. Voters said that the top four issues that would "influence their vote for U.S. Senator" were The Iraq War (78%), Economy (76%), Health Care Costs (75%), and Immigration (73%). And what were the voters' satisfaction levels with Elizabeth Dole on those four issues? Very poor: 32% for The Iraq War, 39% for Economy, 32% for Health Care Costs, and 28% for Immigration. Elizabeth Dole will have a very hard time defending her record if less than 40% of voters are satisfied with her on issues that about 75% of voters will be basing their vote on.

  • Alaska: From the producers of "The Bridge to Nowhere," Ted Stevens brings us "The Ferry to Nowhere."

  • Friday, September 28, 2007

    Thank You for Expanding the Map! Now Keep it Coming!

    Last night, when I created the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, I had a goal of 10 contributions for Larry LaRocco and 10 contributions for Andrew Rice by 11:59pm tonight. Well, it's a few minutes before 11:59pm and we have 12 contributions for Larry LaRocco and 16 contributions for Andrew Rice, totalling almost $2000 contributed!

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Now that my expectations have been exceeded, let's get to 20 contributions for both LaRocco and Rice by the end of the weekend, Sunday night. If you're able to give $100, give $100. If you're able to give $5, give $5. Every dollar makes a big difference, so please chip in! Thanks again!

    Friday Items

  • Please contribute via my new Expand the Map! ActBlue page. I have a very modest goal of 10 contributions for Larry LaRocco and 10 contributions for Andrew Rice by the end of today. Every dollar in Idaho and Oklahoma can go a very long way! Please help out.

  • Good ole' Club for Growth:

    In the Senate, the Club would like to take on Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R), a notorious earmarker whose legal woes are giving some hope for a primary challenge. ...

    It issued a poll last week showing Stevens losing handily to Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and this week criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) votes for the Democrats’ appropriations bills.

    Stevens does not have a major potential primary challenger at this point, while some Kentucky GOP activists are trying to recruit former gubernatorial nominee Larry Forgy (R) to challenge McConnell.
    I can't imagine Palin will enter a primary againt Stevens simply because she wants to be Governor. But it might empower other Republicans to consider a primary bid.

  • Alaska: Speaking of Stevens, SSP's Trent Thompson offers further insights on the recent poll on Ted Stevens, noting that 45% say they are unlikely to vote for Teddy Tubes for re-election and only 43% say they are likely to vote to re-elect Stevens, down from 50% in June.

  • South Dakota: Senator Tim Johnson reiterates that he is "determined to run for re-election."

  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley snags the biggest out-of-state endorsement yet in the 2008 Senate race: Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

  • Texas: Speaking of endorsements, State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega received the endorsement of VoteVets.

  • New Hampshire: Blue Hampshire notes that, while the Senate passed the anti-hate crimes amendment by a margin of 60-39 including the support of New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, Sprintin' John Sununu opposed it, making him the only New England Senator of either Party to do so.

  • Nebraska: Former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub is expected to exit the 2008 Republican Senate primary after only about two weeks. Early primary poll numbers did not look good for Daub. Nevertheless, don't let Daub's exit serve as an indicator about Jon Bruning's intentions, vis a vis Mike Johanns' entry. Bruning has given every indication that he is in it for the long haul - in fact, Daub's exit may strengthen Bruning's position if Daub's support came from the same anti-Hagel/Heineman/Johanns pool that Bruning's comes from.

  • Will John Cornyn and the rest of the Senate Republicans who flipped out over's ad questioning the veracity and accuracy of General Petraeus' report on Iraq to the point that he filed a Senate resolution condemning it now also file and support a resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh for calling soldiers fighting in Iraq who want to see an end to the War "phony soldiers"? Or are John Cornyn and his ilk going to again demonstrate their unending hypocrisy?

  • Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Expand the Map! via ActBlue

    You may notice a new link in the upper left hand corner of the Guru's blog reading "Expand the Map!" The link goes to the new ActBlue page I just set up.

    I have been thinking about what races I would most like to see additional dollars going toward. The highest tier competitive races, states like (but certainly not limited to) Colorado and Virginia, will receive a great deal of attention. While I don't want to discourage anybody from contributing to terrific Democratic candidates in these states (take nothing for granted!), I would like to see the map of competitive states expand as much as possible. Many races in states that don’t typically see competitive Senate races have the chance to be real pick-up opportunities. But they need our support!

    I have inaugurated my "Expand the Map!" ActBlue page with two Senate campaigns that have the potential to be fiercely competitive and where every single dollar contributed can truly make the difference.

    In Idaho, Larry Craig's scandal has left the ID-GOP in a state of limbo. All the while, former Congressman and Army veteran Larry LaRocco has been tirelessly criss-crossing the state through his successful "Working for the Senate" campaign, reaching out to voters and offering Idaho a real opportunity for change in 2008.

    In Oklahoma, the dynamic campaign of State Senator Andrew Rice has provided Oklahomans with a strong alternative to Senate anachronism Jim "In Denial" Inhofe, who notoriously called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," an absurd analysis that even California's Republican Governor Arnold "Conan the Barbarian" Schwarzenegger called "thinking in the Stone Age."

    Larry LaRocco and Andrew Rice can expand the map of competitive Senate seats in 2008, but they need your support.

    I'm starting the page with a very modest goal. I would love to see ten contributions made to both LaRocco and Rice by 11:59pm on Friday. Every dollar counts, so please help Expand the Map!

    Thursday Round-Up

  • Many GOP Senators ostensibly took advantage of the fact that the House already passed an SCHIP reauthorization bill but not by a veto-proof margin (i.e. George W. Bush's promised veto will very likely not be overturned) to support the SCHIP bill in the Senate. However, several Republican Senators still opposed the bill reauthorizing and expanding health insurance for sick children, including: John Barrasso, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, John Cornyn, Larry Craig, Elizabeth Dole, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, and Jeff Sessions.

  • National Journal's Amy Walter offers her top ten most vulnerable Senate seats list. Not surprisingly, the list includes eight seats currently held by Republicans, as well as Louisiana and South Dakota in the ten-spot.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig posted this on his Senate website yesterday:

    "Today was a major step in the legal effort to clear my name. The court has not issued a ruling on my motion to withdraw my guilty plea. For now, I will continue my work in the United States Senate for Idaho."
    I think it's safe to say he won't resign on the 30th of September. The judge in Craig's case will issue a ruling "at the end of next week at the earliest." In the meantime, GOP Gov. Butch Otter has a short list of potential appointees ready to go (though no one knows when or if he'll get to use it!).

  • Alaska: Hays Research conducted a poll on Alaskans' feelings toward Ted Stevens. Only 40% said "very positive" or "somewhat positive" while 38% said "very negative" or "somewhat negative" and 19% were neutral. Those are very perilous numbers for Uncle Ted.

  • Texas: Daily Kos commissioned a poll by Research 2000 finding that John Cornyn held a 51-35 advantage over State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega. The 51-35 figure is not too dissimilar from the 53-30 figure Rasmussen Reports released about a week ago, which is pretty good considering most Texans probably have never heard of Rick Noriega yet. The Research 2000 poll also found that 40% of voters would re-elect Cornyn, 15% would consider another candidate, and 35% would vote to replace Cornyn. Those numbers are very promising.

  • Kentucky: Yet another bad omen for Mitch McConnell:

    But liberal groups are eyeing the prospect of a strong GOP challenger — perhaps from Larry Forgy, the GOP gubernatorial nominee in 1995. And the influential anti-tax group Club for Growth signaled Wednesday that it might play a role in a primary fight against McConnell.

    The Club remarked in a statement Wednesday that the Republican leader “is looking more and more like his counterpart across the aisle, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)” on spending issues.
    Maybe CfG is just trying to scare McConnell as debates over spending bills occur. But if they did offer resources to a McConnell primary opponent, it would likely force McConnell to use up a significant chunk of his warchest in a primary. That's especially bad news given that state Attorney General Greg Stumbo has the approval of a large plurality of Kentuckians. Stumbo's approve-disapprove stands at 47-26, with 28% having no opinion (not uncommon for a sub-gubernatorial statewide officeholder).

  • Nebraska: Coming soon to a theater near you: former Senator Bob Kerrey's decision on a 2008 Senate race.

  • Maine: Tom Allen understands priorities.

  • Oklahoma: Jim "In Denial" Inhofe really is a petty nutjob.

    South Carolina: Mark Lindsey Graham's words:

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, a pivotal Republican vote in the U.S. Senate on Iraq policy, is willing to give the government of Iraq until Christmas to get its act together.

    But not much more.

    Graham told TIME Wednesday that the Iraqi leaders have 90 days to start resolving their political differences with real legislative agreements or face a change in strategy by the U.S. "If they can't do it in 90 days," he said, "it means the major players don't want to."
    We'll see how Graham feels around New Year's.

  • Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Another Giant Wednesday Rundown

  • Maine: Susan Collins is manufacturing yet another dishonest attack against a political opponent, trying to pervert Congressman Tom Allen's 98% voting record, one of the highest in the House, into something lackluster, when it is actually a terrific attendance record (probably because Collins wants to tout her 100% voting record without having to defend the substance of her votes that put her far to the right of mainstream Maine).

    This dishonest attack is similar to two instances: the Collins camp whining about the Maine Democratic Party having a staffer record her public appearances, a political activity so common, Collins' own Party's campaign leaders suggest she does the same thing; and, Collins' campaign working with a reporter to portray a political opponent's very typical opposition research effort as a seedy witch-hunt. Basically, Collins just dishonestly manufactures controversy.

    Susan Collins promised voters she'd only serve two terms, but she is breaking her promise and running for a third term. Susan Collins claims to want to bring an end to Bush's Iraq War but continues to vote in favor of endless war while Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe work to bring the troops home safely. Susan Collins claims to support the troops, but the conditions that led to the Walter Reed scandal happened under her nose as Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. And Susan Collins claims to be pro-choice but supports anti-choice ideologues for Supreme Court seats. Collins is a pathological liar. And she hopes her lies will propel her to a third term.

  • New Mexico: I know I mentioned this last night, but, wow, if Pete Domenici's approve-disapprove next month is anywhere near this month's atrocious 41-54, he could find himself in much more electoral trouble than really anybody thought.

  • Minnesota: Al Franken offers an outstanding op-ed in the Star Tribune today:

    It is, of course, ridiculous that the United States Senate spent a day debating and voting on a resolution condemning an advertisement while our troops remained in Iraq, fighting a war with no end. And it's doubly ridiculous that Coleman, of all people, is still playing politics with this issue. ...

    As I go around the state, I don't hear a whole lot about ads in the New York Times. What I do hear is that Minnesotans want this war to end, and that if this president won't end it, they want the Senate to force him to end it.
    Smilin' Norm Coleman and his 46-45 approve-disapprove are in for a very bumpy election cycle.

  • Idaho: Today is Larry Craig's day in court, though legal experts pretty uniformly suggest that Craig should not expect to have his guilty plea rescinded. But now Craig is being cagey about whether or not he'll resign even if his guilty plea is not overturned. I think Craig should stick it out in order to send a message to a Senate Republican caucus that would throw him under a bus while welcoming back prostitute-lovin' David Vitter with thunderous applause. Meanwhile, Democratic Senate candidate Larry LaRocco has General Wesley Clark in his corner.

  • Montana: Republican former state legislator Bob Keenan is meeting with GOP bigwigs about a possible challenge to popular Senator Max Baucus. Currently, the Republican in the race is a disgraced current state legislator Mike Lange.

  • Kentucky: Via DMKY, we see the Courier-Journal's David Hawpe calling out Mitch McConnell for his "utter hypocrisy" and "selective outrage" over the ad, asking "Where were the Republicans in the U.S. Senate when a 2002 GOP television ad trashed Democrat Max Cleland, who lost both arms and a leg in a Vietnam grenade blast? ... Where was the GOP outcry against that smear?" The answer is that there was no outcry because Republicans in the Senate only care about the troops and veterans when it serves their partisan political purposes.

  • Virginia: Smear tactics and baseless innuendos are all the Virginia Republican Party has left - they are clearly quite desperate. (FYI: Link contains strong language.)

  • Oregon: In light of Gordon Smith's company's third fine for polluting a nearby creek, the Oregon Democratic Party highlights Smith's terrible environmental record as a Senator, including a "lifetime score of just 26 percent from the League of Conservation Voters."

  • Tennessee: Another indication that businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter intends to challenge Lamar Alexander: was registered a few months ago, just in case.

  • New Hampshire: Today begins popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen's official campaign appearances. It will provide great opportunities to remind voters why they elected her to the Governor's office three consecutive times.

  • The NRSC is, almost comically, willing to exploit any opportunity to raise a buck.

  • Could the Republican's Senate campaign committee Chair be responsible for obstructing legislation to enhance campaign finance disclosure? I'm shocked! Shocked!

  • Bill O'Reilly is a racist and a hypocrite, and was accused of sexual harrassment. Just FYI.

  • Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    September Senate Approval Numbers from Survey USA

    SUSA is up with their September numbers.


    Norm Coleman9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    Bad news for Coleman who hangs around the mid-40's in extremely vulnerable territory, again very near a net-negative approval. Especially bad news when you hold Coleman's 46-45 next to Senator Amy Klobuchar's 62-32.

    Pete Domenici9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    These are the most shocking new numbers. Domenici's steady fall seemed to have levelled off in the low-50's. Are these atrocious numbers just an outlying blip or a sign of more pointed disapproval? We won't know until next month's numbers establish a new trend or evidence that it was just a blip. But very intriguing.

    Mitch McConnell9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    McConnell continues to hover right around that 50% danger mark.

    Pat Roberts9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    After spending time flirting with the 50% mark, Roberts' approval has shifted back up into traditionally safer territory.

    Jeff Sessions9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    Not much new with Sessions. If he stays above 55%, he should be very comfortable.

    Gordon Smith9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    Smith spends his fifth consecutive month with an approval under 50% and his fourth consecutive month with a disapproval above 40%. Classicly vulnerable.


    Tom Harkin9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    Harkin keeps the head above 50%. Probably not low enough to tempt Tom Latham to gamble his House seat on a Senate challenge.

    John Kerry9/25/078/21/077/24/076/19/075/24/074/24/0711/22/06

    Kerry also stays above 50%. I wonder how low his approval would have to go before the NRSC committed funds to Massachusetts?

    Tuesday Round-Up

  • So says a new Gallup poll:

    Currently 53% of respondents hold favorable opinions about the Democrats, compared with only 38% who do so for Republicans. The poll found similar margins believe Democrats will handle the economy better, with 54% support for Dems and only 34% for Republicans. While the economic results are not unique from surveys past, for the first time since Gallup asked about national security in this annual poll, Democrats are viewed more favorably in their ability to handle security issues than are Republicans (47% to 42%). These results depict the increasingly precarious position of the GOP leading in to the 2008 election.
    Precarious indeed.

  • Revelatory indicator of the day: "The NRSC did not receive any August contributions from Republican senators." I'm sure that doesn't excite GOP donors to hear that no Republican Senators are ponying up to help their cause.

  • Cable news programs are trying to give Sprintin' John Sununu, Smilin' Norm Coleman, and other endangered Republican Senators a forum to defend their votes and share their views, but all interview requests are "routinely turned down." I guess these vulnerable Republicans are too cowardly to stand up and defend their votes in favor of prolonging Bush's Iraq War and their myriad other votes putting them out-of-step with their constituents.

  • Tennessee: Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter has take a step forward toward entering the 2008 Senate race, creating an exploratory committee. MyDD's Singer offers further thoughtful analysis.

  • Maine: The Rockland Courier-Gazette editorial board hammers Susan Collins on Iraq, noting: "Collins has strayed so far into the camp of President George W. Bush that she can’t free herself. Her votes are destructive to the country and the state. The cost in lives and money that could be used for useful purposes is tremendously high." Scathingly honest. (HT: TMB) Meanwhile, Tom Allen continues to lay out his positions clearly in a Collins Watch exclusive interview, including that "'setting a deadline is the best way' to move forward."

  • Oregon: Like with so many other issues, Gordon Smith has a terrible record on making education affordable.

  • Minnesota: Yet another Norm Coleman hypocrisy alert. While Smilin' Norm was all atwitter over the ad questioning the validity and accuracy of General Petraeus' status report on Iraq (the horror!), he currently has as an adviser Scott Howell, the man behind perhaps the most disgusting political ad ever, the 2002 ad for draft-dodger Shameless Saxby Chambliss comparing decorated war hero Max Cleland to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

  • Georgia: Speaking of Chambliss, the Athens Banner-Herald's political blogger asks, "How the heck does U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., sleep at night? ... How does Chambliss, who managed to get four deferments from serving in Vietnam, dare to vote against anything that might bring a measure of much-needed respite to U.S. troops?" The answer is simple. Chambliss is a hypocrite and a coward. These two points are undebatable.

  • Alaska: BooMan makes a clear and succinct argument for, at least temporarily, removing Ted Stevens from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • Illinois: State Farm Insurance employee Alton Franklin III is considering an independent run for Senate in 2008 against Senator Richard Durbin.

  • This Giuliani campaign gimmick is at best tasteless and at worst truly disgusting, and exploitative any way you cut it.

  • Monday, September 24, 2007

    Monday Tidbits

  • August fundraising numbers are out. Another losing month for the NRSC. DSCC: $2.58 million; NRSC: $2.36 million. The DSCC continues to enjoy a $10 million advantage in cash-on-hand minus debts. Meanwhile, the end of the third quarter of 2007 is this Sunday, so please contribute this week if you can.

  • Nebraska: Incompetent NRSC Chair John Ensign may have just guaranteed that the Republican Senate primary will be nasty, divisive, and rife with bad blood. Ensign has been pressuring GOP leaders in Nebraska to clear the field for Mike Johanns. Suffice it to say, Jon Bruning and Hal Daub appear absolutely livid. Heckuva job, Ensign. Also, Bruning has already begun sending barbs Johanns' way on immigration. (As a side note, look at the difference between the NE-GOP and the NH-Dems for a study in Party unity.)

  • Alaska: Republican Gov. Sarah Palin, possibly the most popular public official in the state, is urging scandal maven Ted Stevens to break his silence and comment on his numerous investigations to provide Alaskans with a "more thorough explanation." The pressure on Stevens keeps building.

  • New Jersey: Political analyst Stu Rothenberg declares that "Republicans [have] no reason for even a shred of optimism" in a campaign against Senator Frank Lautenberg.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling breaks down its poll numbers in a Grier Martin vs. Elizabeth Dole match-up, finding that increased name recognition across the state for Martin would help cement broader support among Democrats and African-Americans. Whether or not Martin could defeat Dole in a Senate race could likely come down to how effectively Martin communicates his impressive background to North Carolina voters.

  • Michigan: The 2008 Senate race in Michigan could very well be a repeat of 2002. '02 GOP nominee Rocky Raczkowski is considering giving it another go. Also, GOP state rep. Jack Hoogendyk is considering a challenge to Senator Carl Levin. The political mood in 2002 favored Republicans even more than the 2008 political mood is shaping up to favor Democrats. Nevertheless, Levin crushed Raczkowski 61-38 in '02.

  • Montana: Well, this is curious. Disgraced Republican Senate candidate Mike Lange is criticizing Senator Max Baucus for his original 2002 vote to authorize George W. Bush to use military force against Iraq. Of course, Baucus has since called Bush's Iraq War "a mistake based on false pretenses and faulty information." But this is an interesting dynamic: a right-winger trying to run to the left of a centrist in a traditionally red state that's shifting to purple. More likely, Lange is just trying to deflate enthusiasm for Baucus among MT-Dems.

  • As bad as the NRSC is doing compared to the DSCC in fundraising and recruiting, at least the GOP can take heart in the fact that John Ensign and Mitch McConnell aren't publicly at each others' throats with resignation threats like House GOP Leader John Boehner and NRCC Chair Tom Cole are. Congressional Republicans are an odd bunch.

  • Let's get Dubya out there on the campaign trail!

  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Sunday Rundown

  • Oregon: When Gordon Smith isn't trying to rhetorically dance around Iraq, he runs a frozen food company, Smith Frozen Foods. Well, Smith Frozen Foods was recently fined for dumping wastewater into a nearby creek, marking "at least the third time since the early 1990s that the company has been fined for polluting Pine Creek." As Loaded Orygun's Torrid Joe notes, "As spills go, this sounds neither massive nor especially toxic--but there's no such thing as a good waste dumping violation. And being the third such violation, however minor, it suggests a less-than-dilligent attention span to protecting their nearby waterway." Smith's company's shady environmental record has been a campaign issue going back to Smith's first Senate run. And I expect it will come up again this time around. It brings new meaning to the phrase, "Dump Gordon Smith."

  • North Carolina: Activate your conflict-of-interest alarms. The top political reporter from the News & Observer, Rob Christensen, has gone to work for Elizabeth Dole's re-election campaign. Blue NC breaks down some Christensen's most recent "reporting" on Dole's re-election campaign.

  • Nebraska: How Jon Bruning runs the state Attorney General's office could be an indication of how he'll run a Senate office. And what does he do when a miscommunication in his office leads to constituent confusion? Bruning blames the intern. I'm not joking.

  • Texas: John Cornyn threw a hissy-fit when name-called General Petraeus "General Betray Us" in a newspaper ad to the degree that he filed a Senate resolution condemning the ad, calling the ad "character assassination of the first order." Well, it turns out that conservative noise-machine Rush Limbaugh not too long ago called decorated war veteran and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel "Sentor Betray Us." I won't hold my breath waiting for Cornyn's resolution condemning Limbaugh. Why? Because John Cornyn is a grandstanding hypocrite.

  • Georgia: Rasmussen Reports clocks Spineless Saxby Chambliss' approve-disapprove at 58-30. It's possible that some of the 58% approval might not be rock solid as he only matches up against Dale Cardwell 49-33. While I'm not rushing to make bets that Chambliss will lose in 2008, as much as I would love to see that happen, it shows that he could be vulnerable to a strong challenger (Read: please reconsider, Senator Cleland! Please!).

  • Mississippi: Best-selling author and former State Representative John Grisham has been on the record slamming the Bush administration. While I'm sure that Grisham has never been shy about his convictions, this rhetoric seems particularly pointed. Could Grisham be interested in returning to elective politics? Could somebody beg him to consider a Senate challenge to Thad Cochran if they see him in the near future?

  • Louisiana: David Vitter earmarked $100,000 for a religious group that challenges teaching evolution in public schools. I wonder what this religious group's position is on cheating on one's wife with prostitutes.

  • Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Saturday Briefs

  • CNN's "Duh" Headline of the Day: "Numbers give Democrats edge in 2008 Senate races" Ummm, no kidding, CNN. At least the article makes the following accurate observation: "As of now, only one Democrat -- Mary Landrieu of Louisiana -- appears to face a major fight."

  • Nebraska: Expect Jon Bruning to get very nasty against Mike Johanns in the 2008 Republican Senate primary. Very nasty.

  • New Hampshire: Odds are, if Sprintin' John Sununu is talking about Iraq, he is probably lying about his record.

  • Idaho: I get the feeling that Larry Craig wants to stick it out as long as he possibly can. Let's hope his court date on Wednesday goes well.

  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer's internal polling says that he is only two points behind Congressman Mark Udall if a Green Party candidate gets seven points. (Keep in mind that in neither the 2006 CO-Gov race nor the 2004 CO-Sen race did a third party candidate exceed 1% and even Ralph Nader only scored 5% in Colorado in his 2000 Presidential run and only 1% in his 2004 bid.) Schaffer continues to embarrass himself. That could be why Schaffer's Republican primary opposition, County Commissioner Wayne Wolf, continues to score positive local press.

  • A Nobel Prize-winning economist calculated that Bush's Iraq War is costing us $500,000 per minute.

  • Friday, September 21, 2007

    Friday Round-Up

  • WaPo's Cillizza's latest monthly Senate Line is up, and the events of recent weeks have certainly jumbled the order of the Line a bit. With the entries of popular former Governors Mark Warner (VA) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Virginia and New Hampshire appear locked at 1 & 2 for quite some time. Alaska also shifts up from 10 to 9 as Ted Stevens gets deeper into hot water. And, with Tim Johnson's return to duty, South Dakota drops to the 10-spot. The question now is how long will it be before South Dakota slips off the list entirely, in favor of Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Texas.

  • The Economist offers its thoughts on the 2008 Senate races:

    The Republicans are lagging badly in the race to raise money and recruit candidates. ...

    And that is before you start to factor in the sex and ethics scandals. ...

    The Democrats' already sunny prospects have brightened still further with a trio of retirements ...

    The Democrats have also succeeded in recruiting prominent candidates to take on Republican incumbents.
    Sounds about right to me.

  • Nebraska: Looks like Mike Johanns is no friend of farmers:

    Mike Johanns, a man who has called the new farm bill a bull’s-eye on farmers’ backs, could have a hard time winning over Nebraska farmers if he decides to run for Congress. ...

    But during his tenure as Agriculture secretary, Johanns has had to tout the White House’s pro-trade stance on farm policy, one that would require significant cuts to subsidies.

    Johanns will have to distance himself from the administration to get the rural vote next year, said Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs.

    “He has advocated aggressively for cutting trade-distorting farm payments to facilitate a new trade agreement,” Hassebrook said. “That will cause some concern among farm voters — especially the farmers who are swing voters.” ...

    Nebraska’s Democratic Senator Ben Nelson said Johanns will have to explain why he has opposed a permanent disaster fund to help farmers who lose crops to flood, fire and drought — something very important to the state’s constituents.
    Along with irresponsibly ditching his Agriculture Secretary role before the farm bill was complete, Johanns certainly will have a lot to answer for to Nebraska's farmers. Meanwhile, NYTimes blogger Jeff Zeleny says that former Senator Bob Kerrey is leaning against a 2008 Senate run, and that we should know by the end of next week or even as soon as later today.

  • Maine: Atrios reminds us how disingenuous on Iraq Susan Collins is, as back in March she called for "significant results" by Fall. Well, Fall is here on Sunday. So where are the significant results? (Oh, and baseless claims of progress by the Bush administration don't qualify as "results.") Further, Collins Watch comes through with yet another astute observation about Susan Collins:

    Over at Susan's blog the junior senator recaps what she calls a "busy week in Washington." And indeed it was.

    And yet somehow, her 545 word post manages to skip both the failure of the Webb amendment and her unconscionable--and much-discussed--vote against restoring habeas corpus.

    I wonder why she'd skip right over the week's two most important events...
    Yeah, I wonder why Collins wouldn't highlight her votes against more rest for the troops and restoring habeas corpus.

  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer's Republican primary opposition, County Commissioner Wayne Wolf, is hustling and making the rounds. Maybe Schaffer's GOP nomination isn't quite the forgone conclusion.

  • New Hampshire: Katrina Swett is leaving the Senate race today and backing popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen.

  • Kos reminds us that George Macaca Allen, Corrupt Conrad Burns, Rick Santorum, and Jim Talent were all on the League of Conservation Voters' Dirty Dozen list last year, and all were knocked out of office last year. Can't wait for their next list!

  • Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Stevens Stung and Other News

  • Alaska: Greatest. News Teaser. Ever.

    (I've already watched that video six times, and it just keeps getting better!) The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI got corrupt Alaska businessman Bill Allen to tape conversations with Ted Stevens after they confronted Allen with evidence regarding Allen's bribing elected officials. The FBI wouldn't just give Stevens a public heads up to be more discrete in his phone conversations; as such, I imagine that the FBI would only let this news out as a precursor to an indictment or some other significant action. I very much look forward to developments in the coming days. (HT: TPM)

  • Kentucky: DMKY's Sonka remembers back six months ago when Mitch McConnell was giving Iraqis their "last chance" to "save their country." I think McConnell will have as many last chances for the Iraqis as George W. Bush wants him to have. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, George W. Bush, and Bush's Iraq War grow more and more unpopular to Kentuckians as time goes on.

  • Nebraska: A friend of NNN founder Kyle Michaelis made the following observation about Republican Mike Johanns' ability to see a job through to completion:

    Let me see if I got this right.

    He was a Councilman, but resigned to become Mayor
    He was a Mayor, but resigned to become Governor
    He was a Governor, but resigned to become Sec of Ag
    He was a Sec of Ag, but resigned to become...

    Does anyone else see a pattern?
    It's one thing for it to happen once, maybe twice, as a politician moves from role to role. But to quit four jobs midway through demonstrates a pretty unsettling pattern of unreliability. In fact, here's the catch phrase for the 2008 Nebraska Senate race: "Bob Kerrey: An Independent Voice; Mike Johanns: An Undependable Void" (that is, if Kerrey gets in and Johanns emerges from the crowded Republican primary).

  • New Hampshire: With Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand having withdrawn from the race in support of popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, and Katrina Swett expected to withdraw tomorrow, Shaheen's only primary competition is professor/former astronaut Jay Buckey. Buckey says he isn't withdrawing, but his inability to raise funds may hamper his bid:

    Shaheen still faces one Democratic candidate for her party’s nomination, former astronaut and Darmouth College medical professor Jay Buckey, but he reported raising just $22,000 through June, according to the Federal Election Commission. Sununu reported more than $2 million on hand.
    Granted, Buckey was a later entry than Marchand or Swett, but Shaheen should be able to easily raise $1 million or more per quarter. (She did raise almost $6 million for her 2002 Senate bid.) No doubt she's on the phones going through her donor lists from her previous Senate and Gubernatorial campaigns. If Buckey can't demonstrate a more robust fundraising pace during the next few months, his candidacy may not be sustainable.

  • North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole has, at best, an awkward grasp of local issues. That may be due to the fact that she spends little time in the state she claims to represent.

    UPDATE (10:15pm): Anchorage Daily News reports:

    A construction worker who oversaw renovation of Sen. Ted Stevens' home said his company also paid him to help run fundraisers for the Alaska Republican, a practice that appears to violate federal campaign finance laws. ...

    Unlike other Veco employees, [contractor Robert] Williams did not itemize his time sheets with job codes so customers could be billed. When working on one of Allen's pet projects, Williams just logged his hours and Veco made sure he was paid.
    The ticking clock is deafening.

  • Thursday Rundown

  • Senator Jim Webb's amendment to insure more rest for our troops fighting in Iraq in Afghanistan came to a vote of 56 yeas and only 44 nays. So, of course, it failed because Republicans blocked it with their obstructionist tactics requiring 60 votes to pass. Once again, Republican Senators screw over the troops. Amongst those screwing over the troops were: Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, John Cornyn, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, and Ted Stevens.

  • Nebraska: I have been thinking a lot about the NRSC's plans to offer a sleazy attack against former Senator Bob Kerrey for having worked out-of-state running a university for the last few years, even though Mike Johanns also left Nebraska, and ditched his gubernatorial office midway through his term, to serve as George W. Bush's Secretary of Agriculture. But Johanns was called on by his President to serve, one might say. But if the call to service is so strong and so noble, why is he now ditching that service only a little more than a year before Bush's term expires? It's not like Nebraska will stop having Senate races. But it's not just that Johanns is ditching his service as Agriculture Secretary - he's also leaving very high priorities dangling in midair:

    “Just to take a walk in the middle of a farm bill that only happens once every five years, it borders on irresponsible,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told reporters Wednesday. He said Johanns should stay at his post until work concludes on a 2007 farm bill that was approved in the House but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

    “I do think that as the head of the Department of Agriculture, the most responsible thing for him would be to stay with it until we’ve got it across the finish line,” said Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), who like Conrad is a member of the Agriculture Committee. The current farm bill expires at the end of this month. ...

    “It’s always helpful that if you sign on for a job, that you complete the job,” said [former Rep. Charles] Stenholm, who is now a lobbyist on agriculture issues. “If you punt in the third quarter, that can hurt you.”
    That's not partisan leaders Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid calling Johanns "irresponsible" - it's Kent Conrad, as moderate and non-partisan-minded a Senator as you can find. Also, Ben Nelson has demonstrated that he will come out swinging against Johanns:

    Mike Johanns appears ready to “quit his job while farmers and ranchers need him most” so he can pursue political office, Sen. Ben Nelson said in launching the initial artillery barrage.

    “This is a critical juncture for agriculture with the new farm bill not completed,” the Democratic senator said.

    “This is a tough time for farmers and ranchers, and they shouldn’t take a back seat to elections and politics.”
    The current farm bill expires in just one month, and the Secretary of Agriculture resigns to pursue another ambition. It doesn't speak too highly of the call to service that led Johanns to quit his gubernatorial service in the middle of a term to go serve as Bush's Agriculture Secretary. If the call to service was so high, he'd at least see the farm bill through to completion. It's not like Johanns couldn't resign afterward and then campaign for office.

  • New Mexico: Expect another round of bad press for Pajamas Pete Domenici:

    The US Senate Select Committee on Ethics has stepped up its probe of Pete Domenici, the Republican senator from New Mexico, who allegedly pressured David Iglesias, the former US attorney in that state, to return an indictment against a local Democratic official who was the target of a corruption investigation prior to the 2006 midterm elections. ...

    According to some senior staffers working for lawmakers who sit on the Ethics Committee, the six-month preliminary investigation into Domenici has turned up enough evidence to open a formal, public investigation into the New Mexico senator, having determined that Domenici acted inappropriately and that he may have violated Senate Ethics rules when he called [former U.S. Attorney David] Iglesias to ask whether [former state senator Manny] Aragon would be indicted before the state's voters went to the polls last year.
    It's about time. Now if the Senate Ethics Committee could only get to that giant pile of files on Ted Stevens.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling has released its latest data (FYI: in PDF format). In a match-up with no additional information, Elizabeth Dole beats State Representative Grier Martin 45-30 (Dole still can't get to 50% in any poll!), but when just a brief, four-sentence description of Martin is given, Martin beats Dole 47-40. Imagine if Grier Martin were to enter the race and offer voters more than just four sentences! Further, the PPP results found that Dole's approve-disapprove stands at 45-40 and that former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith even matches up well against Dole, starting out down only 41-35. Dole's vulnerability and Martin's potential are both clearly demonstrated.

  • Georgia: An Insider Advantage poll puts Saxby Chambliss' approve-disapprove at a shocking 39-29. While I still think Chambliss may be the second safest Republican up in 2008, after Mike Enzi, it does warm my heart a little to see the despicable Chambliss under 40%.

  • Maine: We remember from yesterday that Olympia Snowe voted in favor of restoring habeas corpus rights while Susan Collins opted to spit on the Constitution, the rule of law, and due process. Well, Collins seems pretty miffed at Snowe for not giving her a heads up that Snowe wouldn't be provding Collins with much-needed political cover. Seriously, how cowardly is Susan Collins?! "Susan Collins" truly is the polar opposite of "leadership." Meanwhile, Collins Watch makes some terrific observations on Bangor Daily News' double-standard when reporting on Collins versus reporting on Congressman Tom Allen.

  • South Dakota: Is ultra-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds under investigation? That would probably keep him from running for Senate, not that he's publicly shown any interest as of yet.

  • New Hampshire: Katrina Swett is expected to withdraw from the 2008 Senate race tomorrow and endorse popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. With about a million dollars in her campaign account, it would be quite the show of goodwill for Swett to make a sizable contribution to the DSCC to help Senate candidates around the country.

  • Texas: Baseline numbers are out for the TX-Sen race. According to Rasmussen Reports, John Cornyn leads State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega 53-30 and leads attorney Mikal Watts 52-28. Not a bad starting point with Cornyn just a bit over 50% and with two guys that a vast majority of Texans probably have never heard of before at about 30%. Meanwhile, Cornyn introduced a Senate resolution criticizing for name-calling. Great use of Senate time and resources. Cornyn still hasn't called for the resignation of CENTCOM Chief Admiral William Fallon for doing the same thing. Cornyn's political grandstanding also rings hollow as he and most Republicans voted against an amendment to the resolution condemning all attacks on military figures. I guess Republicans want to retain that right in the future, should it politically benefit them. Hypocrites.

  • Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Wednesday Round-Up

  • Although a majority of Senators support restoring habeas corpus rights, Republican obstructionism won out as the majority of Senators couldn't cross the 60-vote threshold to overcome the Republican filibuster. Among those voting against habeas corpus rights were: Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, Mike Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, and Ted Stevens. These Republicans spat on the Constitution, the rule of law, and the right to due process. (The most notable name on the list, to me, is Susan Collins. It's just another example of how much further to the right Collins is compared to Olympia Snowe. Also, blue-stater Norm Coleman won't escape scrutiny for this vote.)

  • Nebraska: Former Gov. Mike Johanns is resigning his post as Secretary of Agriculture to join the crowded 2008 Republican Senate primary that also features state Attorney General Jon Bruning, former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub, and businessman Pat Flynn, and could soon include businessman Tony Raimondo. Meanwhile, in anticipation of former Senator Bob Kerrey's potential entry into the race, the NRSC has already begun preparing a sleazy attack website. The NRSC musn't think too highly of those who work in the educational field because they will ostensibly be attacking the former Nebraska Governor and Senator for spending a few years out of state running the New School University in New York. It's coincidental that Republicans would focus on Kerrey's address, as a passage in the Lincoln Journal Star today stood out for me:

    Johanns and his wife, Stephanie, went house-hunting over the weekend when he was in Lincoln to attend a Saturday event at which he was honored by the Nebraska Republican Party.
    I suppose Johanns did not keep a residence in Nebraska while he worked in Washington D.C. as Secretary of Agriculture. I certainly won't slam Johanns for leaving the state for a while to engage in public service elsewhere - it's perfectly legitimate and defensible - but I would argue that Kerrey's situation isn't much different. If the NRSC wants to make a sleazy attack out of Kerrey's out-of-state job working at a college, they ought to be prepared to discuss Johanns' own "house-hunting."

  • Maine: The Bangor Daily News gets half-credit for their article on Susan Collins breaking her own term-limits pledge, while other Republican Senators who made similar pledges at the same time Collins did, including Colorado's Wayne Allard and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, are honoring their pledges. Why only half credit? Because the headline reads: "Democrats say Collins broke two-term pledge." This isn't a political attack that Democrats are waging. It is a fact. Susan Collins made a two-term pledge to the voters of Maine and now she is breaking it. It's not a matter of conjecture. It would be nice if the Bangor Daily News appropriately reported this as fact, not simply as a Democratic line. Collins Watch shares my frustration. What is doubly frustrating is that, while Collins has been accused of using Senate resources and personnel for political campaign purposes, Collins flaunts it by having this political campaign question responded to not by a campaign official but by her taxpayer-funded Senate spokeswoman [emphasis added by me]:

    "This attack is a sign that despite all the money raised and spent more than a year before the election, the Allen campaign is floundering," Collins spokeswoman Jen Burita said.
    Ms. Burita is not on Collins' campaign staff; she is on Collins' Senate staff. So why is she fielding political campaign questions? Further, Jen, this isn't an "attack." Collins made a promise to voters and is now happily breaking her promise. And we wonder why voters are cynical.

  • Idaho & Louisiana: Larry Craig made his return to his Senate duties in Washington D.C. this week for the first time since his scandal broke. Headlines included: "GOP Supporters Are Hard to Find on Craig's List" and "Craig shunned on return to Senate." Quite a stark contrast from the "thunderous applause" David Vitter received when he made his return to the Senate Republican cloakroom following his scandal. Why the different reactions do you think? Hmmmm...

  • Idaho: Speaking of Idaho, GOP Gov. Butch Otter has interviewed "about 19 people," mostly by telephone, for the Senate appointment, should scandal-embattled Larry Craig resign at the end of the month as planned. Otter has met in person with Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and state AG Lawrence Wasden. Otter has not announced a date by which he expects to have a decision made. Otter, however, has ruled out naming a place-holder, instead intending to name an appointee who will run for Senate next year, citing the need to build up seniority. With Otter wanting to build up seniority, it may give a leg up to the 49-year-old Wasden over the 64-year-old Risch.

  • New Hampshire: has officially launched! Meanwhile, even Sununu's Republican predecessor, former Senator Bob Smith, says popular former Governor and current Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen "is in a strong position to be the next senator from New Hampshire."

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling catches Elizabeth Dole further embarrassing herself over her hilariously questionable poll numbers.

  • Tennessee: Former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell will be teaching next Spring, i.e. not running for Senate. Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter remains the most likely Democrat. (HT: KnoxViews)

  • Open Thread - 9/19/07

    The Guru will be travelling today and won't be able to put up a daily round-up until later in the day, so treat this as an open thread. What races are you following? What big news stories are breaking? Does Grandpa Fred Thompson actually want to drill for oil in the Everglades? Maybe Grandpa Fred is just having a hard time keeping track of current events. Are you celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day? Let me hear you!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Democrats in Wyoming (Re-post from 6/11/07)

    [This was originally posted just over three months ago on June 11. As Wyoming remains one of the few states left without even rumored Democratic opposition to a Republican incumbent, I thought it was worthwhile to re-post. If you live in Wyoming, check with your state Democratic Party to see if State Senator Mike Massie, former Gubernatorial candidate Paul Hickey, or former Governor and Ambassador Mike Sullivan might be interested in a run against Senate appointee John Barrasso, or whichever Republican wins the special election next year.]

  • Wyoming: While Wyoming is one of the last states to come to mind when discussing Blue America, it is not impossible for a Democrat to win statewide there.

    In 2006, Dave Freudenthal won re-election to the Governor's office with 70% of the vote and enjoys an approval rating approaching 80%. Also in 2006, businessman Gary Trauner came within about 1,000 votes of unseating at-large GOP Rep. Barbara Cubin.

    As such, when considering potential Senate candidates in Wyoming, Freudenthal and Trauner are the top two names that spring to mind. However, while not ruling out a bid, Freudenthal has shown little interest. Also, indications suggest that Trauner is more likely to opt for a rematch against Cubin for the at-large House seat than aim for a Senate bid. Certainly, this could change with the second Wyoming seat up in 2008 to be held by a placeholder as a result of the passing of Senator Craig Thomas.

    But, much to my surprise, there are more than two Democrats in Wyoming. The Hill reports:

    Former House candidate Gary Trauner, state Sen. Mike Massie and former gubernatorial candidate Paul Hickey are talking with fellow Democrats about the seat, which became open when Sen. Craig Thomas (R) died last week.

    Massie, a 12-year member of the state legislature and minority caucus chairman from Laramie, Friday told The Hill that while discussions are preliminary, the opportunity appears to be as good as it has been in years. ...

    Hickey is an attorney who took 37 percent of the vote in a 2002 primary against Freudenthal. His father, Joseph Hickey, was elected governor in 1958 and appointed to the Senate in 1961. He went on to lose in the 1962 Senate election.

    Hickey did not return several calls to his law firm last week, but a Democratic source familiar with Wyoming politics said he is having conversations about a bid.
    Yet another Democrat whose name has come up in conversation is two-term former Governor Mike Sullivan (1987-1995) who lost to then-Rep. Craig Thomas in the 1994 Wyoming Senate race and was later appointed Ambassador to Ireland.

    Even with a few viable options, the question remains as to who is actually interested in moving forward with a bid. And then the question arises as to whether to compete for both seats or just focus on (and put resources into) the open seat, essentially giving Republican Senator Mike Enzi a pass. Enzi enjoys a strong approval rating, but not as strong as Freudenthal's. If Freudenthal was interested, he would likely be the clear frontrunner in a race for the open seat - but he is also likely the only Democrat who could offer a competitive race against Enzi. Could we see a Freudenthal-Enzi battle with another Democrat taking on a GOP understudy for the open seat?

    At any rate, it is reassuring to know that there are viable Democratic potential candidates in Wyoming. I trust that, once a replacement is appointed to fill the seat held by Thomas, the Wyoming media will begin contacting these Democrats to gauge interest and discern how these races might shake out.

  • Tuesday Briefs

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its list of "The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Of the 22, four are Senators; all four are Republicans: Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, and Ted Stevens. Further, there is a two-person honorable mention section, consisting of Republicans Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter. They really make you proud, don't they?

  • Kentucky: The Lexington Herald-Leader released new poll numbers on Mitch McConnell, including a sub-50% approve-disapprove of 47-44 and a stark 38-55 approve-disapprove regarding McConnell's position on Iraq. Also found is a gaping George W. Bush approve-disapprove of 37-61, and only 32% of Kentuckians saying the war was worth it compared with 57% who feel Bush's Iraq War "wasn't worth the loss of life and expense." So, when Mitch McConnell goes on national television and falsely claims that his constituents "overwhelmingly" support Bush's Iraq War, you know he's lying.

  • Alaska: Regarding Ted Stevens' web of corruption, David Kurtz muses, "But it's not every day that a witness admits in open court to having bribed a sitting U.S. Senator, which is exactly what happened last Friday... It's not airport bathroom sex so there has been muted national media coverage of the Stevens revelation..." It would be unexpectedly dutiful for the national media to maybe make a bigger deal out of a corrupt businessman admitting that he bribed a sitting Senator who is unwilling to comment. But, hey, maybe my expectations are too high.

  • New Hampshire: A couple of tighter polls are out on the New Hampshire Senate race, explained by Republican support for Sprintin' John Sununu up to 80% from 61% in June. It is awfully mean of these polls to tease Sununu like that and make him think he has a shot. Even the conservative bloggers at Redstate say of NH-Sen, "The race is over."

  • Monday, September 17, 2007

    Monday Rundown

  • Happy Constitution Day! Are you looking for ways to celebrate?

  • New Hampshire: Popular former Governor and current Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen is addressing Iraq right off the bat. She supported the war at its onset believing, like most Americans, George W. Bush's fraudulent claims. Her support evaporated as soon as the premise for entering the war proved false and Bush demonstrated ineffective conduct on the war. Shaheen called for setting a troop withdrawal deadline, as well as highlighting other platform points that will draw distinctions between her and Sprintin' John Sununu:

    In her first public remarks about the run, Shaheen called for setting a date to remove troops from Iraq and for fiscal discipline at the federal level, an end to "runaway spending and borrowing money from China and India and the giveaways to every special interest under the sun."

    She also hit two issues that will allow her to draw particular distinctions with Sununu: stem cell research and global warming. Sununu has repeatedly voted against federal funding for expanded research on embryonic stem cells, an issue that is one vote shy of a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

    "We want to return to the simple notion that science matters more than ideology so we can invest in stem cell research and fight global warming," Shaheen said.
    Shaheen will have no shortage of issues on which Sununu votes against mainstream New Hampshire values to discuss.

  • Maine: In the many years since Bush's Iraq War began, Susan Collins has never been so clear as Tom Allen is in this forceful op-ed in the Portland Press Herald. Collins' hallmark is trying to make her position falsely sound as much like Olympia Snowe's as possible while not rocking the conservative boat.

  • Nebraska: If this Bob Novak blurb is true, we should expect former Senator Bob Kerrey to enter the race:

    Before Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska announced his Senate retirement, former Sen. Bob Kerrey -- president of the New School in New York City -- confided his intentions to a political friend. If maverick Republican Hagel sought a third Senate term, maverick Democrat Kerrey would support him -- whether Hagel switched to the Democrats or stayed in the GOP. If Hagel didn't run, Kerrey would return to Nebraska to run for the Senate.
    Any day now.

  • Virginia: We'll wait for the exact numbers to be released, but the most recent Senate poll looks very good for popular former Governor Mark Warner. Landslide good. (Inside word is Warner-Gilmore 60-32; Warner-Allen 56-37; Warner-Davis 62-27.) Meanwhile, the Washington Times declares that former Gov. Jim Gilmore is "likely to struggle" in a region of the state growing by 90,000 people each year.

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling also thinks Elizabeth Dole is "in fantasy land" for her laughable internal polling results. PPP notes that Dole's approval has steadily "hovered in the 40-50% range."

  • Nebraska: Former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub is officially in the 2008 Republican Senate primary. The more, the merrier!

  • Real Clear Politics is the most recent to recount Senate Republicans' 2008 electoral woes:

    "It's going to be a very challenging year" for Republicans, admitted a GOP consultant involved in one Senate race.
    Where do all these anonymous Republican consultants come from? There seems to be a lot of them.

  • Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Sunday Round-Up

  • Oregon: A week ago, one of the "Democrats for Gordon Smith" was on record heaping praise on Democratic Senate candidate Speaker Jeff Merkley. Then it was reported that the official, State Representative Debbie Boone, had officially withdrawn her support for Smith altogether. I guess Gordo got the message. See if you can spot the difference in the two images to the right, the top one being from over a week ago and the bottom one being from this morning. I doubt Boone's name will be the last one removed from that inauspicious list.

  • New Hampshire: How uniform is discontent with Sprintin' John Sununu? So much so that the Portsmouth Herald declares that popular former Governor Jeanne "Shaheen's Senate bid is good news" and that her campaign announcement "is a welcome one for Granite State residents."

  • Maine & New Mexico: Despite any attempt to feign otherwise, Susan Collins and Pete Domenici are solidly with George W. Bush when it comes to Iraq. Their reactions to Bush's Iraq speech this week:

    Senators Susan Collins, of Maine, and Pete Domenici, of New Mexico - both Republicans facing tough re-election battles in Democratic-leaning states - were among those indicating that they had been swayed.
    There goes any illusion of Collins or Domenici being independent voices for Maine and New Mexico, respectively. Meanwhile, Open Left's Stoller offers more speculation regarding a possible retirement from Domenici.

  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman's big concession on Iraq: he'd "like to see troop levels cut in half within three years." He's content to have American troops there until 2010 before levels are cut in half, much less fully withdrawn.

  • Nebraska: The NE-GOP is gushing over Mike Johanns. Anybody think that he won't get in the race? And how does Senate candidate Jon Bruning feel about the NE-GOP naming their state headquarters "the Mike and Stephanie Johanns Republican Center"?

  • Tennessee: Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter is expected to enter the 2008 Senate race "in the next couple of weeks."

  • North Carolina: Want to know a reason why Elizabeth Dole will lose in 2008:

    Their own poll, taken last week, shows Dole with a job approval rating of 64 percent and a disapproval rating of 23 percent.
    Dole is delusional. Last November, Survey USA put Dole's approve-disapprove at 52-40, and, last month, Public Policy Polling put Dole's approve-disapprove at a similar 48-41. I encourage Dole to go on embarrassing herself thinking that her approval is a laughable 64-23. Get very comfortable with that, Liddy.

  • Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Saturday Items

  • The Politico is musing about the prospect of a 60-seat filibuster-proof Senate majority for Democrats in 2010. I see it as very likely.

  • Why is it valuable to have a strong majority for Senate Democrats? To be blunt, they enact good policy. For instance, Senate Democrats just got their ethics reform package signed into law. Senate Democrats are in favor of strong ethical standards. Are Senate Republicans? Ask Ted Stevens or David Vitter what they think. (You'll probably get a "no comment.")

  • Is the NRSC up a creek without a paddle? I happen to think so.

  • New Hampshire: As expected, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand has withdrawn from the 2008 Senate race and endorsed popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. It has the benefit of being simultaneously the classy move and the politically smart move for Marchand. He ran a thoughtful, positive campaign; and, Republican Judd Gregg is up for re-election in 2010. As such, I hope Marchand doesn't surrender Senatorial aspirations. Meanwhile, the Nashua Telegraph almost-comically runs the understatement headline of the cycle so far: "Shaheen's bid could be trouble for Sununu" - y'think!?!

  • Alaska: The clock ticking on Ted Stevens' career is getting louder:

    Ex-Veco Corp. CEO Bill Allen admitted in court Friday that he had company employees work several months on a remodeling project at the Girdwood home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. ...

    Under cross-examination by defense attorney James Wendt, representing former state Rep. Pete Kott, Allen acknowledged that the more than $400,000 he admitted spending in the bribery charge was for other legislators - and for work done at the Girdwood home of Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate.
    Of course, Stevens has no comment. With this admission, I can't imagine how Stevens makes it to Christmas this year without being indicted for something. (Of course, if we need indictment charges sped up, I know a Senator who's happy to make a phone call.)

  • Virginia: Though some wonder if GOP Rep. Tom Davis will move forward with a Senate bid, having to fight former Gov. Jim Gilmore in a primary, only to then face popular former Governor Mark Warner, Davis assures supporters that "all systems are go" for an upcoming Senate bid.

  • South Dakota: Who thinks they can take down the Tim Johnson powerhouse? I can't wait for a formal re-election campaign kick-off.

  • Nebraska: The Omaha World-Herald is reporting that former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub will enter the 2008 Senate race on Monday morning. The OWH article notes that Daub has been criticized for being "too aggressive and divisive." Then I say, "Welcome to the primary!" (HT: NNN)

  • Louisiana: Cliff Schecter's GottaLaff offers choice quotes from David Vitter's mistress/prostitute. Amongst her revelations:

    Vitter would shower twice per visit, once before, once after, always being careful to use unscented soap to avoid accusations of smelling, well, not like the macho guy he is.

    He divulged to her that, during their 4 or so months together, he and his wife were trying to have children.
    Real class act, that Vitter. He still has yet to be fully honest with his constituents about the whole affair and his chronic patronage of prostitutes. Is it too much to ask that the Louisiana press maybe follow up with Vitter about it?

  • Fun fact: Former Senator Lincoln Chafee is no longer a member of the Republican Party.

  • Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan bashes George W. Bush as fiscally irresponsible. No duh.

  • Friday, September 14, 2007

    Friday Rundown

  • New Hampshire: Popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen will enter the 2008 Senate race:

    Shaheen issued a statement from the Harvard Institute of Politics, where she has served as director since 2005 and from which she has resigned. She will discuss her plans at her home in Madbury on Sunday afternoon.

    “I have stepped have down from my position at the Kennedy School of Government because we have major problems facing this country,” she said in the statement, “and there is an urgent need for real change in Washington.

    “We have proven in New Hampshire that we can work together to get things done. I want to take that common sense approach to Washington and help this country move in the right direction,” Shaheen said.
    This gives Democrats their second huge recruiting splash this week, following the entry into the Virginia Senate race of popular former Governor Mark Warner. A July poll by the University of New Hampshire had Shaheen beating John Sununu by 16 points, 54-38; and, a July poll by the Concord Monitor had Shaheen beating Sununu by an even wider 22 points, 56-34. Currently, three Democrats are officially in the race: Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, activist Katrina Swett, and former astronaut Jay Buckey. Buckey reiterated in a message to supporters that he will remain in the primary regardless of Shaheen's entry. The Hill reports that Swett is expected to remain in the race, while Marchand's plans could go either way based on recent comments.

  • Maine: Responding to Bush's Iraq speech, Susan Collins knows that her re-election cycle is up:

    "The whole premise of the surge, as the president advocated it in January, was to buy time for political reforms, and that didn't happen. To continue with the same strategy that failed to produce the results that the president and everyone hoped for just doesn't make sense."
    Susan, real leaders came to that conclusion a long time ago. Meanwhile, you have continued to enable Bush's Iraq War at every turn. Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe are actually working to bring an end to the war while you hide in the back of the room. Please send a message to Susan Collins by contributing to Tom Allen's Senate campaign.

  • Nebraska: An internal poll on a possible Republican Senate primary from the Bruning camp shows state Attorney General Jon Bruning 9 points behind former Governor Mike Johanns, 39-30. Bruning is touting this as evidence that Johanns isn't the heavyweight he is made out to be and that Bruning can run competitively in a primary against him. Fine by me. Let them bruise it out and soften each other up to face the Democrat. With Mark Warner and now Jeanne Shaheen jumping in, will former Senator Bob Kerrey be far behind?

  • Oregon: It is shaping up like independent candidate John Frohnmayer may play spoiler to Democrats more than Gordon Smith. First, he calls for George W. Bush's impeachment, then numbers come out:

    That assessment reflected the results of a survey released last month by Portland pollster Mike Riley. It found Frohnmayer had 7 percent support, with 10 percent coming from Democrats and 5 percent from Republicans.
    The call for Bush's impeachment sets off the conspiracy theorist in me that Frohnmayer is a GOP plant whose goal is to shave as much support from the Democrat as possible, helping Gordon Smith. But, yeah, just a conspiracy theory... for now!

  • South Dakota: Even conservative bloggers like Democrats' chances to retain South Dakota's Senate seat.

  • Virginia: Similarly, conservative bloggers are declaring Mark Warner "the next Senator from Virginia."

  • Looking at those comments about South Dakota and Virginia, I decided to take a look at conservative blog RedState's Senate Outlook. For Democratic incumbents, they declare Louisiana "Likely Competitive," South Dakota "Potentially Competitive," and the rest "Safe." No complaints. For Republican-held seats, they see Virginia and New Hampshire as "Gone," Colorado and Minnesota as "Competitive," Nebraska and Oregon as "Likely Competitive," Alaska, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina and New Mexico as "Potentially Competitive," and the rest as "Safe." Very sober outlook - sure there are a handful I think are more competitive than they give credit for, but not an unreasonable outlook for a conservative blog. RedState concludes with "In short, I think 47 Republican seats is the best we can hope for." I will say that, come the beginning of the 2009-2010 cycle, Republicans will hold fewer than 47 Senate seats.

  • Senate Democrats should see their ethics reform legislation become law in the next twenty-four hours, unless George W. Bush feels unexpectedly emboldened to veto the ethics reform package.