Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

  • In response to my persistent begging, you guys responded terrifically! Lieutenant Colonel and State Representative Rick Noriega is up to eight contributions and $375 on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. Thank you so much! Currently, on the EtM! page, Noriega has 8 contributions, State Senator Andrew Rice has 27 and former Congressman Larry LaRocco has 19. I really like numbers that end in zero, so we have a new goal: by the end of the week, let's get Rice to 30 contributions, LaRocco to 20, and Noriega to 10. That means we need 3 more contributions for Rice, 1 more for LaRocco, and 2 more for Noriega by the end of the week. I know you can do it. You guys are awesome. Any amount you can contribute, please help out if you can!

  • Alaska: Senate Democrats are aggressively courting Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to run for Senate in 2008 against Ted Stevens, who takes the expression "appearance of impropriety" to new heights. I'll sweeten the pot a little for Mayor Begich; as soon as he announces for Senate and has an ActBlue page up, he'll immediately join the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. What do you say, Mayor Begich? Meanwhile, the FBI investigation into Ted Stevens' earmarks has been expanded to an investigation into legislation Stevens filed as well.

  • Mississippi: Republican Thad Cochran will make an official announcement regarding his 2008 electoral plans following Mississippi's November 6 statewide elections. I'm still expecting him to run for re-election, for the time being anyway; but, yeah, $44,000 is a seemingly very low amount to have raised in Q3 if he was serious about re-election. If he does retire and popular Democratic former state Attorney General Mike Moore does enter the race, Mississippi will actually see a first tier competitive Senate race. Stay tuned - we should know in a couple weeks.

  • New Mexico: Despite the denials, could Bill Richardson still be considering a Senate run?

  • Minnesota: I don't know if we need to start sounding the dirty tricks alarm, but we ought to be on dirty tricks watch.

  • Georgia: Tondee's Tavern will be offering lengthy Q&A's with the Democratic Senate candidates looking to oust Spineless Saxby Chambliss. First up: businessman Josh Lanier. The best line:

    10. What is the single biggest difference between you and Saxby Chambliss on national security issues?

    He supports whatever George Bush does. I support our security, our troops and our Constitution.

  • South Carolina: Tim Carnes, a South Carolina Republican challenging Lindsey Graham to a primary, is now challenging Graham to a series of primary debates. I absolutely think Graham should debate Carnes. (And before you accuse me of simply trying to make partisan hay, I'll remind you that I suggested that Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry ought to debate his primary opponent "to promote the integrity of the democratic process.") What say you, Lindsey? Ready to fight for re-nomination? Graham also has a second announced primary opponent in the person of Republican Air Force veteran John Cina. Perhaps Mr. Cina would be interested in joining the call for debates.

  • Texas: Democratic former state Comptroller John Sharp puts to rest any rumors that he is considering a 2008 Senate bid. (HT: Stop Cornyn) Meanwhile, State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega sends this thank you to the netroots.

  • Colorado: Do we already have a 2010 GOP primary on our hands? Shortly after Tom Tancredo hinted that he'd consider a 2010 challenge to Senator Ken Salazar, conservative radio personality Dan Caplis says that he, too, is looking at a 2010 bid.

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Tuesday Briefs

  • Yesterday Lieutenant Colonel, State Representative, and Senate candidate Rick Noriega was added to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page and the Guru set a modest goal of six new contributions for Rick Noriega. I'm disappointed to say that we only got three contributions in. That makes the Guru very sad. So let's see if we can't get three more contributions this afternoon! Please contribute if you can. Every dollar goes toward dislodging John Cornyn from the U.S. Senate - that should be thanks enough!

  • North Carolina: State Senator Kay Hagan will enter the 2008 Senate race to unseat Elizabeth Dole, she announced today. Hopefully Hagan and Jim Neal will have a spirited, positive, issue-based primary where the only negative words will be for Dole's record (or lack thereof) and where they use the primary to raise their statewide name ID.

  • Maine: Tom Allen will have labor kicking butt for him with the MSEA-SEIU behind him and now with the Maine AFL-CIO having voted unanimously to back him.

  • New Mexico: Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez' own polling has him in a statistical dead heat with the ethically compromised and out-of-touch Republican Heather Wilson. (While it's Chavez' own polling that has him in a statistical dead heat, independent polling has Congressman Udall comfortably defeating all comers. Draft Tom Udall!)

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's ongoing lackluster poll numbers must have him worried. He's already buying TV ads more than a year before Election Day!

  • Idaho: Another difference between Democrat Larry LaRocco and Republican Jim Risch: LaRocco wants to expand Internet access to rural areas, understanding the web's potential as a tool for education and connectivity, while Risch simply doesn't get the Net.

  • South Dakota: Senator Tim Johnson has a fantastic re-election campaign staff.

  • Tennessee: Mike McWherter for Senate has a Facebook group up.

  • Louisiana: David Vitter finally settled his federal election law violations from his 2004 Senate race. Now if he could only take real responsibility for soliciting prostitutes over, what appears to be, a number of years.

  • California: Looking ahead to 2010, a new poll sees a statistical dead heat between Senator Barbara Boxer and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Colorado: Also looking ahead to 2010, Presidential candidate (I guess...) Tom Tancredo says that, should his Prez campaign not end victoriously, he'd consider a Senate challenge to Senator Ken Salazar.

  • Here's the latest reason to dislike the jerks who run Clear Channel.

  • Monday, October 29, 2007

    Monday Rundown

  • You may notice in the upper left hand corner of the website that we have a new addition to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page: State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega. Representative/Lt. Col. Noriega has ignited the grassroots and netroots and achieved broad support among the establishment. Noriega is a terrific candidate and understands the meaning of words like "duty" and "service." Further, incumbent Republican and Bush rubber stamp John Cornyn is extremely vulnerable. To recognize State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega's addition to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, I would love to see readers of the Guru's blog put up a half dozen contributions to Noriega today. Just six contributions - you can do it! Whether you can contribute $100 or $10, please contribute if you can! Many thanks!

  • Idaho: One notable difference between Democrat Larry LaRocco and Republican Jim Risch: LaRocco makes his own travel arrangements, while Risch has his corporate cronies fly him around in style.

  • New Mexico: Heather Wilson and Dick Cheney sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

  • New Jersey: The Star-Ledger calls Senator Frank Lautenberg a "key voice" on global warming legislation. (HT: Blue Jersey)

  • Louisiana: David Vitter reminds us that Johns of a feather flock together.

  • Four months ago today, I made seven predictions about the Senate races. Let's revisit those seven:

    1) John Warner, Larry Craig, and Chuck Hagel will all opt against running for re-election to the Senate in 2008.
    Check, check, and check.

    2) Thad Cochran will run for re-election.
    Looks like.

    3) Popular former Governors Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Warner will enter their states' respective Senate races and win.
    Check and check.

    4) At least four incumbent Republican Senators running for re-election will face primary opponents.
    We'll see how strong those primary opponents will be, but it's looking likely. (Go for it Larry Forgy, Joe Repya, and Bill Sizemore!)

    5) Assuming Tim Johnson opts for a re-election bid and his health remains stable, Democratic Senators will repeat their 2006 feat of holding every incumbent seat, yes including Mary Landrieu's.
    We'll know next year...

    6) Either Pete Domenici or Ted Stevens won't be a Senator after January 2009.
    With Pete Domenici's retirement, check.

    7) The DSCC will ouraise the NRSC in every quarter for the remainder of 2007.
    Remains to be seen, but looking good.

  • Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Sunday Quick Hits

  • New Mexico: The effort to draft Congressman Tom Udall into the 2008 Senate race gains earned media in The Washington Post. (Check out Draft Udall for yourself!)

  • Nebraska: The effort to draft Scott Kleeb into the 2008 Senate race gains earned media in the Lincoln Journal Star. (Check our Draft Scott Kleeb for yourself!)

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's biggest (and possibly only) electoral strength in 2008 is the big pile of money he has to spend. And he's going to need it as his likely Democratic competitors start only about 10 points behind him. The Lexington Herald-Leader commissioned a poll finding that McConnell's positive-negative stood at a dangerous 47-46. Also, he doesn't break 46% against any Democratic opponent, leading state Attorney General Greg Stumbo by 9 points, 46-37, and leading attorney & Iraq War veteran Andrew Horne by 11 points, 45-34. Congressman Ben Chandler, who may likely enter the 2010 Senate race for Jim Bunning's seat, trails McConnell by only 5 in the poll, 46-41; and, state Auditor Crit Luallen, who is rumored to be considering a 2008 Senate bid, also starts off only 5 points behind McConnell, 45-40.

    Any way you slice it, the poll indicates bad news for McConnell, especially if he has to whittle away some of his bankroll in a possible Republican primary. And for anybody that thinks McConnell's fundraising head start makes him too formidable, please note that in 2006, there were some very significant spending margins between losing Republican incumbents and winning Democratic challengers, including Conrad Burns nearly doubling Jon Tester's spending, Jim Talent more than doubling Claire McCaskill's spending, George Allen more than tripling Jim Webb's spending, and Rick Santorum outspending Bob Casey by over $10 million.

  • Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Saturday Items

  • The Cook Political Report has its October Senate Race Ratings up. On the Democratic side, it's no different from their August Senate Race Ratings, with Louisiana "lean dem," South Dakota "likely dem," and the rest "solid dem." On the Republican side, however, there has been much movement. Virginia has swung from "solid rep" to "likely dem" for obvious reasons. Colorado is joined in the "toss up" category by New Hampshire and New Mexico. And Nebraska moved from "solid rep" to "likely rep." The only good news for Republicans is that, due to recruitment setbacks, North Carolina moved from "likely rep" back to "solid rep."

  • North Carolina: Media outlets both national and local are saying that we can expect an announcement from State Senator Kay Hagan next week regarding a 2008 Senate challenge to Elizabeth Dole. If the rumors are true, we should expect that she'll enter the race. Just to tease the Guru, Rasmussen has another poll out with North Carolina's Democratic Governor Mike Easley beating Dole by 8 points in a hypothetical match-up, 50-42.

  • Kentucky: Not that anybody should be surprised, but Mitch McConnell is pushing for a $25 million earmark for a defense contractor who is under criminal investigation for bribery but happens to also be a big donor to McConnell. Shocked! Shocked! I know. DMKY has more.

  • Nebraska: An effort to draft Scott Kleeb into the 2008 Senate race is up and running.

  • Oregon: Gordon Smith's latest election-cycle conversion: immigration.

  • Virginia: GOP Rep. Tom Davis, of course, recently withdrew from consideration for the 2008 Senate race. You may not know that Davis' wife is a state senator in the Virginia state Legislature. Davis' wife is in a tough re-election battle and is resorting to some truly reprehensibly dirty campaign tactics to attack her Democratic opposition. Not Larry Sabato is covering all the sordid play-by-play. Anyway, if you can, contribute a few bucks to Chap Petersen, who is looking to help further dislodge the Davis family from state and federal politics.

  • Friday, October 26, 2007

    Friday Afternoon Round-Up

  • Alaska: Apparently Ted Stevens' own lawyer would categorize him as "pretty far up the creek." Good times.

  • Illinois: The Quad-City Times mentions that, in addition to political unknown Steve Sauerberg, 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate Andy Martin may join a 2008 Republican Senate primary. Martin got just over 6,000 votes in the '06 GOP-Gov primary, or about eight-tenths of one percent. The article makes no mention of my favorite Republican Illinois Senate candidate, trucker Mike Psak.

  • Georgia: Strategic Vision has polling out on Spineless Saxby Chambliss against the Democrats currently running. Against all announced Democrats, Chambliss scores in the mid-to-high 50s with all Democrats running in the mid-to-high 20s. Not a big shock, unfortunately, though Chambliss' approval barely squeaks over the 50% mark. However, just to keep me wishing and hoping, Insider Advantage polls a hypothetical Chambliss rematch against war hero and former Senator Max Cleland. Chambliss edges Cleland 36-24, with a whopping 40% undecided. I've said it before, but not a day goes by where I don't hope that Cleland reconsiders and enter the 2008 Senate race.

  • Friday Tidbits

  • Oklahoma: Does the Senate Ethics Committee have to open up an investigation to see if Jim Inhofe was doing the bidding of one of his biggest donors when he recently tried to sabotage open access legislation? I think so.

  • Idaho: Former Congressman and current Senate candidate Larry LaRocco is offering clear, decisive positions on Iraq. And what does Republican Jim Risch have to respond with?

    The almost-certain Republican candidate for the Senate seat, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, declined to respond to LaRocco’s statements. His son and press director, Jason Risch, said, “We’re not running against Larry LaRocco. Until there is a primary and nominations, we won’t be making any comments.”
    Ummm, Jim, forget about responding to Larry LaRocco. How about offering a comment on - what's that called? - Iraq. You know, you should have a position on it - it might come up during the campaign, and you might actually have to comment on it, even before the primary election, tedious as that might be for you.

  • North Carolina: Rumors suggest that we should plan on State Senator Kay Hagan entering the 2008 Senate race to unseat absentee Elizabeth Dole. Stay tuned.

  • Virginia: Want another reason why Mark Warner will trounce Jim Gilmore? Look at this quote by Gilmore's spokesman upon Tom Davis' withdrawal from consideration for a 2008 Senate bid (emphasis added by me):

    Dick Leggitt, a spokesman for Gilmore, praised Davis for his service to the people of the 11th District but said "it is apparent that the Republican Party prefers a candidate who contrasts with Mark Warner on the issues, instead of echoing Mark Warner's positions."
    Is it just me, or does that quote by the Gilmore spokesman seem awfully antagonistic toward Davis? Gilmore got what he wanted - a clear path to the nomination and an ostensibly united VA-GOP; and, still, his spokesman takes shots at his partisan brethren. Meanwhile, Davis is peeved with the state and national GOP, perhaps peeved enough that he'll retire and give his House seat to the Democrats.

  • Louisiana: Oy. The Economist declares that Republican Bobby Jindal's 54% gubernatorial victory is a harbinger of doom for Senator Mary Landrieu's re-election bid next year. The article, of course, does not mention that, in the same election in which Republican Bobby Jindal took 54%, Democrat (and Senatorial brother) Mitch Landrieu took 57% in his Lieutenant Gubernatorial re-election. I wonder if The Economist is even aware of this.

  • New Mexico: Regarding Martin Chavez' recent comments, ditto what James says.

  • Vote for who you think is the scariest Republican Senator.

  • Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Thursday Rundown

  • Virginia: Tom Davis makes it official that he will not run for Senate in 2008, meaning that the VA-GOP will be stuck with its failed conservative former Gov. Jim Gilmore as their likely nominee against popular former Governor Mark Warner.

  • North Carolina: Jim Neal starts his campaign to oust Elizabeth Dole with some crisp, sharp rhetoric. Perhaps Dole will get that competitive challenge after all.

  • Nebraska: Following Bob Kerrey's withdrawal from consideration, Mike Fahey and Scott Kleeb both indicate interest as well as a sense of obligations elsewhere. That said, Democrats could have a strong challenger or could have no one in this race.

  • New Mexico: Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has created a federal political action committee. Could it be a signal that she is looking harder at running for federal (Senate) rather than state (Governor) office?

  • Kansas: Just more speculation on Governor Kathleen Sebelius running for Senate... in 2010.

  • It's been five long years since we lost Paul Wellstone.

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Wednesday Items

  • Time Magazine offers its list of the "Top Ten '08 Senate Races to Watch" - nine of the ten are Republican-held seats.

  • Nebraska: Former Senator Bob Kerrey announced this morning that he will not run for the Senate in 2008 after all. At least we finally know. Paging Mayor Fahey!

  • Virginia: Everyone and their mother at this point are reporting that GOP Rep. Tom Davis won't run for Senate in 2008. He is scheduled to make an announcement tomorrow regarding his political plans. Hopefully he'll retire from the House, too, and open up that competitive seat. This would leave failed former Gov. Jim Gilmore with a direct shot at the GOP nomination, while the latest polling has him losing to popular former Governor Mark Warner in a general election by a mere thirty points.

  • Texas: With Mikal Watts' departure from the Senate primary, State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega will have the field to himself to get press and define himself and his campaign while building the bankroll to run competitively.

  • North Carolina: The first polling is out matching Democrat Jim Neal against absentee Republican Elizabeth Dole, with Public Policy Polling giving Dole a 47-32 edge. Given how little name ID Neal must have to start, a fifteen-point deficit is hardly a terrible starting point. And, again, Dole can't break 50% against anybody. PPP pegs Dole's approve-disapprove at a dismal 44-41. Meanwhile, rumor has it that State Senator Kay Hagan is reconsidering a bid and is in touch with national Democrats.

  • Montana: If Montana Republicans get more desperate, I suppose they can turn to this guy.

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Tuesday Tidbits

  • Alaska: The Alaska Democratic Party has unveiled the go-to website for information on Ted Stevens' numerous monumental ethical scandals, Bookmark it, send a link to your friends to help spread the word, and check it regularly.

  • Texas: Attorney Mikal Watts is ending his Senate bid citing understandable family time issues. While the article notes that there is two-and-a-half months until the filing deadline, it looks like Lieutenant Colonel and State Representative Rick Noriega will be the guy barring any surprises. Stay tuned.

  • Maine: Today we have the most recent revelation in a long string of Susan Collins inappropriately using taxpayer-funded Senate resources for political purposes. We knew that Collins' Senate staff used their Senate computers to update Collins' Wikipedia profile to appear more politically palatable. And we knew that Collins' taxpayer-funded Senate Chief of Staff has been quarterbacking her political battles with Maine Democrats. Today we find out that Susan Collins' Senate staff used Senate e-mail to communicate with the 2004 Bush-Cheney political campaign. This appears to be the latest clear violation of Senate ethics rules regarding the use of Senate resources for political purposes, and an appropriate ethics investigation should ensue to determine the breadth and depth of Susan Collins' violations.

  • New Mexico: Keep Draft Udall going!

  • South Carolina: Former SC-Dems Chair Joe Erwin will not run for the Senate in 2008, removing another name from an already-shallow bench. While Republican Lindsey Graham may face a difficult primary, Democrats have yet to field a candidate. Attorney Tom Turnipseed continues to consider a bid, while I continue to hope that 2006 Lt. Gov. nominee Robert Barber Jr. gives consideration to a Senate bid.

  • Alabama: I hadn't heard of this guy before today, but State Representative Billy Beasley says that he will not enter the 2008 Senate race against Republican Jeff Sessions, leaving the unsettlingly quiet Vivian Figures as the nominee-to-be.

  • Monday, October 22, 2007

    The Last Couple Weeks

    Readers: Thank you for sticking with the Guru during his absence. I'm done with traveling and am back on my computer, so the near-daily posts shall return. In the meantime, here is the quick and dirty recap of everything I missed over the last two weeks. (I have no doubt that I've missed tidbits from the last couple weeks in this compilation, so mention anything I missed in the comments!)

  • The DSCC continues to slam the NRSC in fundraising. September saw the DSCC bring in $5.3 million compared with the NRSC's $2.9 million. At the end of Q3, the NRSC had only $8.3 million on hand compared with the DSCC's whopping $22.9 million (with down to $3 million left in debts). The cash-on-hand minus debts difference now tops $11.5 million. Massive. And only getting bigger. Also, Hotline On Call offers an up-to-date listing of cash-on-hand amounts for Senate candidates.

  • MyDD and Kos on the possibility of more Senate Republican retirements - other than Ted Stevens, I would be surprised by any further GOP retirement announcements, even from Thad Cochran who I expect will run.

  • Both WaPo's Cillizza and National Journal's Jen Duffy see the top ten competitive Senate races being comprised of nine Republican-held seats and only one Democratic seat, as South Dakota and Tim Johnson look safer and safer. Meanwhile, Time adds another doomed Senate GOP article.

  • South Dakota: Speaking of, Senator Tim Johnson is definitely running for re-election and it's looking more and more like ultra-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds, and other big SD-GOP names, will take a pass in 2008.

  • New Mexico: The biggest shockwaves in the Senate races over the last couple weeks have come from the Land of Enchantment. With Pajamas Pete Domenici's retirement announcement, we will see a battle royale Republican primary between Congresscritters Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce. Wilson, of course, is wrapped up in the same ethics scandal that Domenici was in; while Pearce is just too far to the right for New Mexico (not that Wilson is much of a moderate herself). So, in addition to opening up both House seats for competitive races, the NM-GOP will be forced to field a Senate candidate who is either ethically compromised or is waaaaay out of touch with anything resembling mainstream voters. Oilman Spiro Vassilopoulos has also entered the GOP primary. A divisive and costly primary should leave the eventual Republican nominee fairly beat down and financially weakened.

    On the Democratic side, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez is in (his website is live) and Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is considering it while currently pursuing the Governor's office. However, Congressman Tom Udall appears to be the strongest non-Bill Richardson potential candidate. While Udall has said that he is not running, rumors are that he may reconsider. And the polling for Udall against both Wilson and Pearce look so good currently, he would have to give it further thought. Meanwhile, Draft Udall efforts proceed unabated. If Udall does not reconsider and Richardson does not surprise us with an entry, I hope Denish gets in.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig will serve out his term and will loom over the 2008 Senate race in Idaho. Meanwhile, we will have a spirited Republican primary. Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, whose corporate cronies make sure that he travels comfortably, announced his entry into the race and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is considering a bid. Meanwhile, Republican rancher Rex Rammell, who has a serious axe to grind against Risch, will be dogging Risch in a primary. On the Democratic side, Larry LaRocco continues to move steadily along.

  • Virginia: Popular former Governor Mark Warner obliterates all possible Republican opponents in polling and fundraising. This thing won't even be close. Warner is so strong that I, unfortunately, would not be surprised if GOP Rep. Tom Davis opted against a Senate bid altogether, leaving Jim Gilmore unopposed for the GOP nomination, especially with the VA-GOP railroading the process in favor of Gilmore over Davis. In fact, it's just now breaking that Davis won't run after all. Hmmmm, hopefully he'll still retire from the House.

  • Nebraska: This web video is terrific:

    When it comes to Nebraska's farmers (and just about everything else), Mike Johanns is a quitter and Republican former Congressman and coach Tom Osborne agrees.

  • Alaska: Democratic former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor nominee Ethan Berkowitz entered the at-large House race against corrupt Republican Don Young. How does this apply? I would imagine that Berkowitz, considered the second-biggest-name non-Tony Knowles Alaska Democrat after Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, would have run for the Senate seat against scandal-plagued Ted Stevens unless he thought that Begich would get in. Of course, this is just my supposition, but I take it as a signal that Begich is more likely to enter the Senate race than not.

  • Colorado: Want to learn about Backwards Bob Schaffer's real record? Also, Schaffer continues to lose ground to Congressman Mark Udall on the fundraising front.

  • North Carolina: Disappointingly (but understandably), both State Representative Grier Martin and State Senator Kay Hagan have declined to challenge the vulnerable Elizabeth Dole. For the record, I think Martin would have beaten Dole decisively, but we'll never know. The only announced candidate now is businessman Jim Neal. Neal recently gave a thorough liveblog at BlueNC. Hopefully he has the hustle to make this race as competitive as it deserves to be.

  • Maine: Still an uphill battle. But a very winnable one, to be sure. Especially when Republicans pull nutties like this.

  • Georgia: Businessman Josh Lanier formed a Senate exploratory committee to look into challenging Spineless Saxby Chambliss. Lanier's website is up and running.

  • Louisiana: Statewide elections were recently held and, while Republican Bobby Jindal won the Governor's office outright with 55% of the vote, Mitch Landrieu (brother of Senator Mary) won re-election as Lieutenant Governor with 57% of the vote. So the results can be seen as implication-neutral for Senator Mary Landrieu in 2008.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is all for government-run health care as long as he alone, and not Kentucky families, benefits. Oh, and Mitch McConnell bullies sick children and then lies about it. McConnell really is a dirtbag. His approval numbers indicate that a lot of Kentuckians agree.

  • Rhode Island: Senator Jack Reed is in terrific shape.

  • New Jersey: The NJ-GOP combatants continue to squabble.

  • Wyoming: 2006 Congressional nominee Gary Trauner is giving a House run another go, meaning he won't be running for the Senate. While Trauner will no doubt run a terrific House campaign, it does mean that we have to keep looking for an opponent for, at least, Senate appointee John Barrasso, if not also Mike Enzi. And with Barrasso possibly facing a competitive primary, we have to take advantage - and it's not like we don't have options.

  • Texas: Burnt Orange Report offers a terrific Q&A with the Democrats running for Senate, Rick Noriega and Mikal Watts. Also, looking ahead to 2012 or even 2010, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison will not run for re-election and may not serve out her full term.

  • Hearty congratulations to Nobel Laureate Al Gore.

  • Friday, October 05, 2007

    Friday Late Night Round-Up

    Readers: The Guru is going to be traveling extensively over the next two weeks, keeping me from posting every day. Please treat every post as a wide open thread, and offer links to any stories I might miss! And please contribute via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

  • New Mexico: With Pete Domenici having announced his retirement yesterday, we know that Republican Heather Wilson will run for the Senate in 2008 and Democrat Tom Udall will not run for the Senate. Governor Bill Richardson, focused on his Presidential campaign, is adamant that he will not run for Senate in 2008 either. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, who has been running for Governor, is considering the possibility of shifting gears and running for Senate. Also, the DSCC reminds us that the allegedly-moderate Heather Wilson, who is embroiled in the same U.S. Attorney scandal as Domenici, has a record of supporting George W. Bush 85% of the time. There is even a Heather Wilson Quiz to test your knowledge of her real record.

  • Colorado: A new poll puts the Colorado race in a statistical dead heat, with Congressman Mark Udall leading former Rep. Bob Schaffer 36-35. The percentage of undecided voters seems rather high, but it is worth noting that even this close poll also finds that Udall has almost double the support of Schaffer among independent voters, 34-19. Further, Udall raised in Q3 over a million dollars and has over $3 million on hand. No word yet on Schaffer's take.

  • Idaho: Larry Craig is resolute on finishing the rest of his term. Can we expect GOP Lt. Gov. Jim Risch to enter the 2008 Senate race next week? I have a theory that we can, for now, label as "whacky until it actually happens." It goes like this: expecting an open seat, a few Idaho Republicans enter the 2008 Senate GOP primary, fracturing support among the candidates. (So far, this is not too implausible given that a number of Republicans interviewed with Gov. Butch Otter when it looked like there would be an appointment.) With support fractured amid the Republican primary combatants, Craig recognizes that the diminished support he has among the ID-GOP is still strong enough to win a (relatively) widely contested primary. So Craig runs for re-election. Whacky? Maybe. Impossible? Hardly.

  • Idaho & Alaska: Incompetent NRSC Chairman John Ensign commented on Larry Craig's decision to serve out the remainder of his term rather than resign as he originally suggested it was his intention to do:

    He gave us his word that he would do something. He's backing out on us, and I don't think it is the right thing to do.
    So Ensign says that when a Senator suggests that he will resign, he ought to follow through, huh? Because I distinctly remember one Ted Stevens threatening to quit the Senate if his precious ANWR drilling bill didn't get passed (which it didn't). In fact, he's threatened to quit time and time again. I wonder if Ensign has any comment on that.

  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley, despite the later start of his campaign, raised almost a quarter-million dollars in September alone. He has solid momentum going into a critical Q4.

  • Minnesota & New Hampshire: Norm Coleman and John Sununu happily take dirty money. Now, I agree that a campaign can't scrutinize over and research the background of every contributor; but when you see "VECO" as an employer, given everything going on in Alaska, it should be a major red flag. (HT: MN Blue)

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell raised $1.55 million in Q3, bringing his cash on hand to $6.8 million. Nevertheless, all the money in the world won't put Mitch on the correct side of the issues.

  • Thursday, October 04, 2007

    Whirlwind Thursday Rundown

  • New Mexico: It appears that WaPo's Cillizza broke the story yesterday that Pete Domenici will announce later today that he will retire from the Senate at the end of this term. The actual announcement will occur in Albuquerque and is scheduled for 4pm Mountain Time. This is, of course, massive. It is not terribly shocking, however, given that the aging Domenici has been embroiled in scandal and has seen a major decline in approval as a result, plummeting from 68% last November all the way down to 41% this month. Nevertheless, it was appearing more and more unlikely that a top tier Democrat would enter the race against Domenici; but, with him retiring, I think we can expect more well-known names to give a 2008 Senate bid careful consideration.

    Names like Congressman Tom Udall, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez will pop up a lot. And, whether or not the rumors are warranted, current Presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will see a great deal of speculation. On the Republican side, the top two names will be Congresspeople Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce. Word is that Wilson will announce a Senate bid in the very near future. Keep in mind, though, that Wilson is embroiled in the same scandal as Domenici, possibly damaging her chances. Meanwhile, the far-right conservative Pearce, while electable for his district, is probably too far to the right of mainstream New Mexico. Netroots heavy hitters have already started a Draft Tom Udall effort - I happen to agree that he would be the strongest Democratic candidate. If Udall were to enter, the race would immediately become a Toss-Up, if not Lean Democratic Pick-Up.

  • New Hampshire: The latest University of New Hampshire poll has popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen beating Sprintin' John Sununu by the same 54-38 margin that she was beating him by in UNH's July poll. The poll also puts Shaheen's favorable-unfavorable at 56-25 and Sununu's at an abysmal 40-37.

  • Idaho: The Minnesota judge hearing Larry Craig's appeal denied the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Unless there are some more legal tricks up Craig's sleeve, that is pretty much that. The ball is now in Craig's court regarding an announcement about whether or not he'll resign.

  • Minnesota: Remember how Al Franken outraised incumbent Republican Norm Coleman in Q2? Well, it happened again in Q3 as Franken took about $1.9 million compared with Coleman's $1.7 million. And remember that, of Coleman's take, about $1 million of it came from the George W. Bush fundraiser alone. Not looking good for Coleman.

  • Kansas: Six-term former Congressman Jim Slattery will be coming to a decision in the very near future about challenging Pat Roberts. Here is a link to my profile of Slattery from a few weeks back. I really think that Roberts is vulnerable and that Kansas has a chance to be truly competitive, so I sincerely hope that Slattery jumps in.

  • Oklahoma: State Senator Andrew Rice appears to be raising funds at a healthy clip as he gets his campaign to unseat Jim "In Denial" Inhofe off the ground:

    State Senator Andrew Rice, D-OKC, has raised more than $310,000 from over 1,000 donors in the 60 days since he launched his candidacy for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma, according to preliminary figures released by his campaign today.

    With 11 days to go before the official financial reporting deadline at the Federal Election Commission, Rice said he feels good about far surpassing his initial goal to raise $200,000 by the end of the third quarter, Sept. 30.
    Help keep it going by contributing to Rice via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer's possible corruption/conflict of interest scandal remains a top local story. Given all of the real estate the NRSC will have to defend, I wonder if they will even bother sending money to Colorado to help Schaffer.

  • Nebraska: It will be entertaining to watch the NE-GOP engage in the metaphorical "circular firing squad." Republican former Congressman Tom Osborne takes a swing at Mike Johanns for ditching his job before the completion of the Farm Bill.

  • North Carolina: Democratic fundraiser Jim Neal is close to announcing a challenge to Elizabeth Dole.

  • Georgia: Businessman, Vietnam veteran and former staffer to U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge (D-GA) Josh Lanier is considering a Senate challenge to Shameless Saxby Chambliss.

  • This is hilarious.

  • This is even more hilarious.

  • Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Wednesday Morning Catch-Up

  • Virginia: It is very good news that Senator John Warner's ailment was well-attended to and that he should be fine. Now let's hope we can achieve such accessible, quality health care for all Americans.

  • Maine: I'm about to use, what is for me on this blog anyway, very strong language. Maine Republican Party Chair Mark Ellis is a disgusting piece of human garbage and should, at the very least, lose his job with the ME-GOP. And, further, Susan Collins should call for Ellis to lose his job. Why? You may remember from last week that Susan Collins was working to create the most recent in a string of dishonest, manufactured attacks against a political opponent, this time attacking Congressman Tom Allen's 98% voting record in the House as something less than outstanding. To further this dishonest attack, ME-GOP Chair Ellis sent this release yesterday:

    Congressman Tom Allen missed each of the three votes the House of Representatives held yesterday, bringing his missed votes total to 132...

    Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis said, "Congressman Allen really seems to have lost interest in showing up to work. At the very least, he should tell his constituents why he is choosing to leave them unrepresented in Congress less than a year after he was reelected. For these and the many other days that Tom has skipped votes, Mainers deserve to know the answer to the question: Where was Tom?"
    This, in and of itself, while a sleazy attack is not necessarily worthy of Ellis being fired by any means. So why, then, should he be fired? Well, later in the day, Ellis had to send an addendum to the release:

    “It has come to our attention that Congressman Tom Allen was in Bangor on Monday attending the funeral of a family member. Without question, the most difficult times in our lives are those in which we grieve for the loss of family or friends. Our thoughts are with Congressman Allen and his family during this difficult time,” said Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis.
    If Ellis had instead said something to the effect of, "Hey, Maine Republicans including myself and Susan Collins tried to manufacture a sleazy, misleading attack against Tom Allen and it blew up in our faces. We are real jerks and apologize profusely," I might be more content with Ellis' fake remorse. In fact, nowhere in the addendum is there an apology for the attack! No, "Sorry we tried to exploit for cheap political gain a few missed votes while you were at a family funeral." Nothing. Ellis should immediately lose his job and Susan Collins should immediately repudiate Ellis and the Maine Republican Party for this. Otherwise, since it was her sleazy, misleading attack that Ellis was simply advancing, we can take it as Collins' tacit approval for Ellis' disgusting remarks and subsequent lack of apology.

  • Texas: While State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega has been plugging away very effectively building grassroots and netroots components to his Senate campaign, the big question has been whether or not he could raise substantial funds to compete with millionaire self-funding attorney Mikal Watts in a primary and John Cornyn with his warchest in the general. Noriega took a big step in Q3 with a haul of over a half-million dollars. While he still needs to continue and even exceed that pace, for historical purposes, he is on a very good track compared with the 2006-cycle fundraising of now-Senators Tester, Casey, Brown and Webb.

  • South Carolina: Former state Democratic Party Chair Joe Erwin is consdering a challenge to Lindsey Graham. While South Carolina is a red state, to be sure, Graham could very likely face a bruising primary, potentially softening him up for a general election (if he makes it through the primary). That's why it's important to have solid candidates everywhere: because you never know what could happen.

  • Nebraska: Jon Bruning continues to ratchet up the rhetoric against Mike Johanns, calling Johanns "the president's lap dog." Given that Johanns offered full-throated support of George W. Bush's policies that hurt Nebraska farmers, Bruning certainly has a point.

  • Tennessee: Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter says that he is "all but certain" to enter the 2008 Senate race and that we can expect an official announcement in early '08.

  • Montana: Max Baucus airs a terrific ad chastising Bush for his decision to veto the SCHIP bill to expand health care for kids. The most evocative line: "Because we can cover those 14,000 kids like Abigail for a year for what we spend in a Iraq in a day." Very compelling. The ad is so powerful that it's already earning free media of its own.

  • Kentucky: DMKY offers us a two-fer as Joe Sonka highlights that Mitch McConnell is for big spending, pork, and bloated government, while Matt Gunterman sees Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne, a possible Democratic Senate candidate in 2008, promoting volunteering with the state Democratic Party.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue blogs the latest Democratic Senate primary debate. Very thorough and well done.

  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand ran a terrific Senate campaign and then kept an early campaign pledge to support a unified Democratic Party and got behind popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen when she entered the race. As a thank you for his service, his terrific campaign, and his calls for Party unity, help Marchand retire his modest campaign debt.

  • Two items looking into the future. First, MyDD's Singer sees Democratic Governors in red states shaping up to be strong Senate candidates in 2010, including Arizona's Janet Napolitano, Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, and Oklahoma's Brad Henry. Second, the Sacramento Bee wonders if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger might bypass a 2010 Senate challenge to Barbara Boxer if it looks like Dianne Feinstein would retire in 2012.

  • Monday, October 01, 2007

    Monday Rundown

  • If Larry Craig does decide to stick it out and not resign, Mitch McConnell is going to emphatically jack up the pressure:

    Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.
    Whoa! An open ethics hearing? This is an option now? Really? So, if Senate leadership wanted to call for an open ethics hearing on David Vitter's past solicitation of prostitutes or Ted Stevens' possibly taking bribes for getting earmarks placed or Lisa Murkowski's sweetheart land deal or Pete Domenici's inappropriate contact with former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias or Susan Collins' possibly inappropriate use of taxpayer-funded Senate resources for political campaign purposes, they could do that? In that case, open ethics hearings for all!

  • Alaska: Speaking of Stevens, apparently Uncle Ted "Tubes" Stevens once tried to funnel $3 million in earmarked funds directly to the pocket of one of his key supporters via e-mail:

    The Anchorage Daily News reports that in 2004, state officials were puzzled by a line buried in an appropriations bill: "$2 million is for the Kenai River; $1 million for the Russian River."

    When state officials asked Stevens to clarify, his office replied with a simple email: "The $2 million for the Kenai River; and $1 million for the Russian River go to Bob Penny [sic]." Then it listed the phone number of a company founded by developer Bob Penney. That's $3 million in taxpayers' money. ...

    It shouldn't come as a surprise that Penney got such special treatment. Penney, you may recall, brought Stevens in on a Utah land deal that turned a $15,000 investment into $125,000 in just twelve months -- the same year the $3 million earmark appeared.
    I suppose it wouldn't be subtle enough for Stevens to place earmarks specifically naming the supporters he's trying to funnel money to into appropriations bills. Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report offers its recap of Stevens' political predicament.

  • Virginia: Could the VA-GOP, unhappy with their options of Tom Davis and Jim Gilmore, turn to General Peter Pace as a Senate candidate? If there is any way to make Bush's mismanagement in Iraq a more prominent issue, this would be it.

  • Minnesota: The Star Tribune puts Norm Coleman's approve-disapprove at 45-37. Another outlet pegging Coleman below 50%.

  • Georgia: Shameless Saxby Chambliss will have a Libertarian Party challenger, Allen Buckley, who received over 2% in his 2004 Senate bid and over 3% in his 2006 Lieutenant Gubernatorial bid. Buckley's website is up.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee Chair, Tom Cole, is taking shots at the National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair, John Ensign:

    He added that Republicans have a better chance of winning a House majority in 2008 than they do of capturing the Senate or the White House. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, chairman of the GOP senatorial committee, offered no response.
    Ensign "offered no response." Wow, nothing. Not a "we're two seats from reclaiming a majority" or even a "we're working hard." Nothing. No response. Way to rally that base, Ensign!