Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Is NRSC Chair Ensign Auditioning for The Onion?

  • I'm sincerely curious as to whether NRSC Chair John Ensign is trying out for a writing gig with the online satire publication The Onion. I wonder this because he gave an interview with Roll Call that is absolutely hilarious. (I'm actually surprised that Ensign would put an interview so laughable on his PAC's website.)

    The article begins:

    While acknowledging that he will fall short of his $119 million fundraising goal this cycle, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) said Wednesday that the committee is on its strongest footing in at least two cycles with cash in the bank to take on a powerful Democratic money machine.
    Thanks for the reminder that Ensign's goal for the cycle was $119 million (the amount that the DSCC took in last cycle as the then-minority Party in the Senate). You may remember that the NRSC brought in only $31.8 million for the 2007 calendar year. If 2008 is similar to 2007 for NRSC fundraising, they'll finish with $63.6 million, or with 53% of his stated goal. A 53 in school is an F. The article then reads:

    But Ensign said he has a lot more to crow about after the final quarter of 2007 proved that Republican donors are renewing their commitment to the party, and that his restructuring has made the NRSC leaner and a better manager of its books.
    A lot to crow about after the final quarter of 2007? When the DSCC outraised the NRSC $13.3 million to $8.4 million? That final quarter of 2007? He's "crowing" that he raised less than two-thirds of his Democratic counterpart? Later in the article:

    Ensign noted that in December 2003, the NRSC had just $8.56 million in the bank, while it finished 2005 with only $10.5 million.
    That's great... if Ensign's NRSC was up against Elizabeth Dole's NRSC or George Allen's NRSC; but, he's up against Chuck Schumer's DSCC, and he's getting whooped. The next highlight:

    While Republicans look to put a positive spin on their position, Democrats are quick to argue that Ensign’s problems go deeper than fundraising, and include candidate recruitment and incumbent retention.

    The incumbent retention charge could be considered dubious, as Republican incumbents have chosen to re-up in the tough, Democratic-leaning states of Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon, while two of the retirements — Sens. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and John Warner (R-Va.) — could be chalked up to illness and age, respectively.
    Ummm, the willingness of Republicans in those Dem-leaning states to re-up could also very easily be chalked up to age, too, as the incumbents in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon are only 55, 58, 43, and 55, respectively. I mean, in recent years, there have been very few retirements from the U.S. Senate by people under 59, especially when there's not a Presidential bid involved. Ensign's job then gets nutshelled:

    “This NRSC has raised less money, recruited fewer challengers and retained fewer incumbents than [North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole] did,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said.
    Exactly. Ensign then closes the interview blaming his Republican Senate colleagues:

    Ensign acknowledged the challenges the NRSC still faces in 2008, especially in persuading his Senate colleagues to contribute and raise money on behalf of the committee. Senator participation has been a perennial problem for the NRSC, exacerbated by the fact that Democratic Senators have consistently been strong contributors to the DSCC, with several already handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars during this cycle.

    “Campaign transfers are by far the most difficult,” Ensign said. “Members always feel that if they raise money for their campaign that their donors won’t like it if they give it away.”

    Ensign said that while he’s making as many fundraising calls as DSCC Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), “there’s a huge difference in the commitment of their Members than with ours.”

    The Nevada Republican promised “consequences” for Republican Senators who don’t do their part, including refusing future NRSC help to any individual who won’t participate.

    “Our guys aren’t hungry enough,” Ensign added. “They don’t realize the consequences. That’s the reality. There’s been a few of them [who are helping], but not enough of them.”
    This should deflate any enthusiasm among GOP donors. If Republican Senators aren't willing to contribute to their cause, why should donors pony up to bail them out?

    It adds up to big trouble for Senate Republicans. But that doesn't mean Democrats should take anything for granted. Want to make the NRSC's woes all the more painful? Contribute to the DSCC today.

  • Massive Thursday Rundown

  • Q4 fundraising numbers are out, and the DSCC again whoops the NRSC. In December alone, the DSCC outraised the NRSC $6.1 million to $3.1 million. In Q4-2007, the DSCC outraised the NRSC $13.3 million to $8.4 million. In the 2007 calendar year, the DSCC outraised the NRSC $55.4 million to $31.8 million. And, for cash-on-hand-minus-debt at the end of 2007, the DSCC crushes the NRSC $27.9 million to $12.1 million. Huge.

  • In a study of competitive House seats, the following finding was discovered:

    Key finding: "Democrats start off even with Republicans, 45% to 46%, in a challenging battleground that Republicans won by a 10-point margin in the past two elections."
    A terrific trend that should impact Senate battlegrounds as well.

  • New Hampshire: Speaking of Q4-2007, Republican John Sununu finally released his take of $920,000, which is only about 75% of popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen's take of $1.2 million for the quarter.

  • Virginia: Some more Q4-2007: popular former Governor Mark Warner took in a hefty $2.7 million.

  • Michigan: Again speaking of Q4-2007, Senator Carl Levin took in another $840,000, bringing his cash-on-hand to just under $5 million.

  • Iowa: And yet again speaking of Q4-2007, Senator Tom Harkin took in another $802,000, bring his cash-on-hand to $3.4 million.

  • Oklahoma: Did somebody say Q4-2007? State Senator Andrew Rice reports an impressive take of $540,000, more than 70% of which came from Oklahomans. $225,000. [Correction: The $540K figure is the total take for 2007.]

  • Maine: And one last item on Q4-2007. We see another tight fundraising quarter between Democratic Congressman Tom Allen and Republican Susan Collins. Allen brought in $813,000 while Collins brought in $963,000. Meanwhile, Susan Collins and Karl Rove really are thick as thieves:

    Collins Gets Chummy With Rove

    Last weekend, the prestigious black-tie, closed-to-press Alfalfa Club dinner featured former Secretary of State Colin Powell, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a host of members of Congress and, of course, President Bush. But we hear it wasn’t the campaign digs of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that raised eyebrows, but rather Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and her chumminess with GOP Svengali Karl Rove.

    Sources say the two seemed to be enjoying a grand old time together, laughing and being very playful, which has the chattering class, well, chattering.

    This is not the first time their friendship has caused some rubbernecking. Turn Maine Blue, a progressive blog, recently launched a YouTube video that shows a CNN clip of the two — now prepare yourselves — walking together., an independent site that is “keeping an eye on Maine’s junior senator,” says, “It seems likely to me that we haven’t seen the last of that particular clip.”

    Meanwhile, we tried to find out whether Collins is Rove’s BFF, but he e-mailed that he was “running for [the] airport” and didn’t elaborate. As for Collins she said: "It is a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends, including Karl Rove, Bill and Janet Cohen and Mary Margaret Valentini.”
    It's no surprise that Collins and Rove are tight, given what a good "team player" Collins is, and how in the Bush administration's pocket she has been these last seven years.

  • Wyoming: Could Republican Mike Enzi be considering retirement? The Hill reports:

    Enzi’s low fundraising numbers and the Senate GOP leadership’s repeated snubs of his bid for a coveted seat on the powerful Finance Committee have fueled speculation that the senator may leave Congress. ...

    “I’m not making any announcements because Wyoming people don’t like long campaigns,” Enzi said Tuesday. “The whole atmosphere changes once there’s an announcement.”

    He added: “I’m not telling anybody; I haven’t even told my family.”

    According to his most recent campaign filing, Enzi had $522,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007, collecting just under $110,000 in receipts since the previous quarter. That is far less than a typical Republican Senate candidate at this point in the election cycle.
    Enzi is, in the Guru's opinion, the safest Republican up for re-election, so he can certainly take his time; and it certainly doesn't take a ton of money to run in Wyoming. That said, it's something to keep an eye on, especially if there are Democrats who might consider a Senate bid for an open seat.

  • Colorado: George W. Bush will be fundraising for Backwards Bob Schaffer's 2008 Senate campaign today. Why is W taking such an interest in Bob Schaffer's campaign? Because Big Oil Bob knows how to play nice with W's corporate cronies in Big Oil, illustrated by Schaffer's atrocious record on energy and the environment. In response, ProgressNow released a scathing web ad on Big Oil Bob.

  • Oregon: Oy. More hijinks from a staffer from Steve Novick's 2008 Senate campaign. Fresh off of a Novick staffer's conflict-of-interest brouhaha over her leading an organization that was endorsing in the primary, we have another Novick staffer caught editing the Wikipedia entry of primary opponent Speaker Jeff Merkley. And, again (for now at least), there is silence from the Novick campaign higher-ups. C'mon, guys, this is beneath Democratic politics. Novick should remind his staffers that their actions reflect on him and that this stuff doesn't provide a positive reflection. In other Oregon news, Speaker Jeff Merkley has a message for Republican Gordon Smith: a rollover car accident couldn't slow Merkley down; so what chance does Gordon Smith have?

  • Minnesota: MN Blue catches Smilin' Norm Coleman pandering to conservatives (in other words, rhetorically selling out Minnesota moderates).

  • New Mexico: The conservative Club for Growth is getting involved in the NM-GOP 2008 Senate primary in support of Congressman Steve Pearce. This is exactly the type of support that will help him in the primary and hurt him in the general against Congressman Tom Udall. Good times.

  • Nebraska: Scott Kleeb should decide on whether or not to join the 2008 Senate race shortly after Super Duper Tuesday. Meanwhile, The Hill indicates that Senator Ben Nelson is motivated to get very personally involved in seeing Republican Mike Johanns lose his 2008 Senate bid:

    Johanns infuriated Nelson when he resigned his [Secretary of Agriculture] Cabinet post last fall to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Hagel.

    “He told me it [Agriculture Secretary] was the job he always wanted and I told Democratic senators that when I got them to vote for his confirmation,” Nelson said Wednesday after speaking at a breakfast on energy policy sponsored by The Hill. “Then he resigns to run for the Senate, and my Democratic colleagues all call me and say, ‘What happened? You said he was serious about being secretary of Agriculture.’”
    So Mike Johanns isn't just a quitter; he's also a liar.

  • North Carolina: I don't remotely think John Edwards will run for his old Senate seat now that he's withdrawn from the Presidential race. But that might not stop potential Draft John Edwards efforts.

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    The Economic Record of Gordon Smith

  • Oregon: Gordon Smith not only has a terrible economic record, but he's piling on the election year flip-flops in 2008. Gordon Smith is promoting a five-point plan to help the economy, but his election year rhetoric is in direct contradiction to his record. The below is courtesy of a press release from the Senate campaign of Speaker Jeff Merkley:

    Gordon Smith’s Real Record on the Economy
    Keeping with his plan to saying anything to get elected, Gordon Smith gave us his five point plan to fix the economy

    What Smith says now: Rebate tax dollars to low and middle income Americans to kick start consumer spending and drive economic activity [Smith press release, 1/23/08]

    What Smith's Record Says: Smith Voted Against Min. Wage Increases 17 Times

    Minimum Wage: 1. Senate Vote 278, 9/2/98; 2. Senate Vote 94, 4/28/99; 3. Senate Vote 239, 7/30/99; 4. Senate Vote 356, 11/9/99; 5. Senate Vote 75, 7/7/00; 6. Senate Vote 76, 7/7/00; 7. Senate Vote 26, 3/7/05; 8. Senate Vote 257, 10/19/05; 9. Senate Vote 179, 6/21/06; 10. Senate Vote 22, 1/25/07; 11. Senate Vote 23, 1/25/07; 12. Senate Vote 26, 1/25/07; 13. Senate Vote 28, 1/25/07; 14. Senate Vote 30, 1/25/07; 15. Senate Vote 32, 1/25/07; 16. Senate Vote 37, 1/31/07; 17. Senate Vote 38, 1/31/07

    * * *

    What Smith says now: Provide critical assistance to the states to fund programs such as food stamps, low-income heating assistance (LIHEAP) and unemployment insurance [Smith press release, 1/23/08]

    What Smith's Record Says: Only in an Election Year does Smith want to Increase LIHEAP, Unemployment Benefits

    Smith has voted three times against increasing funding for LIHEAP: In 2005, Smith voted against a temporary tax on Big Oil Company profits to add funds to LIHEAP. [Senate vote 339, 11/17/05] In 2006, Smith voted twice against boosting LIHEAP: once to increase LIHEAP funds by $500 million and the second time to increase LIHEAP $3.3 billion. [Senate vote 42, 3/14/06; Senate vote 57, 3/16/06]

    Smith voted against increasing Unemployment Benefits Six Times: 1. Senate Vote 234, 9/15/05; 2. Senate Vote 293, 10/11/01; 3. Senate Vote 338, 11/14/01; Senate Vote 269, 7/10/03; Senate Vote 199, 5/23/03; and once in the Oregon Senate Too! - Vote on SB 954, 1993

    * * *

    What Smith says now: Approve a multi-year extension of the county payments safety net to help stabilize rural economies in 44 states [Smith press release, 1/23/08]

    What Smith's Record Says: Smith Believes in a Limited Role for Government in Economic Development

    In 1995, Smith wanted to cut Gov. Kitzhaber’s rural development budget by over 45 percent, from $15 million to $8.2 million. At a meeting of Wallowa County residents, Smith defended his cutting aid to rural Oregon communities by saying rural development funds needed to be “re-evaluated. The rural development fund may not be dead but it’s on life support.” Smith then went onto to say that he believed that “government should take on a limited role in economic development.” [Baker City Herald, 4/7/95] And where was Smith getting this done when the Republicans had a 10-vote majority in the U.S. Senate? It’s not called the Craig-Wyden-Smith bill for a reason.

    * * *

    What Smith says now: Provide tax and regulatory relief to small businesses so they can afford to buy new equipment, innovate, compete and hire new workers [Smith press release, 1/23/08]

    What Smith's Record Says: Smith Votes Against Closing Tax Loopholes Requiring Reinvestment in Our Economy

    Smith voted twice against closing a corporate tax loophole to make corporations invest overseas profits in the U.S. Smith voted against an amendment that would have allowed corporations to pay a reduced tax rate on foreign profits even if they were used to create jobs in the U.S. Then, Smith voted against closing the loophole so the American corporations can avoid taxes by leaving profits in an off-shore account. [Senate votes 81, 83, 5/5/04] So regular Americans have to pay income taxes, but with Gordon Smith, corporations don’t.

    * * *

    What Smith says now: Provide a fair rate and a safe way for first time homebuyers to refinance their mortgage and avoid foreclosure [Smith press release, 1/23/08]

    What Smith's Record says: Smith’s Vote Helped Cause the Crisis - At least Now he Tries to Clean Up his Mess

    Smith voted against a bill to provide more regulation of the sub-prime mortgage market. The bill would have prohibited sub-prime lenders who make illegal or unprotected loans from declaring bankruptcy to avoid legal or financial responsibility. [Senate vote 24, 3/13/01]

  • Wednesday Tidbits

  • Kentucky: The filing deadline elapsed yesterday at 4pm and ten people filed for the 2008 Senate race. Two Republicans filed: incumbent Mitch McConnell and political unknown Daniel Essek. Sadly, no Larry Forgy. Eight Democrats filed. The five lesser known names that are expected to bring up the back of the pack are Dr. Michael Cassaro, James Rice, Kenneth Stepp, David Williams, and David Wylie. The three bigger names expected to vie for the Democratic nomination are Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne, businessman Greg Fischer, and two-time gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford. Much more analysis to come very soon.

  • Maine: Gerald at Turn Maine Blue is also questioning what Susan Collins spent her time doing while Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He runs through the schedule of hearings from Committee, a significant amount of it dealing with committee "business" and nominations, and he concludes his post:

    As reports of incredible amounts of waste in Iraq increased in the media, one wonders why Collins held just one hearing on the reconstruction efforts there (and that to just to get a briefing on SIG Bowen's 2006 report) and none on the assistance our government was giving to the fledgling Iraqi state (either direct aid or through private contractors).

    There is only one reason that I can think of why Collins refused to, in her own words, "expose and eliminate wasteful spending" in Iraq: she chose not to.

    The question is then: Why?
    I hope we'll find out the answer to that question. In the meantime, I await response from Collins' staff to my recent e-mail.

  • Minnesota: MN Blue translates for us Norm Coleman's response to the State of the Union. (Basically, Smilin' Norm is desperately hoping for somebody to throw him a rope.) Meanwhile, Al Franken is everywhere.

  • John Edwards should be lauded for the vigorous campaign he waged, in which he brought important issues to the forefront and advocated for those who too often lack an advocate. Will he endorse before February 5? We'll see. So on the Democratic side, it's Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. On the Republican side it's Mitt Romney or John McCain (...or Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul). For the Dems, it seems that Hillary has the poll numbers but Barack has the momentum. For the GOP, John looks strong; but, if Mitt can convince Republicans that it's a two-person race and that he's the "better conservative," he has a shot to pull it out.

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    An Open E-mail to Jen Burita, Press Secretary to Susan Collins

  • Maine: With considerable discussion recently over how aggressive Susan Collins really was in investigating waste and mismanagement in Iraq, I figured it would be worthwhile to go right to the source. I will keep readers apprised to any response.

    Subject: Hearings Held by then-Chairwoman Collins
    From: Senate 2008 Guru
    To: Jen Burita, Press Secretary to Senator Susan Collins
    CC: Elissa Davidson, media contact for Susan Collins' campaign
    Date: 1/29/08

    Ms. Burita,

    On January 8, David Offer had published an op-ed in the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel discussing billions of dollars in waste and mismanagement in Iraq.

    Mr. Offer followed up that op-ed with one this morning in which he raises the prospect that Senator Collins was not as aggressive a Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs as she could have been when it came to investigating and holding hearings on waste and mismanagement in Iraq.

    In this morning's column, Mr. Offer mentions your effort to highlight Senator Collins' aggressiveness as Chair:

    She [Ms. Burita] sent me a list of 14 hearings held between June 4, 2003, and Oct. 17, 2007, on subjects including the Defense Department personnel system, cheating contractors, government purchasing, FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina and Iraq reconstruction.
    I am writing to ask you to forward me that list of 14 hearings that you sent Mr. Offer. I am very curious as to the content of these hearings and would very much appreciate the enlightenment. With these hearings having ostensibly been public record, I don't anticipate that this request should be a problem.

    I very much look forward to reading through the list.

    Kindest regards,
    Senate 2008 Guru

  • Tuesday Briefs

  • Maine: Back on January 8, David Offer, the former executive editor of the Kennebec Journal, put out an op-ed highlighting his discontent with waste and mismanagement in Iraq. However, he did not seem to place any of the blame for the waste and mismanagement at the feet of Susan Collins, who served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during the middle years of this decade and was in a position to investigate and hold oversight hearings on such waste and mismanagement. So the Guru suggested that Offer should place some of the blame with Collins.

    This morning, Offer put out a follow-up op-ed piece, where he does thoughtfully consider that maybe Collins did have a role to play (and he quotes the Guru). Unfortunately, he does, in part, chalk up the debate to one's "political leanings." Regardless of one's political leanings, it doesn't change the facts that Senators repeatedly pled with Collins to be far more aggressive in her oversight duties as Committee Chair and that Collins balked. If Collins was more aggressive, then this particular criticism of her record would not exist. In today's op-ed Offer says, "I'll leave it to others to decide if she could or should have done more or done it earlier." Well, let me decide, then. Yes, she should have done much more and she should have done it much earlier. If Collins had, there would likely be far less waste and mismanagement in Iraq.

  • Kentucky: A two-fer from BlueGrassRoots: Bob Novak highlights Mitch McConnell's support for pork-filled earmarks; and WaPo highlights McConnell's hypocrisy on up-or-down votes for presidential appointments. Meanwhile, the Lexington Herald-Leader reminds us that the filing deadline for Kentucky is 4pm today. Come on, Larry Forgy!

  • Mississippi: Republican Thad Cochran doesn't want anybody laying a finger on his precious, precious earmarks.

  • Alaska: Republican Ted Stevens also doesn't want anybody laying a finger on his precious, precious earmarks.

  • Nebraska: It looks like Republican-turned-Democratic businessman Tony Raimondo is on the brink of a 2008 Senate bid. We're also still waiting for word from Scott Kleeb, whose answer should come by the first week of February.

  • North Carolina: From the "Huh?" file: Elizabeth Dole's latest fundraising gimmick is sending her previous donors a $1 bill and asking them to send it back with a check for more. By sending people cash, regardless of the amount, ostensibly in exchange for campaign contributions, is she breaking any campaign finance laws? Hmmmm...

  • New Hampshire: John Sununu and the Guru agree on one thing: John Sununu is no expert.

  • Minnesota: Join the DSCC's Norm Coleman Caption Contest! (Smilin' Norm dressed identically to George W. Bush at the State of the Union and seems thrilled to be George W's wingman.)

  • Monday, January 28, 2008

    Monday Night Items

  • Senate Republicans again prove that political opportunism, hypocrisy, and empty political posturing are their strongest suits as they "simultaneously fear-monger about the lapse of the Protect America Act while at the same time rejecting Democratic efforts to extend it for thirty days." Time after time, Senate Republicans demonstrate that they care far more about attempting to dishonestly score political points than they care about protecting the United States.

  • Georgia: A new Zogby Interactive poll has some very interesting results. Only 38% of respondents said that Spineless Saxby Chambliss deserves another term, while a whopping 49% say that they think it's time for someone new. Also, a blind bio match-up between Chambliss and Democratic candidate Josh Lanier found Lanier's bio beating Chambliss' bio 47-45. Especially notable was that Lanier's bio beat Chambliss' bio among independents by an overwhelming 57-32 margin. I'm not saying that Georgia's all of a sudden a top-tier race, but these results are interesting. (HT: TT)

  • Idaho: Holy cow! The 2008 Republican Senate primary has ballooned to nine candidates. Joining GOP Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Rancher Rex Rammell, Iraq veteran Scott Syme, Former Caldwell City Councilman Kent Marmon, and Businessman Richard Phenneger are former Boise Mayoral candidate Harley Brown, Machinist Brian Hefner, Attorney Fred Adams, and Neal Thompson.

  • Iowa: Remember how Mike Huckabee surprised everybody by winning the Iowa caucuses, largely propelled by religious conservatives, demonstrating the population's potent political muscle? And, separately, remember how 74-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley suggested that he intends to run for another term in 2010? Well, I wonder if any enthusiasm for Grassley to run again, particularly among Iowa's religious conservative population, will wane significantly in light of his efforts to investigate the possible mis-use of funds by Pentecostal ministries. Will religious conservatives hold Grassley's investigative efforts against him?

  • Did anybody else notice Dick Cheney nodding off during the State of the Union (around 9:25-9:30ish Eastern time)?

  • Monday Rundown

  • With tonight being George W. Bush's last State of the Union address, we should remember how Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, Gordon Smith, Elizabeth Dole, and Mitch McConnell regarded the previous SOTU speeches; they loved 'em!

  • South Dakota: From the pages of the Argus Leader comes a glowing endorsement of why South Dakotans should re-elect Senator Tim Johnson.

  • Maine: Finally, the Maine media is beginning to pick up on what a fraud Susan Collins is when it comes to oversight on waste and mismanagement in Iraq. Collins looks out for the interests of George W. Bush and his corporate cronies more than she looks out for the interests of Maine's families. Why? Because she's a "team player" (emphasis added by me):

    After a while I got up to go get something from the café cart, and it turns out the guy sitting behind me was Rick Santorum, which makes it all the more fun and all the more interesting. So pretty much the whole trip this guy is working his cell phone, talking to people about how anyone is better than McCain and Giuliani would be better than McCain because then at least he wouldn't betray the conservative movement… yeah, Giuliani is bad on some issues like abortion, but at least he would stand with the conservative movement. He was saying that there are people like Susan Collins who vote moderate sometimes, but at least she is a team player who always plays with the team and never plays against the conservative side even if she has to give the liberals a vote because she's from Maine.
    Rick Santorum knows that Susan Collins is in the Bush administration's pocket. (HT: Collins Watch) Let's all help Congressman Tom Allen make sure that Maine voters know that Susan Collins is in the Bush administration's pocket by contributing to his campaign to oust Collins.

  • Massachusetts: The National Republican Senatorial Committee's blog declares that Senator John Kerry should "watch out" for the candidacy of Republican Jim Ogonowski. If the NRSC thinks that Ogonowski is truly a candidate worthy of making Senator Kerry "watch out," then surely they'll commit to spending a significant amount of money in Massachusetts (say, a few hundred thousand dollars) on Ogonowski's behalf. Of course, if the NRSC is not willing to get behind his campaign with a financial commitment, then they must not really think all that much of his candidacy. Ball's in your court, NRSC.

  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer knows that his conservative record won't get him elected, so he's running from the conservative label.

  • Illinois: The Associated Press is blunt but accurate:

    The U.S. Senate candidate officially endorsed by the Illinois GOP's leadership doesn't even have one-hundredth the campaign cash of incumbent Dick Durbin.
    Durbin has $7.3 million in his bankroll, compared with $67,000 in Republican Steve Sauerberg's account (and that's after Sauerberg loaned $250,000 to his campaign).

  • Sunday, January 27, 2008

    Sunday Quick Hits

  • Thank you! State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega has crossed the $1,000 threshold on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. You guys are awesome!

  • Texas: Speaking of Representative Noriega, he gave a fantastic speech as he accepted the endorsement of the AFL-CIO (HT: BOR):

  • West Virginia: The filing deadline in West Virginia has passed, and it appears that Senator Jay Rockefeller's only Republican opposition will be his 2002 GOP opponent, Jay Wolfe. As a reminder, Rockefeller crushed Wolfe 63-37. With no Shelley Moore Capito, Betty Ireland, or even John Raese running, we can chalk up West Virginia as another official blown opportunity by the NRSC for a competitive race.

  • Saturday, January 26, 2008

    Saturday Tidbits

  • Texas: Bush-rubber-stamp John Cornyn brought in $1.7 million in Q4 of 2007, bringing his cash-on-hand to $7.5 million. We'll see if that buys enough TV ads to muddy his terrible record on behalf of Texas families.

  • Oregon: The Novick campaign paid staffer also serving as coordinator for an organization endorsing in the 2008 Senate primary has, at long last, sought to bring an end to the controversy by ceding her leadership role with the organization, she informed people via e-mail. It's about time - and if that had been done from the start, it would have prevented the entire controversy. But I have to say I'm quite bothered by the first sentence of her e-mail:

    I wanted to write you in response to attacks that have been leveled against my involvement in Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).
    This indicates to me that she, and the Novick campaign, still don't get it. Kimmerly can be involved in whatever organization she wants; and PDA is a terrific one, as is its mission. But she can't be both the leader of such an organization and a paid staffer on a campaign seeking its endorsement without there being a conflict of interest. That was the entire point the whole time. It's not an attack against her or her "involvement." (I presume she's intentionally missing the point here.) It's not an attack against the Novick campaign. It's a preference against conflicts of interest, plain and simple. The conflict of interest is finally removed; but, unfortunately for PDA-Oregon, their endorsement in this primary campaign will have a taint to it, a taint that could have been avoided.

    In other Oregon news, the Democratic Party of Oregon offers another terrific piece outlining a number of issues on which Gordon Smith is completely out of step with Oregon. And, from Speaker Jeff Merkley's campaign, Netroots Outreach Coordinator Carla Axtman personalizes the campaign explaining why she came to work on Speaker Merkley's campaign.

  • Missouri: Republican former Senator Jim Talent says he won't run for Governor in the wake of Matt Blunt's withdrawal from the race. Just looking ahead, that means he's free for another Senate run in 2010 in case Republican Kit Bond retires.

  • Here's even more evidence that open, transparent government is anathema to Republicans.

  • Hahahahahahahahahahaha:

    Oh, and to anyone who thinks that John McCain doesn't play politics with our soldiers' lives, think again.

  • Friday, January 25, 2008

    Friday Items

  • Rick Noriega is now only $63 from the $1,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page! If you can chip in a little, help put him over the top.

  • Discord in the Senate Republican ranks? CQ Politics sees conservative Republican Senators disregarding the course set by new Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander. Meanwhile, The Hill has Mike Enzi "pissed" at Republican leadership for bypassing him for the Finance Committee seat that opened up when Trent Lott resigned, giving the spot to the more junior and more politically-vulnerable John Sununu. Enzi was also bypassed for a Finance Committee seat last year when his Wyoming colleague Craig Thomas passed away and that seat went ot the more junior John Ensign as a reward for Chairing the NRSC.

  • Speaking of NRSC Chairman John Ensign, he gave an interview to RealClearPolitics that was so laughable, tears are still streaming down my face. Among the highlights:

    In elections, you know, obviously more money is better. But if you look at the election, it isn't always a question of who has more money that wins. It is who does better with their money, who has better messaging. Conrad Burns dramatically outspent Tester. George Allen outspent Jim Webb," he said. "You can go down race by race -- Jim Talent outspent McCaskill -- I mean, race by race there are a lot of races where we outspent the Democrats and we lost.
    OK, John, so now you have weaker messaging and less money, and you think your prospects are better for it? And his best defense for the very vulnerable John Sununu?

    If you look up in the dictionary somebody who's from New Hampshire, you'll see his picture. He is born, raised, bred...
    Yeah, Sununu 2008! He's, um, from the state in which he's running for office, I guess. Feel the excitement! Oh, and this classic defense of GOP chances in New Mexico:

    "They have a little advantage because we have a primary and they don't," he said. "At the same time, that doesn't mean you can't win. We saw that in Virginia. [In 2006, Democrats] had a primary, George Allen didn't. [Allen] lost. So it still depends on who runs the good races."
    All that demonstrates is that George Allen is a yutz who couldn't hold his seat despite a huge money advantage, the power of incumbency, and his opponent occupied with a primary challenge. Ensign then tried to hint at recruitments to come for the GOP:

    While refusing to divulge names, Ensign hinted that two new candidates could emerge in Iowa and South Dakota, to take on Senators Tom Harkin and Tim Johnson. "If we're able to sign them, they will be absolutely heavyweight -- they are heavyweight candidates and if we can get them on board, they will be absolutely national races that people will pay attention to right away," he said.
    I don't want to ruin the surprise, but, yeah, if the NRSC could recruit Tom Latham and Mike Rounds, it would be significant. But every indication so far is that Harkin would beat Latham like the several Republican Congressmen who have challenged him in the past; and, so far, Mike Rounds ain't interested. But keep those fingers crossed, John. Ensign closes the interview by lowering the goalposts even further:

    "I think worst case scenario -- 45, 46 [seats, a loss of three or four]," he said. "If we have a real bad night, we're 45. A good night for us, staying 48, 49, that's a real good night."
    How long before Ensign cops to the worst case scenario being 44? 43? 42?

  • Oregon: Last evening, Speaker Jeff Merkley and a campaign aide were in a car accident when the car skidded on an ice patch and flipped over. Thank goodness both Merkley and his campaign aide were unhurt (both were wearing their seat belts - let that be a lesson!). In fact, Merkley was even able to complete his evening schedule! Holy freakin' cow! A car flipping over didn't slow Merkley down; what chance does Gordon Smith have?!?

    In other Oregon news, Reverend John-Mark Gilhousen, a peace activist and Progressive Democrats of America member, reflects on the recent brouhaha over the PDA endorsement "process" in the Democratic Senate primary. Reverend Gilhousen notes that, even though he is a PDA member and receives their e-mails, he found out about the endorsement "process" not from any e-mail or call to members, but from the media covering the conflict of interest presented by Novick campaign staffer Liz Kimmerly also serving as the PDA-Oregon coordinator, a conflict of interest that remains unaddressed.

  • Colorado: The League of Conservation Voters has named Backwards Bob Schaffer to their 2008 Dirty Dozen list for Schaffer's terribly anti-environmental record. LCV comments:

    "During his tenure in Congress, Bob Schaffer worked to get Big Oil $33 billion in tax breaks by supporting an energy bill written by Dick Cheney and the oil industry. After leaving the House, he went to work for Big Oil. Now he wants to return to Washington to work for them in the Senate," said LCV Senior Vice President and Colorado native Tony Massaro. "Coloradans deserve a senator who works for them, not Big Oil."
    I wonder if "Big Oil" will be listed as Schaffer's Party designation on the ballot.

  • Alaska: Democratic leadership is still very publicly urging Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to take on appearance of impropriety maven Ted Stevens in the 2008 Senate race, and Begich isn't demurring:

    "People are looking for results-oriented leadership, and mayors are about that," Begich said, after leading a seminar on how cities can cooperate with military bases. "We get stuff done. We do not sit there and dilly-dally. We do not get into partisan bickering. I think the country, and Alaskans, are striving for leadership that is no longer partisan bickering, but focused on getting things done."

    Begich said he also got a push from fellow U.S. mayors, including one Florida mayor with influential union connections who took to calling him "Senator Begich" at the conference.

    "I don't even get questions, I get people who come to me and say, 'We're there for you.'" Begich said. "It's a consistent flow here. They're asking me, wondering. And some are just flat-out saying, 'go, go, go, what do we need to do?'"
    I'm very much looking forward to Begich '08!

  • New Mexico: It appears that Republican Heather Wilson is "push-polling" her primary opponent, Congressman Steve Pearce. Not only does Wilson have a history of such tactics, going back to her 2006 Congressional re-election bid against state Attorney General Patsy Madrid, but we know that Wilson has no problem performing ethically questionable acts to achieve favorable electoral ends.

  • Idaho: Democratic Senate candidate and former Congressman Larry LaRocco has completed his fifteenth job on his Working for the Senate tour, working at the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. The guy is all hustle.

  • Draw your own conclusions on this one. An aide to John McCain set up a private meeting in Switzerland between McCain, Saxby Chambliss, John Sununu and one Oleg Deripaska. Who is Oleg Deripaska? The Washington Post describes him as "a Russian billionaire whose suspected links to anti-democratic and organized-crime figures are so controversial that the U.S. government revoked his visa." This is who John Sununu and Saxby Chambliss set up clandestine international meetings with. Shady with a capital SHADY.

  • I don't want to just bluntly say that Fox News' Bret Baier is dumb, but in discussing an interview with George W. Bush, he commented:

    I tell you what — he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office.
    Ummm, Bret, Abraham Lincoln didn't "leave office" in the sense that he was voted out or term limited. Lincoln was, well, kind of - what's the word? - assassinated. I thought that was common knowledge.

  • Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Thursday Quick Hits

  • New Hampshire: Popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen took in a healthy $1.3 million in Q4-2007 for her 2008 Senate bid.

  • Maine: The New York Times eviscerates Susan Collins:

    One of the greatest disappointments on this score has been Susan Collins of Maine, who is now up for re-election. Ms. Collins bills herself as a strong supporter of choice — something that has added to her reputation for independence — but she has rubber-stamped judges who are doing great damage to the right to choose.
    "Two-Faced" Susan is a giant hypocrite. (HT: Collins Watch) For good measure, Cliff Schecter tears Collins a new one on several issues.

  • Minnesota: Because Norm Coleman apparently has no accomplishments of his own to tout, Coleman is just releasing more attack ads, even though he is the incumbent and there is still more than nine months from Election Day and the Democratic primary is still far from decided. Coleman must be very, very worried. And with good cause, given that his one-time huge lead has evaporated into a statistical dead heat and given that Franken has routinely out-fundraised Coleman.

  • New Mexico: Republican Steve Pearce only managed to squeeze about $50,000 from the fundraiser he held with Dick Cheney. In November, a Cheney fundraiser brought in $110,000 for Republican Heather Wilson.

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Wednesday Briefs

  • North Carolina: Public Policy Polling has released some more numbers. Elizabeth Dole's approve-disapprove comes in at a weak 44-33; and, she's back under 50% against both Democratic opponents: leading State Senator Kay Hagan 48-35 and leading businessman Jim Neal 49-30.

  • Maine: While Congressman Tom Allen opposes warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies complicit in such activities, Susan Collins supports letting the telecomm companies off the hook for their role in illegal wiretapping, like a good Bushie.

  • Oregon: Last night saw the first Democratic Senate primary debate; and, by several accounts, it was a very agreeable affair in which the Democratic chorus vocalized why Oregon would benefit greatly by replacing Gordon Smith.

  • Mississippi: It is fairly incontrovertible that Ronnie Musgrove is far more fiscally responsible than Roger Wicker.

  • New Mexico: Democracy for New Mexico and New Mexico FBIHOP are teaming up on a fundraising effort for Democrats in the Land of Enchantment, including Senate candidate Congressman Tom Udall, to counter Republican fundraising efforts by Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in New Mexico. Contributing to their effort is a direct rebuke of Cheney-Rove, and isn't that reason enough?

  • Alaska: Ted Stevens is getting into fights with fellow Republican Senators over his addiction to earmarks for pork barrel projects.

  • Breaking news: apparently George W. Bush has bent the truth a little regarding Iraq, to the tune of 935 catalogued lies, courtesy of The Center for Public Integrity.

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Tuesday Round-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Monday, January 21, 2008

    Have a Reflective Martin Luther King Day

    Click play, and close your eyes, and let the words resonate in your ears.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Sunday Catch-Up

  • Just $78 until Rick Noriega crosses the $1,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. Please please please please please please chip in?

  • New Jersey: The latest Monmouth University poll (in PDF format) sees Senator Frank Lautenberg with an approve-disapprove of 43-28, which is actually very strong for Democratic Senate incumbents in New Jersey. The poll also sees Lautenberg with at least a 14-point lead over all polled Republican opponents. (HT: Blue Jersey)

  • Oregon: Yesterday, the Guru highlighted the hubbub over a staffer for Steve Novick's Senate campaign also coordinating the endorsement process for a statewide organization, despite the obvious conflict of interest and without regard for procedure as dictated by the national office of which the state organization is a chapter. Subsequently, this recap of the organization's first meeting since the story broke (the meeting at which the possibly-illegitimate endorsement was originally supposed to be pushed through) offers every indication: that the Novick staffer will continue to push forward for the endorsement; that the Novick campaign will take no action against the staffer's ethically questionable conduct; and, that the purpose of the meeting and possibly the very formation of the local chapter was not to organize progressive Democrats in the state but rather to generate a sham endorsement for Novick. Stay tuned.

  • Michigan: Although Michigan's filing deadline isn't until May 13, it continues to look like Senator Carl Levin will face only token Republican opposition in the person of either failed '02 challenger Rocky Raczkowski or state rep. Jack Hoogendyk.

  • Saturday, January 19, 2008

    Saturday Round-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Friday, January 18, 2008

    Friday Quick Hits

  • State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega is now only $78 away from the $1,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page. Can you help by putting just $10 toward his crossing the $1,000 threshold?

  • Oregon: The Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) gives us a twofer. First, the DPO highlights Gordon Smith's latest double-talk and empty rhetoric on Iraq. Second, the DPO offers five questions that Smith should be asked in a debate.

  • Mississippi: Cotton Mouth highlights some of Roger Wicker's lousy ratings from veterans groups, including:

    2006 Senator Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 50 percent in 2006.

    2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator Wicker a grade of C+.

    2006 Senator Wicker sponsored or co-sponsored 21 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.

    2005 Senator Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 0 percent in 2005.

    2004 Senator Wicker supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 0 percent in 2004.

    2004 Senator Wicker supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 33 percent in 2004.

    2003-2004 Senator Wicker supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 38 percent in 2003-2004.
    Over the last few years, Wicker has voted pretty terribly on veterans' issues. It still infuriates me when Republicans like Wicker pay lip service to supporting the troops and looking out for our veterans when they clearly don't vote that way.

  • Louisiana: 1996 Republican Senate candidate Woody Jenkins, who narrowly lost to Senator Mary Landrieu in her first Senate victory, is opting for a Congressional run instead of a Senate run, in which he had earlier expressed interest.

  • Nebraska: Former state legislative candidate and air force veteran Larry Marvin says he'll enter the 2008 Senate Democratic primary.

  • Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Thursday Rundown

  • Kentucky: Businessman Greg Fischer has officially joined Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne in the 2008 Democratic Senate primary, and he's put up a campaign website. Fischer is expected to put a considerable amount of his own money into his campaign. As long as the primary remains positive, civil, and focused on the failings of Mitch McConnell, it should be productive in raising the Democratic candidates' profiles. Speaking of Mitch McConnell's failings, the Lousiville Courier-Journal slams Mitch McConnell's obstructionism in support of Big Oil.

  • Mississippi: As expected, GOP Gov. Haley Barbour is appealing to the state supreme court the decision against allowing Barbour to delay the special election to succeed Trent Lott until November. Mississippi blogger Will Bardwell offers a thoughtful analysis suggesting that there is a chance that the heavily Republican Mississippi supreme court might uphold the lower court's ruling, as the judge in the case relied heavily on previous legal opinions of many of the current supreme court judges. Meanwhile, following yesterday's WaPo story on the ethically-questionable relationship between Republican Senate-appointee Roger Wicker and the Aurora Corporation, local media in Mississippi have begun tracking the story.

  • Idaho: Former Congressman and Democratic Senate candidate Larry LaRocco has a terrific new radio ad playing (text in PDF format) that hits Republican Jim Risch on his lies about taxes:

    In the 2006 Gem State Voter guide, Risch promised to never support a tax increase. Oops. Risch then orchestrated a 20% sales tax increase. But it gets worse. Jim Risch also promised not to tax food. In fact, Jim Risch's tax raising scheme does tax food... making Idaho one of only a handful of states to fully tax groceries. What’s even more unbelievable, Risch’s 20% tax raise for you gives big tax breaks to out-of-state land owners and speculators.
    The ad can be heard online here. Republicans aren't just corrupt; they're also dishonest.

  • Wyoming: Attorney Nick Carter is considering a 2008 Senate bid against Senate-appointee John Barrasso.

  • North Carolina: The latest Survey USA poll of the 2008 Democratic Senate primary sees State Senator Kay Hagan leading businessman Jim Neal by a 37-29 margin, with still more than a third of the poll respondents undecided.

  • Minnesota: Al Franken has secured the endorsement of the 70,000-member state teachers' union.

  • New Jersey: State senator Joe Pennacchio is expected to formally enter the 2008 Republican Senate primary today. Meanwhile, it looks like the GOP establishment in Washington DC is getting behind Republican real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook, if contributions from John Ensign and Mitch McConnell are any indication. The ability to self-fund her campaign may be one of the main reasons they're supporting Estabrook, as she has already put $1.6 million of her own money into her campaign.

  • New Mexico: The Federal Election Commission ruled that Pete Domenici can use campaign funds to pay for legal bills resulting from the ethics inquiry into his role in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal. I suppose that's better than Domenici contributing it to the NRSC, and it'll serve as a continual reminder to New Mexicans of the Republican Culture of Corruption.

  • Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Wednesday Tidbits

  • Minnesota: This is outstanding. An old college buddy of Norm Coleman's has taken out an ad wondering what Norman Coleman, the pot-smoking college student, would think of Norm Coleman, the hypocritical politician. You must read this.

  • Mississippi: The Guru was raising this issue over a month ago, and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) blog even earlier. And now, finally, the Washington Post and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are picking up on the all-too-cozy relationship between Senate-appointee Roger Wicker and the Aurora Corporation. In a nutshell, Aurora was Congressman Wicker's top contributor in 2006; then, in 2007, Wicker secured a juicy earmark for Aurora; and, to top it off, the lobbyist working for Aurora was Wicker's former Chief of Staff. So there you go. As John Pruett of POGO mentions in the WaPo article:

    John Pruett, a fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, said: "There are a thousand companies out there that make unmanned vehicles. Why did he choose Aurora? It points out that [it should not be] . . . left to the inclinations of a representative. There should be some standard."
    Indeed. Not only contracting standards but ethical standards, too.

  • Oregon: Given that the Democrats looking to oust Republican Gordon Smith are within single digits of Smith in the polls despite very low name ID, The Hill chronicles what a promising pick-up opportunity Oregon is for Democrats.

  • Montana: Senator Max Baucus raised $1.5 million in Q4-2007, bringing his cash-on-hand to a massive $6.3 million.

  • Louisiana: With GOP Rep. Richard Baker, the dean of Louisiana's congressional delegation, definitely resigning from Congress, it serves as another reminder to Louisianans just how valuable Senator Mary Landrieu's seniority is.

  • New Hampshire: This just in: Sprintin' John Sununu is still way out of touch with Granite State voters.

  • Kentucky: This just in: Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush are, in fact, best friends forever.

  • North Carolina: Senate candidate Jim Neal sits down for a chat at Pam's House Blend.

  • Alaska: GOP Gov. Sarah Palin sends a subtle rebuke Ted Stevens' way.

  • Idaho: Veteran Scott Syme and businessman Richard Phenneger have put up nifty campaign websites, joining rancher Rex Rammell and former Caldwell City Councilman Kent Marmon, along with Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, in the 2008 Republican Senate primary. The winner of the crowded Republican primary, of course, faces Democratic former Congressman Larry LaRocco.

  • Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this get-together of Republican Senators.

  • Hooray for Mitt Romney and the continuation of the Republican circular firing squad!

  • Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    SC-Sen: Introducing Michael Cone

    Last May, I suggested that the 2006 Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, Robert Barber Jr., would be an ideal candidate to challenge Lindsey Graham. In addition to highlighting Barber's strengths, I noted Graham's numerous weaknesses. While a Barber candidacy never materialized, Graham's weaknesses still very much apply.

    Graham supports a historically unpopular president a whopping 91% of the time. He has an atrocious record when it comes to supporting working families and veterans. He has even gone soft on issues like prohibiting torture and accountability in Iraq. And it doesn't help Graham any that in a socially conservative state like South Carolina, rumors about his sexual orientation continue to follow him.

    Graham has found himself in the doghouse with many South Carolinians for pushing immigration reform legislation that numerous Palmetto State Republicans likened to amnesty, so much so that he was booed at his own Party's state convention and that he has been dubbed by conservative commentators "Lindsey Grahamnesty." One South Carolina county Republican committee even voted to censure Graham.

    This discontent with Graham, particularly among his base, has led not only to anti-Graham websites like, Dump Lindsey Graham, Defeat Lindsey Graham, and Toast Graham, but also to significant 2008 Senate primary opposition. Among Graham's growing number of primary opponents are former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Republican National Committee member Buddy Witherspoon. State Representative Jeff Duncan and former Congressman Tommy Hartnett are also publicly considering primary challenges.

    So Lindsey Graham will have to hustle and spend a chunk of his $4 million+ bankroll just to emerge from his primary and win re-nomination. And then he'll have to focus on his Democratic opponent.

    South Carolina might be a red state, and Democrats might not have a deep bench. But that doesn't mean we should count it out just yet. We could be surprised by the 38-year-old attorney Michael Cone. So who is he? According to his professional biography:

    Michael was graduated from The Citadel in May of 1991 and immediately commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy.

    After serving in the Navy in San Diego, California, Michael returned to South Carolina and entered law school in 1997. He was graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in May of 2000 and served as law clerk to the Honorable Paul E. Short, Jr. until August of 2001.

    From August 2001 until January 2006, Michael was an associate with Simpson & Dong, LLC where he practiced civil litigation. While with Simpson & Dong, Michael participated in the prosecution of several class action lawsuits that resulted in beneficial recoveries for South Carolina consumers. He also participated in several appellate cases, including at the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Michael is admitted to the South Carolina Bar, the U. S. District Court for South Carolina, and the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the Charleston County Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Michael has achieved Advocate status in ATLA's Achievement Recognition Program. Michael attends the Church of the Holy Communion (an Anglo-Catholic parish of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.) is a lifetime member of the Citadel Alumni Association, and is a member of the Exchange Club of Charleston.
    His military background offers instant credibility on related matters like Iraq and terrorism, while his legal contacts offer a ready-made fundraising base. What does Cone have to say about South Carolina's status as a red state?

    “I do not buy into this idea that this is a republican state," Cone explained. "This is a very independent state. We have been solidly republican for awhile, but I don’t think that means people are closed to new ideas or closed to the Democratic Party.”

    The system, Cone feels, is failing its people, and that’s why he says if elected, he’ll represent the people.

    “I would represent them and their opinions rather than what I think is best for them.

    I would actually listen to them which I find that Senator Graham doesn’t always do,” he added.
    And he's focusing on issues that will resonate with South Carolina voters:

    Cone says he's against illegal immigration and wants to see some major public works projects aimed at reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.
    Discontent with Lindsey Graham has never been higher. A recent poll by InsiderAdvantage found that his approval rating has sunk to a beleaguered 31% and that his disapproval rating among Republicans has grown to a relatively massive 46%. Graham will have his hands full with a primary featuring numerous opponents, all taking shots at him. And then, should he win re-nomination, he will likely have to face a dynamic young lawyer with a military background and a message that could resonate deeply with disaffected voters. Lindsey Graham is very much on the hot seat, and Michael Cone could prove to be a lot more than just a token name on the Democratic line on the ballot. Keep an eye on this race.

    Tuesday Afternoon Quick Hits

  • On the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, Andrew Rice has crossed $3,000, Larry LaRocco has crossed $1,000, and Tom Allen has crossed $500. The last threshold to get through is putting Rick Noriega over $1,000. We're only $88 away! Please chip in $10 if you can.

  • Mississippi: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour indicates that he has every intention of appealing the circuit court's decision to mandate the special election to replace Trent Lott within 90 days (emphasis added by me):

    "When I set the special U.S. Senate election for November 4, 2008, I felt very strongly that it was the legal and appropriate action under the U.S. and Mississippi Constitutions and state law," Barbour said in a statement Monday. "Nothing in this decision by the Hinds County Circuit Court changes that belief. As I have said all along, the final decision in this case will be made by the Mississippi Supreme Court, and I look forward to that decision."
    Word is that the Mississippi Supreme Court (which is an elected body) is stacked with Barbour cronies. (If Wikipedia's coloration is accurate, it consists of seven Republicans and two Democrats.) I know it's unbelievable that Republicans sitting on a Supreme Court would ever work to screw over Democrats (and, really, all voters) looking for a fair electoral process, but it happens. Stay tuned for developments.

  • New Hampshire: Popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen is taking a pretty common sense stand on energy policy:

    Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen is calling on Washington lawmakers to roll back subsidies for oil and gas companies and invest in renewable energy.
    And what is John Sununu's record? Very much against renewable energy and very much in the corner of Big Oil.

  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley's $619,000 Q4 take was not just a solid haul, but it was also record-breaking. And it was not just record-breaking, but it was competitive with Gordon Smith's $900,000 Q4 take. Of course, Smith has a cash-on-hand bankroll of over $4 million, but as long as Merkley (or whoever the eventual Democratic nominee is) can raise competitively with Smith, the DSCC and its massive fundraising advantage over the NRSC will be there to buttress the Democrat against Smith.

  • Monday, January 14, 2008

    Enormous Monday Night Round-Up

  • Mississippi: A Hinds County Circuit judge invalidated Republican Gov. Haley Barbour's gambit at waiting until November to hold the special election following the resignation of Trent Lott. The judge declared that the special election must occur within 90 days of December 20, 2007, or by March 19, 2008. So much for Barbour's attempt to undercut the law and give fellow Republican Roger Wicker close to a full year of faux-incumbency. While being the appropriate course of action, it has the added benefit of enhancing Democratic prospects at the seat, in the person of either former Governor Ronnie Musgrove or former Congressman Ronnie Shows.

  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley released his Q4-2007 fundraising take, $619,000, with over half a million dollars on hand. The sum roughly triples the Q4 take of primary opponent Steve Novick, who released his first television ad. Also, four primary debates have been confirmed: January 22 and March 7, to which all Democratic primary candidates are invited; and April 5 (sponsored by the League of Women Voters) and April 15 (sponosred by KGW and The Oregonian), for which the hosts will determine who to invite. The primary is on May 20.

  • Maine: Stuart W. Bowen Jr. is the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. His office is under investigation by "the FBI and three other entities for waste and mismanagement." So, of course, he's gallivanting around Maine with Susan Collins, whose record on Iraq oversight is absolutely atrocious and well beyond shameful. Bowen and Collins are quite possibly two of the most responsible people in government for all of the waste, mismanagement, war profiteering, and lack of oversight in Iraq, so they should naturally hang out together. Be sure to check out this powerful YouTube video on the topic.

  • Oklahoma: Compare Andrew Rice's story with Jim Inhofe's record. First, Rice's story, from an e-mail to supporters:

    Our 11-month old son Parker was hospitalized here in Oklahoma City for three days last November with pneumonia. He received excellent care and, like most youngsters his age, he has rebounded very quickly from what was a scary time for all of us. But, that is only half the story.

    One month later we learned that our health insurance company was refusing to pay the $10,000 hospital bill because they said our baby Parker had a "pre-existing condition." I'm not kidding. When we argued that baseless reason away, they changed their excuse to "improper notification" by the treating physician, and said it was not a big deal because the hospital would just "write it off." They don't think it is a "big deal" to avoid providing the coverage we pay them for every month, and instead have the Oklahoma taxpayer foot the bill. That tells you something about how they see the world.

    Not until they learned that Apple is a physician did the insurance company bureaucrats finally admit they had made a mistake and agreed to pay the legitimate claim.
    An 11-month-old with a "pre-existing condition." The insurance companies can be truly unbelievable. And what is Jim Inhofe's record on health care?

    James Inhofe on Health Care
    Voted NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility. (Nov 2007)
    Voted NO on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D. (Apr 2007)
    Voted YES on limiting medical liability lawsuits to $250,000. (May 2006)
    Voted NO on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D. (Feb 2006)
    Voted NO on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics. (Nov 2005)
    Voted NO on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug. (Mar 2005)
    Voted YES on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada. (Jul 2002)
    Voted NO on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages. (Jun 2001)
    Voted YES on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit. (Apr 2001)
    Voted NO on including prescription drugs under Medicare. (Jun 2000)
    Voted YES on limiting self-employment health deduction. (Jul 1999)
    Voted NO on increasing tobacco restrictions. (Jun 1998)
    Voted YES on Medicare means-testing. (Jun 1997)
    Voted NO on blocking medical savings acounts. (Apr 1996)
    Rated 0% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Overall, Inhofe has one of the most hideous records in the history of the U.S. Senate when it comes to health care. Seriously, who do you trust to look out for families more? Rice or Inhofe?

  • Minnesota: More evidence that Norm Coleman is a disingenuous opportunist. Party unity score by year: 2003 92%, 2004 91%, 2005 77%, 2006 77%, 2007 64%. The closer Coleman gets to his election year, the more he tries to distance himself from his Republican Party affiliation. Meanwhile, Al Franken has released his first two TV ads, "Mrs. Molin" and "I'm Running." "Mrs. Molin" is one of the most clever introductory spots I've seen in a while.

  • North Carolina: Businessman Jim Neal's 2008 Senate campaign had a Q4-2007 take of $210,000, less than 40% of State Senator Kay Hagan's Q4 take of $561,000. Elizabeth Dole is reporting a Q4 take of about $1.1 million.

  • Tennessee: While attorney Kevin Doherty continues to ponder a 2008 Senate bid, activist Chris Lugo, formerly of the Green Party and described by TennViews as "the Dennis Kucinich of Tennessee politics," is entering the race as a Democrat.

  • Massachusetts: I would love it if Jim Ogonowski ran for Senate in Massachusetts. He has just enough cachet from his Congressional defeat to possibly tempt the NRSC into dropping a few bucks into the Bay State.

  • About four out of every five Americans want to change course from the George W. Bush path. I don't think that bodes well for Republicans running for office in 2008.