Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July Senate Approval Numbers from Survey USA

SUSA is up with their July numbers.

New July numbers in bold, 6/19/07 numbers in italics, 5/24/07 numbers in arrows, 4/24/07 in brackets, 11/22/06 in parenthesis

Norm Coleman: 43-48 48-41 <51-42> [53-41] (48-43)
John Cornyn: No July numbers up 42-43 <46-40> [43-40] (45-42)
Pete Domenici: 55-41 51-42 <52-42> [54-38] (68-25)
Mitch McConnell: 48-44 52-42 <54-39> [53-40] (54-39)
Pat Roberts: 52-34 51-37 <52-36> [48-39] (51-36)
Jeff Sessions: 58-33 59-33 <60-31> [54-36] (58-32)
Gordon Smith: 48-43 47-45 <48-39> [51-41] (54-37)
John Warner: 53-40 53-34 <62-29> [55-33] (60-28)

Tom Harkin: 55-38 51-38 <56-36> [57-38] (53-40)
John Kerry: 52-42 50-46 <47-47> [54-41] (48-50)

1) Democrats Harkin and Kerry continue to appear very safe.
2) Domenici's free-fall appears to have stopped.
3) While John Warner's approval remains stable, his disapproval has shot up.
4) Best news: Coleman and McConnell see their worst approvals ever and Smith remains in the danger zone.

Republicans Fading

  • Alaska: Could the end be nigh for Ted Stevens? Yesterday, the FBI and IRS raided the home of Ted Stevens "hauling off undisclosed items from inside and taking extensive pictures and video." For a terrific summary of events surrounding RenovationGate leading up to yesterday's bombshell, check out TPM's video compilation. Meanwhile, it is being reported that the FBI and the Department of the Interior are investigating earmarks that Stevens has pushed through in recent years. Calls are now being made for Stevens to relinquish his powerful committee seats until the conclusion of these investigations, a step similar to what occurs in the House of Representatives under similar circumstances. To say that this is looking bad for Stevens is an understatement. No word yet on when we can expect a statement of findings or any further action from the FBI, IRS, Department of the Interior, Senate Ethics Committee, or Mitch McConnell's office. The Nation offers a thorough rundown of the political implications and possible Democratic challengers to Stevens.

  • Minnesota: Things are also looking bad for Smilin' Norm Coleman. A Survey USA poll back in February, as Al Franken and Mike Ciresi were just entering the 2008 Senate race, had Coleman up over 20 points. Those 20-plus-point leads over Franken and Ciresi have shrunk to single digits according to Survey USA, with Coleman leading Franken 49-42 and leading Ciresi 48-42. Meanwhile, Ciresi continues on the attack against Coleman, and pundits are beginning to take the comedian Franken quite seriously.

  • Oklahoma: Could Jim "In Denial" Inhofe be on the brink of facing a dynamic, young-but-experienced Democratic challenger? is reporting that "it now seems likely State Senator Andrew Rice will soon be filing papers to challenge U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe in the 2008 election." The report adds, "Rice still says he will make a formal announcement after Labor Day but fundraising prospects have surpassed his expectations and sources close to him say he may be “all in” within the next 10 days." State Senator Rice has a truly extraordinary background, from humanitarian work in Sri Lanka and India to attending Harvard Divinity School to his non-profit work to enhance democracy to his service in the Oklahoma State Senate. Given that Inhofe's approval last clocked in at a lousy 46-41, we could see the makings of an upset in the works. Good luck, Senator Rice!

  • Colorado: Republican "Backwards" Bob Schaffer has invited the appearance of impropriety as it has come out that he failed to disclose his involvement with the owner of a for-profit education company who contributed to Schaffer's campaign after Schaffer cast a deciding vote on the Colorado state Board of Education to grant contracts to his company. This looks really bad for Schaffer. We'll have to wait and see if Schaffer returns the company's owner's contributions, at the very least, and/or if there is a formal investigation to uncover any possible quid-pro-quo.

  • Oregon: The OR-Dems are taking Gordon Smith to task on SalmonGate. Outside of Oregon, this may not seem like a big deal, but inside Oregon this is huge. Smith's efforts contributed to the decimation of fishing businesses in Oregon, and Smith has been conspicuously silent on the issue as a Congressional investigation on the issue approaches. Stay tuned.

  • New Mexico: Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias will be offering testimony to the House Ethics Committee regarding Rep. Heather Wilson's role in the Attorney Purge scandal. Could similar testimony to the Senate Ethics Committee regarding Pajamas Pete Domenici's role be far behind?

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is expected to campaign with corrupt Ernie Fletcher during August. If McConnell wants to tie himself to a guy who was indicted by a grand jury and then pardoned everyone in his administration, I imagine the KY-Dems welcome it.

  • Illinois: Presenting himself as an "every-man," Republican trucker Mike Psak is entering the 2008 Senate race against Senator Richard Durbin. Psak has a campaign website up where he lists as his three agenda items: 1) Eliminate toll booths nationwide; 2) Eliminate pork-barrel spending; and, 3) Make the Labor Code fair. He also offers a broader rundown of standard conservative positions. Psak would likely face a primary against Dr. Steve Sauerberg, another political unknown. The IL-GOP earlier searched for a wealthy, self-funding candidate. Maybe they would be better off with an every-man who voters may be able to identify with, not that I want to be in the business of offering the IL-GOP any advice.

  • Senate Republicans put partisanship over providing health care for sick children. That is a fact.

  • Monday, July 30, 2007

    Monday Tidbits

  • Meteor Blades updates us on "Iraq by the Numbers." Truly chilling.

  • New Hampshire: The New Hampshire Democratic Party has put up - its purpose is self-explanatory. Check it out!

  • Oregon: Gordon Smith's economic policies promise to create jobs. In reality, though, Gordon Smith's economic policies benefit the companies that are laying off workers.

  • Kentucky: The protest against Mitch McConnell continues around the clock.

  • Alabama: In its first post in a month and a half, Blue Sparks in Alabama wonders if there is still a chance for a 2008 Senate candidacy for Commissioner Ron Sparks. Though only ajar very slightly, the door is not sealed shut.

  • Kansas: In a shout-out to McCarthyism, the KS-GOP has reportedly established a "Loyalty Committee." This follows earlier reports of the KS-GOP's Unity Pledge.

  • It really is impressive how many Senators won despite being outspent by their opponent:

    Jon L. Kyl (R-AZ) $11,515,904
    Jim Pederson (D-AZ) $12,314,616

    Ben Cardin (D-MD) $6,178,734
    Michael Steele (R-MD) $6,249,753

    Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) $7,383,982
    Mark Kennedy (R-MN) $8,653,298

    Claire McCaskill (D-MO) $8,475,845
    James M. Talent (R-MO) $19,408,892

    Jon Tester (D-MT) $3,798,401
    Conrad Burns (R-MT) $7,528,560

    Ben Nelson (D-NE) $7,497,973
    Pete Ricketts (R-NE) $11,302,078

    Sherrod Brown (D-OH) $8,954,433
    Mike DeWine (R-OH) $11,807,805

    Bob Casey (D-PA) $13,666,117
    Rick Santorum (R-PA) $24,101,782

    Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) $4,423,607
    Lincoln D. Chafee (R-RI) $4,532,329

    James Webb (D-VA) $4,222,625
    George Allen (R-VA) $13,435,527

    Bernie Sanders (I-VT) $5,390,243
    Richard E. Tarrant (R-VT) $6,510,341
    I'm not saying that it's good to have less campaign cash available, obviously. I'm just saying that you don't have to outspend your opponent to win. Heck, Jim Talent and Rick Santorum spent over $10 million more than Claire McCaskill and Bob Casey, and George Allen outspent Jim Webb by over $9 million. Money isn't everything. (But it helps!) (HT: Left in Alabama)

  • Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Sunday Morning Tidbits

  • Alaska: TPM offers a terrific video recapping Lisa Murkowski's recent sweetheart land deal scandal. It turns out that a "conservative-leaning" government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Murkowski over the land deal, which "amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000." So, to try to weasel her way out of further incrimination, she sold the land back. Since the misdeed wasn't just owning ill-gotten land, but rather the original inappropriate "sweetheart deal," I trust that simply selling the land back doesn't absolve her. And the AK-GOP corruption train keeps on chugging.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell let slip another gem recently:

    "Our image is largely made by the president," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters last week. "And the president does enjoy - suffer from, shall I say - poor standing."
    Is this McConnell's way of easing Bush under the bus? Is McConnell trying to further lower GOP expectations in 2008? Or is this just a brief shot of realism? Keep in mind, McConnell also recently noted:

    "It would take an extraordinarily good day to get back up to 50," McConnell said. "So our goal is to stay roughly where we are."
    There's that Republican optimism I keep hearing so much about!

  • Alabama: Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but it doesn't sound like Commissioner Ron Sparks has entirely ruled out a 2008 Senate bid against Jeff Sessions in his own mind, under the right conditions:

    Lennox revisited the issue of Sparks future plans to run for another office. Sparks said he (the host) would be the first one to get a call when he decides. He said "I wish I could decide today" and mentioned Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate and Congress. He also talked about how unpleasant it is to make fundraising calls and how he wished the system was different, but those are the rules that you have to play by.

    At no point in this interview did Ron Sparks rule out the Senate race. He talked again about not wanting to run in a primary. He mentioned that he had been assured someone else (we know that is state Sen. Vivian Figures) was going to run. He said he "wished he could decide today" but he didn't say anything approaching "I am not going to run for U.S. Senate."
    There may be further conversations yet between Sparks and Figures.

  • Montana: The MT-Dems' annual convention is coming up and Senator Max Baucus is expected to headline the show, getting the Party faithful enthused for the 2008 election cycle. It shouldn't be too hard - this disgrace is Baucus' likely Republican opponent.

  • Saturday, July 28, 2007

    Saturday Night Quick Hits

  • Young people like Democrats far more than Republicans. I wonder how that works into the GOP's long-term plans.

  • New Mexico: The complete story behind the firing of former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias is beginning to come to light, and it's bad news for Pajamas Pete Domenici.

  • Georgia: Is Saxby Chambliss using the list of people who contact his Senate office regarding official government business inappropriately for fundraising? All the more reason that there is no incumbent in 2008 I'd more like to see lose than "Shameless" (or "Spineless") Saxby Chambliss.

  • Maine: MyDD's Singer offers an interview with Democratic Congressman and current Senate candidate Tom Allen that really doesn't pull any punches.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is either a chronic liar or dumbfoundingly ignorant. Or both. Neither befits a U.S. Senator.

  • Nebraska: It looks like Nebraska's Republican Senate primary just got another addition.

  • Get your creative juices flowing because John Kerry is running a contest to elicit the most effective radio ad to run against the Roadblock Republicans. Check it out!

  • Friday, July 27, 2007

    Is the GOP Getting Even More Worried?

  • Stu Rothenberg put out his latest Senate ratings this morning. There are four categories: Currently Safe (including 10 of 12 Democrats and only 11 of 22 Republicans); Clear Advantage for Incumbent Party (including Democrat Tim Johnson and five Republicans, from NC, NM, NE, KY and AK); Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party (including Democrat Mary Landrieu and three Republicans, from MN, ME, and OR); and Toss-Up (including zero Democrats and three Republican seats, from CO, NH, and VA).

    Two items really struck me. First, Virginia is considered a "Toss-Up." Now, given John Warner's virtually non-extistent fundraising, one can easily speculate that he will retire. But, would that alone put Virginia in the Toss-Up category? That alone might more likely put it in the Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party category - unless Rothenberg has some inside dope on popular former Governor Mark Warner's 2008 intentions. Something to keep an eye out for. The second item that struck me was South Dakota's Tim Johnson being situated in the Clear, rather than "Narrow," Advantage for Incumbent Party. Rothenberg must think that Johnson will likely run for re-election and that super-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds won't challenge him.

  • Republican pessimism appears to be on the rise, according to The Hill:

    Nine months after Republicans were routed in the midterm elections, campaign observers, K Street lobbyists and political experts say there is little evidence the party can rebound in 2008.

    The same bad news — the president’s low approval ratings, opposition to the war in Iraq, and the lingering taint of congressional scandal, from the Jack Abramoff investigation to Sen. David Vitter’s (La.) involvement with the alleged “D.C. Madam” — leave observers skeptical that the GOP can dent Democratic majorities, let alone reclaim power in the next election.

    “The only thing that has changed is that everything that was bad got worse,” said Bernadette Budde, political director of the Business Industry Political Action Committee. BIPAC supports business-friendly candidates of both parties, though most of the group’s donations go to Republicans.

    If the election were held today, “We’d be lucky to hold our own,” one House Republican said.
    Regardless of Presidential campaign dynamics (which are impacted by the same issues that impact the legislative races), 2008 could very likely be a repeat of 2006.

  • Minnesota: Republicans must be very worried about Al Franken. Of course, challengers will often take shots at incumbents to bring them down as the challengers try to compete. But I don't remember a situation when the incumbent Party took such direct shots at a challenger this early in a cycle, especially in a competitive primary! The only reasonable conclusion is that Republicans are very worried about Franken. (Unless someone wants to throw the stunningly insightful "reverse psychology" bunk out there.)

  • Louisiana: Want a hearty laugh? At a recent Senate Republican policy lunch, prostitute-enthusiast David Vitter offered his thoughts on how to improve Republicans' image. You'd think that would be a story from The Onion, but, no, it really happened.

  • Kentucky: Ditch Mitch KY nails Mitch McConnell for an op-ed that reeks of political desperation, from not-too-subtly beginning with "After the horror of September 11" and repeatedly taking aim at nameless "liberals" and "elites." These McConnell Republicans really don't have that many tactics in their political arsenal.

  • Oregon: Kos gives his take on what should be a very positive, productive Democratic Senate primary in Oregon between Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley and political activist Steve Novick (with the potential for other candidates still!). I trust it will provide a relentless barrage against Gordon Smith's real record.

  • Alabama: Commissioner Ron Sparks really is a rock star. I hope he reconsiders and enters the race to defeat Bush rubber-stamp Jeff Sessions.

  • Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Thursday Rundown

  • It seems that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on every single issue. Oh, and Democrats actually support the troops, not just pay lip service to it.

  • There's a saying in sports: "The team that wants it more will win." Well, compare these Senators' Q2 outlays to their respective Senate Campaign Committees and tell me who wants it more:

    Notable contributions to the DSCC from campaign committees of or “leadership PACs” associated with Democratic senators
    • Dianne Feinstein of California: $250,000
    • Bill Nelson of Florida: $150,000
    • Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada: $50,000
    • Robert Menendez of New Jersey: $50,000
    • Patty Murray of Washington: $50,000
    • Sherrod Brown of Ohio: $25,000
    • Follow the North Star Fund PAC (Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota): $15,000
    • JAZZ PAC (Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana): $10,000 ...

    Notable contributions to the NRSC from “leadership PACs” associated with Republican senators
    • Hawkeye PAC (Charles E. Grassley of Iowa): $15,000
    • Heartland Values PAC (John Thune of South Dakota): $7,500
    • KITPAC (Christopher S. Bond of Missouri): $15,000
    • North Star Leadership PAC (Norm Coleman of Minnesota): $7,500
    • Preserving America’s Traditions (Pat Roberts of Kansas): $10,000
    I think who wants it more is clear. And if you think the DSCC's massive fundraising advantage over the NRSC isn't already paying dividends, note the "notable transfers" section for both committees. The DSCC has sent $50,000 to the NH-Dems, $20,000 to the ME-Dems and $15,000 to the CO-Dems. The NRSC has no listed "notable transfers."

  • Oregon: The Associated Press is reporting that "Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley plans to file notice with the Federal Election Commission by Aug. 1 that he'll be running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Gordon Smith." (HT: MyDD) This is not 100% until Merkley comes back from his current family vacation and files the papers, but it's a great sign. The Hill echoes the expectation that Merkley will announce next week. Loaded Orygun has the scoop on the already-assembling Merkley campaign team.

  • Alaska: The inevitable implosion of Stevens-Murkowski-Young trifecta of corruption is accelerating.

  • Virginia: Raising Kaine offers some (recreational use only!) odds on who will win Virginia's 2008 Senate race. The odds hold that Mark Warner wouldn't run against John Warner, meaning that if John runs for re-elect, he wins, and that if John retires and Mark runs, he wins. At 10,000-to-1, I'd think about putting $1 on Ben Affleck.

  • Alabama: For what it's worth, earlier speculation of State Senator Vivian Figures' hesitation on a 2008 Senate challenge to Jeff Sessions may be overstated as word is that she may be in the process of assembling a campaign team.

  • Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    Wednesday Tidbits

  • Oregon: It looks like Oregon state House Speaker Jeff Merkley is about to formally enter the 2008 Senate race against Gordon Smith. Meanwhile, Steve Novick holds Gordon Smith to the 50-mark. Despite earlier recruitment setbacks, Smith is far from out of the woods.

  • Kentucky: Bad news for Mitch McConnell: he's looking at his worst approval ratings ever (at 48-44) just as Democrats are entering the race! Speaking of, WaPo's Cillizza looks at state Attorney General Greg Stumbo's strengths and weaknesses in a campaign against McConnell and comes to the conclusion that "this race has potential despite McConnell's significant political chops and fundraising capacity." Meanwhile, The Hill suggests that the 2007 gubernatorial race in Kentucky could "hamstring" Democratic fundraising for candidates challenging McConnell. I'd counter that there will be enough time left in the year after the election for Senate candidates to get their asks in, and they'll likely enjoy momentum from a new Democratic Governor. Much to look forward to.

  • Minnesota: Uh-oh! Norm Coleman's disapproval has climbed to an atrocious 48%.

  • Massachusetts: The Boston Herald offers a John Kerry challenger-watch:

    A slew of Republican names have been kicked around, including former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Harvard Pilgrim honcho Charlie Baker, radio host Peter Blute, former Bush chief of staff Andy Card, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and even Brockton convenience store kingpin Christy Mihos.

    The latest name being floated by GOP types is Pioneer Institute director Jim Stergios, the former undersecretary of the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. One insider said Stergios was approached recently by some top GOP fund-raisers and is considering jumping in.
    Note to the NRSC: Massachusetts can be competitive. You just have to drop a few million bucks there. Do it!

  • Alaska: The Alaska Congressional delegation corruption pyramid is percolating.

  • Texas: Have fun playing dress-up with John Cornyn.

  • Fox "News" has a grand tradition of repeatedly changing the facts of a situation, like the Party affiliation of wayward Republicans. As such, Rising Hegemon offers this satirical look at Fox News through the 'early years.'

  • Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Tuesday Round-Up

  • A couple of ominous signs for Republicans running for office: 1) When you add up the fundraising takes of campaign committees and candidates for federal office, Democrats currently have a $100 million edge in the 2008 cycle; and 2) People overwhelmingly blame Republicans more than Democrats for war, global warming, prejudice, poverty, and corruption. Heavy. Oh, and it shouldn't be pleasant news to Republican Senators up for re-election in 2008 that Bush's new "plan" will apparently guarantee prolonging the Iraq War well past Election Day 2008. All of this could be why Americans overwhelmingly want Democrats making the decisions instead of Bush on Iraq now.

  • Kentucky: State Attorney General Greg Stumbo has filed papers to proceed with a Senate exploratory committee to potentially challenge Mitch McConnell in 2008. Still no word from businessman Charlie Owen or attorney Andrew Horne on possible bids. However, there is now talk that two-time gubernatorial primary loser Bruce Lunsford might be interested in a Senate bid.

  • Oregon: Once again, Gordon Smith casts his lot with George W. Bush rather than seek leverage to effect change.

  • Alaska: Appearance-of-impropriety maven Ted Stevens has declared that he will not respond to any questions with the word "investigation" in them. With all of the rumbling scandals being looked into in Alaska, the AK-GOP has the potential to implode worse than anything we saw out of the OH-GOP. Meanwhile, it looks like the Club for Growth could be sniffing around for a primary challenger to back against Stevens. That would be fun.

  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman is taking some bad local press on the chin:

    Six months ago, I praised Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman for seeming to back away from the Kool-Aid vat on Iraq.

    I spoke too soon. The Iraq quagmire has gone from bad to worse, but Norm is still wearing a Kool-Aid mustache.
    We'd hate to see Kool-Aid stain Smilin' Norm's pearly whites. Unfortunately, he continues to back the status quo of Bush's failed policies in Iraq instead of working for change. (HT: MN Blue)

  • Alabama: Oy. Last month, seeking a unified Democratic Party, Commissioner Ron Sparks withdrew from consideration over a Senate challenge to Jeff Sessions, defering to State Senator Vivian Figures, despite major buzz over a Sparks candidacy. Now, we see State Senator Figures dragging her feet over a campaign announcement. She says a decision will come "within a month or so." Unbelievably frustrating on many levels.

  • MyDD's Singer looks at a Roll Call article discussing overall money woes for the NRSC. I think the big story that shouldn't be overlooked is Republican stinginess:

    Last month, the NRSC received nothing in transfers from Senators' campaign committees. GOP Senators chipped in $55,000 in June from their leadership political action committees, and only one Member wrote a personal check to the committee - $28,500 from Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.).

    According to figures compiled by Democrats, the NRSC collected $292,500 in contributions from GOP Senators through the end of May. By contrast, the DSCC took in $820,000 from Senators through May, and committee officials estimate that the number topped $1 million by the end of June.
    It's almost like Republican Senators want to remain in the minority. It was no different under Elizabeth Dole's chairing of the NRSC. I'm glad to see things remaining the same under Ensign.

  • Monday, July 23, 2007

    Monday Quick Hits

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell is caught quite literally sleeping on the job. Y'know, Mitch, our soldiers in the Middle East don't get the luxury of catnaps whenever they'd like them. But it's good to see that you take your duty so seriously. Keep an eye out, though. Democratic State Attorney General Greg Stumbo will announce a decision on a Senate challenge to McConnell "soon."

  • Maine: Turn Maine Blue catches sloppy local reporting on Susan Collins' votes. This is exactly the kind of inaccurate "journalism" that will help Collins muddy (and, therefore, run away from) her record on Iraq and other issues. Meanwhile, Collins Watch rightly takes issue with a Portland Press Herald article that seems to confuse Collins' clinging to the status quo of Bush's failed policies in Iraq as some kind of "moderate" position.

  • New Mexico: If retired Lieutenant Colonel Harold Teeter is any indication, Pajamas Pete Domenici is losing his base.

  • Nebraska: Republican Hal Daub is making the rounds as he considers a Senate race. I don't know how well it's going. He stopped in Columbus, Nebraska's tenth most populous city (between 21,000 and 22,000 residents), for a two-hour issue discussion (we're not talking a 20-minute grip-and-grin) and only got "about 35" people to come. It's not quite so early in the process anymore. Perhaps his crowds should be bigger than three dozen at this point.

  • Oregon: While we continue to ponder who may enter the Oregon Senate race, political organizer Stacey Dycus offers a thoughtful profile of announced candidate Steve Novick.

  • Newsweek's look at Presidential candidates' bumper stickers is pretty interesting. The best line, on Mitt Romney: "This looks like the bumper sticker of someone who's not going to win."

  • Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Sunday Tidbits

  • McClatchy lays out Senate Republicans' record-paced obstructionism and provides us with the graphic to the right (emphasis added by me):

    This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress. ...

    Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

    Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

    By sinking a cloture vote this week, Republicans successfully blocked a Democratic bid to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by April, even though a 52-49 Senate majority voted to end debate. ...

    Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.
    There was a time, I like to call it "2005," when Republicans decried blocking up-or-down votes. I guess this is just another case of Republicans hypocritically not holding themselves to their own standards. (HT: C&L and TP)

  • New Hamshpire: Blue Hampshire catches Sprintin' John Sununu in a massive case of denial on Iraq vs. the War on Terror and on 2008 political dynamics. Meanwhile, the Concord Monitor profiles Senate candidate, professor and former astronaut Jay Buckey.

  • Virginia: Word is, popular former Governor Mark Warner is thinking about running for office soon.

  • Kentucky: What? You haven't seen any negative local press on Mitch McConnell in the last five minutes? Well, the Louisville Courier-Journal delivers:

    If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is upset about being portrayed as a blinkered partisan, maybe he should try something new.

    It's called leadership.

    And there is no more important issue on which to exhibit it than on the Iraq war. But instead of living up to his title, Sen. McConnell prefers to bury his head in the sand and ignore facts on the ground, not to mention the public's dwindling support for this conflict.
    And it goes on and on. Do read the whole thing. (HT: DMKY)

  • Michael Moore will be liveblogging on Crooks & Liars at 4pm Eastern today. Check it out and bring questions. And then see SiCKO. Again.

  • Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Saturday Quick Hits

  • New Hampshire: Think Progress has video of Sprintin' John Sununu explaining why he wouldn't want Bush campaigning for him: "I think the President's popularity unfortunately is - is at a fairly low level. Certainly it's not very high in New Hampshire." I guess Sununu is finally going to campaign based on polls.

  • Louisiana: Crooks & Liars follows the David Vitter prostitute scandal from sex to hypocrisy to breaking the law.

  • Georgia: Ecologist Dr. Rand Knight offers an update on his 2008 Senate campaign in Georgia.

  • Watch this YouTube clip of college Republicans being interviewed at their national convention. I don't know if it's funny, disheartening or creepy.

  • Friday, July 20, 2007

    Friday Night Round-Up

  • WaPo's Cillizza has his latest Senate Line up. Highlights include another 8-to-2 GOP-to-Dem ratio in the top 10 list, as well as the first appearance of Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, while South Dakota continues to sit in the ninth spot. If Senator Tim Johnson comes back strong in September and looks solid for re-election (and super-conservative GOP Gov. Mike Rounds publicly rules out a Senate bid), we could reasonably see a 9-to-1 GOP-to-Dem ratio in the Line this autumn.

  • One of the things I love most about America is the right of Americans to civilly voice their discontent with their elected officials.

  • Louisiana: At long last, a formal ethics complaint has been filed against prostitute-lovin' Republican David Vitter for breaking the law. Big-time conservatives are calling for Vitter to resign. In fact, here's the video of Hannity's statement. Meanwhile, the DC Madam is calling for Vitter to be a witness at her trial. Now, that would be the squirm-inducing event of the year! (TPM also mentions that Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hasn't removed Vitter from his role with the Giuliani campaign. That's not a surprise since Giuliani is also an adulterer. Republicans of a feather...) Vitter's "sins" have led to the limerick of the year, courtesy of Senator John Kerry:

    “There once was a man named Vitter/Who vowed that he wasn’t a quitter/But with stories of women/And all of his sinnin’/He knows his career’s in the — oh, never mind,” Kerry said.
    Hilarious. Almost as hilarious as David Vitter calling for other elected officials to resign following their marital infidelities, only to have Vitter admit to cheating on his wife with prostitutes, allegedly while wearing diapers. Almost that hilarious.

  • Kentucky: Republican Senate "Leader" Mitch McConnell is already lowering expectations for Election Day 2008, more than fifteen months out:

    During a press conference today, Mitch McConnell said that the political map for 2008, with 22 Republican seats up for election compared to only 12 Democratic seats, means the odds are against the GOP getting back into the majority. "It would take an extraordinarily good day to get back up to 50," McConnell said. "So our goal is to stay roughly where we are."
    That's not too shocking. McConnell's unwavering support for Bush's Iraq debacle has taught us that if there's one thing Mitch McConnell can get behind, it's the status quo.

  • New Hampshire: Not only does the latest UNH poll see popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen up 16 points on Sprintin' John Sununu, 54-38, but the poll also sees both Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and activist Katrina Swett within the margin of error against Sununu, making for a statistical dead heat. So, even if Governor Shaheen decides against a 2008 Senate bid, there is no doubt that Sununu is in quite a bit of electoral hot water. Blue Hampshire comically catches the Chair of the NH-GOP blaming it all on the "national mood," as opposed to any of Sununu's many votes out of step with mainstream New Hampshire on Iraq, stem cells, and countless other issues.

    Meanwhile, it looks like Bush's low approvals have Sununu's advisors skittish, as they must have coached him on this most recent turnaround. Four days ago:

    In New Hampshire, Sununu eventually conceded that he would accept the president's help.

    "Of course, I am hoping to accept any Republican support," he said, slipping through a members-only escape hatch, an emergency exit off the Senate floor.
    Today's change of heart:

    New Hampshire Senator John Sununu said he wouldn't campaign with George W. Bush next year ``in this climate'' because of the president's low job-approval ratings.

    Sununu, a Republican facing a tough re-election, said "the president's popularity, unfortunately, is at a fairly low level." He spoke in an interview with Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt," scheduled to air today.

    Bush campaigned for Sununu in New Hampshire twice during the 2002 election, when Sununu beat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor, by about 20,000 votes. Shaheen, who hasn't declared her candidacy, led Sununu 56 percent to 34 percent in a Concord Monitor poll of likely voters conducted this month.
    See John Run. Run John, Run.

  • Oregon: Reports have Democratic polling showing that Oregon's Democratic state House Speaker Jeff Merkley is holding Republican Gordon Smith to "well below 50 percent in a head-to-head matchup" and that Merkley is "within six points of Smith." If confirmed, this would be very heartening news out of Oregon.

  • Maine: The Portland Press Herald offers the latest bad local press for Susan Collins (emphasis is added by me):

    Rather than back Levin-Reed, which would require President Bush to withdraw all but a "limited presence" of troops to train Iraqis and secure U.S. interests in Iraq, Collins has co-authored a proposal with Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

    That measure "would immediately require the President to change the mission of our troops away from combat and toward counter-terrorism operations, border security, and training Iraqi forces," Collins said in her news release.

    What it wouldn't do, unlike Levin-Reed, is set a hard date by which the president must complete said change. The plan's March 30 date for "redeployment," Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley said, is more "a goal" than a hard deadline.

    (Nor would Collins' proposal prevent Bush from declaring all of Operation Iraqi Freedom a "counterterrorism operation" and otherwise ignoring Congress' attempt to intervene.)

    Collins also backs the Iraq Study Group's various political, economic and military proposals – but again, no deadlines.

    In short, Collins' Iraq position is long on indignation about the Bush administration's bumbling of the war, but short on leverage that actually might force a change in course.
    In other news, Collins apparently hates progressive bloggers.

  • New Mexico: Could Pajamas Pete Domenici get a primary challenger?! It wouldn't be shocking given that Domenici continues to get thumped on Iraq, is still feeling the heat for his role in the Attorney Purge scandal, and is actually inviting Bush to come fundraise for him! Oh, in case you were wondering, Bush's approve-disapprove in New Mexico stands at a hideous 30-68. I hope Bush makes several high-profile trips to New Mexico for Domenici!

  • Minnesota: While he shouldn't be referring to people like Gordon Smith as "responsible," Al Franken does offer a very powerful ad in the Minnesota print media. Very powerful.

  • New Jersey: Senator Frank Lautenberg should have a MySpace page:

    "I'm in excellent health," says 83-year-old Lautenberg, who still puts in 12-hour days, downhill skis and sneaks in a round of golf when his schedule allows.
    Lautenberg is more active than me and most New Jerseyans for crying out loud!

  • North Carolina: With North Carolinians overwhelmingly supporting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, the polling firm wonders when Elizabeth Dole will throw Bush under the bus.

  • Idaho: For Bush rubber-stamp Larry Craig, it's all about the oil.

  • The DSCC is soliciting input on a sneak preview of their new website. Check it out and offer your thoughts!

  • Bill Maher once again nails it. The analogy: Our Founding Fathers:Thoughtful::George W. Bush:Simple

  • Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Thursday Quick Hits

  • Larry Sabato offers his latest look at the 2008 Senate races, and makes the very safe judgment that seven seats will be "probably competitive contests": CO, ME, MN,NH, and OR for the GOP, and LA and SD for the Dems. Yawn. At least Sabato notes retirement possibilities among Stevens, Craig, Cochran, Hagel, and Warner, as well as references Stevens' and Domenici's scandals and Dole's "shaky" footing.

  • Maine: Back in 2002, Susan Collins loved George W. Bush and the politics of Iraq. Susan, what's changed? Aren't you going to have George W. Bush come to Maine and stump for you and discuss how well things are going in Iraq? To answer that, all Collins can sputter is, "I don't anticipate ... well, who knows?" Fortunately, Democratic Congressman Tom Allen provides Mainers with a clear choice and the opportunity for real leadership. And it doesn't hurt that Allen was right all along while Collins was more than content to vote the way Bush wanted her to.

  • Oregon: Want to spread the word about Gordon Smith's real record to Oregonians? Then download a handy flyer here with key Smith details:

    * Gordon Smith votes with President Bush 90 percent of the time.
    * Gordon Smith has a 15 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
    * Gordon Smith has a 14 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters.
    * Gordon Smith has voted more than 20 times to fund and authorize the Iraq War
    That's the real Gordon Smith record.

  • Colorado: In a demonstration of solid journalism, CBS-4 Denver calls the NRSC on its hackneyed ad against Congressman Mark Udall for being full of lies and half-truths. Excerpts include (emphasis added by me):


    Reality Check Begins

    The claim is false. He didn't vote to raise taxes, he voted against a tax cut passed by a Republican Congress and vetoed by President Clinton. While critics say Udall's vote had the same effect as supporting higher taxes, the fact remains, Udall voted to maintain the status quo, which is not the same as voting for a tax hike. ...

    The ad also fails to mention that Udall voted for two modest tax cut measures offered by Democrats as an alternative to the Republican bill. ...


    The claim that Udall voted against those tax relief measures is true. Udall thought it was too much tax relief going to the wealthy. But he did agree with some of it, and voted for a democratically sponsored amendment that offered a much more scaled back tax cut.
    I know, I know. You're as shocked as I am that the NRSC would stoop to misleading voters on Democrats' voting records. But it happens. Kudos to CBS-4 Denver for their diligence.

  • Rhode Island: The Providence Journal declares that "Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is probably in the best position to win reelection in 2008 of almost any incumbent senator." With the possible exception of Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi, I'd agree with ProJo's assessment. Speaking of, expect an updated list of Senators up for re-election in 2008 ranked by vulnerability coming from the Guru soon.

  • Idaho: I've said it before and I'll say it again: Larry Craig really is an idiot. He seems bored; perhaps he should retire from the Senate.

  • Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Wednesday Round-Up

  • Last night's marathon Senate session on Iraq led to another Republican obstruction, with a majority of Senators voting to proceed to a vote on Reed-Levin but not enough to overcome the 60-vote threshold forced by obstructionist Senate Republicans. Amongst those still fighting against any change in the status quo to Bush's Iraq War:

    Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, John Cornyn, Larry Craig, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, Lindsay Graham, Jim Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, Ted Stevens, John Sununu and John Warner.

    You know when a sports team hits a point when they realize they can't make the playoffs, so they just throw games to improve their position in the offseason draft? That seems to be what John Sununu is doing - he (correctly) figures that he can't win re-election with his voting record, so he might as well be as loyal to the right-wing Republican base as possible, hoping for a golden parachute after Election Day 2008. Oh, and the next time Coleman or Domenici or Warner suggest that they'd like to see a change in Iraq policy, you'll know the real deal.

    The Carpetbagger Report offers a few examples of the embarrassingly sloppy job by the media of covering the Republican obstruction.

  • It's almost comical how toxic some Republican Senators consider Bush to be. On the question of whether Bush will be doing any fundraising for them, Susan Collins sputters, Gordon Smith put the idea on ice, and, true to form, John Sununu literally runs away:

    In New Hampshire, Sununu eventually conceded that he would accept the president's help.

    "Of course, I am hoping to accept any Republican support," he said, slipping through a members-only escape hatch, an emergency exit off the Senate floor.
  • CQPolitics offers a broad look at Senators' campaign finances. Just more numbers for those who enjoy such things.

  • Louisiana: In case you were wondering why we should re-elect Mary Landrieu to the U.S. Senate, watch this video. She politely but forcefully reminds Republicans that debating and voting are not "stunts" but rather the actual jobs of U.S. Senators. Meanwhile, David Vitter is literally running away from the press and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that the Vitter scandal should have "a full airing."

  • Oregon: The DSCC released a poll with the following results on Republican Gordon Smith:

    Excellent job 6%
    Good job 31%
    Only fair job 38%
    Poor job 16%
    Don't Know 9%

    Re-elect Smith 34%
    Consider someone else 24%
    Vote to replace Smith 21%
    Don't know 21%
    It's a partisan poll, so take it with a grain of salt. That said, it evidences seemingly shallow support, what support there is, for Gordon Smith. Also, Blue Oregon's Alworth completes his three-part series on Oregon state House Speaker and possible Senate candidate Jeff Merkley and Oregon Public Broadcasting offers a thorough look at Merkley's biography. Further, radio personality Jeff Golden is making the rounds as he considers a bid and announced Senate candidate Steve Novick offers a terrific line on the need for leadership rather than Gordon Smith's brand of "followership."

  • Alaska: From the "You gotta be kidding me!" file, Ted Stevens, whose dealings are currently being investigated by the FBI, offered this potentially duplicitous comment on his home renovations that were "overseen" by the corrupt VECO Corporation:

    "As a practical matter, I will tell you. We paid every bill that was given to us," Stevens said, referring to himself and his wife, Catherine. "Every bill that was sent to us has been paid, personally, with our own money, and that's all there is to it. It's our own money."
    OK, so every bill that was "given" to you was paid by you. But was every bill "given" to you, Ted? Remember, VECO set up an awfully convoluted process:

    Augie Paone, owner of Christensen Builders Inc. of Anchorage, said in a recent interview that it was Bill Allen who hired him to complete the framing and most of the interior carpentry at Stevens' home. Before he could send a bill to Stevens for work in progress, he was directed to provide it first to Veco, where someone would examine it for accuracy, he said. When Veco approved the invoice, he would fax it to the Stevenses in Washington, he said.

    Paone said that as far as he knew, Stevens and his wife, Catherine, paid his bills themselves. He said he sent at least $100,000 in invoices to the Stevenses in Washington. They paid him from what he said appeared to be a checking account opened for the project. The checks, imprinted with the couple's names, had single- and double-digit serial numbers, he said.
    So Ted Stevens apparently set up a checking account solely for payment of the home renovation project? That seems like a pretty major red flag. I look forward to hearing about the pot of gold at the end of that money trail.

  • Maine: A key difference in the 2008 Senate race in Maine is clear: Tom Allen has opposed the war from the start while Susan Collins continues to speak out of both sides of her mouth. Tom Allen even offers a handy chart clearly outlining the stark differences.

  • South Carolina: In another case of a Republican Senator seeing a significant dip in fundraising from Q1 to Q2, Lindsey Graham took in just over $540,000 in Q2, less than half of his $1.2 million Q1 take, bringing his cash-on-hand to just over $4 million.

  • Kentucky: And the bad press for Mitch McConnell continues unabated. The Lexington Herald-Leader calls it "disappointing" that McConnell is refusing to help move America away from "failed policies" and toward "a saner path." Perhaps the problem is that McConnell apparently takes U.S. military death and assorted bombings as signs of "stunning success."

  • Minnesota: MN Publius offers a couple tidbits. First, attorney and environmental activist Jim Cohen's Senate campaign website is up. Second, businessman Bob Olson has opted to run for Congress against right-winger Michele Bachmann rather than contend for the Senate nomination.

  • Montana: The MT-GOP or the NRSC must be really unhappy with the candidacy of disgraced Republican Mike Lange because somebody is urging has-been Bob Keenan to get in the Senate race.

  • Colorado: MyDD's Singer, in noting Colorado's trending blue, suggests that Colorado right-wingers' ballot initiative banning all abortions without exception could seal the deal for Democrats winning the Senate race there in 2008, considering a similar measure's sound defeat in more conservative South Dakota.

  • New Jersey: In the unlikely event that Senator Frank Lautenberg decides to retire, I don't think we'll have trouble finding an experienced Democratic public servant to succeed him.

  • Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    KS-Sen: 2008's Sleeper Competitive Senate Race?

    [Cross-posted at my SSP and DKos diaries.]

    A Democrat hasn't represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate since the 1930's. There is no way a Democrat could win a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas in 2008!


    Kansas could very well be the sleeper competitive Senate race of 2008. Why? Several reasons.

    1) Unintimidating Approval Numbers: Look at Pat Roberts' approval rating over the last year, according to Survey USA.

    6/19/07: 51-37
    5/24/07: 52-36
    4/25/07: 48-39
    3/20/07: 50-36
    2/22/07: 49-37
    1/24/07: 52-35
    12/20/06: 52-36
    11/22/06: 51-36
    10/15/06: 47-42
    9/20/06: 53-37
    8/15/06: 48-39

    Since August '06, Roberts' average approve-disapprove has been 50.3-37.3. These are not the intimidating approval numbers of an unbeatable incumbent. If a Senator from a traditional Presidential swing state had approval numbers like these, that Senator would be a top-tier target. But, just because this is Kansas and not Ohio doesn't mean as much as you'd think (as you'll see in point number three).

    2) Roberts Oversaw Intelligence Scandals: From 2003 until the Democrats' reclaiming of the Senate Majority, Pat Roberts served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. During his tenure as Chairman, Roberts' oversight was so lax that the committee was dubbed "the Senate Cover-up Committee." Roberts rolled over for the unpopular Bush administration on numerous intelligence issues including warrantless domestic spying and wiretapping, Iraq oversight, leaking classified information, and allowing torture. I doubt that law-abiding Kansas families would be too thrilled with the fact that Pat Roberts supports Bush's ability to warrantlessly spy on them.

    3) Kansas Growing More Democratic-Friendly: A few indicators suggest that Kansas is growing more and more comfortable voting Democratic. First, compare the approval ratings of a couple of chief executives. George W. Bush's approve-disapprove in Kansas stands at a shocking 38-60. Bush's approval in Kansas is so low that Pat Roberts himself has begun to qualify his support of Bush's Iraq War. Meanwhile, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who was re-elected last year by a 58-40 margin, has an approve-disapprove that stands at 65-31. The Democratic chief executive is considerably more popular than the Republican chief executive. Beyond that, ten years ago, all four of Kansas' U.S. House seats were held by Republicans. Now, the breakdown is two Republicans, two Democrats, highlighted by Nancy Boyda's stunning victory in 2006. Between Bush's unpopularity, Sebelius' popularity, and the overall Congressional shift, Kansans are clearly more comfortable voting (D).

    4) Lack of Support from National Republicans: With 22 Republican-held seats (including recent Wyoming appointee John Barrasso) to defend, compared with 12 Democratic seats, the NRSC will have its hands full. Couple those numbers with the fact that the DSCC is trouncing the NRSC in fundraising, raising money at a pace double that of the NRSC. With the NRSC worried about defending first-tier battlegrounds like Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, and Colorado, they probably won't have much money left over to send in to Kansas to help Pat Roberts out.

    5) The KS-GOP Mess: The Kansas Republican Party has seen better days. The KS-GOP is apparently near bankruptcy. The KS-GOP is getting sued over a labor dispute. And, following a spate of high profile Republicans in Kansas changing their voter affiliation to Democrat (including current statewide officeholders and a former KS-GOP Chair!), the KS-GOP has cooked up a rather creepy Unity Pledge. The KS-GOP is in bad shape.

    The above five reasons outline why Pat Roberts can be deemed quite vulnerable in 2008. So, who is there to challenge him?

    Last month, I outlined a dozen prominent Kansas Democrats. Of course, there are Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Congresspeople Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda, though Governor Sebelius has expressed no interest and both Congresspeople are expected to run for re-election to the House.

    There are also four Republicans-turned-Democrat on the list: first-term Lt. Gov. (and former KS-GOP Chair) Mark Parkinson, first-term state Attorney General Paul Morrison, former Kansas House Majority Leader Joe Hoagland, and former Lt. Gov. John Moore. As freshmen in their current roles, Parkinson and Morrison are expected to stand pat and accrue more experience before an attempt at another office. Hoagland and Moore both remain interesting options; in fact, Hoagland considered a challenge to Sam Brownback in 2004.

    Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Kansas Congressperson Dan Glickman seems too comfortable at his current job as President of the Motion Picture Association of America to attempt a run; and, while I have heard rumors of interest from political activist, military veteran and Congressional spouse Steve Boyda, he may have his hands too full assisting Nancy in her re-election bid to undertake a statewide run of his own.

    The three remaining names are: state Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon, whose resume is quite impressive; 2004 Senate candidate Joan Ruff, whose '04 campaign seemed to gain a lot of traction only to have her inexplicably withdraw her bid shortly before the primary; and, 1996 Senate candidate Jill Docking, a businesswoman who is also the daughter-in-law of former Kansas Governor Robert Docking.

    Should Governor Sebelius, of course the dream candidate, definitively insist against a Senate bid, I'd offer that the two most interesting names that the DSCC could pursue are state Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon and former Kansas House Majority Leader and Republican-turned-Democrat Joe Hoagland. Regardless of who is pursued, it is inarguable that Pat Roberts is vulnerable to a strong challenger. I hope that the KS-Dems work hard to propel a challenger forward and that the DSCC does not overlook Kansas as a potential Senate battleground.

    Tuesday Rundown

  • Senate Republicans are threatening a permanent filibuster on Iraq votes. Is that any different from the perpetual obstructionism Republicans have offered thus far? Meanwhile, the LA Times has a terrific piece today on how Iraq may be the political death knell for Republicans, focusing on the Collins-Sununu-Coleman-Smith quadrangle of loserdom.

  • Louisiana: David Vitter claims that the stories of his visiting New Orleans brothels are not true, even after admitting his being a client of the D.C. Madam. Given his record of lying in public forums about visits with specific prostitutes, why should Vitter be believed? Hmmm, maybe if he actually answered a few questions from the media...

  • New Jersey: Blue Jersey astutely rips possible Republican Senate candidate Joe Pennacchio for seeming rather quick to forgive terrorist acts. In other news, Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, with his bulging campaign account, is trying to set himself up as Senator Frank Lautenberg's heir apparent.

  • Kentucky: And the coverage of Mitch McConnell's absence of leadership continues.

  • Alabama: Bush rubber stamp Jeff Sessions raised just over $1.5 million in Q2, bringing his cash-on-hand to just over $3.1 million.

  • South Dakota: USD Dems highlight word from Tom Daschle that Senator Tim Johnson will be back to work in September and look at the dynamics of the 2008 Senate race in the Mount Rushmore State.

  • WaPo's Cillizza has a fun post on "Fundraising Winners and Losers." Among the Winners:

    Tom Allen: Allen, who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) next November, raised $1.1 million and ended the quarter within $600,000 cash on hand. Collecting that sort of money is no easy task in a state as small as Maine; Allen's impressive total speaks to both his dedication to the race as well as the high level of interest from national Democratic donors. ...

    Jon Bruning: Running a primary against an incumbent is never easy even when that incumbent is viewed as skeptically by the base of the party as Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) is in Nebraska. So the $728,000 that Bruning, the state's attorney general, collected over the past three months for his challenge of Hagel is quite impressive. Most neutral Republicans believe Hagel will not seek re-election, a development that could actually work against Bruning as national Republicans may well turn to former Gov. Mike Johanns as their preferred candidate. ...

    Al Franken: He's good enough, he's smart enough and gosh darnit Al Franken can raise money. The comedian turned Minnesota Senate candidate raised a whopping $1.9 million between April 1 and June 30 -- outraising incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) by $300,000 or so. Franken's detractors insist his contributions come largely from out-of-state donors but in our experience voters don't seem to care where campaign cash originates. ...

    Tom Davis: The northern Virginia Republican continues to hoover up huge sums of cash as he waits for a decision by Sen. John Warner (R) on his political future. In the last three months, Davis raised $402,000, bringing his cycle-to-date fundraising to a whopping $2.75 million. He ended June with more than $1 million in the bank. Davis' relentless fundraising is likely aimed at scaring off potential primary challengers if the seat comes open. But, with former Gov. Jim Gilmore's (R) departure from the presidential race over the weekend, a clear primary field for Davis' looks increasingly unlikely.
    Among the Losers:

    Tom Latham/Denny Rehberg/Richard Baker: The real loser here may well be the National Republican Senatorial Committee who had mentioned all three of these Republican House members as potential 2008 Senate candidates. None raised more than $200,000 between April 1 and June 30 and all three trail their would-be Democratic opponents badly in cash on hand. Add it all up and what do you get? Three men not running for Senate in 2008.

    John Cornyn: Cornyn's massive fundraising haul -- $2.1 million raised, $5.4 million on hand -- doesn't seem the sort of showing to put him in the loser category. What lands him a spot here is attorney Mikal Watts' (D) willingness to spend his own money on a campaign. Watts gave himself $3.8 million in the last quarter and raised another $1.1 million, ending June with $4.9 million on hand. Watts has said that if he wins the Democratic primary, he will spend an additional $6.2 million of his own money. Cornyn is still an overwhelming favorite but Watts' deep pockets make this a far more involved race than most people would have guessed a few months ago.
    It's reassuring to see Cillizza highlighting the failures of the NRSC. Meanwhile, Bruning's and Davis' hauls only further speculation about Hagel and Warner retirements. And Allen and Franken are demonstrating that they can be financially competitive against their respective incumbent Republican opponents, even before the assistance of the DSCC, whose financial resources already dwarf the NRSC's. Senate Republicans should be getting more worried by the day.

  • Monday, July 16, 2007

    Big Monday Round-Up

  • Republicans continue to make threats of increased obstructionism (as though it could increase) should Democrats not rubber stamp Bush's judicial nominees. So, Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling the Republicans on it and forcing them to filibuster as he schedules an all night session to address Iraq. After the move was called a "stunt," Senator Richard Durbin fired back, saying: "I don’t think it’s a stunt. I think it reflects the reality of this war. How many sleepless night have our soldiers and their families spent?" That's what happens when Democrats call Senate Republicans out on their craven form of politics. Meanwhile, Republican George Voinovich suggests that more Republican defectors on Iraq will soon emerge and describes Bush's handling of Iraq as "f—ed up."

  • Louisiana: Republican Senator and prostitute-fan David Vitter emerged from hiding with a press conference today with his wife, not addressing the many issues surrounding his indiscretions and refusing to take questions afterward. (The link includes video.) He said in his statement that he wouldn't answer "endless" questions. Well, he didn't answer any questions. He says that answering questions to uncover the truth amid the scandal wouldn't "serve his constituents well." Unbelievable. He then cowered behind his wife as she pleaded for privacy in this matter. But it was David Vitter, not the media, who inserted Vitter's family and personal "values" and private life into the public sphere. Once again, Vitter therefore deserves every bit of scrutiny he receives. Mrs. Vitter tries to vilify the media for pursuing the story; but, the story would come to an end simply by her husband living up to his own standard and resigning, which he so far refuses to do. David Vitter didn't just lie to his wife; he lied to his constituents and, for that, he has not received absolution. By his own measure, Vitter is morally unfit to govern. He cares more about his own career than he does his constituents or the "values" he claims to advocate for. David Vitter is a dishonest coward and a hypocrite.

    Meanwhile, more Republicans apologize for Vitter's indiscretions, putting partisanship before values. Jon Kyl, whose only purpose in the Senate is to rubber stamp whatever Bush tells him to, claims ignorance calling judgment "premature." And Vitter's predecessor in the House and fellow adulterer ex-Rep. Bob Livingston cheered Vitter on. Compounding the improprieties, an anonymous Senate employee drafted talking points for Republicans to use in defense of Vitter using Senate resources, a clear no-no as Senate resources are to be used only for government purposes, not political purposes, which these talking points clearly are for. For continuing updates on the Vitter scandal on the local front, check Daily Kingfish regularly.

  • North Carolina: Earlier this year:

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said in a fundraising letter this month that she needs to raise nearly $1 million a month through Election Day 2008 to defend her seat in Congress.
    Well, Elizabeth Dole's Q2 numbers are in. For April through June, she raised $823,000, less than half of the $1.7 million Dole raised in Q1. She said she needed "nearly $1 million a month" and couldn't muster $1 million for the three months of Q2 combined. She ended Q2 with $1.76 million cash-on-hand.

  • Texas: State Representative Rick Noriega is moving forward with his Senate exploratory committee and has a retooled campaign website up and running.

  • Alaska: Ted Stevens' numerous appearances of impropriety are taking their toll on him as his approval sags to all-time lows, with less than 45% of Alaskans holding a positive view of Stevens while almost 44% hold a negative view of Stevens. Not helping appearances any, Stevens is getting yet another extension before filing his 2006 financial disclosure. Makes one wonder why. Not to miss out on the appearance-of-impropriety bonanza, nepotism beneficiary Lisa Murkowski, who is up for re-election in 2010, is also having questions raised about a real estate deal conducted between her and one of Stevens' good buddies. When it comes to corruption, is the AK-GOP becoming the new OH-GOP?

  • Maine: Susan Collins and her best pal Joe Lieberman issued an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe today on combatting terrorism. You may be shocked to hear that the word "Iraq" does not appear anywhere in the column. Turn Maine Blue offers further insights.

  • Kentucky: It feels like not a single day goes by on which Mitch McConnell doesn't get hit by some bad local press.

  • Nebraska: I'm getting a little annoyed with misleading headlines in the Lincoln Journal Star. Back in April, they ran a headline reading "Kerrey to say no to Senate race" in which the article discusses that Kerrey is considering a Senate bid, calling it unlikely, but certainly not saying "No." Today, they offer the headline: "Don Walton: Johanns may jump in if Hagel's out" but then include in the artcle: "And Mike Johanns? Not talking." They have no quote from Johanns or a close source. It would be nice if, in the future, the headlines reflected the actual content of the stories.

  • Idaho: I try not to be quite so blunt, but Larry Craig really is an idiot.

  • West Virginia: The Herald-Dispatch alludes to poll numbers looking good for Senator Jay Rockefeller's re-election:

    John Raese, the owner of MetroNews, commissioned the May poll, Kercheval said. Some GOP figures have touted Raese, a Republican, as a possible challenger to Rockefeller in 2008. Raese narrowly lost to the then-governor for the Senate seat in 1984.

    Those who were quizzed for the poll say it included questions about Rockefeller, Raese and a potential Senate rematch. Though MetroNews has not reported on those results, those familiar with the polling say Raese -- who was trounced last year in a race against Sen. Robert C. Byrd -- did not fare well.

    "I haven't seen the poll...I understand it was not very favorable (between Rockefeller and Raese)" state GOP Chairman Doug McKinney told The Charleston Gazette last week.
    No poll numbers released. Not even spin. The numbers must be awfully bad.

  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman must be very worried to be pulling out the "Hollywood's liberal elite" card so early, especially since Coleman has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2002 from Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance.

  • New Jersey: Republican assemblyman Joe Pennacchio, who may run either for state senate or for U.S. Senate, is taking a swipe at Senator Frank Lautenberg for holding up the nomination of Gene Cretz as U.S. Ambassador to Libya, the first since 1972. Senator Lautenberg, along with three other Senators, is holding up the nomination until Libya fulfills its agreed-to obligations following their terrorist attack on Pan Am 103 in 1988.

  • Georgia: Former State Representative Wyc Orr has ruled out a possible 2008 Senate challenge to "Spineless" and/or "Shameless" Saxby Chambliss.

  • Alabama: A new rumored candidate may be considering a challenge to Jeff Sessions: Birmingham trial lawyer David Marsh.

  • Sunday, July 15, 2007

    DSCC Dominates NRSC in Q2

  • The ugly truth courtesy of the New York Times:

    The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $17.6 million from April through June, according to figures to be filed with the Federal Election Commission. The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported raising $8.6 million in the same period.

    A snapshot of the disparity between the fund-raising of the two parties, which has also played out in the presidential race, was underscored by the figures for the month of June. The Democratic senatorial committee raised $8.6 million, compared with $3.3 million by the Republican committee.

    As Democrats seek to expand their narrow majority in the Senate, the party committee far exceeds the amount of money Republicans have at their disposal, reporting a cash-on-hand balance of $20.4 million with a debt of $4.5 million. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has reported a cash balance of $5.5 million with no debt. ...

    Rebecca Fischer, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, had no comment on the fund-raising numbers.
    The DSCC raised as much in the month of June alone as the NRSC raised from April through June! And, for the quarter, the DSCC more than doubled the NRSC's overall take. Cash-on-hand minus debt figures are $15.9 million for the DSCC and $5.5 million for the NRSC, obviously an advantage for the DSCC of over $10 million. And the 2008 cycle is only a quarter over.

  • Sunday Wondering

  • Nebraska & Virginia: Even right-wingers are expecting Senate retirements in 2008 from Chuck Hagel and John Warner.

  • Virginia: With former Gov. Jim Gilmore dropping his Presidential bid, he says he is keeping his options open regarding a 2008 Senate race or 2009 Gubernatorial bid. His gubernatorial term has been described as "unsuccessful" and "a terrible performance" so one can only wonder how Virginians would take to another Gilmore statewide campaign. With Democrats having won the last several high profile statewide campaigns and the VA-GOP playing defense, one must also wonder if the VA-GOP could weather a Senate primary between Gilmore and GOP Rep. Tom Davis and emerge strong enough to take on a viable Democrat, much less an extremely popular one like former Governor Mark Warner who inherited and cleaned up the mess Gilmore left him.

  • Kentucky: Mitch McConnell's one remaining electoral strength is his big pile of money, raising about $1.6 million in Q2 bringing his cash-on-hand to $5.8 million.

  • Wyoming: An Enduring Democratic Majority looks at statements that popular Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal has made regarding newly-appointed Senator Tom John Barrasso's "tepid" support for environmental initiatives championed by the late Craig Thomas and wonders if Freudenthal might be considering a 2008 Senate bid. While Freudenthal has continually demonstrated no interest in a Senate bid, his statements at the very least soften Barrasso up and point to issues on which a challenger could run.

  • South Carolina: In case you missed it, Lindsey Graham got rhetorically slapped around by Senator and former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb on Meet the Press this morning for putting his political views in the mouths of the soldiers. Graham tried to argue that our military keeps fighting because they uniformly agree with Bush's "mission" in Iraq. Webb countered that, while polls demonstrate that the majority of members of the military do not agree with Bush's "mission" (citing this morning's New York Times for example), our soldiers fight because "they love their country." Webb cites actual patriotism. Graham disingenuously tries to ascribe his political beliefs to our soldiers.

  • Speaking of Bush's "mission" in Iraq, Think Progress has a thorough rundown of the ever-changing mission in Iraq.

  • Bush will veto bi-partisan legislation that would expand health care coverage for children. Disgusting. Really, really, truly disgusting.

  • It's Sunday, so be sure to check out MyDD later for the weekly column on the Senate races.