Senate Guru’s “Pick the Nominee” Contest

(Keep those entries comin’!  Get ‘em in before 5pm ET!)The rules are simple.  You have until Friday, February 6, at 5pm ET to make your picks in the comments.  Every correct guess on questions 1 through 10 is worth one point.  The final two questions are tie-breakers.  The prize is TBD.1) Who will be Delaware’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) State Attorney General Beau Biden
b) Former Lieutenant Governor John Carney
c) Someone else2) Who will be Florida’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) State Senator Dan Gelber
b) Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio
c) Congressman Ron Klein
d) Congressman Kendrick Meek
e) Congressman Robert Wexler
f) Someone else3) Who will be Florida’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) State Senate President Jeff Atwater
b) Former state House Speaker Allan Bense
c) Congressman Vern Buchanan
d) Congressman Connie Mack
e) Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio
f) Former state Chief Medical Officer Marion Thorpe
g) Someone else4) Who will be Illinois’ Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Senator Roland Burris
b) State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias
c) Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
d) State Attorney General Lisa Madigan
e) Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
f) Someone else

5) Who will be Illinois’ Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Congressman Mark Kirk
b) Congressman Peter Roskam
c) Dr. Steve Sauerberg
d) Someone else

6) Who will be Kentucky’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Congressman Ben Chandler
b) State Attorney General Jack Conway
c) State Auditor Crit Luallen
d) Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo
e) Former customs agent Darlene Fitzgerald Price
f) Someone else

7) Who will be Kentucky’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Senator Jim Bunning
b) Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson
c) Someone else

8) Who will be Missouri’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Congressman Roy Blunt
b) Former Congressman Kenny Hulshof
c) Colonel Jack Jackson
d) Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman
e) Former Senator Jim Talent
f) Someone else

9) Who will be North Carolina’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) State Attorney General Roy Cooper
b) Former state Treasurer Richard Moore
c) Congressman Heath Shuler
d) Someone else

10) Who will be Ohio’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010?
a) Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner
b) Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher
c) Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones
d) Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur
e) Congressman Tim Ryan
f) Congressman Zack Space
g) Congresswoman Betty Sutton
h) Someone else

Tie-breakers: Tie-breaker #1 has precedence.  If there is still a tie after Tie-breaker #1, it then goes to Tie-breaker #2.
1) In how many U.S. Senate races will the Republican Party not feature a candidate?  (For instance, in 2008, the answer to this question would have been 1, Arkansas.)
2) In how many U.S. Senate races will the Democratic Party not feature a candidate?  (For instance, in 2006, the answer to this question would have been 2, Indiana and Vermont.)

Thursday Briefs

Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 16:29 PM EST

  • The entire Senate Guru community wishes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a speedy recovery.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declares that there are enough votes in the Senate now to pass President Obama’s economic stimulus bill.
  • Kentucky: New Research 2000 polling sees a swath of statistical dead heats in KY-Sen:
    Dems v. Bunning
    Jim Bunning (R) 45
    Ben Chandler (D) 42Jim Bunning (R) 46
    Jack Conway (D) 42Jim Bunning (R) 45
    Crit Luallen (D) 41Jim Bunning (R) 46
    Daniel Mongiardo (D) 42
    Dems v. Grayson
    Trey Grayson (R) 42
    Ben Chandler (D) 42Trey Grayson (R) 42
    Jack Conway (D) 41Trey Grayson (R) 42
    Crit Luallen (D) 42Trey Grayson (R) 43
    Daniel Mongiardo (D) 42
    Favorable-unfavorable numbers
    Crit Luallen 53-25 (Net +28)
    Ben Chandler 52-28 (Net +24)
    Jack Conway 48-27 (Net +21)
    Trey Grayson 39-18 (Net +21)
    Daniel Mongiardo 50-40 (Net +10)
    Barack Obama 47-44 (Net +3)
    Jim Bunning 41-47 (Net -6)

    There is, in fact, good news for Jim Bunning in this poll (which is also good news for Democrats who don’t want Bunning to retire).  Bunning can point to this poll and say that he still matches up more strongly against Democrats than a stand-in like Trey Grayson does.  That said, Bunning is also eminently beatable, given that he only leads Dems by the margin of error and has much weaker favorability numbers.

  • Minnesota: Senator-elect Al Franken is petitioning the state Supreme Court to rule in support of a provisional election certificate so that he can be properly seated in the U.S. Senate while Norm Coleman drags his feet with his frivolous lawsuit.
  • New Hampshire: As TPM’s Marshall and Blue Hampshire’s elwood point out, Commerce Secretary-designate and still-Senator Judd Gregg’s recusal on all votes pertaining to President Obama’s economic stimulus bill is tantamount to supporting the filibuster of the bill as 60 cloture votes are needed, period.  Gregg does have two honorable (or, at least, fundamentally sensible) alternative actions to effectively supporting the filibuster.  First, he could vote for cloture and still recuse himself from a vote on the bill itself – since a cloture vote is not a vote necessarily in support of the bill but rather simply a vote to move to a vote on the bill (in other words, it’s a vote against obstruction).  Second, he could immediately resign his seat so that his successor could fill it, which makes sense if he’s not going to vote on the biggest issue of the day, anyway.  But, no.  Instead, Gregg takes the action that would most undermine his new boss’ number one legislative priority.
  • Florida: GOP Gov. Charlie Crist reiterated that he will wait until after the completion of the current state legislative session in May before deciding on a 2010 Senate bid.  The big impact of this is that a lot of Republicans considering a bid themselves will be forced to tread water as they would likely not want to face a primary against Crist (nor would Florida grassroots activists, fundraisers, and power brokers want to commit to another Republican if Crist does get in).  Announced Democratic candidates like Congressman Kendrick Meek should use this time to build up a healthy fundraising edge while Republicans remain frozen in place.
  • New York: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is joining Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy in considering a primary challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 Senate special election in New York.  You may recall that, during Governor David Paterson’s deliberations over who to appoint to succeed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, a coalition of women’s organizations backed Maloney for the appointment.  However, since being appointed, EMILY’s List has endorsed Senator Gillibrand for election in 2010.
    • Louisiana: The Draft Stormy effort, to encourage adult film star Stormy Daniels to challenge prostitute-lovin’ David Vitter in the 2010 Senate race, is picking up steam.  At right is the video of news coverage of the effort on New Orleans’ local ABC affiliate.
    • Ohio: Rumors are popping up that Governor Ted Strickland is being considered as a possible Secretary of Health & Human Services.  If such an appointment came to pass, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher would ascend to the Governorship and likely lead him to focus on a 2010 Governor run rather than his current 2010 Senate bid.  Stay tuned for developments.
    • Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, the Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, says that the Republican Party should be more like the Taliban.  That is not a joke.

January Senate Approval Numbers from Survey USA

Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:15 AM EST

SUSA is up with their January 2009 numbers.Republicans:

Jim Bunning Jan. ’09
Approve 42
Disapprove 43

Run, Jim!  Run!  Run, Jim!  Run!

Chuck Grassley Jan. ’09
Approve 71
Disapprove 22

If Grassley runs for re-election, he’s safe, especially with former Governor Tom Vilsack now heading up the Department of Agriculture.  If Grassley retires, IA-Sen immediately dives into Toss-Up status… but he has to retire first.

Richard Shelby Jan. ’09
Approve 60
Disapprove 29

A 60% approval rating and a $13+ million bankroll equals a safe re-election bid.


Barbara Boxer Jan. ’09
Approve 52
Disapprove 38

It’s good to see Senator Boxer over 50%, but a little more breathing room would be nice.  Signs that her support at the ballot box will be higher than indicated in this poll is that two-fifths of 18- to 34-year-old voters, more than one-third of black voters, and even 22% of Democrats disapprove of Boxer according to the poll.  The closer we come to Election Day, the more Boxer’s numbers should improve with these constituencies.

Russ Feingold Jan. ’09
Approve 61
Disapprove 31

Does GOP Rep. Paul Ryan want to take on Senator Feingold’s 61% approval?  Probably not.  If Senator Feingold’s numbers stay at these levels throughout 2009, he may face only token Republican opposition as any credible Republican would more likely wait out a Herb Kohl retirement in 2012.

Patty Murray Jan. ’09
Approve 55
Disapprove 36

Senator Murray looks to be in solid shape for the time being.  Can the NRSC dig up a credible challenger?

Chuck Schumer Jan. ’09
Approve 63
Disapprove 27

Senator Schumer enjoys a 52% approval among Republicans.  The only question here is whether or not Senator Schumer will get a free pass altogether with the NY-GOP focusing whatever muscle they can muster on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Governor David Paterson.  It will be interesting to see Survey USA’s numbers for Gillibrand once they start tracking her approval rating.

Ron Wyden Jan. ’09
Approve 62
Disapprove 25

Senator Wyden clocks in at over 60% approval and the OR-GOP bench is empty.  Count OR-Sen as safe.

Wednesday Afternoon Tidbits

Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 16:06 PM EST

  • Stu Rothenberg releases his latest 2010 Senate Ratings.  The only change from his ranking from last month: New Hampshire moves from “Narrow Advantage for Incumbent Party” to “Toss-Up.”
  • Ohio: New Quinnipiac polling looks promising for Democrats and rough for Republican two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman:
    Democratic Primary
    Lee Fisher (D): 18
    Jennifer Brunner (D): 16
    Tim Ryan (D): 14
    (MoE: ±4.4%)
    Republican Primary
    Rob Portman (R): 33
    Mary Taylor (R): 11
    (MoE: ±5.1%)

    Head-to-Head Results

    Lee Fisher (D): 42
    Rob Portman (R): 27
    Jennifer Brunner (D): 38
    Rob Portman (R): 28
    Lee Fisher (D): 41
    Mary Taylor (R): 27
    Jennifer Brunner (D): 38
    Mary Taylor (R): 26

    (MoE: ±2.9%)The Democratic primary appears to be wide open, with all three Democrats in a statistical dead heat.  In the Republican primary, though Portman is the only announced candidate, he still doesn’t even clear the one-third threshold.  More noteworthy though are the head-to-head results, which are very stable.  Democrats win all the match-ups, with Fisher scoring in the low-40s and Brunner in the high 30s against Portman’s and Taylor’s mid-to-high 20s.  These results showing double-digit leads for the Democrats over Rob Portman are a swing from the narrow Portman leads displayed by Public Policy Polling numbers from last month.

  • New Hampshire: Congressman Paul Hodes confirms in an interview with the Union Leader that he will be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.  Hodes also posts as much at Blue Hampshire.  Elsewhere, WaPo’s Cillizza looks at possible Republican stand-ins for Judd Gregg (emphasis added by me):

    The Republican field is far less clear with two names mentioned in the early going: [former Sen. John] Sununu and former Gov. Steve Merrill.Sununu served in the House from 1996 to 2002 and then a single term in the Senate. His father, also named John, is a legend in New Hampshire politics, having served as governor and White House chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush. Sununu currently lives in Washington, however, and may not want to uproot his family to return to the state and run.

    Merrill spent four years in the mid to late eighties as New Hampshire’s attorney general before being elected governor in 1992. He retired from that office in 1996 and was replaced by Shaheen. He did not return an email seeking to gauge his interest in the post.

    Another intriguing name is former state attorney general Tom Rath who is one of the lead political operatives in the state. Reached today, Rath left the door wide open to a bid. “I think the last few days prove that nothing is ever really predictable,” he said. “But a truly open U.S, Senate seat should never be summarily dismissed and so I think it is worth considering.”

    Among the other GOP names being mentioned: 2008 congressional candidate Jennifer Horn, wealthy businessman Sean Mahoney and state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte is seen as a longshot as she is close to Lynch and is reportedly far more interested in the governor’s mansion.

    Sununu currently lives in Washington, however, and may not want to uproot his family to return to the state and run.”  Already?!  It’s been three whole months since Election Day.  Is Sununu’s family so rooted in Washington after such a short time?  Or did the Sununu family long consider Washington its home?  Wild.  Cillizza suggests that the NH-GOP’s top choices are: recently defeated Washington resident Sununu; Merrill, who has been out of the electoral spotlight for over a decade; or Rath, who served as state AG in the late seventies.  “Wealthy businessman Sean Mahoney” gets my antennae up.  With the NRSC long unable to out-fundraise the DSCC, Republicans are always on the lookout for self-funders.  Further, Mahoney serves as the NH-GOP’s national committeeman to the RNC, so he has plenty of insider contacts.  I’d keep an eye on him.  He certainly has no shortage of rhetoric on the current economic crisis that George W. Bush left us.

  • Missouri: Will the Carnahans and Blunts square off for Missouri intergalactic domination?  Maybe:

    Gregg Hartley, Roy Blunt’s former chief of staff, said Tuesday that Blunt “is very close to making a decision. And every indication I see is that he is likely to do this race.”

    I think it’s pretty clear that he will run.  The only question is whether Jim Talent and Sarah Steelman will get in line like good GOP footsoldiers.  I think Talent will, but Steelman won’t and will move forward with a Senate campaign of her own.

  • Colorado: Republican former Rep. Bob Beauprez confirms that he is considering a 2010 Senate bid.  Beauprez was last seen in the 2006 CO-Gov race getting demolished by Bill Ritter in a fifteen-point rout.  And Beauprez may be the CO-GOP’s best option left.
  • I love New Jersey.

John Cornyn Reads Cue Cards with the Best of ‘Em

Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 13:24 PM EST

Watch NRSC Chair John Cornyn’s wooden, uncomfortable, even pained delivery as he apparently reads off of cue cards and stumbles over his words, saying “Facebook” and “Twitter” for probably the first time in his life:Now compare that with the introductory video from new DSCC Chair Bob Menendez as he speaks to us, not atus.  As he invites us into his office and shares with us his uniquely American story, he actually appears conversational, not like Cornyn’s “I forgot my lines and am reading off cue cards” delivery:Is the difference as stark to you as it is to me?

Early Wednesday Morning Rundown

Wed Feb 04, 2009 at 02:35 AM EST

  • New Hampshire: Governor John Lynch made it official that former Gregg Chief of Staff J. Bonnie Newman will fill the vacancy created by Republican Judd Gregg becoming Commerce Secretary, and that Newman will not run for the Senate seat in 2010 and, further, will not endorse any candidate for the Senate seat in 2010.  MyDD’s Singer keys in on the fact, as does Blue Hampshire’s Barker, that the assurance that Newman would neither run nor endorse in 2010 came from Lynch and not Newman.  Newman must repeat that assurance to the public on camera as soon as possible.  That said, I watched Lynch’s announcement and Newman’s acceptance speech; and, call me a sucker, but, upon seeing her speak for all of four minutes, I found her very sensible and likable – like the exact opposite of Susan Collins’ nasal soullessness.  I suppose we’ll see in the coming weeks how Newman will position herself ideologically, like Olympia Snowe or like a neo-Sununu.  I’m strenuously hoping for the former.
  • Minnesota: Judges overseeing Norm Coleman’s frivolous election contest handed down a decision today that might seem on its surface to help Norm Coleman, but really doesn’t.  The Court did rule that about 4,800 ballots could be presented as evidence by Coleman that they may have been wrongly rejected and could be reviewed.  But Coleman should keep the champagne on ice for now, as Nate Silver explains:

    Consider the absentee ballots flagged by Coleman for being “wrongly rejected” that were actually considered by the counties earlier this month. Of about 150 absentee ballots that, having already been rejected twice by the counties (once on Election Night and then again pursuant to a court order), were triple-checked by the counties for potentially being wrongly rejected, only 1 was determined by county officials to be a valid ballot. At that rate of success, Coleman’s 4,800 ballots would turn into a grand total of … 32 that are actually deemed to have been rejected improperly. And those ballots were reviewed at a stage when the Coleman campaign wanted only about 650 ballots to be considered. Their success rate, you would figure, will be even lower with a now much larger number of ballots under consideration. …The Court has also ruled, apparently, that the 4,800 absentee ballots Coleman wants to have counted will be held to a much higher burden of proof. Essentially, those ballots will be presumed to be guilty until proven innocent, and will have to be advocated for one at a time by the Coleman campaign, rather than being opened summarily and counted in bulk.

    While this is very, very, very unlikely to provide Coleman with a significant enough change in vote tally, it could take an extremly long time.  If Republicans’ goal in the Coleman lawsuit is simply to keep Senator-elect Al Franken out of the Senate for as long as possible, this decision could prove helpful.  In other news, Norm Coleman has once again been caught misrepresenting the facts as he complains that the big, bad media is to blame for the hot water he is in regarding allegations that a political benefactor funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the Coleman family.

  • Kentucky: Further laying it down with conviction that he is not going to retire, Republican Jim Bunning sets a $2 million fundraising goal for the second quarter.  (It’s unclear if the goal is raising $2 million in the second quarter, i.e. April-June ’09, or raising $2 million by the end of the second quarter.)
  • Ohio: For those looking for hints on who Governor Ted Strickland would be leaning toward in the 2010 OH-Sen Democratic primary, here he is showing Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher a little love. (HT: Ohio Daily)  And, for those looking for glowing neon lights regarding Governor Strickland’s preference in the primary, here he is showing Lieutenant Governor Fisher a lot of love. (HT: Ben Smith)
  • Maryland: Senator Barbara Mikulski is rumored to be under consideration for the Health & Human Services Cabinet slot now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his appointment.
  • Illinois: Illinois Veterans Affairs Director and former Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth has been named to an assistant secretary post in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by President Obama, effectively taking her out of consideration for a 2010 Senate bid.
  • South Dakota: John Thune is a simplistic dolt.  His argument against President Obama’s economic stimulus package: ‘$1 trillion is just too tall.’
  • Louisiana: Behold the perspective of David Vitter:

    Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said Tuesday that his fellow Republican Senate colleagues are “scared to death” by President Barack Obama’s popularity.

    David Vitter, however, is not scared of anything.  Not even prostitutes.  Show Vitter the scariest prostitute you can find, and he’ll have sex with her behind his family’s back until you admit that he fears neither prostitutes nor the popularity of our President.

  • Connecticut: Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is reportedly putting out feelers for a 2012 Senate challenge to non-Democrat Joe Lieberman.  Additionally, 2006 Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont isn’t ruling out another run.  On Election Day 2012, Blumenthal will already be 66-years-old.
  • BooMan nails it:

    The kind of Republican that could win a state wide race in New England is also the kind of person that would never lower themselves to sit down at a table with NRSC chairman John Cornyn.

    A thorough delousing would be in order after a chit-chat with Big, Bad John, I’d imagine.

  • McConnell: GOP won’t play the role of obstructionist
  • Reality: GOP will absolutely play the role of obstructionist

NRSC Says “‘Boulder Liberals’ Beware!”

Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 22:43 PM EST

The Hill’s Reid Wilson makes his stand-up comedy debut:

Following two cycles in which the party found itself perpetually on defense, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is giving early indications it intends to lambaste Democrats in a much more aggressive fashion in the 2010 cycle.

And where will the NRSC “lambaste” Democrats this cycle?  In Colorado, where their top two possible recruits, state AG John Suthers and former Rep. Scott McInnis, have already pulled out?  In Nevada, where their big draw, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, has already been indicted?  In Arkansas, where their top possible recruit, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, has already said “no way?”

I’m not saying that the NRSC won’t stumble onto a recruit or two – in fact, they have nowhere to go but up.  In 2008, the NRSC had one recruit of note, Louisiana state Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, who only got beat by Senator Mary Landrieu by 100,000 votes.

Republicans even have a winning strategy:

“Defining the terms of the debate early on is terribly critical,” said Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. In the 2008 cycle, Wadhams hammered now-Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), labeling him a “Boulder liberal.”Though Udall went on to beat ex-Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-Colo.), the label showed up in countless news stories about the race. “The headwinds were just too strong and nothing cut through,” Wadhams explained.

By the way, “Boulder liberal” Mark Udall only beat sensible, moderate Bob Schaffer by 11%, or over 225,000 votes.

The NRSC does have potential recruits to make at least somewhat competitive races out of seats that could be easy Democratic holds.  Will North Dakota’s GOP Gov. John Hoeven take on Senator Byron Dorgan?  Will GOP Rep. Paul Ryan step up to Senator Russ Feingold?  Will GOP Gov. Linda Lingle challenge Senator Daniel Inouye?  Will GOP Rep. Dave Reichert oppose Senator Patty Murray?  Or will the NRSC go 0-for-4 in recruiting these strong possible Senate candidate?

Will Democrats get a lambasting at the hands of the NRSC?  I don’t know, but this “Boulder liberal” ain’t exactly shaking in his shoes.

End of 2008 Fundraising Reports

Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 18:12 PM EST

The good folks at The Hotline compiled Q4 fundraising numbersfor Senators up for re-election in 2010, as well as some other key folks (mostly House members) considering 2010 Senate bids.  They note that Christopher Dodd’s and John McCain’s figures include combined White House & Senate accounts.  One asterisk by a person’s name denotes that the person did not make available their Q4 numbers in time and that the numbers shown for the person refer to their Q3 totals.  Two asterisks by a person’s name indicates that they filed their Senate candidacy after 12/31/08.

State Person Party Q4 Raised Debt Cash-on-Hand
AL Richard Shelby* R ? $0 $13,295,477
AK Lisa Murkowski* R ? $0 $327,352
AZ John McCain* R ? $204,235 $5,343,738
AR Blanche Lincoln D $268,980 $0 $810,117
CA Barbara Boxer D $689,482 $0 $4,132,936
CA Chuck DeVore R $46,005 $68,910 $26,156
CO Michael Bennet** Filed 1/16/09
CT Christopher Dodd D $301,810 $557,834 $1,156,201
DE Michael Castle* R ? $0 $862,744
FL Connie Mack* R ? $0 $501,085
FL Vern Buchanan* R ? $1,218,000 $99,083
FL Ron Klein* D ? $18,294 $1,584,194
FL Kendrick Meek* D ? $0 $428,804
GA Johnny Isakson R $105,756 $0 $2,295,138
HI Daniel Inouye D $119,060 $0 $1,160,296
ID Mike Crapo R $165,299 $0 $1,906,807
IL Roland Burris** D Filed 1/5/09
IL Jan Schakowsky* D ? $0 $373,748
IL Jesse Jackson Jr.* D ? $0 $461,248
IL Steve Sauerberg* R ? $0 $559,302
IL Peter Roskam* R ? $76,653 $41,559
IL Mark Kirk* R ? $0 $78,618
IN Evan Bayh D $208,159 $0 $10,896,324
IA Chuck Grassley R $239,832 $13,216 $2,853,312
KS Todd Tiahrt R $121,497 $0 $1,001,935
KS Jerry Moran R $254,123 $0 $2,542,938
KY Jim Bunning R $27,591 $0 $149,991
KY Ben Chandler* D ? $0 $1,123,441
KY Dan Mongiardo D $0 $606,994 $49
LA David Vitter R $317,049 $0 $2,004,955
LA Charlie Melancon* D ? $0 $777,659
MD Barbara Mikulski D $164,700 $0 $874,487
MO Roy Blunt* R ? $0 $336,408
MO Jim Talent* R ? $0 $11,165
NV Harry Reid D $809,511 $0 $3,316,354
NH Paul Hodes* D ? $0 $56,378
NH Carol Shea-Porter* D ? $0 $35,329
NH John Sununu* R ? $0 $128,089
NYA Chuck Schumer* D ? $0 $10,390,016
NYB Kirsten Gillibrand* D ? $0 $203,437
NYB Carolyn McCarthy* D ? $0 $189,803
NYB Peter King* R ? $0 $1,077,262
NC Richard Burr R $88,833 $0 $1,033,601
NC Heath Shuler* D ? $0 $943,706
ND Byron Dorgan D $68,884 $0 $1,497,274
OH Rob Portman R $6,691 $0 $1,518,393
OH Tim Ryan* D ? $506 $223,002
OH Betty Sutton* D ? $0 $25,967
OH Zack Space* D ? $5,106 $251,157
OH Marcy Kaptur* D ? $0 $955,576
OK Tom Coburn R $19,210 $0 $54,984
OR Ron Wyden D $67,771 $0 $1,118,012
PA Arlen Specter R $610,949 $62,394 $5,810,883
PA Allyson Schwartz* D ? $0 $1,980,215
PA Patrick Murphy* D ? $103,975 $146,956
SC Jim DeMint R $145,219 $0 $1,619,100
SD John Thune R $364,067 $0 $3,900,449
TX Bill White D 768,817 $626 $737,765
TX John Sharp** D Filed 1/6/09
UT Bob Bennett R $74,949 $0 $271,992
VT Pat Leahy D $117,908 $0 $1,218,785
WA Patty Murray D $524,017 $0 $2,518,764
WI Russ Feingold D $374,685 $25,621 $2,516,119

A few observations:
1) Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn (only $19,210 raised, only $54,984 on hand) raised even less and has even less on hand than Jim Bunning!  These numbers suggest that Coburn’s retirement considerations may turn into reality.
2) Florida’s Vern Buchanan, Illinois’ Peter Roskam, and Kentucky’s Dan Mongiardo certainly aren’t debt averse.
3) Evan Bayh and Chuck Schumer ought to cut the DSCC some phat checks, stat.  Especially Bayh, now that he really doesn’t need a Presidential-sized bankroll.  Don’t be Dick Shelby!

NH-Sen: Paul Hodes Is In

Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 15:25 PM EST

When it rains it pours.  First, Robin Carnahan in Missouri, and, now, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire.  The Granite State’s top political reporter, John DiStaso, has the goods:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes will announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate “within the week,” a source close to Hodes told this morning shortly before Judd Gregg’s nomination as commerce secretary became official.The developments surrounding that surprising appointment by President Obama “has sped up his timeline and he will make a formal announcement within the week,” the source said.

“We are working on the necessary paperwork,” the source said. “We were not expecting this.”

Gov. John Lynch is expected to name Republican Bonnie Newman as Gregg’s replacement. She is not expected to run for a full term in 2010.

Governor John Lynch will announce in just over an hour who he intends to appoint to fill the vacancy created by Gregg departing for the Cabinet.  If Bonnie Newman is appointed to succeed Gregg, as expected, and Newman does not run for the seat in 2010, as expected, Congressman Hodes would be hard to beat for the open seat.

CNN does note:

A Democratic source told CNN that New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter is also considering a run for Gregg’s seat, but has not made a decision. She is, however, “keeping the door open.”

Every source I’ve read or heard from has repeated how unlikely it would be for Shea-Porter and Hodes to face off in a primary.  If Hodes gets in and begins locking up support, I would expect Congresswoman Shea-Porter to run for re-election to the House.

To repeat from last night, the Republican bench for 2010 appears to consist of former Sen. John Sununu, who was just ousted by Jeanne Shaheen, as well as state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta.  Public Policy Polling will poll Granite State voters in the very near future.

MO-Sen: Robin Carnahan Is In

Tue Feb 03, 2009 at 15:04 PM EST

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Missouri’s record-holder for most votes ever in a single election, has announced that she will run for U.S. Senate.  Her campaign websiteis being updated and she has released this introductory video:

Hi, I’m Robin Carnahan.  I wanted to take a minute and let you know why I’ve decided to run for the United States Senate.Our country’s facing tough economic times and threats to our security like never before.  It’s time we had elected leaders ready to stop the bickering and start solving problems, like rebuilding our economy so it works for everyone and making government accountable for every nickel it spends.

It also means cracking down on the fraud and abuse, both on Wall Street and in Washington, that got us into this mess in the first place.

For me, public service is about making government work, by solving problems and providing opportunities for people to improve their lives.  That’s what I’ve done as Missouri’s Secretary of State.

Over the last four years, I’ve helped small businesses by cutting millions of dollars in costs and red tape.  I’ve cracked down on big financial institutions and small-time scam artists, and protected the life savings of thousands of Missourians.  I’ve safeguarded the integrity of our elections and the right of every eligible Missourian to vote.

I’d like to bring that same common sense and commitment to the United States Senate; and, with your help, I will.  Now, I know launching a campaign like this is no small task.  As some of you know, I still manage my family’s cattle farm outside Rolla, so I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and work hard.

Election Day is many months away; and, I know it’ll be a marathon, but that’s OK, too.  I’ve run real marathons, and I’m ready to go this distance.  But, this race, I can’t run alone.  So, over the next few weeks, we’ll start building our campaign team; and, I’ll need your help every step of the way.  But I am full of hope because, like you, I’ve seen what people can do when they’re committed to a common purpose and ready to change Washington.

I appreciate your help.  I hope you’ll take a minute and visit my website.  It’s just getting started, but it’s a great place to sign up and be part of our team.

Thanks for watching, and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Solving problems?  Making government accountable?  Providing opportunity?  Managing a cattle farm?  I’m in!  (Is it just me, or, in the video, could Robin Carnahan easily pass for Jeanne Shaheen’s niece?)  We should expect the entirety of the Missouri Democratic Party to immediately get behind Carnahan’s campaign.  Further, Public Policy Polling numbers from last month show Carnahan leading prospective Republican challengers:

Carnahan leads three potential Republican opponents in hypothetical contests. She has a 45-44 edge over Congressman Roy Blunt, a 47-43 lead over former Senator Jim Talent, and a 47-36 advantage over former Treasurer Sarah Steelman.Carnahan is probably further ahead of her opponents than the numbers might indicate. Her lead among African Americans over Blunt and Talent is only 54-30. Early polling tends to underestimate black support for Democratic candidates. For instance when PPP first surveyed the Gubernatorial race in Missouri, back in July, Jay Nixon led Kenny Hulshof only 52-27 among black voters. According to the exit poll, Nixon ended up taking 90% of it to Hulshof’s 7. It seems reasonable to think that Carnahan will end up performing similarly with African American voters, which means she’s running pretty close to 50%.

If the MO-GOP gets behind Roy Blunt, and Sarah Steelman does what John Cornyn tells her to and stays out of the race, this is, at worst, a Toss-Up.  The more divisive the GOP primary, the further cemented MO-Sen is a Lean Democratic race.

Good luck, Secretary Carnahan!

Monday Night Items

Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 23:56 PM EST

  • New Hampshire: Several sources have confirmed that Republican Judd Gregg will be the next Commerce Secretary.  A formal announcement is expected Tuesday morning.  An allegedly-moderate Republican, Gregg’s former Congressional Chief of Staff J. Bonnie Newman, is expected to be appointed to fill the vacancy caused by Gregg’s departure and is further expected not to run for a full term in 2010.  So who will run in 2010?  Of course, for the Democrats, Congresspeople Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter will decide among themselves.  The Republican bench appears to consist of former Sen. John Sununu, who was just ousted by Jeanne Shaheen, as well as state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta.
  • Florida: This would be bad:

    In what could be a Sunshine State one-two punch, multiple Republican sources are confirming that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is giving serious consideration to running for Senate – and that Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) is contemplating resigning from his seat before his term is up next year.

    GOP Gov. Crist is very popular; Research 2000 polling sees him beating Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek by over twenty points.  If Republicans were to make such a switcheroo, it would be hard to predict any Democrat toppling Crist as the incumbent.  That said, it sounds just too much like John Cornyn’s wet dream to be real.  Martinez himself has reiterated his pledge to complete his term.  Nevertheless, we’ll keep the prospect of an early departure for Martinez on the radar screen.  In other news, Politico’s Josh Kraushaar picks up on a telling a clue that Republican Connie Mack IV is preparing for a 2010 Senate bid – keyword advertising on Google searches for, of all things, “Kendrick Meek.”  Also, not that there was a high likelihood, but GOP Rep. John Mica has ruled out a 2010 Senate candidacy.

  • Missouri: Republican Roy Blunt is hustling to lock up enough support in the MO-Sen GOP primary to effectively block potential primary challengers from gaining any traction.  The two takeaways from this Politico story, though, are: 1) the NRSC apparently prefers Blunt as the nominee rather than former Sen. Jim Talent; and, 2) former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman doesn’t care what the NRSC wants and is already testing primary rhetoric:

    “His [Blunt's] decision has no bearing on what I decide to do,” Steelman said. “There’s a contrast between me and Congressman Blunt. He’s an insider, I’m an outsider. And there’s an obvious difference between our gender. I think the Republican Party needs more women in leadership positions.” …Steelman is signaling that she is unlikely to budge and believes her anti-Washington rhetoric would make her a strong general election candidate. She hinted that, if she runs, she would portray Blunt as the consummate Washington insider who has lost touch with the needs of the state.

    “I want a Republican Party to stand for those principles that made it great. I think we strayed from it dramatically over the last eight to 10 years here in Washington,” Steelman said. “I don’t know if people get disconnected from their home state when they get out here; maybe it’s the culture of Washington.”

    Good for Treasurer Steelman.  She shouldn’t let John Cornyn dictate whether or not she should be allowed to run.  Oh, and a divisive GOP primary would be suh-weet.

  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman’s new legal strategy may be: ‘if I didn’t win, nobody won!’
  • Texas: Houston Mayor Bill White raised an extremely impressive $640,000 in the final fifteen days of 2008.
  • New York: Governor David Paterson might not be the best goodwill ambassador for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
  • Less than three weeks until Bill Maher’s new season.  Counting the minutes.

NH-Sen & MN-Sen: Bipartisanship

Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 19:09 PM EST

Democratic Governor John Lynch has released a statementmaking clear that he will appoint a Republican rather than a Democrat to fill the vacancy created should Democratic President Barack Obama name Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become Commerce Secretary:

“I have had conversations with Senator Gregg, the White House and U.S. Senate leadership. Senator Gregg has said he would not resign his seat in the U.S. Senate if it changed the balance in the Senate. Based on my discussions, it is clear the White House and Senate leadership understand this as well.”It is important that President Obama be able to select the advisors he feels are necessary to help him address the challenges facing our nation.

“If President Obama does nominate Senator Gregg to serve as Commerce Secretary, I will name a replacement who will put the people of New Hampshire first and represent New Hampshire effectively in the U.S. Senate.”

That’s right.  Not only is our Democratic President willing to put another Republican in his Cabinet (making three, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Defense Secretary Robert Gates – I recall hearing today, but I have not confirmed, that three members of the opposing Party in the Cabinet at the same time is the most since FDR’s first term!), but the Democratic Governor is willing to meet the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, despite the fact that the President, the Governor, and the clear political trend in New Hampshire is Democratic.

Democrats are bending over backwards to embody the spirit of bipartisanship to which Republicans in the Senate only exploit and pay lip-service.  Why do I say this, and what does this have to do with MN-Sen (though you’ve probably guessed by now)?

Minnesota only has one seated U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar.  Norm Coleman’s term expired last month, and Senator-elect Al Franken‘s seating is held up by Coleman’s frivolous, foot-dragging, evidence-free lawsuit, which has featured apparently-doctored evidence by Coleman as well as notoriously dud witnesses and lies regarding cherry-picked voters.

There is state law in Minnesota that the Governor and Secretary of State cannot sign an election certificate if there is an election contest underway.  Fine.  Coleman has blocked Senator-elect Franken’s election certification.  Whoopie for him.

Still, no one debates that the ultimate arbiter for the Senate race, as dictated by Section 5 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution, is the U.S. Senate (and that federal Constitutional law trumps state policy).  Further, there is precedent – very recent precedent, at that – of provisionally seating an uncertified-but-clearly-victorious Senate candidate while an election challenge was underway: Senator Mary Landrieu’s first Senate victory in 1996, a provisional seating supported by Republicans (emphasis added by me):

There is, moreover, historical precedent for seating Franken on a temporary basis. In 1996, Mary Landrieu won the Louisiana Senate seat in a hotly contested race. But her opponent, State Representative Woody Jenkins, alleged that massive election fraud had contributed to his defeat. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate agreed to look into the charges but allowed Landrieu to serve in the interim, pending investigation. The Rules Committee ultimately discovered that Jenkins had coached and paid witnesses to testify, thus discrediting his complaints of corruption and securing Landrieu’s place in the Senate.

That was then.  This is now:

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl has warned Democrats not to try to seat Al Franken any time soon, and he predicts the legal process will take at least a month to unfold, meaning the Senate may be stuck with 99 members well into February.In an unusual move, Kyl went to the Senate floor this morning to lay out all the reasons why the Minnesota Senate election remains unresolved, and he listed Sen. Norm Coleman’s arguments before the Minnesota courts. Coleman’s election lawsuit contends there are newly discovered ballots, missing ballots, wrongly rejected absentee ballots and double counting of votes.

An election was held.  A manual recount was undertaken.  Contested ballots were reviewed one-by-one by an independent panel.  Independent local election officials then reviewed absentee ballots to determine which were properly rejected and which should be counted.  After every possible review was conducted, Al Franken led by 225 votes and the results were certified by the independent Canvassing Board (not to be confused with an election certificate).  Al Franken won, and Norm Coleman has been unable to provide any hard evidence at all that confirms any wrongdoing in the election or any misconduct or miscounting that would move the result substantively in his favor.  Norm Coleman lost, notwithstanding Jon Kyl’s parroting of Coleman’s political talking points on the Senate floor.  But he is contesting.  Fine.  He is availing himself of the legal system (that his Party would seek to curtail others’ access to through so-called “tort reform,” but that’s another story).

In desperately clinging to the myth that votes were widely double-counted, the Coleman camp repeats the concept “one man, one vote.”  In the U.S. Senate, every state gets two Senators, two votes.  However, in the meantime, Minnesota only has one Senator.  Because of Norm Coleman’s frivolous lawsuit and the Senate GOP’s lack of that bipartisan spirit that they trumpet when it serves their ends, Minnesotans have only half of the representation and half of the avenues to constituent service in the U.S. Senate that every other citizen of the other 49 U.S. states has.

The U.S. Constitution is on Al Franken’s side.  Republican-supported Senate precedent is on Al Franken’s side.  And bipartisanship is on Al Franken’s side.  Just as our Democratic President has seen fit to name a Republican Senator to serve in his Cabinet, and New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor has seen fit to honor the demand of the Republican Senator that he be succeeded by a Republican, it only seems fitting that Republican Senators ought to allow the (Constitutionally-supported and precedent-supported) provisional seating of Senator-elect Al Franken while Norm Coleman’s frivolous lawsuit runs its course so that Minnesotans can enjoy full representation in the U.S. Senate once again.  It’s good for Minnesota.  It’s good for bipartisanship.

President Obama’s Economic Stimulus Bill is Bipartisan

Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 13:27 PM EST

Senate Republican “leader” Mitch McConnell has mocked efforts by President Obama to bring legislators together to work on the economic stimulus bill, and Republican Senators have threatened to filibuster President Obama’s legislation designed to stimulate our economy and create jobs.  But, it turns out that, even if Washington D.C. Republicans like Mitch McConnell want to take their ball and go home, President Obama’s economic stimulus bill has strong Republican support:

Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama’s economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama’s spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state’s share of the package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones last week with members of his state’s congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan.

“As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Gov. Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans,” said Douglas’ deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey.

Republican legislators don’t have to actually govern.  Republican legislators, given their weak minority status, don’t have to actually make tough decisions.  Republican legislators can very easily jump up on their soapboxes, baselessly criticize for the sake of being contrarian, and deleteriously obstruct legislation designed to invigorate our economy (an economy weakened by Republican “leaders” like Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush, no less).

Those Republicans who have to govern – i.e. Republican Governors – largely support President Obama’s economic stimulus bill.  If the economy doesn’t improve, Governor’s necks are politically on the line.  They need our economy back on track, and that’s why Republicans from Vermont’s Governor Jim Douglas to Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin are urging obstructionist Republicans in the Senate to knock off the soapboxing and get behind President Obama’s economic stimulus bill, which has bipartisan support, even if Washington D.C. Republicans would rather obstruct than stimulate the economy.

Early Monday Morning Quick Hits

Mon Feb 02, 2009 at 01:42 AM EST

  • New Hampshire: Given all of the talk this weekend about who would replace Republican Judd Gregg in the Senate should he become Commerce Secretary, I’m inclined to accept that it’s a done deal.  So, who will replace Gregg?  Blue Hampshire’s elwood breaks down the type of appointment that Governor John Lynch might make and concludes that Governor Lynch is most likely to pick a placeholder, but a placeholder from either Party.  On the Sunday morning political discussion shows, members of Senate Republican leadership sounded extremely confident that Gregg would be replaced by someone who would caucus with Senate Republicans, i.e. either a Republican or a Republican-leaning independent.Put it all together and you have a conventional wisdom that Gregg’s successor would be a Republican who would not run for a full term in 2010.  Earlier chatter centered on Republican former Governor Walter Peterson, but Peterson is 86-years-old.  Speculation then shifted to moderate (some might even say liberal) Republican former State Representative Liz Hager, who publicly endorsed Barack Obama for President, is pro-choice, and is sensible on taxation and the role of government.  Hager is in her early-to-mid sixties, the “right” age for someone to be active enough to serve as a Senator for a couple years, but old enough to not want to seek a six-year term on top of that.  However, speculation has again shifted:

    J. Bonnie Newman, a Republican with ties to current Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), is the “leading candidate” to replace Gregg as U.S. Senator from New Hampshire — if Gregg is named Commerce Secretary, according to two sources in the know.The word is that she may pledge not to run again. …

    – The Boston Globe: … She was chief of staff to Gregg when he was a congressman in the 1980s, and she was one of the first Republicans to publicly endorse Lynch in his 2004 challenge of then-Republican Governor Craig Benson, and co-chaired Republicans for Lynch.

    I can’t track down online Newman’s exact age, but she served as assistant dean of students at the University of New Hampshire a full forty years ago, so I would imagine that she is at least in her mid-to-late sixties, i.e. likely not a candidate to seek a full six-year term in 2010.  From what I’ve been reading, both Hager and Newman, if appointed to the Senate, would be more likely to vote like an Olympia Snowe than a John Sununu.  So either would be an upgrade on Judd Gregg, with the promise of an open seat for Election Day 2010.  On top of which, given that Hager was an Obama supporter and Newman a Lynch supporter, it’s not unreasonable to hope that either would withhold endorsing the eventual Republican nominee for Senate, choosing to stay neutral (perhaps even endorsing the Democratic nominee – especially if the Democratic nominee is either New Hampshire Democrat in the U.S. House, both of whom will no doubt work at least somewhat closely with Gregg’s eventual successor).  Not a bad deal.  We may know for sure by Monday afternoon whether or not Governor Lynch will have to make an appointment.  Stay tuned.

  • New York: It’s increasingly likely that Senator Chuck Schumer could face no Republican opposition in 2010.  With Schumer’s $10+ million bankroll and the NY-GOP more focused with putting up whatever muscle they can muster against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, I’d also bet that it’s more likely than not that Senator Schumer coasts.
  • Minnesota: Classy Norm Coleman blames the media for having the audacity to question him just days before Election Day – in front of cameras, no less – about allegations that a businessman and political benefactor may have funneled tens of thousands of dollars to his family.  Said Coleman, “They could have asked those questions quietly,” and “that could have been a quiet story. It could have been a story that came out the day after the election.”  It’s such a shame that Coleman’s dirty laundry was aired such that his constituents could hear about it before they decided whether or not to give him another six-year term.  Elsewhere, The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait explains his thought that “I can’t think of a good reason why Rod Blagojevich has become the most hated man in America while Norm Coleman still walks the streets with his head held high.”

The NRSC’s New Political Director

Sun Feb 01, 2009 at 20:35 PM EST

The Politico reports:

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn will announce on Monday that he has poached Randy Bumps and Sean Cairncross from the RNC, a move that helps Cornyn fill out the committee’s political and legal teams.Bumps, who served as Northeast Regional Political Director at the RNC in the last cycle, will take on the role of Political Director at the NRSC.

Cornyn told Politico in a statement that he expects Bumps to “play an essential role in helping us achieve our goal of recruiting strong candidates to challenge every incumbent Democrat Senator up for re-election.”

NRSC Chair John Cornyn has picked as political director for the NRSC last cycle’s Northeast Regional Political Director for the RNC.

In one of the most critical behind-the-scenes roles for the Senate GOP, Cornyn picked someone who was in charge of the region in which Republicans did the absolute worst last cycle.  The only states both east of the Mississippi River and north of the Missouri Compromise line (36° 30′) that gave their electoral votes to John McCain were Kentucky and West Virginia (that’s only 2 for 19, sports fans).  Further, New England said goodbye to its last Republican Congressperson.  That’s how bad Republicans did in the northeast.  And Cornyn handpicked the guy behind the Republican Party’s failing effort in the northeast to be political director for the committee charged with improving the Senate GOP’s numbers.


Saturday Round-Up

Sat Jan 31, 2009 at 18:12 PM EST

  • Roll Call lays out the end of 2008 fundraising numbers for the DSCC and NRSC:
    Committee Raised 11/25-12/31 Spent 11/25-12/31 Cash-on-hand Debt CoH Minus Debt
    DSCC just under $7 million $6.9 million $297,000 nearly $11 million about -$10.7 million
    NRSC just over $1 million $3.1 million $749,000 $4.9 million about  -$4.15 million

    In a nutshell, the NRSC starts off over $4 million in the red and the DSCC starts off almost $11 million in the red.  The GOP has about a $6.5 million advantage to kick off 2009.  Given that, over the 2008 cycle, the DSCC outraised the NRSC by about $163 million to about $94 million, starting off with a bit more debt (and a lot more to show for it) is hardly an obstacle of note.

  • There were 32 “Nay” votes in the U.S. Senate in opposition to health care for children, of course all Republican.  Among those 32 Nays opposing health care for sick children were: Bob Bennett (R-UT), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
  • The Senate GOP is also planning a filibuster of extremely popular President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus and job creation plan.  The Senate GOP wants to obstruct an extremely popular new President’s plan to save our failing economy that the Republican Party is largely responsible for allowing to fail.  On a completely unrelated note, Albert Einstein defined “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Keep up the great work, Senate GOP!
  • Over at TRPR, Nathan L. Gonzales gives some interesting perspective on statewide officials as Senate candidates:

    Only six of the 39 Senators who have been elected over the past four cycles were sitting statewide officials. Meanwhile, over the same time period, seven sitting statewide officials lost bids for Senate.

    However, it’s worth noting that, while the above passage might suggest that running for Senate as a current statewide officeholder is only about a 50-50 proposition, running against an incumbent had a lot to do with these thirteen races.  For the six statewide officeholders that won Senate seats over this time, four were running for open seats and only two were challenging incumbents.  On the flip-side, for the seven statewide officeholders that lost Senate seats over this time, five were running against incumbents, making their bids more difficult; and the two statewide officeholders that lost Senate bids for open seats were a Maryland Republican (Michael Steele) and a South Carolina Democrat (Inez Tenenbaum), clearly illustrating that partisan dynamics were key factors in these two races.

  • New Hampshire: Reportedly, official word has it that Republican Judd Gregg is the leading candidate to be named Secretary of Commerce and that the pick could happen as soon as Monday.  If Gregg is selected, appointing a replacement to serve out the rest of the term (Gregg is up for re-election in 2010 anyway) would of course fall to Democratic Govenor John Lynch.  The team at Swing State Project thinks that Governor Lynch is exactly the type of, dare I say it, maverick that could pick a Republican since it is a Republican giving up the seat.  So who might get the appointment if a vacancy occured?

    Lynch has yet to comment on the issue — heck Gregg has yet to be appointed — but right now the money is on former Gov. Walter Peterson (R). He was chair of the ‘Republicans for Lynch’ committee, would vote with Democrats as much as Maine’s Senators do, and most likely wouldn’t run in 2010.

    Politico throws out a lot more names:

    New Hampshire’s two Democratic House members, Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter, both are seen as leading Democratic candidates for the job. If Gregg stays in the Senate, he would be up for reelection in 2010 and could face one of them in a state that has trended Democratic in recent years.On the Republican side, a new name emerged Saturday as a potential Gregg successor: Bonnie Newman, a moderate Republican who has worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administration, and was chief of staff to Gregg when he served in the House.

    Other GOP names frequently mentioned are former Gov. Walter Peterson, former Sen. Warren Rudman, former state House speaker Doug Scamman (who’s a friend of Lynch), former Rep. Charlie Bass and former Sen. John Sununu, who lost his reelection bid in 2008 to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

    To be honest, if Gregg is the pick, I would prefer an Olympia Snowe-ish Republican hold the seat through the end of 2010, to be followed by a progressive like Congressman Paul Hodes, rather than have a LieberDem like Katrina Swett appointed and hold the seat for years and years.  Meanwhile, both MyDD’s Singer and Blue Hampshire’s Barker key in on the sensibility that, if Gregg is open to bolting the Senate for a Cabinet post, maybe his heart isn’t in running for another term should Gregg not get picked.  It musn’t be too much fun languishing in an ever-waning minority, one of New England’s last federally-elected Republicans.  Can we expect Gregg to announce a retirement from the Senate if he doesn’t get the Commerce nod?  That prospect is growing in likelihood.

  • Illinois: A new Research 2000 poll provides us with a wealth of data on IL-Sen:
    Democratic PrimaryBurris 26
    Schakowsky 12
    Giannoulias 11
    Undecided 51Republican PrimaryKirk 27
    Roskam 17
    Undecided 56Favorable/Unfavorable/No opinionBurris 35/35/30
    Schakowsky 33/10/57
    Giannoulias 36/15/49
    Kirk 37/41/22
    Roskam 19/23/58
    Head-to-Head ResultsBurris (D) 37
    Kirk (R) 30Burris (D) 38
    Roskam (R) 25Schakowsky (D) 36
    Kirk (R) 30Schakowsky (D) 37
    Roskam (R) 25Giannoulias (D) 38
    Kirk (R) 30

    Giannoulias (D) 38
    Roskam (R) 25

    So what do we see?  Both primaries are wide open.  Non-Burris Democrats enjoy 20+ positive net favorable ratings, while Republicans suffer from net negative ratings.  Meanwhile, in the match-ups, the numbers are almost comically stable.  Republican Roskam only gets 25 against each Democrat and Republican Kirk only gets 30 against each.  Meanwhile, the Dems are in the high 30′s.  It’s too early to say that even Roland Burris could win election, but it does seem that any Democrat would start off as the nominal favorite.  Although Burris does enjoy more support in the Democratic primary poll, the 51% undecided makes it clear that it’s anyone’s game.  Since the case against Burris in the primary (and, largely, in the general) would be that he’s ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s guy, the more primary opponents to dilute the pool, the better for Burris.  Nate Silver asks “Could Roland Burris Be Re-Elected?” and agrees that the primary is Burris’ biggest hurdle.

  • Florida: Research 2000 also polled FL-Sen.  The R2K polling included people who have since turned down a possible 2010 Senate bid, but here are the key points.  Democratic primary voters are overwhelmingly undecided, and Congressman Kendrick Meek is the only Dem primary candidate above single digits.  On the Republican side, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio is not a first or second choice – not much GOP enthusiasm for him.  In a general election, either GOP Gov. Charlie Crist or GOP state AG Bill McCollum would start off with a substantial lead over any Democrat, according to the R2K numbers.  For what it’s worth, Meek leads Rubio 31-22.  The bottom line from this poll – it’s early, both in terms of candidates with very parochial geographic bases expanding their name ID and in terms of figuring who is actually running.
  • Kansas: Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt is definitely 100% in the 2010 Senate race in Kansas, setting up a big GOP primary against fellow Rep. Jerry Moran.  Two of Kansas’ top Republicans slugging it out against one another certainly provides Governor Kathleen Sebelius an optimal chance to win the seat, especially if the Tiahrt-Moran battle turns divisively negative.
  • Pennsylvania: Maybe it’s just because the Pittsburgh Steelers are in this weekend’s Super Bowl, but rumors have sprung up that former star running back for the Steelers (and an Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention) Franco Harris might be interested in a 2010 Senate bid.  However, remember that the last Steeler to run for statewide office, Lynn Swann in a 2006 gubernatorial bid, got crushed by 20 points.  However, Swann was a Republican running against Ed Rendell.  No idea how Harris might fare, what issues he’d focus on, or if he’s even interested.
  • New York: Senator Kristen Gillibrand is continuing her non-stop outreach to introduce herself to New Yorkers and hear their concerns.  On a related note, powerful New York Congressman Charlie Rangel expects that talk of a primary challenge to Gillibrand will fade in the coming months as Gillibrand establishes her Senate record.
  • Claire McCaskill is badass.

The New Head of the Republican Party

Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 23:57 PM EST

Early Friday Morning Rundown

Fri Jan 30, 2009 at 00:43 AM EST

  • It’s always very funny when Republican leaders call for a reboot of the GOP brand, in this case Republican “leader” Mitch McConnell, because the way they vote and think never, ever, ever changes.  Says Mitch:

    As Republicans, we know that commonsense conservative principles aren’t regional. But I think we have to admit that our sales job has been. And in my view, that needs to change.

    It’s the sales job!  That’s it.  Republicans just have to come up with a better sales pitch to America’s working families for the GOP’s positions against higher wages, better health care, a cleaner environment, and a saner foreign policy.  Then America’s working families will be putty in the GOP’s hands.

  • New Hampshire: Republican Judd Gregg is being floated as a possible Commerce Secretary in the Obama Administration.  This would be a pick rife with interesting political dynamics.  Maybe the Obama Administration is just floating the name to gain some favor and support for the economic stimulus bill with Republican Senators.  But maybe this isn’t just a gimmick – it could be serious.  If Gregg was picked and he accepted, Governor John Lynch would appoint Gregg’s successor, likely naming a Democrat, which would give the Democratic caucus 60 votes.  Would Gregg take the gig?  Given that New Hampshire has been perhaps the single most blue trending states over the last half-decade, Gregg will likely have a tough re-election battle ahead of him – and the result could be his joining former Senator John Sununu on the unemployment line.  A stint as Commerce Secretary, even in a Democratic administration, might be preferable to a difficult re-election slog over the next two years.  However, SSP’s DavidNYC has legitimate political concerns:

    Gov. John Lynch would get to fill the vacancy, and he is very untrustworthy when it comes to matters of partisanship. He’s said ten times as many nice things about John McCain as he has about any Democrat. He’s regularly undermined Dems seeking elective office in New Hampshire, more than once supporting their Republican rivals (like GOP state Sen. Bob Odell). He’s just really not much a Dem.In short, if there is any sitting Dem governor who might appoint a Republican in circumstances like this, it’s Lynch. At the very least, I think there’s almost no way he’d appoint Paul Hodes, who is our strongest candidate and a proud progressive. Lynch would very likely appoint a wishy-washy Lieberdem, perhaps even 2004 Lieberman national co-chair Katrina Swett (who briefly ran for Sununu’s seat last cycle).

    I’m with DavidNYC.  I’d rather have a scared Judd Gregg diving to the left for two years, and then bounce him with the likes of Paul Hodes, rather than ship him to Commerce and replace him with Katrina Swett or a Republican.  This could all be moot anyway – stay tuned.

  • Minnesota: As Norm Coleman’s frivolous lawsuit to keep Senator-elect Al Franken out of the Senate continues, Coleman’s ever-waning credibility takes another hit:

    After he lost the unofficial lead in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount, Republican Norm Coleman called for an exhaustive review of rejected absentee ballots to see whether they should be counted. But a state elections official testified Wednesday that Coleman pursued a different strategy when he was leading.Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann said that in December the Coleman camp wouldn’t accept 1,346 absentee ballots that county elections officials said were wrongly rejected. Gelbmann testified that even when he said there was “little doubt” that 93 of the ballots were valid, Coleman’s lawyers said “they needed time to look over the list.” …

    [Coleman attorney Ben] Ginsberg said the campaign’s earlier arguments were made during a more limited administrative recount overseen by the state Canvassing Board, and “this contest, before these judges, is a new proceeding.”

    Not only has the Coleman camp been caught being dishonest about their tactics, now they’re caught redhanded lying about cherry-picking voters:

    The Coleman team is continuing to call as witnesses some aggrieved voters to complain that their ballots were wrongly rejected. This didn’t go too well last time, and the newest pair had their fun moments. One of them was college student Peter DeMuth, who sent away for an absentee ballot because he goes to school in Fargo, North Dakota — he even drove several hours to St. Paul this morning, just so he could get his vote counted.Upon cross-examination by Franken attorney Kevin Hamilton, DeMuth said he was contacted by the Republican Party and told about the problem. “They asked me if I knew my absentee ballot had been rejected. I said no,” said DeMuth. “They asked me if I was a supporter of Norm Coleman, and I said yes, and they proceeded to ask me if I would like to go further.”

    Let’s think about this for a moment: Over the last several days, the Coleman camp has said repeatedly that they are not cherry-picking who they’re helping out, that they don’t know who the people they’re advocating for actually supported, and for all they know they’re helping out Franken-voters.

    Norm Coleman is a liar.  His campaign staff consists of liars.  They have zero, I repeat zero, integrity – and even less credibility.

  • Florida: Republican Congresscritter Vern Buchanan met with the NRSC to discuss a 2010 Senate bid.  Politico, in highlighting Buchanan’s meeting, also reminded us of Buchanan’s ethical baggage: allegations that he pressured employees to contribute to his campaign.  But that’s not all.  A former U.S. Senator may get in on the FL-Sen mix – but it’s not a former U.S. Senator from Florida.  Former U.S. Senator from New Hampshire Bob Smith, who moved to Florida to sell real estate after his 2002 electoral defeat in the NH-Sen primary, has reportedly contacted past supporters to get their input on a possible 2010 Senate bid in Florida.  That candidacy would be pretty awesome.
  • New York: A new Siena College poll indicates that a majority of New Yorkers (51%) approve of Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s appointment, but a larger majority (63%) would like to a see a competitive primary.  According to the poll (PDF), Senator Gillibrand narrowly leads Rudy Giuliani in a hypothetical match-up, 44-42, and she crushes Peter King 46-23.  Go for it, Peter!  Give up that House seat and run for Senate!
  • Arizona: A primary challenger for John McCain doesn’t sound so far-fetched when you hear grassroots sentiment like this:

    But now that he has lost the presidency, there are some Republicans in Arizona who would like to see him lose his Senate office, too. “I’ll do anything I can to support his Republican opponent, whoever that might be,” Rob Haney – who until last week was chairman of the Republican party in Arizona’s District 11 – told me recently. Haney has been a loud and vocal critic of McCain for years, arguing that McCain is “not a conservative in any way, shape, or form.”  …For the moment, Haney and others are putting their hope in J. D. Hayworth, the former congressman who now has a radio talk show in Phoenix. On the air, Hayworth has pushed particularly hard on the issue of illegal immigration, labeling McCain’s “comprehensive” reform proposal an amnesty plan.

    When I talked to Hayworth about a possible candidacy, he didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no. “That’s very flattering, but I don’t know,” Hayworth told me. “That’s in the future. Obviously I have some polite but profound disagreements with John.” …

    Hayworth told me that “a steady drumbeat” of his radio listeners have encouraged him to take the plunge. When I asked whether state powerbrokers have also urged him to run, he told me, “I think a lot of them would like to remain anonymous.”

    With now-former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano heading up the Homeland Security Department, it would be tougher for Democrats to capitalize on a divisive primary fight between McCain and Hayworth – but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t make for great entertainment.  Go J.D.!

  • California: Speculation has businesswoman Carly Fiorina eyeing Senator Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat.  Of any of the names bandied about, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, Fiorina is the one I’m most worried about.  So let’s hope this remains speculation.
  • Louisiana: Prostitute-lovin’ David Vitter has a battle in front of him that could significantly impact whether or not he makes it out of the 2010 Republican Senate primary – he has to make sure fewer Louisianans vote Republican:

    An ongoing battle within the ranks of the Louisiana Republican Party may well determine whether Louisiana US Sen. David Vitter receives his party’s nomination for the coming 2010 senatorial election. The question for the party faithful is whether or not to allow independent voters to vote in GOP congressional primaries and runoffs. Look for the Vitter forces to strongly oppose any such movement. The issue will be brought to a head next month. …But will independent voters who are allowed to vote in a Republican primary be more or less likely to sign on to the Vitter conservative agenda?  Some think not, and feel such changing of the process allows room for a primary challenge to Vitter.  It’s no secret that Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is eyeing a challenge to Vitter, and he would certainly benefit by new and less doctrinal voters being allowed to vote in the Republican primary.

    So what initially is looked on as an internal party effort to increase voter participation may turn into a donnybrook between the incumbent Republican Senator and the current Secretary of State over who gets the edge in the 2010 Republican primary.  If Dardenne’s forces behind the scenes are successful in pushing through a more open process of participation, look for the first term Secretary of State to kick off a much more aggressive effort in both fund-raising and name recognition throughout 2009.

    How the LA-GOP comes down on this will not only inform us of the viability of potential primary opponents for Vitter, but also how strongly the LA-GOP’s grassroots activists back Vitter despite his personal baggage.  If Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne or Family Research Council President Tony Perkins offer any public comments in support of a more open primary, it will also tip us off as to how strongly they’re considering a primary challenge.

    In other news, Draft Stormy (check out for all the details) is an effort to urge Baton Rouge native and adult film star Stormy Daniels to enter the 2010 Senate race.  From an e-mailed press release:

    Inviting Louisianans and Americans to “Join the Storm” the website features a petition page along with an extensive overview of Stormy Daniels and her qualifications to tackle some of the biggest issues facing both the Pelican State and the nation in general.For example, a section titled, “It’s the Economy, Sexy,” examines how the current economic crisis is impacting all sectors of the economy including the adult entertainment industry. …

    Additionally, the DraftStomy site focuses on Daniel’s commitment to promoting female entrepreneurship and protecting children from adult content on the internet, an issue Stormy has long championed.

    No word on Daniels’ Party affiliation, but she could have a lot of fun with this and have a substantive impact on the race if it helps remind voters of David Vitter’s hypocrisy by campaigning on “family values” while cheating on his family with prostitutes.

  • Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter is hilarious!
  • Wisconsin: Senator Russ Feingold has re-tooled his website for his re-election campaign.  Check it out!

Early Thursday Morning Briefs

Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 00:39 AM EST

  • Americans prefer that Democrats instead of Republicans control Congress, by a two-to-one margin:

    Forty-six percent of those questioned in a Diageo/Hotline survey released Wednesday say they would support the generic Democrat in the 2010 elections for the House of Representatives, with 22 percent backing the generic Republican candidate. That’s a 24 point lead for Democratic congressional candidates in the so called “generic ballot” question, which asks voters their preference for the U.S. House without naming the candidates running in each district.These results are in line with a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted two weeks ago that found that 56 percent of those questioned think the country would be better off if Congress was controlled by Democrats. That 25 points higher than the 31 percent who said the nation would be better off if Republicans controlled Congress.

    But that’s not all.  When Republicans try to suggest that Americans disapprove of Congress in general, keep this point in mind:

    Forty-nine percent of those questioned in the Diageo/Hotline survey approve of how the Democrats in Congress are performing, with 38 percent disapproving. As for the GOP minority: Disapproval jumps to 62 percent, with 26 percent approving of how congressional Republicans are handling their jobs.

    Let the GOP be the GOP.  And let the nation keep getting bluer.

  • Swing State Project unleashes its first Senate Race Ratings of the 2010 cycle.  Very solid and thorough analysis – no big disagreements from me.
  • Florida: Both Democratic Congressman Allen Boyd and Republican state Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that they are out of the 2010 Senate scrum.
  • Minnesota: It appears that Norm Coleman may have faked his own website crash as a way to claim substantial support.  Kudos to MNPublius’ Aaron Landry for the terrific detective work.  After Coleman’s star witnesses in his election contest were a bust and his “evidence” was shown to be faulty, I guess he’s really digging deep in the theatrics barrel.
  • New York: Senator Kristen Gillibrand is making a couple of moves to enhance her chances of avoiding a primary challenger.  Firstly, she is reportedly meeting with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy at some point in the next week and a half.  No doubt they will discuss the issue of gun control, among other issues, and figure out where they can work together.  Will this meeting reassure McCarthy and put her primary threats to rest or reaffirm McCarthy’s commitment to challenge Senator Gillibrand if she decides that they are too ideologicallly far apart?  We’ll see.  Secondly, Senator Gillibrand has retained the services of one of New York’s most powerful Hispanic power brokers to help with outreach to the Hispanic community.  If he does his job, she’ll see less press that looks like this.
  • Kentucky: Republicans really want Jim Bunning to retire.  Shortly after Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had a “lapse of memory” over his Kentucky colleague Bunning’s 2010 re-election plans, NRSC Chair John Cornyn apparently “didn’t listen very well” to Bunning’s re-election announcement:

    A day after Sen. Jim Bunning insisted he would seek a third term, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said he still wasn’t sure whether the Kentucky Republican would actually run.”I don’t think he’s made a decision on whether to run,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the NRSC. “We’re working with Sen. Bunning now to provide him all the information he needs in order to make that decision.”

    Bunning’s response: “he’s either deaf or he didn’t listen very well.”

    The issue is extraordinarily sensitive for Republicans. They fear that Bunning’s erratic behavior and his poor fundraising could imperil the party’s chances to hold onto the seat, as Politico reported last week. But they also don’t want to be seen as trying to push the senator to step aside. …

    When pressed if he’d endorse Bunning if he runs for reelection, Cornyn said: “I have to say, if he does, we’re going to support our incumbents.”

    Very smooth, Cornyn.  I hope Bunning runs for re-election, if only to spite the Republicans trying to push him out the door.  I may even have to add Bunning to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.

  • Colorado: Senator Michael Bennet could have a very tough Republican opponent in 2010.  However, early indications suggest otherwise:

    State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams said Republicans considering a run for the Senate include former congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate majority leader and state treasurer Mark Hillman, KHOW-AM talk show host Dan Kaplis and Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier.

    Hillman served as Treasurer for a short stint in 2005-2006, appointed by then-Gov. Bill Owens (R) when then-Treasurer Mike Coffman was called to duty in Iraq.  Hillman ran for a full term in 2006 and lost by 40,000 votes to now-Treasurer Cary Kennedy.  That margin of defeat was nothing compared to Beauprez’s 2006 loss against Bill Ritter for Governor, a 213,000 vote Republican loss.  And these are the CO-GOP’s top prospects.

  • Kansas: According to an internal poll from Republican Jerry Moran’s 2010 Senate campaign, Moran has a substantial lead in his Senate primary campaign against fellow GOP Congresscritter Todd Tiahrt, leading 41-25, with 34% undecided.  The poll shows that, among Kansas Republicans, both Moran and Tiahrt enjoy approval ratings in the 40s and disapproval ratings in the single digits.
  • North Carolina: Politico is speculating that former President Bill Clinton’s attendance at a fundraiser for Congressman Heath Shuler is a signal that Congressman Shuler is more strongly considering a 2010 Senate bid against Republican freshman Richard Burr.  Also in attendance at the Shuler fundraiser was another Democrat considered a top tier potential Senate challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Early Wednesday Morning Tidbits

Wed Jan 28, 2009 at 01:14 AM EST

  • Check out this entry from the very insightful charts department.
  • New York: Senator Kristen Gillibrand was sworn in Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden.  Congratulations, Senator Gillibrand.  According to a new Marist poll, New Yorkers support Senator Gillibrand’s appointment by about a 2-to-1 margin, 46-24.Meanwhile, it turns out that Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who has threatened a primary challenge to Senator Gillibrand over Gillibrand’s record on gun legislation, was a contributor to both of Gillibrand’s successful House races.  This would be just interesting political trivia but that McCarthy gave a kind of troubling explanation for the contributions: “I didn’t know what her stance was.”  That might be an acceptable explanation for the contribution to the 2006 House race, before Gillibrand had a Congressional record, but it doesn’t pass muster for the re-election bid contribution, at which time Gillibrand had already begun building her Congressional record.  If this issue is provocative enough for McCarthy to threaten a primary challenge, surely she would have informed herself as to Gillibrand’s positions before cutting a check.  This leads me to one of two conclusions: either McCarthy wanted to primary Gillibrand anyway and is simply looking for the most noble rationale for a primary challenge; or, McCarthy is just trying to pull Gillibrand to the left and won’t follow through on her primary threat.  McCarthy said that a decision on a primary challenge won’t come until “spring or early summer.”  I’d predict that she won’t wage a primary challenge.
  • Illinois: Senator Roland Burris has reportedly signed a statement of candidacy for 2010.  This by no means guarantees a Burris for Senate campaign in 2010; but, rather, it simply indicates that Burris is keeping his options open and doesn’t want to be treated as a placeholder until he makes his mind up about 2010.  Regardless of Burris’ plans, remember that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has been conversing with state Party leaders about a possible 2010 Senate candidacy of his own; and, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has refused to rule out a 2010 Senate bid.
  • Colorado: A new Public Policy Polling poll matches up new Senator Michael Bennet against four Republicans, two of whom confirmed very recently that they would not be candidates for Senate in 2010.  Bennet: leads state Attorney General John Suthers 40-34, leads former Congressman Scott McInnis 43-37, leads former Congressman Tom Tancredo 48-39, and trails former Governor Bill Owens 44-41.  Overall, these are very strong numbers for Bennet.  PPP even explains why trailing Owens by (only) 3 is solid:

    Still, even the Owens showing seems pretty strong for Bennet given that most voters in the state had never heard of him five weeks ago. That close match against Owens comes even as Bennet leads the Hispanic vote just 45-40 at this very early stage, a performance Bennet would likely exceed by a good deal given how that vote broke down in the 2008 election cycle in the state.

    The PPP poll put Senator Bennet’s favorable-unfavorable at 33-21, a very strong favorability ratio, with 45% of respondents unsure.  Clearly, Senator Bennet still has much work to do to introduce himself to Coloradoans, but initial numbers are very promising.  To be in a statistical dead heat with the most recent Republican Governor despite the fact that half the state still has no opinion of Bennet, it bodes well.

  • Kentucky: Despite efforts by Republicans to nudge Jim Bunning into retirement, Senator Bunning is making it quite plain that he is running for re-election and he’s politically slapping Mitch McConnell in the process:

    Republican Senator Jim Bunning declared emphatically Tuesday that he is running for re-election in 2010, despite his cash-poor war chest and reports that some Republicans want him to step aside.On a conference call with local reporters in Kentucky, Bunning also expressed frustration with fellow Kentuckian, Sen. Mitch McConnell, who said last week he wasn’t sure what Bunning’s intentions are for the upcoming cycle.

    “He either had a lapse of memory or something when speaking to the Press Club last week when he said that he didn’t know what my intentions were,” Bunning said of the Senate Minority Leader, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “He knew very well what my intentions were.”

    Bunning suggested McConnell wasn’t being truthful.

    “I had an hour-long meeting with Sen. McConnell in the first week of December in 2008, and we thoroughly discussed my candidacy for the Senate in that hour meeting in my office in Northern Kentucky, and gave him every indication that I was going to run again,” Bunning said on the call.

    Meanwhile, The Rothenberg Political Report pulls out of the political memorabilia drawer rather clever trading cards produced by now-Liieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo’s 2004 Senate campaign parodying Republican Jim Bunning’s baseball career and highlighting Bunning’s support for special interests and opposition to policies that improve opportunities for working families.

  • Florida: A new name is making the scene on the Democratic side in the FL-Sen primary: Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.  Politico points out that she may have geography on her side as “she hails from Hillsborough County — one of the major political battlegrounds in the Sunshine State.”
  • Ohio: Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner both indicate that they are considering the 2010 Senate race, and are even conversing with each other about it, but aren’t commenting publicly beyond that.  Fisher did say that he may make a decision “sometime in February.”
  • Nevada: The conservative Legacy PAC pins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s favorable-unfavorable at 47-47 in a new NSON Opinion Research poll.
  • Georgia: Could this be what Charlie Cook was talking about when he made reference to a possible primary challenger to a Republican Senator?  Rumor has it that Congressman Paul Broun may be considering a primary challenge to Republican Johnny Isakson.  Tondee’s Tavern’s Johnathan McGinty points to the possibility of Broun’s Congressional district being carved out in decennial redistricting as a reason why this challenge might actually make perfect sense.  We’ll keep a close eye on this one.
  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman is a dolt.  Details inside.
  • Texas: If this ham-handed pander by Houston Mayor Bill White represents what we can expect from his Senate campaign, it pushes me toward former state Comptroller John Sharp‘s campaign.

Monday Evening Items

Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 20:24 PM EST

  • New York: Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday at 12:30pm.  Meanwhile, New Yorkers’ opinions of her appointment according to a new Quinnipiac poll offer insights on the political dynamics:

    Republicans approve of the selection by a larger margin than Democrats. Republicans approve by 56%-27%, while Democrats have a 41%-35% approval-disapproval rating.Gillibrand, however, is still an unknown quantity to most New Yorkers, with 63% saying they don’t know enough to hold any kind of opinion of her. Twenty-five percent hold a favorable opinion of her and 10% have an unfavorable opinion.

    This would suggest that Gillibrand should be more concerned about a primary challenge than a Republican opponent.  It would also suggest that she should spend a lot of time in the Big Apple as upstaters are largely supportive of her pick:

    Upstaters approved of the appointment 55 percent-to-25 percent, while New Yorkers approved 41-34.

    Is Republican Peter King politically foolish enough to challenge that?  We’ll see.  King does have Rudy Giuliani’s full support, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Kentucky: Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo has announced that he will run for Senate in 2010, presumably against Republican Jim Bunning.  You can read Mongiardo’s full statement here.  In 2004, Mongiardo nearly beat Bunning, losing by less than 23,000 votes out of more than 1.7 million cast.  Will Mongiardo’s entry clear the Democratic field of major candidates?  If I had to offer predictions, I’d expect Congressman Ben Chandler and state Auditor Crit Luallen to stay out of the race, but state Attorney General Jack Conway to go for it.  Meanwhile, we all await Jim Bunning to more substantially move forward with alleged re-election plans.
  • Colorado: That sound you hear is John Cornyn and the NRSC coughing up the ball.  State Attorney General John Suthers, Colorado’s only Republican statewide officeholder, has decided against challenging Senator Michael Bennet in 2010.  Republican former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, who had announced his intention to run for Attorney General (ostensibly under the presumption that Suthers would run for Senate), is now backing out of his AG bid and could run for Senate himself.  The Denver Post did note that GOP former Rep. Scott McInnis, who had considered a 2008 Senate run, is not interested in a 2010 bid, but is considering a gubernatorial run.  We all await seeing who the NRSC turns to as Plan B.  Maybe they’ll have to choose between the lesser of two embarrassments in Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo.  The biggest name publicly considering the race for the Republicans: Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier.  Yeah.
  • Florida: State Senator Dan Gelber will formally announce his entry into the 2010 Senate race tomorrow, vying for the seat from which unpopular Republican Mel Martinez is retiring.  Gelber joins Congressman Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary.  With Florida’s CFO Alex Sink out of the race, Congressmen Allen Boyd and Ron Klein are the only other likely potential Senate entrants for the Dems.  On the Republican side, we still await word from a number of possible candidates, including state Attorney General Bill McCollum, former state House speakers Allan Bense and Marco Rubio, and Congresscritters Connie Mack and Vern Buchanan.
  • Ohio: Another Democratic name needs to be added to the OH-Sen “Maybe” list: Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones.
  • Minnesota: Republican Norm Coleman’s election contest of Senator-elect Al Franken‘s victory has begun.  Both sides gave opening arguments.  The Coleman camp’s could be summarized as “The local election officials are wrong; the Canvassing Board is wrong; Al Franken is wrong; in fact, everyone is wrong but us!”  The Franken camp’s could be summarized as “Coleman does not have actual evidence of vote-counting problems necessary to overturn the state canvassing board’s certification – simple as that.”  While that sounds bad for Coleman, today actually went even worse, as Coleman’s crew was called out for its shoddy pseudo-evidence:

    Earlier today, Franken attorney Marc Elias raised serious questions about the Coleman campaign erasing sections from photocopies of rejected absentee-ballot envelopes that they’re attempting to get put into the count. Later questioning revealed that the submitted copies also include written notes added on to the envelopes by the Coleman team, and it’s impossible to tell what writing was there originally and what was added by the Coleman camp.The judges have now ordered Coleman’s legal team to subpoena and submit the original ballot envelopes themselves, if they want them to be reviewed and potentially counted.

    It could have been worse still for Coleman:

    It could have been worse — the judges have bent over backwards by giving Coleman another chance to submit this evidence, instead of striking the claim entirely.

    I don’t doubt that the Coleman camp and Republicans will cry about unfair treatment from the judges when they lose their challenge, but the judges are showing them every conceivable courtesy.  The highlight of the day was Franken lawyer Marc Elias’ questioning of Coleman campaign political director Kristen Fuzer.  Read for yourself – brutal stuff.

OH-Sen: Rob Portman, “A Bush Guy”

Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM EST

Republican Senate candidate two-time George W. Bush appointee Rob Portman will no doubt spend the entirety of his Senate campaign running away from George W. Bush and his record.  However, that will be awfully difficult given that Portman served as George W. Bush’s Trade Representative (May 17, 2005 – May 29, 2006) and Office of Management and Budget Director (May 29, 2006 – June 19, 2007), two key roles on George W. Bush’s economic team.  Nevertheless, Portman is trying to run from Bush and has been called out for it.  I thought an early examination of Portman’s relationship to George W. Bush might be in order.Portman and George W. Bush’s Record Budget DeficitsWhen Bush nominated Portman in April ’06 to be his budget director, Portman set clear goalsand outlined how to reach those goals:

“Now is not the time to risk losing ground by raising taxes,” he said. “Instead we must continue pro-growth policies and tighten our fiscal belts in order to cut the deficit in half by 2009.”

How did Portman do in the deficit-slashing department?

The budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2006, when Portman took over as budget director, was about $250 billion.  The budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2008, the most recently completed fiscal year, was over $450 billion.  Portman’s goal was to cut the budget deficit in half.  Instead, the budget deficit nearly doubled.  That is the legacy of George W. Bush’s budget director, Rob Portman.

Portman and George W. Bush’s “Poor” Economy

Well, that’s the budget; but, what about trade?  Portman sounded awfully excited to stand at Bush’s side and promote Bush’s agenda back in the day:

Mr. President, thank you very much. I am very proud to stand at your side, and I am grateful for you giving me this opportunity to join your Cabinet and promote the bold international trade agenda you just described.

Well, what do Ohioans think of Mr. Bush and his economic agenda, including that “bold” agenda Portman supported?

The poll, conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, produced an overall approval rating of 29 percent for President George Bush and 61 percent for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, according to a news release.More specifically, 28 percent of respondents approve of Bush’s handling of foreign affairs and the war in Iraq, while 26 percent approve of the way he has handled the economy, according to the poll.

In that poll from just this past summer (before the Wall Street collapse, which no doubt drove Ohioans’ opinion of the economy even further down), more than half of Ohioans labeled both the U.S. economy and Ohio’s economy as “poor” and nearly 80% said that the economy would get worse.  And Rob Portman was a key architect of George W. Bush’s “poor” economy.

Portman and CAFTA

Specifically, let’s take CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, for example.  The Northeast Ohio Campaign for Manufacturing co-signed a letter (in PDF) which included the following:

Although you promise that CAFTA will open big new foreign markets for U.S.-made goods, the opposite is clearly true. The results of the outsourcing deals that have dominated U.S. trade policy over the last fifteen years are in: gargantuan trade deficits, shuttered factories, and formerly middle class American sliding down the job and wage scales. CAFTA is simply the latest in this series of outsourcing deals that are gutting our domestic manufacturing base.

That’s the sentiment of Ohio’s manufacturers.  What about Ohio’s farmers? (in PDF):

OFU [The Ohio Farmers Union] continues to oppose CAFTA and calls for re-pealing both CAFTA and NAFTA

Further, the Ohio AFL-CIO offered the position of Ohio’s workforce on CAFTA:

The U.S. House and Senate are ready to take action on the badly flawed Central American Free Trade Agreement — a deal that will mean the loss of more jobs in Ohio and the United States while doing nothing to improve working conditions or wages for workers in Central American countries.

Why is it salient that large segments of Ohio’s hurting workforce opposed CAFTA?

Portman, 50, left a promising career on the House GOP leadership track to join the administration a year ago and promptly helped win House passage of the controversial CAFTA accord by the narrowest of margins.

Without Rob Portman leading the way, CAFTA may not have passed, and would not have existed to hurt Ohio’s workforce.

Portman and Privatizing Social Security

Portman, even during his Congressional years, has been a strong supporter of George W. Bush’s plan to privatize social security.  Had Portman and Bush had their way, countless senior citizens would have seen their retirement security deteriorate before their eyes as Wall Street crumbled.  Well, what did Portman say about Bush’s plan to privatize social security (in PDF)?

President Bush has demonstrated political courage and leadership on this issue. We must develop sound policies now, to reduce the rate of growth and put these programs on a sustainable footing for the future.

George W. Bush: Portman’s Dirty Little Secret

It’s no surprise that, as a member of Congress, Portman carried George W. Bush’s water.  He’s always been a loyal Bushie, even before joining George W. Bush’s Cabinet, and even as he tried to sweep Bush under the rug to his constituents:

Very close to President George W. Bush, he acted as the liaison between Congressional Republicans and the White House during the first four years of the Bush administration. …Portman’s hometown paper described him as having “two personas: the well-connected Congressman who would surface on cable news channels as a ‘talking head’ for the Bush led agenda and another as the politician who drove himself from one small town pancake breakfast or Kiwanis luncheon to another in a district stretching 100 miles plus.”

Rob Portman is such a loyal Republican that he even comes with ready-made ties to corrupt Republican fundraiser Jack Abramoff:

Former Congressman Rob Portman, R-Ohio, got $4,000 from two tribes [that were clients of Abramoff's]. The contributions were made to America’s Majority Trust, the leadership PAC that Portman formed before he left Congress to join the Bush cabinet as U.S. trade representative.

Portman will even complicitly support the racist undertones of fellow far-right conservatives:

John McCain supporter and Ohio talk-radio host Bill Cunningham made headlines yesterday for repeatedly referring to Barack Obama using his middle name, Hussein, and disparaging the candidate as a terrorist sympathizer in introductory remarks at a McCain rally. But it was former Ohio congressman and former Bush administration official Rob Portman who really had his “macaca” moment yesterday by telling the crowd that Cunningham is an “extremely important” part of McCain’s presidential campaign and not condemning those types of remarks, as McCain himself did in remarks following his speech.Portman, who has his sights set on a leading role in national politics and who has been rumored as a possible running mate for McCain, instead praised Cunningham for his flagrant racism: “Willie, you’re out of control again. So, what else is new? But we love him. But I’ve got to tell you, Bill Cunningham lending his voice to this campaign is extremely important.”

Rob Portman: “A Bush Guy”

George W. Bush had few cheerleaders during his eight years as President who were more loyal than Rob Portman.  As WaPo’s Chris Cillizza put it:

A Bush GuyPortman has spent his entire career in the orbit of the Bush family — not exactly a sterling credential in this political environment.

Portman’s ties to the Bush family go all the way back to then Vice President George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign on which Portman worked before joining the White House general counsel’s staff after Bush’s victory.

His connections carried over to George W. Bush as Portman became chief liaison between the Bush campaign — and eventually the Bush White House — and Capitol Hill. Of Bush, he told the New York Times in 2003: ”He has a clear sense of what makes this country great. It makes it worthwhile being here to be with someone who has that passion.’

The Associated Press put it even more succinctly:

For an administration that cherishes loyalty, it’s difficult to find a more faithful supporter than Rob Portman

Portman was loyal to not just Bush the Man and Bush the President, but he was also a key player for Bush the Candidate:

When Republicans needed someone to play the role of Joe Lieberman in debate practice sessions with Dick Cheney in 2000, they turned to Rob Portman, a young House member from the Cincinnati area who had worked for the first President Bush. Four years later, when they needed a John Edwards stand-in, they hit up Portman up. (By then, he was one of the George W. Bush administration’s chief liaisons in Congress and a key player in Bush’s reelection campaign in Ohio.)

Portman is inextricably tied to George W. Bush’s record, especially Bush’s economic record in Ohio.  So I wonder how often Portman will talk about George W. Bush’s “political courage and leadership” or his “passion” and his “clear sense of what makes this country great” while on the Senate campaign trail.  Probably not often, if Public Policy Polling’s analysis is accurate:

We asked folks on the poll whether they thought George W. Bush or Barack Obama would prove to be a better President. Among those who said Bush would end up being better 54% said they had a favorable opinion of Portman, compared to 7% who said they viewed him unfavorably. 39% had no opinion yet.Among the respondents who said Obama would prove to be a better President the perceptions of Portman were a lot different, with 10% of those voters holding a positive impression of Portman but 37% having a dim view of him. 52% had no opinion.

The Ohio Democratic Party or Ohio’s labor unions should follow through on a suggestion I made last week:

Can I suggest that, before George W. Bush becomes too distant a memory, the Ohio Democratic Party should print up some simple “Rob Portman = George W. Bush” bumper stickers and circulate them.  Cement that message early.

Sunday Night Round-Up

Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 21:52 PM EST

  • Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold will introduce a Constitutional amendment this week requiring special elections for vacant Senate seats, which, Senator Feingold points out in his press release, the Constitution already mandates for the House.  WaPo’s editorial board would appear to be supportive of the idea.
  • New York: As Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand undertakes a listening tour to better get to know her new statewide constituency, the status of Gillibrand’s most likely primary and general election challengers are reported:

    Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), who is leading the Democratic opposition to Gillibrand, will today begin building the structure of a 2010 primary challenge, a McCarthy aide said.And Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he’s “seriously considering” a Senate run against Gillibrand in 2010. He variously called her selection by Gov. David A. Paterson a “fraud,” “payoff” and a “backroom” deal.

    I’ll believe McCarthy’s Senate campaign when I see it.  As for King, the rhetoric he is using in a desperate attempt to create an issue where none exists betrays how devoid he is of a genuine platform on which to run.  I would love to see him run and lose bad, excising him from Congress altogether.

  • Florida: Announcements coming soon:

    Look for state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami, to jump into the Senate race this week, but U.S. Rep. Ron Klein’s decision is probably a few weeks off. “We’re still doing some research. … I’ve had some very positive indicators from consultants, but I’m still working it through with my family and so forth,” he said.

    Also, on the prospects of a 2010 Senate campaign by Congressman Allen Boyd, the article offers:

    More and more Democrats doubt that U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, ultimately will give up his influential perch in Washington

    The longer it takes Boyd and Klein to decide, the less likely they are to enter the race, I’d imagine, as announced candidate and Congressional colleague Kendrick Meek is no doubt hustling behind the scenes to lock up political and financial support.  The Democratic primary in Florida’s 2010 Senate race could very easily become Meek v. Gelber.

  • Texas: Speaking of House members reluctant to cede their current seat in pursuit of a Senate seat, Republican Rep. Kay Granger suggests that she is less likely to pursuit a Senate bid when Kay Bailey Hutchison eventually resigns now that Granger has been named ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee.
  • Missouri: Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman reportedly has meetings planned this week with top Washington D.C. Republicans regarding a potential 2010 Senate bid.  I encourage her candidacy, as well as the candidacy of as many Republicans as needed to make their primary as divisive as possible.  Meanwhile, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan publicly acknowledges that she is considering a 2010 Senate bid.
  • Kansas: The Kansas City Star hypes up the expected 2010 Republican Senate primary between far-right-wing Congresscritters Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran.
  • This is pretty cool. You can super-zoom in on a photo from the inauguration.  Zoom in and scroll over to right behind President Obama speaking and you can see Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sleeping through the proceedings. (HT: Shenanigans)

Mystery Primary for Republican Senator, with poll

Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 15:00 PM EST

About a week ago, Charlie Cook relayed the following:

A fellow who oversees lobbying in all 50 states for a major corporation recently told me about a certain Republican U.S. senator up for re-election in 2010, someone generally regarded as fairly conservative who might face a serious challenge from a very conservative fellow Republican. The incumbent has not been tainted by scandal, has never embarrassed himself by making a major mistake, is highly regarded in Washington, and is considered a very effective senator.

Swing State Project has a lengthy discussion about this in their comments, focusing heavily on John McCain, Johnny Isakson, and Chuck Grassley.

Daily Kos’ brownsox offers a process of elimination on who it might be.  We start with the nineteen Republican-held seats up for re-election in 2010, and immediately count out retirees Mel Martinez of Florida, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Kit Bond of Missouri, and George Voinovich of Ohio.  Further, Arlen Specter is explicitly cited in the column as not being the target.  We can also discount David Vitter for scandal (soliciting prostitutes) and Lisa Murkowski for embarrassing herself (sweetheart land deal – also, the article alludes to a male Senator: “embarrased himself”).  brownsox rules out Jim Bunning and Tom Coburn for not being “highly regarded in Washington” – I’d concur with that.  Citing the same criterion, he also rules out Richard Burr, but I wouldn’t discount him under this criterion given that he was just named to the Senate GOP leadership, indicating some degree of regard.

As such, we are left with:
-Bob Bennett, Utah
-Richard Burr, North Carolina
-Mike Crapo, Idaho
-Jim DeMint, South Carolina
-Chuck Grassley, Iowa
-Judd Gregg, New Hampshire
-Johnny Isakson, Georgia
-John McCain, Arizona
-Richard Shelby, Alabama
-John Thune, South Dakota

On this list, there are five I count out, right out of hand:
1 & 2) Jim DeMint & Richard Burr: According to National Journal’s 2007 Vote Ratings, DeMint and Burr are the Senate’s first and third most conservative members.  It would be hard to see how a “very conservative fellow Republican” gains traction or runs to their right in a 2010 Republican Senate primary.
3) Richard Shelby: Shelby has over $13 million in cash on hand.  That is a mammoth bankroll.  I can’t fathom that any Alabama Republican who could be deemed a “serious” candidate is also foolhardy enough to take Shelby on in a primary.
4 & 5) John Thune & Mike Crapo: Simply put, South Dakota and Idaho are so small that any “serious” Republican considering a challenge would have been outed in the media already.

So, I’m focused on Bennett, Grassley, Gregg, Isakson, and McCain.  Here are some clues:

McCain: Reports suggest that rumors are circulating that Republican former Congressman J.D. Hayworth is considering a primary challenge to John McCain – and Hayworth may have plenty of breathing room.  The aforelinked article points out that, though McCain won his state’s 2008 Presidential primary, Mitt Romney actually won the “conservative” vote.

Grassley: An article in The Hill from two weeks after Election Day makes Chuck Grassley sound like a possible target for a Club for Growth-type primary challenger:

Conservatives are urging Sen. Mitch McConnell to appoint one of their own to the Senate Finance Committee, hoping to counter Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) tendency to compromise with Democrats.Far-right voices in the party, on and off Capitol Hill, fear Grassley, the highest-ranking Republican on Finance, is prone to strike deals not to their liking on an array of issues. …

“Chuck Grassley’s compromise on taxation on carried interest was horrible last year,” said Andrew Roth, director of government affairs at the Club for Growth, in reference to a proposed tax increase on the income of private equity and hedge fund managers. The fiscally conservative group advocates for lower taxes.

I don’t know if Iowa Congresscritter Steve King would be open to a primary challenge against Grassley, but he has certainly been drinking extra wingnut juice as of late.

Bennett: Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but it seems like Bob Bennett, in announcing his re-election bid, was more concerned about a primary challenge than a Democratic challenger.  Indeed, Bennett, who will be 77-years-old on Election Day 2010, must be looking over his shoulder at no shortage of Republican politicians in Utah who would love a promotion and would prefer not to wait another six years for it.  In that National Journal ’07 Vote Rating to which I previously linked, Bennett was rated only the 31st most conservative Senator.  Although he was still ranked a few notches more conservative than Utah colleague Orrin Hatch, one would imagine that Utah Republicans could field someone far more conservative than 31st.

Gregg: While not necessarily a reflection on Gregg, per se, it has not been too long since New Hampshire saw an incumbent Republican Senator ousted in a primary.  The year was 2002; Spiderman and The Bourne Identity ruled the box office; and, young Congressman John Sununu challenged sitting Senator Bob Smith in a Republican primary on his way to winning the office (before Jeanne Shaheen bounced him out in 2008).  With the NH-GOP in retreat the last couple electoral cycles, could another young Republican leader think they know best how to lead Granite State Republicans back to power?

I don’t have any thoughts on the topic regarding Isakson.  Heard anything?

If I had to guess who Cook’s anonymous source was referring to, I’d go with the potential Hayworth primary of McCain, as it’s the closest to something concrete, though I’m certainly intrigued by the Club for Growth’s discomfort with Grassley.  What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments and take the poll.

Saturday Quick Hits

Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 16:18 PM EST

  • Minnesota: Some progress has been made in preventing Republican Norm Coleman from endlessly drawing out his frivolous election contest against Senator-elect Al Franken: the three-judge panel hearing the lawsuit denied Coleman’s request for a re-recount of all ballots.
  • Kentucky: In the final quarter of 2008, Republican Jim Bunning raised only $27,357, amassed from only 26 contributions, leaving him with under $150,000 on hand at the end of 2008, fueling speculation that a retirement announcement may be near.  While we would love to see Bunning run again given his unpopularity, this does remind the Guru of former Senator John Warner’s infamous $500 quarter before his retirement announcement.
  • New York: In a move that I hope backfires by making him look like a slanderous dirtbag, Republican Peter King baselessly and pretty disgustingly inserts the phrase “pay-to-play” into the discussion over the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate:

    “If don’t know if there’s any pay-to-play connotation, but if she has contacts who can raise money for [Paterson] that should be out there… If her access to money trumps experience, he should tell us.”

    A losing 2010 King Senate campaign would result in him giving up his House seat; but, it would also allow King a megaphone with which to spew more of this bile until November 2010.  Hmmmm.

  • Texas: Here’s the latest tidbit on triangulating when Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison might resign from the U.S. Senate in pursuit of the Governor’s office:

    Hutchison has said she won’t seek re-election to the Senate. And though she plans to step down before her term is up in 2012, she said she hasn’t decided when that will be. It will be no earlier than the end of this year, she said, but she could wait until the 2010 election.

    So, what?  Spring of 2010?

  • Louisiana: This is awesome.  It looks like prostitute-lovin’ David Vitter will have at least one 2010 Republican Senate primary opponent: a woman who works in the “adult entertainment” industry.  It’s Primary Colors meets Dante’s Inferno.

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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