Wednesday Rundown

  • Happy Holidays, Democrats!  WaPo’s Cillizza delivers an early Christmas present to people who want to see Democrats make further gains in the Senate in the 2010 election cycle:

    J.B. Poersch, who as executive director in 2006 and 2008 oversaw a 13-seat Democratic gain in the Senate, and political director Martha McKenna, will both remain in their current roles for the 2010 election.

    Poersch and McKenna are, in a word, phenomenal.  With Chuck Schumer leaving the DSCC, I was worried that the senior staff might move on for new challenges, as well.  I’m thrilled to read that they are staying on.  While such staffing might fly under the radar of even the most tenacious of news junkies, this may be the best news Democrats will have this week.  (If you’re interested, read the Senate Guru interview of DSCC Executive Director J.B. Poersch from March.)

  • Graph of the day:

    On the heels of two successful cycles, Democrats may have an easier job recruiting top candidates in 2010 than they did in 2008. Republican sources say they aren’t far behind, as many believe the party has hit the bottom and there’s nowhere to go but up.

    The best thing one can say about the NRSC is that “there’s nowhere to go but up.”  And that might not even be accurate.  However, read the whole article.  It’s a fantastic read looking at key recruiting opportunities.  The article asks, when Democrats are able to win in 2008 on the backs of recruits who were not first-choices (like Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and North Carolina’s Kay Hagan), what happens in 2010 if Democrats get first-choices like Houston Mayor Bill White, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (as well as multiple strong options in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania)?  The answer may be “even bigger wins.”

  • Kansas: Republican Sam Brownback will reportedly make his impending retirement official with a formal announcement tomorrow.
  • Minnesota: Numbers are fuzzy, but it seems like the Canvassing Board’s review of challenged ballots is going very well for Al Franken.  That’s the most important news out of MN-Sen, but it’s actually not the most interesting.  What is?  Republican Norm Coleman and his wife have hired lawyers in connection with the federal investigation of as much as $100,000 funneled to them by a political benefactor.  Comically, the Colemans are using Senate campaign contributions to pay for their legal defense.  Jed succinctly notes the irony of Coleman using poltiical contributions for a purpose other than political campaigning, but rather to pay for a legal defense for, essentially, using money illegally: “At the heart of the money laundering allegations involving Norm Coleman is the proposition that he needed money. Well, this won’t make that impression go away.”  If anyone’s interested, the Guru will go halfsies on a lump of coal for Norm Coleman this holiday season.  In other MN-Sen legal news, Al Franken is working to ensure that 27 legal, valid, legitimate votes that were mistakenly disqualified get counted.
  • New HampshireThis Roll Call article includes the first mention I’ve seen that popular Democratic Governor John Lynch may be looking at challenging Republican Judd Gregg for Senate in 2010:

    Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes are looking at challenging Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) this cycle, while popular Gov. John Lynch (D) is also said to be looking into the race. …If he decides to run, Lynch could likely clear a primary field: The Democratic governor boasts one of the highest approval ratings in the country. But if Lynch decides to run for a fourth two-year gubernatorial term in 2010, Shea-Porter and Hodes could potentially be in a primary with each other. The relationship between the two Members, both of whom were elected in 2006, is said to be very good.

    Another potential problem for Democrats would be fundraising. While Gregg only had $879,800 in the bank at the end of September, Shea-Porter and Hodes each reported having less than $100,000 in their campaign accounts after wining their respective competitive re-election contests last month. As a state office holder, Lynch would have to start fundraising from scratch to wage a bid against Gregg.

    An upside of a Lynch candidacy, in addition to Lynch’s massive approval numbers, is that neither Congressperson, Paul Hodes nor Carol Shea-Porter, would have to sacrifice their House seats, potentially giving the Granite State a wholly Democratic federal delegation.  Gregg starting off with a million dollar edge on Lynch in fundraising is entirely negligible.  At the end of 2007, John Sununu had a nearly $2.3 million cash-on-hand edge over now-Senator-elect Jeanne Shaheen.  Further, the DSCC, of course, massively outraised the NRSC, allowing for more national help for the Democrat.  If Lynch enters the race, Gregg should start updating his resume for future work.

  • Colorado: With Senator Ken Salazar now Secretary of the Interior-designate Salazar, here is Colorado Pols’ initial Senate Line for the appointment to succeed Salazar:

    Ed Perlmutter (3-1): Already has a warchest to transfer; most ready to jump
    John Hickenlooper (5-1): The question is: does he really want the job?  And is Ritter still mad at him for 2006 race
    Andrew Romanoff (5-1): Andrew’s selling point is that no seat has to be given up
    John Salazar (7-1): If he fights for it, he’ll be tough; But CD-3 would be tough to hold if John were to leave

    Separately, two high-profile Republicans are indicating interest in running for the now-open Senate seat: state Attorney General John Suthers and Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid.  Best advice I can give to Suthers and Eid: lock up Dick Wadhams’ support early!

  • Florida: George W. Bush declares that Jeb Bush would make an “awesome” Senator.  Somewhere, Jeb was probably heard muttering, “Bro, you’re not helping!”  In related news, we have another very positive sign regarding a potential 2010 Senate bid by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink: she recently met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and DSCC Chair Bob Menendez.  Let’s hope Menendez is as good a salesman as Schumer was.  This would be an impressive recruiting victory if Sink ran.  Also, will early opposition for Congressman Ron Klein force his hand regarding his 2010 electoral plans?
  • Iowa: Former Governor Tom Vilsack’s appointment to head the Agriculture Department ostensibly takes him out of the running for Iowa’s 2010 Senate race, polling for which saw him in a statistical dead heat with Republican Chuck Grassley.  Sure, Grassley may yet retire, but Governor Vilsack was probably our strongest potential challenger.  Further, though Congressman Bruce Braley, for instance, might also be a strong challenger against Grassley, I doubt he’d give up his House seat for a run.  However, if Grassley does retire, brownsox sees a match-up between Braley and Republican Tom Latham.  I’d agree, and give Braley the edge.
  • Illinois: The Illinois state Supreme Court has just rejected state Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to temporarily remove, based on a lack of fitness to serve, Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.
  • Texas: A fourth Republican, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission Michael Williams, has declared that he will run for Senate when Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns her seat for her gubernatorial bid.  Williams, perhaps Texas’ most prominent black Republican, joins former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, and state Senator Florence Shapiro in the scrum.  Interestingly, it’s leaking that Texas Senator and NRSC Chair John Cornyn is playing favorites, as his preference is reportedly for state Attorney General Greg Abbott to enter the race.  While Abbott has no public comment on the race at this point, sources say that he’d pass on a race if extremely wealthy GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst got in.  Man, the GOP primary will be a wild one.  On the Democratic side, State Senator Leticia Van de Putte isn’t ruling out a bid.  While Senator Van de Putte doesn’t have the profile of current Democratic entrants Houston Mayor Bill White or former state Comptroller John Sharp, being both female and Hispanic would add demographic depth to the primary’s dynamics.
  • New York: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reportedly pushing for Caroline Kennedy.  Elsewhere, Time’s Joe Klein identifies four extraordinary New Yorkers who merit consideration based on experience and knowledge background – just an interesting collection (HT:Albany Project):

    –Dr. Harold Varmus, former head of the National Institutes of Health, now director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer hospital. He could add real value to the Senate’s health insurance debate.
    –Geoffrey Canada has spent his life doing extraordinary work with the young people, especially the young men, of Harlem. He would be a strong, African-American voice for the poor.
    –Vishaka Desai, president of the Asia Society would be the first member of the Senate born in India. She would bring great knowledge about the world’s hottest hot-spot to the Senate, plus great expertise in the areas of education and culture.
    –Judge Judith Kaye, the briliant chief justice of New York’s highest court, soon to retire.

    Just shows what a wealth of ability and knowledge and potential exists from which to choose.

  • ConnecticutThirty percent of Connecticut voters who voted for Joe Lieberman in 2006 “would vote for someone else if they could do it again today,” a Quinnipiac poll finds.  The poll finds Lieberman’s approve-disapprove at a terrible 38-54, with 75% of Democrats disapproving.
  • Arkansas: First, the disconnect on supporting the financial services bail-out but not the auto companies’ loan, and now gratuitous negativity on the Employee Free Choice Act.  Senator Blanche Lincoln is killing me lately.
  • Missouri: I’m glad the news permeates.
  • Yet again, Senate Guru is not Time’s Person’s of the Year.  Maybe next year.

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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