Susan Collins is Not a Moderate

Regular readers know that I consider Republican Susan Collins of Maine to be the most dishonest incumbent up for re-election in 2008 (even moreso than corruption czar Ted Stevens).  I have chronicled her long list of lies, hypocrisies, and right-wing allegiances and highlighted her history of manufacturing bogus scandals and artificial controversieswith which to attack political opponents.Not only is Susan Collins dishonest and hypocritical.  Her moderate façade is just that – a politically motivated ruse so that she can enjoy the reflected glow of Olympia Snowe’s approval rating while appeasing the far-right Republican leadership in the Senate and the Bush administration.  There is a long list of issues and individual pieces of legislation on which Senator Olympia Snowe and Democratic Congressman Tom Allen are on one side (read: the sensible side) of an issue while Republican Susan Collins sides with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.Maine State Representative Sean Faircloth laid out many of these issues in the Bangor Metro:

Senator Collins and President Bush disagree strongly with Senator Snowe, Congressman Mike Michaud, and Congressman Tom Allen. Like Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, Senator Snowe agrees we need a firm date for withdrawal from Iraq. Senator Collins would leave as many as 100,000 troops in Iraq over 10 years.President Bush proposed $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Like Congressmen Allen?and Michaud, Snowe voted no. Collins voted yes.

Habeas corpus protects legal rights in civilized nations. Like Congressmen Allen and Michaud, Senator Snowe voted to restore habeas corpus rights that had been suspended by President Bush for people labeled “terrorism suspects” by the Bush administration. Senator Collins voted the Bush line to continue this basic violation of human rights. The Washington Post (September 21, 2007) reported that Senator Collins was “visibly angry” about this vote-not because of the merits of denying basic rights, but because Senator Snowe had not provided “cover” for the pro-Bush vote of Senator Collins.

Like Congressmen Allen and Michaud, Senator Snowe opposes dangerous drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Senator Collins agrees with President Bush, supporting drilling.

Like Allen and Michaud, Snowe voted to protect overtime pay for workers. Collins agreed with President Bush, supporting Bush’s cap on overtime pay.

Like Allen and Michaud, Snowe opposed outsourcing federal government jobs to private entities, entities which actually gouged taxpayers. Senator Collins supported the Bush outsourcing.

This leads to one of the biggest scandals of the 21st century: Halliburton. Halliburton scammed billions from taxpayers. Senator Collins was chair of the Government Affairs Committee during the time Halliburton was stealing from you. When repeatedly asked to conduct an investigation, Senator Collins followed the Bush line, refusing to conduct an investigation into an ongoing scandal that cost Americans billions.

Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, Constitutional rights, energy policy, workers’ rights, outsourcing.  On all of them Snowe-Allen were on one side, and Bush-Collins were on the other.  As Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Collins had one of the most powerful seats from which to offer oversight on Iraq operations and investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and war profiteering.  But she didn’t oversee or investigate.  She carried George W. Bush’s water like a good Bushie.  Perhaps the best example of the principle-free political posturing with which Susan Collins conducts herself is that of the habeas corpus vote.  The Washington Post reports:

Collins was steaming mad yesterday when Snowe, without warning, switched her vote to side with Democrats to restore habeas corpus rights for terrorism suspects.Snowe had initially backed Republican leaders by voting “nay” on the procedural motion to force a final vote. But once it became clear that the GOP had more than enough votes to win, Snowe switched her vote to “yea.”

Snowe apparently did not inform her leadership of the switch, according to aides and senators familiar with the decision. Therefore, Collins never got the message, leaving her all alone.

Collins, who is facing a potentially tough reelection battle next fall against Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), an antiwar liberal, was visibly angry, according to eyewitnesses in the chamber’s press gallery. She paced around the floor, confronting several members of the leadership.

“There was just a miscommunication there,” explained Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), the Republican whip in charge of counting votes. Lott said that although Collins and Snowe almost always try to vote similarly on key issues, “sometimes they get their signals crossed.”’s partisan unity database shows that Snowe has managed to be ever so slightly more liberal in her voting record. She has sided with a majority of GOP colleagues on 62.5 percent of roll-call votes this year, compared with 66.7 percent for Collins.

Collins’s office had little to say about the vote switch, other than to maintain that she was not a flip-flopper. “She voted the same way the last time the issue came up,” spokeswoman Jen Burita said in an e-mail. “She did not discuss her vote with Sen. Snowe and we don’t have any idea why Sen. Snowe switched her vote.”

Snowe spokesman John Gentzel said: “Senator Snowe ultimately decided on this procedural motion simply to allow for additional debate on the issue. I don’t know if she had conversations with leadership.”

It’s all about political posturing as a moderate when the far-right GOP leadership has the votes it needs, and backing the far-right leadership when they need her vote.  If Collins knew that the GOP had the votes they needed and that Snowe was changing her vote (read: not giving her political cover), she would have quickly changed her vote too.  Why?  Because her vote was based not on principle but purely on politics.

Same deal on reproductive rights.  Susan Collins claims to be pro-choice to appease her electorate.  But then she votes to support George W. Bush’s judicial nominations like Sam Alito and John Roberts who are working as we speak to dismantle reproductive and privacy rights.  Susan Collins talks like a moderate but votes like a conservative, out of step with mainstream Maine voters.

Just after the 2006 election, when Senate Republicans were selecting who would serve in their leadership roles, Collins had promised her vote for Republican Whip to the relatively less conservative Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.  But did she keep her promise or did she vote more conservatively than she promised?

Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) stunning return to the Senate leadership was made possible by the last-minute defections of Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) rival campaign for Republican whip. …During the scret vote, Collins’s nervous body language led Alexander’s allies to suspect that she had switched at the final moment.

Susan Collins broke her promise and voted for the most conservative option for Senate Republican leadership.  This episode offers clear insight into the direction in which Collins really wants to have the Senate agenda move.  Oh, interesting postscript, before serving out his term as Republican Whip, the Collins-backed Trent Lott resigned to stay ahead of new ethics rules and went to work as a lobbyist.  That’s what gets the Susan Collins seal of approval.

George W. Bush has the highest disapproval rating in the history of Presidential polling.  And Susan Collins votes the way he wants her to 82% of the time.  Arch-conservative Rick Santorum, who was bounced from his Senate seat in 2006 for being too conservative for his electorate, has called Susan Collins a “team player” for Senate conservatives when they need her vote.  Because Susan Collins is no moderate.  Susan Collins is a “team player” for the furthest-right-wing elements of the Republican Party, only offering Maine voters the illusion of a moderate.

What can you do to help oust Susan Collins in 2008?  Two things you can do right away are:
1) make a contribution to Congressman Tom Allen via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page; and,
2) write a letter to the editor of any of Maine’s numerous print media outlets discussing how Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe vote one way, in favor of Maine’s families, and how Susan Collins votes another way, the way George W. Bush and Dick Cheney want her to.

To close, here is a collection of Susan Collins’ greatest hits on YouTube:

Susan Collins: right-wing team player Susan Collins votes with Bush-Cheney
Susan Collins’ real voting record Susan Collins’ real constituents
Susan Collins keeps us in Iraq Susan Collins still keeps us in Iraq

Sunday Quick Hits

by: Senate Guru

Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 14:33 PM EDT

Saturday Round-Up

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 18:57 PM EDT

  • New Mexico & New Hampshire: Likely Senators at this time next year, popular Congressman Tom Udall of New Mexico and popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are teaming up to help each other’s path to the Senate:

    On the Senate campaign front, former New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Jeanne Sheehan [sic] and Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., have teamed up to create a joint fundraising committee of their own called New Hampshire/New Mexico Victory 2008 to help boost their respective Senate bids.

    With Udall and Shaheen both leading in their respective polls, these are races that I’d like the DSCC to spend as little as possible on in favor of other more competitive races.  So it’s terrific to see these candidates working to help each other’s chances, further freeing the DSCC to focus elsewhere. (HT: NM FBIHOP)

  • Wyoming: Alas, Republican Mike Enzi announced today that he will run for re-election to the Senate this year.  It would have been cool to have another Republican retirement giving the NRSC fits, especially given that Enzi was seriously considering retirement:

    After the speech, Enzi said he had seriously considered retiring because Republican leaders twice denied him a seat that was due him on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.

    So we have six years to deepen the WY-Dems’ bench in preparation for Enzi’s retirement in 2014.

  • Louisiana: Recognizing that this is NFL Draft Weekend, Roadblock Republicans offers another political cartoon that cuts right to the chase: NRSC's weak draft pick
  • North Carolina: The 2008 Democratic Senate primary candidates, including State Senator Kay Hagan and businessman Jim Neal, will hold a televised debate a week before the May 6 primary.
  • Massachusetts: The two Republicans competing for the nomination to face Senator John Kerry are hilariously attacking one another.  Precious.
  • Drug addict Rush Limbaugh, in explicitly calling for riots during the Democratic National Convention, seems to be flirting with a felony.  Anyone going to file charges?  (Please don’t think me flip about Rushbo’s drug addiction.  I only mention it because of his rank hypocrisy on the issue.)

Early Saturday Morning Briefs

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 03:04 AM EDT

  • North Carolina: One of the “top campaign advisors” to Republican Elizabeth Dole reportedly asked the NRSC not to advertise in North Carolina on Dole’s behalf, and is urging the Chair of the NC-Dems to do likewise to the DSCC.  What an absolute joke.  The DSCC has a $20+ million advantage in cash-on-hand over the NRSC, so Dole’s camp is simply trying to neutralize this advantage for the eventual Democratic nominee.  Why is this another notch on Dole’s belt of hypocrisy?  Because Dole had no problem taking over $16,000 from the NRSC during her 2002 Senate campaign.  (And that’s just direct contributions from the NRSC to Dole – that doesn’t count any independent expenditures that the NRSC made on Dole’s behalf.)And I can see why Dole’s camp is especially concerned about DSCC dollars coming to North Carolina.  While Dole did raise $1.9 million in Q1, she must have a ridiculously high burn rate because she only reports $3.2 million on hand.  State Senator Kay Hagan reported $900,000 raised between January 1st and the mid-April North Carolina reporting deadline, and spent much of it on her recent TV ads, leaving $317,000 in cash-on-hand.  Businessman Jim Neal took in only $150,000 from January to mid-April and reports on $18,000 on hand.
  • Wyoming: Republican Mike Enzi will announce his 2008 electoral plans today at 10am local time (noon on the east coast).  Political observers suggest that a retirement announcement is quite likely:

    But some have interpreted Enzi’s non-committal stance towards another run as a possible indication he will not seek a third term. Enzi also is holding only one event on Saturday – the 10 a.m. press conference in Gillette on Saturday – instead of scheduling multiple stops to kick-off his re-election campaign at different locations across the state, a standard practice for many statewide candidates.

    I’d put the odds at 2-to-1 in favor of retirement.

  • Maine: On energy policy (just like so many other issues), Susan Collins’ rhetoric does not come close to matching her record.  Collins talks the talk of a moderate, and then votes the way Dick Cheney wants her to.
  • New Mexico: The NM-GOP’s nasty negativity hits the airwaves with Heather Wilson attacking Steve Pearce for attacking her.
  • Oregon: Speaker Jeff Merkley‘s campaign catches Gordon Smith glossing over his record of opposing increased rail transit security, even in the wake of terrorist attacks on rail transit in Spain in 2004 and the U.K. & India in 2005.  Just another instance of Smith’s rhetoric not matching his many bad votes.
  • Tennessee: Bob Tuke‘s 2008 Senate campaign put up a website, Lamar Facts, highlighting Lamar Alexander’s double-talk on his terribly regressive flat tax idea.
  • Idaho: People that know a little something about pounding the pavement and delivering for Idaho’s communities, the letter carriers’ union, will be making the rounds for former Congressman Larry LaRocco.
  • Iowa: A new Research 2000 Iowa poll sees Senator Tom Harkin with a 54-39 approve-disapprove and a similar 53-37 favorable-unfavorable.  The poll also sees Harkin in the high 50s against all potential Republican opponents, none of whom exceed 28% support against Harkin. (HT: JTM)

Early Friday Morning Quick Hits

by: Senate Guru

Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 01:06 AM EDT

Early Thursday Morning Items

by: Senate Guru

Thu Apr 24, 2008 at 02:19 AM EDT

  • Scott Kleeb is sooooo close to the $1,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  Can you help nudge him over the top?
  • The headline says it all: “Senate Republicans block unequal pay bill” – another filibuster, more obstruction, less justice.  We must replace more Republicans with more Democrats.
  • Louisiana: From the Evans-Novak Political Report:

    “Three GOP-held open seats (Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia) look ready to flip to the Democrats, and two Republican incumbents John Sununu (NH) and Norm Coleman (MN) are currently underdogs. Republicans have no good pickup opportunities.”

    Robert Novak just declared that Louisiana does not qualify as a “good pickup opportunity” for Republicans.  That’s something.  Meanwhile, Of the NRSC document from 2004 slamming new Republican John Neely Kennedy, Kennedy’s staff makes us laugh:

    A spokesman for Kennedy’s campaign says the dossier shows that Kennedy is “independent-minded.”

    JNK’s spokesman might as well say that the dossier shows that JNK is “Superman” because it’s equally ridiculous.  JNK has even more to worry about as the Chamber of Commerce, in an atypical move, endorsed the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mary Landrieu.  JNK is bleeding support.

  • Minnesota: Not to be overlooked, the aforelinked Evans-Novak Political Report also calls Norm Coleman an underdog to apparent favorite Al Franken.
  • Mississippi: Travis Childers’ impressive finish in the MS-01 special the other day should serve as a very good omen for the potential of former Governor Ronnie Musgrove‘s 2008 Senate bid.
  • Georgia: Something that hasn’t gotten quite enough attention: Jim Martin kicking butt in less than the last two weeks of Q1, to the tune of $346,675.
  • Virginia: Has Republican Jim Gilmore been caught in a lie?
  • Colorado: Is a former Republican Senator from Colorado snubbing Backwards Bob Schaffer?

    Four years after he announced his retirement, former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) broke out his checkbook to help his former colleagues.Campbell sent $2,000 checks dated March 5 to each Senate Republican who’s up this year for reelection, except for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). That’s 16 checks in all.

    He’d already given $4,000 to McConnell last year…

    Campbell has yet to offer a contribution to former Rep. Bob Schaffer, the Republican who faces a tough fight against Rep. Mark Udall (D) to replace retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R). Schaffer comes from the conservative wing of the party that Campbell has criticized since leaving office.

    He is also friendly with Udall.

    Campbell told Denver’s Rocky Mountain News in March that he was staying neutral in the race because “Bob is a friend of mine and so is Mark.”

    Does Schaffer have any friends left besides Dick Wadhams?  Meanwhile, right-wingers continue calling Sweatshop Schaffer a sell-out for ignoring forced abortions in the Northern Mariana Islands, and all Dick Wadhams does is scoff.  Seriously, how do Schaffer and Wadhams have any credibility with anyone anywhere?

Senate Guru Endorses Jeff Merkley for Senate

by: Senate Guru

Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 12:10 PM EDT

Oregon features this cycle’s highest profile Senate race with a competitive Democratic primary.  The chief combatants for the Democratic nomination are state House Speaker Jeff Merkley and activist Steve Novick.  Both would be far superior to the incumbent, Republican Gordon Smith.  Senate Guru will unquestionably support whomever Oregon Democrats elect as their Senate nominee and will add that nominee to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page the day after their May 20 primary is decided.

Both Merkley and Novick are, on the issues, good progressives.  Both bring impressive experience to the table.  I believe that, if he wins the nomination, Novick can beat Gordon Smith.  But I also believe that, if he wins the nomination, Merkley will beat Gordon Smith.  For that and many other reasons, Senate Guru is proud to endorse Speaker Jeff Merkley in Oregon’s 2008 U.S. Senate race.The rationale for this endorsement goes well beyond the oversimplified notion of “electability.”  Merkley’s experience better suits him both to take on Gordon Smith in the general election and to offer Oregon the best possible representation in the U.S. Senate.Both Merkley and Novick are, on the whole, very good on the issues, not deviating much from a common sense, progressive ideology.  The most notable deviations for both may be Novick’s support for the death penalty and Merkley opposition to driver’s licenses for non-legal residents.  Nevertheless, both candidates are for expanding access to health care, making education more affordable, protecting our environment, and getting us out of Bush’s War in Iraq, a war that Gordon Smith enabled all along the way and with which he didn’t even rhetorically find fault until his election cycle came up.So what better suits Merkley’s experience for beating Gordon Smith?  After the 2002 election, the composition of the Oregon state House of Representatives was a 35-25 majority for Republicans.  After the 2004 election, it was a 33-27 majority for Republicans.  Merkley, then House Democratic Leader, orchestrated Democrats’ reclaiming of the House majority in the 2006 election, gaining the seats necessary to earn a 31-29 majority for Democrats.  And with that slim majority, he presided over what is regarded as one of the most progressive legislative sessions in decades.  That evidences both the grassroots outreach to win back the majority and the legislative management prowess to achieve progressive goals with only a narrow partisan majority.

Some supporters of Novick’s have been trying to push the analogy of Merkley is to Novick as Clinton is to Obama, suggesting that Novick is the agent of change while Merkley is the candidate of the establishment.  I don’t think this analogy is at all accurate.  While, as Speaker, Merkley does enjoy significant support from Oregon’s political establishment, Merkley’s Speakership has been marked by progressive change built from the grassroots up.  (And, for all the Novick campaign’s touting itself as the insurgent outsider campaign, though Novick lags well behind Merkley in significant endorsements, Novick is not shy about publicizing his endorsements, even those from establishment figures.  This suggests to me that Novick’s critique of Merkley’s establishment support is actually just a case of “sour grapes.”)  A more appropriate analogy to Presidential candidates would be Merkley is to Novick as Edwards is to Kucinich.  Merkley is the populist son of a mill worker fighting for the working class and Novick is the quirky upstart.

Critics of Merkley’s suggest that he might not be an exciting enough candidate to beat Smith.  I’d argue that “exciting” is hardly the accurate measure of electoral potential in this case.  Consider the federal legislators that Oregon sends to Washington D.C., like Senator Ron Wyden and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio.  These guys aren’t political rock stars.  They’re not the guys that frequently populate the Sunday morning political discussion shows.  What they are are very smart legislators and very effective representatives on behalf of their constituents.  Jeff Merkley best fits this mold.

Also, since announcing his campaign in mid-April 2007, Steve Novick raised about $889,000 through the end of March 2008 – or about $77,000 per month.  Jeff Merkley announced at the beginning of August 2007 and raised almost $1.4 million through the end of March 2008 – or about $172,000 per month.  Merkley’s far superior fundraising operation will better enable him to take on Gordon Smith.  Neither candidate likely will be able to match Smith dollar for dollar, especially given that, at the end of March 2008, Gordon Smith’s bankroll stood at about $5.15 million.  But Merkley’s edge over Novick is significant.  Still, the Democratic nominee will have to rely on financial assistance from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).  So it doesn’t help Novick that his campaign has already taken shots at the DSCC as trying to “hijack” the process.

Criticisms of the DSCC are not the only comments Novick and his campaign have made that make us question his commitment to the Democratic Party and his ability to work with national Party leaders’ assistance to beat Gordon Smith.  Novick has taken rather harsh shots at both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  It also stood out that, when asked who he’d vote for in Oregon’s Senate race if he couldn’t vote for himself, he responded with John Frohnmayer, the Independent candidate for Senate.  Only when pressed on the question did he – seemingly begrudgingly – offer that he would cast a vote for the eventual Democratic nominee.  Novick said that he’d grade Merkley’s record as Speaker with a B+/A-, and struggled to explain why he couldn’t see Merkley as an effective Senator given the solid grade he gave him as Speaker.  Novick also, very much in the Kucinich mold, gives far too much credence to Fox News.  Further still, Novick caused quite an uproar among the netroots when he belittled blogging as “a way for a number of people to waste a vast quantity of time,” a comment for which he later apologized.

I also wonder a bit about, for lack of a better term, Novick’s “attention span.”  When asked why he left his Department of Justice job in Washington D.C., the first thing out of his mouth was, “I left that job because I’d been doing it for eight-and-a-half years, and that’s a long time to do anything.”  I’d remind him that a Senate term is six years, and that Oregonians could be best served by a Democrat looking to serve multiple terms and build up seniority.  Since his job at the DOJ, it seems that Novick has not held the same job for more than two or three years, usually focusing on specific political campaigns and ballot initiatives.  I wouldn’t want to see him, frankly, get bored of the Senate after a few years, thinking that six years might be “a long time to do anything,” especially considering that the U.S. Senate is an intentionally deliberative body and can be at times frustratingly slow-moving.

Novick supporters have pointed to an early-April primary poll showing Novick at 23% and Merkley at 11%.  Not only were 40% of poll respondents undecided, but Novick had had the airwaves to himself at the time the poll was taken, with Merkley putting up his first TV ads after the poll.  Someone could easily say that Novick should be disappointed to only have clocked in at 23% given his monopoly on the airwaves at the time of the poll.  Support in the primary will be quite fluid; and, though the primary is now less than a month away, until polling reflects the impacts of both camp’s paid media campaigns, it won’t be an accurate reflection of how the primary will turn out.

In its editorial endorsing Speaker Merkley, The Register-Guard of Eugene calls Speaker Merkley “by far the best prepared” of the Democrats running for Senate in 2008.  The R-G also calls the 2007 House session, the first over which Merkley presided as Speaker, “the most productive in recent memory, with important achievements in the areas of education funding, civil rights, consumer protection and budgetary stability.”

Over the last fourteen months, Survey USA has clocked Gordon Smith’s approval as between 46 and 52 percent, and his disapproval as between 38 and 45 percent.  Those are markedly vulnerable numbers, especially when you compare them with Democratic senior Senator Ron Wyden’s Survey USA numbers – an approval in the low 60s over the last several months, and a disapproval no higher than 32 percent during the last six months.  Smith’s hallmark is a muddy record – frequently voting the way George W. Bush wants him to, while offering rhetoric meant to appease his electorate as much as possible.  Democrats need their strongest candidate to hold Smith accountable for his record of putting George W. Bush’s priorities above the priorities of Oregon’s families.  Jeff Merkley is that candidate.

Tuesday Night Briefs

by: Senate Guru

Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 21:52 PM EDT

Tuesday Early Morning Round-Up

by: Senate Guru

Tue Apr 22, 2008 at 01:21 AM EDT

  • Not only does the DSCC have a $20-plus million cash-on-hand advantage over the NRSC, but the DSCC has totally retired its 2006 cycle debt, to boot.
  • Louisiana: Once upon a time, Republican state treasurer John Neely Kennedy was a Democrat.  So it’s possible that he might not be Republican enough for some GOP primary voters.  And now, JNK will have to face a primary challenge to his right, courtesy of businessman Paul Hollis, son of former State Senator Ken Hollis.  Hollis says he will “personally invest” in his own campaign to demonstrate his longstanding Republican cred against the recent convert.  While JNK’s establishment support (and the support of Karl Rove) may be enough to carry him to the nomination, a challenge from the right against a recent Republican convert should sap significant resources and pull JNK to the right.Meanwhile, a primary challenge isn’t JNK’s only obstacle.  Hollis will have plenty of material to use against JNK as, back in 2004, when he ran for Senate as a Democrat, the NRSC (y’know, that organization promoting Republican Senate candidates – now including JNK) put together a file attacking JNK’s record:

    Running from his post as state senator, he was described as John Kerry-lite. “Just like Kerry, Kennedy supports filibustering judicial nominees,” the document read. “Like Kerry, Kennedy criticized President Bush…. Kennedy would keep judges from getting an up or down vote… Kennedy attacked the Bush tax cuts.”How times have changed.

    The irony doesn’t end there. In 2004, the NRSC mocked Kennedy for “not [being] the first choice of the Democrats” who preferred Chris John, a former representative.

    Four years later, he is the first choice of the Republicans.

    The NRSC also claimed that, “Kennedy’s ineffective political career demonstrates he is not ready for primetime.”

    Four years and a party switch later, apparently the dynamics have changed.

    “Kennedy [has] bad ideas, shot-down suggestions, ill thought-out proposals, and Al Gore-like political ambitions,” the NRSC also wrote. As evidence, the group cited Kennedy’s “populist” 2000 proposal to pool prescription drug needs of the poor, state employees, the uninsured and the elderly to lower costs, as well as his program to return unclaimed property to taxpayers as a failure that would waste potential political revenue.

    That’s how terrible the NRSC’s recruiting in the 2008 Senate races have been.  Their #1 recruit for challenging an incumbent this cycle is a politician they themselves trashed just four years ago.  Republicans make it so easy sometimes.  JNK’s candidacy against Senator Mary Landrieu never had me terribly worried, but it just keeps feeling safer and safer.

  • Colorado: It’s not just progressives complaining about Backwards Bob Schaffer carrying the water for corrupt Jack Abramoff’s clients.  Now, his conservative base is up in arms over Schaffer’s blind eye:

    Colorado Right to Life accused Schaffer of closing his eyes to reports from Chinese workers on the islands about forced abortions.”The pro-life movement will no longer give a pass to candidates like Bob Schaffer who look the other way when Chinese women are forced to abort their children,” said Steve Curtis, spokesman for the group and former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

    Will Schaffer have anyone left to vote for him once this story fully permeates the electorate?

  • Idaho: Shocker, I know, but Republican Jim Risch is a bit of a fraud.  Reports the Idaho Statesman’s Kevin Richert:

    Risch says the nation “desperately” needs a comprehensive energy plan, and he’d like a seat in determining energy policy that will be the focus of American economic development in the next 10 to 20 years.

    Then, of course, Risch would have lots to say about his energy policy ideas on his website, no?  Nope.  Risch’s website’s sparse Issues section has one single sentence that makes any reference to energy.  Granted, Risch’s entire Issues section has only eleven sentences.  Compare that utter thoughtlessness with Larry LaRocco’s thorough webpage devoted to energy policy, discussing his ideas on energy independence, ethanol, nuclear energy, renewables like solar, wind and geothermal, global warming, and the role of energy in national security.  Larry LaRocco is worlds more prepared than the empty cupboard that is Jim Risch to represent Idaho in the U.S. Senate.

  • North Carolina: With the 2008 Democratic Senate primary only two weeks away, State Senator Kay Hagan is beginning to pull away from the rest of the pack as her lead over businessman Jim Neal has grown to 35-to-8.  Public Policy Polling notes that “Hagan leads 61-7 with the 35% of likely voters who reported seeing her television ads in the last week.”
  • Oregon: Blue Oregon’s Jeff Alworth offers further quantifiable evidence that Gordon Smith’s allegedly moderate image is nothing more than disingenuous election cycle posturing.

AK-Sen: Begich Makes It Official

by: Senate Guru

Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 19:59 PM EDT

Video transcript here.

Is the Clinton Camp Ready to Pack It In?

by: Senate Guru

Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 21:11 PM EDT

Yeah, this is another post off the topic of the Senate races, but this really stood out to me.On this morning’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert had a chat with the Obama campaign’s chief strategist David Axelrod and the Clinton campaign’s new chief strategist Geoff Garin, who took over the title from Mark Penn.Russert asked Garin the following question:

Will Senator Clinton stay in this race through all the primaries in June?

In my mind, there is one and only one correct answer for Garin to give, given that he is Clinton’s “chief strategist”:

Of course Senator Clinton will stay in this race through all the primaries.  Of course she will stay in this race through the Democratic Convention in Denver and she will win the nomination.  Of course she will stay in this race through November and she will be elected our next President.

Zero equivocation.  Zero qualification.

But here is the answer Garin actually gave:

There’s not a reason not to, but, look, I think that will be dictated by, by events.  Her commitment now is to let the process play through, to let voters vote.

Dictated by events?  Let the process play through?  If her chief strategist doesn’t express absolute confidence that she will win the nomination and the election, how on earth will Garin, Senator Clinton, and the Clinton campaign win the hearts of the Party and the nation that Senator Clinton is the person who should be the Democratic nominee and the next President?

Sunday Items

by: Senate Guru

Sun Apr 20, 2008 at 14:55 PM EDT

  • The Washington Post reports on the delightful Q1 numbers for the DSCC and NRSC:

    Senate Democrats continued to dramatically outraise their Republican counterparts in the first three months of 2008, a differential almost certain to result in a huge spending disparity in competitive contests this fall.From Jan. 1 to March 31, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee brought in nearly $17 million — about $5 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised in the same time period. In March, the DSCC nearly doubled the take of its counterpart, bringing in $8.2 million to the GOP committee’s $4.2 million.

    Most troubling for Republican strategists is the growing chasm between the two committees’ remaining war chests. The DSCC ended March with nearly $38 million in the bank, compared with $17.3 million for the Republican committee.

    Outstanding.  The cash-on-hand lead for the DSCC over the NRSC has now surpassed the $20 million mark.  The DSCC could send $5 million each to Oregon, Maine, Alaska, and Mississippi and still have a $700,000 lead on the NRSC.  Talk about the ability to expand the map!

  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer was given a Dishonorable Mention in Colorado Ethics Watch’s list of “Colorado’s most corrupt public officials in 2008.”  It is indeed well-earned.  Also, a new Rasmussen Reports poll sees Congressman Mark Udall beating Big Oil Bob Schaffer 45-42, within the margin of error.  The poll was taken just days after the story broke of Schaffer’s Abramoff-funded excursion to the Northern Mariana Islands and ensuing chicanery, so the full impact of the story may not be detected until future polls.
  • Louisiana: Fresh off of saying that he would not run for Senate in 2008, speculation abounds that Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne might challenge scandal-ridden David Vitter in a 2010 Republican primary.  About two weeks ago, it was reported that Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, was rumored to be considering a 2010 primary challenge to Vitter.  So it looks like the prostitute-patronizing Vitter should prepare for a long 2010.
  • Kansas: Former Congressman Jim Slattery is ready to get his campaign to oust Pat Roberts rolling.  Even Pat Roberts would have to admit that Slattery raising $288,000 in the last 12 days of Q1 is really impressive.  And it shouldn’t be hard for Slattery to highlight Roberts as one of the most incompetent politicians in Washington.
  • Kentucky: Here’s a quick game of What He Said Versus What He Thought.  Mitch McConnell said:

    “The election is not about the last 24 years, but about the next six,” he said. “It’s about the future.”

    Mitch McConnell thought:

    Please, please, please don’t look at my record.

    Expect many more Senate Republicans to share this tactic.

Saturday Rundown

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 18:15 PM EDT

  • Maine: Congressman Tom Allen smartly connects Iraq, taxes, and good government in an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News yesterday.  While Susan Collins disingenuously talks taxes, Allen points out that taxpayers deserve to have their money spent wisely – and that waste in Iraq due to a lack of oversight is not wise spending.  The subtext, of course, is a reminder that Susan Collins is one of the most responsible people in Washington for the lack of oversight.  In other news, 81% of people think the country is on the wrong track; and, coincidentally I’m sure, Susan Collins votes the way George W. Bush wants her to 81% of the time.  Bush’s tax cuts for the rich?  Bush’s War in Iraq?  The Bush-Cheney energy policy?  Susan Collins supported Bush on all of them.
  • Minnesota: Norm Coleman has begun politicizing the tragedy of the 35W bridge collapse.  Deplorable.  Truly deplorable.
  • New Mexico: Hooray for Republicans politically attacking one another in divisive primaries!
  • Louisiana: Republican secretary of state Jay Dardenne announced that he will not join the Republican primary for Senate in 2008.  This all-but-guarantees that Karl Rove recruit John Neely Kennedy will be the Republican challenger to Senator Mary Landrieu.
  • Tennessee: Bob Tuke has released an open letter to Lamar Alexander in The Huffington Post.  It chronicles Alexander’s failed record and challenges him to offer anything resembling solutions to the challenges Tennesseans face today. (HT: TennViews)
  • North Carolina: A new Elon University poll sees Elizabeth Dole with a 57.8 approval rate and a 55.8 satisfaction-with-representation rate, but only 37.2% say that Dole deserves re-election.  Certainly shows a lot of voters with open minds.  The poll saw that State Senator Kay Hagan‘s approve-disapprove was 25.1-17.3 and businessman Jim Neal‘s was 18.7-18.9.  The “Don’t Know” for both was well over 50% showing that the eventual nominee will have a lot of work to do raising name ID. (HT: PPP)
  • New Jersey: A judge ruled that embarrassing Andy Unanue could legitimately be replaced on the 2008 Republican Senate primary ballot by former Rep. Dick Zimmer.  Regardless, given that Zimmer is nothing more than a Newt Gingrich bootlick, I doubt that Garden State voters will be too enamored with him.
  • Nebraska: New Nebraska Network has posted Part One and Part Two of its interview with Scott Kleeb.
  • Pennsylvania: Tweety Watch 2010 continues as Bill Maher and Chris Matthews had the following exchange on last night’s Real Time:

    Maher: The scuttlebutt is that you are going to be running from the state of Pennsylvania in 2010.Matthews: Let me say this, that I’ve made a commitment to covering politics starting in 1987; and, I’m honoring that commitment not getting involved in it.

    Maher: Really?

    Matthews: Well, really.  (Laughter)  That’s the answer I’m giving you, anyway… that’s all you’re gonna get, Bill Maher… but if I ever change my mind, I’ll come to you for some bucks, OK?

    The transcript should be up soon on Bill Maher’s website.  Here is a link to HBO’s official Real Time site.  It alone is reason enough to subscribe to HBO.

  • Ben Stein’s new mental masturbation documentary Expelled is, apparently, chock full of factual flaws. (HT: Carpetbagger)  The New York Times calls Expelled:

    an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

    (HT: 43SB)  One of the hallmarks of the Michael Moore documentaries – and one of the reasons why they are so powerful – is that Moore’s own thinking on an issue grows and deepens and even evolves over the course of the documentary.  The primary agenda is developing a deeper understanding of an issue.  There is also no pre-determined singular villain in the Moore documentaries.  Bowling for Columbine, for instance, doesn’t vilify guns or gun owners – its targets of study are violence and aggression; and, the documentary seeks to understand why there is the violence in our culture and society that there is.  This concept seems starkly different from how Stein self-congratulatingly describes his opus:

    His heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few.

    First of all, calling his own work “heroic” is quite the turn-off.  Aside from that, if he presented this as an analysis of “intelligent design” and if there is room for that concept in an academic context, or perhaps a study of people who have been fired for their private beliefs, he’d at least have an intellectually honest starting point.  It appears, however, that from point A to point Z, he had an agenda and a series of judgments (“persecution,” huh?), that there are clear villains from start to finish (oooh, those “elite” academics!), and that the film he presents will fit his own pre-judgments rather than present a film that can impact his own beliefs as much as the viewers’.  Oh, well.  Word is, it sucks anyway.

  • The music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is widely beloved and respected throughout the blogosphere.  This became highly evident as coverage of Bruce’s endorsement of Barack Obama for President was thorough across the blogs.  Sadly, a member of the E Street Band, Danny Federici, passed away on Thursday after a long bout with melanoma.  The loss is felt among the netroots.  Personally, Bruce and the Band’s music contributed and still contributes a lot to the shaping of my political, economic, and social beliefs.  Danny’s contribution and talent will be sorely missed.

Q1 Take and End-of-March Cash-on-Hand Fundraising Numbers

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 13:30 PM EDT

Here are the Q1 fundraising numbers and cash-on-hand totals at the end of March for the 2008 Senate candidates.  Compiling courtesy of National Journal’s The Hotline.

State Candidate Party Q1 Take End of March CoH
AL Jeff Sessions GOP 400,538 4,033,195
AL Vivian Figures Dem 108,297 44,628
AK Ted Stevens GOP 590,700 1,318,722
AK Dave Cuddy GOP 140,305 74,090
AK Mark Begich Dem 267,091 204,207
AR Mark Pryor Dem 418,005 3,692,676
CO Mark Udall Dem 1,457,678 4,236,533
CO Bob Schaffer GOP 1,021,100 2,160,863
DE Joe Biden Dem 1,164,986 2,298,516
GA Saxby Chambliss GOP 668,829 3,637,392
GA Jim Martin Dem 346,675 333,132
ID Larry LaRocco Dem 198,161 253,707
ID Rex Rammell Ind 42,465 41,385
ID Jim Risch GOP 892,893 935,876
IL Richard Durbin Dem 495,922 7,567,277
IL Steve Sauerberg GOP 1,197,506 1,074,982
IA Tom Harkin Dem 778,309 3,930,680
KS Pat Roberts GOP 522,025 2,986,794
KS Jim Slattery Dem 289,025 286,125
KY Mitch McConnell GOP 1,315,901 7,741,422
KY Greg Fischer Dem 1,057,031 854,557
KY Bruce Lunsford Dem 808,395 666,373
LA Mary Landrieu Dem 1,086,907 4,564,082
LA John Neely Kennedy GOP 1,406,134 1,623,391
ME Tom Allen Dem 700,809 2,687,701
ME Susan Collins GOP 963,261 4,511,493
MA John Kerry Dem 332,695 9,323,486
MA Jeff Beatty GOP 976,220 81,324
MA Jim Ogonowski GOP 290,778 186,929
MI Carl Levin Dem 714,657 4,170,211
MN Al Franken Dem 2,196,288 3,491,480
MN Norm Coleman GOP 2,086,394 6,960,913
MS-A Thad Cochran GOP 120,615 1,166,852
MS-B Ronnie Musgrove Dem 448,858 337,249
MS-B Roger Wicker GOP 2,519,399 2,765,229
MT Max Baucus Dem 1,054,898 6,394,024
MT Kirk Bushman GOP 22,936 8,097
MT Michael Lange GOP 4,330 1,976
NE Mike Johanns GOP 644,844 1,335,390
NE Pat Flynn GOP 40,230 3,201
NE Scott Kleeb Dem 275,456 281,095
NE Tony Raimondo Dem 172,620 140,720
NH Jeanne Shaheen Dem 1,196,530 1,837,539
NH John Sununu GOP 1,028,049 4,313,762
NJ Frank Lautenberg Dem 672,549 4,702,249
NJ Rob Andrews Dem 181,479 2,232,312
NJ Murray Sabrin GOP 350,166 66,193
NM Tom Udall Dem 1,333,720 2,582,990
NM Heather Wilson GOP 523,966 1,196,053
NM Steve Pearce GOP 474,925 855,203
NC Numbers not in yet.
OK Andrew Rice Dem 431,026 597,478
OK Jim Inhofe GOP 800,464 2,221,848
OR Jeff Merkley Dem 455,295 473,833
OR Steve Novick Dem 346,656 197,007
OR Gordon Smith GOP 1,228,059 5,149,251
OR John Frohnmayer Ind 16,437 19,466
RI Jack Reed Dem 453,557 3,445,741
SC Lindsey Graham GOP 502,344 4,777,019
SC Buddy Witherspoon GOP 336,899 257,911
SD Tim Johnson Dem 558,404 2,523,586
SD Joel Dykstra GOP 65,721 20,393
SD Sam Kephart GOP 8,999 2,107
TN Lamar Alexander GOP 989,064 2,874,512
TN Bob Tuke Dem 225,783 217,093
TX John Cornyn GOP 2,399,220 8,688,954
TX Rick Noriega Dem 505,302 329,294
VA Mark Warner Dem 2,521,976 4,384,294
VA Jim Gilmore GOP 402,801 208,133
VA Bob Marshall GOP 51,771 19,403
WV Jay Rockefeller Dem 348,841 3,813,756
WY-A Mike Enzi GOP 195,910 647,393
WY-B John Barrasso GOP 436,681 1,139,381
WY-B Nick Carter Dem 29,950 26,743

Ten quick observations:
1) Scott Kleeb actually raised more per week than Mike Johanns.
2) I thought South Dakota was supposed to be competitive.  The best-funded Republican has less than 1% of the cash-on-hand that Senator Tim Johnson has.
3) I thought Montana was supposed to be competitive.  Senator Max Baucus has over six million on hand.  The best-funded Republican has little more than eight thousand on hand.
4) I thought Arkansas, Iowa, and West Virginia were supposed to be competiti- aw, never mind.
5) Lindsey Graham’s primary opponent, Republican National Committee member Buddy Witherspoon, raised two-thirds of what Graham raised in Q1.  It demonstrates significant discontent with Graham among the SC-GOP.
6) For the second straight quarter, Congressman Tom Udall raised more than both Republican Congresscritters combined.  Also, in New Hampshire and Minnesota, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken outraised John Sununu and Norm Coleman, respectively.  (Fourth straight quarter that Franken outraised Coleman.)
7) Don’t be too impressed with Illinois Republican Steve Sauerberg’s Q1 total.  About $1 million of the $1.2 million Q1 take was a personal loan.  In all, he’s loaned his campaign $1.3 million; without it, his campaign would be about $225,000 in the red.  It amazes me that Republicans are still able to find rich suckers who are willing to throw away huge chunks of their own personal wealth.
8) A $120,000 Q1 from Thad Cochran?  He’s clearly not hustling – not that he has to, now.  A large part of me believes that if popular former Attorney General Mike Moore had announced for Cochran’s seat early, even though Cochran would have been considered the favorite, Cochran’s unwillingness to hustle would have led him to retire.
9) A sub-$200,000 Q1 from Mike Enzi?  His heart’s not in it either.  No wonder he’s still mum on a potential 2008 re-election bid.
10) Jim Gilmore?  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

What stands out for you?


by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 19, 2008 at 01:20 AM EDT

Thanks entirely to your generosity and your shared vision and goal of expanding the number of states featuring competitive U.S. Senate races in the 2008 cycle, the Expand the Map! ActBlue page has just crossed the $10,000 mark!  I’m in awe of your contributions (in ways far exceeding just the financial) to our terrific Senate candidates.You know the best way to celebrate crossing the $10,000 mark on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page?  By contributing $20 to a terrific Democratic Senate candidate, of course!

See You in the Funny Pages

by: Senate Guru

Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 11:15 AM EDT

The political cartoons at Roadblock Republicansoffering clever satire on the 2008 Senate races have been getting sharper.  Here are a couple from the last week that I thought our readers would enjoy:Colorado Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is dragged down by ties to Jack Abramoff.Ted Stevens asks the Alaska GOP to take down its lame Begich smear site.

April Senate Cattle Call Results

by: Senate Guru

Fri Apr 18, 2008 at 00:40 AM EDT

The results of the April Cattle Call are in.Below are the scores for each seat.  In the ranking column, the number in parenthesis is the ranking from the March Cattle Call.

Rank State Total Score Average
1 (1) Virginia 494 15.0
2 (3) New Mexico 459 13.9
3 (2) New Hampshire 431 13.1
4 (4) Colorado 393 11.9
5 (5) Minnesota 358 10.8
6 (6) Alaska 334 10.1
7 (7) Oregon 270 8.2
8 (8) Maine 236 7.2
9 (9) Louisiana 231 7.0
10 (10) Mississippi-B 184 5.6
11 (12) North Carolina 150 4.5
12 (11) Texas 102 3.1
13 (13) Nebraska 95 2.9
14 (14) Oklahoma 92 2.8
15 (15) Idaho 70 2.1
Some interesting stats:

  • Among the top 15 states, the only ranking movement was New Mexico & New Hampshire swapping 2 & 3, and North Carolina & Texas swapping 11 & 12.  Impressive stability.
  • 33 people offered rankings.  21 states were named.  For the full rundown, see this graphic.
  • There was remarkable agreement among the top six in the order that they appear.
  • Kentucky finished in sixteenth place.  Though five other states were named in the rankings, those five only elicited nine total cites out of 33 rankings with 15 cites each.
  • For Democratic seats, there were only two cites for New Jersey, two cites for South Dakota, and one cite for Massachusetts – the only cites for any Democratic seats besides Louisiana.
  • Only two commenters ranked Louisiana above seventh.

Thursday Afternoon Quick Hits

by: Senate Guru

Thu Apr 17, 2008 at 15:07 PM EDT

  • Both Mark Begich and Rick Noriega are within just $50 of their next fundraising threshold on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  They just need two $25 contributions apiece.  Can you help out?  Thanks so much!
  • South Dakota: Once thought of as a potential Republican pick-up opportunity, the Q1 fundraising by South Dakota’s 2008 Senate candidates underscores what a dismal cycle this has been for the GOP and NRSC.  Senator Tim Johnson took in $530,000 in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to $2.5 million.  Republican Joel Dykstra took in $65,000 in Q1, but his burn rate left him with only $20,000 on hand at the end of March.  In other words, in what was supposed to be Republicans’ second-best pick-up opportunity of the 2008 cycle, the top-fundraising Republican candidate has less than 1% of the cash-on-hand of Senator Johnson with Election Day less than seven months away.  Ouch. (HT: Badlands Blue)
  • Kentucky: With Primary Day little more than a month away, Bruce Lunsford continues his massive lead in the 2008 Democratic Senate primary.  In a new Survey USA poll, Lunsford clocks in at 47% with Greg Fischer down at 9% and Undecided at only 8%.
  • Idaho: At the end of 2007, Democratic former Congressman Larry LaRocco had the edge on Republican Jim Risch in cash-on-hand in Idaho’s 2008 Senate race, by a margin of about $200,000 to about $170,000. But, in Q1, Risch hit a fundraising spurt and outraised LaRocco about $510,000 to about $200,000 in the first three months of 2008. Despite the Q1 fundraising edge, Risch still felt compelled to loan his campaign $380,000. That seems like an odd figure – why not $350,000 or an even $400,000? Perhaps it could be that Risch is scared of LaRocco’s candidacy enough to contribute the maximum he can without triggering the Millionaire’s Amendment.The Millionaire’s Amendment is triggered when one candidate makes campaign expenditures from his personal funds in excess of a threshold amount – and, for Senate candidates, the threshold amount is achieved by the following calculation: $300,000 + ($0.08 x the voting age population of the state, which for Idaho is about 1,092,000, as listed by the FEC). In other words, the Millionaire’s Amendment would be triggered in the Idaho Senate race if one candidate loaned his campaign more than $300,000 + ($0.08 x 1,092,000), which equals $387,360. The Idaho Senate race is so competitive that the Republican Risch loaned his own campaign just about the most that he could without triggering the Millionaire’s Amendment, which would allow LaRocco (and Risch’s Republican primary opponents) to triple their individual contribution limits from $2,300 to $6,900. In short, Risch, the ID-GOP and the NRSC are truly concerned about losing an Idaho Senate seat to a Democrat. That’s the kind of strong campaign LaRocco is running and that’s the kind of year 2008 is.

George Stephanopoulos and ABC News Should Be Embarrassed

by: Senate Guru

Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 23:15 PM EDT

This is entirely off the topic of the Senate races, but, man, tonight’s Democratic Presidential primary debate from Philadelphia was atrocious.Charlie Gibson is, typically, one of my favorite debate moderators; and, while I don’t love Stephanopoulos, I’m hardly one to boo him.But, wow, this was the most substance-free debate I have, perhaps, ever seen.To be honest – and this is why I especially think Stephanopoulos should be embarrassed – I just stopped watching the debate after G-Steph asked Senator Obama, with a straight face, if he thought Reverend Wright loved America as much as Obama did.  Shameful.  Just… shameful.

Was that really a debate question?  In the twenty-or-so minutes I could sit through, not one question on any issue of any importance.  It was all – and I mean all – Rev. Wright and Bittergate (I’m ashamed to even type the word “Bittergate”).

ABC News embarrassed itself tonight.

Gigantic Wednesday Night Rundown

by: Senate Guru

Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 21:10 PM EDT

  • If you appreciate this gigantic rundown (yeah, guilt trip), consider a contribution to some of the great Democratic Senate candidates on the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.  For instance, Mark Begich is less than $50 from the $500 mark and Rick Noriega is less than $50 from the $1,500 mark.
  • In his weekly column in The Hill, Kos chronicles Republican hopelessness and lost opportunities in the 2008 Senate races.  It’s a good read.
  • Oklahoma: ActBlue’s blog offers a thorough profile of State Senator Andrew Rice.  The profile also highlights our Expand the Map! ActBlue page.
  • Idaho: The historically inaccurate quote of the day comes from Republican Senate candidate Jim Risch:

    “You know what Ronald Reagan said? Numbers are stubborn things,” Risch said.

    No, Jim, Ronald Reagan didn’t say that.  Reagan said something else – and what he said, he wasn’t trying to say.  What he was trying to say was a quote from our second President, John Adams:

    John Adams, our second president, famously said: “Facts are stubborn things.” In a 1988 slip of the tongue, Ronald Reagan said: “Facts are stupid things.”

    Apparently, to Republicans, facts truly are stupid things – or, at least, unnecessary things.  This highlights another reason to contribute to Idaho’s Democratic Senate candidate Larry LaRocco – he has a firm grasp of history.

    • Colorado: Congressman Mark Udall raised more than 40% more than Republican former Rep. Bob Schaffer in Q1, as Udall brought in almost $1.5 million and Schaffer just squeeked over the million dollar mark.  Udall also leads in cash-on-hand, $4.2 million to $2.2 million.  Further, in light of Schaffer’s love affair with Jack Abramoff and Northern Mariana Islands sweatshops, the DSCC released the YouTube video to the right and Mike Keefe offered the below cartoon in the Denver Post.

  • Wyoming: Well, this is interesting.  With Republican Mike Enzi still mum about 2008 re-election plans, The Hill is reporting on speculation that Enzi and Senate-appointee John Barrasso might swap seats – that Enzi, perhaps not ready to retire but not wanting to commit to another full six-year term, will run for the four-year remainder of the late Craig Thomas’ term and that Barrasso will run for the full six-year term represented by Enzi’s seat.  And you thought you’d heard everything.
  • Nebraska: Scott Kleeb has released his first ad.  Compare its energy level with the introductory video Republican quitter Mike Johanns released, which is as enthralling as watching paint dry:
  • Alaska: The Alaska Democratic Party appropriately wonders, “How much has Sen. Stevens spent on his legal defense and who is paying for it?”
  • Montana: So Senator Max Baucus is sitting on a campaign bankroll of $6.4 million.  How are his Republican rivals faring?  None of his potential Republican opponents currently have more than $8,000 in their campaign accounts; and Baucus’ most well-known potential opponent, disgraced state rep. Michael Lange, said yesterday that he only has $1,000 left in his campaign account.
  • Mississippi: Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove took in about $450,000 in Q1, about one-fifth of the $2.5 million Q1 take of Senate-appointee Roger Wicker.  Now we see clearly why Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wanted to game the state Constitution to delay the election of Trent Lott’s successor, so that the ethically-cloudy Wicker could enjoy the trappings of incumbency for as long as possible.
  • New Hampshire: Popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen outraised Sprintin’ John Sununu in Q1, about $1.2 million to about $1 million.  Sununu still holds a cash-on-hand advantage ($4.3 million to $2 million), but as long as Shaheen continues to edge Sununu in fundraising and maintain a healthy lead int he polls, she should be in fine shape.
  • New Jersey: Senator Frank Lautenberg outraised Rob Andrews in Q1 by a $615,000 to $161,000 margin, and also has more cash-on-hand, $4.7 million to $2.2 million.  No word on the fundraising of Republican candidates for Senate in New Jersey, or if such figures are even relevant.
  • Maine: Judith E. Schaeffer, Legal Director for People For the American Way, blogs at Turn Maine Blue on how supposedly pro-choice Susan Collins’ support for George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees has contributed to the dismantling of privacy rights and reproductive freedoms.
  • Delaware: Senator Joe Biden will actually have a Republican opponent as a GOP Senate primary is brewing between conservative businessman Tim Smith and 2006 Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell.
  • Virginia: Expect plenty of this during the election cycle: popular former Governor Mark Warner discusses his moderate vision for America and unpopular former Gov. Jim Gilmore attacks, attacks, attacks.
  • New Mexico: Maintaining a nasty Republican primary tone, Steve Pearce criticizes Heather Wilson for missing a Congressional vote on so-called “sanctuary cities.”
  • South Carolina: Lindsey Graham pulled in about half-a-million dollars in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to $4.77 millions; while his Republican primary opponent, Republican National Committee member Buddy Witherspoon, reports a quarter million dollars on hand at the end of Q1.
  • Pennsylvania: Republican Senator Arlen Specter, facing a recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease, said that his doctor believes that “prospects are excellent for a full recovery,” and that the illness will not affect his decision to run for re-election in 2010 at age 80.  I hope that Democrats are able to win this Senate seat in a blue-leaning purple state in 2010, but I sincerely hope that Specter’s health is not a factor in the race and that he does achieve a full and speedy recovery.
  • Minnesota & New Hampshire: Americans United for Change is launching a round of radio ads against Smilin’ Norm Coleman and Sprintin’ John Sununu for their support of George W. Bush’s economic policies (and debacles) as part of AUC’s Bush Legacy Project.
  • Bruce endorsed Obama. Awesome.

Tuesday Night Round-Up

by: Senate Guru

Tue Apr 15, 2008 at 21:55 PM EDT

  • Louisiana: On the heels of the recent Rasmussen poll putting Senator Mary Landrieu ahead of Republican treasurer John Neely Kennedy by a 55-39 margin, a new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll sees Senator Landrieu beating treasurer JNK by a 50-38 margin – another double-digit lead.  To put it in perspective, Senator Landrieu’s lead is about the same as Elizabeth Dole’s current lead over her Democratic opposition.  The difference is that Louisiana is the GOP’s #1 pick-up opportunity while North Carolina is only Democrats’, like, twelfth-best pick-up opportunity.  (And, for more perspective, Dole’s lead is more tenuous than Senator Landrieu’s because Senator Landrieu’s opponent is already well-known statewide as a statewide officeholder, while Dole’s opponents are still building their statewide name ID.)
  • Wyoming: Republican Mike Enzi raised less than $200,000 in Q1, less than half of Senate-appointee John Barrasso’s $436,000 take in Q1.  Enzi has less than $650,000 in cash-on-hand.  While his seat is relatively very safe, that is still a low figure.  Enzi still has not confirmed if he will seek re-election this year, and an aide says that Enzi is “expected to make an announcement soon.”  Chris Rothfuss, the Democrat who has announced for this seat, has a pretty interesting background.  If Enzi were to retire, maybe we could catch lightning and see another Gary Trauner.
  • New Mexico: For the second straight fundraising quarter, Congressman Tom Udall has accomplished the feat of raising more than Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce combined.  Compare Udall’s $1.45 million in Q1 with Wilson’s $515,086 and Pearce’s $473,725.  Udall also has more cash-on-hand than the two Republicans combined, Udall’s $2.6 million against Wilson’s $1.2 million and Pearce’s $854,164.
  • Virginia: Popular former Governor Mark Warner has crushed unpopular former Gov. Jim Gilmore in Q1 fundraising.  Gilmore brought in only $400,000 in Q1, compared with Warner’s $2.52 million.  Gilmore has only $208,000 in cash-on-hand, compared with Warner’s $4.38 million.
  • Maine: Congressman Tom Allen saw a Q1 take of over $700,000, bringing his cash-on-hand to almost $2.7 million; while Republican Susan Collins had a $963,000 Q1, bringing her cash-on-hand to about $4.5 million.  In other news, Allen’s website has a very educational breakdown of where our tax dollars go, today being Tax Day.  To offer some perspective, a typical household that earned $64,000 in income and paid a little over $13,000 in taxes will have almost $600 of their tax dollars go toward the Bush-Collins War in Iraq while less than seven dollars will go toward renewable energy research.  How’s that for priorities?
  • Oklahoma: State Senator Andrew Rice reports his best fundraising quarter to date as his Q1 haul totals over $430,000, bringing his total fundraising for the race to over the $1 million mark.
  • Tennessee: Despite his late entry into the 2008 Senate race, Bob Tuke raised about $10,000 per day, reporting about $265,000 raised in the last 27 days of Q1.
  • Oregon: Republican Gordon Smith added $700,000 to his bankroll in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to $5.1 million.
  • Idaho: Former Congressman Larry LaRocco brought in about $200,000 in Q1 (PDF), bringing his cash-on-hand to over a quarter-million dollars.  Republican Jim Risch took in $936,000 in Q1 took in $512,893 in Q1.  Despite Risch’s fundraising spurt, Democrats in Idaho see signs of momentum.
  • Texas: John Cornyn’s singular political strength, fundraising, is again on display in Q1.  State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega brought in just under $500,000 in Q1, but an apparently high burn rate has his cash-on-hand at just under $330,000.  Meanwhile, Cornyn took in $2.2 million in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to $8.7 million.
  • North Carolina: The Associated Press notes that businessman Jim Neal still has not aired any TV ads, a perilous move as State Senator Kay Hagan is beginning to pull away in the polls, largely on the strength of her TV ads, with the NC-Sen Democratic primary just three weeks away on May 6.
  • Pennsylvania: First and foremost, our thoughts go out to Senator Arlen Specter as he has been diagnosed with a recurrence of Hodgkin’s disease.  Meanwhile, Tweety really, really wants to be a Senator.  Will he actually run, or is this just wistful egomania on the Tweet-man’s part?  Two comments on the topic got my attention: first, wmlawman wonders if Al Franken’s result in Minnesota may impact his decision; second, Populista hopes (as does the Guru) that if Matthews left MSNBC to run, the terrific Rachel Maddow might replace him.  Here’s hoping!

April Cattle Call

by: Senate Guru

Tue Apr 15, 2008 at 11:45 AM EDT

Just like last month, rank the top fifteen Senate races you feel are most likely to flip, starting with the most likely at #1 on down to #15 (including seats held by both Parties).  On Thursday, I’ll go through the comments and average the lists together for a meta-cattle-call ranking.  So make sure you rank just the top fifteen, clearly numbered, and including seats held by both Parties.  Last month’s results can be seen here.

Big Monday Night Rundown

by: Senate Guru

Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 23:30 PM EDT

  • On the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, Mark Begich is only $46 away from the $500 mark and Rick Noriega is only $42 away from the $1,500 mark.  Can you send Begich or Noriega just $25 today?
  • James L. at Swing State Project offers up SSP’s Competitive Senate Race Ratings.  I’d gauge it as a very accurate look, if just a tad conservative.  (I think it’s safe to call New Hampshire a Lean Democrat race instead of a Toss-Up; and I’d add Idaho to their Races to Watch list.)
  • Nebraska: Q1 fundraising figures are in for the candidates in Nebraska.  In the eight weeks between his entry and the end of March, Tony Raimondo raised only $72,620 (or about $9,000 per week) and wrote his campaign a check for an additional $100,000.  Raimondo reports $140,720 cash-on-hand.  In the five weeks between his entry and the end of the March, Scott Kleeb raised $274,454 (or about $55,000 per week).  Kleeb reports $281,094 cash-on-hand.  Republican quitter Mike Johanns took in about $640,000 in Q1 (or about $49,000 per week) and reports $1.33 million cash-on-hand.  Meanwhile, Kleeb and Raimondo have scheduled a primary debate for April 26 at 1pm.
  • Colorado: Congressman Mark Udall announces that he has raised $1.45 million in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to over $4.2 million.  Meanwhile, though Backwards Bob Schaffer says that he’s never met corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, at the very least, documents indicate that Schaffer’s staff and Abramoff’s staff have had meetings.  Methinks the clock is ticking on Schaffer.
  • North Carolina: The latest Public Policy Polling numbers in the 2008 Democratic Senate primary see State Senator Kay Hagan pulling away from the pack.  Still more than 50% undecided, but Hagan now has a 20-point lead against her competition.  Further, and perhaps more telling, the roughly one-third of respondents who have seen her new TV ad give her a whopping 48-6 advantage over businessman Jim Neal.  Meanwhile, new Rasmussen Reports numbers see Elizabeth Dole barely breaking 50% against both Democrats. (HT: blueandwhite31)
  • Oregon: Q1 fundraising totals are in for the primary candidates.  Speaker Jeff Merkley raised $455,000 in Q1, over $100,000 more than Steve Novick’s $346,000.  Meanwhile, Speaker Merkley has released his second TV ad, focusing on health care and starring his wife Mary, a practicing nurse.And, speaking of Mr. Novick, his recent dismissive comments on blogging have led to a vocal response from citizens of the blogosphere.  MyDD’s Todd Beeton declares that “Novick comes off as smug and all too pleased with his own cleverness” and that “you’d think Novick would have a stronger sense of what a jerk he comes off as.”  Open Left’s Chris Bowers says to Novick, “Thanks for dismissing a new medium, profession, and political power source as a ‘waste of time.’”  Responding to the uproar in the blogs, Novick offers a half-apology for his comments:

    In the Willamette Week endorsement interview the other day, I gave a pretty dumb answer to a question about the impact of blogs on politics. Some folks online are blowing my comments up as a betrayal of the netroots, so I wanted to take a moment to apologize for my statement and clarify what I was trying to say.

    I’m very glad that Novick acknowledged that his comment was “pretty dumb.”  It’s probably not a critical issue in the primary as far as most Oregon voters are concerned; but, for what it is, it was a dumb comment.  But, if you look at Novick’s quote above, the “dumbness” of the comment isn’t why he’s apologizing.  He’s apologizing because because “some folks online are blowing [his] comments up.”  According to his statement, he’s the victim, and the “folks online” are overreacting.  If these folks didn’t inconvenience Novick by making a stink, there’d be no apology, according to his quote.  If Novick just said, “Yeah, it was dumb.  My bad,” and ended it there, that would be the end of the conversation.  But the smugness MyDD’s Todd Beeton references peeks its head out.  Alas.

  • Montana: Senator Max Baucus raised $1.05 million in Q1, bringing his cash-on-hand to $6.4 million and his total raised for the cycle to over $10 million.
  • Maine: The lousy Maine media is sinking to piss-poor status as yet another member of the Republican establishment sneaks a letter to the editor into the local print media without any citation of the individual’s role with the Republican Party.
  • Alaska: Responding to Ted Stevens’ claims that the website, chronicling the sordid side of Stevens, “smears and distorts” his record, the Alaska Democratic Party is very smartly inviting Stevens to point out exactly what is factually wrong or inaccurate on the site, offering to correct anything on the site that is at all untrue.  My guess is that we’ll hear a sheepishly deafening silence from the Stevens camp.
  • New Jersey: Republican Senate candidate stunt double Dick Zimmer is nothing more than a Newt Gingrich bootlick.  I’m sure Garden State general election voters will love that.
  • Louisiana: Damn.  Prostitute-aficionado David Vitter dodged a bullet, again, as he apparently will not have to testify in the DC Madam trial.  I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear of this, but some forced testimony (or at least some forced pleading the Fifth) would have been pretty sweet, nonetheless.  On that note, though, Daily Kingfish’s ryan has a question for Republican Senate candidate John Neely Kennedy:

    Question of the Day to Senatorial candidate John N. Kennedy (R):  Do you approve of Sinator Vitter’s extracurricular activites?  After all, you are using him as a host for your fundraiser on April 22nd, the one that also features President Bush and Governor PBJ.

    Seems like a perfectly fair question for a guy using Vitter as an ATM.

  • Daily Kos’ brownsox offers his rundown of what he sees as the 21 most competitive Senate races in the 2008 cycle.

Sunday Items

by: Senate Guru

Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 13:11 PM EDT

  • Please consider a contribution to some great Democratic candidates for Senate via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.
  • Louisiana: New Rasmussen Reports polling numbers on the Louisiana Senate race are very encouraging.  Rasmussen finds that Senator Mary Landrieu leads treasurer John Neely Kennedy 55-39.  I’d be very happy to see these numbers throughout the rest of the cycle.  Also, Senator Landrieu’s favorable-unfavorable clocks in at 65-32, while JNK’s comes in at 51-42.  And this is the Republican’s #1 pick-up opportunity this cycle. (HT: kieran)
  • Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer’s love affair with corrupt Jack Abramoff’s firm and the sweatshop-and-worse conditions at factories in the Northern Mariana Islands continues.  Today, the Denver Post reported on secret memos that suggest that Schaffer served as Abramoff’s firm’s attack dog against the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs at Congressional hearings, as part of Abramoff’s firm’s plan for advancing their client’s goals in subverting and preventing labor protections.  Backwards Bob?  Shameful Schaffer.
  • Alaska: Apparently, the NRSC has thrown up their collective hands and given up on Alaska.  Why do I say this?  They just released their empty hit site on Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.  The website, entitled Begich Baggage, should presumably list a number of reasons why Alaskans wouldn’t want to vote for Begich, right?  Nope.  The only – and I mean, quite literally, only – items on it are an NRSC press release and a link to a Roll Call story announcing the site, and an NRSC story of a company for which Begich served as a general partner having a tax lien for a whopping $8,800 back in 1995, thirteen years ago.  That’s all the baggage the NRSC could dig up on Begich, a company he worked for having an $8,800 tax lien thirteen years ago.  Compare that inconsequential item to the career of corruption that appears to have populated Ted Stevens time in the Senate, and we have one heck of a race!  (By the way, it will be hilarious to see a debate where Begich piles on scandal after scandal facing Ted Stevens, how Stevens has single-handedly compromised Alaska’s very integrity and reputation, and Stevens retorts, “Well, your company had an $8,800 tax lien thirteen years ago!”)Speaking of Stevens’ scandals, yet another has come to light.  Apparently, Stevens and Port of Anchorage director Bill Sheffield used government resources and/or e-mail addresses in coordinating a Stevens campaign fundraiser.  Anchorage Daily News even has the actual e-mail exchange.
  • Idaho: The Gem State provides a two-fer.  First, former Congressman Larry LaRocco‘s health care plan is earning good local media.  Second, in a story that bodes well for LaRocco, the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey chronicles young Democratic support in a region that is supposed to be a Republican stronghold.

Saturday Round-Up

by: Senate Guru

Sat Apr 12, 2008 at 15:10 PM EDT

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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