Thoughts on “Unknown”

(From the diaries – promoted by DavidNYC)

[Cross-posted at my blog Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.]

In the left-hand column of the Guru’s website, there is a list of “Democratic Senatorial Incumbents and Candidates” featuring Democratic incumbents, announced Democratic challengers for GOP-held seats, and Democrats considering bids for GOP-held seats.  Though there is still much time left to recruit challengers, there are seven states on the list featuring only “unknown” – in other words, there are seven states with Republican incumbent Senators where there are no Democrats even publicly considering a Senate bid, only rumors at best.  Let’s look at those seven states.

(Much more after the jump.)

Alaska: Given Ted Stevens’ advanced age (he’s 83), his penchant for flying off in a tizzy from time to time, and his proximity to scandal, Democrats ought to field someone credible just in case.  Much speculation has focused on Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, who is term-limited out of office in 2009.  I think he should definitely run.  Best case scenario, he wins.  Worst case scenario, he loses but he increases his statewide profile for a 2010 challenge to Lisa Murkowski, who is significantly less popular than Stevens at a time when the Murkowski name isn’t worth what it used to be in Alaska.  (Her father, former Senator and now-former-Governor Frank Murkowski, had a dismal 19% showing in his 2006 primary bid for re-election after having taken heat for the nepotism associated with naming his daughter to his old Senate seat.)  If the DSCC offered him continued support in 2010 if he didn’t win 2008, he could go for it.  Otherwise, we ought to check with Alaska Democratic mainstay former Governor Tony Knowles or, perhaps more quixotically, former Senator and current Presidential candidate Mike Gravel to see if they wouldn’t mind having their name on the line just in case.  Race tracker wiki: AK-Sen

Georgia: The Peach State has arguably shifted more than any other state in the nation from Democratic- to Republican-trending over the last decade.  Right now, the only thing Democrats have resembling a candidate under the Democratic banner is self-proclaimed “conservative Democrat” and 2004 Bush voter Vernon Jones, the weak-fundraising CEO of DeKalb County.  Beyond that, some Democratic insiders have been urging Congressman Jim Marshall to consider a Senate bid, though Marshall may have a tough House re-election bid on his hands (could that motivate him to just jump into the Senate fray?).  Meanwhile state Attorney General Thurbert Baker has done nothing to quash speculation about Senate interest.  DKos diarists biglib (also now at Tondee’s Tavern), Mister Gloom, and VolvoDrivingLiberal offer thoughts on the GA-Dem bench – mostly just rumors, former candidates, or current office-holders that like where they are.  “Shameless” Saxby Chambliss is the Republican incumbent I would most like to see lose in 2008 as a result of his despicable 2002 campaign, so I hope the GA-Dems come up with something interesting.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: not a day goes by where I don’t hope that true American patriot and former Senator Max Cleland doesn’t reconsider a rematch of 2002.  (If you’ll forgive the triple-negative in the previous sentence, I just really want Cleland to get in the race and give Chambliss his comeuppance.)  Race tracker wiki: GA-Sen

Kansas: Pat Roberts’ approval hovers right around the 50% zone, but Kansas is still a red state.  The dream candidate remains popular Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has expressed no interest in a 2008 Senate race and may be holding out for the 2008 Veepstakes.  With an approval in the 60-70% range and approval among Republicans over 50%, I’m confident she could beat Pat Roberts.  Kansas does enjoy other Democratic statewide elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson (a former KS-GOP Chair who switched parties to run with Sebelius) and state Attorney General Paul Morrison, as well as Democratic Congresspeople Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda (half of Kansas’ four-person House delegation), but none have indicated interest in a Senate bid.  It would be disappointing to see a potentially competitive race in the heartland fall by the wayside; and, as long as Roberts hovers around 50% approval, Kansas is potentially competitive.  Race tracker wiki: KS-Sen

Mississippi: There is a question as to whether or not incumbent Thad Cochran will run for re-election.  Despite the unusual signals that might suggest retirement, if I had to make a prediction right now, I would offer that Cochran would run for another term, given Cochran’s steady fundraising compared with the meager showing of Cochran understudy Chip Pickering.  The dream candidate in Mississippi would be former state Attorney General Mike Moore, but it has been suggested that Moore would only put the effort into a run if Cochran retired – the catch-22 being that Cochran might only retire if he faced a stiff challenge from someone like Moore.  Like Kansas, half of Mississippi’s four-person House delegation is Democratic, but there have been no rumblings.  Even yearnings for celebrity candidates like author (and former state legislator) John Grisham or actor Morgan Freeman have made the rounds.  But, so far, silence.  Race tracker wiki: MS-Sen

South Carolina: With a very lean SC-Dem bench, Lindsey Graham could be more likely to face a primary challenge from a Club for Growth-style right-winger unhappy with Graham’s maverick nature than a viable Democrat.  Nevertheless, every state should have a challenger.  The race tracker wiki only offers speculation on the SC-Dems’ 2004 Senate challenger, former State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, and former state Party Chair Joe Erwin.  Tenenbaum’s successor as Superintendent, Jim Rex, remains South Carolina’s only statewide elected Democrat (and barely, at that, with Rex taking 47.50% percent of the vote to the Republican’s 47.45% of the vote, winning by less than 500 votes in a race where the Green Party candidate took about 9,000 votes, while the Libertarian, Independence, and Constitution Party candidates combined for over 45,000 votes or over 4% of the total vote).  The Palmetto State’s six-person House delegation features two Democrats, both of whom have plum committee assignments in the new Democratic House majority that they probably would not want to part with.  A second-look at the 2006 state election results offer that the top vote-getting Democrat was not Jim Rex but rather Robert Barber, who narrowly lost his bid for the Lieutenant Governor’s office and who has a very interesting background.  If I were the DSCC, I’d give Mr. Barber a ring and find out if there was any interest.  Race tracker wiki: SC-Sen

Tennessee: Tennessee actually enjoys a fairly solid, intriguing bench of potential Senate candidates.  Still, pretty much nothing but silence.  Meanwhile, Lamar Alexander’s approval looms unintimidatingly in the low-50’s.  2006 Democratic TN-Sen nominee former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has taken the reins of the DLC and seems to have backed off of speculation about a repeat bid in ’08.  Extremely popular Governor Phil Bredesen has not shown any interest in a Senate bid that he could very reasonably win.  Perhaps he, like Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, is waiting on the 2008 Veepstakes.  (Come to think of it, the “popular Democratic Governor uninterested in a very winnable Senate challenge against a lackluster Republican incumbent in favor of the ’08 Veepstakes” motif fits a few states, including Tennessee, Kansas, and North Carolina, and even Wyoming minus the Veepstakes angle.)  Ford’s 2006 primary opponent, state senator Rosalind Kurita, lost a lot of goodwill when she voted for the Republican Speaker of the Senate/Lt. Gov. over the Democratic incumbent.  Speculation has also surrounded Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, former state Party Chair Bob Tuke, Tipper Gore, and musician & Bush critic Tim McGraw.  DKos diarist Sidof79 keeps regularly tabs on the potential candidates, offering a near-monthly update.  However, so far we have only heard speculation.  Race tracker wiki: TN-Sen

Wyoming: It frequently feels like there are only two Democrats who live in Wyoming: extremely popular Governor Dave Freudenthal, who has demonstrated no interest in a Senate bid; and Gary Trauner, who very narrowly lost his 2006 at-large House challenge to Barbara Cubin and looks like he may be opting for a rematch there.  If I were to gauge the landscape right now, I would deem Mike Enzi the safest Republican up for re-election in 2008 (and the most likely to get a free ride), unless Governor Freudenthal finds the desire to run for Senate.  Surely, somewhere in Wyoming is a Jon Tester/Scott Kleeb-style progressive, populist farmer/rancher.  Race tracker wiki: WY-Sen

Again, every state should find a challenger.  These seven states are not un-winnable.  In fact, most of these states have the potential to be highly competitive races.  Of the seven, three (Kansas, Tennessee, and Wyoming) have very popular Democratic Governors who could immediately make for top-tier races in their respective states.  Alaska has, in my mind, a clear choice to pursue in Mayor Begich, with the offer of continued support through 2010.  Mississippi sees a possible retirement in Cochran as well as another obvious preferred candidate in former AG Moore.  In Georgia, Chambliss’ approval also looms around the low-50’s; maybe if we ask for Senator Cleland politely enough he’ll change his mind and immediately turn Georgia into a highly competitive race.  South Carolina is tough, but there should be no free rides.

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NM-02: Pearce Afraid of DCCC Entrance

[Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP and MyDD.

Heath Haussamen has the goods on a letter Rep. Steve Pearce sent to supporters asking for cash.  Cash to stave off Bill McCamley, Al Kissling and the DCCC.

It is no surprise the ultimate far-right GOP representative would resort to scare tactics even in fundraising for his own campaign.  But the tone of his fear of the DCCC is palpable.  He almost dismissed McCamley and Kissling out of hand, but read what he had to say of the DCCC below the fold.

Another liberal — or two, or three — could jump into the race. Or worse, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) could get involved in our race.

That’s the last thing we need. They have the funds and power to make a real impact in any race they choose and we need to keep them out of the Second District.  They are guaranteed to target us unless we make the hurdle too tall to climb.

Of course, a DCCC entrance into the race would only result if there was a strong candidate.  I believe McCamley could be the strong candidate; the “spin” (as Haussamen calls it) against McCamley shows Pearce is wary of McCamley as well. 

Pearce attacks McCamley in the letter without using his name, as if McCamley is Beetlejuice.  Pearce writes:

We have one opponent who has a left-wing record including a history of voting for tax increases and fighting against prayer at county commission meetings…

Of course, this is an outright exaggeration.  Not exactly a lie, but it is pretty darn close.  Haussamen, unlike Pearce’s people, actually looked into McCamley’s votes.

McCamley did vote for one tax increase, to raise salaries for sheriff?s deputies and create paid firefighter positions, but so did all commissioners, including two Republicans, and the action had widespread bipartisan support in the community, including the endorsement of Republican District Attorney and Pearce supporter Susana Martinez. McCamley also voted to allow voters to decide whether to raise taxes to help fund Spaceport America, but that?s not the same as voting for a tax increase.

Pearce also tries to play to his base with the prayer shot.  Haussamen looks into the truth on that as well, saying McCamley proposed “a policy modeled after that in the U.S. House of Representatives, which requires non-sectarian prayer.” McCamley challenged Pearce to put his money where his mouth is and take up the issue with the House chaplain.

Kissling was given similar treatment. 

And another opponent who favors the death tax and has said he’s “more scared of our own American National Guard than Islamic terrorists!” Unreal!

What is unreal is Pearce taking quotes out of context and using GOP frames on every issue.  Every issue.

First, the “death tax” knock.  The estate tax, as it is known, only applies to estates of $2,000,000 or more.  It jumps up to $3.5 million in 2009.  And only the money over $2 million is taxed.  In other words, unless you are in a top-tax bracket, this will never affect you.

Some even call it the Paris Hilton tax cut.

As for the quote,

Kissling was speaking specifically about his belief that National Guard soldiers should not have been policing American airports after 9/11.

Republicans like Pearce thrived in the climate of fear after 9/11.  They continue to fall back on those times to try to pump up the base.

So what can you do to help out the non-crazy candidates running for Congress in the second district?  Contribute!  Go to my ActBlue page and donate your money to the New Mexico Democrats willing to take on Pearce.

Seven Southern Senate Seats

When reading about the top targets for Democrats in the Senate, most point to the same five seats that will receive much of DSCC money and recruiting attention (Colorado, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Minnesota) and the possible open seats (Virginia, Nebraska, New Mexico, Mississippi). 

However, I’ve been most interested in a group of seven seats that should be aggressively challenged.  Of these seven incumbents, four of them are seeking their first re-election bid, one is off his rocker and needs to be videotaped for the next 18 months, one is the Leader of his Party, and the other seems headed for a showdown with one of the Netroots’ biggest 08 sensations that many of us learned of from a live chat with DSCC Chair Schumer.

Now, not a single one of these seats will be easy to win.  In each case, it would seem that the Democratic challenger would enter as a slight or even sizable underdog – that is fine.  We cannot follow the 2006 success stories (which gave the country Sens. Tester and Webb, among others) with uninspired sacrificial lambs, just because these states are tough territory.  And, even though the chances of winning all of these seats at the moment seems slim, we would at the very least make the GOP spend money in these states and not for Republican candidates in the Top 5 targets or against Landrieu.  Also, an aggressive statewide run that is well-organized would position these potential candidates, if unsuccessful in 2008, for future runs.  Some of these races have an active online presence trying to draft candidates or just talk up the races, but others are pretty silent.  If anyone knows of information on any of these races, please share.  Info on possible Democratic candidates, those who aren’t interested, or just general dynamics of the race will be greatly appreciated!!

Here is a rundown of each state:

NORTH CAROLINA – Elizabeth Dole.

Senator Dole was elected in 2002 against Clinton aide Erskine Bowles, 54% to 45%.  She is known to not really know her way around NC; however, she seems kind enough to visit the state she represents in Senate every few years.  Many believe that she is very vulnerable and has on several occasions polled below 50%.

Possible Challengers:
Congressman Brad Miller
Attorney General Roy Cooper.

A ‘Draft Miller’ campaign has been active for quite a while and has caught the attention of many, including Brad Miller.  AG Cooper stated earlier that he intended to run for re-election, but recent polling has showed him as a favorable challenger against Dole.

State Senator Kay Hagan
State Representative Grier Martin

If Miller and Cooper decline to run, State Senator Kay Hagan might become interested.

TEXAS – John Cornyn.

Senator Cornyn was elected in 2002 against Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, 55% to 43%.  Box Turtle is one of most unpopular Senators in the nation and has also consistently polled below 50%.

Potential Challengers:
State Representative Rick Noriega
Congressman Nick Lampson
Mikal Watts, attorney

A ‘Draft Rick’ movement is in place to persuade Lt. Col. Noriega that he would have the necessary support to challenge Cornyn.  Congressman Lampson is in a very red district that would be a challenge to defend in 2008, though his district is not as red as the one Chet Edwards represents, but still very difficult.  He has stated that he is seriously looking at the race.  Mikal Watts recently raised $1.1 million for the DSCC and seems to be very interested in the race.  Regardless of the nominee, the big fundraisers in the state have promised to raise a vast amount of money to challenge Cornyn with.  Hopefully that isn’t under the condition that they get to pick the nominee and keep out potentially more attractive candidates.

John Sharp, fmr. Land Commissioner
State Representative Pete Gallego

Sharp’s name keeps getting thrown around and he might jump in, but I only think he does if Lampson/Watts stay out and that does not seem very likely.  He might try for a 2010 race, instead.  Rep. Gallego is a great legislator and definitely should be looking at a statewide within the next two cycles, but I?m not sure if he risks getting in this primary.

ALABAMA – Jeff Sessions.

Probable Challenger:
Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks.

‘Sparksmania!’ hit the internet a few months back and the excitement for this man has spread like wild fire.  All signs indicate that he will probably go for it and challenge Senator Sessions.  Awesome.

OKLAHOMA – Jim Inhofe.

Governor Brad Henry, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and Congressman Boren have all turned down the race, leaving Oklahoma Democrats searching for a challenger.  It seems that they might have found one.

Potential Challenger:
State Senator Andrew Rice

Rice has become one of Oklahoma?s rising political stars and seems destined for a bright future.  If his fellow Okie Democrats aren?t willing to take on Inhofe (whether because they are waiting to take on Coburn, replace Henry, or fight a poultry battle), then I see no reason for Senator Rice to not take the fight to Inhofe.  He is also getting some press about a possible run (as well as a draft website) and met with Schumer recently at a DSCC fundraiser in Dallas. A strong contrast can be a good thing in a political battle and this would be contest between two opposites.  Also, it seems to be an absolute certainty that Inhofe will say at least one or thirty things to piss off and offend various groups of people.  Keep a videotape on him at all times and we?re sure to see dozens of Inhofe YouTube hits.  I hope he decides to do it.

KENTUCKY – Mitch McConnell.

Since getting elected in ’84, McConnell has not had to endure too many tough battles and he isn?t extremely loved in his state, either.  His choice for governor was defeated last night and there are even mentions of a possible primary challenge.  The DSCC has already mentioned this race as a possible target.

Potential Challengers:
Charlie Owen
Greg Stumbo
Jonathan Miller
Bruce Lunsford

Prior to the gubernatorial primary, Owen was the only name that was routinely said to be very interested in the race.  However, I expect a few more names to be making the rounds, very shortly.  Greg Stumbo has been included in some polling, along with unlikely (but very likely for 2010) challenger Ben Chandler.  Bruce Lunsford might have chosen to be more graceful in his exit this time around because he was looking for goodwill within the Party for a run next year.  Jonathan Miller is young and is a favorite among the netroots, his exit from the primary was also lauded and will be remembered; however, some believe that he might be rewarded by Beshear with the State Party Chairmanship.

GEORGIA – Saxby Chambliss.

Chambliss had an unexpected victory in 2002, when he defeated decorated veteran Max Cleland by using reprehensible ads superimposing images of Hussein and bin Laden onto Cleland.  I thought there would be more of a call for revenge and reclaiming this seat, but so far things have been quiet.  All we really know is that Sen. Cleland will not be seeking a re-match.

Potential Challengers:
Congressman Jim Marshall
Jim Butler, attorney
Cathy Cox, fmr. Secretary of State

Okay, so we do have Vernon Jones.  Now let’s discuss serious challengers.  Marshall has recently been mentioned as being much more interested in this race, due to the attempts of the NRCC to recruit Army Major Rick Goddard for Marshall’s seat.  His re-election in his district is nowhere near a certainty, so a statewide run might actually be worth it.  Attorney Jim Butler’s name had been making the rounds earlier in the cycle, but I have not heard any follow-up info.  Has he declined to run or made any noise at all?  He seemed like an interesting candidate and could self-fund.  Cathy Cox did not run the best of campaigns last year for governor, but her name was also making the rounds.  However, I believe she recently accepted a job (what the job actually is is escaping me, University Presidency somewhere?) and might not be in the running anymore.

TENNESSEE – Lamar! Alexander.

Lamar! lost his Whip race and might be vulnerable to a challenge.  This would be his first re-election campaign (although he was obviously Governor in the late 70s-early 80s) and might test whether he really wants it.  He announced last month that he will seek re-election.  I know that this isn’t a first or second-tier race, but I think there might be an opening with the right type of challenger.  What would be the strategy to making Lamar! sweat?

Potential Challengers:
Bill Purcell, mayor of Nashville
Bob Tuke, fmr. State Party Chair
State Senator Rosalind Kurita
Tipper Gore
Harold Ford, fmr. Congressman

Ford is the wildcard and seems to not want to get in, he might possibly run for Governor in 2010 or maybe even a Cabinet post.  He made waves earlier in the cycle by saying he was looking at the race, but has backed off since then.  Purcell’s political career doesn?t feel like it will be through after his mayoralty and the primary for Governor in 2010 might prove to be very crowded, so a run here might make sense.  Not sure what in the hell Kurita was thinking throwing Republicans the Senate Presidency, but maybe future aspirations were in at work?  I know she was made Pro-Tem, but is that what she was really gunning for?  I’m not sure how she will now play to the Democratic primary voters, so this might not be plausible anymore, but we should keep our eye on her. If not this race, maybe she’ll make a Congressional run against Blackburn?  Tipper’s name has been thrown around (like in ’02) and I have no idea how seriously to take the idea, but I thought I’d include her.  No doubt she?d be formidable, but don’t really know if she has any political aspirations.  Bob Tuke (who I?m not very familiar with) has been said to be a pitbull and recently ended his tenure as State Chair.  Did he step down to run for an upcoming race, or was it the end of his term?  Would his personality play well in Tennessee? 

Well, there you have it.  North Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee.  Any info on these seven races, possible challengers, gossip, anything at all would be great!!!!

We’re Looking for the Next Jon Tester

21st Century Democrats released
our new
candidate questionnaire

Here at 21st Century Democrats, we think too many organizations endorse
candidates based on a checklist of surveys of incremental policies that won’t do
much to fix what is wrong in this country. Checklist questionnaires tell you if
a candidate supports your issue, but they don’t tell you whether a candidate is
actually going to do something about it if they get elected.

Political strategists and consultants tell our candidates to support incremental
policies which will not offend voters. The strategy is to play it safe and wait
for Republicans to fail so badly that voters will elect Democrats. This is
exactly what happened in 2006.

This strategy doesn’t inspire people to vote. When you act like a Republican,
you fail to build the political will for making the massive policy changes we
need. We believe electing a Democratic majority is not an end itself, but rather
the means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to create a real progressive society –
one that is just, fair, tolerant, and sustainable. So if you really want to get
there, you need to identify and elect candidates who want to build a progressive
society and have the leadership skills to take us there.

Leadership is about offering solutions and building the political will to
support them. That’s why we work to elect Democrats who will be leaders inside
the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill, in state Houses, counties, and cities
across the country – Democrats who will take us to the next level.

We think the best way to find visionary candidates to support is to skip the
standard checklist that a lot of DC groups use and, instead, to engage in a
conversation with candidates about their vision and bold ideas. Most candidates
find this very different and very refreshing. Filling out our
is the first part of this conversation, a way for candidates
to introduce themselves and their ideas to us. And in the process, they learn
we’re not business as usual.

In 2006, we were proud to support
a great slate of
, including
in the Senate, and
in the House. And 21st Century Dems were fighting in the trenches
of state and local races, too –
for Governor of Ohio,
for Secretary of State of Minnesota,
for the Maryland State Senate, and
for County Executive in Montgomery County, Maryland. We supported
for State Senate in Oklahoma and
for Congress in Arizona. We helped candidates all across the
country, up and down the ballot, some targeted and some who were not. And we won
9 of 11 primaries we were involved in.

We’re excited about the 2008 campaign season, and we’re looking forward to
working with more visionary candidates. Last time around, 21st Century Democrats
helped get some big wins for Democratic candidates, and this time we’re looking
to do even more.

KY-Gov: Primary Open Thread

UPDATE (David): No runoffs, which is great news for us all around. Beshear wins with 41% while Lunsford limps in with 21%. Meanwhile, Fletcher crushes Northup 51-37. A while back, I was sure Fletcher would wind up like Frank Murkowski in Alaska, but thankfully here, GOP voters did us a solid.

Meanwhile, some 350,000 Dems voted in our primary while just 200,000 Republicans voted in theirs. I’m not exactly sure how to interpret this, given that Kentucky clearly has a Democratic overhang from the old days of the Solid South – it’s a decidedly red state, yet there are 50% more registered Dems than Republicans. But I can’t see how the turnout disparity is a bad thing for us.

For updated results as they come in, try the Kentucky State Board of Elections.

It’s primary night in Kentucky, and a lot is on the line.

On the Republican side, if you believe the latest polling from SurveyUSA, the Kentucky GOP faithful is on the verge of giving corrupt Gov. Ernie Fletcher a second chance over ex-Rep. Anne Northup (likely primary voters; 5/18-20 results, 5/12-14 results in parens):

Fletcher (R): 44 (44)
Northup (R): 34 (34)
Harper (R): 17 (14)
Undecided: 5 (8)
(MoE: ±4.6%)

However, in a low-turnout election, anything can happen.  Fletcher will need to eke out 40% of the vote in order to avoid a runoff.  On the other hand, that Fletcher appears to be in the dominant position on election day is nothing short of remarkable, as most prognosticators assumed that the highly-touted campaign skills of Northup combined with the sagging popularity of the scandal-ridden incumbent would be enough to jettison Fletcher’s career once and for all.

On the Democratic side, a runoff appears more likely between former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear and businessman Bruce Lunsford:

Beshear: 32 (32)
Lunsford: 23 (23)
Henry: 17 (18)
Richards: 12 (12)
Undecided: 6 (9)
(MoE: ±4%)

The Swing State Project hasn’t spent much time discussing the Kentucky Governor’s race so far this year, but if this race whittles down to a primary between Lunsford and Beshear, the kid gloves will come off.  Having Bruce Lunsford as the Democratic nominee would be nothing short of an unacceptable scenario.  Lunsford, who dropped out of the 2003 Democratic gubernatorial primary after pumping millions of his own dollars into vicious negative advertising, stabbed the eventual nominee, Ben Chandler, in the back by endorsing Fletcher just months after pledging to remain neutral (he even went on to serve as part of Fletcher’s transition team).  And while he was engaging in some truly despicable practices as a nursing home owner, he forked over 77% of his political donations to Republicans, including thousands to Anne Northup, Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell, George W. Bush, the RNC, the NRSC… pretty much the works.

The Swing State Project makes no secret that we’re a Democratic blog that wishes Democratic candidates well.  But Lunsford ain’t no Democrat, and we won’t spend a minute carrying any water for that miserable excuse for a politician should the unthinkable happen and he go on to win the Democratic nomination.  Kentucky deserves so much better than a Fletcher v. Lunsford nightmare.

Race Tracker: KY-Gov

KY-SEN: McConnell To Be Primaried?

There is every reason to believe tonight that even after tomorrow, the Republican bloodletting will not stop in Ketucky. A movement has begun to draft Larry Forgy to run against Mitch McConnell. According to Politcs1:

Call it Ernie Fletcher’s revenge. US Senate Mitch McConnell (R-KY), portrayed in state newspapers as the godfather of the Kentucky GOP, has his faction of the party heavily backing Anne Northup in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary. That appears to be why a growing movement in the party — led by the pro-Fletcher faction — is looking for payback in the form of giving McConnell a tough primary challenge in 2008. Check out the website, urging former State Supreme Court Justice Larry Forgy (R) to oppose McConnell. Forgy was the GOP nominee for Governor in 1991 and 1995. The Draft Forgy website is filled with pro-Fletcher and ani-McConnell sentiments, plus lots of Forgy quotes that make him sound rather interested in the race.

Pass the popcorn!

AL-Sen: Sparks to Decide Before “Early July”

Alabama’s Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks has been pretty busy in recent weeks.  He recently returned from a trip to Washington, DC to press for disaster relief for Alabama’s farmers.  He also managed to squeeze some time in to meet with media guru Karl Struble, who helped put together a winning media plan for Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. last year, as well as meet with DSCC staff and freshmen Senators Webb and Tester for inspiration on a possible Senate bid against Jeff Sessions.  So when can we expect a decision from Sparks either way?  According to the Huntsville Times, the answer is early July:

Sparks, a two-term Democrat from Fort Payne, also confirmed that he is considering a 2008 run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile. He said he has received significant encouragement in Alabama and across the country to make the run and is evaluating his chances.

Sparks, 54, said that decision-making process will be completed by early July. He said he is happy in his current job, but there is a two-term limit as commissioner and he needs to seriously consider an opportunity that may come just once in a lifetime. If he does run, the reasons include his concern about the country’s budget deficit; that 48 million Americans don’t have health insurance; high gas prices; the handling and financing of the war in Iraq; poor veterans health care; and a basic unfairness in tax policy and worker pay, Sparks said.

Now that’s what I’d call a campaign of progressive populism.

Race Tracker: AL-Sen

295 House Districts have Democratic candidates

Another 2 weeks passes and another 7 races with confirmed Democratic candidates. At this rate we will be up to 400 by christmas!

Once again go and take a look at the 
2008 Race Tracker Wiki. & DCCritters.

Below the fold for all the news.
(cross posted at MyDD and Daily Kos)

295 races filled! This of course includes 233 districts held by Democratic Congresscritters.

But we also have 62 GOP held districts with confirmed Democratic opponents.

So here is where we are at (GOP Districts):
Districts with confirmed candidates – 62
Districts with unconfirmed candidates – 2
Districts with rumoured candidates – 33
Districts without any candidates – 105

1) The GOP held districts with confirmed Democratic challengers are as follows:
FL-13, [Either through the House of Reps investigation or Jennings has committed to another run.]

2) The following 2 GOP held districts have candidates that are expected to run but are yet to confirm:

3) The following 33 GOP held districts have rumoured candidates – please note that some of these “rumours” are extremely tenuous!

4) And last but not least the following 106 districts have not a single rumoured candidate:

Praise to those states where we already have a full slate of house candidates – Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. It would be great to see some more candidates bob up in Texas as it is the first state for filings to close (I think).

Please note that in some races others at the racetracker site have confirmed candidates that I haven’t. This is because to satisfy me a confirmed candidate has either filed with the FEC, The Sec of State or has an active campaign website, or even if they come and blog and say yep I am running. Others are not so rigorous.

It is also great to see a candidate in VA-06, one of 10 districts we did not contest in 2006!

We are well on track to beat the 425 races we contested in 2006.

*** Tips, rumours and what not in the comments please.***

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CA-24: Gallegly Stepping Down?

I just received this email from the campaign of Brett Wagner suggesting that Elton Gallegly may step down by the end of the year, kicking off a special election.

Dear Friend, 

Our congressional district has waited a long time for our 22-year incumbent, Republican archconservative Elton Gallegly, to retire.  And now that my contacts on Capitol Hill are telling me that Mr. Gallegly appears to be preparing to step down early — perhaps later this year, triggering a special election — it’s “incumbent” upon us to build a winning campaign as quickly as possible.

(after all, the best time for a congressional seat to change parties is when it “opens up”)

Should the election to replace Mr. Gallegly be scheduled for later this year — as many expect — it will also have the potential for nationwide impact, helping to set the stage for which party will win the majority in Congress in 2008.

I don’t know what to make of this as I was sure Rick Renzi (AZ-01) was going to step down any minute. Perhaps someone out there has heard something as well?

NM-Sen: Former US Attorney Considering Run Against Domenici

(Having a former US Attorney take on Pete Domenici would be almost perfect. But read on to learn more about what sort of candidate John Kelly might make. – promoted by DavidNYC)


[Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP]

A former United States attorney is considering a run against Senator Pete Domenici. John Kelly, the US Attorney for New Mexico under Bill Clinton, reportedly thinks he should be the Democrat to take on Domenici.

The Albuquerque Tribune:

One Democrat who isn’t running against Wilson is former U.S. Attorney John Kelly. He said Wednesday he’s considering taking on U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici instead.

“I do feel obligated to consider it and am going to look seriously at it,” he said.

Perhaps it is fitting the article was about Heather Wilson’s troubles since Wilson is the other New Mexican member of Congress tainted by the David Iglesias scandal. And perhaps it is fitting that a former USA would go after Domenici, who contributed to the downfall of David Iglesias, the last USA in New Mexico.

Kelly wrote an editorial in March in the ABQJournal denouncing Domenici’s actions.

Read about it below the fold.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., in his statement defending his call to then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, says that the FBI completed its work on the courthouse corruption case “months” before the call. He expresses concern about “unresolved new federal cases” and the inability of the federal prosecutor to “move more quickly on cases.”

The clear inference is that the courthouse corruption case should have been indicted earlier, and Iglesias is to blame for delaying the process.

Domenici’s critique is misleading and unfair. In a high profile, multi-defendant investigation, the FBI’s report is just the starting point for the prosecutor’s case evaluation. Routinely the prosecutor will want additional interviews conducted, key testimony locked in before the federal grand jury, and pre-indictment pleas negotiated with lower level targets who agree to testify.

He also criticized Iglesias for Iglesias’ failure to report the calls from Wilson and Domenici. Iglesias has admitted this was a critical mistake that he made.

Kelly unsuccessfully ran against Heather Wilson in 2000, losing 51-44. To his credit, he did better than either of Richard Romero’s runs. He still lost by a significant margin, partially because of his role in the Wen Ho Lee scandal. And Domenici was vocal in his disapproval of the Executive Branch’s handling of the Wen Ho Lee situation.

New Mexico’s Republican Sen. Pete Domenici was among numerous Republicans and some Democrats who lashed out at the executive branch in the early days of the Lee saga. At a May 1999 Senate hearing, Domenici portrayed the government’s investigation as a “tragedy of errors.”

While Kelly would undoubtedly be strong in an area of weakness for Domenici – the US Attorney scandal – so would Domenici be strong in an area of weakness for Kelly.

Already, two New Mexican Democrats are going after Domenici, but they are not top-tier candidates; Neither Leland Lehrman or Jim Hannan have any significant political experience. Two other lesser-tier candidates are thinking of a run against Domenici.  Javier Gonzales and Don Wiviott are more qualified than Lehrman and Hannan, but would not strike fear into the heart of Domenici. One more rumored name is Hector Balderas, the current New Mexico State Auditor.

Jim Hannan wrote in to correct me of my comment that he had no significant political experience.  I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

I served as the political chair of the Sierra Club for five years, oversaw our lobbyist and political endorsements.  I served as Treasurer of the Santa Fe County Democrats.  Together with Bill Sisneros, we raised over $60,000 in the 2000 cycle, money which put Al Gore over the top in New Mexico.  I also served as Chapter Chair of the Sierra Club in New Mexico, under my watch we sued and won a lawsuit against the San Juan Generating Station.

I worked for Mo Udall in Congress in the 1970’s, and have been involved with political and activist campaigns ever since.

My apologies to Mr. Hannan, and in the future I will be sure to list his accomplishments.  My source came from an Albuquerque Tribune article’s sidebar, which listed Hannan’s experience thusly:

He ran unsuccessfully for Santa Fe City Council in 1996.

Again, I apologize.