State by State – finding House candidates

With confirmed Democratic candidates in more than a third of the GOP House districts (317,) it's time to see how we are going state by state. Below the fold to see the good news as well as some potential concerns. And go take a look at the fantastic 2008 Race Tracker Wiki.

Alabama – 5/7 filled
The 2nd and 6th both need candidates. The 6th is one of ten districts we did not contest in 2006 and it wasn’t contested in 2004 either. There is a rumoured candidate in the 2nd but ominous silence from the 6th.


Arizona – 7/8 filled 
The only district left to fill is the sixth currently represented by Jeff Flake. Interestingly this is one of only ten districts that the Democratic party did not contest in 2006 and nor did we contest it in 2004.

Surely with months to go the Arizona Democratic party can find someone to fill the breach.

64% Bush District in 2004!

Arkansas – FULL SLATE

California – 44/53 filled
Well 9 races is a lot to find candidates for but this is California and all of the currently uncontested districts had candidates in 2006.

The districts are all over the state and I guess at this stage we should watch this space.

Colorado – 5/7 filled
The 5th and 6th both need candidates with both 2006 candidates unlikely to run again. Despite the focus on the open senate race I expect the Colorado Dems to find candidates for both these districts so as to boost turnout for the senate race.

Connecticut – FULL SLATE

Delaware – 0/1 filled
Ah Delaware at large. A most frustrating district. One of only 8 districts that Kerry won in 04 that are held by Republican incumbents. With such a deep bench surely we can find a top tier candidate. Castle is apparently quite popular which is why top tier candidates have given this race a miss in the last few elections.
There are rumours that Castle might retire but I suspect not.
53% Kerry district in 04.


Florida – 17/25 filled
8 Races to fill. It is a little early to be too concerned, particularly given the attention being paid to the 13th. None the less it would be good to see a few of these fill soon.

The 12th is one of ten districts uncontested in 2006.

Georgia – 6/13 filled
Not a happy scene. We do not have a declared candidate in a single GOP district. This is not good and even this far out a source for concern, particularly given our poor result in the special election in the 10th.


Idaho – 1/2 filled
Well Idaho 2 is unlikely to be even remotely competitive unless it becomes an open race, which is unlikely also.
Sure we will find a candidate here in the time remaining.
68% Bush district in 2004.

Illinois – 12/19 filled
Illinois too is of some concern. 7 unfilled races, no rumoured candidates. watch this space.

Indiana – 8/9 filled
Only the 5th left to fill and certainly a candidate will step up.


Kansas – 2/4 filled
Early days yet and we only need to fill two races. Wait and see.

Kentucky – 2/6 filled
With a competitive gubernatorial race coming in November it is no great surprise that 4/5 of the GOP incumbents do not have declared opponents. Wait until after November.

Louisiana – 3/7 filled
See Kentucky – however the precarious state of the Louisiana Democrats does not bode well. Also the 6th is one of the uncontested 10 districts from 2006.


Maryland – FULL SLATE

Massachusetts – FULL SLATE

Michigan – 7/15 filled
It is more than a little concerning that more than half of the house districts in Michigan do not have declared Democratic candidates and tha only one GOP incumbent is currently facing a Democratic candidate. What is going on in Michigan? Why are they lagging so far behind the other states?


Minnesota – 6/8 filled
Ho hum two races to fill shouldn’t be a problem. Be good to get someone running in the 3rd it is only a 51% Bush 2004 district.


Mississippi – 2/4 filled
Only 2 districts to fill which I assume democrats will turn their minds to filling after this years elections. Note that the 3rd was not contested by us in 2006 or 2004.

Missouri – 6/9 filled
2 GOP districts filled and 3 to go. With the focus on the gubernatorial contest in 08 expect the Missouri Dems to find candidates for all 3 districts.

Montana – FULL SLATE

Nebraska – 1/3 filled
2 districts to fill with Kleeb likely to run again in the 3rd. No problems here at this stage.

Nevada – 2/3 filled
Only 1 district to fill should happen soon hopefully.

New Hampshire – FULL SLATE

New Jersey – 10/13
We are doing surprisingly well in New Jersey this cycle. Months to go and state legislative elections in november and we still have filled half of the GOP districts with challengers. The other 3 will no doubt fill after november.

New Mexico – FULL SLATE

New York – 27/29 filled
Only 2 more to fill here both in and around NYC. expect announcements soon.

North Carolina – 10/13
Another state where we have only a handful of races to fill.
The 5th will almost certainly have a candidate soon and the other two should fill in due course also.

North Dakota – FULL SLATE

Ohio – 13/18 filled
hhhhmmmm 5 races without candidates that’s not good. But if you look at the quality of the candidates that the Ohio Dems are fielding in the other 6 GOP incumbents then perhaps a little more time is required. Watch this space.

Oklahoma – 1/5 filled
None of the GOP incumbents opposed at this stage not a good sign at all. Oklahoma being as red as it is this is one to be concerned about IMHO.

Oregon – 4/5 filled
The only question is who will step up in the 2nd a 61% bush 2004 district, particularly if the rumours about Waldens retirement are true.

Pennsylvania – 16/19 filled
3 races to fill here; 1 with rumoured candidates. The PA Dems will fill these 3 races easily.
Rhode Island – FULL SLATE

South Carolina – 2/6 filled
None of the GOP incumbents have declared opponents – this is a worry. The state of the SC Dems is probably worse than everywhere else bar Georgia and Louisiana. Hopefully candidates will step up.

South Dakota – FULL SLATE

Tennessee – 5/9 filled
Another southern state with all GOP incumbents currently unopposed. *sigh* This one too could be a problem. Watch this space.

Texas – 19/32 filled
Well 13 unfilled races says it all. Texas is a perennial concern for house wonks such as myself, largely because it sends more house repubs to congress than any other state (19). Texas also has a very early filing deadline so this is to be watched. On the upside there was only one unopposed district in 2006 and that has allready got a Dem candidate. Expect to hear more about this state later in the year.

Utah – 1/3 filled
Well it comes as no shock that we have unfilled races in Utah however there are only two GOP incumbents without declared opponenets so we will wait and see.

Vermont – FULL SLATE

Virginia – 6/11 filled
Virginia is a little slow out of the blocks. Of concern is the 4th which we did not contest in 2006 or 2004. To be fair however there is both state house and senate elections this november as well as the potential open senate race. Wait and see at this point. On the upside the 6th will be contested for the first time since 2002.

Washington – 8/9 filled
Only the 5th left to fill and that should happen.
57% Bush 2004 district.

West Virginia – FULL SLATE

Wisconsin – 7/8 filled
Only the 5th left to fill and that should happen.
57% Bush 2004 district.

Wyoming – FULL SLATE

So in the main things are looking great on the house candidate front. However a number of states are of concern; Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. On the upside however 17 states have a full slate and 5 only 1 race to fill.

Onwards to 435

KY-Sen: new SUSA poll: Mitch McConnell in trouble


The new Survey USA poll is out, and it's very bad news for Mitch McConnell.


Mitch has a record low approval rating of 48% and a record high disapproval rating of 44%.

Mitch thought that he would actually get bonus points for his oh-so-clever filibustering of any change to Bush's failed Iraq policy. The Webb amendment to give our troops the proper rest and rotation between tours passed easily, but Mitch voted against it and organized the filibuster. The Levin amendment passed, but Mitch again stood in the way, enabling Bush and obstructing any real progress in our Iraq policy.

Mitch lost the most ground among independents, free falling from 67/30 approval/disapproval, to 39/53. Considering that KY's independents are overwhelmingly against the war, this shows that Mitch has firmly put the Iraq anchor around his own neck by standing in the way of any progress. The right isn't happy either, as he  dropped 6 points amongst Republicans and 12 points amongst Conservatives. Women also don't like the war, and they don't like Mitch either (it's mutual, I'm sure): he dropped 11% amongst women.

This poll shows that Mitch's attempts to portray the Democrat's reform effort on Iraq as a “publicity stunt” is an absolute failure. KY voters are able to see through Mitch's spin, and they will continue to in bigger numbers the more that Mitch enables Bush and obstructs real progress that Democrats are pushing for and KY wants.

Mitch continues to have Iraq veterans and protesters hounding him wherever he goes in Kentucky. That will only heat up. He also has his first possible opponent, Greg Stumbo, forming an exploratory committee for a run against him in 2008. There is also a growing movement to draft Marine vet Lt. Col. Andrew Horne into the race. Having to run against an honored Vet who is active with VoteVets and consistently for changing course in Iraq would be a nightmare scenario for Mitch, imo.

But what about Mitch's bottomless war chest? Remember that Tom Daschle spent $19 million on his race and lost. People don't like Mitch, and there's no amount of money that's going to change that.

So don't let anyone tell you that this race is out of play, because we have a legitimate shot of ditching Mitch.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

View Results

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OR-Sen: Merkley on the Cusp of Finalizing Bid

Has the DSCC found its candidate in Oregon?  According to the AP, state House Speaker Jeff Merkley is almost ready to enter the race against Republican Senator Gordon Smith:

Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley plans to file notice with the Federal Election Commission by Aug. 1 that he'll be running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, two sources close to the campaign told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Merkley is on vacation in Central Oregon with his family this week, and wants to consult with them one last time before making the final, firm decision to challenge Smith, according to a strategist who has been advising Merkley.

“He could come back and say, 'We've decided that we are just not ready for this,” the strategist said. “I strongly believe that is not going to happen.”

The DSCC's wooing campaign, including favorable internal polls and face time with freshmen Senators, apparently paid off:

Merkley has met with many of the freshmen Democratic senators elected in 2006, including Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, all of whom encouraged him to run, sources said.

He's also been encouraged by recent internal polling, which has shown him within striking distance of the far-better-known Smith, who already has $3.5 million stockpiled for the race. National Democrats, who say Smith is one of their top three or four targets in 2008, have pledged to Merkley that he'll be “financially competitive,” and will likely pay for television ads to be in heavy rotation.

Meanwhile, activist and attorney Steve Novick, the only official challenger in the race so far, released a statement proving that he's a real class act:

Novick, though, said he would “welcome Jeff to the race, and look forward to a series of joint appearances around the state, where each of us will make the case for why Gordon needs to be replaced.”

How refreshing it is to hear a candidate press on undeterred, continuing to make their case for change while pointedly not whining about being “muscled out” of the race by “DC insiders”.  Rock on, Steve.

(H/T: Blue Oregon

IL-10: Could a Primary Be a Good Thing?

Some voices have expressed frustration that the Democratic field to take on Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois' Democratic-leaning 10th District is fractured between rematch-seeker Dan Seals and attorney and former Clinton aide Jay Footlik.  To the extent that Seals and Footlik both been outraised by a tidy sum in the second quarter, money-splitting is certainly a concern, but not an overwhelming one.  After all, fundraising is never a zero-sum game.

Is there a chance that a primary could be a good thing?  If Dan Seals is the nominee (and he has a strong chance, given the goodwill and name recognition that his longshot-turned-competitive 2006 campaign generated), he could emerge an even stronger candidate in the general. 

How do I figure?  In 2006, Seals ran a very competent campaign, hitting Kirk hard on his ties to Bush and the Republican Congress.  The one area of improvement for Seals lies in his Iraq message.  It's not so much a question of substance (Seals has the correct stance: “responsible withdrawal”), but volume.  This Chicago-area district is an expensive media market for any congressional candidate to run in, and Seals therefore had to condense many different themes into the few television spots he did run (see here and here).  As we have argued before, 2008 rematch-seekers should be prepared to reorient their campaign message with a strong stance on Iraq redeployment as the central theme, especially if they spent much of the 2006 campaign hitting on peripherals like prescription drugs, the cost of gasoline, congressional pay raises, et cetera.  Granted, I'm not saying that campaigning on these issues should be eliminated–far from it.  It's just that these should be side dishes to the main course of Iraq.

And I think Dan Seals gets it, especially when I read pieces like this one from Roll Call:

Seals Seeks 'Anti-War' Label in 10th District

Dan Seals recently staked his claim to the “anti-war” label now that he faces a credible challenge for the Democratic nod in the Prairie State's 10th district.

Seals, whose long-shot bid to unseat Rep. Mark Kirk (R) almost was successful last year, technically bashed Kirk for his vote against immediately redeploying troops from Iraq earlier this month. But clearly his shot was intended to also strike Jay Footlik (D), the business consultant who only recently decamped Washington, D.C., to compete with Seals.

“I am the only candidate who has opposed the war from the start and the only one who unequivocally supports a responsible timeline for withdraw,” Seals boasted in a news release.

If Footlik's challenge is inspiring Seals to stake his territory on the left side of the Iraq debate, this primary could actually be doing a favor for Seals in the general election–should he make it that far.

Dan Grant: Expand CHIP to Millions of Eligible Children — TX-10

The Children’s Health Insurance Program is that rarest of government creations — a joint federal-state effort that actually works to reduce the number of uninsured children in our country. No wonder Congressional leaders are trying to expand it — and the White House is trying to dismantle it.

The question for us is this: will our Congressman join the bi-partisan effort to strengthen CHIP? Or will he stick with the short-sighted ideological opposition of the Bush Administration and leave millions of children without health insurance?

A decade ago, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush dragged his feet while other states rushed to create CHIP programs and draw down federal matching funds. He preferred costlier private insurance plans that offered less coverage. He still does.

Where does Congressman Mike McCaul stand? Contact him today and tell him you support the bi-partisan plan to authorize $35 billion in new CHIP funding over the next five years — which is what we’ll spend (officially) in Iraq over the next three months. And the CHIP funds will actually do some good, covering an additional 3.2 million children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance.

DC office: 202-225-2401

It’s really very simple: If a criminal has the right to see a lawyer, a child should have the right to see a doctor.

Dan Grant

If you want a Congressman who will support proven programs like CHIP, please click here to donate today.

KY-Sen: Stumbo Forms Exploratory Committee

From Pol Watchers:

Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo said he intends to form an exploratory committee later today in preparation for a possible challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2008.

“I am keeping my options open; I am excited about gathering the facts and doing the ground work on this important election,” Stumbo said in an email sent to reporters. “It is time we remind Mitch McConnell that he represents Kentucky not George Bush.”

Stumbo, a Democrat, said he decided to explore entering the race last week after watching McConnell, R-Ky., lead Republicans in an effort to block an up or down vote related to the Iraq War.

“The American People deserve better, the families of Kentucky deserve better, most of all, our troops deserve better,” Stumbo said in a statement.

Stumbo, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor this spring on a slate with Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, said he doesn’t want to interfere with ongoing fund-raising efforts for statewide offices. However, he will proceed to raise money from out-of-state donors or close family and friends before the Nov. 6 election.

“With McConnell’s overwhelming war chest, we must start now,” he said.

McConnell’s re-election campaign took in $1.25 million between April 1 and June 30 and has $5.7 million in the bank heading into next year’s election.

It remains to be seen whether or not Charlie Owen, a businessman and unsuccessful candidate for the House, Senate and Lt. Governor in elections past, will run.  Owen has been making noises about running against McConnell for months, including a recent discussion with Harry Reid and DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer.  In Owen’s favor, he is considerably wealthy and could at least partially self-fund his Senate campaign.  Against him, if elected, he would be 70 years old by the time he’d be sworn-in–a pretty ripe age for a freshman Senator.

Any nominee against McConnell will have to be prepared to get dragged through the mud.  Hitting McConnell on his reckless support of the Bush agenda is a good place to start, though.

(Hat-tip: Ditch Mitch)

AK-AL, AK-Sen: Club For Growth Makes Noise in Alaska

In two successive election cycles, Alaska voters have shown signs of discontent with statewide politics as usual.  In 2004, newly-appointed Sen. Lisa Murkowski narrowly survived a challenge from Democrat Tony Knowles, while Bush crushed Kerry in the state.  Less than two years later, Murkowski's father, Frank, was ejected from the Governor's office by collecting a stunning 19% of the Republican primary vote amid charges of arrogance, nepotism, and wasteful spending.  At the same time, Alaska's long-serving Representative Don Young won re-election by his smallest margin in years, garnering 57% of the vote against underfunded, unknown Democratic challenger Diane Benson.

On top of it all, once invincible incumbents like Young (FL-AL) and Senator Ted Stevens are appearing much more mortal lately, with FBI investigations swirling around Stevens and his son regarding unethical transactions with the VECO Corporation (including a generous remodeling of the elder Stevens' home), and revelations that Young is not only wasting taxpayers' dollars in Alaska, he's doing it in Florida, too, with pleasant “side-effects” for a major contributor to his campaign (but no apparent benefit for Alaska, of course).

According to Roll Call, the Club For Growth, an organization always eager to intervene in Republican primaries in order to advance its Lochner Era economic agenda, is sniffing blood in the water.  In a poll commissioned by the CFG, 66% of likely Republican primary voters disapproved of the $223 million “bridge to nowhere” (a project vigorously defended by Stevens and Young), 71% believe that federal pork to Alaska should be cut, and 47% believe that it is time for a new Senator to replace Stevens.

Roll Call adds that such a salvo is well-timed, as some state Republicans are weighing challenges to Stevens or Young:

At least seven Republicans reportedly are mulling bids. Former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman is on the list, as is former state Senate President Mike Miller, who challenged Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for the GOP nod when she sought a full term in 2004

While the Club For Growth has yet to commit to funding a primary challenge to either of these incumbents, I fully welcome their involvement.  Given the Club's dubious track record of backing candidates who struggle with mainstream appeal in solidly Republican districts (Bill Sali in ID-01, Doug Lamborn in CO-05, Tim Walberg in MI-07, Adrian Smith in NE-03, etc.), and the assist that they could provide Democrats by raising Stevens and Young's negatives while helping to drain the incumbents' cash reserves before the general election, a pair of primaries could be a very entertaining sideshow on the way to 2008.  It would be especially entertaining, of course, if the DSCC and the DCCC get their way and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich and 2006 Lt. Gov. nominee Ethan Berkowitz enter the races under the Democratic banner.

In the meantime, you've gotta love money quotes like this one from CFG wingnut extraordinaire Pat Toomey:

“Like the rest of the country, Alaska taxpayers are fed up with runaway spending, wasteful projects, and the corruption that they can breed,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Defending his pork career in 2001, Ted Stevens told National Public Radio, ‘I am guilty of asking the Senate for pork and proud of the Senate for giving it to me.’ Clearly, the sentiment isn’t shared by Republican primary voters back home.”

WV-02: Our candidate strikes back

Crossposted from a version at West Virginia Blue.

State Sen. John Unger is that rare candidate, drafted by those of us at West Virginia Blue and the DCCC to run against vulnerable Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

As we’ve posted before, the GOP has desperately sought anything to throw at State Sen. John Unger, Democratic challenger to the vulnerable Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

With her neverending Iraq occupation stance, her handcuffing herself to an incredibly unpopular president, the DCCC making this a top tier race, the growing anti-Capito sentiment with the netroots, and the overall weakness of the GOP bench, the West Virginia Republicans are desperate to find something to throw at Unger to protect her even when they have to make it up.

We’ve called the rightwingers on it before. This time Unger called them on it and it’s good to see the campaign fighting back.

Once again a Republican attempt to throw mud at Unger has splashed back on Capito.

The latest attempt is a variation of one they’ve tried before on Unger’s employment as a federal contractor and yet it only highlighted how much better qualified Unger is for the job than Capito.

This time, however, the effort not only shows a potential ethical breach by the WV GOP, but it reveals dirty tricks by Capito. So much for her genial, civility veneer.

From Unger’s statement to the media today:

CHARLESTON – To combat the State Republican Party’s early smear campaign against him, Senator John Unger today made public a letter from Lewis G. Brewer, Executive Director of the West Virginia Ethics Commission, directly contradicting the State Republican Party’s attack on Senator Unger’s 2007 financial disclosure form.

In the attached letter from July 16, Executive Director Brewer states:

“Marking `other’ on your form would not meaningfully change the financial information you have already disclosed in completing the form.  Accordingly, it is my opinion that you are not required to file an amended financial disclosure statement.”

In simple words even rightwingers can understand the West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Doug McKinney filed an ethics complaint for Unger filling out the disclosure papers properly. How much more desperation are they going to get?

Seriously, they filed a complaint for someone filing a form properly. What’s next from the West Virginia GOP? “Unger places stamp with torn corner on envelope.”

Anyway, back to Unger’s statement:

West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Doug McKinney filed a formal complaint with the State’s Ethics Commission on July 17 alleging Senator Unger did not properly complete his personal financial disclosure statement.

“I am very proud of my employment with EG&G Technical Services and the work I do in the area of homeland security,” Senator Unger said.  “As can be seen by my financial disclosure forms, I have been open and transparent about my employment with EG&G.”

Filing ethics complaints against challengers of Shelley Moore Capito’s is not uncommon practice with the state’s Republican Party. In 2000, Shelley Moore Capito ran ad campaigns alleging at least 18 ethics charges had been filed against her opponent Jim Humphreys in an effort to attack his credibility.

In her ads, Capito herself said her intention was to state “the truth about Jim Humphreys’ questionable conduct, deceit and repeated violations of personal and professional trust.”

“It is unfortunate that the West Virginia Republican Party has run out of meaningful ideas about solving the pressing challenges our state and country are facing today, and instead has decided to engage in these petty character assassination attempts,” Senator Unger said.

What will be interesting to see in the days ahead is whether the media digs into how Capito’s supporters are filing false ethics complaints and abusing the ethics system for partisan political reasons or whether the press simply parrots Republican talking points.

Jake Stump of the Charleston Daily Mail already debunked the smear on Unger’s employment.

An employee at the National Energy Technology Laboratory recommended him for the EG&G job, Unger said.
“I’m not a federal employee, but I work with federal officials,” he said. “The reason I don’t talk much about the particulars of the job is because we’re dealing with sensitive materials and homeland security.”

The senator said he believes the company tapped him not because of his political background, but for his experiences overseas.

He has worked with Mother Teresa in India during monsoons and riots in 1990. There he coordinated the distribution of relief supplies.

Before that, he worked for the United States Refugee Program in Hong Kong and helped Vietnamese refugee children there.

He’s also aided in disaster relief efforts in Turkey and Iraq, where he has traveled twice.

Unger said those experiences provided him with knowledge concerning international relations and security.

“Part of our training in Iraq dealt with security,” Unger said. “When you’re working with government in the area of human relief, there’s a large component of security.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again of the rightwing whining smears on Unger: That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?

Capito’s got no positive record to run on after six years as an ineffective representative for West Virginia. All she and her supporters got against Unger is he filled out a form correctly and they’ve tried to make an issue of it.

They’ve done it before because they’ve got no ideas to run on and no facts to use against him. So they throw mud. They throw mud and it splashes on Capito. With friends like them, Capito doesn’t need any enemies.