NY-26: DCCC Adds Powers to Red to Blue Roster; Konst Drops Out

From the Stakeholder:

The DCCC announced today that Jon Powers (NY-26) will immediately be added to the Red to Blue program for open seats. Democratic congressional candidates running in open seats earned a spot in the competitive program by establishing significant local support, surpassing demanding fundraising goals and by skillfully showing voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities.  Powers is one of only 18 candidates in the Red to Blue program for open seats.

“Jon Powers has assembled a strong and dynamic campaign with strong grassroots support, local labor leaders, and all seven Democratic committees,” said Chairman Chris Van Hollen.  “Jon Powers will bring the leadership skills he used in Iraq to the issues facing western New York – bringing good paying jobs to the district and fighting to reduce gas prices for middle class families.  The Red to Blue Program will give Jon the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive.”

This is a big boost for Jon Powers, who was at risk of getting swamped out by multi-millionaire industrialist Jack Davis after the Supreme Court exercised its famous judicial activism and struck down the Millionaire’s Amendment last week. Powers also faces attorney Alice Kryzan and Eric County Legislator Kathy Konst in the Democratic primary, but Powers is has been gobbling up all the major endorsements, including ones from the NY AFL-CIO and all the county Democratic committees in the district.

This move is both a sign of affirmation for Powers and a stamp of non-confidence in Davis, whose bumbling 2006 campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against a badly wounded Tom Reynolds.

UPDATE: Konst is dropping out and running for the state Senate against incumbent GOP Sen. Dale M. Volker instead. Great news. (H/T: Jonah)

The Last Contested House Primaries for 2008

The surprise victory of Jason Chaffetz in the UT-03 Republican primary last week over Chris Cannon was a bit of a wake-up call, letting us all know this is a year where ‘changiness’ is big in both parties’ bases right now. This was the third successful primary challenge of the year (following the defeats of Wayne Gilchrest in MD-01 and Al Wynn in MD-04). This isn’t an outrageously high number of successful primaries against incumbents: almost all cycles have at least one or two. But if there’s one more, for a total of four, it would be the most successful primaries of any year since 1992, when there were a whopping 19.

Let’s take a look at the eight most competitive remaining House primaries against incumbents, ordered chronologically. (For more information on these races, see CQ’s recent article on this topic.)

July 15

GA-12: This is the primary that has garnered the most netroots attention (if a bit belatedly). While this race turns primarily on the demographics of GA-12, there’s also an ideological component, as John Barrow is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House… and unlike the other most conservative House Dems, he’s in a D+2 seat and doesn’t have the excuse of a deep red district.

State Senator Regina Thomas from Savannah is challenging Barrow from the left. Thomas is African-American and Barrow is white; this is significant in a district that’s 45% African-American and where at least two-thirds of the Democratic electorate is African-American. While that might seem to give Thomas an inherent advantage, most of the local political figures (and some national figures, including Obama) have endorsed Barrow, and Thomas’s money situation is a mystery (we’re still awaiting her first FEC report). Her main impediment is simply low name recognition, especially in Augusta, the other city at the other end of the district. Her strategy seems to be to focus on word of mouth via black churches to get the word out, which will be interesting to see if it works in the face of Barrow’s big bank account.

Regardless of who wins the primary, this should be a likely hold this cycle, as the Dems face third-tier Republican opposition (either former congressional aide John Stone or former radio talk show host Ben Crystal). This district has been very competitive at the general election level since its creation, though; Barrow won by only 864 votes in 2006, although that’s largely because he was facing Max Burns, the previous GOP representative that Barrow unseated in 2004.

More over the flip…

GA-10: On the Republican side, the primary pits incumbent Paul Broun Jr. against challenger State Rep. Barry Fleming. Broun is vulnerable because he more or less won accidentally in the 2007 special election to replace the deceased Charlie Norwood: he surprisingly sneaked past the Democratic challenger to make it an all-GOP runoff, and then surprisingly won the runoff against better-known State Sen. Jim Whitehead on the back of crossover votes from Democrats in Athens, after comments by the Augusta-based Whitehead ridiculing Athens.

The inference that Broun isn’t a ‘real’ Republican because Democrats helped him beat the establishment candidate is laughable, as Broun has one of the most conservative records of all House members. But Broun has established himself as more of a libertarian-leaning maverick, so the local GOP would probably prefer to see a more housebroken representative. Democrat and Iraq War vet Bobby Saxon awaits the victor, although this is an R+13 district where the GOP has to be favored.

August 5

MI-13: The scandal engulfing Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (and his attempts to quash an investigation into his affairs) may trickle upstream all the way to his mom, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. She’s facing two primary challengers, State Senator Martha Scott and former State Rep. Mary Waters. Kilpatrick’s defense of her son, who is refusing to resign, has become the main issue in the race, especially in the ads that Waters is running. With no runoff, Kilpatrick has a good shot at surviving in the face of two different challengers; the only action is in the Democratic primary in this Detroit-based D+33 district.

August 7

TN-09: Here’s another race, like GA-12, where an incumbent white man is facing off against an African-American woman in a district where most of the Democratic voters are African-American. However, there’s a key difference here: in this race, the white guy, Steve Cohen, is the progressive, and the black woman, Nikki Tinker, the more conservative option.

Cohen won the primary in 2006 (to replace the retiring Harold Ford Jr. in the Memphis-based seat) with only 31% of the vote against 14 other competitors, and Tinker, one of the losing candidates, has a cleaner shot at him this year (as well as EMILY’s List on her side). Polling has shown Cohen to be in relatively safe position so far, but like Regina Thomas, Tinker seems to be focusing on the black churches for getting traction (and also acting a bit slow to distance herself from anti-Semitism and homophobia coming from those quarters). Whoever wins the Democratic primary will have no trouble retaining this D+18 seat.

TN-01: At the other end of the state, in Tennessee’s most conservative (R+14) district, Republican freshman David Davis is facing a primary challenge. Davis won with only 22% of the vote in a 12-person field, and he’s facing one of his 2006 challengers, Johnson City mayor Phil Roe. This race doesn’t seem to be about much (Roe alleges Davis is too “beholden to special interests”), other than Roe feeling like he deserves another shot after a close race, but the well-known Roe may be able to make it competitive by not having to deal with 10 other wannabes in the way. Either way, this seat stays GOP, as it hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1880.

August 12

CO-05: Like TN-01, here’s another seat where an unappealing wingnut (Doug Lamborn, so odious that retiring fellow wingnut Joel Hefley refused to endorse him after he won the nomination) won in a crowded field (6 candidates) with low numbers (27%) in a hardcore Republican seat (R+16). Lamborn faces off against two of the candidates from last time, Jeff Crank (Hefley’s former aide) and retired AF Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn.

In an unusual twist, Crank and Rayburn entered into an extraordinary gentleman’s agreement where a poll would decide who would back out and have a clear shot at Lamborn, avoiding the vote-splitting dilemma. In good Republican fashion, the gentleman’s agreement collapsed and Crank and Rayburn are now savaging each other. The joint Crank/Rayburn poll indicates Lamborn is likely to survive, and face Dem Hal Bidlack in this Colorado Springs-based district.

August 26

AK-AL: Don Young, pork-barreler par excellence and a House institution since 1973, faces a two-pronged challenge: first, he faces Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and State Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux in the primary, and if he survives that, he’s up against State House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (or possibly 2006 candidate Diane Benson) in the general. Young has been more or less fatally wounded by allegations of bribery, corruption, and general malfeasance, so it’s really a question of whether the Republicans can take him out before we can.

Polling shows Young in deep trouble, losing the primary to Parnell, an ally of popular Gov. Sarah Palin and from the “clean” wing of the Alaskan Republicans, who is running with Club for Growth support. Unfortunately, that same poll also shows Parnell beating Berkowitz, while Berkowitz demolishes Young (easily overcoming Alaska’s R+14 lean… although given Obama’s strength in Alaska, look for that PVI to change dramatically). In other words, this primary is another case of “Vote for the Crook: It’s Important.”

September 6

LA-02: Bill Jefferson has to have a huge target on his back, as he may be the only member of the House running for re-election who’s mired deeper in corruption allegations than Young (as Doolittle and Renzi had the common sense to step down). Most people wouldn’t bounce back from the discovery of a freezer full of bribe money, but Jefferson still managed to win re-election in a 2006 runoff after these allegations came to light.

The primary field is still entirely unclear, as Louisiana’s candidate qualifying period is July 9 to 11. In fact, it’s unclear whether Jefferson himself might back out at the last minute; the pendulum has to be swinging closer to him, seeing as how Jefferson’s sister just copped a plea in an unrelated charity fraud case and has pledged ‘truthful cooperation’ with authorities. Former(?) Jefferson ally State Rep. Cedric Richmond has already announced that he will be running. (I add the question mark because I’m suspicious he may be running as a spoiler to dilute the change vote to allow Jefferson to squeak through into a runoff, or that he may know that Jefferson isn’t running again.) Jefferson Parish councilor Byron Lee has also announced, and all eyes are on whether 2006 challenger (and now State Sen.) Karen Carter tries again. In any event, the Democratic primary is the only election in this (pre-Katrina) D+28 district.

OH-02: Schmidt Shows Big Vulnerabilities in New Poll

Momentum Analysis (6/24-26, likely voters) for Vic Wulsin:

Vic Wulsin (D): 33

Jean Schmidt (R-inc): 41

David Krikorian (I): 6

Undecided: 19

(MoE: ±3.5%)

If any incumbent polling under 50 is in danger, Schmidt barely scraping above 40 is a real showing of vulnerability. But let’s pop open the hood and look at some other numbers from the poll: Only 36% of voters say that they will vote to re-elect Schmidt, while 33% say they will vote to replace her, and 15% are willing to consider someone else. Schmidt’s favorable/unfavorable rating is a poor 45-45, and her job performance rating is even weaker: 33% give her a positive rating while 53% have a negative view of her job performance.

Schmidt is in the danger zone for sure, but I can’t help but wonder if she’ll turn into our elusive white whale. Full memo below the fold.

SSP currently rates this race as Leans Republican.

OH-16: John Boccieri(D) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel to Discuss Skyrocketing Gas Prices at Canton Station

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2008

Contact: Bryan Collinsworth

330-754-0534 / bryan@johnforcongress.com

ADVISORY: Boccieri and Rep. Rahm Emanuel to Discuss Skyrocketing Gas Prices at Canton Station

Canton, OH – At 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 1, 16th Congressional District candidate John Boccieri will be joined by U.S. House Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) for a press conference at a Canton Sunoco station. The two will help customers pump gas and talk to them about skyrocketing fuel costs.

WHAT: Press Conference and Gas Pumping Session

WHO: State Sen. John Boccieri, Democratic candidate for

U.S.Congress in OH-16 and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), House

Democratic Caucus Chair

WHERE: Sunoco Station, 1601 Tuscarawas St. , W. Canton , OH 44708

WHEN: 10:45 – 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sen. Boccieri and Rep. Emanuel will explain how high gas prices are hurting local residents and lay out their plans for short-term and long-term relief. Reporters are also welcome to listen in on their conversations with customers.

As Democratic Caucus Chair, Rep. Emanuel is the fourth highest-ranking Member of the U.S. House. His visit demonstrates the viability of Sen. Boccieri’s candidacy and the importance of the race to national Democrats. The contest in Ohio ‘s 16th was recently ranked the fourth most competitive U.S. House race in the nation by the Washington Post.

DCCC Targets 13 GOP Incumbents in New Radio Ads

The DCCC is launching radio ads against thirteen incumbents this week, targeting Republicans for their support of Big Oil. CNN has a sample spot, and the Hill has the targets list:

Brian Bilbray (CA-50)

Charlie Dent (PA-15)

Thelma Drake (VA-02)

Shelly Moore Capito (WV-02)

Steve Chabot (OH-01)

Phil English (PA-03)

Scott Garrett (NJ-05)

Jim Gerlach (PA-06)

Virgil Goode (VA-05)

Robin Hayes (NC-08)

Patrick McHenry (NC-10)

Peter Roskam (IL-06)

Jean Schmidt (OH-02)

That’s an interesting mix of top-tier (OH-01, NC-08), midfield (WV-02, VA-02) and longshot races (NC-10, PA-15, VA-05). While it’s a small buy, these are the type of districts that the DCCC hopes to expand the battleground to this fall.

The Road to 60

Here’s the first tier, current Republican seats most likely to switch Democratic (ranked based on likelihood of switching):

1. Virginia

2. New Mexico

3. Alaska

4. New Hampshire

5. Colorado

Democrats currently have a 51 seat majority in the current Senate (this includes the Lieberman factor).  Assuming, that Lieberman remains in the Democratic caucus, which is likely, this leaves Democrats four seats short of sixty.

The second tier of competitive seats (ranked based on competiveness):

1. Mississippi

2. Oregon

3. North Carolina

The third tier of competitive seats (ranked based on competiveness):

1. Kansas

2. Kentucky

3. Texas

4. Georgia

Some may ask why Kansas would be the most competitive of this list and the answer is simple (a split between moderate and conservative Republicans).  Run as a moderate anything in Kansas and you can win.

Kentucky is the next most competitive because it’s hard for McConnell to run from Bush, especially when his wife is one of a handful that can dreadfully say, “I survived eight years of George Bush, and helped shape a failed agenda.”  Of course, McConnell could challenge his wife on this notion and say he helped push it through, yet why would he want to take credit where credit is deserved.  

Texas and Georgia become competitive mostly due to demographics, yet both also feature lackluster incumbents.

Democrats should strategize on winning two seats in the second tier and one in the third tier (Kansas is an inexpenvie media market compared to the other three states).  

Finally, there is the fourth tier, convincing a Republican incumbent to become a Democrat.  Ranked below is the likelihood of a Republican switching to the Democrats should it be necessary to guarantee a 60 seat majority (ranked based on likelihood of switching parties):

1. Specter (PA) – Conservative hate him and he hates them.  Re-election?  What re-election?

2. Collins (ME) – This is where Lieberman can come into play.  Only he seems to hold the key into bringing her over.

3. McCain (AZ) – If he loses the general election due to conservatives, then leaving the party in its entirety would be a good bye gift of sorts.

4. Smith (OR) – If he is re-elected due to moderates and independents, rather than conservatives, then he may decide that the Democrats are the party of choice.  He would also have two new colleagues (aka: second cousins) to lead his way into the party.

5. Coleman (MN) – This state is treading more and more Democratic.  Coleman may decide it’s time to come back home where he started.

6. Snowe (ME) – Highly unlikely that she would switch, yet if Shays and Sununu are defeated, that may serve as an early notice of further Republican erosion in New England (even in the moderate of form).

7. Graham (SC) – Conservative hate him and presented him with what was considered a “formible” primary opponent (Graham easily stomped him, winning every count statewide except Greenville).  Consider Graham only if he’s presented with a chairmanship (aka: Armed Services).

8. Voinovich (OH) – If three or more Republican seats in Ohio flip, then expect this to be a second notice that Ohio is no longer red.

9. Murkowski (AK) – Her father was a disaster and now if the last half of the trio (Young and Stevens) are defeated then she will no longer have to answer to a higher authority.  Free at last.

10. Martinez (FL) – If he see’s the Republican Party being overtaken by radicals targeting Hispanics (aka: illegal immigrants), then it could convince him that the Republican Party is a party of hate (a switch would still guarantee him the Republican Cuban voters, even as a Democrat).

Now, the list does leave out four races that were seen as promising early on (yet there is no point for the DSCC to overplay their field):

1. Oklahoma – The likelihood is that Inhofe will prevail.

2. Nebraska – Johanns will be a moderate like Hagel, yet just not as moderate.

3. Minnesota – Both Franken and Ciresi are in short terrible candidates with extreme flaws.

4. Maine – Allen is stuggling to battle against someone who’s voting almost identical to him.  Unlike Rhode Island, where there was an outsider (Whitehouse) versus an insider (Chafee), Maine is a battle between two insiders.

The Modern Republican Party: A Compendium of Catastrophe

It’s often been said that the Republican Party, from coast to coast, has run into some pretty bad luck this cycle. But I think it’s very easy to forget just how much bad luck they’ve run into. To remedy that, the Swing State Project has put together the most comprehensive compendium of Republican hubris, fuckups and misfortunes you will find anywhere, ever. Call it the “Year of Living Catastrophically”, if you will.

I hope you packed a snack, because this is gonna take a while.


January 9: US Attorney Chris Christie declines to challenge Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

January 15: Colorado GOP Sen. Wayne Allard announces that he will retire at the end of his term, leaving his seat vulnerable to a takeover by Democrat Mark Udall.

January 15: The Wall Street Journal reports that Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) is under federal investigation for bribery.

January 29: Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, considered a potential challenger to Sen. John Kerry, announces that he will play in 2008, denying the NRSC a star recruit.

February 23: GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-06) claims to know of a secret Iranian plan to partition Iraq and create a “a terrorist safe haven zone” called the “Iraq State of Islam” in order to launch attacks throughout the Middle East and on the United States. Bachmann is forced to recant her unsourced delusions days later.

March 6: On the same day that ex-US Attorney David Iglesias testifies before the House Judiciary Committee that he received intimidating phone calls from GOP Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) prior to the 2006 mid-term elections about an investigation of a Democratic state senator, Wilson admits that she called Iglesias, but claims her intent was not to intimidate Iglesias.

March 6: One of the GOP’s top choices to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Ron Klein (FL-22), state Rep. Adam Hasner, declines to run. State Sen. Jeff Atwater also says “no”.

March 15: GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt (OH-02) reportedly slips and falls in vomit in a Capitol Hill bathroom.

March 19: GOP Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-07) sticks his foot in his mouth by saying that most of Iraq is about as safe as Detroit or Chicago.

March 21: Ex-Rep. Scott McInnis, who was considered a credible candidate for statewide office, declines to seek the GOP nomination for the open Senate seat of retiring Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard.

March 31: The NRSC’s dream candidate to challenge Dem Sen. Mark Pryor, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, says that he won’t run for Senate.

April 10: Nevada GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons serves up a whopper to the local press when he says that he’s “heard rumors” of Democrats paying the Wall Street Journal to write articles exposing his corruption.

April 18: The FBI raids the home of GOP Rep. John Doolittle (CA-04).

April 20: GOP Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-01) steps down from the House Intelligence Committee after the FBI raids his family business.

May 5: Ex-Rep. Bob Schaffer bizarrely tries to un-announce his candidacy for the open Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.

May 15: Boca Raton Mayor Steve Abrams, one of the NRCC’s top choices to run against Democratic Rep. Ron Klein (FL-22), declines to run, joining a long list of local officeholders passing on the race.

May 29: The Anchorage Daily News reports that the FBI and a federal grand jury are investigating a remodeling project at the Girdwood home of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) that was organized by the oil services company VECO.

July 1: The NRCC’s much-hyped recruit against freshman Democrat Joe Courtney (CT-02), former Groton submarine base commander Sean Sullivan, discloses that he only raised “between $25,000 and $30,000” in his first three months of campaigning. After failing to pick up the pace significantly in the coming months, Sullivan becomes “persona non grata” to DC Republicans and the district quickly falls off the list of Republican targets.

July 5: Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg announces that he won’t challenge Sen. Max Baucus in 2008, denying the NRSC their top choice in the state.

July 9: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admits to being a customer of the DC madam and enjoying the company of prostitutes in the past.

July 19: GOP Rep. Chris Shays (CT-04) loses his cool and “screams obscenities” at a Capitol police officer.

July 25: The Wall Street Journal reveals 18-term GOP Rep. Don Young (AK-AL) is under criminal investigation for his dealings with VECO, just like Ted Stevens.

July 26: GOP Rep. Ray LaHood (IL-18) announces his retirement, putting his R+5.5 district on the map for Democrats.

July 30: The FBI and the IRS raid the home of GOP Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

There’s more – much, much more – below the fold.

August 15: GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH-15) announces her retirement, putting her Dem-trending R+1.1 district at the top of the Democratic takeover list.

August 17: GOP Rep. Dennis Hastert (IL-14), the former Speaker of the House, announces his retirement at the end of his term. Hastert’s decision puts his R+4.8 open seat on the DCCC’s target map.

August 17: GOP state Sen. Steve Stivers and former Columbus Mayor Buck Rinehart both decline to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH-15).

August 23: Embattled GOP Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-01) announces his retirement, opening up his competitive district for a Democratic takeover.

August 23: GOP state Rep. Jim Hughes also declines to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH-15).

August 27: It is revealed that GOP Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was busted on charges of lewd behavior in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Craig famously defends his conduct by saying that he tends to take a “wide stance” while using the toilet.

August 27: Two of the GOP’s top choices to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH-15), former state AG Jim Petro and former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka, both decline to run, leaving the GOP empty-handed in this tossup district for months.

August 31: Virginia GOP Sen. John Warner announces his retirement, putting his Senate seat in play for Democrats.

September 6: Former AZ state Senate President Ken Bennett, the GOP’s top choice to replace retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-01), says that he won’t run for Congress.

September 7: Nailed by the Chicago Tribune over various shady land deals, GOP Rep. Jerry Weller (IL-11) goes into hiding.

September 10: In an explosive closed-door meeting with House Minority Whip Roy Blunt and Rep. Eric Cantor, Minority Leader John Boehner sharply criticizes Tom Cole’s performance and strategic decisions as NRCC chair. Word leaks out that Cole threatened to resign if Boehner forced any personnel changes at the NRCC.

September 13: DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer hits the mother lode when former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announces that he’ll run for the open seat of retiring GOP Sen. John Warner.

September 14: Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen announces that she will run against GOP Sen. John Sununu, giving the senator his stiffest possible challenge.

September 17: GOP Rep. Jim Ramstad (MN-03) decides that he’s just not fit for life in the Minority and announces his retirement, putting his tossup R+0.5 seat into play.

September 21: GOP Rep. Jerry Weller (IL-11) announces his retirement, vaulting his R+1.1 suburban district to the top of the DCCC’s targeted races list.

September 26: GOP Rep. Terry Everett (AL-02) announces his retirement, putting his conservative R+13.2 district on the target map for Democrats.

September 30: Retiring GOP Rep. Ray LaHood (IL-18) predicts the future: “The Democrats will continue to be the majority party in the House and Senate and Hillary Clinton will make history by being the first woman president.”

October 3: The GOP’s top choice to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Jerry Weller (IL-11), state Sen. Christine Radogno, declines to run.

October 4: Longtime New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici announces his retirement, giving Democrats another excellent Senate pick-up opportunity.

October 5: GOP Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) jumps into the race to replace Domenici, opening up her Dem-leaning D+2.4 seat.

October 11: GOP Rep. Ralph Regula (OH-16) announces his retirement, putting his Dem-trending R+3.6 near the top of the DCCC’s target list.

October 13: Garbage magnate James Galante is charged with violating Connecticut state campaign finance laws for suspicious donations to various PACs, including one controlled by GOP state Sen. David Cappiello, who is running for congress against freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy (CT-05).

October 14: GOP Rep. Dave Hobson (OH-07) announces his retirement, putting his R+6 seat on the table for Democrats.

October 16: GOP Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) announces that he will run against Heather Wilson for the Senate nomination to succeed Pete Domenici, setting up the GOP for a bruising primary and putting his R+5.7 open seat into play.

October 19: After his contracting relationship with Blackwater and past run-ins with the law gained scrutiny in the press, IN-02 GOP candidate Chris Minor ends his campaign against frosh Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly, leaving the GOP empty-handed once again.

October 22: A spokesman for South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds says that he has no plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, denying the NRSC their most coveted recruit in the state.

October 23: A sign of the times? The entire membership of the all-Republican governing body of the swing town of Lyndhurst, New Jersey switch from Republican to Democrat. In addition, nearly 60% of Lyndhurst’s Republican County Committee defect to the Democratic Party.

October 25: The GOP’s great “moderate” hope of retaining the seat of retiring Virginia Sen. John Warner, Rep. Tom Davis, drops out of the race after getting snubbed by the VA GOP. The news leaves Republicans hobbled with unpopular former Gov. Jim Gilmore as their leading candidate.

November 6: The Hill writes that “a recruiting surge anticipated by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in recent weeks has yet to take shape as promised.”

November 7: Democrat Steve Beshear crushes incumbent Kentucky Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher in a landslide.

November 7: Democrats in Virginia and Mississippi capture control of their state Senates, and Virginia Dems gain more ground in the House of Delegates, as well.

November 8: 26 year-old GOP “wunderkind” Aaron Schock, who’s running to succeed retiring Republican Ray LaHood (IL-18), announces a downright insane plan to sell nuclear weapons to Taiwan in order to coerce China to fall in line with American policy towards Iran.

November 9: GOP Rep. Jim Saxton (NJ-03) announces his retirement from the House, leaving Democratic state Sen. John Adler well-poised to capture this D+3 open seat.

November 10: Democrat Tom Udall announces that he’s definitely running for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pete Domenici. Short of Gov. Bill Richardson, Udall is the strongest possible Democratic candidate and his entry immediately gives the Democrats the upper hand in this race.

November 19: GOP Rep. Mike Ferguson (NJ-07) makes a surprise retirement announcement, moving this competitive district into the tossup column.

November 20: The GOP’s top three choices to run for the open seat left behind by retiring Rep. Mike Ferguson (NJ-07) — Jon Bramnick, Bob Franks, and Tom Kean, Jr. — all pass on the race.

November 20: Wealthy businessman Andrew Saul, who had been posting impressive fundraising numbers in his race against Democratic Rep. John Hall (NY-19), shocks the political world by abruptly dropping out of the race. The GOP is left without a viable candidate to challenge the freshman Hall.

November 20: Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, a media-savvy police chief with loads of name recognition, declines to challenge freshman Democrat Joe Sestak (PA-07).

November 26: Mississippi GOP Sen. Trent Lott announces that he will resign from Congress by the end of the year, putting his Senate seat in play and triggering a series of downballot shuffles that eventually put a House district in play.

November 26: GOP Rep. Dennis Hastert (IL-14), the immediate past Speaker of the House, resigns from Congress, setting up a special election for early 2008. The vacancy puts this historically Republican R+4.8 district in play.

November 29: Well-liked GOP state Sen. Diane Allen declines to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Jim Saxton (NJ-03) after not being able to secure financial assurances from the cash-strapped NRCC.

November 29: Former Assemblyman Howard Mills says that he won’t challenge freshman Democratic Rep. John Hall (NY-19).

December 7: GOP Rep. Jim McCrery (LA-04) announces his retirement, putting this R+6.5 district into play.

December 8: Ex-GOP Rep. Charles Taylor finally makes up his mind and announces that he won’t challenge freshman Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11) in a rematch. Several other high-profile Republican candidates, kept out of the race by Taylor’s indecision, ultimately decline to enter.

December 11: The NRCC gets successfully head-faked in two special elections in deeply red districts (OH-05 and VA-01) by the DCCC, and spends over $500,000 (20% of the committee’s cash-on-hand) defending the two seats. NRCC Chair Tom Cole is later attacked for wasting scarce resources.

December 11: Iraq Vet and surgeon Wayne Mosley declines to challenge Democratic Rep. John Barrow (GA-12).

December 31: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour taps Rep. Roger Wicker (MS-01) to fill the open seat left behind by retired Sen. Trent Lott, opening up his R+10 House district for a Democratic takeover.


January 1: NY Assemblyman Greg Ball declines to run against Dem Rep. John Hall (NY-19), leaving the GOP with third-tier candidate Kieran Lalor.

January 11: State Rep. Bill Konopnicki, one of the GOP’s top choices to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-01), drops out of the race, leaving Republicans without a top tier candidate in this competitive district.

January 15: GOP Rep. Richard Baker (LA-06) announces that he’ll hang up his spurs and take a plum lobbying job instead, opening up his R+6.5 district for a takeover by Democratic state Rep. Don Cazayoux.

January 21: The NRCC’s preferred candidate to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-08), ex-Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, announces that he’ll run for the State House instead. Within a month, Fitzpatrick bails on that campaign, too.

January 22: Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt announces that he won’t seek a second term, leaving Democratic state AG Jay Nixon as the frontrunner to succeed him.

January 23: GOP Rep. Jim Walsh (NY-25) announces that he will retire from Congress, giving Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity for his D+3.2 open seat.

January 29: GOP Rep. Kenny Hulshof (MO-09) announces that he will leave Congress to run for Governor, leaving his R+6.5 district up for grabs.

January 29: GOP Rep. Ron Lewis (KY-02) announces his retirement, putting his conservative but historically Democratic R+12.9 district on the table.

January 30: GOP Rep. Tom Davis (VA-11) announces his retirement from Congress, opening up his Dem-trending R+0.6 district for a takeover.

February 12: When asked if he will challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for his re-election, Mike Huckabee replies: “There’s a greater chance that I would dye my hair green, cover my body with tattoos and go on a rock tour with Amy Winehouse.”

February 12: Pro-war state Sen. Andy Harris successfully defeats moderate incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (MD-01) in the GOP primary. Gilchrest’s defeat gives Democrat Frank Kratovil a fighting chance of picking up the R+9.8 seat in November.

February 12: GOP Rep. John Shaddeg (AZ-03) announces his retirement.

February 21: Desperate GOPers beg John Shadegg to unretire. In an embarrassing about-face which serves as an admission that the Republicans had no ability to recruit a strong replacement in this district, Shadegg changes his mind and decides to stick it out for another term.

February 22: GOP Rep. Rick Renzi is indicted on 35 criminal counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and official extortion.

February 23: The GOP’s candidate to run for retiring Rep. Jerry Weller’s (IL-11) open seat, New Lennox Mayor Tim Baldermann, drops out of the race.

February 25: Outgoing GOP Rep. Renzi (AZ-01) bucks the orders of John Boehner and refuses to resign immediately from Congress.

February 27: GOP Sen. Ted Stevens loses his free pass when Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich announces his candidacy against him.

March 4: The NRCC’s preferred candidate to take on Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23), wealthy self-funding attorney Franciso “Quico” Canseco, loses his primary to Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson, despite spending over $1 million on the race. Larson has only raised a fraction of that amount, causing many observers to downgrade this race’s competitiveness.

March 4: The GOP nominates Fred Dailey, a former state Agriculture Director, to take on freshman Rep. Zack Space (OH-18). Dailey’s fundraising is incredibly anemic, having only raised $75,000 through the primary, despite being in the race for over nine months.

March 5: Republican real estate developer Anne Estabrook drops out of the Senate race against Frank Lautenberg due to illness.

March 6: The GOP’s top choice to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Harry Mitchell (AZ-05), Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller, drops out of the race.

March 7: GOP Rep. Steve King (IA-05) announces that he won’t challenge Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, leaving the NRSC without a top-tier candidate once again.

March 8: South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds once again refuses to run against Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, despite President Bush begging him to change his mind.

March 8: Democrat Bill Foster wins the special election in IL-14 for the seat of retiring Rep. Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House. The pick-up of the R+4.8 open seat inspires SSP Publisher DavidNYC to start the blog’s wildly popular Tom Cole Deathwatch series, later a hot topic of discussion on Capitol Hill.

March 10: Former Lt. Governor and Republican businessman and flesh-eating zombie Steve Kirby also declines to run against Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), dashing GOP hopes of finding a wealthy challenger to make this a race.

March 13: NRCC Chair Tom Cole reveals that the NRCC overstated its cash on hand by $740,000 due to fraud by an ex-employee.

March 13: NRSC Chair John Ensign admits that the committee’s goal of capturing “two seats” to take back the Senate is a “very long stretch”.

March 13: Retiring GOP Rep. Tom Davis (VA-11), a former chair of the NRCC, famously says: “The House Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they’d take it off the shelf.”

March 19: GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds (NY-26) — who only one cycle before helmed the NRCC — retires, opening up his R+3.5 seat for a takeover.

March 23: Andy Unanue, a former seller of luscious Goya nectars, announces his candidacy for the U.S. Senate against Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) while vacationing in the posh resort community of Vail, Colorado.

March 24: The GOP finally finds a candidate for the open seat of retiring Illinois Rep. Jerry Weller (IL-11) — their twentieth choice, shady concrete mogul Martin Ozinga.

March 24: The GOP’s preferred choice to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds (NY-26), state Sen. George Maziarz, won’t run. Their second choice, Assemblyman Jim Hayes, also declines to run.

March 25: The GOP’s lone candidate to take on Democrat Dan Maffei in the open seat of NY-25, former State Fair Director Peter Cappuccilli, pulls the plug on his candidacy, leaving the GOP without a candidate here for some time.

March 27: State Rep. Donna Stone declines to run for the Delaware Governor’s office, leaving Delaware GOP officials to lament that they “have no strong candidates” to offer for the open seat race in 2008.

March 31: The GOP’s top choice to run for the open seat left behind by retiring Democratic Rep. Bud Cramer in Alabama, DINO state Sen. Tom Butler, declines to run.

April 6: The GOP’s top choice to take on Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, biotech millionaire John Crowley, pulls out of the race for the second time in two weeks, leaving the GOP to temporarily fall back on disgraced Goya foods frat boy Andy Unanue.

April 7: Colorado Senate candidate Bob Schaffer’s ties to Jack Abramoff begin to receive wider exposure in local media.

April 21: The GOP’s top choice to run for the open seat of retiring Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-01), former state Sen. President Ken Bennett, again declines to run, leaving the GOP with the far-right loon Sydney Hay as their last resort.

April 22: In the MS-01 special primary, Democrat Travis Childers very nearly wins the R+10 open seat left behind by Roger Wicker outright. GOP panic ensues as the race goes to a runoff.

May 1: GOP Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13) is arrested on DWI charges in Virginia.

May 3: Democrat Don Cazayoux wins the LA-06 special election against Republican Woody Jenkins in an R+6.5 district. This is the Democrats’ second house pick-up of the year.

May 6: Rumors rage that GOP Rep. Vito Fossella is involved in an extramarital affair and has an out-of-wedlock child after details of his DWI arrest are made public.

May 7: Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower, the GOP candidate against freshman Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11) tells the NRCC that he has no interest in accepting their campaign money, saying that the national party has “abandoned their principles”.

May 8: Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13) admits to fathering a child in an extramarital affair.

May 9: Several local NY papers call on Rep. Vito Fossella to resign.

May 9: Vice President Dick Cheney makes an embarrassing gaffe on a Mississippi radio show about visiting “South Memphis” in order to campaign for GOP candidate Greg Davis in an upcoming special election. The locals are not amused.

May 13: In a back-breaking blow to Republican morale, Democrat Travis Childers beats Republican Greg Davis by eight points for the R+10 open seat left behind by appointed Sen. Roger Wicker in Mississippi. SSP Publisher DavidNYC writes that the result is the “final piece of straw set atop the shambling camel of the GOP, the one which clove its dessicated humps in two.”

May 14: GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer kicks off his campaign in Colorado with an embarrassing TV spot that features an image of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley in the place of Colorado’s Pikes Peak.

May 19: GOP Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13) announces his retirement, creating another vulnerable open seat for Republicans to defend.

May 20: Businessman Mike Erickson wins the GOP nomination in OR-05 for the open swing seat left behind by retiring Democratic Rep. Darlene Hooley. However, Erickson spends the last week of his primary campaign deflecting accusations that he used to lead a party-heavy lifestyle of cocaine use and that he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion procedure several years earlier. The allegations heavily blunt the GOP’s hopes of making this race into a rare pick-up opportunity.

May 20: The filing deadline passes in Arkansas, and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, considered one of the GOP’s top targets early in the cycle, goes unchallenged by any major party opposition.

May 21: OR-05 primary loser Kevin Mannix refuses to endorse GOP candidate Mike Erickson.

May 21: In the wake of the GOP’s loss of MS-01, word leaks out that Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing some major changes upon Tom Cole and the NRCC.

May 22: In a major disappointment for the NRCC, the GOP’s top choice to replace Vito Fossella (NY-13) in the House, Richmond County DA Dan Donovan, declines to run.

May 22: GOP delegates vote to endorse wingnut Kieran Lalor over Westchester Legislator George Oros. Days later, Oros drops out of the race, setting up freshman Democratic Rep. John Hall (NY-19) for an easy re-election bid.

May 27: GOP Rep. Bill “Brain Fade” Sali (ID-01) turns back a poorly-funded primary challenge by only capturing 60% of the vote.

May 29: State Sen. Andrew Lanza, the GOP’s second choice to succeed Vito Fossella (NY-13), officially declines to run.

May 29: Failing to convince a top-tier (or second-tier) candidate to run for Fossella’s seat, the Staten Island GOP nominates some dude named Frank Powers, a retired Wall Street executive and MTA member.

May 29: Nevada Republicans are sent into a tailspin as details of GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons’ divorce proceedings are made public. GOP consultant Chuck Muth laments: “This absolutely could depress Republicans who are already depressed. This could hurt McCain’s ability to hold on to Nevada. It could also affect the chances of (Rep.) Jon Porter to get re-elected.”

May 31: In a sign of grassroots disgust, Jim Gilmore very nearly loses the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Sen. John Warner to state Del. Bob Marshall.

June 3: In a major embarrassment for NRSC Chair John Ensign and Massachusetts Republicans, dark horse candidate Jim Ogonowski fails to file enough signatures to make the ballot against John Kerry.

June 3: Carpet-bagging blockhead and conservative firebrand Tom McClintock beats the more moderate (and perhaps more electable) Doug Ose for the GOP nod to succeed John Doolittle.

June 3: In Iowa, Montana and New Mexico, party-favored candidates for Senate lose their primary bids to no-money candidates. In Montana, the upset is particularly glaring; the winning candidate, Bob Kelleher, is a former Democrat and Green Party member who has lost numerous bids for statewide office in the past. In New Mexico, hand-picked “moderate” successor to Pete Domenici, Rep. Heather Wilson, loses to the Club For Growth-backed conservative Rep. Steve Pearce.

June 3: Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower, the GOP’s candidate against Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11) calls for the impeachment of President Bush over his “failure to protect America’s sovereignty”.

June 4: Francis M. Powers, the son of NY-13 GOP candidate Francis H. Powers, seeks to run on the Libertarian Party line against his father in the hopes of denying him the seat. While Powers’ bid is ultimately unsuccessful, the event badly embarrasses Staten Island Republicans.

June 5: Staten Island Conservatives buck the state party and press to give their endorsement to Democrat Mike McMahon.

June 7: NRSC John Ensign moves the goalposts out of the stadium by suggesting that the GOP’s “minimum goal” is to retain control of 41 Senate seats.

June 9: OH-16 GOP candidate Kirk Schuring makes an embarrassing gaffe about gun violence in his hometown of Canton.

June 12: An audit reveals that former NRCC treasurer Christopher Ward embezzled $725,000 from the committee over a period of six years, up from previous NRCC estimates of $500-$600K. In addition, it is revealed that Ward stole $27,000 from the NRSC via joint fundraising activities and $47,000 from other GOP leadership PACs, for a total of almost $800,000.

June 12: When asked to list the competitive Senate races of 2008, NRSC Chair John Ensign leaves off New Mexico and Virginia. When asked if the NRSC is writing off Steve Pearce and Jim Gilmore, Ensign replies: “You don’t waste money on races that don’t need it or you can’t win.”

June 16: In a move that leaves both supporters and detractors speechless, “Big John” Cornyn releases this campaign video at the Texas GOP convention.

June 18: GOP wunderkind Jon Elrod drops out of the race against Rep. Andre Carson (IN-07), saying that he wouldn’t stand much of a chance in November.

June 20: The Alaska AFL-CIO, which has usually backed Sen. Ted Stevens, votes to give its endorsement to his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

June 20: Republican nominee Joel Dykstra is forced to address claims that he’s the GOP’s “sacrificial lamb” against Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson in South Dakota.

June 22: NY-13 GOP candidate Francis Powers dies at age 67.

June 23: OR-05 GOP candidate Mike Erickson endures more bad press when the woman whom he allegedly gave money to pay for her abortion steps forward and gives her account to the press.

June 23: Seeing the writing on the NY GOP’s wall, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno announces his retirement.

June 25: Former Assemblyman Matthew Mirones pulls his name from consideration after briefly mulling the open seat race to replace retiring Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13). NY1 broadcaster Lisa Giovinazzo also declines to run, leaving former Rep. Guy Molinari, the dean of Staten Island Republicans, exasperated.

June 25: GOP Rep. Chris Cannon (UT-03), recently ousted in a primary, speaks candidly on the shape of the Republican Party in Utah and elsewhere: “It doesn’t take a genius to see that Republicans (in office) have lost the credibility of people in America and in the 3rd District.”

June 26: NRCC Communications Director Karen Hanretty admits that “there are no safe Republican seats in this election.”

June 30: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admits that it is “impossible” for the GOP to reclaim control of the Senate in the 2008 elections.

June 30: GOP Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart is busted for touting labor endorsements from unions that not only did not endorse him, but are actually supporting his Democratic challenger, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez.

July 1: Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD), while on the campaign trail for MD-01 candidate Andy Harris, admits that “the Republican brand quite frankly sucks”.

July 4: Former GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe pulls his support from AZ-08 candidate Tim Bee days after Bee votes to place a constitutional amendment on marriage on the November ballot.

July 6: NRSC Chair John Ensign (R-NV), setting a 3-4 seat loss for the GOP in the Senate as the committee’s goal, offers his take on the 2008 elections: “If you have an R in front of your name, you better run scared.”

July 7: Ex-Rep. Guy Molinari, the unofficial leader of the Staten Island GOP, admits that the party’s chances of holding the open seat of retiring Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13) are grim: “Based on the candidates that have surfaced so far, yes, we’re going to lose the seat.”

July 8: In the open seat race in Alabama’s heavily conservative 2nd CD, retiring GOP Rep. Terry Everett injects himself in the Republican primary runoff, begging the contestants to stop their negative attacks lest they turn off voters and hand the race to Democrat Bobby Bright.

July 8: Democrat Republican John Kennedy kicks off his U.S. Senate campaign in Louisiana in a mostly empty ballroom.

July 14: Republican Carl Mumpower suspends his campaign against Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-08) until local party leaders agree to sign a pledge to commit to core Republican principles.

July 15: Staten Island Republicans, still looking for a candidate to replace retiring Rep. Vito Fossella (NY-13) settle on their last choice: former Assemblyman Robert Straniere. Guy Molinari, the unofficial dean of the Staten GOP, fumes: “They couldn’t have made a worse mistake. The party was already in desperate shape. They’ve all but buried it.”

July 16: During a campaign trip to Alaska, Republican candidate Luke Puckett (IN-02) is swarmed by mosquitoes before he can film a video on energy independence.

July 24: Republican Keith Fimian, running for the open seat of retiring Rep. Tom Davis in Virginia’s socially liberal 11th CD, is outed for his ties to socially conservative business groups and his anti-choice views.

July 24: State Rep. Todd Brinkman, who recently lost a primary to GOP wingnut Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (OH-02), spills all: “Jean Schmidt is a lying b—-. She would sell her mother to promote herself. She is a despicable person. She will go any length possible to win, to get what she wants.”

July 26: GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan is hit with allegations of illegal campaign financing.

July 29: GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, an iconic figure in his home state of Alaska, is indicted on criminal charges related to gifts and special favors received from Alaskan oil field services firm VECO. The indictment greatly boosts the chances of Democrat Mark Begich, who was already neck and neck with Stevens in the polls.

July 30: GOP Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-07) bumbles his way through a defense of his votes against funding for early childhood education programs, saying that such programs might allow “a Wiccan from a coven in Ann Arbor” to claim discrimination.

July 31: GOP Rep. Joe Knollenberg (MI-09) is busted by the Swing State Project for scrubbing a racist headline on his blog.

August 1: A longtime friend of GOP dairy magnate Jim Oberweis (IL-11) compares the perennial candidate to fecal matter.

August 4: Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is embarrassed once again, as it is revealed that his 20 year-old son has been posting extremely offensive photos on his Facebook account, including one that reads “Slavery gets shit done”.

August 13: GOP candidate Ed Tinsley, running for the open seat of Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02), sparks a firestorm when some of his outrageous comments against his Democratic opponent, Harry Teague, at a candidates’ forum are reported on local blogs. At the forum, Tinsley spat: “How can I call my two nephews over there right now [serving in Iraq]… and tell them I’m running against a guy that will cut your throat — that will cut the bottom out of your funding.”

August 13: GOP Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-08) comes under fire for accepting campaign cash from the parent company of Airbus, which is Boeing’s major competition. With 19,000 Boeing employees in his district, Reichert quickly dumps the cash, but not without embarrassment.

August 13: GOP Rep. Bill Sali (ID-01) comes under criticism from the local press for opening his campaign office in the wrong district, and for not adequately separating the boundaries of his congressional and campaign offices.

August 17: Scandal-plagued candidate Mike Erickson, running for the open seat of retiring Rep. Darlene Hooley (OR-05), is busted for attempting to portray a luxury vacation that he took to Cuba in 2004 as a “humanitarian trip”. A copy of the actual itinerary from his trip reveals that Erickson’s time was spent touring cigar factories, attending exclusive nightclubs and luxury restaurants, shooting doves, and watching the cock fights. In his defense, Erickson sputters: “If that’s not a humanitarian trip, I don’t know what is!”

August 18: GOP Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) screws the pooch and posts a press release from his Democratic opponent that brands the incumbent as an unwavering proponent of President Bush’s failed policies — right on the front page of his website.

August 18: In a major embarrassment for Republican candidate Jay Love, the Republican Mayor of Dothan and state co-chair of John McCain’s campaign in Alabama, Pat Thomas, endorses Democrat Bobby Bright for Congress.

August 20: GOP Sen. Ted Stevens is denied a home state trial, complicating his re-election efforts.

August 21: The campaign of GOP candidate Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-09) is busted by the Swing State Project for releasing a deranged statement claiming that Luetkemeyer’s Democratic opponent, state Rep. Judy Baker, hates NASCAR. For the record: Judy Baker loves NASCAR.

August 22: GOP candidate Tim Bee, a highly-touted recruit running against freshman Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08), is roasted by local editorials for forcing taxpayers to cover the security costs related to a private fundraiser he held with President Bush.

August 22: NRSC Chair John Ensign releases a statement stained with his own personal disgust that lambastes his Senate colleagues for not contributing to the party’s 2008 campaign efforts. Ensign announces that he has no choice but to decrease his committee’s expenditure budget for targeted races after previously vowing to match the DSCC “dollar for dollar”. The NRSC also pulls the plug on a planned $6 million reservation in the North Carolina Senate race, despite polls indicating that GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole is in an increasingly competitive race.

August 26: GOP Rep. Ric Keller (FL-08) barely defeats his primary challenger, a fringe right-wing radio host, by a 53-47 margin, helping prompt prognosticators to consider the incumbent in electoral danger in this marginal district.

August 26: In a big blow to the GOP’s hopes of retaining their at-large House seat in Alaska, corrupt GOP Rep. Don Young defeats Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell by the slimmest of margins in the Republican primary. Polls show Young having a much rougher time against Democratic nominee Ethan Berkowitz than Parnell would have had.

Is there anything that we missed?

OK-01: Wealthy Dark Horse Emerges to Challenge Sullivan

Oklahoma’s Tulsa-based 1st District at first glance does not look like fertile territory for a Democrat to challenge an entrenched Republican incumbent; its PVI is a deep red R+12.7, and it went to Bush by the lopsided margin of 65-35 in 2004. Its incumbent, Rep. John Sullivan, has won by comfortable margins  But earlier this month, one Democrat with a pocketful of dreams and a fistful of dollars stepped up to try her hand at the district:

The latest wealthy, long-shot Democrat to promise an upset is Tulsa technology company CEO Georgianna Oliver, who is vowing to oust Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) in the overwhelmingly conservative 1st district by perhaps spending in excess of $1 million of her own money.

“All I can tell you is what she told me, and that is that the money will be there. So I believe she has a very strong commitment,” said Don Hoover, Oliver’s media consultant.

So what’s the plan? Running to the right, of course:

Oliver’s plan, according to a memo her campaign prepared to explain how she can beat Sullivan, is to run as a “conservative” Democrat. She was a House aide for then-Rep. Bill Brewster (D-Okla.) and has been active with the Tulsa League of Women Voters, although this is her first run for political office.

Oliver bases her viability largely on the fact that Sullivan has had minimal competition since winning the 1st district in a 2002 special election, and on the strong performance of Democrats who have won the seat in their bids for state office. In 2006, Gov. Brad Henry (D) won the district with 61 percent of the vote.

Democratic candidates for state attorney general, state treasurer and state school superintendent also won the district that year.

It’ll be a tough row to hoe in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 42,585 voters, and one where no Democrat has been elected to the House since James Robert Jones’ final term in 1984. But if Oliver intends to self-fund her race, she won’t have to contend with the Millionaire’s Amendment any longer.

Any Democrat stepping up to challenge an entrenched incumbent is a good thing, and Oliver’s candidacy could prove helpful to Andrew Rice’s Senate campaign against Jim Inhofe. We’re seeing a lot of credible candidates step up in surprising places (TX-07, SC-01 and SC-02, to name but a few) this year, which is a great sign of something big forming.

On the web:

Georgianna Oliver for Congress

NY-13: SSP Moves Race to “Leans Democratic”

With Staten Island Republicans still searching for a candidate a week after the death of Frank Powers, the Swing State Project is changing its rating of this race from “Tossup” to “Leans Democratic“.

Democrats landed a top tier candidate for this race in NYC Councilman Mike McMahon, who is rumored to have raised up to $400,000 for his campaign already. Meanwhile, the Staten Island GOP’s cold treatment of ex-Assemblyman Matthew Mirones, who was briefly considering stepping up for Team Red last week before he declined to run, left one local Republican insider exasperated: “It looks like they have been bending over backward to hand this race to Mike [McMahon].”

Richmond Republicans gathered fewer than 2000 signatures for Powers before his death. This is a bit more than the the 1,250 technically required to secure a place on the ballot, and party bigs can appoint a replacement candidate to Powers’s spot. But they might not have enough sigs to ensure that they’ll withstand potential legal challenges from Democrats – it’s very easy to knock out invalid signatures in NY. So the clock is ticking for the GOP to find an actual candidate and gather the required signatures before the state’s July 10th filing deadline.

If a replacement can’t be found, the GOP may have to fall back on unpopular physician Jamshad Wyne, the only currently announced candidate. Wyne would start the race in an extremely awkward position: he endorsed McMahon back in May. You can just imagine the Dem lit. Needless to say, this is not a match-up that the GOP would relish. Alternately, the Republicans might line up behind Conservative Party nominee Paul Atanasio, who lives in Brooklyn, was once involved in a nepotism scandal at a city agency, and – the best part – is not even a registered Republican.

Further complicating the GOP’s efforts to find a competent challenger is the DCCC’s decision to reserve $2.1 million in air time for this race. Is there any candidate out there who is willing to rush head-first into that kind of artillery barrage? If so, SSP may revisit its rating, but in light of the Staten Island GOP’s misfortunes and foibles, Democrats clearly have the upper hand in this race for the time being.

SSP’s complete list of House race ratings is available here.

GA-Sen: Chambliss Leads the Field, But Martin in Best Shape

Rasmussen (6/26, likely voters, 6/4 in parens):

Dale Cardwell (D): 33 (37)

Saxby Chambliss (R-inc): 53 (52)

Vernon Jones (D): 30 (33)

Saxby Chambliss (R-inc): 57 (56)

Jim Martin (D): 39 (36)

Saxby Chambliss (R-inc): 52 (52)

Rand Knight (D): 31

Saxby Chambliss (R-inc): 55

Josh Lanier (D): 31

Saxby Chambliss (R-inc): 54

(MoE: ±4.5%)

Not surprisingly, Jones’ favorables are atrocious, with a full 60% having an unfavorable opinion of the controversial DeKalb CEO. I know that Rand Knight and other candidates have their fans on the blogs, but I feel that Martin is the only candidate who will have the resources he needs to defeat Jones in the runoff. Jones and his baggage could be a major hindrance on the Georgia Democratic ticket in November if he makes it through the primary.