KS-Sen: Tiahrt Makes it Official

Fast forward, selecta!

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) officially launched his 2010 Senate bid Saturday, setting up a primary face off with fellow Republican Rep. Jerry Moran.

“As I travel across Kansas listening and sharing my vision for a more prosperous state, I have been encouraged to take my leadership to the United States Senate in 2010,” Tiahrt said at an event in Topeka, according to a statement issued by his campaign.

“I am resolute in my determination to take on tough battles in Washington to get things done for the great people of Kansas,” he said. “I stand before you today announcing that I am now a candidate for the United States Senate.”

The gulf between Moran and Tiahrt isn’t especially wide ideologically, but Tiahrt’s profile as a hard-right culture warrior may work to the advantage of Kansas Democrats should he manage to defeat Moran. From CQ:

“Tiahrt running for seat is ironically helpful for Democrats,” said Burdett Loomis, a professor of political science at University of Kansas and longtime observer of state politics. “If Tiahrt gets the nomination, the Democratic nomination is really worth something to anyone who could track funding. Tiahrt is perceived as quite a social conservative, and he doesn’t have terrific recognition outside his district. Moran has a much broader identification around the state.”

Open seat fans should be aware that Tiahrt’s 4th CD has an old PVI of R+12.2 and only gave Obama 40% of the vote this time around — pretty tough sledding, even though the area has sent Democrats to the House in decades previous.

CQ identifies state Rep. Raj Goyle as the leading candidate for Kansas Democrats — assuming he wants the nomination. In the diaries earlier this week, kansasjackass gave us some more detail:

State Rep. Raj Goyle shocked the Kansas political establishment when he beat incumbent Republican State Rep. Bonnie Huy in 2006, and has since made a name for himself as an able and ambitious member of the state legislature.  As a testament to the quality of a candidate he is, in his reliably Republican district his original election in 2006 wasn’t that close (56%-44%) and his re-election in 2008 was a blow-out: He won 67% of the vote.

Sounds like a guy worth keeping an eye on.

NH-Sen: White House Confirms Gregg Speculation


The White House on Saturday confirmed the widespread speculation that President Obama is set to pick Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, as his nominee for commerce secretary.

“Senator Gregg is now the leading candidate for commerce and a pick that could come as early as Monday,” a senior administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has not yet been made.

If Gov. Lynch appoints a GOPer caretaker who won’t run in 2010, then I can live with this. Gregg must really want out of the Senate, huh.

UPDATE: I’ve heard some speculation that Lynch could pick former state Rep. Elizabeth Hager. Hager, a moderate (perhaps even liberal) pro-choice Republican, served thirteen terms in the NH state House until she was primaried out this past fall by a gang of four conservative candidates who campaigned against her together. She also endorsed Obama late in the game and Lynch (who went on to win 70-28). She’s also only 63.

More: Hager voted against a bill that would have prevented employers from subjecting employees to anti-union propaganda. One article says (not a direct quote from her) that Hager “would be delighted to stay for just two years.” Pretty vague paraphrase and doesn’t mean she’d commit to being a caretaker.

Will Steele keep Iowa first in 2012?

If Iowa’s representatives on the Republican National Committee had had their way, Michael Steele would not be the party’s new chairman.  

Iowa RNC Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Committeewoman Kim Lehman both supported South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson, who turned out to be Steele’s toughest rival in yesterday’s voting.  Don’t ask me why Republicans who presumably want to start winning elections again would want the party’s leader to be a southerner who was in an all-white country club when the GOP is looking more like a regional party than ever before and the Democratic president (who happens to be black) is wildly popular.  

Seriously, to hear Dawson explain the roots of his political views, it all started when he got mad that the government desegregated his school when he was 15. Just the guy to give the GOP a more tolerant, inclusive image!

But I digress.

Scheffler and Lehman didn’t quietly prefer a different candidate for RNC chair, they went on record criticizing Steele earlier this month:

Though the pro-life and pro-gun Steele built a conservative record in his home state, the former Maryland lieutenant governor’s one-time affiliation with the Republican Leadership Council, which religious conservatives view as hostile to their agenda, remains a deal breaker in some sectors of the committee.

“That is an organization that created itself for the purpose of eliminating a very important part of the Republican Party and its family values,” said Iowa Committeewoman Kim Lehman, who supports South Carolina Republican Party Chair Katon Dawson’s campaign. “Michael Steele crossed over a serious line.”

“In that field, the only one that would be my number six out of six choice would be Michael Steele,” said Iowa Committeeman Steve Scheffler, citing Steele’s “past deep involvement with the Republican Leadership Council.”

“They partnered with groups like Planned Parenthood,” said Scheffler, who joined Lehman in endorsing Dawson. “In my view, you don’t lend your name to a group if you don’t agree with them.”

Incidentally, Lehman has a history of intolerance toward Republicans who believe abortion should be legal even in limited circumstances such as rape or incest. The State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa censured her in December for failing to support Republican Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02).

Iowa’s third RNC member, newly elected state GOP chairman Matt Strawn, endorsed the incumbent RNC chair Mike Duncan earlier this week but apparently backed Dawson over Steele in the later ballots yesterday.

Steele’s election immediately sparked concern among some Iowa politicos that we may lose our first-in-the-nation status when the GOP selects its next presidential nominee. However, Strawn, Scheffler and Lehman had only praise for Steele in their official statements. Strawn said,

“I am excited to work with Chairman Steele to advance our principled agenda, rebuild our party from the grassroots up, and elect Republicans all across Iowa.  I am also encouraged by my conversations with Chairman Steele regarding Iowa’s First in the Nation presidential status. I will work closely with him to ensure Iowa retains its leading role for the 2012 caucus and beyond.”

Side note regarding the RNC leadership contest: I was surprised that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell turned out not to be a serious contender, despite lining up a long list of endorsements from conservative intellectuals.

With Steele and Blackwell back in the news this month, I’ve really missed Steve Gilliard. He used to write hilarious posts about them in 2006, culminating in the classic rant You Have Shamed Us.  

NH-Sen: Gregg Angling to Keep His Seat in GOP Hands?

Judd Gregg, who is currently under consideration for Commerce Secretary, is supposedly making it known that he’d want Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, to appoint a Republican to his seat should he get the gig. From the Hill:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) won’t accept a position as President Obama’s secretary of Commerce unless he is guaranteed his Senate seat remains in GOP hands, said two Republicans who know Gregg well.

Departing the Senate without one could give Democrats 60 members and a filibuster-proof majority.

“Gregg would never allow his seat to go to a Democrat, the only way he would allow it is if he died,” said a Republican close to Gregg. “He would consider it to be a breach of trust to people who elected it.”

As DavidNYC presciently argued yesterday, Lynch is just the type of Dem who would probably gladly acquiesce to such a demand. However, if Lynch tapped, say, Walter Peterson or Warren Rudman — both oldsters whom I would not expect to see run in 2010, then this wouldn’t be a bad deal.

AZ-Sen: Another Primary Challenge?

You’d think that two cycles of bad defeats would have Republican insiders thinking about how they might start heading toward relevance by trying to scramble back toward the political center they’ve written off (shown here, in the House context, in amazing visual fashion by Nate Silver). Instead, the maniacal orgy of own-eating continues.

Hot on the heels of news of a potential primary challenge to Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson by Rep. Paul Broun (for the crime of voting for the progressive agenda 4% of the time) comes news of behind-the-scene efforts to take out John McCain in 2010. National Review reports that some Arizona insiders, who’ve never tolerated McCain’s occasional mavericky play-acting, see an opening in the wake of McCain’s lackluster presidential run.

But now that he has lost the presidency, there are some Republicans in Arizona who would like to see him lose his Senate office, too. “I’ll do anything I can to support his Republican opponent, whoever that might be,” Rob Haney – who until last week was chairman of the Republican party in Arizona’s District 11 – told me recently. Haney has been a loud and vocal critic of McCain for years, arguing that McCain is “not a conservative in any way, shape, or form.”

Now, there are several caveats. Haney’s preferred candidate is loudmouthed ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth, bounced out of office in 2006 and currently working as a talk radio host. Hayworth claims to be “flattered,” but in his quotes in the article seems to be offering many excuses for why he might not run. Moreover, it’s not clear how much pull Haney has; he just lost his GOP chairmanship to a more moderate candidate. Nevertheless, it’s one more example of the GOP going back to what it does best: when finding yourself at the bottom of a deep hole, keep digging.

Progressive Punch Schocker and more

Last night I was checking out the Progressive Punch scores for the new GOP House members.  Much of it was expected and depressing.  Seven of the new GOPers had a Progressive Punch score of zero.  That’s right Pete Olson (TX-22), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Blaine Leurkemeyer (MO-9, winner by 8,000 votes), Duncan Hunter (CA-52, son of that Duncan Hunter), Gregg Harper (MS-3),Brett Guthrie (KY-2) and John Fleming (LA-4) all had yet to cast a single “progressive” vote.

Eight others were not far behind with seven at 3.23 (Glenn Thompson, Tom Rooney, Tom McClintock, Lynn Jenkins, Mike Coffman, Jason Chaffetz, and Steve Austria) and one at 3.33 (Bill Posey).  Jenkins is a disappointment here.

Four showed at least a hint of moderation:  Phil Roe of TN-1 (6.45), Christoher Lee of NY-26 (9.68), Joseph Cao of LA-2 (12.90) and the positive surprise wonderkid Aaron Schock of IL-18 (16.13).  Lee is an improvement over the man he replaced, Tom Reynolds.  He might be harder to displace than I hoped.

I started counting Republicans by the year they were elected from information I had collected but found that the Washington Post lists representatives by class (the year first elected).  The results mainly “agreed” but the Post disregards gaps in serevice.  Ciro Rodriguez, for example, is shown as 1997 not 2006.  Dan Lungren, who served ten years and then left the House for 14 years is shown as 1978.

The Post lists 36 classes (they don’t list the class of 2008.  Republicans win 10 of the 37 classes (we know how 2008 turned out); 2 classes are tied and Democrats win 25 of the 37 classes.  The largest Republican class is the class of 2002 with 24 Republicans (and 13 Democrats).  The largest Democratic class is the class of 2006 with 37 members.  The famous class of 1974 where Democrats picked up 49 seats is reduced to just four members, all Democrats.  The Newt “Contract ” class of 1994 has been beaten down to 23 members, 16 Republicans and 7 Democrats.  There are more Republican House members left from the class of 1992 (18) than from the “revolutionary” class of 1994.  The Revolution is over.

The Republican years are 1973, (1-0), 1978 (3-0 including Lungren), 1979 (1-0, Tom Petri IIRC), 1980 (5-1), 1989 (1-0), 1994 (16-7), 2000 (17-12),2001 (5-1), and 2002 (24-13) and 2005 (2-1).

The three House members with the most seniority are all midwestern Democrats: John Dingell (1955, I kid you not), John Conyers (1964) and David Obey (1969, I remember his surprise election as an anti-war candidate).  The two Republicans with the most seniority are both named Young (Bill was elected in 1970, Don in 1973).  The other Republicans from the 70s are either from Wisconsin (Sensenbrenner and Petri) or California (Lungren and Jerry Lewis).

A narrow majority of Republican House members came in with George W. Bush.  2004 was the electoral high point for Republicans since 1928 when Herbert Hoover was elected along with 270 House members.  Since the election of 1932, Republicans have had the Trifecta for six years and five months.  The first spell lasted from early 1953 to early 1955.  Eisenhower was pretty moderate and the Republican legislative edges were about as slim as possible with 221 House members and a 48-47-1 edge in the Senate.  With the stolen Presidential election of 200, Republicans regained the trifecta from January 20,2001 to Jun 6,2001.  Their edge was 211 House seats, a 50-50 Senate vote with Dick Cheney as the tie-breaker and that is what Cheney did.  By obnoxiously leaning on Jim Jeffords and sonstantly denigrating him and threatening milk supports for Vermont Vheney pushed Jeffords to caucus with the Democrats.  Way to break the tie, Dick.  From January 2003 through January 2007 the Republican glory years broke out.  Following the 2002 election Republicans had a modest 229 seats in the House and 51 in the Senate.  With the elction of 2004 it spread to 229 House seats and a 55-45 Senate edge.  Then came Katrina.  And Iraq’s death toll mounting.

Since then, it’s been our time.

IL-Sen: Dems Look Good… Even Burris

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (1/26-28, likely voters):

Roland Burris (D-inc): 37

Mark Kirk (R): 30

Roland Burris (D-inc): 38

Peter Roskam (R): 25

Jan Schakowsky (D): 36

Mark Kirk (R): 30

Jan Schakowsky (D): 37

Peter Roskam (R): 25

Alexi Giannoulias (D): 38

Mark Kirk (R): 30

Alexi Giannoulias (D): 38

Peter Roskam (R): 25

(MoE: ±4%)

Roland Burris (D-inc): 26

Jan Schakowsky (D): 12

Alexi Giannoulias (D): 11

Undecided: 51

Mark Kirk (R): 27

Peter Roskam (R): 17

Undecided: 56

(MoE: ±5%)

This poll ought to be a palliative for those people worried that the blowback from Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the Illinois Senate seat (and his subsequent impeachment), and Roland Burris’s enthusiasm to occupy said tainted seat, mean that the Republicans are in prime position to take over the seat in 2010. There are a lot of undecideds, obviously, but even up against the Illinois GOP’s top tier (Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam), Burris looks to be in the driver’s seat. Considering the terrible optics of accepting Blago’s appointment, Burris’s favorability isn’t that bad; his favorable/unfavorable is 35/35.

In the general, though, Burris fares really no better or worse than any of the other Democrats interested in mounting a primary challenge to him in 2010. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias put up very similar numbers, indicating that Illinoisians are retaining their Dem leanings and are capable of separating Blagojevich’s spate of increasingly appalling actions from the Democratic brand in general. Tellingly, both Kirk and Roskam have negative favorability (37/41 for Kirk and 19/23 for the little-known Roskam), suggesting that voters’ dislike for them may have a lot to do with the “R” after their names.

The Democratic primary also sees the voters in a wait-and-see mode. Burris, on the strength of a month’s worth of media saturation, has an edge. But at only 26%, it can’t be seen as a clear path to victory at this point, especially with Schakowsky probably being labor’s and EMILY’s List’s candidate, and Giannoulias bringing his own powerful connections with him.

Oh, Michael Barone…

Michael Barone used to be a respected political analyst once upon a time. As editor of the Almanac of American Politics and a ubiquitous presence inside the Beltway, his was a prime shaper of narratives. But over the last decade and a half, Barone’s sharp lurch to the right has slowly destroyed his credibility, as Mark Schmitt ably documents in this terrific takedown.

But DC being what it is, Barone still gets listened to – which means he’s still a worthy target of our derision. Thankfully, he makes the task very, very easy. Dave Weigel has helpfully dug up a true Barone gem from just four years ago – and I really do mean gem. Almost every sentence in the piece was either wrong when it was written or quickly became wrong soon after. To give you a sense, here’s the sentence Weigel pulled his quote from:

[T]he 2004 presidential election results tell us that Republicans are in even stronger shape than their 55-45 and 232-203 Senate and House margins suggest.

When you see a line like that, you just have to click the link because you know the whole piece is going to be awesome. And it is. The piece just gets better and better. The next graf:

Start with the Senate. George W. Bush carried 31 states that elect 62 senators. There are nine Republican senators from Kerry states and 16 Democratic senators from Bush states. Many of these are from states that were close in the presidential election. But there are 11 Democrats and only three Republicans from states where their presidential nominee got less than 47 percent of the vote. There are more Democrats with political incentives to vote with Bush than there are Republicans with incentives to vote against him.

Didn’t quite work out that way, did it?

As for the House, we now know which presidential candidate carried each of the 435 congressional districts, thanks to Polidata, which crunched the numbers for National Journal and the Almanac of American Politics (of which I am co-author). These numbers surprised even some political pros. Bush carried 255 districts and John Kerry only 180. In all, 41 Democrats represent Bush districts and 18 Republicans represent Kerry districts. Eliminating the districts where the House member’s presidential candidate won 47 percent or more, we find only five Republicans in strong Kerry districts but 30 Democrats in strong Bush districts.

What a disaster that turned out to be for Dems! But here’s the real money shot:

The implications? In the long run, Republicans are well positioned to increase their numbers in both the Senate and the House. Some Democrats hold seats because of personal popularity or moderate voting records. But when they retire, Republicans may well succeed them. In the short run, very few Republicans run great political risks by supporting Bush. Significantly more Democrats run great political risks by opposing him. Obstruction doesn’t work well for Democrats in Bush seats: Just ask former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. And at the moment, on Social Security, as Democrats Stan Greenberg and James Carville wrote last month, “Voters are looking for reform, change and new ideas, but Democrats seem stuck in concrete.”

I started to put various chortle-worthy parts of this paragraph in boldface but I had stop because the whole thing was becoming a mess of HTML tags. In any event, we should be quite glad that the Republicans listened to Barone and the Dems ignored Carville. (To show you how stupidly off-base the concern trolling was over Democrats’ “position” on Social Security in 2005, read this article and enjoy a laugh.)

Sadly, as I said at the outset, some people still take this bungler seriously. But fortunately, it’s fewer every year. And so I bring Barone’s column to you and the world as a public service – a reminder that if you aren’t busy tuning him out, at the very least, believe the opposite of whatever he says.

Senate Tidbits From AZ and FL (and IL)

1.) Former New Hampshire Republican Senator Bob Smith is weighing a comeback….in Florida?

2.) In Arizona, looks like John McCain’s problems with conservatives continues, but this time much closer to home, where they seem to be coalescing around former Congressman J.D. Hayworth.

3.) UPDATE: Latest numbers from Research 2000 for Daily Kos for IL-Sen are out. From the information gathered, it basically comes down to Roland Burris getting strong name recognition from his antics trying to get his seat and the other two names on the Democratic field not getting enough name recognition.

In addition, Burris still leads Mark “Tiberius” Kirk in latest polls. For now.

All thoughts and opinions welcomed.