Fundraising for Senate incumbents up in 2012

Fundraising in the cycle before an election can give us signs of who is thinking about retirement or who is planning for a tough re-election. Looking through 2009-2010 FEC reports for 2012 Senate candidates contains some surprises about incumbents assumed to be likely 2012 retirements, such as Dianne Feinstein and Ben Nelson. Below you can find the fundraising, cash on hand, and debt of every incumbent senator up for re-election in 2012, with the exception of Kirsten Gillibrand, who first has to win a 2010 election and West Virginia, where we do not know who the incumbent will be.

I will arrange it by the amount (least to greatest) that the Senator has raised this cycle:

Senator- Raised this cycle- Cash on Hand- Debt

(D-HI)Daniel Akaka- $19,000- $78,050- $0

(R-TX)Kay Bailey Hutchison- $77,788- $50,628- $0

(I-CT)Joe Lieberman- $81,721- $1,261,561- $0

(D-NM)Jeff Binjaman- $147,146- $366,018- $0

(D-WI)Herb Kohl*- $198,207- $15,549- $0

(I-VT)Bernie Sanders- $259,622- $141,661- $0

(R-WY)John Barrasso- $384,215- $554,739- $0

(R-ME)Olympia Snowe- $407,009- $1,085,714- $0

(R-NV)John Ensign- $444,161- $961,247- $0

(R-IN)Dick Lugar- $464,852- $2,350,060- $0

(R-AZ)Jon Kyl- $562,490- $600,327- $0

(D-MD)Ben Cardin- $613,752- $379,594- $0

(D-ND)Kent Conrad- $616,187- $1,905,346- $0

(D-VA)Jim Webb- $688,356- $509,959- $0

(D-DE)Tom Carper- $734,118- $935,791- $0

(D-MT)Jon Tester- $844,975- $500,768- $0

(D-RI)Sheldon Whitehouse- $855,136- $589,527- $0

(R-MS)Roger Wicker- $919,844- $401,796- $0

(D-MO)Claire McCaskill- $1,087,857- $793,586- $0

(D-WA)Maria Cantwell*- $1,111,117- $316,029- $2,180,161

(D-NE)Ben Nelson- $1,218,005- $1,180,852- $0

(R-UT)Orrin Hatch- $1,286,657- $2,300,247- $0

(D-MN)Amy Klobuchar- $1,351,502- $1,307,076- $0

(D-PA)Bob Casey- $1,379,122- $876,815- $0

(R-TN)Bob Corker- $1,406,025- $$796,477- $0

(D-CA)Dianne Feinstein- $1,492,719- $3,641,409- $0

(D-OH)Sherrod Brown- $1,695,542- $1,442,660- $0

(D-FL)Bill Nelson- $1,736,308- $2,712,340- $0

(D-MI)Debbie Stabenow- $1,880,157- $$1,407,087- $8,303

(D-NJ)Bob Menendez- $2,207,492- $2,036,673- $0

(R-MA)Scott Brown- $17,005,388- $6,034,498- $158,513

*Ability and willingness to self-fund

Scott Brown raised a huge amount of money in the run up to the MA special election, so much that he couldn’t spend it all. He had about 5 million left over immediately after the election, and has added an addition million to his campaign account since then. He heads into 2011 with the largest bank account of any senator up for re-election in 2012, other than Gillibrand, who has an election this year.

Incumbents Ben Nelson, Dianne Feinstein, Orrin Hatch, Tom Carper, and Olympia Snowe, all retirement possibilities in 2012, have raised decent amounts of money for their campaigns so far. Senators Daniel Akaka, Jeff Binjaman, Joe Lieberman, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, all retirement possibilities, are not raising much money. Hutchison has already announced her retirement, but she also announced her resignation two years ago. Dick Lugar and John Ensign, both considered very likely retirements, are still raising money. Herb Kohl is also considered a potential retirement in 2012, but it is difficult to tell from his fundraising reports, since he self-funds all of his bids.  

Senate Cattle Call (April 2010)

It’s time we got back in the habit of doing community cattle calls – we haven’t done one for the Senate in a year. Click that link to see how much things have changed since then.

In case you haven’t done one of these before, rank the senate seats that are up this year in order of likelihood of flipping from one party to the other. The traditional SSP way is to include seats held by both parties in a single list (separate lists make comparisons harder). Go as far down the list as you like. If you need some food for thought, check out Swing State’s senate race ratings. Have fun!

Bush “Foot Soldiers” Senate Problems

Most political analysts agree on the following points:

– Democrats will retain control of the Senate and increase their margins.

– Republicans will forfeit seats to Democrats and concentrate on a handful (5 seats at most).

Therefore, let’s look at the developments so far:

– Republicans have already forfeited two seats to the Democrats: Virginia and New Mexico.

– Expect Colorado, a state where Obama is making strides, to be the next seat forfeited.

– Following the likely verdict of GUILTY, expect the NRSC to abandon “Uncle Ted” in Alaska.

For their part, the DSCC has also abandoned a few races, including NE, KS, and OK.  All are states which McCain should win easily.  

Expect Susan Collins in Maine to get the first pass by the DSCC.  Sure, Maine is an inexpensive market, containing only Portland and Bangor media outlets for the most part, yet Democrats will find themselves with NEW openings.

Here is a breakdown of FORFEITED races as a result:

Republicans: VA, NM, CO, and AK.

Democrats: NE, KS, OK, and ME.

While most polls indicate he is behind, expect the DSCC to spend in protecting the “Santorum” of this cycle: John Sununu.  While New Hampshire could go either way (Obama or McCain), expect voters to DUMP Sununu.

The next best hopes for Democrats are Oregon and North Carolina.  Both Republicans have been placed on the defensive.

In North Carolina, Dole wished that the election would have been based on illegal immigration, yet she should have learned that this was a flawed Republican strategy from 2006.  Now that the economy has taken center stage, Dole finds herself on the Outer Banks of the issue, literally.  Dole is also hurt by the fact that Obama is making NC competitive, African-Americans are energized, and Northeastern transplants are favoring Obama over McCain.  Bye bye Libby.  Expect Reagans former Labor Secretary and another Bush “foot soldier” to be packing it up back to the Watergate, Kansas, or from wherever she calls home.

In Oregon, businessman Smith is being forced to ask questions whether or not he employed illegal immigrants.  The answer is really irrelevant at this point since everyone knows that Smith was another “Yes Sir” to Bush.  While some call Oregon competitive, most see it as favoring Democrats.  At least Smith has a job waiting for him back home.

The final three races are Minnesota, Mississippi, and Kentucky (yes Mitch my MAN you are now in TROUBLE).  

While Minnesota should have clearly favored the Democrats, Franken has proven to be a flawed candidate.  Coleman is extremely unpopular and Barkley is taking votes from both (more from Franken than Coleman).  The race should be interesting, yet the DSCC should not have been forced to spend in a state which Obama should win soundly.

Mississippi is Republican on the federal level, yet clearly Democratic on the state and local level.  This gives Musgrove a chance.  Expect the race to become more competitive in the final two weeks.  Either could prevail.

Kentucky, the final straw, shares the same characteristics as Mississippi.  Republican on the federal level, yet Democratic on the state level.  Bush’s “Red Horse” may find himself scrambling for votes in the Blue Grass State.  While Mitch does have a strong cash advantage, Kentucky has some inexpensive media outlets.  Louisville and Cincinnati are the most expensive.  Bowling Green, Owensboro, Ashland, and Pikeville are less expensive.  Just like the Bunning race, which developed late, and ended fairly close, expect the same here.  My man Mitch and his wife, the failed Labor Secretary, are indeed entrenched with Bush.

A final state, which Democrats may make an attempt for, is Georgia. However, Atlanta is a very expensive market for advertising.  If Democrats feel that they have 2 of the 3 races above locked up, then expect a late minute dash against Chambliss.

For their part, Republicans are looking at three Democratic incumbents:

– Johnson in South Dakota (An absolute waste of valueable funds.  Republicans have essentially given him a pass, yet could always return.  Expect them to stay away).

– Lautenberg in New Jersey (There is no doubt the Lautenberg is a flawed incumbent and Corzine is extremely unpopular.  However, New Jersey is extremely expensive, Philadelphia and New York are the two major media markets.  Atlantic City being the sole remaining market.  Lautenberg’s base has always been in Northern New Jersey.  He is less favored in South Jersey.  Central New Jersey, which favored Lautenberg in the primary, will decisively determine him as the victor in a closer than expected race).

– Landrieu in Louisiana (This is essentially the most vulnerable Democrat, yet vulnerable with a small V.  Even with the exodus of African-Americans from New Orleans, Landrieu has proven effective in constituent services.  Republicans will advertise against her, yet at the cost of another Republican incumbent – Coleman, Smith, Dole, or Wicker).

In the end, expect all three Democratic incumbents to WIN.  

Expect Democrats to pick up VA, NM, CO, AK, NH, NC, and OR.  

Also expect, KY, MN, or MS to possibly fall.

GA will be the long shot in the end.    

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.

SSP hitting it big

I just noticed this small item from Roll Call this past week, and thought it was worth posting.

Blogs Gaining Credibility at Senate Committees

June 13, 2008, 4:27 p.m.

When Charles Schumer (D) was elected to the New York State Assembly in the mid-1970s, some of his older colleagues were still getting used to the television technology, the Senator joked at a recent meeting with Roll Call reporters and editors. Now, the Empire State’s senior Senator counts blogs as part of his daily information appetite.

Schumer’s aides at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee include a number of blogs in his daily packet of media clippings, which also include relevant stories from the day’s newspapers and television shows. But the DSCC chairman is also known to read them on his own.

Items from the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, America Blog, Talking Points Memo, Swing State Project and Senate Guru are usually included, as well as state-specific blogs in 2008 Senate battlegrounds.

Blogs are also getting more attention at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

GOP aides scan national blogs such as Red State, Townhall and Hot Air for information, as well as state-specific blogs, such as the Dead Pelican (Louisiana), Minnesota Democrats Exposed and the Politicker Web sites in states with Senate races.

Just a couple of election cycles ago, including blogs alongside newspaper and television clippings would have been unthinkable, but this is just one example of how the flow of information is changing and affecting political campaigns.

– Nathan L. Gonzales…

If Chuck Schumer reads the site, I think it speaks well to SSP’s quality.  

The Democratic Party’s Secret Weapon

(Cross-Posted at Senate Guru)

All of us here are optimistic about our prospects in a Democratic year, yet we have repeatedly voiced concern about the precarious nature of some of this year's down-ballot races.  In a Democratic year, why are Oregon and Maine such long-shots?  Why is the picture so unclear in Colorado?  And, more importantly, what can be done to fight the prospect of more Republican victories down-ballot?  Well, I've got an idea, and I know that a handful of others in the blogosphere agree.  I hope it echoes across the Internet and reaches the ears of the top campaign strategists for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (I'm hoping for Obama as the nominee)– pick Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer as the VP candidate, and the prospects of Democratic victories brighten all across the country.  Whenever I mention Schweitzer's name, people inevitably respond, “But Montana only has three electoral votes!”  By focusing on electoral math alone, they miss the point; if all we think about is electoral math, we are doomed to a future of precarious, one-vote majorities– nowhere near strong enough to pass progressive legislation and undo the damage of the Bush administration, which will take years.

With that in mind, I say the national ticket needs not one, but two galvanizers who can make campaign stops that whip up the crowds and help the down-ballot candidates.  On that count, Brian Schweitzer is our party's secret weapon.  He is a fantastic orator– second only to Obama himself in the party– and has a proven ability to resonate with Republican and independent voters. He can definitely help us pick up some Rocky Mountain states– with him on the ticket, Colorado is ours, and the coattails of an Obama/Schweitzer ticket would undoubtedly pull Mark Udall over the finish line– and we could pick off Nevada and New Mexico as well.  Oregon would become more solidly blue (improving the chances of Merkley or Novick,) as would Washington State (solidifying Gov. Gregoire's re-election chances).  Furthermore, while I doubt we would win Arizona, we would at least force John McCain to fight us on his home turf, which would cost him time and resources, and give the national GOP a headache (ahh, schadenfreude!)  

“But wait!” you say, “What about those rust-belt states that we need to win?  Hell, what about New Hampshire and Maine?”  To which I say, the aforementioned independent and Republican voters to whom Schweitzer has appealed have been rural and/or working-class citizens who don't want their jobs to be outsourced, are worried about the economy in the wake of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and disapprove of the way the war is going, but who want to keep their hunting rifles.  You think there aren't voters like that in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania?  Of course there are!  Those are the very voters who swing those states, and Schweitzer is exactly the candidate to persuade them to vote Democratic!  

As for New Hampshire and Maine, Schweitzer's fiercely independent, non-dogmatic persona will resonate quite well with the numerous independent voters who might otherwise consider McCain.  The libertarian streak that runs through the Mountain West is not all that different from good old-fashioned Yankee independence.  Furthermore, Schweitzer took a bold early stand against the Real ID act.  Make some campaign stops with Tom Allen and use that issue as the centerpiece and . . . who knows?  We might just be able to unseat Susan Collins.

For those who don't know much about Schweitzer and might worry that he's some sort of DINO, relax– he is pro-choice, pro-civil union, and VERY pro-environment.  In fact, he has successfully re-framed the environment issue as “conservationism,” not “environmentalism,” and it has worked– people who hunt, fish, and participate in other outdoor activities want to preserve the natural environment in which to do so. Under Schweitzer's stewardship, Montana has been at the forefront of wind energy.

So, if you agree with me on this, I exhort you to spread the word, write blog posts, and even e-mail the Clinton and Obama campaigns.  I figure that, with a concerted effort, we can at least familiarize more people with his name.  Hey, it can't hurt, right?