Sen. Corruption Files for Reelection

February 25th, 2008

Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the most corrupt politicians in Washington (and that’s saying something), has filed for reelection.  Stevens, whose retirement would all but ensure that the GOP would hold the seat, instead decided to let his lion-sized ego get in the way of prudent politics.  Stevens is the target of a federal invesitgation and is running on a platform of not commenting on things because his lawyers said it would get him into trouble.

Stevens faces two challengers so far with more considering bids.  Dave Cuddy is the most notable opponent.  He’s a former state Rep. who can self-finance his bid.  Other potential candidates include former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and state House Speaker John Harris.  Should conservatives coalasce behind a single challenger, Stevens’ days are likely numbered.  If not, though, Stevens is more than likely to squeeze through the primary with a plurality of the vote.  If that happens, the federal investigation will loom large, and Republicans will constantly have to worry of a break in the investigation.

Wilson Lies About Pro-Life Position in Debate

February 21st, 2008

In her first debate with Rep. Steve Pearce earlier this week, Rep. Heather Wilson took the opportunity to lie to Republican voters about her record.  “I am pro-life and pro-marriage…” said Wilson, apparently unaware that her record could be tracked.  Most recently, Wilson voted against an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Pence that would have stripped $300 million in funding for Planned Parenthood from Title X legislation.  She has also voted for federal funding of unethical and unnecessary embryonic stem-cell research, in favor of a hostile substitute to the Brownback-Landrieu cloning ban, and against defunding UNFPA.  Rep. Pearce has a pro-life record on all of those issues.

Wilson also attempted to pain herself as a common sense conservative.  Apparently for her common sense means continuing the same fiscal policies that cost us so dearly in 2006.  Wilson earned a 10% rating from the Club for Growth, rather embarassing when compared to Pearce’s 82%.  It’s little wonder that the Club is backing Pearce.

Heather Wilson has the record of a liberal Republican.  To be sure, I’d be happy to hear her change her tune on these issues, but it would take a mea culpa for her to earn any conservative support, not simply a misrepresentation of her record.  New Mexican Republicans have a clear choice between part of the problem and part of the solution.  If you want to be part of the solution, you can help Steve Pearce to get the truth out about Heather Wilson by making a contribution here.

Smith Enjoys Double Digit Lead

February 20th, 2008

Sen. Gordon Smith, who is third on the list of incumbents currently being targeted by Democrats, continues to enjoy wide leads against both of his possible opponents.  Steve Novick, who entered the race last April and was generally viewed as too weak by the Democrat establishment, hence their failed search for a top-tier candidate, trails Smith by a 48-35% margin.  Jeff Merkley, who was well down on the DSCC’s list of preferred candidates but whom the organization viewed as a stronger candidate, trails by nearly 20 points, 48-30.

Democrats can take heart in the fact that Smith’s name i.d. is much higher than that of his opponents.   More importantly, though, Smith’s favorable/unfavorable numbers are 57/38, a tough nut to crack for two underfunded opponents.  At the end of 2007, Smith had $4.4 million in the bank and $1.5 million in debt, a net of $2.9 million.  Novick had less than $300,000 and Merkley had just over half a million dollars.  With polling numbers like these, especially with Novick having been in the race for over a year and failed to gain any traction, it is difficult to see either candidate convincing donors that this could really become a race.

Smith is popular for a reason.  While he sometimes raises the ire of conservatives, he represents his state well.  With the March 11 filing deadline looming, it appears as though he has successfully evaded a primary challenge while his opponents will have to continue spending money to defeat each other until May 20.  Even after that, they will have to deal with a challenge from the left in the candidacy of John Frohnmayer.  Frohnmayer is likely to garner about 4-6% of the vote, a serious, perhaps fatal blow to the chances of either Democrat.  This race isn’t over yet, but it certainly looks a lot better for Smith than many ambitious Democrats had hoped.

Shows Drops Senate Bid

February 19th, 2008

Realizing that he had no hope of defeating America’s newest Senator, Roger Wicker, former Rep. Ronnie Shows abandoned his Senate bid, saying that he just couldn’t compete.  Shows endorsed former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in his uphill battle for the seat.  Musgrove, of course, lost his last statewide bid when he ran for reelection, garnering less than 46% of the vote against now-Governor Haley Barbour.

Shows’s decision is, to be sure, a boost for the Musgrove campaign.  It ensures that the Senate election will be decided on the same day as the Presidential election.  Although that will boost turnout throughout the state, it will disproportionately effect black turnout if Barack Obama is the nominee.  Wicker would still be favored, but his life would be more difficult.  If, however, Sen. Clinton somehow manages to turn the tables and win the Democrat nomination, then Senator Wicker will maintain his title for at least the next seven years, and probably for as long as he wants it.

KS Dem Drops Bid

February 18th, 2008

Democrats hoping to give Sen. Pat Roberts a scare in his bid for reelection suffered a crushing blow on Friday when businessman Greg Orman abandoned his bid, realizeing that the hill was just too steep.  The decision leaves Democrats with a single candidate, Lee Jones, who was blown away by Sen. Sam Brownback in 2004.  Earlier in the cycle, Democrats had a little hope of getting Gov. Sebelius to run, but that was a non-starter.  Even Democrat state Chairman Larry Gates is all but saying that the race is over.

Orman’s decision is more important for 2014 than for 2008.  It was extremely doubtful that he could have pulled off the upset, but he could have forced Sen. Roberts to unload some of his cash.  Now Roberts can both stockpile for his next race and contribute to other Republican candidates without having to worry about spending big bucks on his own reelection campaign.  Democrats have whiffed, and they know it.

Senate Votes Against National Defense

February 14th, 2008

On Wednesday, fifty-one Senators voted to weaken American intelligence gathering and increase the risk of future terrorist attacks.  Forty-seven Democrats, including Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, determined that the comfort of terrorists is more important than the lives of American citizens.  Waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques were prohibited by the legislation.  Fortunately, the President does have backbone on the issue and plans to veto the legislation.

This issue should be a top priority for the rest of the campaign and used as a means to illustrate that Democrats are not serious about national security.  Said Sen. Leahy, “Retaliation is the way of the world.  What we do to others, they will do to us - but worse.”  Sen. Leahy has obviously forgotten that just seven years ago, the enemy used planes as weapons and killed thousands of civilians, men, women and children who were thousands of miles away from any battle field.  Since then, the enemy has beheaded people on television and strapped bombs to the mentally handicapped.  How, exactly, Sen. Leahy, will waterboarding generate worse action than that?

Mary Landrieu in particular must be held accountable for voting against her constituents.  Senators like Schumer and Boxer at least represented the views of their constituents.  Louisianans, on the other hand, understand the importance of employing whatever means are necessary to defend Americans.  Landrieu should not be able to attend a single event between now and November without having to answer for this vote.

Democrats Concede Kentucky

February 12th, 2008

Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, the Democrats’ last hope to take down Sen. McConnell after they failed to recruit their bigger names, has shocked his Party by dropping out of the race, leaving the Democrats with unknown health care executive Bruce Lunsford.  The liberal blogosphere went out of its way to recruit Horne, hoping to exact revenge for Tom Daschle’s 2004 defeat.  After a strong draft effort, Horne finally agreed to run.  Now, his withdrawl leaves the Democrats without even a third-tier candidate to face off against the Minority Leader.  Those hoping to exact revenge for Tom Daschle’s defeat will be sorely disappointed.

For his part, McConnell had over $7.3 million on hand as of the end of 2007.  He flexed some of that muscle very early, hitting the airwaves to boost his numbers and showing potential challengers just how steep a hill they would have to climb.  His effective strategy forced potential challengers aside and has ended his reelection fight early.  Other incumbents in future years would do well to stockpile, as McConnell did, and deter viable challengers.  Now, not only is his 2008 reelection in the bag in February, but if he spends his money wisely he will have a multi-million dollar head start in his next reelection bid.

MSSC Sides With Barbour, Special Election Set for November

February 11th, 2008

During my absence, the big story was that the Mississippi Supreme Court sided with Gov. Haley Barbour in his decision to schedule the special election to fill the rest of former Sen. Trent Lott’s term in November on the same day as the Presidential election.  Conventional wisdom says that this favors Wicker.  In this case, though, things are more complicated than conventional wisdom.

In cases like this, Mississippi follows the Louisiana model of a jungle election in which all candidates initially run against each other.  If a candidate secures a majority, he wins.  If no candidate wins a majority of votes, the top two candidates face off in a run-off election a few weeks later.

Obama’s likely Presidential nomination will probably boost black turnout substantially, likely high enough to prevent Sen. Wicker from winning outright on Nov. 5.  Here’s where things get tricky.  If Obama wins the White House, Mississippians are likely to seek to restrain his liberalism by electing a Republican.  Advantage Sen. Wicker.  If McCain wins, though, the motivation to restrain a liberal administration might not be there.  Whether the effects of complacency would be canceled out by Republican optimism would be anybody’s guess.

The long and short of this is that it would probably be best for each candidate if the other party’s Presidential nominee wins the White House.  Of course no candidate would publicly admit that, but they would be fools not to entertain such a notion.  Perhaps the real laugher in all of this is that the Democrats may blow their best chance at winning this by not having a single Democrat on the ballot and thus fumbling the advantage of increased black turnout that an Obama candidacy would offer.  Here’s hoping the egos of the Ronnie Shows and Ronnie Musgrove cost their Party a Senate seat.

Happy New Year

February 4th, 2008

I will return next week after the Chinese New Year.  Somehow I think there might be a bit of non-Senate related political news that will keep you entertained for the next week.

Merkley to Skirt Rules, Thinks Gov’t is for Lobbyists

January 31st, 2008

Apparently confusing Oregon for New Jersey, Democrat House Speaker Jeff Merkley has decided that the rules don’t apply to him.  Oregon House members are prohibited from soliciting and accepting contributions during legislative sessions, including the one held in February.  Merkley, though, has decided that it would just be too difficult for him to obey the rules and has obtained a ruling from the Legislature’s legal office that says it wouldn’t apply to his federal campaign.

For his part, Merkley has said that “he won’t take campaign money for his US Senate race from lobbyists and others with an interest in legislation while he presides over the Oregon House during the February session that starts Monday.”  Perhaps Oregon is unique, but in most other states the business of the legislature is the business of the people, meaning that Merkley would only be accepting contributions from outside of Oregon.  I sincerely doubt that that’s what he meant.  Apparently Merkley thinks strictly in terms of those who stand to benefit from government contracts or loopholes as opposed to the people who, unlike Merkley, have to play by the rules that are set by the legislature.  The hubris expressed in Merkley’s statement speaks volumes about his view of government and is a case in point of why people no longer have faith in the government.  Merkley apparently believes in government of the government contractors, by the contributors, and for the lobbyists.

Merkley’s decision suggests that he would fit in quite nicely with the likes of Alan Mollohan and William Jefferson.  Steve Novick, his main opponent in the primary, summed it up nicely when he said, “He is using a technicality to say that the rule doesn’t apply to him.  That’s exactly the kind of thing that makes people cynical about politics.”  Those considering supporting Merkley should be under no illusions about his priorities.  He made clear in his statement that government is the business of lobbyists and special interests, not the working men and women of Oregon.  If he is that far detached from them in Salem, just imagine what would happen if he went to Washington.