Friday, December 7, 2007

Senate Recruitment Wrap-Up

Maybe "Wrap-Up" is a bit presumptuous, but less than one year out from the 2008 election, recruiting season is nearly over. Let's take a look at how Chuck Schumer and John Ensign fared in the campaign within the campaign:

Race Changers
Schumer pulled in a few recruits that drastically reshaped their respective races. How big are these recruitments? Take Mark Warner, Jeanne Shaheen, or Tom Udall out of their races, and the Republicans would be feeling pretty good about their chances to reelect Sununu and hold Warner and Domenici's open seats. Instead, the Big 3 (move over Boston Celtics) have 22%, 9%, and 15% leads in their respective races, according to SurveyUSA polls from last month. These three races are prime examples of how candidate recruitment by itself can win races.

Race-changing recruitments on the Republican side? None.

Stunning Failures
Schumer did come up empty in a couple of big races. Bob Kerrey's departure from the Nebraska race (if he was ever really in it) and today's news that both State Auditor Crit Luallen and Attorney General Greg Stumbo will take a pass on a challenge to Mitch McConnell, virtually eliminate our chances at either of those seats.

The only Republican "failure" of this magnitude is Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota. I put failure in quotes, because his entry was never all that likely given Tim Johnson's health issues.

Solid Recruitments
Each party has some recruitments that give them a good chance at win, without putting the seat in the bank. For the Democrats, these include Tom Allen in Maine; Al Franken and Mike Ciresi in Minnesota; Mark Udall in Colorado; and Jeff Merkley in Oregon. For the Republicans, John Kennedy in Louisiana is the only really viable candidate they've got anywhere.

Credible Candidates
Other candidates are not now viable contenders, but will run credible campaigns and could win under the right circumstances. On our side, that group includes Larry LaRocco in Idaho, Rick Noriega in Texas, Andrew Rice in Texas (my favorite candidate in any race), Greg Orman in Kansas, Vivian Figures in Alabama, and Kay Hagan and Jim Neal in North Carolina.

Republicans in that group include: Joel Dykstra in South Dakota (ok. that's a bit of a stretch),

Possible Developments
There are yet a few opportunities for Schumer and Ensign to make a splash with a big recruitment. Either Mike Moore (ex-AG) and Ronnie Musgrove (ex-Gov) could each give Trent Lott's replacement (whoever that will be) a good race. Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (son of former Rep. Nick Begich) is our last best hope to put a real scare into Ted Stevens, who is very beatable.

For the Republicans, Steve King seems to be encouraging the rumors that he might take on Tom Harkin. That would give Harkin a chance to knock off a fifth sitting Congressman, extending his own record. Still, King would make Harkin work for it. The only other real possibility is Chuck Banks ('06 Lt. Gov. nominee and ex-US Attorney) in Arkansas.

Finally, there remain a few races in which the incumbent is completely unopposed by the other major party. They are: Barrasso and Enzi in Wyoming, Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Jay Rockefeller in West Virginia,


maloney said...

re: Oregon/Merkley

Would you please edit the post to reflect the fact that we in Oregon still are more than 5 months away from our Democratic Primary?

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Jeff Merkley hasn't won it already and is, in fact, facing a tough opponent by the name of Steve Novick. Schumer's recruitment of Merkley is also turning out to be a bit of a bother for the campaign, since it rubs many of us the wrong way to have the DSCC trying to handpick our candidates.

A poll, done for Roll Call, shows that the Primary election may be very close and it's much too early to choose a winner.

The poll, in a nutshell, shows that both candidates have Smith under 50% but that Steve Novick actually holds Gordon Smith to a tighter margin. The numbers show that it would be 45 to 39 for Novick ( a 6 point margin with 16% undecided) versus 48 - 39 for Merkley (a 9 point margin with 13% undecided). At the very worst, Novick is polling at least as well as Merkley against Smith and may actually be doing better.

Novick has been getting some great press, and not just in the (more liberal) Willamette Valley. He's also gotten good media attention in more conservative Eastern Oregon. I think his appeal is wider than Jeff Merkley's. Merkley has the Party establishment, largely, behind him, but he doesn't have the nomination.

Thom said...

I was surprised to see Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the "Solid Recruitment" category. Despite early help and cash from the DSCC, the Merkley bus tour has hit a few bumps in the road.

From the embarrassing (Merkley voted against robo-calls but started his campaign with them) to the silly (The DSCC hired an Arkansas PR firm for Merkley's kick-off and they astutely rented him an RV from Washington state)...

Not to mention the more troubling issues of Merkley's less than candid characterizations of an Iraq war floor speech and swiftboat style attacks from in the state capital, Merkley is hardly a done deal.

Joaquin said...

Interesting insight. However, unless you know the owner of this blog, which you very well might, but forgive me if it appears that you are volunteers for Mr. Novick and have a google alert or something of the sort set for Merkley, thus explaining why two well-informed followers of local Oregon politics would be showing up on a blog largely about Arizona politics.

That being said, I know nothing about the race and have no reason to doubt your analysis.

In any event, I wish you and Mr. Novick the best of luck; not to be rude but as a matter of friendly advice, I suggest you go hit the streets and tell the voters of Oregon what you've shared with us.

Happy canvassing!

Thom said...

Hi Joaquin. No, you're not being "rude," but you kind of missed my point. I've never been to this blog before, but yes, thanks to the miracle of Google, here i am.

You're not the first commenter to tell bloggers to "hit the streets." As a general comment, it's a cool slogan. When you're advising individuals though, maybe you could ask them what else they're doing in the way of activism.

And does everybody have to "hit the streets"? What about the volunteer who's a gifted baker and brings cookies to the office every day and makes pies for the campaign raffle. Are you going to tell him, "hit the streets"?

Each according to their ability, Joaquin...

Espo said...


No offense, but since no one who reads this blog is a registered voter in Oregon I don't know if your energies are being well spent. Mr. Novick clearly deserves to have his opinions heard by the people of Oregon, but this venue won't help achieve that goal.

Alton Brooks Parker said...

I certainly recognize that Jeff Merkley is not yet, nor is he ordained to be, the Democratic nominee in Oregon. In fact, since it's 2007, that holds true for every candidate I mentioned. However, the post was about the recruiting period and as you point out Steve Novick was not recruited by the DSCC. I considering including Novick, since he does appear to be a strong candidate, but he was clearly not a DSCC recruit. Mentioning Jeff Merkley and not Steve Novick in a post about DSCC recruitments is in no way "choosing a winner". Indeed, as a registered voter in Arizona who takes no part in Democratic primaries in Oregon, I will have no role whatsoever in choosing a winner.

I'm glad that your candidate appears to be doing well in the primary. From my distant perspective, both candidates seemed flawed for this kind of a race. Merkley certainly has the resume, but as you note, is certainly not a great campaigner. Novick, on the other hand, appears to have all of the characteristics of a great candidate, but lacks the credibility that comes along with holding elected office. For Merkley to win the primary, he will have to become a better candidate. If Novick wins, he will instantly become more credible as he will have defeated the Speaker of the House.

Regardless, I second Joaquin's remarks that your efforts would be far more effective canvassing (or volunteering in some other way) for your candidate. And by the way, peace marches do not qualify as canvassing. That kind of activism can be fun and is good for visibility, but talking directly to voters is always the most effective activity. Except for a few people who are needed for office work, an efficient campaign will always prefer that a new volunteer get on the phones or hit the streets.

clark said...

Behold the wonders of the INTERNETS! I really enjoyed reading this set of posts. HA HA!