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:
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.
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.
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.
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),
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,