Repugs Bailing From Mid-Terms

Bloody Monday: Yesterday saw the ongoing exits of Republican candidates and potential candidates from major mid-term election contests.

In West Virginia, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R) announced she would seek re-election next year instead of challenging US Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D), despite White House attempts to recruit Capito into the race.

In Maine, RNC member and former State Rep. Peter Cianchette — the 2002 GOP nominee for governor and viewed as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2006 — unexpectedly abandoned his previously announced candidacy against Gov. John Baldacci (D) for “personal reasons.”

In North Dakota, the weekend decision by Gov. John Hoeven (R) not to challenge US Sen. Kent Conrad (D) next year caused just about every top Repug in the state — including former Gov. Ed Schafer, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, State PSC Chair Tony Clark, Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, State House Majority Leader Rick Berg, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Stenehjem and US Attorney Drew Wrigley — to all announce they would also not run against Conrad.

Crystal Ball: Dems Could Take Senate in 2006

Larry J. Sabato’ s Crystal Ball:

How could Democrats do it? First, they must hold all of their open seats (MD, MN, and possibly NJ). None of the three is an absolute slam-dunk for the Democrats, but Maryland and New Jersey are likely Democratic in the end. Minnesota’s situation is unclear, given the lack of a solid Democratic frontrunner, and Congressman Mark Kennedy has a fair-to-good chance to steal this seat from the Democrats. Yet if there is a national breeze blowing for the Democrats in November 2006, it will probably be felt in Democratic-leaning Minnesota.

Second, the Democrats must keep all endangered incumbents in the winners’ circle: Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and the “Nelson Twins” (Bill of Florida and Ben of Nebraska–not Matthew and Gunnar). Conrad will be the most endangered if Governor John Hoeven (R) decides to challenge him. The other Democratic senators in this category are at least slight favorites to win another term currently.


OH-Sen: Hackett to Take on DeWine

War vet: With Coin-gate and the myriad scandals generated from it, the Ohio Republican Party is in complete disarray. (Gop Gov. Taft’s approval is at 15 percent!) And two-termer Mike DeWine is considered to be one of the most vulnerable senators running for reelection next year. Paul Hackett could be the candidate to do it:

Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran from Cincinnati who was hailed by national Democrats for his narrow loss this summer in a heavily Republican House district, has decided to challenge Mike DeWine for U.S. Senate in 2006.

Com’n, Mikey, just throw in the towel!!

Liddy Dole Is Whiffing on Senate Recruitment

Invitations declined : In her role as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) is getting less than stellar results in both her main tasks: Raising money for GOP senatorial candidates and recruiting Republican candidates out in the states.

Maybe it’s the national mood. Or perhaps Dole is completely clueless. Or both.

The Senate Democrats, headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, are well ahead of Dole and her group in fundraising, and there has been a string of lost recruitment opportunities on the Republican side. Most recently, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-VW)
opted out of running against Sen. Robert Byrd, the venerable West Virginia Democrat:

Capito’s decision comes on the heels of North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven’s decision to pass on a race against Dem Kent Conrad. Vermont’s Republican Governor Jim Douglas refused to take on Bernie Sanders. And so on. In fact, the NRSC’s only high-profile challenger is one they wish would go away — Florida’s Katherine Harris. (The GOP has a strong candidate in the open Minnesota seat.)

Maybe it’s the national mood — we’re seeing strong Democratic challengers arise in the House as well as Democrats sense a change in fortune. Or perhaps Dole is completely clueless. Or both. But in any case, we can rest assured that in the early going, our Chuck Schumer has beat the crap out of Dole — in both money and candidate recruitment.

PA07: Dem Iraq War Vet to Take on Rep. Curt Weldon

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) is a particularly odious Republican, so it is heartening to learn that Bryan Lentz, a Democratic war vet, is taking him on in the 2006 elections.

Here is a bit of what we learned from the Lentz for Congress website:

Bryan Lentz is a native son of southeastern Pennsylvania, where the 7th District is located. He is a decorated Army veteran who served with distinction in the Iraq War and with MFO and NATO peacekeeping missions in the Sinai Peninsula and Bosnia, where he oversaw millions of dollars in infrastructure development, including the first-ever Russian, Romanian, Muslim and Serbian joint bridge and road projects. Among his official commendations are the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Bronze Star.

“Bryan will work tirelessly to roll back the Bush agenda and restore accountability and responsibility in Washington, DC.”

In Iraq, Bryan commanded a civil affairs unit responsible for rebuilding the infrastructure in Mosul. His experience on the ground makes him a sharp and reliable critic of the Bush administration’s failure to plan properly for the war and the rebuilding effort.

In his civilian life, Bryan served for six years as a prosecutor with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, where he earned a tough reputation for his wide-ranging prosecution of gang members, rapists, and other violent offenders. Since 1999, Bryan has worked as an attorney in private practice.

UPDATE: We plan to do a profile of Paul Scoles too, and have contacted him by email. The story on Bryan Lentz is part of our coverage of Democratic Iraq war vets who are running for Congress. We strongly support any candidate who can beat Curt Weldon. – Jon

PA Senate: GOP’s #3 Man Santorum Is Losing Big in Early Polling

A harbinger, perhaps: The number three man in the Republican Party’s leadership in the U.S. Senate is polling very badly in his bid for reelection next year. A new poll shows that a scant 37 percent of Pennsylvania voters plan to vote for GOP Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006, while half say they plan to vote for his opponent, Demoratic State Treasurer William Casey:

In the Senate race, [the survey] showed Casey beating Santorum … by a 50 percent to 37 percent in a hypothetical election, with 13 percent undecided…

A Keystone poll in June showed Casey, the likely Democratic nominee, ahead of Santorum by 44 percent to 37 percent. Recent surveys by other polling organizations also have shown Santorum trailing Casey who, like Scranton, lives in Scranton.

Santorum’s problems are mostly self-inflicted. He tends to make news with frequent bursts of wingnuttery – equating gay sex with bestiality a few years ago, for example. More recently he suggested that disaster victims should be sanctioned if they found themselves unprepared for calamity.

He holds the position of Republican Conference Chair in the Senate leadership.

NC 08: War Vet Dem Challenges GOP Aristocrat Incumbent

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) broke his word to his constituents last year by voting for CAFTA.

Now an Iraqi war Democrat has:

Tim Dunn, a trial lawyer and military veteran from Fayetteville who served recently in Iraq, announced his intention Wednesday to challenge four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes for his seat in Congress.

Dunn, a Democrat, cited Hayes’ July vote switch on the Central American Free Trade Agreement as a key motivation for his campaign. Hayes had said repeatedly he opposed CAFTA, then changed his vote at the last moment to ensure passage of the agreement.

“He broke his promise to the people of the 8th Congressional District,” Dunn said in a telephone interview. “With NAFTA, fast-track and now with CAFTA, those are things that … will severely hurt our jobs here.” […]

Florida Marriage Amendment Another Republican Dirty Trick

Nothing like anti-gay hysteria to get out the vote, said the Daytona News Journal in editorial exposing the real purpose of Florida’s so-called “marriage amendment.”

Florida law already prohibits same-sex couples from marrying. The state doesn’t need a constitutional amendment to do the same — unless, of course, the rationale is to stampede conservatives to the polls.

“The rationale is to stampede conservatives to the polls.”

… the group’s premise: Allowing gay men and lesbians to marry somehow threatens other Floridians. In support of that premise, they offer no data, no factual analysis, no case studies. Just rhetoric, often misleading rhetoric. For example, statements on the site speak to “establishing marriage” as if hundreds of Floridians aren’t already marrying every day.

The proposed amendment doesn’t stop at marriage. It also would prohibit state lawmakers from creating any “substantial equivalent” of marriage. In other words, the state could not pass a law legalizing civil unions…

A wiser, more compassionate move would take the state in the other direction, realizing that gay people — like any other Floridians — deserve the chance to formalize permanent bonds and create their own families.

Floridians may not be ready to go there. But this amendment tricks them, by also banning civil unions…

Unfortunately, it’s likely that Florida voters won’t understand how broad this proposed amendment is unless they realize how cynically they’re being played. Voters — and Florida’s substantial gay population — deserve better.

Katrina the Perfect Political Storm Too

Katrina might have been the perfect storm politically, shattering support for Bush’s key policies and changing, along with New Orleans’ waterfront, the political landscape as well. A.P.:

Population shifts caused by the exodus of hurricane victims from the Gulf Coast could have ripple effects for years to come in Louisiana political races and perhaps beyond…

The early thinking is the evacuees least likely to return to their homes in Louisiana may be the poorest – and thus, Democrats for the most part…

“The stars are aligned,” said one Democratic consultant. “But Democrats need a candidate with a message.”

[Political Consultant Elliott] Stonecipher sees the New Orleans area losing Democratic voters and a political network that was of great benefit to Sen. Mary Landrieu and other Democrats…

Landrieu was elected in a 2002 runoff by a 52-48 margin, a difference of just 42,000 votes. New Orleans was the base of her support…Kathleen Blanco, the Democratic governor, who also won by a 52-48 margin, faces re-election in 2007.

Ray Nagin, the Democratic mayor of New Orleans, is up for re-election in February. No one knows if the city could even hold an election by then…

On the other hand, Texas might make up some of Louisiana’s Democratic losses.

…[L]ocal races – for everything from school boards to legislative seats and perhaps even congressional districts – could be affected.

…With Texas’ Hispanic population surging and its black population growing faster than the white population, demographic shifts already are pushing the state toward the Democrats. Katrina could help hasten the trend.


Poll: Another New Low for President Bush

The new Washington Post-ABC poll found that President George Bush’s job approval rating is at 45 percent, down seven points since January and the lowest ever recorded for the president in Post-ABC surveys. Fifty-three percent disapproved of the job Bush is doing.

We hate to sound like a broken record but these numbers are still ridiculously high for a failed presidency. The reason Mr. Bush’s poll numbers are not in the low 30’s is because people still give this administration credit for preventing another terrorist attack in the United States. Never mind that the 9/11 attacks took place nine years after the first World Trade Center bombings.

What is new in this poll is the fact that gas prices took a toll on the president’s approval rating. Six in 10 Americans said there are steps the administration could take to reduce gas prices.

Yeah, you’d think a couple of oil men would be able to fix the price of oil. Oh, wait! They did!