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Monday, October 31, 2005

Weekly Open Thread: What Races Are You Interested In?

Posted by Bob Brigham

It's that time of week. What's going on in the races you are following?

Posted at 12:00 AM in Open Threads | Technorati

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MD-Sen: The first non-partisan poll since July was released. The poll conducted by Gonzales Research showed, Ben Cardin holding a 9 point lead over Lt. Gov. Steele (47-38). The same poll showed Kweisi Mfume trailing Steele (42-40).

I began volunteering for Cardin for Senate this week. Everyone seems upbeat and ready for this race. The main concern I picked up on was Steele's ability to raise money and the fact the RNC has alerady shown it is willing to dump a ton of money into this race.

P.S. The Gillard post isnt helping here in Maryland. The reaction I have witnessed so far is total disgust. Ive literally heard people claim they will vote for Steele if the attacks keep up. First the credit report now this. If we wanna' lose this race keep it up. We can beat Steele on the issues... Why stir up shit that isnt necessary?

MD-Gov: O'Malley and Duncan both hold small leads over incumbent Governor Bob Ehrlich. Theres no doubt he's gonna' be tough to knock off, but I believe if we run an effective campaign we should be able to pull this one off.

Posted by: nickshepDEM [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 01:01 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Gilliard post is hurting Democrats in Maryland? That's funny, because Bob says he's "glad to see" it's playing out there, instead of Virginia.

I guess he thought it would help you there. Who would've believed it would be precisely the opposite?

An Ohio Senate primary with two candidates with much to recommend them turns sour. A gubernatorial race in red Virginia with a Democrat managing to run in a dead heat with a Republican turns sour in the closing days. A Maryland Senate race against an unsympathetic character like Steele turns sour.

Hmm. What do all these sudden turns of events have in common?

Posted by: Kagro X [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 08:28 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

NY-Mayor: The scent of inevitability is in the air. Some claim it smells like maple syrup. Bloomberg (R-INO) leads Ferrer (D-ZZZ) by 27-31% in the polls. However, phone polls typically undercount latinos, and the same polls had Mark Green up by 16% at this point in the 2001 campaign. The margin will certainly be closer but the only real threat to Bloomberg is that his supporters don't bother to vote.

Posted by: Terra Goodnight [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 08:40 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

VA Gov - A new Washington Post poll out today shows what all the latest polls are showing... Kaine is up by 3%. In this ame poll Kaine was down by 7% (a month ago). The momentum cannot be denied. I'm hoping and praying that it continues.

Posted by: UVA08 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 08:50 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kargo X,

Im in Maryland and I can tell you first hand its not playing out well among people I have talked to. Example: My girlfirends mother is a pretty die hard Dem, but she thinks the attacks are disgusting. She claims if they keep up she wont vote or will vote for Steele. Regardless if a Dem candidate was involved. Everyone remembers the Oreo Cookie attacks on Steele back in 2002, and they dont want to see any of that nonsense. Personally, neither do I. Lets talk about the issues. Steele supports the President, supports the war, he's anti-choice, and he's already shown he bought and paid for by the same people who back Bill Frist, Tom Delay, and President Bush.

Posted by: nickshepDEM [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 09:38 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I agree that the race attacks are not cool and people need to cease. Remember we are the party of tolerance and diversity!!! However, I do think Steele's "I don't care" comment to Gov. Ehrlich giving a speech at a White-only place needs to come into play.

I think it's ridiculous though that people seriously believe that African-Americans will vote for Steele just because of his skin color and not what he believes in. If Barack Obama was the Democratic candidate in 2004 vs. Bush, would I vote for Bush just because he's white and I'm white? That is also something that people need to take a look at.

The Maryland race is very important, we need to debate the issues and show how Steele went with the culture of corruption and is anti-choice. I know it's exciting to talk about the potential seat gains, but we have to focus on the Minnesota and Maryland races as well--because, those will be our hardest seats to hold.

Posted by: Kyle Raccio [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 10:53 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

nickshep, it's a shame, isn't it? That's the law of unintended consequences for you. Something every would-be consultant should always keep in mind.

It's interesting that this lesson is only now being learned (if it's being learned at all). The chief complaint of so many "netroots activists" is that politicians and their consultants are "too cautious" and don't "fight."

Now we're seeing precisely why they're so careful. And yet, pride won't permit those involved to admit that maybe, just maybe, caution is occasionally warranted. Because to admit that would be to admit that the blogosphere is just like the real world after all.

Posted by: Kagro X [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 12:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The race in CA-11 is getting interesting. Pombo has been on the warpath recently, all sorts of environmental laws through a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation maneuver. Although those of us paying attention to Pombo aren't really surprised, his actions are creating a lot of notoriety for him. When the Democrats settle on a candidate, I'm sure they won't have a problem raising lots of money to kick Pombo out of office. (Incidentally, you can donate to the CA-11 General Election Fund, which goes to whoever wins the Dem Primary, here).

On the Democratic side of things, I have become even more convinced that Steve Filson is not as strong a contender as conventional wisdom dictates. I've looked at his FEC numbers and though he's raised over $100,000, only around $16,000 has come from his district with over $12,000 of it coming from the block of the street he lives on. I also was able to talk with him and watch him give a speech, and all I can say is that he did not seem like an excellent candidate when considered either ideologically or pragmatically.

Also, it looks like Margee Ensign is going to join the race, which may really shake things up and complicate the Democratic primary.

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 12:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here are some gubernatorial races that should be quite telling...

HA-Gov......There seems to be a Republican tide in Hawaii these days. It seems the best way to squash that tide is to pull out all the stops in trying to defeat Linda Lingle next year. If she isn't stopped, she'll be an easy frontrunner for the Senate race likely to be vacated by geriatric Daniel Inouye in 2010. If we can't even count on two Democratic Senators from Hawaii, our long-term prospects to be a majority party seem extremely meager.

IL-Gov.....At least on paper, Rod Blagojevich seems to be in trouble. Illinois is one of those states where we desperately need to hang onto the statehouse, particularly between 2010 and 2012, because the GOP could draw up devastating Congressional district lines for us much like they did in Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2001.

KS-Gov.....I don't know much about Kathleen Selenius, but a Democrat able to win in Kansas and maintain high approval ratings three years into her term seems like someone we could get an education from.

MA-Gov.....At this point, I'm not even sure unpopular Mitt Romney is running for a second term, but regaining this statehouse should be a manageable task for the Dems whether he runs or not.

MN-Gov....Incumbent Republican (and highly plausible 2008 GOP running mate material) Tim Pawlenty is vulnerable, a fact even he admitted to this week. Popular Democratic Attorney General Mike Hatch seems very likely to be the nominee, but there's a millionaire businessman named Kelly Doran already buying TV ads whose rising public profile could pull off an upset if he drags this out until a September primary. I could live with Doran as my Governor and could see him as victorious over Pawlenty, but the six-week campaign that would be remaining after such a late primary would make it a steep uphill climb for either Doran or Hatch. My money's on Hatch, who I'd give at least 50-50 odds to next year in a matchup with Pawlenty.

WI-Gov....From what I understand, GOP challenger Mark Green wants to effectively end Wisconsin's same-day registration law even though it has consistently ranked the state first or second in voter turnout each cycle. The obvious reason: high voter turnout in a state like Wisconsin benefits Dems. WI is becoming an increasingly difficult state to win because the state's population growth is primarily confined to six or seven counties of suburban and exurban Milwaukee which are just as Republican as suburban Cincinnati. Neither Gore or Kerry would have eked out their narrow victories in 2000 or 2004 had same-day registration not been law. That's why it's imperative that marginal incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle be re-elected.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 04:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark --
As a "Minnesotan in exile" living in Indiana, I try to follow Minnesota politics as closely as possible. You mention Hatch and Doran (and from what I know about them, either would be fine), but what about State Sen. Becky Lourey? I've heard mention she's thinking about making another run, and she's loved by the Progressive "Wellstone Faction" of the party, has a ton of experience and accomplishments to point to in the legislature, a compelling personal story (one of her sons was recently killed in Iraq) etc., etc. Or, is this really down to Hatch's ID or Doran's money?

Steve Kelley and Becky Lourey

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 06:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

IndianaProgressive, you raise an excellent question. At any time in the past, I would have concurred that liberal Becky Lourey would have had the potential to score an upset against the power players in the nomination process due to the hard-core lefties that dominate the Minnesota DFL. But I expect that their mood is one of pragmatism this year....and an insatiable desire to take down Tim Pawlenty now before his national profile rises. Becky Lourey would have had a good chance of winning in the Old Minnesota, but with the sprawling suburbs adding 10,000 or more new Republican voters every year, I think the DFL recognizes they need a candidate that can pick off independent voters and have a geographic base that can produce numbers in strategically beneficial regions of the state. Lourey's rural district gives her a limited profile in those key areas, and her liberalism can be much more easily demogauged than can Hatch, Kelley or Doran. I was frankly surprised that Lourey didn't get endorsed by her party in 2002. Instead the endorsement went to former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, who ran the worst statewide campaign in recent memory and lost by eight points to Pawlenty. My guess is if the DFL had went with Judi Dutcher instead of Moe, we probably would have the Governorship right now. I'm not sure if the same can be said about Lourey, but I expect she would have ran better than Moe did.

At this stage, I think Mike Hatch is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the nomination process, and I expect his campaign to get the most media buzz, unless Doran's media blitz works the magic he's hoping for and polls indicate broad support for Doran, which could diminish Hatch's front-runner profile. Hatch ran up stratospheric margins in northern Minnesota in both runs for Attorney General, and considering the disproportionate level of Iron Rangers involved in the nomination process (and that come out in primaries), that's another likely check in his favor. Hatch's liability is that he's not much of a "party man" and his strong suit is not kissing the butts of DFL activists. If he was to lose the party's endorsement next May or June, it would be an embarrasment his campaign would probably not be able to recover from, so his nomination is far from a done deal even though he's a clearcut favorite at this early stage.

As for Steve Kelley, I certainly won't rule him out considering his gravitas with the education lobby which looms large among DFL activists. Still, I think I'd rank his candidacy fourth place in likelihood of being the eventual nominee. The Dems would have killed for a candidate of Kelley's in previous cycles (such as 1994), but I think his chances have dimmed considerably with the addition of Lourey and Doran into the race, both of whom have their own strategic advantages which he lacks.

Kelly Doran is the wild card here. He won't even register a blip in the nomination process and I expect he knows it. It will give me tremendous heartburn if Labor Day 2006 comes and goes and Doran is still in the race, determined to fight out a primary battle that will reduce the battle against Pawlenty to a six-week campaign. Unfortunately, I fear that's what Doran has in mind. As a candidate, Doran is being sold to us a centrist "business Democrat", but what I've heard from him has satisfied me that he's on the right side of the issues. It should be an interesting race, but I'm hoping it doesn't replay the way the 2000 Senate race unfolded, where we didn't know who would be challenging Rod Grams until the mid-September primary. I have a hard time believing we could beat Pawlenty in a one-on-one campaign that only lasted six weeks.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 07:57 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It seems to me that there is nowhere near enough talk about Pennsylvania races around here. There are a lot to talk about. Melissa Hart, Phil English, and a number of other republican congressmen are going to face stiff challenges from highly qualified Democrats. There is of course the governor's race and most importantly the fight to take out Santorum. There should be more talk about these races around here!

Note: I am personally involved in Steven Porter's campaign, he will be running against Phil English in PA-03. But I would love to see some talk about other important Pennsylvania races as well. I'd love to hear what everyone thinks either here or through email-- (jd_ford@hotmail.com)

Posted by: JDF [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 11:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Thanks for the info Mark. And I really do miss the "Old Minnesota" as you call it, but it is a different political reality today. I just hope that all of our DFL Gov and Senate candidates play nice with each other, and realize that Tim Pawlenty and Mark Kennedy are the real opposition!

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

MN Races:
Gov- I personally think Hatch is a pols pol and should just stay as AG, but his ambition has corrupted him. I like Steve Kelley, he is a visionary and would be a great governor. Kelley has become the "Anti-Hatch" among DFL activists.

Sen-Klobuchar has the nomination in the bag. Much of the talk now is about a possible Patty Wetterling Lt. Gov nod. Klobuchar is going to be able to knock of Kennedy, she has the stuff to do it.

1st CD- Tim Walz, Tim Walz, Tim Walz. He is a great guy fighting in uphill battle against in entrenched Republican, fake moderate (94% of the time with Tom Delay). A real grassroots effort is building in SoMinn, people just have to help it grow.

2nd CD- Coleen Rowley, given enough rope, will hang herself. She is a great candidate, just looking at her resume. In person she is cold, egotistical, and self-righteous. Word has it Teresa Daly is putting the pieces together for another run after Kline. I pray so, Rowley is a burden to all Democrats.

6th CD- The Republican infighting will hopefully burn all the resources away. El Tinklenberg is a middle of the road candidate with a shot a victory in the conservative CD.

Posted by: DFLer22 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 12:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

WV Sen - With Shelley Moore Capito taking a pass on the race (a lot of us think that the only reason she showed interest was to raise some money from out of state Republicans), Byrd will coast to another easy victory against a token opponent. Secretary of State Betty Ireland was apparently considering the race, but Byrd would have easily taken her to the woodshed had she decided to run. Pity she didn't.

WV 2 - Although it's way too early to tell, the primary field seems to be narrowing rapidly, 2004 candidate Erik Wells, State Senator Jon Unger, and State Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis have all passed on the race, leaving a clear shot for attorney and former State Dem. Chair Mike Callaghan. I'm biased, but Callaghan is a young, energetic candidate that can beat Capito if the DCCC and other organizations make put this race on their radar screens.

KY 4 - Nothing to get excited about or even pay attention to yet, but this district was held by Democrat Ken Lucas for three terms before he honored a term-limit pledge. If we could find a candidate, the district could be in play.

Posted by: Travis Owsley [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 08:44 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Travis from what I understand the field is diminishing because of Callaghan. He's regarded as the one with the best chance to win and everyone seems to know it.

Posted by: safi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 11:22 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

WV 2:

It is very encouraging to see the growing interest in Mike Callaghan's challenge to Shelley Capito. Callaghan's bid to unseat Capito is going to be a bellweather race for Democratic House aspirations nationally.

If Demcorats are ever to regain a sustainable operative majority in the House, we are going to have to start reclaiming the ground we've lost to the Republicans in rural districts. WV 2 is low-hanging fruit we need to pick while it's ripe.

With its roughly 2-to-1 advantage in party registration for Democrats, WV2 is fertile ground for a GOP to Democratic flip which would help shatter the myth of GOP invincibilty in rural districts. In Mike Callaghan, we have a candidate who can win this fight.
VA Gubernatorial:

Of course, like everyone else, I am watching the VA gubernatorial. It will matter nationally fro two reasons.

First, we will get a true read on the extent to which Bush is a drag on Republican support in races in which W's name does not appear on the ballot. Even with Mark Warner's high favorability ratings, Kilgore should still enjoy a five point natural advantage, all other things being equal.

Second, Kaine is adopting a GOTV effort patterned on the Bush exurban focus in 2004. Rather than deploying his resources evenly or focusing his effort on cutting the GOP edge in the Shenandoah Valley and Southside VA, he is pouring resources into the heavily Democratic areas in Northern Virginia.

Obviously, the plan is to come out of NOVA with an insurmountable lead. Well, it's logical in the sense that that is where the votes are concentrated.

The vulnerability of the strategy is that is based on a static analysis and fails to take into account the GOP 72-Hour Plan they are currently implementing. The GOP is pounding Tidewater, South side and the Valley. They are making only token efforts in the interior NOVA counties, choosing to focus their effort in the region on the exurban counties (Prince William, Loudon et al).

The plus to the Kaine GOTV strategy is it plays on the advantage Democrats have in intensity. The GOP support, according to the Post, Mason-Dixon and Richmond media polls, is tracking far less intensity of support than their traditional pattern. The risk is Republicans tend to vote whether fired up or not.

If the 72-Hour Plan works well in whipping up a last-minute surge in turnout to levels beyond the models the polling is using, we will learn a valuable lesson. If Kaine loses or wins by a margin below the 3-point margin he has now, we'll see that Dems are at a disadvantage when both parties are focusing mainly on whipping the base. If this is the case, we need to focus our GOTV on reducing margins in areas of GOP advantage.

If it works and Kaine comes in more than 3 points ahead, then we need to consider applying this lesson learned elsewhere.

My only concern is Kilgore ran a rather unfocused campaign until very late. He went negative too early and gave Kaine the chance to surf the blowback. After going negative, Kilgore jumped on immigration and bounced back. If he had reversed the order and gone after Kaine on immigration then gone negative on the death penalty, we would be looking at a very different race.

Well, we will know more Tuesday night.

NJ Gubernatorial:
You can't read anything out of this one. The NJ Demcratic party is so scandal-plagued all I can take out of this one is the combination of Corzine money and Bush's negatives may have cost the GOP an upset.

Posted by: pinhickdrew [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2005 03:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Viginia House of Delegates. If we do better than expected, it will be a good sign for 2006.

Posted by: RandyMI [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2005 09:47 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

PA-18; Tom Kovach (D-Venetia) is assembling a very solid team of campaign staffers to ramp up to challenge and beat incumbent Republican Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair) in the 18th District in Pennyslvania. I am running the netroots outreach effort and we are building the back end of a new campaign blog for introduction in the next couple of weeks.

Internal polling from a reputable source is showing that Mr. Murphy is an extraordinary vulnerable incumbent as he is out of touch with his district. Tom has been, is, and will be running as the candidate who represents that party of moral values, as a Democrat from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be kicking it into high gear, so check back with me for more updates.

Posted by: Fester 986 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2005 01:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I would like to see something on PA-04. Melissa Hart is the Tom Delay controlled GOP incumbent. Tom Delay influence is just dripping off of her. There are two democratic candidates in the primary. Jason Altmire and Georgia Berner. Do either of these candidates look promising? I have seen Jason's site at www.jasonaltmire.com .

Posted by: TR from PA [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2005 03:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

OH- Sen - For whatever reason DeWine has come out with his cheast poked out about Alito saying that if the Democrats filibuster he would vote for the nuclear option. Now I dont know what's going through his mind but I think we need to put him back in his place. I really want Paul Hackett runing against him because he knows how to do just that. God I wish Paul Hackett was a Virginian instead of being from Ohio.

Posted by: UVA08 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2005 07:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

VA-GOV Great poll if its true.... Roanoke college conducted a poll that has Kaine up 8% with a 5% margin of error, but the undecided remain very high (14%). When they break it down to "very likely to vote and voted in 2004" the margin widens to 10% with a 5.6% margin of error I'm wondering what the Kilgore response will be tommrow.... "Liberal academia" im sure... Here is the link


Posted by: UVA08 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2005 09:43 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Senator Wetterling,

That's something that old guard DFL and their corporate cohorts that are currently backing a county attorney named Amy Klobuchar are going to have to get used to. With her progressive stands on key issues, Wetterlings campaign continues to roll along, winning convert after convert day after day. Being a charter member of the St Cloud NAACP, Patty is comfortable in the most diverse of settings, and her plain talking easy manner goes over well with all Minnesotans.
The latest gambit out of the monied corporate crowd is to offer Wetterling the Lt Govs office. They would do better to offer it to Klobuchar instead, which would be a big step up for a county prosecutor. Even legislators who had originally pledged to Klobuchar are looking for a way to get out of their pledges, principally because Minnesota is a caucus state. Seems the legislators don't want their constituents to see them publicly taking a stand against the popular will of the people, which overwhelmingly favors Wetterling. The Klobuchar campaign is rapidly running out of tricks, like stacking the Zogby online poll with a bunch of college interns. Wait until the Star Trib conducts a real random poll that Klobuchar can't influence. She could still get into the Attorney Generals race, although her big dollar backers would probably be upset, which may be a good thing since so many of them are republicans.

Posted by: MN_DEM [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 7, 2005 09:45 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment