(From the diaries. - promoted by James L.)
With Chuck Hagel once again saying that impeachment could be an option, it felt like the right time to visit this topic: What if Chuck Hagel does decide to run for re-election?
Let's say, tomorrow, a month from now, six months from now, Chuck Hagel wakes up, realizes that running for President is a fool's errand, and decides that he's going to just run to keep his presumably safe U.S. Senate seat.
He could be the Joe Lieberman of 2008.
Understand, of course, that this would be a "bizarro"-Joe Lieberman. Like Lieberman, he's a staple on the Sunday morning talk shows, advocating a war strategy that is diametrically opposed to his own party. But if you lined them up side-by-side, I doubt that you'd find many issues which they'd agree on. Their similarities begin and end with how they are reviled by the rank-and-file of their own party. And that's what I draw from here.
The anecdotal evidence is strong enough. Republicans don't like Chuck Hagel. There's a vocal group of Nebraska Republicans - they show up almost daily in the letters to the editor - who want to see him challenged. They may yet get their wish.
Ten days ago, Attorney General Jon Bruning announced his intention to run for Senate - should Hagel not seek reelection. But the Lincoln Journal Star's Don Walton sees a potential for Bruning's campaign to become a vehicle for an anti-Hagel movement, and I'm inclined to agree:
Bruning launches his "ground game," identifying and organizing supporters across the state.
And he begins the rather challenging task of attempting to raise funds for a campaign he may never wage.
Hagel loyalists in the Republican ranks are going to hold tight, one would guess.
Bruning loyalists will step forward behind their man.
And what will Republicans who are angry with Hagel for opposing President Bush on Iraq do?
Judging by letters to the editor, telephone messages and anecdotal evidence, there are a lot of them out there. They are upset, and they are energized.
Do the anti-Hagels put their hopes, and money, with Bruning? Help him build a sturdy campaign vehicle? Implore him to run? Coalesce into their own organization, whether Bruning's a candidate or not?
So, just kind of picture this: Nebraska Republicans, increasingly upset at Hagel's continued criticisms of Bush, line up behind Bruning. Not elected Republicans, of course. The Nebraska Republican establishment will be firmly behind Hagel. Bruning, surprised by the enthusiasm of his supporters, preempts Hagel's late summer announcement by announcing that he will, indeed, run for Senate regardless of Hagel's intentions. Hagel decides to run, setting up a showdown in May of 2008.
There is one key difference, of course: if Hagel loses the Republican nomination, he can't run in the "Nebraska for Hagel" party. Nebraska law expressly forbids running for the same office after losing the primary.
Race Tracker: NE-Sen