Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

The 2006 election cycle was difficult enough for the Republicans that they didn't need the gross incompetence of the chair of their senatorial campaign committee, Liddy Dole, to help them lose control of the upper chamber of Congress. Are Senate Republicans heading towards the same fate in 2008? An Alexander Bolton article from the front page of The Hill doesn't seem to indicate much optimism out of the National Republican Senatorial Commitee.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Ensign (R-Nev.) is pressing Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) to break tradition and steer Republican National Committee (RNC) funds to Senate races for the 2008 cycle.

Historically, the RNC has done little to help individual Senate candidates in presidential election years, although candidates in battleground states have reaped the collateral benefits of the RNC's get-out-the-vote program.

But under Martinez's stewardship, the RNC may come to NRSC's aid in 2008.

The prospect of the RNC needing to invest on the defensive in Senate campaigns during a presidential year should have Republicans extremely worried. It is difficult enough for a party to control the White House in three straight elections, and the task is made significantly more tough in this instance as a result of George W. Bush's historically high disapproval numbers, which show no sign of decreasing any time soon. As a result, the RNC already has its work cut out for it in trying to boost the eventual Republican presidential nominee during the general election campaign that it does not need to have to dump money trying to get a John Sununu or Norm Coleman reelected in a Democratic-leaning state.

When Ensign accepted the position at the NRSC after others like John Thune had already turned it down, it seemed like the Republicans still at least could do no worse than they did in 2006 and perhaps would come closer to be evenly matched against Chuck Schumer's strong machine at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Yet the fact that it is March 2007, more than a year and a half before voters go to the polls to determine the makeup of the Senate in the 111th Congress, and Ensign is already indicating that he does not believe he has the capacity to, on his own, raise the type of money necessary for his party to retake the Senate is extremely telling. Make no mistake, this is a sign of weakness and despair from within the Republican establishment -- a sign that is not going to instill much confidence in the donor base of the GOP.

Tags: John Ensign, NRSC, Republicans, Senate 2008 (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

(at least) CO, NH, MN, and OR should be be prime pick up opportunities. Especially after Jim Webb's win, the net roots support from the start could help to take down people like Collins and Dole. Since close Senate races tend to mostly break toward one party, with work 2008 could be another good year. Not to mention the Republicans have to defend a lot more seats this cycle.

by zaffy 2007-03-20 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

Remarkable.

The NRSC has already been begging the Republican Senate members for money for Liddy Dole and other select, hard-luck GOP Senators.

And now this.  I agree on my blog:

This should be very demoralizing to the GOP base. The NRSC is already at a numerical disadvantage, having to defend 21 seats to the Democrats' 12 seats; but now they're admitting that they won't be able to cut it financially without help. Scenes like this have to make a prolonged and growing Democratic majority in the Senate seem all the more likely.

I didn't realize panhandling was a primary source of income for some GOP Senators.

by Senate Guru 2007-03-20 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

Are we sure they ARE intending to invest on the defensive? The article talks a lot about trying to 'recapture' the Senate and Democratic seats that are up next year and so on. Maybe they really think they have a chance at taking over the Senate, and think they're playing offense?

by tjekanefir 2007-03-20 08:19PM | 0 recs
Washington Post article from two weeks ago

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2007/03/03/AR2007030301034. html?nav=hcmodule

Ensign is spending most of his time on finding challengers in Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana and Iowa. He identifies Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Minnesota as trouble spots for the GOP.

None of that is exactly earth shattering. Obviously we are on offense via sheer numbers and the likely national mood.

But I'm always uneasy when Democrats underestimate John Ensign. I saw him come from 10 points back late to win my district in '94, then nearly defeat Harry Reid in '98. Last year the netroots kept wanting to pretend he was vulnerable when it was a glorified walkover.

If you give me a choice, I'll gleefully send Ensign home and let Liddie Dole try again. Ensign is bringing advisor Mike Slanker and his wife to help run the RSCC campaign. Hugh Jackson of Las Vegas Gleaner calls him Darth Slanker, and that's well earned. Slanker is absolutely ruthless and his commercials are far superior to what I see nationwide from the Republicans. Slanker will attack and define early and truth never enters into the equation. I suggest we prepare for that.

by Gary Kilbride 2007-03-20 08:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Washington Post article from two weeks ago

His 1998 race result was not unexpected.  Most pundits actually predicted that Harry Reid would lose that year.

by Toddwell 2007-03-20 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Washington Post article from two weeks ago

And as far as last year, Ensign was vulnerable but Nevada's Democratic Senator did little to help Ensign's worthy opponent Jack Carter.  Of course, Ensign recognized his vulnerability and outspent Carter 2 to 1 and even had Bush come out to help rally the rural Republican base.

by msstaley 2007-03-21 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

They are not going to be playing offense in the Senate.  They basically picked off all of the vulnerable Democrats in 2002 and held on to a couple of Republican seats that they would have lost in a neutral year(Sununu, Dole, Allard).  There is almost no chance of Republicans winning back the Senate.

Its the House that I am worried about.  We should definately hold it and possibly pick up a few more seats, but the Republicans are likely to go after our freshmen hard.  Every Democratic freshmen needs a very large warchest in order to discourage top-tier challengers.  They also need to find better challengers in undertargetting competitive seats like AZ-01, FL-15, FL-24, AL-03, LA-07, and MO-06.  The House is going to be a real fight and I am not sure that the Democrats realize this yet.

by Toddwell 2007-03-20 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

I see the republicans losing at 2-3 seats, NH, CO, and/or MN. I don't know about losing more, but they are behind the 8 ball in this election cycle.

by olawakandi 2007-03-21 02:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Ensign Already Calling Uncle at the NRSC?

If a best option scenario rose and we took 4-5 without losing any, that would be huge...  If any of the big 3 (or Richardson or Gore) when the Presidency, we don't have to worry about any Senate seat losses.  At that point a 55-56 majority, could be enough to convince a few of the RINO's to come over to our side.

by yitbos96bb 2007-03-21 01:31PM | 0 recs

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