Senate Republicans Suffer Another Recruitment Failure?
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 09:23:16 AM EDT
Ever since Mary Landrieu narrowly held her seat in a December 2002 runoff election, her seat in the Senate representing Louisiana has been viewed as one of the Democrats' most vulnerable seats for the 2008 cycle, if not the most vulnerable seat. To this end, Republicans -- the White House, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, state party leaders -- have been working overtime to try to find a candidate. Focus turned to conservative Democrat John Kennedy, who ran for Senate in 2004 and currently serves as state Treasurer, to change parties and run as a Republican. Karl Rove was even dispatched to the state to try to convince Kennedy to run under the GOP banner. But in what could be a major recruitment failure, Kennedy has taken a step seen as potentially indicative that he will not challenge Landrieu this cycle. Mike Hasten has the story for The Shreveport Times (h/t Taegan Goddard, who seems to be reading slightly more into this story than I am).
State Treasurer John Kennedy ended speculation about his political future today by announcing that he will see re-election.
Kennedy had been considering a run for attorney general but says that after discussing it with his wife, he would like to continue being treasurer.
This decision potentially complicates Republican hopes of drafting Kennedy into the 2008 Senate race in Louisiana. Certainly, it would take at least some explaining for a politician to run for reelection on one party line and then immediately turn around and run for another office on another party line. What's more, it would presumably take at least some explaining for someone to run for reelection and then for another office a year later, regardless of whether or not he changed partisan affiliation.
Everyone from the Washington Post to the guy at the end of the bar believes the National GOP is bouncing between two contenders to take on U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a New Orleans Dem, in the 2008 election cycle: Treasurer John Kennedy, who has openly pondered dropping off his donkey for an elephant, and Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, the Republican darling who just recently elected to statewide office.
But the name of Congressman Richard Baker of Baton Rouge has also been batted around by the Republican Party as a conservative counterpart to Landrieu, one of the most targeted members of Congress facing reelection next year.
Baker says he has been taking meetings with party leaders to discuss the idea, and has left the possibility open in press interviews. But now he reveals that he is happy in the House, where a Democratic majority has managed to put only small dent in his seniority - he originally took the lead on Louisiana's housing woes in the wake of Katrina and brokered a deal on a water-resources bill last month that had been stalled in Congress for seven years. "The Republicans, state and federal, see the Landrieu race as a competitive one and, at the moment, I'm not so sure there's a candidate out there," Baker says. "But I can tell you it is nothing I intend to take on."
It's still possible that Kennedy will both run for reelection in 2007 and run for Senate in 2008, or that Dardenne will jump in the race. But the fact that Republicans are having such trouble getting either of them -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to get in this race speaks to Landrieu's potential strength and Republicans' concern that she can't be defeated. After all, if she was able to win in 2002, a terrible year for Democrats nationally, can she really be beaten in 2008, which seems to be shaping up to be a similarly bad year for the GOP?