by Jonathan Singer, Tue Mar 20, 2007 at 07:11:17 PM EDT
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.