KS-Sen: Slattery to Jump in Senate Race

We've been following this race for a while, most recently just yesterday with news that former six-term Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery was reconsidering his previous decision not to run for the United States Senate in Kansas. Well, that period of reconsideration is apparently already over.

Former Rep. Jim Slattery has reconsidered his political future and will challenge Sen. Pat Roberts this fall, a state Democrat officials said Wednesday.

Slattery will make a public statement next week that he will enter the race, said Mike Gaughan, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.

"He intends to make the race. He's been talking to Kansans disappointed with the way Pat Roberts has been inattentive to Kansans' needs in Washington," Gaughan said. "He was somebody that we talked to last year about the importance of running against Pat Roberts."

While it might not seem like it's the case, this is a relatively big recruitment coup. Slattery isn't the strongest potential Democratic Senate candidate in the state; Governor Kathleen Sebelius would almost undoubtedly be a stronger challenger (though she may be holding out for a position on the Democratic ticket, a slot in a Democratic cabinet, or perhaps a run for an open Senate seat in the state in 2010). But aside from Sebelius, Slattery is certainly among the group of Democrats who could potentially make this race competitive.

And that's what it comes down to, making this race potentially competitive. No one is expecting a Senate race in Kansas to be easy. The Democrats haven't won a Senate race in Kansas since 1932 (and that was a fairly good year for the party...). But what the Democrats can hope for is a candidate who can keep the incumbent Republican honest, a candidate who voters would feel comfortable voting for in the case that the unexpected occurs (e.g. an incumbent falling into hard times, like Jim Bunning or George Allen). Slattery is just the type of candidate who could fill this role.

So this is definitely a positive development for Senate Democrats.

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KS-Sen: Fmr. Dem. Cong. Slattery Reconsidering a Run

First we thought he was might get in, then we were a little more sure of it. But all of the sudden, former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery decided not to challenge Republican Senator Pat Roberts in the Kansas Senate election this cycle. Now, however, word has it that Slattery is rethinking his decision (h/tSenate Guru).

Slatts just called. He's looking. He's thinking. "It's not going to take long," he said of making a decision.

He'd like some clarity on the presidential race before pulling the trigger. "That's not the sole consideration, but it's certainly a factor, as you can imagine."

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Former 2nd District Kansas Congressman Jim Slattery tells Prime Buzz he's reconsidering his decision not to challenge two-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts this year.

Slattery, a Democrat, weighed the race last year before backing away.

The only Democrat in the race now is Lee Jones, a 56-year-old railroad engineer from Overland Park who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004.

Insiders say Jones is not positioned to give Roberts, a Republican, a major challenge.

More later.

"He'd like some clarity on the presidential race before pulling the trigger" presumably means that Slattery is waiting to see what the likelihood is that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee. Leaving aside other questions over issues of electability or general strength in red areas, there's little debate over the likelihood that Obama, who has Kansas ties and who had an active campaign organization running in the state in the lead up to its nominating contest on February 5, would have stronger coattails (or less negative coattails) in Kansas than would Hillary Clinton.

With Slattery in, this would likely be another one of those races that wouldn't be in the top-tier but would nevertheless potentially be competitive by November. Roberts isn't the most popular Senator in the world, and his waffling on jobs issues isn't going to make him more well-liked. What's more, Kansas is seemingly becoming more purple (coming from a deep red), with Democratic congressional candidates in the state picking up 49.6 percent of the statewide two-party House vote in 2006. So with a candidate who has a number of wins in the state under his belt like Slattery (he served the State in the House of Representatives for a dozen years), this could end up on the map -- particularly in the instance that Roberts slips somehow. And at the least, a Slattery candidacy would help put the Republicans on the defensive in yet another state, thus helping the broader cause of bringing more and better Democrats to the United States Senate.

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Wichita Eagle: Moran considering 2010 run, but for what?

The Wichita Eagle is reporting that 2010 might finally be the year for famously indecisive Republican U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran (KS-01) to run for either the Senate or for governor.  The story is HERE.

Brownback's seat will be up in 2010 and, due to term limits, there will be no incumbent in the gubernatorial race.  Moran could be interested in either.

Unfortunately for Democrats, this isn't a case of an isolated member of Congress who has never run a statewide race.  Since District 1 covers most of the state, any Kansas practically has to been living under a rock not to have heard of him.  Practically everyone except for Governor Sebelius -- a match-up which could happen only if this was a Senate race -- would start out with a serious name-recognition disadvantage if they ran against him.

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KS-Sen: Slattery May Jump in Race This Week

Last night I wrote about the 2010 Kansas Senate race, which may feature popular Governor Kathleen Sebelius as the Democratic nominee. In the post I wrote that "the Democrats have a great chance of winning a Senate election in the state for the first time since 1932 (unless, of course, they are able to knock off Pat Roberts this cycle, which while difficult would not be impossible)" [emphasis added]. Well, the difficult could become slightly less difficult this week.

According to my sources, former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery is nearing a decision on a potential run against Republican Senator Pat Roberts in Kansas this cycle. Such a decision could come as early as this week.

Last month I did a little write up on Slattery's candidacy that included this brief overview of the environment:

Now I'm not under the delusion that this would be an easy win for Slattery. Sure, unweighted simple averaging shows that Kansas Democrats received about 49.6 percent of the statewide two-party vote for Congress last fall, winning two of four seats in the state. Sure, both Governor Sebelius and Paul Morrison, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, both received about 58 percent of the vote last fall. But Kansas is a tough nut for any Democrat to crack, particularly in a presidential election.

That said, and I'm going without much knowledge of Slattery (where's my 1994 Almanac of American Politics when I need it...), but it would seem that he could at least give the Democrats a chance to play in Kansas, something they haven't done in a Senate election in the state in a long time. And though Kansas would probably stack up as the Democrats' 12th, 13th or 14th best pick-up opportunity in the Senate, such large swings have been seen in the past (the GOP most recently picked up 12 seats in 1980, the Democrats last picked up 13 seats in 1958).

While a month ago I didn't put Kansas in the top-10 pickup opportunities for the Democrats in 2008 with Slattery in the race, looking back it's possible that such a race could rank as high as 9 or 10 for the Democrats next fall, depending on how things shake out. Either way, it seems likely that the Democrats would have a better shot at picking up this seat with Slattery in than with Slattery not in.

For those interested in learning more about the former Congressman, head over to the Senate 2008 Guru for a very good and informative writeup.

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Red State Dem Govs Look Strong for 2010 Senate Runs

Well, there's no better time than right after the end of a fundraising quarter when we have a second to breathe before the coming quarter's fundraising blitz begins to look ahead for a brief moment to the next cycle. I've already noted just how good Arizona's popular Democratic Governor, Janet Napolitano, looks in relation to Republican Senator John McCain, who is up for reelection in 2010. Now I'd like to focus on a couple of even redder states -- Kansas and Oklahoma -- where the Democrats may have real shots of victory in 2010.

In Kansas, with Republican Senator Sam Brownback is expected to retire as promised at the end of the next cycle, the Democrats have a great chance of winning a Senate election in the state for the first time since 1932 (unless, of course, they are able to knock off Pat Roberts this cycle, which while difficult would not be impossible). The Democrats have been resurgent in the state, winning not only a second consecutive gubernatorial election last fall but also picking up the Attorney General position by a wide margin as well. So who better, then, than Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius to run for Senate next cycle? According to SurveyUSA polling from September, Sebelius' approval spread is 68 positive/27 negative, with even more conservatives and Republicans approving than disapproving of the job she is doing. While these numbers might come down during the course of a competitive campaign, the fact remains that Sebelius would be quite the formidable candidate, particularly in an open seat race.

Just to the South of Kansas, Democrats also have the possibility of winning their first senatorial election since 1990 in Oklahoma (again, unless the Democrats can knock off Jim Inhofe this cycle, which is a distinct possibility). Freshman Republican Senator Tom Coburn isn't terribly well-liked as a result of his, well, unorthodox and extreme right positions, and is as such potentially vulnerable next cycle. For a Democratic challenger to go up against Coburn one need look no further than Democratic Governor Brad Henry, who won reelection over Republican Congressman Ernest Istook by a remarkable 2-to-1 margin last fall. According to SurveyUSA polling, Henry is even more popular in Oklahoma than Sebelius is in Kansas, with an approval rating of 75 percent and a disapproval rating of just 21 percent. Even 72 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of conservatives give him high marks.

While neither Sebelius nor Henry would be among the most progressive members of the Senate -- in fact they'd likely be among the most conservative Democrats in the chamber -- victories by the two of them, as well as a win by Napolitano in Arizona, could help put the Democrats in a position to really make a difference legislatively with a majority of 60 seats or even more. At the least, the three red state Governors would provide a serious buffer against any blowback the Democrats might see in 2010 should they in fact win the presidency and hold on to Congress next fall.

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