Stop the Debate, Loose in '08

That should be our slogan for the next 20 months.

The following people deserve to be defeated in 2008, and here's my advice to Senator Schumer on who can defeat them;

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Is Pete Domenici Ready for Prime Time?

Last week I took a gander at the potential for a real race for Senate in New Mexico this cycle due to the rumors that incumbent Republican Pete Domenici is on his way to retirement despite his statements otherwise. In short, there are a number of reasons why one might believe (as many do) that Domenici will opt not to run again, opening up a strong pick-up opportunity for the Democrats. But if my post were not enough to convince you that something might be up with Sen. Domenici, perhaps this report from Roll Call's Mary Ann Akers (sorry, subscription required) might make you change your mind (h/t Wonkette).

Pajama Party ... or Not. We had a number of reports Friday that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) was wandering the halls of Senate office buildings in his jammies.

Two staffers said they saw the Senator wearing "tartan" or "buffalo plaid" pajama bottoms and a "loose-fitting shirt." By the end of the day, one informant called to say she heard Domenici was walking around in his boxers. But by that point, we already had spoken to the Senator, who assured us, "These aren't pajamas! They're hunting pants!"

These are not the actions of someone who is tasked with running for reelection over the next two years as is Sen. Domenici, who is quoted as saying, "I'm still going to run again, and win again." Make no mistake: this is not a mere Ted Stevens wearing an Incredible Hulk tie, this is a Senator potentially ambling around the halls of Congress in only his underwear. If this isn't a borderline Jim Bunning moment, I don't know what is. And though Bunning was able to ride George W. Bush's long coattails to a narrow victory over a largely unknown state senator in 2004, Domenici will not likely have as much cover from the 2008 Republican nominee (regardless of who he is) given the more even partisan balance in New Mexico.

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NM-Sen: On the Map for '08 -- or Not?

While the path to extending the Democratic majority in the United States is most easily traversed in states like Colorado and Minnesota, the opportunity for gains on the order we saw on November 7 would require the Democrats to make a real pass at races that may on their surface appear excessively difficult today but could, with significant effort, be made more competitive.

Take, for instance, New Mexico, where the seat currently held by 74 year-old Republican Senator Pete Domenici will be up in 2008. Domenici has indicated an interest in running for reelection, but that has not stopped many from speculating that in the end he might not. After all, while Domenici has a relatively good relationship with his junior Senator, Jeff Bingaman, who as the ranking member of the Energy Committee will be taking the gavel from Domenici in January, he will no doubt have less clout in the minority than he had in the majority and thus is not quite as enticing as it otherwise might seem.

Domenici does not have a terribly large warchest, with only about $264,000 on hand as of the end of September, though his 68 percent approval rating could scare off potential competitors. One such Democrat, three-term Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, is strongly considering a run -- but only if Domenici doesn't. Yet inside Domenici's rather high approval rating are some notes of caution for the Republican Senator. While his numbers are bouyed by favorable marks from Democrats, who make up a majority of voters in the state, those numbers could and most likely would come down during a contested election. It's also worth noting that Domenici's numbers among Independents are even lower than they are among Democrats.

Looking more broadly at the political environment in the state, although GOP Rep. Heather Wilson was able to pull of a narrow reelection victory this fall, she was (perhaps) only able to do so due to a rather serious flub by her Democratic challenger during a debate late in the campaign. What's more, Democratic Governor Bill Richardson coasted to a 69 percent victory carrying all but one county in the state -- and losing that one by only five votes.

At present, I would not rate New Mexico as one of the best pick-up opportunities for the Democrats in 2008. In fact, I probably wouldn't even rate it in the top-five. That said, if it can be made clear to Sen. Domenici that a) he has little to gain by running for another term, only to end up serving in the minority, and b) that he would face a strong and well-financed challenge from the Democrats, we might be able to cajole him into retiring in grace rather than losing in ignominy. And if we are able to do so, New Mexico will be one of the Democrats' best opportunities for 2008.

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It's Official (For Now): Stevens and Domenici to Run

According to politics1.com, Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) will run for reelection in 2008.

Stevens, who will be 86, will be running for his seventh full term in the Senate.  Having been appointed in 1968, he's the most senior Republican in the Senate.  Domenici, first elected in 1972, will also be running for his seventh term.  Domenici will be 76 in 2008.

Domenici's decision to run for reelection likely takes one potential pickup off the table for 2008.  With Domenici out, Democrats would have had a legitimate shot at taking a Senate seat in a true bellwether state (since statehood in 1912, New Mexico has voted for every Presidential popular vote winner except Jimmy Carter in 1976.)  While we wouldn't have a great chance of winning an open seat in Alaska, it's a better shot than we have against Stevens, who is as safe as they come.

So write off Alaska and New Mexico -- but we should still be good to hold the Senate.

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How top candidates can help Dems sweep New Mexico

I'm not sure why Rasmussen decided to waste time polling these two races.  There is a much more competitive and important race in NM in the First Congressional district, with Patricia Madrid and Heather Wilson neck and neck.


But at least this is some good news for Democrats.  Richardson and Bingaman both have hefty leads, and look to cruise to victory.  Which leads to a question -- what can they do to help those down on the ballot?


First, the poll numbers.

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