Senate Rankings: GOP prospects improve, Democrats still in drivers's seat

It has been more than two months since my last Senate rankings. With the presidential primaries on every one's mind, congressional races are looking less urgent, not to mention that there was just very little news coming out of down-the-ballot contests during the holiday period. But a lot has changed since the beginning of November -- starting with the number of Senate elections that will be decided in 2008. Trent Lott's shocking decision to prioritize lobbying over holding the position he was elected to a year before has added a 35th race to our rankings, and has expanded the map for Democrats with an unexpected opportunity.

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NM-Sen: Chavez Dropped Out; What Does That Mean for NM?

Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP

The two most dispirited people after hearing the news of Martin Chavez dropping out of the Senate race have to be Republican Senate candidates Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce.  The two will almost undoubtedly be involved in a contentious and expensive Republican primary, while Udall coasts to easy victory in the Democratic contest.

That will allow Udall to raise more money and have near-universal support among Democrats in the state.  Udall would have almost undoubtedly received a majority of the support of Democrats in the primary.  But the damage Chavez could have done while in the race attacking Udall while attempting to gain traction could have proved fatal to Udall's chances in the general election.

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NM-Sen: Chavez Drops Out

Today, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez dropped his bid to challenge Tom Udall for the Democratic nomination for Senate from New Mexico. New Mexico FBIHOP has Chavez's statement, from a press release:

"Traveling my home state over the past several weeks, I have been honored to spend time with my fellow New Mexicans talking about the issues and challenges facing our state and nation.  While I deeply appreciate all the support I have received, it has become very clear to me that Democrats should not be divided in the upcoming election.  A hotly contested primary, as this one certainly would be, would likely weaken the Democratic nominee and place the general election in jeopardy." [...]

"Tom Udall has my full support.  I will work to help him and all Democrats get elected throughout our great State of New Mexico and our Nation.  As Mayor, I have many new, exciting programs that I want to bring to fruition.  I want to spend my remaining time in the Mayor's office being the very best mayor possible for all of the citizens of my home town."

A classy statement from a guy who'd previously promised to make Udall's job winning the nomination hell. The writing was on the wall, Chavez finally decided to read it. One step closer to more and better Udalls in the senate.

Update [2007-12-7 21:20:34 by Todd Beeton]:FBIHOP has more on the possible fall-out of Chavez's decision in the diaries.

Also, this is a great opportunity to go throw some money Udall's way over at the Netroots For Udall ActBlue Page.

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New Mexico: Pete Domenici Still In Pocket of Big Oil, Energy

It looks like Sen. Pete Domenici is still at it for his top donors even while he is on his way out of the Senate.  Domenici criticized an energy bill because it put too much emphasis on clean energy.  In other words, his donors have to be pissed.

What Domenici had to say in an statement, via John Fleck's excellent science blog at the ABQJournal:

"RPS places an unfair burden on states that lack the natural resources to meet a new renewable electricity standard.  Consumers that live in such states--many in the South--will undoubtedly be forced to pay substantially higher electricity rates, with no additional renewable electricity to show for it.  Why should the average rate payer in Kentucky or Mississippi be punished because their state doesn't naturally have the resources to produce this type of energy?
More under the fold.

Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP

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MyDD Interview with Tom Udall

Bumped -- Jonathan... This is a really important race, and I just wanted to bump up this interview so that folks could make sure to be able to hear it and see it. And if you want to get involved, you can still head to and the Netroots for Tom Udall Act Blue page. Also, Tuesday morning I'll be posting my interview with Congressman Mark Udall from Colorado, who's also running for the Senate, so stay tuned.

On Thursday, as a part of what became known in some circles as "More and Better Udalls in the Senate Day" because of the official announcement by Congressman Tom Udall that he would run for the Senate in New Mexico and the San Francisco fundraiser for Congressman Mark Udall (who's running for the Senate in Colorado), I had the opportunity to speak with both cousins about their campaigns. Tomorrow I'll be posting the audio and transcript of my interview with Mark, but first my interview with Tom, who agreed to be drafted to run this cycle.

You can download the interview as a large .mp3 file here, or listen to it through the player below. I have also included a rush transcript. And if you want to help out Tom's campaign, head over to the Netroots for Tom Udall page on Act Blue today.

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Jonathan Singer: Can you tell me how much a role the outgrowth of support you saw - in the Draft Udall, and also just people speaking out saying, "Run, Tom, Run" - how much that grassroots support played a role in your decision to reconsider and in fact run for the United States Senate?

Tom Udall: It played a major role in my decision to run for the United States Senate. There was within New Mexico and I think across the nation a very sincere Draft Udall movement. The blogosphere played an important part in that and I think got people involved and engaged and stirred up, and the result was that every time I was home in New Mexico people would come up to me very excited and say, "You've got to make this race."

I was at the central committee meeting, which had 200-300 Democratic activists. They had been involved and engaged and blogging. And they held up signs, "Run, Tom, Run!" Incredible enthusiasm. The way I would describe it, Jonathan, is that it played a major part in my decision.

The other significant part was about New Mexico and the nation and the role I could play in the United States Senate. This is what many of my constituents talk to me about. They say, "Tom, you've stood up on the issues, you've been a man of principle, you speak to us from the heart, we love you, and we want you to run so that you can make a difference in the Senate. We look at the Senate" - many of them told me this - "we look at the Senate as a place where legislation goes to die." And, as you know, the House has passed some pretty significant legislation on issues like the War in Iraq and ending it; healthcare for children, the SCHIP program; trying to do everything we can to get education in our schools for all of our children and improve the levels of schools just across the board; and energy, renewable energy. All of these things get out of the House and in some way seem to die in the Senate.

So that was another big part of my decision, which many of my constituents weighed in on, telling me, "You can make a difference for us, you can help empower us to fulfill our dreams, the things we want to see done in New Mexico and for the nation." And I think those were big, big factors for me in making the decision to make this race.  It was truly gratifying to see such a sincere effort out there.

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