Draft Congressman Tom Udall for Senate

I mentioned it in an update to my post noting the news that New Mexico's long-serving Republican Senator Pete Domenici will be retiring next year rather than seeking reelection, but we're trying to put together an effort to draft Congressman Tom Udall into the race for United States Senate.

For those who don't know too much about Udall, here's a quick primer. Udall comes from a leading Western political family that currently has three members serving in the Congress and that has also had other members previously serve in Congress, state legislatures, mayoralties and state supreme courts around the region. Udall's first cousin Mark (who is also a Congressman) is running for Senate as a Democrat in Colorado this cycle, and another cousin, Gordon Smith, is also running for reelection to the United States Senate, though as a Republican.

Udall has represented New Mexico in the United States House of Representatives since 1999 after having previously served for eight years as the state's Attorney General and three years as the state's Assistant United States Attorney. During his time on Capitol Hill, Udall has racked up a fairly progressive voting record. Back in May, for instance, Udall voted against the Iraq supplemental funding legislation that did not include a timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from the country. In short, he doesn't vote perfectly 100 percent of the time, but he is a solid progressive and would presumably continue to be one should he be elected to the United States Senate.

Looking at the dynamics of this race, Udall would have a good shot at winning next fall should he get in the race. As alluded to above, Udall has already won two statewide contests in New Mexico in addition to his five House wins, so he has a proven track record of being able to win in this highly competitive state. (On the presidential level New Mexico is one of the most competitive states in the nation, with Al Gore defeating George W. Bush in the state by about 300 votes in 2000 and Bush topping Kerry in the state by about 6,000 votes in 2004.) Udall would also come into this race in a strong financial position, with more than $715,000 in the bank as of the end of July and likely more on hand as of the end of September -- money that could all be transfered to a Senate campaign.

So what we're trying to do is help cajole Udall into this race by sending $5 contributions to his campaign through the Draft Tom Udall for Senate page set up on ActBlue earlier today. The total amount of money sent to his campaign is not nearly as important as the total number of donors. So if you'd like to help make a 60-seat Democratic majority in the Senate a reality -- and, perhaps more importantly, send a real progressive to the United States Senate -- make a $5 contribution today to the ActBlue Draft Tom Udall for Senate page.

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NM-Sen: Pete Domenici to Retire

With "Pajamas" Pete Domenici's approval rating in his home state of New Mexico falling all the way down to 41 percent last month from 64 percent back in February, a lot of folks began to wonder, Just when is the senior Republican Senator, who is up for reelection this cycle, going to retire? Chris Cillizza has the answer to this burning question.

Veteran Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire from the Senate in 2008, according to several informed sources, a decision that further complicates an already difficult playing field for Republicans next November.

Domenici has struggled with health problems over the last several years and has been dogged by questions about the role he may have played in the firing of U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias in Albuquerque. As a result, he had been long been rumored as a potential retirement. He joins Republican Sens. John Warner (Va.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Wayne Allard (Colo.) on the sidelines for 2008.

As I've said before, it's right time for Congressman Tom Udall, who already has one cousin in the Senate and will soon have another, to jump into this race. Udall already has a decent amount of money to form a Senate campaign -- more than $715,000 as of the end of July, and likely more now -- and would be a formidable candidate. Almost regardless of whether he is the Democratic nominee or another strong candidate emerges, this race now moves into the top-5 pickup opportunities for Senate Democrats this cycle.

More to come as this story develops...

Update [2007-10-3 17:24:40 by Jonathan Singer]: I have set up an ActBlue page soliciting support for an effort to Draft Congressman Tom Udall into this race. If you want to help ensure that New Mexico sends a new progressive voice to the United States Senate next fall, make a $5 contribution through this ActBlue page to Udall's House campaign committee, the funds from which can be directly transferred to a Senate campaign. The amount of money is not what we're looking for -- it's the number of contributions. So make your $5 contribution today to Draft Tom Udall for Senate.

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Domenici is retiring

(originally wrote this before Jonathan posted on the front page..)

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post is reporting that Pete Domenici (R-NM) will announce tomorrow that he not running for reelection.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/20 07/10/sen_pete_domenici_expected_to.html ?nav=rss_blog

Things just keep getting worse for the RSCC, don't they?

Bill Richardson would be our strongest candidate, but I doubt he'd jump in early -- but if he doesn't do well in the early contests, maybe it wouldn't be too late for him to enter.

In the meantime, there is bound to be a lot of jockeying with candidates... another great Democratic pick-up opportunity (and maybe Wilson and/or Pearce will jump in and open up one or two house seats as well!)

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NM-Sen: Paging Tom Udall

Once Senator Pete Domenici got implicated in the prosecutor purge scandal at the beginning of the year, the New Mexico Republican saw his approval rating fall quite precipitously quite quickly, moving from 64 percent to 52 percent from February to May. For the following three months Domenici was able to maintain this level of support. But since August, signs have indicated that Domenici's numbers have plummeted. Take a look at the latest SurveyUSA numbers:

Approve41 (52)
Disapprove54 (41)

One poll can always be an aberration, so I'd probably wait at least a bit before writing of Pete Domenici. But given that Domenici is up for reelection in a state in which Democrats have been able to win statewide in recent years and his approval rating has floated around the 50 percent marker for several months, perhaps dipping significantly below 50 percent this month, it would be well worth it for the Democrats to take a real hard look at this race (as I have argued for close to a year, even before Domenici was caught walking around the Senate in his pajama bottoms, let alone when he got caught up in the prosecutor purge scandal).

So isn't it about time for Congressman Tom Udall to jump in this race? He's popular within the state and comes from a well respected political family, with one cousin already in the Senate (Gordon Smith) and another likely on his way (Mark Udall). He has a good deal of money in his campaign coffers -- $716,045.39 as of the end of July -- and access to much more were he to jump in the race. If you'd like to see him get in this race, making sure this is one of the Democrats' best pickup opportunities in 2008, send a nice email asking him to get in to Contact-at-UdallForUsAll-dot-org.

More Evidence of A Blueing America

Yesterday we saw SurveyUSA general election match-ups out of New Mexico and Iowa that confirmed what has become conventional wisdom: these two states that went for Bush in 2004 by the slimmest of margins will likely go Dem in 2008. In these two states, the best any of the top three Republicans can do is tie Obama in New Mexico. Notably the Democrat is at or above 50% in all but two match-ups (Clinton reaches 50% in all of her match-ups.) In other words, what in 2004 were true swing states, are looking downright blue in 2008.

Similarly, it appears that what in 2004 were considered solid red states, are now looking quite swingy. Check out these new SurveyUSA general election match-ups out of Virginia (h/t TPM Election Central):

Clinton (D) 50%, Giuliani (R) 44%
Clinton (D) 50%, Thompson (R) 43%
Clinton (D) 53%, Romney (R) 38%
Obama (D) 46%, Giuliani (R) 45%
Thompson (R) 47%, Obama (D) 45%
Obama (D) 50%, Romney (R) 38%
Edwards (D) 48%, Giuliani (R) 43%
Edwards (D) 49%, Thompson (R) 39%
Edwards (D) 52%, Romney (R) 33%

Again, only 1 match-up results in a Democrat losing and Clinton is at or over 50% against every Republican. This is the state that Mary Matalin recently said is "trending purple, but only purple.  It's a--it's still a red state." Mm hmm. Wonder what she'd have to say about a similar phenomenon in Missouri:

Giuliani (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 45%
Clinton (D) 48%, Thompson (R) 45%
Clinton (D) 51%, Romney (R) 40%
Obama (D) 46%, Giuliani (R) 44%
Obama (D) 48%, Thompson (R) 45%
Obama (D) 51%, Romney (R) 40%
Edwards (D) 47%, Giuliani (R) 42%
Edwards (D) 50%, Thompson (R) 40%
Edwards (D) 56%, Romney (R) 32%

Virginia and Missouri were swing states in Kerry's dreams. Bush ended up taking them by 8 points and 7 points respectively. Assuming the 2008 Democratic nominee takes John Kerry's 252 electoral vote base, Virginia with its 13 electoral votes plus Missouri with its 11 would deliver the Democratic nominee a win with 276 EVs. Add New Mexico (5 EVs) and Iowa (7 EVs) to that and the Democrat is up to 288, 2 better than Bush got in 2004. And that's conceding Florida and Ohio to the Republican.

Caveats about how long we have to go before the election and the relatively low name recognition of Thompson and Romney apply, of course, but these trends are encouraging indeed.

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