South Dakota Update

Matt Stoller also writes for BOPnews.

Tim Giago, a Native American activist running against Tom Daschle for Senate as an independent, dropped out of the race. This is good news, although keeping this seat will still be tough.

When Tim Giago, a native of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, decided to run for the Senate as an independent, he did more than shake up the state's tight, closely watched race between Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle and John Thune, a former Republican representative.

He made South Dakota's Indian Country the focal point of the campaign.

Daschle, who had the most to lose from Giago's run, now has the most to gain. After a meeting with Daschle on Saturday, Giago, a nationally syndicated columnist and advocate for Indian causes, said he is withdrawing and throwing his weight behind the Democrat.

Giago, founder of the Lakota Journal and Pueblo Journal, said in an interview Monday: "I laid out what is considered most important to the tribes of South Dakota. I went there as a sounding bell for them. And Tom listened."

I'm not a Nader-basher. Still, Ralph, this is how you influence the national dialogue.

KY Senate contest

This is one of the contests that won't get a lot of national coverage, but one issue that has gotten a lot of local play is the recent disparaging remarks made by Bunning over his opponent Dr. Mongiardo. The string of bad news is plastered on Mongiardo's website. They also have a January poll result showing Bunning leads Mongiardo 52 percent to 23 percent, but when informed of Mongiardo, Bunning's lead shrank to 46 percent to 42 percent. Just one to keep an glancing eye on now and then.

Senate 2004 Roundup

The Republicans lead is 51-49 in the US Senate. Here's the quick outlook for 2004:
  • Georgia-- For all practible purposes, the Senate is already controlled by Republicans 52-48 with Miller voting with Republicans most the time. The Democrats who seem likely to make the run-off are Leshaw and Majette, Squires is also in the running. Majette is the name ID favorite, with Squires being to the left, and Leshaw the maverick that's taking Miller's Republicrat mantle to task. The Republican primary has Isakson in the lead, with Cain and Collins battling for second and the run-off. Majette and Leshaw are probably going to make it to the run-off for Democrats. For Republicans, Cain would be interesting, as a Conservative African-American Republican in a southern run-off against a semi-moderate Isakson, and that might complicate African American turnout for Majette. According to Isakson's polling, he's at 50 percent, with Miller ahead of Cain by a 13-10 percent margin.

  • Colorado-- Make that a 51-48 seat Republican lead. Salazar seems likely to win this seat for the Democrats. Mike Miles, before Salazar jumped in the race, seemed like a longshot worth watching, but Miles should run against Rep. Musgrave instead of losing to Salazar in the Democratic primary. The GOP's Schaffer, after the top-tier said no, seemingly had all the right-wing support in a row, and then Republican Gov Owen's went and undermined Schaffer by floating Coors. The betting here is that a Coors candidacy doesn't happen. It's something about not being able to envision those rightwing fundamentals that vote for Musgrave & Tancredo walking into the voting booth and voting for the beerman. If so, then Republican's have already showed their hand, and are left without even a bluff. In the most recent polling, Salazar leads 45-35 percent over Schaffer.

  • Alaska-- All tied up at 50-50. Knowles knows how to win in Alaska, and the Murkowski karma is a biting bud in the 2004 general for the Murkowski name. There's little primary competition, so this will likely be a nip and tuck race all the way to the end. Though Bush is going to win in Alaska, but this is betting that he's not going to show coattails. 3rd party candidacies are a wildcard to look out for as we get closer to the general. The most recent poll, 4/04 shows Knowles leading Murkoswki by a 48-45 margin, with the Green candidate Sykes taking 2 percent.

  • South Dakota-- The Republican regain the majority, and oust Minority Leader Tom Daschle. So with this takeaway, it's back to a 51-49 lead for the GOP. This isn't 2002, and the general turnout for Bush is going to swamp over Daschle, in favor or Thune. Thune is not hampered by having to be in DC at all this year, and would have won in 2002 had he a stronger field operation. Zogby's most recent polling showed Daschle ahead by a 48-43 percent margin. Mason-Dixon shows a 50-43 margin. Obviously, if these margins remain, Daschle will win, but here's beting it won't last.

  • South Carolina-- And back to a 52-48 majority for the GOP with a SC takeaway. The Republicans have a six-way primary, so we really don't know who we'll see emerge from that battle. However, it's SC, and Democrats are not in good shape here, especially for the General election against Bush. Even though Tenenbaum is ahead in the polls, it's with a plurality. If Tenenbaum moves over 50% in the polls, this is worth a reconsideration. The latest poll shows Tenenbaum with a 45-40 percent lead over the Republican Condon.

  • Florida-- Democrats keep Graham's seat, and keep the gap to 52-48 again. But this all depends on who makes it out of the primaries. The leaders in the Republican primary are Martinez and McCollum, the latter leading slightly in the polls. For the Democrats, it's a three-way contest between Betty Castor, Penelas, and Deutsch. Right now, the favorites are McCollum & Castor for the General. The latest polls show McCollum ahead of Martinez, 39-18 percent, for the GOP nomination. In the Democratic primary, Castor is polling 39, Deutsch 18, and Penelas 7 percent.

  • Illinois-- 51-49 again. Obama over Ryan, probably about by the same margin of the Presidential results. This was a very competitive primary on both sides; with momentum moving in opposite directions for the two victors. Ryan moved into the general under a stall, stuck in the 30's, and Obama won running away, with around 60 percent of the Dem primary vote. Ryan has he unfortunate lastname that coincides with the scandal-plagued Governor, and the GOP's replacement in the 2002 Governor race. Obama, who has already proved his testing, is going to have this one for the taking. The latest poll (D) shows Obama leading Ryan by a 52-33 margin.

  • Oklahoma-- Democrats move into a tie 50-50 with a win in Oklahoma. Carson seems one of the most impressive candidates in the 2004 general, at least to the blogosphere. His positioning for the statewide contest is strong, and couple that with what looks like is a very competitive GOP primary (though Humphreys is still the frontrunner), and this is probably third to the Illinois & Colorado races in terms of having the liklihood of a Democratic takeaway. The most recent polling showed Carson with 28 Humphreys 22, with the other primary candidates with lesser support. There are no recent polls matching up only Carson and Humphreys.

  • North Carolina-- Bowles keeps ahold of Edwards Senate seat, and the Democrats & Republicans maintain their 50-50 tie. This matchup, between the Democrat Bowles and the Republican Burr, has been set for many months now. Bowles, despite the large losing margin in the end, ran a pretty good campaign against Dole, and by now has strong name ID in the state. Bowles doesn't face the competitive primary that he dealt with in 2002. Burr is less well-known, and doesn't have the star attraction of Dole. The most recent poll shows Bowles ahead of Burr by a 45-40 percent margin.

  • Louisiana-- This is betting against the trend, but Vitter looks like a Republican takeaway, resulting in a 51-49 lead by the GOP. That's right, Louisiana Republicans finally beat the Democrats in the traditional post-General election run-off that the state holds. Roemer might still get in the race, and complicate things for the Republicans, but that would just mean the top-two candidates might both be Republicans. John and Kennedy are battling for the Democrats, trying for now to gain the second slot in the run-off. Two recent polls have shown Vitter in front at 33 percent, and John and Kennedy locked in a tie for second around, both around 15 percent.

Note: The above are all based upon seats that will change partisan hands. Unchanged at the moment is Pennsylvania, where an upset by Toomey over Specter will change things radically. A Toomey upset of Specter looks like it's in the cards, but until then, it's Specter's General against Hoeffel to lose.


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