Betty Castor, Florida's next US Senator

I'm still in Florida, working more than vacationing (first time to Florida's Keys, what a place!) this week. I stopped by and visited with the Betty Castor campaign wed afternoon in Tampa Bay. It was a bit of a funny entrance, upon arrival and looking for Larry Biddle, Castor's finance director (and a fellow warrior from the Dean campaign). The campaign has two separate offices, on the opposite sides of a busy road, so after chatting a bit with the field office, I was directed across the busy road to the finance office, near the Pie Factory, and instead of heading for the second floor, I wound up inside the Pie Factory office, with someone getting 'Larry' from the kitchen, but not the right Larry... anyway, I thought it was funny. Here's the real Larry at work raising dough for Castor's campaign. With Larry, and the campaign's webmaster Joe Jones, we followed Betty and her husband Sam to eat lunch at the Cuban place across the street. Black beans, white rice, & platanos, I know it gets more complicated than that (though not much more, for vegetarianos) but it's good enough for me. I tried to overhear the Cuban owner's remarks about Duetsch, but the gist of it was, that Castor had his vote...

I'm more like the DSCC than DailyKos in this regards, as I do like to get involved in choosing sides within the Democratic primaries. In Florida, MyDD wholeheartedly endorses Betty Castor for the US Senate in Florida. Amongst the candidates in the GOP primary, with the Miami Republicans already jumping Johnnie Byrd's sinking ship, and with McCullum having nowhere but down to go, Mel Martinez is going to win the Republican nomination, and he's going to be a strong candidate in the General. And since 2004 is the year of electability, hands down, Central Florida's Betty Castor beats the south floridian pair of Duetsch and Penelas as the Democrat most likely to beat Martinez.

Here's Joe Jones and Sam Ritzman in the field office, where we chatted about the intricacies of blogging. If the name Joe Jones sounds familiar, you probably visited one-time Presidential candidate Bob Graham's blog, of which Jones was the chief blogger.

Joe's the webmaster for Castor's campaign website BettyNet.com, and along with Sam Ritzman (on the right) from the Research & Policy side of the campaign, blogs for the campaign's BettyBlog.com.

If you're in Florida, jump on board Betty Castor's campaign and help to elect her to the US Senate.

And all of this upcoming week, follow along and help Betty climb the fundraising mountain.

Here's some recent US Senate polling

  • Alaska US Senate General Murkowski 44% Knowles 42 Sykes 2 Moore Information (R) poll; conducted for the NRSC 6/2-3; 400 RV; MoE 5%
  • Colorado GOP US Senate Primary Schaffer 34% Coors 31 Undec. 36 Basswood Research (R); 6/7/04 for Club for Growth; 500 LV GOP; MoE 4.4%
  • Maryland US Senate General Mikulski 61% Pipkin 30 Undec. 9 Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll; 6/4-9; 836 RV; MoE 3.5%
  • South Carolina GOP US Senate Primary Runoff Now 6/10/04 May/04 DeMint 46% 42% 33% Beasley 42 48 54 Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll; 6/10, 6/13-14/04 for Rep. Jim DeMint (R-04); 700 LV GOP; MoE 3.7%
  • Washington US Senate General Murray (D) 52% Nethercutt (R) 34 Undec/Other 13 Mason-Dixon poll; conducted 6/9-11/04; surveyed 625 likely voters; margin of error +/- 4.0%
Murray still got quite a bit of breathing room, and this MD poll also has Kerry leading Bush by a 46-42 percent margin, with Nader at 2 percent and 9 percent undecided. Though the SC results have a grain of salt, DeMint has much lower name recog, and Beasley was dropping in the polls in the run-up to the primary, the run-off is coming up quick, one of those classic momentum-frontrunner races down to the wire. Mikulski is safe, this isn't on the radar. Coors continues to cool, having a higher name ID but little depth of support, Schaffer is strong in his 4th CD, accounting for his lead. The race in Alaska is tossed-back the other way, it'd be good to see some non-partisan polling from this contest, though it'd too probably show a tie.

Florida's US Senate race & BettyNet.com

One of my favorites from working alongside on the Dean campaign, Larry Biddle, is now working on the Betty Castor US Senate campaign in Florida, and he's featured in an article out today, Key player in Dean campaign brings skills to Castor's Senate bid.  Here's a few clips:Now one of the key players in Dean's campaign has turned his attention to Florida, taking Betty Castor's otherwise traditional U.S. Senate campaign into a hip venture where "Bettyheads," the Betty Blog and e-mail fund raising are what's happening on "BettyNet."

Larry Biddle, former deputy campaign finance director for Dean, is credited with helping raise about $25 million - half of the $50 million raised by Dean's campaign - via the Internet. Biddle is now serving as Castor's deputy campaign manager...

"It's all about the people taking control," Biddle said. "The reason people in this country are so disaffected about politics is because they don't feel like they have any control."

So alongside voters who come to rallies and coffee-klatches, Biddle imagines a legion of Castor supporters surfing the Web at night in their pajamas, reading up on her latest stand on issues or with a few clicks of a mouse sending a donation.

The Internet effort has raised about $27,000 for Castor's campaign in the last three weeks without a specific request for campaign donations, Biddle said. Castor's campaign raised more than $1.25 million in the first quarter of this year, before BettyNet came into being.

Castor trails Deutsch and Penelas in fund raising, with the South Florida candidates both having raised about $2.9 million through the end of March.

Castor said Biddle brings a fresh approach to politics which she hopes will transcend geographic bases that often work against candidates in a large state like Florida....

"It has to have some audaciousness to it, it has to be hip," Biddle said. "People will say, 'This is not politics as usual'."

Castor is leading in the latest polls, but as noted, she trails Deutsch and Penelas in money. From the looks of it though, those two might spend too much time duking it out over S. Florida (boy, was that a bow shot by Gore on behalf of Peter's campaign) and allow Castor to maintain her lead in the polls.

As far as BettyNet.com goes, it's got a lot more interactivity than most Senate websites. They are using Convio, which is powerful for fundraising tracking, and generating detailed reports; and combining it with BettyBlog.com, which works on a separate platform, Drupal-based, and so requiring another sign-on, ugh.  

The Dean campaign did "transform the notion of cyberspace citizens into a political force" but we also had an inefficient array of technologies to work with, and probably wound up with around 5-8 different platforms, some of which were integrated and others not. Ah, the elusive SSO of which TMS will one day deliver (that's The Mighty Scoop, not the other TMS, r.i.p.).

Anyway, it was Biddle that came up with the idea of using a baseball bat to track the contributions, and it's great to see he's still got game, and has found another candidate/campaign to swing a bat... or a spoon.

Senate 2004 Outlook

Here's the MyDD Senate 2004 Outlook.  Between this and the Daily Kos Senate Outlook, you'll hopefully get your fix on the Senate contests of 2004. If you want more, there's  Bob Stokes and Larry Sabato.

Retaking the Senate for Dummies (such as myself)

Currently, Republicans control the Senate 51-48-1. However, when it comes to retaking the Senate, the numbers are actually slightly different. This is because:
  • Zell Miller is really a Republican
  • Jim Jeffords is really a Democrat
  • John Kerry will become President, and Romney will appoint a Republican
All together, this means that from the standpoint of Senate control after November 2nd, Republicans currently hold the Senate 53-47. Here is a map based on this standpoint (blue for double Democrat, red for double Republican, and purple for a split state):

In order for Democrats to be in control (even if it is the bizarre position of controlling the Senate despite being technically down 50-49-1 but controlling the Vice-Presidency and being allied with the Independent), Democrats need a net gain of three seats. In November, there are 34 Senate seats up for election. With Zell Miller as a Republican, 18 of those seats belong to Democrats, and 16 to Republicans. For Democrats to take the Senate in the highly unusual minority controlled fashion described above, they need to win 21 of these elections. To win the Senate outright, they need to win 22 of those elections (which would reproduce the 50-49-1 Democratic edge of 2001 and 2002).

Of the 18 Democratic seats, 13 are considered safe (although Washington, California, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Nevada are not hard-core locks). Of the 16 Republican seats, 9 are probably safe (although Kentucky, Ohio and New Hampshire are not in the bag). These leaves control at 46-42 Republican plus tight races, or 43-37 Republican plus all conceivable races. In the tight-race scenario, Democrats must win 9 of the 12 races to take outright control (8 for the minority control scenario). In the all conceivable races scenario, Democrats must win 14 out of 20 to take the Senate outright (13 would be enough for minority control).

The 20 states that could conceivably be close races are Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. In 2000, Bush won eight of these states by double digits. Gore won two of these states by double digits, and less than ten points decided ten.

On their excellent Senate page, Kos, Jerome and Stephan Yellin provide detailed information on all of these races. For somewhat less-informed people (such as myself), I hope this quick breakdown of the numbers needed in order for Democrats to retake control is a useful add-on.

Diaries

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