Final Second Quarter Push: "Mr. Ensign, Tear Down This Firewall!"

Goal ThermometerThe time is now to candidates on the MyDD Road to 60 Act Blue page. It's not only the case that the end of the quarter is fast approaching -- it's tonight, so contributions you make tomorrow and onward aren't generally going to show up on candidates' campaign finance filings until the middle of October.

Todd will be running down the reasons why we're supporting Rick Noriega down in Texas a little later today. You can read a whole lot about Jim Slattery of Kansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi, and Kay Hagan in the profiles of each candidate we have already posted to MyDD.

For those who aren't huge fans on long-ish posts (I know I find getting through them a bit of an effort at times), here's a quick(er) (or at least bulleted) run-down of what this effort is about:

  • Getting to 60 votes in the Senate is important for legislation. The Republicans are setting records for filibustering important legislation from Iraq to energy to the economy to healthcare. Simply put, the more Democrats there are in the Senate, the greater the likelihood of progressive legislation being enacted (particularly if Barack Obama is elected).
  • Sixty votes are also important for judicial nominations. Do not underestimate the Republicans' stomach for filibustering judicial nominees, particularly an Obama pick for the Supreme Court. It's a bit cliche to say that the balance of the Court is in jeopardy -- but it really is. With the prospect of some of the more progressive members of the Court retiring in the next few years, we need a Democratic president -- and a Democratic Senate willing to approve of nominees to the bench -- in order to ensure that conservatives can't turn back the clock to the 1800s (and don't think for a second that they don't want to).
  • Making the Senate more progressive matters. It is great to support the most progressive candidates. I am a big proponent of electing progressives. It's a big part of the reason why I was happy to be a part of the Draft Udall effort and why I have spoken out in favor of candidates like Donna Edwards in the past. But electing someone who is progressive on most, but not all issues to replace a right of center quasi-moderate Republican makes the entire Senate more progressive as a whole. It's a net move. Even electing a moderate Democrat who is more conservative than the mean on some issues while more progressive than the mean on others (say Musgrove for instance) to replace an extremely conservative obstructionist (like Trent Lott, whose seat Musgrove would take if victorious) makes the entire chamber more progressive. In short, it's better to have someone voting with you even 50 percent of the time than just 10 or 20 percent.
  • Shooting for 60 increases the likelihood of big pickups. If you don't compete, you can't win. Beyond that, with the DSCC holding close to an 80 percent advantage over the NRSC in cash-on-hand, it's important to press that edge and spread the GOP so thin that it can't defend itself anywhere.

So to reiterate, the time is now to make your contribution. We're looking for 60 contributions by the end of the night tonight, with each candidate on the Act Blue page showing at least 25 contributions. It's a modest goal, no doubt, but one that's nevertheless important to meet. Even $10, $25 or $50 would go a long way. So please hit up the Road to 60 page today.

Update [2008-6-30 11:1:37 by Josh Orton]: Need one last kick in the pants to convince you? Republicans worry that with any more than three losses, conservatism will be in trouble:

During a meeting with journalists on Thursday, Senator Ensign gamed several of the most competitive races for Republicans this year, and talked about his desire to hold their losses to just three seats in the Senate. His pitch to donors and supporters is that Republicans in the Senate could be the “firewall” against a potential Obama presidency and a strengthened House leader in Nancy Pelosi.
Break down the firewall.

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Road to 60: Ronnie Musgrove for Mississippi

This week we announced our Road to 60 Act Blue page, an effort to increase the likelihood that there will be 60 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate during the 111th Congress -- and thus enough strength to overcome the seemingly unending Republican filibuster efforts that have derailed key pieces of legislation on issues ranging from Iraq to the economy to energy to healthcare. With the end of the quarter coming up on Monday night, and campaigns, party committees and other potential supports beginning to make some of the important decisions about where to allocate resources during the final four months of the campaign, the time is NOW to make your voice heard. So please consider helping out the Road to 60 effort today.

Earlier this week Todd introduced Mark Begich of Alaska and I introduced Jim Slattery of Kansas. Now it is my pleasure to introduce Ronnie Musgrove, the former Governor of the state of Mississippi who has a great shot at becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate election in the state since 1982 -- and, in the process, win back Trent Lott's seat.

Musgrove is an important addition to this list. He is one of the key cogs in the Democratic efforts to forge a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. Currently, the polling is fairly consistent in tracking this race: Musgrove is highly competitive -- and might even have a slight advantage over the incumbent Republican, Roger Wicker, who was appointed to his position earlier this year following Trent Lott's decision to leave the Senate to pursue other opportunities. Polling on the race commissioned last month by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee found Musgrove leading by an 8-point margin over Wicker, 48 percent to 40 percent. Research 2000 polling for Daily Kos that included the partisan affiliation of the two candidates (note that party affiliation will not be on the ballot in November, just as it was not in the special election in the state's first congressional district this spring in which Democrat Travis Childers sailed to victory), showed Wicker narrowly leading within the margin of error in May, 46 percent to 42 percent. Rasmussen Reports polling released this month showed Musgrove ahead 47 percent to 46 percent, also within the margin of error.

On top of the polling out of Mississippi showing Musgrove at least competitive with Wicker, and perhaps even ahead, the prospect of the Obama campaign targeting Mississippi, or at least organizing the vote in the state -- the first time a Democratic presidential campaign has really looked at the state in upwards of a generation -- could mean an energized Democratic base, more Democrats voting, and thus an increased likelihood of Musgrove winning. So in short, Musgrove can win.

The Hotline and The Fix both put this race among the 10 most competitive this cycle -- square within the range of the races that the Democrats need to pick up in order to hit the number 60. The Cook Political Report calls the race a "tossup", and though the Rothenberg Political Report gives a "clear advantage" to Wicker in this race (in rankings that came out prior to the release of the three aforementioned polls), all in all it looks like this race really could go either way.

It would be intellectually dishonest to argue that he would be one of the more progressive members of the Senate if elected. In fact, he would likely be one of the most, if not the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus in the chamber if he wins in November. If this were the complete story on the race, I wouldn't be writing this post today asking for support for Musgrove's candidacy. But it isn't the complete story.

First, I have little doubt that Musgrove would be more progressive than Wicker on a range of issues. As such, his election would almost undoubtedly make the entire chamber more progressive (even if it would add another conservative to the Democratic caucus). But more importantly, Musgrove would vote with the Democrats on key procedural votes much more often than Wicker. While Musgrove might not always vote with the party on the underlying measure, he would be a significantly more reliable vote on procedural votes -- cloture votes to help override a Republican filibuster -- than Wicker. This, in and of itself, is reason to support Musgrove.

Beyond that, having a competitive race in Mississippi greatly increases the Democrats' chances nationwide. Mississippi is not the type of state that the Republicans should have to invest in. George W. Bush won in the state easily during both of his presidential runs, and the state has sent two Republicans to the United States Senate for the last two decades.

However, the winds are beginning to blow in the other direction in the state. Last month Travis Childers overwhelmingly won in the state's first congressional district, which tends to lean about 10 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. The polling on the Wicker-Musgrove race mentioned above underscores this fact.

And because Musgrove is competitive, the Republicans are going to have to dump money into the state -- money they didn't account for going into the state at the beginning of the cycle, money that they can't really afford to spend.

At this point, Wicker has a lot more cash in the bank than does Musgrove, which is about the only saving grace for the GOP in Mississippi at this juncture. But you can help make a difference. Head over to the Road to 60 Act Blue page and make a contribution today. Even $5, $10 or $25 before the end of the day Monday, which marks the end of the filing period for the second quarter of the year, would make a huge difference.

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CO-Sen: Second Straight Poll Puts Udall Up 9 Points

Though the Senate fundraising efforts on this site are focused on the Road to 60 ActBlue list, which includes the races that will take the Democrats right up to the threshold of a 60-vote filibuster-proof supermajority in the chamber (yes, this is a plug for the list -- go make a contribution today, even of $5, $10 or $25), that doesn't mean we won't be paying attention to all of the other races.

In Colorado, for instance, nonpartisan polling released last week showed Democratic Congressman Mark Udall leading former Republican Congressman Bob Schaffer by a 9-point margin. Today the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released its own polling on the race that found the exact same spread:

After months of defending his links to big oil companies and battling scandals over ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff and convicted felon Bill Orr, Colorado Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer has fallen nine points behind Democratic Congressman Mark Udall, according to a new poll taken for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.  Udall leads Schaffer 46% to 37% in the new poll, which was conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang Research group.  


The poll also shows Udall with more intense support than Schaffer, with 57% of his voters saying they strongly support him, as opposed to only 43% of Schaffer voters who strongly back him.  Sixteen percent of respondents to the poll said the country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 72 percent who said it was moving on the wrong track.  The poll of 807 likely voters was taken June 15 to 17 and has a 3.5% margin of error.

There appears to be quite a bit of movement in this race as of late -- and none of it looks good for Schaffer. Take a gander, for example, at the trend found over at According to the site's estimate, Udall now leads Schaffer by a 47.6 percent to 39.1 percent margin. Only a few months ago the two were at near parity in the state; the trend since the spring, however, has shown Udall steadily climbing while Schaffer steadily descends. The fact that this race is only the Democrats' fourth best pick-up opportunity in the Senate at this juncture speaks volumes about the state of the race -- and the Democrats' real shot at winning big enough to get a sufficiently sizable majority in the chamber to get a whole lot done in the 111th Congress.

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Road to 60: Jim Slattery for Kansas

Earlier today Josh first introduced MyDD's "Road to 60" list for 2008, which is already drawing some attention. To begin the profiles of the candidates initially selected for the list, I would like to present former Democratic Congressman Jim Slattery, a man who aspires to become the first Democratic Senator from Kansas in 70 years.

This fall, Slattery will be pitted against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, an arch conservative perhaps best known among these parts for spending years as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee obstructing a key report on pre-Iraq War intelligence. Roberts' voting record is truly abysmal, his vote being key to Senate Republicans' strategy of setting the record for filibusters in a Congress. Among some of the more noxious votes of Roberts: repeatedly voting against health care for veterans including mental health (PTSD); voting against allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices; voting against increasing mileage standards for cars (CAFE) while voting in favor of tax cuts for oil companies... the list goes on. It's little wonder, then, that more Kansans disapprove of the job that Roberts is doing as Senator than at any other point in the last three years.

While Roberts has been, and if reelected would continue to be, a key cog in the GOP obstruction racket, Slattery would be an important vote for the Democratic majority in the Senate, one that would help break Republican filibusters. Slattery would not likely be the most progressive member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate; however, judging by his track record, he would likely be more progressive than not and, above all, a loyal Democrat. For starters here's Matt Stoller, with whom Slattery met last week (along with others from the Netroots including myself), on some of Slattery's positions in and out of Congress:

He was well-versed and passionate around progressive issues and told me he supported network neutrality (Google's definition where tiering is allowable but content discrimination is not).  What impressed me was Slattery's record in Congress; he helped author the Clean Air Act and fought against Reagan's ploy to send military aid to the Contras in the 1980s.

Also, take a look at the 1993 vote on the Clinton budget when Slattery was still in the House of Representatives, a vote I think is very instructive. It was this vote that helped put in place the policies that led to a balanced budget and, some might argue, helped spur some of the economic prosperity enjoyed during the Clinton administration. A significant portion of the Democratic caucus in the House -- nearly 15 percent, in fact -- voted against the budget. Despite this trend and the political price he could have potentially faced, Slattery voted in favor of the Clinton budget, helping the measure attract 219 votes, and thus get passed into law. This was no easy vote. Many other red state members voted against the measure, as did others who like Slattery were running for higher office in 1994. Yet when push came to shove on the 1993 Clinton budget vote, Slattery was willing to stand with his party.

Slattery's contribution record in recent years also indicated the extent to which he has been supportive of the Democratic Party since leaving office in 1995. Over the past several years, Slattery has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic cause, backing not only incumbents and Democratic committees but also challengers and open seat race candidates alike.

But even moving beyond the type of Senator Slattery would be if elected -- and I do think he would be a good one for Kansas -- a Slattery victory would be important on a number of levels. For one, no Democrat since 1932 has won a Senate election in Kansas. That's right, 1932; Slattery would be the first Democrat in nearly eight decades to win a Senate election in Kansas. There is little symbolically that could top that.

And Slattery has a real shot at victory. During the first 12 days of his campaign, Slattery raised a whopping $288,000 -- not yet enough to reach financial parity with Roberts, but a great start nonetheless. What's more, the trend out of Kansas is looking better and better, with voters in the state increasingly willing to vote Democratic. Most recently in 2006, popular Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius won reelection easily and the Democratic slate for the House of Representatives won a more than respectable 49.6 percentage share of the statewide two-party congressional vote.

The polling on the race confirms that this has a real potential to be competitive. Recent surveys have shown Roberts struggling to get 50 percent of the vote in a head-to-head match-up against Slattery -- which is remarkable in and of itself considering the Democrats' track record in Senate elections in the state. The latest nonpartisan poll on the race from Rasmussen Reports shows Roberts up by just a 48 percent to 39 percent margin -- a single-digit spread.

Don't just take my word on the competitiveness of the Roberts-Slattery race. This weekend The Topeka Capital Journal reported under the headline "Slattery making gains in race" that "momentum [...] may be swinging toward the Democratic challenger."

The last point I will make on this race is this: Regardless of whether Slattery wins (and I do think he has a real shot at victory), his running of a competitive race greatly increases the likelihood of the Democrats ending up with 60 seats (or close to it) come January. Every dollar the Democrats spend spreads the GOP thinner and thinner by forcing Republicans to invest time in money in races they would otherwise spend on the more watched races from the more traditionally swing states. With the National Republican Senatorial Committee holding just 56 percent of the cash-on-hand of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Republicans will really have to ask themselves whether they can really afford to try to defend a seat in a state like New Hampshire or Colorado, where they already trail, when if they don't invest in a state like Kansas they could end up losing the seat as well.

So if you want to help the Democrats build a 60-seat majority for the next Congress, one that is significantly less susceptible to Republican filibusters on a whole host of important issues (including judicial nominations -- don't think for a second that they wouldn't try to obstruct a replacement for some of the more progressive members of the Supreme Court if Obama were elected this fall regardless of their posturing on the topic in recent years), head over to the "Road to 60" page today and make a contribution for Jim Slattery for Senate. Even $5, $10, or $25 could make a difference, so make your voice heard today.

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GOP Committees Nearly Catch Up to Dem Committees in May

After nearly a year and a half into the 2008 cycle, which has seen the Democratic campaign committees generally hold a 50 percent or even 100 percent cash-on-hand advantage over their Republican counterparts, the GOP committees have finally begun to catch up (or at least the Republican National Committee has). Take a look at the latest numbers filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday:

CommitteeMay ReceiptsMay DisbursementsMay Cash-on-HandMay Debts & Obligations
DSCC (est.) $5,920,000.00$4,950,000.00$38,530,000.00$0
NRSC (est.)$4,890,000.00$2,700,000.00$21,560,000.00$0

The congressional campaign committees for the Democrats continue to hold about a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over those of the Republicans, strongly suggesting that those who believe that the two parties' efforts to control the 111th Congress will be financially on par are just not right. The Democrats' 7-to-1 advantage among House campaign committees is particularly remarkable.

Obviously the numbers from the Republican and Democratic national committees leave room for concern. The RNC is raising a huge amount of money -- no doubt in part because John McCain is soliciting contributions in amounts approaching $100,000 in value, a huge chunk of which goes to the national committee -- and the DNC isn't matching it. Yet. If you want to help eat away at that difference, head over to Act Blue today and make a contribution.


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