TX-Sen: Watts Withdraws from Race

Mikal Watts has just released a statement withdrawing from the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator from Texas.

I've included his statement under the fold, but first I'd like to thank Mikal, his family, and his supporters for their efforts.  The contest so far has helped to raise the profile of this race, and when we send a new Senator who actually represents Texas interests next year, in will be in part due to his strong entry into the race.

I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Mikal in the  Texas Democratic Party.

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Senate 2008 Guru's Week in the Senate Races

This week saw the release of August fundraising numbers, with the DSCC continuing to outpace the NRSC, $2.58 million to $2.36 million.  The NRSC continuing to get beat in fundraising month after month may be why they seem willing to exploit any fundraising opportunity, however crass and tasteless it may be.

Speaking of fundraising, Senate 2008 Guru started a new ActBlue page: the Expand the Map! ActBlue page, focusing on Senate races in states that don't typically have competitive Senate races, but could see strong competition with enough resources.  The page's inaugural campaigns are Idaho's Larry LaRocco and Oklahoma's Andrew Rice.  The first-day goal on Friday of ten contributions for both candidates was met, and we're closing in on our weekend goal of twenty contributions apiece.  With today being the last day of the third fundraising quarter of 2007, please contribute if you can!  These relatively early dollars coming in help demonstrate these campaigns' viability and competitivity.  So if you can chip in $100, that's great.  If you can chip in $5, that's great!  But, please do chip in if you can!

Also released this week were Survey USA's September poll numbers.  While Mitch McConnell's (51-40), Norm Coleman's (46-45), and Gordon Smith's (48-42) poll numbers all remained in the danger zone, the lowlight of the month was Pete Domenici's poll numbers plummetting to an atrocious 41-54.  You read that right: 41-54.  It looked like Domenici's descent in the polls as a result of his role in the Attorney Purge scandal had levelled off in the low 50's.  We'll see next month if the low 40's is an aberration or Domenici's new norm.

With Senate Republicans still stuck in the mud, it's no wonder that vulnerable political targets like Norm Coleman and John Sununu "routinely turn down" cable news interview requests.  I guess these vulnerable Republicans are too cowardly to stand up and defend their votes in favor of prolonging Bush's Iraq War and their myriad other votes putting them out-of-step with their constituents.  And here are many other stories affecting the Senate races this week:

Alaska: Hays Research conducted a poll finding that only 40% of Alaskans view Ted Stevens positively while 38% view Stevens negatively.  Further, only 43% of Alaskans said that they were likely to vote to re-elect Stevens while 45% said that they were unlikely to vote to re-elect him.  Very bad news for Stevens, especially in light of the fact that GOP Gov. Sarah Palin, perhaps the most popular elected official in the state, is leaning on Stevens to be more forthcoming with voters about his various scandals and investigations.  And that is all the more perilous for Stevens as the far-right conservative Club for Growth is seeking a primary challenger for the pork-loving Stevens.

Nebraska: Former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub backed out of the crowded Republican primary about two weeks after entering the scrum.  Nevertheless, incompetent NRSC Chair John Ensign seems to have insured a nasty primary between former Gov. and chronic quitter Mike Johanns and state Attorney General Jon Bruning when it became public that Ensign was urging local GOP leaders to help push out other opponents like Bruning in favor of Johanns.  Heckuva job, Ensign.  And it's not like Bruning hasn't already displayed a willingness to take the fight right to Johanns.  Meanwhile, as we continue to await former Senator Bob Kerrey's decision, he has laid out his current position on Iraq: "downsize the military commitment" but do not cut off funds.

Georgia: Lieutenant General David Poythress, Georgia's retiring adjutant general and a former Georgia Secretary of State and Labor Commissioner, is being eyed as a possible Senate challenger to Spineless Saxby Chambliss in 2008.  If it can't be Max Cleland, it would be great to have another military man lay out for Saxby what a coward Chambliss really is.  Also, the Athens Banner-Herald's political blogger called Chambliss out for his hypocrisy on voting against more rest time for soldiers when Chambliss himself took four deferments to get out of service in Vietnam.

Idaho: Larry Craig had his day in court this past week, but the judge says a ruling will not come until the end of this coming week at the earliest.  As such, Craig is not resigning (for the time being) and will continue his Senate work as scheduled.  GOP Gov. Butch Otter has a short list of possible replacement appointments ready to go, but he may not get the chance to use it as observers see Craig leaving rhetorical wiggle room to possibly serve out the remainder of his term regardless of the decision in his court case or to even actually consider running for re-election in 2008.  I think Craig should stick it out in order to send a message to a Senate Republican caucus that would throw him under a bus while welcoming back prostitute-lovin' David Vitter with thunderous applause.

Maine: Following a manufactured scandal in Susan Collins' 1996 Senate run in which she worked with a reporter to portray her opponent's very typical opposition research effort as a seedy witch hunt, and another manufactured scandal earlier this year in which Susan Collins wildly overreacted to the Maine Democratic Party having a staffer record her public appearances (ooh, the horror!), the Collins camp is now working to manufacture yet another dishonest political attack, trying to portray Congressman Tom Allen's impressive 98% voting record as something less than outstanding.  Collins would much rather focus on the rate of votes rather than the substance of votes, which puts her far to the right of mainstream Maine.  Meanwhile, the Rockland Courier-Gazette slammed Collins for her continued support for Bush's endless Iraq War, noting that "Collins has strayed so far into the camp of President George W. Bush that she can't free herself," and calling Collins' votes "destructive to the country and the state."

Texas: Daily Kos commissioned a poll by Research 2000 finding that John Cornyn held a 51-35 advantage over State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega. The 51-35 figure is not too dissimilar from the 53-30 figure Rasmussen Reports released almost two weeks ago, which is pretty good considering most Texans probably have never heard of Rick Noriega yet. The Research 2000 poll also found that 40% of voters would re-elect Cornyn, 15% would consider another candidate, and 35% would vote to replace Cornyn. Those numbers are very promising.

Kentucky: Another week, another opportunity for the Kentucky media to call Mitch McConnell out for "utter hypocrisy" and "selective outrage." And now the far-right conservative Club for Growth is sniffing around the Bluegrass State for a primary challenger for McConnell.

North Carolina: According to an Elon University poll, voters said that the top four issues that would "influence their vote for U.S. Senator" were The Iraq War (78%), Economy (76%), Health Care Costs (75%), and Immigration (73%).  And what were the voters' satisfaction levels with Elizabeth Dole on those four issues?  Very poor: 32% for The Iraq War, 39% for Economy, 32% for Health Care Costs, and 28% for Immigration.  Elizabeth Dole will have a very hard time defending her record if less than 40% of voters are satisfied with her on issues that about 75% of voters will be basing their vote on.

Minnesota: Senate candidate Al Franken offered a powerful op-ed in the Star Tribune this week discussing how ridiculous it is for the Senate to actually debate over the MoveOn.org ad, with Norm Coleman continuing to play politics over the issue, while our soldiers continue to fight and die in Iraq.

Tennessee: Businessman and gubernatorial son Mike McWherter took another step toward a challenge to Lamar Alexander as McWherter formed a Senate exploratory committee.  Also, it came out that www.MikeMcWherter.com was reserved back in May, just in case.

Oregon: The Oregon Democratic Party this week examined Gordon Smith's lousy records on making education affordable, global warming and Big Oil, and, in light of his company's third fine for illegally dumping wastewater into a nearby creek, environmental protection, including a lifetime 26% rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

New Jersey: Stu Rothenberg concluded that Republicans have "no reason for even a shred of optimism" in a race against Senator Frank Lautenberg.

New Hampshire: Sprintin' John Sununu was the only New England Senator of either Party to oppose the hate crimes amendment (that even New Hampshire Republican colleague Judd Gregg supported), yet again demonstrating how out of touch Sununu is with Granite State voters.

Michigan: 2002 GOP MI-Sen nominee Rocky Raczkowski is considering giving it another go.  Also, GOP state rep. Jack Hoogendyk is considering a challenge to Senator Carl Levin.  The political mood in 2002 favored Republicans even more than the 2008 political mood is shaping up to favor Democrats.  Nevertheless, Levin crushed Raczkowski 61-38 in '02.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country in 2008, check out Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.

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TX-Sen: Cornyn's Re-Elect At 40%

Kos posted a poll he commissioned Research 2000 to conduct on the Texas Senate race:

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 9/24-26. Likely voters. MoE 4% (No trend lines)

If the 2008 election for U.S. Senate were held today, would you to reelect John Cornyn, would you consider voting for another candidate, or would you vote to replace Cornyn?

Reelect 40
Consider 15
Replace 35

If 2008 election for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote for if the choices were between Rick Noriega, the Democrat, and John Cornyn, the Republican?

Cornyn (R) 51
Noriega (D) 35

For point of comparison, Cornyn won election in 2002 55%-43%. At this point in time, 35% is Noriega's baseline of support and he has plenty of room to grow as just 60% of Democrats said they support him (23% undecided.) Also, Cornyn's support is soft among Republicans. The 51% he gets in the head to head includes 81% of Republicans, but only 63% of Republicans said they want him to be re-elected. That's a big chunk of Republicans who are movable.

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Senate 2008 Guru's Week in the Senate Races

After the previous week's roller coaster ride of Senate retirements and campaign entry announcements, this past week may seem comparatively ho-hum, but there were quite a few events of note.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its list of "The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress." Of the 22, four are Senators, and all four Senators are Republicans: Pete Domenici, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, and Ted Stevens.  Further, a two-person honorable mention section includes David Vitter and Larry Craig.  Makes you proud, huh?  Also, we can add The Economist, RealClearPolitics, and CNN to the list of media outlets expecting significant Democratic successes in the 2008 Senate races.  WaPo's Cillizza's latest 10-seat Senate Line was posted, again featuring 8 Republican vulnerabilities and only 2 Democratic vulnerabilities, now with South Dakota in the ten-spot, on the brink of leaving the list of vulnerable seats.

And the events of the week from the races around the country, including lots of new polling:

Nebraska: Former Gov. Mike Johanns resigned his post as Secretary of Agriculture, ostensibly to join the crowded Republican Senate primary.  Secretary of Agriculture is now the fourth job in a row that Johanns has quit mid-way through a term to pursue another office.  And Johanns isn't just clearing out early - he's leaving very high priorities dangling.  Many people are rather angry with Johanns for leaving his office before the upcoming Farm Bill is finished.  However, it might be for the best, as Johanns' record outlines that he is no friend of farmers, having advocated for "significant cuts" to farm subsidies and having opposed a "permanent disaster fund" for farmers.

Meanwhile, in the event that former Senator Bob Kerrey enters the 2008 Senate race, the NRSC is already preparing a sleazy attack website, ostensibly criticizing Kerrey for spending the last few years running a college out of state.  It's especially absurd and hypocritical given that Johanns himself had to go "house-hunting" in Nebraska recently as he makes his return from Washington D.C.  To anybody who would argue that those situations are different because Johanns was called to serve in Washington by his President, I would respond that Johanns' call-to-service musn't be too dutiful or noble if he's willing to ditch the role in order to further his own political career, leaving the Farm Bill hanging all the while.  It's not like he couldn't finish work on the Farm Bill and then leave the Department of Agriculture.  The crowded primary that Johanns will be joining includes state Attorney General Jon Bruning and businessman Pat Flynn, with former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub also officially joining the race this past week, and businessman Tony Raimondo still considering a bid.  And if there is one thing Johanns can count on, it is that Bruning will ensure a very nasty, divisive primary.  Finally, the latest from Bob Kerrey is that he might run for Senate or he might not.  So stay tuned.

Alaska: The Associated Press broke the story that the FBI got corrupt Alaska businessman Bill Allen to tape conversations with Ted Stevens after they confronted Allen with evidence regarding Allen's bribing elected officials. The FBI wouldn't just give Stevens a public heads up to be more discrete in his phone conversations; as such, I imagine that the FBI would only let this news out as a precursor to an indictment or some other significant action.

Oregon: When Gordon Smith isn't trying to rhetorically dance around Iraq, he runs a frozen food company, Smith Frozen Foods. Well, Smith Frozen Foods was recently fined for dumping wastewater into a nearby creek, marking "at least the third time since the early 1990s that the company has been fined for polluting Pine Creek." As Loaded Orygun's Torrid Joe notes, "As spills go, this sounds neither massive nor especially toxic--but there's no such thing as a good waste dumping violation.  And being the third such violation, however minor, it suggests a less-than-dilligent attention span to protecting their nearby waterway." Smith's company's shady environmental record has been a campaign issue going back to Smith's first Senate run.  And I expect it will come up again this time around. It brings new meaning to the phrase, "Dump Gordon Smith."

Idaho: Republican Gov. Butch Otter has interviewed "about 19 people," mostly by telephone, for the Senate appointment, should scandal-embattled Larry Craig resign at the end of the month as planned.  Otter has met in person with Lt. Gov. Jim Risch and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.  Otter has not announced a date by which he expects to have a decision made; however, he has ruled out naming a place-holder, instead intending to name an appointee who will run for Senate next year, citing the need to build up seniority.  With Otter wanting to build up seniority, it may give a leg up to the 49-year-old Wasden over the 64-year-old Risch.  If Craig is to entertain any further notion of not resigning and rather serving out the remainder of his term, he will need a positive result from his court hearing on Wednesday to rescind his guilty plea.  Meanwhile, Craig made his return to the Senate this past week for the first time since his scandal broke.  Headlines included: "GOP Supporters Are Hard to Find on Craig's List" and "Craig shunned on return to Senate." Quite a stark contrast from the "thunderous applause" David Vitter received when he made his return to the Senate Republican cloakroom following his scandal.  Why the different reactions, do you think?

Maine: The Bangor Daily News finally highlighted the fact that Susan Collins is breaking her self-imposed two-term-limit pledge (a pledge she made during her first run in 1996 and reiterated in her re-election run in 2002), but aggrivatingly allowed Collins' broken promise to Maine voters to be framed as a campaign attack from Democrats rather than an incontrovertible fact.  (All the while, the Bangor Daily News is establishing a troubling double-standard regarding reports on Collins' campaign versus Tom Allen's campaign.)  What's doubly frustrating is that, while Susan Collins is accused of using taxpayer-funded Senate resources and personnel for her political campaign purposes, she still has her Senate office spokeswoman, Jen Burita, responding to these political campaign questions rather than, crazy as it sounds, campaign staff not on her Senate payroll.

In other news, Collins is pretty angry with Olympia Snowe over the vote to reinstate habeas corpus.  You see, Collins happily voted against the rule of law and due process.  However, Snowe voted differently, opting to reinstate habeas corpus, thereby not giving Collins much needed political cover.  Collins is mad that she didn't get a heads up (as though she might have voted differently had she known how Snowe would vote).  Once again, Susan Collins demonstrates that she is the antithesis of leadership and political courage.  Finally, we get a reminder that, back in March, Susan Collins demanded "significant results" in Iraq by Fall.  Well, Fall is now here; but, while we see Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe working to bring the troops home safely, Susan Collins continues to back George W. Bush's stay-the-course policy.

New Mexico: Reports have it that the Senate Ethics Committee has "stepped up its probe of Pete Domenici" noting that "the six-month preliminary investigation into Domenici has turned up enough evidence to open a formal, public investigation into the New Mexico senator, having determined that Domenici acted inappropriately and that he may have violated Senate Ethics rules" when he called former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to inquire about the status of a public corruption probe.

Virginia: The latest Survey USA poll sees Mark Warner beating all opponents by landslide margins: topping Jim Gilmore 60-32, besting Tom Davis 62-27, and even beating George Macaca Allen in a hypothetical match-up 56-37.  We just have to keep reminding ourselves to take nothing for granted.

North Carolina: Public Policy Polling has released its latest polling data (FYI: in PDF format).  In a match-up with no additional information, Elizabeth Dole beats State Representative Grier Martin 45-30 (Dole still can't get to 50% in any poll), but when just a brief, four-sentence description of Martin is given, Martin beats Dole 47-40, illustrating Martin's high potential.  Further, the PPP results found that Dole's approve-disapprove stands at a highly vulnerable 45-40 and that former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith even matches up well against Dole, starting out down only 41-35.

Kentucky: The Lexington Herald-Leader released new poll numbers on Mitch McConnell, including a sub-50% approve-disapprove of 47-44 and a stark 38-55 approve-disapprove regarding McConnell's position on Iraq. Also found is a gaping George W. Bush approve-disapprove of 37-61, and only 32% of Kentuckians saying the war was worth it compared with 57% who feel Bush's Iraq War "wasn't worth the loss of life and expense." So, when Mitch McConnell goes on national television and falsely claims that his constituents "overwhelmingly" support Bush's Iraq War, you know he's lying.  You'll also know he's lying when he offers Iraqis their "last chance" to "save their country." On Iraq, McConnell will ultimately do precisely what George W. Bush wants him to do.

Texas: A Rasmussen Reports poll offers baseline numbers, seeing John Cornyn leading State Representative and Lieutenant Colonel Rick Noriega 53-30 and leading attorney Mikal Watts 52-28.  Not a bad starting point with Cornyn just a bit over 50% and with two guys that a vast majority of Texans probably have never heard of before at about 30%.

Colorado: Backwards Bob Schaffer's polling has him only two points behind Mark Udall in a three-way race with a Green Party candidate getting 7%.  Given that third party candidates in the 2004 CO-Sen race, the 2004 Presidential race in Colorado, and the 2006 CO-Gov race all never topped 1%, it gives the impression that Schaffer's poll could be well off-the-mark and should be taken with a mammoth grain of salt, even for partisan polling.

New Hampshire: StopSununu.com has officially launched, loaded with background information on Sprintin' John Sununu on issues from Iraq to health care and much, much more.  Visit regularly.  Also, Katrina Swett bowed out of the Senate race, joining Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand in endorsing popular former Governor Jeanne Shaheen.  Further, a pair of polls from Rasmussen and ARG were released this week showing Shaheen again beating Sununu, though by more realistic margins than the drubbings earlier polls had Shaheen giving Sununu.  With Shaheen having just formally entered the race, these numbers could be considered baselines.

Georgia: An Insider Advantage poll put Spineless Saxby Chambliss' approve-disapprove at 39-29, while a Rasmussen Reports poll put it at 58-30, though even the Rasmussen poll had one Democratic challenger holding Chambliss to under 50 points.

For daily news and updates on the U.S. Senate races around the country in 2008, check out Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races.

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TX-Sen: Rick Noriega Tells Junior John to "Move ON from Move On"

Let me first start with an apology for the disgusting performance of the Junior Senator from Texas.

As noted elsewhere, it WAS pure performance-political theatre  of the farce genre.

You might be able to imagine what Rick Noriega, Afghanistan vet and current Lt. Col in the Texas National Guard thought of that display, but Rick is about actions, not just words.  Follow me on the flip for his call to action.

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