kens*ten: a political blog

Archive for the ‘US Senate’ Category

Is It Time to Bury Harry?

Does Harry have a Prayer?

The Nevada US Senate race between Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican state legislator Sharon Angle is very close. Most of the elite election prognosticators categorize this race as a “toss up”.

Reid and Angle met in their one and only debate. And, judging from the reviews of left-leaning pundits, Reid just may be toast.

John Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun wrote:

Sharron Angle won The Big Debate. Angle won because she looked relatively credible, appearing not to be the Wicked Witch of the West (Christine O’Donnell is the good witch of the Tea Party) and scoring many more rhetorical points. And she won because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid looked as if he could barely stay on a linear argument, abruptly switching gears and failing to effectively parry or thrust.

T. A. Frank of The New Republic whined:

I could go on with my laments about Reid’s performance—about how he fumbled an answer on Social Security, about how he picked Antonin Scalia and Byron “Whizzer” White as particular Supreme Court favorites, about how he couldn’t find his closing statement and wound up shuffling through his papers and then reading something that didn’t really work anyway. But we’re all busy people. No, let’s not dwell on the past…

Taegan Goddard of CQ’s Political Wire posted:

It’s hard to paint your opponent as not ready for primetime if you don’t come across looking much better than she did… Reid also slipped into ‘Washington-speak’ time and time again. Perhaps the worst moment for him: his shuffling around for notes for his closing statement.

Reid’s congressional co-conspirator, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA/8), resides in a very safe district — centered on super-liberal San Francisco. Pelosi will coast through her re-election race.

However, Reid’s term expires at a particularly bad time for him. Reid has to run for re-election in a state with 14.2% unemployment — the  highest in the nation. And, Reid has been front and center in ramming through the most odious components of the Obama economic agenda.

This makes Harry Reid the national “poster boy” for a midterm referendum on the Obama presidency. That infamy channeled over $14 million to Angle’s campaign to oust Reid… in just three months!.

Nevadans will decide if this is the final chapter in the Harry Reid saga. But, right now it appears Reid’s re-election hope is living on a prayer (cue Bon Jovi). But as Garth Brooks sang, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved.

Bon Jovi / “Livin’ on a Prayer”

Garth Brooks / “Unanswered Prayers”

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Getting to Ten

A Nation in the Balance

For several months, political insiders have predicted a new Republican majority for the House of Representatives.  The GOP leadership laid out a course of action in the Pledge to America.  But, controlling one chamber takes them only so far.  Controlling the Senate as well would place the GOP in a much better position to set the nation’s agenda – and recapture the presidency in 2012.

Republicans need to pick up ten Senate seats to gain a majority.  If the hoped-for Red Tsunami is as broad as projected in generic ballot and “wrong-direction” poll results, the GOP may just make it.

Can they realistically get there?  The answer: “Yes, with a little luck”.  Here is how…

The GOP picks up eight seats in these races:

1) North Dakota – Democrat incumbent Senator Byron Dorgan is retiring.  The Republicans nominated popular Governor John Hoeven to face Democrat Tracy Potter.  Polls have consistently put Hoeven up 40% plus.  This seat goes to the GOP.

2) Arkansas – Democrat incumbent Blanche Lincoln had a tough time beating Lt. Governor Bill Halter in her primary.  Halter said Lincoln was too conservative to win re-election.  In Arkansas?  So now, Lincoln trails conservative Republican Congressman John Boozman by nearly 20%.  This race goes Red on Election Day.

3) Indiana — Incumbent Democrat Senator Evan Bayh chose retirement over re-election citing disgust with current Beltway politics.  Former Senator and current GOP nominee Dan Coates has been above 50% for a few months while Democrat Congressman  Brad Ellsworth can’t seem to rise above 35%.  Despite a clear Obama victory in the Hoosier State in 2008, polls show widespread disapproval with the president.  Short of a scandal, Coates seems assured of returning to the Senate.

4) Pennsylvania — The biggest beneficiary of the party switch by incumbent Senator Arlen Spector may be Republican nominee Pat Toomey.  Written off as too conservative to win the state in the 2004 Republican primary against Spector, Toomey now seems just right to Keystone State voters in a general election matchup with Democrat Congressman Joe Sestak.  Spector read the tea leaves and saw he would have trouble in a rematch with Toomey, so with the promise of assistance from the Obama White House, Spector switched parties and ran against Sestak in the Democrat primary.  Despite the offer of a federal job for his withdrawal, Sestak stayed in the race and easily bested the octogenarian Spector.  The Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of +6.6% for Toomey in a still-Blue state makes this look like a GOP pickup.

5) Wisconsin —  If uber-liberal Democrat incumbent Senator Russ Feingold is in trouble in Wisconsin, you know the party is facing a bad Election Day 2010.  The RCP average gives Republican challenger Ron Johnson a +9% lead.  Obama visited the state twice — and both times Feingold was nowhere to be seen.  That speaks volumes of the president’s standing in the Badger State.  This one seems lost to the GOP.

6) West Virginia – Even the death of long-time Senator Robert Byrd was not considered a threat to a Democrat hold of this seat.  Popular Democrat Governor Joe Manchin seemed poised for an easy route to the United States Senate.  But, the unpopularity of President Obama in the Mountaineer State, threw a monkey wrench into the gears.  Republican John Raese holds an RCP average +4.5% advantage.  Manchin has begun stressing his differences with the Obama agenda — primarily on coal and health care — to try to save this seat.  So far, it is not working.

7) Colorado – I still cannot figure why RCP calls this a toss-up.  Republican Ken Buck has enjoyed a 5-8% lead in all polls except the one by Dem-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP).  And, PPP only had Buck down by 1%.  Democrat incumbent appointee Senator Michael Bennet has loudly proclaimed he is no rubber stamp for President Obama and asked the Prez to stay out of Colorado.  His internal polls – and his gut – must be telling him something is amiss.  This seat should tip to the GOP.

8) Nevada – Can there be a more delicious prospect than Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid being voted out of office?  Republican Sharon Angle surprised many by winning the GOP primary.  Conventional wisdom was Reid would coast to victory over the Tea Party favorite.  Not so fast.  Despite a blitz of negatives ads and media, Angle seems to benefit from Nevadans anger over their dreadful economy.  The two most recent statewide polls show Angle +2% to +4% while Reid still has not cracked the 45% mark.  That may eventually doom Reid and send the given-up-for dead Angle to Washington DC.

Here is where a little luck is would help:

9) Alaska – The GOP hold the seat currently, but, intra-party fighting may swing this race.  Republican Joe Miller beat incumbent appointee Senator Lisa Murkowski in a close primary.  After failing to make a deal with the state’s Libertarian Party, the too moderate for Libertarians Murkowski decided to run a write-in campaign.  Miller held slim leads over Murkowski in recent Rasmussen and CNN polls while Democrat Scott McAdams appears to be a non-factor.  Miller has the advantage, but bad blood may make it close.  If Murkowski wins, which party will she caucus with?

10) Illinois – Democrat incumbent and tainted Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris is not on the ballot.  Normally, Illinois would be a solid hold for Democrats.  But, they chose to nominate alleged Mob-connected failed banker and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for the race.  The Republicans went with liberal Congressman Mark Kirk.  Kirk has his own baggage including overstating his military service and being the bane of Land of Lincoln conservatives.  This race has been nasty and remains very close.  The two most recent polls show Kirk +2% to +4% and the RCP average is Kirk +1.2%.  The result may well rest on how many Illinois conservatives refuse to pull the lever for Kirk.  If they hold their noses and vote for Kirk, he may just sneak by with a victory.

11) Washington – Democrat incumbent Senator Patty Murray has a well-deserved reputation for exposing her ignorance.  It may finally be catching up with her.  Murray is in a close race with a candidate who has experience with razor-thin losses in this Blue State, Republican Dino Rossi.  Two recent polls show Rossi up 3-6% on Murray and that has dropped the RCP average to a virtual dead-heat.  Over 80% of Evergreen State voters mail-in their ballots… early.  So, Rossi may be surging at the right time.  Assuming Democrat-controlled state election officials do not steal a third statewide victory from Rossi, some pundits think this race may decide control of the Senate.

12) California – Democrat incumbent Senator “Don’t Call Me Ma’am” Barbara Boxer holds a 3-4% lead over Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.  Boxer held a big lead throughout most of the year, but, the race has narrowed as she cannot seem to break the 50% mark.  The fact that a Democrat is in danger in Blue State California is indicative of the public’s general frustration.  Low turnout among traditionally Democrat minority voters may allow Fiorina to win this one.

Summary

Wins in two of the four states above put the Senate in GOP hands at 51-49.  Three weeks out, Alaska and Illinois seem the better bets.  But, Washington is right there in case.  While California is not out of the question, it seems the least likely of the four.

If the Red Tsunami is truly national, winning both Washington and California is still possible.  That would give the Republicans +12 for a 53-47 majority.  Then it is up to Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to corral enough Republican votes to put an end to Obamaism.

That may prove tougher than winning the Senate majority.

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved.

Written by kensten

10/10/2010 at 11:29 pm

Year of the Sore Loser?

Crist, Murkowski and Castle

2010 may prove to be the “Year of the Red Tsunami”.  It may also be remembered as the “Year of the Sore Loser”.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) started the ball rolling.  Facing sure defeat in the state’s Republican Senate primary at the hands of State Representative Marco Rubio, he bolted to run as an “independent”.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) lost a close primary contest to newcomer Joe Miller.  Murkowski dallied with obtaining the Libertarian ballot line, but they saw the tawdry nature of such a deal and demurred.  Murkowski is now running as a write-in candidate, although her campaign cannot spell her name correctly.

Despite the vehement opposition of the state party organization, challenger Christine O’Donnell routed Delaware Congressman Mike Castle (R-DE).  Castle has refused to endorse the victor and campaign staffers say the congressman is considering a write-in challenge as well.

The common thread among these sore losers is not ideology.  It is arrogance.

All three saw their primary contests as a minor hurdle on the way to their coronations.  The political insiders anointed all three as prohibitive favorites.  All three believed their own press clippings.

Crist believed himself invincible and so made deals with Florida’s Democrat legislative leaders against his own party caucus.  Murkowski ignored Miller and Alaska’s rising frustration with Republican “family politics”.  Castle was simply too liberal for Delaware’s Republican base. 

Murkowski and Castle appeared stunned by their losses.  Crist is merely a shameless political chameleon.

Politicians act this way when they feel entitled to lead – when they believe the power resides within them personally and not with the public.  Republicans in Florida, Alaska and Delaware proved the danger of that notion.

It appears that in several weeks, many incumbent Democrats will receive the same blunt message.

© 2010 by kens*ten.  All rights reserved.

Written by kensten

09/23/2010 at 7:06 pm

Painting the Senate Red

Warning: Red Tsunami Approaching

Might the GOP Wave turn into the “Red Tsunami”? Some pundits and political insiders now think the Republicans have a realistic shot at capturing both houses of Congress.

What conventional wisdom termed highly unlikely a few months ago is now plausible. For months, media pundits — right and left –have been predicting the Democrats will lose the House of Representatives. They have varied only in the scope of the beatdown. But, a Senate takeover was seen as just not possible.

Yes, it is true, anything can — and usually does — happen in politics. An unforeseen or planned event (October Surprise anyone?) could drastically change the political landscape. And, Labor Day is traditionally seen as “Opening Day” for the political season. So, it is also possible that as the more lackadaisical observers begin following current events, poll numbers could shift.

But, even with those caveats — It’s looking pretty darn good for GOP Senate candidates.

Jay Cost at The Weekly Standard thinks the GOP will take 8 net seats in the Senate. That would leave the Democrats with a slim 51-49 majority. But, Cost also thinks the polls are more likely to tilt more towards the GOP by Election Day.

Larry Sabato at the Center for Politics Crystal Ball puts the GOP at net 8 or 9 Senate seats. Sabato’s analysis included the following statement:

The inescapable conclusion is that the Senate is on the bubble, with only a slight lean at Labor Day toward Democratic retention.

Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics agrees with the +8 gain for Republicans — right now. He thinks 2010 could be bigger than 1994… perhaps even of the magnitude of the 1932 Democrat sweep. Trende reads the, er… trends… as:

…pointing to a massive GOP blowout, and they will not be changing between now and November.

Sixty days ago, contemplating a GOP takeover of the Senate was an exercise in self-delusion. Today, it’s on the cusp of becoming reality.

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved.

Written by kensten

09/12/2010 at 5:15 pm

Charlie Crist: Candidate Adrift

Whichever Way the Wind Blows

Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) is a candidate without a party. And, a politician of the most venal nature.

Crist is a true Republican in name only. Not because of any political beliefs… in fact, Crist seems to have only one overriding political belief… that he should be a United States Senator.

Crist was elected Governor as a Republican and actually governed as one for a short time. With the ascent of Barack Obama to the presidency, Crist’s pointer finger detected a leftward breeze in the political atmosphere. So, Captain Charlie tacked left. For example, he spoke out in favor of the $787 billion Obama stimulus in hopes of gathering more than his fair share of the treasure. After all, Charlie’s no fool.

Ignoring the time-honored advice to “dance with the one that brung ya”, Crist threw his former GOP colleagues overboard in a quest to ride the new wave.

Governor “Orange Glow” figured his newfound friends in the administration and media would propel him all the way to Washington DC. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Capitol. The political wind had shifted only temporarily and began to blow anew… towards the right.

But, Charlie was enjoying the attention too much to notice that his constituents were growing uneasy with Hope and Change. Crist didn’t see the coming political storms at his back.

Enter State Representative Marco Rubio, a young Hispanic conservative and former Speaker of the Florida House. Rubio saw the dark clouds heading ashore. He was well placed to get in front of them. So, Rubio announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for US Senator.

Crist made deals with Democrat statehouse leaders, especially on education reform, and hung his own party out to dry. Charlie didn’t need them. Charlie had new friends.

That is until the polls showed Rubio leading Crist among Republican voters. It seems the base was fed up with Captain Charlie’s shenanigans. And then Rubio became a darling of Florida’s Tea Party activists. The Rubio convoy pulled out to sea and left Crist in its wake.

Rather than face a humiliating primary defeat, Crist became an independent. The label was one of convenience. His general election hopes were buoyed by his new Democrat friend’s assurances that they were really with him. He had done well by them and they wouldn’t forget Good Ol’ Charlie. Crist even hinted that he might caucus with the Dems when he was elected.

But, political fortune has a way a hitting you upside the head with a heavy oar every now and then. Captain Charlie was not immune.

Despite gloomy media predictions to the contrary, State Senator Kendrick Meek handily won the Democrat nomination for US Senator. Meeks consistently polled third behind Rubio and Crist. But, Meek has been a loyal liberal soldier for the Democrats. Besides, Captain Charlie’s numbers have begun dropping in line with his benefactor in DC. The Democrat party establishment is now fully behind Meek.

And, that has sent Crist’s chances spiraling down towards Davy Jones Locker.

Recent polls now show Crist in third… and Rubio still in the lead.

Sorry Charlie. It couldn’t have happened to a more venal politician.

© 2010 by kens*ten. All rights reserved.

Written by kensten

08/29/2010 at 11:55 pm