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Following up on yesterday's post, I will now go through each of the 21 Republican seats up in 2008 and how we can target and win in every single one. So here we go!

Wayne Allard is our best pickup opportunity in 2008. Allard has made hints that he will retire after two terms in the Senate. If he does retire, expect either ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez (who just lost a race for governor by double digits) or Reps. Tom Tancredo or Marilyn Musgrave to run for the Republican nomination. Expect all of them to lose as Rep. Mark Udall is already planning to run, regardless of Wayne Allard's plans. Udall's raised over $1 million and will be formidable as Colorado is a blue state rising, with a Democratic governor, both houses of the state legislature, a majority in the Congressional delegation and one Democratic US Senator in Ken Salazar. Plus, Allard has only a 43% approval rating in the state and has only raised $100,000 for his reelection. This should be our Pennsylvania of 2008.

Oklahoma should be a prime pickup opportunity for us as well. Sen. Jim Inhofe is a crazy anti-gay bigot who claimed that never in his family's history had their been a gay member, proudly proclaiming this fact on the Senate floor with a picture of his family in the background. He is unpopular at home, with only a 43% approval rating and only a half a million dollars raised for reelection. If popular Democratic governor Brad Henry runs for this seat, he will easily beat Inhofe, as Henry has a 69% approval rating and just won his reelection with 67% of the vote against Republican congressman Ernest Istook. If Gov. Henry doesn't run, Democrats hold 7 of the other 8 statewide offices in Oklahoma, where Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett each received over 60% of the vote this year as Democrats. If Democrats run anyone of these three candidates against Inhofe, they'll be elected to the US Senate.

Though many think it will be difficult to defeat Saxby Chambliss in Georgia in 2008, he is not a popular Senator, with only 47% approval. He barely won election in 2002, after he smeared triple amputee ex-Sen. Max Cleland. If Sen. Cleland returned to fight for his old seat, I think he could beat Chambliss, who has raised over $2 million. It clearly will take a lot of money to dislodge him, but it's possible. Democrats hold three statewide offices in Georgia, including Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who won 57% of the vote this year, and Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, who won 56% of the vote this year, and Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond, who won 55% of the vote this year. If any of those three run, they could certainly upset Chambliss with a bunch of money, and none of them would have to give up their jobs if they lost.

Jon Cornyn is one of the most sinister Republicans in the US Senate. If we could take him down, we'd have scored a major victory. His approval rating is 47% and he's raised nearly $3 million. If Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a conservative Democrat from Austin, challenges Cornyn, it could be a race, considering that Doggett has raised nearly $2 million. Austin Mayor Will Wynn is a Democrat who has deep pockets and could make a race out of it. Dallas Mayor Laura Miller could also make a run of it, as could Houston Mayor Bill White or El Paso Mayor John Cook or San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger. Winning in Texas will never be easy for a Democrat, but running the right campaign and raising enough money, could put Cornyn out of a job.

John Sununu is a very vulnerable Senator. Barely elected in 2002 over ex-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, he is not wildly popular, with only a 50% approval rating. He's only raised $500,000 and New Hampshire is a blue state rising, with Democrats having just taken over the State House and State Senate for the first time since 1911. If you look back to the last time Democrats controlled the Governorship and both Houses of the legislature, you have to go back to 1874. Having also picked up both New Hampshire congressional seats this year, New Hampshire Democrats are poised for a comeback. Considering the state will still play a huge role in the Democratic Presidential primaries in 2008, the Democratic Party here will be very strong. Democratic Gov. John Lynch is wildly popular, with a 74% approval rating, and having just won reelection with the same percentage. I doubt Lynch would be willing to give up the Governorship (New Hampshire Governors run every two years), but if he did, he would cream Sununu. The races for State Senate President and House Speaker in New Hampshire are underway, but whoever the winners are, they should seriously consider taking on Sununu if Lynch decides against a run. A smart and talented in New Hampshire with a lot of money should easily be able to beat Sununu in this blue and getting bluer state.

Lamar Alexander is waiting for a smackdown in Tennessee. With only a 51% approval rating and only $300,000 in the bank, he's not looking great for reelection. If popular Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen decides to run, he will be slightly favored in this race, and would not have to leave the Governorship if he loses. With a 62% approval rating and having just won reelection with 69%, he is very well positioned to beat Alexander. With Democrats controlling the State House and with only a one-seat deficit in the State Senate and half of the TN congressional delegation, there are plenty of candidates to choose from. While Bredesen would have a great time picking up this seat, there are plenty of Democrats who could beat Alexander too.

Norm Coleman is looking extremely vulnerable in a blue state like Minnesota. The only reason he won in 2002 was because Paul Wellstone's funeral was made into a media animal by the GOP. Had Sen. Wellstone lived, he would have easily beat Coleman. But it looks like Al Franken will make a run against Coleman, and if he does, look for him to score an upset and win. If Franken doesn't run, Democrats have a large bench in the state to beat Coleman, who has a 52% approval rating and almost $2 million in the bank. With Democrats now controlling the State Senate and the State House in Minnesota and a majority in the Congressional delegation, any Democratic candidate could have a great shot at picking up this seat. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto could all make great candidates if Franken decides against a run.

Gordon Smith is a Red Senator in a blue state. Oregon has a deep Democratic bench and control of the Governorship, the State Senate and the State House, as well as five of six Congressional seats. Smith's approval rating is 51% and he has raised over $2 million, clearly afraid of a tough challenge. But Congressmen Wu, Blumenauer, DeFazio, and Hooley are all looking at challenging Smith, with Wu having raised the most with over $500,000 in the bank. Smith is very vulnerable and with a good Democratic candidate, he should be beaten.

Lindsay Graham will be very hard to beat in 2008. And it's not because he's so popular, with only a 53% approval rating and a hatred from SC's right, he could face serious primary opposition in 2008. But with over $2 million in the bank and no Democrat in the state who's popular and holds elective office, it seems difficult to consider beating him. The only Democrat to still hold statewide office in SC is Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, who won this year by 200 votes out of over 1 million cast. Unless there are some strong Democrats in SC that I don't know about, we have very little chance of picking this up, unless Inez Tennenbaum wants to come back and make a run of it.

Pat Roberts in Kansas only has a 53% approval rating and has only raised $700,000 in a run for reelection, signaling a possible retirement. If he retires, it looks like Rep. Moran or Tiahrt will run for the Republican nomination, having raised $1.3 million and $800,000 respectively. But either way, it looks like Democrats have a great chance to pick up this seat if popular Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius runs for the seat. With a 62% approval rating and having just won reelection with 58% of the vote, Sebelius looks well positioned to beat Roberts or take the open seat. But Democrats have a deep bench here, with former Republicans switching to the Democratic Party all over the place and taking a huge number of statewide elected offices. State Attorney General and former Republican Paul Morrison, who just won with 58% of the vote or Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson (a former Republican too) could also run, without having to give up their jobs, either, if Sebelius decides against a run. But either way, this looks like a prime pickup opportunity, with Republican defections everywhere.

Even though Chuck Hagel has a 55% approval rating, he has only raised $100,000 for reelection and is widely expected to retire, probably to run for President. If he retires, Congressional candidates Scott Kleeb, Jim Esch, and former Lt. Gov. Maxine Moul, who all did surprisingly well in their congressional races this year, all getting over 40% of the vote in this deep red state, could all run. Though they would have to raise quite a lot of money to combat Reps. Terry or Fortenberry, they could have a good shot at picking up this open seat if they can raise a couple of million dollars.

Larry Craig has been rumored to be retiring and very well could be, having only raised $300,000 and facing a primary challenge from the right in the form of Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez. A grueling primary fight could leave Craig bloodied, and an open seat could give us the opportunity to run ID-01 Congressional Candidate Larry Grant, who came very close to beating crazy Republican Bill Sali. Though this is a longshot, and Idaho is a very Republican state, having voted down every Democrat running for statewide office this year, it's worth a shot. I'm sure Idaho Democrats could find someone credible to give Craig or the Republican nominee a run for his money.

Mitch McConnell will be Senate Minority Leader and has a lot of money in the bank, $2.6 million to be exact. With a 53% approval rating, he is beatable, and with a good candidate, he could be beaten. If Congressman Ben Chandler, Attorney General Greg Stumbo, State Treasurer Jonathan Miller, State Auditor Crit Luallen, or State Senator Dan Mongiardo made a run for this seat, they all could have a great chance of winning it. It will be tough, and McConnell's fundraising prowess will make life difficult for a Democrat, but if McConnell makes himself look like an ass as Minority Leader in the next two years, KY Dems could beat him.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole could theoretically retire, after humiliating herself as NRSC chair this year and being very old, but is likely to run for reelection. If she does, term-limited Democratic Governor Mike Easley, with a 57% approval rating, should run against her. Dole's fundraising has been anemic, with only $200,000 in the bank. If Mike Easley can raise a lot of money, he could definitely beat Dole. If Easley decides against a run, ex-Sen. John Edwards could decide to return to the Senate if he loses the Democratic nomination for President. If both decide against a run, North Carolina has a huge bench of Democratic statewide elected officials who could run against Dole, though Easley is the clearest choice. Dole has a 58% approval rating, which is strong, but remember that Chafee had an approval rating in the low sixties two years out from his defeat this past Tuesday.

John Warner is expected to retire in 2008, having raised only $700,000 for reelection. With the strong possibility that popular former Governor Mark Warner will run for the seat, John Warner will probably retire to avoid a brutal defeat. With an open seat, and Reps. Tom Davis or Bob Goodlatte likely to run for the Republican nomination, it looks like the only thing that will change about the Senator from Virginia will be the first name, from John to Mark. John Warner has a 56% approval rating, while Mark Warner left the governorship with an 80% approval rating. Against Warner or Davis or Goodlatte, Mark Warner should have an easy time winning a seat in the United States Senate, and he would be foolish not to run. With huge popularity, a winning campaign apparatus, Virginia's turn to blue status, and deep pockets to pay for a run, Mark Warner should be our best pickup opportunity in 2008.

Jeff Sessions has a 60% approval rating, has $1.5 million in the bank, and is from Alabama. While it seems nearly impossible to beat him, conservative Democratic Congressman Bud Cramer has $1.7 million in the bank and could beat Sessions if he runs a good campaign. Rep. Artur Davis has also announced he plans to run for the Senate, though his $250,000 in the bank doesn't look like enough for a statewide race. If Bud Cramer runs, this will be a prime pickup opportunity in 2008. If he doesn't run, ex-Gov. and newly elected Lt. Gov (returning to another old job) Jim Folsom, Jr. could run a good campaign and beat Sessions too.

In Wyoming, Mike Enzi might retire, which could allow popular Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal an easy path to the US Senate. With a 61% approval rating, however, Enzi is not unbeatable in a direct matchup against Freudenthal, who has a 71% approval rating. Enzi only has $200,000 in the bank, and if Freudenthal can raise a lot of money, he should be able to make this a prime pickup opportunity. Having just won 70% of the vote in his reelection, Freudenthal would be formidable as a challenger or in an open-seat race. If he doesn't run, Congressional Candidate Gary Trauner, who could theoretically still win the Congressional seat he's down in by less than a thousand votes after a recount, could run. Trauner would have far less of a chance than Freudenthal, who really should run.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (approval of 59%) looks like he's finally ready to retire, frustrated by his lack of progress on ANWR and having raised less than $200,000 for his reelection. Though Alaska has looked good for us two cycles in a row, with little success, this year could be different. Tony Knowles could run for the third cycle in a row, though I don't think he has the stomach for it. Ethan Berkowitz, the State House Minority Leader, or State Rep. Eric Croft, could run. But Alaska doesn't have a great crop of Democrats in office. That being said, if Stevens' retirement creates a bitterly divisive and nasty GOP primary that bloodies the nominee, Democrats could have an opening here.

Susan Collins is very popular, but also pledged only to serve two-terms and it looks like she might retire, having only raised $400,000 for her reelection. If she runs again, she will be hard to beat, having a 69% approval rating, though attacking her for breaking her two-term pledge in a blue state like Maine could signal her defeat. If she decides not to run, it looks like Rep. Tom Allen, who has raised $440,000, could take this seat. Run, Allen, run!

Pete Domenici, who has been in the Senate for six terms, and has only raised $265,000, looks ready to retire. With a 66% approval rating, he'd be hard to beat without Gov. Bill Richardson, who has a 69% approval rating, running against him. But if he retires, a lot of Democrats could pickup this seat, including Richardson, Rep. Tom Udall (Mark's cousin, who has raised almost $800,000, could we have two Udalls in the Senate?), Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Sec. of State Mary Herrera, State Auditor Hector Balderas, State Treasurer James Lewis, or Attorney General Gary King. If Domenici doesn't retire, and Richardson isn't the VP or the Presidential nominee, he should run for this seat. Otherwise, we could relatively easily pick this up with an open seat.

Finally, Thad Cochran (69% approval) in Mississippi simply can't be beaten unless he retires. And thank God he looks likely to do just that. After five terms in the Senate, Cochran's retirement could allow former Attorney General Mike Moore, current Attorney General Jim Hood, Congressman Gene Taylor, Secretary of State Eric Clark, or State Insurance Commissioner George Dale to take the seat. Cochran has raised only $350,000, and if he retires, it looks like MS will be a great pickup opportunity for us.

So there you go, every seat. If everything goes well in every state, with the best candidate running on our side, and huge retirements on their side, it looks like there's not a single GOP seat up in 2008 that we can't win. But assuming retirements are slim, and we don't get our best candidates, we still look like we can make about 10 Senate races competitive, and hopefully pick up 5. If we can make 15-18 GOP seats competitive in 2008, we could end up with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in 2009, which would be terrific.

But let's keep in mind that this list has a number of women, Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian Americans as top candidates for office. As Chuck Schumer works to recruit the best candidate in every seat, he should be mindful of increasing these groups' representations in the Senate in 2009. Tell me all what you think, and let's put the pressure on Chuck to challenge every seat in 2008, and challenge them well. Everyone should individually push for their best candidates in each of their own states as well.

2 comments:

Liz Fossett said...

hope you're right about mcconnell. i don't think crit will run for it.

jerry abramson (a GU Law grad) isn't running for governor either, so who knows maybe he'll go for senate...i kind of doubt his political abilities.

Dr. Dan is probably not running for governor, which means he might try the Senate thing again. Who knows, if he doesn't run against a Hall of Famer, he might just take the seat...

Folsom said...

I am sorry but I just cannot support Jim Folsom.