Obama Helps Gillibrand
Lots of Senate news today.
Several downstate Democratic members of the House have threatened to challenge
appointed senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a primary, largely due to her previous
support for gun owners' rights. Yesterday, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said President Obama
asked him not to challenge Gillibrand and he
Two other representatives, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) have also
threatened to challenge Gillibrand. It remains to be see if they also get presidential
phone calls, but that seems very likely. Neither of them probably wants to run in a
primary with a Democratic President actively campaigning for her opponent. So it looks like
Gillibrand will sail through primary season easily, which will reduce the likelihood
of any serious Republican signing up to challenge her. The Republicans' only chance in a
state as blue as New York was for the Democrats to commit sororicide and that appears
a distant hope now.
Hutchison Likely to Resign from the Senate in the Fall
Another piece of bad news for the Republicans is the
of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) this fall. Apparently Hutchison, whose ambition to be governor of Texas is no secret,
feels she can campaign better for governor if she doesn't have to be in D.C. to vote on
pesky cloture motions all the time. If she resigns after September, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) will
appoint a temporary replacement and then there will be a special election in May 2010.
A Hutchison resignation will undoubtedly cause Houston mayor
Bill White (D) to run for her seat and he has a decent chance of winning.
You win some, you lose some. NRSC chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has been pleading with
Hutchison to stay in the Senate but from all appearances, he is going to lose this one.
On the other hand, he got Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) to run for the Senate instead of
running for reelection. These two events show you can't predict politics very well.
If Hutchison thinks that being governor of a big state is a better deal than being a
senior member of the minority in the Senate, why in the world does Crist think that being
a junior member of the minority is a better deal than being governor of a big state?
Torsella Will Not Challenge Specter in Primary
Democrat Joe Torsella
yesterday that he is dropping out of the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate now that
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has become a Democrat. Specter has no announced opponents yet,
although Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), a retired Vice-Admiral now in Congress, has said that
he is considering a primary challenge but it depends on how Specter votes in the next few
months. It could be that Sestak said this merely to remind Specter which party he is in now,
or it could be that Sestak is serious about running. Some people in the left-wing
blogosphere have taken Sestak at his word and started a
campaign already and are raising money for him. If there is one thing that gets politicians'
attention it is money, especially when it is being raised for or against them.
The likely Republican nominee is Pat Toomey, who is so far to the right of the
Pennsylvania electorate that he has almost no chance to win the general election, no
matter who the Democratic nominee is and no matter how bloody the primary is.
Huntman to Be Ambassador to China
are reporting that President Obama will name Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) ambassador to China.
In the medium term, this is a smart move for Obama. In the longer term it may not be
so good for the Democrats. Naming Republican Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese going back to his
time as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, to such a key foreign policy position, enhances
Obama's reputation as being bipartisan--without it costing him anything.
Furthermore, Huntsman is clearly a rising star in the GOP and might have challenged Obama in
2012. This appointment eliminates that possibility. However, the ploy might backfire
eventually since this tour of duty gives Huntsman heavy-duty foreign-policy credentials.
Could somebody use being Ambassador to China as a springboard to the presidency?
Well, it worked for George H.W. Bush (although Bush also had other foreign-policy experience
as well). So this manoeuver moves a potential Huntsman candidacy from 2012 to 2016.
Ron Paul's Son May Challenge Bunning
The son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Rand Paul, a surgeon who lives in Kentucky, is
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) in the Republican senatorial primary in 2010. The senior Paul,
an eccentric by any measure, ran for President in 1988 as a Libertarian and in 2008 as a
Republican. He didn't win either contest but raised money by the boatload.
If the younger Paul can attract his father's supporters, he might be a viable primary
candidate. Of course a messy primary could weaken an already unpopular Bunning even more
and increase the chances that Democrats Daniel Mongiardo or Jack Conway could win the
Nobody Wants to Take on Reid
Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is not especially popular in his home state of
Nevada and could be vulnerable if the Republicans can come up with a top-tier candidate.
But so far,
nobody wants to try.
The governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons (R-NV), has been
embroiled to more scandals than anyone can count at this point and the lieutenant governor,
Brian Krolicki (R-NV), is currently under indictment. The state's only Republican
Congressman, Dean Heller, has been completely mum on the subject of a Senate race.
The state's other senator, John Ensign (R-NV), is not likely to be of much use since
he and Reid have an agreement not to go after each other, and with Reid by far the more
powerful of the two, Ensign would be foolish to break the agreement. Unless somebody
pops out of the woodwork quickly, Reid may luck out and get a free pass.
Arkansas Senate Candidate Calls Schumer "That Jew"
The only announced candidate challenging Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in 2010 so far is
minority leader of the state Senate, Kim Hendren. In a speech this week he
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) "that Jew."
A blogger caught him and all of a sudden it was national news.
Kendren immediately said he wasn't his fault because he is a gaffe machine.
Schumer wasn't angry with him, but many people remember what a single word--macaca--did to
former senator George Allen in 2006.
Cooper Will Not Challenge Burr in North Carolina
Finally, some good news for the Republicans concerning the Senate. North Carolina
Attorney General Roy Cooper has
that he will not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in 2010.
Cooper was the Democrats' strongest candidate to run for this "cursed seat" (it has flipped
parties five times in a row now). Nevertheless, the Democrats have a
in the state, with numerous representatives and state legislators potentially interested in
challenging the unpopular Burr. And all of them know how a relatively unknown challenger,
now-senator Kay Hagan (D), upset superstar former senator Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008.
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