Sunday, November 19, 2006

Preparing for the '08 Senate Race

This summer I wrote a guide that I think would have been helpful in '06 (see It's long and drawn out but it needed to cover all of the points that it did. It can and should be used now to help the GOP but winning in '08 is somewhat simpler. A strong national message will definitely help but there are simple things we can do on a race by race level.

For starters, winning the Senate in '08 (or keeping it if the Dems manage to turn off Lieberman or even Tester) seems more than doable. Off hand, it seems that we actually have an advantage. Don't be fazed by the number of seats facing reelection (21R - 12D). There are only 3 or 4 GOP that need protection (NH, MN, CO and maybe OR) and the Dems are extremely vulnerable in cases where you'd least expect it.

Here are the top potentials for the GOP in the Senate and who to run in each.

LA - Suzie Terrell, Bobby Jindal

MT - Marc Racicot - He refused before when asked only once (after the candidate withdrew late in the race) but give him a 2 year start and enough funding (and prodding) and let's see if he bites.

AR - Gov. Huckabee - UPDATED - I'm amazed to see how well Gov. Huckabee handles himself on the national level. Far more important, he's the ideal candidate on many issues. Conservatives need to rally behind a single presidential candidate quickly and Huckabee is a great candidate, as is Duncan Hunter. While I thought that the candidates who've been running for some time now would have unfortunately drowned Huckabee out, I'm pleased to see that this is not the case. Huckabee for President (and for Senate if the GOP does not nominate him). We have two good conservative candidates who come across very well, Gov. Huckabee and Rep. Hunter. Of the two, Huckabee has a much larger organization and considering the way his support base has kept growing, if it continues he may have a realistic shot at the nomination.

SD - Mike Rounds

NJ - Lautenberg may not run again. Even if he does, he's weak compared to Christine Todd Whitman. Sure, she may be the next coming of Lincoln Chafee but I think she'd be more of an Olympia Snowe, her book notwithstanding and that's a chance we'd have to take.

MA - John Kerry is seriously damaged goods. So is any Republican running for Senate in MA. But enter former Governor Celucci and the Dems have a race where they least expect it. Yes, they'll try to brand him as they do with all Republicans, but that doesn't always work and Kerry has more than his fair share of problems. If Celucci reminds people of the reasons for his popularity in MA we'll have a race on our hands.

Other races potentially up for grabs include IL (Turban Durbin), IA (radically left Harkin) and even DE if Biden retires from the Senate and a suitable GOP candidate is found). In CO, if Sen. Allard retires, the GOP would be well advised to look at retiring Gov. Owens. He is still seen as an excellent Governor and is a popular choice. Rockefeller in WV can also be exposed for the ultra-liberal that he is and the danger to national security that he is. Hagel in Nebraska needs to be given every incentive not to retire and some pundits are even looking at a return of Chafee in RI against weaker and less known Dem. Jack Reed (not that this thrills anyone but you've got to take what you can get and Chafee is better than Reed - if he runs as a Republican).

Some of these candidates won't readily wish to run and that's an understatement. Recruitment therefore needs to start now. It took a lot of coaxing to get many of our best candidates to run in '02 and it's fair to expect that this time they will need to be offered many incentives. Appointments can be given to them now and other incentives need to be looked at as well. The GOP can't accept their refusals and needs to pursue them vigorously.


Blue State Republican said...

Yes, Mike Huckabee could easily run for Sentate and win, but he s not a legislator. He is an executive. A doer-- not a talker. Careful with your predictions, as you may be revising them later.


Charlie said...

You make some excellent points. Personally, I'm hoping that Senator Hagel is the Republican nominee for President in 2008. That shouldn't hurt the Republican chances of the Senate, though. While any newcomer would be weaker than Hagel, it shouldn't be too hard to find a Republican that can win in Nebraska.