Answering a Few More Questions
I did a live chat yesterday but -- as usual -- I wasn't able to get to all the great questions that were submitted. I plucked out a few of the leftovers and answered them below. Enjoy.
Harrisburg, Pa.: I would please appreciate your thought on this observation: The national Democratic advisers are telling Bob Casey, Democrat running for U.S. Senate here and who has the lead according to the polls, to play this election safe and say very little. They seem to fear saying too much can blow the lead, meanwhile they can sit back and hope that Rick Santorum keeps saying enough controversial things that he can continue to self-destruct. Yet, I believe, as a nonpartisan observation, that the voters at the end may look at the two and say: I don't agree with all that Santorum says, but at least he is out there speaking his mind while Casey is just another wishy-washy politician. I believe Santorum can pull off another election upset. What do you think?
The Fix: There is little debate that Casey has run a "Rose Garden" strategy so far. He has avoided taking positions on contentious issues of the day and has not even made the rounds of the political handicappers in Washington yet. Instead, Casey has focused on raising money and looking as little like a candidate as he can.
This strategy made sense in 2005 for two major reasons. First, Casey is vulnerable to the charge that he is is only interested in running for office, not serving (he ran for governor in 2002, treasurer in 2004 and now Senate). And by keeping him off the campaign trail it seeks to solidify his image as an elected official not just a campaigner. Second, Santorum struggled in 2005 to get a consistent message to the state's voters -- many of whom already see him as too conservative for their liking. So as Santorum floundered, Casey's best move was to stay in the background and let national Democrats and the media take their swipes at the Senator.
BUT... that was a successful 2005 strategy, not necessarily a winning 2006 blueprint. Over the next few months, Casey will need to prove himself as a Senate candidate and rumors have been rampant that he is inconsistent on the trail. Don't underestimate Santorum's stump abilities -- he is talented politicians with a massive campaign warchest.
Ames, Iowa: Will the ever popular mayor of Las Vegas run for Senate in Nevada. What are the Democrats chances there?
The Fix: I wrote about this contest in a post earlier today. I still think Goodman is something of a longshot to run, and even if he runs would be the underdog against Sen. John Ensign (R). Jack Carter, the eldest son of former President Jimmy Carter, is the likely Democratic nominee if Goodman takes a pass. If it's Carter versus Ensign this fall, Republicans should feel very good about their chances of holding the seat.
Washington, D.C.: I'm puzzled that people keep thinking that Democrats have a chance to win statewide elections in Alaska. Republicans have a 2:1 registration edge over Democrats; the state is increasingly Republican, and its people are desperate to develop its resources more aggressively. Why should they vote for a Democrat?
The Fix: Alaska is a Republican state, but it has shown a willingness to elect Democrats to state office -- people like former Gov. Tony Knowles, who is contemplating a return bid in 2006. Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) has still yet to make a decision on whether he will seek a second term (a self-imposed January deadline is the most recent to go by the board) and several Republicans have already lined up to run. Knowles would be formidable in an open seat contest. I would make a major distinction between running for state and federal office in Alaska. Contests for federal offices tend to devolve into partisan squabbles, which make it difficult for Democrats to win given the decided Republican registration edge (see Knowles's 2004 Senate loss as evidence).
Conn.: How about the likely primary challenge to Joe Lieberman in Conn.? Lamont is likely to announce his official candidacy this week, and Joe is seriously at risk for not being the one supported by the Conn. Democratic Party (He's more loved by the Reps. there than the Dems.). Could be interesting.
The Fix: It now does seem likely that wealthy businessman Ned Lamont will get into the primary race against Lieberman. I am still very skeptical about his chances of seriously testing the incumbent. There is clearly a segment of the Democratic Party in Connecticut unhappy with Lieberman, but that bloc alone will not deliver Lamont an upset victory. Lieberman's polling numbers remain strong and he had more than $4 million in the bank at the end of 2005.
Philadelphia.: I've been following the races for a few months now but I can't seem to answer this question: How in the world can the democrats be so successful in Montana? Is Conrad Burns really in jeopardy, or will this race turn out like the Jim Bunning Kentucky senate race last year?
The Fix: Conrad Burns is in real trouble this fall regardless of his Democratic opponent. The Montana media has focused relentlessly on his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and don't seem likely to let up anytime soon. Burns tacitly acknowledged the damage done by running a 60-second television commercial in which he asserts that Abramoff never influenced him. I think there is one major difference between Bunning in 2004 and Burns in 2006. Bunning's race broke late -- in the late summer and fall he started into a tailspin that he barely emerged from to beat state Sen. Dan Mongiardo (D). Burns spent much of 2005 on the defensive but Republican operatives insist he is off to a much better start this year.
Posted by: DDemo | February 11, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DDemo | February 11, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse
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