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Arizona Senate: Can Democrats Unseat Kyl?

Talk to Democratic Senate strategists about their top pick-up chances this fall and they list one open seat (Tennessee) and six challenger races (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Montana, Missouri and Arizona).

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona
It's hard to see how Democrats can win a majority in the Senate this year without defeating Republican Jon Kyl in Arizona. (AP)

For months polling has shown Democratic candidates in six of those seven to be within striking distance of a takeover. The lonely outlier has long been Arizona.

Democrats crowed when wealthy developer -- and former state party chairman -- Jim Pederson decided last year to challenge Sen. Jon Kyl (R), but Pederson's campaign has done little since to justify that confidence.

After months of running a largely listless campaign, Pederson took to the airwaves this week with a 60-second and a 30-second ad aimed at introducing himself to the voters of the state.

The TV ads play heavily on Pederson's humble roots, business success, job-creation credentials and independent ideology.

"I don't care if it's a Republican idea or a Democrat idea," Pederson says in both ads. "I'll be an independent Senator who gets results and puts the people of Arizona ahead of party politics."

Each commercial ends with the tagline: "Jim Pederson: Nobody's senator but ours."

The goal of the ads, which were produced by Struble Eichenbaum Communications, is two-fold: introduce Pederson in a positive way to voters while also laying the groundwork for future contrasting ads against Kyl, who Democrats believe is a conservative ideologue and out of step with the average Arizona voter.

The key to that strategy, however, is fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), whom Pederson has held out as the ideal representative for the state. While Kyl is clearly the more conservative of the two lawmakers (Kyl was rated as more conservative than 80 percent of the Senate in National Journal's most recent vote ratings while McCain was more conservative than 59 percent of the body), McCain is serving as the chairman of Kyl's reelection bid and seems entirely committed to defusing Democratic attempts to drive a wedge between the two men. (Strong support for Kyl is in McCain's interests for a number of reasons -- most importantly because it helps to bolster his bona fides among conservatives in the run-up to his expected run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.)

Pederson's ad should help him close the gap somewhat between he and Kyl in the polls -- although he has a long way to go. No recent polls have been conducted in the contest, but a survey by theBehavior Research Center in January showed Kyl with a 55 percent to 26 percent lead among registered voters and an even wider 60 percent to 26 percent margin among likely voters; 42 percent of the sample rated Kyl's job performance as "excellent" or "good" while 26 percent said he was doing a "fair" job. Only nine percent scored Kyl's job performance as "poor" or "very poor" -- not exactly the "throw the bum out" result Democrats need to win the seat.

The X-factor in the race is immigration, which both parties agree is likely to be the no. 1 issue on the minds of the state's voters come November. During the recent Senate debate on immigration reform, McCain and Kyl were on opposite sides -- the former was a leading voice for a plan that advocated a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants while the latter favoring a much more stringent policy. (The Post's Charles Babington explored this divide in a story earlier this month.)

During a recent press conference at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Pederson castigated Kyl for his immigration stance, which would force undocumented workers to return to their native countries when their work visas ran out. "Pragmatic? No. Realistic? No. Competent? Certainly not," Pederson said of Kyl's approach on the issue.

National Democrats will be watching this contest closely in the next month or so to see if Pederson's ads move his numbers against Kyl in any meaningful way. Remember, Senate Democrats need to pick up six seats to return to the majority in the 110th Congress. That means Democrats must not only knock off the five Republican incumbents in targeted races but also either win the Tennessee open seat (a tough proposition given the South's movement toward Republicans over the past several decades) or oust Kyl.

Check this space tomorrow morning for The Fix's Friday Senate Line -- our latest take on the races to watch this year (the last Senate line is here).

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 13, 2006; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: The Friday Line: Senate Gains Still Looking Certain For Dems


I am a resident of Arizona and very concerned about the American people taking back this country. Bush and his gang of carpet baggers are putting country and the world in one hell of a mess. Nonetheless, I believe the Dems must take over the Senate and the house as quickly as possible. Therefore, they must be honest and tell the truth no matter what! This guy Jim Peterson should let us all know what party he belongs to. He sounds like an independent. We the voters deserve to know where he stands. I think Kyl is a crock and needs to be outed from public office. The Dems need a honest person to run against Kyl.

Posted by: jack jackson | September 4, 2006 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Kyl for us senate. The sharpest mind in politics.

Posted by: Smokey | June 15, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

A couple of people have challenged my assertion that Minnesota is trending Republican. In the last two Presidential elections it has been close to the mid-way point, ie, in close elections it has been marginally Democrat. It has a Republican governor, who succeeded an independent (elected as Reform). Recall that this was once one of THE most Democrat states in America. It was one of only 10 states to vote for Dukakis and was the only state not to vote Reagan either time - admittedly with a favorite son on the Dem ticket both times. It is true that it may have trended as far as it is going to, so perhaps I should have said 'has trended strongly to the GOP since the 80s'. Whether this trend is over remains to be seen. States do change. California was once part of the GOP base (even in 1976, when there was no Californian on the GOP ticket) and Vermont was once the most loyal state in the Republican column. Texas, by contrast, was strongly Democrat into the 1970s. By 1996 (no Texan on the GOP ticket) it was still solidly Republican.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | April 19, 2006 4:26 AM | Report abuse

Jon Davis is so angry that McCain would roll over when called a coward that he... calls John McCain a coward.

Posted by: Will | April 14, 2006 6:24 PM | Report abuse

McCain an ideal senator? John McCain rolled over when a snotty little draft dodger named George W. Bush belittled McCain's considerable war service and patriotism. So while McCain may have been a hero in Viet Nam, he's been nothing but a self-serving, little coward every since he got to Washington D.C.

Posted by: Jon Davis | April 14, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Worried Dem -

I'm not going to count the MD Senate seat in the GOP column when Cardin beats Steele 49%-35% in the latest poll. It would be silly of me to say that Cardin or Mfume will DEFINITELY win this race 7 months out from the election, and conversely it is nothing short of absurd for someone to state as a fact that Steele will definitely win this seat when he is trailing in the polls by 14 points.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 14, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The key for Pederson and the party as a whole is tying Bush/Cheney to said Republican candidate. For an incumbent senator to lose there has to be several factors in play: the discontent has to be huge; there has to be a compelling reason to vote against the incumbent; and the opposition has to seem reasonable (plus a little luck). Pederson looks like he has a chance, but has got to use Bush/Cheney like an anchor around Kyl's neck.

Maryland is tough for the Dem candidates, but the vote will depend on how black voters in Baltimore City and PG perceive Steele and the Dem candidate. If they think he is legit, Steele will be tough to beat. The other factor is the Bush/Cheney link. If you can tie the GOP & Bush/Cheney to Steele, Steele will have a tough time.

The probelem with both Cardin and Mfume is Demographics. They are both from the Baltimore (area) and the power brokers there think they still hold the cards. Unfortunately that train has left the station for Montgomery and PG County. That arrogance will cost Dems if they are not careful.

Posted by: jacketpotato | April 14, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

You have missed what will certainly prove the most exciting and portentous senatorial primary battle: that between fast-fading Joe Lieberman and fast-rising Ned Lamont in Connecticut.

Mark my words. Come August 9, the national media will be resounding with the astonishing message that Connecticut voters have sent to the national Democratic Party- we won't stand for any more pandering to the Far Right; we vote for fighters who stand up to the Republican extreme. Ned Lamont will have become a national phenomenon and Bush's protege Lieberman will be history.

Posted by: John | April 14, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse


Senator Nelson approval only at 49% makes this and $10 M a competitive race for now.

Posted by: RMill | April 14, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

a number of people have noted that your analysis, whether by design or by the typical beltway-focussed nature, is too heavily weighted to the Eastern seaboard, when all the ground chatter says that it's in the West that the GOP will suffer the largest surprise defeats.

Any chance you're going to try to work with people in the other regions to get a more accurate representation?

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 14, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I know Jon Kyl who went to law school wsith me. He will be HARD to beat. Pedersen has the best shot and WOULD win if the seat was open. I still don't feel that the Democrats are ikn major danger of losi ng ANY present seats. Yes, NJ, Wash, MN, Neb, Md & Fla COULD be lost in a GOP landslide; but the opposite is happening this year. Both Nelsons (Fla & Neb) are popular enough to win in red states. NJ & MN are true blue as is Wash--ditto for MD despite the racial issue.
I amticipate relatively easy Demo pickups in Ohio, RI, Pa, & Montana. I DO expect Ford to win TN; he is moderate enough to pick up Gore's old seat. Talent IS vulnerable in Mo. Two sleeper Demo pickups could be in Va & Nev---both trending Demo lately. I don't understood why there iks not a major chasllenge in true-blue Maine; the two "liberal" Republicans there are about as out of step with their constituents as Chafee in RI.
I predict exactly 6 net change---and Demo control of the Senate (with Vt. Bernie Sanders voting w/ them) come November.

Posted by: Gary Klahr | April 14, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Maryland will be close, but it will be a Steele win, I'm afraid. Steele crosses racial lines in a way that none of the Dems can (blacks voting for a white Dem simply because he's a Democrat and they've always voted for Democrats doesn't count). Steele appeals to self-described conservatives, both black and white, and also appeals to blacks who might not self-identify as conservative but nevertheless hold views that might be characterized as socially conservative. He'll pick up many more black votes if Cardin is the Dem nominee -- the state party's early presumption that Cardin will be the nominee will be the last straw for many black voters tired of being taken for granted. If Mfume gets the nomination, it's over -- he's very capable but is so closely identified with the diminished-status post-civil rights era NAACP and the rest of the so-called "black leadership" that he won't appeal to a broad enough class of voters, regardless of his qualifications.

It didn't have to be this way, but it's the penalty we'll pay for the disaster of 2002 -- the idiots running the state party badly overplayed their hand with black voters (an all-white gubernatorial ticket playing the race card? WTF did they think they were doing?!), and it will cost us a Senate seat in 06. Btw, and shamefully, the oreo story is true.

There are black Democrats in MD who are capable and whose ideas would have a broad enough appeal to beat Steele, but the party's long-standing refusal to offer a black candidate to white voters has kept them invisible. Count the MD Senate seat in the GOP column.

Posted by: Worried Dem | April 14, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Basic question:
How do you pronounce Pederson's name? Is Ped prounounced like the E in Ed or eat?


Posted by: dc | April 14, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse


BREAKING NEWS April 13, 2006 -- Former Alaska Democratic Senator Mike Gravel (1979-81) is the first candidate to formally announce and file the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that he is a candidate for President in 2008. Gravel will announce his candidacy at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, April 17 at 9:30 am. Gravel took on Richard Nixon over the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and the Vietnam War and in the late 1980s, Gravel was one of the first to take on the powerful Bush-Baker-Carlucci war profiteering cartel, The Carlyle Group. In 1980, Gravel was defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary. The Democratic candidate was beaten by Frank Murkowski, who is now one of the most unpopular governors in the history of Alaska. Murkowski appointed his daughter to succeed him in the U.S. Senate. Gravel, a veteran politician, has very new ideas on how to rescue this nation from the brink of bankruptcy and total collapse. Many nations have turned to veteran politicians and statesmen in time of national need: Winston Churchill in Britain, Charles deGaulle in France, Konrad Adenauer in Germany, Andreas Papandreou in Greece, Deng Xiaoping in China, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, David Ben Gurion in Israel, and George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, and Theodore Roosevelt in the United States.

Over the last decade and a half, the United States has gambled one too many times with untested, immature, and inexperienced political hacks in the White House. Its time for adult supervision for a change. In what may also be the first presidential editorial endorsement, Mike Gravel has the support of WMR in his quest for the White House and our readers are invited to join us at the National Press Club for Gravel's announcement on Monday morning.

Former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel: First declared candidate for President of the United States

More on Gravel here.
Event Date: Apr. 17, 2006
Event Name: Mike Gravel for President
Event Type: News Conference
Time: 9:30 AM
Sponsored by: Mike Gravel for President 2008
Event Location: Zenger Room, National Press Club
Details: Mike Gravel for President 2008

Contact: Elliott Jackson @202-460-8340,

Posted by: che | April 14, 2006 4:35 AM | Report abuse

I live in Arizona and think that Kyl is a poor senator. However, I will not vote for Pederson. What we don't need in the Senate is another Ben Nelson or Mary Landrieu. They are worse than Kyl.

Posted by: bowie | April 13, 2006 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I agree with many of the others in the seems silly to say that he is somehow not a Democrat. If he plans to make this a competitive race he is going to have to take on McCain too, and for that he needs the full force of the Democratic base. McCain is a ideologue who has portrayed himself much differently than he votes. He needs to be challenged and the time is now.

Posted by: Gerald | April 13, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The key to this race lies in publicizing Kyl's record. I know Pederson from previous campaigns (when he was head of the state Democratic party), and he is a bright guy with a good story. From what I hear, he's an improving campaigner. But Kyl is Arizona's unknown Senator. He serves as nothing more than echo chamber for the Bush administration, which is certainly a liability right now. I think his views are more extreme than those of his constituents, and the race will get more competitive when his record is publicized. He's a little out there.

Posted by: Hunter Thomson | April 13, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I think that there's a chance for Pederson, but it is highly unlikely. Remember: Incumbency means everything for U.S. Senate races.

It will be interesting to see...

I agree with the earlier guy: Virginia and Tennesee are the states to watch, and I would throw in Minnesota (Democrats could lose Minnesota if they're not careful) and Ohio--Ohio being closely watched for implications of voter sentiment, for presidential politics 2008. Ohio has hurriedly come into play, and looks to be another battleground.

Should be an interesting November...

Posted by: Avid Politics Fan | April 13, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree Judge, there are a few races that have not entirely been tossed out yet. Arizona is one of those because not everyone knows who Pederson is. Same can be said in New Jersey where not everyone knows Menendez. DeVos is solving that problem against Granholm and its showing in the polls. McGavick is also pulling it off in Washington against Cantwell with name recognition.

Other races that I think may become more competetive as time goes on are Arizona, Washington, Nevada, and Virginia

I expect New Jersey to become a non-issue.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 13, 2006 8:56 PM | Report abuse

maybe Jim Pederson should review Brad Carson's failed Senate bid in Oklahoma in 04. He tried the same strategy too -- "I'm an Oklahoma Democrat."

Fell on his face in a presidential year red state with an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot.

Carson ran a smart campaign that withered in the last month facing a Club for Growth ad blitz tying him to Hillary and Kerry.

Didn't help much that he overextended on an attack ad against Tom Coburn, and wouldn't at least acknowledge his base.

Arizona and Oklahoma are different electorates -- and it's a different political climate and electoral landscape -- but there are enough similarities to make comparisons and draw some reliable conclusions.

FYI -- love the FIX!

Posted by: rusty | April 13, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I moved to Arizona from southern California two years ago and I find the politics here to be more libertarian than anything else. We have a wacky legislature and a moderate Democrat Governor, who uses her veto pen on a weekly basis. The key to unseating Kyl will be the hispanic vote. Hispanics are being registered now in large numbers and they don't like Kyl's positions.

Posted by: Tim Ryder | April 13, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I moved to Arizona from southern California two years ago and I find the politics here to be more libertarian than anything else. We have a wacky legislature and a moderate Democrat Governor, who uses her veto pen on a weekly basis. The key to unseating Kyl will be the hispanic vote. Hispanics are being registered now in large numbers and they don't like Kyl's positions.

Posted by: Tim Ryder | April 13, 2006 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Arizona has a very unique political climate. In the more densely-populated urban areas, it is a lot like Southern California. In other parts, it is more like the Midwest "heartland". There is an interesting clash of political styles, with a fairly liberal governor and a rather conservative legislature, at play in AZ. One thing that most Arizonans have in common, however, is an independent streak a mile wide.

By painting himself as an independent thinker like McCain, Peterson could presumably topple Kyl (particularly if the latter is seen as in lockstep with GWB). But Dan, I just don't agree that having an independent ideology while running as a Democrat makes him a liar. It only means that he will not automatically vote according to Harry Reid's dictates, a position that may endear him to the average Arizonan.

Posted by: Venicemenace | April 13, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I actually watched the ads; not bad. He's obviously trying to channel John McCain in his choice of language. Can't argue with that.

As Rob Millette points out, it's early in the game, folks. The expected barrage of ads hasn't even begun in many places. The polls don't mean much either way at the moment IMHO.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 13, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I think that Arizona is on the list because there are still a lot of people who don't know who Jim Pederson is. I think the polls will begin to change as he hits the airwaves and really gets going.

Maryland will not even be close. Cardin will win the primary and blow Steele out of the water. Steele has just thrown too many opportunities out the door.

I don't think Florida will be at all competetive and I think Virginia will be more competetive than people expect.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 13, 2006 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Arizona legislature just pass a bill on immigration that is much closer to Kyl's position then McCains'? In fact, I believe this legislation will be a big problem for the Guv there who is making threatening veto noises. If she vetoes it I wouldn't plan on her helping anybody win.

As far as polls go, I believe Zogby had one of the worst accuracy rates while I know Rasmussen had the best (according to 2004 races)

Posted by: Kate | April 13, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

RMill - Interesting listing and insightful comments as always, but I wonder why you would rank Harris as a competitive candidate in light of all her MANY recent problems. I know she's rich, but her entire campaign team just quit, her old campaign manager has said publicly that she can't win, and Jeb Bush isn't going to be on the ballot with her. Moreover, she will draw Dems out to vote (b/c of her 2000 role) like few others can. Personally, my only fear about Fla. is that Harris flames out too early and Jeb ends up running for the seat. Then I’d be scared, since the voters in the State seem to love the guy (though I don’t understand why).

Posted by: Colin | April 13, 2006 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Harris has only put $3 million of the promised $10 million into her campaign.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 13, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

More appropriate for tomorrows posting on Friday Line. However, the consensus on Cook , Sabato and CQ shows more than 5 vulnerable R seats (my rankings):

1. PA R
2. MT R
3. MN D O
4. RI R
5. MO R
6. OH R
7. NJ D
8. WA D
9. MD D O
10.TN R O


I actually believe that MD will be safe for D's and TN safe for R's but because they are open seats, I left them in the top 10. I would ultimately replace with FL and VA. Harris with $10 M and Jeb Bush and VA Allen is facing tough competition from Webb and Warner will be helping out testing his power.

More tomorrow.

Posted by: RMill | April 13, 2006 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Kyl is a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration. He needs to go, now.

Posted by: Shag | April 13, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The Arizona Senate race is interesting for many reasons. Jon Kyl definitely has vulnerabilities - he has a very conservative voting record but a very moderate constituency - but the question is can Pederson and Democrats take advantage? Pederson is wealthy so apparently financing a campaign will not be a problem. He is also helped by the fact that Janet Napolitano, Arizona's very popular Democratic governor, is up for reelection and will be on the ballot this November. He will also benefit from the expected national anti-republican wind. Still, Pederson has a big challenge in unseating Kyl, who remains popular.

I think people who count Arizona as the #6 seat Democrats need to pick up are overlooking the Virginia race. If Jim Webb makes it through the primary I don't give George Allen much of a chance. Personally, I think both Tennessee and Virginia are much more likely to switch than Arizona at this point. If dems do end up winning Arizona, it will likely be icing on the cake.

Quentin I don't know who this "strong GOP challenger" in Nebraska is that you speak of. Ben Nelson has a huge campaign chest, and he is the #4 most popular senator in the country with a net approval rating of +47% (70% approval, 23% disapproval). I don't care if Bush won Nebraska with 70% or 100% of the vote for that matter. That was in 2004 when Bush had a good approval in Nebraska, now his approval is at least 20% lower. Also, his name will not be on the ballot this fall, Nelson's will. and like I said, Nelson is at 70%.

While the point that Democrats also have to defend all of their open seats is a valid one, it is very unlikely that we will lose any of these races. The only race I am truly concerned about is Minnesota b/c Kennedy has so much money and Pawlenty as of right now does not have a very strong dem challenger that I know of. That said, Klobuchar only has to say two words to defeat him in my opinion: George Bush. Kennedy would be nothing but another rubber-stamp republican. Minnesota is NOT trending red, and will not elct a Bush lapdog.

New Jersey is only close right now b/c so many people think that Tom Kean Jr. is his father. When people figure out it is his son, he will lose handily to Menendez.

Brittain33 hit the nail right on the head. Steele is only considered the stronger candidate in the Maryland Senate race by delusional wingnuts. To have a chance at winning this race, The Fix has said he would need to run a flawless campaign and catch several breaks. Wow. He has done neither. From comparing stem cell research to Nazi "experiments" on Jews, to making up a story about oreos being thrown at him, to losing half his staff, Steele is done.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 13, 2006 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Kyl's biggest enemy in this battle is McCain. Arizonan's love McCain, don't know a thing about Kyl. If they know anything about Kyl, it's that he is lockstep with Bush, extreme right wing, and lobbyists that have corrupted Washington. Arizonans deserve an independent thinker that will represent Arizona, not D.C. folks. Go Pederson!

Posted by: David | April 13, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

US Senate

Survey USA
Feb 27

Pederson 33%
Kyl 57%

March Approval
Kyl 45%
Feb Approval
Kyl 47%

March 30

Pederson 33%
Kyl 56%


Pederson 42.1%
Kyl 47.1%

Posted by: RMill | April 13, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

This is another typically weak, straddle-the fence Dem candidate who will lose to an otherwise easily defeatable opponent. Focus on the encumbent's wacky illogical wing-nut positions, go negative earl and often, take no prisoners, and stand for the little guy publicly while pandering to the wing nuts who control the state is how you defeat a wing-nut incumbent.

Posted by: Typical | April 13, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it is accurate to say minnesota is trending republican. This a myth that stems from the unusual circumstance of the 2000 and 2002 elections. The now Republican Governor was running against two liberal candidates,a former democratic congressman and the DFL leader of the state senate, who split the Democratic vote. Nader captured a sizable portion of the liberal vote significantly reducing margins in the presedential election, and the effect the Wellstone tragedy and ensuing memorial service needs no explanation in this forum. The fact of the matter is democrats have outperformed expections in the 2004 election, increasing margins and capturing several state house seats for a huge net gain regardless of numerous visits from the president. Can anyone speak of an election in recent history where republicans did well in minnesota without the help of a third party , whether it be an independent, green or circumstance.

Posted by: junior | April 13, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Must agree with Tony re: Maryland senate seat. Steele has run a lousy campaign so far, making up a story about people raining down oreos on him, saying he's fine with Ehrlich holding a fundraiser at a whites only country club, and my personal favorite, telling a room full of Jews that stem cell research is equivalent to Nazi experimentation on Jews during the Holocaust. That's an impressively dumb thing to say. Not to mention a variety of campaign staff jumping ship. Once the dem primary is settled, Cardin or Mfume will win relatively easily.

Posted by: Roadrunner | April 13, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I believe correct usage is " between Him and Kyl" not between he and Kyl.

Posted by: | April 13, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

TWS was that poll done with just the general population or with Registered voters?

Also I think Kyl could run into trouble if he gets too close too McCain. Not because McCain is unpopular, but because he is TOO popular. It gives Pederson an excellent oppurtunity to compare the two head to head. Since everyone (and I mean everyone) in Zona likes McCain if Pederson is successful at painting himself as more McCain like (ie middle of the road, same side on immigration etc) he can succesfully paint Kyl as the outsider of the three.

Posted by: Andy R | April 13, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone is calling Steele a stronger candidate than Cardin after he compared stem cell research to Auschwitz in front of a Jewish audience.

Posted by: Brittain33 | April 13, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Which evidence shows that Minnesota is trending Republican? The fact that 16 Republican House members lost their seats in Nov. '04 and they continue to lose special legislative elections, or the fact that Kerry pulled 3 percentage points more in 2004 than Gore did in 2000 while only matching Gore's performance nationwide?

Posted by: Brittain33 | April 13, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse


You are clearly right that the Dems face a tall order in taking back the Senate, but I think you overstate the difficulty they will face in holding their own seats.

Nebraska is Nebraska, but Nelson is popular enough that he should win. I think many people in Maryland would contest your statement "that everyone agrees" that Steele is a stronger candidate. A Steele victory is a longshot. As for Minnesotay, that race would be close if Bush had 50%= approvals. With Bush in the low 40s (or high 30s), Kennedy loses by 6-8 points, in a state that already leans (slightly) to the Dems.

Posted by: Tony Mendoza | April 13, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Actually, more recently polling is available from Zogby, March 21-27( The results put the race much closer, with Kyl at 47% and Pederson at 42%.

In the current political atmosphere, Kyl seems a prime target.

Posted by: TWS | April 13, 2006 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Any Democrat that says things like,

"I don't care if it's a Republican idea or a Democrat idea."

I believed is doomed to failure. He is already buying into GOP talking points by calling his own party the "Democrat Party" instead of the Democratic Party. It's an epithet and it shows me that he doesn't really understand how to draw contrasts between the GOP and the Democrats.

Posted by: Adam | April 13, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

to Peter:
Do you know how popular McCain is in Arizona? It's really not such a bad strategy, although the fact that McCain is chairing Kyl's campaign makes it a little strange.

Posted by: Greg | April 13, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that the Dems should claim Arizona as a target in the face of polling evidence which appears to put it out of reach. Perhaps they see it - not without reason - as a state trending their way. But there is another factor at work. If the DSCC listed only six targets it would face a credibility problem. The party needs six NET gains to take control of the Senate. Even with seven targets that is a very challenging environment. Six gains plus holding all the states where they face strong GOP challenges is really tough. Recall they are defending Nebraska (Bush by 70% in 2004). There are open seats in Minnesota (trending Republican, though still deep purple) and Maryland (bright blue, but everyone agrees that the GOP has much the stronger candidate).

Democrat gains are very possible, and at this point even look likely. But six net gains is difficult to believe.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | April 13, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

If Pederson is "holding out McCain as the ideal representative for the state," he is making a fatal mistake. McCain is shifting to the right and becoming more partisan, beginning with his Republican National Convention speech. He has never shown any interest in supporting or praising Democratic candidates, and he is courting the right wing in anticipation of his 2008 White House bid. What are Democrats thinking?

Posted by: Peter | April 13, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

If he is claiming to be an Independent Senator, shouldn't he be running as an Independent? By running as a Democrat and claiming to be an Independent, he is "I am a liar."

He is either a party member or he isn't. He can't be both.

Posted by: Dan | April 13, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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