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N.Y. Senate: Hillary Coasting to Reelection

Former Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro (R) today announced that she is giving up on her bid against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and instead will run for New York attorney general.

The Pirro switch had been in the works for weeks as she had huddled with various Republican Party leaders in New York who encouraged her to get into a more winnable race. She becomes the second GOP candidate to back out of challenging HRC; Ed Cox, the son-in-law of President Richard Nixon, dropped from the contest earlier in the fall after Gov. George Pataki (R) endorsed Pirro.  The lone remaining Republican candidate at the moment is former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer.

Let's hope that Pirro's departure brings an end to the wall-to-wall coverage of the New York race being competitive  From the moment that former New York City Rudy Giuliani (R) made clear that he had no interest in a Senate bid, this race was a non-starter. Sen. Clinton is the odds on favorite against any other GOP challenger  (Check out the latest poll matching Clinton against Pirro if you need empirical evidence.)

The only questions remaining remaining in regard to Clinton's reelection is how big her winning margin is and how much money she has in the bank in November 2006.

Clinton set the bar relatively high in 2000 when she won the open-seat race against then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R) with 55 percent of the vote -- a larger margin than polls had predicted. Given that result, anything under 60 percent is somewhat disappointing for Clinton. Above 60 and she can reasonably claim a mandate for her style of leadership -- a nice launching pad for her expected 2008 presidential bid.

As for money, the sky appears to be the limit.  Clinton will surely spend $10 million (or more) on positive ads statewide to drive up her vote totals.  But unless something changes drastically in the Republican field, she will not be forced into any sort of prolonged television battle.

At the end of September, Clinton had raised $27 million for her reelection campaign and had a staggering $14 million on hand.  Again, her 2000 race serves as a rough guide for expectations setting.  In that campaign, she raised and spent $41 million -- a total that does not include the millions in donor dollars she steered toward the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to support her candidacy.

Given that the contribution limits on individuals have doubled since Clinton first ran five years ago, it seems entirely reasonable to expect her to raise in the neighborhood of $80 million this time around. And, even if she speeds up her current spending pace in 2006, Clinton will have (conservatively) $20-30 million on hand when she wins reelection next November.

Every penny of that war chest could be transferred directly to a presidential account -- a prospect that should strike fear in all of her potential Democratic primary opponents and even the Republicans eyeing their party's 2008 nomination.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 21, 2005; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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While many voters (regardless of party affliation) dislike Hillary, there's a huge proportion of votes that would support her candidacy.

As a Democrat in New York, I want to see her re-elected to the senate with alot of money left over from her senate campaign.

No GOP in New York wants to stand against her. Pirro was a sore loser to begin with. If the GOP seriously wanted to make her spend more $$$ for her senate re-election, they would have courted some big GOP names. But they didn't.

Posted by: HRC supporter | December 23, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

What, no mention of her upstart challenger in the primaries?

My family had always been big supporters of both Bill and Hillary -- Hillary even moreso than Bill, of course.

But Hillary will not win the Democratic nomination for Prez. For one, her politics on Iraq have been too gutless, supine, unprincipled. Her stands on civil liberties and the necessary Bush impeachment have been nonexistent. Can't find any get-tough rhetoric from Hillary.

Co-sponsoring a bill to ban flag-burning isn't going to win Hillary any right-wing or independent votes. And it won't appeal to "her" base, either. It'll alienate supporters already inclined to vote Democratic -- as has already happened on other issues central to the national interest.

That's Joe Lieberman-style politics -- and we all know what happened to his candidacy. Hillary may well finish a close second -- but it's equally possible she'll just fade away early, like Lieberman.

If Hillary IS the Democratic nominee in 2008 -- I won't vote for her. And I've ALWAYS voted for the Dem nominee -- regardless of the other options -- and regardless of how dissatisfied I was with Gore, Mondale, Dukakis, etc.

But not this time.

The DLC folks think its either them (Hillary, Lieberman) or GW Bush -- they think we HAVE to vote for them. It's the same poor logic that has lost election after election. It's the same bankrupt thinking that has clothed the avoidance of good policy, sound leadership and principled, Constitutional -- in a phony centrism. It's the costume jewelry of moderate, responsible leadership.

Hillary's judgement in deciding to run in 2008 is very poor, and for any number of reasons.

Posted by: SombreroFallout | December 23, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Most HRC bashers dont vote Democratic anyway. They call themselves libetarians and/or progressives. These folks dont care if a Democrat wins, they only care about who will support their one or two issues. Its the people of the fringe of both the GOP and Dem. party that is splitting this nation apart. IMO in HRC can bring people together to solve the real issues in America, then she deserves a shot. I just dont want to see another inexperienced politican (Edwards) (Bush) Dukasis) at the top of the Dem ticket. What amazes me is the fear and loathing that HRC brings out, particularly in with white males. Guys you are going to have to face reality, the US will one day have a female president. Right at this moment HRC may be that person. I certainly dont see the merits of a Condaleeza Rice who has enabled King George to bring the nation down to the level of a communist rogue backwoods nation-building, arrogant country.

Posted by: ImpeachBushNow | December 22, 2005 10:13 PM | Report abuse

As a Republican in New York, I do not want to see Hillary Clinton re-elected. She may be difficult to defeat because the Democrats have an edge in the number of enrolled voters. Even if Republicans cannot defeat her, we will make sure she spends almost all of her money. I wouldn't want to count on having $20 million in Nov. 2006 if I were her.

Posted by: PiaPium | December 22, 2005 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Tom Coburn's constituents think he's great too, but do you want a theocrat in the White House? Hillary doesn't believe in anything like the things that I believe in. It's not Hillary bashing - it's a preference for someone who actually represents our views.

That said, Hillary is scary - changing her positions on everything to try to be all things to all people except the left wing of the party - she takes us for granted, but she needs to reconsider that thinking. We will not be there for her - or Wesley Clark or Evan Bayh or Joseph Biden.

Posted by: DZ | December 22, 2005 6:10 PM | Report abuse

With all the Hillary bashing you'd think she was a terrible Senator. Why don't we ask her constituents?

Clinton, Hillary 63% 33%

Wow, that's not bad. She must be doing a good job of representing her constituents.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 22, 2005 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Only the dinasaur fanatic remnants of Gloria Stienem's rediculous feminazi separatist ideas endorse Hillary. Next time someone says Hillary would make a great president or can win... Ask them what they think of Gloria Steinem...

Hun Hillary and republicans control the whitehouse for eight more years.


Posted by: Only Gloria's Fans like Hillary | December 22, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Hillary is just another DLC loser - GOP lite. I have waited now almost 40 years to have a candidate to vote for - Hillary isn't it. If she is the Dem candidate in 2008, I stay home and find a third party.

Posted by: DZ | December 22, 2005 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Hillary will never be president - rather the republicans will be in for another eight years if she is allowed to be the Democrat's candidate.

For that reason I and my friends in liberal califorina will be aggressively campaigning for her opponents in the primary.

Fortunately for us, she is a hypocrite lawyer and will undo her cabdidacy for president all on her own.

Remember the Rose Law Firm billing records fiasco? "Oh yeah - look it miraculously appeared on a table in plain sight"

How about her hair-splitting on Iraq?

This type of lawyerly behavior is despised by Americans.

Posted by: Hillary Can't Win '08 | December 22, 2005 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the PopulistDemocrat. Eight years of the Clinton's was enough. The Dems need to get their act together. I am listed as a popR but I am more of a libertarian in thinking. I will vote for Democrat if the right one comes along. The Republicans have been in charge too long - just like the Democrats were until 1994. One party in charge too long is a bad thing. If Hillary gets the Democratic nomination, I'll have to hold my nose and vote Republican. I feel as if I will have no choice. If Warner gets it, then it is more of a toss-up. As for the Brits, they can have the Clintons. I'd be glad to give them a one way pass out of the country.

Posted by: PopulistRepublican | December 22, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I do not hate Hillary. She is a needed voice in the Senate. Would I vote for her in primaries? No, she is probably my seventh pick to be our nominee. I am a big John Edwards fan, but I like Mark Warner. I am from Florida, and I saw him speak and he was convincing. I go to or

It has some neat stuff on him. He would make a better candidate than Hillary any day of the week.

Posted by: Josh | December 22, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I do not hate Hillary. She is a needed voice in the Senate. Would I vote for her in primaries? No, she is probably my seventh pick to be our nominee. I am a big John Edwards fan, but I like Mark Warner. I am from Florida, and I saw him speak and he was convincing. I got to or and his record is quite distinguishable. Here is just some of his accomplsihments:

# Turned a $6 billion deficit into a $544 Million surplus
# Eliminated or merged more than 70 duplicative or unnecessary boards and commissions and eight state agencies
# Salvaged Virginia's threatened AAA bond rating
# Double-digit unemployment has plummeted in 12 of 13 of the most distressed counties
# 2nd lowest jobless rate in the nation
# 97% of all eligible children enrolled in heath care
# Single largest investment in K-12 education in state history
# Second largest increase in college and university funding in the nation
# Highest math SAT score increase in the nation
# The Council of Chief State School Officers Most Prestigious 2005
Distinguished Service Award
# 700 miles of broadband connecting nearly 700,000 citizens and more than 19,000 businesses

Posted by: Josh | December 22, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

God, I pray every night that Hillary does not win our Democrat nomination for Presidency. I am not ready for another 8 years of Republican control. Hillary has the highest negatives of any candidate in the field. She is losing by a high margin when paired against a Republican opponent like John McCain. I do not like how she is positioning herself as a moderate conservative. What Democrat wants a moderate conservative as our President. She won by a margin of 55% in New York worse than any Democrat pulls NY in Presidential race. Her record is small compared to a man rated best governor in the nation Mark Warner, or the unchallenged record of Evan Bayh. She does not have the foreign policy strengths of Wes Clark. She will be labeled as another Northeast liberal, and will not pull not one Southern state. She would have to run a campaign like Kerry. Compete in 16 states and bank on number 17. I am tired of those kind of campaigns. We need a candidate that can compete in all 50 states like Warner or Bayh could. Also, what area are we weak in? The male vote, we already have the woman vote, but if we lose anymore of the male vote we will lose more votes there than Hillay can gain in the woman vote. Again, I am going to pray that was rated one of top Governor's in nation by Time, and under his contol led the best managed state in the nation. Of course this man is Mark Warner, a man that can take back the South, that can win in Midwest, and will not allow another 8years of Republican control. Hillary numbers in polls are one sided. Voters go by name recognition, and see Clinton and say Clinton. What is more shocking that she has a higher voter ID than McCain but is losing to him by 10 percent in polls. Hopefully, for our party's sake, and most importantly our contries sake voters see that the right candidate is Mark Warner. I come from the crucial state of Ohio, and I can tell you that she does not have college liberals support nor the support of the average voter I have talken to in Ohio. They know that she can not win, and really who wants to see all these scandals resurface (and they will) plauge our airwaves.

Posted by: PopulistDemocrat | December 22, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Time for women to run this country:-

Hillary for President and Napolitano for Vice President!

posted by a proud liberal from a very RED RED RED state.

Posted by: Amy | December 22, 2005 11:31 AM | Report abuse

As a Brit we in the UK would love Hillary to become President. I support Tony Blair's alliance with the USA but it would not have caused him anything like the problems it has caused him here if the US President was a Clinton (either one). The Clintons are popular here. Bush is despised and a laughing stock.

Posted by: jonnysaintsfan | December 22, 2005 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Dems are being spoon fed a recipe for success in 2008,the question is who can best communicate a coherent message to middle America.

I dont care who wins in 2008, just restore some fiscal responsibility and accountability to our government. Lets restore the rights of privacy (impeach both King George and the Duke of Dick, get the government out of peoples lives, balance the budget with real decisions not gimmicks on accounting, reinstill the sense of separation of church and state (intelligent design as science give me a freak'n break), and rescind the tax giveaways to corporations and wealthiest 1%. If Dems cant communicate a vision after the fiasco King George and the Duke of Dick have created here in America and our prestige abroad, then they are an inept bunch. Last but not least put a plan together to get us out of occupation of an foreign land. Where in our constitution does it empower us to do nation building?

Posted by: Clinton II | December 21, 2005 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Pirro is clearly getting bad advice.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | December 21, 2005 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Hillary will win and become the first female president of the United States.

Posted by: | December 21, 2005 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Hillary for President,lets get some leadership back in the white house.

Posted by: withinreason | December 21, 2005 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought Clinton's 2000 victory margin was 56-44. As I'd predicted all along, she won quite comfortably. The bigger races that year (even before Carnahan died) were MO and WA.

Seems to me that reporters who don't know that much about politics simply like to refer back to Hillary as an easy subject.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 21, 2005 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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