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The Line: 3 Governors Races to Watch

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A quick look at the 14 governors races on the ballot in 2007 and 2008 reveals two tiers of races -- the Top Three ... and everyone else.

The Top Three -- gubernatorial contests in Louisiana (2007), Kentucky (2007) and Missouri (2008) -- are real party-switching possibilities. The other 11 races simply aren't developed enough to be considered real turnover chances, although a handful (Indiana, North Carolina and Washington) are likely to move in that direction in the coming months.

For now, there is a HUGE fall-off in terms of takeover potential between the Top Three and the other two races on the list below. That doesn't mean Nos. 4 and 5 on the Line won't ultimately be competitive -- we believe they will -- but rather that as of today they are all not created equal.

As always, the No. 1 ranked race is the most likely to switch party control. Your kudos and criticism are welcome in the comments section.

To the Line!

5. Washington (Currently Democratic): Another month passes and this race remains totally static. Yes, we are close to certain that former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) will opt for a rematch against Gov. Christine Gregoire (D). And yes, we are fairly certain this race will be quite competitive despite the Democratic lean of the state and the tough national environment for Republicans. And, finally, we did see the Elway Research poll in August that showed Gregoire with a (so-so 52 percent of people saying she is doing an excellent or good job and a whopping 46 percent rating her performance fair or poor. This will be a good race ... eventually. (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Indiana (Currently Republican): The two parties have vastly different viewpoints on the reelection chances of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). Republicans believe that Daniels will benefit from presidential-year turnout in a still-red state and a less-than-stellar field of Democratic opponents. Democrats see Daniels's first four years in office as disastrous and full of campaign fodder -- particularly on the continued kerfuffle over rising property taxes. As for the Democratic candidates, establishment support in Washington and Indiana seems to lean architect Jim Schellinger's way, but former Rep. Jill Long Thompson has the name identification statewide to make the race interesting. We're not sure which side we believe just yet on this race, so we're keeping it in the No. 4 slot on the Line for another month. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Missouri (R): Fundraising remains front and center in this contest between Gov. Matt Blunt (R) and state Attorney General Jay Nixon (D). After a mid-July decision by the Missouri Supreme Court that reinstated contribution limits for candidates for state office, the Missouri Ethics Commission followed up with a ruling earlier this week to send letters to the candidates to let them know they may be in violation of the law. A final decision on whether Blunt and Nixon will have to return contributions over the reinstated limits won't come until hearings are held on the matter. In the meantime, the two candidates are in limbo. Blunt has more -- literally -- to lose, as he would be forced to return nearly $4 million.; Nixon would have to give back a little more than $1 million. Blunt allies insist the governor is slowly-but-surely improving what was an admittedly poor political situation in 2006 and early 2007. The Blunt campaign recently passed along a poll that showed him trailing Nixon by 3 points -- not exactly a vote of confidence for the incumbent. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Louisiana (D): The date to watch in the Louisiana governor's race is October 20, the day of the state's free-for-all primary. Republicans are hoping that Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) can capture 50 percent or more and, by doing so, avoid a Nov. 17 runoff between himself and the second-place finisher. In 2003 Jindal led all of the candidates in the primary but lost narrowly in a runoff to Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D). Jindal remains over 50 percent in both private and public surveys, and his campaign is confident it can stay there. The X-factor is whether John Georges, who is running as an independent and spending freely from his own pocket, decides to turn his fire on Jindal. A negative onslaught from Georges and wealthy former state Sen. Walter Boasso (D) might be enough to keep Jindal under 50 percent on Oct. 20. Even so, it's hard to see Boasso -- the most likely second place finisher -- beating Jindal in a one-on-one match-up. Stranger things have happened, however, and it is Louisiana. This is Jindal's race to lose. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Kentucky (R): The next few weeks will be critical to determining whether Gov. Ernie Fletcher's political heartbeat has flatlined or not. Fletcher continues to bang on former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear on the latter's support for a referendum on casino gambling, and the Republican Governors Association is on television painting Beshear as a liberal due to his past support for removing the Ten Commandments from schools (among other issues). Can the ad onslaught change the focus of the race? Maybe, but not likely. Fletcher's first term was beset by ethical problems that he has never been able to escape. It's hard to see how anyone outside of the Republican base, which propelled Fletcher to a primary win over former Rep. Anne Northup in May, turns out in droves to Fletcher. But we're willing to wait and see if the ads move numbers. If they don't, the RGA may well decide to save its money and abandon Fletcher to his fate. (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 14, 2007; 7:14 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , The Line  
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Next: N.H. Senate: Shaheen's In


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Posted by: bwpls kytlweqd | September 30, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: zgsekuiao csidewnk | September 30, 2007 1:59 AM | Report abuse

It is so sad how Fletcher treats his own people. He has treated State workers like crap since day one! Kentucky state workers again watched as the Governor again offered them no dental insurance but managed to take their raise to only give it to State contractors to take state jobs which is only a waste of money for state government only needed a competent leader not made of cronyism for her workers were good to go, there was no need for that waste of money and I still wonder who really is on that secret fund for things are not making sense. And why are the contractors housed in the same building as state government? How is that fair to the poor who entrust the government? And should not the citizens and the taxpayers in Kentucky decide if they want their human services contracted out to private contractors? What profit is there serving the poor? And where is the separation between government and the private sector, it just does not seem right. And have we learned nothing from Abu Gharib Blackwater? I have no problem with faith based programs.

As a Republican I find it deplorable how state workers are treated these people who serve the Commonwealth and her citizens who are exposed everyday to Aids, HIV, TB, and a host of other bad germs and not seeing that the State welfare offices are the first places that people who are released from jails, prisons, mental institutions, arriving to the country go. And day after day state workers endure to serve the Commonwealth and her taxpayers and this is how they are treated? Why is the Governor treating his own servants like this? Are they nothing but bile to him? How does the world think they feel when they watch our Governor sell them out and treat them like they are trash when it is the State public servants that keep the Commonwealth running. It is a sad time for Kentucky State Workers so may God Godspeed Nov, 6, 2007, for then they will regain their rights and respect and justice will prevail for them.

How foolish I am for not voting for Northup! Has my vote for Fletcher in the primaries destroyed my party? I feel so so so bad, I should have voted for Northup.


Posted by: Nandi | September 26, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CC that La., Ky. and Missouri are a notch ahead of the rest. In all of the 08 states, a few are very safe and others have the potential to be competitive if good nominee's challenge. On the other hand, to me, Ky. and La. look even much more competitive than does Missouri. Alot can change in over a year, but Blunt and Nixon both have long records that will be ran down and that race will be very, very ugly. The Ky. is already very ugly. Ugly is Fletcher's only hope of winning. If he can turn it into a referendum on casino's and overperform, that's his only hope of winning. In La., if Jindal can keep rolling it's over. But, if someone begins to gain ground and can force a run-off, ya never know.

Posted by: reason | September 18, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

No snow to speak of yet. Though I hiked Saturday in the Beartooths and noticed a skiff of snow had fallen in the areas above 10,000 feet.

We are waiting for the high elevation snows to set in, which could finally put an end to this bad fire season we are having. We've seen too many beautiful mountain vistas hidden by smoke this season. Some of the fires are so large that it will take permanent snow cover to finally put them out.

Posted by: alan in Missoula | September 17, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Republican governor Matt Blunt is a lot weaker than polls show him. He cut 90,000 off the medicaid rolls and even if you have it the benefits are slashed. You get one pair of glasses every two years regardless of changes in your vision and if you have an electric wheelchair you have to replace your battery on your own expense. This started during budgets short falls but now the budget is in surplus and the governor makes small token moves to restore benefits to a few people.
For years you could see Blunt Trama bumperstickers. At a Missouri Illinois basketball game in St. Louis Blunt was roundly booed. His father Roy Blunt is in the GOP congressional leadership and he has a brother working as a lobbyist so he has connections and access to funds but he has polled as low as 30 percent job approval.
Nixon is a practiced campaigner if not inspiring but he has done several terms as AG even at the height of the GOP victories. If the Dems are competive in '08 and nominate someone other than Clinton they have a good chance even with Clinton they are competitive but her presence energizes the Republican base.

Posted by: Franco | September 17, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Rossi is extremely smarmy, and his attempts to hide his far-right views on social issues will probably not be as successful as they were in 2004. He also benefited from a very ugly primary between Gregoire and Ron Sims. The media will probably do all they can to help Rossi, since the WA media just loves so-called "centrist" Republicans and "bipartisanship", but it won't be easy. I know that a candidate Rossi endorsed in a state senate election in Eastern Washington a few weeks ago lost the Republican primary, and the results were not even all that close.

Posted by: Jon | September 15, 2007 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Both sides will have an energized base in the WA Governor's race in 2008. Republicans will be fired up because of the perception that the election was stolen from Rossi. But Gregoire's achievements in health care, education, the environment and gay rights are popular the Democratic base and they have strongly rallied behind her.

So the real question is where the large number of independents in WA will go. The political climate for Republicans will be far worse in 2008 compared to 2004, but I think Rossi will be able to partially neutralize it. He has proven to be a skilled campaigner and Gubernatorial candidates can show independence from the national party in ways that Congressional candidates cannot. The problem is that with a solid local economy and a record of having gotten things done, it may be difficult to come up with a compelling reason why Gregoire should be ousted. Whining that he was cheated isn't going to work outside of the Republican base. More likely, Rossi will assert that Gregoire went on a spending spree with programs that we can't afford and lean dangerously towards socialism. Whether this will gain any traction remains to be seen.

Overall the race is competitive but the advantage meter is leaning in Gregoire's direction.

Posted by: Ogre Mage In Wash. | September 15, 2007 4:08 AM | Report abuse

CORRECTION: WA hasn't voted Republican for president since 1984. It voted for Dukakis in 1988.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 15, 2007 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Though not inspiring, Gov. Gregoire has racked up some respectable accomplishments as Governor here. (expanded health insurance for kids, improved education funding, Puget Sound cleanup, domestic partnerships...) Dino Rossi is slick, and I'd have a hard time arguing the race won't be close. But ultimately I can't dismiss the fact that WA hasn't elected a Republican Governor since the 1980s, voted Republican for president since 1988, or sent a GOP senator to DC since 1994. Maria Cantwell upset Slade Gorton by 2229 votes in 2000; she won her 2nd term last fall almost 60-40. Granted, she faced a new challenger rather than a rematch with Gorton, and while the race was razor close, it was far less contentious than the 2004 Gov. race here. But I don't think a rematch of a contentious, razor sharp race necessarily ends as closely as the original one, or with a different result. If I were Charlie Cook, I'd rate the WA Gov. race Leans Democratic.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 15, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

What I cannot understand is why Democrats are so against Jindal. The guys platform seems pretty reasonable. I like his ethics reform plan, he is for education reform, and he wants to make growing Louisiana's economy a priority. He's smart as a whip.

In the state they have gone as far as saying he is insufficiently Catholic and anti-protestant. Disgraceful.

Posted by: Greg | September 14, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

What I cannot understand is why Democrats are so against Jindal. The guys platform seems pretty reasonable. I like his ethics reform plan, he is for education reform, and he wants to make growing Louisiana's economy a priority. He's smart as a whip.

In the state they have gone as far as saying he is insufficiently Catholic and anti-protestant. Disgraceful.

Posted by: Greg | September 14, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the Republicans will back a crook because he keeps the ten commandments on the walls in public buildings.

Posted by: robert chapman | September 14, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Rossi and his supporters had every reason to feel cheated, just as Gregoire's would have had she not won. The definitions of what counted changed from authority to authority as the process moved along, ballots that hadn't been counted showed-up, etc.

It was a mess. Washington, DC couldn't have done any worse. Let's just hope that Washington has cleaned-up the process for next year.

FYI - As of the last week in August the Rothenberg Report had it listed as "CLEAR ADVANTAGE INCUMBENT PARTY (0 R, 1 D)"

* Gregoire (D-WA)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse


I lived in your area on 2 separate occasions - even have a UW MBA. But, that was many years ago.

I only remember that Rossi had the lead at first and it kept getting whittled down and was eventually settled by the courts. I guess I had forgotten about the several recounts. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: JimD in FL (formerly PacNW) | September 14, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Hey AndyR,

Don't torture me with these comments about snow! Here in NC we're just thrilled that it's below 90 today. Now if we can get some of that Humberto rain. We've been parched (and baked) all summer.

Man, I do miss a northern climate...

Posted by: J | September 14, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

drindl, there were e-voting machine issues in suburban Snohomish County, but none that caused challenges during the vote counting:

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | September 14, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Try this link instead (that one is broken by the closing parethesis):

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | September 14, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

JimD, you're right about alot of sour grapes from the Rossi camp, but wrong about courts throwing out ballots.

Unlike Florida in 2000, WA followed the process as set out by law to the nth degree: count, machine recount, hand recount. A GOP Sec of State certified the election.

Rossi went shopping for a judge to challenge the final hand recount. The judge gutted his case like a sockeye salmon & then Rossi cried about the partisan supreme court. (Source:

Gregoire was a robotic campaigner, but has built a solid record as governor: Fixing roads, boosting education funding, allowing drug imports from Canada, and providing health care for kids.

Achievement tops sour grapes any day is this state.

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | September 14, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I caught a Schweizer interview on Charlie Rose several months back. He sounded like a really interesting guy - not the typical Democrat, by a long shot.

Posted by: bsimon | September 14, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Alan, I love the insider info from the Big sky state. Is it snowing where you are yet?

Posted by: Andy R | September 14, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Here in Montana, no Republican has announced a challenge to popular Democratic Governor Brian Schweizter. But one candidate is vacillating.

Bob Keenan was Seante Republican leader two years ago and he challenged Conrad Burns in the Republican primary in 2006. He got almost one-third of the vote. He also repaired fences pretty well with the party by making television ads on Burns' behalf during the general election.

Now it appears Republicans are pushing him in two directions. Some want him to challenge Montana's Senior Senator Max Baucus. Only "profanity-laced-tirade" Michael Lange, former GOP house majority leader, is announced against Baucus and most see him as too damamed by self-inflicted wounds to be a serious challenger.

But other Republicans apparantly are pushing him to challenge Schweizer instead. Keenan unwisely spoke about the conflict in the Montana press. I don't think is was wise of him to be seen to be publically vacillating over which job he wants.

Frankly either challenge would be like a tilt against a windmill. Both of these incumbant Democrats enjoy high job approval ratings.

Montanans have warmed to the Governor's blue-jean, bolo tie style during his first term. And Max, going after his fifth term and still too young to consider retiring, is a state institution.

So Montana, at this time, is not a turnover threat in either race.

Posted by: alan in Missoula | September 14, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Again, I want to echo the comments of other posters who suggest that putting North Carolina on the Governors Line would be a mistake. Anyone who lives (or has lived) in North Carolina knows that the real fight for the governor's mansion is in the Democratic Primary.

North Carolina's legacy of electing Democratic governors dates back 1877 and Zebulon B. Vance. Since then, we've had just three Republican governors leading our state for 16 of the last 129 years.

With the money that Purdue and Moore have raised thus far and since none of the Republican candidates have won statewide office before...I don't see our state's Democratic tradition being overturned anytime soon.

Posted by: nctodc | September 14, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

'Given a risk calculus too "heavy" for Exxon, there is a niche for the indies. That's how they thrive. '

Agreed, but since they are undermining the Iraqi federal oil agreement -- the only 'benchmark' anyone over here actually cares about -- in fact, it's effectively dead -- I just think it must feel like a slap in the face to the Shia and Sunni who are actually trying to make the Iraqi state work, That this Hunt character is a friend of Bush's must make it doubly insulting.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi drindl -

Thanks for asking - Austin had no effects yet from the High Island Hurricane. It WAS truly a bizarre cyclone. Might cause some scattered showers tonight at ACL, but no real problem.

Your NYT excerpt is my alternative theory that I posted yesterday - a TX indie like Perot, Jr. or Hunt would not care what the Admin thought short of direct intervention against them by the DOS or DOD. Given a risk calculus too "heavy" for Exxon, there is a niche for the indies. That's how they thrive. For what it is worth, Ross Jr. may be one of the few oilmen in TX who is not a Bushie - but I am not at all certain about that. Here's an old profile of "Big Ross"
[not "Big Ears"] from the NYT:

Posted by: Mark in Austin | September 14, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans in Washington state regard Gregoire's victory as illegitimate. On the face of it (and I am not that familiar with the details), they have more reason to do so than the Democrats did to regard Bush's Florida victory as illegitimate. Rossi led in vote counts until the courts ruled on some disputed ballots. Bush always led in Florida counts - it was really the Gore voters who mistakenly voted for Buchanon who tipped the election. As the NYT and Miami Herald recount showed - Bush got more votes in Florida than Gore BUT if everyone in Florida voted as they intended to vote, Gore would have won. The butterfly ballot, more than the Supreme Court, handed the election to Bush.

Anyway that was a digression, the Republican base certainly feels they were unfairly denied the governership and this might inspire some to turn out who might have passed on 2008 since it looks like a dismal year for Republicans. Also, my recollection is that the court ordered victory did not sit well with a number of swing voters - it was rather controversial. So, Rossi might find a sympathetic audience.

I have no idea what kind of voting machines Washington used.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 14, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I figured I would echo the sentiments of the two previous posters on the NC race.

Party politics at the state level in NC are very different from the Federal level. The Dem nominee will be the favorite, as the GOP candidates are less than scintillating.

It also seems that the state GOP gave up the middle long ago, and don't seem inclined to try to get it back.

Posted by: J | September 14, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

'ooo ooo ahh ahh'

Someone posts this under my name -- I have to ask, what is the point? Just exactly how childish is this?

Thanks for your post, bsimon--good reminder of how we got where we are.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

yeah, thanks for that posting Greenwald, but that is not really the topic of this blog, today's topic is the '08 Governor's races. Anything to say on that account?

Posted by: Jackson | September 14, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

anon writes
"Despite six years of promises, U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia continues to look the other way at wealthy individuals identified as sending millions of dollars to al Qaeda"

Just read an article in the latest Nat'l Geographic last night on Pakistan. It served as a reminder that the Saudis are primary funders of the madrasses run by extremists. Back in the 80s, when we were worried about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, we worked in conjunction with the Saudis and Pakistan to train & fund the mujahideen that were fighting the Soviets. When the Reds pulled out, so did we - while the Saudis stuck around, continuing to fund schools promoting fundamental Islam. As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, the people put up with Talibanization - figuring stability was worth the cost of living under Sharia law.

I can't help but wonder if we've learned anything from that history.

Posted by: bsimon | September 14, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

ooo ooo ahh ahh

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Despite six years of promises, U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia continues to look the other way at wealthy individuals identified as sending millions of dollars to al Qaeda.

"If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia," Stuart Levey, the under secretary of the Treasury in charge of tracking terror financing, told ABC News.

Despite some efforts as a U.S. ally in the war on terror, Levey says Saudi Arabia has dropped the ball. Not one person identified by the United States and the United Nations as a terror financier has been prosecuted by the Saudis, Levey says.

"When the evidence is clear that these individuals have funded terrorist organizations, and knowingly done so, then that should be prosecuted and treated as real terrorism because it is," Levey says.

Posted by: the terrorists bush holds hands with... | September 14, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"Glenn Greenwald
Friday September 14, 2007 09:10 EST
The endless, meaningless blather from the Washington Establishment
It has been extremely difficult over the past several months to pay any attention at all to the discussion of Iraq from our political and media stars. It is all just complete blather, and never means anything. All of these stern and worried and tough words spill endlessly from their mouths -- they all proclaimed in May that September was the Day of Reckoning: there would be bipartisan, forced withdrawal if the political benchmarks weren't met -- only for the same thing to happen over and over. The conditions are not met; Bush proclaims we are staying; and the Washington Establishment submits.

Just look at the Serious behavior of The Washington Post's Fred Hiatt in the last week alone to see how barren and worthless their words are. Last Sunday, Hiatt came closer than ever before to admitting failure in Iraq, ending his Editorial by asking:

If Iraqis are not moving toward political reconciliation, what justifies a continuing commitment of U.S. troops, with the painful sacrifices in lives that entails?
Thus, argued Hiatt, if the President cannot answer that question, and "if there is to be no political accord in the near future," then we must change our Iraq policy to "limit troop levels to those necessary to accomplish" very specific and more modest goals.

But today, Hiatt admits that what he said just five days ago were pre-conditions for supporting Bush's Iraq policy have not been met: "the president failed to acknowledge that, according to the standards he himself established in January, the surge of U.S. troops into Iraq has been a failure -- because Iraqi political leaders did not reach the political accords that the sacrifice of American lives was supposed to make possible."

Thus, by Hiatt's own reasoning on Sunday, it means that there is no justification for "a continuing commitment of U.S. troops." So does he embrace that conclusion? Of course not, because nothing he says matters; all that matters is that we stay in Iraq and do what the President wants:

Mr. Bush's plan offers, at least, the prospect of extending recent gains against al-Qaeda in Iraq, preventing full-scale sectarian war and allowing Iraqis more time to begin moving toward a new political order. For that reason, it is preferable to a more rapid withdrawal. It's not necessary to believe the president's promise that U.S. troops will "return on success" in order to accept the judgment of Mr. Crocker: "Our current course is hard. The alternatives are far worse."
This is how it goes endlessly with people like Hiatt: (1) If X does not happen, there is no justification for staying; (2) X has not happened; (3) we must stay. That is why nothing they say is has any meaning. Staying in Iraq is always the only real goal. Everything else is just pretext and blather to continue to do that.

Just look at the virtually unanimous consensus among our political and media class from last May, just four months ago. They all banded together to assure Americans that, come September, if the benchmarks were not met and there was no political reconciliation, that would be the end of the line for the war. Worried and principled Republicans were willing to wait until September, but come September, they would join with Democrats and end the war, or at least force a significant withdrawal.

Yet regardless of one's views on the "military progress," everyone agrees that this allegedly necessary condition -- benchmark fulfillment and political reconciliation -- has not happened. It is not even a close call. As Hiatt himself said today, even Petraeus and Crocker "emphasized that political accords will be slower in coming than Washington has expected, if they are achievable at all."

Yet it does not matter. Even though the condition they all proclaimed must be met in order to stay has not been met, they still all insist we must stay. It's always the same:

(1) If X does not happen by Y date, there is no justification for staying, they proclaim;

(2) X has not happened;

(3) We must stay.

Here is but a tiny sample of the consensus that the political Establishment spewed in May. If you listened to any of this, you wasted brain cells, because it all proved to be completely meaningless, as always:

David Gergen, CNN, May 10, 2007:

But I think, overall, Anderson, what we're seeing is what we talked about last week. And that's the emergence of a consensus on both sides, and in Congress and in the White House, that, probably, Congress will go ahead and fund this, put some benchmarks in. They will fund it until September.

But that's going to be the critical month, when there's going to be a resolution by both Democrats and Republicans on two things: Are we making enough progress on the battlefield? And has the Maliki government and Iraq made enough progress to justify going on?

If either one of those tests fail, that's when we're going to see the moment of starting to disengage. Republicans are -- clearly do not want to go over the waterfall with this president, if, by September, things haven't cleared up. . . .

It sent a very clear signal to the whole country that the Republicans are not going to stand by. And they're not going over this waterfall together with him. He's got to get this thing straightened out by September, both on the military side and with the Iraqi government.

National Journal, May 5, 2007:
Congressional Republicans are increasingly looking to September as the deadline for political progress in Iraq before their support for the war starts to buckle, and Senate GOP leaders have been conveying that message to the White House, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told National Journal.

By September, Republicans want to see evidence of stability in Iraq, including a more effective army, a working oil-revenue-sharing agreement, and government control over the militias that are attacking opposing factions, Hagel said.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, who has complained about a lack of dialogue between the White House and Congress on the war, said that the Bush administration is hearing out Republicans' worries about the Iraqi government. "I think the administration is listening more in terms of what's being done behind the scenes," Voinovich told NJ. "There's a lot more going on than what's out." . . .

Republican patience could run out even earlier than September if the Iraqi parliament takes a scheduled two-month summer recess in July and August, especially if it has made little headway on political reconciliation among the country's factions.

If the parliament recesses anyway, GOP support on Capitol Hill could dissolve, according to Voinovich, a key swing vote. "One thing [President Bush had] better make sure is that that parliament doesn't go on a two-month vacation," he said. "If that happens, the stuff is going to hit the fan, big-time. I think all hell will break loose, here, all over."

David Broder, The Washignton Post, May 31, 2007:
Meanwhile, a significant movement is developing in the Senate to make Baker-Hamilton's recommendations the official policy of the government. A resolution to that effect, co-sponsored by Democrat Ken Salazar of Colorado and Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, will be introduced in early June, with at least six other senators -- three from each party -- endorsing it. . . .

These senators are centrists -- the kind who can exert leverage on their colleagues. But the man who can do the most to catalyze the shift among Republicans is Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the widely respected former chairman of the Armed Services Committee. . . . If Warner shifts, many other Republican senators will move with him, and the policy will change. I think that time is coming soon.

Anne Flaherty, Associated Press, May 25, 2007 -- "U.S. Democratic, Republican leaders predict change in Bush's Iraq war policy":
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders both forecast a change in President George W. Bush's Iraq war policy as the president prepared to sign legislation Friday providing funds for U.S. military operations through Sept. 30. "I think the president's policy is going to begin to unravel now," said the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. . . .

At a separate news conference, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell predicted a change, and said Bush would show the way. "I think the handwriting is on the wall that we are going in a different direction in the fall and I think the president is going to lead it," he said.

U.S. News & World Report, May 21, 2007:
A Gallup Poll last week showed that while the approval rate for the president's handling of the war is a low 30 percent, congressional Democrats, at 34 percent, don't score much higher. Republicans, at 27 percent, rate even lower. That means that come September, when General Petraeus must deliver his own progress report to Capitol Hill, Republicans may be more ready to talk about withdrawal.

National Journal's "Insider Poll" of D.C. Democrats - May 12, 2007:
Q: If the political and military situation in Iraq has not significantly improved by September, will Congress enact legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq?

Democrats (32 votes)

Yes: 59 percent

No: 41 percent

Sen. Olympia Snowe - May 10, 2007, in Iraq:
Our legislation provides for within 120 days that General Petraeus would come before the Congress and report in terms of whether or not the Iraqi government has met these benchmarks. And if they have not achieved them, then General Petraeus would be required within 14 days, to submit a plan on phased redeployment of the troops associated with the Baghdad security plan, as well as a change in mission for all the other troops, consistent with the stated objectives that were set forth in the Iraq Study Group plan.

September is looming as a key month in the U.S. political debate over the war in Iraq. Congressional Democrats and a growing number of Republicans say they will take a hard look at how President Bush's military surge strategy is working in Iraq by then and whether changes will be needed to the U.S. approach. . . .

"If by September we do not see clear signs of progress, then I think we have to face reality and start planning for a complete change of mission," said Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

Another moderate Republican, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, told NBC's Today program that other Republicans may press for changes in Iraq if the president's surge strategy does not produce quick results.

Smith was one of only two Senate Republicans to support a Democratic funding bill that included a troop withdrawal timetable.

"I only speak for one Republican senator, but I know what I hear from many Republican senators, and that means that many of them will simply change their votes and Chuck Hagel and I will not be the only ones calling on the president to put the troops in a new place," he said.

The Washington Post, May 8, 2007 -- "September Could Be Key Deadline in War":
Congressional leaders from both political parties are giving President Bush a matter of months to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner, with September looking increasingly like a decisive deadline.

In that month, political pressures in Washington will dovetail with the military timeline in Baghdad. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, has said that by then he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq's warring factions. And fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1, will almost certainly begin with Congress placing tough new strings on war funding. . . .

"September is the key," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. "If we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration." . . .

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line in Bush's favor, said Sunday, "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B." . . .

"There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis," said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). "I think everybody knows that, I really do."

"I think a lot of us feel that way," agreed Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

And on and on. Everything they said in unison was completely false. And they do not even have the defense that it was difficult back then to see that it was false. Go read what virtually every blogger was saying back in May and it was painfully obvious that the Establishment was both deceiving itself and deceiving the country yet again. What they fear and hate more than anything is withdrawal from Iraq because staying at least allows them to avoid their own Day of Reckoning: when they are forced to accept how disastrous was the war that they all enabled.

That is why what they say -- all of their sober prognostications and warnings and analyses -- is meaningless. All of the talk about "worst options" and alleged fears of what will happen if we withdrawal and our "strategic interests" all just mask the simple truth that we are going to stay -- even when their own premises amount to an acknowledgement that there is no point in staying -- because we are staying to protect the reputations and credibility and egos of the Washington Establishment.

As much as our political class disgraced itself with its obsequious support for the invasion itself, and further disgraced itself with its complicity in the endless claims (including from the General Whose Credibility Must Not Be Questioned) that things were going well when the opposite was true, their behavior over the last twelve months -- when even they admit that the war is a failure and keep promising to support withdrawal only never to do so -- is the undeniable evidence of how corrupt and worthless they really are.

We continue to wage one of the most absurd wars in history -- one in which all of the original justifications have long ago vanished and nobody can identify any specific purpose in staying, yet one which continues with no remote end in sight. Put another way, we have the war which perfectly reflects the crux of our political establishment.

-- Glenn Greenwald

Posted by: GREENWALD | September 14, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Beshear is losing traction in Kentucky. Past ethical problems are beginning to surface - his connections to current Attorney General Stumbo are also beginning to hurt him - this race will tighten considerably - it will be an old fashioned horse race.

Posted by: Kentucky Politico | September 14, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

As of the last filing in North Carolina the two Democrats have raised over $8.5 million combined, while the three Republicans have raised less than $500,000 combined.

Posted by: Justin | September 14, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Mark A-- op-ed in the NYTimes...

'Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn't all that surprising, given this administration's history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the "axis of evil."'

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who puts North Carolina on the Governors Line isn't familiar with or paying attention to the situation in Raleigh, where two top Democratic candidates who have been preparing for this race (literally) for years--Lt. Gov. Beverly Purdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore will square off to face whoever emerges from a lackluster GOP field that includes no candidate who has held statewide office and is largely a collection of anti-everything GOP base ranters. There hasn't been a Republican governor since moderate Jim Martin won reelection in 1988, and, in total, Republicans have held the governor's chair exactly three terms since Reconstruction. Martin won on Reagan's coattails in a year where the Democrats split in a heated primary. While the heated primary for Dems holds true this year (Purdue and Moore are already sniping at each other), there are no Republican coattails and neither Purdue nor Moore are conservative enought to make them a candidate to turncoat to the GOP after losing the primary as has happened a few times in NC in the last 20 years.

Posted by: Jeff C | September 14, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Thanks. I can understand why she would not run again.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | September 14, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Jim D, it will have the same effect that Florida 00 had on Florida 04 if you know what I mean. I am sure there are some folks that feel the washington election was stolen by the Dems, but those folks would have voted for Rossi next time anyway, IMO.

Posted by: Andy R | September 14, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

JimD--I don't recall. Were e-voting machines involved in Washington?

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I believe that the Washington governor's race appears closer than one might think due to the difficult vote counting exercise that was finally settled in favor of Governor Gregoire. Rossi led through most of the counting and the courts finally ruled on some contested ballots which resulted in Gregoire squeaking out a victory - as I recall it. The Republicans feel the same way about this that many Democrats felt about Florida in 2000. There are some indications that some Washington voters regard the Gregoire victory as somehow dubious. How much that will impact the 2008 election remains to be seen.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 14, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Mark, re: the LA governor's race, Kathleen Blanco is not running for re-election. The Democrat running is Walter Boasso. I'd say that if Jindal can't win 50%, it is anyone's guess who will win in November. Other than that, I don't see any way that Ernie Fletcher holds on to his seat in KY. The only real question will be Bashear's margin of victory.

Posted by: Steve | September 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The thing Mark is that Blanco isn't running, precisely because of the negative opinion folks have of her, which from everything I have heard she somewhat deserves.
My astonishment is that the state of Louisiana would vote in a Bush disciple like Jindal. But then again he is a pretty bright guy if you look at his resume, although somewhat of a Turbo if you ask me.

Posted by: Andy R | September 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The former head of an oil field service company admitted Thursday in court that he bribed three Republican Alaska legislators, including the son of a U.S. senator who is the target of a federal investigation.

Former VECO Corp. CEO Bill Allen, 70, testified Thursday in the federal corruption trial of former state House Speaker Pete Kott. Allen and a former company vice president, Rick Smith, have pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers, and await sentencing.

Allen said he bribed Kott, former state Senate President Ben Stevens and former Rep. Vic Kohring.

Posted by: xx | September 14, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

'WASHINGTON -- Eight months after President Bush made public a plan he hailed as the "New Way Forward" in Iraq, he's announced a new plan, this one called "Return on Success."

The new plan was reminiscent of last year's "Operation Together Forward," which called for U.S. troops to secure neighborhoods in Baghdad and hand them over to Iraqi security forces. It bore similarities to an even older plan commonly articulated with the catchphrase "as they stand up, we'll stand down."

Another week, another empty slogan.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Republicans will turn to Governor's race for some saving grace... It doesn't look like they will have to disastrous a year in 2007/2008. The Senate picture, however, is rather dramatically awful. And the news keeps getting worse.

Posted by: Daniel | September 14, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"To put this development in perspective, no tropical cyclone in the historical record has ever reached this intensity at a faster rate near landfall," a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, James Franklin, wrote in an online discussion. "It would be nice to know ... someday ... why this happened."

Hey Mark--I just read about Humberto. I don't know Texas very well. Did y'all feel anything near you?

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Andy R., my Louisiana acquaintances do not have much good to say about Blanco, and most of them voted for her before.

That "sniping" was true about Perry here in Texas, but he won reelection with 39% in a no-runoff four way election. I think there may be a runoff in LA, but Blanco will not win it unless the stars re-allign.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | September 14, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with j that Washington should be safe for next year. 52% saying good or excellent is a pretty good sign if you ask me. Especially in this current anti-GOP environment.
Indiana will go democrat no matter who wins the nomination. Daniels' administration has been one scandal after another.
It is a bad sign that Blount is behind now, but I think he could still pull it out if he can keep his cash advantage. If not then this will be Nixon's to lose. Especially with the financial advantage that the DGA should have next year.

I hate to admit it but I think Jindal might pull it out in Louisiana. But as CC said it is LA so who knows. If he doesn't win the primary then you might see a major media push by the Democrats before the run-off.

In the bluegrass state, Beshear is already picking out his curtains for his new office in Frankfort.

Posted by: Andy R | September 14, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm a bit surprised about the Washington Governor's race. In a blue state with a Democratic wave for an incumbent to surf on, unlike the Republican wave in 2004 last time, I find it hard to believe that Rossi has a real chance. Isn't he behind in his fundraising?

Great to hear about Jeanne Shaheen. Come on Bob Kerrey. . .

Posted by: jforauer | September 14, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Andrew in NH | September 14, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

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