Wednesday, November 06, 2002
I'm still election obsessed. Following the lead of Orrin Judd here's my hit list for the 2004 Senate:
* Barbara Boxer (D-CA). This woman should never have been elected in the first place. She is one of the most extreme left Senators in the country, easily the late Paul Wellstone's equal on the issues with none of his charm or obvious sincerity. She also has one of the worst attendance records in the Senate. Rick Riordan should be able to clean her clock. Ahhnold should be able to terminate her with extreme prejudice. Any credible, friendly Republican should be able to beat her, actually. Whoever it is becomes leader of the California GOP. Any takers?
* Patty Murray (D-WA). The mom in tennis shoes is the second woman on the hit list. This woman has accomplished exactly nothing for her state. She's a witless vote for whatever the Democratic leader dishes out. Washington is a competitive state; she should be highly vulnerable. Let Jennifer Dunn run against her and neutralize the "woman" thing. (I always liked Dunn.)
* Fritz Hollings (D-SC). Isn't he dead yet? If not, why not? I know, this is the state that reelected Strom Thurmond at age 119, but still: the guy is an embarrassment. Someone with high name recognition - Judd suggests former governor Campbell - and who's not using a pacemaker should be able to lap this guy.
* John Edwards (D-NC). Supposedly he's going to run for President. On a record of what, exactly? He'll have been a 1-term Senator with literally nothing to show for his presence in the Senate but some nasty footage attacking Bush's judicial nominees. North Carolina is increasingly competitive - Bowles, frankly, should have won this year's Senate contest; Dole is an empty suit - but the GOP should be able to put someone up to take Edwards down. He's a trial lawyer, for Pete's sake!
* Harry Reid (D-NV). Nevada is supposedly trending Democrat, but I'm not sure I buy it, and Reid's reason for existing is to stop nuclear waste from being transported to Nevada. Well, it's going to be transported there; Reid lost. Now what's he there for?
There are other races, of course, but none quite so tempting as the above five. Evan Bayh's seat is safe unless he abandons it to run for President or Veep; if he does, the GOP should have a better than even shot at a pickup. I'm betting he doesn't, though, preferring to wait until '08. John Breaux is in his usual sweet spot of being a Democrat the Republicans can deal with; he'll be safe. Bob Graham seems popular, and Florida is competitive. I wouldn't want to take him on. But he's also a potential Veepstakes winner, and an empty seat could easily go GOP. It would be wonderful to knock off Mikulski, Leahy, Dodd or Daschle. But I wouldn't count on any of them; they have long records of victory and a lot of power, even in the minority. And none of them look like they plan to retire. Byron Dorgan and Russ Feingold are probably the most tempting incumbents to target after my top five above.
But what's more notable is that there aren't many vulnerable GOP incumbents. I think the biggest GOP risk is a Ben Campbell retirement, since he's pretty clearly bored with his life and Colorado is a competitive state. Other than that, I don't see much. The next round of Senate elections will be fought in Republican-friendly states, with more Democratic defenders than Republicans, with a (hopefully) popular and successful Republican President leading the ticket. What's more, the GOP may start out of the gate with a pickup; if Zell Miller switches parties, he'll be running in '04 as an overwhelmingly favored Republican. Bush could get more done in '05-'06 than he does in '03-'04.
We'll see, anyhow.