Monday, August 04, 2003
You know, I'd have thought Disney stock would be down more today on this news: Fritz Hollings announces retirement.
This is, of course, very good news, as Hollings is a particularly odious fossil: a protectionist, an over-regulator, and a lackey for big businesses like Disney against upstart entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, any South Carolina Republican is likely to be just as bad on issues like textile tariffs. But there's at least a chance for something better now.
Add this to the list of real GOP Senate pickup prospects for '04, along with:
* Washington: I wish Jennifer Dunn were running, but in her absence we've got to pull for Nethercutt. Murray is just awful: dumb, lazy and wrong about everything. Time to hang up her tennis shoes.
* Nevada: I don't know too much about Jim Gibbons, but I can't think of anything nice to say about Harry Reid, and he's quite vulnerable based on the closeness of previous races.
* Georgia: whichever Republican wins the primary has got to be favored to take Zell Miller's old seat.
* North-Carolina: I still think John Edwards has zero chance of being the nominee . . . but he'd look great next to John Kerry as the Veep candidate. And he's going to have to choose fairly soon between defending his vulnerable Senate seat and running for national office. I bet he gets the nod, and ditches the seat. If so, Erskine Bowles has a good chance second time around, but this is a mostly Republican state, so the GOP has to be given the edge.
I'd love to throw Barbara Boxer's California seat into the mix, but that's wishful thinking; she stinks, but they love her. It's possible Diane Feinstein will run for Governor of California (I certainly think she should), but the odds are against it, and even if she does, her seat will be tough for the GOP to take. California is just a very, very Democratic state. I think North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Arkansas are all uphill climbs for GOP challengers, though not impossible to scale, and I think Bob Graham will defend his seat in Florida once it becomes clear he's not going anywhere with his Presidential bid. So the five above - SC, GA, NC, NV, WA - are the best shots at GOP pick-ups.
The Dems, meanwhile, have only two really likely prospects: Alaska and Illinois. They're likely to win both. Ben Campbell of Colorado is not going to retire, I don't think, and neither is John McCain, and I don't see Arlen Specter losing his primary battle. Pennsylvania is not New Hampshire, and Specter is not Bob Smith. Karl Rove is going to take no chances, and allowing Toomey to win the primary would be taking an enormous chance. So I really think that's it for likely Democrat pick-ups. If they hold the GOP to a draw in the '04 Senate battles, that'll be a huge victory for the Dems. They should expect to lose at least one seat; if they lose more than that, it's a victory for the GOP.
The weird thing is looking out to 2006. There are just not many vulnerable seats for either party, at least not that are visible from this far out. Yeah, the various Democrat millionaires of the class of 2000 - Mark Dayton, Maria Cantwell, John Corzine, Hillary Clinton - will be up for reelection. But I suspect they'll all be strongly favored for reelection comes the time. (Well, maybe not Mark Dayton.) Best GOP chance in '06 will probably be turncoat Jim Jeffords. All the more reason for them to go all-out in '04.