The retirement of a fourth Democratic congressman in as many week set the tone for the past week, with Republicans beaming with excitement at the prospect of contesting red-leaning open seats and the press piling on with panic-inducing stories. The DCCC countered by getting numerous incumbents to signal more or less directly that they’ll run for re-election - Chet Edwards, Collin Peterson, Ike Skelton. But the process revealed we should be keeping an eye on Rep. Spratt; we also learned late this week that Rep. Jack Murtha has been asking DCCC officials what he should do if he retires, so yet another veteran Democrat joins the retirement watch. In lower-profile stories:
In Delaware, Beau Biden has still not entered the Senate race - and Democrats finally seem to be getting the clue that he never actually committed to running. That’s sparking talk of what might happen if the Attorney General did the unthinkable and passed on the opportunity to run for his father’s seat, and whether Democrats would have a chance of beating Mike Castle. Two names that were circulated by CQ: New Castle County Exec Chris Coons and Senator Ted Kaufman, who could run for a full term.
In Kansas, Democrats have lost the one statewide candidate they had: Tom Wiggans, who enthused the state party last month by the mere fact that he was willing to jump in the Governor’s race, has now announced he is dropping out of the contest. It’s been a long time Democrats have lost any illusion they might defend the governorship or pick-up the Senate seat, but the extent of their weakness remains a remarkable story - as does Kathleen Sebelius’s failure at building a credible state party. Also, this could have major consequences down-ballot: The asymmetry between their lack of a statewide candidate and the Republican juggernauts who are running could be fatal to their chances in the state’s crucial House races (KS-03, and perhaps KS-02).
In New York, Kirsten Gillibrand rid herself of yet another opponent: Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, one of the earliest Democrats to float his name last spring, said he would not run for Senate. For all the recent talk of Gillibrand looking vulnerable, the only person from either party who has been willing to commit to challenging her is labor activist Jonathan Tasini. While Bill Thompson has yet to announce his intentions, the very long list of politicians who held back after looking on the brink of running speaks to how difficult a commitment it is to challenge a well-financed incumbent in this large and expensive a state.
In Oregon, former NBA player Chris Dudley made it official this week: He will seek the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination. Like all political novices, Dudley will have to prove himself on the trail but he at least starts with more of a network than most athletes-turned-candidates since others in his family have held prominent office. He’ll face a tough primary against entrepreneur Allen Alley, who has a lot of funds and the experience of running a statewide campaign. Either men would face an uphill climb in the general election; perhaps the celebrity factor is Republicans’ best bet, however?
As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the “retirement watch” and recruitment pages. Written in red are those politicians who announced their definite plans rather than simply expressed interest or stroke speculation. First, updates to Retirement Watch:
|Will retire||Rep. Bart Gordon (D, TN-06)|
|Will not retire||Rep. Chet Edwards (D, TX-17)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN-07)
|Added to retirement list||Rep. Jack Murtha (D, PA-12)|
|Those who apparently will not retire||Rep. Tim Holden (D, PA-17)
Rep. Ike Skelton (D, MO-04)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D, TN-04)
Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:
|AR-Sen, GOP||Stanley Reed dropped out|
|CA-Sen, GOP||former Rep. Tom Campbell added|
|DE-Sen, Dem||New Castle County Exec Chris Coons added
Senator Ted Kaufman added
|NY-Sen, Dem||Suffolk Co. Legislator Jon Cooper will not run|
Third, updates to gubernatorial races:
|KS-Gov, Dem||Tom Wiggans dropped out|
|OR-Gov, GOP||Former NBA player Chris Dudley announced run
state House minority leader Bruce Hanna won’t run
|SD-Gov, GOP||Ken Knuppe is running|
|TX-Gov, Dem||Kinky Friedman dropped out|