The series of nightmarish developments that recently befell Democrats prolonged itself through Monday, with Rep. Marion Berry retiring and Attorney General Beau Biden all but handing Delaware’s Senate seat to Republicans. The rest of the week gave Democrats some breathing room, from Rep. Mike Pence’s decision not to challenge Evan Bayh to a number of Democratic congressmen taking themselves off retirement watch.
Yet, the landscape could still get more brutal for Democrats in the coming weeks, as we shall soon know how successful the GOP will be in expanding the map not only at the House level but also in Senate races. All eyes are now on Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann, Washington’s Dave Reichert and Indiana’s Todd Rokita. Meanwhile, Democratic congressmen who are still trying to figure out whether they want to run for re-election will be making up their minds soon, and their decisions will help determine just how rough a cycle Democrats are facing. One person to keep track of right now is Indiana Rep. Baron Hill: While he’s been considered unlikely to retire; the state’s filing deadline is looming in just 3 weeks so we shall soon know for sure.
In New York, reports that Andrew Cuomo is finalizing plans to announce a gubernatorial run in March should reassure Democrats and make it harder for the GOP to recruit a new candidate. Indeed, many Republicans seem unsold on Rick Lazio’s ability to make the race competitive and at least to hold down Cuomo’s coattails; one name who was mentioned, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, ruled out running this week.
Also in New York, but this time in the Senate race, Rep. Steve Israel for the second time ruled out challenging Kirsten Gillibrand. While he had already done so in May, Gillibrand’s continued vulnerability combined with Harold Ford’s apparent entry in the race had made him reconsider and reportedly even poll his viability. His repeat exit leaves Ford and Jonathan Tasini as Gillibrand’s only primary opponent.
In Michigan, Rep. JoeBart Stupak closed to door to his flirtations with the gubernatorial race. While he had already declared he was unlikely to run, the DCCC will be happy that his probable became a definite since an open seat in MI-1 would have been tough to defend. Also in Michigan: While Republicans have been increasingly confident about picking-up this Governor’s Mansion, they received somewhat worrisome news this week: former Republican Rep. Schwarz, who was ousted by a Club for Growth-backed candidate in 2006, said he might run as an independent. Depending on who wins the GOP nomination, Schwarz might be able to peel away some moderate Republican voters.
In Arizona, Democrats will be relieved that Attorney General Terry Goddard finally made his gubernatorial campaign official. While he was always expected to do so, the week did start with another Democratic Attorney General (this one in Delaware) bucking expectations. One reason Goddard waited so long to make his intentions clear is an Arizona law that forces state officials who want to seek another position to first resign from their position unless they are in the final year of their term. Had Goddard announced in 2009, he would have been out of a job in 2010 whereas he can now continue to serve as Attorney General until January 2011.
In Connecticut, former Rep. Chris Shays voiced interest in running for Governor, which comes as a surprise given that last year he had categorically ruled out running for Senate, explaining that he was not interested in seeking office so soon after the three very tough re-election campaigns he went through from 2004 to 2008. Shays’s moderate profile would probably make him a stronger general election contender than Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele, though voters might not be eager to elect a man who was so recently ousted by his district by more than 20%. Furthermore, the certainty of a tough primary could also dissuade Shays from entering.
In Alaska, Governor Sean Parnell got rid of one primary challenger as state Rep. John Harris, who served as state Speaker from 2005 to 2008, announced he was dropping out of the race. While another former Speaker (Ralph Samuels) is still challenging Parnell and now will not have to worry about another contender dividing the anti-incumbent vote, Parnell doesn’t have any obvious vulnerability among Republican voters so this primary is unlikely to yield many surprises.
In Alabama, Richard Shelby landed his first Democratic challenger, but attorney William Barnes is more than unlikely to make the senator tremble much. At the very least, it can’t hurt Democrats to have a complete ticket.
First, updates to Retirement Watch:
|Will retire||Rep. Marion Berry (D, AR-01)
Rep. Steve Buyer (R, IN-04)
|Will not retire||Rep. Bart Stupak (D, MI-01)
Rep. Tom Bishop (D, NY-01)
Rep. Rick Boucher (D, VA-09)
|Added to retirement watch||Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA-12)|
Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:
|AL-Sen, Dem||attorney William Barnes announced run|
|AR-Sen, GOP||former football player Jim Lindsey added|
|DE-Sen, Dem||Attorney General Beau Biden will not run
former Lieut. Gov. John Carney will not run
Lieut. Gov. Denn will not run
|IN-Sen, GOP||Governor Mitch Daniels added
Rep. Mike Pence will not run
Secretary of State Todd Rokita added
|KY-Sen, GOP||Former Superintendent of Public Instruction John Stephenson announced run|
|NV-Sen, Ind/Dem||Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not run|
|WI-Sen, GOP||former Rep. Mark Neumann added|
Third, updates to gubernatorial races:
|AK-Gov, GOP||state Rep. John Harris dropped out|
|AZ-Gov, Dem||Attorney General Terry Goddard is running|
|CT-Gov, GOP||former Rep. Chris Shays added|
|MI-Gov, Dem||Joe Dumars ruled out run
Rep. Joe Stupak ruled out run
|MI-Gov, Indie||former GOP Rep. Schwarz added to list|
|MN-Gov, IP||public-relations executive Tom Horner announced run|
|NV-Gov, Indie||Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not run|
|NY-Gov, GOP||Erie County Executive Chris Collins will not run|