Weekly update: As Coats’s baggage mounts, Dems land their first candidates in DE & ND

The 2010 cycle got its official launch this week as Illinois hosted the first primary of the year. State voters put an end to brutal intraparty battles, though the GOP’s gubernatorial primary has yet to produce a clear winner (more on Illinois soon.) The other states that monopolized our attention are Delaware, where New Castle County Executive Chris Coons entered the Senate race, and Indiana, where former Senator Dan Coats came out of nowhere to announce he was preparing to challenge the man who replaced him, Evan Bayh.

While Coats is obviously a major threat to Bayh’s re-election, his move in the race was followed by an avalanche of stories that he will struggle to overcome. The latest episode: A video filmed in 2008 in which he says he is planning to retire in North Carolina, footage that could haunt him the same way Tom Dashle’s “I’m a D.C. resident” damaged his 2004 campaign. This video will be all the more damaging that Coats changed his voter registration to Virginia as soon as he left office ten years ago. The continued drip of revelations about Coats’s lobbying clients is also sure to give Democrats major ammunition. Coats spent ten years paying no attention to how his actions and words might play in an electoral context, which is now making him an opposition researchers’ dream.

In North Dakota, Democrats got their first Senate candidate: first-term state Senator Tracy Potter announced this week he will take on Governor John Hoeven. (Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp had been getting the most buzz, but she has yet to clarify her plans.) The Republican is obviously heavily favored to pick-up this seat and while Democrats now have a credible candidate in case Hoeven self-implodes due to some bizarre scandal, that’s probably all Potter can pull off.

Interestingly, Potter has a long political career that started with his activism on behalf of North Dakotan Eugene McCarthy in the 1972 presidential election. While the Democrat plans to tout himself as a centrist, the Grand Folk Herald notes that he was a prominent member of the Prairie Campaign for Economic Democracy, a group that sought to strengthen the state party’s progressive wing in the 1970s; in 1980, he walked out of the Democratic convention in protest over Jimmy Carter’s renomination. Another interesting fact: In 1984, he lost the Democratic primary to be insurance commissioner to Earl Pomeroy, who went on to win the general election and now serves in the House.

In Arkansas, Rep. John Boozman formally announced his challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln. Since it was already all but certain he would do so 9 days ago, I already analyzed his move at length last week and I refer you to that post for why Boozman’s entry goes a long way towards sealing Lincoln’s fate and why the GOP is clearly favored to defend his open seat (AR-03).

In Maryland, it is looking increasingly likely former Governor Bob Ehrlich will seek a rematch against Marty O’Malley, who defeated him in 2006. The Washington Post reports Ehrlich has been lining up fundraising events; “I’m willing to serve,” he said to the Post. While he added he would not make up his mind until March, that alone signals he is leaning towards running: pulling out of the race so late would make it next to impossible for the GOP to find a back-up. Larry Hogan, who looked like the probable Republican nominee before the Ehrlich buzz increased, ended his exploratory committee this week. “I am convinced [Ehrlich] will run,” he explained.

In Connecticut, both parties have their front-runners but there is still movement. On the Democratic side, state Senator Gary D. LeBeau announced this week he was dropping out, which leaves four candidates in the primary. The Republican side got a new entry: Mark Boughton, who has served as the Mayor of Danbury since 2001. Danbury is a decent-sized city whose population hovers around 80,000, so expect Boughton to be a player in the Republican primary; Quinnipiac’s most recent poll found a wide open field with Tom Foley at 17%, Lieut. Gov. Michael Fedele at 8% and Boughton at 6%.

In California, Rep. Jackie Speier ruled out leaving her House seat this week, despite mounting rumors that she was preparing to run for California Attorney General. Her retirement would have created a fierce Democratic primary in her staunchly blue seat, but it would have been all but impossible to envision a competitive general election (Kerry and Obama both received more than 70% in CA-12). Another Democrat who confirmed his re-election plans this week is Tennessee’s Rep. Lincoln Davis. While he had already said he would run, the GOP still hoped it could push him towards the exit and have a shot at an open seat in a district that voted for McCain by 30%.

While I typically publish my weekly update on Sunday, I had left time to blog today so I am posting this post (which is prepared through the week) today and shall have time to do something else tomorrow.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the retirement and race-by-race pages. First, updates to Retirement Watch:

Will retire Rep. John Boozman (R, AR-03)
Will not retire Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA-12)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D, TN-04)
Added to retirement watch Rep. Bill Delahunt (D, MA-10)
Rep. Diane Watson (D, CA-33)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP Rep. John Boozman announced run
DE-Sen, Dem New Castle County Executive Chris Coons announced run
IL-Sen, Dem Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won nomination
IL-Sen, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk won nomination
IN-Sen, GOP former Senator Dan Coats exploring run
Secretary of State Todd Rokita ruled out run
KY-Sen, Dem doctor Jack Buckmaster is running
Darlene Price is running
businessman Maurice Sweeney is running
KY-Sen, GOP former Ambassador Cathy Bailey will not run
Bill Johnson is running
Gurley Martin is running
Jon Scribner is running
ND-Sen, Dem state Senator Tracy Potter is running
NY-Sen-A, GOP CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow added
WA-Sen, GOP former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi added

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

CT-Gov, Dem state Senator Gary D. LeBeau dropped out
CT-Gov, GOP Danbury Mayor Mark D. Boughton is running
IL-Gov, Dem Governor Pat Quinn won primary
MD-Gov, GOP Lawrence J. Hogan dropped out
MN-Gov, GOPDFL former state Senator Steve Kelley dropped out

8 Responses to “Weekly update: As Coats’s baggage mounts, Dems land their first candidates in DE & ND”


  1. 1 slate

    I read a report earlier this week that Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa is going to announce he is retiring.

  2. 2 Nathan

    I think “I’m a DC resident” carries a different sort of baggage than “I’m retiring to North Carolina.” It wasn’t that Daschle had moved away, so much as where he’d moved away too, I suspect.

  3. 3 Taniel

    slate, there is buzz that Boswell might retire indeed, though the congressman’s spokesperson reiterated this week he would NOT do so. The filing deadline is just a month away, so it would be bizarre for Boswell to lie so actively this late. Plausible, but certainly not the likeliest congressman to call it quits at this point.

    Nathan, you’re partly right, but also keep in mind that (1) Coats has been registered to vote in the D.C. region for a decade now, and (2) it was logical for Daschle to live in D.C. since he had been elected to the U.S. Senate.

  4. 4 Gerard

    When you see the video then you’ll understand why it is a problem.

  5. 5 Anon DFLer

    Steve Kelley (who withdrew from MN-Gov is a DFLer, not a Republican.

  6. 6 Cliff

    (2) it was logical for Daschle to live in D.C. since he had been elected to the U.S. Senate.

    You’re totally misunderstanding why that hurt him. It hurt him because people already believed it. It fit the narrative that he’s “Gone Washington,” which is especially devestating in a place like South Dakota. (see: Pressler, Larry. McGovern, George.) If that narrative didn’t already exist, it wouldn’t have had any impact at all.

    Things like this always only work because people already believe them. Example: Gore’s weird “personal space” violations hurt him, not because personal space violations are a huge deal, but because people already thought Gore was a bit weird. Bush looking at his watch in ‘92 hurt because people already thought he was aloof and out of touch. etc.

    The Coats/NC thing won’t hurt because it doesn’t fit a plausible narrative. Retiring to the coast will strike…who as something unreasonable? Nobody. They know he Represented the state for 18 years and he retired a while back, and is making a comeback. Someone who has a problem with that will ahve a problem with it, but I doubt it will be many and the NC thing doesn’t change anything.

  7. 7 deleted

    I don`t think the NC thing will make much difference but to argue oen rule for one person (on your side) and one rule for someone else is not consistent.
    You make some good points Cliff in your rebuttal but having retired, left the state, registered somewhere else does raise the questions of what does he know about modern day Indiana. Also the lobbying claims have been ignored by you.

    Sure ads have to play into a semi-existing narrative, but don`t tell me that ads cannot build a narrative either.

  8. 8 Cliff

    Huh? I’m not arguing inconsistently at all. If you notice, I cited Larry Pressler as someone who was seen as “gone Washington,” and lost his seat as a result. If you don’t know who he is, look him up.

    Besides, politics is not always fair. If a Democrat favors cuts in spending, it’s usually seen as being because (s)he’s being fiscally responsible. If a Republican proposed the same cut, it’s seen as being “mean” and “not caring” about the people it would otherwise go to.

    That’s not fair, that’s not consistent, but that’s politics. The parties have their own narratives and things will affect them differently based on that.

    Anyhow, no, I didn’t address the lobbyist thing. Am I required to discuss all issues at all times? For what it’s worth, I think some of his lobbying ties will likely be issues in the campaign that are likely to not be helpful, but I doubt they will be fatal to the campaign. Bayh’s going to have to be awfully careful, btw, about throwing stones in glass houses given his wife’s work.

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