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This is the first of four regional diaries that attempt to identify the highest priority 2008 elections in each of the 50 states. Since I read from left to right, I'm looking at the Western states first.

COLORADO:  The site of the 2008 Democratic Convention and a state with one of the most pronounced recent blue trends of them all is likely to be a battleground in the 2008 Presidential contest, and may provide the opportunity for a House seat pickup in the 4th district, maybe the 6th if it becomes vacant.  But it seems to me that Colorado's biggest priority is to flip the open US Senate seat.  We need to build on our paper thin majority, and this one is presently rated the most competitive Senate race of 2008.

NEW MEXICO: If Domenici retires or dies, the Senate seat will be a top priority nationally as well as statewide.  Recruiting a high level challenger like Udall could even persuade the incumbent into retirement.  Otherwise, the 1st Congressional district becomes NM's top priority--again.  

Keep an eye on NM-2 as well. It's the only district left along the Mexican border that still elects a Republican.

ARIZONA:  Arizona's top priority in 2008 is to deliver its ten electoral votes to the Democratic nominee for President.  There are other important tasks, like flipping the 1st CD, defending the 5th, and chipping away at the state legislature's Republican majority.  But unless our Presidential nominee is someone anathema to senior citizens, I say the best of many good things we can do here is to push hard for the national ticket so that the Republicans are spending money there and not in the light blue states.

NEVADA: Half the EVs of Arizona, but growing faster and much more of a swing state.  I'm going to call the Presidential race the most important thing for Nevada to focus on, although the 2nd CD and especially the 3rd, will definitely be important as well.

UTAH: The reddest of the red states, and one of two in the nation that still gives Bush a positive net approval rating. I'd say the most important contest is the Governor's race (a miracle here would give the party a seat at the table during redistricting), but the really important task for Beehive State Democrats is to be building the party's positives  by any means necessary. Run some kind of challenger everywhere, even where Democrats get 10% of the vote. If you can double it to 20% this year, it counts as another baby step toward a blue Utah somewhere over the horizon.

IDAHO: The other state with actual net Bush approval, but not quite as bad as Utah. However, unlike Utah, we do have a target with some real chance for victory: the 1st CD, where the disgusting Bill Sali squeaked out a win over Larry Grant last year. Sali is so far to the right that even other Idaho Republicans don't like him, and if he makes a spectacle of himself, he could be a one term wonder. ID-1 is the least conservative of Idaho's two districts, with the panhandle and most of Boise, so go for it.

MONTANA: I'm almost tempted to put the Presidential contest on the front burner here. The trouble is, the national ticket isn't likely to spend much time here or even in the surrounding states. It will be seen as too much effort needed for just three electoral votes.  That mentality has to change if we're interested in making Big Sky country truly blue, but for now, it looks like it's up to the local grassroots to draw national attention, not the other way around.

I say, in 2008, Montana  Dems should go to the mat for the at large Congressional seat. With Schweitzer and to a lesser extent Baucus both headed for easy re-elections, there's potential for coattails, if the campaigns all work together.

UPDATE: As jacinto points out, there's a Gooper Secretary of State, too.  I tend to think SoS races are more important when there are multiple CDs to redistrict, or Diebold voting frauds to promote or halt. Better to take out Rehberg, if we can....

WYOMING: This is a very tough state to crack, but it will turn blue before Idaho or Utah does, and we at least have the Governor.  The weakest link to go for is Cubin in the at large House seat. Enzi in the Senate should also get the best challenger possible, but the best chance of success is in the House.

WASHINGTON: Governor Gregoire may need some help here, but as an incumbent who hasn't done anything noticeable to mess up, I expect she'll have an easier time winning re-election than she did in her nail-biter of 2004. See her fellow Governors Doyle, Blago and Kulongoski in 2006.  With no Senate race, and, having gone blue in all of the last five Presidential elections, the elections to watch are for the Congressional districts.  Districts 8, 5, and 4, in that order.

OREGON: Defeating Gordon Smith is the top priority, by a mile.  The only other projects to consider are the defense of our new majority in the lower legislative chamber, and maybe the long-shot challenge to OR-2. Presidentially, the question is not whether Oregon goes blue, but by how much.

CALIFORNIA: With Gropenfuhrer not on the table and Democrats holding all other statewide offices and the state legislature, and a monopoly on the Presidential vote, California's only top tier priorities are picking off another House seat or two.  And they've all been gerrymandered to protect incumbents of whatever party.  Our top targets are the 4th in the North, and the 26th in the South, although there are several other tempting seats that are worth a look (the 24th, 41st, 45th and the perennial 50th--though not with Busby again--are all worth a look).

ALASKA:  Seems to me Stevens and Young are in Congress for life, and I just can't get enthusiastic about taking a state legislature that has only one House seat to gerrymander.  I say, take a longshot at promoting the Presidential ticket, and other than that, build up the party so that it will be more competitive in future elections.  In fact, Alaska is a lot less solidly Republican than it used to be, and it could well become a swing state.

HAWAII: The reverse of Alaska: A bedrock Democratic state that seems to be showing a few cracks lately and should not be taken for granted. It isn't that Republicans really have their foot in the door so much as that our margins of victory have been steadily eroding. Governor Lingle, the only high profile Republican, is not up for re-election, so the top priority is to shore up what we already have, and to avoid looking complacent about it.

Originally posted to AdmiralNaismith on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:14 PM PST.

Poll

The most exciting Western state in 2008

5%7 votes
1%2 votes
67%91 votes
0%1 votes
2%3 votes
6%9 votes
2%4 votes
4%6 votes
3%5 votes
2%3 votes
0%0 votes
2%3 votes
0%1 votes

| 135 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  "If Domenici retires or dies"? (0+ / 0-)

    If Domenici retires or dies[...]

    I know the guy is older, but damn, I don't think the Grim Reaper is looking over his shoulder.

    Obama? '08? Oh yea!

    by Skulnick on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:20:53 PM PST

    •  Chain smoker (0+ / 0-)

      He's more known than the usual senior Senator contingent for his ill health.  Also been showing signs of incipient dementia.  Not the best way to pick up a Senate seat, true. But we should be prepared in the event that lightning strikes.

      I'd ask Americans to serve. I'd ask them to make other sacrifices, but I wouldn't want to raise their taxes just because we're in a war. --John McCain

      by AdmiralNaismith on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:52:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Domenici probably won't die, but he does seem (0+ / 0-)

      to be in pretty ill health, both mentally and maybe physically (if his visits to Frist's clinic were any indication) which could be useful against him in the election.

  •  California - Insurance Commissioner (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slksfca, Predictor

    Correction on your claim about Scharzenneger being the only statewide Republican elected in 2006. Steve Poizner (R) also beat Cruz Bustamante for Insurance Commissioner. Not that it would have made any real difference had Cruz (I'll take campaign $ from the industry I'm running to regulate and oversee)Bustamante won the election. In fact, he received the least votes of any Democrat running for statewide office in 2006, managing to only garner 38.5% of the vote.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR

    by Vitarai on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:26:22 PM PST

    •  I'd even classify Poizner as a Liberal Gop'er (0+ / 0-)

      IMO he's a bit beyond Moderate Gop'er. Poizner endorsed Kerry-D in 2004 when he made a failed, but very close attempt at an Assembly seat in a heavily Dem district.

      Adios Cruz.

      "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama

      by Predictor on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:46:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Swing state hosting the convention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delta Terp

    with a red hot US Senate race.

    Colorado Dems must be in heaven.

    Joe Lieberman likes to be called an "Independent Democrat". I like being called a "sexual dynamo".

    by Arjun Jaikumar on Thu Feb 01, 2007 at 12:51:40 PM PST

  •  CA-04 is going to be a great race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Predictor

    Maybe I'm biased because I worked on Charlie's campaign in 2006, but CA-04 is hungering for change. In a district which has a 16-point Republican advantage, Charlie lost by on 3%. It proves that a moderate Democrat with military experience has a fighting chance where no one thought a Dem could even stand a snowball's chance. IF Charlie runs again, he'll win it this time.

  •  CA-11 (0+ / 0-)

    The biggest priority in California has to be protecting Jerry McNerny in CA-11.

  •  Tags fixed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randall Sherman

    Congressional district tags should always be two digits: CA-04, not CA-4.

    Thanks!

    DailyKos Tag Cleanup Project
    Search for existing Tags
    Alphabetical list of the most common tags

    © sardonyx; all rights reserved

    by sardonyx on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 07:44:52 AM PST

  •  Good job! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith

    I look forward to reading all of your regional reports.

  •  Washington state opinons.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    N in Seattle

    Governor Gregoire is going to maybe, just maybe, spend some political capital in order to help Seattle and King County figure what to do with its transportation situation, and there are bound to be disgruntled folks.  On the other hand, being direct and straightforward about it will actually help her more than harm her over the long run, so the less she dawdles over it, the better.  

    Her Republican nemesis, Dave Rossi, while he's become more able to control his own path to 2008 within the state Republican party with the rise of Luke Esser as Chair, he's increasingly becoming irrelevant on a statewide basis - they weren't able to channel much anger over the whisper-thin 2004 gubernatorial election results into 2006 Republican victories - in fact, they lost seats in both on sides of the statehouse.  (2012, barring no shockers, will probably be the "interesting" election year for Governor in this state, for reasons I'll go into another time.)

    As for the Congressional races, the bottom lines are these....

    We can't win in the 8th CD unless we win overwhelmingly in "Microsoft country", or unless we effectively campaign south of the Renton, WA city limits, especially in the Pierce county "tail" of the district - and we've failed to do the latter, yet again, in 2006.

    We can't win in the 4th CD until we find an effective Hispanic candidate.  Period.  The population trends all but scream this at anyone willing to look at the numbers.

    We can't win in the 5th CD until farmers and ranchers realize that they cut they throats every two years that they send a Republican to Congress to make their situations worse, not better.

    I think we can take one of these three seats in 2008, but we can't do it using the same old tactics we always use.  (We did try new things in 2006 in the 5th, to the credit of the Goldmark campaign, but it wasn't enough.)

    My two bits...

    God gave us his own child as a sacrifice. Bush wants to take yours...

    by Palamedes on Fri Feb 02, 2007 at 06:26:48 PM PST

  •  MT has a Republican (0+ / 0-)

    Secretary of State.

    http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:01:12 PM PST

  •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for my money, it's Colorado followed closely by NM-1 and WY-AL.  I am gunning for that other senate seat and to take out Muskrat in CO-04.

    www.wasatchwatcher.com: Utah's Political Blog

    by CO Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:54:16 PM PST

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