(Written from Georgetown University, where I'm staying for the next two weeks)
It's great to be back online, after having to wait for the fix of my laptop here in our nation's capitol. Clearly the Rove and Roberts news is all well and good, along with Paul Hackett (continuing the fine tradition I started last year with Ginny Schrader) and Tim Kaine surging ahead. But apart from 2005, we have to consider the (slightly) more distant future, when the Congressional Midterms could very well put us back in power in the Congress. We Democrats are fortunate to have so many willing candidates who have recently thrown their hats into the political ring. So, here's a description of some of them, and what they're up against:
CONNECTICUT-4: Westport Selectwoman DIANE FARRELL, who nearly defeated Congressman CHRIS SHAYS (R) in 2004 (52-48%) has filed with the FEC to run again in 2006. Farrell's term as selectwoman expires in 2005, giving her the freedom to run a rematch against the veteran Republican. The district voted for Kerry with roughly 54% in 2004, and the race should be, once again, a close one.
FLORIDA-22: When in doubt, lie about your polling! At least, that's the method of Congressman CLAY SHAW (R), who is facing a tough challenge from Senate Minority Leader RON KLEIN (D) in 2006. Shaw hired the Tarrance Group (a GOP polling firm) to run a push poll on a Shaw-Klein race, by attacking Klein in the poll as an "ambitious liberal". Shaw led 56-37 after the pushing, meaning that in reality the race is much closer. Klein is a moderate (but not DLC) Democrat who could very well steal this "tossup" seat (it voted narrowly for Bush in 2004) in a good Democratic year. Klein's website is http://www.ronklein2006.com .
GEORGIA LTG: The return of MAX CLELAND? Yeah, you heard that right. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that Cleland, a former US Senator (he was ousted in 2002 by the nasty campaign of Saxby Chambliss) is considering running for Lieutenant Governor against Republican RALPH REED. Current LTG Mark Taylor is running for Governor against GOP Incumbent "Sonny" Perdue. Already running for the Democrats in the LTG race are ex-State Senator Greg Hecht and ex-State Rep. Jim Martin.
HAWAII GOVERNOR: Hawaii County Mayor (essentially the Governor of one of Hawaii's islands) HARRY KIM is being urged to run for Governor against GOP Incubment LINDA LINGLE. Kim originally ran as a Republican when he was first elected as Mayor, but since then has become an Independent, and says that if he does run it will be as a Democrat. State Senator COLLEEN HANABUSA, State Rep. KIRK CALDWELL and several millionaire Democrats are considering bids as well. Lingle won with 52% in 2002 against Mazie Hirono.
INDIANA-US SENATE: While ex-Congressman Tim Roemer is not running against Senator RICHARD LUGAR (R) in 2006, several other major Democrats are now taking a look at the race. While it is certainly an uphill battle to take on the five-term Republican, these four Democrats would make the race worth watching, even if not winneable. They are:
Kathy Davis, the former LTG of Governor Joe Kernan. (from 2003-2005)
David Lewis, Clerk of the Supreme Court (a statewide job)
Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard (Fort Wayne is one of the bigger towns in the state)
Evansville Mayor Jonothan Weinzapfel (a rising star in Indiana politics, and a likely statewide candidate in 2008, whether for Governor or for Evan Bayh's Senate seat)
While Lugar is not likely to lose, I could see any of these four getting 40% or possibly more, forcing Lugar to actually campaign. And if he makes a mistake...
MARYLAND-3: A whole crowd of Democrats have entered to race to succed Congressman BEN CARDIN, who is running to succeed Paul Sarbanes in the US Senate. They are:
State Senator Paula Hollinger, a veteran lawmaker and a liberal. (http://www.paulaforcongress.com)
State Delegate Neil Quinter (a liberal, no website)
Baltimore County Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson (a progressive and the son of a former Congress)http://www.beilensonforcongress.com
County Commissioner and ex-Missouri Congressman Bill Burlison (he served from 1969-1981, and has resided in Maryland since then. A moderate)
Millionaire banker Oz Bengur (a moderate, he ran for an open seat in 2002 and lost to Dutch Ruppersburger, MD-02) http://www.ozbengur.com
No Republican has entered the race in this lean-Democratic district. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is the frontrunner for 2006.
NY-29: Eric Massa, a former aide to General WESLEY CLARK is running as a Democrat against GOP freshman RANDY KUHL in 2006. Massa, who is a cancer survivor as well as a long-time member of the US Navy has the backing of a number of district Democrats, and should be the nominee. Kuhl won with 51% in 2004, and is considered vulnerable due to a chequered past and his lean-GOP district (winneable by a military man like Massa). Massa's website is http://www.massaforcongress.com.
UT-US SENATE: Veteran Republican ORRIN HATCH faces a strong primary challenge in 2006. State Rep. Steve Urquhart is running to Hatch's right (attacking him for supporting stem cells and for "going Washington"), and using the same message Hatch used in 1976 to oust Democrat Frank Moss- "it's time for a change". In Utah politics a state convention is held to winnow the field before the primary, and 60% of the delegates are needed to clear the field. With many Utah Republicans disgruntled with Hatch (due to his hob-nobbing with Ted Kennedy), Urquhart could very well do just that. The winner will face Internet Executive PETE ASHDOWN in the general election (http://www.pashdown.com).
WASHINGTON-08: Congressman Dave Reichert (R), a freshman who won in 2004 with 52% faces another strong challenger in 2006. DARCY BURNER, a former Microsoft executive (the land of MARIA CANTWELL among others)and community activist is challenging Reichert as a Democrat. Darcy is attacking Reichert as a loyal disciple of Tom DeLay (a 91% voting record for one)and for supporting the renewal of the PATRIOT ACT and the Bankruptcy Bill. Burner's website is at http://www.darcyburner.com (disclaimer: I'm a supporter of Darcy's campaign). Randy Gordon, a Democratic activist is also running against Reichert. Reichert has a 39% reelect number according to the DCCC, and I hope to bring you more on this race in the near future.
FOR SUMMARY: While the 2006 elections are still a long way away, the quality and quantity of Democrats running for high office should tell you something. Namely, that the Democrats CAN win big in 2006, but only if we get involved. So let's get started!