Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Circular Firing Squad Begins Blasting Away... NRSC Blames McCain For Their Disaster


Will the GOP Senate leadership take responsibility-- or just blame McCain and Bush? One guess

Well, I guess John Ensign (R-NV) would be looking for a likely scapegoat to blame for what he knows is coming a week from today. After all, the arch-reactionary Nevada Republican is the chairman of the NRSC and it's his job to make sure all the Republican Senate incumbents get re-elected, make sure the retiring Republicans are replaced with new Republicans, and then see if he can pick up some Democratic seats. He's failing-- miserably-- on all three charges. Earlier today he was looking to shift some blame onto Ted Stevens' corruption-- calling the twilight of the Senate's longest serving Republican's career a "disgrace"-- but by late afternoon he went public with something he's been grousing about for months: the disaster of being saddled with McCain.

He said aloud what Republicans were loathe to even whisper 'til now, that the Democrats could win a filibuster-proof majority. Even if you count Lieberman as a Democrat [and on substantive matters in this session he's voted with the Democrats 69% of the time-- more than red state nominal Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party like Mark Pryor (AR), Evan Bayh (IN), Mary Landrieu (LA), Ben Nelson (NE) and Tim Johnson (SD)] the Democrats would need to hold all their own seats-- looks like that's no problem whatsoever-- and pick up 10 Republican seats; much harder.

There are two sure things: the open red seats in Virginia and New Mexico are going to conservative business-oriented Democrat Mark Warner and progressive, working family Democrat Tom Udall, respectively. Two moderate Democrats, Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Mark Udall (CO) look like their races are pretty much wrapped up and are just waiting for the bows on Tuesday. Conservative Kay Hagan (NC) and refreshingly progressive Jeff Merkley (OR) also look like they're about to cross the home stretch with bug smiles on their faces. That's 6. Polls show Al Franken ahead of pathetic Bush rubber stamp Norm Coleman in Minnesota but it's a 3-way race so you never know what's going to happen and Mark Begich looks good to beat convicted GOP felon Ted Stevens up in Alaska. OK, that's 8. Democrats still need 2 (and then they'll still have a Lieberman problem, not to mention members like Johnson, Nelson, Bayh, et al. who are just as likely to vote with Republicans as they are to vote with Democrats. The most current polling predicts 3 shots-- without Divine intervention-- for Democrats: 2 very right-wing Democrats who are unlikely to be of any use whatsoever on progressive governance-- Ronnie Mussgrove of Mississippi and, worse, Bruce Lunsford of Kentucky-- plus a decent moderate in Georgia, Jim Martin. Beyond that there would have to be major turnarounds in Nebraska, Texas, Maine and Oklahoma, four really good candidates in four very red states. None are in the hopeless category, like Tennessee, the two Wyoming races or Alabama, but all are-- as we've been saying all year-- really tough.

OK, back to Ensign, who's about to preside over the loss of between 6 and 10 seats. "There's no question the top of the ticket is affecting our Senate races and it’s making it a lot more difficult,” Ensign said on MSNBC. “It’s a fairly toxic atmosphere out there with the financial crisis for Republicans.” He hopes the Lieberman will join the Republican caucus and calls him a "wild card."

Ensign is especially worried after looking at the record of McCain's coattails in special elections since he's become the nominee. In three consecutive races to replace retiring Republicans in red districts of Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi, McCain failed dismally, losing all three seats. Several Republican Senators have denounced McCain's viciously negative campaign tactics and even called on him to try running a more decent and honest campaign. Likely Oregon loser Gordon Smith resigned as McCain's state campaign chair, started running TV ads that made it look like he was on the Obama team and has done everything to distance himself from McCain short of comparing him and Palin to Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. Very few Senate incumbents have asked McCain to campaign with them and even a crackpot extremist like James Inhofe has tried to distance himself from the stink of political death that is the McCain campaign.

Meanwhile McCain staffers are blaming their candidate's likely loss of solidly red states like Virginia and North Carolina on weak Republican candidates, respectively ex-governor James Gilmore and incumbent Senator Liddy Dole, who was trashed by McCain staffers last week as "road kill" and "hopeless." If I wanted to direct last minute money to Democrats where it could do some good, I would stick with probable winners Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich and long-shot hopefuls Andrew Rice, Rick Noriega and Tom Allen-- all right here. Anyone who donates to all 5 today will get a Blue America gift in return as a thank you. Watch the kind of negative and vicious smear campaign that Inhofe is running against Andrew Rice in Oklahoma, distracting people there from the real issues:

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