Posts Tagged ‘National Republican Senatorial Committee’

Jim Bunning’s relationship with Senate Republicans and Kentucky GOP political operatives continues to deteriorate.

Republicans have a new strategy for dealing with the wildly unpredictable Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.): keep their distance and hope he implodes.

That means little fundraising help from top Republicans in Washington, little to no engagement with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a cold shoulder from Kentucky political strategists. And if you’re Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the NRSC chairman, no cross words about Bunning.

“The easiest way to get rid of him is not give him any money,” said one Washington-based Republican fundraiser.

Cutting off Bunning from the big money — while ignoring his outbursts on the campaign trail — may be the only hope for Republicans whose behind-the-scenes effort to force Bunning to retire have backfired. Calls for him to retire, and any recruitment of a primary challenger, will only embolden Bunning, Republicans say.

Cornyn, for his part, is treading very carefully after Bunning publicly called him a liar and threatened to sue the NRSC if he didn’t get its support. Cornyn says that all GOP Senate candidates are in a “self-help” phase at this point in the 2010 election cycle and that the NRSC is backing Bunning.

“I think it was just a product of misunderstanding,” Cornyn said. “I think the assumption was what we were doing was we were not supporting [him]. Now he understands the NRSC is supporting our incumbents, including him.”

But Bunning’s recent threat to resign if Republicans didn’t help him with his reelection bid didn’t help his cause. Republicans in Washington and Kentucky are less eager than ever to help his run for a third term in 2010, saying they hope his campaign dies naturally from lack of money.

“This will not help with fundraising,” said one Kentucky GOP operative, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue candidly. “It will just confirm what most people already believe: This guy has basically lost it and is irrationally lashing out at those who should be his allies.”

Kentucky and national Republicans are more or less openly trying to toss Bunning over the side. His threat to resign from the Senate and potentially hand over his seat to a Democrat and give Harry Reid a filibuster-proof supermajority may well have been the last straw. The strategy here is correct — Bunning has to make the decision to quit by himself, it can’t be imposed on him. But it forces Republicans to keep quiet and spend little or no time raising money or scouting for a replacement candidate.

WINNERS
Barack Obama and Joe Biden: Like this needs explaining?
Howard Dean: He crashed and burned as a presidential candidate four years ago, but a once in a lifetime candidate and political dynamic vindicated his 50 state strategy as the Democrats explanded their electoral map for the first time in decades.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: The Mormons got a lot of press this year, good and bad, because of Mitt Romney’s candidacy. They were also the driving force in successfully funding and generating support for Proposition 8 in California.
David Axelrod and David Plouffe: Obama’s two Davids masterminded one of the greatest political campaigns in history, one which will be studied and replicated for decades in the United States and around the world.
The polls: Most campaign polls were right in assessing the mood of the local and national electorate, and correctly foresaw an Obama victory of historic proportions.
Tina Fey: Energized her career with a dead accurate and brutal impression of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.
Katie Couric: May have resurrected her career bona fides with her gentle televised mauling of Sarah Palin. That interview will be studied in journalism schools for years to show how brutally effective and newsworthy a simple follow-up question can be.

LOSERS
John McCain: There can be only one winner in a presidential election, and McCain ran as best as he could in one of the harshest political environments for Republicans since 1974.
Sarah Palin: Five words – Not ready for prime time. She energized the Republican base at the expense of everyone else, many of whom were scared at the idea of an unexperienced and unqualified candidate being one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.  She might have been a rising star in the party before this cycle, but given the fact that she was a net negative for the ticket this time around, any chances of her being on the national ticket in 2012 are slim.
Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, Mark Salter, Terry Nelson and John Weaver: The McCain brain trust throughout the campaign was fraught with mixed messages and competing egos. Unlike Obama’s consistent message of change, the McCain campaign never had one, and bounced from idea to idea in hopes of turning their electoral fortunes around. They also thought it would be a good idea running on change v. experience based on their candidate’s compelling life story, ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton tried making the same argument and failed.
Mark Penn: He severely miscalculated the national mood of the electorate to the point where he may be guilty of political malpractice. He was also a source of constant friction within the Clinton campaign, who did not see the warning signs and did not want to get rid of him. In the end, his lobbying deal for Colombia was too much embarrassment for the campaign to handle and he got demoted.
Joe Lieberman: He bucked his own party and endorsed the Republican ticket. He’s about to find out the hard way that elections have consequences.
George W. Bush: He was a radioactive albatross tied to John McCain and nearly every Republican incumbent around the country this year. He didn’t do much campaigning, but like Keyser Soze in the Usual Suspects, he was the large unseen presence lurking throughout the race.
Tim Mahoney: He wins election because his opponent was involved in a sex scandal, only to go down in defeat himself two years later because of a sex scandal.
Karl Rove and Tom DeLay: Four years after President Bush’s re-election mandate, the dream of a permanent Republican majority is dead.
John Ensign: After the fiasco of 2006, Ensign didn’t do a much better job in helping his party stave off losses in the Senate. This time, it was arguably more consequential, because the Democrats are now inching closer to a 60-seat supermajority when their party controls the White House.

Before it gets too late, I want to note my predictions for the downballot races.

Senate:
The Democrats currently hold a 51-49 majority. They need to a net gain of 9 seats tonight to get a 60-seat supermajority. These are the races which will ultimately determine the size of the new Democratic majority in January.

Alaska: Ted Stevens (R) v. Mark Begich (D)
Begich wins by 8-11 points.

Colorado: Bob Schaffer (R) v. Mark Udall (D)
Udall wins by 7-10 points.

Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R) v. Jim Martin (D)
Chambliss wins by 2-5 points.

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell (R) v. Bruce Lunsford (D)
McConnell wins by 3-6 points.

Louisiana: John Kennedy (R) v. Mary Landrieu (D)
Landrieu wins by 6-9 points.

Maine: Susan Collins (R) v. Tom Allen (D)
Collins wins by 7-10 points.

Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) v. Al Franken (D)
Franken wins 2-5 points.

Mississippi: Roger Wicker (R) v. Ronnie Musgrove (D)
Wicker wins by 4-7 points.

New Hampshire: John Sununu (R) v. Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Shaheen wins by 8-12 points.

New Mexico: Steve Pearce (R) v. Tom Udall (D)
Udall wins by 10-13 points.

North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole (R) v. Kay Hagan (D)
Hagan wins by 4-7 points.

Oregon: Gordon Smith (R) v. Jeff Merkley (D)
Merkley wins by 4-7 points.

Virginia: Jim Gilmore (R) v. Mark Warner (D)
Warner wins by 24-27 points.

If my predictions are correct the Democrats will pick up 8 seats, leaving them at 59-41 in the Senate, one seat short of the supermajority. The GOP firewall in the South will hold, but if they lose McConnell or Chambliss the Dems hit 60.

House of Representatives:
The Democrats currently hold a 236-199 majority. Expect them to pick up between 25-30 more seats tonight. I also expect the Republicans to claim one significant Democratic scalp: John Murtha, largely due to his self-inflicted wounds when he said western Pennsylvania was racist.

John Ensign, chairman of the NRSC gets in on the Palin-bashing.

Downballot Senate Republicans are warning of Democrats controlling the Washington trifecta with a Senate supermajority:

WASHINGTON — In the waning days of the 2008 elections, Republicans from the top of the ticket on down are making a remarkable appeal: Vote for me, because the rest of my party seems headed for defeat.

A spate of new ads paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee are premised on Barack Obama beating John McCain. Some even say that Democrats could pick up enough Senate seats to have a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes. McCain, meanwhile, is arguing that a vote for him is a check against a Democrat-dominated Congress.

“Sending Jeff Merkley to the U.S. Senate could give one party a blank check … again,” says an announcer in an ad for Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, a Republican in a close race with Merkley, a Democrat. “Especially in this economy, Oregon needs an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.”

In North Carolina, where Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole is at risk of losing to Democrat Kay Hagan, the announcer intones, “Who’s the Senate race really about? Hagan or Dole? Neither one. It’s about liberals in Washington. They want complete control of the government … The left wants 60 votes in the Senate.”

In Louisiana, another ad paid for by the Republican committee said of Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu: “Landrieu votes with Barack Obama 81% of the time. Landrieu endorsed Obama. … Don’t give Washington liberals complete control; don’t give them a blank check.”