Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Evacuatin' Dayton Evacuatin'

After defeating an inept candidate in Rod Grams back in 2000, Mark Dayton has become the last to know that his political career is dead. Today he announced that he will not seek reelection. While it's always surprising to see someone retire after just one term, both parties needed to prepare for this possibility when Dayton's numbers plummeted after he was the only Senator to close his office near the elections for fear of a terrorist attack. The early announcement means that the Democrats will now have an opportunity to field a candidate whose mental stability is not in question. Even so, incumbency is powerful and this will mean that the candidate will have to spend valuable campaign funds on all the puff mailings that come from elected officials.

Speaking of politicians who aren't all there, rumors are flying about the possibility of former Gov. Ventura entering the race. Minnesotans probably wouldn't make the same mistake twice, so the question becomes from which party will Ventura take the most votes? Both because of his socially liberal positions and because DFLers have a history of voting for nut cases, the likelihood is that a Ventura candidacy would be welcomed by the GOP. This race will almost certainly be one of the closest in the country, as Democrats have no choice but to pour money into the state to help a second tier candidate build sufficient name recognition to hold the seat. This is one that they can't lose if they hope to regain the Senate within the next decade, so look for Dems to spare no expense in their attempt to keep this seat blue. Even so, it might not be enough against a strong Republican Congressman, either Gil Gutknecht or Mark Kennedy. Only if Republicans renominate Rod Grams can Dems be truly bullish on this race.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Can you sit over there so we can talk about you?

In what had to be an at least somewhat awkward situation, the President spent some time recruiting this weekend. During a flight with Gov. Hoeven and Sen. Conrad of North Dakota, the President spoke with Hoeven about challenging Conrad next year. In 2004, North Dakota feel into the category of missed opportunities with Nevada and Arkansas as a state in which GOP recruiting failures meant that vulnerable Dems got a free pass. Not so in 2006 if the American Spectator has it right. Hoeven won reelection handily and would be a slight favorite in a Senate race against an incumbent whose seniority doesn't mean what it used to now that his party appears to have attained a permanent minority status. A Hoeven-Conrad race would be a slightly toned-down version of Thune-Daschle, with obstructionism being a central issue. While not having the President at the top of the ticket, Hoeven will benefit from the fact that the President can now make some stops in the state without having to worry about losing time in Florida and Ohio. Look for Conrad to think long and hard about retiring since he won't be able to accomplish anything in his next term even if he does eke out a victory.