Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Blogging will be suspended until next week, as RS undergoes an upgrade.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quinn Makes His Mark

Quarterbacking at Notre Dame is not about records. (Brady Quinn set 17 school records this year.) It is not about yardage or touchdown passes. (Quinn's new records include several in both categories.) Quarterbacking at Notre Dame is about winning, and tonight Brady Quinn made his biggest mark yet in the annals of Notre Dame football.

After starting the game with an 80 yard pass to WR Jeff Samardzija, Quinn struggled, throwing two first half interceptions. He was off his game throughout the night, leaving the Irish to rely heavily on Darius Walker's 191 yards on 37 carries. In part due to Quinn's struggles, Stanford stayed in the game and took its first lead, 31-30, with 1:46 to go. Then, Quinn took the ball with his best chance yet to prove his mettle as an Irish quarterback.

The Irish offense started on the 20 with 1:37 to go and two timeouts. On the drive, Quinn went 3/3 for 68 yards, including a 21 yard pass to Maurice Stovall with less than a minute to go, setting up a Darius Walker six yard touchdown run. Walker added two points with a three yard run on a direct snap, walking through a wide hole left by the Irish offensive line.

The win makes the Irish eligible for a BCS bowl for only the second time. The Irish win in the bowl game will be the team's first since Jan. 1, 1994.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Codey Balks

Acting New Jersey Governor Dick Codey has taken himself out of consideration for the Senate seat being vacated by Governor-elect Jon Corzine. The departure leaves Corzine a bunch of options who run close races against the sole Republican (INO) declared candidate Tom Kean. Kean and his potential opponents seem to create a typical New Jersey statewide race minus the GOP Primary fight. While Kean has fared reasonably well in recent polls, New Jersey remains extremely difficult to win for the GOP, even when the candidate is hardly a Republican by national standards. Expect a fairly typical race in which conservatives are turned off, the Republican establishment shows public optimism, and, in the end, the Democrat nominee wins fairly handily.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's hoping Pitt pulls off the upset in the backyard brawl!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New Frontrunner in Michigan

for the GOP, that is. According to a Strategic Vision poll released today, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard is within 14 points of Sen. Debbie Stabenow. His primary opponents, Keith Butler and Jerry Zandstra, who have been campaigning for the better party of a year, trail Stabenow by 19 and 25 points respectively. Perhaps most encouraging, though, is the fact that Bouchard holds Stabenow to 45 points.

The poll gives additional causes for optimism. Stabenow's net approval rating is just +8 and 51% of Michiganders approve of the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. On the flip side, the President's net approval rating is an abysmal -28%, suggesting that, outside of fundraising, he will be a liability for the eventual nominee.

Michigan is not exactly ripe for the picking, but there is an opportunity. A spirited Republican primary between two conservatives could attract some free media and battle-test the eventual nominee. Unfortunately, though, there are three Republican candidates, and three is a crowd. Republicans would do well to squeeze the weakest candidate, Jerry Zandstra out of the race, without dividing the Party. This could be done fairly easily if the GOP establishment and grassroots back either Butler or Bouchard rather than remaining neutral. Once the field narrows to two, both must fire away at Debbie Stabenow, making the battle for the nomination a fight over who could launch the most effective attacks.

Other states, such as Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Ohio, remain more competitive, but Bouchard's standing after missing out on months of campaigning suggest that Michigan is the sleeper race of the 2006 cycle.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Orange Crushed

Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium was, for the first time in several years, what it is supposed to be, a celebration of a strong season, including a big win that day. The pre-game hype for the occasion tightened up the Irish offense, which was held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this year. The defense, however, played lights out from kickoff. The anemic Syracuse offense scored just three points before Charlie Weis emptied the bench. After a slow start, the Irish offense came to life, opening up a 14-3 halftime lead. All doubt about the outcome was erased by sophomore nickleback Leo Ferrine's pick-6 on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. During the game, Brady Quinn became the first quarterback in Irish history to throw for more than 3000 yards in a season, adding to the several new marks he has set throughout the year. A win over Stanford next week would all but assure the Irish a spot in a BCS bowl.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Frist & Co.: Forget the Founders

Since the country's early years, the Congress has done a 180, separating itself as much as possible from the rest of the country. As a result, a separate culture has developed inside District of Columbia. It is a culture that ignores the Constitution because it might be inconvenient. It is a culture that takes action based on political expediency rather than good policy. It is a culture that takes from the rich, middle class, and poor and gives to pork barrel projects. It is a culture that considers all things are okay provided that they help someone get reelected. This cultural shift was completed during the days of the New Deal and has gotten progressively worse since then.

Enter Sen. Trainwreck. During his time in the House, Coburn earned the nickname Congressman Trainwreck by derailing pork barrel spending. In some cases, he opposed spending because it was unconstitutional. In others, he opposed the spending because he deemed it immoral to take money from hardworking families and turn it into what amounts to multi-million dollar campaign contributions. He also spoke out about other issues, such as abortion, when Party "leaders" wanted nothing more than to avoid such subjects altogether.

When Dr. Tom Coburn announced that he planned to run for Senate, he pledged to the people of Oklahoma that he would continue to practice medicine while serving as a Senator. He made the argument of the Founding Fathers that Congress was meant to be made up of citizen-legislators, people who are fully a part of society rather than separate from it. They argued that the closer the legislators were to the people, the better they would be able to understand the issues facing ordinary Americans. How right they were.

Senate ethics rules prohibit Senators from receiving compensation for work in certain fields, including medicine. They can, however, earn money by writing books and collecting farm subsidies (no conflict of interest there, right?). These rules themselves are a perfect example of the convoluted culture of Washington, in which not growing food is prized over saving lives. To reach a compromise, Dr. Coburn asked that the Senate permit him to continue to receive just enough compensation to cover his operating expenses. On Thursday, the Senate denied that request.

To their credit, 51 Senators voted in favor of allowing the good doctor to live up to the vision of the Founders. This included most Republicans, along with Democrats Tom Carper (DE), Mark Dayton (MN), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Barak Obama (IL). It pains me to say anything good about them, along with some of the RINOs who voted for the resolution, such as Collins (ME), Snowe (ME) and Chafee, but they should be applauded for casting principled votes on this issue. On the other hand, the rest of the Democrats, along with Republicans Jim Bunning (KY), Bill Frist (TN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Pat Roberts (KS), Richard Shelby (AL), Craig Thomas (WY), George Voinovich (OH), and John Warner (VA), ought to be ashamed of themselves. It is bad enough that the Congress as a whole has departed so much from the Founders' vision. This, however, is not a slow evolution. Instead, it is a direct contradiction of the wisdom of those who wrote the Constitution with a vision of the United States government being dramatically different from the British House of Lords. Please take a minute to thank your Senators if they did the right thing and, more importantly, to let those who have forgotten what makes American government unique know that you are paying attention.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Circling the Ring

Like two heavyweights sizing each other up after the bell, both sides released their first ads in the fight over the Alito Confirmation. As the Post article said, none of the ads are intended to deal a knockout blow. Instead, they are intended to assess weaknesses, opportunities, and the responsiveness of the targeted Senators.

Among the targeted Senators are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (RINOs-ME). Both were also targeted during the original battle over the constitutional option earlier this year. At the time, they said that outside groups made no difference to them. With the extremely popular Sen. Snowe facing what looks to be an easy reelection next year, it will be interesting to see whether she decides to be loyal to her Party by nixing the filibuster, if necessary, or decides that keeping her popularity ratings in the seventies is more important than ensuring that the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to provide advise and consent on judicial nominees.

It currently appears that the left will focus on a variety of civil rights issues, such as Alito's ruling that the strip-search of a ten-year-old girl was permitted by a search warrant and affidavit. Regardless of the substance of the case, this is indicative of a much larger problem that we have in national discussions of the judiciary. The left never mentions the constitutionality of the search, or other, similar issues. They refuse to engage in a legal discussion. Instead, they just say, "Isn't that ruling outrageous?" because of its result. Some on the right have made a similar mistake by criticizing the recent Ninth Circuit ruling that parents do not have a constitutional veto power over their sexually explicit material in the classroom. While the survey was absolutely uncalled for and has no place in elementary school, there is no constitutional right that applies.

Conservatives need to elevate the debate by showing consistency in these matters. Issues not addressed in the Constitution belong in state governments. If the federal government wishes to exercise more power over these matters, then it is up to Congress to pass a constitutional amendment. The federal courts have no authority to usurp such power, either with respect to search and seizure or parental rights. Judge Alito's rulings should all be evaluated in this light, and anyone who attempts to apply a different standard fails to live up to the standards set by the Founding Fathers.

With regard to the potentiality of a filibuster itself in light of the unprincipled G-14 agreement, anyone arguing that this nomination constitutes "extraordinary circumstances" had better have more to go by than the information currently available. Whether Senators should vote in favor of confirmation is an issue entirely distinct from whether the nomination warrants a filibuster. Conservatives have reason to be extremely optimistic about this nomination. By all appearances, Judge Alito would make an ideal Supreme Court Justice. As I have said earlier, I am not yet prepared to say that he should be confirmed because I continue to have questions about how he would deal with the principle of stare decisis. Even so, it is abundantly clear that Judge Alito's resume and intellect are worthy of the high Court.

Senators Collins and Snowe now have a decision to make. It was no surprise that they participated in the joke of an agreement to avoid the filibuster vote. Now, they will have no choice but to take sides. Neither one of them can be considered a "good Republican" by any standard, but failing to support for an up-or-down vote on this nomination would destroy any illusion that they belong in the Party. Hopefully, it will not come to that. If it does, however, expect that even many of those who have spoken about the need for a "big tent" will turn on Snowe and Collins if they side with Kennedy & Co. If there are no consequences for failing to support an up-or-down vote on Alito, then the Republican Party is utterly meaningless.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bryant Lands Major Endorsement

B4b has the goods. The Tennessee Senate race pits two conservatives, former Rep. Ed Bryant and former Rep. Van Hilleary, against flip-flopper Bob Corker. Both Bryant and Hilleary have bonifed conservative credentials, but it was Bryant who served as a pro-life leader during his time in the House. While both have lost statewide races, Bryant lost a primary to now-Senator Lamar Alexander while Hilleary lost a general election to now-Gov. Phil Bredesen. Hilleary ran a less-than-stellar campaign and now appears to be running for whatever he can get.

Tennessee Right to Life is a major player in state politics, but is, of course, not the only major player. The best case scenario for either of the conservatives would be for the other to drop out, resulting in a 1-on-1 match-up against Corker. The best way for this to happen is for conservatives to fall in line behind one of the two, leaving the other in a position where it remains difficult to justify remaining in the race. The endorsement is not enough in and of itself to force Hilleary out of the race, but it creates an environment in which conservative organizations looking for either of the candidates who are not Bob Corker to make decisions about their endorsements knowing that, regardless of what they do, Bryant will have significant conservative backing. Thus, a Hilleary endorsement by one or more of those groups would ensure a divided base and create the most likely scenario for Corker's nomination.

As I have said before, Ed Bryant offers conservatives our best chance of keeping the seat, and would make for a more reliably conservative Senator than Hilleary. This endorsement is welcome news and, hopefully, will begin to plant the seeds of doubt in Hilleary's head as to whether he really belongs in the race.

Senate Vertebra Count: 14

Today, Senate Democrats proposed a resolution calling for transition in Iraq to native control and the withdrawal of US troops. The proposal could be best described as "silly", as it demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of what is entailed in bringing about stability in the reborn nation. The President has rightly and repeatedly said that we will be there as long as it takes and no longer. The transition continues, but so do the terrorist attacks, and it is ridiculous to impose an arbitrary withdrawal of troops on the Commander in Chief. While he has bungled one domestic policy after another, the President is among the few who has shown an understanding that things are going about as one could have expected, and that it is far more dangerous to allow terrorists to dictate the timeframe for withdrawal than to see the mission through and ensure stability in the new and free Iraq.

While the defeat of the resolution was a plus, the Senate GOP, "led" by Bill Frist, immediately proposed another resolution that said, "2006 'should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq'." This is the Senate GOP's version of the Bewitched plan for Iraq: blink twice, nod your head, and it can all be over. The Administration wants to get out of Iraq as badly as any Senator. Fortunately, for all his faults, this President understands that finishing the job is more important than responding to MoveOn.org's plan for world happiness and warm fuzzies. The non-binding resolution is a political ploy, an attempt to create daylight between Senate Republicans and the White House. Rather than showing unity, Frist & Co. are cowtowing to the defeated left and doing serious damage to the Party and, more importantly, the country.

Fortunately, fourteen members of the Senate, including one Democrat, care more about winning the war than playing politics. These fourteen members voted against both resolutions, recognizing them for what they are, and instead are standing with the President in these difficult times. Perhaps the only cause for encouragement in this sad development is that six o the seven Republican freshmen were among the 14, a good sign for the future. Those with backbone are newly elected Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Kent Conrad (D-ND) Jim DeMint (R-SC), Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), and David Vitter (R-LA). Sen. Jon Kyl deserves special credit for being the only one in the bunch facing a tough reelection next year. To be sure, some of these Senators are frequent problems on several issues. Even so, they all deserve credit for standing behind the President and against a Bewitched foreign policy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unhelpful Chatter

After apparently ending discussion of a possible Senate bid in August, Florida House Speaker Allan Bense has once again drawn attention to himself by refusing to say "No" to a bid against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. This is just the latest in the continuing saga that is the Florida Senate race.

At the beginning of the cycle, Nelson looked to all the world like one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the Senate. A popular Republican Governor had been reelected easily and enjoyed extremely high popularity. The President had improved on a razor thin margin to win with some wiggle room. Mel Martinez captured the open Senate seat after a late entry. Even if the GOP were faced with a spirited primary, it seemed as though unity thereafter could send Nelson into retirement.

Enter Rep. Katherine Harris. Exit GOP establishment.

Harris announced her candidacy in July, and the Republican establishment immediately set about undermining her candidacy. It is fair enough for a party to attempt to put forward its best candidate, but it is quite another thing to eat your own. Harris is so far the only Republican to show any interest in the seat of her own volition. The Bush's and Sen. Dole have been working since to find somebody -- anybody -- else to challenge Harris in the primary. In the meantime, several establishment figures, most notably Brian Nick of the NRSC, have publicly complained, criticized, and undermined her candidacy. All of this has led to a weakened frontrunner and no challenger.

Katherin Harris managed to clear her own field for one simple reason: she is popular with the people who win elections. She had demonstrated exceptional fundraising ability, both for herself and for others in the Party. She had proved an effective campaigner, winning her initial campaign as an underdog and then, in spite of reports to the contrary, has closely mirrored the President's performance in her Congressional district. Finally, she motivates the base, the people who actually determine elections, especially mid-term elections.

In the beginning, there could have been plenty of discussion as to who would have been the best Republican nominee. Now, it is clear that any other Republican would have been dragged into the race kicking and screaming. The current division is extremely destructive to the Party. This is unfortunately reflective of the larger, even more disturbing picture, where the conservative base is shunned and Republican liberalism is prized. Those involved in candidate recruitment continue to attempt to please those whom they will never please at the expense of motivating those with whom they should be fighting arm-in-arm. Perhaps Rep. Harris would be faring better in polls if the NRSC had spent more money attacking Sen. Bill Nelson than Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey.

It is time for these games to end. The election is less than a year away, and every day that we go without uniting behind a candidate is money, time, and effort lost. Once we unite behind Harris, she will have several fundraising doors opened and she will be able to mount a credible campaign. Will she win? That remains to be seen, but it is abundantly clear that any primary challenger emerging now will severely, perhaps permanently, divide the Florida Republican Party and cost us any chance of defeating the vulnerable incumbent.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Death v. Byrd

In the latest failure by NRSC head Elizabeth Dole, former West Virginia University basketball coach Gale Catlett announced on Friday that he will not challenge Sen. Robert KKK Byrd next year. The announcement leaves the 88 year old Senator just one remaining viable foe in his eighth reelection bid, death. Those who have seen him recently report that Byrd has seemed increasingly frail. It surely comes as a relief to the DSCC that he will not be forced to campaign at all and that he can instead focus on maintaining a pulse until Election Day. The death v. Byrd race against death could be among the most interesting of 2006.

42 and Counting

Early in the game, it looked like it could be one of those Navy-Notre Dame games, the kind that made Lou Holtz say at every opportunity, "That Navy game scares the hell out of me." The Irish opened up with a 68 yard touchdown drive, but Navy responded. They drove 69 yards in 7:38, tying the game at 7. While the Irish offense had no trouble, there was some question as to whether the Irish defense could handle Navy's unorthodox offense. The game remained close until late in the second quarter when Cory Mays recovered a Lamar Owens fumble and the Irish offense capitalized. From that point, it was never close. Brady Quinn again posted Heisman-worthy numbers, completing 22/31 for 284 yards, 4 touchdowns and a pick. The win was Notre Dame's 42nd consecutive victory over the Naval Academy, a streak that extends back to the year Roger Staubach won the Heisman Trophy. After the game, Charlie Weis had his team stand behind the Midshipmen as they sang their alma mater, showing uncommon class and respect for the rival that once kept the University open when it faced the possibility of closing. This week, the two schools extended their contract to play through 2015. Fortunately, it is doubtful that the contract will ever expire.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Primary Challengers Bail

This week, two primary challengers, one potential one actual, ended any talk of their candidacies. In Utah, state Rep. Steve Urquhart abandoned his short-lived bid to take out Sen. Orrin Hatch, a frequent thorn in the side of conservatives. Urquhart planned to run a different type of campaign, focusing on volunteer efforts to get his message across. Unfortunately, though, political reality set in as he failed to meet the low expectations he set for his fundraising. The need for cash is simply a reality, and Urquhart simply did not have a realistic plan for raising what he would have needed for this uphill battle. Urquhart's departure ensures Hatch's reelection.

In New Jersey, state Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio has opted against a primary challenge to Tom Kean, Jr. Pennacchio had entertained a bid, but had not formally pursued one. Unlike Urquhart's departure, this does not let the frontrunner off the hook. State Assemblyman Michael Doherty and Bill Spadea are both considering bids. This would be just the latest in a series of contentious and divisive GOP primaries in New Jersey.

Unlike previous primaries, it appears as though the conservative wing of the Party would be united behind one of the two, meaning that there would be a heads-up match-up between a conservative and a liberal. Such a match-up would bode well for the Party in the state. It would be an opportunity for primary voters and rank-and-file activists to recapture the GOP from the unprincipled, corrupt establishment. This year, over sixty percent of primary voters voted for someone more conservative than Doug Forrester. This week, many of those voters stayed home, and over the past several months, many of the activists focused on other, more local races. A conservative candidacy would motivate the base. Even if the candidacy itself failed, which I do not grant it would, it would reinvigorate a dead Party and pave the way for progress in the future.

In the short-term the Republican establishment will be relieved by the departures. There is no question that the Urquhart defeat is a victory for the status quo. Pennacchio's decision, though, could end up working out well if it clears the way for another principled conservative to capture and build the GOP in a state where the entire party establishment could be considered RINO.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Delusional Democrats

In light of the Kaine win in the Virginia gubernatorial election, Sen. Chuck Schumer is now saying that he will "look 'very carefully'"at a challenge to Sen. George Allen. Unfortunately for Schumer, the only Democrat who had any chance of defeating Allen already declined to run, rightly recognizing the fact that, even for him, it would be a major risk. Kilgore was not Allen, and the potential Democrat candidates are not Tim Kaine.

Democrats invested as much time and energy trying to recruit Warner as any candidate but Junior Casey, and for good reason. The Governor, and only the Governor, could have given Allen a run for his money. Neutral and partisan polls clearly showed that the Democrats have less of a chance in Virginia than Democrats have in Hell. Unless it freezes over, any and all time and money they spend in the Old Dominion will be a waste.

For all those who are laughing at the prospect of the Democrats taking this seat, just remember that the Democrats have the same reaction when we talk about winning New Jersey. Not all seats are potentially, nevermind actually, competitive.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Outlook 2006

Over at NRO, John Miller summarizes the competitive 2006 Senate races. So I'll take the opportunity to do likewise.

Safe Dem (11)
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota
West Virginia - If Gale Catlett enters and Byrd continues deteriorating publicly, this could get interesting. If not, KKK stays put.

Likely Dem (4)
Florida - Rep. Harris's primary asset was supposed to be her fundraising ability. So far, she's not doing well. If the Party unites now, Harris could be competitive, but it will be difficult to undo the damage that has been done by the estbalishment's desperate public attempts to find somebody else. At this point, some in the GOP may be hoping that Harris loses the general election if only to maintain their credibility.
Michigan - Sen. Debbie Stabenow is among the Senate's leading fundraisers. GOP candidates Keith Butler and Jerry Zandstra have failed to catch fire. The reentry of Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard offers the GOP a chance, but with just a year left, he has a lot of catching up to do.
New Jersey - Tom Kean, Jr. is unlikely to unite a deeply divided GOP. A Pennacchio upset in the primary could energize the base, but so far he has yet to declare his candidacy. Either candidate would face a steep uphill fight.
Washington - Sen. Cantwell remains semi-vulnerable, but her strong fundraising has helped pad her lead in this rather blue state. Last year, it looked briefly as though Rep. Nethercutt had a shot at Sen. Murray. Then she blew him away. This race could well be very similar.

Lean Dem (3)
Maryland - If a recent poll is correct, Mfume could upset Cardin in the primary. If he does so, this is a toss-up. If not, this becomes "Likely Dem".
Nebraska - When GOP recruiting goes this badly, it usually means a loss. This may become competitive because of the state's GOP bent, but the situation is less than ideal.
Pennsylvania - Junior Casey is thumping Mudd, but it is difficult to overstate the advantages of incumbency.

Toss-up (3)
Minnesota - Rep. Mark Kennedy is the GOP's best challenger this cycle. The race will hinge on turnout, so it is critical that the President start acting like a conservative to motivate the base.
Ohio - Recent polls show DeWine to be second only to Santorum in terms of vulnerability. Luckily for him, he has two left-wing loons battling it out in the Dem primary. If he gets a primary challenge from former Rep. Bob McEwen, he may not survive. Even if he does, it will serve to widen the rift between him and conservatives.
Rhode Island - The missing Linc has two potential fights on his hands. This one will be fun to watch, as each of the four candidates fires away at the other three. Politics at its best? Worst? Either way, it'll be very entertaining.

Lean Rep (3)
Arizona - Sen. Kyl led easily in the last poll, but Jim Pederson held him to 50%. It's not panic time, and Kyl remains a solid favorite, but as Jon Corzine has shown, money can buy happiness.
Missouri - The Dems recruited a strong candidate, but the state is moving right. If Sen. Talent doesn't make the same mistake Gov. Blunt has in aggravating his base by endorsing embryonic stem-cell research, he should be able to keep the seat.
Tennessee - The Senate isn't the Governor's mansion. If former Rep. Ed Bryant gets the nod, "Senator Bryant" is all but a certainty. Van Hilleary would have an advantage as well. The only way Ford really has a chance is if Bryant and Hilleary split conservatives in the primary and give the nomination to the uninspiring Bob Corker.

Likely Rep (1)
Montana - Sen. Conrad Burns has the good fortune of facing an opponent who will emerge from a bitter primary. Democrats need unity to win national races here, and they don't have it.

Safe Rep (8)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Corzine Win Puts NJ in Play

Sen. Jon Corzine's thumping of Doug Forrester has put the New Jersey Senate race in play. Corzine now has the opportunity to choose his successor, something that must not be taken lightly. Many think that Corzine has his eyes on the Presidency, and this opportunity will prove a double-edged sword. He can reach out to Hispanics by tapping Rep. Robert Menendez or, more likely, he will look to please the Democrat establishment by selecting the man whom he will be replacing, acting Gov. Dick Codey, whom the Democrats consider their strongest candidate.

So far the only announced Republican candidate is Tom Kean, Jr., a Whitman Republican. Forrester's underperformance shows that Republican losses in New Jersey are not a result of candidates being too conservative, but a result of a lack of principle in the Party as a whole. In fact, the small but essential Party base has had little to get excited about since 2001. Even then, though, the Party establishment was more interested in promoting a far left agenda than electing Bret Schundler, as evidenced by the fact that they attended a pro-choice Republican organization fundraiser instead of a Schundler fundraiser just a week before the election. It is time for the GOP establishment to stay out of the primary and do its job of helping to elect the chosen candidate of the rank-and-file.

State Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio, who was just reelected last night, could emerge as a conservative alternative to Kean. If Pennacchio emerges from a spirited primary that focuses on defeating the incumbent rather than a civil war, the GOP has a shot at pulling off the upset. A Kean candidacy, especially if it comes as a result of a cleared field, would likely result in yet another defeat for the fledgling New Jersey Republican Party. To be sure, New Jersey is not a conservative state waiting to be won by a Coburn-type candidate, but principled fiscal conservatism could be rewarded with a Senate seat regardless of the nominee's position on social issues.

New Jersey still falls between the "Likely Democrat" and "Lean Democrat" categories, but the decisions of Corzine and Pennacchio will go a long way toward determining whether it will stay there.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

How'd I Do?

Pretty well outside of the Buckeye state, though I did underestimate the support of third-party candidates:

New Jersey Governor
Prediction: 52-48 Corzine
Result: 53-43 Corzine

Virginia Governor
Prediction: 51-48 Kaine
Result: 52-46 Kaine

Prop 73 (Parental Notification)
Prediction: 54-46 Yes
Result: TBD

Props 1-5
Prediction: All 5 pass
Result: 1 passed; 2-5 failed

New York City
Prediction: 54-46 Bloomberg
Result: 58-39 Bloomberg

Promise in Maryland

There's good news for Maryland Lt. Gov Michael Steele. A Baltimore Sun poll shows Kweisi Mfume within 2 points of Rep. Ben Cardin in the Democrat Primary, trailing 30-28. The large number of undecideds is encouraging news for Mfume, whom some thought may have turned off too many voters with his racist tendencies. In spite of finishing the third quarter will less than $100,000 in the bank, Mfume has managed to remain competitive.

Mfume's ratings could encourage some contributions, which he will need as the cash on hand turns into ad buys. Mfume's main advantage lies in the fact that his voters are concentrated in a few, densely populated areas, meaning that he will be able to counter Cardin's more expensive GOTV operations with grassroots activity. Even so, he will need some base of support.

For now, contributions of time or money in other states would be better investments. Even so, if you are, for whatever reason, especially interested in the Maryland, here's where your time and money can be put to the best use. While you may feel dirty helping the left-wing loony, keep in mind that the only way that Steele wins the general is if Mfume wins the primary. Oh by the way, changing parties in time for the primary would also be a worthwhile endeavor. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, and this is time for a one-race stand.

Election Day Predictions

Obviously this blog is devoted primarily to the Senate, but since today is Election Day, some predictions are in order:

New Jersey
Corzine 52
Forrester 48

Kaine 51
Kilgore 48

Proposition 73 (Parental Notification)
Yes 54
No 46

Proposition 77 (Election Reform)
Yes 42
No 58

Propositions 1-5 pass

New York City
Bloomberg 54
Ferrer 46

Feel free to post your predictions in the Comments section.

Monday, November 07, 2005

DeWine Keeps Digging

Having repeatedly aggravated his base, Sen. Mike DeWine has once again opened the Pandora's box he calls a mouth and backed off of his earlier statement that he would vote for the Byrd option should the Democrats mount a filibuster of Judge Alito. The most recent flip-flop comes after a Columbus Dispatch poll was taken late last month, showing DeWine polling in the low-30s against both of his potential opponents. DeWine has managed to collect more enemies than Imelda Markos collected shoes. It is only thanks to the corruption of Gov. Taft that he is not the least popular politician in the state.

Tomorrow's ballot initiatives will be a good indication of just how bad a shape he is in. If propositions 1-5 pass, DeWine will find himself the Democrats' #2 target after Sen. Mudd and ahead of Lincoln Chafee. If not, it suggests that the Ohio GOP still has a voter pull operation that will keep DeWine in the race.

Former Rep. Bob McEwen is still a potential primary challenger for DeWine, but his time is running out. The Ohio Primary takes place on May 1, meaning that McEwen would have less than six months to pull off the upset. Even so, the conservative establishment in the state would likely fall in lock-step behind a primary challenger, pitting conservatives against partisans in an ugly, but necessary, match-up. McEwen may well be waiting to see tomorrow's results to make a determination about whether he could mount a serious challenge. If GOP turnout fails to meet low expectations, expect McEwen to jump in the race within a week. The potential primary challenge could be the only way that the GOP could hold on to this seat.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Zbikowski Leads Irish Past Vols

Notre Dame became bowl eligable today, dropping the Tennessee Volunteers 41-21. The game looked like it would be over almost as soon as it started, as the Irish jumped up by two touchdowns less than ten minutes in. Then the offence went into remission, not scoring again until early in the fourth quarter. While Brady Quinn had another stellar performace, completing 20/33 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns, safety Tom Zbikowski's performance was worthy of player of the game honors. Five minutes into the second quarter, Zbikowski returned a punt 79 yards, weaving through the holes left by his blockers. Later, he put the nail in Tennessee's coffin, picking off an Eric Ainge pass and taking it back thirty-three yards. Look for the Irish to move up 3-4 spots in the BCS, as Virginia Tech, UCLA, Florida State, and Wisconsin all lost. Next week, the Irish sink Navy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Thanks, Rick

Snarlin' Arlen Specter, whom Sen. Samuel Mudd bailed out of political extinction, announced today that the Judiciary Committee's hearings on Judge Samuel Alito will not be held until January. History has taught that time is the enemy of Supreme Court nominations. The left now has the opportunity to exploit its monetary advantage by spending the next three months throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Alito. We know their tactics. We know their lack of any sense of fair play.

This is just the latest incident in a pattern of behavior by the disloyal Chairman. Shortly following last year's elections, the Chairman said that Supreme Court nominees who did not say that they would uphold Roe would be unlikely to be confirmed. He subsequently minced his words, but the threat remained. Then he refused to state a position on the constitutional option, leaving the Republicans with 49 votes to end the Democrats' unconstitutional filibusters and giving the seven dwarves an excuse to cut an unprincipled deal. At the beginning of the Roberts hearings, Specter spent 28:30 of his half hour talking about the "super de duper" precedent of Roe, sounding much like a Democrat imposing the type of litmus test that Republicans have decried for years. Now, he is giving the Democrats an opportunity to beat up on the nominee with unfair attacks.

The claim that this process could not have run its course by Christmas is ludicrous. Samuel Alito has been thought to be on the "short list" since President Bush was elected. He has a clear paper trail that has been analyzed ad nauseam by attorneys on both sides of the aisle. The judges who have worked with him are speaking publicly. His resume is beyond reproach.

Conservatives still have reason to be wary about Judge Alito, primarily because it is not yet known how he will treat bad precedent once on the Court. Hopefully, the hearings will shed some light on his approach to this important matter. Even so, there is no reason to delay the hearings other than to give the left more time to attack Alito's jurisprudence, attack his record, and make thinly veiled innuendo about his Catholic faith. As such, delaying the hearings will serve only to further erode the comity that Specter claimed to want to protect when he opted not to state a position on the constitutional option.

Arlen Specter is primarily responsible for this delay. Senator Mudd is primarily responsible for Arlen Specter. We deserve better from supposed conservatives.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Opportunity Knocks: Bouchard Back In

After entering and leaving the Michigan Senate race earlier this year, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has reentered the race, having dealt with the health issues that forced him out of the race earlier this year. This comes as good news, as reverends Keith Butler and Jerry Zandstra have struggled to catch fire. Recent polls show both trailing Stabenow by 20+ points.

Bouchard's candidacy will be an uphill battle. Butler and Zandstra have been campaigning for almost a year, and Butler in particular has a small but loyal following. More significantly, Stabenow has been raising money at a fierce pace, finishing the third quarter with over $4.7 million. Bouchard also has some name recognition problems as well, and getting in this late makes that problem difficult to solve.

On the positive side, Bouchard has political experience, having been elected to both houses of the state legislature before being elected county sheriff. With establishment backing and political connections, he should have better luck raising money than the other two Republicans. He has also established conservative credentials, with a voting record to back it up, that will serve him well if he is able to raise enough money to get that message out. Finally, having been elected in Oakland County he could perform well in an area that has been trending blue in recent elections.

Bouchard enters late and has a steep hill to climb. Even so, he likely offers us our best chance to take down the vulnerable Stabenow. This race is somewhere between "Lean Democrat" and "Likely Democrat". If Bouchard has a good fourth quarter fundraising, this one could get very interesting. If not, it could just as easily get very ugly.