Update [2007-6-4 23:39:1 by BooMan]: Senator Craig Thomas has passed away. Out of respect I won’t discuss the vacated senate seat for a couple of days. My condolences to his family and friends.
The Guru notes something amazing. The Democrats are defending 12 senate seats in 2008 and the Republicans have identified credible challengers in one of those states. That would be New Jersey, where they have two politicians vying for the right to take on the very unpopular Frank Lautenberg. The Republicans are defending 21 senate seats in 2008. With the unfortunate news that Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) may be succumbing to leukemia, we might be bumping that number up to twenty-two. The Democrats have significant contenders that are at least considering running for 16 of those seats.
We’re still lacking anyone of note in Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, or either of the Wyoming seats. We’re a little weak in Oklahoma, Alaska, New Mexico, and Georgia. But, the main point is that we are getting close to having a candidate for every seat. We should be able to put up a strong challenge in over a dozen races without having to really defend more than one or two.
In state after state, Republicans are opting not to challenge Democrats in this election cycle. And this could have a very demoralizing effect on some of the aging Senators that are considering retirement. Consider:
Ted Stevens (R-AK) is in his mid-eighties and mired in ethical scandals. Why run again if there is almost no chance he will ever again see the majority?
Thad Cochran (R-MS) used to be the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. The earliest he has any chance to have that job again is 2010, and it is pretty unlikely even then.
Larry Craig (R-ID) used to chair the Veteran’s Affairs Committee. His personal life is the subject of gossip and the Idaho Republicans are looking to primary him. Does he need another term in the minority?
John Warner (R-VA) is getting old. He used to chair the Armed Services Committee. Now he’s just a schmuck. Does he want to run a tough race against Mark Warner just to earn more drudgery in the Senate minority?
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) is already pondering retirement and facing a primary (where is behind in the polls). Does he need another term? He promised to only serve two.
Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is getting old. He used to chair the Environment and Public Works committee. Now he has to endure watching Barbara Boxer wield the gavel. How much more of that can he stomach?
Add to this that Wayne Allard (R-CO) is retiring, Craig Thomas (R-WY) is gravely ill, and that it is certain that several Republican incumbents will be voted out of office. For a sitting Republican senator it begins to look a little lonely.
And this is really wear the rubber meets the road. Yes, the White House is the big enchilada, but things look extremely bleak for Republicans even on that front. If the Democrats take back Pennsylvania Avenue, the last bastion of Republican power in Washington will be in the Senate filibuster. But the way things are shaping up, if Bush doesn’t improve his performance and his numbers and the GOP doesn’t improve their recruiting and morale, the GOP will not even have 40 senators left to sustain a filibuster.
That has to be our goal. The total wipeout of Republican power is the only way to do the two most important things that need to be done. First, we need to find a way to totally repudiate Bushism and all that it stands for. Second, we need the Republican Party to reform itself and become a viable, responsible half of the two-party system. To do this we must win the White House and get 60+ senate seats.
And, if we accomplish this, we should be able take the country in a much more progressive direction.