Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Print Edition: Maine Senate & Kansas 2

The new February 8, 2007 print edition of the Rothenberg Political Report is on its way to subscribers. We've posted the first few paragraphs of each story, but for both articles and the complete breakdown of each race, you must subscribe. At you can subscribe by either check or credit card.

Here's a peak into this issue:

Maine Senate: Another Bush Casualty?
By Nathan L. Gonzales

If races took place in a vacuum, Sen. Susan Collins (R) would be in great shape for reelection. But as we learned in 2006, sometimes national dynamics (the President's unpopularity) and international situations (the war in Iraq) can overshadow the candidates and cause incumbents who would normally be safe to fight for their electoral lives.

Susan Collins is no stranger to the Democratic target list. She was an early target during the 2002 cycle, in part because she garnered less than 50% in her initial 1996 election. Collins faced a highly-touted and well-funded state legislator, Chellie Pingree, in '02 but disposed of her handily 58%-42%.

But that was a much different environment. President Bush is very unpopular, as is the war in Iraq, and Republicans are still trying to recover from significant losses last cycle. And even though it's hard to imagine the political environment worsening for Republicans, it's also hard to see it getting significantly better.

In the July 29, 2001 edition of the Report, we wrote, "The question is now whether Collins will have to worry about the sliding popularity of President George W. Bush (R), which could undermine her case for reelection with Maine voters." Almost six years later, the question - and senator's task - remains the same.

Collins will likely face 1st District Cong. Tom Allen (D). He has all but announced his candidacy and represents half the state. Republicans argue it's the wrong half since the most recent statewide office-holders, of both parties, have come out of the 2nd District. Either way, Allen's candidacy is serious, and he is a credible threat to Collins in an environment that remains toxic for Republicans.

Kansas 2: Final Lap?
By Nathan L. Gonzales

Jim Ryun isn't use to losing. From high school track star to the Olympics to Congress, Ryun has achieved success on multiple levels. But in 2006, inattentiveness to his district and unawareness of the political atmosphere contributed to the Republican congressman's defeat. Now, just a couple months later, Ryun is running to reclaim his old seat.

Democrat Nancy Boyda didn't let a significant 2004 loss stop her as she kept running and knocked off Ryun in the Democratic wave last year. She ran a conventional race the first time but opted to shun Washington, D.C.-based consultants in favor of a more local effort.

According to one GOP insider, Ryun's problem was a classic one: he lost touch. He moved to D.C., bought a house, and didn't return to the district as often as many of his colleagues. "[Ryun] got to the point where he didn't think he could lose," one Kansas Republican told the Report.

Ryun is just one of many Republicans who lost last cycle and are running again. But there is no guarantee he will have a free shot at the nomination. Moderates in the fractured Kansas Republican Party could very well put up a challenger for the seat, with state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins getting the most attention.

Even though Boyda and Ryun have faced each other twice before, this race will likely be very different. Incumbency is switched, and Ryun is now forced to run a challenger race. For the sprinter, this will be more like a marathon, and the longest race of his life.

To get the rest of this issue and future issues, including our 2008 House Overview next time, subscribe now.