By Stuart Rothenberg
While Democratic strategists have not yet started to count their chickens, there is increasing evidence that two key Democrat Senate recruits are moving toward '08 Senate races.
Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who narrowly lost a 2002 Senate race against Republican John Sununu, has reversed her earlier decision against running next year and, after a heavy recruiting effort by many Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, appears to be leaning toward a re-match with Sununu.
Insiders stress that Shaheen has not made a final decision, but they agree that the betting at the Harvard Institute of Politics, where she is the director, and in savvy political circles in New Hampshire, is that she is now likely to enter the Senate race.
In Nebraska, former Senator (and former Governor) Bob Kerrey also appears to be inching toward entering the state’s Senate contest, assuming that incumbent Senator Chuck Hagel (R) decides not to seek reelection. Kerrey would not challenge Hagel if the Republican decides to seek another term, which many think is not likely.
Kerrey, who is telling friends that his wife has signed off on a Senate race, has already paid for a survey and contacted operatives who worked for him in the past. And he is the keynote speaker at this weekend’s annual Democratic event, the Morrison-Exon Dinner, on June 23. "He wouldn’t go and do the dinner if he wasn’t serious about the Senate," one knowledgeable Democratic insider told me.
Based on early recruiting, Democrats have so far put three GOP Senate seats in play, the open seat in Colorado and seats held by Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Susan Collins (Maine). They are still looking for a top tier candidate against Oregon’s Gordon Smith.
Democratic chances for another mega-year in the Senate would also be enhanced by possible additional Republican Senate retirements in Virginia and Nebraska.
This item first appeared on Political Wire on June 21, 2007.
Friday, June 22, 2007
By Stuart Rothenberg