Sunday, August 03, 2008

Veepstakes- Volume 7

The Republican National Convention gavels into session in less than a month now. By the end of this month, most expect that John McCain will have selected his runningmate and all of the speculation will be moot. But since this appears the latest that any Presidential election in modern memory has gone without a Vice Presidential candidate of either party being selected, the speculation is as high as ever. If McCain has not formally picked a runningmate by the beginning of September, he likely has a dramatic convention week rollout in mind.

The short lists are undoubtedly getting shorter, but once again, I provide my list of the best options for McCain at this point. Reports on what McCain might be thinking are somewhat factored in these rankings:

1. Mitt Romney- former Massachusetts Governor and 2008 Presidential candidate (1)- still has more rank and file GOP support than anyone else, has great fundraising abilities and politician connections, is seen as being able to help greatly in Michigan, Nevada, and some other states, and is probably still leading the gambling books but he is acting, at least publicly, as if he does not expect the nod. The former Olympic Games honcho is headed to China this week and if he is recalled to the States by John McCain, it will be a pretty dramatic scene.

2. Tim Pawlenty- Minnesota Governor (4)- this selection would not excite Republicans as much as many other potential picks, but it might in many ways be the safest pick for McCain. He also seems to feel most comfortable personally with Pawlenty. If a couple recent polls that show that Minnesota is indeed very close, a Pawlenty VP pick may indeed make a lot of sense.

3. Rob Portman- Former OMB Director and former Ohio Congressman (2)-still gets many favorable mentions by establishment Republicans, especially those on the Hill. Would be seen as helping in the key state of Ohio.

4. Eric Cantor- Virginia Congressman (5)- speculation about Cantor has really ramped up in recent days. Such a selection could be seen bold in appealing to non-traditional Republicans, while also helping shore up conservatives.

5. Christopher Cox- SEC Chairman and former California Congressman (3)- gets very little mention these days

6. John Thune- South Dakota Senator (6)- would perhaps be the ultimate compromise candidate

7. Bob Riley- Alabama Governor (7)- at this point, probably a very longshot

8. Tom Ridge- former Homeland Security Secretary and former Pennsylvania Governor (new)- back on the list because McCain seems like he would really like to pick him, but is leery of a Pro-Life backlash. Pennsylvania would be awfully important though

9. Fred Smith- CEO and President of Federal Express (8)- this option gets very little mention and it would certainly take a lot of people by surprise

10. John Kasich- former Ohio Congressman (9)- would definitely be seen as bold, but a longshot

Fans of Governors Jindal and Palin, I expect you to be quite dissapointed, but rest assured, their days for national leadership will come..... when the time is right.

Georgia U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Georgia U.S. Senate

August 3, 2008
93 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

When Republican Saxby Chambliss ousted freshman Democrat Senator Max Cleland on Election Night in 2002, it was a sign that Republicans were in for a very good evening. Six years later, the bitterness that many Democrats across the country hold against Chambliss for that win, and in particular for one campaign ad that they felt crossed the line remains, but there is little optimism that Chambliss can be denied a second term, even with a strong cycle for Democrats in 2008.

Cleland and several other prominent Democrats declined to challenge Chambliss's reelection and instead a somewhat crowded field of lesser known Democrats ran instead, with polling data showing that all significantly trail the GOP incumbent. This Tuesday, the top two finishers from last month's primary will face off in a runoff election and after that the general election will officially be underway.

The first place finisher in the primary was Vernon Jones, the elected CEO of DeKalb County. As an African-American, Jones was able to receive strong support from that community and finished first against a field of all white opponents. The second place candidate who advanced to the runoff is a former State Representative named Jim Martin, who was soundly defeated in 2006 as his party's nominee for Lt. Governor. Despite the fact that Jones finished ahead of Martin, he should be expected to be solidly defeated by Martin on Tuesday, as most of the other candidates who lost in the primary have now endorsed Martin. Jones also has a record that involves some serious political and personal baggage going back many years. Most feel that if he were to emerge as the Democrat nominee, Chambliss would easily crush him in a general election.

There are some curious aspects of the Jones vs. Martin contest. Jones, who admits to having voted for President George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004 is now trying to grab ahold of the Barack Obama mantle. He has attacked Martin, who was a John Edwards supporter in the primary, of not having supported Obama. Interestingly enough, Jones also calls himself a more conservative Democrat and says that Martin is too liberal to win statewide.

Martin should win on Tuesday and will be more of a respectable and serious opponent for Chambliss, but the conservative nature of the state and the incumbent's large monetary advantages should still produce an easy victory. There was one somewhat recent Rasmussen Poll which showed that while Chambliss would defeat Jones by 30 points, he had a mere 51-40 lead on Martin. That sort of data should help Martin a great deal among run-off voters, but it still shows that he would begin as a serious underdog and most other polls have showed a wider margin for Chambliss. Not a ton of Georgia or national Democrats seem to be overly enthusiastic about the race, even if Martin emerges on Tuesday. When all is said and done, Chambliss will probably win by around 20 points in November.

Chambliss campaign link (it speaks!):

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 3 D, 3 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 42 D, 29 R