Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006



Dear Reader,

As you likely know, our blog Dayton v. Kennedy
( underwent a major challenge several
weeks ago when our principal antagonist -- Minnesota Democratic
Senator Mark Dayton -- decided not to seek reelection. As good as that was for the people of Minnesota, it was nearly the end of a blog that had predicated its existence on "returning Senator Mark Dayton to the ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006".

For the last several weeks we have persevered by calling ourselves
'The Blog Formerly Known as Dayton v. Kennedy' or simply TBFKADVK. In
spite of Dayton's withdrawal from the race, our readership has continued to grow and we have been highlighted in several national publications. Jon Lauck, groundbreaking proprietor of Daschle v. Thune has generously called this blog "the heir to Daschle v. Thune". We expect that many other bloggers will begin to chronicle their respective state U.S. Senate races in 2006. Several already have. We intend to continue blogging the 2006 Minnesota Senate Race from a (Mark) Kennedy-centric perspective.

To that end we undertook to both rename and redesign our blog. A link
to the new site is below. After several weeks we arrived at the name
'Kennedy vs. The Machine' -- the "machine" being the amalgamation of
the DFL, Star Tribune, most local TV affiliates and all the national
Leftist groups who will bring their forces to bear on Rep. Mark
Kennedy over the next 18 months.

We hope you will enjoy the new site and will bookmark us just as many of you did with this one. Now let's get about the business of creating a filibuster-proof majority that reforms Social Security, restores the federal judiciary to constitution-friendly territory, and keeps our nation safe.

The Blog is dead! Long live the Blog!

Kennedy vs. The Machine


Social Security Battle Tied to 2006 Campaign

Brad Woodhousee, 2004 communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee acknowledges that the fight over Social Security is the opening salvo of the 2006 congressional elections. We can only hope he will be as successful in his current role with Americans United as he was in last year's Senate elections.

Read the piece from AP here which also makes mention of the Minnesota angle.


The Machine Is Coming...

Are you ready?

On the Trail...

...Of competitive U.S. House races.

Here’s an urgent newsflash. Most Congressional seats aren’t in play. In fact, Congressional incumbents average a 95% chance of re-election every cycle. So open seats, rare as they can be, are precious commodities for both sides and one need not look further than National Journal’s 2006 U.S. House preview to see how few seats are even remotely in play. The Journal’s On the Trail page lists 32 potentially competitive districts, many of whose classification is entirely dependant on rumored opponents of mostly suspect stock---from NFL washout Heath Shuler to erratic-armed former Atlanta Braves catcher Dale Murphy.

Minnesota’s 6th Congressional isn’t much different:

Mark Kennedy (R)

2002 redistricting really helped make this a slightly GOP-leaning district. That said, with Kennedy making a Senate bid, it clearly falls in our most competitive category. Democrats are hoping they can get their 2004 nominee, Patty Wetterling, to run again. But she seems intent (for now) on exploring a Senate bid herself. Without Wetterling, Democrats face an uphill challenge.

Wetterling has a decision to make---and it probably needs to be made very soon. The longer she remains in the U.S. Senate race, the more difficult it becomes to change gears and run for Congress without alienating voters. Waltzing back into a previous race is tough after you’ve jumped into another campaign with both feet. Not even some incumbents are able to do it successfully and Wetterling doesn’t even have the aura of incumbency to fall back upon. Needless to say, if the shoe were on the other foot, Mark Kennedy would have the same difficulty explaining to 6th District voters his U.S. Senate candidacy.

If Wetterling stays put, the DFL bench is precisely that---second-stringers. St. Cloud Mayor John Ellenbecker might be the best alternative candidate mentioned thus far with former Transportation Commissioner and Blaine Mayor Elwyn Tinklenberg a close second. Former 6th District Congressman Bill Luther’s Chief of Staff, Ted Thompson, has also been mentioned as he was in 2004 before Wetterling’s candidacy. In all likelihood, count out 2002 nominee Janet Robert, who remains busy running Air America’s radio affiliate in Minnesota and probably isn’t interested in repeating her expensive negative campaign that earned only 35% at the polls.



As an evangelical I feel unqualified to comment on the theological elements of John Paul II's papacy except to say I admired his commitment to orthodoxy. As a leader of his faith he was extraordinary, but it was as a spiritual voice for the oppressed people of the then-Soviet Bloc that this pope's legacy may be most widely felt. The peoples of Central Europe owe an enormous debt to JPII as it was the trinity (excuse the blasphemy) of Reagan, Thatcher and JPII who are largely responsible for their current liberty.

When he passes it will be facinating to watch John Paul's successor attempt to fill the vacuum left behind. For a quarter century he has been a consistent champion of what is often called "the culture of life". His imminent passing is not without political implications as his absence could leave an enormous void in the moral debate. With a fracus raging on euthanasia, abortion and the federal judiciary who rules on such matters, the pontiff's successor could not be in a more influential position to influence the issues that will shape the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Now that the sheep is gone, the shepherd is ready to give up the ghost.

Franken v. Coleman

Al Franken plans to return to Minnesota next year, buy a house, and gear up for a Senate race against Norm Coleman in 2008. It doesn't get any better than this.

Hat tip: Mitch.

Hey Al, I know a good realtor.

More Sabato

First Ringer noted Professor Larry Sabato's play-it-safe approach to political prognosticating in a recent post. Yesterday Sabato's "Crystal Ball" revealed its 14 seats most likely to change hands in 2006. They are as follows (with exclusive TBFKADVK commentary on each race):

FL-Bill Nelson (D)
We disagree with Sabato's contention that MN is the most likely to switch Republican. If Republicans pick the right candidate, Nelson becomes a senior NASA administrator.
MD-Open (D)
On paper this looks like a sure Democratic retention. And yet the Republicans may well field one of the brightest African-American talents of either party in Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Two University of Maryland political science professors have already made the case that Steele may be a slight favorite in this race.
MI-Debbie Stabenow (D)
Stabenow should be a goner -- if anyone would run against her. Rep. Candice Miller has already ruled herself out but can hopefully be persuaded to change her mind. Stabenow polled very poorly in a recent Detroit Free Press poll. Perhaps local conservative diva Margaret could be persuaded to carpetbag back to her state of origin...
MN-Open (D)
It is no secret we think highly of Republican chances here.
MT-Conrad Burns (R)
Ah. The Great Western Democratic hope. If Robert Redford can live here surely there's hope to turn Montana into the loan "blue" outpost in the Rocky Mountain West, right? If Burns doesn't run, former Governor Marc Racicot could easily save the seat for the Republicans.
ND-Kent Conrad (D)--only if GOP Governor John Hoeven runs
Agreed. But he is getting the full court press from the White House unlike anyone else this election cycle. TBFKADVK predicts Hoeven will run and make this race a coin toss.
NE-Ben Nelson (D)
Unbelievably vulnerable. Equally unbelievable is that Nelson lacks any plausible challenger to date.
NJ-Open (D)--only if Senator Jon Corzine is elected governor in 2005 Leans Democrat. But Tom Kean (son of the former popular Republican governor) is the one candidate Democrats are said to fear. And he's running.
PA-Rick Santorum (R)
Here's your Jeb Bush of the 2006 mid-terms. By Jeb Bush I mean that he is the one candidate the most venomous elements of the Left will concentrate all their efforts on -- only to have Santorum win. Democrats tout polls showing Bob Casey, Jr. narrowly besting Santorum in a head-to-head matchup. What they don't tell you is that Santorum also has a 53% re-elect number. He is also considered one of the best pure campaigners in the Senate.
RI-Lincoln Chafee (R)
Chafee's job is much easier with his two strongest Democratic challengers taking a pass. Kos agrees.
TN-Open (R)
Democrat Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. is an attractive candidate and not a bad guy. But if the Republicans can field any kind of credible candidate this most reddish of states will likely stay that way.
TX-Open (R)--only if Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison runs for governor in 2006
Most likely to change, Sabato? Got crack? LBJ couldn't win this seat for the Democrats in 2006
VA-George Allen (R)--only if Governor Mark Warner (D) decides to run Allen wants to be president and could emerge as the default conservative candidate in '08. Warner wants to be president too. For that reason he won't challenge Allen. Safe Allen.
WA-Maria Cantwell (D)
If cheated gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi runs against Cantwell this is a coin toss.

Speaking of crystal balls, win the admiration of TBFKADVK if you are the first person in the comments section to correctly identify the 1970s band who did the song, "Crystal Ball". No Google searches, please.



Regular readers know that we are interested not only in Minnesota's 2006 Senate race, but in expanding the Republican Senate majority elsewhere. There is an extraordinary opportunity to do exactly that right next door in North Dakota. Peter Savodnik writes an interesting piece on this potential blockbuster race by weaving in the politics of ranching and Social Security. From The Hill:

Republicans in Washington have said privately that their only hope of beating Conrad, in his fourth term, is Hoeven, who recently won his second term as governor with more than 70 percent of the vote.

These Republicans add that North Dakota should be a ripe target, given that the state strongly backed Bush in 2000 and 2004. Also, many in the GOP have said that they feel empowered by last year’s defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in neighboring South Dakota.

But dude, Republicans don't get "empowered". Definite liberal adjective there, Pete. Next time try "emboldened", "confident", "expectant", or even "upbeat".


Wictory Wednesday

In the late '80s there was a raging debate in the pages of National Review magazine, at that time the flagship of conservative journalism. Then-editor (and godfather of modern conservatism) William F. Buckley was arguing that conservatives should throw their support behind moderate Democrat Joseph Lieberman in his attempt to unseat liberal Republican Lowell Weicker in their Connecticut Senate race. Thomas Sowell, if memory serves me, was arguing against conservative support for Lieberman by contending that of greatest importance is securing a Senate majority -- from which all legislative power flows.

Buckley's support may not have made the difference but it didn't hurt Lieberman's ultimately successful campaign against Weicker.

Today conservatives are facing a situation with similarities in Rhode Island. Liberal Republican Lincoln Chafee will be in a tough race next year. His task has been made somewhat easier by the fact that he will be facing "dynasty" ultra-liberal candidate Patrick Kennedy. What makes our decision easier, as conservatives, to support Chafee is best summarized below by Polipundit:

Chafee is one of the more independent members of the Republican caucus. But he casts the two most important votes that count:

1. To keep Republicans in charge of the Senate, so that ultra-liberals like Patrick Leahy do not chair key committees.

2. To give the president’s judicial nominees a fair up-or-down vote.

Every seat matters. Please support Chafee’s campaign with an online contribution.


UPDATE: A day after his mother was found drunk and badly injured while lying in a street, Patrick Kennedy is OUT of the race.
(Hat tip: SI Conservative)


On the Dole

With her predecessor, Senator George Allen, demonstrating enormous success at fundraising and the recruiting of world-class candidates in the likes of John Thune, Richard Burr, Jim DeMint and others in the 2004 election cycle, Elizabeth Dole does not seem nearly as motivated in her new role as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Republican insiders" believe the Party could pay for giving the position to Dole over Norm Coleman.

Superior messaging can cover a multitude of sins but strong candidates are needed against extremely vulnerable Democratic incumbents in WA, MI and other states if the Republican majority is to be expanded. We can only hope such murmurings will serve as motivation for the otherwise gifted Mrs. Dole.