Mississippi and Nebraska Dems aim red state Senate seats

In what has been the most unpredictable Senate race of the 2008 cycle, the Mississippi seat left open by Trent Lott's stunning December resignation has just had one more development. Former Democratic Rep. Ronnie Shows announced yesterday that he was dropping out of the race, endorsing fellow candidate Ronnie Musgrove, the state's former Governor.

Hurt by the state Supreme Court's decision to side with Gov. Barbour and allow the special election to be held as late as November, Democrats had lost some of their confidence in their ability to pick up this seat. The recently appointed incumbent, Sen. Wicker, now has many months to build up an incumbency advantage and raise money in D.C., giving him an advantage he would not have had if the election was held in March as it was supposed to for a while.

But Shows's withdrawal from the race gives them some cause for relief, and serves as a reminder that Democrats are determined to make this race competitive. The Mississippi race is a special election, which means that it does not have a primary but a runoff-system: All candidates from any party will be on the same ballot and the top two will go to a runoff if no one gets 50%. In other words, the division of the Democratic vote between Musgrove and Snows would have made it very impossible for a Democrat to win on November 4th and would have allowed Wicker to coast to 50% by making Musgrove and Shows take aim at each other (this is what happened in the Lousiana 2004 Senate race, for example).

With Shows out, the race is a one-on-one contest with no obvious favorite. While Wicker should be given an edge as the Republican incumbent in a very red state and in a presidential year, two polls taken earlier this year show that Musgrove will be very competitive (one of the survey has him ahead) and will now be able to fully campaign against the incumbent instead of worrying about Shows. This is not at the top of Democratic chances, but the DSCC is committed to expanding the map and they have plenty of money to spend, so expect the party to make a major play here.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Democrats finally got a candidate in their state's open seat. Once upon a time this race looked to be one of the DSCC's best pick-up opportunity, but that was before former Senator Bob Kerrey and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey announced they would not run. After that, most of the speculation concentrated on Scott Kleeb, the Democratic candidate in NE-03 in 2006. NE-03 is the sixth most Republican district in the country, but Kleeb got a stunning 45% of the vote after running a surprisingly competitive campaign.

Now, Kleeb looks ready to announce his candidacy for the Senate. But this time he is running a statewide campaign against a very popular Republican, former Governor Johanns, who starts off the race very heavily favored.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home