ENPR -- McCain's Libertarian Problem and Evangelical Problem
Posted 06/18/2008 ET
Updated 06/18/2008 ET
Conservative Dissent: McCain's biggest problem continues to be his trouble with the conservative base.
Obama: Obama's honeymoon is already ending, and the general election is beginning.
New Mexico: The retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici (R) because of degenerative brain disease looks likely to give another Senate seat to Democrats. Rep. Tom Udall (D), who represents Santa Fe and the Northern half of the state, is the strong favorite over Rep. Steve Pearce (R) from the Southern half of the state. Pearce edged out Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in the primary June 4.
Udall has a huge cash advantage, stemming from his uncontested primary and an energized nationwide fundraising Democratic base. As of May 14, Udall had raised $3.2 million and had $2.9 million on hand. Pearce had raised $1.9 million, but he spent almost all of it on his competitive primary.
Udall is a well-known and well-liked politician who taps perfectly into the environmentalist zeitgeist of the state. His liberal base is large and energetic while Pearce's conservative base is much smaller. Bush hangs like a rain cloud over the GOP here, and McCain might not bring any coattails.
It's believable then when one New Mexico Republican tells us of a poll showing Udall up by 31 points.
Pearce will distance himself from the White House and work hard for Wilson's moderate backers, and Republicans will beat up Udall to knock him down a peg. Still, it's hard to see how Pearce wins without a major scandal that brings down Udall. Likely Democratic Takeover.
New Mexico-1: This could be a very bad year for Republicans in New Mexico. Together with the likely loss of the U.S. Senate seat, both GOP-held house seats are in danger.
In the Albuquerque seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Heather Wilson (R), Republicans have the benefit of a strong candidate in Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (R), but they have the disadvantage of demography and a bad political environment. Democrats have nominated Albuquerque City Councilman Martin Heinrich (D).
White has strong name recognition, as the district is nearly co-extensive with Bernalillo County. He has the right pedigree, too: He's an elected sheriff (which means his record is helpfully thin on policy issues), he served in the state law enforcement agency, he worked as a TV news reporter, and he has been involved in campaigns before. His weakness is his connection to the President: Bush held a fundraiser for him recently, and White was Bush's campaign chairman for the county in 2004.
Heinrich is a liberal city councilman, which means he (1) is not well known, but (2) has a voting record. Both facts are damaging. He has strong support among the local party, the unions, and the liberal environmentalists.
Considering only the candidates, White has the edge, but the political landscape seriously favors Heinrich. Bush's name and the GOP brand are dirt in New Mexico. Tom Udall is likely to dominate the Senate race. In Albuquerque at least, Obama enthusiasm could drive up Democratic turnout, while luke- warmness about McCain could suppress GOP turnout. Domenici won't be able to help White, while Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) could be on hand to boost all of the Democratic candidates.
Because we expect a strong Democratic tide, White's strengths look likely to be wiped out by a Democratic surge. Leaning Democratic Takeover.
New Mexico-2: This is the "Republican district" in New Mexico, but it could be represented by a Democrat next year. In 2004, Bush took 58 percent of this district, which covers the Southern half of the state, but the GOP might have nominated the wrong candidate.
Chain-restaurateur Ed Tinsley (R) doesn't live in the district. Instead, he hails from the wealthy, artsy Las Campanas community in Santa Fe, which is in the 3rd District. The Democratic nominee, Harry Teague (D) is an oilman and former county commissioner from Lea County, in the Texas part of the state.
Teague is as conservative as Tinsley, and he will ruthlessly use the carpetbagger attack against him. The GOP strength of this district should push Tinsley over the top, but the party is still slightly fractured after the tough primary. Leaning Republican Retention.
New Mexico-3: Like Districts 1 and 2, the Santa Fe-based 3rd District has an open-seat contest this year. Unlike those two GOP-held seats, this one is not competitive. Ben Lujan (D), son of the State House Speaker, is the Democratic nominee. He's not a particularly impressive candidate, but this is a Democratic district, and Lujan will have the state party leadership firmly behind him. Republicans nominated contractor Dan East (R), who doesn't have much of a chance. Likely Democratic Retention.
Maryland-4: Liberal activist Donna Edwards (D) thrashed Ron Paul activist Peter James (R) by 60 points in the special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Albert Wynn (D). Wynn decided to resign after Edwards defeated him the February primary in this majority-black, overwhelmingly Democratic district in the D.C. suburbs. Edwards is nearly a shoo-in to win a full term in the November general election.
For the first time since Rep. Charlie Norwood's (R-Ga.) death on February 13, 2007, there are no House vacancies or pending vacancies. The Democratic majority now stands at 236-199 after having picked up three seats in special elections this past spring.