Thursday, September 20, 2007

Things looking brighter in Nebraska

While we face an uphill battle to unseat Sen. Baucus here in Montana, there are interesting races in nearby states.

With Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns turning in his resignation to Pres. Bush and returning to Nebraska to launch his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Hagel, things are looking good for the GOP in that key race.

The overall picture looks grim for the GOP in the U.S. Senate, with the goal being to keep the Dems from running the table in a second straight election to get a filibuster-proof majority.

A former governor, Johanns has the name recognition and popularity to do well. Furthermore, since Hagel was one of the less reliably conservative votes for the GOP in the Senate (certainly the least reliably conservative of any Senator from a conservative state in the heartland,) replacing Hagel with Johanns would strengthen the caucus.

He faces a likely primary challenge, and there is talk of former Sen. Bob Kerrey coming out of retirement to take him on, but given that Kerrey has been doing the east-coast liberal thing for quite some time, the advantage would still be to Johanns in the race.

There is a nationwide problem with recruiting quality, competitive candidates on the GOP side, with those candidates in general tending to take a pass on 2008, given how bad things look for us. That pessimism is a bit over-done, in our opinion, since an upswing has to start at some point, and there is no reason why it is inevitable that the GOP is starting a long-term down-swing.

But in Nebraska, anyway, there is a bit of positive news. Barring anything unexpected, that is -- which for the GOP these days is almost something we need to steel ourselves for every time we think things couldn't get any worse.

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