Political Outlook 2008
Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), the latecomer to the race and the actor some felt could assume Ronald Reagan’s mantle, has failed to “wow,” and his approach has led to questions about whether he has the requisite “fire-in-the-belly” for the job.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, has staked claim the socially conservative mantle and showed well in an early Iowa straw poll. If one of the leaders falters, Huckabee, another son of Hope, Ark., could emerge.
Even though the political landscape appears to be less favorable to the Republicans, political pundits still expect the election to be close, with the biggest dynamic being a desire for change from Bush Administration policies. It is not a clear path to victory, however, when you consider that no Democrat has obtained more than 50 percent of the vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The U.S. Senate
Republicans are facing a decided disadvantage in the Senate races if for no other reason than numbers — 22 Republicans seats are up for election in 2008 while only 12 Democratic seats are in play. Four Republican senators have said they are not running for reelection: Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).
Both Virginia and Colorado are becoming bluer for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is Democratic governors and increasing numbers of registered Democrat voters.
Hagel is likely to be succeeded by former Republican Gov. and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in one of the most Republican states in the union.
The Senate race in New Mexico will be hard fought with the retirement of “Saint Pete” Domenici. Both GOP Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce are fighting for the Republican nomination. George Bush lost New Mexico by a slim margin in 2000 and won it by a slim margin in 2004. This race will be a hot one.
Other Republican Senate seats thought to be in jeopardy are Sen. John Sununu in New Hampshire, Sen. Susan Collins in Maine, Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, and veteran Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens, who is thought to be in jeopardy due to an FBI investigation and allegations that he took money for legislative favors.
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