October 4, 2007

Domenici's Departure

The Republicans have another open seat to defend in 2008, according to Chris Cillizza at The Fix and The Hill. Pete Domenici, whose tenure has recently been marred by his reported involvement in the termination of US Attorney David Yglesias, has decided not to run for re-election. The somewhat surprising decision leaves another opportunity for a Democratic pickup next year -- and a possible change in the presidential race:

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is expected to announce Thursday that he will not run for a seventh term in 2008, according to sources close to Domenici’s office.

Domenici’s retirement would make him the fourth Republican senator to bow out this cycle, joining Sens. Wayne Allard (Colo.), John Warner (Va.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.). Competitive races in those seats are likely, and New Mexico should be no different.

Domenici’s retirement also would open up a Pandora’s Box in the state’s congressional delegation, as all three of its House members are considered potential candidates for his seat: Reps. Heather Wilson (R), Steve Pearce (R) and Tom Udall (D).

Given Wilson's involvement in the same issue, Pearce looks like the most likely candidate for Domenici's seat. That would be good news for porkbusting. Pearce scored an 82% on the Club for Growth RePork Card, voting for 41 out of 50 prok-barrel reform bills in Congress this year. That puts him at #55 out of 435 members. Wilson, on the other hand, finished with dismal 10%, having only supported 5 out of 50 reform efforts. Their Poole rankings are almost identical.

Either may have a tough time, although probably not against Udall, whose own Poole rank shows him leaning towards the liberal end of the Democratic caucus, 99th most liberal in a caucus of 229. The real danger for Republicans comes from Bill Richardson, the current and popular Governor and a candidate for the Presidency. If Richardson chose to run for Domenici's seat, he'd have a good chance of winning it and giving the Democrats a takeaway in 2008.

Would he drop his bid for the presidency to do it? He certainly hasn't made much headway. Ron Paul outraised him in the third quarter, and Hillary just drew in $27 million, far exceeding any of her rivals. She has now started to gain a majority in polling among Democratic voters, and she can probably start working on her general election strategies.

The only reason Richardson might stay in the race for the presidential nomination would be to gain a spot at the bottom of the ticket. Not too many people aspire to be Vice President, but a victory on a Hillary ticket would put him in good position for a later run at the top spot. If he bails out in favor of the Senate race, and Hillary wins, he'd have to run as a semi-outsider in 2016 against Hillary's VP, even if she lost re-election in 2012.

Expect Democrats to start urging Richardson to switch races. If he does, the Republicans have a huge problem in New Mexico, and they gain nothing in the general presidential election.


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Comments (20)

Posted by daytrader | October 4, 2007 11:25 AM


It is kind of disturbing that a lot of the left blogs are also promoting the cause for Richardson to do the switch.

Posted by Jaded | October 4, 2007 11:36 AM

There is also word of General Peter Pace running for Warner's seat in VA. I am glad these old R's with socially liberal ideas "compassionate conservatives" are retiring. Lets get some real old school conservatives who will cut taxes and not give away America to foreign nations and their nationals.

Posted by filistro | October 4, 2007 11:56 AM

Almost completely off topic, but too funny not to share immediately:

"Rudy's outreach to religious voters"


Posted by rbj | October 4, 2007 12:08 PM

It would be real nice if we could get about 90% of the Senate to retire.

Posted by Otter | October 4, 2007 12:09 PM

For it to be funny, filistro, it needs to have some Truth behind it.

And yes, that is off topic. Captain, I think you meant to say 'party' rather than 'race.'

Posted by Ol Roy | October 4, 2007 12:18 PM

Funny that people keep mentioning the "Pete got David Iglesias fired" thing but not the details of what has come after. After the largest voter registration fraud case in US history in King county, Washington - the same outfit has not even been looked into in New Mexico. That was one of the things Pete asked about. No follow-up from David Iglesias. Nearly two years later those voter registration records are missing, along with some election records and a few million dollars, from our Secretary of State's office. Further than that, the main corruption case that Iglesias botched has continued at the state level where most of the players have plead out to save their skins.
Many of the would-be candidates know this very very well. And most of the would-be democrat candidates are part of the whole bastard patch of players involved in not following up on the State Treasury, and the Secretary of State, and the Courthouse kickback scandals. The media here has done an excellent job of not pointing any of this out, yet investigations continue and information about the extent of the corruption can only be kept secret for so long.

Posted by filistro | October 4, 2007 12:19 PM

Okay, Otter. Please don't spit at me again. I can easily wrestle my catoon back on topic if it offends you.


With the resignation of Domenici, the Senate is even more in peril. In fact a Dem super-majority is looming ominously on the horizon... which makes it even more imperative to get a Republican presidential candidate with coattails.

Rudy not only doesn't have coattails (though he occasionally wears a glamorous long train with his dresses)... The religious right announced just this morning that they will definitely support a third-party cadidate if he's elected.

See? All tied up neatly together :-)

Posted by Kevin | October 4, 2007 12:40 PM

filistro says:

"Rudy not only doesn't have coattails (though he occasionally wears a glamorous long train with his dresses)... The religious right announced just this morning that they will definitely support a third-party cadidate if he's elected.

See? All tied up neatly together :-)"

The religious right? Is that a political party? An organized voting bloc? Who specifically announced that? Can I now say "the aetheist left announced"...?

Posted by Carol Herman | October 4, 2007 12:41 PM

Wonder if 2000 holds any lessons, here?

How so?

Well, Senator Lieberman, invited to to appear as Gore-bot's running mate; decided, since he was also up for election as Senator from Connecticut ... that his best bet would be to keep his name posted in two places.

Didn't seem that Lieberman had Bob Dole's confidence in giving up one job, as he tried to accomplish a win on the white house ticket.

That's just the way it went.

Richardson probably wants to be PRESIDENT. Not a vice. Let alone a vice to hillary's big fat hips.

What are hillary's chances at winning?

And, if she ends up having to slug it out with some other front runner; I doubt it's Obama who gets to "defend." But somebody else.

Kerrey? Could be. But he has no use for Richardson as his veep. He'd need a bigger ticketed State than New Mexico.

Richardson, himself? Well, that could happen.

As to Dominici? Ya know, I have my doubts that losing "old timers" is such a bad thing. For one reason most people are pretty sick and tired of the senate rules that give the guys who prefer PROM DRESSES, front row seating.

At some point ahead, after push and shove, we should see other types of talents emerging.

What would it look like?

Well, it would be the END of the waltzing around. Partners bowing to each other; and then, turning round and round. To something more like the "twist." Where what happens is that ELBOWS and arms akimbo ... people are gonna be battling it out for foot space. And, the rules can under a "changing." From what we're taking for granted, now, in the swamp.

And, what can emerge FROM the swamp? Would it have to be reptilian? WHY?

The least likely crowd to do well will be those who belong to the affirmative action UNION. Their days are just numbered. Like vaudevillians of old, a lot of the Bonkeys are going on stage, to find that the crowds are disappearing. Sure. The money rolls in! Tickets bought by the Soddies, and George Soros. (So, even there, you have competing interests.)

And, the backstage antics are full of pushing and shoving. Ain't a smooth journey; where the talent on top gets all that much respect.

In sales, it's much harder to convince someone whose already said NO, to change their minds. Let alone you don't have a pundit class, anymore, that can call any tunes from their pulpits.

Posted by Teresa | October 4, 2007 12:47 PM

I hope Richardson goes back to NM and runs for the Senate. As a Dem, I've been really disappointed with his run for the presidency. His bumbling performances in the debate have nixed his chances for the VP slot I think. He might actually have enough good will in NM to win there.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 4, 2007 12:54 PM

Oh, Kevin, as a kid, growing up in New York City, my parents always took me with them, when they went to vote. (And, those Tuesdays used to be holidays from school.)

I learned very early that the ballot (New York City had these booths with "computerized" levers ... when it was "hand-done." You could pick a column with the top lever ... Or you could read through all the choices. Picking candidates one by one.)

And, there were at least TEN ROWS!

In other words, we talk about a two-party system. But voters have always seen more parties than just Republicans and Demorats. Independents. And, Greens. Liberals, socialists and commies.

Sometimes, a candidate would get endorsed by a group outside of the Bonkey box. So you could choose ... often the guy who was gonna lose ... by picking a candidate's name from another column.

For this reason, the religious right's dogmatic desires to pick a "saint" ... will probably produce a choice in that department, too. Hardly likely to hit 2%.

Of course, what gave Ross Perot his edge was a hatred that seemed to run deep, against the elder Bush. Clinton? He was just a guy from Arkansas. Whom little was really known about. (Don't forget Hillary sat on the bimbo eruptions.)

Today? I think the front runners will be well known. And, both conventions may not be "smooth" operations, ahead? Because, those inside the "tents" are there because they're lives depend on the political outcomes.

Yeah. That means there are conservatives who have involved themselves into politics. And, to galvanize their troops they need to get some sort of traction. Where Fred Thompson said "he won't dance to their tunes."

Reminds me of Lincoln's approach to the 1860 nomination. Contentious times, then, too.

You can go in NOT as a frontrunner. But after the "favorite sons" run their course, there's the reality that lots of Americans are really angry at BOTH parties!

And, where the Bush dynasty pretty much sucked the life-blood out of the old primary system. And, where the young John Kennedy met the Kennedy Curse fate ... You're left with a lot of dogs ... barking the nights away.

But that doesn't bring ya to the place where the MAINSTREAM makes all the difference.

Oh, here's another political lesson. In 1948, the GOP went deaf against it's best bet: General Douglas MacArthur. Picking the turkey Tom Dewey, instead.

The wrong pick just encourages LOSS.

While the threats that an Independent "oould win" remains strong.

NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK AT REASONING WITH INSIDERS; who've been known to work with Abramoff. Or anyone else with MONEY. Of course, this changes, when the dirty hands of the purveyors of money, meet American WRATH.

Posted by syn | October 4, 2007 2:09 PM

I doubt Richardson is willing to give up his standing in Clinton's entourage to become a Senator from NM. He's wants the big money, the Hollywood parties and a reason to write his life story when he nears retirement; only Clinton can give him these things.

Posted by skeptical | October 4, 2007 2:59 PM

Not just, got Yglesias fired; interfered with an ongoing federal investigation. The one isn't illegal, the other is.

This must not have been playing well in NM; the guy's got his thumb on every federal dime that flows into the state. He didn't need to go out on a sour note if he didn't want to.

I thought Richardson was running for Secretary of State.

Posted by iowavette | October 4, 2007 3:29 PM

Nobody around these parts ever mistook Hagel for a Republican. The real bad news is that Bob Kerrey is sniffing around. Even a pathetic, lame duck gubernatorial performance after Debra Winger broke his heart, didn't dampen his popularity.

Posted by patrick neid | October 4, 2007 7:50 PM

as a fall back Richardson could finally play professional baseball! Or climb Everest with Hillary after her namesake.

Posted by patrick neid | October 4, 2007 8:02 PM

On a serious note, without a miracle, the repubs are in serious trouble in both houses of congress. It's irrelevant who retires. That's a smokescreen for the real damage the repubs did over the years when they violated one of their two main reasons for existence--fiscal restraint and tax relief.

You can piss in the wind all you want thinking it's the war, immigration etc but it was runaway spending that gutted the repub mandate. The "bridge to nowhere" actually led to the outhouse. The repubs will get back the houses only after the dems exceed the wanton disregard for finances that the repubs showed. Admittedly the dems are making great strides but 08 is too early.

The repubs still have a puncher's chance at the White House so all is not lost.

Posted by flenser | October 4, 2007 8:14 PM

You can piss in the wind all you want thinking it's the war, immigration etc but it was runaway spending that gutted the repub mandate.

It was a combination of things. The party seemingly decided to identify every important constituiency which supported it, and then spat in their eyes.

This party has a death wish.

Posted by JRB | October 4, 2007 9:35 PM

New Mexico resident here. I've been expecting this since I saw Pete up close a couple of weeks ago. He came to the dedication of the new building I'm working in.

TV reports don't show how very frail he is. I had to cut through the building to avoid his entourage because he was just creeping along.

Frankly, I'll be a bit surprised if he survives this term, let alone another six years. There's just no way he could have campaigned, given the state of his health. I don't begrudge him some quality time with his family, assuming he can live long enough to enjoy it.

Posted by poodlemom | October 4, 2007 10:05 PM

Brit Hume reported that Domenici is suffering from a "brain ailment". No specifics were given.

Posted by Ol Roy | October 4, 2007 10:11 PM

Interesting how your (skeptical) accusations of "impeding an investigation" are somehow transmuted into guilty of impeding an investigation. Of course you do have the "proof" from a NY Times, the W. Post or other crack investigative journalism outfit? The truth is that even the democrats in congress have not accused Pete of obstruction, but only have accused him of breaking senate ethics rules. Nor has anyone else accused him of obstruction. So somehow Pete is accused, tried and convited of obstruction in the media and your (skeptical) mind, yet the only thing he has actually been accused of is an ethics violation?

Do we apply the same standard to Chuckie Schumer, Waxman, Boxer, Biden, etc. etc. etc. etc. for interfering, steering, facilitating and blatantly cheering the Plame investigation on in letters, television, radio, and newspapers? You remember Plame? The lady that had to testify in congress on April 16 of this year that the Inteligence Identities Protection Act didn't apply to her, after previously telling congress that it did, and that she was 'covert'?

So the deal is that if you are a long term Republican Senator, you can't disagree with an under-performing US Attorney's recollection of conversations, but if you are democrat you can take an active, very well documented and public part, in an active and very public federal investigation?

As for not playing well in New Mexico and the finger in every dime....what the hell are you talking about? I suppose that no other senior Senator, and especially no other senior Democrat Senator, controls any pork in any part of the Federal budget? Please think and read more.
The guy (Pete) isn't going to run because he is ill. Not because he couldn't win the race. It's not a shoe-in anymore, but he likely could win by several percent.

Do you get it? When you can't and shouldn't continue at being a public servant, you don't. It's the responsible thing to do. Something Kennedy and at least a few others on both sides of the aisle should have done long ago.

Oh, by the way, during the Pete "interfered" with an investigation Democrat publicity routine this spring, did any of you people outside New Mexico notice that the NM Attorney General, Patricia Madrid, was running for congress against the other supposed "interfering republican" Heather Wilson? And that Madrid couldn't be bothered to follow up on the largest scandal in our backwards little state's history? No conflict there?? The AG in charge of protecting the state's citizens from corruption.....didn't have the time.

And that Yglesias-Y-Bovoso couldn't win the easiest corruption conviction a US attorney could ask for, competing against a collections attorney who didn't even present a defense for his defendant? No defense? That's right. You don't have to defend corruption here. It's our birthright as New Mexicans. You just have to get one lifetime Highway Dept. employee on the jury and you can get any democrat off on any charge you want.

The crime is that more of our Senators and Reps haven't been asking about our state's corruption all along. Our state isn't about to clean itself up.

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