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Sharp loans himself another bundle

Previously, we saw that Senate fundraising numbers for the third quarter were in. I noted that John Sharp reported raising $600,000, and I wondered if that was for real, or if once again he loaned himself a sizable chunk of that total. Though the FEC.gov page isn’t updated yet, I have my answer in the form of this PDF scan of Sharp’s toplines report, sent to me by the Bill White campaign. In it, you will see that as he did last quarter, Sharp loaned himself another $500,000, bringing the total amount of the money he’s loaned to his own campaign to $3.1 million. If we adjust the quarterly report to remove money loaned or self-donated to that candidate, the cumulative totals look like this:

Candidate Q3 raised Total raised ================================================ Bill White 1,100,000 5,500,000 Roger Williams 336,000 1,150,000 * Florence Shapiro 354,000 890,000 * Elizabeth Ames Jones 208,000 770,000 * John Sharp 100,000 670,000 Michael Williams 92,000 323,000

We don’t know yet how much, if any, money the candidates with asterisks have loaned themselves; Shapiro and Williams have done so before, Ames Jones has not. Looked at this way, White has still raised as much as everyone else put together. He’s in a different league than they are, and it’s no wonder the NRSC is freaking out over him. As for Sharp, he’s gotten some nice endorsements lately, but that hasn’t helped him raise any money. He said in the beginning, after he wrote that first $2.1 million check to himself, that he couldn’t self-finance this race. Something’s gotta give here.

Big John versus El Rushbo and The Newt

There’s just not enough popcorn in the world.

As if to magnify what are already major differences between elected Republicans and conservative activists on the question of Sonia Sotomayor, check out what conservative senator (and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Judiciary Comittee member and former Texas State Supreme Court Justice) had to say on NPR yesterday.

“I think it’s terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent.”

Republican leaders may not have as much sway over their own interest groups as Democratic leaders do over their, so don’t expect the attacks to stop. But it’s a bold statement. He even lashed out at Newt Gingrich and the unassailable Rush Limbaugh.

“Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials [and] I just don’t think it’s appropriate and I certainly don’t endorse it. I think it’s wrong.”

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Of course, any time a Republican official says anything unflattering about Rush, it’s worth asking a couple questions: Will he apologize for it? And how long will he wait?

You know you’ve gone completely round the bend when Big John tells you to dial it down a bit. Not that it matters, as neither Newtie nor the Round Mound of Sound is backing off. Oh, and now the DCCC is joining in the fun by calling out Rep. Pete Sessions, who as Cornyn’s counterpart in Congress has been silent so far. Who needs summer movies when you have this kind of entertainment?

UPDATE: Forgot to add that there’s video of Big John taking on his foes. And as we know, the Rushmeister was in town last night. Here’s a photo of him and some of his fanboys from that event. BOR has more.

Cornymandias

Look on his works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is threatening “World War III” if Democrats try to seat Al Franken in the Senate before Norm Coleman can pursue his case through the federal courts.

Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, acknowledges that a federal challenge to November’s elections could take “years” to resolve. But he’s adamant that Coleman deserves that chance — even if it means Minnesota is short a senator for the duration.

This comes at the same time as Cornyn’s demand for a complete change in the district court nominations process to suit his whims. I just have one question about this: When exactly did the chairmanship of the NRSC become such a powerful position? I mean, who knew so much hung on his re-election last year?

Kay and Rick on the money

Well, there was never any doubt that they’d be swimming in cash.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison moved nearly $8 million into her state campaign finance account last year — a high-stakes signal that she is committed to running for Texas governor in 2010.

In December she transferred most of that money from her U.S. Senate campaign account, according to campaign finance reports released Thursday. She started the year with $7.9 million in the bank.

Gov. Rick Perry, who intends to seek re-election, will prove a formidable foe with $6.6 million in the bank so far, according to the reports. A political battle between the two could cost each of them more than $20 million.

Remember how many ads there were on the TV this past fall, even though the Presidential campaigns didn’t do much? We got off way easy compared to what this might be. Be prepared to be very sick of this in another year or so.

So does this mean that KBH is for sure running for Governor? She thinks she is, and I think she is, too. But I still think you never really know with her, and you won’t know for sure till she files for the primary. And even if she does run, it still doesn’t mean she’ll resign from the Senate first. Go read that Politico article again and see just how much KBH and her decision are in the spotlight. If it were just a matter of her winning next November, that would be one thing. But she has to win a Republican primary first, and I don’t see how she can afford to give Rick Perry that kind of ammunition to use against her. I just cannot imagine her resigning any time before March of 2010, if at all.

Which brings us to the eventual election, special or otherwise, to fill her seat. This bit from that Politico story is worth considering:

If Hutchison gives up her seat, national Republicans would likely move quickly to recruit their candidate and help raise money to ensure the seat stays in the party’s hands. But doing that would divert precious resources that would otherwise be used to help the party recover from two disastrous elections and defend four open seats in 2010.

“It’s more than a casual interest that we at least maintain 41 senators,” said Texas’ junior senator, John Cornyn, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He told reporters Wednesday that Hutchison might not resign if she pursues her governor’s bid.

Hutchison’s resignation likely would set off a primary battle between state and congressional lawmakers and state officials, according to local political operatives. A couple of prominent GOP names have also recently bubbled up as potential Hutchison successors, including state Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

And even though Democrats would have a tough climb to win the Senate seat, some already have their eyes on it, including Houston Mayor Bill White. The national party would undoubtedly put a huge amount of resources into the race if winning it would get Senate Democrats to the magic number of 60.

The prospect of national money changes things in a couple of ways. For one, I think it renders the Rick Casey scenario essentially moot. If the election were this May, with the current field of Bill White, John Sharp, Roger Williams, Michael Williams, Florence Shapiro, and Elizabeth Ames Jones, I could imagine the two Dems splitting 45% and the four GOPers splitting the rest, with none of them breaking 20% and thus yielding an all-Dem runoff. That’s because none of the GOPers has a particularly high profile, so none of them would be likely to break away from the pack. A few million dollars, plus some big endorsements and whatever help the NRSC – conveniently chaired by Texas’ junior Senator – can offer goes a long way towards distinguishing one of these contenders. Under those conditions, I can’t imagine whichever one of them drew the golden ticket would not do far better than 20%; he or she would probably lead the field, and then win the runoff comfortably.

It gets a bit more complicated if a Dewhurst or an Abbott, both of whom have statewide profiles as well as a boatload of their own money, jumps in. Most likely, either one of them gets in because he’s the chosen one, or they both stay out because it’s made clear to them that they’re not. Dewhurst could still run anyway if he got piqued about it, but I wouldn’t expect that. Bottom line is that someone on the Republican side is going to have a ton of resources available. That person will be a huge favorite to win. We can spin theories and possibilities and what-ifs all we want, but that strikes me as the most probably outcome.

So given that one Republican contender will almost surely have the near-full force of the national and state parties behind him or her, doesn’t this change the math for the two Democrats? For one thing, we come back to the same question we started off with, which is how do you win the inevitable runoff? I seriously doubt either of them has an answer to that question right now. Sure, the national Dems will be there to help as well, but in a war of statewide turnout with a motivated Republican electorate, how do you win? I don’t have an answer for that, either.

Which brings me back to the question I keep asking: Why not try for Governor instead? KBH hasn’t won that primary against Rick Perry yet. She may stay in her seat through November of 2010 – or at least through September of 2010, which would be good enough for special election purposes – which would give you a second bite at the statewide apple if she beats both Perry and you. The national GOP isn’t going to care about that race. The issues won’t get tied up nearly as much in the state of the nation and the Obama administration, so you’ll have hopes for crossovers. Just based on the non-trivial chance that Perry takes the primary, I don’t see how this race doesn’t offer better odds of a Democrat winning. And yet here we are. It’s still a little too early to be officially worried about 2010, but it’s certainly not irrational to be.

Waiting for KBH, the saga continues

Could someone please inform Brownsox that while it is certainly possible that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison may resign this year and thus set up a special election for her seat in May of 2010, it’s rather an overbid to say that she is “expected” to do so? Some of us think she’ll stick it out in DC a lot longer than that, and some of her Republican colleagues would prefer she make that choice as well. For sure, we could be wrong about this. Nobody really knows with Kay – that’s my point. It would be nice if the national guys could broaden their perspectives a bit on this.

And then, of course, there’s this.

Gov. Rick Perry expressed doubts Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will enter the 2010 Republican primary race against him and said Texans want a leader like him with “big ideas.”

Perry, after addressing lawmakers on opening day of the Texas Legislature, talked about his record as governor and his ideas for the future in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. The state’s longest-serving governor, Perry said he wants to run next year for a third full term in office.

Hutchison has formed an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2010.

Perry noted that she hasn’t formally jumped into the race and, when asked whether he has doubts that she will, Perry said: “Oh yeah. I mean, there’s plenty of time for the senator to think that it’s not in her best interest, Texas’ best interest or the country’s best interest to leave the United States Senate and come run for governor. But that’s, again, that’s her call.

“I’m running,” Perry added. “I’ve announced, I’m in, I’m here and I’m enjoying continuing to move Texas forward.”

God help us all. This is all mind games, of course, and for all we know this time it will have the opposite effect. Some of Perry’s own supporters have already jumped ship on him in favor of the promise of KBH. The point remains, however, that she has a track record of waffling on what she wants to be when she grows up. I don’t expect anything from her but uncertainty right up until the very end.

UPDATE: As if I needed more data:

At the Capitol on Wednesday, Hutchison told Politico that she’s going to “stay here this year regardless.” She subsequently equivocated a bit, saying she still could resign very late this year — or “stay for two years.”

But even waiting until late this year could be a big help to the GOP. Under Texas law, Gov. Rick Perry — a Republican — would appoint a short-term replacement for Hutchison. A special election would likely be held in November 2009 if Hutchison resigns before Sept. 28. If she resigns later in the year, the special election wouldn’t be held until May 2010.

[…]

Hutchison, who plans to run for governor in 2010, has been under pressure from Republican colleagues to stay in her Senate seat as long as she can.

“She’s a great lady, and I don’t blame her if she wants to run for governor, but the fact is we’d like her not to,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). “We’d like her to stay right here.”

Added a senior GOP aide: “I cannot imagine that … Sen. Hutchison would abandon her seat to pursue her own ambitions and even risk giving Democrats a supermajority in the Senate.”

The more I think about it, the more likely I believe she is to remain in office through at least 2010. You think her junior colleague, the chair of the NRSC, who’s already dealing with three open seats in swing states created by retirements, with more perhaps to come, might beseech her to keep her butt in place a little while longer? Yeah, me too.