Wednesday | February 26, 2003
Senate 2004: PA, MO, AZ
Thanks to the Political State Report, we are starting to get some indications of where things are headed in the 2004 Senate race. In particular, three GOP-held seats may be more exciting than anticipated.
In Arizona, McCain may may be facing a primary challenge:
For the first time today, second-term Congressman Jeff Flake indicated that he might challenge GOP Senator John McCain in the Republican senatorial primary in 2004. McCain has drifted steadily leftward in recent years on domestic policy issues. Though the senator remains popular with the Arizona electorate and the national media, a challenge by Flake would force McCain to address his "growth in office" on such issues as taxes, the environment, and campaign finance.David Dodenhoff, who penned the piece, speculates that Flake may get a cash infusion from the Club for Growth -- a rightwing group that funds primary challenges against perceived RINOs.
In PA, Sen. Arlen Specter will face a primary challenge from Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey. This is huge news, as a victory by the ultra-conservative Toomey would move PA into the top ranks of possible Dem pickups. The White House is clearly worried about the challenge, and has already dispatched Andrew Card to help shore up Specter's support. With some luck, this may be a reprise of the 2002 California GOP gubernatorial primary -- with an archconservative edging out a White House-backed moderate. Of course, Simon wasn't an incumbent, so the analogy is not exact. But you get the point.
And equally as exciting, early indications are that Missouri Senator Bond will not be running for re-election. Bond hasn't done any fundraising and is going around telling people he's tired. And given the MO GOP's strong showing in 2002, he may feel the seat is safe enough Republican to bow out. However, it would be interesting if Rove convinces him otherwise, especially if a strong Dem challenger emerges. (Perhaps someone with a bit more local insight can speculate?)
The Arizona primary challenge will have nothing more than entertainment value. But the situation in both PA and MO could prove advantageous to Dem chances in 2004.Posted February 26, 2003 03:49 PM | Comments (26)