A video recap here of the Bob Schaffer saga, as reported by Veracifier and Talking Points Memo, with a bit of refresher on the Marinas Islands labor situation, provided by a Bill Moyers documentary from 2006.
The blowup over Schaffer’s dubious 1999, Jack Abramoff-funded trip to the islands, and his subsequent dubious handling of its fallout on the ’08 campaign trail, have been watched with much glee by national Democrats who see retiring Wayne Allard’s senate seat as a key pickup in their quest for the ever-elusive 60-seat majority. With 60 blue chairs, Dems can block filibusters and swing a big stick on Capitol Hill. The last time they had such power was from 1977-79 with 61 seats and Jimmy Carter in the White House.
The prospect of moving the open CO seat from “contested” to “in the bag” is a tempting proposition for Dems. In all, they have 12 seats to defend in ’08, and most are secure. Republicans have almost twice as many, 21, and have definite weaknesses in New Hampshire (Sen. John Sununu is down 14-20 points to challenger Jeanne Shaheen, former NH governor, in some polls), Alaska (84-year-old, corruption-investigation-plagued incumbent Ted Stevens edging Anchorage mayor Mark Begich 46-45 percent in a recent Rasmussen Report poll) and Minnesota (Sen. Norm Coleman battling within the polling margin of error with Saturday Night Live alum and Air America gabber Al Franken). Retiring Republicans also have left vulnerable seats in New Mexico and Virginia.
With recent polls showing John McCain holding national leads over squabbling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a strong Congress might be the last Democratic bulwark for any nastiness come November. 2004 was supposed to be the year Colorado went from purple to outright blue, but 2008 yields another chance to elect a Democratic president and another senator, rounding out the state’s “big four” (two senators, governor and vote for president) without a hint of red.
-- Joe Horton