Guest Post by TWN Reader Linda Z: Song of a More Purple Summer and Senate


purple states twn.jpg
This is a guest post by a long time reader of The Washington Note.
As a charter reader of TWN, I appreciate Steve’s allowing me to guest blog on this occasion, from way outside the Beltway in the US State of Georgia, about the importance of the Senate races in the coming election and particularly the one in Georgia.
Most of you around the country recall the ugly negative campaign against Max Cleland in 2002 that elected Saxby Chambliss. Cleland decided never to seek elective office again.

Jim Martin, the Democratic candidate, is an excellent choice: A native Georgian, educated in Atlanta public schools with undergrad and law degrees from UGA, a Vietnam veteran, father and grandfather, who served 18 years in the Georgia legislature and then served as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Resources under both Democratic and Republican governors. This is a very red state where Republicans control both houses of the state legislature, the governor’s office, both U.S. Senate seats, and a majority of the state’s congressional seats.
Chambliss is very well funded and did not have to spend on a primary and a primary runoff as Martin did. So if you live in Georgia, consider getting involved at the local level as I plan to do. And if you don’t live here and care about how Max Cleland was treated and want to help or learn more, go to
When I moved to Georgia from California three years ago, I promised myself and friends in big blue CA that I would work hard to make GA less red and more purple. It is important that the U.S. Senate have as large a Democratic majority as possible next year regardless of which candidate is elected President, perhaps more so if McCain is elected.
SCOTUS is important, but so are all the other federal judges in district and appeals courts who are appointed for life. Far too many of the district and appeals courts judges appointed and confirmed during the Bush administration were very poor choices. They all have lifetime appointments.
I care about civil rights, workers’ rights, equal pay for women, habeas corpus, treatment of detainees, our obligations under Geneva conventions and other international treaties, checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches of government about commitment of military force and other issues, the right to privacy, and a woman’s right to choose. So for me, this election is about the judges the next President will appoint and the composition of the Senate that will confirm them.
According to the latest information from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, two of the 12 Democratic Senate seats currently up for re-election are in play: Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey.
Of the 17 Republican Senators up for re-election, 8 seats are in play: Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, Norm Coleman in Minnesota, Susan Collins in Maine, Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Ted Stevens in Alaska, and John Sununu in New Hampshire. Of the 6 open seats, 4 are in play in Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Virginia.
“In play” is used very loosely here indeed. The Democrats are not going to win all these seats in the Senate.
Everyone who cares about these issues and does not plan to get involved in the Presidential race should consider helping (including those whose from other states whose Senators are not up for election or are in safe seats) or volunteering in Senate campaigns. I suggest this particularly to those who are for Obama but don’t like some of his recent shifts to the center; were for Clinton and plan to vote for Nader, McKinney, McCain or not vote for President; independents and Republicans for Obama.
There are ways you can participate in this election even if you are weary or wary of both major Presidential candidates.
I remind TWN readers that Steve Clemons is registered as an independent and has not favored either candidate in the Presidential election.
I am a lifelong Democrat who does occasionally vote for the better Republican. That surely is not McCain. Though I have been for Obama, I have firmly intended to vote for any Democrat nominated because I believe the most important consideration is nominations to the Supreme Court and other positions in the federal judiciary.
We can’t know what any candidate will do or how good he will be or not be until actually in office for a year or two–or if he will keep his campaign promises, pleasantly or unpleasantly surprise us, be greater or lesser than we anticipate, or confirm or contradict what we think we know of his character.
The choice is very clear between the two candidates for me because the longest legacy the next President will leave is his appointments to the federal judiciary.
— Linda Z.


10 comments on “Guest Post by TWN Reader Linda Z: Song of a More Purple Summer and Senate

  1. Kathleen says:

    Linda… Your’e right.. we should work for down ticket candidates… fortunately, I have a Congressman who is on board for impeachment hearings so I don’t have a moral dilemna


  2. Linda says:

    I wrote the blog a couple weeks ago and took the list they had up at the time on DNC sebsite; so I have no idea as I didn’t agree with all of it but surely was not following all the Senate races closely. Thanks for asking though as most of the commenters on TWN for the past week are engaged in VP second-guessing mania and ignoring more important topics here IMO. Everything so far is just qualifying rounds. The Olympics end on Sunday, and the campaign begins on Monday.


  3. seeker says:

    Why is Gorden Smith (R-OR) not included in your DSCC list. They have targeted him, too.j


  4. LInda says:

    I’m not at all confident that Martin will win, but in polling v. Chambliss since June, there is a steady trend downward for Chambliss and upward for Martin now with a difference of 6-7% between them, i.e., Chambliss at around 50% and Martin at 43-44%. But Democratic Party in GA has been in major rebuilding in all counties in the state starting way back last fall as there was no party orgnaization in many parts of the state. I don’t even plan to make contact with Martin campaign until after Labor Day–so I am only looking at and medis reports.
    Negative campaigns will work as long as people vote using their guts, hearts, prejudices, and hopes—and not their heads. I expect that to continue though I personally think it makes more sense to vote based on something more important and predictable–like SCOTUS appointments.
    Cleland wasn’t a great Senator, and surely Chambliss and Isaakson (put for re-election in 2010) aren’t either. Cleland will turn 68 on 8/24–so he may be a bit old for VP slot. He’d at least trump McCain on Vietnam war sacrifices.
    Since it’s truly silly season with McCain considering Lieberman for VP, my unconventional choice from GA for VP would be Ted Turner who is 68 years old, also resides in Montana and would help in western states, has business experience, big on environment and nuclear disarmament–and talks a whole lot straighter than MdCain.


  5. Carroll says:

    Good and reasonable post.
    Can’t help you in Georgia unfortunately.
    But hope NC can replace Liz Dole this time.


  6. Chris says:

    “Most of you around the country recall the ugly negative campaign against Max Cleland in 2002 that elected Saxby Chambliss. Cleland decided never to seek elective office again.”
    Strange how those ugly negative campaigns keep working, isn’t it?
    And as bad as I feel for Cleland and the unfairness of the campaign, every time I read about him or see him quoted anywhere, I can’t help but think, “God, I hope he’s not peddling the same ineffective, conciliatory, crappy advice that marked *his* campaign in 2002.”
    Because as much as “I was a POW” isn’t enough to qualify for the presidency, “I got my ass kicked by a GOP smear campaign” isn’t enough to qualify one as a political advisor: it depends on what you *learned* from it, and it depends on what you’ve *done* since then *with* what you’ve learned.


  7. Zathras says:

    To most people who actually vote in Georgia, the two least persuasive reasons to vote against Saxby Chambliss are appointments to the federal bench (about which more Georgians agree with Sen. Chambliss than not) and lingering bad feelings about Max Cleland’s treatment in the 2002 campaign (because Cleland was, frankly, an undistinguished Senator that most Georgians have forgotten about).
    Jim Martin is a stronger opponent than Georgia Democrats might have fielded in a less Democratic year, and Sen. Obama’s place at the top of the ticket should produce a spike in black voter turnout, which is the key for Democratic prospects in this state. However, if this year’s Presidential election is even competitive, Chambliss should be in good shape. There are just not that many reasons Republicans voting for Sen. McCain should not vote for Chambliss also, and unless the Presidential race becomes an Obama landslide McCain should carry Georgia easily.


  8. Kathleen says:

    What Repugs did to Max Cleland is the true measure of how they really feel about our troops and vets….cannon fodder…Good luck turning GA. purple….


  9. Mr.Murder says:

    Chambliss will leave when chooses, same for Susan Collins.
    Most of those people will retire when they want to, into the nether realm of lobbyists.
    I’m not entirely convinced Landrieu and Lautenberg aren’t GOPers already anyways. Why would they want to defeat them?
    It’s like running against John Kerry, the guy is more valuable in his place for the fact he hardens voters and can be thought of as polarizing.
    They either vote how you want them to already, so you don’t have to challenge them, or are more use to you in their place, for reverse spin traction.


  10. WigWag says:

    This is a great post. Congratulations, Linda!
    I would mention only two things: (1)Don’t worry about New Jersey. Senator Lautenberg doesn’t have a quality republican running against him. This one definitely stays in the D column; (2)Once you get rid of the deplorable Saxby Chambliss it’s time to start working on the equally deplorable Johnny Isakson. One of Isakson’s financial backers has been Rita Hauser; a wealthy republican turned Obama supporter who Steve likes. Maybe Steve can talk her into not being so generous with Isakson when he runs again (2011 I think).
    ps: With all the talk about potential Vice Presidents, why no one is talking about Max Cleland is beyond me. He is so extraordinary; so heroic and so stunningly good that even I would vote for Obama in a heart beat if he selected Cleland. Why no one mentions his name is beyond me.


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