Running & running away

National | Here's a state-by-state look at the parties' recruiting victories-plus some of the big fish that got away ...

Issue: "View from the Axis," March 9, 2002

South Dakota: President Bush put his own reputation on the line in publicly courting the state's lone congressman, John Thune, to take on freshman Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. Thanks to his statewide base, Mr. Thune is an automatic heavyweight. Furthermore, he can count on plenty of help from a White House eager to embarrass South Dakota's other senator, Tom Daschle. Georgia: Elected by just a 1 percent margin in 1992, Sen. Max Cleland, a Democrat, was bound to draw a stiff challenge this year. State Rep. Bob Irvin announced early, but the national GOP wanted a bigger name. In Rep. Saxby Chambliss, they found a well-known lawmaker with proven fundraising ability. New Jersey: Incumbent Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli suffers from low approval ratings and an ethics investigation, yet the GOP has yet to field a challenger. Former Whitewater prosecutor Robert Wray may take the plunge (see p. 8). But former Rep. Bob Franks, after months of laying the groundwork for a Senate bid, bowed to pressure from the liberal Republican establishment and challenged Bret Schundler in the gubernatorial primary, instead. Mr. Franks lost the primary, Mr. Schundler lost the general election, and other Republicans in New Jersey-most notably publishing magnate Steve Forbes-seem to have lost interest in attempting to put their party back together again. Montana: After winning in 1996 with just 50 percent of the vote, Democratic Sen. Max Baucus looks vulnerable on paper. But the GOP's first choice of a challenger, popular Gov. Mark Racicot, said no thanks, leaving state Sen. Mike Taylor to try and make up for a big deficit in name recognition. Kansas: Dan Glickman, a former Democratic congressman and secretary of agriculture under President Clinton, looked like a tough challenger to first-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. But despite DSCC polls showing Mr. Roberts as "shockingly weak," Mr. Glickman declined to make a run. Democrats, thus far, have been unable to come up with a Plan B. Virginia: After an unknown Mark Warner came from nowhere six years ago to give Republican Sen. John Warner the scare of his political life, pundits thought the senior senator would be vulnerable in 2002. Democrats focused on retired Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the Army's highest-ranking female officer in history. But she bowed out of the race shortly after 9/11, and once again, Democrats have yet to find a replacement. New Hampshire: After more than six months of playing coy, Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen announced on Feb. 6 that she'll run for a Senate seat-though she doesn't know who her opponent will be. Bob Smith, the incumbent Republican, angered many when he briefly and bitterly abandoned the party in 1999 to run for president. Much of the state GOP establishment is backing Rep. John E. Sununu, who currently leads Mr. Smith in the polls. With the Republicans divided, Ms. Shaheen's candidacy looks like the biggest Democratic recruiting coup of the season.

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