May 12, 2005


Fund: Franks Considering Senate Bid (NewsMax, 5/11/05)

There's growing enthusiasm among Florida Republicans over a possible Senate run by former Iraq war commander, Gen. Tommy Franks.

"Franks is rumored to be exploring the political terrain for a possible challenge to Florida's Democratic Senator Bill Nelson," reports's John Fund.

Fund says that GOP leaders are excited about a recent Strategic Vision survey that shows Nelson's approval rating plummeting to 45 percent - a number that could persuade the one-time top military man to take the plunge.

Take out both Nelsons and the GOP is looking at a very good midterm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2005 12:00 AM

It would be nice to have someone besides a lawyer or professional politician in the Senate for a change.

Posted by: jd watson at May 12, 2005 1:07 AM

I don't want to smear Franks but we've seen military types make terrible candidates (Wesley Clark). Nelson is definitely beatable but a novice candidate like Franks might make enough mistakes to help Nelson keep his seat.

As for Nelson in NE I'd put his chances at being knocked off pretty low due to a) poor recruiting by the GOP and b) he acts conservative enough so some GOPers can live with him. That said, if he actively supports the filibuster and blocks Bush on other items that may change.

Posted by: AWW at May 12, 2005 7:11 AM


I think our one-time state attorney general Don Stenberg can run even with him; he's revered by Nebraska conservatives for his role in the partial-birth SCOTUS case and he has to be a strong contender for the nomination. He ran close against Nelson last time and could do it again, especially with a boost from a presidential endorsement commercial and/or visit (Bush is wildly popular here). Also, Nelson's squeaky-clean image has been hurt by a contentious nuke-dump issue.

The Nebraska GOP is urging Gov. Heineman to back off a suicidal defense of his seat against the unbeatable Tom Osborne in '06, hoping he'll run against Nelson for the Senate instead. I'd prefer Stenberg because most voters know Heineman only as a name and I don't think he'll give Nelson a fight. Cheeringly, all indications are that Heineman is persisting in his jaw-dropping delusion that he can defend his office against the most popular man in Nebraska, thus possibly clearing the way for an untrammelled Stenberg shot at Nelson.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 9:26 AM

ike II in 2012

Posted by: cjm at May 12, 2005 9:59 AM

Even though Nebraska is a very conservative state, they will still vote for Democrats. On Tuesday, the voters of Omaha re-elected a Democrat Mayor, Mike Fahey (a pro-lifer and pretty moderate all things considered). In the recent past, Bob Kerry, Ben Nelson and James Exon have been elected statewide as US Senators and Governors.

Nelson may be a bit tarnished by the nuke dump scandal but that may be too long ago for some voter's short-term memories to remember. Stenberg is liked by many grass-roots Nebraskans but he is also disliked by some Nebraska GOP elites (I really don't know why). If you don't get the GOP money, you get outspent (just ask Dave Friend-he ran against Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and he had around $81K compared to Fahey's $1 million).

Posted by: pchuck at May 12, 2005 10:29 AM

What is Tommy Franks' connection to Florida?

Several years back, the NJ GOP got the bright idea to run Pete Dawkins, the Heisman Trophy winner, West Pointer and native of Michigan, for the Senate against Lautenberg. As the campaign rolled on, Carville ran ads showing Dawkins throwing darts at a map to decide what state to run for the Senate from, while emphasizing Lautenberg's NJ roots. In debates and in public appearances, it was obvious that Dawkins had no grasp of NJ issues and just as importantly, NJ style. A colorless Midwestern WASP ain't getting elected here. Lautenberg won like 60-40.

Posted by: bart at May 12, 2005 10:46 AM

First, didn't Franks live in Tampa while with the military?

Second, your Pete Dawkins's story sounds like Hillary Clinton carpet bagging in New York. It works in some places and in others it obviously doesn't. New York is a D state, which helped Hillary. New Jersey is a D state (as well as a cesspool of political corruption) so Frank L. won. Florida is more of an R state than a D state, so it might work for Franks (although I wouldn't underestimate Nelson).

Posted by: pchuck at May 12, 2005 11:05 AM


Stenberg is certainly better than Heineman, however, and I don't think any other candidate has a shot. Anybody else come to mind as an alternative? I think Stenberg's the best we have.

This state will elect Democrats, yes, but we're so fundamentally conservative that even a poorly-financed GOP candidate has a good shot if he's shrewd and people know what he stands for (unfortunately not the case with Heineman, at least not yet). I live in Omaha and I think Fahey's political moderation just reinforces that you can only go so far left in this state and win. If the state GOP runs a solid candidate, we'll have to keep that champagne ready for Election Night '06 in case of emergency good news.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 11:15 AM

I notice on further review that my first and second paragraphs seem to contradict each other regarding the chances of a GOP candidate, but again...when I look around the state I don't see anybody else with name recognition or stature, which I think will kill you in any race. People know Heineman's name but that's it. No other possible candidate that I can think of approaches Stenberg in this department.

Meanwhile, in a conservative state, you always have a shot if people know who you are.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 11:26 AM

Matt: Sure a Republican can win in a conservative state when up against a formibable Democrat, look at Hagel v. Nelson in 1996. I agree, Stenberg is the best available candidate (no T.O., no Johanns). In addition, Stenberg has won state-wide many times. What Stenberg needs is George Bush coming into Nebraska several times and lots of GOP money.

See if Hagel campaigns with Stenberg and this will tell a lot. Hagel hates Nelson.

Posted by: pchuck at May 12, 2005 11:56 AM


For better or worse, the Hildebeest had a national reputation. Dawkins was barely a household name in his own household. NJ went for Reagan in 1980, 1984 and for Old Bush in 1988. Also, in 2000, it was far more about the oxygen-deprived Rick Lazio losing the race than Hilary winning it. He ran a campaign that was not nearly good enough to be called abysmal.

Florida doesn't lack for corruption either, even though its political crooks don't generally have decent nicknames.

The Dawkins nomination was also about party bosses thwarting the desires of the primary electorate and many ambitious local pols. If Franks runs, will he be stepping on people's toes or will he get the nomination pretty much by acclaimation. Florida is a very military state so if he gets nominated, he should win handily under those circumstances.

Posted by: bart at May 12, 2005 12:14 PM


You might remember that Bush did an ad for Stenberg in 2000. He's always been good about showing up to support GOP candidates, and he'll need that Senate seat if he has to table S.S. reform until '06. We'll definitely need his assistance.

You're right, it'll be interesting to see what Hagel (R., France) does. Of course, he's never been a team player: He showed up at Mount Michael a while ago and one of the monks I know out there told me he spent most of his talk hammering Bush's foreign policy. Can't he at least can it while talking to high schoolers? It's not like they're the press.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 12:19 PM

Hard to believe Franks would have the patience to put up with the intellectual and moral cesspool that is the US Senate (by the way, don't you really, really wish that Ditka had actually run--how many times by now would he been worked up into a rant by some idiotic Biden/Reid/whoever else comment?).

The Republicans aren't going to have a good '06 unless they can make their margin far larger than the number of pansies in their ranks (Sen. Voinovich, thank you very much). And they can't win that many seats if the base isn't motivated to do the groundwork that they did in '04, which won't happen because a) it's not a Presidential year, and b) the Republicans are showing that they can't come through with their promises.

Posted by: b at May 12, 2005 12:58 PM

Dawkins was barely a household name in his own household.

Ohhh, that's good, very good. Can I steal it?

I'd forgotten what a bad candidate Lazio was. I remember staring dumbfounded at my TV screen wondering if this was really the best guy the NY GOP could come up with on short notice. Saying a candidate is the brightest of the dim bulbs ain't a compliment.

Sounds like Franks is our man. Let us nominate him, get to 60, emit war cries and run roughshod over the Senate floor while chasing down our enemies, clutching their loved ones to our chests, and hearing the lamentations of the Democrats!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 1:06 PM

A while ago, I speculated that Franks might make a run at the presidency in 2008. That doesn't look like it's going to pan out, but a Senate run would suit me just fine. Franks looks like he would be a great candidate for anything.

Posted by: Timothy at May 12, 2005 1:24 PM


OJ says you're wrong!

See also here.

As for GOP promises, it sounds like we're finally starting to peer through the range finder and release the Bomb we've been plotting to drop on half of the Senate. Ka-BOOOOOOM!!!!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 1:32 PM

Well, oj didn't see the huge Republican pickups in 2002, and he thought Kerry was sure to resign, so he's not infallible.

One thing in the Republicans favor is that their grassroots support and work for the party, while the Democrat grassroots now support and work for MoveOn, and if there is one solid example of 100% incompetence in actually winning elections, it's MoveOn.

Posted by: b at May 12, 2005 2:09 PM


Well, they weren't huge Republican pickups in 2002. But they were definitely sufficient.

But heck, you're right about the Democratic 527s; man, I forgot all about them! They're fighting a battle between what they want to do and what they'll have to do to regain power. They don't have the self-discipline to take the correct route. And even if they tempered their nonsense, that would just mean fewer donations from the self-selected rich elites who think everyone else shares their views.

And thanks to McCain-Feingold, these jokers now run the Democratic party. I'm torn between denouncing McCain as a serial violator of our Constitution and sending him a gift basket. Maybe I should do both?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 12, 2005 2:35 PM

Didn't the media allege some a bs-scandal concerning Franks' wife?

Posted by: pchuck at May 12, 2005 3:24 PM

Didn't the media allege some a bs-scandal concerning Franks' wife?

Posted by: pchuck at May 12, 2005 3:25 PM