Diary

Finally, a Fighter

There’s a very good reason to feel good about the 2010 Senate Elections, Senator John “Big John” Cornyn as Chairman of the NRSC. While, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was a great Chairman of the National Democratic Senator Campaign Committee, Liddy Dole and John Ensign were disasters.

Elizabeth Dole’s decision to spend a million dollars saving Lincoln Chafee from a Primary battle, may have cost the Republicans far more winnable seats in Virginia and Montana, which if Republicans had won would have left them with a 51-49 Majority last session. On top of this, the move of the NRSC Injecting itself into Republican primaries rather than just helping Republicans win elections have led to a grassroots aversion to the organization and therefore less people have given money to it, including “Captain Ed” Morrissey’s “Not One Dime” campaign.

Somehow, I get the feeling that with Cornyn, it will be different. From the San Antonio News Express (Hat Tip: Hugh Hewitt.):

WASHINGTON — Sen. John Cornyn is seizing the unaccustomed role of partisan attack dog, trying to slow down the early momentum of President Barack Obama to bolster Republicans’ recovery efforts in Senate races in 2010.

In the opening days of the Obama administration, Cornyn delayed Senate confirmation of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by one day, and of Attorney General-designate Eric Holder by at least one week.

He has pointedly challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., mastermind of Democrats’ Senate gains.

As newly elected head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn has orchestrated GOP efforts to block the seating of Democrat Al Franken, embroiled in a contested Senate race with incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice, also led the GOP critique of Obama’s controversial decision to close the detention center housing some suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, calling it a “dangerous step.”

“I think he has decided that the only chance Republicans have is to be very aggressive,” said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. Cornyn, 56, says he’s doing what Texans would expect of a re-elected second-term senator who began a steady stair-step political career as an elected district court judge in Bexar County in 1984.

Cornyn, who won his first Senate term in 2002 with the help of then-President George W. Bush, said his expanding national role lets him remain a key player in the GOP Senate leadership as well as the architect of Republican efforts to orchestrate a nationwide comeback in 2010…

Larry Hufford, a political scientist at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, says Cornyn’s high-profile challenge to Clinton’s confirmation will please conservative Republican donors, particularly since Cornyn’s scrutiny also drags in the former president.

“There is no better name than Clinton to go after,” says Hufford. “It will be used by conservative talk radio hosts ad nauseam.”

Cornyn’s energetic efforts so close to the inauguration underscore the challenge he faces trying to recoup Senate losses, which trimmed the ranks of Republicans from 55 seats before the 2006 midterm elections to 41 seats today.

A master fundraiser who spent at least $28.5 million on two Senate races of his own in Texas, Cornyn said he’s working to rebuild Senate Republicans’ fundraising operation.

The NRSC poured $90.6 million into GOP Senate races on Nov. 4, far less than the $155.7 million spent by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee under Schumer’s leadership.

Cornyn’s got his critics, David Patterson doesn’t appreciate him insisting on getting the questioners that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) filled out and of course, John McCain (that master of winning national elections) is complaining that it’s too partisan.

However, Republicans are hungry for some fight and the answer is not playing possum, but to challenge the administration and give people out in the rest of America something to fight for. Cornyn is showing some spirit, and not only that he’s got the fundraising street cred. to bring some serious Capital behind GOP candidates.

Of course, Cornyn took the Senate Seat of the greatest NRSC Chairman ever when he succeeded Senator Phil Gramm. Gramm led a Republican Party that was a 43-57 minority to a 51-49 Majority.  An ideal election night for John Cornyn would include the tough task of holding all the Republican Seats, as well as picking up several Democratic Seats. An amazing scenario of a wave against Democrats would be Republicans winning the seats Obama has removed incumbents from: Illinois, Delaware, New York, and Colorado. As well as knocking off Harry Reid in Nevada and Blance Lincoln in Arkansas. (Note: I’m not making a prediction, I’m describing a best-case scenario.)  This would leave the GOP with 47 or 48 seats depending on how the Franken-Coleman think shakes out. Of course, thist best case scenario could get better if there are retirements on the Democratic side. Not everyone stays in the Senate forever and Democrats and other than new appointees, every Democrat up for election has at least two terms under their belt and might consider retirement for various reasons including just to go into lobbying.

There’s speculation at the end of the story that Cornyn may use the results of the NRSC Chairmanship to run for the presidency. If he does, great. But that’s not his focus right now. It’s on winning Senate seats. And if he is able to run for President, it’ll only be because he did a good job. I cheer for all potential 2012 efforts that right now are working to elect Republicans. Free and Strong America PAC, Huck PAC, do your thing and help us stem the Democratic tide.

For the first time since I can remember, I actually have confidence in the NRSC. I sent my first ever donation today.