From Chuck Todd’s “On the Trail” in the National Journal online (For The GOP, Some Diamonds In The Rough – 4/5/06)
Four candidates in particular have caught our attention: Mike McGavick in Washington, Mike Bouchard in Michigan, Pete Ricketts in Nebraska and John Raese in West Virginia….
The cream of this crop is McGavick…
After McGavick, Nebraskans have a very solid Republican recruit in Pete Ricketts. He still has a primary to deal with that could, of course, cut his potential for stardom short. But something tells us that $4-5 million (the amount of money it appears he is on pace to spend in the primary) is enough to buy a primary victory in the Cornhusker State.
Once in the general, Ricketts might be the only one with a message that gives him even a remote shot at knocking off the elusive Sen. Ben Nelson (D). Ricketts essentially plans to go after Nelson’s strength (he’s a non-ideological pragmatist) and try to make it a weakness. For instance, Ricketts will try to claim that Nelson’s push for Nebraska pork isn’t leadership. It’s not the easiest message to sell, but running against Nelson isn’t easy, and Ricketts seems genuine in his ability to sell the message…
It’s more than likely that none of these four will win, especially if the landscape remains as it is today: slanted a great deal toward the Democrats. And frankly, we’ve seen solid recruiting classes go down in defeat even when the wind was just barely blowing in the wrong direction. Just look at 2002 and 2004 — perhaps the best two recruiting cycles in the history of the DSCC. From Ron Kirk, Jeanne Shaheen and Alex Sanders to Erskine Bowles, Betty Castor and Inez Tenenbaum, Democrats had a lot of interesting recruits who just couldn’t win against a mild headwind.
And that’s the problem facing McGavick, Bouchard, Ricketts and Raese. It may not be a mild headwind come November; it could be a hurricane. Still, if any of these four win this cycle, they’ll become instant players.