Monday, November 3, 2008

McCain's Arizona Senate Seat Could Go Democrat in 2010

By jwilkes

At 72 years of age, John McCain is at the age when politicians start to think about calling it quits. While it’s true that some will serve well into their 80s - and in some cases even their 90s - 72 isn’t a number for spring chickens. When he comes up for reelection again, he’ll be 74 years old. When that term expires, he’ll be 80.

As of today, McCain is the 24th oldest member of the Senate. By January- when John Warner (age 81) will retire, Ted Stevens (age 84) and Elizabeth Dole (age 72) will likely have been replaced by Democrats who are now leading their Senate races- McCain will drop to 21st on the list. And that’s assuming that no Senators retire or pass away mid-term. Who knows where he’d be by the end of another six-year term, assuming he were to pursue one and win it.

Consider that McCain will have just finished an incredibly taxing national campaign, one that even Democrat Barack Obama (who at just 47 is the third youngest member of the Senate) admits has worn on him. This was likely McCain’s final chance at higher elected office (though his being appointed to the Cabinet of a future Republican president wouldn’t necessarily be out of the question). Add that to 21 years he’s already been in public office, and you have to wonder, would McCain really want to stick around?

Whether he decides to stand for another term in office or not, McCain will likely face the battle of his political life (again). Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano will be term limited, and with her strong approval ratings and popularity statewide, she’d pose a significant threat to McCain. Napolitano was reelected to a second term by a 16 point margin, powering to a 63% - 35% win over her Republican challenger in 2006. That’s after she won by a hair (0.9%, to be exact) in her first contest in 2002. She’s received praise nationwide for strong governance, and made strides towards balancing what had been a staggering budget deficit. She was heavily considered for the vice presidential slot on Barack Obama’s executive.

For McCain’s part, his popularity at home may be a little shaky. Despite the fact that McCain has lived in The Grand Canyon state for most of his adult life and has served it for more than 25 years. And yet, his home field advantage appears to be evaporating before his very eyes. What was a double digit lead in the late summer and early fall has crumbled to within 5 points. If it gets much worse, he could join the list of presidential candidates who couldn’t manage to pick up the electoral votes from their home states. Only two presidents (Polk and Wilson), have lost their home states and still won the White House.

Plus, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee loves to make a point when it can, and knocking off party leadership and significant party figures is always in the backs of their mind. If the DSCC thinks it can take out John McCain, make no mistake: it will pour money into Napolitano’s coffers in every attempt to make that possibility a reality.

Napolitano’s growing popularity at home and nationwide, McCain’s dwindling esteem in Arizona, and the DSCC’s desire to continue to add to what will already be an impressive majority could create the perfect political storm that blows McCain’s ship off course and out of office for good. Considering all the factors, retirement might not look like such a bad option.

Read jwilkes’s Last Article: 58 in the Senate, Big Gains in the House, and a Little Place On Pennsylvania Ave.

Original here

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