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2008 Celebrity Freshmen?

December 7th, 2006

Kos has mentioned in the past that in 2008, the Democrats will only increase their majority in the Senate, because few or none of the Senate seats coming up for renewal in ’08 are weak Dem seats–instead, there are several Republican seats that will be vulnerable. One way Democratic candidates could win a few of those seats is by using the same tactic Republicans used to win the California governorship: name recognition.

One of those seats is in Minnesota, the seat that opened up when Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash. Republicans won the seat with Norm Coleman when they opportunistically trashed Democrats for bringing politics into Wellstone’s memorial. Coleman won the race mostly because of that opportunism, and because his opponent died in the middle of the race; his hold on the seat is soft, and celebrity Democrat Al Franken is poised to take over when he most likely will run in ’08. Those who have not listened to Franken directly might buy into the inevitable Republican hype about his rabid ultra-liberalism, but if you have listened to him, you’ll know he’s a very reasonable, knowledgeable, sympathetic guy. Maybe not the funniest comedian in the world, but he’s smart. OK, there was the time he used his wrestling skills to tackle that guy, but in the same situation, I think anyone would have. Despite his nebbish appearance, he has a killer instinct. Franken will announce his intentions in January.

But much more interesting is the less likely possibility of the Democratic Party stealing the Senate seat in Kentucky away from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell–with superstar candidate George Clooney. Aside from all the “sexiest man alive” nonsense, this is a very smart, soft-spoken guy who is razor-sharp on politics and could easily bring massive numbers of voters to the polls in his native southern state. And, as Kos pointed out, it would be sweet retribution for the Republicans having taken out Ton Daschle in 2004. Read the story on Clooney. He may not run, but it would be very, very cool to see this guy in the Senate two years from now.

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