Tuesday, June 30, 2009

7th District Power Rankings

This is the third installment of The Notebook's monthly survey of the 7th Congressional District field and each candidate's chances of winning the GOP nomination in 2010.
The higher the candidate's ranking, the more likely he/she is positioned to win the nomination at this point and time -- and be put on the path to replace Roy Blunt in the U.S. House.
For last month's rankings, click HERE.

1. Jack Goodman -- (Stable) Team Goodman has spent most of the past month staffing up, conducting grass-roots meetings and raising money. Did we mention raising money? No matter what the campaign finance numbers report later this month, Goodman's political allies will note that the Senator spent two-thirds of the fundraising quarter "in session." (But he better raise more than Nodler, who had just a month.) Still, Goodman's got his team in place (Miles Ross, campaign manager/David Barklage, consultant, etc . . .) and he's attempting to penetrate hard into Nodler's base. The campaign believes Joplin is Jack's number one area for growth. He held a fundraiser in Joplin which drew about 50 people and he's done the rounds in D.C. He can become the beneficiary of Nodler's enemies, but can he sustain Nodler's deep contacts around the state and his aggressive nature when the heat turns on?

2. Gary Nodler -- (Stable) In the end, both the Nodler and Goodman camps privately believe the race will come down to them, and Gary Nodler is pretty confident in his chances. Some politicos are wondering how Gregg Keller will be able to focus on day to day operations with half of his mind in Connecticut. But as Nodler notes, all the "who's who" consultants dip their pens in multiple reservoirs of ink. Nodler will report about $100 K raised in a month, and he's more than hinted he really hasn't even begun to tap his resources. (Can anybody else raise substantial dough in Kansas City and St. Louis?) Nodler thinks it's much too early to get consumed by the month-to-month horse race, but his backers believe that once voters get engaged they'll see the Joplin Senator as a doer -- a mover and shaker. And because the stakes are high, they believe voters will opt for the man in-the-arena over a wallflower.

3. Sarah Steelman -- (----) The Notebook is done guessing Sarah Steelman's intentions, but we do know someone has done polling in the 7th District testing her name identification. (Who would poll her name other than her?) And of course, the mere fact of phone calls as recent as a week and a half ago has got all the other 7th District candidates wondering. "Last time I checked, Sarah doesn't live in the 7th district," snapped one ally for another candidate. "She got killed in the Joplin area against Kenny," noted another. Yet, she makes her debut on the Power Ranking list because the buzz about a potential candiacy merits a slot. If Steelman gets in, it dramatically alters the field. Is she the Carpetbagging opportunist -- or the Maverick populist? Unanswerable for now. Because her strength lies in the eastern half of the district, she probably hurts Goodman/Long more than Gary Nodler -- initially. But even those who like Steelman fear the longer she waits, the more donors commit elsewhere.

4. Billy Long -- (Down 1) Billy Long's biggest strength is that he's the only major contender running who isn't on the government payroll. He's also worth a bunch of money. That counts in a tanking economy. Those close to Long say he'll hit his Quarter 2 fundraising mark, but they don't expect to win the quarter. His campaign team seems to be coming together. Spotted recently at a Long fundraiser: Consultants Jeff Roe & James Harris. Can they help turn his sweet twang into a real penetrating message? It remains the outstanding question. Long clearly remains the dark horse in the race -- the ultimate wild card with a question mark at the end.

5. Darrell Moore -- (Down 1) The candidate least happy about Moore's entrance into the race is Jack Goodman. Local attorneys say the Greene County prosecutor's bid has put a bit of a chill on Goodman's ability to tap his attorney friends for big dollar contributions. This raises another question: Will anyone turn up the heat to demand Moore resign his seat in order to pursue his campaign? What trial lawyer going up against Moore in the courtroom would feel comfortable lending financial aide to his Congressional opponent?

6. Jeff Wisdom -- (Down 1) I'm not sure what this means, but I recently noticed I have two Jeff Wisdom friends on Facebook -- and both are the same person. Wisdom has recently been vacationing in Orlando. On June 25th, he announced key endorsements "from Goofy, Pluto, Eeyore, Pooh, and Tigger...Donald Duck and Mickey are holding out though...the darn liberals! LOL"
7. Hal Donaldson -- (Up 1) There's word that some local GOPers have suggested that the Convoy of Hope president run for State Senate rather than the 7th District. He hasn't done anything publicly to suggest a full-fledged campaign, but even if he had, he'd probably be in close to the same slot as far as political "power" goes. Maybe Donaldson and Steelman should get together and talk it out.

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