Saturday, November 07, 2009

7th District Power Rankings

This is the seventh 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. Billy Long -- (Up 1) For the first time in five months, The Notebook has a new candidate atop the Power Rankings. Auctioneer Billy Long returns to the number one ranking for the first time since the list debuted back on April 30th. Long has been a tour de force at raising cash, building up just under a 3-to-1 cash-on-hand advantage over his next closest opponent. He's mixing an outsider, non-politician image with GOP insider money. And he's raising eyebrows from Washington, D.C. to Jefferson City. Long has charm, money, no voting record and the ability to run a populist campaign in a year that people are yearning for an outsider. Long doesn't want to lead the rankings. It's easier, after all, to thrive at the outsider. But being on top also guarantees a bulls eye on his back. Long's biggest strength might also be his biggest vulnerability: to shoot straight from the hip. But if he maintains a large resource advantage, he'll be able to answer any attack that comes his way. With a wink, nod and funny one-liner. The Billy Long way.

2. Gary Nodler -- (Up 1) Nodler returns to the second slot for the first time since August. His 3rd quarter fundraising failed below expectations and he's expected to relinquish his Senate Appropriations chairmanship soon, possibly even before Thanksgiving. But Nodler's pick-up of Roy Blunt's former chief of staff Gregg Hartley gave him some positive news to cap off the month. Hartley's D.C. connections will inevitably help Nodler raise cash in the beltway. But his blessing raises a larger question about where Blunt's allegiance lies in the 7th. "Hartley doesn't do anything without talking to Roy first," said one 7th District politico. Is Hartley's support a sign that Team Blunt is switching their allegiance to Nodler? Is Nodler now seen as the establishment's best chance at stopping Long? Now Nodler needs to show he can keep pace with Long's fundraising to earn that slot in the championship bout.

3. Jack Goodman -- (Down 2) Goodman falls to his lowest ranking since the Power Rankings began back in April. Some of his drop is self-inflicted, but part of it is a vicious whisper campaign that generated bad buzz for a candidate already reeling from a bad fundraising quarter. His burn rate is much too high, much too soon, so campaign consultant David Barklage has/will be taken off the list of expenses. Now Goodman has to figure out how not only to keep pace financially, but to boost his Mojo and convince skeptics he still and will be in the game. It's too early to write off Goodman, who was the leader of the Power Rankings for the last five straight months. He has the strongest grassroots team in place and still exerts loyalty in those outlying counties of Taney, Lawrence and Barry. No one around has a bad word to say about Jack. But the sentences involving him are now ending with, "Is he tough enough? Can he fight back?"

4. Darrell Moore -- (Stable) The Greene County prosecutor is now being talked about a more of a spoiler than a viable contender to with the 7th. His name identification is still tops in Greene County. So who does that hurt most? We know Moore's presence is good for Nodler. But who does he siphon more votes away from? Goodman or Long. A smart politico outside the 7th says Moore hurts Long the most, because he takes right out of Billy's base of Greene County. It's too early to begin talking deals, but Moore could play kingmaker in a tight dicey race. And remember, no smart kingmaker cuts a deal without getting something in return.

5. Jeff Wisdom -- (Stable) The Notebook caught up with Wisdom at Tuesday night's anti-pension sales tax gathering downtown. After doing some radio with Vincent David Jericho, Wisdom worked the tables, quietly introducing himself to mostly college students, sipping on lattes. Did election night 2009 prove that the tea party movement isn't as potent and organized in southwest Missouri as suggested? If so, that's a setback for Wisdom's populist campaign.

6. Michael Wardell -- (----) The Nixa business owner and former Marine is articulate and thoughtful. And at his announcement, in one sitting, he unveiled more specifics than any of his rivals. Wardell said he got in the race because he was sick of hearing the red meat and empty rhetoric. He's furiously sending out releases in an attempt to break through the fray. But his promise to visit the district's twenty-some counties over the next few weeks (even though there's only 10) shows he has some outreach and catching up to do.

7. Mike Moon -- (Down 1) We haven't heard much out of Moon since he entered the race. But he does have a cool website that pops up a moon over the Capitol. And on his Facebook page, he's sitting on the trunk of an elephant. But if he held an official announcement kick-off, we could at least get him on Ky3 for 30 seconds.

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