No, not that great Hooters song, the other kind of zombies, retired senators.
As Ben Nelson is retiring in order to save face as his senate seat will likely be filled by a Nebraska Republican named Deb Fischer next fall, the Democrats are flying Bob Kerrey (D-New College, New York, NY) back to his former home state to run in his place.
Despite early polls in Mrs. Fischer’s favor, Dr. J. must remind you of a few things.
First, it is May. The election is in November, so there are 5 1/2 months for the the Kerrey campaign, its surrogates and the media to start going through trash cans to drum up crazy charges like calling her a hypocrite for leasing (i.e. paying rent on) federal land for her cattle to graze upon, or some sorority hazing incident back in her days as a Nebraska co-ed (whether or not she was ever even a member of a sorority), or some other craziness.
Second, the reason the D’s brought in Kerrey is that he was a senator, so they can talk about his experience, like going to the movies rather than negotiating a budget settlement with other senators, congressmen and President Clinton. Furthermore, he has name recognition statewide, because he has previously won statewide office.
Third, living out of state so long he has significant out of state profile that allows him to be a good fundraiser. As the President of New College, it’s what he does for a living. His fundraising has been from sources out of state. This makes Dr. J. worry because money talks and there is a lot of money not in Nebraska.
Fourth, at least one former Democratic senator has been successful at winning back old seat. When Senator Torracelli (D- Sopranos) was forced to step down after the filing deadline for candidates, the NJ Supreme Court voted 7-0 (because they always vote 7-0 on anything controversial) that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Shady Glades Retirement Home, NJ) could be put on the ballot because, ‘an election just ain’t an election without a Democrat.’ He pretty much was a slam dunk, and has taken marching orders ever since. In New York, former First Lady Hillary Clinton ran for Patrick J. Moynahan’s seat, beating Congressman Rick Lazio for the job. When she became Secretary of State, the D’s tried to get Caroline Kennedy to run, but she decided against it. Seriously, it’s New York, how often does a Republican win state-wide office? Only Al D’Amato and George Pataki come to mind.
Vice President Walter Mondale nearly pulled off the same feat (albeit without shenanigans to get him on the ballot) running to replace the late Paul Wellstone. Norm Coleman won that seat, only to be replaced in a subsequent squeaker by SNL writer, Sen. Al Franken (D-Yucksville, MN). Compare this record to virtual unknowns like Martha Coakley (D-MA) who lost the interim election for the late Ted Kennedy’s seat to Sen. Scott Brown.
In other words, Dr. J. is rooting for Mrs. Fischer, but she better campaign hard and be ready for dirty tricks and nonsense, and a lot of outside money pouring into the race. Despite his quirks, when the D’s tapped Kerrey, that made this pretty safe pickup a less safe on in Dr. J.’s eyes.