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October 7, 2004



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Here's the latest from around the West:

There are no Legislatures in session in the Western region of the country.

On the political front, the US Senate races are taking center stage around the West.

In Alaska, the Murkowski-Knowles race is within the margin of error. Dispatches from Juneau and elsewhere indicate that Murkowski is gearing up for a series of attacks on Knowles. The national Republican Party has been relocating volunteers from around the country to Alaska for the last couple of weeks. As Knowles is close, a solid effort by Murkowski is critical at this juncture. Attacks by her opponents have been effective and have kept this race close.

In Washington, incumbent Patty Murray (D) is well ahead of challenger George Nethercutt (R). Recent analysis of this campaign shows that Nethercutt is not moving much in the polls and will likely not be able to penetrate the Democrat vote rich Seattle metropolitan area. This race is still Murray's to lose.

California incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D) is a lock to win re-election. Today's latest Field Poll all but crowned her the winner. Challenger Bill Jone's campaign is a flop -- it lacks both message and money. His career seems to be over. The obvious question those in the know are asking is "why isn't Governor Schwarzenegger helping Jones?" The answer seems to be the same as the one given as to why the Governor isn't doing more to help the President in critical battleground states such as Ohio...there seems to be room for only one Republican superstar in this Governor's mind -- Arnold.

The Colorado race pitting beer baron Peter Coors (R) against Attorney General John Salazar (D) is neck and neck, much to the surprise of many longtime Colorado political insiders who early on picked Salazar to win handily. A good showing by President Bush in the state, and continues spending by the wealthy Coors, could keep this seat in the Republican column. It will be close.

South Dakota's incumbent senator Tom Daschle is slightly ahead of Republican challenger John Thune. This race, which has turned into a grudge re-match, will be close. Give the edge to Daschle as Democrats 1) really need to hold the seat, and 2) they don't want to lose face by having an incumbent, former Majority Leader, dumped.

Politics in Texas is fairly quiet save for the sniping at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The press corps in Austin seems to be enjoying the latest round of DeLay bashing immensely. The Majority Leader shows no signs of "cracking under the pressure" according to reports from Austin and elsewhere. Rather, the DeLay view as this all just comes with the territory.

Still no indication that there will be a special session before the end of the year in Texas. All reports indicate that there is still no deal on how to reform the school funding issue. Without a prior agreement, the Governor will not likely bring members back to Austin.

Elsewhere on the political scene in the West, Democrats in Arizona and New Mexico are pushing hard to move their states into the Kerry column. Bush is being hurt in Arizona because of the Administration's ignoring of the illegal immigration problem -- a mega-issue for local Republicans. Expect the President to weather the storm however as the state will likely stay in the Republican column.

New Mexico has been a Bush-Kerry wobbler the entire election. The latest polling data moves New Mexico into the "Weak Kerry" column... Essentially within the margin of error but trending with the challenger. Incumbent Governor and Bill Clinton protégé Bill Richardson will likely deliver this state for Kerry. It would be unwise to bet against this as Richardson has had the Midas touch in Santa Fe to date.

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