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Kyl Could Be Vulnerable in '06

20 November 2005

The next Congressional elections in the United States are still one year away, but some of the races can already be identified as key battles in the Democrats' hopes of reclaiming Congress. Among them is the fight for the senatorial seat occupied by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl, the man who has attempted to pass prohibitory online gambling legislation in all of the last five legislative sessions.

In some ways, the current political climate of the United States is similar to the climate of 1994. That year, voters seemed to be unhappy with the first two years of Bill Clinton's presidency and responded by delivering 52 new House seats and eight new Senate seats to the Republicans, giving the party control of both chambers of the legislature for the first time in 40 years. Current polls indicate an approval rating below 40 percent for President Bush, and if the numbers are true, voters could once again mandate a significant change in their government by ousting incumbent officeholders.

The Senate seat occupied by Kyl is not one of the five that Democrats consider solid takeover opportunities (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Montana and Missouri), but if all else goes according to plan (and that's a pretty big if), then a victory in Arizona would represent the Democrats' 51st seat, making them the majority party.

If, as in 1994, voters convert their distaste for the president's performance into a rejection of his party's congressional incumbents, then Kyl, a conservative, could be especially vulnerable. It is no secret that he has been a very close ally to President Bush; he has consistently sided with the president on matters involving tax cuts, social issues, repeal of the estate tax, free trade and expanded drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Jim Pederson, the Democrat who has risen to challenge Kyl for the Arizona seat, is a good enough candidate to have a fair chance. Before serving as chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party from 2001 to 2005, Pederson founded the Pederson group, which has developed over 25 retail projects throughout Arizona and created thousands of jobs since 1983.

Pederson has been one of the country's largest Democratic campaign donors in recent years and he will surely use his deep pockets to fund his own campaign in 2006. For his devotion to the party, Pederson is sure to receive help from other Democrats and sympathizers as well. Having announced his candidacy for Senate shortly after Labor Day, Pederson had only two weeks of fundraising to report to the Federal Election Commission for the third quarter. In that short time, Pederson he raised $723,000, although he was trumped by Kyl, who had the full quarter and raised $832,000. The largest contributor to Pederson's campaign in the quarter was Keeping America's Promise, the political action committee of 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Other contributors include labor unions, Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Carl Levin, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and the political action committees of Democratic senators Harry Reid, Bill Nelson Mary Landrieu, Dick Durbin and Carl Levin.

Kyl faced no real competition in 2000, when he received 79 percent of votes to defeat four independent candidates, and is expected to have no problems competing with Pederson for financing in what seems destined to become the most expensive election in the state's history. In the third quarter, Kyl raised $170,000 from health care and pharmaceutical firms, $43,000 form energy firms and $163,000 from banks and insurance companies. Corporations ExxonMobil, Johnson & Johnson, Occidental Petroleum, Dow Chemical, Pfizer and Clear Channel Communications offered support to Kyl in the quarter, as did the National Rifle Association, former Intel DEO Craig Barrett, the Bidwell family, which owns the Arizona Cardinals, former Dial Corp. CEO Herb Baum and Arizona Diambondbacks managing partner Jeff Moorad.

Republican John McCain, Arizona' hugely popular senior senator, has thrown his weight in support of Kyl, and President Bush will visit Phoenix this month to deliver the keynote address at a Kyl fundraiser in which supporters hope to raise $2 million. But, whether boasting such a tight relationship with the unpopular president at home is a good idea is debatable. Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth appeared on the Imus in the Morning show on MSNBC last week, and when asked whether he would welcome the president to campaign for him in Arizona stated, "In a word, no. Not at this time."

The early indication is that the contest between Kyl and Pederson will center around the issues of immigration, border security and tax cuts. Pederson's campaign may also focus attacks against Kyl for receiving large amounts of financial information from big pharmaceutical and oil companies and also for opposing stem cell research and importing drug imports.

Despite the Democrats' optimism and the apparent vulnerability of Senator Kyl, the odds still favor Kyl. Zogby poll results released this week show Kyl with a 52 percent to 42 percent lead over Pederson. Republicans enjoy a 6 percentage point voter registration edge in Arizona, in addition to control of both chambers of the state legislature, and Bush carried the state last year by a margin of more than 10 percent.

That Senator Kyl has been the staunchest advocate of online gambling prohibition is not likely to have an impact on the election. The issue receives very little public exposure, and in all likelihood, most Arizonans are probably unaware of Kyl's efforts in this area.

Kyl Could Be Vulnerable in '06 is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com