Republican, U.S. Senate for Nevada
Son of the legendary University of Nevada-Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, Danny Tarkanian is a home-grown Nevada Republican. Itâ€™s hard to overlook the politically-irrelevant irony that this Las Vegas native bearsÂ a mildÂ resemblance to long-time Vegas performer Wayne Newton. But beyond his desert-town tan, shiny black coiffure and gleaming white chompers, this former college basketball star has a tune of substance to sing as he campaigns for the Senate seat currently occupied by embattled Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” Sue Lowden, chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, said toÂ FOX News of Reid.
On MSNBCâ€™s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough â€“ rumored himself to be a potential 2012 presidential candidate â€“ talked to Politicoâ€™s Mike Allen about just how bad the situation is in Nevada for one of the most powerful Democrats in the Senate.
Tarkanianâ€™s 11-point lead over the Democrat incumbent senator in early polling makes him the strongest Republican rival for Reid. Speculation suggests the turn-around in voter sentiment seen across the country is largely due to the turmoil created by a failing Democrat effort to overhaul health care.
Despite Democrat criticism to the contrary, Republicans continue to offer up alternatives to the current proposed health care reform bill. Tarkanian is no exception, pushing for comprehensive tort reform, allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, extending COBRA eligibility, and expanding the use of electronic medical records.
Republican, Governor of Colorado
Called the â€œBoy Wonderâ€ of Colorado politics, Republican State Senator Josh Penry may be young (33 years old), but he has quickly proven himself to be a force in the politics of a state that took a hard swing left in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
Penry is a confident, well-spoken young legislator who has proven he can tackle tough issues, even with the national spotlight shining on him â€“ as he did in an interview on CNN last March, during which he talked about a controversial piece of proposed stateÂ legislation that would allow judges in ColoradoÂ to sentence to death child molesters with multiple offenses.
If he can carry that same confidence and articulation into upcoming debates â€“ maybeÂ leaving outÂ the phrase â€œwilly-nillyâ€ â€“ his campaign could do much to bolster the Republican party nationally.
Currently serving as minority leader of the Colorado Senate, Penry has also worked as an aide on Capitol Hill and a Colorado state representative before being elected to the state senate. Although he considers himself a social conservative, his campaign has focused primarily on fiscal issues and how the stateâ€™s current governor, Democrat Bill Ritter, has handled the budget deficit â€“ which he addressed in a recent conversation with The Colorado Statesman:
â€œFirst of all, (thereâ€™s) the broad acknowledgement that we have to reduce spending. Heâ€™s to be congratulated for finally figuring that out. When the economyâ€™s in the tank, and your budgetâ€™s in the red, you have two choices â€” raise taxes or reduce spending. I think that a systematic strategy of reducing spending in a thoughtful, intelligent way â€” while not perfect, while not desirable â€” is (best).
â€œI think a couple of his choices are curious â€” and, actually, bad public policy.â€
— Republican gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry
A recent Rasmussen survey shows Penry hot on Ritterâ€™s tail, with the two polling about even and still more than a year to go until voters cast their ballots. But his toughest competition will be against fellow Republican Scott McInnis for the partyâ€™s nomination.
Penry is already drawing national attention with his outspoken desire to return the Republican party to what it once was â€“ a desire backed by his youth and energy.
â€œIf Penry wins his party’s nod, expect him to draw lots and lots of attention from national Republicans looking for fresh faces who can demonstrate an ability to win in potential 2012 swing states.â€
— Chris Cillizza, Politics Columnist, Washington Post
Penry believes Republican credibility will continue to suffer until the party â€œreclaims the mantle of fiscal discipline that Republican leaders in Washington squandered over the last decade.â€
Democrat, U.S. Representative for South Carolina
Rob Miller is the one Democrat benefitting most from the now-infamous outburst of Republican Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.) during President Obamaâ€™s recent speech on health care reform to a joint session of Congress.
Granted, Wilsonâ€™s performance brought $750,000 to his campaign in less than 48 hours. But that same Turrets-like episode did much to boost the campaign coffer of his opponent â€“ Rob Miller, who benefitted from â€œYou lie!â€ to the tune of more than $1 million in the same time frame. Not to mention the public-opinion fallout, which had Wilson taking hits from â€“ among others â€“ CNN host Larry King and Senate Republican John McCain, and further polarized a Congress all too close to paralysis.
But how far can one inflammatory outburst from a Republican opponent carry Millerâ€™s campaign? His cookie-cutter platform is light on the issues, addressing the standards â€“ education reform, fiscal issues, etc. And until Rep. Wilsonâ€™s nationally-televised stunt, most Americanâ€™s had never heard of Miller.
Where Miller does stand out is the 13 years he gave to the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Albania, Yugoslavia, Djibouti, Liberia, and twice in Iraq. He also has a cites a firm position on trade deals like the Central America Free Trade Agreement and their negative impact on the U.S. economy andÂ job market.