Dorgan may be vulnerable in 2010


Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), one of the most committed broadcast watchdogs on Capitol Hill, is enjoying a 69% approval rating among citizens of North Dakota, despite their Republican tastes when it comes to presidential candidates. But he may be vulnerable nevertheless, if the even more popular Republican Gov. John Hoeven decides to mount a challenge.

Dorgan entered the House in 1980, and moved up to the Senate in 1992. According to Politico, he has never faced a tough election.

But all bets would be off if Hoeven decides to run for the seat. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has conducted polling which shows Hoeven entering such a race with a 53%-36% edge, making Dorgan look like an incumbent in trouble.

NRSC head John Cornyn (R-TX) is obviously excited at the prospect of picking off an key and otherwise apparently safe Democratic incumbent, and is waiting for Hoeven’s decision, which he is supposed to make known by sometime in September.

RBR/TVBR observation: We were a little surprised that Dorgan didn’t get the chair when the Senate Commerce Committee revived a subcommittee to handle communications issues – it went to John Kerry instead, with Dorgan taking the lead in an aviation panel.

But he has long been one of the strongest voices in Congress, particularly in matters of media consolidation. And he of course had a local interest in the alleged misdeeds of Clear Channel during the celebrated Minot train derailment and chemical leak saga. He was, among other things, the author of the Resolution of Disapproval which sought to send would-be media rules deregulator, former FCC Chair Michael Powell, back to the drawing board.

It would be a very different Commerce Committee minus Dorgan’s pointed questions. Stay tuned.