Ensign: Um, we might not be retaking the Senate this year

A little something for the McCain-haters among us, who vowed after Florida to be done with the RINO and focus on the all-important task of winning back Congress. The old GOP goal: A two-seat pickup, restoring the party to a nifty 51/49 advantage. The new goal, it seems: Preventing a filibuster-proof Democratic majority.

Brought to you by the team who couldn’t find a challenger to a first-term incumbent in a red state.

A difficult week on the recruiting front has further prevented the committee from playing much offense in 2008, as wealthy candidates in New Jersey and South Dakota opted out and the window for recruiting top-tier candidates has apparently passed in most of the NRSC’s top-targeted states.

Ensign said about half of the Senate’s 49 GOP members are “not even close” to being on pace to raise the amount of money they are expected to for the committee and fellow candidates. The members are expected to raise between $750,000 and $3 million, depending on seniority and stature…

The filing deadline for two other targeted races, Iowa and Montana, is Friday and Thursday, respectively, and no major or well-funded candidate has yet signed up for either one.

With the West Virginia deadline already passed, the committee is basically limited to recruiting in New Jersey and South Dakota. It has less than a month, though Ensign said he hopes to have an answer from a candidate in the latter this weekend…

Ensign could have to defend upwards of 12 Republican-held seats in November, as Democrats have landed solid candidates in even some long-shot races.

He’s already basically given up on John Warner’s seat in Virginia, which Mark Warner should win in walkover. As for the House, 28 vacancies means we’re in even worse shape than in the Senate and neither the generic ballot nor the early bellwethers are encouraging. Exit question: Are Reid and Pelosi actually going to turn a 19% approval rating into a net gain in seats?