Tim Mahoney: "I don't owe the (Democratic) Party anything."
Slimy fake Democrat Mahoney
Both our Art Director, Adam, and our Constitutional Law Expert, Jon, live in West Palm Beach, the district that was formerly represented by Republican Mark Foley, who was caught molesting young boys, and is now represented by Republican Tim Mahoney, who was caught changing his voter registration when Rahm Emanuel found out about the pending sex scandal and allowed Foley to keep right on keeping on. So presto, lifelong corrupt countryclub Republican Tim Mahoney became an instant Democrat, Emanuel and Hoyer chased school teacher and Democratic activist Dave Lutrin out of the primary by drying up his fundraising-- after all, he was not only in a labor union, he was against the war at a time when Emanuel was telling Democratic candidates that being against the war was the kiss of death-- and it was; he and Hoyer would destroy your campaign if you persisted. Anyway, yesterday, Adam, who was very much part of the lost battle to keep Lutrin in the race in 2006, breathlessly warned me that Jon was considering going to work for Mahoney. That turned out to be baloney, of course, although Jon was doing some research on one of the worst of the Democratic freshmen. Here's Jon's report:
What do you call a freshman Congressman who publicly refuses to endorse his party's nominee? My Republican friend tartly responded "one who doesn't want to be a sophomore Congressman." For once, I agree with him.
Congressman Tim Mahoney told reporters he would remain uncommitted in the presidential primary, and would probably skip the Convention altogether. From the Palm Beach Post: "I'm a Democrat, but am I going to have a pep rally or something like that? No, I'm not going to do that." Translation: I'm technically a Democrat, but only because that position was open.
Tim Mahoney was a Republican as late as the 2004 election. He switched to the Democratic Party in 2005 and squeaked by in Florida's 16th District in 2006, barely beating the stand-in for Mark Foley. (Foley's name was still on the ballot). As noted in the Miami Herald:
The Democratic establishment went to bat to help Mahoney beat a more experienced Republican, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and fighting the GOP's perfectly reasonable effort to take Foley's name off the ballot. Union officials knocked on doors. Former Sen. Bob Graham campaigned with Mahoney in the homestretch.
But Congressman Mahoney doesn't appreciate the help.
''I don't owe the party anything,'' said Mahoney, whose election helped the Democrats take control of Congress. "If anybody owes anybody anything, it's [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi who owes a debt to me.''
One might be tempted to assume that any district which would almost pick Foley over the challenger is a bastion of conservatism. Not true. Florida's 16th district is only R+2. So why does Congressman Mahoney feel it necessary to go out of his way to bash his party and their brand new presidential nominee? [Remember, he was one of only 7 reactionary, anti-military Democrats (craven Blue Dogs Melissa Bean, Dan Boren, Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Nick Lampson, and Jim Matheson) to join the far right Republican dead-enders in opposing the 2008 GI Bill.] Mahoney says his stance is not politically motivated. I would hope not. It would be quite disingenuous, politically speaking, for a brand new Democratic Congressman to distance himself from his party's wildly popular presidential candidate in what could be a transformative election that results in an abiding new ruling coalition.
Although Congressman Mahoney's political strategy might be wrongheaded, I find it hard to believe that his decision is unrelated to self-interest. Mahoney's boilerplate rationale is that he "wasn't elected to be a role model as to how people should vote." No, he was elected to represent his constituents, who chose him over the Republican candidate. When a majority votes a candidate in, under the Democratic Party label, it should go without saying that the person will caucus with, and stand by, the party under whose banner he ran, at least when it comes to supporting that party's new leader. Instead, Congressman Mahoney bites the hand that fed him. He does so with the sure knowledge that Florida, per usual, could put the Democrats over the top this election, and that a high turnout in Palm Beach County is essential to that end.
If Congressman Mahoney thinks he can save his endangered seat by pretending to be a Republican, he's crazy. Its one thing to compromise on a policy issue in order to appease a moderate base. Such an action might be admirable to many independent voters, peel off some Republican voters, and be at least palatable to the Democratic base as part of the compromise and the rough-and-tumble of politics. Its quite another thing to publicly dismiss an historic candidate in the week following his victory, at a time when even President Bush and Condi Rice are reveling in the excitement.
You can say what you want, but most Republicans value loyalty, and will see right through Mahoney's pathetic attempt to pander to them by publicly dismissing his party and their nominee in the most important election of our lifetimes. No one who was already going to vote against Congressman Mahoney will change his or her mind based on this decision. Most rank-and-file Republicans have the discipline to vote the party line regardless. This has always been a Republican strength. An unremarkable display of cowardice on Congressman Mahoney's part will do little to sway them. Moreover, Congressman Mahoney's betrayal burns a bridge with perhaps one constituency with the power to bankroll his fledgling re-election campaign: the netroots. When I personally heard that Congressman Mahoney is "the most endangered Congressman," I thought about volunteering and contributing to his campaign. But I quickly learned better. I will focus on canvassing for Obama, and will spend my limited resources on those local Democrats, such as Congressman Wexler, who I know will work with the Democratic Party, and with independent Republicans, to fundamentally change the direction of our country. When Obama is competing in every state, and there are true progressive candidates across Florida and around the country, no Democrat or progressive should waste their time and money on the candidacy of someone who is transparently biding his time, awaiting his "Zell Miller" moment. One lesson we might learn from the 2006 election is that the only thing worse than no change, is the illusion of change.
Cross-posted at FLA Politics.
Democrats in south Florida should let Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC contribute to the swinish Mahoney. Democrats in FL-16 should instead consider donating money to a real Democrat-- really as in really great-- Joe Garcia, who will get to Congress and cancel out Mahoney's frequent votes for Bush's agenda. Garcia is running a grassroots campaign against Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25 and you can donate to him at our Blue America page. Joe respects and admires both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and, unlike the craven Mahoney, is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Barack Obama to rescue our country from the mess Bush, the GOP and a small handful of treacherous Blue Dogs like Mahoney have made.