Friday, April 19, 2013

The Lamest Ducks In The House-- A Beltway-Eyed View


Accidental Congressman Gary Miller, California's Confederate sympathizer

This week, Roll Call points to California Republican Gary Miller and Tennessee date rape drug doctor Scott DesJarlais as being the two incumbents most likely to lose their seats in 2014. Close behind are detestable Blue Dog reactionaries Jim Matheson (UT) and Mike McIntyre (NC), New Dem Ron Barber (AZ) and GOP fringe loon Mike Coffman (CO). The retirements of these four characters by their constituents who be steps in the right direction for making Capitol Hill a better place-- even if we would need 2-300 retirements like this for it to actually make Congress function on behalf of the American people.

Gary Miller, of these four, is the most likely to be working as a lobbyist after 2014. He is an accidental congressman-- as well as an extremist crackpot, a crook and a confederate Civil War reenactor. So how did Miller come to represent a district, CA-31, where Romney only managed to get 40.6% of the vote? The district, which includes Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Colton, Redlands, Loma Linda and Rialto, is a minority majority district (44% Hispanic and 11% African American) and should have gone to a Democrat in 2012. The DCCC and California Democratic Party botched it up and 4 Democratic contenders in the open primary split the vote so badly that two Republicans, Miller, who represented a neighboring district previously, and state Senator Bob Dutton wound up with the most votes and went on to the general election. Redlands Mayor Peter Aguilar, the heavy favorite, didn't get a chance to compete in the general, where Miller beat Dutton 82,212 (55%) to 66,603 (45%).

So Aguilar is running again and it should be a slam dunk, right? Sure... because everything in politics goes just as its planned. Meet defeated Blue Dog Joe Baca, who was hounded out of office in 2012 by Mike Bloomberg. Baca is an NRA stalwart and Bloomfield, in effect, bought the seat for another conservative Democrat-- although an anti-NRA one-- then state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Her voting record, in terms of progressive issues, has been at least as bad as Baca's, if not worse. And now Baca says he wants to run in the open primary against Aguilar and Miller. Oh, dandy.

DesJarlais, a physician who was having sex with multiple patients-- some who he gave drugs and one who he encouraged to get an abortion-- is widely viewed as an embarrassment and he's likely to lose a primary... unless there are multiple candidates. State Reps Joe Carr and Kevin Brooks will probably run but right now state Senator Jim Tracy is the favorite and he outraised DesJarlais 4 to 1 this quarter. Obama won just under a third of the district in 2012, down from 35.8% in 2008 and TN-04 (Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Winchester, Cleveland and Smyrna) is not a good fit for Democrats. In 2012 DesJarlais-- even under the cloud of scandal-- beat Democrat state Sen. Eric Stewart 128,500 (56%) to 101,944 (44%). So far this year, no Democrat has emerged as a candidate. So this will just be replacing one wingnut with another wingnut.

Ron Barber, a right-wing Democrat, has a pitiful voting record that is sure to deflate Democratic voters. He's foolishly banking on attracting Republicans with his Republican voting record, but the GOP candidate, Martha McSally, he just managed to beat by a nose (143,173- 141,771) in 2012 is probably running again-- and this time Obama won't be on the ticket to draw Democrats to the polls.

Mike Coffman also just scraped by in 2012 (47.8% to 45.8%) but this year he'll be facing popular former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a blue-leaning district. (Obama won CO-06-- which includes Littleton and Centennial south of Denver, Aurora east of Denver and Brighton north of Denver-- 51.6%- 46.5%.) The DCCC is all in on Romanoff and this is considered a "must win" top priority race for them.

As for the two nearly extinct Blue Dogs, this is what Stuart Rothenberg had to say in his report for Roll Call:
Two incumbents who were almost given up for dead (politically, that is) last cycle but survived-- Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina-- are likely to face stiff challenges again. Either or both could move to the top of the vulnerability list next year.

Democratic partisans may pooh-pooh the danger to both incumbents in 2014, noting that we have heard reports of their problems before and saying that if the two Democratic congressmen won with an unpopular (in their districts) president on the ballot, they certainly can win again against the same opponents in 2014.

Republicans can counter that unsuccessful 2012 Utah Republican nominee Mia Love didn’t run nearly as good a race as GOP strategists had hoped, and she’ll likely have a better campaign-- and be a better candidate-- in a rerun.

The same, of course, could hold for the unsuccessful GOP nominee against McIntyre last year, David Rouzer. Rouzer, then a member of the state Senate, lost to McIntyre by a mere 654 votes in 2012.
Both McIntyre and Matheson vote with the Republicans on crucial issues as a default position. Matheson has the single worst voting record of any Democrat in Congress this year-- a ProgressivePunch score of 21.05, tied with right-wing GOP freaks like Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) and worse than 14 other Republicans, including... crackpots Louie Gohmert (TX) and Phil Gingrey (GA) and Staten Island Mafia figure Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm! McIntyre scores a 38.89, also worse than Grimm! The sooner these two are gone from the Democratic House caucus, the better off the Democrats will be.

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