Why Darrell Issa Should Be A DCCC Top Priority... Instead Of Another Chairman Steve Israel Gives A Free Pass To Reelection
Last year, Darrel Issa skated to reelection, winning back his seat (CA-49) 139-127 (59%) to 97,454 (41%). There are parts of two counties in the district: Orange County, where he won 66% and, San Diego, where he won 56%. There's more than twice as much San Diego in CA-49 as Orange County. Does that seem too hopeless to tackle? Let's look a little closer.
In 2008, Obama and McCain basically tied, although Obama officially won the district by a few votes. Last year Romney did better than McCain, besting Obama 52-46%. The PVI is R+4. Half a dozen Democrats won in districts that had PVIs of R+4 or worse.
Issa, who began his professional career as a car thief and commercial arsonist, is the richest man in Congress. He spent $1,115,222 on his campaign last year. His opponent, Jerry Tetalman, spent $127,720. The DCCC spent exactly nothing in the race-- zero. The only outside help Jerry Tetalman got was from the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council: $111.
I live up the road from Issa's district, way up the road in Los Angeles. But his district reminds me of a district abutting my own back in the 90s-- CA-27. Republican Carlos Moorhead represented the Pasadena-centered district for over two decades. It had started turning bluer and Moorhead retired in 1997. A right-wing extremist, James Rogan, won the seat-- but with just 50.1%. He was reelected once-- and then made a fatal error. He became a high-profile manager of Bill Clinton's impeachment, Democrats were furious and the DCCC weighed in on behalf of the Democratic candidate, Adam Schiff. And Schiff won-- 53-44%. The district (CA-28) is solidly Democratic now and Schiff, a mediocre congressman, at best, was reelected 154,348 (76%) to 49,501 (24%). It's only a matter of time before Issa's district goes the same way.
A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that the DCCC establish a special category for Republican targets-- a category based on how hated the incumbent is-- the way Rogan was hated in 2000. Probably the most hated incumbents in Congress are John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Bachmann (who's retiring, so we'll leave her out of this discussion), Darrell Issa. Boehner and Cantor have very difficult districts for Democrats, respectively R+15 and R+10. Issa and Ryan are much more vulnerable, respectively R+4 and R+3.
I think Rachel makes the case in the video above why the DCCC should stop protecting evildoers like Issa-- particularly Issa, as a matter of fact. Are they recruiting a candidate who could make some headway in 2014 and then, if he or she comes up short, win in 2016? That's how it's done. Too bad Pelosi picked a congenital loser to run the DCCC.