Thursday, October 15, 2009

Conventional Wisdom Inside The Beltway Wants To Blame Black Voters For The Coming Blue Dog Losses


It was like when I was in high school and Ken and I would be on the phone late into the night on election day, comparing notes on obscure races no one else either of us knew were even aware of. On May 3, 2008 Ken and I had long since graduated from high school but we were still following obscure races. This one was in Louisiana's 6th CD, where a special election was being held to replace lobbyist Richard Baker. I live-blogged it, and watched with some sense of excitement as Easy Baton Rouge's predominantly African-American precincts came rolling in late in the evening-- rolling in and wiping out, then swamping, the KKK/GOP candidate, Woody Jenkins. Jenkins had been ahead all night. Here were my updates that night:

With 20% of the parishes reporting it's Jenkins with 13,237 (52.7%) and Cazayoux with 10,936 (43.6%).


With about half the precincts counted, Jenkins has 27,457 votes (51.6%) and Cazayoux has 23,308 (43.8%) but... the biggest Democratic precincts of East Baton Rouge haven't reported yet.


The race is tightening as Jackson's primary supporters come in big for Cazayoux. With 121 of East Baton Rouge's 314 precincts now in, it's Jenkins with 29,841 (48.9%) and Cazayoux with 28,350 (46.4%)


Virtually all votes are counted in the KKK-heavy areas and all that's left to count are the Democratic strongholds of East Baton Rouge. Any Klansmen who were breaking out the rum and coke or Pabst Blue Ribbon, hold off. Only 156 of East Baton Rouge's 314 precincts are in and Jenkins can still lose this. Right now it's Jenkins with 34,428 (49.1%) and Cazayoux with 32,400 (46.2%).


The East Baton Rouge precincts are flooding in now and Cazayoux has pulled ahead of Klansman Woody Jenkins.-- 49,312 (49.2%) to 46,282 (46.2%) It is OVER!


Don Cazayoux- 49,702 (49.20%)

Woody Jenkins- 46,741 (46.27%)

One would have to guess that I wasn't the only person watching that Saturday night. I mean at least Don Cazayoux must have been paying attention, no? But maybe not. He went to Congress and immediately made a spectacle of himself as the most conservative, anti-family Dixiecrat imaginable, voting with the Republicans again and again... and again. It seemed in those few months he served in Congress he had only one goal: persuade the voters who had cast their ballots for the Klansman, Jenkins, that he was just as... well... horrible as what they had hoped Jenkins would be. One thing he showed without any doubt is that no one would ever be able to accuse him of catering to the working families or African-Americans who had voted for him.

So, he progressively infuriates the voters from the East Baton Rouge precincts-- the only thing you could attach his name and "progressive" to-- while putting all his eggs in the Republican-light basket. It didn't take long before an African American state Senator, Michael Jackson, was pissed off enough to declare his candidacy for the general election. And that was the end of the idiotic congressional career of Don Cazayoux. How could he possibly expect African-American voters to cast their ballots for him again after he had so blatantly disrespected them? They didn't stay home and they didn't vote for the clownish Republican thing Bill Cassidy (who wiped Cazayoux out, 48-40%). Nope, 12% of the votes, almost all in the East Baton Rouge precincts that had elected Cazayoux to being with, and substantially more than Cassidy's margin of victory, were cast for Michael Jackson. It was a year when Republicans were losing everywhere-- and the 6th was Obama's best performing congressional district in Louisiana outside of New Orleans (also taken by a Republican)-- but Cazayoux was conscientiously evaluated by his constituents, found wanting, and left to the tender mercies of the Republicans he had so assiduously courted.

Now, why bring this up today? Yesterday's Hill tried grappling with some Inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that has it how Democrats are in for a shellacking in 2010 because African-American voters, with no Obama on the ticket, are not going to turn out in the big numbers needed to re-elect shaky incumbents. The words "public option" never appear in the story, nor do the words "health care reform." And yet, African-American voters have always shown that they're savvier than the general electorate and more likely to understand their own interests and use the ballot to reward candidates who are fighting for them-- or punish the ones fighting against them and their families.

At the very bottom of the story-- 21 paragraphs down (of a 22 paragraph story)-- Emory University political scientist Merle Black is quoted, regarding the senatorial run-off election last year between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin. Martin lost by 3% points in the general and by 15% in the run-off. Black offered the novel idea that it can depend on how much a candidate has to offer black voters, and that’s what Democrats will have to work on. "There were efforts to turn them out [in the Senate runoff], but the main driving force is whether voters think candidates are going to do something for them. The difference between Obama and Martin was a chasm."

The Hill identifies a half dozen Democrats representing districts with significant black populations who might suffer if black participation falls off precipitously. “If what looks like is going to happen in Virginia plays out on a national level, I do think Democrats will lose the House,” said Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling.
“We really don’t find that many people who voted Democratic in 2008 are switching sides; they’re just becoming complacent,” he added. “And that’s particularly true with black Democrats, which is the party’s most dependable voter bloc.”

...Reps. Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye both rode into Washington in districts that are nearly one-quarter black. Nye won by 5 percent, while Perriello won by fewer than 1,000 votes.

The third freshman Democrat in the state’s delegation, Rep. Gerry Connolly has a 10 percent African-American district. He said he, Nye and Perriello will be watching the results, but that it’s a yearly exercise in the state to re-evaluate the electorate.

He noted that not only are black voters expected to drop significantly, but so is another key Democratic voter group: young adults.

“That’s a huge change in the composition of the electorate. That’s not easily made up on the run,” Connolly said. “So, yeah, we’re watching the electorate, but this is not a new phenomenon in Virginia.”

Many other freshman Democrats come from districts with black populations similar in size to Nye’s and Perriello’s, including Alabama Reps. Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith, North Carolina Rep. Larry Kissell and Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus. Many of the rest come from districts with about 10 percent black populations, like Connolly’s.

“It’s going to be hard to get African-Americans to vote without Obama, but there’s going to be lower turnout across the board,” said a consultant who works with candidates in the former group.

No distinction between candidates (like Bright, Nye and Griffith) with voting records that no self-respecting working family-- black or white-- would want to see re-elected and members who have been true to the principles and values they ran on, principles and values embraced by most African-American voters. Tom Perriello has been an excellent representative for working families, regardless of color. Many African-American voters, like working people across all demographics, are watching to see which congressmembers oppose meaningful health care legislation. It isn't lack of interest that could wipe out conservative Democrats like Bright, Griffith and Nye but anti-family votes on health care. Arguably, Parker Griffith is the worst Democrat in the House, certainly at least as big a disappointment for working families, for Democrats and for African Americans as Don Cazayoux was. And he is doing exactly what Cazayoux tried-- courting angry, low-info, reactionary whites whose natural home is the GOP. If I had to bet on one Democrat losing in 2010, it would certainly be Parker Griffith and if black turn-out is blamed, it will be something to feel proud of.

Gerry Connolly isn't exactly my idea of a great congressman but he's a moderate, not a reactionary Blue Dog. Watch him fending off a radical right Republican and a laughably biased Fox propagandist while defending the public option for his working class constituents. This-- not Parker's promise to vote with the GOP against Nancy Pelosi-- is what will turn out black voters for Democrats:

Now, speaking of reactionary Blue Dogs who don't deserve any support from African-American voters, Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross is not just egregiously corrupt but has also played an especially destructive role in the health care debate. He's consistently conspired with Republicans to block reform. Now that that has become fodder for the newspapers back home-- as has his corruption scandal-- and now that his chances to win re-election are rapidly dimming, Ross is rethinking his position on health care.

A quarter of Ross' constituents in southern Arkansas are African-Americans. Overwhelmingly they strongly support President Obama's calls for meaningful health care reform. Ross didn't have an opponent in 2004 and he didn't have an opponent in 2008. (In 2006 the Republicans thought they could fool someone by running an architect from El Dorado named... Joe Ross. Joe scraped by with 25% of the vote.) The spokesman for the Blue Dog caucus on health care is now telling reporters that he actually favors... single payer!!!! That's right, one of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress says he wants to open up Medicare to the uninsured. What a joker!

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At 12:22 PM, Anonymous me said...

"The Coming Blue Dog Losses"

God, I hope so.

We need to get rid of those rotten motherfuckers even more than we need to get rid of the scumpublicans.

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