Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blue Dog Hunting-- Primaries vs The General Election


Yesterday Nate Silver jumped head first into what he called political nerdery. Right up my alley. He rated Democrats according to 10 key votes and then ranked them according to how much their districts lean Republican. I wasn't surprised to see embattled progressives like Alan Grayson (D-FL), John Hall (D-NY), Steve Kagen (WI) and Mark Schauer (D-MI) rise to the top of the heap; all three won very tough elections in GOP-dominated districts and have stuck to their progressive beliefs. Nor did it surprise me to see Artur Davis (AL), John Barrow (GA), David Scott (GA), Lipinksi the Younger (TN/IL), Mike McIntyre (NC) among those scraping the bottom of the ratings barrel. We've been warning Democrats about this bunch for years.

But what did startle me was how Nate finds so much admiration for so many Democrats who have been fairly consistent in their aisle crossing-- like Bart Gordon (TN), Ike Skelton (MO), Jim Matheson (UT), Jim Marshall (GA), Chris Carney (PA) and Frank Kratovil (MD). Coincidentally we've been having a discussion at DWT about what to do about Kratovil. Unlike Barrow, who has an excellent progressive primary challenger, Regina Thomas, Kratovil will face a borderline fascist the GOP is putting up against him. And yet Kratovil's record in Congress is hideous. I posted about this-- and him-- at Daily Kos yesterday and got a spirited defense of Kratovil from a Maryland Kosack, oceanstar 17. He makes the point that because of a 2000 gerrymander that dumped every Republican from several districts into MD-1, "Kratovil is the best Democrat who can win there right now."
MD-1 is an R+13 district. It takes in the most conservative exurbs and suburbs of Baltimore and the entire Eastern Shore. There is NO other Democrat who could hold onto that district except for Frank Kratovil. And, should anyone else except for Andy Harris win the GOP nomination, it will be a fight for him to hold on.

I want to compare Barrow, who Blue America is committed to defeating in a primary, and Kratovil, who Doug is considering defeating... period. Barrow is in a Democratic district with a PVI of D+1 and, according to Nate's calculations he hugely underperforms his district. Kratovil actually overperforms his R+13 district (in Nate's world) pretty significantly. I'm not certain how much it matters (to me). Both men are consistently pushing the Democratic caucus rightward and wrecking any chance for something like single-payer to even get onto the table. And when it comes to votes, all Nate's fancy calculations don't hide the fact that both of these creeps, for example, voted against healthcare reform. Barrow voted against choice in a pro-choice district and Kratovil voted for choice (against the Stupak amendment) in a much less safe environment. When the clean energy bill came up for a vote, same thing happened: Barrow was a no and Kratovil, in a far less safe district, took the huge political risk of voting "yes," although it should be noted that Maryland Republicans are notoriously pro-environmental (unlike Georgia Republicans who are absolutely committed to raping and pillaging the earth).

On the other hand, it seems to me that, replacing a reactionary Blue Dog with a progressive or even a real moderate, is a lot better than replacing a reactionary Blue Dog with an even more reactionary Republican. Imagine Regina Thomas working for the interests of working families instead of John Barrow selling his ass to every single K Street lobbyist who waves a check under his snout. Imagine Marcy Winograd rising to a leadership position inside the wussy progressive caucus and helping Grijalva, Edwards and Grayson kick some ass and forge them into a sword of steel, replacing Jane Harman, one of the most dishonest hacks and servants of the Military Industrial Complex on either side of the aisle. Are those kinds of victories enough to send the Democrats a message they'll understand? Or do they have to lose to Republicans? I'll long remember the bloody hatred in Rahm Emanuel's eyes when I sidled up to him at a bar a few days after the Maryland primary and offered to help him get rid of more Al Wynns and replace them with more Donna Edwardses. He got a message alright. He-- not to mention acolytes like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Patrick Murphy and Chris Van Hollen-- didn't pay it much heed. And that leaves us back at the dilemma. I'm afraid it's going to take us months to reach a conclusion and even then, it's going to be a case by case situation. But that last link above, the one about sending Democrats a message... if you agree with the proposition that we should concentrate-- at least for now-- on replacing Blue Dogs with real Democrats, please consider going in there, lookin' around and maybe leaving a little something.

Labels: , , ,


At 1:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regina Thomas - excellent on the issues, but is she really an excellent candidate? I was not on the ground there for her last challenge to Barrow, I was just a donor (I gave a significant amount for me), but I got the feeling that she didn't work hard enough. Is my impression wrong?

While my heart says to jump in again, I really need to know that she's got the fire in her to do what it takes to win. If you can explain why you're convinced of her candidate chops, then please explain. Thanks!


Post a Comment

<< Home