Thursday, November 25, 2010

Getting Ready For 2012: A Couple of DCCC Turkeys


In 2005-'06 Rahm Emanuel was looking for Republican held congressional districts he felt were ripe for the plucking. Two rules of thumb in the Beltway party election committees are that open seats are the best bet and that any incumbent who scored less than 55% in his last reelection bid is fair game. But Emanuel had two aces up his sleeve that went beyond the rules of thumb, one was a red district in Florida, FL-16 (R +2), and one in a red district in North Carolina, NC-11 (R +7), respectively the seats held by Mark Foley and Charles Taylor.

Emanuel had some inside information-- and he traded on it. He was aware that the GOP cover-up of Mark Foley's sexual exploits with underage congressional pages was unraveling and he was aware that uber-corrupt bankster Charles Taylor's shenanigans with a shady Russian bank with KGB connections were going to make him unelectable. Emanuel went into recruitment mood. He (and Hoyer) drove a progressive school teacher, Dave Lutrin, out of the Florida race and persuaded an extremely sleazy conservative Republican millionaire, Tim Mahoney, to switch his voter registration and file for the seat as a Democrat. Then he convinced a Knoxville realtor and ex-ball player, Heath Shuler, to change his plans from running a hopeless race as a Republican in Tennessee and run as a Democrat in the easy race against Taylor instead.

Mahoney and Shuler both won their races-- and both opposed the Democratic agenda and spent much of their time on the other side of the aisle with their ideological brethren. Mahoney's career was cut short because he was almost as much of a sexual predator as the Republican he replaced. Shuler is one of the chairmen of the Blue Dog Caucus and spends his time undermining Democrats and progressive policies. He rooms with arch conservative religious fanatics Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and Joe Pitts in the notorious C Street House described in The Family and was one of the 40 Democrats who voted more frequently with the GOP in the past two years than with his own party.

My point: planning is important-- and we can't just leave it up to monsters like Rahm Emanuel. For whatever reason-- most people suspect pressure from Hoyer-- Nancy Pelosi just selected another right-of-center, corrupt Democrat to head the DCCC, Steve Israel. He's been adept at squeezing money out of corporations and executives eager to buy influence in Congress-- and since being elected in 2000 he's worked hard to steer House Democrats away from a progressive agenda. He voted for the Bush tax cuts, for Medicare Part D, for the attack of Iraq and he's worked closely first with the Blue Dogs and then with Republicans in the House Center Aisle Caucus he founded. And now he's expected to head the organization that's supposed to defeat the people in the Center Aisle Caucus?

Targeting and recruitment in 2012 is going to be key to Democrats recapturing the House with a majority dedicated to passing progressive legislation for the American people, not just guaranteeing bigger offices and better parking spots and easier access to bigger "contributions" for DC careerists who call themselves Democrats. It's too important to leave it to insider hacks like Emanuel, Steve Israel and their cronies.

I'd like to go over 15 congressional districts that look interesting for Democrats-- only some would be a waste of time and some should be top priority. These are seats with freshmen Republicans who won extremely close races:

AL-02- Martha Roby beat Blue Dog Bobby Bright 111,332 (51%)- 106,465 (49%). Now that is close and DCCC rule of thumb would dictate doing everything possible to get Bright to run again and then pour in the cash. And I have no reason to believe that that is exactly what Steve Israel will do. It's a waste of time and energy. Here's why: the district only gave Obama 36% of the vote in 2008. It is a hopelessly red district. Bright accrued the single worst voting record of any Democrat in the House, voting with the GOP far more frequently than with Democrats. His ProgressivePunch score is a dismal 19.67-- more conservative than that of 4 conservative Republicans, Tim Johnson (R-IL), Ron Paul (R-TX), Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Walter Jones (R-NC). This week 4 Alabama Democrats in the state legislature, "Democrats" in the same sense Bright is a Democrat, jumped the fence-- days after being reelected-- and joined the Republican Party, giving the state legislature of super majority of Republicans. Democrats in the counties in AL-02 who turned out in force for Obama did not show up 3 weeks ago for Bright... and why should they have? And it will be a lot harder for him to make a case in 2012 that his white Montgomery and suburban base should vote for him because he hates Nancy Pelosi while he gets African-American rural voters to vote for him because he's slightly less horrible than Martha Roby. Watch Israel fall right into this mess. The DCCC wasted around $2 million in this district this year.

CO-03- Scott Tipton eked out a narrow 126,227 (50%) victory over Blue Dog incumbent John Salazar whose total was 114,763 (46%). In the 2006 midterm Salazar beat Tipton 129,833 (61%) to 78,318 (37%) and in 2008-- while Obama lost to McCain with only 47% of the vote-- Salazar maintained his margin of victory over another Republican 203,455 (62%) to 126,762 (38%), winning all 29 counties in the district except Mesa and small, rural Delta, Jackson, Montrose and Rio Blanco. This year the Republicans came out to vote again-- but Salazar's Democratic and left-leaning independent supporters stayed home. Almost 80,000 of his 2008 voters didn't show up, while all the 2008 GOP voters did. The DCCC spent $1,192,722.15 in Independent Expenditures in the district and CO-03 will be a major target again, especially if they can get Salazar, a more moderate Blue Dog than Bright, to run again. Remember Bright's 19.67 ProgressivePunch score? Salazar's is 58.06-- night and day.

IL-08- Brian Walsh took out the Chamber of Commerce's #1 ally inside the House Democratic Caucus, New Dem leader Melissa Bean, 97,403 (49%) to 96,850 (48%). In a district just north of Chicago, where Obama won with 56% in 2008, it was one of the closest calls in the country. Bean had one of the most Republican ProgressivePunch scores of any Illinois Democrat (48.39); only big loser Bill Foster voted more frequently with the GOP. It's likely that she'll get a job as a K Street lobbyist now and won't run again. If that's what happens this would be a perfect target district for a Democrat campaigning on a platform of helping middle class families instead of Big Business and the super-wealthy, the only constituents Walsh-- and Bean-- care about.

IL-10- Robert Dold managed to hold Mark Kirk's very blue seat for the Republicans against 3-time loser Dan Seals, 108,518 (51%) to 103,512 (49%). Obama massacred McCain here, winning with 61% in 2008 but despite a humongous $1,746,828.70 investment from the DCCC I.E. Committee, it slipped away again. Seals lost to Kirk in 2006 97,249 (53%)- 84,625 (47%) and by the same margin in 2008. This should have been the year. Seals even won in Lake County this year (unlike 2008) but the Cook suburbs did him in again. This district is a perfect target for 2012, but my gut tells me it may be time for the Democrats to consider another nominee. Julie Hamos would have been a better candidate against Dold but Seals beat her narrowly in the primary (48.0- 46.7%).

MN-08- Chip Cravaack took out Jim Oberstar 133,485 (48%) to 129,083 (47%) in a district Obama won with 53%. The DCCC only spent $381,623.37.

NH-02- Charlie Bass recaptured his old seat, abandoned by Paul Hodes for an unsuccessful Senate run. Bass beat progressive champion Ann Mclane Kuster in another of the closest calls in the country, 108,550 (48%) to 104,874 (47%). Obama took the district with 56% in 2008 and this will be a major battleground in 2012. The DCCC spent $968,365.34 in I.E.s this year and probably could have won if they hadn't wasted so much on Blue Dog losers in the Old Confederacy where they had no chance at all. (For all their whining about how they weren't driven by ideology or corruption but strictly by polls, they poured $655,666.31 into a race that pitted Blue Dog Lincoln Davis against teabagger Scott Desjarlais and Davis couldn't even get to 40%! Maybe they should look at which polling company they were using... or at what their real motivations were.) Polls showed Kuster even or ahead for the entire campaign by the DCCC didn't spend the kind of money on her that they spent on more conservative candidates who did much, much worse, like Blue Dog fave Chad Causey in Arkansas ($1,771,176.95) who only walked away with 43% of the vote or conservative Gary McDowell in Michigan ($1,319,440.14) who only managed 41%. Kuster should run again, this time as a top DCCC priority.

NV-03- Joe Heck beat moderate freshman Dina Titus 128,703 (48%) to 126,781 (47%) in a district Obama won with 55%.

NY-25- In a photo-finish 50/50 race-- where the DCCC's vaunted decision by polling resulted in not one nickel being spent to save progressive Dan Maffei-- Ann Marie Buerkle beat him 99,594 to 98,935, even as Maffei won the biggest county, Onondaga (Syracuse) 72,323 (54%) to 62,419 (46%). Even though Obama won the district in 2008 with 56%, the DCCC decision to pour over a million dollars into the neighboring 24th CD to help Blue Dog Michael Arcuri instead of the progressive Maffei-- despite their pious bullshit about being poll-driven-- doomed his reelection. Arcuri only got 47% of the vote.

NC-02- Another close call, this time in a district Obama won with 52% in 2008, Renee Ellmers taking out conservative Democrat Bob Etheridge 91,924 (50%) to 89,829 (48%).

SD-AL- Kristi Noem's close defeat of Blue Dog star/credit card industry shill Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 153,683 (48%) to 146,561 (46%), probably means the Democrats can kiss this seat good-bye for a real long time. Obama lost with 45% in 2008 and this state is going to be a red hellhole for a good long time, although if superficial conventional wisdom swings back towards the Democrats in the next two years it's conceivable Herseth Sandlin could re-take her old seat-- which wouldn't do much to move any kind of a progressive agenda, or narrative, forward. The DCCC spent $402,595.77 this year.

TX-23- Quico Canseco beat moderate incumbent Circo Rodriguez 74,671 (49%) to 67,212 (44%) in one of the Texas districts where Obama beat McCain albeit only with 51%. DCCC spent $877,848.46.

TX-27- Radio talk show sidekick Blake Farenthold beat longtime moderate incumbent Solomon Ortiz 50,954 (48%) to 50,155 (47%), even though Obama won with 53% in 2008. DCCC didn't spend anything on this one.

VA-05- Robert Hurt beat Tom Perriello 119,242 (51%) to 110,566 (47%) in a red district Obama lost in 2008 with 48%/ Perriello managed to maintain an aura of being both progressive and some other catch phrase he uses to describe how courageous he is and how great his values are but he voted more often with the GOP on contentious issues and he lied about his support for Choice. He'll probably run again and lose again. The DCCC spent $593,713.37 on I.E.s in the district and it isn't likely anyone better than Perriello would win, although someone with a sense of personal integrity and honesty would be an improvement.

VA-09- Morgan Griffith beat longtime conservative incumbent Rick Boucher 95,835 (51%) to 86,791 (47%) in a district far less likely to see a Democrat win than VA-05. Obama lost with only 40% of the vote in 2008. DCCC spent nothing to hold it and unless Boucher runs again, will probably not push too hard to win it back in 2012.

WV-01- David McKinley beat conservative Democrat Mike Oliverio 89,915 (50%) to 88,558 (50%), after ethically compromised Democratic incumbent Alan Mollohan decided to retire. The GOP didn't even contest the district-- which Obama lost with a mere 42%-- in 2008 and in 2006 Mollohan beat his GOP opponent 98,759 (64%) to 54,524 (36%). I doubt it's possible, but if a real champion of working families gets the Democratic nomination in 2012, there's a chance the Dems could recapture the seat... if the economy is looking up and the Republicans in general and McKinley in particular, keep up with the destructive obstructionism.

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At 11:09 AM, Blogger Dan Martin said...

You missed an important point - redistricting

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alan Mollohan didn't retire. He lost in the Democratic primary to Mike Oliverio.

At 1:21 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

You're exactly right-- and he's plotting a comeback in 2012


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