Thursday, October 10, 2013

How The Ghost Of The Center Aisle Caucus Will Keep The House In Republican Hands No Matter What Polls Say About How Much People Hate GOP Extremists


No one's afraid

For the Democrats to take back the House and put an end to fanatic Tea Party excesses, the DCCC has to wrest at least 25 seats away from GOP incumbents (or win in open red districts). That's because it's likely that several Blue Dogs and New Dems who have disappointed their constituents-- particularly Mike McIntyre (NC), Jim Matheson (UT), Scott Peters (CA), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and John Barrow (GA)-- will lose reelection efforts. Right now the DCCC has 15 "Jumpstart" candidates they're backing. These are Steve Israel's priorities so far:
Ann Callis (IL-13)- vs Rodney Davis (even)
Kevin Strouse (PA-08)- primary battle (R+1)
Michael Eggman (CA-10)- vs Jeff Denham (R+1)
Pete Aguilar (CA-31)- primary battle (D+5)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)- vs Steve Southerland (R+6)
Domenic Recchia (NY-11)- vs Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R+2)
Andrew Romanoff (CO-06)- vs Mike Coffman (D+1)
Staci Appel (IA-03)- vs Tom Latham (even)
Erin Bilbray (NV-03)- vs Joe Heck (even)
Pam Byrnes (MI-07)- vs Tim Walberg (R+3)
Jerry Cannon (MI-01)- vs Dan Benishek (R+5)
Jennifer Garrison (OH-06)- vs Bill Johnson (R+8)
Rocky Lara (NM-02)- primary battle (R+5)
John Lewis (MT-AL)- open seat (R+7)
Martha Robertson (NY-23)- vs Tom Reed (R+3)
There are a couple of exceptions-- Martha Robertson and Erin Bilbray stand out-- but this is a pretty mediocre bunch of garden variety Democrats. One, Jennifer Garrison, is probably the worst candidate ever recruited by the post-Rahm DCCC. You can read all about her anti-Choice, antigay, anti-environmental, anti-minimum wage and pro-NRA/pro-coal agenda here but that isn't even what I wanted to talk about today.

Today's discussion is Steve Israel's incompetence as DCCC chairman based on his putrid targeting and recruitment. Garrison is in an Ohio district with a PVI of R+8, the reddest district of any of his candidates so far. Obama scored 43% there last year and the Blue Dog Israel ran, former Congressman Charlie Wilson, got 47%. Wilson's strategy was to unify Democrats and win over independents and moderate Republicans. He didn't win over moderate Republicans or do all that well with independents, although he managed do united Democrats behind him. Garrison is one of the most hated figures in the Ohio Democratic Party and much of the Democratic base doesn't want anything to do with her. In the past she was able too steal Republican votes by being further right than Republicans. I doubt she'll be able to to that with incumbent Bill Johnson.

But Garrison is hardly Israel's only wretched recruit. Israel left the right-wing Blue Dog caucus when he decided to get into the House Democratic leadership but he still bends over backwards to recruit Blue Dogs and New Dems and do all he can to discourage and disadvantage progressives. Great example in Michigan: he recruited a former Guantanamo commander, Jerry Cannon, in a northern Michigan district with a PVI of R+5 and where Obama scored only 45% last year. After spending around $1.3 million attacking incumbent Dan Benishek last year, the DCCC's Blue Dog candidate came close… but there are no runner-up prize's in elections.

South of MI-01 are two districts that, at least on paper, are far more inviting targets and one very similar:
• MI- 06- Fred Upton (R+1)
MI-08- Mike Rogers (R+2)
MI-04- Dave Camp (R+5)
The big difference is that these three galoots, unlike Benishek, a hapless backbencher, are powerful committee chairmen. Upton wrecks the environment as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rogers is a pawn of the Military Industrial Complex in his role as chair of the Intelligence Committee; and Camp enables plutocrats and Big Business at the expense of ordinary working families as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. And there's one other thing these 3 Boehner allies have in common: all of them are friends of Steve Israel. More than friends, in fact. Have you ever heard of the Center Aisle Caucus?

When David Broder first wrote about the determinedly centrist Congressional Center Aisle Caucus in 2005, he almost ejaculated for joy on the editorial page of the Washington Post over the sheer civility of the project. I wonder why they didn't make him an honorary member. Broder claimed there were 47 invited members (which later grew to 60), roughly equally split between the two parties, although that membership roll isn't readily available anywhere, almost like it's being hidden. They meet, or met, secretly, in a Chinese restaurant two blocks from Capitol Hill; no joke. The caucus was founded by Republican Tim Johnson (IL) and the-Blue Dog… Steve Israel (NY) with the stated purpose of bypassing Congress' partisan ways.

Applicants for membership weren't admitted unless they recruited companion members from the opposite party. Caucus members avoided lightning-rod issues and focused only on areas that most likely would produce agreement. Under one unwritten bylaw, members vowed never to engage in political campaigns against other members. That's nice… but does it make sense to appoint the person who came up with that chairman of the DCCC? I'll answer that for you-- NO! These are the exact candidates the DCCC should be going after… but regardless of how vulnerable they are, Israel keeps the DCCC off their backs oneway or the other. In a rational world, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen would be a top tier DCCC candidate, but Steve Israel doesn't live in a rational world; he lives in a Center Aisle world and ignores the fact that Ros-Lehtinen is in a blue district that Obama won last year 53-47%. That's a way stronger margin than just about all of Israel's targeted districts. But Ileana gets a reelection free-pass from Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Last year Wasserman Schultz was complicit in recruiting a cardboard candidate, Manny Yevancey who no one ever heard of, who raised zero dollars and who campaigned exactly zero days. His only job was to occupy the Democratic ballot slot so no one else could run against Wasserman Schultz's and Israel's BBF.

There are 21 seats like this in the House, winnable seats Steve Israel willfully ignores, even if they are much easier than impossible targets in deep red districts where he can run his handpicked Blue Dogs and New Dems. All of these incumbents represent districts where Obama won in 2008 and/or 2012 but where Israel has refused to back the grassroots local candidate or has frightened off anyone from running against his Republican pals:
NJ-02- Frank LoBiondo- D+1
MI-06- Fred Upton- R+1
WA-08- Dave Reichert- R+1
FL-27- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- R+2
PA-06- Jim Gerlach- R+2
MN-03- Erik Paulsen- R+2
PA-07- Pat Meehan- R+2
MN-02- John Kline- R+2
PA-15- Charlie Dent- R+2
MI-08- Mike Rogers- R+2
WA-03- Jaime Hererra Buetler- R+2
VA-10- Frank Wolf- R+2
CA-25- Buck McKeon- R+3
WI-01- Paul Ryan- R+3
MI-11- Kerry Bentivolio- R+4
IL-06- Peter Roskam- R+4
PA-16- Joe Pitts- R+4
CA-49- Darrell Issa- R+4
IL-16- Adam Kinzinger- R+4
MI-03- Justin Amash- R+4
MI-04- Dave Camp- R+5
Can the Democrats win back the House in 2014? In theory, absolutely! With Steve Israel running the DCCC-- out of the question. Thanks, Nancy Pelosi, for 2 more years of GOP nihilistic control of the House.

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At 7:43 AM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

Is it possible for ActBlue to recruit any candidates in these districts?

At 7:44 AM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

Can ActBlue recruit any candidates in the district israel is ignoring?

At 10:52 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

You're mixing up ActBlue and Blue America. ActBlue is a fundraising mechanism for Democrats (which Blue America uses-- here.) Blue America is a progressive PAC that helps progressive candidates win elections. And, yes, Blue America is trying to recruit and to help candidates in many of the districts the DCCC and Steve Israel ignore. If you go to that link above, you will find ONLY candidates the DCCC is ignoring, including several Steve Israel is trying to undermine.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a comfortable thought, but could Mr. Israel be recruiting co-religionists. Lots of people, of all religions, do it.


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