April 13, 2006

WANTING YOUR CONGRESSMAN NOT TO BE A CROOK AND WANTING HIM TO NOT BE A REPUBLICAN ARE UNRELATED:

Democrats Face Uphill Battle to Retake House (Jonathan Weisman, April 13, 2006, Washington Post)

An 18-month recruitment drive by the Democrats has produced nearly a dozen strong candidates with the potential for unseating House Republicans, but probably not enough to take back control of the House absent a massive anti-incumbent wave this fall, according to House political experts.

Democratic leaders have been heartened by the quality of the candidates they have recruited to challenge vulnerable Republicans in congressional seats in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and they insist that there is a strong chance they can narrow the Republicans' 30-seat majority. Their efforts are being helped by widespread public dissatisfaction with Congress and with President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, a situation that has driven down the Republicans' approval ratings to less than 40 percent.

But Tuesday's special election north of San Diego to fill the seat of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) showed that the Democrats face an uphill battle to pick up seats even in districts where the Republicans have their backs to the wall.


All that matters as far as the President's number is the price of gas. Hard to see how that matters in House races.


MORE:
Muddled Outcome for Both Parties in California Primary (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 4/13/06, NY Times)

The race to succeed former Representative Randy Cunningham, a California Republican who pleaded guilty to corruption charges, took a complicated turn for both parties on Tuesday after a crowded primary in which a Democrat came in first, but did not win enough votes to escape a runoff.

The muddled outcome left Democrats and liberal activist groups cheered by the strong showing of the Democrat, Francine Busby, a school board member, but debating whether to pump significant resources into the June 6 primary. The district is strongly Republican — President Bush drew 55 percent of the vote there in 2004 — and Ms. Busby, in winning 44 percent of the vote, benefited from a splintered field that included 14 Republicans. [...]

Democratic officials said they remained wary of expending political capital or funds in a race that, on paper at least, appeared daunting. They have taken pains to keep some distance from it in an attempt to make it harder for Republicans to portray a Democratic loss there as a repudiation of corruption as a campaign issue.

Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, declined to say how aggressively Democrats would help Ms. Busby, but did note that his Republican counterparts had spent heavily in advertisements against her.

"I never play my strategy out in the papers," Mr. Emanuel said. "You can say this: They spent $400,000 in a safe Republican district, to hold her to 44 percent."


In other words, she got exactly what you'd expect based on the '04 presidential and an open seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 13, 2006 7:24 AM
Comments

And less than the Democrats hoped, as she was able to run on the "Culture of Corruption" theme and it still didn't give her a boost.

It will be interesting to see if they keep to that theme into the fall.

Posted by: Mikey at April 13, 2006 8:07 AM

If Cynthia McKinney, Alan Mollohan, and William Jefferson are under indictment soon, there will be no mention of corruption by the Dems.

Mollohan is the senior Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 13, 2006 9:28 AM

Also in the primary for the 35th State Senate district in Orange County (special election to fill the vacancy left by the State Senator who was elected to replace Christopher Cox in Congress) both Republicans got more votes than the Democrat. The Republicans got 77% of the vote.

Posted by: Earl Sutherland at April 13, 2006 9:36 AM

Key to the San Diego runoff will be if there was either any deep-seeded hostility between the Republican candidates in Tuesday's election that would keep the supporters of the loser from coming out to support Bilbray in the next round of voting, or if the ex-congressman has done anything in the past to irk his natural GOP voting block within the district. Absent those two, Busby faces an uphill road to get that final 7 percent of the vote.

Posted by: John at April 13, 2006 10:37 AM

Smoke-filled rooms choosing candidates worked far better than primaries in putting the best candidate on the ballot and avoiding nasty intramural fighting. A JFK legacy that's lasted far longer than his dynasty.

Posted by: erp at April 13, 2006 10:44 AM

So Bush won 55% in 04. Can we presume that Kerry got 45% then, or does the district include a higher than avg % of nutters -- Randian libertarians, Greens etc?

Can we say that the dem just about ran even with Mr. Kerry in the district?

Love to see my congressperson Mr. Emanuel spinning so wildly on this. In reality, he must've just about lost his lunch when this result came in.

Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics has a good analysis of this particular house election.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 13, 2006 11:01 AM

I think that the House race in 04 broke 56/44 Republican, so basically everyone who voted for a Democrat in 04 voted for a Democrat and everyone who voted for a Republican in 04 voted for a Republican.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 13, 2006 11:12 AM

"they insist that there is a strong chance they can narrow the Republicans' 30-seat majority."

The MSM has been crowing for months now that the Republican majorities are in serious trouble, and so they've set the Dems up for a major letdown. So what's going to happen after the Dems don't take either side of Congress in Nov? The whackos will yet again claim that the Dems need to move to the left. Tee-hee.

Posted by: b at April 13, 2006 12:06 PM

I'm not sure people care if their own congressman is a crook; they just want everybody elses' to be honest.

Posted by: Mike Earl at April 13, 2006 2:00 PM

Or the whackos will complain that "they couldn't get their message out."

Posted by: Brad S at April 13, 2006 2:24 PM

C'mon. If the Dems don't realize their fantasies come November, it'll be because the Cheney-Bush cabal stole the elections nationwide. (Except here in the Upper Left Washington, where Ron SIms and Dean Logan have already made sure that Cantwell wins.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 13, 2006 4:22 PM
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