"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”


Saturday, June 23, 2007

NM-01: New USAGate Testimony Likely to Hurt Wilson

New Mexico's First Congressional District is a quintessential swing district. Heather Wilson, the GOP incumbent has never received more than 55% of the vote in her re-election campaigns. When revelations about her role in the USAGate attorney firings became public early in 2007, her hold on the seat through the 2008 election became more precarious. This is one of the top three Western targets for Democrats as they work to expand their House majority.

#2) NM-01: Wilson [wiki] (PVI D+2) (RR = Lean GOP)*
  • Democratic Line-Up: ONE declared challenger (for more info about Martin Heinrich's campaign is here) with at least TWO more rumored to be considering making a run at unseating Wilson
  • Incumbent Running? Probable (Wilson does not have a 2008 campaign website)


"Blue District"makes Wilson a perennial target: This is one of two Western districts (with WA-08) carried by Kerry in 04 currently held by a Republican. Dems hold a wide advantage in registration (46-35%) and is one of the truly swing districts in the West. Martin Heinrich's efforts to build a strong, well-financed campaign to oust Wilson can be found here. Former NM Attorney General (and 2006 NM-01 nominee) Patricia Madrid has not made a decision about the race.

USAGate exposes Wilson to ethics questions: Wilson's role in the firing of New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias has resulted in a larger "bull's eye" on her back going into 2008 as witnessed by the DCCC's HeatherWilsonWatch.com website. Her political mentor, Sen. Pete Domenici, a long-time New Mexico institution, has watched his approval ratings plummet in the state since the phone calls became public. Wilson was once considered the 'heir apparent' to replace Domenici in the Senate upon his retirement. Now, both find themselves as politically wounded "damaged goods" in the state and many observers view a Wilson run for Senate as a non-starter. She will have an even more difficult time holding on to this seat.

Congressional Testimony Worsens Wilson's position: The political fortunes of both Wilson and Sen. Pete Domenici deteriorated when US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testified this past week before the House Judiciary Committee. McNulty expanded on his previous testimony, acknowledging that an Oct. 4, 2006, a phone call by Sen. Domenici (R-N.M.) complaining about the performance of then-New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was a factor in his later decision to not raise objections over Iglesias’s name remaining on the firing list. He did not disclose the influence of Domenici’s call during his February testimony. This new testimony can't help Wilson's re-election chances in New Mexico, where the story has generated tons of media coverage.


AZ-01: Dems Lining Up to Take on Renzi

If the Democrats heed Horace Greeley's advice in 2008 and "Go West" to expand their majorities in Congress, they start in Arizona's sprawling first district. An ethically challenged incumbent, a Democratic registration advantage in a state where the Dems picked up two seats in 2006 combine to make this district one of the top three Western targets.

#1) AZ-01: Renzi [wiki] (PVI R+2) (RR = Lean GOP)*
  • Democratic Line-Up: THREE declared challengers with SEVEN more rumored to be considering entering the race
  • POSSIBLE resignation, due to ethics/legal probes
  • PRIMARY challenge possible (three rumored challengers)

  • Demographics Favor Dems: The sprawling First District is a race Dems should be able to win, as Democrats hold a registration advantage (40-35%) in the district and they held Renzi to 52% in his 2006 re-election effort, despite Renzi's huge financial advantage over Dem '06 nominee Ellen Simon.

    Incumbent Corruption Top Issue: Renzi is the target of an ongoing FBI investigation. When the FBI raided his family business offices in late April, he resigned his seat on the House Intelligence Committee. Not surprisingly, Renzi makes CREW's list of 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress and it remains unclear as to whether he plans to run for another term. Regardless, local Democrats are lining up to challenge for this seat, including Winslow Mayor Allan Affeldt, Flagstaff attorney Howard Shanker, and Arizona journalist Mary Kim Titla have all declared their intention to run. In late May, CQPolitics provided a full roster of potential candidates including AZ state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, lawyer Jim Ledbetter, businessman George Cordova, and former Casa Grande Mayor Bob Mitchell.

    Possible Resignation: Immediately after the FBI raids, some GOP leaders considered Renzi's troubles serious enough to lead some to urge Renzi resigning as their best hope to retain GOP control of the seat. These rumors have died down in recent weeks as the FEC cleared Renzi of some of the ethical questions hanging over his head. Back in April, the Phoenix Business Journal listed state Senate President Ken Bennett, state Sen. Tom O'Halleran and state Rep. Bill Konopnicki as possible Republican replacements if Renzi was forced from office. Two months later, it appears Renzi is determined to hold onto the seat and has dug his heals in. If Renzi does resign, the Arizona governor would call for a special election that would result in a primary within 75 - 100 days of his resignation.


    WA-08: Burner Likely to Get Primaried in 2008

    If the Democrats are going to match their 2006 House gains in the West, the suburban Seattle Eighth District of Washington is one they will need to win. Darcy Burner, the 2006 nominee may face opposition from a former Republican in a primary. This week, local progressive bloggers are calling for Democrats to rally around Burner.

    #3) WA-08: Reichert [wiki] (PVI D+2) (RR = Lean GOP)*

    • Democratic Line-Up: '06 nominee Darcy Burner is running again, and may face a primary challenge from 1-2 other Democrats
    • Incumbent Running? Yes

    A Blue District in the Pacific Northwest: This suburban Seattle District, along with NM-01 is one of two western districts Kerry won in 2004 currently held by the GOP. Darcy Burner came within 3 points of unseating Reichert in 2006. According to reports in the Seattle Times' political blog Postman on Politics, two challengers, state Sen. Rodney Tom and state Rep. Christopher Hurst are contemplating a primary challenge. Tom recently switched party ID, prior to his most recent election.

    Progressives are supporting Burner: The Northwest Progressive Institute writes on June 22 that Burner is the more progressive candidate - and urges Democrats to reject Tom's possible candidacy - and makes a strong argument regarding Burner's chances in a rematch with Reichert. They have this to say about the possibility of a Hurst candidacy:

    "As for Representative Chris Hurst, the other Democrat rumored to be mulling a possible run – he would be extraordinarily wise to decide against it.

    Hurst, who was the prime sponsor of an unsuccessful bill last session to foolishly reenact Tim Eyman’s Initiative 747, is neither a true progressive nor a strategic thinker (if he was, he wouldn’t have worked so hard to give Tim Eyman and the right wing a free victory). Hurst will not be able to piece together the kind of campaign that Darcy has (and Tom won’t be able to either, for that matter).

    The 8th, which has never been represented by a progressive Democrat, is ready to send one to Congress. It's turning blue, but it can't be taken for granted. It will only be won by a Democrat with candor, trust, and faith in progressive values. That candidate is Darcy Burner.

    If the primary choice comes down to a recently converted former Republican and a progressive who nearly knocked off the incumbent in 2006, my hope is to see the progressive win the 2008 Democratic nomination.


    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    FL Jan 2008 Primary: State Dems vs. DNC

    From today's St. Petersburg Times it appears the Sunshine State Democrats are not backing down in their battle with the DNC over the seating of Florida delegates at the party's convention next year in Denver. Under party rules the DNC could cut the state's delegation by 50%.

    The state Dems find themselves in a bind created by the GOP-controlled state legislature, who moved the primary date for both parties to Jan 29, 2008, jumping ahead of the Feb 5th start date approved by the DNC in 2006.

    One of the DNC committee members who voted in favor of the 2008 nominating process, Diane Glasser of Broward County, is quoted in the story, "I think it's atrocious, what they're doing to us. They can't disenfranchise our people."

    The state GOP must be enjoying this.

    According to the article, Democratic activists are up in arms over the possibility four million Florida Democratic voters could be denied a voice at the national convention. It's apparent the state Dems are playing hardball because they know they've got the power.

    "The bottom line is, Florida is the largest swing state in the country and Democrats must compete in Florida from a position of strength," said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton.

    If the Sunshine State Democrats get their way, how many other states will reconsider and leapfrog into January 2008? Michigan is already poised to jump. Could others who are further back - or even those scheduled for Feb 5th change? Regardless, the nominating calendar is lurching toward chaos.

    Is this any way to select our nominee?

    Cross-posted at MyDD.

    NM-Sen - Dem to Declare Candidacy - Is He Saving Bill A Seat?

    New Mexico PR consultant Joe Monahan breaks the news this morning about a Democrat jumping into the race to oust Pajama Pete Domenici from the Senate in 2008. Santa Fe real estate developer Don Wiviott is dedicating $400K to his election effort. According to Monahan, Wiviott's raising money online through Act Blue, but I couldn't locate a page for the nascent campaign.

    Perhaps the most interesting question posed by Monahan is whether or not Wiviott, a friend of Gov. Bill Richardson, is simply acting as a placeholder for the Governor if he opts to make a Senate run if his presidential campaign sputters. Apparently, many NM Democrats attribute the lack of a high-name ID candidate in the race (thus far only environmentalist Jim Hannan is the only declared candidate - with AG Patricia Madrid and NM-03 Rep. Tom Udall still on the sidelines) to date is due to the idea that Bill may jump into the race, and sail back into Congress.

    Monahan reports Wiviott announced his plans to run during this week's Take Back America confence and is in DC putting together an experienced campaign team. Check out Joe Monahan's New Mexico for all the details.

    Will update with more info about Wiviott and the race to unseat Pajama Pete as soon as it's available.

    NM-Sen wiki.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    A Second Helping of Top Chef

    Episode #2 - America's Top Chef Miami

    It's Wednesday night, 10PM and I've settled in to feed my reality TV addiction. Guest Judge this week is Norman Van Aken.

    Quickfire Challenge Round is about "Sunshine & Citrus." One thing is certain: the colors on these dishes are certainly going to be brighter than last week's rattlesnake and liver.

    There are two contestants - Hung and Tre - who are already rubbing me the wrong way. They're exuding confidence and they've decided they're the two favorites in the competition. Hung reinforces my dislike when he says of the other contestants in the Quickfire round, "I looked around the kitchen and I saw some 'slummy' dishes."

    Quickfire Results:
    The Bottom Three - Sara, Sandy, and Micah (she won last itme)
    Top Three - CJ, Hung and Tre (shit, maybe they are the favorites) and Hung wins, and he graciously says, "I was thrilled & I didn't expect anything less." The dislike deepens.

    The Sunshine Theme continues with the Elimination Challenge - the thirteen chefs will be cooking at a champagne bbq party thrown by Lee Schrager., South Florida's premier party planner and caterer.

    On the menu: Brian is doing his 'seafood sausage' - which raises eyebrows among the competitors. Tre, who plans a salmon dish steps up to vie with Hung for the title of most arrogant in Miami by declaring, "I'm a serious competitor and I don't lose."
    Sandee is doing a lobster panchetta..hmmm, as a barbecue?

    Meanwhile, Micah is grumpy- is it the loss in the quickfire? or does she miss her daughter? Hung, again winning sympathy points comments, "don't use your daughter as an excuse as to why you're crying." Can this guy really be this obnoxious? Or are the producers manipulating me into disliking this guy?

    Sara is using scotch bonnets hot peppers that are making her hands burn. She's never prepared them before and is surprised at how spicy they are. Now, this doesn't seem like a wise move. Prep time ends, they're off to the posh digs to get some sleep before tomorrow's big competition.

    The BBQ is poolside. They've got two hours to fire up the grill and prepare their dishes. Sara has never started a barbecue. These people are chefs?

    Lead Judge Tom Caliccio stops by to check in on the contestants. The only one exuding confidence seems to be ....Hung.

    Sandee doesn't seem to be using the BBQ - Chef Tom is worried she might be "trying to put lipstick on a pig." That's not a good sign.

    And the guests show up. Micah seems to have impressed. Lia serves cilantro shrimp with couscous. CJ has a NY Steak with baked pineapple. Brian has done well with the seafood sausage, as witnessed by the sizeable crowd gathered around his grill. Tre- peach bbq glazed salmon. A woman response is "bleeped" out. Hmmm. Maybe he's not as talented as he believes he is? Howie's dish tastes like sawdust. Doesn't look good for Howie.

    Hung serves flank steak with grilled corn salad. Joey throws a fit that Hung 'has stolen' his watermelon shooter drink.

    The BBQ ends and we're heading to the Judge's Table.

    During the commercial break, the interactive text question this week is announced: Who is this season's biggest drama queen? Micah, Joey, Hung or Howie. Well, if it was, "who do you like least?" I might consider voting.

    Judge's Table - the consensus seems to be that all the food was good. Hung was having a blast today. Tre's wasn't impressive. Sandee's wasn't really BBQ.

    Favorite's include Brian's seafood sausage. Sara's dish was "two perfect mouthfuls." Micah impresses, too. They're the Top Three. Who wins? Brian captures the idea of an upscale barbecue. He's relieved and excited after last week's finish in the bottom four.

    The bottom four, facing elimination this week: Howie, Joey, Sandee and Tre.

    Wait - Tre? Haven't we been told he's one of the favorites?

    Why are they here?

    Tre - my dish was salty. Chef Tom lets him know some guests thought it was either underseasoned or oversalty. No consistency in the dish.
    Joey - Padma asks: "What were you thinking?" The dish was missing the 'upscale' component required in this challenge
    Sandee - is shocked she's here. Tom tells here she didn't BBQ. The lobster only tasted like vanilla butter. It didn't meet the challenge.
    Howie - maybe my dish was a little too simple. And the pork was dry. It wasn't my best day. I haven't cooked to my potential yet. My money is on Howie being sent home this week. He barely escaped last week.

    Who should go: Joey names Howie. Howie lashes back. Catfight ensues in the kitchen. The profanities start flying.

    Meanwhile, the judges center on the idea of the challenge - and upscale BBQ. Sandee didn't BBQ. Joey's dish was BBQ - it wasn't good. Howie shot himself in the foot tonight. What's the bigger sin? No BBQ? Or not upscale enough?

    In the end, Padma utters the dreaded words, "Sandee, Please Pack Your Knives and Go."

    Will Bush Shut Down the Federal Govt?

    Apparently, someone at the White House swept the shredded paper off the Oval Office floor, taped the pieces together and discovered the President of the United States actually has a Constitutionally-approved power called the VETO.

    The President, like any four-year old with a new toy, is mesmerized by this gadget and promises America he's going to play with it night and day. Saturday night, at a GOP fundraising dinner (I know, I'm incredulous, too, - apparently there are still people out there WILLING TO PAY MONEY to have dinner with this man??!!), Bush declared of his newly discovered magic marker with super powers:
    "If the Democrats want to test us, that's why they give the president the veto. I'm looking forward to vetoing excessive spending, and I'm looking forward to having the United States Congress support my veto."

    Being "The Deciderer" wasn't enough. He now wants to be the "VETOER."

    The GOP's campaign to reign in Congress' out-of-control spending and pin the blame for the budget deficit on the Congressional Democrats has begun.

    Democrats must have felt comfortable in the corner they got boxed into during the Iraq capitulation. Because here they go again. Might as well get comfie there, folks.

    Could it be that someone over at the White House told Dubya the tale of how Bill Clinton's political fortunes rebounded following his budget showdown with Gingrich back in 1995? While there's a big difference between Clinton protecting popular programs from the conservative budget cutters and Bush reigning in pork and unecessary spending, both goals are popular with the general public.

    Sadly, the Bush message "Congress is bad & the president is the public's last line of defense against wasteful spending" is an easy sell in a soundbite world. If you don't believe it can work, just look at how CNN is reporting the earmarks story. Democrats are suddenly responsible and it's resonating here among Kossacks.

    The budget showdown is already underway. The White House has let it be known they are planning on vetoing the Homeland Security bill because the $37 billion passed by the House exceeds Bush's request by $2.1 billion. And the Dems don't have the votes to overide it.

    That's just the beginning.

    According to Robert Novak's June 18 article titled "Bush's Veto Strategy" Dubya has promised to whip out his handy-dandy new toy NINE times and VETO all but three of the dozen appropriations bills heading toward his desk this summer and fall.

    Yes, he's planning on vetoing everything BUT Military Construction & Veterans Affairs; Legislative Branch; and Financial Services & General Govt. Novak writes (emphasis added):

    Of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2008, only three will be signed by the president in the form shaped by the House. What's more, Bush correctly claimed he has the one-third plus one House votes needed to sustain these vetoes. The unpopular president is taking the offensive on fiscal responsibility. After bowing to Republican demands on earmarks, Democratic leadership face a battle of the budget.

    Bush was the first president since John Quincy Adams not to exercise his veto power during a complete four-year term, even though the Republican-controlled Congress was on a spending spree.

    --snip --

    The first appropriations bill to be vetoed, Homeland Security, raises spending 14 percent over the previous year, compared with 7 percent requested by the administration. Bush also objects to this measure because it applies higher wages under the Davis-Bacon Act to workers covered by the bill.


    Bush next plans vetoes of the Energy-Water and Interior-Environment bills. The remaining vetoes would be on Labor, HHS, Education; Transportation and HUD; Commerce, Justice and Science; Agriculture and Rural Development; State and Foreign Operations (partly because the House bill omits the so-called Mexico City anti-abortion language) and Defense.

    According to Novak, House Republicans led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) have secured the support of 147 members pledging to support the Bush vetoes. That's one more than they need.

    GOP strategists believe reclaiming the mantle of financial responsibility is the quickest way to regain voters' support in critical swing states and is the winning strategy to retain the White House in 2008. Novak's article concludes by predicting the Bush veto assault "will trigger an epochal political struggle in the months ahead."

    What makes me think there soon may come a day when we look back on Dubya's use of Signing Statements as the "good old days?"

    Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

    WY-Sen: GOP Presents Freudenthal 3 Choices

    Late Tuesday, the Wyoming Republican Party decided on their final three choices to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas. They whittled the field from 71 Republican applicants (that's quite a few considering WY is the nation's least populous state!) during a day-long party committee meeting.

    Under Wyoming law, Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal must name a Republican to the vacancy - unlike in most other states where the Governor has the freedom to choose a replacement from any party. Not surprisingly, each candidate is conservative, according to local media - and the GOP committee members who decided on the Final Three - Tom Sansonetti, John Barasso and Cynthia Lummis.

    Freudenthal has five days to make his choice - and the newly-appointed Senator will serve until the next regularly scheduled election (November 2008). The Casper Star Tribune provides further details:

    "The final three will not lobby the governor as they did the central committee members," Sansonetti said.
    "It's the governor's choice," Sansonetti said at a press conference after the meeting adjourned."I expect the governor to ask me how I would perform," he said.
    While they share the same core values, Lummis said no one understands health care as much as Barrasso, no one has the federal experience like Sansonetti, and she has extensive experience as a legislator and treasurer.
    Lummis acknowledged she and Freudenthal did not get along well during his first term, but she believes he will be fair in his choice.

    This means Wyoming voters will be voting in two Senate races in 2008 as well as the At-Large Congressional seat. Rep. Barbara Cubin came close to losing her seat in 2006 - the result of some serious campaign stumble. She eked out a victory over Gary Trauner, who is running again in 2008. (WY-At Large wiki) Considering her husband has health problems, it remains an open question as to whether she will run for re-election. If she steps down, Trauner's challenge becomes more difficult.

    Wyoming - along with Idaho and Utah - is one of the three most Republican states in the country and the chances of a Democratic win in any of these races is a longshot, particularly in a presidential election year. Sen. Mike Enzi is a virtual "lock" to win re-election. But, if Freudenthal were to run against the candidate he selects this week, it could be a long-shot opportunity for WY Democrats.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    GOP Redefining '06 Election, Pt 3: "Will Ike, Tony or Ross Win in 2008?"

    Will the next president be like Ike (Eisenhower), emerging as an attractive and experienced presidential choice to a nation weary of war?

    Or will the winner in 2008 redefine their party as Britain's Tony (Blair) did in the mid-1990s, establishing the foundation for a new governing majority in America?

    Or will a third party choice arise similar to Ross (Perot's) 1992 populist-driven candidacy, scramble the political matrix, and attract enough support to enable a candidate to win the White House with less than 45% of the popular vote?

    These three wildly different scenarios were proposed recently by an influential political scientist as possible precedents for the 2008 presidential contests.

    Join me below the fold to learn more.

    This is the third of three posts reviewing conservative political scientist Michael Barone's cover story, "Open-Field Politics" in the current issue of The National Journal, in which he engages in a comprehensive effort to reframe the political outcome of the 2006 midterm elections.

    Tragically, the Congressional Democrats' current timidity and lack of leadership show his efforts (combined with many others in the Right Wing's noise machine) are succeeding.

    How did the Democrats move so quickly from November's euphoria over our historic victory to the place we are today?

    I believe the answer can be found in Barone's article. Especially when you realize what's missing from the article.

    The Democrats have accepted these "facts" about the 2006 midterm election results:
    1. The electorate was rejecting GOP incompetence but NOT conservative ideology
    2. The Democrats DO NOT have a mandate on any issues (other than Iraq & corruption) because the 2006 election was an "idea-free" campaign
    These two "facts" are simply not true. But, because they have already become the "conventional wisdom" - particularly among the chattering classes of the DC cocktail circuit - the Democrats are on the road to failure.

    For a complete analysis of the article, please see the preceding posts:

    Part I: The Myth of the Bitter Divide, 1995-2005 discusses the revionism necessary to create what is widely accepted as political doctrine today: for a decade, America was an evenly divided nation. The Red Team vs. The Blue Team

    Part II, "Why Do We Allow GOP Pundits to Define Our Victory?" looks at how Barone (and any other skilled propagandist) can look at hard numbers and spin them to tell the story they want.

    An historic victory is dismissed as meaningless. The newly minted majority believes it has no power. And the conservative movement envisions its resurrection and prepares for another usurption of power.

    Part III: Is the Precedent for 2008 Eisenhower, Blair or Perot?

    All of this brings us to the last part of Barone's article - his "predictions" for the 2008 presidential contest. He reviews the current state of both the Democratic and Rebublican nomination battles (I'll spare you the details) and arrives at the conclusion 2008 is a wide open "presidential race different from any other recent presidential race."

    He looks for historical precedent "to advance three possible scenarios for the 2008 results," specifically Tony Blair, Dwight Eisenhower and Ross Perot. He writes:
    The Blair Scenario. In the early 1990s, Britain's Conservative Party was regarded as nasty but competent. Then in September 1992 Britain was forced to exit from the European Rate Mechanism; interest rates and mortgage payments shot up, and the Conservatives' reputation for economic competence vanished. The Labor Party went ahead in the polls, to remain there until 2006, an impressive 14 years. Under the leadership of Tony Blair, New Labor, as he called it, won a sweeping victory in 1997. The House of Commons shifted from 343-273 Conservative to 419-165 Labor. Prime Minister Blair's party won a similarly sweeping victory in 2001 and won by a slightly reduced margin in 2005.

    In this scenario, the reader might assume Barone is envisioning the Democrats as poised for a long-term majority. Of course, Barone argues this isn't happening because the Democrats have rapidly been moving toward the left over the past six years. On top of this, the Republican candidates are all distancing themselves from the incompetence of the Bush administration and its policies. It's important to Barone's basic points:

    1. The Democrats are too liberal for a conservative America - and by listening to their base, they're moving further from the mainstream (wait, didn't we just WIN an election? - oh, no, the Republicans LOST, that's it)
    2. The failures of the Bush Administration are limited to the individual and not a result of the conservative ideology
    He's reinforcing the message that the Democrats only hope is to move toward the center (and infuriate their base) and he's innoculating the Republican Party from the disease that is BushCo.

    Barone's actually making the case that THE REPUBLICANS ARE DOING THE REBRANDING.

    Goebbels would be proud.

    The Ike Scenario. In 1952 the United States was mired in a deadly conflict in Korea -- a conflict that took 10 times as many lives as Iraq has and that President Truman could not end. There emerged a candidate with a record of making life-and-death decisions in war: Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike captured the Republican nomination from "Mr. Republican," Robert Taft, and then defeated a refreshing new face from Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, who had little military experience. At a time when Democrats had a big advantage in party identification, Eisenhower won the election solidly, and Republicans captured small majorities in both houses of Congress.

    So, who is "Ike" in Barone's 2008 race? He suggests Rudy (he commanded a police force of 40,000 Barone tells us) or maybe McCain. Of course, none of the Democrats have the military background and gravitas necessary to fills Ike's shoes, with the possible exception being Richardson's foreign policy experience.

    As far as I'm concerned this scenario is the least likely of Barone's three fantasies. Neither McCain nor Giuliani is advocating ending the Iraq fiasco and are members of the party responsible for launching this war. Now, if Wes Clark were to jump into the race this might be a viable scenario.

    There is no "Ike" in this race.

    This brings us to the most probable scenario, especially with today's news about Mayor Bloomberg. has changed his party registration from (R) to independent and his

    The Perot Scenario. In February 1992 a short billionaire from Texas told CNN's Larry King that he might run for president. Perot had enough money (he ultimately spent more than $60 million of his own money) and enough celebrity to make an independent candidacy plausible. What made Perot appealing to voters tired of stale, bitter division were his calls for reform and an end to partisan wrangling.

    The newly-independent Bloomberg has reportedly set aside $1 BILLION of his own fortune (rumors started by the Moonies at the WA Times, so, we have our large grain of salt nearby, of course) to finance a run for president. (What are we Italy, for crissakes??!!! Who does he think he is, Berlusconi???). Rasmussen recently offered analysis of Bloomberg's potential to affect the presidential race. This week, SurveyUSA released polling numbers showing Bloomberg's entry would hurt Giuliani more than Hillary in nine of the sixteen states polled regarding hypothetical two-way and three-way matchups.

    Barone's Perot scenario doesn't identify the beneficiary of a strong third party candidacy in 2008. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he made yet another omission.

    And the only thing I can say is a third party candidacy will make an already interesting race more fascinating and entertaining.

    I don't think I made myself enough popcorn for this feature, folks.

    Cross-posted at Daily Kos , ProgressiveHistorians, and MyDD.

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    CA-24: Turning The Color Purple?

    The number of competitive congressional districts in California is extremely short. Our politicians have perfected gerrymandering and "incumbent protection" into an exquisite artform here in the Golden State. This explains why California voters will likely see another Redistricting Reform Ballot Initiative (currently, there are FOUR competing proposals in Sacramento) in February 2008 when we participate in the Tsunami Tuesday National Primary.

    But, since we're stuck with the current system of "incumbent protection" for the time being, are any of the 20 GOP-held seats vulnerable beyond the ethically-challenged trio of Doolittle, Lewis & Miller?

    An article in Monday's LA Times reports open space advocate and former Ventura Mayor Richard Francis is considering entering the race against Elton Gallegly.

    Could he turn the district blue? Or at least purple?

    It won't be easy. Let's face it - the 52 Congressional Districts rarely switch party control. The one 2006 switch - 11th District Democrat Jerry McNerney's defeat of Richard Pombo was made possible by a "perfect storm" of incumbent corruption, the national anti-Republican sentiment, netroots support, and a coalition of green groups targeting America's #1 environmental villain brought Pombo's congressional career to an end.

    When the California Democratic Party scans the list of 20 GOP-held seats searching for their top targets each cycle the list typically includes those with ethical clouds hanging over their heads. John Doolittle (CA-04), Jerry Lewis (CA-42), and Gary Miller (CA-44) all represent Republican constituencies but are ripe for picking, especially if 2008 is anything like 2006.

    An April ScrippsNews article "A New Day for Democrats?" reported the CDP is expanding its focus beyond the ethically-challenged:

    Last fall's congressional elections, in which Democrats took control of the House of Representatives by unseating 21 GOP incumbents nationwide, have caused the party to re-examine its chances of competing in districts once considered un-winnable.

    "In a lot of these districts, the numbers just don't work," said Roger Salazar, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. "But there are opportunities for us all over the place as long as we can give voters a good alternative. If candidates haven't delivered for their constituents, they don't have a chance. But if you've got a candidate who's delivered, then people begin to look at the individual instead of just the party."

    One of the "possibly purple" districts is CA-24, (CA-24 wiki) a Ventura/Santa Barbara district. Party registration in the district favors the GOP 44-34, but 20% of voters are registered as DTS (declined to state), possibly putting this district in play in a presidential election year.

    Richard Francis' local prominence as a slow-growth advocate and green positions could resonate with district voters, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

    Gallegly's backing of the Iraq war and his record on environmental issues could make the 11-term representative vulnerable with crossover voters who want the war to end and are worried about the effects of global warming, they argue.

    Francis, the author of Ventura County's popular slow-growth laws, Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, would be the most credible challenger to face Gallegly since 2000. In that year, Ventura lawyer Michael Case finished 13 percentage points behind Gallegly."He has name recognition because of SOAR.

    He's working on a traffic issue in Oxnard right now. And he's a former mayor of Ventura," county Democratic Chairman Bill Gallaher said of Francis. "He's out there with popular issues that seem to be supported in the area."

    But Francis, 58, busy with a bustling law practice and an Oxnard traffic initiative campaign, isn't sure he's ready for the hard fight of unseating an incumbent. It would be an uphill, but not insurmountable, challenge, he said.

    "I could do it," he said. "It seems like it's the year. I almost feel an obligation to run. But I'm not quite there yet."

    While Gallegly has announced his intention to run, whether he follows through remains to be seen. In May 2006, he announced his retirement from Congress, only to change his mind days later, apparently responding to White House pressure. Calitics reports (big h/t to dday) he has also publicly stated he isn't enjoying being in the Congressional minority and this may play a factor in his decision to run in 2008.

    So, it's now up to the netroots to convince Francis to throw his hat in the ring. If "Googly Gallegly" is thinking of retiring (again), an open seat could be ours for the taking!


    Cross-posted at An Enduring Democratic Majority and DailyKos.

    CO-04 Paccione Seeks Netroots Support - She Deserves It

    This past Saturday Angie Paccione, Democrat running to unseat Marilyn Musgrave in CO-04 (wiki), liveblogged over at Firedoglake. She may face a primary battle, as Betsy Markey and Eric Eidsness are considering runs. In my opinion, Paccione is the progressive voice and the best chioce to defeat Mad Marilyn in 2008.

    Paccione mounted a surprisingly strong challenge to Musgrave in 2006, coming within 2 1/2 points of the second term congresswoman.

    Why is this race important?

    In addition to appearing on CREW's list of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress, Musgrave is perhaps best known for her virulent and tireless assault on LGBT rights in this country. She is the primary House sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would enshrine discrimination and bigotry into the Constitution.

    Here is what Angie had to say about the issue during last year's campaign:

    "All are created equal. Equal. I stand for equality for all American citizens. Equality. No asterisks. No parentheses. Every American should have equality under the law."

    Amen, Angie.

    Local bloggers are on a "Muskrat Hunt" to defeat Musgrave in 2008. They're watching every vote and holding Musgrave accountable.

    An independent video from last year's campaign asks the voters in Colorado, "Have you had enough?"

    To help Angie show Marilyn the door, click here.

    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    GOP Redefining 2006 Election, Pt 2 - A New Majority?

    This is the second of three posts analyzing Michael Barone's cover story "Open-Field Politics" in the current issue of The National Journal. In the article Barone, lead author of the Almanac of American Politics, is working hard to rewrite history, diminish the importance of the 2006 midterm results, and resurrect the Republican Party.

    It is important to note that Barone, a conservative political scientist, has undue influence on shaping the worldview of the 'Inside the Beltway" crowd. He claims to be the first pundit/political commentator to describe America as a 49% nation - a country evenly divided between two partisan factions. Through his writings in US News & World Report and The National Journal (not to mention his appearances on Fox News) he presents his conservative "spin" on election results, typically hyping Republican advances and diminishing Democratic gains. Often, these ideas become the conventional wisdom of the DC political class.

    Why is this important?

    When Democrats accept Barone's conservative framing of the political power balance, it leads to failure. Our confidence falters. Our leadership loses its way.

    As stated in the previous post, Barone's article should be viewed as part of the ongoing effort to redefine conservatism and distance both the movement and the Republican Party from the failures of the Bush presidency. Glenn Greenwald discussed the GOP's efforts to repudiate George W. Bush as a real movement conservative two weeks ago.

    Let's look at the "story" Barone tells about the midterm election in "Open-Field Politics."

    In Part I: The Myth of the "Bitter Divide," 1995-2005, I examined Barone's omission of critical events (September 11th) and strategies that facilitated the creation of a Republican-friendly frame by establishing the following:

    1. America has been bitterly and evenly divided between two parties
    2. The conflict is rooted in the "culture wars" (guns, gays and abortion)
    3. It is unclear as to which party is to blame, although if the MSM and American public believe the issues of guns, gays and abortion are the cause Democrats are likely to be blamed by swing voters

    Part II: The 2006 Midterms - A New Majority?

    Barone states "the 2006 election was at least somewhat different" from the five national elections that preceded it. Somewhat? Let's review the facts: Both houses of Congress switched party control, the Democrats won six of the seven closest Senate races, the margin between the victorious Dems and the defeated GOP in house was 6 points (similar to the margin in the 1994 GOP "Revolution) and not one Democratic incumbent lost their seat, an unprecedented feat.

    How does this add up to somewhat different?

    The numbers are difficult to deny, but Barone tries.

    The Democratic capture of the Senate last year owed something to luck, as is often the case; Democrats won six of the seven closest races, and their candidates won in Montana and Virginia -- both long shots at the start of the year -- by a total of 12,891 votes.

    The defeat of six incumbent GOP Senators is simply glossed over. These GOP defeats are not described as a repudiation of Republican incompetence or the Iraq War. Nope. It was merely luck.

    Barone looks at the voting patterns of various demographic groups and there is not a single bright spot for the Republicans, except the ongoing participation and support they received from evangelical and born-again Protestants.

    According to Barone's review, the bad news for Republicans is everywhere:

    1. The GOP lost support across the ideological spectrum, most significantly among independent voters
    2. Democrats defeated GOP House incumbents even in strong Bush districts when they ran strong campaigns (hey, there's that Fifty-State Strategy thing working again!)
    3. The labor movement's GOTV effort was extremely successful
    4. The new voters who contributed to a surge in voting in 2004 appear to have switched from Bush voters and supported Democrats in the 2006 House races

    Despite this widespread GOP collapse, Barone states,

    "The election was more a verdict on competence than on ideology, and it gave the Democrats an opportunity but, on most issues at least, not a mandate. (emphasis added)

    As the liberal columnist E.J. Dionne wrote, Democrats got their votes on loan. It was a negative verdict on the conduct of the military struggle in Iraq and on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. It was a negative verdict on a Republican Congress that seemed casual about corruption and complacent about wasteful spending. It was a clear victory won after a campaign that was conducted largely in an idea-free zone."

    This is a very important and dangerous point. Democrats accept this message at their own peril.

    Before I review the "lack of mandate" and "negative verdict" statements, I must point out Barone's cynical and misleading use of E.J. Dionne's writing to validate his conclusions. The wording of the excerpt above implies that Dionne makes these same observations. But, this is not the case. If you click on the link contained in the article, it takes you to the RealClearPolitics online posting of Dionne's Nov 9, 2006 opinion piece. The headline of the piece at RCP is indeed, "Democrats Won With Votes on Loan." But, there is a disconnect between the article's title and content. Here is what Dionne actually writes:

    American voters, in their wisdom, ended an era on Tuesday. They rejected a poorly conceived war policy in Iraq that has weakened the United States. They rejected a harshly ideological approach to politics that cast opponents as enemies of the country's survival. They rejected a president so determined to win an election that he was willing to slander his opponents by saying: "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses.'' The voters decided there was no decency in that.

    No longer will the national tragedy of 9/11 be used as a political currency. No longer will Democrats cower and invoke Karl Rove's alleged genius as an excuse for their mistakes. No longer will learned commentators be able to assert that conservative Republicans form a "natural governing majority,'' that swing voters aren't important, and that independents and moderates don't matter any more.

    -- snip --

    But many of the party's successful candidates ran as moderates, and Democrats hold power on the basis of a loan of votes from middle-of-the-road Americans who simply could not stomach Bush Republicanism anymore. The loan can be recalled at any moment.

    The good news for Democrats is that their candidates, moderates and liberals alike, ran on two common themes: that the Bush Iraq policy had to change, and that the Washington Establishment simply does not understand the personal struggles and economic insecurities confronting so many Americans.

    While Dionne describes the votes Democrats received from swing voters in 2006 as a loan, it is hardly the central point of his article. So, I thought I'd look at how it was headlined in Dionne's paper, The Washington Post, and, lo and behold, the WaPo has a far different - and more accurate - headline: Meeting at the Middle.

    So, Barone incorporates Dionne into supporting his analysis, essentially using a headline that Dionne may have never seen to imply the two pundits reached the same conclusion. See? Barone isn't spouting conservative spin. He's just reinforcing the bipartisan consensus.

    Now, back to dissecting Barone's conclusions: "The election was more a verdict on competence than on ideology, and it gave the Democrats an opportunity but, on most issues at least, not a mandate...Democrats got their votes on loan."

    On the surface the claims made here seem quite reasonable. In fact, I'd argue that they are already generally accepted in the DC political cognoscenti circles, if not the nation at large. But, let's be clear, the development and dissemination of this view is designed to hamstring the Democrats in Congress.

    Let's look at three problematic components of Barone's review of the 2006 midterms:

    • The election was about Republican incompetence and not ideology. Yes, it was primarily about GOP mismanagement, but it was also about ideology despite Barone's claims. If we define ideology as how we view the role of government in our society, then one could argue the GOP's approach of a smaller government reliant on a private/public sector partnership has been rejected. While many Americans may not be paying enough attention to connect the dots, FEMA's incompetent and tragic response to Hurricane Katrina was a result of this ideology.
    • The Democrats may not have a mandate on most issues because the campaign was run in an idea-free zone. The 2006 campaign was dominated by Iraq and the multiple Congressional scandals. On these issues Democrats did receive a clear mandate from the voters. This "lack of support" mantra also ignores polling data. Rasmussen Reports' tracking polls show the public trusts Democrats over Republicans on all ten key issues facing the nation today. Media Matters' recently released report "The Progressive Majority" effectively dispels the belief that America is a fundamentally conservative country. And, one other thing: wasn't it the GOP spinmeisters telling us prior to the election that House races are always about local issues? Didn't they deride the Democrats' efforts to nationalize the election? The voters knew what they were voting for when they gave the Democrats the majority.
    • The election was a negative verdict on the GOP; Democrats got their votes on loan. Every election provides the nation to issue a verdict on the incumbent party's performance. When parties get ousted from power, it is usually a result of a "negative performance review" issued by the electorate. As far as this idea the Democrats got their votes "on loan," I respond: Isn't this true of every election, especially when we're talking about the all-important swing voter? Isn't convincing the middle-of-the-road voter you can do a better job than the other guy what campaigns are all about?

    Six months into a Democratic Congress approval numbers are plummeting into the basement. Much of this can be attributed to the Democratic leadership accepting and operating within the frame created by Barone and his colleagues in the conservative spin machine.

    The American electorate voted for change. Thus far, the Democrats are failing to deliver.