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


Friday, June 29, 2007

NV-03: DCCC Launching Radio Ads Against Porter

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is showing just how serious they are about winning Rep. Jon Porter's Las Vegas area seat in the 2008 elections. Seventeen months before election day (and without a top tier Democratic challenger yet to jump into the race), the DCCC has launched a radio ad campaign targeting Porter's votes on veteran's benefits. Porter is one of seven GOP lawmakers included in this campaign timed to correspond to the July 4th celebrations.

The DCCC states, "Porter voted to cut funding for veterans by $6 billion, while also opposing equipment repair and quality of life enhancements for troops." For full audio of the radio ad can be found here: Fight Back for Veterans.

The Las Vegas Journal Review provides details and Porter's reaction:

The ads are scheduled to be broadcast on KXNT-AM and KWNR-FM. Porter and six other Republicans are being hit with the radio ads, while seven other Republicans are being blasted through automated phone calls and e-mails.

Porter spokesman Matt Leffingwell called the ads misleading. While Porter voted against an amendment to give $1,500 bonuses to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, he later voted for a $5,500 pay increase for military personnel, Leffingwell said.

Leffingwell noted that all the votes referred to in the ads occurred between 2003 and 2006 and were used against him in last year's campaign. "We're glad the Democrats believe in recycling, but recycling the same old talking points is disingenuous," he said.

Porter in 2006 defeated his Democratic challenger, first-time candidate Tessa Hafen, by fewer than 4,000 votes. Leffingwell said the radio ads were a good sign because they showed that Democrats know it will be difficult to defeat Porter.

"They obviously feel that the congressman knows how to run tough elections, and they have to start early in our district," Leffingwell said.

That's an interesting spin from the Porter people. Campaign committees don't choose to jump into a race this early if they think the incumbent is safe, Mr. Leffingwell. Usually, they invest in the races where the incumbent if vulnerable. Porter barely scraped by in 2006, beating Dem nominee Tessa Hafen by only 4000 votes. It looks like the D-trip is aiming to close the gap and win this district in 2008.

And, the video from the DCCC:

Defenders of Wildlife UPDATE (w/video)

This was posted last week. Now, the video is available.

According to the press release announcing the "Heads in the Sands" campaign, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Council provides the deails of the recently launched integrated radio and internet ad campaign targeting Rep. John Doolittle (CA-04), Ken Calvert, (CA-44), Steve Pearce (NM-02), Rick Renzi (AZ-01) and Dean Heller (NV-02).
"Americans want action now on global warming,” said Defenders Action Fund President Rodger Schlickeisen. “But extreme anti-environmentalists in Congress, epitomized by these five, continue to have their heads stuck in the sand on energy policy while taking money from big oil and polluters. We’re launching the ‘Heads in the Sand’ campaign to hold these members accountable to their constituents.”

If the wildlife group replicates its 2006 results, all five should be placed on the "Endangered Species List."

In addition to the high-profile and coordinated campaign against Pombo, "America's #1 Wildlife Villain," the Action Fund targeted 19 more races in the midterm elections as part of their Conservation Majority Project. They won in 14 of the 20 races, helping defeat previously entrenched incumbents in every region of the country.

So, these Western lawmakers should be afraid. Very afraid.

Renzi and Doolittle are targets of ethical and legal investigations, so the added muscle of a coordinated green effort may be the momentum to push them from office. Calvert, who replaced Doolittle on the Appropriations Committee in May, joins Renzi and Doolittle on CREW's list of the 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress.

Heller is a freshman who the NRCC has acknowledged as one of their most vulnerable members, and is included in the ROMP (Regain Our Majority Program). And Pearce's southern New Mexico district has a significant Dem voter registration advantage (48-36%). All of these districts represent an aggressive expansion of the Democratic playing field in our efforts to expand the House Democratic Majority.

The theme of the campaign is "Heads in the Sand" ~ the animated ads have a "Pixar-feeling." This is the one targeting Doolittle:

From the video: "The rising sea stuff, that's like the theory of gravity."

"Could some of you grown-ups talk to this guy? Tell John Doolittle it's time to get his head out of the sand. We need action on global warming now."

To check out the two recent "Global Warming" PSAs created by Defenders of Wildlife, click here.

Race Tracker wikis: AZ-01, CA-04, CA-44, NV-02, NM-02

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ann or Frank - Who is More Dangerous to the Democrats?

This week, two influential Republican media figures garnered attention. Over the years, one has sought notoriety and scandal, while the other has subtly lurked below the radar screen. The former is providing cover for the latter - and Democrats need to understand the danger.

Ann Coulter has slithered her way back from France (yes, believe it or not she vacationed in the land of baguettes and patisseries) to reinsert herself LOUDLY (and obscenely) into the American political dialogue. Frank Luntz, the spinmeister extraordinaire, also surfaced and made waves when PBS announced he would be conducting a focus group during this Thursday's Democratic presidential forum at Howard University. The difference is (and this is big, folks) Ann wants the spotlight while Frank most assuredly doesn't. Sadly, we've given them both what they want.

We should be focusing on Frank and ignoring Ann.

Let me say before I begin: freedom of speech is a paramount -American- human right. I am not advocating that either Luntz (let's call him FLuntz) or Coulter (is there something that rhymes with FLuntz? I'm at a loss...well, let's just call her Ms. Coulter) be silenced or denied their right to express their opinions. I do, however, have a problem with the MSM providing Ms. Coulter a bully pulpit to loudly shout her vulgar and personal attacks while simultaneously whitewashing FLuntz's partisan agenda and presenting him as an objective political analyst.

But, I have to be honest, I'm just as disappointed in the reaction of the progressive blogosphere this week. We've fallen into the trap. Ms. Coulter's outrageous statements attract a majority of the attention, yet FLuntz practically skates.

Watch the video where Bill Maher says, "the people in America are like hamsters" and ask yourself, am I on the habitrail?

Remember, it's not what you say, it's what people HEAR.

Luntz is responsible for redefining the estate tax as the "death tax." And creating the "Global War on Terror" marketing slogans. And advises Rudy Giuliani. What is non-partisan about FLuntz?

You simply gotta love Paula Poundstone and Arianna. Arianna sums it up, "people should stop listening to Frank."

So, why is he going to be on PBS talking about the Democratic presidential race?And, by singularly focusing on Ms. Coulter's obscenities are we playing the fool?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CA-26: Warner Jumps Into Race to Challenge Dreier

Democrat Russ Warner, who ran in 2006 but came up short against Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, is back to win this seat for the Democrats in 2008. Matthews may also be running, but her lackluster general election campaign in '06 left many local progresssive activists disappointed.

The local experts over at Calitics have full details about the announcement and the 2006 race. An excerpt from Warner's press release announcing his candidacy focuses on Iraq:

"I am taking on this fight because the war in Iraq must be stopped and because America needs new leadership not career politicians like David Dreier who have become a part of the problem in Washington, D.C.," said Warner, a Rancho Cucamonga businessman.
"Unfortunately we are represented in Congress by a man who has been there for 28 years, has failed to lead and instead become a mouthpiece and rubber stamp for the Bush Administration's war policy and failed agenda."
The devastating cost of this war was brought home to Warner and his family in a personal way. Warner's son Greg served in the U.S. Army and was sent to Iraq for 17 months.
"My son served this country honorably and witnessed first hand the failed policy in Iraq. His service and his sacrifice inspired me to stand up and speak out, and that's why I made the decision to run for Congress. We need to support our troops by bringing them home, and when they come home, we must ensure they have access to the medical care that they need and deserve," Warner said.

Despite the Republican leanings of the district (GOP registration leads Dems by 44-34), 14 term incumbent David Dreier has won his last two re-elections by 57% (2006) and 54% (2004), surprisingly low totals for an incumbent with tenure dating back to 1980.

There are many factors contributing to Dreier's weakness, including rumors about his sexual orientation and immigration stands that don't endear him to the traditional GOP base.

This is a district California Democrats CAN move to our column.

Help turn this district blue by donating here.

Register to Vote! - California

CA-26 wiki

What Will the Democrats Do About the Wizard of Wyoming?

Cross-posted at Daily Kos and My Left Wing.

The revelations in this week's WaPo series on -Vice- President Cheney finally reveal what many of us have believed all along. The nation should have been paying MUCH more attention to the little man behind the curtain. It turns out, unlike the one in Oz, the Wizard of Wyoming IS great and all powerful.

Now that the rest of America has been awakened to this sinister and unchecked "FourthBranch" (h/t to dday) operating within the federal government what are our Democratic presidential candidates going to do about it?

Glad you asked...let's take a look.

Sadly, there's been mostly silence from our would-be leaders.

A review of the candidates websites was resoundingly disappointing as I looked for substantial reactions from our Democratic Presidents-in-Waiting. To be fair, Sen. Obama did issue a press release yesterday saying:

Chicago, IL June 25, 2007
Chicago, IL-Senator Obama today released the following statement on Vice President Cheney's attempts to prevent public scrutiny of his office.

"Throughout this administration, Vice President Cheney has consistently sought to operate in secrecy and thwart rules designed to ensure the public's right to know how their business is being done. I believe strongly that democracy works best when it does its work in the daylight. In an Obama Administration, we will launch the most sweeping ethics reform in history so that we can restore an open, honest government that finally makes real progress on the challenges facing the American people."

Yes, Senator, fine and dandy. But, WTF are you going to do about the current situation?

Hillary? Silence. Someone on her web development team might want to make the site searchable, I couldn't find a Search function anywhere. Practically every press releaseis about endorsements and polls. (I've got lots to say about that, but I'll bite my tongue for now).

John Edwards? Quite a few policy statements discuss Cheney's role in energy and military policy, but nothing (at least that I could find) about the WaPo series. Biden has some press releases about Iraq & Employee Free Choice. Good, important stuff but nothing about Cheney. Over at Richardson's website it was more of the same. The deafening silence continued on Sen. Gravel's and Dodd's websites.

I thought for sure Kucinich, the sponsor of impeachment articles, would have something to say but the most recent press release is from June 8 - and it's about new campaign television ads. A "search" for Cheney brings up four press releases on the Cheney articles of impeachment Kucinich has proposed in the House, but the most recent is from mid-April. NOTE TO HILLARY - even Kucinich's website has a "search function."

I'm on practically every campaign's email list - and I don't recall seeing any of them mention this - yet. I understand this is the last week of the fundraising quarter and they're focused on the money race, but come on folks. Perhaps the candidates are out on the campaign trail discussing this, but I have a hunch they're not. [of course, if someone has information I've overlooked, please let me know and I'll revise the post]

I wonder to myself, what's missing? Intelligence? Passion? Courage?

Is it intelligence? Perhaps the Democrats don't grasp the seriousness of Cheney's outside the rule of law, behind the scenes manipulations? When Harry Reid said a while back, "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating," he revealed the depth of the Democrats ignorance regarding Cheney. They think it's a popularity contest.

Don't they see? Fourthbranch wanted (and needed) the Democrats to dismiss him as a result of his abysmal approval ratings. While the Dems were telling jokes about his hunting expeditions, Dick was hard at work dismantling our constitutional system of checks and balances, redefining the powers of the executive branch, destroying our military and endorsing -torture- creative interrogation techniques. Now we know what Dick's been smirking about all these years.

The time for "name-calling" has long since past, Senator Reid. Even Dorothy's Scarecrow could understand that. And he didn't have a brain.

Could the silence be due to a lack of passion? The Democratic base is more engaged, enraged and committed than it has been in years - perhaps ever. This has translated into huge gains for the Democratic Party across the nation. But it's unclear (to this observer) that this passion is understood (or shared) by our elected leaders. Like the Tin Man, it might be time to find out if the DC Democrats have a heart.

Or have our "leaders" chosen to remain silent because by acknowledging what's gone on in this administration may lead them to the inevitable conclusion - the Vice President's actions demand impeachment hearings? Clearly, we've got ourselves a pride of Cowardly Lions roaming the halls of Congress and the presidential campaign trail.

We all know how Dorothy and her pals eventually discover their "missing" qualities residing within. And, I'm going to hold out hope the Democrats can find theirs, too.

On Thursday night, all eight of the candidates will gather at Howard University at a PBS-sponsored debate moderated by Tavis Smiley. I'm interested to hear what our candidates have to say about the WaPo revelations.

Now that the Fourth Estate has finally done it's job, it's time for our democratic leaders to do theirs.

CA-04: FBI Targeting Doolittle Aides

Reports in the SF Chronicle about Rep. John Doolittle's former chief of staff cooperating with the FBI's investigation into the Republican's connections with imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff can't be good news. How long will it take the feds to make their case is an unanswered question and lingers over the race in the GOP-leaning district. From the AP report:
The aide, David Lopez, who was Doolittle's longtime chief of staff until 2005 and continued to work on his campaigns after that, has turned over campaign finance records to the Justice Department under subpoena, said his attorney, Bill Portanova.
A different former Doolittle staffer, Kevin Ring, who went on to work as a lobbyist with Abramoff, was already known to be under investigation in the wide-ranging probe. Portanova's comments marked the first public confirmation that prosecutors have been interviewing other former Doolittle aides.

Will Doolittle see the handwriting on the walls and decide to retire in 2008? Or, will he try to hang on, providing a very real chance for Democrat Charlie Brown to win this seat? Time will tell.

Help Dump Doolittle by donating here.
CA-04 racetracker wiki.

Monday, June 25, 2007

OR-Sen: Rumors of A Challenger for Smith Making the Rounds

Oregon State Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown announced Sunday she would be stepping down from her leadership post after nine years. The Salem News reports:

When Brown was first elected Leader in 1998, there were only ten Democrats in the Oregon Senate. Under her leadership, that number grew to eighteen, a solid majority that has enabled the Senate to make monumental strides for Oregon'

It’s been an amazing run, and whatever the future holds, I am committed to continuing the fight to strengthen our great state,” said Senator Brown.

Citing progress on a number of key issues – including increased funding for early education, K-12 schools and higher education; making health care more affordable and accessible; restoring 100 state troopers to protect Oregon’s highways; protecting consumers; investing in renewable energy; expanding the Oregon Bottle Bill; enacting landmark civil rights protections; and passing comprehensive ethics reform – Brown said she leaves her role as Majority Leader with a great sense of accomplishment.

The announcement has sparked speculation about what Brown has in mind for her future, with local blogs suggesting this is her first step in a campaign to become Oregon's next Democratic Senator. It looks like she'd be a solid choice and stand a good chance of knocking off Gordon Smith, one of the most vulnerable Republican Senators in 2008, Today, it's only rumors, but it looks like the race in Oregon might finally be on.

OR-Sen wiki

CA-37: Special Election Tuesday

Voters in California's Thirty-Seventh District (Long Beach, Compton, Carson & South LA) go to the polls on Tuesday in the special election primary to elect a replacement to the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald. As with most CA districts, this is a "safe" seat and no one doubts the Democrats will hold onto this urban seat. The drama is whether a Latino or African-American candidate will emerge victorious. The diverse district is 25% African-American and 20% Latino and the area has long been represented by an African-American in Congress.

According to the LA Times, the crowded field of eighteen candidates (17 will be on the ballot with one write-in qualified) is wrapping up a fast paced six week campaign with two frontrunners, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza and Assemblywoman Laura Richardson. The race is too close to call 48 hours before the polls open. Under California law, if no candidate receives 50% +1 (highly unlikely in such a crowded field) the top Democrat and the top Republican will face voters in the special general on August 21. With Dems holding a huge registration advantage (57% Dem -20% GOP), the top Democrat will be the presumptive new member of Congress.

The Times writes about the shifting power of the LA-area's ethnic communities in a Sunday Op-ed piece:

The contest in the 37th Congressional District, which includes most of Long Beach, Carson and Compton, could be an exception to an unwritten political rule in Los Angeles: Growing Latino political clout doesn't come at the expense of black political power.In a city like L.A., one would expect the city's black and Latino political communities to have clashed more frequently than they have.

Liberalism may be their common ideology, but the economic interests of the black and Latino working classes have at times come into conflict as the Latino presence in the city grew. For example, Latinos have largely taken the janitorial and hotel jobs that blacks held 25 years ago. In the poorest quadrants of the city, violence between black and Latino gangs rages.

And yet L.A.'s black and Latino political elites have tended to avoid conflict more often than not. In the 2005 mayoral election, for example, both groups largely upported the candidacy of Antonio Villaraigosa. Multiracial coalitions have been, if not the norm, at least frequent in city politics — surprisingly frequent. Generally, as once heavily black parts of the city have become plurality or majority Latino, the elites have worked together to limit the possibility of Latino candidates winning elections in districts historically represented by blacks.

Polls are open all day. Will update as soon as results are available.

CO-04: Angie & Eidsness Visit the Blogosphere

Last week I reported on Colorado Fourth District Democrat Angie Paccione liveblogging over at Firedoglake. She drew rave reviews from Down With Tyranny and other progressives for her forthright stands on issues that may not be all that popular in the conservative high plains of eastern Colorado.

It's come to my attention that Eric Eidsness, the 2006 Reform Party candidate who garnered more than 11% of the 2006 vote, also recently blogged. He chose to post over at the local home of Colorado progressives, SquareState. Let's just say, Eidsness was less successful in his attempt to woo netroots support. Kossack Colorado Luis posted on the dialogue and admonished campaign strategists: "His [Eidsness'] post, "Winning CD-4" should be screensaved and shown to every campaign this cycle as the paradigm example of how not to interact with progressive blogs." A sampling of Eidsness' post about the 2006 race:

Supporters believed in my moderate, civil and thoughtful message. No one disputed my ability to communicate effectively, my qualifications or my passion, or my fiscal conservatism and socially progressive ideas. That was evident to those who witnessed the Windsor debate.

Even my service to the Reagan Administration where I enforced three national laws was as a envrionmental professional in the engineering field, not a political hack circling Washington D. C. looking for a position of power and influence. That service seems to be a black eye for me among some die-hard Democratic activists.
I know that there are a vocal few who are mad at my entrance into the race last year as a Reform Party Candidate. Some "blame" me for "spoiling" the race for Angie. That is speculation and really not that relevant to next years race in the CD-4.

However, I will say this, it is interesting that I earned the endorsements of four conservative daily newspapers east of I-25 (Lamar, Sterling, Fort Morgan and Greeley, as well as the Fort Collins Coloradoan. It is for this reason, along with my water, envrionmental(sic), business and national policy experience in the "Reagan Administration", that if I were to earn the Democratic nomination, I would defeat Marilyn Musgrave.(emphasis added)

You have to wonder if he was aware SquareState was a progressive blog? Talk about not understanding your audience. Even before I read Eidsness' nonsense, I felt Paccione deserved our support. We don't need to elect another DINO to Congress. A Reagan environmentalist? Uhm, does anyone remember James Watt?

Let's show Paccione we support her efforts to unseat Mad Marilyn by donating.

CO-04 wiki.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hillary Doesn't Prefer Blondes! More Meaningless News From the Sunday Morning Pundits

Sunday mornings at Chrispy's home have a predictable routine. This week was like most others...until I heard something about blondes...and brunettes...and I soon found myself wondering, "Is this what passes for a real discussion about issues and politics in 21st century America?"

Now, I'm no Hillary fan, but I found myself wondering, is this fair?

For nearly two decades I lived in DC, and I religiously watched the Sunday morning talkshow lineup (Inside the Beltway they conveniently schedule the shows so you can watch one after the other - its the politico's version of NFL football). When I moved to the West Coast, I realized my weekly political junkie fix would be limited (three years later, I still haven't succeeded in locating CBS's Face the Nation). As a result, Meet the Press and the Chris Mathews Show provide my Sunday morning political insider 'spin.'

This Sunday's Meet the Press had a segment titled "Slick Hillary" in which Timmy and the gang talked about Ron Fornier's recent article describing Hillary's political skills as less "slick" but not as "slick" as 'uber-political' husband Bill.

Stop the presses, folks.

Let's be fair here - and acknowledge there are 20 candidates in the field with political instincts that are no match for Bill Clinton. Hillary isn't going to measure up to him, but neither are any of the others.

As far as being "too slick," PBS's Gwen Ifill came to Hillary's rescue by observing,
"Guess what? Almost every other candidate in this race has some sort of 'slickness' which has been attributed to them - from Mitt Romney to Rudy Giuliani to Barack Obama. And guess what? It turns out that that doesn't matter as much to people as the issues which concern them. How are they going to get their kids in school? How are they going to get their healthcare paid for? So, even though it infuriates us - the media... I don't know that there is any evidence that voters are sitting here thinking, 'Well, I don't know what she thinks, I'll have to vote for somebody else.'"
Amen, Gwen.

Oh, but I made the mistake of leaving the TV on too long and wound up catching Chris Matthews and his gang of merry misfits. Misogynist TweetyBird took particular delight in devouring Hillary this week - but it was the WaPo's Kathleen Parker that really shocked me when she commented on a recent front page picture in the WaPo accompanying an article about the role of women in Clinton's presidential campaign by saying:

"It makes a case with a certain demographic, and I noticed the picture on the front of The Washington Post the other day showed her with all these women and her crew, and did you notice, there was only one blonde out of about 15 women, so it sort of -- I thought that was very telling."

The photo in question can be found here. And, yes, there's only one blonde. Not sure what that says about Hillary's qualifications to be president, but Ms. Parker found it noteworthy.

Most troubling is that this answer came during Tweety's line of questioning about Hillary's qualifications to be Commander-in-Chief, which he prefaced by this comment:

OK, let's put the gender thing in here. I love gender politics, guys. We have two women here all the time to make sure we're balanced on this show. But Elisabeth, I know you're a feminist, in the best possible sense of that word. You [Parker] probably are in a more traditional word.

I found myself wondering, "WTF? What does Matthews mean by "you're a feminist in the best possible sense of that word?" And, if Parker's more "traditional" feminism means making vapid observations about hair color, I can only shake my head in utter dismay. Who cares about the hair color of the women on Hillary's team?" I can't believe this passes for political discourse in modern America.

Twelve hours later, as I tuck myself into bed, the late-night local news reports there are 23 million single women in America today. They are likely to be the 2008 version of Soccer Moms and NASCAR dads, the anchor tells me.

"Oh, please," I find myself begging, "don't let them care how many blondes the next president has in their cabinet. "

Can't we do better than this? Doesn't America deserve more?

Weekly Western Roundup - Dems Eager to Oust GOP Incumbents

The Democratic Party's historic 2006 midterm election win in which the Dems achieved control of both the House and Senate was built primarily on victories in the Northeast and Midwest. Only 9 of the 30 House seats and 3 of the 6 Senate seats won were west of the Mississippi.

The Democratic wave that swept out of the Atlantic across New England and the Midwest ran out of steam as it lapped up against the foothills of the Front Range, with the Dems only scoring one Senate (Tester in Montana) and four House (AZ-05, AZ-08, CA-11, CO-07) pickups on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide. (The four seat total requires me to move the Divide a couple of hundred miles east, as CO-07 technically sits on the eastern side of the divide.) Can Democrats score more wins by looking West in 2008? If they aim to expand their House majority, they will need to heed Horace Greeley and "Go West." For the purpose of this Weekly Western Roundup, I'll be looking at developments in House races west of (and including) Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Will The West Be Fertile Ground for 2008 Democratic House Wins?

With only one New England GOP representative remaining in the House and a half dozen truly vulnerable GOP targets in the Midwest, the Democrats needs to identify and target vulnerable Western lawmakers if we wish to significantly expand our majorities in Congress. Timothy Egan, in a 6/21/08 NY Times opinion piece titled, "Republicans Losing the West,"(access requires paid subscription) discusses the GOP's loosening grasp on a region long viewed as solidly Red. Egan observes the GOP's harsh rhetoric on immigration has changed the political balance in the region and quotes AZ Dem Chair David Waid, “Arizona is in play like never before. And the Republicans are literally handing it to us.”

Can Democrats take advantage of this opportunity? Where are they best poised to pick-up GOP-held seats in 2008? Fifteen months before election day, the Democrats are fielding strong and diverse candidates in the districts currently held by the most vulnerable GOP incumbents. In 2008, Democrats should be in a position to at least match the four Western seats picked up in 2006. This first weekly roundup reviews the seven races with the most vulnerable GOP incumbents. In future updates, I'll look at races where Democrats are fielding strong challenges to better-entrenched incumbents.

Are Primaries Good for the Party?

In five to the seven races examined here, Democrats are likely to see multiple candidates vying for the nomination. This forces the question - does a primary battle strengthen or weaken a candidate entering a general election? The argument can be made that a bloody and expensive primary battle results in the eventual nominee emerging as wounded and damaged for a general election campaign.

However, there are many who will argue that a primary can increase a candidate's name recognition and provides the opportunity for a candidate to fine-tune their policy positions and anticipate the potential campaign attacks they may face in the general election. Of course, I'm assuming the campaigns refrain from personal attacks and keep the primary campaign's focus on the issues confronting the district and the nation. An issues-driven primary provides the party's progressives, moderates and conservatives to identify the best candidate for the particular district. As such, the candidate that emerges is the one most likely to win and claim a mandate from the people they represent.

I personally hope to see more progressive candidates win in the general. I believe a strong intraparty debate between the various groups within the party during the primary is the way to develop a progressive consensus from which national Democrats can lead.

The Consensus Top Targets - Winning the West

The experts are pretty much in agreement on the 2008 battleground districts. The Rothenberg Political Report House ratings identifies 24 GOP-held seats as potentially in play. Seven of these are in the West. Electoral-vote.com's 2008 Hot House Races roster is similar. Both include districts where Democratic incumbents will likely face strong challenges and where Dems will be playing defense in '08 (AZ-05, CA-11). Future editions of this Weekly Update will include developments in those races as well.

I don't view this list as comprehensive. There are certainly other Western districts that are possible pickups. In coming weeks, as we get Q2 fundraising results and see where the DCCC's recruiting efforts have been targeted, this list will likely grow. In my opinion, there should be 12-20 Western seats the Dems make a strong run at during this cycle. As the field expands, I'll update the target list.

The Seven Western Targets (ranked in order of most-to-least vulnerable):

#1) ARIZONA 01 - Renzi
#2) NEW MEXICO 01 - Wilson
#3) WASHINGTON 08 - Reichert
#4) CALIFORNIA 04 - Doolittle
#5) NEVADA 03 - Porter
#6) COLORADO 04 - Musgrave
#7) WYOMING AL - Cubin

#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

For more see "AZ-01: Dems Lining Up to Take on Renzi"

#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)

For more details on NM-01 see: "NM-01: New USAGate Testimony Likely to Hurt Wilson"

#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


For more details see "WA-08: Burner Likely to Get Primaried in 2008"

#4) CA-04: Doolittle [wiki] (PVI R+11) (RR = GOP Favored)*

  • Democratic Line-Up: '06 nominee Charlie Brown is full-speed ahead on fundraising and building a strong campaign team to steal this seat from the GOP
  • POSSIBLE retirement due to ongoing FBI probe into Doolittle's close ties to Jack Abramoff


For more details see "CA-04: GOPers Want to Dump Doolittle, Too"

#5) NV-03: Porter [wiki] (PVI D+1) (RR = Lean GOP)*

  • Democratic Line-Up: TWO declared challengers, FOUR considering entering, 2006 Dem Gov Nominee Dina Titus has declined to run


For more details on NV-03 race see "NV-o3: What's Happening in Vegas?"

#6) CO-04: Musgrave [wiki] (PVI R+9) (RR = GOP Favored)*

  • Democratic Line-Up: '06 nominee Angie Paccione is running again and is likely to face a primary challenge from 2-3 potential candidates.


For more details on the CO-04 race see "CO-04: Paccione Seeks Netroots Support - She Deserves It" and "CO-04: Angie & Eidsness Visit the Blogosphere"

#7) WY-AL: Cubin [wiki] (RR = GOP Favored)*

  • Democratic Line-Up:

For more details on the WY-AL race see "WY-AL: Does the New Sen. Barrasso Affect the Dynamics of the House Race?" (to be posted 6/25)

Are there additional House pick-up opportunities west of the Continental Divide? Certainly. In addition to Doolittle, there are three more CA GOP incumbents (as well as Alaska Rep Don Young) with ethical clouds hanging over their heads. But, picking off these, or other firmly entrenched incumbents across the West will require well-financed candidates with a strong message. The time to lay the foundation for victory in November 2008 is now.

*What's "PVI"? It's the Cook Partisan Voting Index, developed by Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report. A full explanation can be found here.

**A note about the Rothenberg Ratings - Rothenberg rates on the following spectrum: Safe Dem, Favored Dem, Lean Dem, Toss-Up/Tilt Dem, Pure Toss-Up, Toss-Up/Tilt GOP, Lean GOP, Favored GOP, Safe GOP. The current ratings list 24 GOP held seats are currently not rated as "Safe GOP." Each race discussed above includes an "RR" rating based on these categories.

NV-03: What's Happening in Vegas

When national Democrats pushed to move Nevada up to the front of the presidential nominating process, they did so for two reasons:

  • Nevada demographics: The large Latino population and strong union presence were more representative of the national Democratic party than Iowa and New Hampshire and would provide a more accurate gauge of the candidates' appeal to the broader electorate

  • Turn Nevada Blue: The move would increase chances of Democratic pickups in down-ballot contests. Nevada's Third Congressional District - a truly swing district - is where we will see if this strategy pays off in 2008.

  • #5) NV-03: Porter [wiki] (PVI D+1) (RR = Lean GOP)*
    Democratic Line-Up: TWO declared challengers, FOUR considering entering, 2006 Dem Gov Nominee Dina Titus has declined to run


    The Las Vegas Review Journal reports significant comings and goings in the Democratic field in this Vegas-area district. 2006 Gubernatorial nominee and state Sen. Dina Titus has decided to not make a run for the nomination (she's heading up Hillary's outreach efforts to western women). The race has attracted accountant Andrew Martin and Barry Martin, who finished second in the 2006 Dem primary despite spending time in prison in the early 1990s. State Sen. Maggie Carlton, a waitress at Treasure Island, is considering a run as is NV-01 Rep. Shelley Berkley's husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner. It looks like it the primary field will be colorful and varied. This is a winnable seat, as the LVRJ reports Rep. Porter is viewed favorably by only 37% of district voters, according to an April poll.

    CA-04: GOPers Want to Dump Doolittle, Too

    If the Democrats hope to expand their House majority by winning the west, the four "ethically challenged" GOP incumbents (Doolittle, Lewis, Miller & Calvert) represent top targets in the Golden State. Doolittle's close ties to Abramoff came close to bringing him down in 2006. The Dems have a strong candidate in '06 nominee Charlie Brown readying for a rematch. The local GOP has begun it's own campaign to "Dump Doolittle." The Dems' best hope of seizing control of this seat is Doolittle getting the GOP nod, as an open seat contest would be much more difficult to win in this GOP-leaning district.

    #4) CA-04: Doolittle [wiki] (PVI R+11) (RR = GOP Favored)*
    Democratic Line-Up: '06 nominee Charlie Brown is full-speed ahead on fundraising and building a strong campaign team to steal this seat from the GOP
    POSSIBLE retirement due to ongoing FBI probe into Doolittle's close ties to Jack Abramoff


    ABRAMOFF CONNECTIONS PUT DOOLITTLE AT RISK: Rep. John Doolittle and his wife, Julie, are targets of an FBI investigation probing the couple's close relationship with imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff and also appears on CREW's list of 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. In 2006, Doolittle nearly lost to Charlie Brown in this Republican district. The ongoing ethics and criminal investigations have adversely affected his fundraising in 2007. We will see just how much in a few weeks when Q2 fundraising numbers are made public.

    LOCAL GOP DEMORALIZED AND FRACTURED: Local media this week ran stories about the splintering of the GOP in Nevada County, which represented 15% of the 2006 district vote total and the one county in the district where Brown outpolled Doolittle (23,224 to 17,005). Former GOP committee member John Vandenberg, the leader of the breakaway group described response to his fundraising efforts as "lackluster."

    DOOLITTLE TALKING TOUGH ON WAR???: Another indication as to how endangered Doolittle is, the The Union of Grass Valley ran an article Thursday with the headline "Doolittle: Congress to get tough on Iraq War" in which the congressman is reported as moving to distance himself from the president and the unpopular Iraq War. Doolittle seems to be looking toward a general election contest against Brown, which is good news for Dems targeting this seat as a pickup.