In the wake of the Massachusetts Miracle we have achieved far more than even I dreamed possible. I had hoped for a serious scare and some recriminations on the part of the Democrats, not a shattering of party unity and confidence.
Well, I'm told that the GOP is going to "fight everywhere" this year. But not all fights are created equal. Barring cash in an incumbent's freezer, once a district gets to D+20 CPVI there's really no path to a Republican victory. And while some back bench incumbents may be weak reeds, it's rather likely that unlike Martha Coakley, they will go down quietly and with little notice from the public. A Zack Space meltdown in Zanesville, OH is not likely to make the national wires.
What the GOP should set aside some resources for is to call out the loudest, most partisan and least appealing leaders of the Democratic senate and house caucuses. We know who they are. They are the ones who react like stuck pigs to being challenged. They are the ones whom we can readily point to a paper trail of advocacy for deficits, government intervention, and crony dealing. And these are the people whom we can readily define as the Democratic party for swing voters.
By their vociferous counterattacks, they will do our job of defining the opposition for us. Their colleagues in swing districts and purple states will try to win their re-elections based on incumbency and alleged centrism; this plan is designed to make that strategy unworkable for any Democrat.
Some of these people are already "on the list"--Harry Reid and John Murtha. My plan is to wxpand the list to folks in D+10 plus constituencies, since in the wake of Scott Brown, these seats are no longer locks in the present environment.
The chances that any of these seats actually "flip" to the GOP is still remote. I believe the recruitment of serious candidates and the allocation of resources is still wise for a number of reasons. It will drive the narrative in less high profile seats and force moderates to defend the leadership party line. It will conversely, cause the Democrats to hoard their cash to play defense and cause them to triage their less senior members in swing seats. Finally, since these folks are easily identified villains to the Right, there's the possibility to drop moneybombs in these places.
Here's my list:
Schumer defeated an obscure GOP assemblyman badly in 2004 in what was a non-campaign. Since then he's been enbolden to play partisan bomb thrower and is one of the happiest Democrats to lambaste "teabaggers" for the temerity to question Washington. Schumer is probably one of the most anti-gun and pro-abortion politicians ever elected to office, and has treated Wall Street as an ATM for his campaign warchest. Needless to say this isn't quite the agenda every New Yorker applauds--his recent poll ratings have slipped.
Schumer is still a heavy favorite, but two things make this more than an exercise in wish fulfillment. First is Schumer' arrogance, which may remind voters of disgraced former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Second is the demographics of the off-year NY electorate, where Upstate casts a higher percentage of the vote--indeed, nearly half.
Larry Kudlow (whom I thought was still a CT resident) is thinking about this race. But has anyone thought that an upstater associated with the Tea Party--like Doug Hoffman--might send Chuck into orbit?
Hoyer is Nancy Pelosi's second in command. Unlike San Fran Nan, he actually represents some Republicans in his suburban Maryland district which is only D+11. As it is in the Washington, DC media market it's not a cheap district to run in, but any misstep by Hoyer will be promptly reported by the national press. Hoyer will have to explain his party's agenda in a district which contains many of the same sort of outer suburban communities that were Scott Brown strongholds in MA. Good luck, Steny.
Chris Dodd is gone, but the other architect of the ruinous subprime mortgage bubble, Barney Frank, thinks he's going to coast to re-election. Perhaps he'd best look at the voting results in MA 4 as it appears his district was carried by Scott Brown. MA 4 is a D+14 district but it is a gerrymandered mess which includes areaas far from Frank's base inside Route 128. These communities--even the blue collar ones--turned hard against the Democrats in the special election.
I'll explain in more detail, but the key to making this seat truly competitive is candidate recruitment and pushing aside a perennial candidate who simply doesn't "fit" this district in favor of one who could peel off a critical region from Frank.
Henry Waxman is probably the one member of Congress most directly responsible for the decline of America's industrial vigor. As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee he is single handedly responsible for pressing forward on a multifront regime of regulation and government edicts. He also was foursquare for the government takeover of health care enbodied in the House's "public option" bill.
His district includes Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Malibu so we can be sure the entertainment industry will shell out to give him around. That said, money he gets can't go to Indiana or new Jersey. His district also now includes large chunks of the San Fernando Valley where a political agenda based on middle class concerns might well receive a receptive response.
It's pretty clear we would need a very libertarian minded candidate to get an audience here. That said, a "cool" Republican would draw attention to the party and draw attention away from older socially conservative white men in the Red States. And a credible campaign against Waxman--inagine Republican lawn signs on Brentwood hillsides--would be magnified in the national media.
I cna think of less notorious Democrats like New York's Gary Ackerman or CT's Rosa DeLauro who have baggage, atropried campaign skills and districts with appreciable Republican activity. But the bigger point here is to draw out the loudest and least persuasive advocates for Democratic control of government.
The Democrats made sure they got Jesse Helms a tough race every cycle hoping for a meltdown. Now it's our turn.