Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Framing the House: The Worm Turns

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

The Arizona 3rd: John Shadegg has held this seat since 1995, and this year, he wanted to retire. He was persuaded to run again, as the GOP wanted to hold the seat, and believed him to be the safest bet to do so. His competition is Bob Lord.

Rumour has it that Shadegg has his eye on McCain’s Senate seat in 2010. To do that, he needs to win this year, and it’s not looking that good for him, as the polls are pretty much tied. Now, for some reason, his deputy campaign manager dropped Shadegg’s credit card on the floor of the Arizona Democratic Party Headquarters. I mean, if your staff is defecting…and it may have actually been a campaign card, and not a personal card, which would actually make it worse. Sorta.

The NJ 4th: I was asked by a friend to look into this race, and because I’m a good friend, I said “sure.” The research makes me sad, it also made me think about all of those “safe races” that never get any play, but should.

Here you have an incumbent Republican named Chris Smith, who has been in office since 1981. Before going to Congress, he worked in sporting goods, and then went on to head a state anti-choice group. Personally, I don’t need to know anything beyond “anti-choice” to know that this guy deserves a viable Democratic competitor. In Josh Zeitz, Smith should have had one. You should check out the web site, it’s got a nice real-time clock counting up the dollars spent in the Iraq. If you go to the site, you’ll find out that Zeitz is a teacher, and author of two history books. I could take you through his positions, but if you have read the Democratic platform this year, you are already familiar with them.

And sadly, Zeitz got no traction this year. He was able to raise less than half the money of Smith, about $385,000 to $748,000. He couldn’t get local press. The main city in the district is Trenton, which means the people who live there get their TV from either NY or Philadelphia, and this wasn’t, for those stations, a race to watch.

Likewise, the NY Times had no articles, and the Philadelphia Inquirer had one: on Smith. The Trenton paper had 3 articles this year, the most recent one today. That article is about Smith getting in-state tuition for his daughter at a state college, in Virginia. It turns out, though, that while CHRIS Smith needs to be a resident of New Jersey to keep his seat, MARIE Smith is a legal resident of Virginia. Since Chris and Marie are married, it’s a little muddy, but it won’t cost Smith his seat. In the same article, they point out that Chris was voting in NY several years ago as a resident, but Zeitz didn’t bring that up until now, two weeks out.

The thing that will keep Smith his seat is in another article:

Even Democrats who disagree with President Bush expressed warm feelings toward Smith. They cited his work for veterans and his constituent service operations as reasons why they back Smith
Point is, there are 435 House races every two years, and often, incumbents rule. They cannot all implode like Vito Fossella and Michele Bachmann. They keep their seats because while Americans tend to hate Congress, in terms of constituent services, THEIR person serves their needs. Often, people don't know how their Congressperson votes, they assume that their Congressperson voted the way he/she "should have" despite the way the votes turned out.

I think we'll pick up seats this cycle. And by "we" I mean Democrats. We may well pick up the Idaho First, which will then be the most conservative district in America with a Democratic Congressman. And trust me when I say despite my support for Walt Minnick, his views don't exactly mirror this year's platform in every regard. But, enough. And then the discussion will begin in earnest, inside the big tent: if we run candidates in 2010 who are MORE liberal, will that buy us an additional margin, or cause blow back? Will we keep tabs on the Republicans who kept their seats and have good information to use when the races start next cycle? Will enough people, energized by this election, STAY involved in the political process?

Those are all the questions I have for right now. I'll have more after the election, but for now, it's 7 pm, and I'm late to the phone bank. This is Pennsylvania after all, McShame's last stand, and to win, he's got to get through me, and all my friends.