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Posted: 4/12/2006 9:27:12 PM EDT
The House stopped the AWB renewal, the House passed the Sensenbrenner bill. Hope is in the House.

Democrats Face Uphill Battle to Retake House

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 13, 2006; A01

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

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

But Tuesday's special election north of San Diego to fill the seat of former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) showed that the Democrats face an uphill battle to pick up seats even in districts where the Republicans have their backs to the wall. Democrat Francine Busby, running on a theme of ethics in government, finished first in a crowded field of 18 candidates to succeed Cunningham, who was sent to prison after pleading guilty to taking bribes in return for legislative favors.

Busby, a school board member and self-described soccer mom, garnered only 44 percent of the vote and was forced into a June 6 runoff, possibly with former Republican congressman Brian P. Bilbray, who finished second with 15 percent. State GOP leaders expect Republicans to coalesce around the eventual nominee in the runoff and retain the seat.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said his party was able to avoid a primary fight in California and is emerging from Tuesday's balloting united and ready to go after independent voters. In contrast, he said, Republicans will have to unite a fractious party around a nominee who still has not been officially named.

From a national perspective, the California contest has not changed most analysts' views of the Democrats' chances in November. "If this election comes down to the individual, race-by-race, case-by-case campaigns, like we've seen for the last four cycles, the Democrats don't have enough top-tier candidates to win 15 seats," Amy Walters, a House political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said, referring to a net gain. "But they do have enough second- and third-tier candidates who can ride a wave."

Political analysts divide the Democratic field into three tiers: the top-ranked challengers who pose a real threat to Republican incumbents, a second level of challengers who have a chance because of the Republicans' problems nationally and their own competence on the stump, and a third tier of aspirants who have proved to be inept campaigners but who are running in swing districts that are susceptible to change.

Within the top tier, Democrats will field a two-term New Mexico attorney general, Patricia Madrid, to challenge their perennial target in Albuquerque, Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R); Ron Klein, a prominent, telegenic state senator, to challenge Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.); a law-and-order Indiana sheriff, Brad Ellsworth, to run against Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.); law professor Lois Murphy to run against Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.); and former Westport first selectwoman Diane Farrell to take on Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.). In other races, Harry Mitchell, a former Tempe mayor already honored with a statue in his district, is taking on Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.); Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy is challenging Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio); and Iraq war veteran Andrew Horne is attempting to unseat Rep. Anne M. Northup (R-Ky.), a perennially vulnerable incumbent.

Currently, there are 231 Republicans, 201 Democrats, one independent and two vacant seats in the House. It will be up to lesser Democratic lights -- running in Republican districts with less-than-glowing résumés -- to help provide the 15 net victories Democrats need to take back control of the House, which has been in GOP hands since the 1994 election.

In that context, Busby's performance -- respectable but not surprising -- is not encouraging to Democrats, said Stuart Rothenberg, a congressional analyst and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.

"There may be a wave building, but it's still off the shoreline," he said. "It certainly didn't hit here."

DCCC officials now refer to their recruitment efforts as putting as many surfboards as they can in the water. But Emanuel's campaign began shortly after Bush's reelection, when there was not even a pro-Democratic ripple.

Emanuel turned to a team of young, eager House Democrats, with Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the lead and with meetings set for every other Thursday at 8 a.m. The team divided the country by regions and aggressively beat the bushes in search of candidates with charisma and the potential for raising money. Trudi Inslee, the wife of Rep. Jay Inslee (Wash.), led a spousal outreach program to reassure the wives and husbands of candidates about the life of a congressional family.

From the beginning, they did not shy away from the hard sell.

"By gerrymandering the map, Republicans have tried to get people not to run for Congress. Our job was to pick the lock," Emanuel said.

Last summer, as Heath Shuler mulled a bid for the House, the former Redskins quarterback mentioned his concerns that a return to Washington would not fit with a life built around his family. At Emanuel's direction, congressmen began calling to urge him to run. Wives of congressmen called. Even lawmakers' children were recruited to try to persuade Shuler to run.

The former North Carolina high school football star finally jumped into the race to try to unseat Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.).

Districts that have rarely registered in recent congressional elections are now on the political radar screen. House analysts are watching the races of Pryce, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.) because of the strength of their opponents and the weakening Republican position. Pryce is the chairman of the House Republican Conference.

"I will give them full credit for having recruited some good candidates, no doubt about it," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

But there have also been some glaring recruitment failures. The NRCC cites 32 potential candidates who rebuffed Emanuel's overtures in 21 districts.

Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R), a freshman in a key swing district in Pennsylvania, should have been "target numero uno," said Walters, the House political analyst. Another ripe district in the state, now represented by Charles W. Dent (R), has no challenger at all.

"I'd give Rahm a B" for recruitment, Rothenberg said. "There isn't a giant sea change here. Have they had some successes at the margins? Yeah. And maybe that's about all you can do."

Link Posted: 4/12/2006 9:40:18 PM EDT
won't matter if they (repub's) don't grow some hair on their sacks and oppose this F'ed up immigration BS.


I smell a change in the house....................... and it smells like an overturned outhouse
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 9:51:19 PM EDT
The dems keep trying to twist this as being about the War in Iraq but if the Republicans lose their base and the upcoming elections, I can guarantee you it iwll be over illegals and not the War. That won't be what the media tells you though. FWIW, I don't really even think most people give a fuck about the war right now.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 9:54:03 PM EDT
The Democrats got stomped, hilariously, yesterday in a race for Duke Cunningham's seat they thought they had in the bag.

1) WASHINGTON GENERALS WATCH – This is what it’s like to be a political junkie- you get up early to see how the primary (of sorts) went in the 50th Congressional district of California. The 50th is famous for being the home of Republican Duke Cunningham, the orange-jumpsuit-wearing former member of the house who got enough lucre out of his house seat to make Huey Long blush.

The primary was one Democrat vs. 14 Republicans. If the Democrat got more than 50% of the vote, she would have won the seat and avoided a June runoff. The nutroots were sure that this time they had a winner. Duke usually got 56% of the vote and certainly multiple convictions and a fractured Republican slate would be worth another 6 points for the Democrat. Not only that, but we’ve all heard ad nauseum that 2006 is a looming disaster for the Republicans.

So what happened? The Democrat came through with the customary 44% of the Donkey vote. She did not improve on John Kerry’s showing. Even Markos Moulitsas knows this is bad news; in spite of the deafening din of enthusiasm in the left-wing blogosphere’s echo-chamber, the Democrats as a party are as dispirited as the Republicans. Markos points out that Democratic turnout was dismal.

If you’re keeping score at home, I believe this pushes the nutroots’ record to 0-20. Here’s the best part – with the runoff looming in June, the nutroots can hit blackjack!

Remember where you heard it first: Unless the Democrats get their act together, they'll be the ones crying in November. And the odds of them getting their act together are long indeed.


dbsoxblog.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_dbsoxblog_archive.html#114487702200662145
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 9:54:28 PM EDT
I would like to think that Hiliary will run for the Dems and that some relatively competent and decisive individual with a clear background runs for us Republicans. I would have a hard time believing that Hiliary would win against someone normal. This article provides a fair amount of hope that the house could be saved as well but only time will tell. I know who I will be voting for.

James
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 9:58:50 PM EDT
The one thing the national media won't tell you is the fact that democrats approval ratings suck just as much (and in some cases worse) right now as republicans. They are ALL extremely unpopular. It's not just Bush and the republicans.

As such, democrats better not only be concerned with republicans and republicans better not only be concerned with democrats. They both need to be cautious about third party candidates cleaning both their clocks in upcoming elections. Many voters are sick of both major parties.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 10:21:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By stormwalker:
won't matter if they (repub's) don't grow some hair on their sacks and oppose this F'ed up immigration BS.


Don't bank on it. The Repubs are trying to steer clear of giving the hostile news media any ammo than absolutely possible.
Link Posted: 4/12/2006 10:27:56 PM EDT
The reality is, the Republicans could stamp out the BATFE, along with the FOPA, GCA and NFA, but if they sell us out on immigration as seems the case, it will be a cold fucking day in hell before I vote R again.
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