Monday, June 27, 2005

Liberal Majority is Back!

Building a Liberal Majority: Taking back the House.

For most of American history, elections for the House of Representatives have seen one party gaining at least ten seats, but this pattern has ended due to the more widespread adoption of an aggressive form of redistricting called Gerrymandering. The GOP controlled state legislatures in Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, four quintessential "swing states," have used gerrymandering to give the GOP 51 out the 75 House seats in these four states.

In 2004, only 22 of the 435 US House districts had winners who won with less than 10%, down from 36 in 2002. If we want to make gains in 2005, we must pick off these three House Republican incumbents in "safe" seats that all have self-inflicted wounds.

The House GOP's Tres Amigos:

1st target: Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA).

Self-inflicted wound: Sold his house for $1.7 million to a defense contractor who had benefited from contracts that he received with help from Rep. Cunningham.

After selling his home to a contributor, the contributer promptly sold the house for a whopping $700,000 loss. Expect Democrats to relentlessly bash Rep. Cunningham for allowing his house sale to turn into a classic case of "conflict of interest."

2nd target: Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA).

Self-inflicted wound: He physically abused the woman he was an adulterous relationship with.

Not only have his actions hurt the GOP's "family values" mantra, they've also left him vulnerable to any number of Democrats. This district is one of the safest GOP districts in Pennsylvania, but with Sherwood as the GOP's candidate, an upset is very possible.

3rd target: Tom Delay

Self-inflicted wounds: Where do I begin?

In a purely Karmic matchup, Former Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his House in 2004 to DeLay's re-redistricting plan, has announced that he will take on Tom DeLay Despite this district's overwhelmingly conservative nature, I expect Tom "The Whip" DeLay to succumb to the combination of voter disgust with his ethics violations and their support of his top rate challenger.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Why Social Security will help Democrats gain in 2006.

Throughout George W. Bush's political career, from his stunning upset of Texas Gov. Ann Richards (D), a woman who a year before had had a 73% approval rating, to his defeat of Bill Clinton's VP Al Gore in 2000, Bush has been "misunderestimated" by his opponents. Finally, Bush's luck has run out.

Democrats have pounced on Bush's Social InSecurity plan, hoping to use this issue, combined iwth GOP ethics violations to help them win in 2006. Larry Sabato, head of UVA's Center of Politics, has written about the "six year hex" which afflicts two term Republican Presidents. In 1958, President Eisenower's Republican party lost 47 House seats and 13 Senate seats and in 1986, Ronald Reagan saw his party lose 5 House seats, plunging the GOP into their deepest minority since 1974, and lost 8 Senate seats, costing the GOP the Senate.

Is it likely that this could happen to Bush? Yes. The dozen most competitive Senate races are split right in half, with six of being held by Democrats and the other six being Republican controlled seats. But the geography helps Democrats. In the last election cycle, 9 of the 10 closest seats were in "red" states and the Republicans won 8 of the seats, this time six are in "blue" states and six are in "red" states.

The state home to the most endangered Democratic Senate seat is Minnesota, a state which has the longest Democratic electoral winning streak in America, and a state where Democrats picked up 13 seats in the State House in 2004, leading to a Democratic rout. Many outside observers agree that the Demcorats out-worked, out-spent and out-voted the GOP. The Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mark Dayton, was extremely vulnerable due to his poor campaigning skills, his even worse fundraising ability and his knack for odd actions, including his bizarre evacuation of his Washington D.C Senate office due to an intelligence report that none of the other 99 Senators found serious. Luckily for Democrats, Minnesota is trending left and Mark Dayton will not be running for reelection.

Normally, a Democrat doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning in Nebraska. A state once home to prairie like William Jennings Bryan, now has only one statewide elected Democrat, Ben Nelson. Nelson has so far been the luckiest politician in America, having every single statewide elected Republican decide to forego running for the Senate.

The other Democratic Senator Nelson, Bill from Florida, has also seemed to dodge a bullet. Florida Republicans from Jeb Bush to Katherine Harris have decided not to run for the Senate. This must infuritate Bush's political guru, Karl Rove, who helped to turn Bush's 2000 537 vote win into a 52%-47% in 2004.Also the GOP controls 75% of Florida's House delegation and every single statewide elected office plus the State House and the State Senate. With a plethora of possible candidates, why has the GOP utterly ailed in its recruiting goal. Maybe Republicans in Nebraska and Florida are afraid of the last name, Nelson.

Michigan is yet another state where Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), the chairwoman of the National Republcian Senatorial Committee, has failed. Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow is vulnerable due to her poor fundraising and Michigan's rightward turn, Bush gained 2% over his 2000 victory and won the crucial suburban counties of Macomb and Oakland that Bill Clinton and Al Gore won in '92, '96 and '00. Despite all of this, the state GOP seems more interested in defeating extraordinarily popular Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Many political junkies remember Democrat Christine Gregoire winning the Washington Gubernatorial election by 129 votes out of nearly 2.7 million cast. Her opponent, Dino "Sour Grapes" Rossi's, allegation that the election was stolen has undermined his potential bid to defeat Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell. Cantwell is familiar with close elections, having won in 2000 by 2,900 votes of out 2.5 million cast.

Finally, for the Democrats, is West Virginia, a state which has experienced a rapid de-unionization that has overhauled the Democratic control of the state. In 2000, the turning point for Republicans, Bush carried the state, becoming only the third Republican to ever win the state and the GOP captured a U.S House seat for the first time since 1978. Democratic patriarch, Senator Robert Byrd, is the last of a dying bred of New Deal era Democrats. If the Republicans run Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, then expect this to be the last term for Senator Byrd. This is the only Senate seat giving Democrats any real worries.

The other seats that possibly could be trouble are open seats in solid "blue" states like Maryland and New Jersey.

Onto the GOP seats:

The most vulnerable is the one held by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a man who's compared gay sex to sodomy. His inflammatory statements have incurred the wrath of liberal groups across America. If it weren't bad enough that he had the Democratic money machine against him, he also has to run in a year where the Democratic Governor, who is a master of get out the vote efforts in the Philly metro area is running. What likely will be the last straw to break Rick Santorum's back is his opponent, socially conservative and fiscally populist State Auditor Bob Casey. Faced with an energized Democratic base, a Democratic turnout magician at the top of the ticket and a pro-life catholic who appeals to the "Reagan Democrats" Rick Santoram is likely to lose.

Next up is Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, an old school Roosevelt Republican. If New Deal Democrats are a dying breed, then Roosevelt Republicans are nearly extinct. Chafee is similar to Ben Nelson, a politician in a political minority who has inexplicably managed to dodge any major opposition. While Chafee, who's admired by both Republicans and Democrats, is not likely to lost reelection, he is likely to pull a Jim Jeffords and switch parties if Democrats reach 49 or 50 or become the majority party.

Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana is now one of the last standing Republicans in a state which George W. Bush won by 20% In 2004, a populist wave swept Montana helping elect a Democratic Governor and giving the Democrats control of the State House and the State Senate. The man who became the first Democratic Govenror of Montana in 16 years was, ironically, the man who in 2000 nearly beat Sen. Burns. Burns is liekly to face a stiff challenge from State Senate Majority Leader Jon Tester.

In Viriginia, Democrats are hoping Govenor Mark Warner (D) will run aginst Sen. George Allen (R).Such a race could be the marquee Seante race of 2006. Warner, a popular telecommunications millionaire turned governor, is plans to spend up to $25 million of his own money if he runs aginst Allen. The major problems fro Democrats is that Warner's presidential aspirations may convince him to focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, instead of Virigina.

With Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) retiring in 2006 to lay the gorundwork for his '08 presidential bid, Tennessee will have one of only three open Senate seats in 2006. The Democratic candidate is Rep. Harold Ford, a black congressman from Memphis. Ford is, unlike Barack Obama, a socially conservative Democratic who supported the Iraq War and all of Bush's tax cuts. His conservatism may help him make the inroads with Republicanvoters necessary today fro a Democrat to win in the South. While Demcorats went 0-5 in Southern Senate races in 2004, 2006 may be the right year for a Southern Democrat.

The ast vulnerable Republican Senate seat is in Maine, where Sen. Olympia Snowe is wih likely face a challenge from popular Democratic Rep. Tom Allen. Rep. Allen has a 62% approval rating and represents a district that encompasses Portland, the only major Maine city. While Snowe is popular, Maine has been trending Democratic for the past decade leaving her vulnerable to a challenge from a moderate Democrat. If Snow loses, there will only be two Northeastern Republican Seantors left, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Drilling in ANWR passes 51-49:
7 Republicans senators voted against it and 3 Democrats voted for it.

Senate Votes to Open Alaskan Oil Drilling

By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A closely divided Senate voted Wednesday to approve oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge, a major victory for President Bush (news - web sites) and a stinging defeat for environmentalists who have fought the idea for decades.

By a 51-49 vote, the Senate put a refuge drilling provision in next year's budget, depriving opponents of the chance to use a filibuster to try to block it. Filibusters, which require 60 votes to overcome, have been used to defeat drilling proposals in the past.

"This project will keep our economy growing by creating jobs and ensuring that businesses can expand," Bush said in a statement. "And it will make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy, eventually by up to a million barrels of oil a day."

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who has fought for 24 years to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil companies, acknowledged it still could be "a long process" before a final drilling measure clears Congress. Lawmakers must agree on the final budget, something they failed to do last year, or Wednesday's vote would have been for naught.

Also, the House did not include an Arctic refuge measure in its budget, a difference that will have to be worked out in future negotiations

Monday, March 14, 2005

Monday News Wrap:
Black Dem running for MD Senate and opinion piece on Western Dems
Mfume Announces 2006 Senate Bid

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer

BALTIMORE -- Kweisi Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and national NAACP president, today became the first Democrat to make official his bid to succeed Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.).

"My goal is to give a new voice to the issues that affect every-day working men and working women and the families that they are a part of," Mfume said during a late morning press conference in a lounge at Camden Yards, where he was joined by five of his six sons.

Kweisi Mfume, former NAACP president and chief executive officer, speaks to the news media during a protest June 4, 2004.
Purple Mountains Strategy: Should Democrats look to the West
by John Yewell

Since November an idea has been percolating up from what has become known in the Internet age as the "netroots" of the Democratic Party: Should it adopt a Western strategy?

The story has been flying under the radar as the major media have obsessed over a westerner named Schwarzenegger. Meanwhile, a guy name named Schweitzer has become the darling of this new movement.

Brian Schweitzer won the Montana governorship in November, the first Democrat to do that in 20 years. He's a rancher, a conservationist (the term preferred in the West over "environmentalist"), a soil scientist, a hunter with an A-minus rating from the NRA and a human whirlwind of ideas. One of those ideas was to choose a Republican as his running mate.

Montana was not even the tip of the Western Democrat spear in November. That distinction went to Colorado, where Attorney General Ken Salazar was the only Democrat in the country to wrest away a previously Republican U.S. Senate seat, beating well-known Pete Coors.
Colorado Democrats also took away a congressional seat, and for good measure took over the state House and Senate as well.

Add to all that existing Democratic governorships in Arizona, New Mexico and even in Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming (with the election in 2002 of Dave Freudenthal), and inquiring minds began to ask: Does the Democratic Party have Western mojo?

If Western Democrats consolidate these gains in 2006, the national party should look closely in 2008 at candidates with a little dirt under their fingernails, at least for vice president. Out here, we prefer blue collars to blue bloods.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

"God Bless America."
Hypothetical Democratic Ad on Social Security:

Intro: Candidate hugging baby and saluting American Flag

Voice of announcer: Joe Q. Candidate is fighting for REAL Social Security reform. He supports eliminating the 6.2% cap on Social Security taxes. Because he believes in a fair and equal tax system

Shift to negative photo of Bush and photos of Wealthy Americans: President Bush doesn't support Joe Q. Candidate's Social Security plan because it would hurt his rich buddies

Pictures of candidate with blue collar workers and the voice of the Candidate: I believe that hard-working Americans should always come first. I will never puts the interests of the powerful, over the people.

I'm Joe Q. Candidate and I approved this message.

Seem like a piece of jingoistic propaganda? Well, that's exactly what it is. This ad could go after the "Reagan Democrats" disenchanted with Democratic views on social issues, but in no way supportive of Republican economic policies.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Bad News for Bush:
Social Security gaff embarrasses Prez; Only 37% support his plan.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something about the Thrift Savings Plan. This is a Thrift Savings Plan that has a mix of stocks and bonds?

MS. WEBSTER: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, how hard was that to learn how to do that?

MS. WEBSTER: And I chose the safe plan, government bonds. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That's all right. Well, not so safe, unless we fix the deficit. But other than that -- (laughter). We're fixing the deficit. (Applause.)

Poll Bad News for Bush on Social Security
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - As President Bush campaigns to change Social Security , he needs to win over independents, married women and Southerners — people who tend to support him on terrorism but have indicated doubts about his plans for the retirement program.

Just over a third of Americans, 37 percent, approve of Bush's handling of Social Security, an Associated Press poll found. When it comes to Bush's strong suit — handling foreign policy and terrorism — 52 percent approve of the president.

A majority of Americans, 56 percent, say they disapprove of Bush's handling of Social Security. A similar number in a recent AP poll opposed the creation of personal investment accounts, a proposal central to Bush's plans.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Richard Nixon and Al Gore

1960: Richard Nixon, VP under two term President, loses an extremely close, stolen election after his failure in the televised Presidential Debates.
1964: Nixon forgoes run for President; watches his party fail to win the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S House
1968: Nixon runs for President and defeats VP who supported the President's unpopular war.

2000: Al Gore, VP under two term President, loses an extremely close, stolen election, after his failure in the televised Presidential Debates.
2004: Gore forgoes run for President; watches his party fail to win the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S House