House Elections in Indiana

May 16, 2010

In 2006, Indiana was the harbinger of doom for Republicans. With their polls closing early and three vulnerable Rep-held seats, you knew the election would be bad when all three of them fell. With any luck, 2010 can be the reverse. All three of those seats are once again competitive, and perhaps all three can switch back to Red. It’ll still be tough to do, but tough is not impossible. So while the Senate seat is the big draw here, keep your eye on the House as well.

The big question is whether or not the 2008 election was an anomaly or not. Indiana’s swing left was, if I recall correctly, the largest in the nation. How a state that went from a reliably Republican state surrounded by blue states to voting for Obama (this is despite the fact that he only got ~50% in the primary against Hillary) is beyond me. Even weirder, it happened at the same time that the state was reelecting Mitch Daniels (the mild-mannered version of Chris Christie) as governor by a wide margin. So is Indiana’s experiment with leftism over? We hope so.

During the primary, we had proof that the Tea Party is very active in the state, but unfortunately their presence can be summed up as “close but no cigar.” While Stutzman’s challenge of Coats was well known, two Republican incumbents in the House were nearly picked off, and would have been if the anti-incumbent votes weren’t split. Let us hope they don’t become discouraged by these results, and that there’s still enough enthusiasm in November.
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Illinois House Races 2010

May 10, 2010

Illinois looks like an exciting state in 2010, with both competitive Senate and Governor races. The grassroots may have been disappointed in the primary, but there really is no reason for that. There was no serious challenge to Kirk, and while the Tea Party candidate didn’t win the Governor spot, the winner is a solid conservative. In truth, this may bode well for downstream races. You have an unassuming moderate running against a shifty banker to bring the squishy Republicans out, and a downstate conservative to bring out the base. Not too bad. Unfortunately, all other state considerations seem to go against the Republicans. The State Party is one of the worst in the nation (they were, after all, the ones that all but conceded the Senate race to Obama 6 years ago), and the Dem incumbents are very well funded. Meanwhile, the question remains if the Dems will be motivated to insure no embarrassing losses in Obama’s home state. And yet, they were just as motivated to avoid embarrassment in the DNC Chair’s home state of VA in 2009, and look how that turned out.

The good news? Judging by how the primary went in downstream races, the Tea Party is rather active in Illinois. If that’s true, hopefully the grassroots enthusiasm will continue through November. I count 5 competitive House races here, with 4 of them being held by Dems.
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Why Bayh’s goodbye makes Pelosi cry

February 15, 2010

OK, quick recap for those who have been living under a rock (then how did you end up here?!?). Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced today that he would not seek reelection, basically because he’s sick of Congress (can’t argue with him there). He seemed likely to win reelection, although being a Dem in a red state this year the Reps had a decent shot at picking it up. With his exit, there’s a better road to hitting 50 seats for the Republican party, something that’s not going to make the Dems happy. Even weirder, the deadline for filing signatures to get on the primary ballot is tomorrow, and it appears likely that there will be no one on for the Dems*. Assuming that’s the case**, the Dems will hold a caucus to choose their candidate.

Now, let’s look at this from a Dem’s perspective. This isn’t necessarily a lost cause for them like, say, Arkansas or N Dakota is. After all, the Rep candidate is going to be either a has been (Coats), a guy who can’t campaign (Hostetler), or a nobody (Stutzman). Meanwhile, they’d get to hand pick their candidate. And while some on the Right are claiming that the caucus format would lead to a loony Lefty getting nominated, that’s not really the case. The people doing the nomination will be smart, politically active, motivated folks, and they’ll choose someone who’s at least viable. To the Dem perspective, this is still a winnable seat. And so they will choose a candidate who gives them a good chance to win.
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Why I like Scott Brown

January 16, 2010

Scott Brown doesn’t seem to be your typical politician. Well, let’s face it, he’s a Republican running for Senator in Massachusetts, and might actually win. That’s bizarre enough. But he gave an interview with Real Clear Politics and said something that most politicians probably wish they could say or actually do say at times, but I never believe them. Maybe I’m naive, but I actually do believe Mr Brown here.

I don’t want to be beholden to anybody. I don’t owe anybody anything. Martha Coakley is in lock-step with all the special interests, she’s part of the Democratic machine in Massachusetts. And she’ll be the same way in Washington.

One of the things that’s made me an effective legislator in a highly and heavily-controlled Democrat area is to look at each bill on its own merits. I’ve never been anybody whose vote can be taken for granted. People need to earn my vote. If it’s a good piece of legislation that is a Democrat piece and is good for my state, and it makes sense for the people of the United States, then it’s possible I’ll support it. But for anyone to think that I’m going to be in lock-step with anybody, I think they’re mistaken.

This is what we need in Washington. It’s easy to say no when the other party is in power. But as Evan Bayh and Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln proved, it’s not so easy when your party is in power. It’s not so easy when you’re being pressured to toe the line on something that’s just a bad idea in general and has flaws galore in it, but the President in your party really really wants it. The Democrats aren’t doing it now, and the Republicans didn’t do it from 2001-2006. It’s why we hate both parties. So will Scott Brown be one to buck the trend?

Now obviously, he’s from Massachusetts. Obviously, he’s going to have positions I don’t like. Obviously he’s not going to vote the way I want him to all of the time. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be the type of moderate that we all hate. Voting against the party doesn’t mean you have to do it Snowe or Graham style, where you go for a sense of bipartisanship to make yourself look better to the “moderates”. When you do that, you’re basically saying you’re unprincipled, and are merely calculating how to vote to preserve the correct image. Instead, we need people in Washington who’ll buck their party when the party has a bad idea.

Assuming Brown wins (and it’s looking more and more likely), he has absolutely no incentive to be beholden to any ideology, any party leaders. He’s from Massachusetts, it’s not like he’ll be in the Senate for long. Likely he’ll be tossed out in 2012, and there’s nothing the RNC can do to stop it. So what Brown said is absolutely correct; what does he owe them? He’ll caucus with them, vote no on health care, but what else? And, since he’ll likely be thrown out in 2012, what does he owe the voters? I know that sounds bad, but I’m referring to image here. He doesn’t need to pretend to be anything to be reelected.

The only way to get reelected in 2012 is the same thing that may be catapulting himself to the Senate in the first place: act with complete integrity.

Everything about Brown’s campaign so far has been positive, honest, and forthright. He hasn’t run from views that may be unpopular, nor has he married himself completely to the conservative cause. Hence we get this silly confusion among the left, calling him a Tea Party Republican in one breath and a liberal Republican the next. Instead, he speaks his mind, and says he wants to do what’s best. He’s a Republican, yes, but an independent Republican. For once, people can look past the label, past the partisanship, and choose based on the person himself. And they like him, even the Democrats. And so people flock to him. Huge crowds of people, it looks like.

It’s the only explanation for why he’s in the lead. We trust him. We believe he’ll do what he thinks is right for the country. He doesn’t seem like a politician. It’s a perfect contrast with his opponent, who is as fake and nasty and beholden to political interests as they come (see Dan Riehl for an excellent take on Martha Coakley). And if there’s one thing that people are absolutely fed up with, it’s the politicians. Obama was able to pretend he was different, and so he won handily. Bob McDonnel said he was different, and he won a landslide. We don’t want people that will agree with us all the time; we know that’s impossible. Instead, we want people we can trust.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I trust Scott Brown to do what is best. And because of that, I can forgive the times I disagree with him.


40 in 2010: WV-01

January 4, 2010

There’s a lot of talk about the realignment shift, wherein conservative southern Democrats turn Republican while liberal northeast Republicans turn Democrats. Well, the liberal northeast Republicans have turned, but the southern Democrats are still hesitating. So will Nancy Pelosi be the one to finally be the catalyst to get a southern revolution? Who knows. But sometimes you feel there’s a perfect storm brewing, and if it doesn’t happen now, it never will. That’s probably not the case for all districts, but it just might be the case in West Virginia.

West Virginia 01
Location: The northern third of the state. It doesn’t contain Charleston or any other large cities, but does include WV University. It’s fairly rural, a bit blue-collar-ish, almost purely white, and supposedly fairly conservative.
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40 in 2010: CO-07

December 21, 2009

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 41 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 92 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

One of the most important parts of getting a wave election is to attack as many places as possible. Make the other party defend more seats than they want to. Obviously, part of this is simply to spread out the other party’s resources, but on the flip side it spreads out your party too. Given the RNCC’s fundraising so far, that’s not necessarily a good thing. But the other reason to do this is that a long shot still has a chance of winning. With more challenges, you create more momentum. With more momentum, you have a chance to win. I doubt the RNCC is looking much at this seat; nobody seriously thinks they’ll win it. But they seem to have a strong candidate, so why not make the Democrats sweat a bit?

Colorado 07
Location: The suburbs of Denver. It basically surrounds Denver on three sides, and then a long rural section in the northeast. Mostly urban, and supposedly purple.
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40 in 2010: AR-02

November 29, 2009

(In order for the Republicans to take back the House in 2010, they need to net 41 seats. It’s a long shot, but it is possible. By my count, there are 92 Dem-held seats that the Republicans have at least an outside chance of winning. That number will change as we get closer to election time, of course. But for now, I’ll be highlighting some of these seats from time to time.)

During the 06 and 08 cycles, there was a lot of talk (particularly among the left side of the internet) of the Republicans becoming a regional party. With the last Republican Congressman ousted from New England, it was claimed that before long the only Rs in the nation was going to be in the South. And needless to say, there was a lot of crowing about this. But what was never mentioned was the other side of the coin. With all the partisanship going on, there’s the possibility of Democrats becoming a regional party too. With the hard-left turn the Ds have made in recent time, suddenly there may be a lot of conservative Democrats wondering where their loyalties lie. And there’s a lot of long time Congressional Ds that may be sweating now. Don’t believe me? Just look at the polling. Read the rest of this entry »