ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Counting Your Chickens

Before they hatch...

It looks like the Dems will be extremely ticked when they don't win the House in November. I mean, they're jockeying for position and the election is still over a month away!

Courting votes for next year
By Josephine Hearn

The two Democrats vying to become House majority leader next year are courting Democratic candidates likely to win in November, hoping to reach out early to those who may one day have a say in their promotion.

Rival Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Jack Murtha (Pa.) have been discreetly raising the issue with candidates, even as they campaign to ensure that Democrats will win control of the House, without which their contest for the majority leader post cannot take place.

“It’s being done on both sides,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a Murtha supporter, referring to the efforts to reach out to candidates. “It would be remiss not to do it.”

In a Democratic House, freshman would number not fewer than 27 — at least 15 from previously Republican districts, plus as many as 12 replacing Democrats who are retiring or running for higher office. That bloc of new members, who lack the entrenched loyalties of incumbents, is enticing to both campaigns.

Hoyer, the minority whip, has long been active with candidates, traveling around the country on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to recruit promising challengers, raise money, hold press events and mentor new recruits through the ups and downs of the campaign season.

Hoyer has visited candidates in 31 districts this cycle, an aide said, and directly contributed over $600,000 to candidates.

Murtha has traveled as well, hitting districts in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, but he lacks the breadth and depth of relationships Hoyer enjoys, said members and aides on both sides.

“It’s a slight advantage, yes,” Pascrell conceded. “Because [Hoyer] has been involved in so many other elections, no one can argue Steny’s status with candidates, [but] Jack is very well regarded for his work on the committees. In the last five years, Jack has emerged as an individual people will pay attention to because Iraq and 9/11 is the subject at hand.”

Among current Democratic lawmakers, Murtha is undoubtedly a giant, but to candidates, he is known largely for his outspoken stance on Iraq, said Democratic sources.

“I am sure Mr. Murtha is a fine person, but Congressman Hoyer came out to my district, held a fundraiser for me. He met with the press. He’s been a mentor for questions, a coach, essentially a father figure,” said a Democratic candidate in a competitive race who asked to remain anonymous.

The candidate went on to suggest that Murtha’s position on Iraq made him too polarizing for the district.

“I have an incredible respect for [Murtha’s] service background, but in regard to the war, I’m trying to give my own presentation.”
No word from Murtha about all of these people questioning his patriotism. (I assume that if you don't support Murtha on everything, you're questioning his patriotism... At least, that's what I've come to understand...)
Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.), a Murtha ally, downplayed the influence of campaign work on leadership races.

“Does that personal contact matter? Yes. Does it translate into votes? No. Candidates are thinking about their own races right now, not this race.”

Capuano was confident of Murtha’s standing even before the new members were counted, predicting that Murtha would win by a “measurable degree.”

Capuano estimated that there were still 30 to 35 uncommitted members in the race, 20 of whom had “vehemently opposed” the idea of starting the contest before the election.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) took issue with Capuano’s assessment.

“I thought that this campaign had been suspended,” he retorted. “It seems there is a lot of over-confident talk being thrown around while we should be concentrating on the November elections.”

But Dingell’s doubts about conducting a race now didn’t prevent him from throwing his support behind Hoyer.

“A majority of our caucus understands that Steny is the majority leader we need to help lead us when we take back the House,” he said.

If Murtha is to win, as Capuano contends, he must do so against a tide of newly elected members who have been helped by Hoyer. Many Democratic candidates running in swing districts are centrists, and centrists have traditionally sided with Hoyer.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), a Blue Dog who did not vote for Hoyer in the race for whip several years ago, said he was backing Hoyer now. He lauded the whip’s work with candidates.

“The phone calls he’s made, the trips around the country, the people he knows and the people who know him will all help his chances of being the next majority leader,” Ross said. “... How many Democratic candidates has he not met? The answer is very few.

“I have not one bad word to say about Jack Murtha, but I’ve seen Steny continue to work, working hard every year and I think he’s earned the right.”

Still, Murtha has a formidable track record on leadership races. He largely engineered Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) ascent to minority leader and Rep. John Larson’s (D-Conn.) victory in the race for caucus vice-chairman.

Asked whether Hoyer enjoyed an advantage among candidates, Murtha said only, “We’ll see.”

Murtha has been picking and choosing his opportunities across the country, at times taking a gamble in safe Democratic seats by endorsing a candidate before the primary. He backed Mike Erlandson, a Democratic candidate in Minnesota, before he lost to Keith Ellison in the primary. In New York, he had better luck, holding a town hall event for candidate Yvette Clarke shortly before she won her primary.

“It was extraordinary,” said Clarke, who was doing a victory tour around Capitol Hill yesterday. “We were gaining momentum at that time and [the visit] just threw the campaign into overdrive. That was significant. It wasn’t just an endorsement for endorsement’s sake.”

Hoyer, the minority whip, called her after the primary to offer his congratulations, but she knew little about him.

“I looked on the Internet afterwards and: Lo and behold!”

Clarke said she had no preference yet in the majority race, but she was scheduled yesterday to meet with Murtha.
And isn't it instructive that a new candidate for the House of Representatives doesn't know who Steny Hoyer is? Does that just show how ignorant she is or what?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (1)
TrueLiberal said...

The MSM dropped the ball again. They should open all interviews with new candidates by asking ...
"Do you know who the current President is? The VP? Your Senator? What day it is?

Just what the country needs another stupid Democrat in office.