Lincoln, NE: Beutler (D) Wins Mayoral Race

Final results:

  Ken Svoboda.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  23,958  48.88
  Chris Beutler .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  24,803  50.60
  James Bryan Wilson  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  12 .02 
  WRITE-IN. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  240   .48

Beutler ran a strong campaign, despite an unpopular Democratic mayor, he was able to be the candidate for change. It didn’t hurt that his opponent was a city hall veteran who only campaigned on his party label.

Nebraskans have long been able to look past the party to vote for the better candidate. This is another example of that progress.

The news was not all good for Democrats tonight, as a Democratic incumbent lost her seat on the city council, swinging it to Republican control. Svoboda, unfortunately, isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be on the city council for at least another two years.

Sneak Peek of the New ActBlue Fundraising Pages

From the ActBlue Blog

Fundraising pages are the most important component of ActBlue: the vast majority of visitors to the site arrive directly on a fundraising page because a friend, an organization, or a campaign has channeled them there.  We pride ourselves on these pages’ simplicity: donors can show up, immediately understand what’s going on, and contribute with no distracting bells and whistles. 

But we harbor a dirty secret (or, not-so-secret if you’ve been with us a while).

Over the past three years, $22 million raised, and 200,000+ donors, these pages haven’t actually changed all that much.  For a bit of nostalgia, check out the DailyKos dozen page as it looked back at the end of 2004 (compare to the same page with today’s look).  Yeah, the site framework has changed a little, but the makeup of the fundraising pages is remarkably similar.

Next week, all that is about to change.Comp_02_v3b_2

Motivated by a strong sense that we could do better (and by a desire to burn down HTML code approaching its second anniversary), a few weeks ago we got to work putting together a new design with the help of the excellent Steve Ofner of Liberal Art.  The result is the new design that that you see at right.  (Click the image for a full-size mockup.)

In putting the new design together we had several aims:

  • A sharper, more dynamic look & feel
  • A simpler user experience
  • A clearer presentation of the dollar and donor numbers
  • A more attention-grabbing "contribute" button at the top

The result is an improved page design that looks good with long candidate blurbs, short candidate blurbs, no candidate blurbs, or all of the above.

We’ll be rolling out this design next week, and will continue to refine it in the coming months — so please let us know what you think!

WV-02: Hoppy on Unger, Capito and GOP weakness in ’08

Hoppy Kercheval asks a question we’ve been asking for months: will State Sen. John Unger run? We’ve been trying to draft him (after our early effort to Draft ReddHedd (aka Christy Hardin Smith of FireDogLake failed).

The DCCC is also trying to draft him.

And while we’re open to other candidates (see also here, I believe competitive primaries make for better general election candidates and Anne Barth certainly has many fine qualities), Unger has succeeded at winning in red, and ultra important, Berkeley and Jefferson counties.


WHEN state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, answered his cell phone last Tuesday, it was Rahm Emanuel calling.

The Illinois congressman, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Caucus, told Unger: “You’ll win the election.”

Emanuel was talking about the Second District Congressional race in `08, a race Unger has not yet decided to enter, a race for the seat now held by one of the most popular and electable politicians in the state — Republican Shelley Moore Capito.

Unger is getting wooed mightily by state and national Democratic leaders to try to do what other Democrats have tried and failed to do.


  There is, Democratic strategists believe, some planetary alignment for `08, and the sprawling second district. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Gov. Joe Manchin — two recognizable and easily re-electable Democrats — will lead the state ticket in the next election. Their popularity and get-out-the vote efforts help other Democrats and encourage straight-ticket voting.

Second District voters have elected Capito four times, but it remains Democratic territory. Democrats outnumber Republicans in those 18 counties 60-40. Capito has always had to run uphill.


In 1998 Unger, then 28, came out of nowhere to upset incumbent state Sen. Harry Dugan in the 16th District. Unger believes a convergence of circumstances brought him to that race, and ultimately to victory.

Other points Kercheval does not raise, but that Clem and I and others have talked about in the past.

1. Capito’s fund raising in the first quarter of 2007 is far off from where she was in the same period in 2005.

2. The fund raising is especially important because she has to wage an air campaign since she’s awful at retail politics. Unger, meanwhile, a notoriously budget-conscious political campaigner, knows how to make every penny count. He also is renowned for his personal campaigning, with his walking campaign of his entire district. That face-to-face contact is invaluable in West Virginia. Capito so dreads meeting the public that during parades she walks surrounded by campaign staff in the middle of the route so she doesn’t have to make contact or speak with the public. Her last “town hall meeting” was done over the phone.

3. While Capito usually receives friendly press-coverage from the area newspapers like the Martinsburg Journal, blogs like West Virginia Blue are growing as alternative sources of information. It usually takes 12 months for a web site to reach its largest audience. This site should be peaking just in time for the 2008 race to be heating up.

4. The media, as shown even in the usually Republican friendly Charleston Daily Mail, is becoming more questioning and skeptical of her. The Huntington paper and others have improved of late at catching Capito in saying one thing and doing something else. 

5. Capito’s Congressional rating is appalling. Even when the Republicans controlled Congress she was in the bottom tier. Now she’s ranked 421 of 485. She’s not a freshman Congresswoman. She’s been at it for years. Yet she remains an ineffectual voice for West Virginia. Much of the time she takes credit for federal grants going to fire stations that would have received the money anyway through the grant application process. Other times, she takes credit for projects when the real credit should go to Senator Byrd and Senator Rockefeller — two of the highest rated members of Congress.

6. Rising dissatisfaction within GOP ranks over their own candidates. The West Virginia GOP’s bench is weak otherwise numerous reports of her contemplating a run against Rockefeller for the U.S. Senate in 2008 (Run, Shelley, run!) wouldn’t even be given credence. The top tier Republican candidates are loathed by their own base. Rudy Guiliana, Mitt Romney, and John McCain, have all been hit hard by the rightwing grassroots activists for various reasons. Is the conservative base going to support the formerly gay and abortion rights supporting Romney and Guiliana? Are the independents going to support McCain now that he’s no longer a maverick, but a Bush supporter? Are so-called “values” voters going to come out in numbers for serial adulterer Newt Gingrich? No. A weak Republican presidential ticket in 2008 is not going to help the rest of Capito’s party’s lower tier candidates.

Defeating Capito in 2008 won’t be easy. But if she were smart, she’d be sweating despite her past success. Whoever the Democratic candidate is, we’ve been working on the Nov. 4, 2008 election since Nov. 8, 2006.

Democrats can win in the rurals

When talking about trying to win the 2nd congressional district in Nevada, which encompasses almost all of Nevada except for the heavily populated parts of Clark County, you almost always encounter one argument: Democrats cannot win in the rurals.

Now, at first look that might be true, statewide Democratic candidates often lose the rural counties and often by a large margin. One reason for that might be that statewide Democratic candidates most often hail from Clark County and might not campaign too much in the rurals.

However, when you take a closer look you might come away shocked. Why? Because Democrats actually get elected in the rurals on a regular basis.

Just take a look at this list of current office holders who identified themselves as Democrats on the ballot:

Churchill County:

Vicky Tripp, County Recorder
John Serpa, County Public Administrator

Elko County:

Mike Nannini, County Commissioner

Esmeralda County:

Nancy Boland, County Commissioner
R.J. Gillum, County Commissioner
Karen Scott, County Auditor/Recorder

Eureka County:

Michael Rebaleati, County Recorder/Auditor

Lander County:

Gladys Burris, County Clerk

Lincoln County:

Bill Lloyd, County Commissioner
Leslie Boucher, County Recorder/Auditor
Kathy Hiatt, County Treasurer
Tommy Rowe, County Commissioner

Mineral County:

Ed Fowler, County Commissioner
Richard Bryant, County Commissioner
Cheri Emm-Smith, District Attorney

Nye County:

Gary Budahl, County Treasurer
Sandra Musselman, County Assessor

Pershing County:

Roger Mancebo, County Commissioner
Celeste Hamilton, County Assessor
Donna Giles, County Clerk/Treasurer
Darlene Moura, Recorder/Auditor
Dave Ayoob, County Commissioner

Storey County:

Harold Swafford, District Attorney

White Pine County:

Robert Bishop, County Assessor
RaLeene Makley, County Commissioner
Martha Rivera Sindelar, County Recorder

Now, that’s one impressive list. You know how I got this information? By skimming through the Secretary of State’s website and writing down each person who won an election in the last four years and was marked as a Democrat. By doing that I may have missed someone, and there may also be persons included who are registered as Democrats but might just be so called DINOs (Democrats in name only). But I have no way of knowing. Why? Because the Nevada State Democratic Party hasn’t actually advertised the fact that Democrats get routinely (and sometimes without even having an opponent) elected in the rurals. Just take a look at their page listing county commissioners. They list the five Clark County commissioners and Pete Sferrazza from Washoe County. That’s it. No mention of the county commissioners from Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Pershing, and White Pine counties.

What conclusions can be drawn from that list? Democrats can win in the rurals, so much is for sure. How do they win? My guess is by meeting the voters and proving that they’re more qualified for the job than their Republican opponent.

Ahead of her election as Chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, I asked Jill Derby about her experiences on the campaign trail. Here’s what she had to say:

I was able to connect with many people in all 17 of Nevada’s counties during my campaign for Congress. That experience provides me with a network of positive relationships with which to build the unity, focus, and cohesion which will be important to the Party in the year ahead. Democrats often talk about being the party of inclusion and I intend to make that happen by involving everyone – rural and urban, north and south. I also learned that many Nevadans are independent and not locked into strict party vote. I learned that reaching out and framing our message in ways that resonate beyond our traditional Democratic audience can bring support across party lines, and is particularly attractive to independent voters, of which there are many in Nevada.

In order for a Democratic candidate to beat Dean Heller next year, one can only encourage Jill Derby and hope she’ll focus more heavily on the rurals, highlight achievements in counties like Lincoln and Pershing, and set up a party structure in the rural counties.

Cross-posted from Helluva Heller, a group effort by Nevada bloggers to take on freshman Rep. Dean Heller (R, NV-02) and defeat him in 2008.

NM-Sen: Once Formidable, Domenici Continues to Bleed Support

The conventional wisdom has been that Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, an incumbent with 34 years of service in the Senate, is an institution in New Mexican political culture, and that it would take more than an inappropriate phone call or two to a U.S. Attorney to undo the reservoir of goodwill that the Senator has earned over his long tenure.

Well, think again.  SurveyUSA has come out with its second round of approval tracking since Pajama Pete’s role in the U.S. Attorney scandal broke, and the trendlines don’t look good for the old man:

Democrats should not wait any longer for a hypothetical Domenici retirement: the time to attack is now.  A prolonged, sustained third-party independent expenditure campaign hitting with the dual prongs of ethics and Iraq, where Domenici marches in lock-step with President Bush, could set the stage for a barnburner of a Senate race, whether the Senator retires or not.  Will a strong candidate step up to pile on the pressure?  (Rep. Tom Udall, anyone?)

Race Tracker: NM-Sen

(H/T: The Guru)

Update: New Mexico FBIHOP has more.