Firing away at a misidentified target

In a Comment to DavidNYC’s article, Blue Majority Page: Call for Nominations JeremiahTheMessiah raised a point:

**Our dollars can go further in races which, so far, have received less attention and institutional backing.**

So then why is Leslie Byrne on the list? … getting sufficient institutional support, already has Webb doing fundraisers, has a contested primary, etc.

So what’s the answer here?

Much more below the fold.

I grew up in Texas, live in NYC. Never heard nor seen Ms. Byrne nor Mr Connolly. I only know what I read online.

Matt Stoller wrote the intro when she got the nod, so maybe something got him excited. But here at SSP the endorsement got only one Comment, about the competitiveness of the district, not a word about the horse picked in the primary.

Go back to the Comments on Stoller on dKos — I’ve never seen so much negative feedback about a candidate put on the Netroots/Blue Majority list. (Condensed & emphasis added.)

I can only hope that she has learned from past campaigns. She ran very poorly in her statewide Lt Gov race, and does not have a great history as a campaigner.

Not impressed with her. I was her constituent when she was in Congress, heck I was her constituent when she was a delegate & state senator. So I know Ms. Byrne and still cringe over her proposed law to make sleeping in a room in your house other than your bedroom illegal.

Not to pour water on the bonfire … I live in VA-11 and I’m not sure she’s a good fit for this district … a very edgy reputation, comes across as a bit too ideological/partisan for many independents. The voters in VA-11 are VERY moderate and ripe for Dem takeover but not sure if they want someone like her.

She’d be a better rep than Connolly, but I have my doubts she can win. She lost the Lt. Gov. race, and that was not a race we should have lost.

Andy Hurst (the ’06 Dem candidate for the 11th) endorsed Connolly

Hate to be a wet blanket. But Byrne … tends to be abrasive and obnoxious. She lost a number of legislative elections, including a recent contest for the VA State Senate. Connolly is a shoo-in. Moreover, he’s a fine progressive Democrat.

Just before the VA primary, I got either an Email or a flyer with Byrne’s picture and statement in favor of HRC. Can’t find the original. Ms. Byrne now claims not to have endorsed (her husband works for HRC, as she did during the Clinton years).

Gosh, no … my congresswoman growing up, one of the worst attendance records in the VA State Senate … a competitiveness that many find abrasive, a history of alienating colleagues. I voted for her in 2005, but that doesn’t mean I believe she is the best candidate.  Not by a long shot.

I’ll say this: The hope is Leslie Byrne has learned something over the last 15 years. In 1992 my wife and I volunteered for her campaign – worked the phones, licked the envelopes, walked the neighborhoods. She won! In 1994 we called to offer our help: “We don’t need you” we were told …

Altogether only 50 Comments, very few for a frontpage article on dKos. And 5 or 10 were sort of off-topic. Above I tried to avoid quoting anyone more than once. So a huge share of the Comments were decidedly negative.

Oh, yeah. About her bad guy opponent. Gerry Connelly’s website, on the Issues:

“I bring a passion for progressive values, and an ethic of getting things done. I want to bring that same ethic — the expectation that government will work for its citizens — to Congress.”

End the War in Iraq

For 10 years, Gerry Connolly was a senior staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has the experience to work with the new administration to end the war in Iraq and restore American credibility around the world.

Enact Comprehensive Health Care Reform

The next President and Congress must act boldly to control rising health care costs and provide quality, affordable care for the 47 million uninsured Americans. Connolly will work with a broad coalition to design a plan that emphasizes preventive coverage and makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions.

Provide Strong Environmental Leadership

Connolly worked with the Sierra Club to champion the “Cool Counties” initiative to combat global warming. In Congress, he will lead the effort to promote energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They say Connolly is pro-business and pro-developer. Well, I hope it takes more than being “pro-business” to get your opponent endorsed around here. And “pro-developer.” Dayum, I thought that was a job requirement for his current position. Somebody wanna work up a short list of all the anti-development county execs elected in the last few decades?

I was very disappointed to see this intervention in a hotly contested primary where for the life of me I cannot see national implications.

This endorsement runs the risk of diverting thousands of dollars from candidates and races that clearly meet the declared standards of the Blue Majority page. When you put Gary Trauner or Joe Garcia on the list, I get excited. Leslie Byrne, not so much.

VA-10 is one of the richest districts in the U.S., part of the extremely costly Washington-Baltimore media market. Now precious Blue Majority dollars will be poured into a big spending primary against a well-funded and popular Democrat, a self-described anti-War progressive. To me that’s a wanton waste of our resources.

(Our dollars can go further in races which, so far, have received less attention and institutional backing.)

Less attention than a costly open-seat race in a newly competitive battleground state?

How blue is the district or state?

Well, how blue is VA? How blue is this district? Is this the one where Blue Majority can make the most difference? Or would that have been Tom Perriello, VA-5, against Virgil Goode? Or even Judy Feder against in VA-10 against Frank Wolf?

In conclusion [insert roar of applause here] the standards for endorsing in a contested primary should be extremely high. If the high hurdles aren’t met, hold off until a nominee is chosen.

Meanwhile put the emphasis back on races like Steve Sarvi in MN, Sam Bennett in PA, Tom Perriello VA-5, Kay Barnes in MO-06, Vic Wulsin in OH-02, Jane Mitakides in OH-03, Anne Barth in WVa-02, Annette Taddeo in FL-18, Betsey Markey in CO-04, — either Ann Kirkpatrick, the front runner, or Mary Kim Titla, a Native American, AFTER the primary — in AZ-01, Jill Derby in NV-02, Debbie Cook in CA-46, or even Chris Rothfuss (WY-Sen).

DavidNYC, you guys need to keep a closer eye on Matt Stoller. Sometimes over there those guys go off and see Bush Dogs where there are none, ya now what I mean?

Roundup of Ohio Congressional Races

Following the break is a complete roundup and ranking of Ohio races for the U.S. House of Representatives. I have separated them into Republican-held and Democratic-held seats and divided each into tiers. Within each tier they are ranked in order of likelihood of changing parties.

Democrats were very successful in 2006 in winning a U.S. Senate seat, four out of five statewide offices, and a net gain of seven seats in the Ohio House of Representatives, but  the U.S. House races were a relative disappointment. The party gained only one seat and watched two promising races end in narrow losses after recounts. In this cycle Ohio has three open GOP seats and perhaps four or five races altogether that already look very promising, with another two or three that could be added to that list. The DCCC has already added three races to their “Red to Blue” program and is likely to take an interest in at least two more. In other words, Ohio is once again a critical congressional battleground.

Republican-Held Seats

Tier One: Toss-Up

15th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and west and northwest suburbs, Hilliard, Marysville). Cook PVI R+1.1. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce (R) defeated Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by just over 1,000 votes. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 62.1% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is running almost like an incumbent after her photo finish in 2006 and the retirement of her opponent. She has raised an impressive amount of money and has strong support from labor, womens’ groups (including Emily’s List) and among students, who are very numerous in this district. She is an energetic campaigner although not the most polished of public speakers. Opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), an Iraq veteran and former bank lobbyist, is a strong adversary with big support from the business community. Independent candidate Don Elijah Eckhart (I-Galloway) figures to take a few votes away from Stivers.

16th District NE Ohio (includes Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Wadsworth, Medina, Wooster, Ashland). Cook PVI R+3.6. Bush won 54% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Ralph Regula (R), who is retiring, fared poorly in the GOP primary (58% to 43% over conservative Matt Miller (R-Ashland)) and defeated political novice Rev. Tom Shaw (D-Wooster) by the surprisingly narrow margin of 59% to 41% in the general election. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.8% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Iraq veteran and former collegiate baseball star State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a terrific candidate and is adored in his state legislative district. This congressional district unfortunately includes only a tiny slice of his home turf, but Boccieri is working very hard to build name recognition here and he has the energy and political talent to make it work. Opponent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), a moderate, is strong in vote-rich Stark County but barely escaped a three-way primary against two more conservative opponents. The keys to this election are whether the Republican base turns out for Schuring and whether Boccieri can hold down Schuring’s advantage in blue-trending Stark County while gaining big vote totals elsewhere.

Tier Two: Leans Republican

1st District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and western suburbs). Cook PVI R+1. Bush won 50% of the vote in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Steve Chabot (R) defeated second-time challenger Councilman John Cranley (D) by 53% to 47%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 55.4% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) defied pundits and polls by holding off a hard-charging challenger last cycle. State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) is thought to be a stronger opponent because his base is in the suburbs rather than the city, and like Cranley before him he has moderate-to-conservative positions on social issues that should have cross-over appeal in this swing district. Chabot was the target of independent attack ads over his votes against expanding SCHIP during the past year. Independent Rich Stevenson (I) is also in the race.

2nd District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and eastern suburbs, Lebanon, Portsmouth). Cook PVI R+13. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent Jean Schmidt (R) defeated Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D) by less than 3,000 votes (51% to 49%) in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 57.2% Democratic.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) has embarrassed herself on the floor of the House with her assault on Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and by plagiarism in a constituent newsletter and exaggerating her credentials, but she is probably in a stronger position now than 2006 because she has completed a full term in office. Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) emerged victorious from a bruising primary in which she endured withering (and unsubstantiated) attacks on her medical ethics. Wulsin takes heart from having outgained Schmidt in their respective primaries (54,965 to 40,891) and from having gained more Democratic votes and coming closer to winning in 2006 than any previous Democratic candidate since 1980. She is an experienced campaigner after two previous outings. Independent David Krikorian (I) is reportedly gathering signatures to join the race.

Tier Three: Likely Republican

14th District NE Ohio (includes northeast suburbs of Akron, Willoughby, Mentor, Ashtabula). Cook PVI R+2. Bush won 52% in 2004. Incumbent Steve LaTourette (R) defeated law professor Lew Katz (D) by 58% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 64.9% Democratic.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Chagrin Falls) has his toughest opponent since he defeated incumbent Eric Fingerhut (D) 14 years ago. Vietnam veteran and former appellate judge William O’Neill (D-South Russell) has good name recognition from his appellate judicial races and 2006 Ohio Supreme Court bid, has raised serious money (although he is still far behind LaTourette), and has a direct, plain-spoken personality (softened by his remarkable second career as a pediatric ER nurse) that should serve him well in this suburban-to-rural swing district. LaTourette’s biggest assets have been his ability to bring home federal dollars, which is blunted by being in the minority, and his reputation as a moderate, which is questionable. LaTourette is somewhat tainted by links to Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, breaking a promise to vote against CAFTA, and his divorce and affair with a staffer whom he latter married. Unfortunately O’Neill underwent heart bypass surgery recently that will slow him down for another month or so, but he is a determined and formidable candidate who could elevate this to a top tier race.

Tier Four: High Probability Republican

7th District. South Central Ohio (includes southwest suburbs of Columbus, Lancaster, Xenia, Circleville, Springfield). Cook PVI R+6.0. Bush won 57% in 2004. Retiring incumbent Dave Hobson defeated repeat challenger Bill Conner (D) by 61% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 52.9% Democratic.

This race has upside potential because it is an open seat. Corporate attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) emerged from a six-way primary through hard work and a skillful direct mailing campaign. She is a first-time candidate but she has displayed excellent potential for fund-raising, has brought aboard first-rate campaign staff, and is dedicated to taking the necessary steps to run a seriously competitive campaign. I am hoping that she will work on displaying more passion in her public speaking, which on the occasion I heard her was somewhat low-key. State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) is photogenic and has the support of the incumbent but hasn’t particularly distinguished himself as a state legislator.

3rd District. SW Ohio (includes Dayton and southern suburbs, Kettering, Miamisburg). Cook PVI R+3. Bush won 54% in 2004. Incumbent Michael Turner (R) defeated former federal prosecutor Richard Chema (D) by 59% to 41% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.2% Democratic.

This should be a swing district based on the strong performance here by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2006. It was held by Democrat Tony Hall from 1981 to 2003. Unfortunately, incumbent Rep. Michael Turner (R-Centerville) benefits from having been Mayor of Dayton, where most of the Democratic votes are located. Nevertheless, business woman and long-time political activist Jane Mitakides (D) gave Turner a fairly stiff challenge in 2004 (gaining 37.7% of the vote) and figures to improve in her second campaign and with an electorate yearning for change. Questions have been raised about Turner’s ethics, including a no-bid contract that benefited his spouse, and this could give Mitakides something of an opening if she is willing to exploit it.

12th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and northeast suburbs, Dublin, Delaware). Cook PVI R+0.7. Bush won 51% in 2004. Incumbent Pat Tiberi (R) defeated former Congressman Bob Shamansky (D) by 58% to 42% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 56.6% Democratic.

Businessman and political novice David W. Robinson (D) won a tough primary and is an intriguing candidate with possible crossover appeal. He has interesting credentials like a Ph.D. in theology and philosophy, a cross-country bicycle fund-raising trek for Alzheimers research, and working as a Presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project initiative. If he had the benefit of political experience I’d move this race up to the next tier. [After some reflection I decdied that this race belongs in Tier Four because of the relatively even PVI and the challenger’s strong showing in a tough primary.] Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Westerville) is not a distinguished member of the House but held onto his seat in 2006 with nasty attack ads against his challenger.

Tier Five: Safe Republican

4th District West Central Ohio (includes Mansfield, Findlay, Marion, Lima, Bellefontaine, Sidney). Cook PVI R+14. Bush won 64% in 2004. Freshman Jim Jordan (R) defeated attorney Richard Siferd (D) by 60% to 40% in 2006.

Steelworker and labor union activist Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) deserves a lot of credit for taking on freshman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), and this district has the second highest percentage of blue collar workers in Ohio, but it is the reddest district in the state and hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1936.

8th District. West Ohio includes northern Dayton suburbs, Troy, Hamilton, Fairfield). Cook PVI R+12. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent (and House Speaker) John Boehner defeated political novice Morton Meier (D) by 64% to 36% in 2006.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester)  has enormous campaign resources. Political activist and USAF veteran Nick Von Stein (D-Mason) is a personable and promising young candidate but this hill looks too steep to climb.

5th District. North Central Ohio (includes Norwalk, Bucyrus, Tiffin, Defiance, Bowling Green, Fremont). Cook PVI R+10.1. Bush won 61% in 2004. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), who defeated repeat challenger Robin Weirauch by 57% to 43% in 2006, died in September 2007 and State Rep. Bob Latta (R) defeated Weirauch by the same margin in a special election in December.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) is safe against tanning salon and karaoke entrepreneur George F. Mays (D-Norwalk), formerly a member of the fringe Reform Party.

Democratic-Held Seats

There are no open Democratic seats and at this point there aren’t any Democratic incumbents seriously at risk.

Tier One: Leans Democratic

18th District East Central Ohio (includes Chillicothe, Zanesville, Mt. Vernon, Newark and New Philadelphia). Cook PVI R+6.1. Bush won 57% in 2004. In 2006,  disgraced incumbent Bob Ney (R-Heath) resigned late in the campaign and Dover Law Director Zack Space (D) defeated replacement candidate State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) by 62% to 38%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 72.5% Democratic.

Just about a year ago this was considered the NRCC’s number one target nationwide. Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has greatly increased his chances of holding this seat by raising over a million dollars and engaging in a remarkable series of high-visibility events throughout this far-flung district. He gets great local press and does strong case work through three district offices. He has staked out relatively conservative (and infuriating)  positions on guns and immigration that help him with conservative voters and buttress his claim to be a political independent. His opponent, former Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon), is not a top-notch challenger. He got 39% of the vote in a four-way GOP primary, is not considered an exciting personality or hard-working campaigner, and has lingering problems with some farmers for giving environment-damaging factory farms a free pass while running the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The NRCC and 527’s will probably pour resources into this race to try to take Space out, but he nevertheless seems to be in fairly good shape.

Tier Two: High Probability Democratic

6th District. SE Ohio (includes Athens, Marietta, Steubenville, East Liverpool). Cook PVI D+0.4. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) won the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate (he had filed defective nominating petitions) and cruised to an easy general election win over former Ohio House Speaker Charles Blasdel (R) by 62% to 38% to replace Gov. Ted Strickland in this Appalachian district. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 74.6% Democratic.

Popular Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) should prevail easily over Deputy County Recorder Richard Stobbs (R-Dillonvale) in a district that has trended strongly blue due to the popularity of Gov Strickland.

10th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and southern and western suburbs). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Dennis Kucinich (D) defeated former U.S. government official Mike Dovilla (R) by 66% to 34%.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) would have had a serious primary challenge from rising political force Joe Cimperman (D) if there hadn’t been three other Democrats in the race, but he should be fine against former state representative Jim Trakas (R-Independence) and independent candidate Paul Visokaj (I). [After some reflection I decided that this race belongs in Tier Two because the challenger has campaign experience, the primary revealed significant (although not over powering) dissatisfaction with the incumbent, and the PVI is not as strong as in most of the safer districts.]

Tier Three: Safe Democratic

13th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Akron and eastern suburbs, Cuyahoga Falls, Lorain, Elyria, Brnswick, Strongsville). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 56% in 2004. In 2006 former state representative and labor attorney Betty Sutton (D) won a close Democratic primary and handily defeated Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin (R) by 61% to 39% in the general election to replace Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).

The GOP took their best shot when this was an open seat last cycle and lost by a country mile. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) isn’t at risk to political newcomer David S. Potter (R).

9th District North Central Ohio (includes Toledo, Sylvania, Sandusky). Cook PVI D+9. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D) defeated electrician Bradley Leavitt (R) by 74% to 26%.

No chance for Bradley Leavitt (R-Toledo) in his rematch against the Dean of the Ohio Congressional Delegation and labor favorite Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in this heavily blue-collar district.

17th District NE Ohio (includes Youngstown, Niles, Warren, Kent). Cook PVI D+14. Kerry won 63% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Tim Ryan (D) defeated Don Manning (R) by 80% to 20%.

No worries for Pelosi protege and potential 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) over teacher Duane V. Grassell (R-Mogadore).

11th District NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and eastern suburbs). Cook PVI D+33. Kerry won 81.39% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Stephanie Tubbs Jones demolished car salesman Lindsey String by 83% to 17%.

No sweat for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) over political unknown Thomas Pekarek (R) in Ohio’s bluest congressional district.

Cross-posted at Ohio Daily Blog

FL-25: Joe Garcia Statement on Breaking Bush Aide Resignation

Felipe Sixto, an aide for the Bush administration has resigned today over alleged financial wrongdoing with his former employer, the right-wing Center for Free Cuba. This case has resemblances to the recent RNCC scandal involving Christopher Ward, another Republican political operative who stole money from Republican party funds. Republicans don’t just cheat the country, they cheat their own party and interest groups who fund their campaigns too.

MSNBC:

“Felipe Sixto was promoted on March 1 as a special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and stepped forward on March 20 to reveal his alleged wrongdoing and to resign, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Friday. He said Sixto took that step after learning that his former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba, was prepared to bring legal action against him.

Stanzel said the alleged wrongdoing involved the misuse of money when Sixto was an official at the center.”

Joe Garcia, candidate for the 25th district of Florida, released the following statement on the resignation:

“Today’s developments underscore the fundamental flaws of a policy designed to win votes in Miami and patronize partisan supporters — not bring freedom to Cuba.

As I have consistently stated in the past, millions of dollars intended to fuel a democratic change in Cuba are ending up in the hands of Bush/Diaz-Balart cronies and never make it to the island. While some of the funds are being properly used, and the program should continue, it is shameful that Bush/Diaz-Balart sidekicks have used it to take advantage of the generosity of the American taxpayer in order to enrich their friends and political allies.

In 2006, the Bush administration was warned by the Government Accountability Office that federal funds to Cuba were being grossly mismanaged and they did nothing. The GAO uncovered that “USAID’s internal controls over the awarding of Cuba program grants and the oversight of grantees do not provide adequate assurance that the grant funds are being used properly or that grantees are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.” The report further detailed instances where the review process for granting awards was never completed. The USAID also failed to follow-up with several award recipients to ensure proper use of the funds.

Presented with this compelling evidence, the Bush administration sat on their hands and allowed taxpayer dollars to be wasted. Accordingly, American policy should require that at least 80% of these funds make it to dissident groups on the island. It’s time to move beyond the Bush/Diaz-Balart do-nothing politics of cronyism and corruption.”

This case could have repercussions in our three South Florida congressional races. The Center for a Free Cuba has been an ardent supporter of the Bush agenda and a leading agent against removing the counterproductive restrictions on family remittances and travel to Cuba. The organization has often called Democrats standing in their way communists and Castro supporters and they have already started doing so against our three challengers.

Stories like this show what Republican rhetoric really is about, fear-mongering and reactionary style politics meant to win elections rather than real substance that will bring change to Cuba.

As Joe Garcia recently stated at DWT on a post on Cuba policy and divisive Republican rhetoric, “We need to put control back into the hands of the Cuban people to make Democracy in Cuba possible. The time to act responsibly is now. We must end the demagoguery about Cuba and allow the wishes of the constituents of the 25th district to prevail.”

The end of the fundraising quarter is just days away. Please help Blue Majority endorsed Joe Garcia fight back against Republican tactics on Cuba by contributing to the campaign on Act Blue.

Disclosure: Member of Joe Garcia Campaign team.

The PVI-Voting Pattern Index

(Phenomenal work. Promoted from the diaries with an edit to the title by DavidNYC.)

Lots of people in the blogosphere want to primary Bad Dems. Used wisely, that’s a good thing. It can wake up a Blue Dog on cruise control in a dark blue district (Jane Harman); sometimes, it can even lead to a victory and a Better Dem (Donna Edwards).

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen any sort of metric that helps us decide who’s a worthwhile primary target, i.e. who’s way out of whack with his or her district, versus someone who’s an odious Blue Dog but who’s the best we can manage in a red district and someone to be welcomed into the big tent (if sometimes secretly grumbled about). So, here’s my stab at it.

It’s based on this proposition: the representative in the most liberal district should have the most liberal voting record. The representative in the most conservative district should have the most conservative voting record. The representative in the 217th most liberal district should have the 217th most liberal voting record. And so on. Of course, in reality, it doesn’t always work like that. But finding the representatives whose voting records are severely mismatched with their districts’ lean helps us find the Bad Dems who need some prodding. And as a bonus, it also helps us find the Republicans who should theoretically be extra vulnerable in a general election: the wingnuts hiding in moderate districts.

To that end, I’ve developed the PVI-Voting Pattern Index. It simply rates every district from most Democratic to most Republican in its presidential preference, and rates every representative from most liberal to most conservative, and looks at the differentials.

Let’s start with the Dems who are underperforming their districts: in other words, the ones with super-safe districts who are voting in the middle of the pack, or ones with bluish districts who are voting conservatively.

Rep. District PVI PVI rank PP NJ Liberal rank Difference
A. Davis AL-07 D+17 62 91.77 61.3 179 -117
Meek FL-17 D+35 10 94.76 76.5 117 -107
Rangel NY-15 D+43 2 94.85 80.3 105 -103
Jefferson LA-02 D+28 26 95.14 73 121 -95
E.B. Johnson TX-30 D+26 29 93.97 77.7 123 -94
Fattah PA-02 D+39 4 94.95 82.2 96 -92
Lipinski IL-03 D+10 102 90.93 54.7 191 -89
S.T. Jones OH-11 D+33 16 95.28 79 104 -88
Doyle PA-14 D+22 39 94.58 75.2 125 -86
C. Brown FL-03 D+16 64 94.39 67.7 142 -78
R. Brady PA-01 D+36 8 95.35 84 83.5 -75.5
Rush IL-01 D+35 11 95.61 82.8 86.5 -75.5
Meeks NY-06 D+38 6 96.24 83.3 76 -70
Engel NY-17 D+21 44 93.12 83.3 111 -67
Lynch MA-09 D+15 68 94.07 72.3 135 -67
G. Green TX-29 D+8 124 91.21 56.5 189 -65
Towns NY-10 D+41 3 96.37 84.2 67 -64
T. Ryan OH-17 D+14 73 94.36 70.3 136 -63
M. Udall CO-02 D+8 121 90.94 60.2 184 -63
Serrano NY-16 D+43 1 97.54 78 63 -62
J. Cooper TN-05 D+6 139 85.7 54.7 200 -61
Berkley NV-01 D+9 115 92.01 61.8 173 -58
P. Stark CA-13 D+22 40 96.24 75.2 98 -58
Reyes TX-16 D+9 111 92.54 61.8 166.5 -55.5
Sires NJ-13 D+23 37 95.67 80.3 92 -55
Cummings MD-07 D+25 32 96.51 77.5 86.5 -54.5
Maloney NY-14 D+26 31 96.06 80 85 -54
Capuano MA-08 D+33 20 97.16 79.2 73.5 -53.5
Emanuel IL-05 D+18 57 95.96 72.3 110 -53
Barrow GA-12 D+2 178 68.22 45.8 228.5 -50.5

Frankly, I was surprised to see so many members of the Congressional Black Caucus on the list, especially since most of the ones on the list have pretty progressive records (although it certainly does shine the spotlight on the ones with more centrist records, like Artur Davis and Kendrick Meek… those two, plus Greg Meeks, are the only members of both the CBC and the New Democrat Caucus). The formula is pretty unforgiving, and it can be hard to live up to having one of the most Democratic leaning seats in the nation.

It may be more interesting to focus on people who have the less safe seats, but not so dangerous as to justify sketchier voting records. Mr. Lipinski you’re all familiar with, but this list also points, for instance, to Jim Cooper, a Blue Dog in a D+6 seat based in Nashville, or John Barrow, the second most conservative Democrat in the House, who sits in a D+2 seat.

Now, let’s turn to the good news: the Democrats who are vastly overperforming their districts. These are a mix of Blue Dogs holding down the fort in some of the nation’s most conservative districts, and flat-out progressives based in light-blue or swing districts.

Rep. District PVI PVI rank PP NJ Liberal rank Difference
C. Edwards TX-17 R+18 406 89.55 53.7 196 210
Pomeroy ND-AL R+13 360 90.61 61.3 183 177
Matheson UT-02 R+17 397 77.65 49.2 220 177
G. Taylor MS-04 R+16 393 73.46 46.3 225.5 167.5
Lampson TX-22 R+15 380 71.24 47 227 153
Skelton MO-04 R+11 339 89.50 54.3 195 144
Hinchey NY-22 D+6 142 98.02 92.5 12 130
Herseth SD-AL R+11 328 86.43 53.7 204.5 123.5
Price NC-04 D+6 141 97.42 90.7 24 117
Boucher VA-09 R+7 297 91.91 58.3 181.5 115.5
Spratt SC-05 R+6 279 91.54 63.7 170.5 108.5
Capps CA-23 D+9 112 98.29 94 6.5 105.5
Chandler KY-06 R+7 294 90.48 55.3 193 101
Filner CA-51 D+7 132 97.23 91.5 32 100
Holt NJ-12 D+8 128 97.42 89.7 28 100
Boyda KS-02 R+7 301 85.66 53.8 204.5 96.5
Holden PA-17 R+7 293 89.75 53.2 197 96
Mollohan WV-01 R+6 281 92.00 56.7 185 96
Shea-Porter NH-01 D+0 197 95.39 78.5 102.5 94.5
Grijalva AZ-07 D+10 107 98.53 89.2 15 92

Now, let’s look at the Republicans. A low OWI score shows which GOP representatives are, as it were, overperforming their lean of their districts, by being hardcore dead-enders in districts that should elect moderates, or better yet, Democrats.

Rep. District PVI PVI rank PP NJ Liberal rank Difference
Kline MN-02 R+3 228 2.11 9.3 400 -172
Feeney FL-24 R+3 236 2.18 12 396 -160
Chabot OH-01 R+1 201 5.25 17.5 353 -152
Mica FL-07 R+4 248 3.2 8.3 394 -146
Bachmann MN-06 R+5 266 1.48 10.8 405 -139
P. Ryan WI-01 R+2 218 3.97 20.3 352 -134
Garrett NJ-05 R+4 253 3.10 14.7 383 -130
Shadegg AZ-03 R+6 284 2.23 6.7 409 -125
Walberg MI-07 R+2 226 3.80 20.7 350 -124
Roskam IL-06 R+3 232 5.05 16.8 355 -123
Putnam FL-12 R+5 274 2.62 12.3 390 -116
Franks AZ-02 R+9 315 0.74 6.7 421 -106
S. King IA-05 R+8 311 1.12 8.8 414 -103
Gallegly CA-24 R+5 260 6.19 14 360 -100
Tiberi OH-12 R+1 205 8.12 25.3 304 -99
Fossella NY-13 D+1 186 11.51 29.7 285 -99
H. Wilson NM-01 D+2 173 19.26 31.7 272 -99
P. King NY-03 D+2 179 18.78 27.8 277 -98
M. Rogers MI-08 R+2 216 6.53 22.2 314 -98
Latham IA-04 D+0 190 13.10 26 287 -97

It’s heartening to see that a lot of these guys are already being targeted by the DCCC this cycle (Feeney, Chabot, Bachmann, Walberg, Shadegg). Also, I see more names that are on the “Races to Watch” lists of a lot of people here (Kline, Garrett).

Finally, let’s look at the Republicans who are more moderate than their districts would predict. There isn’t that much we can do with this list, other than thank them (or sit back and watch as the Club for Growth primaries them, as we saw with Wayne Gilchrest this year), so I’m just holding it to 10 names. It’s an interesting mix of representatives from red districts who’ve turned against the war, and very conservative representatives from super-red districts who just aren’t as crazy as the voters in their districts.

Rep. District PVI PVI rank PP NJ Liberal rank Difference
W. Jones NC-03 R+15 383 27.48 42 236 147
Simpson ID-02 R+19 408 18.92 33.2 270 138
J. Moran KS-01 R+20 413 12.69 34.7 275.5 137.5
Paul TX-14 R+14 379 16.72 39.8 259 120
Platts PA-19 R+12 357 21.76 38.5 251 106
Gilchrest MD-01 R+10 327 39.71 48.3 224 103
D. Young AK-AL R+14 368 16.05 35.8 270 98
Coble NC-06 R+17 403 5.61 27.8 305 98
Aderholt AL-04 R+16 387 10.20 26.8 290 97
Emerson MO-08 R+11 342 22.80 39.8 245.5 96.5

Some of the more observant of you might be wondering about how there’s one name missing… the name that’s come to signify that Bad Dems can, in fact, be beaten? Some of the others of you might be wondering who are the representatives who exactly match their districts, with almost no difference between their record and the district’s lean? Well, the answer to both of those questions is: Al Wynn. Somewhat surprisingly, for his 2007 voting record, he was right on the mark. MD-04, at D+30, is the 23rd most Democratic district. He had a Progressive Punch score of 97.14 and a National Journal score of 95, making him the 22nd most liberal representative. That’s a differential of 1.

So what does that mean? Did we target the wrong man? Nope… turns out, savvy politician that he is, he veered sharply to the left in 2007, worried by his previous narrow primary victory and anticipating the rematch. Here’s a chart that illustrates the U-turn: Progressive Punch also puts together lifetime scores, so I compared those against district lean too. Observe how most of the Lifetime Bad Dems are the same as the 2007 Bad Dems, but check out who’s #2 on the list:

Rep. District PVI PVI rank Lifetime PP Liberal rank Difference
Doyle PA-14 D+22 42 76.23 200 -158
Wynn MD-04 D+30 24 86.23 142 -118
Jefferson LA-02 D+28 27 86.54 140 -113
A. Davis AL-07 D+17 65 82.49 172 -107
Crowley NY-07 D+28 28 87.72 134 -106
Meek FL-17 D+35 10 88.70 116 -106
R. Andrews NJ-01 D+14 77 80.69 182 -105
R. Brady PA-01 D+36 8 89.25 108.5 -100.5
J. Moran VA-08 D+14 81 81.40 178 -97
Meeks NY-06 D+38 6 89.56 100 -94

Now, Wynn’s turnaround of 10.91, from a lifetime score of 86.23 to a 2007 score of 97.14, wasn’t the biggest gain of any Democrat… not by a long shot. The biggest jumps, perhaps unsurprisingly, were among the Blue Dogs, who had lower scores to begin with, and an opportunity to make up more ground by voting with the new Democratic majority. The biggest jump belonged to Ike Skelton, who went from 63.46 to 89.5, and the 3rd biggest jump was John Murtha, shooting up from 70.85 to 94.67.

In fact bigger jumps were shown by many of the other Dems subject to internal challenges or the threat thereof, often at the behest of the netroots: Jane Harman (who’s #13 on the Lifetime Bad Dem list) went from 79.08 to 93.32, Ellen Tauscher went from 84.01 to 95.97, and even Henry Cuellar beat Wynn, going from 74.25 to 85.24. (In case you’re wondering, only one Dem went in reverse: Nick Lampson went from a lifetime score of 75.28 to a 2007 score of 71.24, perhaps to compensate for his new very red district.)

So, there’s something here for both people from the “more” Democrats school and the “better” Democrats school to chew on. Primary challenges can sometimes be effective, but they have to be chosen wisely, and the best targets may not always be the most conservative. Also, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit in the form of unpleasant right-wingers in light-red and swing districts; let’s get picking!

Methodological notes: Districts are rated according to PVI. There would be a lot of ties if I just used the Cook PVI ratings, so I took the actual vote totals in each district and used the PVI formula to recalculate PVIs to enough significant digits where aren’t any ties.

Representatives are rated according to the 2007-08 Progressive Punch scores and their 2007 National Journal composite scores, to smooth out any hiccups caused by one or the other compilers’ methods. To further increase the sample size I would have liked to also include DW-Nominate scores (which don’t cherry-pick votes but include all votes and measure representatives’ deviations from each other), but those won’t be published for the 110th Congress until it’s over in 2009, and to include ADA scores, but there isn’t enough differentiation there (for instance, 78 different representatives got a score of 95). Rather than averaging their two scores (where you run into an apples & oranges problem) and ranking the averaged scores, I ranked each representative from 1 to 422 on each score, then averaged their two rankings, then ranked the averaged rankings.

Here’s an example: Mike McIntyre is the midpoint for the House, at the 211th most liberal (or conservative) representative. He has a Progressive Punch score of 84.31, which is 208th. He has a National Journal score of 49.5, for a rank of 217.5 (a tie at 217th). The average of those is 212.75. An averaged score of 212.75 makes him the 211th overall. His district, NC-07, has a PVI of R+3.5271, the 230th most Democratic district in the nation. Subtract 211 from 230 for an OWI score of +19. Not much difference; he’s very slightly overperforming his district.

Wait… why are there only 422? Well, there are four open seats (those formerly held by Lantos, Jindal, Baker, and Wicker). Also, there are nine representatives for whom there wasn’t enough information to calculate a National Journal score (Richardson, Broun, Foster, Carson, Tsongas, Latta, and Wittman are all too new, while Cubin has missed too many votes and Pelosi ordinarily doesn’t vote). For each of these missing representatives, I also didn’t rank the district lean, so that the lean of open districts wouldn’t cause any distortion. For the last table on lifetime PP scores, there was a pool of 431, for which I re-ranked the lean of their 431 districts, so there may be some slight difference in district rankings compared with the other charts.

I fully acknowledge that these rankings don’t incorporate where their money comes from, who their back-room friends are, what they say in front of the cameras, how they frame things, or anything other than how they vote, but that’s the only thing that can be fairly quantified.

UPDATE: There have been some calls to make the whole database available, so I’ve done just that. It’s at Google Documents.

IL-13: Scott Harper Organizes Labor Support

Scott Harper Speaks to Labor
a year ago, i am told, harper sat in a room full of illinois bloggers at yearlykos and started thinking about what he could do to help defeat bush republicans.  thursday, scott harper, democratic candidate for il-13, met with a room full of labor leaders to talk about his campaign to defeat judy biggert.  it was clear that not only scott, but dreams for throwing out a dupage gop congress, had come a long, long way.

labor leaders representing iam, the carpenters, unite-here, the building trades, ibew and others came to hear scott speak about his race and his take on various labor issues.  before the meeting began, scott worked the room vigorously, introducing himself to those he did not know, saying hello to those he did, and engaging everyone in conversation.  people talked about the war, biggert’s support of check card legislation, recent democratic and labor meetings, how scott’s fund-raising is going.

scott was given a lengthy introduction by his host from iam.  he talked about the importance of grassroots activity and fundraising to winning campaigns.  “that’s how we win,” he said simply in his remarks.  he talked about judy’s distance from union issues, that she has a 13% support rating on union issues and that “she won’t even talk to us, even local union members.”  unions are basically shut out in the biggert office.

Congressional Candidate Scott Harper Meets with Labor activists
scott’s remarks were rather short in comparison.  he covered the basics, where he comes from, what he’s done to put together a competitive campaign, how well he did in the february primary, how his fundraising is going, and his recent poll showing that judy is below the all-important 50% re-elect rate.  

harper’s campaign plan has some ambitious goals:

* reach 105,000 voters in the 13th

* activate more grassroots volunteers than ever in the 13th

Introducing Scott Harper
his poll by respected illinois pollster fako and associates found that democrats win the generic ballot test in the district.  they found some favorable news after reading scott’s biography/message to respondents, as well.  presumably, though, this was a benchmark poll, one designed to help assist in the plan to defeat one’s opponent.  obviously, the meat of such a poll would never be disclosed, even to one’s closest supporters.

what seemed to interest the labor leaders, though, was what their locals could do to support scott.  that’s why both the introduction and scott’s remarks focused on their grassroots plan to reach out to voters in il-13.  one of the questions asked of scott was whether biggert had any visibility in the district among the grassroots.  scott replied, no.

Meeting & Greeting
scott harper has already been endorsed by:

illinois afl-cio

international association of machinists (iam)

painters union

plumbers and pipefitters

uaw

operating engineers

senator dick durbin

congresswoman jan schakowsky

secretary of state jesse white

lt gov pat quinn

state treasurer alexi giannoulias

tomorrow, we were told, the harper campaign will be host to democratic candidate’s kickoff meeting for volunteers and democratic activists in dupage and will counties.  the will county event will meet at Rancho Santa Fe in Bolingbrook at 11 am and the dupage county meeting will be at the Downer’s Grove Public Library at 2:30 pm.

Dicussions
as always, it’s the end of the quarter (i know, because we’ve gotten calls from dan seals, al franken, the dscc and two presidential campaigns), so if you are inclined, i’m sure the harper campaign would love your contribution!

Heather Ryan Blasts Exxon Ed Whitfield in Letters to KY Papers

Here in the blogosphere we are constantly bemoaning the fact that we don’t have enough “Fighting Democrats” who fight the Republicans by standing up for us. Well, here in Kentucky we have a chance in the first district to replace a sitting Republican with just such a Democrat. Heather Ryan is itching for a fight and Exxon Ed Whitfield just may have his hands full this time with this fiery red-head!!

Heather has sent letters blasting Whitfield and his terrible record of representing the people of Kentucky’s First District. Here is a copy of her letter to the statewide publication, the Courier-Journal:

To the Editor:

I read with great interest Congressman Ed Whitfield’s long diatribe regarding “doping” in the horse racing industry (Courier-Journal Op-Ed; March 23, 2008) and could scarcely control myself in asking aloud, “Are you serious?”.  With all the problems Kentucky’s First Congressional District faces, Congressman Whitfield chooses to focus his attention on the problem of steroid use in the horse race industry rather than problems that face average, every day citizens of the district for which he represents.  Surely, as Mr. Whitfield points out, there are problems within the horse racing industry which should be addressed.   However, during a time when our economy is reeling from the immense debt incurred by an unsustainable war, when people in Western Kentucky see their decent paying jobs shipped over seas with each passing day and when tens of thousands of his constituents find themselves without health insurance, Mr. Whitfield can find something more applicable to his constituents about which to write a 14 paragraph rant than injustices within the horse racing industry.

Mr. Whitfield has been the Representative for Kentucky’s First Congressional District for thirteen  years.  During that time, he has introduced just one piece of legislation, which bans eating horse meat.  I contend that the people of KY-01 are more interested in making ends meet than the problems with horse meat.  Mr. Whitfield is so out of touch with the people for whom he was elected to represent that it is not only frightening, it is dangerously close to a dereliction of duty.  

On November 4th, remember that when Mr. Whitfield had the opportunity to write a long article regarding  important problems that affect the people of his district, and his solutions to said problems, he instead chose to write about horses shooting-up steroids.  

Heather Ryan

Democratic Candidate

U.S. House of Representatives, KY-01

Wow!! Now that is some fighting spirit, and just what the voters of the first district need to hear!! The best part about it is that it is all completely true. Ed Whitfield is so out of touch with the families in this district, it is embarrassing!!

Heather didn’t stop there. She also wrote a letter to the ultra-conservative Paducah Sun about Exxon Eddie:

To the Editor:

As the beautiful four color 8.5×11 bi-fold political propaganda piece dropped out of my copy of the Paducah Sun yesterday, and I began to read Representative Ed Whitfield’s claim of responsibility for the so-called “Economic Stimulus Package” I had to scratch my head in wonderment.  Surely Mr. Whitfield cannot think that sending a $600 bribe to the taxpayers of America will cure the economy’s ills?  This package is like placing a band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound.  It’s as though Mr. Whitfield and the Republican Party are saying, “Sorry we messed up your economy.  Here, go buy yourself somethin’ Purdy”.  

But then again, the point of Mr. Whitfield’s expensive, colorful printed piece wasn’t meant to be about the logic of how irresponsible he and his party have been with the economy for the past eight years.  Instead, it was intended to convince you that a bribe will prove he’s working for your best interests.  I’ll wager my $600 check that this election year the voters of KY-01 will see through this shoddy fa├žade.

Heather Ryan

Democratic Candidate

U.S. House of Representatives

KY-01

I think a big part of my $600 is going to Heather Ryan!! Once again she hits the nail on the head by pointing out that Republicans such as Whitfield, McConnell and Bush have wrecked our economy with their narrow-minded policies and now desperately hope to buy us off.

Democrats, no matter what district in which state you live in, we need fighting Democrats like Heather Ryan in our Congress. We have a Republican Congressman with a horrible record in a district with over 60% registered Democrats. If we get the message of our Democratic vision and Ed Whitfield’s horrible record to them we win this race hands down.

We need your help. Please go here and show that Americans everywhere will support a Fighting Democrat!!:

http://www.actblue.com/page/am…

And don’t forget to sign up for email updates and keep up with the campaign here:

http://www.ryanforkentucky.com/

We can win this race with support from fellow Democrats!!

MD-04: Wynn Will Resign, Endorses Edwards

Incumbent Rep. Al Wynn, defeated by netroots heroine Donna Edwards in the February Democratic primary, will resign his seat in June:

Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.), who lost the Democratic primary to challenger Donna Edwards, is leaving the House in June to join a law firm, according to Democratic aides. Wynn will be making an official announcement today.

In a gesture of solidarity with Edwards, Wynn magnanimously endorsed his former opponent for a full term, and hoped that his early departure would allow Edwards to build up her seniority in the House:

Wynn claimed that his departure will allow Edwards, who was heavily favored in the November general election, to win a special election to fill his seat and thus go before voters on Election Day as an incumbent. […]

“My leaving early will also allow our Democratic nominee Donna Edwards the opportunity to successfully navigate a special election and be sworn in this summer. This will not only give her seniority in the incoming congressional class of ’09, but more importantly, will allow her to get off to a fast start in serving the citizens of our community. I offer her my best wishes and stand ready to assist in any way possible.”

It’s unclear if or when Gov. Martin O’Malley will call a special election, but we’ll keep you posted.

Union Members Highlight Sen. Coleman’s Anti-Worker Votes

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) kicked off his campaign for re-election yesterday-and he was met by union members who are trying to tell the truth about Coleman’s poor record when it comes to issues that matter to working families.

Coleman flew to three events around the state and at each one, union members were out in force to confront Coleman about his anti-worker record. In St. Paul, Rochester and Duluth, labor leaders and activists talked about Coleman’s tight ties with big-money special interests and his deeply flawed votes.

Laura Askelin, president of the Southeast Minnesota Area Labor Council, points to Coleman’s voting record and his allegiance to the Bush agenda, and says that Coleman won’t make the changes needed.

I’m here today to make sure that everyone knows that Norm Coleman is not on our side…Norm Coleman consistently puts special corporate interests and the Republican Party ahead of the best interests of middle class Minnesotans…we are determined to put a stop to the Bush-Coleman agenda.

Coleman was a Democrat during the 1990s, but he switched parties in 2000 and worked hard to elect Bush. In 2002, he replaced the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, a champion of working families, in the Senate. Coleman has been a die-hard supporter of the Bush agenda and a reliable vote for Bush’s priorities in the Senate. In July 2004, Coleman’s home paper, the Star Tribune, said that Coleman had “morphed into an attack dog for President Bush.”

Coleman’s record in the Senate shows a clear pattern of votes benefiting the special interests who contribute to his campaigns.

For example, instead of fighting for better health coverage for all, he’s sponsored bills to create “association health plans” that would raise premiums and reduce benefits and “health savings accounts” that shift costs from employers to employees. And, no surprise: Coleman has taken in hundreds of thousands from insurance companies and drug companies.

Coleman has voted against laws that help homeowners in times of crisis, even as foreclosures in his state have shot up 69 percent in the last year. Meanwhile, he’s taken thousands in contributions from the mortgage banking industry.

And Coleman is one of the minority of Senators who prevented a vote on the Employee Free Choice Act. He’s voted against workers’ overtime rights, against strengthening Social Security and against extending unemployment benefits.

Yet when it comes time to run for re-election, Coleman claims he’s an independent thinker, a moderate who isn’t bound by partisanship. Independent in rhetoric, a reactionary Bush ally when it’s time to vote: if it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same game practiced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Coleman endorsed McCain for president last month.

Union members are staying focused on the key issues that matter to working families, but the media, unfortunately, isn’t providing the answers and the scrutiny they ought to. Today in Washington, D.C., activists from MoveOn and Brave New Films will present 200,000 petitions to ABC News headquarters, as well as other key media outlets, demanding better coverage.  A fair election that focuses on the right issues will require the commitment of mobilized, engaged citizens.

In Minnesota, union members are starting that mobilization. They won’t let McCain and Coleman fool the voters. They’ll be working throughout the year, through phone calls, workplace visits, door-to-door education and events like today’s, to make sure that the next administration and the next Congress will protect working families.

Regional analysis

I split the country into six regions for political analysis purposes.  Three of the regions trend Democratic (Northeast, Pacific, Great Lakes) while three favor the GOP (Plains, Mountains, South).  For purposes of this discusssion, I track House seats (number D, number R, % D), Senate seats (number D, number R, % D), Governorships, and Presidential voting in 2004 as well as the number of Bush Dogs (per the list on Open Left) and the percentage of the region’s House Democrats who are Bush Dogs.

Not surprisingly, the more solidly Democratic a region is, the less likely it is to elect a Bush Dog Democrat.  Only two of the Northeast’s 68 House Democrats are Bush Dogs (2.9%) while 19 of 58 Southern Democrats are Bush Dogs (32.7%).

The Northeast is the most solidly Democratic region in the country and seems to be swinging even more blue.  The region has the most House Democrats (68), the greatest number of Democratic pickups in 2006 (12 House seats/ 11 GOP House seats lost), and every one of the 11 states plus the District of Columbia went for Kerry in 2004.  It even claims the greatest number of governorships (9) and the highest percentage of Democratic governors (81.8%).

Surprisingly, the Northeast still offers Democrats a lot of opportunities in 2008. The region ‘s 24 House Republicans continue to scatter.  Five have announced they will not run for re-election and a sixth, Wayne Gilchrest, has been defeated in a primary by a right wing Club For Growth candidate in Maryland.  

One can make a case against Vito Fossella (NY-13) who faces a voter registration deficit and has less cash than a possible general election opponent.  Scott Garrett (NJ-5) is an extremist who has been slowly sinking since first elected. Jim Gerlach not only comes from a tough district but from one of only five GOP-held districts in which George W. Bush got a lower percentage of the vote against John Kerry than against Al Gore.

Democrat Eric Massa has more money than Randy Kuhl in NY-29 and gave Kuhl a tight race as a virtual unknown in 2006.  Jim Himes has also outraised  Chris Shays who is looking at his third nail biter in a row with a lot less national bucks to go around.  Frank LoBiondo’s Jersey district (NJ-2) has a Democratic lean and several promising local candidates are available and might be enticed into the race.  Sam Bennet in PA-15 has a similarly friendly district and a relatively weak opponent.  Peter King is also defending a tough district as the last Republican from Long Island.  He, too, has no opponent as of yet but the rumors are less encouraging for local Democrats.

Add it all up, and the Republicans are looking at perhaps ten safe seats in this election in an 11 state region.  And any Democrat elected is likely to be a moderate to full out progressive.  The only two Bush Dog Democratys from the region represent rural districts tin Pennsylvania that are not culturally part of the region.

The Pacific states are almost as friendly on the Presidential level as the northeast with only Alaska’s three electoral votes going for George W. Bush.  That disguises a deep divide between the Democratic coastal regions and the Republican interiors. The region has the second highest percentage of Democratic House members (46 D, 24R, 65.7%) and the second lowest percentage of Bush Dog Democrats (2 of 46, 4.3%).

The contrast between the Northeast in 2006 and the Pacific was startling.  Democrats in the region had high hopes but managed to pick up just one seat (Jerry McNerney defeated Richard Pombo).  Democrats came close but came away empty in WA-8, CA-50, and CA-4.  This cycle’s top targets include WA-8, CA-4, and AK-At Large. Two of the region’s three Republican Senators, Oregon’s Gordon Smith and Alaska’s aging and heavily investigated Ted Stevens are also being challenged this go around.

Three or four California House seats ooze corruption and should have at least the potential to be competitive but, as of this time, I am not too optimistic about seats like CA-50 (Bilbray), CA-26 (Dreier), CA-46 (Rohrabacher), CA-45 (Mary Bono Mack), or CA-49 (Issa).

The Great Lakes is the least Democratic Democratic region.  In fact, heavy gerrymanders by the GOP in Ohio and Michigan gave the GOP the slight edge in the region’s House selegations until Bill Foster’s election to Denny Hastert’s old seat in the special election.

One of the really encouraging things in this region is that a great number of GOP seats stayed on the table after 2006.  Republicans may have held on but they retired in droves leaving huge openings in Illinois and Ohio.  Hastert’s seat has already flipped and the 38-38 Democratic edge will likely expand.  Democrats have a great shot in OH-15 and certainly a good chance in OH-1, OH-2 and OH-16.  At least two GOP Michigan seats (MI-7, MI-9) are being vigorously contested this cycle and seats like IL-18, IL-11, and IL-6 are up for grabs. Jim Ramstad’s old seat in Minnesota is possible and some people seem to think that Michelle Bachman’s seat (MN-6, I think) is also in play.

Last cycle, Democrats elected three new Bush Dog members from Indiana and two from Ohio.  That gave the region’s Democrats a purplisch cast (9 of 39 Democrats are Bush Dogs,23.1%).  Most of the contested seats this time around represent more urban or at least suburban areas and the results will probably be more reliable votes as well as more Democratic members.  Nine of the region’s 12 Senators are Democrats and Minnesots Republicn Norm Coleman is facing a tough challenge this cycle.

That leaves us with the three Republican leaning regions.  Hopes are highest for the Mountains.  Last cycle Democrats picked up two seats in Arizona and one in Colorado.  This year, hopes center more on New Mexico (two seats) and Rick Renzi’s seat in Arizona.  A three seat piclup would change the delegation from 11-17 in favor of the Republicans to a flat footed tie.  Both Nevada seats and the At Large seats in Wyoming and Montana plus ID-2 have also been mentioned.

Bill Clinton carried three of these states (Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico in 1996 and five in 1992 when Ross Perot muddied up the waters (AZ, NM, NV, MT, CO).

Democrats have good chances for a Senate seat in New Mexico and one in Colorado.  That would even up the region’s Senate vote to 7-7.

The Plains is a rgion greatly helped by the oddities of US politics.  Iowa’s caucuses make the region important to a whole corps of Presidential wannabes in the US Senate.  Two Senate seats a piece certainly help the Dakotas.

With the notable exceptions of Iowa and Missouri most of the rest of the area produces either conservative Democrats or very conservative Republicans.

The South remains the Republicans key region although their electoral strength has probably peaked out.  Racially-based gerrymanders have created a series of sprawling majority minority districts that have been used to dilute Democratic strength in Congress.  No clearer example exists than the combo of VA-2 and VA-3.  Two more geographically compact districts would produce two pretty strong Democratic districts.  Instead, VA-2 skips many of the black areas in the VA. Beach-Norfolk Hampton roads area and Bobby Scott’s third district edges aroundto include most of Richmond a lot of rural areas and strategically picked, heavily Democratic areas of Hampton Roads.

Last cycle, Republicans lost two seats in Florida, one in North Carolina, one in Kentucky, and two in Texas.  Their current 82-58 edge in the South may well shrink again as Democrats guard several seats in Texas and two in Georgia but eye open seats in Louisiana and rematches in FL-13 and NC-8 as well as actual opportunities in places like Virginia and Kentucky.

Southern Democrats provide the margin that put Democrats back in the Speaker’s chair and the Senate Majority Leader role.  This remains a heavily Republican area for Presidential elections (Republicans won all 13 states for 166 electoral votes).  If Democrats can win three or four of these states they most certainly will win the Presidential election (Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, West Virginia are leading candidates) in part because any candidate who does that is likely to win Ohio as well.

As for the depressing numbers:

House (D 58,R 82, 41.4%)

Senate (D 7, R 19, 26.9%)

Governors (D 6, R 7, 46.2%)

Pr4sidential (13-0 on states, 166-0 on electoral votes)