SSP Daily Digest: 11/17

NV-Sen: By far the most interesting news of what’s been a very slow news day is that John Ensign appears to be running again, at least according to one of his spokespersons. While he’s been acting like he’d run again (and he was probably encouraged by that recent PPP poll showing him leading Dean Heller in a GOP primary), it’s still a little surprising, given the disrepair his fundraising operation has fallen into, and the pile of ethics and potentially criminal investigations he’ll have to navigate next year. (H/t sebby123.)

FL-Sen: Can’t a man publish an op-ed in a major in-state newspaper without people thinking he’s running for a higher office? Well, apparently not, based on reaction to a column written by Rep. Connie Mack IV in the Orlando Sentinel that took Bill Nelson to task over extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Beltway code-talkers are interpreting this as the first salvo of a likely Senate race.

WV-Sen, WV-Gov, WV-02: GOP Rep. Shelly Moore Capito is sounding studiously noncommital about her plans for 2012. A challenge to newly-elected (in a special election) Sen. Joe Manchin? “I’m not ruling it out…” but also “I have given no thought to it…” (other than, by definition, the amount of thought needed in order to decide not to rule it out). She also didn’t rule out running for Governor in 2012, although she did pretty explicitly rule out running for Governor if the legislature decides they should have a fast odd-numbered-year special election to replace Manchin in 2011. A Manchin/Capito match would be between two super-popular politicians: a Blankenship (the pollster, not the coal company) survey just found Manchin with 80% approvals and Capito at 77%.

AL-02: Bobby Bright popped up today to criticize the Dems’ decision to retain Nancy Pelosi as leader, but he also offered some vague “never say never” sentiments about a return engagement for his seat, saying he wouldn’t rule it out in 2012.

IN-06: With Mike Pence looking likelier that he’s up and out of the House after this term — although whether he’s running for Governor or President is unclear — Roll Call names some potential replacements. One is a blast from the past: ex-Rep. David McIntosh, who represented an earlier iteration of this district (then IN-02) from 1994 to 2000, when he lost the Governor’s race. Other names include Wayne Co. Sheriff Matt Strittmatter, former state Rep. Luke Messer (whom you might remember from narrowly losing the IN-05 primary to Dan Burton this year), and rich guy Don Bates (who finished 4th in the IN-Sen primary this year, and has also been rumored for a Richard Lugar primary challenge).

LA-SoS: Here’s an interesting career pivot: soon-to-be-ex. Rep. Joe Cao is considering a run for Louisiana Secretary of State. He’d face a primary against Tom Schedler, a Republican who will be acting SoS for the next year (current SoS Jay Dardenne is about to be sworn in as Lt. Governor) and will be running for a permanent slot next year. (H/t GOPVOTER.)

WV-Sen: Special Election on Tap… With a Safety Net for Capito?

Gov. Joe Manchin has apparently struck a deal with state legislators that will set a special election for Robert Byrd’s Senate seat this fall:

Under the draft agreement lawmakers were shown at about 5 p.m., voters would go to the polls for an Aug. 28 for a primary to choose party nominees and then again Nov. 2 for a general election. Candidates who have already filed for an office would be allowed to run in the special Senate election. The provision would allow someone like Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the Republican’s most prominent candidate, to run for reelection in the House but also take a shot at serving out Robert Byrd’s unexpired term, which ends in Jan. 2013. The deal ended an impasse between the House and Senate that began Saturday.

Letting Capito have a free crack at this race is utterly baffling, and I hope it doesn’t prove to be a too-cute-by-half move that ultimately backfires. Sure, Joe “The Manchine” Manchin will be formidable in any West Virginia election, but one Martha Coakley wasn’t supposed to lose, either…

WV-Sen: Manchin Run is “Highly Likely”

There’s been a lot of movement in the last 24 hours in West Virginia. To start with, yesterday afternoon, Democratic AG Darrell McGraw announced that Gov. Joe Manchin has the authority to call for a special election to be held this year.

“Since a general election is already scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, it is suggested that a special primary election be held at a time which maximizes the opportunity for all potential candidates to prepare for both the special election and the general election, and for all voters, including those in the Armed Services, to participate and have their voices heard,” McGraw wrote, according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

There’s been some confusion as to what exact format the election would take, and for now, it sounds like no one is quite sure. McGraw’s statement makes it sound like there should be a primary election held when convenient prior to Nov. 2, but that’s not made entirely clear. The Fix’s Aaron Blake says that the Manchin camp would like to have only one election, though, and have a special open primary that coincides with the general election where all candidates run in one pool (shades of HI-01). The superficial rationale, of course, would be saving money on not running two elections. But it could also help Manchin out a lot, if he’s the only Dem candidate and the Republican vote is split.

And Manchin is sounding like his candidacy is near-definite; he told Ben Smith today that he’ll announce his intentions formally on Monday but said that his candidacy is “highly likely” (which is also how he phrased it on MSNBC this morning). He also said that the only questions left at this point are “procedural,” like ensuring a smooth transition for the person who takes over as Governor. Manchin’s counsel says that there’s no clear sense from the law of when or how to hold the election, but that will be resolved in the legislative special session that Manchin will soon call.

Manchin, talking about gubernatorial succession, seems to be acting like his election to the Senate is already a done deal; is he being overconfident? Yesterday Nate Silver foresaw a close race, although that was based on West Virginia’s demographics and reddening trend without any poll data.

Since then, Rasmussen leaped into the breach, offering a snap poll as they often do. Rasmussen’s numbers — and I rarely get the chance to say this — should give Democrats a good deal of confidence. Manchin defeats his strongest possible GOP rival, Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, by a 53-39 margin, while he beats former SoS Betty Ireland 65-26. Most impressively, he has a 77/23 approval rating, which has to make him the most popular Governor in the nation.

Even before Manchin started signaling his clear intent to run today, and before Rasmussen dropped its abandon-all-hope-ye-GOPers poll, there were questions yesterday about who the Republican candidate would be, and whether there was a Plan B if Capito didn’t run. (There’s also legal uncertainty as to whether Capito could run in both the special and in her already-scheduled election to hold WV-02 at the same time, which would weigh heavily on her decision whether or not to run. And Capito’s calculations would have to factor in whether she might have a better shot at Manchin again in the regularly-scheduled 2012 election, when she’d have a longer time to ramp up a campaign and when Obama’s top-of-ticket presence might be an anchor on Manchin… and also the possibility of whether Jay Rockefeller might retire in 2014, giving her a good shot at an open seat.)

In the absence of Capito or Ireland, other names that have gotten floated include businessman John Raese, who spent a large amount of his own money en route to losing badly to Robert Byrd in 2006, former state Sen. Steve Harrison, state Sen. Mike Hall, and Bob Adams, the director of something called the League of American Voters and a losing candidate for state Treasurer in 2004.

UPDATE: Someone has slipped Reid Wilson the short list for seatwarmers that Joe Manchin is considering for appointment to the Senate for the next half a year. Some of the names are familiar, but there are a few surprises. The list is: Anne Barth (former Byrd state director, and ’08 loser in WV-02 to Capito), Gaston Caperton (the former Gov. and current College Board Pres. who previously said he wasn’t interested), Nick Casey (former state party chair, now up for a federal judgeship), Carte Goodwin (Manchin’s former general counsel), Larry Puccio (current state party chair and former Manchin CoS), and Bob Wise (9-term ex-Rep. and one-term ex-Gov., who didn’t seek re-election after a sex scandal). Bear in mind that whoever the replacement is, that person will be the vote to get unemployment benefits extended, so there’s no doubt a sense of urgency behind picking someone.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/2

NC-Sen: Republican pollster Civitas poked at the Senate race, not doing head-to-heads but looking at favorables for Richard Burr and two of his likeliest challengers, SoS Elaine Marshall and Rep. Mike McIntyre. Marshall and McIntyre are little-known, with 12/7 favorables for Marshall and 13/10 and McIntyre (although he was at 38/12 in his district). The bad news for Burr? He’s barely doing better than them, with 31/19 favorables (meaning 50% don’t know him or have no opinion).

NY-Sen-B: Marist dribbles out the Senate half of its newest New York poll today (Gov was yesterday), and it finds a super-tight race in the Dem primary in wake of yesterday’s sorta-kinda entry by Carolyn Maloney: Maloney leads Kirsten Gillibrand, 38-37 (compared with a 36-31 Gillibrand lead in May). Gillibrand wins against both George Pataki (46-42, up from a 46-38 deficit last time) and Peter King (48-32). Marist doesn’t do general election head-to-heads with Maloney, although for some reason they poll a GOP primary between Pataki and King (51-36 for Pataki) despite the decreasing likelihood that either of them run.

Also of interest: Bill Clinton will be appearing at a Maloney fundraiser scheduled for July 20. Clinton isn’t wading into the race with an endorsement at this point, though; this was in the works long before Maloney announced her run, as payback for Maloney’s 2008 primary support for Hillary Clinton, and he also headlined a Gillibrand fundraiser in March.

PA-Sen: Pat Toomey got another endorsement from one of the more conservative members of Pennsylvania’s House GOP delegation: PA-09’s Bill Shuster.

AL-Gov: The Democratic field in the governor’s race in Alabama seems to be solidifying; the last question mark, Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, announced that she won’t be running. With a lot of establishment figures waiting on the fence to see if an alternative to Rep. Artur Davis and Ag Comm. Ron Sparks shows up, expect them to start choosing sides soon. Davis, meanwhile, has been staffing up with some key political players, adding Joey Ceci and David Mowery to his team (who managed the successful campaigns of freshman Reps. Parker Griffith and Bobby Bright).

CA-Gov: Sure, California’s an expensive state, but Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman have reported gigantic hauls even by the Golden State’s outsized standards. Brown raised $7.3 million in the year’s first half, while Whitman raised $6.5 million. Steve Poizner and Gavin Newsom raised huge sums and are still far behind — Poizner raised $1.3 million and loaned himself another $4 million, while Newsom raised $1.6 million, much of it online.

MN-Gov: The tradmed seems to be intent today on talking up Norm Coleman’s next logical step as being running for Governor of Minnesota, although Minnesota reporters and politicians in the know are trying to point out the sheer ridiculousness of that idea. (If Norm’s going to be doing any running soon, it’s running away from the FBI, as they investigate his links to Nasser Kazeminy.)

RI-Gov: The Democratic primary for the open Rhode Island Governor’s seat was looking to be a three-way slugfest, but Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts yesterday announced that she would run for re-election instead of for Gov. Although she had started staffing up for the race, she couldn’t have been encouraged by poll numbers which showed her at a disadvantage with likely opponents Treasurer Frank Caprio and AG Patrick Lynch.

SC-Gov: Gov. Mark Sanford seems to have taken a few steps backwards this week. A snap poll from yesterday by SUSA now finds 69% of South Carolinians saying resign, as opposed to 28% saying stay. 63% say they have “no trust” in Sanford. Here’s an interesting red flag: only 20% say Lt. Gov/party boy Andre Bauer is “completely prepared” to become Governor, with 38% saying “somewhat prepared” and 34% saying “not prepared.”

WI-Gov: Real estate developer and ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, who held WI-01 from 1994 to 1998 before losing narrowly to Russ Feingold, announced his gubernatorial candidacy yesterday. Neumann’s entry had been widely anticipated; he’ll face off against Milwaukee Co. Executive Scott Walker in the GOP primary.

CA-45: With Rep. Mary Bono Mack having defected on the cap-and-trade vote, the rightosphere has been calling for her head. Their favored replacement, term-limited state Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, quickly said “no” to a primary challenge, so their wish-list has turned to ex-state Sens. Jim Battin and Ray Haynes and ex-state Rep. Bonnie Garcia.

IL-14: A second GOP challenger got into the race against Rep. Bill Foster, although this guy doesn’t sound like he’ll pose much of a threat to Ethan Hastert for the nom. Jeff Danklefsen hasn’t run for office before and is “maintenance manager for a property management company.”

LA-03: The Hill reported last week that Democratic efforts to find a replacement to Rep. Charlie Melancon have focused on state Rep. Gary Smith, who was going to run for the open seat in 2004 but deferred to Melancon. State Rep. Fred Mills was also interested, but state Rep. Damon Baldone, who might be the highest-profile candidate, is about to run in a special election for a state Senate seat and is unlikely to follow that with a U.S. House run.

PA-06: With the 2nd quarter just wrapped up, look for lots of financial reports to start getting leaked. Here’s a nice place to start: Doug Pike, in the 6th, is looking at a haul of over $500K for the quarter, thanks a recent D.C. fundraiser starring Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Murphy.

WI-08: We’re building up a backlog of Republicans trying to take on Rep. Steve Kagen. Businessman Reid Ribble jumped into the field, joining Door Co. Supervisor Marc Savard and Brown Co. Supervisor Andy Williams.

WV-02: With some prodding from the DCCC, Gov. Joe Manchin’s former general counsel, Carte Goodwin, is looking into challenging Rep. Shelly Capito Moore in the Charleston-based 2nd.  

Barth vs. Capito debate: Anne made us proud

Anne Barth made her supporters proud at the debate tonight with Bush Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

For those of us who’ve seen Capito in debates before, it was the usual say one thing here, do something else in Washington D.C.

WEPM broadcast the debate and there will probably be a link later.

WEPM has a story up about the debate with a line in need of clarification:

More than 250 people were in attendance when the candidates for West Virginia’s Second Congressional District faced off last night at Musselman High School in the final of the WEPM and Journal candidate forums for 2008.  Incumbent Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito (R) and challenger Anne Barth (D) sat down to answer questions from the panel and from the audience.  The debate was moderated by Blue Ridge Community and Technical College President Peter Checkovich.  Crowds lined the streets with signs supporting their candidates prior to the debate and supporters cheered and yelled during the debate itself, a sign of the excitement that has been created as this heated campaign nears a finish.

There were more than 30 people outside of Musselman High School lining the road for Anne Barth.

Six supporters of Capito waved signs about a half mile away at Centra Bank.

It was very telling that Barth’s supporters were at the debate and Capito’s were at a bank where executives have helped fund her campaign.

The ohter tellng thing was before the debate. Before the debate, Anne Barth walked through the auditorium, greeting people, whether wearing her buttons or Capito’s stickers and thanking them for attending while Shelley Moore Capito was huddled with her staff behind the stage hiding from her constituents.

For those of us disappointed by the lack of representation from Capito and why we want to replace her with Anne Barth, the symbolism between the two could not be more apparent.

Capito even mentioned how she meets with people of the district in town halls and then corrected herself and referred to her notorious town hall teleconferences where only pre-selected people are invited to join and where questions are screened as opposed to meeting with all of her constituents.

Capito also claimed she was in the Eastern Panhandle so often that we were probably sick of seeing her. She’s only half right there and it wasn’t the seeing her part. Unless you belong to the country club in Charleston, you probably don’t see Capito.

Capito claimed an ad by the DCCC (not Anne Barth as the WEPM questioner mistakenly said) was a negative attack for pointing out she took campaign contributions from Big Oil. “The insinuation is my vote is for sale,” Capito said. Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff, and Ted Stevens could argue that Capito should remove the first three words from the preceeding sentence.

Barth, meanwhile, pointed out that the ad is truthful as to Capito’s contributors from Big Oil and that she’s criticized Capito’s votes and not Capito herself, unlike Capito who falsely claims Anne Barth hasn’t paid her taxes. While Anne Barth has focused on the issues and Capito’s voting record, Capito resorts to personal attacks.

“This is the kind of personal attacks people are tired of,” Anne Barth said.

On the Iraq war, Capito also told the same lie she told in 2006.

“I’d like to get out of Iraq, like everyone else, as soon as possible,” Capito claimed, leaving out that every time it has come to a vote, she voted against resolutions to withdraw from Iraq. “I think we need to withdraw. I think we are withdrawing.”

Capito’s in Congress, has voted against withdrawal, and yet she’s uncertain if troops are withdrawing or not from Iraq? She also said timelines “hand our enemy a roadmap to victory” yet now the administration has agreed to a withdrawal timelines she’s for withdrawal? Under her twisted logic, does that now mean that Capito now believess in handing “our enemy a roadmap to victory”? Consistency isn’t something Capito practices because as we’ve seen too often, she says one thing in the district and does another thing in Washington.

Anne Barth had a terrific answer on Iraq, saying that we never should have gone into Iraq that had nothing to do with Sept. 11th and instead should have finished the job in Afghanistan in getting Osama bin Laden.

On taxes, Capito defended her support for tax cuts for the wealthy, saying that the middleclass benefited when the largest cuts went to the rich since they create the jobs. She even conflated the average tax cut, ignoring much of the tax cuts went to the wealthiest 2 percent while the rest of us didn’t see anywhere close to the $2,200 tax cut she claimed. The middleclass didn’t come anywhere close to that. Meanwhile, Anne Barth said it was time for the middleclass to get the larger portion of a tax cut.

After the debate, Capito’s staffers surrounded her to screen her from constituents from coming up to talk to her. Meanwhile Anne Barth worked through the crowd, even taking a question from a man covered in Capito stickers, who asked her about abortion. Anne Barth said she was pro-choice just like Capito. The man was taken aback. “I didn’t know Capito was pro-choice,” he said.

Telling. Voters who don’t know Capito’s record support her. Informed voters love Anne Barth.

WV-02 Fired up for Anne Barth and the Democratic team

Martinsburg event 025

Former Gov. Gaston Caperton explains why Anne Barth would be a tremendous representative for the people of West Virginia.

I attended the Campaign for Change event in Martinsburg, West Virginia today. It was rainy, autumnal day. We had a boisterous, fired up and ready to go crowd in attendance. Most of those who arrived early did visibility for our candidates outside the headquarters. We let our voices be loud enough so even those across the street at the Shelley Moore Capito headquarters could hear us even though she’s tried to not listen to her constituents for years.

Today’s event featured former Gov. Gaston Caperton, former Gov. Bob Wise, who also had served as the Congressional representative for the district, and West Virginia native son and U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper of Delaware, currently the junior senator of his state and soon to be the senior senator once Sen. Joe Biden is elected our vice president.

More on the event and additional photos below.

Ywatta “Nessy” Mitchell is making her second bid for magistrate judge. She was out doing visibility in front of the headquarters. The Campaign for Change is not just about the presidential race, but also the down ticket races. I really hope she wins. I don’t like putting stickers on my vehicle, but I’ve got three this year: Anne Barth, Barack Obama and Ywatta “Nessy” Mitchell’s. There’s other candidates I really want to see win, but too many bumper stickers and they become less effective in my opinion.

Martinsburgcampaign 001

Many of our Democrats arrived early so they joined Mitchell in a sign wave (early voting was on King Street just around the corner from our Queen Street office).

Martinsburgcampaign 005

And then more…

People held up other candidate signs and began chants: “Anne Barth Anne Barth Anne Barth” and “Barack – Obama – Barack – Obama” and also the names of our other candidates as they arrived and joined us. This is earlier but eventually the area out of the rain was jammed with people with signs.

Martinsburgcampaign 010

Across the street, not so much enthusiasm for their candidates.

Martinsburgcampaign 011

“I’ve never seen anyone better prepared running for this seat than Anne Barth and that includes me when I ran the first time,” said former governor and U.S. representative Bob Wise. He vacated the seat in 2000 to run for governor. Barth was Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s state director before she left to run for this seat.

“Think of that team – Robert C. Byrd in the Senate, his most trusted confidant in the HOuse,” Wise said.

Martinsburg event 007

Former Gov. Bob Wise

Wise introduced Sen. Thomas Carper, the junior senator from Delaware and soon to be senior senator when Sen. Joe Biden is elected vice president.

Carper is a West Virginia native son, born in Beckley. “We grow them here and send them to other parts of the country,” Wise said.

Carper said he was happy to be in his native state to campaign for Anne Barth and Barack Obama and Joe Biden. When he was elected to the Senate, his mentor was Senator Byrd. He once offered to do anything to help Senator Byrd and Byrd said he needed him to go represent him at an event at Stonewall Jackson State Park that he was unable to attend. There he was to look up Byrd’s state director, Anne Barth.

He was impressed by her intelligence and her deep knowledge of the people of West Virginia.

“Anne Barth gives politics a good name,” Carper said.

Martinsburg event 008

Anne Barth, Sen. Thomas Carper, former Gov. Bob Wise, former Gov. Gaston Caperton.

Anne Barth spoke next, describing how many people are being hurt by the current economy except for the people who “don’t know how many houses they own, then they probably think the economy is doing well.”

That got a good laugh. She pointed out how Capito voted for Bush four out of five times over the past eight years.

“It’s not about us, it’s really about the future of our country,” Anne Barth said.

Former Gov. Gaston Caperton went next, who defeated former Gov. Arch Moore (Moore is Capito’s father).

“Now Anne I ran against a Moore,” Caperton said. “They said I couldn’t beat him. I did pretty good.”

The same group had been in Morgan County earlier and left Martinsburg to go to Jefferson County. It was a good event.

You can see the entire set of photos here, including Bobby the Obama dog.

Crossposted from West Virginia Blue.

VA-02, WV-02: Drake, Capito Post Sizable Leads

Two more polls from the Great Orange Satan tonight. Let’s pop open the hood and have a look.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (10/7-8, likely voters):

Glenn Nye (D): 37

Thelma Drake (R-inc): 51

Undecided: 12

(MoE: ±5%)

This is an R+6, military-heavy district that is often seen as a something of a bellwether for statewide contests (and according to this poll, McCain is leading Obama by 51-42), though keep in mind that even Jim Webb lost this district by a few points in 2006. This district is about 20% black, and that population is more dispersed and difficult to turn out than in other parts of the state — and, according to the Cook Political Report, African-American turnout has been in the 10-15% range of the electorate in recent election. The black turnout is pretty key to Nye’s chances, and it’s hard to gauge this poll without knowing its racial breakdown. A recent Nye internal pegged this race at five points.

And over in West Virginia… Research 2000 (10/7-8, likely voters):

Anne Barth (D): 39

Shelley Moore Capito (R-inc): 53

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±5%)

Barth has a lot of work to do, clearly, but at least the spread is a lot closer than the “2-1 Capito lead” that Stuart Rothenberg was writing about last month (presumably he was talking about Capito’s own polling).

Most interesting, though, are the Presidential numbers: McCain leads Obama by 48-41 in the 2nd District. That’s not quite the 57-42 win that Bush posted here in 2004.

SSP currently rates VA-02 as Lean Republican and WV-02 as Likely Republican.

IA-04: Why hasn’t EMILY’s List gotten behind Becky Greenwald? (updated with news of endorsement)

UPDATE: On September 16 EMILY’s List announced their endorsement of two more Congressional challengers: Becky Greenwald in IA-04 (D+0) and Sharen Neuhardt in OH-07 (R+6).

Maybe someone out there who knows the inner workings of EMILY’s List can explain to me why this group has not put money behind Becky Greenwald, the Democrat challenging loyal Republican foot-soldier Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.

I have been going over the list of Democratic women running for Congress whom EMILY’s List is supporting, with a particular focus on the six challengers most recently added to this group in early August. I do not mean to denigrate any of those candidates, and I recognize that every race has its own dynamic.

However, after comparing Greenwald’s race to those of other candidates, I remain puzzled that EMILY’s list is not more involved in IA-04.

Follow me after the jump for more.

First things first: IA-04 has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+0. Since 2004, every Congressional district in Iowa has seen big gains in Democratic voter registration, which surged in connection with this year’s presidential caucuses. For the first time since Iowa’s districts were last redrawn, IA-04 now has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Democrats have an advantage in the generic Congressional ballot nationwide, but what may be more relevant for this district is Barack Obama’s big lead over John McCain in Iowa (double-digits according to the two most recent polls). The Obama campaign’s enormous ground game in Iowa will be working in Greenwald’s favor too. Her staffers and volunteers seem pleased with the level of coordination between the campaigns’ turnout efforts.

Turning to Greenwald as a candidate, you can see from her bio that she has strong roots in the district as well as experience in the business world and a history of volunteering for causes including the Iowa Democratic Party. She dominated the four-way Demomcratic primary on June 3, winning over 50 percent of the vote. As of June 30, she had raised about $143,000 for her campaign but had only about $82,000 cash on hand because of her competitive primary.

Several Iowa political analysts observed this summer that Greenwald can beat Tom Latham if she can raise enough money to compete. Latham serves on the House Appropriations Committee and was sitting on more than $800,000 cash on hand as of June 30. Then again, plenty of well-funded incumbents have lost seats in Congress when facing a big wave toward the other party. Cook has this race as likely R, but I would consider it lean R. There have been no public polls on the race yet.

The current reporting period ends September 30. I don’t have inside information about Greenwald’s cash on hand now, but I know she has been aggressively fundraising all summer long. I assume things have gone fairly well on that front, because the DCCC just put IA-04 on its “Emerging Races” list. One thing working in Greenwald’s favor is that the Des Moines and Mason City markets, which cover most of the 28 counties in the district, are not too expensive for advertising. So, she can be up on the air for several weeks, even though she clearly won’t be able to match Latham dollar for dollar.

Side note: Shortly after the Democratic primary in IA-04, the sore loser who finished third vowed to run for Congress as an independent. However, he quickly turned his attention to the fight against Iowa’s new smoking ban. He then failed to submit petitions to qualify for the ballot, took down his Congressional campaign website and reportedly moved to Florida. In other words, he won’t be a factor in November.

Why should EMILY’s list get involved in this race? Not only is Greenwald a good fit for the district, she is pro-choice whereas Latham has a perfect zero rating on votes related to abortion rights.

As a bonus, Greenwald has the potential to end Iowa’s disgrace as one of only two states that have never sent a woman to Congress or elected a woman governor.

Now, I will briefly examine the six candidates for U.S. House whom EMILY’s list most recently endorsed. As I said earlier, I don’t mean to knock any of these candidates, but I do question why these districts would be considered more winnable than IA-04.

1. Anne Barth. She is running against incumbent Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia’s second district (R+5, somewhat more Republican than IA-04). Cook has this race as lean R, Swing State Project sees it as likely R. As of June 30, Barth had about $353,000 cash on hand, compared to more than $1.2 million for Capito. My understanding is that this district is quite expensive for advertising because of its proximity to Washington, DC.

2. Sam Bennett. She is running against incumbent Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District (D+2, slightly more Democratic than IA-04). Cook and Swing State Project both rate this race as likely R, although Chris Bowers is optimistic given the partisan lean of the district. As of June 30, Bennett had just under $354,000 cash on hand, compared to about $687,000 for Dent.

3. Jill Derby. She is running against incumbent Dean Heller, who beat her in the 2006 election to represent Nevada’s second district (R+8, markedly more Republican than IA-04). It’s not too uncommon for Congressional candidates to win on their second attempt, but Cook and Swing State Project both view this district as likely R. As of June 30, Derby had about $314,000 cash on hand, while Heller had just over $1 million in the bank.

4. Judy Feder. This is another rematch campaign, as incumbent Frank Wolf beat Feder by a comfortable margin in 2006 in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District (R+5). Again, Cook and Swing State Project agree that this is a likely R district. As of June 30, Feder was doing quite well in the money race with about $812,000 cash on hand, not too far behind Wolf’s $849,000.

5. Annette Taddeo. She is running against incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 18th Congressional District (R+4). Cook and Swing State Project both rank this district as likely R. Taddeo made a great impression on people at Netroots Nation and had just under $444,000 in the bank on June 30, while the incumbent reported nearly $1.9 million.

6. Victoria Wulsin. In 2006, she fell just short against incumbent “Mean Jean” Schmidt in Ohio’s second district (R+13). Granted, Schmidt is ineffective as an incumbent, which is probably why Swing State Project has this in the lean R category (it’s likely R according to Cook). Wulsin also had about $378,000 in the bank on June 30, compared to about $390,000 for Schmidt. Still, this is a markedly more Republican district than IA-04.

I understand that EMILY’s List does not have unlimited resources, but I still find it surprising that they have not jumped in to support Greenwald. A little money goes a long way in the Mason City and Des Moines media markets.

If you want to help send her to Congress, go here and give what you can. September 15 is her birthday, by the way.

I look forward to reading your comments about EMILY’s list or any of these Congressional races.

WV-02: Capito likes when Bush plays politics with soldiers’ lives

Over and over again we’ve seen a pattern from Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-Big Oil). When Democrats in Congress tried to take steps to do what the American people want and bring the troops home from Iraq, Capito called it “playing politics.” But when George W. Bush and his administration plays politics with the lives of troops, we hear only silence from her. So much for her “independence.” The only conclusion that can be reached: Capito likes it when Bush plays politics with the lives of soldiers.

Capito on March 23, 2007 regarding a Congressional bill in support of timelines:

“By giving our enemy a date-certain timeline for withdrawal, we are simply asking them to duck into the shadows and wait for us to leave.  Such timelines hog-tie the hands of our commanders in the field and essentially hand our enemy a roadmap to victory.

Yet the Bush administration reached a timeline agreement with the Iraqi government as reported on Aug. 22, 2008 that sets specific dates.

A deal between American and Iraqi officials was given fresh impetus by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday. Ms. Rice met with Mr. Maliki and other Iraqi leaders and confirmed that both sides saw the value in “aspirational timetables” to govern the continuing role, mission and size of American forces in Iraq.

She declined to discuss the timing, saying that to go into details of the talks “would be inappropriate at this time.” Instead, she reiterated the consistent American position that decisions must be based on events, not timetables.

Iraqi officials were more forthcoming with their interpretation of the draft agreement. In an interview by telephone in Baghdad, Mohammad Hamoud, the chief Iraqi negotiator, said that the draft contained two dates: June 30, 2009, for the withdrawal of American forces from “cities and villages” and Dec. 31, 2011, for combat troops to leave the country altogether.

But we heard nothing from Capito after Bush and the Iraqis agreed, in Capito’s own words, to giving the enemy “a roadmap to victory.”

Capito also on March 23, 2007 expressed her “belief” that decisions should be left to the commanders on the ground:

“Congress has the power of the purse, but it should not micromanage this war or any war by making decisions best left for those on the battlefield.  I want our troops to come home, but I want that decision to be made by our commanders who are basing their decisions on the conditions on the ground and in what is best for the security of our nation.”

Yet we find out today from Bob Woodward’s interviews with Bush and those very same commanders on the ground and in the Pentagon that Bush made decisions for political reasons. He took the decisions out of the hands of the commanders and made the country less safe.

At the Joint Chiefs of Staff in late November 2006, Gen. Peter Pace was facing every chairman’s nightmare: a potential revolt of the other chiefs. Two months earlier, the JCS had convened a special team of colonels to recommend options for reversing the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Now, it appeared that the chiefs’ and colonels’ advice was being marginalized, if not ignored, by the White House.

During a JCS meeting with the colonels Nov. 20, Chairman Pace dropped a bomb: The White House was considering a “surge” of additional troops to quell the violence in Iraq. “Would it be a good idea?” Pace asked the group. “If so, what would you do with five more brigades?” That amounted to 20,000 to 30,000 more troops, depending on the number of support personnel.

Pace’s question caught the chiefs and colonels off guard. The JCS hadn’t recommended a surge, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Iraq commander, was opposed to one of that magnitude. Where had this come from? Was it a serious option? Was it already a done deal?

Pace said he had another White House meeting in two days. “I want to be able to give the president a recommendation on what’s doable,” he said.

A rift had been growing between the country’s military and civilian leadership, and in several JCS meetings that November, the chiefs’ frustrations burst into the open. They had all but dismissed the surge option, worried that the armed forces were already stretched to the breaking point.

Where is Capito’s criticism that she made before of politicians making decisions instead of the “commanders on the ground”?

It was so important to her that Capito made that point the basis of another statement on Nov. 14, 2007:

“This is yet another politically motivated resolution by the Majority that would undercut the decision-making power of commanders on the ground in Iraq,” said Capito.

And yet that is what top Pentagon officials told Bob Woodward Bush did. Bush was motivated by politics at home to take away their decision to withdraw troops in order to have his escalation, his “surge” that they thought stretched the military to the breaking point and left the country with out a strategic reserve in the event of another crisis elsewhere:

The president was not listening to Casey’s boss, Gen. John P. Abizaid at Central Command, anymore, either.

“Yeah, I know,” the president said to Abizaid at a National Security Council session in December, “you’re going to tell me you’re against the surge.”

Yes, Abizaid replied, and then presented his argument that U.S. forces needed to get out of Iraq in order to win.

“The U.S. presence helps to keep a lid on,” Bush responded. There were other benefits. A surge would “also help here at home, since for many the measure of success is reduction in violence,” Bush said. “And it’ll help [Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki to get control of the situation. A heavier presence will buy time for his government.”

The rest of Iraq wasn’t as tenuous as Baghdad, Abizaid said. “But it’s the capital city that looks chaotic,” Bush said. “And when your capital city looks chaotic, it’s hard to sustain your position, whether at home or abroad.”

Clearly Bush was motivated by political reasons. Think that’s just my interpretation:

Pace, Schoomaker and Casey found themselves badly out of sync with the White House in the fall of 2006, finally losing control of the war strategy altogether after the midterm elections. Schoomaker was outraged when he saw news coverage that retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff, had briefed the president Dec. 11 about a new Iraq strategy being proposed by the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank.

“When does AEI start trumping the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this stuff?” Schoomaker asked at the next chiefs’ meeting.

Yet where is Capito’s criticism of Bush making “politically motivated” decisions that tied the hands of the commanders on the ground?

She made that criticism to justify her roadblocking of legislation to do EXACTLY what the generals were wanting to do – to pull the troops out to let the Iraqis take over. Yet we hear only silence from her now.

She’s not independent. She’s a coward who only does what Bush and the Republican leaders tell her to do. Capito knew the surge would not work. She said as much:

However, I have grave concerns regarding the call for increased American troop numbers in Iraq and am skeptical of this new plan’s success.  I believe the escalating sectarian violence in Iraq requires a political solution, not a military solution rooted in increased numbers of American troops.

Never forget this. Despite expressing those “concerns,” Capito backed it anyway. She made the politically motivated decision to back Bush’s politically motivated surge and then she accused Democrats and Republicans who opposed the surge and sought to bring the troops home of tying the hands of the commanders in the field, when that is exactly what she supported George W. Bush in doing.

How many died since she made the decision to back the president playing politics with the lives of soldiers instead of standing up and representing the American people?

Capito shouldn’t be running for reelection. She should be hanging her head in shame.

We have a chance to elect a Congressional representative who wants to end the war in Iraq quickly and responsibly.

Here’s Anne Barth’s position:

We must focus on training the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security soon, set benchmarks for the Iraqi military, and give more emphasis to diplomatic strategies.  

The war in Iraq has had a serious impact on our military, and our brave men and women are stretched thin by extended deployments. In Congress, I will work to strengthen America’s national security and refocus on the terrorist threats around the globe that are currently ignored.

Look how closely it mirrors the exact view held by the commanders on the ground – the same ones whose views Capito said were so important and for years she ignored as Bush played politics and others paid the ultimate price.

More on Anne Barth here. More on Capito here.

Our West Virginia Blue Act Blue page for Anne Barth here.