Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Suggestion for Henry Waxman

Roll Call and the Politico report that an aide to Karl Rove made a political presentation to political appointees at the General Services Administration, and Henry Waxman believes it may have violated the Hatch Act. Naturally, Karl Rove is implicated - and Mr. Waxman won't let him get off easy.

A suggestion for Mr. Waxman: to ensure broader support for the investigation, try not to make it look so obviously partisan. You could bring in a few Democrats in cases where the evidence against them is pretty clear: John Conyers and Joe Baca. Bonus for you: the Republicans went pretty easy on those guys while they were in the majority. There's no reason for you to be so nice.

Now, on to the political angle. From the Politico:

According to Jennings’ document, posted on the committee’s Web site, the key to Republican campaigns in 2006 was the party’s 72-hour program – its effort to maximize GOP turnout on Election Day. Republican strategists have cited the program as integral to their success in past elections. But in 2006, its impact was blunted by a barrage of bad news for Republicans – the war in Iraq, the Mark Foley page scandal and other ethical controversies.

The Republicans who didn’t have the full support of the program performed much worse than the pre-election polling data available to the National Republican Congressional Committee – and such support often meant the difference between winning and losing. The PowerPoint document listed five campaigns that dramatically underperformed based on NRCC polls.

The document also identifies vulnerable Republican seats to prioritize for protection in 2008, and vulnerable Democrats to target for defeat. Regular readers won't be surprised by any of the names on the Democratic side:

...Most of the names were freshmen who won in Republican-leaning districts, like Reps. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) and Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.). Left off the list were freshman Reps. Harry E. Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords, both Arizona Democrats who represent districts President Bush carried in 2004.

Two freshman Democrats who ran contested races in Iowa, Rep. Bruce Braley and Loebsack, were also excluded.

The most surprising inclusion was Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.), who coasted to victory in a solidly Republican state and hasn’t drawn any serious challengers at this early stage.

Democrats are jumping on the names of Republicans who must be protected:

Those GOP seats the White House saw in need of special defense included two California congressmen enmeshed in ethical controversy.

Rep. John Doolittle, whose district takes in the northern Sacramento suburbs, won with only 49 percent of the vote in 2006. Democrats have alleged improper ties between Doolittle and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, among other complaints.

Rep. Gary G. Miller, who ran unopposed in his Southern California district in 2006, was also cited by the White House as vulnerable. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has just launched a Web ad raising questions about a local land deal.

“Rove’s ’08 playbook confirms Republican concerns and fears about many of these incumbents we have been mentioning for the last few months,” said DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell.

I need to scrub the data, but I believe it's rare for a Member who squeaks by in a 'wave' election such as 2006 to be defeated in 2008. So Democrats may talk bravely about knocking off Doolittle or Miller, but chances are better that the Republicans will win in those seats more easily than in 2006.

The presentation in question is available on Waxman's Committee site here.

No comments: