Earlier this month, the DCCC launched radio ads targeting 28 House Republicans who had opposed the stimulus bill. Now, Democrats are ready to mount the next round of their offensive: Having come up with a list of just 12 representatives, they are blanketing their constituents with robocalls.
Here is the version that is airing in Thad McCotter’s MI-11:
Did you know Congressman Thad McCotter voted against President Obama’s economic recovery plan, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? McCotter’s empty rhetoric can’t hide that he voted to raise the AMT tax on 22 million middle class Americans and against the largest tax cut in history.
Interestingly, the messages reverse the traditional political attacks and highlight Republicans’ failure to match conservative orthodoxy. How often do Democrats get to blast the GOP for voting against the Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations? And how often do Republicans find themselves criticized for voting “against the largest tax cut in history?”
The DCCC’s goal is to persuade voters that their Republican representatives are so determined to obstruct economy recovery that they are willing to oppose a plan that is supported by their traditional ally and that matches their traditional demands.
The 12 Republicans who are targeted make a very interesting list, as their political circumstances are vastly different. (Five of these names were not on the DCCC’s original list of 28 targets: Judy Biggert, Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach, Michael Castle, Adam Putnam).
|District||Status||2008 pres.||2004 pres.|
|Biggert (IL-13)||54% Obama||55% Bush|
|Calvert (CA-44)||narrow 08 victory||50% Obama||59% Bush|
|Castle (DE-AL)||possibly retiring||62% Obama||53% Kerry|
|Dent (PA-15)||56% Obama||50-50|
|Gerlach (PA-06)||narrow 08 victory, possibly retiring||58% Obama||52% Kerry|
|Kirk (IL-10)||competitive ‘08 victory||61% Obama||53% Kerry|
|Luetkemeyer (MO-09)||freshman, narrow ‘08 victory||N/A||59% Bush|
|Lungren (CA-03)||narrow ‘08 victory||49-49||58% Bush|
|McCotter (MI-11)||53% Obama||53% Bush|
|Putnam (FL-12)||retiring||50% McCain||58% Bush|
|Reichert (WA-08)||narrow ‘08 victory||57% Obama||51% Kerry|
|Sessions (TX-32)||53% McCain||60% Bush|
The most interesting of the DCCC’s inclusions is undoubtedly FL-12’s Adam Putnam. The Republican lawmaker has already announced that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2010; he will run instead for Agriculture Commissioner, a statewide position. So why is the DCCC going after him?
The first reason is that FL-12 will be an open seat, and the DCCC is hoping to be able to contest it even if the district tilts Republican. Democrats are hoping that going after Putnam’s vote can, by extension, weaken the GOP brand and thus make their nominee’s job easier in 2010.
The second reason is that Putnam is an ambitious lawmaker who is transparently eying the 2014 gubernatorial race - and many think he might try to aim even higher. Democrats would thus love to take Putnam out now, when he is still running for down-the-ballot races. The race for Agriculture Commissioner might be very low-profile, but it is worth keeping an eye on it.
Three other fascinating choices are IL-13’s Judy Biggert, CA-44’s Ken Calvert and CA-03’s Dan Lungren. All three represent districts that George W. Bush won easily in 2004; yet, all three are now finding themselves sitting in swing districts that have shown their willingness to vote Democratic. And the reason that these three Republicans were chosen is that they all received unexpectedly low results last November in races that no one was paying attention to: Biggert got 53%, Calvert 52% and Lungren 50%. To DCCC strategists, that means that these incumbents lack the type of personal appeal that could protect them from their district’s blue drift.
Adding to this story’s many layers is Mitt Romney’s decision to donate $1000 to every single one of these Republicans’ re-election campaign (except Putnam’s, since he is not running for the House in ‘10). Calling these incumbents the “Undaunted Dozen,” Romney praised them for standing “for fiscal responsibility” and saying “no to spending abuse.” “We are committed to helping these courageous Republicans defend their position and fend off political attacks,” added Romney’s statement.
Romney’s move is obviously far more relevant to the GOP’s 2012 race than to the 2010 midterms. (Sorry Jaxx, but many Republicans are acting like the presidential race is already on!) I explained last week that Charlie Crist’s decision to support the stimulus could be an issue for him down the road, as an important test in the 2012 primary will which candidate stood up the most to Obama.
Romney no longer holds an elected office, so he cannot make a great show of rejecting some of the stimulus funds like Bobby Jindal or Mark Sanford. This is his way of ensuring that his name stays in the news and that people remember him as an opponent of Obama’s policies. After all, Romney was criticized by many in 2007-2008 for being a phony conservative; he now wants to avoid a similar fate in 2012.