by Chris Bowers, Thu Jan 27, 2005 at 08:36:29 AM EST
That is a picture of Ginny and myself before we broke into her liquor cabinet (I may not be the best interviewer around--maybe). Ginny was the only congressional campaign I helped raise money for in the 2004 cycle. My first request for donations came when the DCCC was still writing "no comment." Brian Welsh, a staffer on Ginny's campaign, wrote about this on MyDD after the election:If the notion of competing in each and every seat ever needed an exclamation point, Ginny Schrader is it. Not too many people know that the guy who Ginny beat in the primary was a pro-life Republican who had lost to Greenwood in at least two previous primaries. This time around, it was his plan to Trojan Horse the Democratic party so he could challenge the pro-choice Greenwood from the right. Had Ginny not been there, this guy would have been the Democratic nominee in a top-ten race. Sure, they could have tried to get him out. But I heard stories about this guy. It would not have been pretty.
And this is what a Congressional district was almost reduced to--a district with a 53% Democratic performance rating and gaining in registration. A gob of Democratic votes had recently been carved into the district in an attempt to make the 13th more competitive for Republicans. It was expected that Greenwood could absorb those votes, but how about someone else?
And yet Ginny Schrader was the only real Democrat to step to the plate ensuring that the Eighth District of Pennsylvania would not go down without a fight. And she is for the things that we are for and she makes no bones about it. And sure, maybe with some digging, they could have found a replacement, someone with higher name ID, maybe someone who could self-finance and boy wouldn't that have been great?
But we knew that wasn't right and most of you knew that too. And when another five-thousand came raining in moments after a DCCC spokesperson gave a "no comment" to a reporter for The Hill we laughed our butts off.
Like I said, NO ONE, ever asked us to step aside. And this is to everyone's credit. We must compete in every seat, in every state including the old CSA and those candidates, many of them, like Ginny, just regular people with a lot of guts, deserve everything we can put behind them.They may never have aksed her to step aside, but they must have at least considered doing so, or else their original response would not have been "no comment." In the interests of full-disclosure, everything I did for Ginny's campaign I did for free. The money you guys raised here and at Swing State Project, the advice I gave to Ginny's campaign about running Blogads, and the letter I wrote to Markos asking him to endorse Ginny in the Dailykos Dozen--it was all free. I did all of this at a time when I was almost completely broke, and I was taking a few odd jobs to help buy groceries. I did this not for money, but because I believed in Ginny--she is exactly the sort of person we need in Congress--and the principle of challenging every seat. Here's what Stuart Rothenberg has to say:Blogger Chris Bowers at MyDD perhaps is the best example of how clueless some bloggers really are about politics.
Last summer, he penned a piece, "DCCC Not Aggressive Enough," in which he complained about his party's House campaign committee. Now, in a two-part series called "Taking Back the House," he insists "we need to attack everywhere."
"I want 80 serious challenges to GOP House incumbents every two years and a Democratic name on the ballot in all 435 districts," he demands. "I have had enough of just targeting the twenty or so top races - let's engage in a full-frontal assault. ... The first step is to identify eighty Republicans against who we could mount a serious challenge."
It is undeniably true that you can't defeat an incumbent if you don't run someone against him. So, yes, it's better for a party to field candidates in 435 districts, if possible.
But some Republicans didn't have Democratic opponents because they were unbeatable, and no Democrat wanted to waste his or her time (to say nothing about money) by running. You can't make a race competitive simply by putting a name on the ballot, and the Democrats would not hold even a single additional seat had they put a name on the ballot in every district during the past two cycles.Last part first--you think? Really? I mean, I thought we would win thse districts just by putting a name on the ballot. Which is why, when discussing the same subject, I wrote this:Most, but not all, of these districts have horrible demographics for Democrats. I freely admit that had Democrats run in these districts, they all would probably have lost, and many, if not most, would probably have failed to come within 20%. Of course, you would think from Rothenberg's article that I was demanding that the DCCC dump a million dollars into each of the thirty-six districts where neither a Democrat nor Bernie Sanders was running. Here are my outrageous demands: The fact is that for around $360,000, one-quarter the cost of a competitive congressional district, we could have found a candidate for each of these districts and raised $10,000 for that candidate's campaign. Rothenberg feels that raising such money would be akin to flushing it down the toilet. I disagree: Abandoning a district has repercussions in other elections. On the Presidential level, Arizona (maybe), Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are battleground states, but Democrats failed to give Kerry any down ticket help in 14 of the 72 congressional districts in those states: nearly one out of every five. Even a half-hearted campaign by a Democrat in each of those districts would surely have helped Kerry to the tune of at least a few hundred, and probably a few thousand, votes per district. The same could be said for competitive Senate races in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina where Democrats abandoned nineteen congressional districts. Our chances to retake the Senate and the Presidency were dented because of our failure to compete everywhere in the House. The same can be said for elections concerning Governors, state legislatures, county executives, and basically any election you can name. By abandoning these districts, we abandoned our chances to squeeze crucial votes out of them for other candidates running for office in the district.(...)
Abandoning a district also has repercussions for future elections. Failing to challenge your opponent's message in an area is damaging to your message in that area in the future. Failing to provide a choice to those willing to support you--and there are always tens of thousands willing to support you in any congressional district--sends a message that you do not represent or care about those people. Even worse, failing to challenge an incumbent sends a message that you are afraid of your own beliefs and that you are not working to make this country a better Democracy.
Running a candidate in each of these districts would also have helped to identify Democratic activists in each of these districts. Identifying, encouraging, and assisting potential Dem activists throughout the entire country would help to strengthen the Party, both now and in future elections cycles. These are the people who can help to bring the Democratic message to every corner of the country.(...)
Winning is never the only thing at stake in an election. For 36 candidates and $360,000, we could have done a lot of good. It is even possible that there is another way we could spend $360,000 that would bring us in so many votes, force the GOP to spend much money in defense, identify so many activists, and bring our message to so many more people?Rothenberg cracks wise: As for Bowers' assertion that he wants "80 serious challenges" to GOP incumbents next year, he might as well ask for 120 or 150. I want vacation houses in Napa Valley and Palm Beach, and I'd like to be 35 years old again. "If wishes were horses, beggars might ride," as the English proverb puts it. As for my keen analytical skills and criticizing the DCCC for not being aggressive enough, I would like to point out that the DCCC targeted only 13 Republican held seats in 2004. Democrats needed a net gain of 13 seats in order to take back the House. Since the DCCC knew that Texas redistricting would result in a loss of at least one Democratic incumbent, they clearly did not even try to take control of the House in 2004. That is unacceptable. That is not aggressive enough, no matter how much you want to ridicule me for having pie in the sky dreams. Perhaps Rothenberg would argue that trying to take control of the House is akin to flushing money down the toilet.
Don't worry, they still want your money though:Blogging is getting more attention in the mainstream media and from the political parties. As vehicles for fundraising, blogs can't be ignored. And some bloggers have interesting things to say. But when it comes to campaign savvy or understanding how the campaign committees operate, two of the most high-profile liberal bloggers have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and insights. Whatever Rothenberg. I apologize, and from now on I will only take instructions from the DCCC and high-priced Democratic consultants whose millions of dollars are entirely justified by electoral results.