Republican Civil War Continues: GOP Cong. Sells Out McCain
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 08:00:31 AM EDT
Yesterday I noted that the McCain campaign appeared intent on selling out the Republican Party, or at least the party's efforts at stemming its losses in Congress. Now it looks like at least one GOP Congressman from a fairly Republican district -- R+9, according to the Cook Political Report, or about 9 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections -- is returning the favor. Ben Smith has the story, fleshing out a graf from a New York Times report:
Nagourney and Bumiller mention in passing in tomorrow's Times that the Republican congressman representing Nebraska's second district, Lee Terry, has taken out ads to appeal to "Obama-Terry" voters. (The Obama campaign promptly sent the image over.)
I'm not sure if that's really a bellwether. I haven't seen a lot of other Republicans putting Obama next to their names, though that could change. And Terry has stuck by an early endorsement of McCain.
But that Nebraska district matters beyond any symbolic meaning. It's the Omaha district where Obama's hoping to steal an electoral vote. And the ad is a sign of the broader Democratic strength that runs up and down the ballot, and threatens to reinforce itself. Terry is favored, but faces a real challenge from from a
Iraq vetserious candidate whose prospects are bolstered by Obama's turnout operation, which is presumably why Terry's aiming to pick up some of those Obama voters.
The reelection Lee Terry, the Republican Congressman at the center of this story, isn't a foregone conclusion -- Research 2000 polling for Daily Kos shows him leading his challenger, Jim Esch, by a 49 percent to 39 percent margin, and Cook rates his race as competitive, though leaning in the Republicans' direction -- though as mentioned above this his is a very Republican district. So the fact that Terry is running paid media trying to link himself to Barack Obama rather than John McCain is remarkable, if not stunning.
We're not talking about Gordon Smith here, running an uphill battle for reelection in a fairly blue state like Oregon, which has backed the Democrats in each of the last five presidential elections. It's not overwhelmingly surprising to see Smith run ads tying himself to Obama. But Terry? No Democrat has won his district in 16 years, and no Democrat has carried his state on the presidential level in 44 years. Yes, the Obama campaign and even the McCain campaign are making a play for the electoral vote associated with Terry's district, suggesting that it could go either way. Still, when a conservative Republican Congressman in a conservative Republican district of a conservative Republican state starts aligning himself with the Democratic presidential nominee, it's telling. And if it is at all an omen of what's to come, we may be on the verge of a major civil war within the GOP just three weeks from election day.