House 2010: Staying on the Offense
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 11:59:26 AM EST
As most readers of this site are probably aware, I'm not yet sold on the notion embraced by some that the House has already been all but lost by the Democrats. Part of the reason is that it's still very early, and we do not know how the political environment -- and even more so the economic climate -- will change in the next eight months. Part of the reason is that election prognosticators in recent cycles have fairly consistently underestimated Democratic performance. And part of the reason is that the Democrats do have some opportunities to stay on offense.
The DCCC is rolling out their roster of promising challengers, determined to stay on offense amid a harsh national political climate.
The party will target 7 GOP incumbents and 4 GOP-held open seats this year, armed with prominent challengers who have demonstrated their ability to raise money and build effective campaign organizations.
Inaugural Red-to-Blue members:Candidate Incumbent District Ami Bera Dan Lungren CA03 Paula Brooks Pat Tiberi OH12 John Callahan Charlie Dent PA15 John Carney Open (Castle) DEAL Suzan DelBene Dave Reichert WA08 Lori Edwards Open (Putnam) FL12 Raj Goyle Open (Tiahrt) KS04 Bryan Lentz Open (Sestak) PA07 Rob Miller Joe Wilson SC02 Steve Pougnet Mary Bono Mack CA45 Dan Seals Open (Kirk) IL10 Tom White Lee Terry NE02
The list is a good one, and the Democrats have legitimate shots at winning in a number of them, particularly the open seat races.
But one incumbent target worth mentioning is Mary Bono Mack, who has never faced a genuine challenge during her time in Congress. Representing a district anchored in the Palm Springs-area of Southern California that backed Barack Obama by a 52 percent to 47 percent margin in 2008 and which backed Al Gore's 2000 Presidential bid with 51 percent of the vote, Bono Mack might be more vulnerable than many think -- particularly considering that her challenger is the popular mayor Palm Springs, Steve Pougnet.
Bono Mack has quite a bit more money in the bank than Pougnet does at present -- but Pougnet has shown decent fundraising chops, bringing in more than $550,000 through the end of the year and holding $400,000 in the bank. With new fundraising support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, these numbers could come closer to equalizing in the months leading toward the election, and this could be a real race.