Republicans, White Rednecks And Black Conference Chairs

Republicans apparently made a mistake by not appealing to one, and by having the other. Hotline On Call reports:"White rednecks" who "didn't show up to vote for us" partly cost GOPers their cong. majorities, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) told fellow Republicans today. And Putnam, seeking the post of GOP conference chair, chided ex-Chair J.C. Watts (R-OK) for ruining the conference's ability to serve its members.

Three Republicans in the room independently confirmed to the Hotline the substance and context of Putnam's remarks. But Putnam's chief of staff insists that the remarks were taken out of context.

Examining the 2006 midterms, Putnam blamed the GOP defeat on "the independent vote, the women vote, the suburban vote." He said that "heck, even the white rednecks who go to church on Sunday didn't come out to vote for us."

Putnam used Watts' tenure as chair to contrast his own vision for the conference, saying the GOP needed a "bolder" vision than the type of strategy preferred by Watts. According to one Republican's notes, Putnam said that "JC Watts ruined the Conference by removing the member services functions that it offered until 1998" by turning it into only a communications and press vehicle. According to two Republicans, Putnam took the same swat at Watts during a Republican Study Conference session yesterday.

A Watts associate confirmed that he had learned of Putnam's comments and that he was angered by them. Watts was not immediately available to comment. I don't care what the context of the remarks were. Saying that you need to appeal more to "white rednecks" while simultaneously deriding the only prominent African-American member of your caucus of the past three decades doesn't look good. But I bet Putnam would work well with Trent Lott if he achieves his leadership post.

Man, am I digging taking out all of the Republican "moderates." It is funny how the progressive movement and the conservative movement have worked in tandem to make the Republican Party as extreme and conservative as possible. The good thing is that even though Democrats are now in power, this is an alliance that will continue through 2008. As Republicans continue to primary every "moderate" in their own midst, we will continue to heavily target and knock off every "moderate" Republican currently in federal office if they survive the primary. And so the process of trapping Republicans in their own extreme base continues unabated.

Memo to Republican moderates: join the Democratic caucus, or prepare for imminent defeat. Hotline On Call also has more on this phenomenon.

New DCCC Chair: A Call For Nominations

One thing not decided in today's leadership elections in the House was the new chair of the DCCC. In the House, this is a position that is nominated by the leader of the caucus (Pelosi), and then put to a vote by the entire membership. As of right now, no date has been set for such a vote. I have heard some names floated, such as Kendrick Meek, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or Chris Van Hollen, but I have no idea how solid those rumors are. Who knows, maybe Rahm will want to do it again.

I would like to hear some ideas form you. I imagine that a good DCCC chair would have the following attributes:
  • 1. Little or no possibility of facing a serious re-election challenge him or herself (Reynolds problem)
  • 2. I would strongly prefer someone who entered Congress after 1994, so s/he understands being in the minority and does not take our majority as a natural turn of events. We need someone with fire for many more seats.
  • 3. Not strongly beholden to any particular wing or political infrastructure within the party. I would prefer someone who is not a Blue Dog, not a Progressive, not a New Democrat, not a Clintonista, not from a big city machine. I want an independent operative who can move freely throughout the party, and is not easily pegged as a specific type of Democrat.
  • 4. I want someone who is both respected by, and open to, the ideas coming from places like The New Politics Institute, Crashing the Gate, and the netroots community. We need new campaign ideas for continuing to build upon a new majority.
Obviously, you can follow whatever guidelines you like, but that is what I suggest. One name that springs quickly to mind is netroots favorite and thirty-something Representative Tim Ryan form the very blue OH-17. Represenative Zoe Lofgren from CA-16 doesn't sound bad either. But I am open to a lot more names than this. Let's see these names fly.

Thoughts On the Majority Leader Campaign

In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the Majority Leader campaign, now that it is finally over:
  • Democrats just elected a Majority Leader in the House. After twelve years in the minority, that should be the headline.
  • Yes, this is getting more press than the Republican vote for Senate whip. However, that vote was for the #2 spot in the minority. This was for the #2 spot in the majority. We should get more press.
  • Yes, Murtha had ethics problems, but I really worry about Hoyer's love of K-Street.
  • Yes, Hoyer has Iraq problems, but remember that Rep. Waxman, the guy who will be leading the investigations on Iraq, endorsed Hoyer. That isn't clear cut either.
  • Yes, Pelosi endorsed Murtha, and as such there are worries this could undercut her position. However, I heard from a source on the Hill that I trust very much that the caucus would actually be less unified under Murtha than it would be under Hoyer.
  • Yes, Murtha's gutsy stance on Iraq helped us win these elections as much as anything else over the past two years, and there should have been more of a reward for him than this. But he didn't have to shoot all the way for Majority leader. That is a bit of a step upward.
  • Even though I knew it was important, I did not like focusing on this. I know these sorts of things have to be done, and the netroots must work to support its champions and to remake the Democratic caucus on all levels, but overall it was too insider baseball for my tastes. Movements do not obsess over things like Vice-Presidential speculation, the best of two questionable choices for minority leader, or the internal Hill politics of whose staff gets along, and whose staff does not. Keeping the caucus in line and on focus was never going to be solved through this election, no matter who won. We have better tools in our box for that than this election.
Let's get back to work.

House Recount News

As much as I would like to start lining up House targets for 2006, I have no intention of doing so until the House is finally settled. That won't happen until December. Needless to say, both sides will be able to draw up fairly deep target lists, considering the very high number of close races in the House this cycle. However, with an expected wave of Republican retirements, and with Democrats coming out on the wrong end of slightly more close races than Republicans, our target list should still be deeper than theirs. With another good cycle, Democrats could pick up as many as 15-20 more seats in the House in 2008. Couple that with better maps after 2010, and then we will have built a truly long-term majority.

The Washington Post has a quick round-up of the ten House races that are still unresolved. In the extended entry, I provide the latest news on CT-02, WA-08, OH-15, and FL-13.

There's more...

OK, Fine. Let's Draw Some New Maps

From an article on today's ruling:On a different issue, the court ruled that state legislators may draw new maps as often as they like -- not just once a decade as Texas Democrats claimed. That means Democratic and Republican state lawmakers can push through new maps anytime there is a power shift at a state capital. We have a pretty good chance to take the trifecta this year in California, Colorado, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. We already have the trifecta in Illinois. After the 2006 elections, Democrats need the guts to wake up and realize that the public will not revolt in the face of Republican power grabs, and that Republicans will not play nice because we decide to do so. Redrawing the maps in those states will make it all but impossible for Republicans to hold the House after the 2006 elections. Further, we can take out several committee chairs and even the Speaker of the House out in so doing. If these are the tactics Republicans want to use, and if their Supreme Court say these tactics are legal, then its time we use these tactics to decapitate the most of Republican leadership. Let's see them whine and squirm when their own strategies are used against them. Failure to do so is a failure to fight the conservative movement's long march toward theocracy and totalitarianism.

For you wonks out there, Adam B has a more in-depth review of the SCOTUS Texas decision, as does Election Law Blog.

Update: Off the Kuff writes about the electoral implications fo the decision.


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