Republicans Suffer Recruitment Failure in NC-11

If the Republicans want to have any hope of retaking the House in 2008 they're going to need to recruit strong candidates to challenge potentially endangered Democratic members, particularly those who are only in their first term and particularly those who represent districts that tend to otherwise vote Republican. But in case after case the Republicans have failed to woo top candidates in the districts they need to.

Take North Carolina's 11th congressional district, which leans about 7 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. Last fall, Democrat Heath Shuler defeated the ethically-challenged Republican Congressman Charles Taylor and at least theoretically would not be immune to a challenge from a strong Republican candidate. But as Mark Johnson reports for The Charlotte Observer, the GOP was met with a loud "no" from one of their top prospects in the district.

N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, the No. 2 Republican in the state Senate, announced Monday that he will not run for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, a freshman Democrat whose district could make him one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress next year.

"My family, friends and supporters have been wonderful in pressing me to run," Apodaca said in a prepared statement. "As of now, I'm in a position to do more for Western North Carolina in Raleigh than I would be as part of Congress."

National leaders from the Republican Party had courted Apodaca for the campaign, given his Henderson County base and tenure as deputy Republican leader in the state Senate. At Monday's Apple Festival parade in Hendersonville, onlookers occasionally shouted "Congressman!" at him.

It looks like folks are afraid of Shuler -- and for good reason. It's not for nothing that Shuler won by 8 points in 2006. At the same time, Shuler is a freshman in a fairly Republican district, and in a vacuum Republican legislators like Apodaca would be chomping at the bit for an opportunity to run.

But this cycle is clearly not gearing up to one in which there is no wind blowing in either direction. While the political environment could change before election day, the fact is that at this key moment, when both parties are desperately fighting to find the right slate of candidates so that they can increase their share of seats in both chambers of Congress, the Democrats are tending to hear "yes" and the Republicans are tending to hear "no" -- a clear sign that, at least as far as Republican state legislators and county commissioners and businessmen and the like are concerned, there could be another bloodbath for the GOP in 2008.

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Who will step up?

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane& My Left Wing


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Shuler's Numbers Don't Tell the Whole Story

CQ Politics posted an interesting analysis of Democratic Party Unity since regaining the majority.  Here's the bit on Congressman Shuler:

Heath Shuler, North Carolina's 11th District (West -- Asheville)

* Party Unity Score: 82.9 percent (4th lowest)

* 2006 result: Shuler 54%, Rep. Charles H. Taylor 46%

* 2004 President: Bush 57%, Kerry 43%

Shuler, who takes conservative positions on some social issues, voted against the bills to promote embryonic stem cell research and to classify certain violent offenses as "hate crimes." He also voted against a defeated bill, backed by 169 Democrats and two Republicans, that called for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within 180 days.

When Congressman Shuler took office, I was prepared for him to vote against Democrats and progressives on issues of gay rights, stem cell science, and a range of other "social issues".  What I wasn't prepared for was the poor reasoning and outright intolerance in casting those votes.

Follow me after the jump for analysis of this Mixed Bag Democrat.

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NC-11 Taylor Breaks Rules of Debate. Shuler Protests.

Here's my liveblogging of the Debate That Wasn't

LINK to original post at Scrutiny Hooligans

Matt Mittan of local station 570AM thanks other stations who are carrying the debate. Mittan explains that Shuler had an hour on the show on Wednesday and that Taylor appeared on Thursday. Heath Shuler is in the studio while Taylor, at 12:30, is in the studio at WHKP in Hendersonville. Mittan explains why he is out of compliance with the debate agreement.

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NC-11: Heath Shuler / Charles Taylor Debate Friday

AC-T's John Boyle:

"Congressman Charles Taylor and Democratic challenger Heath Shuler will debate this political season - on the radio.

It will be the first debate Taylor, an eight-term incumbent, has granted a debate since a televised exchange with Maggie Lauterer in 1994.

The men will face off against each other on Matt Mittan's talk show from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday on WWNC-News Radio 570 AM, according to News Director Jerri Jamison. The show will be simulcast on WMXF-1400 AM in Waynesville, which is also owned by Clear Channel Communications. The debate will also be Podcast through the radio station's Web site: www.wwnc.com"

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