House Dems Have Another Great Special Election Pick-Up Opp.

Nice catch from The Daily Kingfish (via Breaking Blue): The Cook Political Report (subscription required) now rates the May 3rd special election in Louisiana's 6th congressional district as a "toss-up."

Meanwhile, the special election to replace GOP Rep. Richard Baker's seat in Louisiana continues to give national Republicans heartburn. Less than three weeks away from the April 5th primary runoff, competitive primaries are playing out in both parties. Insiders on both sides agree the nomination of the current favorites - moderate Democratic state Rep. Don Cazayoux and GOP newspaper publisher Woody Jenkins - would present something akin to a perfect storm for Democrats in the May 3rd special general election.

The results of the March 8th special primary illustrated Republicans' problems in this race. Like many in the South, this Baton Rouge-based district's track record at the federal level (it gave President Bush 59 percent in 2004) flies in the face of its party registration breakdown (49.6 percent Democratic to 28.1 percent Republican). But in the special primary, turnout appeared much more reflective of party registration than federal-level performance. The fact that 47,632 Democrats and just 29,875 Republicans turned out to vote is evidence of a serious enthusiasm gap between the parties. Of course, it is difficult to gauge how the district's fundamentals have changed since Hurricane Katrina added tens of thousands of new residents to the Baton Rouge area.

I've written about this race before, and it's worth noting once again that Cazayoux is a very conservative Democrat who, if elected in a month and a half, would likely find himself on the far right of his caucus in the chamber. However, it's also worth explicitly stating that Cazayoux would almost undoubtedly be a better member than Jenkins, both because he would caucus with the Democrats rather than the Republicans and because for as conservative as he is, Jenkins is that much more conservative.

Taking one step back, this race is good news for the House Democrats more broadly. The House GOP simply cannot afford to have to invest serious dollars defending another open seat special election -- particularly one that they should be able to win without an investment by the National Republican Congressional Committee (which sent out more money than it took in last month). If the Republicans keep on having to pour money into safe districts like Illinois 14 (which leans about 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections) and Louisiana 6 (which tended to lean about 6 points more Republican than the nation as a whole before Hurricane Katrina shook things up in the state), there's simply no way they're going to be able to defend even more vulnerable seats come November -- let alone go after potentially vulnerable Democratic seats.

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Democrat Andre Carson Wins IN-07 Special Election

Here are the results:

√ Democrat Andre Carson: 25,621 votes (53 percent)
Republican Jon Elrod: 21,418 (44 percent)

327 of 445 (73 percent) precincts reporting (10:33 PM Eastern)

Update [by Jonathan Singer]:WISH-TV has called the race for Andre Carson, ensuring that this seat will stay in the Democrats' hands.

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IL-14: Why Bill Foster Won

first of all, congratulations to bill foster, our newest member of congress.  it will be kind of weird calling him congressman.  and congratulations to his staff and all the volunteers who helped elect foster.  what a tremendous achievement!

foster's election is vindication of all those who believed that a serious democratic candidate with a great campaign organization could turn il-14 blue.  and now we have!  it is also vindication for the plan that bill and tom put together, and especially the networking they did to create a solid pool of campaign workers who went out and delivered the vote for foster.  this should serve as both proof of what a good campaign can do and an example for the local democratic parties and their future candidates.

it's probably too early to really dissect how bill foster won denny hastert's open seat but we can put some things into context.

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The Power of Special Elections

i returned to illinois (believe me, i wanted to say florida -- is it spring yet?) to find this email:

Why are Republicans spending a million dollars to help Oberweis?  I don't understand.  Oberweis has lots of money and Congressional Republicans don't.

jonathan singer of mydd writes, NRCC Blows Nearly One Third of its CoH on IL-14 Special Election. but there's a very good reason why congressional republicans are betting the farm on this special election.  the core of republican campaign doctrine is winning special elections and leveraging those wins into bigger wins in the general.  that's what they are trying to do here.

voters in il-14 are uniquely in the position to either send republicans packing in 2008 or give them a win that can lead to the election of john mccain and more republicans in november.  now that's power.

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NRCC Blows Nearly One Third of its CoH on IL-14 Special Election

By most measures, the Democrats have a fairly good opportunity to pick up another seat in the House of Representatives this week in the special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert. The district tends to lean about 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. However, tthe changing demographics of Illinois combined with the general trend in the country towards the Democrats combined with the unpopularity of the Republican nominee combined with the strong profile of the Democratic nominee combined with the ad cut by Barack Obama (who is extremely popular in the state) for the race have really put this contest in play -- so much so, in fact, that the National Republican Congressional Committee is being forced to dump a significant portion of what it has in the bank on the race. Take a look:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent more than $300,000 on a media buy on Monday in former Rep. Dennis Hastert's (R) district, bringing its investment in the race close to $1 million.

[...]

The NRCC launched an $850,000 ad buy last week, and it added a $180,000 buy on Tuesday. It has now spent more than $1.2 million on the race.

The NRCC simply does not have the kind of money to go toe-to-toe with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As of the latest filing period, the NRCC finally was able to pull itself out of debt for the first time this cycle, with a net $4.1 million in the bank as of the end of January. Crunching out the math, then, the $1.2 million the NRCC has had to spend defending this Republican seat in a Republican district amounts to 29.2 percent of the committee's net cash-on-hand, or nearly a third. In contrast, the D-trip has spent about 3.0 percent of its net cash-on-hand on the race, not nearly depleting its coffers in the same way.

This one is a real nail-biter at this point, and it would no doubt be very exciting for the Democrats to pick up this seat. But given the larger picture -- the race to elect more and better Democrats for the 111th Congress -- this race has already been a success, with the Democrats forcing the Republicans to spend money they can't afford to be dumping on a seat they otherwise should be able to hold.

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