Steny Hoyer's Candidate Loses Debate to Mfume

The Maryland Senate primary is really interesting.  We've got two good candidates, Ben Cardin and Kweisi Mfume, facing off.  In a lot of ways it's a difference of tone rather than ideology.  Cardin's more low-key and traditional, Mfume is more aggressive and out front.  Survey USA has Mfume leading, whereas

It's not that he's a bad guy, it's that he's backed by Steny Hoyer's machine, and he does boneheaded things like promise a cure for cancer if he is elected to the Senate.  Cardin's a good progressive in his voting record, but he's just not the right leader for Democrats in the Senate right now.  Watch his ad.  It's safe.  It doesn't mention that he's a Democrat, and this is a blue state.

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Great New DCCC Ad

I was floored by the new DCCC commercial. Maybe it's because my expectations for Rahm and company are so low. But its a very emotionally powerful ad. It does two things: it succinctly explains the republicans troubles and introduces the new prospective leadership -- Emanuel, Hoyer, Pelosi -- to the country. I hope they run this ad everywhere.

you can see it at

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The House Points System

From The Hill:

In his latest bid to rally his Democratic colleagues to the cause of winning back the House in November, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is instituting a point system to track how much individual House Democrats engage in political work helpful to the party.

Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader, were expected to announce the existence of the system at a political dinner for House Democrats last night. Emanuel has begun describing it in recent meetings with Democratically aligned groups.

The DCCC has long tracked how much money each Democrat raises for the committee and how much each contributes in quarterly dues. The new system is expected to be much broader, assigning point values to less easily quantifiable items such as whether members travel to other districts for political work, whether they hold press conferences in other districts, or whether they serve as a mentor to a challenger.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that he had yet to hear about the program but that he felt such a system could reward Democrats who aid their colleagues but have trouble raising money because they come from poor districts.

"I cannot be successful in this caucus if I'm only judged on fundraising capabilities, no matter how much I may have to offer," he said, noting that he represents a poor district in a poor state but often travels around the country to help challengers.

It was unclear how the DCCC would use the numbers it plans to amass, but one Democratic aide suggested that the totals could be pivotal in making decisions about committee assignments and that leaders would seek to reward members with high scores.

"It's something members should be thinking about in terms of wanting to get on committees," the aide said.

Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) welcomed a focus on member activity.

"Engagement certainly should be rewarded. It should be rewarded," Davis said. "It would be tragic if we lost by a few seats and there had been 10 or 15 Democrats who sat on the sidelines and simply couldn't be bothered. It has to be made clear to members that we're going to need all hands on deck."

Pelosi has made it clear to members that their loyalty to the caucus will be a key factor in making committee-assignment decisions. Last fall she threatened to remove Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) from the Energy and Commerce Committee after he missed several key budget votes.  

Fascinating.  While it's clear that loyalty and effectiveness should be rewarded, it's not clear that fundraising prowess is the best marker for loyalty and effectiveness.  This is a strike aimed at the seniority system, which allows for a certain lack of accountability among senior legislators.  Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi, regardless of their ideological disagreements, certainly share a desire to have a stronger and more unified caucus, and both believe that centralized fundraising is the key to get there.  This is a page right out of the Clinton model, which seeks to control the streams of revenue so as to increase power, enforce discipline, and cut off wayward members.

It's going to be interesting to watch this centralizing force running smack up against the decentralizing pull of the internet.  I'm sure that at least at first they'll win most, we'll win a few, we'll work together on some, etc.  Now I don't really get Pelosi; she acts like a conservative insider and votes like a progressive.  The challenge for the netroots, which is ideologically oriented against this insider's version of politics, is to develop competitive revenue streams that can build up and support a parallel infrastructure.  I'm watching these two, to see how they are setting up their incentive models.

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Steny Hoyer's Hostile Takeover

bumped - Matt

Folks are rightly outraged today about House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer vigorously coming to the defense of President Bush. You know there's a huge problem with our political system when the number two Democrat in the House is throwing himself in front of the media to defend an extreme right-wing President.

But then, we shouldn't be surprised by Hoyer's behavior. As I document in my new book Hostile Takeover, Hoyer has long led the charge to emasculate the Democratic Party. Whether on economic policy, on the war, on trade policy or on just generally selling out to Big Money interests, Hoyer has self-servingly gone out of his way to undermine his party. Put another way - if you are looking for one of the root causes of the Democratic Party's problems, look no further than Steny Hoyer.

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CC of e-mail to Rep. Hoyer on his Criticsm of Colbert

After reading the "Breaking Blue" post by Chris Bowers on Steny Hoyer saying that Stephen Colbert had crossed the line Saturday Night at the Press Assoc. dinner I felt moved to shoot off the following e-mail to my Congressman.

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