News from the Votemaster
Despite the hotly contested primaries in North Carolina and Indiana Tuesday, the big political news today is not about the presidential race but about Congress. In LA-06, centered around Baton Rouge, state representative Don Cazayoux (D) defeated former state representative and local newspaper publisher Woody Jenkins (R) in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Richard Baker (R), who resigned from the House to become a lobbyist. Cazayou got 49% of the vote to Jenkins' 46% in a race with major national implications. LA-06 is a heavily Republican district with a PVI of R+7 that has been in Republican hands for 33 years. President Bush got 59% of the vote here in 2004.
Both the DCCC and NRCC advertised heavily here. The NRCC referred to Don Cazayoux (a Cajun name) as "Don Tax You" and claimed he is a "liberal," which is a big insult in rural Lousiana. They also tried to tie him to boogeyman Barack Obama and boogeywoman Nancy Pelosi. The whole nine yards. At this point, the Republicans assume Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee and LA-06 was a field test of their November strategy to paint him as a big-government, high-tax, arugula-eating, orange-juice-drinking, Ivy League, out-of-touch liberal. Only it didn't work, even in a very conservative area. The next field test is scheduled for May 13, when Travis Childers (D) dukes it out with Greg Davis (R) in a runoff for Sen. Roger Wicker's old seat in MS-01.
By tomorrow every Republican in the House is going to be thinking "There but for the grace of God go I." If a well-known strongly conservative GOP candidate with 28 years experience in the state legislature can't win an open seat in a heavily Republican district that the GOP has held since 1975, what is going to happen in the many open seats and marginal Republican districts in November? To make matters worse for the GOP, the DCCC has $44 million in the bank (of which it spent $1.2 million on this race) to the NRCC's $6 million (of which they spent $500,000 in LA-06).
For the record, state senator Steve Scalise (R) defeated psychology professor Gilda Reed (D) yesterday in an (R+18) race in LA-01 that was barely contested. Reed's Ph.D. thesis was about the effects of drugs on rats; although appropriate for Congress, it wasn't enough.
Below is a list of House seats where the winner of the 2006 election will not be running in November. With the results of LA-06 now in (and the victory of scientist Bill Foster (D) in IL-14, another heavily Republican district, in March), DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is going to be showering money on all 19 Republican-held districts with a PVI less than R+10 in the hopes of picking them off. The only open seats the Democrats have to worry about are OR-05 (Darlene Hooley) and AL-05 (Bud Cramer). And, of course, Foster and Cazayoux have to run again in November, probably against the guys they already beat.
In response to the Obama endorsements this week by former DNC chairmen Joe Andrew and Paul Kirk, Hillary Clinton released the names of seven former DNC chairs who support her. DNC chairs are very partisan and want what is best for the party, so this list may give Clinton some extra help with the primaries this week.
Speaking of primaries (and caucuses), in what has to be the closest race this cycle, Barack Obama won the Guam caucuses (really a primary) yesterday by a margin of seven votes, 2264 to 2257. Each candidate will get four pledged half-delegates. While neither candidate visited Guam (a tropical paradise in the Pacific Ocean), Guamos (?) got a lot more attention than usual, as the candidates ran ads on Guam and made repeated conference calls to the island. Like Puerto Ricans, permanent residents of Guam are American citizens but cannot vote in federal elections (but can vote in party primaries, if the party so chooses).
Three new primary polls today. Zogby has Indiana a statistical tie, but pretty much all the other pollsters put Clinton 5-10% ahead there.
In eccentric New Hampshire, John McCain leads both Democrats. His image of a maverick definitely helps him there.
Here are the delegate totals from seven news source. Not all of them have included the Guam results yet.
Needed to win: 2025
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster