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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chuck Todd: Dems Solid on Second-Tier Races

Posted by DavidNYC

I really wish the National Journal would provide permalinks to Chuck Todd's columns, but anyway:

What's making handicapping the House so difficult this cycle is that the Democrats have done a better job at recruiting tier-two targets (the surfers ready to ride a wave) than tier-one targets (the recruits who can navigate even the choppiest of waters). God, we love beating a good metaphor into the ground... but we digress.

We've been somewhat critical of the Democrats' efforts to enlist a bunch of top-tier targets. And to be fair, there is still time to find some big-time targets in states with late filing deadlines, like New York. But this year's Democratic tier-one target list for the House isn't as expansive as one might suspect judging from the GOP's anemic national numbers.

But it may not matter, as the national polls show. What we're impressed with in the House Democratic recruitment is the number of tier-two targets.

In our current list of the top 50 House races, we've had a hard time ranking slots 20 through 50 because of the relative success of the Democrats' tier-two recruiting.

From Ohio-15 and Arizona-05 to Pennsylvania-07 and Florida-08, the number of solid second-tier Democratic targets is growing.

And this tier-two area is exactly where the netroots is making - or at least, striving to make - a difference. Sure, we could jump on the Ron Klein bandwagon, but the marginal effect we can have on a race where the challenger's already raised $2 million is pretty limited. However, for a Sestak, a Massa, a Kilroy, and so forth, we can have a pretty good impact.

Of course, this is also why our "winning percentage" will always remain low. For our clueless detractors, that's somehow evidence of bad judgment or weakness. But smart people like Chuck Todd understand that expanding the playing field is also an important goal. Moreover, the netroots will never be responsible for recruiting and funding top-tier challengers. Supporting second-tier candidates plays to our strengths.

That said, I want to re-iterate something that Todd notes in his column. Almost all of these second-tier people will only win if there's a major wave this year. While some signs point to such a wave (eg, the national polls Todd mentions), others indicate the opposite (eg, Dem performance in CA-50). We may have done a good job recruiting on the second-tier, but don't get excited unless a wave really materializes.

Posted at 12:16 PM in 2006 Elections - House | Technorati

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I agree. In Texas we have a similar situation. We have a key defense (Chet Edwards) and one multi million dollar challenger (Lampson) and then looking through the FEC reports (which I'll have a post on later this week for all of Texas' Dems) you have people like Shane Sklar (against Ron Paul) John Courage (against Lamar Smith) and Will Pryor (against Sessions) that have all raised over $100k to date and are great candidates that fit the definition of that tier 2 status. It's where we can have an effect in the money game for one.

Posted by: Karl-T [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 03:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

AZ-05 and FL-08??? Those have flown completely beneath my radar screen even as second-tier races. What's the Dems angle in those races? And who are the candidates?

This is a great strategy though and led to an unexpected Democratic tidal wave last year in the Minnesota House of Representatives where 13 GOP-held seats swung to the Dems, including several nobody thought were seriously vulnerable. I was spoiled by that stunningly pleasant performance and always keep in the back of my mind the chances of picking off races like PA-07, NE-01, NY-19, and WI-08 that will solidify a Dem majority. On the other hand, I always make sure it's WAY in the back of the mind because I start making expectations, I'll jinx it.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 03:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Even though Wil Pryor is full of cash I dunno if he can pull it off against Sessions. Frost couldn't hold his own last time and that was a well financed campaign.

Now as for Courage and Sklar, I say both are grade A tier 2 seats with Courage trying very hard to become tier 1. If COurage wins it's because of his EXCELLENT ground work he's been running since Summer of last year.

Sklar's district meanwhile, is the most democratic seat in Texas held by a republican and Paul is no conservaitve. Sklar is great for the district, one fot he occasions where the man has the look, feel, and values of what he is supposed to represent (ditto for Lampson). However, Sklar needs to step it up, he's starting to fall into classic tier 2, tide only way he can win status. He needs to be more agressive. However, if Paul resigns someday soon, if Sklar gives it another shot (when an open seat) I fully expect him to to be able to pick it up.

Meanwhile, Lampson, my future congressman :-D , has been doing a lot of block walking lately. The ground crews are starting to come out now that the primary is over and there is no R out there. Nick is very effectively moving in to fill the void now that DeLay is leaving and there is no replacement yet.

On a sad note, from those FEC filings, I'm a little disapointed in David Harris. I was hoping TX-06 would be of this calibur but I guess not. Great candidate, just needs the funding.

Posted by: trowaman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 03:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark, I wrote about AZ-05 a month ago here. Harry Mitchell has actually received quite a bit of attention on the internets. It's a race that realistically wouldn't have been on anyone's radar until Mitchell dropped in, though.

But you've clearly been living under a rock for the past month. ;)

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 04:24 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

On the plus side, for Will Pryor:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (www.citizensforethics.org) today filed a complaint against Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) for official actions he may have taken on behalf of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, as well as possible bribes he may have accepted from a San Francisco defense technology company.

(From MyDD)

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 07:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

David, I've been keeping up with most things, but clearly the developments in AZ-05 flew beneath my radar. I vaguely remember your post about it last month, but I guess I never took the race seriously because it's suburban Phoenix. Thanks for the heads up though.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 11:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yeah, the CREW deal with Sessions is a nice bump for Pryor. He's getting good funding, but I think that is in part to be expected as in Dallas they are set to start winning countywide races this year, and they have to have a challenge to Sessions (Pryor is totally legit) to help do that. With Frost gone, that leaves a vacuum in what used to be basicly the coordinated campaign.

Sklar is doing well, and he's one of those Democrats with a neat background that probably fits the district really well. Courage of course we've already talked about (the new hot thing in University Democrats where he phoned in via Blackberry to thank the group for yesterday since his car broke down on I-35, it was sad and awesome at the same time).

David Harris has a good net outfit, but I couldn't even find his FEC report the other day! I hope there is one there (I imagine so) but need to fine it. Mary Beth Harrell has been having a rough time, looking for a new campaign manager, and from there on out, it's really bottom of the barrel.

Posted by: Karl-T [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 20, 2006 03:11 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment