| When you're the Republican nominee in a district that Bush carried by 22 points in 2004, and you're squaring off in a special election against a candidate whose only prior political experience was losing the seat twice by wide margins, it seems that you don't make a lot of friends when the debt-addled NRCC is forced to bail out your sagging campaign with $428,000 in independent expenditures.
Roll Call has the dirt:
Although the candidates and party committees weren't releasing any polling late last week, both sides agreed the race could be fairly close - and many Republicans were flabbergasted.
"The [GOP] Members are running around saying, 'What just happened?'" said a Washington Republican with knowledge of the district. "To put it bluntly, they're pissed off. People are angry that Bob Latta hasn't devoted himself better on the campaign trial to connect with northwest Ohio voters and given an opportunity to an opponent who was so far off the radar and actually made it a race." [...]
"It's like the Latta campaign is trying to write a handbook on how to lose a Congressional campaign in 60 days or less," said the Republican. "When Bob Latta lost the first Congressional race back in 1988 to then-Ohio Senate President Paul Gillmor, he was a young kid with no electoral experience. He came close and people always expected he would be back. But if Bob Latta loses this race to Robin Weirauch, a candidate who Gillmor defeated twice with barely a sweat, it will be an enormous embarrassment to Latta personally."
Now, I don't deny that Republicans could be angry with Bob Latta. GOP strategists have every reason to be blowing a fuse over the NRCC's hefty expenditures in an R+10 district. At the same time, though, this kind of grumbling could be equally driven by a desire to game expectations so that a win by Latta will be seen as a greater feat for Republicans.
In reality, despite a bruising primary followed by a weak campaign by Latta, the deck is still stacked against Robin Weirauch here. For one thing, there are only six districts in the nation that are more Republican leaning than OH-05 and are held by Democrats: MO-04 (Ike Skelton), ND-AL (Earl Pomeroy), TX-22 (Nick Lampson), MS-04 (Gene Taylor), UT-02 (Jim Matheson), and TX-17 (Chet Edwards). These are all seats held by very exceptional and very experienced campaigners.
The other factor is money; while Weirauch has benefited from a tidy sum of DCCC expenditures ($243,748.14, to be exact), the NRCC has spent more. Additionally, Latta's coffers have been flooded with big dollar donations in recent days, including over $150,000 on Friday and Saturday, and that's coming off some other similarly large fundraising reports from Latta in recent weeks. From a quick glance at Robin Weirauch's FEC filings, she has collected over $200,000 in large dollar donations since the primary. A very strong showing for a Democrat here, but one that has been outpaced by Latta.
Make no mistake, for Weirauch to even come close on Tuesday would be beating the odds here. But the chance of an upset, even if it's a long shot, is still reason enough for the GOP to be grumbling over Bob Latta.