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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

More on Herseth's Win 

Over at the Gadflyer, Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga (the Kos of DailyKos) has an article up explaining why Stephanie Herseth's win in the South Dakota House race is important news.

I think he overstates the case somewhat, but it makes for cheering reading.

Also, you may have noticed that this post and the previous two or three are somewhat half-assed and not terribly timely. Sorry. I'm on a deadline. Things should be back to normal tomorrow or even tonight.

UPDATE: At the Decembrist, there's a great post on how Democrats finally seem to be laying the groundwork for retaking the House, at least at the candidate-fielding level:
Years and years ago -- the last year of the Reagan presidency, if I recall correctly -- I published an opinion article in Roll Call that I thought was a pretty powerful attack on Newt Gingrich. Gingrich, then just beginning his rise to leadership, had complained of corruption among congressional Democrats and cited, if I remember correctly, six congressional Democrats as examples. I pointed out that the Republicans had failed to produce credible opponents for five of the six, and that until they gave voters in those districts an alternative, they had no business complaining.

I hope my guest op-ed didn't influence Gingrich, but the fact is that between then and 1994, he switched from whining to recruiting. GOPAC and other (tax-exempt, by the way) candidate-recruitment projects linked to Gingrich hit their stride at this time, training Republicans to run for offices from school board to the Senate on a common message and tested language. A lot of factors went into the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, but one of them was that, when the ideological tide shifted, Republicans were there. In just about every seat, a good candidate was available -- Republicans who had run before, or held an office that covered a large portion of the district already, had a known name in the district, or were gifted with natural political skills. The mediocre ones were at least well trained. Not only did several of the Democrats Gingrich had complained about earlier lose their seats, but many others did as well, in part fueled by the phony "House bank scandal," or the backlash against Clinton's tax and health plans.

Over the last few cycles, it has been Democrats who have failed to contest some key seats. But this year, that seems to be changing. Every popular left-of-center blog is framed by pillars of ads from candidates promising the best effort to defeat Tom DeLay or House GOP whip Roy Blunt or some other ugly cog in the machine. Most of them won't win; many of them don't have a chance. But if the incumbent is suddenly hit by a car (or, more likely, hits someone else!), or a scandal breaks, or the backlash against BushDeLayism is as massive as it could well be, they will be there. And, if nothing else, they will have laid the groundwork for a run in 2006.

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