Monday, October 23, 2006

Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their party

Lizzy, guiding spirit and guardian angel of Night Bird's Fountain, has been working her heart out for John Hall, the Democratic challenger for the House of Representatives in New York's 19th District.

Hall's running against longtime Republican incumbent, Sue Kelly, and the campaign's been going very well, getting big boosts over the weekend from endorsements by the New York Times and the big local daily, The Times Herald-Record.

Sue Kelly's been doing her bit to help Hall out too. She seems to be choking under the pressure of having to fight off a serious challenge for her seat. As Tom Watson reports, she's running scared:

What happened today is priceless - watch the video below and see a Republican Member of Congress literally run away - flee in fear - from the cameras of the local public service television show, and the classic "empty chair" scenario unfold at the local League of Women Voters. I suspect Sue Kelly is running from more than the TV camera - she's running away from George W. Bush, from the war, from the Congressional scandals, from incompetent leadership, from the lies. You want local Republican fear in 2006, a sense of what's happening on the ground? Watch Sue Kelly run.

John Hall deserves to win even more than Kelly deserves to lose, but she does deserve to lose. She has never represented her district in Congress with as much energy as she has represented first Newt Gingrich and then Tom DeLay and George Bush.

From the Times Herald-Record's editorial endorsing Hall:

Kelly came into Congress a dozen years ago with the Newt Gingrich-led GOP sweep and its famous "Contract With America" that promised reform of how the House of Representatives was run by Democrats. For her part, Kelly reserved the right to pick and choose on the contract, but pledged to work for "a smaller, smarter government which is more accountable to the American people." The GOP-led federal government may be many things, but smaller, smarter and more accountable are not among them. Kelly's sin is not necessarily that her vision has not been realized, but that she almost unfailingly defends what has been delivered instead...

Sad to say, Kelly sounds like too many other Republican candidates this year, trying to defend the indefensible.

What's been delivered is a culture of corruption and a failed war in Iraq and the indefensible is a President who won't admit his mistakes and set out to fix them and a Republican-controlled Congress who lets him get away with everything.

Lizzy has some more good news for Hall. A poll by Majority Watch shows him leading Kelly by 9 points, 49-40.

The poll was taken before Kelly ran from the cameras.

But there was something very interesting to me in Majority Watch's poll of another House race in New York. Up in my old stomping grounds, NY-25, Democratic challenger Dan Maffei is leading the up till now seemingly Congressman for life Jim Walsh, 51-43!

Kelly came to Washington as part of the Contract for America crowd. However moderate she thought she was herself, she was part of Newt's mob of radicals from the get-go. But Walsh was there long before that and he really was a moderate. In fact, I voted for him in the first three of his re-election bids after we moved to Syracuse.

Then in 1998 he voted to impeach Bill Clinton.

Newt had him by the short ones from then out and he stopped representing his very blue district---it went big for Bill, big for Hill, big for Gore and Kerry---and became another lackey for the radical Republican Right. He should have been fired in 2000, but the Democrats up there have had trouble finding a serious challenger and, a lot of voters have had trouble getting their heads around the idea that this was not their father's Republican Party any more.

Times have changed, apparently.

They've changed in NY-20 too. Republican incumbent John Sweeney trails his Democratic challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand, 41-54. That's a district just north of where I grew up and all my life, except for the first few years after Watergate, it's been represented by a Republican.

And in NY-24, a seat that's falling vacant due to the retirement of long-standing Republican incumbent Sherwood Boehlert, Democrat Michael Arcuri leads Republican Raymond Meier 52-43.

Then there's NY-26. Republican incumbent Jim Reynolds is 17 points behind his Democratic challenger, Jack Davis, 39-56.

There's two weeks to go and things can change, of course, but things look good for the Democrats here in New York.

But think about this. The Democrats need to pick up 15 seats to take control of the House of Representatives and they may get five of those in one state.

I don't know if this means that the Democrats are going to take it all, although it seems that having to find those other 10 seats among the other 49 states makes the odds good in their favor. But what's happening here makes me surer of something I've been predicting for a while.

The Blue States are about to get a lot bluer.

The Southwestern States and some of the Western ones have been trending blue too.

What I see happening is that the Red is going to get more and more confined to one region of the country, the South.

I don't like the idea of the country being divided along lines that divided in 150 years ago, but there's nothing for it.

There's been some mushmouthed punditry advising the Democrats that, if they do win, they should let bygones be bygones and come into town willing to work with the Republicans who, as we all know, have been so willing to work their Democratic colleagues that they have literally locked them out of meetings to craft legislation.

Digby and Tom have said all that needs to be said on this idea.

But any pundit who wants to tell the Democrats how to continue to surrender even when they hold the majority needs to look at what's happening in New York.

Not that they have been all that moderate since the Right took over the Republican Congress* but several temperamentally moderate legislators are about to leave town, one voluntarily, the others with their tickets punched by their constituents.

After November, Republicans in Congress won't have to fear Karl Rove anymore, and I think it's dawned on just about everybody except for Joe Lieberman and a few pundits like David Broder that George Bush is not only not popular, he is closing in on being universally despised. Among the third of the country that still say they approve of the job he's doing there are probably an awful lot of people saying it just because they feel stuck with him.

Without having to worry about Rove's muscle or Bush's standing with their constituents---he has none--- Republican moderates in Congress ought to feel freer to reach across the aisle.

Except that they won't be there to do it.

Unless the Democratic win is of historical proportions, the Republicans left in Washington are going to be looking at 2008, or 2010 anyway, as the year they'll get their own back. They won't be in any mood to roll over and play dead, nor would there be any reason for them to be.

And if the trend we're seeing here in New York is the trend, then the Democrats are going to win by defeating the Republicans they would have had a chance to work with.

The Republicans who'll still hold their seats will be the true believers and the die-hards.

Since Newt the Republicans in Washington have had a code: Don't compromise, don't play "fair," treat anyone who didn't vote for you as if they don't exist, deny or ignore the legitimacy of any Democratic victory, never admit defeat.

Again, nothing to be done. The moderates have to go.

The Right Wingers have to be isolated.

But any pundits who advise the Democrats to go slow, show mercy, offer compromise, and any Democratic legislators who feels like taking that advice need to ask themselves a question.

Just who do you think there's going to be around to compromise with?

* Some moderates. The Drum Major Institute gives Sue Kelly a score of 13 per cent on votes on legislation helping the Middle Class, same score as Sherwood Boehlert. Jim Walsh has a score of ZERO!

My Congressman, one of the last of the great liberal Democrats, Maurice Hinchey, has a score of 100 per cent.


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