Topics
Administration
Congress
Democrats
Elections
Ethics
Governor -- Alabama
Governor -- Alaska
Governor -- Arizona
Governor -- California
Governor -- Colorado
Governor -- Connecticut
Governor -- Delaware
Governor -- Florida
Governor -- Georgia
Governor -- Hawaii
Governor -- Illinois
Governor -- Indiana
Governor -- Iowa
Governor -- Kentucky
Governor -- Louisiana
Governor -- Maryland
Governor -- Massachusetts
Governor -- Michigan
Governor -- Minnesota
Governor -- Missouri
Governor -- Montana
Governor -- Nevada
Governor -- New Hampshire
Governor -- New Jersey
Governor -- New Mexico
Governor -- New York
Governor -- North Carolina
Governor -- North Dakota
Governor -- Ohio
Governor -- Oregon
Governor -- Pennsylvania
Governor -- Rhode Island
Governor -- South Carolina
Governor -- Texas
Governor -- Utah
Governor -- Vermont
Governor -- Virginia
Governor -- Washington
Governor -- Wyoming
Governors
Health Care
House
House -- Alabama -- 02
House -- Alabama -- 03
House -- Alabama -- 05
House -- Alaska
House -- Arizona -- 01
House -- Arizona -- 03
House -- Arizona -- 05
House -- Arizona -- 08
House -- Arkansas -- 01
House -- Arkansas -- 02
House -- California -- 04
House -- California -- 12
House -- California -- 26
House -- California -- 32
House -- California -- 50
House -- Colorado -- 02
House -- Colorado -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 04
House -- Connecticut -- 05
House -- Florida -- 06
House -- Florida -- 08
House -- Florida -- 13
House -- Florida -- 15
House -- Florida -- 16
House -- Florida -- 18
House -- Florida -- 19
House -- Florida -- 21
House -- Florida -- 24
House -- Florida -- 25
House -- Georgia -- 05
House -- Georgia -- 10
House -- Georgia -- 12
House -- Idaho -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 01
House -- Illinois -- 03
House -- Illinois -- 05
House -- Illinois -- 06
House -- Illinois -- 10
House -- Illinois -- 11
House -- Illinois -- 14
House -- Illinois -- 18
House -- Indiana -- 03
House -- Indiana -- 07
House -- Indiana -- 09
House -- Iowa -- 03
House -- Iowa -- 04
House -- Kansas -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 02
House -- Kentucky -- 03
House -- Louisiana -- 01
House -- Louisiana -- 02
House -- Louisiana -- 04
House -- Louisiana -- 06
House -- Maine -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 01
House -- Maryland -- 04
House -- Massachusetts -- 05
House -- Michigan -- 01
House -- Michigan -- 07
House -- Michigan -- 09
House -- Michigan -- 13
House -- Minnesota -- 01
House -- Minnesota -- 03
House -- Minnesota -- 06
House -- Mississippi -- 01
House -- Mississippi -- 03
House -- Missouri -- 09
House -- Nevada -- 02
House -- Nevada -- 03
House -- New Hampshire -- 01
House -- New Hampshire -- 02
House -- New Jersey -- 03
House -- New Jersey -- 05
House -- New Jersey -- 07
House -- New Mexico -- 01
House -- New Mexico -- 02
House -- New York -- 13
House -- New York -- 15
House -- New York -- 20
House -- New York -- 21
House -- New York -- 23
House -- New York -- 24
House -- New York -- 25
House -- New York -- 26
House -- New York -- 29
House -- North Carolina -- 03
House -- North Carolina -- 08
House -- North Carolina -- 10
House -- North Dakota
House -- Ohio -- 01
House -- Ohio -- 02
House -- Ohio -- 05
House -- Ohio -- 07
House -- Ohio -- 10
House -- Ohio -- 15
House -- Ohio -- 16
House -- Oklahoma -- 05
House -- Oregon -- 05
House -- Pennsylvania -- 03
House -- Pennsylvania -- 04
House -- Pennsylvania -- 06
House -- Pennsylvania -- 10
House -- Pennsylvania -- 11
House -- Pennsylvania -- 12
House -- Pennsylvania -- 15
House -- South Carolina -- 01
House -- South Carolina -- 02
House -- South Carolina -- 05
House -- South Dakota
House -- Tennessee -- 07
House -- Tennessee -- 08
House -- Tennessee -- 09
House -- Texas -- 07
House -- Texas -- 10
House -- Texas -- 14
House -- Texas -- 22
House -- Utah -- 03
House -- Virginia -- 01
House -- Virginia -- 05
House -- Virginia -- 09
House -- Virginia -- 11
House -- Washington -- 08
House -- West Virginia -- 02
House -- Wisconsin -- 08
House -- Wyoming
Inauguration 2009
International
Issues
Judiciary
Local Elections
Media
Miscellaneous
Morning Thoughts
Politics Weekly
Polls
Rankings
Republicans
Senate
Senate -- Alaska
Senate -- Arizona
Senate -- Arkansas
Senate -- California
Senate -- Colorado
Senate -- Connecticut
Senate -- Delaware
Senate -- Florida
Senate -- Georgia
Senate -- Idaho
Senate -- Illinois
Senate -- Indiana
Senate -- Iowa
Senate -- Kansas
Senate -- Kentucky
Senate -- Louisiana
Senate -- Maine
Senate -- Massachusetts
Senate -- Minnesota
Senate -- Mississippi
Senate -- Missouri
Senate -- Montana
Senate -- Nebraska
Senate -- Nevada
Senate -- New Hampshire
Senate -- New Jersey
Senate -- New Mexico
Senate -- New York
Senate -- North Carolina
Senate -- North Dakota
Senate -- Ohio
Senate -- Oklahoma
Senate -- Oregon
Senate -- Pennsylvania
Senate -- South Carolina
Senate -- South Dakota
Senate -- Tennessee
Senate -- Texas
Senate -- Utah
Senate -- Virginia
Senate -- Wisconsin
Senate -- Wyoming
Sports
Supreme Court
WH 08
WH 08 -- Democrats
WH 08 -- Republicans
WH 12
WH 12 -- Republicans
White House

 

« How Far Does Change Extend? | Blog Home Page | Today On POTUS '08 »

House GOP Targets Obama

In the first two advertisements of their kind, Republicans seeking an advantage in a Mississippi special election are invoking Barack Obama in arguing that a Democratic Congressional candidate is too liberal for his district. That flies in the face of what has been conventional wisdom for months among national Democratic strategists who have not publicly taken sides in the presidential contest; many privately express more hope in Obama's potential coattails than in rival Hillary Clinton's.

But while Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have made appearances in Republican advertisements before, the GOP is now taking on Obama, reflecting both a growing consensus that the Illinois Senator is the most likely candidate to emerge from the ongoing primary fight and that Republicans believe he, like Clinton, can be transformed into a lightening rod used to tarnish downballot Democrats.

The advertisements target Travis Childers, the Prentiss County Chancery Clerk who led his Republican opponent, Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, in last week's special primary election to replace Senator Roger Wicker in a northern Mississippi House seat. Both Davis and the National Republican Congressional Committee released the spots less than a week after Childers came within about 400 votes of avoiding a runoff by scoring above the 50% mark. And beyond Mississippi, NRCC chairman Tom Cole, meeting with reporters today, suggested that ties to Obama could hurt downballot Democrats nationally.

"When Obama's pastor cursed America, blaming us for 9/11, Childers said nothing," Davis' spot begins. "When Obama ridiculed rural folks for clinging to guns and religion, Childers said nothing."

While bringing up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright may be dangerous for some Republicans, the NRCC's commercial sounds a theme that will prove a more universally-sounded concept. "Travis Childers claims he's a conservative. But Travis Childers contributed money to John Kerry, and is endorsed by Barack Obama, who has the most liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate."

That refrain, from National Journal's annual vote ranking, will be Obama's constant, and unwelcome, companion on the campaign trail. An NRCC poll showed John McCain beating Obama by about 35 points in Mississippi's First Congressional District, Cole said, and next to Pelosi, Republicans are beginning to use Obama's name as the latest image of the liberal boogeyman. And for all Obama's talk of putting more states in play, Cole doesn't believe that is necessarily the case. "Does anybody really believe Barack Obama is going to carry [Mississippi's First District]," he asked.

Saying the country remains a center-right political climate, Cole said he welcomed the debate with Obama. "The special elections are the first effort on our side to inject that intellectual dichotomy."

In both Mississippi and neighboring Louisiana, where Republican candidates in heavily red districts find themselves in tenuous positions, Cole said turning the election into a contest with national implications, much as Democrats did in 2006, can benefit his party. "Our candidates now are trying to turn those [elections] into a referendum on Pelosi, on Obama," he said. "As these elections become nationalized, I think we do better."

National Democrats criticized the ads as Hail Marys from a candidate and a party worried about losing the seat. "These are the sort of 11th hour attacks you expect from a desperate politician and National Republicans trying to distract voters from Greg Davis' horrible record of broken promises, raising property taxes 4 times and doubling spending," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Doug Thornell told Politics Nation. "The mere fact that national Republicans are being forced to spend a large chunk of their [cash on hand] to protect a ruby red district George Bush carried with over sixty percent shows how out of touch the GOP is with the American people."

Bush won the First District by twenty-five points in 2004 and by nineteen points in 2000, and Wicker, first elected in 1994, never faced a difficult re-election bid. In the Louisiana seat, Bush won by equally large margins in both his elections.

The Obama campaign declined to comment for this article, while the Clinton campaign did not return emails seeking their opinion.

Regardless of the outcomes of the two special elections, it remains remarkable that either is competitive. Both parties are spending heavily on the two seats. Through Saturday, Democrats had spent $384,000 in Mississippi and $712,000 in Louisiana, where State Rep. Don Cazayoux is vying with Republican Woody Jenkins to replace retired Rep. Richard Baker. Republicans have spent $570,000 helping Davis in Mississippi and $312,000 backing Jenkins in Louisiana. Several independent groups, including the Club for Growth and Freedom's Watch, are also spending money on behalf of GOP candidates in the districts.

At the moment, it appears that both Democratic candidates are the favorites. Childers won more votes in last Tuesday's election than Davis, and combined with the few hundred votes his Democratic opponent received -- the Democrat and Republican who placed second in the primary for the full term both tried, unsuccessfully, to have their names removed from the ballot -- Democrats received more than 50% of the ballots cast. In Louisiana, recent polls have shown Cazayoux leading Jenkins by as many as seven points, while no poll made public recently has shown Jenkins ahead. The runoff elections will be held on May 3, in Louisiana, and May 13, in Mississippi.

To turn that tide, Cole told reporters today he can use Obama to effectively nationalize both special elections. "Both Democrats were leading at the point where we began to talk about national issues," he said today. After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent trying to tie the two Democrats to the candidate who will likely be their party's standard-bearer in November, the special elections could even serve as an important turning point in the Democratic presidential contest: If both Democrats go down thanks to the association with Obama, Hillary Clinton might have another powerful argument to make to super delegates nervous about Obama's electability. If one or both Democrats win, national party strategists will not only point ecstatically to more potential signs of a Democratic wave, but will privately breathe a sign of relief that, unlike several previous nominees, Obama is not poisonous to down-ballot candidates quite yet.