Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MI-06 Could be a Key Democratic Pick-Up....But the DCCC is Sitting Out

Last Tuesday, National Journal had an article on the congressional race in MI-06: "Is Michigan's Most Powerful Republican Really in Political Danger?"

The piece offers reason to believe that he very well might be:
Upton, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is facing the most credible Democratic opponent of his career, and a late infusion of outside money has energized Democrats on the ground. Still, there's been little polling or non-anecdotal indicators to prove the race is winnable. But even if Upton prevails this year, his opponents hope to at least put him in the conversation of future Democratic targets—and lay the groundwork for a better-financed 2016 campaign in a presidential year that offers a strong climate for Democrats.
And if, as some have speculated, Upton calls it quits in 2016 when term limits end his Energy and Commerce tenure, Democratic efforts this cycle could leave them well-positioned to contest what stands to be a wide-open race.
Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements is the 13th Democrat to test Upton's electoral mettle, and, his backers say, the best. A newcomer to federal politics, he has more than doubled the fundraising of any previous Upton challenger. Veterans of previous Democratic campaigns in the district call Clements's operation the first "professional" challenge they've seen.
Clements's prowess has garnered interest both inside the district and out, but anyone who wasn't paying attention before certainly raised their eyebrows this month when an outside super PAC announced plans to pump nearly $2 million into efforts to oust Upton. The group, Mayday PAC, aims to target politicians beholden to moneyed interests. On Oct. 9, it named Upton among its handful of targets for the 2014 cycle.
The late swarm of money has excited local Democrats—who say the race was competitive even before the cash infusion—and left consultants wondering whether a district long excluded from any toss-up rankings could really oust its powerful incumbent without much warning.
MI-06 is a district that should be a swing district in Congress. Obama lost by a narrow margin (48.9% - 50.2%) in 2012 and won the district, albeit with slightly different lines, in 2008 (53.1% - 45.2%). It has a Partisan Voting Index of R+1. And its representative is a guy whom the LA Times described as the biggest enemy of the Earth in Congress. And it has a good candidate in Paul Clements
However, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has ignored the seat entirely.
According to FEC filings, Paul Clements has received all of $0 from the DCCC. Mike O'Brien, who challenged Upton in 2012, also received nada from the DCCC.

According to Howie Klein (of Blue America and the blog Down With Tyranny), Steve Israel, DCCC co-chair, has actually done worse than nothing: he has actually been turning away potential donors from the race. Howie noted earlier today that Israel told the League of Conservation Voters to not spend money in the race.

Thankfully, groups like Climate Hawks Vote, the aforementioned Blue America, and Mayday PAC have been involved. Climate Hawks Vote, for instance, has been on the ground since Labor Day and is the only environmental group involved in the race. (The LCV, which should be far more interested than it is in taking out Upton, donated to Clements once in June and--from what I can tell--never since.)

This ignorance of potentially competitive seats by the DCCC, however, is unfortunately routine for the DCCC.


Wisconsin's 1st district is home to Paul Ryan. However, it's not as deep red as a district as you would expect. Obama lost the seat in 2012 by only 4.2 points (47.4% to 51.6%). However, Obama won the district in 2008 by 2.7 points (50.8% to 48.1%).

A purple district with a Republican representative who is basically synonymous with granny starving in Democratic messaging--sounds like a great target?

You'd think. But Democrats, for all of their attacks on the "Ryan budget," they don't attack Ryan.

In 2012, Rob Zerban decided to take on Paul Ryan. The DCCC gave him a whopping $10 (an "in-kind" contribution for "email services when he began his campaign).

Zerban is aiming for a re-match this year. The DCCC again is ignoring the race. They have contributed nothing.


Florida's 27th district, home to Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has a PVI of R+2. Obama won the district 53.1% to 46.4% back in 2012.

However, the DCCC didn't contest the seat. There was a name on the ballot: Manny Yevancey, who was little more than a placeholder. Yevancey never filed with the FEC, meaning he raised less than $5,000. This year, Ros-Lehtinen is running unopposed.


We see the DCCC's incompetence as well in Pennsylvania's 7th district, home to Republican Pat Meehan. The district is not as friendly to Democrats as it once was because of Republican gerrymandering, but it is still an R+2 district. Obama lost 48.5% to 50.4% in 2012 although he won it (when it was more compact) in 2008 51.2% to 47.8%.

However, the DCCC just isn't interested in winning this suburban Philadelphia district. The only money George Badey, the 2012 candidate, received from the DCCC was $50 in in-kind contributions. Mary Ellen Balchunis, who is running this year, has received $0 from the DCCC.

Long Island Incumbent Protection Racket

The best example of the corruption at the DCCC has to be what I like to call the "Long Island Incumbent Protection Racket."

Steve Israel (NY-03) and Pete King (NY-02) are in adjacent districts. And both districts are purple. In 2012, Obama won NY-02 by 4.4 points (51.6% - 47.2%) and NY-03 by 2.6 points (50.8% to 48.2%). NY-02 has an R+1 partisan rating, and NY-03 has an even rating.

Given that, you would think that these would be the sites of some of the most hotly contested races. You would be wrong.

As far as I can tell, the DCCC and the NRCC have decided to cut their losses and each keep one seat. They do not fund challengers in the other.

Vivianne Falcone, who ran against Pete King in 2012, received $0 from the DCCC.

Pat Maher, who is running this year, has never filed.

Stephen Labate, who ran against Steve Israel in 2012 and 2014, has gotten $0 from the NRCC.


Steve Israel was in charge of the DCCC in 2012. He had one job: win back the House. He failed. Why does he deserve to keep his job?

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