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White House document lists Republican top targets for 2008

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0307/3373.html White House Political Document Targets Electoral Pickup Opportunities, Vulnerabilities By: David Mark and
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2007

      White House Political Document Targets Electoral
      Pickup Opportunities, Vulnerabilities

      By: David Mark and Josh Kraushaar
      March 30, 2007 05:51 PM EST

      A January White House political office presentation to
      civil service employees offers some insight into how
      key House races were won and lost in 2006 and lists
      Republican top targets for 2008.

      The White House Office of Political Affairs document
      is at the center of a House Government Reform and
      Oversight Committee investigation into whether the
      Bush administration improperly used the General
      Services Administration for partisan purposes. The
      presentation was made to GSA staffers on Jan. 26. by
      J. Scott Jennings, a deputy to White House political
      adviser Karl Rove.

      In a letter to Rove Wednesday, Committee Chairman
      Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) asked whether the
      presentation was a violation of the Hatch Act, which
      prohibits political activity by federal employees on
      government time.

      The White House had no immediate comment Friday.

      According to Jennings’ document, posted on the
      committee’s Web site, the key to Republican campaigns
      in 2006 was the party’s 72-hour program – its effort
      to maximize GOP turnout on Election Day. Republican
      strategists have cited the program as integral to
      their success in past elections. But in 2006, its
      impact was blunted by a barrage of bad news for
      Republicans – the war in Iraq, the Mark Foley page
      scandal and other ethical controversies.

      The Republicans who didn’t have the full support of
      the program performed much worse than the pre-election
      polling data available to the National Republican
      Congressional Committee – and such support often meant
      the difference between winning and losing. The
      PowerPoint document listed five campaigns that
      dramatically underperformed based on NRCC polls.

      One Republican operative said those incumbents
      performed poorly because they got a late start
      campaigning and underestimated their opponents. And
      the RNC wasn’t able to deploy as many volunteers to
      the races that became competitive late in the game.

      “It appears that those members who were most ready for
      a tough election at the beginning stages of the 2006
      cycle performed best in the end,” the operative said.
      “Those who were not prepared paid the price because,
      by the time they realized they had a race on their
      hands, it was too late.”

      One such candidate was Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.).
      Final NRCC pre-election polling showed her leading
      Democratic challenger John Yarmuth by 13 percentage
      points in her Louisville-based district, but she ended
      up losing by 2 points.

      Another member who ultimately lost, Rep. Jim Leach
      (R-Iowa), was polling 5 points ahead of Democratic
      opponent Dave Loebsack, a little-known,
      lesser-financed college professor. But Leach’s refusal
      to allow the NRCC to pour funds in his district
      allowed Loebsack to score one of the bigger upsets
      Election Night.

      Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) had led Democrat Larry
      Kissell by 16 points but won only by 329 votes, the
      second-closest race in the country.

      At the same time, candidates who had prepared well for
      tough challenges were able to take full advantage of
      the 72-hour program. Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) was
      running neck-and-neck against Democrat Ken Lucas, a
      former congressman attempting a comeback, but won by 7
      points. Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.) trailed Iraq
      war veteran Tammy Duckworth by 2 points, but ended up
      winning by the same margin.

      Looking ahead to 2008, the White House document lists
      20 top Democratic targets. Most of the names were
      freshmen who won in Republican-leaning districts, like
      Reps. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) and Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.).
      Left off the list were freshman Reps. Harry E.
      Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords, both Arizona
      Democrats who represent districts President Bush
      carried in 2004.

      Two freshman Democrats who ran contested races in
      Iowa, Rep. Bruce Braley and Loebsack, were also

      The most surprising inclusion was Rep. Stephanie
      Herseth (D-S.D.), who coasted to victory in a solidly
      Republican state and hasn’t drawn any serious
      challengers at this early stage.

      Those GOP seats the White House saw in need of special
      defense included two California congressmen enmeshed
      in ethical controversy.

      Rep. John Doolittle, whose district takes in the
      northern Sacramento suburbs, won with only 49 percent
      of the vote in 2006. Democrats have alleged improper
      ties between Doolittle and convicted lobbyist Jack
      Abramoff, among other complaints.

      Rep. Gary G. Miller, who ran unopposed in his Southern
      California district in 2006, was also cited by the
      White House as vulnerable. The Democratic
      Congressional Campaign Committee has just launched a
      Web ad raising questions about a local land deal.

      “Rove’s ’08 playbook confirms Republican concerns and
      fears about many of these incumbents we have been
      mentioning for the last few months,” said DCCC
      spokesman Doug Thornell.

      Former NRCC chairman Thomas Reynolds of New York was
      not included on the list, though he barely edged out
      Democratic businessman Jack Davis.

      Also included in the White House presentation was a
      list of vulnerable Republicans who the White House
      thought may not seek reelection. And the names suggest
      a disparity between the White House expectations and
      the actual intentions of current members.

      Some have been subject to recent retirement rumors,
      including Republican Reps. C.W. Bill Young of
      Florida, first elected in 1970, and Ralph Regula of
      Ohio, who was elected in 1972.

      Also on the retirement watch was Rep. Dennis Hastert
      (R-Ill.), the former House speaker who surprised many
      observers by choosing to stay in Congress as a
      rank-and-file member of the minority party.

      But others listed as potential retirements, such as
      Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and Don Young
      (R-Alaska), have given every indication they plan on
      seeking reelection.

      Knollenberg, along with other vulnerable members, gave
      a presentation to Republican lobbyists Thursday where
      he outlined his campaign intentions and plans to raise
      $3 million to $4 million dollars.
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