What the DCCC?

The Hawaii special election seems pretty bizzare. We have a couple of Democrats in the running, and a Republican. Whomever wins a plurality gets the nod.

On the onehand, AFSCME is backing Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, so is EMILY's list, so are both Democratic Senators, Inouye and Akaka. On the otherhand, we have Ed Case, a former Representative that was a pretty conservative vote, considering he's represented Hawaii.No one is backing him, but the DCCC thinks he's more "electable" so they are:

In recent weeks, the DCCC reached out to Inouye and Akaka, both of whom have endorsed Hanabusa, to inform them the committee is considering lining up behind Case, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations. 

"We have to figure out how we convince them that it's not in our interest to take a loss," said a top Democratic official who is not involved in the DCCC’s efforts.

Practically speaking, though, the key to delivering a win for Case may have less to do with Akaka and Inouye than with the Hawaii's most powerful union— the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is also backing Hanabusa.

Case has burned too many bridges in HI to get the full backing of the party. His staying in the race is probably the only way that the Republican could win with a plurality. This would be the time that you'd think the DCCC comes in and tells Case he doesn't have a chance, but instead is working at tearing down Hanabusa:

...the DCCC is providing under-the-radar organizational support to former Rep. Ed Case against state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, including assistance from DCCC western regional political director Adam Sullivan.

Those efforts have coincided with the circulation of opposition research within Washington advancing the notion that Hanabusa is a longtime insider who received significant legislative pay raises at a time when the state has suffered through economic hard times—an emerging storyline that led Hanabusa to pull down her first campaign ad touting a vote to cut state legislative salaries and concede that the spot was misleading.

A pretty bone-headed ad, to be sure. So the DCCC did the oppo research on the Democrat and brought about a possible scenario in which Democrats lose the special election in Hawaii.

THings also don't look too rosey in Mutha's CD, where the more-electable Hafer was pushed dropped out of the primary:

The contest to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha is still taking shape but Democrats in Pennsylvania and Washington are expressing worries is that the party nominee, former Murtha district director Mark Critz, is uniquely vulnerable to being painted as a political insider at time when that is no asset.

“Locally, there’s a lot of anger, people know things aren’t right. And it taps into the general anxiety out there that things are on the wrong track,” Barbara Hafer, Critz’s one-time primary opponent and a former state treasurer, told POLITICO. “That could lead into a throw-the-bums out attitude.”

One Democratic operative following the race, noting that public polling shows Critz with a narrow lead over Republican businessman Tim Burns in a district with a significant Democratic voter registration advantage, was blunter in his assessment: “It’s easy to make an argument that he’s part of the problem. He was a Hill staffer, he asked for questionable earmarks. There’s a lot to beat him up on.”

It's looking like Democrats will be lucky to come out of this with a split.

Tags: HI, dccc (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Grammatical quibble

It should be, "Whoever wins a plurality gets the nod."

by DavidD 2010-04-06 09:31AM | 0 recs
RE: Grammatical quibble

Are you sure?  I've always heard it as whomever.  Please provide a link to the grammatical rules you are citing.

by yitbos96bb 2010-04-06 08:46PM | 0 recs
Except Case doesn't only have a chance...he's the favorite

In the last poll, he was well ahead of both Hanabusa and Djou. 

http://www.starbulletin.com/news/20100117_Case_takes_early_lead.html

by ND22 2010-04-06 09:50AM | 0 recs
early polls in special elections mean next to nothing

I'll reference you to the MA special election recenlty, and its early polls, of which I'm sure we could find you stating it was a done deal for-- if we looked.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-06 12:31PM | 0 recs
Ok, in what way has Case become like Coakley then

and how has Hanabusa rallied? If Case can't win, neither can Hanabusa. I don't see how you can see it any other way. Why would the guy in front "drop out?" How could you tell a person who was ahead by 12 points, and has shown no signs of faltering, that he can't win? Unless you think he has faltered somehow and Hanabusa has rallied, maybe neither can win? 

by ND22 2010-04-06 01:21PM | 0 recs
RE: Ok, in what way has Case become like Coakley then

Is it just a case of name recognition? Case evidently being a former rep.

I think the DCCC should follow the local party's lead. With Inouye and Akaka both backing the other contender unity is better in this case.

The silver lining is that even if the GOP does win by a 3-way split, ithe seat can be won back in Nov.

by vecky 2010-04-06 05:16PM | 0 recs
PA-12: Just not true.

(Granted, I haven't been here in quite some time.  Saw Jane's link, however.)

Hafer wasn't pushed out of the race by the DCCC.  She failed to gather enough valid petition signatures to be placed on the primary ballot.

Critz may well be a lousy candidate, but it's Hafer's own fault that she won't be able to challenge him.

by Adam B 2010-04-06 10:05AM | 0 recs
RE: PA-12: Just not true.

Agreed.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-06 12:30PM | 0 recs
Thanks to ND22 and Adam B, because...

...the notions Jerome has on these races are questionable at best.

Yes we're very vulnerable in both these races, and I do think the public information available on Hawaii suggests the DCCC might be making a mistake by playing here.  But they have more information than we have, and if that information includes consistent polling data over time that Case polls far better than Hanabusa, then I can understand the logic.  The DCCC has been very smart the past couple cycles, we have to credit them for quite a few wins where a favorable political environment alone would not have gotten us over the hump.  The DCCC got us Bill Owens last year, Ciro Rodriguez in the runoff over Henry Bonilla in December 2006, and quite a few others.

Again, I'm not blanket defending the DCCC here, it's possible they're making a mistake.  But as ND22 noted, teh one public poll showed Case with far more support than Hanabusa, and I'm guessing private polls are showing the same.

On Murtha's seat, the notion that Hafer was more electable is fanciful.  There was no clear choice for electability, and Hafer's advantages over Critz are offset by her own relative disadvantages.  For one thing it's a culturally conservative district, and Critz is a better cultural fit than Hafer.  It's not a given that the election gets framed in voters' minds as "insider/outsider," on the contrary the framing is very much up for grabs.  And Hafer's inability to secure enough valid petitions to make the ballot at all signals a poor campaign organization, which matters more than anything else in any election but particularly in a special--just ask DeDe Scozzafava about that.

by DCCyclone 2010-04-06 10:42AM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks to ND22 and Adam B, because...

I disagree with you about Hawaii but think you're probably right about PA-12.

by desmoinesdem 2010-04-06 11:05AM | 0 recs
RE: Thanks to ND22 and Adam B, because...

Your post seems like a bunch of speculation based on speculating about something you don't know if it exists. The DCCC likely has nothing more than what is in the public.

Hafer has more name id, has won statewide, and doesn't carry the baggage of being a DC insider (yes, that is a given, get a hold of any sort of evidence to the contrary and I'd like to see it); that said, Hafer is obviously not a candidate that has the legs to get it done. The best argument that Critz will be able to make is that he can continue to bring home the earmarks.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-06 12:29PM | 0 recs
Keep in mind

Hafer won statewide...as a Republican...and never won Murtha's district in any statewide race she ran. Hafer always performed strongest around Philadelphia. Montco was the only country she won in the whole state when she ran for Governor in 1990. 

by ND22 2010-04-06 01:28PM | 0 recs
Your comments on these races make no sense......

ND22 did a good job disabusing on Hafer's strength, and the only thing I'll add is that Washington is a DEMOCRATIC town, and a DEMOCRAT has limited-to-zero credibility in attacking it as an "outsider."  If insider/outsider is the frame, WE LOSE.  The exceptions are those few truly conservative Democrats, mostly limited to the South, who most Democrats dislike, and that's sure not Hafer.

On Hawaii, your comment that "[t]he DCCC likely has nothing mroe than what is in the public" is laughable if you don't have information to back that up.  The SAFE speculation ALWAYS is that they know more than what is available to the general public.  They do their own polling, for chrissakes, and they always give extra attention to competitive special elections.  They did their own polling in NY-23 last fall in a more complicated 3-way than the Hawaii race, so no way are they relying on a single dated snapshot public poll in Hawaii now.  And if they're playing in a competitive primary where their DISfavored Democrat has big state party establishment backing, that underscores that they know more than what's publicly available.

Look, I as much as anyone don't like the idea of Case returning to Congress from such a strongly Democratic district, when someone more liberal can win a 2-way easily there, but if his support clearly is that much stronger than Hanabusa, then I want him over Djou without a second thought.

As an aside, one thing I haven't seen addressed in Hawaii is whether the mail-in voting process includes EVERY registered voter in the district AUTOMATICALLY receiving an unsolicited ballot, or if instead only those voters who ask for a ballot, get one.  It makes all the difference in turnout, and I think the former helps us while the latter hurts us.  Indeed, I would guess that for a special election like this one, sending all voters unsolicited ballots might increase turnout over regular in-person voting.  And that helps us a lot as long as the Democratic vote isn't too evenly split.

by DCCyclone 2010-04-06 02:42PM | 0 recs
Hafer has never run as a Dem

Critz was Murtha's district director, which I believe means he wasn't based in DC at all, but certainly can be still be tied to Murtha's own personal ethics issues.

This is now the fourth straight race Hafer has quit.  In 2005-06, she in turn announced for and dropped out of PA-SEN, PA-18 and PA-Lt-Gov.

The other thing worth noting is that this district will likely disappear in redistricting.  We're losing one seat, so why not axe the messed-up-shape district with a diminishing population and the newest incumbent?

by Adam B 2010-04-06 02:46PM | 0 recs
Numbers over substance

That's the DCCC's policy.  They care only about electability and numbers and nothing about policy or positions. Delivering and maintaining the majority is their purpose, so I won't fault them for it. However, the two are not necessarily unrelated concepts. A progressive is going to do more to advance the Democratic agenda and the party's overall prospects than a corporate skank like Case. Another thing to consider is that Case will regain his seniority, which means he will be more powerful in the Dem caucus and will be closer in line to a leadership position than anyone else elected this year. We don't need any more corporatists in leadership positions, and we definitely don't need them representing Hawaii. 

Should the netroots and ActBlue mobilize behind Hanabusa?  What about the general election primary in September?  Couldn't Hanabusa try to take out Case then (if he wins) and win the full term?  Orange to Blue is looking for candidates to support.  Seems like Hanabusa should be the most urgent.

by bpfish 2010-04-06 05:12PM | 0 recs
RE: Numbers over substance

How Blue Doggy is Case? Bobby Bright type or Jim Cooper type?

by vecky 2010-04-06 06:03PM | 0 recs
Sigh

Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

by yitbos96bb 2010-04-06 08:48PM | 0 recs

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