Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thin Gruel for GOP in 2008 House Races

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting freshman Democrat, Rep. Jason Altmire of the 4th Pennsylvania Congressional District, for the 2008 election cycle. I did a tiny bit of work in that district the last cycle, and I know several Pittsburgh bloggers were intense supporters of Jason. This district has a Democratic registration edge, but it voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. The marginal members of the winning federal election coalitions in the district are Reagan Democrats.

Rep. Altmire is a fairly logical target for the Republicans. He won a split district 52%-48% and slightly underperformed Democrats nationally and more importantly underperformed compared to other Democratic House candidates in Pennsylvania. He won on the strength of a good campaign in a good Democratic year. He is also a freshman, and the first re-election campaign is the toughest one to win. So he makes sense as a target.

However, the Post-Gazette is reporting the type of ammunition that the GOP is planning to use against him and to me it sounds thin:

This time he'll have to defend a record of votes on hugely complex and controversial issues, especially the Iraq war. In March, he joined 217 House colleagues in approving an emergency spending bill that sets March 1, 2008, as a deadline to begin removing U.S. soldiers from Iraq.

He's also voted to increase the minimum wage, expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and allow workers to organize unions more easily.

If this is the ammunition that the GOP has, it'll work as well as US torpedoes did in 1942. Rep. Altmire is voting to get restrict Pres. Bush's freedom of action in Iraq, a position that resonates with 60%+ of the US population, supports federal stem cell research funding which should help the UPMC research complex inside the city of Pittsburgh, and has voted on issues that a good chunk of his base, labor and labor families find important. The Democrats have been running with their agenda setting power and voting on easy and popular proposals that enjoy widespread public support.

If this is what the GOP is planning to use against their top-10 targets, November 2008 will be another ugly year.

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