I have a dream. It isn’t as worthy or as grand as someone else’s but it’s my dream. It’s based on the 1936 congressional elections. The reactionary, obstructionist Republicans were reduced to 16 seats in the U.S. Senate. And in the House the reactionary, obstructionist Republicans were reduced to 88 seats (which was 20%).
You can probably surmise that my joy at seeing the GOP ground into the dirt is tempered by the conservative nature of the Democrat who won last night. I expect he will be another Heath Shuler or Chris Carney tugging the House caucus to the right and frustrating the very impulses that gave him his victory last night. But we’ll deal with that in due time. Today we need to remind ourselves that the vicious, racist Rovian strategy didn’t work in the Republican heartland of the Old Confederacy.
When Cazayoux beat Woody KKK-pecker in Louisiana last week the GOP said their strategy was working and that if they had only had more time their ads attempting to tie Cazayoux to Pelosi, Obama and Jeremiah Wright would have worked. They promised to make it work in Mississippi. On top of millions of dollars in negative TV ads in one of the most Republican bastions in America, they brought in the man with the magic touch, Dick Cheney– actually two men with magic touches: Cheney and Rove, both campaigning furiously and publicly for Davis.
Their ads and their smears backfired in their faces as Childers took 54% of the vote. Obama had the last laugh:
"I want to congratulate Congressman-elect Travis Childers on winning this special election. By electing Travis in this traditionally overwhelmingly Republican district, the people of Mississippi voted to end the politics of division and distraction, and bring about real change. This is the third special election in recent months that Democrats have won in traditionally Republican areas– an unmistakable sign that Americans want to make a clean break from the failed Bush policies of the past– and are not looking for four more years of those failed policies from John McCain. I look forward to working with Travis in the months ahead to fix our economy, and make a difference in the lives of America’s hardworking families."
NRCC chair Tom Cole (R-OK) would have committed hara-kiri last night if he lived in Japan. It is an open question whether or not he’ll be asked to step down immediately or be given a face-saving grace period. His statement last night didn’t even attempt the kind of laughable spin they tried last week when Woody KKK-pecker lost.
“We are disappointed in tonight’s election results. Though the NRCC, RNC and Mississippi Republicans made a major effort to retain this seat, we came up short.
“Tonight’s election highlights two significant challenges Republicans must overcome this November. First, Republicans must be prepared to campaign against Democrat challengers who are running as conservatives, even as they try to join a liberal Democrat majority. Though the Democrats’ task will be more difficult in a November election, the fact is they have pulled off two [three] special election victories with this strategy, and it should be a concern to all Republicans.
“Second, the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. Therefore, Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for. This is something we can do in cooperation with our Presidential nominee, but time is short.
“I encourage all Republican candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall by building the financial resources and grassroots networks that offer them the opportunity and ability to communicate, energize and turn out voters this election.”
I wonder if he sent that out to his members with packets of kleenex. The Republicans went all out to save their asses after the ignominious defeats in Louisiana and Illinois. Aside from Cheney and Rove they sent in a whole army of big name wingnuts to campaign with Davis: Governor Haley Barbour, Senator Trent Lott, Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Roger Wicker, Mike Huckabee… And, after being embarrassed campaigning in Illinois with the pathetic Oberweis, McCain (as well as George and Laura Bush) recorded automated messages that went to every Republican household in the district.
MS-01 has a PVI of R+10. Let’s look at some of the Republican-held seats in California. Dan Lungren’s seat is R+7. Elton Gallegly’s is R+5. David "Walking Dead" Dreier is R+4. Jerry Lewis, who still has managed to evade indictment, has a district with a PVI of R+9, not quite as solidly Republican as the one they lost last night. Gary Miller’s, like the Mississippi district is exactly R+10; Ken Calvert R+6; Mary Bono R+3; Dana Rohrabacher R+6; Brian Bilbray R+5; and the seat Duncan Hunter is trying to leave to Duncan, Jr is R+9. I bet none of these galoots slept too well last night– or maybe they’re still in their dream state, imagining that hiring a p.r. consultant to come up with a hackneyed slogan associated with suicide drugs will save them from what’s is headed their way.
[Cross-posted at Down With Tyranny. Howie is furiously pounding away on an update as we speak.]