I am not sure how people say things like this with a straight face:
What does a special election in Massachusetts have to do with next year’s battle for Congress?
A lot, Republicans hope. The Democrat beat the Republican in Tuesday’s contest, but the GOP sees victory in defeat.
The widow of the late Sen. Paul Tsongas won the special election to fill the unexpired term of Rep. Marty Meehan. The Massachusetts Democrat resigned from Congress earlier this year to become the Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Niki Tsongas defeated Republican Jim Ogonowski, a former Air Force pilot whose brother was piloting one of the hijacked airliners that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, in a hard fought battle for the state’s 5th Congressional District, which partially borders New Hampshire.
Tsongas, whose late husband once held the same congressional seat before being elected to the Senate, topped Ogonowski 51% to 46%.
And that’s what the Republicans are crowing about.
Massachusetts is a very blue state and this district is dominated by Democrats. It overwhelming went for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election and John Kerry four years later. Meehan won 67 percent of the vote in his 2004 re-election bid, and was unopposed last year.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, says, “Democrats have a reason to worry. In a race that should have been won in a walk, Democrats were forced to funnel a massive amount of resources and dispatch an all-star cast of liberal icons at the 11th hour in order to ensure victory. As their approval ratings have shown, people have already grown angry with the Democrat-led Congress. In a little over nine months, they have gone from being perceived as agents of change and the answer to the problem in Washington to becoming the actual problem. Jim Ogonowski, while unsuccessful in his bid to change Washington, just opened the door for future Republican candidates seeking a path to victory in 2008.”
A special election with depressed voter turnout with a boring Democratic candidate who was, by all accounts, a horrible campaigner, against a charismatic 9/11 linked retail politician is really not the most accurate prediction of future elections.
I mean, get excited if you want, Republicans, but my bets are the Democrats will take Massachussetts in 2008.
Wow, the Democrats became the actual problem REALLY QUICKLY.
Too bad you don’t have a category named, “Desperately Grasping At Straws” to file it under.
*snort* see Craig, Larry and his recent appearance on the Today show.
If by ‘people’ you mean, ‘Republicans’, it suddenly becomes much clearer, doesn’t it?
Ogonowski is actually kind of boring. His family business is hay farming and he’s definitely a local. What he had was his local roots (he tried to brand Niki Tsongas as a carpetbagger since she gave up her condo in Charlestown to move back to the district some years ago) and his 9/11 connection with his brother. Beyond that he tried to get the district all pumped up about illegal immigration, which doesn’t exactly fly in Lowell and surrounding towns, with a large immigrant population, including a lot of legal folks and their families who do vote.
Niki did a fair amount of campaigning, but relied more heavily on ads that linked Ogonowski to Bush, a not unreasonable link. Ogonowski campaigned hard, much harder than Tsongas, and couldn’t beat her. Massachusetts stays blue.
Bob In Pacifica
That’s what I wonder: How Republicans can run and link themselves to Bush and not link themselves to Bush.
Dubya is like a stone around any candidate’s neck except for maybe parts of Idaho. What do you tell a crowd? I’m for torture. I’m for the government spying on you. I’m for spending a trillion bucks that we don’t have for a war that never ends and seems to get worse and worse. Or, I’m against rebuilding things that fall apart, like New Orleans. I’m against children getting healthcare.
This is gonna be tough sledding. Expect a big bucket of mud on the campaign trail and a lot of voodoo in the voting machines because there’s no way a Republican dogcatcher could win on those issues.
They see victory because Rush told them it’s coming! This event in MA is viewed as indicative of how the next round of elections in the USA will go.
With Hillary in the WH next year, the Repubs get at least four years of Clinton bashing–again. It’ll be like the 90s all over again!
With a D in the WH, a Newt-like figure will “appear” for the Rs, creating a new Contract
AgainstWith America will be marketed by the GOP and, thanks to a lazy MSM and strong-arm tactics by Wingnutland, H. Clinton and Ds everywhere will be made out to be the ones responsible for all of this country’s woes. The GOP retakes the Congress, Clinton is held responsible for Afghanistan, Iraq, the horn of Africa, the health care crisis, the Immigration Question, American public education, problems in Asia, etc.
It’s going to be a blast, and I predict Limbaugh will get caught red-handed screwing children in Costa Rica, only his apologists will claim it’s character assassination.
It would be hilarious to watch the RedStaters and FreiRepublikans rationalize that one.
I’ve a hunch that Clinton would have something to do with their excuses.
it’s not merely grasping at straws, it’s some serious projection.
dems have been making many inroads into red states for some time now. losing elections by a hair that should have been a GOP washout. that and the large number of goopers that are quitting this term has em nervous as hell.
now the GOP sees something similar happen just once and thinks a country-wide victory is ‘just around the corner’.
Well, they have to say something. Here in the Land of Enchantment, Rep. Steve Pearce, a diehard wingnut, just announced he’s running for Pete Domenici’s Senate seat, over the express objections of the DSCC and Heather Wilson, who’s also running for that seat.
The local republicans are saying out loud that it will be a most dignified and civilized primary, because those two are such nice folks. Behind closed doors, they’re expecting a bloodbath. And democrats in New Mexico are stocking up on popcorn.
And we all know that if you want to get a good idea of the weather in Massachusetts, the best place to put your thermometer is in Oklahoma.
Doesn’t Cole come from the Inhofe school of global warming denial? I can see all that single-issue denial has spread out to larger, greener pastures.
As chair of the NRCC, he’s supposed to be aware of what’s going on all around the country, while simultaneously being head cheerleader for the cause. In this case, I don’t think being from Oklahoma is the problem. It’s being Tom Cole that’s the problem.
Not the Senator
There is also the issue that John Keller, political reporter for WBZ-TV and Boston Herald columnist aggressively covered Republican Jim Ogonowski’s congressional campaign without disclosing that Keller’s son, Barney, was the campaign’s top spokesman.
Keller’s also in trouble for multiple cases of plagiarism in his just released book, so the GOP may be losing it’s most visible media voice in Massachusetts.
Sept. 11 changed everything.
Isn’t Cole in some serious trouble because of his Pollyanna outlook these days? I distinctly remember a story about him being in danger because he’s so clueless, it’s going to cost them even MORE seats.
As the Great Orange Satan commented, this story isn’t a brushoff. Ogonowski is a halfway decent choice to represent his district; Tsongas is a coattailer supreme who barely campaigned at all. When the choice was a decent Republican versus a dud Democrat…then it’s not quite so surprising why the vote was almost split, even in a district that supports Democrats by 15 points.
To be fair, the shoe was on the other foot just two years ago.
Republicans have two plans of attack right now for 2008.
1) Attack children, women, foreigners, wounded soldiers, sick children, immigrants and in general, non-evangelical Christians – as ferociously as you can.
2) Blame Democrats for whatever goes on in Washington, including your own obstructionism and whatever the Republican president does.
#1 only works if whomever you’re not attacking ends up giving you enough votes to win elections. The expansion of the 2-minute-hate target pool lately (especially to the sick children) is making this a losing strategy.
#2 only works if you and/or the increasingly unpopular (do I hear 20%?) Republican President can not be painted as the obvious reason why good legislation proposed by the Democrats fails. And/or if Democrats are unsuccessful in passing any legislation that the people want. I suspect, especially with things like SCHIP as an example, this will also not be a winning strategy for Republicans.
General polls of people’s unhappiness with Congress are not a winning strategy to hang your hopes on.
With everything I see now, I see Democratic pick ups in 2008. If Republican-related bad news continues or accelerates (more gay sex scandals, resignations, corruption investigations, more opposition to the war/torture from retired military, bungled political fights like the one on S-CHIP) I predict Democrat sweeps at both the national and state levels, even in some surprising places.
Let’s not forget the opportunistic party switching (see #1 for potential Republicans who have a reason to switch now).
I assume this is not a relative. But one of the many things T. Cole over looks is the fact that the DNC has the money to spend on a race whereas the RNC was a bit short on funds after 2004 and it isn’t getting any better.
As I’ve said before, if these shrimp brains want to stay in Delusionville they don’t deserve to win elections.
…and the narrative begins to take shape. I have a feeling I’ll be hearing a LOT of this for the next year.
From what I read at some left-wing sites, another reason for the low Dem turnout was that Ms Tsongas was the “party machine” candidate who beat out a grass-roots populist in the primary, which turned off more than a few of the younger Dem voters.
Could be a preview of Hillary/Obama and the results of the machine pushing Clinton into the general elections?
Republicans have two plans of attack right now for 2008.
jckricket, I think they have three. The first two you laid out nicely. The third is the war on Iran, which can come at any time and without notice. If I were to guess, it’ll happen in the spring, the msm will be all over it (they love the video footage), and all the republicans will scream that America has to re-elect them, because this is war, dammit, and only republicans can be trusted to win the day.
I sure do hope I’m wrong.
Anyone notice that the Democrat controlled this or that is becoming more prevelant. I heard it last night from a newscaster.
So from now on, they are the Repubics..
As do I. I think the last thing the world, America and the military needs right now is a third ongoing war.
Republicans sure have short memories when it comes to elections. In last year’s race for governor Deval Patrick (D) absolutely whupped Kerry Healey, 55-35. As bad as that butt kicking was, Niki Tsongas equalled or bettered Patrick’s performance in virtually every town in the district (except Ogonowski’s home town of Dracut).
The fifth district isn’t as blue as the rest of the state: Romney carried it in 2002.
If Tom Cole wants to use the Ogonowski campaign as a model for future Republican campaigns it’s good for the Democrats.
C’mon, John, you’ve gotta think big-picture here. This is a victory for Republicans just like the 2006 midterms were a victory for Republicans because all those Democrats who won did so by pretending to be conservative, don’t you see…so the fact that they more conservative candidate lost is indicative of what great shape the GOP is in (seriously, that’s the spin on that one). Sometimes you’ve really gotta step back and try to see the forest for the stupid.
Considering what has happened to the price of oil futures just because of Turkey’s making comments about going into Iraq after the Kurds, does anyone want to predict what will happen to the price of oil if an actual attack on Iran occurs?
Hello, $200/bbl oil….
Unfortunately, the clowns-in-charge haven’t figured out that this just might be a bit bad for the US economy.
Guess I’ll start investing in more alternative energy. AND move to Canada.
Of course, attacking any campaign committee chairman for dishonest spin is rather like criticizing a cockroach for bad table manners — but it IS important not to fall for his line on this occasion. This is the least Democratic district in Massachusetts, and last year Deval Patrick (a much better campaigner than Mrs. Tsongas) took it by only 10 points. (Especially since Oganowski made a point of saying that “it was wrong to invade Iraq” and that his blueprint for trying to retrieve the situation includes “most importantly, holding the Iraqi government accountable for results” — by which I presume he means threatening to bail out if the Iraqis don’t straighten up their act.)
Interestingly, even the right-wing “Hub Politics” site says explicitly that this election was NOT a referendum on the Iraq War, and that if it had been Tsongas would have won by a much bigger margin. H.P.’s line is instead that the voters of America are “fed up with the do-nothing Democratic Congress” — which, to the limited extent that it is true, simply confirms again that the Dems had better make it clear that the main reason they’ve done nothing is simply that the Senate GOP is filibustering their attempts to do anything, at three times the rate of any previous Congress in US history. But then, I rather doubt that the large and growing number of voters who say they dislike the Democrats for not opposing the GOP hard enough are going to protest by voting for the GOP, or that any of them who stay home on the “no-difference-between-them” argument aren’t going to be matched by comparable numbers of Republicans who stay home on the same grounds. Things don’t work that way in politics, folks.
I see the Cyrus beat me to it — Paul Hackett’s narrow loss in 2005 was seen as a huge warning shot to the Republicans. More than that, it *was* a huge warning shot to the Republicans.
Paul Hackett was running on a solid “Get the hell out of Iraq now!” platform in a deeply red district in swing state Ohio and lost by 3.5%, which signaled the public finally souring on the war.
As Bruce pointed out, Tsongos won in a slightly red district against an opponent who was repudiating Iraq War and discussing exit strategies. The difference between Hackett/Schmitt and Tsongos/Oganowski are stark, namely because Schmitt is the only one of the three that your average GOoPer Congressman wouldn’t berate as a flaming liberal.
I don’t even know why I’m arguing in the defense of this. Republicans are absolutely insane if they think they’re going to do anything more than staunch the blood-flow come November.
I’d describe is as the best they can hope for is that only part of the leg gets amputated.
The way things are going for them (unpopular wars, middling economy, housing market crashing, resignations, corruption scandals, sex/gay scandals, insane pronouncements from the right, etc.) you could actually see Dems get a 59 seat Senate majority. And who knows in the house, maybe 2/3 isn’t out of the question for Dems :-)