Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How Can You Tell When They're Nervous? They Sweat Money

Republicans approve of fear as good politics -- caravans of illegals looking to spread a plague of leprosy, for just one example -- so let's talk fear with one week to go. Republican fear. Oh, they're not actually afraid of brown-skinned plague-bearers. That's just a pose (or else they're as gullible as a Florida bomb maker or a synagogue murderer). What they're really afraid of right now is losing big-time.

Watching the scrambles of Republican PAC money in Washington -- now that's a study in fear.
congressional seats needed for Dems to take the House ... 23
*congressional seats held by Rs in districts won by Clinton in 2016 ... 25
deep red seats that now look flippable to blue ... ??  
Guesses vary, go as high as 70 or more. Predictions are always fantasies.

But seriously, folks, literally dozens of "comer" Democrats are running in red districts from Maine to Washington state who could overturn the tables of the money-changers, good D candidates running exceptional campaigns in deep red districts. They're muddying predictions because they're playing for keeps and playing well in districts no one thought competitive.

Republican disbelievers in a blue wave fall back on recent history: Those deep red districts aren't really flippable because Trump's base is fired up, and it's the Democrats who're an angry, impotent mob, and Congressional districts just don't change hands that much. Weren't they paying attention during all those 2017 and early 2018 special elections (save one, below) in which longtime Republican incumbents went down -- or ancient Republican state and Federal seats changed hands, often decisively, like an ice-water slap? Don't they remember that?

So news reaches us here this morning that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is rushing quick aid to a number of Republican candidates (both incumbents and newcomers) running in red districts that Trump took in 2016 by anywhere from 7 to 20+ points ... because of impressive Democrats running stronger than anyone thought possible.

Partial list of those in-trouble Rs (and their D challengers, who are pictured):

Lucy McBath
Karen Handel --first-term Republican incumbent. You may recall how Handel won her seat in a special 2017 election against young, attractive Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff. If you recall that, you'll also recall our getting excited about Ossoff, who popped onto the national radar well funded and staffed by professionals. But Ossoff lost that special election to Handel for apparently being too much the outsider, a liberal pimp. Instead of a Northern carpetbagger like Ossoff, this year the Democrats of the 6th District of Georgia picked Lucy McBath. She's very much the insider. Also black, young, and an avowed proponent of gun control. They're afraid of McBath in Georgia (let alone D.C.) and are pumping up Handel. With Stacey Abrams at the top of the Georgia ticket, McBath and Abrams would mutually benefit from voter enthusiasm if they can overcome the voter suppression.

Abigail Spanberger
Dave Brat -- in Virginia's 7th District. He's the brat who beat powerful incumbent Republican big-wig Eric Cantor in 2014. He's in trouble. Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, has come on strong. A poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University very recently put Spanberger over Brat, 46 - 45. NRCC is pouring money in for attack ads on TV.

Leslie Cockburn
Denver Riggleman -- in Virginia's 5th District. Riggleman is running for the seat left open by retiring Republican Tom Garrett, who announced he had an alcohol problem, and the high he got from being powerful wasn't helping. Background on Garrett here. Democrat Leslie Cockburn won the primary and has been a credible candidate in a sprawling rural district that includes the university town of Charlottesville. We wrote extensively about Cockburn way back in May.

Joe Cunningham

Katie Arrington -- in South Carolina's 1st District, which includes Charleston. Arrington is Trump-blessed (he laid his holy hands on Arrington's noggin in the Republican primary after incumbent Republican adulterer Mark Sanford dared to criticize the president out loud). According to Sullivan and Weigel, "Katie Arrington has had trouble putting away her Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham," in a district both Trump and Mark Sanford won easily. I've written admiringly of Cunningham more than once. He looks like a winner to me.

Amy McGrath
Garland "Andy" Barr -- in Kentucky's 6th. Incumbent Barr is seriously endangered by former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who's been a favorite of mine all year. Barr is getting big TV money and consultants to try to knock those wings off McGrath. Trump carried the 6th District by 13 points. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is flying in to campaign for Barr -- curious choice, since Ryan himself is a perfect symbol of Republican defeatism in this cycle -- Ryan retired rather than face IronStache.

* NRCC and Republican super-PACS have been pulling support for some incumbents considered too far gone to save -- throwing them to the wolves.

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