Monthly Archives: September 2009

Calling St. George

Wow, it feels like years ago that I wrote these words rather than a matter of months.

Chuck DeVore may look like your run of the mill Assemblyman from California, but I assure you, he has the heart of a dragon-slayer. Chuck has chosen to take on the daunting task of defeating Barbara Boxer in 2010 and giving conservative Californians a voice in the U.S. Senate…If you’re at all interested in politics, you probably know that Washington’s own Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, is also up for re-election in 2010 and I’m left wondering, where’s our dragon-slayer?

Here in Washington, we’ve been waiting patiently for St. George. It’s not that we have a shortage of candidates and potential candidates as Michelle Dupler writes in the Tri-Cities Herald.

Candidates who want to block a fourth Murray term include Seattle chiropractor Sean Salazar, who has family in Pasco and Kennewick, and former Tri-Citian Craig Williams, who ran for Congress against Democrat Jay Inslee in 1994 while Inslee represented central Washington and the Tri-Cities.

Add to the mix Clint Didier, a native of Eltopia and current Connell High School football coach, who announced at a recent Tea Party event that he’s forming an exploratory committee to study the feasibility of running against Murray.

A fourth opponent, Rodney Rieger, is from Marysville.

(A fifth candidate, Wayne Glover, of Spokane Valley, was not mentioned in the Herald article.)

Five men, all lacking one or more of the elements that would comprise a successful candidate. Last December, I wrote:

To mount a serious challenge to an entrenched incumbent like Patty Murray, a Republican challenger will need to be well-organized, well-financed and well-known. By starting now, that challenger could build grassroots support and momentum to carry into the campaign cycle. I don’t know who that challenger will be, I just know – we need a hero.

st-george-and-the-dragon-t11244So I’ve been waiting…and waiting…and now, apparently, I’m not the only one who is tired of waiting. Andre Van de Hert has launched a Chris Widener for Senate 2010 campaign on Facebook.

I admit, Chris Widener may not be a household name yet, but the organization he founded, Positively Republican, has gained over 150,000 Facebook followers in just ten months. That tells me there’s an audience for the upbeat conservatism he’s promoting.

What’s more, his background as a speaker and author will go a long way towards getting that message out there in a way that the average voter can understand, as well providing him with a ready-made, well-developed network of potential supporters.

I think this is an excellent development that represents the first real opportunity to stop Patty Murray from winning a fourth term as Senator from the State of Washington. If you’re interested in supporting a strong, viable challenge to Patty Murray in 2010, I’d encourage you to stop by Chris Widener for Senate 2010 and join the group to encourage Widener to run.

I hope he likes the role of hero.

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Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Washington

MoveOn, Could You Please Just Move Along?

Because, really, you’re not adding anything of value to the debate.

Even though Election Day 2010 is still over a year away, MoveOn.org Political Action is running ads targeting Dave Reichert (WA-08) and his “No” vote on H.R. 3200 in the Ways and Means Committee.

Congressman Reichert responded with the following statement.

Now is the time to come together and debate meaningful solutions to lower health care costs, improve quality, and preserve Americans’ choice of care, not to derail this vital process with shameful, partisan politics.  Moveon.org can tell anyone they want that I voted against a $1.1 trillion government take-over of health care that would increase the cost of care, impose new penalty taxes on small businesses, and prevent Americans from keeping the care they have if they like it.  That vote was in the best interests of my constituents and the American people, I stand by it, and I will continue to fight for common-sense reforms that incorporate the best ideas from both sides of the aisle.

What I won’t stand for is a divisive political attack that questions my integrity and prevents us from achieving the reforms American families need. This ad is completely dishonest and does a disservice to my constituents. It is yet another roadblock on the path to real reform.

In case you haven’t seen the ad, it’s rather dramatic and asserts that Congressman Reichert’s vote was purchased with $105,958 of campaign contributions from “health and insurance interests” and, quite possibly, the very lives of your children.

Wow. Damning.

Actually, there’s not much new there. It’s basically just the same old-same old from the left. If you’re not “For” the 1,000 page monster, you’re “Against” lower costs and quality care and you probably don’t care if poor people die as long as you get your blood money, you Judas, so why don’t you just go kill yourself in a field somewhere and rid the earth of the miserable scourge that is you.

The only thing even remotely interesting in the ad is the implication that evil “special interests” are pulling Reichert’s strings because of the vast sums of money they’ve contributed to his coffers. If that’s the case, one has to wonder why they weren’t pulling the strings of everyone else on the Committee because, yes, every single member of the Ways and Means Committee accepted campaign contributions from “health and insurance interests.”

In fact, when you look at contributions from health and insurance sources as a percentage of total contributions, Reichert comes in tied for dead last with 5%. Evil bastard.

I think it’s much more interesting to note that Pete Stark (D) of California received 49% of his contributions from “health and insurance interests.” It’s also pretty interesting that, overall, the Democrats received a higher percentage of their funding from those interests than Republicans.

Which is to say that MoveOn’s ad isn’t motivated by some high moral purpose, it’s just politics as usual. Reichert wasn’t targeted because he took an unusually large sum of money from relevant industries, he was targeted because he’s a Republican in an increasingly moderate district whom they perceive as being vulnerable in 2010.

In order for MoveOn’s argument to hold water, you’d have to believe that Democrats such as tax cheat, Charlie Rangel, are somehow morally superior to Dave Reichert or that the same industries that influenced Reichert to vote against H.R. 3200, somehow, miraculously, influenced 26 Democrats to vote for it.

I’m not buying it.

Disclaimer: I was not able to determine, in the time available to me, how MoveOn arrived at the $105,958 figure…I’m sure it somehow involved a swarm of lackeys and a database. Since I have neither lackeys nor database, I turned to OpenSecrets. Unfortunately, the good folks at OpenSecrets had no idea, when they were compiling their data, that I was going to write this blog post, meaning I wasn’t able to find the exact data I was looking for. For example, OpenSecrets data lists contributions from the insurance industry, but doesn’t break that data down by types of insurance so please keep in mind that I was working insurance figures that included all types of insurance. Additionally, I excluded contributions for the 2009 election cycle.

You can view my data by clicking the image below.

specialinterestschart

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Filed under Health Care, Washington

Skewing The Results

Because of his deep and abiding respect for his constituents and their opinions on the issues, Congressman Brian Baird (WA-03) has included a poll on his official website posing the question, “Do you believe there is a need to reform our current health care system?”

Excellent! Congressman Baird has managed to frame the question in such a way that it appears as though he’s interested in what his constituents think on this issue while ensuring that the results will be so ambiguous as to be virtually useless. Not to mention the fact that no steps have been taken to limit the voting to residents of his own district, so as a gauge of their thinking, it’s completely worthless by design. Bonus: Congressman Baird gets extra credit points for subtly reinforcing the White House meme that there are only two choices on the issue, my way or the highway. It takes no small talent to achieve all that with a single poll question.

Aside from all that, it appears as though someone has been hard at work gaming the results of Congressman Baird’s survey.

The first vote was recorded on September 10th. An observer reports that between that time and roughly 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, less than 90 “Yes” votes had been cast, approximately 1/3 of the total votes cast. Then sometime on Saturday, the “Yes” tally mysteriously began to rise, roughly 3 votes every ten to 15 seconds until, by Sunday morning, the “Yes” tally was over 10,200 votes. This unusual voting pattern was brought to my attention yesterday evening. At that time the “Yes” tally was 10,219 votes; as I write this, at noon on Monday, the tally is 10,224.

I turned to my tech team (okay, I tossed the question out on Twitter) for possible explanations.

  1. Somebody encouraged people to go vote in that poll on a forum or e-group…
  2. The webmaster wrote a script to make it look as though there was human input increasing the tally…
  3. Home hacker used a bot to vote but that would be considered non-trivial; bots require mad skills…
  4. A level of activism uncommon in Washington.

I have no idea what happened behind the scenes to increase the total of “Yes” votes on Baird’s poll, who was behind it or why they did it. Assuming there’s no malicious intent on the part of the Congressman, common sense should tell him that the results have been tampered with. That being the case, we can hope he will disregard the worthless results he was going to ignore anyway.

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Something Or Nothing?

Since I posted this piece about financially supporting conservative candidates and Erick Erickson posted a similar piece at RedState the same day, I’ve seen some comments based on the idea that if only candidates were “conservative enough” people would support them.

Whatever.

chocchipcookiesDidn’t your mother ever ask you, “What’s better, something or nothing?” When you’re talking about cookies, the answer seems fairly obvious but apparently it gets fuzzy when you’re talking about candidates. It would be nice to have “perfect” conservative candidates in every race at every level (and don’t even get me started on how we’d define “perfect”), but last time I checked, Jesus wasn’t even remotely interested in running for office. Meanwhile, we have to make do with actual humans. Humans whose views may not coincide exactly with our own on every issue.

Get over it.

I can understand the appeal of allocating your dollars based on principle, but in a two-party system, the time for that is in the primaries. (Although here in Washington, with our misguided top-two primary system, standing on principle even in the primaries may be a luxury we can no longer afford.) Now that the primaries are over, we need to identify the candidates who are most closely aligned with our beliefs and rally around them, where “rally around” means supporting them with our time and our wallets – even if those candidates aren’t really as conservative as we might like, because in the majority of cases, the alternative is far worse.

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Washington State Conservatives Need To Step Up Their Game

Despite holding a narrow lead in the polls, Susan Hutchison trails Dow Constantine in fundraising in the King County Executive race. The Seattle Times reports that since August 10, Hutchison has raised just $32,000 while Constantine has raised $102,000.

So, Conservatives, tell me…what’s the problem?

Here’s a bit of news for you. It’s not enough just to whine about the lack of quality, conservative candidates. Sometimes you actually have to “do something.” In this case, that something is showing your support for a conservative candidate by contributing to her campaign.

It’s not my intention to debate the merits of Hutchison as a candidate or a conservative. All you really need to know is that she is by far the more conservative of the two candidates. That should be enough. King County voters are lucky to have a conservative choice for Executive at all. If that statement confuses you, look at the Seattle mayoral race. And don’t think that you’re off the hook if you live outside of King County. Let me remind you, King County is the tail that wags the Washington dog. And if that statement confuses you, look at the current occupant of our Governor’s Mansion.

Check out this chart, taken from Open Secrets.

lopsidedfundraisingThrow out the 8th District. After all, it’s not every day you get a gift like Darcy Burner.

Focus on the districts with Democrat incumbents, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9 and look at the fundraising disparity. As bad as this looks, for some of the candidates it tells only part of the story; over $19,000 of Larry Ishmael’s total contributions of $51,730 were self-financed.

The bottom line: I don’t care who you are or how righteous your cause, you simply can’t go after a $1.3 million juggernaut like Norm Dicks with $17,000 in your war chest. To put it another way, you can’t put out a five-alarm fire with a water pistol.

It’s a chicken-and-the-egg condundrum: conservatives would support a “quality candidate” but quality candidates are hard to attract if this is the level of support they can expect.

Candidates for public office are already risking a lot. They risk a public defeat. They risk a loss of privacy. They risk old skeletons coming back to haunt them. They risk vicious treatment by the opposition and the press and families are no longer off limits. On top of all that, it seems as though asking them to self-finance their campaigns is just asking them to risk too much. Conservative candidates need our financial support. No support, no candidates, end of story.

I’m not the only one flogging this horse today. Erick Erickson at RedState, 15 Days and We’re Not Meeting the Goal.

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In Defense of Matthew Manweller

I had the opportunity to speak to Washington State Republican Party Chairman, Luke Esser, today. Among other things, he offered this defense of Dr. Manweller:

Dr. Mathew Manweller is a strong, committed conservative who has worked hard to improve the Republican Party, our state and nation. He has displayed tremendous courage by openly and proudly proclaiming his conservative beliefs in a hostile academic world of liberal activism. Last week Dr. Manweller proposed a strategy for the 2010 elections whereby Republicans nationally would “target their challenges to representatives who are disproportionately liberal in comparison to their districts.” While I don’t agree with his proposed strategy (I favor going on offense against the Democrats in every district where Republicans have a reasonable chance of victory), it’s ridiculous for anyone to question Dr. Manweller’s motives. We certainly could use more thoughtful debate about how best to defeat Democrats and advance our shared conservative principles. Ad hominem attacks on Dr. Manweller do nothing to accomplish either of those goals.

I don’t know Dr. Manweller, but Esser does and I’m willing to take his word on the matter. His statement is, I believe, more in response to this post at RedState than mine, as I was merely commenting on Manweller’s stunningly incomprehensible position about how the GOP should approach the next election cycle.  Definitely not this one at Horse’s Ass…Jon DeVore seems fairly certain that Dr. Manweller is conservative.

Considering some of Manwellers embarrassing right wing antics, like the time he called supporters of the minimum wage “dumber than a post,” it’s pretty darn funny that there’s a little internecine warfare going on at the WSRP.

Why do I think it’s internecine conflict? Because the attacks against Manweller are being cheered by fellow WSRP executive board member Nansen Malin of Pacific County, who at last sighting was relentlessly attacking Brian Baird because he wouldn’t have a town hall in her living room.

Here’s a bit of advice for Mr. DeVore. If you’re going to follow someone on Twitter – and especially if you’re going to write about it on your blog – you should click through and actually read their links. Ms. Malin wasn’t tweeting links to the RedState post, but she did tweet a link to this blog. There is no internecine warfare going on at the WSRP. So sorry to disappoint.

(Note: Martin Knight’s post at RedState makes excellent points about the inadvisability of Dr. Manweller’s plan, whether or not you agree that he’s a Democrat sleeper.)

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Filed under Washington, WSRP

Planning To Fail

You’ve surely heard the old adage, “when you fail to make a plan, you plan to fail.” Like most old sayings, this is largely true; operating by the seat of your pants isn’t the best route to success; however, people do occasionally manage it anyway – due to sheer luck or brute force – but what about those times when a plan is so misguided that the plan itself dooms you to failure?

Matthew Manweller, an associate professor of Political Science at Central Washington State University and member of the Washington State Republican Party Executive Committee proposes just such a plan in an op-ed appearing today in the Seattle Times.

There is a tendency for national political parties, especially minority parties, to go after the most vulnerable incumbents. This means focusing on swing districts or districts where the presidential partisan vote differed widely from the congressional partisan vote. The national GOP will be making a serious mistake if they follow this strategy across the board. A more nuanced approach is necessary if the GOP wants to win back majority status, but more importantly, the trust of the American people.

God save me from a nuanced approach. Nuance is the mantle intellectuals like to don when they espouse ideas that slap common sense in the face. It allows them to maintain their self-righteous sense of superiority without having to actually justify what they’re saying because, after all, you would understand it if only you were smart enough to appreciate their nuanced approach.

Manweller continues:

GOP Chairman Michael Steele should not go after the “Blue Dog Democrats” in 2010. This small group of representatives has shown themselves to value practicality over ideology. They have been willing to compromise, change their minds and even oppose their own party when necessary, characteristics that should be valued regardless of one’s own political affiliation. More will be lost than gained if the GOP attacks this coalition.

I am not sure how Manweller defines “Blue Dog,” so we’ll just let them define themselves. Cross-referencing the list of House Blue Dog Caucus members with the American Conservative Union’s lifetime ratings, we can see that, of the 46 members who are rated, just four of them support the conservative position at least half the time, whereas 27 of them support it less than one third of the time.

Astonishingly, 18 of them support the conservative position less than one quarter of the time, with ratings ranging from 24.5 all the way down to 2! It’s a sign of just how far left the Democrats have swung that anyone who votes against the conservative position 98% of the time would even want to be part of a supposedly moderate caucus, much less be allowed to join. Tell me why, by all that’s holy, would you not challenge a so-called Blue Dog who votes with you less than 25% or even 50% of the time? Even if you elect a moderate Republican who supports the conservative position 51% of the time, that’s a gain in my book.

Now put on your thinking cap, because here comes the  nuanced part:

What message does it send to conservative Democrats if the GOP assails the very people who were willing to work with them? Republican challenges will simply drive Blue Dogs to seek cover in the liberal wing of their party and make them question why they should ever cross the aisle again.

Breaking news, Professor Manweller! Not all the Blue Dogs are conservatives! Or even moderate! But you must know that, being, as you are, a professor of Political Science. And to tell the truth, I really don’t care if their feelings get hurt. Furthermore, when your party is in the majority, it doesn’t matter if the guys on the other side of the aisle are willing to cross over and work with you. Unless you want to pursue policies that really aren’t going to turn out to be all that popular, or even work as advertised, and you want to spread the blame. (Ask the Democrats how this is working out for them.)

More importantly, what message does it send to the American voter if the GOP seeks to overthrow the very group of people who are actually looking (and thinking) before they leap? If Republicans win a majority on the backs of Blue Dogs, they will look cynical in victory and send a message that the desire for power trumps a commitment to rational discourse and the politics of cooperation.

Such a victory would not be good for America. After having lost the trust of the American people in 2006, the GOP needs to show that they can put country above partisan gain. Driving out conservative Democrats doesn’t send that message. In truth, such a move would further polarize an already polarized America. For decades, Democrats have been targeting Rockefeller Republicans and Republicans have been targeting soft Democrats. The result has been an ever widening chasm between the Left and the Right. That can be good for fundraising, but not for public policy.

Does that mean the GOP should sit on the sidelines during the 2010 elections? Absolutely not. But they should target their challenges to representatives who are disproportionately liberal in comparison to their districts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a perfect example — uncompromisingly liberal but representing the relatively conservative state of Nevada. From a pure political perspective, replacing a conservative Tennessee Democrat with a Tennessee Republican consumes scarce political resources but does nothing to increase the number of votes to block Obama’s legislation.

blues_clues_top

Did you say Blue Dog?

When the GOP mounts a strong challenge in a Blue Dog district, the average voter won’t interpret that as a cynical grab for power because – here’s another news flash for the Professor – the average American voter doesn’t know a Blue Dog Democrat from a hole in the ground. Joe and Jane Voter are far more likely to think that the failure to mount an effective challenge is a sign of GOP indifference, incompetence or inability and nobody likes to back a loser.

Manweller states, “Such a victory would not be good for America.” Why not? If you believe that conservative principles are best for this country and that that the Republican party best represents those principles, how is it “not good for America” if you do all within your power to promote them? Manweller should be encouraging Michael Steele to embrace a strategy of moving forward with strong challenges in every district that can possibly be snatched back from the Democrats and even stronger challenges in tough districts, rather than limiting the potential for success. He talks about scarce political resources without recognizing that people are motivated and motivated people can achieve great things.

To say that we should hand the Blue Dogs a pass is like saying that you should throw the game because  your opponent just said your mother was ugly, rather than calling her…something worse. Perhaps Manweller finds it repugnant to think of the political process in terms of winners and losers, yet there undoubtedly are winners and losers. Failure to acknowledge this when the stakes are so high is irresponsible; the Democrats, even the Blue Dogs, understand this.

As a Washington conservative, I can only hope the other members of the WSRP Executive Committee don’t embrace Manweller’s ill-advised plan because it would be nice to hope for the possibility of some conservative representation in Olympia for the 1st District. For an ostensible expert on American politics, the Professor seems alarmingly naive. Perhaps he needs to get out and mingle with the riff-raff more often.

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