Friday, February 03, 2006

2 Cents on 6th Dist., Pt. 2

This is part two of my comments on the spirited discussion between michael in chicago and Rick Klau. (1, 2, 3)

The misrepresentation disclaimer from part one still applies.

And I will leave it to others to determine if parts one and two are each worth two cents, or if the combined value of the both posts is two cents.

Rick says:

I’m puzzled by the talk of “infrastructure” when Michael points to it as Christine’s competitive advantage. Is that where all the money’s been spent? *** All the volunteer legwork in the world will not reach the casual voters who will likely make the difference. A motivated base is great, and I’d love nothing more than to see it in full force on primary day. But a motivated base alone will not win this election.
But it isn't a question of two months of Cegelis' volunteer legwork versus two months of the DCCC candidate's volunteer legwork plus an expensive media buy. If it were, I would start rolling up the tent.

Instead, this is the question that the primary will answer -- Which will win out: Last minute, high-priced media or more than two years of getting out and meeting the Democratic voters in the district?

I'm betting on Christine's months and months and months of meeting 6th District Dems, getting to know them and know about the issues that concern them -- and by that I don't just mean being able to identify the issues concerning the district, I mean knowing what problems are facing the district and having an intelligent, well thought out, locally tailored plan for addressing those problems. And why am I confident in the ultimate triumph of shoe leather over D.C. funded media?

Ironically enough, it is people like... Rick Klau.

As he said in his post, Rick knows and likes Christine Cegelis and did work on her campaign website. And why is that? It wasn't because of a piece of campaign lit that was mailed to him. And it sure wasn't because he saw one of her ads on television. It was because he has met Christine and has gotten to know her over the course of her long campaign for congress.

And Christine has gotten out to meet and know literally thousands and thousands of Democrats in the district. She has shaken their hands and listened to their stories of struggling in Bush's America and why they believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. And she looked them in the eye and personally promised to work hard for them in Washington.

While the number of people that Christine could meet in the last couple of years is fewer than the number of people who can be reached by an expensive media blitz, but we shouldn't forget the universe of voters that we are talking about.

We are not talking about everyone in the 6th District or even every voter, that race will be run in November. We are not talking about every 6th District Democrat or everyone in the district who might consider voting for a Democrat.

Nope, the only people we are talking about are the 6th District Democrats who will take the time, on a Tuesday in March, to figure out where there polling place is and then vote in the Democratic primary -- a primary where the Democratic governor is effectively running unopposed. In other words: the Hardcore 6th District Democrats.

And many, if not most, of the Hardcore 6th District Democrats have met Christine. And many, many more know someone -- someone like Rick Klau -- who has met her.

Maybe a shotgun blast of paid media is enough to undermine all that sweat and shoe leather, but I don't think so.

This post first appeared in an even less coherent form at the So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog.


Anonymous,  2:00 PM  

I'm still wondering though: if her grassroots support is so strong, why is her spending so high and her receipts so low? If Cegelis is such a strong candidate, why is she being substantially outraised by John Pavich? Why is her spending increasing at twice the growth rate of her receipts? If your campaign is being efficiently run, how do you take 220K raised and turn it into 39K COH?

If your campaign is so overwhelmed by the success of the grassroots organization that's your selling point to begin with that you have to replace your campaign manager (six weeks before the primary!), what does that say about the quality of your planning, organization, and foresight?

And how will your great grassroots strength among Democrats help you win over the 4-5% of Republicans that you need to succeed in the general election?


Randall Sherman 3:32 PM  

I would beg to differ as to your claim that "the Democratic governor is effectively running unopposed." The Governor has spent the past three years snubbing (or worse) the groups that produced his narrow 2002 Primary victory (regular Chicago Democrats like his father-in-law and Downstate voters). There are a lot of voters in those groups who would vote for the Democratic donkey over Blagojevich.

Anonymous,  4:26 PM  

It was my understanding that Rick Klau doesn't live in the 6th Congressional District.

scorekeeper,  5:38 PM  

Rick doesn't live in the 6th, but neither do a lot of those grassroots supporters Christine sends out.

What proportion of those people knocking on doors for Christine are really district residents?

6th Sense,  5:42 PM  

Rick Klau has it right. I would say Christine doesn't have it to get the ball into scoring territory, let alone into the end zone. A campaign is more than some people in a room with a good vibe. Media and mail is essential. You only go without it when you can't afford it.

As for 'michael' calling it cynical to support a candidate one thinks has a better chance at winning than Christine, that's silly. To suggest something like "Christine in March or Republican in November" simply confirms that silliness.

While there are many people who might make good local civic/school committee participants, that doesn't make them candidates for Congress. This isn't personal against Christine or her supporters. It is simply going to take a stronger candidate than her to win.

And yes, winning the election matters. It's the only way to have a Democrat become the Rep in Congress from the 6th District. And remember, that's a good thing. That's the goal.

The emergence of Tammy Duckworth's campaign responded to a need: we needed a stronger candidate. I'm a 6th District Dem and I think Tammy is a very good Dem candidate. She will represent us well in Washington.

michael in chicago,  8:51 PM  

6th said:
"As for 'michael' calling it cynical to support a candidate one thinks has a better chance at winning than Christine, that's silly. To suggest something like "Christine in March or Republican in November" simply confirms that silliness."

Nice bogus combination of one statement I wrote and one statement I didn't, nor one I support, to try to make your point at my expense.

My comment was regarding putting electability ahead of connection to the voters and understanding of issues. I never said anything about voting Republican in November. Read AM's part one on that type of talk as he's dead on in his description of how every local Dem I talk to feels.

I'd never advocate voting for Roskam. I've said in several comments that I will vote for who ever wins the primary. But the sentiment regarding how this race has been handled by the DCCC and DC Dems is set, and I feel it will cost Duckworth some support among activists and independents who are now working within the Democratic ranks for change. We need their vote as noted above to defeat Roskam.

Duckworth's lack of ties to the district, the way she has entered the race, where her money is coming from (only 2 donors from the district (3%) and over half of individual contributions from Chicago residents), and the lack of clarity on where she stands on issues like CAFTA or universal health care will hurt her in the general.

Everyone wants to talk about Cegelis funding issues, but no one seems to be willing to acknowledge Duckworth's liabilities. I will contend when Cegelis wins the primary and the Dem establishment falls in line, funding will no longer be an issue. But should Duckworth win the primary, her liabilities will still remain. And Roskam as a local boy will beat on them.

Cegelis will make a race with Roskam about issues. This plays to the Democrats' strength as the Republicans have nothing but Bush and corruption to fall back on. Duckworth will make the race about personality and bio, to Roskam's benefit as it allows him to attack her lack of ties to the district and keep the debate away from issues.

Bottom line is, just like Rick and you and every Democrat I know, I want to win. I don't believe that a candidate who has few ties to the district, unclear positions on the issues, and hasn't worked to build a network of support within the district can win. I just don't believe media and mailing can overcome these shortcomings. Although Cegelis' approach has not followed conventional wisdom, I feel conventional wisdom does not adequately reflect this race and confuses who the stronger candidate really is.

Anonymous,  1:14 PM  

This is the second place I've read a sentiment that reads something to the effect of "when Cegelis wins..."

This strikes me as the sort of hubris that Cegelis' accolytes would hasten to attack on the part of Duckworth's, or mock from Scott's.

Though sports metaphors are frequently used in politics, they usually leave aside the chest-tumping confidence. Especially when your team's just fired their coach just weeks before the big game.

Scylla and Charybdis,  2:15 PM  

(Broad Smile) It is now clear that the Democratic Party will not be able to dig itself out of the deep hole established by the pygmy Cegelis vs Rahm-puppet Duckworth vs assorted Bush-hating others predicament to craft a victory in November. Perhaps Rahm's money will buy the primary, but even if the loyal Democrats unite behind her, the necessary marginal voters, required to win in this solid Republican district, will be so nauseated by the play-to-pay politics of the Chicago/Clinton Axis that Duckworth will be unable to garner a plurality. But of course, at the end of the day, the local Dems will continue to believe that Bush-bashing is the secret to a congressional win here and will be scratching their heads after Roskam's easy victory over Duckworth. Sic semper gloria transit.

Anonymous,  3:27 PM  

No matter what you think about Cegelis vs. Duckworth, IL-06 ain't a solid Republican district. Leaning Republican yes, solid no. Not when Bush only carried it with 53% and Obama carried it comfortably.

I'm sort of puzzled by the notion that Roskam is the clean, good-government candidate in this race, given the amount of money he's taken from Republican representatives and industry PACs. But hey, if you want to stand up for the candidate of Philip Morris, far be it from me to complain.

Just remember: it's "pay-to-play" and "sic transit gloria mundi."


Anonymous,  9:23 PM  

S & C, on which planet do you figure the plurality of voters is paying any attention to this inside baseball of the Dem primary? How many voters in the district could name Rahm Emanual, let alone tell you he's the head of th DCCC?

Besides, when one ethically challenged house majority leader steps down in favor of another who handed out checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor (and has a weird perma-tan despite living in Ohio), you'd be a fool to think the intramural fight between D candidates is going to be the story from March until November.

Ethics...ethics...ethics. Listen to the drum beat.

So-Called Austin Mayor 9:36 AM  

This is the second place I've read a sentiment that reads something to the effect of "when Cegelis wins..." This strikes me as the sort of hubris that Cegelis' accolytes would hasten to attack on the part of Duckworth's, or mock from Scott's.

As a Cegelis supporter, I take heart that this absurd statement was posted in the comments.

I must presume that if you had something substantive to bring to the discussion, you would have done so.

Anonymous,  10:10 AM  

Austin, since you're looking for substantive contributions to the debate: would you mind taking a stab at the questions I asked above?


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