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January 27, 2005


ouch, ouch, ouch, and ouch!

sorry, no sale.

1) a primary challenger doesn't have to win to influence Lieberman's behavior. I don't think progressives will knock off Lieberman (though I sure wouldn't mind). I do think a serious primary challenge that poses a more genuine threat to Lieberman than the general election is well within reach. Since the press completely overreports intra-party criticism from centrists, and since Lieberman is probably the #1 democratic source of this with Miller gone, it is worth our while to get him to cut it out.
2) MYDD and Kos knew very well that the Democrats don't have a chance in most of those races. But:
a) contested elections are good for democracy
b) there were some cases where they clearly had an effect even if they didn't swing a seat. DeLay's and Musgrave's challengers both broke 40% and got outspent by huge margins by the GOP candidate--money that would have gone into other races otherwise.
c) Lightning strikes sometimes and you have to be ready. It can strike in an ideological way, like the 1994 House elections, or it can strike an individual district if there's a scandal.
d) unsuccessful House runs can increase name recognition and lay the ground work for future, successful house runs or runs for other types of political office. It pays to have a farm team.
e) these are bargain basement prices we're talking about in these districts, and the incumbent usually outspends the challenger by a lot. It's a good way to draw the GOP's fire. House races are too small for reliable polling so there's a lot of uncertainty as to what challengers are really threats.
f) we contested 13 House races last year. We would've needed to win all of them, and lose 0 seats in Texas, to take back the House. That was impossible. That's giving up before you start.

"All three races were unwinnable from day one for the Democrats, so raising cash for those challengers was about as useful as flushing money down the toilet."

This is a dumb criticism of Kos insomuch as small amounts of internet money sent to candidates expressly described as way-long shots managed to force the other side to invest much larger amounts in those races, or raised the profiles of good Democratic challengers for the future, or (we'll see) forced out-there incumbents to hew to a more centrist line. One candidate for an incumbent-held seat who I contributed to (without any expection she'd win) did in fact score an upset. My fistful of dollars proportionally were a lot more useful to her than the slightly larger fistful I gave Kerry. And giving money to someone who you admire to fight against someone you find appalling may in some cases be as effective as flushing the cash down the toilet, but from my perspective it can be personally rewarding.

There's a diary up on Kos's blog today from a US senator. If I were Lieberman and there were a reasonable available primary opponent I wouldn't be 100% unconcerned.

To echo Katherine's comments, I followed kos' fundraising efforts, and he and the other people on the site were sometimes quite clear that their candidates were not going to win. In the DeLay race, the rationale for supporting him (iirc) was explicitly to keep him tied down in Texas more than he'd be otherwise.

I don't regard kos as the second coming of James Carville or anything, but then I wouldn't really expect him to be. Nor do his most of his readers (at least the ones who post, I obviously have no clue what the rest are like) follow him blindly. He's just a blogger, for heaven's sake.

Though I should say, in the interests of full disclosure, that I worked for some of the people on kos' list as a donor too. -- One of the things I really liked about that effort was that it brought interesting candidates I'd never hear about otherwise to my attention. I had previously relied on Emily's List for this -- summaries of the positions of e.g. House candidates in some distant state facing appalling opponents -- but it's nice to have multiple sources. I always used these as jumping-off points for research, as most people probably did, but it was nice to have a few races brought to my attention (again, by several different sources), rather than having to slog through all the hundreds of them that are out there.

Piling on a bit more.

Among other reasons, fielding a candidate dovetails with GOTV efforts. There might just be a few folks (in my experience, more than a few) who will vote for a local candidate, over local issues, who'd otherwise not bother. It might be hard for us hard-core political blog fans, but there is a sizeable part of the population who feel national politics is beyond caring. But if you drag them into a voting booth to vote for a local candidate, they'll go ahead and vote for the national candidates as well.

Katherine's right (no surprise). Once again, a primary challenger doesn't have to be successful to have an impact. Look at the Club for Growth: it has never ONCE fielded a successful primary challenger, but that hasn't stopped it from hobbling Arlen Specter in his last term and threatening to sucker-punch Linc Chafee from the right while he gets hit from the left next year (a prospect I'm not looking forward to - I like and voted for Linc Chafee). Chances of beating Lieberman in a primary may be incredibly slim; chances of rattling him out of his fashionable counter-orthodoxy are much better.

To elaborate on Katherine's "lightning striking" point, does Stu Rothenberg not remember Daniel Mongiardo? A no-name state senator who was serve up as a sacrificial candidate, he was given practically no chance of winning -- until lightning struck, and Senator Jim Bunning had a nationally publicized series of meltdowns. Mongiardo came within an inch of winning, which was certainly aided by the funding that had been directed to him from various bloggers, who took note of the potential upset before the experienced and well-paid consultants at the DCCC.

Was it wasted money? Well, Bunning won, so someone could argue that it was. If Bunning hadn't made the mistakes, Mongiardo's percentage would have hovered around those of the candidates Rothenberg points out. However, had Bunning made the stumbles without blogger-directed funds being sent to his opponent, Mongiardo would not have been able to capitalize on the problems. And it almost scored the Democrats an unexpected Senate seat -- almost, but not quite. I think most people would consider the money sent to the previously unwinnable race money well spent, all the same.

Lightning striking, a case in point. When a party is down and has little-to-no chance of achieving the majority, gambles like that can be worth it, for the comparatively low costs involved.

All --

I'm not debating that it's sometimes strategically necessary to contest races you expect to lose. But there's a big difference between such strategery and Kos' past tactic of only focusing on losing races. And anyone who calls for throwing money at a challenge to Joe Lieberman when the Dems desperately need it elsewhere (not to mention the cover he can -- and does -- occasionally provide on the right) -- well, with friends like those, it's no wonder you're not in power.

But it's your party. Do what you will.

"And anyone who calls for throwing money at a challenge to Joe Lieberman when the Dems desperately need it elsewhere"

Depends on the amount of money involved (probably a lot less is required to strike a blow against such a high-profile detriment to our party than say build a whole VLWC) and how much is needed elsewhere - I thought that Kerry managed to sort of approach parity in funding, so I'd guess there's money out there. Also Kos may bring in more money pushing this goal than pushing a VLWC.

As usual, Digby has interesting things to say.

>And anyone who calls for throwing money at a challenge to Joe Lieberman when the Dems desperately need it elsewhere (not to mention the cover he can -- and does -- occasionally provide on the right) -- well, with friends like those, it's no wonder you're not in power.

Do we really desperately need it elsewhere? I haven't been following this closely, but I thought that we had raised as much or more money (what with all the new internet money) as the Republicans this last election cycle. Our problem now is how to spend it most effectively. Kos thinks that not enough is spent on long-shot races (for the eminently sensible reasons posted above), and directs his fundraising in that direction. He's not the only fundraiser -- lots still gets spent on higher-odds races.

(And if you think Joe Lieberman does the Democratic Party any good by providing cover on the right.... well, I believe you're mistaken. We don't think any the better of the Republican Party generally because Olympia Snowe calls herself one.)


1. I think people want Richard Blumenthal to run; go look at his resume - I was pretty sure I was straight till I saw it. I'm hard pressed to see any negative outcome from his inclusion in the Senate. (I have no idea if he has any interest; I've just seen idle speculation on the web about it).

2. I'm not sure how wanting Lieberman out if you're a Dem is any different that Pubs threatening Spectre if exercised free will. It's called party discipline, and we need it a hell of a lot more than you guys do at the moment.

I think the difference is that you look at Lieberman, see policies you (as a Pub) like, and wonder how anyone could be mad at him. I look at Lieberman, see lockstep idiocy for the wrong party, and wonder how anyone that old can reach his own ankles so easily. Different perspectives yield different responses, I guess.

Yes, everyone please mock the people who supported candidates outside the 0.01% of races that are competitive. Your mockery will change the face of politics.

Atrios says that it's Paul Newman vs the Ninja. I'm not thrilled by the idea.

sorry, says the buzz is.

Rolling over in laughter, really, Joe is beloved in his home state of Connecticut. I do enjoy the DKos paper cuts though, as a proud, a very proud member of the VRWC.

And to think of all those Dems who wanted McCain as your VP candidate (had to make some abortion pledge or something like that, speaking of that is anyone going to post on the "cattle futures" Senator's recent comments on reaching out?).

Iron Lungfish -

Re Linc Chafee - I like him and have voted for him as well, but I must say that he won't get my vote this time unless he runs as a Democrat. I kind of doubt the RI GOP can run a competitive candidate that can beat him in the primary and go on to win the general.

Voting the party line, a "lever voter" no doubt.

Timmy - a couple of thoughts. Note that I'm talking tactics and politics, not any grand vision. It's probably in the national Democratic Party's interest to put some pressure on Joe from the left to keep him on the reservation a little more often. Likewise, in RI, it may be time for Democratic voters to abandon their support for centrist Republicans given the quite apparent lack influence that these centrists have on shaping the Republican legislative agenda.

Or not.

Might I suggest, that the Kossites amongst you, go look at the issues the GOP faced in 52, left engagement, middle containment and right isolation, picking Ike over Taft, well priceless for a bipartisian geopolitical view of the world.

eh Jerry, when you take your Senate oath are you pleadging allegiance to party or country.

JFTR, Joe doesn't need the National Democratic Party to get reelected in the "Constitution State".

Speaking of that, in my old home state, Colorado, there is a new Democratic Senator, prolife, progun and a practicing Roman Catholic. Now what are you going to do about him? Just asking.

Since I said that I was talking about tactical considerations for the party, WTF does your comment have to do with the point? Or, should I conyinue the snarkfest by asking, since there's a similar oath for the House, who was Tom DeLay pledging allegiance to?

since there's a similar oath for the House

Well certainly the three GOP Congressman (one is a women) from CT haven't taken an oath to Delay. You have to expand your sources.

As for WTF, please go after Joe maybe you can drive him from the party. The VRWC would certainly embrace Joe in CT. And yes Joe would win hands down no matter the party.

Timmy, you're steadfastly ignoring my initial point. Similar to the way that the Republican Party takes their periodic shots across the bow of folks like Specter and McCain, I would expect that a primary challenge to Lieberman would serve a similar purpose. Feel free to continue chortling, however.

I heart Paul Newman.

Maybe it's as simple as Moulitsas laying the groundwork for a "consulting" contract with Lieberman's challenger -- no politics involved, just money.

Maybe it's as simple as Moulitsas laying the groundwork for a "consulting" contract with Lieberman's challenger -- no politics involved, just money.

No offense, but it doesn't sound like you know much of anything about Markos.

I know he had a consulting contract with Dean -- why not another politician, or is he really such a paragon, Catsy? And is it so unrealistic to believe his star will rise if Dean holds the DNC pursestrings? But you're right -- I doon't know him well enough to call him "Markos"; in fact, I've never even met the guy.

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