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June 07, 2006

Our Inner Schweitzer

Yesterday's election results provide a pretty good roadmap for Democrats as to how to win in the fall and in 2008. Taylor Marsh, guest blogging over at firedoglake, says what we learned from Tester's win and the generally low turnout amongst Democrats yesterday (which was at least a part of the reason for Busby's narrow loss), is that "it's time for pollitians to find his or her own inner Schweitzer. Amen. Here's more of what Marsh said:

Finally, to those who derided Brian Schweitzer’s way of running campaigns in 2004 and labeled him as a fluke, Tester’s victory puts that to rest. Schweitzer, as we see, was the sharp tip of the spear, ripping through the thin veneer that Democratic Party insiders have clung to through election loss after election loss after election loss. Schweitzer - and now Tester (the guy who carried Schweitzer’s agenda through the legislature) - are showing those in their state and throughout the nation that the way to really be a political leader is to reject the D.C. insiders who preach caution; ignore the naysayers who seek to turn politics into bland ad campaigns for soap; and embrace an in-your-face politics that tells people you are dead serious about cleaning up our government.

This is not to say that Busby's campaign was a failure in any way. Chris Bowers at MyDD provides this perspective:

In 2004, Busby lost the CA-50 by 22.0%. Today, it looks like she will lose by around 4.5%. And that was with the NRCC spending $4.5M on the race. If Republicans want to spin losing 18 points after spending $4.5M of committee money as a good thing, go for it. After all, spin is basically why they spent so much money on this race. By blowing their wad in a solidly Republican district, they wanted to change the media narrative on the election in their favor. It will probably work, given how subservient and generally inaccurate the media tends to be when it comes to Republicans and elections. In reality, for a Republican candidate to pull 49.5% of the vote in a district with 44.5% Republican registration is shocking. Given those numbers, Bilbray probably managed all of 20% of the vote among independents.

No matter what the media says, no Democrat should be mistaken about this result. First, this is a huge, seismic shift in our favor that bodes extremely well for November. If we receive an 18% shift nationwide, we will win the House easily. If Republican candidates are pulling only 20% of the independent vote, the Indycrat realignment is still on.

UPDATE: Kos has a post up this morning on the race. His take: Busby ran on competence, not as a strong progressive. Her opponent, Brian Bilbray, won in a heavily Republican district - RUNNING AS A PROGRESSIVE!

Nevertheless, it's looking like Democratic turnout was low. Republican turnout was low as well but we assumed that would happen. What inspiration have they got besides covering their leaders' collective asses? But the Democratic base has been wildly energized by Republican failures and we have mistakenly thought that the bulk of Democrats would be as well. Not so much. Bowers again:

At the same time, this is not as good as we could have done. The situation for Republicans is so bad right now, that even our huge leads in the generic ballot hide what Paul Rosenberg pointed out: we should be doing better. Just because we are winning does not mean we are using winning strategies. Our ten-point advantage in the generic ballot should be fifteen. The eighteen point shift we saw in CA-50 should have been twenty-five. Bilbray will win with under 50% of the vote, and there was low turnout relative to past California primaries. Clearly, there was an opportunity for us to do more.

The good news for us in this state is that we have three great Democratic Congressional candidates who have their own inner Schweitzer - Darcy Burner in the 8th, Peter Goldmark in the 5th and Richard Wright in the 4th. All three are saying what needs to be said in their own way, being authentic in the process. Wright may not be a firebrand like Darcy and Goldmark, but he is totally willing to talk about the failures of the Republicans in a very red region of the state. You can listen to audio-clips of the three of three speaking at last week's Democratic Convention here.

Gregoire seems to have found some of her inner Schweitzer in the last few days with her attacks on the Pharmacy Board and her stand on making it the individual Guard's choice as to whether or not to deploy to the Mexican border. This is welcome. Governor Gregoire governs excellently. She is extraordinarily skilled in bringing people together and resolving long-standing, difficult issues. Her ideas on education and healthcare and energy are progressive and, as they are implemented, will put us on the forefront of what is happening in the nation. Her challenge has been to communicate the ideas about why we need to go in these directions. This requires bringing more of her inner Scweitzer out.

Which brings us to Maria Cantwell, who seems to compartmentalize her issues. She can find her inner Schweitzer on the issues that are dear and familiar to her. And then she stops when it gets to issues that she is either less familiar with or just doesn't wish to engage on. At most times in our history, this would be enough to be considered a fine Senator. And indeed, Maria is a fine Senator. But we are in a time of transformation and we need transformational leadership. Would that she could tap into that inner Schweitzer and bring it to the forefront.

Lastly, it is up to each of us to find our own inner Schweitzer, not to leave it up to our leaders. This transformation is as much about our ability to find our democratic voices as it is about our Democratic leaders' ability to find their voices.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 7, 2006 at 08:12 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink

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