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September 16, 2006

Werewolf Picks 2006

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

With the 2006 elections approaching, I thought I'd lay out the Democratic House campaigns I've been giving money to. So far this year I've only given money in House races, partly because Million Buck Chuck has won us a huge fundraising advantage in the Senate.  Winning one chamber will be great, just for subpoena power, and we're closest in the House.  By the way, if you'd like to donate through my humorously named ActBlue page, I'll be quite pleased!

The candidate I've given the most money to is Gary Trauner, who's running for the at-large seat in Wyoming against Barbara Cubin. Now I can see you're thinking -- Wyoming? The second-reddest state in the country? Yeah, but the thing is that Cubin is actually quite vulnerable. In 2004, she won the state with 55% of the vote while Bush got 69%. And that was against a candidate she outspent 945K to 373K.  She only got 60% of the vote in the GOP primary this year against a dude whom she outraised 25 to 1.  Gary's close in the money race -- at last check, he was only down 233K to 206K in cash on hand. Very popular governor Dave Freudenthal (D), who is up for re-election this year, may also have coattails. CQ has recently changed their rating on the race to "Leans Republican", two notches from their previous "Safe Republican" rating. In May polling, Cubin led only 47-43, with a 47% disapproval rating.

Gary's views on issues are pretty good, especially given what you'd expect in Wyoming -- he's pro-choice, and his support of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is admirable. There are two additional things that I like about funding a Wyoming race. First, these are cheap races, so your dollar will go a long way. Second, since there's only one House seat, Congressmen have little competition to move up when a Senate seat becomes open. Gary's only 47, so if Freudenthal takes the first shot, we may have two Democratic Senators from Wyoming in the future.

The other Mountain West Democrat I'm giving to is Larry Grant of Idaho. (Yes, the third-reddest state by 2004 standards.) His opponent, Bill Sali, seems to have some problems. Sali won the primary with 26% of the vote in a 6-way race. To quote the Republican Speaker of the House in Idaho, "That idiot is just an absolute idiot. He doesn’t have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body. And you can put that in the paper." I've read other accounts in which his fellow Idaho legislators argue about how high a window they'd like to throw him out of. I really don't know what's at the root of all this, but it's resulted in a bizarre little poll where Grant is ahead 22-14, with a big majority of voters undecided. Lots of the West-specific arguments I've made for Trauner apply here too -- it's a cheap race in a state with two Congressmen. The only real reason I'm reluctant to give more money here is that it might not be so bad for us if Bill Sali were loosed on the House GOP caucus. Maybe he'd give them as much trouble as he gave Idaho Republicans.

The third person I've donated to is the one with the best shot at winning -- Darcy Burner from Washington. Recent polling has her leading 49-46. She's a solid progressive from a district that went 51% for Kerry in 2004. This is probably going to be a more expensive race than the other two, though, so your money may not have as big an impact.

But part of me is ridiculously thrilled at the idea of having Darcy Burner in Congress -- specifically, that part of me that gets all big and strong and furry during the full moon. You see, she was a co-chair of the Harvard-Radciffe Science Fiction Association a couple years before I came to campus. Those are the same good folks with whom I watched Buffy and played RPGs and ran around campus smeared in blue body paint and howling like a wolf as a modern re-imagining of an ancient pagan ritual.* So I hope you'll understand if I send a little of my money that way.

*note to Reichert oppo researchers: I have absolutely no evidence that Darcy herself did any of these things.  Heck, I didn't even know she was one of us until somebody mentioned it on the HRSFA email list a couple days ago.  Oh, and while I'm on the Harvard name-dropping note, let me mention that I once studied for an exam on Poets and Poetry in the Celtic Literary Tradition with Ben Rahn, co-founder of ActBlue.  Good guy, and very smart.  Fun class, too. 

September 16, 2006 | Permalink


Watching Buffy and playing RPGs might be a plus in her district, if you can get all the MS employees to vote.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Sep 16, 2006 12:15:57 PM

I've had the same thought about Sali - at least if he wins, he's not going to be helpful to his party at all. The guy can't wrap his head around the idea that laws have to be constitutional and they can't be passed by the force of his will alone.

But then again, I like seeing Republicans dumping money into a state they never had to before. And even so, campaigning in Idaho is cheap. Fewer people to reach and cheaper media in which to do it. Democrats are likely to get a lot of bang for their buck in districts like ID-01. (Full disclosure: I live there.)

Posted by: Sara | Sep 16, 2006 12:37:11 PM

In light of the discussion we had in April about West vs. South...

...I heart you today. :)

Posted by: Brittney | Sep 16, 2006 2:24:30 PM

Nick - I hope so too.

Sara - I see! Do you have any more info on Sali? I'm curious to learn more details about this.

Brittney - Thanks. I still think my old view is right on presidential elections, because there are lots more electoral votes in the South, and there's more strong Southern cultural identification in this country than Western.

But I take these things on a case-by-case basis, and looking at the evidence, it looks to me like the places where our dollars can be most effective this cycle are in the West. Maybe some of your arguments from before explain why the Republican candidates are so weak in the polls (though it could also be candidate-specific things like what Sara was telling us about Sali).

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Sep 16, 2006 3:40:10 PM

Oh, and by the way, thanks to whoever gave $50 to each of these people! I feel all Atrios-like now, driving campaign contributions.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Sep 16, 2006 3:41:44 PM

Well Neil, your advice is good and not very much out there.

I must say, I am rather disappointed in the blogosphere's coverage of house races. 80% of the attention seems to go to 7 Senate races. Now understandably it's easier to cover 7 things in detail than 50 races (and senate races are much less often lopsided), but still!

Most analysts, especially bearish-Democratic ones, think the edge in this election is whether or not Dems will pick up the House, and the Senate is out of reach. For that reason, I would LOVE to hear more about the specifics of many house races (I can't believe I didn't know a hrsfen was running one of them!), and less on the Senate stuff.

Posted by: Tony v | Sep 16, 2006 4:53:24 PM

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