Tom DeLay: 63% "Not Good Enough"
A mere two days after the primary, Richard Pombo had a profoundly lazy reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle trumpeting his spin:
Rather than proof of weakness, Rep. Richard Pombo's 62 percent- to-32 percent primary victory over former Rep. Pete McCloskey just as likely signaled how strong the seven-term Tracy Republican will run in November. […]Interesting.
"People can dream all they want but it was a pretty convincing win," said Wayne Johnson, Pombo's chief political consultant.
In a district with 44% Republican registration, 37% Democratic registration, and 15% decline to state, Pombo’s handlers spin 62% of the Republican primary vote as “a pretty convincing win.”
And yet, two days earlier, as Tom DeLay was preparing to bid adieu to Congress, USA Today had this assessment of the factors which led to his resignation:
The savvy politician, whose ability to count votes was well known, said he was taken aback when he won the Republican primary in March with 63% of the vote.Now, DeLay’s TX-22 district has the following registration breakdown, according to Ned Lampson’s website:
"That's not good enough," he said, estimating it would have cost up to $5 million to get re-elected to the suburban Houston seat he first won in 1984.
Forty-two percent identify themselves as Republicans, 27 percent as Democrats and 23 percent as independents.Okay. Obviously, somebody’s not leveling with us here. In a district with a 15% Republican advantage, DeLay says that 63% in the primary is ”not good enough” to get re-elected in November and resigns; meanwhile, Pombo's spokesman, in a district with a 7% Republican advantage says 62% is “a pretty convincing win” which “signaled how strong the seven-term Tracy Republican will run in November.” But then, by now regular readers of this site know that bullshit is Richard Pombo’s specialty.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks DeLay’s take on the numbers is the more honest one. On the same day the Chronicle was parroting Pombo’s bullshit, Hank Shaw of the Stockton Record presented a more critical assessment:
"I think a 2-to-1 win is fine," [Pombo campaign manager Carl] Fogliani said. […]Finally, I’ll leave you with this thoughtful analysis from a Say No To Pombo reader (with some minor edits):
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato -- one of the nation's foremost political odds-makers -- said he stayed up all night watching the 11th District returns. He scoffed at Fogliani's notion.
"Oh, please -- make me laugh out loud," Sabato said. "That was a very poor showing."
Quite frankly, McCloskey ran a somewhat quixotic campaign for the Republican nomination. You really can't argue -- beyond his attacks on Pombo's ethics -- that he had a compelling REPUBLICAN PRIMARY message. McCloskey ran like a Democrat, in a Republican primary. In his only debate with Pombo he bashed George Bush. Now, I happen to agree with his attacks on George Bush, but you can't argue that was a smart message for a Republican primary. Even polls that show Bush's job approval in the 20s will show job approval among Republicans in the 70s.And that’s the bottom line of this race. Pombo can be beaten. But he knows he's in the political fight of his life this year, and he’s going to raise a boatload of money to attack his Democratic challenger in the next five months. Jerry McNerney’s grassroots supporters are a powerful force for change, but shoe leather alone is not going to be enough to turn out Richard Pombo in 2006. It’s going to take money -- a lot of money.
McCloskey's ideological and substantive disconnect with his primary audience is why I would argue that his vote was an anti-Pombo vote -- not a pro-McCloskey vote -- and therefore a vote that will transfer to McNerney.
On the low turnout issue -- I would again argue the low turnout proves Pombo's weakness. Those Republicans who did show up last Tuesday were likely the hardest of the hard core Republicans -- the real party faithful. Now, if the very core of Pombo's party is giving 38% of his votes to someone else, he has a problem.
And again, as I argued above, the low turnout proves that the Republican base is depressed. That certainly isn't the way I'd want to be going into the general election.
The notion that California Republicans are going gin up the troops in a national environment dominated by George Bush's historically low job approval, an erratic Fed creating a jittery market, high gas prices and an unpopular quagmire in Iraq just doesn't ring true or right to me. Maybe, but I don't buy it. Democrats have gotten so used to losing that we often can't see political opportunity when it's staring us in the face.
One other thought -- if McCloskey hadn't been hit with stories about returning money to a suspected terrorist the weekend before the vote, he might have done three or four points better, dropping Pombo under 60% district-wide. My bet is there would have been a completely different spin by the press. But the electoral fundamentals would have been exactly the same. Large anti-Pombo vote and weak Republican turnout.
It is a long way off until November, but McNerney's problem isn't Pombo's vulnerability; it's lack of money. And that is truly a problem.
The SNTP Act Blue page offers you the opportunity to throw some financial support McNerney’s way. And please think about signing up for the monthly payment method -- it’s a relatively painless way to help save the world from the forces of evil.