Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A History of Backing the Wrong Candidate

One of the biggest complaints leveled against Duckworth's entry into IL-06 hasn't been directed against her, but at the DCCC. It's no longer open for debate that the DCCC is involving itself under Emanuel's direction to an unprecidented extent in backing Duckworth. But the move by the DCCC to back "electable" candidates in favor of local candidates like Cegelis does have a history. And it's not a pretty one. From Roll Call (subscription required):
In recent years, the DCCC has had mixed results in races where it was perceived to have a favored nominee in a contested primary.

In the previous cycle, banker Christine Jennings (D) was the preferred candidate of national party leaders to take on Rep. Katherine Harris (R) in Florida’s 13th district. However, Jennings failed to win the Democratic primary, losing to attorney Jan Schneider, who had been the party’s nominee in 2002.

In 2002, the DCCC leaders took some heat for their open support of Bettendorf Mayor Anne Hutchinson (D) in Iowa’s 1st district primary. While she won the primary, she was defeated handily in the general election. That same year national Democrats’ preferred nominee in Pennsylvania’s 18th district also unexpectedly lost the primary.

In 2000, the last time the DCCC issued any formal primary endorsements, the party-backed candidate lost the primary in a neighboring western Pennsylvania district, setting up the GOP pickup of the seat that fall.

That same year, the party also suffered a major defeat when it endorsed against Fanwood Mayor Maryanne Connelly, who eventually won the Democratic primary in New Jersey’s 7th district.

One Democratic consultant observed that there already is more evidence of DCCC involvement in the 6th district race than in any previous contested primary in recent memory.

“I would say what’s happening in Illinois is outsized compared to what happened in any of those other races,” the consultant said. “Already they’ve done as much or more in a contested primary situation than I’ve ever seen.”

The part in bold (emphasis mine) is what concerns me. The DCCC's backing of Duckworth follows the same failed 'war hero' narrative that was completely destroyed by the GOP for both Kerry and Cleland, and has already been deemed 'breathtakingly cynical' in the Chicago Tribune for the DCCC's exploitation of Duckworth's "wounds."

I've written this before, but this lack of support for Cegelis sets up a lose/lose for the district Democrats:
If Duckworth runs and wins:
This will be a blow to Democrats in the district who have used the Cegelis campaign as a rallying point as they work to build the local Democratic party. Such a win will most likely be viewed as a hostile take over of the district by Chicago Democrats and have a lasting effect on those most active in the district, as a bitter primary will hurt a race in which every vote will be needed to win.

If Duckworth runs and loses:
Roskam will jump all over this and run with the "Cegelis' own party wouldn't support her" narrative. Just as was done to Dean in his primary, Roskam will use this to falsely paint Cegelis as radically on the fringe of her own party. The primary would be essentially a complete vote of no confidence by the Party for Cegelis, making what is already going to be a difficult race for any Democrat that much more difficult for her. How will Rahm and the DCCC support Cegelis then after working against her in the primary?

Either way the DCCC is going to waste resources that we need in the General, create division, and tick off the base, all in one swift move. And based on their past track record, I'm not not that confident anything good can come out of this other than for the likes of the GOP and Roskam.