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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Name ‘Pelosi,’ the Voldemort of Red House Districts



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Today’s Morning Jolt features a preview of the Benghazi hearings, praise for an NR colleague, and then last night’s big news . . . 

This Just In from South Carolina: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Hey, Democrats. You just spent a bundle and lost . . . to Mark Sanford.

The argument that we can’t learn anything about 2014 from an individual special House race is generally true. But Alex Roarty of National Journal — a.k.a. that insider, non-conservative publication that National Review staffers are often mixed up with — repeats my point from yesterday: Democrats put a lot of money and effort into this race, against a Republican candidate they thought was uniquely beatable. (And in fact, he was. But “uniquely beatable” doesn’t always mean you will beat him.)

Now we see all of that Democratic spending gained nothing: $1.2 million in donations to Colbert Busch, more than $929,000 on independent expenditures against Sanford . . . FLUSH!

And there is a lesson for 2014: Mark Sanford managed to overcome the electorate’s wariness about him by emphasizing that a vote for his opponent was a vote for Nancy Pelosi and the Obama agenda. Red-state and red-district Democrats have always had a tough balancing act, emphasizing how they’re not like those other Democrats; Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the end just wasn’t a talented enough candidate to pull that off. (In short, she wasn’t that talented a candidate at all. “The Solyndra of the South,” as Nathan Wurtzel summarized.)

Any remaining red-district Democrats really have to run hard from Pelosi from now until November 2014.

Moe Lane:

This should have gone to the Democrats; but, well, there’s that pesky albatross. May Nancy Pelosi stay House Minority Leader, well, forever. . . . If they can’t win House seats in R districts under these circumstances, they won’t win ‘em under more even ones.

Betsy Woodruff was at the victory party:

There will be lots of analysis in the days to come about what this election means, but one thing isn’t up for debate: Mark Sanford knows how to campaign, and his win here is due at least in part to his tireless canvassing and cheerful willingness to ask for the vote of anyone who would listen to him.

When he arrived at the victory party, Sanford was in full-on retail-politics mode. I followed the former governor on the campaign trail the day before the election and wrote about his perpetual handshaking and small-talking. Winning the election doesn’t seem to have tempered his pace. When he arrives at the party, he laps around the front of the building (which, a server tells me, is more crowded than it’s ever been), posing for pictures and hugging supporters.

Two things are different from the day before, though: First, he’s wearing a suit instead of stained khakis and busted-up shoes, and actually looks like someone who might belong in the halls of the Capitol. And second, he’s got his oldest son, Marshall, in tow. He looks around for his son every minute or two — when he loses sight of him, he asks the nearest staffer, “Where’d Marshall go?” and whenever he gets a chance, he introduces the 20-year-old to supporters who haven’t met him.

Mark Sanford’s sister, Sarah Sanford Rauch, isn’t far behind. She’s one of his veteran campaign volunteers, and she’s outspoken about her support for her embattled brother. I ask her how she feels.

“Exhausted,” she tells me. “It’s the toughest race I’ve ever been in. I’ve helped out on a bunch of races, but this is the toughest, by far.”

“You wake up every morning and you look at the newspaper and you wait to see what anvil is getting dropped on your head each day,” she adds.

Somebody else is feeling the headache this morning.

In other words, while Pelosi has always had a handful of members who were likely to stray, she can expect even less agreement from members like Jim Matheson of Utah (R+16), Nick Rahall of West Virginia (R+14), Mike McIntyre of North Carolina (R+12), John Barrow of Georgia (R+9), and Collin Peterson of Minnesota (R+6) — and perhaps Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona (R+4), Patrick Murphy of Florida (R+3), Pete Gallego of Texas (R+3), and Ron Barber of Arizona (R+3). Because if invoking Pelosi was key to Sanford overcoming the well-funded Colbert Busch, imagine how it will play in districts where the Republican doesn’t have Sanford’s baggage?


Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Nancy Pelosi , House Democrats , House Republicans


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