The Campaign Spot

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

How Parker Griffith Will Haunt Democrats Late Next Year


So here’s a thought on how Parker Griffith’s defection will come back to haunt Democrats.

Let’s think ahead to mid-to-late 2010. The outlook for Democrats in the House is roughly what it is now — somewhere between rough and horrific. You’re in charge of the DCCC, and you’ve got too many vulnerable incumbents to defend and not enough cash to go around.

Your committee spent more than $1.4 million to elect Parker Griffith in 2008, only to watch him turn into a Republican twelve months later. When he entered Congress, he was talking about “the need for a government that can intervene in national problems before they become incurable.” Now he’s saying, “I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our doctors, our patients and will have unintended consequences far beyond what we know today. As a doctor and as a Republican I plan to once again oppose this measure and hope that we can defeat this bill that is a major threat to our nation.”

So how much cash do you spend to save either of the perpetually endangered Democrats from Georgia, John Barrow (lifetime ACU rating of 41) or Jim Marshall (47.44)? Or Health Shuler in North Carolina (34)?

Idaho’s Walt Minnick, Alabama’s Bobby Bright, and Mississippi’s Gene Taylor all voted against the Democratic majority on stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health-care reform. The GOP intends to make top-tier targets of all of them.

It’s no surprise that the most conservative Democrats are often the most vulnerable; often they’re representing districts that are equally inclined to elect a Republican. If you’re the DCCC, do you expend more cash to save these most vulnerable members, who are also the ones most tempted to switch parties? Or do you put them at the back of the line?

On paper, if your mission is to preserve as large a Democratic House majority as possible, you write those checks. But the netroots, among others, will wonder why they’re being asked to help Democrats who are never there for them on the tough votes
. . . and they’ll now wonder how many Griffiths lurk in these dark-red districts, willing to change parties once they determine the party’s national agenda is too much for them.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mitt Romney , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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