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Why the House Matters

Posted: 09/25/2012 10:06 am

With just over 40 days until Election Day, conventional wisdom about who's leading and who's trailing has been turned upside down. Mitt Romney has truly become his own worst enemy and it looks like even his billionaire buddies might not be able to save him now. The US Senate looks poised to stay in Democratic control because of a crop of unusually strong Democratic challengers.

For those of us working in the trenches, this shift in conventional wisdom isn't surprising. We've been working to get to this place and we won't be quitting any time soon. But we've got one more surprise some of the Washington watchers are only just beginning to see this cycle: The US House.

Just last week, Dylan Matthews wrote in the Washington Post how a new model shows that Democrats have a 74% chance of taking back the House. That's not just some small concern for Republicans who know that they could lose control of all branches of government. Karl Rove's group -- Crossroads GPS plan to spend over $10 million dollars in House races across the country to keep the Republican advantage. This will be the first House ad buy in this cycle for this GOP behemoth. If Karl Rove is paying attention -- shouldn't you be?

Just think of how the last two years have played out. Jobs Bill -- no votes in the House. Affordable Care Act -- the House voted 33 times to repeal an existing, despite the widely agreed upon understanding that such a repeal would get nowhere. While the public views inefficacy in Congress with disdain, the Republican leadership sees it as an accomplishment -- and as a weapon to use against the President's re-election.

Electing President Obama and defending a Democratically controlled Senate is no small feat, but to truly move this country forward we have to do more. Karl Rove and his buddies have clearly moved to consolidate losses in the House. Do Democrats have a plan to make the best use of this opportunity? Yep, we do.

Much like our candidates running for Senate seats, Democrats have a number of strong progressives running in tight, but winnable races. We need 25 seats to take control of the House, and we have dozens of progressives running to make sure we have a shot.

Raul Ruiz, the son of a poor farm worker who worked his way up to earn multiple degrees from Harvard and become an ER Doctor grew up in Coachella, CA. In the newly redrawn 36th District, he's only 3 points away from unseating Mary Bono Mack, a GOP darling and longtime incumbent in the House (and yes, she's married to Connie Mack IV running for Senate in Florida, where she spends much of her time). He's so close to an upset that the DCCC shelled out $126,000 to air a new ad saying Bono Mack looks out for special interests and fits right in in Washington. While Democrats have always looked to pick up this seat -- change is in the air for those in the Coachella Valley.

Another Tea Party Republican struggling to regain his incumbency advantage is Mike Coffman in Colorado's 6th district. Coffman, who had a Romney-like gaffe at a fundraiser earlier this year saying Obama was not an American at heart, is in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi. As Coffman's favorability is in the tank (only 36% of voters view him favorably) Joe Miklosi has moved up in the polls and continues to gain momentum. The district is friendly for Democrats -- President Obama received 54% of the vote in 2008. I hope Mike is good at packing, he's got only a few more months in Washington if Joe continues to gain momentum.

Looking to the East democratic candidate and former congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is back and polling better than ever. Her opponent, Frank Guinta a Tea Party Republican favors ending medicare for a voucher program, is down in the polls. While Carol Shea-Porter leads only by 6, the Republican mess that is Mitt Romney is not helping Carol's opponent -- recent polls show Obama leading in New Hampshire by 2.

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about the knock out currently happening in Florida -- Rep. David Rivera. David's another Republican candidate who is embroiled in controversy and has an ongoing investigation by the FBI over tax evasion and for possibly bankrolling another candidate. Earlier this year, Florida's 26th congressional district seemed like a sure win for Rivera. Democrats is DC didn't help their case by recruiting one terrible candidate after another to take on Rivera. Progressives weren't about to lose this seat just because Washington insiders couldn't figure it out. Finally, progressive favorite Joe Garcia jumped in without waiting for the consent of the DCCC. Garcia whipped his campaign into shape, overcame a sketchy Primary, and now Rivera is trailing Garcia by 11 points. When learning more about the investigations surrounding Rivera, that number balloons to 13%. Rivera better be running scared. With only 40 some days left before election day, there's not much time for this campaign to turn around.

Those are just 4 seats that look like strong pickups for Democrats this November. There's a long road ahead and we need to pick up 25 or more seats to regain control in the House, but the closer we get to Election Day, the stronger Democrats look. It's time for Democrats - inside and outside of Washington -- to start paying attention to the House.

 

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