Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bayh: On To New Hampshire & Into The Fray

Bayh: On To New Hampshire & Into The Fray
For Howey Political Report March 23, 2006

Democrats hoping to tarnish President Bush have once again managed instead to focus more attention on their own party's shortcomings.

The call by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) on March 13 to censure the president for secretly ordering warrantless wiretaps further divides the Democratic Party by spotlighting disagreement between moderates and those eager to bring the current administration to an ignoble end.

As Indiana democrat Sen. Evan Bayh and others have pointed out it's not even clear Bush broke any law. Still, the resolution's loudest supporters include some of the most popular bloggers on the net, and they have unambiguously labeled all opposed or silent on the issue as cowardly, enabling DINOs (Democrats In Name Only). Only two of 48 democrat senators have signed as co-sponsors to S. Res. 398, Barbara Boxer of California and Thomas Harkin of Iowa.

Republicans are doubly pleased. Not only did the resolution create intraparty flak for potential Democratic presidential contenders like Bayh and Hillary Clinton, but it also provided raw material the GOP used to motivate Republican voters just as polls began to indicate even the faithful were becoming dissatisfied with party leadership.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey conducted before the resolution was introduced found Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to express high interest in the November midterms.

"Nobody knows what will transpire between now and November and how much intensity each party's voters will have," explained Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, "but as of now, Democrats have a pronounced intensity advantage and enough of one to probably outweigh the GOP organizational edge."

Observers from both parties said the Republicans probably will not find much leverage with the issue, although that hasn't stopped them from trying. Conservative pundits and GOP political operatives are happy to dwell on the fact that democrats have proposed to "give aid and comfort to the enemy" by censuring a wartime president. Yesterday's Investors Business Daily included an editorial entitled "If Democrats Win The House..." which stated, "Under a Democratic House, impeachment would be the judiciary panel's first order of business."

The Republicans "have sent an editorial on the censure attempt to 15 million contributors," according to resolution-supporter James Zogby of the Arab American Institute. "By warning the party faithful of what Democrats may do if they gain control of either Houses of Congress in November, Republicans hope to spur 2006 election fundraising."

On To New Hampshire

Bayh's opposition to the censure resolution, the flagging luster of the GOP brand, and prospects for Democratic victory in midterm elections are sure to be on the minds of those who will meet with the senator when he travels to New Hampshire Sunday and Monday. Such trips afford Bayh the chance to meet as many Democrats as possible in a state that prefers its politics up close and personal. One politically active New Hampshire native eager to learn more about Sen. Bayh recently explained to HPR, "We don't like to vote for someone unless we've had the opportunity to shake their hand."

Judging from his Sunday schedule, Indiana's junior senator is well acquainted with the concept. "Come listen to Senator Evan Bayh [speak about] the issues that are facing our country and about the power that young democrats have to make a difference by voting, working in the community, and running for office," reads the invite to a 10:15 a.m. brunch in Portsmouth with the New Hampshire Young Democrats.

Then, at 2 p.m. Bayh is slated to appear about 40 miles away in Manchester during a fete on behalf of Alderwoman Betsi Devries, and finally it's another 40-minute drive north to the Franklin Democratic Committee Spaghetti Dinner, a fundraiser for Jim Ryan and Peter Burling (tickets are $20 per person at the door).

Sen. Bayh generated publicity in Iowa last month when he pledged support to lawmakers there. "If we're going to have a strong national Democratic Party it's got to start at the grassroots level, in Statehouses, in the city halls, in the county courthouses," the senator told Mike Glover of the Associated Press. Bayh spokeswoman Meghan Keck explained to HPR in an email that the senator's support in both states "would include helping them raise money and campaigning with them or anything else they would find helpful."

As senator and possible presidential contender, Bayh lends a heightened level of interest to otherwise local venues. Appearances such as these may be good for the party but also are in keeping with an effort to establish roots that could one day blossom into a full-fledged primary campaign. Success this weekend depends on first impressions, which bodes well for a senator known for his ability to work a room and connect one-one-one with voters in individual encounters. How the people will react to Bayh's take on the controversial and often divisive issues in today's politics remains to be seen.


Blogger Marie said...

I have added your blog to Americans For Bayh blog roll!

Thank you for reporting on Senator Bayh!

2:18 PM  
Blogger DemoDan said...

It is ironic that in your cheerleading blog for Evan Bayh that you make reference to DINOs. There is no bigger DINO in the U.S. Senate than Evan Bayh. Evan Bayh is NOT Birch Bayh.

2:49 AM  

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