Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National GOP Pulls Plug on House Challengers

National GOP Pulls Plug on House Challengers

The Republican National Committee is pulling its money out of challenger races to shore up suddenly endangered incumbents, reports the Politico.

In 2006, veteran Republicans Gil Gutknecht in Minnesota, Jim Leach in Iowa and Jim Ryun in Kansas suddenly found themselves in tough reelection fights. By the time the party saw what was happening, it was already too late.

And thus it is this year, as the GOP moves resources.In Iowa, that's going to mean, if anything, Rep. Tom Latham, who has a race on his hands in the 4th District against Becky Greenwald. National Republicans don't have much invested in the other races, and the Latham-Greenwald race is the only one in the state that's on the national handicapper's lists (though still near the bottom.)

Democrat Rob Hubler is running a spirited race against Steve King, the other Republican incumbent, but the district lines strongly favor King.

In the 2nd District, Mariannette Miller-Meeks is an energetic and very visible opponent to Dave Loebsack, but she was never the pick of the RNC. They're the ones who recruited Peter Teahen, but the base rejected him in the primary (his donation to Democrat Julie Thomas in her 2002 race against Leach was probably the fatal blow. "Support ALL Republicans" is a big meme on the GOP side; unlike most lefties, I regularly read the Republican blogs.)

Of course, Loebsack wasn't on the Dem's national priority lists in 2006 until... well, until after he won. But he was swimming with the national tide, not against it. And the fact that Leach has enthusiastically and actively been campaigning for Obama doesn't help the Republican who's trying to win his seat back.

In the Des Moines-based 3rd District, Kim Schmett looks like an abandoned backup plan, positioned for a serious race if Ed Fallon had knocked off Leonard Boswell in the Democratic primary.

And in the 1st District, the race has descended to the point that Dave Hartsuch is calling John McCain too pro-gay. Seriously. Hartsuch has said he was not invited to Saturday's McCain rally in Davenport because he disagreed with McCain on the definition of traditional marriage. The Hartsuch campaign, and the Christopher Reed Senate campaign, seem to be focused now more on winning position in the ongoing internal battle within the Republican Party of Iowa than on their opponents.

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