Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boswell votes Blue Dog on Patriot Act

Boswell votes Blue Dog on Patriot Act

Bleeding Heartland notes yesterday's vote on Patriot Act extension, where Leonard Boswell b\voted with Steve King, Tom Latham and the GOP majority and against Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and most House Democrats.

Look at the Democratic yeas (in italics here) and you'll see a who's who of the diminished Blue Dog caucuss: Ross (AR), Kind, Peterson, Kissell, Shuler, Boswell.

The defection on an issue so important to the Democratic primary base, right when we're drawing maps, tells me Boz is more worried about a general election against Tom Latham than about a primary from Christie Vilsack. It's a poor decision, both on the merits of the issue and because it won't actually gain him any votes.

Option One for Iowa Democrats should be gently, or firmly, persuading Boswell that his day is done. (This post is in the "firmly" category.) But so far Leonard shows no signs of budging. What are the former first lady's options?

Option 2) Primary him anyway. In which case, expect Boswell to get ugly like he did with Ed Fallon

Option 3) Run out of Mt. Pleasant, which splits the eastern Iowa party instead of the central Iowa party. Iowa needs to leave the no women club with Mississippi, but we've got three House Dems to fit into three potentially winnable districts (there's a Steve King seat no matter what). Who gets shoved aside: the fund-raising machine who's on a fast track to leadership, the progressive giant-killer who knocked off a 30 year incumbent, or the guy whose retirement we've been speculating about for four cycles?

Option 4) Run against Latham in 2014 after he beats Boswell. Iowa Democrats, with the possible exception of the Vilsacks, seem content to let this happen rather than hurt Boswell's feelings, because Leonard is such a nice guy.

In my book, nice guys don't endorse domestic espionage. And I want to come out of this with a delegation of Braley, Loebsack, Vilsack and whoever wins a Steve King-Tom Latham celebrity deathmatch (which would be King). But I'm just a crazy blogger in a hat.

I've made a deliberate decision, despite the temptation of all that beautiful data, NOT to draw congressional maps. I've been through two of these cycles before, and learned that nothing I say or do changes the eventual map I see. I'm looking at numbers, of course, but saving the serious crunching for actual released maps.

(The most important thing I learned from covering the 1991 map as a journalist: the attention will be on the congressional map, which is big enough for a relative amateur like a journalist to understand, and will be the focus of the debate and the public rhetoric. But what's more important to passage of the package is the legislative map. It's not a party line thing, it's the legislators looking at their own turf.)

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