Ellen Tauscher Weekly, V2.01
On St. Patrick’s Day 2005, then Congressman Rob Portman was tapped by President George Bush as U.S. Trade Envoy. The progressive blogosphere paid attention within two hours and the very next day, Swing State Project publisher DavidNYC wrote the following on the front page of Daily Kos:
Portman’s district is very Republican – it voted for Bush over Gore by a 63-35 margin in 2000. I’d say this makes it extremely unlikely that we’d win this seat. As I understand things, the most Republican district represented by a Democrat is PA’s 17th, where Tim Holden sits. His constituents went for Bush over Gore 56-42, but the district was much Dem-friendlier when Holden was first elected. In any event, a 63-35 margin is quite a bit worse.
But I don’t think this is only bad news, and I don’t think we should write this seat off. Rather, I think an off-year special election (which will likely take place either in August or November) for a seat we have little chance of capturing is the perfect time to get creative and try out new ideas.
As Atrios is fond of observing, being in the opposition can be fun. Similarly, it can also be freeing. I’d love to see local, grassroots/netroots-type Dems get behind a candidate willing to be bold – to do things like Jeff Seemann’s highly successful “Campaign Manager for a Day” and whatever daring ideas lie beyond. We can use this race to experiment – to see what works and what doesn’t – in plenty of time for the midterm elections next year.
Back then, the OH-02 race had all the numbers going against it, but the initial things that made it worth fighting for were the facts that the major national bloggers were willing to link to good stuff on the race, some pioneers were willing to fight to the point of (actual) potential lawsuits, and there was a vacuum effect because the GOP thought they had it easy and DC Dems indicated little interest in getting involved.
So we fought and learned a great deal. Not only did we fight, but we played the expectations game so effectively that our loss dominated the national media as a win. And the netroots decision to fight despite the odds invigorated the local grassroots to the point where in 2006 Vic Wulsin did better than the Hackett results that were a nationwide story. But nationally, many of the tactics refined during the Ohio 2005 Special Election were used successfully across the country during the 2006 general election. I would suggest that we think of the inevitable primary in California’s 10th district along the same lines.
It makes sense for the netroots to decide to fight in CA-10 — against Ellen Tauscher in the primary.
The netroots may win or may lose, but because of the support the local blogs will receive from national supporters, we will be able to test and pioneer new tactics that Democrats everywhere can re-deploy against Republicans in the general election.
While many Californians are prominent national bloggers, there has never been a single race to force the teamwork that in other states has resulted in a unified group that coordinates offline to win online.
Another benefit is that high profile early races draw people from around the country who believe in themselves to the point where they think they can be an asset in the all-hands-on-deck battles. During Hackett’s campaign, a young volunteer drove to Ohio from Florida because she knew deep down inside she had game and was looking for a place to prove it (she is now the chief blogger for the DNC).
So let’s take Web 2.0 out for a test drive in California’s 10th Congressional District. Let’s test and if successful refine the tactics we need to redeploy during the 2008 general election in races nationwide. We have the talent, the national bloggers’ links will give us the platform, and even if we don’t win the primary we will help win more seats for Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2008 if we decide to test the next generation of online politics against Ellen Tauscher.