If House Dems had their way, it would be. Democratic observers have taken delighted note of the increasing number – three in the last week – of former GOP members running for their old seats. “Not only did President Bush and Congressional Republicans create the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, but now a bunch of former Republican members are trying to return to power and pursue the same failed agenda,” said Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to Congress.
In all eight former GOP members have announced or are considering bids for their old seats. Announced: Richard Pombo (CA-19), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Steve Pearce (NM-02), Charlie Bass (NH-02) and Steve Chabot (Oh-01). Considering: Bill Sali (ID-AL), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Mike Sodrel (IN-09). Honorable mention: Ethan Hastert – Denny’s son, who’s had to contend with the ghosts of his dad’s record in a bid to fill the former Speaker’s Illinois seat. Next thing you know, Tom DeLay will be running again (tangent: it’s going on five years, is DeLay’s case ever going to trial…?).
It’s not uncommon for members to run for their old seats: they have the name recognition, experience, fundraising contacts and an established record. In this case Dems are hoping that President George W. Bush remains the anvil around the former members’ necks this time around that he was the last two cycles. Sure, Bush isn’t the world’s most popular guy, but that case will be harder to make since he’ll have been out of office nearly two years by the time voters go to the polls. In at least one of these cases, the old culture of corruption taint will probably still have an impact: Pombo has a few (non-criminal) ties with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Others, like Charlie Bass who headed up the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, were simply swing district victims of anti-Republican waves and are hoping that the wave this year will flow in the other direction. “The only recycling being practiced are the pathetic talking points that Washington Democrats are once again turning to in order to divert attention from their big-government spending spree,” said Pail Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Unfortunately for them, voters are well aware that Democrats are the party in power and are determined to punish them for their failed agenda come Election Day.”
Certainly, Dems will take any and all opportunities they can: even the most conservative estimates show them losing 20 seats. And Bush proved a winner for them the last two cycles. Whether it works again remains to be seen: in this environment some recycling may be good for the GOP.