Revving up their strategy of nationalizing the 2006 midterms around Republicans’ ethics troubles, House Democrats on Monday began firebombing local media with news releases that accuse specific GOP Members of voting at the behest of special-interest donors.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — in what is planned as an ongoing effort targeting districts with both vulnerable incumbent Republicans and strong GOP challengers — is publicizing the names of some Republican contributors, and, where possible, tying donations to votes cast on the House floor.
“These special-interest reports help to spell out exactly how huge corporations benefit as Republican incumbents leave middle class families behind,” said DCCC Communications Director Bill Burton. “As Republicans engage in constant pay-to-play politics, the DCCC is going to ensure that that they pay for their cynical special-interest politics.”
Carl Forti, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, encouraged the Democrats to go right ahead.
“If they want to throw stones in glass houses, let them,” Forti said. “The only thing they’ll succeed in doing is bringing themselves down as well.”
Each DCCC news release reads similarly, beginning: “From indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay to [targeted incumbent or challenger’s name], the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and the Congressional candidates they support are engaging in a nonstop pay-to-play culture of corruption in our nation’s Capitol.”
The news release then catalogues the third-quarter donations the targeted incumbent or challenger has received from energy and pharmaceutical companies, referring to the donors as “benefactors.” The DCCC missives list the amount they contributed as an “investment,” and the related votes cast by incumbents as “dividends” on that investment.
The initial blast targets a total of 10 Republican incumbents and challengers.
Among them: Jeff Lamberti (R), an Iowa state Senator who is seen as having a good chance of unseating Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa); and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), whom the Democrats believe is vulnerable now that New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D) has entered the House race.
The DCCC plans to provide the information to newspapers, radio stations and other media headquartered in the districts they are targeting, while also working with state Democratic Party affiliates and the campaigns of their Congressional candidates.
Forti was unimpressed with the Democratic strategy of trying to nationalize next year’s elections, saying Republicans are focused on running local races that are based on the unique political dynamic of each district.
“We have no intention of nationalizing House races, and I think our record proves that our strategy has been pretty successful,” Forti said.