Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trouble for GOP in congress?

While yesterday's special election in Illinois was drown out by the news of Obama's victory in Wyoming, there certainly are reasons for the GOP to be scared of their congression prospects this fall. Democrat Bill Foster defeated Republican Jim Oberweis in the special election to replace Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House. Dennis Hastert announced shortly after the begining of the 110th Congress that he would be retiring, and decided last fall to resign before completing his final term.

The Republicans should be scared about this win for the Democrats for three reasons. This was a reliably GOP district stretching from the western cusp of Chicago to the banks of the Mississippi River. Congressman-elect Foster won this district by a narrow margin of 52% of the vote, but even a narrow margin of victory for a Democrat in a GOP district like this one is impressive. This is a seat that was held for more than twenty years by a staunch conservative. Former Speaker Hastert holds the record of being the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House. This former GOP powerhouse's district has just gone to the Democrats.

The second reason that the GOP should be scared are the issues of the special election. Bill Foster did not run as a conservative Democrat; he ran opposed to the war in Iraq saying that he would be a reliable anti-war vote. Oberweis seemed to counter with a message claiming that the surge is working. John McCain, who lent some of his time and money to this campaign, is running his campaign for president based on the success of the surge and possible victory in Iraq. If this message is no longer resonating in reliable GOP districts, then where will it work on the campaign trail?

The third reason that the Republicans should be scared is that the fundraising advantage that the Democrats already hold in the DCCC will undoubtedly only be bolstered by a victory in GOP territory. Minority leader Boehner has already told his fellow house members to "get off their asses" and start fundraising. Looks like John Boehner's dream of becoming Speaker of the House is slowly slipping through his fingers doesn't it?

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