“You immediately understand why Reichert is so desperate to get a seat on the House Appropriations committee: trading earmarks for campaign contributions is his only chance of staying on a level playing field.“
Well just so you know it’s not just partisan speculation on my part, the Seattle Times’ Alicia Mundy, who at times appears infatuated with Auburn’s brawny ex-sheriff, picks up on this theme in a Letter from Washington headlined: “Earmarks tiff spells trouble for Reichert.”
He’s in a tough re-election race against Democrat Darcy Burner, and last week Reichert told CQ Today, a Capitol Hill newspaper, that he needs a seat on Appropriations “now,” and that less-vulnerable candidates can wait their turn.
A seat on a secondary “pork” committee might open Reichert to opposition campaign ads claiming that he is an old-style earmarker, while giving him little chance to direct real money back home.
Yeah, well, but when you’re as desperate as Dave, you take what you can get; even trading earmarks to out-of-district companies in exchange for lump sum contributions is a helluva lot easier than doing call time with constituents. But the question for the GOP leadership is not how desperate Reichert is for campaign cash, but rather, is he actually capable of taking advantage of an Appropriation’s seat in the first place? Given his anemic fundraising efforts thus far, one has to wonder what kind of leverage he has with his leadership — has he actually threatened to retire if denied, and would he actually follow through?
In 2006 House Republicans were forced to defend 21 open seats, compared to only 12 for the Democrats, an unbalanced playing field that surely factored into the Dems retaking the House for the first time since the Gingrich revolution of 1994. But in 2008 the GOP’s field position is dramatically worse, a lopsided 28 to 5 disadvantage… and it’s only February 2. Could Reichert make it number 29? That’s what some local pols are wondering, and if so it would be another big blow to Republican efforts to stave off further losses, especially given the DCCC’s $29 million to negative $1 million cash advantage over the NRCC.
It is hard to imagine the personal advantage to Reichert from exiting now versus rolling the dice on even an underfunded campaign, but he wouldn’t be the first Republican incumbent to have squeaked by in 2006, only to bow out this cycle in the face of a strong repeat-challenger. Either way, we’ll know pretty damn soon; the GOP leadership will announce their choice for the open Appropriations seat sometime over the next week or so, by which time we will be about half-way through the current quarter. If Reichert fails to get the post, and his fundraising efforts have failed to improve, that would be the time to choose between slogging on or pursuing a lucrative lobbying career. I wouldn’t bet money on a Reichert retirement, but if it’s gonna happen this cycle, it’s gonna happen now.