I imagine “Turd Blossom,” George Bush’s nickname for Karl Rove, refers to Rove’s ability to take a pile of shit and make something out of it. In any case, watch where you step today, because Turd Blossom is coming to town. He will be here to raise money for freshman Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington’s 8th congressional district .
Of 435 House races potentially up for grabs this November, the race between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert has attracted an extraordinary amount of attention. Just a few months ago, Karl Rove sent George W. Bush to raise money for Reichert. The plan may have backfired a bit , as Reichert raised less money, and Burner more money, than expected.
Now, Karl Rove, himself, has taken on the task of turning Reichert’s turd of a campaign into a blossom.
By almost all measures, Reichert is in big trouble. In an ordinary year, an incumbent with widespread name recognition and a good head of hair would be pretty safe. Reichert should particularly be safe against a political newcomer. But this year isn’t an ordinary year. This year there is the smell of voter dissatisfaction in the air.
The dissatisfaction is coming from three places: (1) a general dissatisfaction with incumbents, (2) a specific backlash against Bush Republicans, and (3) from candidates with the scent of corruption and Abramoff about them. Unfortunately for Reichert, all three are at work against him: he is a Bush Republican incumbent with a little bit of the stench of corruption and Abramoff after taking money from convicted former Congressman Duke Cunningham and the newest member of the Convict’s Club, Bob Ney.
Reichert’s tenuous position is clear from the two most recent public polls, the first showing Reichert ahead and the second showing Burner ahead. The race is now rated a toss-up by the New York Times; and both CQ Politics and the Cook Political Report have upgraded the race from Republican to a more precarious leans Republican.
The most remarkable sign of Darcy Burner’s momentum in this race is that she has out-fundraised Reichert for the last three quarters!
These things just shouldn’t happen—not in an ordinary year.
The big question now is whether the net effect of Karl Rove’s visit will be to help or hurt Reichert. It is telling that the event is a private affair for some 100 wealthy donors and was not publicly announced. The Washington State Republican’s chief political clairvoyant Chris Vance (you know, the guy who could tell us just how the election contest would turn out) sees no problems for Reichert:
“In my view, there are no pitfalls (to a Rove visit) because the voters out there who have very strong feelings about this one way or the other have already made up their minds,” said Chris Vance, a former state Republican Party chairman and now a public affairs consultant with the Gallatin Group.
“Having Karl Rove here will not change anybody’s mind. But it will raise a bunch of money,” Vance said.
The trouble with Vance’s theory is that that when Bush came to raise money for Reichert, Burner also got a big fundraising boost. Naturally, when Rove’s fundraiser became public, the Darcy Burner campaign responded with a special fundraising drive focused on the visit.
I think an even bigger problem is that this visit will highlight and solidify the relationship between Reichert and the Bush administration. Who in their right mind can now believe that a reelected Reichert would vote against the administration’s interests when both Bush and Rove personally flew in to save his bacon? If Reichert had some semblance of independence during his current term (based on a couple of non-critical and pre-authorized votes), he loses it entirely by his new obligations to Bush and Rove. Indeed, in this political climate, and this particular congressional district, Karl Rove may leave more damage than can be fixed by the money he brings in.
I mean, if you try growing flowers on a turd, the wrong environment will leave you with just a stinking pile of shit.
(Send a message that Washington State will not support candidates beholden to the failures and incompetence of the Bush administration. Give something to Darcy Burner today. Remember, the number of donors is an important measure of success, so even if you can only afford five bucks, your donation strengthens the message considerably.)