A Bad Time to Be a Democratic Challenger
Aaron Blake catches State Sen. Laura Kelly, a top Democratic recruit against Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), pulling out of the race.
Kelly joins several other recent drop-outs, including businessman Jack McDonald, a well-funded challenger to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) who announced last week that he wouldn’t run. The others are Ohio state Rep. Todd Book, who was running against Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio); former Tennessee state commerce and insurance commissioner Paula Flowers, who was running for Rep. Zach Wamp’s (R-Tenn.) seat; and Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Roberts, who was running against Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.).
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bragged about these recruits when they got in their respective races, so there’s no spinning the bad news. However, while Democrats won the Jenkins seat in a 2006 upset (before losing it last year), none of these seats were good Democratic targets in 2010. The Cook Political Report rated Jenkins’s seat “R+9,” meaning Republicans had an out-of-the-gate 9-point advantage there. McCaul’s Texas seat is R+10. Schmidt’s seat is R+13, as is Wamp’s seat. Only the Bilbray seat, R+3, is the kind of district that flips in non-wave elections, and Democrats still have credible candidates in the field; Roberts dropped out, he claimed, because he successfully (and to his surprise) won custody of several foster children.
Is the lack of fire from red-district Democratic challengers a bad omen for the party in 2010? Absolutely. Does it hurt their chances of holding the House? Not really.