DCCC keeps Boswell in Frontline Program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that 40 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be in the “Frontline Program,” which seeks to protect incumbents in potentially vulnerable districts. Once again, Leonard Boswell of Iowa’s third district will be a Frontline Democrat. Here’s what the designation means:

The Frontline Program is a partnership between the DCCC and Members which lays the ground work for the 2010 cycle by supporting and expanding their fundraising and outreach operations. Frontline Members must sign a memorandum of understanding, strengthened this cycle to reflect the challenging political environment, that requires Members to meet aggressive fundraising goals, accelerate volunteer and recruitment efforts, and increase their online networking.

The DCCC’s Frontline Program is a proven success. Frontline Members and the DCCC did its work effectively and early in the 2008 cycle.  As a result, the DCCC’s independent expenditure campaign made a significant investment in only 10 of 34 Frontline districts – approximately 15 percent of the IE’s budget.

I’ve put the DCCC’s press release after the jump. Most of the others named to the Frontline list appear to be in more vulnerable districts than Boswell. Republicans targeted Boswell during his first five re-election campaigns but did not make a serious challenge in IA-03 in 2008. Boswell defeated Kim Schmett by 56 percent to 42 percent in November.

Here’s an interesting fact from the DCCC’s statement, which underscores how the Republican Party has become increasingly uncompetitive in large parts of the country:

There are 83 Democrats in districts that President [George] Bush won in 2004, while there are only six (6) Republicans in seats that Senator [John] Kerry won.

Presumably a significant number of those 83 districts swung to Barack Obama in the 2008 election, as Iowa’s third district did. But the final presidential election results by Congressional district have not been calculated everywhere in the country.

I would be very surprised if the DCCC had to spend resources defending Boswell in the next election. Many House Democrats are in a more precarious position. Unfortunately, the irony is that re-electing Boswell in 2010 could make IA-03 a very tough hold for Democrats in 2012.

The DCCC is staying on offense as well, launching robocalls this week in the districts of 12 potentially vulnerable House Republicans. A few weeks ago the DCCC ran radio ads in 28 Republican-held House districts, including Iowa’s fourth district. Tom Latham is not being targeted in the current robocall effort, however. It’s just as well, since IA-04 does not appear to be among the top Democratic pickup opportunities for the next cycle.

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DCCC buying radio ads against Latham

Didn’t see this one coming. I learned via Iowa Politics that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running radio ads in 28 Congressional districts held by Republicans, including Iowa’s fourth district:

The ads focus on the Republicans out of step priorities by putting bank bail outs and building schools in Iraq before the needs of the Americans in the struggling economy. The Putting Families First ads begin airing on Tuesday morning during drive time and will run for a week.

In addition to the strategic radio ads in 28 Republican districts, the DCCC will also begin a grassroots initiative which includes targeted e-mails to 3 million voters and nearly 100,000 person-to-person telephone calls.

House Republicans just don’t get it.  They celebrate being the party of no and status quo, while more than 2.6 million Americans have lost their jobs, the stock market has plummeted wiping out nearly $7 trillion stock market wealth and endangering thousands of investors’ nest eggs, and one in 10 homeowners was delinquent on mortgage payments or in foreclosure this fall.

“These are serious times, hard working families are worried about keeping their jobs, health care and homes – they want action, not House Republicans cheering about doing nothing,” said Brian Wolff, Executive Director of the DCCC. “Republicans’ champagne wishes and caviar dreams simply don’t connect with middle class families struggling to make ends meet and furious that their tax dollars are going to bail out banks, build schools in Iraq, or send American jobs overseas.  The Putting Families First campaign is only the first step, we will continue to go district by district to hold Republicans who continue to vote in lockstep with party leaders and against the folks in their districts accountable.”

There are several versions of the ad (click here for transcripts). This transcript of an ad running in a Michigan representative’s district is apparently comparable to what the DCCC is running in Tom Latham’s district:

Did you know Congressman Thad McCotter opposed over $526 million to modernize crumbling Michigan schools, but supported building new schools in Iraq?  Times are tough, tell Thad McCotter to put American jobs first.

If you’ve heard any of these radio ads, please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) to let me know what issue it covered.

There is a lot of overlap between the 28 districts where DCCC ads are running and this list of the 20 most vulnerable House Republicans going into 2010, which Crisitunity compiled at Swing State Project last month. However, there are a handful of Republicans on Crisitunity’s list who are not (yet) being targeted by the DCCC’s ad campaign.

Conversely, the ads are running in some districts where the incumbents may not seem vulnerable at first glance. Latham did not make Crisitunity’s list after he won re-election by more than 20 points in November, despite the fact that Barack Obama carried IA-04. However, the DCCC clearly has not ruled out making a serious play for this district in 2010.

Remember, Iowa’s Bruce Braley is now the DCCC’s vice chair responsible for “offensive efforts including recruitment, money, and training.”

Taking out Latham in 2010 would make it highly likely for Iowa Democrats to hold three out of the four Congressional districts we will have after the next census. Even if we don’t beat him in 2010, running a strong campaign against Latham could bring down his favorables and improve our chances of holding IA-03 if that district includes Story County in 2012.

UPDATE: Brownsox demolishes Fred Hiatt’s criticism of this ad campaign.

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