Maybe someone out there who knows the inner workings of EMILY’s List can explain to me why this group has not put money behind Becky Greenwald, the Democrat challenging loyal Republican foot-soldier Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district.
I have been going over the list of Democratic women running for Congress whom EMILY’s List is supporting, with a particular focus on the six challengers most recently added to this group in early August. I do not mean to knock any of those candidates, and I recognize that every race has its own dynamic.
However, after comparing Greenwald’s race to those of other candidates, I remain puzzled that EMILY’s list is not more involved in IA-04.
Follow me after the jump for more.
First things first: IA-04 has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+0, meaning that in the last two presidential elections the two-party vote in the district closely tracked the national vote. Since 2004, every Congressional district in Iowa has seen big gains in Democratic voter registration, which surged in connection with this year’s presidential caucuses. For the first time since Iowa’s districts were last redrawn, IA-04 now has more registered Democrats than Republicans.
Democrats have an advantage in the generic Congressional ballot nationwide, but what may be more relevant for this district is Barack Obama’s big lead over John McCain in Iowa (double-digits according to the two most recent polls). The Obama campaign’s enormous ground game in Iowa will be working in Greenwald’s favor too. Her staffers and volunteers seem pleased with the level of coordination between the campaigns’ turnout efforts.
Turning to Greenwald as a candidate, you can see from her bio that she has strong roots in the district as well as experience in the business world and a history of volunteering for causes including the Iowa Democratic Party. She dominated the four-way Demomcratic primary on June 3, winning over 50 percent of the vote. As of June 30, she had raised about $143,000 for her campaign but had only about $82,000 cash on hand because of her competitive primary.
Several Iowa political analysts observed this summer that Greenwald can beat Tom Latham if she can raise enough money to compete. Latham serves on the House Appropriations Committee and was sitting on more than $800,000 cash on hand as of June 30. Then again, plenty of well-funded incumbents have lost seats in Congress when facing a big wave toward the other party. Cook has this race as likely R, but I would consider it lean R. There have been no public polls on the race yet.
The current reporting period ends September 30. I don’t have inside information about Greenwald’s cash on hand now, but I know she has been aggressively fundraising all summer long. I assume things have gone fairly well on that front, because the DCCC just put IA-04 on its “Emerging Races” list. One thing working in Greenwald’s favor is that the Des Moines and Mason City markets, which cover most of the 28 counties in the district, are not too expensive for advertising. So, she can be up on the air for several weeks, even though she clearly won’t be able to match Latham dollar for dollar.
Side note: Shortly after the Democratic primary in IA-04, the third-place candidate William Meyers vowed to run for Congress as an independent. However, he quickly turned his attention to the fight against Iowa’s new smoking ban. He then failed to submit petitions to qualify for the ballot, took down his Congressional campaign website and reportedly moved to Florida. In other words, he won’t be a factor in November.
Why should EMILY’s list get involved in this race? Not only is Greenwald a good fit for the district, she is pro-choice whereas Latham has a perfect zero rating on votes related to abortion rights.
As a bonus, Greenwald has the potential to end Iowa’s disgrace as one of only two states that have never sent a woman to Congress or elected a woman governor.
Now, I will briefly examine the six candidates for U.S. House whom EMILY’s list most recently endorsed. As I said earlier, I don’t mean to knock any of these candidates, but I do question why these districts would be considered more winnable than IA-04.
1. Anne Barth. She is running against incumbent Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia’s second district (R+5, somewhat more Republican than IA-04). Cook has this race as lean R, Swing State Project sees it as likely R. As of June 30, Barth had about $353,000 cash on hand, compared to more than $1.2 million for Capito. My understanding is that this district is quite expensive for advertising because of its proximity to Washington, DC.
2. Sam Bennett. She is running against incumbent Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District (D+2, slightly more Democratic than IA-04). Cook and Swing State Project both rate this race as likely R, although Chris Bowers is optimistic given the partisan lean of the district. As of June 30, Bennett had just under $354,000 cash on hand, compared to about $687,000 for Dent.
3. Jill Derby. She is running against incumbent Dean Heller, who beat her in the 2006 election to represent Nevada’s second district (R+8, markedly more Republican than IA-04). It’s not too uncommon for Congressional candidates to win on their second attempt, but Cook and Swing State Project both view this district as likely R. As of June 30, Derby had about $314,000 cash on hand, while Heller had just over $1 million in the bank.
4. Judy Feder. This is another rematch campaign, as incumbent Frank Wolf beat Feder by a comfortable margin in 2006 in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District (R+5). Again, Cook and Swing State Project agree that this is a likely R district. As of June 30, Feder was doing quite well in the money race with about $812,000 cash on hand, not too far behind Wolf’s $849,000.
5. Annette Taddeo. She is running against incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 18th Congressional District (R+4). Cook and Swing State Project both rank this district as likely R. Taddeo made a great impression on people at Netroots Nation and had just under $444,000 in the bank on June 30, while the incumbent reported nearly $1.9 million.
6. Victoria Wulsin. In 2006, she fell just short against incumbent “Mean Jean” Schmidt in Ohio’s second district (R+13). Granted, Schmidt is ineffective as an incumbent, which is probably why Swing State Project has this in the lean R category (it’s likely R according to Cook). Wulsin also had about $378,000 in the bank on June 30, compared to about $390,000 for Schmidt. Still, this is a markedly more Republican district than IA-04.
I understand that EMILY’s List does not have unlimited resources, but I still find it surprising that they have not jumped in to support Greenwald. A little money goes a long way in the Mason City and Des Moines media markets.
If you want to help send her to Congress, go here and give what you can. September 15 is her birthday, by the way.