2006 election update

Posted: May 23, 2006 12:05 AM

Momentum building in South Carolina's 5th District

Countless pundits across the country have noted the anti-Republican sentiment among voters heading into the 2006 midterm elections. As the party controlling the government, of course Republicans would feel the majority of the wrath parceled out by disaffected citizens. Lost among a drive-by media (as Rush calls it) gleeful for Republican doom, is a more simple fact: voters are fed up with Congress, not just the Republican Party. Twenty-two percent of voters now approve of the job Congress is doing. That frightening figure means that one fifth of the voting population is paying no attention whatsoever to the pathetic job Congress as a whole is doing. Who are those 22%?

At any rate, lost among the shuffle are several congressional races in which Republicans can protect their majority by picking off vulnerable Democrats. Some of the losses across the country could be balanced by a handful of wins against Democratic incumbents, especially in Southern states.

The SC-5th is one of them. Ralph Norman, the state representative challenging incumbent John Spratt, is sensing some serious momentum. As summer approaches, sources close to the campaign detect some serious confidence. Norman recently commented to a friend, "I’m going to win."

Townhall.com visited the 5th District last week and witnessed the evidence causing Norman’s confidence. His name recognition among potential voters has risen virtually to the level of Spratt, the incumbent. Therefore, when Norman goes on the air later this year in the expensive Charlotte, North Carolina media market, his job will not be building name recognition; instead, he will be convincing voters he is the better choice.

The vote-rich suburbs of Charlotte hold the key to a Norman victory. Populated heavily with Republicans, Norman needs to dominate that area of the district to offset potential losses among the more rural counties. Just driving through the area substantiates the idea that Norman could pull off a victory. The Charlotte suburbs are booming; which, in political terms, means they are changing. Changing demographics are never good for incumbents. There are no loyalties to Spratt’s 20-plus years of service — not to mention that most of the new voters in the last few years trend Republican.

Editor's Note:  Mr. Peace's employer has previously contracted with Ralph Norman's campaign for consulting services.   

Kentucky 3rd District

Congresswoman Anne Northup, a five-time incumbent, now knows for certain she will face liberal columnist John Yarmuth in the November election. Yarmuth roundly defeated his three opponents in the May 16th Democratic Primary. Yarmuth garnered 54% of the vote, with Iraq war veteran Andrew Horne coming in a distant second. Horne, part of the Democratic strategy to use veterans to criticize President Bush as congressional candidates, raised half of Yarmuth’s amount. Horne, who might have appealed to the mostly moderate voters of the 3rd District against Northup, proved for the time being that voters aren’t interested in veterans waving their service around as the most important aspect of their campaigns, à la John Kerry.

Yarmuth sounded upbeat after declaring victory early last Tuesday night. He said in an election-night interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, that "this district thinks the country is going in the wrong direction and I think that my views of the appropriate direction of the country will be much more in line with the district than hers." But Yarmuth isn’t the only side throwing the negative darts.

In a later interview with the Courier-Journal, Ted Jackson, Northup’s campaign chairman, said the primary was "a very underwhelming victory for John [Yarmuth]," adding that less than 20 percent of registered Democrats "cared to come out and vote."

"We welcome this campaign and a comparison on the issues," Jackson said. Jackson went on to tell the paper that Yarmuth might represent the interests of the liberal readers of his newspaper, but the vast majority of voters have rejected his liberal ideas time and time again in favor of Northup.

Yarmuth still has a significant hill to climb, even after his primary victory. His pre-primary May Federal Election Commission disclosure listed his cash-on-hand as just over $300,000. But much of that was spent in the last two weeks before the primary election. He must begin raising serious funds--perhaps an additional one million dollars--to top Northup.  

Northup, on the other hand, is a fund-raising machine. In her May pre-primary report (keep in mind that she had no primary opposition), Northup had $1,645,577 cash on hand. Taking her fundraising prowess into account, her name recognition well above Yarmuth’s, and her penchant for winning close races, Northup is on the path to trounce Yarmuth in November.

However, she does have a Democratic-leaning district, and she is one of the top targets for the Dems this year, so one can count on Yarmuth raising national campaign dollars from Democrats. Yarmuth might be able to raise enough to make this a competitive race.  

But Northup has pulled victories out of a magician’s hat before. As of yet, there’s no reason to bet against her.