Kind of a Drag

Rich Galen
|
Posted: Jan 15, 2015 12:01 AM
Kind of a Drag

While most of the Beltway potelligencia is quacking about (a) whether the Obama Administration should have sent a cabinet-level official to Paris for the big March (they should have) and (b) how long the White House can go without using the word "Islamic" next to - or at least nearby - the word "terrorism" an analysis of what this Administration has meant to the rest of the nation.

Because most of the national political reporters are based in, and work from Washington, DC, they tend to focus on elections for Federal offices: President, Senate and House.

But, the other 317 million Americans understand that being on a first name basis with their U.S. Senator might impress the hell out of their fellow Rotarians, it doesn't mean a thing if they need a curb cut to build a new driveway or worry about the state of their local schools, or are concerned about the condition of Interstate Highway bridges through their state.

A terrific Washington-based lawyer and government affairs guy named Bruce Mehlman has compiled some statistics that, well, opened … my … eyes.

Bruce and I were colleagues during one of my several turns as communications director at the National Republican Congressional Committee. He was the very able and helpful legal counsel at the NRCC.

We know what the final numbers were at the national level last November: GOP + 13 in the U.S. House to give Speaker John Boehner a 247 - 188 majority (one less now that there is a vacancy in the Staten Island, NY seat).

Since Obama took office he has overseen the loss of 69 Democratic seats in the U.S. House. No one has lost more since at least Dwight Eisenhower 60-or-so years ago.

We know that Republicans went plus 9 in the U.S. Senate giving Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at 54-46 majority (including two independents who caucus with the Ds).

Obama has successfully guided the Democrats into a net loss of 13 seats in the U.S. Senate - also the most since Eisenhower.

And, among Governors where Republicans had steeled themselves to explain a 2 or three seat loss, the GOP gained two net seats and how control 31 Governors' mansions. Only the Nixon/Ford Administrations lost more in their combined eight years.

But that's not the big thing.

A hundred years ago when I ran GOPAC, I reminded people that Newt Gingrich did not start that organization. It was Pete DuPont, then Governor of Delaware.

DuPont recognized that Republicans couldn't make a serious dent in the Democrats' strangle hold on the U.S. House because the GOP couldn't field candidates with any political experience to speak of.

If a seat became open, we would find a doctor or a lawyer or an architect with the capacity to raise some money and throw him (or her) into the electoral boxing ring and hope they could withstand the first whack in the jaw.

Usually, their knees buckled and the best they could do was to try and stay on their feet until Election Day.

DuPont decided there needed to be an organization that focused on building, what he called, a "farm team." Just as Major League Baseball teams have minor league affiliates to sort out the players who have the talent to make it to the Bigs and give them the experience to develop that talent; the GOP needed to get people to run for State House and Senate seats before they ran for a Federal office.

A lot of really smart people have run GOPAC both before and after me. The current guy, David Avilla, is probably the best of the bunch.

Want to know why? It's because since Barack Obama has been in the White House Avilla and his team have engineered a net gain of - hold onto your hat - 913 State Legislative seats leading to control of 30 - 30 - State Legislative Chambers.

Republicans have been so successful at the state level that they have gained total control of 23 states - State House, State Senate, and the Governor.

Democrats? They have seven.

That means the Republican bench - candidates for the U.S. House and Senate - who have learned how to campaign, have built constituencies, have dedicated workers and donors to jump start a campaign - is far, far deeper than anything the Democrats can create no matter how terrific their data mining and turnout models.

Here, in the DC metro area, Barbara Comstock is a freshman Member of Congress having previously run for, and won, a seat as member of the State Legislature in Virginia. Could she have won without that experience? Maybe. It is a Republican seat, but it is a Republican seat in Northern Virginia which is not known as a center of GOP power in the Commonwealth.

No matter how the White House tries to play political hardball against Republicans in the U.S. Congress, they cannot escape the fact that the Obama Administration has been the biggest drag on his party's political efforts since … Richard Nixon.