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Wednesday, December 21, 2005


How To Run Against Fake Moderates

I posted the interview below, but then the illegal wiretaps story started to break so I knocked it down the list. In the meantime, I've been over at Al's WNJ blog commenting about how Castle is a fake moderate. I think he is a fraud based on his narrow margin votes. However, I believe that you can also make the case that he is a fake moderate based on one vote in particular. That was the vote to elect Tom Delay as the leader of the House majority. This Jonathan Singer interview of former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse speaks to that issue.

Jonathan Singer: Many political pundits would say that Lincoln Chafee, just like his father, works with Democrats nearly as often as he does with his own party. Even in a state as blue as Rhode Island, how do you run against someone trying to position himself as an independent?

Sheldon Whitehouse: ...when all is said and done, once he has decided to organize the United States Senate under this right wing Republican leadership, all of his other votes - even if they appear defensible on the surface - are in fact window dressing because this leadership is what is setting the table in the Senate.

Just substitute the word "Congress" for the word "Senate" and this is 100% true for Michael Castle. In my opinion Castle's vote for Tom Delay is the most damming vote of his political career.

How do you beat an incumbent who won with sixty-something percent of the vote in 2004? And that with record turnout of the Democratic base?

Normally the only way is to go negative (think Joe Biden's first Senate campaign). But I don't think that would work against Castle at this time. Castle is perceived as a nice guy, and negative would backfire.

The other way is to get a uniquely compelling candidate (see Bob Casey in PA). OK, Delaware Democrats, we're waiting....

I think Delawareans are appalled by Bush and Rove-style politics. The national Republican wedge strategies never seem to go over too well in Delaware.

But I think Delawareans are basically independents, not Democrats. That means they are voting against Bush the man... they are NOT voting against the GOP agenda in particular.

So it's going to be very difficult to make a case to vote against Castle just because he supports the Republican agenda. People are voting for Castle the man, not his policies.

Personally, I'm opposed to most of the GOP agenda. So at this time, if a sock puppet was running against Castle, I'd vote for the sock puppet.

On the other hand, apart from being a Republican, Castle is basically inoffensive. So if the Republicans were safely a minority in Congress, I'd have no problem voting for Mike Castle.

So how about it, Mike Castle? How about you flip and become a Democrat? How about you divorce yourself from the coming constitutional scandals? We'd love to have you. I bet you'll still keep winning elections, and you'll stay on the majority side of the aisle for another decade or more.
Wow. That is an angle I had not considered.

"Castle To Switch Party Affiliation" would certainly shake things up and as you say it plays to Castle's strengths. His public persona as a "nice guy" and his ability to appear moderate on high profile issues.

Maybe he can announce the switch and call for impeachment proceedings at the same press conference?
Castle might be taken down by some astute demographic analysis. Looking at a 2004 exit poll randomly found on the web (for what it's worth), Castle loses some demographics and narrowly wins others:

1. Castle loses with women and minorities. No surprise there, Democrats would need to energize their base and suppess the opposition's base.

2. Castle's stem-cell position might make him VERY vulnerable to a pro-life Democrat. That would take a big chunk out of his automatic base (who are obviously very confused people who think they are getting pro-life when they vote for the Republican Castle). Yeah, I know, but you do what you gotta do to win...

3. And, in a result that surprised me, he loses with voters over 60, who normally trend Republican. Since he presumably voted for Bush's Social Security reform, which was defeated, he might be vulnerable to a "Voted to attack and privatize Social Security!!!" campaign. (I didn't check, so Mike, if you voted against Bush on this, I apologize. But I'm pretty sure it was party-line).
Are you catching all of this Castle's Staff Flunky? We've got some smart Democrats around here calling you out.
Ah, liberal Democrats... kind, fair, and trusting by nature... WAKE UP!! Have you learned no lessons from Karl Rove??? Rove 101: Hit 'em not in their weakness but in their strength, where they are complacent and least expect it.

If Mike wants to be a moderate, let's make sure the anti-RINO crowd knows where Delaware is. Or let's see if the Right-To-Life party might front a candidate to split the Republican vote.

Oh, I would dearly love to see a televised debate where a Catholic Democratic candidate is politely asking Mike to explain certain issues.

Or if Mike wants to be a Republican, well, time will tell, but if the scandals and investigations continue to expand as Bush's world crumbles, Mike will be forced to make some pretty indefensible party-line votes to defend such lovely things as torture and domestic spying. Bring it on!!
I don't think we have enough super-wing-nuts and "right to lifers" in Delaware to hope for a an attack on Mike from the right. Just look at Bush and Cheney's poll numbers to confirm that. And I don't think a Dem will make much headway trying to "out conservative" Castle.

Getting him to defend the indefensible party-line votes (like voting for Delay to be majority leader) is going to be the ticket.
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