2006 Midterm Senatorial See-Saw

Aquarian Weekly 10/25/06 REALITY CHECK

2006 Mid-Term ElectionsA HOUSE DIVIDED

Mark Foley In the grand make-up of this republic there is little more convoluted a practice than midterm House of Representative elections. Redistricting, quitting, dumps, retirements, backlash, and overall national fervor for or against the party in power make it virtually impossible to predict, not to mention the discrepancies found in polling. You see people are generally willing to be polled on issues and campaigns, but rarely show up to actually cast a vote in non-presidential years. Therefore, in the case of the particularly close races, it is anyone’s guess as to the ultimate outcome, which casts incredible pressure on the incumbents and a fair amount of doubt in races where seats are left vacant.

Not to mention the pangs of guilt and shame heaped upon journalists, pundits and the cream of the jock-sniffing elite. There is gambling, and then there is trying to prognosticate House races three weeks from paydirt, and chief, there isn’t a bookie alive that wouldn’t be willing to take that kind of bizarre action. The odds are long and money changes hands so fast there is a twisted kind of inertia that sets in, destroying futures, wrecking marriages, and sending locked real estate exchanges into infinite limbo.

Yet, as usual, I cannot turn away.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, of which 50 can be considered something close to competitive. After careful and mind-numbingly boring research conducted over three days of eye-twitching caffeine abuse, the Reality Check News & Information Desk’s crack staff whittled the number of key races down to 22.

Currently, Republicans hold a 232-202 advantage with one Independent leaning left. Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to wrest control. Really, it comes down to a few seats, because if the Republicans can manage a split, they will retain control.

The races in question include many of the aforementioned open seats spread over 19 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin. Open seats increase the chances for Democrat gain and Republican remorse, a more likely scenario with each passing day.

These 22 “up-for-grabs” races, in essence, become this year’s Battleground States, and to some extent, expand the silly concept that Florida or Ohio elects a president, as they did in the last two hotly contested presidential campaign years, and will ultimately decide the survival of the Democratic Party as presently constituted or usher in two entertaining years of investigations, arrests, resignations, and maybe one glorious spring of impeachment proceedings on our boy president.

The names are not important. Believe me. No one who reads this space gives a flying flatulence who is actually running and why. Are you hanging your democratic resolve on the Rick Renzi/Ellen Simon battle for 1st district in Arizona? No, you’re not.

There is gambling, and then there is trying to prognosticate House races three weeks from paydirt, and chief, there isn’t a bookie alive that wouldn’t be willing to take that kind of bizarre action.

In all due respect to the Renzis and Simons, half of these people are despicable and desperate, but the end game is threefold: Which party will own the legislative branch, what does it mean for the future of Washington politics for the remainder of the Bush White House, and how does a petulant balance skew the sinking vessel of oozing hubris that is Capital Hill.

As stated last week in this space, normally midterm elections reflect the mood of the country in the first go-round for a president. Mainly, they ride on local issues. Even in the case of this year’s second term mess – wherein Republicans have been abandoning the Pennsylvania Avenue ship in serious numbers and the president is not helping anyone maintain traction, no matter how many gin-martinis Karl Rove ingests in preternatural fits of animal paranoia. The ghosts of Mark Foley, Tom Delay, and Duke Cunningham might not even be enough to save the Democrat cause.

How soon we forget that in the fall of 2004 nearly two-thirds of the electorate deemed George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War underwhelming at best and criminally demented at worse, yet he is still president. So this white noise punditry about a disgruntled country over a never-ending, dubiously-constructed conflict thousands of miles away affecting how Idaho or Georgia voters will lean is crazy talk, and not a fair assessment of how the House will go for the next two years.

However, it is our duty to delve, and delve we shall – if only locally.

Here in New Jersey, Republican incumbent Mike Ferguson has taken more than a little shit for the $57,000 he received from the dark-hole fund bag of Tom Delay, whose very name conjures defeat in GOPland. His challenger, however, the newbie, Linda Stender, offers only an exhale in a predominantly liberal state both revolted with the Iraq War and still horrified over Democrat despot Jim McGreevey, the formerly expunged governor who has turned the derision he’s received for years of money-laundering, backroom dealing, and other modes of heinous criminal activity into homosexual discrimination. If I were gay I’d root out this son of a bitch and smack him silly on principle alone.

Next door in New York, four races roll along neck-and-neck. The most notable involves long-time incumbent, Republican Peter King, who is one of the few staunchly conservative congressman who remembers the early-nineties revolution. King is a major player and a key voice of the ruling majority, and is in some trouble. His challenger, fellow Long Islander, Dave Mejias has gained momentum the past few weeks. This race is one of the many across the nation that reflects not only local issues but also the national furor. It may well be a siren song for Republicans and a telling microcosm for this thing come November 7.

Let us pray for poor Tom Reynolds, who has been likely doomed by the Mark Foley sexcapades.

On a national level, of the 22 states mentioned as toss-ups, the Democrats are likely (a very weak likely – please see opening paragraphs above) to increase their bulge by a net of seven seats. But there are far too many “ifs” on the Republican side in too many of these tight races. And again, many of the open seats give the Democrats a nudge, but how much of a nudge?

So, against all better judgment, and with over 15 years of defeats to consider, this space must report that the Democrats will take the House, ever slightly.

If so, round up the outlaws.

If not, bury the dead.

But I’m not betting on any of it.

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