The Note: Signs of Relief


Ordinarily, there is nothing more annoying than reading press releases from the congressional campaign committees of both parties.

They tend to be filled with over-the-top spin, dumb jokes, macho indirection, and juvenile taunts.

These releases are so dumb, in fact, that we stopped reading them long ago.

However, a team of curfew-violating Googling monkeys in need of punishment are regularly assigned to read them, filtering through for ones we need to see.

So regarding last night's victory by Republican surfer/lobbyist Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby in a special election for the U.S. House seat formerly held by convicted Republican Duke Cunningham, we believe that National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds has the best summary of the Higher Meaning of a 1/435th-sized tea leaf.

Before recognizing the Gentleman from New York for 5.8 seconds, recall that:

1. The only storyline that matters in politics the rest of the year is whether Republicans keep control of both the House and the Senate.

2. The Democrats still don't actually have enough Senate seats in play to take control of the Senate (or a national message).

3. Most of all, the question is: in the close races will the Republicans institutional advantages trump what all agree will be a sour national climate for the party?

So, Chairman Reynolds, tell us what Message the people of one San Diego-area congressional district wanted to make sure that the lunchtime crowd at the Palm all heard:

"National Democrats must come to terms with the fact that momentum for the midterm elections will not materialize simply because they preordain it in the media or because they ask their special interest friends to buy it for them.

"The results in San Diego show that nothing has happened to alter the notion (sic) that House elections are about a choice between local personalities focused on local issues."

The Democratic on-the-record and not-so-on-the-record responses (the Republicans were forced to put a lot of resources in the race, Bilbray underperformed Bush 2004, Busby's last-minute gaffe was costly and she wasn't such a great candidate, it's a very conservative district and Democrats will pick up our seats in Bluer quarters, look at how Busby performed with independents, etc...) are, trust us, not worth a warm bucket of anything.

Bottom line: Bilbray's victory shows that although Republican incumbents are running in a nasty national environment and although they are expected to lose some seats in November, the GOP is still favored to hold onto its majorities in both chambers because of several baked-in-the-cake advantages, including money, few retirements, safely-drawn seats, and a party apparatus that is adept at turning campaigns to local issues and turning out voters through micro targeting and hard work.

Finally, other Things We Now Know:

1. That "unfavorable political climate Republicans face" referred to twice by RNC political director Mike DuHaime in a memo to "interested parties" has not changed overnight.

2. Casting a candidate as a "lobbyist" is not enough to turn a Red district Blue.

3. Charges of a "culture of corruption" do not (necessarily) turn a Red district Blue.

4. The RNC's 72-hour program is not dependent upon a favorable political climate for success.

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