I'd forgotten about this Stu Rothenberg column from early January 2005:
Blogger Chris Bowers at MyDD perhaps is the best example of how clueless some bloggers really are about politics.
Last summer, he penned a piece, "DCCC Not Aggressive Enough," in which he complained about his party's House campaign committee. Now, in a two-part series called "Taking Back the House," he insists "we need to attack everywhere."
"I want 80 serious challenges to GOP House incumbents every two years and a Democratic name on the ballot in all 435 districts," he demands. "I have had enough of just targeting the twenty or so top races - let's engage in a full-frontal assault. ... The first step is to identify eighty Republicans against who we could mount a serious challenge."
It is undeniably true that you can't defeat an incumbent if you don't run someone against him. So, yes, it's better for a party to field candidates in 435 districts, if possible.
But some Republicans didn't have Democratic opponents because they were unbeatable, and no Democrat wanted to waste his or her time (to say nothing about money) by running. You can't make a race competitive simply by putting a name on the ballot, and the Democrats would not hold even a single additional seat had they put a name on the ballot in every district during the past two cycles.
Ha ha, that Chris Bowers. What a moron! That's what happens when amateurs try to meddle in work best left to the adults, those DC-based pros. So cute! So adorably naive! You can picture the good chuckle those elites had at Bowers' expense.
But man, doesn't that Rothenberg column look and sound idiotic nowadays? I assume Stu knows better now. Because according to Stu and about 99 percent of the party establishment at the time, it was ridiculous for for us to run candidates in places like WA-05, CA-11, CA-04, CO-05, ID-01, NE-01, NE-02, NE-03, WY-AL, PA-10, NY-19, NY-22, FL-16, OH-02 (twice!), and OH-18, to name just a few (and there's many more races like those).
Remember, you can't make a race competitive simply by putting a name on the ballot. Some Republicans have no opponents simply because they are unbeatable. And no one wants to waste his or her time (not to mention money) by running. Right?
We've sure come a long way. And if there's any doubt that our "expand the playing field" strategy is working, all we need to do is look to ID-01, where the GOP has been forced to spend half a million dollars defending one of those seats that establishment DC dictated could not, would not, ever, ever, ever become competitive. A district that Bush won with 69 percent of the vote.
The not-so-clueless Bowers has more.
And one final Rothenberg goodie:
As for Bowers' assertion that he wants "80 serious challenges" to GOP incumbents next year, he might as well ask for 120 or 150. I want vacation houses in Napa Valley and Palm Beach, and I'd like to be 35 years old again. "If wishes were horses, beggars might ride," as the English proverb puts it.
Well, according to Rothenberg's own count, we're up to 52 competitive races. The DCCC has identified 67 Democratic challengers in competitive races (Red to Blue and Emerging Races). More races are being added to those lists almost daily.
And note, those aren't "serious challenges". Those candidates DCCC and Rothenberg lists are just the ones in competitive races. If the standard is "serious challengers", that is, credible candidates, then we've got many, many more. More than 80 for sure.
Update: Fran for Dean makes an excellent point in the comments:
No one could have predicted that Democrats would be competitive if they challenged Republicans!