Ah, the Piedmont is alive with the sound of Feder.
Both NLS and RK are atwitter that Judy Feder recently filed for another bout with Congressman Frank Wolf in Va-10. They are excited (!!!!!). At the same time, this gives BVBL more opportunities to deploy his artistic editing abilities. Even the filing draws chuckles from the most jaded politico, as Ms. Feder admitted in the WaPo that in fact she had already filed the necessary candidacy paperwork in January, but for some unclear reason submitted it again. I can only presume her initial filing was met with such a stony wall of silence she felt it necessary to do it again. Such administrative “efficiency” does not augur well for successfully running an office on Capitol Hill.
I will say right up front that I think it admirable that Ms. Feder is running again. I think a desire to serve the public as an elected representative despite the public and private obstacles a candidate inevitably encounters is something that should be respected, so I give a h/t to Ms. Feder for entering the arena. Vaya con dios.
What I find unusual is that how sure the partisan D’s are that she can win.
Now RK is certainly deep in the bucket for Ms. Feder. Lowell posted a plaintive diary entry just after the 2006 election titled “What Happened to Judy Feder?”. He cites her fundraising, a big democratic year in 2006, Jim Webb carrying the 10th by a hair over George Allen, and professes to be “puzzled, stumped, befuddled, disappointed, and seriously bummed out“.
Many-including myself-replied. Several reasons were offered:
1. Frank Wolf is a well respected incumbent with over two decades of service in congress
2. Congressman Wolf’s constituent service is second to none, and folks remember that at election time. Moreover, it has a multplier effect, as folks hear about his constituent work and decide that is the kind of person they want in congress.
3. Every major newspaper in the district endorsed Frank Wolf.
4. Federian campaign shots missed the mark, and even sometimes ran counter to Democratic positions (see her attack on the Wolf earmark vote, where Feder attacked him for voting with the democrats).
5. A district that is ringed by conservative jurisdictions that solidly backed Wolf.
6. Frank Wolf is clean as a hounds tooth. He has been called the “Conscience of the Congress”, and never has event the slightest hint of scandal been attributed to him.
But Judy is back, and RK is happy. However, the majority of the factors listed above will still be in play in 2008 and favoring Congressman Wolf. In addition, 2006 proved to be the most toxic year for GOP congressional candidates since Watergate. If a well financed Democratic campaign cannot take out Frank Wolf in 2006 while the state elected a Democratic Senate challenger, is it reasonable to think Ms. Feder has better chances in 2008?
There are additional factors that militate against her, and they all impact fundraising for 2008. While she now has a donor base, she also has these complications:
A) The Democrats are now in the majority and it is a presidential year. Where is the likely party donor going to park their donations-with the presidential candidate, protecting incumbents and with it the party majority, or with a second time candidate who got trounced in 2006?
B) Ms. Feder got additional money in 2006 from the DNCC and from a wide variety of sources late in the campaign that would not normally be donating to democratic congressional candiate in Virginia because this became a targeted “winnable” race. One of the neat Rahm Emanuel tricks in 2006 was constantly widening the list of “hot” races. I have no idea if he really though they could win, but it was a convenient method to semaphore to groups with contribution money to burn where they should look to send money. Why else would Judy Feder get money from a Pipe Fitters Union in NYC? However, Ms. Feder barely cleared 40%…do you think these sources are going to come back with more money for her? Doubtful.
C) There is more than a reasonable chance that Senator Clinton will win the democratic presidential nomination. Where will the Clintonistas send their money? To Hillary, or to one of Hillary’s friends? Corollary-see point A
D) Phil Kellam lost narrowly in Va 2. Andrew Hurst’s badly underfunded campaign got more votes than Ms. Feder’s well funded effort-you know the demos are going to come heavy in the 11th whether or not Tom Davis runs for relection. Dem blogs are making noise about Sam Rasoul, the bright new face ready to challenge Bob Goodlatte in Va-6. I have trouble seeing where Ms. Feder can make the case that she is either a better bet to pick up a seat or that she can retain her luster as the “Hot New Candidate” this year…and in either case that means less money…which diminishes her ability to get her message out.
E) Conversely, her strong run in 2006 will make it even easier for Congressman Wolf to raise money because of a demonstrable threat…which will make it easier for him to get his message out.
F) Speaker Pelosi is one of Frank Wolf’s best friends in Congress. While I am sure there comes a point where she would put party above friendship-because that is what Speaker’s sometimes have to do-I think we are a looooooooooooonnnnnnnnngggggg way from there…which does not exactly help the Federian cause in terms of raising $$ and getting her race targeted.
G) The Democrats are in the majority, which means Ms. Feder will not be able to be on the offensive as much as she was last year. She will instead have to defend the actions of a democratic congress…which will have to crimp her style.
None of this addresses the 800 lb gorilla in the room-Iraq. How will things stand then? I don’t know, but I will bet that however things stand that Frank Wolf’s sponsoring the Iraq Study Group to find a bipartisan solution will work in his favor…and the fact that President Bush chose to ignore the groups recommendations also gives Congressman Wolf some degree of cover.
Ms. Feder is heading back into the ring. RK and BVBL are both thrilled, but for highly different reasons. I tend to think is is possible that Ms. Feder’s 2008 campaign will ultimately send her back to Washington with a different title-but it will be an appointed one in the executive branch under her pal Hillary.