Monday, March 26, 2018

Blue Wave. Could Walden actually be in danger?

This is new. The Democratic Party of Oregon thinks Greg Walden is vulnerable. They are now putting resources into this race.


Message:  Walden on an invisible leash.


Political professionals claim they want to contest every seat, fight every battle.  They don't.  The reality is they know some seats are sure things for the other side, and they don't waste resources trying to win them.  
Walden is not "safe."

Republicans aren't going to spend a lot of money trying to elect a Republican in Earl Blumenhauer's urban Portland seat.  The state and national Democratic Parties weren't going to spend resources trying to beat Greg Walden.  

Now they are.  This is a Blue Wave year, they think.

The Democratic Party of Oregon reconsidered the 2nd Congressional District. They just launched a website using the state party apparatus to enable people to donate directly to whoever wins the Democratic nomination. https://www.repealwalden.com

This is due to Conor Lamb's win in Pennsylvania.  Both that Pennsylvania District and the Walden seat had Trump winning by 20 points. The Republican candidate in Pennsylvania was an established and well known.  Walden is established and well known. The Pennsylvania Republican had huge national PAC funding advantage, and so will Walden.

Conor Lamb was a strong candidate.  Oregon 2nd District voters have seven to choose from, and the winner will have proven his or her appeal. 

But isn't Walden really well liked?  He was well liked, back when his public reputation was that of a mild-mannered, cordial conservative, who voted like a conservative but talked like a moderate.  I have seen him under pressure.  He is nice.  He doesn't insult Democrats and liberals and environmentalists.  He sounds "Chamber of Commerce," not "Tea Party."  

New website: Walden and Ryan together.
That was then.  His tone stays likable and moderate, but circumstances changed. 

1.  Health Care. Greg Walden is Chair of the Committee that voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Low and moderate income people were a major beneficiary of Medicaid expansion. In town halls he spoke earnestly about preserving access to health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. This is a bi-partisan issue with special appeal to Republican constituencies, including owners of small businesses. Prosperous, solidly Republican voters sometimes want to leave corporate jobs to start a small business, but don't dare. They would lose their group insurance by leaving, and if there is any health problem on their records he or she would be unable to get a new health insurance plan at any price. That means any future health problem would risk a lifetime's savings and the capital to run their small business. The pre-existing condition issue is not just aid to the poor--a Democrat's concern. It is protection of accumulated assets of entrepreneurial prosperous Republicans.  

Walden gave that up. He abandoned protection for pre-existing conditions and voted for a GOP plan that would have reduced federal support for Medicaid expansion--the Oregon Health Plan.  He didn't vote his prior promises or his District. He voted his GOP caucus. He is in GOP leadership, and that power comes with the price of locking arms in a caucus dominated by Tea Party Republicans.  

It isn't the same old Greg Walden.  A Democrat with advertising help from the state and national party has a story to tell: Walden betrayed us.

2. Tax Bill. He voted for the GOP tax plan, which the Democratic Party of Oregon calls a "tax scam to give corporations and the wealthy massive tax breaks."  This blog has noted that he did go along with the tax hike on Oregon professionals contained within the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes. This blog called it the "Doctor tax" because the $10,000 tax cap results in well paid professionals paying more in taxes, with the money transfering to states with low state income taxes, e.g. Texas. Republican Congressmen in New York, New Jersey, and California voted "no."  They have high state income taxes, just like Oregon.  Greg Walden voted "yes." 

Again, a Democrat with resources can get that story out: Walden voted like a GOP soldier, not like an Oregonian.

3. Swamp. He was chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. He called on industry PACs to raise money for himself and for fellow Republicans.  Normally this would be seen as a positive. He has lots of money. Greg Walden is the archetypal example of a very successful member of the Congress-lobbiest-PAC world in DC.  Donald Trump gave it a name: "the swamp."  Trump demonstrated "drain the swamp" has bi-partisan appeal. 

Walden is stuck with a public record here. Contributions and voting records are public. He supports his special interest donors; they support him. He gets money from telecom companies; he votes to repeal net neutrality.  He gets money from health insurers; he votes to end the ACA.  He gets money from the NRA; he votes a straight NRA ticket at a time when the NRA has an aroused opposition.
Older message: Trump = Walden.  Now its Paul Ryan

Greg Walden is establishment, but the District is populist.  A Democrat may be able to change the polarity of that money, saying it isn't proof of strength, it is evidence he represents the swamp.  

A Democrat with resources can tell a simple story: a populist Democrat represents people while establishment Walden is chest deep in the swamp.

We can see early signs of the Democratic message:  Put Greg Walden together with Paul Ryan.  That is what worked in Pennsylvania.  Walden is, in fact, on the Ryan leadership team. The Democrat need not run against Walden. He or she can run against the GOP leadership represented by Paul Ryan. The website front page tells the message.  Look closely: Paul Ryan just behind Walden, keeping an watchful eye.  We cannot see it, but apparently there is an invisible leash.  Now Walden takes instruction.

Voters may like Walden well enough, but they don't like the swamp and they don't like the leash. Walden is vulnerable because Paul Ryan is unpopular and because Democrats may turn out because they hate Donald Trump.




4 comments:

Thad Guyer said...

The "blue wave" coolaid is really going around I guess. Conor Lamb analogy? Hello, the Republican was not the incumbent (he resigned in a sex scandal)!
As the Real Clear Politics Generic Preference Poll shows, the Democrat average has now sunk below a 6% advantage, yet liberal pundits still step up their "blue wave cometh" hype. Here is a New Yorker satire on how ludicrous the Blue Wave 2018 narrative has become. (New Yorker, Mar 15, 2018 https://t.co/cealZG8kws). Hype about unseating an entrenched Greg Walden with an unnamed generic candidate is a blue wave coolaid high.

Rick Millward said...

The "Blue Wave" is real. Trump backlash is real. Walden's Republican feckless lockstep will hurt him, but probably not enough to flip the seat unless...

Externalities, most economic, will be the deciding factor. The Progressive economics theory that posits that tax breaks and lax regulation lead to recessions needs to be proven once and for all. Can it happen by Fall?

mmm said...

Walden has to go. Jamie McLeodSkinner is the one for the job.

Linda said...

And don't forget Walden was part of the transition team -- choosing all those unfit candidates for Trump's cabinet. He also refused repeatedly to criticize ANYTHING from this unfit president, even the inclusion of obvious racists like Bannon and Miller in his administration. There's plenty of dirt now on Walden. But it can't be just the Democratic candidate reminding voters of it. We all have a role to play -- as must Oregon journalists.