Nope, not even in the USA this time…

June 30, 2007 at 7:38 am | In CA-26 | Comments Off on Nope, not even in the USA this time…

…but it looks like our man Russ Warner is going to have another go at it. Good for him. This blog had some coverage of the pre- and post- primary race last time around (Warner lost the primary, quite disappointly; I’m sure his campaign won’t let that happen this time).

Now, I don’t anticipate restarting the blog, but if someone else starts to cover the race, drop me a line (flaxter at gmail?com) and I’ll put up a link. (I also might have some contacts for you.)

A SethInCA Project: Help engage Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews with the Netroots

June 19, 2006 at 8:49 pm | In CA-26, Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, David Dreier | 2 Comments

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos, Calitics, and MyDD)

The short version: I’m going to go interview Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, the Democratic candidate for Congress who’s challenging David Dreier in CA-26. I’d like to encourage her to become involved with the netroots, and as a start I want to reach out to her with your questions. Please post any questions you’d like me to ask her in the comments section.

The long version: Two weeks ago, Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews pulled a major upset and won the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 26th District of California. Her primary opponent and the assumed favorite of the race was Russ Warner, who had made a decent show of fundraising and received the endorsement of Gen. Wesley Clark. But Matthews, who was also the nominee in 2004, pulled an upset and won.

I’ve speculated (dirty tricks?) about the reasons for Warner’s disappointing defeat, but the bottom line is that Matthews is the nominee this year. And if ever there was a year for a turning of the tide in Congress, this is that year. Even if she can’t quite win in this Republican district (46% R to 35% D), she’s still fighting the good fight, not to mention forcing Dreier to spend money defending his seat. Or at least, that’s the hope. In 2004 she came closer than any other challenger in California in her race to unseat closeted Republican David Dreier (54-42). She and two radio hosts gave Dreier hell on immigration, and during the campaign she publicly “came out” and challenged Dreier to do the same. Print media ignored the story, but it got some play on the radio and the web.

I called her office on Friday (guess who answered the phone? Matthews!) to ask for an interview, and her staff agreed. Later this week I hope to head over to campaign headquarters to take some pictures and ask her some questions. My hope isn’t just to ask her some questions, but to try to get her more involved with the netroots. So far, her website is a disaster, but hey, Russ Warner’s spiffy website didn’t win him the nomination.

This is where you come in: please post questions you’d like me to ask her in the comments. (Maybe some advice for her too.) I’ll bring some questions of my own, and we’ll see what happens. Watch SethInCA for the results.

Another blog covering this race

June 11, 2006 at 11:42 am | In CA-26, Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, David Dreier | 4 Comments

And I thought I was alone. Turns out there’s yet another blog covering the race in CA-26:

In 2004, Dreier outspent Matthews 50 to 1 yet received the lowest percentage of the vote during any of his elections since 1980. 2006 is the year to remove him from Congress. Click here, here and here to remind yourself of some of the reasons David Dreier must go.

Nice to see someone with a healthy sense of optimism for once. As for me, a redesign of Matthews’ website would really, really make me happy. Hmm…

Decided to check who was linking to me…

June 10, 2006 at 6:18 pm | In CA-26 | 1 Comment

There’s a class at Cal State blogging the same congressional race as I am??? How did I miss this in my obsessive Technorati / Feedster searching? Here’s my favorite post:

Quick note about Cynthia Matthews victory…

Don’t feel obligated to change your papers that were written assuming a Warner victory. From an educational standpoint, the exercise is still useful (even if Warner is not going to be the actual nominee).

As for why this happened, we’ll have to talk about this in class briefly on Thursday, before the final.

Surprises are always fun in politics.

Keeps it interesting.

-Prof. Dark

Alas, the same could be said about my blog, but I didn’t get to talk about it with anyone in class on Thursday (on Thursday, I read more papers about WDM). Prof. Dark has linked to my none too comprehensive attempt at a post mortem and speculation about a push poll. Any other thoughts, class?

$40k Push Poll?

June 9, 2006 at 8:44 am | In CA-26, David Dreier, ethics reform, Russ Warner | 2 Comments

So far, this is the most intriguing of answers to my question about how the Warner campaign lost it. I wonder where I can get another source on this (from the comments on my MyDD diary):

Wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t heard it myself, but Wes Clark – here in Vegas for the YearlyKos – claimed that Dreier put $40K into a last minute push poll to eliminate Warner

Not terribly surprised if it is true. Matthews is about as an inept as they come. I know quite a few Dems who held their nose and voted for Dreier after hearing the hate she spewed on John and Ken in 2004.

by Estlin on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 03:16:02 AM EST

(Emphasis added.) How detailed are campaign finance records? Would $40,000 show up as an expenditure if they’re following the rules?

CA-26: An Election Day Mystery

June 8, 2006 at 6:48 pm | In CA-26, Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, David Dreier, Russ Warner | 3 Comments

[cross-posted at Daily Kos, MyDD and Calitics]

A week ago, I wrote a diary here asking for suggestions for starting a new blog to cover the race in CA-26. Two nights ago, I watched and reloaded, slightly disbelieving the preliminary results in the Democratic primary in CA-26, David Dreier (R-Closet)’s district. Russ Warner, endorsed by Gen. Wesley Clark, ran on a moderate platform of “protecting the middle class, promoting small business, and supporting our troops, honoring our veterans.” Clark came to the district, raised money for Warner, and even recorded a robocall for him. Warner was supposed to be the best chance in awhile to defeat Dreier, a tough prospect considering Dreier’s power as Rules Committee chairman and the Republican registration advantage in the district (46% R to 35% D).

Meanwhile, Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews, who came out of the closet during the 2004 election and challenged Dreier to do the same ran again. Matthews gave Dreier the closest margin of any reelected congressman in California in 2004 (54-42), thanks in no small part to the anti-Dreier activism of two radio hosts surrounding immigration. Yet Matthews had raised only $516 as of mid-May and $5,361 as of June 1. Her website is a nightmare. Watching the election from afar, I pretty much wrote her off.

So what were the results on election day?

Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews                 12,836   47.0 
Russ Warner                                10,308   37.8 
Hoyt Hilsman                                4,172   15.2 

That was, to say the least, unexpected. So now I pose the question to you: what happened?

I’m trying to decide if a comparison with CA-50 makes sense (of course that was a special election, not a primary). In assessing Busby’s loss, Matt Stoller argues that Bilbray ran to the left of Busby, who ran as a moderate and highlighted the “Culture of Corruption,” but didn’t really motivate the base. Kos sounds the same message, writing:

As I travelled the country extensively on my book tour I heard the same points over and over again, in city after city. Regular activists out in the states understand these concepts. But the DC bubble politicians and consultants simply don’t get it.

The “culture of corruption” is a nice secondary theme to weave into our broader narrative, but it can’t be the message on which we pin our 2006 hopes.”We’re better managers” won’t inspire our troops to head to battle.

This will be a base election. Inspire and motivate.

See Montana Democrats like Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Jon Tester for a taste of how that’s done. The corruption message helped MT Dems take over the governor’s mansion and legislature in 2004, but that was just a sub-thread of their broader message.

They, and others like Paul Hackett would’ve won CA-50.

Maybe Warner lost because, despite his big name endorsement, he didn’t motivate the base. Or maybe it was just the low turnout due to other factors. Or an inexperienced campaign staff. Whatever the reason, it was quite an upset, and something of a mystery.

Post mortem?

June 7, 2006 at 6:00 pm | In CA-26, Russ Warner | 1 Comment

There’s a few comments below lamenting Warner’s defeat. Does anyone have insight into what happened with the campaign? I’m reluctant to try to do a post mortem right now considering how far off I was (just scroll down and you’ll see). Maybe this will be a much more personal blog after all.
Posting this for posterity:


“First, I would like to thank all of my supporters who worked so hard in this campaign. We kept it positive and focused on the issues. I learned a lot during this election, and I am looking forward to 2008.

I remain committed to taking back the House this year. I have faith that we can do it, and I will be dedicated to supporting those Democrats who can win in November.

Over the next few days, my family and I will take some time to rest, reflect and regroup. Then, it’s time to get busy again. I hope the great group of volunteers who worked with me on my campaign will stay committed and have faith. Together, we can work together for change.”


June 7, 2006 at 8:51 am | In CA-26 | 2 Comments

That was unexpected:

Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews                 12,836   47.0 
Russ Warner                                10,308   37.8 
Hoyt Hilsman                                4,172   15.2 
Melvin C. (Mel) Milton                      3,295    8.2 
Sonny Sardo                                10,692   26.9 
* David Dreier                               25,852   64.9 

Clearly something is going on in this district. One piece may be who bothered to vote. Over at MyDD, Matt Stoller makes this unlikely claim about Busby’s loss. Could it be related?

Brian Bilbray ran to the left of Francine Busby. I know it sounds weird, but he did. That he won on a progressive platform is biggest story of the night. Busby’s loss was a loss no matter how it’s spun, but it’s also a clear sign that the Democrats must become a progressive party. Busby ran the ultimate DC campaign, downplaying ideology and party, and making the campaign about competence, corruption, and issues. I don’t expect this to wake up DC insiders, but you never know.

So let’s look closer at the loss in CA-50 for Michael Duka, I mean, Francine Busby. What is there to say about Busby? She lost against a corrupt lobbyist running as a progressive in a district whose last Congressman resigned because of bribery and prostitution. If any district was tailor made for competence and corruption messaging, it was this one. That it didn’t work should wake some people up. Busby ran explicitly as a ‘moderate’ to restore ethical government, with a patina of ‘issues’ (just look at the incomprehensible ‘issues’ area of her web site). She hid from progressives and liberals explicitly, running on a technocratic vision of minor benefits for the electorate. Busby argued that goverment is a service delivery vehicle, and she can make the trains run on time. The voters rejected that argument because they didn’t trust the messenger. You can say she made up 15 points or something and the Republicans had to spend a lot of resources on this race, and I respect that argument. You can say she made a last-minute gaffe on immigration, and I respect that argument. You can argue that the California Governor’s race depressed turnout. All those are valid arguments. Unfortunately, reality isn’t fair. The map is gerrymandered. The Republicans have more money, a lot more. They have the ability to create last minute gaffes for every Democrat in the country. They have a proven turnout model, and the ability to dominate the agenda with wedge issues and hatred. And Democratic leaders don’t have a history of effective messaging, which means that with some exceptions the top of the ticket ain’t going to be particularly inspiring.

The lesson from last night should be clear. Hiding from progressives and the left will lead to Democratic losses in 2006. Running as a progressive will lead to victory. Running on ‘issues’ and ‘competence’ instead of character will lead to Democratic losses. Talking about how the ‘American people’ care about gas prices and not gay marriage is insulting and loser politics. Running on bullet points is wrong. Running on character is right.

Busby was no progressive, so she lost. She got the indy votes, but couldn’t turn out progressive voters and couldn’t keep in conservative voters. That’s my reading of the race. We should cut the ‘googoo competence and ignore everything else strategy’, it doesn’t work.

Iraq. Gay marriage. Immigration. Iran. Corruption. Get used to election season, 2006. Grab your progressive principles and hold on tight.

Time for bed

June 7, 2006 at 12:14 am | In CA-26 | Comments Off on Time for bed

Time for bed. 80.5% ( 334 of 415 ) precincts reporting as of Jun 7, 2006 at 12:13 am

Cynthia Rodriguez Matthews                  9,702   45.9 
Russ Warner                                 8,152   38.5 
Hoyt Hilsman                                3,311   15.6 
Melvin C. (Mel) Milton                      2,589    7.9 
Sonny Sardo                                 8,803   26.9 
David Dreier                               21,253   65.2 

Polls Closed

June 6, 2006 at 8:48 pm | In CA-26, Russ Warner | 2 Comments

Polls closed half an hour ago. The Warner camp says exit polls have Warner taking an early lead. Here’s a picture of the Warner rally (along 210), which I hear got a lot of support from passing motorists:


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