But as this article in the Washington Post makes clear, the timing is actually quite good for us:
Republican politicians in multiple states have recently decided not to run for Senate next year, stirring anxiety among Washington operatives about the effectiveness of the party's recruiting efforts and whether this signals a broader decline in GOP congressional prospects.The whole article is a treat, full of positive news for different states and both Houses of Congress.
Prominent Republicans have passed up races in North Dakota and West Virginia, both GOP-leaning states with potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Earlier, Republican recruiters on Capitol Hill and at the White House failed to lure their first choices to run in Florida, Michigan and Vermont.
.... With an unpopular war in Iraq, ethical controversies shadowing top Republicans in the House and Senate, and President Bush suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, the waters look less inviting to politicians deciding whether to plunge into an election bid. Additionally, some Capitol Hill operatives complain that preoccupied senior White House officials have been less engaged in candidate recruitment than they were for the 2002 and 2004 elections. ...
Historically, Senate and House races are often won or lost in the year before the election, as a party's prospects hinge critically on whether the most capable politicians decide to invest time, money and personal pride in a competitive race. Often, this commitment takes some coaxing....
The GOP holds 55 Senate seats, but unless the political climate brightens considerably in the next few months, some strategists and analysts believe the next Senate may resemble the one after the 2002 election, when Republicans held the narrowest of majorities....
It is the NRSC's fundraising that some GOP operatives find underwhelming. At the end of August, the NRSC had raised $25 million, just a little less than its counterpart, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But the DSCC has twice as much cash on hand, $16.7 million to the NRSC's $8.2 million....
On the House side, where Republicans hold 231 of the 435 seats, the effect of the political climate on recruiting is less clear. Democrats and Republicans can point to successes in individual races, but no clear national pattern has emerged, analysts say.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) says 50 or more seats are in play and notes that his organization has recruited 40 candidates in competitive districts. His GOP counterpart, Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), says 27 to 37 seats could be close fights. "We will be a majority" after the 2006 elections, vowed the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
As we all know, the Democrats have a great knack for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. But this time should be different. For one thing, the people in charge of the midterm election campaign -- DNC Chairman Howard Dean, DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer and DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel -- are all willing to play hardball and are doing a good job of building the resources to do so. (Having twice as much cash on hand than the GOP for House races is a nice start.) And the current Congressional leadership is showing signs of a fight as well.
I can't stress how important the 2006 elections will be. If the Democrats can take back the House, the Senate or, in a perfect storm, both, they'll be able to do more than scream and shout at the next ridiculous act of Republican corruption or abuse of power. They'll be able to hold hearings, launch investigations, block the right-wing agenda at every turn and generally make life even more miserable for Incurious George and the Man in the
If you feel like kicking them while they're down, and helping ensure they never get back up, go ahead and contribute to the DNC.
(The Bush poster is from the excellent Whitehouse.org, by the way. It's available for purchase here, along with many many others.)
UPDATE: Over at Digby's, Tristero has a nice post about Dean's new strategy at the DNC. Very interesting.