Later this week I'll write one of my last pieces on the Russell-Murtha race. After analyzing the race carefully, I believe -- sadly -- that the election will not be winnable by Bill Russell; however, any Republican candidate that can chalk up (nearly) 100,000 votes would be in a good position to win the seat when Murtha retires or passes away. (Note: Based on past experience, it appears that Murtha will get approximately 145,000 votes in November, give or take a few thousand.)
Diana Irey has been the strongest challenger Murtha has faced, and she got nearly 79,000 votes (39% of the total) -- and they came in an off-year election. In off years, many people -- tens of thousands -- in the 12th CD don't bother to vote. A viable candidate needs to get a lot of them registered and then to the polling places.
There are ways, over time (perhaps four years), for a strong Republican candidate to win in the 12th. If a candidate shakes 100,000 hands and builds an extremely strong, volunteer-based organization, he (or she) can ESTABLISH A FOUNDATION FOR WINNING.
Right now, I don't see that happening. That means a majority of voters in the 12th will engage in their "Pavlov's Dog Syndrome," salivating every time they see Murtha's name on the ballot.
In the 12th, a truly strong candidate must disabuse voters of the notion that "John Murtha brings home the bacon." In fact, the median household income (MHI) in the 12th is an anemic $30,600 annually. That's one of the lowest totals in the state, about the same MHI as in inner-city Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. So, where's the bacon?
The MHI in the 12th is below the statewide average in either Mississippi and Alabama. The 12th CD is a depressed area. No major companies are interested in establishing facilities in the district. A major reason is that they don't want to deal with a corrupt bully like Murtha.
If a candidate explains such "inconvenient truths" to voters, it may not do a great deal of good. Old illusions, especially ones about Murtha, die hard. If the electorate wants to reward Murtha for bringing his district almost to the economic levels of Alabama and Mississippi, then there's little in the short-term that can be done.
I was getting ready to spend much of my next year working on the Russell-Murtha race. However, I've come to the view that, if 12th District voters want Murtha, then let them have him.
I'd rather spend the time working with candidates, such as Melissa Hart in PA's 4th District, who have a decent chance of winning. I believe she's willing to shake her "100,000 hands," and to build a huge volunteer base. She's committed to doing whatever it takes to win back her seat in Congress.
I wish William Russell all the best in his campaign against Murtha. If he goes door-to-door each day between now and next November, then he has a chance of doing well -- although not of winning outright. I urge voters in the 12th to support him. I also urge him to begin listening to people like yours truly, who have good ideas about how he can sharply increase Republican votes in his district.
I'm going to write more tonight and tomorrow about the New Hampshire primary. My father was born in Berlin (stress first syllable), New Hampshire, and I visited the state frequently when I lived in New England (VT & CT). The registration patterns in NH are unlike those in any other state -- with a tremendous number of "Independents."
Regarding Hillary Clinton, whom I regard as the best (by far) of the Democratic candidates. My friend Cindy at http://thepinkflamingo.blogharbor.com/blog wrote me that Hillary is at her best when she's apparently "down" and behind.My response to Cindy: Monday, January 7, 2008: Hillary's another person who should hire you and me -- we wouldn't accept, but she needs some political realists around her. Also, she has a few conservative instincts and she should start letting them blossom. Obama is terrible on the WOT and other key issues, and Hillary should start pointing that out -- not be always trying to win the far Leftists whom she needs to avoid. Twenty percent of the registered Dems in the U.S. want us to lose in Iraq. She needs to wash her hands of those people. She must emphasize that the U.S. wins the WOT or else nothing that patriotic people (Dem. and Repub.) want for themselves and their children will come true. If she goes down, she should go down with guns blazing. Hillary should demonstrate her understanding that America's problems will be solved by the American people -- not by any particular President. Her husband understands that key point, and she should also.