I come from an academic family and academic families travel a lot - it's that kind of career. As a result I've been to more than my share of college towns either as the son of a professor who had jobs at several Midwestern colleges and universities, a student or a professor. I've lived in three Congressional districts that are increasingly interesting. These are Iowa 2, Ohio 15, and Wisconsin 8. (I've also lived in or otherwise become very familiar with Illinois 15, Indiana 4 and Minnesota 6 but those aren't that interesting right now.) All three districts have incumbent Republican representatives or are open seats currently held by Republicans and a comprehensive poll released today shows that all three have Democrats with nominal leads. Since I've lived in all three I thought I would give you a little background on them.
IA-02: This district contains a number of run of the mill rural Iowa counties. It also contains three small cities: Iowa City, Muscatine and Cedar Rapids. Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa. Muscatine is an industrial port on the Mississippi with lots of union voters. Cedar Rapids is a blue collar town with lots of union voters and also home to two small liberal arts colleges. A third small liberal college (Cornell College) is in nearby Mt. Vernon. This district voted for both Gore and Kerry but has had a Republican representative for 30 years, Jim Leach. He presents himself as a moderate but when push comes to shove he does what he's told and votes with he leadership. His challenger is international relations Professor Dave Loebsack from Cornell College. The poll linked above has Loebsack up by a point. Old friends in the Cedar Rapids area tell me that the Loebsack campaign has been coming in more or less under the radar with few ads and word is they have very little money (hint hint). They say that most of the ads are for the adjacent IA 01 district in which a trailing Republican is accusing the Democrat of being - get this - a Communist! Don't worry, check out the polls for IA-01, the Dinosaur Red Baiter is way behind.
OH-15: This district contains the wealthier suburbs on the Northwest side of Columbus. The old saying used to be that politics in this district ran from "far right to utter darkness." But these people are not the bible waving fanatics that one might expect to find in such a traditionally Republican district. These are small government, balanced budget conservatives of old. They are educated, well paid and sophistocated. They are nervous about Bush's messianic rhetoric but they distrust Democrats and are generally convinced they want to abolish capitalism and take away everyone's money. Republican Deborah Pryce has been representing this district for 14 years and she is trouble now. Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy is leading by 12 points. Ohio's Republican party is having A LOT of problems. The sitting governor, Taft (yes he's related, it's Ohio after all!), pleaded no contest to a series of corruption charges but refused to resign. The Republican candidate to replace him is Ken Blackwell who was largely responsible for a whole range of election related scams in 2004. At the same time Ohio has had their own miniature Abramoff scandal involving a fund raiser for both Taft and Blackwell was involved in a fraudulent rare coin and money laundering scam. Oh, and Bob Ney, who actually rewrote legislation for Abramoff is from Ohio too. Pryce was getting some guilt by association when the Foley thing hit. My friends back in Columbus tell me it has come out that Pryce was a relatively close associate of Foley's and that may be that for Pryce. Let me just underscore this point. If the Republicans lose this seat, it could signal a massive tectonic shift in Ohio politics! It would be the most significant sign that the Columbus area is going blue and taking the rest of Ohio with it.
WI-08: This district contains Green Bay, Door County and Appleton along with a big chunk of rural Northern Wisconsin along the border with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (known locally as "da U.P." The Green Bay and Appleton areas have about 100,000 - 200,000 people each. Joe McCarthy's old stomping grounds, he was from Appleton. The John Birch Society is located here. Need I say more? In presidential election years, Republicans really hope for a big turn out in this district to counter Milwaukee and Madison. UW Green Bay is there. So are a handfull of small liberal arts colleges. But the character of the area is far from intellectual. This area is blue collar to the core. These are your typical Reagan supporting labor types. They are religious, socially conservative and have a tendency towards nationalism. They LOVE guns and hunting! Almost as much as they love beer and brats. By all rights this should be Bush Country and how! This district is open but was held by a Republican, Mark Green, before. Democrat Steve Kagen leads Republican John Gard by 2 points. Again, if this district is close to going for a Democrat, the Republicans are in big big trouble!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 6:23 PM