Speaker Heath Shuler? From his debate with Republican Jeff Miller last week:
"You're saying you would not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker?" Miller said.
"If that's the alternative, I will be voting for myself," Shuler replied.
"If she's there you wouldn't vote for her; you'd vote for yourself?" Miller asked.
"I don't know how I can be any clearer," Shuler replied. "I can do as good a job as anybody in the U.S. Congress, because I can actually bring people together."
Shuler's a better chance of being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame than being elected Speaker. Obviously, the ads linking him to Pelosi are starting to get to him. A friend in Waynesville, where Shuler lives when he isn't in DC, reported a strange campaign phone call last week. Although it was a robocall, the voice identified herself as a local school teacher. She said she was upset about all the lies being spread about Heath Shuler. I've watched the ads. The side doing the lying is the Democrats. The idea that Jeff Miller, the owner of a local dry cleaning business in Hendersonville, is part of a Wall Street business cabal is simply ludicrous. And of course, whenever any Democrat has felt heat from the voters in the last 70 years, the now hoary charge comes out that the Republican wants to take Social Security away from the nation's senior citizens.
Shuler's ultimate problem is one face a great many Democrats in rural areas. The swing voters who elected them are the independents and the culturally conservative rural Democrats, but the true Democrat base is most often found in the district's cities and college towns. Thus the more Shuler tries to differentiate himself from Pelosi, the more he risks further alienating the large contingent of the far left in Berkeley in the Blue Ridge, a/ka Asheville. The left was unhappy enough with Shuler's vote against ObamaCare to talk about running a third party candidate against him last Spring. On the same time, many of the area's independents and small business people noted with growing impatience that Shuler was churlish to those who wanted to talk to him about health care reform. Ultimately he didn't come out against ObamaCare until the votes were being counted and it was clear that Pelosi had enough to win.
The ads attacking Shuler's support for Cap & Trade may be very effective. I am served by a co-op and my electric bill seems to have gone up by a third in the past year. Indeed, the rates increased so drastically last Spring that when the owner of a nearby vacation cabin got her bill she called me from Florida and asked me to check her property. She was sure the relatives she had let use the place had left the heat and the lights on. These increases as well as rising gasoline prices have been felt hard in an area where the official unemployment rate is only part of the story. Under employment is widespread as a great many rural people are self employed independent contractors who can't file for unemployment benefits. They just scramble for whatever work they can find, including jobs well below their skill levels.