July 30, 2010
Congressional Democrats Playing Hide and Seek
This election season, voters may see more of Bigfoot on campaign trails than they do congressional Democrats. Word out of more than a few U.S. House districts around the country is that incumbent Democrats are making themselves scarce - or, at least, exclusive.
A little more than a year after feeling the full wrath of infuriated constituents at open-to-the-public town halls, Democrats are either not around their districts or are conducting registration or invitation only events.
Examples abound. For instance, the loose-lipped Paul Kanjorski (PA-11) is on ice, it appears. New Mexico's Martin Heinrich (NM-01) is doing a registration-only event in the Albuquerque area next month. And whatever happened to Baron Hill (IN-09)?
Democratic handlers are tightly guarding access to their incumbents in competitive districts to avoid all those inconvenient and embarrassing encounters with average voters - encounters that are sure to be captured by news crews and bloggers.
Having to explain to angry working Americans and taxpayers votes for government-run health care, debts and deficits that dwarf Mt. Everest, and for turning General Motors into Government Motors might prove election-killers for running-scared Democrats. And how do incumbent Democrats answer the question why they back Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House's big government ring leader?
Here's a tip for GOP challengers. Make an issue of Democrats' scarcity - and keep making it. Make a bigger issue of Democrats not meeting voters in unguarded venues. Congress was in session after the July 4 break, so Democrats made being in Washington an excuse. But the August recess begins today for the House. The excuses are over.
Republican challengers need to be creative. Invite hard-to-find Democratic opponents to sidewalk debates - in front of their headquarters. And invite voters to attend by the score. Do the same at Democrats' registration or invitation only events. Set up outside those events. Take questions and comments from all comers. Invite the media. Democracy is a free-for-all, and Republicans need to show voters they welcome the hurly-burly that their tightly scripted opponents are afraid of.