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In my last diary, I gave some of the results of an analysis I ran on the 2004 House Elections, trying to find candidates who did better and worse than they "should" have.  To keep the diary from being too long, I decided I'd go over weak Republican incumbents separately.  Some of theses names might be familiar to you, and some others had interesting challengers (OH-04's Ben Konop) or unusual dynamics (make sure you read about David Dreier's race, at least).

Introduction/Big Picture:

Part of my point with these diaries is that we might well be systematically under-estimating the power of incumbency because the most recent cycles in our memory have been atypical "waves".

In 2004, very few incumbent-held seats were close at all.  Only these seats were decided by less than a 10 point margin:

IN    9    Hill
PA    6    Gerlach
IL    8      Crane
GA    12    Burns
CT    4    Shays
CO    4    Musgrave
SD    AL    Herseth
MN    6    Kennedy
CT    2    Simmons
OR    5    Hooley
NM    1    Wilson
IN    8    Hostettler
IN    2    Chocola
NC    11    Taylor
and only the first five were decided by less than a five-point margin.  That includes three incumbents who lost--Hill, Crane, and Burns--and two relatively narrow Republican wins by Shays and Gerlach in suburban Kerry districts.  (Maybe I owe Diane Farrell a drink or something.)  

Most incumbents won somewhere between pretty easily and very easily--whoever their opponents were, whatever the fundraising and campaign spending situations were, whatever the seat was.

That's why, when I ran twohundertseventy's simple regression model predicting Republican two-party vote share entirely from incumbency and PVI, the difference between an election with a Republican incumbent, an open seat, and an election with a Democratic incumbent swamped most differences in PVI.

Rvote = 19.47+9.61*Rinc-13.53*Dinc+0.63*PVI
What that means is that Republican incumbents did 9.6 points better than Republicans in open seats, who in turn did 13.53 points better than Republicans running against Democratic incumbents, assuming no change in 2000-2004 PVI.  

(Thanks to David Nir reminding me that I had the Georgia numbers, I re-ran my regression analysis, and got a slightly different equation from my first diary, included here.  Fortunately, and unsurprisingly, that doesn't change too many of my results from the first diary.)

We talk a lot in DKE about candidate quality vs. fundamentals and their influence on elections.  The past might not be prologue, for various reasons, but in 2004, the partisanship of a district and (especially) the party of the incumbent Representative determined a great deal about that district's election.  Not everything--there were definitely weak incumbents and strong challengers.  But, while candidate quality had a very real effect, it was very often less than the effect of the fundamentals.

2004:

This list of races where the Republican "stealth PAC" United Seniors Association aired "issue ads" might serve as a decent list of the 2004 election cycle's marquee races were--that is, the races people thought would end up being close and important.  The power of such ads might be limited, since, as we'll see, we have a mix of races where the Republican incumbent under-performed (Chris Chocola, Phil Crane, Jim Gerlach, Max Burns, Robin Hayes) along with races where the Democratic incumbent under-performed (David Wu), and races where the Democratic incumbent over-performed (Jim Matheson).

Best-Performing Republican Incumbents:

The model has these Representatives as the best-performing Republican incumbents, in this order:

AZ    3    Shadegg
NE    3    Osborne
DE    AL    Castle
TN    2    Duncan, John
NY    23    McHugh
MD    1    Gilchrest
AK    AL    Young, Don
FL    10    Young, Bill
NJ    2    LoBiondo
WI    8    Green
OR    2    Walden
NJ    4    Smith, Chris
MI    10    Miller, Candice
NJ    3    Saxton
IL    18    LaHood
TN    1    Jenkins
IL    16    Manzullo
Not too many surprises on there, although it's an interesting list of politicians.  Many of them racked up dominant performances in moderate districts, and we also have the two most Senior Republicans currently in the House, the Youngs.

Although, at the time, the most Senior Republican in the House was Phil Crane.  

Which brings us to...


Worst-Performing Republican Incumbents:

Since 2004 was followed by two consecutive Democratic wave elections, and since Democratic electoral junkies might well have good reason to focus more on weak Republicans than on weak Democrats, the list of the worst-performing Republican incumbents of 2004 might not have as many surprises on it:

IL    8    Crane
WY    AL    Cubin
CO    4    Musgrave
IN    8    Hostettler
UT    3    Cannon
OH    4    Oxley
NC    11    Taylor
GA    12    Burns
MN    6    Kennedy
FL    13    Harris
PA    6    Gerlach
IN    2    Chocola
NC    8    Hayes
CA    26    Dreier
OK    1    Sullivan
KS    2    Ryun
It's rather striking that nearly all of these Representatives have retired, run for higher office, or lost primaries or general elections by now.  At most one, Jim Gerlach, will be in the House next year, while, looking at my previous diary's list of weak Democrats, Thompson, Sánchez, Moran, Bishop, Kind, Boswell, McCollum (who maybe shouldn't have been on the list), and Holt are all still around, even if Boswell faces a potentially-difficult road to re-election.

Perhaps this list might dissuade you from thinking that the Dems went on to beat some of thsee Representatives by recruiting good challengers.  I think it shows they were likely weak incumbents,  but challenger quality might have mattered anyway.  Anyway, let's get to these elections!

1. IL-08: Republican incumbent Phil Crane lost 52-48 to Democratic challenger Melissa Bean, in a district where John Kerry was only managing 44% of the vote.  (It had a massive swing in between 2004 and 2008, giving favorite son Barack Obama 56%.)  According to the regression, this would actually count as an over-performance by Crane in an open seat, which might mean there weren't enough open seats in 2004 for the model to do well by them.  Anyway, Bean spent $1,586,829 to Crane's $1,618,074.  

According to a NYT article questionably reprinted by Dailykos, Crane was " a fire-breathing antitax crusader who [...] loves being called the most conservative member of the House of Representatives".  As Crane's Wiki points out, he was the most senior Republican in the House when he lost, and fourth in seniority overall, behind only Dingell, Conyers, and Obey.  

The writing must have been long on the wall.  Here's CNN, as Crane was losing:

The Chicago Tribune endorsed Bean, writing, "It has become evident that Crane's interest in serving his constituents has evaporated."

Bean's major criticism of Crane was that he had grown complacent and had failed to change with the times and stand up for the district. She cited as prime examples his voting to cut student loans, allowing exploratory oil drilling on Lake Michigan and supporting privatization of Social Security.

Crane fought back, calling his opponent out about not living in the district, claiming Bean would raise taxes if elected and saying she flip-flopped in support of the Bush tax plan.

While the area had been a long-time stronghold for Republicans, Democratic supporters believed that may be changing. The district, once primarily farmers, has undergone a boom and is more suburban, bringing in a more moderate base and eroding the conservative numbers who in the past have been loyal to Crane.

My impression is that the Trib has endorsed very few Democrats in its long history.  (I don't know how well that "formerly rural suburbs and exurbs will be Democratic opportunities" thesis is holding up, though.)

This was a rare successful rematch, as Bean had faced Crane in 2002.  Here's Wiki:

In 2002, Crane's Democratic opponent was business consultant Melissa Bean, who accused Crane of being out of touch with his constituents. Indeed, even some Republican voters claimed they had not seen him in decades. He was one of the few congressmen whose Washington office lacked a public email address. Despite being dramatically outspent (she received almost no funding from the national level), Bean surprised both parties by garnering 43% of the vote in a district that supposedly had been redrawn after the 2000 Census to protect Crane (several previous opponents from both parties found their homes drawn out of the 8th and into the neighboring 10th).

[...and then he lost in 2004...]

The Almanac of American Politics described Crane as "an unusually bitter loser, refusing to speak to Bean or to arrange for the usually routine post-election transfer of district cases and other office files."[5]

Bean was indeed heavily outspent in 2002, but she still spent a reasonably-competitive $320,956 to Crane's $834,585.

2. WY-AL: Barbara Cubin is probably a familiar "netroots" name, since, despite representing one of the most Republican states in the country, she nearly lost to Gary Trauner in the much-watched Democratic wave election of 2006.  But even in 2004, as Wikipedia notes, she had a weak showing.  She only won 55.3% of the vote over Democratic challenger Ted Ladd, even as Bush won 69%.  Cubin had the money advantage, spending $927,908, but Ladd spent competitively, spending $362,563.  

So, who is Ted Ladd?  He's a former horseshoer who later went on to an Ivy League education--what we call the "inverse Chafee".  His LinkedIn page clarifies that he went to Milton Academy, one of the fanciest prep schools in the country.  The formerly-linked Washington Post bio admirably tries to spin this Ivy League elitist into a stereotypically Wyoming-suitable candidate:

As a teenager, he earned a two-week certificate in horseshoeing and spent a year working on ranches in Wyoming and Australia before realizing he was too tall and gangly to be much good at the trade _ he's 6'2" _ and opted for college.

At Cornell University, he studied biology, government and sociology, always with an eye toward returning to Wyoming. He did come back, after graduating in 1992, but said he soon realized that working as a biologist wouldn't pay the bills.

He moved to Washington to work on the House Committee on International Relations. That, like working on the state grizzly bear team, was interesting work, he said, but didn't pay much.

[...]

With an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in international economics from Johns Hopkins University, Ladd settled in to work for Palm, the California-based handheld electronics company. Eventually, though, he said he decided the life was "too crazy," and the path he was headed down "not what I aspired to when I was a 16-year-old in Wyoming, saying I would never leave."

He and his wife opened their own business in Wilson, Wyo., where family members had settled down, and began working as consultants to entrepreneurs.

[...]

Ted Ladd has served on the board of the Wyoming Business Council since 2003, but this is his first run for office.

This (Free Republic-copied) article from the Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle suggests that Ladd was reading from the Russ Feingold playbook:
Before the primary, Ladd issued his Contract with Wyoming, in which he has promised, if elected, to visit every county in the state at least once a year, to be present to vote in the House at least 90 percent of the time, and to not vote to increase the deficit unless he finds a cut to balance out the spending.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't give much sense of why Cubin was weak, since the focus is all on Ladd.  According to this article after Cubin beat Ladd, "Ladd made a campaign issue of how Cubin has one of the worst career voting-attendance records in Congress. Also, King said, Cubin has been a 'rank-and-file' voter for her party, 'sometimes at the expense of what might be Wyoming interests.'"

3. CO-04: Continuing our run of Republicans that you already knew were weak candidates, incumbent Marilyn Musgrave only got 51% in this 58% Bush district against Democratic challenger Stan Matsunaka, who got 44.8%.  Musgrave would go on to win even less impressively in 2006 before losing in a landslide in 2008.

Anyway, Musgrave vastly outspent Matsunaka, spending $3,314,507 to his $868,439.  As Wiki points out, this was yet another re-match, as Matsunaka and Musgrave (then both Colorado State Senators) had faced off for the open seat the previous election cycle, spending much more equally.

As with many of these races, a lot of the information I can find comes from the early liberal bloggers, like MyDD, TalkLeft, and, uh, kos:

The second endorsement goes to Stan Matsunaka, who is facing off against one of Colorado's two chief haters -- Marilyn Musgrave (the other being Tom Tancredo). Musgrave is the chief backer of the Federal Hate Amendment, seeking to deny gays the right to marriage. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll let Andrew Sullivan take it away:

Her record is almost entirely devoted to an obsession with homosexuality. In 1998, the Denver Post reported the following: "Musgrave's four years in the House have produced few dividends for her district. A region with intense school-finance and highway needs and a distressed agricultural base has bigger worries than gay marriage, the issue to which Musgrave has devoted much of her energy. Further, her abrasive tactics appear to have blocked her efforts in other, more constructive, areas."

So we can safely conclude that Musgrave is a wackjob. But what about Stan?

He's a moderate, no doubt, but has voted for civil unions when a member of the state legislature. He also opposes the FMA, and thinks it should be left up to the states. The AFL-CIO gave him a 96 percent rating and the Colorado Women's Agenda rated him at 100%.

(Remember when that's how liberal bloggers would praise a candidate?  Times have changed.)

For a change, in this election, the Democrat was the one (well, at least one of the ones) who went with the "betraying the troops" tactic:

A new ad attacking Rep. Marilyn Musgrave features a pink-suited woman flitting into a fiery battle and taking money out of a soldier's wallet.

"Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave claims nobody supports our troops more than she does, but she voted to slash veterans' benefits by $14 billion," the narrator of the ad says.

The television ad, which started Sunday, is second in a series in which a pink-clad actress portrays Musgrave. Political science professors observing the race warn that the ads may be so over the top that they harm Musgrave's Democratic opponent, Stan Matsunaka.

I don't know if they did much one way or the other--my strong suspicion is that all of these races had much more to do with Musgrave than with anything her challengers said or did.  According to Wiki, again, in 2004:
Musgrave won by six points (51-45%) — the closest margin in the district since 1974. Matsunaka won two of the three biggest counties in the district — Larimer County (including Loveland and Fort Collins) and the district's share of Boulder County (including Longmont). However, Musgrave soundly defeated him in Weld County (including Greeley)[.]
By the way: Despite the "What's the Matter with Kansas" view that Republicans make up for their problems on economic issues with their success on social issues, my sense has long been that an extreme "social conservative" like Musgrave makes a much worse candidate than, say, a Scott Walker, a Paul Ryan, a Jeff Flake, or a Ron Paul.  People like Musgrave are easily caricatured even to relatively apolitical voters.  And I think this kind of exercise helps to support that.

4. IN-08: In another district Democrats would win in 2006, Republican incumbent John Hostettler managed only 53% of the vote against Democratic challenger Jon Paul Jennings, even as Kerry got only 38% of the vote here.  A remarkable under-performance--I don't know if it's made more or less remarkable by the fact that Jennings buried the incumbent's fundraising, spending $1,499,920 to Hostettler's $494,781.  Holy shit!

So who the hell is Jon Jennings?  Like everyone who does anything in Indiana, there's a basketball connection, with Jennings having worked as a "student manager for the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team" and later in various roles for the Boston Celtics.  At the time, I suppose, he apparently "considered a run at Lt. Governor in Massachusetts " before he "worked in the White House under President Clinton", again in a variety of roles (see his earlier-linked Wiki).  Although that might have been " with a fellowship awarded while he was attending Harvard University."  An endorsement from the Evansville Courier & Press said Jennings' "most high-profile position has been as a professional basketball scout", but maybe in Indiana that trumps "acting assistant Attorney General of the United States".

The NRCC was concerned enough to go after Jennings with this amazing, only-in-Indiana advertisement:

The National Republican Congressional Campaign commercial opens with a cartoon image of a basketball-dribbling leprechaun, with Jennings' face pasted on top of the leprechaun's body. "The first Hoosier value is honesty," a voice in the commercial says. "Apparently it's not one he learned in Boston."
Here was another ad from the NRCC:
The ad is based on MoveOn.org's endorsement of Jennings' candidacy. It begins by saying, "In an already hateful election, MoveOn.org made it worse. MoveOn.org posted an ad comparing President Bush to Adolph Hitler. Now, they've endorsed Jon Jennings for Congress.

"They're the same radical group that wants to allow homosexuals to marry, and opposed money for troops in Iraq which included needed body armor.

"Now, this group sees something it likes in Jon Jennings --a man who claims to share our values."

The ad concludes: "Sorry Jon. Hate is not a Hoosier value." The ad shows flames in the background

.

(This is such an exhausting election cycle to write about.  Especially the Republican incumbents.  Shut the hell up about MoveOn.org.)

MyDD quoted all of a CQ article about the race:

Republican Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana's 8th Congressional District has narrowly overcome better-funded opponents in each of his five House elections -- mostly by cultivating an impressive voter turnout organization.  [...] Jennings said that during the course of his long campaign to unseat Hostettler, he has built a campaign organization rivaling that of the incumbent.

[...]

Chris Paulitz, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), also said that voters also appreciate a political independence that has been manifest in Hostettler's votes -- such as his opposition, extremely rare among House Republicans, to the 2002 resolution to authorize military force against Iraq.  [...] But Jennings is seeking to use Hostettler's contrarian streak against the incumbent. In a television ad that is currently airing in the district, Jennings' campaign hits Hostettler for sometimes being in a tiny minority voting against popular legislation on ideological grounds, such as the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Jennings also is a difficult target for GOP opposition researchers. He takes conservative stances on social issues such as abortion and guns, while emphasizing bread-and-butter economic issues that play to Democratic strengths, such as the decline of manufacturing jobs and the rising costs of prescription drugs.

[...]

But Paulitz noted that Hostettler "continually wins without raising much money" by turning out his voters. "It's unconventional, but he gets the job done," Paulitz said. "He's amazing at it."

The NRCC has helped Hostettler close the money gap by spending at least $422,000 on the contest, including a television ad campaign that questions Jennings' ties to Indiana.

Sounds like Jennings did pretty much everything right (at least according to the conventional wisdom about what Democrats in these kinds of districts should do), but Hostettler was the incumbent, and it's a Republican district, and there wasn't a wave.

5. UT-03: Republican incumbent Chris Cannon scored a massive 63.4% of the vote against wonderfully-named Democratic challenger Beau Babka, who got 32.5%.  However, this is UT-03, and John Kerry was only getting 20% of the vote here!  For an incumbent running against a challenger, that's a pretty massive over-performance, perhaps especially since Cannon spent $640,259 and Babka only spent $35,111.  (That nearly always seems to mean that the challenger wasn't running much of a campaign at all.)

Darth Jeff's diary tells me that Cannon had fended off a primary challenge earlier in 2004 with a less-than-impressive 58% of the vote.  Still, Babka campaigned aggressively, and maybe a little delusionally:

Babka held the event on the doorsteps of Cannon's downtown Provo office on behalf of "the victims of Chris Cannon" — and Cannon responded angrily to claims made by Babka in a flier, a press release and during the rally.

A Babka campaign flier hailed it as a "final, massive, press conference" for the Democratic challenger, but only one reporter and one cameraman from a TV news station showed up to see about 20 people protest Cannon[.]

According to that article, Babka hit Cannon on outsourcing, privatizing Social Security, and on claims he personally profited from his policies.  As Darth Jeff pointed out, Cannon's primary challengers were inspired by his position on immigration, and Babka might have actually run to his right there:
Already a force in the Republican primary, where immigration restrictionist Matt Throckmorton came closer than anyone ever has to defeating the four-term incumbent, immigration surfaced again Thursday during the taping of a debate at KUTV.

[...]

We don't have good quality jobs here to sustain our work force," said Babka who positions himself as "a regular guy two paychecks from catastrophe."

Cannon readily admitted supporting outsourcing and conceded, "we have lost jobs." But he said they were "low-paying" jobs occupied by the "uneducated."

"People need to take charge of their lives . . . and get an education," said Cannon, noting that sacrificing entry-level work is a small price to pay to keep the economy afloat.

The exchange especially heated up when Babka touted himself as the candidate who will improve homeland security by increasing funding to hire more border patrol and U.S. Customs workers.

I'm beginning to see why Cannon wasn't the best candidate.  Anyway, it seems that Babka was a Republican before running against Cannon, and later ran for Salt Lake County sheriff as a Republican.  He did eventually become South Salt Lake police chief, but his certification was suspended after "misusing public funds for using his city-issued credit card to put $120 worth of gas in his personal vehicle".  (By then, he was with the Cottonwood Heights police department, I think.)

6. OH-04: This might be the most obscure election on the list.  Oxley, the Republican incumbent best-known for co-sponsoring the Sarbanes-Oxley financial regulation bill, got 59% of the vote against Democratic challenger Ben Konop.  Oxley spent  $1,909,844 to Konop's meager $178,197.  But this was a heavily Republican district in the exurban territory far in between Columbus and Toledo where Kerry was only getting 34% of the vote, so Konop out-performed Kerry by 7 points as a little-funded challenger against a longtime incumbent.  Wiki calls this "the most difficult reelection campaign of [Oxley's] career"--it might well have helped prompt Oxley to retire.

Unlike most of these elections, then, this was probably about Konop more than it was about Oxley.  So who the hell is Konop?  At the time, he was just a 28 year old, a few years out of the University of Michigan Law School.  Apparently (and I read this somewhere else as well) he was inspired to run by Representative Marcy Kaptur:

The topic came up last month on the way to a White House Christmas Party[...] U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) knew Ben Konop wanted a career in public service, and told him about her work recruiting Ohio Democrats to run for the U.S. House of Representatives - and specifically about one district where the incumbent was an entrenched Republican and the odds were long.

Having once worked in her Capitol Hill office, Mr. Konop, a native of the Toledo area and now a Washington lawyer, knew and respected her.

He left the White House that night inspired and impressed [...and i]t began a process of exploration that climaxed in his filing Jan. 2 to run a campaign in Ohio s 4th District. Friday, he left his law firm in Washington to move to Ada, Ohio, to campaign full time against incumbent Republican Mike Oxley, of nearby Findlay.

(So, like Ted Ladd, he was a well-educated young carpetbagger in a rural/exurban district, but they both did pretty well.  Conventional wisdom might not always hold up.)

According to this contemporary campus publication, Konop did the things that Democrats are often told they should do. saying:

"The job market throughout the district is terrible.We need to favor fair trade, not the free trade system we have now.  In contrast, my opponent votes for every free trade bill that passes through Congress, and is quoted as saying 'outsourcing is yesterdays news'.  That shows how out of touch he is with the district."
Another article in that same publication suggests that Oxley might, in fact, have been having some bad press at the time:
Oxley added that Konop had been "recruited by the Toledo Blade and shuttled into the
Fourth District" to run against him. Recently, in an award-winning series, the Blade reported questionable actions by Oxley. The series reported numerous occasions that Oxley had allowed big business to pay for trips abroad. The Blade criticized Oxley, for not living in Ohio since 1986. Instead his primary home is in McLean, Va, a suburb of Washington DC.
Oxley also made this baffling claim, which isn't really relevant, but I can't resist quoting it:
Oxley did not feel that unemployment was a problem in the district, despite the 89,000 employment petitions that have been filed in the last two years.  He added, "Three of the counties in the district, one of them Hancock, are among the top 10 with good work ethic in Ohio."
Um, citation needed?  Is this some ACS category even I don't know about?

Anyway, I'm sure I can find more on this election, but I want to focus on the WATN, as Konop had an interesting career after this election.  According to Wiki, in 2006, Konop was elected to the Lucas County Commission.  Lucas County, as it happens, isn't in OH-04--perhaps Oxley had a point when he told Konop that he "ought to be running for city council in Toledo".

Despite running "on the platform of transformative change for the county" he didn't have the easiest time there:

Konop is often outvoted by his fellow commissioners, Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak.

Konop said he didn’t expect everything he proposed to pass, but the continual no votes was “very disheartening.” Konop’s frustration with being outvoted 2-to-1 on every major initiative was eventually what led to him running for the mayor of Toledo, he said.

[...]

Konop finished fifth in the primary election out of six candidates.

Later in the article are these beautiful sentences of real-life black comedy:  "Konop participated in his last commissioners’ meeting Dec. 14, as the final meeting of the year was cancelled by a 2-to-1 vote.  Konop said he was “surprised” by his fellow commissioners’ decision to cancel the meeting and was upset that he wouldn’t be able to honor volunteers who worked on the Dog Warden Advisory Committee."  It also mentioned an unnamed federal role for Konop, but according to Wiki, he became a columnist for the Toledo Blade.

I don't know what Konop's doing now, but I don't blame him, at least not based on what I've read.  His showing in OH-04 really was an accomplishment.

7. NC-11: In yet another race where the Democrats would win the next time around, Republican incumbent Charles Taylor won only 55% of the vote against Democratic challenger Patsy Keever, even as Bush got 57% of the vote here.  Both candidates spent heavily--Taylor spent $1,584,993 to Keever's  $1,180,348.  

Keever, a former Buncombe County Supervisor, actually led some polls here, which shows you how reliable House polling is.  Here's an article from Duke's magazine:

The pitch was good exposure arranged by her campaign manager, Betsy Keever, who also happens to be her youngest daughter. Since May 2004, the two have been galloping around North Carolina's 11th District, shaking hands, speaking to civic clubs, and raising money for Patsy's campaign. "People say, 'Now you get to tell your mom what to do,' " says Betsy. "But it's not that way. It's more of a partnership. We both understand what our new roles are and play them."

On November 2, the retired middle-school teacher faces seven-term Republican incumbent Charles Taylor. Though Keever is a veteran commissioner for Asheville's Buncombe County, she is a rookie at running for national office. The pundits have her pegged as a long shot but, by early September, Keever and her supporters had out-raised Taylor's campaign for three quarters running. They had also assembled a network of 600-plus volunteers, who were busy making phone calls, knocking on doors, and arranging fund-raisers.

Here's a blog that seems to have often backed Keever:
The latest good news came in today as Howard Dean’s Democracy for America named Keever as one of newest members of the Dean Dozen – candidates supported by Howie D. and his grassroots network. From DFA’s email announcement, “Retired public school teacher Patsy Keever needs your help today. The Republican incumbent in the 11th Congressional District is a rubber stamp for George W. Bush… and we can change that. Democracy for America joins the grassroots of Democracy for North Carolina in enthusiastically backing Patsy Keever in her race to take back North Carolina. www.keeverforcongress.com”

This endorsement comes on the heels of backing by Atrios at Eschaton that’s garnered Keever over $6,100 in donations in a week. Keever’s bio at Emily’s List rounds out the fantastic endorsements that have come her way.

Naturally, the poll showing her up was touted by the "netroots".  Anyway, the pundits were right, but Keever did well, all things considered.  (I also like how DFA described her as a "retired public school teacher" rather than as a Buncombe County Commissioner, but such is the norm of these things.)  

As Keever's Wiki points out, she was later elected to a NC House seat in Buncombe County after decisively beating the incumbent, D. Bruce Goforth, in the Democratic primary.  (Goforth allegedly had "the worst environmental record" in the state.)  She's currently in an even-more-uphill Congressional race against Patrick McHenry.

8. GA-12: Republican incumbent Max Burns only managed 48.2% of the vote against his Democratic challenger, John Barrow, in this 54% Kerry district.  According to Wikipedia, this whole situation might have been something of a fluke:

The 12th had been one of the districts Georgia gained as a result of the 2000 United States Census. The district, with its 40% African-American population, had supposedly been drawn for a Democrat. However, Republican college professor Max Burns had won the seat in 2002 because of ethical questions surrounding the Democrat nominee, Charles "Champ" Walker, Jr. Barrow won a four-way primary and went on to defeat Burns by 52% to 48%.
(Speaking of flukes: A Republican college professor?)  The district, indeed, had a strange tendril to Athens, where Barrow had been a City Councilman and County Commissioner.  Burns, like many ultimately-defeated incumbents, outspent his challenger, spending $2,794,891 to Barrow's $1,848,822.  (Although the second article I linked to mentions a big DCCC investment--$1.5 million.)

Several contemporary news articles back up the idea that the district's Presidential numbers were seen as misleading even at the time, such as this one, after Burns' loss:

The challenger cemented his victory by rolling up big margins in the district's urban areas - Savannah, Augusta and Athens.

Burns easily carried the rural and suburban areas such as Effingham, Bulloch and Screven counties, but there weren't enough votes to bridge the gap.

The recent voting history of the 12th, which meanders from Savannah to Augusta and Athens, is said to be the most Democratic of any congressional district in the country.

"Maybe Burns could have gotten through for one more term," said University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock. "But sooner or later, it would have elected a Democrat. The district is just very inhospitable to Republicans."

[...]

Late in the campaign, Barrow repeatedly used television advertising and an interactive Web site to blast Burns for backing a national sales tax plan the challenger dubbed the "Max tax."

Barrow, who said the proposed tax would ruin the middle class, said the issue helped him win.
"It certainly illustrated the differences between us," he said.

Both candidates worked hard to win support from blacks, who usually back Democrats and comprise nearly 40 percent of the district's electorate.

Some predicted U.S. Rep. Denise Majette of Stone Mountain, who is African American and was the Democrats' U.S. Senate nominee, would boost turnout among blacks.

Majette lost overwhelmingly, but county-by-county results suggest that Barrow did well among black voters in Savannah and Augusta.

Do you really need county-by-county results to tell you that the Democrat did better among black voters?  Note that, even though this was a rather Democratic district (decidedly not the most Democratic in the country, but perhaps they're including down-ballot races), Burns' defeat still counts as an upset.  And that's thanks to the power, on average, of incumbency.  For what it's worth: He "should have" gotten about 58% of the vote.

9. MN-06: John Kerry only got 42% of the vote in this exurban district, now represented by Michele Bachmann.  Despite this, Republican incumbent Mark Kennedy could only manage 54% of the vote against Democratic challenger Patty Wetterling.  Spending was near parity, although Kennedy had the advantage, spending $2,381,634 to Wetterling's $1,935,813.  Wetterling, of course, would go on to perform impressively in this district against Michele Bachmann in the next cycle.

This was only two years after redistricting had apparently removed much of Kennedy's old territory, although he easily beat a self-funder in 2002.  Anyway, it's a 2004 race against a Republican incumbent, so here's the inevitable "soft on terror" ad:

Congressman Mark Kennedy has been running an ad in recent weeks suggesting he's tougher on the war on terror. In the ad, he and an unknown woman suggest his opponent, DFLer Patty Wetterling, is not as strong on the issue.

"It's wrong for some suggest that we should not have fought in Afghanistan or that we would be safer with Saddam still in power," the ad says.

Wetterling says she was offended by the ad and calls it untrue. She says she supports the war in Afghanistan and supports the overall war on terror. On the issue of the war in Iraq, Wetterling says she would like to see broader international support for the war.

Kennedy fired back that the ad was totally justified because Wetterling (sigh) was backed by MoveOn.org.  According to that article, he was also endorsed by a firefighter's union, and he apparently ran on "sportsmen's issues" as well.  Wetterling, for her part, was "proud" to be a single-issue candidate:
Wetterling has become a nationally known figure for something she wished had never happened. In 1989, her son Jacob was abducted and has never been found. Since that time, Wetterling has been an advocate for child protection issues on the state and federal level.

[...]

"I've been accused of being a single issue candidate and I'm so proud of that" Wetterling told the crowd. "It's good. I really can't think of a single issue that doesn't affect our children and I think that voice needs to be heard."

Wetterling's campaign says it would be a mistake to turn Wetterling into a policy wonk. They say she's just a average person running for Congress.

Anyway, that worked pretty well in this district in 2004, but not well enough to beat the incumbent Kennedy.

10. FL-13: Despite having only served a single term, Republican incumbent Katherine Harris was a national figure after serving as Secretary of State during Florida's 2000 debacle and appearing on television with too much makeup.  Fortunately for political analysts and Wonkette readers, she managed to live up to the questionable caricature of her so many liberals quickly formed.  As the incumbent in this 44% Kerry district based in Sarasota, Harris only managed 55% of the vote against her Democratic challenger, the multiply-Ivy-educated attorney Jan Schneider.  Schneider was massively out-spent, with Harris spending $3,556,976 to Schneider's $576,790.  

Like many of the races in my last diary, this was a re-match--Harris similarly defeated Schneider in 2002 to win her initial election, and had an even-greater spending advantage then.  Perhaps Schneider's increased spending helped her overcome Harris' incumbency advantages, or perhaps a famous politician like Katherine Harris had some of the advantages (and costs) of incumbency even in the open seat race.   (Those totals might include primary spending, and Schneider faced the wealthy Christine Jennings in the 2004 primary.)

Here's a contemporary article about the race.  Like many articles involving Katherine Harris, it's hard to know when to stop quoting:

Harris has far outspent her opponent, having raised $2.2-million during her re-election campaign, and spent a considerable amount of money on TV ads in the Tampa Bay market.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have not exactly poured money into Schneider's coffers; they donated $7,499 to her campaign, while most of the rest of her contributions come from private individuals, including retirees and artists.

As of Sept. 30, Schneider had raised $340,000, and spent nearly two-thirds of that on her primary bid.

Della Bailey of Bradenton, who was shopping at St. Armand's Circle on a recent sunny day, said she would vote for Harris. "She's a very good speaker, and I like the things that she's done."

Although Bailey, 52, couldn't name any of those things, she has a positive view of Harris.

"I like her a lot," she said.

[...]

Walter said Harris rubbed some people the wrong way earlier this year when she claimed that a terrorist plot existed to blow up the power grid in Carmel, Ind. City officials said they knew of no such plot. Harris later said she regretted causing any concern when she mentioned the alleged plot, and that a man of Middle Eastern heritage who had explosives in his home had been arrested.

[...the DCCC promised to air ads...]

And if Schneider needs anything, it's name recognition.

"Jan is totally untested in our community," said former Sarasota mayor Mollie Cardamone, a Republican who was going to cross party lines if Christine Jennings, another Democrat, had won the primary. "Jan does not have a broad base of friendship or support or involvement."

Schneider needs exposure even among Democrats, many of whom intensely dislike Harris.

"If I do vote, I don't think I'll be voting for Katherine Harris," said Brittany Thrush, a 21-year-old coffeeshop barista in Sarasota who has definite ideas on the presidential race but no clear ideas on the House contest.

Thrush said she served Harris a latte in her coffeeshop last year, and Harris was extremely snippy when she spied a little milk froth in her cup.

"It's kind of hard to avoid foam on a latte," said Thrush. "I guess she's a no-foam kind of gal."

Thrush said she also disagrees with Harris' positions on education, abortion and the war.

Still, Thrush had no idea who Harris' opponent is.

"I don't know anything about that person," she said.

Harris', uh, specific coffee tastes would later come up (repeatedly) during Wonkette's wonderful coverage of her comical run against incumbent Senator Bill Nelson in 2006.  But despite Schneider's name recognition problems and lack of funding, she did better here than many other challengers did.

11. PA-06: Suburban Philadelphia Republican Jim Gerlach has a formidable reputation after surviving two Democratic wave years, but his initial wins were narrow.  In 2002, Gerlach got 51% of the vote against Democratic challenger Dan Wofford, the son of former Senator Harris Wofford.  In 2004, as the incumbent, Gerlach again got 51% of the vote, this time against Democratic challenger Lois Murphy, a Harvard-educated attorney and NARAL activist from the lovely suburb of Lower Merion--while Kerry was getting 52%.  Still, incumbents are supposed to dominate.  Murphy had apparently also chaired Ed Rendell's campaign in Montgomery County, a crucial role.

Both Gerlach and Murphy spent extremely heavily--he spent $2,223,569 to her $1,910,539.  (In their 2006 re-match, they both spent even more, and she actually out-spent him, only to have him collect yet another 2-point victory.)  If you need a reminder of how exhausting the 2004 election campaigns were--and I don't know why you would, if you've been reading these diaries--this should remind you:

Officials for the reelection campaign of freshman GOP incumbent Jim Gerlach attacked his Sixth Congressional District Democratic opponent, Lois Murphy, for accepting money from MoveOn.org PAC, an Internet-based grassroots organization that supports Democrats.

"It is a wacko, extremist group," Gerlach spokesman John Gentzel said. A press release from the Gerlach camp stated that the group's "radical agenda" included spending millions of dollars on advertisements comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler. It called on the Murphy campaign to return any money it received from the PAC.

Hannah Pingree, national candidate outreach coordinator for the MoveOn.org PAC, said the group had never run any such ad. She said that last year, the organization held an online ad contest which attracted 175,000 participants and generated more than 1,500 responses, including one that compared the President to Hitler.

Gerlach was apparently able to depict himself as a moderate, or at least that's what his strategy was:
To the contrary, his voting record, especially on environmental issues, gave him ammunition to fight off charges that he was just a shill for national Republicans.

Gerlach was one of just a handful of Republicans to vote against the recent Federal Marriage Amendment.

During a late-October debate, Gerlach pointed to his vote against drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, while the Murphy camp argued that her recent endorsement by the Sierra Club made her a stronger candidate for environmentalists.

Still, even a narrow loss against an incumbent was pretty good in 2004.  WATN?  According to Wiki, In 2009, Murphy "was elected to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, the only Democrat to win election to the court."

12. IN-02: Sigh, these elections simply aren't as fun when you know the names already.  Republican incumbent and future Club for Growth head Chris Chocula only managed to beat his Democratic challenger (some guy named "Joe Donnelly") by ten points in this 43% Kerry district.  If you don't think that's a sign of a weak incumbent and/or a strong challenger, then you might remember the next election cycle, when Donnelly beat him by 8 points.  Chocula had a roughly 2-1 spending edge in both elections, spending $1,447,491 to Donnelly's $706,243 in 2004 and spending $3,415,742 to Donnelly's $1,522,020 in 2006.  (I don't think that includes party money, though.)  Chocola had run as a challenger himself in 2000, then won the seat in 2002 when Democratic incumbent Tim Roemer retired.

Donnelly, an attorney, had previously run for Attorney General, served on the Indiana State Election Board, served on a school board, and run for State Senate.  These are probably familiar figures to y'all, so I won't say too much.  And I actually can't find too much about the 2004 campaign, as opposed to the 2006 campaign.  I guess I can break the emergency glass and steal Darth Jeff's idea of using the Almanac of American Politics.  Here they are, looking back at 2004 and ahead to 2006:

Democrats targeted this district in 2004, but challenger Joe Donnelly raised less than half as much money as Thompson had in 2002. Donnelly, a local businessman, compared himself to Roemer and said that he would be more independent of his party than Chocola had been. But the tone of debate was polite and the DCCC made the district a low priority. Bush narrowly carried South Bend's St. Joseph County and Chocola got 49% of the vote there. With big margins in the southern counties, Chocola won overall 54%-45%. Chocola seems to be in strong shape in this district; Democrats are looking to convince St. Joseph County prosecutor Michael Dvorak to run.
Or, you know, the opposite of that.

13. NC-08: Republican incumbent Robin Hayes racked up a 10-point win in this southern North Carolina district, more or less matching the 54-45 presidential numbers.  Still, the vast majority of incumbents did better.  Hayes vastly outspent his Democratic opponent, Beth Troutman, spending $1,461,679 to her $225,675.  According to Hayes' Wiki, this was only two years after his district had been made more Democratic, including for the first time "a heavily Democratic tendril in Mecklenburg County", and he had a similar win in 2002, also spending a fortune against Democratic challenger Chris Kouri.

Troutman, a native of the district who was only 27 at the time of the election, had gone on to work as a production assistant on "The West Wing".  According to Wikipedia, "Troutman notably received contributions from her West Wing colleague Martin Sheen,[1] although her campaign funding was a small fraction of Hayes's."  And according to Troutman, she entered the race at the suggestion of her father, a local business magnate, who had been contemplating running himself.  As Troutman Sr. somewhat oddly put it:

"If you put a fifty-eight-year-old male against a fifty-eight-year-old male, people can’t tell a difference. But putting Beth in made the race much more high-profiîe. It gave people a clear-cut option. [The D-CCC] and I felt she would make a lot more viable choice as a candidate because of that difference people could see visually, and also in the way Beth presents herself. Her ability to speak publicly, to speak extemporaneously, is superior to most candidates"
(Oh, and Bradley Whitford donated her filing fee.)

Hayes, like many incumbents, was kind of a dick about being challenged:

Troutman criticized Hayes, a three-term incumbent from Concord, for flip-flopping on trade legislation, refusing to vote a pay raise for soldiers and being in the pocket of big pharmaceutical companies.

After praising Troutman's Cabarrus family, the 59-year-old Hayes often scolded the 27-year-old Troutman for not having her facts straight.

"You've got it wrong, Beth," Hayes said at one point during the trade discussion. At another juncture, Hayes said maybe Troutman's "handlers" were feeding her wrong information.

Troutman went on to work as a television host for various programs, while Hayes went on to lose narrowly to Larry Kissell in the next election.  Troutman certainly seems like she was an energetic candidate, but Kouri performed similarly, and perhaps Hayes was simply a weak incumbent, and/or an incumbent who never had a chance to establish himself in his redrawn district.

14. CA-26: Are you ready for this one?  Republican incumbent David Dreier got 53.6% of the vote to 42.8% from his Democratic challenger, Cynthia Mathews, in this 44% Kerry district.  But what could be so interesting about that?

His 2004 opponent, Cynthia Matthews, came out of the closet and demanded that Dreier do the same.
Oh, right, that.  According to Raw Story, who Mathews went to directly (along with an apparently-uninterested L.A. Times), that might be a bit of a simplification, and Mathews might have been a bit more passive-aggressive about this whole thing:
While not rendering judgment on the veracity of the allegations against Dreier – that he has led a closeted 24-year tenure in Congress while concurrently voting against gay civil rights, and that he lived with his chief of staff whom he pays an unusually high salary – Matthews condemned Dreier’s positions on gay issues.

If the allegations are true, she added, Dreier should be ashamed.

“If David Dreier is gay, it is absolutely shameful to me that he would amass a 24-year voting record against his own community,” Matthews said. “I am saddened that David Dreier has voted against funding housing for people with AIDS and that he has denied AIDS medications to impoverished Americans -- those who are most in need of these life-saving drugs.”

[...]

“I am especially concerned about the allegations regarding Congressman Dreier’s decision to pay his chief of staff at a rate higher than those with similar positions and experience,” she said.

Yes, it was all about running a tight fiscal ship, I'm sure.  This was after Dreier had been quasi-outed, according to Raw Story, by the L.A. Weekly and by Mike Rogers.  They also add that Matthews was a former "union engineer" who was "currently pursuing an MBA".  She spent basically nothing on this campaign, spending $25,535 to Dreir's $2,410,332!!

How weird was this election?  The John and Ken show, a conservative Los Angeles radio program, went after Dreier so heavily that the GOP actually "filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission claiming that [they had]made an illegal in-kind contribution to Democrat Cynthia Mathews, Dreiers opponent"!  

Although they went allegedly went after Dreier "on his lack of enforcement of illegal immigration", it's pretty much impossible for me to believe they didn't bring up the whole "outing" thing, or that this all wasn't the major reason for Dreier's relative under-performance, especially given Mathews' Some Dude profile, her lack of campaign spending, and the fact that Dreier's vote share dropped by like 10 points from 2002 to 2004.  

According to the L.A. Weekly, many of the local papers in Dreier's district were owned by a company "whose CEO, Dean Singleton, is a major contributor to Republican campaigns".  And according to Wikipedia, "Dreier did not publicly respond to these charges, which were discussed on local radio programs in his district. At the time, the mainstream U.S. print media did not cover the story".

15. OK-01: Republican incumbent John Sullivan suffered an upset loss in the Republican primary this year, but he might have been a weak candidate anyway.  In 2004, he beat Democratic challenger Doug Dodd 60-38, even though this was a 65-35 Bush district at the same time.  Sullivan spent $1,019,758 to Dodd's $315,464.  This was actually an improvement for Sullivan on the previous election, where he only won 56-42, with a slightly narrower share of spending (although there was more spending in general--Sullivan spent $1,460,177 to Dodd's $545,433), and Dodd did even better than that earlier in 2002 in the special election to replace Steve Largent, when he only lost 44-54.

I can't find too much about this election, but I did find this annoying campaign ad from Sullivan:

As that ad says, Dodd had been on the Tulsa School Board, and had also been a Tulsa-born and Tulsa-educated journalist and lawyer.

But why was Sullivan so weak?  As this message board thread says from Sullivan's Wiki:

A point of contention during Sullivan's re-election campaign in 2004 was his police record. According to opponent Doug Dodd, Sullivan had been arrested four times in the Tulsa area[citation needed]. Sullivan claimed to have only been arrested once. A review by local media concluded he had at least three arrests:[22][23] for assault and battery of an off-duty police officer in 1982, when he was 17 year old,[24] and for public intoxication and disturbing the peace in 1985, while still under-age. His last arrest, at age 27, was due to an outstanding bench warrant issued after he failed to appear in court for a traffic violation.
Still, 2004 was actually Dodd's worst attempt against Sullivan, so I'm not sure this can explain it.  A local conservative blogger who attended one of their debates noted that "John Sullivan's debating skills have improved markedly since his first race for Congress" and that "Doug Dodd was his usual polished broadcast-professional self, for the most part, although he seemed unusually incoherent and inarticulate at a few points, particularly in discussing the Jewish people and the issue of abortion."

What's left?  Oh yeah, KS-02.  Well, I didn't write up HI-02 in my last diary, so I won't write up the 16th one on the list here, either.  But, again, you probably know about those two candidates.

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