I can understand why it appears on the surface that Rep. Shimkus will cruise through another re-election in 2006. Several changes would have to occur to make that a misguided statement. There’s always hope.
First, the DCCC, the entire Dem Congressional delegation, & all local Party leaders from every county in the 19th CD would have to actively & publicly support the Dem challenger. Unlike the GOP, Dems refuse to do this for challengers.
Second, the County Party leaders would have to include a complete list of Dem candidates on their literature. At present, counties habitually forget someone’s name on the mailers & doorknockers. When they submit the list to the printers for every election, the list is missing a name. That’s easy to do for the local ballots. Therefore, precautions have to be in place to ensure accuracy. It is critical that county leaders require their employees to have every name, in every election, for every presidential & congressional listing, on every unofficial listing, before every printing 100 percent perfect. If the Presidential Election results in a tied race (by whatever calculation), the House of Representatives breaks the tie.
The DCCC would also have to place high value in IL, FL, & OH Congressional races. As part of the 2004 backroom dealing, all the Party principals completely sacrificed them.
Next, the DCCC & state Party "leaders" would have to actively seek out & welcome challengers. Giving up & withholding support because the incumbent says he's term-limited (I'll believe it when it happens. During an interview soon after taking office, he stated that he'd be in Congress 'as long as his constituents see fit to send him back.') is simply wasted opportunity.
After that, the DCCC & state Party leaders would have to view voters in the districts as partially belonging to all political parties. Labeling districts as “solidly" Dem, Rep, or none of the above is disingenuous to all registered voters -- especially those hoping for change. It’s also a myth. Past election results are no guarantee of future results even in a “redrawn, decisively Republican district.” An entrenched “Dynastic Oligarchy” eventually falls. The GOP Committee Chairman, Ken Mehlman, has always known it. The Dems have to realize this as well. KS Party leaders are finally seeing this reality. It can happen in IL. The recent Smithton & DeKalb mayoral races proved that long-term incumbents can lose.
Lastly, the DCCC & local Party leaders would have to hold Rep. Shimkus accountable & be accountable because they need to justify their inaction to the people.
(a) Rep. Shimkus has a lackluster Congressional record (at best) – his BullyPatrol notwithstanding.
(b) During the Shimkus/Bagwell debate in October 2004, Rep. Shimkus mentioned insourcing to increase economic growth in Central & So. IL. He took the opportunity to comment on Olney’s five insourced companies. He didn't mention the German company that wanted to move to NC, nor did he mention the one insourced company that that had already outsourced itself. Localities have their taxpayers fund the financial incentives (e.g., tax increment financing (TIF)) to entice companies to movev into their regions. The same companies also leave the state before the localities can ever realize a return on their investment. In the end, insourced employment opportunities are temporary at best creating permanent outsourced quality of life issues for the residents. The insourcing study is 25 pages. Here's additional research for those with WSJ subscriptions.
(c) Rep. Shimkus is GOP campaign contributions & a vote on the floor (e.g., ANWR drilling, MTBE).
(d) He’s a “yes” man for Rep. DeLay & a recipient for campaign funds from ARMPAC.
(e) He keeps an employee on his payroll yet the person’s guilty of violating the Hatch Act. He sent this same employee to Europe in October 2004.
Throughout the country, political pundits recognize the IL Democratic Party as one of the strongest Dem. parties in the country. In a Congressional race, that in-state strength means nothing unless the Party leaders work with the DCCC. Unfortunately, the Party refuses to have anything to do with Congressional candidates. They leave the game of "Let's Make a Deal" to the incuments.
Many constituents in the 19th CD wanted nothing more than to see Rep. Shimkus voted out of office. They still do. There are voters in the 12th CD that want to move just to vote against Rep. Shimkus. Dr. Tim Bagwell was the best opportunity for that to occur in 2004. He's not in the pockets of special interest groups. The NRA gave him an "A" (they don't give Dems an "A"). He's a DPA & not a rich LLB or JD. He's new blood & not old school politics as usual. He's a man of the people to fight for the people.
Instead, all the 2004 Dem challengers -- except Melissa Bean -- were never even supposed to run due to the backroom dealing. Rep. Shimkus knew this. He campaigned for Justice Karmaier, not himself, during the entire 2004 Election Cycle. Why not? There was no reason to waste his time & resources on a guaranteed win. This type of political micromanaging from the “leaders” creates fissures in the Party, & they grow wider with every election. By 2010, they'll be irreparable. Rep. DeLay & Rove are counting on it.
Except for Christine Cegelis receiving 44%, every 2004 IL Congressional challenger received an average one-third of the vote. Already this year, the DCCC is actively recruiting men only -- completely ignoring Christine's 2004 44% & $167,000. She’s a candidate for Rep. Hyde’s open seat. She shouldn’t have to be a male lawyer or millionaire willing to self-finance until the DCCC says she’s “good” enough to support. Raising lots of money is always an issue. It shouldn’t be an excuse. As we’ve seen in the past, a candidate can raise millions & still lose. Therefore, spending it wisely is the real key.
The Dem Party is in the minority for a reason. The DCCC & the local Dem Party "leaders" have to give the voters a reason to vote for the Party representative. Instead, another lawyer has filed with the FEC to represent the 19th CD, & the DCCC is "out to lunch" as usual. Dr. Bagwell could be working on an alternative strategy. The latest scuttlebutt is that he’s in Washington drumming up money for his PAC. I also hear that not only is he not ruling out a 2006 Congressional run, he is gathering challenger candidates together from all around the U. S. to help all the "can't-possibly-win candidates" win.
In the end, a man who should've never been elected represents the 19th CD. To the chagrin of a majority of voters, he'll remain in office until he's assured of winning a state office (e.g., treas, SOS, gov) or receives a direct order from the spouse to stay off The Hill & stay home.
Until the DCCC & the entire IL Dem Party stop the backroom-dealing, ignoring potential candidates, & engage in some massive brainscrubbing, members of the Democrat Party will remain in the minority on The Hill & continue to reduce their numbers in local elections. Business-as-usual politicking is unacceptable for one simple reason:
The real “losers” – The public trust.