Skip to comments.Beware of Ignoring "Safe" Districts in a Crazy Election Cycle
Posted on 09/10/2018 8:22:15 PM PDT by jfd1776
By John Di Leo -
Reflections on the fall campaign, for fellow conservatives others may find this inside baseball boring, and are welcome to disregard
In 1994, Congressman Dan Rostenkowski had been in Congress for 36 years. First elected to his solidly Democrat Chicago district in 1958, he could not possibly lose, and rose to great power in the House of Representatives. By 1994, he had been chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee for over a dozen years.
His power was unparalleled; his seat secure until the House Post Office Scandal erupted, and he became the very poster child of Americas fury at the haughty, entitled Democrat regime that had ruled the House for 40 years without a break. When November, 1994 finally arrived, even this un-defeatable lion of Congress went down in flames.
Even that, however, could not have happened if there hadnt been somebody else on the ballot for the public to choose. Luckily for the Republicans and for the voters Michael Patrick Flanagan had filed as a sacrificial lamb candidate in this impossible district. As 1994 shaped up to be a possible shakeup year, he worked harder and harder, making a victory possible despite the impossibility on paper of such a win.
Congressman Flanagan only lasted a single term; he lost two years later when the voters fury had abated and the Democrats ran someone not named Rostenkowski (He was replaced, in fact, by Rod Blagojevich, whom the voters later had reason to regret for a host of fresh reasons).
But Flanagan was there long enough to be a part of the revolution of 1994. He helped the GOP retake the House for the first time in 40 years, and paved the way for a dozen straight years of Republican majorities.
The important lesson today is that this was only possible because a candidate filed in an impossible district, and made an effort, so he was able to take advantage of an opportunity a wave, if you will when the opportunity presented itself.
The Challenges of 2018
Like those of 1994, the elections of 2018 are midterm elections. Midterms do have certain similarities with a different electorate than in presidential years, they are generally more dependent on each partys base, and parties use the popularity of the incumbent president to stir up their rank-and-file in support or opposition. Such years usually go against the presidents party, either in a small way or a very big way, as in 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
But even so, there are certain truths that do not vary from cycle to cycle:
Assumptions can become reality if enough people believe them. Party identification doesnt mean a thing if you dont actually cast your vote. You cant win if you dont run. Just like in a lottery, even if the odds make victory look impossible, somebody has to win, so its worth trying. 2018 is largely expected to have some kind of blue wave. Most pundits believe the November election to be a net gain of some kind for the Democrats nationwide; the only question is whether its big or small.
As a result of this expectation thats all it is at this writing, an expectation there are certain seats that gain all the attention, the swing seats, the seats that could go either way, so both parties work hard there. If its a big wave, many of these may go Democrat. If its a small wave, fewer will, and the effort to hold them will keep them in Republican hands.
But Democrats and Republicans dont always learn the lessons of history, and in particular, Republican voters in Illinois have an abundance of dangerous complacency.
Take Chicagos northwest suburban area, currently represented by State Representative Tom Morrison and State Senator Tom Rooney, for example. Both are well-known and well-liked, both are mainstream Republican legislators. They are working hard, and theres no reason on earth to toss them out. And because it is considered such a safe Republican area, the average voter particularly, the average base voter would never dream theres a chance of them losing. So we get complacent.
But this is also a district that was represented in Congress by Philip M. Crane for 35 years, until he lost to an aggressive leftist who campaigned as a moderate and took advantage of a favorable year to stage an upset. With the exception of the one term in which the district was represented by Joe Walsh, thanks to Joes hard work and the favorable 2010 winds, this has amazingly become a safe Democrat congressional district.
Democrats understand this dynamic well. They leave far fewer opposition safe seats unchallenged than Republicans do. And they have two awful leftists but hard-driven campaigners challenging these two safe Republican seats.
Hopeful for a blue wave, or even just hopeful that Republican complacency will be enough, Morrisons and Rooneys Democrat challengers have been flooding the area with mailings all summer (this writer has received as many as four expensive full-page, full-color mailings from these Democrat challengers in a single week). Theyre the typical vague hogwash we have come to expect: to paraphrase, they make the stirring arguments that the Republicans are out of touch, the Republicans are old fuddy-duddies, the Republicans dont really care about you, etc. etc.
But the message isnt even the key, its the motivation: Why do the Democrats pour so much money into such a district, one that is virtually impossible on paper?
Because they know that sometimes you can win an unwinnable race and that statement has a corollary: sometimes, you can lose an unlosable race, too.
Republicans in Illinois are dispirited as they have never been before. With no president on the ballot, and a governor heading the ticket this fall who is usually right on economics but lousy on everything else, Republicans dont feel motivated to go out and vote. In swing districts, they may understand the need, and show up anyway. But in the districts where Republicans cant possibly lose, just enough voters may stay home out of frustration with the party, out of anger at the governor, and out of complacency that the good ones like Morrison and Rooney cant lose, so they dont really need my vote.
And from such thinking comes the reality lesson: If everyone says the candidate doesnt need their vote, then by 9:00pm on election night, it will be painfully obvious that their votes were indeed needed after all.
There is no such thing as a guaranteed result. Anything is possible in politics. Thats what these ultra-left Democrat challengers are counting on.
So this fall, if youre working hard in swing districts, thats great but dont forget to work hard in the absolute certain Republican districts too.
Even a seat that cant be lost can indeed be lost if you spend all your time in other districts, and forget to re-elect that "safe" incumbent due to complacency.
If you vote Republican in presidential years, there is simply no excuse to stay home in a midterm year. The candidates need your vote just as much this year maybe more.
Copyright 2018 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer, writer, and actor. A former campaign activist and onetime Republican County Chairman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he has now been a recovering politician for over twenty years (but, like any addiction, youre never really cured). His columns are regularly found in Illinois Review. Use the tool on the left margin of the web page to obtain a free subscription to Illinois Reviews article notices!
Just be sure to get out and vote, don’t get complacent.
Republicans should consider every district as ‘at risk’ districts and not take any chances. Such laziness and arrogance could be terribly costly.
Yesterday, a couple of people from the democrat party stopped by our house. Haven’t seen republicans do that. Haven’t seen any of them do it in a long time.
Nothing I can add! Other than VOTE on November 6!
I chased off a woman doing it yesterday. Her candidate is a Bernie/Pocahontas wacko.
The democrat who they have running for Paul Ryan’s seat has a criminal record. No way.
sorry i am so cynical
I will talk to friends, acquaintances and rels...vote, talk to your buddies, and be certain that THEY vote.
Overconfidence is our enemy, keeping congress is our goal.
We can never forget just how fantastic we felt on election day in Nov 2016. We can't let the Dems have that.
This whole Election is “at risk” and should be the highest priority for voting...
Republicans need to be extra motivated to get out the vote and get their friends out. The Marxists are really upset they lost last time. Really, really upset and they will be pulling out all of their dirty tricks and illegal voters that will have to be overcome.
I live in the Marxist paradise of California.
Last primary election we had shenanigans at our polling place.
We had 3 people living at the same address for 25+ years, registered with 2 different political parties. All 3 had to vote by provisional ballot. We had never had that happen before. The only thing we all had in common was that we voted for President Trump in the 2016 election.
So, long story short, we just got notices in the mail telling us we have no polling place. WE HAVE TO VOTE BY MAIL. I agree with you. I DO NOT TRUST POSTAL EMPLOYEES OR democrats with counting Republican votes.
And another thing:The MSM and dems go on and on and on about Russian "meddling"in our elections?
Has anyone even bothered to look into why there are tens of thousands (or maybe even more !) people registered to vote in both Los Angeles county and San Diego county than there are persons WHO ACTUALLY LIVE IN THOSE COUNTIES?
Phil Crane was complacent about campaigning, ignored warnings about his polling numbers sinking and refused to come home and campaign for reelection.
Dan Rostenkowski had been redistricted and faced primary challengers in the newly created 5th district. His scandals did not sit well with his new constituents. Some sources have also suggested that certain Democratic committeemen did not go all in for Rosty in their wards (one in particular was ready to promote Blagojevich as soon as Rostenkowski was defeated).
When Trump declassifies the FISA docs, all bets will be off.
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