Monday, May 15, 2017

Three reasons why we should keep Heck in Congress

National Precinct Map by Decision Desk HQ

Or, rather, three reasons why the nascent movement to oust centrist Democratic Rep. Denny Heck is a bad idea.

Tomorrow night there will be a meeting at Traditions in Olympia to talk about the idea of ousting Rep. Heck from Congress. The reasons are what you might expect, that Heck isn't as liberal as we need Democrats to be to really change our country:

The banking and insurance industries are bankrolling his campaign, and he gets the vast majority of his support from the business community. If we are ever going to achieve the progressive change our nation and world so desperately needs, then we are going to have to replace Trump, the Republicans, and corrupt establishment Democrats in Congress with representatives who will reject corporate money, stand up to corporate power, and put people over profits.
Whether Rep. Heck represents "the people" or progressives in general, his only real job is to represent his constituents. And, it's an open question whether his brand of politics is a fair representation of the WA10. Though geographically centered on Olympia, the 10th stretches up into Pierce County, mostly around Joint Base Lewis McChord. So, if any anything defines the WA10, it isn't the culture of liberal Olympia, it is the institution of the military.

A Republican could win in the WA 10. Or, at the very least, a conservative independent could.

1. Since 2012, Heck really hasn't been challenged.  Despite Pierce County supplying a steady stream of down ticket Republicans to challenge Heck, they've all been underfunded. In three elections, he has far out-raised his Republican opponents. I mean far outstripped.

Despite getting close to 60 percent in two Presidential cycle elections (2012, 2016), he has never broken 60. Also, his one off cycle election (2014) Heck got 54 percent, despite out-raising his opponent by over $1.5 million.

You could assume that given a better financed conservative opponent, he'd be in trouble.

2. The WA10 is slightly (I mean ever so slightly) more conservative than the state of Washington. 

If you take every statewide candidate last year and look how they did in the WA10, conservative candidates did .38 percent better than their statewide returns. This doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. But, in a Presidential year when there were certainly more Democrats going to the polls, Republicans did better in WA10 than they did statewide. This isn't saying a lot, but it does underline that the WA10 is less liberal than it should be for a safe Democratic congressman.

3. Independents in Thurston County

This is a sort of constant theme for me, but conservatives can win countywide races in Thurston County. If they drop the Republican label. Sure, typically, Congressional races are much more partisan than county commission races with national party organizations having a ton of input. But, with identified independents in Washington becoming the largest single group in the state, why not run a conservative independent against Heck?

So, imagine a world where a well-funded progressive knocks off Denny Heck in the primary and runs to the left off another well-funded conservative running as an Independent. In this world, I could see the WA10 flipping from a somewhat safe (if ignored) congressional district for a Democrat to one represented by a conservative.

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