The latest on David Wu

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's been a couple of weeks since we've talked about David Wu here at BlueOregon, so here's a news round-up:

Update: I just came across a fascinating piece that ran over the weekend in the Daily Beast (which is in the midst of a merger with Newsweek.) In the piece by Eugene journalist Winston Ross, former Kulongoski chief-of-staff Peter Bragdon remembers an interview with David Broder (who passed away earlier this month.) In that interview, Broder asked Governor Kulongoski about Wu:

"Broder sits down for the interview, and says 'Before we get started, I just want to ask you one question,' " Bragdon said. "'What is wrong with David Wu?' "

Broder, like lots of people familiar with the congressman's career in office, asked the governor that question long before Wu's latest spate of oddball antics, because like many who pay close enough attention to politics, he knew Wu was troubled way back then.

"This is nothing new, and it's not about a tiger suit," Bragdon said. "What does it tell you when the leading political reporter in the country, known for being aggressively neutral, is questioning his effectiveness?"

At the same time, Bragdon notes, Wu is going to be a tough opponent for any prospective challenger:

Bragdon says he's skeptical about [the prospect of a primary challenge], given that it's a big risk for a Democrat to try to unseat a sitting congressman in a primary. They may be giving up a post they already occupy, or if they lose against a man with so many seeming weaknesses, they could mar their own political futures.

"Raising funds as a challenger is a difficult thing," Bragdon said. "And I think a lot of times people misunderstand what a formidable candidate (Wu) can be, how hard he'll work." ...

Bragdon adds that Wu could "wind up a sympathetic candidate," connecting with voters who know how hard it is to raise kids and that "congressional life is a pressure cooker."

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    I wish that I could see who, if anyone, shows up for the fundraiser. My initial reaction when I got the invitation was he must still be on his drugs. Raising money from lobbyists in DC might work, but who is going to give him money in his district at this point.

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      Politics is a funny business. It is not at all certain that he won't recover from this and there are always people who wouldn't mind having a congressman who remembers they stood with him when times were tough.

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    That's true Jack- and just because someone gives $100 bucks to Wu now doesn't lock them in later if he has a contested primary. The bigger test will be how his first quarter numbers look.

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    I just updated the post with an excerpt and link from a fascinating piece in the Daily Beast.

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    I owe much of my political awakening to the Congressman. I observed his ability to attract and hire great staff and create a winning campaign. The ex-staffers are great people and are spread out over the political terrain. I certainly measure campaign effectiveness from this experience.

    Typically, the Congressman’s campaigns are well run, they identify the voter support, and they turn out the vote. And, he is able to get 10% of the Republican vote, something that is difficult to do in Oregon, and which implies a broad support with the voters.

    The 2010 race was an exception. I don’t think anyone should assume the problems will be repeated for 2012.

    I believe it will take at least a $1M for a challenger to win in the primary. Most of the tentative candidates are unprepared to raise that kind of money and seem totally unaware of the task ahead of them. We all may wish that money was not the issue but it will be for the foreseeable future.

    The Congressman has a few more months of fundraising. If he fails to meet the national goals, we should expect the DCCC to enter the fray. Pelosi is able to influence national donors and provide seed money for a real contest. If that happens, you will hear the screams and protests of the activists as they complain about the out-of-state influence. Think Merkley/Novick for an example.

    I’m going to guess that the DCCC has more important races to worry about and that a bunch of underfunded primary challengers will have almost no impact. Possibly Bragdon is right and there will be an increase in sympathy vote from the non-activists for an embattled Congressman.

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    David Wu has no chance in the next election. When the campaign goes negative(and it will go negative very quickly), there will be too many incidents to defend. He won last time because there was not an effective campaign plan. That won't be repeated next time. In addition, he has lost nearly all of his best staff in a publicly embarrassing way. That alone will be used against him in a campaign. He would do his party a favor by resigning and allowing someone else to have the position until the next election.

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      A technical note: Should Wu resign, the seat would be filled through a special election. It could happen pretty quickly - 3-4 months - but during that time the seat would be vacant.

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    Those are good points Steve, and its possible the sympathy raises his support, if nothing else comes out. But new bits seems to be constantly rolling out and eventually voters could feel more embarrassment from his representation- he reflects on them. I disagree it would take $1M.

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      The last half a dozen efforts in Oregon to use negative campaigning have failed miserably for us. Some of the blame for our losses has been the use of negative messaging that appeals to activists. We are finding that voters are tuned out and just do not believe the negative information. In one case, polling showed the negative message actually stuck on the wrong candidate. Goli Ameri, and incredible fundraiser and almost ideal candidate, tried a desperate negative campaign and lost by a 20 points. She came off as shrill and untrustworthy.

      An underfunded campaign run by a rag tag team of novices will get 18 pts. Without a top quality staff and lots of TV time, the outcome will still be the 18 pts that an underfunded and untested candidate will get without even trying. I stick by my prediction. A challenger needs $1M and a positive message.

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        The last half a dozen efforts in Oregon to use negative campaigning have failed miserably for us.

        Steve, I wholeheartedly disagree with that assessment, though I've heard it many, many times before.

        Perhaps we like to remember winning campaigns as positive ones, and losing campaigns as negative ones. (That would befit human nature - people like to think we win when we talk about our better angels, and that we lose when we get a little nasty.)

        But here's the recent history: The Kitzhaber campaign went negative on Dudley. The Schrader campaign went negative on Bruun. And the Merkley campaign went negative on Gordon Smith.

        Now, I happen to be one of those people that believe that politics is about drawing a contrast between what you're going to do and what your opponent is going to do -- and I don't have a problem with going "negative"; as long as "negative" is defined as sharing true information that your opponent would prefer not to share that is based on facts and data.

        (Of course, when a campaign goes "negative" by making up BS about their opponent, as happened on our side a few times this last cycle; or slamming your opponent for a position that you yourself share, which also happened on our side at least once -- well, that's wrong. But that's not "negative", that's either lying or hypocrisy.)

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          Isn’t the ambiguity of the English language wonderful? I appear to have a slightly different filter for negative campaigns and I don’t react negatively to compare-and-contrast of policy or record. I’m concerned with a slightly different kind of negative campaign that attacks character and associations.

          The Adamson/Wingard race comes to mind. Nine literature mailings yielded 30% recognition of the issue, an angry response, an alienation of the base, and disbelief. We might not have ever run that race, but some of us never want to meet another angry voter at the door. There are a several more of these case studies and you mentioned a couple of them.

          A challenger to the Congressman will have to do a lot more than attack character. The Goli Ameri case is worth looking at. She was an attractive and articulate candidate, well-educated and exotic, and seemingly a good fit for the district. She raised so much money she became a national phenomenon. And, she lost.

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            Opps. We might not have ever won that race, but some of us never want to meet another angry voter at the door.

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            Steve, a primary opponent will not have to run negative, they will just let the press do the job for them, and they will. All the candidate has to do is say that David lacks credibility and will be defeated by the Republican candidate.

            By the way, I do not know if you were involved at the time of David's first campaign, but he won by running a negative campaign against his primary opposition. I know, because I got the angry responses at the door when I campaigned for him. David's claims were both negative and slanted, but he won.

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              Goli Ameri let the Oregonian carry the negative message but as her poll numbers slipped, her campaign went negative. The Ameri/Wu debate was painful to watch. Some of the women in the audience stood up and turned their back to Ameri after her strident remarks.

              Your primary strategy will work if the national donors stop supporting the Congressman and the DCCC abandons him as well. We are not there yet. If this case develops, you will see one really well funded challenger and possibly a bunch of also-rans.

              Prior to GWB, I did not know of the existence of Democrats in Washington County. I had given money to Furse but I have no recollection of a contested primary for her replacement. It must have been interesting to a handful of activists. The race was pre-Internet and I’m surprised anyone remembers the primary.

              I have since met one of the primary candidates. I really like her and would work for her were she to run for office again. However, I suspect the 1998 primary race was one of equals and none with a lot of money. Defeating a well-known incumbent with a pile of money will be a different kind of race.

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