Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Republican will not win Congressional District 8

Do the Republicans have a secret card that they believe will help them win the election? I am writing this entry on the eve of what promises to be the most revolutionary change in Congress since 1994, when the formerly Democratic Congress was traded for a republican majority. Now, however, that majority seems poised to all but evaporate. Now is not the time to discuss the merits of the 109th session of Congress. The debate is over. It is far too late for that.

If the polls are right, the Democrats will rise again. One of the most poignant symbols of that is Jim Kolbe's seat in Congressional District 8 in Tucson, Arizona. Kolbe, a Republican who held his seat for 11 terms announced early in the election cycle that he would be retiring. Thus began the campaigning by both Democrats and republicans for what has been a Republican seat since 1985. One might expect that the frontrunner in the election would be Republican candidate Randy Graf. On the contrary, Democratic candidate Gabrielle Giffords, who is leading Graf in the polls by a 15% margin, according to local magazine Tucson Weekly. Is that really possible? It is.

I'd say that District 8 is the most likely district in which a Republican candidate will lose. In an election where many races are very national, the Tucson race is half and half. Tucson is historically more Democratic than Phoenix. Janet Napolitano, the governor is Arizona, is a Democrat. That is partially due to her campaigning in Tucson a significant amount.

Another reason is that some Republicans are wary of Randy Graf. Graf is ultra-conservative. When he beat the more moderate Steve Huffman in the primary, Democrats rejoiced; an outspoken conservative like Graf will alienate the more moderate voters and leave them indecisive about whether or not they should vote for him. Granted, few Republicans are expected to switch to the other side and vote for Giffords, but it is expected that some Republicans just won't vote for a candidate in the District 8 election.

Perhaps one of the most telling signs of Graf's defeat is Republican reluctance to accept Graf as a candidate. His own party has been unwilling to provide Graf with a great deal of support. Even Jim Kolbe was reluctant to endorse Graf; during the primary, Kolbe picked Huffman as the candidate he wanted to win. The GOP seemed particularly split over the primary when the Republican party funded Huffman's advertising campaign. Mike Hellon, another Republican candidate in the primary, angrily told the GOP to stay the hell out of Arizona. The Arizona branch of the Republican party has reportedly abandoned Graf to Giffords. (Scroll down to the middle of the page.) It seems to be almost taken for granted that Giffords will beat Graf.

So while the race to replace Kolbe is very much focuses on national issues like abortion and the Iraqi War, one cannot forget local issues when considering a candidates odds of winning. It is important to remember the local factors that national news may forget in their effort to make the news understandable by the entire country. The possibility that Giffords, a smart Democrat (who was received an education from Tucson's prestigious University High School), could change the face of a Republican stronghold is not only real but visible to the naked eye - and apparently the GOP.

No comments: