Tag Archives: Dan Boren

Rep. Kildee’s Retirement Should Not Affect Balance

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI-5)

The number of open 2012 US House campaigns grew to 30 over the weekend. Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI-5), who turns 82 years old in September, announced his retirement, saying he will bring his 36-year congressional career to a close when the current Congress ends. Prior to joining the House of Representatives Mr. Kildee spent 12 years in the Michigan state legislature, meaning he has been an elected public official for 48 consecutive years. He becomes the 18th sitting Representative to announce intentions not to seek re-election. Fifteen of these members are running for a different office. Kildee and Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) and Dan Boren (D-OK-2) are retiring from politics. An additional 12 new seats are created via reapportionment.

Michigan Democrats should easily retain the new 5th district because it was designed as a safe seat for Kildee, anchored in the congressman’s home town of Flint. It’s the third most under-populated seat in the state, however, needing to gain 70,845 people.

The new CD 5 will contain four complete counties, Genesee (Flint), Bay (Bay City, bordering Lake Huron Bay in the Thumb Area of Michigan), Arenac, and Iosco. The district also encompasses parts of Saginaw and Tuscola counties. The 64 percent Obama score in 2008 will remain relatively intact, thus removing it from any practical general election competition. Mr. Kildee’s 53-44 winning percentage in 2010 was down from his average of 71.5 percent over his past 17 congressional elections. The new seat is unlikely to get any closer from a partisan perspective, and will probably remain that way for the balance of the new electoral decade.

The Democrats have many choices to replace the outgoing incumbent, including his nephew, Dan Kildee, who is a former Genesee County Treasurer, County Commissioner, and Flint School Board member. He was a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2010 for a short time, but dropped out of the race prior to filing time.

Former Lt. Gov. John Cherry, is from this congressional district and would be a strong candidate should he decide to enter the federal race. He also declined to run for governor even though he appeared to be the consensus Democratic candidate when he decided to discontinue his fledging campaign.

Ex-Rep. Jim Barcia (D-MI-5), hailing from Bay City, served in the House for five terms beginning in 1993. He was redistricted out of his 5th district in the 2001 reapportionment (at that time, Mr. Kildee represented District 9) and proceeded to win election to the state Senate where he served the maximum two four-year terms. The MI-5 Democratic primary base vote is centered in Flint, so any candidate hailing from Bay City has an uphill climb to win the party nomination.

Genesee County Treasurer and former state Sen. Deborah Cherry, sister to the former lieutenant governor, is another potential Democratic congressional candidate. Presumably, the political brother and sister combination would not run against each other in the congressional race, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see one of the two eventually enter the field of contenders.

Republican state Sen. Roger Kahn, also from Saginaw, is the most frequently mentioned GOP potential candidate.

Mr. Kildee’s retirement will not alter the balance of power in the House because the eventual MI-5 Democratic is a virtual lock to win the seat in the general election.
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Carson Reverses Course in Oklahoma

Former Oklahoma Rep. Brad Carson (D), who appeared to be immediately hopping back into the political fray when Rep. Dan Boren (D) announced he would not seek re-election in 2012, has had a change of heart. Mr. Carson, who represented the 2nd district for two terms before running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004, would clearly be the Democrats’ best candidate to hold the seat for the party in the general election. He began sending messages yesterday, however, that he has decided not to run.

OK-2 is the state’s eastern congressional district, anchored by the city of Muskogee – made famous in the 1969 Merle Haggard song, “Okie from Muskogee” – features many towns between 10 and 20,000 people and hugs the entire Oklahoma-Arkansas border. The 2nd is a politically changing district, evolving from the quintessential “yellow dog Democrat” seat to a place that will vote Republican (McCain: 66 percent). Regardless of its partisan context, the region remains habitually conservative.

Sen. Tom Coburn became the first Republican to represent this part of the state in the modern political era when he won the congressional seat in 1994. Pledging only to serve three terms, Coburn retired in 2000 thus opening the door for Carson to re-capture the district for the Democrats. Rep. Boren succeeded Carson in 2004.

The former congressman’s surprise decision not to re-enter national politics next year makes this district highly competitive in the general election and gives the Republicans a strong opportunity to convert the seat. State Sen. Kenneth Corn (D), who was already challenging Carson for the Democratic nomination, is obviously now in a stronger position but the nomination is far from his. Since the Democrats have a large number of state and local officials throughout this region, we can expect a crowded and combative party primary. Republicans don’t yet have an announced candidate, but state Sen. Josh Breechen and state Rep. George Faught continue to be mentioned as likely candidates.

Without Carson in the race, expect activity in both parties to rapidly increase. The OK-2 campaign will likely carry a “toss-up” rating at least through the early going of the 2012 election cycle and probably all the way to Election Day.
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California Congresswoman Woolsey Retires

Today, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) formally announced that she will not seek an 11th term in Congress next year. Woolsey, a former Petaluma, Calif. city councilwoman before coming to Washington, first entered the House in 1992 replacing then-Rep. Barbara Boxer (D) who won election to the Senate that same year.

Ms. Woolsey becomes the 14th House member who is choosing to step aside in 2012, but only the second to retire. The other dozen are running for higher office. Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2) is the only other member who, so far, is voluntarily opting to leave politics.

Congresswoman Woolsey is one of the most liberal members of the House. She is the chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House and has consistently aligned herself on the far left spectrum of the Democratic Party. She came to fame for being the first former welfare recipient to win election to Congress. Since then, another member, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), also claims the same distinction.

The new California redistricting map radically alters Woolsey’s 6th district. Previously anchored in the Bay Area’s Marin County, CA-6 covered only the aforementioned locality and part of Sonoma. Under the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan, the Woolsey district will now stretch all the way from Marin to the Oregon border, taking in a large portion of Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA-1) current territory. The new North Coast district is heavily Democratic but has a considerably different constituency for Woolsey. The congresswoman would likely have held the seat, but she could have been vulnerable in a Democratic primary to a state or local official more familiar with the new district. It does not appear, however, that the re-map is the driving reason why the 73-year-old veteran representative will be walking away from her position.

Considering the major redistricting shake-up that is proving challenging for more than a third of California incumbents from both parties, Woolsey’s retirement is likely the first of several more. Seeing his district split six different ways, House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier (R-CA-26) is a retirement possibility. So are Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA-13), Lois Capps (D-CA-23), Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34). While none of the aforementioned has specifically said they will leave Congress, their new districts will either be substantially different from their current seats, or politically unfavorable to them in a primary or general election. After years of representing safe districts, being thrown into a seriously competitive situation late in their careers may send some or all of these members packing.

Since the Woolsey retirement had been rumored for some time, two Democrats had already begun assembling a congressional campaign, and others will likely follow. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) said he would not run against the congresswoman, but was beginning to raise money for a federal race in case she decided not to seek re-election. Through March 31, Huffman had raised $123,000 for his potential federal campaign.

In addition to Assemblyman Huffman, author and leftwing activist Norman Solomon had also announced his candidacy, once again presuming the Woolsey retirement. He did not file a financial disclosure report in the first quarter.

Now that Ms. Woolsey has made her plans official, expect other state legislators, Marin and Sonoma County local officials, and individuals from the newly added smaller north coastal counties, to seriously consider making congressional bids. Regardless of who eventually wins the Democratic primary in the newly configured district, that person will succeed Ms. Woolsey as the region’s Representative. Should the proposed lines actually become the final district boundaries, rate the North Coast seat as “Safe Democratic.”
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In Oklahoma’s 2nd D, Boren to Retire; ex-Rep. Carson to Run Again

Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2), 37, announced that he will not seek re-election to a fifth term in Congress next year. Mr. Boren, arguably one of the most conservative House Democrats, clearly is part of a minority within a minority, being a right-of-center congressman in an increasingly liberal party conference. Boren says being in Washington and away from his young family, coupled with the time demands of campaigning, are the reasons for his retirement.

Rep. Boren becomes the 14th non-redistricting-related House member to either resign or say they won’t run again, but is the first to do so without seeking higher office or escaping scandal. He will serve the balance of the term and did not say what he plans to do when he leaves the House.

The 2nd district of Oklahoma is one of the most conservative seats held by a Democrat in the United States. Once a “yellow dog” Democrat region, OK-2 trended much more Republican as the previous decade progressed. President Obama could only manage 34 percent of the vote here in 2008, compared to John McCain’s 66 percent. Former President George W. Bush notched 59 percent in 2004, seven points better than the 52 percent he recorded four years earlier.

The 2nd district encompasses the entire eastern quadrant of Oklahoma, beginning at the Kansas border and traveling south all the way to Texas. On the northeast, the seat borders Missouri; Arkansas lies to the southeast. The largest city is Muskogee.

Because Oklahoma had little in the way of population change, their new congressional redistricting plan looks very much like the current map. The new legislation has already been enacted into law. While the 2nd district traditionally elects a Democrat to Congress, in an open seat with an unpopular Barack Obama leading the 2012 Democratic Party ticket, a different result could be realized.

While two early GOP names pop up on the potential candidate list — Josh Brecheen, a state Senator from Coalgate, and state Rep. George Faught — the Democrats already have a likely successor waiting in the wings, and he will run. Former 2nd District Rep. Brad Carson (D), who vacated the seat to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004, announced his congressional comeback attempt next year on the heels of Boren’s retirement announcement. Kenneth Corn, a former state senator and the 2010 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee is also reportedly considering the race, but Carson appears to be the strongest possible Democrat to run in this seat, outside of Boren.

If the president cannot perform better than the 34 percent he scored in his last election, what effect will this have upon Carson’s race? Obviously, there will be a Democratic drag, hence the Republican nominee will have a legitimate chance to win even against the former congressman and Senatorial nominee.
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