Recently the Rick Larsen (D-WA02) campaign issued a brief press release to say that the embattled 5-term congressman had just met with one of his two opponents from the August primary to, “…discuss the importance of the 2nd Congressional District race.” According to Larsen’s Campaign Manager, Brooke Davis, Diana McGinnes who had captured some 11% of the Democratic vote on August 17th had asked for the meeting so the two could discuss the concerns of those she met during her campaign regarding job creation, holding Wall Street accountable and the significance of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Larsen said of the meeting, “Diana McGinness ran a great campaign focused on issues important to the District. I appreciate her support of my re-election and appreciate that we are united in the goal of moving our country forward.” McGinnes had already announced her support for Larsen’s re-election shortly after the votes were certified on September 3rd.
The meeting between the two candidates is being viewed by some as Larsen’s effort to reach out to the Progressives in the district; some of whom are openly suggesting they will sit out the 2010 race for this congressional seat rather than be faced with another case of voting for the ”lesser of two evils.” Some have even gone as far as suggesting they might vote for Koster to ensure Larsen’s defeat – thereby creating a situation where the state party has no entrenched incumbent to “protect” in 2012. Whether McGinnes’ support will be enough to ensure Larsen’s 6th term in DC won’t be known of course until November but it does seem to illustrate one of the major concerns Democrats nationally; the so-called Enthusiasm Gap.
According to the pundits, Democratic primary voters this year turned out at the lowest rate since the 1930s; while Republicans have, as expected, gained momentum from the new and motivated Tea Party movement. To help counter this trend, Progressive talking heads in the media are making their best “hold your nose and vote” pleas while the national party strategy seems to be telling the voters that, as disappointed as they may be with the current situation, they should remember that it was the previous Republican president and congress that got us here; and that if they are allowed the majority again they would only takes us back to the same policies. Basically their slogan is, “Moving forward slowly is still better than putting us back in reverse.”
While this strategy does seem to be motivating the more centrist base and even many Progressives who express genuine fear of losing even the minimal gains of this administration if the Tea Party becomes any part of the country’s governing mechanism, the Obama Administration itself seems to be acting in a counter-productive manner. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is reviled in Progressive circles for his open disdain for the left wing of the party; with his infamous proclamation that “They have nowhere else to go.” More recently, Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, told The Hill.com that he felt some of the Progressives should be “drug tested” and blasted what he called “the professional left.” Last week, Vice-President Joe Biden appeared on the Rachel Maddow program to offer these encouraging words to Progressives: “Get it in gear man.” And the cherry on the cake was President Obama himself who openly mocked anti-war and pro-Single Payer Healthcare advocates at a DNC fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut. According to Politico 44,
“Democrats, just congenitally, tend to get – to see the glass as half empty,” Obama said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn. “If we get an historic health care bill passed – ‘oh, well, the public option wasn’t there. ‘ If you get the financial reform bill passed – ‘then, well, I don’t know about this particularly derivatives rule, I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with that.’ ‘And gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace, and – I thought that was going to happen quicker.’
As his supporters laughed, Obama added, “You know who you are.”
“We have had the most productive, progressive legislative session in at least a generation,” he continued. “And so I want everybody here to – when you are talking to your friends and your neighbors and your coworkers, I want you to feel good about the support that you’ve provided, because you didn’t send me there to do what was easy; you sent me there to do what was hard. We have tackled some of the hardest problems facing this country and we did so in the midst of crisis, and we are succeeding.”
With just over four weeks until ballots start arriving in mail boxes around Snohomish County, Rick Larsen will be working hard to get the message out there that he deserves another chance to continue to do his job in Congress and hope that he can muster up the enthusiasm and motivation necessary to allow that to happen.