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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Craig Scandal Hurts GOP

After decades of snarky Republican comments besmirching the masculinity of Democratic politicians, Dems can hardly be blamed for a little schadenfreude, watching Republicans squirm when members of their ranks are outed for various transgressions of their much-trumpeted “family values.”
On sober reflection, however, there is probably not much benefit for Dems in the latest GOP scandal involving Senator Craig. For one thing, if Craig resigns, Idaho has a Republican Governor. And, guilty or innocent, Senator Craig will likely be replaced by another Republican, as Stuart Rothenberg reports:

Even though it’s an open seat, Democrats still face a very difficult bid in Idaho. George W. Bush won the state with 67% in 2000 and 68% in 2004, behind only Wyoming and Utah. Idaho hasn’t gone Democratic for President since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 when Barry Goldwater (R) won only a handful of states. The last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race was legendary Sen. Frank Church (D) in 1974. But he lost reelection six years later.

MSNBC’s national affairs writer Tom Curry speculates that the scandal may even help Republicans — “Perhaps he will opt for retirement and open the way for another Republican to run for his seat.” But Curry also notes:

…Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network said “the direct impact of this is that its going to mean a couple of million dollars early” for [Idaho] Democratic Senate contender Larry LaRocco.
…Among Democratic donors nationwide, Rosenberg said, “There’s an enormous amount of money waiting to be deployed. This race goes to the front of the pack in Democratic Senate fundraising.”

While it may seem unlikely that there will be a Senate seat pick-up for Dems in Idaho, the cumulative piling on of GOP disasters could give LaRocca an unexpected edge. Barring the revelation of conclusive proof that Craig was somehow “framed,” the incident will further tarnish the GOP’s image and brand it as the party of hypocritical intolerance. The more Craig protests, the longer the media speculation about his past continues, and he becomes the GOP’s unwelcome poster boy for “family values.”

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