The re-election contest involving Missouri Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) continues to receive national attention. Completing his third term in a safely Democratic urban-based district (Cook Partisan Index D+7) where President Obama beat Republican John McCain by 21 points, Carnahan’s re-election shouldn’t be on anybody’s radar. Except it is.
Late last week, the influential Cook Political Report recognized the contest as having enough upset potential to bear watching, one of 25 contests nationally to get a pro-Republican rating change. House analyst David Wasserman called this contest Carnahan’s “first tough reelection,” noting that Republican challenger Ed Martin started the year with nearly as much campaign cash as the incumbent. The contest’s rating is still “likely Democrat,” but this is the first step in the evolution of ratings changes. Note that several Republican seats that Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 were still rated “safe Republican” at this time in those years.
MISSOURI: Ed Martin, a Republican challenging Rep. Russ Carnahan for his seat, releases a dramatic-sounding Web ad branding Carnahan “Rubber Stamp Russ” and linking his image with those of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
The video presents a compelling contrast of Martin’s conservative values and history of fighting for Missouri jobs with Carnahan’s lock-step support for the leftist agenda of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama. As I blogged last July, Congressional Quarterly listed Carnahan as the congressman who supported Obama’s agenda the most, with a 100% rating, earning him the title “Rubber Stamp Russ.” Highlighted in the ad is Carnahan’s vote for cap and trade and a stimulus bill which awarded his own brother taxpayer money for a wind farm. It also points out his unwillingness to listen to the people of his district even at his own town hall.
The same day that NBC’s Todd took note, the Republican National Congressional Committee announced its recognition of Martin’s campaign as a Contender, the second stage of its Young Guns program. Martin had been recognized by the NRCC as “On the Radar” since October. He earned the promotion by exceeding NRCC benchmark goals for a successful campaign. These efforts included his Town Halls on healthcare and jobs, his meet and greets with voters of the district, and successful fundraising. Being a Young Guns “contender” may attract attention from national contributors.
Carnahan received negative national attention last summer when national cable news broadcast video of his gaffes in a health care town hall, as well as McArthur Bakery’s electronic sign protest of Carnahan’s vote for the job-killing cap and trade bill. Cable news also broadcast video of the mele outside another Carnahan town hall when Carnahan supporters from SEIU assaulted an independent vendor and a woman photographing the assault.