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Chickenhawk Republicans Afraid to take on Democrat Incumbents

Not only are they gutless chickenhawks when it comes to putting on the nation's uniform, but the Republicans are now increasingly afraid to take on Democratic incumbent in next year's election:

After Democrat Joe Sestak captured a suburban Philadelphia House seat from a Republican who had held it for two decades, he never stopped trolling for donations. Now, with a $1.4 million bankroll, he's considered a good bet to retain the seat in 2008.

Sestak, 55, is one of several freshman Democrats who have boosted their chances of hanging onto hard-won seats by using their fundraising prowess to scare off challengers. Others include Michael Arcuri in New York, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire and Dave Loebsack in Iowa.

Republicans' only chance for recapturing the House in 2008 hinges on defeating many of the 30 Democratic freshmen who won Republican-held seats in 2006. Prospects for that are fading as the party struggles to recruit challengers or to match Democrats' strong fundraising.

It sucks to be in the minority doesn't it? You can almost feel sorry for those guys. Former Republican Congressman Jack Quinn sums up the climate of despair in party circles:

"There's no denying Democrats have the momentum. To the victors go the spoils. That includes the fundraising. It's going to be another difficult year for Republicans.''

The war will continue to drag down Republicans as a Rasmussen poll shows that 64% of Americans want to bring the troops home within a year.

Another albatross around the neck of Republicans will be Bush's veto of a bill funding the S-CHIP program according to a CBS poll:

81% favor expanding a government program that "provides health insurance for some children in low-income families;" 15% oppose.

74% say they would be willing "to pay more in taxes in order to fund the expansion of this program;" 17% say they would not.

Swing State Project has a roll call of Republicans in potentially vulnerable districts who walked off the cliff with Bush on this one.

Finally, Steven Stark at Real Clear Politics has an interesting post that explains why a third-party candidacy will sink the Republican's already slim chances at holding the presidency:

But events are conspiring to eviscerate any chance the Republicans have of winning next year. Simply put, the party is fissuring, so if three or four -- not two -- major candidates end up on the fall ballot, the Democrats will win in a walk.

Every 12 years or so, a new independent or third-party candidate gains momentum during an election cycle. Almost always, when these candidacies arise, it's the incumbent party that loses the election. In 2000 with Ralph Nader, in 1992 with H. Ross Perot, in 1980 with John Anderson, in 1968 with George Wallace, and on back through modern-American political history, the lesson of third parties is twofold: they never win and, because their ire is often directed at the status quo -- thus the party holding power -- they damage the candidate of the incumbent party.

It certainly won't help matters for the GOP that this year's splinter candidates will probably come from nominally Republican ranks. The media has focused on New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, but he's actually the unlikeliest of the three to make a third-party bid. The likeliest is current GOP candidate Ron Paul, who already has one independent general-election run under his belt as a Libertarian (in 1988, when he garnered just 0.5 percent of the vote) and would have no trouble making another. As this year's version of Perot, Paul's already shown unexpected grassroots appeal and fundraising ability. And he's so far refused to say he would support the party's nominee, which is always a telling sign.

Not only is Ron Paul likely to make a third-party challenge, but there have been grumblings from the religious right about mounting a campaign of their own if the Republicans nominate the pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani. As the 2000 election demonstrated, even a 1% vote margin for a third-party candidate can swing an election. Let's hope that Ralph Nader stays out of this one.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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