My good friend the Archpundit may not be willing to have the Cegelis debate again, but now that the general election is over it's time for me to wade back in.
First, I gotta ask the following: Had Christine Cegelis been the Democratic nominee who lost the general election, would Peter Roskam somehow be more of the Representative of the 6th District? Could he have been elected as some sort of Super-Representative if he had beaten a grassroots candidate? Would he get two votes in Congress?
So please don't tell me about how the Democratic nominee "came close."
As someone who's candidate "came close" in the primary, let me assure you that "close" doesn't count for squat. Close or not, the Republican candidate still won the damn election. Had Christine been unopposed by Dems Inc. in the primary, the worst case scenario, the absolute worst case scenario, would place us exactly where we are today -- with right-wing, extremist Peter Roskam as Rep-elect for the 6th District.
But that hypothetical loss would not have come at the cost of alienating anti-war Democrats and undermining the grass-roots Democrats in the 6th Dist/DuPage County.
During the primary, some new names and faces rose up as hard charging activists -- on the Internet and IRL -- through the Cegelis campaign. But very few of them were heard from during the general election campaign.
Some of them were no doubt turned off by the DC Dem's ham-fisted power-play -- not everyone loathes Peter Roskam enough to bite their tongue, swallow their pride and fall in line behind the nominee like I did -- but even more of them were not just turned off by the Duckworth campaign, but actually turned away. Repeated efforts to reach out to the nominee's team were rebuffed -- often in the snidest and snottiest terms.
I don't know if they were embarrassed because their primary race was razor close or if they simply have no respect for grassroots workers, but the early message from the Duckworth team was crystal clear. It couldn't have been clearer if the folks in the nominee's camp literally said, "We don't need Cegelis workers. We don't want Cegelis volunteers. Fuck you and fuck off!"*
And please don't tell me about how much the 6th Dist race drew GOP resources and money from other races that the Democrats won. That was purely the function of the money that Dems Inc. poured into the race. That money that was raised by the party, as the party, not by the nominee's personal fundraising prowess. The DCCC could have distracted and annoyed the GOP by expending a similar amount of money whether the candidate was Tammy Duckworth, Christine Cegelis or a McDonald's Happy Meal.
But the Happy Meal, although an actual 6th District Resident, would not have had deep and dynamic grassroots support. Christine Cegelis did. The nominee did not.
And so, the 6th District race was run by the professionals -- the people who know what it takes to win an election.
We all now know the results.
With a shoe-string budget, Christine Cegelis got 44% of the vote against Henry Hyde in 2004. In 2006, Dem Inc's candidate got 47% of the vote against the Republican party's non-incumbent, right-wing extremist.
A meager gain of just 3% -- in an election marked by a nation-wide Democratic tidal wave.
Do I think Christine Cegelis could have done better?
You're damn right I do.
*I did deal with one very pleasant Duckworth person via the internet very late in the campaign.
UPDATE: There are more comments and some remarks from Michael in Chicago over at SoapBlox.
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- You Want To Know About the 6th District. I'm Here...
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