I assume Rep. Steve Israel wants to provide political cover for a handful of Democrats who have balked at attending their party’s national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this summer. Either that, or the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — whose mission is to restore a Democratic majority in November with Nancy Pelosi still in charge of the caucus — has begun to feel the same panic that some of his colleagues have experienced at the thought of being associated with Barack Obama’s renomination as the party’s standard-bearer. This morning, Israel told a Reuters conference that every Democrat running for Congress should skip the convention this year:
The Democrat charged with trying to win back the House majority is telling his candidates that it’s OK to skip the party’s national convention.
Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told a gathering hosted by Reuters his advice has nothing to do with President Obama.
“If they want to win an election, they need to be in their district,” Israel said yesterday at the Reuters Washington Summit.
Daniel Halper notes that Israel’s advice may not be all that necessary anyway:
Israel’s advice might not be necessary: already Democrats are staying away. Missouri senator Clair McCaskill won’t be coming; likewise, House Democrat John Barrow of Georgia will be skipping the conference. More Democrats are expected to follow.
Heck, after this statement, many more Democrats will probably follow. Israel said he’d give this advice even if Obama had a “122% favorability rating,” and that candidates should be at home in their districts anyway. But the convention doesn’t last for weeks on end; Democrats will only be in Charlotte for three days rather than the traditional four, due to problems in fundraising. The convention takes place about ten weeks before the election. Will a chance to network with Democrats and their donors for three days ten weeks before the election really be such an issue that it would make or break their election chances? If so, why do Democrats ever show up to their conventions?
Obviously, the issue is in this cycle, and it’s not because they need the room in Charlotte, either. Democrats running for House seats need to distance themselves from party leadership, because Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are going to take another beating in November. This is just a form of permission for House Democrats to head for the lifeboats.