Cillizza: GOP Taking the Fight to Top Democrats in 2010

BY Jason M. Breslow  May 14, 2010 at 10:14 AM EST

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza stopped by the Rundown to provide some details on his story explaining how the Republican game plan for retaking control of the House of Representatives includes targeting some of the most powerful and entrenched Democratic leaders.

Pointing to the Democratic primary defeat of longtime W.Va. Rep. Alan Mollohan this week, Cillizza said that incumbency, which has long been viewed as a huge help for politicians re-election efforts, is instead starting to be viewed as a liability this election year.

“The seniority that usually accrued to the benefit of these lawmakers is actually hurting them as people are essentially fed up with Washington,” Cillizza said. “They don’t want people who have been there very long. So what I think you’re seeing is the leading edge of a Republican message which is a ‘throw the bums out message and let’s start with these guys who’ve been there too long.’”

Some of these Democrats are in competitive districts, Cillizza and colleague Paul Kane report, but are not used to facing a serious challenge. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin announced last week he would retire while facing a Republican challenger, joining a handful of other veteran Democrats who are calling it quits.

In particular, the GOP has gone after half a dozen or more committee chairmen who had not faced stiff competition in years. It is a double-barreled approach: Republicans think the threat of energetic challengers will propel some veterans into retirement, making for easier pickup opportunities. Or, should they choose to run, the Democrats might find themselves with deteriorated campaign skills, making them vulnerable in what amounts to their first tough race in the YouTube era.

Cillizza also introduced us to a new feature on his blog, The Fix: a collection of state-level politics blogs from across the country called the Washington Post Blog Network. The network hosts independent political blog content from across the country so that readers can see for themselves what trends and narratives are shaping politics at the most important level – the local level.