"If Republican (candidates) shift to the right, does that leave an opening for Democrats in the general election?"
Pignanelli's response is right on the money.
Additionally, his comment is the definitive answer on why many Utah Democrats will continue to support Jim Matheson as the best choice for the 2nd Congressional District and why many of us believe that he has been a good representative for Utah.
Yes, this poses huge opportunities for Democrats IF they are shrewd and alter their current trajectory.Utah Democrats must stop carping about Matheson and instead market him as a model of how Congress should act: obsession with reducing the deficit, willingness to buck party demands, developing creative solutions, attention to constituent needs, etc.Furthermore, Democrats must articulate inventive but inexpensive reforms to public education and health care entitlements while promoting entrepreneurial activity. Utahns are hungry for the meal that is not on the tea party menu.
The entire column can be read by clicking here.
For all of the things that are wrong with Washington today, the one thing we can and should fix is our skyrocketing national deficit. For as long as I can remember, Congressman Matheson and the Blue Dog Democrats have presented a good plan for Fiscal Reform in our nation.
Some Utah Democrats are angry because our congressman voted against health care. They don't like his record on environmental issues. They say he is not "pro-choice" enough. They don't like the way he votes some of the time and say he is not a "real" Democrat, and that his father would be "ashamed." (For the record, Norma Matheson has assured me that Scott Matheson Sr. would have been proud of Jim's votes, because Governor Matheson was also a fiscal conservative and believed very strongly in responsible government spending. I think it would be reasonable to assume that she is correct about this. It's not fair for anybody else to guess what the governor may or may not have done under similar circumstances.)
Democrats have been called "tax and spend liberals" for as long as I can remember. Accurate or not, we have not done a good job at shaking that label. After all, how many people do you know who *really* like paying taxes? Do Democrats really want to be perceived like that? Why do we allow the definition to continue, even though we all feel the same way? No matter how you look at it, nobody enjoys April 15, or paying taxes, or gets all warm and fuzzy when their tax bill goes up... not even Democrats.
I was reminded the other day by a good Republican friend of mine that when George Bush was in office, Democrats harped about the billions of dollars that were being spent at war while at the same time Republicans were promoting lower taxes. "How does he plan to pay for it," we yelled, and our battle cry was "we are bankrupting our children and grandchildren!" That was not so long ago, it should not be so far from our memory. It is still an issue. Just because Democrats control the White House and the Congress, we should not excuse them from making our budget deficit their number one priority. As a matter of fact, we should be even louder than before.
As Frank put it, Utah Democrats should have an obsession with reducing the deficit. We should alter our current trajectory and make this a major focus of our campaigns, of our platform, and in all of our political discussions. It was important to us until election night 2008. It's disingenuous for us to not like deficits only when they are created by Republicans.
I look forward to your thoughts.