Washington Report: Updates from Capitol Hill

Democrats ready for midterm elections; broadband assistance for small businesses

Democrats Gear Up for 2010

President Barack Obama and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine outlined this week the party’s strategy for the 2010 midterm elections. Ever since Theodore Roosevelt was in office, first-term presidents have lost an average of 28 House seats and 4 Senate seats during the midterms. Democrats are hoping to minimize their losses by running a campaign based on what they’ve accomplished so far with the support of the voters who helped Obama win in 2008.

In a video released on Monday, Obama issued a call-to-action to those voters, urging them to “stay involved.” The special interest groups that “rule Washington,” he warned, are gearing up to put their allies back in power so they can undo what Democrats successes, such as healthcare reform.

“It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again,” he said. “If you help us do that—if you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November—then together we will deliver on the promise of change and hope and prosperity for generations to come.”

David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said that if African Americans turn out en masse as they did two years ago, young voters would be a bonus for Democrats. According to Bositis, a significant number of black voters live in states where there will be some very competitive races for Congress and statewide, where they can make a difference, so Obama’s appeal is a good idea.

“They will still lose some seats, but they’ll do okay,” he said.

Kaine announced on Wednesday that Democrats plan to spend approximately $50 million to woo first-time voters and past supporters. In addition, Democrats will run as the “Party of Results “and bill Republicans as obstructionists who put the needs of Wall Street above Main Street’s.

His prepared remarks reportedly included comments that Republicans also would try to suppress low-income and minority voters from casting ballots this fall, that weren’t delivered. That didn’t stop the GOP from calling foul, however.

“Out of options, the president and his top campaign aide are going back to the Democrats’ worn-out playbook and making false and reprehensible comments accusations of voter suppression,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. “At what point will Chairman Kaine and the Democrats realize that polarizing this country on the lines of race is not only passé, it’s wrong and ineffective.”

Others charged both Obama and Kaine with playing the race card, which Bositis said is ludicrous and suggests that they do not take the problems of race in this nation seriously.

“Social norms in this country have changed to the degree that it’s seriously frowned upon by most decent people to use overtly racist language so they use coded language,” said Bositis. “And clearly their attitude toward Obama and the things they say about him are a reflection of their general attitudes toward black people and those attitudes are negative.”

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